What do you think will be trends in publishing in the coming year?
It’s so difficult to predict trends. However, given the current political climate and constant bombardment of bad news, I think readers are looking for books that provide an escape—whether it’s confronting their fears in a dystopian novel or following characters on an epic journey that results in good prevailing over evil. Speculative fiction certainly supplies readers with this escape while helping them navigate conflicts and explore possibilities.
I’m also seeing a necessary rise in the popularity of books that provide readers with diverse perspectives. Two that I’m looking forward to are Zen Cho’s The True Queen[since published on March 12] and Alexis Hall’s The Affair of the Mysterious Letter. In The True Queen, a follow-up to Cho’s marvelous Sorcerer to the Crown, two Malaysian sisters, with no memories of their past, find themselves embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae. The Affair of the Mysterious Letteris a brilliant, weird fantasy homage to Sherlock Holmes. Hall’s Sherlock and Watson—Miss Shaharazad Haas, a captivating sorceress, and Capt. John Wyndham, a transgender man who has just returned from the war—find themselves involved in a reality-bending case when they set out to discover who is blackmailing Eirene Viola, Miss Haas’ former lover.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
My favorite part of my job is introducing new readers to the science-fiction and fantasy genres. At Ace, we’re always on the lookout for titles that bridge the gap between mainstream and genre. Stories that feature speculative elements infiltrating and altering our world make the genre more accessible to new readers and lead them to explore titles with more traditional science-fiction and fantasy plots.
I’m also loving the continuing popularity of books that retell/reimagine classic stories and integrate different genres. Ace’s upcoming romantic fantasy The Beast’s Heartby Leife Shallcross [since published on February 12] is a gorgeous retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” from the crucial point of view of the Beast. And Kali Wallace’s Salvation Day, about a cult that takes a group of graduate students hostage onboard an abandoned spaceship that’s home to a deadly virus, is an absolutely thrilling and seamless combination of horror, mystery, and science fiction.
What topic do you never want to see again?
I can’t really think of any! It’s so often we see popular topics presented in new and interesting ways, especially in science fiction and fantasy.
What would you like to change about the publishing industry?
Every publishing house and imprint should always be focused on bringing diverse voices to its readers and to its meeting rooms. In the last couple years, the industry has made strides to change the landscape; I’m happy to work for a company that has issued a massive, companywide initiative. However we can always be better, and only continued focus will result in long-term change.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m on the board of directors of the NY Writers Coalition, an organization that offers free and low-cost writing workshops throughout New York City. NYWC’s workshops are particularly targeted toward underserved people, including the elderly, homeless, incarcerated, LGBTQ, and the visual and hearing impaired, and provide a safe and supportive environment encouraging participants to gain confidence in their writing and develop habits to sustain it as a long-term practice. If you live in New York City and you’re looking for a chance to volunteer, it’s a wonderful organization with a variety of opportunities. More information can be found on NYWC’s website.
Alexis Nixon is an assistant director of publicity at the Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. She leads the publicity campaigns for all titles published in the Ace and DAW science-fiction and fantasy imprints. Prior to her position at Berkley, she was a publicist at Tom Doherty Associates and a sales and marketing coordinator at Macmillan.