The Outcast Hours is Out

Slightly belated, but, hey! After a year of construction and months of fretting and weeks of self-promotion - The Outcast Hours is, indeed, out. 

The details of this scrumptious new anthology are here, including links to some of the particularly flattering reviews. Mahvesh and I kicked off the launch with three events - two in London, one 'virtual' on reddit - and are now in the awkward 'post-launch, just stare' stage. If you don't have a copy, it is never too late. If you do have a copy, well - thanks.

Incidentally, if you are a school/prison/library/community centre/other institution that would like a copy for your shelves, please let me know, and I will happily send you a copy for free. While they last.

Admin news: the newsletter has migrated over to substack, and contains deep and meaningful thoughts about good intentions and publishing with form.

The Outcast Hours - London Events


The Outcast Hours
The Outcast Hours

Two of 'em:

Thursday, 21st February at the Phoenix Artist Club:

With Marina Warner, M. Suddain, Lavie Tidhar, Louis Greenberg and Will Hill. £10 ticket, which includes a nicely discounted copy of the book!

Details here

Thursday, 28th February at Brick Lane Books:

Featuring Frances Hardinge, Will Hill, Karen Onojaife and Maha Khan Phillips. £5 tickets, redeemable against the price of the books.

Details here

I'll be playing host at both - come by for a chat, a drink, and some signed copies!

Fifty reading recommendations from 2018

Ending 2018/starting 2019 on a productive note, with a rant about resolutions and a long list of good books.

(The latter was inspired by an even better list of reading recommendations from Kirsty Logan.

But, here we go...

Crime and Thriller

  • *Give Me Your Hand (Megan Abbott)
  • Red Harvest and The Glass Key (Dashiell Hammett)
  • East of Hounslow (Khurrum Rahman)
  • *Something in the Water (Catherine Steadman)
  • All Her Father's Guns (James Warner)

SF and Fantasy

  • Age of Assassins (RJ Barker)
  • The Drowning City (Amanda Downum)
  • The Crystal Cave (Mary Stewart)
  • *Paris Adrift (EJ Swift)
  • *The Stars Now Unclaimed (Drew Williams)


  • Miss Wonderful (Loretta Chase)
  • *A Princess in Theory (Alyssa Cole)
  • A Lady's Code of Misconduct (Meredith Duran)
  • The Masqueraders and The Reluctant Widow and all the other Heyers (Georgette Heyer)
  • Once Upon a Marquess (Courtney Milan)

Young Adult

  • Overheard in a Tower Block (Joseph Coelho)
  • *Slay (Kim Curran) (BOY BAND VS DEMONS)
  • The Way You Make Me Feel (Maurene Goo)
  • Ghost (Jason Reynolds)
  • This Lullaby (Sarah Dessen)

Gold Medal (that's a publisher, not a genre, but they're my comfort reading and deserve the recognition - plus, my rules!)

  • The Turrett Room (Charlotte Armstrong)
  • The Expendables (Richard Avery)
  • Castle Ugly (Mary Ellin Barrett)
  • Meet Morocco Jones (Jack Baynes)
  • The Magnolia Murder (Wyatt Bell)
  • The Hideaway (Nikki Content)
  • Smoky Valley (Donald Hamilton)
  • Guns Along the Brazos (Day Keene)
  • Sinner Take All (Wade Miller)
  • Steal Big (Lionel White)

Genre categories are self-defeating and diminishing and, more importantly, I don't know how to categorise these

  • "Dr Frankenstein" (Selma Dimitrijevic)
  • *There's a Witch in the Word Machine (Jenni Fagan)
  • The Talisman Ring (Georgette Heyer)
  • *And the Ocean Was Our Sky (Patrick Ness / Rovina Cai)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) 
Graphic novels
  • Afterlife with Archie (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa / Francesco Francavilla)
  • Josie and the Pussycats (Marguerite Bennett / Cameron DeOrdio)
  • Mockingbird (Chelsea Cain / Kate Niemcyzk)
  • In the Pines (Erik Kriek)
  • Goldie Vance (Hope Larson / Brittney Williams)
  • Made in Bradford (M.Y. Alam)
  • Hold Everything Dear (John Berger)
  • Community (Peter Bloch)
  • The Nasty Bits (Anthony Bourdain)
  • The Age of Jihad (Patrick Cockburn)
  • Poverty Safari (Darren McGarvey)
  • State of Insecurity (Isabell Lorey)
  • The Mosaic of Islam (Suleiman Mourad)
  • Bloody Nasty People (Daniel Trilling)

*: published in 2018

For more recommendations (and rants), subscribe to my weekly(ish) newsletter.

And for some recommendations for 2019, check out this massive list at I chimed in with a few.

The final frontier

A couple of pieces (somehow) -

Review of AfroSFv3, edited by Ivor Hartmann:

“Discovery” implies an element of challenge; a hint that these stories might be a bit too far out on the edge, or potentially unpalatable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A bit on Stormzy, publishing and the importance of evaluation metrics:

Hype alone isn't going to convince an entrenched industry that they need to change everything about their audience/marketing/recruitment/sales/retail approach. There will be a lot of people ready and willing to talk about how Merky 'fails', based on the traditional metrics. "I didn't see a single copy at Hay!"

And, for the hell of it - a new website for

On Stormzy...

Bet you weren't expecting that, huh?

The publishing industry has spent a generation - if not longer - relentlessly milking one particular demographic, with 'innovative' 'outreach' campaigns based around the occasional field trip to Harrogate and #civilisedsaturday

This week's newsletter also features the meaning of life (and the methodology for evaluating it).

Book updates:

'Under Neon and Starlight'

Mahvesh and I share a bit about the editorial process - and the full author/story list for The Outcast Hours  - over on

As with any anthology, not every story will be for everyone. The dark side (excuse the pun) of our shtick is that our approach is especially high-risk / high-reward. There’s no sameness; no certainty. In The Outcast Hours, we have gambled on the unexpected: there are no cozy evenings inside. Instead, we want every reader to find a story or two that they can be deeply passionately about—to experience the night of their lives.


Staying on message

Mahvesh and I reveal the full table of contents for The Outcast Hours over on

It also includes a little guff about our editing approach, because everything starts with a brief.

The key message that we're trying to land in our all our, uh, PR, is that we've gone 'high risk/high reward':

In The Outcast Hours, we have gambled on the unexpected: there are no cozy evenings inside. Instead, we want every reader to find a story or two that they can be deeply passionately about—to experience the night of their lives.

Perhaps leading with 'you probably won't like every story in this book, but, hey - you might love one of them' is definitely a marketing gamble. But it is also true, so let's see where that takes it.

Buy it.