Stephen Moore’s ebooks are half price at Smashwords until 11 March!

For readers of my older-children/young-adult fantasies, I thought you might like to know that until 11th March you can buy my ebooks at Smashwords.com for half price!

These titles are included in the sale (just follow the links):
Tooth and Claw by Stephen Moore https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…
Skin and Bone by Stephen Moore https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…
Dead Edward by Stephen Moore https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…
The Brugan by Stephen Moore https://www.smashwords.com/books/view…

Happy reading!

Tooth and Claw by Stephen MooreSkin and Bone by Stephen MooreThe Brugan by Stephen MooreDead Edward by Stephen Moore

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When real life imitates fiction

Fay

Way back in 2006, in my book FAY, I wrote about a Town Council sending in bulldozers to clear a village’s garden allotments; with the intention of building on them, and in the process ending a traditional, cultural way of life that had spanned centuries. This was a fictional tale, but over the years I’d become increasingly aware of the continual urban development that had seen my home city gobbling up mile upon mile of green field sites as it relentlessly expanded. I had seen farmland, and livelihoods, disappear and former rural villages literally swallowed up by the urban sprawl, losing their historical identity and individual way of life. It’s a long, slow process, but it is relentless and continues to this day. Indeed, very close to where I live no less than three thousand houses are due to be built over the course of the next decade or so… on what is now green field and green belt sites.

To be fair, my home city is not the only villain here. It’s a story that is being played out in almost every developing town and city in the country, if not the world. And, of course, we do need more housing and more places of work for an ever expanding population… It is how this can be achieved sensibly, which is the point in question. There’s always more than one solution to a problem. Better use of brown field sites for example. And what about the estimated one million properties that currently stand empty in the UK… unused, unloved, often forgotten by their absentee owners?

Let me get back to FAY. What follows is a short extract. We see the scene through the eyes of a young lad called Thomas Dobson, as he comes upon the destruction of his own beloved garden allotments:

I’ll tell you, the allotments were ruined. I could have cried. They had always been such a magical place for us kids, a world of makeshift wooden hovels you could explore forever. Greenhouses built out of old front doors; some of them still with their number and knockers on them. Rooftops made out of corrugated iron, some out of carpet, or pieces of kitchen linoleum. Cack-handed brick chimney stacks, with tin funnels held in place with rusting coils of chicken wire, so the gardeners could light themselves fires and have brew-ups on freezing cold winter days. And each plot was quite different from their neighbour, so that together they looked to me like a giant’s patchwork quilt. Some, a blaze of colour as the summer flowers came into bloom. Some planted out with neat rows of green vegetables. Others were nothing more than patches of grey soil, where the earth had been turned over in preparation. A couple, knee-high with wind-driven weeds, where the gardeners had been too long absent.
Mind you, that didn’t matter now. Now, all the allotments looked exactly the same. All of them, smashed, ruined, obliterated. Bulldozed into mountainous heaps ready to be burned or carted away to the rubbish tips. There was a huge great brute of a machine, with caterpillar tracks and a massive shovel front, standing just where the first line of greenhouses should have been. There were deep furrows behind its tracks where it had cut heavily into the ground. Everything the machine had crossed was crushed beyond recognition and churned into mush.

And where, you may ask, does real life imitate fiction? Let me tell you. My home city has an historical Town Moor; land set aside, and in the guardianship of the Freemen of the city, that has very strict rules to its use and development. It is a sanctuary of green fields among the chaos of iron, steel, brick and concrete that is the modern city. Anyway, on one small part of the Town Moor there is a particular garden allotment (garden plots that have been there since the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign of World War Two) and if I take a bus to the city I go past them… What did I see only a few weeks past? Bulldozers and diggers among the allotments raising them to the ground, exactly as Thomas Dodson described the Oldburn allotments in FAY. You might imagine; my heart sank. I could not let the moment pass.

I did a little bit of digging around (forgive my pun) into the allotment demolition, and fortunately, on this occasion, I can give a little sigh of relief. Among other reasons, the City Council has explained that the demolition is taking place because of possible toxic wastes, notably asbestos, thought to be present in some of the temporary structures plot holders historically built on the site. The allotments will be fully re-established and improved upon for the use of the local community. And for that, I shout hoorah! If I shall also keep a very wary-eye…

Our world around us is always in a constant state of change. But let the changes we make be the right changes, and for the right reasons.


Fay Fay

This e-book edition of Fay is published by Crossroad Press and is available from all good e-book stores including:

Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com  Barnes and Noble  Kobo

Where can you buy the cheapest copy of Stephen Moore’s Graynelore?

The title of this blog might sound like blatant advertising. But judging by the number of questions I receive, the cost of books is a subject very close to the hearts of many readers. The most common being, Where can you buy the cheapest copy of GRAYNELORE? Closely followed by,Why does GRAYNELORE cost so much? And adversely; Why does GRAYNELORE cost so little? If the answer to these last two questions is, paradoxically, the same: GRAYNELORE comes in two editions, a paperback (which is relatively expensive) and an ebook (which is relatively cheap).
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When I first became a published author – that was twenty years ago, and before the advent of ebooks – the cost of a book was fixed by the publisher and printed on the back of the book. At that time, in the UK, there existed an industry-wide agreement, snappily entitled ‘The Minimum Terms Agreement’, whereby all book retailers were obliged to sell books at the price they were marked. So, if the price printed on the back of the book was £6.99 that’s the price everyone paid no matter which book retailer you bought it off. The ‘Minimum Terms Agreement’ was there to protect the income of the author, who typically received between 7.5% and 10% of the retail price. Sadly, the ‘Minimum Terms Agreement’ was revoked a long time ago, and the price of books has been left to market forces ever since. In effect meaning book retailers charging whatever they see fit… which is why the price of a book can vary so much between retailers. Incidentally, it’s also why we now see so many cut-price and three-for-two deals in many of our high-street stores, which I accept is great for the reader, but not so great for the author.

All that said, I’d better answer the question… Where can you buy the cheapest copy of Stephen Moore’s GRAYNELORE?

Well, in the UK, the RRP for the paperback is £13.99, while the ebook is currently just £5.24, which means, wherever you shop, the ebook is always going to be the cheapest option if you don’t mind which format you read. (In the US, the paperback currently retails at around $11.53 while the ebook is just $3.99.)

However, for those readers who prefer ‘real’ books the best deal I’ve found is in the UK, where the online retailer wordery.com is currently selling Graynelore in paperback for just £9.28 (including delivery).

So, there you have it. Of course, GRAYNELORE is available from all good book retailers, so if you’ve paid less, I’d love to know about it, and I’ll try to keep this blog updated.

I wish you all a happy Easter, and happy reading.

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Graynelore

Graynelore is published by HarperVoyager (paperback and ebook). Available from all good bookstores including:

Amazon.co.uk  HarperCollins  Barnes & Noble  Amazon.com

wordery.com

“Graynelore” Paperback Publication Day! (Stephen Moore gives a reading)

Digital StillCamera

I’m so very pleased to announce that today my fantasy novel GRAYNELORE is published in paperback! (HarperVoyager Publisher). I’ve been a children’s author for many years. Finally, here is my debut novel for all you grown-ups… in paperback!

As you may well know, the ebook of GRAYNELORE has been out for quite a while now, but I must admit, there’s nothing quite like holding a brand new paperback…

To celebrate the event I’ve recorded my first public reading from the novel. I hope you enjoy it:

 

 

How might I best describe GRAYNELORE?

GRAYNELORE is a brutal, lawless world, where a man’s only loyalty is to his grayne (his family). Murder, blackmail, theft and blood-feud are all part of daily life. Faerie tales are myths, strictly for the children. Why then does Rogrig Wishard – a hardened fighting-man – suddenly start hearing voices and seeing faeries for real? What makes him embark upon a seemingly ridiculous quest to restore a Faerie Isle to the world? Is he mad or simply faerie-touched…?

It’s a story of divided loyalty. It’s an epic fantasy, a blood-soaked mystery, a grown-up faerie tale. And, in its own twisted way, a kind of love story…

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Graynelore

Graynelore is published by HarperVoyager (paperback and ebook). Available from all good bookstores including:

Amazon.co.uk   HarperCollins   Barnes & Noble   Amazon.com

wordery.com

Sometimes it’s difficult to write, even for an author

What am I saying? Sometimes it’s difficult to write? I’m not talking about technique. I’m not talking about, so-called, writers block, or self doubt. We – authors – are full of self doubt! But we only have to look back at our own previous successes* to remind ourselves of our abilities. No, this is something else. The struggle of creativity itself, if you will. Let me explain…

At the moment I’m having problems; progress on my current project is very slow and thin, and I’m beginning to ask myself questions. Does the book I’m trying to write actually want to be written? More so; does it need to be written? Mind you, even as I type this, I can already strike out the second question. Need? Need is not the driver. Once my books are written they always seem to find their own natural place in the literary hierarchy. Sometimes, they may have something important to say. Sometimes they do not… and are written purely for the excitement and pleasure of the adventure.

So, if my problem is a basic creative struggle, what then is the solution? Sadly, there is no magic wand here. Only my gritty, dogged determination to keep at it: to make words; to turn those words into sentences; to keep turning those words into sentences until I reach the very end, no matter how difficult. Then, at least, I’ll know the answer to my first question. It’s either do that or give-up! And I don’t ever intend to give up.

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*My latest success…?

Graynelore

HarperVoyager

Amazon.co.uk   HarperCollins   Barnes & Noble   Amazon.com

wordery.com

The beginning of a book is a very important event

The beginning of a book is a very important event. How so? It’s the hook that pulls a reader into the story… or fails and loses them forever. The hook might be the first sentence; the first paragraph or page even. Occasionally, a little more… No matter. This is where a reader takes the bait or lets it go to search elsewhere.

Personally, I love the start of a new book. It’s exciting. The journey has just begun. Everything is still to come. So…where might a book of mine begin? What’s the action, the event, the moment in time that needs to be revealed first? In truth, no two books are the same. The example I’m going to give is my foreword for “Fay”. There could be no other beginning, it’s integral to the reading of the whole work… though it’s too great of a spoiler to explain why here…

The arc of a rising sun lifted above the clouds, broke free, bleaching the morning sky silver-white.
With it came a momentary breeze, turning the leaves of a tree, tossing them restlessly. A disturbed red squirrel skittered between its branches searching for a safe refuge among the new summer foliage. A pair of anxious blackbirds, nesting there, began a fierce argument and sprang noisily into the air.
While deep, deep within its boughs, another life, another far more ancient spirit stirred and wakened.
She began to stretch, reaching up, through trunk and branch, through twig and leaf, into every last corner of her beloved tree. She relished the slowly gathering warmth of the new day she discovered there.
However, just as the wind quickly stilled, just as the squirrel and the quarrelling birds came quickly to rest again, so too did she. And mindless of a world outside, she drew back deep within herself and gave in once more to an ageless, peaceful slumber.

This ethereal, languid other-worldly event either intrigues us, or it passes us by… The first words and first action of Chapter One is in deliberate contrast:

It began with an argument.
It happened just outside, on our front doorstep in Collingwood Terrace. It wasn’t long after they closed down the local Glassworks, the day the bulldozers moved in to flatten the Oldburn allotments. I thought all Hell was breaking loose. There was my mum, and there was my dad, and they were going at each other like a pair of wild tomcats. This was one of their real Bad Do’s…

Did I get it right? You decide. You’re either hooked, or you’re not…

 

Fay

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“The flame that gives the greatest light also casts the longest shadow.”

It’s one of those amazing experiences for an author, when one of your own book characters suddenly comes out with something uniquely profound. Perhaps even a universal truth? (I wish.)
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The title quotation comes from “Spilling the Magic”, a fantasy novel for older children. The words belong to a character called Idrik Sirk. In the amazingly strange world of Murn, where mountains float, dragons are vegetarian and pigs can fly, Idrik Sirk is a Spellbinder (a particular kind of wizard if you will). He’s also dead. He’s also a skeleton. His words come from a conversation he has with Billy and Mary – the book’s main characters – when they come blundering into his tomb. (I did tell you Murn was strange.)
A slightly longer version of his words read;
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“…The flame that gives the greatest light also casts the longest shadow. Look about you. Look! Light and dark. There’s never one without the other…”

Idrik Sirk is giving us a warning. At first glance, it appears to point directly at the nature of good and evil in a dangerous world. But take another look, there’s also something else. The flame that gives the greatest light also casts the longest shadow:

He is describing the inevitable consequence.

How often we see this in so many walks of life… If there is always a winner, there are ever so many more losers. If there is only one “best”, what does that make of all the second bests, but shadows? If we call one man “king”, what are we calling all other men? If all eyes look only upon the beauty in the room, all else goes unseen. (And that is our loss.)

Can there possibly be so much in one simple sentence? Perhaps I should just leave you to think it over…

Spilling the Magic by Stephen Moore

Suggested Readership: Older Children / Middle Grade

Music that has inspired my fantasy novel ‘Graynelore’ (2)

As a fantasy author, when it comes to my influences they are many and varied and are just as likely to come from art, music, or popular culture as they are to come from any literary or imagined source.
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I’ve already talked about the origins of my unifauns in Graynelore; how they are characters inspired by a lyric in a song by the rock band, Genesis. However there’s another song from another band that has haunted me over the years, ultimately becoming the inspiration for Dingly Dell, the homeland of Rogrig Wishard; the reiver, anti-hero and narrator of Graynelore.What was the band? Lindisfarne. What was the song? ‘Dingly Dell’ (of course). Written by singer/songwriter, Alan Hull, it’s the title track from Lindisfarne’s 1972 album of the same name.

Lindisfarne are famous for their enormous crowd-pleasing songs, with highlights that include; ‘Fog on the Tyne’, ‘Clear White light’, ‘Meet Me on the Corner’, ‘Lady Eleanor’ and the like. Their musical sound is an interesting brew; a kind of folk-rock, just occasionally, edging towards progressive rock. If neither label truly does them justice. Alan Hull is one of my favourite songwriters: his thoughtful, poignant, ‘Winter Song’ being my most favourite of all.

Among Lindisfarne’s many songs then, sits ‘Dingly Dell’. When I first heard it, back in 1972, it truly cast a spell upon me. With a spare, musically sparse verse, that is both haunting and lyrical, it finally lifts and broadens out into a truly magical chorus line… Only to end again with pathos, and an almost fey-like organic silence. It’s a beautiful, mesmerising song, both for its music and its lyrics. If I could choose a theme tune from this period of music to go along with Graynelore, this would be it.

The air of haunting beauty, the feeling of almost spiritual loss, the fey, other-worldly nature – the very magic – says it all for me. So, there we have it. And that is why you’ll find Dingly Dell in Graynelore.

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Graynelore

GRAYNELORE, published by HarperVoyager. Available from:

Amazon.co.uk   HarperCollins   Barnes & Noble   Amazon.com   wordery.com

Music that has inspired my fantasy novel ‘Graynelore’ (1)

“Can you tell me where my country lies?” said the unifaun to his true love’s eyes.”

These enigmatic lyrics are the first line from the song, ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’, a track on the 1971 Genesis album ‘Selling England by the Pound’. (A personal favourite of mine, it has accompanied me for most of my adult life.)

My influences, as a fantasy author, are many and varied, and are just as likely to come from art, music, or popular culture as they are to come from any literary or imagined source. This particular song lyric has always intrigued me. Images of folklore and faerie abound in the early prog-rock music of bands such as Genesis. But what on earth is a unifaun and where did it come from? As far as I’m aware there is no unifaun in any existing story or traditional folk tale. I have always assumed that the lyricist (Peter Gabriel) was simply playing with words, and brought together, unicorn and faun to create a new word of his own making: unifaun. It’s a wonderful creation which has stayed with me ever since I first heard the song. As a fantasy author, I have been waiting for the day when I might include a unifaun in one of my fantasy worlds, and that is why you will find unifauns in GRAYNELORE…

In fact, two of my most favourite characters in GRAYNELORE are my unifauns; Sunfast and Fortuna. They are glorious fey creatures, who, in human form, are sensual beauties in the extreme. Instinctively a pair, in their natural state they have cloven hooves, a main of finely braided goat’s hair, and a single golden horn. Their story – not to give too much away – is poignant, and essential to the central plot of the book.

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Graynelore

GRAYNELORE, published by HarperVoyager. Available from:

Amazon.co.uk   HarperCollins   Barnes & Noble   Amazon.com   wordery.com

Who were the real Border Reivers?

In my fantasy novel GRAYNELORE I took the historical world of Sixteenth Century Border Reivers, twisted it to my own ends and used my fictional version as the background to my tale. Subsequently many readers have asked me to tell them something more about the real Border Reivers. So:
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In the Borderlands that lie between Scotland and England there are many families who can still claim direct ties to the original Border Reivers. Surnames such as Charlton, Armstrong, Elliot, Graham, Fenwick, Robson, Bell, Kerr (my own link), Milburn, Forster, Douglass, Riddel… oh the list goes on and on! (So please forgive me if I haven’t included yours in my example.) These were family groups who lived in the region, roughly between the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (historically unsettled times in Great Britain). Their allegiance was first and foremost to their families and their surname, rather than to their kings or countries. And their lifestyle was one of constant raiding and blood feud. In essence, theft, kidnap, blackmail, pillage and murder were all considered just part of their daily lives. Their strongholds were Castles, for the rich few, Peel Towers, fortified tower houses [see above] and Bastle Houses, simple fortified farmhouses [see below] many of which can still be seen today.
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How had this strange state of affairs come about?

In late Medieval Britain a big political power struggle was played out between the Crowns of England and Scotland. The issue of sovereignty finally coming to a head in the Sixteenth Century with the dispute between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. In a sense, while the Crowns were embroiled upon their endless bloody conflicts it suited both sides to have the borderlands of their kingdoms in a state of constant lawlessness. The area was a kind of buffer zone or no-man’s-land that made government, by either side, extremely difficult.

Politically the Borders were divided into Marches and there were Wardens who were meant to keep the law, but it was an obvious breeding ground for trouble. When their world around them was constantly at war and their lives an endless struggle, who could blame the Reivers for trying to get by the only way they knew how? The Reivers preferred to settle their own disputes and lived out their lives by their own bloody rules.

What became of the Border Reivers?

In truth, the Border Reivers were not a major part of political history (one reason so few of us have ever heard of them). Rather, theirs was the largely unwritten history of ordinary men; a fate, sadly, I fear most of us are condemned to. When the Crowns of England and Scotland were finally unified after the death of Elizabeth I, having a lawless borderland no longer suited the politicians… During the course of the Seventeenth Century many of the Reiver families were effectively neutralised. By rule of law, death sentences, deportations; and that old political trick whereby some of the more influential families became a part of the ruling political establishment.

But theirs is an important story. It’s part of my family history and maybe yours too? There are many reminders of the Reivers. On the ground, you can still find good examples of their stone Peel Towers and Bastle Houses. While the list of Reiver family names goes on and on… and can be found worldwide! Then there are the words they popularised in our dictionaries: notably, blackmail and bereavement! Oh, and let’s not forget their unbridled, if sometimes misguided, freedom of spirit!

Hadrian's Wall

Where can you find out more about the Border Reivers?

Let me say emphatically, I am not a historian. I’m a writer of fantasy fiction. Mine is only a personal reflection on how I see the Border Reivers! If you want to know more about them, why not visit the borderlands of England and Scotland for yourself, with their museums and amazing historical sites? [see above] For further reading I recommend two books: my favourite, The Border Reivers by Godfrey Watson and The Reivers by Alistair Moffat. Oh, and let’s not forget the amazing Reiver tales to be found in the original Border Ballads, famously collected by Sir Walter Scott.

Graynelore by Stephen MooreThe Border Reivers by Godfrey WatsonThe Reivers The Story of the Border Reivers by Alistair MoffatThe Complete Poetry of Sir Walter Scott The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, The Lady of the Lake, Translations and Imitations from German Ballads, ... Harold the Dauntless, The Wild Huntsman... by Walter Scott

Where did the Idea for “Graynelore” come from?

Graynelore is a brutal, lawless world, where a man’s only loyalty is to his grayne (his family). Faerie tales are myths strictly for the children! Why then does a hardened fighting-man, who likes to solve his problems with his sword, suddenly start hearing voices and seeing faeries for real…?
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I’ve just dipped your toes into the world of my fantasy novel Graynelore. But where, exactly, did I find the idea?A few years ago I had a most revealing conversation with my mother about her family roots. I discovered, to my amazement, that my ancestors include infamous 16th Century Border Reivers.

Who? The Border Reivers were inhabitants of the English/Scottish Borderlands; family groups who considered theft, kidnap, blackmail, murder and deadly blood-feud as all part of their day job. While the crown heads of England and Scotland were engaged in endless bloody conflict over sovereignty that reduced the borders to a virtual no-man’s-land, ordinary folk were effectively left to get by as best they could. And if that meant turning up on your neighbour’s doorstep and beating the hell out of them to take whatever little they possessed (up to and including their lives) then so be it! Reiving, as it became known, was a way of life for close on three hundred years.

What’s my connection to the Reivers? Well, my mother’s family name is Kerr, and they originally hailed from the Scottish Borders. Let’s be blunt. The Kerrs were notorious Reivers back in the day! With blood-feud a speciality! If one fact about them tickles me: unusually, the Kerrs were left-handed. It meant they fought with their swords left handed and built their defensive tower houses with left-handed spirals to their staircases. It just so happens I’m also left handed. I like to think it’s in the blood.

You’ll not be surprised. I was instantly intrigued by my infamous ancestors. What author worth their salt would not want to write about them? And so, the idea was born…! I only had to find the right story to tell.

I took the historical world of the Border Reivers; their way of life, their society, their homes, their landscape, their goods and their chattels. In true Reiver fashion I stole it all, misused and abused it and made it my own. I like to think of it as twisting history. (And, with my own family links, I’m just a little bit proud of that.)

However, there was an issue to overcome: I’m an author of fantasy, not historical fiction. To satisfy the writer-within-me I had to combine the two; fantasy with my own version of Reiver society the bedrock to stand it upon.

Where did my fantasy storyline find its birth? I’ll tell you. One hot summer’s day I was sitting in a beautiful garden overlooking the Welsh coast. In the middle distance, out upon the sea, I could see the Isle of Lundy. There were warm currents of air rising off the sea, twisting and turning, and as is the way on hot summer days, they slowly obscured the scene, until at last Lundy Isle disappeared. There was only the sea, and the endless blue sky. Of course, it was a simple trick of the eye. But in that moment I knew I’d found the idea I was searching for. This wasn’t Lundy Isle at all, but the Faerie Isle. Sometimes there, sometimes not, ever moving…

And so began a long and winding journey of research and creative adventure that ultimately lead me down the path to my novel, Graynelore.

Mind you, at the outset I had to make one further inspired leap of faith. You see, up until this point, all of my books had been written for older children (and I’ve been writing for almost twenty years!) However, I knew that if I was going to write authentically about Reivers, the story might well be a faerie tale, but it could not possibly be for children. A Reiver’s world is naturally brutal, sometimes cruel, and often graphically blunt. Graynelore had to be my first novel strictly for grown-ups. And so it is.

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Graynelore

GRAYNELORE, published by HarperVoyager (paperback and ebook):

Amazon.co.uk   HarperCollins   Barnes & Noble   Amazon.com   wordery.com

“Graynelore” Publication Day!

Graynelore largeI’m excited and extremely pleased to announce that today is publication day for my fantasy novel GRAYNELORE (Publisher: HarperVoyager). I’ve been a children’s author for many years. Finally, here is my debut novel for all you grown-ups!

 GRAYNELORE is a brutal, lawless world, where a man’s only loyalty is to his grayne (his family). Murder, blackmail, theft and blood-feud are all part of daily life. Faerie tales are myths, strictly for the children. Why then is Rogrig Wishard – a hardened fighting-man who solves his problems with his sword – suddenly hearing voices and seeing faeries for real? What makes him embark upon a seemingly ridiculous quest to restore a Faerie Isle to the world? Is he mad or simply faerie-touched?

If he’s going to make any sense of it he’s going to have to go right to the source – the faeries themselves. But that’s easier said than done when the only information he has to go on is from bards and myth.

How might I best describe GRAYNELORE?

It’s a story of divided loyalty. An epic fantasy. A blood-soaked mystery. A grown-up faerie tale. And, in its own twisted way, a kind of love story…


Graynelore large

GRAYNELORE, published by HarperVoyager (paperback and ebook).

Suggested Readership: Grown-ups

Amazon.co.uk   HarperCollins   Barnes & Noble   Amazon.com   wordery.com