THE 7 BEST GAMES FOR 2 PLAYERS EVER MADE: OMEGA EDITION

For years I’ve harboured ambitions of becoming one of those old men in the park, playing chess on a stone table, or maybe draughts, or sitting beside the log fire in a pub, playing backgammon. I find human existence and the constant encroaching sensation of riding the knife edge of history through space as entropy sucks the life out of everything I love and care about rather exhausting, and playing boardgames reduces the fidelity of existence down to something blocky and manageable. There’s nothing more comforting in this way, except maybe a nice spot of crack, nothing more indicative of games’ ability to offer company without intimacy and gentle, meditative pleasure, than the two-player game.

So wup-wup motherfuckers. Here is the definitive list of The 7 Best 2-Player Games. Notice I didn’t write ‘my definitive list’. This is the list. You’re free to disagree, but you will be wrong. So wrong that the gods themselves will move against you, to show you your hubris and correct the error of your thinking. I’ve restricted myself to games that only seat two, rather than strong multiplayer games that work with two players. Those games of course exist, but this ain’t that list.

Seriously, if you like the focused, fiendish, uniquely pure yet utterly non-erotic form of communion that is two-player games, I have the good shit. Long-form, short-form, light, crunchy. Something to suit all tastes and experience levels. Fill your gaming boots. Then put them on. Ugh! They’re full of games!

1. AGRICOLA: ALL CREATURES BIG & SMALL BIG BOX

Rather than tease my all-time favourite let’s just drop trou and get comfortable round one another. Agricola: All Creatures Big & Small (or Baby Agric as we call it) is a simplified 2-player version of legendary designer Uwe Rosenberg’s quaint, occasionally brutal arable farming simulator Agricola. In All Creatures Big & Small you play farmers, laying down fences across your empty land to form little pastures, going to market to buy cows and pigs and horses and sheep, and then once a season watching those animals mash their genitals together and squirt out miniature replicas of one another. It’s so cosy and cute.

You also get to collect wood and stone and reeds which you can use to construct barns and feeding troughs or even renovate your little cottage into something plush that will make you the envy of farmers for acres around. Each turn you’ve got three little wooden discs representing your workers, you take it in turns to place them on the spaces representing the things you want to do, and at the end of 8 turns you count up how many animals you have and points for special buildings and whoever has the most is the winner.

And that’s it. There are no baffling layers of conditional rules or multiple phases with different mechanics. You place your worker, you do the thing written on the space. It’s deceptively easy.

Because here’s the thing. Animals convert directly to points, and as soon as you’ve got two of any one type, they start multiplying. And if you get over a certain number of any type of animal, you start getting bonus points on top of what you’re already earning. So you want to grab animals as soon as possible, so they can have turn after turn of making whoopee and scoring you points. But, unless you’ve got fences or barns to house those animals, the moment they hit your farm they just run away, like naughty schoolchildren made of meat. But before you can build fences and barns you’ve got to have wood and stone and maybe reeds to thatch the roof.

But then! Wheels within wheels! Each turn, if the goodies on a space aren’t claimed, like, say nobody heads to the quarry and takes the two stone just sitting there, aching to be hewn into the next chunk of your farming empire, well, next turn two more stone get added to the pile. Now there’s four stone, beckoning provocatively to whoever wants it. So, if you just hold back, you can get double or even triple the reward for the same action. Suddenly the market space isn’t just offering a cow, but a cow and 3 sheep.

But of course your opponent – ah, how could you forget about them – knows this too, and they want all those juicy resources for their own burgeoning agribusiness. So maybe you should just nick in early and grab it while it’s still there? How early can you swipe those pigs and still able to house them come piglet season? If you head out to the woods to grab some lumber can you be sure your opponent isn’t going to take that spot you want to use for buying new land to expand your farm?

But it’s complicated like gravity is complicated. Which is to say there are a million tiny calculations that go into it, but mostly you don’t notice any of that. It just grabs you and doesn’t let go. Each game you get a grand total of 24 moves. That’s 24 choices – do I want this, or do I want this? You place your worker, you get a reward. And slowly, slowly, you construct your own little rural paradise, so by the end of those 8 rounds – and there’s no reason why the game should take more than half an hour – you’ve made something. Something covered in cute little wooden sheep. It’s lovely.

I’ve played this game with hardcore gamers and with people like my wife, who pretty much hates games, and it’s gone down well every time. It’s simple enough that anyone over the age of 10 can pick it up, but since there are no dice or cards to draw your fate and the fate of your farm are completely in your hands, which makes it really satisfying for experienced players.

Now, the base game comes with 4 special buildings that give you bonuses if you build them, and it’s fun and simple, but. Once you’ve played it a bunch of times, it does become a bit familiar. Which is where the two expansions come in. More Buildings Big & Small and Even More Buildings Big & Small add a further 27 buildings EACH to the base game. It suggests that you pick out 4 from each at random, so if you’re playing with both sets you’ll end up with a unique tableau of 12 special buildings to choose from each time you play. And they’re so cool and well-designed – there’s an Insemination Station that lets you breed animals you’ve only got one of. There’s a lovely Duck Pond that doesn’t do anything but gives you a bunch of reeds. Some buildings give you points but then give you restrictions on how you build after that, for example preventing you from buying new land or requiring that all future buildings are built adjacent to previous ones. They’re just so cool and it means the start of each game is a lovely little sushi conveyor belt of oohs and ahhs as the tiles are dealt, and then you’re rewarded for pursuing different strategies than you might have done with a different set of buildings, so the game feels fresh and interesting.

And the art’s great and if you don’t like games where you have to stab each other in the back then it’s really gentle but also you’re constantly getting in each other’s ways so if you’re really passive-aggressive you’ll love it too. Every time I’ve played the scores have been really tight. It’s a game that rewards strategy and efficiency but crucially it’s not one that punishes mistakes. Every turn there’s something you can do, a space you can go to that will earn you something, build you a wall or plop a horse in your garden.

And the reason I’m so excited is that Z-Man games have just rereleased this amazing, criminally-underplayed game as a Big Box containing both expansions in it. I looked and at the time of writing it’s available in the UK for the frankly incomprehensible price of £23. It’s easily worth twice that, a price tag which would still put it below the average quality boardgame and well below the eye-watering £65-plus you’re likely to pay for its – admittedly wonderful – multiplayer big sibling Caverna.

Just writing about this is making me pine to play it again. I love it.

2. SANTORINI

Santorini is a beautiful three-dimensional Draughts-esque experience where you take the roles of gods and heroes from the Classical Greek pantheon, staging a contest of wits and, uh, civic planning on the beautiful Mediterranean caldera town of Santorini.

Players move pairs of little builders round the squares of the board, each turn constructing a new layer of house in one of the squares adjacent to your own. The first player to climb one of their builders all the way up to the top of a house three storeys high wins. That’s it.

Except it’s not. Your builders can only climb one level at a time and only build after they’ve moved which means you have to construct a staircase for yourself and stop your opponent from hopping onto it before you can reach the top. And if you see one of those prized three storey buildings ready for them to scramble onto the summit of next turn like a chiselled Grecian King Kong, you can build one of Santorini’s famous blue domes, capping the tower and stopping either of you using it for victory. So the game becomes like this epic tennis rally where you’re trying to make these shots then your opponent is forced to defend then you make another and they have to move to defend that, little by little forcing them wider and wider until you find your opening and smash, settle the point. Only of course you might be so focused on victory that you make a mistake and whoops, they’ve lobbed you and now you’re running to return their shots. It’s wonderfully simple.

Except it’s not. That’s even not the half of it. That’s just the square of cardboard on which this epic divine dance-off takes place. At the beginning of each game both of you are going to get dealt two cards and pick which god you want to be. And every god has their own special power which breaks the game. So suddenly you might be able to build twice, or directly underneath your builder (meaning you only have to step up to the second storey to win because you can immediately boost yourself one level), or maybe you’ve got three builders or all your builders are invisible and you track their movement on a secret board behind a screen. Maybe your builders kill your opponent’s builders if you touch them. Maybe you’ve got a whole extra win condition, like building a certain number of domes or having your two builders meet in the centre of the board.

Sounds swingy and silly but it plays like this fiendishly tactical, balanced puzzle, with plenty of back-and-forth but absolutely no meanness at all. Every move you make feels like a question posed, a challenge inviting your opponent to show off their skill. It’s less a screwdriver fight in a carpark and more a dance. The gods cards make every game feel different, even though you’ll often get to the end of a game and immediately want to try the same combination again, or switch gods to get a sense of the other one’s power.

Very easy to pick up, brimming with theme, quick to play, and full of depth for hardcore gamers. What a game.

3. COCONUTS DUO

None of the ancient arhats and bodhisattvas, in all their sublime wisdom, could have foreseen that the migration of Buddhism from India to China would one day result in a surreal two-player dexterity game where you play monkeys flinging coconuts into cups to become king of the mountain. But I bet they would have been really into this. It’s irresistible!

Yet resist it I did for some time, concluding that it looked too silly for a serious thinky chessmaster deep strategy grown-up gamer like me. But it’s SO FUN, you guys.

Both of you get toy monkeys with springloaded hands, into which you place tiny rubber coconuts that you’re taking it in turns to try to catapult into cups in the middle of the table. If you manage to land a coconut in one of the cups – MUCH harder than it looks – you get to take it and add it to your stack. Be the first to stack six cups, and you win.

This would be delightful enough – and really, you have to take my word for it, shooting little bouncy coconuts via monkey catapults is as fun exactly as it sounds – but of course there are twists. Some of the cups are red, and if you land your coconut in one of them, you get to go again. But wait. Cups in your opponent’s stack are still play, so if you can steal them. And then you get some one-shot power cards which you can play at any time, which do stuff like allowing you to blow to try to send your opponent’s shot off course, or they have to take their shot with their eyes closed, or you can place the card over one of your cups to defend it against your opponent’s coconuts going in.

It’s REALLY cool. Now yes, there is a version called COCONUTS which plays up to four, and indeed if you combine the two you’ve got yourself a sweet little 6 player party game. But I love the purity of this two-player version so much. It plays quick, it takes no time at all to explain the minimal rules, and it’s actual fun and satisfying and you feel like you have some genuine control. It’s not just a novelty but it has all the delight of your favourite toy. Suitable for anyone old enough to not attempt to swallow the delicious-looking Malteser-sized coconuts. (which excludes my wife)

4. PIXEL TACTICS

On the other end of the spectrum, this is a 2-player vs card game for folks who know their way around timing windows and parsing card text. It’s crunchy, complex and gorgeously laid out with pixel art that evokes your favourite 16 and 8-bit games.

In the standard game, both players receive an identical deck of 25 cards. Each card has a different hero on it, and when turned upside-down, has an equivalent ‘leader’. You draw 5, pick your leader from one of them, who will have special powers such as an action they can take, or something that affects everyone on your team. So they might be able to cast a spell that damages your opponent’s heroes, or draws cards for you, or their presence might simply make all your heroes tougher. Who you pick and who you face will massively influence your strategy. The winner is the first person to knock out the other leader.

For the rest of the game, you’ll be recruiting heroes into one of eight slots forming a grid around your leader, and the game progresses in waves with your front, middle and rear heroes attacking or healing or moving as their wave comes around. And the secret sauce that turns this game from a dry roadside burger into a moist, zingy party in a bap is the way in which each hero’s powers change depending on where you place them in that grid.

So some heroes, when you put them up front, block ranged shots so your opponent can’t shoot the heroes behind. But that same hero, when you put them at the back, might have a power that just lets you bump off an enemy hero who’s got a bit of damage on them. But wait! If you put them in the flank suddenly they make the hero in front of them stronger and your hero takes 1 less damage from attacks. What? Oh no. Where do you put them? All of those are great.

But that’s not even it, because on top of that you can just play them as a one-shot power. This super-powerful move that maybe lets you clear away all the corpses clogging up your grid or deals a great tsunami of damage to the other side or… maybe it’s not a one-shot power at all, maybe it’s a trap that you leave at the back of your grid and when your opponent does the thing that triggers it, it goes off and does something nasty to them instead. Or maybe instead it’s an ongoing effect that stays in play for several rounds, giving your whole team immunity to something or special healing or extra powers.

But then if you use a hero for their one-off power, they’re gone. You don’t get to recruit them and have them soak up and dish out damage. So the whole game becomes about building and managing this kind of hero ecosystem where you’re pulling people out your deck and finding them a slot in your team and looking for ways to make their powers link up, so like one hero absorbs all the damage from the rest of your team, then another one heals her, or maybe you stick this hero right in front of your leader who does 3 damage whenever anyone attacks him, or whatever. With 5 different powers on each card there are a mind-boggling number of combinations you can have.

And you don’t have to buy this huge cardpool, you just pick up one of about 9 different sets, and each one’s got it’s own feel, and you just sit down, break them out and play.

Now look, if you want to get really hardcore the game has rules for drafting cards, where you build your own decks – special tournament rules even where you have special buildings that give you bonuses, even league rules where you start off with weaker cards and you can slowly buy better ones over a season. I’ve not tried playing with asymmetric decks. I know some of the cards are quite powerful, and a central mitigating factor that stops it from feeling unfair is knowing you have the same identical deck, so if they just pulled that shit on you, sooner or later you can do the same damn thing, and I’m guessing some deck combinations would be absolutely devastating. I have no doubt crazy recursive loops are possible that might make a game last hours.

But those are just the depths you could swim out into if you wanted. You don’t need any of that to have an absolute blast. And for all the ‘I hit you for X damage’ aggressiveness you’d expect it to have, it actually plays at quite a sedate, chilled-out pace. Did I mention the card art is beautiful? It really is. There are even 3 Megaman-themed decks, though I found the theme came through less well with these. It’s quite hard to figure out how ‘Bubble Man’ transposes onto card mechanics. Still, they’re nice, and more moderately-powered than the original Pixel Tactics decks, which produces a slightly less wild, more balanced play experience.

If you like your games intense and textured and retro games are your jam, Pixel Tactics hits a sweet spot without requiring you buy and memorise a card pool 1000+ big (believe me, I’ve been there) and seek out others who have done the same. One box has all you need.

5. TWILIGHT STRUGGLE

A uncontroversial choice, for sure, because it’s ace. This mostly po-faced simulation of the Cold War sees you playing as the US and USSR, battling via various proxy wars to control the globe. You’re going to do that by drawing a hand of cards each round, and either triggering the special event on each one, related to some historical incident, or discarding it to gain the number of ‘opps’ points in the corner, which can then be used to spread your influence into new territories, or trigger coups.

And the cards you play won’t necessarily be beneficial to you. They’re split into blue (US) and red (USSR) and although you can junk 1 card to fuel your efforts in the Space Race, at some stage you’re going to have to play cards that help the other side out. The question is when to do it to give them the least advantage.

Fraught, agonising dilemmas are pretty much the game’s meat and potatoes. You’re constantly weighing up your options, anticipating horrible opposition events and trying to get the upper hand while responding to the other side’s advances. Scoring gets done region by region, via special scoring cards. Being in control of an area when the card gets played is half the strategy of the game, so you’re constantly watching to see if your opponent suddenly throws all their resources into Asia, because then you can be pretty sure they’re winding up to play the scoring card for that region.

But gaining the most points isn’t the only way you can win. Or rather, having the fewest isn’t the only way you can lose. The Cold War is much higher stakes than that.

Every time a coup breaks out, or some major event sparks off global unrest, the DEFCON level is going to drop. If it hits 1, both sides launch their nukes and you trigger Armageddon. But the higher the DEFCON level is, the laxer global security and the easier it is for your opponent to breeze into a region and kick off a coup. So both of you want to kick off coups that destabilise a region so much that DEFCON drops, the region comes under military control and your opponent can’t coup it back. Which creates this horrible logic where the world is safest teetering at DEFCON 2, both sides terrified of triggering the event that sparks nuclear war. In Twilight Struggle, if you’re the one who kicks off mutually-assured destruction, you lose, though it must be said the victory for the other side is rather pyrrhic.

This game is rich in theme – you really learn a great deal about the conflict and the time. And it’s wonderfully asymmetric – both sides have regions they’re strongest in, the USSR are stronger early game, the US gain strength later on. The point marker goes back and forth and if you push it far enough, that’s an instant win – so the USSR are definitely pushing for a win before the game reaches the Late War phase. They can win by taking Europe, which is very hard but I’ve managed to be on the receiving end of!

I just like this game a lot. It’s not for everyone, takes a while to play and can be a bit intense, and new players will almost certainly get steamrollered. But it’s also rewarding, educational and immersive. Occasionally the dice can go against you – cards like Quagmire and Beartrap can potentially rob you of several turns, and the only way you get out of them is by rolling the right number. That doesn’t feel very strategic and I think both sides feel a bit robbed when one of those cards knocks the opponent out. Similarly, coups can go badly if you roll badly. These are relatively small niggles but it’s worth managing expectations beforehand. Strategy plays a big part, but this is war, and sometimes bad luck stymies your best plans.

I really like this game, and writing about it has made me want to play again. You tell a great story, and there’s something epic and terrifying about the history you’re reliving.

6. JAIPUR

In this card came you play rival merchants competing to win the favour of the Sultan by trading leather, spices, silk, silver, gold and rubies. You take it in turns to pick cards from a central row, or sell sets of goods to earn money. When the deck empties or three of the six goods have all been sold, the round is over. Whoever made the most money, wins the round. First to two wins, wins the game.

Jaipur is a simple set-collection game with mechanics that will feel familiar to anyone who’s played Rummy, or Rummikub. The main differences are how intensely aware, after a couple of games, you are of your opponent’s choices – if they take a ruby, you’re like, oh god, they’re going for rubies. I’d better sell mine before there’s none left. Because that’s the other thing: the money you get for goods decreases as more get sold and the market floods. BUT you get bonus cash if you sell goods in a big set, say four, five or six in one go. So there’s this constant tension between selling early to grab the best prices, or holding back and gambling that you’ll be able to get a set bonus as well.

As well as your main hand, you also have – I want to say a fleet of – camels, which are valueless on their own but which you can swap out for any goods on display in the market. Jaipur has this lovely, beguiling rhythm that’s hard to explain, and the camels are part of it. They’re like your raw buying power, allowing you to ferry huge caravans of silks and leather across the burning sands. New camels turn up in the central row, you can take as many as you like instead of buying or selling things, and they don’t count towards your maximum hand size. They allow you to do these big loot grabs, and because you swap them for whatever goods you take, your opponent is left with nothing to take except camels. But now of course they’ve got the mighty caravan, and your hand is full so you have to sell some goods to make room, and in the meantime they get the pick of the market.

Whenever you take camels from the market, new things are going to flood in from the deck to fill the gaps and your opponent is going to have a bunch of new goodies to choose from on their turn. Everything you do has a big affect on the tides of the market economy, and you start to develop this intuitive sense of when to buy, when to sell, and how to manage your stock so you can build up to these big powerhouse turns.

There are of course plenty of two-player card games with central rows you can buy new cards from: Star Realms, things like Dominion and Ascension. But I think Jaipur’s theme is less daunting to a lot of casual players than big spaceships and orbital colonies or psychic monks and demons. And a few plays in it reveals a surprising sophistication – there’s a nice back-and-forth but enough uncertainty that no one is going to be sitting there for hours with an abacus figuring out their optimal next move.

It plays quick, too! Three rounds in half an hour, easy. Small box, takes up very little space while playing – I’ve had games in coffee shops, airports. Works as a travel game but feels satisfying.

7. HIVE

You may have seen this around – it’s sold in a lot of bookshops and has found a reasonably wide audience. I was leery to begin with but having played it, I get the appeal. The game’s all about laying and moving these satisfyingly-chunky hexagonal tiles with different insects on. The first player to surround their opponent’s queen bee on all six sides wins.

Like in chess, your different pieces have different rules governing their movement: spiders move exactly three spaces, grasshoppers can hop over other pieces, ants move round the outside of the hive you’ve built, and beetles can crawl on top of other pieces, pinning them in place. Expansions introduce the mosquito, which can copy an adjacent insect’s movement rules, ladybirds and pillbugs.

Hive is a simple, satisfying game. The rules aren’t too complicated but there’s enough in there to reward repeat plays. It plays quick – maybe 10-15 minutes a game unless you’re going full grandmaster chin-scratchy bigthink. You rapidly figure out tactical mistakes – letting your queen get trapped by a beetle, or between the hive and an isolated insect – and watch for your opponent’s slipping up in a similar way.

We took this to a festival this summer and had a great time playing out on a picnic table in the sunshine. If that makes you think I’m terribly boring, you’re probably right. I’m boring and happy.

BONUS – KUNE & LAKIA: A TALE OF LUPINE DIVORCE FORETOLD

So this one is, admittedly, a bit of a wildcard choice. But it’s got one of the weirdest, most original themes of any game I’ve ever played. And when I played it, we laughed so much.

The two of you play Prince Kune and Lakia, his bride, both anthropomorphised rabbits who, after a spell of marital bliss, fell to arguing and ultimately have decided to split. You’re now in the process of divorcing, and the aim of the game is to turn your mutual friends and family against one another while getting the bulk of your shared possessions as you divide them up.

I’m not convinced this game offers deep tactical play, and on the other hand it’s not a simple, intuitive system either. It’s a lot of pulling the right cards, dropping gotchas on your opponent, and this inherently mean push-pull gameplay. But the weird thing is, because of the theme, it feels a lot less mean than games I’ve played where you’re mostly minding your own business but then every now and then you can drop in to mess your opponent up. Here, you’re in character as two furious royal rabbits, so it’s funny when you’re Prince Kune, and you go to the King, your soon-to-be-ex-father-in-law, and start turning him against his own daughter. Or when you’re Lakia and you go to Kune’s childhood friend to get him onside. It’s funny when you contrive to get the dog in the divorce. And the royal and rabbit themes stop it from ever feeling too heavy, too redolent of an actual messy breakup.

Without even thinking about it we found ourselves roleplaying as our characters, explaining what manipulative nonsense we were telling the village witch as we went to visit her, the flattery, the spin. Were we offering promotion in the royal court? Presenting ourselves as naïve victims? Sewing the first seeds of seduction?

It’s really good fun, you guys. It’s dumb and niche for sure, but it’s not quite like anything else out there, so if you want to surprise a gamer friend of yours and have a real laugh, I thoroughly recommend it.

Enjoyed this? You could always say thanks by shouting me a coffee! www.ko-fi.com/timclare

Or if you’re feeling particularly saucy you could pre-order my forthcoming novel, THE ICE HOUSE: https://wordery.com/the-ice-house-tim-clare-9781786894816

THE HONOURS WEEK – 4. There & Back Again

Buy THE HONOURS: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

Pre-order THE ICE HOUSE: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

This week the podcast is dedicated to exploring my first novel, THE HONOURS. Today’s episode is an unscripted chat about writing the sequel, THE ICE HOUSE. Where it came from, things I love, what matters to me as a writer. That kind of business. Also, a final impassioned – and entirely self-serving – stump speech for you to join me on the Road to 1500.

My hope for this week, aside from entertaining and informing you, is that you find yourself enthusiastic to support my work through buying THE HONOURS for yourself and friends, and also preordering the forthcoming sequel, THE ICE HOUSE. If you think helping me in this way would bring you some happiness, then kindly click one of the links below, and please do let me know once you’ve done so, so I can thank you.

THE HONOURS PURCHASE LINKS

Why not buy THE HONOURS via Mr B’s Emporium? A brilliant independent bookshop who do worldwide shipping and are really great. They do a gift-wrap option so you can support me, an indie bookstore AND a friend who gets an ace present: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

THE HONOURS via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-honours-tim-cla…82114765#oid=1908_1

THE HONOURS via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clare/dp/1782114769

THE HONOURS Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clar…ok/dp/B00O45B8JE

THE HONOURS Audiobook: www.amazon.co.uk/The-Honours/dp/B00TSQKG1K

THE ICE HOUSE PRE-ORDER LINKS

The wonderful Mr B’s Emporium have a pre-order link for THE ICE HOUSE. They deliver worldwide, and I’ll make sure I pop in round publication time and sign any stock they’ve got, so any pre-orders via this link will – unless I have some terrible accident – by signed by me. If they get 100 pre-orders before launch, I’ll make a little bit of exclusive extra content and throw that in with the books too: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

THE ICE HOUSE via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-ice-house-tim-clare-9781786894816

THE ICE HOUSE via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Clare/dp/1786894815

THE ICE HOUSE Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Cl…ok/dp/B07K33598R

Here’s the blurb for THE HONOURS.

1935. NORFOLK.

Its newest resident, Miss Delphine Venner, is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father.

As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods . . .

The Honours is a dark, glittering and dangerously unputdownable novel which invites you to enter a thrilling and fantastical world unlike any other.

THE HONOURS WEEK – 3. Research

Buy THE HONOURS: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

Pre-order THE ICE HOUSE: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

This week the podcast is dedicated to exploring my first novel, THE HONOURS. Today’s episode dives into the research I did so I could write about 1930s England and the gun-obsessed protagonist, Delphine. I talk as honestly as I can about how I used research as a displacement activity, to avoid the scary work of actually starting the novel. And how my own life ended up providing the key piece of inspiration, when I finally remembered to look up.

My hope for this week, aside from entertaining and informing you, is that you find yourself enthusiastic to support my work through buying THE HONOURS for yourself and friends, and also preordering the forthcoming sequel, THE ICE HOUSE. If you think helping me in this way would bring you some happiness, then kindly click one of the links below, and please do let me know once you’ve done so, so I can thank you.

THE HONOURS PURCHASE LINKS

Why not buy THE HONOURS via Mr B’s Emporium? A brilliant independent bookshop who do worldwide shipping and are really great. They do a gift-wrap option so you can support me, an indie bookstore AND a friend who gets an ace present: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

THE HONOURS via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-honours-tim-cla…82114765#oid=1908_1

THE HONOURS via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clare/dp/1782114769

THE HONOURS Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clar…ok/dp/B00O45B8JE

THE HONOURS Audiobook: www.amazon.co.uk/The-Honours/dp/B00TSQKG1K

THE ICE HOUSE PRE-ORDER LINKS

The wonderful Mr B’s Emporium have a pre-order link for THE ICE HOUSE. They deliver worldwide, and I’ll make sure I pop in round publication time and sign any stock they’ve got, so any pre-orders via this link will – unless I have some terrible accident – by signed by me. If they get 100 pre-orders before launch, I’ll make a little bit of exclusive extra content and throw that in with the books too: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

THE ICE HOUSE via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-ice-house-tim-clare-9781786894816

THE ICE HOUSE via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Clare/dp/1786894815

THE ICE HOUSE Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Cl…ok/dp/B07K33598R

Here’s the blurb for THE HONOURS.

1935. NORFOLK.

Its newest resident, Miss Delphine Venner, is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father.

As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods . . .

The Honours is a dark, glittering and dangerously unputdownable novel which invites you to enter a thrilling and fantastical world unlike any other.

THE HONOURS WEEK – 2. Monsters

Buy THE HONOURS: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

Pre-order THE ICE HOUSE: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

This week the podcast is dedicated to exploring my first novel, THE HONOURS. This second episode looks at four figures who achieved notoriety between the wars in Britain, and re-examines their reputations – in the eyes of many – as ‘monsters’. Who were they? Why were they so quickly forgotten? And do monsters really exist?

My hope for this week, aside from entertaining and informing you, is that you find yourself enthusiastic to support my work through buying THE HONOURS for yourself and friends, and also preordering the forthcoming sequel, THE ICE HOUSE. If you think helping me in this way would bring you some happiness, then kindly click one of the links below, and please do let me know once you’ve done so, so I can thank you.

THE HONOURS PURCHASE LINKS

Why not buy THE HONOURS via Mr B’s Emporium? A brilliant independent bookshop who do worldwide shipping and are really great. They do a gift-wrap option so you can support me, an indie bookstore AND a friend who gets an ace present: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

THE HONOURS via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-honours-tim-cla…82114765#oid=1908_1

THE HONOURS via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clare/dp/1782114769

THE HONOURS Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clar…ok/dp/B00O45B8JE

THE HONOURS Audiobook: www.amazon.co.uk/The-Honours/dp/B00TSQKG1K

THE ICE HOUSE PRE-ORDER LINKS

The wonderful Mr B’s Emporium have a pre-order link for THE ICE HOUSE. They deliver worldwide, and I’ll make sure I pop in round publication time and sign any stock they’ve got, so any pre-orders via this link will – unless I have some terrible accident – by signed by me. If they get 100 pre-orders before launch, I’ll make a little bit of exclusive extra content and throw that in with the books too: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

THE ICE HOUSE via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-ice-house-tim-clare-9781786894816

THE ICE HOUSE via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Clare/dp/1786894815

THE ICE HOUSE Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Cl…ok/dp/B07K33598R

Here’s the blurb for THE HONOURS.

1935. NORFOLK.

Its newest resident, Miss Delphine Venner, is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father.

As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods . . .

The Honours is a dark, glittering and dangerously unputdownable novel which invites you to enter a thrilling and fantastical world unlike any other.

THE HONOURS WEEK – 1. The Sleep Of Reason

Buy THE HONOURS: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

Pre-order THE ICE HOUSE: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

This week the podcast is dedicated to exploring my first novel, THE HONOURS. This first episode is about adventure stories, their roots in social justice, and how the British establishment used them to send a generation to their deaths.

My hope for this week, aside from entertaining and informing you, is that you find yourself enthusiastic to support my work through buying THE HONOURS for yourself and friends, and also preordering the forthcoming sequel, THE ICE HOUSE. If you think helping me in this way would bring you some happiness, then kindly click one of the links below, and please do let me know once you’ve done so, so I can thank you.

THE HONOURS PURCHASE LINKS

Why not buy THE HONOURS via Mr B’s Emporium? A brilliant independent bookshop who do worldwide shipping and are really great. They do a gift-wrap option so you can support me, an indie bookstore AND a friend who gets an ace present: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

THE HONOURS via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-honours-tim-cla…82114765#oid=1908_1

THE HONOURS via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clare/dp/1782114769

THE HONOURS Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Honours-Tim-Clar…ok/dp/B00O45B8JE

THE HONOURS Audiobook: www.amazon.co.uk/The-Honours/dp/B00TSQKG1K

THE ICE HOUSE PRE-ORDER LINKS

The wonderful Mr B’s Emporium have a pre-order link for THE ICE HOUSE. They deliver worldwide, and I’ll make sure I pop in round publication time and sign any stock they’ve got, so any pre-orders via this link will – unless I have some terrible accident – by signed by me. If they get 100 pre-orders before launch, I’ll make a little bit of exclusive extra content and throw that in with the books too: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-ice-house/

THE ICE HOUSE via Wordery, with free worldwide shipping: wordery.com/the-ice-house-tim-c…86894816#oid=1908_1

THE ICE HOUSE via Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Clare/dp/1786894815

THE ICE HOUSE Ebook: www.amazon.co.uk/Ice-House-Tim-Cl…ok/dp/B07K33598R

Here’s the blurb for THE HONOURS.

1935. NORFOLK.

Its newest resident, Miss Delphine Venner, is determined to uncover the secrets of the Hall’s elite society, which has taken in her gullible mother and unstable father.

As she explores the house and discovers the secret network of hidden passages that thread through the estate, Delphine uncovers a world more dark and threatening than she ever imagined. With the help of head gamekeeper Mr Garforth, Delphine must learn the bloody lessons of war and find the soldier within herself in time to battle the deadly forces amassing in the woods . . .

The Honours is a dark, glittering and dangerously unputdownable novel which invites you to enter a thrilling and fantastical world unlike any other.

THE HONOURS WEEK on Death Of 1000 Cuts

Hello dear friends. Just posting a little update.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. I’ve had such enormous fun making the podcast this year, but it’s been a tough year financially, and I’ve only just scraped by. The only reason I’ve been able to do that is because of listeners’ help. I’m so grateful for the donations that have let me cover my podcast hosting costs, the costs of migrating my glitchy website over to a more reliable host, and all the other expenses of putting together a weekly show.

It’s hard to talk about without sounding – to my ears at least – a little corny or insincere. I genuinely didn’t think anyone would send me anything via the ko-fi page, and I was stunned when people did. Especially as I’m offering nothing in return except my gratitude. I love making the podcast and I love writing, and I feel very lucky to have listeners possessed of such generosity. Thanks.

Yet the hustle goes on! This week I’m putting out multiple episodes, all about my novel, The Honours. I’m hoping that, for the people who haven’t read it yet, I might be able to tempt you to grab a copy – and help me out in the process – or perhaps buy one as a gift for someone you think would enjoy it. I’m also hoping that you’ll pre-order my next novel, The Ice House.

I don’t want to make the show all about me each week, and neither do I want to pad out each week’s episode with a lengthy essay about how writing is my sole source of income, and how vital every sale is to my ability to keep doing the work I’m doing. But I do need to sell books to keep doing this work, and to keep putting out free podcasts. So I’ve packed everything down into a single week where I talk a bit about my work. I hope you’ll listen, and share it, and – if you’re willing – help me keep going by ordering the two books I’ll be talking about.

Why not buy The Honours via Mr B’s Emporium? A brilliant independent bookshop who do worldwide shipping and are really great. They do a gift-wrap option so you can support me, an indie bookstore AND a friend who’ll get an ace present.

They also have a pre-order link for The Ice House. I’ll make sure I pop in round publication time and sign any stock they’ve got, so any pre-orders via this link will – unless I have some terrible accident – by signed by me. If they get at least 100 pre-orders before launch, I’ll make a little bit of exclusive extra content and throw that in with the books too.

Pre-orders are the lifeblood of any novelist’s career. If you think you’d like to read The Ice House, please consider pre-ordering, to help give the book the best launch possible. And thank you very, very much for all your kindness.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 46 – Chatting With R F Kuang

In this episode I chat to author R F Kuang about her debut novel THE POPPY WAR.

We chat Fantasy, grimdark, character arcs, representation of marginalised people, Shonen Manga, maintaining a positive attitude towards your work and writing great fight scenes.

You get grab a copy of THE POPPY WAR here: wordery.com/the-poppy-war-rf-ku…08239800#oid=1908_1

Here’s NK Jemisin’s BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY that Rebecca recommends: wordery.com/the-broken-earth-tr…16527194#oid=1908_1

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 45 – How To Help Authors You Love

This episode is all about how readers can best help authors they love.

Where and when should you buy their books? What’s the best way of sharing praise? What can you do to boost authors you want to see more of?

And is it possible to do all of this while getting big benefits for yourself, like – I don’t know – maybe increased resistance to illness and a longer life?

Come with me, friends. If you’re a reader who loves books or an author who wants to know how best your readers can help you, I break down in thorough detail everything you need to know.

If you want to read the text version of today’s episode, complete with links to studies supporting various claims, and links to all the sites I mention, here it is.

If you think what I do is good and you’d like to show your love and help me do more of it, click here to pre-order my new novel THE ICE HOUSE.

While you’re pre-ordering you can pick up a copy of my first novel, THE HONOURS, and get it to read straight away.
And you can always bung me a couple of beans via this site: ko-fi.com/timclare

Here’s the Hive website supporting local UK bookshops.

And if you’re in the US, Indiebound supports independent bookshops.

Have a lovely week, and thank you for listening.

THE ICE HOUSE by Tim Clare available for pre-order!

The Ice House by Tim Clare

THE ICE HOUSE, my new novel, is now available for pre-order. The hardback will be published in May 2019 – by clicking on the link you can reserve a copy with free shipping worldwide, to be delivered to your door as soon as it comes out.

I talked about how important pre-orders are for authors in this post about how readers can become superfans. They make a huge difference to a book’s life and an author’s career. I’m asking everyone: if you think you’d like a first edition copy of this gorgeous hardback rushed to you on the day of release with free shipping worldwide, please click here and pre-order. If you’d prefer the convenience of an ebook, click here to make sure you get it downloaded straight to your device the moment it comes out.

But what’s it about? So glad you asked my friend. Here’s the spiel:

Delphine Venner is old, but she remembers everything.

She remembers the war, and terrifying creatures from another world. She remembers the gateway, and those she lost.

And in that other world, beast-filled and brutal, someone waits for her. Hagar, a centuries-old assassin, daily paying a terrible price for her unending youth, is planning one final death: that of her master, the Grand-Duc. A death that will cost her everything. A death which requires Delphine.

Voyaging into this violence and chaos, Delphine must remember who she really is and be ready to fight for love, her life, and the survival of both worlds. It’s been a lifetime since the war ended. She thought her fighting days were over. But now she knows.

War doesn’t end. It sleeps.

Praise for THE HONOURS:

‘Superb… gorgeously entertaining’ – Guardian

‘A rich, gripping delight’ – Matt Haig

‘Irresistible’ – Huffington Post

‘Riotously entertaining… delightfully twisted’ – Sunday Express

‘Darkly compelling’ – Financial Times

The Honours by Tim Clare

If you’ve pre-ordered but you can’t wait, may I recommend my novel THE HONOURS? Click the link to grab a copy and immerse yourself in the world of 13-year-old Delphine Venner, an isolated country house and the 1935 secret society who meet there.

And if you’d like to hear my chatting on my weekly podcast about the writing process, DEATH OF 1000 CUTS, click here to listen.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 44 – Pitch Rush Special

This is the Death Of 1000 Cuts Pitch Rush Special episode. 55 authors, 55 novels looking for agents and editors. I read out a rapid-fire showcase of 100-word synopses and extracts.

This is a great episode to listen to if you’re trying to figure out how to pitch your novel, how to write a synopsis, how to write a query letter, and what makes the best extract of your work to share. It’s also a great episode to listen to if you’re interested in finding new talent!

If you fancy supporting me and this podcast, please buy my novel, THE HONOURS.

You can also drop me a few quid via my Ko-fi page.

Here are the authors and novel titles, in order, with full extracts. Get in touch via the ‘Contact Me’ button to the right if you’re an agent or editor who is interested in seeing more of any of them.

Number 1
Name: Thomas Russell
Novel Titled: The Curse Of The Go Force Warriors 5
Blurb: A washed up sitcom actor from the 80’s has a part in the equivalent of Power Rangers. He is playing a comic relief character. He goes out to the desert to film the first scenes. The 5 Rangers inherited prop helmets from the Japanese show. These are cursed due to mass murder on last day of filming on show they are doing English remake of. The Rangers become possessed, homicidal leading to supernatural, and stalk the film crew and sitcom actor around a trailer park at night. It’s a horror comedy.
Extract:
“Linus you get here right now!”
The acne covered teen shuffled over, eyes locked on the floor.
“We’ve been over this mam.” he spoke with a southern twang pockmarked by the erratic tone shifts of unfurling puberty. “I’m the boom operator, I’m not here to-”
“Shut up Linus. Take Mr Pollock’s bags and escort him to Trailer 5. And quickly. I don’t want to be waiting an hour like I was for my latte this morning.”
“We were doing a sound check.” Linus mumbled. “I was working.”
“I don’t care.”
“The nearest Starbucks is a 45 minute journey.”
“That’s not my problem Linus.”
“Each way.”

Number 2
Neil Hughes
‘The Shop Before Life’
PITCH: A novel set in the pre-life.
Before being born, every person visits the Shop Before Life, where they must choose from countless magical jars of human traits, and decide what kind of person they will become on Earth.
Faythe spent two centuries mastering the art of annoying her friends in the pre-life before – accidentally – becoming the Shopkeeper’s new Apprentice. But her curiosity leads her to uncover the Shop’s ancient secrets, enraging the Management of the universe. If she doesn’t unravel the mystery of human individuality for herself, then nobody will be able to ‘become themselves’ ever again.
EXTRACT:
To understand Faythe’s story—or, truly, anybody’s—you must first understand the entire history of the universe. Luckily, provided you’re willing to skip some details, that doesn’t take long.
Before anything, there was nothing. But after that, there was plenty. Bacteria. Geese. Tables. More kinds of cheese than anybody could count. Trees. Cathedrals. Even GOATS.
And that’s not all! Due to the universe having an unnecessarily extravagant level of detail, every single goat was a unique individual with its own personality.
No-one knew for sure how goats managed this, as none had ever been seen in the Shop Before Life.

Number 3
Name: JOYCE CHNG
Novel title: DRAGON PHYSICIAN (YA)
PITCH: Jixin, the son of a great dragon physician, tries to survive as a stable hand in a matriarchal world of dragon racing. Things become interesting when he befriends the daughter of the Rookery mistress. She makes him her dragon physician. Does she has her own agenda?
EXTRACT:
“How did you know my mother?” Jixin breathed. “Who are you?”
“I met her once years ago. I do not think that the Tian Shan women cared even to tell you. Shu, the Great Dragon Physician. You even look like her! But pity…”
“What happened to her?”
The old woman’s face crumbled, softening. “You didn’t know, youngling? She was clawed to death by a raging mother dragon.”
“You lied! She left for the Docks!”
Tears were in Jixin’s eyes, blinding him. The image of the old woman swam before him, blurry and distorted.
“She did. But she found employment at a shithole of a minor Rookery. The conditions were horrible. She died. I am so sorry, Jixin…”

Number 4
Name: Christopher Galvin
TITLE: ARTHUR SMALLWOOD’S QUEST FOR MAGIC
BLURB: Magic is annoyed…no, she’s FURIOUS. For too long Her powers have been used for evil. Now She wants them back. But it’s not as clear cut as She imagined and now She has become corrupted, wiping out any magical beings She encounters like they were nothing.
Arthur Smallwood has been told he can defeat Magic, that he can stop what She has done. But what if he doesn’t want to fight? What if that responsibility is too much and what if what he has been told… is wrong?
EXTRACT: “Mother. What did you just do to those men?” Arthur asked. He was a bit frightened by whatever Catherine had done. He was also intrigued.
Catherine ran her hands over her tired face.
“Remember when you asked me if magic exists?”
Arthur nodded, not sure what this had to do with his question.
“Well I never answered that question. Here’s my answer now. Yes. I do believe in magic. And I just used it to save you from going to jail.”

Number 5
NAME: Joseph Sale
TITLE: Against Such Reckless Hate
BLURB/PITCH:
Against Such Reckless Hate is a kaleidoscopic Lynchian horror-fantasy novel. The miracle-worker has been kidnapped by shadows, taken to a place called Darktown. There, shadows torture him, breaking his spirit to make themselves real. It’s up to an unlikely rescue team: a criminal, a serial killer, a psychologist, a spider, a knight, a waitress with a secret power, a shifu, and a spirit from the fabled Black Lake, to save him. An allegory of battling suicidal depression, this novel asks what we can do in the face of the reckless hate within ourselves.
EXTRACT:
Two shadows met in the graveyard beneath the old church.
There was hardly any starlight, and the pale eyes of the city’s skyscrapers were far off, less than real. The church and the graveyard lay at the heart of the city, the point of deepest dark. If you were
staring into a pit, it would be the point where your eyes begin to ache, the centre where not only solid ground but reality itself seems to fall away.
‘Brother,’ the first shadow said.
‘Brother.’

Number 6
Name: Lola Phoenix
Title: The Fifth Kingdom
Blurb: Weeks after her granddaughter Gabby goes missing, Julia has a run in with a kangaroo and a frog who attempt to steal a stone from her home. When the animals mention a young girl who has been living with them for days, Julia uses the stone to barter her way into the Kingdom, where she finds Gabby. The two are entangled in a centuries old conflict between the Kingdoms of Hop, Climb, Walk and Transformation while dealing with their own conflict: Julia wants Gabby to become a scientist like her when all Gabby wants to do is play outside.
Extract:
“MADAME!” the toad shouted, jumping the the air with the force of voice. The toad coughed, then massaged a rubbery chest with the smooth pads of his fingers, “I do apologize for the shouting, but… if I may? I am a guest in your home and you are being considerably rude.”
Julia guffawed. “Well, a guest are you? A guest in my house?”
“It’s certainly not my house,” the toad gestured to the background.
“You’re a guest, are you? Huh? You’re a toad.”
“Yes. And? The point?”

Number 7
All That The Light Touches
Thomas Carson
During a period of drought, Maggie Miller, a young farmer realises she is pregnant again and begins to sleepwalk. Her husband John, a teacher on summer holidays is still finding it hard to gain acceptance within the community of cold patriarchal farmers.
In a neighbouring farm, alopecia stricken Mrs Pascoe adds yet more layers of concealer to her cheeks, while her proud, financially stricken husband, Jim Pascoe, having averted prison for the poisoning of two gypsy car thieves, is soon shaken to hear that the group of travellers have returned to their old camp.
Then the fires begin.
Extract:
Monroe drew his finger across the map he’d been studying and marked out a line along the quarry road that they would try to secure. The sirens spun and the crickets in the grass verges, the roosting pheasants in the gorse, the swallows on the telegraph lines all fell silent upon their passing, as if acknowledging the passage of some macabre parade, and when the smoke elevated and passed across the sun’s spokes of light, the land ascertained a diffuse and jaundice shadow, like viewing it through a vat of old cooking oil, or flies’ wings.

Number 8
Laura Sweeney
Chasing Waterfalls
Blurb:
When 32-year-old Amy Hannington goes in search of glamour and excitement she can’t believe her luck when handsome, wealthy Timothy enters her life. As the glitz starts to fade, and she learns some uncomfortable truths about her boyfriend, she is forced to dig deep to uncover what true happiness means to her, before she loses herself.
Chasing Waterfalls is a story of one woman’s search for happiness, what happens when you get what you wish for, and how what we think we want isn’t always what we need.
Extract:
Laughter and chatter and the clink of glassware floated up at her as she made her way along the hallway towards the stairs. As she passed the bedroom that Timothy was using as a study she could hear giggling from the other side of the door. She paused and listened for a moment, a slight frown creasing her forehead. The giggles subsided, and she heard a man’s voice, too quiet for her to make out what he was saying, but clear enough to be recognisable. There was no mistaking whose voice it was; after all she knew it well.
Mike appeared on the landing, wheezing slightly at the exertion of running up the stairs. Seeing her at the door his eyes widened and the colour drained from his face. He gripped the banister so tightly his knuckles turned white. Not taking her eyes off Mike’s face, Amy placed her hand on the handle of the study door and pushed it open.
Two familiar faces looked back at her as she stood in the doorway.
‘Oh fuck,’ said Timothy.

Number 9
Name: Nolan Dean
Title: Moonflower
Blurb: Eleven year old Millie Robertson wants nothing more than to be brave like her favourite fictional hero, Moonflower Jones. In the summer of 1985, her holiday gets more exciting when she discovers a teenage pixie Jade, and a handsome inventor Zigzag in her London suburbs.
A monster has escaped from their world, so Millie wishes for Moonflower Jones to come to life to help them. However, once Moonflower discovers the truth about her tragic fictional origins, Millie must face the dark side of her role model and find the hero within herself to save her town and her new friends.
Extract:
“Plus,” Millie coughed, “People in real life kinda suck. Not all of them, I mean there’s one or two I kinda like, but…in stories people are always kind, and the bad guys always get defeated. They’re thrown in jail or something, but that doesn’t happen in real life, and I don’t get why. If you’re good…shouldn’t good things happen to you?”
“Sometimes you’ve gotta make those things happen for yourself,” Jade said, “If you sit around all day waiting for a miracle, you might blink and miss it.”
Millie shrugged. “I guess I’m not that smart.”

Number 10
Author: Marisa Noelle
Title: When the Raven Mocker Calls
Blurb: Traumatized teen, Luna, desperately wants to cope without her other personalities and so starts a house fire to shock them, perhaps even kill them. Second dominant, Matthew, risks it all to save them, but also craves Luna’s love. As they flee through the woods to Grandmother’s house with supernatural beings picking them off, he must fight for control over the host body, or lose himself forever.
Extract: Luna. Where was Luna? Matthew threw open her bedroom door, but she wasn’t there. Her sheets spilled off her mattress and puddled on the floor. Her curtains blazed a trail of flames, mantling an open window. On the ledge sat a trio of church candles, an incense holder and a framed picture of her at last year’s Homecoming dance, burning, wilting, fading from existence.

Number 11
BLURB: SAFER TO BE FEARED
C O Vollmer
Winter, 1536: Cesare Aldo is an officer for the Otto di Guardia, the most powerful criminal court in Renaissance Florence. But he’s also a gay man at a time and place where sodomy is punishable by imprisonment, banishment – even execution. Aldo lives a double life, enforcing the law despite his sexuality making him a criminal.
Investigating the murder of a Jewish moneylender, Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the city’s ruler, Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, during the Feast of Epiphany. Can Aldo stop the conspirators while keeping his secret from those who would destroy him?
PROSE EXTRACT:
‘The way Samuele was slain, that required genuine skill.’ Doctor Orvieto picked up a short knife, balancing it in his palm. ‘May I show you?’
Aldo spread out both arms, inviting an attack. ‘Please.’
The doctor approached, blade in hand, until they were close enough to embrace. Looking Aldo in the eyes, Orvieto thrust the knife at his chest. It stopped a hair’s breadth from Aldo, the tip sharp and steady. ‘This was a close killing. Almost… intimate.’
‘So I see.’
For a moment there was nothing but the two of them – then Benedetto stumbled back in through the doorway.

Number 12
Name: M S Clements
Novel title: THE THIRD MAGPIE
Book Blurb:
In the totalitarian regime of New Albany former elite Albian, Sophie and her foreign husband, Finn, attempt to live a normal life despite state interference When Finn begins to tutor the sociopathic teenager, Catherine, it is not only Sophie’s marriage that faces danger. Sophie must find a way to save her husband and escape the country before New Albany’s ‘Final Solution’ kills her husband and extinguishes what’s left of her freedom.
Extract:
It was all about pretence. A performance for his captor. Finn, the actor with decades of experience. His current role, give life and body to 568216, the happy and relaxed tutor. He’d master the part, regardless of the panic raging through him. He’d allow the character to consume him, softening the torturous lesson. A portrayal steeped in method obliterating the restrictions. The audience locked out of her sitting room theatre. He was alone on her stage with no one listening, no one watching. A forgotten hour of freedom, three times a week.

Number 13
Title: GABRIEL’S WINDMILLS
Author: Romi La Paz
Blurb/pitch
The north of England. A tough neighbourhood on the edge of a tough town. Kathy has lost her father and she and her mother are about to be evicted. When new kid Gabriel arrives at school, he’s a welcome distraction, nothing more. But Gabriel opens the door to a whole new world, to friendship, hope, and something out of the ordinary: a chance to experience life beyond poverty, beyond mind, even beyond the grave. Gangsters, walking windmills and a geeky American scientist guide us to this conclusion: there’s always a way out of trouble, but it’s never the one you expect.
Extract
He walked past me to the door.
‘I’ll be back in the morning,’ he said. ‘Make sure your mother knows. Oh, and once you’re out, I’ll be changing the locks, or else you’ll be sneaking back in. I know your sort.’
‘Our sort?!’ My blood was boiling. ‘How dare you talk like that when you’re throwing us into the street?!’
He opened the door.
‘You don’t get it, do you? I talk like that BECAUSE I’m throwing you into the street. That’s how it works. Nighty night.’
And he lurched off into the gale, leaving the stink of his aftershave behind him.

Number 14
Lon E. Varnadore
Void Emissary
The Void Emissary are the peacekeeping force of the Twelve Worlds. Some of them belong to the Order of Hunters, those charged with assassinations. Pieter Strahd is one of them and he is given a mission to kill someone or the Twelve Worlds will sink into chaos. Soon he is joined by Kyp, a young æthernaut and Sarena Corr, with a living tree ship as transport. All of the together struggle against a mysterious force that could swallow all of the Twelve Worlds.
Extract: The Eye of Jove blazed bright, causing Pieter Strahd to close his eyes while he exited the æther tunnel into the Jove system. The smoked goggles did little good against the glare. He reached out for the Void as a reflex. The Void responded to his touch, calming and reassuring him while the æther tunnel created by the ætherscrew on the prow of his ship collapsed. It churned through the eldritch æther that surrounded all the planets of the Imperium.

Number 15
James Otsa
Title: I TOO WAS IN ARCADIA
Blurb:
In the last city on the mainland, The Fifth Monarchy government has fabricated a new history of the world. The teachings of The Historian are compulsory reading, leaving a divided population unsure of who, or what, is real. Information on every person is recorded in the overflowing Memory Vaults, including every ill-thought or intention they’ve ever had. Despite all this, Bathis Mere is only concerned with his own misery. Searching for his estranged family, he will discover chilling truths at the heart of the Memory Vaults that force him to choose between his own problems, or those of the city.
Extract:

“The deserts were made by the hot breath of Cancer and Capricorn, the cold flow of the oceans, and the rain-shadows which fell from the homes of the Gods. At first they were empty, like the universe, but then they teemed with things which had learned to live on through death. In the freezing nights and blistering days, life was sealed in stone and sand—but it prevailed.”

Number 16
Name: David Court
Title: RECREANT
Blurb/Pitch:
The Concordance; An intergalactic alliance of worlds and species, spreading peace and enlightenment throughout the dark corners of space. To be a member brings protection, stability and wealth. Refusal of membership or expulsion brings the indignity of being declared Recreant. It’s a carefully balanced system that, in its lengthy history, has never failed.
However, this tentative harmony is threatened from without and within. Fragile alliances are weakened to breaking point as an unseen enemy strikes without apparent motive or warning. Against this backdrop of political turmoil, there are those who seek to exploit the situation for their own Machiavellian ends.
Extract:
The sound that Yolqun had originally thought was the noise of some gargantuan beast attempting and failing to clear its throat turned out to be the shuttles engines engaging. The hold of the shuttle was cold and uncomfortable, and it took him eight seats until he found a working seatbelt.
Strapped in now and marvelling at the sheer majesty of the incredible view – four walls and a ceiling – he slumped back in his chair. He’d hoped his last ever space journey would have been on some manner of pleasure cruise, not hurtling towards certain death in something barely space-worthy.

Number 17
Stephanie Nicholls
Of Kings & Queens
Brenin wants change, being King; he’s in the right place. The challenge – surviving the prophecy. He’s about to realise that he’s not their only target. Can he survive and raise his Kingdom above slavery and a church that craves power over peace?
General Rizario wants revenge, and he knows all the right people. Can he, himself see past the grief and rebecome the great General.
Urelai must start a rebellion, his brother is dead, his country in shambles. Only one person can help but she won’t; because he killed her brother.
Extract:
‘You have lost your voice through no fault of your own; taken away by the very people who are supposed to listen. I am not here to keep you silent nor to make false promises to you. I am here to make amends, to give you back your voice. I cannot promise you anything, except that I want change. I want…’ I stopped, again looking at the faces around me. And realised where I’d been going wrong, I sat down on the floor. I let all the breath leave my body, drawing it back in slowly. ‘What do you want?’

Number 18
From: Elissa Soave
Subject: Pitch Rush: How Will You Love Me?
Blurb:
This is a novel about the devastation that can be wreaked by those who love or have been loved dysfunctionally.
England, 2014. A man is convicted of a brutal attack on the person he believes kidnapped and abused his teenage son. But nothing is as it seems: in a group of broken individuals, each one affected differently by the ways in which they love and have been loved, who is really to blame?
Extract:
The parents are caught between abandoning me as too difficult, and taking the credit for who I am. As if they had anything to do with it. I am Morgan Vance. I am the person I was born to be and the person I always will be. I am smarter than you and everyone else you know. The parents want to take the glory. I can’t have that: all plaudits belong to Morgan.
Listen carefully, and I’ll worm my way into your head. And blow it open. I’ll get behind your eyeballs. And peel away the layers like an onion.

Number 19
Jennifer Kennedy
Galloping Catastrophe – A year in the life of a menopausal woman
Pitch:
Alexis Nightingale is menopausal and begs to feckin differ with anyone who tries persuade her it is anything but a repeat of the hormonal hell that was puberty but made worse by being no longer in the fountain of youth. She does not want to take up yoga or go on a silent retreat or take supplements made from an ants eyelids or whatever the latest fad is. She does not want to fade into middle aged invisibility. She wants, and is going to get, another bite of the very juicy cherry that is life.
100 word extract:
?This morning I was walking back from the supermarket convinced I had forgotten something. I had made a list but I had left it at home – so had to rely on my menopausal memory. I ran through the things in my head – bread, bananas, eggs, bacon, washing powder. I racked my brains all the way home. I was just sitting down to a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea when I remembered. The Dog! Our Sweet Dog was still tied up outside the supermarket waiting for her brain fog addled owner.

Number 20
My name: Bill Bradbury
Woke
=== 100 word BLURB/PITCH ===
Holly’s scared, for a smoke-jumper that’s abnormal. Takeda’s actedstrangely since the mass suicide of red-legged birds. He’s complaining about repeated visions of a little girl named Chimera. Although, it’s his birthday, and ’The Event’ gives you a dose of enlightenment on that day, coincidence? Maybe. But then a tree with blood red eyes appeared and screamed. Seamus was found dead, an assassin attempted to kill her, and any computer she touches seems to have been hacked. Now, a text from someone holding her mother hostage.
Holly was scared; now she’s terrified.
=== 100 word EXTRACT ===
He had no sense of time on earth, though his body was resting comfortably in the chamber for just a few seconds. Roused by a gentle pulling away from infinity he began to regain an impression of existence. He remembered he was called Takeda. It wasn’t jarring; he was filled with light and safe in the knowledge that he could keep it.
A feeling like he was liquid filling up a form washed over him as he returned to his body. Pulsing with energy and filling up his mortal consciousness, each cell expressed gratitude.

Number 21
From: Umar Abubakar Sidi
The Autobiography of a Power Monger
BLURB:
My novel, The Autobiography of a Power Monger is a 70,000 word novel adorned with elements of magic realism. It tells story of how a mysterious manuscript titled: A Guide to the Secret of the Alphabet and other Matters Related to the Construction of Words and Sentences was transported through the ages from Baghdad to Timbuktu and to Sokoto in Northern Nigeria.
The novel is a salutation to Italo Calvino, Orhan Pamuk and a meditation on Borges. Hence, it would appeal to fans of postmodern and experimental literature. The Autobiography of a Power Monger is genre – bending with the potential to ignite a spark for new labels.
EXCERPT:
By reading me you are inviting death upon yourself. And who but a fool will read himself to death? I know you want to throw this book away, dash out and shout ‘Help! Help! Help!’ A book wants to kill me! And when you realise that the door is locked from the outside you think of another way out. A status update on facebook or a hash tag on twitter #RescueMe #IAmAloneInARoomWithAKillerBook. But forget it that would not help. There is no escape. We are hooked. Do you think it is for joke that I am called Book of Sorcery and the Evolution of Superstitious Allusions?

Number 22
Ann Godridge
The Witch House
Blurb
Grieving and vulnerable after a breakdown, Alice Steele stumbles on the body of her trustee Harry Rook, who has been ritually murdered. She is forced to confront the tangle of secrets and lies at the heart of her family and community to prove her sanity and to clear herself of murder.
The Witch House centres on a dysfunctional family. There’s a Roman silver hoard, a pagan cult, and a property fraud as well as murder.
This dark psychological thriller explores gaslighting, wilful blindness and questions of nature and nurture.
Extract
My heart started beating faster. Something was deeply wrong. I sensed an otherworldly presence in the air.
On the stone in front of me, a rabbit. Dead. Splayed open down its undercarriage, and staked through its heart with a sharp stick. What monster did this? The sick, sick bastard. Defiling this sanctuary.
I was possessed by rage, then disgust.
Pulling myself together, I looked more closely. Wax residue, black, on the north side of the stone. All around the sides, fresh chalk markings, demonic looking sigils and pentagrams.
Not this again. After last time, I wanted nothing to do with it.

Number 23
Author: Emae Church
Title: Earth 101
Pitch:
17-year-old Jayne has a problem: only she remembers the two girls from her school, erased from existence; from everybody else’s memory. The girls have been Deleted.
Jayne doesn’t possess any strange powers of recall. She’s normal, just like anyone else, except she happens to be dating some guy, Aithen from another world. Big deal. We’ve all done it.
But there’s a connection with the visiting aliens and the missing girls. And now Jayne’s relationship with Aithen has placed her on the target list of the Deleters.
No one on Earth can help Jayne. It’s time to run.
Excerpt:
All I hear is the despair in her voice. “Why are you doing this?” The fear. “Please, wait. Let’s go back-”
Who is she with? I’ve seen her hanging with a lanky fella with white hair after school, but… should I go after her?
Do I really want to find myself in another argument and fight?
The feet and voices grow faint and are replaced by the whistle of the wind. Billowing clouds chase across the dark sky. Peering down from my hiding place, a faint flash catches my peripheral vision, from the direction of Laura and whoever went.

Number 24
Sara-Mae Tuson
Selina and the Six Lost Songs – YA
100 words blurb
A trip to Ireland goes horribly awry when teenage SELINA tumbles into the tomb of long-dead (or is she?) faery queen, MAEVE. Selina and BARD (her reluctant half-fey sidekick) travel the world to find the six lost songs, unlocking clues leading them to QUEEN MAEVE’s runaway daughter, FINDABAIR.
Dealing with Maeve’s vicious reprisals, monsters and more, Selina and Bard fight a growing attraction for each other – because he’s promised to someone else.
Culminating in an epic battle on Liberty Island, Selina must face the implications of her fey heritage and her own self-doubt to save the people she loves.
100 words extract
It all started when a boy fell out of the sky.
Well, he didn’t exactly fall, more like tumbled on top of me, knocking the air out of my lungs, the big idiot…but hang on. Let’s back it up a bit…
One year earlier…
I’m staring up at the huge pile of stones that are meant to be Queen Maeve’s Cairn, on top of Knocknarea, the hill we’ve just climbed, west of Sligo, Ireland.
“This it?” I mutter, looking up at the enormous mound. It looks like someone filled a giant bowl with stones and then flipped it over onto this hilltop.

Number 25
From: Ruby Parker
TITLE: Riverborne
BLURB: Abandoned at birth, 13-year-old Ghost grows up with the witch Maeve and her niece Nella. When a slumbering evil is woken in the woods, it’s up to Nella and Ghost to save the village. Together, they must journey to the Wildwood to find the bone witch, rumoured to know the secrets of death. But the price she asks in return for the knowledge may be too high for Ghost to pay…

EXTRACT: There was something eerie about the empty riverbed, Ghost had always thought. As he stood in the middle of the stream of stones, he imagined a sudden tide rushing down and sweeping him away. Still, it was beautiful in a barren way he supposed. The white rocks stood out against the surrounding green like the bare bones of the valley.

Number 26
Callum Beesley
The Carer
A modern take on the vampire, The Carer follows Jane Edge, a disillusioned and desperate care worker struggling to support herself and her dying mother. Taking a job at modern and forward thinking care company, ‘Your Life’, Jane finds herself drawn to the mysterious elderly patient Mr Comfort and the secret he possesses. But ‘Your Life’ is no ordinary care company and Jane is about to learn it has secrets to protect of its own.

Victoria pulls my hand out of her mother’s mouth.
‘Just checking,’ says Mother, her eyes rolling back into her head.
A long, thick and syrupy strand of drool connects my fingers to the old woman’s tongue as I pull them out of her reach. I hang my wet hands out in front of me, not sure where to put them when Victoria hands me a tissue. It’s small, it’s used, but will have to do before I can get to a bathroom and wash my hands, scrub them clean of this phlegm and mucus concentrated brown with coffee and age.

Number 27
From: Judith Parker
The Bumblebee Princess
(Children’s age 9-12)
Pitch:
Three giant Bumblebees, one pest of a boy called Bellamy, a clockwork mouse, a flock of freedom fighting dragons and Og, the Bumblebee Princess, with her golden bee power and a special secret hidden deep inside her soul but will it be enough to destroy the Vampyre Faery, will it be enough to survive?
Extract
‘SO!’ Bellamy said, trying to get things straight in his muddled up head ‘The Great Bumblebees are dying Og’s a Bumblebee Princess whatever one of those is when it’s at home the Vampyre Faery are poisoning the world Og’s Watcher’s missing in the Blood Mines looking for a Famous Device but we dunno know what it is and we dunno know what it does except it blasts the Vampyres away which is awesome but unlikely and the mines are all icy and we can’t find them.’ Bellamy said all on one breath. ‘That about it?’
‘Pretty much,’said Og.

Number 28
Hayley Gullen
Another Age
BLURB
Two women swap lives. Each thinks they’ve found an easy route to success and happiness, but will they repeat the mistakes of their pasts? Julia is fifty-two, wealthy and fed up. She abandons her luxurious lifestyle in search of east London’s hippest parties. Cassie is twenty-two, broke and miserable. She trades thirty years of her life for a house that’s worthy of the style pages of a Sunday broadsheet. The novel is a witty but heartfelt exploration of whether there can ever be an easy route to happiness, or if we are doomed to be trapped by our flaws.
EXTRACT
While she’s upstairs, I’m in my study, pretending to run a business.
The small amount of fun it gave me at the start has vanished. It’s all arty and floaty and cultural on the surface. I even went into a shop to admire it and lord it over the staff a bit (I know that’s not cool, but you try resisting the temptation).
It all looks aesthetically nice. But almost every fucking thing I do is related to spreadsheets and numbers and emails. The personnel stuff has lost its tiny bit of voyeuristic appeal too: it turns out sacking someone involves a fuckload of paperwork.

Number 29
Liam Garnett
“The Stowaway”
Theo Halliday, nephew of the wealthy widow Lady Marianne, fears the unscrupulous Edmund Arundell’s advances are more for his aunt’s land than her hand. Hoping her exiled son will stop the marriage, Theo stows away on a boat destined for Jersey. But this merchant ship isn’t heading that way, it’s heading for another world. The New World.
Stranded in the Caribbean, Theo must find a way back to England. But first he must join forces with orphans, escaped slaves, and an alcoholic conman to battle smugglers, kidnappers and pirates. And avoid Arundell’s privateer captain who’s close behind…
EXTRACT
How can you all watch, thought Theo. The captain ordered Plank to remove his shirt, then kicked him between his shoulders. Plank fell to his knees. You all know it wasn’t him who stole the rum, Theo screamed in his head. Lee turned away, but Tweedy still watched. Captain Eastland raised the whip high. Theo thought back to Mr Thwaites caning his palm at the docks, and how he’d wished one of his classmates had stood up for him. He glared at the sailors. I can’t believe not one of you has the courage to shout…
‘It wasn’t him!’

Number 30
Nicky Abell-Francis
The ETERNAL BOND
Book Blurb
Retreating to the Highlands entwines past with present. Zara’s life comes crashing back into an emotional rollercoaster of passion, fear and the consequences of following your addictions. Bruce’s hidden secrets emerge causing impending financial ruin to any inheritance for other family members. New life brings further confusion to the eternal triangle.
100 word Extract:
The smile on Mr Campard’s face vanished as suddenly as it had appeared on entry. His face darkened, though it was hard to distinguish shadow to blood flow in the half light. ‘That is not good news to hear and may spoil my weekend far too much. You know late payment is not accepted. You will make sure it doesn’t happen again.’
‘I do of course, but it is just impossible to find the extra at this precise moment.’ Bruce’s focus was on Mr Campard’s expression, he didn’t notice one of his colleagues moving to his side. Suddenly he…

Number 31
ELISABETH STRAW
CONTROL ALT DELETE
“My name is Katherine Haven and I’m a strong-willed, independent woman. No one can ever control me or so I thought. How wrong could I be?”
Katherine Haven thinks she has the perfect life in Surrey. Sadly,her world comes crashing down and she is forced to return to Nottingham. Katherine has so much guilt for ending her marriage. She wants to recreate the perfect family for her son. Finally, she meets a half-Italian man, Andrea. However, there are tiny clues that show that Andrea is not all he seems. The once light-hearted and humorous Katherine, becomes increasingly insecure. Her desperation to make a better life for her son and a pregnancy push her closer towards Andrea, and they get married. Andrea convinces Katherine that she is suffering from mental illness and alcoholism. Now her every move is being controlled.
EXTRACT
My name is Katherine Haven and I am a victim of domestic abuse.
There, I’ve said it now so it must be real. People think I’m making it up. They can’t see how someone who appears as strong as I do, can be a victim, let alone one of domestic abuse. But no one comes up to you and asks your permission to control you, do they? It’s a slow, gradual process that starts out as the odd slight of word, the odd change to your daily life, until what you were once is eroded away and you become someone else altogether.

Number 32
Lorna Eifflaender
Locusts
Blurb:
THIS MORTAL COIL meets the complex mother-daughter relationship of LADY BIRD. 17-year-old science-prodigy Nila defies her locust-expert mom to follow artistic dreams. But when a superswarm of man-eating locusts threatens the US, Nila must reconcile with her Mom and combine her creative and scientific abilities to stop it.
Extract:
Another wave of locusts hits, thrashing into me like I’m being whipped with a hundred lashes over every inch of my body. They clatter against my helmet, twisting it to the side, and the visor shatters. I clamp my eyes shut and hold my breath as my face is covered with clumps of glass and fluttering creatures. The smell of dirt blasts up my nose like a sandstorm. They’re inside my helmet, crawling in my hair.
I can’t get them out.
As I try to shake them free, I lose control, and the scooter veers to the right.

Number 33
Jane Flett
Not a Witch
In a metaphysical brothel in Berlin, Jennifer finds employment transporting clients into the fantastical realm of their strangest desires. She soon masters the art of turning a man into a steel arrow, thrumming in the bow, or transporting her boss inside Godzilla’s skin—though she can’t admit these abilities mean she’s a witch. When one client gets stuck inside a twisted world of his own creation, she must find a way to dig him out while coming to terms with the humiliating past she thought she’d left behind. Not a Witch is a literary novel with elements of magical realism.
Extract
I should stop, but it’s already too late. Already, it doesn’t matter.
This is what is happening now. Pedalling into the darkness with perfect trust, my heart high and hammering in my throat.
I close my eyes, and I let Shakti come close to me. Her breath on my lips, on my cheeks, the gentle tapping of rain. Let me in says the wolf at the window, says the fox, and how can you refuse?
There are only two things I know: that she’ll be able to see whatever is inside me, and that I’ll let her.

Number 34
Rebecca Milton
Oracle
Pitch:
It is 1815, and a young woman has started to Remember things that aren’t her own memories. This would be bad enough, but with the war with Napoleon over, another is brewing – and this time, with a far more powerful force. Never in history have the Fae of Secundus invaded the Primal realms, but Corentine is as certain about the future as she is uncertain about her past. And it’s up to her, her best friend Kalyani, and a mysterious Archmage to uncover their plans. What could possibly go wrong?
Extract:
“There’s a tree to our right,” Kalyani said, as the third shift change approached. “We can use its roots to climb down. If we do it whilst they’re changing, they’ve no chance of seeing us.”

“We’re deep into Oberon, Kaly, they’d have a lot of treacle putting eyes on us anyway.”
“True. But you know what they say, better safe than…”
“Waving a white flag.”
“You know, I’ve always found it interesting that you conflate apology with surrender.”
“Plenty of wakers paint it in that image.”
“That’s not unfair. Here, this is the one.”

Number 35
Mark David Goodson
The Eighth Morning
PITCH:
Jack Newman must face the same fate as his father, the man he has vowed never to become. The Eighth Morning is a work of literary fiction about a young Jack Newman’s first attempt to get sober.
The reader experiences the mind of an addict through the waves of self-deception in a newfound love affair with pills. The fact that you are hearing this pitch when interest in opioid addiction is at an all-time high is mere coincidence. A graduate of both Dartmouth College and Betty Ford, the author knows the subject well and writes this story with excruciating detail.
EXTRACT:
“And you no doubt told yourself you were doing it for your sobriety. You had to in order to stay sober. Well, look at the good that did.”
Jack was staring at the kitchen cabinets.
“No. Look here.” She pointed to the refrigerator that was splattered with pictures of Davey. The sort of fridge photography collection you might expect from a widow with an only child. “Look at what you cleaned up when you got home.”

Number 36
Simon K Brown
Faders
Faders is about an organisation in the afterlife that dispenses karma and the corrupt, self-serving people who work there.
Anouk has been headhunted by this mysterious organisation in a half-hearted attempt to add some diversity to the group of middle-aged white men working there. She enlists on the understanding that once she performs a thousand judgements she’ll get to meet her dead mother, but with her colleagues killing for sport, starting their own religions or going mad entirely, that might be harder than it seems…
Extract
Birds. Steady streams of them soaring up from all over the city, converging on the church’s jutting spire so it looked like it was haemorrhaging something evil into the sky. The cloud quickly grew,
then started moving towards the tram, twisting, pulsing, shifting.
This patchwork murmuration, filled with every colour and type of bird imaginable, swirled round the carriage and blocked out the sun. The windows shook with the thunder of their wings.

Number 37
Name: Angelita Bradney
Novel title: Saint Michael
Blurb:
The Maitlands seem like an ordinary working-class family. They all have things to hide, of course.
Mike, a builder and an alcoholic, returns from exile in France to be reunited with his uptight brother John. As the two men struggle to face the secret that has divided them since childhood, John’s teenage daughter goes missing. Mike holds the key to where she is, but before the family can pull together, he must face his deepest fears.
Saint Michael is a contemporary family drama – think ‘The Corrections’ but set in Essex.
Extract:
The call came from Mam a few days later, while Mike was working on a plastering job in a large local house.
‘Michael.’ Her voice was strained, faint.
‘Mam. What’s wrong?’
‘It’s your dad. He’s…’
‘What? Mam?’
‘He’s dead.’
Standing still, the phone to his ear, Mike felt a sudden cold penetrate his bones. He could barely hear Mam speaking. ‘I came back from the shops and… there he was.’ She said she’d found Joe on the carpet, limbs splayed, skin like putty. ‘Oh Michael. His chair – it was still warm!’

Number 38
Ian Murphy
WORDS OF ADVICE FOR THE DEAD
BLURB:
In an alternate United Kingdom that is anything but, a middle-aged cocktail lounge pianist is notified by the local authority of his own death, stripped of his identity in a land where identity is everything. He returns to the isolated village he left behind as a young man to tie up his affairs and arrange his own funeral, where he soon discovers that somebody has been living his life for him. His renewed presence uncovers the disturbing truth of his past, his present and his role in the local community. Then he goes missing.
EXTRACT:
Returning to his apartment in a foul mood generated by being outside, Walter sat at his desk, kicked off his wingtips and placed his latest charitable acquisition amongst his papers. He had acquired the box at the Refugee Crisis Emporium, one of the few shops he was still allowed to do business with. It had struck Walter that it seemed only fair that, while donating his own items to a charity shop, said shop should in all good conscience give him something in return. He referred to this notion as ‘trade,’ though others, it transpired, called it ‘unconscionable.’

Number 39
Matthew Leach
After the End
In life, following the death of his overbearing father, and finding himself the target of bullying, seventeen-year old Liam Beck is plagued by Mr Static, a manifestation of his depression and anxiety.
In death, Liam has no memory of his final hours. That is until a mysterious woman calling herself Mother grants him two hours and contact with a single person of his choosing, to ghost back into the mortal world, where Liam not only uncovers the shocking truth of his fate, but also the dark secrets of those closest to him.
Extract
It was just a party. He loved parties. The music. The people. Dancing and drinking. The racing heartbeat. The overwhelming feeling of euphoria as the bass dropped and the chorus kicked in.
He used to love parties. But not now. Not this. This was too much.
Mr. Static was close, his hot breath on the back of his neck as he whispered sweet misery into his ear.
Loooooooooooser.
Liam felt light headed, his heart pounding. The knot in his gut tightening as the screams began to build in the dark recesses of his fragile mind.

Number 40
Kirsteen Stewart
The Mandrake
The blurb
The child somewhere out on the mud-banks of the Solway Firth on that foggy November night- was she running after her howling mother? Or away from her? Bruised by childhood, serious, violet-eyed, long-legged 19 year old Lydia is catapulted into the maelstrom of 1960s London.
She weaves her uncertain way between the old-fashioned values of her grandmother and the scary opportunities for sex and a career in a changing world. This novel is about the pitfalls and conflicts, unexpected friendships and opportunities, unsuitable love and tragedy as Lydia struggles to find herself.
The extract
The boutique was so small and glittery that she lowered her eyes. They spotted Brigitte Bardot on the pavement outside. Marvin chose a pink bikini for her. The sand of the rich and privileged pressed between her toes. Suddenly there was something unbearable about it. The umbrella pines, the blinding sunlight, the ice gold sand, the violent strips of bikinis slashed across beautiful brown bodies, and the tumbling ink blue sea. She longed to be back on the Solway Firth, in the sullen grey-brown sea, safe in her navy school swimsuit, the scratchy unflattering material protection against temptation.

Number 41
Daniel James
Grandma, the Devil and Me
Shirley Jackson meets Bukowski in this darkly humorous coming-of-age memoir. Jonathan’s mother is an air stewardess, his father a retired football hooligan. He is left under the care of his eccentric Grandma in a lazy suburb of Blackpool. They share a dilapidated house with seven budgies, three dogs, three cats, two tortoises, the occasional seagull, his auntie Karen (who Jonathan suspects might be a witch) and, of course, the Devil, who Jonathan decides is the force behind his OCD. Jonathan finds the Devil everywhere: in his Great Grandmother’s bra, under the North Pier and, eventually, on the internet.
Extract
Once I stole a book called ‘The Irish Witch.’ I couldn’t read it, but liked to look at the picture on the cover – a naked woman with horns, dribbling blood. Father David said the Devil had horns and I wondered if the Devil might be a she.
‘Can the Devil be a she, Mum?’ I asked.
‘He can be lots of things’ she nodded. ‘A bird, a goat, a woman, a man. But you always know him by his smell.’
‘What does he smell like?’ I asked.
She thought for a second. ‘Like Grandma’s back room.’

Number 42
Tracey S. Rosenberg
Title: JANE ELLIOTT
Blurb/pitch: Jane Elliott, rejected by her adoptive family, passionately identifies with the heroine of Jane Eyre – except for that ridiculous decision to marry Rochester. Yet in her own desperate search for a home, Jane agrees to a visa wedding with the Edinburgh University professor who heads her English Literature programme. When she fails to build a relationship with him, Jane must face the possibility that she was never abandoned, but has pushed away everyone who tried to love her. To find the family and happiness she yearns for, Jane must become an even more courageous heroine than her beloved namesake.
Extract [the opening of the novel]:
The corridors of Edinburgh Airport were plastered with images of Scotland. Majestic castles gleamed silver in bright sunshine, and men in kilts grimaced as they hoisted wooden poles in preparation for hurling them. A trio of Shetland ponies strolled on a beach beside a shimmering loch.
All three ponies wore sweaters.
Jane halted. Jetlag was pounding behind her eyeballs, but she hadn’t expected a redeye flight to make her hallucinate tiny horses decked out in knitware.

Number 43
Trasie Sands
Freaky Yarn
Blurb/Pitch:
Freaky Yarn: Eric Stoddard goes to the store in the snow. When he doesn’t come back, his wife fears he’s gone for good this time. On the one hand, to be free of his cruelty would be like a dream for Tamera, but on the other hand, how can she live alone? Brought up in a large family in a tiny fishing village, she was raised to marry and have children. Eric had work. He made the money. They couldn’t survive without him. But where is he? Why would he leave with nothing? No clothes, not even a toothbrush?
Excerpt:
It wasn’t a restful sleep. She woke with every little noise and drifted back to sleep just in time for another creak or thump. They were nothing. The house was old, and it made noises, but the noises might mask an approach. If she wasn’t on high alert, she’d notice too late, if at all. She got up and walked around the bed to lie on the other side, putting Mason between her and door. She pulled the blankets back up and over herself and Mason, and willed herself back to sleep.

Number 44
CLARE ZINKIN
A MIGHTY STRANGER
A Mighty Stranger is a contemporary family drama set in London.
When Nicky’s wife dies, he’s thrust back into his estranged family’s household. With a stepmother he barely knows, a sister mired in resentment, and a father he can’t forgive, it won’t be an easy place to grieve. His ongoing presence drags up a past family secret, and threatens his stepmother’s delicately crafted status quo. Nicky has to weigh up if he is too much of a stranger to fit back into the family. After all, some strangers are more dangerous than others.
Extract
The wind raged against his cheeks as he rushed to the top to stand beside her and look at the cobalt blue sky and London’s silver buildings glinting in the sunshine. The sun caught her hair and she glowed. She was a magical spirit, caught in a flame. She looked round at him, smiling, and he was relieved in her happiness, as he knew those moments to be terrifyingly fleeting. After their long walk back down the hill, they slid into a booth in a small café to indulge in cake and inhale warmth through two large mugs of coffee.

Number 45
Fíona Scarlett
Title: BOYS DON’T CRY
Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Joe O’Reilly is from the wrong part of town, living in a Dublin city council flat with his Ma Annie and twelve-year-old brother Finn. His Da Frank, not only tears chunks out of Ma on a regular basis but is also the muscle for the notorious gangland criminal Des “The Minister” Murphy. Joe is determined not to become like his Da. However, when his brother Finn dies of cancer, Joe finds the lure of the dark side of his community too hard to resist. In Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha meets Breaking Bad, BOYS DON’T CRY is a story of family, love, loss, community and above all survival.
Extract:
I still wish they’d let Da visit.
I wish they’d let me home.
I wish they’d serve Big Macs here instead of cabbage, mash and ham.
Dr Kennedy said to write it all down, the things I’ll miss the most.
It’s supposed to be part of the process, help me transition. But trying to fit everything in that’s busting out the top of my head is sending me mental. Plus nobody has come out and said it yet. Not the nurses, not Dr Kennedy, not Ma.
But Joe asked me if I was afraid.
And that’s when I knew.

Number 46
Alex Delve
So Say the Dead
Graverobber Violet Harkness can hear the dead speak. But when one whispers her name and accuses her of murder, she is pulled into the occult world beneath Edwardian London she has always resisted.
Accompanied by William Beaufort, a man trying to be good but irretrievably tempted by the forbidden knowledge Violet’s ability suggests, the two of them discover more about her powers than they ever wanted to know.
Extract
For a moment there was nothing but the thud of her heartbeat in her chest and in her head. She leaned closer, until her ear almost brushed the corpse’s lips. Then she heard it. Syllables and consonants twisted into something beyond language. Something profoundly inhuman that snagged on something primal inside her. Something utterly unrecognisable, but so recognisably language.
She repeated it, her lips and throat contorting to produce the sounds in ways that should not have been possible and yet flowed so naturally. The words passed through her, and Violet did as little as possible to examine them as they passed.

Number 47
Jenny Adamthwaite
Drawing Breath
Blurb/Pitch:
Meg, who has no memory of herself or her past meets Michael, a graphic novelist, at a party. Michael has been struggling with his manuscript: his central character has disappeared from his drawings. As he falls in love with Meg, he comes to realise that she is his character. Meg struggles to cope with not being ‘real’, finding she needs Michael to help her figure out how she operates in the real world (why, for example, is it physically impossible for her to cut her hair?) Can Meg be both the character and the real person?
Extract:
I almost choke on my tea. I put my mug down on the table.
“What?”
He stares at me seriously, his face pale and his eyes wide. My laughter evaporates.
“What do you mean you think I’m fictional?”
He barely blinks. He presses his lips together and closes his eyes. A car with a wheezing exhaust passes outside. He opens his eyes slowly; they glisten like melting ice.
“I think,” he says slowly, “that you’re the character from my comic.”
I stare at him. Words catch in my throat.
“You’re…” I stop. He can’t possibly be serious.

Number 48
Rebecca McCormick
Title: Teenage Wasteland
Blurb:
Teenage Wasteland is a Young Adult novel about four teenagers growing up in Yorkshire. Childhood friends Jamie, Robin, and Joe, and Joe’s sister Beth, are a band on the cusp of stardom, about to sign a deal, when Joe is killed in a car crash that leaves his sister badly injured. Encouraged to carry on, the others recruit Daniel to take Joe’s place, even though they don’t trust him. Beth warms to him, just as the band is falling apart and friendships are tested. The novel is about friendship, found family, first love, and betrayal.
Extract:
Beth is pretty sure that she is still, and that the world outside is moving around her. She sees the black sky, a tree, a wall, the dark ground, the sky, a tree, a wall, the ground, flashing past her.
There’s a revolting crunch of metal on metal and then everything stops. There’s silence.
Beth is still holding on to her phone, only when she looks it’s lit up and she’s making a call but she doesn’t know who to, or why. The pain is immense, like there’s a noise in her head about to explode. She can see her right arm but it doesn’t feel like it belongs to her.

Number 49
Maurice Suckling
Novel’s title: Do These Shapes Tessellate?
BLURB:
There’s Blapti in India looking for a thawed-out caveman… Wuchu in China working as a fish impersonator… Kelo in Japan reviewing video game reviewers… Ergy in Germany, who caught the dancing sickness… Shufri in Nigeria trying to return money to its rightful owners… Hexton in the UK who sells dreams to rich people… Lida in Iran, a deaf musician… Julip in Brazil who thinks she’s become a ghost… Moola in Australia, a tree psychiatrist… Emron in Mexico counting art for a reclusive billionaire… Shakespeare, an alien on a secret mission…
All these characters’ lives collide, and none of them will ever be the same again.
EXTRACT:
‘Ontario. Three cavemen in a block of ice. Defrosted. Brought back to life.
First one immediately escapes. Runs into the wilds. Two months later an SUV gets a flint-head spear removed from its blood-splattered radiator. Authorities find a crumpled caveman by the side of the road.
The other two undergo three years of intensive instruction in a government installation. Taught language, history, science, the internet…
One day they escape. Global manhunt finds one. Supermarket. Frozen food section. Naked.’
‘Rejecting the modern world!’
‘No,’ says Blapti, ‘it was summer and he ran out of cocktail ice.’
‘But…what about the third one?’
‘Exactly!’

Number 50
Helen Loney
‘The Book Club Murders’
Blurb/Pitch:
Miss Lyster Clemens is housekeeper and librarian for her rich eccentric uncle. A spinster and brilliant, she prefers scientific reports to men, but when Uncle Francis’s house is burgled and she is framed for theft, only the huge, grim, and most worryingly, American Detective Inspector James Harris can’t believe she’d stoop so low.
Will Harris accept her help as he juggles four similar cases as well as his warring mind? Or will she also fall victim before Harris can find his path amongst the rich and poor, faithful and godless of Victorian London as the burglaries turn to occult murder?
Extract:
‘Listen careful,’ whispered Harris, ‘we are going to get off at the next station, but I’m not here to save you, I’m here to arrest you.’
Lyster’s eyes widened in fear. ‘I’m sorry, darlin’, I had to fetch you back, or find the murderer, but I couldn’t do both. I’ve no doubt been taken off the case, as I’m here against orders, but if I’m lucky, they’ll have me back. When you asked me if I’d promise to keep lookin’ for the truth, I got mad at you, but I do promise it, even if I’m on my own.’

Number 51
Heather Hughson
Jump Point
Blurb:
Hayley is just trying to live her life, but she has a secret, for years she has been plagued with vivid nightmares of strange worlds.
When a mysterious organisation comes for her, she learns something even more unsettling about her dreams. They’re real. With the help of an intriguing stranger, she discovers her secret heritage and is thrown into a terrifying world where she must fight to protect those she loves from those that wish to control her.
Extract:
The beast appeared in the distance, lit by a beam moonlight streaming through the dense canopy. Its thick form, covered by coarse fur, lurched forward, charging her without warning. Her stomach dropped, she couldn’t move. With seconds to spare, she clambered up the nearest tree, barely evading sharp claws that swiped at her as her bare foot slipped on the smooth bark. The steady growls below her made her heart thunder in her chest and her stomach turn as she tried to will herself awake. When she did, it was abrupt, the smell of earth still lingering in her nose.

Number 52
Stuart Johnstone
The Red Doors
Pitch:
What does it mean to you?
A feeling in the pit of my stomach
Just a saying? Some heightened sense of intuition?
For Sgt Don Colyear it means more, way more.
His intuition is off the scale, but it’s unreliable. In the city things go wrong, as wrong as they get. His home, until dust settles, is the Scottish highland town of Stratharder. Picturesque, quaint; boring. Don longs to return to his career. The longer he stays, however, the more his stomach tells him something is wrong with this place. He can’t help but pick at the dark cracks appearing.
Extract:
I held the ram out to John by its crude handles, my arms shaking with the weight of it, he just gave me a trademark look and I knew I was doing the swinging.
He was squat, middle-aged and out of shape, but his shoulders were better equipped for this sort of thing than my slight frame.
I pulled the ram to chest height and opted for the pendulum approach.
If John hadn’t been there I would probably have voiced the and-a-one, and-a-two, and-a-threeee out loud. When I reached the count of two, fingers burst from the letterbox, tiny fingers.

Number 53
Peter O’Connor
The Cloud
Pitch:
In a world permanently overcast by thick cloud, one man invents the balloon.
Maxim is a functionary of the Sacred Seat, a City surrounded by enemies. He wants an easy life, corresponding with fellow amateur scientists in a secret network, hidden from the theocratic government. They wonder whether the Cloud is truly the edge of the world, and invent a new machine to find out. But war with fearsome barbarians and heretical crusaders comes to the City, and Maxim tries to survive service on the Council of Viziers.
The Cloud is Game of Thrones meets House of Cards, set during the fall Of Constantinople.
Extract:
I sit in church and look up at the man on the lightning rod. I always feel sorry for him. Dressed like that he must have been freezing, you’d think a Saviour would have known to wrap up warm.
Although – I’m remembering something here – the barbarians played dice for his clothes. So he might have been wearing something a little more impressive before they stripped him. The storms were worse back then. He would not have been cold for long.
Rumblings from the people around me. The priest has said something that causes them all to kneel so I follow suit. I hope I haven’t missed anything important.

Number 54
Luke Spry
Blood of the Phoenix
‘Blood of the Phoenix’ is a science fiction novel, set in a future Earth diminished by ecological devastation. It is written from the perspective of the protagonist, Felicia Obcasus, the daughter of a Phoenician and a Tonitrales, who lives with her family in Leo Protectorate. She is caught between the two worlds, proud of Leo but eager to know more about the outside world. When her home is invaded, she must confront her place and the place of the Protectorates in the world. Through her internal and external conflicts, Felicia evolves through the trials of love, death, change, and responsibility.
Extract:
The door was open enough for Mati to get through. We needed no more. I had just enough wherewithal to not simply drop away from the door and smash my arm against the floor. I went to my knees before I let go the handle. Mati gave one last pull to no result and immediately went for the gap. It was too narrow for him to walk through, but there was enough space for him to go shoulder first. He had one shoulder in when he reached his hand out to me.
“You have to go on,” I managed.

Number 55
Charlotte Levin
An Explanation of Love
An Explanation of Love is a darkly humorous literary thriller, which tells the story of Constance Little, a young woman who develops an infatuation for Samuel, the new doctor at the private medical practice where she works. When he ends their brief yet passionate affair, past wounds surrounding her mother’s death and her father’s abandonment come to the fore, causing her obsession to spiral out of control.
Because for Constance Little…it’s never over.
Extract
Did you feel it too? When we lay on our backs, fingertips touching, the breeze from the open window cooling our stomachs. You did. I know you did.
And do you remember? How when I began to shiver, you pulled the duvet over me, kissed my goose-bumped skin. We shared a cigarette. ‘So, anyway Constance, your turn. Who was your first love?’ I didn’t reply. Merely blew smoke into the air and watched the white strings infiltrate your room. Because we both knew the answer to that. It was you.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 43 – Chatting With R O Kwon

In this episode I chat to author R O Kwon about her novel THE INCENDIARIES.

We talk about the pain of losing her faith and how her yearning for God lit the fuse that would become THE INCENDIARIES, a story about characters pulled into a religious terrorist sect. We talk about the 10 years the novel took to write, how she dealt with the challenge of writing convincingly about fanaticism, and what it’s like being a cool author. She also opens up about some personal creative quirks, and I actually ask the question ‘what’s your favourite letter of the alphabet?’ because that is how a serious adult interviews a writer about literature. There’s a context, I promise.

If you’d like a copy of THE INCENDIARIES with free shipping it’d be churlish of me to stop you, and I will in fact aid you – click this link to order it with free worldwide shipping.

And you can read my novel, THE HONOURS, by ordering it here.

And oh, go on then – running this podcast costs me a lot of time and actual money. If you’d like to support the podcast you can drop me a few quid here.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 42 – Against NaNoWriMo (Writing Ramble)

Planning on doing NaNoWriMo? Don’t.

It’s a bad idea, and in this episode, I explain why.

I also chat about ways you can get yourself writing more, while loving it.

This is a writing ramble episode, which is one of my completely unscripted talks with just me, you and the mic. A few people said they’d like to hear my thoughts on NaNoWriMo, so here they are. I hope it stimulates some useful thoughts for you.

My novel is THE HONOURS – it’s weird historical Fantasy with secret tunnels in 1935 England. Please treat yourself to a copy with free worldwide shipping.

If you’d like to try the first day of my (completely and forever) free 8-week writing course, the Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp, you can download all the episodes here.

And if you like the show and would like me to make more, you can help me cover my overheads by dropping me a buck or two here.
Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 41 – Chatting With Jonathan Stroud

This episode I speak to bestselling author Jonathan Stroud about finding stories, developing characters, and channelling demons.

Jonathan Stroud is the author of the 4-book BARTIMAEUS series – about an alternate London run by magicians, and the demons who serve them – which is published in 35 languages and has sold over 6 million copies. He also wrote the LOCKWOOD & CO series, about a plague of ghosts haunting Great Britain and the child agents sent to tackle them. We talk about his start in publishing, how he writes and how the challenges differ from book to book. We also talk about the value of walks for the creative process.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I find the voice of a character?
– how can I raise my chances of being struck by a flash of inspiration?
– what are good ways of thinking about conflict in a story?
– how can I make sure my plot is progressing?

Here are the first 3 books in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus series. I urge you, mortal, DO NOT BE SILLY, buy these books immediately. They are so great and you will have a wonderful time!

THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND.
THE GOLEM’S EYE.
PTOLEMY’S GATE.

And here’s the first in the Lockwood & Co sequence, LOCKWOOD & CO: THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE.

Oh? You fancy reading something… by *me*? Well then, friend, try THE HONOURS.

And ah yes, if you’d like to chuck me something towards the podcast’s running costs, I have a page here where you can do that in a couple of clicks.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 40 – Chatting With Tade Thompson

In this episode I chat to author Tade Thompson about creating worlds, unsympathetic protagonists and the ‘killable other’.

Tade Thompson is the author of ROSEWATER, a near-future SF novel set in Nigeria. We have a great conversation about the roots of his writing in the visual medium of comics, why we’re driven to create for ourselves, the uncomfortable truths that lie within us and the art of making the deeply weird feel real.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I make my science fiction feel plausible?
– should my narrator or protagonist be likeable?
– where is science fiction headed?

Here’s Tade Thompson’s novel, ROSEWATER.

And here’s SAGA Vol 1, which he recommends.

Here’s my novel, THE HONOURS, that I’d love you to buy.

If you like the show, please consider supporting me via my Ko-fi page.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 39 – Chatting With Kirsty Logan

This episode I chat to author Kirsty Logan about fairy tales, the subconscious, and stories outside the mainstream.

Kirsty Logan is the author of Fantasy novel THE GRACEKEEPERS, about an ocean-filled world where land is scarce, a travelling circus boat, a bear, and a girl charged with tending the souls of the dead. We talk about her fascination with fairy tales while growing up, her short stories, writing retreats, perceptions of mainstream versus niche books, and why weird is good.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what if my ideas aren’t like most other books?
– how can I write about weird things?
– how can I use fairy tales in my work?
– what’s it like going on writing retreat?
– how can I bounce back from criticism or rejection?

If you’d like to read Kirsty’s work for yourself click here to get THE GRACEKEEPERS delivered to your door with free shipping worldwide.

And if you’re interested in what I can do, click here and treat yourself to my novel, THE HONOURS.

If you’d like to support the podcast, you can click here and very easily drop me a few beans.

Thank you.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 38 – Chatting With Andrew Cowan

In this episode I chat with author and creative writing teacher Andrew Cowan about writing fiction, finding details, perfectionism and helping bring others’ stories to life.

Andrew talks switching from pottery to fiction, finding his own voice, ways round perfectionism and self-doubt, and his career in teaching creative writing on residential courses and at the University of East Anglia. He shares some of his favourite creative writing exercises, including ones that helped him break through serious blocks and get the words flowing again. We also talk about the novels he’s written so far, how he’s researched topics from pig-rearing to eugenics, and the authors and mentors who inspired him.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I get myself going again after my writing grinds to a halt?
– what are the best ways to research my novel?
– how can I get over perfectionism in my writing?
– what is the best creative writing exercise?
– can creative writing be taught?
– what’s it like going on a creative writing course?
– what’s the most common mistake writers make?

Get Andrew Cowan’s comprehensive course on how to write fiction, THE ART OF WRITING FICTION.

And I really recommend trying one of his novels.

PIG.

COMMON GROUND.

CRUSTACEANS.

WHAT I KNOW.

WORTHLESS MEN.

And of course if you’d care to support me and my career, please treat yourself or a friend to my novel THE HONOURS.

If you enjoy the podcast and you’d like to help me cover the costs of running it, hosting the audio and the website, you can chuck a few beans into my upturned hat in a couple of clicks here: www.ko-fi.com/timclare

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 37 – Chatting With Tim Pychyl

In this episode I chat to Dr Tim Pychyl, psychologist and head of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University, Canada.

Tim has devoted over 20 years to the ‘breakdown in volitional action’ we call procrastination. Since I get more letters about struggling with procrastination than all other creative writing topics combined so I thought it was worth approaching one of the world’s leading experts on procrastination for advice.

We talk neuroscience, specifically the roles of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in procrastination, and what recent MRI scans of the brains of procrastinators and non-procrastinators have revealed. We talk psychology – what’s going on with procrastinators, what we’re trying to achieve when we procrastinate, and why procrastination fails on its own terms, let alone frustrating us in other ways. We talk statistics – the latest data from various studies all over the world, showing what, verifiably, works and what doesn’t work when we’re trying to reduce procrastination. And to kick it all off we talk semantics – what procrastination is and what it is not, and why being able to distinguish between the two is so essential.

This is, for me, one of the most important episodes out of the 100+ so far that I’ve recorded. I’ve started applying the knowledge Tim gives me in this chat and it’s had such a positive impact on my writing practice and my life. I’m writing much more, I’m having more fun and I find it easier to spot myself procrastinating and step out of it into action. If you suffer from procrastination, I really, really hope you listen and apply the science-based, data-driven advice so you can start giving yourself the rich rewards of diving in and achieving things large and small.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I stop procrastinating?
– what is procrastination?
– why are some people more prone to procrastination than others?
– why do writers procrastinate?

If you want to read more by Tim, check out the website of the Procrastination Research Group where he shares blog posts, podcasts, and all sorts of powerful knowledge on what procrastination is and how we can help free each other from it.

Of course if you want to practise translating dynamic decision-making into immediate action, a great opportunity would be to click this link and buy my weird historical adventure novel set in England in the 1930s, THE HONOURS.

I don’t get any money for making the show. There are no premium episodes for subscribers – it’s all available to everyone for free. If you’d like to help me cover my running costs, such as Soundcloud hosting, website hosting and suchlike, you can drop a few beans into my digital guitar case here.

Thank you.

NEW POEM: JACOB REES-MOGG

I wrote a poem hailing old-fashioned Englishman & Brexit eminence gris Jacob Rees-Mogg. Thought I’d put it up for you on National Poetry Day. What an unusual fellow!

JACOB REES-MOGG

His knightly politeness is known round the counties
Through dewy green pastures of infinite bounties
More courteousness than a passel of mounties
Who is he? Why, Jacob Rees-Mogg

A moment of national peril’s upon us
We need some refinement, a cultured Adonis
A tad less ‘free Tommy’, more ‘liberate Thomas’
That’s better, that’s Jacob Rees-Mogg

So what if he met with that fascist, Steve Bannon
Or nationalist fervour’s the oeuvre he ran on?
It’s softened with nods to the literary canon
Should refugee children be met with compassion?
Nevermore! quoth the Jacob Rees-Mogg

His suits sharp as long knives, his sentiments blunt
His views to the right of both Johnson and Hunt
Cometh the shitshow, cometh the count-
ry gent with grit and national front
Scourge of the foreign! Prince of the pale!
Extracting the fly from our country’s warm ale
It’s the Eurocrats fault if his policies fail
You’re infallible, Jacob Rees-Mogg

And yet you’re attacked – like it’s all just an act
Like your seemly demeanour’s a smoke screen, in fact
Who needs marriage for gays? Or a liveable flat?
Or control of their womb? Here’s some moderate tact
They can’t see you just want the best for your party
Ensconced in your mansion in bluest West Harptree
With just enough sense not to dress like a Nazi
(Just borrow their ethics and zest for autarchy)

As white as a plate of potatoes au gratin
Which – if it were yours – the chef probably spat in
You pepper each lecture with clichés in Latin
‘Yes, I luncheoned with racists who fear Muslim culture
And chant “send them back”. My mistake. Mea culpa.’
‘Did I really say Scots should be put to the sword?
Errare humanum est. Safely ignored.’
‘Would I dissolve parliament? Crown myself king?
Well, look at it this way:
Obligato regatta meccano excelsior quorum etcetera…
That sort of thing.’

A Mail reader’s portrait of class and refinement
Your squeamish obsession with sexual alignment
Leads ignorant critics to label you snooty.
Sex isn’t for pleasure. It’s more of… a duty
Conceiving your scions from Peter to Sixtus
Your countenance locked in a gravedigger’s rictus
While thinking of regional cricketing fixtures
And boys singing carols in churches at Christmas
And queues at the pictures, and pink dolly mixtures
Lawnchairs in wicker. Topiary clippers.
Cycling vicars… Men sipping bitter…
Multiple Hitlers… Britannia Invictus!

When you start each reply ‘Well, it’s quite clear to me,’
I picture you hogtied and dropped in the sea
While envious Frenchmen all pelt you with brie
They wish they were English, that’s all it can be

I hope that you suffer, a martyr for Blighty
A Christlike piñata for downtrodden whitey
Who bears his stigmata oh-so-politely
Like when Nursey would fasten your jodhpurs too tightly

I hope you get debagged while leaving your Bentley
I hope you get teabagged – I hope it’s not gently
I hope you get kneecapped by three lads from Tenby
And left in a bear cage – I hope it’s not empty
You studied at Eton
I hope you were beaten
With bell ropes, I hope that they got the whole street in
And folks stood competing to see who could flog
The spots off that bounder called Jacob Rees-Mogg

O Jacob Rees-Mogg, o Jacob Rees-Mogg
I hope you get eggbound and die on the bog
I hope you get found with your pants round your calves
And your socks stained with faeces, and everyone laughs
I hope someone brown gets their face on a coin
And you weep, and spill scalding Earl Grey in your groin
And your penis gets gangrene and burns when you piss
And falls off and gets lost in a layby, near Diss

O Jacob Rees-Mogg! O Britannia’s last hope!
To gammon-faced racists you’re almost the Pope
I’m afraid that a soul’s something money can’t buy
You’re not King Arthur, Jake
You’re a twat in a tie
You think you’re distinguished
You’re just rich and pinkish
This bullshit we sniff’s just the stink of your privilege
Which zings like a vintage to dim-witted English
Who’d burn down the country to heat up their village
You think you’re St George
I think you’re engorged
At the thought of more wars and the poor staying poor
You take your eggs boiled and your women indoors
And your orders from Tories who sit in the Lords

You look like a maribou stork shitting gorse
Or a headmaster crossed with a mortician’s horse
A skeleton’s butler, a cricket bat’s ghost
An English Von Ribbentrop scraped into toast
You look like a paedophile off to the morgue
A whiff of Gestapo, a touch of the Borg
A vampire enshrouded in mothball-tinged fog
But the truth is more dreadful – you’re Jacob Rees-Mogg

O Jacob Rees-Mogg! O unconscionable cur!
Most punchable fizzog from here to Jaipur
They say you’re a bigot, I have to aver
I’d call you a turd, but to turds that’s a slur
A cheaper grim reaper in overpriced clothes
Who feeds from the colon of Cecil B Rhodes
The pinnacle prick of the parasite class
A soulless and cynical Thatcherite arse

The greed of a grass snake, a frog’s empty stare
With morals so bankrupt, you make us miss Blair
I’m sure you can list when our kings came to power
But not one name of someone who burned in that tower
Or the staff of just one local library shut
Or a suicide who’d had their benefits cut
Or the gay fathers you think aren’t fit to raise kids
Did God tell you they weren’t? I don’t think that He did
I don’t think you know Him – He’s just an excuse
For your capital creamed off systemic abuse
May your conscience constrict round your throat like a noose
Please: pull on your tie till your jowls turn puce

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 36 – Chatting With Ross Sutherland

This episode features me chatting to writer, performer, poet, podcast presenter, film-maker, playwright and educator Ross Sutherland about his work experimenting on words to make them do cool stuff.

His podcast Imaginary Advice recently won Best Fiction Podcast at the British Podcasting Awards, he’s produced work for radio and TV, he’s a legend of the UK poetry scene and his critically-acclaimed solo show Standby For Tape Backup stormed the Edinburgh Fringe and has toured the world. His work is funny, dark, emotive and brain-melting. He’s really cool, you guys. He’s also my mate.

We talk about how he got into writing, his early experiences learning from his grandma and punk poet John Cooper Clarke, how he uses repetition to induce trance states in audiences and get past his own internal censor, and his advice as an experienced creative writing teacher for finding the ‘game’ of a piece of writing. He explains how the work of French experimental literature group the Oulipo inspired him to rip Little Red Riding Hood apart noun by noun, and how he helps teach writers to hack language to create weird, vivid effects. We also talk about what it’s like when you or your work don’t quite fit anywhere, and how to make a virtue out of writing work that’s ‘hard to explain’.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how do I find ideas?
– what should I write about?
– what if my work doesn’t fit into an existing genre?
– what are some warm-up exercises I can do to kickstart my imagination?

You would be foolish indeed not to sample an episode of Ross’s award-winning podcast Imaginary Advice. Here’s the episode he talks about writing towards the end of our chat.

If you like it, please do Ross a big favour and subscribe to it on Soundcloud or iTunes, leave a little review so other folk can find it, share it on your Twitter or Facebook. All that stuff helps so much, and you’re helping someone else stumble across it and have some of the same happiness you did.

If you haven’t read my novel, THE HONOURS, and you like secret tunnels, conspiracies and a 13-year-old girl in the 1930s trying to piece it all together, give your life a massive shot of the good stuff and click here to treat yourself to a glorious copy with free shipping worldwide.

And if you’d like to support the podcast, I appreciate any contributions towards hosting costs. You can drop me something in two clicks here.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 35 – Chatting With Melissa Harrison

In this episode I chat to writer Melissa Harrison about becoming a writer, the pressures of writing, and the process of bringing the past and the natural world to life.

We chat about her new novel ALL AMONG THE BARLEY, how she struggled to admit to herself that she wanted to write, research, farming, fascism, and why we write when, at times, it can be difficult and painful.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how should I research my novel?
– should I keep writing if I’m not enjoying myself?
– how can I find the story amongst the scenes in my head?

If you enjoyed this chat and want more, please support Melissa Harrison by grabbing a copy of her latest novel, ALL AMONG THE BARLEY.

Here’s her Costa-shortlisted novel AT HAWTHORN TIME.

And her first, CLAY.

I really appreciate it when you support authors who give their time to come on the show. Thank you.

If you’re interested in something historical set in the 1930s in England, you might also like my novel THE HONOURS.

And, if you like, you can help me cover the cost of running and recording the podcast by dropping me something here.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 34 – Chatting With Micah Yongo

This episode I chat to debut Fantasy novelist Micah Yongo about his novel of warring assassins and clashing ideologies, LOST GODS.

We get into everything, from working with an editor to researching crossbow physics, to how you go from big ideas and sprawling, complex imaginary worlds down to a story, and the character who’s going to propel you through it. Micah also talks about what it’s like to be published for the first time, building a writing routine, and representation in SFF and beyond.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I turn my ideas for a setting into a story?
– what’s the best sort of character for a Fantasy story?
– how can I research my Fantasy world when it doesn’t exist?
– what it like working with an editor?
– who has the right to write what stories?

I know you are awesome and I can rely on you to treat yourself and support Micah Yongo by ordering LOST GODS right now – do it, it’s ace!

If you’d like to read my work, please order my novel THE HONOURS – you can get it here (shipped anywhere in the world) via awesome indie bookshop Mr B’s Emporium.

And if you want to support the podcast and help me pay for hosting costs and website fees, you can click here and drop me a little something in a couple o’ clicks. Thanks. 

Call For Awesome Unpublished Books!

Hey dear friends. Are you an author? Do you have an unpublished novel you’d like agents or editors to read?

I want to do a bonus episode in a few weeks’ time where I do a pitch rush for a bunch of listeners’ books. So basically, you lot send me in the title, a paragraph of blurb, and a paragraph extract of the actual story. And your name, of course. Then I will read out as many as I’ve got time to read out in an hour. I already know several agents and editors who listen to the show, and I’ll drop a line to a bunch more letting them know it’s happening. So this is a chance for you to potentially get your work heard by a passel of publishing industry professionals, and of course a load of your fellow writers. Also, from your perspective as a listener, it’ll be a chance for you to hear a range of different novel pitches, and ask yourself: which of these hook my interest? Which of these do I actually want to read more of? The best way to learn how to write them and frame your thoughts about your own work is to listen to a bunch of people pitch theirs and develop an ear for the stuff that makes you sit up and think: ‘Ooh!’

I’m quite aware that this will only happen if people are interested and actually submit. If not, no worries. It’s just an idea I had to do something positive and give folks a leg-up, but if it’s not what you’re all after, that’s fine. I haven’t actually asked anyone yet.

If you’d like to submit, please click the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right, and add the heading ‘PITCH RUSH’. Here’s what I want, in the body of the message:

Your NAME

Your novel’s TITLE

A max 100 words BLURB/PITCH telling us what the book’s about. Don’t get too neurotic about getting this exactly right. The stakes are not that high, my friend. Best format is probably like the blurbs you read on the back of books. I’m not asking for a full synopsis. Just a taster of what it’s about. Remember: MAX 100 WORDS.

A max 100 words EXTRACT from anywhere in the novel. Just a bit that you think is cool or interesting or representative that I can read out WITHOUT CONTEXT. So don’t add a preface explaining where this moment comes in the book. I just want a short snippet that gives a flavour. Could be the beginning if you’re stuck. Remember, people will have heard your pitch, so they’ll have some context, but it’s ok if not everything is explained. MAX 100 WORDS.

AN EMAIL ADDRESS I CAN PASS ON IF THERE’S INTEREST (I won’t read this out on air)

That’s it. That’s all I want. No apologies, lengthy explanatory glosses. When sending me a message via the Contact box, don’t send multiple times if you get an error message. It throws up one every so often then I get like 10 copies of the same email as the person sends and resends over and over.

Ok. So please share this post with your fellow authors. I would love to support as many of you as possible, and I hope we can have some fun doing it. PS: I won’t be critiquing the pitches I read out or anything. I feel like that might not be fair. Better to let them stand for themselves.

DEADLINE: Friday 28th September

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 33 – Chatting With Temi Oh

This episode I chat to debut author Temi Oh about her upcoming novel DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? We talk research, handling big casts, giving characters motivation, & novels of ideas.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I research my story if some aspects (like space travel) aren’t accessible to me?
– how can I make sure my characters are well-differentiated?
– how can I handle a big cast in my novel?
– how does Science Fiction deal with big themes?
– how does Science Fiction deal with autobiographical elements?

If you like today’s episode and want to read Temi’s upcoming novel, DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? you can pre-order it here. Pre-ordering makes a huge difference to authors, so I encourage, beseech and coax you towards doing so in this instance, right now.

You can also support me by ordering my novel, THE HONOURS.

And if you’d like to toss a few quid into the podcast’s coffers to help me pay for hosting costs and overheads, you can do so here.

Thank you very much. Your patronage is not just appreciated but essential, and I doff my cloth cap to you.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 32 – Difficult 2nd Novel (Writing Ramble)

In this episode I talk about some things I’ve learned from the 4 year process of writing my 2nd novel, THE ICE HOUSE (out May 2019). This is an unscripted episode where I talk through some of my first thoughts about the process, which at times was not easy, to put it mildly. Like anything difficult, doing this novel and seeing it through to completion has taught me a great deal, and so I break down some key principles which I’m going to be taking with me into future writing projects.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what’s it like writing a novel?
– why are second novels harder than first ones?
– how can I be prolific?
– what are some specific strategies for overcoming blocks and procrastination?
– how should I approach my first draft?
– how should I approach redrafting?

If you like this episode and you’d like to support my writing, please click this link and order yourself a copy of my first novel, THE HONOURS. It will be good prep for reading THE ICE HOUSE.

And if you’d like to support the podcast, please drop me a buck or two via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you. Have a great time writing.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 31 – Chatting With Lauren Groff

In this episode I chat with Lauren Groff, bestselling author of FATES & FURIES, about her latest short story collection, FLORIDA.

We chat about her writing career spanning 6 books thus far, how she moves from short stories to novels, her ways of working, and how she gets her language and characters to sing. (spoiler: I *love* her work – she is really good)

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I improve the language that I use in my stories?
– how can I learn to see the world around me more clearly?
– what are some unusual techniques I can bring to my writing?
– how can poetry help my prose?
– how can I sustain and develop my voice over several projects?

This episode is supported in part by Mslexia Magazine, the UK’s best-selling magazine for women who write. To subscribe, or check out their competitions and submission opportunities, visit: Mslexia.co.uk

You can pick up an issue here.

And subscribe here.

Here’s Lauren Groff’s brilliant latest story collection, FLORIDA – get it now with free worldwide shipping.

And here’s her New York Times bestselling novel FATES AND FURIES.

And hey, you know you’ve been putting it off for ages. Buy my novel, THE HONOURS, and be done with it.

If you’d like to show your support for the show and what I do, I have a Ko-fi page which will help me cover my hosting costs.

Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm. You’re awesome.