Gollancz had good reason to crow about its acquisition of Occupy Me on Thursday: it’s Tricia Sullivan’s first new science fiction novel since Lightborn in 2010, and it promises to outstrip everything else the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner has written.
An extraordinary, genre-defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time, Occupy Me follows Pearl, an angel who works for the Resistance—an organisation dedicated to making the world a better place one incremental act of kindness at a time—as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man.
And at the centre of it all, a briefcase that contains countless possible realities…
…including Hell itself.
Associate Publisher Simon Spanton, who bought world rights to Occupy Me and its follow-up on behalf of Gollancz, said what a pleasure it was to be working with Sullivan once more—and on a novel that “sees her at the top of her very considerable game,” which sentiment Sullivan shares:
Gollancz published my first novel back in 1995 and [currently] carry my entire backlist through the SF Gateway. It’s hugely satisfying to return 20 years later as a mature writer with a novel that I know to be my best work.
On her blog—powered, apparently, by the kind of bloody-mindedness I can get behind—Sullivan spoke about the circumstances surrounding the beginning of the new book:
Occupy Me was conceived in 2011 during a phone conversation with my mate Karen Mahoney in which I complained about paranormal romance in general and the angel trend in particular. Kaz challenged me to write my own angel book.
Not-so-shocking disclosure: I can’t write paranormal romance. I did try. This other thing is what came out.
For my part, I’m kinda glad Occupy Me isn’t what Sullivan intended it to be.
That said, there are still angels in it, innit? So maybe it stands a chance of capturing some part of the vast market for paranormal romance. Clearly, the nearly-naked cover art—revealed here—can’t hurt in that regard. Back to Gollancz:
We wanted a startling and iconic cover; not something that was set in a genre; something clean; something that felt like a thriller but which alluded to something a little bit different. Something that alluded to wings.
Did we mention that Pearl has wings? They exist in another dimension and manifest when Pearl is stressed or in peril. As we mentioned, Pearl is facing a pressing question—just what is she? Finding out means reading her story. And what a beautifully written, wonderfully crafted and thrilling story it is.
Alright, stop selling me already—I’ve been in like Flynn since you said Tricia Sullivan!
I’ll let you all know how it goes next January, when Occupy Me will be released as a trade paperback and an ebook in the UK and elsewhere.
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.