I got into publishing because I love reading (which is, by the way, 101 on what NOT to say at a job interview in publishing, folks!). And I can’t tell you the number of times that, as a reader, I’ve rued that decision. Because as it turns out – and I clearly hadn’t thought this through – most of my reading these days consists of manuscripts not quite good enough to publish, or that will require too much work to publish, or that we lose out in an auction to win the right to publish. Yes, there is a hell of a lot of wasted reading time when you work in publishing.
The past week has been a glorious exception. When the shortlist for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award
(VPLA) for an Unpublished Manuscript was released, we immediately went chasing the manuscripts that interested us most. I read Melbourne author Christian White’s DECAY THEORY in a day, a night and a morning. I was absolutely enthralled; my family didn’t get a look-in. Christian writes with a kind of magic, and I was under his spell from the very first page. We bid early and we bid boldly for this wonderful book, and successfully won the right to publish it. This is without doubt one of the happiest weeks in my publishing career. I even wore my new jacket to the awards ceremony last night (thank you for noticing, Clare Forster of Curtis Brown).
The deal was wrapped up hours before the VPLAs were announced with a telephone call to Christian, who is in London writing a TV series he has co-created and which was inspired by his own pilot script. We can’t wait to work with him – not only is he an extraordinarily gifted writer, he seems humble and collaborative and generous of spirit. Six months ago Christian was printing T-shirts. Now he’s writing for television in London and causing a stir of excitement with his first book in Australia. I don’t know where he’s been hiding out but he’s sure making up for lost time.
When an American accountant approaches Melbourne woman Kimberly Leamy out of the blue and tells her he believes she is Sammy Went, a child who was abducted as a two year old from her home in Manson, Kentucky, Kim believes this is a case of mistaken identity. But as she investigates her family, questions arise and she travels to Kentucky to find answers. Like the protagonist, this novel hits the ground running, then navigates multiple twists and turns before arriving at a tense and terrifying climax. DECAY THEORY is a combustible tale of kidnap, family secrecy and religious conspiracy, and is an unforgettable debut.