Tag Archives: Ethersay

The Big Blurb Reveal!

Today I’m delighted to reveal the blurb for my forthcoming novel, The House at Kirtlebeck End:

I hope it has you intrigued! The House at Kirtlebeck End is a paranormal mystery/suspense novel, and will be available in ebook and paperback format on 2nd December 2019.

To celebrate the imminent release of my next book, my first contemporary novel Ethersay is currently 99p / 99c on Amazon Kindle. If you haven’t read Ethersay, you can check out the book’s description and promotional trailer here, and you can click here to pick up your copy.

Ethersay – Chapter 1

Ethersay is still on sale for 99p/99c for Kindle until the end of May. To entice you all to take advantage of this great deal, today I thought I’d give you a preview of chapter one. In the first part of the story we meet Rebecca who, we quickly discover, has decided to run away from some pretty heavy personal and political trauma, with unforeseen consequences…

1

The day after the referendum, my life fell apart. It wasn’t obvious at first. Initially, I couldn’t see how bad I’d allowed things to become, how much of a mess I’d made of everything. No, at first I allowed the copious amounts of alcohol and cigarettes – yes, that old habit reared its ugly head from the graveyard of my youth – to numb me, to help me feel nothing, to help me forget how much it hurt. Then I saw him and all of a sudden it hit me, like the proverbial ton of bricks. It hit me so hard that it took my breath away. I knew then that I had to run.

Of course, I realise that it wasn’t really the referendum’s fault. The referendum, or the referendum on Scottish independence, to call it by its proper name, was more the catalyst, the match which lit the touch paper I call my life. And sure as fire is fire, it ignited me, filled me with a passion I had never felt before. It was a wonderful, addictive thing, to feel so enlivened, so empowered. For months I lived on the cusp of destiny; I lapped it up, unable to satiate my thirst. If only I’d let the passion remain political, then perhaps I wouldn’t be in the mess I’m in now.

“The Prime Minister assures Tory MPs that he will cut public spending in Scotland,” a monotone voice bleats forth from the radio. It is the sort of voice I’d noticed more and more over these past few months; that insidious media voice, the one with the gift for expressing opinion as fact, half-truth as perceived knowledge.

I turn it off, swiping the button angrily with my finger. I am in no mood to listen to that right now.

The tears well up in my eyes once again as I ruminate on the events of the past few hours. How could I have been so foolish? How could I not see what was right in front of me? I brush the tears away but they continue to form, blurring my view of the road ahead. I realise that I have no idea where I am. I glance at the clock on the dashboard. It is past midnight, the sky outside the colour of pitch tar. I sigh, realising autumn is here. Mere weeks ago I could still see that majestic band of blue lingering on the northern horizon. That is one thing I love about Scottish summertime; the long days, and the way that when night finally falls, the darkness is always delectably incomplete. It reminds me of how far north Scotland is. For some reason, I like the idea of being north.

I wonder how far north I would have to drive to see those tantalising blue hues, deeper than azure, brighter than navy. I feel as though they’re calling to me as I continue to drive, pushing my foot down harder and harder on the accelerator. I remember again that I don’t know where I am, or how long I have been driving. I light a cigarette, inhaling deeply as I realise that I don’t care. I don’t care about anything anymore. I don’t care where I’m headed, or what’s behind me.

Reaching down, I put on some music. Screw the radio and its triumphalist propaganda, its pro-establishment bile echoing across the airwaves, laughing at our defeat, stamping on our hopes for change, our aspirations for progress. Since we lost, the news had felt like one big ‘ha ha, we gotcha!’ and I hadn’t the stomach for it anymore. I need to block it out. I need to get away from it. I need to get away from everything.

In my more lucid moments, I had searched the internet for ways to emigrate. I’d learnt all about Australia and Canada and what I’d need to do to go there. I’d daydreamed about jumping on a plane, or indeed a boat, just like many of my Scottish ancestors had undoubtedly done, braving the rough seas in the hope of finding a new life, a better life. Unlike my ancestors, however, I know that there is no promised land, no greener grass on the other side of a vast ocean. The modern world is small, and known, and infinitely disappointing. In the end, I’d shut the lid of my laptop, listening to its short, sharp click as it dawned on me that I might not have the desire to stay, but neither did I have the will to leave.

Yet leaving was exactly what I’d done. I’d jumped in my car and run away, maybe not as far away as Australia, but far enough to put a safe distance between myself and my life and all the people I love.

“I mean loved,” I say aloud. The past tense is definitely more appropriate for some of them now.

I groan as the heavy drumbeat of Muse’s Uprising begins to play. I used to love that song; now I can’t bear to hear it. I recall how he had told me that it was his favourite song. I remember how he took me back to his flat, how we put on some music and drank wine and danced. In my mind’s eye, I see him grow animated as this song begins to play, his singing touchingly out of tune as he bellows the lyrics, air guitar firmly in hand. Decisively, I press the skip button. I can’t stand to be reminded of him right now.

“London Grammar. That’s better,” I say, finding immediate respite in a more peaceful melody. Respite, but not solace. More tears fall. Why can I not stop crying? The road in front becomes a blur once again as I stub out my cigarette. It’s a terrible habit; I shouldn’t have started smoking again. Another bad choice, but it’s the least of my worries now.

I feel my eyelids begin to grow heavy. It’s late; I should find somewhere to pull over and rest. I squint as I look through my windscreen, hoping to find somewhere sensible to stop. The road ahead is winding and narrow, its surface uneven under the wheels of my little car. A country road. Great; I am in the middle of nowhere. In an effort to keep myself from falling asleep, I wind my window down, allowing the cool night air to refresh me. I breathe in deeply, thinking that I can smell the sea; its delicious fragrance fills my car, the scent of salt and seaweed surrounds me.

Metallica’s The Unforgiven. The song is painfully appropriate. I hit the skip button again, my hands shaking as I start to feel chilled by the night air. I begin to long for my warm bed, the comforting familiarity of my soft sheets inviting me into peaceful slumber.

“Rebecca, stop it,” I chastise myself. “You can’t go home. There’s nothing left for you there now.”

Talking to myself. Isn’t that the first sign of madness? I laugh bitterly, sorrowfully. I am right, though. I can’t go home. It isn’t my home anymore. The gentle rustling sound made by the full bin bags flung carelessly on the back seat is a testament to that.

My car’s engine rumbles, a low, incessant hum, like bees busy at work in a swarming hive. I fling the car faster and faster along the undulating road. Live dangerously, die smiling – someone said that to me once. I feel my face crumple once again. I don’t think I want to die. I’m just not sure I want to live, either.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see something run into the path of my speeding car. A deer? A grouse? A person? My heart pounds hard in my chest as I slam my foot on the brake. I can’t kill something, or someone, today. This cannot be how today ends. Today has been horrible enough, without this. I swerve, desperately trying to avoid whichever poor creature has found itself in front of me. There is a terrible thud, followed by a pained squeal. Beneath my hands, I feel my steering wheel become heavy, useless. My tyres screech, twisted and aimless as my car leaves the road. I close my eyes as I feel myself turning, spinning. It is a bizarre sensation, momentary weightlessness followed by crushing pain as my body is shoved against the hard surface of my car. I try to scream but no sound comes out of my mouth. I lick my lips, the metallic flavour of blood overpowering me.

Foolishly, I struggle, trying to free myself. I hit my head against the roof of the car as it crushes down above me – or below me, for in the dark I cannot tell which way round I am. I am dizzy now, the warming sensation of blood as it trickles down my face making me feel simultaneously panicked and drowsy. I begin to slip away, my injured head lulling me to sleep with fantasies of climbing between those warm, soft sheets back home.

My last thought is that he is there beside me, his arms around me as he whispers sweet sentiments in my ear. I see his face, I hear his voice; I feel the rough bristles of his beard against my skin. Then he is gone, and everything fades to black.


Ethersay is available from Amazon now.

Ethersay Sale

Good news, folks! Ethersay is on sale at 99p/99c on Kindle until the end of May. So, if you haven’t yet had chance to read my contemporary novel which I released in 2017, now is your chance to snap it up at a bargain price.

Not heard of Ethersay? Want to know what it’s about? Check out the blurb:

Ethersay Cover

“The day after the referendum, my life fell apart…”

The day after the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, Glaswegian Yes activist Rebecca Owen decides to run away. After being involved in a car accident she is knocked unconscious and when she wakes, she finds herself inexplicably marooned on an isolated Scottish island, Ethersay.

Suffering from memory loss, Rebecca finds herself drawn into the island’s mysteries, particularly those surrounding the strange disappearance of a young woman, Delilah Berry, whose fate seems to be inextricably intertwined with her own. As Rebecca draws closer to the truth about Delilah, she is forced to confront what happened to her in Glasgow, and everything she lost, with devastating consequences…

A stirring tale of passion, loss and betrayal, Ethersay is a novel about the search for truth, but also the pain of remembering.

What readers have said:

“A book you can lose yourself in on a winter day. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it yet. Buy it!”

“A gem of a book. Couldn’t put it down from the minute I opened it.”

“The twists and turns of this book are numerous and heart breaking.”

“What a terrific novel. It had me hooked from the first page and I read it in two sittings as I didn’t want to put it aside until the mystery of Ethersay was revealed.”

“The way King infused Scotland’s political history into the story was brilliant, and all the mystery, suspense, and drama kept me intrigued and clutching my chest at times.”

Ethersay is available from Amazon now. If you’ve previously read and enjoyed Ethersay, please share and spread the word!

 

The Safe Space

Ethersay is now six months old. To mark its half year anniversary, today I’d like to share some words I wrote which explain how my own experiences during the Scottish independence campaign eventually moved me to write this novel. 

For me, the day after the independence referendum was a blur of tiredness and disbelief. Everything was done on autopilot: taking the kids to school, picking them up, heading to the shops for some retail distraction. Everyone else seemed to be the same, too. I remember walking around Livingston shopping centre and noticing how quiet it was – the place itself was busy, but the people there were muted, sombre, reflective. Disappointment hung in the air like rain on a dreich winter’s day: disappointment in ourselves, disappointment in Scotland. Disappointment that the vision we had for our country would not, at that moment in time at least, be realised. And perhaps above all, an aching disappointment at the realisation that dependence had won.

Much of that disappointment, of course, would have belonged to those who voted Yes. But I always wonder how many of those who voted No woke up that day and realised that they felt disappointed, too.

Prior to the referendum, I had started writing my first historical novel, having set myself the bucket-list style challenge of publishing a book before my thirtieth birthday. In that final, crucial six months of campaigning I had put my project on hold, throwing myself entirely into political activism in a way that I had never done before. Sure, I had campaigned for my party’s candidates in various elections, but this was different, somehow – it felt so vital, so momentous, so all-consuming. For six months, I lived and breathed the independence referendum. I walked miles; I chapped doors, delivered leaflets, worked on street stalls. I did everything I possibly could. If I give this my all, I remember thinking, then perhaps it will be enough. Perhaps we will win.

And then we lost. I still struggle to describe what it felt like once it was over, once I knew we hadn’t won. Emptiness, numbness, grief – none of those words seem to quite fit.  All I know is that at that point, all I wanted to do was throw myself back into writing, and I did. Thank goodness I had my book to focus on, to distract me, to give me something to think about other than politics during those long, dark autumn days.

During 2015 and 2016, I published my first book then wrote and published its sequel – two historical fiction novels, set hundreds of years ago in my native Lancashire. They were a welcome escape, intellectually and emotionally. They were somewhere I could go and not think about how absolutely gutted I still was and for a long time, that was great.

Gradually, however, I found my gaze shifting back towards the independence referendum. By this point almost two years had passed and so much had changed at a pace which is still astonishing. Creatively, it felt like the right time to look back, to take those experiences and those feelings and weave them into fiction. Then I had a dream (yes, really) about a woman who finds herself stranded on a remote island with no memory of how she got there. I remember waking up and immediately jotting down the idea, spinning its threads, developing it through questions: who is she? How did she get there? What is it that she can’t remember?

What if she was a Yes campaigner?

What if the referendum had irrevocably changed her life?

An idea was born; an idea which over the subsequent weeks and months became my third novel, Ethersay.

Of course, it is important to say that the woman in the book isn’t me, that she is a work of fiction, as is every other character in the book. But as the saying goes, you should write what you know. I also feel, to paraphrase another saying, that if you’re ever going to have a clear idea of where you’re going, then you must understand where you’ve been. Stories can help us to do that; they can resemble real life but be remote enough from it to provide a safe space in which to explore the emotional and psychological impacts of our experiences. Stories can help us to reflect, to digest, and to engage. Perhaps above all, stories can help us to come to a better understanding of ourselves.

And in my view, if Scotland is going to move forward as a nation, if we’re going to realise our massive potential as we navigate the murky, brexiting waters of present times, we need to do exactly that. I hope Ethersay contributes to that but if not, well, it was damn cathartic writing it.

Ethersay is available at Amazon / iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / Kobo

Over the Sea to Skye…

Phew, it’s the end of another quick and busy week! Thank you to everyone who shared, liked or otherwise supported spreading the word about the Ethersay sale this week. And of course, thank you to those who picked up a copy of the book! The sale went really well, with Ethersay peaking at number 2 in the ‘Religious and Inspirational Mystery’ category on Amazon UK. I admit after seeing that I did become a temporary rankings obsessive – it may take me most of the weekend to calm down after all the excitement!

The topic of today’s post is not strictly book-related as I thought I’d share some reflections and photos from my recent travels. Two weeks ago, I finally went a place that I’ve wanted to visit for years. After much wistful thinking and hint-dropping on my part, my family and I spent a week on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland. Alert readers might have already guessed about my love of rugged Scottish islands – much of the imagery and landscape in Ethersay, for example, is inspired by Scotland’s western isles, some I’ve visited, others I haven’t. I also might have hinted at my enthusiasm in a previous post about my short visit to the Isle of Bute in February!

In my mind, the Isle of Skye has always been the epitome of wild, magical beauty and I have to say, after a week on the island, the reality did not disappoint. Today I thought I’d share a few of my favourite photos with you, taken all over the island during a week of walking, generally great weather and otherworldly scenery.

So, I have now returned home, feeling refreshed and ready to get on with some writing. I still have a novella to finish and a few new projects which I am keen to get underway. And of course, I have the Words and Deeds Anthology which I plan to put together, for which I am still seeking submissions until 30th April.  I think it’s safe to say that the Spring break is almost over, and it’s going to be a busy time ahead!

Ethersay Sale!

Hi folks, I hope you’re all well and enjoying the Easter break! I’ve just returned from a holiday on the gorgeous and majestic Isle of Skye and I’m feeling pretty relaxed and refreshed after enjoying some wonderful family time in the great outdoors. More about my travels to come in a later post (once I’ve sorted out all my photos), but for now I’ve got a little bit of book-related news to share with you – this week, for six days only, I’m having a wee Ethersay sale!

Friday 6th April marks 698 years since the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, the declaration of Scotland’s independence made in 1320. To mark the anniversary, my novel Ethersay, a contemporary story set during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, will be on sale for 99p / 99c on Amazon Kindle.

Crossing several genres, including mystery, political fiction and women’s fiction, Ethersay is a must-read for fans of modern Scottish literature. The sale will run from 1st – 6th April so don’t delay! If you’ve already read and enjoyed Ethersay please feel free to share the sale information on social media – the more shares, the more people get to know about it!

Grab your Kindle copy of Ethersay here.

 

Atmospheric Places

It’s been a great weekend. Sometimes last minute plans are the best kind of plans, especially those which you don’t really plan at all but instead choose to go completely with the flow. I’m the first to admit that this isn’t something which comes naturally to me – I’m an organiser to the core, and I’m married to someone who similarly favours schedules and itineraries. And yet this weekend we headed away, a spur of the moment trip, with no forward-planning of what we might get up to or what we might see.

It was brilliant.

So, where did we go for our weekend escape?

Beautiful Bute lies just off the west coast of Scotland, a short ferry journey across the Firth of Clyde. I last visited Bute as a child in the late nineties and have vague but happy memories of hot summer days along the seafront in the island’s main town, Rothesay (why is it that childhood summers were always long and hot?). I have always wanted to go back and revisit the island, to enjoy the scenery and to do some serious walking (I wasn’t quite as keen on that as a child).

And wow, did we walk?! On Saturday we decided to do an 8 kilometre/5 mile walk called the Kilchattan Bay circular. As the name suggests, this walk is a circuit which begins and ends at Kilchattan Bay at the south of the island. The walk forms part of the West Island Way and took us along rugged and rocky coastline, up small hills (since Bute is fairly low-lying) and along a lot of pretty boggy ground! It also took us via St Blane’s Church, the ruins of a twelfth century chapel.

Walking on the Isle of Bute in the lethargic winter daylight was a different but utterly magical experience. The views were incredible, both on the island and out to sea, with the snow-capped hills of the neighbouring Isle of Arran in the distance. The weather was cloudy and grey but that only made it more atmospheric. I just loved the sense of being in the wilderness – we literally didn’t see another living soul for hours. And it did take us hours – the route is estimated to take about 3 hours but it took us nearer to 4 to complete, mainly because the soggy conditions underfoot slowed us down (clearly Bute has seen a lot of rainfall recently!).

So all in all, it was pretty awesome. I have perhaps mentioned before that I find a lot of inspiration in nature, in getting out in the country and surrounding myself with beautiful places. I will often take photographs or simply commit certain images to memory, recalling them at a later date to use as backgrounds or settings for my writing. No doubt this will be true of yesterday’s walk on Bute. However, while I was walking, something else occurred to me. In so many ways that little piece of the island reminded me of Ethersay; it was like walking through images and settings in a world I had already created. It was quite a strange feeling, like I was seeing my imagination reflected back at me.

Tonight I’m going to finish sorting through my photos. I’m also going to put my feet up, because muscles I didn’t know I had are feeling pretty achy and tired. It’s a good sort of tired, though. The tiredness which comes after having fun, after enjoying fresh air and atmospheric places.

 

Book Tours, The Witch Child & Women’s Suffrage – A Wee Update

Happy Tuesday folks! Today I’m bringing you a wee update post – it’s been a busy time here with lots of things on the go. So, here’s a quick run down of what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks, along with a few reminders about what’s coming up:

I’ve been out and about telling everyone about Ethersay… and the response has been wonderful. Thank you to those groups in my home county of West Lothian who have invited me along to talk about and read from my latest novel. For a writer there is nothing better than getting the opportunity to share your work. It’s also great to get to tackle the huge range of  different questions your book prompts from readers – so far there has certainly been no such thing as…

I’ve been working on the third Witches of Pendle installment… more about this soon, but hopefully I’ve found my pace with this book now and hope to have it drafted by the end of the Spring. I won’t lie – it’s been a slow start. After finishing Ethersay I had such a ‘book hangover’ and really struggled to focus my mind on a new project. I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally got into a good rhythm with this piece of work and it’s going really well. This book will be a short novel and will take us back to 1612 and the childhood of Jennet Device/Sellers, the child star witness during the first Pendle Witch Trials. And…that’s all I’m telling you for now! Watch this space.

I’m still inviting submissions for an anthology about Women’s Suffrage… more about this here. A timely reminder about this project perhaps as today marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act (1918) was passed in the United Kingdom, granting the vote to women aged over 30 who met certain property qualifications. I plan to release an anthology of work on this subject in December 2018, to coincide with the first parliamentary election in which women were able to vote. I am seeking short stories from writers which address the theme of women and the vote. These stories don’t have to be historical, or indeed focused on the suffrage movement in the UK. I am looking for stories from across the globe and across the genres – tell me a contemporary story, a historical one, or indeed a futuristic one. Tell me a dystopian story, write me some sci-fi, or a comedy, a mystery or even a horror. Write me something which crosses the genres – I don’t mind, as long as it relates to the theme of women and the vote. The deadline is 30th April, so if you’d like to submit a piece of work check out the Anthology Submissions page for all the details.

Phew! That doesn’t seem so much, does it?! More updates from me coming very soon.

 

Ethersay: the Musical

Hello! I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday. Today I’m taking a short break from all the seasonal revelry to bring you all a wee treat! I’m really pleased to reveal the musical version of the Ethersay trailer to you. It’s funny how doing something as simple as removing the narrative from a film can give it a slightly different feel. Like the original trailer with voiceover, I’m really proud of these films and so grateful to Stewart Kerr Brown of The Imagination Engine and actor Jodi Findlay for all their hard work. I hope you enjoy watching, and enjoy the new year when it comes!

Pick up Ethersay now at Amazon / iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / Kobo

Introducing the Ethersay Launch Video!

It’s nearly Christmas! Who’s excited?!! I know everyone in the King household is feeling very festive – the gifts are wrapped, the mulled wine is ready, the kids are hyper with excitement. All we need now is some snow! Not too much, though, just a little bit will do!

For those who haven’t seen it, the video recordings of the launch event for Ethersay, which was held earlier in December, are now online. Due to the length of the recordings there’s two parts. So, click on each link below to see me answering questions from the host for the event, Fiona Hyslop MSP, and the audience on Ethersay, writing, influences and inspiration and to hear me read a little from the book.

I hope you enjoy watching and don’t forget, if you’re looking for something to read over the holidays, Ethersay is available now from Amazon / iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / Kobo

Merry Christmas!