Last weekend, I visited Chorleywood, not that I saw that much of the place, I was at the Indie Author Fair at the Chorleywood LitFest. Forty or so indie authors gathered together in a very small room, to share our work, with displays and readings, talking to readers, and also to each other. The room had a definite buzz, a life. At the end of the day we’d made new friends, and got to meet fellow ALLi* members, people we’d spoken to on Facebook or Twitter but never actually met in person. And a few we already knew.
It was great fun, and here I’ve shared a few photos of the day. Of people and books. Because that’s what ALLi’s all about – helping each other, sharing professional expertise, and building a platform to showcase our work. The range of titles there was amazing, as was the enthusiasm – thanks ALLi, for being such a great professional network.
And now to the book. My latest, partly historical novel, with a supernatural edge, is now out in print as well as in ebook. It’s set in a fictional city called Curdizan, in the present day, and also in the past, and centres on the story of a house. Which was once a school. In the present day, Aleph Jones, a troubled man with a dark secret he’s desperate to hide, is introduced to a girl called Alice, who won’t speak. Alice has a very special gift, she can cross time, and when she steps into the nineteenth century she meets a boy from the slums called Tom, and mystery, mayhem and death follow. There might even be a ghost or two in the story…
But let Tom tell you his story himself.
I should have been helping Miranda in the pub, but instead I went up to Curdizan High, to look for Louise. The High’s the part where the abbey is, as well as my school, although nothing about the place is high. I walked past the school and finally came to Pearson’s Tenements, that’s where she lives, but Louise wasn’t there, surprise, surprise. I wasn’t surprised, the place was a dump, but all the same, I had to look. The tenement building was tall and grim, tiny spaces joined by a stairway and open landings, the black of the open night in between. I thought they were more like rooms than landings, people’s possessions scattered about, rooms on the outside. I thought of escape.
I once saw a woman jump from a landing, far too high from the ground to be safe, but almost worse, too low to be dead, and gone in a flash. They patched her up, as best as they could, and she even went back to her room for a bit, but she never walked the same after that and not long after, finally died. I didn’t know it at the time, but her name was May, and she was also Louise’s ma. I never did learn which room she came from.
I shivered, scared in the black of the stairway, I knew I ought to go back, and soon. Miranda would be wondering where I was. But I’d promised old Pike I’d find Louise.
‘He’s Mister Pike,’ my ma would say, but she didn’t know Pike the way I knew him, he didn’t deserve to be called Mister. He was cold, indifferent and sometimes cruel; he’d said if I didn’t find Louise, he’d throw her out of the school for good, and she’d end up lost, like Miranda’s ma. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I didn’t much like the way he’d said it, and I liked Louise, she wasn’t rough like most of the kids, and she lived in a flea pit, storeys high. If I had to live in Pearson’s Tenements, in amongst all the privy smells, I’m sure I’d forget to go to school. School would be just a dream or something.
I reached a landing, the fourth or fifth, I didn’t know which, so I tossed a huge stone over the edge, and counted until I heard it land. Although I’d looked, I hadn’t found her. I’d even tried a few of the doors, but nobody seemed to know her name. A shadow slunk by and I held my breath, you’re never alone in a place like this. I turned around, got ready to run, but a hand shot out and grabbed my collar, pulling me back, very sharply. Somebody’s hand against my mouth. The somebody spoke.
Shadows of the Lost Child, available on Amazon – a great present, or a treat for yourself, available in ebook, or in print.
If you’ve read the book, or after you have, I’d love to hear your comments here. And as you may know from a previous post, the book was inspired by historic York, so if you’ve ever lived in York, or know the city, you might particularly enjoy the story.
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