Our local library at Cheddar in Somerset, largely run by volunteers due to funding cuts, whistled up a wonderful surprise last week when the highly-regarded historical novelist Maria McCann came to talk to library-goers and fans. Maria’s novels have been picked by Richard and Judy, and short-listed for the Orange Prize.

Not only is Maria charming and candidly entertaining, she writes excellent polished and very well-researched novels. Her books published to date are set in 17th and 18th century England. I was inspired to buy her second book The Wilding, which I’m loving. It’s a tightly-written atmospheric story of cider-making and class-ridden survival in rural post-Civil War England. Her latest book, Ace, King, Knave is a romp through the underbelly of pre-Regency London. And Maria is versatile – she’s also written wonderful short stories.

I was able to chat to Maria for a few minutes after her talk, and was delighted to discover that we have much in common, including both being Somerset-based, and part-time academics at the University of West of England in Bristol. Can’t wait to meet her again in the cafe there, next time I’m teaching.

Here is the link to Maria’s author page on Amazon, where all her publications are available.

Maria McCann’s second novel

And in other news ….

  • On Another Plane, the new SF anthology featuring my story ‘Calypso Solo’ is now launched by Amazon for Kindle, at only £2.54. With twelve varied SF and fantasy stories to read, this must be the best and most cost-effective Christmas present you could find!
  • November has been a month of slogging away at the first draft of my historical novel (provisionally entitled Aurelia’s Story and set in the third century AD, right here in lovely Somerset). In this my inaugural NaNoWriMo challenge, I managed to clock up about 15,000 words. This fell a long way short of the target of 50,000 words. On the other hand, I now have some sort of plot outline, most of my characters and settings worked out, and three chapters written.  Not so awful, considering I’ve been battling multiple post-surgical infections, antibiotics and painkillers all month.
  • With NaNo over for this year, that draft has gone into the bottom drawer for a month or two while I take a break to return to short fiction. Latest projects are: polishing an SF short story submission for Rosie Oliver‘s new anthology SFerics 2017; and rising to Stephen King’s challenge to write a short story full of twists and chills for The Guardian’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams story competition. Slightly stretching my comfort zone, which I am sure will be good for me!

And with another leg operation (or sponsored snooze, as I now think of them) to come on Monday 7 December, that’s enough to be getting on with for now!

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