Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Peter Mayer on R.J. Ellory's A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS

A letter from Peter Mayer, publisher of The Overlook Press, to all the loyal readers of The Winged Elephant:

Dear Friends:
I’ve been in book publishing now for nearly 50 years, but finding a book like A Quiet Belief in Angels, or indeed an author like R. J. Ellory, is as exciting to me now as it ever was. It’s a wonderful book—a most unusual thriller set in Georgia— but the story of how this book came to be, and the story of the author himself, is every bit as good.

Ellory was orphaned at the age of seven, and at seventeen sent to prison for poaching. He found a new world in reading, immersed himself in literature, and began to write fiction. He composed twenty-two novels in longhand and submitted them to various publishers… and soon had a private collection of literally hundreds of rejection letters. The standard response from all the UK publishers was that they could not seriously consider the possibility of publishing novels based in the United States… written by an Englishman. He was advised to send his work to American publishers, which he duly did. He received from them equally polite rejection letters, most of which said it was not reasonable for American publishers to publish books set in the US… written by an Englishman. Events have not proved them right.

Ellory finally got an acceptance. His first book, Candlemoth, was published in 2003 and was instantly shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. Five other novels followed, including the one you now hold in your hand. Each won him acclaim in Britain, as much for his prose as his plotting. With A Quiet Belief in Angels he won unparalleled praise and 300,000 readers. It has now been sold to 20 countries… and counting. It has been shortlisted for the Barry Award for Best British Crime Fiction, the Prix Du Polar Europeen Du Point, Le Nouvel Observateur Crime Writing Prize and the Quebec Booksellers' Prize. We think it’s strangely fitting that a publisher called “Overlook” should launch Ellory in America, where the entirety of the story takes place. Yes, we’re a little bit late to the game, but we have come to play.

I am extremely proud to publish R. J. Ellory, and I hope you’ll enjoy A Quiet Belief in Angels as much as all of us at Overlook have. We are going to knock ourselves silly in publishing and marketing this book, and I hope all of you will help us spread the word about this wonderful novel. And please visit our brand new website for A Quiet Belief in Angels.

With all best wishes,

Peter Mayer
The Overlook Press

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