All posts in Short Stories


Today sees the release of Some of the Best from, an anthology of 26 original stories – with original artwork! – from’s class of 2014 fiction. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty delighted to have my novelette Brisk Money included, in what really is an astounding collection. I mean, just look at the contents:

You can read more about it at The collection is available now at Amazon, with other online retailers loading it up shortly. It is also entirely, 100% free.

What I did in 2013. What I’m going to do in 2014.

I was mulling over a wrap-up post for 2013, but this year has been a little weird, writing-wise, and I wasn’t sure there would be much to post. However, inspired by Chuck Wendig’s wrap-up – in which he mentions an interesting project or two that I have a hand in – I figured I should really sit down and work out what the hell I’ve been doing this year. And what I need to be doing next.

So! 2013?

Despite feeling like I haven’t done much, 2013 was a really good year for me. Having sold The Burning Dark to Tor around Easter 2012 as a standalone novel, this year I sold them two more books – The Jovian Conspiracy and The Stars Below – in the same universe. A few months later, UK and Commonwealth rights to all three books were sold to Titan. Tor revealed the amazing cover, by Will Staehle – who was also responsible for each of my Angry Robot covers – back in July.

I also wrote – and sold – Cold War, a standalone novelette set in the universe of The Burning Dark, to


I had one book published – The Age Atomic, a sequel to Empire State, came out from Angry Robot in April. Alongside the US and UK paperbacks came a limited, numbered collector’s edition hardcover of this title and of Empire State, complete with a new cover by Will Staehle. This made me the only Angry Robot author, so far, to have each of their novels released as a hardback.



In June, I released Two Tales of San Ventura, a pair of short stories set in the world of Seven Wonders. Will Staehle was once again on cover duties.


On top of this, as Chuck mentions over at his blog, I worked with him on a comic pitch that, with a bit of luck, we’ll be able to talk about next year. Speaking of comics, the first three parts of my Prohibition urban fantasy, The Sentinel, came out as part of the VS Comics digital anthology.

Events I attended were the Sci-Fi Weekender in North Wales (I had the flu the whole weekend, and have never been so cold in all my life), EdgeLit in Derby, Andromeda One in Birmingham, Nine Worlds in London, LoneStarCon/WorldCon in San Antonio, and World Fantasy in Brighton. If I to pick a favourite, it must be Nine Worlds – from tremendous organisation to imaginative and fresh programming, this was THE event of 2013.

So, behind-the-scenes, things were pretty busy, and work-wise this was a really good year. In fact, my biggest year yet.

Writing-wise, it was an odd one. From October 2012 through to August 2013 I was editing two books at once – The Burning Dark, and Hang Wire – which was a bit of a challenge. Once those were done, I spent a couple of months outlining The Jovian Conspiracy and got that book underway.

Which means it doesn’t feel like I’ve written much this year, even though “editing” really means “rewriting and rewriting and rewriting”. It’s also hard to track, as a straight eight-hour day of work on novel edits can actually result in a negative word count. There’s probably an easy way to track it, but I haven’t tried it yet!

As for 2014…

I’m under contract to write three novels, only one of which (The Jovian Conspiracy) is due next year. I’m working on it now, and that’s the number one priority.

Once that is in, I’ve got an urban-ish fantasy novel to finish, and a crime novel to write, before I get started on The Stars Below. So that’s one novel to finish, two to start and finish, and one to at least start. Minimum. I also have another long-short story to do, although hopefully I can knock that off before the end of 2013.

That comic project with Chuck should start to kick off… and there may be a couple of other projects in this field to talk about. The final part of The Sentinel should drop from VS Comics early in the year, although that was actually written a while ago.

The only event I’m locked in for so far is WorldCon, which in 2014 is being held in London, but there’s no doubt I’ll be at other events too.

But the big thing for 2014 is that I’ve got two books out! Hang Wire is released by Angry Robot on January 28th (US/eBook) and February 6th (UK), and The Burning Dark is out March 25th from Titan (UK/Commonwealth) and Tor (US). There’s not much of a gap between them and launch-wise, we’re cooking up something big, so stay tuned. There’s also a kick-ass pre-order contest starting in January. Cold War will be out around the same time as The Burning Dark.

So that was my 2013. An odd year, but a good one. 2014 is shaping up to be much bigger and busier, which is just how it should be. Onward!

Announcement: New book deal with Tor!

Seriously, keeping secrets just kills me. So… I’m pleased to announce I’ve signed a new book deal!

The deal is with Tor US for a new novel called Shadow’s Call, a dark space opera set on a distant, derelict space station, bathed in toxic radiation from a nearby star, where a washed-up Fleet commander must battle a sentient mechanical spider race and its sinister allies with the help of a long-dead Cosmonaut and a sexy but troubled celebrity asteroid-miner.

The deal was negotiated by Tor editor Paul Stevens and my (exceedingly kick-ass) agent, Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency, and includes North American English rights in physical and electronic formats.

Shadow’s Call is the Secret Project S I’ve been talking about recently, and long-time readers of my blog may remember this book from the original title of Ludmila, My Love.

Now, this deal is pretty cool – this is my first with one of the Big Six publishers, and it’ll be my first novel in hardcover. Shadow’s Call is due out in summer 2013 from Tor in the US. I’m excited to be working with Paul at Tor, and this clearly means I’m going to have to go back to New York for a meeting. And cake. As you do.

My thanks to Stacia Decker and to the original Ludmila beta-reading team!

The Split Worlds: The Promise of Riches

Tomorrow I’m off to Alt Fiction in Leicester, where I will be appearing alongside today’s guest, Emma Newman. Emma is the author of the YA dystopia 20 Years Later, and the collection of short stories From Dark Places. She is currently working on a series of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds, an urban fantasy universe, leading up to the release of five full-length novels.

I’m delighted to be hosting this week’s story, The Promise of Riches. Over to her…

This is the twenty-fourth tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.


Chile, 2008

His boss calls it the Sore. On days when it all feels futile and he can’t see a way out he calls it the Wound but today the mine is the Cauldron, a magical open cast pot turning sweat into copper.

He leaves the air conditioned car and in seconds his collar clings to his neck, the new suit will need to be laundered when he gets back to the city. The only mercy is the breeze, still hot but blowing past him towards the mine. In the nearest village to the west, populated by the stubborn and the sick who care more about ancestral bones than new slums they’re entitled to at the edge of the city, they call the easterly breeze the Devil’s fart. It’s a good name, he thinks as he strides up the ramp to the porta-cabin door, the sulphurous fumes do smell like they could come from hell itself.

He knocks once and goes in, wanting to be polite but also to remind the foreigner that this is his cabin, and this is his country. His mouth is dry and the armpits of his shirt damp, but he refuses to acknowledge his fear. The urgent pulse is nothing but excitement, the slick palms nothing but the humidity. This will go well.

The foreigner doesn’t look up from his paperwork. The man is sitting in his chair, behind his desk, relaxed as if they were his own. He waves a hand at the chair that is reserved for suits, the other one is pushed against a wall, its seat cushion stained by alluvial mud left by the steady stream of complaining workers.

“Tell me,” the foreigner eventually says. “How did you raise the output by such a remarkable amount this year?” His Spanish is heavily accented but grammatically perfect.

“The last man was too soft,” he replies, slowing his speech a little for the foreigner’s ear. “He forgot that his duty was to the company, not to the workers.”

“You’re saying he was too kind to them?” His gold pen runs down columns of figures as he speaks.

“He didn’t realise that miners will always be unhappy about something, and that if someone listens to them like their mother, they will complain like children.”

The foreigner looks up for the first time, his eyes are the colour of verdigris, his hair disturbingly blonde. “And you treat them differently.”

“I make it clear that the only way money flows into this mine and into their pockets is by sending the copper out of it. The more copper goes out, the more money comes in.”

“And yet their wages have been frozen.”

“But the incentives for the most productive have not.”

The foreigner smiles a little, nods. “I’ve reviewed the figures and I’m impressed. So impressed I reviewed your file.”

“Thank you sir, your attention humbles me.”

“There’s no need for that kind of talk,” the foreigner cools, sits back. “Don’t lay it on too thick,” he says in English. He speaks like the Queen and how he imagines everyone speaks as they drink tea and watch big red buses plough through thick London fog.

“I apologise,” he says, switching to English, hoping the foreigner admires his avoidance of the phonemic traps lying within its syllables.

“I understand you’re interested in an international transfer,” the foreigner’s voice sounds like refined murderous intent, but he knows it’s only because he only watches American films cheaply imported, and the villains are always British.

“I am sir,” he replies, suppressing the urge to signal he is prepared to bribe. Such things are not needed here.

“No family?”


The foreigner nods, his white eyelashes are barely visible, making the edges of his eyelids harsh as he looks back down at the paperwork. “I’m willing to take you back to London if you can leave tonight.”

“I can.” He’d anticipated such a test. The company wanted proof it was the most important thing in his life, like a damaged lover, wanting to see him drop everything for them.

“Excellent. Do you have any questions?”

“I do.” He leaned forward, lowered his voice. “I have heard it said that you are the best prospector in the company, that you have discovered copper deposits in places other companies have ignored, and in some cases, even after another company has carried out initial testing and moved on.”

The foreigner smiles, gives a slight nod. “And your question is?”

“What do I need to do to be as skilful as you?”

“Like all things, that is both simple and complicated,” the foreigner replies as he scoops up the paperwork and tidies it with three abrupt taps on the table. “If you continue to show such promise, I’ll train you myself. But for now, suffice it to say it’s thanks to the holy trinity.”

He fails to hide his surprise, the foreigner doesn’t give the impression of being a man of faith.

“Not that one,” he continues. “Blood, sweat and tears.” The verdigris eyes flick up at him. “But mostly blood.”

The foreigner grins, there is a dark mirth in those eyes and the breeze drives the stench of sulphur under the door. But he doesn’t notice. His mind is already in London.

Thanks for hosting Adam!

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you would like to find out more about the Split Worlds project, it’s all here: – you can also sign up to get an extra story and get each new story delivered to your inbox every week. If you would like to host a story over the coming year, either let me know in the comments or contact me through the Split Worlds site. Em x

New interview, new short story, new novel

Yesterday my second-ever interview went up over at, the website of Chuck Wendig. As many will know, Chuck is a fellow Angry Robot author, and fellow member of Team Decker. My interview is split over two weeks, probably due to the fact that when he said to tell him a story, I went and wrote one. The result was a bit of fun called Green Eggs and Handguns, which you can read over at Chuck’s site. Go check it out!

Also yesterday I got the end of the final edit of Seven Wonders, my superhero novel which is being publishing by Angry Robot at the end of 2012. This morning I did one last quick spellcheck and sent it off to my beta-readers.

Getting that manuscript done is a huge relief – not just because that book was tricky to edit, but because I feel like I’ve been editing forever. The last novel I wrote was Hang Wire, the first draft of which was finished at the end of May, although it feels like longer.

Anyway, now it’s time to write. My next project is up and running:

I’ve done a more detailed outline for this than I would normally, but conversely I’m determined that this novel has a more straightforward structure. Seven Wonders took a long time to get right because of two concurrent timelines. Night Pictures has, so far, one flashback sequence, but aside from that, everything else is linear.

Well, as far as I know. Let’s see what happens when I start writing!

Serenity now

You know what’s worse than a hard-to-hit deadline? How about one that actually shrinks the closer you get to it? That’s pretty much my situation for the next two weeks, so I’m afraid this blog is going to gather dust a little. But, I’ll try and at least post a pretty picture once a day until things settle down.

As they say, serenity now, serenity now…

Before I go, in the not-really-news department, the shortlist for the 2011 British Horror Fantasy Society awards is up and the two short stories of mine that made it to the longlist aren’t on it. That’s what I expected, but my heartfelt thanks to those who nominated them, and to those who voted. I really appreciate it! The announced shortlist is a pretty cool collection of creators and their works (Angry Robot gets into the Best Novel category with Pretty Little Dead Things by Gary McMahon) – I’d make (another) quip about the list being horror dominated again, but seeing as my two longlist-nominated stories were actually horror too, I shouldn’t really complain!

In fact, you can read my two stories for free here – The Nightmare of You and Death in the Room and The Unpopular Opinion of Reverend Tobias Thackery. Enjoy!

Update: The BFS shortlist is on their front page, as kindly pointed out by Jan in the comments! Thanks, I’ve updated the post!

13th April, 2011: The British Fantasy Awards longlist

The British Fantasy Awards are the “other” awards, handed out at FantasyCon in September. I say “other” just because they come second in the year – the first being the British Science Fiction Association awards given at EasterCon.

The longlist for the BFS awards went up the other day, and I have two short stories nominated – The Nightmare of You and Death in the Room, and The Unpopular Opinion of Reverend Tobias Thackery.

My reaction in essence can be summed up as: oh hell yes!!

I mean, I could be all cool about it, and just shrug, and go, yeah, hey, BFS? Sweet. But the one thing about this writing lark is to never, ever take anything for granted. I’ve met authors who do/have, and you know what? Those encounters usually haven’t been that nice. So far I’ve had an amazing year, and every single achievement is worth celebrating.

So, where was I? Oh yeah: oh hell yes!! Nightmare was also longlist-nominated for the BSFA awards this year.

I’m not sure how many rounds of voting there are but BFS Members and registered attendees of FantasyCon 2010 and 2011 can vote on round one now. Voting is open until 31 May 2011. My two short stories are available, complete and free, here (Nightmare) and here (Thackery).

It’s a real honour to be on this longlist – I mean, just look at the names on it. Lauren Beukes, Stephen King (fortunately I’m not up against him in my category!), Joe Hill… the list goes on. Go take a look, and if you qualify to vote, vote!

One more thing from yesterday – I got a namecheck in episode 15 of ThrillerCast, a writing podcast hosted by Alan Baxter and David Wood. Alan and David said some very nice things – thanks guys! Their podcast sounds really cool, and I’m certainly going back to listen to it from the beginning.

Back to the editing…

9th March, 2011: The week that never ends

And it’s only Wednesday, right? Busy busy. Busy busy is good in some parts, but bad in others. Tonight I was forced (FORCED) to eat a very amount of Chinese food and drink a pear cider (not actually perry, I don’t think). Forced, I tell you.

So there’s no blog action here, but over at EscapePod, I give a little rundown of two forthcoming British SF/genre awards. Go check it out!

Editing? On hold. This isn’t according to plan, but I did say this week would be busy. Here’s to the weekend… wait, I’ve got TWO more days to go? Oh man. On the plus side, I have managed to get a lot of writing admin stuff done, which included sorting the paperwork on another short story which I’ve just sold. I mentioned this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll have more info on that shortly.

A ghost story for Christmas

As mentioned yesterday, today is National Short Story day, and genre fans are in for something of an aural treat. Over at Dark Fiction Magazine, their Twelve Days of Christmas audio anthology is now available and features a dozen excellent shorts by a dozen excellent writers. Each story takes a line from the traditional Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, and the end result is rather splendid. Get your ears over there, pronto!

Meanwhile, here’s my own Christmas ghost story, Nine Ladies Dancing, read by Emma Newman. Emma is a writer and voice artist, and her first novel, the post-apocalyptic Twenty Years Later, is due from Dystopia Press in 2011. Emma’s website is Post-Apocalyptic Publishing, and she can be found on Twitter as @emapocalyptic.

I hope you enjoy the story, and Emma’s narration, and we’d love to hear your feedback. Please feel free to share the link or the file.

Merry Christmas!