And now for something completely different: writing in a new area

My new book, Non-Stop Till Tokyo, is completely different to everything I’ve published to date.

[pause for readers to say either ‘WHAT? NOOOOOO’ or ‘Oh, thank God’, to taste.]

It is, undeniably, a funny feeling. So far I’ve written…pause for maths…three shortish novels and five short stories all of which are paranormal mystery m/m romance set in Victorian England; plus one shortish novel which is a m/m pulp adventure/romance set in Edwardian England, without magic, but with lots of period atmosphere, stiff upper lip and nice clothes.

Non-Stop Till Tokyo is a long m/f romantic suspense thriller set in contemporary Tokyo, with a bar girl and a thug on the run from the yakuza. Yep, plenty of readership crossover there.


It’s a complicated thing, when writers move genres. Many simply adopt two identities (or more for super-prolific authors trying not to flood the market. John Creasey wrote an estimated 550 books under 28 pen names.). It isn’t usually a matter of keeping a secret, rather of letting the reader be certain of what they’re getting. Ruth Rendell for twisty mystery; Barbara Vine for Gothic. Iain Banks for contemporary disturbia; Iain M Banks for sci fi. Gore Vidal for history, politics, satire; Edgar Box for mystery novels. (Yes, really.) JK Rowling for buckets of money; Robert Galbraith for 1500 copies through Bookscan.

Some romance writers do the same within genre, using different identities for different types of romance – very often because they’re prolific authors, or because they have several very distinct voices. In this case I haven’t, largely because it didn’t occur to me, my publisher didn’t suggest it, and when the subject was raised I felt uncomfortable at the idea. Tokyo is a much more mainstream, much longer book, with the emphasis pretty heavily on the suspense, and as such it might well appeal to quite a different market. But it is still being published as a romance – m/f rather than m/m. If I published an experimental literary novel, or a children’s picture book, there would be a very strong reason for a new identity to avoid confusion, bewilderment and dismay from people checking out the backlist (or, indeed, frontlist). Ditto if I had a massive body of work (I wish) and a marketing imperative to separate it out into strands. But since I don’t, and since I’d like to live in a world where romance is romance regardless of gender, writing as KJ Charles across the board is, in the tiniest and least significant way possible, my way of asserting that.

So, yeah, if you’re looking for a fairly violent, fast moving and somewhat unusual thriller, Non-Stop Till Tokyo is out this month. If you’re looking for my next m/m, that’s Think of England, in July.

In other news, I have a cover for Flight of Magpies (October) now! In fact, I have all four Magpie covers, including the one for free short A Case of Spirits, coming Jan 15, and just look how cool they are together.


Non-Stop Till Tokyo

A man with a past is her only hope for the future.

Kerry Ekdahl’s mixed heritage and linguistics skills could have made her a corporate star. Instead, she’s a hostess in a high-end Tokyo bar, catering to businessmen who want conversation, translation and flirtation. Easy money, no stress. Life is good—until she’s framed for the murder of a yakuza boss.

Trapped in rural Japan with the gangsters closing in, Kerry doesn’t stand a chance. Then help arrives in the menacing form of Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude, a lot of secrets, and a mission she doesn’t understand.

Kerry doesn’t get involved with dangerous men. Then again, she’s never had one on her side before. And the big, taciturn fighter seems determined to save her life, even if they rub each other the wrong way.

Then her friends are threatened, and Kerry has no choice but to return to Tokyo and face the yakuza. Where she learns, too late, that the muscle man who’s got her back could be poised to stab it.

Warning: Contains graphic violence (I’m not kidding about this), swearing, and implied sexual abuse.


Non Stop Till Tokyo comes out on 29 April from Samhain. Next time, some cool stuff about Japan, plus a link to some good music. I feel almost modern.

Self promo, bribery and free stuff (a post about me)

I hate self-promo. So do you. Therefore, be warned that this post is an update on me and what I’m writing/doing, rather than writing advice or publishing snark, and feel free to run away. (Although there’s a free story, if you make it that far.)

Big award nomination news

The Magpie Lord is a 2014 DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors) Finalist. This is totally the best possible name for an award and I am delighted and honoured. Even better is that it’s up there with Joanna Chambers’ wonderful Provoked, which is one of my top three of last year. DABWAHA is run by Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, two of the best blogs, so this is a big deal and I am very thrilled.

There are several rounds of voting starting 18 March, and apparently it’s kosher for me to offer bribes. Cool! So stay tuned for shameless offers of…something. Feel free to suggest what in the comments. Not money, or my children, otherwise I’m game. I’m thinking a free short story, open to suggestions as to what you’d like to see, or I’ll come up with something next week.

Remnant (free story!)

I’m a big fan of Jordan L Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series, occult mystery/romances set in 1890s America. As it goes, I’ve written a couple of stories in that time period myself, featuring Simon Feximal, a British occult detective, and his lover/narrator Robert Caldwell. Therefore, once Jordan’s characters decided to head to Egypt via London for W&G book 4, it all came together like peaches and cream. Or, more accurately, like the Titanic and the iceberg.

Remnant (cover once again designed by ubertalented Susan Lee) is a mystery starring all four occult investigators: Simon, Robert, Whyborne and Griffin. Jordan and I wrote it in alternate chapters, with a lot of transatlantic evil cackling, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. It’s available on Smashwords and ARe right now, and it’s free, so dig in.

Non-Stop Till Tokyo

And now for something completely different: I have a contemporary romantic suspense thriller coming out in April. Kerry is a hostess in a Tokyo bar, drifting along in a sea of generous tips, until she is framed for the murder of a yakuza boss. She’s soon trapped in rural Japan, running for her life – and the one man who’s got her back may be poised to stab it.


Non-Stop Till Tokyo is a bigger book than my published stuff to date, and my first contemporary, and my first het romance, and and and. Very different from what I’ve published to date, but what the heck, it’s nice to try something new! I’m happy with it, and I dearly love the cover by Angela Waters.

Think of England

My next m/m offering, Think of England is an Edwardian pulp adventure with derring-do, stiff upper lips, country-house parties, shameless homage to Victorian and Edwardian adventure fiction, and a bit of social subversion going on. More on this one nearer the time.


Again, the cover is gorgeous, this one Erin Dameron-Hill.

Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies 3)

I’m delighted to say that I’ve signed the third book in the sequence that started with The Magpie Lord. Flight of Magpies, to be published by Samhain 28 October, brings back Stephen and Lucien. This time they’re in trouble with old enemies, new enemies, and unsuspected enemies. Which is a nuisance, because they’re having quite enough problems with their friends…


Current projects include: A historical story for a charity anthology. More Simon Feximal stories. Think of England 2. But first, another story set in Magpie-world, starring a secondary character from Flight of Magpies who pretty much demanded his own book as the price for not stealing that one. This book is writing itself so far, having elbowed its way to the front of the queue rather than waiting its allotted turn. This is typical of the character in question. Watch your pockets.

Oh, and I should have a proper website very soon. Woop!

Normal unpromo service will be resumed next time. I’ve saved up plenty of sarcasm.

Free Magpie Lord short: The Smuggler & the Warlord

So, as promised in the last post, a free short!

The delightful people at the Blog of Sid Love interviewed me the other day, since A Case of Possession, the sequel to The Magpie Lord, is out in Jan. There were lots of questions about backstory, one of which was a request to expand on the mention of a warlord from Crane’s past. (This plays a small part in Case of Possession but the eagle-eyed may pick up a mention in Magpie Lord as well.) So I decided to write a snippet about that.

And, because I [became fascinated with exploring my characters’ backstory / can’t shut up] (circle one), and also because I wanted to have a go at Merrick’s point of view, this snippet  turned into a thousand word scene. Which is now up for you to read right here as ‘The Smuggler and the Warlord’. I hope you enjoy it! 

I posted previously on the topic of teasers and backstory, when to reveal details and when to leave them for the reader’s imagination, and there was some really interesting discussion. In this case, I decided to reveal and expand. I’d love to hear your thoughts!