I am thrilled to announce a brand new fantasy author has joined the agency. I remember writing a rather contentious blog post a few years ago about how, as an editor, my direct submissions for SFF were predominantly from men. You have no idea how thrilled I am to say that, as an agent, I'm getting a pretty equal split now between men and women writing in this area. And there are some REALLY fabulous voices out there exploring issues of diversity, feminism and social issues. E. J. Beaton is one of them.
Currently called The Councillor, this is an epic fantasy set in a world where women are just as powerful as men. When the scholar Lysande is plucked from obscurity by the Iron Queen, Sarelin, to become her ward, her confidante and her friend - she has no idea how much her life will change. But when Sarelin is assassinated then Lysande is chosen to become the Councillor, the sole person in charge of choosing the new monarch for the realm. But how will she choose between the four men and women presenting themselves as the potential heir to the throne? And what if one of them is her friend's killer? Further from home an old enemy is stirring - The White Queen is on the move again and with her alliance with the magic-wielding Elementals - poses a threat not just to the peace of the realm - but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.
Set against a backdrop of politics, magic and with a wonderful cast of original characters in a richly-imagined world - this is an exciting new voice in fantasy which I can't wait to share.
I asked E. J. Beaton what had inspired the novel:
Stories about intellectuals have always fascinated me. Characters like Stephen Maturin in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels, Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, and Sherlock Holmes fire up my imagination. That combination of secrecy, intelligence and addiction forms the basis of The Councillor’s protagonist, Lysande. I wanted to write about a woman who used her brain to solve problems.
Female characters don’t have to fight oppression because of their gender in this fantasy world: they can be queens, city-rulers, scholars, soldiers, ambassadors, servants, merchants, drunken fools; even tyrants. Women collaborate, just as men do, but they can also be ruthless.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that every aspect of life is balanced. Lysande navigates politics as an outsider, in terms of her birth and class. She has to quell the cross-cultural feuding between the leaders of Elira’s city-states. And she starts to question the legacy of her mentor, Queen Sarelin, when she learns some unexpected truths about her idol.
I hope the novel will appeal to readers who like the idea of Hermione Granger as a protagonist, or a female Sherlock Holmes. And of course, to anyone who likes reading about Machiavellian politics in a multicultural world, chequered with magic.
About the author:
E. J. Beaton completed The Councillor as part of her PhD in Creative Writing, along with a study of Machiavellian and Shakespearean influences in fantasy. Her chapter on Machiavellian female characters featured in the Bloomsbury anthology Women of Ice and Fire. Her poetry has been published in Japanese, European and Australian journals, and will be published as a Melbourne Poets Union chapbook in 2017.
E.J. lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has a penchant for peregrination. She has lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, researched in New York, given papers in Scotland, England and Denmark, and travelled widely in Europe and Asia.
When she’s not fuelling her travel addiction, she can often be found in a tucked-away bar, enjoying a Talisker.
So welcome E. J. Beaton! I look forward to sharing this exciting new voice with publishers shortly.