Happy Book Birthday to… The Testimony by James Smythe!

Thursdays are a special day in UK publishing, as they normally signify pub dates! I thought for a new feature on the blog I would do a ‘Happy Book Birthday’ to a book that I’ve worked on and want to shout about. And to make up for the shameless HC promotion, I promise to share a little insider-anecdote about something to do with the book to make it a bit more interesting 🙂

But actually, I’m going to bend the rules for my first ever Happy Book Birthday, as I didn’t actually work on this specific novel. But I did have the privilege to work on the author’s next book, The Explorer, a brilliant SF novel which is due out in January 2013. But back to the task at hand…

Happy Book Birthday to…

The Testimony by James Smythe

A global thriller presenting an apocalyptic vision of a world on the brink of despair and destruction.

What would you do if the world was brought to a standstill? If you heard deafening static followed by the words ‘MY CHILDREN, DO NOT BE AFRAID’?

Would you turn to God? Declare it an act of terrorism? Subscribe to the conspiracy theories? Or put your faith in science and a rational explanation?

The lives of all twenty-six people in this account are affected by the message. Most because they heard it. Some because they didn’t.

The Testimony – a gripping story of the world brought to its knees and of its people, confused and afraid.

The Testimony is published by Blue Door Books, another imprint of HarperCollins. It’s a rare novel that can combine an ingenious high concept with fast-paced, thrilling action and still somehow remain cerebral, intelligent and well-written at the same time, but somehow James does exactly that. He is definitely an author to watch.

My sneaky-insider anecdote to do with The Testimony takes place during a marketing meeting a few months back. The enigmatic publisher of Blue Door, Patrick Janson-Smith, was concerned about how to get the word out about The Testimony. “I want it to go viral,” he said. “My Children Do Not Be Afraid. If there is ever a tagline that seems destined to ‘go viral’, it’s this.” But how exactly do you go viral. Viral is that word-of-mouth buzz that is so impossible to manufacture by its very nature. One suggestion was to commandeer the tannoy at a busy train station (like Waterloo), and interrupt everyone’s daily commute with the mysterious static and the message: My Children, Do Not Be Afraid. Someone pointed out that we would probably get arrested. “Perfect!” said Patrick.

Unfortunately, in the end, HC just doesn’t let its employees get arrested for the sake of book sales, and so instead a fantastic team effort resulted in this awesome trailer, and I challenge you to not want to read this book after watching it!

And besides, how do you really make something ‘go viral’? By talking about it and wanting to share it with everyone you know, and so that’s why I’m encouraging you to go out and Buy or download The Testimony now!


Giveaway! Wither & Fever by Lauren DeStefano

To celebrate the launch of my Facebook author page, and also because I’m agonisingly close to that 400 follower mark on Twitter, I’ve decided to host my first ever blog giveaway! It will be the first, I’m sure, of many to come.

It also happens to be the launch week of Fever by Lauren DeStefano here in the UK, so I’m giving away a copy to a lucky blog reader! Alongside will be the new UK pb of Wither, the first book in Lauren’s amazing The Chemical Garden trilogy.

Since I clearly have a vested interest in these amazing novels, I won’t be reviewing them. However, with each book I give away I’m going to write a little something about what that book means to me – either how I came upon it, or a story around its publication.

A story of Wither

On my first day as assistant editor for Voyager, I was handed a stack of manuscripts to read to get me up to speed with the list. Overwhelmed by this treasure trove of fiction, I scanned the first few pages of each to choose which one to start with. When I came to Wither (which was then just a lot of sheets of A4 held together with an elastic band and went by another title), I knew I had to read the whole thing then and there. Can I just tell you that if you are an aspiring author wanting to know how to write a first chapter that grabs – no, demands – an editor’s (or a reader’s) attention, then you can do no better than the opening of Wither. Lauren’s prose is absolutely stunning, and the opening ends with a real bang! The rest of the book doesn’t disappoint, and it remains one of the most outstanding examples of dystopian YA literature that I’ve read to date.

To enter, simply ‘like’ me on Facebook by clicking the like button on the left-hand side of the page, or by visiting the page and clicking ‘like’:

Amy McCulloch on Facebook

Or add me on twitter:


And you’re entered! If you’re already my friend on FB or Twitter and still want to be in to win, just RT or leave a comment to this blog post. The contest is open internationally and will end at midnight GMT on February 24, 2012.

Good luck!

The Legacy of Eden

People always laugh when I say I’m a writer and my day job is in publishing. They ask if everyone in publishing secretly wants to be a writer. Sort of like a ‘those who can’t do, teach’ thing – ‘those who can’t write, edit’.

Now, I know plenty of people who work in publishing who have no aspirations to write a novel. When I got my book deal, a very senior editor told me that she could never write a book – that she knew she had good instincts around how to make a book better (and I think her many grateful authors would concur!) but that she had no desire to devise a plot or characters herself.

But of course I also know plenty of people who do write and work in publishing, and they do it with tremendous success. And why not? Working in publishing is so notoriously underpaid that most of us do it for the love of a good word – and I always feel blessed to get to work in an industry where I’m constantly surrounded by people who love and care about the products they’re producing. As for me, I never allowed myself to believe that my writing could be anything more than just a hobby, but I still wanted to work in an environment that supported my second favourite thing to do after writing – reading! So publishing was a natural fit.

This is a very roundabout way to tell you about a novel by an absolutely brilliant young woman in publishing, Nelle Davy. She works for my literary agency and had a huge hand in bringing The Oathbreaker’s Shadow up to scratch. It was great to have someone who had just gone through much the same experience as me – including the peculiar kind of agony that comes from knowing too much about the inner workings of publishing when your book is on submission! – and I’m sure I will be bugging her lots as my publication day approaches!

Her novel, called The Legacy of Eden, is a retelling of I, Claudius set in the American mid-west. The reviews pouring in are astounding and the book is out on Thursday in the UK (and was out yesterday in the US).

Order it now on Amazon.co.uk
Order it now on Amazon.com 

“To understand what it meant to be a Hathaway you’d first have to see Aurelia.”

For generations, a grand estate house was the crowning glory of over three thousand acres of Iowa farm land and golden corn fields. Named Aurelia, it was a monument to matriarch Lavinia Hathaway’s dream to elevate the family name–no matter what relative or stranger she had to destroy in the process. It was a desperation that wrought the downfall of the Hathaways- and the once prosperous farm.

Now the last inhabitant of the decaying old home has died–alone. None of the surviving members of the Hathaway dynasty want anything to do with the house, the land or the memories. Especially Meredith Pincetti. Now living in New York City, for seventeen years Lavinia’s youngest grandchild has tried to forget everything about her family and her past. But with the receipt of a pleading letter, Meredith is again thrust into conflict with the legacy which destroyed her family’s once-great name.

Back at Aurelia, Meredith must confront the rise and fall of the Hathaway family…and her own part in their mottled history.

One of the most eagerly anticipated debuts of the year.