Tag Archives: andy frankham-allen

Lethbridge-Stewart: The Schizoid Earth details revealed!

It’s with great pleasure we can finally unveil the cover for the next book in the Lethbridge-Stewart series; The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee…

Candy_Jar_The_Schizoid_Earth_Small

 

“Lethbridge-Stewart was supposed to be in the mountains of the east. Things didn’t quite go according to plan.

On the eve of war, something appeared in the sky; a presence that blotted out the moon. Now it has returned, and no battle plan can survive first contact with this enemy.

Plagued by nightmares of being trapped in a past that never happened, Lethbridge-Stewart must unravel the mystery of a man ten years out of his time; a man who cannot possibly still exist.

Why do the ghosts of fallen soldiers still fight long-forgotten battles against living men? What is the secret of the rural English town of Deepdene? Lethbridge-Stewart has good reason to doubt his own sanity, but is he suffering illness or injury, or is something more sinister going on?”

David A McIntee has written novels for Star Trek, Final Destination and Space: 1999 and over fifteen books and audio dramas for Doctor Who since 1993, including the Brigadier-centric novel, The Face of the Enemy. David said: “To be honest it (the series) is something I’m amazed hasn’t been done before – it’s just such a natural and obvious thing. The form it’s taking is also cool because it has the flexibility to move between styles and genres – thriller, SF, horror, etc – while maintaining a definite identity. As for the Brig himself, he’s one of those characters where the casting was so perfect that it just made the character so memorable, and who (usually) feels so right.”

The cover art is by Nathan Hudson, who works for Cosgrove Hall as a background artist. Cosgrove Hall is the animation company who produced the animated episodes for the DVD release of the 1969 Doctor Who adventure The Invasion, which featured Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the first appearance of UNIT. Nathan has worked previously with Candy Jar Books as the cover artist for the runaway time travel hit Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You and the acclaimed See You in September.

The Schizoid Earth also features an exclusive foreword written by Amanda Haisman, daughter of Lethbridge-Stewart creator Mervyn Haisman, in which she publicly talks about her father and the legend he created for Doctor Who.

The next in the series (due out in September) is Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen and Terrance Dicks, followed by Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.

Andy Frankham-Allen has been a Doctor Who fan since his childhood. Andy is the former line editor of Untreed Reads Publishing’s series Space: 1889 & Beyond, and has penned several Doctor Who Short Trip stories for Big Finish and Candy Jar’s Lethbridge-Stewart: The Forgotten Son, as well as Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants. He said: “There’s been such a warm reception to the first book, I must thank everybody for all their kind words. My next book is a dream come true. It’s an idea I’ve had rattling around in my head since 1998, so it’s great privilege to be able to make it a reality, and even more so due to Terrance Dicks’ involvement with it.”

Nick Walters has written five novels for Doctor Who since 1998. Nick said: “After the Doctor himself the Brigadier is the best-loved character in Doctor Who. I met Nick Courtney a number of times and he really is a splendid fellow. He brought a real humanity and vulnerability to the role without compromising the essential toughness of the character. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is the chap you’d want on your side in a fight – any fight – and it is a real privilege to be exploring what made him into the character we came to know and love.”

The story of Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart is fully licensed by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Mervyn Haisman’s granddaughter Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln.

The Schizoid Earth can now be pre-ordered directly from Candy Jar, on it’s own or as part of two different bundles…

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The Year That Was… 2014

So, that was 2014, eh? What a year it’s been. Turbulent. In turns awful, in turns amazing. Personal failures that led to new bouts of personal strength, and the end of one of my favourite publishing jobs which came about just in time for what is almost certainly going to be my most favourite publishing job yet!

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Personally life has been an odd one. Started off in a great place, hopelessly in love, certain I’d found my soul mate, but that soured throughout the year until it totally collapsed in August. Which was fun. I still feel I had found my soul mate, my ‘one’, alas it seems he was only the ‘one’ for the best part of two years. Of course, as one would expect, the ending of it was terrible, with all kinds of emotional fallout, leading to distractions of the worst kind. But I came through it, and I now sit here able to look back and realise that for all the pain, I have grown once again. Probably became harder as a result, less forgiving of people. (Which explains my rather cold response to a family member who sunk into what I can only call alcoholism, to the point where she absolutely failed to take the advice and help offered to her. And also explains the dissolution of long-term friendship with someone who crossed a line I could no longer ‘go along with’.) I think I am now at a place where I’m actually looking to where my next ‘one’ is — I’m sure he’s out there somewhere. Only this time it’ll be someone who isn’t so far removed from my own age — not that I believe in the idea of an age-gap. After all, a number is just that, but the practicalities of a relationship with a large age-gap are something to be considered. And heeded. What’s the point in going through a bad experience if you’re not willing to learn and do better the next time?

horizons2mediumProfessionally life has also been an odd one. I started the year in the same role I’d inhabited for the last four years, that of range editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond, only I could already see the end in sight. Things were falling apart behind the scenes — my relationship with my publisher was souring drastically. Was this connected to what was going on in my personal life? It’s entirely possible. At least, the two things did not help each other.  I still intend, one day, to tell of my experiences and view on how the series failed, but for now all I can say is I was personally disenfranchised by the whole experience, and was determined to see it end, so that it could be reborn in a stronger manner. So, mid-way through the year as Space: 1889 & Beyond limped its way to the final gate, I found myself in the position of being commissioned to oversee an exciting new project. And all because of a simple Facebook status I wrote! Of course, anybody who has read this blog (and many more besides) are aware of the project now — Lethbridge-Stewart, a new series of novel based on the legendary character from Doctor Who. The series still hasn’t begun,  but I have been working hard on it since the beginning on July, pretty much every day since the license was agreed. It has been a crazy six months, working alongside authors who I have always counted among some of my favourites, writers responsible for some of the best Doctor Who prose during the 1990s. The thrill of announcing the series at the start of December cannot be described — the news spread like fire. It seemed everybody was talking about. Including Digital Spy! Insane, I tell ya. My publisher totally didn’t see it coming, but I think I did, as he remarked to me. Because I had been working on for quite a while, I think I started to get a feel for just how big a deal it was, whereas Shaun was busy on other projects for Candy Jar Books. But when the news was out there, well, then Shaun learned just how big this was, too!

Candy_Jar_LS2_Front_BFormat_smallAnd so here I am. The end of 2014, with what may well be my biggest book yet on the verge of being released into the hands of the public (the verge, in this case, being late February), single, but pretty content with how things are. Sure, they could be a lot better, but when I consider all that happened in the last six months I realise I’m a very lucky chap indeed. I’m the controlling element of a series which is going to bring a hell of a lot of readers excitement and fun, and I get to establish the official story of one of the biggest television characters of the last fifty years. I have some amazing people to work with over the next few years — hell, just the following year will see me work alongside some of the best authors out there, and this is only the beginning. So, yes, it’s been an interesting year. At times hard, at times the most fun ever.

So, big thanks to all who have helped to make it such a great and odd year. And I mean to all, even the lost love. Time for my annual sharing of this song, and the words are truly what I believe…

Writing the Winning Short Story

festivallogoOn August 2nd, Laura Foakes and I spearheaded the forthcoming Candy Jar Book Festival at Cardiff Central Library, talking about some of the best ways to write a short story with a view to winning the much coveted spot in a published anthology. Alas, as with these events, not everybody was able to attend and several asked me to share my Top Ten Rules; so here they are…

  1. Inspiration: What inspires you? With a short story it can be something mundane, something small. Something you see, something you hear, or perhaps something you read that makes you wonder ‘where would I have taken that idea?’. Find one central idea, and build your story around it.
  2. Heart of Your Story: Explore your motivations, determine what you want your story to do, then stick to your core message.
  3. Few Characters: You simply will not have room for more than one or two round characters. Find economical ways to characterise your protagonist, and describe minor characters briefly.
  4. Limit the time frame when you write a short story: Though some short-story writers do jump around in time, your story has the biggest chance of success if you limit the time frame as much as possible. It’s unrealistic to cover years of a character’s life in twenty-five pages (even a month might be a challenge). By limiting the time period, you allow more focus on the events that are included in the narrative.
  5. Ever Line Must Count: The short story requires discipline and editing. Every line should either build character or advance the action. If it doesn’t do one of these two things, it has to go. Keep descriptive passages to a minimum; you don’t have time to be expansive. Use description as pointers to help the reader paint their own picture, don’t do it for them.
  6. Perfect first and last line: Hook the reader with the very first line, and leave them with a final line they won’t forget easily.
  7. Cliffhangers: Don’t give a resolution; leave the reader wondering what comes next. End on a major twist.
  8. Experiment: The short story is a great way to play around with style and form; to try something different. Don’t necessarily go from A to B to C, etc. However much you experiment with form, though, remember something has to happen in the story (or at least the reader has to feelas though something has happened). Things like conflict and resolution achieve this effect. Don’t be afraid to blend genres. Remember, there is very little that is original in storytelling these days, but it’s how you blend the elements that can give a sense of originality.
  9. Shorter Is Sweeter: Resist the urge to go on and on. With a shorter short story, you will have more markets available to you and thus a better chance of getting published. When given a word limit for your short story, always aim or the lower end of that limit. Editors will want to fill a book with as many stories as possible, and so will often be looking for the shorter submissions.
  10. Craft A Strong Title: This can be one of the most difficult—but one of the most important—parts of writing your story. How do you find inspiration for a great title? Have friends read your story and note which words or phrases strike them or stand out. These excerpts from your text just might hold the perfect title.
Laura and I giving our advice at Cardiff Central Library
Laura and I giving our advice at Cardiff Central Library

 

Additional Hints

  • Reworking Old Stories: If you have old short stories, pull them out and dust them down. Look over them again, and see if you can do something new with them.
  • Write Popular Genres: Write short stories featuring the fads that cycle around. Vampires, zombie, werewolves, ghosts, wizards, etc. Write them and put them aside, then when each cycle comes around again you have a short story all set to submit to anthologies.
  • Look at Publisher’s Output: Consider the publisher you’re submitting to. What else do they publish? Target your story to best suit the publisher.
  • Unbiased View/reader (not family or friend): If able, find an unbiased person to read your story and give you an honest view. Despite the best intentions of family and friends, you will not receive an unbiased view. ‘My mother is my worst critic.’ – don’t believe it!
  • Read Out Loud: Read your story out loud, to somebody else or to yourself. If you stumble over sentences then they’ll need rewriting. Reading out loud will also help you see how natural the dialogue is.

 

Series Two – Conspiracy of Silence Released

Roll up, roll up… the fall of Nathanial Stone starts here!

Space: 1889 & Beyond series two begins today with the worldwide launch of Conspiracy of Silence, which sees series creator, Frank Chadwick, and series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, joining forces to set up the biggest phase in Space: 1889‘s history!

Series two picks up at the tail end of 1889, and finally launches the series beyond… not only beyond the old decade it’s lived in for twenty years, but you will witness the first steps that takes the property beyond the inner planets!

For Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset, the most harrowing journey has only just begun!

At long last, Nathanial and Annabelle are back on Earth, but the reception is hardly what they hoped for–Nathanial locked up in Chatham Convict Prison, Annabelle and her uncle Cyrus Grant held in the Tower of London: the charge–treason!

Someone high up in the British government is putting pressure on them for mysterious reasons. But when the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Britain is assassinated in a gunpowder plot, which would have made Guy Fawkes smile, events spin out of everyone’s control.

The clock is ticking down on the arrival of the new Austrian ambassador, and on an assassination plot which aims to cut the heart out of the British monarchy and government. The race to thwart the conspirators will take Nathanial, Annabelle, and George Bedford through the heart of Whitechapel at night, to gunpowder barges anchored in the Thames, to seedy boarding houses attacked by infernal clockwork devices, and finally to the dizzy heights of a zeppelin docking gantry packed with explosives and where a single spark will mean extinction for all.

She heard a knock on the sitting room door. “Come in,” she said and Stanhope appeared with a small silver platter holding a white card.

A gentleman to see you, Miss,” he said and offered her the card. For a moment her heart raced at the thought of George Bedford, or perhaps Nathanial, finally finding her, but the card dashed her hopes.

Major Walter Hallam Gordon, CGM

5th Regiment of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers

Very well, show him in,” she said, knowing very well this was merely a polite formality. Jailers do not require permission from prisoners to enter their cells.

Major Gordon was tall and slender, dark-haired, and she might have found him good looking under different circumstances—or perhaps not. Whatever attraction his face might have had was ruined by his grey-blue eyes: cold and calculating.

Miss Annabelle Somerset? Please accept my apologies for having to introduce myself under these circumstances. Major Walter Gordon, at your service,” he said with a little bow.

I doubt that very much, Major Gordon. Were you at my service you would have two steamer tickets to America in your pocket and a carriage waiting out front.”

Nothing would give me more pleasure, Miss Somerset, I assure you, but my duty comes first. I am sure you understand.”

I understand nothing. No one has told me why we are being held against our wills, nor has anyone told me what has become of our friend, Professor Stone. Unless you can do so, I suspect this interview will be brief.”

Of course,” Gordon answered. “You undoubtedly have many questions.” He gestured to an arm chair. “May I?”

Your vocal powers seem to function satisfactorily while standing,” she answered.

He inclined his head slightly in acceptance. “Very well. I can hardly fault your hostility. I apologise for your having been kept in ignorance, although in truth I doubt any of your…keepers knew quite what to tell you. Let me remedy that at once. Your uncle, Doctor Cyrus Grant, is held here for his own safety. As you can see, he is incapable of caring for himself, and may come to some harm left untended.”

I tended him in the Tower, and I tend him here. I can as easily tend him in Arizona,” Annabelle answered.

Ah…yes, well, that is where it becomes complicated. You are not free to go, Miss Somerset, I am sad to say. While no formal charges have been filed, I am obliged to say that the Lord Chancellor is currently studying the evidence and is deliberating whether charges should be levied. Until such time as a decision is made, I am afraid you must remain here. I know that a week in the Tower as a prisoner must have been a harrowing experience, and now the thought of further captivity must be positively terrifying, but I ask you to…”

Annabelle laughed, and Gordon broke off speaking, his eyebrows lifting in surprise. “When I was twelve years old my parents were murdered and I was taken captive by a band of the Chiricahua Apache. The chief, Goyahkla, led that band and I was held prisoner by him for two years until rescued. Three months ago I laid in a filthy tent in the Martian desert while, to save my life, two dear friends, neither of them physicians, sawed off my rotting right leg—rotting, I might add, due to a pistol ball from the French saboteur who was the actual architect of the Peregrine Station explosion. Major Gordon, if you honestly believe I find this,” and her gesture encompassed the sitting room, “or the austere comforts of the Tower harrowing, or the prospect of being held captive by the British Army terrifying, then you are a fool.”

She sat on the sofa with her back to the arm on the left and her artificial leg, her peg, extended out on the sofa itself. It was not heavy and did not require support, but it did not bend at the knee and if she allowed it to stick straight out she feared Uncle Cyrus, in his aimless wandering, would trip over it and hurt either himself or her, or both. She looked at it, at the reddish-black wood carved to look like a piece of machinery, with rivets and the suggestion of gears and pistons. Her Martian friend Kak’hamish, who had carved it and saved her life time and again, was dead, but she knew that near the top of the peg he had carved a legend in an arcane Martian script. It read, he had told her, Annabelle’s Spirit. It’s meaning, he explained, was that her spirit was like the peg carved from Martian blackwood—alive, but like steel.

She did not feel like steel, not really. Despite her defiant words she felt powerless and frightened and very much alone, but she would never let this Major Gordon see that. Perhaps that was what Kak’hamish had meant.

I admire your courage, Miss Somerset,” Gordon said. “You will have need of it in the times to come. I must tell you that the charge the Lord Chancellor is considering is one of high treason, which is a capital offense.”

High treason?” she exclaimed, and she felt her voice rise even as blood rushed to her face. “You must think me very silly and gullible to take such a threat seriously. I am an American citizen, not a British subject, and so whatever you imagine I have done, it could not possibly constitute treason. Really, this is too much. I must ask you to go, Major, and I demand to speak with the United States Envoy at his earliest convenience. That is my right, I believe.”

As you wish, Miss Somerset,” Major Gordon answered. “I will arrange the meeting with the envoy.” With another small bow he left her.

Annabelle sat on the sofa for several minutes, struggling to get her emotions under control, or at least her breathing and heart rate. The nerve of the British! Who did they think they were to treat Americans this way? And treason? What a preposterous threat! It was so preposterous…in some ways she found it more unsettling than a more modest and believable threat would have been. Why would he even say such a thing?

Andy Frankham-Allen is a Welsh-born author of many short stories, both for Untreed Reads and the Big Finish’s official range of Doctor Who anthologies. In 2005 he co-authored the last in Noise Monster Productions range of Space 1889 audio dramas, and in early 2011 Untreed Reads published the first novel in his new real world dark fantasy series, The Garden, which was nominated for the Rainbow Award, Best Full-Length Supernatural Novel 2011. He continues to write short stories and novels, with upcoming projects including a novel in Crossroads Press’ Scattered Earth series, and non-fiction Doctor Who book for Candy Jar Publishing, as well the second book in The Garden series. On top of all that, he’s also the series editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond.

Frank Chadwick is no stranger to the Victorian science fiction field. He is the creator of the Space: 1889 universe, with the first in a series of role-playing adventures, board games, and miniatures rules appearing over twenty years ago. He is known throughout the gaming industry as one of its most prolific designers, with over a hundred published games. He is also well-known in the history and military affairs field, with over two hundred books, articles, and columns. His 1991 Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, but he still lists steampunk as one of his first and greatest loves.  As well writing one and a half novels in the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, his forthcoming works include two novels with Baen Books, How Dark the World Becomes and The Forever Engine which is set in the Space: 1889 universe.

Conspiracy of Silence is now available through…

The Untreed Reads Store (http://bit.ly/Pqrzz3)

Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/PmlSRe)

Apple’s iBookstore

Barnes and Noble

DriveThruFiction.com

DriveThruRPG.com

Lightning Source

OmniLit.com

Scribd.com

Conspiracy of Silence © 2012 Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.

Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2012 Frank Chadwick.

All Rights Reserved.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – News Update

More Space: 1889 & Beyond news!

Series One, now with 50% off

Two fantastic offers that run through until August 15th 2012…

Untreed Reads is having a big sale at their store, with 50% off all titles. This includes the entire series one back catalogue – so if you’ve not joined the adventures of Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset now is the time. And, on top of that, you can pick up the series two Season Pass for £10.87, saving yourself £3.20 off buying the titles individually as they’re released.

Pop by the Untreed Reads Store now to take advantage of these amazing offers.

Coming mid-August 2012

The second exciting series of steampunk adventures!

 

Series 2.
2012-2013

Everything H.G. Wells could have written.

Everything Arthur Conan Doyle thought of,

but never published – because it was too fantastic!

 

Following on from the success of the first series, Untreed Reads Publishing is proud to present the second series of six books based on the world-renowned Role Playing Game, fully licensed from creator, Frank Chadwick, and headed by best-selling author Andy Frankham-Allen.

The series begins mid-August, and will be released bi-monthly, thus running for a whole year. Once again we’ve brought together some of the best names in fantasy fiction as well as some relatively new names to bring you a series that will continue to re-shape the popular steampunk universe first created almost twenty years ago.

This series our heroes, “Professor” Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset are joined by two others on their journey through the aether. Captain Jacob Folkard, the commander of HMAS Sovereign, and another familiar face. There is much turbulence and change ahead, as secrets are unveiled, mysteries revealed, with the fate of the British Empire hanging in the balance. Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Join Nathanial, Annabelle, Folkard and guest as they travel from one corner of the Space: 1889 universe to another, from the conspiracies that eat away at the heart of the British Empire to the underworld of Ceres, watch them as they encounter pterodactyls in the clouds above Venus, join them on their longest journey between worlds where it seems their darkest fears follow them all the way to Phobos and the mysteries contained inside that moon… Where will their journey end? Nothing is certain, except that by the end of series two the 1889-verse will be shaken to its very core!

Previously On…

At the end of the last series, Nathanial and Annabelle found themselves in something of a tight spot. Annabelle lost one of her legs due to the machinations of the manipulative French man, Le Boeuf, on an experimental heliograph station, and Nathanial found himself placed under arrest for the destruction of said station. It seemed things were looking up for them after they helped rescue Annabelle’s increasingly mad uncle, inventor Cyrus Grant, and foiled a Russian plan to secure the moon and the alien Heart at its centre. But as series one closed, Annabelle was disheartened by her uncle’s deterioration, despite the support of Lieutenant George Bedford, first officer of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMAS Sovereign, and Nathanial was left to ponder his own future. He hopes that his actions on Luna will give his innocence some credence, but is concerned about the reception awaiting him on Earth… No one but he and Annabelle survived the destruction of Peregrine station, so who is behind the charges levied against him?

A view from a gantry…

Series two begins mere hours from where series one left off, with the series creator, Frank Chadwick, joining forces with series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, to bring you a tour-de-force in Space: 1889 adventure!

The Stories

  1. Conspiracy of Silence by Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick
  2. To Ceres by Steam by Paul Ebbs
  3. Leviathans of the Clouds by Steven Savile & David Parish-Whittaker
  4. The Forever Journey by Oli Smith
  5. A Fistful of Dust by Sharon Bidwell
  6. Horizons of Deceit by Jonathan Cooper

 

The Team

Series Editor, Andy Frankham-Allen (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

Andy Frankham-Allen is a Welsh-born author of many short stories, both for Untreed Reads and the Big Finish’s official range of Doctor Who anthologies. In 2005 he co-authored the last in Noise Monster Productions range of Space 1889 audio dramas, and in early 2011 Untreed Reads published the first novel in his new real world dark fantasy series, The Garden, which was nominated for the Rainbow Award, Best Full-Length Supernatural Novel 2011. He continues to write short stories and novels, with upcoming projects including a novel in Crossroads Press’ Scattered Earth series, and non-fiction Doctor Who book for Candy Jar Publishing, as well the second book in The Garden series. On top of all that, he’s also the series editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond.

Series Creator, Frank Chadwick (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

Frank Chadwick is no stranger to the Victorian science fiction field. He is the creator of the Space: 1889 universe, with the first in a series of role-playing adventures, board games, and miniatures rules appearing over twenty years ago. He is known throughout the gaming industry as one of its most prolific designers, with over a hundred published games. He is also well-known in the history and military affairs field, with over two hundred books, articles, and columns. His 1991 Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, but he still lists steampunk as one of his first and greatest loves.  As well writing one and a half novels in the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, his forthcoming works include two novels with Baen Books, How Dark the World Becomes and The Forever Engine which is set in the Space: 1889 universe.

Paul Ebbs (author, To Ceres by Steam)

Paul Ebbs has written various Doctor Who related things for the BBC, Big Finish Productions and BBV, and as a TV writer he’s written for such notable shows as EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill and Dead Ringers.

Steven Savile (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in eight languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L’eridita. He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, Shadow of the Jaguar, published by Titan, in 2010, and has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award on multiple occasions. Silver, his debut thriller reached #2 in the Amazon UK e-charts in the summer of 2011 selling over forty thousand copies in the process. He wrote the story for the huge international bestselling computer game Battlefield 3, which sold over five million copies in its week of release, and he served as head writer on the popular online children’s game SPINEWORLD which have over one million players. His latest books include Tau Ceti (co-authored with International Bestselling novelist Kevin J. Anderson), Each Ember’s Ghost and the novelisation of the computer game Risen 2: Dark Waters.

David Parish-Whittaker (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

David Parish-Whittaker was a winner of the Writers of the Future contest for emerging talent in speculative fiction for his short story A Warbird in the Belly of the Mouse.  He’s previously written tie-in fiction for the Rezolution miniatures ruleset by Aberrant Games, to be published in an upcoming anthology.  His short fiction has also appeared in Every Day Fiction.   He currently writes videogame analysis and reviews for Geekosophy and Bag of Games. When he’s not writing, David works as a captain for a national airline. In previous incarnations, he has been a naval flight officer, traffic watch pilot, glider tow pilot and aerobatic instructor.  He is a rated commercial glider pilot, and holds an H-2 hang glider rating.  In his off hours, he plays a replica medieval harp for the Goliards, an early music group specializing in 13th – 15th century music, mostly to cement his geek street cred.

Oli Smith spent two years as a freelance writer working on novels, audio books, comic strips and video games for the BBC series Doctor Who. Now he works as a creative producer for London-based video games company Mediatonic and spends his evenings playing board games. He still likes writing, retro sci-fi and RPGs so it looks like Space: 1889 has got him covered.

Oli Smith (author, The Forever Journey)

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. The first short story she submitted — Silver Apples of the Moon— was accepted by Roadworks Magazine. The editor announced her as ‘a writer who is going places’ and described the story as having ‘both a Sci-fi and horror element,’ and being ‘strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style.’  With a repertoire of twisted tales and a love of cross-genre writing, it surprised everyone (including herself) when she branched out into erotic romance. These works have been critically acclaimed and often described as ‘deeply passionate’. Sharon’s worlds are vivid, unexpected and sometimes intensely magical. She is the author of the best-selling gay romances ‘Snow Angel‘ and the sequel ‘Angel Heart’. Sharon writes whatever her warped mind can come up with. Although her longer works to date mostly involve a variety of wonderful men finding true love…or at least some loving, she’s quite capable of writing something darker, grittier, and even outright twisted.

Sharon Bidwell (author, A Fistful of Death)
Jonathan Cooper (author, Horizons of Deceit)

Jonathan Cooper was born in Wolverhampton in 1981. He started his career in theatre, writing plays from the Birmingham REP and the King’s Head in Islington. He has written extensively on the web on film, TV, video games and other assorted geekery, including a stint producing reviews and opinion for Mirror.co.uk. He has written and produced two short films with another two in production and has had short stories published internationally – he is also, according to the BBC – one of the top 200 comedy writers in the UK. Horizons of Deceit is his first full-length science fiction piece, and he remains bizarrely proud of the day Steven Moffat threatened to set his eagles on him.

Adam Burn has been drawing from an early age, and has been working with digital art for at least seven of them. He is a freelance artist who has worked for Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games. He was, most recently, the Senior 2D Artist for Taitale Studios on their forthcoming MMORTS game, Novus Aeterno. Steampunk is a new genre for him, but one he’s finding his way around quickly, and he is responsible for the covers of series two, as well as the revamp of the Space: 1889 & Beyondlogo.

Adam Burn, cover designer

Exclusive: Conspiracy of Silence (prologue)

1.

“AETHER PROPELLOR SECURED and ventral mast shipped, sir.”

“Very good, Mister Barry.” Lieutenant George Bedford, acting captain of HMAS Sovereign, the most modern aether battleship in the Royal Navy, took a quick scan of the bridge instruments and engine room repeaters before turning back to the young sub-lieutenant. “At what would you estimate our drop, Mister Barry?”

Barry had only worn the single thick stripe of a sub-lieutenant for eight months and Bedford hadn’t known him as a midshipman. The youngster had a good level head on his shoulders, Bedford had learned that much about him several weeks earlier when the two of them had dropped half a dozen Saltators—giant lunar red ants—with revolver fire when the monsters had boiled unexpectedly out of the hatch of a cutter on the docking bay. His technical skills were another matter, but they were coming along.

Barry squinted through the lens of the horizontal inclinometer, aimed out the bridge’s starboard observation blister, consulted his pocket watch, waited ten seconds and took a second reading through the lens. He paused, doing the calculation in his head.

“I make the drop fifty-five fathoms per second, sir.”

Bedford nodded; he made it nearly the same. Fifty-five fathoms a second, a descent rate of almost four miles a minute, was a bit steep and on this trajectory would put them down in the North Atlantic instead of the English Channel, as well as scorch the lower hull. “Trimsman, let’s have fifteen percent buoyancy on the lifters.”

After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

“Fifteen percent buoyancy, aye, sir,” the petty officer answered and went to work on his forest of levers, each controlling the angle of one of the liftwood  louvers which covered much of Sovereign’s lower hull.

“Mister Barry, my compliments to Lieutenant Boswell and he may light the coal boilers at his discretion.”

“Sir.”

They wouldn’t have enough atmospheric oxygen for the boilers for another ten minutes or so, but Boswell, the chief engineer, knew that well enough. The sun was still visible above the curvature of the Earth and would remain so all the way down through cloud-free skies. Although it was not yet day in Southern England, the eastern sky would already be pink and the sun would rise full up in the hour their descent from orbit would take, racing as they were toward the dawn. The solar boilers would do until Boswell put the black gang to work, would probably suffice until the last ten minutes of the flight, when they would penetrate the near-permanent cloud and smoke cover over Greater London. No solar boiler yet made would work down under that grey-brown shroud.

Bedford took another look at the bridge, its gleaming brass instruments and polished mahogany panelling, and he sighed. In an hour, a bit more, Sovereign would be down and secure at Chatham Dockyard and his temporary command would end. There was no chance for a simple lieutenant with eight years seniority to land a permanent command such as this—the choicest command in the fleet, coveted by officers with two more stripes on their cuffs and with the all-important political backing and social standing he lacked. No, he would be reassigned. In the past he had always looked forward to a new assignment, but not this time. After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

More than that, she held memories. Were it not for his assignment to HMAS Sovereign, he would never have met and befriended Nathanial Stone, and would not now be delivering him to the police for trial as a traitor and saboteur. He would never have met Cyrus Grant, one of the greatest scientific minds of the age, now reduced to confusion and madness by their experiences on Luna. Most importantly, he would never have met Grant’s niece, Annabelle Somerset.

Annabelle…

2.

NATHANIAL WATCHED AS the line of Russian former captives was led to the steam omnibus waiting at dockside. The irony of their situation and his washed over him like a cold wave. Former enemies of Britain, they, along with British personnel, had been captured by the alien Drobates on Luna, and all had been rescued by Bedford’s daring raid, leading fewer than a dozen Royal marines and naval ratings. Now the Russians would be released, amidst much public fanfare, to the custody of the Russian ambassador, who would in turn express the heartfelt gratitude of the Tsar.

In the subsequent fighting which had nearly cost all of them their lives, the Russians had done nothing to help while Nathanial, with a captured Drobate electric rifle, had held a long, dim tunnel against an alien horde, and had done so nearly alone and with little expectation he would escape with his life. Now British soldiers helped the Russians into the steam omnibus, showed them every courtesy, while a quartet of hard-eyed constables marched purposely toward Nathanial, obviously intent on taking custody of him from the two Royal Marines who guarded him.

Nathanial had at least expected to be met by some sort of government official, have the charges explained. Instead a black police four-wheeler loomed behind the constables. Were they really simply going to pack him up and cart him off to prison with no further ado?

Nathanial looked for any sign of his friends. Captain Folkard, who had relieved himself of command of Sovereign after the disastrous events on Luna had played themselves out, was nowhere to be seen on the dock, but Nathanial spied Annabelle making her way to him on the arm of Lieutenant Bedford, both of them limping. Bedford had suffered a nasty sprain of his ankle on Luna and Annabelle… Months earlier Annabelle had lost her right leg above the knee and now wore a mechanical limb designed by Nathanial and built using Drobate technology over the course of the last few weeks. It seemed to serve her well, the only bright spot in this uniformly bleak scene.

“Is this Stone?” the leading constable asked.

“Of course it is,” Private Jones answered, bristling slightly. “And what of it, then?”

“It’s all right, Private,” Nathanial said. “It is clear enough they are here for me. If you gentlemen would be so good as to give me a moment to take my leave of my friends, I would appreciate it.” He addressed this last to the leading constable.

Instead the man gestured to his assistants. “Seize him and put him in the van.”

“No! Just a moment, please!” Nathanial entreated but to no avail.

Two constables pinned his arms to his side and pulled him toward the black carriage. A few yards away Annabelle cried out and broke free of Bedford, reached out to him. The leading constable made as if to stop her but Jones’s rifle was suddenly in his hands at high port.

“Touch the lady, friend, and you’ll be chokin’ on your teeth,” Jones growled and the constable took a step back.

“Nathanial,” Annabelle said and thrust something round, flat, and metallic into his hand, “take this and remember—never lose hope.”

The constables pulled him away and he saw George Bedford comforting Annabelle as the doors on the back of the van closed and plunged him into darkness. He looked at his hand and saw a small gold watch, gleaming dully in the faint light which entered through the overhead ventilator. He recognised it as the pocket watch her father had given her—which contained on its inside a daguerreotype of her deceased parents; the only thing she retained from that former life.

Never lose hope.

 

Back by Popular Demand

Hi, gang!

We’ve noticed a few people asking if we’d be doing a season-pass for the second series of Space: 1889 & Beyond. Originally the answer was ‘no’, due to the initial behind-the-scenes chaos with getting the series together. However, we’ve found a way to change that. And so, we’re very pleased to announce that ‘yes!’ we are now doing a season-pass. But there is a catch!

It’s a good one, mind.

The season-pass is only available until August 15th – so if you fancy saving £3.20 ($5) off the entire second series, then run along now and pick up the season-pass for only £10.87 ($17). Yes, that’s just over a tenner for six books! Who can pass up such a deal? But hurry, this only lasts for two weeks.

Visit the Untreed Reads Store HERE to purchase the pass.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – Series Two Press Release

Coming mid-August 2012

The second exciting series of steampunk adventures!

 

Series 2.
2012-2013

Everything H.G. Wells could have written.

Everything Arthur Conan Doyle thought of,

but never published – because it was too fantastic!

 

Following on from the success of the first series, Untreed Reads Publishing is proud to present the second series of six books based on the world-renowned Role Playing Game, fully licensed from creator, Frank Chadwick, and headed by best-selling author Andy Frankham-Allen.

The series begins mid-August, and will be released bi-monthly, thus running for a whole year. Once again we’ve brought together some of the best names in fantasy fiction as well as some relatively new names to bring you a series that will continue to re-shape the popular steampunk universe first created almost twenty years ago.

This series our heroes, “Professor” Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset are joined by two others on their journey through the aether. Captain Jacob Folkard, the commander of HMAS Sovereign, and another familiar face. There is much turbulence and change ahead, as secrets are unveiled, mysteries revealed, with the fate of the British Empire hanging in the balance. Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Join Nathanial, Annabelle, Folkard and guest as they travel from one corner of the Space: 1889 universe to another, from the conspiracies that eat away at the heart of the British Empire to the underworld of Ceres, watch them as they encounter pterodactyls in the clouds above Venus, join them on their longest journey between worlds where it seems their darkest fears follow them all the way to Phobos and the mysteries contained inside that moon… Where will their journey end? Nothing is certain, except that by the end of series two the 1889-verse will be shaken to its very core!

Previously On…

At the end of the last series, Nathanial and Annabelle found themselves in something of a tight spot. Annabelle lost one of her legs due to the machinations of the manipulative French man, Le Boeuf, on an experimental heliograph station, and Nathanial found himself placed under arrest for the destruction of said station. It seemed things were looking up for them after they helped rescue Annabelle’s increasingly mad uncle, inventor Cyrus Grant, and foiled a Russian plan to secure the moon and the alien Heart at its centre. But as series one closed, Annabelle was disheartened by her uncle’s deterioration, despite the support of Lieutenant George Bedford, first officer of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMAS Sovereign, and Nathanial was left to ponder his own future. He hopes that his actions on Luna will give his innocence some credence, but is concerned about the reception awaiting him on Earth… No one but he and Annabelle survived the destruction of Peregrine station, so who is behind the charges levied against him?

A view from a gantry…

Series two begins mere hours from where series one left off, with the series creator, Frank Chadwick, joining forces with series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, to bring you a tour-de-force in Space: 1889 adventure!

The Stories

  1. Conspiracy of Silence by Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick
  2. To Ceres by Steam by Paul Ebbs
  3. Leviathans of the Clouds by Steven Savile & David Parish-Whittaker
  4. The Forever Journey by Oli Smith
  5. A Fistful of Dust by Sharon Bidwell
  6. Horizons of Deceit by Jonathan Cooper

 

The Team

Series Editor, Andy Frankham-Allen (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

Andy Frankham-Allen is a Welsh-born author of many short stories, both for Untreed Reads and the Big Finish’s official range of Doctor Who anthologies. In 2005 he co-authored the last in Noise Monster Productions range of Space 1889 audio dramas, and in early 2011 Untreed Reads published the first novel in his new real world dark fantasy series, The Garden, which was nominated for the Rainbow Award, Best Full-Length Supernatural Novel 2011. He continues to write short stories and novels, with upcoming projects including a novel in Crossroads Press’ Scattered Earth series, and non-fiction Doctor Who book for Candy Jar Publishing, as well the second book in The Garden series. On top of all that, he’s also the series editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond.

Series Creator, Frank Chadwick (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

Frank Chadwick is no stranger to the Victorian science fiction field. He is the creator of the Space: 1889 universe, with the first in a series of role-playing adventures, board games, and miniatures rules appearing over twenty years ago. He is known throughout the gaming industry as one of its most prolific designers, with over a hundred published games. He is also well-known in the history and military affairs field, with over two hundred books, articles, and columns. His 1991 Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, but he still lists steampunk as one of his first and greatest loves.  As well writing one and a half novels in the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, his forthcoming works include two novels with Baen Books, How Dark the World Becomes and The Forever Engine which is set in the Space: 1889 universe.

Paul Ebbs (author, To Ceres by Steam)

Paul Ebbs has written various Doctor Who related things for the BBC, Big Finish Productions and BBV, and as a TV writer he’s written for such notable shows as EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill and Dead Ringers.

Steven Savile (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in eight languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L’eridita. He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, Shadow of the Jaguar, published by Titan, in 2010, and has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award on multiple occasions. Silver, his debut thriller reached #2 in the Amazon UK e-charts in the summer of 2011 selling over forty thousand copies in the process. He wrote the story for the huge international bestselling computer game Battlefield 3, which sold over five million copies in its week of release, and he served as head writer on the popular online children’s game SPINEWORLD which have over one million players. His latest books include Tau Ceti (co-authored with International Bestselling novelist Kevin J. Anderson), Each Ember’s Ghost and the novelisation of the computer game Risen 2: Dark Waters.

David Parish-Whittaker (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

David Parish-Whittaker was a winner of the Writers of the Future contest for emerging talent in speculative fiction for his short story A Warbird in the Belly of the Mouse.  He’s previously written tie-in fiction for the Rezolution miniatures ruleset by Aberrant Games, to be published in an upcoming anthology.  His short fiction has also appeared in Every Day Fiction.   He currently writes videogame analysis and reviews for Geekosophy and Bag of Games. When he’s not writing, David works as a captain for a national airline. In previous incarnations, he has been a naval flight officer, traffic watch pilot, glider tow pilot and aerobatic instructor.  He is a rated commercial glider pilot, and holds an H-2 hang glider rating.  In his off hours, he plays a replica medieval harp for the Goliards, an early music group specializing in 13th – 15th century music, mostly to cement his geek street cred.

Oli Smith spent two years as a freelance writer working on novels, audio books, comic strips and video games for the BBC series Doctor Who. Now he works as a creative producer for London-based video games company Mediatonic and spends his evenings playing board games. He still likes writing, retro sci-fi and RPGs so it looks like Space: 1889 has got him covered.

Oli Smith (author, The Forever Journey)

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. The first short story she submitted — Silver Apples of the Moon— was accepted by Roadworks Magazine. The editor announced her as ‘a writer who is going places’ and described the story as having ‘both a Sci-fi and horror element,’ and being ‘strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style.’  With a repertoire of twisted tales and a love of cross-genre writing, it surprised everyone (including herself) when she branched out into erotic romance. These works have been critically acclaimed and often described as ‘deeply passionate’. Sharon’s worlds are vivid, unexpected and sometimes intensely magical. She is the author of the best-selling gay romances ‘Snow Angel‘ and the sequel ‘Angel Heart’. Sharon writes whatever her warped mind can come up with. Although her longer works to date mostly involve a variety of wonderful men finding true love…or at least some loving, she’s quite capable of writing something darker, grittier, and even outright twisted.

Sharon Bidwell (author, A Fistful of Death)
Jonathan Cooper (author, Horizons of Deceit)

Jonathan Cooper was born in Wolverhampton in 1981. He started his career in theatre, writing plays from the Birmingham REP and the King’s Head in Islington. He has written extensively on the web on film, TV, video games and other assorted geekery, including a stint producing reviews and opinion for Mirror.co.uk. He has written and produced two short films with another two in production and has had short stories published internationally – he is also, according to the BBC – one of the top 200 comedy writers in the UK. Horizons of Deceit is his first full-length science fiction piece, and he remains bizarrely proud of the day Steven Moffat threatened to set his eagles on him.

Adam Burn has been drawing from an early age, and has been working with digital art for at least seven of them. He is a freelance artist who has worked for Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games. He was, most recently, the Senior 2D Artist for Taitale Studios on their forthcoming MMORTS game, Novus Aeterno. Steampunk is a new genre for him, but one he’s finding his way around quickly, and he is responsible for the covers of series two, as well as the revamp of the Space: 1889 & Beyondlogo.

Adam Burn, cover designer

Exclusive: Conspiracy of Silence (prologue)

1.

“AETHER PROPELLOR SECURED and ventral mast shipped, sir.”

“Very good, Mister Barry.” Lieutenant George Bedford, acting captain of HMAS Sovereign, the most modern aether battleship in the Royal Navy, took a quick scan of the bridge instruments and engine room repeaters before turning back to the young sub-lieutenant. “At what would you estimate our drop, Mister Barry?”

Barry had only worn the single thick stripe of a sub-lieutenant for eight months and Bedford hadn’t known him as a midshipman. The youngster had a good level head on his shoulders, Bedford had learned that much about him several weeks earlier when the two of them had dropped half a dozen Saltators—giant lunar red ants—with revolver fire when the monsters had boiled unexpectedly out of the hatch of a cutter on the docking bay. His technical skills were another matter, but they were coming along.

Barry squinted through the lens of the horizontal inclinometer, aimed out the bridge’s starboard observation blister, consulted his pocket watch, waited ten seconds and took a second reading through the lens. He paused, doing the calculation in his head.

“I make the drop fifty-five fathoms per second, sir.”

Bedford nodded; he made it nearly the same. Fifty-five fathoms a second, a descent rate of almost four miles a minute, was a bit steep and on this trajectory would put them down in the North Atlantic instead of the English Channel, as well as scorch the lower hull. “Trimsman, let’s have fifteen percent buoyancy on the lifters.”

After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

“Fifteen percent buoyancy, aye, sir,” the petty officer answered and went to work on his forest of levers, each controlling the angle of one of the liftwood  louvers which covered much of Sovereign’s lower hull.

“Mister Barry, my compliments to Lieutenant Boswell and he may light the coal boilers at his discretion.”

“Sir.”

They wouldn’t have enough atmospheric oxygen for the boilers for another ten minutes or so, but Boswell, the chief engineer, knew that well enough. The sun was still visible above the curvature of the Earth and would remain so all the way down through cloud-free skies. Although it was not yet day in Southern England, the eastern sky would already be pink and the sun would rise full up in the hour their descent from orbit would take, racing as they were toward the dawn. The solar boilers would do until Boswell put the black gang to work, would probably suffice until the last ten minutes of the flight, when they would penetrate the near-permanent cloud and smoke cover over Greater London. No solar boiler yet made would work down under that grey-brown shroud.

Bedford took another look at the bridge, its gleaming brass instruments and polished mahogany panelling, and he sighed. In an hour, a bit more, Sovereign would be down and secure at Chatham Dockyard and his temporary command would end. There was no chance for a simple lieutenant with eight years seniority to land a permanent command such as this—the choicest command in the fleet, coveted by officers with two more stripes on their cuffs and with the all-important political backing and social standing he lacked. No, he would be reassigned. In the past he had always looked forward to a new assignment, but not this time. After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

More than that, she held memories. Were it not for his assignment to HMAS Sovereign, he would never have met and befriended Nathanial Stone, and would not now be delivering him to the police for trial as a traitor and saboteur. He would never have met Cyrus Grant, one of the greatest scientific minds of the age, now reduced to confusion and madness by their experiences on Luna. Most importantly, he would never have met Grant’s niece, Annabelle Somerset.

Annabelle…

2.

NATHANIAL WATCHED AS the line of Russian former captives was led to the steam omnibus waiting at dockside. The irony of their situation and his washed over him like a cold wave. Former enemies of Britain, they, along with British personnel, had been captured by the alien Drobates on Luna, and all had been rescued by Bedford’s daring raid, leading fewer than a dozen Royal marines and naval ratings. Now the Russians would be released, amidst much public fanfare, to the custody of the Russian ambassador, who would in turn express the heartfelt gratitude of the Tsar.

In the subsequent fighting which had nearly cost all of them their lives, the Russians had done nothing to help while Nathanial, with a captured Drobate electric rifle, had held a long, dim tunnel against an alien horde, and had done so nearly alone and with little expectation he would escape with his life. Now British soldiers helped the Russians into the steam omnibus, showed them every courtesy, while a quartet of hard-eyed constables marched purposely toward Nathanial, obviously intent on taking custody of him from the two Royal Marines who guarded him.

Nathanial had at least expected to be met by some sort of government official, have the charges explained. Instead a black police four-wheeler loomed behind the constables. Were they really simply going to pack him up and cart him off to prison with no further ado?

Nathanial looked for any sign of his friends. Captain Folkard, who had relieved himself of command of Sovereign after the disastrous events on Luna had played themselves out, was nowhere to be seen on the dock, but Nathanial spied Annabelle making her way to him on the arm of Lieutenant Bedford, both of them limping. Bedford had suffered a nasty sprain of his ankle on Luna and Annabelle… Months earlier Annabelle had lost her right leg above the knee and now wore a mechanical limb designed by Nathanial and built using Drobate technology over the course of the last few weeks. It seemed to serve her well, the only bright spot in this uniformly bleak scene.

“Is this Stone?” the leading constable asked.

“Of course it is,” Private Jones answered, bristling slightly. “And what of it, then?”

“It’s all right, Private,” Nathanial said. “It is clear enough they are here for me. If you gentlemen would be so good as to give me a moment to take my leave of my friends, I would appreciate it.” He addressed this last to the leading constable.

Instead the man gestured to his assistants. “Seize him and put him in the van.”

“No! Just a moment, please!” Nathanial entreated but to no avail.

Two constables pinned his arms to his side and pulled him toward the black carriage. A few yards away Annabelle cried out and broke free of Bedford, reached out to him. The leading constable made as if to stop her but Jones’s rifle was suddenly in his hands at high port.

“Touch the lady, friend, and you’ll be chokin’ on your teeth,” Jones growled and the constable took a step back.

“Nathanial,” Annabelle said and thrust something round, flat, and metallic into his hand, “take this and remember—never lose hope.”

The constables pulled him away and he saw George Bedford comforting Annabelle as the doors on the back of the van closed and plunged him into darkness. He looked at his hand and saw a small gold watch, gleaming dully in the faint light which entered through the overhead ventilator. He recognised it as the pocket watch her father had given her—which contained on its inside a daguerreotype of her deceased parents; the only thing she retained from that former life.

Never lose hope.

 

The Wilderness Years (1991 to 2004) – A Mini Autobiography

Hey, I recently came across an email I wrote a friend four years ago. It was a long catch-up email, between two friends who had not seen each other in eighteen years. And it got me thinking. Perhaps it’s time to share a little of my story with my readers.  What follows is by no means up to the standard, and as in depth, as my usual writing, but it will give you all a few insights into the world I come from. I daresay there are some of you that can relate to it.

There is, of course, plenty of more story, but I pick up in 1991, in my final year as a teenager…

 

Rare shot of me, from 1992…

Leaving White City was a slow process, even though I moved down to this hotel in Shepherd’s Bush Road, since I still had a lot of friends in the old estate, and so often found myself back there. But once out of the hotel my mother moved to Fulham and I got myself my first flat in Edward Woods Estate. Still have nightmares about that place. Hated it. It was little more than a bedsit, and 16 floors up; the heating never worked, and I always seemed to be skint… I guess I was in a bad place in myself.

Disillusioned by people, and not for the last time, I ended up spending most of my time in Fulham. Staying at my mother’s quite a lot, although many a night I would trek from Fulham to Shepherd’s Bush, just me and my dog (and no lead for her – best behaved dog ever!). Eventually I kind of hit my bottom, doing much of nothing, just hanging out with mates, signing on, drinking. Never turned to drugs, though, although I had a toke of a spliff once, but much like cigarettes it wasn’t for me. Made me feel ill (even to this day I feel ill when surrounded by too much cigarette smoke, which I think is a good thing really since it keeps me from getting addicted to them – and I can have a bit of an addictive personality!). So, there I was, at the bottom of my own personal pit, and one day I was hanging out at the fair that had pitched up in Fulham Rec on Fulham Palace Road, having what I thought was a good time. And it was, chilling out with mates is always a good time if they’re the right kind of mates, but I was feeling empty, avoid of something, some direction. And along came the Christians.

Yep, almost 2000 years on they were still the harbinger of bad tidings, despite their protestations to the contrary. But they have an instinct for targeting those that look like they need something bigger, and that was a category I certainly filled then. July 1993, a red letter month for my life. So much changed in the coming months, things that seemed to be good for me but in the short term was the worst kind of shit.

Rebekah, Mary and I…

Alienation of my family and friends, isolating myself from the real world. I got to know these American missionaries, and was introduced to various people at Twynholm Baptist Church @ the Fulham Cross junction of Munster and Lillie Roads. On the surface they seemed a welcoming bunch of people, and so over the course of a week I was introduced to the Christian concept of God and the path to salvation. 4th July came and so did my commitment to Jesus. And thus it remained for the best part of seven years. I become quite devote; every aspect of my life was imbued with my faith. My CDs went, replaced by Christian music (both worship and contemporary, since even as devout as I was I needed modern tunes that I could dance to); my books (of which there were many) were chucked out, except my Doctor Who collection which went into storage (couldn’t bring myself to get rid of those!). Conversations with my family lasted about ten minutes before God was brought into them, and my previous friends no longer fitted into my world view. They became objects for witnessing, in an effort to let God speak through me and bring them into the fold. The irony is I didn’t see this at the time, I was so caught up in my faith that I couldn’t see the effect it was having on me, how it was taking me out of the world I so wanted to be a part of. I lost touch with reality, you might say.

After a false start, I finally settled into a job, and learned all about work ethic. It was a tough lesson, since I had an innate distrust of any authority and couldn’t quite get my head into the notion of reporting to someone who was not me. But I soon equated it to my submission to God and it became easy enough. I became an active part of various church related events; teaching in Junior Club, leading Bible Studies, and became something of a Bible Scholar. One trait I still have; when I become interested in something I seek to learn all I can. But despite all this, and the church elders realising my inborn leadership abilities (which makes sense of my lack of respect for authority figures – a follower I am not!), in my personal life things were still taking a nose dive.

It took many years to work out what was happening, but I was turning into some kind emotional cripple; dependent on the love and attention of my peers. I put so much stock in some friendships that I’d be debilitated when things went sour.

Just to offer balance, not all was doom and gloom. 4th August 1996 a bunch of us were at the Rec, the lads playing football, me flirting and chatting with the girls (as was the norm for me, then), when the ball got stuck up a tree. Now I’m a good tree-climber, and so off I went. One of my mates gave me a leg up, but as soon as he let go and my entire weight was on the branch, the bark crumbled and my grip went with it. I landed unceremoniously on the grass, thinking I’ll try that again, but when I tried to stand I found putting any kind of weight on my right foot wasn’t going to happen. I removed my shoe, and was greeted by the sight of my foot almost facing the wrong way. Yup, very broken! So, what did I do? I laughed. My mates thought I was joking, then they noticed the new angle of my foot and started panicking. The end result, I had crumbled the talus in my ankle joint to nothing, and would thus, according to the experts, be using a walking stick within ten years (sixteen years on and no such thing has been needed!). First though I was disabled for three months, no work and way too much time on my hands.

And so I finally did what I’d been meaning to do for the longest time; I wrote a book. All told it took me a year to finish, after several rewrites, and I sent it to BBC Books (it being a Doctor Who novel), but it wasn’t for them but it was, as the editor pointed out, cathartic for me in any case. Looking back, the book was extremely preachy, dealing with Christian concepts in a way that was supposed to be clever, but was nothing more than blatantly obvious and crass. And so my old hobby resurfaced for a while, but time and events conspired against me and proper pursuit of my writing would have to wait another five years.

About 1998 things began to become clear in my mind. I had an epiphany one night while visiting my mother, who now lived in Shoeburyness. The lights were out and I was standing at the bedroom window, feeling out of sorts, and I looked up at the night sky and said, ‘God, are you there?’ It’s hard to explain what happened. I certainly wasn’t expecting an audible reply, but what I did get was answer enough. A moment of pure clarity. The God I’d learned to believe in did not exist, and my faith was misplaced. I tried to keep this realisation to myself when I returned to London, but over the following weeks my dissatisfaction in the church and the people within became more and more apparent. I turned argumentative, debating every point that was being preached. I looked around and saw the younger people, cotton woolled by the church, entering the real world and being destroyed. I suddenly realised that’s exactly what the church did to me, too. It made me detached, no longer part of the world, a man who only looked to befriend people with an ulterior motive, a chance to preach and convert. I was ashamed of myself. Treating people, friends, in such a disgusting way. And so, late ’98 I left the church and moved to Shoeburyness, finally getting the hell out of London.

Relaxing in Didcot… before the darkness came.

I came across two vastly important elements at that point, a book and a singer, both of which were expressing everything I was feeling inside but could never quite vocalise. Anne Rice’s ‘Memnoch the Devil’ dealt with issues close to my heart, as the Devil took Lestat on a tour of creation, signposting the inherent illogic of Christian doctrine. Nonsense that I had been pondering. And then there was Marilyn Manson. I first heard his ‘Last Tour on Earth’ CD, I had bought it because having heard ‘Rock is Dead’ on ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ on ‘House on Haunted Hill’ this was the only CD that had both tunes together. But the first track, ‘The Reflecting God’, spoke to me in ways no other song has. ‘I went to God just to see, and saw I was looking at me, saw Heaven and Hell were lies.’ My anthem. A few years being angry did me wonders, exorcised my inner demons, and brought me back to the darker side of my id. Out went all the Christian music (bar a few choice groups who were musically valid) and I soon started collecting the Music of Andy. Metal, rock, soul, R&B, funk… a bit of everything really. Music for all moods and seasons. On some levels I began to identify with Marilyn Manson, bought all his music, read his book, and realised this guy spoke of lot of what I thought. Not everything, mind, but some things. His whole concept of ‘don’t follow me, just be you’ appealed greatly. Music and lyrics for the development of the individual. My anger wasn’t helped none by the fact that most of the friends I’d made through the church basically disowned me; none could truly understand where I was and why I was doing what I was doing, and so, being closed minded to anything that lived beyond the walls of their faith, they turned their backs on me. I didn’t much care at the time, I was building up a new friend-base through my life and work in Southend. And, more importantly, my self-awareness was the verge of completion. But then something unexpected happened.

Over the preceding few years I discovered the internet, along with the masses, and became a regular user of such things like chat rooms, online communities and the like. By the end of 2001 I was an old hand with the net, having found many like-minded people all over the world via a community of Doctor Who fans called Outpost Gallifrey. I even started up my own series of Doctor Who stories, playing around and creating a Doctor Who universe where the safe rules of the TV series of old went out of the window (in many ways, over the next four years, my stories, and that of those who wrote for me, foreshadowed a lot of what happened in the TV series that surfaced in 2005, and to this day I’m convinced that Russell T. Davies and Co nicked a few of our ideas). As well as providing me with a new outlet for my writing, a place where feedback was almost immediate, the net gave me a safe haven where I could begin to express aspects of myself I had hitherto been unable to do.

Now, older and wiser, I can see the progression to my real sexual discovery was a long process indeed, but at the time my interest in men caught me by surprise. It shouldn’t have; many times in the past I’d dreamed about sexual encounters with men, and been drawn to the torso of many guys on first meeting. But that great Egyptian river is an easy place to get lost in, and I learned to swim it well. I think I must have got so used to being in da Nile that I had acclimatised to the waters and was no longer even aware of how soaked up in it I was. Many girlfriends had come and gone. Relations with other men was never an option, and I think that came down to a fear of ridicule, for many a time in the past I’d been accused of being gay by so many people, most often just because I wasn’t going out with a girl, and because I was generally a quiet and bookish type. Clearly all the prerequisites for sexual orientation are right there! The secret formula for working out sexuality – a guy, quiet, bookish, not sleeping around like some slag? Right, chalk that up to him being gay! More nonsense, of course, but the preconceptions of people delight in nonsense. So, there was the fear of ridicule, and then, I was heavily involved in the church and being gay was majorly frowned upon, so the kibosh was put on any gay exploration for another seven or so years. So finally I found an outlet where I could explore these hidden depths of my psyche in the safety of my own room.

The flirt in me came out (and has never gone away), first online, and slowly it emerged at work. And such flirting led to a meeting at a pub in London, where a bunch of Who fans met once a month, and my first romantic relationship with another man.

It was a tough time. My mother, being the nosy type, got into this online community and discovered stuff about me that she had no need to know. At least not until I chose to reveal it. We had a bit of a row, wherein she told me she always knew I was gay, blah blah. To this day I don’t believe her; how could she possibly know my deepest secret when I didn’t even know? There were no real signs before, other than the blatantly misinterpreted ones previously mentioned. I spent time away at Richard’s place; and the first night was little more than a fumble, experimenting in things I’d always secretly dreamed about. The next day I was full of doubts, and fears. Did I honestly want this? Was this me? It was a hard time accepting this part of me, knowing full well how the world would react. But slowly I began to settle into it, and person by person, my emergence was revealed.

Most people didn’t quite get it, but others were fine. Jokes abounded, which made things easier; a great British convention, to make light of serious situations and thus they become easy to live with. Alas, it being the first proper man-on-man relationship, things were rushed. And soon I had moved to Didcot to live with my partner (I’ll call him R). We got a nice little house, next door to countryside, and I had a job. Things should have been ideal, but they were far from it. Isolation had crept in again, but this time it was a kind of enforced isolation. All my friends were either in London or Southend, a long way from Didcot. There was just me and R, and as much as I loved him at the time, I needed other outlets. Often I would be on the train to or from work in Reading, pondering just leaving. Insecurities were eating me away. The strong man that had started to reassert himself following the Years in the Wilderness that was my church life was being eaten away, turning into a dependent again, a weak fool whose existence was always judged in relation to another. My own identity was diminished, and I’d become the other half of another man. We moved to Southend, which ought to have been a solution for me, but despite having a friend base again, I felt obligated to be with R most of the time. My partner was becoming more and more career focussed, and so despite the time spent in his company I might have well as not been there. And then, following a job promotion for him, we ended up living in Colchester. The darkest time of my life began, and for a year everything I had been was ripped away.

Things started off ok; I got a new job working in Waterstone’s, and I got introduced to the producer of the Doctor Who audio plays, Gary Russell, and at the time he was also editor of a series of Doctor Who anthologies. Along the way he got wind of the fact that I wanted to write, and so out of the blue he emailed me asking me to pitch a few ideas for the new anthology he was editing. Naturally I sent him about ten ideas, which he liked, but one he loved, and so I got my first commission. This was mid-2004, and by that time things had started to sour big time at home. R was becoming more distant, and I’d often go out riding on my bike alone, just to get away from the pervading sense of dread that hung in the air. He started to visit all kinds of porn sites, which does little for the self esteem of the other half in a relationship, and it all came out one day when he told me about this new guy who had started working with him. Nothing had really happened, just a kiss, but R was no longer sure he wanted to be with me. My world pretty much crashed down around me then.

Broken, but not defeated…

Gone was the fighter, who’d pick himself up and strike back harder, all that was left was this pathetic person who foolishly suggested R could have both of us. Crazy talk! Over the next couple of weeks things went from worse to insane. I ended up sleeping in the spare room, and R was spending more and more time away from home. Throughout this I was writing my story, which dealt with a guy who discovers he’s dead and has to watch his fiancé’s world crash down; a topic too close to home, and thus a very raw tale was written. Finally it came to a point where one of us simply had to go; and it was me. One night, September 2004, R told me that he wanted me gone the next day since he no longer wanted to ‘share the same breath’ as me. That was my darkest night… I never knew I could cry so much. Just the simple act of breathing became hard. I was a wreck.

The next morning I called my mother in Wales, and she arranged to come and pick me up. For the first and only time in my life my mother actually came through for me, and I was indebted to her for that. By the evening I was en route to Wales, sitting in the van, not talking, just living in a world of hurt. I didn’t realise at that moment, but I was settling in to the initial fugue of a nervous breakdown.

To be continued…

Under the Covers with The Comic Guru

First of all, a little bit of Space: 1889 & Beyond news. Once again, the series dominates the Top Ten Best-Sellers List on Untreed Reads Store; that makes five months in a row now. And, as a result, all four titles can now be bought direct from Untreed Reads with a 25% discount throughout February. The perfect time to introduce your friends to this smash hit steampunk series!

Now for something really cool! I was recently interviewed by the Comic Guru himself, Kristian Barry, for his ongoing YouTube vlog. For those of you who do not know me beyond my writing, this will be a  nice little insight in to the person I am – the pure cheek of me! Check the interview out below, and please feel free to share it around.