New release: The Christmas Party

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. It’s not a tradition we have here in New Zealand, but I have actually attended a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner while I lived in Japan, and while that was probably non-traditional, it was a lot of fun. Thanksgiving this year would have felt very different if you’re used to celebrating with friends and family. I can sort of relate. I’ve been sick for most of this week, so I’ve been unable to socialise and have found myself really missing my friends. What I’ve started doing which is making a big difference has been to watch live streaming videos of people doing pretty repetitive tasks on YouTube. Listening to them chat about their day or week while I work on catching up on my to-do list helps me feel connected to the world.

When I worked in Japan, Christmas, which in my family, tends to be a big deal, was not a public holiday, and usually ended up being the last day of term. I realised that if I wanted things to feel like Christmas, I had to make the effort, because there would be none of the usual Christmas things going on. So I made sure I did something special on Christmas Day, whether that was cooking a ridiculously over the top dinner just for me (and then having amazing leftovers for the next few days), saving a treat for myself, like a book I really wanted to read but wasn’t allowed to open, or organising a chat or Skyping with family and friends. Last year, I had to work Christmas Day, so decided to make a new tradition for myself: watching The Addams Family movie Christmas Eve. I’m already looking forward to watching it again this year!

The reason for this post was not to tell everyone to go and watch The Addams Family, although you totally should. It was to let you know that The Christmas Party, Read by Candlelight #14 is now live on Amazon. 

The Christmas Party. 

 Tidings of comfort and—ghosts?

As the solitary inhabitant of a notoriously haunted house, Micah Evanovitch is braced for another miserable Christmas. He passes his days playing the piano, brooding on his failure to produce a sonata worthy of the woman he loved, and hiding from the world. When a wilful heiress decides his house is the perfect location for her spooky Christmas soiree, Micah’s very existence is threatened. Will the party provide Micah with the chance to put his past behind him—or further cement his failures?

Pippa Goodfellow has five thousand pounds a year and a simple wish: to scare the socks off her infuriatingly superior cousin Julian and his odious friend Bryant. But when her revenge threatens the professional reputation of her beloved Uncle, Pippa needs Micah’s help to ward off disaster. Can an eternal pessimist and hopeless optimist ever find common ground? Or will Pippa’s Christmas Party end in Christmas tragedy for all? 

The Christmas Party is the fourteenth in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone novellas featuring an LGBTQIA+ cast. Pairs nicely with Christmas mince pies and ginger beer. Read now to help revive the tradition of ghost stories on Christmas Eve.

Amazon customers,  you can grab The Christmas Party here.

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

The Christmas Party early bird release.

This is two days behind schedule, but I’m not beating myself up about that. November has been an incredibly difficult month for my entire family.

Although this is late, I’m actually really proud of myself for putting myself ahead of my publishing schedule. I’m pretty bad at recognising when I need to take a break, but there were a couple of times this month when I could have worked on writing or editing, but instead I realised that I needed to care for myself—and I did! And honestly, I think that is the reason I am able to bring you The Christmas Party today. If I’d pressed ahead and pushed myself, I might be in even worse shape than I am right now. 

So yes, breaking news—taking care of yourself is important, at this time of year more than any other! We might be heading into summer here in the Southern Hemisphere, but for most of you reading this, temperatures are cold, and it’s really easy to get run down at this time of year. I hope that you’re able to balance the inevitable end of year busy with the need to be kind to yourself and make time for what is most important to you.

To help you with that, a Read by Candlelight story that, unlike my last release, is not going to make you cry (not unless things have gone terribly wrong)—The Christmas Party!

The Christmas Party. 

 Tidings of comfort and—ghosts?

As the solitary inhabitant of a notoriously haunted house, Micah Evanovitch is braced for another miserable Christmas. He passes his days playing the piano, brooding on his failure to produce a sonata worthy of the woman he loved, and hiding from the world. When a wilful heiress decides his house is the perfect location for her spooky Christmas soiree, Micah’s very existence is threatened. Will the party provide Micah with the chance to put his past behind him—or further cement his failures?

Pippa Goodfellow has five thousand pounds a year and a simple wish: to scare the socks off her infuriatingly superior cousin Julian and his odious friend Bryant. But when her revenge threatens the professional reputation of her beloved Uncle, Pippa needs Micah’s help to ward off disaster. Can an eternal pessimist and hopeless optimist ever find common ground? Or will Pippa’s Christmas Party end in Christmas tragedy for all? 

The Christmas Party is the fourteenth in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone novellas featuring an LGBTQIA+ cast. Pairs nicely with Christmas mince pies and ginger beer. Read now to help revive the tradition of ghost stories on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas Party went out to my Patreon supporters already, and is available to purchase as an epub on my store until November 28th NZT. Amazon customers, you can preorder it here

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

A goodbye bouquet.

It is a very sad day in for the extended Read By Candlelight pet family. Two Sundays ago, we said goodbye to our little dog Tui. Today, we heard that Charlie, another RBC veteran, has gone. Knowing both of them, they are in the dog equivalent of heaven, eating everything in sight. Both were old dogs in declining health, and both went without pain or trauma—but it is still very hard to say goodbye to such good friends. 

I do not want this blog to become known for depressing animal stories, so I want to share instead something that I think is lovely. Last weekend, a lady that had met my grandma once before showed up at our house with a bouquet for her, ‘knowing how much she must be missing her little dog.’ Mum says this is a proper Victorian style bouquet. 

What struck me immediately was the inclusion of Forget-Me-Not. This flower was one of the first I learned the name of and used to grow wild in our garden in Nelson. The giver stuck with the blue and white theme for her bouquet, but some of the flowers have meanings in the Victorian language of Flowers ( the A-Z of the Secret Victorian Era Language of Flowers ). Anemone means Forsaken, Angelica Inspiration. The bluebells symbolise constancy (a good way to express a dog’s loyalty), Pink symbolises boldness. Scabious means unfortunate love (um). Daisies have connotations of innocence and purity, and Columbine (apparently called Granny’s bonnet here) indicates folly. 

Having looked up the meanings, I think the giver chose the flowers for their colours rather than their meaning, but this was a really lovely present and has given grandma and the rest of us, a lot of joy. It’s a really restful combination of flowers and while we miss our dog a lot, it is really nice to know that someone was thinking of us. I have not met the lady who gave grandma the bouquet, but it’s obvious that she has once had a pet. Isn’t it kind of amazing, that, even when they’re gone, our animals continue to bring us together? 

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

New release: The Lord and the Banshee

I’ve noticed that a book on preorder goes live at 7:00 pm New Zealand time. This is not usually a problem, but New Zealand is also a day ahead, so as I write this it is evening, October 31st and I keep having to answer the door to trick or treaters. 

Halloween is a pretty new phenomenon in New Zealand, or at least it seems that way to me. When I was a kid, we lived in the country and there was enough distance between houses to rule trick or treating out, even if it had been acceptable (there was a push back against adopting ‘American’ traditions/culture). I was in my third year of university before I went trick or treating for the first time (I was working as a live-in nanny for an American family), and living in Japan before I really got the Halloween bug. 

This year, I’m volunteering at the Ngaio Marsh house over the weekend, so I’ve had a pretty full day and am quite happy to be on door duty while my niece and nephew, their friends and my sister and her friend take them around the neighbourhood. It is my nephew Jack’s first experience trick or treating and he is hyped. 

Anyway, taking advantage of a momentary lull, The Lord and the Banshee is out! The book that nobody wants is on its way to your kindle, if you preordered, or is available for purchase on Amazon. If you are new to this series, this is not the one you want to start with. Apologies in advance! This was the story that wanted to be written. The next one will be happier!

THE LORD AND THE BANSHEE.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen.

Thomas Cross, Lord of Foxwood, has received a double blow. The discovery of his terminal illness is followed immediately by the news that his longterm partner Pip is marked for death by the banshee of Connaught Castle. There is no cure for Cross’s condition, but there may be a way to save Pip—at the cost of his remaining time.

Recruiting his adopted son Julian to aid him, Cross travels to Ireland to free Pip from the banshee. As each successive encounter with the banshee leaves him closer to death, Cross grows more dependent on a dangerous fairy relic. But the gifts of the fair folk come at a price. What is the cost of Pip’s safety?

The Lord and the Banshee is the thirteenth in the series of Read by Candlelight gothic novellas featuring an ever-decreasing cast of LGBTQIA characters. Pairs well with chocolate and regret. Read now to hate everything.

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

The Lord and the Banshee: early bird release

I’ve got mixed feeling about this news. Normally, a new book is something to celebrate. However, this is not a book I think anyone is looking forward to! 

If you’ve been reading the Read by Candlelight series in publishing order, than you’ve already noticed that Cross is… absent…in later books. That he predeceased Pip was not exactly a secret. I knew that I wanted to tell the story of how Cross died at some point, but I thought that it would be a long while in the future. I was not expecting to write this book this year. This book had other plans and here we are!

This was definitely one of the more challenging of the Read by Candlelight books to write. I really hope that it is not as challenging to read! This is the early bird release. The Lord and the Banshee went up on Patreon a few hours ago,  and will be available as an epub on my store until October 30th. Amazon customers, you can preorder it here.

THE LORD AND THE BANSHEE.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen.

Thomas Cross, Lord of Foxwood, has received a double blow. The discovery of his terminal illness is followed immediately by the news that his longterm partner Pip is marked for death by the banshee of Connaught Castle. There is no cure for Cross’s condition, but there may be a way to save Pip—at the cost of his remaining time.

Recruiting his adopted son Julian to aid him, Cross travels to Ireland to free Pip from the banshee. As each successive encounter with the banshee leaves him closer to death, Cross grows more dependent on a dangerous fairy relic. But the gifts of the fair folk come at a price. What is the cost of Pip’s safety?

The Lord and the Banshee is the thirteenth in the series of Read by Candlelight gothic novellas featuring an ever-decreasing cast of LGBTQIA characters. Pairs well with chocolate and regret. Read now to hate everything.

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

Wham Bam Author Jam 2020

Two big events happened in New Zealand on Saturday. We had the final day of voting and the results of the 2020 General election (we now have the queerest parliament in the world), and the Wham Bam Author Jam took place in Christchurch! Organised by author Stacey Broadbent (who writes M/M as Cyan Tayse), for the past three years, the Wham Bam Author Jam has provided a chance for authors and readers to interact. The event attracts authors from Australia and the North Island as well the respective ends of the South Island and a really good local crowd. I signed up for the first year but wasn’t able to make it, went last year and had a ball. I missed the sign up date for this year, but another author had to cancel so I nabbed a table last minute. It was another awesome event.

There is something very special about talking about books and stories with a crowd of readers and writers. Last year, the Wham Bam Author Jam was where I gained the confidence to stop answering people who asked me about my books by saying, ‘Well, that one’s not very good’ or ‘You probably don’t want to read that one.’ A lady who brought a book from me last year returned and we remembered each other which was very cool! My table was between Amy Blythe, awesome author and writing friend on my left, and the Christchurch Writers, more awesome friends, on the right. 

I sold nine books this year, which feels pretty good! That covers the cost of my table, but not the cost of printing and shipping the books to New Zealand. I also ended up coming home with four new books, so I can’t say that the event was a financial success. If you’re UK or US based, or have a really big fanbase, you might be able to make these sorts of events cover their costs. However, even though they’re maybe not the most financial choice I could make, I want to keep doing these events, for three reasons. 

1. The energy that you get from interacting with book enthusiasts at these events! I spent probably as much or even more time chatting with my fellow authors as I did with readers, but there is this amazing energy that happens at these sorts of live events. I came away with a massive boost, wanting to write all the books (and also with quite an expansive to read list). 

2. Author networking! It’s really good knowing what other people are writing. It feels really good when someone comes to my table and looks interested in my vampires, to say ‘oh, you know who else writes vampires?’ and then point them towards another author. It’s also good, when a reader asks if a book meets a certain requirement, to be able to say, ‘no, it doesn’t, but boy, does this author have you sorted.’ Yes, this happens with authors you know online too, but I don’t know—I think that I am better at making those connections once I’ve met the author, heard them talk about their books and that allows me to place their work better. There’s also the fact that you can see what promotional ideas various authors have and get some great tips, and share your tips. I’ve actually made several new author friends which is pretty cool!

3. Representation. A guy came up to my table and thanked me for writing LGBTQ+ fiction because there is an absolute dearth of it in New Zealand bookstores. We geeked out about Qtopia in Christchurch which has some really great youth initiatives, and he told me about a fundraiser they’re doing, and I loaded him up with bookmarks, magnets, brochures and a postcard, along with tons of recs for books. Last year, there was a lesbian couple who were astonished to realise there was a rainbow writing community in this country. I figured out a while ago that in writing my stories, I’m hoping to give others the community and support and validation that I didn’t have for a big chunk of my life. It has only just occurred to me that by taking my books out into the world through these sorts of events, I am providing that representation in a different way. So that is extremely cool and I really want to do more of it. 

There are a few things I want to do better for next time! I want to get some stands for my books—I’ve got so many of them now, that they really do take up a whole table, so it would be nice to have a plan to display them. Also on my Wishlist: one of those nifty pop up banners and a big table border thing. I also need to do my ordering and inventory when I’m home and can see what I have on hand or get better at tracking my inventory. I shot a quick video of my table which was a lot of fun, so while I think it was not a bad effort, I do think there is room for improvement.

I also forgot to swing by the supermarket for snacks before hand. I did okay on the food front, but really struggled to stay hydrated, ending the afternoon with a dehydration headache. This was on me—I didn’t want to leave my table to refill my water bottle and wound up getting really thirsty. So yeah, next time, I will bring more drinks with me!

Look what the mailman dragged in…

Jasper Carruthers has turned deciphering smudged addresses and avoiding conflict into a fine art. A crate from Egypt contains a problem he cannot return to sender: a mummified cat sought by a desperate thief. Failure to deliver the cat will give the Postmaster General—Jasper’s vengeful son—the excuse he needs to oust Jasper from the postal service.

Jasper’s attempts to deliver the package attract the interest of Captain Candy, an insufferable bore under the mistaken impression that Jasper tolerates him. Even worse: the cat does not seem to realise she’s dead. Jasper’s not sure if he needs an Egyptologist or an exorcist. There’s only one thing he’s certain of: he needs help.

Forced to trust Candy with his secret, Jasper may at last have found something worth fighting for—but can he deliver the package before the cat lets herself out of the bag?

The Dead Letter Office is book twelve in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone Gothic novellas featuring an expanding cast of LGBTQIA+ characters. Pairs well with a hot pot of tea and a biscuit.

The Dead Letter Office is currently available on Amazon here. 

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

Surprise author reading!

Instead of a blog post today, I’ve got a short reading from The Dead Letter Office. Enjoy!

Hello YouTube, it’s been a while!

Did you enjoy the reading? Want to see more? Got a particular scene or character you’d like me to read? Let me know!

Look what the mailman dragged in…

Jasper Carruthers has turned deciphering smudged addresses and avoiding conflict into a fine art. A crate from Egypt contains a problem he cannot return to sender: a mummified cat sought by a desperate thief. Failure to deliver the cat will give the Postmaster General—Jasper’s vengeful son—the excuse he needs to oust Jasper from the postal service.

Jasper’s attempts to deliver the package attract the interest of Captain Candy, an insufferable bore under the mistaken impression that Jasper tolerates him. Even worse: the cat does not seem to realise she’s dead. Jasper’s not sure if he needs an Egyptologist or an exorcist. There’s only one thing he’s certain of: he needs help.

Forced to trust Candy with his secret, Jasper may at last have found something worth fighting for—but can he deliver the package before the cat lets herself out of the bag?

The Dead Letter Office is book twelve in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone Gothic novellas featuring an expanding cast of LGBTQIA+ characters. Pairs well with a hot pot of tea and a biscuit.

The Dead Letter Office is currently available on Amazon here. 

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

The Baxter and Maisie double-team

As is now Read by Candlelight tradition, I’m going to introduce the pets that Read by Candlelight is dedicated to. If I’d been thinking ahead, I would have dedicated the book to Cora, the most ghostlike of all the cats I have housesat. Instead, I went with Baxter and Maisie for their contributions to the editing process. 

Baxter and Maisie belong to a writing friend, Jillian Barnes, who, after several attempts at a family holiday were thwarted, took off with her husband for an amazing caravan adventure leaving me with Baxter and Maisie.

Baxter, a seven-month-old German short haired pointer and Labrador cross, was full on, from the moment he woke up at seven in the morning, until the moment he put himself to bed, usually around seven to eight pm at night. He was a lot of fun, but I learned fast that he was not a dog that could be left to his own devices. He did not enjoy being alone, even for so short a thing as me needing the bathroom. Even when we were in the same room, I had to keep my wits about me. More than once, I was really into working or editing, only to realise there was an ominous crunching sound coming from somewhere in the room. Baxter chomped on a gunboat, the lid of a coffee keep cup, countless cabbage tree leaves, a few sticks, his toys, the replacement toys, and a beautiful crochet blanket that Jill had created… Yeah.

Baxter holding a whopping great stick.

In order to keep up with Baxter, it was necessary to take him for lots of walks and play. Fortunately, there was an amazing park nearby with a dog park. Baxter loved haring around the park, bouncing all over the place and playing with the other dogs and they loved him too. Watching the dogs, I was really impressed how, no matter how excited they got, the dogs always remembered to tailor their energy to who they were playing with. Baxter preferred to tussle with dogs his size or a bit bigger, but when he played with smaller dogs, he never hurt them. 

Baxter was really popular with the other dog owners too, many complimenting his coat or his good nature. I really enjoyed basking in Baxter’s associated glow. I also got to witness many fun dog park shenanigans. There was a yoga class who positioned themselves right at the point where the two halves of the dog park meet up. There is a hedge running down the centre of the park, with two gaps at either end. These gaps ended up channeling wave after wave of excited dogs directly into the yoga group, with very little warning. 

Baxter and I would pair playing at the dog park with an extended walk around the park. I really enjoyed being out and about with him. I don’t like walking when it’s just me, but having a dog just adds so much to the walking experience. That we were in absolutely gorgeous surroundings, and the weather, with only two exceptions was amazing, didn’t hurt either! I lost working time, but I definitely gained energy and endorphins from my walks with Baxter. Sadly I have not managed to keep this habit up—I will have to find some excuse to hang out with Baxter again!

When Baxter put himself to bed, I quietly packed my laptop and myself down the hall to my bedroom. A few minutes after I’d got settled in, Maisie would appear and get herself settled in. She preferred to sit on my collar bone, but generally, after I failed to stay still enough for her satisfactions, she would migrate to sitting on my stomach, or next to me on the bed. 

Maisie and me!

Baxter was a bit too exuberant for Maisie’s tastes, so they occupied different halves of the house. Since I spent most of the day with Baxter, Maisie was seemingly determined to make up for lost time. She was not shy, getting up close and cuddly and generally just being the sort of cuddly every cat owner dreams about…until she’d had enough and it was off to to stalk the night streets of Christchurch. 

Baxter and Maisie might have been a bit of a handful, and while I did not get as much writing done as I had hoped, I had such a blast, I did not even care—the best kind of housesit! 

Look what the mailman dragged in…

Jasper Carruthers has turned deciphering smudged addresses and avoiding conflict into a fine art. A crate from Egypt contains a problem he cannot return to sender: a mummified cat sought by a desperate thief. Failure to deliver the cat will give the Postmaster General—Jasper’s vengeful son—the excuse he needs to oust Jasper from the postal service.

Jasper’s attempts to deliver the package attract the interest of Captain Candy, an insufferable bore under the mistaken impression that Jasper tolerates him. Even worse: the cat does not seem to realise she’s dead. Jasper’s not sure if he needs an Egyptologist or an exorcist. There’s only one thing he’s certain of: he needs help.

Forced to trust Candy with his secret, Jasper may at last have found something worth fighting for—but can he deliver the package before the cat lets herself out of the bag?

The Dead Letter Office is book twelve in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone Gothic novellas featuring an expanding cast of LGBTQIA+ characters. Pairs well with a hot pot of tea and a biscuit.

The Dead Letter Office is currently available on Amazon here. 

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

New release: The Dead Letter Office

Happy Amazon release day to The Dead Letter Office! If you’ve preordered this book, it should have made its way to your kindle already—I think. We started daylight saving on Sunday, and I’m still adjusting. 

It’s been a long week! In addition to daylight saving, it’s the school holidays here. I wound up babysitting my niece and nephew, and wow. I already had a huge amount of respect for parents, but even more so now. Two days, and I am wiped out, with an energy hangover I just cannot shake. That said, it was a ton of fun! Highlights include:

– taking my niece to a cat cafe!

– visiting the Christchurch Museum for their 150th anniversary and getting birthday cupcakes!

– my nephew interrupting a heated discussion niece and I were having about whether or not she was going to wear her nightie to bed (I was arguing yes, she needed to put her nightie on so she could go to bed, my niece’s argument was ‘watch me do a rolly-polly’), my nephew walked into the room with a bottle of HP sauce and just said ‘Picnic?’ 

Speaking of cats, without any further ado—The Dead Letter Office! 

The Dead Letter Office

Look what the mailman dragged in…

Jasper Carruthers has turned deciphering smudged addresses and avoiding conflict into a fine art. A crate from Egypt contains a problem he cannot return to sender: a mummified cat sought by a desperate thief. Failure to deliver the cat will give the Postmaster General—Jasper’s vengeful son—the excuse he needs to oust Jasper from the postal service.

Jasper’s attempts to deliver the package attract the interest of Captain Candy, an insufferable bore under the mistaken impression that Jasper tolerates him. Even worse: the cat does not seem to realise she’s dead. Jasper’s not sure if he needs an Egyptologist or an exorcist. There’s only one thing he’s certain of: he needs help.

Forced to trust Candy with his secret, Jasper may at last have found something worth fighting for—but can he deliver the package before the cat lets herself out of the bag?

The Dead Letter Office is book twelve in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone Gothic novellas featuring an expanding cast of LGBTQIA+ characters. Pairs well with a hot pot of tea and a biscuit.

Read The Dead Letter Office on Amazon now!

In other news, I finished the draft of The Lord and the Banshee—only two weeks behind schedule. It was really tough to write! I joked about needing a support group, but it was only with copious amounts of whinging at other writer friends that I made it through. Thank you, friends! 

That said, I finally did what I have been meaning to do for years, but never did because I couldn’t think of a good enough name—created a Facebook group to hang out in! If you’re interested in book banter, sneak peeks of future books, book recs and general chat (and who doesn’t like general chat?), come hang out at The St. Kevern’s Saints. You can check out the cover for The Lord and the Banshee. 

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.

Researching the Mail

One of my favourite parts of any new Read by Candlelight book is the research. No matter what  the subject, I know I’m going to learn something new and unexpected. Case in point, the other day I was researching Victorian sleeping aids and ended up discovering that Queen Victoria used medicinal cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps. How cool is that? 

Writing The Dead Letter Office was a particular challenge, because while there are a ton of resources online focused on the Victorian period, for some reason, the Post Office got passed by. There is a museum dedicated to the Post in the UK, but alas, at the time I was doing my research, they were closed due to Covid. Google let me down, but that was okay, because on Project Gutenberg I hit the jackpot.

Envelopes poking out from a brass post box on a red door.
Photo by Sarah Fplug

If you haven’t heard of Project Gutenberg, you’re missing out. This is an online collection of ebooks of older books that are out of copyright. While they’ve got plenty of Classics—Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Wilkie Collins, etc.—what I find most valuable about Project Gutenberg is that they have a great collection of all the other stuff too. You can find dozens of didactic Victorian literature for young girls, for example, or browse Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household management (my favourite is the recipe for a sponge cake that includes sending your kitchenmaid into a cool part of the garden with a whisk to beat your sponge for half an hour). The best part is that these books are freely available for use, 

Project Gutenberg is where I first stumbled across the ghost stories of M. R. James, and was a life saver for me when I was in Japan and starved of English reading material. And, if you happen to be writing Victorian or Edwardian period fiction, the database is an amazing source of period source material. 

I have never in my life been on top of literary trends or current events. It is pure chance that the Dead Letter Office is coming out at a time when the postal service—particularly in the US—is in the media and receiving some long over due attention. Researching the postal service, I was astonished by the long history of the post, and its importance to daily life for so many people for so many centuries. 

There are quite a few books about the Post Office and mail services on Project Gutenberg, including General Instructions for the Guidance of Post Office Inspectors in the Dominion of Canada, and many looking at the history of the Post Office in various countries. My recommendation is Ten Years Among the Mail Bags. This is an account of a special agent, working for the US Postal Service, of the methods he used to detect and to thwart mail fraud. There is a lot of moralising (a LOT of moralising), but some interesting stories that really bring home just how important the mail was pre-internet. It is a good reminder of why the post is so important—and why, even in the age of email and text messages, we need to support our post offices and mail carriers, and fight to preserve them. 

Look what the mailman dragged in…

Jasper Carruthers has turned deciphering smudged addresses and avoiding conflict into a fine art. A crate from Egypt contains a problem he cannot return to sender: a mummified cat sought by a desperate thief. Failure to deliver the cat will give the Postmaster General—Jasper’s vengeful son—the excuse he needs to oust Jasper from the postal service.

Jasper’s attempts to deliver the package attract the interest of Captain Candy, an insufferable bore under the mistaken impression that Jasper tolerates him. Even worse: the cat does not seem to realise she’s dead. Jasper’s not sure if he needs an Egyptologist or an exorcist. There’s only one thing he’s certain of: he needs help.

Forced to trust Candy with his secret, Jasper may at last have found something worth fighting for—but can he deliver the package before the cat lets herself out of the bag?

The Dead Letter Office is book twelve in the Read by Candlelight series of standalone Gothic novellas featuring an expanding cast of LGBTQIA+ characters. Pairs well with a hot pot of tea and a biscuit.

The Dead Letter Office is currently available on Amazon here. 

LGBTQIA+ fiction with a twist

Gillian St. Kevern

To stay up to date with my new releases and receive a free book, sign up for my email updates here.