Today is International Asexuality Day, which seems like an appropriate excuse to give a few pieces of news and updates. (Because I am ace and so is the protagonist of The Butterfly Assassin, in case that wasn’t abundantly clear from context.)
A Matter of Art and Death
I’ve been hard at work on a short story called A Matter of Art and Death (named for a quote from The Butterfly Assassin). It’s set about three years before TBA, and it dives into Emma Westray’s backstory. In particular, it looks at how she got to know Grace Whittock. I did a couple of polls on social media a few months back to see which characters would be most popular for a prequel story, and Emma and Grace won (Emma won on one platform, Grace on another), so this story is the result! I even gave it a cover:
The only way to get your hands on this story is to pre-order The Hummingbird Killer and fill in the Google form linked on the Books page. If you pre-order but don’t fill in the form, you will not get the story, because I will not know that you exist. Please fill in the form. And please pre-order the book. Pre-orders are super important when it comes to helping books launch successfully into the world and drumming up attention from bookshops and other readers, so it truly does make a difference.
By filling in the form, you can also be entered into a draw to win a unique, one-of-a-kind annotated copy of TBA, featuring my marginal commentary about where certain details came from, which lines survived half a dozen redrafts, what songs I associate with particular chapters, and more. This giveaway is optional, so if you think you’ve already got enough copies of TBA and don’t want another one, you don’t have to enter that to get the story above — but frankly, is there any such thing as too many copies of my book?
If your preferred method of pre-ordering is to walk into a physical shop and ask them to pre-order it for you and thus you don’t have a receipt, that’s totally fine. Either wait until publication day and upload your proof of purchase then (I’ll leave the form open until 12th May), or take a picture of the shop you pre-ordered from and I’ll trust you on the details.
And yes, leaving the form open until 12th means that if you buy the book on the first day, you can also grab the short story, even though it’s not technically a pre-order. First day sales are also super important. But a pre-order will put less pressure on you and make me happy, so maybe consider it? :)
Speaking of pre-orders…
Book Depository is closing
Book Depository has announced that they’re shutting down, and will stop taking orders on 26th April. Although they’ll be continuing to dispatch items after this, it’s unclear how this affects pre-orders for books that aren’t out by 26th April; their website implies that some pre-orders may be refunded.
As such, I don’t know if pre-orders of The Hummingbird Killer placed through Book Depository will dispatch. Please consider ordering from somewhere else. Blackwells offers international shipping, as do some independent shops. I will try to keep the links on the Books page as up-to-date as I can. If you’re trying to buy The Butterfly Assassin from overseas, Housmans offers international shipping and is a non-profit radical bookshop; I believe they still have signed copies available. After 12th May, they should also have signed copies of The Hummingbird Killer (because I am going to go there and sign some).
If you pre-ordered via Book Depository, filled in the Google form, then subsequently cancelled that pre-order and placed one somewhere else… you don’t need to re-submit the form, it’ll just confuse things. I’ll trust you.
I’m going to be in Yorkshire next week doing some research for a couple of different novels. I’ll be signing books in Waterstones in York and in Leeds, and I’ll also be heading up to The Little Bookshop in Leeds to sign a few bits there as well. These are not, like, live signings / events, just me defacing books for future sales, but if you live in the area and would like me to sign your books, drop me a message (on social media or via the email address on my Contact page), and we can coordinate. Again, I am trusting you not to be weird about this. You’re all lovely and I’m sure you wouldn’t be, but I just feel the need to say it.
Also, if you are from York or Leeds and you have recommendations for your favourite piece of street art in the area, please drop it in the comments below, so that I can go and check it out.
Finally, an academic update, which is that my long-awaited article, ‘What Manner of Man is this Hound?’: Gender, Humanity and the Transgressive Figure of Cú Chulainn, has now been published. This article looks at the character of Cú Chulainn in Táin Bó Cúailnge and how he is presented as a boundary-crossing figure; it uses gender theory and monster theory to explore how those disruptions of category are essential to constructing Cú Chulainn’s heroic identity. This includes exploring a transmasculine reading of Cú Chulainn, and also asking whether we should consider him to be a dragon. It’s available to read for free right here.
I think that’s all my updates for now, so I’m gonna go right back to yelling at my draft of TBA 3 in the hope that it’ll magically fix all its own plot problems.