Category Archives: News


Members of the Society of Authors, we have our annual AGM on November 17th.

Usually, only a hundred or so members choose to attend the AGM, but this year is going to be different. This year, we face a well-organized attempt by a relatively small group of members to take over the AGM and push through two resolutions.

The meeting is virtual, so you can attend by Zoom. You can also vote on resolutions by proxy as long as you do so before the 15th.

Before we start, this post is mine, and not an official SOA statement. But –

As members of our union, there are a number of important resolutions for you to look at during this year’s AGM, which will help shape the future of the organization. I urge you to look at them all, and especially at resolutions 6 and 7, submitted by a group headed by some prominent gender critical members.

You’ve probably noticed that this year, there has been a great deal of attention given to our little group by a (mostly hostile) media. Much of it centres on me personally, and much of what they say is typically misleading, incomplete or untrue. Most of it has been driven by social media, where for several years I have been the target of abuse and attacks by gender critical people. I believe that the two following resolutions come as a direct result of this.

Resolution 6 is an attempt to get rid of me as Chair because of my “documented behaviour and comments”, which I take to mean my statements on social media in favour of trans rights, as well as my support of the three writers of colour who received racist abuse in the wake of the Kate Clanchy affair last year.

Resolution 7 includes a demand for a commitment to free speech, which, though it may seem reasonable in principle, in this context shows a basic lack of understanding of what the SOA already does for free speech, and implies that there is bias against certain groups within the organization.

First, let’s have a look at this accusation of bias, which runs through the whole proposal. Some of the people behind these two motions have made it clear that they think that my personal opinions, as tweeted on my personal account, somehow make me unable to exercise impartiality in my capacity as SOA chair.

Okay. Let’s look at my personal opinions. I have a lot of them, and I tweet a lot. I’m a Remainer. I’m left-wing. I’m pro-choice. I wear a mask in public places. I support trans rights. I’m afraid of climate change. I hate racism in all its forms. I really like musical theatre, and (full disclosure) once unfollowed someone on Twitter for saying they hated Les Mis. But the thing I keep being accused of bias over is – you guessed it – trans rights.

This harassment by the gender critical lobby has been going on for a long, long time. Here’s Graham Linehan calling for my resignation as early as October 2020: in spite of never having been an SOA member, and clearly having no idea what an SOA chair actually does.

Two years later, it’s still going on. If you look at the list of people proposing these motions (and if you take a glance at their Twitter profiles), you’ll find some prominent gender critical voices there. And all this has become part of a right-wing culture wars agenda that sees me as part of “a contamination by the woke”,  as this blog post (one of many) typifies.

The way I see it, this targeting of the SOA is part of a wider attempt to force the organization to abandon its impartiality and to pander to the demands of the right wing, via the gender critical movement – demands that, in this case, amount to removing a democratically elected Chair, and effectively giving preferential treatment to people with gender critical beliefs.

I don’t think that having openly pro-trans beliefs is a reason to stand down as Chair. I don’t think that anyone would insist on this if I held any other belief – if I were Jewish, for instance. But having a trans son, and supporting his rights, is enough in the eyes of these people to justify this unfounded claim – a claim that either by expression my opinions, or by not supporting theirs, I have somehow “allowed” gender critical authors to be cancelled or to lose work, because of their gender critical beliefs.

This is utter nonsense. My Twitter is a personal account, like the rest of my social media. I don’t bring my clashes on Twitter into SOA meetings, or expect the SOA to defend me against criticism or abuse. Nor should anyone else: it’s not within the remit of the SOA to supervise social media, or to comment when authors disagree.

What the SOA is very good at is resolving contractual complaints. But anyone needing this kind of help needs to ask the SOA for help, not complain on social media that they weren’t offered any. If my car gets a flat tyre, I don’t complain to the management of my local Toyota garage that they didn’t help me – unless I’ve actually been there first. I wouldn’t expect them to look on social media to find out if I needed repairs. Why? Because what I say on Twitter doesn’t concern my local Toyota garage. For a start, they probably don’t follow me on Twitter.  And I wouldn’t expect them to intervene if someone on Twitter complained that I’d left my Toyota blocking their drive, or if someone had left a rude message on the windscreen. Because – guess what? It isn’t their job. They’re a garage, not The Batman.

So, what do I actually do at the SOA? Well, I chair the Management Committee. We deal with finances and strategy, prizes and grants. We help direct policy and, with the help of the SOA staff, determine how best to serve the members. We are not a political party, though we do lobby politicians of all parties on issues that concern our members. We do not debate “what makes a woman” because the SOA has 12,000 members, including trans people and gender critical people, and we want to serve them all. The gender critical lobby has – or so it seems to me – consistently refused to understand this. I have been asked repeatedly to debate with them on Twitter over trans rights. I have been threatened over my refusal to sign a petition that I felt legitimized JK Rowling’s comments on gender. I have received death threats and abuse. I have been told that as Chair of the SOA I must engage with this debate, and then, when I have expressed opinions, have been told by the same people that I shouldn’t have said anything. But here’s the thing. Free speech is for all, even in the case of those with whom you disagree. And a democracy treats people equally, regardless of their status.

The gender critical lobby seems also not to understand this. It may have the support of some very powerful and well-connected people, but that doesn’t make their voices any more important than those of our other members. That’s why the SOA remains neutral in disagreements between individuals, whilst still supporting the free speech of everyone concerned. I’m very sure that if my opinion had swung towards the gender-critical side, no-one would be trying to claim that I was biased now. And I think that where there has been prejudice, it has been directed at me, for exercising my right to a belief that a very well-connected group of people in the media feel I simply shouldn’t hold.

Please don’t see this an an invitation to attack these people on social media. Whatever they may have said about me, whatever lies and smears they have used to make their case, I do not condone attacks or abuse in my name. If you feel there is a legitimate complaint to be made about anyone, then please do so via the SOA, according to their Dignity & Respect policy, not on Twitter.  Twitter can be ugly, and things can quickly get out of hand there.

When I was elected to the Management Committee, I promised to concentrate on promoting diverse voices and ensuring that the SOA was an inclusive, fair and welcoming environment for every kind of writer. This current attack on our democracy by a vocal group of ideologues not only threatens that promise, but uses up valuable resources of time, expense and energy that would be better spent dealing with the needs of our members.

If you agree, please consider voting against Resolutions 6 and 7, either in person at the AGM, or by proxy.

Here’s the link to register:  

And here’s a cat eating a cupcake.

An award from Pink News!

I’m so happy and honoured to receive this award – Ally of the Year – from Pink News. It means so much to me to be welcomed by the LGBT+ community in this way. Thank you, everyone, for your support, your warmth and your acceptance…


The Shed Calendar

Finally, Bonnie’s Kickstarter page for the Shed Calendar has gone live!

Bonnie has worked incredibly hard on this project, which includes: a Shed every month, plus some wonderful artwork from Bonnie and an unpublished short story from me. You’ll get this lovely 2023 calendar, plus the chance to score some additional merch, including signed postcards and some of Bonnie’s original artwork…

We have 29 days to raise sufficient funds to make this project happen!

Join the Kickstarter campaign here!

Celsius 2022

I’m just back from the fabulous Celsius festival of SFF in Aviles, Spain. I had the most marvellous time talking to fans, old friends (and new ones). Thank you to Diego, Jorge, Cristina and everyone from the festival for inviting me; to all the readers for your marvellous welcome, and to my friends and colleagues for being such fantastic company. I hope I get the chance to come back next year!

And I’ve just announced my new novel, BROKEN LIGHT, due out in summer 2023. Proofs will be available to media in autumn, but until then, here’s a taste of what’s to come

RSL Summer Party

I’m delighted to be able to announce that I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature last night – thank you to everyone for your wonderful welcome, and for the chance to sign the register with Lord Byron’s very own (and very fancy) pen…

Spring Awakening

With the change of the seasons, I can feel myself starting to come back to life. I’ve finished the first draft of my new book, and started to write another: it will be a long time before it’s finished, but it’s good to plant something now, and to feel it growing. It’s an excellent time for making new plans and devising new projects; change is in the air, and hope: and the promise of adventure.

I’ve just begun to advertise live as well as online events for this spring and summer: check where I am to find out if there’s something happening near you!

I recorded a radio show about runes a few month ago: it airs this Sunday. Details here.

And A NARROW DOOR is preparing to come out in paperback on May 12th: you can pre-order a copy here.


Plus, the Storytime Band and I are playing live at Seven Arts in Leeds on May 21st, alongside the John Hackett Band. We’ll be performing A POCKETFUL OF CROWS, plus stories and songs from HONEYCOMB, and we’ll be joined by a new band member, Duncan Parsons on bass, so do please join us if you can!


Finally, after what seems to have been an interminable winter, spring is starting to appear. The deadline for my new book is creeping slowly closer, and though I still don’t have a title, I do have a few ideas. Bonnie and I are still working on the 2023 Shed Calendar project, and I’ll be touring from next month for the paperback of A NARROW DOOR. The Storytime Band is playing two venues in April, and we’ll hopefully be doing some recording this spring, too. And my TBR pile is filled with exciting things – all I need is the time to read them…

Summer dreams…

Literary Trip to the Southwest of France…

I know it seems kind of early to start thinking of summer holidays, but here’s a head’s-up on something I’ll be doing this July. It’s a guided, gourmet package trip to the Southwest of France, during which I’ll be talking about my Lansquenet books, and showing some of you around  the real-life places that inspired them.

Sound good?

To know more, and for booking details, click here.

On January 4th, 2022, A NARROW DOOR comes out in the US!

You can pre-order it online here

Read the Publishers Weekly review here

Or read more about the book here.

Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy it. Happy reading!


And here’s a bit of excellent news about a terrific new project that Bonnie and I have been planning. Listen to me explaining about it here – and make sure you sign up to Bonnie’s newsletter for updates on the artwork – including the chance to vote for what makes the final edit!

December in the Shed

And it’s starting to look a lot like December in the Shed: there’s snow in the air, and a scent of smoke, and a sense of expectation.

On Twitter, from December 1st, #Shedvent begins, with a little surprise or gift behind each door.

On Kofi, I’ll be posting a new chapter of my serial story every week, as well as a few little seasonal extras.

On Bandcamp, I’ve reduced the price of both STORYTIME and A POCKETFUL OF CROWS to a piffling £5 each, so there’s no excuse not to indulge.

On Amazon Kindle, CHOCOLAT is on offer at only 99p, but if you’re not into e-books, just check out this gorgeous new jacket design!

And if you’ve had a look at HONEYCOMB and decided how gorgeous it would look under a loved one’s Christmas tree, I’ll be sending out signed bookplates to anyone who would like one. Just buy me a coffee (or two, if you’re outside the UK) to pay for postage, e-mail me your address at – plus any name or message you’d like included – and I’ll pop one in the post for you.

Otherwise, I’ll be mostly hard at work in the Shed, surrounded by books, SAD lamps, blankets, hot water bottles and cashmere socks and fingerless gloves. Winter doesn’t stand a chance: I’ve got this.

And here, just for you, is my ultimate winter hot chocolate recipe, best enjoyed during the dark months, with all the sprinkles and whipped cream and brandy and marshmallows you can fit into one giant mug…

Recipe:  Vianne’s Spiced Hot Chocolate (serves 2, or 1 if you’re in the mood)

  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 hot red chilli, halved and seeded
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet (70 percent) chocolate
  • brown sugar to taste (optional)
  • whipped cream, chocolate curls, cognac or Amaretto to serve
  • Place the milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and chilli and gently bring it to a shivering simmer for 1 minute.
  • Grate the chocolate and whisk it in until it melts.
  • Add brown sugar to taste.
  • Take off the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes,then remove the vanilla, cinnamon and chilli.
  • Return to the heat and bring gently back to a simmer.
  • Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate curls or a dash of cognac or Amaretto.


Here comes November; and with the dying of the light, I’m bringing out my SAD lamps, my big jumpers and cashmere socks, and my favourite comfort-food recipes.

Here’s one: my easy chocolate cheesecake recipe, available, like all of my other recipes with Fran Warde, on the CBK app.

And this week I have a nice piece of news: I’ll be a guest on Radio 4’s DESERT ISLAND DISCS on November 7th: if you’re not able to tune in, you can find it in the archive.

Also, HONEYCOMB has been chosen by Publishing News as one of the best books of 2021! More details here.

Check it out on! Or find it here on Amazon UK (and don’t forget the audiobook, narrated by Yours Truly…)

Also, A NARROW DOOR has earned a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly; good news for my readers in the US, where the book is being published on January 4th.

Pre-order a copy here!

And I wrote a piece for Certain Age about the Shed – find it here!



And here comes October in its cloak of leaves, and I’m starting to think about warm slippers, hot chocolate and delicious things made with spices.

I’m also hard at work on my two works-in-progress – I have no idea which one will be finished first, but it feels like having two children, both vying for my attention. Plus I’m still waiting, five months down the line, for the results of the genetic tests which will tell me if Mr C is likely to be just a casual visitor, or a repeat offender. I know it’s not a priority for doctors right now, but I’m on the edge of my seat…

Last week I went back to live events in Ely, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Todmorden and Charleston – thank you so much to everyone who came. And there are more lined up for this autumn, including Murder One online – please check out my Events page to see if there’s one that suits you.

And if you can’t make a reading, don’t feel left out – here’s a seasonal recipe from my French cookbook on CBK: Vianne’s spiced hot chocolate, just like in the movie. Enjoy!



I always think of September as a time of new beginnings. Maybe that’s why I keep starting new projects. I’ve been working almost simultaneously on at least three things recently, including this one on ko-fi,  a companion-piece to HONEYCOMB, which I’m posting on a  chapter-by-chapter basis as I go along.

Looking to the future, I’m starting to take bookings for Storytime, mostly for next year, but there might be something this Christmas, too.

And it’s also a time I associate with going back to school – as an ex-teacher, I still always feel that urge in September to buy new diaries, notebooks, pencils and pens. Which is quite appropriate right now: the leaves are turning, the mists are setting in, the blackberries are ripe, and the world of St Oswald’s feels very close. I’m  starting to do in-person events for A NARROW DOOR, so maybe watch my Events page to check if there’s one you can get to.

And if you’re in a reading group, under Extras, you’ll find reading-group guides to A NARROW DOOR as well as almost all my books, including background, questions for discussion and recipes for themed snacks  and cocktails (because all books are better with snacks, right?).


You are cordially invited to attend



Formerly St Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys, we invite you to join us to celebrate our long-awaited merger with our sister school, Mulberry House.

We are now extremely proud to welcome both boys and girls to our forward-thinking Academy.

Take a tour around our magnificent new sports hall, the Gunderson Building. Pay no attention to the body on the site of the new swimming-pool; be assured it will have been dealt with by the start of Michaelmas Term.

Have a cup of coffee with the new Head, Ms. Rebecca Buckfast. Yes, she is a woman, but you shouldn’t underestimate her.

We look forward to welcoming you on:

Wednesday 4th August 2021

On Wednesday, we smash the patriarchy.

Click on the picture to know more!

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to invite you to our very first Open Day as a co-educational Academy. Those of you who first knew us as St Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys may wonder what such changes will bring to an institution that has barely altered since the sixteenth century.

But the past three years have brought us a number of difficult challenges. We have lost two Headmasters, one of whom was a personal friend. We have seen the name of our School dragged through the pages of the Press. We have experienced scandal, disgrace and even murder in our ranks.

However, all that is behind us now. The introduction of girls to the School has given us new opportunities. Opportunities for change. Opportunities to build over the decay of the past. Did I say decay? Well, yes. I suppose that old business is preying on me. Every School has its skeletons, just as every Head has their secrets. Mine are rather darker than most, and will, I hope, stay buried. But I think my ability to survive makes me a better Head. Don’t you?

To make progress, it is sometimes necessary to face the need for radical change. To tear down, before we can build anew. Our new motto, Progress Through Tradition, reflects our commitment to build our new School over the bones of the old one.

It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Besides, tearing down complacent men, their values and their monuments is what you might call a hobby of mine.

Yours faithfully,

Rebecca Buckfast



Pre-order A NARROW DOOR here!


I’m so looking forward to the release of A NARROW DOOR! Only four weeks to go – and just look at those glorious endpapers!

“A psychological thriller you can’t put down and an antiheroine you won’t forget.” (Harlan Coben)

“A masterful narrative voice, and a compulsive thriller from one of our greatest writers. I absolutely loved it.” (Alex Michaelides)

I devoured the whole thing – it’s the first proof I’ve ever read on my tiny phone-screen, because I couldn’t put it down! (Bridget Collins)

‘A Narrow Door’ is a compulsive journey through the dark places of the human mind, where memory, truth and fact melt away like mirages. It’s irresistibly readable, dark and brilliant with a masterful emotional punch. You won’t regret opening it, and walking through.  (Catriona Ward)

Read an introduction to the book here!

Pre-order the signed Waterstones edition here!

Can’t wait? Here’s the Kindle of Gentlemen and Players for only 99p….

Love audiobooks? This one’s narrated by Stephen Pacey and Alex Kingston…







Thank you so much to everyone who bought, reviewed or listened to HONEYCOMB – I really do appreciate all your comments and feedback.

Remember that the Storytime Band and I put some of the stories to music in our Storytime CD: you can buy a physical copy here, or download it from Bandcamp here


And just for you, here’s an unpublished story that could have made it into the book, but found its way somewhere else, instead. It’s called:

The Cat Child.

In the days of the reign of the Lacewing King, there lived a woman of the travelling folk. She had travelled very far, so far that she did not remember which land was the land of her birth. She had been many people: travelled under many names. And she had travelled into the skins of many different creatures, flying as an owl by night; running as a wolf by day. But secretly, she longed to find a place where she could settle down, and live in her own skin forever, and be just like other women.

This woman had two daughters, who travelled with her, wild as the wind. One was made from the feathers of a white-headed crow on a summer’s day; the other, from the footprints of a tabby cat in the fallen snow. One travelled as a mad March hare, and sang like a skylark, and laughed like the sea. But the youngest never travelled, or laughed, or sang, or even spoke at all.

Her mother said that this was because once, she had gone into a cat. And she had spent so long in that skin that part of her had never returned, leaving her with no memory, no voice, – and, some might say, no soul. But her mother loved her all the more, and forbade her to leave her skin again, for fear that this time, she would never come back.

And so, while her sister played as a hare, the second daughter would stay beside her mother, and watch, wide-eyed, as her sister grew in beauty and in courage. But she, the younger daughter, stayed just as she had always been: a child, with no language, no memory, whose only cry was the cry of the cat.

Time passed. The mother grew fearful of travelling, and tried to find a place to settle down. But there was never anywhere that seemed to be quite right for them. Time passed. One daughter grew up, and fell in love, and moved away. But the youngest one stayed just as she had always been; a wild thing, half-child, half-cat, fated never to grow up. But secretly the mother was glad, for a child that would never grow up would never one day leave her.

But the cat-child was not happy. Every day she would walk alone in the woods, and climb trees, and chase birds, and lie for hours in the sun. Every day she would dream of when she could be wholly in her skin. But her mother had forbidden her to ever travel like that again, for fear she would never return to her human form. And so she stayed obedient, neither one thing nor the other. Until one day a strange wild girl came to live in the woods by the village.

The wild girl was unlike anyone the child had met. Like her, she liked to walk alone, and climb trees, and chase birds. She too never spoke, or laughed, or sang, or played with the other children. But the mother was anxious, afraid that the wild girl would lead her daughter astray. And so she kept her in the house, and closed all the doors and windows. And when the wild girl came knocking, she said: “There’s no-one there. It’s only the wind.” And when the wild girl threw stones at the glass, the mother said: “There’s no-one there. It’s only a shower of summer hail.” And when the wild girl stood outside in the moonlight and called for her in her wordless voice, the mother would say: “There’s no-one there. Only the wolves in the forest.”

But the child knew that her friend was there. Watching through her curtains, she saw the wild girl standing there, waiting for her to come out and play. For three nights she stood there, waiting. For the first night, as a girl. For the second, as a wolf. And for the third, as a tabby cat that sat on the lawn in the moonlight.

And on the third night, the child climbed out of her bedroom window and went to join the tabby cat. Together they ran through the woods, and played, and hunted, the whole night long. And when dawn broke, the girl went back to her home in the village, and greeted her mother with a smile, and spoke to her for the first time –

And the mother wept, because she knew that her daughter had found her soul again, and that now she would grow like other girls, and one day fall in love, and leave, as her older sister had done. For the soul of a child is a wild bird, that always keeps on singing. And the love of a mother is like a cage, that may keep the bird from flying away, but can never stop the song.


June 3rd

It’s HONEYCOMB release day on June 3rd!

Follow my virtual indie book tour to reveal stories, interviews, special content and a piece-by-piece reveal of one of Charles Vess’ illustrations…

Want to hear an excerpt from the audiobook? You can listen here…

And there’s a competition on Instagram!

To celebrate the publication of the HONEYCOMB, the entrancing mosaic novel of original fairy tales from bestselling author Joanne M. Harris @joannechocolat and legendary artist Charles Vess, @gollancz and the lovely people @beefriendlytrust are offering you the chance to win a hand-illustrated print and bee-friendly wildflower seeds along with a hardback copy of the book!

 To be in with a chance of winning you must do ALL of the following:

  1. Leave a comment telling us how much you love bees (and what you’re doing to protect them!)
  2. Like this post
  3. Follow @gollancz and @beefriendlytrust


  • Must be 18+ to enter
  • UK only
  • See bio for full T&Cs

 The T&Cs are here and the giveaway closes on 22nd June.

There is a story the bees used to tell…

There is a story the bees used to tell…

At last, HONEYCOMB is almost ready to hit the shelves! However much you may adore e-books, I can guarantee that this book –  tactile, gilded, embossed and gloriously reminiscent of classic Golden Age fairy tale books, with its cover by Sue Gent and internal artwork by Charles Vess – is one you’re going to want to hold.

To celebrate, Hachette are offering UK readers the chance to win this fabulous rose-gold bee pendant!

Click on the link to find out more….

Tempted? Click on the link to pre-order!


Eerie, dark and opulent, cocooned in silk and shadows, this is a novel unlike any other: a honeycomb built from a hundred cells, each cell a story in its own right. Gorgeously Illustrated by Charles Vess, it follows the tale of the Lacewing King, magical trickster and ruler of the Silken Folk; his misadventures, his treacheries and his pursuit through many Worlds by both the vengeful Spider Queen and the deadly Harlequin. On his journey  through the Worlds of the Folk, of the Sand Riders, the Undersea, the River Dream and even the Kingdom of Death itself, he encounters a multitude of characters – a clockwork woman, a watchmaker’s boy, a huntress with a mechanical tiger, an undersea Queen in love with the Moon, a princess who dreams of a library – but none more magical than the bees, the little builders of honeycomb, taking their nectar of dreams to the hive, and spinning them into stories. 

As you know, pre-orders don’t just help drive sales; in an increasingly risk-averse industry, they help to ensure that publishers continue to support and commission authors to write more of what you love; so if you’ve enjoyed my Twitter stories and my fantasy work as Joanne M. Harris, please consider pre-ordering HONEYCOMB for yourself, or a friend, or ordering it at your local library.

There’ll be some online events, too, including the chance to win copies of the book, plus bookplates and and signed postcards by Charles – so keep an eye on my Events page, and see if there’s something you’d like to tune into.






















Thinking of reading HONEYCOMB with your reading group? There’s a reading group guide with questions, background and a honeycomb recipe, here….

Here’s a quick Q & A to get you started.

Q: This all feels quite familiar. And yet it feels new. How much does this book owe to Grimm’s fairy tales and the Child Ballads?

A: I owe a lot to our traditional folklore in terms of background, theme and style. I also owe a debt to The Thousand and One Nights, at least in terms of the book’s structure. But Francis Child and the Brothers Grimm were collectors of traditional tales. Their names are known because they transcribed folk stories and ballads from the oral tradition. Because all but one of the stories in HONEYCOMB are original, I feel I owe more to writers like La Fontaine and Anouilh, whose fables were often based on contemporary events and themes, but whose style took inspiration from the tales of the oral tradition.

Q: Why do you think we still need fairy tales in 2021?

A: For the same reason we’ve always needed them. Some things are easier to articulate and explain to ourselves through metaphor. We live in dark and difficult times; fairy stories help us to believe that our monsters can be defeated; that love can save us; that change is possible; that a kind of magic exists, and sometimes they even help us to laugh at the things that frighten us.

Q: Some of these stories are very dark.  Would you say they’re suitable for children?

A: I think that’s up to the individual child. In my experience children are very good at knowing what will suit them. But I didn’t write them with children in mind, so if you’re buying this book for a child, feel free to discuss the stories and make sure they’re not upsetting.

Q: Did you ever take inspiration from current events for these stories?

A: Very often, yes. The King’s Cuckoo was written when J.K. Rowling was revealed to have been writing as Robert Galbraith; The Teacher, when Richard Dawkins made his derogatory remarks about fairytales. Some reflect things that were going on in politics, or  in the world of publishing. Some came from personal events, or items I saw in the news. But that’s true of all stories; and to me it’s not really the birth of a story that’s the most interesting; it’s where the story can take you.

Q: I’m pretty sure some of these tales have a message or moral; I’m just not always sure what it is. Why didn’t you put in explanations, like La Fontaine’s fables?

A: I thought about including footnotes, and decided against. I prefer my books to ask multiple questions, rather than to provide just one answer; and I’ve realized that readers will interpret – and benefit from – stories in all kinds of very personal ways. I didn’t want to take that opportunity away from them. Besides, messages in stories change with time: what was written with a specific event in mind ten years ago may find a different relevance now.

Q: None of the characters in this book have names. Was that a choice?

A: Yes, it was. I wanted to give a sense of universality to the themes in these stories, which is why I’ve deliberately not given official names to countries, either. All of them take in the same multiverse I started to build in RUNEMARKS and THE GOSPEL OF LOKI – a universe of Nine Worlds, which has proved itself to extend over a lot more. Recurring elements, like the Night Train and the River Dream run through all these books, and are of my own invention, although concepts like the Land of Death, or the World of the Fae are already very familiar to all of us.

Q: Your portrayal of the Silken Folk is quite a bit different to most portrayals of the Fae. What’s with all the insects? 

A; I wanted to draw on traditional aspects of fairytale, whilst adding elements of my own. The Silken Folk, who are shapeshifters, but can also appear as humans, is part of that: and it ties in with one of my favourite themes, which is that of perception. We look at the Silken Folk as we look at so many of the things that frighten or disturb us; sometimes from the tail of the eye; or some  cases, not at all.

Q: The Lacewing King is such a difficult character. Spoilt and cruel and arrogant – why make him the hero?

A: He isn’t exactly the hero, but he does drive the story. As for his cruelty and arrogance, I needed a character who was capable of change over the course of the book. If I’d made him nice from the start, he wouldn’t have had such a long journey.

Read an early review of the book from Publishers Weekly!

Read the review from LOCUS mag!

Plus there’s a lot more background – about the book, the illustrator and the process of putting stories to music – on my HONEYCOMB page, here.

Pre-order it here, or maybe check out the audiobook, narrated by me….