I was away on holiday when it was published in the UK, so failed to post about it here, but as today is the publication date for my Sherlock Holmes novel THE DEFACED MEN, I thought I’d take the opportunity to celebrate its release!
In this novel, Holmes’s new client is Eadweard Muybridge, the godfather of cinema, whose life is under threat. Holmes and Watson will need to draw on technology associated with cinema in order to solve a mystery that continues to grow and grow.
It’s that time again… Here are some of the most tantalising open submission calls I’ve spotted this month. If you decide to go after any of these opportunities, good luck!
Science Fiction Debuts Prize I normally post only about short story submissions, but this is a terrific opportunity for any up-and-coming SF novelists. To coincide with its forthcoming Science Fiction exhibition, the Science Museum has partnered with Hodder & Stoughton to launch a new writing prize for unpublished writers who aren’t yet represented by a literary agent. Word count: Submit 10,000 words of a novel, plus synopsis Payment: First prize is £4000, plus a full critique of your work, plus a Hodderscape mentoring programme, plus introduction to three agents. Other prizes for runners up. Deadline: Open 4 June–30 September 2022 www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-fiction-debuts-writing-prize
Dracula Beyond Stoker New journal entirely dedicated to Dracula-themed fiction. The first issue will (naturally enough) be themed around the character of Dracula himself, with the second issue revolving around Renfield. Word count: 1500–5000 words Payment: 5 cents per word Deadline: 15 June 2022 (for first issue) www.dbspress.com/submissions
Campfire Macabre: Volume 2 Cemetery Gates Media seeks flash horror fiction for the second volume in its Campfire Macabre series. Stories must match one theme from the following: ‘When We Were Getting High’, ‘My Last Trick ‘r Treat’, ‘Body Grotesquerie’, ‘Ominous Visitors From Deep Space’ or ‘Out in the Fields, Forests, and Lakes’. Word count: 500–1500 words Payment: 8 cents per word Deadline: Open 1 June–15 August 2022 cemeterygatesmedia.com/submissions/
The Dread Machine This newish magazine seeks futuristic dark fiction, speculative fiction, cyberpunk, slipstream, and science fiction. Word count: Up to 5,500 words Payment: 5 cents per word Deadline: No deadline www.thedreadmachine.com/submit/
The Consultations of Sherlock Holmes Belanger Books is putting together an anthology of traditional Sherlock Holmes stories that demonstrate Holmes’s skills as “consulting detective” – that is, stories in which he solves the case without leaving Baker Street. Word count: 5,000–10,000 words Payment: $100 or $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits (whichever is greater) Deadline: 15 September 2022 horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-consultations-of-sherlock-holmes/
I’m very pleased to announce that my third Sherlock Holmes novel, and my second to be published by Titan Books in 2022, will be published in October. This one’s a bit of a ‘Christmas special’ (Irene Adler! Mrs Hudson! Mary Watson! Inspector Lestrade! Toby the dog!) called THE TWELVE THEFTS OF CHRISTMAS. Here’s a description:
Sherlock Holmes’s discovery of a mysterious musical score initiates a devious Christmas challenge set by Irene Adler, with clues that are all variations on the theme of ‘theft without theft’, such as a missing statue found hidden in the museum gallery from which it was taken.
In the snowy London lead-up to Christmas, Holmes’s preoccupation with the Adler Variations risks him neglecting the case of his new client, Norwegian arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who has received a series of threats in the form of animal carcasses left on his doorstep. Could they really be gifts from a strange spirit that has pursued Nansen since the completion of his expedition to cross Greenland? And might this case somehow be related to Irene Adler’s great game?
It’ll be published in hardback on 18th Oct 2022 by Titan Books. Here’s the cover:
There’s certainly been a sense of things having come to a standstill in 2021. I’ve left the house a lot less than usual (even when it was allowed), and my starting point on that score was not much at all. However, in terms of my published work, I have to remind myself that things actually did happen, even though there was relatively little feedback when they did.
Despite having had no opportunity to speak to anybody in person about it, I published a novel this year: the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Back to Front Murder, which has gone across well, and seems to have satisfied Holmesians and casual readers alike, as far as I can tell. I’m particularly pleased that the consensus is that the novel captures Conan Doyle’s style and Watson’s voice, as this was the aspect I found most daunting, though it turned out to be the most satisfying to tackle.
And there was a novella, too: Universal Language is a locked-room mystery set on Mars, and I’m very proud of it. This is the publication that’s most suffered from the lack of conventions this year, and I hope it’ll find its way to more readers when things open up again.
It’s been a good year for short fiction, with fewer publications overall, but all stories I’m proud of having written, appearing in venues I really like and respect. They were: – ‘The Andraiad’ in Interzone – ‘The Living Museum’ in Shoreline of Infinity – ‘Goodbye, Jonathan Tumbledown’ in Out of the Darkness (Unsung Stories) – ‘The Cardboard Voice’ in Nightscript
While writing fiction has often seemed trivial compared to world events, I’ve done a lot of it in 2021 all the same. In fact, I wrote far more this year than I have in any other year to date – I’m honestly not quite sure how! I didn’t write at all in January due to lockdown and home-schooling, and all but gave it up during the summer holiday, too. Despite this, I spent more than 350 hours writing, and wrote more than 285,000 words. As always, I’m aware that quantity is relatively meaningless, and yet I’m proud that I’m dedicating so much time to my favourite activity.
The chart above shows my progress with longer projects. The dark red, dark blue and green data lines show three completed novels. One of these is my upcoming second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Defaced Men, which will be published in August 2022, one is a non-Holmesian Victorian mystery novel, and the third is a difficult-to-classify contemporary novel that’s currently with beta readers. The light blue line shows continued work on a huge, mad novel that I began during last year’s lockdown, which I’ll keep fiddling with in between other projects. The light red line shows the first 20k words of a commissioned novel I’m currently working on.
So, 2022 promises to be busy. After I complete the commissioned novel, I’ll return to the two other almost-finished novels to make changes before sending out to publishers, then perhaps I’ll return to the enormous novel that’s been running in the background for more than a year. After that, who knows? But it’s nice to know where I’m going for the time being. In terms of publications, there’ll be Sherlock Holmes: The Defaced Men in August, and my current project later in the year, plus a short story in an anthology I’m really excited about – in fact, getting to write this story is one of the most exciting things that’s happened to me as a writer so far, and one of the best Christmas presents I’ve had in adulthood. More details soon, I hope.
It’s a funny feeling, being quite glum about the future in wider terms, yet remaining so excited about writing and work. Perhaps we all need to be a bit introspective and self-centred in order to get by at the moment – is that fair to say? Either way, I anticipate having my head buried in work as much as possible next year.
I’m very pleased to say that in 2022 Titan Books will publish my second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Defaced Men, almost exactly one year after my first, The Back to Front Murder. I’ve had so much fun writing Holmes and Watson, and completing this second novel has been just as enjoyable as the first.
Here’s the description:
A white-haired, bearded client arrives at Baker Street and is recognised immediately by Holmes. This client is being threatened by someone unknown to him through curious means: doctored lecture slides, and Watson realises this is Eadweard Muybridge, pioneer of animal and human locomotion photographs, who presents his motion-study animations to interested parties through his zoopraxiscope device. When the two attend one of his lectures they find disturbing alterations to Muybridge’s slides he swears he did not put there and as they investigate further, discover murder and conspiracy with the fledgeling arts of photography and cinema at its heart…
I’m fascinated by early cinema, so writing about Muybridge was a gift, and I’ve had great fun showing Holmes and Watson encountering the new medium of film for the first time.
And here’s the cover!
Sherlock Holmes: The Defaced Men will be published by Titan Books on 23rd August 2022.
My Sherlock Holmes novel, The Back to Front Murder, was published by Titan Books in the UK this week, and will be available in the USA a few days from now. Holmes’s client is a mystery author whose latest murder plot has been enacted in real life… before her novel has been written.
I’ve had a such a good time writing Holmes and Watson – particularly the latter; there’s a lot in this novel about Watson as an author, and I think I’ve projected a lot of my imposter syndrome onto him.
Another thing I’ve discovered this week is that it’s a relief to have written a novel that’s easily categorised. Do you like Sherlock Holmes novels? Then maybe you’d like this Sherlock Holmes novel.
As well as (positive!) reviews, a couple of articles relating to The Back to Front Murder appeared online this week: CrimeReads hosted my article titled ‘The Joys and Difficulties of Writing a Faithful Sherlock Holmes Novel’ and Trans-Scribe conducted a really good Q&A covering the challenges of channelling Arthur Conan Doyle, Watson as narrator, female characters in the canon and favourite Holmes stories. More articles will be appearing soon.
Other than that, visit this page to find out more details about the book.
Publication news! I’m happy to say that my Sherlock Holmes novel THE BACK-TO-FRONT MURDER will be published by Titan Books in August. In fact, it’s the first of two, with the second due out at the same time next year, both classic tales in the Conan Doyle style. Here’s the blurb for this first one:
May 1898. A new client arrives at Baker Street – Abigail Moone, a wealthy, independent writer of successful mystery stories under a male pseudonym. She presents an unusual problem. Abigail claims that she devised a man’s death that was reported in that morning’s newspaper: that is, she planned his murder as an event to be included in one of her mystery stories. Following real people and imagining how she might murder them and get away with it is how Abigail comes up with her plots, but this victim has actually died, apparently of the poison method she meticulously planned in her notebook. Someone is trying to frame Abigail for his death, but with the evidence stacking up against her, she turns to Holmes to prove her innocence.
I’ve had so much fun writing as Watson and attempting to channel Conan Doyle. Completing this novel has been one of the most straightforwardly happy writing experiences I’ve had (though the plot is anything but straightforward, of course), and I hope it shows.