After a good few doses of classic literature I was in the mood for something a little less stuffy, something fun and fast-moving, yet not completely mind-numbing. Basically the thinking person’s alternative to The Da Vinci Code. When I picked up The House of Rumour and read Mark Lawson’s observation that ‘It may be the ideal holiday read for those who like to take their brains with them on vacation’, I had a feeling I was onto a winner.
Indeed I was. The House of Rumour weaves an elaborate conspiracy that spans the latter half of 20th Century. The story loosely follows the life of Larry Zagorski, who is introduced as a nineteen year-old sci-fi writer living in California in 1941, and is enchanted by the idea of space travel and a girl in his writing group. He lives through World War Two, the space age, the summer of love, marriage, fatherhood the Cuban Missile Crisis and the roller coaster of his career.
However, the narrative is shared between characters and jumps from California to London to Germany to Cuba and back. It features a cast of the era’s cult icons from Jim Jones and Rudolf Hess to Ian Flemming and David Bowie. Full of mystical speculation and dreams of other worlds, the chapters are named for the major arcana cards in the tarot deck. There are just enough facts sprinkled throughout to have you asking ‘…what if’ and I found myself stopping every few pages to Google the facts.
It’s a lot to hold in your head, so I recommend reading in as bigger chunks as possible so as to avoid confusion. And read it you should. This is a book that will utterly delight your inner nerd.
Meanwhile in real life…
Me being the slacker that I am, there’s been a fairly considerable gap between the reading of the book and the writing of this post, so my memory is a little shaky.
It was around this time that I had a business mentorship session with Katie Evans, a freelance editor formerly with Penguin, to talk about how one goes about getting a book published these days. The mentorship was organised through Writers’ Victoria and you can read more about the program here.
What I took away from the mentorship is that, basically, it’s super difficult for new writers to get published by the big houses (shock, horror), but there are lots of opportunities if you can get the attention of a good indie or digital publisher. The industry is in the process of a revolution. These are uncertain times and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I also got my supervisors’ final lots of feedback on my thesis and novel and got to work polishing those up.
I also spent a week holding down the fort at work while the other editors were on leave. It was kind of like when you’re little and you mum goes out and you dress up in her clothes and perfume and think you look all sophisticated then realise you still have a lot of growing up to do. But a good experience nonetheless.