REGENERATION cover reveal!


I’ve been really happy with all my covers, but this may be my favourite of the UK editions – and I’ve had to sit on it for months. It’s gone up on the Jo Fletcher Books site, so I can finally share it here too. (Also coming soon: the Binary cover for the US edition, which continues the theme of the Gemsigns cover and is very, very beautiful.)

Here’s the Regeneration cover copy:

The gillungs – genetically modified, waterbreathing humans – are thriving. They’ve pioneered new aquatic industries, and their high-efficiency quantum battery technology coupled to tidal turbines in the Thames estuary looks set to revolutionise the energy industry. But as demand grows, so does fear of what their newfound power might mean.

Then a biohazard scare at Sinkat, their London headquarters, fuels the opposition and threatens to derail the gillungs’ progress. Was it an accident born of overconfidence, or was it sabotage?

DS Sharon Varsi has her suspicions, and Gabriel sees parallels in the propaganda war he’s trying to manage: politicians and big business have stakes in this game too. And now there is a new threat: Zavcka Klist is out of prison. With powerful new followers and nothing to lose, she’s out to reclaim everything they took from her.

Regeneration is out on 2nd July (but only if I get the copy edits done in time – pressing ‘Publish’, back to work).


Blackwell’s hosts Women in Sci Fi

That cool announcement I trailed a couple of weeks ago has been announced. If you’re going to be in London on the 8th of May mark your calendars and claim your tickets: Blackwell’s on Charing Cross Road hosts the Women in Sci Fi Panel!  It’ll run from 18:30-19.30 and I’ll be one of the panellists, along with Karen Lord, Naomi Foyle, Janet Edwards and Jaine Fenn. Our moderator will be Edward James, and we’ll be discussing the debate surrounding the representation of female authors in genre fiction. The evening will also feature the launch of a new display of books at Blackwell’s featuring female authors of science fiction and fantasy – we’ll be on it of course, along with many other wonderful writers. The event is free but spaces are limited, so reserve yours now! (And if you reserve but find you can’t make it after all, please remember to cancel so someone else can take your place.)

I’d like to say a personal thanks to Jo Fletcher Books for thinking up and organising this in partnership with Blackwell’s. They’re one of the few publishers whose SF list has equal numbers of men and women authors – the ratio we all say we want, but tend not to notice when we get! And I like the idea of doing something a bit more unusual and potentially impactful than a traditional launch party – so this stands in lieu of that for Binary. But there’ll definitely be a chance to grab a drink afterwards, and I’ll be very happy to sign for anyone who wants. Do please come along!

BINARY cover reveal!


Ta daah! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Apologies for the length of time this has taken, folks – I am fortunate enough to have a publisher who listens to author input on covers (and accommodates almost all of them), but the tweaks I asked for meant the final version was a bit delayed. Some of you noticed the work-in-progress versions of the cover up on the Jo Fletcher Books website and 2014 catalogue – because sales deadlines wait for no one. Sorry for any confusion that may have caused.

However! I think it was worth the wait. What do you think?

When confiscated genestock is stolen out of secure government quarantine, DI Sharon Varsi finds herself on the biggest case of her career … chasing down a clever thief, a mysterious hacker, and the threat of new, black market gemtech.

Zavcka Klist, ruthless industrial enforcer, has reinvented herself. Now the head of Bel’Natur, she wants gem celebrity Aryel Morningstar’s blessing for the company’s revival of infotech – the science that spawned the Syndrome, nearly destroyed mankind, and led to the creation of the gems. With illness in her own family that only a gemtech can cure, Aryel’s in no position to refuse.

As the infotech programme inches towards a breakthrough, Sharon’s investigations lead ever closer to the dark heart of Bel’Natur, the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s past … and what Zavcka Klist is really after.

Roundups and reflections

I’m not entirely sure how the ten days since I got home from Jamaica have managed to be so hectic, but they have. I suspect it’s partly because the jet lag took longer to clear than usual – and that was probably because I was tired to begin with. The Jamaica trip was great, but not exactly restful. I have to say again, though, how honoured and humbled I am by the reception Gemsigns and I received – I genuinely did not expect to generate as much interest as we did. I’ve got another interview request from the trip sitting in my inbox as I write this, will get on to that next …

Speaking of interviews, and life being hectic, I’ve decided to organise them along with other media bits and pieces that are not specifically reviews under a ‘Press‘ tab, which now appears next to Reviews in the menu. I figure if I add things as they happen I won’t lose track (she said hopefully). I’ve also created a photo album from the Bookophilia launch, and Bookophilia’s album is here.

What else did I bring home from my old home? Lots of thoughts about how place of origin shapes expectations, and how much we learn from the shifting perspective of relocation, or dislocation … and how that altered outlook can be transmitted back, hopefully providing the place of origin with new perspectives on, and expectations of, itself. I talk about this far less cryptically in a blog post I’ve written for Jo Fletcher Books, which should go up on their site next week and which I will repost here when it does.

In the meantime (and speaking of being cryptic), do head over there to read this great post on secret languages from author Ian McDonald. It’s something I play around with myself in my next novel, Binary, and is a subject I find fascinating. Ian’s analysis of the codes of outsider culture is very smart in itself, and his use of Polari (once a secret gay argot) in the Everness series is just brilliant.

On the subject of codes (everything seems tangentially related to everything else in this post), I participated in a fascinating discussion yesterday on the use/over-use/mis-use of violence in fantasy, science fiction and horror. It was for a Skiffy and Fanty Show podcast, which should be posted in about a week; along with myself, fantasy author Brad Beaulieu and writer and editor Julia Rios were moderated by Shaun Duke. We got to talk about who we think does it well and who does it badly, gripe about how frequently it seems just to be a cover for lazy storytelling, and gasp in horror at some of the truly shocking things that writers have done with it, and readers have requested from it. Not that any of us think violence should be excluded from genre (or any) literature; it’s the way the consequences (or the lack thereof) of physical and sexual violence are handled that we found disturbing. It’s the way it codifies stereotypes and tropes, often around gender, in ways that are no less damaging for being repetitive and tedious. I’m always a bit uncertain about how I’m going to sound in these things, but this is one I’m really looking forward to hearing, and sharing.

The week in review

I’ve just about caught up with myself.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on blog posts and tweets you’ll know how much was happening how quickly last week. Over Monday and Tuesday I was interviewed by the Free Word Centre, and on Wednesday by Cheryl Morgan on Ujima Radio, following which I got to go to Foyles and Blackwell’s in Bristol and sign books. Then on to London for publication day on Thursday, at which I got to sign even more books. I’ve already written a post for the Jo Fletcher Books blog about what it feels like to be published; in it I talk about one of the undisputed highlights of the day, seeing a signed copy of Gemsigns in the front window of Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue. Hard on its heels came another. As I tweeted the moment a mention popped up on my phone – a recommendation from no less a luminary than the great SF writer Ian McDonald. Exit dewy-eyed author stage left, enter stunned fangirl stage right.

Then on to a meeting with Jo herself, and a review of what’s happening now and what happens next. There was some Very Big News that I cannot share on pain of being shot, but it’s got me properly excited. Celebratory drinks were had with Jo, newly (and deservedly) promoted Assistant Editor Nicola Budd, and my super-agent Ian Drury. Then we went to the Goldsboro Books Fantasy in the Court party and had even more drinks. I’m not blessed with a high alcohol tolerance, and there was a moment when I knew I had to slip out of there, sit down, drink about a gallon of water and have something to eat before things went from the sublime to the queasy.

Then on to Eastercon in Bradford. I was waiting to check in at my hotel on Friday morning when a video interview that I’d given to Anna Bialkowska in York 10 days earlier finally made it out of editing and online. I watched it in the cafe, amazed that I don’t seem to come across as the gibbering idiot I’d felt at the time; tweeted and hastily blogged; and then took myself off to the convention.

My first Eastercon. What can I say? It was great, it was mad, it was exhausting, it was wonderful. I met fantastic people – far too many to list, but they’re on my Twitter feed now and my world feels expanded. My three panels – Debut Authors, The Far Future and Why Is the Future Drawn So White? – were all lively and engaging and went very well (the last, about the exclusion of non-white characters in SFF, went so well it kept going for half an hour in the lobby after we got chucked out of the room). I did a surprisingly effective reading from Gemsigns and sold about three books on the back of it. I signed at the signing and I signed in the Dealer’s Room and I signed at the JFB party on Sunday night and I signed in the hotel restaurant the next morning. I signed until there were no books left. That’s right – Gemsigns sold out at Eastercon.

And then the reviews started coming in. There were two on Monday, and I read them on the train from Bradford to Bristol. Here they are.

Over the Effing Rainbow

And Then I Read A Book

What else is there to say? Not much. This week feels like a miracle. And yet, and yet … in light there is darkness. Rumours began to swirl over the weekend about the health of Iain M. Banks, masterful author of both SF and contemporary fiction (the latter under the clever pseudonym of Iain Banks). I hoped against hope they would prove untrue, but I knew there was little chance of that – the people who knew were people who would know. It’s since been confirmed that Iain is, as he puts it, Very Poorly and unlikely to grace us for much longer. It grieves me more than I can say. He’s one of the writers I’d hoped one day to meet; one of the ones who I count as inspirational, though the far future space opera of the Culture novels may bear little resemblance to the ®Evolution. But it was reading those books, along with works by Richard Morgan and others, that got me thinking about what kind of near-future decisions might lead to those far-future developments. What’s the starting point for a society, in order for it to eventually become the Culture? was one of the questions I asked myself. I wondered what the creator of the Culture might think of my answer. I doubt either of us will ever find out. It makes me sad, and it reminds me that our time is limited. You never know how long you’ve got left to check off all the things on your list, to get the work done.

And so it’s back to Binary for me, and then on to Gillung, and hopefully many more books and launches and wonderful weeks. There’s no time to lose.


I think I may put up a ‘Reviews’ tab in the menu, but for now I’ll link these here:

Cheryl Morgan’s review of Gemsigns

Gemsigns on Amazon UK

Win ‘Planesrunner’ by Ian McDonald

The last book giveaway generated some great responses, and I have a feeling this week’s offering will be equally inspirational. The lucky winner will receive a book I read and raved about just a few weeks ago. I’m so pleased to be able to pass this gem on to some lucky reader – maybe you! Before I get too excited, here’s a reminder of the competition format:

I post a summary of the book, plus a thought or two of my own about an aspect of it that I find especially intriguing. Then I ask you to tell me about your particular version of that particular reality. What do I mean? Read on:



There is not just one you, there are many yous. We’re part of a multiplicity of universes in parallel dimensions – and Everett Singh’s dad has found a way in.

But he’s been kidnapped from the streets of London, right under his son’s nose, and now it’s as if Everett’s dad never existed. The police won’t help, and his mum thinks Everett has brought shame on his family. There is only one clue for him to follow, a mysterious app his dad sent to his iPad: the Infundibulum.

The app is a map, not just to the Ten Known Worlds, but to the entire multiverse – and there are those who want to get their hands on it very badly. Now Everett’s got to find a way to unlock the secret of the Infundibulum and cross entire dimensions to find his father. If he’s going to beat the bad guys, he’s going to need friends: like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter Sen, and the crew of the airship Everness.

Ian McDonald’s novels explore the idea of a multiverse, an infinite sequence of alternate universes each of which is different from the one we know. The difference here on Earth may be one tiny, almost unnoticeable thing – a slightly altered pattern on the wing of a particular butterfly, for example. Or it may be huge – maybe the continents never broke apart. To win a copy of Planesrunner, tell me this: How would the alternate universe you’d most like to visit be different from this one?

Post your answer in comments, or tweet it to me @scriptopus (or both!). You have until midnight on Sunday (UK time) to get it in, then I’ll pick a winner. The competition is open to you wherever you are in the world, as long as your answer is in English. Prizes will be dispatched from Jo Fletcher Books HQ in London, and remember, we’ll need your address if you win.

Here’s the question again: How would the alternate universe you’d most like to visit be different from this one?

Win ‘Blood’s Pride’ by Evie Manieri

Free books are back! I took a break last week for reasons explained here, but thankfully things have settled down to a still-intense-but-manageable pace and I can return to giving away great reads:

untitledA generation has passed since the Norlanders’ great ships bore down on Shadar, and the Dead Ones slashed and burned the city into submission, enslaving the
Shadari people.

Now the Norlander governor is dying and, as his three alienated children struggle against the crushing isolation of their lives, the Shadari rebels spot their opening and summon the Mongrel, a mysterious mercenary warrior who has never yet lost a battle. But her terms are unsettling: she will name her price
only after the Norlanders have been defeated.

A single question is left for the Shadari: is there any price too high for freedom?

I confess I haven’t yet read Blood’s Pride, but one of the aspects of it I think must be fascinating is how the Norlanders do – or do not – communicate; they are called the Dead Ones because they are gaunt, pale, lack facial expressions or body language, and are almost entirely without speech. They communicate by telepathy and a sort of empathic transmission. Evie Manieri talks about the challenge of writing dialogue for characters who don’t speak here, and it made me think about what it would be like to communicate in such a profoundly different way. So my question this week is: Would you give up speech for telepathy? Why, or why not?

Post your answer in comments, or tweet it to me @scriptopus (or both!). You have until midnight on Sunday to get it in, then I’ll pick a winner. The competition is open to you wherever you are in the world, as long as your answer is in English. Prizes will be dispatched from Jo Fletcher Books HQ in London, and remember, we’ll need your address if you win.

Win ‘A Cold Season’ by Alison Littlewood

It’s a surprisingly frosty morning in north Devon and I’ve got a book to give away that feels just right for the last gasp of winter:


Cass is building a new life for herself and her young son Ben after the death of her soldier husband Pete, returning to the village where she lived as a child. But their idyllic new home is not what she expected: the other flats are all empty, there’s strange graffiti on the walls, and the villagers are a bit odd.

And when an unexpectedly heavy snowstorm maroons the village, things get even harder. Ben is changing, he’s surly and aggressive and Cass’s only confidant is the smooth, charming Theodore Remick, the stand-in headmaster.

Not everyone approves of Cass’s growing closeness to Mr Remick, and it soon becomes obvious he’s not all he appears to be either. If she is to protect her beloved son, Cass is going to have to fight back.

Alison Littlewood uses the harsh weather, coupled with the bleak environment of the moors, to reflect a growing sense of crisis for Cass and her son. Winter is almost always a metaphor for danger in fiction, and as this one comes to an end we’re probably all heaving a sigh of relief. The competition question is: What’s the worst thing about winter?

Post your answer in comments, or tweet it to me @scriptopus (or both). You have until midnight Sunday 3rd March to get it in, then I’ll pick a winner. The competition is open to you wherever you are in the world, as long as your answer is in English. Prizes will be dispatched from Jo Fletcher Books HQ in London, and remember, we’ll need your address if you win.

One Sentence Wonders: The City’s Son

It’s my turn to join in the Great Jo Fletcher Books Giveaway, and boy do I have some wonderful stuff for you! I’ll be running a weekly competition, starting today and until the publication of my own novel at the end of March (or longer if I can persuade them to let me keep giving away books). Here’s the Twitter-friendly format:

I’ll post a summary of the book of the week, plus a thought or two about an aspect of it that I find especially intriguing. Then I’m going to ask you to tell me, in a single sentence, about your particular version of that particular reality. Examples are the best explanation, so here’s the first one:


Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.

When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she finds Filius Viae, London’s ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most. An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St Paul’s Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love.

Some of you might remember me raving about this book back in September; it was one of my favourite reads of 2012. Now up for a prestigious Kitschies award, Tom Pollock’s debut novel is about what it means to be part of a city, to be its blood and bones and to have it in yours. It’s a literal truth for Filius Viae, the boy with the city in his skin; and a metaphorical one for Beth Bradley, who finds sanctuary and a cause worth fighting for in the city itself, when home can provide her with neither.

So my question for you is: What makes you love your city? Post your answer in comments, or tweet it to me @scriptopus (or both!). You have until Sunday midnight (GMT) to get it in, then I’ll pick a winner. The competition is open to you wherever you are in the world, as long as your answer is in English. Prizes will be dispatched from Jo Fletcher Books HQ in London, and remember, we’ll need your address if you win.

In one sentence: What makes you love your city?  Ready, set, go!

I’m going to be on the radio! And other upcoming events.

A quick shout-out to Cheryl Morgan, who has very kindly invited me to join her on Bristol’s Ujima Radio 98fm Women’s Outlook programme from 12 – 2pm on Wednesday 27th March (podcast to follow). This is not at all coincidentally the day before Gemsigns is officially released into the wild, so we get to talk about books in general and that one in particular. It should be interesting – Ujima is largely aimed at Bristol’s Afro-Caribbean community, and I’m originally from Jamaica, so there’s an obvious link. But I don’t look or sound like what most people think a Jamaican ‘ought’ to look and sound like. Half the characters in my novel are people who are marginalised and discriminated against because of their origins, but those origins are not national, racial, religious or indeed anything else that we have experience with out here in the real world. Gender issues concern me, but only to the extent that I believe ALL issues of inequality and prejudice and presumption, ALL constraints and limitations and denials of freedom, should be of grave concern to ALL of us – whether they are constructed (or excused!) on the basis of gender, ethnicity, appearance, sexuality, religion, disability, or any of the other myriad stupid reasons we find to repress and abuse each other. So I tend not to place myself in niches because frankly, with so much nonsense to contend with on so many fronts, you need room to swing.

Then I’m at Eastercon (or EightSquaredCon as it’s known this year) in Bradford. I’m not sure exactly what (if anything) I’ll be doing as the programme isn’t out yet, but I’m told there’ll be a launch event for me and other Jo Fletcher Books authors who have novels out this spring. Anyway, if you’re there you can’t miss me; I’ll be the one floating three inches above the ground, grinning from ear to ear. And a couple of weeks later, on Thursday 11th April there’ll be what I’m grandly referring to as the London launch – basically a party in a pub with books, because with the best will in the world it’s a little too much to expect all my friends, fans, colleagues and alpha-readers to decamp to Bradford for Easter weekend (although some of them did volunteer, and I love them dearly for it). I’ll post the location once it’s confirmed; anyone who wants to come along will be very, very welcome.

Between now and the start of all that I will mostly be in Leeds, working on a very intense but short-term project to combat fuel poverty that will have me criss-crossing the Yorkshire countryside. I will be living in cheap-and-not-that-cheerful business hotels (unless I run into Lenny Henry in the lobby), which means that I should have no distractions and therefore no excuses not to write at night (I would so love to have the draft of Binary finished by the time Gemsigns is published). I will definitely be online daily (if not all day), and starting next Thursday I’ll be giving away a fantastic book every week. So it’ll be a busy-busy-busy couple of months, but it’ll be fun. Stick with me.

  • I love stories.
    My new novel, Sacred, is all about them. Publication info will be posted as soon as I have it.

    In the meantime check out Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration, available wherever good books are sold.

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