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


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.


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.


9) Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes PBK mech.indd

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.


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


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.


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.

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.

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.

CLOSING DATE: December 24th

Contact WriteMentor with any application queries!



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).



STEAM Book Prize double shortlisting and story update

Hugely thrilled that both The Quiet at the End of the World and The Starlight Watchmaker have been shortlisted for the2020 STEAM Children’s Book Prize, celebrating science in fiction!

Here’s the full YA list:

Beauty Sleepby Kathryn EvansUsborne
The Chaos of Nowby Erin LangeFaber & Faber
The Starlight Watchmakerby Lauren JamesBarrington Stoke
Nowhere on Earthby Nick LakeHodder
The Quiet at the End of the Worldby Lauren JamesWalker Books
Earth Swarmby Tim HallDavid Fickling Books

An Unauthorised Fan Treatise is now on chapter 8, 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.

update ch8x


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

Story update, mentoring course & more

update ch 5x.png

An Unauthorised Fan Treatise – new chapter update!

A serialised murder mystery novel set in a fictional fandom, formatted like a shipper’s conspiracy theory.

Start from the beginning >>
Goodreads >>
Support >>


My 15 week course for aspiring YA writers is back! Apply by 24th December for a 13th January start. 1 scholarship place is available, fully funded by WriteMentor.

The first course has been so much fun, with such a diverse mix of writers. They’ve already improved so much and the course isn’t even over yet. I can’t wait to see who applies for the second round.

This is a high pressure course that will require a lot of time. You will be given more editing suggestions than you will know what to do with. This is a course for those who are truly prepared to tear apart every inch of their manuscript to make it better.

More info and apply here.

Two lovely features for The Starlight Watchmaker this week – a review in The Book Curator in Australia, and a nice interview in Gardner’s catalogue! It’s so nice seeing the suport for this book. I think I should probably start thinking about what comes next for Hugo and Dorian!

barrington stoke


I just got my latest royalty statement and my books have now sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe has earnt out its advance with Walker Books! Thank you to everyone who’s bought a copy of one of my books, and helped me get this far. x


Carnegie nomination for The Starlight Watchmaker!



Super exciting news today! The Starlight Watchmaker has been nominated for the Carnegie medal! This is so exciting, especially as nominations come from librarians themselves, who know exactly what teenagers are reading. Congratulations to everyone else on the list!

If you haven’t read it yet, you can still get signed copies in the sale in my shop with code DISCOUNT20


Plus, ‘An Unauthorised Fan Treatise’ new chapter update!

A serialised murder mystery novel set in a fictional fandom, formatted like a shipper’s conspiracy theory

Start from the beginning >>

Latest chapter (updates weekly!) >> 

update ch 3



Chapters 1 and 2 of An Unauthorised Fan Treatise

Here are the latest updates for An Unauthorised Fan Treatise:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Support on Patreon to read the next chapter now too, a week ahead of the general public.

More info:

AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE (on the nature of the relationship between actors Rob Hennings and Nathan O’Donnell on TV show Loch & Ness, by @gottiewrites)

Gottie is a fangirl for Loch & Ness, a TV show about paranormal detectives. She’s convinced that two of the male actors are secretly dating, and she’ll stop at nothing to prove it. When her online investigations accidentally uncover far more than she expects, she becomes complicit in secrets beyond just a romantic conspiracy theory.

An internet thriller told in a ‘true crime’ style recollection of events, the novel includes social media extracts such as modern Tumblr posts and early-noughties LiveJournal blog entries.

annoucnement insta

Upcoming Events

Monthly: Sparks Young Writers classes, Rugby, Years 5-9 – book here

Monthly: WritersHQ writing retreats at Holy Trinity Church, Coventry – details here – Upcoming dates: 23rd Nov

1-2nd Feb 2020: WriteMentor Writing Workshop – Coventry, details here

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

30th May 2020: Day course in ‘Write the one percent: creating diverse, inclusive fiction’ at University of Cambridge – tickets here

I’m releasing a serialised novel online!

final cover.png

It’s time for another special announcement! Starting on 14th October, I’m going to be releasing a new chapter of a novel online every Monday until March 2020.

Obsessed with Caroline Calloway? Remember MsScribe, One Direction’s Babygate, the Lorde powerpoint, the Kaylor drama, or Cassandra Clare’s LiveJournal days (see below)? Still miss the Serial podcast? If so, this is the story for you. I’ve channelled my lifetime obsession with weird internet conspiracy theories into creating the ultimate fandom drama.

AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE (on the nature of the relationship between actors Rob Hennings and Nathan O’Donnell on TV show Loch & Ness, by @gottiewrites)

Gottie is a fangirl for Loch & Ness, a TV show about paranormal detectives. She’s convinced that two of the male actors are secretly dating, and she’ll stop at nothing to prove it. When her online investigations accidentally uncover far more than she expects, she becomes complicit in secrets beyond just a romantic conspiracy theory.

An internet thriller told in a ‘true crime’ style recollection of events, the novel includes social media extracts such as modern Tumblr posts and early-noughties LiveJournal blog entries. 

I wanted to write a story set online because I’ve thirsted for books about internet culture my entire life. I can’t remember a time without the internet. I’m sure there probably was a time I didn’t use the internet (probably around the time Harry Potter first came into my life), but I don’t remember it.

Despite that, books rarely, if ever, talk about life online. There might be occasional references to Facebook, but they don’t actually talk about the internet. At least not as a vital, relationship defining form of communication, the way I use it. My friendships wouldn’t be the same without the internet. The way I speak to people, and the language and topics we cover, are completely different online to the way we talk in real life. The internet has a language all of its own. There are subcultures upon subcultures, stacked together like a Russian doll. This novel is an attempt to explore that in the language of the internet: comments and anonymous asks and forum posts.

All the ‘fandom’ YA books I’ve read are told in prose, and don’t really go into this much investigative detail about what fans get up to online. I think teenagers today, who have grown up with the internet like I did, are incredibly well-versed in this kind of detective work online, and I hardly ever see it in books. It’s a massive skill that a lot of teenagers don’t know they have, and I’d love to see that celebrated more. This kind of internet-based narrative is so fascinating to me because it’s such a unique space to tell stories that have never been told before. So I hope that you like it, or at least find it interesting and refreshing to read!

You can sign up at the bottom of the page of the website to receive email updates of each new chapter, or add it on Goodreads. You can also sign up for my mailing list to receive general book updates (you won’t get each chapter unless you sign up at the website).

Read online 

I wrote the entire first draft of An Unauthorised Fan Treatise over a few weeks last July while my dad was having a triple heart bypass. It was pure comfort writing as a distraction during a very stressful time. I just wanted to write about obsessive fangirls breaking the law (who doesn’t?). My dad is back to full health now, so this is still a really important novel to me.

Because the story is told entirely through social media posts, and so different from my normal novels, I wanted to share it online first before it’s published (I think we’ll have to add in prose sections and more explanations of the ‘internet’ content beforehand). This is my first contemporary YA, and I’m so nervous and excited to be writing in a new genre! Especially one that’s so close to my heart.

If you’re excited for the novel, here’s some of my favourite write-ups of weird events that have happened on the internet. The fan essay is an unappreciated form of artwork that deserves to be more widely shared. Consider this a primer in the narrative potential of the internet, for anyone who hasn’t spent their whole childhood in internet black holes (cannot relate).

Note: these are all looooong. I personally put these on my Kindle and read them as weird bedtime stories, so the second link is to a PDF which you can download if you’d like to do the same.

Second note: You will probably be confused by some of the terminology and events discussed in these essays. That’s because internet culture is fast moving, and sadly, is not very well documented, unlike other periods of history (except by the University of Iowa, who I adore). Treat these documents like primary sources from Ancient Greece, and read them with the expectation you’ll have to pick up certain things as you go along. The fact that internet culture has changed so much in the three decades it has existed is absolutely fascinating to me, and makes these essays all the more interesting. This article is a really good general introduction to obsessive fandom.

10) The Cassandra Clare one (PDF) 2006 – This one is about the YA author from her Harry Potter fandom days, circa 2002 on LiveJournal. A masterclass in detective work

9) That Lorde powerpoint (PDF) 2018 – everyone has seen this one recently, I think, about Lorde’s affair with her producer. A fresh take on the typical fan essay, that’s very visual.

8) The Scott/Tessa secret baby one (PDF) 2013 – A view into the mind of a fan who is convinced the ice skaters are not only in a relationship, but have a child.

7)  Kaylor timeline (PDF) 2015 – a collection of meticulously compiled tumblr posts documenting every interaciton that Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss have ever had. A+ work, here.

6) The real life cult (PDF) 2002 – WHY

5) Caroline Calloway and Natalie Beach 2019 – Still on-going! See here for more.

4)The terrifying Korean stalkers (PDF) 2012– this gives me chills, still.

3) The Dan/Phil one (PDF) 2011 – I really hope the person who researched this now works for the FBI because the level of detail is immense. This is the only youtuber one on this list, but I’m sure there’s a lot more of these kind of essays out there. Happily, Dan and Phil came public as a couple this year!

2) The inevitable One Direction one (PDF) 2014 – I LOVE THIS. (Also worthy of note: 1D’s rainbow bears)

1) The msscribe story (PDF) 2006 – The original. The best. If you read the above Cassandra Claire saga, a lot of the cast involved in that will be familiar to you here. This involves a fan who desperately tried to become friends with Cassandra Clare, and ended up causing a huge rift in the community instead. This literally rewrote my brain and made me the human being I am today. (I am old enough to recognise a lot of the usernames in this story. I wasn’t there in 2001, but I was definitely in the HP fandom a few years after that.) Here’s a sample chapter. It’s like the Serial podcast, in the sheer scale of collaborative investigation going on in real time with readers.

Title reveal!


Introducing. . . THE RECKLESS AFTERLIFE OF HARRIET STOKER! Coming out on 3rd September 2020 with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, this is my first ever fantasy novel. It’s a big one – it’s currently 110,000 words, which is the longest thing I’ve ever written. It’s 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’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?) I’ve been talking about this project using the code name ‘ghost house’ since 2016, so it’s really odd that it has a title now.

Here’s the official blurb:

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.


The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker will be published in the UK and Australia by Walker Books on 3rd September 2020.

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