Ian Whates, Publisher at NewCon Press, has acquired printed book and ebook rights in the fantastical novel Queen of Clouds by Neil Williamson (exclusive for 24 months), which will be published early in 2022.

Neil said: “I’m delighted to be working with Ian Whates and NewCon Press again. They did such an outstanding job with The Moon King and I’m looking forward to having an equally beautiful companion edition of Queen of Clouds sitting beside it on the shelf. Queen of Clouds wasn’t an easy book to write. It features the usual weirdness you’d expect from me, such as wooden automata, sentient weather, talking cats and compellant inks, but it’s also the story of how the world in The Moon King comes to be flooded, and of the futility of trying to persuade those with power to act in times of environmental catastrophe. It feels ever more pertinent now and I’m over the moon that one of our very best independent presses is going to publish it.”

Neil’s first story was published in 1994 and his collection The Ephemera was initially published in 2006 and shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award (and re-published by Infinity Plus Books in 2011). He has since published another collection, Secret Language (shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award), and co-edited two anthologies, Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction (shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award) and Thirty Years of Rain. The Moon King (previously published by NewCon Press) was shortlisted for the BSFA and British Fantasy awards for Best Novel, and has received the following outstanding quotes and reviews:


“A truly unique fantasy, The Moon King is a mysterious, luminous read, full of intriguing characters and featuring a twisty, page-turning plot. Beautifully written and thoughtful. Sure to be one of the best debuts of this or any other year.”   World Fantasy Award winning author, Jeff VanderMeer

“Part dream, part nightmare, part memory, Neil Williamson’s Glassholm is a city that hovers on the brink of violent change. Through the intertwined stories of a cop fleeing his dark past, a young artist in rebellion against the social order, and an engineer who would most certainly not be king, Williamson has woven a story that teems with ideas and imaginative power. There is beauty in it, and strangeness, and page-turning adventure. The marvellous conceit at The Moon King’s core also conveys a powerful message about man’s relationship with nature and with his environment. The commitment shown to the characters by their creator is intense, and palpable. An intricately constructed, heartfelt novel that does its author proud.”    Nina Allan, author of 2017 BSFA Award winning novel The Rift.

“A vivid evocation of a strange moon-ridden bipolar world that swings each month from delirium to despair, and the sort of book that creeps into your dreams.”   Chris Beckett, author of 2013 Arthur C Clarke Award winning novel Dark Eden.

“It must be tough to write an effective fabulation like this as there are so few good ones (The Barron in the Trees by Calvino, The Four Wise Men by Tournier, The Woman in the Dunes by Abe), but Williamson manages to pull off the feat. The dangers of forcing the fiction into the stiffness of allegory or letting the fantastic run messily wild are ever present. The Moon King deftly skates the enchanting boundary between those two possibilities with its fully realized characters and the town of Glassholm, which is both our world and not at the same time. With its themes of art, politics and change, presided over and influenced by the waxing and waning of the moon, the reader is drawn into an engrossing mystery that reveals some dark truths about the ultimate nature of everyone’s perceived “fantasy” kingdoms. Beautifully written. I hope more people become aware of this book and give it a look.”   World Fantasy and Nebula Award winning author, Jeffrey Ford.




The Moon King embeds biting sociocultural observation in a narrative that fizzes with inventive energy, provocative wit and consummate artistry. Often dazzling but always imaginative, intensely serious yet enormously entertaining, it is a sparkling debut novel.”  Andrew Hedgecock, Interzone.

The Moon King belongs in the tradition of Mervyn Peake…an elegant, eloquent inquiry into the relationship between humankind and nature”  The Financial Times

The Moon King is literary fantasy at its best.” The Guardian

“Massively impressed…What sets this book apart from more tentative first novels is how seamlessly Williamson blends historic and genre elements into a setting that seems to skirt the more exotic bounds of Empire, leap to the borders of reality itself, and then go further.” Faren Miller, Locus 10/14

The Moon King is an engrossing tale, with well-sustained mystery, charm and a tangible sense of impending danger. In a word, magic.” **** The List.

The Moon King [places] in the top tier of fantasy debuts this year and makes Neil Williamson an author worth watching in the future.”  Strange Horizons

“It’s a real delight to find a full-length debut novel where character’s pop, the situations glisten with sheer wonder and you realise you were meant to have put the book down and gone to bed a good hour or more ago.” Vector

“This is stylish, quirky fantasy at its very best. Beautifully written, full of fabulous imagery and strikingly original.” Keith Brooke


The agent was John Jarrold.






• July 15th, 2020 • Posted in News