I often imagine a scene where Veronica meets a hapless twenty-first century editor and we end up running down an ancient London alleyway, pursued by a fire-spitting ironclad.

That’s not as surprising as you might think because N.P. Boyce’s wonderful creation could easily have appeared in an episode of a rather well known British sci-fi T.V. series. You see N.P. Boyce has form here.  He is a writer and editor based in London and has previously published work with Big Finish’s Doctor Who and Bernice Summerfield ranges. He has also provided non-fiction material for Classic Doctor Who DVDs.

Indeed, “Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective” has been a most unusual project for Proxima.  Eighteen months ago, Boyce approached me with a novella and a concept so ambitious that I instantly wanted to know more. In the intervening time, Proxima has worked with him as he expanded the universe of his charismatic central character, then gone back and heavily reworked early episodes to produce a cleverly structured novel. He says his favourite authors include Wilkie Collins, George Orwell, Christopher Priest and Kurt Vonnegut, and their influence certainly shows here.

Boyce introduces us to a Victorian time-traveller detective whose patch is all of London across all of time. During her adventures, we meet an exotic array of characters: an attractive time-sensitive companion, a mysterious chief of the Ministry of Time, a Tudor secret agent, a King who dreams the city and several quite macabre armies.

From an initial missing person case, Boyce takes his reader into uncharted territories. Time itself twists and turns, London is remade as the reader is treated to a chronogeographic apocalypse and Veronica becomes something far more than a simple detective.

Yet, at its very core, “Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective” remains a story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The fate of everything turns on the very human motivations and actions of lovers: past, present and future.

Oh, and did I mention there was a cat in it?

Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective is available now, and at a Time Pool near you.

Imagine the scene: a café, somewhere in the Midlands, two figures sit hunched over a table, plotting the publication of a horror novel.

Actually I first met Joseph D’Lacey in person at a Halloween Reading Event at Warwick University, and I first met him as a writer through his brilliant novella: “The Kill Crew”. Many others have met his macabre mind through his award winning debut, “Meat” and its eco-horror follow-up “Garbage”.

When I read “The Kill Crew”, an incredibly tightly written and stark survival story of one woman in a Zombie apocalypse, I knew this was a writer who I wanted to write for Proxima.  So I took the unusual step of approaching and asking him if he had any work for consideration.

Our meeting in the café, and ultimately the novel “Blood Fugue”, were the result of that initial contact. When Joseph first described the basic plot outline, I was immediately curious, but it wasn’t until I read the uncompromising first few pages that I knew we had a winner.

D’Lacey grabs you with a shocking opening scene that plays with every vampire seduction you’ve ever read and pushes it just that one step further. This is an eco-horror novel that takes that vampire myth and adds a new level of psychic and biological terror. The presence of nature and the dark forest are overwhelming, and yet the Fugue itself is like an invader and nature fights back through the form of Jimmy Kerrigan – a character on an astonishing journey of self-discovery.

The action is placed in an authentic rural American society.  A family of outsiders is added to the mix, a mysterious old man, a psychopathically possessed teenage girl (who dominates that first scene) and a population of characters tainted by the blood fugue infection. And, at the centre of the forest, a bizarre creature seizes its chance to infect the world.

Only one man can stop it, Jimmy Kerrigan, torn by conflict and fear. And in many ways this is a story about how he remembers who, and what, he is.

From that initial meeting in the café, we embarked on a process of cutting and re-writing designed to get the story as tight and fierce as possible. The result is a novel infused with Joseph’s brilliant prose; his descriptions and characters are both vivid and shocking. We have a narrative that mixes tension and visceral terror building to a set-piece climax of horror on a truly epic scale. As Stephen King says, “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!”

“Blood Fugue” is available for pre-order now from here, and will be on general release from 16th November.  This is what happens when a writer and an editor meet in a café.

As promised back in March, Proxima 2.0 is re-launching as primarily a print publisher, on the 16th November. Emboldened by our parent company (Salt) reaching the Booker shortlist, we’re releasing not one, but two novels. Joseph D’Lacey’s “Blood Fugue”, described by Don Roff as “265 blood-soaked pages of fevered frenzy”, is joined by the full novelisation of N.P. Boyce’s “Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective” (part of which was published in episodic e-format last year – but now we give you the complete story with a truly epic ending) of which Tania Hershman said, “Here we have historical fiction meets science fiction meets fantasy with a dash of philosophy and a sprinkling of feminism.”

I’ll blog about the writing and editing of these very different books in the coming weeks, but you can already pre-order both books here and here, and save 25% off the RRP!

ImageProxima Books has signed Joseph D’Lacey for a full print and e-book publication of his latest horror novel, “Blood Fugue”, and with this exciting development we’re entering a new era for our imprint.

We are moving more aggressively into the print market and seeking to promote quality fiction from new and established authors. Along with Joseph’s eco-horror, we’ll also be publishing Niall Boyce’s “Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective” as a full print novel later in 2012. To complete this print run, we’ll also be publishing our “Best of British Fantasy” in early 2013.

Consequently we are calling for submissions, for a limited time only, for 2013. We will be looking for eclectic variations on science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, heroic or anti-heroic adventure, magic, horror, Gothic, supernatural, mythic or urban fantasy, and any blurring of the above sub-genres.

A brief synopsis is required for all submissions, and your first three chapters. Include a writing-specific CV or account of your writing history, a few lines about the book, including word count, and why your submission would suit Proxima.

All submissions should be by Word document. RTF will be accepted, though Word is preferred. Other formats may be rejected. Please include your title, or an abbreviation of it, and your surname in each file name, attaching the synopsis separately.

 Submissions by email only to steve@proximabooks.com.

Two new adventures from Proxima

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

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‘Aphrodite’s Dawn’ by R.B. Harkess is a real adventure for Proxima Books. This is a our first YA e-novel designed for everyone who is a young reader at heart. Originally I had no intention of producing an e-book for a younger readership, but the quality of Harkess’ writing won me over in the first chapter. His outline was exciting enough, and he later told me it came as a flash of inspiration whilst on holiday in Wiltshire, it was written in two days. The rest of the family were not impressed with the timing of this. The concept of ‘Aphrodite’s Dawn’ is clearly classic sci-fi, but Harkess’ writing is aimed at a young twenty-first century audience;

Garret’s world is six floors tall by five hundred people wide, and he despairs of ever being happy. When a voice in his head offers the young man an escape from his boring life, he has no idea how apparently being offered everything he could want or need might change him. With his best friend Pitr in tow Garret seizes the opportunity, and their universe is thrown into confusion when they are told they are on an asteroid-sized sleeper-ship. The asteroid’s computer has been damaged, and cannot control the engines to deliver them to their new home. Garret is asked to take a message to the other end of the world. This is just the beginning of their quest, a journey which will take them through cities and forests, finding a powerful ally in the form of the beautiful Alyssa, and deadly enemies dedicated to stopping Garret, at any cost.

And so begins an ancient tale of a boy becoming a man, a hero’s journey across a through a decaying  hollow asteroid, where the stakes could not be higher. It is a truly epic tale, written in a fast exciting style.

Niall Boyce’s new Veronica Britton episode is no less ambitious. ‘The Last Londoner’ continues the time-adventures of his wonderful heroine and her, increasingly intimate, time-sensitive partner Gabrielle. Boyce expands the scale of Veronica’s new case so that it ranges from the ancient beginnings of London, to an apocalyptic far future. With the help of K, an agent who has his own date with destiny, Veronica and Gabrielle race against their most deadly foes to find a truly immortal figure. To say any more would be spoilers, suffice to say, any story that has Giant Ironclads chasing our heroes across a ruined future London has to be worth a read.

So, two new releases for 2012 – and lots more to come. Next month, Proxima 2.0 will be revealed. Keep watching the net!

Two Dark Books for the Long Night

Posted: November 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Two new e-books come from Proxima this month and, it being November, they have a very dark tone.

‘Hikikomori’ by Lawrence Pearce is a modern and challenging story exploring alienation, isolation, and ‘madness’. There are elements of Polanski, Palahniuk and ‘American Psycho’ in this. A hikikomori is defined in Japanese culture as the phenomenon of people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. Lawrence takes this basic situation and introduces a supernatural element, combined with a very clever use of structure, and delivers an incredible ‘pay-off’ at the novella’s climax. Here Lawrence Pearce shows his writing experience, previously writing and directing the cult horror film ‘Night Junkies’  to produce an intense, erotic and disturbing psychological story which sucks the reader into the worlds of his protagonists.

 ‘Aleera: Tainted Blood’ is the creation of a young writer, Joseph Mead who is in his early twenties and first conceived of his succubus heroine when he was only sixteen. Recently I caught the American series ‘Lost Girl’ based on a similar premise, and while it shares many of the same features, the show cannot match the intensity of Joseph’s story and main protagonist. Joseph’s Aleera is a very attractive character, full of contradictory energies, brimming with sexuality and violence. She is in her late teenage years, but has experienced a deeply traumatic and abusive existence at the hands of her succubus mother and ruthless demonic father. While she attempts to make a ‘normal’ life in New York, she is surrounded by magical conspiracies and becomes involved to catch a serial killer, before he catches her.

On the way to a devastating conclusion, she becomes involved in a three-way mutual attraction which threatens to become a full-blown sexual relationship, and she struggles to come to terms with her own sadistic enjoyment in hurting, torturing and killing her enemies.

A great read by a young writer who has a long successful career ahead of him.

Having survived the epic adventure that was Fantasycon 2011 and gathering many of our Proxima authors in the same room for the first time, I’ve  been wondering how else I could promote our launch books. We seem to have ended up with quite an eclectic mix of formats: (Print Novel, Print collection of Short Stories, e-novel and e-serial.) and examples of a wide variety of subject matter. Meeting the authors for the first time in the flesh (the wonders of cyberspace means none of us had ever had a face-to-face meeting) reminded me again of my enthusiasm for their initial submissions. So I’m sure (I hope!) they won’t mind me sharing my first e-mail responses to their submitted MS.

My very first acceptance was Jonathan Pinnock’s ‘Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens’. Here’s what I said:

I have now had the opportunity to read your manuscript and would be happy for Proxima to publish your hilarious book. There are so many laugh-out-load moments; I was in tears reading out the tale of Colin the pigeon to my wife. The combination of the ghost prostitutes and aliens works beautifully, Sir Humphrey Davey is a great co-star. Also Byron’s involvement, and his effect upon Charlotte, is inspired.

 

Next across my desk was Charles Christian’s short story collection, ‘This is the Quickest Way Down’:

“Waiting for my Mocha to cool”  has a killer first page, and is a primer for the themes explored in the rest of the book. It clearly has the author’s voice and is confidently written.

“Already Gone” is a sharp piece of of flash fiction.

“Kastellorizon” is a good solid traditional sci-fi story.

“More Important Than Baby Stenick”  has the vibe of an early Michael Moorcock.

“The End of Flight Number 505″ had the feel of an old-fashioned piece of sci-fi, a bit like “The Twilight Zone”.

“This is the  Quickest Way Down” is my favourite – it’s a sharp Harlan  Ellison type story, that’s very dark and very sexy.

“A Beretta for Azrella” is great fun, written in a kind of ‘cybernoir meets the devil’ style.

“Don’t Take me to the Bridge” is a good mystery horror fantasy.

“The Hot Chick” is a very funny and naughty satire on sci-fi authors and conventions.

“Confessions of a Teenage Ghost-Hunter” is a neat and pleasant ghost story.

“By The Steps OF Villefranche Station” is a great long-story to end the collection. A confident piece of a gentle apocalypse, very J.G. Ballard, that combines many of the themes that run through the book.

And finally, Niall Boyce introduced me to ‘Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective’:

I really like how you dive straight into the action – sets the dynamic tone for the rest of the piece and grabs the reader right from page 1. Veronica is a hugely attractive character with massive potential for development, and the support characters are also charming. I like your sense of humour throughout the piece, and feel that you write in a clear style that carries the reader along with the adventure. A particular stand-out scene is the fantastic time-disturbed house and the ‘haunting’ effects of the malfunctioning time pool; worthy of ‘Sapphire and Steel’, and the present regime’s ‘Dr Who’

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novella, there’s a bit of the ghost of Sexton Blake about the whole concept, and very much look forward to reading the second story.

It’s wonderful to realise all these stories are now out in the public domain, available from WHSmith, Waterstones, Amazon and Salt Publishing. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did when I first saw the initial manuscripts.