So my Love Has No Boundaries story, The Lodestar of Ys, went up yesterday! Hurrah! (For those who don’t know what I’m wittering on about, the m/m romance group on Goodreads runs a huge story exchange every summer. They’ve been posting 1-3 stories a day since the end of May. Mine is a big fantasy romp with flying ships and snarky princes and an evil Empire threatening invasion. You can find it here (where you will be greeted by a very nice picture of Richard Armitage, who was the inspiration for my grumpypants Prince Sjurd) or go here for a download.
I’ve had a fantastic time both writing this and
taunting chatting with the lovely people who’ve been cheering me along the way. It’s been a really good experience and I can only hope that the release of Reawakening in the New Year is just as rewarding 🙂 I have been writing an extra bonus story in the discussion thread over there as a thank you, which I’ll post here as well when it’s done. You can read Emyr and Heilyn’s story over here 🙂 There’s also a playlist in the post before this one.
I’ve also been busy with other things. Mum and I have spent a few days walking along the North Kent coast. The marshes outside Faversham looked my mental image of Sjurd’s country of Axholme, so there are a few pictures under the cut. Strange to think that all of this is less than fifty miles from London and was once full of bustling wharfs (the remains of some still appear out of the edges of the marsh, worn and splintered.
I’ve also, of course, been writing. After all the noble sentiments I expressed about not forcing myself to write a Christmas story this year, I gave into temptation. Gaudete will be part of Dreamspinner’s Advent Calendar this year. It’s the story of the Christmas market outside (the invented) cathedral of Aylminster in Sussex, and of two little boys who form an unlikely Christmas friendship. Jonah is a chorister, and Callum is the son of one of the market traders, and the story moves back and forth between their childhood and the Christmas when they meet again as adults.
With that in the mix as well, it’s going to be a busy autumn. The Steamed Up anthology is the first excitement, and I’m hoping to be able to share cover art with you soon. Then there will be Gaudete at Christmas and Reawakening early next year, with all the edits and promotion and associated fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some writing time as well!
Okay, I’ll stop wittering now, and get on with the pictures 😉
Faversham marshes. Originally, Axholme was inspired by Lincolnshire. I spent most of my Easter holiday hiking and backpacking around that eerie part of the country. I actually started the first draft of Lodestar in a lovely guesthouse in John Wesley’s home town of Epworth on the (landlocked) Isle of Axholme, and borrowed the name as a temporary solution until I thought of something else. It rather suited, though, as Holmebury, the capital, is loosely based on Lincoln, I ending up keeping it. Kent is in some ways a similar landscape, flat and only fascinating once your eyes adjust to how far away the horizon lies, and this felt like Axholme to me.
This one isn’t anything to do with the story, but is just of something cool. These are traditional Thames barges, with their distinctive coloured sails. In 1900 there were 2500 barges working the river. Today there are about twenty left. Peter Ackroyd in his biography of the Thames, which I’m currently reading, refers to their sails as “the colour of the Thames,” and goes on to comment, “They endured for a thousand years, but then, like their sails, slowly mixed with sunset.”
And here, just as a bonus, some of my inspiration for Ys. I don’t have any pictures which evoke quite as directly as these do Axholme, as I don’t have any real experience of flying islands crowned by forests of derwen trees lit by glowing starflowers (if only). However, I did draw on a trip around the Hebrides I made a few years ago. Here’s a couple of views down the Firth of Lorne from Oban.
*facepalms* I spent a fortnight wandering from island to island by ferry. I saw the islands awash with sunshine. Could I find any photos which contained both both islands and sunlight? Nope.