Old friends and new finds

September 18th – Just back from a week on the East Coast of the US, meeting publishers, authors and agents, from the searing heat of Washington DC to the lashing rains of Western Massachusetts. There's the buzz of meeting the publishers of some of our UK titles – Interlink, who published The Putin Mystique and who will publish two of our new titles next year, and Seahorse, who will be bringing out America's Dreyfus. Then there's the discovery of new books, as a reader as well as a publisher. I've just started reading Dreams of Maryam Tair, published in the US by Interlink, a fascinating magical realism first novel by Mhani Alaoui, which Skyscraper is considering for 2016. At two different dinner parties I heard guests raving about Elena Ferrante's four novels set in Naples. I'd never heard of them but bought the first, My Brilliant Friend and look forward to reading it. Then at a weekend in Massachusetts with friends, a spur of the moment decision led to a short flight in their light aircraft, piloted by Josh Simpson, glass artist, (http://www.megaplanet.com) to have coffee with Skyscraper author, Carey Harrison (Justice, a fine short novel) who told me his current novel, a blockbuster called Who Was That Lady? (http://careyharrison.net/who-was-that-lady/) has just been awarded a big prize by a German cultural institute. Josh's wife, Cady Coleman, is an astronaut, and she recommended that I read The Martian, a testament to the perseverance of the lone author, who self-published when no publisher would take it, and it's now a major movie, opening in London this week.

Now back home, we are about to relaunch Good for Nothing by Brandon Graham on the London Underground. This hilarious and moving first novel we published last year did not get the acclaim it deserved and so 100 free copies will be left on tube trains to be read by passsengers and, we hope, passed on to other readers.

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