Meet My Character Blog Tour

Andrea Stephenson at Harvesting Hecate has kindly tagged me to take part in the Meet My Character Blog Tour.

Andrea, a pagan by inclination, blogs about nature, the coastline and the turn of the seasons, all of which she sees as a source of great inspiration to her creativity as a writer and painter. Whenever I visit her blog, I come away feeling both soothed and uplifted.

Thank you, Andrea, for thinking of me for this event.

Now it’s my turn to tell you about the main character in my completed 90,000-word speculative fiction novel.

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

His name is Anna and he’s fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?

Anna is born in AD 2166 and the story is set in what we know as the British Isles. It begins in Dorset, England, and then Glen Affric in the Highlands of Scotland, but the main block of action takes place in the independent state of Wightland (previously the Isle of Wight). There is also back story revolving around Warsaw, Poland, and its criminal underworld.

3. What should we know about him/her?

He’s a rare specimen in a world populated by women and, for the unscrupulous, a prize worth capturing and exploiting. At the start of the novel he’s a sweet, honest, nature loving boy who believes he’s a girl. As the story progresses and he learns what being male means in a world run by women, he turns into an archetypal moody and manipulative teenager who discovers music and finds some solace in this. The few people who care about him, are also partly responsible for his disillusionment and must work hard to prove they’re worthy of his trust.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

The main conflict is related to his uniqueness and his exploitation by a deluded criminal/quack geneticist. His life is messed up in the first place by his discovery that he’s a boy.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Freedom to choose his own mate, rather than have multiple mates chosen for him, and ultimately to escape back to the wilderness from whence he came, taking with him the people he’s learned to love and trust.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

This novel, which is now finished, has had many titles. In the first draft it was called Eulogy to the Last Man which, for reasons I won’t disclose, was rendered redundant. In the second draft it was Wightland, and the third Counting Magpies. In the final draft it’s His Seed, although I still quite like Counting Magpies and have called it this in one of my submissions, just to confuse issues. And no, you can’t read more about it, as I don’t want to give the whole plot away.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

As I’m going down the traditional route and throwing myself upon the mercy of agents and publishers, I can’t answer that. All I can say is that I hope it happens in my lifetime.


I’m now pleased to pass the baton on to three of my writing buddies …

Benjamin Jones otherwise known as Graphite Bunny, whose blog is full of wonderful photography and prose poetry, and who was my guest storyteller on this blog back in March.

J.S.Watts, whose website you might like to check out, and who blogs via Goodreads , approximately monthly, but sometimes less frequently and mainly about things writerly (both fiction and poetry).

Henry Gee, who blogs at about all manner of things that catch his attention: some of them quirky and some halfway normal. He’s appeared twice on my blog: first, in November for an interview about his then self-published novel “By The Sea” and then a week ago in a post about his success in finding a traditional publisher for the same novel.

Blondeusk, who calls her blog Blondewritemore and describes herself as “a novice writer starting her journey”.

Dave Farmer, who blogs at davefarmersblog about life, writing, and zombies(!), and who was my guest storyteller on this blog in June.


And here are the links so far to the posts of those I’ve tagged:

Dave Farmer

J.S. Watts


Henry Gee

Self-published Novel Picked Up By Traditional Publisher: Henry Gee’s “By The Sea”

Henry Gee mono_6156Time to offer Henry Gee my hearty congratulations. He’s just proved that a self-published novel that’s excellently written, perfectly formatted and free of typos, has a decent chance of being picked up by a traditional publisher. This is what I said about the self-published version of By The Sea back in November in my post titled Interview with Henry Gee.

Mermaids, museums and murder are just some of the ingredients in Henry Gee‘s gothic horror crime novel By The Sea — a book that has earned him a decent number of five-star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. He really knows how to paint a vivid canvas with words and, personally, I loved everything about his novel: its characters, setting, fast-paced plot, mystery, and suspense.

So here we have it, the traditionally published version of his novel unveiled: the cover and the blurb.

Horrific bereavement has forced Detective Inspector Persephone Sheepwool to leave London and make a new life on the remote North Norfolk coast. 

But horror is never far behind, as she discovers when a body is found at a museum in a decaying clifftop mansion whose shadowy staff is dedicated to discovering the secrets of the sea. Investigating the death, Sheepwool finds that some secrets are probably best left submerged. 

Trouble is, even the most deeply submerged secrets have a nasty way of oozing to the surface.

If you like a book with an atmosphere so thick that you can cut it with a knife, this is one for you – Brian Clegg, author of Extra-Sensory

Bram Stoker meets Tom Sharpe in this hugely entertaining romp. Henry Gee may just have invented a new genre –not Science Fiction but Science Gothick – John Gribbin, author of In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat

This Gothic novel is a cracking good story, with an intricate and unpredictable plot … It starts with a death – is it murder or misadventure? – and more deaths follow … a pleasing mixture of suspense, the grotesque and laugh-out-loud humour – Frank Norman in Mill Hill Essays

This novel is definitely Gothic, very Gothic, downright Gothic  – Pat Shipman, author of The Man Who Found The Missing Link and The Animal Connection

By The Sea is now available as a paperback and eBook from ReAnimus Press, from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Guest Blogger Kate Kelly Talks About Her Children’s Cli-Fi Novel & Her Route to Publication

kkarctic2Thank you, Sarah, for inviting me over to your blog to talk about how I came to write a Cli-Fi novel for kids.

Cli-Fi, which is short for Climate Fiction, is an emerging genre – not necessarily a subset of science fiction – which tackles themes of climate change, either natural or man-made. It’s a natural development. As the world becomes more aware of the impact that the discharge of greenhouses gases into our atmosphere is likely to have, both for us and for our descendants, it is only to be expected that such themes and concerns will be reflected in the fiction of our age.

But when I started writing Red Rock it wasn’t my intention to write a Cli-Fi book. In fact I only heard of the term Cli-Fi after I got my book deal.

The inspiration for Red Rock came out of my work as a Marine Scientist. Some years ago I took part in several oceanographic surveys into Arctic waters. I remember my first sight of sea ice as we approached the Marginal Ice Zone, the way it heaved and creaked in the swell. I saw puffins and polar bears, seals and whales, and watched the aurora dancing across the sky. The Arctic has a beautiful desolation about it. I remember thinking how fortunate I was to come to this place and see the ice floes, for, if current trends continue, in a hundred years or so it could all be gone.

But 110,000 years ago, during the last major interglacial period (the Eemian), the world was in fact a few degrees warmer than it is now, the Greenland ice cap all but melted and sea levels were several metres higher than they are now. I couldn’t help wondering what the world must have been like at that time, what creatures might have lived, and how little we know about what lies underneath the Greenland ice.

These elements came together to inspire Red Rock. I’m not going to say any more about how the Eemian interglacial fits in – you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

RRcoverWhen I first had the idea I pondered whether to write it as a story for adults or for children. There are always many different ways in which you can tell the same story – the trick is to find the way that works best for you, and for me it felt right that Red Rock should be a children’s book. I had rediscovered children’s literature through my own children and I knew in my gut that this was the audience I wanted to write for.

My journey to publication was relatively standard, although I am unusual in that I am one of my Agents few clients that she didn’t find through the slushpile. (Don’t fear the slushpile and don’t believe the rumours – it is how most agents find 90% of their clients). I met Julia when I booked myself into a 1-2-1 surgery at the Frome Festival. I submitted my first chapter, hoping for useful feedback, so when I ended up getting signed I kept having to pinch myself to prove that it was real. A book deal followed about a year later. (It’s a slow process) and finally, last September, I held a copy of my own book in my hands. It was a magical moment – and the culmination of an awful lot of hard work!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to find out more about me and my writing I keep a blog at:
You can also follow me on twitter, facebook and goodreads.

Red Rock is available from all good bookshops as well as in a variety of e-book formats.

I am also available for talks and visits – please see the ‘events’ page on my blog.


Sarah says: Thank you so much Kate for that fascinating post and for taking the time to tell us the background to the publication of your children’s novel. I highly recommend this book as well worth a read, whatever your age!

You may also like to read a previous guest post by Kate from back in January

Guest Blogger Neil Ansell Talks About His Book “Deer Island”

Deer-IslandI would be the first to admit that my new book, Deer Island, is a curious beast. It is short enough to be read in one sitting, and is something of a personal project, moving back and forth between tales from the streets of London, and from an almost uninhabited Scottish island.

???????????????????????????????It is a story from my past that I felt was crying out to be written; that I needed to put down on paper in order to understand it myself. I have a habit of writing whatever takes my mood, rather than thinking about the market or the possibility of publication, and indeed this was not something that I ever really expected would see the light of day. But then I was contacted directly by a small press called Little Toller Books, asking if I had anything ‘short and quirky’ that didn’t suit my main publisher. I was a great admirer of this press – they have made their name reissuing out-of-print books of nature writing, the sort of books that I grew up with, and making a beautiful job of them – and I offered them Deer Island at once. It is now their first ever book of new writing, and yet it was written in a single draft and was barely edited at all. (You can read a summary of the book on the publisher website here.)

It is an uncompromising little book, something that no-one else could ever have written, yet I like to think that because it was written for love not money it has a certain kind of integrity, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the critical reception. The Independent called it ‘short, subtle and moving,’ and highlighted how it flew in the face of convention. ‘Ansell might have thought of expanding his memoir to a full-length book, but here he has done what he wanted. He has told us one story, in its two aspects. And he has done us a favour – the book is just as long as it needs to be, and no longer. And the publisher has given it the best possible frame imaginable. Deer Island is, I’d say, of roughly novella length, and ‘nobody publishes novellas’- let alone novella-length memoirs, yet here it is.

’Whenever I am asked for any advice I can offer to new writers, I never give the kind of advice that we often hear, about researching the market or building your platform. I always just say: Write from the heart.

Neil Ansell is also the author of Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills (Penguin 2011).


You can purchase Deer Island  direct from Neil’s publishers, Little Toller Books here as well as on or 

If you’d like to watch a video of Neil being interviewed about Deer Island, click here  and to listen to him reading from his book, here


A little post script from Sarah.

Thank you so much, Neil, for guest posting on my blog about your wonderful book.

I really loved Deer Island when I read it, and awarded it five stars on Goodreads. I’ve copied the review below.

“This is a real gem of a book, which is best described as a meditation on what it means to belong. Set in the 1980s, it moves between Neil Ansell’s three years spent in a life of voluntary poverty working for the Simon Community, helping homeless people, his first trip to the remote Scottish Island of Jura, his penniless return to London living in rough squats, and a return trip to Jura. He describes each setting in vivid detail, moving with ease between the harshest orders of human urban existence, where fear and insecurity rule every day, and the wild beauty of an island with a small human population and unafraid wildlife.

Neil Ansell has a way with saying so much in so few words, in flowing and visual prose. It is a book that is an enriching experience to read, and one that I’ll return to time and time again”.

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