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“This Living Hand”

The tree was right where the old poet said it would be.

This was one of the first pieces of Onyx Court short fiction I had a concept for, but it took me over a decade to write. The reason for that was research: I needed to know more about the English Romantic poets, but not so much any of them individually as the social circle they formed (or didn’t form) together, who knew whom and when. I finally found the book I needed in Wildly Romantic: The English Romantic Poets: The Mad, the Bad, and the Dangerous, by Catherine M. Andronik — a book which is not without its flaws when it comes to detail accuracy, but it gave me enough of a general picture that I could figure out how I wanted to approach the story, then chase down specifics in more reliable sources.

The fact that both this and “Oak Apple Night” feature Significant Trees is an echo of the roleplaying game I ran back in 2006, which ended up giving rise to the Onyx Court series as a whole. The game was built around seven trees of mystical importance, and while that doesn’t show up in the novels, I’ve reworked some bits of it in the short fiction.

“This Living Hand” came out from Sunday Morning Transport on February 13th, 2022. It’s available online, but I believe you need a subscription to read more than just the beginning.


I loved the research that informs the story as well as Fanny’s acumen throughout. [Recommended]

Karen Burnham, Locus Magazine