Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Length: 155,000 words
Status: In Rewrites
Don’t call her Chill.
It’s eleven years since Jill Baxter left her home and her eccentric family’s world far behind, and since she changed her first name from the difficult-to-explain ‘Chill’. She used to have to deal with magic, madness, gods and monsters on a regular basis, but not any more. Now she lives a perfectly normal life, works at a job she enjoys, and has just gotten engaged to a wonderful guy.
The last thing she wants is to take her fiance Doug for a weekend visit back home to meet her family – but her father has other ideas, and isn’t giving her any choice. Instead, Jill has to return to Baxter Hall, deep in the sprawling Berkshire country estate where she grew up, a place with too many bad memories attached.
All she needs is to get to the end of the weekend in one piece, and for Doug to not find out the truth about her family. But as Jill is brought face to face with some of her darkest secrets, a mystery begins to unfold at Baxter Hall, one that only Jill seems to understand. Shadowy, terrifying forces are building – but once the truth is revealed, it could already be too late.
Something is out to destroy the Baxter family – and the girl who used to be called Chill may be their only hope for survival…
* * *
(My ‘difficult second album’, this was a novel that I completed in 2012, but which didn’t go according to plan. Finding out that a novel you’ve written has drifted from what you originally intended is one thing – realising that you’ve accidentally written a book you’re not even sure if you’d enjoy as a reader is quite another. The process of writing Chill Out happened at a difficult time in my life, and also proved to me that maybe dark, emotionally gruelling fantasy drama isn’t something I’m instinctively built for. Sometimes books go a bit wrong, and you’ve got to roll with the punches. I do, however, have a plan to return to this story – I already have an outline for a very different approach to the book, one that’ll necessitate a top-down rewrite, and this new version will be going by the working title of ‘The Baxters’, at least for now. There’s a good story buried inside Chill Out, and I hope I get the chance to find it one day.)