release: Inheritance of Shadows

I’m pleased to announce that Inheritance of Shadows is available today!

This is the story that I wrote monthly for my newsletter subscribers. It was an extremely stressful experience that I won’t be repeating in the same manner- it was like having an essay deadline every month and ripped my nerves to shreds!

However… I really like the finished story. It’s a 35.5k novella and the first part incorporates The Gate, which was the first thing I ever wrote in the Lost in Time universe and is floating around the internet for free. I wanted to find out what happened to Matty and Rob after the end of the story and this is the result. Scroll down for an excerpt!

It’s 1919. Matty returns home to the family farm from the trenches only to find his brother Arthur dying of an unknown illness. The local doctor thinks cancer, but Matty becomes convinced it’s connected to the mysterious books his brother left strewn around the house.

Rob knows something other than just Arthur’s death is bothering Matty. He’s know him for years and been in love with him just as long. And when he finds something that looks like a gate, a glowing, terrifying doorway to the unknown, it all starts to fall in to place.

Matty’s looking sicker and sicker in the same way Arthur did. What is Rob prepared to sacrifice to save him?

The answer is in the esoteric books…and with the mysterious Lin of the Frem, who lives beyond the gate to nowhere. It’s taken Matty and Rob more than a decade to admit they have feelings for each other and they are determined that neither social expectations or magical illness will part them now.

A stand-alone 35k novella set in the Lost in Time Universe.

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Inheritance of Shadows (Lost in Time #0.6)

Inheritance of Shadows

Excerpt: A recuperating kind of peace

The Treaty of Versailles had been registered with the League of Nations late in October. Matty had felt an enormous sense of relief that the peace was formal now, signed and sealed by the high-ups. Fritz having to pay for all the damage he had caused everyone by sucking them into four years of war seemed only fair. That had been one of the topics of conversation when they had gone down to the County Cinema in Taunton with Mrs Beelock and her daughter a week before to watch the Pathé newsreel of the two minutes silence at the new Cenotaph in London.

However, it was a stunned, waiting, recuperating kind of peace for them both, Matty thought. He was reeling still, from coming home and from Arthur’s death. Rob was gathering himself together almost visibly, losing that overlay of Sergeant Curland and returning full-time to Rob who the neighbours knew was a good man to ask for a hand with their hedges.

He could feel them growing again, on the cusp of moving forward. Rob spent his nights in Matty’s bed in the house instead of in the barn. Annie Beelock only came in mid-morning now, her health needing her to rest, and it was a luxurious thing, this waking in the arms of someone he loved. They had fallen into it with ease and familiarity, eating whatever Mrs Beelock cooked for dinner for all the farm men like they usually did, having bread and cheese and cake for tea once she’d gone, and washing up companionably together; and then settling in front of the fire with the books. They had fallen into a pattern that Matty imagined would be like being married. If men could marry the people they loved.

The war had shifted something inside them both. Coming so close to so much death meant that neither of them were inclined to waste more time. They saw what would make them happy and had grabbed it with both hands. That didn’t solve the problem of the books.

Although, it wasn’t really the books that were the issue. It was more that Matty was failing. Not as quickly as Arthur had, for whatever reason. He could feel it in his bones. It could have been no more than the normal slowing down of his body for the winter. But it wasn’t. A glorious, dry, clear, and cold October had morphed into a bitterly cold November. It made him think back to the last autumn of the war, with the angels’ wings of blue and gold arching with a kind of glorious, terrible disinterest over the ants of humanity crawling around in the mud.

He had the same feeling now. The bitter frosts, the clear blue skies of the onset of winter, made him feel like the world was waiting for something to happen. Watching him with a lack of interest that bordered on not noticing him at all. He was failing. He knew it and Rob knew it.

“What’s to be done, then?” Rob had asked one Sunday morning in early October as they were moving the churns of milk out to the block by the lane where the carter would pick them up to take to the station. “I don’t like the look of you, lad. And I don’t want you to go west like Arthur.” He obviously felt awkward bringing it up and had steeled himself to flank Matty with the question as they were working. Matty was getting tired more easily and he supposed that there was no hiding from Rob his diminished appetite and weight loss.

He launched the last of the churns up on to the platform and stepped back, taking his cap off, and wiping his brow with his sleeve. “I’m glad that’s done. I like giving Jimmy the Sunday off, but it all takes longer.”

“Jimmy’s wife’s got him painting the bedroom, he said. She took him out to buy the paint last weekend.” Rob allowed Matty to prevaricate, but as they turned back to walk up the drive, he had put his hand on Matty’s arm. “Matty. I’m serious.”

Matty shrugged his hand off gently. “I know you are. I don’t know. This was Arthur’s enterprise, not mine. I run a farm. He was the brains.”

Rob had looked at him long and hard. “Do you really think that?” he’d asked quietly. “Because you’re wrong. You might have chosen not to follow the same line as Arthur, but you and he have the same amount up here,” he tapped Matty’s head, “however you choose to use it. So, don’t give me any of that.” He had returned Matty’s solemn stare. “We’ll work it out. I promise you. I’ve waited more than a ten-year for you. I’m not losing you to this. Whatever it is.”

So, they kept on with the books.

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interview: Lillian Francis

A big welcome to Lillian today, who has come to talk about the re-release of her fantastic story New Lease of Life!

1. Why are you doing this interview?

I have finally got my arse in gear and re-released my old DSP title, New Lease of Life. For those who are wondering it’s more or less the same, just in UK English and with a newly added epilogue. Of course if you already have the book from before I’ll be releasing the epilogue as a freebie chapter on Prolific Works, so no need to rush out and buy a new copy.

2. What started you writing?

I’d been writing on and off since my teens, and loved English at school (lit and language), but I never really finished anything that wasn’t connected to school work. I drifted away from it for a while, but then I watched Torchwood, discovered livejournal and a previously unknown group of people writing fanfic and the rest, as they say, is history. Two years of (mostly AU) fanfic and I was encouraged to write my own stuff by a published author/fanficcer. So that’s what I did.

3. Where do you write?

Mostly at the dining room table if I’m using the laptop. But if I’m writing old style I love being in a park or the garden.

4. What do you like to read?

I grew up on Enid Blyton, Tintin, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Willard Price.

Progressed to golden age mysteries, noir, and historical mysteries in my 20s and 30s, and I still enjoy picking those up today.

These days it’s mostly gay romance, but that covers a mass of sub genres. So I can still get my cosy mysteries or thrillers or noir private eyes, just with a gay relationship at its heart.

8.  Tell me a little bit about your most recent release?

New Lease of Life was originally published in 2015 by Dreamspinner Press. Due to their troubles I got the rights back last year. The idea I attribute to chap I would see on my drive into work every day. He had one of those hospital metal crutches but it never seemed to help him, in fact he always looked so uncomfortable. And I wondered what he his story was, and what his life had been like before whatever had happened that left him in his current predicament, and Pip was born.

I think it took about three months to write and I found the vintage fashion stuff really interesting. A lot of Pip’s clothing choices are things I would chose to wear if I had a different body shape and a lot more money!

What did I hate? Fighting DSP to keep every bloody English expression. It was exhausting.

New Lease of Life

Cover art by Paul Richmond

There’s a fine line between independence and isolation.

Phillip used to laugh a lot, back when his friends called him Pip. However the good deed that left him hospitalised not only marred his body, it stripped him of his good humour too. Ever since, he has pushed his friends away and shut out the world. Donating his vintage clothing to a charity shop should have been the final act in a year-long campaign to sever the links with the man Pip used to be, but the stranger on his doorstep awakens feelings in Pip that he hasn’t experienced since the incident that left him angry at the world and reliant on the cold metal of the hideous hospital-issue crutch.

Colby forces his way into Pip’s life, picking at the scab of his past. Colby isn’t interested in Pip’s money or his expensive address. He has only one goal: to make Pip smile again.

With every moment in Pip’s presence, Colby chips away at the walls Pip has built around himself. Pip knows it’s impossible to fight his attraction with Colby’s sunny disposition casting light into the darkness in his soul. 

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About Lillian

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, their Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hobnobs and they can lose themself for weeks. Romance was never their reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including themself, to discover a romance was exactly what they’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery they always assumed they’d write.

Lillian Francis. Author of gay romance. Happy Endings guaranteed. Eventually.

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interview: Jess Faraday

Jess has subjected herself to my nosy questions today! Morning, Jess! Why have you put yourself at my mercy?

I’m promoting the wide release of my short story collection, Shadow of Justice on March 10. Shadow of Justice is the eight collected Simon Pearce stories, which had previously been available on KU only. Now they’re available in all formats and paperback, from all of your favorite e-tailers.

What started you writing?

My family has a philosophy that nothing is one hundred percent terrible if you can get a good story out of it. I remember so many evenings after dinner with my parents, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents, where we took turns telling stories about funny things that had happened to us, getting up and acting out the stories with different voices and exaggerated movements, laughing until our sides hurt. It was only a matter of time before someone started writing things down. The science fiction author Julian May is a distant cousin, so she got there first. But I guess it’s my job, too.

My first story was a graphic novel about a lonely vampire who liked to pop through the bedroom windows of unsuspecting naked ladies. He was always sad because he would fall in love with them, but was a vampire, so, you know. I was about nine, and I think the naked part kind of startled my parents, but in my mind it was a tragic story of forbidden love more than anything else.

Where do you write?

I usually write at home, either at the standing desk in my office or at the kitchen counter. Sometimes, if it’s cold and dark and nasty in the morning, I will be very naughty and work in my jammies in bed well into midmorning. Sometimes I like to go to the National Museum to write. I was surprised once, last year, when the new Egyptian exhibit featured the mummies upon which I’d based one of the subplots in The Star-Crossed Lovers, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, who were interred together and believed to be one of the oldest gay couples in recorded history.

What do you like to read?

That really depends. Under normal circumstances, I love to read historical mysteries. I’m having a bit of a thing with some of the newer gothic romances right now, too. I’ve just burned through Amanda de Wees’s delightful Sybil Ingraham mysteries, and wish there were about 20 more. And I love monster mash-ups that are done half tongue in cheek. I’m currently reading Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, and it’s very well done and quite entertaining. If I’m having a stressful time I enjoy a good, schlocky cozy mystery or a well-written romance — any sort of pairing. Love is love and all.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

I HAVE TO CHOOSE?????

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I belong to the Edinburgh Genre Writers, which meets fortnightly to crit members’ work. It’s quite a bit different from the American writing groups I’ve belonged to, where feedback was generally like “This is really, really great, but you might want to think about this little thing right here, but only if you want to, this is only my opinion, just saying.” My current group’s feedback is more like “Right. Here’s an itemized list of everything that’s wrong with this piece, your work in general, and that hideous tie you’re wearing. But don’t give up. We’ve seen worse, now let’s go to the pub.” It was a shock at first, but once I realized it was cultural, I learned to take up the valuable feedback and brush off the sting. We have a few more American members, now, and it’s always interesting to see the difference in how we present feedback, as opposed to our UK colleagues.

I’m also a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers, though I’m not particularly active with them. And I look forward, of course to UK Meet every two years.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? (What’s your favourite food? Do you have any pets? Do you like to exercise? Netflix? Juggling? Are you learning anything new?)

I run and do taekwondo. I’ve been doing both for a long time, but I started running seriously about a year and a half ago, when I decided to train for a half marathon. I really enjoy those long distances, now, and I try to get out five days a week, weather permitting, which is Scotland, it often is not. I also like to knit and crochet for charity.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

A few years ago, I wrote a novella for Blind Eye Books, The Kissing Gate, which appears in the anthology Blades of Justice. The publisher asked if I wanted to write a short story to give away as a promotional teaser. The Kissing Gate was f/f, but since many of my other books are m/m, the publisher floated the idea of writing a story about Constable Simon Pearce, who appears briefly in The Kissing Gate, with the very briefest of hints about his own personal life. Somehow, during the discussion of the story, it spun itself into eight novelettes with a personal arc that runs throughout them.

What did I like and hate about writing it? Interestingly, the same things. The editor/publisher, Nicole Kimberling, is very hands-on, and would often suggest structural or thematic changes to the stories that sent me back to the drawing board, sometimes more than once per story. I hated that, but at the same time, her suggestions were often really interesting, and took the stories to some really cool places.I can imagine it would be a frustrating way to work for someone who is very precious about their words and their art, but I’m not. I live and work on both sides of the red pen, and I’m most interested in putting out a kick-ass story, so if someone has a suggestion that’s objectively better than what I’ve done, I don’t have any ego about taking that suggestion.

It took literally three times longer to complete the cycle than I’d planned for, but ultimately, I’m really proud of how it all turned out.

Book blurb and buy links!

Buy Shadow of Justice

Constable Simon Pearce doesn’t believe in love. It’s a dangerous proposition for many people in 19th century London, but for an ambitious copper climbing Scotland Yard’s greasy career ladder, it’s out of the question.

He doesn’t believe in monsters, either, though there seem to be a lot of them about. Whether it’s a ghost haunting a London churchyard where men seek men’s companionship, a phantom hound in Edinburgh that’s hell-bent on revenge, or a murdered businessman on a cross-country train who just won’t stay dead — the mysterious has a way of finding Pearce, whether he wants it to or not.

But are these happenings truly supernatural? Or is something worse — something thoroughly human — to blame?

Pearce has his theories — about crime, about monsters, and about love. But life has a way of testing even the most carefully considered ideas. And as he chases mysteries from one end of Britain to the other, he may just have to reconsider his ideas about all three.

Find Jess!

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The Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum at Bath

The second scene in The Flowers of Time has Jones and Edie meeting for the first time at Lady Nailsbourne’s ball, at her house in London. Jones is pretty far out of her comfort zone, poured in to a smart dress and corseted within an inch of her life. It’s 1780 and neither of them wear wigs-they had gone out fashion for ladies a few decades before-but they would probably have had hair pieces to bulk out their own hair and have lightly powdered them an off-white colour.

I dragged my family to Bath one day last year and we visited the Assembly Rooms and the Fashion Museum tucked in the basement of the building. I was looking for inspiration. I found various dresses that were definitely worthy of Edie and one or two that I could see Jones wearing.

I had already written the scene and I was really cheered to see virtually the dress I’d described for Edie on display. It’s the fourth one along in this montage, with a light pink gown over a contrasting petticoat. I can also see her in dress numbers one and three, puttering around painting. I can picture Jones in two and five, extremely uncomfortable and feeling very out of place. If you want to find out more about the different kinds of fashionable gowns for ladies at the time I recommend this post by Costumeholic.

We then found this working man’s frock coat from about 1790. It’s a little later than the story, but working men’s fashions wouldn’t have changed that much and I can see Jones comfortable in something like this as she travels around exploring and later as she does her science experiments.

Ordinary work-a-day clothes tend not to survive because they were worn ‘til they wore out and/or were ‘made over’ for other people and purposes, so this is very unusual. Clothes were incredibly high value and very expensive before the advent of factory production, so your average working class adult would probably only have two sets at a time.

I had a bit of a to-and-fro with my lovely editor about the use of bodies to describe the stays that Edie wears on her travels and in the end we decide to keep it. Working women who dressed by themselves without the help of a maid to lace them still wore a kind of corset called a pair of bodies. This was for practical reasons to support the back and bosom as well as to give them a bit of help with their figure and they generally laced up the front as well as the back. There is a fascinating reconstruction of an ordinary person getting herself dressed in the morning here on YouTube from Crows Eye Productions and I based Edie’s morning routine on this.

On our visit I also took some pictures of the Assembly Room itself. It has a sprung floor and my minions were happy to demonstrate.

It was quite chilly the day we went and it was difficult to imagine the room packed and sweaty; but with hundreds of candles and people it would soon have become unpleasantly warm.

We only live an hour away from Bath and there is so much to see, I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area. It was wonderful to be able to pop up there and gather some more fuel for my story-mine.

thanks all round

And that’s the end of The Flowers of Time blogtour! Thank you so much to everyone who has hosted me, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to visit. Here’s a recap of the topics and where you can find me:

Plus! All these lovely people came and talked to me over the last few days on intersecting topics:

It’s been a lot of fun and an immense privilege to host such a wonderful set of people and I’m so grateful that they took time out of their busy lives. Thank you!

PS. If you’d like to buy The Flowers of Time that would quite frankly make me extremely chuffed.