So, there is a new anthology coming: Charmed and Dangerous, a collection of ten m/m paranormal romances. If you like mmpr (and if you’re reading this I have to assume you do or this will be like one of those really awkward party conversations where it turns out nobody knows anyone else there), you are likely to be just slightly thrilled. Check out the gorgeous cover, and also the author list. I am unspeakably excited to be part of this.
When Jordan Castillo Price asked me to write a story (I like to drop that phrase into conversation), I set out thinking about ideas, and reached, as I often do, for Henry Mayhew. His 1860s book London Labour and the London Poor is an early example of social research, and includes long accounts of what his interviewees said, in their own words. (Ish, at least, there are questions over Mayhew’s literary ambitions, but let’s not be fussy.) Mayhew gave us three hulking volumes that told us how London’s least regarded workers and street-people lived.
One of the street trades was that of waste-man, the people who bought used paper and sold it on for packing and wrapping. Mayhew interviewed a waste-man who explained what his job was. I don’t know if there could be a more plot-bunny-packed paragraph than this; in particular, I would ask you to think about the effect of the last line of this quote on a writer of Victorian gay romance:
An old man dies, you see, and his papers are sold off, letters and all; that’s the way to get rid of all the old rubbish, as soon as the old boy’s pointing his toes to the sky. What’s old letters worth, when the writers are dead and buried? Why, perhaps 1½d. a pound, and it’s a rattling big letter that will weigh half-an-ounce. O, it’s a queer trade, but there’s many worse.
I read this paragraph and knew that I had my story for this anthology: an old man dying and his papers sold on. Which, since this is a paranormal romance story, are magical papers, bought unwittingly by a waste-man, which must be retrieved by the apprentice warlock before anything dreadful happens. (This is me. Hands up who thinks nothing dreadful will happen.)
Here’s the blurb for my story:
Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Waste paper seller Ned Hall 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?
It is, of course, called A Queer Trade. (You wouldn’t have resisted that either.) And while it is an all-new story with completely new characters, sharp-eyed readers may see some old friends passing through.
Charmed and Dangerous is out 25 August, a mere fortnight after A Fashionable Indulgence, and weighs in at a startling 180K word length. Have fun!
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