Small Places is out!

It’s been a long trip, but we’re finally here, and I’m delighted to share the book with you. We’re on day three of the book tour with the wonderful Justine and Timy of Storytellers on Tour, and I’m incredibly grateful for all of the time you’ve all spent reading, reviewing and (hopefully!) enjoying Small Places.

If you’re new to the book, here’s the blurb – Small Places joins Jamie, a boy living in a country village, as he runs an errand for a friend of the family to collect medicine from a witch, Melusine, who lives in a hidden forest in the countryside.

Thirteen years later, strange earthquakes and storms are wracking Britain, Jamie’s parents have separated and his mother is suffering from cancer. He returns home to look after her, but receives a mysterious summons from Melusine. Figuring that if she needs him, she may be willing to help his mother, he meets with the witch, learning that the freak weather is being caused by something affecting the earth spirit, Gaia. Mel needs his help to find the source of the problems – and this means travelling to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, hunting down clues, whilst simultaneously putting up with the irritable witch and dealing with his mum’s terminal illness.

As ever, you can see the content and trigger warnings on my site – please do consult them prior to reading, or get in touch if you have further questions.

If you’d like a review copy, please do get in touch – both the kindle and print copies are ready to be ordered, and if you’re already reading it, enjoy! 

One month until Small Places is out!

It’s only one month until Small Places is out! It seems bizarre that I started writing it in late October of 2019, almost two years ago. I wanted to spend some time talking about some of the origins of Small Places. I think I’ve mentioned before that I was on holiday in the New Forest, reading Nevernight, and wanted to write something woodland-themed. I’m very interested in shamanic practitioning, and the human connection to nature, in all its beauty and savagery, so wanted to bring a little of that to the book as well.

I’ve always enjoyed walking in the woodland, and forests have always felt like magical places to me. The stained-glass window that Jamie and Mel see is very real, and very impressive – if you’re ever near the Forest of Dean, it’s well worth a trip!

After Parasites, I felt the need to try and plan something a bit “cleverer” – I really like the Lyran adventure, but it definitely feels a little open-ended sometimes. I wanted to do something more contained, with a tighter narrative arc. As any readers of Parasites will know, I’m a big fan of multiple universes and secret places, and taking this to a fantasy setting was something I’d already considered for another (on indefinite hiatus) novel, but in a slightly different way.

I’ve also always been a fan of the ‘appearances can be deceiving’ trope, so a lot of the horrifying creatures in Small Places are not quite what they seem, and vice versa. Similarly, ever since reading the wonderful Perdido Street Station (and The Scar, which I confess to liking a little more), playing Dishonored and Terraria, I’ve been keen to include aspects of steampunk, which I hope you’ll enjoy. There are undoubtedly influences from visiting the Natural History Museum in London – and the underground route to it from South Kensington Station – as well as various underground vaults in London, including Waterloo’s Vaults on Leake St and the now defunct-Shunt club in London Bridge.

Looking back at my notes from 2019, I still can’t quite figure out where Mel came from. As a child, I grew up with the Chronicles of Narnia, and my brain tells me that the closest analogue is a well-meaning witch in a BBC series called Simon and the Witch, both of which are a long way from Mel’s personality! She’s my wife’s favourite character in the book and potentially mine as well, and I’d be very interested in telling more of her story someday. 

Any book is a huge combination of inspirations and prompts, but I do hope that if you’ve got an advance copy, you’re enjoying the book – and if you read it next month, that you also enjoy it! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please get in touch with any questions.

Small Places is coming!

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that Small Places, my new urban fantasy novel, is available for pre-order, ahead of its launch on Amazon on August 3rd. Small Places joins Jamie, a boy living in a country village, as he runs an errand for a friend of the family to collect medicine from a witch, Melusine, who lives in a hidden forest in the countryside.

Thirteen years later, strange earthquakes and storms are wracking Britain, Jamie’s parents have separated and his mother is suffering from cancer. He returns home to look after her, but receives a mysterious summons from Melusine. Figuring that if she needs him, she may be willing to help his mother, he meets with the witch, learning that the freak weather is being caused by something affecting the earth spirit, Gaia. Mel needs his help to find the source of the problems – and this means travelling to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, hunting down clues, whilst simultaneously putting up with the irritable witch and dealing with his mum’s terminal illness.

It’s been an instructional (read: slightly painful) process, but I’m thrilled that it’s finally here. Looking back at the process, I finished the first draft on New Year’s Eve of 2019, and ran through preliminary edits by March … and then the pandemic happened and things *really* slowed down. Beta readers enjoyed it, but I did a relatively major re-write after my chief editor (and long-suffering partner) suggested a tweak that affected the entire book. Nonetheless, it’s a better book because of it, and thanks to the changes, we (most significantly) get to meet Jamie’s mum, which also affected a hundred and one other things throughout the book – including the ending!

As ever, you can see the content and trigger warnings on my site – please do consult them prior to reading, or get in touch if you have further questions.

If you’d like a review copy, please do get in touch – the kindle versions are ready for pre-order, and the paperbacks will be ready soon; I had a proof through today and they just need a little tweak. There’ll be a blog tour running with Storytellers on Tour from the 1st August, and merch, goodies and other bits and pieces are also in the works – so stay tuned!

Editing is not my strong suit…

When I was a kid, I read Maggie Prince’s Memoirs of a Dangerous Alien three times straight because I couldn’t bear to leave the world it was set in. Later, I found my sister’s hardback copy of The Time Traveller’s Wife, read it and immediately set out to find a signed paperback copy and read it all again, in all its sharp, painful beauty.

Unfortunately, it turns out that reading your own book – in the name of editing, of course – four times in a row is a sure-fire way to fall out of love with it. And maybe I’ve pushed it too hard.

I was supposed to go away with some friends at the weekend, but after a long, hard week, decided that I needed some self-care. And again, of course, that’s exactly what I didn’t do, finishing a third edit of Small Places and immediately starting on a fourth, only pausing on Sunday afternoon once I’d made the hundred and fifty-eighth change.

(In fairness, there are just over 72,000 words. Messing around with a couple of hundred each time isn’t awful)

But it did occur to me as I switched my brain off to enjoy a Fast and Furious film (guilty pleasure) that it probably isn’t the nicest thing to do to myself. So I’m slowing down a little. I’ve made a list of possible agents to query, but maybe I’ll do another edit first. Perhaps it’s best to wait until I’ve stopped dreaming of line edits and woken up thinking that there’s a massive plot hole somewhere in it.

I’m fairly sure there isn’t a massive plot hole in it.

Who knows – if all the agents say no, then it’s full speed ahead with self-publishing and you could be reading this by summertime.

I think my brain needs to recharge. And I know book blogging is hard for you guys, so please, look after yourselves as well.

I will if you will?

Who are the most immersive authors?

I wanted to do another ‘favourite books’ post because I’ve definitely neglected a few friends and had a couple of thoughts on how to make amends. It goes without saying that in the ‘favourite books’ section, most of these books suck you right in from the get-go, but there are also definitely a lot of noteworthy authors that seem to particularly have a skill for immersion! So, who would I recommend as a particularly immersive author? Here’s a few starters:

  • Laini Taylor: I absolutely love Taylor’s work. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of those books that I read on kindle and went straight out to buy in hardback so I could read it again (and managed to get a lush autographed copy as well!). But Night of Cake and Puppets, and Strange the Dreamer also manage this incredibly well. She’s a world-creator with mad skills!
  • Brandon Sanderson: I’d argue that Sanderson is fantasy royalty at the moment. There was a day when Final Empire sat alone on the shelves, but Sanderson now commands multiple shelves! I’m a huge fan of the first two / four books of the Stormlight Archive, as well as Elantris, Final Empire and the Rithmatist. Sanderson’s worlds – however fantastic – are always believable.
  • Charles De Lint: Urban fantasy is a tough gig. A modern world with magic, fairies and bikers? I came to De Lint’s work through Spiritwalk abnd Moonheart, and haven’t looked back since. His characters are complex, generally very loveable and his worlds completely compelling.

Who would you add?