Silver Tide signings, excuses to draw dragons, etc


Updates, get your quick and juicy updates!

I don’t know. A lot of sun happened over the weekend and my vampiric genes cope with this by drinking cider, and I’m not quite with it on this Monday morning. Still, I do know there are a few things I should shout about soon:

Firstly, on Saturday the 28th of May I’m off to Waterstones Colchester with Den Patrick and Edward Cox. We’ll be signing books and getting up to the usual hijinks (eating biscuits, mostly) so do come and see us. Of course, Den Patrick is the author of the excellent The Boy with a Porcelain Blade and it’s sequels, and Ed Cox is responsible for the fabulous Relic Guild trilogy. I will be drawing any dragons as required.


On the 16th of July, I’m off to EdgeLit, and I’m taking Super Relaxed Fantasy Club with me. I’ll be popping up on a couple of panels, and along with guest host Pete Newman, we’ll be presenting a special EdgeLit version of SRFC, featuring guest authors Jason Arnopp and Maria Lewis.

On the 23rd of July, I’ll be venturing off to Birmingham Waterstones for more fantasy mayhem, again accompanied by Mr Patrick but also by Peter Newman, author of highly acclaimed The Vagrant and The Malice. We’ll be talking about our books as well as signing them, so expect deep wisdom and sparkling discussion*, as well as increasingly erratic dragon doodles.


In the meantime, The Silver Tide has been making its way in the world, picking up some lovely reviews, which I am dead chuffed about. Captain America: Civil War was good, wasn’t it? Team Ironman all the way. Oh and also in July The Copper Promise makes its way to the US and Canada, thanks to the awesome automatons at Angry Robot. I can’t wait!



The Iron Ghost – Well and Truly Launched

Well, that was the launch that launched. That launcheded. Launched right up the bracket. Good lord.

The Iron Ghost is out in the world, and now that the dust is settled I thought I would do a quick round up post of the last two weeks – what I remember of it at least, which is mainly a sense of mingled joy and panic. There will be pictures and links mostly, and a big fat THANK YOU to all of you lovely people who supported me over the last fortnight.


O my god it’s full of stars


First of all Den Patrick and I kicked things off at Kingston Waterstones, where we essentially interviewed each other, signed some books, and consumed these ridiculously gigantic hot chocolates. It was bigger than my head. Big thanks to Neil Atkinson and Waterstones Kingston for hosting us and being lovely.

Next up was Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. The last time I read at SRFC, there were about ten people in attendance – it’s grown a little since then, so I was very glad to see a lot of friendly faces when I did my reading and Q&A. I also got to tell people “This is the book where everyone gets laid!” which always pleases me.


I have yet to take a decent photo at SRFC. Here is Den, I assume, gesturing.

And then the launch! I rocked up to Forbidden Planet, was generally alarmed by the number of people there, and then signed lots of books and doodled increasingly erratic dragons. HUGE thanks to everyone who came along, it really meant a lot and I had the best time ever, basically.


That rare thing: A sober photo of me at the launch


The queue!


The amazingly beautiful (and tasty) dragon biscuits!


The gorgeous drinking horn given to me by the fabulous Edward Partridge, along with amazing mead amazing people gave me <3


I don’t know. This just seems to be the sort of thing that happens to me at the pub…

Anyway, there are a lot more photos of me on that night, none of them particularly dignified. I was hungover for two days, and it was totally worth it.

I had a breather after that, and then up to Milton Keynes where I hung out at the Waterstones there. A dalek came out to meet me, which I thought was a nice touch.


Daleks apparently approve of sword and sorcery based fantasy. Who’d have thought it?

While all this was going on, I was also writing blog posts like a boss. They came out all over the place and if I’m honest I completely lost track, so here’s a quick list of them all in case you were curious/collecting them all/really desperately bored at work and in need of something to read:

The Friday Five at Pornokitsch: Five Cartoons that will Improve your Life

The Pinocchio Factor at The non-human and the search for humanity

Putting the Fun in Fantasy at FantasyFaction

Watership Down, or the Film that Made Me at Civilian Reader

A Tourist’s Guide to the Best and Worst SFF Cities at Gollancz

Interview over at Joanne Hall’s blog

Interview over at Fantastical Librarian

and bonus material, two blogs on this here site:

What happens when I’m stuck: Writing and Dick Jokes 

The Eight Stages of the First Draft


Phew, that was a lot of waffle, wasn’t it? Huge thanks to everyone who hosted me over the last couple of weeks, you are all absolute stars.

So, The Iron Ghost is out in the world. There have been some lovely reviews and mentions knocking about already –

The Independent (would you believe it!)

The British Fantasy Society 

Fantasy Faction

Starburst Magazine

Jet Black Ink

The Iron Ghost was a scary book to write. I never expected to be published, let alone to be writing a sequel to a published book, and I sweated blood and chewed lumps out of my desk and generally agonized over it, but in the end I loved that book. It’s very strange and wonderful to see it now, sitting on the shelf next to its sister, and I can’t thank enough the people who have read these books and taken the characters to their hearts. All your support – the kind words, the general enthusing, the reviews – has meant the world. And I’ll see you back here for book 3, I hope!


My babies!

The Eight Stages of the First Draft

I’m in Milton Keynes on Saturday! Yes. If you’re in the area, pop along to Waterstones between 12 and 2pm and I’ll totally draw a dragon in your book. At some point I will do a proper blog about the release of The Iron Ghost and how ridiculously fabulous it has been, but until then…



You have been waiting to write this book forever. You have been cradling this first chapter in your mind-bosom for months, and finally it is here. The first ten thousand words or so pass as if in some muffin-scented dream, and everything about this book is amazing. This is it. This is the book that expresses your soul in its purest form. Your writing has never been better and nothing can stop you.



The initially euphoric energy has been expended, and you start to slow down. Plots and characters are marching along certain paths now rather than running giddily around open fields, but that’s okay, because there is The Plan. It’s mostly composed of the densely written post-it notes that cover your corkboard and fill your groaning notebooks, and it will sustain you through this tricky period. Okay, so you might have had to go back and make some adjustments already because The Book is already veering away somewhat from The Plan, but that’s alright because this is the first draft and that kind of crazy, seat-of-your-knickers thinking is what the first draft is for. Everything is fine.



Everything is not fine. You are perhaps just over halfway through the book, or at least so far in to the draft that starting all over again feels a little like throwing yourself willingly into the Sun, and abruptly nothing makes sense. Why are the characters behaving like this? You have no idea. What happens in the next few chapters? The Plan is suspiciously silent. You realise that you’ve forgotten about at least two characters who last made an appearance thirty thousand words ago, and the names of several key places have changed at least twice. What is this staggering pile of nonsense? In fact, there’s this other book project that you’ve been fiddling about with in your time away from this book, and that one is starting to look a lot sexier. And easier. And like it would make a lot more sense than this current appalling mess. Temptation eats at you, but the wordcount, the wordcount won’t let you go. You take to forcing yourself to sit at the desk, even if you end up spending half an hour glaring at your laptop and rage-eating Chunky Peanut Butter Kit-Kats. The Plan gets revisited, half of it is thrown out. You change the ending. You change the beginning. You change your trousers.



Breakthrough! You are having a shower or rooting around behind the Playstation trying to find a lost Lego figure when BOOOOM part of the book-jigsaw randomly slots into place and not only does the book make sense again, it makes sense in ways you could never have imagined! You scramble for notebooks and post-its, grinning manically as you joy-scoff at least three Chunky Peanut Butter Kit-Kats. You cover the corkboard in your most neon coloured Post-its (possibly enhanced with felt-tip pen), blithely covering over old, stupid bits of The Plan with the new, excellent bits. You contemplate that this feeling might be the best part of being a writer – finding the solution that makes it work – and how frustrating it is that your mind likes to drop it on you while you’re thinking about something else, and not, for example, during the three hours of resolute glaring at your laptop. You are still a genius though.



Serious, unending, stoic-faced graft. You are pounding out the words, putting the hours in, and this book is getting it’s ass written, baby. You nurture the idea that you are dedicated and selfless, that every inch of you is a writing machine. You imagine friends and family gently taking your arm, genuine concern writ large on their faces. “But please, don’t you think you should rest? I know you are doing important work, my darling, but…” You brush their cheek, your eyes full of gentle regret. “I cannot stop,” you say, staring off into the distance. “Dragons do not write themselves.”



Things are out of control. When will this book ever end? The Plan does not say. The Plan promises there are only a handful of chapters left, but this is a blatant lie. Subplots need to be resolved, new characters are turning up out of nowhere, you’ve forgotten the place names again and replaced them with new ones, and your desk is awash in Chunky Peanut Butter Kit-Kat wrappers and dirty mugs. You don’t know when it will end, but you need it to, and soon. You rearrange the toys on your desk with a perplexed, faintly stunned expression on your face – when did I buy this My Little Pony? – and periodically stand up and wander around the room. You feel as though you have come unstuck in time somehow. Have you always been writing this book? Are you in fact trapped in a black hole somewhere? Will the Chunky Peanut Butter Kit-Kats run out one day?



The last chapter is here. You storm through it, alternating between laughing wildly and sobbing uncontrollably. Now it’s here, you are sad to see it go – sad to see the characters go, who have been with you all the way: doing their own thing, surprising you, putting up with you when you forget their names or how many weapons they own or what sort of injuries they’ve sustained lately. How will you cope without them?

You write the final line – something pithy and emotionally impactful, which you know in your heart will change at least six times before anyone else reads it. You pour yourself a drink, and contemplate the Book of Your Heart. You shed a tear or two, and consider giving up kit-kits. At least the chunky ones.



The edit. You don’t remember writing any of this, for fucks sake…

This week: What am I even doing?

Stuff and things are happening! And will continue to happen this week, so I’m going to write some of them down here (mostly for my own reference because I am easily distracted at the moment.

On Saturday Den Patrick and I sauntered on down to Kingston Waterstones and did a little chat about books, covering things like magic, horror, diversity and how weird Alien would have been with Harrison Ford in Ripley’s role. It was lovely to see The Iron Ghost in an actual shop for the first time, and we signed some books too. Huge thanks to everyone who popped along and the lovely booksellers (and I will have to go back because Kingston has items of HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE that I must look at further and also a Five Guys)


Den and his Lego mini-fig, which had a unicorn costume. He wasn’t best pleased.

I have been doing things on the internet.

Over at I wrote a post called The Pinocchio Factor, about non-humans and what their struggle towards humanity means in terms of story and identity (which sounds mega serious but is mostly about Data from Star Trek). I am dead proud to have a post on because they always have tons of interesting stuff on there.

I was interviewed over at the lovely Joanne Hall’s blog, where I had a minor rant about diversity in fantasy…

And at SF Signal I wrote a guest post about my five favourite women in fantasy who don’t have time for your nonsense.

And for Civilian Reader I wrote a blog post about how important it was for me to watch Watership Down as a kid so it messed me up good and proper.

There was also a little blog about the writing process that people seem to have enjoyed, so I’m going to blatantly plug it again here. There you go.

IronGhost_v2 jpg jpg

Pretty cover is pretty.

And on Tuesday the 24th of February I will again be teaming up with Den to do a reading at Super Relaxed Fantasy Club – normally we host the meet-up of course, so there is a particular kind of pressure to not be really dreadful at this. Hence, my reading will be very short. Hooray!

Thursday is the big one. On the 26th of February at 6pm I will be launching The Iron Ghost at Forbidden Planet. I will sign books for anyone who wants one (I have been working on a new dragon for this book..) and there will be biscuits and the pub afterwards. It would be truly awesome to see you there. Yes, YOU!



My Complicated February; Or, my book is nearly here, HALP

This is going to be one of those posts where I have a lot of different things to tell you, so I’m chucking them all together in one place. Efficiency FTW!

Firstly, enormously excited that The Copper Promise was featured in FantasyFaction’s Top 50 Fantasy Books of 2014, and it made the top 5! Seriously, I spent all of yesterday in some sort of stunned daze about this. There are so many great writers on that list, it has blown my tiny mind.


Secondly, Sorrow’s Isle is out now and available to download for 99 of your human pennies. It’s a short story set in the world of The Copper Promise before the events of the first book, and it also includes a little preview of The Iron Ghost (which is out in 26 days, ye gods, the terror).

SorrowsIsle_ecover jpg



So yes, tomorrow is February, which is the month where I officially start to panic in a big way. The Iron Ghost, the sequel to The Copper Promise, is out on the 26th. Aieeeee. So if you haven’t read The Copper Promise yet, that’s practically loads of time to catch up… I’m doing a few signings and stuff where I will attempt to scrawl a dragon in your copy (please note I am usually very nervous at these things so the dragons may be somewhat wobbly. I think it adds to their character).

IronGhost_v2 jpg jpg

First up, on the 21st of February Den Patrick and I will be teaming up to chat about books and nonsense at Kingston Waterstones, where you can pick up copies of Den’s excellent books in the Erebus Sequence, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and The Boy Who Wept Blood. It’ll also likely be the earliest you can grab a copy of The Iron Ghost too!

Then on the 24th, Den and I will be taking over Super Relaxed Fantasy Club for the evening, with readings and Q&As and lots of chat. As usual we’ll be at the Sky Bar at the Grange Hotel in Holborn from 6.30pm.


On Thursday the 26th of February, it’s the big one for me – launching The Iron Ghost at Forbidden Planet! We had such an excellent time last year with The Copper Promise I am super excited to do it again, whilst also slightly terrified at the same time of course. There will be pub shenanigans afterwards, and possibly the spectacle of an overwhelmed author clutching both books to her bosom and calling them her “precious babies”.

So, February. Highly likely to kick my arse all over the shop, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing The Iron Ghost out in the world as well as catching up/meeting people for the first time. I hope I will get to see you all at some point!


The Terrifying Passage of Time, Or, Two Months on from Being Published

Today is the 19th of April, which means it’s been about two months since I launched The Copper Promise at Forbidden Planet. It feels like that was roughly an eyeblink ago, but no, two whole months have zoomed past, and now it’s bloody Easter already.

Forbidden Planet - so bamboozled I forgot to eat any cake.

Forbidden Planet – so bamboozled I forgot to eat any cake.

It’s been an interesting couple of months. I suspect it has gone quickly because I’ve been working like crazy on the follow up to The Copper Promise, with an actual deadline looming over my head, but also because it’s been filled with the surreal experience of people reading my book. Friends and acquaintances have sent me photos of my book in bookshops, which is strange and lovely enough, and readers have got in touch to tell me if they enjoyed it, and who were their favourite characters. Stuff like that. For someone who believed a short while ago that they would probably never be published, that’s pretty amazing.

Clapham Books

Clapham Books

Waterstones Cardiff

Waterstones Cardiff


One of the things I didn’t realise before I hit the alarmingly steep learning curve that is being a published writer, is that you have to be thinking about several books at once. While I’m talking to people about book 1, I’m editing book 2, planning book 3, and contemplating books beyond The Copper Promise series. After feeling like writing is such a slow process, everything suddenly seems incredibly fast; after all, this time next year people will be reading book 2, and I will have just finished book 3. No wonder my perception of time is wonky.

Waterstones Milton Keynes

Waterstones Milton Keynes

Waterstones Manchester

Waterstones Manchester

Anyway. I just wanted to say another huge thank you to everyone who read The Copper Promise, everyone who came along to the launch and to the interview at Blackwells, everyone who has sent me a photo of the book out in the wild or sitting on their sofas, everyone who has written a review (you ROCK), everyone who has contacted me to say kind things, everyone who took these characters to their hearts, as I did, all those booksellers who put the book out on display… Basically, everyone. Writing reviews and talking about the book – these things are incredibly important to a debut author, and you have all helped me more than you can ever know.

In a dodgy tavern somewhere, with a leaking roof and a number of swords leaning by the fireplace, Wydrin the Copper Cat of Crosshaven is pouring another glass of mead and toasting your health.