the flowers of time

The Flowers of Time will be published by JMS Books at the end of February! Pre-order here! Or listen to me read an excerpt!

A non-binary explorer and a determined lady botanist make the long journey over the high Himalayan 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.

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 Srinagar, 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 mountain 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 perils for both of them, not least those of the heart.

character sketch: Rob from Inheritance of Shadows

Rob is a farm worker on Matty’s farm. He was born in 1884 and started working there when he was about thirteen. He’s now about thirty-five. He’s gentle and good with animals. He’s clever, thoughtful and quiet, a steady sort of person who likes to think things through before acting. If I had to use one verb to describe him, it would be stabilize.

He joined the army in 1914 when Britain first went to war with Germany and was promoted to Sergeant in the Signals by the time he was discharged in 1919. He’s largely self-educated, very eclectically. He’s a regular library user.

His wartime experience involved a lot of communications tech and he happens to find ciphers and codes fascinating and breaks them for fun. (This is extremely handy for my story, I have no idea how it happened, honest!).

Rob has been in love with Matty for years, but Matty was oblivious. Neither of them said anything to each other before they went off to the war, but afterwards, Rob decided that life was too short and fragile not to take a chance at happiness and made his feelings for Matty clear.

Their story begins in The Gate, which is free on the various ebook platforms and when you sign up for my newsletter; and it continues in Inheritance of Shadows.


I am trying to serialize IOS free, monthly for newsletter readers (not always successfully because of life-chaos). The following month, episodes then go to my Ko-fi for subscribers and hopefully when I finish the whole thing I’ll be publishing it as a novel.

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!

reading roundup: July

I’ve been oxer-deep in reading this month and have seven books to share.


The Cricketer’s Arms, Garrick Jones

A gay romance/murder mystery set in 1950s Sydney. I loved this. I’ve probably said before that I think Garrick Jones’ historical detail is second to none. The combination of a murder mystery and romantic shenanigans is basically my ideal read. Hard recommend. I understand there is a sequel in the wind in the future.


Thrown to the Wolves, Charlie Adhara

The third in Charlie Adhara’s wolves series. Cooper finds out a lot more about wolf pack behaviour and Oliver Park’s slightly bonkers family. I have a complex relationship with shifter books – some I love and some don’t grab me at all. This trilogy falls in to the ‘love’ category!


Tournament of Shadows, S. A. Meade

I went looking for Tournament of Shadows because I met S. A. Meade at an Author Thing a couple of months ago.  Published in 2014, this ticks all my ‘historical detail’ boxes. Set in the mid-nineteenth century in what is now Uzbekistan, it follows two minor characters in the Great Game played between world powers during that period. It has gay romance, political intrigue and journeying through locations I knew nothing about and had to research. A definite re-read.


Hither Page, Cat Sebastian

Set just post-WW2 Hither Page features a shell-shocked country doctor and a spy who need to team up to solve a murder. Of course, they fall in love in the process. There is beautifully realized historical detail with vulnerable and emotionally wounded main protagonists and a richly sprinkling of well drawn supporting characters.  Also, lady assassins. *taps nose meaningfully*


Outbreak, Melissa Olson

This is the final book in the Nightshades trilogy which is a vampire power-struggle-cum-straight-romance with the FBI thrown in for good measure. Vampires have been hidden from humanity until very recently. Hector is still trying to manipulate both vampires and humans for his own nefarious, control-grabbing purposes and the Bureau of Preternatural Investigations is still trying to stop him. But the FBI are also investigating Lindy and Alex. It’s a really good end to the trilogy.


Rebellion, Naomi Aoki

Intricate historical detail about the Boxer uprising from Naomi Aoki in this gay romance set at the end of the nineteenth century in Singapore and China. Alfred falls in love with a Chinese soldier he meets in the public gardens. The tension in their love story is entwined with the rising of the political and eventually military tensions. Neither my historical period or my geographical area, I really, really enjoyed this. Recommend.


Owl and the Japanese Circus, Kristi Charish

The first in the Owl series. Owl is an archaeologist-thief in a world where magic is real and digging up ancient artifacts can get you killed. Obviously the authorities suppress all this knowledge from the general public. Owl doesn’t do supernatural jobs, but this time she gets sucked in to something that she can’t avoid. There are dragons, vampires and (straight) romance. I have got second one in the series on my TBR list but haven’t got to it yet. I thought this was brilliant – really good world-building.


That’s all! Next week, an interview with Nell Iris.

excerpt: the flowers of time

As promised, this week I have an excerpt from The Flowers of Time for you. Set in the 1780s, in England and Northern India, the main characters are Jones, a non-binary archaeologist who has lived in the mountains for most of her life, and Edith, who is a botanical illustrator.


If Pater hadn’t made Jones promises to leave straight after the funeral, she wouldn’t have gone at all.

“You promise?” he’d asked, again and again as his strength waned in the flicker of the butter-lamps. “You promise you’ll go, Frank? You need to get away. Take the green-bound book and go.”

“Yes, Pater,” she had reiterated again and again. “I promise. I’ll go. I’ll go straight down to Bombay, to John and Richard. And I’ll take ship as soon as I can. You’ve already written to Aunt Caroline, I sent the letter myself. I’m ready.”

She had been sniveling to herself as she spoke, hoping he wouldn’t notice how distressed she was in the dim light. She didn’t want to be having this conversation at all. He looked yellow-faced and sunken-cheeked even in the daylight and in the flickering light of the dim lamps at night it was worse. He was already corpse-like.

He moved a thin, clawed hand to cover hers. “My dear, I love you so much. I have perhaps done you a disservice by not sending you home to Caro before now, when you were younger.”

“I didn’t want to go,” she said, roughly. “It’s all right, Pater. I’m all right. I’ll go, as soon as is possible.”

“I should never have kept you out here, once I realized that the book has some truth behind it,” he said. He had been rambling a little about his books in the last week or so, as he had become weaker. “You must take it back with you. And put it in the library at Stamford Hall. That’s where it came from. Put it in the library, up high, on one of the top shelves to the left of the arched window. Use the ladders. And then it will be safe.” He drew a rattling breath. “Promise me, Frank.”

She turned her hand over beneath the fragile skin of his own on the counterpane and clasped it carefully. “I promise, Pater.”

“And don’t do what I did,” he added in a harsh whisper. “Don’t search for the source. All these years,” he said, “All these years I have been following the trail, looking for the source. And now, here we are. And it’s not a source for good, my child. It’s not a source for good at all.” He was lapsing in to rambling again. “I want you away, Frank. I want you and the book safe.” Finally he slipped in to the restless sleep that was consuming more and more of his time. She bent her head over his hand as she clutched it. He was the only family she had ever known and she was terrified to lose him.

“It won’t be long now.” The soft voice of one of the older monastery healers came from behind her in the slow Bhoti they used with her. “But you know that.”

She turned slowly on her stool, not letting go of her father’s hand, and nodded. “Yes. I know. Thank you, Jamyang. I do appreciate everything you are doing for us.” Kalsang was behind him, she noticed, his apprentice and shadow. “Thank you for helping him wash earlier, Kalsang.”

“You are most welcome, Jones.” Kalsang nodded with all the formality a teenager could muster.

“He wants me to go home. To England. To my aunt.” She swallowed and looked up. “It’s all arranged. He’s written. Sonam will take me down to Bombay.” She heard Kalsang’s indrawn breath of shock. Bombay was months of travel away. She had only been once herself, about fifteen years ago, when Pater had made the trip to take some artifacts down to send home.

“Will you come back?” Jamyang’s voice was unchanged, still calm and unshocked.

She met his gaze. “Yes. Yes. He wants me to stay in England a year. So I can learn where I come from.” She disengaged her hand gently, not waking her father, and stood. “He’s right, in a way. I should know. But my home is here. And my work is here. His work. It’s so important the people at home in England learn about the wonderful things here in the mountains. There are buildings and people here that people in England never even imagine. Things so old, so precious! I want to keep documenting it all, keep exploring.”

Jamyang watched her, with a small smile and then patted her arm. “You are a good person, Jones,” he said. “You are your father’s child. Franklin has been my friend for decades now, since you first came here when you were a tiny child after your mother died.” He stepped forward and took her hand. “We will welcome you back when you come, child. You will always have a home here with us. But do as your father wishes, now. Take the book he speaks of back to England. And leave it there. He has protected you from it for this long. Now, your protection must rest on your own shoulders.”




 

 


Next week, my monthly ‘what I’ve been reading in July’ roundup!