PPW and Nicci French

I haven’t been posting lately because I was suffering a minor case of PPW: Post-Publication Withdrawal.

This is a condition where the newly published author is overcome by a sense of What have I done   How did this happen   I’m just an average boring stay-at-home old hag and now I have a book out and soon it will be discovered that I’m not actually an author at all but I’m just writing stuff and now I got it published and I need to go hide in a deep dark cave.

So that’s where I’ve been these last few weeks. In my cave. It’s a good cave too, with computer games, cats, tea, and hot and cold running water.

photo of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French
Nicci French go Dutch

Today I stepped out of the cave to announce a thing that my number one fan (aka Mum) has done.  She went to a book signing in the town where she lives, in the Netherlands. The signing was by Nicci French, one (or rather two) of our favourite authors. Nicci French is the pen name of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who together write thrilling crime novels.

Mum bought me a copy of Nicci French’s latest book Day of the Dead, and went to the signing to have it signed for me.  But not only that, no. Being a mum, she also took with her a copy of Gwithyas: Door to the Void to show to them, and she had a nice chat with them about it too.

So now those two massively famous authors have seen my little novel, and heard and read my name. I don’t know yet if that thought makes my PPW better or worse, but for now, I will proudly share what they wrote in my copy of ‘Day of the Dead’.

'Day of the Dead' by Nicci French, signed with message: Congratulations on your book! And Good Luck with your future writing! Sean French Nicci Gerrard
Signed for me by Nicci French

Thanks Mum!

British Fantasy Awards

The British Fantasy Society 2017 award ceremony has been and gone.
My publisher, Grimbold Books (Kristell Ink is an imprint) had won the award for the Best Independent Press!
And to think they are publishing my book… I am honoured!

Here is a good image of the logo cats, Grim and Bold, with their trophy:Grim and Bold celebrate

Short Story: Baby

One of the Writing-related groups I am in offered this writing prompt:

It was the first time the 17 year old Martin met a newborn baby.

This is what that prompt prompted me to write:


Baby. That’s what they called this smooth-skinned, wriggly thing. They’d presented it to Martin with obvious pride, which was unexpected, because the last time a wriggly hairless thing had entered the house – that one had been carried in by Martin, who’d found it in the garden- they’d screamed and they’d called it Snake and they’d grabbed the broom and swept it back into the garden.

To Martin, this new Baby appeared a lot more threatening than the Snake, because unlike the Snake, thBaby in baskete Baby made odd noises, smelled like sour milk and boasted a disconcerting number of flailing limbs. And yet, no one implemented the broom, and no one screamed. In fact, they cooed at this Baby in the high voices that were usually reserved for Martin. They also cooed at Martin and pointed the baby out to him. As if he’d miss it. Admitted, his eyes were not what they’d once been, but he still had a good sense of smell, and his hearing wasn’t that bad either. Right now, he heard: “Come on, Martin. Nothing to be scared off. She can’t hurt you. You’ll like her.”

Her? It was a her? And they wanted him to like this her? He sniffed the air. Still sour milk. And something else, too, something that reminded him of… of… No. It was gone. His memory certainly wasn’t what it had once been. But fine; if they were so convinced that this Baby posed no threat, and if they so wanted him to inspect it up close, he’d do it. Probably a bad idea, he thought, curiosity killed the cat and all that, but he stood up anyway and moved on his stiff legs towards the Baby.

The Baby was in a basket on the floor, so that was familiar enough, and Martin peered over the edge of the basket at the writhing Baby, and he sniffed. Still sour milk, but also still that other scent, the one he couldn’t remember, and there were smells of cloth and cream and human. Not any human, no. This baby carried the familiar smell of them, of the loved ones who’d brought this Baby home and who’d encouraged Martin to approach it, and that smell was the sweetest of all, even if it came from this undersized, wriggling, not-a-snake Baby.

Martin pushed his rickety body up on the basket. One of them said “No, Martin!” but the other said: “Leave him. We are here, we can keep an eye on things,” and Martin was left to clamber over the edge of the basket, which hurt his creaking joints, and then to lower himself on a soft surface next to the Baby. The Baby made a little noise, but this time it didn’t frighten Martin. He sniffed along the baby and found it had a nose, a tiny one, that could be licked, like Martin would often do with larger noses, and this confirmed that the Baby was indeed a Good Thing.

Martin lay down, sculpting his bony body to curl perfectly against the soft warmth of the Baby, and he inhaled deeply, that elusive smell that he now did remember from so very long ago. It was the smell of his youth, his mother, his siblings. The smell of family, and of love. Martin closed his glaucomic eyes and started to purr.


I write novels and short stories, mainly in the genre of speculative fiction. A quick online search offers me the following definitions of this term:

1. Speculative fiction: a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements.
2. Speculative fiction is a broad umbrella genre denoting any narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements; this encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, science fantasy, and superhero fiction, as well as combinations of the previous genres.

My novel ‘Gwithyas’- Door to the Void, published by Kristell Ink publishing, falls neatly in that category. It’s kind of horror, but not really. It could also be labelled paranormal fiction. Or even dark fantasy. At least, that’s what I think.

Here’s the ‘blurb’, and a glimpse of the cover art.

Zircon Gwithyas just wants to be a normal teenager, preferably one with a girlfriend. If you’re a spotty nerd with glasses as thick as jam jars, that isn’t easy.
It’s even harder when you live in a derelict manor on a haunted hill with a bunch of spooky eccentrics for a family, and the object of your affection is an irritable sword-wielding college student.
It becomes virtually impossible when you are dragged into a dark, chaotic semi-reality where your moderately-deceased ancestors expect you to save the world from a horde of grotesque demons with a fondness for torture.