#writephoto: Abomination

The photo is for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto Thursday Photo Prompt. It’s cheeky, I know, but it made me think of a scene from the beginning of Abomination, a not very pleasant scene, my contribution this week.


Tully groped about in the darkness until he found Carla’s hand. He had no idea if he had stopped falling, or if he had been moving at all. All he remembered was the sensation of being nowhere, of being nothing, nobody. Atoms dispersed in the void. Then he remembered the voices and a blind fear rose up and grabbed at his throat until he felt sick.

Calm down, he ordered himself. You’re not in pain and Carla’s here beside you.

“Carla?” he croaked, and the sound of his voice revealed the other sounds he had not noticed before, the faint tremor of Carla’s breath, a scraping when he moved a stone with his foot, the faint sigh that came from his rucksack when he shifted his weight on it. And the darkness was no longer total. Vague silhouettes cut the dim light in one direction. Carla squeezed his hand.

“Tully? You okay?”

“It’s too dark to see the blood,” he said, “but I think I can cope with the pain.”

He grinned hopefully but Carla’s face was strained, weary. “We must be trapped in the cellar. There was a quake. It sounded like the building came down on top of us.” Her eyes opened wide. “Tattoo!”

Carla felt about her as if she couldn’t decide if she was upright or lying down, sat up, waited for her head to stop spinning, then swaying slightly, got to her feet.

“Tattoo,” she called louder. Tully scrambled up too and took her hand. Together they made their way to the pale glimmer of light. “Hey, Tattoo! I see him.”

They stumbled toward the small shape, crouched and waiting, his tail twitching. The cat stayed where he was, giving no sign of recognition.

“It’s me, Carla, stupid! The one who opens the tins, remember?” She reached out her hand and the cat retreated, ears flush against his skull, his upper lip curled back in fear. “Tattoo?”

Carla moved another step forward and the cat turned and fled, scuttling off into the dim gray light. Carla ran after him. Ten strides and she stopped. Tully saw her clearly against the wan light from outside, saw her stop, wait, saw her press her hands to her mouth, then he ran to her.

They were standing in the mouth of a cave—grotto, tunnel, an opening of some kind—whether in a hill or simply a mound of debris it was impossible to tell in the gloom. All Tully could make out was a jumble of irregular hillocks, more like a gigantic rubbish tip than a site of natural beauty. More than the gloom, it was the sense of hostility that made him want to back out of sight, his eyes sliding furtively after half-seen movements. Carla pointed, her eyes wide with horror. He followed the direction of her pointing finger and what he saw made him glad there was so little light.

Tattoo was creeping, backing up to a shifting heap, away from the rippling movement that surrounded him. The ripples leapt and squirmed, squealed and chattered. Tully saw naked scaly tails and colorless fur among the ripples. Carla formed Tattoo’s name silently, helplessly, as the cat, his fur bushed up, one paw raised in hopeless defense, was submerged beneath the wave of rats. Carla sobbed and Tully hid her face on his shoulder. It was over in seconds, but the single scream of terror and despair rang in his ears long after Tattoo’s body had been ripped to shreds and carried away to the vermin’s nest.


If the story grabs you, you can get it here:





New book release: Revelation

It is with great embarrassment that I reveal that on checking on the Finch Books website for the release date of Revelation, the third volume of The Pathfinders I discover that it’s today. Unnoticed by all, including me, which is a shame, because it’s a bloody good story though I say so myself.

Authors are supposed to be gung ho about promoting their work, praising it to the skies and shoving excerpts and banners in the faces of the general publick until they provoke rioting and lynch mobs. I’m going to kick against tradition and just say that I wrote it, I enjoyed writing it tremendously, and I think it’s pretty good. But nobody in their right mind would take the author’s word for the quality of a novel. You have to read it for yourself. There’s always the ‘look inside’ feature before you commit your pennies. It costs nothing.

The Pathfinders is a trilogy to be read in order, so if you haven’t started it yet, there’s not much point in banging on about number three. If you have read Abomination and Devastation, you can find Revelation here.




A pretty fine review of Abomination

Endorsements don’t come much better than this.
A very entertaining read, 27 Aug. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Abomination (The Pathfinders Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is intelligent and sophisticated YA fiction that adults can also enjoy. Beautifully written with heaps of tension and dramatic conflict, there is also plenty of genuine horror and a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek humour. The dialogue is natural and realistic, the atmosphere edgy and sinister, and this post-apocalyptic future is a bleak and brutal setting for the two likeable protagonists, who must use all their wits to survive. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to book two.

Author’s note
If you haven’t got your copy yet, there’s still time. I can hold up the apocalypse long enough for you to finish it.

Spam, spam, spam, spam…

On August 16, Devastation, the second volume of The Pathfinders, goes on general release. To celebrate, there are going to be special offers. First is a new low price for Abomination.


If you feel like splashing out you can get it here

Amazon UK

Amazon US.

You know what it’s about, you know it’s full of nasty plot twists and unbearable psychological suspense, so why not treat yourself?

Alternatively, you could wait for the 16th and the FB party to see if the offer gets any better.

Microfiction: Augurs

This is a photo I used the other day and the more I look at it the creepier it gets. I’m using it to illustrate a 99 word self-indulgence—my treat for finishing the first round of edits for the last volume of The Pathfinders.


Nobody believed the augurs. The ravens flocked and wheeled but eventually flew with their steady, powerful wing beats to a place of safety. Every bird in the city followed in their wake. Every stray cat and every fox slunk into the green refuge beyond the city borders.

Not even when the crimson mouths smiled across the night sky did the people look up from their partying or their solid sleep. No one noticed the blackness that was not cloud boiling up from horizon to horizon. Only when the lips parted and spewed white fiery death did the laughter stop.

For more horrors,  click on the links.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Snippets of The Pathfinders

I’m over at Adventures in YA publishing today, talking about writing for young adults, if you’d like to take a look. And if you can bear any more, I’m also answering Sacha Black’s open call for self-publicity with a short excerpt from my current WIP which is the third volume of The Pathfinders series, winding up the adventures of Carla and Tully in wonderland.

So, this is a bit from Revelation.  Sacha asked for 150 words. This is an excerpt approaching 150 words, but I’m not saying from which direction.


Tully stopped humming and held his head on one side, listening. His eyes glittered with amazement.

“Can you hear?” he whispered.

Carla stood quite still and held her breath. The silence of the night sky was broken. Like ripples on a stream, faint music made by unearthly voices came to her over the waves of darkness. She looked at Tully, her eyes wide.

“It’s the stars,” he breathed, “the planets. They’re singing.”

“What does it mean?”

Tully beamed at her. “It means we’re in heaven.”

Carla grinned. “Seriously.”

“The possibilities here are endless. Nothing is beyond us if we try hard enough. You can see why Nisroc wants to protect his world.”

Carla frowned slightly as if a cloud had passed over the moon, and the music faded. “Yeah. I s’ppose.”

Tully took her hand and led her into a fiery nest of stardust. “You worry too much,” he said gently and pulled her down beside him. “Time for dreaming.”

Carla snuggled into his arms, loosening his shirt from his trousers, nuzzling into his neck, her senses filling with his unmistakeable Tully smell.

“I wonder if the Grigori dream too,” she murmured.

“Erelah said they all do.”

“Erelah?” Carla sat up sharply. “You mean we might bump into her up here?”

Tully pulled her back down to him. “What have you got against Erelah, anyway? She’s a good laugh, when you get to know her.”

“And you have?”

“Yeah, a bit.”

Carla fought to keep her ground in what felt like shifting sands. She held Tully tighter, finding the buckle on his belt. She bit his ear and whispered, “Like this?”

Tully kissed her hard on the mouth. “You ask the silliest questions.”

“Indulge me.”

Tully kissed her again. And again. “Of course not.”

His hands were on her skin beneath her shirt. His mouth was on hers. The stars were singing. Carla let the unpleasant thoughts slip into the gentle darkness between the planets and returned Tully’s kiss with the same passion as in the old days.


If you haven’t read the first part, Abomination, you can get it here.

Amazon US

Amazon UK



Apart from having a nasty flu bug, and mail still not connected which is a right royal pain, I have two reasons to celebrate. First, today I was offered a contract for the sequel to Abomination. I’ve been writing blurbs and tag lines, a real chore. Does anybody actually enjoy writing blurbs? It means there won’t be an unreasonable hiatus between volumes one and two, nor with volume three if I send the manuscript in soon.


I’m also pressing ahead with the follow on series to The Green Woman. 60k words on the clock of volume two so far. I’m hoping to give the whole thing a makeover. That might take us into 2017 though.

As if that isn’t enough to celebrate, our house-buying plans are going smoothly. The obligatory once-over has revealed nothing more terrifying than dodgy electricity (we knew that from the porcelain plugs and switches), and a bit of lead piping that ‘needs watching’. There are no drains worthy of the name, and heating seemed to come mainly from the adjoining cowshed. But it’s the south, the winters are mild, we’ll dig a drain and change some of the porcelain light switches. Our youngest is trying to convince us to get a herd of llamas for the grass/meadow since the stabling won’t be a problem, and I don’t think you have to milk llamas. Not like goats that don’t eat the right kind of grass either.


As an aside, I have been asked why I don’t write about my ‘experiences’ living in France, and I suppose the answer has to be, would you write about your experiences living in a semi in Stoke? If that’s what you know, there’s nothing extraordinary in it. I’ve never bought a house anywhere but France, never dealt with workmen anywhere but France, never had children or sent them to school, anywhere but France. There’s a lucrative market in writing ‘humorous’ books about life with the baguette and beret brigade, which generally involves poking fun at the ‘French way’. Sod that. I live here—if they do it, chances are I do it too. Seems to me, the people who write these slapstick comedies don’t really live here. They’re voyeurs, ex-pats, people who feel their real lives are somewhere else.

So, I won’t be writing posts about how hilarious French plumbers can be, but I hope I’ll be writing pieces based on our new found country peace and quiet. I hope. Just so long as the neighbour doesn’t decide to swap his sheep for quad bikes…