Wow, that was a long blogging break…

James Fahy :

 

Hello all.

I have greatly neglected this blog/website for aaaaaaaaaagggggeeeessss now, although in my defence, I wrote and released four books and two omnibuses last year, which took up most of my time. I’m sure readers would rather have me writing than blogging.

BUT, excuses aside, I have decided to try and give this place a bit of a spring clean, and I will be attempting to blog and add ariticles much more frequently and reliably from now on.

Just to give you a quick tour, I have an updated ‘About page’ , I now have seperate pages for each of the books in the Changeling Series ( Isle of Winds, The Drowned Tomb and the upcoming Chains of Gaia) – each of these pages contains cover art, video booktrailers for the books in question, a brief synopsis and a selection of Amazon reviews. so go and check them out and leave me a note to let me know what you think 🙂

   

(I will also be doing the same for the Phoebe Harkness books, so check back for those in the next couple of days)

I will be working on adding a ‘Bookstagram Gallery’ (showcasing as a way of thank where readers worldwide have been kind enough to feature my books on their blogs, social media etc)  as well as sections for Promo – art and bookteasers.

There is also now a Bookmerch page, where I give you links to the wonderful artists and craftspeople who have created all manner of shiny trinklets and goodies based on my work. Please do check them out and give these great creatives your support.

I will (at some point) get around to linking any interviews, (radio, print or bookblog) on a seperate page too, but that’s quite a daunting task, so there will be much coffee involved.

And keep your eye on the blog pages, as I plan to host some informal Author-chats with other writers, both traditional and indie, and hopefully introduce you guys to some of their great work too.

for now, I will leave you with the latest booktrailer for Changeling Book Three: Chains of Gaia. coming your way shortly:

CHAINS OF GAIA TRAILER 2 (CLICK ME) X

Drowned Tomb Book Release

I’m so terribly slow at blogging, but in my defense, I’ve been writing, so it’s all apples and oranges, right?

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Happy to announce that Book Two of the Changeling Series, and the sequel to my Amazon Bestseller Isle of Winds is now officially released!

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The Kindle version is not officially released until the end of August 2016 (so not very long anyway) – as it’s currently on a pre-order promotional deal for 99p /99c

(which is the same as a chocolate bar of your choice and maybe three or four tic-tacs, so bargain!)

But the Hardcopy paperback is available to buy as of NOW, directly from Amazon.com /.uk /.Aus /Ca etc.

I’m really excited for those of you who will be reading it. It’s always a strange feeling when your book is finally out there in the wide world, no longer under your control. I hope those of you who have been waiting to return to Erlking have a good time.

Just wrap up warm.

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Also, here is as good a place as any to mention, if you haven’t yet picked up the first volume in this fantasy series, it is currently available as part of Amazon’s prestigious Summer Sale for the steal price of 99p (Kindle version -UK only)

Happy reading, and I’ll see you in the Netherworlde.

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DROWNED TOMB: CHANGELING BOOK TWO. An Excerpt

As some of you may already be aware, (especially if you follow me on Twitter or Bookstagram) The second book in my Fantasy series Changeling, is due out soon.

Following on from the first story, ‘Isle of Winds’, the second instalment is ‘Drowned Tomb’ and i’ve been posting teaser and promo pics on facebook, Insta and elsewhere for my own entertainment, (and also to break up the grind of constant editing).

For anyone who has read and enjoyed the first book, below for you is a short teaser excerpt from the second: looking forward to doing a cover reveal shortly too. 🙂

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Drowned Tomb: Chapter Three

The Midnight Pool

It was midnight, and Robin, fully dressed and carrying a torch, padded silently through the quiet and moonlit corridors of Erlking Hall behind the shadowy figure of Henry, who had assured him he remembered the way to the old, boarded up pool room. Henry also carried a dark torch, as well as a large sack, which clinked ominously, filled as it was with empty jam jars he had earlier pilfered, at great danger of being caught, from Hestia the housekeeper’s pantry. He had a pair of swimming goggles pushed high up on his head. ‘Just in case’, he had explained to Robin as they had met after lights-out in the darkness outside his bedroom.

It was a strange feeling, stealing through the silent darkness, knowing that they should be tucked up in bed, and that everyone else in the house was sleeping. Hestia would skin them alive if she knew they were sneaking around in the middle of the night, exploring forbidden corridors and poking their noses into places she most certainly wouldn’t approve of. But the housekeeper was shut up in her own rooms for the night, playing reedy gramophone music, as was her habit.

At this late hour, their strange new guest, the enigmatic Madame Calypso had retired to the guest chambers which Henry’s father had arranged for her. Robin hadn’t seen her since they’d reached the house earlier in the day. Even Aunt Irene had turned in for the night, although Robin secretly suspected the old woman didn’t actually sleep. She always seemed too busy. She was probably locked away in a high study somewhere, scribbling away in one of her numerous ledgers by guttering candlelight.

Robin was just glad that it was the weekend, and Henry had been allowed to sleep over at the hall. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun on his own. He shuddered, remembering the monochrome rooms.

“Are you sure you know where we’re going?” Robin hissed in a stage whisper as he followed the padding Henry around yet another corner, into a long dusty gallery which was filled with old suits of dull armour. He’d never been in this part of Erlking before. He wasn’t even sure what floor they were on. He was fairly sure it was the ground floor, but there were so many little steps here and there it was impossible to be certain. Erlking within had a way of turning you around.

The walls here were hung with heavy gathered swags of velvet, deep reddish-brown like old wine. They might once have been tapestries, before time, age and dust had erased whatever patterns they had.

“As sure as I can be,” Henry said reassuringly, leading his pale companion through the swags of velvety darkness. “There’s been no reason for anyone to come to this part of the house for years. Don’t know if you noticed, but your great aunt is not really the type to throw half-term pool parties.” He stubbed his toe on an unexpected and apparently purposeless step in the middle of the corridor and cursed inventively under his breath. “Even Hestia hardly comes near the pool room unless she absolutely has to, look, there’s dust and spider webs and stuff. Where else you ever seen those in Erlking?”

Henry had a point. Hestia considered Erlking her solemn duty, and though she couldn’t be said to do it without constant complaint, she kept the manor spotless.

“I’m sure this place gets bigger the more I explore it,” Robin muttered. “How long have I lived here now? It takes me about ten minutes to circle the place outside, but we can walk for hours inside. What’s that about?”

Henry shrugged ahead of him, a shadow in the gloom. “They say Erlking has a foot in the human world and a foot in the Netherworlde, don’t they? Well the Netherworlde is bigger than our world. Maybe a few of its Netherworlde toes are on the inside of the human world’s shoe, who knows?”

Robin couldn’t argue with this strange logic, so he didn’t.

They turned another corner in the dark corridor, only to find themselves suddenly and startlingly faced with two figures both leaning against a large set of double doors.

It was Karya, and with her, Erlking’s small blue-skinned faun, Woad.

“Or maybe you two dimwits just have no sense of direction and have been walking in circles for half an hour,” the small girl offered with a raised eyebrow.

“What are you doing here?” Henry grimaced, pretending he hadn’t just almost jumped out of his skin. “This is a top secret mission this is. Robin and I planned…”

“To get into the old boarded up pool room and extract some bile from the resident kraken?” Karya supplied. “Yes, amazingly I guessed you might. Believe it or not, your surreptitious looks earlier today and your whispered plan to sneak down here in the middle of the night wasn’t too difficult to figure out. You’re hardly the subtlest pair.”

Henry glared at the shadowy figure of Woad, who was sitting cross-legged on the floorboards before the heavily boarded-up doors, grinning. Woad was small and skinny, with a wild mop of hair and yellow, gleaming eyes. He was also electric blue, like all fauns, in possession of a happily swishing tail, and a neat set of small, sharp teeth, which were currently beaming up at them.

“You ratted us out?” Henry blustered in a loud whisper “Why, you little feral blue…”

“She’s the boss, Henryboy.” Woad cocked his head to one side. “Sorry, but she asked what you two were planning. Can’t lie to the boss. Wouldn’t be worth my tail to try.”

Robin clicked on his torch, sending a beam of dusty yellow light across the dark corridor into Karya’s face.

“Are you here to stop us?” he asked.

Karya rolled her eyes, pushing herself away from the wall. “Hardly, Scion.” She smiled. “I’m here to help out.”

Henry looked dumbfounded. He still didn’t fully trust the strange girl, especially since she had begun helping Irene with her little translation project. As far as he was concerned, she was fraternising with the grown-ups.

She noticed his look. “Believe it or not, I actually agree this is a logical idea,” she said. “If the Scion is going to start learning the Tower of Water tomorrow morning, it would be preferable if he didn’t drown during the first five minutes. If he did, it’s pretty unlikely his new tutor would leap to his rescue. She’s a nymph after all. She’d just watch with interest. This little expedition to collect bile could work out well.” She glanced at Robin. “Unfortunately, the Scion does not always have the best advisors. It might be useful to have someone in the mix who has actually seen a kraken before, rather than just a boy in a pair of swimming goggles and bag full of…?”

“Umm…jars,” Robin said, lowering his torch.

“Jam jars,” Henry said defensively. “For…the bile,” he finished lamely.

“And how, pray tell, are you planning on harvesting said bile?” Karya asked.

Robin and Henry exchanged looks in the darkness, Henry lowered his goggles onto his eyes.

“We…thought…” Robin began.

“We might…you know…squeeze?” Henry said vaguely.

Woad cackled merrily. Karya shook her head a little, unable to suppress a smile. She turned to the door which was criss-crossed with large nailed planks. “Let’s just get in there, shall we?” she suggested.

It only took a few moments for the four of them to wrench the old boards from the doors, the wood squealing off the rusty old nails as they pried them free. Before long they had removed enough of the barricade to allow them to shove open the doors a few inches, and squeeze themselves through into the stale smelling darkness beyond.

Within the long abandoned pool room, Robin found himself in utter darkness.

“Light, Woad, please,” Karya requested in a whisper, and the faun’s mana-stone, a small white opal on a thong around his neck flashed softly. A globe of watery bluish light appeared in his long-nailed hand, wavering like a glowing jelly cube. With a gesture he cast it upwards like a ball, and it floated high above them, casting its ghostly light down upon the four companions and their strange, stale-smelling, and silent surroundings.

The pool room, Robin saw by this pallid and spectral illumination, was a large chamber, with a long curved bow of a ceiling. There were tiered stone rows of seating around the edges of a large, almost Olympic sized swimming pool. The water which filled the pool was black and stagnant, like muddy oil. The light rippled off its surface opaquely.

“Well, this isn’t remotely creepy,” Henry whispered, looking around through his goggles.

“So,” Robin whispered. “Where’s the kraken then?” He’d been expecting it to be filling the room after Henry’s description, monstrous giant tentacles wrapped around pillars and a gaping razor-edged beak snapping at them. The pool room seemed instead eerily still and completely deserted.

“I’d imagine it’s in the pool,” Karya said, inching closer to the slippery edge, her footsteps echoing on the slippery, unpolished mosaic tiles.

“Do you think?” Henry said sarcastically. “Hey, mind you don’t fall in. Get too close and there’ll be tentacles whipping out of that sludge and dragging you under faster than you can scream. I know what I’m talking about, I’ve seen Jason and the Argonauts every Christmas since I was born.”

“Your friend Jason sounds like a master kraken-battler,” Woad said, sniffing around the pool cautiously on all fours, “Why didn’t you bring him with us, if he’s such an expert?”

“It’s just a film, Woad,” Henry explained.

“There is indeed a thick film on the pool,” Karya agreed. “I think its moss. Looks like the surface hasn’t been disturbed in…well…years.”

They were all talking at cross purposes, but Robin agreed. He clicked on his torch, shining its beam out over the dark and sinister water of the pool.

“She’s right,” he said to Henry. “That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? I mean, if there was a big octopus thing in there, surely it would disturb the water’s surface often enough to break this up?”

“So, maybe there’s nothing in the water at all,” Karya concluded. “Although look.” She directed Robin’s flashlight to the corner of the dank pool, where a rusted set of pool ladders lowered themselves into the muck. The rungs of the ladder were thickly strung with a vile-looking tangled weed.

“Black kraken weed,” Karya said. “So it stands to reason, it must be here.”

Robin eyed the black water dubiously, wondering whether, deep in its silent depths, there lurked a still and vast monster, watching them, listening to their hushed whispers.

The surface suddenly rippled with a loud plop, making both Karya and Robin flinch in surprise, but it wasn’t a kraken’s undulation. Henry had just fished a coin out of his pocket and flicked it into the pool. They both stared at him.

“What?” he said innocently. “I thought it might get the thing’s attention.” He shoved his hands deep in his jeans pockets defensively.

“It’s not a wishing well!” Robin hissed.

“Unless,” Woad said, “Your wish was to be dragged to your death and rolled around by lots of squishy suckers.” He smiled happily, standing up and making squishing noises with his cheeks to amuse himself.

“I’ll harvest some of the seaweed,” Karya said, shaking her head at Henry’s idiocy. “I just wish there was a way we could know what’s in there. A cantrip or some charm, but I’m no good with water I’m afraid.”

“There is one way,” Woad said with glee. They turned to question him but, before any of them could stop him, the blue faun had taken a deep breath, and leapt majestically out into the water, his knees drawn up to his chest as he executed a most impressive cannonball.

The splash was deafening in the silent room. It echoed and reverberated around the walls as he disappeared beneath the surface, sending up a great spray of rank dark water.

“Woad!” Robin yelled in alarm, skittering to the edge of the pool. The tiles were so slippery his trainers squeaked, and only Henry grabbing his arm stopping him from plunging into the murky depths too.

“What the bloody hell?” Henry gasped.  Karya whirled from the ladders, eyes wide and a fistful of rank seaweed clutched in her hand.

“Is he insane?” Robin said. “Woad!” He scanned the surface of the blackness, the sloshing water dancing under the panicked strobe of his torch, throwing reflections up onto the curved roof high overhead.

Moments passed, and the surface of the pool quickly calmed itself.

“Where is he?” Karya said, sounding panicked. “Why hasn’t he come up? That stupid, brainless…” She trailed off, her face ashen as the three of them stood frozen.

Henry dropped to one knee and started pulling off one of his shoes.

“What are you doing?” Robin asked.

“I’m going in after him, suicidal little monster, what does it look like?!”

Karya was holding her hand out over the water’s surface, her amber bracelet glittering faintly, a look of furious concentration on her face.

“Heroic, but then we’d just have two of you to worry about,” she said. “Bugger! There’s nothing in there I can use! Not a scrap of wood, not a spot of soil! I could probably make the moss grow thicker but what good would that do?”

The ripples on the lake has almost subsided, and there hadn’t even been a bubble. What was Woad doing down there? Robin shone his torch around the room frantically. “Look for some rope or something we can tie!” he said. “We can lash ourselves together like mountaineers, that way…”

“That way, when the giant slithering death monster that’s probably squeezing the life out of our bloody reckless faun grabs one of us too, it can drag us all to our deaths with its massive scaly arms of doom?!” Henry yammered.

“Kraken don’t have scales,” Karya said, not dragging her eyes from the deathly still surface.

Henry stared at her wide-eyed. “Is that really the relevant point?!”

Robin gripped his mana-stone firmly in his fist. His panicked mind was trying very hard not to picture Woad being crushed to death by a chthonic nightmare. He had some half-formed plan to cast his mana into the water. Maybe a combination of Galestrike and Breezeblock and he could part the waves like a young Moses, at least letting them see what kind of trouble the creature was in. Karya glared at him, startled. “What are you doing?”

“I’ve got to do something!” Robin yelled. “He’s my faun!”

“He’s our faun!” Karya countered. “Scion, you have no idea what’s in there with him, you could make it even angrier. Woad could be…”

There was a sudden splash, which made both Robin and Karya jump and Henry, who was balancing on one leg hopping around trying to pull off his second shoe, fall on his backside.

A small, oily shape had just flopped bonelessly out of the water on the far side of the pool. It rolled a little and unfurled, revealing itself to be a slime-coated faun.

“…absolutely fine,” Karya finished, staring.

Woad sat up. He was covered in black, brackish goo, his hair plastered to his face and his coarse trousers squelching as he sat back. He looked like some horrible new-born monster.

“What…the…hell….!” Henry screamed at him.

Woad wiped his face into even more of a messy smear, his tail swishing back and forth behind him like a wet rope, throwing off spatters of goop.

“What were you thinking?!” Karya was practically shaking. “Of all the numbskull, idiotic stunts to pull, you could have been killed! I’ve seen ships attacked by kraken on the great river of Dis! Have you no common sense whatsoever?!”

Robin, letting his mana-stone drop to his chest, was too relieved to see the small boy unharmed to add to the fury. “What were you doing?” he breathed.

Woad stood, a little wobbly, and the three companions saw he was clutching something to his bare chest. It looked like a small Greek urn.

“Well,” the faun grinned. “Getting the kraken of course.”

They made their way around the water’s edge to his side, their dropped flashlights forgotten. The only illumination came from Woad’s floating light, which still hovered around up in the roof space, like an errant will o’ the wisp.

“Henryboy told us, kraken don’t stop growing,” the faun said, holding out the urn. “Well the room wasn’t full of squishy fish-beast when we came in here, and the pool wasn’t a tentacle-fest either. Turns out there’s all sorts of junk down there at the bottom of the water. That’s where I found it.”

They peered inside the urn, which Woad held out proudly in his sharp-clawed hands.

Deep within, wedged firmly in the bottom of the watery terracotta pot, and looking up at them with baleful, rage-filled eyes, was a slithering tentacled mass about the size of a small hamster.

“The mighty kraken?” Henry mused.

Robin stared at the tiny squid-like beast. It must have been stuck in there, he reasoned. It had grown to fill the pot, and then couldn’t grow anymore. By the light of the floating charm, he could just make out what looked like a very old, weathered collar below its eyes and tiny beak, which might conceivably once have been a powder pink, studded with glass jewels.

“Inky?” Karya whispered in disbelief. “Woad, you mad little psychopath. You’ve captured the mighty kraken of Erlking.”

“That’s…” Robin faltered. The kraken was fixing him with the stare of death with its milky eyes. Its maw opened as it gave a shuddering hiss. It was more of a mewl. He took the pot gingerly from the faun’s slimy arms. “That’s just…bloody adorable,” he finished.

Woad swelled with pride, and then, to a chorus of complaints and horror, he shook himself like a wet dog, drenching his companions in pond slime and sludge.

A reading of Winds

I was recently lucky enough to be interviewed for an article in the illustrious Huffington Post regarding my books and the writing process in general, by the US based author Mandy Jackson-Beverly, (author of the Secret Muse and regular Huffpost contributor and book-blogger.)

It was a fun unterview to do, and if you havent already read it, you can find it on Huffpost here:

Huffington Post

Mandy runs a channel over on Youtube also, talking about, and reading from various books, either as teasers or reviews, and I was recently extremely honoured to have her read an except from book one of my Changeling Series: Isle of Winds.

Please take some time to check out both her blog and her youtube channel, i guarantee you won’t be dissapointed. Both are full of excellent reccomendations, excerpts and observations.

And the link to her reading of my book, if you’re interesting in hearing it, is here:

youtube reading: Isle of Winds, by Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Changeling Book One: Isle of Winds, is available on Amazon. Book Two: Drowned Tomb, is due for release summer 2016.

About the interviewer:

Mandy Jackson-Beverly, born in Australia, moved to London in 1082, where she discovered the importance of the creative collective: the 1980’s fashion scene. In Los Angeles, she found creative freedom among the thriving, no holds barred visionaries of the music video world. As a costume designer and stylist Many worked for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna and Tina Turner, to name a few.

Mandy’s novel ‘A secret Muse’, a darkly delicious tale and first in a triolgy, is now available on Amazon at the following link:

A Secret Muse: Amazon Link

 

 

The Writer Q & A Tag : or basically the worlds biggest blogger chainletter

I was recently nominated by the wonderful Sarah Mitchell-Jackson to do this.

How it works (from what I gather) is that you are asked 10 questions by the previous writer, who was asked 10 questions by the chap or chapette who nomintated them, and so on and so forth ad infinitum, with the ultimate goal of helping people like myself to be extremely nosy and pry into other peoples business by clicking back on endless links like opening a lot of Russian Dolls. (I have just spent a good hour doing this!)

It’s a good way to discover new and interesting blogs, meet shiny people with noble hearts and white teeth, and most interestingly, to peer into the dark and dusty corners of their troubled and creative heads and see what tidbits they have chosen to divulge.

You can read Sarah’s answers to the questions she was nominated to answer here: Running Without Slipping

(and you should, because they are interesting. You can then also check who nomintated her and read their answers, and so on and so on in a waterfall of very interesting and entertaining trivia. 🙂

For my two pennies worth, I am honour-bound to answer Sarah’s questions as follows, so will do my best:

 What is your favourite breakfast?

I never normally eat before about 11, even a bowl of cornflakes makes me retch. i’d much rather have seven gallons of coffee and ten minutes silence while i crawl out of my pit and mutter with nihlistic hatred at the world. But I am however a big fan of BRUNCH! (Yes, it deserves the capital letters.)

After pennicilin, brunch may be the best invention our civilisation has so far achieved. I like Eggs Royale or Welsh Rarebit, with a bloody Mary -(gin, not vodka, and plenty of Tabasco, celery optional, girly serving glass refusing to put the slightest dint in my self-image.)

 What is the shortest Piece you have written?

I’m actually a bugger for over-writing. I can get a bit Henry James when I should be being Hemmingway, and as a result I always find myself having to cut about half of my book away to please the beetle-browed demands of agent and publisher. Historically, the shortest thing i’ve written (outside of poems) would be a short story called Paper Rose, which is a love story between a man and a canvas he buys which is (unknown to him) made of human skin. (the stylised rose on the ‘painting’ he has bought being the tattoo from the shoulder of the woman it’s made from, and who haunts the picture.) it sounds macarbe when I summarise it here, but I actually thought it was a sweet story. It was only around 30 pages long.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I’m an egomaniac and I crave adoration and attention. Or, in my less brutally vapid moments, I also thought it was a good way to connect both with other readers and other writers. I’ve found and made some excellent friends between blogging and tweeting who I may never have run into otherwise. I often wonder what we did before the internet, and then I remember we used to meet in dusty pubs and smoke pipes. we should still do that as well.

What is your desk like? (or if you dont use one, tell me about your writing space)

If I’m nearing a deadline, or feel I REALLY need to get my head down, then I hide myself away in the dining room at the table, as it’s (usually) silent and I’m less likely to be distracted by all the bleeping and flashing electronic things like TV and social media which draw my easily distracted eye, but usually, my writing space is curled up on the sofa, with laptop balanced precariously on my knees (like now) with a Jack Daniels and coke and a goodly supply of treats to hand. (Haribo or Pringles by preference. )

Who, or What, inspires you to write?

Writers I admire inspire me of course, but I dont try to imitate, and i try to avoid reading the sam genre i’m writing in if i’m on a writing binge for fear of their voice bleeding into mine. If i read something i think is particually well written or entertaining, it does motivate me more to switch off Netflix and roll my sleeves up. as for What inspires me, that’s almost like the writers most dreaded question ‘where do you get your ideas from’ which as anyone who writes anything will tell you, the answer is always ‘anywhere’. I do find a great jumping off point for me however is always a visual. Either i’ll get a solid, fully formed image in my head, and build a narrative around it, or else if I need a sounding board, i’m a big fan of Pinterest. You can type in any word at random. and I can scroll for hours finding things that catch my eye, and usually either helping me through a sticky patch in my writing, or giving me sudden and unexpected ideas for new angles.

 If it wasnt for social media, how many other writers would you know?

About six (i think) It helps that I went through University studying literature, so I kind of fell in with the Bo-ho arty writing crowd in college/uni. and i’ve known a few scriveners since then through my work too. But I have met a lot more writers, (and made some firm friends) through Twitter and Bookstagramming they keep me entertained and we dip in and out of each others lives on a daily basis. it’s good to know what others are up to and it’s a nice and supportive community. I love my little book-fam, especially as some of them are fairly far flung around the globe. 🙂

If you didnt write, what would you do instead with the time?

SLEEP. I would definitely sleep a lot more. I was laid up a year ago following an operation which had me housebound for five weeks, (it was kind of like Steven King’s Misery withough the leg-sawing maniac) and I honestly don’t think i’ve ever slept so much. It was wonderful. i usually get by on about 4 and a half or 5 hours sleep, but for that 5 weeks, I could catnap through the whole day. bliss! I can never sleep at night, it takes me forever to drop off, but during the day, I can sleep on demand, deep, gut-rumbling-snoring sleep for 40 seconds at a time if needed.

What do you tell your family about your writing when you are working on it?

VERY little. (which drives them mad) I dont like anyone to know ahead of time what the writing is like, although I do let them read it before anyone else once it’s done, (even my agent) – someone has to spellcheck and grammar me! and yes, i just verbed grammar. I can do that if I want to. It’s my blog.

What is your favourite word?

As with anyone who writes or reads, i’m a huge fan of words. Finding the exact one that fits your meaning is very rewarding. Some of my favourites are’sussurus’ (as in wind through trees) ‘sonambulant’ (the sleepy drone of bees) and Petrichor (describing the fresh, earthy, oxygenated smell you get after rain) but my favourite word is ‘Sonorus’ (intimidatingly loud, such as waves crashing onto a beach, or echoing thunder.) It’s a deep and rolling word and I think it’s perfectly shaped to its meaning.

Right! i nominate these lucky souls to carry the olympic writers trivia torch onwards:

Tahenry Authoress

Nadia King

vick Goodwin

Cathy

Marje

Beverley Lee

Jenna Brownson

Jade (Scatterbooker)

L K Smith

Luke Marlowe

and your questions are as follows:

  1. What book first made you cry, and why?
  2. If you could be any one of your favourite characters (your own or others you’ve read) for one day, who and why?
  3. What is your favourite opening line from a book?
  4. Do you have any odd writing rituals (has to be a yellow legal pad and a HB pencil for example)
  5. Have you drawn on real locations / experiences in your writing?
  6. What story scares you?
  7. If you were told you could only read one book before being executed for your terrible, terrible crimes, what would you choose and why?
  8. Have you ever met any of your literary heros, and if so, were they amazing, dissapointing or just plain awkward?
  9. which word / phraze do you find yourself always over-using and having to edit out
  10. Name three people you would have at your ultimate book-club/dinner party. (living or dead…or undead.

 

 

 

Happy Book Birthday>>>

Not so much a rambling, meandering stream of conciousness today, but I just thought it fitting to announce here the official launch of my new book Hell’s Teeth

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As several people who had pre-ordered messaged me to say, it arrived in the dead of night, silently and ominously invading both kindles and letterboxes like a paperback Nosferatu, pages flapping as diabolically as bat wings…okay, okay, i’ll stop.

*PEAL OF THUNDER!*

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH……ahem.

It’s always an extremely exciting time getting a new book out. Something that has been bouncing around inside my mind has, through a rather laborious process, now toddled off into the wide world on unsteady legs. I still find it very strange that we can show other people the worlds we create in our own minds simply by presenting them on slices of dead tree in the form of numerous squiggles whose meaning we have all jointly agreed upon beforehand.

It’s a kind of alchemy really, and i suppose that’s what people mean when they talk about the magic of books.

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Up until the point it’s published, I always feel the story is mine, and only mine. but then suddenly it isnt. It’s out there, unguarded and uncontrolled by myself, in other peoples minds, and they will have their own ideas about it (whether they love it or hate it) They will picture the characters however they want to, regardless of my own mental images. and so on.

It’s both exhilarating and a little scary as a writer. Almost like watching the snot-nosed child you raised go off to college independantly. It doesnt really need you any more, you did your best, you raised it right, you instilled good moral backbone and ambitions, you made it brush its teeth and eat its greens, and of course you spellchecked it.

Now it fends for itself. (although luckily, as far as i’m aware, unlike college students released books dont come back to their authors once a month with an enormous pile of laundry, or send emails asking for emergency funds. They better not anyway.)

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Someone asked me today if i have any particular ‘launch day’ rituals.

Last time i released a book, I had a very nice bottle of Champagne, and afterwards penned the release date on the cork to keep as a souvenier. (the general idea being that one day i would have many of these corks, and could do something interesting with them. Possibly string them together on a necklace like the severed ears of my enemies. or maybe something else. havent quite decided.)

I’ll probably do the same with this one, but unfortunately, new vampire/zombie/apocalypse book launch or not, it will have to wait as i’m (supposed to be) on a detox for two weeks.

It’s just not the same celebrating with homemade veggie soup and a protein shake really, although, unlike many of the characters in the book, it does make me feel quite virtuous.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the dean of the college just called, and I have to go pick up my book. It’s been expelled for TP’ing the Headmasters faculty lounge.

You can pick up Hell’s Teeth, if you haven’t already (shame upon you) here:

CLICK ME: I BITE!

Hells Teeth

 

The Page is Printed…

I recently had the pleasure of being Q&A’d by the charmingly bearded and inked book reviewer Luke Marlowe following his review of Isle of Winds.

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If you want to see what we nattered about, head over to thepageisprinted.com  and check out their ‘Ask An Author’ section here:

thepageisprinted : ask an author

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You can also read Luke’s review of the first instalment of the Changeling fantasy series here:

Isle of Winds Review – Luke Marlowe

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I’d urge you to check out the site if you haven’t already, for a collection of many other excellent and insightful reviews. (i’ve already pencilled in a few books to my ever growing ‘to-read’ list from their reccomendations.)

click here for thepageisprinted.com

 

The curious process of naming your characters

whats in a name

What’s in a name?

As we are famously told to believe, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Well, maybe so, but still…if roses were called ‘warlrus armpits’, I doubt very much people would be quite so eager to stick their noses in deeply.

And what about sleeping beauty? No prince could ever really fall in love with a princess named ‘Briar Walrus-armpits’.  (Princes, on the whole, are rather shallow)

 scared prince

I could go on, but I won’t because I’m making myself heave.

My point is, names are important, especially in fiction. A review I recently read on Goodreads led me to thinking about fictional names and how on earth they come about. The review was lamenting the tendency in some bad writing (especially in the fantasy and sci-fi  field) to name characters with outlandish and unpronounceable names, usually with too many x’s and z’s.)

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Twisted tongue

Which got me to thinking, how do they come about? The names we give to our imaginary friends? Character names falling from the heavens like manna? Whispered into the writers ear by their own invisible muse?  Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Frodo Baggins. They’re all so iconic you really can’t imagine them now having ever been named anything else. Can you imagine Humphrey Aldershot and the Chamber of Secrets? ….nah.

(makes scribbled note of the name Humphrey Aldershot however, because I like it)

I’m interested, as a writer, where other writers get their character names from? Do they just spring into your heads unbidden and fully formed, creatures of their own right and fully grown like Athena bursting from the body of Zeus. (the original dysfunctional family)  or is it a process of trying on different names like various hats, seeing which one finally fits, rolling the shape of the name around your tongue and trying it out like a literary humbug for flavour?

 birth of athena

I can only speak for myself, but In my case, it’s very rare that I will ever name a character by throwing a dart into a phone-book. I’m not very random. I’m a fan of design and suggestion, and I like the power of names, and whether in my fantasy writing for children (and big children) or in my darker works for adults, I like my names to mean something. (if only to me)

 Just the idea of a name in general is an odd one. As someone on twitter way back when pointed out, (i can’t remember who, or i’d credit them here, but it wasn’t me) asking for someone’s name is quite a strange process. You are basically saying ‘please tell me what noise I should make to get your attention’.

 The Changeling series , due to its loose basis in both Greek and European mythology, is an absolute gold-mine for me when it comes to names. I specifically didn’t want to include ANY of the main pantheon of more well known gods and goddesses. You won’t find a ‘Zeus’ anywhere in the Series, or a ‘Hera’, or an ‘Artemis’, (and there is a good reason for that) But it was tremendous fun to choose the names I went with for various characters, dropping little easter-eggs where possible to hint through their names at what role they may plan in the overall scheme of things.

(I say may, because I’m also a big fan of red herrings and misdirection)

 Phorbas for instance, the satyr tutor. I could have gone with Pan, or any of the more well known goat-man names, but I have my reasons for choosing the lesser known.

 Woad, my blue skinned faun was named as an allusion to the cobalt war paint favoured by some Celtic tribes in days gone by.

 Similarly with my Vampire book series. While not overt, I wanted at least a nod to the uber-daddy of all vampires, Dracula, which is why my heroines name is Harkness, (for Harker) the vampire groupies in New Oxford are referred to as ‘Helsings’) and Dr Harkness’ collegue and friend is Lucy West. (named for Lucy Westenra from Stokers novel)

Her abrasive supervisor, Veronica cloves, is of course a link to  garlic, classic vampire repellent, fitting given her disdain for them.)

 Choosing names is a fun game, and one of my favourite parts of the writing process.

 What I find wonderful sometimes however, about the (frankly odd) pastime of making people up from thin air, is when you dont decide on a character name.

When instead, the character themselves just ‘tells’ you their name, and theres no arguing with it.

 If you write, you’ll know what I mean. We only ever really have tenuous control over our characters at the best of times. Often I’m not 100% sure what precisely they’re going to say until they say it.

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 And some names just announce themselves. There’s no Rhyme or reason for me why Allesandro is called ‘Allesandro’ in the Hell’s Teeth novel. Or why Griff, the lab assistant is called ‘Griff’. They just are, and even if, as the writer whos supposed to be in charge of these things, you decide to change the name, nothing else sticks and you end up doing as you are told and going back to the original. Sometimes your subconscious knows best.

 Personally I find it a relief when this happens, as it saves me the work of having to use reason or logic or all those other things which most writers dislike. I am inherently lazy.

 lazy writer

And on the flip side of the coin, there are those characters which simply refuse to be named. These can be extremely frustrating to me.

 For example, there is a character in the sequel to Changeling: Isle of Winds, who, in various drafts, has been through at least seven different names so far. Each time I think, yes, I like this one, this…fits!

Then I feel completely cold to it on the next read through. It sticks in my throat, or knocks me out of the story when my eyes scan over it on the page.

 To me, this is usually a sign that I don’t know the character well enough yet, or that I myself am not altogether certain of their motives. As a yardstick, I always know I’ve drawn the character to my own satisfaction when the name finally fits them as perfectly (if impractically) as the proverbial glass slipper.

 Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe only I obsess over names this way, but I doubt it.

 Anyway, I’m off now for a nice cup of tea to and to dip into my copy of Humphrey Aldershot and the Goblet of Fire

Pre-order your Vamps for Fangy-Freshness

It’s been a little while since I prattled on here, but just a quick soundbite to announce the good news that Hell’s Teeth, Book One of the Phoebe Harkness Series, is now available to pre-order on Amazon:

Preorder here. (clickety-click)

Hells Teeth

I’m very excited by this, not only because it’s the first in my Oxford-based paranormal mystery series, which is so very different in tone and voice than my other series, the Fantasy Changeling books, but ALSO, because, if you decide pre-ordering sounds like a good idea, you can take advantage of the pre-order price, which is a whopping 99p /99c (depending where in the world you are reading this from)

To put that in perspective for a moment:

99p in today’s post-budget Britain will get you either:

  1. A Bus ticket to get you from somewhere soggy and grey to…somewhere else soggy and grey – OR – a damnably entertaining paranormal novel filled with vampires!
  2. A sub-par birthday card from a late night petrol station. (the kind of card that wont stand up) – OR- a violently macabre urban gothic adventure novel!!
  3. Almost (but not quite) two bags of semi-stale hula-hoops from the office vending machine – OR a grizly novel trawling through the dystopian and dark underbelly of Neo-oxford society!!!
  4. A soggy and lonesome cheezeburger from the 4am motorway drive through which tastes of…nilishm and…mold – OR- a kickass action-packed tale of vampire doomsday cults, genetically degenerate zombie-ghouls and exploding rats!!!

The choice is clear (inserts glow in the dark fake fangs)

Hope to see you in New-Oxford soon then! and for those of you who follow me on various other social media platforms, (you weirdo stalkers)  I’m also celebrating the release by giving away a signed paperback copy once it’s out in the world. (signed in pen- not blood i’m afraid – curse you health-and-safety.)

Details of the Giveaway will be up on my Goodreads page once the release date is here, (30th March) until then, if you can’t wait to sink your teeth into Phoebe and her undead adventures, i’ll see you on the pre-order side of the street.

(unless of course  you really really really want that soggy cheeseburger of course. In which case, there’s no hope.)

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Hell is coming to Oxford

(Cue giddy fanfare with various shrill trumpets)

Yay! Have had confirmation that Hell’s Teeth, my new Urban Gothic novel and book one in the ‘Phoebe Harkness’ series, is being tied up in a blood-stained bow as we speak, and should be going to presses ASAP.

hells teeth billboard

We are looking at a release date around Easter, (more solid confirmation as soon as I have it) but the book itself should be available to pre-order online through Amazon around the end of next week.

So if you are a lover of near-future dystopia, vampires, post-apocalyptic plagues, feisty heroines and the beautiful and stunning city of Oxford, come and join Phoebe  in her one woman battle against a nebulous serial killer.

Tell your friends…tell your enemies…perhaps don’t tell your therapist though. (they always read too deeply into these things)

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