Special Offer in time for #Halloween and long autumn evenings

With 41 reviews (mostly 4 and 5 star with a couple of three stars) Away With The Fairies has hit the spot for a lot of readers.

In a bid to sway the waverers, it’s on special offer for the next week, first at 99p for three and a bit days, then going up to £1.99 for another three and a bit, before returning to its very reasonable original price of £2.65.

It’s the perfect book for this time of year; with Halloween coming up on Saturday, it’s the time when traditionally the veils thin between this world and the Otherworld, and we honour those who have gone before us.

If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to grab it. If you have already read it, I’d love to see the review count rise with more good reviews.




And as an added bonus, The Hedgeway (a chilling tale for Samhain) is just 99p worldwide (whatever that converts to in other currencies) until All Souls’ Day.


My Spirit Animal is a Duck-Billed Platypus

My Spirit Animal is a Duck-Billed Platypus

I’m a bit of a picker-upper of unconsidered trifles (I don’t mean the edible kind though I wouldn’t say no to a nice sherry trifle) and find myself sometimes buying odd bric-a-brac that has ended up on the shelves of charity shops, solely because it had a strange and rather special something about it. A kind of shine that might be familiar to players of computer games, where the magic potion, amulet or artefact lights up in some subtle way when you go near it.

That’s how I came to find my platypus. He was sitting amid the vases and candlesticks in a local charity shop and he was about 75p. That was a couple of years ago now and he’s sat in front of my computer monitor ever since. He’s a tiny china ornament about two or three inches long. I’ve never seen one like that before though I do own a platypus finger puppet my brother brought me back from Australia.

When specimens of duck-billed platypuses (or ought it platypi?) were first brought to Europe they were thought to be a taxidermist’s joke because they seemed so bizarre. They are beyond extraordinary: egg laying mammals which are semi-aquatic, capable of electro-location of their food in the water, and one of the very few mammals that are venomous (the males have spurs which can inflict painful “stings” on humans). Do read the Wiki article for more information on the natural history of this astounding beast: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus

Looking at them from a shamanistic perspective, their attributes are also extraordinary too:

Connection the ancient animals,

Ability to remain unique,

Value of remaining as you are,

Ability to rear young differently


The idea of them being a hoax comes down to the observation that they appear to be made up of the various component parts of other creatures: a bill like a duck, a tail like that of a beaver and so on. Each component fits a platypus to its environment, perfectly. They appear strange to us at first because they are unfamiliar and exotic, but once you have studied them a little, they become beautiful too (though they remain exotic and strange!).

I’ve thought about this for a while and realise that I resonate with the platypus. Leaving aside my own assemblage of skills, natural abilities and talents both inborn and learned, I realised that my writing is a kind of literary platypus. Nothing I have written fits neatly into the strict taxonomy of genre descriptions. This is both wonderful and maddening. People say, “You should fit to a genre,” and I discovered I can’t. Not won’t- can’t. I have tried a number of times and very quickly a story evolves, and morphs into another platypus-book.

Cross-genre literature actually appeals to a lot of people because it crosses boundaries and it carries more surprises than literature that sticks rigidly to the accepted parameters of a single genre. Away With The Fairies is a platypus of Women’s literary fiction/Paranormal/Spiritual/Mystery. Strangers and Pilgrims covers the same areas. Square Peg has a couple of limbs of Coming of Age to add to the mix. The Bet creeps into Anti-Romance (not a genre but I’d like it to be) as well as incorporating Psychological Literary Fiction. Even the short story collections, billed (duck or not) as horror or ghost stories are far from the classic genre of either.

Why does genre matter though? Why do I even try to classify my books in this way. Simple answer: visibility. In the vast ocean of available books, people understandably need to use some tools to track down the books they enjoy. Amazon has begun creating categories in their charting system that means that hybrids and platypus books have a chance of becoming visible on the never-ending shelves. So, for us creators of Weird but Wonderful cross-over books, there is hope that readers have a better chance of finding us and loving us.

I’ll end with a little snippet of cultural reference from Wiki:

The platypus has been featured in the Dreamtime stories of indigenous Australians, who believed the animal was a hybrid of a duck and a water rat.[83]:57–60 According to one story, the major animal groups, the land animals, water animals and birds, all competed for the platypus to join their respective groups, but the platypus ultimately decided to not join any of them, feeling that he did not need to be part of a group to be special.

I’m on the Pink Sofa ~ come and join me

Today I am being graciously hosted on the famed Pink Sofa of novelist and blogger Carol Hedges. Carol is the author of a series of Victorian “sensation” novels, which will appeal if you like detective stories set in Dickensian London. I’ve read and enjoyed the first in the series, and now there are two more to look forward to. You can find Carol’s books here  and my guest post is below, so do go over, have a read and comment too.


A Tale of Two Authors

Odd how things pop up, reminding you of things.

First there was this article from The Guardian, about Holloways, sunken lanes. Do take a peep at the pictures especially.  There’s more about the book mentioned here.

I’ve explored a lot of such places as a child and as an adult, they still fascinate me.



I’d like to tell you a story.
Once upon a time I was a bookish, somewhat geeky teenager with ambitions to become a writer who had her confidence and self-belief knocked back. I’d started writing very young and by ten had written my first novel. By fourteen, I’d written several more and I approached one of the English teachers at my school for feedback. Sometime later, he asked me to stay behind after school so we could talk about it. Needless to say, opening the discussion with the words, “How do you tell a mother that her baby is ugly,” wasn’t perhaps the best way, because for many years it was THOSE words rather than the much more constructive stuff that followed, which stayed with me. The rest of what he said was something that also stayed, but shoved away in a dark box somewhere in a corner of my mind, and I took it out and looked at it from time to time. I took comfort that he felt I was a born writer, but was troubled by the fact that he felt that my chosen genre at that time was not what he saw me writing. I loved detective fiction so that’s what I wrote. There’s some irony in the fact that the books published by J.K Rowling under the pen name Robert Galbraith are quite close to the plots I came up with as a teenager, writing about private detective agencies investigating weird and horrible crimes.
Anyway, some of his advice was to read and to read as widely as I could. This I did. A year or so after this, he organised a couple of visits to the school by authors of what might now be termed Young Adult fiction. I recall I met Nicholas Fisk and then John Gordon. For these events, we were asked to produce something to send to the authors. I really liked John Gordon and he spent half an hour with me after his talk (turns out I was the only kid who wrote anything for him!) and he gave me some very good encouragement and real kindness.
The story I wrote for him is lost, somewhere. It might be stuffed in one of the removals crates that I keep old MSS in, handwritten and fading. I don’t know. But when I moved house three years ago, a removal man dumped the contents of my desk drawers into boxes and I was obliged to sort it all out. And I found not that story but the one I wrote a year or two later, which was a kind of prequel to the tale I wrote for John Gordon. This one I had typed up on my old Brother portable and had sent it off to Woman’s Own when I was 21 and newly married. It earned me my very first rejection slip. Finding it again in my forties, possibly thirty years after I’d written it was odd, like a message in a bottle. The past is indeed a foreign country and they do do things differently there, but I found a whiff of who I once was and it heartened me. I could see I had a voice even then.
So two years ago, I took the elements of that story, plus what I could dredge up in my memory for the two other tales in that sequence, and I wrote another story. It came out as a longer short story or a short novella, and I published that a year ago.
It’s the tale of two authors: who I was and who I am.


PS. For a short time, it’s going to be a mere 99p or 99 cents, so grab it while it’s low.

Be more Badger ~ calling afresh on an old ally

Be more Badger ~ calling afresh on an old ally

A few nights ago, I caught the end of a nature programme I’d seen before, “Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem” and I had an enjoyable twenty minutes watching the antics of captive honey badger Stoffle (he was hand reared, I believe because he was found injured as a baby and couldn’t be returned to the wild). It reminded me of my ties to Badger medicine.

My first proper job after I graduated was in nature conservation, working in the capacity of education officer on an SSSI reserve in the north east of England. One of the many wonderful aspects of my job was the badgers. We had several colonies of them and one sett was perfect for badger watching. Dug into the sides of steep yew woodland, the sett had many entrances and it was possibly for us to scramble down at nightfall and sit among the tree roots and watch the badgers. I’ve written more about it in a post from some years ago. https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/badgers-bums/

The European badger is a more reserved beast than the South African honey badger but it shares powerful characteristics. Tenacity, strength, connection to roots are all part of its medicine. According to my usual favourite site on such matters http://www.animalspirits.com/index8.html , the badger is:

Keeper of stories, Bold self-expression, Aggressiveness, Single-mindedness, Passion, Cunning, Revenge, Perseverance, Control, Antidote to passivity or victimization, Persistence in the service of a mission, Groundedness, Knowledge of the earth, Earth magick and wisdom, Creative action in a crisis, Protection of rights and spiritual ideas.


One thing it doesn’t mention is the fact that the European badger has the thickest skin of any mammal native to Britain. This means that not only is it able to avoid the kind of injuries creatures with thinner skin might get, it can also move within its skin if pinned or held down in a fight. This gives greater manoeuvrability in conflict.

They also head deep underground during the winter, not to hibernate as such but to go into energy conservation mode, sleeping and dreaming the winter away. Who knows what their dreams are?


I need more of the badger attributes. And I need a thicker skin. I shall Be More Badger.

A sea of books

A sea of books

I set sail on the sea of books;

My fleet of novels

Bravely bobbing

Cover-sails fluttering

Amid a wind of acclaim.

Hope was not enough

Armour against the tides;

Their bright flags faded,

Tattered and ragged,

Ripped by the storms.

Then came the days

When piracy threatened

And every author cried

It’s a jungle out there!”

And eyed others askance,

Seeing fellows as rivals

And former friends as foes.

The sea became too busy,

Impossible to navigate,

Books thronged, thick as flies

On a week old corpse.

I called my books home

And weary and gratefully

They came back to harbour,

Hulks in a haven,

Safe from sinking and shame.