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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Good news is good.

Well, I can declare Summer formally arrived. It was one of those blindingly hot days, where you lie about like a beached whale, crisping under the merciless sun and bugling weakly for iced tea. The sort of day that is ideal for a straw hat and a barbecue, which was fortunate, because I happened to be down in the delightful town of Bowral for a barbecue. Whilst wearing a straw hat. Bowral is a couple of hours away from Canberra (which is where I live), but I rather enjoy long car drives, as long as there’s good tunes, and I had the new Florence & The Machine CD, so it was a nice motoring expedition. Except that I have a nagging suspicion that I may have gotten caught out by one of those speed camera set-ups where they take your picture at one point, and then, at a completely unreasonable point located several dozen kilometers and a few distracted thoughts later, they take it again, and then they calculate the average speed. And I fear that my average speed may have been a little above average.


So, one of the things about living in the age of the internet, is that you have to get up pretty early to get the news first. Even when it’s news about you. As a result, earlier this week, I got quite a few emails congratulating me on Publishers Weekly before I knew what they were talking about. But, much to my delight, it seems that The Rook was Publishers Weekly’s ‘Pick of the Week’, and featured in a starred review right on the table of contents, right where everyone could see it. You can see it online at http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-316-09879-3 . And, if you want to recreate my entire experience, you should read it while eating some breakfast cereal, and then you should choke in excitement, and spew some Kellogg’s Just Right across the keyboard. I am ecstatic.

ALSO, Mr. Charles Yu, the distinguished author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, wrote a very nice blurb for The Rook, and I agonized for several hours about how to write him a thank-you note without sounding like too much of a crawler. You can read his very kind blurb on the Review page of this very website. And you should read his book, too, because it’s really a grand read.

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Field Trippin’

One of the many nice things about working for the Government (aside, naturally, from one’s duty towards one’s country) is flextime. For the uninitiated, this means that every hour – every moment – that I work over a set time, can later be taken off. And, thanks to my rigorous work ethic, and the bus schedule, I tend to accumulate flextime at a fairly good clip. Sure, sometimes I’ll take a bit longer at lunchtime, but generally it goes into the flex bank, and there it stays. For you see, the O’Malleys, despite our incredible laziness, tend to regard days off with a certain amount of skepticism. Vacation does not feature largely in our schedules, and as for sick days… well, when it comes to sick days, unless you are actually bleeding from your pores, then sick days are spent at work, infecting coworkers. That way, when they stay home, you can look virtuous. Anyway, as a result, I have a vast store of flextime into which I hardly ever dip. There is, of course, a limit, and when you cross over it your superiors tend to eye you somewhat askance.

Thus, on Friday, I was able to take the day off, and catch the train down to Sydney Town, for to meet with the good people at HarperCollins Australia, who are publishing my book here.

Now, I was a little bit nervous about going there. I mean, HarperCollins is one of those iconic names that’s emblazoned in my brain. Half the books on my shelves bear their mark. And who knows what you do when you go to the publishers? What do they want of you? What happens? How will it be? When I visited Little, Brown & Co. in New York, I was accompanied by my agent, and I was astoundingly jetlagged, so I was quite mellow about the whole thing. This time, however, I was in full possession of my faculties, and thus, lacking in any excuses.

Well, it was great. To begin with, HC-Aus is located in downtown Sydney, and the office is beautiful. It’s got the sort of views that, if I had them, would prevent me from getting anything done, ever. There’s a reason that my day job is based in a pod, and I do my writing on the couch. I’m far too easily distracted. The place was very clean and very beautiful, and full of very nice people (who are also clean and beautiful). My particular very nice, clean and beautiful person, Anna Valdinger, came and scooped me up from the lobby and we were immediately chattering away enthusiastically. She showed me around the place, and introduced me to all sorts of people, many of whom had read the book, and all of whom were enthusiastic and cool.

And then, from there, a bunch of us (a literary street gang, if you will) meandered along to the local pub, pausing on the way to beat the living hell out of a rival literary street gang (poets from an Italian-owned publisher, we stomped them but good), and dined heartily on some extremely good schnitzel. Much good cheer, some very amusing talk about a variety of stuff, and a very nice time all up. Some of our party had to peel off and head back to work (I should have asked about flextime), and eventually it was Anna and I lounging about, talking books and stuff. We ambled back to the office, and then she escorted me through the office’s compactuses (compacti?), and let me engage in a little light pillaging. I snaffled a couple of very lovely, lovely books, and am, in fact, at the moment snout-first in Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I am enjoying a great deal. And she ALSO gave me a pre-release proof of the Australian version of the book, which is extremely good-looking.

So, there you go. That’s what happens when you go to meet the publishers.

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I wish to hire a condor

Well, I am writing this with half an eye, since the other eye and a half are watching the Rugby World Cup. France versus New Zealand. And I’m going to give credit to the French for advancing on the Haka. I dig the Haka, but it leaves the opposing team in a bit of a bind – you cannot be disrespectful, but on the other hand, they can’t just expect you to stand there (especially since you’re not allowed to bring books onto the playing field. I can attest to this from my primary school experiences.)  It would have been even better if the French had been smoking Gauloises as they advanced, but still, very cool. And I’ll be equally pleased no matter which team wins.


You may have noticed on the front page of this website that there’s a spot for ‘The Book Trailer – coming soon”.  Work is underway on that particular little project, and I am pretty excited about the prospect. I haven’t seen many book trailers, but I’ve seen a few, and some of them have been very good. Now, I am a huge fan of movie trailers, I always insist on being in the cinema fifteen minutes before a movie starts, to ensure that I catch all the previews. But I was not at all sure how to go about a trailer for The Rook. There’s some scenes that I think would translate quite well to live performance, but some of the concepts would really stretch our trailer budget (does anyone know where you can cheaply rent a condor in New York City?) However, my trailer director has hit upon quite a brilliant concept, and so I have spent the past couple of weeks scripting up some stuff. And it’s been murder – I am accustomed to being somewhat wordy, but with a trailer, you need to cut right to the chase immediately. But, I think it will be good. I have submitted some words, and I am eager to see what he creates.


Also, I just want to draw attention to the (Australian) release of SNUFF, the new Discworld novel from Terry Pratchett, who is one of three writers who tie for the position of Dan’s Favourite Author. I’ve been reading Pratchett’s work since Year 7, when my high school librarian placed a copy of Truckers into my youthful hands. I’ve read all of his books many times, and I inhaled SNUFF like… well, like snuff. I enjoyed it immensely. Damn fine writing. If you’re a Discworld fan, odds are that you have it already, and if you aren’t, well, actually it’s probably not the best one to start with. I always recommend Wyrd Sisters or Mort for first-time Discworld readers – they weren’t the first to be written, but they make excellent starting points.

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All Sortsa News

Well, it’s been a week of rather grand news.

To begin with, The Rook is going to be published in Australia! What’s that you say? “Um, Dude, your book’s getting published. In English. Isn’t it going to be in Australia automatically? That’s what they speak there, right? More or less? If it’s published in English, it must be published in Australia.” You would be forgiven for thinking so, but, in point of fact, that is not necessarily the case. In the case of The Rook, it was not to be the case. HOWEVER, the good people at HarperCollins Australia have decided that they like the book enough to acquire the Australian rights, so it will be available in stores that are within 6000 kilometres of my house. This is a big deal. The whole idea of having a book published somehow seems more real when you know that you could go to the local store and see it. So, I’ve been chatting with my Australian editor (and managed to leave one of the most horrendously awkward voicemails in the history of spoken communication) and it’s all confirmed and for real. I don’t like to announce these sorts of things until it’s definitely for really actually done and accomplished, for fear the universe will take umbrage at my presumption and make it all a dream or something. But, this is confirmed and for real, and the Australian version will be coming out in, I think, February 2012. I’m not certain to what extent there will need to be editing, although I am rather hoping that they will go through and put back all the u’s that my poor American editor had to cut out of various ‘honours’ and ‘colours’ and ‘neighbours’.

Other rather exciting news is that I just got my first review! I’ve had some very nice comments from authors (and those totally blow my mind, by the way. It’s tremendously exciting when someone whose work you regard so highly says nice things about your work.) But, this is the first one from an authentic publication, and from Library Journal, of all places. And it’s rather nice, too.  I’ve had various people advise me, very soberly, not to read reviews. Or at least, not to read the bad ones. This advice is a trifle problematic, since I’m not going to know if a review is bad or not until I read it. Fortunately, this one popped up on my Facebook page – thank you to my friends who noticed it and sent it on — so I could assume it would be nice. And nice it is! Finally, the third book in Clive Barker’s “Abarat” series came out. Absolute Midnight. I’ve been waiting for this book for years, since about 2005. And I can say two things about it. First, I can entirely see why it took so long to come out, because it is filled with paintings by the author. And secondly, I think this book is the best refutation of e-books that I can think of, because it is beautiful. It’s sure to be a glorious story, but it’s also a glorious THING. The paper is amazing, the art is vivid (could it be satisfactorily recreated on a screen? Doubtful.) It’s a thing that is beautiful to behold. A sculpture that tells a story. A future heirloom. I gloat over it, the fact that I have it.

And now, I must away, to finish packing. For much of this week, I am attending a Rail Safety Convention. My knowledge of trains is somewhat limited, mostly restricted to the exploits of Thomas and Percy (was Percy the one that they walled up alive in a tunnel? I always found that a bit disconcertingly dark). But, this is my chance to learn. Plus, I’m visiting Melbourne, which I am really looking forward to.

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The Metafictional Implications of Twittering

So, here in Canberra, we are enjoying yet ANOTHER long weekend. It is Family and Community Day, which I am celebrating by not spending any time with my family or my community. Instead, I am lounging on the couch, writing this blog (obviously) and writing fiction about assassins. I feel quite certain this is what the founders of Family and Community Day had in mind. And, fortunately, it is ideal weather for staying indoors and writing. It’s cold out, and grey, and the puppy is of a mind to snuggle up against me on the couch, thus preventing me from getting up and doing anything else.

Now, you may already have noticed this, but there are now two whole extra chapters of The Rook available for you to download from this site and read! Chapter 1-4 are right there for you! This is in celebration of the fact that New York Comic Con is being held from October 13 – 16, and while I cannot be there, there ARE going to be little Rook-related bits of paraphernalia floating around. Representatives of Little, Brown & Co (my publisher) will be present, handing out postcards (which will hopefully guide new readers to this site) and temporary tattoos of the crest which adorns this very website! I lust after one of these tattoos, and am making plaintive email sounds so that they send me some.

Meanwhile, I have been twittering along. I was extremely wary of twitter, especially because I am not a 140-character person at all. I need several paragraphs just to say hello. So, for me the twitter experiences consists of much painful pruning. You may notice that there are, in fact, TWO twitter feeds that this website will link you to. The first (@DenimAlley) is to my own feed, which presents trenchant observations on the world and society. ‘DenimAlley’ was picked for two reasons – the first being that every possible permutation of ‘Daniel O’Malley’ was already taken, and the second because, at my day job, when I answer the phone, people will sometimes be thrown by my quaint accent, and believe that my name is actually Denim Alley. “Oh, hi, Denim. I just had a few questions…” And usually I feel awkward about the whole thing and don’t correct them. Whereupon, my colleagues have sometimes received follow-up phone calls asking for Denim. Which leads to much confusion.

Anyway, the second twitter feed (@RookFiles) is for the main character from The Rook. Yes, I have become one of those men who pretends to be a woman on the internet. This second twitter feed is really keeping me on my toes, since I can’t just mention whatever ridiculous thing occurred to me that day, and also because, well, I really am endeavoring to keep it in character. Which means no retweeting – not even of my own stuff. Myfanwy Thomas wouldn’t retweet stuff. In fact, when I wondered if I should mention the new, dandified form of this website on the RookFiles twitterfeed, my friends and associates were quite vehement that I should not do so. They felt that it would break the flow of the whole thing, and destroy the fourth wall. Or acknowledge it. Or something. Which means that a twitter feed intended to bring people’s attention to my book and website cannot actually mention the book or website at all. They’ll probably pillory me for even mentioning this dilemma on the web at all, but I think about it, and turn it over in my mind, and then I get one of those MC Escher-style headaches.

Okay, time to get back to the assassins.

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The first post.

Welcome to my new website! I am now one of the landed internet gentry! Look around you (on the screen, not in your room.) Everything the light touches is mine. It’s like owning a house, or even better, a small estate. It comes with a library (little extracts of The Rook, which should be somewhere around here), and a portrait gallery (which I suppose is my ‘About the Author’ bit), and the house farm, which produces stuff constantly, which will be the twitter feeds and the blog.

The blog. Oh boy.

I have never been a blogger before, but from what I understand, having a blog is a lot like having a puppy (which is another thing I have recently acquired). They’re a lot of responsibility, and they can get you up at odd hours of the night, and they need to be fed constantly, and you have to buy squeaky weasel toys for them. And really, you have to decide what they’re going to grow up to be. Will it be a racing blog? Or a working blog? Mine, I suspect, will be something of a lap blog, uncharacterized by much real discipline, and prone to little fits of excitement or panic over the most ridiculous things.

Alright, this whole dog/blog thing is a metaphor that I may have taken too far.

Anyway, so I am now a blogger. I blog. I fully intend to blog at least once a week, or as often as I feel like it (whichever yields the most entries.) No doubt, this will lead to some of those Sunday evening revelations that I have blogging homework due the next morning, and I’ll panic utterly, and stare around the room, looking for something to blog about, and then there will be an entry on tables or flyspray or something.

Of course, the main focus of the blog (other than tables or flyspray or whatever random object comes into my view) will be The Rook, which is my first novel, published by Little, Brown and Company, and which is coming out in the USA in January of 2012, just in time for the Aztec apocalypse. So, in this blog, I’ll endeavour to keep my readers abreast of all developments with The Rook, and whatever other writing projects I am working on.

Meanwhile, the website is still taking shape a little. There’s going to be more things coming. There will be a trailer for The Rook, which I am extremely excited about, and a newsletter is gestating even as we speak, so you can sign up for that, should the urge take you.

Also, I need to take this chance to thank Jeremiah Tolbert, of www.clockpunkstudios.com . The man is possessed of genius, and patience like unto that of one of those centuries-old tortoises, that have seen everything, and know all, and can endure pretty much all shrill mammals. Except he responds to problems much, much more swiftly than a tortoise.

Okay! So, first blog entry completed, on my marvelous new website. I feel so virtuous. I have the rest of a long weekend to go enjoy (it’s Labour Day weekend in Australia.)

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