To one degree or another, all of my novels involve the supernatural. Not explicitly for the most part – they’re not populated by material ghoulies, but rather visited by them peripherally, questionably – but the possibility of the impossible runs through the work, with the intention of dizzying the characters’ relationship to reality as well as the readers’ (if all goes well). But that’s just to describe what’s happening on the page. What’s considerably more odd is when the weirdness of the books graduate to the weirdness of readers’ real lives.
It hasn’t happened a lot. But it has happened. A reader will write or approach me after I’ve given a reading or talk. Their eyes are often downcast with embarrassment or, once or twice, widened with real fear. They will then tell me how something from one of my books has been sighted in their own experience, as though a spirit from the novel has transferred to haunt them.
I don’t want to suggest that this has led to any kind of Amityville Horror-style disruptions or anything. Nothing actually bad has been triggered. Usually, it’s just someone thinking they’ve seen a character from The Killing Circle on a Toronto street, or having a vivid dream about The Boy from The Guardians. Chilling, perhaps, but only mildly freaky from a How-Do-You-Explain-That? point of view.
The publication of the new novel, The Demonologist, is still several months off, but there has now been three distinct episodes of higher-grade weirdness reported to me by early readers of the manuscript. For the first time ever, one of them is me.
I’m actually compiling a little file of these things, as I find it interesting, even if I don’t take it too seriously. Still, if any more of this kind of stuff goes on I might have to write something about it. For now, I’ve just been nudged a half-inch closer to wondering about the magical aspects of giving life to stories, where “magical” is intended in the “dark arts” sense and not the Walt Disney, “feel like a carefree kid again” sense.
Just heard from Orion that the mass market paperback edition of The Guardians has gone into its second printing in its first week out in the U.K. Hope this means a few more otherwise good night’s sleeps will be trans-Atlantically spoiled…
The mass market edition of The Guardians makes its oh-so-affordable appearance in the U.K. next week (publishing on February 2nd). It’s a novel with a haunted house in it, which explains the, well, haunted-looking house on the cover.
To all those living in or traveling to Britain in the coming days, keep an eye out. If you happen to see copies in a store somewhere, let me know. Better yet, read it. Satisfaction (or at least some seriously twisted dreams) guaranteed.
The Guardians – UK Mass Market Edition
The publishing industry is informed, in large part, by long-established truisms. People only buy hardcovers at Christmas. Summer reading means fluff. Nobody buys books in January. Only men like scary stories.
Some of these are verifiably true, of course. Others not remotely so. In particular, I have always doubted the “right book for the right season” approach to reading (and publishing, and bookselling). Are we really hard-wired to crave sombre literary doorstoppers from November 1 to December 24? Are low-brow thrillers best consumed on a beach in July? Do we want romance in the two weeks leading up to the fourteenth day of February any more than we want romance any other time? For me, it’s a no to all of these self-fulfilling “facts” of readerly habits. All of them…except one.
If you live in a geography where there are pronounced seasons that include autumn you know the shivery magic of October. There’s something about the coolness of the evenings, the leaves scraping down the street, the solitary walks home with the branches chattering your name overhead…
Ghosts didn’t invent the autumn. But it may well be that the autumn invented ghosts.
This year, I’m currently curled up with a work of non-fiction that, while a serious work of scholarship, conveys its fair share of brainy chills: Satan: A Biography, by Henry Ansgar Kelly (University of Cambridge Press). It’s research. But utterly fascinating research (I feel another blog coming on, but will resist for now).
Naturally, this being an author’s website, I would recommend my own books for an October read. (Didn’t you notice? The Guardians is out in paperback in North America!) But I would personally be interested to hear of any of your own scary recommendations. I’m looking for a new Halloween read. Something I’ve never heard of before. Ideas?
The title just about says it all.
The trade paperback edition of The Guardians is available in stores and on-line (and everywhere else) in Canada and the U.S. on September 13, and though this announcement comes a day early, you can go to your favourite bookseller and politely hound them to bust open the boxes if they haven’t already (or order the damn thing if they neglected to). Trust me: booksellers love being hounded.
I am especially psyched about this edition because it feels so good. You know that slightly rough, grippy paper they use on paperbacks sometimes? It’s got that. And the spooky house on the cover is just right. And my name – though large – isn’t James Patterson-sized. And the red foil on the title does a shiny thing when you turn it around in the light. And…I just like it.
Which is not always the case with a book’s design. Despite everyone’s best intentions, covers can sometimes turn out a bit turdy. Not this one, my friends! So hit the streets or hit the web and check it out. And if you decide to purchase this thrilling and edifying cultural product, you have my gratitude and undying loyalty.
I’ve been reading Milton’s Paradise Lost a lot these days (it plays an important role in the novel I’m working on) and so, whenever I hear someone say “the fall,” I automatically think of Adam and Eve, the Original Sin, ambitious angels-turned-demons, evil and the like. Of course, fall also refers to the autumn, which is (sorry!) just around the corner. It may bring you forbidden fruit, or maybe just soggy leaves in the yard. I can tell you that it looks like it’s bringing me a busier-than-expected bunch of readings and appearances. (They have a way of sneaking in, even when you’re battening down the hatches).
If you go over to the Readings & Appearances page here, there is now an updated list of things you may want to come out to. I would, as always, be very happy to meet you, see you again, or just read to your anonymous self in the back row.
With the paperback publication of The Guardians set for September 13 in Canada and the US, and with the UK paperback due early in the new year, I’m presently enjoying the my-work-here-is-done process of viewing, tweaking, and signing off on new cover art and text for the reprint editions. There are haunting new images for both the North American and British covers. And there are also some reviews that have come to my attention that I missed the first time around. One of them boosted my spirits enough (and I needed the boosting, as I’m getting deeper into the uncharted waters of my new novel) that I felt I would indulge myself in blurbing it here. It appeared in the UK’s Mail on Sunday.
“Pyper is the most striking Canadian crime writer to emerge in recent years and The Guardians is a characteristically intelligent move into Stephen King territory.” – Mail on Sunday
Once the glow of reading this wore off (and the glow wears off too damn fast for my liking – reality has a way of roughly pushing self-congratulation aside) it provoked a thought. Will there ever come a time when some other writer will be said to make a move into “Andrew Pyper territory”? And if they do, should I point a shotgun in their direction and tell them to get off my lawn, or invite them in for drinks? (I strongly suspect it will be the latter, just so you don’t get too worried…)
What’s so great about September 13th? No, it’s not a Friday, so it won’t remind you of those horror movies featuring Jason Voorhees, the unforgiving ghoul with the machete in the goalie mask. And no, it’s not my birthday (so please no gifts, unless you had a bottle of Redbreast Irish in mind). I’ll TELL you what so great about September 13th…
It’s the publication date for The Guardians in the US! And it doesn’t stop there: September 13th is also the publication date for The Guardians trade paperback edition in Canada.
Mark your calendars! Clear the day of all meetings! Wash your sleeping bag and spend the night of the 12th outside your favourite bookstore to be the first in line! (Okay, I’m excited. Hyperbole is a side effect).
The Guardians has recently appeared in its Dutch translation, and the reviews have quite possibly been the most enthusiastic of them all (and this is saying something, as I have to say that, overall, The Guardians has been the best-reviewed of all my novels). Here’s a couple samples:
“* * * * * [Five stars]. Beautifully written…The characters are drawn with extraordinary skill.” — de Volkskrant
“Brilliant…The Guardians is an excellent and unique thriller, the kind that makes your heart beat faster and faster. Pyper excels at the ghostly, and the supernatural elements have been worked out perfectly.” — NRC Handelsblad
I am especially happy about these notices because, of all the publishers that have brought my novels to print, my longest relationship has been with Ambo|Anthos. It’s funny, but my Dutch publisher is the only one to have published all of my novels. I love them for this, but also for their publisher, Chris Herschdorfer. On the occasions I have travelled to Amsterdam for booky reasons, Chris always takes me to this ancient bar that serves an equally ancient, yellowy gin. We mean only to have one, but drink three. Also, a few years ago, when Ambo|Anthos was celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Literary Thriller list, they – get this – flew me over to Amsterdam for the party. And it was one hell of a party.
Now that’s a publisher.
In case you missed it (I am aware some of you have jobs), here’s the live (though now not-so-live) webcast I did for Zoomer Magazine last week. They were great (thanks Athena!) and I was honoured that they picked The Guardians as the first title in their new on-line Book Club. For a webcast, too, you’ll see that this is very professionally shot and produced. And while I’m not exactly Charlie Sheen on the Must Watch scale, but there’s a couple laughs and possibly even intelligent comments in there…
Andrew Pyper – Zoomer webcast