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...

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/