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  • The cover of Ancient Trust on a tablet, surrounded glasses, bottles of alcohol, and a man in a tailored suit. The cover shows a man with a monocle in silhouette, leaning on a table stacked with books.
    Albion,  Ancient Trust,  Questions and answers

    Lords & Ladies: A guide to the land magic

    Are you curious about the land magic? Carillon’s background? What it means to be a Lord in Albion?

    Did you know there’s a new novella out? It’s my treat if you sign up for my newsletter. (Feel free to unsubscribe when you need to, of course. But I hope you’ll stick around, at least for an email or two that will let you get all the other treats I share with my newsletter subscribers.) 

    A copy of Ancient Trust displayed on a tablet, surrounded by drinks on a drinking cabinet. A man holding a book and glass wearing a grey suit stands at the right of the image.

    Ancient Trust is all about what happens when Geoffrey Carillon inherits the title on his brother’s death. It has quite a lot about the land magic customs at Ytene. It also led to some interesting questions from a reader. 

    (I love reader questions. Sometimes I haven’t settled on my final answer about something. But I’ll let you know if you ask something I can’t answer yet. Or if you ask something that’s too much of a spoiler for something that’s coming out in the future.) 

    The questions: 

    It got me thinking, how do the Lords of Albion engage with the House of Lords? Is attending Westminster an additional responsibility for Carillion? Do Albion peerages result in having the right to sit in the House? And what about the women? How does the Land Magic recognise women?

    These are great questions – and also some that I haven’t quite found the right place to get into text. Let’s take this one by one in an order that should help.

  • Albion

    People together (groups and organisations)

    Welcome to the next stop on the tour of the authorial wiki. Last time we talked about characters, so now it’s time to take a look at groups and organisations.

    Groups

    There are a number of common group connections in Albion – notably related to the Five Schools, but also secret societies and professions. Read more about the professional and social organisations in general over here.

    Copy of Point by Point against a cream brocade wallpaper with a key and aquamarine brooch.
    Point By Point shows what a group can do together.
  • Albion

    Character Connections

    We’ve talked about extras, maps, and timelines in our tour of my authorial wiki. Now it’s time to talk about characters. Every point of view character has a page. (That means everyone who’s been the point of view in a novel, novella, or extra…)

    Cover of Eclipse displayed on a tablet, resting on a pine bough, surrounded by wood five-pointed stars.
    (Eclipse has my largest character list by far…)
  • Albion

    Timelines: Who, what and above all, when!

    Welcome to the next stop on our tour of my authorial wiki (public version). Today, I want to talk about timelines and finding out when particular events happened.

    Cover of Eclipse displayed on a tablet, resting on a pine bough, surrounded by wood five-pointed stars.
    Eclipse is, of course, my book which is particularly anchored to a specific time and region.

    One of the reasons I like WorldAnvil (the software I use for the public wiki) is the chance to create maps and timelines. With books ranging across the 1920s, a few Edwardian titles, and a couple during or just after the Great War, being able to put the books in order is key. I’ve currently got five different ways to get timeline information, read on to learn more about them!

  • Albion,  Writing and publishing

    Extras, get your extras!

    A copy of The Fossil Door with its burgundy and orange cover lies on a brown leather sofa with a matching orange pillow.

    What’s an extra?

    Now and again, I write something extra. It can be a few thousand words, or thirty thousand.

    It can be a bit of backstory I need to write out to keep going in the book. Or something that happens after the book ends that affects future events.

    Sometimes, I just want to spend a little more time with those characters.

    Other times, it’s a chance to get a bit of a story from someone else’s perspective.

    I share these extras with my newsletter subscribers. And now I’ve got an easy way to let you know what extras there are (and what they cover).

    Check out the Extras page on my authorial wiki for a short summary of each available extra. Click through on the title for each one to learn more about it. Scenes from the extras are also on my books and extras timeline.

    Getting copies for yourself

    If you’re already getting my newsletter, starting on June 3rd, 2022, there’s a link at the top of every newsletter that will let you download whichever extras you like without putting in an email address.

    If you’re not already on my newsletter list, you can get all the extras here. You’ll need to enter your email address for each one (or sign up for one, get the first newsletter email, and then use the link there to get the rest. Up to you!)

    I hope you’ll stay around on my newsletter for news about what’s coming soon, more extras, and a few links and snippets of information from my writing that week. I send an email most Fridays. But if that’s not for you, it’s fine to subscribe and unsubscribe as you see fit.

  • 1: Outcrossing,  Albion

    Magical creatures

    As you’ve noticed if you’ve read Outcrossing, there are magical creatures in my books, as well as the ones we all know about. There are, broadly speaking, three categories.

    Animals we know and love

    These include your average ordinary wildlife – badgers, hedgehogs, ponies (Well, most of them. There are some magical ones, too.) Birds, snakes, lizards, all sorts of other beasties.

    A magical variant

    Sometimes there are magical variants of a given type. For example, the nightjar is an actual bird (with a very unusual sort of sound – you can hear an American cousin clearly starting at about 1:10 on this recording.)

    This piece in the Guardian about nightjars (and other fauna of the New Forest) delighted me, and describes them as “somewhere between a kestrel and a crocodile in appearance”.

    Twilight nightjars, however, are magical.

    They sound like the non-magical variety, and have the same shape. And nightjars do live in the New Forest. But where the non-magical species are usually brown or buff, the Twilight Nightjar is more like the darker varieties of a Victoria Crowned Pigeon, with a good splash of iridescence. Their feathers and eggs are used in various magical potions and workings.

    Entirely magical

    And of course, we have varieties of magical creatures who either live in Silence-warded spaces (so, fully magical), or like many creatures in our own world are not often seen.

    These include wandermists (a cat-sized winged dragon that appears to be largely made out of mist), or the ginsies, which are poisonous to about half the people with magic (via an extreme allergic reaction, not that Carillon and Rufus would put it that way.)

    Perhaps my favourite are the mirabiles, who live in the deepest parts of the forest, and are rarely seen, but look like dancing lights that sway and twist together. They’re decidedly animals, not Fatae, but they must be where some tales of faeries in the woods come from.

    (One of these days, I would love to have illustrations of these. If you’re an artist this intrigues, glad to talk commissions with you and see if we can come to a mutually cheerful agreement.)

  • Albion

    Lammastide

    Albion has a host of seasonal and agricultural festivals. Some are more celebration than anything else, others are about specific magical commitments tied to the land.

    A field of glowing golden wheat
    Photo by Penguinuhh on Unsplash

    In our world, you’ll sometimes see this festival called Lughnasadh, a festival devoted to the Irish god, Lugh. It was often celebrated with games and competitions and stories, as a connection to the funeral games he held for his foster mother, Tailtiu. (Lugh himself is neither particularly associated with the sun or the harvest: he was a god who was known for being skilled in many ways.)

    However, while there are a number of harvest rituals around cutting the first of the corn in Great Britain, there isn’t good evidence for a pan-Celtic festival, whether dedicated to Lugh or to anyone else. Cutting the first corn is a common element, but some places have links to ritual plays, others to bonfires, some are up on a hill, some are down near water…

    In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, there’s another name, and one that came down through the Christian church, later: Hlaef-mas, which became Lammas. This might involve baking a loaf of bread, breaking it into four pieces, and crumbling each piece in the corner of a barn to offer protection to the grain about to be stored there.

    It was also a great time for harvest fairs and gatherings, before the heavy work of the harvest began.

    A word about corn and grain: In historical works in and about Europe, you’ll often see the word ‘corn’ used. This is actually a generic word for grain. It usually means whatever the main form of grain was in that area – wheat, oats, rye, barley. What Americans think of as corn (the thing that grows on ears in kernels or that you can make popcorn from) is maize. Here’s some more about that.

    In Albion, part of being Lord of the Land is the tie between your energy and the land you are stewarding and protecting. You can see Carillon at May Day, doing his part in Outcrossing, and the upcoming Pastiche has some other brief mentions. (This draws on some old theories about the land being tied to the ruler, that is a whole other blog post or series of them.)

    These customs vary place to place, village to village, and of course season to season. I haven’t figured out the details for the grain harvest, but I know there is one. And it involves bread.

    I’m doing a (virtual) get together with friends of like mind on Saturday, and we’re all baking bread to talk about. I’m making cottage cheese dill bread (something like this recipe), though I usually bake mine as a round rather than a loaf. I’m a dill fanatic, but other herbs work really well in it too.

    A bit more to enjoy: