Jonathan Oliver, commissioning editor of Solaris Books, has acquired BABYLON STEEL, the opening volume of a fast-moving fantasy series from debut novelist Gaie Sebold.  The agent was John Jarrold, and the deal was for UK/US rights. The book is due for publication late in 2011.

Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex…other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock. 

She’s not having a good week.  The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it’s tax time, and there’s not enough money to pay the bill.  So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it.  But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain. In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night’s takings are at risk when Babylon’s hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat. 

“I’m delighted for Gaie,” said John Jarrold.  “Her writing and story-telling are remarkable – and she is also outstandingly witty.  And it’s great to get another new novelist out there!”

“It’s terrifically exciting to discover a new fantasy author who is producing fresh, interesting and funny work that’s also so vastly inventive,” Jonathan Oliver said. “Readers will fall in love with Gaie’s world and her brilliant central character.”

Gaie Sebold works for a charity.  She has won a few awards for poetry  and has sold short stories to magazines including Black Gate, Legend and City Slab, the recent Under the Rose anthology (Norilana) and the forthcoming End of an Aeon anthology (Fairwood Press).  She is an occasional performance poet.  She was born in the US but has lived in the UK most of her life, currently in an ‘up and coming’ area of London which doesn’t appear to have got very high yet. She is a member of T Party Writers, a London-based genre critique group.  She has said this about the genesis of the book:

“The idea of having a heroine who was a Madam in a world where the clientele might be, shall we say, interesting, is one I have had in mind for several years.  But the story didn’t really coalesce until I started thinking about where some of those clientele, and indeed the Madam herself, might have come from, and then the city-state of Scalentine and Babylon started to develop together. 

“I wanted to write about people working in the Oldest Profession who were not necessarily villains or victims: but people doing a job, and taking pride in their work; and for sexual work to be part of celebrating and respecting sexuality, rather than something that diminishes or dirties it.  Though I’m not ignoring the ugly aspects of real-life sex work, that wasn’t what I wanted to deal with in this story.  After all, Scalentine is a fantasy city: dealing with possibilities that don’t exist, or barely exist, in our own world, is one of the things I think fantasy is for.

“I have also always been fascinated by the idea of different worlds that are only a mirror’s breadth away, and of different species living cheek by jowl.  For me Scalentine is rather like my own peculiar version of London; where lots of different people and cultures end up creating a fascinating if not always easy mix. 

“Also, of course, I just wanted to have fun: with Babylon and her crew, of whom I have become increasingly fond; and with Scalentine’s multiplicity of characters, races, species, portals and possibilities. Which I did.”

• October 15th, 2010 • Posted in News