Project Polansky: Where does a book start?

By Oliver Johnson

Posted on January 22, 2014 in Books with tags Daniel Polansky, Project Polansky

I first met Daniel Polansky outside a restaurant without a door. After we had wasted a few seconds looking for a handle he airily suggested we jump through the window  instead.  This turns out to be a metaphor for our working relationship: set him a challenge and he’ll just jump right on through it, round it, over it, into it. After three critically acclaimed Low Town novels, no matter how hard the task presented to him, Daniel still does everything with unstudied craft, insouciance and urbane ease.

I have loved the three novels I’ve been privileged to work on but as a publisher I never live in the here and now. Publishers can rarely tell you what day of the week or, indeed, what month it is, because we’re always thinking a year or  two years ahead. What we don’t do is live in the moment. So when Daniel had delivered the script of She Who Waits I was already thinking of the future.  As was he: Daniel had an idea and the novel Those Above was born.  I don’t want to spoil anything but think an epic fantasy retelling of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, and you’ll get an idea.

2014 is the year of Project Polansky, a new challenge for him, and one for me. In the bulletins that follow I, and a raft of other people engaged in the agenting, editing, jacketing, marketing, publicity, printing, selling and production of his book in the UK and overseas are going to talk about every facet of bringing it to life. The Project starts now and will run up to publication on 9th October when Those Above is published.

Where does a book start? Well, the next post is going to be Daniel and Inspiration. How does an idea come?  Where is the best place to have an idea? At your desk, staring out of a train window, doing the ironing? (in my case those last two). Does an idea come fully formed, as a single overarching CONCEPT, or is it, for example, sparked by a single imagined line of dialogue, or a scene. Where does the scene come from? Are dreams important? How much is original, how much regurgitated from our cultural memes?

Let Project Polansky begin!


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