Posted on 29 September 2012. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Zoe Harris of Tenebris Books, am imprint of Holland House Books, about what they look for in submissions
Tell us all about you; history, ethos, aims, people involved
Tenebris Books is an imprint of Holland House Books. We opened for business in August 2012 and are now actively seeking submissions.
Tenebris Books is a little different from other independent publishers in that we are seeking books that evoke a certain mood, rather than books that fit into a certain genre or marketing demographic. What we are looking for is books that have a certain darkness, an eeriness, that was perhaps more prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when it was referred to as “weird fiction”.
H.P. Lovecraft described it this way:
“The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain--a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.”
Our aim is not to push out as many books as possible every year; we are focused on producing high quality books, and on nurturing and mentoring the author throughout the publication process. We offer copy- and line-editing as part of every contract, as well as professional cover art, a marketing package and assistance with establishing an online platform for the author.
Who will be on your list and why?
We have a number of exciting prospective authors in the pipeline at the moment, but we’re not quite ready to announce anything just yet. However, I can say that a Tenebris author is one who understands the power of subtlety in their writing, who can draw a distinction between gratuitous horror or violence and unnerving the reader through suggestion and ambience.
What excites you about a piece of writing-
One of the most wonderful things about a book with this darkness of mood is that the reader is constantly searching for a safe place to take a breath. When a book really draws me in and gives me a subtle hint that everything is not right in its world, I want to feel that desire for a haven for the characters, especially if this keeps me turning pages right until the end. And it can be a brilliant and terrible thing when that safe place never materialises.
and what makes your heart sink?
I never fail to be disappointed by books in which the author has gone out of their way to do something new, different or clever, to the detriment of the book. When the ego of the author overshadows the story, I immediately lose interest.
Can you tell us what makes a pitch/covering letter/synopsis/etc work best for you?
I don’t want the author to try to sell their book to me, as such; often, in fact, the desire to perfect a pitch ends up overshadowing the actual story. A clear summary that is succinct, that demonstrates the essence of the story and its characters and language is more than adequate.
Prior publication and formal qualifications are not as important as a confident, well-written story that meets our requirements.
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