TagThe Magic of Four

Cover design : Land Mysteries


I’m back this post to talk about some of the choices that went into the cover design of the Land Mysteries books. As is visible, they take a different direction in some ways from my 1920s books. There are also a number of details you might not have spotted that I’ve been wanting to highlight!

One note that this post contains spoilers for key moments in the books (since that’s relevant to what’s on the cover). I’m avoiding talking about details here, as much as feasible. But if you want to avoid all spoilers, go have fun reading and come back when you’ve read the relevant books!

The cover of Old As The Hills displayed on a tablet in a scene of a glowing golden summer sunset, looking out over a pond surrounded by tree trunks. The cover of Old As The Hills has a man with a can and a woman silhouetted on a green ground with a map. She holds out her hand, he is putting something into it, forming a doorway between them. An astrological chart behind them shows the symbols for Venus, the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn highlighted behind a splash of glowing stars.

What’s after The Land Mysteries


It’s time for a teaser of coming attractions, following on in the late 1940s after the Land Mysteries series. The second section has some spoilers for Illusion of a Boar

Copy of Best Foot Forward lying on a wrinkled silk cloth, with a violin lying across it. 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.

The Land Mysteries

For a good while – several years – I was convinced I wasn’t going to write anything after the first half of 1929. I wasn’t as interested in writing the 1930s (especially the heart of the global Great Depression), and I also wasn’t sure about getting deeper into writing the Second World War.

And then I wrote Eclipse. Kiya left a marginal comment about wanting to see Geoffrey Carillon and Alexander Landry team up to take on munitions dealers. Every single one of my early readers commented on that idea and also wanted to see it. I gave in to the inevitable. As you do.

It took some more thinking, though. I didn’t want to do just one book, hanging out there at that chronological range. It felt unbalanced. So that meant thinking about what else I could write that was interesting in the Second World War. 

One of the things I realised early on is that as much as I wanted to write more romances, that it’s tricky to write romances actually during a war. (Not impossible, as the series proves, but it probably wouldn’t sustain a whole series sensibly). Getting people in the right place for long enough is tricky! 

But I also wanted to explore the other kinds of relationships people have in their lives. Sometimes that’s family. (Sometimes that’s enemies to “it’s complicated” to family.)  Other times it’s about mentorship. Sometimes it’s about professional commitments or goals that emerge and need doing. Sometimes it’s about chosen siblings and friendship. 


Idea to Book: The Magic of Four


Welcome to our Idea to Book post for The Magic of Four, which just came out at the beginning of May. (This means that from now I’ll add a new Idea to Book post a few weeks after the book comes out. But you won’t have a long string of them.)

The Magic of Four is also the last book in the Land Mysteries series, which explores three themes during the Second World War. Those are a range of different kinds of relationships in our lives. It’s also about the land magic, and how Albion responds to the Second World War. You can see all three of those here, in various ways.

The Magic of Four has everything you might hope for in a school story. There are snippets of classes, finding friends, dealing with student problems. And of course, because it’s Schola, it’s got magical sports (pavo and a dash of bohort), secret societies, and all the implications of a magical school. 

As I’ve noted, I do have plans for three romances. Ursula Fortier (Leo’s older sister) will have hers in 1947, Edmund Carillon (Ros’s older brother) in 1948, and Claudio Warren (in his 40s, and close to both Leo and Avigail) in 1950. Those will let me tie up some loose threads on other ongoing questions about the land magic, living in post-war Albion, and the Council. Learn more about my plans.


In Character: Thomas Benton


It was hard to choose who would be up second in this series of In Character posts focusing on particular individuals in my books. Thomas Benton is often in the background, but I love his steadiness, his loyalty, and his competence. 

Benton is a point of view character in Ancient Trust (a prequel novella in 1922) and his own romance, On The Bias, in 1926. The best way to find all the books with Benton somewhere in the picture are the books about the Carillon family. (You can find that list at the end of this post, for convenience.)

Copy of On The Bias lying on a bouquet of early summer flowers, with tea and honey nearby, in shades of pinks and pastel greens.

Neurodiversity in my books


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.

Up for a 2024 reading challenge?


It’s late December, which means it’s also the time when various sites post their reading challenges. If you’re doing one in 2024, here’s a guide to which of my books might fit particular categories. (If you’re doing a challenge not listed here, and other people can join in, send me a link and I’ll add it!) You might also want to check out my post about summer reading challenges from the summer of 2023.

The two challenges I’m pulling from for this post are the Book Riot’s Read Harder 2024 challenge and the 2024 PopSugar Reading Challenge. They have some overlapping categories, so I’m going to note which challenge applies, and the books I’ve written that might apply.

Copy of Best Foot Forward standing upright with leather bound books stacked behind it. 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.

New and exciting!

Upon A Summer's Day

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