First novel news: London Black

We’re delighted that John Lutz, a talented student from our course The Novel Creator, has recently signed a book deal for his first novel London Black. We caught up with him to find out about his debut, what he learned from the course and what he’s writing next…

Credit: Emily Nytko-Lutz

– Congratulations on your book deal, John! Can you tell us a bit about your novel; what’s it about?

London Black is a near-future police procedural set in 2029, two years after terrorists release a novel nerve agent at Waterloo Station with cataclysmic consequences.  A prominent biochemist has pledged to develop an antidote, but he’s found murdered under mysterious circumstances.  

Our hero is DI Lucy Stone, a cop suffering crippling guilt from something she did two years ago — something she can only call The Thing That Happened. If Lucy can solve the murder and recover the antidote she believes the murdered biochemist created, perhaps she can finally forgive herself. But is the antidote real, or just a figment of Lucy’s desperation?

Who’s publishing it, and when?

London Black will be published by Pushkin Vertigo in Spring 2022.

– You completed Amanda and Craig’s novel writing course The Novel Creator: A Mentored Course. What aspects of it were most helpful for you?

Everything about the course was useful — the tutorials, the exercises, the Q&As, all of it.  

But if forced to choose a single most helpful aspect, I’d pick the mentoring. Amanda and Craig are immensely knowledgeable about the craft of writing — but even better, they’re engaged.  They truly care about their students. And they challenged me, which I loved because it meant I was being taken seriously as a writer.

– The course aims to create writers and careers, not simply one-off books. What aspects of the course did you find were portable into your next project?

The course does such an excellent job of focussing on the underlying principles of storytelling — on how plot, theme and structure interrelate, on how characters can be used to embody theme.  All of that’s super-portable because it’s not genre or style-specific — if you’re writing a novel of any stripe, the same concepts apply. In particular, Craig gave a lecture on linking plot and theme that I’ve probably re-watched a half-dozen times by now.  

– What are you working on now?

Another thriller! But even if I were turning my hand to a completely different genre, I’d be able to use what I learned on Amanda and Craig’s course. It really was a fantastic experience.