It’s been a busy year for Angry Robot, with the team growing in size over the last couple of months. The latest member of the editorial team is Amanda Rutter, who joined this month, and is building the list for our YA imprint, Strange Chemistry, which launches in September 2012. Here are some of Amanda’s highlights of the year.

Best of 2011
by Amanda Rutter 

So, it has been a very odd but amazing end to the year for me. I quit my ten year career in accounting to move hundreds of miles away and take up a new career in publishing. A consequence of this means that my beloved blog, Floor to Ceiling Books, has come to an end – and my chance to give out some end of year awards has also gone. Then Lee asked me to produce a piece for the Angry Robot 12 Days of Christmas and I thought ‘Here’s my chance!’

Without any further waffle, here are my categories and award winners (and do feel free to disagree and provide your own responses in the comments section!).

Favourite Convention
Without a doubt this would have to be the SFX Weekender. I had some proper escapades, I can tell you, but, apart from that, there is a sheer joy in mingling so many facets of the genre community. Yes, there is a massive fiction presence, with some of our best-loved writers attending and holding Q&As and such, but you also get to see some of the genre movie big hitters as well, for example. The Saturday night disco, with none other than Red Dwarf’‘s Dave Lister at the helm, was a particular highlight. It is moving to Prestatyn in 2012, and I am already booked in. Simply can’t wait!

Best Interview
I have been working on an in-depth Malazan read for Tor.com – my first time through this mammoth epic fantasy series and my first encounter with Erikson’s writing. I genuinely believe he is pretty much the most talented epic fantasist writing today – sure, his tomes can be difficult to get into, but I assure you that the duos he creates, the dialogue he writes, the massively explosive finales, all of these are the finest examples of epic fantasy out there. So I like to read the interviews he does, and the best example of these is the one conducted jointly by Pat, Neth and Adam from the Wertzone (found here). Great questions, candid replies.

Biggest YA Talent
So YA fiction is obviously close to my heart right now (and has been for a long time) and I believe the author that is right at the top of his game in this field is Patrick Ness. Not only did we see the culmination of the Chaos Walking trilogy appear on the Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist, but he released A Monster Calls this year. I sobbed my way through it last night. Never have I read a more honest, thought-provoking and moving YA novel. Patrick Ness is becoming one of those authors who transcends genre and category, in my opinion. I think everyone should read him.

Favourite Quote
This comes from A Monster Calls: “Stories are the wildest things of all. Stories chase and bite and hunt.” True dat!

Least Surprising Event of 2011
Every man and his dog decided that they loved epic fantasy after watching the Game of Thrones series. None of them picked up any books. (I jest. Of course this was brilliant for genre – but I do wonder how many people have moved onto other books in the GRRM mould after trying his novels? I hope it is lots!)

Book I Should Have Read in 2011
There can be no other than The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This has been talked up across the blogosphere. I even have a copy sat in my house. And yet I haven’t picked it up. I think this ought to be changed over the festive period!

Novelist of the Year
I suspect in 2012 this would be our very own Adam Christopher, after the groundswell of interest and approval in his debut, Empire State! However, for 2011 I have gone with Laini Taylor. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was released to massive acclaim, after a truly stunning marketing campaign, and, after a swathe of glowing reviews, the novel has now been optioned for film.

Book of the Year
Everyone will have their own opinion on this one, but no other book I read this year (in a year where I tackled Patrick Ness, Lauren Beukes and Steven Erikson) matched up to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline for sheer fun and exuberance. It came completely out of left field and utterly blew me away. Just brilliant!

Finally…

Most Anticipated Book of 2012
Apart from the five that Strange Chemistry will be releasing, my most anticipated novel is Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. This is an author whose shorts have been receiving lots of love, and this is his first full novel. Not just that, but it is fantasy with a very different flavour. I’m very excited!

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