Tag Archives: e-books

Review: A Study in Velvet and Leather by K. Caine

The second volume in Improbable Press’s 221b Series (the first was my own A Dream to Build A Kiss On) is the splended A Study in Velvet and Leather, due for release on 1 December 2018. An advance review copy was coaxed into my greedy little fingers, though, and promptly gobbled up.

K. Caine may have written a female Sherlock and male John in a canon-era setting, but  her tale departs wonderfully far from a traditional telling of thie enduring pair.

John Watson, invalided war doctor, is gay. It’s a surprise to find Stamford’s flat-hunting friend is a woman, but she’s an unusual one. Sherlock is a consulting detective, dressing most often in men’s attire and (we later learn) a reader of Sappho. They move into Baker Street together.

John narrates their life together: his increasing involvement in Sherlock’s cases and John recovers his health, along with his fascination for Sherlock’s methods and curiosity about so much that remains secret and unsaid about Sherlock’s life. John also records his bemused yet growing devotion to his astonishing flatmate, recording but not always understanding Sherlock’s response to him.

But as John develops his surprised and secret feelings for this remarkable woman, an undercurrent from Sherlock’s unspoken private life breaks the surface. The case involves “the well known adventuress” Irene Adler, a compromising photograph, and a private club. The meaning of velvet, leather and many of Sherlock’s mysteries will come to light.

One of the many glories of this book – which include engaging characters, the gorgeous flow of the writing and an exploration of the fluidity than can exist in gender and sexuality – is how seamlessly K. Caine uses the 221b ficlet format to tell a single story.

The 16 chapters of the book are subtly separated into 221-word sections, the last word of each section beginning with ‘b’.  This meets the rules of a 221b ficlet, yet is so smoothly done that the reader may not notice it, as the story’s rhythm moves so gracefully.

A Study in Velvet and Leather is one of those delicious books where you can’t decide whether to gulp it down in one go, or sip it slowly to make it last.

I’ve never been a sipper, though – and I was so involved in Sherlock and John’s adventures and feelings, so invested in them too – that I gulped that story down in a few hours one Saturday. The conclusion was both fantastically satisfying and left me yearning for more of these incarnations of Holmes and Watson.

A fabulous bonus to the whole story is the series of Appendices, in the form of notes between the two. I seriuosly can’t get enough of this fluid John and Sherlock. Additionally, the artwork by Avid Branks is sparing and elegant, and contains little clues of its own .

Which makes it doubly awesome that K. Caine is now writing another Improbable Press book with them, Conductivity.

I can’t wait.

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Pre-Order: Grant me the Carving of My Name – A Collection of short stories inspired by Richard III

I am so excited to announce that pre-orders are now available for the ebook of Grant Me the Carving of My Name – a book of short stories inspired by Richard III.

The book contains two stories by me – ‘Long Live the King’, a flash fiction about a possible alternative history, and ‘Myth and Man’, where Shakespeare’s Richard meets history’s Richard, at the moment of their making and undoing.

A paperback is also coming – I’ll update with those details as they become available.

Pre-order Grant Me the Carving of My Name

Press Release

An international group of authors who have all been inspired by England’s last Plantagenet King, Richard III, are working together to raise funds in support of Scoliosis Association UK through sales of a collection of their work.

Grant Me the Carving of My Name is an anthology of 15 short stories by a dozen authors from the UK, Ireland, the USA and Australia. It takes its title (with her permission) from a poem by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy which was read by Benedict Cumberbatch at the king’s reburial in Leicester in 2015.

The collection also features a Foreword by acclaimed historical novelist Philippa Gregory, author of The White Queen, which was dramatized by the BBC in 2013 and featured a rare positive portrayal of King Richard, by Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk, War and Peace).

The book

As Philippa Gregory states in her Foreword, ‘This collection has come about – as so many good things do – from a dream and a joke’ – when editor Alex Marchant and Wendy Johnson, a key member of the Looking for Richard Project responsible for rediscovering the king’s grave, joked about getting together to publish short stories they had written about this most controversial king. The enthusiasm of the other authors approached to contribute led to the dream becoming a reality.

The collected stories offer an alternative view of this often-maligned king and range from glimpses of his childhood and domestic life, through battles and rebellions, to explorations of the afterlife and his historical reputation. By turns elegiac, mystical, brutal, light-hearted, uplifting, there’s something for everyone within these pages.

The charity

King Richard himself suffered from scoliosis – a lateral curvature of the spine that would have become increasingly disabling and painful as he aged, and was only revealed during examination of his skeleton after his grave was excavated in 2012. Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK) supports children and adults with the same condition throughout the UK today and was the obvious charity to support with proceeds from this book.

The contributors