Whatever the end of the year means to you, generally it means a few lazy days and grabbing some time for a bit of reading. Whether you’re preparing to soak up the sun in the southern hemisphere, or rug up warm in front of the fire (or frolic how you please somewhere in the middle) it’s always a good time for a new book!
Naturally, I have some recommendations for you!
Narrelle M Harris has a bumper year
If you’ve somehow missed the excellent year I’ve had, may I draw your attention not only to The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, a Holmes/Watson romance set in Australia in 1893, but also to Wilderness, the third of my sexy spy thrillers about Martine Dubois and Philip Marsden.
In addition, there are the many wonderful anthologies in which my work’s appeared this year: Intrepid Horizons, A Certain Persuasion (queer interpretations of Jane Austen), The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes stories Part V: Christmas Adventures (traditional Victorian era Holmes and Watson) and A Murmuring of Bees (queer Holmes/Watson romance and erotica). In the next few weeks, Clan Destine’s And Then… anthology will be joining them with my 1851 fantasy, “Virgin Soil”.
That’s enough variety to keep you going for a few weeks, but if you’ve already been a champion and supported my work throughtout the year, I can also recommend some other fantastic books.
Narrelle’s 2016 recommendations
GoodReads stats tell me that I read 84 books this year, so I was clearly reading as fast and hard as I was writing. So many good books too! Here are some of my favourites:
Romance and Erotica
Herotica Volume 1 by Kerry Greenwood. Full of delicious queer love stories throughout history.
Albert’s Wars by Stewart Jackel. A bittersweet wartime love story. I cried.
Definitely Naughty by Jo Leigh. Short, fast, fun, sexy read!
Thrive by Mary Borsellino. This is the review in which I sang songs of praise to this book.
Are you there, God? It is I, Robot by Tom Cho. Tom’s work, like Mary Borsellino’s, is always an absolutely brilliant, brain-opening treat.
Trucksong by Andrew Macrae. Sentient trucks. Post apocalyptic Australia. So Aussie. So gritty. So good.
Monstrous Little Voices: These five novellas set in and around Shakespeare’s plays and life were an early gem and utterly brilliant.
- Coral Bones by Foz Meadows;
- The Course of True Love by Kate Hearfield;
- The Unkindest Cut by Emma Newman;
- Even in the Cannon’s Mouth by Adrian Tchaikovsky; and
- On the Twelfth Night by Jonathan Barnes
Lady Helen and The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. Regency-era demon hunters, deft and fast-paced with fabulous frocks, manners that are not always impeccable and sexual tension you could cut with a knife!
The Time of the Ghosts by Gillian Polack. I didn’t think anybody could make me find Canberra interesting, but I was mistaken. Gillian Pollack does it effortlessly with the intriguing and marvellous tale of three older women, their protege Kat and all the ghosts becoming corporeal and dangerous in the ACT.
Tansy Rayner Roberts’ delightful novellas Glass Slipper Scandal: A Castle Charming Story, Unmagical Boy Story: a Belladonna University novella and Kid Dark Against The Machine. This woman keeps writing winners.
Pin Drop by Roz Monette. Life on the street for a young woman in America. Realistic but hopeful, with a positive ending.
Fast Pitch by Tim Martin and J Creighton Brown. I don’t normally go for sports books. I really loved this one.
Thyla by Kate Gordon. Tasmanian YA. An amnesiac girl is found in the wilderness. As her memory slowly returns, we learn why Tessa is a bit unclear on modern technology and what’s really going on with some missing girls from the school she now attends. Loved this one. Looking to get my hands on the next, Vulpi.
Ghost Girls by Cath Ferla. Set in Sydney’s Chinatown, it’s crime in a transient Australian community and it’s fantastic.
Livia Day’s Cafe La Femme series: A Trifle Dead, Drowned Vanilla and The Blackmail Blend novella. Set in Hobart. Tasty, tasty crime! (Livia Day is another name for Tansy Rayner Roberts, just going to prove that everything she writes is perfect)
The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim. Another crime novel exploring more diverse sections of Australia’s community. The splash of paranormal with the astrological charts just adds piquancy to the fantastic whole.
Richard III: The Maligned King by Annette Carson. I’m convinced. I’m now a committed Ricardian. What’s more, I think Henry Tudor is the one who did for the kids. Boo. Hiss.
Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanksi. Powerful and deeply moving.
Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Lucy Sussex. Lucy breathes vitality and wry humour into this biography of a book.
Lives Beyond Baker Street: A Biographical Dictionary of Sherlock Holmes’s Contemporaries by Christopher Redmond is an incredibly useful book of the prominent, the famous, the influential and the infamous of the Victorian era. Handy if you’re writing Sherlockian fiction.
That’s probably enough to be getting on with!
Enjoy your reading, one and all, and I hope you have a relaxing break as we head into 2017, filled with excellent reading!
And please share your recommendations in the comments for holiday reading.
Improbable Press has a new anthology of Holmes/Watson romance stories, celebrating the celebrated sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his biographer, friend and (in these stories) lover John Watson.
Some stories are sweet, others steamy. Many involve cases. Some are set in the Victorian era while others take place in 21st century London. In some they are young men solving crimes, and in others they have retired to Sussex.
They all contain some sort of reference to bees or honey.
I’m utterly delighted to have both a short story and a poem in the book and to be in the company of other writers including Kerry Greenwood (the Phryne Fisher series) and Atlin Merrick (The Night They Met) as well as many excellent writers being professionally published for the first time.
Think of Sherlock Holmes and you think of mysteries, John Watson…and bees. While Arthur Conan Doyle sent the great detective to tend hives in retirement, here bees are front and centre in stories of love and romance, war and hope, of honey on the tongue and a sting in the tail. In tales of rare nectars, secret diaries, and the private language of lovers, bees may be the buzzing heart of the story…or as ephemeral as a murmur. What you’ll find in every tale are John Watson and Sherlock Holmes helping one another, wanting one another, loving one another.
To encourage a world where such love is seen for the precious thing it is, profits from “A Murmuring of Bees” will be donated to the It Gets Better Project.
Excerpt from my story, Nectar
After they’d been in the basement for thirty six hours, they weren’t joking any more. Sherlock refused to discuss his symptoms but John knew them anyway: the decreased sweating; the onset of muscle cramps; the increased respiration and the incipient fever. Sherlock was more dehydrated than John, and was betraying the signs sooner. Neither of them was critical yet, but they were far from comfortable.
After everything they’d been through together, it began to look like this was how they’d die. Together. Of thirst.
In the thirty-seventh hour, the storm broke out.
Rain spattered through the open window onto John’s face, waking him from a reverie that was more a stupor. He absently licked drops of water from his lips, and again: then his eyes were wide open. He lurched to his feet and staggered towards the window.
The pattering rain became a driving downfall. It ran in rivulets through the broken window.
John pushed his cheek against the wall, shoving the side of his mouth against a steady stream that gathered in a crack and poured down the bricks. Water flowed over his lips and tongue and down his dry, dry, dry throat. The water tasted of dust and brick and God knew what else, and it was the best water John had ever tasted in his life. He pooled a mouthful and swallowed it. Pooled a second. Swallowed it.
He tried to put his hands under the stream, but the chains wouldn’t let him get that close. So he pooled a third mouthful, larger than the first two, and held it behind pressed lips.
He took two strides to Sherlock’s side, dropped to his knees, and shook Sherlock awake.
Sherlock peered at him with weary perplexity. John tapped Sherlock’s mouth with his fingers. When Sherlock didn’t respond immediately, John poked his fingers between Sherlock’s dry lips to part them, hovered—his mouth millimetres from Sherlock’s—and then he opened his mouth to let the water dribble carefully down.
Sherlock made a small, desperate noise and swallowed the water. He tried to catch a spilled droplet with his tongue.
“Sorry,” rasped John, “Had a full mouth and couldn’t warn you. Wake up, now.” He was already moving back to the wet bricks; to the precious rivulet of rainwater.
After a small swallow, John filled his mouth and returned to Sherlock. He transferred the precious cargo into Sherlock’s cupped hands. Sherlock was sucking at his wet fingers as John returned to the window; came back ready to fill Sherlock’s palms again.
Sherlock tilted his head back. “Lose too much that way,” he croaked, and opened his mouth.
London rained on them for an hour. It was almost like she wanted them to live. For an hour, John went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. He drank sips almost as a by-product of collecting water for Sherlock, and fed mouthful after mouthful of water to his friend. Buying time.
Sherlock revived a little with every mouthful, though his first strange thought on waking to John watering him mouth-to-mouth persisted.
What kind of flower actively feeds nectar to the bee?
The rain stopped, and John stopped, slumping in exhaustion beside Sherlock on the floor. They leaned against each other.
“Don’t thank me,” laughed John, “You’ll make me think we’re not getting out of this.”
Sherlock didn’t say anything.
“You’re welcome,” said John.
To find out how they are rescued (of course they are rescued!) and what happens afterwards, pick up A Murmuring of Bees and support a good cause at the same time.
Pre-orders for the 5 December paperback release are now available at:
- A Murmuring of Bees (Improbable Press)
- A Murmuring of Bees (Amazon US)
- A Murmuring of Bees (Amazon UK)
- A Murmuring of Bees (Barnes & Noble)
- A Murmuring of Bees (BookDepository)
A Murmuring of Bees is already available as an ebook.
- A Murmuring of Bees (Amazon US)
- A Murmuring of Bees (Amazon UK)
- A Murmuring of Bees (Nook Book)
- A Murmuring of Bees (Kobo)
- A Murmuring of Bees (AllRomance)
I’m delighted to announce that I have another short story coming out this year. What’s more, it’s in a Sherlock Holmes anthology that is raising funds for a school housed in Arthur Conan Doyle’s old home, Undershaw.
The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part V: Christmas Adventures is the latest anthology from MX Publishing. The book is, as the name implies, the newest of the MX anthology series containing trraditional, canon-era adventures, with sale proceeds all going to support the Stepping Stones school for children with learning difficulties. (This means that I and my fellow writers have waived payment to ensure the maximum funds go to this project.)
The anthology is edited by well-known Holmesian writer, David Marcum, and its contributors include Wendy C. Fries (author of The Day They Met), Denis O. Smith and James Lovegrove, with forwards by Jonathan Kellerman and Steve Emecz, among others.
You can back this project up until 21 October 2016 on its Kickstarter. (After that date, you’ll be able to get the anthology, along with its predecessors, online at MX Publishing or through Amazon.)
There are plenty of options, including a PDF, a paperback or a hardcover copy of the book. You can even back it by getting Volumes 1-5 as a paperback or hardback set.
Find out more or back the book at:
As a bit of a taster of what you’ll find in the anthology, here’s an excerpt from The Christmas Card Mystery:
The mantelpiece was as cluttered as ever with pipes and the Persian slipper, a few stray plugs of tobacco held against his morning smoke, unopened correspondence, the clock, a collection of curved wooden shapes of obscure function, and a retort containing pale yellow fluid sitting in a cradle – some half completed or completely forgotten experiment, no doubt. The morocco case was thankfully not to be seen. An engaging case, then.
Sitting among all of this habitual detritus were five Christmas cards, each depicting scenes of a macabre humour. A frog that had stabbed its fellow, two naked-plucked geese with a man on a roasting spit, a wasp chasing two children with the unlikely subtitle A Joyous New Year, a savage white bear crushing an explorer in A Hearty Welcome, and a dead robin which read May yours be a joyful Christmas. The latter at least hearkened to the Christ story, the rest to a certain black wit about Holmes’s profession.
It seemed likely to me that one card had been sent by Lestrade, others by Gregson or Jones. I took up the card depicting the frog-murder but found it inscribed merely with To my dear friend at the top and Mrs Inke Pullitts underneath. The script was disorderly, as though done in haste, and struck me as more a masculine than a feminine hand.
I was startled out of my examination when the door flew open and Sherlock Holmes strode through it, a dozen newspapers under his arm.
“Ah, Watson, I see you are making yourself at home! No, no, my dear fellow, go right ahead, and tell me what you make of my Yuletide correspondence while I pour us a brandy. It’s a cruel day out, and my blood’s in need of warming.”
He abandoned the papers over the arm of his chair. His pale cheeks were rosy with the cold he’d just escaped, and his grey eyes sparkled with the merriment I had long associated with an intriguing case.
“I had thought our friends at Scotland Yard were sending you cards,” I admitted, “But I realise I must be quite wrong. They’ve never sent you any before now.” In fact, Holmes rarely received such personal missives, except from me and Mary or his brother Mycroft Holmes. “Did you retain the envelope?”
Holmes placed two glasses on the table and fetched five envelopes from beneath a book on folklore. The topmost he gave to me. I examined it closely – it was addressed in the same untidy hand as the card to the attention of Mr S Holmes, though scrawled so untidily as to appear to read ‘Mrs Hulmes’. The paper was inexpensive, matching the quality of the card, and bore no return address. The corner of the envelope was marked, fore and aft, with a peculiar indentation, as though it had contained something other than the greeting. I saw a similar mark upon the matching card. I sniffed the paper, as I had seen Holmes do in his investigations, but it told me nothing and made me feel foolish. I couldn’t bring myself to dab the tip of my tongue to the paper, another of Holmes’s investigative techniques.
“What was in it?” I asked.
Once more – you can find out more or back the book at:
Some years, my writing schedule looks pretty quiet. I’m always writing up a storm, but in the way of the writing world, I am not always publishing up a storm.
This year seems a little different. Of course, numerous projects are still in waiting and may be delayed, but if all goes well it’ll look like I haven’t slept for six months while I wrote ALL THE THINGS.
As a bit of a round-up:
And Then… anthology
My story, Virgin Soil, is slated to appear late in 2016 in the two-volume And Then… anthology of Antipodean adventure stories, coming from Clan Destine Press!
Virgin Soil is set in Melbourne and the goldfields in 1851. It’s about a young man with magical powers, his equally gifted friend, a 400 year old shapeshifter who can’t remember if he began as a rat or a man because he has both memories, and a monster that requires a virgin sacrifice. Which may not mean what you think it means. Moran and Cato might look like the bad guys, but even the good guys need someone who’ll do the dirty work…
An Indiegogo project is underway for people who’d like to pre-order the anthology, which contains stories from fantastic Australian genre writers like Kerry Greenwood, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Jason Franks, Alan Baxter, and heaps more. Pop on over and pre-order the anthology as ebooks, paperbacks or hardbacks, and with extra book incentives!
A story called Death’s Door is in a science fiction anthology called Intrepid Horizons, published by UK small press, Jay Henge in April 2016.
The story is about a young woman who writes poetry about Death. Death is a bit of a fanboy and is stalking her to read it. They get to know each other and that changes how they view their own existence… If you’re interested:
The Adventure of the Colonial Boy
This Holmes/Watson adventure romance set in Australia in 1893 takes a homoerotic interpretation of the legendary friendship out of subtext and makes it just plain text.
In it, Watson, believing Holmes to have died at the Reichenbach Falls, received a summons to Australia. Shocked and hardly daring to believe it true, Watson sails for Melbourne. There, he and Sherlock Holmes have to confront their heretofore unexpressed attachment to each other, while at the same time in pursuit of (and pursued by) a deadly menace involving a repulsive red leech.
Reviews have been great so far, and I’ve spoken about it on the radio and in a couple of interviews. It’s from UK publisher Improbable Press, and I’m already doing more work with them. (There’s a big list of where to get the book in paperback or ebook on this page.)
The rest of the year
As I said, it’s all in flux to a degree, but on the cards for publication later this year are a Secret Agents, Secret Lives story, and another for the Talbott and Burns Mysteries. I’ve just submitted a short queermance story to one publisher with a positive reception, so if that comes off, it’ll be out towards the end of the year. Another queermance story submitted to an anthology may go ahead round that time too, so that will be cool.
A paranormal queermance novel is looking good with one publisher, and I’m co-writing a new Holmes/Watson adventure romance in a modern setting for Improbable Press, called God Save the Queen, which will be out in the latter half of 2016 all being equal.
A few more stories are in various pipelines, so we’ll see how they go. And of course I’m still writing up a storm, as usual.
Whatever happens, it’s a very big year for me already. Thank you to everyone who’s been part of my journey so far, and who continue to support me. May your library be ever full of books that give you joy.
Thank you so much to everyone who was able to come to the launch of The Adventure of the Colonial Boy on Wednesday, and to those who sent good wishes, and to everyone who has so far bought the book or plans to do so!
Here are some pictures of the night!
For me: I’ve just finished updating both this blog site and my Narrelle M Harris site so that there’s less duplication and (I hope) all the links work correctly again.
New writing projects include some new short stories for anthologies coming up, and I’ve started co-writing a new book for Improbable Press!
I’m also working on various publicity ideas to get word out about The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, including encouraging reviews.
Which brings me to what’s next for you.
Can you help with reviews?
Once you’ve read The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, it would be incredibly helpful to me as a writer, and to Improbable Press, if you could review the book on:
Star ratings and reviews of even only a sentence or two (and it doesn’t have to be a good review, even) help so much with getting the book and the press in front of people who don’t know me/us but would be interested in the subject matter. It’s hard to be heard out there, so if you want to support the book it’s a great way to do that!
Or request The Adventure of the Colonial Boy for your library
Another way to get involved is to put in a request at your local library to get a copy. Check out your own library’s website or desk for how to do this, but usually you need:
- Title: The Adventure of the Colonial Boy
- Author: Narrelle M Harris
- Publisher: Improbable Press
- ISBN-13: 978-0993513626
Thank you again to everyone who has helped me get this far – not only for this book, but in all the writing that has brought me here. Your support has kept me going through tough times!
Improbable Press and I are very pleased to announce that The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is having an official launch!
The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is a Holmes/Watson romance set in Australia in 1893. Murder! Dangerous sea voyages! Deductions! Snakes! Honour, angst, and chases! Unrequited love, requited!
When: Wednesday 30 March 2016. 6.30 for a 7pm start.
Where: Penny Blue Bar, Drivers Lane (off Little Bourke Street, near Elizabeth St) Melbourne VIC 3000
The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is already available as an ebook, and it comes out as a paperback on 31 March. I have a limited number of copies ahead of time, so come to the book launch and get an early copy, at the special price of AU$15.
There’ll be a wee speech, a reading, a little food, lots of good company and the fabulous service at Penny Blue (which is accessible – let us know in advance if you need a ramp for your chair!)
Because Improbable Press is a small press based in the UK and this event is being run on the scent of an oily rag that Sherlock Holmes has deduced was recently in John Watson’s vicinity, we’d like to thank Penny Blue for providing the space for the launch free of charge.
Please support Penny Blue by buying a drink or two, and support Improbable Press by buying a book!
Here are some of the reviewer comments on The Adventure of the Colonial Boy so far!
I admit to being wary about whether [Harris] could really, truly pull off a romance for Holmes and Watson. I am convinced. She more than pulled it off. She nailed it. And now I’m swept headlong into a vision of Holmes and Watson, forever changed. I’ll eagerly be re-reading ACD canon with a brand new understanding. I’ve no doubt that ACD’s stories will be utterly consistent with a Holmes and Watson in love – whether pre-consummation or post. – CoachJanette, Amazon.com
I bought the ebook because I couldn’t wait – and ended up reading it in one day.– Denise, Goodreads.
The biggest problem with this story is my inability to put the darn thing down. Needless to say it was read in one sitting. – cemm, Amazon.com
This was a romping good read, and absolute page turner that I couldn’t put down. – Sally Koetsveld, Goodreads.
Spot on capture of the time-tested Holmes and Watson chemistry: razor-sharp wit, breath-taking revelations, shared victory in defeating clever criminals, and the deepest friendship and love. – ckm, Amazon.com
I particularly loved the author’s take on the original stories and characters, the adventerous plot, and the exploration of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. – HJS, Amazon.com
…and here is the cover for my newest book, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy! It’s a Holmes/Watson romance for new UK publisher, Improbable Press, and is due out around the end of March, although pre-orders and perhaps the e-book will be available earlier. I’ll make another announcement when those dates have been set!
The cover was created by Bob Gibson of StaunchDesign. Huge thanks go to Wendy C Fries, Craig Hilton and Tim Richards, too, for assistance in coming up with a workable concept!
1893. Dr Watson, still in mourning for the death of his great friend Sherlock Holmes, is now triply bereaved, with his wife Mary’s death in childbirth. Then a telegram from Melbourne, Australia intrudes into his grief:
“Come at once if convenient.“
Both suspicious and desperate to believe that Holmes may not, after all, be dead, Watson goes as immediately as the sea voyage will allow. Soon Holmes and Watson are together again, on an adventure through Bohemian Melbourne and rural Victoria, following a series of murders linked by a repulsive red leech and one of Moriarty’s lieutenants.
But things are not as they were. Too many words lie unsaid between the Great Detective and his biographer. Too much that they feel is a secret.
Solve a crime, save a life, forgive a friend, rediscover trust and admit to love. Surely that is not beyond that legendary duo, Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson?
About Improbable Press
Improbable Press specialises in Sherlock Holmes romance and erotica, across both Victorian, contemporary and other historical settings.
Upcoming titles at Improbable Press include the anthology A Murmuring of Bees (to which I am contributing) and Atlin Merrick’s second novel, The Six Secret Loves of Sherlock Holmes. I’m about to start work on a second book for the Press, tentatively titled Framework.
It would be wonderful if you liked Improbable Press’s Facebook page to keep track of the books and release dates – and to let us know you’d like to read Sherlock Holmes romance erotica, both canon and contemporary.
Quintette asks writers five quick questions. This week’s interview is with:
1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?
The Night They Met came out 30 December 2015 and, as it was inspired by and follows The Day They Met, the title was rather forehead-slappingly obvious. Seriously, I slapped my forehead.
2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?
3. What five words best describe your story?
4. Who is your favourite fictional couple?
My apologies for the predictability but whether seen as the best of friends or heartfelt lovers, the relationship of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes is justifiably legendary…and my favourite.
5. What song always makes you cry?
I have no songs that make me cry but I’ll tell you a thing: I can’t read stories where John Watson or Sherlock Holmes truly suffer. It physically pains me. I love these fictional beings so much that their imaginary pain produces in me literal pain. I suppose if I were to put that feeling to music, it would be Sinéad O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2U.
About The Night They Met
Some things belong together, the one with the other, natural pairs.
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Holmes and Watson. Sherlock and John. Whether it’s in an empty house during the Blitz, a West London strip club in the 70s, or deep in the heart of a Hong Kong computer lab, the meeting of these two legendary men is inevitable.
Spanning one hundred and twenty-eight years, The Night They Met contains nineteen stories of that destiny. Of how a detective meets a doctor, of how they change each other in heart and mind.
Of how they fall in love.
About Atlin Merrick
Atlin Merrick’s next book will be The Six Secret Loves of Sherlock Holmes. Atlin, who also writes under the name Wendy C. Fries, is fascinated with London, writing, theatre, and lattes.
Buy The Night They Met
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Amazon US)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night they Met (Bookdepository)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Amazon UK)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Barnes and Noble)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Amazon US)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Amazon UK)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Kobo)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (iBooks)
- Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Night They Met (Nook)