Short Story News & Sneak Peek!

great day out pre

Well, the big news is that The Great St Mary’s Day Out is available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.  And before anyone asks, I’m checking Audible twice a day and will post as soon as it becomes available there as well.

I include a sneak-peek of the opening below, just to whet your appetites and raise levels of frustration across the board.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I walked Matthew around St Mary’s because a few things needed to be made clear.

‘All right, people. This is a baby. A small human. His name is Matthew and he is not to be floated across the lake in a Moses basket just to see if it could have happened. Nor is he to be stuffed into a warming pan and smuggled into someone’s bed. He is not to be dangled off a balcony and presented to the Welsh people as a non-English speaking Prince of Wales. Permission to include him in any of the imaginative events currently being planned by the History Department is to be sought from his father, Chief Farrell, and good luck to anyone trying that. He is not to be used as a paperweight. Or ballast. Or a draught excluder. Everyone clear?’

You have to tell people these things. Especially at St Mary’s.

Also, for anyone in the Cardiff area, I’m at the Octavo Café Bookshop in the Cardiff Bay area on 16th July, giving a quick talk on how I managed to get published – a miracle in itself, given the amount of wine consumed and my general technical ineptitude – having a chat about my books to anyone kind enough to show an interest, and signing said books. Actually, I’m well known for signing anything shoved in front of me – contracts to star in the film of the story of my life, execution warrants, blank cheques and so on and so forth.

I am reliably informed that this is the link for the event, so I have no hesitation in posting it here, secure in the knowledge that finer minds than mine at Accent will check it over on my behalf.

http://bit.ly/28IWEfB

In other news, I’ve finished the Christmas story and sent it off to Accent Press. Entitled My Name is Markham, this one’s a little bit special because all the royalties will go to the Help for Heroes Charity and so I do urge everyone to buy it. Actually, I always do that anyway, but this year, please consider yourself doubly urged. It should be out on Christmas Day, and I’m expecting to be held responsible for any number of disrupted Christmas lunches. We did the same last year and one lovely reader reported she selflessly did her duty in the morning, then flung a tin of Quality Street and the TV remote at her family, and made herself scarce with her Kindle. As well as being special, it’s also a little bit different. The story this year is told by Mr Markham. Watch this space…

The Great St Mary’s Day Out is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Jodi Taylor answers her fan question: Fact or Fiction?

You tend to pick some things out and describe them in detail – smells, weather, etc. Do you specifically try to base these on theories or do you make them up?

Yes and yes.

There – I think that answers that question!

Seriously, if I know the event I’m writing about takes place on a rainy day then I have to say so obviously, but from that moment on, a lot of it comes out of my head. Actually, that sounds quite unpleasant, but you know what I mean. When I wrote about the Great Library at Alexandria burning, I was actually there. How hot would it be? What would I smell? How easy would it be to see? To move? What hazards would there be? What could go wrong? What might go right – because, believe or not, sometimes that does happen. What are Max’s reactions to what is going on around her. What will she do next?

So yes, I was there when the roof came down and she was on fire. I was there when she was slowly roasting in her fire suit, unable to breathe properly, sweat stinging her eyes, panicking because her gloved hands couldn’t unfasten her smouldering suit. I was there.

Sorry – I do get carried away – be warned!

At the moment I’m writing about an event in which the weather conditions were the cause of the historical event, so at the moment, I’m looking at storm surges, flood defences, that sort of thing. Again, pages of notes will probably result in half a sentence, but that’s the way it goes. I will go on to try and establish some sort of framework. I’ll draw up a timeline, what happens to whom, when, and where they were when it happened. I’ll make a plan or map and work out how the characters move around. I’ll make sure, as best I can, that what I propose to do is feasible. Having then established a framework, I close my eyes and imagine the terror, confusion, devastation, the cold dirty water …

“The non-historical events that occur at St Mary’s, of course, are completely fictitious. Mostly. Although yes, I do know someone who did actually run into a horse’s bottom and it’s going to cost him a great deal of money to keep me quiet.”

1783758392This actually sums up what I’m trying to do for (and occasionally to) History. As I said in What Could Possibly Go Wrong, yes, we read about Joan of Arc in History books. The story always ends with – and she was burned at the stake in 1431, but that’s just a statement of fact. Dull, dry and boring. Close your eyes. What would it actually be like? How long does it take to burn a body? How did the people present react, always bearing in mind, of course, that our present day values and principles are not those of 1431. Events that would cause shock and horror today were treated much more casually then. Alternatively, of course, a throwaway joke that wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow today could win you a fun weekend for one with the Inquisition and end in having your tongue cut out. A town under siege by William the Bastard (or Conqueror as he probably preferred to be known) thought it would be hilarious to poke fun at his less than noble origins. When the town eventually fell, he continued the joke by having their hands and feet cut off.

Back to Joan – sorry, I do wander. Doesn’t your heart go out to my editor? – I researched the event, dates, times, places, etc., drew up my timeline, built my framework, and then inserted Max and the other historians into the picture. From that moment on, my control over events tends to evaporate because, if I’ve done my job properly, everything should unfold in my head, one scene after another as I frantically scribble or type (depending on where I am) trying to get it all down before it dissolves like so much smoke in the wind. And it does. It only takes the telephone to ring, or a voice in the street and it’s gone. That happens heartbreakingly often.

The non-historical events that occur at St Mary’s, of course, are completely fictitious. Mostly. Although yes, I do know someone who did actually run into a horse’s bottom and it’s going to cost him a great deal of money to keep me quiet. The ideas usually shoot into my head while I’m having a bath. No, I don’t know why, either. Interesting material for someone with psychological qualifications, I should think. I keep a pad and pen on the toilet for these little moments and twenty minutes later, I’m sitting in cold, scummy water scribbling away, damp and wrinkled. And that’s just the notebook. My idea to keep a whiteboard in the bathroom was subject to serious mockery.

Does anyone know if there’s such a thing as waterproof paper?

TwitterBannerOct2015

 

Today really has been – Just One Damned Thing After Another! @AccentPress

Hazel Cushion and Jodi TaylorHere I am in Sunny Wales – together with my publisher – the very lovely Hazel, who certainly knows the way to an author’s heart with good food, drink and excellent company. So far so good.

I’ve even met my editor – the delightful Bob – who soothed my nerves and assured me and editor’s job is not actually to change the plot, discard the end, alter the sex of the main protagonist, set the book in Hungary and write it in Swahili! A bit of a relief since I was expecting the worst.

Anyway, the day has progressed well, the staff are wonderful and made me so welcome. I’ve always been assured authors are bottom of the heap in the literary world and I was half expecting to find they’d locked the doors and were crawling about on the floor pretending they were out.

 

Just One Damned Thing After Another

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Series) Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Series)

“History is just one damned thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee

A mapcap new slant on history that seems to be everyone’s cup of tea…

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary’s, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don’t do ‘time-travel’ – they ‘investigate major historical events in contemporary time’. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power – especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document – to try and find the answers to many of History’s unanswered questions…and not to die in the process.

But one wrong move and History will fight back – to the death. And, as they soon discover – it’s not just History they’re fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from eleventh-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake …