TagAncient Trust

Neurodiversity in my books

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It seems a good time for an update on neurodiverse characters in my books (the last one was back in 2021.) April is one of the months celebrating neurodiversity (Autism Acceptance Month), and there was a recent extensive rec post on /r/romancebooks on Reddit for romances with neurodiverse characters.

As I did in 2021, we’re going to go at this by character (alphabetically by first name), since many relevant characters appear in multiple books. My goal with writing has always been to reflect a wide range of experiences of the world like me and many of my friends. And that includes people who don’t always get to be the ones on adventures or getting a happy ever after romance.

There are a number of other characters in my books you might reasonably read as neurodiverse. I’ve mentioned a few at the end of the post that Kiya and I have discussed back and forth, but some of this is in the eye of the beholder. Reader perception is important too!

Just want to explore some books? Here are all the titles that particularly feature a neurodiverse character.

You can also find more of a number of these characters in various of the extras I’ve written and shared.

Upon A Summer's Day displayed on a tablet in a sunset scene looking out across water to fields beyond, all of it glowing golden and sparkling with magic. The cover of Upon A Summer's Day shows a man in a suit silhouetted over a map of northern Wales in a muted green. He is gesturing, holding his cane in one hand, a cap on his head. Behind him is an astrological chart, with Jupiter and Saturn highlighted in the sign of Taurus.
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In Character : Richard Edgarton

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Welcome to the first in a series posts focusing on a specific character. We’re starting with Richard Edgarton, who’s appeared in a number of books over his life. He’s married to Alysoun Edgarton, and the father of Gabriel (Gabe) Edgarton and Charlotte Edgarton Wright, as well as grandfather to their children. He’s also been Lord of the land, a Captain in the Guard, and a magistrate for most of his life.

You can find the complete list of books Richard’s appeared in on his page on my authorial wiki, as well as the arc of books that deal with the Edgartons as a family

Copy of Pastiche on an open book on grass with yellow leaves. The cover has a silhouetted man and woman in Edwardian dress, in front of a golden stained glass window on a deep teal background.
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Idea to Book: Best Foot Forward

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Welcome to today’s Idea To Book post, this time about Best Foot Forward. This is the book that honestly has the best origin story. Kiya – my friend and editor – left a comment in Eclipse in February 2021 when we were editing it. It said: 

I now sort of want the buddy cop story in which Alexander and Carillon team up to utterly destroy a munitions smuggler.

I left it in the Google Doc when I sent it to my early readers, and every single one of them left comments thoroughly wanting this. My early readers are smart people and they have good ideas, so I started staring at it. I stared at it for over a year, honestly. 

At the time, I hadn’t intended to write past 1929 for a variety of reasons.

I wasn’t sure how to handle a number of the complicated pieces of history (some of which get very close to my own family’s history, as I’ll mention below). And yet, the idea was absolutely compelling. I’m so glad I did – and that I figured out a whole series arc for the Land Mysteries books. The final book, set in 1946-1947, comes out in May. That’s The Magic of Four. 

Best Foot Forward deals with the shifts that happen in Europe as the world heads toward war again, and it’s also about dealing with at least a little of the trauma and loss of the Great War, even if it’s been decades. Read on for more of the details.

Copy of Best Foot Forward lying on a desk with a dip pen, bottle of ink, and paper. The cover has a deep red background with map markings in a dull purple. Two men in silhouette stand, looking up at a point in the top left. An astrology chart with different symbols picked out takes up the left side of the image, with glowing stars curving up to the title.
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Idea to Book: Ancient Trust

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Ancient Trust is the novella you can get by signing up for my newsletter. (More below on why I did that). You can unsubscribe after, if my newsletter isn’t your thing, I won’t take it personally. Just please, don’t mark me as spam!

It also is a story I wanted to tell since I had the opening scene in my head.

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.

Ancient Trust takes place in 1922, when Geoffrey Carillon inherits the land magic from his brother. Carillon and his valet Benton are in Kenya, as part of a longer expedition between points in Africa, seeking specific materia (plants, minerals, and other items with magical potential) to bring back to Albion. He does it responsibly, but this period is toward the tail end of a massive exploration of natural resources that was not, shall we say, often managed well or sensitively. 

The Carillons

I knew I wanted to write something that was toward the beginning of the larger arc of the Carillon family in this generation. There are in fact a number of of beads on this particular necklace, running from Bound for Perdition in 1917 through the upcoming Three Graces in 1945 (out in December 2023) that will finally bring out some answers to the question of what actually happened to Temple. 

The Carillons are a longstanding family – Ytene, their landed estate, goes back to nearly the Norman Conquest in 1066. There’s a lot of complex history there. And of course, there are recent tragedies, beginning with the death of Geoffrey and Temple’s parents on the Sussex, which was torpedoed in the Channel in 1916. This is an actual historical sinking, and the history about it has a number of unclear aspects, including – regrettably – the total number of deaths. 

In the course of the Great War, Temple is doing secret research with a number of other people. It becomes clear that some of that wasn’t good for him, on an extremely direct level – but Geoffrey has no idea what he was doing, nor is he in contact with anyone who seems likely to know. 

Carillon and Benton

A second reason I wanted to write Ancient Trust is because I love Carillon and Benton together. (Not romantically or sexually, Benton would never. But in all the ways they’re absolutely chosen family for each other, yes.) 

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Benton definitely falls somewhere on the autistic spectrum, but his life circumstances have given him clarity around what rules and expectations apply right now. He started out working as a hallboy and then a footman in a country house. When the Great War began, he served in the trenches, before being assigned as Carillon’s batman or soldier-servant when Carillon was assigned as an officer to their unit. When Carillon was pulled out for Intelligence work, he took Benton along – and discovered along the way that Benton was capable of learning quite a lot more magical technique and practical skills than he’d been taught so far. (You can see some of this in On The Bias, in 1925.) 

By the point we see them in Ancient Trust, they’ve settled into a life of expeditions punctuated by a few months back in Albion. They’re always moving on into some new setting, but Benton is clear about what Carillon wants out of him, and which parts Carillon will handle. And Benton, of course, brings an absolute pragmatism and attention to detail to all his work. 

I loved getting to write Ancient Trust seeing both of their takes on what was going on, and what information was and wasn’t available. Their mutual comfort with each other and trust in each other is an absolute delight to me. 

Connections to others

The last part of this is what I knew I wanted to do with this piece. For authors, this kind of reader magnet is meant to be an introduction to your characters, world, and writing that hopefully entices people to try out more of your work. Obviously, this is going to work better (and honestly, also be more fun) if you can tie in more than a couple of people. 

I’d been putting off writing this piece (despite having the opening scene in my head for quite a while, including Carillon’s comment: 

“I fear, Benton, that we must accustom ourselves to a new mode of address.” 

But as I kept nudging the outline, I realised that the timing of this allowed me to do some fascinating things with other characters. Ancient Trust overlaps with Outcrossing, my first book, which meant I could show Carillon’s meeting with Rufus (the hero of that book) from the other point of view. 

I also knew that Carillon had been friends with Giles for quite some time, since before the Great War, and that one of the things he is quietly furious about is the sort of warfare that involves gas attacks, like the one that blinded Giles. What I didn’t entirely know – until I wrote Ancient Trustwas how the Edgartons fit into that. 

When Captain Kate Lefton (newly married) and then Richard Edgarton showed up at the end of Outcrossing, I knew that these were people Carillon trusted, but also that that trust was relatively new and untested. I also knew he was very new to his title and had only recently returned to Ytene, so he’s not yet confident in his own connection to the estate and the land magic.

(Including, in this case, whether he could reliably pull off the soc-and-sac judicial magic, which requires the Lord of the land’s permission, and also someone who has the land magic connection and judicial magic knowledge to make it work. Richard Edgarton, as a Lord in his own right and also a magistrate, makes an excellent substitute. But of course, when I wrote Outcrossing, there was a lot I didn’t know about any of these characters yet.) 

I loved having a chance to explore how Carillon comes into the Edgarton’s circle, why he trusts them as quickly as he does (largely because he trusts Giles), and he is absolutely clear they’re competent in their own areas of skill and knowledge. 

Again, if you haven’t read Ancient Trust, it’s a novella (so a quick read) and you can get it for free by signing up for my newsletter. Enjoy! 

Happily ever after, no kids

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One of my romance spaces was talking about romances that don’t presume a child is necessary for the happily-ever-after of the romance. If you’ve read my work, obviously I’ve got a mix in here. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the variations. 

(I obviously think people can find happiness in a whole bunch of different configurations and life choices. My characters make a wide range of choices, both in the immediate aftermath of a book and further down the road.)

Cover of In The Cards displayed in a gleaming silver frame, with purple flowers on the right and a purple velvet high-heeled shoes.
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What I got up to in 2022

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It is the time of year where a roundup of what I did seems useful for a variety of reasons. (Come back next week for what’s coming in 2023!)

The cover of Best Foot Forward, displayed on a phone, resting on a mess of papers with a letter sealed with wax. The cover has a deep red background with map markings in a dull purple. Two men in silhouette stand, looking up at a point in the top left. An astrology chart with different symbols picked out takes up the left side of the image, with glowing stars curving up to the title.

What came out in 2022

I put out four novels, two novellas, and a substantial extra in 2022. That’s a lot! Links here that aren’t the title (in the header) will take you to my public wiki. There you can see more details about people and places.

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Lords & Ladies: A guide to the land magic

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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.

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