Update: My God, is it already 2013?


Behold, a writer who has completed the first draft of his second novel. Or rather, a writer who has completed the first draft of his second Checquy novel. (I’ve written first drafts of other novels, but this is the one that’s been consuming my time and my brain for the past plethora of months.) Yes, the Checquy Book Two has been poured out upon my computer screen, and even as we speak, my glorious editor is reading it and (I hope) liking it. I actually finished it, and mailed it off, at 3:30 AM Australian time on the 15th of January, and my brain has unclenched enough since then that I can begin looking at it again without hating it intensely.

You’ll notice that I don’t give its title. It’s just Checquy Book Two. It has a provisional title – in my mind — but I’m still brooding over it. For me, the title comes pretty late in the piece. Or rather, the final title comes pretty late in the piece. The Rook’s original title was ‘Namesake’, which came to me in the shower, and which I was convinced was genius. After all, Myfanwy Thomas is named after someone else (the original Myfanwy Thomas) and, well, trust me, it all seemed extremely profound when I was in the shower. However, then a book called ‘The Namesake’ came out, and did very well, and it was gently pointed out to me that another title would be a good idea. So I brooded and agonised for a while, and settled on The Rook, which, in retrospect, has worked out OK. Quite a few people have asked which chess piece the next book will be named after, but I am not convinced that I will go with that recurring motif. For one thing, it’s already been done, and for another, it sort of limits one to six titles. (And since the Checquy doesn’t use ‘King’ and ‘Queen’, it’s a bit tenuous anyway.)

I’m not entirely certain when Checquy Book Two is going to come out. Of course, the whole process is very different from the first time. The Rook took a couple of years to write, this one, about a year. My agent, Mollie Glick, and I did a lot of polishing before The Rook went out to publishers, and then my editor, Asya Muchnick, and I did a lot more polishing. This one, Book Two, has gone to both of them at the same time. And I’ll confess, I’ve already started making some strategic alterations before they’ve even gotten back to me. I’m really excited about this one, though.

A couple of people have remarked how long it’s been since I’ve done a blog entry. They are, of course, correct. I’ve just checked, and seen that the last one was actually in May 2012. My only answer is that Book Two had a due date, and it took precedence over many, many things, including blogging. I have a reverence and a terror of due dates that borders on the psychotic. But, a lot of things have happened in the intervening time – things which, when they happened, I thought “I should really write about this.” The problem is, I’m very averse to writing short blog entries. It’s the same with emails (and novels). Anyway, I’ve been keeping a list of things to include in the blog, and now is my chance to share them with you.

Firstly, The Rook has started coming out in different languages! Of course, it has been out in Australian English for a while (with HarperCollins Australia), but it only recently came out in British English with Head of Zeus. It is also available in Italian, incarnated at La Regina from Piemme with some very attractive Ferrari-red added to the cover. I shall put in a photo if I can figure out how (if I can’t, you can see it here: Of course, La Regina translates as ‘The Queen’, but they have not changed Myfanwy’s rank in it. Nor, much to my relief, was it done because the Italian word for ‘Rook’ was also some sort of obscenity. Rather, it’s because they wanted a title that implied feminine authority and majesty, which is entirely reasonable to me.

There is also now the Czech version, which is titled, Hra věží, and which comes to us from Baronet (I shall also attempt to put up a photo of their very different, and very striking, cover. If I can’t manage it because I am incompetent, then you can see it here: ). I love it. My only disappointment is that my name remains the same on the cover. My parents became ‘Billu O’Malleyovi’ and ‘Jeanne O’Malleyové’. I expect that it’s a necessity for author-identification, and whatnot, but it would have been cool to see what my name is in Czech.

Now, way back in May, when I last blogged, I mentioned that Charlaine Harris, the creator of the beloved Southern Vampire Mysteries (known best to some via the television show True Blood, although they should read the books because they’re great) had spoken kindly about The Rook, both on her blog, and in an interview. Well, she ALSO spoke about it kindly on NBC’s Today Show! I first heard about this at work, when friends and relations in America began bombarding me with emails, and I was gnawing on my nails, because I try to keep Day Job and Writing separate. So, when I come home, I frantically trawled through the internet and found it. You can actually view the clip online at . Admittedly, the sizzling summer has passed (at least in the northern hemisphere – it’s still pretty toasty down here), but this is one of the most encouraging things to come out of The Rook’s publication.

Also, I had posted a link to an interview with Unwalkers, but it was in French. The English version also exists, and lurks on the internet, waiting for you at

I’m going to endeavour to keep the number of links to reviews to a minimum – it’s been eight months, and a fair few reviews. (Negative reviews can, of course, find their own forum to share their views.) I have cut myself off from looking at reviews and ratings on venues like Amazon and Book Depository. That way lies madness. But some reviews that I’m especially delighted about, and which I want to share with you, have accompanied the UK release of The Rook.

See, the two great concerns I had about The Rook were writing a female character, and writing a novel set in the UK. Since I am neither a female nor set in the UK myself, I was braced for some denunciation about whether I’d pulled it off. And I did get a couple of remarks along the lines of ‘that’s not how English people talk’, although those came from Americans, which I thought was a bit interesting. Anyway, some very heartening UK reviews:

James Buxton writing for The Mail Online:

David Brzeski writing for The British Fantasy Society:

A review by Antony in SFBook Reviews:

And finally, Ani Johnson from The Bookbag:’Malley

In other news, I went weak at the knees when I learned that The Rook was selected as the 2013 fantasy pick for The Reading List. The Reading List is an award awarded by Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association. I’ll quote from their website for the description of the Reading List:

Established in 2007 by the CODES section of RUSA, The Reading List seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merit special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them. The Council, which consists of twelve librarians who are experts in readers’ advisory and collection development, selects one book from each of eight different categories. The eight genres currently included in the council’s considerations are adrenaline titles (suspense, thrillers, and action adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women’s fiction. However, the Council is constructed in such a way to be adaptable to new genres and changes in contemporary reading interest.

And by the way, am I the only person who is entranced by the prospect of Council of Librarians?

So, at this point, I’m waiting for the first feedback, and working on more writing (Checquy and otherwise.) And I fully intend to be updating this blog much more frequently.

Update: My God, is it already 2013? Read More »

Going Clubbing

One of the nicest things about having your book get published is all the interest and encouragement that your friends give you. People will go out of their way to tell you how much they enjoyed it (presumably those who hate it manage to keep it to themselves, much like the way friends won’t tell you that your baby is actually quite ugly, or that your voice grates upon their ears like someone is slaughtering a giraffe.) Friends will send you reviews from the other side of the world, or let you know that they have foisted a copy on someone else, and that the someone else has said they’ve enjoyed it. It’s really encouraging.

In the past few weeks, however, I’ve had the pleasure of a completely new form of support. Various friends have put The Rook forward for their book clubs to read and then invited me to come and talk about it. I’ve taken this as license to come and talk about myself, and eat whatever cake is available.

It’s actually very cool, whilst simultaneously terrifying. So far, the book clubs that I’ve been invited to have consisted of sophisticated and elegant older ladies (older than me, anyway). These ladies have all, withouth fail, been extremely kind. However, it has been clear that supernatural thrillers set in the public service are not their usual selection for bookclub. A phrase that I’ve heard frequently is ‘Normally, I would never read this kind of book…’, which is the kind of phrase that can either introduce lavish praise, or withering condemnation.

Of course, they were all too polite to unleash really withering condemnation, but it’s evident that for a few readers, The Rook was agony. Others, however, were bewildered to discover themselves enjoying it, which is very cool. In one of the clubs, they went around the room, and said if they liked it, or not, and why, or why not.

While I sat there, eating cake.

The process led to some very interesting and unexpected questions, but having someone flatly state that they couldn’t get into your book, and couldn’t get through more than a couple of chapters is always a little bit crushing. I expect it’s like being on one of those reality shows where you stand up in front of judges, and they candidly discuss your strengths and flaws while you smile weakly, and can’t throw your cake at them.

Anyway, we talked about the book, and where I got my ideas from, and the process whereby a book in my head becomes a book on your shelf. One thing that everybody was quite interested in was how the money works, so I thought I’d explain it to those blog-readers who aren’t familiar with the process.

So, I wrote the book. And then, after a few adventures, I got an agent (the incomparable Mollie Glick of The Foundry Literary + Media). And, after a substantial amount of work, Mollie decided that it was time to put it out on the market, and see if some extremely clever publisher with excellent taste would like to purchase it. Fortunately for me, one did. Little, Brown & Co (yesssss!) purchased the English rights to The Rook. This means that they have the exclusive right to print it in the English language throughout the world.

Now, a few people have asked after the royalty cheques that I get. This is the thing that people know about authors – they get royalty cheques. For every book that’s sold, the authors gets a bit of the money. True, enough. But, the book can take a while to sell, and so sometimes an author will receive an advance against those royalties. It’s some money that I get right at the very beginning, to keep me in comic books and bowler hats. Before I get any more monies, enough copies of the book have to sell and enough author-royalties have to build up to pay off the advance. Until then, I get no royalty cheques (I’m not complaining, let me hasten to assure you. This system works just fine for me.)

“But hold on,” I can hear my Australian readers say. “I purchased a copy of The Rook here in lovely scenic Australia, and it’s got HarperCollins on the spine. There’s no mention of Little, Brown & Co. What the hell are you trying to pull here? I should come around to your house, and steal your doormat.” And they make a good point.

Now, Little, Brown & Co. holds the worldwide rights for English. But, it may be that they don’t wish to publish it here in Australia, for whatever reason. They can then choose to distribute the book, or to partner with an Australian publisher to publish the title there. By doing this, they not only get an advance (which would go in part towards paying out my advance with Little, Brown), but they also give the book a chance to be ‘published.’ By which I mean that the book is not merely carried by the shops, but that an Australian publisher can use its local know-how and contacts to market and publicise the book, which gives it more visibility, which hopefully will lead to more sales.

So, Little, Brown & Co. sold the Australian English rights for The Rook to HarperCollins Australia, giving them the right to publish it here. Any advance, and the subsequent royalties from Australian sales, goes towards paying off my advance from Little, Brown & Co, bringing me closer to the point where I will see future little royalty cheques. Meanwhile, Head of Zeus in England has acquired the rights for that country. I don’t see that money in my sweaty little palm, but it’s doing me good. Like vitamins. Or democracy.

And, of course, there are all those other great languages out there in the world, each of which can be acquired by different publishers. For that, there is the glorious Stéphanie Abou, my foreign rights agent at the Foundry, who oversees foreign language sales. So far  (and I am very excited about all of these), the following publishers have brought The Rook into their family:

Leya in Brazil

Beijing Pengfeiyili Book Co. in China

Baronet in the Czech Republic

Super 8 in France

Piemme in Italy

Azoth Books in Taiwan

and April Publishing in Turkey

With attendant advances, and future royalties (he says hopefully.)

And that’s how the money works. Pretty much. Of course, there’s also taxes and agent commission, both of which are entirely worth it, the former because your taxes (and mine) pay my day job salary (and buy us all some civilisation), and the latter because without the agent, The Rook would still be sitting on my hard drive, and not in your hands.


In other news, a friend of mine surprised me with a formal heraldic description of the crest from The Rook cover:

Arms of The Rook

Lozenge rond en soleil gris, quarterly sable and argent; first pot du thé argent, second tower sable, third cephalopod sable with six arms guardant, fourth lapin argent sejant; supported by lions gris rampant and surmounted by Spanish crown argent.

I rather like idea of being a cephalopod sable.


And in even more other news, there’s some new reviews of The Rook floating out there. But so that you don’t have to trawl through the internet, I have the links for them right here.


Talk Supe gives it four cauldrons (it’s not clear out of how many, but the official verdict is ‘loved it’, so I am going to assume that it is out of three cauldrons.)


Hit the Road Jacq gives it a short, sharp, whip-crack of a review. Very bracing.


The Goatfairy Review Blog gives The Rook 10 out of 10 cheesewands, an accolade that I have added to my professional curriculum vitae, and the draft epitaph for my tombstone.


Crimespree Blog dissects the book at


I talk about my dog, the peerless Sally O’Malley, at ‘Coffee with a Canine’. She looks much better in the photos than I do.


Buried under Books gives a charming review at


And finally, a fun story with a happy (if somewhat belated) ending. Periodically, I will get a note from someone at one of my current publishers (Little, Brown & Co. or HarperCollins Australia) letting me know that something cool has happened. And this time, it was extremely cool. At Shelf Awareness, which publishes two newsletters (one for general readers and one for booksellers), there was an interview with Charlaine Harris, creator of the terrifically entertaining Southern Vampire Mysteries (now captured on deathless celluloid/silicon as the True Blood TV show). You can read the interview at , and in it, Ms Harris describes herself as an evangelist for The Rook by (ahem) Daniel O’Malley!

Naturally, I was overcome with excitement. However, in the back of my skull, I couldn’t help but think “You know, ‘evangelist’ implies you’re singing its praises, and maybe wearing a robe, with a choir in the background.” So, I googled ‘Charlaine Harris Daniel O’Malley’, and I was led to this blog entry from waaaaaay back in February: . Read it, and you will find that Ms. Harris wrote really nice, encouraging things about the book, and I never even knew.

This is like founding out that several months ago you were crowned the King of Switzerland, but that no one bothered to tell you.

Going Clubbing Read More »

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