Cover Reveal: The City Revealed by Juliet Kemp (Book 4 of the Marek series)

If you haven’t seen it already, go to the Fantasy Hive website to see the glorious cover reveal of the fourth and final book in Juliet’s Marek Series.

A chance meeting at an early Star Trek convention led to a life-long friendship, collaborative writing, and now a mystery that combines Holmes with fantasy

An adventure to solve a mystery wrapped in an enigma bound by a conundrum and secured by a puzzle, their novel is set in a world they originally designed for role-playing campaigns.

DARTFORD, KENT – 23 September 2022 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is committed to publishing outstanding books by talented authors. Although most of our books are written by a single author, sometimes two writers collaborate on a book that could perhaps never have existed had either attempted to write it alone. The Vanished Mage by Penelope Hill and J.A. Mortimore is a perfect example.

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press, said, “We were at a science fiction convention in London in 2019, when Penny and Judith came to talk to us. In the course of that conversation, they told us how they had first met. ‘Well, I wasn’t expecting that!’ I said. That, they replied, was typical of the responses they get when they explain they owed their friendship to Star Trek.”

Penny and Judith met in Kew Gardens

Fans of the show since its first UK airing in 1969, they met at a fan gathering in Kew Gardens in the late 1970s (there are photos!) and have remained firm friends ever since. Living at opposite ends of the country didn’t prove a barrier when they decided to start writing together – although, in the days before the internet came along, this led to weekly three hour phone calls!

“I often spent my holidays at Penny’s house,” Judith said. “We would spend happy hours plotting our novels together – and we still do that to this day!” Those hours led to the completion of one collaborative novel, and the pair spent a good many more developing the next one.

“We had fun back then,” Penny said. “Exploring the emerging web, discovering the intrigue of pre-Facebook bulletin boards, and sharing the joy of playing early computer games – in between writing chapters and whizzing them back and forth between us via email.”

The origins of The Vanished Mage lie in the campaign world Penny created in her days at University – developing from some rough ideas around how to create a variety of cultures and backgrounds for player characters into a richly detailed and unique world of its own. The backdrop offered by that world, the Known Kingdoms, gave them the chance to tackle a self-contained mystery. Their heroine, familiar with her world and her city in particular, provided them with a perspective to work with. Stepping in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and his later counterparts, they focused on the mystery and let the world unfold around the reader as their protagonists carried out their investigation. The first draft was finished by the late 1980s, but never published. Penny and Judith put it aside and moved on to other things. But they never entirely abandoned it and, after meeting Elsewhen Press, dusted it off and submitted it.

Peter Buck, added, “Fantasy stories are often set in an invented world with unfamiliar cultures and peoples. The world-building skills that authors need to make their settings believable are much the same as those needed to make a compelling immersive adventure game. So it’s no surprise that a world originally designed for role-playing games should be a perfect setting for a fictional quest. What is perhaps more surprising, though, is how well the setting lends itself to a mystery which challenges an investigative duo with Holmesian characteristics while retaining the essence of a fantasy – would Sherlock ever have used an enchanted sword?”

Despite the many years that have passed since their first meeting, Penny and Judith are still firm friends and indeed co-own a house with a third friend whom they met – yes, through Star Trek! “Penny’s late mother used to introduce us to people as her daughters,” Judith said, smiling. “Isn’t it amazing how an originally short-lived TV show created life-long friendships?!”

The Vanished Mage, is published by Elsewhen Press in eBook format today and will be available in paperback on the 17th October.

Notes for Editors

About Penelope Hill

Penelope Hill has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember, and her fascination with both futuristic and fantastic worlds has fuelled that ambition ever since. She is an avid reader, a long time role-player and games-master, and loves world-building: designing exotic places, writing mythic histories, and crafting cultures. She’s been a costumer and is busy developing her skills as a textile artist, so when she’s not writing she can usually be found stitching, knitting, knotting, or exercising other creative skills. During her working life, she spent many years supporting services in local government, and eventually found herself contributing to the development of both local and national policy, particularly around privacy and confidentiality. The research for her PhD helped influence some of that work, but has also brought new perspectives to both her writing and her world building. While she has published academically, she prefers creative writing, and retirement has given her the opportunity to pursue her long-standing ambition to become a professional author. She currently lives in Gloucestershire with her cats, a huge library of books, a treasure hoard of fabric and thread, and far too many dice.

About J.A. Mortimore

J A MortimoreJ A Mortimore (Judith) was born in London in 1953. She started writing stories at a young age and has never stopped. She wrote fanfiction for many years in a number of fandoms, all pre-internet. She has been active in science fiction and fantasy circles for longer than she cares to think about. She has a doctorate in policing young people. She has a short story in an anthology published in 2022 and has written space operas with romance which she plans to self-publish. Now retired, she lives in Gloucestershire with two friends, a number of cats, and far too many books and half-finished manuscripts.

About The Vanished Mage

A vanished mage… A missing diamond… The game is afoot.

Cover art by Penelope Hill
Cover art by Penelope Hill

From Broderick, Prince of Asconar, Earl of Carlshore and Thorn, Duke of Wicksborough, Baron of Highbury and Warden of Dershanmoor, to My Lady Parisan, King’s Investigator, greetings. It has been brought to my attention that a certain Reinwald, Master Historian, noted Archmagus and tutor to our court in this city of Nemithia, has this day failed to report to the duties awaiting him. I do ask you, as my father’s most loyal servant, to seek the cause of this laxity and bring word of the mage to me, so that my concerns as to his safety be allayed.
The herald delivered the message word-perfect to The Lady Parisan, Baroness of Orandy, Knight of the Diamond Circle and Sworn Paladin to Our Lady of the Sighs. Parisan’s companion, Foorourow Miar Raar Ramoura, Prince of Ilsfacar, (Foo to his friends) thought it a rather mundane assignment, but nevertheless together they ventured to the Archmagus’ imposing home to seek him. It turned out to be the start of an adventure to solve a mystery wrapped in an enigma bound by a conundrum and secured by a puzzle. All because of a missing diamond with a solar system at its core.

Authors Penelope Hill and J. A. Mortimore have effortlessly melded a Holmesian investigative duo, a richly detailed city where they encounter both nobility and seedier denizens, swashbuckling action, and magic that is palpable and, at times, awesome.

Cover art and maps by Penelope Hill

ISBN: 9781915304186 eBook / 9781915304087 paperback 212pp

Visit bit.ly/TheVanishedMage

Cover reveal: The Vanished Mage by Penelope Hill and J.A. Mortimore

Cover art by Penelope Hill
Cover art by Penelope Hill

From Broderick, Prince of Asconar, Earl of Carlshore and Thorn, Duke of Wicksborough, Baron of Highbury and Warden of Dershanmoor, to My Lady Parisan, King’s Investigator, greetings. It has been brought to my attention that a certain Reinwald, Master Historian, noted Archmagus and tutor to our court in this city of Nemithia, has this day failed to report to the duties awaiting him. I do ask you, as my father’s most loyal servant, to seek the cause of this laxity and bring word of the mage to me, so that my concerns as to his safety be allayed.

The herald delivered the message word-perfect to The Lady Parisan, Baroness of Orandy, Knight of the Diamond Circle and Sworn Paladin to Our Lady of the Sighs. Parisan’s companion, Foorourow Miar Raar Ramoura, Prince of Ilsfacar, (Foo to his friends) thought it a rather mundane assignment, but nevertheless together they ventured to the Archmagus’ imposing home to seek him. It turned out to be the start of an adventure to solve a mystery wrapped in an enigma bound by a conundrum and secured by a puzzle.  All because of a missing diamond with a solar system at its core.

Authors Penelope Hill and J A Mortimore have effortlessly melded a Holmesian investigative duo, a richly detailed city where they encounter both nobility and seedier denizens, swashbuckling action, and magic that is palpable and, at times, awesome.

Out today in paperback – The Rising Flood by Juliet Kemp

Artwork: Tony Allcock
Artwork: Tony Allcock

The Rising Flood, book 3 of Juliet Kemp’s Marek series, is available in paperback from today from all good bookshops and Amazon.

Why do so many readers escape into fantasy worlds where politics is just as messy as in our world?

Reading to escape from the realities of life has become more widespread during the pandemic, yet many readers are turning to fantasy worlds where politics and unrest are just as real.

DARTFORD, KENT – 26 October 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction, often addressing current, real-world issues through a fictional prism. This includes fantasy books, which have long been seen as a way of escaping from the real-world. Authors too, get to escape into a world of their own imagination. Building a believable and engaging world is the hallmark of a talented author. One such author is Juliet Kemp, who has built a world and a series of books that have been gaining attention and much admiration from other award-winning authors such as Aliette de Bodard, Rivers Solomon and Malka Older.

The trite advice often given to new authors is ‘write what you know’. When it comes to a fantasy setting, is that really possible? Yes, according to author Juliet Kemp. The setting for Juliet’s Marek series is a port called Marek, part of a larger state called Teren, but virtually an autonomous city-state of its own. Politics, both civic and national, plays a large part in the life of the main protagonists – alongside magic and demons. While the supernatural elements are outside any author’s normal experience, Juliet can conjure the politics with some authority. “I have an academic background in politics, and have worked and volunteered in campaigning and activist organisations,” says Juliet. “I’m fascinated by the nuts and bolts of politics in its broadest sense: how people make things happen, how they negotiate and compromise or refuse to. How they interact with one another in groups that have shared goals, and what happens when those goals don’t align, or don’t align quite enough. How people are forced to make pragmatic decisions, when they refuse to, and what information they choose to listen to or ignore. Making things happen can be a messy process, and sometimes you have to work with people you’d rather not; I wanted to reflect that messy reality, and the fact that sometimes people make bad decisions, in Marek’s politics.” The latest Marek book, The Rising Flood, includes unrest both in the capital city of Teren where dissenters are being threatened with demons, and also in Marek itself where a frustrated underclass is seeking a voice. Juliet again, “In this book I also introduced those campaigning for change from a different angle; there’ll be more of that in the next book, which draws further on political history and the radical movements I’ve always been fascinated by.”

But why is Marek a port on the Oval Sea, with the river being such an important presence? Juliet admits it’s more of ‘what you know’, “I’ve lived in river cities all my life, and these days I spend my working day looking out at the Thames. No surprise that Marek’s river has become increasingly important over the series. Of course, lots of cities are built on rivers: they’re a water source, transport source. In Marek’s case, they define its history, founded as a port for Teren – and in choosing to make it the port for Teren, I could create more possibilities for political tension over control of that access to the wider world.”

In The Rising Flood, as the title intimates, there is not just the threat of political inundation, but also a very real risk of the river flooding. That too reflects Juliet’s daily life, “Where I live now is on the site of an old warehouse (we are, legally, still responsible for maintaining a bridge that no longer exists between one warehouse and the next), and when I look out of my window at high tide, the river is above the level of our front door. (I am regularly grateful for the river wall, and the Thames Barrier.) So no surprise that when writing this book, I started thinking about floods, and flood plains, and (looking further down my own river) what happens when people build on flood plains and just hope for the best.”

The Rising Flood is now available in eBook format on most platforms and will be out in paperback in December.

Notes for Editors

About The Rising Flood

Artwork: Tony Allcock
Artwork: Tony Allcock

Hope alone cannot withstand a rising flood

A darkness writhes in the heart of Teren.

The Academy is unleashing demons on dissenters, and refugees rush to leave the capital with nothing but their lives and a hope.

That hope brings them to the city of Marek, Teren’s only major port, which harbours dreams of independence. But Marek is not as stable as it seems.

Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, has spent the last two years fighting to keep Marek safe and prosperous – but with child, her relationship in ruins and the increasing threat of Teren to worry about, can she find her way through? The printing houses of the city run rabble-rousing polemic, penned by an increasingly frustrated majority who feel left out of the rule and riches of Marek. They demand change, and Marcia can’t help but agree with much of what they’re saying.

On the other side of the bridge, the tiny group of Marek’s remaining sorcerers must negotiate their way through troubles of their own. Cato, Marcia’s exiled brother, and Reb, her ex-lover, are trying to train a new generation of sorcerers and both are having problems. Jonas simply won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from Cato; and Reb’s two students feel held back, both know that change, and strife, may be coming – and neither are ready to deal with it. But Reb cannot bring herself to move faster.

Between them, the five sorcerers alongside Marek’s cityangel can expel a single demon. But Teren has many, and other fears loom on the horizon. Out-of-season storms rampage across the Oval Sea, threatening trade – and Jonas’ family, out plying the trade winds – and the unseasonable weather threatens Marek itself.

Menaced by the distant capital, by dissension from within, and even by nature itself – will the rising flood lift all boats?

Or will they be capsized?

ISBN: 9781911409885 (paperback, 392pp) / 9781911409984 (eBook)

Visit bit.ly/TheRisingFlood

About Juliet Kemp

Juliet Kemp lives by the river in London, with their partners, child, dog, and too many fountain pens. They have had stories published in several anthologies and online magazines. Their employment history variously includes working as a cycle instructor, sysadmin, life model, researcher, permaculture designer, and journalist. When not writing or parenting, Juliet goes climbing, knits, reads way too much, and drinks a lot of tea.

 

“I know the words written… But the words unwritten? Those, I don’t know.”

Available from today in eBook, The Ancient Lie, Book II of The Unwritten Words by Christopher Nuttall

Cover artwork by Alison Buck

“well written escapism with plenty of magic” – Review of The Promised Lie on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Christopher Nuttall’s The Promised Lie, the first book of the Unwritten Words series.

Seregil starts his review of The Promised Lie by saying that he considers “Christopher Nuttall to be one of the best authors of entertaining epic fantasy for adult readers” who “has found his own voice and knows how to entertain his readers with good and exciting stories”. He goes on to compliment the characterisation “good and believable”, the worldbuilding “excellent”, and Christopher’s writing – he writes in an “effortless way” about politics, “writes well about magic and what can be achieved by using it” and “also writes well about religion and worshipping gods”. Seregil adds that there’s “something about the ancient magic and forces that is almost Lovecraftian in nature”. Overall he says it is a thrilling story and excellent entertainment, and finishes by saying that this is Christopher’s “strongest fantasy novel to date”.

You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow.net here.

“a fantastical story with plenty of excitement” – review of Instrument of War on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Rebecca Hall’s latest novel, Instrument of War, the second book in the Symphony of the Cursed trilogy following on from Instrument of Peace. Seregil enjoyed Instrument of Peace (see his review here) and says he was excited to read Instrument of War. So it’s just as well that it is “just as good” and is an entertaining read for those who love “exciting and fast-paced YA fantasy fiction”. In fact he says it not only lives up to the first book but “even surpasses it”.

The book is a “well written sequel” and he says that those who have read Instrument of Peace will feel immediately at home with the story and “be delighted to immerse themselves in it, because the author delivers a good story”, adding that she “wonderfully maintains tension and excitement in this novel and goes boldly forward with the story”. This book “deepens the story arc” offering exciting and thrilling moments because Rebecca “keeps on building upon what she created in the first novel”.

Seregil says he consider Rebecca’s books to be excellent additions to the increasingly popular YA fantasy genre because she “uses classic elements in a fresh and modern way”. The cast of characters, he says, is “delightfully versatile” with good characterisation because Rebecca writes fluently about “the characters’ feelings, lives and abilities”. He especially likes Rebecca’s “more entertaining and original approach” to vampires, avoiding the common clichés that are often overused in YA faction. He thinks that many readers will like Rebecca’s “vision of vampires, because in her novels the vampires feel much fresher than in many other novels”. He also finds her approach to magic to be “intriguing” and effortless, as is her ability to combine various fantasy elements. He says “I liked it a lot in Instrument of Peace, but now I find it even more intriguing, because she doesn’t seem to hold back anything anymore, but delivers a fantastical story with plenty of excitement.”

Seregil says that, although many YA novels have been written about magic schools and angels, “this novel stands out due to its interesting story and exotic setting” adding that the backdrop of New Zealand locations “adds lots of freshness to it”.

In conclusion, Seregil says that Instrument of War is “one of those rare novels that will captivate younger readers from the very first chapter and will make them read it in one sitting, because the story is immersive”. He is now looking forward to reading the concluding novel Instrument of Chaos (which will be published early next year) because “the story arc is fascinating”.

His final verdict: Good, intriguing and well written YA fantasy that is exciting and fast-paced entertainment for readers of all ages.

You can read Seregil’s full review here.

 

Instrument of War by Rebecca Hall – out now

The Angels are coming!

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

Instrument of War, the second book in Rebecca Hall’s fantasy trilogy, the Symphony of the Cursed, is published today on eBook platforms.

Described by Christopher Nuttall, bestselling author of Schooled in Magic, as “A clever update to a magical school story with a twist”, Instrument of War continues from Instrument of Peace, the first book in the trilogy, as Mitch, Hayley and Nikola return for their final year in the International Academy of Magic at Lake Moawhango in New Zealand.

With this exciting trilogy, Rebecca has firmly established New Zealand as a location for contemporary fantasy, not just Middle Earth! Fans of YA fantasy, readers of all ages, have been captivated by Instrument of Peace, impressed by Rebecca’s well thought-through magic system, the depth of her characters, and the believable nature of their relationships. What comes next in Instrument of War will both enchant and surprise. Elsewhen Press is delighted to be able to help Rebecca bring her vision and talent to such an appreciative audience.

Instrument of War is available from today on eBook platforms, and will be out in paperback in September.

 

“A clever update to a magical school story with a twist.” – Christopher Nuttall on Instrument of War

Christopher Nuttall, bestselling author of many fantasy and science fiction series including the Schooled in Magic, recently brought Rebecca Hall’s Symphony of the Cursed trilogy to the attention of his followers. With the forthcoming release of the second book in Rebecca’s trilogy, he read an advance copy and described it as “A clever update to a magical school story with a twist.”

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

Instrument of War continues from Instrument of Peace, the first book in the trilogy, as Mitch, Hayley and Nikola return for their final year in the International Academy of Magic at Lake Moawhango in New Zealand.

For more details visit bit.ly/InstrumentOfWar

Instrument of War, the second book in the Symphony of the Cursed trilogy, is already available on all major eBook platforms for pre-order. It will be published on 2nd June and will be available in paperback at the end of August. There will also be a belated launch party at FantasyCon in Peterborough in September!