Before a Titan cavalry captain left his blade in the belly of a King; before the first Seasons had been contested; before the forging of the Rules; before the Pantheon was even an inkling – Raymond J Pearlman, who would one day take the name of a god, scowled over his glass.
Trust Ballantyne to force vintage champagne on them. Fizz had never been to Pearlman’s taste, and now the stuff had soured his innards.
All good stories flow from their characters and how their wants, desires and inner demons compel them to act in the worlds they live in. But what if they live in two realms and sometimes which one they are in blurs in the overlap between them? Perhaps one of those worlds is controlled by laws and jurisdictions, but the other is a completely lawless land, ruled by none, and governed only by the law of the jungle. Then add a predator, a technical genius, perfectly adapted to this new environment, restrained only by his own code, which is to say merely to fulfill his own desires.
When I was in the early stages of planning my new book, After She’d Gone, I knew I wanted to focus on themes that held strong personal interest for me. One of them was a desire for the book to feel contemporary and for it to join the current discourse around #MeToo and coercive control. I also wanted to write neurodiverse characters – Selma, an investigative journalist for whom her ADHD is a distinct professional advantage, and Adrian, a young boy with autistic traits and selective mutism.
After writing seven novels in the Bernicia Chronicles series set in seventh-century Northumbria, I felt the need for a change. Where should I head for a diversion? I know, I thought, how about starting a new series set in late eighth-century Northumbria? Not much of a change, I hear you say, and you’d be partially right.