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Meet the Team: James Long, Senior Commissioning Editor

James Long, Senior Commissioning Editor

James Long, Senior Commissioning Editor

Introducing James Long, Senior Commissioning Editor

What was your first acquisition or the first book you worked on for Orbit?

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. Talk about starting with a banger. I binged most of the book in a day and we bought it soon after. And more than a decade later I’m still Anthony’s editor, and he’s written many, many more bangers.

What was the first SFF book you were obsessed with as a child?

I was a massive fan of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (and now own the entire series of 50+ books) but the first SFF series I was obsessed with was Sheila McCullagh’s Tim and the Hidden People books, about a boy who finds a magic key that reveals a hitherto invisible magical world. Wonderfully imaginative and with amazingly atmospheric illustrations by Pat Cook. Full sets occasionally surface on Ebay for eye-watering sums.

Name an Orbit cover that you love?

The original cover for Terry Brooks’s The Sword of Shannara, by the Brothers Hildebrandt. I tore through this book in three days on a childhood summer holiday, and so the cover evokes great memories.

What’s been your career highlight at Orbit?

There’s been so many. Meeting Terry Brooks (and later becoming his UK editor). Launching the careers of brilliant new authors and working with some of the biggest names in SFF. But if I had to pick one, it would be when I went to fetch Iain M. Banks from reception, found him sitting there playing air guitar with an umbrella, and thought to myself, “Yes, this is exactly why I work in SFF publishing.”

What are your top 5 TV shows of all time?

Rome, which was just ridiculously good, and it remains a massive shame it only got two seasons. James Purefoy as Marc Anthony might be the best bit of casting ever. As for the rest of my top 4…whelp, I don’t know. Game of Thrones would be in there, despite the dodgy final season. Breaking Bad too. Can I give you my top five favourite cartoons instead? Transformers, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Inspector Gadget and Teddy Ruxpin. There.

What would your specialist subject be on Mastermind?

The so-called ‘golden age’ of piracy in the early 1700s, which I wrote two university dissertations on. Fun fact: plank-walking has no historical basis and was most likely invented by Hollywood.

What one book do you wish you had published?

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff. Rich, dark and dangerous.

What’s your favourite trope?

Wise-cracking rogues with sharp steel and hearts of gold on some sort of heist.

What would your DnD class and race be?

High Elf Wizard, which is literally what I just beat Baldur’s Gate 3 with. There’s something irresistible about cantrips, pointy ears and snootiness.

Star Wars of Star Trek?  

Star Wars. I was a teenager when The Phantom Menace came out, so got caught up in the second wave of Star Wars mania. My friend had some ludicrous speaker setup with surround sound, so we’d turn it up really loud and listen to the TIE fighter screech (you know the one; you can hear it right now) and see how long it took his mum to run downstairs and tell us off. Good times.