Category Archives: Improbable Press

Queer Victorian London

In preparation for working on a short story collection set post-The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, I’ve picked up some books to give me insights into late-Victorian queer culture and society’s attitudes towards it.

Victorian attitudes to sex and sexuality (and to a whole bunch of things) is usually deeper and more textured than a cursory glance would indicate. And while it’s true that terms like ‘gay’ and queerness as it’s currently lived and experienced were not how Victorians understood them, that doesn’t negate the fact people who would probably now identify on that spectrum were managing their lives, one way or another.

Which all brings me to this reading matter, designed to help me understand more about how queerness was experienced and lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so that I can translate those experiences for Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in a world where they have declared their love and physical desire for each other.

I tend to read books on these topics with a block of sticky notes at hand, so I can mark ideas I want to get back to.

The book pictured in the header, Catharine Arnold’s City of Sin: London and its Vices, is already festooned with notes for me to return to when I do the next round of research, which will be to go over marked passages and decide what to use and how.

One note in City of Sin refers to the pornography people could obtain in Holywell Street, including homosexual and lesbian representations. William Dugdale is noted as a “prolific publisher of filthy books” and further on, Arnold refers to the practice of pornographers having to smuggle their books into the UK, risking fines and imprisonment.

I have made a note that the unexpurgated copy of Richard Burton’s The Arabian Nights is very probably in John Watson’s private book collection. He’s an earthy man, after all, with a penchant for gambling and whisky. Why not a little saucy literature?

Further on I’ve marked the pages about the ‘telegraph boys’ who made extra money by having sex with men. The role of the Turkish baths (which Holmes and Watson frequent in canon) in homosexual liaisons is discussed 25 pages on from that.

I expect to read more queer-specific details of London life in the three other books pictured above, and will doubtless leave those pages bristling like a paper-based porcupine in due course.

I’ve already started with Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb, and even the introduction has provided some valuable insights.

How will these snippets and suggestions be used? Will they become significant plot points or background detail?

At this point, who knows? But by filling up my brain with some of that colour, texture and depth, I hope to introduce just enough research to make the stories feel authentic and engaging without presenting them as a series of lectures of What I Learned About Queer Victorians This Summer.

NB: A version of this post originally appeared in my Patreon on 2 February 2018.

2017: My Writing Year in Review

When 2016 came to a close, I was very happy with my writing year. A new novel, a new one-shot erotic spy adventure, several short stories and a poem all published! Who knew 2017 would get better?

The biggest writing news of 2017 for me was winning the ‘Body in the Library’ category of the Scarlet Stiletto Awards with my ghost/crime story, ‘Jane’.

I’ve been nominated and shortlisted for recognition before, and it really is wonderful to have my work highlighted alongside brilliant writers. But I have to say, winning an award is also pretty damned lovely.

The success of ‘Jane’ is cherry on a wordcake this year. My eighth novel, Ravenfall, was released in September – it’s currently in paperback, but the ebook is being prepared and will be out soon.

I also wrote more lesbian romance this year, with the one-shot romance set in Melbourne, Near Miss.

I didn’t neglect horror either, with ‘Passive Aggressive’ appearing in Myths, Monsters, Mutations in December – just in time for me to enter it into the Aurealis Awards (along with ‘Jane’ and Ravenfall.)

My epic-best-friends Sherlock Holmes short stories have also come both halves of the year, with ‘The Adventure of the Temperamental Terrier’ in MX Publishing’s sixth volume of Sherlock Holmes stories in May, and ‘The Mystery of the Miner’s Wife’ appearing in the already widely acclaimed Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook, an anthology of stories set in Australia in 1890.

Coming in 2018

I’m not done with 2017 yet, and already I have projects underway for the new year!

Beginning with the confirmed publications, in April 2018, ‘The Problem of the Three Journals‘ is in the Table of Contents for the fabulours Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot anthology. It’s the second in a series full of alternative universe stories. In mine, Holmes and Watson are a pair of Melbourne hipster cafe owners, serving superb coffee and solving crime!

You can pre-order Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot at

A release date hasn’t yet been set for Jay Henge’s Wavelengths anthology, but it will contain my foray into SF, ‘Earworm Armageddon’.

The rights for The Opposite of Life are mine again, and I’m negotiating with Clan Destine Press to re-release it as an ebook, as they already publish its sequel, Walking Shadows. I’ll also be working on a third book in the series, though I have other commitments in the first half of the year so it may not be seen until 2019 or later.

I have Holmes♥Watson works underway for Improbable Press, short stories in a modern setting. I have a fantasy-romance to be expanded and resubmited to an interested publisher, and a few other story irons in fires that may come to fruition during the year.


My biggest project for 2018 is the launch of my Patreon to re-release and then right more of the novellas that formed my first book, Fly By Night.

I”m in the process of having a new cover created for the first novella, Fly By Night – as soon as that’s done, I’ll be making it free to all my Patreon supporters. I’m also re-editing the second, Sacrifice, which will be released first there too. After that, I’ll be writing three more novellas in what is now called the Duo Ex Machina series – named for the two-man band featuring the lead characters, Frank and Milo.

You can find a bit more about the original stories on my site here, or go to Patreon. Depending on the supporter level, Patreons will receive story chapters, sneak peeks at works in progress or soon to be published, writing tutorials, character naming rights and other free books. Visit my Patreon.

Thanks for being with me this year, and I hope you’ll stick with me for the next!