Today I’m thrilled to welcome Matthew Samuels to Whispers & Wonder as we kick off the Small Places Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This upcoming week we’ll be showcasing Matthew’s Urban Fantasy tale, Small Places, a book that piqued my interest as soon as I laid eyes on its BEAUTIFUL cover, and can’t wait to hear what people think of it! Stay tuned for some fantastic features from our Roadies across blogs and social media – it’s going to be a great week.
Matthew stopped by for a chat about how this story of his has come to fruition, the research involved, his favorite character he’s written, what lies ahead, and more! So, keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, check out the awesome interview, and enter to win a copy of Small Places!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Small Places. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
AUGUST 1ST – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
The Book Suite (IG: @the.book.suite)
Sadie’s Spotlight (IG: @sadiesspotlight)
A Part of Your Book World (IG: @apartofyourbookworld)
I Smell Sheep
Kayla C. Reviews
The Book & Nature Professor (IG: @bookandnatureprof)
AUGUST 7TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
Small Places is a no-nonsense urban fantasy fairy story. Jamie, a shy, lonely boy, runs an errand for a witch as a child, helping them ease a family friend’s experience of cancer. Thirteen years later, Jamie’s own mother is suffering from terminal cancer as well, and he’s come back to his childhood village to spend more time with her before the end. He receives a card from the witch, Melusine, asking for his help – and casting his mind back to his childhood experience – goes to see her, hoping she can help his mother. Amidst freak earthquakes and storms, he’s drawn into working with the bad-tempered Mel in an effort to find out what’s wrong with Gaia, the earth spirit, as they visit the Seelie and Unseelie courts, finding the former racist and the latter paranoid, meeting stoned fauns and beer-brewing trolls along the way. It’ll appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London series, Charles de Lint’s work or Clive Barker’s Abarat series.
Meet The Author
Matthew Samuels is a science fiction and fantasy writer based in London, UK. His first novel was the Sci-Fi Solarpunk / Hopepunk adventure story Parasites, the first book in the Navigator Series. He enjoys reading, gaming, running, walking, EDM and perversely, quiet.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Matthew. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
SFF writer, introvert, cat person, book lover, EDM fan
Give us an idea of how Small Places came to fruition.
I was on holiday in the New Forest in the UK, and I’d just finished reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. I’d finished writing Parasites a while before, and had felt that although I really liked it, it was essentially a sci-fi road trip novel, and I wanted to write something narratively tighter. I liked the tight, twistiness of Nevernight – it’s paced like a well-knit orchestral piece – and something about it reminded me of the plotting of Sanderson’s Final Empire. I essentially aspired to do something a bit more cohesive than Parasites. Then I went walking in the woods and the witch popped into my mind!
Can you share with us something about Small Places that isn’t in the blurb?
I originally finished the first draft on New Year’s Eve 2019. I did a few rounds of edits, but after lots of discussions with my support network, there was something fairly fundamental that didn’t work. I’d initially had Jamie’s mother die at the very start of the book, and his quest became to resurrect her using faery magic … but it just didn’t feel like a proper reaction to a loved one passing away. So instead, we meet her gravely ill, which gives Jamie a much more realistic motivation for his involvement with the fey.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
A lot of the locations in the real world are places I’ve been. The stained-glass installation in the forest, Somerset generally, London – a lot of the world re-treads weird and wonderful places that I’ve been. The Christmas before the pandemic, I went to a masked ball in the dark underground vaults underneath Waterloo, via Leake Street, which definitely helped to inspire aspects of the trip to the Unseelie Court…
What do you hope your readers take away from Small Places?
Keep seeking wonder. There’s not a lot of it, but there is some.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Plot. I really have to work hard at characters. Call it a character flaw.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
I loved writing Melusine. She doesn’t take any crap from anyone, and although she might have a fairly dark side, she’s got good intentions.
What do you think makes a good story?
It’s a form of alchemy that needs great – believable – characters, tight plotting, great pacing, superb worldbuilding, genuine emotion and imagination. Hopefully I’ve ticked some of those boxes.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I’d do it sooner. According to the lovely John Jarrold, it took Iain M Banks six books before he was successful. I wish I’d persevered and started earlier!
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Write what you love. Take a break – it’s ok to work on something else (or something fun!)
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Winter or Summer?
Winter. I’m not a hot-weather person at all.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Physical books, every time. Preferably a signed, special edition hardback.
Mountains or Oceans?
Beer or Wine?
Books or Movies?
Books! But it’s close.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Pie or Cake?
Pie (but in the British sense)
Rural or Urban?
Urban, but it’s also very close.
Work hard or Play hard?
If we’re talking about writing, work hard!
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Matthew. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thank you, it’s been great to be here. I’m currently working on the sequel to Parasites, Dusk, and occasionally jot down notes on the sequel to Small Places. There’s about 60% of a book planned out, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s one book or two …
Enter to win yourself a physical copy of Small Places by Matthew Samuels! Three copies are looking to find their forever homes.
Ends 8/8 • International
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Small Places tour page over at Storytellers On Tour to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to share!