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Cover and Sale

This is it, the road to publishing Born of Hatred has begun. Once I get the edits back from my wonderful editor, we’ll be ready to go.

To celebrate the fact that we’re almost there, I thought I’d do a little sale of Crimes Against Magic. So, from now until the end of the weekend, the Crimes Against Magic is only $3.99 (£2.59). You can go here to get a copy.

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

In the meantime, I’m happy to share the incredible cover to Born of Hatred.

Once again, the cover was done by the wonderfully talented Eamon O’Donoghue. And no, that isn’t Nate on the cover.

I hope you all like it as much as I do, and have a good weekend.

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Sales

On 30th April I launched Crimes Against Magic to the world, with no idea how it would be taken. I didn’t know if it would sell, get good reviews or vanish quietly into the realms of Indie-publishing, never to be spoken of again.

Turns out it did okay. So after having April to September’s complete sales figures, I thought I’d share them with you all. 6 months of sales figures (if not 6 months in actual complete months) is a pretty good selection of data.

Now, I’m not showing this to everyone to show off, I’m fully aware that I’m nowhere near the upper echelon of sales, but maybe someone will read this and they’ll see that if I can do it, then they’ll have some hope that they can too.

So, to do this I’m going to break the figures down into three categories.  We’ll do UK sales first, then EU and we’ll save the American sales until last because that’s where most of my sales have come from.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the figure for sales in the US is astronomically larger than the UK or EU. And I haven’t changed the price (except for 1 week at the end of Sept), so nearly every one of these sales is based on the $4.99 (£3.11) price tag.

So, there’s probably a few questions that you might have from this.

 

Where did these sales come from?

Well, I blogged like a crazy person in May and June, doing spotlights, interviews and anything else I could to get the book out there, so that probably helped. And I’ve gotten some incredible reviews. But the thing that I believe helped the most is the cover. Everyone who has seen the book has told me how good the cover is, and I believe that my sales are certainly helped by having a good cover.

Does this mean I have agents asking for my hand in partnership?

Ummm… no. Not even slightly. In fact, I haven’t heard from any agents, at all. Not that I was expecting to.

 

Where does Crimes Against Magic sit now?

 As of writing (10am UK time), it sits about the 47,000k mark in the UK Kindle store.

 

In the US, it sits here:

 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,474 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

 

Despite the fact that sales have really dropped off, it’s still pretty damn good. Especially for a first-time, unknown writer.

And to answer a question that I’ve been asked a lot recently.

 

Where are you with Born of Hatred?

Editing. I’m about half way through the editing process and hope to have that done within a week. Then a few people need to read it and we’ll go from there. Basically, it won’t be too long.

 

 

And that’s it for another week. I hope someone found the figures I’ve posted interesting or helpful. Have a good weekend.

I’m Back. And a Chance to Win.

It’s been a long time since I last wrote my own blog posts. So, it’s been a little difficult to figure out what I’m actually going to talk about. Instead of imparting whatever pearls of wisdom I happen to think of, I thought I’d just talk about what I’ve done in those last 5 weeks.

First of all, thanks to every single person who gave their time to be interviewed or write blog posts for me. I have a few more coming up in the next few week, and if anyone wants to take part in an interview or guest blog post on my blog then you’re more than welcome to contact me. And bribes work great. Just saying.

So, what have I been doing for the last 5 weeks? Mostly I’ve been taking care of my new baby daughter, Harley. She was born on 16th Aug and the time since has flown by. Her two older sisters, Keira and Faith, have both been very good with her, although that interest vanishes the second she needs a nappy change.

My beautiful daughter. She has quite the set of lungs on her.

So, my family has taken up the majority of my time. My 7th wedding anniversary was a few days ago, for which my lovely wife got me The Avengers on Blu-Ray and an impressive canvass with some old comic book art on it. She came to terms with being married to a geek a long time ago. Although I think my comic book collection is starting to take up a little more space than she’s always happy with.

My eldest daughter, Keira also started Junior School (I don’t know what the equivalent is elsewhere), which depresses me greatly as the past years appear to have flown by. It’s her birthday tomorrow, so she’ll be 8 going on 16 (at least in terms of attitude).

I saw Dredd the other day and it’s excellent. They’ve captured the character very well, along with the brutal world he lives in. It’s a very violent film and certainly doesn’t shy away from some very graphic scenes. It’s definitely not one you want your kids to watch. Unless you like the idea of screwing them up for a few weeks.

The film also has a great poster. Which is somewhat of a lost art these days.

The one thing I will say a night feed allows me to do is catch up on my TV watching. I finished the first series of Newsroom, which is excellent and caught up with the latest seasons of Castle  (about bloody time with that ending) and Leverage. I also finally got round to making my way through Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Soul Eater. I’d seen about half of them, but am now near the end for both shows and they’re equally good to watch, although Soul Eater is more than a little weird and offbeat in places.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is probably one of the best Anime TV shows ever made.

See the girl with the Witch outfit on? She’s actually a cat and likes to walk around naked. And that’s not the oddest thing that happens in the show.

And on to the writing side of things. Crimes Against Magic is currently doing quite well, although sales have dropped from July. I’ll do a full post about the sales side of things in a few weeks. Hopefully someone out there might find it interesting. Amazon.com has 36 reviews, 33 of which are 4 or 5 stars. Amazon.co.uk has 17 reviews, 16 of which are 4 or 5 stars. It’s an incredible reception and I’m glad so many people have enjoyed the book.

Speaking of books, Born of Hatred is back from my wonderful crit partners, Michelle Muto and D.B. Reynolds and they both liked it. In fact they both said it’s much better than Crimes Against Magic, with better writing and a tighter story. Which is just about the best news I could have received.

I’m currently making lots of edits and then it’ll go to some other wonderful people to have a read. I’m aiming for a Halloween launch, but best laid plans and all that. Which means that if I can’t manage Halloween, it’ll be launched sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving (not that we celebrate it over here), but at least that gives you an idea of the timeframe.

My talented friend, Eamon, is currently getting the cover to Born of Hatred ready, which I’ll show as soon as he’s done.

I have tried to get some writing done on book 3, With Silent Screams, but have managed about 5k. Which isn’t great, but I’m hoping that I’ll get more done once my edits to Born of Hatred are finished.

 

Lastly, it’s competition time. 

If you’d like to win a signed copy of Crimes Against Magic, then read on:

There are four things you can do to get an entry:

1. Like my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/Hiddenrealmspublishing

2. Follow my blog (click on the ‘follow’ button on the top right of this page).

3. Tweet about this competition or RT my tweets (if you tweet, you’re going to have to include me so I can keep track – there’s a widget at the bottom of this page with a link to my Twitter account).

4. Share my posts on Facebook (Look for contest posts on my Facebook page).

Every time you do one of the above, your name goes into a hat. Each additional action, means an extra entry. So in theory, if you do all the above and then share and re-tweet every day, you’ll get loads of entries.

In one week’s time, on the 27th September, my daughter will draw one name out of the hat, and I’ll announce the winner on my blog. They then have one week to contact me with their address.

If you already follow me or like my author page and don’t want to take part (maybe you don’t like free stuff) then let me know and I’ll make sure to remove your name from the hat.

So, until next week. Good luck and have a good weekend.

Today I am a Professional Author (and a piece of advice)

On April 29th, I wrote a piece titled ‘Today I am a Published Author‘, it was to signify the day that my first ever book was published.

That was two months ago, and since that day, it’s been a roller-coster ride of highs and lows. If there’s one thing I can say about being an Indie author, it’s never dull. It’s depressing,  heart-breaking and incredible, but never dull.

So, two months after that book went live, I got my first ever payment. My first one. Okay, it was for £22 (about $35), but I don’t care, it was for 1 day’s worth of book sales in the UK and I got paid. So today I move from being an author, to being a professional author. I now get paid for something I love doing (I promise not to go around calling myself a professional author, that’s just being a bit of a tit).

I think I’ll have to buy my first boat on an instalment plan.

That was not the only thing that happened this week that I felt a need to share with you all. If you’re a UK writer and you’re an Indie, you have to get a Tax number from the IRS otherwise Amazon send the lovely fellows over there 30% of your earnings. This is something I learnt a few days ago and immediately set about trying to get hold of the IRS.

My only real problem (apart from being on hold for an hour) was the awful music. You make enough money, get a bit of something interesting on there.

As it turns out it was quite easy. There’s a number to call on the Amazon FAQ’s about tax. You call it, ask for an EIN (if your a company) and there you go. Unfortunately it takes about an hour to get through to them, and about 5 minutes to complete the call. And the number is in the US. Which means your phone bill is going to take a kicking. So, here’s my advice. Get Skype. It cost me about 85p to use it to call them. I can’t believe how much easier it was.

So, yes, this week was a bit of a learning experience. But the fact that I can now state that I get paid to write, is one of those things I’d always dreamt of. Yeah, I’m not making Stephen King money. But right now, right here, all that matters is that people have bought my book and enjoyed it enough to keep it. I won’t go into sales figures (I want a few months of data before I do), but this is where Crimes Against Magic is currently sitting (as of 20:30 on 27/June/12).

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,981 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And you know what, that looks damn good to me. And, touch wood, long may it continue.

This much wood.

Paperbacks and Competitions

As some of you know, I’ve been getting a paperback copy of Crimes Against Magic ready.

I wanted it ready for the end of May, but circumstances outside of my control meant that wasn’t possible. So now I’m ready to announce the date that the paperback of my book will be ready to purchase.

Today. Now. This second.

In fact you can find it here:

Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Crimes-Against-Magic-Hellequin-Chronicles/dp/1477411321/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339665620&sr=1-2&keywords=crimes+against+magic

Amazon.co.uk – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crimes-Against-Magic-Hellequin-Chronicles/dp/1477411321/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339665613&sr=8-2

It’s also available in France/Spain/Germany and Italy, as are the kindle versions for anyone in those countries (although, everything is in English.). I’ll put links for these here.

To celebrate this, quite frankly, excellent event, we’re going to have a competition where one of you, dear readers can win a signed copy of Crimes Against Magic.

So, how do I win? I hear you ask.

 

Well, it’s very simple. There are four things you can do to get an entry:

1. Like my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/Hiddenrealmspublishing

2. Follow my blog (click on the ‘follow’ button on the top right of this page).

3. Tweet about this competition or RT my tweets (if you tweet, you’re going to have to include me so I can keep track – there’s a widget at the bottom of the page with a link to my Twitter account).

4. Share my posts on Facebook (Look for contest posts on my Facebook page).

Every time you do one of the above, your name goes into a hat. Each additional action, means an extra entry. So in theory, if you do all the above and then share and re-tweet every day, you’ll get loads of entries.

In one week’s time, on the 21st June, my daughter will draw one name out of the hat, and I’ll announce the winner on my blog. They then have one week to contact me with their address.

If you already follow me or like my author page and don’t want to take part (maybe you don’t like free stuff) then let me know and I’ll make sure to remove your name from the hat.

And that’s it for this week. Thanks to everyone who supported me and to everyone who has already purchased a copy of the book.

We’re Going to Talk About Fight Club Part 1

Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked a few times about how I get my ideas for the fights that occur in my books. I’ve also seen a few blogs that deal with the subject, leading me to believe that there are a lot of unsuspecting characters that some writers are about to have assaulted in the name of literary endeavour.

People all have their own ways of thinking about new fights or action scenes, but for this post we’ll assume anyone else is wrong and go with how I do it.

Before you write a fight scene there is one thing that you need to be aware of. Real fights suck. I’m sorry to all of you who think that real fights are somehow a cross between Jackie Chan and a UFC fight, but they’re not. They’re normally fought by people who have no idea what they’re doing and they’re normally dull, insanely stupid and not worth bothering with. Normally alcohol is involved. This does not make you a good fighter.

If you really need to see a real fight just go to Youtube and type in ‘Man punches…’, then the noun of your choice and then sit back and wonder how human life has actually managed to not implode with stupidity yet.

From every fight I’ve ever been in or seen, there’s one prevailing truth. They’re over quickly. Either because someone gets a lucky punch, or because after a few punches, the participants are far too tired to continue. I’ve seen two grown men, clearly very angry at one another, start slapping each other like a Three Stooges sketch, because they’re too tired to actually continue fighting.

Every Saturday night in Southampton is another unnecessary pie fight.

There’s one other thing about real fights. In your mind you may have the idea that someone gets a kicking and at some point they bounce back to life and dish out a thrashing to the thug in question. This doesn’t happen. Life is not the end of the Transformers cartoon movie.

You got the the touch, you got the power…

So, when writing fights you’re going to want to make them sound interesting. No one wants to read every fight if it’s “I punched him once, he fell over, I moved on.” You can only really use that once, maybe twice before it gets dull. So, you’ve gotta mix it up a bit. Lee Child is excellent a this, his fights are normally short, sharp yet still exciting. But his main character, Jack Reacher, can hit people once and move on as he’s the size of a small car.

So writing fights in a realistic manner is something I don’t usually do. I usually tweek that realism until it gets to a point I’m happy with, and for that there’s a multitude of places you can go to get inspiration. Asian cinema is fantastic for this, and there are a few american films that have some great fights in. Anime is also a great place to find interesting ways to fight, especially is you’re using non-human characters. But as for telling you what I recommend you watch, well, that will have to wait until next week.

If you’re writing about vampires (not so much the sparkly kind), Blood the Last Vampire is a film you should watch. Not the live action thought. No one should do that.

In the mean time, here’s some links that you should be checking out.

Bea’s Book Nook has a Spotlight on Crimes Against Magic.

Ciara Ballintyne has a great interview with me on her blog.

Both of which are worthy of your time to go and have a read.

This week I plan on getting more of Born of Hatred done, and I have a new story, a Steampunk Fantasy, something I’ve never written before. I”m currently at that exciting point where I’m making notes. I’m quite excited about writing it, and one day I may actually tell people what it’s about. That it’s for now, so until next week, have a good weekend.


Small Time Vengeance

A few weeks ago, I wrote a prequel of sorts to Crimes Against Magic, by the name of Small Time Vengeance. It was a flashfriday piece, my first ever, and since I spoke about it, I’ve been asked by a few people if I plan on posting it on my blog. Well, as I’ve been very busy this week, and haven’t had time to write anything interesting. I figured now was as good a time as any.

So, I present you to you. Small Time Vengeance.

Near Soissons, France 1414.

The only reason the man wasn’t dead was because he hadn’t taken part in the raid. He swung gently from the rope I’d wrapped around his chest and under his arms, before I’d hoisted him off the ground. After gaining the information I’d needed about his friends, a cloth gag ensured he would make no sound, and if he woke up and thought about making problems, the four corpses of his comrades, lying clearly visible below him, would prove I wasn’t someone he wanted pissed off.

The four had died while they slept, their throats cut without a sound by the light of their campfire. They’d deserved no less, but my anger would be saved for the man who truly deserved it, the chief of the bandits I’d decimated.

I sat on the thick branch of the old oak tree, high above the ground, watching the man swing slowly back and forth beneath me.

My patience was rewarded as the moon reached its fullest and the sound of laughter came through the forest. The newcomers called to their friends in the camp, their laughter dying when there was no reply. Weapons were drawn and their leader barked orders, as he realised that there would be no answer from his erstwhile followers.

I stepped off the branch and white glyphs erupted over the backs of my hands and up my arms, as my air magic slowed my descent. When I was just over head height with the bandits, I forced the magic down toward my feet, so that I smashed into the ground with a roar. Leaves and dirt were thrown into the air, causing enough confusion and panic that the two closest bandits died before the leaves had drifted back to the earth. A blade of white-hot fire cut through their throats as I moved past them, out of the clearing and into the darkness of the forest, where the blade vanished from my hand.

Four were left in the circle of their camp, their eyes flickering frantically at the merest hint of movement.

The chief grabbed the nearest minion and pushed him. “Get in their and find him,” he barked.

I used my fire magic to see in the dark, turning my vision into a mixture of reds and oranges without casting any visible light from me.

Two large men crept into the forest, their daggers drawn. I moved behind them and took the first one with a blade of air into the base of his skull, almost decapitating him. He fell forward, alerting his companion who turned toward the noise, only to have a gust of air lift him off his feet and crash him into a nearby tree. The angle of his neck suggested he wouldn’t get back up.

“What are you fucking idiots doing in there?” the chief shouted from the tree line, his voice full of barely concealed anxiety.

I charged out of the forest and caught him in the jaw with a blast of air that threw him onto the ground.

I sprinted to the final bandit and he swiped at me with his sword, but I dodged aside and broke his knee with a swift kick. He screamed in pain and fell back, but I caught him and snapped his neck before he hit the ground.

The chief had gotten back to his feet and drawn a dagger, waving it in my direction. A gust of hardened air removed the danger and a second shattered his arm. He howled in pain and I punched him in the stomach, doubling him up, and then pushed him onto the ground.

“Who are you?” The chief’s voice was raspy with pain.

The noise had woken the hanging man, and he watched wide-eyed as I picked up the dagger and crouched beside his boss.

“You terrorised that village. You went there time and time again to steal and have your fun. And when a boy of twelve stood up to you, you murdered him in front of his parents and maimed the man who tried to stop you.”

I smiled down at the chief as fear oozed out of him. “You did everything in your power to break them. But you know what? When I arrived there two days ago, the first thing they did was offer me hospitality.

“They warned me of you and your bandits. They made sure I was going the other way. They wanted to keep me safe from you. Even though you tortured those people, you couldn’t break them.”

“So?” he groaned as I placed the tip of the dagger against his stomach, drawing blood.

“So, clearly you’re very bad at your job. And someone that terrible needs to be shown how to do it properly. So allow me to educate you on the fine art of breaking someone.”

The chief’s screams and pleas lasted only a short time. I gained no enjoyment from what I did, but it needed doing.

The surviving bandit begged me to spare him as I cut him down and removed his gag.

I nodded. “But you’re going to do something for me in return for your life.”

“Anything,” he said immediately.

“You’re going to gather up every last coin and item of worth from your fellow bandits here, and you’re going to take it back to the village you stole it from. You will do this tonight. You will beg for forgiveness. And if you fail to do any of these things, I will find you.” I dragged him over to the body of his chief.

“And I will make what I did to him appear as a tap on the wrist, are we clear?”

The man nodded repeatedly.

“One more question,” I said. “Have you heard about Soissons?”

“You don’t want to go there. The French army murdered everyone. I’ve heard stories of monsters and demons roaming the city.”

“Monsters and demons?” I smiled. “Sounds like my kind of city.”

*****

I hope you enjoyed it.

There are a few links this week, that I suggest you all go and check out.

The first is actually on my blog. An interview with the very talented Colin F. Barnes. My first ever in fact, although not my last by any stretch of the imagination.

Colin also repaid the favour and interviewed me, which was a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, Tom Harris had be take the Badger, which I assure you is not some weird euphemism. It has to be read to be believed.

Debra L. Martin also did an interview with me this week.

The fantastic Keri Lake conducted the last interview of the week with me.

And last, but by no means least, Kendall Grey allowed me to steal her blog for the day to talk about the day before I published my book. Something I hope you find both fun and interesting.

As for Crimes Against Magic, well it’s doing okay. A sixth, 5 star review was superb, and i’ve had a few people e-mailing me to tell me how much they loved it. Thanks to all of you who took the time.

That’s it for this week.

And as he proved so popular last time, I’ll leave you with one image.

All Glory to the Hypnotoad.

One Hell of a Week

Well, here we are. On Monday I published my first novel, Crimes Against Magic, and to be honest, it’s done better than I could have ever imagined. Including getting two 5 star reviews on Amazon.co.uk and entering the top 100 for fantasy in both the US and UK on monday.

Thanks to everyone who purchased a copy, and if you haven’t yet, you can go to amazon.co.uk (link) or Amazon.com (link) to get one. It’s okay, everyone else will wait until you’ve come back.

I’ve spent the last week being incredibly busy and taking over several blogs:

My first stop was for the quite frankly awesome, T.James, in an interview described by one reader as the best they’d ever read. Here

My wonderful crit partner,  Michelle Muto also did an interview with me. Here

The talented J.A Belfield did my third interview this week. Here

D.B. Reynolds has been singing my books praises for a few weeks now. And seeing how she’s also my crit partner and one of the best writers I know, I think it’s only fair that you go over there and read about it. Here

The wondrous, JDwaye has done a superb interview with me. Here

My last interview of the week was done by the incredible Krista Walsh. Here

The prequel to Crimes Against Magic, Small Time Vengeance, is hosted by the delightful, Danielle La Paglia on her flashfriday post. Here

My good friend and fantastic writer, Ken (Bulletwisdom), has been very kind and plugged my book for me. Here

And lastly the great author, L.E. White will be hosting a post of mine tonight. Stop by and give it a read. Here

Before I forget, I’ve been asked a lot this week about the possibility of a paperback copy of Crimes Against Magic. My answer is watch this space. I originally wasn’t going to bother, but as the idea seems very popular I’m going to look into it. A word of warning through, it will be much more expensive than the ebook version. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that.

So that’s it for this week. Please take the time to look through the posts above, each of them have helped me a lot this week and their posts are all excellent.

And in the mean time, as far as Crimes Against Magic is concerned.

Buy it, buy it, buy it.

All Glory to the Hypnotoad.

Killing You – Because You’re an Ass

During your life you’re bound to have people who don’t like you or annoy you. Even I have people I don’t get on with, as hard as that is to believe. And for most people they have to either put up with it and pretend they don’t make you want to claw your own ears off, or you punch them in the face repeatedly until they stop. Neither of those things are all that productive long term.

Writers have another method. A better method. We kill them.

Now, I’m not suggesting that there are legions of writers roaming the streets, murdering those who have annoyed them, like some sort of real life Sinister Six.

Besides, everyone would argue over who doesn't have to be the Vulture. Because he's awful. Really, really awful. The power to fly and be really old. Clearly you should fear him.

Writers have a much more subtle, and legal, way of dealing with those annoying people we have to put up with. We write them into our stories and kill them off with the written word, making their deaths or torturous existence something akin to therapy.

Now, yes, you can’t always use their real name or description, but you can use just enough so that not only do you, the writer, know, but that if that person read it they might… suspect.

Of course you don’t just have to write about people you have to put up with every day, an annoying work colleague or a neighbour who drives you nuts, you can write about the ass who cut you up in traffic, or the rude lady who didn’t say thank you for opening the door for her. It’s basically a way to get some measure of karmic satisfaction for yourself without the need to actually do anything that might end up with you in court pleading insanity.

'Because they were an asshole', is not the most well thought out defence.

So, if you’re a writer, the next time someone pisses you off, just know that you can get your revenge in a totally satisfying way that doesn’t get you into trouble. And if you’re not a writer, just remember this: Next time you piss off someone who is, don’t be too surprised if one day you read a book and there’s someone in it who sounds a lot like you. And they die in a horrible fashion.

Or you could save everyone some time and just not be an ass. But then if you did that, writers would need to invent a whole lot of new cannon fodder. So, in a way, thank you for be assholes. Just try to not do it so often. We can only kill you so many times before it gets dull.

For those of you who aren’t aware my début novel, Crimes Against Magic, launches on Monday. If you haven’t already read the prologue and first two chapters you can go: here, here and here.

I’ll be posting again on Monday to give the links to where the book will be available. So head back here then to get the info on where to pick up a copy. Or you could click on the follow button next to this post, and then you’ll get an e-mail when that happens.

Crimes Against Magic – Chapter 2

Welcome back to the final part of the sample to Crimes Against Magic before its launch on 30th April. If you missed either the Prologue or Chapter 1, you can go here and here respectively.

And now for Chapter 2.

2

That night my dreams were of who I might be.

A decade previous, I’d woken up in an abandoned warehouse with no memory of anyone or anything, including myself. Beside me was a Heckler and Koch USP compact, with a full magazine of silver bullets. Along with the gun, there had been a wooden cane with a sword inside and a piece of paper with the name Nathan Garrett on it, which I discovered was in my handwriting.

I spent the following year trying to figure out who I, or Nathan Garrett, was. When no results became apparent, I decided to use the name as my own. What I did discover was even more baffling. I understood languages that I could never remember learning—French, Spanish, Japanese and more. I also had an appetite for learning about all periods of history and mythology, although I never saw anything that triggered a memory.

My dreams vanished from my grasp and I woke up in my hotel bed, staring at the ceiling as I reflected on the previous night. The first time I’d used my magic I’d blown a window out of the warehouse, the glass embedded itself deep in the nearest tree trunk. I thought I’d gone mad. It took me that first year to find out what I was—a sorcerer.

After that, I met someone who explained the concept of magic to me. Sorcerers are born with an innate ability to tap into magic, which is passed down from parent to child. Magic is raw energy, which gifts us with a multitude of abilities. For starters, magic makes sorcerers near immortal, keeping us alive for hundreds, even thousands of years. It heals and stops, or at least slows, the aging process.

Although I didn’t know who I was, I took comfort in the knowledge that I at least knew, what I was.

The phone beside me rang, waking me out of my trance-like state as I answered the call.

“Nate?”

“Hey, Holly,” I said.

“I wake you? Sorry, I figured you’d be up early.”

“Don’t worry about it, I was already up. What can I do for you?”

“Just thought I’d ring to see how it went.”

I’d met Holly about eight years previously when I helped her with the problem of a possessive, soon after ex, husband. My involvement had been an accident, but it just happened that she was part of a rather well-known family, one with connections throughout the underworld. She suggested an alliance. Her dad, a man I’d done work for in the past, told me she’d do a good job. I trusted him, so I trusted Holly, and we’d done well ever since.

“Fine,” I said. “No problems at all.”

“You sound funny, Nate.”

“Not the best night’s sleep. Had a few crappy dreams.”

“Memories coming back?” she asked. She’d always been a little concerned I’d discover that I used to be a cop. And with her family that wouldn’t be the best outcome. Truth be told, that sort of worried me too.

“No, nothing like that.” I swung my legs out of bed. “So you want to meet up? You’ll need to get paid.” Although the job hadn’t gone through Holly, she had helped with background information on the target and so deserved her share.

“I’m meeting my dad for lunch this afternoon. I’ll give you a call later to let you know where.”

“Sounds good, see you later.” I hung up and went for a shower. Once finished, I got dressed in dark combats and a blue t-shirt, picked up an empty rucksack and decided to go get paid.

*****

After finishing the previous night’s job in Southampton, I’d driven to London and stayed at a pre-booked hotel room, ditching the Audi on a nearby road. As it was only seven in the morning, I had plenty of time before I needed to meet Holly. She lived in London, not too far from St Paul’s Cathedral, giving her amazing views of one of the most beautiful buildings I’d ever seen. Granted, I only remembered ten years back, but it would have probably been pretty high up the list of impressive structures even with full recall.

Holly usually arranged to meet her dad near her place. There were a lot of restaurants and bars close by, and we regularly used them to meet after a job. It’s easy to blend in with all the business workers and lawyers constantly having meetings. My hotel was close to Tottenham Court Road, so it only took five minutes at most to get there on the tube. In fact it took longer to get through the tube stations than to actually use the train.

I took the Northern line to Embankment, crossed to the District Line and took another tube to Whitechapel. Whitechapel is famous for one reason—Jack the Ripper. Mention the place to almost anyone on earth and their first thoughts will be those six murders back in late eighteen eighty-eight. In a sea of death and horror at the time, people remember only those six. It’s probably because he was never caught, but giving publicity to brutal murders and the perpetrator felt… wrong. After a hundred years, the line between murderer and celebrity blurred to the point of nonexistence.

I made my way past the start of the Jack the Ripper tour, where a large group of people were all waiting for their chance to walk in the steps of history. I continued on to an alley about half way down the street. At the end of the alley stood a large, barrel-chested man in a dark suit.

“He know you’re coming?” he asked in a deep voice.

“No, I thought I’d just pop in. It’s been a while since I’ve last had a good girlie chat.”

“Don’t piss about, Nate. You know he gets shitty if I don’t ask.”

“Yes, Jerry, he knows I’m coming.” I glanced at my watch. “Although I’m about two hours early.”

“Ah fucking hell, he doesn’t like that.” Jerry rubbed the dark goatee that was a few inches long, cut to a point to resemble a hairy spear tip. The cogs turned as he thought what might happen if I went in early. “Okay, you can go in, but if he complains I’ll say you threatened me.”

I stared at the almost seven foot tall, three hundred pound frame of the mountain in front of me. If I threatened him I’d better do it from behind a tank. “Say I used mind control on you,” I suggested.

Jerry smiled and moved aside, showing the door he’d been hiding. He pulled back the steel gate with a nasty creak and nodded as I opened the thick wooden door and stepped inside.

On my first trip to Jerry’s boss many years previous, I’d expected the door to lead to a small office or shop. Instead it led to a tiny room with dingy white tiles on all the walls. You could go from one end to the other in about three steps. But Jerry certainly wasn’t trying to stop anyone from gaining entrance to a tiny, dirty hole. His presence was to stop people from using the stairs it contained.

Easily the length of the longest tube station escalators, the stairs started in the tiny room and led down. I followed them as the lights on the stairs flared to life, illuminating the same dingy white tiles lining the walls.

After a few steps the door behind me slammed shut. A rush of air flew over the back of my neck and I sighed.

“You know the whole creepy vibe doesn’t really work well when I’ve been here dozens of times before.” I continued to the bottom of the stairs and out onto an abandoned subway station. It was so old, that no one knew its original name. I’d heard that it wasn’t even on any of the old underground maps. A nice little hidey hole, tucked away for use only by a select few.

At one end of the small station platform was an archway, which led to the portion between where I was and an identical platform on the other side of the station. It contained a makeshift shop with dozens of items all set out on dark wooden shelves and benches. More items hung from metal hooks, welded to a large metallic grate next to an arch identical to the one I’d walked under. A middle aged man sat behind a large metal desk. He was examining a pocket watch through an eyepiece. His other eye was covered with a black patch.

He looked up at me. “You’re early.” He brushed his long grey hair off his shoulders, revealing a deep scar along one cheek.

I glanced at the huge man sitting in the corner, his arms crossed over his gargantuan chest. He nodded at me once and went back to pretending to be invisible.

“Robert will never speak to you, Nathanial,” the middle-aged man said.

“Too well trained,” I said. “And the name is Nate, or Nathan. You know this, Francis.”

The man smiled and gestured towards the silent bodyguard, who opened his mouth to show a stub where his tongue should have been. “You see, someone cut it off a long time ago. He cannot talk.”

For all the times I’d been to see Francis, his bodyguard’s lack of tongue had never come up before. I just thought he was quiet. “I’m sorry,” I said to Robert. His shrug suggested he’d gotten used to it long ago.

“And why do you care what I call you? Do you even know if Nathan is your real name?”

“No matter what I may have been called, I’m now Nate. That’s real enough for me.”

Francis waved away my concerns. “So, Nate, did you bring it?”

A small smile spread across my lips. “Of course I brought it. You hire me and I deliver.”

I removed the satin pouch from my pocket and placed it on the shining counter by Francis. He hungrily spilled the contents onto a velvet cloth.

“I take it that little book is exactly what you wanted.”

Francis carefully turned the leather bound book over and over in his hands, a smile of glee across his lips. “Do you have any idea what this is?”

“It’s a book. I assume an old, expensive one.”

“It’s a very old copy of the Iliad.”

“Someone wanted a copy of Homer’s Iliad? Couldn’t they get one from the library?”

“A client requested that I find her a copy. A very specific copy in fact.”

“Why that copy?”

Francis shrugged, causing his hair to spill over his shoulders. “No idea. But she paid quarter of a million for it. And for that I don’t ask too many questions.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “Oh yeah, getting paid that much money for an old book is perfectly normal.”

The noise from the man in the corner almost sounded like a chuckle. Francis didn’t seem to find the humour in it. “I did check her out, Nathanial,” he said tersely. “But this book is nearly two thousand years old. The amount of money I was paid for this is but a fraction of its true value.”

I knew Francis was exaggerating, but I decided it was best just to take his point and let him live in his moment of happiness. “So do I get paid then?”

Francis carefully inserted the book back into the pouch and placed it on the counter, which he reached under and withdrew a small black bag. “Fifty grand,” he said. “And more importantly, you no longer owe me any favours.”

I had no concerns that he was going to steal it back from me, or that he’d have his men attack me. That wouldn’t be good for business. Contrary to popular belief, there is honour amongst thieves. It just comes in a green paper form.

Francis had been the man to not only tell me about the world I live in, but also explain magic. He explained that a sorcerer’s magic is bound to two different schools. The first is Elemental—water, earth, fire and air. Most users of magic start in this school, the magic I’d used in my target’s bedroom was air, hence the white glyphs which crossed over my arms. Each type of magic corresponds to a different colour glyph—orange for fire, green for earth and blue for water.

Sorcerers start by learning one form of magic in the Elemental school. But over time, anywhere from decades to centuries, they can learn a second. In my case the second element I had control over is fire, meaning I was a lot older than my early thirties appearance suggested. This second form can never be the opposite to one already learnt, so I could never learn earth or water magic, no matter how much I tried.

The second school of magic was called Omega magic. The magic is too powerful to be wielded by a novice. For this reason, any sorcerer wishing to use Omega magic is usually millennia old at least. It consisted of mind, matter, shadow and light. As with the Elemental school, each magic corresponded to a different colour, although I wasn’t powerful enough to use any of the four types.

Over the years, I’d heard rumours of a third school. Blood magic. But I’d never found anyone willing or knowledgeable enough to talk about it at length. The only thing I did learn—it scares the shit out of people.

“The robbery isn’t on the news yet,” he said, bringing me out of the memory of his teachings. “How did it go?”

I stuffed the money in my backpack. “Easily. Footballers have too much money.”

Francis chuckled. “Do you have any other jobs on?”

I shook my head. “I plan on relaxing for a few weeks.”

“When you need more work let me know. I can always find something for you to… acquire for me.”

“Enjoy the book,” I told Francis, who hurried away to make a phone call. I said my good-byes and left the station, opening the main entrance door and nodding to Jerry as I stepped back outside into the daylight.

The cold, crisp air was a bit of a shock to the system after the heated underground, but I soon warmed up once I‘d made my way back to the tube station.

As I descended the steps, deep in thought about the possibility of some time off, an attractive young blonde woman bumped into me, brushing her hand against mine. I was about to apologise when suddenly my world started to spin. I steadied myself against the side of the stairwell as noise rang in my ears. By the time I’d recovered, I’d noticed that the mystery woman hadn’t even paused. She’d continued on her journey up out the mouth of the tube entrance, vanishing into the increasing crowds above. I darted up the stairs after her, but searching produced no results. I rubbed my hand where she’d touched it and wondered what had just happened. I wasn’t poisoned, I was certain of that, and the noise and dizziness had left me as suddenly as it had arrived. Maybe I was tired, or maybe my memories were beginning to come back. Either way I felt normal once again, so I shook my head and continued on my journey.

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