• Category Archives release
  • The Epiphany Club Out Now

    The Epiphany Club is out today! Collecting all five novellas in my steampunk series, it’s the biggest book I’ve put out so far, and the first one that’s available in print as well as e-book.

    So what’s it all about? Well…

    Dirk Dynamo is used to adventure. He’s chased villainous masterminds across the mountains of Europe, stalked gangsters through the streets of Chicago, and faced the terrible battlefields of the Civil War. But now he’s on a mission that will really shake his world.

    For centuries, the Great Library of Alexandria was thought lost. Now a set of clues has been discovered that could lead to its hiding place. With the learned adventurers of the Epiphany Club, Dirk sets out to gather the clues, track down the Library, and reveal its secrets to the world.

    But Dirk and his colleagues aren’t the only ones following the trail. Faced with strange machines, deadly assassins, and shocking betrayal, can they survive the perils confronting them? And what will they find when they finally reach their destination?

    Roaming from the jungles of West Africa to the sewers beneath London, The Epiphany Club is a modern pulp adventure, a story of action, adventure, and romance set against the dark underbelly of the Victorian age.

    The Epiphany Club is available now from all sorts of online outlets. Go get yourself a copy now, and if you enjoy it, please leave a review where you bought it or on Goodreads.


  • Out Today – Harriet’s War

    I have a new comic out today!

    Harriet’s War is part of Commando‘s Armistice celebration, marking 100 years since the end of the First World War. The story of an ambulance driver on the Western Front, it’s a story I was really excited to write, not least because it covers the under-represented role of women in the war.

    You can get Harriet’s War from newsagents in the UK and in digital form around the world via Comixology. If you want to read more about it, check out my post from Monday. And if you enjoy it, please let me know – it’s always nice to hear when people like your work.

     

    Cover image © DC Thomson and Co. Ltd  2018


  • Coming Soon – The Epiphany Club

    If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all, you’re probably familiar with the Epiphany Club. They’re a band of Victorian steampunk adventurers I invented for a short story, reflecting my interest in Victorian history, strange machines, and old-fashioned adventure stories. In the decade since, I’ve written five novellas exploring their adventures. And now, at last, those novellas are collected in one place.

    The Epiphany Club isn’t just my biggest self-publishing project yet – it’s also the first time that I’ve dared go into print. Previously, my books have been purely digital, but now, for the first time, you can also get a physical version. A preview is currently sitting on my desk and I have to say that it looks pretty awesome. I’m very proud of this project.

    So what’s it all about? Well…

    Dirk Dynamo is used to adventure. He’s chased villainous masterminds across the mountains of Europe, stalked gangsters through the streets of Chicago, and faced the terrible battlefields of the Civil War. But now he’s on a mission that will really shake his world.

    For centuries, the Great Library of Alexandria was thought lost. Now a set of clues has been discovered that could lead to its hiding place. With the learned adventurers of the Epiphany Club, Dirk sets out to gather the clues, track down the Library, and reveal its secrets to the world.

    But Dirk and his colleagues aren’t the only ones following the trail. Faced with strange machines, deadly assassins, and shocking betrayal, can they survive the perils confronting them? And what will they find when they finally reach their destination?

    Roaming from the jungles of West Africa to the sewers beneath London, The Epiphany Club is a modern pulp adventure, a story of action, adventure, and romance set against the dark underbelly of the Victorian age.

    You can pre-order the e-book now, and if this is a story that appeals to you then please do pre-order. If you want to read a sample before you buy, the first novella is free from all good e-book retailers. Sadly Amazon won’t do pre-orders for the paperback, but I’ll provide details when it’s available.

    Welcome to a world of curiosity and adventure. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed the writing.


  • Out Now: The Forlorn Hope

    I have a new comic out now, courtesy of the fine people at Commando.

    The Forlorn Hope is the story of Tom, a young ne’er-do-well who drunkenly signs up to fight in the Napoleonic wars. Sent to Spain, he struggles to escape his new life of hard work and danger. But as the redcoats are thrown into a series of bloody sieges, Tom has to decide what sort of person he really wants to be.

    Like my previous Commando story, The Forlorn Hope‘s characters are fictional, but the events they’re caught up in are entirely real.

    During the Napoleonic Wars, the British army expanded hugely to face the might of the French Empire. To get enough men, recruiting parties scoured the country, often relying on drink to make men susceptible to exaggerated promises of pay and adventure.

    The unit I put Tom into for this story is a real one – the 45th Nottinghamshire Regiment. The events of the comic cover actions they took part in, including the bloody storming of Badajoz. The details of the fighting are as close to the truth as I could make them, down to the moment when a grenadier named MacPherson turned his red jacket into a flag. I’ve skimmed over the uglier details of the aftermath, as they seemed out of place in Commando, but the moment when the victorious British immediately start drinking reflects the real behaviour of Wellington’s army.

    As for calling assault parties “Forlorn Hope”, that’s also real, though its original meaning isn’t what you might expect. The phrase arose during fighting in the Netherlands. It’s a corruption of the Dutch phrase “verloren hoop”, literally meaning “lost heap”. So a similar sentiment but with a different meaning. It’s a fitting description. Many men were lost in the assault parties sent to storm besieged towns and forts. It was a difficult, dangerous business, and it was with good reason that the survivors were held in high regard.

     

    You can find Commando #5139: The Forlorn Hope in British newsagents now and in digital form via Comixology.


  • New Version of Guns and Guano

    A new, revised version of my novella Guns and Guano is now available for free at a multitude of e-book stores. This rewrite doesn’t substantially change the story, but is still something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve tidied up some of the prose and tried to subtly improve the way the character of Isabelle is presented. The place of women in Victorian society is an important issue in this series, and this story in isolation wasn’t dealing with that the way I wanted it too. The result of the changes is far from perfect, but it sets the tone better than I could a few years ago.

    Guns and Guano is a tale of action, adventure, and strange events on an Atlantic island. It’s about dealing with the past and looking to the future. There are gangsters, conspirators, and a chisel-jawed hero punching a shark. Honestly, what more could you want? Go get a copy, you know you want to.


  • To Win Just Once – story notes

    German 77mm gun emplacement destroyed by New Zealand troops during the Battle of Messines, Belgium. Photograph taken by Henry Armytage Sanders in June, 1917.

    This Thursday, my first story for Commando Comics hits the newsstands and the Comixology app. I’m very proud of this story, titled “To Win Just Once”. I thought I’d put some notes here to give readers more information about the story.

    The Struggle

    The battle portrayed in this story is a real one. The assault on Messines Ridge was one of a series of battles fought around the town of Ypres. This was some of the most heavily contested territory of the war and the whole area was left devastated. You can read more about the battle in this article I wrote for War History Online.

    The British Army in the First World War wasn’t just made up of people from Britain. Soldiers from across the empire and former imperial territories fought for the British. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand sent thousands of men to Europe. The Canadians were so feared by the Germans that the British created bluffs about where they were being fielded. Men from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) fought in some of Britain’s most difficult campaigns, including the disaster at Gallipoli.

    One of the most dramatic details in this story is the explosion that destroys the German defences. This was also real. Engineers from the British Army dug twenty-one tunnels across no-man’s-land and filled the ends with a vast quantity of explosives. It’s the largest non-nuclear man-made explosion in history. Two of the mines didn’t go off, and those bombs remained buried to this day.

    The Soldiers

    While the battle was real, the characters are not. I made up every single one, from frustrated infantryman Jimmy Wilson to Captain Chandler, the disdainful English officer. That said, they are meant as realistic portrayals of the soldiers present and their experiences. ANZACs really did suffer through the Gallipoli fiasco only to end up on the front lines. British officers were mostly from privileged backgrounds, and the respect they showed for their men, especially from the colonies, varied hugely.

    I’ve based the general picture of the war on research I’ve done to write books and articles. Because of the bombardments, the area around Ypres was a hellish mess by 1917. The fighting was tough and brutal, bombardments heavy but ineffective. As a result, assaults were usually awful and futile for the attacking troops. Messines Ridge was one of the exceptions, as it was a success and the Germans suffered most of the awfulness.

    I was inspired to write this story by reading about Messines Ridge for War History Online, and by Commando’s call for pitches about the ANZACs. I’ve written more scripts for Commando since, and am about to start writing for WHO again, so watch out for more announcements here. You can also get notice about upcoming comics, along with free fiction, but signing up to my mailing list.

    The Song

    And to end on an upbeat note, the title for this story is taken from a Saw Doctors song. I saw the Saw Doctors play live when I was seventeen, and it was one of the liveliest, most entertaining gigs I’ve ever seen. This song, with its positive message about enduring and finding your win, will be in my head forever. That’s no bad thing.


  • Out Now – Old Odd Ends

    A magic-wielding card shark living by her wits. A diplomat frustrated by criminal aliens. A private investigator in a city built on rusting machines. Meet these characters and more in fifty short stories set in worlds beyond our own.

    My new e-book, Old Odd Ends, is out now. It’s a collection of over fifty flash stories I wrote last year. At $2.99, that’s less than 6 cents per story to travel from ancient Rome to the far future via worlds full of magic and strange machines. Go on, treat yourself.

     


  • Coming Soon: Old Odd Ends

    A magic-wielding card shark living by her wits. A diplomat frustrated by criminal aliens. A private investigator in a city built on rusting machines. Meet these characters and more in fifty short stories set in worlds beyond our own.

    My latest collection of short stories, Old Odd Ends, is coming out on the 16th of March. Collecting all the flash fiction published on this blog in 2017, it features 50 stories, including my experiments with episodic serials. It’s available to pre-order now as an Amazon e-book. So if you’re looking for something new to read, or you’ve enjoyed these stories and would like to support my writing, you can go order a copy now.


  • Coming Soon – Dead Men and Dynamite

    Adventurer Dirk Dynamo finally has all the clues he needs and is heading into Egypt to find the lost Great Library of Alexandria. But as he sets out on the final leg of his trail, others are there ahead of him, people who would use the knowledge of the Great Library to nefarious ends. As he races spies and criminals through the land of the Pharaohs, Dirk must decide how far he will go for knowledge, and what he really values most in the world – life, love or learning.

    Find out the final fate of Dirk Dynamo and the Great Library in Dead Men and Dynamite, the fifth and final book in the Epiphany Club series, published in February 2017 and available to pre-order now.


  • Out Now – Words of Wisdom

    Rahiq wove her way through the crowd, squeezing between bellowing camels and city walls that trembled in their brass tracks, vast blocks of stone rotating around Baghdad’s perimeter. Today was the day. Today she would change her life…

    My story “Words of Wisdom” is out now in issue #105 of On Spec magazine. Set in a clockwork version of medieval Baghdad, it’s the story of a young engineer trying to find her place in the world and an aging master trying to preserve what he has built.