Archive for the ‘Ink & Feather’ Category

I’m excited to finally announce that I’ve signed a two book deal with Angry Robot! The first book, An Accident of Stars, is slated for release in summer 2016 – I like to describe it as a portal fantasy with the safeties off, complete with adventuring ladies, politics and magic, and I can’t wait to see¬†what you think of it.

Massive thanks to my awesome agent, Jennie Goloboy, who had faith in the story from minute one; to all the fabulous people¬†at Angry Robot, a team of geeks after my own heart; to my¬†friends and writers and writer-friends who’ve helped and encouraged and generally put up with my flailing over the past few months; and to my wonderful husband, Toby, and our mostly-wonderful spawn, who currently sees my laptop as a toy car obstacle rather than a source of gainful employment, but nonetheless manages to be endearing. I love you both.

Watch this space, you guys. It’s gonna be awesome :)


I first became active online when I was eleven or twelve, back in 1998; I’d just started high school. To use the internet, I had to go into my mother’s study and use a 56k dial-up modem that sounded like a series of cartoon pratfalls. My first proper blog, if you can call it that, was attached to my Elfwood account, after which I¬†progressed steadily¬†to fourms, private sites, and finally to actual blogging and collaborative platforms. I posted poetry, short stories, book and film reviews, and political opinions,¬†but though I got into plenty of arguments and even made a few friends, I doubt I had more than a dozen or so readers at any one time, and most of them were people I knew IRL. I was shouting into a void, but that was fine, because I’d never expected an audience: I just wanted to write, to get my thoughts out, and to put them somewhere that wasn’t a poorly-labelled Word document on a shared computer.

All through my teens, I kept it up. For a brief period during university, I even had my own paid website, called Wordwench, maintained and coded by my then-boyfriend. Though there were sometimes long hiatuses between posts, and despite the trail of abandoned sites and usernames I left behind me over the years, I always wrote, even when I didn’t know who I was writing for, or why, or whether anyone was listening. You can backdate my desire to be an author to the same year I discovered the internet, too; and maybe that’s significant, and maybe it’s not, but either way, even when I was too shy and paranoid to ever put my actual novel-attempts online, I kept writing them, kept blogging and arguing and posting opinions, because it never occurred to me not to. Aged sixteen, writing in response to a friend’s amazement at how much I wrote, I ended an otherwise wholly unmemorable poem with a single decent phrase:

“My words are a sonar, a path to be walked.

I write like a whale sings.”

And even though the sentiment now feels bombastic and self-aggrandising, at some base level, ¬†it still also feels true. I write as a form of self-navigation. I don’t know how not to write, how to just have thoughts unmediated by ink and script and keyboard. The older I get, the more I feel like a chimaerical creature, three-headed, trifurcated into distinct personalities – how I seem to strangers, how I seem to friends, how I see myself – whose only point of overlap is the part of me that writes; which is, perhaps,¬†the only real part. I so often feel dissonant within myself, but words are anchors, words are steel and sky and the blood that hammers me in place, the fire that keeps me functioning when all other sparks go out. When I have been depressed, sunk in dark trenches, lit only by small hopes as dimglowing and treacherous as anglerfish, it has always been three words, the same three words, that pull me out again: what happens next?¬†I thought it was a mantra I conjured in high school, words to sooth the moon from my eyes on endless insomniac nights, but years later, my mother told me I’d said the same thing in childhood, too, whenever a bedtime story ended. What happens next? my girlself asked, and perhaps that’s why she grew up to be a writer. How else could she find answers?

Because the truth is, stories never end; we just exit them a while, like passengers alighting a train with no final destination. There’s always a thing that happens next, and a thing after that, and a thing after that, most of them small, but a great many not; and these are the things we live for. And now, such a thing has happened to me: I’ve been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer, alongside four other people I immensely respect – Abigail Nussbaum, Liz Bourke, Kameron Hurley and Mark Oshiro – and even though there’s been controversy in other quarters, such that part of me feels I ought to discuss it, in truth, with everyone who’s already contributed, I don’t feel I can add much more to the discussion, and so you’re getting this instead: a rambling Once Upon A Time about a girl who was bitten by words, infecting her with liticism, which tragically has no cure but a life spent writing; and how, all these years later, I find myself with an audience, and a peer group, and a place in a community, and some small, tangible proof of the fact that enough of you like what I write here that you nominated me, and so – thank you.

That’s all I wanted to say, really. Thank you. It means a lot.

write. write. write.

Posted: December 3, 2013 in Ink & Feather
Tags: , , , , ,

 So often I have the words, but lack the time.

So often I have the time, but lack the words.

So often I have the strength, but lack the will.

So often I have the will, but lack the strength.


Words. Time. Strength. Will.

You need all four to write.


Like clock hands, they might align predictably, but rarely.

Like dice rolls, they might align often, but unpredictably.

Like connecting trains, they might align both often and predictably.

Like weather phenomena, they might align both rarely and unpredictably.


It doesn’t matter.

When you can, you write.


Write slow and sweet, like a lingering kiss.

Write bitter and fast, like a burning house.

Write bitter and slow, like a killing frost.

Write fast and sweet, like a shooting star.


Write with what’s in you.

Write with what isn’t.


Write like your words can mend the unmendable.

Write like your words can break the unbreakable.

Write like your words can build the unbuildable.

Write like your words can destroy the indestructible –


and one day, maybe,

they will.


Words are bombs, my darlings.

They explode our hearts

and whether they do it with fireworks or shrapnel

is up to you.

After many months of silence, I’m excited to finally announce the publication of Sincere Forms of Flattery¬†from O+S Press, an anthology of short stories inspired by some of our favourite writers. Each story is accompanied by a brief essay explaining the relationship between the contributor, their story and the author whose work inspired it. Inside, you’ll find my short story, Needs Must, and an essay about how Neil Gaiman’s Sandman¬†served as my introduction to urban fantasy, along with five other stories and essays, and some truly beautiful artwork:

Needs Must - SFOF illustration by Amandine Thomas (small)

Sincere Forms of Flattery is available on Kindle from both Amazon US and Amazon UK. Check it out!

Three days ago, the Speculative Fiction 2012 anthology was released. Edited by Justin Landon and Jared Shurin, it’s a collection of fifty fascinating SFFnal essays, reviews and blogrants that all appeared online last year, containing pieces from, among others, Kate Elliott, N. K. Jemisin, Aishwarya Subramanian, Abigail Nussbaum, Lavie Tidhar and Tansy Rayner Roberts. And also – to my absolute pride and astonishment – me.

This WordPress site isn’t my first ever blog. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been writing and ranting across various online platforms with varying degrees of skill and vitriol, but this was the first one to earn me a readership – or at least, a readership not consisting solely of schoolfriends, partners and family members. It’s also the first blog I ever wrote openly, under my own name, and therefore represents my first real attempt to take myself seriously as a writer. That was way back in May 2008, almost two years before I first became a published author, and if you’d asked me at the time how important my blogging would become to me, I never could’ve guessed the answer.

So, yeah: Speculative Fiction 2012. It’s an amazing collection of essays, and I’m honoured to be a part of it.

A poem inspired by this amazing tumblr of people reading on the subway.

underground books


hands more varied in colour than

the pages they turn pause,

spread into lectern-cradles for words


as open-edged as breath, whose authors span

cities, countries, centuries more

varied than the scintillant plumage of birds;


each face unguarded, caught engrossed

in worlds-that-are-worlds-that-are-not (that are nonetheless

temporarily more real than


the darkened tunnels their carriage crossed

before this; may each voyage bless

them ‚Äď eye, heart, ear & tongue) ‚Äď and


when they land, bookblinked & isolate

on concrete sands,

let them recede gently, like seafoam;


let them be slow to close the cover; let them be late

for work; let ink & stories stain our hands

like henna, honey, loam.

Guys, check out this gorgeous illustration by Amandine Thomas! It’s for my short story, Needs Must, which is set to appear in the forthcomingSincere Forms of Flattery anthology from O&S Publishing. You can also check out my author interview with them. Squee!