Preview of Logres, Book Two.

This is an extract from chapter two of The Future King: Logres, Book Two. The book itself is out on May 5 2020 and is available to preorder from Amazon.


Gone.

Gwenhwyfar stood in the middle of the living room, her eyes flitting across the destruction around her. The front door hung from its frame, a half-severed limb, and the broken glass of her mother’s favourite cabinet frosted the carpet. The vase that had sat on display lay on the floor among the shattered ornaments, its interior cracked open and as pale as bone.

‘Llew—?’ She waited, but no whine or whimper answered her call. There was nothing to indicate his path besides a few spots of blood leading beyond the threshold. The sound he’d made when he’d been hit with the butt of the New Moral officer’s gun reverberated in her mind. ‘Llewellyn!’

Nothing. Time ticked prominently to her racing pulse. They didn’t take me. Why? She sank down into the sofa, her eyes fixed to the carpet. A deep chill gripped her and suddenly she was shaking violently.

They’ll come back. The New Moral Army had accidentally arrested her parents. It was a misunderstanding, something crazy she could tell her friends about in school on Monday when her mother and father were home again, when this had all been sorted out.

Disappeared. That word had been echoing at the fringe of her vocabulary, and now it was frighteningly real. But her parents hadn’t vanished; she had seen the New Morals take them. She was the one who was Free Countries. This is about me.

The packing passed in a blur. Llew was nowhere to be seen, inside the house or outside of it. She grabbed the essentials—water, money, a torch and something to eat—yet was mindful of her need to pack light. She was stuffing the last few items into her rucksack when headlights scanned the living room. Car doors slammed and footprints crunched across the gravel towards the house. Gwenhwyfar froze, her heart lodged in her throat. She still had time to run, could slip over the garden wall before they realised she was missing. She zipped her rucksack up in a hurry.

‘Police!’ The front door rattled against her makeshift barricade as they attempted to gain access to the property. ‘Let us in!’

She ran into the kitchen, her shoes crunching over the broken sugar pot scattered across the tiled floor. A momentary glance to the pictures stuck to the refrigerator stopped her, her gaze caught by a photo of their last family holiday. Her parents were smiling before a blue seascape, her mother sunburned and carefree, her father windswept and darkened by the Mediterranean sun. She stood with them, short and petite; her brown hair tousled and bronzed, her skin tanned like her father’s, her eyes green like her mother’s.

I can’t run, where would I go? It was impossible to just disappear. And what about her parents? The only people who knew where they had been taken were the ones who had taken them. Abruptly she removed her rucksack and pushed it into the nearest cupboard. A moment later she was at the front door. She began to clear the barricade.

‘Police!’ they yelled. ‘Open up!’

‘I’m in here!’ she shouted. ‘Help me!’ They redoubled their efforts to get in. Soon the furniture was gone and the front door was propped up in the hall. ‘They took my parents!’ Gwenhwyfar exclaimed. She gazed up at the two police officers imploringly. With them was a plain-clothed woman. ‘They just came in and broke everything!’

The woman eyed her pityingly. ‘Miss Taliesin—’

‘Where are they? Where have they taken them?’ She appealed to the shorter of the two police officers. ‘You need to fix this! Why won’t you help me?’

‘I am here to help you, Gwen,’ the woman said calmly. A beaked nose crowned her thin smile, and ash blonde ringlets curtained her long face. ‘My name’s Victoria, I work for the New Morals. I’m here to bring you to see a colleague of mine.’

Gwenhwyfar sensed that she shouldn’t go anywhere with this woman. Despite Victoria’s motherly tone there was something patronising in her eyes—contempt that she failed to cloak. She took an involuntary step back.

‘Please, we can talk about your parents as soon as we get there,’ Victoria continued. ‘We’ll sort all of this out.’

‘I can’t leave,’ Gwenhwyfar protested. ‘My dog’s missing. He’s hurt.’

‘What does he look like?’ the shorter police officer asked.

‘He’s a Catalan sheepdog. He has long fur, looks quite scruffy. His name is Llew.’ She turned to Victoria accusingly. ‘One of your New Morals hit him.’

‘We’ll find him,’ the taller police officer assured her. ‘He won’t have gone far.’

‘Come,’ Victoria urged. Keeping her distance, Gwenhwyfar followed the woman onto the driveway and headed towards the single patrol car. ‘No, not that one,’ Victoria said.

Thrown, Gwenhwyfar followed her off the drive to an unmarked car. The moment she was shut in the back of the vehicle she realised she couldn’t see out through the windows, or who was driving.

‘Fasten your seatbelt,’ Victoria ordered, climbing in from the other side. She shut the door and the locks clunked as they pulled away from the kerb. Gwenhwyfar’s stomach lurched, fatigue pulsing through her limbs. Victoria presented her with a bottle of water. ‘Here,’ she said. ‘You need to stay hydrated.’

‘I’m fine.’

‘Drink it. It’s a long drive.’

Gwenhwyfar accepted the bottle and held it in her lap. Victoria pulled another one out of the compartment between them and took a sip. A few moments later Gwenhwyfar did the same.

‘What took you so long?’ she asked. ‘I’ve been alone for hours. Is this what you usually do? When you abduct innocent civilians?’

Victoria produced a touchscreen tablet from the nearest seat pocket. Lazily she waved it on. ‘You have an aunt and uncle who live in the area,’ she stated. ‘Can you stay with them?’

‘Why would I need to stay with them?’ Gwenhwyfar eyed her with mistrust. ‘I thought we were going to sort this out.’

‘This won’t be resolved overnight,’ Victoria said. ‘You’re a minor, so you’ll need to stay with a suitable guardian. I expect your parents have a living will detailing who should be your carer in the event of their incapacity.’

‘Why don’t you just lock me up?’ Gwenhwyfar bit. She felt light-headed and her carsickness was getting worse. She took another sip of water. ‘Isn’t that what you do? Abduct people and throw them in a cell?’

‘You must know what we are.’ Victoria was observing her with amusement in her cold eyes. The corner of her mouth curled with a smile. ‘The New Moral Army is an anti-extremism cell, Gwen. What do you think that means?’

She didn’t know, couldn’t fathom it; was trying to ignore the unsettling sensation that ballooned within her and pushed her to lethargy. ‘I don’t feel so good.’

Victoria’s smile widened. ‘It’ll be all right.’

‘No, something… something’s wrong.’ She looked down to the water bottle in her lap, and then at Victoria’s, comprehending. She fumbled to open the car door but the lock was unresponsive. Tears sprang to her eyes. ‘What have you done?’

She was hushed. ‘Rest, Gwen. It’s a long drive, and you need your sleep.’

Victoria touched her hair and caressed her lolling head. Ink blotches picked away her vision, obscuring the water bottle that lay in her lap until darkness rolled across her eyes. All sound was indecipherable to her, and then there came night without time, without beginning.


* * *


Gwenhwyfar felt something cold pressed against her cheek. The angle of the wall seemed familiar in the low light, and for a moment she thought she was back in Swansea in her old bedroom. She half recalled a dream: light burning into the back of her corneas, questions, someone else giving answers through her own lips. As her senses returned she realised she was flopped over in a hard chair, leaning against a metal table. Her face ached as she struggled to sit upright, and she looked around.

The room was windowless, the smooth concrete floor punctured by a single drain. The beady red eye of a camera gazed at her from the lofty ceiling. To her left was a large mirror and a closed door with a dim bulb fixed overhead. She found her feet carefully, holding onto the table as the walls turned around her. The door flung open and the room was flooded with light.

‘You’re awake!’ a man barked. Slamming the door behind him he strode into the room. ‘I was just about to rouse you. How are you feeling?’ He offered her a crinkling smile that made the whiskers of his beard bloom. ‘I’m Richard. Richard Morris. I’m here to talk to you about your parents. Won’t you sit?’ He slapped the paper file he was holding onto the table between them. ‘I imagine you’re in shock. We had to chase your father into the garden. Did you know he had a plane booked to Mexico? From there he intended to go on to South America—to start again, I imagine. He was trying to flee with his own passport. Though, I don’t know, perhaps he was headed somewhere else. Perhaps South America was just a ruse. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.’

‘Where is he?’ Gwenhwyfar sat down as Richard did. The metal chair was still warm.

‘I can’t tell you that. Why do you think the New Moral Army arrested your father? Where he is now, is a matter of national security.’ He cupped his hands together and leant towards her. ‘Do you know where you are, Gwen? Do you know what you’re doing here?’

She watched him closely. His brown eyes were fixed on hers, his crow’s feet wrinkled with curiosity. Despite his amiable expression, Gwenhwyfar felt as if she was pinned in the gaze of a dangerous predator. Her heart pounded in her chest. Fight or flight. With nowhere to run, she had only one option. She drew a preparatory breath.


To be continued in The Future King: Logres, Book Two. Preorder it now from Amazon US or Amazon UK. Out May 5 2020.


The gripping second book in The Future King series. King Arthur meets high-school drama in this near-future dystopian depiction of the Arthurian legends.

The ruling party, New National, is expanding its power. Their new anti-extremism cell, The New Moral Army, threatens all who stand in opposition to the regime. Under the guidance of Marvin, self-proclaimed Merlin, afterschool club The Round Table is about to fight back. The year is 2053, and Britain begins to darken.

Teenager Gwenhwyfar must discover why The New Moral Army has taken her parents and what she can do to save them. Meanwhile, rival Morgan struggles to find her place among her peers. With Bedivere’s life hanging in the balance, a conflicted Arthur does what he can to keep the The Round Table alive.

Knowing that her only chance to save her parents is to discover more about the terrorist cell Free Countries, Gwenhwyfar searches for their leader. She must also navigate new dynamics: her wish for Arthur and Lancelot to make amends may soon one she regrets. With the New Nationals infringing on rights and a general election fast approaching, this is the thrilling second book to volume one of The Future King series.


A self-publisher trying out self-promotion.

So it’s going well! This whole “promote your own book” thing. After realising that as an unknown I was going to have to do some serious book promotion once my Kindle was out (that list I made is now redundant, with Dreamweaver everything became so clear), it was apparent that some sort of deal had to be offered – and when you’re doing a deal to get your book distributed as widely as possible, why bother with Amazon’s 0.99 cent approach? May as well go all the way, and offer it for the maximum amount of time at the maximum discount, five days, absolutely free.

With a reasonable amount of downloads amassing, I have entered the Amazon Best Seller Kindle charts. The most notable being in the Best Sellers list in Arthurian Fantasy – no.6 out of 100, evidence of which can be seen below!

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This is of course terribly exciting, and now I am waiting with baited breath to see if my debut novel will crawl any higher. The Future King: Logres is also in the top 100 Free Contemporary Best Seller chart, but is still a long way off being in the overall top 100 best selling (free) list on Amazon. My main excitement however comes from knowing that my book is now available to many people and will soon be read by them, which hopefully means that a few more reviews start to surface. Hopefully this will help other readers find the first instalment in The Future King series!

In the meantime if you haven’t yet taken advantage of this free deal, do so here: Amazon UKAmazon US & Amazon FR. This offer is available worldwide!

Happy reading, and Happy New Year!

The Future King: Logres – book cover release!

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The Future King: Logres is due to be released in October of this year. Keep checking back for teasers and confirmation of a release date.

So today I am finally ready to post up the above design. This is my novel, this is my my book cover: this is what it looks like. It’s simple, it’s clean, and it’s a great start to the look and feel of the rest of the series.

The name of the series, The Future King, is born from the promise of King Arthur’s messianic return to save the country despite his downfall at the end of the original legends. Logres is the scene in which this second coming is set: the secondary school at which fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar Taliesin starts after moving from Swansea with her affluent parents. It is 2052, and the gap between rich and poor has never been wider. Immigrants are persecuted and dubbed ‘illegals’ while day-to-day life is becoming increasingly monitored: just another year under George Milton and his ruling party, New National.

Things are going well for the release of The Future King: Logres – the book has been fully formatted and I am just perfecting my final draft. It will then be sent off to my proof-readers (very kind friends and family who don’t mind checking for errors). I’m greatly looking forward to seeing Logres printed and in final book format – my full book design is waiting patiently in photoshop as a psd file for my confirmed spine width. Then I just need to write a blurb.

Feel free to let me know what you think of the chosen design if you’d like to leave a comment. It’s back to editing, here, but keep checking back for more news, updates and teasers in the weeks to come!

The Knights of the Round Table

“His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
Sang Sir Lancelot.”

– The Lady of Shalott (1832) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Arthur. Merlin. Camelot. The legends of King Arthur and his knights are known in some form or another to the majority of the population, and have repeatedly been reinvented in television, film, and the written word. Personally I cannot pin-point my first encounter the legends, but assume it must have been through an older text, because when I first saw Jerry Zucker’s First Knight (1995), I thought they had misspelt Sir Lancelot (as far as I was concerned at the time, it should have been Sir Launcelot). It wasn’t until college that I delved deeper into the legends, after reencountering them through my studies of the Pre-Raphaelites (in particular John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott (1888)). First I read Tennyson’s accompanying poem (quoted above), and then I purchased Le Morte d’Arthur from my local Waterstones. After hunting the same store for King Arthur related books, I soon discovered my all-time favourites: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles, and T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. Each author’s interpretation of the legends is, of course, birthed from the same origins. But each is fundamentally and absolutely different.

What is it about the legends of King Arthur that is so expansive? You could tell a hundred authors or more to retell the legends in their own words, and no two versions would be remotely the same (unless of course they were talking, and intending to be the same). Of course, a writer’s different styles and preferences would affect any such project. But in the case of King Arthur, I think the legend’s richness is compound in the inevitable differences. There are dozens of stories within the framework offered, and hundreds of subplots countable from that. It is just so complex. Who do you focus on? Which stories do you tell? The list of the Knights of the Round Table at its most expansive runs to more than 150. The love stories are ever-changing and entwined. The quests are endless – the Holy Grail, the Questing Beast – authors need only take their pick.

My interpretation of the legends of King Arthur evolved from my own experiences and interests in life, metamorphosing into a hybrid of contemporary concerns and the raw essences of the myths. This modern reflection of the myths is set to span the arc of Arthur’s rise to power in a futuristic depiction of Britain. Book one has been written, and I have read Createspace’s lengthy user agreement and deemed it satisfactory. I am looking into the particulars of self-publishing, such as how to format a book and how to design your own cover. I can’t afford a graphic designer or a proof-reader or editor, so I (like many others) will be taking a risk and doing all of the work myself.

Perhaps it is a good sign that after all these years I am still not bored by my idea. I still believe in the concept, I still love the characters. I can re-read the first and last fifty pages again and again, and still find them interesting. Many stories of King Arthur hint at Arthur and Merlin retiring for the long sleep – destined to reawaken when Britain needs them most. I think this perhaps is one of the most attractive concepts in the legends – the promise of hope in the dark days to come.

The long haul.

When I first started my novel back in 2011, the first draft took me a total of six weeks. I had an idea I’d been chewing over since 2007 with one short attempt to turn it into something physical, but then, at the end of my university semester and with a long summer ahead of me, I dove in head-first and just wrote it.

How long is too long when working over an idea? Us artists are creatures of detail, and such proficiency bestows upon us great patience. Sometimes we get drawn into an idea too much, and find ourselves unwilling (or unable) to comprehend an end. Does such a predicament matter, however, when one is so engaged by an idea that it feels as if every day spent working on it is entirely new? Often it passes without notice; the minutes become hours, the hours whole days. You work, and you forget to eat, drink or sleep. You’re so enthralled by what you are doing that the pang of hunger or stiffness brought about by an uncomfortable chair can do nothing to hinder you.

I have done several drafts of my book up to date, and naturally each revision was packaged with the exclamation, ‘Eureka! This is it!’ and sent off to the most promising literary agents. Of course with each submission came a rejection, and I would soon succumb to the age-old problem of returning to your own work with eyes changed by time. It happened when I painstakingly drew Christopher Columbus’ ship when I was four. Then, it was a masterpiece! Now, not so much.

A novel, unlike a sketch or drawing however can be edited, and so I embarked on making it perfect. Each time shorter or longer, and every time (I would like to think) better, stronger. My very fast draft in 2011 was written with the estimate I would then spend about six months editing. Then it would be ready to publish. Of course.

Four years later I am on my… fourth? real, complete restructure and rewrite. I’ve read the blogs, I’ve seen the news. I know that most people’s first projects get shelved until they are rich or famous enough through other works to get them published retrospectively. Does it change things if I say that this isn’t my first attempt at a novel? My first idea has been shelved without much input, perhaps for another day.

I think, however, we all have some idea of what works and what doesn’t. We all read and we all have things which we can compare our own work to. My latest draft, I have decided, is going to be my last. I will make sure I am happy with it, and then I will move on. These days debut authors’ options are expanded by the possibility of self-publishing. Now our first novels can be released into the market as they are, as we intended.

This project is a series, or it will be when I’m done with it. After researching the available avenues self-publishing is becoming a real consideration. I have had interest for my idea from two reputable agents, including full manuscript requests and even one revise and resubmit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for them. But I now have a better book as a result, and am less anxious about getting it out there without the traditional route and safety net of an editor or publisher.

I have half my novel left to edit, and then it’s back to proof-reading. Then I think I’ll take the plunge. I’ll let my first novel be one of the ones self-published as it is, and as I intended.