Sceptre has landed a "stunning" short story collection and debut novel by Serpent's Tail assistant editor Leon Craig.
Francine Toon, commissioning editor at Sceptre, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Matt Turner at RCW. Collection Parallel Hells will publish in January 2022 with novel The Decadence to follow.
The publisher explained: “Parallel Hells uses elements of folklore, horror and the gothic to explore the politics of sexuality, gender, the body, love and loneliness. The 13 audacious stories take us into the world of night hags, golems, vampires, warrior women, fairies and corpse brides who live in contemporary London, 18th-century Poland and Viking-era Iceland. Threaded throughout are timely and political metaphors about queerness, gender fluidity, kink, otherness and womanhood.”
Craig’s writing has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Vice, the Times Literary Supplement, the London Magazine and in 2016 her story “Mute Canticle” was shortlisted for the White Review Short Story Prize. She is a member of the Arts Council-funded queer writers' collective The Future is Back, a student on the Birkbeck MFA Creative Writing course, and works in publishing.
She said: “I could not be happier to be working with Francine Toon and the team at Sceptre. Francine is an acutely perceptive, inspired editor as well as a brilliant author in her own right. Sceptre is the home of many of my favourite writers and I'm awed to be in such good company.”
Toon added: “I am thrilled to be publishing Parallel Hells, a stunning short story collection that moves the gothic genre into fresh, thought-provoking territory. I particularly love Leon Craig’s explorations of queer identity and Jewish folklore in both historic and modern worlds. We meet, for example, a golem learning what it means to be human, an ancient being who takes pleasure in alternative London nightlife and a curiously vampiric tourist. These are stories that feel different and exciting while remaining deliciously creepy and rooted in tradition.”