Ritual Crime Unit – E.E. Richardson

ritual crime unitRitual Crime Unit: Under the Skin is the first in a new series of urban fantasy police procedurals marking not only the beginning of a new series for Abaddon Books but also a different way of publishing. Mainly available in e-book format, Under The Skin is available in limited numbers as a physical edition.

A tough, hard-nosed career officer in the male-dominated world of British policing, DCI Claire Pierce of North Yorkshire Police heads Northern England’s underfunded and understaffed Ritual Crime Unit. Ignored by the traditional police, struggling with an out-sized caseload, Pierce is about to tackle her most shocking case so far.

Abaddon’s new series begins today with two new titles

Abaddon has released a new series of novels called Gods and Monsters with two stories published today. Chuck Wendig has created the shared world, beginning the series with his novel Unclean Spirits whilst Pat Kelleher will continue to explore things with his e-book Drag Hunt.

unclean spirits chuck wendig

The gods and goddesses are real. A many-headed pantheon—a tangle of divine hierarchies—once kept the world at arm’s length, warring with one another for mankind’s belief and devotion. It was a grim and bloody balance, but a balance just the same. When one god triumphed, driving all other gods out of Heaven, it was back to the bad old days: cults and sycophants, and the terrible retribution the gods visit on
those who spite them.

Five years ago, it all went wrong for Cason Cole. He lost his wife and son, lost everything, and was bound into service to a man who chews up human lives and spits them out. Now, as the man he both loves and hates lies dying at his feet, Cason is finally free. And no gods, demi-gods, acolyte, or monstrous abomination is going to stop him from getting back what’s his…

The Serene Invasion – Eric Brown

Award winning author Eric Brown has created a revolutionary vision of first contact to Solaris with a thrilling new novel that gets to the heart of human nature through the lens of cutting-edge science-fiction.

There are here.. and we are not ready


In 2025, the Serene arrive from Delta Pavonis V, and change mankind’s  destiny forever. The gentle aliens bring peace to an ailing world – a  world riven by war, terrorism and poverty, by rising conflicts over  natural resources – and offer an end to need and violence. But not everyone supports the seemingly benign invasion. There are those who benefit from conflict, who cherish chaos, and they will stop at nothing to bring back the old days.

When Sally Walsh is kidnapped by terrorists and threatened with death, it seems that only a miracle can save her life. Geoff Allen, photo-journalist, is contacted by the Serene and offered the opportunity to work with the aliens in their mission. For Sally, Geoff, and billions of other citizens of Earth, nothing will ever be the same again…

Guest Post by author Al Ewing

Al Ewing, author of a number of novels and comic books, has kindly taken the time to write a guest post as his latest novel The Fictional Man hits the shelves.


In Hollywood, where last year’s stars are this year’s busboys, Fictionals are everywhere. Niles Golan’s therapist is a Fictional. So is his best friend. Fictionals – characters ‘translated’ into living beings for movies and TV using cloning technology – are a part of daily life in LA now. Sometimes the problem is knowing who’s real and who’s not.

Divorced, alcoholic and hanging on by a thread, Niles – author of The Saladin Imperative: A Kurt Power Novel and many others – has been hired to write a big-budget reboot of a classic movie. If he does this right, the studio might bring one of Niles’ own characters to life. But somewhere beneath the movie – beneath the TV show it was inspired by, the children’s book behind that and the story behind that – is the kernel of something important. If he can just hold it together long enough to figure it out…

Al Ewing

When I was a kid, there used to be a thing called the Reader’s Voice.

This was in the humour magazines, 30-page anthology comics made up of one-page strips about kids with quirks. Jack Pott, the kid who compulsively gambles. Sweeney Toddler, a particularly mischievous and malignant baby. Cliff Hanger, whose adventures ended in a Choose Your Own Adventure multiple choice that was resolved for good or ill on the letters page. (The worst pun name was Good Guy, about a kid called Guy who was good. The strip itself was actually rather wonderful, in that it featured a rotating cast of strange, quasi-religious tempters from some off-panel underworld, but I didn’t really appreciate it at the time.)

Anyway. I read Buster comic religiously for years – this was back when you bought one comic and stuck to it – but my understanding is that the Reader’s Voice was universal. What it was, essentially, was a speech bubble coming from off-panel with the reader’s thoughts in it, or what the majority of reader’s thoughts might be at that point. At the end of a strip, after one character had been fatally drowned in a fjord, the Reader’s Voice might waft into the last panel, saying “I’ll bet he won’t ‘fjord’-get that in a hurry!” or “That was more than he could af-‘fjord’!” or possibly “Christ, he’s fell in a fjord!” Or in the middle of the strip, the balloon might waft into view saying “Watch out, Roger!” while Roger the Dodger was in danger of being run down by a brewer’s dray or stalked by a pedophile.

I kid. I kid ‘cause I love.

Occasionally, the characters would talk directly to the readers. They’d smile out of the first panel of the strip, setting the scene directly. “I’m off to the county fair, readers!” Next panel – the county fair costs five pence to get into. Jack Pott – or Gilbert Ratchet, in the note-perfect parodies of a vanished artform that still run to this day in Viz – does not have that kind of money. (The comic characters of my youth were all relentlessly poor, apart from villainous ones like Ivor Lott and that vicious bastard Lord Snooty. These days they’ve probably all got iphones or something, the little scumbags. Or they’re dead from lack of readership. It’s a brutal existence in the kids comics, ask Desperate Dan.)

This was all kid’s stuff, obviously. For one thing, it was horrifically unrealistic. American comics wouldn’t be caught dead doing it, apart from on the occasional house ad, or in forgotten comics from the forties when Batman would turn to the readers and smilingly tell them that if he ever caught them on the rob he would splinter their fragile bones like so many matchsticks. “I think it’s pretty clear that Robin and I LOVE TO CAUSE PAIN, readers,” he would grin, “and we’d love to cause it to you! Imagine us crawling out of your comic in the night because you stole a penny sweet while nobody was looking. Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.” It just wasn’t done in ‘serious’ media, and still isn’t. People still debate to this day who exactly William Hartnell was wishing a happy Christmas to.

(Although there were notable exceptions to this rule, which I might talk about later on in the tour.)

But in providing this strange kind of airlock, this fictional representative that the reader could place themselves in, the cartoonists let us get one foot in the door of their invented worlds. And when Minnie the Minx spoke directly to the reader, she got one foot in ours. It made it much easier to lose yourself in their stories, their little imaginary lives. Once a story is addressing you directly – not just looking out of the camera while saying something pertinent, but actually saying ‘hey! Reader!’ – it comes to life in a way that feel like it’s against all the rules, but at the same time has a very definite power. Maybe we shouldn’t underestimate kid’s stuff.

The Reader’s Voice might not have made stories realistic, but it did make them real.

Abaddon’s open submission finds two new authors

Chosen from dozens of submissions submitted to Abaddon Books’ open call in autumn last year, two new authors have emerged. The brief was to pitch ideas based either in the imprint’s existing shared worlds – such as Tomes of the Dead or The Afterblight Chronicles – or come up with potential new series.


Tomes of the Dead: Dead Stop, by Mark Clapham and Ritual Crimes Unit: Skinflux by E. E. Richardson will be published as e-novellas in mobi and epub formats. Ritual Crime Unit: Under the Skin is released in September this year, and Tomes of the Dead: Dead Stop is due out in November.

Tomes of the Dead: Dead Stop: a contemporary story about a natural medium (a young man able to see ghosts after a traumatic incident in his youth) who is recruited by the ghost of a woman killed in the first wave of the zombiepocalypse.

Ritual Crimes Unit: Skinflux: launching a new supernatural/police procedural world with a story about “skin-changers” (people who can change into animal shapes by using ritually-prepared animal skins); the scene of crime officer at a murder enquiry has found evidence suggesting that an unregistered and unlicensed skin-changer (itself a crime) may have done the impossible and learned to shapeshift using human skin…

New Abaddon Books commissioning editor David Moore said: “The response to the open month last autumn was amazing, and more than a little daunting. So many brilliant pitches landed on my desk – both for our existing lines and for amazing new worlds – that I honestly struggled to pick out just a couple for publishing. After the months of reading, winnowing and agonising, I had to spend nearly two whole days rejecting some genuinely brilliant submissions and wishing I wasn’t. In the end, though, Elizabeth and Mark – two great up-and-coming young authors with great visions and palpable talent – blew me away with their ideas. I’m fantastically pleased to be welcoming them to the Abaddon stable.”

Abaddon Books appoints David Moore as new commissioning editor

Abaddon Books has announced that desk editor David Moore is to be the imprint’s new commissioning editor.

David will oversee Abaddon Books’ new commissions as well as creating more new original shared worlds – joining series such as the zombie-themed novels of Tomes of the Dead, the post-apocalyptic Afterblight Chronicles, and the Steampunk adventure pulp of Pax Britannia.

This year Abaddon Books will launch two new series – Chuck Wendig’s Gods and Monsters (named as one of the ‘Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy books of 2013’ by io9) and Toby Venables’ Guy of Gisburne, as well as more in the Weird Space series by SF legend Eric Brown.

Editor-in-chief of Abaddon Books and Solaris, Jonathan Oliver, said: “Ever since David started with Rebellion Publishing, it’s been clear that he has an incisive eye for what makes a story work and an editorial hand that gets the best out of a book, while maintaining a great relationship with the author. I’m really excited to be handing over the Abaddon reins to David and can’t wait to see what he plans for the

David said: “I’ve loved every minute of my time with Abaddon Books so far: we punch above our weight, take risks, produce the books we want to and have fun doing it. Getting a chance to take the helm on the imprint Jon put so much of his love and energy into, to steer it through the next few years and stamp my own mark on it, is incredibly exciting. Also scary. Very scary. I’ve already changed trousers twice today.”

Born and raised in Australia, David has lived in three different countries, but as of last year has spent more than half his life in the UK. A life-long geek, passionate reader and aspiring writer (he began the first of, to date, five unfinished novels, Eight-legged Aliens, on a Commodore 64), David has been writing for magazines and websites for 15 years, working in the publishing industry for three, and picking on people’s
grammar and spelling since he could walk. His past career has been mixed, to say the least, including bar and theatre work, providing technology support in the banking sector and filling tea and coffee pots in an architectural firm. He lives in Reading with his wife, Tamsin.

Abaddon and Solaris Editor Jonathan Oliver talks about zombies, magic wands and e-novellas

Editor-in-chief of both Solaris and Abaddon Books, Jonathan Oliver took time out from his hectic schedule to talk about how he fell out of love with academia, found his place with Rebellion and started publishing the best pulp science fiction and horror novels around.

BSFA – Can you tell us a little about how you first got in editing graphic novels and what your background was that led you to work for Rebellion?

Jonathan Oliver – I was working for Taylor & Francis, an academic publishing house at the time when I saw an ad for an editor for a new line of genre fiction, and I saw that the email address was 2000AD. Having been a fan I thought that it was interesting. I applied for that job which was for the editor-in-chief position at Abaddon Books. When I took that job they also asked if I’d like to edit some of the graphic novels which I did for five years at the same time as setting up Abaddon. Then in 2009 Rebellion bought Solaris and I took that on as well.

What was it like working on both graphic novels and books?

There is a massive difference between the two. With graphic novels you are essentially collecting material that has already been published. So you are working with material that has been through an edit already. I was commissioning covers and we tried to add some extra, bonus material. With Abaddon everything was from scratch. We were a fairly small operation at the time so I was doing all the commissioning of covers, the editing, I’d be in all the sales meetings with the distributors and even the printer liaison. There was a hell of a lot more to do from the birth of the novel all the way through so it was a lot more involved.

You head up both Abaddon and Solaris imprints – how tough is it to juggle those two arms of Rebellion publishing?

It was a challenge when we took on Solaris in that it was a living list with a considerable back catalogue so had to ensure we kept stock levels up on that, carried on the authors who were successful for the line. It was twenty four more books a year so something had to give and it was the graphic novels.

What the hard and fast differences between Abaddon and Solaris?

With Abaddon it is work for hire in the shared worlds we’ve created, so the style of books we’re taking on are a little different, whereas Solaris is much more traditional publishing where the properties are owned by the authors and so working with slightly more high profile authors perhaps. We don’t really separate the two in the sense that there is an impermeable barrier. We do have authors that cross over and one of those is Al Ewing. I published his first novel and every single novel we work with him on is fantastic. He always surprises me and his books are always different so something I was keen to do when we took on Solaris was to give Al free reign, within reason, to write whatever he wanted. Eric Brown has even crossed over the other way and helped to launch our new series with Abaddon called Weird Space. There is a difference in that the mission statement for Abaddon is to create shared worlds and distinct flavours of fiction whereas Solaris’ remit is to publish the best in science fiction and horror.

Do you think pulp fiction is making a comeback or has it always been there, simmering away and is just a bit more accepted these days?

In some sense Abaddon or pulp fiction is looked at in the same way as tie-in fiction and that it is in some way inferior to ‘proper’ fiction which is quite plainly bollocks. Dr Who books operate on the same model and there have been some fantastic works there. Any writer worth his salt will do the best job they can. We were doing new pulp before it was cool. It’s never entirely gone away. Pulp fiction doesn’t mean bad fiction. There is a certain economy of style and rules that was inherited from the time but some of the best writing from the golden era of the 20’s,30’s and 40’s is some of the best fiction in the genre or indeed anywhere. In crime you’ve got pulp fiction writers such as Jim Thompson who produced incisive and brilliant literature and has been recognised as such. H.P Lovecraft came out of the pulp scene and is one of the most significant horror writers of any generation. Robert Howard is still being published and Fritz Leiber is another great writer and what they did helped spawn the modern genre fiction. I think Abaddon’s reaction to all these big epics was to take concise, exciting, punchy storytelling and show how big ideas can be used in a couple of hundred pages to the same effect. I wanted to use the term pulp because it is not a bad thing. Rather, it shows a commitment to storytelling.

You’ve also written two books – how tough is it to turn off the editor in your head and allow yourself to write?

I’m a slow writer. The difficulty isn’t in switching between the modes but in motivating myself to write. I deal with words all day long editing and reading so when I get home there is the desire to write but also the desire to play Xbox. The conflict is there in trying to make yourself work in a way. I do edit quite a lot as I go along. I don’t really bust through a novel and then take it apart and reconstruct it. I think the second novel was written in 300 word chunks during my lunch breaks but you write because you have to. You can procrastinate as much as you want to but eventually you’ll have to tell a story or two.

Has editing so many titles been a benefit in terms of your writing abilities – knowing what works and what doesn’t?

Of course. Any qualification for a writer is to read. Lots. All the time. You get out what you put in and as an editor you’re more aware of what works in fiction. But, obviously, that is different for every editor but that is fine because if we all agreed on things then genre fiction would be very bland. But we don’t all agree and that is why genre fiction in this country is so vibrant. But, basically, as a writer you know what works and as a reader you know if it works so really you have to read a lot.

Has the editing helped you market your own novels to a specific area – allowing you to see what may succeed or do you write the stories that just excite you?

The thing about publishing is that you can’t predict what will succeed. I think Stephen King was living in a caravan when he wrote Carrie and after he finished it, he threw it in the bin. It was only his wife taking it out and sending it to the publisher and, lo and behold, he had a best seller and became one of the most popular horror writers around. There’s no magic wand but what publishing is good at is following trends. But, the thing with trends is that they can end over night. So, I commission based on the story entertaining and moving me. Obviously you keep your commercial sense and you keep your eye on the market but really it is a case of picking stories that speak to you.

Both imprints have been at the forefront of the SF and Fantasy, publishing post-apocalypse and zombie novels before most – why do you think that is?

With the post-apocalypse Afterblight series for Abaddon we just thought about the kind of pulp fiction genres that we liked; it was as simple as that. Then we fleshed out the world with Simon Spurrier and now we’ve got a fascinating series going on. With the zombie novels the idea has always been fairly popular and we decided to try a series of zombie alternative historical novels but we quickly realised that the timeline and continuity for that would be a nightmare. So we decided to just publish unusual zombie stories like detective zombie stories, gangster zombies – all kinds of flavours and we’ve been doing as long as it’s been fun. We’re still doing zombie fiction but we’re also releasing some new series next year. We just publish what we like and zombies became a big thing. I think we must just be trend setters!

What do you think will be the next big theme/trope (after the zombie fever dies down)?

I really don’t know. There seems to be a rise in the popularity of ghost stories and I think there is a move towards more supernatural stories. Whether that is the next big thing is difficult to say. I do think vampires and werewolves will be around for a while though. Next year we are releasing a new series called Gods and Monsters, an urban fantasy series, launching with Chuck Wendig’s new book called Unclean Spirits. We’re continuing the Weird Space series with a new Eric Brown novel called Satan’s Reach. We’re also launching a new series based around the Robin Hood myth focusing on Guy of Gisborne with Toby Venables, the lead on that. And then we also have a series of novellas where we are experimenting with the form and we’ve had an open submission window recently as well as launching a line of children’s fiction under the Ravenstone banner. You know, business as usual.

What are your thoughts on the e-reader revolution? Do you think publishing is evolving with it properly or do you think we might see more self-publishing (and consequently less peer-review and less quality) emerging?

I think we’ll see a bit of both. I think publishing is evolving with it because it’s not doing what the music industry did with the digital revolution by sticky its fingers in its ears and pretending it will go away. We’re making sure we’ve kept our hand in and paid attention to it. We simultaneously publish everything in print and e-reader. E-readers are becoming an increasingly vital part of the business. Yes, you’ll see a rise in self-published books but what the quality of those books will be like will be questioned on the quality of the writer and whether they get a professional to edit their work. It is still a product and it has to convince the reader to buy their work. Digital books from the editorial and marketing point of view take just as much work as print do.

Do you think e-reader novels allow publishing houses to test new authors more easily (and economically)?

They are a great way to experiment. Obviously the one cost you don’t have with an e-novella is the physical cost of distribution. So in that sense you can experiment and maybe do something unusual that you might be unsure of in paperback. E-books open up more doors than it closes. I’ve seen people say it is the death of publishing but I think it is actually the evolution of publishing.