Tag Archives: 1920’s

Summerland: A 1920’s Mystery – Now free in the Kindle Store

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Stay tuned for freebies this weekend, kids. I am about to give the Shameless Self-Promotion tag a good, hard workout. It stands to reason that since I spend so much time writing these books, it would be quite nice for people to read them.

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 “Well, people often think the magician’s assistant doesn’t do much. She stands around in a skimpy costume and men look at her and she twirls and vanishes, but the assistant is really the one doing most of the tricks. The magician is often just there to present the routine, to add the flourishes and patter, but the nitty gritty, the tripwires and levers and mirrors and drapes that go in to pulling off the perfect illusion – that’s the province of the skinny little girl in the spangles.”

Magician’s assistant Poppy has always been an outsider, dragged from one town to another, spat on for being a carny, for being the wrong sex, the wrong race. Then one rainy night in the Midwest, she finds herself performing card tricks in front of the great Harry Houdini. Fresh from his well-publicised investigation of the medium Mina Crandon, Houdini makes Poppy a proposal; she is offered the opportunity to join his private secret service of sceptics, debunkers and magicians. Her job is to infiltrate spiritualist circles and expose fraudulent mediums, a quest that takes her across the Atlantic and into the lives of two very different young Englishmen, who are about to learn that in spiritualist circles secrets are much more than just common currency.

Due to sexually explicit material Summerland is not recommended for readers under 18.

Amazon.com

E-book special offer – Paris Green

I really don’t know exactly how some people manage it, but I find myself having to choose between blogging and writing. Right now I’m about five chapters into a new historical novel that I’m very excited about; if you like tales of witchcraft, ghost stories and a house that makes Borley Rectory look like Disneyland, you’re going to enjoy this. That’s all I’m prepared to say right now.

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Also, I’m running a little special offer at the moment – Paris Green is currently under $2 in the Kindle Store, so go grab yourself a copy.

Amazon.com

If you need any further enticement, read beneath the cut.

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The Pleasures of Play-Doh

Still thrashing out some last minute edits for Fifty Shades Fatter but with a bit of luck and a following wind the thing should be available in the Kindle store next week. I’m also trying out Rachel Aaron’s method for cranking up the wordcount. I can’t report that it’s been a total success – at least not yet, since I only bought the book yesterday, although I have doubled my wordcount today so far and feel like I still have gas in the tank, so to speak.

Word-counting can sometimes feel counter-productive to me; I’ll hammer out three thousand words in a day and then the next day getting anything on paper will leave my head feeling like an orange that’s already been squeezed to within an inch of its life and then some. The thing I like about this advice that she emphasises notes – notes, notes, notes. Make them. Lots of them. You are not nearly as good at keeping things straight as you think you are.

It makes sense to arm yourself before advancing into forest of an intricately plotted novel. There are things in there that will eat your brain, spit out the pips, burp and laugh mockingly before finishing off the rest of you.

I also like her advice on keeping your characters reasonably squishy. One of the reasons I tend to avoid writing forums is that I just get sick of seeing the same questions asked over and over again, and the same mistakes made too. Someone will wander in and say ‘How do I write fictional characters?’ and then someone will offer the helpful suggestion that they should fill out some kind of D&D sheet, or some elaborate questionnaire determined to discover the character’s favourite colour, their rising astrological sign and their preference for lobster over shrimp. This is why I don’t go to writing forums. I don’t want to be the apparently crazy person capslocking IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER.

But seriously. It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. There’s no point setting your characters in stone, because they are not stone. They’re Play-Doh. Specifically, they’re your Play-Doh, and you can make them do or say anything you need them to. Obviously with main characters this comes with a certain level of limitation. You must still strive for consistency. One of the gnarliest problems I had with Paris Green was that when I looked back at the first draft I realised that my heroine was wandering around behaving like a woman who had just undergone a personality transplant. I was so invested in the love story playing out in the background that Caroline suddenly turned into this siren, rather than the anxious, angry and deeply damaged young woman she was in the first half.

But would knowing that her favourite colour was pink rather than blue have changed or helped with this? Of course it wouldn’t. There’s no reason to worry yourself with these superficial details.

The thing about not tying yourself down to specifics is that you have all the fun of inventing new details about the characters as you go along. For instance, I always saw Andrew Blakemoor as having really good cheekbones – nose too long and chin, chin too short, ears too large, but man – he had some good cheekbones. His voice I kind of imagined as a male version of Clarice Starling – very soft, very countryish. I hadn’t committed myself to making him a Southerner, but somewhere along the line I picked up North Carolina and suddenly those great cheekbones made sense; his back-teeth were rotted to hell from all that sweet tea. His passion for sugar was suitably fly-like, considering that he lived most of his life as a sort of psychic parasite.

It was one of those lovely little moments of serendipity that make life much more fun for a writer. It’s even more fun when you’ve got a character like Andrew Blakemoor; someone who lies so often and so well that you can reinvent them every time they turn up.

Paris Green – A Tale of 1920’s New York. Free E-Book!

My newest novel Paris Green is now at the low low price of Absolutely Free on Amazon.com. Go grab yourself a copy. Go on. Off you go.

Amazon.com

New book release: Paris Green – A Tale of 1920’s New York

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my brand new historical novel, Paris Green.

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Available now at Amazon.com

Heiress Caroline Reid had everything – money, looks, popularity, love. Once at the vibrant heart of New York’s social scene, she now lives as a recluse, measuring her meals in ounces, counting the hours until Andrew comes.
Medium Andrew Blakemoor came from nowhere, a soft-voiced, scarecrow country boy with a questionable past. Playing down claims that he exorcised the restless spirit of Tutankamun, Blakemoor comes to New York to evangelise about Spiritualism, and to seek new patronage. While society is divided on the truth of his psychic gifts, in him Caroline sees a new realm of possibilities, a life different from the inevitabilities of marriage, trust funds and the hope of male children.
When Caroline places herself in Andrew’s hands, seeking ‘development’ as a psychic medium, she opens herself up to a world of dark seances and strange, night-time whisperings, of affinities and apports. While her friends drop away and her parents worry, Caroline immerses herself in the search for her own ‘control’ – a spirit who will protect her and guide her in this world and the next.
But on the night when her serenity is shattered by a gunshot, Caroline realises too late that no dream of a smiling ghost can offer protection against the horrors of life and death, against duplicity and hollow promises, and worst of all, herself.
This short companion novel to Summerland can be read as a prequel or as a standalone.

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Further cat-vacuuming

Still not dead. Which is nice.

I’m trying to wrangle a long follow up on How To See Ghosts, but it’s going to take a bit more research and that’s a bit more than I have any desire to do right now. On top of that – and yes, I know I say this all the time – but Paris Green is an evil, malicious, monstrous bastard hellspawn of a book and I don’t think it will rest until it has consumed my soul, spat out the pips and settled down to pick its teeth with a gore-caked rusty iron stake borrowed from one of the Vlad the Impaler’s wilder fondue parties.

So, yeah. There’s that. Continue reading

Adventures In Research – Diet Books, King Tut and the Girl From The Magic Shop

I’m very nearly done with my new historical novel, which is so full of lies, duplicity and sheer bloody cruelty that I cannot wait to write the sequel to Fifty Shades of Neigh and spend the next few months wallowing happily in a big bunch of dick jokes.

I love writing historical fiction, but the main problem with it that all that research you did? All those lovely, carefully catalogued period details? All that time you spend immersing yourself in the popular culture of the era, absorbing the contemporary fads, fashion and slang?

Yeah – shut up about that.

In a good historical novel the characters will use enough contemporary slang to lend a flavour without making it incomprehensible to the modern ear. In a bad historical novel everyone will antiquey-speakey most verily even though yea, it sucketh great donkey balls, and in a really bad historical novel everyone will not only yabber on like they’re at a Renaissance Faire but also discuss the etymology of their gibberish. A really good historical novel will slip you a history lesson without you even knowing it. A bad one will beat you over the head with lumps of Wikipedia a la Dan Brown or go full on Downton and have people say things like “Well, indeed – after the War to end all wars we’re all in need of a little gaiety, and why shouldn’t Lady Ethel get her hair cut like the popular contemporary actress Louise Brooks in this year of our Lord 1926?”

This is not to say you can skimp on the research – you’d better damn well do it. I once came across a vampire novel that was utterly spoiled by the fact that not only was I supposed to believe that the vampire hero had trained as a Catholic priest in late 16th Century England but in the 1650’s had been quite the sexy young thing at the theatres and operas of old London town. You do research so that things like this don’t happen. Then you shut up about it. Research is essential but should remain invisible – sort of like Spanx.

So this is where blogs come in handy. Here’s just a taste of the fascinating stuff that either got a one line mention or kept an urgent playdate with the DELETE key. Continue reading