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Abaddon open subs: why they won

Hey there!

So with Abaddon’s 2017 Open Submissions Month just around the corner, I’ve been asked to knock together a few short blogs on submitting: what you should be looking to submit, how to grab my attention, and so on. I’ve a few topics in mind, but I figured the best way to start is by talking about what worked before.

So let’s talk about our past winners. Any submissions pile is a big ol’ heap, and there’s usually lots more that are good enough to publish than there are spaces on the publishing schedule. So what made them stand out? Why did I pick this handful of stories rather than any of the other great submissions?

All these answers and more below…


My first ever submissions stack! There were some great ideas extending our existing lines – hyperspace-jumping children for Weird Space, baby farming in the Afterblight Chronicles (not to eat, although the story was still pretty unsettling), vampires in Pax Britannia – but unsurprisingly I received many more pitches for new worlds. In the end I picked one of each, chiefly on the strength of the proposals (although both were well-written):

Dead Stop by Mark Clapham. The Tomes of the Dead series is all about the high concept. Zombies are a large, noisy genre full of very samey stories, and what we’ve done from the outset is find ways of turning them on their heads: historical settings, weird genres (zombie gumshoe, zombie love triangle) and mashups (zombies vs vampires), and so on. Mark’s pitch tickled me from the outset: a zombie/ghost story mashup, in which a Sixth Sense-style medium is asked to kill a mindless zombie… by her own ghost.

Under the Skin by E. E. Richardson. I like the big, the flashy and the high-camp as much as the next reader, but the stuff that really fires my imagination is surprisingly quotidian; worlds that feel immediate and familiar, where the supernatural or science fictional is grounded in the real. Elizabeth’s Ritual Crime Unit proposal did this wonderfully: a regional police procedural straight off ITV with a great protagonist, where (unreliable, poorly understood, but unquestionably real) ritual magic is a problem the police sometimes have to deal with.

As a matter of fact, I also picked up two other writers, Malcom Cross and C. B. Harvey, whose pitches didn’t grab me, but whose voice and writing were enough to inspire me to ask them to pitch again. They both gave me fantastic novellas for The Afterblight Chronicles, and Malcolm went on to co-write Extinction Biome: Invasion and Colin now works as a game writer for Rebellion Developments, our parent company!


As part of the tenth-anniversary Abaddon X celebrations, we threw the doors open again. Again there were far more pitches for new worlds – a society driven by alchemy, a world where superheroes and villains rig showdowns for publicity – than our existing series, and this time I chose three: two set in our existing worlds and one new world.

The Lazarus Conundrum, by Paul Starkey. Again, Tomes of the Dead is mostly about the high concept, and Paul’s post-zombie-apocalypse world was a joy: in a world where everyone rises again where they die, everyone has excellent health care and unremovable heartrate monitors, and the paramedics’ main job is to double-tap you when they come to collect. So what happens when, for the first time in years, someone doesn’t come back as a zombie?

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef, by Cassandra Khaw. The concept here was neat – Kuala Lumpur, a gangster/sorcerer-turned-chef, a noir plot about a murder – but the voice was the thing. Chuck Wendig kicked Gods and Monsters off with a distinctive voice, sarcastic and baity, and Stephen Blackmoore followed him brilliantly; anyone stepping into that world had their work cut out. Cass’s submission was incredibly polished, and the voice was perfect. Rupert is witty, ironic, callous and breezy, and fits in the world of shitty gods and awful humans like he was born there.

Midnight in the Garden Centre of Good and Evil, by Colin Sinclair. There were any number of radical new series ideas, and if you’d asked me in advance, I’d have said something simple and traditional was the last thing I was looking for. But on the face of it, Tomes of the Dead is a simple, traditional concept – literally just “zombie novels with a difference” – and it consistently produces some of our most off-the-wall stories. Colin’s idea of “alien invasions with a difference” was striking in its simplicity, and Garden Centre carried overtones of Kevin Smith’s Clerks and Ed Wright’s The World’s End that I loved.

Take from this what you will! For my money, I’d say: if you want to be like these guys, then surprise me; turn things upside down; hit me with a fun, distinctive voice.

Next week: Subverting Genre

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Happy publication day Monstrous Little Voices!

The most auspicious of days has finally arrived: Monstrous Little Voices, our collection of five new tales from Shakespeare’s fantasy world, is out today.

Our celebration of the Bard, which was comissioned to celebrate 400 years since his death, has been a labour of love for Abaddon editor David Thomas Moore. You can read all about how Monstrous Little Voices in this interview over at Rising Shadow.

David has also been writing about the inspiration behind the collection here at the Abaddon blog, as well as paying tribute to Lisa Jardine, the Shakespeare scholar that inspired his love of the Bard. 

Finally, David has written a teaser story that ties into the collection – read “Blessed Candles of the Night” right now for an extra piece in the puzzel that is Monstrous Little Voices


We’ve been delighted with the reaction Monstrous Little Voices has been getting, with a four and a half star review from SFX leading the charge:

But that’s not all – there have been great reviews across the board:

So there you have it – our superb new collection is out in the wild, waiting for you to snap it up. 

Monstrous Little Voices is out now!

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How does 2015 measure up?

As you will definitely have seen, today is Back To The Future day. We won’t patronise you by explaining what that means, sufficed to say if you don’t know, well, it’s probably too late for you.

We’ve decided to throw ourselves into the Back To The Future-fest by asking ourselves: how does the 2015 that is measure up to the 2015 that was? Team Rebellion ponders small towns, technology and tiny, tiny pizzas…


1985-me is still looking up at the sky waiting for the device, any device, which will fly me to my destination instead of walking, driving or taking the bus. I live in London so alright, yes, there are public bikes I can rent for less than the price of a return bus trip and cycle across town and that doesn’t suck. But I think Amsterdam had something similar in the eighties, so we haven’t travelled that far. Of course the grown-up me would be horrified if the sky was filled with the rage-based drivers that clog the roads, dripping strange and no doubt deadly-in-thirty-years particles from their exhausts. So maybe it’s a matter of small mercies.

Maybe the most far-fetched idea in the whole of Back to the Future is that of a thriving small town in 2015, full of people both young and old. Give me some disaffected teenagers hanging out in the rain by the dilapidated bus-shelter while working age stiffs are at best travelling to the nearest big conurbation to work, while pensioners rifle through the charity shops on the dilapidated main street, and then we’re talking.

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Editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver

Let’s face it. Hoverboards would be a right pain in the arse. I get annoyed enough as it is with cyclists on the pavement and running red lights, so if I had to also contend with some no good punk kids on their flying planks, I think I’d spend most of my time in a barely contained rage. Flying cars would be cool. Until they start dropping from the skies.

I was 7 in 1985, and I must admit I can’t remember a huge amount about back then. But I was 11 in 1989, when the film came out (and yes, I saw it at the cinema too), and if I could go back in time and dazzle myself with a story of this future, I guess one of the first things would be how damn good video games are now. I used to have a ZX Spectrum 128K (oh yes, that’s one-two-eight, count them my friends) and games were cool and all, but I quickly got bored of them. I actually stopped playing video games and read more books instead (I know, bloody swot!). But now games are incredible – they’re narratively more complex, graphically dazzling and give the player a lot more.

Also, I’d enjoy telling my 11 year old self that I would one day work at 2000 AD, meet some of my very favourite writers and work for a living reading and shaping stories.

But yes, I’d be disappointed we hadn’t got out of the solar system, and that we still had a bloody Tory government.

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Abaddon commissioning editor David Thomas Moore

The lazy answer is the technology. No hover boards, flying cars, self-tightening sneakers or holobillboards, but if you’d found 1985-era David and told him he would one day carry a device about the size of a deck of cards in his pocket that was around 10,000 times more powerful than his Commodore 64, which could run for nearly 2 days without recharge, could make phone or video calls – most of which would be free, covered by his contract – anywhere in the world, could play several video games, and would be permanently connected to a global network that could do everything from show all TV and films, to shopping, to accessing what can fairly be described as the whole collected knowledge of the human race, and would cost no more (for both the device and the connection) than a halfway decent meal in a chain restaurant every month, he’d have told you to fuck off.

Actually, he might not have told you to fuck off, because he was ten. I’m not sure; in my fevered imaginings, he’s also sporting three days’ stubble and smoking a cigarette, and I don’t think either of those things were true either. Certainly he’d have been extremely sceptical.

But the subtler, stranger shock to me is the change in how people think about the end of the world. Books like The Hunger Games are still very popular, and of course we’ve all had those conversations – at tedious length, in some cases – about what we would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, but it only occurred to me a couple months ago how similar these conversations are to the conversations me and my mate used to have in the ’80s, when we were talking about, y’know, the original-recipe apocalypse. It’s weird to realise how most people younger than me have never really had that fear (although way things are going, who knows?).

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Rob Power, PR & Marketing coordinator

Of course Back To The Future got loads wrong about 2015, but it wasn’t too far off the mark. We’re about to have Star Wars VII, which isn’t quite Jaws 19 but… well, it’s quite a bit better really isn’t it? We don’t have hoverboards but we do have these bad boys, which I recently saw a squad rolling down Oxford Street on as if it wasn’t the most absurd thing that had ever happened anywhere.

Our 2015 isn’t that bad, as long as you scrub your brain of all the Tories and inequality and panic-attack inducing future shocks. Like petulent digital dictators, we can talk to tiny glowing rectangles and they will do our bidding. A man in Peru can order a hand-crocheted My Little Pony hat from a girl in Swindon, and have it in his hands within a week. Oh, and we’ve probably just discovered the remains of an actual Death Star.

So really, I’m about as happy with 2015 as I have been with any other year*. Ultimately, the biggest disappointment for me when I think of Marty McFly’s future is that we still haven’t figured out how to put a tiny pizza in a metal box, press a button and turn it into a massive pizza. So let’s get on that, yeah?

*Which is about 17% happy, FYI.

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My Year in Review

Hey yo,

So I’m visiting my old home town in Adelaide (and yes, I will be visiting the old library while I’m here), and I’ve been sitting in old bars and cafes I used to frequent, and walking down old streets I’ve not trod for decades, and I’m feeling reflective.

But nice as it’s been to think back on old years and reconnect a bit with my past, it’s given me fresh pause to think about the here and now, and – of course – to think about the year, on this its last day. And since, dammit, this blog is my fucking soapbox, I’m going to do it right here.

I almost hesitate to call 2014 a year of change for me, because 2013 was so much more so; but if anything, change keeps happening for me. I’m not the person I was twelve months ago, and my life, while cosmetically similar, isn’t the same life. Let’s call it ‘continuous change’ and just say I’m living in interesting times.

There have been loads of highs, especially for me (and, of course, Abaddon), and a few lows, largely for the world in general. There’s been a lot to rejoice in, and a lot to learn from. So, since this is the internet, let’s do this list-style:

My Job

I hit five years in the industry and with Rebellion late this year, and it’s been a ride. More than anything, I’m grateful that part of my job is being able to say “yes” to writers. I’ve been running Abaddon for a little over a year as well, and this was the year that many of my babies – the commissions that were wholly my call, from conception to contract – hit the shelves. It’s been incredible seeing Sarah’s Uprising, and Adrian, Malcolm and Colin’s Journal of the Plague Year, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, among others, turn up in the flesh (as it were), and I’m proud of what we’ve done.

Pictured: The moment a little bit of wee came out.

To say nothing of the social whirlwind that is publishing, flying to World Fantasy Con and gettin’ down at LonCon and FantasyCon and the like. It’s always a blast spending time with the brilliant, bizarre people of the genre world.

Pictured: Work.

My Writers

Which brings me to the people who write for me. Between approaching people I already knew, giving the nod to submissions and simply trawling for talent at conventions, commissioning puts you in touch with an exraordinary mix of people. I’ve met, worked with and now Facebook-stalk some brilliant men and women this past twelve months, and my life is richer for them.

Pictured: An argument for better security at mental health institutions.

My Writing!

And of course, if you didn’t already know it, I’m a writer myself, with a handful of short fiction credits to my name, and this was the year I was selected for my first Year’s Best anthology, for my mummy-romance short, “Old Souls,” from Jurassic’s Book of the Dead (which you should totes read). The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, is out now.

Pictured: The moment a bit more wee than I should admit to came out.


It’s been a big year for space, it seems, between the ESA landing a probe on a comet half a billion kilometres away, India launching their space programme with a 100% successful remote mission, and the first stages of a seemingly solid commitment by NASA to land a human being on Mars already underway.

Pictured: Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

I’m… not going to go into the shirt. Suffice it to say I was one of those who felt it was out of line, but that complaint was delivered, it was acknolwedged, and amends were made in a few hours, and the only people still going on about it even a day later were GamerGaters trying to be relevant.


…which brings us to one of the real downers of the year. If you don’t already know who and what GamerGate are, you’re genuinely better off at this point not knowing, and at any rate a lot of people have done it better than I probably would already, so Google it if you’d like. The tl;dr is it’s not been a proud time to be white, male, middle-class, a nerd, a fan of games or on the internet the past few months.

Pictured: An ethic.

It has had its plus points, including this Tumblr feed and the entry onto the world stage of such brilliant, inspirational women as Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu, but the best thing it’s achieved so far is gradually dying away (although it seems it’s not quite dead yet).


While I’m on a down note… Look, I’m not American and I’m not in America, so I appreciate this is an outside perspective and I don’t fully understand the situation, but…

Honestly? It’s really easy not to kill unarmed people. I do it all day. I could come round and show you how. In the meantime, while I’m sure there’s context and it’s all very complex, it just seems like something could be happening differently, and like the people with the ability to make that happen aren’t really listening to the people asking for it. A lot of people are hurting, and a lot of people are angry, and the people with more power and more culpability are shouting at everyone else about how not enough people are empathising with them, and not trying real hard to empathise with anyone else. Not sure what the deal is, but I’m praying for you guys to sort yourselves out.

Marriage Rights

Alright, screw that negative shit. Honestly, if you told me five years ago that David fucking Cameron was going to usher in equal marriage rights in the UK, I’d have called you a goddamned liar to your face, and it turns out I’d have been a fool to do so. Already I have several friends who have jumped on the privilege, and I’m so happy to be living in a time when they can make that choice. Not least because, if this can change, what else can we do in our lifetimes?


Because… okay, yeah, I’m a big old feminist, in a time when that word is so contentious Time magazine apparently thought it was cool to call for it to be expunged from the English language, and I’m sometimes called a “Facebook feminist” or a “social justice warrior” (which to be honest sounds a lot more badass than the people saying this probably mean it to). But I’ve seen a hundred tiny steps forward this year, not least two people (that I can bring to mind) telling me directly that they’ve changed their outlook on gender in part because I’d helped them understand the world in a different way. It feels like the progressive side is under a huge attack, from the homophobes and the misogynists and the transphobes and the racists and those who demonise the poor – and all the rest – but I honestly believe that’s just because we got them scared.

Pictured: A feminist cookie, just for you.

So keep up the good fight, guys. You’re not the heroes they deserve etc.


A thousand, thousand times this.

Pictured: The whole future.

This little creature right here is the most amazing thing in the world. A year ago she couldn’t crawl; now she runs, climbs, sprints and speaks. She teaches me so much about her, and about myself, every day, that I can barely keep up. And she terrifies me; because I want to give her the world she deserves.

Have a fun evening, and a very happy New Year. Here’s to 2015 being even more amazing.


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Five Years a Geek

I was one of the lucky ones.

A bachelor’s degree in English is not notoriously a career qualification (there’s a whole song devoted to the fact). There’s academia, of course, or teaching (my initial plan, which didn’t survive uni); and English degrees serve as jumping-off points for unrelated careers, like law or politics. But actual jobs in word-wrangling are like hen’s teeth. It’s basically just journalism or publishing, and those are traditionally fields where a huge number of candidates battle fiercely for a small number of jobs on miserable salaries.

So, naturally, nine years after leaving university, with a modestly successful career in events and technology in the banking sector (because of course), I decided to pack it all in and become an editor. That should be easy, right?

But I got lucky. I got into Rebellion Publishing just as it took over the Solaris imprint from Black Library, beating down more than a hundred and forty other candidates for the junior editorial role, based almost entirely on my winning personality and on a powerful hypnosis gun developed by the CIA for interrogating super-criminals.

And I’ve never looked back. Five years – and, at a very rough guess, nine million words – later, I’m the commissioning editor for a punky, edgy midlist imprint I’m hugely proud to be steering and representing, I’ve learned skills I never imagined I’d need, and I’ve become part of a huge community of wonderful, neurotic, spirited, diverse and brilliant people.

That said, here are five things I’ve learned in five years being a professional word-nerd:

We really are the bad guys.

I wasn’t really prepared for this – possibly because, while I’ve always written, in a hobbyish sort of way, I’d never really tried to make a living from it – but some people out there really hate us. I went to a writers’ con a few years back (the excellent alt.fiction, in Derby), and in some of the panels, the vitriol from the audience – and questions like “So how long do you think it’ll take ebooks to kill publishing?” – got slightly alarming. The sheer volume and intensity of the Hachette/Amazon thing may have seemed startling, but really it just tapped into something that’s been there for years.

It’s understandable, if you’ve been knocked back enough times, and I totally appreciate that I’m in the hugely privileged position of pulling down a monthly salary instead of scraping by on advances and royalties, but it was… eye-opening.

Writers can be some of the best – and worst – people to work with.

Long before I became a professional editor, I was a sort of de facto one. I was everyone’s one guy you send things to to make sure they’re spelled right. Bosses would ask me to read emails, friends would send me their CVs. And I got to learn that most people don’t want editing, aside from a very light spelling and grammar check. They want to be told that their writing’s fine by someone who should know.

At their worst, that habit carries over into a writer’s professional writing career. I’ve had writers fight me over every change, demand extra passes, cling desperately to their darlings, profess to having been driven to tears (or drink), and demand to be assigned a different editor (or to be assigned to me from another editor). You listen patiently, you try and show your reasoning, you negotiate, and – ultimately – you let them have their way, because it’s their name on the cover. Editing is a collaboration.

But the vast – vast – majority of authors are a delight. They want to be edited; they want their work to be the best it can, and the closer and more brutal an edit I give them, the happier they are. I’ve had veterans of upwards of forty books singing my praises for excoriating their work, and new writers thanking me for helping them learn their craft. It’s absolutely bloody wonderful, and as long as it’s the majority I’m happy I’m doing it right.

This can be a pretty cynical industry.

(Some my personal experience; some related to me by friends and peers.)

“Can we have an exploding spaceship on it? People buy books with exploding spaceships on them.”
“The readers won’t get this from the title. Can you put a vampire on the cover?”
“Is this more like Terry Pratchett or Joe Abercrombie? For the tagline.”
“Make the covers look like George Martin books. Make it easier for them.”
“Add another male character. We need to appeal to the core male market.”

’Nuff said.

Nobody knows what’s coming up.

“Zombies are over.”
“No, steampunk’s over.”
“Vampires are over, mummies are next.”
“Post-apoc’s over, it’s child spies now.”
“Space opera’s over, it’s transhumanism next year.”
“Epic fantasy’s still in, but it needs to be by a person of colour.”
“No, epic fantasy’s over, it’s grimdark now.”
“No, grimdark’s dead, it’s political fantasy.”


You guys are the best.

Alright, gushy moment. But having spent a decade having to have a nerdy, flamboyant private persona and a (somewhat) more serious work persona, it’s been such a relief coming here. Publishers, writers, agents and community folk are bright, creative, intensely neurotic, interested in science and technology, hugely politically and socially aware, progressive, diverse, welcoming, relaxed, and engaged in an extraordinary mix of hobbies: my Facebook feed, at present, includes articles on historical martial arts, crochet patterns, cupcake recipes, Fermi’s Paradox, punctuation and grammar, bunnies, medieval manuscripts, politics, copyright law and mathematics. Every day’s an education.

A really odd education.



p.s.: The Munsters pics was Lydia’s idea. No, I don’t know either.

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My favourite library

Hey all,

So as you may or may not have heard, the City of Liverpool recently decided – against a backdrop of library closures and protest campaigns across the country – to close 11 of their 18 libraries; a decision, happily, that was reversed in response to a protest and a “love letter” to libraries by more than 500 authors, illustrators, musicians and actors. It’s a lovely story and a testament to the power of positive, collective action. And it’s a really big deal.

In response, Book Week Scotland and the Guardian are running a “Love Letters to Libraries” event, in which readers are invited to share their memories of their favourite libraries. And so I decided that I’d jump on the blog and share my own.


Goodwood is a busy little suburb near the centre of Adelaide, South Australia. It’s a popular commuter neighbourhood, being close to and convenient for the City, with a long row of shops, a slightly historic cinema, a number of beautiful colonial-era churches and any number of pubs. There are cool coffee shops and quirky little boutiques, because it’s that sort of area.

Goodwood Library isn’t particularly grand. It doesn’t have an extraordinary number of books, it’s not a vast or ancient building, no-one particularly famous wrote their manuscript in its reading room. You can’t even find, as I discovered today, a good picture online of it; the above slightly distorted image is a Google StreetView grab, and the best I could get.

What it is, however, is less than a hundred yards from Goodwood Primary School, where your author spent his formative years. It had close ties to the school, ran afterschool groups and, with a large playroom full of beanbags and climbing blocks, was generally very welcoming of kids.

We were a single-parent household, for most of my childhood; my mother worked long days, and my brother and sister and I took ourselves to and from school every day. The Library was a haven, at the end of the day, or at weekends when I wanted to get out of the house. Looking back, an extraordinary number of my memories of that time involved the library: reading, playing with friends, bothering the staff. I made friends there; I encountered the divine Miss Bette Midler’s stand-up routine in the record room; I played video games for the first time (I even won a competition one of the librarians ran, one Sunday); I even had my first slightly confused lesson about sex there, (shamefully) stealing a copy of The Joy of Sex to read (“look at”) out of sight.

And more than anything, I read. I’d go and read all day, then take home as many books as they let me borrow at the end of the day, so that I could keep reading until I came back.

Ultimately, my love of books (and my career in publishing) originated in my parents, both of whom kept houses full of books and both of whom I remember reading to me in my infancy. But it was nourished and nurtured by Goodwood Library, and while I have stood in many libraries since leaving Goodwood behind – some of them ancient and grand indeed – this will always be the library I remember best.

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Pumpkin Reveal!

Hi All,

So every year the Moore household carves several pumpkins, and as I’ve blogged before, I sometimes like to ask our readership for their thoughts and preferences as to suitably horrific or interesting designs. This year, I poked the Facebook and Twitter accounts asking for thoughts, and two came out that I was up for: Pumpkinstein’s Monster, and Judge Pumpkin.

Of course, Judge Pumpkin has never taken off his gourd. Only the hint of a flicker shows the true candle underneath.

Pumpkinstein’s Monster is quite sad. His existence is one of angst and suffering. He deserves your empathy…

Many thanks for your suggestions! I’ll be sure and poke you next year…

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Guest Post: Gini Koch on

I was encouraged to go to my first WorldCon this past year (September 2013) by prolific author L.E. Modesitt, Jr. We had a long discussion about the pros and cons of going, and Lee certainly made the pros sound far more exceptional than the cons.

So, because I’m a girl who’s definitely able to follow instructions (you know, when I wanna), and because Lee gave me quite a long list of benefits I could expect to reap by dint of attending and participating on panels and such, I headed off to San Antonio for what was a really wonderful convention experience.

It was the last day, and so far, everything Lee had said would happen had so happened, other than one thing: I hadn’t run into an editor and had them invite me into an anthology. Oh sure, Lee hadn’t said that this was a given, but he’d made the point that many times one only got invited into an anthology if one was right in front of an editor pulling said anthology together.

I was in the middle of the dealer room, chatting with Ellen Datlow, Carrie Vaughn, David Lee Summers, and a variety of attendees, when two tall men with British accents came up and started to talk to Ellen. As often happens when there are a lot of people around all talking to each other in a fluid group, people move off in and out of smaller groups, still there but talking amongst themselves. This happened here, leaving one of the Brits and me standing near each other and yet alone.

So, I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Gini Koch, I’m an author.”
“I’m David Moore,” he replied pleasantly. “I’m an editor.”
“Oh? What do you edit?”
“WELL, I’m working on an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories.”

At this moment I began to geek out like David was One Direction and I was a preteen girl. “Oh my GOD, I am a GIGANTIC Holmes fan!”
David, whose expression had been normally pleasant until now, got incredibly animated. “Me, too! Which Holmes do you like?”
“All of them! I used to swear I was a purist, that I only wanted ‘real’ Holmes, but now I realize it was a lie – I love any and every Holmes there is.”
“ME TOO! My anthology is going to put Holmes and Watson any time, anywhere, and in any way.”

At this point, David and I were both geeking out at the same level, having our own private Holmesian convention – albeit a convention of two, but two really PASSIONATE attendees – while everyone else was still enjoying WorldCon. However, as excited as we were, I’m sure we weren’t jumping up and down. Okay, not much jumping. Okay, we probably were, but I don’t believe there’s photographic proof, so it didn’t happen.

We were sharing our thoughts on every Holmes we could think of. “Sherlock”, “Elementary”, the Robert Downey, Jr. steampunk versions? Check. Jeremy Brett as possibly the best screen Holmes ever? Check. The awesomeness of Lucy Liu as a female Watson? Yep. Older Holmes movies? Naturally. Obscure Holmes movies only David and I had ever heard of? Double check.
By this time, I was squealing, “I HAVE TO BE IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!” And David was saying, “YOU’RE IN!”

I gave him my card and then spent the next week terrified that I’d somehow given him someone else’s card.

But I had not. And the rest is history.

Or rather, the rest is my story, “All the Single Ladies”, with a Holmes and Watson I’m really proud of. David was a joy to work with, the book is chockfull of great stories from wonderful authors, the cover art is beyond beautiful, and I’m still excited every time I think about the whole experience.

By the way, the moral of this story? Do whatever L.E. Modesitt, Jr. tells you to do – apparently he’s never wrong. And the other moral? One can never, ever, have enough Holmes.


Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty”
Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. Alien in the House, Book 7 in her long-running Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. Alien Collective, Book 9, released in May, and Universal Alien is coming this December.

As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series and she’s made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch. Currently, Gini has stories featured in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthologies, and, writing as J.C. Koch, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. 1, and A Darke Phantastique anthologies. She will also have a story in the first book in an X-Files anthology series coming out in 2015.

Gini can be reached via her website:

Gina Koch is the author of All the single ladies in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology out now from Abaddon Books!

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Sherlock Holmes and the copyright case

So what exactly happened with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the past few months? It all starts with the eccentricities of US copyright law, in which a standard international “creator’s life plus seventy years” term sits uneasily alongside a fixed “ninety-five years from publication” term (this is due to what are sometimes known as the “Mickey Mouse Laws,” as they were pushed pretty hard by Disney’s lobbyists). Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930; in the UK and most of the world, his work entered the public domain in the year 2000. But in the US, with that fixed-term copyright, not all the stories went at the same time. The Holmes stories were published from 1887 to 1927, with the last ten stories appearing as a block in The Last Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, and for the last few years, while dozens of stories and all four novels have been public domain, the Doyle estate has held on to that last collection. It only really applies if you’re selling books in the States, but that’s a pretty big market.

So that just means you can’t publish The Complete Sherlock Holmes in the States without permission, right? Not quite. The Doyle estate has aggressively pursued every publisher, TV company and film-maker trying to use the characters, threatening legal action if they don’t pay a licence. And since the licence fees weren’t onerous, most people have paid rather than fight (this happens in copyright disputes more often than you think). Most people, that is, except Leslie Klinger, whose collection of new Holmes stories, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, is due out this November. Klinger called shenanigans and went to court. The Doyle estate’s argument? That Holmes and Watson are “round” characters, and unlike “flat” characters, who are fully formed when they first appear in writing, the famous detective and his friend didn’t become fully “round” until the last stories were published. Ergo, anyone using the characters is drawing on those last few stories and infringing copyright.

The Doyle estate lost. They went to appeal, in the Seventh Circuit Court (beats me what that actually is) in June, and lost hard. Judge Richard Posner wonderfully called their argument “novel,” suggested their appeal “bordered on the quixotic,” and said that as long as you don’t mention anything from those stories (basically, Holmes’s feelings about dogs, his experience playing rugby, and Watson’s second wife), you’re fine. Then Klinger countersued for legal expenses, and Posner granted them this Monday, putting the boot in a little deeper, accusing the estate of “extortion” and suggesting they’d violated antitrust laws by instructing Amazon to pull sales of disputed titles. There’s still the Supreme Court to go, but basically, Posner’s saying: “You’ve lost, guys. Stay down.”

What does this mean for us? To be honest, we’d made the decision to go ahead with Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets before this even happened. “Flat” or “round,” the characters in our collection are pastiches, and we’re pretty sure the Doyle estate’s arguments would struggle to apply to our versions of Holmes and Watson. More importantly, though, we’re big believers in the act of creation and – although as publishers we should be all about the IP control – we know that creation has a lot to do with homage, reinvention and revision. Let a creator exploit his work for a fair period, but then allow it to become part of the weave that other creators draw upon. This is a great step forward, and our support goes out to Klinger and his publishers for having the courage to balls it out.

Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets publishes October 2014 from Abaddon Books.