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Queen Rat

In Soot and Steel, edited by Ian Whates

Rustblind and Silverbright

Newcon Press

Cover Text

Sinister tales, ghost stories, thrillers and vignettes that reach back as far as the Victorian era, all steeped in the essence of London’s urban community, its industrial heritage, the docks, Victoriana, the Blitz and the War. Nine original stories and seven classic reprints that explore the capital’s dark underbelly but also celebrate its character and charm. 

This was my first ever foray into historical fiction, being a story set among the mudlarks and sewer hunters in victorian times - in the times when everything in London was changing massively, not least the great new sewer system being built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette. I set this story among the most marginalised in society, which brought the problem that very little of the reality has been recorded - lots of hand-wringing but when it came to the nitty-gritty of life, research was hard. I owe a lot to Henry Mayhew's journalistic writings and interviews, including with a sewer hunter, which provided a fascinating window into that life. However, the story remains a kind of 'social horror' tale, and I likewise couldn't resist some hints of subversion.

The book Soot and Steel is a fascinating blend of older and contemporary writers and a wonderful tribute and dissection to historical London. This is one volume I am really delighted to be a part of.

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