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Angry Robots Books
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Adult - Fantasy
Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.
Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.
And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do. Just as soon as he stops running away.
Lee Battersby's debut adult fantasy novel hits the shelves late August in both Britain and America. The British Fantasy Society calls it "totally marvellous, wonderfully goofy, superbly madcap, grotesquely fantastic, fantastically macabre" and also "bloody brilliant." Lee is giving away several copies of his book in both paperback and electronic formats. The details about how to enter the giveaway are at the end of this post. In the meantime, Lee has stopped by for an interview.
1. Describe 'The Corpse-Rat King' in one sentence.
A cynical post-dead fantasy romp with far too much swearing for its own good.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
I have a bit of a reputation amongst my friends and close colleagues as a Fantasy-hater, and I spend a bit of time strenuously denying this, and insisting that I love fantasy novels, and I’m just curmudgeonly about them because there are so many awful ones out there. I love fantasy so much I wish people could make their way past all the cookie-cutter crud to read the genuinely interesting and engaging ones. They never believe me J
I also had it in my head that I wanted to write a big, epic story about an utter coward, a sort of High Fantasy Flashman, and see what would happen to a character that steadfastly and resolutely refused to buy into all the fantasy tropes and kept not only denying (insert impressive voice-over voice) His Destiny ™, but kept stabbing it and cramming it into a wheelie bin. From there it was a short hop to actively trying to undermine the fantasy tropes themselves. And then I’m rather a cynical old sod, and my sense of humour is a bit on the dark side, and I’m not the greatest of believers in human nature… and it all began to tumble out onto the page, until I ended up with this rather cynical, dark, nose-thumbing kind of fantasy novel where everybody dies when they shouldn’t and anybody with a shiny sword is likely to find himself mugged and lying in a gutter while the hero pawns it for gambling money.
3. Tell us about your road to publication.
Back in March 2011, Angry Robot Books, a UK-based publisher that generally only accepts agented submissions, held their first Open Submission Month, an experiment to see whether there were any unrepresented gems floating around that might be of interest. Authors submitted the first 5 chapters of their novel, along with a synopsis. A team of readers would read them, and request a full manuscript if they liked what they read. Any full manuscripts that they did like would be passed upwards to editor Lee Harris. If Lee liked it, he would take it to the editorial board and make a case for its purchase.
It lasted one month, and they received 994 submissions, including mine.
It took about five months from submission to passing my full manuscript to Lee, and another 2 months to go right the way through the system and receive a contract offer. In the meantime I’d signed on with an agent, so another six weeks of contract negotiations followed before we were able to finalist the deal and announce the sale. But after nine months I had an agent, a two-book deal, and a deadline, so I was a pretty happy puppy at that point.
4. What books did you enjoy reading when you were younger?
I was pretty voracious as a kid, and much of that was borne from a real desire for escape, so a great deal of my reading material was fantastical. I discovered SF as a concept when I turned 9 and was given an SF anthology for my birthday, but even before that I’d discovered Swift, and Dumas and Walter Scott… I read Lord of the Rings at 10 and that was the death-knell for realist fiction for me until I was into my twenties!
My mother was an avid reader and she encouraged me: regular library trips and the like, and apart from throwing out one comic I’d purchased with my pocket money because it was violent trash and didn’t belong in the house (2000AD issue 1. Who knew? Who KNEW?) She tended towards the “You can read what you can reach” philosophy, which enabled me to clap my eyes on concepts and works I might not have seen otherwise.
The library system when I was a kid had separate ‘adult’ and ‘child’ cards, and you couldn’t get an adult book on a child card. My mother couldn’t be having with all that, and I had an adult card by the time I was 12. After that, I pretty much devoured our local library system.
5. What do you enjoy reading now?
I’m still pretty voracious, when I get the opportunity, and I’m still deeply in love with fantastical works, but I’m also much more enamoured of non-fiction than I used to be, and read a heck of a lot of it, particularly history, and most particularly “hidden” histories: biographies of madhouses and graveyards; historical figures like Pope Joan or John Dee, whose lives have been supressed or are at least partly apocryphal; anything that might lead me down a line of reasoning that might open up some story ideas or just give me some little nuggets of information to work with. My wife jut presented me with a collection of Truman Capote’s letters which I’m dying to get into, as soon as I finish reading Gene Wolfe’s “Shadow of the Torturer” for the umpteenth time.
I’ve never lost my love of comics either, and am a thankful beneficiary of the graphic novel culture. Now that I have children old enough to choose their own reading material I’m getting the joy of watching them discover the books that made me happy as a child. My seven year old is working his way through ‘The Hobbit’ at the moment, and it’s a wonder to him.
6. What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m contracted for book 2 in the ‘Corpse-Rat King’ series, which I’m working on at the moment. It’s called ‘Marching Dead’, and will be out in the Northern spring of 2013. There’s an option for a third book, which I’m calling ‘Fall To Heaven’, so hopefully the first two do well enough that Angry Robot are convinced to pick it up.
I’ve also got 52k of a novel entitled ‘Father Muerte & The Divine’ sitting in my novel folder, and that’s the next project off the rank: I worked on it while waiting for the Angry Robot open door process to run its course, and it’s based on a character I’ve visited in 4 short stories already so I’m very fond of him and would like to give him a novel to run around in. It’s full of dinosaur ghost scientists, obscure Viking divination techniques, time-travelling fascist dictators and all sorts of other fun stuff that I try to corral and make some sense out of J
After that I’ve got plans for a post-apocalyptic revenger’s tragedy called ‘The Sin-Eater’s Lonely Children’ and a ‘Dying Sun’ science fantasy for which I have no name and only a very rough idea of what I want to achieve, and then there’s the clown-noir murder mystery, the alternative history atomic kamikaze novel, the Napoleon-in-space novel… I wish I was making this stuff up… there’s plenty to keep me interested, at any rate!
GIVEAWAY TIME!!!Lee Battersby is giving away several e- and paperback copies of his book. Here's how you can win!
"For the chance to win a copy of 'The Corpse-Rat King' in e-book format, 'like' my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Battersby/352887518095345. Every three days between now and September 1 I will post a call out for page numbers between 7 and 395. Be the first to respond and I'll post an excerpt from that very page of the novel. Two randomly selected posters will win electronic copies of the book come September 1st, so don't despair if you're not the first to respond-- everyone who responds to the call-outs will go into the draw.
I'm also giving away three signed paperbacks. To win, send a photo to as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with either the word 'corpse', 'rat' or 'king' in the subject line-- depending on which category your photo fits into-- and your name and postal address in the body. Send one photo per email, and only one entry each per category, and no digital manipulation: just give me a good, old-fashioned jpg photo of less than 1MB in size. Send in your entry before midnight, Saturday 18 August, Western Australian time (GMT +8). On Sunday 19 August I’ll post my 3 favourite photos from each category on my blog --http://battersblog.blogspot.com.au-- and on my Facebook author page. The photo from each category that attracts the most votes will win a signed copy. Voting will remain open until Sunday 26 August."
There you go! Best of luck to you all, and thank you to Lee for stopping by today!!!