If you’re a regular reader of LoveReading, chances are, you’ll have encountered some of the gems published by Angry Robot Books, an imprint devoted to bringing you the best in modern sci-fi and fantasy  – inventive novels that push boundaries to the limit. 

As a result, we were thrilled to learn that the team behind Angry Robot are launching a new list that promises to do the same for crime fiction – Datura. Looking at the launch list, and ahead to the rest of 2023, fans of fast-paced, genre-bending, character-led crime have much to be excited about. 

We’ll hand you over to Eleanor Teasdale, Publisher of Angry Robot Books and Datura, to tell you more about Datura and upcoming books that look set to shake things up…

Describe Datura’s ethos in three words…

Fun, independent and fresh.

And now the unabridged version! What led you to found Datura? What’s your editorial ethos? i.e. What makes a Datura book a Datura book?

So, we are very true to being an independent imprint and we are looking for stories that stand out – those that feel like they bring something fresh to the genre! We want to work with authors and build them up into the sort of writers that readers come back to, time and time again. True to our Angry Robot heritage, we’re accessible and open – we’re always listening to our readers and want to deliver the books they are looking for!

The Datura logo is fabulously striking. What’s the story behind the skeleton? And what about the name?

We spent so long picking the name and logo! The name Datura was suggested by Fiona – the Watkins Publisher – as it is a night blooming poisonous flower native to the UK, and it just felt like it clicked into place! 

So, we landed on the name first, and then when it came to the logo, we were trying to find something that felt like it had breadth – to cover the commercial end of the list as well as the more cross-over literary end. Honestly, we just fell in love with the Skeleton when the designer showed it to us. It felt like it was different and fresh and a little tongue in cheek – the way Angry Robot is – and that felt very true to what we were trying to do. 

Could you tell us about the novels on your launch list? Why were these chosen to debut Datura?

Oh yes! We wanted a range of stories so that each of the books could stand on their own without treading on other toes. So, first we have Death of a Dancing Queen which is a gorgeous snarky and smart P.I novel set in New Jersey. I picked it to launch the list as it felt like a fresh take on P.I stories, and when I read it, it gave me an instant flashback to Veronica Mars. But this is grown up, fast and god, Billie the detective is just so great. I’m hoping we’ll be getting some more of her next year… 

The other the titles were commissioned by the rest of the team. The idea was to have each editor pick the best example of what they were interested in, so we’ve ended up with an amazing historical Dickensian-inspired crime, a pulp slasher, a really smart psychological suspense and a slice of literary crime. We felt that these cover a breadth of talent and show off some of the amazing writing happening in the genre at the moment! 

Give us an elevator pitch for some upcoming Datura books. What do we need to add to our 2023 reading wishlist?

Spider by Azma Dar – it’s an amazing psychological suspense about an ambitious British-Pakistani actress who is trying to cope with the press scrutiny around her third husband who has gone missing. Then we have Mother Howl by Craig Clevenger who wrote the cult success The Contortionist’s Handbook a few years ago. This one is about a son of a serial killer who has changed his identity to escape his father’s past, but someone has caught on to the façade. 

We then have an absolutely joyous consume-it-all-in-one-sitting pulp-slasher called The Graveyard Shift by Maria Lewis – it’s about a late-night horror cinema radio show host who takes a call-in and realises she is listening to someone being murdered live on air.

Finally, our Dickensian crime – The Death of Sir Martin Malprelate by Adam Roberts. It’s properly British gaslight and cobblestones murder mystery with a Railway Baron dead at the centre… 

Which books from the Angry Robot backlist should everyone read?

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng – it’s incredible. It has super beautiful, intricate and weird writing. It’s also award-winning. And Composite Creatures by Caroline Hardaker – an incredibly creepy-written healthcare dystopia.  

What’s your all-time favourite novel/s? 

Ahhh this is so hard! The Secret History, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Broken Harbour

Who would you invite to your dream literary party?

Tana French, R. F Kuang, Gabrielle Zevin – as I long to grill her about writing Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow – Shirley Jackson and S. A Cosby, who I think is doing some of the best writing around in the crime genre these days! 

Tell us a secret about books…

They are for fun!! They are art, but they’re also for entertainment and distraction and no one should shame you for reading anything in any genre or gatekeep you out of them. 

Stay up to date with Datura:

Website: daturabooks.com

Twitter: @daturabooks

Facebook: DaturaBooks

Instagram: @daturabooks

And, to discover more from the people who bring you all those books you love, read the rest of our Industry Insights series.