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The End is…. HERE!

A morning of long, tedious but ultimately necessary research was stretching out ahead of me (I’m in the thick of preparing all the material I’ll need to write my new set of supernatural thrillers for Oxford University Press – more news about those to follow in the next few months) when I heard the postie coming down the lane. Now, postie’s been delivering proof pages and ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) of my five published books since 2008 and he knows when a new one’s in the offing. He was also aware that the Witchfinder series was drawing to its close. The last book was on its way…

The doorbell rings.

The post is handed over with a knowing smile.

I tore open the package stamped ‘Oxford University Press’. Inside, a slip of paper from Helen Bray, office administrator at OUP children’s books, confirming ‘here is the FINAL instalment of the Witchfinder trilogy!’ And so it proved to be. The last book, in which we journey into the bleakest regions of the hellscape, accompanying Jake Harker on his final desperate quest to defeat the Demon Father and discover the ultimate truth about himself and the mysterious source of Oldcraft. Here it was: almost two years of work in my hands. Over 1,100 pages and in excess of 260,000 words. The tale is told, the journey is over. To quote a famous Hobbit, I’d been there and back again…

I hope you’ll understand when I tell you that I shed a couple of tears – not only because of all that hard work and the fact that I’ll (probably) never write about Jake and his friends again (when you live with characters for a long time it is a bit of a wrench to say goodbye to them), but because of all the wonderful experiences I’ve had and all the amazing people I’ve met through the Witchfinder books.

Too many people and experiences to list here, but just to mention a few: my dear friend Deborah Chaffey, whose friendship I can chart from the day she challenged me to write a supernatural thriller for children; the stupendously talented Sarah Pinborough(Silverwood to her adoring YA readers) who was kind enough to shepherd me in the direction of Veronique Baxter, my incredible agent; the fabulously, well, fabulous Jasmine Richards, editor extraordinaire and soon to be published novelist (everyone go and check out ‘The Book of Wonders’– go now, I’ll still be here when you get back). If you’ve read and enjoyed the Witchfinder books then don’t thank me, thank Jasmine, for she is the true sorceress. Who else? So many people – all the hardworking, wonderful gang at OUP, of course, and everyone at David Higham Associates.

I’d also like to thank all the school librarians I have met during Witchfinder school events – without exception they are the people most dedicated to encouraging reading and literacy among young people, and to hear the tales they tell of budget cuts and staff being laid off just makes my blood boil. But that’s for another blog.

Another group of sterling folk are the book buyers, be they from local independent stores or big chains like Waterstones or Easons. Like the librarians their knowledge of children’s books is immense, their commitment to getting kids to read unshakable and their excitement about books and authors truly inspiring. Special mention here to the brilliant (I’m using that word a lot today!) Gary Deane, Waterstones Children’s Events Planner, a man passionate about his work and who very kindly knocked up the posters for my first ever Witchfinder event at the Boston branch. I’d also like to thank David O’Callaghan of Easons who was kind enough to invite me over to Dublin for an event last year – thanks for your support, Dave, I had a blast! While in Dublin I was lucky enough to meet Skulduggery Pleasant author Derek Landy and Spook’s Stories scribe Joseph Delaney. Joseph went on to give a very cool cover quote for Gallows at Twilight – cheers, Joe!

And that leads me to another pack of peeps who I might never have encountered were it not for Witchfinder: children’s authors. To a man (and a lady) these inklings really are the best! From gruesome David Gatward and his legions of the Dead to spooky Sam Enthovenand his myriad beasties; from the frankly frightening Steve Feasey of werewolf wonders to the horrifying Barry Hutchison and his invisible fiends, these guys and gals live for one thing and one thing only – the free coffee and sandwiches they get from school librarians. Nah, just kidding – they live to get kids excited about books. What a noble breed they are! (Apologies here to all the other tip-top writers I know, there’s just not enough room to mention you all).

Almost done, but I gotta send out love and kudos to the many terrific book bloggers I’ve met through these Witchfinder tomes. Special mention to Darren of Book Zone (For Boys) and Tracy of Tall Tales & Short Stories who allowed me to reuse their interviews in the Q&A section on this site. Speaking of the site, cheers to two very talented chaps, Mathew F Riley and Simon Appleby of Bookswarm for designing such a cool space for me to witter on!

Finally (I promise), I want to echo the last line in the acknowledgements of The Last Nightfall. I want to thank each and every reader of Witchfinder. I can make you one promise about this final volume of the trilogy: I’ve worked really hard and strained every mental and emotional sinew to give Jake and his friends a good send off. I want to reward you as best I can for sticking with me over the course of those 1,100 pages and 260,000 words. There are battles ahead, bloody and intense. There are sacrifices (one in particular made me weep as I wrote it). There is heartbreak. There are secrets that span millennia, the truth of which must now be told. There are meetings and partings. There’s a very unusual trip to hell and a multi-dimensional London landmark. And, at the core of the story, there is Jake Harker. Jake and his friends, holding onto each other until the very last moment. United in the light and in the darkness…

The time has come to say goodbye.

And while I leave you to bid farewell to Witchfinder I’m about to step into new worlds…

The world of The Phantasmagoria.

A world which might just open with a postman and a parcel…

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