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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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.

research rabbit-holes

One of the things I find most difficult about writing in a period or place I don’t know all that well is research. Not because I find research hard… although it can be. My issue is that I find I get sucked down rabbit-holes and dead ends in to fascinating articles on subjects I have no need to know about in depth.

Image by ardilladecolores from Pixabay

Today for example… Himalayan mountain sheep, Argali, which led me in to an article about Himalayan grass populations. Then eighteenth century shoes, which morphed in to three articles on seventeenth century Civil War uniforms. And I am still digesting this fascinating article about the eighteenth century garden flower seed trade.

My work in progress is a whole new era and location for me – the Himalayas in the 1780s – and it’s taking me ages to get to grips with the setting of the story. I was going to spend April doing Camp Nano and get the first draft sorted by the end of the month. That is not happening – life, children, chickens, all that good stuff has pretty much overwhelmed me. But I’m plodding along now, back in my thousand-word-a-day groove, or close to it and it’s just a matter of time.

I’m also working on my serialized sequel to The Gate, the continuing adventures of Matty and Rob, that will be released to newsletter subscribers as I go. (Please do sign up if you’d like to be included in this!). This doesn’t require quite so much research because I am already comfortable writing in that era after two full-length books and the short story, so fingers crossed I can keep it going.

Shadows On The Border

Release Date: 9th March 2019.

This is the sequel to Lost In Time and the books make most sense when read in order.

Newspaper reporter Lew Tyler and his lover, Detective Alec Carter, are working out the parameters of their new relationship. Meanwhile, Lew is trying to decide whether he wants to stay in the 1920s or find a way to get back to 2016 and Alec is trying to decide whether he can bear the vulnerability of being in love with someone who uses such dangerous magic.

Fenn is a Hunter from the Outlands, come through the Border to search for the murderous Creature and its offspring at the behest of The Ternants, who maintain the balance between Fenn’s world and ours. Fenn strikes a bond with Sergeant Will Grant, Alec’s second in command, who is keen to learn more about his own magical abilities and as time goes on also becomes keen to learn more about Fenn.

Fenn has their own painful secret and when they appear to have betrayed the team and and goes missing in London, Will is devastated. He has to choose between following his heart or following his duty.

Moving through the contrasting rich and poor areas of post-First World War London from West End hotels to the London docklands, they need to work together to capture the Creature and choose who and what is important enough to hold on to with both hands and what they may need to give up to make that happen.

Image of blurb for Shadows On The Border

The Gate

My 7,500 word freebie short story “The Gate” is now available for download when you join my mailing list at Bookfunnel.

It’s 1918, and 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 it might be cancer, but Matty becomes convinced it’s connected to the mysterious books his brother has left strewn around the house.

Matty confides his suspicions in his friend Rob, a hired hand on the farm and potential lover. Rob has found something that looks like a gate of some kind, something Arthur referenced in his papers which may rest at the heart of his illness. But a gate to where?


Read an excerpt:

The tap at the kitchen door took him unaware and he carried the bottle of brandy out with him to answer it. It was Rob. Matty stepped back in silent invitation and let him in. “All right?” Rob asked, quietly.

“Not really. Do you want a drink?” Matty gestured to the bottle he’d set on the table.

Rob looked at him with narrowed eyes and nodded. “I’ll join you.” He’d been promoted up to sergeant in the Signal Corp, Matty remembered, in a disconnected sort of way.

“Come on through. I was in his study.”

Rob hesitated. The farm men never came any farther into the house than the kitchen. But it was an unusual day. In front of the sideboard, Matty slopped some more out of the bottle into another dusty glass and proffered it. Rob took it and sat where Matty gestured, on the worn leather settee. Neither spoke. It was a comfortable kind of silence.

He and Rob had always got on, in the way of single men. They’d gone to the pub together sometimes and taken a couple of local sisters on Courting Walks through the bluebell woods as a pair, a long time ago. Matty hadn’t been particularly interested in Marie Booth and he didn’t think Rob had been much interested in her sister Clemmie, either, probably for the same reason. Matty had made sure never to look at him like that, though. He didn’t need that sort of trouble on his doorstep.

But now he really looked at the other man, comfortably sprawled opposite him. Looking back, they’d been inseparable. Four years of muddling through in the trenches and taking soldier’s comfort in a few minutes here and there, furtive and messy behind the lines, had snapped something in him. He didn’t really care overmuch what people thought of him, not anymore. And he suspected a lot of other people were the same. When you’d had boys too young to be away from their mothers die in your arms, you learned to grasp for any comfort or happiness when it appeared and damn the consequences.

“I was just checking on you.” Rob said quietly. “I can go if you like.”

“No, don’t go. I appreciate the company. I just haven’t got much talk left in me.”

“No need to talk with me, Matty, you know that.” Rob’s smile was slight but genuine. He turned to small talk. “Cows are milked. I left the churns in the dairy, though. It’s too warm to put them out tonight. We’ll need to do something about the back of the barn before the winter. There’s gaps of light coming in through that red stone wall. The brick’s crumbling away.”

They made desultory conversation for a half hour and Matty’s eyes started to droop. “You need to sleep, lad.” He could hear a small, genuine smile in Rob’s voice.

“I do.” He stood and put his glass on the sideboard. “Thank you.”

“Any time. Just ask. Whatever you need.” Rob stood quietly beside him, stalwart and solid and so very comforting. They faced each other. Rob raised his hand to the back of Matty’s neck and Matty stepped forward into the embrace. Rob’s other arm came around him and settled him, forehead against that broad shoulder, smelling of hay and good sweat. It was such a relief to have someone else take his weight for a little while. Neither moved. After a little while, Matty felt Rob press a soft kiss against the top of his head. He was hard in his corduroys, against Matty’s hip, and Matty felt himself stirring in response. “Get some sleep. It’ll all look different in the morning.” The arms fell away with a passing caress to his nape and they stepped apart.


You can find the right format for your eReader when you sign up to my mailing list via Bookfunnel.