It's been a week since the end of London's MCM Comic Con, and the dust has only just begun to settle after the whirlwind of an event.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who visited my table at MCM, who came to share stories, to talk magick and mythology and the weird and wonderful, and to pick up copies of my books. It was an absolute pleasure to meet everyone, and talk with friends both old and new, over the course of the weekend.
Comic Con also marked the pre-release of my new Sam Hain novella, Storm in a Teacup (which is out now, available on Amazon Kindle and paperback), and to say that I was blown away by the reception it received would be an understatement. I couldn't have anticipated such a brilliant launch, and it was wonderful to meet so many people just as thrilled about the new book as I am! Thank you to everyone who came by to share in my excitement and bought Storm in a Teacup.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
A storm is coming...
‘My fists are the lighting which strikes. The roaring thunder, the bellowing of my voice. The rain, my tears of frustration. I am the loud rider of the storm. I am the Thunderer.’
Writing Storm in a Teacup became a story in and of itself. It all began in July of last year, while I was at London Film and Comic Con.
It was the peak of summer, and the temperatures were soaring. This was not entirely unexpected, but it was decidedly uncomfortable when the vast majority of the weekend was to be spent inside the glass-ceilinged, greenhouse-esque Olympia Grand Hall in Kensington. Add on top of that the bustling crowds of a comic con hosting tens of thousands of people.
It was more than a little bit warm.
I was in the midst of writing Dead Men Sell No Sales at the time, and could be found in Hammersmith each morning before the event, hunched over a croissant and coffee, scribbling in my notebook.
Around about early afternoon on the Saturday of LFCC, something strange happened. The once blue and sunny skies above Hammersmith and Kensington suddenly turned grey, and through the clouds came the distant rumbling of thunder. Then, the heavens opened. Rain fell in drenching torrents, lightning streaked the sky, and I left a note on my table saying I'd be back in ten minutes so I could run outside and stand in the refreshing downpour.
The strangest thing was not the storm itself. It was the fact that friends based only a few miles away had no idea that there even had been any rain at all. Or thunder. Or lightning. As far as they were concerned, it was still perfectly summery.
On my way in on the Sunday morning, I could see the rainfall ahead of me cascading like a veil. Sure enough, I had to cross over the threshold. I was utterly drenched by the time I squelched into Olympia that morning. It seemed oddly specific, almost as if the weather was focussing on this region of west London, and many joked that it must be an act of god (and were relatively sure a particular Norse deity was responsible).
Hammersmith, I thought. What if a particular god of thunder had lost his famed weapon, and he found himself in west London, looking to smith a new hammer...
And so, I sat down, pulled out my soggy notebook, and wrote the opening sequence to Storm in a Teacup.
Of Signs and Portents
The thunder god grinned. ‘It is no coincidence that our paths did cross, wizard!’
‘Well, there is no such thing as coincidence,’ Sam said.
‘Indeed not. The hands of fate are rarely so unwitting.’
I began working on Storm in a Teacup in earnest at the beginning of 2019.
I delved into my love of old mythologies, reread Neil Gaiman's book of Norse Mythology, and bored a great many friends with stories of old gods. On my way back from meeting with a production company in Islington, I got talking with an actor who was deep in research into Slavic mythology. We enthused about the links and parallels of different myths, and how they have bled through the ages in different forms and fictions. We would find ourselves working together on a production in a very snowy Oxford two weeks later.
On that same day, I spotted a man dressed as the Marvel incarnation of Thor queuing in a café near Highbury and Islington. To this day, I still do not know what was going on around there. I can only assume that this was, indeed, Thor waiting in line for a latte in north London.
The threads were tying together. It was as if the inner world of the story was becoming manifest in the real world.
I continued to write of strange and sudden storms which enveloped a specific region of west London, crafted rhymes and riddles which guided the protagonists on their quest. And then, on an unassuming Wednesday at the beginning of May, when the final edit of the book had been double-checked, approved, approved again, and sent off, storm clouds formed. Rain fell and lightning crackled through the skies. The story had started with a storm and, rather poetically, it had ended with another.
The thunder god's tale was complete.
In the weeks leading up to Storm in a Teacup's release, whenever I would talk with someone about the book, or read out a passage from it, we found ourselves plagued by a sudden turn of weather. After enough sunny days turning grey and rainy, it became a running joke. On one particular occasion, friend and artist Matilda Dawes text: "if you're planning on making it rain again, please warn me so I can bring an umbrella."
Somehow, I had become a herald of the storm.
It came to a head after the end of MCM Comic Con. The days had been warm and sunny for the most part (or so I glimpsed whenever I was not inside the event centre). As is traditional, many writers and artists gathered at a nearby bar at the end of each day. On the last day, I stepped out onto the balcony, and without hesitation the skies opened and rain showered down. Amidst the clattering of tables and chairs as everyone tried to cram in beneath the umbrellas, and the utterings of "you can tell Bron's here", it suddenly stopped.
And there, across the horizon, stretched a vast and vibrant rainbow.
The book's launch had come to a close, and it was as if Thor had bade us a farewell storm, before heading home across the rainbow bridge of the bifröst.
Storm in a Teacup is OUT NOW!
‘That is why I first came to your Hammer Smith, to forge a new one with which I would shatter every bone in his body.’
‘You know Hammersmith is the name of the area, not for smithing hammers, right?’
I feel I've kept you captive with my meandering tale long enough, dear reader. After months of writing, being caught in storms and followed by weather gods, and a couple of missed deadlines as the story grew to twice the intended length, Storm in a Teacup was officially released on Kindle and as a paperback book on Thursday 30th May (something felicitous about it coming out on Thor's Day!).
In the midst of a heatwave, while the rest of the city enjoys the peak of summer, west London is wracked by strangely sudden storms. At the same time each day for almost a week, Hammersmith finds itself shrouded in thick clouds, torrential rain, thunder and lightning. Believing there to be a supernatural cause behind this inexplicable weather, Sam Hain heads to the heart of the storm to investigate. However, the occult detective discovers that there is something more than a thunderous deluge waiting for him. Something beyond belief...
The second story in Sam Hain - Occult Detective: Volume II, Storm in a Teacup sees Sam facing a thunderous temper of godly proportions.
I've been excited to share this story with everyone for as long as I've had the idea rattling around inside my head. I hope you enjoy the adventure.
And another thing...
If you're still reading this and you'd like to hear me prattle on even more about writing and magick, plus painfully British decorum and terrible Christmas films, I had the great pleasure of guesting on Podcapers at A Place To Hang Your Cape with the inestimable Scott Meridew.
It was incredible fun talking with Scott, and I think we could easily have rambled on for hours if we didn't have to cut for the episode length!
You can listen to the full Podcapers episode, and their many, many other excellent pieces, here: PodCapers Ep. 113: Sam Hain with Bron James (I believe we begin talking about Sam Hain properly about fifteen minutes in).
A nine-realms-spanning thank you again to everyone who came by at MCM Comic Con, who has bought and read Storm in a Teacup, and anyone who has managed to read this far in my particularly verbose newsletter. The reception at MCM was absolutely phenomenal, and I can not wait to see people at another event soon.
Until then, may the wind be ever at thy back, and blessings of the Thunderer upon thee.