I’m really proud to be publishing Hild by Nicola Griffith. It is an exceptional novel – that magical, elusive kind of book that spirits you away to another world. I can’t stop thinking and talking about it. There’s a real alchemy in what Nicola has done – it feels as though you have wandered back in time, it’s so utterly convincing and fully imagined.
Hild is set in seventh-century Britain – a mysterious time and a pivotal moment in British history. At its heart is one of the most fascinating and appealing characters ever to walk on to a page. Hild is just a child at the beginning of the novel, but in time she will become one of the most important figures of the medieval world. She has a unique and brilliant mind and she is a patient, perceptive observer. This allows her to predict how people will behave and understand the patterns of cause and effect. In these Dark Ages, she is considered a prophet – perhaps even a witch.
Her abilities also put her in danger. Her uncle, Edwin, is king of Northumberland. Ruthless and cunning, he is prepared to do anything to become ‘overking’ of the whole of Britain. He expects Hild to warn him of any trouble ahead – from bad weather to war. This tension thrums through the novel as Hild fights to keep herself and her family safe, one prediction at a time.
Although Nicola Griffith was born and raised in Yorkshire she now lives in the US and Hild was published there in November last year. It received fantastic reviews and also wonderful responses from readers. People tend to become rather evangelical about it – myself included.
One of the reasons I read Hild is because it was recommended to me by Monica Byrne – another Blackfriars author. We’re publishing Monica’s debut novel, The Girl in the Road, in May and I’m going to use this opportunity to say READ IT! It’s brilliant. Like Hild, it conjures up a vivid, immersive world but this time set forty years in the future, in India. (I like to be transported places…!)
Monica lives in North Carolina but happened to be passing through London last December. In fact she was pretty much blown through town in gale force winds. Somehow she fought her way into the office to meet the Blackfriars team. We talked about all sorts of things, and then Monica mentioned a book she was reading called Hild, and how much she was enjoying it. I’d already heard about it and in fact the US publisher had just sent me a copy.
Synchronicity? Maybe. Hild would say that as I loved Monica’s own book so much, naturally we might share a taste in other novels too. And so, cause and effect… But maybe there was just a smidge of magic in there too.
Either way – I am truly delighted to be launching both these wonderful novels this year on the Blackfriars list. I can’t wait for more people to read them and hopefully love them as much as I do.