release day! The Flowers of Time

Today is the book-birthday of The Flowers of Time!

You can find the buy-link and read all about the book here…there’s an excerpt and a clip of me reading it.

Plus, to celebrate the launch I am off on a blog-tour over the next ten days. You can see the schedule below and the things I’ll be talking about.

I’m also hosting some lovely people here on own site to talk about magic, gender and journeys (not necessarily all at once!) in their own books. I’ll be putting a post up introducing them tomorrow.

Today though, I am over at Queer Sci-Fi, answering questions about my writing process. And other things. Because otherwise that would make for a short interview! Thank you so much to the QSF guys for hosting me.

Finally…scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter draw for a universal e-reader cover and a leather-bound notebook, not at all unlike the book in the story!

This week you can find me at:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

booktrailer: the flowers of time

I’m quite proud of this, actually!

The Flowers of Time has been a long time coming. I first started mulling the idea of writing about plant-collectors a couple of years ago when I read a newspaper article about Europeans stomping round the world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ‘discovering’ new plants. I knew I wanted Ella Fortune (from Lost in Time) to have her own book and it seemed like the kind of thing she might do in the 1920s after she’d finished being an ambulance driver in France and started a newspaper. Initially I thought this might be it.

However…when I started writing, the characters didn’t want to be in the twentieth century at all, they wanted to be in the 1780s. This was a completely new era for me and cost me a lot of research-time. I relied heavily on ‘Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India‘ by Shashi Tharoor for background, plus ‘She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: British women in India 1600 – 1900‘ by Katie Hickman about women in India and ‘The Honourable Company: a History of the English East India Company‘ by John Keay. I recommend these three as giving a reasonable overview of the pre-British Empire period. I also did a lot of reading about the Victorian flower-painter Marianne North ‘A Vision Of Eden: The Life And Work Of Marianne North‘ and found ‘Among the Tibetans‘ by Isabella Bird illuminating.

So then. Having dealt with the change in time-period, I started out with Jones, who I knew was non-binary and Edie, who’s sexuality can best be described as ‘pragmatic’. And as their journey over the mountains progressed it became clear that Jones was probably demi/gray asexual, as well. And then the paranormal intruded, which I find it often does once I start writing. And by the time I got to the end, I was in a real twist about how they were going to get their happy ending and be able to come back to England as a couple and both be settled in their own skin.

Anyway. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. You can buy it here.

flowers of time is out to beta

So! The Flowers of Time has gone off for beta readers to run their eyes over and I’m left working on the blurb. This is the bit I hate the most. I don’t think I’m alone in that, but so far it’s a bit of a struggle.

Jones is determined to find out what caused the unexpected death of her father whilst they were exploring ancient ruins in the Himalayas. She’s never been interested in the idea of the marriage bed, but along with a stack of books and coded journals he’s left her with the promise she’ll travel back to England for the first time since childhood and try being the lady she’s never been.

Edie and her brother are leaving soon on a journey to the Himalayas to document and collect plants for the new Kew Gardens when she befriends Miss Jones in London. She’s never left England before and is delighted to learn that the lady will be returning to the mountains she calls home at the same time they are planning their travels. When they meet again in Srinegar, Edie is surprised to find that here the Miss Jones of the London salons is ‘just Jones’ the explorer, clad in breeches and boots and unconcerned with the proprieties Edie has been brought up to respect.

A non-binary explorer and a determined botanist make the long journey over the high mountains passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with dangers for both of them, not least those of the heart.

My issue now is what to work on next!

Fashion Museum, Bath

Firstly apologies for the lateness of this post. However, I’ve been collecting blog material! We’ve been on holiday near Bath and we went to the Fashion Museum earlier in the week. I was primarily focused on looking at clothing from the 1770s and 1780s for Edie and for Jones.

The trouble with collections of historical clothing is that you only get the really expensive things or the things their owners didn’t like much that survive. And you don’t get a great deal of working people’s clothing, because they literally wore it until it had holes and then it got cut down and repurposed. Clothing was so much more expensive and energy-intensive than it is today. Everything was woven and sewn by hand.

These gowns and petticoats from the 1770s and 1780s are much more Edie’s sort of thing than Jones’, although I do imagine Jones stuffed in to the one with the blue quilted petticoats when she was visiting her aunt in England. And perhaps the one with the yellow gown and stomacher for more formal occasions. I can definitely see Edie in the pale pink effort with all the embroidery on the front when she first meets Jones at the ball. (High waists a la Jane Austen only came in around about 1794 as far as I can make out).

Once the pair of them are travelling, they revert to much simpler clothes. I imagine Jones wearing something like this… it’s based on a working man’s coat from about 1780, made of wool.

I am still in debate with myself over whether Jones would wear local clothing once she gets home to the mountains. I think she might need to stay in western garb because I am not confident enough to write about regional clothing without getting it wrong and that seems disrespectful.

Edie doesn’t feel right going for breeches, however comfortable they might be. So she compromises by wearing ‘stays’ or ‘bodies’ (which is what she calls them) that lower class women, who had no help getting dressed, wore. They lace up the front rather than the back, so you can do them yourself. This is really interesting little video of a working woman getting dressed.

The little things… how you deal with menstruation, what pins you use in your hair, how often you change your stockings… those are all things that tend not to get referenced in contemporary texts because it was all such normal stuff that you didn’t need to. Everyone knew about it. There’s a good blog post about Georgian personal hygiene by the Word Wenches and I think I may have mentioned Madame Isis’ blog before.

Next week I am back to regular scheduling and I am interviewing Naomi Aoki!


PS: As we came out of the museum and went to find the old fashioned sweetshop, we fell over a coach and four. Netflix are filming the Bridgerton series of books by Julia Quinn.

interview: Kristin Noone

A warm welcome to Kristin Noone, who has subjected herself to my author interview questions this week!

A warm welcome to Kristin Noone, who has subjected herself to my interview questions this week!

Firstly, what prompted you to let me ask you nosy questions?!

A recent release and a re-release (or two)! My first F/F romance, The Ninepenny Element, just came out from JMS Books, and JMS is also re-releasing my former Less Than Three Press stories – the first M/M shapeshifter story, Port in a Storm, is out now, and the sequel, Fire and Ink, will be available again September 4… followed by the M/M/M polyamory superheroes of Sundown, Holiday, Beacon, also in September. Which I have to say contains some of my favorite characters of mine ever.

What started you writing?

I’ve been writing for ages – in kindergarten I wrote a five-page short story about a girl who loses a tooth – and the Tooth Fairy brings her a baby unicorn, instead of money! (I was a strange and apparently very hopeful child.) More seriously, I started writing in grad school – fanfiction first, as an escape and as a way to play with characters and universes that I loved. And eventually that built into my own original characters and world-building, and I sold a couple of short stories, and then I thought, oh, maybe I can do this! (I do still write fanfic, though! But much less than I used to.)

Where do you write?

If it’s just me home, mostly in the family room with my laptop and music! Otherwise, sometimes upstairs where the actual desk is. Or in a Starbucks, if I’ve got a break from teaching and want to leave campus for a couple of hours!

What do you like to read?

Lots of things! Quite a lot of romance – a lot of M/M, a lot of paranormal, a lot of historical, mostly Regency or Victorian – but also a lot of fantasy and historical fiction, and quite a lot of nonfiction, both for the professor day-job and for pleasure. That’s usually somehow related to scholarly studies of fantasy, romance, monstrosity, comics, gender, and medievalism, though I’ve most recently been reading Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet for fascinating linguistic explorations of internet grammar, just for fun!

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

Only three? Oh dear! Hmm…Patricia A. McKillip’s The Book of Atrix Wolfe, KJ Charles’ The Magpie Lord (can I have the whole trilogy count as one book?), and…some sort of three-way toss-up between Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, Neil Gaiman’s collected Sandman graphic novels, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in a single edition.

The McKillip is beautiful – lush, lapidary, fantastic prose, full of magic and redemption and also kitchen magic and so many words for both food and love. KJ Charles writes such fabulous romance, with a gorgeous and detailed and diverse magical England and also crackling chemistry. Every time I read Pratchett I find him more profound – that rage, that love, that humor, that fierce compassion – and Night Watch is my favorite Discworld novel. Gaiman’s Sandman is sprawling and epic and weaves together mythology and heroism and grief and loss and family, plus the art is spectacular. And Tolkien because there’s so much to savor and linger over (and occasionally critique!) and have long mental conversations with.

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 a few facebook groups for authors – romance, M/M, LGBTQ – and also a few for professors and grad students, plus my academic association memberships in popular culture and romance fields! They can be helpful for motivation, advice, and also sometimes just sympathy.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Reading, probably! And working on the next scholarly book, which at the moment is about Star Trek tie-in fiction. But other than that…

Awesome Husband and I are sci-fi geeks and watch a lot of that genre of television and movies, but we’re also beer geeks and can be found wandering local craft breweries. Or playing some good tabletop games, along the lines of Pandemic or Ascension, or doing jigsaw puzzles.

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?

For The Ninepenny Element, the idea was a combination of about three things: wanting to write something for the “nine” theme for the JMS Books ninth anniversary, and a sequel/spin-off for Elemental starring the older sister of Sterling from that book, and wanting to have some fun with medievalist folklore trivia about ninepence and magic! Unusually for me, the title came pretty early on – this one just knew what it was about. And it felt like it flowed easily; I already knew a lot about the world and Verity’s family (and annoying but adorable clairvoyant younger brother), so that part was easy. The trickiest part was figuring out the “villain” – he’s not really evil, just awful, but I always have a hard time writing characters I dislike! It did give me an idea for a third story, though…

And you can keep up with Kristin in lots of different places!

Website Twitter Instagram Goodreads

Thanks for coming to chat, Kristin!


Read about some of Kristin’s books:

Port in a Storm and the new re-release Fire and Ink

Port in a Storm: A M/M paranormal series, with a runaway kitten shapeshifter and the kind neighborhood witch who rescues him in the rain.

Fire and Ink: Three months ago David Stanton rescued a runaway kitten in the rain. Now he’s got an infamous — and infamously powerful — feline shapeshifter living in his house, helping with his white-witch business, and making him smile. David’s falling in love fast, but there’s still the problem of Colin’s past … and the secrets he’s obviously keeping.


Elemental and The Ninepenny Element

Elemental is a M/M paranormal romance with a blocked writer, a novice witch and a surprise exorcism.

The sequel, the recently released The Ninepenny Element is a F/F paranormal, with a witch, a lawyer, a hexed earring, and a ghost puppy.

(A ghost puppy, people!)


The Extraordinary Series, out soon!

Sundown, Holiday, Beacon & sequel Homecomings

Three superheroes in love! Or one superhero, one former sidekick, and one redeemed supervillain, at least.

Ryan, John, and Holiday have been partners — in every sense of the word — for two years. They’ve saved the world, fallen in love, and remodeled the secret base to include bookshelves and a bigger bed.

But Ryan and John have always been the public face of the team. The world still believes Holiday’s a villain. And he’s been using that reputation to stay undercover and share information. Tonight, though, Holiday comes home injured, and his partners aren’t sure the mission’s worth his life.