First… A book I’ve just read.

For some years, the only fiction I read was that which I edited, and that HAD to stop. I had to find time to read other books, so as not to lose out on fantastic stories. I’m happy to say over the last three years or so I’ve stuck to this resolve and had read many wonderful novels.

But this week I finished reading what I regard as one of the best supernatural novels I’ve ever encountered. Lent to me by my friend Louise Coquio, ‘The Little Stranger’ by Sarah Waters was an absolute delight.

This book embraces all that makes a spooky story good. There is not just the gloriously underplayed supernatural element (and all the more un-nerving because of that underplaying), but a competence and silkiness of writing that is exceptional. Sarah Waters might not tease the senses with a sensual and sumptuous writing style, such as we find in the works of Alice Hoffman and Tanith Lee, but her prose is faultless, smooth and flowing. She tells a story well, the unravelling is perfect, the denouement, though again understated, absolutely chilling. I read this fat book in under a week, and I get little time to read. With this one I made time. I just couldn’t put it down.

The premise is the story of an aristocratic Warwickshire family, post Second World War, struggling to keep an unwieldy family pile solvent. The father of the family is dead, his son is crippled by war injuries, his surviving widow is a rather wilting anachronistic violet and his daughter, the sole strong survivor, is hampered by her apparent ‘plainness’ and clumsiness in social skills. Their huge home ‘Hundreds’ is falling to bits. They struggle to keep their estate farm alive, and half the time they don’t even have the money to light or heat their home properly. Beautiful artefacts are falling to ruin. Irreplaceable architectural treasures succumb to weather and wear, and the family have no money to prevent it. Into this situation comes the local doctor, the narrator, whose mother was once a servant at the house. He is intrigued by ‘Hundreds’ and its inhabitants, and wants to help them with their mundane trials, but then, slick as the thinnest of blades, the supernatural slices into this story of Post War troubles, the emergence of the National Health Service, and the problems that beset Britain, across the social classes, in those times. The knife is keen and cruel. It’s also subtle. You are left wondering. I don’t want to say more than that. Just read it for a real treat.

It’s not often I feel a bit breathless after reading a novel, because I read so many, but for those who love good writing, plus a supernatural slant, with a bit of ‘Downton Abbey’, without the riches, thrown in, this is a super read. 10/10

Writing News

Well good and bad. Good in that the short stories are progressing, and I’ve placed two. More news when I get release dates for the collections.

Bad is that I still find I have little time to write my novel. On the one hand, it’s great that life is full and I’m doing things many days of the week with other people, getting me out into the world, but I also wish I had more private time to work. Even so, despite this lack of time, I’m thinking about my novel and working on it in that sense.

It amazes me now, looking back to when I wrote the first Wraeththu novels, that I only had nub ends of time, in between a day job and a house full of lodgers, to write those books. I guess youth had something to do with it. Or maybe my life was less full in… responsible ways. Now I run my own business, and if I look at my email at the start of a day, you can guarantee my muse flits off in disgust. By the time I’m through with admin, the urge to create has long gone.

What I am happy about is that when I do get time to write, I enjoy it and am pleased with what I produce. Just wish I was doing more of it!

I have my friend Andy Collins up for a long weekend this week so look forward to some magical times. We will be meeting up with Deb and Yvan Cartwright and Graham Phillips for a day out, so sure to be… intriguing!

Back to the Immanion Press side of things, we’ll be bringing out our first Young Adult title in June, ‘Runners’ by Sharon Sant. This is an experiment for us, as we’ve not ventured into this genre before. Sharon is an editor at Immanion, and YA is her forte. We hope ‘Runners’ is the first of many YA titles in the SF, fantasy and horror genres we publish.

Please take a look at http://www.immanion-press.com for our latest releases.

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