I’ve been hinting at something biggish for some time now, and I guess I can finally come clean about what we’ve all had cooking.
Crown Nabs Bennett’s ‘City of Stairs’
Robert Jackson Bennett sold his fifth novel, City of Stairs, to Julian Pavia at Crown. Cameron McClure at Donald Maass Literary handled the sale for Bennett, whose third book, The Troupe, was just featured in the SF/Fantasy/Horror category among PW’s Best Books of 2012. The new book, which will be a trade paperback original on the Broadway list, also marks a house shift for Bennett, who was at Hachette’s Orbit imprint. (Bennett’s fourth book from Orbit, American Elsewhere, is coming out in February.) Stairs, as McClure described it, is “a second-world story of spies, subterfuge, and statesmanship set in a nation of dead gods.”
I’m about 1/3 of the way done with it, I think – you can never really tell at this point. It’s like guessing when a relationship will end. But, this is my first second-story world, one that’s inspired by many real-world things, but is more or less made up entirely by me.
I said once I’d never set anything in a second-story world, chiefly because I always felt these sorts of things were kind of, well, a big pain in the ass. But I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong – I’m having a tremendous amount of fun.
The book is partially a spy story, set in a world where gods once existed, but were killed in what essentially amounts to a global coup. I mentally sold myself the novel by pitching it as, “Gods as weapons of mass destruction in a realpolitik world.”
I wondered what such a world would look like, and then one night I was watching The Third Man on TCM, and the way Post-WWII Vienna was broken and regulated and divided was so surreal to me, and yet so perfectly true and obvious, that it pretty much had to be used in the book.
But the farther I get into it, the more I realize that this is a book about history, and how it’s present with us, influencing what we do, and yet it’s also inaccessible and remote – not unlike a god, in a way.
I am very much looking forward to the future.