Category Archives: Uncategorized

Morning Cuppa: Letters Between Gentlemen

I’ve never found it easy to talk about my own books – not least because by the time one book comes out, I’m usually busy with the next one. And there’s that whole awkwardness thing about blowing ones own trumpet – the sense that drawing attention to things I do isn’t ok (some post should follow about women, manners and visibility). I am as a consequence of all of this, hugely grateful when other people undertake to talk about my books for me. It’s deeply reassuring to find that people are willing to, as well. So, here we go, a book review…

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s zealously zabutonous parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

Today you find us shamefacedly apologetic that we were not at home last Tuesday; the Great Lancastrian Frying Pan Race was afoot and our vile and persistent landlord threw us out before dawn threatening to feed us to his tuffs if we didn’t sell enough lemonade to make last months rent… well all I can say is February is a tightfisted month that slinks by far too quickly without giving a gentleman time to amass the means to pay his dues.

If you are unaware, The Great Lancastrian Frying Pan Race takes place annually to herald in the gruelling period of fasting and general abstinence from anything fun which Wizards tell us is essential to commemorate Wiz’s final capture and defeat of The Holy Child before he turned him…

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The Lost Library

Many years ago, before Hopeless Maine launched as a webcomic, we had a paper for the imaginary island – The Hopeless Vendetta, run as a wordpress blog. We were surprised by how interactive it became. Then things got busy, and we let it slide. This year, The Vendetta has been reborn as a community project and we’ve had contributions and collaborations every week for a while now.

This week, an unusually large and dangerous looking fish has beached (briefly) on the coast. Mark Lawrence is the kind of author you can easily find on the shelves of bookstores. We first met him before Prince of Thorns came out (I get book hipster points for that), we love his Broken Empire series. He’s always been very supportive of Hopeless, and for this week’s Vendetta, he adds to the life, or perhaps death of the island with this small tale…

The Hopeless Vendetta

By Mark Lawrence


Four walls, black with the memory of the fire that took the roof. Cold now. Even the stink of char is gone, rain-washed into the gutter. The building is haunted, naturally, how could it not be? What ruin that watches the world from dark windows is free of spirits? But the ghosts here are those of books. The phantoms of hundreds. Untold worlds and lives, riveted to ten thousand pages, each letter a black nail pinning to the page mysteries and marvels, all ready to unfurl in an open mind. They died with a crackle and a sigh and their ashes spiralled glowing into the dark skies of an all Hallows eve. Frogmire Morton built this place and filled it with row upon row of leather-clad tomes, wisdom rubbing worn covers with whimsy. Where they came from, and who wrote them, is perhaps as big a mystery…

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Step into Faerie

This is a very fine book that I want to get onto people’s radar. I’m in the process of reading it for the second time at the moment, and it’s going to be available for review soon, and for general reading this spring. It’s full of folk and faerie, landscape, magic, human cock-up, uncanny things, courage, challenge, love, friendship, questing… so, please saunter across and read the blog, and if you poke about in the blog site, there are more goodies to find, including an excerpt.

The Bardic Academic

A Contemporary Fantasy based upon PhD research into Fairy Traditions and Folklore of the Scottish Borders  – coming soon…

New Version Knowing cover large.jpg Cover by Tom Brown, photography by James Barke 2017

Janey McEttrick is a Scottish-American folksinger descended from a long line of female singers. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she plays in a jobbing rock band, The Jackalopes, and works part-time at a vintage record store. Thirty-something and spinning wheels, she seems doomed to smoke and drink herself into an early grave (since losing her daughter she’s been drowning her sorrows and more besides) until one day she receives a mysterious journal – apparently from a long-lost Scottish ancestor, the Reverend Robert Kirk, a 17th Century Presbyterian minister obsessed with fairy lore. Uncanny things start to happen… She and her loved ones are assailed by supernatural forces, until she is forced to act – to journey to Scotland to lie…

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By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root

One of the things I particularly like about author Melusine Draco is her willingness to look at the darker side of things. There can be a tendency to try and airbrush Pagan history, to sanitise us for reasons of both personal comfort and wider public presentation, despite all the evidence that the human history of magic is not all peace, love and rainbow unicorns.

Poisoning and witchcraft have long been linked, and one of the things the book does is to explore those connections and whether it’s a fair point.

Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root explores the use of poisons in magic and in healing. Often plants with the capacity to heal are potentially poisonous as well – with much depending on the quantity deployed. It’s something of an antidote to amateur herbalism as it really demonstrates how easily a person can get this wrong, and some of the anecdotal tales about herb use recommended by the internet is truly hair-raising!

This is not a book designed for people to use it as a herbal workbook. It’s a good reference book, and because it’s what I do, l read the whole thing flat out, cover to cover. It was surprisingly entertaining and readable for a text clearly designed for the greater part to be dipped in and out of. If you like this sort of thing, it’s exactly the sort of book to read. If you firmly believe that all herbs are benevolent and that nature is kind, this book is going to give you some serious headaches.

More about the book here –

If you like peering into the darker side, I can also recommend Melusine’s By Spellbook and Candle (hexing and cursing) –

First Flowers

Cat Treadwell was leading the way in Pagan blogging long before many of us even thought about giving it a go. Over the last year, she’s been quiet – rest of life issues – but its great to see her on the move again. I’m reblogging her today, she posts little inspiration pieces daily on this site so if you want a bit of an uplift in your inbox, do subscribe!

Drops of Awen

Thick fog this morning. Drizzle and greyness. Winter. 

I had to push to get work done at first. But as I got on with jobs, they seemed to become easier, more fun.

By afternoon, the fog had lifted. The sun appeared, and the sky brightened into blue. My heart began to lift. 

I can still see my breath, but it’s 5pm and still daylight. I don’t need as many layers of clothing.

Then, in our little grove, in the midst of a stand of trees past the badger setts, are the first snowdrops. Just one patch, with the rest not quite there yet – but those white heads are here again. They made it. 

Spring is on the way. We can lift our heads and breathe…

Imbolc blessings, my friends.

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Storytelling with Kirsty Hartsiotis

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Kirsty storytelling on many occasions now, I love how she physically embodies stories, She’s a really interesting and engaging performer. So, click through to the original blog post, and watch her in action!

Awen Publications

Kirsty Hartsiotis is one of the people working behind the scenes at  Awen. She was, recently, responsible for the wonderful cover design for A Dance With Hermes. Kirsty is a writer and storyteller, here are some examples of her work:

John Smith the Dragon Slayer of Deerhurst

The Woman’s Wraith’ at Stroud Short Stories

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Time Takes a Cigarette 1

This is a series of flash fictions, which I head the pleasure of hearing read out back in December. A wholly unpredictable piece of work, imaginative, beautifully written… I’m reblogging the first installment, there are 12 in all so do get in there and keep reading – you might want to grab a cup of something and save it for a break, but as the installments are short, it will not occupy a crazy amount of your time.

The Bardic Academic

1. Hogmanay. The Royal Mile is rammed to the ginnels. They’re wavering by the Waverley. Getting bolloxed by John Knox House. Friends. Loved ones. Strangers. Japanese students in fake ginger beards …

Source: Time Takes a Cigarette 1

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Hymn to an unexpected otter

An otter at a bus station

Is clearly in want of a punchline.


He might have been whimsy personified,

With top hat and cane, descending.

We knew he’d alight in Stroud,

The place is a byword for such fancies.


He might have been a metaphor,

Wild nature, back from the brink,

Dark pelt in yellowed street light,

Away to the secret urban stream.


The otter at the bus stop

Speaking to life’s absurdities,

Uncertainties, and little wonders

Before an elegant exit.


He may have been a God

In water resistant fur,

Sprung from the fabric of night

To re-enchant us all.


An otter at the bus station

Waiting for his punchline.

Probably three will turn up at once.


(This is based on something that happened – it was definitely a dog otter based on size, which is why I’ve gendered him, he was indeed very close to the bus station in Stroud, just passing through, as dog otters tend to do. We were very close, briefly, and it was wholly surprising.)

The Blind Fisherman sees the light of day.

“Could you just…?” And more often than not, yes I can. This is a story about wordy rabbits pulled from hats in the service of art. Things I have done for love and for the sheer joy of doing it – which I am increasingly finding is the only way I want to work… Do hop over to the original blog post for the lovely art.

The Moth Festival

This *may* not be as profound as the title suggests, but it has nice pictures, so stay with me dear reader, just for a while.


Hello again people (and others).

As some of you may know, some of Hopeless, Maine has been published before, but *this* time it is being published entire. That means, with the (rather important) prelude-The Blind Fisherman. We’re dead chuffed about that, and about our new publisher, Sloth Comics.

When Nimue and I started this story many years ago, we started in what is now, the middle-ish bit (but closer to the beginning) . Salamandra was already a young adult and looked like this.


Nimue wrote the script for the whole story, all the way to the end. Yes. This story does have a definite end. (Probably) Then, I was invited to be a guest at an anime con in Portland, Maine and I saw the power…

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Interview: Tom and Nimue Brown

With Hopeless Maine back out in the world this week, Tom and I did an interview about what we do and how and why we do it.


Dear Reader, when it rains it pours! 

Last week saw the release of a new urban fantasy series, and this week sees a new edition of one of the most interesting comics I’ve come across – Hopeless, Maine by husband-and-wife creator team Tom and Nimue Brown – sees the light of day, released by Sloth Comics.

Now, what is Hopeless, Maine you may wonder? Well, I will do a full feature later in the week, when it’s been released, so for now I’ll just give you a little teaser:

Hopeless, Maine is more than just a name: it is a place (an island, to be exact), a graphic novel series, a wealth of stories (told as well as hinted at); it’s a mythology of it’s own, even. Tom and Nimue have created a wonderful world – one which I myself have really only begun to explore – rich with myth…

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