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: http://www.edizpiemme.it/libri/la-regina). 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: http://baronet.cz/beletrie/hra-vezi ). 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 http://www.today.com/id/47981733/site/todayshow/ns/today-books/t/sizzling-summer-reads-charlaine-harris-janet-evanovich/#.USB_LRyaK6Y . 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 http://www.unwalkers.com/interview-with-daniel-omalley-vo/

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: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-2267614/FANTASY.html

David Brzeski writing for The British Fantasy Society: http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/reviews/9507/

A review by Antony in SFBook Reviews: http://sfbook.com/the-rook.htm

And finally, Ani Johnson from The Bookbag: http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=The_Rook_(The_Checquy_Files)_by_Daniel_O’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 »

A Jaunt to Jindabyne

Dear You,

I have returned from the Snowy Mountains, where I was attending a literary festival. This was a festival of first-evers. It was the first-ever Snowy Mountains Readers & Writers’ Festival ( http://www.snowymountainswritersfestival.org/ ), but it was also my first-ever literary festival. I was thrilled to be a guest, but also a trifle nervous. I really had little to no idea what to expect. But, only mildly daunted, I packed my little car, and drove on up, over the hills and through the valleys, ascending towards Jindabyne.

Jindabyne is a charming mountain town, and a popular holiday destination. It’s the gateway to the snowfields, and for those unfamiliar with the Australian ski industry (or those unaware that there is an Australian ski industry), I can assure you that it’s big. Thousands and thousands of people ascend to the mountains when it’s snowy. Actually, they also ascend to the mountains when it’s not snowy, as I can attest, because they were all driving in front of me, and most of them were taking their sweet time.

It’s a very nice drive, despite the sweet-time-taking drivers, and if I had any sense, I would have taken photos along the way. Gorgeous landscapes, with the yellow grass, dark mountains and gigantic sky that always makes me feel incredibly patriotic.

Now, I hadn’t been to Jindabyne in forever. Not since I was a little kid, and I had only the vaguest of memories of the place. But when I arrived, I was completely. The town slopes down to Lake Jindabyne. In point of fact, the original town was under Lake Jindabyne. By which I mean that there was a valley, and a town of Jindabyne in it, and then they flooded it, and moved the town.

Not necessarily in that order.

Anyway, I drove through the town, acquainting myself with the lay of the land (that’s how I know it sloped down to the lake), and eventually found my way to Snowprint Bookshop ( http://www.snowprint.com.au/ ), which was one of the sponsors of the Festival. In addition, the bookshop is owned by Shaaron Ellis, who was one of the creators of the Festival, and with whom I had enjoyed several conversations on the phone – the sort of conversations where you begin by talking about business and arrangements for an upcoming literary festival, and then start chatting, and then abruptly you realise that your entire lunch hour has evaporated. So, it was great to finally meet her in person.

The next day was the opening day of the festival, with a very nice Welcome to Country (a custom in which representatives of the local Aboriginal people open an event with a speech and/or presentation, in their role as traditional custodians of the land), and a recitation of The Man from Snowy River (which is a classic Australian poem by Banjo Paterson – some (including me) say that it is the classic Australian poem. It is printed in microtext on the Australian $10 note as a security feature. It’s also been made into a rather good movie, with some outstanding riding scenes, and, bewilderingly, Kirk Douglas. You should read the poem.)

And then it was my first appearance! I was on a panel of Canberra Writers, with Marion Halligan, Peter Rees, and Karen Viggers – all of whom I read, but none of whom I had actually met before. And it was chaired by George Negus, who is a well-known journalist. And really, I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to having people look at you while you try to sound interesting about writing. The audience was terrific, and the other panelists were great, and I think we brought a good spread of perspectives to it.

Also, as evidence of the interconnectedness of all things Canberra, even though I had never met any of these people before, it turned out that Marion Halligan was very good friends with a lady who used to live around the corner from me, and one of my friends at work has Karen Viggers as her veterinarian. I’m sure that if Peter Rees and I had gotten the chance to talk some more, we would probably have turned out to be long-lost brothers or something.

That evening there was a literary dinner, and I was tremendously excited because speaking at it were Rosamund Burton (who wrote Castles, Follies and Four Leaf Clovers, which is a great travel story in Ireland) and Sandy Mackinnon. The O’Malley copy of Mackinnon’s book The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow has pretty much fallen apart from repeated re-readings. So, I took along a recently-acquired fresh copy, and awkwardly asked if he would inscribe it for my Mom. (I wasn’t really certain of the etiquette when it comes to asking other writers for autographs, especially when they’re having dinner at the other end of the table.) Mr Mackinnon very kindly obliged, and he and Rosamund Burton then proceeded to give the dining audience some terrific stories from their adventures.

And then it was Sunday, a key feature of which was a presentation by Daniel O’Malley entitled ‘Dr Who and Harry Potter Stand Aside.’ Now, I would like to make clear to you, O Reader of This Blog, just as I did to the audience that day, that I absolutely did NOT come up with the title. My mum called me from Canberra, asking me if I had written that title, and if I was insane. I thought it was going to be my ‘more popular than Jesus’ moment, with an outraged audience rising up and tearing me to tiny pieces, but they accepted the grandiose title as the product of someone else, and thus I commenced my first-ever solo author appearance in front of an audience who weren’t mainly friends and family.

I was only marginally petrified.

I told them a bit about who I am (had to explain the American accent, despite being born and bred in Canberra, Australia) and then I talked about the book (astoundingly), and how I’d come to write it, and the process by which it had gotten published, and I finished my speech, and then realised that I still had about half an hour to go. So, I asked for questions.

As an aside, if you ever go to an event where someone is speaking, come with a question. Or formulate a question while you’re there. It is greatest service you can ever render to someone. You will build up great merit.

And rest assured, there was a substantial amount of merit laid up in Jindabyne that day, because the good attendees absolutely plied me with questions. And they were such good questions too, ones that allowed me to ramble on for another half an hour. All of those attendees have comfortable seats reserved for them in heaven. Or they’ll be reborn as wealthy aristocrats who are straight of limb and keen of eye, depending on their religious beliefs, and personal preferences.

After me was Sulari Gentill ( http://www.sularigentill.com/ ), who writes an absolute torrent of works, but the ones that interested me most were her Rowland Sinclair mysteries, which are set in 1930’s Australia. Her presentation was terrific (her adorable sons asked her questions, including the plaintive “When will you stop writing?”), and I was so taken by her talk that I ducked out immediately to get the first book in the series, so that I could get her to sign it. I cannot wait to dive into it.

And then it was suddenly today, and I was packing up and driving home (with all the other motorists once again taking their sweet time), and now I’m back, getting everything in order. I mowed the lawn, I updated twitter, and I found a very nice review by Coffee and a Book Chick, which you can read (and agree with) at http://www.coffeeandabookchick.com/2012/04/rook-by-daniel-omalley.html

In fact, there have been a few reviews released upon the world since the last time I updated this blog, and I shall provide links to them for your convenience, and viewing pleasure:

The lads from 5 x 2 provide two reviews of The Rook, which you can view and compare at :

–       http://5x2blog.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/513/ and

–       http://5x2blog.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/reading-week-2-the-rook-by-daniel-omalley/

Susan Tunis gives a review at her blog In one eye, out the other


And there’s a review of The Rook in French at Unwalkershttp://www.unwalkers.com/the-rook-de-daniel-omalley-rookie-of-the-year/) .

Now, some of you may recall that, in a previous blog posting, I described the mysterious teddy bears, which had been nailed to a succession of trees along the road from Canberra to the coast. Various theories as to the origins and reasons for these bears abound, but one of my readers (who shall remain nameless in case she didn’t want her name out in the internet) has informed me that the bears serve to mark the route to a nudist colony. I’m sure there’s a play on bare/bear, but given the deteriorating condition of the bears, it’s a disquieting idea, if it’s true. But thanks for the scoop.

Finally, my colleagues at work have not permitted me to forget the fact that, on the 18th of March, The Sunday Territorian (a newspaper based in Darwin) had an article on The Rook, entitled “Dan’s Fighting the Forces of Evil.” Duplicates of this article now adorn my deskspace. I’m secretly rather thrilled, and would kill for a copy of the actual newspaper.

Books Purchased at the Festival

1. The World from Islam by George Negus

2. The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow by A.J. Mackinnon

3. A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

4. The Beijing Conspiracy by Adrian d’Hage

A Jaunt to Jindabyne Read More »

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