AND PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (COVER REVEAL & EXCERPT)
Today we’re here to bring you the official cover reveal for the upcoming And Put Away Childish Things, a novella by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
This will be published in Hardback on 28 March in the US and 30th March in the UK from Rebellion Publishing.
Before we show you the cover, here’s what the book is all about:
All roads lead to Underhill, where it’s always winter, and never nice.
Harry Bodie has a famous grandmother, who wrote beloved children’s books set in the delightful world of Underhill. Harry himself is a failing kids’ TV presenter whose every attempt to advance his career ends in self-sabotage. His family history seems to be nothing but an impediment.
An impediment… or worse. What if Underhill is real? What if it has been waiting decades for a promised child to visit? What if it isn’t delightful at all? And what if its denizens have run out of patience and are taking matters into their own hands?
And here’s the cover!
Cover art is by Gemma Sheldrake (Twitter: @gemsheldrake; Website: petitecreme.com)
Here’s where you can preorder: https://geni.us/TMjiH
And as an extra treat, we have an exclusive extract for you from chapter one!
Extract from Chapter One
They were in the Oxford Story Museum for the shooting. How Even Me? preferred to film in the attics of their guests’ grand houses where they could pretend to unearth dusty old photographs of sainted ancestors undergoing privation or doing praiseworthy things. Harry’s two-room flat was unaccountably missing an attic, because the house had gone with Lisa—along with the kids and most of the money—during the divorce. However, the museum still had a wall panel about his grandmother’s Underhill books as one of its permanent exhibits, and probably the whole thing got waved through as mutual good PR that didn’t have to impact on anyone’s balance sheet too much.
They positioned him in front of the display. There were a couple of first editions, the once-bright covers faded, plus some stills from that 1973 animation and a creepy little puppet from the Polish stop-motion of ’87 which still figured in Harry’s nightmares. With that as a backdrop, they did the preliminaries, the little interview sections where he reminisced fondly about Granny Magda, or Mary as her pen name had been. He even went so far as to mention the secret, those little hints she’d dropped about the provenance of her own mother. And he wasn’t really expecting Margot to play God Save the Tsar and then crown him, but it was nice to have the whiff of it hanging in the air. And he relaxed and let his guard down, and then they brought out the box.
“Harry,” Margot said. And he’d wanted them to call him Felix. He wanted to start calling himself Felix, instead of the godawful clownish Harry, that non-name he’d taken on and which he was thoroughly sick of. But he was Harry Bodie to the world, and to Equity, and his agent reckoned it was still more help than harm when it came to names to conjure with. “Harry,” Margot said, “what would you say if I told you that we’d been able to track down some real information about your great-grandmother. Far more than Mary ever told you?”
And, the bitch, she was doing her excited voice, as she did in every show where the guest’s past held a cornucopia of riches rather than hardship and grief. And he should have thought that they could easily re-shoot her part later, if she wanted to give it the opposite spin. That the Margot Lorne speaking to him then and there needn’t be the one who made it to screen. He fell for it hook, line and sinker.
And they had a box there, an old metal chest that eagle-eyed afficionados of How Even Me? might have recognised as turning up in a number of mid-list celebrity attics, because the show got sloppy with re-using its props.
Because they wanted the true and honest reaction, they passed it into his hungry hands for him to open. They’d arranged the papers inside quite carefully, so that their narrative was laid out step by step. The admission notice, the treatment reports, the doctor’s notes, the birth certificate. Filming as Harry’s excited sounds of discovery ground down to something bleak and sad.
The London County Asylum was stamped on half the pages. That was where his great-grandmother had turned up, apparently. January 8th 1916, which he reckoned was a time when the asylums were doing a booming trade, so small wonder the paperwork looked rushed. Admission of a pregnant woman answering to the name of Devaty Svoboda, initially speaking no English, though she appeared to have picked it up quickly enough. No clue as to where she’d come from, but the country had a lot on its mind right then. And incurably deranged, as the spiky handwriting of one professional had it. Possessed of such detailed and elaborate delusions that the specialist had insisted she be kept in residence for study.
She claimed to be the Queen of Fairyland, said the notes.
And Harry did his best, and probably he could have turned the whole thing into an exercise whereby he used the heartstrings of the audience as bootstraps for his upcoming career. But in that instant, wrong-footed as he was, he was just so painfully aware that Margot Lorne and her entire crew were laughing at him. That they’d all taken a profound dislike to him from the first moment he turned up, on the not-unreasonable basis that he had made himself profoundly dislikeable. And so his reaction was less noble sorrow and more peevish anger that his goddamn great-grandmother hadn’t been anything more useful to him, and the cameras were rolling all the time.
Worse than that, if even possible, was the next two months of him calling the production company with threats, and then having his agent call them with the same threats phrased in more professionally-appropriate language, and then having some lawyers call them with different threats that cost Harry rather more money than he’d have preferred to spend and got him precisely nowhere. He’d signed a contract before going on the show and nowhere in that contract did the words ‘power of veto’ appear, and so they were damn well going to use what they’d got. And at last, just as he was doing his bit in the CBeebies 2019 Christmas panto, the show was broadcast and it all became public knowledge.
His agent, Steve, was pessimistic over the phone. “I hate to say it, but… it’s the queen of fairyland bit. People are funny about mental health, aren’t they? Doesn’t exactly jibe with ‘serious proper actor.’ Unless you fancy milking it?”
Play up the sorrow and the woe about poor great-grandma. Ostentatiously do a charity gig for an appropriately-themed good cause. The sort of thing that Felix ‘Harry’ Bodie, hungry would-be grown-up actor, would do. Except Harry had, by then, watched his own lamentable performance on How Even Me? approximately nine thousand times and had come to the conclusion that Felix ‘Harry’ Bodie was a bit of a shit, and that his great-grandmother had genuinely been hard done by. He discovered, to his surprise, that he didn’t have the heart to turn his family sorrows into a career mill after all. The thought of the bedridden old woman insisting she was Queen of Nowhere to the daughter she hadn’t been able to keep… It turned out there were actually depths he wasn’t willing to plumb.
He started drinking again. Or drinking more, because despite all the professional advice he’d never been able to go dry. Not in entertainment, where everyone was positively pickling themselves the moment they turned the cameras off. He was definitely drunk when he came back to his flat in the small hours one night in February, after the world had mostly forgotten about him again. He was drunk when he dropped his keys in the rosebush-snarled patch of garden out front and ended up on his hands and knees, muttering to himself as he tried to find them. It hadn’t been a good night. The pub had been mostly empty, his fellow TV types crying off because of the growing aversion to crowds and public spaces. He’d downed four solitary pints and then swung by the off licence so he could take the festivities home with him. He felt he was watching his career and life fall apart in slow motion, and every time he had a chance to reverse the course, somehow he did exactly the opposite. Which left him cursing God, the Devil and several named production executives as he fumbled for his lost keys in the near pitch dark and skewered himself on rose thorns.
“Here,” said someone, and abruptly the missing items were dangling before his face. He staggered upright, snatching them from the air on the second try, feeling their inarguable cold metal edges pressing into his palm. Crusted with soil from the garden, as though they’d been unearthed from a grave.
“What? Right. Thanks,” he blurted out and then looked at the someone and sobered up pretty much immediately.
Not literally, of course, biochemistry working as it does, but a savage cocktail of other hormones overrode the worst of the drink because something in him was screaming fight or flight! and, being a sedentary middle-aged TV presenter, he just froze up and did neither.
Tall. Freakishly tall. Although as Harry was only five foot eight maybe just ‘very tall.’ Wearing a long coat, like a flasher. Standing weirdly, every part of him held wrong. The legs as though the man was right on the balls of his feet, and then those feet were stretched too long. Sour reek of spoilt milk. Aquiline face with a briar-patch beard and sunken eyes. Filthy, ancient, like a vagrant. Like an icon of a saint unearthed from a dig site. Looked at one way, exactly the sort of disturbed homeless man Harry would cross the street to avoid. Looked at another, an ancient king.
The horns. They were ridged like a ram’s, curving back into rook’s nest hair. The roots of them, growing from his temples, were unmissable.
“Harry Bodie,” said the thing. Said the delusion, incipient madness, drink-born hallucination. And “No!” shrieked Harry Bodie, dashing for the door. Fumbling the new-reclaimed keys in the lock, waiting for the long, bony hand on his shoulder. Slamming the door behind him loud enough to wake everyone in the building. Trying the door three times to reassure himself it had locked. Not looking out there. Not glancing back as he thundered up the stairs. Not giving himself a moment’s thought. And the window of his flat only faced an alley, and he didn’t look out of it anyway.
And Put Away Childish Things is available for pre-order HERE