I’m delighted to say that my first self-pub, the short story ‘A Queer Trade’, is out now. Links below!
This story was written for the Charmed & Dangerous anthology last year. I wrote about my inspiration for it here; basically, Ned is a waste-man, or Victorian street trader who buys and sells used paper. Crispin, on the other hand, is a warlock whose unlawful magic works by writing spells, on paper. There’s no way that could go wrong.
I hugely enjoyed writing Ned and Crispin. In fact, I liked it so much that a novel featuring them, Rag and Bone, is coming out on 1 March.
These two are particularly fun for me because they give me a chance to look at my alt-Victorian Charm of Magpies world from some different perspectives. For one thing, Crispin is engaged in unlawful sorcery to which the first series hero, a kind of magical policeman, would give some serious side-eye. For another, I got to open up my London with Ned, who is one of the working poor and thus lives in a completely different world to that of handmade suits and mansion flats on the Strand. (Ned’s waste-paper trade was a real one, as was the rag-and-bottle trade that features in the next book, Rag and Bone. The Victorian poor couldn’t afford to throw anything away; there was even a thriving trade in dog excrement, which was picked up and sold to the tanners. I’m probably not going to write an installment based on that.)
‘A Queer Trade’ takes place in the hot summer of A Case of Possession, while Rag and Bone happens at the same time as the opening of Jackdaw. Magpie readers may recognise a few familiar faces. I hope you enjoy them!
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Crispin needs to get them back before anyone finds out what he’s been doing, or what his magic can do.
Crispin tracks his quarry down to waste paper dealer Ned Hall. He needs help, and Ned can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the waste-man and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?
(First published in the Charmed & Dangerous anthology.)
Rag and Bone
It’s amazing what people throw away…
Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.
Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.
But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.
Rag and Bone is out 1 March 2016.