October giveaway! Swag for The Humours of Grub Street

A giveaway package including two bookmarks, a square bar of soap and a signed bookplate.

The Giveaway

To celebrate October, a month I love for many reasons, I’m giving away to five winners worldwide:

  • A signed bookplate.
  • Two bookmarks for The Humours of Grub Street, my next novel.
  • Handmade soap inspired by The Humours of Grub Street. (Optional. If you can’t do scents/pigments, let me know and I’ll throw in something else cool for you instead.)

More details below about what’s in the package, but first, here’s what you can do to win it in the mail. Open anywhere in the world, but limited to five winners. I’ll choose a random five on Nov. 1 out of anyone who does any one of the following:

  • It’s Inktober, so, show me your art on Twitter! I admit I’d love to see fan art inspired by my books or stories (it’s a writer bingo square I have yet to check off!) but any subject matter is great. Just reply to this tweet.
  • Email me (or reply to the tweet with) a cocktail recipe inspired by the humours of Grub Street: coffee, gin (extra points the closer you get to 18th century genever, but hold the turpentine please), and anything that brings to mind ink, and maybe blood, mercury or cinnabar. I’ll share the cocktail recipes on social media.
  • Email me to let me know that you’ve made a donation (any amount) to any of the following: Reporters Without Borders, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, or PEN International. The Humours of Grub Street is fundamentally a novel about freedom of expression; I wrote it while I was still working full-time as a journalist.

The Bookmarks

When I was writing The Humours of Grub Street, I referred over and over to John Rocque’s 1746 map of London. The novel (which is coming in May 2020) is set in 1703, so a bit earlier, but the Rocque map is gorgeous and detailed and showed me what I needed to know: the configuration of alleyways around Grub Street. That part of London survived the Great Fire and had an old-fashioned, medieval feeling in the 18th century.

Today, the area would be unrecognizable to an 18th century time traveller; it was heavily damaged in the Second World War and much of it is now covered by the Barbican.

Anyway, it seemed natural to put a small slice of Rocque’s map onto a bookmark, both as a tribute and as a practical guide to the geography of the time. Grub Street itself appears just below the centre of the bookmark.

The Soap

Brown, black and clear soap with "The Humours of Grub Street" stamped on the top.

“I thought I might find you here at this hour,” said Harley. “Grub Street has its humours, running through its alleys like blood through a man’s veins, and the balance of them changes through the day. Coffee in the morning. Gin in the afternoon.” 

-The Humours of Grub Street

The Humours of Grub Street is set in London in 1703, and it features a printing press, quite a few monsters, and the aforementioned gin and coffee, both of which were having a profound effect on the city’s culture at that time. There’s something about that aesthetic I have been itching to combine in various ways; if you think of a cocktail recipe, let me know!

In the meantime, I made it into soap.

Just melt-and-pour soap (I didn’t actually saponify anything). All my ingredients come from Voyageur Soap and Candle, and I’m linking to them so you can see the ingredients: I combined juniper berry essential oil with clear soap (for gin), and “cappuccino” fragrance oil with matte-brown pigmented soap (for coffee), and added some activated charcoal (for ink) and a few bits of red glitter (for blood, and for the mercury/cinnabar that features in the story too.)

I’m really happy with the result! The scent is subtle and the combination of juniper and coffee fragrance really works. The soap feels invigorating. And it reminds me of my novel! The stamp on top is a simple custom one I ordered via an Etsy shop.

As I said above, if you want to enter the giveaway but have concerns about the scents/pigment, let me know and I’ll leave the soap out, and throw in something else cool to make it up for you.