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Lowtown Cover Reveal! Welcome to Haven…

I’m absolutely thrilled to bits to be able to share both the title and the cover for the first book in my brand new LOWTOWN series with Piatkus Books, due out later this year.

Meet Nate and Ember… and welcome to HAVEN:

I do hope you like it! I think Piatkus have done an exceptional job. They’ve captured the essence of the story and characters beautifully in this cover.

I’ll have more information to share about it in the forthcoming days, including the blurb to give you a sense of what the story is about. I’ll also have details about pre-orders.

Until then…

Ever since I announced earlier in the year that I was writing a spin-off series, I’ve received a lot of questions about it. So, I thought it would be useful if I posted a list of FAQs based on the questions I’ve been asked the most. As always, feel free to get in touch if there’s something you’re desperate to know that I haven’t covered.

THE LOWDOWN ON LOWTOWN

IS LOWTOWN A SPIN-OFF TO THE BLACKTHORN SERIES?

It is!

Lowtown is the neighbouring district to Blackthorn so will already be familiar to Blackthorn readers. However, up until now, the goings-on there have been peripheral to the main focus of the Blackthorn story. Each Lowtown book will focus on the plight of those living there and the challenges they face. Basically, Lowtown will provide an even fuller view of the world Blackthorn readers have come to know.

If you want to know a little more about the set-up in Lowtown, don’t forget you can read about it here.

CAN YOU READ ONE SERIES WITHOUT THE OTHER?

Yes. There’s no co-dependency between Lowtown and Blackthorn. A reader will be getting a richer experience of the worldbuilding though by reading both.

WILL THE LOWTOWN SERIES HAVE AN OVERARCHING PLOT AS THE BLACKTHORN SERIES DOES?

No. All the books will be standalones. There’s no continuing storyline and no cliffhangers. Readers will be able to dip in and out of Lowtown books in any order. The only aspect that binds the books together is that they centre in the same district.

IS IT A SERIES FOR ADULTS? 

Most definitely. As with Blackthorn, it contains themes and scenes suitable for a mature audience only.

ARE LOWTOWN BOOKS FULL-LENGTH LIKE BLACKTHORN ONES ARE OR ARE THEY NOVELLAS?

They’ll be full-length books, though there’s always scope for novellas too. Lowtown has an array of possibilities.

WHEN IS THE LOWTOWN SERIES SET IN RELATION TO BLACKTHORN? SAME AS NOW? OR IS IT A PREQUEL, SUCH AS WHEN THE SEGREGATION WAS FIRST ESTABLISHED? OR MAYBE A SEQUEL?

All Lowtown books will be set either prior to or during the events that occur in the Blackthorn series. I can’t stress enough that Lowtown won’t be expanding on the Blackthorn story or its characters – it’s an independent series in its own right.

Despite knowing how many of my readers would love a sequel (who doesn’t want to see Tuly all grown up and fighting challenges of her own?), now is not the right time for me to dive straight into one. I would never rule it out but if I ever did one, it would be much further down the line. For now, the Blackthorn story needs to end where it ends.

HOW MANY LOWTOWN BOOKS WILL THERE BE?

I have signed two initially. Because they’re standalones, Lowtown books have huge flexibility in terms of the number (and premise) of its stories. I certainly have ideas for several more and am also open to hearing about aspects of the world that my readers are desperate to know more about (the angel mythology of Blackthorn seems particularly popular in queries). To be completely honest though, further books will come down to how my readers respond.

WILL THERE BE THIRD AND FOURTH SPECIES IN THE SERIES OR WILL IT HAVE HUMAN CHARACTERS PRIMARILY?

Although Lowtown is a district predominantly occupied by humans (as opposed to Blackthorn being a third species locale), third species do co-exist with humans there so they’re guaranteed to play a significant role. I definitely want to retain the paranormal element in Lowtown.

As for the fourth species, they’re more relevant to the Blackthorn story, but I won’t rule out that there’s always scope for them to appear! You know what they’re like. 😉

IF IT’S A SPIN-OFF FROM BLACKTHORN, WHY IS IT BEING CALLED URBAN FANTASY AND NOT PARANORMAL ROMANCE? IS THERE NO ROMANCE IN LOWTOWN BOOKS?

For many readers, there’s a fine line between the two genres anyway. Due to the various cross-genre elements to the books, Blackthorn has been referred to as urban fantasy, dystopian fantasy, Gothic romance, paranormal romance, paranormal suspense as well as a paranormal thriller. Ultimately though, the developing romantic relationships always take centre stage in the Blackthorn series which is why it sits firmly within PNR.

Lowtown books will all have romance in them but the parallel plot carries equal (or greater) weight in the books – hence why it’s being referred to as urban fantasy. Expect all the familiar Blackthorn trademarks though such as the dark and atmospheric backdrop, gritty issues, twists and turns, and intricate plots.

WILL SECONDARY CHARACTERS (such as Alexander) BE FEATURED AS MAIN CHARACTERS IN LOWTOWN?

The aim of Lowtown is to be a spin-off from the worldbuilding and not a spin-off from already familiar characters, but you will come across familiar names if you’ve read Blackthorn. A lot of people seem to want an Alexander story though! I love that kind of feedback so I won’t say never.

WILL WE SEE SOME GLIMPSES OF THE BLACKTHORN GUYS?

I know this is what a lot of my readers are hoping for. All I’ll say is the locale is a small world so, when you have key players like the main characters in Blackthorn, it’s hard not to give them a mention – and there’s always the potential for paths to cross.

AND WHAT ABOUT BLACKTHORN? WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE?

Rest assured, everything is equally underway with our Blackthorn finale in the background too. I promise it’s not being neglected. I hope to have some updates for you over the summer.

More news soon! Have a great weekend! <3

Flash Giveaway! Win a Blackthorn Paperback!

Whilst working on our Blackthorn finale as well as the first book in my new Lowtown series, I’ve had some wonderfully encouraging and inspiring feedback from my readers recently.

So, to say thank you for your support, I decided to run a flash giveaway to give you the chance to win a signed Blackthorn paperback of your choice.

HOW TO ENTER

You know how I love to keep giveaways as quick and easy as possible so, inspired by some of the comments above, all you have to do to enter is tell me:

What is it about Blackthorn that keeps you coming back for more?

And, for the first time ever, you can submit an entry both here on my blog as well as on my Facebook page to double your chances of winning!

THE PRIZES

There are TWO paperbacks up for grabs – and the two winners can pick which one they want*.

Whether you want to start your Blackthorn paperback collection, fill a gap, or complete your series so far or, if your collection is already complete, win one for a family member, a friend or even as a prize for your own blog or book club, the choice is yours.

*I’m afraid advanced copies of Blood Broken are not included in this giveaway. We’ll be having a special giveaway for that nearer the time.

THE RULES

  • The giveaway is open NOW and will close at midnight GMT on Friday 24th March, so be quick!
  • Only two entries per person please – one here and one on my Facebook page is the max.
  • All entries will be assigned a number and the two winners will be selected using a random number generator.
  • The winners will be announced on this post as well as on the related Facebook post on Saturday 25th March.
  • Winners will need to check if they have won and contact me to claim their prizes by midnight Wednesday 29th March for your books to be ordered. We can sort out the finer details then.

ADDITIONAL INFO:

  • As with all my giveaways, prizes will be posted anywhere.
  • Proof of postage will be retained but prizes lost once out of my hands cannot be replaced.
  • And as with all giveaways, I will refrain from responding to comments. If you have any queries though, feel free to email or message me.

Good luck, everyone! <3

*

GIVEAWAY WINNERS ANNOUNCED

HUGE congratulations to….

Claire Palmer

and

Kimmie Lew

You have both won a signed Blackthorn paperback of your choice! Please either email me or message me via Facebook and we will sort the details.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who joined in. Your comments were incredible. I am so relieved I didn’t have to choose a winner based on those! And, of course, commiserations to anyone disappointed not to win. Rest assured, we’ll have plenty more giveaways to come.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone! xxx

Meet Me in London

I’ve been asked many times, over the last couple of years in particular, when I’m going to participate in a book-signing event. Well, it’s finally going to happen!

To mark the end of BLACKTHORN and the beginning of my brand new LOWTOWN series, I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be attending RARE18 at The Olympia in London on 24th February 2018. This will be my first public appearance and the first opportunity I’ve had to meet some of my readers – and I cannot wait.

If you’ve never heard of RARE (Romance Author & Reader Events), it’s an incredible event reaching increasing popularity since it began in 2014. It’s been hosted in Edinburgh and Montreal, is based in Berlin this year, and will be hosted in London and Rome in 2018. It’s your chance to meet a whole host of amazing romance authors across the full spectrum of the genre from contemporary to fantasy to suspense.

Tickets are going on sale on Saturday 4th March at 3 p.m. UK time. Don’t delay once the tickets become available as there are over 1,000 confirmed attendees already. If you’d like to find out more before then, you can join RARE 18 London‘s Facebook group where they are announcing authors who are attending. For those not on social media, I’ll update the end of this post once I have further news.

So, if you’d like the chance say hello and have your books, audiobooks, notebooks, giveaway prizes you may have won in the past, or anything else signed by me, I’d love to see you there.

My new publisher, Piatkus, is very kindly planning on providing some LOWTOWN stash and hopefully I’ll have one or two BLACKTHORN treats too. 🙂

On top of all of that, I’ve discovered that it won’t just be authors and readers attending. I jokingly put a teaser out on my Facebook page earlier in the week that I was going to be participating in a signing event and that Kane, Caleb, Jask and Eden would be joining me – but in 2D only. Now I’ve heard that some cover models really are going to attend! So, who knows, maybe* one of our Blackthorn boys will appear after all.

Form an orderly queue…

xxx

*Don’t hold me to it being one of our boys. I genuinely have no idea which models are coming!

*UPDATE AS OF 4th MARCH*

This event is now sold out.

My Book Deal with Piatkus

I’m beyond elated to be able to reveal that I’ve signed a three book deal with PIATKUS, an imprint of LITTLE, BROWN BOOK GROUP!

Two of the books are a spin-off to my bestselling Blackthorn series (more on that in a moment) and the third is an unrelated title. Piatkus have bought world English rights in both print and eBook, with the aim to make my books available in bookshops in the UK, US and Australia. How exciting is that?

Anyone familiar with PNR and Urban Fantasy will know why I’m so over the moon about this. Piatkus are globally synonymous with the genres, publishing leading names such as Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward and Nora Roberts. Needless to say I am uber-excited to be working with their expert and passionate team on my new books.

I had the greatest pleasure meeting with my new editor – Anna Boatman (Editorial Director at Piatkus) – in December when she travelled from London to Exeter to take me out for lunch. We’d already had several phone conversations by that point and Anna had been following my work for years, so meeting her in person was the final confirmation of how much I wanted to work with the Piatkus team.

The news has been issued both in BookBrunch and The Bookseller:

NO BLACKTHORN SEQUELS OR PREQUELS, BUT SOMETHING FAMILIAR YET NEW…

As well as 2016 marking the release of two Blackthorn books, it was also a year of big decisions as to what to do once Blackthorn ended. With the finale approaching, I’d been receiving an increasing number of requests for prequels, sequels or even spin-offs from readers not ready to leave this world behind yet. I’ve always said that the Blackthorn story will end with book eight though, and I’m not going to change that. However, with a backdrop as detailed and complex as this one, there’s always been scope for a sideways step – especially with so many aspects of life in the locale that never made it into the overarching Blackthorn plot.

After revelations in interviews and blog posts that I had other stories set in the same locale, reader requests increased so I decided to give it some serious thought. Some of my favourite characters who never made it into Blackthorn soon came to mind, their stories opening up other parts to this world that my readers had yet to see. Some of those stories centred around one district in particular.

My current readers will know of Lowtown as the neighbouring district to Blackthorn. It’s where Caitlin from Blood Shadows lived, where the TSCD is based as well as the penitentiary too. However, the plight of those struggling to survive in Lowtown has remained peripheral for my readers whilst I remained focused on the Blackthorn story. Now seems to be the perfect time to delve into unexplored corners of this stratified and corrupt society and, with it, even deeper into the world.

HOW BLACKTHORN AND LOWTOWN WILL DIFFER

Set against a backdrop of social unrest my readers will be familiar with, Lowtown books will retain the same dark and gritty urban feel as Blackthorn. The romances will be just as intense and the struggles just as severe.

However, unlike their Blackthorn predecessors, each Lowtown story will be a standalone. They’ll also be completely independent of the overarching plot that runs through my eight Blackthorn books. One or two familiar names or places might appear though. 😉

AND THAT’S NOT ALL…

In 2019, I will also be bringing something brand new to my readers. As well as two spin-off titles, I have signed another book with Piatkus – one that is far removed from the familiar urban dystopia of Blackthorn and Lowtown. Expect chills and mystery set against a rural backdrop, as well as more romance of course!

THE YEAR AHEAD 

I’m thrilled to finally be able to reveal this news to you – and I hope you’re just as pleased to hear it. Thank you to all of my readers who regularly contact me to share their thoughts, particularly with what you enjoy about my writing and what you’d like more of. You’ve helped shape what I’m going to do next.

Well, it’s certainly going to be a busy year ahead! Our Blackthorn finale is due for publication before the end of the year and now the first Lowtown book is scheduled for release this November. That means we’ll have double the cover reveals, double the blurb reveals, be concluding Blackthorn as well as launching Lowtown… I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this, and I can’t wait! Of course, it also means I might not be around as much as usual for the first part of this year, but I promise I’ll keep you updated as often as possible.

Thank you for being there, for supporting my writing up to now and, by doing so, for helping this happen. 2017, here we come!!

**UPDATE**

A huge thank you to Piatkus Fiction for sharing the announcement on their Facebook page, and for all the wonderful comments already being left on their post.

And thank you to everyone who is supporting this announcement across social media. I’m truly overwhelmed! <3

A Grimm Day

I make no secret of the fact I love fairy tales. I’ve written a post previously about how, with them having been embedded in my psyche since childhood, I don’t doubt their background influence on Blackthorn. Fairy tales were the PNR equivalent when I was a child. Wolves, witches, treachery, romance, magic, a struggle for survival, the battle between good and evil set against mystical and often dark and threatening settings, it’s no wonder the world I’ve created contains those elements.

Above: My collection of fairy tales

As well as loving fairy tales, I also have a passion for visiting National Trust properties. Whether absorbing their internal grandeur or exploring their beautifully maintained grounds (or wandering off into the depths of the woods), I can’t visit these places enough when taking a break from writing. So when I heard Killerton were hosting a celebration of Grimm’s Fairy Tales over the Christmas and New Year period, it became top priority for a day out. I was so enthralled by what I found, I thought I’d share a few pics (and some annotations) from the day. I hope my fellow fairy tale fans out there enjoy them!

The stunning exterior of Killerton House in Exeter: the perfect magical setting to host a celebration of some of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Although the sun had broken through in these photos, it had been a frosty morning when we set off for our visit, adding to the enchantment of the place on our arrival (needless to say I’m a huge Narnia fan too 🙂 ).

A glimpse of Killerton’s internal staircase, light being cast through the glass dome above. It might be familiar to those of you who have read Blood Torn:

“Ascending the stairs alongside him, her attention was drawn to the opaque glass dome that crowned the ceiling…”

Blood Torn, chpt 2. 

The first stop was The Elves and the Shoemaker display. Later I had a peek inside Rapunzel‘s tower which included a full-size figure of the lady herself, her posture emanating her loneliness. Is it any wonder Eden refers to Jessie as ‘Rapunzel’ in Blood Deep?

The story of Sleeping Beauty spanned two rooms. The first room displayed the spinning wheel and poison whilst Sleeping Beauty slept a few feet away. The neighbouring room celebrated her wedding to the Prince who, if interpretations are correct, rescued her after fighting his way through a Blackthorn hedge. 😉

Hmm, I wonder which vampire came to mind with this library…?

If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know I have a long-standing fear of werewolves (which convinced me I’d never be able to write a lycan hero), so I really could have done without wandering down a lengthy corridor before nearly jumping out of my skin when faced with this growling fella! Jask I can handle, Little Red Riding Hood‘s nemesis, not so much!

This had to be my favourite display of all, which is why I left it until last. The story of Hansel and Gretel both terrified and fascinated me as a child. So even at forty-two, I had a little shiver as I glimpsed firstly at the child prison before taking a closer look at the baking tray… to see human fingers ready for cooking! It’s no wonder our Caleb despises serryns so much!

I can’t wait to see what Killerton will come up with next year! 🙂

And before I go, I’d like to give my thanks and a huge shout-out to Big Little Sister Blog who listed Blood Instinct and Blood Bound amongst her favourite books of 2016! Yay!!!

As well as My Bookworm Blogger who is so excited (and maybe a little sad?) about 2017 bringing Blackthorn’s finale that she’s given the entire series a shout-out on her blog today.

Thank you so very much, Michelle and Stephanie. <3

I’ll be back with some news very soon. And, of course, a very happy New Year to you all, Team Blackthorn! Let’s make 2017 a great one! <3

Merry Christmas 2016, Team Blackthorn!

It’s cold, the wind is howling, the rain is thrashing against the windows and it’s already dark outside. But who cares? It’s Christmas Eve Eve! I love Christmas Eve Eve, especially with a whole Christmas weekend ahead. I’m still not completely convinced I’m as organised as I should be though – or as I think I am. I’m about to find out as soon as I finish this post!

Above: Can’t imagine why my hubby thought this folder was so suitable for me…

It’s been a busy year, that’s for sure. 2016 saw the publication of two Blackthorn books – Blood Instinct back in May and then Blood Bound in September. Since then I’ve been well underway on the series finale: Blood Broken. But that’s not all I’ve been working on. With Blackthorn coming to an end in 2017, I’ve also been developing ideas for my next projects. I’ll be sharing news about those very early next month. I hope you’ll be as excited about them as I am!

Before I switch off for Christmas and the New Year though, I want to offer my usual heartfelt thanks to all of my amazing readers who have been a part of my 2016. Whether you have supported me here, via social media, email, or by rating and reviewing my books, you have made a HUGE difference to both my series and to me. Thank you so much for being there.

Above: Christmas is now underway in the Pryor household.

Here’s wishing you a fantastic Christmas as well as health, peace and happiness in the year ahead. I hope to ‘see’ you in 2017 for our Blackthorn finale as well as what I plan to be a lot of fun in the build-up to its publication!

Take care,

Linds xxx

Nominated for Two Awards!

I’ve been nominated for TWO awards in the GraveTells 2016 Readers Choice Awards! Blackthorn has been nominated for ‘MOST OUTSTANDING SERIES’ and I’ve been nominated for ‘MOST ENGAGING AUTHOR’. I’m thrilled!

I would absolutely love your votes if you could spare a couple of minutes. It’s really quick and easy. Just click on this link and scroll through to find my categories. Bookouture are also up for an award so I’ve no doubt they’d love your vote too.

Every single vote counts, so please support me if you can. I can’t do this without you! Huge thanks to everyone who has already joined in.

Have a terrific weekend! xxx

Blackthorn Anniversary Winners Announced

Thank you to everyone who entered and supported my anniversary giveaways both this week and last week. And, of course, a massive thank you to everyone who supported my four-year anniversary month in general – whether with likes, comments, shout-outs or shares across social media, I really appreciated it. <3 I hope you had as much fun with it all as I did!

But this is all about the winners – all chosen at random – so here goes…

 

THE GIVEAWAY WINNERS

 

ANNIVERSARY BUNDLE WINNER

The winner of the anniversary bundle and signed A3 poster of your choice is:

Claudia, please email me with your address and include which book cover you would like. 🙂

 

MY BOOKWORM BLOGGER WINNER

My Bookworm Blogger has also announced the winner of the signed paperback of Blood Bound and postcard as:

Linda Brandt

Linda, please email me with your address and I’ll get your prizes on their way to you!

 

FACEBOOK FLASH GIVEAWAY WINNERS

There were also a number of winners of the flash giveaways on my Facebook page last week. If you haven’t done so already, please feel free to either email me or message me via my page to claim your prizes:

Mor Rosenberg

Linda Tudhope

Tracy Gallacher

Kara Lee Lovell Johnson

Sarajane Cotton

Jennifer Dyer

Sharon Goodley

Natasha Manuel

Suzanne Millan

Dawn Higgins

Julia Whitehouse

Veronica Morgan

Huge congrats to all of the winners! Thanks again for your support, and have a brilliant a weekend! <3

Blackthorn Anniversary Bundle Giveaway

Today is the day! Four years ago today, Blackthorn was first launched. Thank you to everyone who read and supported my anniversary post here yesterday as well as all of your wonderful comments on social media. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! If you missed it, you can find it here.

I would also like to say a massive thank you to Tracey Rogers, Wopsywoobookblog and Passionate About Books who have all celebrated with their own special anniversary posts on their blogs today, including recalling how they discovered Blackthorn. Thank you to HelCeesBanginBooks for giving my series such a big shout out on her FB page too. I really appreciate it, ladies. <3

Thank you as well too to everyone who supported my interview with My Bookworm Blogger yesterday. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback of Blood Bound together with a signed postcard, you still have time. Just click on this link.

And talking of giveaways…

IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!

Last week I had three 24-four flash giveaways on Facebook to win stickers and limited edition postcards. Today, I’m giving ONE entrant the chance to WIN THE ENTIRE BUNDLE of prizes.

The bundle includes:

  • One signed limited edition ‘4-year Anniversary’ large postcard
  • One signed limited edition ‘Readers’ Quotes’ large postcard
  • One signed ‘Blackthorn Heroes’ large postcard
  • One set of ‘Blackthorn Heroes’ stickers, including 1 Kane sticker, 1 #TeamKane sticker, 1 Caleb Sticker, 1 #TeamCaleb sticker, 1 Jask sticker, 1 #TeamJask sticker, 1 Eden sticker and 1 #TeamEden sticker. That’s 8 stickers in total.
  • One Blackthorn Logo sticker

But exclusive to this website giveaway, I’m including a SIGNED A3 POSTER of the Blackthorn book cover of YOUR CHOICE in the prize bundle!

HOW TO ENTER

As today marks the release of Blood Shadows, all you have to do to enter is:

SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE KANE OR CAITLIN QUOTE OR MOMENT FROM THE SERIES SO FAR

 (*BE WARNED THERE COULD BE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS GIVEAWAY*)

THE RULES

For your entry to be valid you must

  • leave your answer in the comment thread below, OR
  • email me

The giveaway is OPEN NOW and will close at Midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 30th November.

The winner will be drawn using a random number generator and will announced on Thursday 1st December.

Additional info:

  • The winner will need to claim their prize within 14 days of their name being announced.
  • The prize can be posted anywhere.
  • Proof of postage will be retained but prizes lost in transit cannot be replaced.
  • As with all giveaways, I will avoid responding to entries.

Good luck – and have a brilliant week! <3

**My sincerest apologies to any of my blog followers who are still not currently getting email notifications for my blog updates. The issue will hopefully be resolved soon. 

It’s Blackthorn’s Fourth Anniversary!

Tomorrow marks four years since Blackthorn was launched. Blood Shadows was officially released on 27th November 2012. Since then Blackthorn has sold in six figures, reached readers in several countries and obtained numerous number ones in both the Gothic and the PNR charts on Amazon as well as having reached the Top 50 on Amazon.com’s main kindle charts too. Blood Shadows was even optioned by Hollywood movie giants Relativity Media! It’s been quite the four years. And next year it’ll all be coming to an end with the series finale.

To mark the occasion, and to keep to the theme of 8 Blackthorn books, I thought I’d share… 8 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT MY CREATION OF BLACKTHORN. Oh, and look out for details of a giveaway at the end!

1) BLACKTHORN IS TWENTY YEARS OLD THIS YEAR!

Although tomorrow marks four years since Blackthorn was first published, it’s actually twenty years old this year!

2) IT STARTED ONE DARK AND STORMY NIGHT…

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly stormy but it did all begin one night. I’d moved to a city over 300 miles away from home to begin my first teaching job. After an evening out with my new colleagues, I managed to get lost on my way home. With no one at home to expect me and with 1996 hardly being the era of mobile phones, I had no option but to try and navigate my way alone through the empty city streets. It wasn’t long before I became increasingly lost as well as deeper into unfamiliar territory. So, during that time, I did what every self-respecting scared-out-of-their-wits author does and made up stories to keep calm and distract myself – and Blackthorn was born.

3) BLACKTHORN BEGAN AS A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES

From then on Blackthorn became a labour of love. I never intended it to be published, instead it was one of many simultaneous projects I had underway. Some went by the wayside but Blackthorn was one idea I simply couldn’t walk away from.

Once I had the concept behind Blackthorn, I wrote short stories to get to know the world. The stories were set in various districts across the locale, from Blackthorn to Summerton. Once the idea behind the overarching plot – the downfall of this oppressive society – took hold, the key contenders were already clear. Kane and Caitlin, Caleb and Leila, and Jessie and Eden all evolved from those short stories into what Blackthorn is today. The only exceptions were Jask and Phia.

4) THE UNDEAD DON’T EXIST IN BLACKTHORN

I’ve caused much confusion amongst some readers and reviewers by bending the mythological rules. For one thing, only lycans have fangs whereas vampires have an extra set of feeding incisors instead. None of my “third species” as I call them are immortal, nor are they cursed or contaminated, and they most certainly aren’t the undead! Why? Because apart from rare occasions when these “creatures” were constituted as deities, they have almost always been associated with evil origins. This was further enforced by the introduction of Christian ideologies, with vampires in particular not only deemed as a risk to our physical self but our spiritual self too. Then there’s the influences of literature and films in the mix. I wanted to come from the angle that just because we don’t understand something doesn’t automatically make it evil – one of the fundamental themes behind Blackthorn.

After all, one of the greatest freedoms of being a writer of fantasy is the ability to be selective about which aspects of mythology to apply. The creation of my third species is as much about characterisation and plot as fitting in logically into the Blackthorn world I’ve created.

5) I ONCE DESTROYED BLACKTHORN BEFORE REBUILDING IT

After I’d finished putting Blackthorn together, I stuck my head above the parapet to try and work out its potential for publication. But what had begun during a time when PNR was rarely found on the shelves was then faced with a market overwhelmed with vampiric heroes and fantastical urban underworlds, let alone well-established names globally dominating the genre.

Despite the knock of confidence, I started to look for publishing opportunities – only to find that, for those who accepted unagented submissions, Blackthorn didn’t meet their guidelines. Not only were my books too long, the preference seemed to be for standalones (especially from debut novelists unable to prove they could sustain a complex series). Most of all, my heroes didn’t conform to readers’ expectations. All in all, Blackthorn looked like it would be too high a risk to pursue.

So without even attempting to submit anywhere, I tucked Blackthorn away in my bottom drawer as I focused on a different genre.

It was only when my dad passed away in 2007 that I returned to Blackthorn, determined to pursue my dream of getting it published one day. To try and up my chances, I pulled out all of the overarching plot threads to the series and started turning Blackthorn into stand-alones.

The biggest clincher for signing with my current publisher was when they read Blood Shadows and Blood Roses and suggested that maybe Blackthorn could extend beyond three books. More than that, they asked if maybe I saw potential for an overarching plot to tie all the books together. I couldn’t pull all of my original notebooks out of my bottom draw quick enough!

6) BLACKTHORN USED TO LOOK VERY DIFFERENT

Those who supported Blackthorn from the beginning will know that the covers of Blood Shadows and Blood Roses once looked very different. They were designed by Henry Steadman and had a much more traditional Gothic feel. They also incorporated red, white and black. According to folklore, these are the three colours associated with the Blackthorn plant. (If you’d like to know why I called the series ‘Blackthorn’, you can read about it here.)

Before Blood Torn’s release in February 2014, Bookouture decided to give the series a brand new look with a contemporary urban edge.

7) JASK AND HIS PACK WEREN’T GOING TO HAVE A STARRING ROLE

Up until the point I was offered a publishing contract, there were only six books in the series (seven if I split the finale into two). I’d initially been signed for three. When it came to discussions for the third book, I was ready to move on to Jessie and Eden’s story. However, my editor at the time as well as author Michele Hauf (who was my mentor during the writing competition through which I was discovered) both felt Jask Tao deserved a story of his own.

I already knew the role Jask and Phia played in the overarching Blackthorn story (no spoilers for anyone who hasn’t got that far!), but I never intended a romance between them, nor to explore the lycans’ plight in Blackthorn in any great detail. Instead I’d planned to keep the focus on the vampires in the story. In addition to that I have a deep-rooted fear of lycanthropy so didn’t think I’d be able to write Jask as an appealing enough hero!

Since then, Jask has gone on to become one of Blackthorn’s most popular heroes – and it’s all thanks to my wonderful first editor and the fantastic Michele Hauf.

8) I WAS STILL TEACHING WHEN I WROTE THE FIRST FOUR BOOKS

Like the vast majority of published authors, writing wasn’t my only job when Blackthorn was launched. It’s a myth that once you get a publishing deal, you give up the day job and spend all of your days writing books. In fact, for the first four Blackthorn books I was still holding down a teaching job. I’d be teaching lessons to teenagers one day and then immersed in Blackthorn the next, swapping lesson planning and reports with book edits and fan mail. It wasn’t until January 2015 that I started writing full time. By that time, I’d waited almost 30 years to get to that point. If you love something enough, I guess you hold on for as long as it takes.

So that’s it – 8 facts you may or may not have known. And as you can see, Blackthorn had been on quite the journey even before it reached your shelf/device!

I’ll be back tomorrow to mark the official day with a GIVEAWAY BUNDLE for one lucky winner.

Until then, I’m thrilled to say I was invited to a special anniversary interview with ‘My Bookworm Blogger’.

I was asked some of the most insightful Blackthorn-related questions I’ve ever had, so please do head over and take a look. Stephanie’s also giving away a SIGNED PAPERBACK of my latest release BLOOD BOUND as well as an exclusive SIGNED Blackthorn POSTCARD!

Have a wonderful evening and ‘see’ you tomorrow! <3