The Return

I have returned! I am nestled back safely on my couch in Australia, with my dog panting on the floor, and the sun setting over the mountains. During my sojourn in Japan, I saw many glorious sights: temples, skyscrapers, centuries-old castles, decades-old recreations of castles, and lots of stone Buddhas wearing little knitted hats and scarves. I strolled through museums, and wandered through pachinko parlours. I have ridden upon the bullet train. I have peed upon the bullet train. Which is to say, I have peed whilst riding upon the bullet train. It was great trip, but it’s good to be home.

And, of course, while I was away, on January 11, 2012 Anno Domini, The Rook was unleashed upon the United States of America.

I think that, when your first novel comes out, it’s probably a good thing to be in a country where the book is not going to be available, and you don’t have a phone that will let you obsessively check your e-mail every five minutes. Why, I would say that whole hours went by when I didn’t try to find some opportunity to check the internet. And, as luck would have it, there are astoundingly few temples and castles which provide you with facilities for checking the internet.

But despite my lack of constant observation, lots of stuff kept happening. In fact, it’s been an extremely busy three weeks.

Firstly, a few items were released upon the world wide web, to accompany the release of The Rook. And I shall provide you with links to see them. Behold:

On John Scalzi’s website, at ,  there’s an interview with me regarding the ‘big idea’ that spawned The Rook.

At the website Largehearted Boy, located on the internet at , you can read my playlist for The Rook, and coming up with that was a unique experience.

And there have been some nice reviews, which is great.

CNN identified The Rook as one of its Hot Reads for Summer, putting it next to two of my absolute heroes, William Gibson and Bernard Cornwell. Upon seeing this (at ), my brain exploded with a sharp detonation, prompting complaints from the cleaning staff of the hotel.

MTVGeek described the book as ‘Downton Abbey with superpowers’ which is a phrase that I am going to insist be inscribed on my tombstone. (

Monsters and Critics said some good things at

And the IE Mommy at made me blush with satisfaction.

There have been some other very nice reviews, but I shall have to bring them to the next blog, or this will just be a list of reviews, and I want to tell you about exciting stuff that has been happening in Australia.

To begin with, there were extracts from The Rook published in The Herald-Sun and The Adelaide Advertiser, both prominent newspapers for those of you who don’t live in Australia. And, on iTunes Australia, The Rook was the book of the week!

And stuff keeps happening! Tomorrow, my excellent local bookstore, Dymocks in Civic, is hosting a book-launching event ( . This is my very first public appearance as an author! I am only mildly petrified, but it will help me work out all my panic-impulses, which is very good because the day after tomorrow, Impact Comics, the store I have haunted since my childhood, is hosting a signing event ( , please RSVP if attending.)

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Happy New Year! It is 2012, the Year of the Dragon, the year of the Aztec apocalypse, the year of (dare I say it?) The Rook! The book is coming out in about ten days, and I have already received extremely exciting e-mails from various friends, advising that they have received e-mails from various quality-book purveyors, and that their copies are already on the way. So, copies of The Rook are actually in transit at this very moment, gliding their way through the system. They are out in the world. And soon they will be in people’s hands.

I, however, won’t at that point be seeing them in people’s hands, because on the fateful day, I shall be in Japan, attending a friend’s wedding and then touring about the country. And I have to admit, I very nearly wasn’t going to be. Two days ago, one week before I mount the silver bird, I realized that my passport was actually expired.

A few brisk nervous breakdowns ensued.

As one of my friends brightly remarked, “At least there’s no weekends or public holidays between now and th — Oh. Oh dear.” Once I’d been resuscitated, I was on the phone to the Passport Office (twenty minutes before they shut for a long weekend), making some frantic arrangements and apologizing profusely. Tuesday, I go in for my passport interview and pay the (idiot’s) fee for the expedited processing. I will pick up the renewed passport on either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Friday evening, provided the gods of travel are looking upon me kindly, I shall be off to Japan.

Now, will I be posting blog entries from Japan? That rather depends on Japan, because I am one of the most computer-incompetent people you will ever encounter, and getting on the internet may prove too much for me. It may be completely simple. It may be impossible. But I shall do my darnedest. And I am leaving behind sufficient tweets to take the @RookFiles twitter feed up to the fateful day of the eleventh, and a trusted representative will be posting them.

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The Trailer!

Heed me, all ye who possess eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to appreciate, and an internet connection. I draw your attention to MTV Geek, where the trailer for The Rook has premiered! It is out there, a jewel shining in the ether, at

I am just immeasurably pleased with this little film. I scripted a bit of it, but so much has come as a complete, and welcome, surprise. Things I never would have thought of. In fact, the basic idea of the story came from the director. It really is the creation of extremely clever people who aren’t me. And I want to make certain that their efforts and their talents are acknowledged. Accordingly, I give you the team behind the film:


Ben Hughes — Director, Editor, Producer (

Jamie Carreiro — Director of Photography (

James Van Eyck — Production Assistant

Nancy Noto — Receptionist (

With special thanks to Adam Lytle at Greencard Productions (


I urge you to hie yourself to MTV Geek immediately and view the trailer.

Of course, in due course, the trailer shall be placed upon this very website, where it will reside for all time, to be viewed by humanity. Just as soon as I have figured out how that is to be done. (In reality, that means bothering my web guru, Jeremiah Tolbert.)

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It is Christmas evening, and I am lolling about on the couch, having partaken of a vast feast. Do you know, I do believe that I may actually have eaten something from every phylum. As a result, writing this blog entry is the most difficult thing I have done all year. Every instinct in my body is encouraging me to take advantage of all this stored energy, to find a nice hollow log or cave to crawl into, to slow my heart beat and respiration, and to spend the rest of the season in a blissful state of seafood-fuelled hibernation.

But no. It may be Christmas evening, and I may technically be dead from overeating, but it is ALSO a Sunday, and therefore it is blogging day. PLUS, I have an outstanding holiday announcement. So brace yourself against something soft and yielding, because the sheer awesomeness of this information may literally fling you back from your computer with all the force and glory of a volcanic eruption or a bolt of lightning. If you have sunglasses or welding goggles, don them, and if there are children or animals nearby, swaddle their heads in sound-dampening flannel.

Are you ready? Then behold the glory:

On Boxing Day, the trailer for The Rook shall make its exclusive debut on MTV Geek, which is part of!  ( )

Okay, wait, someone just pointed out that Boxing Day isn’t really a thing in the USA. So, for clarification, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas (so named because, traditionally, in the UK, tradesmen received a ‘Christmas box’ containing gifts or cash.) So, it will be the 26th of December in the USA.

Which will be the 27th in Australia. Sigh.

This announcement is much more complicated than I thought it would be.

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Sudden Appreances

Woke up this morning to find an email from a friend in the States, advising me that he had been innocently listening to NPR, and the commentators had, without any warning, started talking about The Rook! If you go to, about 23 minutes and 54 seconds into the cast, you can hear them. Some rather nice things are said.

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Also, I got my first-ever online book review, from Fantasy and SciFi Lovin’ News & Reviews ( It’s also very kind.

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Intriguingly, emailed me this week. It was one of those emails where they give you a list of books that they think you might enjoy, based (I assume) on one’s previous readings and purchases. At the top of the list was ‘The Rook’ by Daniel O’Malley, which amused me immensely. While Amazon has a point – I am, in fact, my type — this is the sort of thing that reassures me we’re a good long way from the machines taking over.

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I’ve had a couple of queries about the fabled trailer. Not to fret, it is coming. Really. In fact, there are two pieces of exciting news about it. The first is that it has been re-edited some, and is very, very good. It had been good before, but this is a different kind of good. Now, I have never been a person who has really noticed the editing of films, but I was really taken aback by the difference. The whole feeling of the trailer is different. So, the trailer has been pretty much finished, but as to when it will be released for you to view, well, that brings me to the second exciting piece of news.

Which, lamentably, I can’t reveal yet.

Sorry, I hate being that guy, the guy who dangles news in front of you, but it’s super cool news, and trust me, really worth waiting for.

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Nosing Around

A small, wet, malodorous dog sits on the couch next to me. Every once in a while, when I am intent on the keyboard, she will press against me or place her nose on my arm, and I recoil violently, and give a sharp exclamation of horror. She finds this entire act to be tremendous fun. I am less ecstatic, but she is so winsome that I cannot bring myself to shove her off the couch. Instead, I eye her balefully, and then turn my attention back to the screen.

Firstly, if you saunter over to the ‘Reviews’ section of this website, you will see four brand new reviews. They come from some extremely good review publications, so I am in (almost) silent awe at the thought that my book has featured in them. The first is from Booklist, which is a publication of the American Library Association. The second comes from Kirkus Reviews, and the third is from Shelf Awareness. The fourth is from Lev Grossman, who had kindly written one of the very first blurbs for The Rook.

Mr. Grossman wrote (among other things) the influential The Magicians and The Magician King, but he is also a senior writer and book critic for TIME magazine, and he put The Rook on his list of seven books he’s looking forward to 2012. At Number Two! Right behind William Gibson! I have not gotten so many excited emails from friends and relations since I announced the book was getting published. Or possibly since I got the puppy.

And, I just realized this morning that it is one month until The Rook will be released upon the readers of the United States of America. The eleventh of January. That is very soon. I will be in Japan when that happens, celebrating a friend’s wedding, which is probably just as well, because otherwise I would be phoning all my friends in the States, and asking them to check their local bookstores for copies of the book. And asking them to move it to a more prominent spot. Still, it’s an exciting thought.

This blogpost was interrupted by no fewer than three dog-nose incursions.


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Chortling, and the Real Myfanwy

Something extremely cool happened this week. I received the rough cut of the trailer for The Rook, and I am just wandering about, chortling in glee. It’s very beautifully shot, and the editing is great (I have never paid any attention to editing in my life, but this editing really appeals to me), and the actress does a great job. I’ve watched it several times now, marveling the whole time. I have to say it’s a very odd sensation to see stuff that you’ve written actually being performed. It makes it more real, like it doesn’t just exist in my head. And what’s even better is that they’ve put in all these little bits that I never would have thought of, taking me completely by surprise.

At the moment the trailer team is fine-tuning it, doing mysterious alchemy with lighting and sound levels. They’ve asked if I have any feedback, and all I have is lavish praise. Soon, the trailer will be available for your viewing pleasure. Ah, you’re in for a treat, once it’s released.

Meanwhile, the twittering is proceeding right along. I’ve moaned before about how twittering in character offers unique challenges. The point of the character who’s tweeting (@RookFiles) is that she works for a secret government organization, and so she wouldn’t be retweeting things, or corresponding with people. But then people out in the twitterverse write replies, and they’re good replies, and I really want to write back, but that would be breaking character. It’s killing me softly.

And, as a fun aside, my friend Myfanwy Galloway has been recruited for the Honda women’s team ( She is a cyclist, and, of course, she lends her first name to the main character of The Rook, and I am supremely proud of her.

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I thwarted the Fates.

This week, I made my very first ‘appearance as an author’! So, naturally, the Fates conspired to make the entire thing as difficult as was humanly possible.

Those Fates are Bitches.

The event was the VIP members evening at the Dymocks bookstore in Tuggeranong. (Dymocks, for my non-Australian readers, is an Australian bookchain ( and I have a long history of spending vast amounts of time and money in their establishments. Tuggeranong, for my non-Canberran readers, is a quarter of Canberra – one of the valleys that the city flows through.) This was an evening they were holding for members of their Booklover loyalty program (of which I am, ahem, a Gold Member.) The local rep for HarperCollins Australia had asked, ages ago, if I would like to attend, and I was extremely enthusiastic.

Then things started happening, just to spite me.

To begin with, as you may recall from my previous blog entry, I was struck down by a disease. It was never professionally diagnosed, but given the constantly running nose, the sore throat, and the cough, I feel safe in asserting that it was, um, bubonic plague. So, come the day before the event, I was still in the throes of this blight, and I had to advise that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I was convinced that my appearance would not only discourage people from buying my book, but it would also discourage people from buying any books at all.

However, the next day dawned, and I felt, not exactly 100%, but certainly less pestilential. So, I called Jodi (the rep) and asked if they might still have me. And she allowed as how they might. I was still a shambling mound of vile, but I was determined that I would make it.

Whereupon, the Fates (those cunning wenches) idly lobbed another wrench my way.

For you see, Thursday was Thanksgiving. And while the O’Malleys may reside in Australia, they adhere firmly to the tradition of Turkey Day. I absolutely had to be home by 6:30, when the guests would be arriving. Which would only give me a limited time to be at the event (it began at 5:30). Still even a flying visit would be awesome. I made arrangements with a longsuffering friend to pick me up from work (if I was well enough to attend an author event then, according to the Laws of O’Malley, I was well enough to go to work, and infect my colleagues). He would shuttle me down to Tuggeranong, where I would press the flesh, foist some sample chapters on hapless Booklovers, shill The Rook, possibly pick up some discounted books, and then zip home in time to gorge on a hapless turkey.

The Fates looked upon my plans, and laughed hollowly.

To begin with, my friend did not materialize with his car. It transpired that someone had seen him park in a handicapped parking place (which he is totally allowed to do – he’s got a handicap, and the related card that lets him park where he wants). They had felt that he did not look sufficiently handicapped, and decided to register their disapproval by parking directly behind him, so as to prevent him from leaving. It took a fair amount of time for this avenging angel to appear, and then he felt the need to lecture my friend on his parking/inadequately obvious handicap before he would move the car. Meanwhile, I was bouncing up and down in a distant parking lot, watching the moments flow away.

Finally, finally my friend appeared, and we sped on down to Tuggeranong. Or at least, we would have done, had the Fates not had a word with the operators of every traffic light between my work and the Dymocks Tuggernanong. And then, just to spite me even more, they arranged for traffic to back up. I was tearing my hair and rending my garments by the time we got to the bookstore and elbowed aside the shoppers who were dithering about outside.

Well, it was great. My rep embraced me (probably exposed herself to the flu), and showed me around, and introduced me to the bookstore proprietress. There were a couple of other local authors there, including the supremely nice Tracey O’Hara, whom I’ve met before. So, we howdied and shook, and then I wandered about, shoving sample chapters at people, and importuning them to buy my book when it comes out next year. Which led to one of the more interesting interactions I’ve had in my professional career, which I shall recreate for you here.

(Dan approaches a young guy who is browsing in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section)

Dan: Hi, can I interest you in a sample chapter from a book that’s coming out next year?

Guy: No thanks. The author is a friend of the family, so I’ve already read the first chapter.

(Dan is somewhat nonplussed, since he has no idea who this guy is.)

Dan, feebly: Oh! Right.

Guy: Yeah.

(Dan is rapidly realizing that, not only does he not know who this guy is, but this guy has no idea who he is.)

Dan: Well, that’s cool.

(Rep approaches.)

Rep: Hey Dan, things are going okay? People interested in your book?

Dan: Some are.

Guy: Oh, you’re Danny!

Dan: Yeah. (Brief pause. Then, revelation strikes.) Are you one of my mom’s students?

Guy: Yep.

Dan: Ah. Cool.

I have to confess, those few moments, after he claimed the author was a friend of the family, were some of the longest of my life. But, I got home in time for Thanksgiving!

And there was much gorging.

And thankfulness.

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I am Pestilent

Blurgh, don’t come too close, and don’t lick your monitor, because I have the plague. It’s manifested itself in the form of an incredibly sore throat, and very itchy ears, and a sort of mucous-based hostile takeover of my skull. And on the weekend, no less. There really is no justice. I have spent the day in bed, dosing myself with cups of mint tea and water and Codral Day & Night, and making pathetic bugling sounds. I have to be well enough tomorrow to go to work, so that I can flex the next day off and go down to Sydney to have lunch with a friend who’s visiting from the States.

The upside, however, is that I’ve gotten a fair amount of fiction down on the page, working through the list of ideas that I came up with earlier in the week.

One of the things about really getting into the writing of a novel (I’ve found) is that the novel tends to squat in the back of your mind on a near-constant basis, colouring all your perceptions. As a result, when asked in a seminar “what can you do with a manager who is unpleasant to his subordinates?”, I unthinkingly replied “Kill him”, which earned me a few nervous titters and sidelong looks. Sorry, kids, but I’m working on an assassin novel.

On the other hand, everything you see and learn seems like something you could possibly put into the novel. The lessons I was learning in my project management course really do lend themselves quite well to planning and executing assassinations: Laying out the scope of the project, Consulting with Experts, Execution (as it were), Reviewing Results and Lessons Learned. It’s all as applicable to paid murder as it is to Public Service tasks.

Now, as a bonus, if I can figure out how the internet works, there should be a photo here featuring what a temporary Rook tattoo from New York Comic Con looks like when it is applied to my corpse-white wrist. And may I say that it is supremely difficult to take photos of a tattoo with white bits on a white wrist with a right-handed camera when you’re left-handed, and trying to cover the flash with your finger, because you can’t figure out how to turn it off? Because it is.

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Conference Calls in the Dark

So, on Friday morning I had to go into work late. This was because I had to be in my house at 9:00 am to take part in an international conference call, which is a much more dignified reason than accidentally sleeping through my alarm. The call consisted of me (in Canberra) and my agent and editor and some of the publicity team who would be spruiking The Rook (in New York. I mean, they’re located in New York, they won’t just be promoting the book in New York.) This conference call stands out among all my Rook-related conference calls (and there have been a few) because it took place at an hour when I was entirely awake.

When my agent started putting The Rook out in the world for various publishers to consider, I was a little startled to learn that the publishers would be interested in talking to me. After all, they were thinking about buying the book, not employing me for my speaking abilities. It’s possible they wanted to ensure I wasn’t a complete psychotic, or they wanted to check if I had an endearing Australian accent. (For the record, I don’t. Despite being born in Canberra, the combination of American parents, Sesame Street, the Ninja Turtles cartoon and six years of higher education in Michigan and Ohio have ensured that I have a solid American accent.)

In any case, there were to be conference calls, during New York City business hours. Which meant that they were during Canberra sleeping hours. I didn’t mind this at all because, well, they were publishers, and I wanted to be published. But it did mean that I took several potentially life-changing phone calls at 5AM, sitting on the floor in a darkened hallway, and striving frantically to sound erudite while wearing my t-shirt and undies, and yawning madly.

For the record, however, I was fully dressed for work in a suit when I got the call that let me know that Little, Brown & Co. were going to be publishing my book.

Anyway, the call on Friday was at a c ivilized hour in Canberra, because everyone in New York was willing to stay beyond regular business hours. Which was very considerate of them. They have some very exciting plans for promoting The Rook, and it looks as if January 11th, 2012 is going to be a pretty cool day. Oddly enough, I will be in Japan on that day, attending a friend’s wedding. But, they have internet in Japan, so I expect that I’ll be able to keep abreast of all developments.

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