Academic bureaucracy is stifling research but it’s not too late to put down your tea and rage against the system.

Vegan author, vegan main character, vegan publisher. Surprisingly King Street Run is not a vegan manifesto.

DARTFORD, KENT – 10 May 2024 – Elsewhen Press, an indie publisher specialising in speculative fiction, publishes novels from a wide variety of authors and with a huge range of themes and characters. But with the publication of King Street Run by V.R. Ling, it is the first time that Elsewhen Press, which is run by vegans, has published a book penned by a vegan author, with a vegan main character. That said, the book is not a manifesto for veganism. It does have a serious underlying premise, but it is essentially an adventure story, while also being a satire on society and academia in particular, poking fun at bureaucracy and stuffiness, thereby addressing important themes such as social mobility, imposter syndrome and entitlement. The book is also filled with playful references to popular culture as well as celebrated Cambridge alumni such as Douglas Adams and M.R. James.

The main character, Thomas, is an archaeology student at King’s College, Cambridge, who stumbles on a trio of anachronistic characters whom he initially believes to be steampunk enthusiasts but soon discovers to be the personifications of three of the Cambridge Colleges. Something is attacking them, and by extension the very essence of the Colleges. They need Thomas’ help to identify and stop their attacker. As the story progresses, Thomas meets the personification of all of the Colleges, before he must ultimately perform an unlikely heist to solve the problem.

The author, herself a Cambridge graduate, has taken great delight in including many Cambridge-related puns and disguised references, positively encouraging readers’ groups to be on the look-out for a variety of ‘Easter eggs’ within the text.

V.R. Ling said: “Not everything is what it seems. There are nooks and crannies in the text that seem plain enough, but look again and you might see something else. It might not be the sort of thing most writers hope for, but I’d love for readers to pause now and again, frown, and think ‘hang on a minute’ before re-reading a paragraph or reaching for their phone to check a detail. I have a love for old buildings and all their ‘twirly bits’ – turrets, little doors that lead up narrow staircases, embellished door frames, hidden cupboards and the like. These impish inclusions are my silly way of reflecting that love in writing; details you might not notice at first – and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter if you don’t – but when/if you do, they provide another layer to the story.”

Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, said: “When Victoria submitted King Street Run to us, we were immediately enthralled by the setting, the characters and the adventure. Despite the serious underlying message, the deft combination of satire with archaeology and fantasy is very appealing. The main character being vegan was an obvious personal bonus. We later discovered that Victoria is also vegan so, during the editing process, we have not only been swapping comments on the text itself but also recipes and shopping tips!”

Is an adventure set among the Colleges of Cambridge likely to appeal to readers other than Cambridge alumni? Peter Buck, again: “The beauty of King Street Run is that it can be read purely as a fantasy novel about meta-beings, created by the history of a place and the people who are an institution’s collective memories. Or it can be read as an adventure, a race against time to stop the forces of evil defeating the forces of good. Or it can be read as a satire, lampooning staid elements in a society that needs to progress. Of course, it is all those things, so it will certainly appeal to Cambridge alumni; but it has a much wider appeal to lovers of fantasy, adventure, satire, and those concerned about the future of respected institutions – academic bureaucracy is familiar to people worldwide, not just graduates from institutions with buildings that are centuries old.”

King Street Run is now out in eBook and will be available in paperback on 20th May through all good booksellers.

Notes for Editors

About King Street Run

To Thomas, archaeology was time travel…
little did he know how literal that would turn out to be.

King Street Run by V.R. Ling; Cover by Alison Buck
Cover: Alison Buck

Thomas Wharton, an archaeology graduate, becomes drawn into the problems of a series of anachronistic characters who exist in the fractions of a second behind our own time. These characters turn out to be personifications of the Cambridge Colleges; they have the amalgamated foibles, history, and temperament of their Fellows and students and, together with Thomas, must enter into a race against time to prevent their world being destroyed by an unknown assailant.

King Street Run is a satirical fantasy thriller set among the iconic buildings of contemporary Cambridge.

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Cover art: Alison Buck

About V.R. Ling

V.R. Ling
V.R. Ling

V.R. Ling (Victoria) has a life-long love for science fiction and fantasy, and by coincidence science and fiction have separately shaped her life; the science part came in the form of a degree in archaeology, a Masters in biological anthropology, and then a PhD in biological anthropology from King’s College, Cambridge. On the fiction front she is influenced by the likes of H.G Wells, Jules Verne, M.R James, Douglas Adams, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and many others. She also has a life-long fascination with the 19th century (literature, scientific advances, architecture); Victoria by name, Victorian by nature. She is an animal lover, vegan, likes sixties music, adores classic Doctor Who, and has an antique book collection that smells as good as it looks.