The first draft of ‘The Rat King’ is done. It needs some work, and will definitely need a polish, but I’m happy with the result. It has a real ‘X-Files’ monster of the week vibe to me, and writing the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, it was nice to write something where I didn’t have to think too hard on its place in the Darkwood world–which has been an added trial in writing those next tales. The experience of writing this Victorian period story was sharpened by reading the fantastic book ‘Voices from Dickens’ London’ by Michael Paterson. I picked it up from a bargain book shop ages ago, and realised the other day I hadn’t read it. It’s not quite the setting for Darkwood and Hobbs as it’s largely early to mid Victorian, whereas my stories are late Victorian, but it uses writing from the time to paint a picture of Victorian London–and not the sanitised Christmas card Victorian London either, very much a warts and all Victorian London, which I love.
The blurb tease for ‘The Rat King’ is:
“Death by rat? Darkwood suspects foul play in the death of charity members. But can rats really be the cause? And if they are, who, or what, is driving them–and why?“
I have had a pop at doing the cover–and it looks awful, so I’m not sharing that here just yet. It needs work. It actually needs me to be an artist, or to have a budget for paying for a professional cover artist. Neither of those are likely to happen, so I will have to see what I come up with and hope people truly don’t judge a book by its cover.
As for the writing though, if you want a sneak peak of the beginning of the first draft, then read on…
“Man has progressed from our migrant hunter gatherer ancestors, pitched against wild lands and predators, and armed only with crude tools of stone and metal and the sheer will to survive. The modern Imperial man has staked his claim to the farthest reaches of the world; defiant against cowing cold and withering heat, riding waves, forging through thick forests, blasting through mountains, toppling opposition, supplanting beliefs, taming savages and hunting the most primal of beasts. This driving force has seen man conquer all, leaving him the only predator man truly needs to fear. Yet, the undoing of powerful man can come not from the slow slip of grasp from overreaching, or the bloody struggle of revolution, no, as we have seen before, civilisations can fall by the most unexpected of agencies; lands unknown which hold threats through unreliable seasons, instability or Vulcan forces, or that most invisible of reapers—pestilence.
London, the heart and bastion of Empire, its ancient age insisting permanence upon our consideration of the Great City, yet, as with all gathered dwellings since the dawn of man, it is shared, it is overrun by another species, one so beneath us we consider it a mere nuisance, a pest—the rat in our warehouses, the rat on the street corner, the rat running beside us, the rat beneath our feet, the rat in our walls, the rat in our pantry, the rat never far from our feet. We might never consider ourselves—man and woman and child—already being so outnumbered in our home, town and city, yet if this force needed only one intelligence to marshal it… What a force for destruction would be harnessed and unleashed.
That was the potential threat Darkwood and I—and indeed all of London—faced in this most curious and frightening encounter…“
This tale is getting a bit of priority over the others, as now I have decided that each run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ will be 10 tales long, I’m going to slip this into the first run as number 9, right between ‘The Spindly-Snatcher’ which hints at a bleak future for Darkwood and Hobbs, and ‘The Conspiracies of Shadow & Fire’, which is something of a prequel for the series. I thought a business as normal horror would fit nicely. I’ll be editing this and I hope it will be out in the first half of 2019. If anyone is an avid reader and has a good eye for grammar and would like to beta-read, then please let me know. You might find your name being dropped in the story and there will definitely be a ‘thank you’ printed with the story when it’s released. Contact me here, or on my Facebook or Twitter account if you’re interested.