Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Landing McDermid

Whoever said that things stay the same in the crime-fiction genre, it certainly wasn’t me. As I was packing this morning for a short trip to London, where I’m to join some reviewer colleagues at the HarperCollins Crime Dinner, I received a press release from Little, Brown UK. No doubt this news will be brought up over wine tonight:
International bestseller Val McDermid [A Darker Domain] is moving from HarperCollins to Little, Brown for her UK publishing. Agent Jane Gregory has brokered a two-book deal with Sphere Publisher, David Shelley, for UK and Commonwealth rights, the first of which will be a new Tony Hill novel for publication in 2009.

Val McDermid commented: ‘I’m very excited at the prospect of working with David Shelley and the Little, Brown team. Writers thrive on change and challenge, and I’m looking forward to being invigorated by my new publishing environment.’

Shelley said: ‘I have long been a passionate fan of Val’s. I think she is an incredibly brave and fascinating writer who is writing at the peak of her powers. She has many supporters at Little, Brown, and we are all very much looking forward to working with her and lifting her sales to the next level.’

Gregory said: ‘Val’s writing is going from strength to strength and we feel that Little Brown will make her the huge bestseller she deserves to be.’

Little, Brown CEO and Publisher Ursula Mackenzie said: ‘I could not be more thrilled. Val McDermid is a superb writer and as a company we have huge plans for her.’

McDermid’s most recent novel is the critically acclaimed standalone, A Darker Domain, and her latest book to be adapted for TV is A Place of Execution, which was broadcast last month on ITV1.
Soon after that release arrived, I received McDermid’s e-mail letter to her readers, in which she highlights the reasons for this change in publishers and recounts her recent travels in the United States:
I travelled to Baltimore in October for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. I’ve been to 11 of these now, but this was one of the best. A lot of that was due to the venue, which was perfectly suited to both the formal and informal aspects of the convention. By which I mean that the bar was big enough and well-enough staffed. I took part in four panels, all of which were enormous fun. I particularly enjoyed the Pub Quiz on the Saturday evening, when, ably supported by Miles Alfrey and Martyn Waites, our team came a very close second. Obviously, we were robbed.

After Bouchercon, I travelled to St. Paul in Minnesota to take part in the annual gala fundraiser for the Friends of the St. Paul Library. This was an extraordinary event. 750 people, a sit-down three-course dinner, four writers talking for 15 minutes each, and phenomenal book sales. I signed for two hours. I don’t think I’ve ever taken part in so well-organised an event. As if that wasn’t enough there was a fantastic view of the Mississippi from my bedroom window. And they plied me with gorgeous organic apples. I was lucky enough to have some time to spend with my good friends and fellow writers Ellen Hart and R.D. Zimmerman, who reminded me why the Midwest has such a reputation for hospitality.

From St. Paul, I flew to New York to take part in a round-table discussion to celebrate the U.S. publication of Stieg Larsson’s remarkable debut novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Larsson was a campaigning journalist who tragically died after completing his third crime novel. His first novel had been published in Sweden before his death, but he didn’t live to see the phenomenal success it has become throughout Europe and now in the U.S. I love the book, and I was very touched to be invited to help launch it in America.

Finally, I travelled to Provincetown [Massachusetts] to take part in the annual Women’s Week activities. I joined several of my fellow authors from my wife Kelly’s publishing house, Bywater Books, in a series of events comprising Bywater Books Celebration of Reading. Jill Malone, Mari SanGiovani, Marianne K. Martin, Cynn Chadwick and I hosted an afternoon of panel discussions culminating in a caucus-style vote for the Best Lesbian Read of the 20th Century. Online votes over the summer had decided the shortlist, and the final choice was Katherine V. Forrest’s Curious Wine, with Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit as the close runner-up.
Read more about McDermid’s switch of publishers here. And incidentally, she was the late Elaine Flinn’s last guest at her Evil-E blog. Click here to read the piece.

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