About the book...

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF WOLF TIDE... 17 year-old ANABARA NOLIO is descended from a long line of warriors. From the Gull People on her father’s side she has the ability to fly, and from her highborn Galen mother she has access to the world of the privileged elite. She is a also a Private Investigator. When tasked with discovering the truth about the University library’s lost books she thinks it’s a simple case. But the city isle of LARIDY is riddled with dark secrets and ancient magic - a legacy from historic dealings with the Realm of the Fairy...

Thursday 23 January 2014


People keep asking me when the sequel to Wolf Tide is coming out.  Have a heart!  I've only just published Volume 1.  I suppose the clever thing would be to write a whole series of books, and then release them one at a time at your leisure, while lying on your sofa re-watching TrueBlood DVDs and eating Turkish Delight, or something.  Unfortunately, that clever idea has only just occurred to me.  Instead, I now have to write Volume 2 while my readers shout Get on with it!  We want to know what happened to Paran!  

In fact, I've been working hard and planning book 2 for ages.  To the ignorant bystander that hard work always looks as though I'm simply staring out of windows daydreaming.  Sadly, this is what writers look like when they're working flat out: they look like daydreamers.  But the longer you daydream, the better your book will be.

In the end, though, you have to start writing stuff down.  And that's what I've been doing.  See?

These are just notes, written in a Moleskine notebook (which is what we writers use, so that we look like real writers).  Resting on the notebook is an ancient Fairy artefact, carved of rock ice and used to discern the weather in parallel universes.  OK, I just made that up.  That's how I write: I just make stuff up.  I have a sense of where the story might be heading, but I need to write it to find out.  I follow the line of words to see where it takes me.  Sometimes I end up in a cul de sac, and then I just cross stuff out and try again.  But usually it leads me to the right place, to the secret heart of the story I only half know about.

So far I've written two and a bit chapters of the sequel.  I can tell you it's called The Fifth Slave, and a bunch of Zaarzuks have just arrived on horseback.  I'll tell you more when I know more myself...

Saturday 14 December 2013


Don't you wish you could fly?  Funny how in our dreams we know how to do it.  Maybe it comes from our experience of looking off high buildings, or down from aeroplanes.  Here’s a dizzying picture I took from a cable car in Barcelona in the summer:


Or maybe our knowledge of flying is buried somewhere in our DNA?  Michael Symmons Roberts touches on that idea in his poem 'Mapping the Genome':
            Somewhere out there are remnants
            of our evolution, genes for how
            to fly south, sense a storm
            hunt at night, how to harden
            your flesh into hide or scales.

(You can read the whole poem here:

When I was a little girl my sisters and I used to make ourselves cardboard wings and pretend we could fly.  Or we’d jump off high walls in our Robin Hood cloaks, hoping to get airborne that way.  But no.  Part of me has never quite given up hope.  Maybe in Heaven?  Well, the next best thing was to create characters who can fly; hence the Gull people in Wolf Tide.  Here’s what my heroine Anabara says about it:

‘…it wasn’t really hard work. Not if you were small and light. No worse than running down hill with the wind behind you. Nothing beat that rush. Like diving upward into an airy sea. Rooftops, here we come!’

Sunday 1 December 2013


I had a great time in Liverpool Cathedral yesterday evening launching Wolf Tide.  Lots of friends and family, lots of copies of the book, and some wonderful singing by Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir.  My teenage niece went off with a copy of the book when we got home, sat on my stairs and read it cover to cover.  She appeared in the kitchen and said, When's the sequel coming out?  Now that's the kind of reader I like.

Friday 29 November 2013


When you start out as a writer, you are usually advised to write what you know.  This is pretty good advice.  It cuts down on the need to do masses of research, and it can make your writing more grounded in concrete detail, and less vague and waffly.  And the things you know a lot about are often the things closest to your heart.  Writing that comes from the heart will generally pack more punch.

But if you're meant to write what you know, how can anyone write fantasy fiction?  How can I know about Laridy, a city that's completely made up?  The answer is that I do know it, in a way.  I've spent hours and weeks and months living in that made up world, until I know its people and its ways.  

I can also take the stuff I know in the real world, and build that into my fantasy realm.  This imported knowledge (so long as I adapt it to fit in with the strange ways and history of Laridy) will have that ring of authenticity to it, because I know what I'm talking about.  An example here is the martial arts in Wolf Tide.  I've been doing judo for about twelve years now, and I've also done some karate.  In my novel a version of karate (with spinning back kicks) is what the Galen race go in for.  The people from Bogganburg have a different martial art, Boggan wrestling, and this equates more to judo.  

My flying detective, Anabara Nolio, is a fighter.  I'm writing her character from what I know.  And the stuff I don't know directly, I spend a long time imagining, so that in the end, it's as if I know it.  

This is my book about how I got my judo black belt.  I'd love to tell you I also have a black belt in karate, but that would be pure fantasy.

Monday 25 November 2013


I love stained glass windows.  Everywhere I go I take photos of the coloured light that they shed on floors and walls.  Here's an example from Liverpool cathedral, right outside my front door:

And another from the fabulous church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which I visited in September:

In Wolf Tide I wanted stained glass windows that were magically engineered to contain moving figures.  I followed the thread of that idea to see where it went, and I found myself thinking that this could be part of University Library's ancient security system.  The stained glass figures were supposed to be armed to protect the library.  Over the centuries, though, they had fallen into disrepair.  My heroine, Anabara, is employed by the university to sort the security problems out.  For that she needs the help of a Fairy artisan.  But he does a rather more thorough restoration job than she'd bargained for...

...And now an eerie light gathered at the corridor mouth.  Jingle, jingle. Wind-chimes in a breeze.  Oh dear God. An angel. I’m trapped. It’s over. Snick-snick-snick, the peacock wings unfolded. It filled the arch­way. A sword in its hand. No escape. She backed away. It advanced. She stopped. It stopped. She could hear herself whimpering, couldn’t help herself. She cringed away again, it came on. And now her back was against the door of the Stacks. Still it advanced. All lit up as if by sunshine. A dozen colours spilled on to the walls and floor...

Saturday 23 November 2013

Welcome to the City Isle of Laridy...

Here's a sneak preview of how the first chapter starts...

A shout in the night: ‘Open up!’  Then a fist on the door.  Bang-bang-bang!  ‘Open up!  It’s the Guard!’
            Anabara lurched awake.  More hammering.  She snatched up her wool robe and stumbled downstairs.
            Five officers burst in.  Cold night clung to their uniforms.  Nets.  Iron stunning poles. 
‘What’s going on?’
‘Stand back.’  A grey-haired one flashed a badge.  ‘Border Control.  Requesting access to your property.  We’ve an illegal alien cornered out the back.  Go upstairs, please.  Now.  Could be dangerous.’  He opened the stairs door.
He thrust her through.  ‘Now, Ms Nolio.’  The door closed behind her.
For a moment she stood in the dark stairway, heart galloping.  She could hear them in her yard.  Shouts.  Over there.  Quick!  That’s it, close inNet!  Net!  Net! 
Dear God, what was out there?  Some kind of feral Fairy criminal?  She fled up the stairs to her room, got back under the quilt.  More shouts. What if it overpowered them and broke in?  She turned the lamp on to keep fear at bay.  Please, please let them catch it. 
Suddenly a scrabbling overhead.  It was on her roof!  Anabara bit back a scream.  Her eyes locked on to the porthole window in the roof.  It doesn’t open, it’s too small, nothing can get in!
A hand, clawing.  Oh dear God!  And a face.  A tiny pointed face. 
No!  It was a child.  A Fairy child.  For a second the black eyes stared into hers.  Alien eyes from a different reality, stranger and wilder than any hawk’s.  Then the creature was wrenched off the roof, nails scratching down tiles.  Gone.
A cheer from the yard below.  Back-slapping.  They were trouping through her house.  Job done.
A child.  Anabara pressed a hand to her mouth.  Five men armed with nets and irons to hunt down a child?  She felt sick.
‘Ms Nolio?’ a voice called up the stairs.  ‘All finished now, thanks.’
She trembled as she made her way back down, knees buckling on each step. 
It was the grey-haired Guard.  He saw her face and put a hand on her arm.  ‘Sorry, love.  I know, I know.  Rough business.’
‘But it was a child, Officer!’
‘Routine precaution.  Could have been an assassin using a cloaking charm.’
‘That’s ridiculous!  How likely is that?’ 
‘Still, safety regs—got to comply.  But we got the parents earlier, so yes, in all probability it was a genuine child.’  He gave her a little squeeze.  ‘We’ll have her back with Mum and Dad in no time, safe and sound, so don’t you fret.’
She snatched her arm away.  ‘Don’t patronise me, Officer!  I know you’re going to deport them.’
He looked at her, blew out a sigh.  ‘Well, let’s not get into all that now.  It’s been a long night.  Sorry to drag you out of bed.’
‘Don’t try and fob me off!  They’re refugees, they—’
‘Now, now.’  He had his hand up.  ‘If they want to cross, they have to go through the proper channels like everyone else, or we’d be overrun.  No,’ he made for the door.  ‘Not getting into it with you now.  I’m just doing my job.  Goodnight, Ms Nolio.  Thanks again for your co-operation.’
Co-operation?  It felt like collaboration. 
She shut the door after him and went back up to bed.  It was a long, long time before she fell asleep.  And when she finally did—that dream again.  The one where she’d put the baby in the cellar and forgotten about it.  And now it was too late, she knew it must have starved to death.
She lurched awake once more, cold with sweat.  Dawn.  Pale light through the porthole.  In the distance a shrine bell.  Gulls keened.  A mule cart rumbled past.  The city was waking up.  Slowly her pulse returned to normal.  She stared up at the window.  That tiny face.  Those black eyes.  There was nothing she could have done for it.  Nothing.  But it still felt like a betrayal. 

To find out what happens next, you can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1490904581

Friday 22 November 2013


Welcome to my new world! WOLF TIDE is my first fantasy novel, and my first book for young adults.  You can pre-order it from Amazon (paper version or Kindle) here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1490904581

It will be published on November 30th, and I'm having a launch party in Liverpool Cathedral.  This feels sort of appropriate, as my invented city of Laridy has a huge cathedral-like building on the top of a hill.  I got the idea from visits to Le Mont St Michel in France, though.  Or possibly Holy Island, off the coast of Northumberland.  Among other places.  Writers are magpies, basically.  We pinch bright sparkly ideas from all over the place.

More about where I get my ideas from later.  Or if you're impatient, over on the Greenbelt website: http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/blog/2013/11/wolf-tide-the-new-novel-from-catherine-fox/