Complete novel is free to read online now!

I’ve now finished posting my murder mystery novel online at gottiewrites.wordpress.com You can read the whole thing for free. I’ve been blown away by the response so far – here are some of my favourite reviews:

“An absolutely pitch-perfect portrayal of fandom by an author obviously fluent in fan culture. It made me deeply nostalgic for my LiveJournal days. I devoured it and I hope it starts a trend of novels about fandom told in the form of social media posts.” – Lizzy on Goodreads

“James understands fandom. Even fictionalized this is the most accurate depiction of fandom I’ve ever read about and I would love for James to write more based around fandom. James understands the obsession, the memes, and the love and sometimes scary world of fandom. Of what can happen when you piss off the wrong person in your fandom, if you ship something no one else does, if your opinion differs or your theories don’t align with the rest of the fandom. Fandom can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be toxic.” – Sarah on Goodreads

“Gottie is the girl you love to hate. She makes so many unbelievable choices throughout the course of the story but it’s impossible to turn away as she uncovers secrets about Rob’s own online past. It’s an excellent exploration of fandom culture, especially the examinations of what fannish behaviour is okay and what borders on stalking or harassment. This is definitely one of the most nuanced representations I’ve seen of online culture and I applaud Lauren for the effort she put into it.” – Em on Goodreads

Thank you to everyone who’s supported it, either by talking about it online or through Ko-Fi/Patreon! It was such a risky project to do and it means the world to me that so many of you have responded so well.

On 13th May at 6pm BST, I’m going to be answering spoiler-filled questions about the completed novel over on the fan-run Discord. You can join here: discord.gg/n85j3dQ

In other news, here’s a snippet of The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker, which comes out in four months:

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I didan interview with The Bookseller about The Quiet at the End of the World for the YA Book Prize shortlisting.

I started the story with a virus spreading across the world, giving everyone nose bleeds. Once the pandemic was over, doctors started to notice that no women were becoming pregnant – everyone had become infertile because of the virus.

As I’m writing this, the coronavirus pandemic is growing worse by the day. I could never have anticipated that the situation in The Quiet at the End of the World would really come true. It’s been an eerie experience, watching the news unveil through social media in the same way I wrote last year in the novel. I’m not sure I’m enjoying it. Hopefully the story provides some comfort to people who are self-isolating or have contracted the virus.

I think in times of crisis, art and media become more important than ever, and I’m happy to have written a novel that helps people cope. Especially because our real-world virus is definitely not going to stop people having babies, like in the book!

YA Book Prize shortlisting, a creative writing activity & book recs

I’m very excited that The Quiet at the End of the World has been shortlisted for the YA book prize!

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The list is so great this year, so I’m very flattered to be in such lovely company!

My free online novel, An Unauthorised Fan Treatise, is up to chapter 28 of 30, so it’s nearly finished. Here’s some reviews so far:

“Brilliant. Innovative, engaging and insightful. I hope it gets the huge audience it deserves.” – Sara Barnard

“absolutely addictive, creepy and exciting. at times i got so lost in the story i forgot that the characters aren’t real. would highly recommend this to anyone who loves reading fandom essays/treatises!” – Julie on Goodreads

“Lauren is a genius and this was the messy fandom hijinks love letter I never knew I needed.” – Charlie on Goodreads

“I loved it. It’s full of the things that make me love anything Lauren James writes: intrigue right from the start, sketchy characters, and plot twists galore. Throw in an unreliable narrator and a few conspiracy theories and you’ve got something that is impossible to not come back to week after week to see what happens next in the Gottie Writes saga. It’s an exploration of toxic fan culture, the power of the web (and you shouldn’t believe everything you read) — oh, and there’s a murder mystery, too. How can you not be intrigued?!” – Charlotte on Goodreads

ch 28

I’m currently taking bookings for July and July for editorial critiques. If you’re working on a writing project during lockdown, you can get notes on the first draft or an extract. I’ve edited manuscripts for over fifty writers of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction. https://laurenejames.co.uk/editorial-services/

I posted a free creative writing exercise for students who are stuck inside right now:

And for the rest of you, a fun game:

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books

Some recent excellent reads – three novels and three novellas for everyone who (like me) is lacking attention span right now.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power – Wonderful creeping horror that gets worse and worse as the book goes on, with some really gruesome scenes. Richly drawn characters on a mutated island.

A Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland – A depressed travelling storyteller ends up in a fantasy version of Amsterdam, where he single-handedly encourages a tulip mania to start. But when the flower bulbs get diseased, things start to go badly wrong.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey* –  I read this in one day, totally immersed in the lives of these women. The mansion is so clearly drawn, with all these stuffed animals in each room. Haunting, romantic and intriguing.

And the novellas:

The Harwood Spellbook novella series by Stephanie Burgis* – This magical world is so carefully thought out, with a really interesting take on gender roles in society. I’m a sucker for historical recency magic books, and I’ve read most of the ones I have found – this is a highlight for me as one of the nicest.

Wayward Children novella series by Seanan McGuire* –  Diverse and witty, with unique and memorable characters. Each novella is wonderfully different, and they all feel like fun little excursions into this endless magical world.

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho* – A fun novella about a group of bandits whose harmony is uprooted by the arrival of a new member, a chaotic and argumentative nun of the Order of the Pure Moon. She pesters the bandits and disturbs their carefully planned heists, and has a lot of fun along the way. Zen’s writing is so full of life and humour, and the romance here creeps up on you quietly, then hits you hard. Tet Sang is a wonderfully dry and interesting protagonist. I want a sequel!

*gifted by the publisher

Comfort reads

If you’re in need of some comfort right now, here are my favourite comfort reads. Low stakes, high romance, familiar tropes and loveable characters abound. (Whereas my book The Quiet at the End of the World, about a global virus pandemic that makes humanity infertile, may be less comforting right now….)

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Links to Amazon UK

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley -A retelling of Sleeping Beauty that I’ve read approximately 50 times since I was a kid. So feminist and witchy and unexpected.

The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (and her other historical romances like The Morning Gift) – wonderfully indulgent and romantic, with lots of longing and happy endings.

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold – Best described as Jane Austen in space, this features genetically modified bugs, clones, political intrigue and more.

The Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens – mid-war boarding school girl detectives with modern values.

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson – The Sound of Music meets Hamilton in early New York, with undercover governesses and magic.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory – Guillory’s writing is such a comforting place to spend time. Her characters are all so lovely and real, and her romances aren’t filled with the kind of angsty misunderstandings which are often used to create tension, and drive me nuts. Instead there’s just honest, genuine progression of relationships. (£3 on Kindle)

Think of England by K J Charles – the most excellent English country house heist/murder mystery. (£3 on Kindle)

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal – Magical regency romp around the world with magic and science and the boundary between the two. (99p on Kindle)

The Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane books by Dorothy L Sayers (start with Strong Poison) (99p on Kindle)

The Red Dwarf books by Grant Naylor -Silly space antics which are laugh out loud funny. You don’t need to have seen the show to read the books, and I think they’re better and funnier.

Jeeves & Wooster by P G Wodehouse -A foolish rich himbo telling anecdotes about the antics he gets rescued from by his clever and dignified butler. Iconic and hilarious. (75p on Kindle)

Upcoming events in Edinburgh & Birmingham, Chapter 18 of my free online novel

Hi guys!

A few updates on various authorly goings-on:

events

27th Feb: Alice Oseman in conversation with Lauren James – Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh, details here

26th March: Chairing An Evening With Natasha Pulley and Zen Cho – Waterstones Birmingham, details here

10-13 April: Eastercon 2020, Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel

18 April: Panel with Tom Pollock at Pleasance, Edinburgh Science Festival – tickets here

An Unauthorised Fan Treatise up to chapter 18 (20 if you’re following along on my Patreon), and it’s a great time to dive in, if you haven’t started reading yet! There are going to be around 30 updates in total, running until May.

ch 18

Prologue

Chapter 1 – The Undeniable Facts

Chapter 2 – Evidence of Nathan’s Sexuality

Chapter 3 – Rob’s Social Media Presence

Chapter 4 – Manipulation in Media Narrative by Management

Chapter 5 – The Beginning of the End for Silentwakes

Chapter 6 –  Net Worth and Property

Chapter 7 – New Evidence Uncovered by this Essay

Chapter 8 – A Warning to the Commenters

Chapter 9 – The Unravelling of the Sockpuppets

Chapter 10 – I NEED HELP

Chapter 11 – Plagiarism and Pirating

Chapter 12 – An Explanation for the Drama

Chapter 13 – Silentwakes’ Last Stand

Chapter 14 – Laptop Analysis

Chapter 15 – Mistaken Unverified Claims

Chapter 16 – IP Addresses Of Essay Commenters (or, The Spy Among Us)

Chapter 17 – Rob’s Online Activity (cont.)

Chapter 18 – Acquisition Hypothesis

In other news:

I announced that I’m writing a sequel to The Starlight Watchmaker, which will be released in August 2020 (Goodreads). I’m just finishing up the structural edits on it right now, and I love Hugo and Dorian so so much.

Recent favourite reads –

Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan –  a collection of horror short stories, containing a lot of scottish mythology. Truly delicious

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters by Charlotte Mosley – I’ve decided to cultivate an obsession with the Mitfords in 2020, and after reading The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, this was my first port of call. Absolutely the right move – I couldn’t stop reading, and fell headfirst into their insane world of celebrity friendships, political squabbles and betrayals and deaths. I now want five sisters to become penpals with.

Educated by Tara Westover – A wild ride through the deep South of the USA, this was a real insight into the mindset that drives people to join cults/isolate their families. I cringed so much at some of the things Tara went through, which is the sign of a really good memoir writer.

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A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – An intricate, unpredictable and truly modern murder mystery – Gottie would love this one.

Crowded by Christopher Sebela – a graphic novel series about a crowdfunded assassination target running for her life with her hired bodyguard, and getting into lots of trouble along the way.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley – Plotted as intricately as clockwork, this weaves together historical political warfare with electromagnetic science research and magical clairvoyance. (#gifted)

 

Cover reveal for The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker

The cover was designed by Chloé Tartinville (https://www.instagram.com/origineethique/) I am such a fan of the colours and style here – it’s so different from my other books, while keeping the same font and brand. It’s so creepy and ominous, which perfectly matches the book.

I love the neon pink font especially! There is going to be a shiny foil finish on some of the dust specks, and I’m rooting for a metallic pink colour there to match my name. Leave your suggestions for other foil colours in the comments!

The fog tunnel featured in the video is from the Olafur Eliasson exhibition at the Tate Modern (cinematography by Alice Oseman!)

“Lauren James is a genius.” SFX Magazine

“Lauren James isn’t just headed for the stars – she’s already there.” Samantha Shannon, author of The Priory of the Orange Tree

What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, or even the ability to possess the living. As she learns more about their community, Harriet is willing to do anything to unleash her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy. Because who knows what grudges people have been holding onto for millennia, just waiting for a reckless girl to give them the chance to get vengeance.

A sharp thriller with a twist of the supernatural from a masterful sci-fi writer.

Subscribe to my mailing list to be notified on release day

Goodreads | AmazonWaterstones | Foyles | Wordery |Buy a signed copy on my Etsy 

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker will be published in the UK and Australia by Walker Books on 3rd September 2020. It’s my first ever fantasy novel, about a girl who gets in above her head when she tries to become the most powerful ghost in a building of ancient spirits.

The other ghosts happen to be freshers who all died in their halls of residence during their first year of uni, decades earlier. They’ve spent years bickering, flirting, play-fighting and developing in-jokes with each other in the decrepit and abandoned building where they all died. When Harriet becomes a ghost, she finds them as baffling as they find her modern. She has a lot to learn about life, even after she’s died.

I’ve always loved the idea of ghosts, but I’ve always felt like there was something missing from paranormal stories. Where do ghosts get their energy from? What happens when ghosts live together in the same building? Do they share ‘haunting’ duties, or do they have to compete for space? And, most importantly, can a ghost die? What happens to them when things go wrong? I wanted to answer those questions in this novel.

I’m so excited for you to meet my nineties ghost gang – Rima, Felix, Kasper and Leah, as well as Leah’s young baby Claudia, and Rima’s pet fox Cody. If you liked Being Human, Misfits or Crashing by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, then I hope you’ll like this book. It’s a horrom-com (AKA a genre I just invented, the horror romantic comedy). It’s grisly and gory, with an epic romance and quite a few plot twists along the way (would it be a Lauren James book without them?).

If you’re excited to read it, I’d love for you to go ahead and give it a preorder. It really makes a difference to authors, because it shows publishers how many people are excited to read it.

For more information, check out the writing journey blog posts I’ve been posting about this project since 2016 –  parts one two, three and four. There’s also lots of additional content in the Tumblr tag. There are some fun extras below!

Moodboard (on Tumblr)

Fancasting the characters (on Tumblr)

Harriet is Daisy Ridley

Rima is Mandip Gill

Leah is Sofia Boutella

Felix is Keiynan Lonsdale

Kasper is Tom Hardy

Rufus is Rami Malek

Vini is Dylan O’Brien

Oscar is Idris Elba

 Norma is Emma Thompson

[spoiler] is Michael Sheen

Qi is Sandra Oh

Greg is Dominic West

Writing inspirations (on Goodreads)

  • Stoker (2013)
  • The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
  • Monsters by Emerald Fennell
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
  • Pure by Andrew Miller
  • What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
  • Beetlejuice (1988)
  • Crashing (Channel 4, 2016)
  • Being Human (BBC, 2008)
  • Misfits (Channel 4, 2009)
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Editorial services

I currently have openings for my freelance editing. If you’re an aspiring writer who’s completed a manuscript in any genre, please get in touch. I specialise in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, but I’ve worked on non-fiction and memoir writing too.

I focus on developing plot, pacing, character, dialogue and world-building, analysing the work in preparation for submission to a literary agent. I will not be reading your writing for grammar or spelling mistakes, and won’t judge you for errors – I am purely looking at the bigger picture. The fine tuning comes later, when all of the building blocks are in place.

Query Package – Feedback on a cover letter, synopsis and the first 50 pages (or 10,000 words) of a manuscript. Critiques will be a minimum of 1000 words of overall feedback, as well as line edits and comments on the documents.

£115 

Full Manuscript Package – Feedback on a cover letter, synopsis and full manuscript. Critiques will be a minimum of 2500 words and will include a mix of line edits and comments on the documents, and a letter of overall feedback.

This is the best choice if you are willing to invest a lot of time into editing the manuscript to make it the best it can possibly be. If you aren’t able to commit to that level of work, I suggest the line edit package below.

£3.50 per thousand words of manuscript, or £150 for works shorter than 40,000 words (excludes word count of cover letter and synopsis).

Line Edit Package – An in-depth sentence-by-sentence edit of the manuscript, correcting edits and bringing up the prose to the best standard it can be. This edit will make only minor suggestions for changes to character motivations, scene choices and plot points. It will mainly focus on improving what has already been written.

£7.50 per thousand words of manuscript 

Scientific proof-reading (For publishers) – Proofreading and fact-checking of scientific and mathematical diagrams, facts, calculations and equations in Children’s or Adult Science Non-Fiction. Qualifications – First Class MSci in Natural Sciences, specialising in Chemistry and Physics. Previous clients – Walker Books.

£22/hour

Email me at laurenjamesauthor@gmail.com for more information.

Critiques will be sent back within 4 weeks of payment. Manuscripts must be sent as a Microsoft Word document. Payment is taken by PayPal or via Etsy on acceptance of the manuscript. An invoice will be provided. Refunds available upon cancellation, providing the work has not yet been completed. I reserve the right to refuse applications due to time restrictions.

My experience: I have written 9 novels and 4 novellas, and I’m published traditionally in the United Kingdom, USA and Australia. My work has also been translated into 5 languages worldwide. I am a career novelist and make a living wage from my writing. I work as a creative writing teacher for the University of Cambridge’s ICE, Coventry University, Writing West Midlands and WriteMentor.


Testimonials

“Lauren is my first port of call for all my works-in-progress. She has a keen eye for errors and inconsistencies and has made some phenomenal suggestions for improvement, while completely understanding and respecting my own vision.”

Alice Oseman, YA author of Radio Silence and Solitaire and creator of webcomic HEARTSTOPPER.

“Comprehensive feedback, well thought-out comments, and just the right balance between praise and criticism.”

Lucy Saxon, YA fantasy author of The Tellus Series, including Take Back the Skies, The Almost King and The City Bleeds Gold.

“Lauren provides extremely helpful feedback to a high standard and is someone I really trust with my work.”

Kate Ormand, YA author of Dark Days and shape-shifter circus series, The Wanderers and The Pack. The Wanderers was honored as “Winner” in the “Fiction: Young Adult” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards.

“I was excited to have my critique edited by Lauren James! With her stellar advice I was able to get recognised! I trust her with my work.”

Alexandra Perchanidou, Blogger/Author of THREE GHOSTS FOR ANASTASIA

Having Lauren James critique my work was an incredibly helpful experience. She offered great ideas for improvements and was really positive and encouraging about my chapters, and as such I feel so much more confident about moving forward with edits!

Sarah Corrigan, Blogger & Aspiring author

Lauren’s services have been invaluable – I’d been stuck in a cycle of rejections and knew I needed a professional eye to help. Lauren is very fast, efficient and kind which is what you need when sharing your creative work. She’s always there for follow up questions despite her busy schedule. If you’re not sure what to do next with your manuscript, Lauren will have the answer!

Shelley Bartup, Aspiring author

Lauren really helped me shake up stagnant parts of my manuscript that had largely remained in the same format since the first draft. I was unsure of what to do to improve them, but Lauren’s keen editor’s eye and compassion helped me to understand what would work best for my characters.

From using Lauren’s services I have a newfound confidence in my writing abilities and a determination to keep improving my manuscripts. I cannot recommend her enough!

Georgia Campbell, Aspiring author

I’m a huge fan of Lauren’s writing so I was excited to find out that she offers an editorial service. Her report and comments on the manuscript were incredibly detailed and insightful. It’s really useful to get a fresh perspective from someone so knowledgeable and with a proven track record. I’ve since got an agent and will soon be going on submission to publishers.

Amy McCaw, Aspiring author

I can’t recommend Lauren’s editorial services highly enough. Besides her obvious credentials as a successful writer, she is also a talented editor. The feedback she provided on my opening chapters, as well as my book proposal, was not only brilliantly insightful but also super speedy, supportive and great value for money. She is everything your manuscript needs.

Lorna Riley, Aspiring author

After floundering about in a state of writerly anxiety, I knew it was time for my manuscript to be read by someone other than myself and my dog. Lauren has since proved to be completely invaluable. Her thoughtful comments and brilliant feedback left me nodding at my computer; eager to get the next draft underway. Her kindness, efficiency and keen-eye are just what your work-in-progress needs!

Blake Polden, Aspiring author

It’s difficult enough as a writer to share your work with your friends but asking a writer whose work you absolutely love is mildly terrifying. I’m pleased to say that Lauren quickly put me at ease with her helpful mix of positive and constructive feedback. She reminded me of all those things I loved about my stories but helpfully pointed out where the plot wasn’t quite working and challenged me to think the story through. Not only that but she was efficient and exceptionally encouraging, coming back to check how I was progressing with my edits. As a result I had lots of positive feedback describing my manuscript as polished and well written, Lauren has played a vital role in helping me feel confident to query.

Jo Clarke, Aspiring author

Lauren’s editorial eye is superb and her suggestions on changes for my manuscript and query were insightful and spot-on. Her critique gave me the confidence to continue writing LGBTQ stories with complex, realistic, characters – and her knowledge of the YA market is invaluable! Lauren showed a deep understanding of what I was hoping to achieve with my manuscript and working with her was an absolute joy that I would recommend to any aspiring author. With Lauren’s guidance I have received some good feedback from agents on my submission and hope to further this success in the future.

Jen Gallagher, Aspiring author

 

Hugo Award Eligibility

As nominations are now open for the Hugo Awards, here is your reminder that both The Quiet at the End of the World (Walker Books, 2019) and The Starlight Watchmaker (Barrington Stoke, 2019) are eligible in the Lodestar Award for Best YA category. At 19,000 words long, The Starlight Watchmaker is also eligible in the Novella category.

An Unauthorised Fan Treatise could also be nominated as a Best Related Work.

This spreadsheet contains all other eligible works (still being updated!).

Thank you!

Books I want to read in ’20

It’s the previews post! A lot of the books I include in these posts usually find their way into my end-of-year favourites posts a year later, so this is a sneak peek at what I’ll be loving this year. Enjoy!

Previously: 15 books I want to read in ’15 | 16 books I want to read in ’16 | 17 books I wanted to read in ’17 | Books I Want to Read in 2018 | Books I want to read in ’19

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16) Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

In this irreverent essay collection, Ortberg expands on this concept with in-depth and hilarious studies of all things pop culture, from the high to low brow. From a thoughtful analysis on the beauty of William Shatner to a sinister reimagining of HGTV’s House HuntersSomething That May Shock and Discredit You is a laugh-out-loud funny and whip-smart collection for those who don’t take anything—including themselves—much too seriously.

15) Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis 

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker, and thinks she knows all about Harrow Lake, the setting of his most famous movie.

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But when her father is brutally attacked and she’s sent there to stay with her reclusive grandmother, she realizes the town is harbouring secrets more horrifying than she could ever have imagined. Not only is this the place where her mother disappeared without a trace, it’s a town holding on to a dark past that’s even more frightening than her father’s movies. As Lola is drawn deeper into the town’s grip, she starts to question what’s real, what happened to her mother, and whether she’ll ever get out of Harrow Lake alive.

47886781._SY475_14) Again Again by E. Lockhart

In this novel full of surprises from the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart ups the ante with an inventive and romantic story about human connection, forgiveness, self-discovery, and possibility.

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times—while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

13) Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

The story follows 16-year-old Ash Persaud who is hit by a car on New Year’s Eve. Afterwards, Ash exists in the afterlife where she is one of three fierce girl-reapers who collect the souls of the city’s dead to be taken to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy Morgan, and she’s determined to see her again, dead or alive.

45888918._SY475_12) Better Than IRL: True Stories About Finding Your People On The Untamed Internet by Katie West

Better Than IRL will be a collection of true stories written by people who fostered connection and sharing on the internet. True stories like the ones above, which will all be included in the collection. The book will be personal and hopeful. It won’t be nostalgic moaning about how the internet isn’t what it once was—it will discuss how it made us into who we are now and how we can take the lessons we learned about inclusion and belonging to be better people going forward. With talented authors from Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, USA, Singapore, UK, and Liberia, the book covers a wide array of experiences with the beginnings of the Web 2.0.

45166076._SY475_11) The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

41Eu6wYOtpL10) The Paper & Hearts Society: Read with Pride by Lucy Powrie 

The much anticipated second book in The Paper & Hearts Society series by Booktuber Lucy Powrie. Will you be the next recruit for The Paper & Hearts Society book club?

Olivia Santos is determined to win the National School Book Club Award for her school – she just has to come up with an original idea for a school library book club and recruit students. Luckily, she’s the mastermind behind The Paper & Hearts Society, a book club that she runs for her friends.

When Olivia discovers the need for more LGBTQ+ titles in her school library, an idea forms which has the potential to inspire a new book club, encourage more students to read, and make the library as inclusive as possible.

But with two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.

Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you …

479027849) Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells

Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

8) Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

When a common thief finds himself on the wrong side of the law, his punishment is to join an evil sorcerer on a perilous journey to uncover a lost fae relic. The relic turns out to be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince. Together they must save the world from the evil sorcerer, while trying not to fall in love with each other.

479993467) The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

The hair stood up at the back of my neck. Those letters meant something. And with the cipher machine, I’d worked it out myself.

1940. Facing a seemingly endless war, fifteen-year-old Louisa Adair wants to fight back, make a difference, do something-anything to escape the Blitz and the ghosts of her parents, who were killed by enemy action. But when she accepts a position caring for an elderly German woman in the small village of Windyedge, Scotland, it hardly seems like a meaningful contribution. Still, the war feels closer than ever in Windyedge, where Ellen McEwen, a volunteer driver with the Royal Air Force, and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a flight leader for the 648 Squadron, are facing a barrage of unbreakable code and enemy attacks they can’t anticipate.

Their paths converge when a German pilot lands in Windyedge under mysterious circumstances and plants a key that leads Louisa to an unparalleled discovery: an Enigma machine that translates German code. Louisa, Ellen, and Jamie must work together to unravel a puzzle that could turn the tide of the war? but doing so will put them directly in the cross-hairs of the enemy.71VzIPQZyrL

6) Murder Most Unladylike Book 9 by Robin Stevens

The final novel in the bestselling, award-winning Murder Most Unladylike series.

42074525._SY475_5) The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

42115981._SY475_4) Loveless by Alice Oseman

The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

Georgia feels loveless – in the romantic sense, anyway. She’s eighteen, never been in a relationship, or even had a crush on a single person in her whole life. She thinks she’s an anomaly, people call her weird, and she feels a little broken. But she still adores romance – weddings, fan fiction, and happily ever afters. She knows she’ll find her person one day … right?

After a disastrous summer, Georgia is now at university, hundreds of miles from home. She is more determined than ever to find love – and her annoying roommate, Rooney, is a bit of a love expert, so perhaps she can help.

But maybe Georgia just doesn’t feel that way about guys. Or girls. Or anyone at all. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe she can find happiness without falling in love. And maybe Rooney is a little more loveless than she first appears.

LOVELESS is a journey of identity, self-acceptance, and finding out how many different types of love there really are. And that no one is really loveless after all.

356589773) The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley

1888. Five years after they met in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Thaniel Steepleton, an unassuming translator, and Keita Mori, the watchmaker who remembers the future, are traveling to Japan. Thaniel has received an unexpected posting to the British legation in Tokyo, and Mori has business that is taking him to Yokohama.

Thaniel’s brief is odd: the legation staff have been seeing ghosts, and Thaniel’s first task is to find out what’s really going on. But while staying with Mori, he starts to experience ghostly happenings himself. For reasons Mori won’t–or can’t–share, he is frightened. Then he vanishes.

Meanwhile, something strange is happening in a frozen labor camp in Northern Japan. Takiko Pepperharrow, an old friend of Mori’s, must investigate.

81aIOdz+eALAs the weather turns bizarrely electrical and ghosts haunt the country from Tokyo to Aokigahara forest, Thaniel grows convinced that it all has something to do with Mori’s disappearance–and that Mori may be in serious danger.

2) The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison

A sequel to The Goblin Emperor, set during Maia’s reign.

31sR6NXXSHL1) Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi has always lived in the House. It has hundreds if not thousands of rooms and corridors, imprisoning an ocean. A watery labyrinth. Once in a while he sees his friend, The Other, who needs Piranesi for his scientific research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. Piranesi records his findings in his journal. Then messages begin to appear; all is not what it seems. A terrible truth unravels as evidence emerges of another person and perhaps even another world outside the House’s walls.

 


Personally, in 2020 I will have two books out – a novella with Barrington Stoke and The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker, as well as my serialised novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise, which will be running until May 2020.

 

My favourite books of 2019

It’s the blog post I look forward to allll year: my best reads! This year I read 250 books, so it was a hard job to narrow this down to my favourites. Here are my previous lists:

2018 favourites | 2017 favourites 2016 favourites | 2015 favourites | 2014 favourites

I’ve not included any of my friends’ books here, for reasons of bias, but you should also check out: It Won’t be Christmas Without You by Beth Reekles, Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, The One Who’s Not the One by Keris Stainton, The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, Under A Dancing Star by Laura Wood, Lucky Caller by Emma Mills, The Lost Tide Warriors by Catherine Doyle, Deeplight by Frances Hardinge and Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens. Phew, I have some prolific friends!

All links lead to Amazon. Also, * means they were gifted by the publisher, and † means I borrowed them from the library. The others were purchased.


Top 10 published in 2019

41020406._SX318_10) The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta*

A beautifully written, empathetic look at a young boy searching for who he really is. Absolutely wonderful.


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9) Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

A lovely, seasonal romance told over one night in a Halloween/Autumn theme park. Really sweet and heartwarming.


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8) Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh*

Imaginative, beautifully written and evocative, this is a love story of magic, fairies, imprisoned souls and sentient trees. Short and wonderfully sweet.


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7) Underland by Robert Macfarlane

If you’ve read The Quiet at the End of the World, you know I love deep, dark caves; buried, forgotten treasure; and the future of human artefacts. This is a non-fiction guide to all of these things. I wish this book had been published when I was writing it, because it would have been so useful! Beautiful writing and thoughtful, philosophical nature discussions.


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6) Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m a die-hard TJR fan. Every single one of her books has been such a hit. I think EVELYN HUGO is still my favourite, but I still read this in one evening too. A fictional take on a spoke history of a seventies rock band feud. A great look at unreliable narrators and biased storytelling.


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5) Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino 

Essays about internet culture, modern feminism, performatism online, and fake news contributing to politics. I’ve been thinking a lot about these topics as I write An Unauthorised Fan Treatise, so this was a very interesting read.


4)41150487._SY475_ Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston*

Utterly romantic and heart warming, with some of the most beautiful love letters I’ve ever read in fiction. You will cry, or you aren’t human.


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3) To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers*

A near-future look at a manned mission to research primitive alien life outside the solar system. The crew wear patches that alter their genes to adapt to each planet – making their skin glitter on low-light moons, giving them more muscle strength on high gravity planets, etc. The alien lifeforms are fascinating and distinctly non-Earthian. I loved the crew too – some amazing diversity of race and sexuality for only 4 characters. The ending really struck a chord with me too – it made me think a lot about what the true purpose of space travel might be, and what we hope to get out of it as a race.


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2) The True Queen by Zen Cho 

I’ve been anticipating this book for a long time, since loving the first in the series, Sorcerer to the Crown, and it lived up to all my expectations! The new characters were so brilliant, and seeing what my old favourites are up to was just lovely. This series feels so original and new, with the Malaysian take on Regency romances. Shout out to the Wodehouse dragon, too.


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1) My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A dark comedy novella about a woman whose sister keeps ‘accidentally’ killing her boyfriends. When her sister starts dating the co-worker she’s crushing on, she has to decide where her loyalty lies – with her friend,who might die, or with her sister. The ending was absolutely perfect, and I’m so happy it went the way it did.


Top 5 books published before 2019

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5) Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

A non-fiction biography of the life of Leonardo da Vinci, this talks a lot about his experiences as a gay man. I found it really interesting, and especially surprising because of just how much we know about his life, even though he lived so long ago. It went into a lot of detail about how his life and work was researched, which I found fascinating.


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4) The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young

A cookbook where each recipe is paired with a novel – usually something the characters eat in the book! This is very quintessentially British, and I keep going back to it when I’m trying to choose what to cook. It’s a very comforting read.


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3) Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

A non fiction memoir by an American crematorium worker. A super interesting look at the current ethical discussions going on in the ‘death’ industry, as well as some of the science of disposing of bodies.


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2) The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

A novella series about a non-binary android designed as a security guard/killer, who’s more interested in watching tv shows. They use gender-neutral pronouns and are absolutely adorable.


38606192._SX318_1) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik*

This was just….such a continual joy. The absolute drowning immersion in the characters lives, the unpredictability of the plot, that moment when the characters’ storylines all converged in the best way, and monstrous love interests who are really and truly monstrous.

 

Did you read any of these? What did I miss? I would love more recs!

And personally, in 2019 I published two books – The Quiet at the End of the World and The Starlight Watchmaker– and started releasing a serialised online novel, An Unauthorised Fan Treatise.

Finally, a reminder from an author – if you’re making your own list of favourite books of 2019, please make sure you thank the author by adding your reviews to Amazon. It’s a small, quick thing that can make a huge difference to authors.

1 week left to apply for my YA mentoring course

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JUST 1 WEEK LEFT TO APPLY! Sign up for my 15 week mentoring course with WriteMentor. 1 fully funded scholarship place is available.

This course is designed for writers of YA fiction, who are already competent in the basics of writing craft, but wish to elevate their work to the next level.

It is a demanding, intense course which will require a huge degree of commitment from everyone who gets a place. But like pressure and heat does to graphite, you too can produce a diamond.

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Start date: Monday 13th January 2020
End date: Sunday 5th May 2020

Cost: £600

Number of students: 10

Eligibility:  You must have written at least 15,000 words of a YA novel and be able to give feedback to two writers every week during the 15 week course. This is a COMPULSORY element of the course.

Time commitment:
Approx 10 hours a week – this is an intense course and you should only apply if you feel you can commit this time for the duration of the 15 weeks.

Mechanics of feedback:
The students selected will send 3 x 5000 word extracts to Lauren for critique and also post 3 x 5000 word extracts for their 9 peers to critique. Students may chose to have the same extracts reviewed by both Lauren and their peers, or they can choose to post different ones.

You will submit 3 extracts to Lauren:

– Round 1: 1st 5K submitted – due 13th January.

– Round 2: 2nd 5K submitted – due 17th February.

– Round 3: 3rd 5k submitted – due 23rd March.

Lauren will also review your query letter if you are at this stage.

Each student will also get a 1-2-1 consultation with Lauren during the second half of the course to discuss progress, strengths, development areas and moving forward.

Content:
Every fortnight, Lauren will produce a set of craft notes of a variety of writing topics. The course notes will use examples taken from Lauren’s published writing to illustrate the lessons.

Applications:
Please note that Lauren will require to see a 1500 word outline of the whole story in addition to the writing sample asked for. She will give you feedback on this outline and our students have all found this extremely worthwhile.

APPLICATION FORM: https://forms.gle/zV9VMiu5uZmUFBUW8
CLOSING DATE: December 24th

Contact WriteMentor with any application queries!

Location:
Online

Agents:

At the end of the course, the following agents have agreed to look at your completed manuscript:

Claire Wilson (RCW), Clare Wallace (Darley Anderson) and Jo Williamson (Antony Harwood).

Testimonial:

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