No Sprouts!

So, Hazel and I had lunch yesterday. See photos already posted. I’d been on a train all day with no breakfast – which turned out to be a huge mistake actually, because on arrival, without even a cursory glance at the lunch menu, we swept straight in to the bar. Well, Hazel swept – I was more like following on with the dustpan and black plastic bag.

I swear I asked for a tonic water but no one seemed to hear me. I think I repeated myself several times and deafness fell upon the land. I tried again but with the tinkle of Christmas Magic my words were somehow transformed into ‘I’ll have a glass of wine, please.’ I’m certain I could hear the pump-action of a fairy wand from somewhere behind the Christmas tree.

Well, so far – so festive, and determined to shed my Accent-bestowed reputation for being an alcoholic lightweight, I got stuck in.

I have to say it was good wine and I was sipping with enthusiasm when they told us our table was ready. Obviously, I took my wine with me and damn me if there wasn’t another glass on the table because apparently, prosecco automatically comes with the festive meal. So now, I had two glasses of alcohol and, after a rapid machine gun exchange between Hazel and the waiter, yet another wine turned up and I now had three – count them – three glasses of alcohol in front of me.

Actually, after the waiter had run an assessing eye over the state of me, a fourth glass appeared but this one was water.

We ordered. I couldn’t see the menu very well – possibly because I’d had an eye test the day before and I don’t know about anyone else, but I really don’t like it when they puff great hurricanes of air into your eyes. In Turkey, they regard the British test as a bit girlie – the man’s version is to poke each eye with the optician’s hairy forefinger. If you’re eye is soft – congrats, no glaucoma. If your eye is hard – bad luck lady, join the glaucoma queue over there. Sensibly, they do this at the end of the test because it takes an hour or so for the pain to subside and your eyes to stop streaming. I’m betting the hurricanes don’t look so bad now, do they?

Anyway, obviously the effects of the test had lingered on, which was why I couldn’t read the really extremely small print on the menu, so I boldly went for the turkey on the grounds it was a festive menu and therefore turkey was bound to feature on it somewhere. Sharp thinking for a blind, befuddled author, I think everyone will agree.

I sat quietly, combating wine evaporation by building up quite a nice little drinking rhythm. Sip, smile, sip, beam, sip, wonder where I was, and so on.

The food was lovely and everything was fine until I got to the sprouts. Of which there were rather a lot. With the incisive clarity for which I’m famed, I realised immediately that they’d given me everyone else’s sprouts as well, which was a bit mean because while I’m all for heroic sacrifice – especially if it’s someone else heroically sacrificing – this alp of sprouts they’d plonked in front of me was a bit above and beyond. However, I’m British and I know my duty – which is never to complain – not out loud, anyway – and just got stuck in.

Over the years, I’ve developed several techniques – sprouts for the dealing of. There’s putting them on someone else’s plate. Chucking them under the table, is good. Hiding them under the mashed potato works well, but my favourite is to eat two. Only wimps eat just one and eating three or more is plain foolishness. Two, however, demonstrate backbone and fortitude and something else I can’t quite remember at the moment because I’ve got a bit of a headache.

So I ate my two sprouts – well, no, actually, the first thing that happened was that the ends of my scarf fell in the gravy but we got that sorted out and the lovely waiter helpfully pushed my glass of water a little closer, bless him. So, scarf trauma dealt with, I ate my two sprouts – you have to eat them at the beginning of the meal because after you’ve done that everything else tastes great, even the gravy covered ends of your own scarf.

Unfortunately, they’d put something in them. The sprouts, I mean. I know they’ve invented all sorts of new-fangled ways to tempt people to abandon all common sense and spend the next twenty-four hours farting furiously – but I had some sort of reaction to them. The sprouts, I mean, not the farts. There’s no other explanation. The room blurred. The table tipped. Hilariously, I couldn’t pick up my fork while at the same time becoming incredibly witty and clever. I had to keep sipping the wine to take the taste away but top-class stuff though it was, nothing could prevail over the sprouts. Little green monsters.

Eventually, and with no memory of dessert at all, I was decanted back to the station where I climbed onto a train. Don’t ask me which train – the sprouts had me in a firm grip by now – but I do know it was a train. The people in the carriage were lovely and it would have been nice to have had a friendly chat with all of them but I fell asleep just outside Newport so a bit of a missed opportunity there.

Today will, I think, be quite a gentle day. I’ve fired up my laptop and pulled up Doing Time but we all know that’s not going to happen. There’s a cheese and marmite loaf with my name on it somewhere and I intend to track it down.

So – take heed, gentle readers. For heaven’s sake, lay off the sprouts. No idea what they’re putting in them but they won’t catch me again. My life, will, henceforth, be gloriously, wonderfully sprout free.

 

This is the last blog of the year. And my last blog with Accent Press. So, to everyone there – many thinks for everything over the years. And there have been a lot of things, so thanks for every one of them. To Accent Press, to my new overlords at Headline, and to all my lovely readers – and you know who you are – a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Jodi.

A variety of subjects, but mostly about cows. With an excerpt from Dark Light

For those who kindly enquired, I have recovered from chocolate margarita overload. It was touch and go but I pulled through. I would say I’m never doing that again but we all know exactly the same thing will happen as soon as a box of chocolate margaritas and I find ourselves in close proximity. I’m not sure where I was on the day will-power and common sense were being doled out.

Anyway, exciting news – the French version of A Symphony of EchoesD’Eco en Echos – is available for pre-order on Amazon.fr. With a small fanfare, I proudly produce the link because I think I’m getting the hang of this now. Gone are the days when one of my links could take you anywhere. And often to places you didn’t want to go.

 

What else? Yes, the Afternoon Tea at Octavo’s is sold out. I’m really looking forward to that. And meeting everyone, of course. It’s not all about food, you know.

And I’m in Gloucester on 20th October at Waterstones. They’re doing a pre-pub signing of Dark Light there, for anyone who wants to pop along. I’ve forgotten what time, but someone will tell me and then I’ll tell you

If I live that long, that is. Brace yourselves, a dark tale follows.

Following the barrage of unkind comments from my family about my sedentary lifestyle, I went for a walk yesterday, yomping across country, just like someone who actually knew what they were doing.

Those of you who read these blogs – and what wonderful people you are – will be familiar with the other author in the family. The eminent author, as he insists on being called. Anyway, we go off occasionally, to research this, that and the other, argue violently, and generally frighten small children and dogs. I’m sure some of you will remember our legendary trip to Doward to visit the hill-fort there which was to make a starring appearance in Lies, Damned Lies and History. I thought that rather than just using my imagination, I’d actually check the place out.

Roping in the eminent author, we set off and everything went badly right from the start. God, it was steep. The hill was nearly vertical. We had to heave ourselves up by tree roots and branches and it took hours. We were dirty, sweaty and very unsanitary, but just as we were within fifty yards of the summit – I could actually see the hill-fort – the eminent author spotted a cow.

We’re not talking auroch here. The bloody thing was about the size of a dachshund. And so far away on the horizon it was practically in Monmouthshire. And it was one of those rather pretty Charolais cows, head down, grazing away and ignoring everyone and everything.

I turned around and the eminent author was off like a rocket, bounding downhill and accelerating away. I have to say I had no idea he could move like that. However, he was in charge of the transport so I had no choice other than to bound after him. The drive home was enlivened by unkind comments on his manhood and him quoting statistics about the two or three people killed by cows every century or so. Incidentally, the next time anyone reads LDLAH, the hill-fort scenes came out of my head. Practical site research had to be done while I was heading downhill at about thirty miles an hour and everything was pretty much a blur.

Anyway, the point of this pointless story – apart from embarrassing the eminent author because don’t think it doesn’t get mentioned at regular family get-togethers – is that yesterday, I, climbing over a stile, found myself in a field full of cows. And not the friendly French sort, happily grazing on the horizon miles away, either. These were big beasties. The black and white ones. There were about thirty of them. And, as I discovered when they lumbered to their feet – gentlemen cows. With horns.

Obviously my first impulse was to climb back over the style and run away, but with the echoes of all the wittily clever jokes I’d made at the eminent author’s expense over the years, I gritted my teeth, jutted my jaw like an American general, and strode forth.

Have you ever watched The Omen? That scene where all the animals run away from Damian? That was me! They couldn’t get away quickly enough. At first, I was relieved. Then there was the – ‘Ha, cows! Fear me and my cow powers,’ stage, closely followed by the ‘Oh my God, there is something the matter with me. Everyone always said there was,’ stage.

I reached the fence, climbed over the next style, looked back and they were all watching me. Silent and motionless. Like any number of cow bookends. Scary stuff. I’m living in The Twilight Zone.

So, speaking of scary, Dark Light is out in about three weeks, I think, and for those of you who asked, here’s a quick excerpt from the first chapter.

Enjoy.

DARK LIGHT by Jodi Taylor

Prologue

My name is Elizabeth Cage and I’ve never done anyone any harm in my life, at least, not intentionally. But I have what some might call a gift. I call it a curse. Let’s call it a talent. I can see things. No, not dead people – although I have seen dead people – I see something else. I see people’s colours.

Years ago, when I was a child, before I’d ever heard the word aura, I called it a colour. Everyone has one. A shimmering outline of colour that constantly changes shade and shape as they react to whatever’s going on around them. Everyone’s is unique. Some are a distinct shape, thick and clearly defined. Some colours are rich and strong and vibrant. Others are pale and insubstantial. Sometimes there’s a dirty, dark patch over their head or their heart and that’s never good.

Sometimes, friends or family, people who are close, have similar colours. Colours that are related in the spectrum. You may have noticed that there are people for whom you feel an affinity. That’s because your colours are similar. Some people repulse you. You feel an urge to keep your distance. You might not know why, but your colour certainly does.

Your colour tells me things about you. Things you might not even know yourself. Things you might not want others to know. Give me ten minutes and I can tell you whether you’re happy or sad. I know if you’re lying. I know if you’re afraid. I know if you’re bluffing.  You don’t have to say a word, but you’re telling me just the same.

I don’t know how Dr Sorensen found out about me but he did. He runs a clinic – ostensibly a rest home for those rich enough to be able to afford his very discreet services, but that’s just a front. He works for the government.

I’d never actually heard the phrase ‘psychological warfare’ until Michael Jones explained it to me, but apparently that’s what Sorensen does. He devises ways of misleading, deceiving and intimidating people. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking he confines these dubious activities to ‘enemies of the state’. According to Jones, he’s pretty indiscriminate in his targets. Sometimes our friends can be more dangerous than our enemies. He’ll have a go at anyone he’s told to. And, from my own experience, he’s not above using his resources for his own ends, either.

He’s an expert on people’s behaviour, which is what makes him so dangerous. He can predict how people will behave under certain conditions and how to manipulate them accordingly. He can tailor-make propaganda tools. He can advise on how to mislead, deceive or even intimidate anyone he’s instructed to. He seeks out other people’s vulnerabilities. And not for good reasons.

 I know he has plans for me … As Michael Jones once said, ‘My God, Cage, we could sit you down in a room full of world leaders and you could tell us everything we needed to know. Who’s lying. Who’s afraid. Who isn’t …’

Except I didn’t want to be sat down in a room full of world leaders. I just wanted to live a quiet life. I didn’t ask to see these things. It’s not a gift to know what people are thinking. And it’s definitely not a gift to see those shadowy figures, half in this world and half out of it … I just wanted to ignore it and move on from my husband’s sudden death and I thought I had. I thought I had found a friend. Someone I thought might, one day, become much more than a friend. Michael Jones was big and competent and damaged. His colour should be a rich mixture of reds and glowing golds, but by losing someone he’d lost his own way. He was vulnerable. And that bastard Sorensen had exploited that vulnerability and used him to get to me.

It was Jones himself who told me what he’d done. It was Jones who gave me the opportunity to get away. Jones who told me to run while I still could.

I had no choice. I had to escape this web of Sorensen’s making.

So I ran.

Chapter One

I stared out of the big black window. The darkening sky and the lights in the railway carriage meant that, for most of the time, all I could see was myself. I gazed at this other self and my other self gazed back again. My face was a pale blob surrounded by darkness. Actually, that’s not a bad metaphor. A small white face surrounded by big black nothingness.

I was in trouble. I was in so much trouble. I’d been running for three days now, although it seemed much longer. I could barely remember a time when I wasn’t hurtling through the night on a half-empty train or rattling down strange lanes on a rural bus boarded at random.

My strategy was simple. To keep moving. If I never stopped moving they’d never be able to find me. Whether that was true or not, I didn’t know, but I found the thought comforting. Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving. The words ran through my head in time with the clack of the train wheels.

I couldn’t afford to fall asleep. I had to stay awake and keep checking my fellow passengers. I had to watch for anyone leaping on at the last moment or look out for someone who might be discreetly paying me extra attention. At any moment, I expected to hear the shout, ‘That’s her,’ or feel a heavy hand on my shoulder.  Or hear the sudden screech of brakes as a car pulled up and I was bundled inside before I had a chance to call for help.

I’d begun well. I’d run from my house in Rushford, suitcase in hand, down the hill and across the bridge. In a blind panic I might have been, but the sensible part of my brain took me to the bank.

Inventing some family emergency – I don’t know why I did that. I kept telling myself I had no need to account for my withdrawals, but it seemed I couldn’t help it – I withdrew as much cash as I could without awkward questions being asked.

From there, I pushed my way along the crowded post-Christmas pavements, heart thumping with fear, always looking over my shoulder, desperate to reach the railway station.

Mindful of the ever-present CCTV cameras, I kept my face down and, to the bemusement of the ticket clerk, bought a one-way ticket to Edinburgh and then another to Penzance. I was hasty and frightened and I dropped things and my hands were shaking and I knew he would remember me. Just for good measure, I used my credit card to buy the tickets. I was certain they would be monitoring my bank account.

From there, I trundled my suitcase into the Ladies and turned my coat inside out. It looked odd but that was the least of my worries and now it was silver instead of black, which was the best I could do for the time being.

Leaving the Ladies, I left the station as well, heading for the bus depot next door. I counted three buses down the line and jumped on the fourth. I had no idea where it was going to but that wasn’t important. It was the going from that was so vital.

I jumped off the bus at the next town and did exactly the same thing again – three buses along, catch the fourth, jump off that one at a randomly selected stop – and do it all again.

I ate sandwiches of varying quality as I went. I slept in snatches, sometimes only for seconds, waking with a jerk at strange noises or sudden braking. Or I huddled, too cold to sleep, on hideously cold metal seats in bus stations. The ones specifically designed to prevent anyone ever being comfortable on them. I had no idea where I was most of the time. I kidded myself this was a good thing. That if I had no idea where I was then neither would anyone else.

And always, I kept moving. I never stopped. After three days, I was exhausted. I smelled. I looked dreadful and felt worse. Three days seemed a very long time and they hadn’t caught me yet. Was it possible I had escaped? Had I actually managed to get away? And for how long could I stay away?

It was when I was alighting from my umpteenth bus on its way to somewhere unknown that my legs gave way. I struggled to a nearby bench and sat down heavily. People were looking at me, probably thinking I was drunk or on drugs or both. This had to stop. I hadn’t been well when I’d run from Michael Jones and now I was making myself really ill. I’d done headlong panic – now I needed to slow down and think carefully. I’d run from the past. Now I needed to plan for the future.

I emerged from the bus station into a busy but anonymous town. Traffic roared past in several different directions. I stood for a while, getting my bearings, while people streamed around me on the pavement. Everyone seemed to have somewhere to go. Except me. There was a large department store opposite and I trundled shakily across the road to use their facilities. They had a very nice restroom and I washed as much of me as was possible and scrabbled in my suitcase for something else to wear.

I’d only packed for the Christmas holiday – and what a long time ago that seemed now. Almost another life – so I didn’t have a great deal of choice, and then I realised I was in a department store. They sold clothes. And toiletries. And I had money. I could hear Michael Jones’ exasperation. ‘Really Cage, you’re not bright, are you?’

I bought another pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts and warm sweaters. And a beanie. All in greys and blacks. I had gone off colour forever. Colour had been the curse of my life. And I bought a new coat as well. I asked them to cut off all the labels and changed in the toilets.

Examining myself in the mirror, I looked completely different. The beanie covered my hair and a scarf covered my face. I was pleased with the result and this gave me enough confidence to sit in their café and gulp down a hasty bowl of soup and a sandwich. I was huddled in a corner, as out of the way as I could manage, but when someone dropped a plate it frightened me so much I nearly jumped out of my skin, and the urge to move started up again. I stuffed down the rest of the sandwich and headed back to the train station where I bought a ticket for the first town whose name I recognised. I wouldn’t go all the way. I’d jump off at a random station and do it all again.

Keep moving. I had to keep moving.

Anyway, here I was, staring at myself in a blank window, wondering what I was doing, where I was going, and what on earth I was going to do when I got there.

Pre-order now – publication date 25th October 2018

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Also available on Audible

Publication Obligations Fulfilled

Publication Obligations Fulfilled – Time to Hit the Wine! And Chocolate! And Twiglets – which are enjoying a bit of a revival with me at the moment. This is a bit of a long title but I know Accent Press will take it in their stride.

 

So, I’m feeling very virtuous at the moment. I’ve sent the Christmas story off to Accent Press. It should be available for pre-order soon, so look out for And Now For Something Completely Different.

I’ve also finished the next St Mary’s book – Hope For the Best. I think that one’s out next April. And now, with all my publishing obligations fulfilled for the year, I thought I could sit back – well, sprawl on the sofa, actually – consume a mountain of chocolate and generally do nothing for a while.

I have to tell you – that lasted nearly twenty minutes. I don’t know what the universe has against me actually sitting down and doing nothing but I was just unwrapping my second bar of chocolate when I had an idea. Quite a strong one actually – I thought I’d just jot down a few notes because I have the memory of … forgotten what I was saying … but notes turned into full paragraphs and now I’m off again. And I’ve made a start on the next book, as well, which hopefully is going to be about the Time Police. So there we go – only twenty minutes without actually writing something. Is there something wrong with me?

Anyway, the next thing on my calendar is Cardiff Comicon on 22nd and 23rd September. We’ll be there with our usual table full of books, drinking tea, gossiping, discussing past and future books and in my case, harassing Wookies and Daleks. I was chased by a Dalek at London Comicon. It had a bucket marked Great Ormond Street on the end of its weapon stick and was intoning, ‘Donate. Donate. You will donate.’ I donated. It seemed the wisest thing to do.

In October we’re celebrating the release of Dark Light – out on the 25th, I think. For anyone near Gloucester, there’s a pre-pub signing on the 20th at Waterstones, exclusively to them, then scrumptious Afternoon Tea at Octavo’s in Cardiff on the 27th.

Also on the 25th October, for all my French readers, the French version of A Symphony of Echoes is published. The title is D’Echo en Echos. Apologies to French speakers everywhere – I can’t do the accent thingies. Don’t tell Accent.

And then, in November, I think we have Just One Damned Things’s fifth birthday. Five years! I can hardly believe it. I’ve written sixteen books altogether and I can’t count how many short stories. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t talking to myself, or scribbling in an old notebook, or even just standing staring into space while the world happens around me.

Which brings us to Christmas again. Another year nearer the grave as I always say when feeling at my cheeriest.

Another Catering Catastrophe

OK – I’ve not had the best day in the world. The kitchen lurches towards completion and today the oven turned up. It’s a lot more sophisticated than my old one – which basically was just a warm box – and required much reading of the instruction book and under the breath muttering.

However, we got there in the end – the light came on and it roared into life. I bunged in stuffed peppers, fish cakes and four jacket potatoes. Task completed, I returned to the Christmas Story – something I need to get a move on with after a telephone call from Accent Press this morning which covered such wide-ranging topics as my failure to understand megabytes and their purpose, my failure to deal rationally with deadlines, Hazel’s non-use of a bucket in a field in Wales, my stupidity in completing the next St Mary’s full-length novel instead of the Christmas Story, exactly why didn’t I have a kitchen yet, the pre-orders for Dark Light, why hadn’t I finished the Christmas Story, making A Bachelor Establishment free for a while, and why the bloody hell hadn’t I finished the Christmas Story yet?

I’ve completely forgotten where I was. Where was I? Yes – the oven. And my failed attempt at catering.

I have to say oven technology has moved on a bit. I reached in to see how things were going – you know, give everything a bit of a poke but everything was ten times hotter than I was expecting  and I burned myself really badly on a potato.

I shrieked in pain – all those people who think Max is based on me have no idea how wrong they are – and somehow – don’t ask me how – the potato leaped from the oven and rolled across the floor, finishing up under the units, obviously, because the plinths aren’t in yet and I had to crawl about on my hands and knees and retrieve a red-hot tuber from – obviously – the furthest and most inaccessible corner.

It was still burning hot so I slung it back into the oven asap and it bounced straight back out again bringing the other three with it. They all rolled across the floor, one in each corner where they lay oscillating between incandescent and inaccessible.

I eventually got them bundled back into the oven and, worried it might have cooled in my absence, I very, very gently placed my last unburned hand on the fishcake and the crust caved in and the next minute I was up to my wrist in  a lump of molten lava – or fishcake as it misleadingly said on the packet.

I swear, at this point, I didn’t have a single unburned digit. I’d only been cooking for twenty minutes and I’d already lost the use of both hands. Imagine the state of me by Friday.

I’m now sitting watching The Big Bang Theory and holding a pot of frozen yoghurt in each hand. Yes, I know I look ridiculous. No, I don’t care. It’s been made very clear to me that NOTHING must stand between Accent Press and the receipt of the Christmas Story so enough whimpering and more work. And, for anyone still interested,  I’m only eating  sandwiches for the rest of my life.

Some Food for Thought

I met Jasper Fforde a couple of years ago – we were on a panel together at the Llandeilo BookFest. I’ve always enjoyed his writing and to meet him in person was a huge treat for me. So, as you can imagine, I was eagerly awaiting his latest book – Early Riser. I’m still kitchenless so now is the perfect time to curl up with a good book.

Looking it up on Amazon, I was amazed at some of the reviews he’s been getting and not in a good way. I think we’ve touched on this subject before – reviews. Good and bad – how important are they?

For some reason – and it won’t have had anything to do with Jasper Fforde himself – the Kindle price has been set at £13.99, while the paperback price is £7.99 and, not surprisingly, there have been a number of adverse comments and one-star reviews. There’s also been a comment from someone who received the book in a bad condition. And that isn’t anything to do with Jasper, either.

I get that people are upset about the price. I get that someone is disappointed their book arrived with torn pages, but why do people persist in leaving one-star reviews complaining about something that is absolutely nothing to do with the author? If you check out the page you’ll see that his agent has taken the really quite unusual step of using the Amazon review page to point this out. I don’t think I can ever remember that happening before but if people will insist on using the review system for a purpose it was never intended then I suppose there’s nothing to stop Mr Fforde’s agent responding in kind.

We’ve all had these sort of reviews. My personal favourite is:

Ordered in error. Couldn’t be bothered to read it. One star.

Thus indicating the reviewer has more than mastered the unbelievably complex one-click Amazon ordering system, read the book thoroughly and produced a balanced and thoughtful review outlining their conclusions.

Authors rely on reviews to sell their books. Good ones, preferably. They’re very important to us. One-star reviews about something over which the author has no control are heartbreaking. I myself am about to break the habit of a lifetime and spend much more than I normally would on a Kindle book out of sheer bloody-mindedness and fellow author support. It is a lot of money and I don’t urge anyone to follow my example, but if you were considering buying Early Riser then perhaps this will help you make up your mind.

Firemen, Comicon, and Dark Light updates

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the delay – I lost the power cable to my laptop and yesterday was a stressful disaster with lost cables, my kitchen being ripped out, my first Smartphone – which has replaced my beloved Turkish Brick – power cuts, our lovely building manager being stuck in the lift, and firemen,

Rather disappointingly, they refused to take off their uniforms. I’ve seen that advert. The one with the woman in the bath with her toe stuck in the tap. The one where one of the firemen suggests they take off their uniforms to avoid being splashed and his boss agrees so they take off their clothes. Except for their helmets and boots, of course. Nice to see Health and Safety making itself useful for a change.

Anyway, setting aside half-naked firemen – but only temporarily in my case – I wanted to thank everyone who dropped by at Comicon over the weekend. And special thanks to those who brought gifts. I love presents.

I am now the proud owner of a pair of pink ears. They have bells attached and I love them. And thanks to the lady who made the roses – Yorkshire, Lancashire and Tudor.

And huge thanks for Oscar the Ringworm now living happily on my bookcase.

And thanks for the lovely tea-wallet.

And for all the chocolate.

I met so many lovely people as well. I was shattered when I got back but it was a wonderful experience and I loved every minute of it.

I’m taking August very quietly – well, at the moment I have no kitchen so I don’t have a lot of choice – but the next biggie on the horizon is the sequel to White Silence. Dark Light is published on 25th October and now available for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

For those who are interested, there’s an exclusive preview signing at Waterstones in Gloucester on Saturday 20th October and one of our sumptuous Afternoon Teas on Saturday 27th October at Octavo’s Bookshop in Cardiff.

We’re also putting together plans for a special Christmas Tea in December so I hope to see some of you at one of these events. Full details will be available on this page later.

I typed that yesterday. Since then I have continued the disaster theme by pouring boiling water all over my desk, my notes for the next St Mary’s story, and my long-suffering mouse. I don’t know what happened – I just missed the mug completely. Back to bed, perhaps ….

Hi Everyone

Hi Everyone,

 

Firstly, apologies for the long gap since my last blog – I’ve been really busy and today I finished the first draft of the next St Mary’s book. Before anyone asks – it’s out next year. I don’t have a date yet.

I’ve really slaved over this one and haven’t really had time to do much else over the last few months. The book kind of took over my life – apparently I’ve been slightly unsociable and for heaven’s sake don’t tell Accent Press I haven’t even made a start on the Christmas story yet.

Matters were further delayed by Bruce Pavier posting the singing policemen video on the Fans of St Mary’s page. I’ve never been one for cute cats or painting elephants or people having horrific skateboarding accidents, but for some reason I can’t stop watching it. I don’t know why but I’m beginning to suspect some deep-rooted psychological issues. If the next book’s late – blame Bruce.

Some news to start with –

White Silence is being featured in Kindle’s Summer Sale and is currently priced at 99p

The Nothing Girl is currently FREE! And is about to featured in a Bookbub promotion beginning, I think, on 17th July.

The Steam-Pump Jump comes out on the 12th July on Kindle UK and on Audible. Sorry – I’ve no idea what’s going on in the US.

London Comicon is on the 27th, 28th and 29th July this year. We’ll be there for all three days and I really hope some of you will be able to make it. There’ll be books and bags and stuff, together with Hazel and me all ready to eat chocolate and have a good gossip. No future plots will be given away unless wine and large sums of money are forthcoming.

The sequel to White SilenceDark Light – should be available for pre-order soon. Keep an eye on my facebook pages for details.

For all those kind people who enquired after the wellbeing of my ganglion – not my wellbeing, you’ll notice – it remains an ex-ganglion. I do, however, have an extremely throbby wrist, so if any of you are possibly considering employing Accent Press to tackle similar problems in a similar way – it’s probably best if you don’t. I might as well say now – there’s not a great deal of sympathy coming out of Accent, either. I suspect I’ll be getting a bill for damage to the mobile phone any day now. You’d think someone would have developed a ganglion-removing app by now, wouldn’t you? There’s an app for everything else.

In other news, I went to prison last week. And a very enjoyable experience it was. At the request of his wife, I took my brother the eminent author with me. I can still run faster than he can – there are small rocks that can run faster than he can – so I kept dashing off and leaving him. Or slamming cell doors in his face, but sadly he found his way back out again. It was actually very interesting. We heard all sorts of gruesome stories and visited the condemned cell which bore a startling resemblance to my room when I was in the RAF. Apparently, public executions were carried out on the roof and were considered first-rate family entertainment. The eminent author took some photos – some of which are attached. See what you think. At least, unlike the West Kennet Long Barrow, I didn’t fall down a hole this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies to all the people who have commented on my previous blogs and not received a reply. For some reason I’ve had some problems accessing the site. I now have some magical procedure to follow that should solve all my problems. Fingers crossed.

Promising Author Incurs Massive Injuries at Cardiff Comicon. Dazzling Career Cut Short.

We’ll not see her like again. She will be deeply missed. Sorry, who are we talking about here?’ – Accent Press.

 

Well, here I am at last. Back home again after another Cardiff Comicon. First things first – hello and thanks to everyone who popped by. Especially the lovely lady from Hungary who recognised JODTAA, ‘because it’s very popular in Hungary.’ Barely had I picked myself up off the floor when she informed us that the Hungarian version of ASOE had also been released and was doing rather well, too. Hazel was speechless – a phenomenon which really made the whole weekend worthwhile, trust me! She’s going to kill me for saying that.

Not that she hasn’t already had a good go already. I happened to mention Gareth the Ganglion and how, despite decades of massive NI contributions, I’d been unable to persuade the NHS to deal with it – and the next thing – out of nowhere – her mobile phone came whistling through the air to impact on poor old unsuspecting Gareth like a 747 jet hitting the runway with no undercarriage. There was shooting agony all up one arm and massive, massive bad language. And not in that order, either. To say nothing of funny looks from adjacent stall holders. And no difference to Gareth either, except we could add extensive bruising and epic throbbing to the mix.

But – I woke up this morning and it’s much, much smaller, although I suspect it’s probably just crouching with its eyes shut and expecting the worst at any moment. But there is a definite improvement. Obviously, I could write to Accent Press and report success but I’d never hear the last of it and they’d almost certainly charge me for wear and tear to the phone.

Anyway, again, thanks to everyone who turned up. Double thanks to those who bought some books and double double thanks to those who brought chocolate. You know who you are. Sian.

In other news, JODTAA is to be a BookBub Special Offer in June, so keep your eyes peeled for details.

And – and I was barely functioning through multiple layers of pain at the time so don’t ask for any extra info – not only are we at London Comicon in July, but we might be at the Newcastle one as well. That’s the one in October. Where, presumably, Hazel will be assaulting me all over again. I suspect she’s had the electric bill and now the electrodes are off the table for a while so she’s having to improvise. Good job, Hazel

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Weird or What?

All right – here’s a confession. Brace yourselves.

I’ve never read a single one of my books. Or the short stories.

I don’t know what it is – I simply can’t do it.

I usually start to write the next book as I’m about two thirds of the way through the book I’m currently writing because I find my thoughts straying and then I just have to open a new file and get it all written down. Well, I say all – it’s a skeleton story, some background notes, preliminary research, thoughts, questions and so on. Its only a couple of thousand words to begin with, but I’ll spend more and more time on it – usually to the detriment of my current book and the frustration of Accent Press – All Hail Accent Press – until I’m writing to the two almost consecutively. By the time I’ve finished the first book I’m sometimes half way through the second.

But – and this is the point I’m lurching towards – going forwards is easy. On to the next book and then the next and so on. What I can’t do is go back. It’s the same with painting. I know Monet painted haystacks and lily ponds over and over again but I can’t do that. Once a thing is done – it’s done. Same with my books.

Yes, I tell myself that by the time I’ve researched it, written it, re-written it, edited it, edited it again, and again, read the proof and so on, it’s not surprising that I never want to see it again, but that’s not really an excuse.

And I have all my author’s copies, of course, gathering fluff on my never-dusted bookshelves, so it’s not as if I have to buy them (although I do because I need the sales) but there they sit as fresh and perfect as the day I unpack them because they’re never read. I just can’t do it. I don’t know why. Weird or what?

I really feel that with so many people saying they’re about to embark on a re-read of the series – or worse, they’re on their umpteenth re-read of the series – I really should make a start myself.

So, I’ve made a decision. I’ve been putting it off for a long time but I need to grit my teeth, begin with JODTAA and re-read. I need to start at the beginning and go on to the very end. Including the short stories. It’s ridiculous not to be able to read my own work. I need to get a grip. Of course, it would have been a good idea not to have left it so late. That’s thirteen books to struggle through and I’ve lost count of the short stories.

I think I know what it is. I’m going to read a paragraph and think, ‘Good grief, what was I thinking there? That’s a really bad bit of writing.’ Or, ‘I need to change that.’ Or, ‘I don’t like that bit.’ Or, ‘That bit’s clumsy,’ and before I know where I am I’ll be pestering Accent Press for time to rewrite the entire series and I can hear them laughing already.

I’m making excuses. I don’t want to do it.  What is wrong with me?

 

PS. Since writing the above, The Battersea Barricades has been released. I was a little tense about this one. The whole thing was pure imagination. I had to create a political world, invent a crisis, indulge in tactical and military thinking and I had to do it all by myself because there was no historical framework to fall back on. Thanks for enjoying it. I have to say I really fell in love with these three ladies and it looks as if some of you have as well.

PPS. Yes, I promise I’ll shut up in a moment – 12th and 13th May is Cardiff Comicon and we’ll be there, signing books, glugging tea and having a good old gossip. There’ll be the odd bit of merchandise as well – the usual St Mary’s bags, mugs and notebooks, so do try and pop along if you can. It’s a great day out. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and everyone has a fantastic time. Hope to see you there.

 

Guest Post: Zara Ramm

Hello all you lovely Jodi Taylor fans out there. My name is Zara Ramm and I am the reader of all those wonderful tales from St. Mary’s.

Jodi has asked me to say a little about how I bring her brilliant words to your eyes and ears.

So where to start?

Well… I have been an actor for twenty seven years doing mainly theatre and television. In the last ten years I have also been recording audio books as well which I sort of fell into and found I really enjoy. Which is lucky as I do quite a lot of them.

It’s a funny old job as you sit and prep the book (i.e make tons of notes and decisions about what voices and accents you are going to give all the different characters) and then spend two or three days sitting in a tiny studio with a producer in the next room making sure you don’t talk total rubbish and letting you out for a cup of tea every few hours.

You could of course risk not reading it before you record it and just wing it in the studio. Not a great idea though as you might get to the end of the recording and find out that all the characters were French!

I love a dialect so am very happy to give characters all manner of them but sometimes a change of pitch or pace is all that is needed to distinguish one character from another.

Unless specifically requested by the author I will always narrate in my own accent and then add different voices for lesser parts as I get to them, as sustaining a voice that isn’t your natural voice for a whole book is pretty demanding. I did do that with a Geordi accent once and also Glaswegian but it was quite hard work!

Reading and recording The Chronicles of St. Mary’s is always a treat… Here’s to many more! Thanks Jodi for giving me the opportunity to record them and thank you readers and lovers of audio books for continuing to read and listen to them.