With the digital release this week of The Gameshouse novellas—that is to say The Serpent, The Thief and The Master, which “can be read separately but also fit together to make a complete, intricately woven tale”—the time has come to start talking about what’s next for Catherine Webb’s nom de plume Claire North.
Long story short: a lot, is what—beginning with the novel formerly known as Forget Me Not. Like The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and Touch before it, The Sudden Appearance of Hope—as it shall be known henceforth—is another interrogation of identity.
In synopsis, The Sudden Appearance of Hope sounds strikingly like that early episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer about a girl so utterly unseen by her peers she starts to disappear:
My name is Hope Ardern, and you won’t know who I am. We’ve met before—a thousand times. But I am the girl the world forgets.
It started when I was sixteen years old. A slow declining, an isolation, one piece at a time.
A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A teacher who forgets to chase my missing homework. A friend who looks straight through me and sees a stranger.
No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit—you will never remember who I am.
That makes my life tricky. But it also makes me dangerous…
Orbit plan to publish “this gripping story—of love and loss, of hope and despair, of living in the moment and dying to leave a mark” in the UK next May.
But that’s not all! As editor Anna Jackson announced yesterday on the Orbit blog:
The reaction to The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was astounding, and it was truly a break-out point in Catherine’s career. We’re incredibly excited about her future too […] and I’m delighted to have now acquired three further novels from Catherine, who is truly one of the most exciting and imaginative writers in modern fiction.
No word as yet on what these books will be about, but if I were a betting man, I’d put a modest amount of money on the three comprising a series—a first for North, if not for Webb herself, whose Adventures of Horatio Lyle were released between 2006 and 2010, at the same time as her other pseudonym, the great Kate Griffin, was working on the four-volume strong Matthew Swift saga.
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.