July 2020 Update

July was fairly sedate, as far as work goes. I completed a novel-length project – which I still can’t talk about, unfortunately – as well as another short story, titled “Cheyne Walk, 1985”. It’s a Royal Occultist story…of sorts, though perhaps a bit darker than the usual entries in the series.

I also did some lore work for Hi-Rez Studios, and made notes for a project I’ll be working on later this year. And I started work on a new Baron Vordenburg story, tentatively titled “Heart of Ice”, which sends the Baron to the wilds of Thunder Bay in pursuit of a cannibalistic spirit.

Speaking of the Royal Occultist, I released a new story in the series, “Scholar’s Fire”, on Curious Fictions this month. Set in 1666, it finds John Cadmus, servant of Rupert, Duke of Cumberland, hunting a fiery salamander through the streets of London, while the city burns.

Like “A Tiger’s Heart, A Player’s Hide” (2016), it features a past Royal Occultist, and builds on some previously mentioned background for the series. I can’t say whether there’ll be any further John Cadmus stories in the future, but I wouldn’t mind returning to him under the right circumstances. “Scholar’s Fire” is available for free to subscribers, and $2.00 for everyone else.

And last month’s Curious Fictions story, “Elizabeth on the Island”, got a nice review courtesy of Track of Words. Why not go check it out? If it perks your interest, the story is available to read for free, for subscribers and non-subscribers alike.

I’ve also posted several new chapters to The Whitechapel Demon, the first Royal Occultist novel. There are now nine chapters available for subscribers to read for free. Non-subscribers can read the book – including forthcoming chapters – for the low price of $6.00. You can check out the whole thing at Curious Fictions.

And that’s about it for this month.

June 2020 Update

June has been the busiest month of the year so far. Besides completing a few more short stories, I’ve started work on a new novel-length project – one which I can’t say anything about at the moment, sadly.

Black Library released the conclusion to my Fabius Bile trilogy, Manflayer. It’s available in the usual places, including Amazon, AbeBooks, Audible, et al. This one is a bit bittersweet for me, as it’s not only the final book in the trilogy, but also my final book for Black Library. I’ve been writing for Black Library since 2010, and while I’ll miss it, I’m excited to see what new projects the next decade brings.

This month also saw Belanger Books release both volumes of Sherlock Holmes & the Occult Detectives. My story, “The Ironwood Wardrobe”, is included in Volume 2, and finds an elderly Holmes turning to the Royal Occultist for help with a mystery involving a child’s disappearance and the eponymous bit of furniture.

On the subject of the Royal Occultist, I started posting chapters of the first novel, The Whitechapel Demon, to Curious Fictions this month. Four chapters are now available for free to subscribers, with further chapters due every Friday.

Also available on Curious Fictions this month is “Elizabeth on the Island”. This story first appeared in 2011, in the Innsmouth Press anthology Candle in the Attic Window. I think its one of the best stories I’ve ever written, even today. Its available for free, both to subscribers and casual readers alike.

Besides work, I’ve been reading quite a bit – mostly nonfiction. Ioanna Iordanou’s Venice’s Secret Service is an interesting read, as is Tom Holland’s Millennium. I’ve also started digging into Thomas Asbridge’s biography of William Marshal, The Greatest Knight.

On the fiction front, I’ve been on a John Sandford kick, reading (and re-reading) a good many of his Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers novels. Sandford has long been one of my favourite writers, and I consider his books my go-to comfort reads. I’ve also recently started The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot, which I’m enjoying so far.

Other than work and reading, I’ve been engaged in some long overdue office cleaning. Primarily, this means stripping my old writing notebooks and removing the ideas I haven’t gotten to yet. For years I’ve shuffled my ideas and story notes from notebook to notebook, weeding out the ones I lost interest in, completed or gave away, but hoarding the rest.

If I were a dragon, I’d be sleeping on a pile of moleskine notebooks.

Anyway, in an effort to shake some of the dust off of these old concepts, I’ve decided to strip out the ideas I feel still have potential and tack them to the cork board above my desk. At the moment, there are over forty story ideas pinned to the board, but I’m hoping there’ll be fewer by this time next year.

Other than that, I’ve been thinning out my research materials. Pulling aside books that I no longer have a use for – or never really did – and boxing them up in preparation for the eventual reopening of the local charity shops. Lots of game manuals and military history books.

All of this is in an effort to streamline a creative process that I fear has become somewhat muddled over the past few years. Only time will tell whether it works.

May 2020 Update

May has been a month for maintenance, as well as writing. Besides completing the first drafts for a handful of short stories, I’ve begun a long-delayed clean-up effort, pruning all but the most essential information from the site in a bid to refocus it to something more professional.

I’ll gradually sift through the ephemera of the past eight years, and some of the pruned material will reappear, though not necessarily on this site. So if you can’t find a favourite post, don’t worry – it’ll probably be back.

Related to this refocusing effort, I’ve decided to dispense with my TinyLetter list. It’s been four months since I set it up, and not a month has gone by without some issue cropping up. So for the foreseeable future, my monthly updates will be hosted right here, starting with this one. I’ve also made all previous updates available on the blog, in a revised form.

Another change relates to my Patreon account. As I recently noted on Twitter and in last month’s update, I’ve become somewhat disenchanted with Patreon’s setup. As such, I won’t be updating my Patreon for the foreseeable future – though I won’t be dispensing with it entirely. If you are currently a patron, you should feel no obligation to maintain your pledge – though you have my most humble thanks for making it in the first place.

However, as I mentioned last month, I’ve set up a Curious Fictions profile, and so far I much prefer it to Patreon. I’ve posted a handful of free reprints already and starting the first week of June, I’ll be serialising the first Royal Occultist novel, The Whitechapel Demon, there every Friday afternoon.

Subscribers will be able to read it for free, while non-subscribers will be charged six dollars for the entire serial. Once The Whitechapel Demon is completed, I’ll serialise the sequel, The Jade Suit of Death, followed by The Infernal Express. Like The Whitechapel Demon, both will be free to subscribers and will cost non-subscribers six dollars.

In addition, I’ll be posting a short story once per month, also starting in June. Sometimes it’ll be a reprint, other times a completely new story, exclusive to Curious Fictions. Reprints will be free to read for subscribers and non-subscribers alike. Like the serials, new stories will be free for subscribers, and will cost non-subscribers two dollars apiece.

To sum up, subscribers can enjoy a new serial chapter every Friday, and a short story once a month. To subscribe, or read the free stories I’ve already posted, follow this link to my profile. If you’d like to be notified when I create a new story or post, make sure you follow my profile, and if you enjoy the stories, be sure to hit the ‘Like’ button. Every little bit helps.

April 2020 Update

 April has been a busy month, for reasons mostly unrelated to writing. Even so, I managed to find time to complete revisions on my forthcoming Legend of the Five Rings novel, Poison River, as well as the second Casefiles of the Royal Occultist collection, Hochmuller’s Hound.

I also started a handful of new stories, nudged some older ones closer to being done, and started working on an exciting new project that I unfortunately can’t talk about right now.

Of late, I’ve begun to rethink my participation in Patreon for various reasons. As such, I’ve set up a Curious Fictions profile, which does much the same thing as Patreon, but with fewer hoops to jump through on my end. I’m still weighing the merits of both, but if you’d like to check out my new profile, feel free – there’s two free stories up (both reprints, natch) for you to enjoy.

I was also interviewed recently about my forthcoming Arkham Horror novel, Wrath of N’kai, as well as my love for the Arkham Horror board game. Why not give it a listen? 

This month, Black Library released the anthology Warriors & Warlords, which includes my story, “Light of a Crystal Sun”. They also released the Space Wolves Audio Collection, which includes my script, “The Art of Provocation”.

I’ve started listening to The Folklore Podcast this month, which I recommend to anyone with an interest in folklore. It’s informative without being overly academic and the episodes are fairly short. Perfect for listening to while walking the dog, for instance.

Reading-wise, I binged on Lobster Johnson this month. I managed to pick up all five of the trades and read them one after the next. While they’re not the most complex of stories, there’s a good deal of depth there, especially if you’re a fan of Hellboy. That said, you can enjoy one without having read the other.

Also, Bosch came back for its sixth season this month so that occupied a lot of my free time. While I’ve never read the original novels, the show is exactly my thing. It does what it sets out to do very well, and without pretension. It’s as engaging as it is entertaining, and I can’t wait to go back and watch it all from the beginning. Needless to say, I recommend it if you haven’t given it a look.

March 2020 Update

With Poison River completed, I’ve turned my attentions to other projects this month. Most notably author’s notes and a new short story to fill out the forthcoming second volume of Royal Occultist stories, Hochmuller’s Hound.

I’ve also been working on a pitch for a new novel, and working on getting my Patreon site reorganised. I’d like to start putting up regular content for patrons, but that might mean switching over to a subscription model, rather than my current pay-per-post set-up. I won’t be changing anything anytime soon, whatever I decide.

Black Library just released my Kal Jerico short story, “Red Salvage”, as a digital short this month. I’ve also posted a new Baron Vordenburg story, “A Test of Fortitude”, to my Patreon. It’s free to read, for patrons and non-patrons alike.

After numerous suggestions by friends, I decided to check out Critical Role this month. I started with the second season, and I’m enjoying it so far. Watching people play RPGs is a bit like watching play-throughs of video games – I enjoy the sense of disconnect, however odd that sounds. Then, I am a bit of a hermit by nature.

I also binged season two of Kingdom this month. What a fantastic series – if you haven’t watched the first season, I highly recommend you check it out now. I’ve also been dipping in and out of the first season of Picard. I have a somewhat acrimonious relationship with Star Trek, but despite that I’m enjoying it. It raises some interesting questions about the utopia/dystopia juxtaposition.

Book-wise, I finished a few books, including Fighters of Fear: Occult Detective Stories, a hefty anthology of occult detective stories. I’d read some of them before, but a good many were new to me, and I suspect it’ll be a book I return to often.

February 2020 Update

 As with January, I spent most of this month working on the first draft of Poison River. I’m experimenting with a slower schedule this year – one big deadline at a time, and working on smaller projects in the evenings and on the weekends, if time and inclination permits. These include short stories and lore write-ups for Hi-Rez Studios’ SMITE.

So far it’s been a big improvement on my previous method of working non-stop all the time. As a result, I’m more satisfied with the work I’m doing, I feel a bit more in control of my schedule, and I’m feeling much less stress. I’ve even begun playing in a second RPG campaign and I might finally get a Warcry campaign up and running in the next few months. It’d be nice to have hobbies again.

Black Library released my novel, Kal Jerico: Sinners Bounty, this month. It was previously released as a limited edition last year, but it’s now available in hardback and digital format.

On a friend’s recommendation, I’ve begun listening to the Old Gods of Appalachia podcast, which is quite something. Equal parts influenced by Manly Wade Wellman and Laird Barron, it’s an engrossing story. I encourage you to give it a try, if you haven’t already. I also watched the 2018 Swedish horror film Draug. A bit slow for my tastes, but a great film nonetheless and fantastically creepy.

Book-wise, I recently finished Alan Baxter’s The Roo, which is perhaps the best demon-kangaroo story I’ve ever read. I also read Elizabeth Peters’ Crocodile on the Sandbank and Theodora Goss’ The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, both of which I enjoyed.

January 2020 Update

Most of my time this month has been occupied with the first draft of Poison River, a Legend of the Five Rings novel. In preparation for the project, I spent most of December getting to grips with the background for the setting. A new IP always provides its own challenges, and Lot5R was no different. I’ve also been working on pitches for several short stories, as well as a new novel and lore material for Hi-Rez Studios’ game, SMITE.

Black Library released my latest audio drama, Darkly Dreaming, this month. I also had a new short story, “Midnight in the House of Bats”, appear in the latest Cohesion Press anthology, SNAFU: Last Stand.

In addition, I have a number of short stories and several novels due out later this year, including Poison River and my Arkham Horror novel, Wrath of N’kai. More on those as and when they appear.

For my downtime this month, I’ve been enjoying the new podcast from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, Voluminous: The Letters of HP Lovecraft. Sean Branney and Andrew Leman present a highly informative and entertaining look at Lovecraft’s letters to and from his various correspondents. I highly recommend it, if you haven’t listened to it already. I’ve also been reading Dan Weatherer’s new collection from PS Publishing, The Tainted Isle, as well as Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.