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Utterly Dark and the Heart of the Wild

The second Utterly Dark book, Utterly Dark and the Heart of the Wild , is published in the UK today! Here’s the magnificent cover illustration by Paddy Donnelly. As you can probably tell from Paddy’s artwork, this book isn’t concerned so much with the sea, which is what the first one was all about. This time, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, it is …  But on dry land, magical trouble is lurking.  As usual I hadn’t planned on writing a series, and it was only when Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep was done and dusted that I started wondering if she could have more adventures. I wanted to know a bit more about Egg, so he gets more to do in this book, and there’s more of Will and Aish too. I grew very fond of all those characters while I was writing the first book, and I’d have been quite happy writing a sequel in which they just sat around and talked and went for walks on the beach, but I guess readers prefer it if something happens too, so I’ve thrown them i
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There are about five months left until (weather and other variables permitting 🤞) we start shooting the low-budget Arthurian film project I embarked on last year . It was partly inspired by watching lots of bigger-budget ones , but I’ve been meaning to make a movie for ages, and the landscapes and locations I have to hand here on Dartmoor are perfectly suited to Arthuriana. (I had some very helpful advice early on from Elizabeth Jane Baldry , the director of Sir Lanval , another independent Arthurian project made round our parts.) Our film is called Gwenevere , and so far I’ve mostly been working on the script, storyboarding, and sorting out locations, while co-director  Sarah Reeve hones her lighting and cinematography skills. We’ve also been searching for a cast - it turns out finding actors and arranging to get them all together in one place is by far the biggest challenge. But I’m very pleased with the actors we have found: in the title role,  Laura Frances Martin will play Gwene


Back in the Lockdowns my long-time collaborator and current lodger/studio mate Sarah McIntyre started painting pictures of nautical mice heading off aboard sailing ships and seaplanes for adventures on the High Seas. She turned them into prints and cards, but we always knew they’d have to have some stories of their own some day, and we’re happy to announce our new ADVENTUREMICE series, which we’re working on with editor Liz Cross and designer Ness Wood for David Fickling Books (who also publish my Utterly Dark novels). The first two books will be launched next spring, and you can read more details (and see more pictures) over on Sarah’s blog .


There are two sorts of fantasy story: the sort that feels fake and the sort that feels real. It’s hard to explain the difference, but you know the real ones when you read them, and Skye McKenna’s debut novel  Hedgewitch  is one of them. Young Cassandra Morgan, daughter of missing mother, escapes her grim boarding school and ends up living with her aunt in the visit of Hedgely, which is mapped in exquisite detail by illustrator Tomislav Tomic.* (I think he’s done some illustrations to the text too, but they don’t feature in my proof copy. I wish he’d been allowed to do the cover, too.) Cassandra’s family, it turns out, are witches, whose job it is to keep everyone safe from the fae who dwell on the far side of a weird stretch of forest called the Hedge.  We seem to be in a Jonathan Strange-ish alternate Britain, where a cold war between faeries and humans is starting to hot up as the mysterious Erl King gathers his power beyond the Hedge. With its very English shops and customs, and its

New Book Announcement: Utterly Dark 2

When I wrote Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep , I thought it would be a one off, like Mortal Engines and Railhead . But, as with Mortal Engines and Railhead , I had to create a whole world for Utterly to have her adventures in, and I found I didn’t want to abandon it when the book was finished. Wildsea , the island where Utterly lives, is part of a whole archipelago, the Autumn Isles, and it seemed a good idea to send her off to visit one of the other islands. The new one is called Summertide, and where Wildsea is a granitic Cornwall/Dartmoor sort of island, Summertide is all chalk downland and much more Wiltshire/Sussex-y. It’s also big enough that the part where Utterly is staying is out of sight of the sea, and the magic she’ll encounter is land magic rather than sea magic. There are standing stones, chalk hill carvings, burial mounds, a mysterious black stag, and a sinister vicar (which is the best sort of - fictional - vicar). And there’s also a lot more about Utterly’s fri

Tiny Traction Towns 2

I tried adding these to the previous post, but Blogger wasn’t having it… Here’s a town based on a Hong Kong corner house, the bookshop-ridden Traction City of Hay-on-Wye hunting down a luckless mobile library, and the little suburb of Trundle, trundling around.

Tiny Traction Towns

I’m waiting for Utterly Dark 2 to come back to me for proof-reading, so I’ve been whiling away the time with some Mortal Engines drawings. A typical scene in the Great Hunting Ground Krokodil, an early predator town, built from the repurposed hulls of a fleet of Oster-Rus land ships.  Originally wind-powered and devoted to an eco-friendly lifestyle, the city of Thunberg swapped its sails for engines after a few narrow escapes from predator towns, and quickly became one of the most rapacious and heavily polluting cities of the Second Traction Boom. A heavily militarised pirate suburb from the Rustwater Marshes, around the time of the Medusa Event. The slogan on its plates was supposed to read ‘Nom Nom Nom’ but they ran out of space and are currently hunting more townlets so they can increase their surface area. Above and below: small Traktionstadts minding their own business, some time in the middle Traction Era A typical merchant town, heading off to sell its wares at a trading cluste