Recent Roundup

A few weeks ago I went to Glen Coe with Elizabeth May, who took this gorgeous photo:


It was so warm I was wearing shorts, which RARELY happens in Scotland!

Last weekend I was in London to celebrate the launch of Kim Curran’s Control and Bryony Pearce’s The Weight of Souls. There’s a great summary of the launch party on the Strange Chemistry website.

The rest of the weekend was lazily hanging around with Kim. We went to see Now You See Me, which we thought was brilliant good fun. A heist movie with stage magic? It’s like it was made for us. But don’t watch the trailers for it, as they’re a little spoilery.


Also, on the way back from Gatwick, I saw Pantomime in the North Terminal! That was amazingly exciting, especially as they had 11 copies!



The cover image for Shadowplay is done, so hopefully it’ll be able to be unveiled soon! All I can say about it now is that I’m really pleased with it and Tom Bagshaw is so talented. If you’re a blogger and would like to be involved in a cover reveal when it goes live, feel free to drop me a line via the Contact page with the subject “Cover Reveal.”

Over on Bookshelves of Doom, I talk about 10 books that shaped Pantomime.

Over on Shadowhawk’s Shade, I have a guest post called the Nature of Names, where I discuss how I choose names for my characters, often based on name meanings.

I got my first review in a language other than English! It’s in French, which I studied for six years, so I was quite proud I could puzzle most of it out, and it’s a lovely wee review.

To Those Saying The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith Tanked: Please Stop.

The news broke over the weekend and so this is breaking to no one: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith was really written by none other than J.K. Rowling. She punked the publishing industry, and everyone’s talking about it. It’s been picked up by most news outlets, and overnight it hit number 1 on Amazon and its sales went up 158,000%.

I’ve seen several people/sources expressing shock and horror that only 1500 copies were shipped from the warehouse and of those 1500 hardbacks, only 400odd had sold (and maybe 1000 ebooks, though I don’t think any of these numbers are substantiated, either–the 400odd number probably came from Nielsen bookscan, and those numbers can be pretty off). But this was in the UK only. In 3 months. On an unknown debut. In a saturated market. In a recession. That’s not tanking. It’s healthy.

The Cuckoo’s Calling had a normal publishing experience. Not a lot of fanfare, not in every bookstore window, no big blog tour, no events (she couldn’t very well show up, could she? Though that would have been SO fun if she did waltz out at a low-key launch somewhere). Now the book quite obviously doesn’t have a normal experience, because it was written by a woman richer than the Queen of England, writer of a book series pretty much everyone knows. This shows several things:

1. Good books stand on their own. Robert Galbraith’s career wasn’t over. “He’d” probably sold enough for them to continue with the series, but they’d have decided more based on the paperback sales, if this hadn’t come to light. We’ll never know what the paperback sales would have been, now.

2. Word of mouth usually takes longer than 3 months. I personally wish it had stayed under wraps longer, to see what the paperback sales would have been, if momentum would have grown with each book in the series. That’s what happened with Harry Potter–it wasn’t until the 3rd book that it hit the stratosphere. How amazing would it have been for Rowling to do it not once, but twice? Things take time. Da Vinci Code was Dan Brown’s 4th book. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was Laini Taylor’s 3rd, I think.

3. Unless very heavily marketed, it’s hard for people to take a chance on debuts. Or to find out about debuts. Even very good books–and The Cuckoo’s Calling had awesome blurbs and great reviews. 1 star reviews on Amazon only appeared after the news broke. People like to reach for books where they know what they’re going to get. I know I’m like that. If I’m lazy and know I want to read something I’ll enjoy, I grab one of the Margaret Atwood books I haven’t read yet.

So please don’t say it tanked. It didn’t, and now it’s doing phenomenally. Which is great. I’m sure I’ll read it. The Cuckoo’s Calling performed like many books in those 3 months. It performed better than many books.

There’s speculation that this was a planned stunt–that the news broke in a timely manner before the paperback release. That may be, but that still doesn’t stop the fact that it seems like the secret was kept pretty well, at least for a few months.

I hope J.K. Rowling does this again with more pseudonyms. She seemed to enjoy not having the expectation–I can’t imagine how scary it must have been launching The Casual Vacancy, as such a successful author. Plus it’d be fun–which debut next year could secretly have been written by her?

So maybe pick up a debut, and don’t do so because it might secretly have been written by J.K. Rowling (unlikely she’s doing it twice this year, after all!). Do it because if debut authors are well-supported, maybe they’ll have chances to put out more books, some of which might become your next favourites.


My short essay The Grey of Gender: Intersex and Gender Variant/Non-Binary Characters in YA, which originally appeared on GayYA, was reblogged on the DiversityinYA tumblr.

Jo Stapley at Once Upon a Bookcase had a Pantomime-themed day for her LGBTQ YA Month, which you should all check out. She had an in-depth review (some spoilers, but she also wrote a spoiler-free review a few months ago), and an interview from me.

There was a really lovely review from Ingrid at the Magpie Librarian which I can’t help but share.

If you’re near Inverness on August 6th, I’ll be appearing at the Inverness Book Festival.

Ten Snaps: Barcelona

I love to travel and to share photos, but on the blog I figure I shouldn’t inundate you with all 300odd photos we took on our trip away. So here are ten shots I think best summarise my long weekend of sun in Spain.

Sagrada Familia
So much food
Interesting graffiti
Small streets
Many museums
Barcelona from the top of Park Güell
From our hotel balcony we could see and hear the live music being played on the roof of La Pedrera


Dali Museum in Figueres
Dali Museum



Books Read in June


1. The Madman’s Daughter – Megan Shepherd. A retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau. I found the love triangle a little tiring but otherwise really enjoyed the creepy atmosphere and will definitely read the sequel.

2. The Witch’s Betrayal – Cassandra Rose Clarke. This is a short story set before the events of The Assassin’s Curse. An enjoyable little read.

3. The World Wreckers – Marion Zimmer Bradley. This book was okay. I enjoyed the gender exploration but wasn’t particularly drawn to the plot.

4. Abomination – Robert Swindells. An excellent MG tale about bullying, parents in a cult, and friendship. Can’t recommend it enough.

5. Highland Folk Ways – I.F. Grant. Book research.

6. Lost and Found – Tom Winter. Another Team Mushens author. Very well-written, with a wry wit and loving characterization of Alfred and Carol.

7. Poltergeist over Scotland – Geoff Holder. Book research.

8. Ghoul Britannia – Andrew Martin. Book research.