Tag Archives: Improbable Press

Xmas 2019 Gift Recs for Readers and Writers

If you’re hunting for last minute gifts for the lovelies in your life (or your lovely self) I’ve brought together some recommendations of books I’ve reviewed throughout the year.

Crime for all tastes

Emma Viskic’s Caleb Zelic trilogy began with Resurrection Bay then And Fire Came Down, and the fabulous Darkness for Light came out in December this year. It’s a great triple-hit for the crime lover in your life.

Another set of trilogies for crime lovers that are also suitable for YA readers are Ellie Marney’s “Every” series (Every Breath, Every Word and Every Move) which are a kind of Holmesian YA reworking set in Australia, and the “Circus Hearts” books (All the Little Bones, All Fall Down and All Aces).

I love a cosy crime set in a place I know, especially when it’s full of delicious recipes and delicious Scottish men, so let me throw confetti over Livia Day’s whole Cafe La Femme series. One short (The Blackmail Blend) is an ebook but the rest: A Trifle Dead, Drowned Vanilla and the latest, Keep Calm and Kill the Chef, are all available in paperback!

Science Fiction

I remain delighted that LynC’s superb Nil By Mouth was re-released this year, and even though it’s harrowing in places it’s also filled with compassion.

Alison Evans’ Highway Bodies is the zombie apocalypse for today’s diverse YA reader (and I’m very excited to have their latest, Euphoria Kids, on my review pile – it comes out in February).

Of course, Twelfth Planet Press continues to bring amazing work to the world, and their Mother of Invention anthology, edited by Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts, is something special for the SF reader in your life.

Sherlock Holmes

Improbable Press is settling in to its new home with Clan Destine Press, but has put out a few books this year: Tessa Barding’s The Case of the Misplaced Models and another of its 221b series (short stories of exactly 221 words, the last of which starts with the letter B) in A Question of Time by Jamie Ashbird with illustrations by Janet Anderton.

And, while it’s a few years old, Joe Ide’s interpretation of what a Holmes and Watson might be like if they were born in a tough black LA neighbourhood, IQ, is fantastic and I’ll be looking up the rest in the series in the new year.

Travel

For armchair travellers, Lonely Planet has some lovely books for both adults and children. You can explore the monsters of the world in The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts or travel to the stars in The Universe: A Travel Guide. Two more Lonely Planet Kids books have recently arrived for review (Wild in the City and Myths and Legends of the World), so I’m looking forward to reading more sumptuously illustrated and quirky travel books this month.

Support your local blogger

If you’d like to support this writer, there are of course the books I released this year: paperbacks Kitty and Cadaver and Scar Tissue and Other Stories, and the anthology War of the Worlds: Battleground Australia.

Ebooks

I have a other recommendations for your summer reading, but as many of these are ebooks and so not as well designed for gifting, I’ll cover those in my next post.

Review: The Case of the Misplaced Models by Tessa Barding

Improbable Press, recently acquired as an imprint by Clan Destine Press, has released two new books already under the new banner. I’ve reviewed the first – A Question of Time, a collection of 50 short stories with illustrations – and have just finished this new novel by Tessa Barding.

The Case of the Misplaced Models takes place in a contemporary London and is narrated by a John Watson who is fitting back into his old life. He works in a local surgery, keeps fit while keeping an eye on the limitations of his reconstructed let, and has an eye for a hot guy – especially when one shows up outside consulting hours needing a gash in his leg sewn up.

Dr Watson ends up in a flat share with this same enigmatic and attractive man – Sherlock Holmes of course – and before long they are sharing morning runs, simple breakfasts and a frisson of attraction. Yet while John is falling in love, it’s less clear what Sherlock wants. Sex, certainly, but is his heart in the game?

While John gradually becomes involved in Sherlock’s cases, he’s also keeping in sporadic touch with his university friend, the perpetually busy finance broker, Karim Halabi. Halabi’s stumbled across an odd algorithm in the figures he’s modelling – and then one day disaster strikes.

Barding has created a rich, modern life for Holmes and Watson. John’s relationship with Karim is believably deep for all the trouble they have getting their schedules to match up. It’s easy to respond to John’s magnetic attraction and confusion over Sherlock’s feelings and intentions as well.

Holmes is, as always, fascinating. His hard-to-read emotions suggest a troubled past that readers of the original Doyle stories (or viewers of modern interpretations) will recognise as an old drug habit. He’s odd and unpredictable, not always picking up on the social and relationship cues, yet still likeable, as he should be.

Barding’s Sherlock is brilliant and eccentric. His affectionate relationship with his brother Mycroft is a lovely throwback to canon, and his warm working relationship with DI Gwen Lestrade a nod to Conan Doyle’s work describing the DI as being “the best of the professionals”.

A special shout-out goes to Bodie and Doyle, John’s pets in this iteration.

The Case of the Misplaced Models zips along at a great pace, scattered with several cases before Karim’s trouble takes over the focus. The sex scenes are hot, and the emotional growth attached to them satisfying. I’m hoping Tessa Barding will consider bringing more of this John and Sherlock to us!

At the time of writing, Improbable Press is offering a very cool deal. Buy all three of its most recent paperbacks – A Question of Time, A Study in Velvet and Leather and The Case of the Misplaced Models – and you can get another two ebooks from its or Clan Destine’s range – for free. Details are on the Improbable Press website.

Buy The Case of the Misplaced Models

Review: A Question of Time by Jamie Ashbird

Improbable Press, recently acquired by Clan Destine Press, has come of of its new gate with two new books: A Question of Time by Jamie Ashbird, illustrated by Janet Anderton, and The Case of the Misplaced Models by Tessa Barding.

A Question of Time is the third in IP’s 221B series (which began with my own A Dream to Build a Kiss On and then K. Caine’s A Study in Velvet and Leather) and continues the theme of writing Holmes/Watson love stories a succinct 221 words at a time. (The last word of each short story begins with ‘B’, hence the 221B name for the form.)

The Blurb

Sherlock Holmes
whether he’s a grimy student in 1980, a consulting detective in 47BCE, or a smitten neighbour in 1969, will always find his…
John Watson
whether he is a military doctor in 1917, an angry Saxon with an axe in 1086, or a priest in 1603.

A Question of Time is an illustrated journey through the ages told by our heroes, by their friends, and by a scorched manuscript.

This new collection begins with 221 words set in 2085, a bittersweet eulogy for two men who loved each other all their lives, delivered by their child. There is so much love and humour in these words you feel like you’ve known the three of them. The illustration of the twined elm trees is a lovely, evocative symbol of the emotion of this window into their story.

The remaining 49 stories flit about through time, from 19,873 BCE (oh, how heartstrings can be tugged in 221 words about ochred hand paintings!) through the disco years [and two world wars and molly houses and Jack the Ripper’s London] to a lovely two-parter in 2019 where an appreciative and babbling Watson meets a busking Holmes.

Each is a delicious little tale, woven into history yet standing alone as a snippet of a time and place. Huge amounts of personality, delicious wickedness and humour are part of the weave; as are darker moments during the black plague and its 20th century counterpart during the 1980s with the AIDS crisis.

All the cleverness, compassion, giggle-out-loud-at-the-cafe quirks are turned into double delights with Janet Anderton’s illustration: the orchids, bees, coins, singed manuscripts and strange paraphernalia, and glimpses of hands, mouths, eyes in each setting highlighting elements of and adding dimensions to each story.

In short, A Question of Time is small and perfectly formed, the delights of the text enhanced by the charms of the illustrations, and if you like your Holmes and Watson to be in love, no matter where in time they exist, you’ll get 50 little hits of joy.

Buy A Question of Time

2018: My writing year – and my year to come: 2019

On the brink of a new year, I’m looking back on 2018 with satisfaction and maybe a smidge of exhaustion. 2019 looks to be just as full of writing challenges and delights!

In case you missed anything, I’ve summarised my writing year below – and teased with some of my upcoming projects for 2019!

Thank you all for your support during the year – 2018 was fraught in many ways, but I hope it brought rewards as well. May 2019 bring you more of what you love, and more of what heals you.

<3 Narrelle

2018

Holmes and Watson in Love

My second Improbable Press Holmes/Watson book came out in June. A Dream to Build a Kiss On is a single story arc told over 100 stories of exactly 221 words each and the last word of each story begins with b. 221b. 🙂 It’s the first of a series of 221b stories for IP. (The second was A Study in Velvet and Leather, which I adore.)

Writing 100 stories in that format, and with a contemporary setting, was a challenge which I enjoyed immensely. I may even take it up again later next year!

Music

Although not yet published, Kitty and Cadaver made an official debut with a song! “The Rain Song” appears about half way through the book. The band Bronze has released it on their EP The Razorback Five Track.

(And yes, one of the songs on the EP is inspired by that Ausploitation horror film, Razorback!)

Here is “Rain Song” – a song about precipitation which is also a spell to make it rain!

Short Fiction

I sold a few Holmes and Watson stories during the year: in one, I recast them as contemporary Australian hipsters in “The Problem of the Three Journals“, solving crime and serving excellent coffee, for the Baker Street Irregulars: The Game Is Afoot anthology.

A Gentleman’s Disagreement“, a sequel to “The Blue Carbuncle”, is a more traditional story from Dr Watson’s point of view, in

I admit the most fun I had with short fiction this year was my contribution to Grant Me the Carving of My Name, a collection of stories about Richard III edited by Alex Marchant and designed to raise funds for the Scoliosis Association UK.

One of my very few science fiction tales was published this year too – “Earworm Armageddon“, told from the PoV of a deaf protagonist, was picked up by Jay Henge publishing for Wavelengths.

Patreon and Duo Ex Machina

My most massive achievement this year – in term of words and time – was setting up my Patreon, through which I’ve re-edited and re-published my two M/M crime novellas, Fly By Night and Sacrifice.

These novellas were first published in 2004 by Homosapien Press. Now I’ve repackaged them as the Duo Ex Machina series, and the third (and brand new) novella, Number One Fan, is being published in fornightly chapters for my Patreon supporters. (Thanks guys!)

I also prepped a few reprinted stories and wrote a whole slew of fresh ones for the Scar Tissue and Other Stories collection for my Patreon supporters. (Thank you again – you guys are the best.)

My patrons received the book in November, and the official release (a co-production with Clan Destine Press) is scheduled for around February 2019, after a few delays pushed it back.

2019

Three books!

So before the year even begins, I have writing news for 2019. There’s Scar Tissue and Other Stories for February – which, among other things, contains short stories set in the Ravenfall, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, The Vampires of Melbourne series and Kitty and Cadaver universes!

Then in March, the third Duo Ex Machina novella, Number One Fan, will finish its chapter-by-chapter run and be prepared for an ebook release.

Pipping that one at the post will be Grounded, a spec fic romance about two people who can’t fly in a world with wings. Escape Publishing has done a beautiful job of the cover and I’m excited to see this book released on 20 March!

Still to come

Of course, this only brings us to March. I’m sitting on an announcement for a short story that’s been accepted – when the anthology is officially announced I’ll send out the news first in my new newsletter, Mortal Whispers.

The first novel I’m working on for the year (now that Grounded is all edited and ready to go) is Kitty and Cadaver.  I’m hoping for that to come out mid year in time for some SF conventions in June.

I plan to tackle the third in the Vampires of Melbourne series, which will coincide with a re-release of the first two books as ebooks with new covers.

I’ll also be working on the fourth Duo Ex Machina novella, Kiss and Cry from April onwards.

Folks. It’s gonna be another big year!