One door closes

It is with regret that I’ve found out that KGHH is now defunct. The people at the publisher are creating a new publishing entity (restructuring etc.) but as this will take some time and my books will not be available during that time with them I have asked for my rights back. (I’ll be checking my actual rights when it comes to end of contract etc.)

A Tiding of Magpies will have a new home once I have the rights back (I have an offer on it already) but Sick City Syndrome will be out of print and unavailable for the foreseeable. I have some hard copies of both so if you have been waiting there are a limited number so best get one while you still can!

I’m still working on The Certainty of Dust which is very close to submission copy. As it was going to be published by KGHH I now have to find a new home for it – and also for The Museum For Forgetting (Which is not yet submission ready anyway.)

My next project was going to be on spec anyway so this brings that process – of approaching agents/editors – a little sooner than planned.

This happens in publishing – I know a few people who struggled to get their rights back from imprints that folded so I know it won’t be overnight.

All the anthologies are still for sale and Seven Deadly Swords too. I shall be back with additional books soon!

It’s come at a strange time (obviously the Covid thing makes life very weird) while I’m close to completing a novel and also taking the opportunity of spending many weeks trapped indoors to have a period of reflection. I’ve taken a social media break (No Facebook or Twitter), which has lasted a week now and I’ve missed it a loss less than I thought I would. So I’m re-evaluating my relationship with those platforms and what I want to use them for. The reason I wanted a break was to concentrate on delivering a piece of writing, but also, as a secondary bonus, a method of becoming less distracted.

Like many writers I also have a day job, and I’m working from home. But the fact I no longer have a commute and am no longer going out means I have more time to write. But as many writers have already pointed out – living through a crisis makes it harder to write. Also at the beginning – before this became a new normal – I seemed to be busier with socialising (via video calls instead of in person) than I was before the lockdown. That has tailed off a little now. As my location has become static I’ve taken the opportunity to take life slower. I’ve been trying to build new habits and procrastinate less too.

So, this is bad news (some of my books no longer being available) but as the old adage has it – one door closes, and another opens. I’ll just have to find out where that other door is and steal a key or kick it down and now I think I’ve taken that image as far as it will go…

Before the lockdown I was lucky enough to attend (with my Festival of Literature hat on) a Penguin social event and picked up several ARCs (and being in lockdown has allowed me to read them) – I also got a couple of ARCs from those wonderful people at Titan.

I can thoroughly recommend The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams:


liars disctionary

And Eden by Tim Lebbon



These are both great reads (and wildly different from each other obviously!)

Here’s hoping you stay safe – happy reading & happy writing!





Lock down head down


<Looks up from a pile of scribbles>

What’s that? Oh yeah – I’m alive and I’m working hard on the latest revision of The Certainty of Dust which is now looking more like a novel. I’m just taking a very quick break from the word mines as I’ve received a little bad news about the books. Seems that KGHH has run into an issue with Amazon and neither Sick City Syndrome nor A Tiding of Magpies are available to purchase right now. If you’ve waited this long to buy a copy it looks like you’ve waited too long. Not sure how things will move forward from here but rest assured that Seven Deadly Swords is still for sale as are all the anthologies I’ve edited.

More news soon (for a given value of soon)

Edit: Since a couple of people have assumed this is a stock issue I’ll just clarify that the books are effectively now out of print. The publisher is closed down.


Remember me to one who lives there


Things have got weird but we always have stories right? And this unassuming set of tales is due to drop in a little less than 24 hours.

It seems like a long time ago (it was) when we discussed these three anthologies from Grimbold Books (Lost Gods and Unexpected Heroines are also due out soon) and a lot of things have happened in the personal lives of all involved. Then the virus hit.

The original plan to release all three at the same time and do a big launch in a bookshop has gone astray. Plan B to launch one by one has also gone slightly awry now we all live under house arrest.

But maybe that’s OK. We all need stories of hope in these times. We know there are heroes out there working tirelessly on our behalf. We see the medics and first responders and their heroism is writ a little larger than usual. There are also the usually forgotten heroes – the truck drivers, the postmen, the shop workers. They’re needed to keep society going – but aren’t usually celebrated as the heroes they clearly are. And that means we, the ones locked in our houses, the non-key workers, we need our stories. Stories for when the little guy made a difference.

This is a small book but I think it packs a punch.

You can buy it on Amazonof course – usually I’d tell you to support the small bookshops, but they are closed, and the distributors and wholesalers are also closed. So just this once get yourself the e-book. You can always buy a hard copy later – and maybe, once we can roam abroad and revel in our freedom once more we can meet and swap tales.

Sound the Retreat!

This weekend I’ll be attending my first writing retreat (but not my last as I’m also booked onto Milford in September.) I’m not entirely sure what to expect but aim to create a revision plan for Certainty and write the first draft of at least 1 story for Museum (and maybe more!) as well as have a lot of conversations with the other attending writers about writing.

I’ve had two short story sales so far this year – which is one more than last year and possibly shows that I’m getting my mojo back – or at the very least writing more. More info on them when it becomes available.

I shall be attending Stokercon in April and have planned to attend FantasyConand BristolCon too.

You can now pre-order Forgotten Sidekicks from Amazon here and it will come out on the 2nd April. I’ve got a proof copy and it looks gorgeous!

You can also pre-order the Alchemy Press book of Horrors 2 which I have a story in which is due to be launched at StokerCon

I guess that’s all the news fit to print for now – I’ll do a blog post about the writing retreat after the weekend.

Everything is banal and jejune (or what I learned about writing by growing a beard)

When my beard was short I got a lot of comments that I looked like this guy


Last year I let my beard grow (mostly – it does get tidied now and then)

And now I think I look like

john fowles

But what lots of other people think I look like

father xmas

I mean, obviously a lot more comments around the festive season but I’ve been getting it throughout the year.

What’s all this got to do with writing?


I think you can teach people writing – the skill of crafting a good sentence (although I have met a couple of people who had a tin ear for prose and also couldn’t be taught) but it’s a lot harder to teach someone to have an imagination. Which ties into the ‘where do you get your ideas from’ question that all writers get asked.

Some people see me and think “Father Christmas” – fair enough, I’m a larger gentleman with Irish genes which means white hair and white beard. I suspect most people keep that observation to themselves and it is only a small subset who have to blurt it out. So why are they drawn to say ‘it’s Father Christmas’ as if it’s a) something that’s hilarious and b) at all original.

It’s the second one that has a bearing on writing. You want to be original (there are of course shades of originality from Avant-Garde to ‘Same-same but different.’) You want a balance, but be like Frost and take the road less traveled:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Because what first occurs to you might seem fresh and original – because it’s only just occurred to you. But if it’s the first idea to come to mind you can bet that it’s the obvious idea. I didn’t think the ‘it’s Father Christmas’ was amusing the first time I heard it so hearing it over and over has become incrementally less amusing… the more an idea is flogged the less interesting it becomes. OK so there’s only supposed to be seven plots but you’ve got to give it a fresh spin or the only people you’ll appeal to are the ones who haven’t heard it before.

Avoid banality and don’t just write the first idea that comes to you.