And don’t forget to use the coupon code Balance2020 at checkout. Note the capital B in Balance there, people.
It’s both a tremendously exciting and a terrifying time for me, as my debut novella now has a release date. On 28 April, The Balance will be available in all the usual online stockists, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and so forth. The early release eBook and audiobook versions are available now, with versions appearing on Apple books, Audible and so on in the coming days and weeks. US readers can pre-order the paperback here. There are currently some problems with the Amazon listing of the book, so Kindle users will need to buy direct from the publisher at the link above.
Here’s the back cover synopsis for The Balance:
When myth becomes nightmare … The price of blood is always blood.
Natalia’s in trouble. She only looked away for a second, and now her brother’s hurt. Her relationship with her mother is fractured, her brother’s condition is deteriorating, and her only hope lays deep in the unforgiving forest. A secret spoken only in whispers offers a way out. But when help comes in occult forms a sacrifice may be the only way to restore the balance.
Humanity and nature collide in The Balance by Kev Harrison, a modern reimagining of the Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga, set in Cold War Poland.
Though I’ve now lived and am very much settled in Portugal, I spent three incredible years of my life living and working in Poland. It was a place I knew little or nothing about when I arrived and one that shall now remain close to my heart and forever feel like home.
The person of Baba Yaga is just one of a multitude of characters woven into the fascinating (and often terrifying) folk lore of the Slavic nations. It’s easy to understand how dark folk tales manage to remain so vividly remembered and so present in modern culture when you consider the history of the place.
Few nations have had their borders redrawn as often as Poland and, of course, the scars of both World War II and its status as a Soviet client state throughout the cold war are particularly raw wounds. A friend of mine told me once, as I left the Schindler museum (from where Oscar Schindler saved thousands from execution) in a state of shocked silence, “You learn about history from books. We learn about it from our grandfathers.” Of course, a great many from Great Britain suffered immensely and gave their lives in the second world war, but the stories of Nazi occupation and the quasi-occupied state that followed liberation, with permanent states of rationing, corruption and constant fear for one’s life, explained much about the psyche of the people of the country. They also explained to me the way folk stories, myths and legends have retained their presence in society until today.
I chose this period of the Cold War, in a rural town, in the heart of a harsh Eastern European winter, as the perfect setting for supplies to run short and for desperation to lead people back to the old ways.
I’ll be writing more about The Balance in the coming weeks before the paperback release. In the meantime, here is a preview of the Audiobook, narrated by Desmond Manny:
One of the things I love to do in my fiction is to use real-world folklore as inspiration, conjuring something dark and exciting from it.
This new story, ‘The Solstice,’ is a particular thrill for me, as it’s set in Portugal, my adopted home nation and uses folklore from the north of the country as the backdrop.
The masks described in the story, and the purpose for which they’re made, are still relevant today in the Tras-Os-Montes region of the country. I’d love to know what you think of it.
You can listen in the sidebar, below or wherever you listen to podcasts:
Yesterday saw the release of my Christmas story, ‘A Christmas Eve Visitor’ on The Other Stories podcast. It’s a delightfully unpleasant tale for those who like their Christmas with a dose of dark humbug.
In other news, We Shall Be Monsters: Frankenstein Two Hundred Years On has been given the go ahead for release at the end of this month. I can’t confirm the exact date yet, but this anthology of fiction, essays, poetry and more besides, inspired by Mary Shelley’s timeless classic is so beautifully stitched together (pun intended) and my story in it, ‘Muscle Memory,’ is one of the pieces I’m most proud of in my short time writing. Keep up with it here.
Finally and perhaps most exciting of all, this week I put a contract in the post for my first novella. I can’t talk much about it now, as details are still being finalised, but it contains folklore and supernatural elements. I’m hoping it will be launched in early 2019. More news as I have it.