Peter May's international best-seller, The Blackhouse, finally reaches the USA. Published this month by Sterling Publishing's Silver Oak imprint, its success is something that Scottish author Peter May once believed would never be possible.
May's book follows a Scottish policeman back to his island roots on the remote Scottish archipelago of the Outer Hebrides for a murder inquiry which awakens ghosts from his past that he had long ago buried. This psychological mystery is described as "a thriller of rare power and vision that explores the darkest recesses of the soul".
Winner of two French literary prizes, "The Blackhouse" was a major best-seller in the UK and has been published to critical acclaim around Europe and beyond. But for several years the Peter May had given up all hope that the book would ever be in print.
The extraordinary story of May's hugely popular "The Blackhouse" began several years ago when the author couldn't find a publisher for the book that he described as, "the best thing I've ever written". His rejection letters contained quotes that would have enhanced the cover of any best-seller:
"an outstanding thriller"
"a darkly atmospheric read"
However, in the days before the Scandinavian writers introduced the world to psychological thrillers set in obscure locations, none of the publishers felt they could market a book set in the remote Outer Hebrides of Scotland, thinking that it wouldn't reach a wide enough audience, and so although May's agent believed in the book, it was universally rejected by all the publishers to whom he submitted it.
Devastated, May set the book aside and forced himself to focus on other projects; until, one day, he mentioned the book to his French publisher, who asked to read it. Editions Rouergue's Danielle Dastugue loved the book, and immediately made an offer for world rights. The French, with their strong tradition of Roman Noir literature, had no problems with the melancholic atmosphere of the Scottish islands and the troubled policeman investigating a crime which opens old wounds of his own.
It was unheard of for a French publisher to buy world rights for a book written in English, but "The Blackhouse" was immediately translated into French as "L'ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux" - The Island of the Bird Hunters - and was published in May’s adopted home of France within months.
It was immediately hailed as “a masterpiece” by the French daily newspaper L’Humanité.
"The Blackhouse" was published all over Europe to critical acclaim. In the UK, the dynamic young publishing house, Quercus who had not existed when "The Blackhouse" had first been submitted to UK publishers (and who brought Stieg Larsson to English-speaking readers) immediately saw the book's potential and published it in the UK in February 2011.
Watch and listen to Peter May tell the story of the book's publication here: http://youtu.be/OjbgVf5Hwno