Category Archives: historical fiction

The nature of creativity, the creativity of nature

[Guest post by Stephen Palmer]

What makes a man go out into his local wood to take photographs of fungi?

In my new Conjuror Girl trilogy the main character, Monique, a resident at Shrobbesbury Orphanage, is a young woman with a talent only men are supposed to have. She encounters great resistance from those believing she is a freak – perhaps a dangerous freak, because she isn’t a man – and her story follows her attempts to understand why she is talented and why she is different; and then, what to do about that. Resistance comes from the Reifiers, men able to make real the contents of their minds.

Stephen Palmer

These novels are set in 1899-1900, and one of Monique’s closest friends is a French painter, Henri Manguin, a real person who I encountered whilst reading a book about the Impressionists. Monique and Henri engage over the course of the first two volumes in a conversation about what creativity is, especially in the field of art. Monique paints buildings and other structures with a modernity and zest which takes Henri’s breath away. He, meanwhile, paints evocative images of the orphanage pool, in which he sees ethereal images of his childhood in Paris.

At first, Monique is wary of Henri, despite him clearly being in awe of her. In fact, Henri soon realises Monique’s talent is a gift, which he nurtures, not least because she is an orphan with absolutely no prospects other than servitude. Yet the two, as their relationship develops, begin to tease out the characteristics of visual art, and when in the second volume Monique meets a certain Mr Bleakmonger, her education improves further.

Art, Henri says, “is following nature, yet interpreting it also… to make a painting we grasp what is inside our mind, we splash it out upon the canvas.” Later he says, “We take nature as it is, though we interpret what we see for our canvases. But a Reifier, he take what he believes to be nature from his mind, which we would never do – which we could never do. And such a man therefore can on occasion be wrong.” To this Monique says, “Then I must be open to the world, not closed to it.” When with Mr Bleakmonger she says, “I was thinking of my creativity. Mr Bleakmonger, it could be one of two things. On the one hand is the selfish option – forcing your will upon the world to make real the mind’s fancies. My creativity is the same process, making real my mind’s images, yet it’s the selfless option. I reach into my mind, to create… I do believe I see the difference now! A Reifier reaches into his mind, but he doesn’t interpret the world. He doesn’t allow the world a chance to affect his sentiments. He blocks it off. He denies it… An artist allows the world to have a profound effect deep inside them, because they’re sensitive. When I paint, I welcome the world into me, and then I interpret it.”

What then of our photographer? It is surely the fungi and the atmosphere of the wood which affect him: Nature. He is sensitive to it. The wonder and beauty of the wood, and the things growing in it, affect his deeper mind – “We take nature as it is, though we interpret what we see for our canvases…” – which in turn gives him the impulse to create, interpreting the wood through his lens. And although photography is a technique of capturing reality, the person behind the camera uses insight and sensitivity to choose and frame what they wish to photograph. Photography is Art. To quote Monet: “Every day I discover more and more beautiful things, it’s enough to drive one mad.”

Monica Orphan, book one in the Conjuror Girl trilogy:

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Buy this book in print (ISBN: 9798759486374): Amazon US – Amazon UK – and other booksellers

All three books in the trilogy are now available.

Details of Stephen Palmer's blog tour

New: Monique Orphan by Stephen Palmer

Monique Orphan by Stephen Palmer
New from infinite press: Monique Orphan by Stephen Palmer, the first book in the Conjuror Girl trilogy.
Books two and three to follow in November and December 2021.


In an alternate 1899…

Monique, resident for as long as she can remember at Shrobbesbury Orphanage, has a strange talent, which she neither understands nor can control. This talent, however, is only supposed to be possessed by men.

Should she conceal her abilities in order to survive, or should she be true to herself? If she hides her gift she will languish, yet if she reveals her true self she will be hunted down and experimented upon by men whose talents outshine her own…

A most peculiar adventure through a fantastical alternative fin de siècle Britain where the darkest creations are those that come from within.

‘His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh…’ Amazing Stories

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK – Barnes and Noble – Kobo – Apple – Smashwords
Buy this book in print (ISBN: 9798759486374): Amazon US – Amazon UK – and other booksellers


New: TOMMY CATKINS by Stephen Palmer

TOMMY CATKINS by Stephen Palmer

1915
Following a horrific experience at Verdun, Private Tommy Catkins – shell-shocked and suffering head injuries – is sent to a mysterious island hospital in Wiltshire, where he is subjected to the primitive treatments of the era.

But the island appears to be a portal to the enigmatic land of Onderwater, where lives a race of blue-skinned people with tails.

Will Tommy be tempted by Onderwater, or will the love of Nurse Vann pull him back to reality, and recovery?

“One of the most inventive and imaginative fantasy writers I know of…” Teresa Edgerton

Buy this ebook from: Amazon US – Amazon UK – Amazon Canada – Barnes and Noble – Kobo – Apple – Smashwords

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 0995752265): Amazon US – Amazon UK – Amazon Canada – and other booksellers

The first reviews for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors – and they’re smokin’!

The first reviews for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors are in!

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‘At turns laugh-out loud funny and heartbreaking, always wise and full of unexpected joys, this is a book you’ll reread, and recommend to friends, for years to come.’ Greg Bossert, Amazon

‘…absolutely wonderful … The whole thing has a lightness and then such shadows which leave a not quite graspable, but profound tracery. It’s just great and should somehow be a best-seller.’ Douglas Penick, Goodreads

‘…joins the ranks of those novels I have loved that is diminished by any form of review… I keep thinking about this book. Not an uncommon phenomenon with Tambour’s stuff. Will it make you feel good? Possibly, if you find Dostoyevsky a cheerful romp. Will it make you feel? Definitely. An important work from a important writer.’ David Kowalski, Goodreads


Buy the ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords

Buy in print (ISBN: 0995752214): Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace – and other booksellers


Publication day for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors: a short saga for our times

Published today in print and ebook formats:

Smoke Paper Mirrors: a short saga for our times by Anna Tambour

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Buy the ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords

Buy in print (ISBN: 0995752214): Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace – and other booksellers

Smoke Paper Mirrors

a short saga for our times

atspmFrom the totally not bestselling author of Crandolin (shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award), an extraordinary and moving novel that confronts and defies boundaries.

“Thank you,” said Arthur. “There’s always hope.” He’d always hated that facile truism, but said it because he’d thought it was expected. From the Croatian’s startled expression, he knew how gruesomely wrong he was.

That night Mrs Ma’s butterfly brooch came to him in a dream – flying in, pinless, through the open window. It landed on his open palm and closed its wings in repose. Such a comforting sign, Melmet would say. But she read Turkish coffee mud.

“a very curious writer” – Ian O’Reilly, British Fantasy Society review of The Finest Ass in the Universe

“Anna Tambour is an example of one.” – Ben Peek, The Super Obscure, Nobody’s-Ever-Read, You-Must-Read, Pimp-All-The-Books thread

 


All three volumes of Stephen Palmer’s Factory Girl trilogy now available

Published 6th December 2016, part three of The Factory Girl trilogy:

The Girl with No Soul by Stephen Palmer

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK – CreateSpace

The Girl with No Soul by Stephen Palmer

It is 1911.

Returning to Britain from Africa, Erasmus and Roka find themselves thrown into a perilous sequence of chase, capture and escape. Yet they must return to Sheffield as fast as they can, and in secret, there to prepare for an inevitable confrontation inside Sir Tantalus Blackmore’s Factory.

But it is not only Sir Tantalus whom they must face. As the British Army, automaton horrors, and a band of desperate Marxist engineers converge around the Factory, Erasmus and Roka must decide who to trust and who to work with…

Can they overcome the fiendishly complex defences of the Factory? Will the diabolical agents of the Clockwork Garden stop them, or will Sir Tantalus himself step in? Who, in the end, will reach the heart of the Factory to learn its terrible secrets?

The final part of a breathtaking adventure through an alternative Edwardian Britain and beyond, where clockwork automata and their makers threaten to change the world forever.

“A gonzo homage to the late Victorian/Edwardian British adventure yarn… imagine Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ Ripping Yarns doing a Steampunk episode with a large helping of early 70s British prog-rock psychedelia, some very peculiar flying machinora, and a chocolate train… Stephen Palmer is a writer you should read. His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh and sometimes barking… Hairy London is strange, mad, subversive and possibly just a little bit dangerous. You won’t have encountered a vision of London like it.” Amazing Stories

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…” Interzone

“…a thrilling chase across a ravaged Europe, a burgeoning North Africa and balkanised US, interleaving excellent action set-pieces with fascinating philosophising on the nature of consciousness. A gripping read to the poignant last line.” The Guardian, on Beautiful Intelligence

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK – CreateSpace

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer


Stephen Palmer’s Factory Girl trilogy: the first reviews

The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen Palmer

The first reviews for Stephen Palmer’s fabulous alt-Edwardian steampunk romp, the Factory Girl trilogy, are starting to appear and it’s looking good! Great to see books like these getting such a positive response.

“I would highly recommend this to any steampunk lovers” SFF World

The Girl with Two Souls captures the feel of the Edwardian era whilst also introducing the fantasy and steampunk elements in a very natural manner… a very well written and enjoyable book” SFF Chronicles

 

The Girl with Two Souls ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace

The Girl with One Friend ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK 
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace 

The Girl with No Soul: published 6th December 2016

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer


Publication day for Garry Kilworth’s Best Short Stories, and a novel with an exceedingly long name

Published today in print and ebook formats:
The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth
and
The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit by 
Garry Kilworth

 

We’re delighted to announce publication today of two major new titles from Garry Kilworth, a retrospective Best Of… and a high-energy science-fiction romp of a novel with an exceedingly long title.

The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth

The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth

Stories from the back of the brain.

These short stories span a period of 40 years. They are as eclectic as the insect world, ranging from the bizzare to the quixotic and back again. Plucked from an oeuvre of 145 stories, they are beautifully crafted tales, several of which have snatched awards from the jaws of oblivion or shouldered their way into short lists.

Though he writes longer fiction Garry Kilworth considers himself primarily a short story writer, which is his first and last love. There is science fiction, fantasy, horror, folk lore and legend within these pages. What does not fall into any of those categories is simply unclassifiable weird fish.

The first tale is a parallel world story in which we, the people who inhabit this planet, can walk on water. The last story involves the kind of madness which is brought on by too much discipline and good order. These two sandwich a vast array of brilliant and sometimes puzzling pieces of prose.

Cover by Dominic Harman; foreword by Claude Lalumière.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 154069271X): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers
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The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit by Garry Kilworth

The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit

A science fiction novel in three parts.

In which unstoppable time meets immoveable space…

James Ovit is a naive and slightly-lost maverick son of an elderly serial monogamist mother, whose mundane life is suddenly kick-started into headlong travel through time and space by a group of ruthless and callous scientists.

His journeys first take him spuriously into the near past and thence into the far future where, expecting to enhance his career, instead he finds other-worldly love. Finally, after tragedy causes him to cast off his loyalty to his superiors, he rejects the diplomatic corps for work as an assassin and is sent into the past to eliminate an illegal time traveller and a monster. However, things never do work out the way James believes they will and, when he finds himself researching the strangest biography of all time, he knows the authorities who gave him another chance will once again shake their heads in disbelief at his ability to ignore their orders.

Cover by piolka.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaBarnes and NobleKoboAppleSmashwords

Buy this book in print (ISBN: 154069237X): Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaCreateSpace – and other booksellers
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“One is left in no doubt about the quality of the writing or of Kilworth’s talent…” Times Educational Supplement

“The tales are haunting, often almost poetic, but still chilling.” Fantasy Zone on In The Country Of Tattooed Men

“His characters are strong and the sense of place he creates is immediate and strong.” Sunday Times

“Kilworth is a master of his trade.” Punch

“Arguably the finest writer of short fiction today, in any genre.” New Scientist


New from Stephen Palmer: The Girl with Two Souls

Published 22nd November 2016, part one of The Factory Girl trilogy:

The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen Palmer

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace

Part two to be published 29th November; part three to be published 6th December.

The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen PalmerEdwardian Britain: 1910.

Kora Blackmore, thrown into Bedlam mental hospital by her father – Britain’s leading industrialist Sir Tantalus Blackmore – is one day visited by a mysterious gentleman, who gains her trust then makes off with her to his family home in Sheffield. But Kora is afflicted with a bizarre condition, that the hospital believes is a second soul – the girl Roka – somehow living inside her.

Roka however is much more feisty than Kora, and far less obliging. Soon she is caught up in street politics, disorder and protest – and all without Kora’s knowledge.

With the agents of Sir Tantalus closing in, Kora and Roka must survive in their new circumstances and with their friends uncover the sequence of events leading to the incarceration in Bedlam; for although Kora is an illegitimate nobody, it seems her upbringing was devised to meet an enigmatic and ghastly end…

“A gonzo homage to the late Victorian/Edwardian British adventure yarn… imagine Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ Ripping Yarns doing a Steampunk episode with a large helping of early 70s British prog-rock psychedelia, some very peculiar flying machinora, and a chocolate train… Stephen Palmer is a writer you should read. His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh and sometimes barking… Hairy London is strange, mad, subversive and possibly just a little bit dangerous. You won’t have encountered a vision of London like it.” Amazing Stories

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…” Interzone

“…a thrilling chase across a ravaged Europe, a burgeoning North Africa and balkanised US, interleaving excellent action set-pieces with fascinating philosophising on the nature of consciousness. A gripping read to the poignant last line.” The Guardian, on Beautiful Intelligence

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer


High in the charts: Garry Kilworth’s The Iron Wire (last chance to get the sale price)

After a special promotion Garry Kilworth’s historical novel The Iron Wire is high in the charts at Amazon. As I write this, current rankings include:

#1 in Historical Fiction (Biographical) at Amazon US
#1 in Historical Thrillers at Amazon Australia
#3 in Historical Fiction (Australian & Oceanian) at Amazon US
#5 in Historical Thrillers at Amazon US

If you haven’t already grabbed a copy, do so soon as the price is going up again in the next day or so! 

The Iron Wire by Garry Kilworth“Intensely charming… captures so much of the mystery, beauty, night terrors, and fascination of the uninhabited Australia. The portrayal of the society of men isolated from society, as well as individual characters is superb. It makes this mystery/adventure a sleep-stealer. Once begun, I was done for, in the best way… The Iron Wire: A novel of the Adelaide to Darwin Telegraph Line deserves to take its place amongst Australian classics – and is a ripper of a read, anywhere.” Anna Tambour, World Fantasy Award-shortlisted author of Crandolin

In 1870 an enterprise began in Australia that was breathtaking in its ambition: to construct a single galvanised iron wire between Adelaide and Darwin, crossing two thousand miles of virtually unexplored wilderness. This was the Overland Telegraph Line, using local trees as poles, thousands of them, and hundreds of men who would not return to civilization for two years or more. Some would not return at all.

Alex McKenzie is a young telegrapher who believes his chosen profession to be at the cutting edge of contemporary science. A man who knows that once the last pole is erected and the line is open from Adelaide, to Darwin, to London and on to New York, the world will have shrunk and messages that used to take four months from sender to receiver will then take only minutes. His hopes for the future, for him and the love of his life, Sally, rest on the success of this magnificent Australian achievement. However, there are those whose enmity he has aroused and who would not hesitate to rob him of his life simply because he represents all they hate: someone who has grabbed at his opportunities and has risen from farm labouring roots to man of science.

The Iron Wire: a novel of human hope and progress in a land where men die, women are widowed, and bushrangers live by the lie and the gun.

Buy this ebook from: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and NobleKoboApple – Smashwords

Also available in print (ISBN: 1500779423): Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace – and other booksellers

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