Can You Spot the Ghost in my Unboxing Video…?

Here’s my unboxing video for The Ghost of Ivy Barn! It didn’t quite go to plan… but can you spot the ghost? He appears four times…

CREDITS

Camera and Edit: Kai Newton

Music: Dominic Currie

Sound: Emily Stay

Production Assistant: Harry Gibson

The Ghost: George Stay

Special thanks to Stewart Tophill at Keel Farm for the use of the barn

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.

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)…

“Two Chickens for Laura Longarms” will be read by Julie Walters!

In a bit of news that left me genuinely gobsmacked, I learned that the story I wrote for LJ Ross’s wonderful anthology Everyday Kindness will be read on the audiobook version by none other than Julie Walters! Or to give Julie her full honorific title: Dame Julie Blimmin’ Walters!

Her Most Royal Dameness, Julie of Walters.

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.

Talking Scary Things with the Talking Scared Podcast

I had a great time chatting with Neil McRobert of the Talking Scared Podcast about how my writing has been influenced by a warped childhood of Bagpuss, Camberwick Green, Chorlton and the Wheelies, Dennis Potter and more. You can listen on all the usual podcast providers here.

ICYMI: The Babes in the Wood Launch Party

If you missed the launch party for Babes in the Wood on Thursday you can watch the whole thing again right here.

Me and the wonderful Mr Caimh McDonnell dig into the new book, I also talk about the trailer for Unwelcome in a bit more detail, I announce the winners of the book/choc giveaway (and announce a whole new giveaway), and I drop far too many hints about the third Woodville novel