You may know Paul Cornell from his work on Doctor Who, or from his Shadow Police novels and Witches of Lychford novella series. But his new novel, Chalk, is something altogether different: a more personal, and often brutal, look at the psychological cost of bullying and childhood trauma, laced with dark magic.
Learn more about Chalk in Paul’s own words and see the full cover, designed by Peter Lutjen, below!
Chalk arrives on March 21, 2017 from Tor.com Publishing, and will be available globally in print and DRM-free ebook. Cornell describes his latest work this way:
My new novel from Tor.com Publishing, Chalk, is a dark fantasy, and like my Shadow Police and Witches of Lychford series, it has its feet squarely in the real world. But it’s a one off. It’s a bit more serious. It’s a very personal book, but also, I hope, universal.
Were you bullied in school? How bad did it get? For the lead character in Chalk, Andrew Waggoner, it gets pretty extreme. So extreme that reality gets twisted, and things from outside the world are allowed back in.
Chalk is set in the 1980s, and features a ton of Eighties music. The heroine, Angie Boden, practices a form of magic powered by chart hits. But no matter which decade you grew up in, you’ll be able to fill in your own escape. The 1980s created some terrible things, which have again, in 2016, returned to haunt us.
This is a book about cycles of abuse. It doesn’t let Waggoner off the hook. It’s not a book about a martyr and how he triumphs in the end. It’s about how the bullied often become the bullies, and a desperate attempt to escape that.
For those of you who know me by my Doctor Who work, there’s also a visit to the Longleat Doctor Who Exhibition, at the centre of the world. Don’t say I never give you anything.
I hope you… well, ‘enjoy’ isn’t perhaps the word. I hope Chalk gets inside you. I hope it helps. I hope it makes you cry.
Thanks for listening, and, above all, thanks for reading.
From the catalog copy:
Andrew Waggoner has always hung around with his fellow losers at school, desperately hoping each day that the school bullies—led by Drake—will pass by him in search of other prey. But one day they force him into the woods, and the bullying escalates into something more; something unforgivable; something unthinkable.
Broken, both physically and emotionally, something dies in Waggoner, and something else is born in its place.
In the hills of the West Country a chalk horse stands vigil over a site of ancient power, and there Waggoner finds in himself a reflection of rage and vengeance, a power and persona to topple those who would bring him low.
Paul Cornell plumbs the depths of magic and despair in this brutal exploration of bullying in Margaret Thatcher’s England.
Pre-order Chalk at the links below, or from your favorite ebook retailer.