Hunting Moles with Paul Collins

I’ve just finished reading a rather exciting, action-packed book. A good old-fashioned science fiction epic with spaceships, aliens, amazing technology and an anti-hero with plans of universal domination. The book is Mole Hunt. The author is Paul Collins. The publisher is Ford Street Publishing, which also happens to be run by the aforementioned Mr Collins. And he’s here with us today to tell us about his book and why he decided to publish it through Ford Street. Take it away Paul …

The Maximus Black Blog Post
By Paul Collins

Writing novels can be tortuous. Authors can spend a year plus writing something and there’s absolutely no guarantee that it will ever be published. So imagine working for someone for a year — maybe as a carpenter, plumber, whatever — and getting told after a year that your work isn’t up to standard and sorry, we’re not paying you.

More authors than not go through this scenario. I went through it with Mole Hunt. It was submitted to most of Australia’s major publishers and some via an agent in the UK and the US. Many replied saying how good it was, but …

Penguin UK praised it to the hilt saying if they didn’t already have Artemis Fowl, the young James Bond, etc, they’d be keen. Another prominent Australian publisher told me Mole Hunt reminded her of what she used to love in science fiction … but it wasn’t for her imprint, which was more contemporary literature. But of course, rejection is rejection.

Cutting a long story short, I decided it would be a Ford Street title. After all, I’ve been through the above scenario before. Dragonlinks was rejected by every publisher in Australia back in 1998/99 — a year or two before the big fantasy craze in Australia (ahead of my time as usual!). The publisher at Penguin left so I resubmitted it without telling her replacement that Penguin had already rejected it. It was finally accepted. That was 2001. It was published in 2002 and is still selling now. (A tip for aspiring writers — persistence is the key word!)

After so many rejections a very small part of me wondered if I was maybe on to a loser with Mole Hunt. After all, Maximus Black is, as the name suggests, all bad. Was I ahead of the pack with an anti-hero as I had been with fantasy novels a decade before the major Australian publishers discovered the genre? (As an aside, dystopian fiction is huge right now – but I wrote Mole Hunt three years ago – hmmm, I see a thread here!)

But then I read Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz. Crikey, his baddies make Maximus look like a boy scout. Max only kills a few people in the first couple of chapters. Anthony’s baddies kill — I dunno, I lost count. But the body-bag ratio is high.

Still, I reckon the kill-rate and action overall matches Scorpio Rising. Bookseller + Publisher says it’s “bitingly clever” and a cross between The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Dexter and Total Recall. Buzz Words says its pace would give Matthew Reilly a nosebleed and Kids’ Book Capers says they couldn’t put the book down.

Maybe I’m on a winner after all!

But I’ll let you be the judge of that. Here’s a run down of the plot:

Special Agent Maximus Black excels at everything he attempts. The problem is, most of what he attempts is highly illegal. Recruited by the Regis Imperium Mentatis (RIM) when he was just fifteen, he is the youngest cadet ever to become a RIM agent. Of course, being a certified sociopath helps. He rises quickly through the ranks, doing whatever it takes to gain promotion. This includes murdering the doctor who has certified him, as well as a RIM colonel who Black deems to be more useful dead than alive. Now seventeen, he is a valuable member of a highly secret task force whose assignment is to unearth a traitorous mole. Unfortunately for RIM he is the mole, a delightful irony that never ceases to amuse him.

In the two years he has been with RIM he has only met his match once. Anneke Longshadow, another RIM agent, who nearly succeeded in exposing him. But nearly wasn’t enough. Now she is dead and he is very much alive to pursue his criminal activities.

Right now, Black has a new problem — one that will challenge him to the max. He has a lot of work to do and little time to do it but as with every facet of his life, he plans each step with meticulous precision.

Maximus needs to find three sets of lost coordinates to rediscover the power of the dreadnoughts – a powerful armada of unbeatable power, long since put into mothballs by the sentinels whose job it is to keep peace and harmony in the ever expanding universe.

Sadly for Black, complications arise. It seems Anneke Longshadow isn’t dead after all. Every bit his match, Anneke eludes the traps Black sets for her. Born on Normansk, a planet with 1.9 gravity, Anneke is more than capable of defending herself against Black’s hired help, the insectoid Envoy, and his professional mercenary and hitman, Kilroy.

Power-hungry, Black usurps the throne of Quesada, a powerful crime syndicate. His ultimate aim is to replace the Galaxy gate-keepers, RIM, with his own organisation. Matching him step by step, Anneke collects as her allies all those who Maximus has deposed in his march to becoming ruler of the universe.

If this sounds like your type of book, I know it’s available on this site.

George’s bit at the end

It is, indeed, an exciting read!

And if you’d like to come along to the launch of Mole Hunt, here are the details …

Friday 10 June 2011
8:30pm – 9:30pm
Melbourne’s Swanston Hotel, Grand Mercure (Ether Conference Centre), 195 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Paul Collins will be presented with the A Bertram Chandler Award. This will be followed by the launch of Mole Hunt. Hugo-shortlisted author Sean McMullen will launch the book. Please RSVP before 7 June to: [email protected]

The launch is being held on the opening night of Continuum 7, Melbourne’s Speculative Fiction and Pop Culture Convention (check out my previous blog post). All of Friday night’s activities are FREE… so come along. For more info about Continuum 7, check out their website. Hope you see you there!

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter.


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George Ivanoff

LITERARY CLUTTER: Bookish bloggings from the cluttered mind and bookshelf of Melbourne author, George Ivanoff. George is the author of the YOU CHOOSE books, the OTHER WORLDS series, the RFDS Adventures and the GAMERS trilogy.