My job as Commissioning Fiction editor here at Templar has many thrills to it. There’s the tingle when you read something outstanding on submission – that exciting gut reaction when you know you really, REALLY want to publish it. Then there’s the adrenaline pulse of the offer/negotiation stage, where hopes can be realised or sometimes cruelly dashed. Then there’s the satisfying, if sometimes tricky, editorial crafting, the role the publisher plays in bringing out the best in a book, as well as the creative thrill of brain-storming cover ideas with our hugely talented designer. I also have to admit there’s the massive thrill in talking about our books to other people. I am wholly and unashamedly a fully signed-up Book Pusher – sorry, just can’t help myself.
But perhaps the biggest thrill is when a beautiful finished copy arrives pre-publication.
Yesterday we took shipment of the advance copies of Katherine Roberts new book, SWORD OF LIGHT, the first in an epic new Arthurian series. Now to understand my excitement at seeing this book, let me take you back to the end of November 2010…
I had just begun consulting on Templar’s fiction list as Commissioning editor, and I had also just taken delivery of a new iPhone. It was the weekend, I was probably watching X-factor, when I picked up an email on my phone from author Katherine Roberts. In a terrible polite and unassuming email Katherine mentioned that she had sent a book proposal through our slush-pile submissions email, but that the kindly Mary Hoffman had recommended she send it to me as well.
I’d been a fan of Katherine’s early work (Song Quest and Spell Fall) and with one click I had opened the synopsis and chapter samplers on my iPhone and stepped into the magical world of Rhianna Pendragon. Instantly I was gripped. It was proper quest-based adventure. Merlin, magic, mist horses, epic quests, bitter, twisted villains and a feisty, redheaded heroine, who happened to be Arthur’s seecret daughter. And all this from squinting at my iPhone. Now whilst I admit to being new to this acquisitions game, I knew this was something special. I had that spine-chilling, tingling feeling. I felt the same way about Rhianna and Elphin as I’d felt when I first read a story about a certain boy wizard, or that one about hobbits and fellowships. I knew I wanted more. I knew kids would want more, and I knew we could give Rhianna a wonderful home at Templar Fiction.
So here we are over a year later, and now it’s time to release Rhianna and SWORD OF LIGHT into the wider world. It’s scary but hugely exciting, and I’m confident over the next months she’ll be leading hoards of readers through Avalon, Camelot and Annwn.
Publishing each fiction title is a journey. From germ of an idea, or rough first draft to the finished book, it can be a journey of many twists and turns. But it’s full of excitement and potential and it’s a journey I’d take any day. Like the best journeys, it pays to be with a good bunch of fellow travellers, so here’s my list of Oscar-style thank-yous.
Firstly and foremostly, thanks to Katherine for the most amazing story. I can’t wait to read the next instalments of Rhianna’s adventures. Thanks to Mary for suggesting she send it to us. Thanks to Emma at Templar for editing and loving Rhianna’s quests as much as I do. Thanks to Will, James, Scott and Tomislav for the wonderful designs and illustrations.
I can't wait to hear what readers think of Rhianna's adventures, so here’s 2012 – The Year of Pendragon.
Helen, Commissioning Fiction Editor
The Pendragon Legacy Book 1: SWORD OF LIGHT by Katherine Roberts, publishes in HB February 2012, £9.99