Hear an exclusive reading from The Ghost of Ivy Barn on my BBC Radio Kent interview with Dominic King…

I was delighted to pop on the Dominic King show on BBC Radio Kent last night. I read an exclusive bit from The Ghost of Ivy Barn and discussed how the magic ritual featured in the book is based on one that actually happened.

Click here for the show and skip forward to 2 hours 15 minutes for my bit.

Just two weeks to go till The Ghost of Ivy Barn is published! Have you got yours on order? There are links here.

https://witchesofwoodville.com/#ghostofivybarn

More Witches of Woodville books signed by Simon & Schuster…

Here’s a bit of good news from the folk at Bookbrunch (I’ve popped the full text below if you don’t have a subscription)…

Bethan Jones, senior commissioning editor at Simon & Schuster, has signed two further novels in Mark Stay’s Witches of Woodville series, billed as appealing to fans of Lev Grossman, Alan Garner and Terry Pratchett. S&S has UK & Commonwealth rights through Ed Wilson at Johnson & Alcock.

The series is set during the Second World War, as Faye Bright learns to use her powers to defend Woodville from demonic forces.

Jones said: “Editing these books over lockdown really helped to save my sanity! They are pure escapist joy, charming, nostalgic and absolutely compelling. I have fallen in love with Faye Bright and Woodville, and I am in awe of Mark’s incredible imagination and his ability to create such exceptional stories. I’m so pleased and excited that we will be seeing much more from these characters, and I cannot wait to see where Mark takes Faye next.”

Stay said: “I can’t tell you how much it means that I get to return to Woodville for more adventures. These books are my happy place, and the faith that Bethan and all the team at Simon & Schuster have shown in them over lockdown has been inspiring. Here’s to many more.”

Wilson said: “Mark has created the perfect feelgood series – witty, charming, and tailor-made for Sunday afternoon TV. It’s Buffy meets the Famous Five in WW2 Kent. Faye and her trusty bicycle against the forces of the occult, with hapless villagers getting in the way. Ginger beer at the ready! We hope the series runs right through till VE Day.”

Stay worked in the book business for 25 years, and is the author behind the forthcoming Warner Bros horror movie Unwelcome. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast.

Heyne has begun publishing the Witches of Woodville series in Germany, and rights have gone in several other territories.

Amazing Crow Folk Art from Harry Goldhawk…

If you’ve read my Witches of Woodville books, you’ll have no doubt been blown away by the incredible cover art by Harry Goldhawk. Indeed, in my recent reader survey, the love for Harry’s work was overwhelming.

So you can imagine how delighted I was when Harry sent me two illustrations he’s done of the Crow Folk and Faye. Just take a moment to enjoy these, please…

The Crow Folk. Art by Harry Goldhawk.

Faye Bright. “Hello, Mum.” Art by Harry Goldhawk

If you want to check out more of Harry’s amazing work, pop over to Papio Press here.

Crikey, just two months till THE GHOST OF IVY BARN is published…

I know, I’m just as stunned as you are. The third of the Witches of Woodville books arrives on 7th July 2022, and we’re having a special launch party at Waterstones, Canterbury and you’re all invited. There will be cake, real witches and wizards, free wine and did I mention the cake? Tickets are a fiver, but that comes off the RRP of any books you buy on the night, so that’s a pretty good deal. You can grab tickets here.

The proof cover arrived this week and… Well, I know I’m biased, but it’s a thing of beauty. Harry Goldhawk‘s artwork is as spectacular as ever, and there are some lovely quotes and possibly the first blurb to ever use the phrase, “The ritual must be executed in the nuddy.”

The book will be available as a paperback, eBook and audiobook read by Candida Gubbins. You can pre-order them all right now, and there are some handy links here if you need them.

I’m also running a reader survey. I’d like to know more about my lovely readers, including what they like/dislike about the books, the other stuff they read, and what sort of Woodville merch/swag they might like. If you’ve read the books, do please complete the survey. It’s all GDPR-compliant, so your personal data will be safe, and you can be entered into a draw to win one of five 100g bars Ghost of Ivy Barn-branded milk chocolate (see below).

You can complete the survey here. To ensure that you’re entered into the draw, the survey needs to be completed by 1700 BST on 15th May 2022.

The terms and conditions for the giveaway are here.

And my privacy policy which ensures the safety of your data is here.

I’m having a Book Launch… and you’re all invited

You are cordially invited to the launch of my next Witches of Woodville book THE GHOST OF IVY BARN on Thursday 7th July, 2022 at Waterstones, Canterbury…

Yes, it’s a little way off, but best to get these things in your diary, I say. Especially as this is a real world, in-person event! (Covid and other disasters permitting). It costs a fiver, but you save that money if you purchase the book on the night, and I promise to sign them all.

There will also be free refreshments including wine, soft drinks and cake (while stocks last, of course).

I’ll be joined by Kentish author of high regard, Mr Kit Cox, who will emcee the evening. And there will be magical folk in costume, which will allow for many opportunities to do things on the Instagram, TiketyTok and the like. 

To ensure your place at the launch, simply visit those splendid people at Waterstones by clicking here.

A Brand New Witches of Woodville Story… Sort of…

Here’s a little treat for the weekend. A new Witches of Woodville story that’s completely free for my wonderful newsletter subscribers…

Cover design by Andrew Bowden

Caesar on Watling Street is set over 2000 years before the events chronicled in the Witches of Woodville. 

The cover art was designed by the wonderful Mr Andrew Bowden, and it was edited with infinite patience by Mr Julian Barr and the MP3 audiobook features music by Dominic Currie.

Here’s the description thingy…

KENT, 54 BC

Britain has fallen. The merciless legions of Julius Caesar will soon dominate every kingdom. Magical seer Múnteoir is tasked with negotiating peace. Yet Múnteoir’s ability to sense the truth about a person is fading, and with it her life. Abandoned by the voices of her ancestors, she must stand against an empire and unlock a power greater than any than she has ever known. If Múnteoir fails, everything she loves will perish.

The more eagle-eyed readers will notice that this story is not set in Woodville and doesn’t feature any of the witches from the novels, but… it teases a key location for the forthcoming novel The Ghost of Ivy Barn, so when you eventually come to that part in the novel you can be all smug and brag that you knew about it before everyone else. Quite who you’ll be bragging to, I’m not sure. Perhaps one can go on the Tik Toks and boast about one’s literary credibility? 

Regardless, this story is available to you for free for your Kindle, phone, tablet, and as an MP3 audiobook (read by me with some questionable accents).

Sign up to the Woodville Village Library Newsletter here.

Everyday Kindness Audiobook is OUT NOW

The audiobook edition of LJ Ross‘s anthology EVERYDAY KINDNESS is out today! All proceeds go to Shelter, so go grab your copy here now!

There are over 50 stories by incredible authors and read by amazing narrators, and for some reason I massively lucked out and got Julie Walters (yes! Dame Julie Walters!) reading my Witches of Woodville story Two Chickens for Laura Longarms…

I’ve just sat and listened to it and it was something of an out-of-body experience to hear such a familiar voice read my words. It’s a brilliant reading and I think this up-and-coming actor has a great future ahead of her…

A huge thank you to Julie and LJ Ross and her team, to the editor of the story Julian Barr and to everyone who downloads a copy.

Which of you lovely people would like a free signed bookplate?

I have splendid news. After some considerable cajoling, I have persuaded local author Mark Stay to pop down to the village printers and order some bookplates (*what’s a bookplate? Please see below). And not only that, he’s agreed to give 50 away in a draw. You could be in with a chance of getting one if you pre-order The Ghost of Ivy Barn in the month of February 2022! I’ve also convinced him to extend this offer to anyone who asks their local library to get the book in, too… though quite what they can do with a signed bookplate when they have to eventually return the book to the library is a mystery. Mr Stay suggested they slap it on their forehead as a sign of their devotion.

So how does one obtain one of these bookplates?

  • Pre-order The Ghost of Ivy Barn in paperback, eBook or audiobook from any UK retailer (there’s a list here). Or pop along to your local library and ask them to order a copy.
  • You should receive some form of proof-of-purchase.
  • Email the proof-of-purchase to me at minty@witchesofwoodville.com
  • Also — and this is important! — please complete this form. It allows me to keep track of everyone who has pre-ordered the book. If one is not on the form, one will not be entered into the draw.
  • All pre-orders must be made before midnight on Monday 28th February 2022.
  • We will then draw 50 names at random and send them their signed/dedicated bookplates.

I do hope that’s clear. If there’s any confusion do please email me: minty@witchesofwoodville.com 
Full terms and conditions are here.

Oh, and one bit of pertinent news. The publication date of The Ghost of Ivy Barn has pootled along and is now 7th July 2022. I’ve asked Mr Stay why and he said something about “paper shortages, chaos in publishing and bookselling and HGV drivers!” before ranting that he “delivered the bloody thing on time, and it’s not my fault!” We sincerely hope that doesn’t cause you too much distress.

WHAT’S A BOOKPLATE?

It’s a small sticky label that the author signs so that you can put in the front of your book and pretend you met them and bask in their reflected glory.

Here is the current design for the new bookplate (you’ll just have to imagine Mr Stay’s scrawl in the middle there)…

Prompety Prompt and my 200-word Story…

I was delighted to be asked to be a guest on the wonderful Prompety Prompt podcast… then I realised I had to write a 200-word story based on the prompt “The Tear in her Dress”, and then write live against the clock! It was the single most terrifying writing experience of my career… and a ton of fun. Dave (Stephen) and Letty are brilliant hosts, and I was able to share my terror with fellow writer and splendid fellow Ian W Sainsbury. You can listen to the whole podcast here and on all the usual pod-dispensers. And here’s my 200-word story, which came to me at four in the morning on the day of the recording, and was inspired by a dinosaur dress that my daughter wears…

Here’s the story text…

Luna wasn’t going to the school prom. Mum and Dad wouldn’t allow it. They’d gone all funny after she got her first period this week. She thought they’d be happy — she was the last in her year to get it — but it triggered whispered conversations behind closed doors.

Luna bought a dress for the prom. It had a dinosaur pattern and practical pockets. She loved it and she was going. She clambered out of her bedroom window while Mum and Dad argued downstairs.

Prom was a disaster. They laughed at her dress with the dinosaurs and the pockets. They laughed at her glasses and braces. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Stephanie Leigh was the first to notice the tear in Luna’s dress. It happened as the clouds parted, revealing a full moon through the school hall windows. They stopped laughing after that. They screamed instead. Screamed as Luna grew a snout. Screamed as her braces pinged off her fangs. Screamed as she bit down on Stephanie Leigh’s throat. Screamed as she feasted on their intestines.

Mum and Dad arrived soon after. Both lycanthropes. They consoled their pup, then went hunting rabbits and worrying sheep.

Luna had a ball.

FAVERSHAM LITERARY FESTIVAL — SATURDAY 19TH FEBRUARY, 4PM

Come and see me chatting with the very splendid FM Dixon at the Faversham Literary Festival on Saturday 19th February at 4pm!

Time travel, magic, witches… and happy families! Join Kent authors Mark Stay and FM Dixon as they exchange ideas, antics and themes that run through their fiction written for teens and young adults… and for all the family!

Mark Stay lives in Herne Bay and is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast. He is the author of the Crow Folk series, Robot Overlords, Back to Reality and The End of Magic. F.M. Dixon works at University of Kent, and can be found with surprising regularity in London, Paris and New York, assuming you know where to look… and when.

Free event. Booking required. GET YOUR FREE TICKETS HERE.