Archive for June, 2017

Bye Bye Spellchasers! Right, what’s next…?

The final book in the Spellchasers trilogy has now gone to the printers. I can’t make changes to it, ever again. I can’t change the little things, like commas, and I can’t change the big things, like who wins the battle at the end. The book is finished. It’s not mine any more, it’s very nearly yours instead.

(The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat is published in mid-August, and if you want to hear me chat about it before it’s even in the shops, come and see me on the first day of the Edinburgh Book Festival. And if you want a really early copy, check out this competition.)
So, how do I feel right now? Now that I’ve said goodbye to Molly, Innes, Beth, Atacama, Theo, Corbie, Mrs Sharpe, Estelle and Snib…

I feel sad. This trilogy has contained lots of my favourite characters, and lots of my favourite magic, chases, and fights. I might never write about Molly, her friends and her enemies again. I’ll read the books out loud at author events, but I won’t be able to change the outcome, or tweak the dialogue, or suddenly change my mind about a moment of magic. So, saying goodbye after years of writing this trilogy is sad.

But I also feel relieved. Writing a trilogy has been a huge challenge, much harder than anything I’ve ever written before. and I got to the end! And I think it worked! (Though honestly, I won’t know if it really has worked until I hear from readers…)

And I’m exhausted. Writing three novels containing four stories (one story per book, and one story arching over the whole trilogy) has been extremely tiring. I’ve had to hold the whole story – more than 150,000 words – in my head at once, which hasn’t left much space for anything else! And publishing the books at six monthly intervals has been an interesting and energy-sapping experience…

But I’m also excited! I’m excited because I want to know what you think about how I decided (or how Molly decided) to end the story. I want to know what you think about the new characters I introduce in Witch’s Guide. I want to know what you think of the biggest battle I’ve even written. (Actually, maybe I’m nervous about all of that, rather than excited…)

But there’s something else I am genuinely excited about:

What’s next?

This trilogy has been the main story in my idea for years. For YEARS. And now it’s finished. So, what will I write next?

That’s not an easy question to answer. I’ve spent more than 4 years writing and editing the trilogy. I’ve never spent less than a year on a novel. So whatever I decide to write next will be a huge chunk out of my life. And whatever story I decide to write next, that decision will mean not writing lots of other ideas. So it’s a very hard decision to make.

not an ad for a stationery shop - all the notebooks I'm scribbling ideas in right now

not an ad for a stationery shop – all the notebooks I’m scribbling ideas in right now

I have lots of ideas for novels. Some of those ideas arrived in my head years ago, and have been waiting patiently for me to finish the Spellchasers trilogy. At least one idea arrived while I was editing Spellchasers (just like the idea of a curse-lifting workshop rose out of a subplot in the Fabled Beast Chronicles). And I’m planning to allow myself a few months free of deadlines, in order to simply read and think and play with ideas, so perhaps the perfect idea hasn’t yet arrived in my head.

There are lots of things I love about writing (and this bit – finishing a story, and passing it on to readers – is one of the best bits.) But my favourite thing of all is the process of an idea coming to life: a story starting to grow and develop and spark and bounce and fill my head. The first few pages of a new book, the first few lines in a new character’s voice. The first time I see the journey ahead, the paths that this new story could take me down. I love finishing books, but I love starting new ones even more.

So ‘what’s next?’ is never an easy question. But it is the most exciting one.

Ultimately, I always end up writing the story that demands to be written, about the characters who just won’t leave me alone. So, I think I’m going to sit quietly now, and listen, and find out what story is shouting the most interesting questions in the loudest and most intriguing voices…

In the meantime, if you want a chance to read Witch’s Guide before anyone else, here’s a competition to win an early copy.




Archive for June, 2017

The pictures you create when you read – a Spellchasers competition

When I chat to readers about the books I write, I often mention the joy of working with wonderful artists like Cate James and Philip Longson, and the privilege of seeing the stories I’ve written come to life in their illustrations.

But then I admit that the pictures I love most are the pictures I never see. The pictures inspired by the novels I write. The pictures that you, the readers, create in your own heads as you read the Spellchasers trilogy or the Fabled Beast Chronicles or Mind Blind or Rocking Horse War
I can’t draw. Not at all. If I draw a cat, I draw it from the back, so I don’t have to attempt the face or the paws. (I can just about do ears…) So when I write a novel, I draw with words. I hope to draw pictures in your heads: a collaboration between my words, and your imaginations.

I’d love to see those pictures on paper, I’d love to discover what you see when you read about Molly shapeshifting or Innes galloping or Beth with her trees or Atacama by his pyramid.

And now I’ll get the chance to see those pictures! Because my publishers Floris are running a Spellchasers competition, with a prize of the full Spellchasers trilogy (including a very early copy of the final book, The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat) for the best picture of a character or a scene from the two Spellchasers novels so far. The winner will also get a print of their artwork (which is a splendid prize!) and all the shortlisted artists will get one of those early copies of The Witch’s Guide.

DonSpellchasersSeriesRGBJordi Solano has created wonderful covers for the Spellchasers trilogy, but you might imagine the characters differently, and you will have your own images of the monsters and magic and action that aren’t on the covers.

So, what will you draw?

Will you draw the dryad, the kelpie, the sphinx, the toad? Or Molly herself? (As a girl? Or a hare? Or shapeshifting between the two?)

Will you draw a baddie? A flock of mobbing crows, a hunting pack of nuckelavee, a circle of grey men, a line of mosaic warriors, or a warrior queen by a roaring fire?

Will you draw one of the magical locations? The Promise Keeper’s Hall, the witch’s farm, a Speyside pyramid, a cave, or Beth’s wood?

Whatever you draw, I’ll be fascinated to see what adventures the Spellchasers characters have in your heads and in your pictures, once they’ve left my keyboard! I’m really keen to find out what you see when you read!

All the details of the competition are here:
And the closing date is the 23rd of June.
Best of luck!