On changing track . . .

Gleam cover artThe spunnocks have had third breakfast already and have moved on to do some serious spunnocking in the mulberry tree, so now I am sitting here watching two adult blue tits feeding the very fluffy fawn baby blue tit from the veritable bird banquet I have generously suspended from the washing line outside the dining room. They much prefer the pink berry suet block to the buggy balls, and just spit out the extremely expensive high-protein mixed seed – mendaciously labelled ‘no mess’ – in disdain. Even @LitAgentDrury forgives them because of their joyous presence.

However, I have to admit that the lilting twitter and blue tit acrobatics are making it very hard to concentrate on the exceptionally dark world Tom Fletcher has created in Gleam.

But concentrate I must, if this is going to get to the typesetter in time for autumn publication . . . for a moment, inspired by the world outside my window, I was going to suggest he add some more birds (other than the odd raven or two who put in a brief appearance – although I hasten to add there’s nothing wrong with ravens!), but then decided a joyful little tit was quite likely to turn into something quite other in this dank, leprous world full of scaly poisonous beasts, of silvery-trailed slugs and snails of gigantic size, of bone-filled swamps and slimy mushrooms.

I should have guessed, when I suggested Tom try his hand at something a little wider than the (admittedly excellent) stand-alone horror novels he’s been writing, that I was not going to get your standard fantasy fare. Granted, it is a quest novel, and there are companions – and technically, Wild Alan is an orphan, since his parents were massacred when he was a boy . . . but that’s about where Gleam parts company from the more traditional quest novels.

It’s always a bit of a scary moment waiting for the script after you’ve suggested an author change tracks, and I am the first to admit that yanking a writer out of their comfort zone doesn’t always work. But when it does . . .

Poor you lot: you have to wait until September!

And as for me, you’ll forgive my brevity this week – I am turning my back on the birds as well as you and returning to the Discard, where Wild Alan, Bloody Nora the Mapmaker, Spider, Eyes and Churr are about arrive in Dok, the source of the mushrooms Alan needs if he is ever to see his beloved son again. Sadly for them, I suspect they are not getting there alone.

Jo

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