“It feels terrifying, actually,” says best-selling author Ben Aaronovitch, about his debut novel featuring in Cityread 2015, a festival that aims to turn Londoners on to reading.
Cityread 2015 has chosen Rivers of London as its featured novel for an annual celebration of literature across the capital throughout April, for literary lovers as well as beginner bookworms.
The acclaimed author is taking on the task of visiting a library in every London borough, he began at Canada Water Library last week and will end his city-wide tour in Islington on April 30.
He will stop off south west London libraries in Sutton, Surbiton, Brixton, Balham, Twickenham, Wimbledon, Kensington and Hammersmith as part of the tour.
“When you’re a writer you want your books to be read,” said Ben. “But in a weird way you want them to be read far away from you so you don’t know what people think of them.
“You have to be incredibly arrogant to be a writer. The terrible arrogance of thinking, yes, millions of people are reading my book!”
As well as the 33 library meetings in 30 days, theatre group Look Left Look Right will put on immersive performances at Westminster Library as part of the series of events linked to the book.
Rivers of London is the first in a fantasy series about a young Metropolitan police officer teaming up with the last wizard in England to solve supernatural crimes.
Set in the capital, officer Peter Grant must find out what is turning ordinary people into serial killers while brokering peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.
“I am a Londoner and I love my city,” said Ben. “There’s so much history in London that I didn’t really know where to begin the story.
“Even what you think is a nondescript suburb has so much history. There are layers and layers – I’m kind of nibbling at the edges at the moment where it’s manageable.”
While working at a high-street bookshop following a jaunt as a screenwriter, Ben ran the crime section, as well as the fantasy and science-fiction section, and decided to write one book combining the two genres.
Rivers of London was first published in 2011 to critical acclaim, earning a Galaxy National Book Awards nomination for Aaronovitch in the New Writer of the Year award.
His fifth book, Foxglove Summer, was published last November, with The Hanging Tree to be released later this year.
On top of that, a graphic-novel version of Rivers of London, written by Ben, is coming out in five issues from June, something which Ben says he is very proud of.
As Cityread gathers pace, his name will only become more familiar with the London literarti as well as his core of fantasy fans.