#SPFBO4 Interview with Andrew Lynch, author of Sanctuary’s Fiend


Today I’m pleased to welcome to my blog author of Sanctuary’s Fiend, Andrew Lynch.

As you may be aware if you’re following the SPFBO competition or my updates I’ve recently cut my first three books (oh, how I hate to cut any books) and unfortunately Sanctuary’s Fiend was part of that first batch. But, I would like to stress that Sanctuary’s Fiend was an easy and entertaining read, I own that I’m not the target audience and, more than that, I don’t just see the SPFBO as a competition with one winner.  I like to think that all the authors who enter the competition are winners, maybe not for the elusive No.1 spot, but in bringing awareness not only to their own books but to the huge self published market that’s out there.  I’ve taken part in this competition since it began and my perception of self published books has definitely changed as a result.  Hopefully that will be the same for other readers.  So, all that aside please check out my interview with the lovely Mr Lynch:

Hi Andrew,  welcome to my blog, I’d like to start by asking you to share a little something with readers about yourself and your book.

Heya Lynn, thanks for being crazy enough to read 30 books! I know I couldn’t do it. Me? Well, I work for the government in one of those “kill you if I told you” kind of places, and I love easy to read, funny fantasy. I value a book that makes me laugh over a book that makes me cry any day of the week, and I think that’s really the best way to go into any of my books, and especially Sanctuary’s Fiend. I didn’t set out to change anyone’s view on life, I just wanted to make people laugh and enjoy being in the head of a teenage vampire for a while. It’s popcorn fiction!

What was the inspiration for Sanctuary’s Fiend, was it a lightbulb moment of clarity or more a small kernel of an idea that grew.

It was definitely a kernel that grew. I had just finished writing my sword and sorcery fantasy, Demi Heroes, and I wanted something lighter and easier, and when I was deciding what exactly that should be, I went back to my roots. I grew up on videogame fantasy and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Writing Sanctuary’s Fiend was just me exploring “what if buffy was a vampire and her best friend was a mute kid that lured sailors to their deaths?”.

Do you have an overall plan for the series?  do you have an ending in mind and a set number of books or is this going to be more of an organic process that will grow?

Keeping with the Buffy vibe, I wanted to create a “monster of the week” feeling. Each book would be its own self contained novel, but there would also be an overarching plot pulling the faithful readers through. Again, I was aiming for popcorn reading. “Missed a few books in the series? No biggie, you’ll figure it out!”. That said, I did have the overarching plot roughly squared away in my head, and I personally have no interest in a permanently running series. Also, the finale of popcorn reading is the best part to write, and getting to write an entire book as a finale? Don’t want to miss out on that!

Would you say that your characters take over and run around in your head when you’re writing about them? I read a couple of authors recently who wrote small part characters only then to have those characters demand more time.  How do you and your characters get along and are any of them proving to be more pushy than you expected?

Such a romantic notion! My characters tend to stay in line in the broad strokes of things. If they need to be dead, or grow a third arm in the final act of the book, they’ll make it happen. HOW they make it happen? Well, I love finding that part out along with the reader! 

(What can I say – I have romantic notions :D)

Sanctuary’s Fiend is UF with a bunch of fantasy creatures living amongst regular human beings.  You mention in the blurb that your young protagonist is starting to develop her own appetites – how easy do you think it will be as the story progresses to keep these two worlds separate.

Oh it won’t be possible at all! What fun would that be? No, no, no, we’re going to smash those two worlds together and the fallout will fundamentally change the landscape of Sanctuary. Of course, there are the supernatural secret police that have worked for centuries to stop exactly that from happening, so they may have a few things to say about my plans.

Why did you decide to go down the route of self publishing and is there any particular advice that you’d like to share with others?

I enjoy the freedom and the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing everything entirely by yourself. And, in all honesty, I needed to write a bad book (The one BEFORE Sanctuary’s Fiend!), make all the mistakes, and learn from them. Self publishing let me do that and still feel accomplished. With traditional publishing, I would have spent a year on a book, hit a stone wall, and given up. This way, I have a finished book that people can buy, and that in itself gave me what I needed to go back to the drawing board and write a GOOD book. Sanctuary’s Fiend is exactly that!

Advice for others: you have to be bad to be good.

Is there any particular aspect that you found difficult about writing a character of the opposite sex.

I actually find writing a female character much easier than writing a male one. When I’m writing a male, inevitably they are me. They will have my sense of humour, my taste in clothes etc. I struggle to deviate too far from that when writing a POV character. But when I’m writing a female POV? I can completely divorce what I’m writing from myself, and let the character truly be whoever that character is supposed to be. (What an interesting answer – I never really thought of it like that before :D)

Finally, on a lighter note:

If you could go back in time would you give yourself any particular advice?

Easy one! START NOW! I waited till I was 27 to start writing. I’m pretty sure If I’d started when I was 18, I’d be ruling the world right now. Instead I lost over a decade!

What happy memory would you use when casting a patronus charm and what would your patronus animal be?

Umm, are you implying that I’m not supposed to be walking through life in a miasma of apathy?

And I’d be a Puma, obviously!

Can you tell me your earliest childhood read that had an impact on you

This is actually a really easy question. It would have to be the series of books that I remember reading in middle school called Spooksville. It was like an off-brand Goosebumps by an author called Christopher Pike. I even graduated to his adult novels (they’d by YA these days, but YA didn’t exist then as a category). Without those, I doubt I’d be a reader at all!

Andrew – thanks so much for taking part in the interview and the competition and all the best for Sanctuary’s Fiend.  I look forward to seeing what adventures Rel will be involved in next.

More information about Andrew’s book is below.

Sanctuary Sanctuary’s Fiend by A. Lynch

Rel is your average 16 year old high school student. She just wants to hang out with her friends, scrape by in class, and avoid the mean girls.

Her best friend is a siren, the girl who just joined the class is a ghost, and her adoptive parents are succubi that simply don’t understand her – the rest of Sanctuary doesn’t get any less weird!

As she tries to be normal and tell the boy she likes how she feels about him, she experiences a case of sudden onset vampirism.
Let’s see how that works out for Rel, shall we?

Goodread’s author page

Website: http://www.lynchwriting.com




#SPFBO 2018 Book Teaser: The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch


As part of the SPFBO (details here) I’ve invited all the authors from my batch to visit my blog.  The Purple Haze by Andrew Einspruch is one of the books from my first batch of books and at the moment is still in the running.  Below is an excerpt from the book (reproduced here with the author’s permission of course).  Check out Chapter 1 and see if it whets your appetite.  I think this has a wonderful cheeky sense of humour that I’m really enjoying so far:


Chapter One – THE PROPOSAL

“Please, please, marry my son,” implored the chipmunk.

Princess Eloise Hydra Gumball III, Future Ruler and Heir to the Western Lands and All That Really Matters, sat on the Listening Throne in the ornate Receiving Room of Castle de Brague and took two precise sips of her haggleberry tea, trying not to let her surprise show.  She straightened, still holding the cup and saucer.  “I… I… Truly, Seer Maybelle? Jerome?”

Seer Maybelle de Chipmunk’s delicate whiskers drooped, and Eloise worried she’d been too harsh.  “Yes, Princess,” she said.  “Jerome,”

“Goodness.”  Eloise sipped again, buying a moment.  “I haven’t really thought about marriage much, but if I may so, I rather thought I’d end up with a prince of some description.  You know, someone more in the direction of a human, perhaps? But, please. I’m happy to hear you out.”

The chipmunk clasped her dainty paws in front of her and began an obviously well-rehearsed plea.  “My son, Jerome Abernatheen de Chipmunk, is a good boy, as you well know.  And believe me, I am aware of his flaws as only a mother can be.”  She extended her claws to enumerate.  “He’s forgetful.  He’s awkward in small groups.  He’s awkward in large groups.  He’s prone to wafting off into the La La Realms.  His dress sense veers unpredictably and inexplicably from one garish colour to another.  He knows far, far too much about the musical plays of Lyndia Thrind.  He has a penchant for babbling about nothing when stressed.  Then there’s the whole unfortunate thing with jesters.”

Eloise nodded.  Twice.  “One cannot characterize that description as unfair, Seer Maybelle.”

“But Princess Eloise, I’ve searched the future with every tool I have, methods common and obscure, profound and profane, some passed down from my grandmothers a hundred generations removed.  I have stared into the flame of the Burning Fungus, scanned dregs of haggleberry tea, and listened to the sounds of the Oracle Bellbirds.  I’ve drawn the Twigs of Fate from the Bag of Kismet and sought wisdom in the gurgling mud of the Elder’s Swamp.  It embarrasses me to tell you, because it took a week to get the stench out of my fur, but I’ve taken counsel with Gordon the Noisome, whose twitching earlobes have a strangely accurate predictive quality.”

Gordon the Noisome?  Wow.  Seer Maybelle was serious about this.  Standing close enough to Gordon to see his earlobes twitch was a sacrifice no one should have to make.

“Everywhere I look Princess, I see that my son’s destiny is to be by your side.  I’m, I’m…”  Seer Maybelle’s voice slid down to a whisper.  “I’m sorry, but I believe you must wed.”

Eloise took another sip of her tea, then set down the cup.  The saucer clinked on the marble side table, which matched the marble walls of the Receiving Room.  Eloise carefully moved the cup and saucer so they were in the exact middle of the table on a serviette whose edges were equidistant from the table’s.  She placed the spoon on the saucer so it lined up with the serviette and the table.  She would rather have put it across the top of the cup, but that would be taking it too far, given that Seer Maybelle was with her.

Until three years before, when Court began demanding so much of her time, Jerome had been her best friend.  For a decade, they’d been inseparable, whether exploding whifflenut pies in Cookery and Cuisine class (which she enjoyed despite the mess), plotting paint dart campaigns in Weapons and Stratagems (also fun despite potential mess), ridiculing each other’s poetry in Arts and Elocution, or creating the most elaborate contraptions in Engineering and Constructions.  Inseparable, until court life had done the inevitable – separated them.

Eloise understood Jerome like few did.  He was a klutz.  A clever klutz.  A verbose klutz.  A well-read, musically literate, historically curious klutz.  But definitely a klutz.  She loved him, klutziness and all, but like a brother and nothing else.  Even ignoring matters of species, marrying him was out of the question.  That’s just not what she felt for him.

The problem was Seer Maybelle de Chipmunk.

Seer de Chipmunk was the Western Lands’ visionary.  There was never, ever any escaping what the matronly chipmunk foretold.  But if Eloise had learned anything in Oracles and Insights (other than that Jerome showed not the slightest hint of divinatory talent, despite his family line), it was that there was always another interpretation, another angle.

Seer Maybelle shifted from foot to foot.  It was difficult for her to stand like this for so long, but pride and Protocol demanded it.  With a quiet rasp, she cleared her throat, preparing to sell, somehow, what was ridiculously unsellable.  Her son, short, nervous, and – there was no escaping it – a chipmunk, was completely unsuited to the willowy, athletic, 16-year-old, dark-haired and darker-eyed human.  Seer Maybelle opened her mouth, but Eloise held up a finger and stopped her.

“I have an idea.”

“Yes, Princess Eloise?”

“I shall name Jerome Abernatheen de Chipmunk my champion.”

Seer Maybelle stood gape-mouthed, then closed her eyes and scanned the Unseen.  When she opened them again, she graced Princess Eloise with a radiant chipmunk smile.  She nodded, amazed that such insight could come, once again, from someone so young.

Mrs de Chipmunk left the Receiving Room lighter of heart than she’d felt in weeks.

Eloise draped the Attention Cape over the back of the Listening Throne and wondered how in the name of Calaht she would ever convince her parents to allow her decision.


That was the first chapter of The Purple Haze.  What do you make of the style?


#SPFBO 2018 : Batch 2, Books 1-3

Posted On 3 September 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 9 responses


As mentioned in my post here, I’ll be randomly choosing six books per month for the next five months, which I will then aim to check out at least the first 30% of each book during that month.  I’ll post information about the first three at the start of the month and then about the remaining three during the mid way point with a conclusion around the end of the month about which books will be going forward or eliminated.  The conclusion for my first month’s reading can be found here.  Ultimately, the aim is to choose one book from the thirty I’ve been assigned – that chosen one will be my finalist.

The first three books in my second batch are:

1. Crossfire by Andrea Domanski

crossfireBirthdays suck!

For her eighteenth, Mirissa Colson receives a package from the mother who abandoned her over a decade ago. The family secret it reveals transforms her life from trying on prom dresses to battling an ancient race of demons. Thanks, Mom.

Her nineteenth brings forth an even more treacherous foe—one maniacal demi-god bent on ruling the world. So much for dating. Thankfully, the years of martial arts and sharpshooter training her ex-Navy SEAL dad put her through gives her the perfect skill-set to build upon.

When she’s called on to save the world—literally—Mirissa finds she has a lot more in her arsenal than just a mean roundhouse kick. Burgeoning powers she previously thought impossible, like controlling the elements and sensory expansion, give her some confidence. But when she is propelled into a world teeming with preternatural beings—all with powers of their own—she finds herself outmatched and outgunned.

CROSSFIRE is a coming of age tale that bridges the gap between the world we think we know, and the one that lies just beneath the surface


2. Dark Oak by Jacob Sannox

dark oakHumanity has finally defeated the Dark Lord, but Morrick fought on the wrong side. Though he was a slave, he is branded a traitor and must earn the trust of new lords in order to return to his family – if they are still alive…

Now that their common enemy is dead, the nobles begin to forget old loyalties, and Queen Cathryn’s realm looks set to plunge into war once more. But there are older and more terrible powers dwelling within the forest, and when they are awakened, Morrick will decide who lives or dies.


3.  Shadow of a Slave by Saffron Bryant

ShadowIn the Known Kingdoms, Twins are killed at birth.

Twins harness energy in an unpredictable and dangerous way.

Twins almost destroyed the world.

Ash and Rae have always claimed that he is a year older to hide themselves from the ruthless Faceless Monks.

An order who’s apparent benevolent mission to keep the world safe, is a mask for nefarious intentions.

Energy can’t be created or destroyed… but it can be harnessed…

When Ash and Rae’s secret is discovered, Rae is taken by the monks. Ash must learn to harness his natural ability to manipulate the energy of his world to save her.

Two rules must always be observed. Two rules everyone knows.

Do not use energy from the living.

Do not reanimate the dead.

Ash will do anything to get Rae back…even breaking their sacred laws.

#SPFBO4 Interview with Dave Woolliscroft, author of Kingshold


Today I’m pleased to welcome to my blog Dave Woolliscroft author of Kingshold (No.1 in the Wildfire Cycle)

Hi Dave, welcome to my blog and thank you so much for agreeing to take part in an interview


Firstly, Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and your book??

The short answer, and the one that avoids regurgitating my bio from my website (dpwoolliscroft.com, go take a look), is that I’m a long time reader, first time writer, and I reached the point in my life where I finally thought, “sod it”. I better give writing a good go before I have (more) regrets as I get (even) older.

I’ve read a varied bunch, in genre and out, but it all started something like this. Tolkien to Eddings, to Weiss & Hickman (dragonlance chronicles), to Feist, to Williams, to Pratchett. I had a bit of a fantasy lull for a while in the late nineties, early 2000’s, but then Steven Erikson caught my attention and I became embroiled in the Malazan Books of the Fallen. That led to Glenn Cook and Joe Abercrombie and a great swathe of excellent authors who are producing today (don’t you think we are so lucky to have so many great books being published today?) (Why yes, yes I do)

Anyway, so thirty years of reading has created ideas and stuff sloshing around in my mind that in quiet moments will preoccupy me. Sir Terry Pratchett has been an enormous influence on me (I still go back and reread the City Watch novels), and so one day, at the beginning of 2017, I was reflecting on the absolute chaotic results that democracy delivered in 2016 in the UK, the US and around the world. It occurred to me that it was a shame that Terry never wrote anything about democracy in Discworld. I thought about how democracy almost sounds like a portmanteau of demon and crazy; and so that how’s the initial idea of tiny pink demonic pixies as the means of voting came about. And then I realized I would have to write it if I wanted to read this story.

Demon-crazy, eventually became Kingshold, and the story expanded to envelop the odd idea I’d been kicking around for nearly ten years.

Kingshold is supposed to feel comfortable to readers of fantasy in many ways: there is an ancient wizard; the city has a euro feel to it (though it’s not medieval). But then I wanted to flip some of the tropes on their head. The king and queen are killed in the opening chapter. The ancient wizard has had enough of the endless grind of protecting the kingdom and wants to retire (to somewhere warm probably). The new ruler isn’t going to be some lost child heir to the throne (no coming of age here), instead the ruler is going to be chosen by the people with money. And though I wanted it to feel epic, the entire story takes place over just thirty days and in the one city.

But Kingshold is also really a story about people believing in themselves and trying to live up to their potential. It’s about families, fathers in particular, and communities coming together. All wrapped up in a package with magic, monsters, pirates, demons, assassins and good old fashioned action!

I also think it’s worth mentioning that Kingshold works well as a stand alone read. It has five POV characters so the opening part of the book is laying some of the groundwork for both this story and the rest of the series, but by the time you hit the 40% mark it’s non stop to the end.

Oh, and it has some laughs in it. Because, if you can’t laugh when the world is going to hell in a hand basket when can you laugh?

You mention that your world has a European feel – does that come as a result of being well travelled as well as well read?  Is there any place in particular where you feel you’ve drawn quite heavily upon the culture/characteristics of the place and can you tell me a little bit more about your own process in terms of world building?

I guess I’m fairly well traveled but there are so many places I would still love to go. When I still lived in England I really took advantage of how easy it was to get around to various places in Europe from London. And then, right before we moved to America we had a six week backpacking adventure through Eastern Europe: Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Vienna and Berlin. We had such an amazing time; lots of very cool castles, museums and gorgeous scenery. So travels, and also history books, have definitely acted as a frame of reference as I started world building.

World building for me is a combination of “develop it as it was needed” or “dredge up something from the depths of my brain that I have been noodling on in quiet moments over many years”. As an example of the former, I think I wrote the first four chapters and I already knew that the story wouldn’t really leave Kingshold, but I didn’t know enough about the place. So I stopped writing and drew maps of the city, named the neighborhoods, considered its place in the world and its institutions. And after that I needed to have the larger world setting in place too. I had actually hand drawn the map of the Jeweled Continent about three years ago, just for fun, and so I claimed that for these books, further developing their people, religions and political institutions even though they don’t really appear in Kingshold. But to me it was really important to think broadly early, as I knew that Edland (of which Kingshold is the capital) was an island nation that punched above its weight, largely off the back of it’s ships, both merchant and navy. And that meant that Edland would be connected to its neighbors – globalization isn’t a new thing, it really started with the age of sail.

The evolution of a map

Not all of the locations have that European feel as we move through the series. In fact, one of the things that is of increasing importance is the Wild Continent that is mentioned in the book. You could think of it as the Americas when discovered by the Spanish, with its own very different range of cultures and civilizations.

I have quite a few things figured out when it comes to the world inside or outside the walls of Kingshold but I’ve definitely left myself room to discover new things too (which for me is huge fun). That’s one reason why my next book to be released is a collection of novelettes and shorter stories (called Tales of Kingshold, and officially book 1.5 of the series) that enables me to explore the backstories of some characters, introduce new characters and add more color to the world. Chronologically I think about a third of the stories in that book are from before the events of Kingshold, about a third are concurrent and then a third bridge books 1 and 2. I know this is an odd approach to publishing but it’s something I plan to continue for the rest of the series.

I’d like to know more about your characters. Did you have a particularly strong character in mind when you started writing, how many POVs does your book have, do you find it difficult to make them all individual and do you have a strong favourite. 

Well, Kingshold has five POV characters. Maybe a little ambitious for a debut novel but I love to look at problems and situations from many angles. And I love to read a scene of a prominent character from a different perspective, I think that helps round out your view of them. I also really wanted to make this story diverse (in a good way) with prominent female characters and characters with different backgrounds, so multiple POV was the way for me to do that.

Hopefully, all of the POV characters feel distinct. They all have their own particular challenges and issues that they are dealing with as you meet them. We have some characters with a lack of confidence in themselves and their appreciation of their own self-worth. We have one character who is not living up to the potential that was identified early in his life. And there is definitely a common theme of characters who are struggling with the expectations of family and those who are close to them. Each of the characters have their own arcs and finish the book in quite a different place than they started, and it will be fun to see how the meat grinder of life treats them in the future.

And is it difficult?

Hell, yeah! Revisions, editors and beta readers really helped me with identifying where there were gaps that needed to be addressed to make the characters pop before I released Kingshold in to the world. One thing I was proud of from the feedback of my beta readers is that the most and least liked characters differed between them, and now too with actual reader reviews. I want readers to have the opportunity to latch on to the characters that most appeal to them.

I don’t think I can pick a favorite POV character. There’s a little bit of me in all of them. But of the supporting cast I really enjoyed writing Jyuth, the ancient wizard. He’s a cantankerous, foul-mouthed old guy who loves his food and the country that he helped found. You could think of him as a combination of the Danny Glover character from Lethal Weapon (“I’m too old for this s#!t” – one for the teenagers there) and Bayaz from the First Law trilogy. But unlike Bayaz, Jyuth is secretly a softy underneath, like a tough old teacher you might have had who wants you to learn for yourself but still very much cares.

Thanks for this.  Finally, can I ask a few random questions unrelated to the book?

If you could go back in time to your younger self what advice would you impart?  Embrace and be public with your inner geek! Don’t care what other people think. Be creative. Have confidence in yourself.

Can you tell readers 3 random snippets of information about yourself that isn’t available elsewhere on your social media?

  • My three deceased heroes are Terry Pratchett, Brian Clough and John Peel. Which rather neatly covers my three passions of fantasy, football and music.
  • I watched the sun rise from the top of my university dormitory on my 19th birthday. It was five floors up and required climbing up the outside of the building and through various other people’s dorm rooms to access parts of the roof. Yes, we had been out all night and I did find that I had suffered some injuries in the process after finally going to bed.
  • I love pork products. Pork pie and sausage rolls are the foods I miss most about home.

If you could choose from any superpower what would you go for and why.  Super speed. I could travel to anywhere in the world without having to get on a plane (and I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in airports). I would also be able to make more use of the time I carve out every day for writing.

If you could travel to a fictional world anywhere in the universe where would you go.  Ankh Morpork. This city feels very real to me from Pratchett’s writing. It’s so colorful and diverse, and with a capacity for constant change. I’d try to wangle a meeting with Vetinari and see if Dibbler’s pies really are that bad.

Dave, thank you so much for taking part.  I wish you all the best in the SPFBO.

FYI: Dave can be found at:

Goodread’s : author’s page

Website: http://dpwoolliscroft.com

Twitter: @dpwoolliscroft

#SPFBO 2018 : Guest Post – Phil Williams, Under Ordshaw


As you may be aware I’m taking part, as one of the judges, in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, details here.  I’ve invited all the authors from my selected books to pay a visit to my blog and today I’m very pleased to welcome Phil Williams, the author of Under Ordshaw.  Phil agreed to write a guest post about how the story came about involving a visit to New York, a few jaunts, getting lost, a labyrinthine hostel and possibly discovering a Minotaur under the city – well, just read the piece already.

The Origins of “Under Ordshaw”

Under Ordshaw takes readers to a UK city with more than a few dark secrets. It’s a city that’s at once familiar and unusual, and the core of a series intended to span dozens of books. It’s the result of years spent writing and rewriting interlinked stories, with a great deal of imagining what if…

It’s also the result of my own attempts to explore our world, and quite specifically the time we considered the possibility of a minotaur under New York.

Under Ordshaw has seen four major iterations – once as a novel, twice as a screenplay and finally the version you see today. Originally called Penguins and Seahorses, it had a plot inspired by my reading that penguins and seahorses are rare in nature as the male helps raise their offspring. The latest version has evolved from a simpler concept of an ordinary father facing the unnatural to protect his family, but the collision of ordinary and unnatural remains.

Recognising that collision was where the story really began.

At some point in life, I adopted a hobby of urban exploring. I placed myself in random places within cities and saw where it took me. What better way to come up with random and absurd stories than to visit places you don’t belong? I got a real taste at university, pottering around the graveyards and estates of Nottingham. I’ve fed it in every city I’ve been.

In the spirit of this mindset, in the Summer of 2006, myself, my brother and my closest friend took a holiday to New York City. We planned nothing, assuming that wandering the Five Boroughs with a travel card would take care of itself.

The holiday panned out in untypical ways, with highlights including narrowly avoiding a major crime scene in Queens and getting lost in the middle of Staten Island. As such explorative jaunts into the unknown stirred our collective imaginations, we happened upon the minotaur.

Theseus and the MinotaurWe were staying in a labyrinthine hostel with a kitchen in the basement. Down there, we heard great groans from the mechanics of the buildings. And we asked what if… In particular, what if the next time we heard that noise, someone ran past screaming, “Minotaur!”

In this city that had proved strange and threatening in our ignorance, such a thing seemed possible.

Over the fortnight that we viewed New York through the eyes of outsiders who knew anything was possible, the running joke revealed the minotaur’s lore and the characters that fought or defended it. There was the violent-minded homeless man, perpetually bent on a final showdown with his arch-nemesis: “Rattigan, we finish this now!” (His foe, naturally, the master of the ferocious rodents we’d encountered.) There was the sage Mantis, keeper of secrets. And there was the discovery of scratchitti – urban vandalism, or a way to communicate with the underworld?

This stimulation sowed the seeds that would become Under Ordshaw, after a decade of refining. Similar experiences in different cities added flesh to the tale; the minotaur and the underground fused in my mind, for instance, after watching weary people riding the Prague Metro.

The characters emerged from other moments of inspiration. Darren Barton belongs to the concept of penguins and seahorses; Rufaizu his carefree opposite. Cano Casaria was a necessarily creepy foil in my screenplay Brutal Tower (inspired by research into housing estates, which will live again in Ordshaw Book 5). The criminals of Ordshaw first found life in a school play.

Mid-2016, it clicked in my mind that a shared universe made it possible to connect the many disparate ideas of my contemporary fantasy work that I had never published. Ordshaw was the perfect place to realise it.

When I revisited these stories, and started drawing them together, Pax Kuranes emerged as the character necessary to endure this experience. An outsider to the madness she was about to encounter and, in many ways, an outsider within the city itself. Someone comfortably normal, but drawn to the stranger side of life, open to exploring alleyways at night.

And from this union came Under Ordshaw. A novel that lays the foundations for a lot of work to come, but a story that serves the sentiments of three ill-advised youths who holidayed in New York, intent on seeing it through a different lens.



Thank you Phil for writing this fantastic piece, I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did – apart from the fact that I love discovering the inspiration behind the book – I think what really gave me a smile with this was the ‘what if’ – it’s a favourite phrase of my daughter and I suppose it’s a demonstration of curiosity and imagination at play together.

FYI : Phil can be found at:

www.phil-williams.co.uk  Goodreads page

The link for the book is:





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