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Book 3: Of Visions & Tears & Vengeance

'There are things down here that lurk beneath the surface, even down as far as we may be. There are sinister powers that are beyond my realm. They are deeper than the shadows, from a place where the fae-folk dare not tread. With reluctance, I profess that these are likely to come home to roost.

‘It is my understanding that you already face some difficulties as it is, with regard to your recent sleeping problem. Together, though, the two issues may find their resolution in each other.

‘I would like to stress that you are not entering any kind of deal with neither I, nor any of the fae-folk. I shall nonetheless aid you as here our interests align, for I would greatly desire to see the last of these evil elements that taint my kingdom.

‘Be aware that these are great dangers that have found their way to you, far beyond mere harmless jests and meddlings on our part. The path to salvation is tenuous, and I fear its odds are set against you.

‘The next piece of this puzzle lies within the well of tears; the deep cave of rock-salt and grievances crystallised in time. This is an abyss of fearsome anguish empowered by the nameless one beyond earthly light.

‘In this case, the only way out is through. To draw out the corruption, it must be met at its source; at ‘the lady in black,’ as you called her.

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Book 2: Of Greed & Lies & Puppets

‘What is it that moves you? I see a gleam of gold in your eye and the promise of riches to come. It’s an infatuation that compels you. Tell me you’re not eating someone else’s words again?

‘Oh dear, it is too precious to see you traipse about all forlorn like this. And after you said you are wise to it!’ Gladys laughed again.

‘Now, I know that you have come a long way. I didn’t merely come here to mock you. If you are looking for lodestone you can find it yonder, this way.

‘One small piece of advice for you, miners; if the time should ever come for those two brutish, greedy men to bang heads, do try to stay out of the way. There’s no more fun to be had when all have come to a sticky end!’ Gladys told the silent, glowering miners with a self-satisfied glee.

‘Bye for now!’ Gladys leapt onto Bertrand’s front haunches, and the pair of them whirled off into the cavern’s depths.

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Six miners are sent on a program of indentured servitude for private company The Righteous Anglian Mining Company of Our Lady’s Hallowed Earth. Their task is to mine a particular kind of iron ore - Lodestone - which has the unique property of being able to absorb magical energy. They will work to pay off their debt to the company and earn their freedom, but must contend with the dangers, and wonders, that they encounter in these extraordinary mines.

A crumbling, ruined chapel shall be their new base of operations in the vast caverns beneath the ground. There, they are greeted by someone who claims to be a Company veteran who has made the caverns their home. Foul, feral, and secretive; the miners will decide how much trust can they put in their new guide who tells them that he is officially dead, off the grid, and desires retribution on the Company that sent him there.

The miners' time in the huge network of caves shall bring them to face otherworldly forces and malevolent entities. While not natural fighters, they must use all their resourcefulness to overcome the dilemmas that obstruct their work. All the while, they must deal with the supernatural residents of the caves; creatures from English folklore who were thought lost to the world. The burden placed upon the miners is what they can learn and gain from each encounter, and how they can use this to escape the seemingly unending toil they have been trapped into.

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Ferdinand's Island

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In the summer of 1831, volcanic activity pushed a section of the underwater volcano Empedocles to the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, forming a rocky island measuring approximately 2.5 miles across. It became the centre of an international diplomatic dispute with four nations declaring their territorial ambitions, which remained unresolved. 

Ferdinand’s Island is a short story; the tale of a fisherman who discovers an island in the Mediterranean Sea. He finds joy in the experience of his new discovery, but it turns out to be a coveted prize for others that dominates headlines around the world.

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Dead Kings of Nothing

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'In the gravest of times, at the end of human history, only the most ridiculous might survive.'

A group of students from Huddersfield party so hard they miss the end of the world. They proceed to keep partying and fail their way through the post-apocalypse.

This is a testament to the short, strange lives of these misfit anti-socialites and a higher education in how not to do it.

Dead Kings Of Nothing is the dark, offbeat and eccentric story of a group of students who come to after a wild house party to find that the world around them is desolate and abandoned.

The hapless bunch of ne’er-do-well students awaken hungover into a world where a disaster has stricken their home town of Huddersfield. All around are signs of a panicked mass exodus of the town and a looting of its buildings. The few people left have become rabid and feral with a strange kind of sickness that has turned them mindless and ghoulish in appearance. Perhaps some military strike or invasion occurred; the student friends can only guess, because during this time they had such a wild house party they could barely remember it. Whatever happened, they missed it all and can only speculate at the devastation left behind. Now, with no adult supervision or guidance there is nothing left for the motley bunch of decadent anti-socialites except figure out where the next meal (and drink) comes from.

Each member of the group has different ideas on how to proceed, few agree with each other and collectively they don’t have the competence to carry out any plan due to their continual debauchery and smoking of a strange narcotic herb they cultivate in the garden shed.

The students try something, fail, try something bigger, fail harder, then try something else so spectacular in its reach and madness to truly out-do themselves that they fail so hard things could never be the same again. This, to them, is progress.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a trilogy of short stories (approx 17,500 words); two science-fiction thrillers and a ghost story. Each story is linked by a running theme of clinging to the past.

Porcelain People is the story of Claire, who is an employee of the Glamorta corporation. Glamorta became an international success story when they pioneered a cure for ageing. Popularised among the rich and famous of the world's elite, the treatment grants medical immortality and also a flawless, mannequin-like appearance to the few that can afford it. On the salary paid to her by Glamorta, Claire will never be able to afford the procedure in several lifetimes of work, so what is she prepared to do about it?

Shelved is the story of Thomas who dedicates his life to his work as a homegrown historian.

In the attic room in the aged family home are a series of shelves which, at dawn, will show the contents they once held at some point in the house's distant past. Thomas seeks to make an accurate record of all he can see, before the ghostly visions are swept away by daybreak, in the hope of presenting his discovery to the world; until he discovers more than he bargained for.

Thanks For Your Time is the story of Emilia, an entrepreneur with a novel service to provide. She claims to be able to recreate a segment of the past which may then be re-experienced by a client, for a price. Her talents are procured by Deirdre, a terminally ill heiress, who wants to see the city of Leeds as it was when she was a girl, and revisit places from her childhood which no longer exist today. For Emilia, it promises to be a contract of a lifetime, but she will have to consider the ethics of her service and how far she is willing to flex them.

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Early Works

This is a trilogy of the earliest short stories written when I was studying my Creative Writing Bachelor of Arts degree, during 2009 & 2010 at the University of Huddersfield.

In A Conflict of Interest a group of soldiers hold the line in a last stand and prepare to be overwhelmed by an oncoming enemy assault. Jack Foster goads fate and revels in the fireworks display of the incoming enemy bombardment while Matt Hargreaves cowers in terror and prepares to defend until the last breath.

The Heart of Felcrank Grammar is a whimsical satire, sending up self-important grammar schools that are full of pomp and self-aggrandisement for their own history, such as Ripon Grammar School, of which I am a former pupil. Don't get me wrong, I love the place and remember some bits fondly, but the dated grandiosity of the place was too tempting to make fun of.

Benedict Brasstack is a pupil of Felcrank Grammar School and has noticed some disturbing occurrences in the school's administration which other pupils seem to afraid to mention or even acknowledge. How are the pupils so intimidated, why is there so much attrition in the pupil register and what actually goes on in Intensive Detention?

Half Written concludes the trilogy with an unsettling metafictional fantasy, featuring an anonymous survivor who struggles to stay alive on a nameless, featureless, dusty plain.

To the survivor, past events seem a blur, memories are missing and the survivor's own history is a confused mess of guesswork, which they can't be sure if they even made up. An opportunity to learn their past and scribe a destiny presents itself which the survivor is compelled to strive for.

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