Call for Submissions: Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion

That’s right! It’s time for another anthology. Joanne Hall and I are teaming up with Wizard’s Tower Press again, to bring you the best of Bristolian steampunk. The project is supported by the BristolCon Foundation, which aims to encourage up-and-coming local writers and artists working within the sphere of speculative fiction.

You can find out more, including details on how to submit, from the Wizard’s Tower website or the BristolCon site.

Shout-out: The Art of Forgetting

This week I have mostly been reading The Art of Forgetting Book One – Rider by Joanne Hall.

I have two disclaimers to make before I talk about the book. Firstly, Jo’s a mate, and I’m a fan of her work. Secondly, I’ve been ill this week. The kind of ill that totally stops you enjoying life, without actually promising to end it for you. So a page turner of a fantasy adventure story what just what I needed. That and a lot of ice-cream.

Rider is much more than a great bit of escapism, though. Jo writes high fantasy with a straightforward, earthy humour. Her characters face difficult emotional challenges as well as physical ones; there are more inner demons than outer ones. She doesn’t gloss over the harshness of a pre-industrial, wartime existence, and neither does she fetishize it.

The novel is set in the same world as Jo’s New Kingdom trilogy, and takes up the story of Rhodri, a child found wandering in the woods and raised by villagers who mistrust his uncannily perfect memory. An outsider, he is persecuted until the day the King’s Third ride through the village and change his life almost completely.

Rhodri’s talent is of course also a curse, as he is unable to forget the horrors he sees. The bullying doesn’t stop when he leaves the village, and he makes his own mistakes along the path towards adulthood. 

Rider is to a large extent a coming-of-age story, and sex and gender are important features. Jo handles these deftly, ducking genre clichés and handling heavy issues with great lightness of touch. As we see Rhodri make both discoveries and blunders, we develop an understanding of this conflicted young man, and personally I found him very sympathetic, with just enough darkness to make him interesting. He’s loyal – when he’s not blinded by his own passions. He’s honest – when he’s not breaking under the pressure of other people’s expectations. He’s ambitious, and one gets the feeling that ill things may come of it.

The book isn’t out until June, but you can pre-order it now from Kristell Ink. You can find out more here: or on Jo’s blog:


Radio, what’s new?

On Wednesday, I was honoured to be the guest of Cheryl Morgan on the Ujima Radio Women’s Outlook show. Ujima is an urban community radio station in Bristol.

Cheryl’s star turn was Emma Newman, who came on to talk about faeries, her current writing, and just a little bit of politics. I appeared alongside Becca Lloyd, a fellow writer I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before, to discuss travelling. Obviously I’ve spent some time in Africa, but I’m thoroughly envious of Becca, who recently attended the Jaipur Literary Festival.

I was as terrified as one can be when stuffed to the eyeballs with cold and flu capsules, but Cheryl is a superb host, put us entirely at our ease, and made the whole experience really enjoyable. You can hear the show here: