Life and death and things

Following on from my last post, where I talked about losing internet friend Nathalie, I have no lost my baby boy, Mr Kitty. A cat, but not to me. To me he was my best friend, my comfort, my everything. Always with me, in my bed, on my sofa, grabbing me for snuggles, greeting me with a hello squeak, he was the best friend I’ve ever had. I miss him. More than I thought it was possible to miss anything. When I’m not crying, I’m trying to move on, to keep it together, but the tears come again and again and it’s hard, because death is hard. Because suddenly something you love and cherished is gone, there’s a huge hole but everyone else carries on as though nothing had changed at all. It’s surreal.

So, sod book three. The Forest of Ghosts was the book that was going to feature mr kitty and his two friends, my other cats, Claudia and Meg, and also my friend Nathalie, who died last year. So that is what I am working on. I always went back and forth from that book to book 3, but right now, that’s the book i need to work on, to bring my kitty back, in some form.

mr kit modelling my promotion pens

mr kit modelling my promotion pens


Along with that, I am working on a series of nonfiction mythology horror articles. I have a regular spot, which is nice, in Sanitarium magazine. You can read my first article, the Ancient Walking Dead, here: I enjoy writing nonfiction. I did a masters at university, over a decade ago, and this brings me back to that, to the love of research and taking characters apart. I hope you enjoy reading it.

I’ve also signed up for two conventions, one in Bristol in October, and one in Carmathen in March. Hoping they will be fun.

Nano and death and things

Well it’s november so that means National Novel Writing Month. And I am taking part, but the universe wants to make it hard for me! I have my mother visiting in a week, which will make it hard to write, and then just as I start my new project I learn that a friend has died.

I’d known Nathalie for more than a decade. We met on and friended each other on live journal and then facebook. We would chat, on and off, leave comments for each other, mostly about cats. Her cat, Hades, had a brain tumour and his personality changed. He died a few months back and she got a new kitten. When my meg was sick I remember her telling me that I should be there if the vets had to put her down,, that meg would need me. I disagreed, saying Meg wouldn’t notice and it would be too hard for me. But when I picked up meg after she had stayed at the vets for a few days, and she was so happy to see me and purring I realised Nathalie was right. meg would want me there at the end. But I never got to tell her that. And now she’s gone. Died in her sleep suddenly. It happens and it’s scarey and weird when you hear of it, of someone going to bed full of hopes and plans for the next day, for halloween, for xmas for watching their cat and daughter grow, and having it all taken from her in one moment.

So now I’m crying as I write this, as i try to write the Forest of Ghosts. I have a craft fair this weekend, a thing the weekend after. Real life getting in the way, as it will because it goes on, even without Nathalie.

And I just wish I had realised earlier how much a part of my life she was. Even if it was just the internet life.

I’m going to miss her.

But somehow I have to try and write. And try and put her into my book, because a book about cats and ghosts should have one more of each in it. If i can.

National Novel Writing Month

For those who don’t know, this bit of madness takes place in November and the idea is to write 50k within the month. I entered last year with my short story collection, the Child-Eaters’ Society, but didn’t finish. This year I’m doing the Forest of Ghosts, the other novel I’ve been toying with for the last couple of years. You can add me as a friend if you wish, here or just follow my sporadic posts on this blog about the whole melarky.

I designed a rough cover for it all. A simple silly thing but somehow it’s more inspiring to have something to show, to have something to sum up the whole project. Whether I make it to the end or not, we shall see, but I am looking forward to starting.zombies

Children of the Shadow and shiny things

A friend suggested I make pendants of my book covers as a way to promote them. So I did, and they’ve done fairly well at craft fairs and things (you can find them on the drop down bit of the buy section) There is a pendant of three of the book covers, and one of the demon, and a charm bracelet of the Shadow Seer books, and I’ll be making one for the whole series. Uk shipping only at the moment though. I’ll be selling them, and my books, and various other things at Scardiff in October (horror convention in Cardiff) and craft fairs here in Swansea.

And, I’ve been working on the Children of the Shadow. I had a lot of trouble getting the start right. Going back and forth between whether Candale should be rescued, or a prisoner, for about two years, and I finally decided to merge the two! So simple, and so far, seems to be working. And so here it is, as a taster!:



They put me in a cell while I was unconscious and then they locked me in.

I woke with a pounding headache and a mouth as dry as the desert, my limbs heavy and leaden and my thoughts sluggish. For a long time I could only lie beneath the thin covering, shivering, barely aware of anything beyond the pain in my skull and the trembling of my limbs, always on the edge of sinking back into the darkness.

But, slowly the sludge began to ease and I began to become aware of what was around me and to realise, I didn’t know where I was.

I was lying on a straw pallet on the ground, I could feel the icy cold stone of the floor through it, covered in a thin blanket. Beyond the bed there was a covered chamberpot and nothing else, just bare stone walls of black and grey. The only light was patchy and grey, seeping in through the bars on the windows. A heavy looking wooden door was the only way out.

A cell. I was in a cell. But I had no idea how I’d gotten here.

Think. Think.

Think . . .

And it hit me like a lightening bolt and my stomach twisted, bile burning in my throat. I scrambled from the bed, but my knees buckled beneath me, before I could take one step, plunging me down onto the icy cold floor. And there I emptied the contents of my belly, trembling, as tears burned in my eyes.

One night, in a tavern room in Isarn, a group of men had burst in and they had killed Arnin, the Tracker who had become my friend, and taken me prisoner. If I closed my eyes, for just a moment, then I was back in that room, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, the wet, ripping sound of sword meeting flesh filling the silence while somewhere, in the dark, Arnin was screaming . . .

I spat, to clear my mouth of the last of the watery vomit, wiped my grubby sleeve across my lips and struggled to my feet. The dark grey walls swung around me dizzyingly for a moment and then they settled back into place and I stumbled across the bitterly cold floor to the door. Of course it was locked, but I raised my hands in clenched fists and pounded on it as hard as I could.

Hello?” I cried, in a voice that croaked. “Is anyone out there? Hello! I . . . I don’t know where I am . . . Please . . . ?” Silence swallowed my words and the pounding of my fist and the world was starting to spin again. I turned away and went back to the pallet, curling up beneath the thin blanket.

I was a prisoner. Locked away in a cell, just like the prophecies had told me I would be. Just like I’d feared since Talira, a seer I’d met on the way to White Oaks, had told me that she’d had a vision of me locked away. Teveriel, my best friend, had tried to convince me that just because it had been seen it didn’t mean it was going to happen, and that I shouldn’t let it shadow my life and my decisions. But, here I was. Just as Talira had said.

I sank deeper beneath the thin blanket, blinking back tears. Could I have done anything differently? Could I have avoided this? Could Arnin . . .?

I’d runaway from home to visit the Seer’s Tower in Idryan, but I’d not really had a choice about that. Ellenessia, the shadowy demon who visited me, the one who had cursed my family line and was responsible for what I was, had insisted on it. All so that I would learn that she was responsible for the death of Mayrila, my birth-mother, and not myself as I’d feared. On leaving the Tower my friends and I had been taken prisoner and I’d been separated from them by Arnin the Tracker, on the order of Nyvin, my doctor who had been sent to bring me back. We had gone to Isarn to wait for a ship to take us back to Carnia, and now I was here.

If Arnin had been allowed to use his magic to shield the room we were staying in, things would be different, wouldn’t they?

Or if King Ryckst had allowed us to stay in the Palace, even though Arnin was a mage which was illegal in Idryan, then I would still be there, and Arnin would still be alive.

Or . . .

Or would this have happened anyway?

Did it even matter? I was here now, the question was why.

I had enemies, I’d always known that. And in the Spring I’d learned that I, as the Shadow Seer, had specific enemies, the Order of Culdenth Hyun who wanted to kill me before I could speak too many of my visions. And they had certainly tried, poisoning me, using magic against me, but I wasn’t dead, I was very much alive, the icy chill burning into my bones, was certainly proof of that. So, it couldn’t have been them so who? Did I have other enemies that I didn’t know about? Or could it just have been a simple kidnapping for ransom? We had been so careful to keep who I really was a secret, but that didn’t mean that someone hadn’t guessed the truth. But, if they did know who I was then they had to know that to take me would be to bring my grandfather, a king, and his all might after them to find me again. Even if he paid the ransom, he would stop at nothing to find them and see them punished. King Ryckst would too. He would have to. He couldn’t let it be known that he couldn’t keep a foreign prince safe in his own city.

So, perhaps they hadn’t known who I was and just thought that I must be important, because I’d been hiding in my tavern room, not mingling with anyone else.

Oh, gods, what would they do when they found out? What if they decided that the best thing to do would be to kill me? I would just disappear and my family and friends would never know what had happened to me.

Or they could just leave me here to slowly starve to death . . .

The grey walls of the cell started to swing around me suddenly, blurring together. I couldn’t breathe. A cold iron vice had closed around my chest and was slowly squeezing all the air from my body. I tried to breathe, to force air into my lungs, but the vice just tightened.

And then darkness swallowed everything.

Heroes and Legends Convention

Well my first proper convention with like famous people from TV and film is all over and it was SO GREAT. Okay, I didn’t sell as much as I would have liked, but I did sell some books and jewelry and mugs, and people thought my jewelry was pretty, which is always nice. And dragging the suitcase about was a nightmare as Port Talbort train station has no sodding lift and the case was crammed with books, but it was worth it I think, as I had a fun, wacky time indeed.

We were in a room with Darth Vader himself, and a man selling tonnes of toys, including a Trapdoor Burke, which I wish I had purchased. Next door were some people I didn’t know, signing pictures, and in the room behind was Rimmer and Holly from Redwarf! Also in attendance on the first day was a darlec, K9 and some aliens.

On the second day we had Iron Man, a party cat robot, and my mum went on a ghost tour with Holly and Rimmer, and the former poked her and tried to scare her! I saw him at the train station and he waved from the train :) Mostly because he heard us giggling across the platform as I tried to get mum to wave at him.

Mum took a lot of photos, which I will add to the gallery in due time. At the moment you can find mine on facebook and I will be updating as soon as I can :)


I’ve been having luck selling at craft fairs, meeting new people and getting my books out and about into the world, but this weekend is the Heroes and Legends convention in Margam Park. I’m pretty excited. This is the biggest convention I’ve done, with famous actor type people that I’ve actually heard of going to be there, I’ve got lots of copies of my books, as well as the jewellery I’ve been working on based on them, and some other bits and pieces, so hopefully it will all go well! Review of it to follow!

Been a bit stressed recently. As I’m a writer full time, I get benefits to help support, but they have decided in their ‘wisdom’ that as I cannot guarantee an income (what creative, self employed person can ever guarantee an income?) they have cut me off. So I doubly hope to do well this weekend so I can show them how stupid and *insert swear* they are.

But I did get a really nice review of my short story horror collection on Amazon. It made me feel better to know that a, people like my writing, b, I can write creepy, and c, my editing worked because the characters were all clearly identified and in the original version of the Hecuba story, that wasn’t really true!

So, on I go. :) Writing and hoping and waiting for my mum to turn up.

Craft fairs and things!

Doing my first craft fair this sat. I’ve done Whitby, in the past, a market in Nottingham, (back in my goth shop days) and a Pagan Market here in Swansea and Bristol Con, in Bristol, but this is my first craft fair! I’m taking my books (that’s a craft) including the new one, and the pendants i’ve made with the cover images, as well as other bits left over from the goth shop days. It’s the first time I’ve taken the new book or the pendants out, so I’m curious to see what people think and I am looking forward to it, though I know it’s only a small room, so may not get many shoppers in. The week after I’m doing another one, in a bigger venue, so I may do better . . . But I have to try, right? And in 7 weeks is the Margam Park convention, which I’m looking forward to a lot, because it’s new, it’s in a castle and Sylvester Mccoy is going to be there! After that it’s quiet until October and Scardiff, and then a few more markets in November/Dec and then the year is over! It’s gone really fast!

Hoping to have book 3 finished by the end of the year. Of course, I’ve said that before, and in the summer sun, it’s hard to sit here and write stuff when I just want to be lazing around somewhere, drinking something frosty and blue and eating icecream. But I gotta get it done, or the thing will be around forever!

So yeah, busy time starts this weekend and hopefully it will all go well :)


I’m doing a giveaway. I’ve done one before, on goodreads. It did OK, so now I want to see how it compares doing it via facebook, with the aid of Rafflecoptor. So far, not so good! I need more shares, more entries!

So, to win a copy of my short story Greek myth horror collection, a pendant, postcard and keyring, just enter below! Free and worldwide!

DO IT! :)




Today, for a change, I’m posting an interview that I held with Joanna Hall, to celebrate the release of her new book, Art of Forgetting: Nomad, the sequel to the Art of Forgetting: Rider, (currently free on amazon kindle!!!)

1. Okay,well, tell us a little about yourself.


I’m thirtysomething and I live in Bristol with my boyfriend and our lazy-crazy greyhound. I like movies, music, reading, writing and CAKE. I’ve written a bunch of novels and a collection of short stories and, with my friend Roz Clarke, I’ve co-edited two Fantasy and SF anthologies, Colinthology, and Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. In my spare time I’m the chair of BristolCon, and in my spare-spare time I like to sleep, occasionally…



2. Now tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, The Art of Forgetting: Nomad is the second volume in a duology published by Kristell Ink (The first part, Rider, was released in June 2013). It follows the story of Rhodri, a foundling boy with a unique, perfect memory who joins a cavalry unit to look for his missing father, only to discover his father isn’t the man he always believed he was. By the time the second book starts, Rhodri has betrayed his comrades to protect a stranger, and is on the run across the vast steppes of Atrath. He’s just beginning to build a new life for himself when he’s forced into a war against his friends and his country, all to protect his new family.









3. You’ve set all of your novels in the same world. What are the good and bad points about using the same universe for your writing? Do you think you will create somewhere else, eventually?

One of the good things is that you can get really into the world building – you spend a lot of time in that world and you get to know it really well, so going back to it and writing another novel is like slipping on a comfy pair of slippers. Alongside the stories of the characters is the ongoing history of the world, and that has an impact on books further down the line. It means I can play as well, bring back old characters and places for cameo appearances or cross-reference little things from other books. It’s fun!

The other thing is, it’s a big world, and as I’ve gone on I’ve been able to explore more of it. Nomad is the first book set almost entirely in Atrath, which is very different both geographically and culturally to the lands of the west. Spark and Carousel is city-based, and I could get right into the nitty-gritty of writing a story set in a medieval city. In the book I’ve just finished, “The Summer Goddess”, I got to explore the islands around the eastern sea.

I don’t think I’ve run out of stories in this world yet, but I would like to do something fresh, and I’ve got a couple of ideas for books set in entirely different worlds, and even on other planets. So yes, I’m definitely going to create somewhere else. I’d like to do what Anne McCaffrey did, and have a main series set in one world that I can keep coming back to, and other stories set in other worlds.

4. You’re rather mean to your characters, what is the appeal? Why do you think writers are often so cruel to their characters, sometimes needlessly? Do you ever feel bad about it? :P

I’m not George RR Martin ;) I feel bad for the people who ring me up and say “I can’t believe you did THAT to THEM!” But at the same time a) devising horrible inventive torture for characters is fun, and b) if nothing horrible happened to anyone it would be a pretty boring book. I have sometimes been told by my beta readers to rein it in a bit when I’ve done something particularly nasty…


5. What is your favourite part of writing, and your least favourite? What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?

My favourite part of writing is just sitting there making stuff up and writing it down, and turning my blobby mass of thoughts into a proper story. First and second drafts, especially, when the book really starts to take shape. I really enjoy that. By the fifth / sixth / seventeenth edit, when all I’m doing is taking commas out and putting them back in and I’m sick to death of reading the same book, that’s when it’s not so enjoyable…

I have lots of favourite things about being a writer – the moment when you get to hold the finished book for the first time, meeting people who have read it and enjoyed it, signing books, chatting to readers, it’s all good…

6. There’s been a lot of articles recently about the position of women as writers and readers of spec fic. You’re a female writer, with a female publisher, do you feel like women are unfairly treated in the fantasy and sci-fi genre, as writers, and as readers? Why do you think this is? Do you think it will ever change? Do you think it’s connected with the abuse that you’ve received for writing gay characters and for the general lack of racial and disabled characters in fantasy and sci fi?


That’s a lot of questions, and it’s a complicated thing to unravel without writing an essay… I think the lack or representation of women in SF and F is really deep-rooted – it goes right back to the way we bring up girls (and boys). I can only talk about SF and F publishers, and my figures are so-so, but in general women are less inclined to put themselves forward, so they submit less stuff to publishers, so less stuff by women gets published and even less breaks through to the mainstream, which re-enforces the perception that SFF is a “boys club”.

Then it comes down to marketing, where women are more likely to be marketed as Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance and tucked away in the black cover-bare chest section of the bookstore. Or YA – I’m a big fan of YA but I have found in chatting to people that they assume because I’m a woman under forty what I write is either Paranormal Romance or YA, because girls don’t write that icky fighting bloody stuff… So there’s a problem of perception there, which is reinforced by skewed marketing, and what you end up with is under-representation by book sellers and female authors being ghettoised on the shelves, which leads to lower sales because people can’t find the books they want to read by women in, for example, Waterstones, which then leads to Waterstones not ordering books by women because “books by women don’t sell.” It’s a vicious circle. And I know Amazon is a Multinational Conglomerate of Pure Evil, but at least on Amazon the playing field is slightly more level. You don’t have to fight to get women on the promotional tables at Amazon, because all their tables are virtual and as big as the sky…

I think everyone – publishers and marketing depts, and bricks-and-mortar booksellers, as well as authors and fans, needs to do more to raise awareness of women writers. By buying and reading and reviewing their books and making a big fuss to both the booksellers and the publishers, we can change this for the better, a little. But it’s a big fight and it needs to start in the classroom, by encouraging girls to be proud of their abilities and to put themselves forward fearlessly. By the time we get to the book stores it’s too late.

I don’t think it’s necessarily connected with the abuse I got for writing gay characters (I wouldn’t call it “abuse”, it was more like monkeys throwing poo from the peanut gallery. I certainly didn’t feel abused by it) – I think they’re two slightly different issues. There is an under-representation of ethnic minority, disabled characters, and characters of alternate sexuality in SFF. Again, some of that may come down to marketing – the whitewashing of book covers and film adaptations, for example, is very frustrating, especially if you’re the author and your protests against it are unheard. But I think we’re all so much more aware of it now – organisations like the Bi Writers Association, Lambda and Disability in Kidlit are all working to raise awareness. So things are getting better on that score. But as I said to someone in an interview when I’d been asked about my “bravery” in writing bisexual characters for the fourteenth time – It’s 2014 – why is it even still an issue that people are getting steamed up over, that some characters are gay / disabled / non-white? If we’re writing about other worlds, or other planets, the idea that everyone in the world is white and heterosexual with two arms and two legs is just nonsense…


7. What would you say was your biggest influence in your writing life? Who do you most admire?

I would say my mum and my uncle were the biggest influences in my writing fantasy and SF, because they were both big SFF fans and they let me raid their bookshelves from an impressionable age, and it was there I discovered Asimov and Clarke and Eddings and Julian May and all kinds of other fun things to read. We would go to the library every month and I read my way through the SFF section and discovered Terry Pratchett and David Gemmell and Anne McCaffrey. It’s hard to maintain awed admiration for authors when you’ve been to conventions and seeing them drunk ;) But I do admire my friend Stephanie Burgis, who has put up with CFS and raised two lovely boys and written a brilliant series of novels at the same time. And Emma Newman, who I hope won’t mind me saying suffers from crippling anxiety but still manages to come out and do readings and appearances looking so dazzling that you’d never know, while I would be hiding under the duvet gibbering. Both brave ladies, and wonderful writers


8. You run Bristol Con. You created it too. Tell us a little about it? And give us a little behind the stage gossip, what’s the hardest, easiest, and bestest bits about running a convention?

BristolCon is the most fun you can have in a room with 300 of your mates We started five (six?) years ago with about fifty people, and Alastair Reynolds and Paul Cornell were guests of honour, and now it’s grown to become one of the biggest non-commercial conventions in the country outside of Eastercon and FantasyCon. It’s a great day, we have dealers, a large art show, panel talks, a notoriously difficult quiz, and this year we have a room set aside for gaming in the evening. Everyone is very friendly and even though it’s hard work and quite stressful and exhausting, especially in the last few weeks, the feedback is lovely and everyone seems to have a great time. (It’s, if you want to have a look – we also run a monthly Fringe event of readings by SF and F authors in the pub, where they do a very fine Hunter’s Chicken…)


9. What’s next for you?

The Art of Forgetting: Nomad comes out on May 24th and there will be a launch at Forbidden Planet in Bristol – yay! After that I’m going to have a bit of a breather – I’ve just finished The Summer Goddess so I’m giving my brain a little bit of a recharge before I start something new. And Roz and I are already planning our next anthology, Into The West, but that’s still in the very early stages. I do have a few half-formed half-baked ideas, will have to see which one sticks!


10. Where can we find you on the internet?



TWITTER – @hierath77





Updates and things

Well, not much going on! But I’ve decided to make and sell some pendants of my book covers. Starting with the Seer’s Tower and the Child-Eaters’ Society, covers, as those seem the most adaptable and are the prettiest. I’m hoping it will work out, but printing the images is a damn pain! I will be giving one away, with the new book, and some other bits, when i get 100 likes on facebook! (and I’ve made it)

There’s also a new interview with me HERE.

And my new book is available from the buy section of my website. All signed and things :)

And this weekend my friend Joanna Hall’s new book is out. I have an interview with her going live then, so check back and see!