All posts by Anne



And as Christmas approaches, we enter the season of #Shedvent, in which, from December 1st, the Shed opens to reveal a different surprise every day! Follow the hashtag on Twitter to collect them all…

And, for the bookish folk in your life, here are my top ten Christmas gift recommendations…

  1. Chocolate lover? Student of Life? Get this Chocolate Therapy app, and find out what your favourite chocolate says about you…
  2. Need a bit of magic in your life? Grimm & Co’s Novel Tea Box contains all kinds of magical goodies – including a copy of either THE BLUE SALT ROAD or  A POCKETFUL OF CROWS – your choice. And all the proceeds go to helping children’s literacy and creativity…
  3. Everyone knows that writers (and readers) flourish best on tea and cake. Botham’s of Whitby provide hampers to suit any budget. Look out for the terrific plum bread, and the phenomenal ginger brack… 
  4. These personalized pencils are great for the storyteller in your life – or for a favourite teacher…
  5. Why not offer a writer friend a professional assessment of their manuscript, synopsis or first 50 pages? 
  6. Or what about a custom piece of jewellery with their favourite inspirational quote?
  7. Of course, you could always give them a copy of our very own #Storytime CD – only available from this website. Four original story/songs, written and performed by me and the #Storytime Band..
  8. If you’re feeling flush, you could buy them a pair of Dickensian fingerless gloves (in luxurious cashmere, of course) for those long, cold days in the garret…
  9. Too polite to tell your friends and family to leave you alone? Let this existentialist doormat deliver the message for you.
  10. Or you could buy them a subscription to the Society of Authors, and help them invest in their future…Also:  This Christmas, BookTrust has launched a scheme to help give vulnerable children access to books. If you’d like to know more, check out this link… 


Out now! THE BLUE SALT ROAD, online and in bookshops.

“The Blue Salt Road is a tale of discovery, a story of entrapment, an account of terror and a poem of unconditional love. Joanne M. Harris is a wondrous writer who can spin the darkest tale and still leave room for hope. I was captivated by this story. I don’t usually do fairy tales but this one had me hanging on every word. I thought that usually the dark and gritty essence of a fairy tale was implied or hidden between the lines but not here. I was under the impression that this would be a charming love story but again I was very wrong.

Harris has created a tale that shocks to the core, that drives the reader to the conclusion with haunting yet courageous prose and leaves people like me unsettled by the capabilities of man. Harris has a deep appreciation for nature and that only serves to enrich the story telling. It immersed me fully into the narrative as Harris describes the sea life, the sea itself and the boats that sail on its surface.”

(Stuart, for Goodreads.)

Want to give a reader or writer friend a really special present? Grimm & Co are now stocking THE BLUE SALT ROAD and A POCKETFUL OF CROWS as part of their magical gift box! Details here – all proceeds go to Grimm & Co, helping to promote literacy, creativity,  and magic: changing the world, one story at a time…


…is out on November 15th! And doesn’t it look lovely…

The ocean has many voices. It sings in the voice of the pilot whale; the voice of the dolphin; the waves on the beach. It sings in the voice of a thousand birds; it cries in the wind that howls through the rocks upon the distant skerries. But most of all, it sings in the voice of the selkie; those people of the ocean clans that hunt with the seal, and dance with the waves, and, nameless, go on forever.

With cover art by Sue Gent and internal art by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this novella is an object of beauty as well as (I hope) a great story. I’ll be doing some readings and signings to celebrate its publication, but if you can’t get to one to get your book signed, I’ll be sending out a signed, dedicated bookplate to anyone who supports me on Ko-fi during the month of November. Just buy me a coffee, tell me to whom you’d like the dedication, and I’ll send one to the address provided by PayPal…


Happy October, everyone!

October is the month in which the reader’s heart turns to mulled wine, and hot chocolate, and pumpkin spice, and the chance to curl up under a blanket, by a fire, with a book that makes you dream of different worlds from the safety and warmth of your own hearth.

If distant countries make you dream, you can now buy copies of THE WRITER’S MAP, with chapters from me, Philip Pullman and many other wanderers through the landscapes of the mind. And if you’re starting to feel the cold, you can also pre-order copies of THE BLUE SALT ROAD, to be published this November. Or if your heart craves the comfort of audiobooks this autumn, I just recorded the introduction and the epilogue to the new audiobook, and from what I’ve already heard, I know it’s going to be fabulous…



Readers of my newsletter will already know something about this book, but it’s now official: I have moved from Transworld to Orion, whose Gollancz imprint have been publishing my fantasy books for some years, and they will be publishing THE STRAWBERRY THIEF in April next year. You can read more about it in this piece from The Bookseller.

THE STRAWBERRY THIEF is the fourth book in a sequence that began with CHOCOLAT, the last of which, PEACHES FOR MONSIEUR LE CURE, was published seven years ago. Why the long wait? Well, although it may seem that I move from one genre to another without much logic, my writing moves in a kind of elliptical orbit, visiting a number of satellites (fantasy, psychological thrillers, literary fiction) once every six or seven years. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes is one of those satellites, and I always feel particularly happy to find myself once more able to reconnect with Vianne Rocher and her daughters.

I’ll be posting the occasional extract for my supporters to read on ko-fi, and for those who subscribe to my monthly newsletter. We should have cover art soon, too, as well as some advance notice of events next year – so keep watching for details…



The first draft of the new book is finished at last, and I’m in that rare and strange area of uncertainty between drafting and editing where for once, there’s not much to do. The last #Storytime show of the summer was at Underneath the Stars last weekend – warmest thanks to everyone who was there. You were a terrific audience, and we enjoyed playing for you so much. If anyone has any pictures, I’d love to see them -in all the excitement I left my phone at home, and so I couldn’t take any…

So far, we have these – but any others would be greatly appreciated.

If you couldn’t make a show this year, don’t worry – we still have copies of the #Storytime CD, and we’re adding new events all the time, so watch the Events page for details…


And as the end of the new book finally swims into the light, I’m looking forward to a month of sunshine, festivals, music and stories.

The #Storytime Band and I will be performing at the Underneath the Stars festival on Sunday July 22nd, and at Goathlands on Saturday 14th. Get your tickets here, or look at the WHERE’S JOANNE? section on this site.

The #Storytime CD is selling briskly – thank you for all your orders, and for your terrific feedback so far. There are still some left – you can check it out here – and each one comes with a signed, personalized postcard from me.

Read a review of #Storytime here…

“Everything a progressive album should be… really liked that the production is very natural and there is room for dynamics to shine.” (Duncan Parsons, John Hackett Band)

#Storytime CD

The #Storytime CD is available at last!

A sampler of four unpublished storysongs, narrated by me, and performed by me and the #Storytime Band. Available only from this website, or at one of our events.

Want one? Find out more about it here…

I’ve also upgraded my Ko-fi account, which means that I’ll be regularly posting hitherto unseen material to my Ko-fi patrons.  That may include: excerpts from works-in-progress; writing tips; unseen photographs – plus I’ll be taking requests for contributions from my regular supporters. If you’d like to get on board, make suggestions or benefit from offers of signed stuff, just check out my page at Ko-fi…


In other news, my absurdly talented daughter has opened a website offering editorial, manuscript evaluation, synopsis evaluation and writing coaching services. If you need any of these, you might consider checking out her website. I know I’m a little biased, but she’s very good and very thorough (and she has been well taught…) Check out her site at


The new book in my RUNE series is out at last! Thank you so much to everyone who has already reviewed it. If not, know that reviews on Amazon and elsewhere help authors immensely, as well as introducing other readers to books they might love…

Read more about it here…

And in other news…

Here’s the cover of my new novella, due on November 15, 2018, set in the same world as A POCKETFUL OF CROWS. Interior illustrations are by Bonnie Helen Hawkins: the cover design is by Sue Gent.

More about the book here…











May Eve

This Beltane, a few magical things to look out for!

One, you can pre-order THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI here, and claim your limited-edition Loki badge…

Two: I have a new short story out in this lovely book from Mantle Lane Press: find out more about ordering here…

Three: the full-length audiobook of CHOCOLAT is available from Orion audio, narrated by Yours Truly…

Four: I have a new short story, for audio only, in a collection from Audible, called BARD. Also featuring stories from Ben Okri and Sophie Hannah, you can find out more here, or subscribe to my newsletter to win a free download!

Springtime in the Shed

And now that Spring is here at last, the Shed is a hive of activity. First, the #Storytime band and I have been playing various venues around the region – the Coalville festival, Chesterfield Library Theatre and the Barnsley Lamp Room Theatre, to name a few – plus we’ll be playing more gigs over the next three or four months. (See the Events page for dates are they become available.) Here we are in the Lamp Room, where we performed the whole of A POCKETFUL OF CROWS (the 40-minute, full-length version) for the very first time. Thank you so much to everyone who was there – you were such a warm, responsive and welcoming audience – and after all your cheers and applause, we might even dare play it again someday…

This month also sees the publication of RUNELIGHT in paperback, and, for the first time ever, the full-length, unabridged audiobook of CHOCOLAT – read by the author! It’s the first time I’ve read a full-length audiobook myself, so let me know what you think. If you like it, I may consider recording another…

Also: the proofs of THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI are out now. If you subscribed to last month’s newsletter, you will have had a chance to win one, but don’t worry if you haven’t. There will be other opportunities to read ARCS and review copies. Just check out Goodreads and Twitter for giveaways; and, as always, be aware that pre-orders are very important to authors. They help them hit the bestseller lists – and that means more chance of publishers commissioning more in the series!

First Day of Spring – ha!

And the spring is in with an icy blast of snow and ice from the Russian steppes, which is interesting, as this week my daughter is moving to Moscow. I guess this is Nature’s way of making me feel connected, although honestly I’d settle for a nice furry hat and some snow boots. However, the weather has forced me to spend more time than ever in the Shed (which is by far the warmest place at draughty Chateau Harris), where THE STRAWBERRY THIEF is moving slowly forwards, the proofs for THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI have been sent off and I’m in the process of finishing  reading the last of the Betty Trask Prize entries AND judging a Fragrance Foundation scent award, which involves me trying on dozens of numbered scent samples and  putting them into categories. Basically, all my favourite occupations rolled into one, with the extra bonus of copious amounts of tea and biscuits

(of which the Shed always has an emergency supply).  Last week I was in London, recording the new unabridged audiobook of CHOCOLAT. I’m hoping it will come out next year to co-incide with the 20th anniversary of the novel’s publication – and we’ll be celebrating in some other ways, too.  I know that  some of you have been waiting impatiently for this audiobook – the rights were sold for peanuts many, many years ago, and I’ve only just managed to get them back. If you enjoy this one, I might have a go at recording BLACKBERRY WINE next.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to my ko-fi account, which has now raised nearly 50% of its projected target! As a result, the #Storytime CD is now in production, and the band and I will be selling copies as we tour this spring. Check out the Events page to find out where we’ll be. And Bonnie is hard at work on a series of stunning illustrations for THE BLUE SALT ROAD, which I’m hoping we’ll see published in October…

Meanwhile, there’s always the newsletter, which this month will give you a chance to win a proof copy of TESTAMENT, as well as giving you a glimpse of an extract…


It seems as if January has passed by in a blur. Lots of things are happening (more details in the newsletter, if you’d like to subscribe to updates): including progress on THE STRAWBERRY THIEF, which is turning into quite a strange, dark tale, and lots of work with the band on what we are now calling the CROW SUITE (not just one storysong, but a whole set of them, based on A POCKETFUL OF CROWS.) If things go well with the Storytime CD, we might think about recording it, but right now you can only hear the music is you come to one of our shows. Bonnie is hard at work on pictures for the new novella, which for the moment I’m calling THE BLUE SALT ROAD. And the good folk at Gollancz are putting together my tour for THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI, which will be coming out in May, so it’s going to be a busy year! Charles Vess has been working all last year on illustrating the anniversary edition of EARTHSEA, but has promised that he’ll start work on HONEYCOMB this year, which hopefully should give us a publication date of autumn 2019 – yes, I know it’s frustrating to have to wait, but that’s the price we have to pay if we want the best…

And speaking of the best, here’s another of Bonnie’s crows. She’ll be drawing one of these a week, so keep your prompt stories coming.  (600 words or less, remember!) You can send them to: with the tag “52 CROWS.”


Happy New Year!

Happy new year, everyone! May 2018 bring you what you want, what you need and most of all, what you try for –  be that a fitter body, an enquiring mind or even a finished manuscript! Here in the Shed I’m already at work on my new year’s resolutions – one of which is to meet my July deadline for delivery of the new book (from which I’ll be posting the odd work-in-progress extract to those who receive to the newsletter, so click on to subscribe if you’d like to know more); plus the completion of some other plans that I hope to develop shortly.

Some of them are musical – and fans of #Storytime should be able to see me and the band perform some of the new material themed around A POCKETFUL OF CROWS sometime in Spring, as well as being able to buy the new #Storytime CD from venues (and of course, from the website).

I’m also judging the Betty Trask Prize again this year, so expect lots of excited updates (and lots of new books on my Goodreads page).

Meanwhile, love, joy and peace for 2018: and here’s the view from the Shed today, so keep warm, live in hope, and above all,  happy reading!

Also: How terrific is this? Bonnie (my brilliant illustrator for A POCKETFUL OF CROWS) is launching this challenge to herself, to post a new crow drawing every Monday for the whole year. She needs all the support she can get, so please send your crow-related stories (max 600 words) to I’ll start you off with one of mine, first written live on Twitter…

Week 1:

The Crow Who Swallowed The Moon.

There once was a crow who delighted in bright and shining objects. A copper coin; some broken glass: a spoon from the castle kitchens. Jewellery, when she could find it; a diamond pin from a lady’s hair; a ring from a dressing-room table where a maid had left the window ajar. The crow would take these things and hide them, high in the boughs of an ancient oak, and there she would perch on a nearby branch and admire all the things she had stolen.

One night, the crow saw the full moon reflected in a water-trough. She flew down to collect it, but every time she tried to pick up the moon’s reflection, ripples obscured the silver disk, and it vanished into the water.

But the crow was not deterred. She told herself that the shining disk must be somewhere in the trough, and so she set herself the task of drinking all the water. It took all night; and by the time she had emptied the water-trough, the moon had set, and the rosy dawn was shivering on the cloudline.

The crow looked at the empty trough. “I must have swallowed the disk,” she said. Disappointed and dismayed, she told her friends, the other crows, hoping for their sympathy. But they all laughed and mocked her. “That was only the moon,” they said. “You fool! To think you believed you had swallowed it!”

The crow, feeling foolish, fled to her tree to escape the sound of their laughter. There, she sat on her favourite branch and looked over her treasures. But the coin, the ring, the silver spoon, the pin, the piece of broken glass – none of these things could compare with the moon, reflected in the water-trough.

Below her, on the ground, she could hear the other crows laughing and mocking her. “What a fool!” the crows all cried. “She really thinks she swallowed the Moon!” The crow felt very miserable.

Just then a bluebird flew onto the branch. “What’s wrong?” she asked. The crow told her tale. The bluebird listened attentively.

“But how do you know they’re right?” she said at last, when the crow fell silent. “They never saw you swallow the moon. They could all be mistaken.”

This had never occurred to the crow, who believed in the rule of the majority.

“Do you really think so?” she said.

The bluebird, who was known throughout the Nine Worlds as an optimist and a dreamer, said: “Why not? If you believe it, who’s to say that you are wrong?”

And so the crow, feeling much cheered, sat on her branch and waited for night. Below her, the other crows still mocked: “Where is the moon? Where is the moon?” But there was no moon that night: the clouds were thick and heavy.

“The little bluebird was right,” thought the crow. “In my haste, I swallowed the moon.” And though she was pleased, she felt anxious, too, for all the nocturnal creatures for whom the moon meant life or death.

“I must return it to the sky,” she said. “But how?”

Above her, the clouds raced and tumbled.

“Dogs howl at the moon,” thought the crow. “Perhaps I can try to do the same.” And, opening her beak, she began to croak as loudly as she could, to drive the moon back into the sky.

For a long time, nothing happened. Then, just for a moment, through the clouds, the moon came out and winked at her.

The crow was very much relieved. “I did it!” she said. “I saved the moon!”

And every night after that, although the other crows still laughed and mocked, the moon would show her gratitude; and every night would shine upon the treasures that the crow had kept: the coins, the ring, the diamond pin; the spoons; the piece of broken glass.


Christmas and the New Year

Authors don’t really get holidays as everyone else understands the term. On some level or another, an author is always thinking about the next book, and the next one, even though they may not actually be writing it – and as it happens, I’m doing both: I always find this time of year unexpectedly good for ideas, possibly because I rather enjoy escaping to the Shed when everyone else is baking, going to parties and buying Christmas presents. So shoot me: I’m a hermit. And if you’ve sent me a Christmas card, thank you, and I’m sorry (again) for not sending one in return: I seem to have forgotten (again) to get organized in time for Christmas.

On the plus side, however: I’ve finished the edits to the new novella (a selkie story, based on Child Ballad 113, due out next October), which Bonnie will be illustrating. I’ve copy-edited THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI, which should be hitting the bookshops in spring, and I’m 50 pages or so into a new book about Vianne Rocher and Lansquenet, which I’m calling THE STRAWBERRY THIEF, and which I’ve promised to deliver a first draft of by July 2018. No pressure there, then. Oh, yes: and I’m co-writing an original musical with the lovely Howard Goodall: (working title, UNBREAKABLE; excitement level 11/10), a project still in its infancy, but too much fun to hide from you all. Watch this space for more as it happens, or subscribe to my newsletter, where I’ll be posting updates and pictures of various projects as they develop, as well as holding regular giveaways and competitions.

Meanwhile, the Storytime Band and I are building a tour schedule for 2018, during which we’ll be playing some new stuff, some of it from A POCKETFUL OF CROWS. I’ll be posting the dates, as well as tour dates for TESTAMENT OF LOKI, as soon as the Christmas juggling act is over: my daughter is here for the holidays, and I’ve promised not to stay in the Shed all the time, so in between movies, and mince pies, and presents, and such, I’ll try to keep on top of it all. My excellent PA retired last year, and I’ve been trying to do her job as well as my own (which is why my efficiency is reduced, though not my enthusiasm). I’m relying on you all to tell me if there’s something I’m not doing right: website maintenance isn’t my forte, and I don’t want you to feel neglected. So –

Merry Christmas to you all, and a happy, healthy 2018: and here’s a picture of the Kid, hair newly-purple, helping us to trim the tree: a tradition we’ve managed to maintain every year since 1993…


And here it is, Hallowe’en, bringing with it A POCKETFUL OF CROWS, which has already has tremendous write-ups from reviewers and bloggers. Thank you so much if you were among the many readers and reviewers who wrote to me to express their thoughts on the book: you make my day every time, and I’m touched by your love and enthusiasm.

Bonnie sends her thanks, too: it’s her first experience as an illustrator, and it’s been a bit of a learning-curve for her, but her illustrations are lovely, and add so much to the story. She is currently selling special prints, signed by both of us, on her website right here, so if you like them, do please check them out.

As it happens, this book has been a first for me, too: I’m narrating the audiobook (here I am in the studio) – so if you’d like me to read you a four-hour bedtime story, this may be your opportunity…

Otherwise, I’m working hard on the next couple of projects – including a musical project which I’m really excited about. More about this as it develops, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Till then, here’s a Hallowe’en picture of Vlad, looking effortlessly seasonal…

Storysong: A Pocketful of Crows

The Travelling Girl.

Long ago and far away, there lived a girl of the Travelling Folk.

Her people lived in the woods, and the glens, and had not a name between them. They lived free of care, and when they chose, could travel into a bird or a hare, and live wild, watching the Folk from afar.

The travelling girl loved to watch the Folk. Their ways; their lives; their villages. As a vixen, she would rob their store-rooms and their henhouses, and linger in their doorways, growing ever more curious. As a thrush, she would sing by their doors, bringing them luck and prosperity.

One day, when the blood was hot in her heart, she saw a young man of the Folk riding through the village. He was a fine young nobleman, and travelling into a hawk, she followed him to his castle. Then as a tabby cat, the girl followed into his bedroom, and watched him, purring, as he slept, and very soon, she was in love.

The others of the travelling folk tried to warn her that nothing good could come of this. But the girl was stubborn, and would not hear.

Travelling into a cat, or a dog, she sought the young man’s attention.

Travelling into a songbird, she awoke him at dawn every morning.

And then at last, in despair, she broke the most ancient rule of the travelling folk, and came to him one night as herself. Naked, soft and brown, she came to the young man as he slept, and gave herself to him, heart and soul, and finally was content.

The young man was bewitched and enthralled. For a month, he and the travelling girl were together every night. Every day, she came to him from the woods and the mountains, and told him the tales of her people.

“But what shall I call you?” he would say, for the travelling folk have no names.

“A named thing is a tamed thing,” she would reply, and soar into the sky as a lark, and come down laughing and filled with love.

“Very well, I shall name you,” he said, and whispered a secret name into her ear, so that the girl was tamed and kept to human form by the love of her man.

For a while, the girl did not care. But once the summer had run its course, she found her love growing distant. He started to miss their meetings in the woods and in the glen. And then, one day, she saw him with a girl in the village: a milk-white, blue-eyed, buttercup girl with not an ounce of wildness.

The travelling girl was stricken to the heart. But she could no longer travel now, or try to escape her sorrow.

And so she went to the oldest and wisest of the travelling folk: who lived as an ancient hawthorn tree at the edge of a fairy glen. And she begged for the return of her heart, and wept for the loss of her powers.

The ancient of the hawthorn tree took her time in responding.

Finally, she told the girl: “The only way is to take back your name, and to silence him forever. And then you must dance upon his grave nine times in the moonlight, and then your gifts will be returned, and you will be free.”

And so, the girl made a powerful charm, and bound it with silk and starlight.  With secret runes she sealed it, and carved it into a river-stone, and placed it under the pillow of her faithless lover.

And when he was dead and buried in the village graveyard, she danced on his grave in the moonlight, and travelled into a snowy owl, and flew away, screeching, into the night; and was never seen or named again – not by the Folk, or by anyone.


A Pocketful of Crows

I was the madcap Queen of May

Daughter of the wild, wild rose,

I was the hare, the fallow deer

Upon the heath, the flight of crows.


I was the child of summer’s day

I was the child of blackthorn spring

I was the child of autumn moon

I was the child of Winter King.


And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

A pocketful of promises, a crown of summer rose

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful of crows


You were the son of noblemen

Your line, my love, was old and proud

You wore the crest of your father’s kin

You had a name, and you spoke it loud.


Mine was the colour of the dawn

Mine was the sound of falling snow

Mine was the dance of circling stars

A name that you could never know.

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

A pocketful of promises, a crown of summer rose

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful of crows.


And so you named and bound me fast

In love, you said, love that would last

As long as you drew breath, you said

A love as strong as Death, you said.


Your love it lasted till the rose

Had dropped its petals, one-by-one.

It lasted with the cuckoo’s song

It lasted almost summerlong.


And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

A pocketful of promises, a crown of summer rose

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

And you gave me a pocketful, a pocketful of crows.


And then you found another girl

With hair like silk and skin like pearl

You gave her peaches, ripe and sweet

You laid your fortune at her feet.


And so I said: “Take back my name

Let me be wild and free once more.”

But I could not give back my name

Until the world was free of yours.


And so I took a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

A pocketful of vengeance, a crown of thorn and rose

And I gave you a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

And I gave you a pocketful, a pocketful of crows.


And then I danced upon the green

Around the winter hawthorn tree

And I became the Carrion Queen

Alive, and merciless, and free


And then I went into the sky

And in a snowy owl, I flew

And ate the hearts of faithless men

Of faithless men, my love, like you.


And I gave you a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

And I gave you a pocketful, a pocketful of crows

And I gave you a pocketful, a pocketful, a pocketful

And I gave you a pocketful, a pocketful of crows.