The review in which I find out what all the fuss has been about…

The review in which I find out what all the fuss has been about...

18626858The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I came to be reading this because both it and the films have been recommended to me by so many people, and to be honest, I think if it hadn’t have been I would have walked on by having taken a quick squizz at the synopsis. It is an odd book to *want* to read; a book about a girl who must ultimately kill any number of fellow children. Why would I want to read a book about that?

I actually saw the film first, and my feelings about that were that yes, it is a pretty unpleasant tale set in a dark, distopian future, but that it was quite clever in the way that dispite Katniss Everdeen’s need to kill at least some of her competitors in order to stay alive, you are made to side with her, and root for her survival.

The book is no less disturbing. It also shows that the film is unusual for being a very close adapation of the book – hardly surprising considering the author’s heavy involvement with the films, previous writing experience for television, and that the films were made within years of the books publications. However, unlike in the film whereby, film being film, the viewer is confronted full on in the face with with the true horror of the story, in the book you are at least allowed to hear Katniss’ thoughts which does well to make you root even more for her survival.

Suzanne Collins apparently had the idea of writing this story after seeing the juxtapositon of war coverage on TV with that of wall-to-wall reality shows, and you can see those influences clearly – just what could happen if reality television was allowed to go to its natural inevitable conclusion. Its all too believable. The book is more than that. On more than one occasion I saw parallels with William Goldman’s Lord of the Flies, and how quickly, faced with certain situations, even the previously most-peaceloving competitiors/children can be drawn into enacting the most horrific of acts.

The darkly harsh tale of the Boy in Winter’s Grasp

The darkly harsh tale of the Boy in Winter's Grasp

24102794The Boy In Winter’s Grasp by John D. Scotcher

Basing fantasy adventure stories around the Arthurian legends is nothing new, and nor is setting them in wartime. What is different, is mixing them both together, into a Big book with a Big story.

This is a dark tale set at a dark time with a sinister Master and young boy mourning the loss of his brother in the war which has a feel of Neil Gaiman book, but there is an underlying adventure story that is reminiscent of the magic of Diana Wynne Jones with but in its Arthurian links I find Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising Sequence the most influential. We quickly learn what the Winter’s Grasp of the title is and what it can do and we are pitched into a medieval ‘road trip’ to get home in an unfamiliar world.

Just how unfamiliar the world is is just one of the many twists of the book that is cleaning leading up to the series. And whilst I am looking forward to reading the next instalment of the series (something which I hope John Scotcher is already deeply immersed in writing), it is this ‘first book in a series’ nature of the story that I find most troubling. We are always wondering what exactly the Master is wondering and it is never quite explained.

If you have wondered how dangerous dreams can be this is the story that you should be reading.

There once was a chicken called Wiggy

Wiggy

You were not our first hen,
but you were
our oldest lady.
One of the girls.

Your eggs
they were not the biggest
Indeed, they were the smallest
of the small.
Perfect blue,
with the creamiest
yolkiest
yellowist
tastiest eggs of any.

You may not have been
the smartest chicken in the coop.
And you used to make an awful
racket in the morning.
But we loved you still.

Your soft, feathery wig
made your character.
Your feathers were proper
dappled browns
and mousey greys.

You will always be
Our Wiggy.

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2007–2014

The other side of the story

The other side of the story

Ever since I finished writing Mr Tumnal I’ve found myself missing my small cast of characters. I’m in the middle of a short story involving the character of my Sarah set in the cold, dark, winter. Today, on the final walk home from the bus stop, I ended up coming up with the idea for another, second sequel in short story form.

Just like in Mr Tumnal where we ask what its like for a man who marries his imaginary friend, in The Imaginary Wife I ask the question of what becomes of the girl when her boy grows up to live without her.

I’ve already written the first 100 words and I’m already very excited about it.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Mr Tumnal has now been out in the real world for a month and and a half, and its already out sold my debut novel by this point in the publishing cycle, and its starting to gather up a number of 5-star reviews.

Five star reviews! The joy, the ecstasy of it! People actually *like* my story…

Very Very Clever, Very Different – I Want To Read More!

Really really loved the story (very memorable, and very different) – certainly kept me gripped, and the characters were well rounded, fully formed and interesting

the dark, mystical elements which I have missed since childhood classics from writers like Susan Cooper and Alan Garner … this is a book in the same genre but for adults, which is refreshing

I was sad to have finished it

A great read that hooked me and I couldn’t put it down

instantly grabbing. You’re lured into two separate worlds between Lewis and Louis, and the plot keeps moving at a comfortable pace

You can read the reviews in full – have you read it yet? I’d love to hear what you think it too!

But whilst I revel in people enjoying my story of a man who marries his imaginary friend, I also have the agony of discovering that I released my story with some lingering typos. I hasten to add – and this is from my readers too – that none of the typos hinder the enjoyment of the story but they are annoying and frustrating nonetheless. It’s the pain of the Indie Author: even with an editor, I am just one man at war with words. I’ve since corrected a good number of them and notified Amazon. Hopefully anyone who has downloaded the Kindle version will soon get an opportunity to update their edition, whilst owners of the paperback edition will have rare first editions.

Mr Tumnal is available as both a paperback and an eBook for Kindle.

Mr Tumnal

Shepherd, T E (Cover illustration by Silviu Sadoschi)
Publication date: May 2012
Ebook ISBN 978 0 9571756 6 2 (£2.99) Amazon UK | Amazon.com
Paperback ISBN 978 0 9571756 7 9 (£8.99) Amazon UK | Amazon.com

A pageturner to read and read again

A pageturner to read and read again

17320735 A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

This is a big, epic book involving an complex, involving thriller and whodunnit. I came to this book after reading Frances Hardinge’s brilliant, if terrifying, Cuckoo Song, and I was cautious that this one might be equally chilling. When I first read the cover blurb I had no idea what th expect…

In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen create delicacies beyond compare: cheeses that can show you the future adn perfumes that convice you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat.

…I simply had no idea what to expect but it sounded intriguing. What I got was pageturning joy of a read involving wise men who were fools, friends who are enemies, madmen, and thieves who are friends. It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away spoilers.

This is a fantasy adventure, clearly, with the population of people who live underground, but it needn’t be a fantasy. Yes there are cheeses that can show you the future, perfumes that deceive you, and wines that give and take memories from you, and of course faces that you can learn for every occasion, but you can read this as a story set in the real world. The scary idea of Facesmiths (remember those scary doll-eating dolls in Cuckoo Song) just makes you really think about the very human condition of people who are two-faced or like our heroine Neverfell, a face can betray nothing but the truth.

This is a book that will keep you guessing to the very last page, and it all makes absolute, perfect sense. For a first book to read in 2015, all that follow have got some topping.

1 Happy Year

1 Happy Year

A year ago, on the 8 January 2014, a friend at work, Eleanor pointed me in the direction of the #100HappyDays challenge. It seemed intriguing and I set myself on to it. 100 days later I completed the challenge but set myself a new challenge to keep it going for one whole year. Today, I reach the end of that year…

1 Happy Year from Thomas Shepherd on Vimeo.

What have I learnt during the year? That is possible to be happy for a whole year, and even when life throws some major challenges in your way, you just have to learn to look at your life in a slightly different way and appreciate the small, the bizarre, and the just plain odd!

The first day of a new year

The first day of a new year

I’ve never been one for making the big New Year’s Resolutions that are forgotten by the end of the first month (if not the first week) of the new year. But I do like to take stock and try to form some broad aims.

In recent years these aims have included being generally fitter twelve months from now, or reading more (and in this last one I’ve done very well for the past two years). This year in addition to those two standing aims, I want to vow to play my flute more and do more practice.

This Christmas I’ve enjoyed playing notes out of a trumpet again – I think I may have exorcised some demons from past there – although one day I think I might like to get a trumpet of my own again as I can, kind of play it, to add another instrument to my repertoire. Whilst visiting my brothers I tinkled – in the losest of senses – on Ben’s piano and I enjoyed the fact that some of what I taught myself ten years ago wasn’t completely forgotten. I also haven’t forgotten that the piano is definitely not the instrument for me. Right hand playing one tune on treble clef whilst left hand plays something completely different in bass clef is a skill that is not made for me!!

But in the the meantime I have my flute and I have my piccolo and I think I should start first at playing those better – and yes, that does include finally learning how to play those illusive notes scarily stratopheric above the stave above top G. Yes, I need to start there, and do regular practice.

On the sixth day of Christmas: review of the year

On the sixth day of Christmas: review of the year

By the end of 2013 had smashed my personal reading challenge of 20 books by a whopping 195%, and so I vowed in the next year to read as many as that again. In terms of challenges though I erred on the side of caution and set my target at 30 thinking that was definitely achievable. It turns out that was most-definitely achievable thanks in large part to the hours of extra reading time afforded to me by the bus. By the end of this year I have read 153% more books than I intended to, at a grand total of 46! This pleases me, alot.

  • The Man Who Rained by Ali Shaw
  • The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
  • How It All Began by Penelope Lively
  • A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Stella by Helen Eve
  • The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Asterix and the Picts by Jean-Yves Ferri
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Strandline by Tamsin Showbrook
  • Related by Adoption by Hedi Argent
  • The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Viking! by Kevin Crossley-Holland
  • Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke
  • The River at Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
  • The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen
  • One Wish by Michelle Harrison
  • The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry
  • Frozen Out by Quentin Bates
  • Tales of the Norse Gods by Barbara Leonie Picard
  • Greys Court Oxfordshire (Trust, National)
  • Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer
  • The Voice That Thunders by Alan Garner
  • Elizabeth is Missing by Healey
  • The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
  • Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
  • The Woodcutter by Kate Danley
  • Wild Horses: a Spider Circus Story by Alice Nuttall
  • All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou
  • Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates
  • The Aldeburgh Scallop by Maggi Hambling
  • Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • How Novels Work by John Mullan
  • The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
  • 26 Characters: celebrating childhood story heroes by Cambridge Jones
  • Alexandra Fry, Private Eye: Tutankhamun’s Gift by Angella Graff
  • Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
  • Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Strandline /C by Tamsin Showbrook
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C.Moore
  • The Church Mice at Christmas by Graham Oakley
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
  • Benjy and the Barking Bird by Margaret Bloy Graham

Okay, there are some short children’s books in there, but there are also some that are normally outside of my comfort zone, and a pleasing amount of non-fiction too which is good.

Stand out book’s of the years? Emma Healey’s stunning debut, Elizabeth Is Missing, is one for everybody’s To Read Pile. I would also thoroughly recommend Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers and the, if disturbing, brilliant Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (I’ve just started reading another of her books now). Of one’s to avoid, only one spring’s to mind: and that is Kate Danley’s The Woodcutter – proof-being if proof were needed that it is possible to love fairytales too much.

Next year I’m very much looking forward to getting my nose stuck into John Scotcher’s (second) debut novel, The Boy In Winter’s Grasp that sadly came out too late in the year to be finished in time for this year’s reading list.

The Beauty In The Book

The Beauty In The Book

23301545 The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

Not many books can be described as beautiful books, but this is one that is truly stunning. From the partly printed, partly transparent dust jacket revealing further cover art beneath to the deeply richly illustrated pages you know that this, like all good editions of fairytales, is a book to treasure. It simply wouldn’t be the same in either paperback or ebook.

It’s a subtle blend of both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with possibly a smattering of Repunzal and Rumpelstiltskin that keeps you guessing to the end as to what will happen.I attended an excellent talk with The Expert on fairytale, Jack Zipes, a year or so ago and he made the point that whilst the recent mining of fairytales into big novels and blockbuster movies might promise strong female characters, too often all they deliver is woman characters succeeding only through acting like men rather through genuine feminine characteristics.

In this book, the characters are allowed to genuinely be themselves, whether they be the young queen, the supposably wicked old crone, or the sleeping princess. It’s a delight I will not spoil to see how it unfolds…

Tales from the riverbank to read and read again

Tales from the riverbank to read and read again

6226173The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

This is a classic book that has, on more than one occasion this year, jumped off the bookshelf again and shouted re-read me! Once, was when a section of it was used as a reading at Lucy and Luke’s – some very good friends of our’s – wedding, and again when we visited Neil Gaiman’s Badger installation at The Oxford Story Museum’s 26 Characters exhibition. But there have been other occasions too. Now, I finally got round to re-reading my slightly battered 1980 hardback edition with the wonderful Arthur Rackham illustrations…

Everybody knows the story of The Wind In The Willows, or at least everybody *thinks* they know the story. I wonder how many are like me and find them surprised that the story is not just the one that is often adapted which is the story of Mole meets Ratty, Mole and Ratty meet Toad, Toad gets himself arrested, Badger needed to defeat Weasels…?

The Wind In The Willows is not just the story of Mr Toad but a collection of tales from along the riverbank that each of our characters is at times the lead in. It’s a beautiful and enchanting book that everyone should read or re-read from time to time.

A book about people living on the changing line between sea and shore

A book about people living on the changing line between sea and shore

21842848Strandline /C by Tamsin Showbrook

My interest in the original Strandline book was in its premise of there being different peoples and races that live unseen from ‘our world’ amongst us but on the edges of our society, on the strandline between the sea and the shore with people who are affected by a difference in organisms at a microscopic level. So, whatever my reservations about the delivery of the book, they were not enough to make me not want to read the sequel.

Where the first book was a personal tale – a voyage of discovery – for Seren as she discovered the truth behind who and what she really was and the people to whom she belonged, the second book is an altogether bigger story that centred around the power struggles of rival organisations. In this, Tamsin Showbrook’s mhereds and lakundi are reminiscent of Eoin Coiffer’s Artemis Fowl books with their mischievous fairies in their secret quasi-governmental organisations.

Strandline /C is a very engaging, immediate story possibly only let down by being the second book in what is obviously going to be a trilogy (the middle books of trilogies often have this problem for being the link between a beginning of the story and The End). Also, being the second book, and being a story with a complex collection of characters I found myself desiring some kind of glossary or dramatis personae to help me keep track.

This is a second book in a series, yes, but it is also a standalone story but I found myself wishing for a bit more exposition to remind me who certain characters were or where they fitted.

When the characters keep talking

When the characters keep talking

A week and a half on and its weird to think that all around the world there are people reading Mr Tumnal. A year ago the story was resting before I embarked on the editing, but that didn’t stop the characters talking to me. On a weekend away on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border I started writing a companion piece involving some old and some new characters from my second novel.

This particular story will never be a full-length novel, but I like it that my characters have continued to talk to me, and that their lives have continued. I guess its a bit like fan fiction isn’t it. Is it fan fiction if the author themselves writes new stories with old characters?

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Mr Tumnal is available as both a paperback and an eBook for Kindle.

Mr Tumnal

Shepherd, T E (Cover illustration by Silviu Sadoschi)
Publication date: May 2012
Ebook ISBN 978 0 9571756 6 2 (£2.99) Amazon UK | Amazon.com
Paperback ISBN 978 0 9571756 7 9 (£8.99) Amazon UK | Amazon.com

Stepping Through The Wardrobe

Stepping Through The Wardrobe

1045149The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I’ve been meaning to re-read the C.S. Lewis classic for a ages, and climbing through the wardrobe into Narnia at The Story Museum a few week’s ago was the final impetus to doing just that!

I’m probably not alone in having a slightly awkward relationship with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Having adored it as a child, I remember reading it’s prequel with enthusiasm and then finding my interest waning over the successive sequels as the books dwelled more on religious allorgry and the children changed. But much in the story, the ideas and the feel of the original can not be unloved once loved. It was always going to be a book I would come back to.

The first thing I noticed in this retelling – partly because having written a book with a central character called Mr Tumnal – is that the C.S. Lewis character is only ever referred to as Mr Tumnus by Lucy or by Lewis by way of Lucy. When Lucy asks for his name the faun quite simply says Tumnus, and it is Lucy to presume a mister. We don’t if Tumnus is his first or his second name, or even that fauns have two names! Not an important discovery this, but interestingly curious.

C.S. Lewis apparently called his book a fairytale – something that Marina Warner in a recent talk I attended on fairytale dismisses – partly because it is too long to be a fairytale, but it does read very like one nonetheless with little bits of the story standing for and representing something we are too understand.

I remember being chilled as a child by those immortal words that the Witch – herself a Snow Queen like character – cast the spell to make it always winter and never Christmas. I have always felt the presence of Father Christmas in the story as an awkward plotpoint that I never could get on with.

Thankfully, the Christian allegory is not an obvious and important part of this book though, as it deals more with the creatures of myth, fairytale, and fantasy. Where I do find the book lacking is in C.S. Lewis very obvious omniscient narrator who not only knows everything about the story but steps out of the adventure to remind us things we ought to know and thus breaks the flow of the story.

The book still remains a favourite read of mine, and thus the 5 stars.

Mr Tumnal: a publication day book reading

Mr Tumnal: a publication day book reading

Mr Tumnal is my second book, but it is a standalone adventure to that of my debut novel published in May 2012. Fans of The End Of All Worlds though, might recognise a couple of characters from that story taking little cameo roles in this new story.

Of course I hope that if you’ve got as far as reading my blog, and following my social media channels then you will already have decided you just have to read the book. But if you haven’t, maybe I could tempt you by reading a bit from it.

I’ve chosen a scene that comes towards the end of Part Two, when things have reached a climax in the Louis/Lewis relationship with Kathryn. It’s tense and dramatic, although for the bit that actually made me break down in tears as I was writing it you have to wait until Part Four!

Publication Day: a short introduction to Mr Tumnal

Publication Day: a short introduction to Mr Tumnal

So, after the years of writing, the revising, the editing, and the anticipation, the day has finally come when my second novel, Mr Tumnal, is published. Go buy it, now, but before you do (or if you want to find out more about it), see me say in brief what it is all about.

Mr Tumnal is available as both a paperback and an eBook for Kindle.

Mr Tumnal

Shepherd, T E (Cover illustration by Silviu Sadoschi)
Publication date: May 2012
Ebook ISBN 978 0 9571756 6 2 (£2.99) Amazon UK | Amazon.com
Paperback ISBN 978 0 9571756 7 9 (£8.99) Amazon UK | Amazon.com

Don’t own a Kindle but still want to read this book? You can download a FREE Kindle App for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android.

Mr Tumnal: music as an inspiration

Mr Tumnal: music as an inspiration

Mr Tumnal has an eclectic taste in music. His music collection is entirely vinyl and (mostly) cassette, with some recent additions on CD, thus, Kathryn buys him an iPod which she has engraved for him:

For your music collection and mine, love Kathryn xxx

For whatever reason, the iPod is never given, but the engraving is perfect to go alongside the playlist of the book. I feel sad when people have a narrow view of what their taste in music is. The very best music collections should be eclectic and contain examples from every genre, even if it was because that one track reminded you of one happy, sad, or otherwise memorable event.

The actual playlist that I used to write Mr Tumnal comprised some 86 tracks and that’s not counting the 251 song wedding playlist, or the general ‘Writing and Inspiration’ playlist. From that I’ve whittled it down to the ones that fit best with Mr Tumnal’s story.

There’s a dedicated page which explains each song choice, but please, even though I’ve been careful in the writing of it, be cautious of spoilers. Some songs are directly relevant to particular characters or scenes in the stories, but others just reflect the inspiration for the story. Others are linked to how I was writing it, like the time, as I approached those immortal words, The End, when writing in the heat of summer under an umbrella for shade I was so caught up in the story I failed to realise that I was now in the middle of a thunderstorm! Hey, it happens!

Mr Tumnal is published on Thursday 27 November 2014 as for Kindle and Paperback and is available for pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon.com (also available on other local territories).

Mr Tumnal’s Theme

Mr Tumnal's Theme

From the very first page of Mr Tumnal, you know that music is very important to Lewis/Louis and to his lives. How important you will have to wait to fully discover. With such importance you might expect me to know from the very beginning what piece of music has been haunting his head his whole life. But there’s the thing, I never knew, not exactly. It could be played on a flute I knew that, but that didn’t mean it had to be flute music. What I did know is that it had to be infectious and haunting. I went through the whole book writing and editing with only that knowledge in my head and it worked.

That though, is not the weird thing that I have to tell you. On the very night that I finished revising what was to be the final draft before sending it off to the editor, I was literally just finishing off the last bit the book, and my wife Emma was in the kitchen doing the washing up (I cooked the dinner just so you know), and she thought she heard an oboe or a clarinet playing and came through to see what I was doing. I had no music on; just my laptop and my novel. Anyway she obsessed over this snatch of music for a bit and then grabbed a free keyboard app on her tablet and tried to play the tune that she heard that evening. I knew straight away, even though Emma had not at tha time read the book, that it was Mr Tumnal’s Theme that I was hearing.

I recorded what Emma played and later attempted at a rough transcription of the main tune. It’s kind of vaguely Swan Lake-ish I think, but its not. What I do find it is haunting and spooky and awesomely unsettling.

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I am luckily enough to have many friends musical than I am, and Neil Brownless, my conductor at the wind band that I go to kindly offered to try and work the original theme up into something bigger. It’s still very much a work-in-progress, but his variation too, is as unsettling as you will find Miss Leroy to be in the book…

Mr Tumnal is published on Thursday 27 November 2014 as for Kindle and Paperback and is available for pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon.com (also available on other local territories).

A delicious story set in a far-away world just above our heads

A delicious story set in a far-away world just above our heads

21378592Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

I first found about this book when I saw a it in a window display from the bus and I added it to my To Read list straight away. However it was not until I visited the 26 Characters exhibition at The Story Museum in Oxford, and I was looking at the Where The Wild Things Are installation that I found out that Katherine Rundell was an Oxford writer, and I found out more about this book.

I am so glad I delved into this story straight away now. It’s a deliciously simple idea: that of an orphan found floating adrift in a cello case after the ship goes down, and Sophie’s lifelong quest to find her mother whom she believes in her heart is still alive.

It’s told through a refreshingly small cast of characters and its quotable at every turn for just about any eventuality. So often did I want to tweet a favourite line that I soon realised that if I did I would soon find myself plagurising the entire story!

The setting is beautiful too. It’s mostly set in Paris, but in a Paris that could just as easily be any other city with rooftops to clamber around on, for most of the story is set high above street level in a second, hidden city, that most of us forget is even there. And who hasn’t found themselves looking up, past the gaudy shopfronts and distractions down on the ground and found the higgledy-piggledy rooftops the more interesting?

From the start, you are reminded to the very end, to always pursue you dreams and never ignor the ‘possible’. And that is a very good moral to remember and live by.

The Seeds of a Story

The Seeds of a Story

Stories can come to the writer through deep consideration or through random chance. Mr Tumnal came to existence from the latter. As the acknowledgements in the front of the first edition, to be be published in just over two days time, states, it was my friend and former-work colleague Caroline who helped the story into existence through mishearing my poor diction on just another car share to the office…

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I remember panicking a few years later that Louis Tumnal’s name had already been taken when I heard of the existence of the children’s entertainer/television presenter Mr Tumble (who coincidentally used to be at school with my cousin – not that I knew this until recently or that it has any relevance to anything else…), but then breathing an audible sigh of relief when I realised the names are different. I like though, when I tell people about the story and that its set in an Oxford-like city, that people think he’s called Louis Tumnus. The loose palay on words with the classic C.S.Lewis character is one that I enjoy along with a whole host of other literary and pop-culture references that are laced throughout the pages.

I think that on those two car journeys, Caroline and I only pieced together the character of Lewis Tumnal, ie. what would later become the imaginary world of Louis Tumnal. What I subsequently did with that very detailed character sketch is entirely the product of my very weird brain.

As we approach publication day, I’m sure that nerves and abject terror will take over again in the next day or so, but right now I am full of excitement. The proof copies of my book arrived today and there is something truly magical about receiving the actual, physical books to handle, and turn over and feel the weight of all those years work in my hands.

Oh yes, right now, I’m full of excitement for it. I just hope that you all feel the same way…

Mr Tumnal is published on Thursday 27 November 2014 as for Kindle and Paperback and is available for pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon.com (also available on other local territories).