Splendid Christmas news – Iris: Abroad, from Obverse Books, has been collected by the publisher from the printer in Edinburgh, and is therefore officially available to purchase. Pre-orders should be going out over the next couple of days. Of course, if BBC news is to be believed, the UK has received a light dusting of snow recently, so I’m not entirely sure when they’ll arrive on people’s doorsteps.
The anthology stars Iris Wildthyme and her talking panda companion, called Panda for simplicity’s sake. Created by Paul Magrs, Iris has landed in several of the Doctor’s print and audio adventures, and this is the fourth book from Obverse to showcase her. More is to come, as she ventures into the strange world of mass market novels in 2011, courtesy of the always marvellous Snowbooks.
My contribution to this book, a tale called ‘The Story Eater’ (the first thing I’ve written set in New Delhi), came about after I pitched to contribute to a previous Iris book called ‘The Panda Book of Horror’. Unfortunately, that pitch fell at the last hurdle, and the story wasn’t commissioned. Luckily, Obverse owner and Iris editor Stuart Douglas remembered to drop me a line when the submission call was announced for Iris: Abroad. At that time, I still hadn’t got the Internet installed in the new place here in India, and was mostly using my iPhone to check emails at a local wi-fi hotspot. If the email hadn’t come in, I doubt I would have seen any of the announcements made online.
Obviously, Stuart and Paul liked the new pitch enough to commission the story, and several months later, here we are. Iris and Panda are brilliant, madcap creations, and writing ‘The Story Eater’ was both challenging, and all the more rewarding for it. I’m proud of the story, and looking forward to the reaction from Iris fans, but encourage you to try the book on for size even if you’ve never met her before. There’s nothing and nobody in fiction quite like Ms Wildthyme and Panda, and I defy you not to enjoy discovering them.
As a final note, Obverse Books produce fabulous looking hardbacks. As well as the Iris anthologies, I’ve also picked up and am enjoying the Obverse Book of Ghosts. I’m a book fetishist, of course, and love the physical item when it’s done well. Obverse do it beautifully.
Find out for yourself. Discover Iris Wildthyme. Treat yourself. Though the book has nothing in particular to do with crimbo, there’s just something ludicrously festive about the gin-sozzled old bat, whenever you happen to be reading her. Buy a copy at Obverse Books, Amazon.co.uk, or Waterstones.