The Entire Backlist Ever – Summed Up!
Who is this list for: everyone who’s read one of my books as either Catherine Webb, Kate Griffin or Claire North and been a bit like “huh, I wonder if she’s written anything else oh sweet heavens…” However, it’s worth saying that everything I ever wrote is for me mwhahahaha! Every book I’ve ever written I’ve written for my own delight and pleasure, so with that taken as read, here we go….
Mirror Dreams/Mirror Wakes
Written when I was 14/15 years old, I remember very little about these books. They are high fantasy replete with wizards and an otherworldly land constructed from the churning oceans of the dreaming mind. They were fun, I think? I mean, I try never to write something that isn’t fun. What they mostly are, however, are a pair of books written by a teenager for a teenager who loved high fantasy, so if you’ve got a reader out there who matches this description….
Who’s it for: teenage geeks who can’t quite believe the local library isn’t updating it’s SF/Fantasy catalogue fast enough.
By now I was maybe 15/16, so they’re still definitely YA, but they’re YA narrating the adventures of Lucifer who is starting to have the characteristically glum time that pursues so many of my main characters. They’re modern day, mildly thrillery and again, what I mostly remember is having fun. If your teenage reader is choosing between Waywalkers or Mirror Dreams, then Waywalkers is probably the better-crafted book.
Who’s it for: teenage geeks who’ve devoured all the myths and legends they can get their hands on, and are still hungry for more.
The Extraordinary And Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle
These are four books, which my then-editor commissioned me to write with a cry of “think Victorian adventure, Sherlock Holmes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The result were a series that I have been informed were pure “boy’s own adventure” and probably the place where I really started playing with the skills I’d been learning for the past four years for my own nefarious, rip-roaring gleeful purposes. Again, I did once get 8/10 on a quiz on one of these so my memory is a little hazy, but this was the series where I think I probably started to grow up as a writer in terms of craft, mostly by leaning into my inner child with all the delight I possibly could.
Who’s it for: everyone who is like “what I want is some proper Victorian adventure, complete with flying machines, chases across the frozen Thames, fights in St. Pauls cathedral during thunder storms, cameos by Arthur Conan Doyle and a bit with a dog”.
A Madness of Angels
This series marked my first step-up to “grown-up fantasy” not to be confused with “adult fantasy” which has far more throbbing members. The first four books followed Matthew Swift, a sorcerer with innumerable problems beginning with his unsolved kinda-not-quite-murder, and it was pure, gleeful urban fantasy. As a Londoner it was basically a whole series dedicated to how magical and incredible I think the city is, with added sorcery. I’ve been told it’s somewhere between an epic poem to the richness and glory of London, mixed with high fantasy adventure. It was also the first time I really started mucking around with language to see what stuck, and what stuck was a first-person narrator with some real pronoun problems. To this day I sorta feel that the second book in the series, The Midnight Mayor, is probably a bit better than the first – but it’s not usually kosher to jump in at book two, so your call really.
Who’s it for: anyone who’s ever found themselves standing beneath a flickering streetlamp at 2 a.m. and wondering – and maybe hoping a teensy bit – if magic is real.
Stray Souls/Glass God
Two books set in the same universe as A Madness of Angels, these followed Sharon Li, the somewhat put-upon urban shaman who finds herself accidentally running a support group for the mystically bewildered creatures of the city. By far and away my personal highlight from said support group was Kevin the vampire, who’s unusual condition meant he could only drink O- blood, thus very much cramping his style. I am informed by people with more objectivity than me that these books were a lot like the previous four, complete with chases, suspense, high stakes etc., only far more funny. It also marks the first time I had the guts to write a woman as my main POV, ending a run of numerous books where I found it easier to write affably ok-men surrounded by bad-ass women, for reasons that are… probably too complicated to cover here.
Who’s it for: anyone who’s ever wondered what they’d do if they really wanted to give online dating a go, but their talons make it difficult to swipe right on the app.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
I wrote most of this book in the video operating room of the National Theatre. It is by far my most successful book in terms of people what like reading it, and with that as my sales pitch if you haven’t read it… give it a go!
Who’s it for: anyone who’s ever found themselves going “darn, I wish I’d done that differently”.
This book is a thriller that also happens to be an SF story about an entity that hops between bodies. But what it mostly is, is a thriller. Somewhere between a love letter to European travel and a great big essay to the miracle and complexity of the human experience, only with more guns.
Who’s it for: fans of half-seen assassins catching trains in the falling neon rain.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope
By the time I wrote this, I’d been a technician for a number of years, and if you think there is a correlation between a female lampie writing a book about a woman who people can see and then immediately forget seeing… you could quite possibly be onto something. In this case, it’s the story of Hope, told from her point of view as she tries to work out how to live her life when no one can remember her. It’s also, it turns out, a story about what it means to be considered a “perfect” person and the games we play in our quest for celebrity, beauty and status, with just a teensy weensy bit of brutal betrayal and body horror thrown in.
Who’s it for: everyone who’s ever looked at a picture of someone impossibly beautiful on a magazine and felt small, alone and invisible.
Three novellas most famous for having been commissioned in a stationary cupboard (I kid you not), to this day I stand by the view that if you enjoyed Harry August, these are probably the books you’ll enjoy the most. Set across three games played throughout time and space, they cover an attempt to crown a new Doge in 1600s Venice; a game of hide-and-seek across Thailand in the 1930s, and the ultimate game of chess played across the whole world in the present day. They are all inter-linked tales of betrayal and manipulation, with a dose of adventure, cunning, conspiracy and some majorly thwarted romance.
Who’s it for: not gonna lie, basically everyone. I think basically everyone should read the Gameshouse. Novellas are a bundle of fun and you can get these as one big bundle too.
The End of the Day
Charlie is the Harbinger of Death. His job is to go round the world warning people of Death’s imminent appearance. He gets a reasonable salary, decent benefits, and reports back to Death’s office in Milton Keynes. In many ways this novel is sorta like seven really small novellas all linked together, charting Charlie’s experience from the first day of the job to… well, when things get complicated, shall we say. Compared to a lot of my other books it’s much slower, and a lot less thrillery, but it jets round the world on a tour of the many, many people and ideas that might hold Death’s interest in the early 21st century.
Who’s it for: anyone who is a bit like “enough already with these thrillers and adventurers and encounters on trains. I wanna slow down, catch my breath, and have a chilled-yet-mildly-chilling kinda experience.”
My most miserable novel ever. I know that’s not a sales pitch, so lemme add: a lot of people also like it, even though what it mostly is, is a thriller set in a world in which capitalism has reached its logical conclusion and it’s really, really pants. The word “dystopian” has been applied to it a lot, and I’d say that’s fair. It has a far lower quotient of fun than I usually angle for. It is also written in a very different style from much of what I do, which people either love or hate. But yes, it is a thriller, and it is set in a semi-alternative world in that kind of “well, let’s hope it is alternative gulp” kinda disconcerting way we all know and love. The title is a gentle reference to Orwell’s 1984, which is always a warning of a kind.
Who’s it for: anyone who loves dystopian fiction in which not only is the system gonna crush you with is plausible inevitability, it’s gonna make you pay for the paperwork as it does.
The Pursuit of William Abbey
If you enjoy the international travel aspects of my works, then welcome back dear reader! William Abbey, being a doctor in the late 1800s with a nasty case of ‘severely cursed’ on his back, is absolutely the global wanderer for you. Think: the historical flavour of Horatio Lyle, crossed with the espionage vibe of Touch, with a heavy dose of “what even is truth man?” at the peak of the British Empire, and you’re basically there.
Who’s it for: anyone who hasn’t got out of the house for a while, but would like to feel ok about that by the time they’ve finished reading.
This is a novella, and as established I love me a novella. It is set in another semi-alternative world a lot like ours, in which our bodies can be controlled and manipulated by the nanos in our blood – if you’ve got the cash, that is. Did I plan on writing a body horror about female identity and credit card debt? Well. Yes. Basically yes. It also features the long-rumoured, feared-lost, finally-returned-to-glory haggis orgy.
Who’s it for: anyone who is like “goodness, a story about about female identity, the wellness industry, credit card debt and haggis? How intriguing….”
Notes from the Burning Age
To make up for just how monumentally dystopian 84K is, Notes from the Burning Age is a look at the distant future of the earth… in which we’ve got it right. We sorted our shit out, we built an environmentalist utopia of clean energy, social justice, respect for all and so on. And we did all of it partly because we really learned to love and value this beautiful, glorious planet, as well as each other, and partly because the spirits of the earth awoke, provoked by our blundering destruction, and nearly stomped us into tiny tiny bits.
If you think that’s the pitch, you will be potentially surprised to know that’s just the first 50 pages, and the book is actually a cat-and-mouse espionage thriller.
Who’s it for: fans of spy thrillers, and/or people who would like to talk about climate change from the point of view of “wouldn’t it be great to make a better world” rather than everything being a bit shit.
The Voyage of the Basset
This is a short story that I wrote for an anthology called Irregularity, many years ago. It has now been turned into a short audio story by my mate Andrew Latheron, and is available for free from your favourite podcast provider now!
Who’s it for: people who like the word “free!” and also the untold tales of Charles Darwin.
… secret unnamed project!
I know. Notes from the Burning Age isn’t even out yet. But publishing is a slow business and it’s been a long pandemic, so when I tell you that I’m currently half way through writing book 2 of a 3 book series… well, that’ll be largely meaningless because it’s all I can say at this time. But it’s happening. It’s real. There will be cake. And words. Hopefully a bit of both.
Who’s it for: ??????