Lies, Damned Lies, and History. Note to self: write books with shorter titles!

Lies, Damned Lies, and History.

Note to self: write books with shorter titles!

Well, here we are again. Another book done and dusted. I can’t fiddle any longer. I’ve been through the manuscript and scattered commas everywhere and I’ve been back through and9781910939000 taken them all out again. I’ve fiddled, changed words, re-written, frowned and fretted, and now the moment has come to overcome separation anxiety and actually send the thing off to my publishers, the world-leading Accent Press. Yes, that Accent Press – they of the platinum helicopters, caviar breakfasts and private dungeon. Or the Author Recreational Room with Stimulation and Encouragement as they like us to refer to it. And it is true, a couple of weeks with your head in their ARRSE, and the words just fly from your keyboard.

I’ve fiddled, changed words, re-written, frowned and fretted, and now the moment has come to overcome separation anxiety and actually send the thing off to my publishers…

Anyway, completion of the manuscript means I have to send the damned thing off, so it’s time to take the half-dozen lightly oiled young men from the cupboard – I can’t believe I forgot to send them back last time – dust them down, book the band, notify the Queen, shut down Parliament for the day – will anyone notice? – and wave goodbye to my baby.

There will be the usual tearful scenes. I gather my ragged clothes around me and follow the manuscript as it is borne aloft by the aforesaid young men. Today, the minefield has been switched off and we are allowed to cross the hallowed acres of the Accent Press Car Park. Senior staff, wearing their ordinary day clothes of gold lame and casually sprinkled diamonds, emerge from the multi-storeyed Accent Press HQ – think Dark Tower with added battlements and shrieking – and climb into their Ferraris and Lamborghinis for the endurance testing two hundred yard trip to accept the manuscript.

To a hushed silence, the manuscript is formally handed over. At a given signal, pennies are graciously tossed and somewhere, as part of the Encouragement Scheme, a lucky Accent author will be permitted a quick glimpse of the sun.

I grovel in the Accent-approved manner, the young men glisten magnificently, angels sing,
unseen hands fling open the front door, the unicorn rears, the band plays loudly enough to drown the sounds of Accent authors receiving yet more Stimulation and Encouragement, and then it’s gone. The massive doors close with a boom and we all have two point five seconds to vacate the sacred carpark before they let loose the Kraken.

And I open a file, name it Book 8, and stare at the screen …

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An exclusive first-look extract from “Lies, Damned Lies, and History”

 

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A sneak preview of Lies, Damned Lies, and History!

Prologue

I’ve never been one for rules. They don’t really seem to apply to me. I can’t begin to count the 9781910939000number of times I’ve had to stand in front of someone’s desk while they talked at me, sometimes for some considerable length of time. The only good thing is that usually, it’s only me involved.

But not this time. This time I was in serious trouble. This time I’d done something really bad. Never mind that I thought it was for the best of reasons. This time I’d really gone too far.

I couldn’t complain. Not long ago, Dr Bairstow, who always saw further than anyone else at St Mary’s, had tried to warn me, saying, ‘You need to take care, Max. Great care. You are beginning to tread the line between what is acceptable and what is not. From there, it only takes the smallest step to find you have stepped over that line and that you have done the wrong thing for the right reasons. I am warning you, in future, to be very, very careful.’

I should have listened to him and I didn’t. This time, I’d not just crossed the line – I’d practically pole-vaulted over it.

And this time I’d involved Peterson – whose future at St Mary’s was looking very shaky indeed.

And Markham who, thanks to me, would now probably never succeed Major Guthrie as head of the Security Section.

And that wasn’t the worst of it. People had lost their jobs. Roberts, my youngest historian had given in his notice. He’d insisted on trying to take all the blame. There had been a brief shouting session with Dr Bairstow and then Roberts was gone, hurling himself through the front doors and crashing the gears of his car in his haste to get down the drive and out of the gates. With the state he was in, I shouldn’t have let him go, but there was no holding him.

And David Sands – long-time friend and ally. He’d resigned, too.

And possibly the worst of all, the Chancellor of the University of Thirsk, Dr Chalfont, who had fought our corner on so many occasions – she was out as well. She’d stood her ground and argued for us – which was good of her because she’d been more furious with me than anyone else, Dr Bairstow included – and the knives that had been waiting for this opportunity for years came out. She’d been allowed to retire. Ill health, they said, but that was just for public show. I’d got her sacked as well. And Dr Bairstow was only hanging on by the skin of his teeth.

I’ve done some stupid things. I’ve been reckless, but never have I ruined so many lives or left such a trail of destruction behind me.

I suppose the story begins with Bashford’s attempt to emulate William Tell.

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Jodi Taylor: A Bit of a Blog

A Bit of a Blog

 I’m continuing with Lisa’s questions which I should have done weeks ago, but I hit a bit of a purple patch with Book 7 and then got caught up in a possible sequel to The Nothing Girl. Sorry!

Do I have a day job?

Yes, I do – writing. And it’s a night job as well. I’d like to be able to say I write 24 hours a day because I fear nothing less will satisfy some of my readers, but it comes in peaks and troughs.

I write first thing in the morning – anytime from 5.00am onwards. I usually pause around mid-morning to contemplate the possibility of housework, reject the whole idea, and write until lunchtime.

I laze around for a while, watching TV or painting, thinking out plots and dialogue, blogging (doing it now!), and answering emails. Chocolate is usually involved. I tut at the state of the house, wonder why the fridge is always empty, and pick up my writing again around 6ish.

The most important part of the day is bathtime – especially now that a friend has given me a waterproof notebook – because I can sit up to my ears in bubbles – not an attractive picture, I know, but you did ask – and let my mind drift wherever it wants to go. I’ve had some amazing ideas in the bath. Is it me or does that sentence sound slightly improper?

I do try and switch it off when I go to bed, curling up with a good book, but I’m often woken up by Max or Markham yammering away about something or other and I have to rummage amongst Kindles, laptops, sundry notebooks, bent biros (I keep sleeping on them), tissues, research notes and other writing paraphernalia to get it all written down before I forget it.

I mention all this only so everyone is aware that I don’t really spend all my time lolling around and watching TV and consuming the product of the cocoa bean.

How much of Max is in me?

This is not easy to answer. I say not much – Max is brave, organised, likeable and so on. I’m grumpy, argumentative and don’t have red hair.

Other people say quite a lot – they can hear my voice in the things she says. I should point out her language is worse than mine.

We’re both short because they say you should write what you know and I have no idea what it’s like to be tall.

Do I love tea as much as St Mary’s?

Yes.

Why did I publish A Bachelor Establishment as Isabella Barclay?

A very good question!

9781783759705_FCThere was a bit of a discussion when I submitted the manuscript, but basically it came aboutbecause ABE was so different to anything I’d written before, that it was felt some readers might be disappointed. Especially male readers. I was instructed to think up a new name, and believe me, it’s not easy. I wandered around the house, seriously depleting the world’s supply of Jaffa Cakes and then emailed my editor for help.

‘Something soft and romantic-sounding,’ she said, helpfully, so that was Dirk Thrust kicked into touch.

I had a bit of a think and sat down to make two lists. Forenames and surnames, and then I started to put them together. I have to say I was rather taken with Clare Alexander but she turned out to be someone famous in the publishing world so that was out. Second choice was Gianna Rossi because I saw myself, dark and mysterious, penning deathless literature, but somehow it wasn’t quite right.

The name Isabella was on my list and I thought, ‘Well, why not Isabella Barclay?’ I honestly never thought I’d get away with it, but I did. And yes, I do have some ideas for a couple of Regency Romances, but they have to wait their turn.

That’s the end of Lisa’s questions – thank you very much, Lisa – and before anyone asks – yes, I’ll be straight on with Book 7 as soon as I send this off. It’s coming on quite nicely, and I’ve even made a bit of a start with Book 8.

Happy Weekend everyone!

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Jodi Taylor on surviving Cardiff Comic Con

12065486_572493439568125_2619137809296327011_nSorry there’s been such a long gap since my last post – as most of you know, I’ve been to Cardiff Comic Con and what an exhilarating and exhausting experience that turned out to be.

Firstly, thanks to all the people who turned up at our table, introducing themselves and wanting to chat. It was lovely to meet you all and talk about favourite books and characters in the series. It really does seem that everyone takes something different from The Chronicles of St Mary’s.

Secondly – every other person was in costume and they were all amazing. There were Dr Who’s – in every incarnation – together with Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels. There was every12190103_572493426234793_8529426770089438988_n conceivable character from Star Wars and Star Trek (and unlike Penny in The Big Bang Theory, I do know the difference!) Interestingly, most of the Spocks were women and a significant number of Princess Leias were men. If anyone has any theories as to why that should be so … Game of Thrones was popular and there were several people who’d either come as Transformers or had collided with the contents of their cutlery drawers!

What was most noticeable was the friendliness and enthusiasm of everyone there. A great time was obviously being had by all – even the six-month-old Caped Crusader, beaming at everyone from his dad’s arms and wearing his tiny Batman socks.

Anyway, I arrived home and spent the next few days recovering. I have absolutely no recollection of Wednesday at all. I think I missed it completely. That, my hideous cold and the fact that PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MUCKING AROUND WITH THE CLOCKS AGAIN are all contributing to my already very slender grasp on who and where I am and what’s going on. I suspect that this year it will take even more chocolate than usual to see me through.

I wrote all that last night when my life seemed a little less phlegm-philled than before. Buoyed up by this false dawn of recovery I sallied forth to yoga and spent a lot of time upside down and opening my chakras. Not simultaneously, obviously. Staggering back into the street several hours later with my sinuses blocked and my chakras gaping, I paused only for the traditionally healthy post-yoga treat of egg and chips and a Kit Kat before taking to my bed.

This may be my last blog ever. God knows what I have but it’s pretty nasty so it’s probably best if no one kisses their screens in fond farewell.

Farewell…

 

The new St Mary’s Audible prequel launches at Cardiff Comic Con this weekend!

…and special Christmas present for lovers of St Mary’s.

A little while ago, I had a thought. Not something that happens too often. I left my smoking laptop, wandered around, made some tea, wandered around a bit more, looked in the fridge, averted my eyes, and finally gave in. I sat back at my desk, pushed aside all the stuff about the Pleistocene Park, Bosworth, and Thurii, and started with a completely clean slate.

The result was a short – no, actually quite long – story about the origins of St Mary’s. How Dr Bairstow assembled his team. Where the money came from. They’re all there – Markham, Guthrie and his security team, Dr Foster, Professor Rapson and Dr Dowson, even Mrs Mack. There’s even a very quick appearance at Waterloo by some old friends. As you can imagine, it was enormous fun to write – there are all sorts of little jokes in there that mean something to me, even if they’re completely incomprehensible to normal people.

Anyway, I sent it off, not completely sure the geniuses at Accent Press would like it, but they did. They liked it so much they arranged for me to go to London to record the story myself – sorry if anyone is expecting another immaculate performance from Zara Ramm – you’ve got a chipmunk with a Bristol accent for this one.

“Sorry if anyone is expecting another immaculate performance from Zara Ramm – you’ve got a chipmunk with a Bristol accent for this one.”

I have to say, it was tremendously enjoyable – the studios are incredible and all the lovely people at Audible made me very welcome. Recording was very much easier than I thought it would be. Note to self: watch what you write in future. Phrases like ‘the unfamiliarly familiar’ should be avoided at all costs. What was I thinking?

As I said, it’s a long short story – about twenty thousand words – and it took a couple of hours to read through. Sadly, there were photos afterwards and I was offered yet another opportunity to display my total unphotogenicness. And yes, I made up that word, partly because I’m a writer and I can and partly because, as yet, the English language contains no word to describe my complete unphotogenicness. A deficiency now rectified.

If you’re wondering about the good news, here it is. The audio version is being released on the 24th October, to coincide with the Cardiff Comic Con – and it will be free.AudibleJodiT updated

The Kindle version will come out on Christmas Day. A special Christmas Present from me and my publishers, Accent Press, to all my lovely readers out there. To say thank you for all your support and encouragement.

Click here  to order the Kindle edition for only 99p!

So there you go folks. Christmas afternoon – find a quiet corner away from everything (and I’m laughing as I type that!), a glass of something good in one hand, your Kindle in the other and enjoy …

For the free Audible copy click on the image above.