The Mesmerist’s Daughter is launched!

Neon Books has published my novella, The Mesmerist’s Daughter and it looks great.. you can get your copy here (print and digital) for only £4. Get in quick to receive one of the origami wolves!

Still not tempted? Here’s an extract to whet your whistle…

My mother was a wolf. That was the first secret I kept for her. At night she would jimmy open my door with her muzzle and swagger into my bedroom, her blunt claws clicking like tarts’ heels on the floor, her panting rigid and dependable. Her thick, wiry pelt was heavy and as smothering as coal gas.

During the day she hid her grey wolfishness under a human costume. I played at being a hairdresser and brushed her human hair looking for gaps in her pretend skin where wiry fur might poke through. She was very thorough. I never found a thing. When I woke before her alarm went off I sneaked to her room to try and catch her as she snapped and crunched her bones, flattening the long wolfy snout, before cramming it into a flat-face human mask. I was always too late; when I got there she was drawing her lipstick on her mouth, smoothing her skirt over her bottom.

But every night the same thing: in she’d come, tap, tap, tap, snuffling under the cover, her stinking breath hot on my skin, and she’d eat all my belly flesh from rib to hip, tearing and ripping, chewing with her mouth open, eaten dry, nothing left of me just leg, leg, arms and a head. All the while I watched her, mesmerised. I didn’t feel a thing except sleepy, so sleepy, and by morning I was whole again, like myself only newer and weaker. That was the first of many secrets.

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First

First, there is the push from the bank, feet flat against the mud, slipping, wrong-footed, legs braced, toes curling around stones, fixing in place, hands gripping the vessel, body flexed, shove and counter shove, eyes fixed on the the direction of travel, the false start, half-in, half-out, sliding back into the dark, before trying again.  The rough surface confirms our presence.  Another try, the pulling back to reset, regaining our grasp, this time the boat moves forward, accepted by the lake, one final heave and we are in, sitting firm in the balance.  

Words determine our direction like waves.  The words move us along, tied to the current, a tide of language that unsettles the horizon, the landing spot. Birds call in an unknown tongue; light deciphers what we see, and what we see we pin to the page with the sharp point of black type. The slip slap of fish, the cradle rock of the boat lulls and sickens and our hands, rough-edged and smooth-tipped make signs that ask for an answer.  Mapping the journey we take, over land and sea, through synapses and memory, accompanied always by the words, fixed, breathed words precise but diaphanous; made of air and ink.  

We cast messages in bottles over the side; materials merge, ink, water, flesh and air.  Answers come and go.  Words return like ghosts.