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.”
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.
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.
Here’s a little treat for the weekend. A new Witches of Woodville story that’s completely free for my wonderful newsletter subscribers…
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 Barrand 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).
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…
An exciting missive from Miss Araminta Cranberry — Head Librarian, Woodville Village Library. (First featured on the Woodville newsletter – Subscribe here).
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.
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)…
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.
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.
I have a wee bit of history with Julie. I worked at Orion when we published her autobiography and novel (both of which are terrific) and I ran a quiz at the Orion Sales Conference when she was there in 2004 (I think), along with the likes of Michael Palin. All I had to do was run a fun quiz in front of my childhood heroes. Simple. Only… it went on a bit too long. This was in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne. Hundreds of authors and Orion staff, all fed and restless and ready to rush to the bar and get drunk (as was the tradition at sales conferences)… and we were into the second hour of the quiz and there were still a couple of rounds to go. I lifted a card to read the next question, took a breath. “How long…” I began, and a familiar voice came from the darkness, “Not as long as this bloody quiz!” Yup. Julie Walters heckled me, and got the biggest laugh of the whole conference and I still rank it as one of my best moments on stage. So to hear that she is reading my story for the audiobook feels strangely serendipitous.
Two Chickens for Laura Longarms is a Woodville story about kindness and sacrifice and has a fun monster. The Everyday Kindness anthology features over 50 amazing stories, and the audiobook also features the likes of Richard Armitage, Katie Leung, Celia Imrie and many more! You can pre-order it from Audible here.
Author, scriptwriter, podcaster & more…Mark Stay gives us the lowdown on his year and plans for 2022, plus some music, film & book recommendations…
The highs & lows of 2021… The highs… Going back to the movies has been great (even if we’re often the only people in the cinema wearing masks). We kicked it off by seeing the Lord of the Rings trilogy on the big screen, which our kids had never experienced before. Just magical. Also managed to write more this year than any other. A couple of books, a few short stories, and a bunch of screenplays, and there’s also a TV thing happening that I can’t talk about. It’s been a productive year. I prefer to keep my head down and write rather than wail on social media these days. That’s where the lows are.
Read any good books lately… The audiobook of Rutger Bregman’s…
I was delighted to be asked by Louise to contribute, and my story TWO CHICKENS FOR LAURA LONG ARMS is a Witches of Woodville tale where Faye Bright discovers that a little kindness can go a very long way. The story was edited by Julian Barr before I submitted it to the anthology and as always it was vasty improved by his input.