Upcoming: LETHAL WHITE by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland/Sphere)

GalbraithR-CS4-LethalWhiteI was one of the readers who was drawn to Robert Galbraith‘s Cormoran Strike series after it was revealed that “Robert Galbraith” is actually J.K. Rowling. Before that, I don’t think I’d seen anything about The Cuckoo’s Calling anywhere. As a fan of Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I decided to give Galbraith’s novels a try. Luckily, I really liked the first one, and very quickly read the follow-up The Silkworm and then the third, Career of Evil. The novels are slow-burn mysteries, and the main characters are great. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the fourth book, Lethal White, ever since it was announced that it was on the way. Here’s the synopsis:

“I seen a kid killed… He strangled it, up by the horse.”

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott — once his assistant, now a partner in the agency — set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been — Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, Lethal Whiteis both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

Lethal White is due to be published on September 18th, 2018, by Mulholland Books in North America and Sphere in the UK. The series has also been adapted into a BBC TV series, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet (it’s unclear where/how it’s available in Canada…).

Also on CR: Review of The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Silkworm and Career of Evil

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Cover Reveal: THE REMNANT by Charlie Fletcher (Orbit)


Above is the rather good cover for Charlie Fletcher‘s third Oversight novel, The Remnant. Due to be published in March 2017 by Orbit Books in the UK and North America, the cover fits very nicely with the first two (below). Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the chance to read The Oversight and The Paradox, but I fully intend to do so. In the meantime, here’s the synopsis:

“The Oversight is most dangerous when most reduced. There are many dead and gone who did not remember that.”

The Oversight of London has been sworn for millennia to prevent the natural and the supernatural worlds from preying on each other.

Now, at its lowest ebb, with its headquarters destroyed and its last members scattered far and wide, this secret society will battle for survival and face the harshest foe it has ever met: itself.

I’m looking forward to reading all three of these. Hopefully soon.


Interview with JAMES BENNETT

BennettB-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Bennett?

That’s a big question. James Bennett is someone who finds it weird to refer to himself in the third person, but who is, predominantly, a Fantasy writer. Also an international playboy. I made that last bit up.

Your debut novel, Chasing Embers, is published by Orbit. It looks rather intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Thank you. Chasing Embers relates the story of Ben Garston, who, to all intents and purposes, seems like your everyday Londoner, albeit a little rough around the edges. But Ben has a secret hiding under his skin. In fact, the world has a secret hiding under its skin. Imagine if all those medieval tales of fabulous beasts were actually real. Imagine if there were only a few of them left and living among us, endangered species, survivors in the modern world. The Ben Garston books take that idea as their central premise. Continue reading

Excerpt: LAWLESS AND THE FLOWERS OF SIN by William Sutton (Titan)

SuttonW-Lawless&TheFlowersOfSinToday, we have an excerpt from William Sutton‘s second Victorian crime novel, Lawless and the Flowers of Sin. Recently published by Titan Books, it’s the sequel to Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square.

Here’s the synopsis:

It is 1863, and as a reluctant Inspector of Vice, Campbell Lawless undertakes a reckoning of London’s houses of ill repute, a shadowy netherworld of frayed glamour and double standards, mesmerising and unspeakable by turns.

From the erotic booksellers of Holywell Street to the alleys of Haymarket, he discovers backstreet cast-offs and casualties of the society bordellos, and becomes fascinated by a musician who has established a foundation for fallen women. But his inquiries draw the attention of powerful men, who can be merciless in defending their reputations. Lawless must unlock the heart of a clandestine network, before he too is silenced…

Read on for the excerpt… Continue reading

Upcoming: THE HOUSE OF FAME by Oliver Harris (Vintage)


I haven’t read Oliver Harris’s first two novels, yet, but Alyssa is a fan. I first heard of his books when I was living in London, and therefore wasn’t really in the mood to read fiction set in the city. However, after spotting the cover for his upcoming third novel, above, I must say my interest was piqued. I know one should never judge a book by its cover, but that cover above and the new covers for The Hollow Man and Deep Shelter (below) are stunning.

First, though, here’s the synopsis for House of Fame:

Amber Knight is London’s hottest ticket – pop star, film star, the front-page subject of daily tabloid gossip.

Nick Belsey is less celebrated. His decade-long career at Hampstead CID seems to be coming to an end, and his habit of getting into serious trouble is ongoing. He is currently of no fixed abode.

But when Belsey is asked by a desperate mother to help find her son, he finds himself infiltrating the entourage of Amber Knight. It is a world of excess, obsession, lust and greed – precisely as Belsey had expected, and perhaps even hoped for. Soon, though, the blood begins to flow, one sickening crime is followed by the next, and Belsey finds himself in a far more deadly world, whose mysteries he must solve and whose grip he must escape.

The House of Fame is due out in February 2016, published by Vintage Books. It doesn’t have a page, yet, on the publisher’s website, but it is available for pre-order on Amazon.


And, in case you haven’t read the first one as well, here’s the synopsis for ??:

Detective Nick Belsey is broke. Now it looks like he’s out of a job – something happened last night, something with the boss’s wife…

At dawn, on what should be the last day of Belsey’s career, Hampstead CID is ghostly quiet. Belsey checks the overnight files. There’s a missing-person report. But this one’s different. It’s on the Bishops Avenue, London’s richest street. Belsey sees a scam, an escape route.

But he hasn’t got there first.

Furiously paced and thrillingly plotted, The Hollow Man is a black love letter to London’s shadow world. It marks the beginning of a seductive contemporary detective series, and the arrival of a future master of the genre.

Guest Post: “My Audiobooks…” by Mark Ellis

EllisM-AuthorPicThe experience of having my first two Frank Merlin books, Princes Gate and Stalin’s Gold, which are set in World War 2 London, turned into audiobooks was very straightforward and enjoyable. Audible, Amazon’s audiobook arm, got in touch with me through my publishers in the latter part of 2014. There are different ways in which audiobooks are published on Audible. Sometimes the book publisher remains the main publisher but is given access to the Audible platform at various levels. Alternatively Audible themselves become the publishers. In my case it was agreed that Audible would buy the audio rights to the books from me and be the publishers. This, I learned, was the best outcome as my audiobooks would then have the full weight and support of the Audible and Amazon organisations behind them. Continue reading

Review: RIVERS OF LONDON by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz)

Aaronovitch-PG1-RiversOfLondonUKThe first Peter Grant novel…

My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden . . . and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying.

I finally got around to reading it! I actually pre-ordered this before it came out, and promptly… didn’t read it. (And somehow lost my first edition hardcover, which is most annoying…) I was going through a phase when I didn’t want to read anything set in London and then got distracted by myriad other things. As I am wont to do. Anyway. I’ve now begun the series, and I will certainly be reading the rest of it. This was a lot of fun, and a must-read for all fans of urban fantasy. Continue reading

Excerpt: OUR LADY OF THE STREETS by Tom Pollock (Jo Fletcher Books)



Chapter One

A girl hurried barefoot through the streets of what had once been East London.

She stumbled, clumsy in her haste, and caught herself with the iron railing she carried in her right hand. Her skin was covered in scales of tiny terracotta rooftops. A fringe of rubberised cable fell across her forehead from under the hood of her sweatshirt. The hair-fi ne streets that crisscrossed her back were flooded with oily sweat. As she ran, her shadow loomed and shambled in front of her, stretched by the dawn.

Beth could barely keep her eyes open. Hunger, exhaustion and week after week of pretending to be fi ne had hollowed her out. She licked her dry lips. She could sense the pulse of the street under her, but instead of slapping her soles flat to the pavement and replenishing herself from that tantalising thrum of energy, she ran on tiptoes like she was trying to avoid broken glass. She looked up at where the houses had used to be and swallowed fearfully. Hungry as she was, she didn’t dare feed here.

Brick terraces rose on both sides of her, their façades unbroken but for the zigzag of mortar: no windows, no doors. Gravel paths led through the overgrown front gardens to dead-end against the featureless walls. No one knew exactly when Hackney had fallen to the Blank Streets, or how many people had been trapped in their homes when all the entrances and exits had suddenly vanished. Beth had heard rumours of fat beads of blood rolling down the cracks between bricks like marbles through children’s toy mazes, but she’d never witnessed it. All she knew for certain was what everyone knew: the cries for help had fallen silent quickly – far too quickly for those entombed inside to have starved to death.

Oscar, nestled in her hood, growled and curled tighter into her neck.

I hear you, little buddy, she thought. She reached back into her hood and let the little lizard lick her fingertips. I hear you.

She paused at the end of the street and bent double. Her breath sawed in and out of her lungs, rattling like a troubled engine. Get a grip, she ordered herself. She straightened slowly, feeling the steel hinges in her vertebrae click into place.

She heard a noise and froze.

It was very faint, like a shoe-scuff, but the city was all but silent now and such small sounds carried. She felt a brief impulse to open herself up to the street, to push her consciousness into the asphalt and feel what it felt – but she held back, eyeing the windowless walls. On these streets, she didn’t know what might push back into her. She imagined her eyes, nose, mouth, ears, even her pores, sealing over with the same seamless brick and shuddered.

She inhaled deeply and all the minuscule lights that dotted the city on her skin flared in response to the fresh oxygen.

Thames, she whispered inside her head, please, dear Christ, let me be in time.

She turned the corner – and stared.

If her voice had still belonged to her, she would have laughed, but instead she just stood there in silence, her mouth open, while her chest heaved and her jaw ached.

Garner Street, the road where she’d lived all her life until three months ago, had been spared.

She stumped towards number 18 in a relieved daze. Wilting plants and dead bracken blocked the gate from opening more than a few inches, but she knew that gap well and squeezed through it with ease. Chapped paint surrounded a letterbox with so fierce a spring that when she was a kid she’d imagined it was the snapping jaws of a brass wolf.

She smiled to herself. Back when we had to pretend.

The place looked the same as always, the same as it had the night she’d fled it: the night Mater Viae returned.


She relived it between eye-blinks: the blue glare from the blazing Sewermanders reflecting off the walls; the stink of burning methane and wet cement; the terrified faces of London’s Masonry Men pressing out of the brickwork, their mouths silently shaping pleas for help. The walls had rippled as Mater Viae’s clayling soldiers swarmed under them, clamping red hands over those screaming mouths and pulling them back beneath the surface; the Sodiumites had fled their bulbs in bright panic, leaving darkness and silence in their wake when everything passed on.

And the cranes…

A spindly shape caught her eye and she looked up. A crane loomed over the tiled roofs at the far end of the street. It was stock-still.

If you’re looking for something to be grateful for, Beth, she told herself, there’s always that.

When Mater Viae first stepped through the mirror, the cranes had started to move. For three days and three nights they’d torn at the flesh of the city, but then, as suddenly as they’d woken, they’d stopped, fallen silent. Not a single crane had moved since. No one knew why, but it was the smallest of small mercies, and Beth wasn’t complaining.

She fumbled in the pocket of her hoodie, but came up empty.

You’ve got to be kidding me. What kind of Street Goddess locks herself out of her own damn house?

Lizard claws pricked their way down her arm and Oscar appeared on her hand, growling at her questioningly. Beth sighed and nodded; the Sewermander rolled an eye and moved towards the lock. There was a faint hiss from inside the house, from the direction of the kitchen. Beth smelled gas.

Oscar’s tongue flicked out. Blue flame flared in the keyhole and with a snap-sizzle the lock vanished and was replaced by smoke, charred wood and a hole two inches across. Beth stroked the back of Oscar’s head and he let out a self-satisfied purr.

Ah, the Sewer Dragon. What self-respecting burglar would be seen without one?

She pushed inside and let her feet settle flat on the carpet. For a moment she swayed in place, stretching her feet, wiggling her toes and relishing the return of her balance as the tension ran out of her insteps. The place smelled of dust and next door’s interloping cat.

The house felt smaller than it had when she’d left it, like a three-quarter-scale mock-up for a film set. She hurried up the stairs, passing photos of her mum and dad and herself as a kid. She trailed her tile-clad fingertips across them as she passed, but she didn’t look at them.

A cobweb stretched across the doorway to her room and she broke it like a finishing-line tape. A sunbeam shone in through the skylight. Old sketches were strewn all over the floor. She accidentally kicked a mug over, and cold, mouldskinned tea crept over a half-finished flamenco dancer with swirling charcoal galaxies for eyes.

She yanked her wardrobe open, shovelled armfuls of clothes out of the way and pulled out a battered Crayola carry-case. Over the years that yellow plastic box had held her diaries, her love letters (both the ones she’d received and the ones she hadn’t had the guts to send; sadly, they were seldom to the same boys), condoms, a handful of razor blades and her first-ever eighth of ganja, still wrapped in cellophane: everything she’d ever been scared of her dad finding.

She snapped the clasps and tipped out the current contents – a round-bottomed chemical flask and a yellowing paperback novel – onto the bed. She picked up the book and turned it over. The cover had fallen off and the pages had the texture of ash. The Iron Condor Mystery: she’d locked it away in her box the day after Dad gave it to her. She remembered her mum leafing through it when she was alive, and her dad obsessively doing the same after her death. She ran her thumb delicately along the spine, then pulled her hand back like she’d been burned.

Even after the cranes and the trains and the metal wolves, even after the chemicals had changed her skin to concrete and her sweat to oil, Beth feared the traces this book had left on her heart. She stuffed it into her back pocket and turned to the flask. The liquid inside it glimmered like mercury and reflected the green light of Beth’s eyes back at her as it clung to the inside of the glass. A label taped to it read: Childhood outlooks, proclivities and memories: traumatic and unusual. Dilute as required.

She pulled the label off and turned it around. The words were written on the back of a sepia photo of a boy with messy hair and a cocky smile.

So here we are, Petrol-Sweat. Beth looked from the photo to the room and back again. With everything we used to be.

She lifted the bottle and peered into her reflection in the glass. And here’s what I am now. What you made me. She felt a dull ache set into her forearm from the simple act of holding up the flask. A drop of sweat fell from her brow and stained the duvet black.

But did you know any way to save me from it?

‘That him?’

Beth looked up sharply. The skylight was open and a girl in a black headscarf was looking in, her chin resting on folded arms. The scars on her brown skin bracketed her mouth as she smiled, a smile Beth returned with an openmouthed stare.

‘Anyone else, I’d say this was an awkward silence,’ Pen said. ‘But since it’s you, I’ll let it pass.’ She swung her legs in through the window and dropped into the room.

Recovering herself, Beth rummaged in her pocket for her marker pen and grabbed a scrap of paper from the floor.

Told you to wait back at Withersham, she scrawled on the back of it. Her surprise made the words jagged. Blank Streets, fever Streets. Not safe here.

Pen lifted her scarred chin the way she always did when Beth implied she couldn’t take care of herself. ‘Chill, B. I came over the rooftops. The tiles aren’t deadly yet, far as we know, anyway. Besides, you were taking so long – I got worried.’ She frowned, puzzled. ‘What gives? I covered the distance here in forty-five minutes, which means you could have run it less than five. But you’ve been gone more than an hour. What happened?’

Beth swallowed, her rough tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth as she wrote her reply. Being careful. Masonry Men at junction with Shakespeare Ave. Didn’t know whose side they were on.

She passed the note over, watching Pen carefully. One advantage of losing your voice, she thought to herself. Lies go over easier on paper.

Pen’s frown deepened. She sat on the end of Beth’s bed, crossed her legs under her and started drumming her palms against her kneecaps. ‘Weird being back in this room after all the nights we spent sitting up in it,’ she said. ‘You remember the very first time? When we were bitching about Gwen Hardy? I was so worried you’d tell her I could barely get the words out.’ She laughed and showed the scarred back of her hand to Beth. ‘It felt like the riskiest thing I’d ever do.’

Beth smiled carefully, keeping her church-spire teeth hidden behind her lips. She went to sit beside Pen.

‘You miss it?’ Pen asked. ‘Talking like that?’ She paused, but Beth made no move towards her paper. Pen started to pick at the cuticles on her hands, peeling the skin back from around her nails like pencil shavings.

Quickly, Beth put a hand over hers to stop that little self-demolition. She mouthed, What is it?

Pen looked right into her eyes. Beth could see the green glow from her own gaze fill her friend’s eye sockets. ‘Could you use your other voice, B?’ Pen asked quietly. ‘Your new one? I miss hearing you talk back.’

Beth hesitated, but then she opened her hands in front of her. The lines in her palms were streets, dark canyons between miniature rooftops. As she concentrated, tiny lights began to traverse them: the wash of headlights from invisible cars. She heard the growl of their engines and the faint protest of their horns. Water gurgled through turbines on her shoulder. A train rattled over tracks near her heart.

The sounds were faint, but if you knew how to listen, you could hear words in the edges of them where they blended into one another: a precise and literal body language.

‘What’s wrong, Pen?’ Beth asked.

Pen sighed. ‘Glas sent a pigeon,’ she said. ‘She found my parents.’

Beth started forward in concern. ‘Thames! Are they okay? Are they—?’

‘They’re alive,’ Pen said. ‘They’re not hurt. They made it to the evacuation helicopter when Dalston fell – they manage to dodge the Sewermanders and get out. They’re staying in Birmingham right now—’

‘Pen! That’s grea—’

‘—with Aunt Soraya.’

Beth sat back. ‘Oh.’


‘Your favourite Aunt Soraya? The one whose house I stayed at?’

‘That’s the one.’

‘The one with pictures of you up all along her hall? The one who named her cat after you?’

‘Yeah. Can’t imagine that was awkward when my folks turned up, what with them not even remembering I exist.’

‘Pen, I—’

‘I did that to them, B,’ Pen cut her off, her voice still quiet but stony, matter-of-fact, brooking no argument. She kept her eye on the shred of skin she was flicking on her thumb. ‘I was the most important thing in their lives and I stole myself from them.’ Her gaze fell on the bottle of Fil’s memories. ‘Just like that. I thought that what they couldn’t remember couldn’t hurt them, but damn, it’s hurting them now.

‘Glas had her bird sit right on the window ledge. It listened in to a whole conversation. You’d be amazed how many words that trash-spirit has to use to say, “You’ve made your parents think they’re crazy.” when she’s trying to be nice about it.’ She sniffed like she’d been crying, though no tears had fallen, and rubbed the sleeve of her jacket across her eyes.

After a moment she continued, ‘Anyway, Glas just told me, and since we were here anyway, it felt kind of appropriate to tell you here, for old time’s sake, you know?’

Beth nodded, but she couldn’t hold her friend’s gaze so she studied the swallow pattern on her duvet cover instead.


Beth didn’t look up.

‘Is there anything you want to talk about?’

Beth stilled her shaking right hand by making a fist.

For old time’s sake, she thought. Her old backpack was tucked under her desk, stuffed with aerosol cans and stencils and markers. The smile she gave Pen was almost shy. ‘You feeling inspired, Pen?’

Pen returned the smile, stood up and stretched. ‘I think I might have some game, sure.’



Tom Pollock’s OUR LADY OF THE STREETS is the third novel in his Skyscraper Throne series, and will be published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books on August 7th, 2014. The series also includes The City’s Son and The Glass Republic.


Upcoming: “The Oversight” by Charlie Fletcher (Orbit)

FletcherC-Oversight2014I spotted this yesterday morning, but I have a feeling I have read about this upcoming novel before… I can’t for the life of me remember where, though. Anyway, it sounds pretty interesting, and I rather like the cover. Here’s the synopsis…

“The end always comes faster than you think.”

Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side.

Once the Oversight, the secret society that policed the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their numbers can be counted on a single hand. When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight’s London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled – but the girl is a trap.

As the borders between this world and the next begin to break down, murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow.

This dark Dickensian fantasy from Charlie Fletcher (the Stoneheart trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.

The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher is due to be published by Orbit UK and US, in May 2014. You can read a sample of the novel over on io9.com.

Guest Post: And Now For Something a Little Different – James Lovegrove on AGE OF GODPUNK

Lovegrove-AgeOfGodpunkMy latest Pantheon book, Age Of Godpunk, is not like the others. For a start, it’s an omnibus of three novellas, not a novel. But it isn’t military-SF either. If anything, the three tales are urban fantasy. The themes are the same, though: gods and men and the interaction between them; the nature of belief; acceptance of and/or rebellion against divine authority.

I have to say that all three novellas are pretty personal, too.

They have a setting in common: the city of London. Now, London is a place about which I am more than a little ambivalent. On the one hand, I love to visit our capital and avail myself of the many cultural, culinary, retail and social amenities it has to offer. On the other hand, I’ve lived there at various periods of my life and never felt truly at home or comfortable. I’m from East Sussex. I belong near the south coast, in a county with hills and trees. After any trip up to the Big Smoke, I’m always happy – relieved, even – to return to fresh air and vistas.

So the Age Of Godpunk novellas reflect my mixed feelings about London. They also reflect my mixed feelings about belief, faith and religion. Each of them can be read on two levels. You can take the appearance of the various deities in them at face value, the metaphysical manifesting as real, literal beings. Or you can view them rationally and empirically, with the gods existing only in the minds of the protagonists, phantoms, fantasies, delusions.

More specifically, each novella touches on themes drawn directly from my own life. These are the most personal stories I’ve written in ages, if not ever.

Lovegrove-AgeOfAnansiThe first of them, Age Of Anansi, is about storytelling, which is the thing I try to do for a living. Anansi is the spider god of African tradition, a liar and a trickster, a woefully inept would-be adulterer, and more often than not the hapless victim of his own schemes – ensnared by his own webs. The tales told about him crossed the Atlantic in slave ships and came to America, where they mutated over time and metamorphosed into the Br’er Rabbit fables.

In Age Of Anansi, his spirit apparently possesses a stuffy London-based barrister who is then cajoled into attending a once-every-generation contest among trickster gods in California. In many ways the contest is like an SF convention, but with every attendee attempting to outsmart and outshine the others. So, just like an SF convention, in fact.

Lovegrove-AgeOfSatan2Age Of Satan sketches the life of a young man from school in the late 1960s to the present day. He believes he has sold his soul to the Devil, sort of by accident, but gradually learns that there’s more to the Lord of the Flies than the Bible would have us think. Although the character, Guy, is born about a decade and a half before I was, he attends an all-male boarding school, as I did, and he travels to Thailand, as I did. He’s kind of an avatar for my younger self, sharing many of the passions and anxieties I had while growing up.

As for the third novella, Age Of Gaia, it may be regarded as a sequel of sorts to my 1999 novella How The Other Half Lives, which was one of the first titles to be published by the wonderful boutique imprint PS Publishing. That tale was about a plutocrat who keeps a man locked in his cellar and brutally abuses him in order to ensure himself continued good fortune and enhance his already obscene wealth. Gaia features another plutocrat, Barnaby Pollard, who has made his billions from oil and coal, heedless of the environmental damage that fossil fuels cause. He meets a woman and develops a relationship with her that directly affects both his business and his attitude towards Mother Nature.

There’s a scene in the story which reimagines an event from my own childhood. I was perhaps twelve years old when a bypass was built, circumventing my hometown. The road was driven straight through a patch of countryside where I and my friends regularly played. We had regarded this place as ours, a rural sanctuary, a wild spot where we, too, could be wild. The people of the Highways Agency (or whatever it was called back then) didn’t know that, nor would they have cared if they had.

I took the road building as a personal insult and mourned the fact that fields and woods had been bulldozed and two lanes of tarmac laid down in their place. When something similar happens to the young Barnaby Pollard, however, I show him celebrating the event, applauding the arrival of speed and progress and not giving a damn about any lost greenery. It’s a formative moment in his life, a pivotal experience, which has ironic echoes later on in the story.

As a rule I try to avoid bringing myself into my fiction. I don’t consider my life to be that interesting, and anyway I prefer to write about the unreal and the fantastic, the things that aren’t as opposed to the things that are. Somehow, though, with these three novellas I just couldn’t help it. The personal crept in, almost without my realising. With hindsight, I think that’s one of their great strengths.


Pantheon Series (Novels): Age of Ra, Age of Zeus, Age of Odin, Age of Aztec, Age of Voodoo

Age of Gaia will be published on September 12th 2013, by Solaris. For those of you in reach of London, Blackwells on Charing Cross Road is holding a launch event a week earlier, on September 5th. Jared Shurin, of the cult genre website Pornokitsch, will hold an evening in conversation with the author.

Be sure to check out James Lovegrove’s website for more information on his novels and so forth.