A children's book for grown-ups by Jon Evans

Who are you, and why should I read your book?

I have a whole web site to answer that first question, but briefly: I'm an award-winning, internationally successful novelist, and also an ex-techie, adventure traveller, and occasional journalist. As for the book - well, many people seem to think it's quite good. And, heck, it's free.

Why are you doing this?

Well, I originally wanted to release my first published novel (Dark Places aka Trail of the Dead) online, but my publishers balked at that. Then it occurred to me I could release Beasts of New York instead. And while it's an odd little book, I'm very, very fond of it, so I want to give it a chance to find an audience.

Will BoNY be published in paper?

I hope so, but I don't know when. My agents loved it, as did several publishers - but the conventional wisdom is that animal protagonists don't appeal to anyone over the age of 9, and (while it may not be apparent from the first few chapters) BoNY becomes much too dark and violent - or so publishers say - for that age group. So it's a tough sell. That said, I still cautiously expect it to eventually find a publisher. Yes! By The Porcupine's Quill, an excellent Canadian literary press (its founders were recently awarded the Order of Canada for their "significant and enduring contributions to Canadian literature") in March 2011.

But you're putting the whole book up online for free. Doesn't that make it unpublishable?

See the list to the right for ample proof to the contrary.

If it's so weird and hard to sell, why did you write it?

Well, I couldn't not write it, was the problem. Sometimes an idea lodges in your head and just won't go away. So in April of 2006, without telling any of my publishers (you try to imagine telling people with a financial interest in your authorial success that you want to write a whole book about a squirrel) I subletted an apartment in New York City and started writing. I wandered around the city and wrote 3,000 words a day - it was great. I took a break at the halfway point (about 40,000 words) and finished it in November and December of last year, when I spent ten days at a friend's place in Brooklyn.

Do I need to know anything about NYC to appreciate the book?

Not at all - but if you do, there are some Easter eggs you'll probably enjoy. I used to live in New York, and this book is, among other things, my love letter to the city.

You're posting one chapter a day. How many chapters are there?

It turns out there were exactly ninety. (The whole online novel is 92,000 words long, which would work out to about 300 pages in book form; the print version, which has been edited and tightened, is approximately 80,000 words.)


Thanks to:
* Kate Ward for her support and belief.
* Chelsea Watt and Elisa Korenne for providing the NYC apartments in which I started and finished the book.
* Linda Tom for designing this site.
* Sarah Langan for exploring the Croton Road with me.
* Maggie Cino and my sisters, Alison and Jennifer, for reading early versions.
* Julia Solis for her book New York Underground.
* L.B. Deyo for his(?) book Invisible Frontier.
* Temple Grandin for her book Animals in Translation.
* Robert Sullivan for his book Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants.
* Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace for their book Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.
* David Wellington and Charles Stross for their helpful advice.
* Simon Law, for typesetting the PDF version. (The LaTex source is available on Github, for those who want to roll their own...)

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Jon Evans is the award-winning author of the thrillers Invisible Armies, Dark Places (aka Trail of the Dead), and The Blood Price. See his web site rezendi.com.

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