What better time than New Year to launch a new book?
Okay, full disclosure, The String City Mysteries is not entirely new. It’s a collection of seven novelettes first published in Realms of Fantasy magazine, and later as individual ebooks by 40K Books. Now, for the first time, they’ve been assembled into a single volume.
The String City Mysteries is available now to download for Kindle from Amazon. Paperback coming soon!
Here’s the introduction to the new edition:
Let me take you back to 2005. My sixth novel had just been published by HarperCollins and I was floundering around getting increasingly frustrated about what direction to take next. Sensing a certain darkness in my mood, my agent, the late Dot Lumley, casually asked me if I’d ever thought about trying my hand at short stories.
Coincidentally, I’d just finished reading a pile of short fiction anthologies, including a Dashiell Hammett collection. Feeling all noirish — and certain that Dot’s throwaway suggestion hadn’t been nearly as throwaway as it sounded — I wrote a story called The Wooden Baby, a light-hearted fantasy-noir mash-up starring an unnamed gumshoe with an uncanny ability to travel between dimensions.
To my delight, Shawna McCarthy, editor of the now sadly defunct short fiction magazine Realms of Fantasy, published not only The Wooden Baby, but also four more stories in which my nameless detective ventured ever-deeper into the strange world I was steadily building around him. In 2011, Guiseppe Granieri at 40K Books republished the first five tales and commissioned two more.
Finishing up the seventh and final story in what I was beginning to think of as The String City Mysteries, I looked back over the series and saw I’d done two unexpected things.
First, the world I’d been building had grown much larger than I’d ever intended. In The Wooden Baby, for example, the office of my gumshoe hero resides in a kind of existential wilderness and the gumshoe himself is an archetype, at times close to a cliché. By the time I got to Lifestrings of the Loving Couple, I’d established an entire metropolis within which my gumshoe plies his trade. As you read your way through this collection, you may sense this gradual expansion, none of which was planned in advance. Like Topsy, it just growed. Call it worldbuilding on the fly.
Second, I realised these seven stories, taken together, form a kind of prelude to a much bigger story still to come. You may sense this, too, as you read — the feeling of a gathering storm, of playing pieces moving incrementally into position on some cosmic gameboard.
I eventually told this final, much longer story in the novel String City, which was published in 2019 by Solaris Books. Now that’s done, the time feels right to collect the original seven stories (each of which is really long enough to be classed as a novelette) into a single volume — and here it is. In these pages you’ll find werewolves and titans, angels and zombies, murder, love and, above all, mystery.
- “Entertaining with innovative world-building” – TangentOnline
- “Well handled [with] cleverly sketched in fantastical background” – Locus
- “Rivals the worlds of Lewis Carroll or Douglas Adams on the strangeness index … you’re in for a treat” – The Fix
- “Over-the-toppitude in the New Weird mode” – Internet Review of Science Fiction
- “Magnificent urban fantasy giddy with hardcore horror imagery” – Locus
Want to know more? Hit the links to read an extract from each of the seven stories:
- The Wooden Baby – when you wake to find your baby has turned to wood, who are you going to call?
- Dead Wolf in a Hat – a gunshot, a bloodstain, and a corpse that might be man or wolf … or just possibly both.
- Syren – the love song of the syren is deadly, especially when you’re the one she’s singing about.
- Still Point – at the centre of the turning world lies the one, true place where all is still. If you find it, you may never want to leave.
- Girl in Pieces – zombie cops, a spider queen, and a garbage can filled with the most beautiful body parts you ever saw. Who can possibly piece this one together?
- The Dame Don’t Whimper – it starts with a hail of bullets and a little green man. Where will it end? Only the runaway dame has the answer.
- Lifestrings of the Loving Couple – in a zoo filled with mechanical animals, a desperate husband fights to protect the most precious thing he knows: his wife’s secret soul.