The Black Hand, vol. 7

You know how sometimes you screw up dates? Well, I released my August edition of this newsletter at the end of July – like, how did that happen??? I’ve been in lockdown with my family so often, and for so long, I guess time is a bit elastic right now, at least in my head. This is the reason it feels like a long time between drinks for this newsletter – I literally sent the last one out six weeks ago.


So, my sincere apologies for messing with the timeline. Now – onward!

Thieves’ cant

Thieves (and other folk of the criminal persuasion) often have their own language.

It’s true! I played with this a bit in the CIRCUS HEARTS series – not only did the carnival folk in those books have their own slang, they sometimes used parlari, or circus cant (you can find out more in the Author’s Notes of those books). Zep Deal, in CIRCUS HEARTS: All Aces, used a type of thieves’ cant to describe his childhood work as a pickpocket.

So this article in JStor completely fascinated me: it gives details about how a language known only to criminals may have developed, and cant’s strange allure – and how it stayed secret for so long. In some instances, rogues initiated into the canting society had to swear a solemn oath: “I will not teach anyone to Cant, nor will I disclose ought of our mysteries to them, although they flaug me to the death.”

Title Reveal: The Killing Code

Huzzah! I finally get to share the brand new title for my Fall 2022 release!

Formerly known as Arlington Hall, the book will henceforth be called…*drumroll*… THE KILLING CODE.

I hope you love the new title as much as I do! You can find out more about THE KILLING CODE (including a preliminary blurb) at my brand new website. I’m using #thekillingcode tags in all my social news for the book, if you want to keep up.

The book is not up on GoodReads yet, but I promise it will be soon. And once I have word about covers, and excerpts, and exact release dates, I’ll let you know!

Website reno

Speaking of ‘brand new website’… Yep, my website has had a very lovely renovation, and I encourage you to all go have a look (at my ginormous face, lol). Poke around a bit, see how you like the new colours on the walls and the new drapes, and let me know what you think!

Are Octopuses from Outer Space?

This article kind of stops you in your tracks for the title alone – Controversial Study Has A New Spin on the Otherworldliness of Octopuses. Basically, a group of 33 scientists (including a respected biologist and a world-renowned astrophysicist) have published a paper claiming that octopuses may be…aliens.

And honestly, once you’ve read the article and watched this video, you might be inclined to agree with them.

Amazing books

I have three books for you this month, and each of them is well worth a read!

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson – is an absolute thrill-ride in the craziest sense of the word (and has curious links to the octopus article I just posted above). A bunch of teenagers in the small tourist town of Turner Falls start flipping out, violently. A bunch of other teenagers realise that something weird is going on, and it has a lot to do with the secretive science lab just outside of town…Think Stranger Things meets World War Z, but way more intense. I rec this *highly*, it was a terrifying, gory, hilarious page-turner.

Dark Rise by CS Pacat – OMG, IT’S NEARLY HERE!! The book I have been waiting for all year… Yes, this book was written by a friend, so I’m biased, but honestly, I’ve heard enough about it from the author herself to know that I’m going to *absolutely love it*, and I truly cannot wait for the release on September 28 – arrrggghhh, just mainline this straight into my veins!!

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – THE MASTER OF BADASS SHIT is almost ready to release his magnum opus, and I *cannot wait* to read this book. In fact, I’m not the only one: three other people in my house are all claiming dibs on this book, so I know when it finally gets delivered THERE WILL BE BLOODSHED, because we’ll all be fighting over it at once. Maybe I should’ve ordered more copies, hmm…Anyway, GO GET A COPY.

Currently reading

Jack Reacher by Lee Child – I don’t really have to say which book in the series, do I? I mean, you know that, like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t just eat/read one.

When I first started reading Reacher, I wasn’t convinced. It just seemed…really a guy thing? But each book somehow becomes more unputdownable the further you dive in, and now I’m in a vortex of six-foot-five, ex-Military Police derring-do, and I’m not sure how I’m going to climb my way out of it…

If you have a cure for the Reacher addiction, let me know. Until then, I’ll see you when I’ve finished the last in the series (OH WAIT, his *brother* is writing them now too? WELP, THIS WILL NEVER END).

None Shall Sleep sequel – coming soon

Here’s my official announcement: While there is currently no traditional publishing plan for the sequel to NONE SHALL SLEEP, I have written half the sequel already. It’s going really well! And I really want you all to have a chance to read it.

So the plan is, I’ll be releasing the entire book as a serialised novel on Substack (if Salman Rushdie can do it, well heck, so can I).

I’ll be providing more details over the next few months, but the book will be available to a paid sub-section of my newsletter. Readers will receive 2-3 chapters per week, until the book is done. I’ll let you know as soon as sign-ups are ready to go.

I’ll be keeping the payment as low as possible, so it’s accessible. You’ll be able to sign up at any time in the publishing process – so yes, I guess you could sign up when the entire book is done, but you’ll probably be waiting a while (the book will have at least 40 chapters, so at 2 chapters per week, it’ll take 5-6 months to complete). At the end of the serialisation, the book will be published through my own imprint, Bearded Lady Press, as an ebook.

Friends, you know me – I’ve trad published, and I’ve self-published, and I love to try new things, so this feels like an exciting new way to get my work out to readers. And the best thing about it is that you get to read the NONE SHALL SLEEP sequel, and I don’t have to put it in a drawer (which would make me sad, because this book really rocks). I’m just so excited to think of this book going out into the world, and I hope you’re excited too!

The best thing you can do to keep me on track is to spread the word to everyone who enjoyed NONE SHALL SLEEP that the sequel is on its way…in an easy-to-read, chapter-by-chapter newsletter format delivered right into your inbox twice a week. When I have more info about sign-ups, I’ll share it asap - so if people want advance info, the best way to get it is to join my newsletter list. And between now and then, I’ll be sharing excerpts and early chapters here in this free list, to make new subscribers feel welcome and so you can all get a sense of what’s in store.

What does the future hold for Emma and Travis? How does a new case affect their partnership? How does Kristin Gutmunsson play a role? And what is going on with Simon? This book will have some answers for you.

Stay tuned for more news, but until then – hooray!

None Shall Sleep paperbacks

While we’re talking NONE SHALL SLEEP - the paperback release has been pushed back a little for Reasons, but I will return soon to tell you about it.

Suffice to say, the Reasons are Good Reasons, so keep an eye out for the release late September/early October.

What I’m watching

DARK: it’s freaking amazing - a mix of crime, mystery, and twisty time-travel SF - and I’m officially obsessed. It’s the first show I’ve ever watched that made me want to draw a map to work out how all the threads are pulling together (there apparently IS a map available? Imma gonna look it up). I’m watching it with my two older sons (yes, we’re watching it in German with the subtitles, it’s cool), and we spend hours afterward dissecting each episode.


This month’s title is LAKESEDGE by Lyndall Clipstone, and the cover gives off major Crimson Peaks vibes – go have a look on our FB group page! You can join in bookclub any time, and we keep it supercasual, so come along and welcome.

Celebrate Reading

The Literature Centre isn’t letting a little thing like covid get it down – Celebrate Reading is definitely going ahead this year, whether by hook or by crook (or by Zoom).

I’ll be appearing at the conference in October, along with some other amazing Australian authors – Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Karen Foxlee, Barry Jonsberg, Tristan Bancks, Meg Caddy, and Michael Gerard Bauer.

You can find out more about the lineup, plus buy tix right here.

A recipe for chai

While we’ve been stuck at home, we’ve developed a lovely little family ritual of making chai from scratch every day. It’s gotten to the point where I’m a bit addicted to chai, and I’m completely okay with that.

So here’s my chai recipe, if you’d like to give it a try:


In a small saucepan, boil together:

2 cups of water

4 tspns of loose-leaf black tea

Half a thumb’s worth of cinnamon stick

2 smallish slices of fresh ginger

12 crushed cardamom pods

6 cloves (not garlic cloves! just, y’know, cloves cloves)

Once the brew is well boiled, add:

4 tspns of condensed milk (stir in well!)

Enough evaporated (canned) milk to make the brew milky to your taste.

Let the chai bubble up (don’t let it boil over!)

Then strain it into mugs. If it needs more milk, add a little more.

I haven’t tried this recipe with milk-substitutes, but you might like to. Enjoy!

That’s all for this month, and I really hope you’re going well and staying safe wherever you are in the world. Please remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, and get vaxxed - for yourself, your community, and the ones you care about. Have a good September, happy reading, and we’ll chat again soon!