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Jack Heath on how he convinced publishers to accept a book featuring a nihilistic cannibal

Jack Heath on how he convinced publishers to accept a book featuring a nihilistic cannibal

Canberra author Jack Heath is no stranger to the macabre, bizarre and slightly preposterous. He’s been writing daring thriller novels for young people ever since he was a teenager, and his books have featured mutant mosquitos, terrifying monster squids and man-eating plants.

But his first book for adults, Hangman, is a whole other level of weird. When he began shopping around the manuscript, publishers ‘hated’ it, Heath reveals on the Good Reading Podcast.

Their reluctance to consider the book for publication probably had something to do with the fact that the story’s ‘hero’ is Timothy Blake: a nihilistic Texan genius who harbours a craving for human flesh.

‘It’s a pretty ambitious book,’ Heath says. ‘Hangman was the most outrageous idea that I’ve had so far.’

‘[Blake] was kind of a creative writing challenge to myself. I was asking myself what the most repulsive character I could create was, and then still get the reader to if not like him, at least forgive him.’

After a few years and many revisions, Heath says he found a publisher who was ‘insane as I was’ at Allen & Unwin. Since publication, Hangman has received rave reviews and was one of Good Reading’s top-rated books last year.

'The book did better than anyone expected it to,’ says Heath, who has just released another book starring the troubled Timothy Blake, Hunter.

Jack joined Angus Dalton on the Good Reading podcast to talk about his cannibalistic character. Listen now on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or any other app by searching for the Good Reading Podcast.