Happy Pride Month, everybody!

Today I am sharing with you an absolutely beautiful piece of artwork drawn by one of my Creative Den–Discord friends, Jules (check out more of his artwork here on Twitter and Instagram).

To celebrate Pride 2019, Jules has drawn this stunning ensemble piece featuring some of the Creative Den’s original LGBT+ characters. Among then is my own character, Jonathan Carson! That’s him on the far-left; fitting in more ways than one, I feel.


Just like his creator (that’s me!), John is bisexual — that’s the Bisexual Pride flag tied around his wrist. I have spoken a little of John’s sexuality before. You can read all about it here!

Other characters featured (left-to-right) in this piece are:

  • M.P. Pierce‘s Raphael (representing Asexual Pride)
  • Jules’s own Doe & Moxie (representing Lesbian and Transgender Pride)
  • K.F. Goodacre‘s Spindle Larkspur (Genderfluid Pride)

I absolutely love this piece and can’t stop staring at it, or gushing about it. Thank you so much, Jules! You’re such an incredibly talented artist and I’d love for this to become a series. The Creative Den–Discord still has an abundance of LGBT+ characters for you to play with, after all… We’re a queer old lot.

Take care, my beloved LGBT+ followers. I know it’s hard to stay positive in this world, which may seem on a par with an increasingly dystopian nightmare at times, but we’ve got to stick together and keep going. I love you all. Stay safe, and be kind to yourselves.

Big, bisexual love,

S.E. Berrow



S.E. Berrow On Hiatus

I’m sorry to announce that due to various life stresses such as house-buying, work and social commitments, I am now officially On Hiatus.

By this, I mean I can no longer fool myself that I have the time, will, or inclination to create. My mind is a hideous, carnival-like hellscape — a carousel of anxiety and despair, going round and round in my head; a house of horrors from which I cannot escape, where the worst possible scenario threatens to jump out at me around every corner.

My mind is so occupied with things that are not writing, that I cannot effectively edit The Mayor: Part One. I cannot churn out even a paragraph for my John novella. I can’t even maintain this blog, missing week after week of the #AcresofInk blog challenge — it’s not acceptable. I fall at every hurdle. I fail at every task and goal I set myself. All I succeed in doing is sitting down at a desk and staring at a computer screen. I type out maybe… 4 words over the course of half an hour? Then I cry. And cry. And cry.

Not being able to write is making my anxiety worse. As such, this is me accepting that it’s just not going to happen until I am in a better place, both physically, and mentally. Thus… hiatus.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I fully intend to pick everything up again — #AcresofInk challenge included — as soon as this dark cloud passes. Also my writing partner, K.F. Goodacre, is drip-feeding me her own edits of The Mayor: Part One for me to read and absorb, and we have our writing retreat to look forward to in late November. Until then, I can still research. I can still world-build. I find these sorts of things are less taxing than editing or writing — they are true escapism. When I’m having an OK day, I can also stretch to adding to my outline of The Mayor: Part Two, which is definitely productive.

I’ve also commissioned some artworks from my illustrator Brettarts of some of my favourite scenes and characters from The Mayor to inspire me and bring me pleasure. Below is one such example of these depicting my characters, Melora and John. I can’t wait to have this incredible image printed, framed, and put on display in the office of my new house (when things eventually start moving on that front). I hope you like it ♥


I’m sorry to my friends and Beta readers I’m letting down with this news, but please know that it is absolutely necessary if I am to make it to next year at all.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

Phantoms, Dollhouses and Easter Wishes

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you’re all having a lovely long weekend. For those of you who are working over the Easter Holidays, I will keep you in my thoughts! ♥

No writing challenge answers this week. Today’s blog post consists of Important Life Updates:

I’ve moved house!

Yes, it’s true. I’ve temporarily moved back in with my parents whilst I wait for the sale of my boyfriend’s flat to go through. I can’t say how long I’ll be here for, but I’ve been made to feel very welcome and today was the first day since Tuesday (the day I moved out) that I’ve actually begun to feel truly settled. Throughout the whole of March I’ve essentially been AN ENORMOUS BALL OF STRESS and I can only apologise to all who encountered me during that time and had to put up with me and my madness.Sarah Andersen

I’m glad it’s over now and can get stuck back into the thing I love to do most…


For those who’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m massively behind with the deadline for finishing my WIP, The Mayor. I originally intended to finish Draft One by the end of December, but had to push the deadline back until the end of February for the sake of my mental health (see here). That revised deadline went completely out the window when I started going through the process of selling my home, plus I began having serious self-doubt along with Anxiety-triggering frustration over my complete inability to finish my manuscript. Going on a really nice holiday for two weeks at the beginning of March helped me out a lot; I didn’t touch my manuscript once the whole time I was gone, and when I came back I felt refreshed and excited, ready to finish everything off. I had a really productive week in the middle of March playing around with my deliciously cruel penultimate chapter… only for reality to set back in that I needed to start packing, stat.

Basically, March was a complete write-off as far as writing was concerned, but April is a new month, a new start. I’m in a new place where I have fewer responsibilities to shoulder all by myself (house maintenance, cooking, cleaning etc.), plus I’m genuinely excited to get to grips with the last two chapters and very short epilogue. Wish me luck.

Once I’m finished (please, God, let it be soon), I’m going to take a break — maybe write a novella about my character Jonathan Carson — whilst K.F. Goodacre takes to my work with razor-sharp scalpel and hammers my words into some semblance of a manageable pile.


Speaking of K.F. Goodacre, it seems her talents know no bounds! As a belated birthday present, she very kindly made me my protagonist Melora in doll form… Behold! She is exquisite:

Melora joins another doll made for me by K.F. Goodacre — my character Jonathan Carson. Don’t they look great together? I’m so in love. Raise your hand if you think Kim needs to start her own Etsy account making dolls of other people’s characters for money? *Hand shoots up*. Thank you so much, Parabatai! ♥

Note: The John doll is a couple of years old now. The character’s ethnicity has changed since its creation and as such, his skin should actually be much darker than what’s shown here. Kim’s assured me she will, at some point, flay John’s skin off and replace it with something more fitting. He’s got to match his brother Jaspher, after all. Watch this space…


Kamelot‘s new album The Shadow Theory is out next week. OMG. I’m so, so, so EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially since they dropped their (brilliant) new single last Friday entitled ‘The Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)’, featuring Lauren Hart from melodic death metal band, Once Human. CHECK. IT. OWT:


Can’t wait. Simply can’t, can’t wait. Will explode from teh squee. Super excite! BRING ON LONDON IN OCTOBER ♥

That’s all for now. Ta-ta!

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 9: Questions 7 & 8

Yes, I’m massively behind. WHAT OF IT? You’re not the boss of me. Don’t tell me what to do.

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

7. Favourite relationship in the story

Telling you my actual favourite relationship (which, incidentally, is a romantic one) would be spoilerific, so today I’m going to talk to you about a non-spoilery relationship instead:

My favourite relationship to write in Book One of The Mayor is the sibling relationship between Jaspher and Jonathan Carson.

As brothers, Jaspher and John could not be more different. Jaspher is calm, level-headed and responsible, taking it upon himself to keep the Carson family afloat despite some serious financial difficulties and his father’s rapidly developing illness. John meanwhile is a notorious libertine, fond of wine, women and song with a penchant for attracting trouble.

In some ways, the two brothers perfectly embody their father, Jeremiah Carson, who is an ex-sailor turned shipwright. Despite his working class background, Jeremiah Carson rose to become a wealthy and successful entrepreneur in New Hardway, and is now a respected member of society. Jaspher seeks to uphold his father’s legacy by following in his footsteps as a shipwright. Unfortunately for Jaspher, John is far more interested in sailing ships than building them, and shamelessly engages in activities one might typically associate with that profession such as drinking, smoking and gambling.

John’s carefree, hedonistic lifestyle is a constant source of embarrassment for Jaspher. His peers make snide and insidious remarks regarding his brother’s behaviour and use it to undermine his authority. Being an ex-sailor himself (and for other, slightly more upsetting reasons), Jeremiah Carson prefers to turn a blind eye, but Jaspher refuses to let things slide. He will often step in as disciplinarian, which naturally causes a lot of tension between the two. This is fun to write.

What I like most about Jaspher and John’s relatonship is the complete juxtaposition between how much they love each other — how they’d do absolutely anything to protect each other — versus their complete inability to see eye to eye. Their relationship is fraught with jealousy and misunderstandings; the inevitable result of conflicting ideologies. As the plot of The Mayor progresses and pressure upon the Carson family mounts, Jaspher and John’s relationship will be tested to its absolute limit.


7. Alternative realities: what could have changed everything, and how?

The obvious answer to this question would be, “What if William Kale had never come to New Hardway?” Because there’d be no plot, essentially, and everyone would be a lot happier and be able to get on with their lives.

How boring.

No, there’s actually a moment I can specifically pinpoint as being pivotal. It could have changed potentially everything, and I know this because I actually wrote it out and had to do away with it immediately for the sake of progressing the plot.

~*~ Warning! Minor spoilers to follow – I’ve redacted most of them but you never know… ~*~

In the scene before this one, Jaspher and Melora have a huge, relationship-altering fight. When I originally wrote it, Melora managed to catch up to Jaspher and apologise to him:

“Jaspher, wait,” Melora hurried down the stairs. “About last night, I… I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” Jaspher frowned, sounding as nonplussed as he looked. “Whatever for?”


She swallowed, tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth. Seeing him flush red at the reminder of his shame, she ploughed on before he could interrupt her.

“I… I was angry and upset. I lashed out because of it. After you’d gone, I had some time to think about what you said — why you did what you did — and I realised… you were only doing what you thought was best for your family. [REDACTED, FIGHT ME] And I don’t know if what John said about Mr Kale is true, but if it is true, Jaspher, then you need to be careful, because we don’t know what else he’s capable of, and we’ve lost so much already [FIGHT ME SOME MORE].

She felt rather than saw the tension ease in him as her voice trailed off. She stiffened as he pulled her to him in a gentle, one-armed embrace, then relaxed as he released her.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” he said, slipping his hand into hers. “I’m sorry. I swear to you, I’ve never regretted anything more in my entire life. If I could wind back the clock and refuse to sign those damned papers, I would do it. I’d do it in a heartbeat. But it’s done now, and we’ll have to find a way to work through it. Somehow.”

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, and she nodded, forcing a smile to her lips. It warmed her heart to see that smile returned, just the barest flickering at the corner of his mouth.

“But now I really, really must go. We’ll talk about this later, all right?” He kissed the backs of her fingers. “I promise.”

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

Aww, isn’t that nice? Communication! Resolution! A willingness to understand each other and make things right!

Well I’m sorry, but we can’t have that. For the sake of the plot, I needed to carry on driving as big a wedge between these two as possible, so I ended up swapping the above out for this:

“Jaspher, wait,” Melora descended the stairs, reaching out as he yanked open the front door. “About last night… I just wanted to say that I’m—”

The door swung shut just as she reached the bottom, obscuring him from view.


Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

… Shame.

S.E. Berrow

Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 11: Questions 10 and 11

Part of the 30 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

Well, one of my characters is in a retroactive, cross-dimensional relationship with a faerie prince from one of K.F. Goodacre‘s stories… Does that count?

I shall endeavour to explain. I can’t remember how the subject came up exactly, but Kim and I were once discussing the sexuality of our characters. I have two canonical LGBT+ characters in The Mayor: John, who is bisexual; and Nell, who is a lesbian.

Mary Read and Anne Bonny
Much has been made of the sexualities of the pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny over the years, but of course never confirmed. I drew a lot of inspiration for Nell’s character from these two fascinating women.

Important note: I am aware I’m applying modern-day labels to characters that have no concept of such things here. Though same-sex relations happened in the 18th century (obviously), academic understanding of sexuality during this period was severely limited. And despite being one of the more sexually liberated historical eras, sex between men was punishable by death. Whilst sex between women was (laughably) seen as an impossibility and therefore not illegal (see here), they could be cornered on some other capital charge like witchcraft or fraud if they got found out. John has a well-referenced relationship with a male character in The Mayor in addition to his relationships with women, and Nell repeatedly demonstrates she cares more for the company of women than she does men. Ergo, I use these labels when talking about their sexuality, because from a modern-day perspective, this is what I believe they would identify as if they were living in this day and age.

During this discussion, Kim remarked on how well-suited her character Huckleberry was to John. I found myself in agreement with her. They’re both extroverted, both fun-loving and adventurous, both have a wicked sense of humour and both are, it has to be said, exactly the other one’s type.

So, being writing partners, what did we do? Well, we wrote about it of course! And because I enjoyed what we wrote so much (as mentioned in my last blog post, John’s character didn’t come easily to me; writing something this fun and wacky really helped), I decided to sneak it into The Mayor. The man I mentioned John having had a relationship with? His name is Henry Squires, and he is loosely based on Huck. Have fun with that, Dear Readers!

11. Who is your favourite character to write? Least favourite?

Speak of the devil and he shall appear…

I love writing about John. I say writing about John — not with — because unlike the other three primary characters in The Mayor, John doesn’t get a POV and has no internal monologue. Readers will only get to know him through the perceptions of other characters. This is fun for me to write, because they all have such drastically different opinions about him: Melora practically hero-worships him; Jaspher frets and rages about him in equal measure; and Kale just sees him as an utter waste of space, barely worthy of his time. The impact he has on the lives of all three however is massive. He is my spanner in the works. A sharp-tongued libertine ahead of his time. I cannot stress how hard I had to work on his character enough, but I got there in the end and it was worth it. I love writing about John. Love, love, love.

S.E. Berrow

Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 10: Question 9

As mentioned on a previous blog post, I missed a week of this challenge. Today I originally intended to answer two questions to make up for it, but my answer to Question 9 ended up being so long, I’ve decided to answer two questions next week instead (sorry!).

Part of the 30 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

The answer to this question is so complex and so hard to put into words… Bear with me, I will try my best!

The truth is that I have no fixed process for character creation, and ideas can come from absolutely anywhere. Some characters will just show up fully-formed, demanding I tell their story. Others, I will have to go hunting for them for days, weeks, months, even years until at last I am able to trap them, break them, hone them into some semblance of a believable human being. Once a character stops behaving and you start having to work around them to move your plot along, you know you’ve done a decent job of development.

For the sake of being succinct, I’m going to focus on the creation and development of two characters in particular, else we’re going to be here all day!

~ WARNING: Mild spoilers for The Mayor below. I’ll do my best to avoid them, but I can’t promise anything. You can click the character image to be taken through to their profile page ~

William Kale

William KaleA prime example of the first kind of character I mentioned above is William Kale. I’ve touched on this a couple of times before, but he basically walked into my head one day — entirely himself — whilst I was listening to ‘The Mayor’ by Rasputina. The lyrics speak of “a blonde-haired”, morally destitute, insane individual who ruins the town he is then inexplicably made mayor of (“Oh no, way to go, he’s the mayor”). Lots of lyrics in ‘The Mayor’ apply to my story as a whole (mention of sinking ships, insane asylums etc.), however there is one repeated refrain throughout that really formed the core of Kale’s character: “If they take something precious from me, I’m going to take something precious from them.”

Whilst ‘The Mayor’ was perhaps the trigger, with hindsight I think Kale’s conception might also have been heavily influenced by a couple of other things, namely books I was reading around that time (2008). Roger Chillingworth for example is a character from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter who plants himself inside the home of his unfaithful wife’s lover under the guise of a doctor and slowly poisons him to death. Like Chillingworth, Kale plants himself inside the home of the Mayor of New Hardway and seeks to overthrow him. Then there is the duplicitous Captain Kennit from Robin Hobb’s The Liveship Traders who still manages to charm and manipulate those around him despite a total lack of empathy for others; a trait that Kale definitely shares. And then there is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights who goes away, makes a fortune and later returns to act out slow, painstaking and terrible revenge on those who have wronged him… Kale can certainly relate to that. All of these books and characters seem to have fed into Kale’s creation in some way. Out of all the characters in The Mayor, he has changed the least since I first started.

Jonathan Carson

Jonathan Carson

A good example of the second kind of character meanwhile is Jonathan Carson. Ah, John. John, John, John… We’ve had a long journey, you and I. Though I had his bare bones at story start (I drew heavily on my favourite historical pirates “Calico” Jack Rackham and Stede Bonnet for his storyline/relationships with others/appearance/background etc.) there was just something… off about him that I didn’t like, and neither did a couple of my early Beta readers. He was a caricature. A stereotype. Just your typical rakish handsome sailor fond of drinking, debauching, able to draw women towards him like bees to a honeypot. But he was so important to the plot! He was literally created to fill out the plot. To be Jaspher’s brother. To show Melora that she has other options besides the life her father has chosen for her. To give the story a second half. And yet I couldn’t make him believable, let alone likeable.

Eventually I was able to figure out the reason why: out of the four main characters, John and I have the least in common. Yes, believe it or not, I have more in common with a psychopath like Kale then I do with John. This was of course a problem, because it meant I didn’t understand John. And if I didn’t understand him, then how could I possibly expect my readers to?

After this epiphany, I set about taking as many Character Quizzes for John as I possibly could. You know the ones, the ones that ask things like “What’s been the best day of your life so far?” “Who was your first kiss?” “Have you ever taken drugs?” Gradually the character of John began to develop. He became more three-dimensional. Writing him became easier. I still wasn’t entirely happy though.

Then one miserable afternoon in December 2011, someone told me something really awful that had happened to them. Something that disturbed and upset me so much that I just couldn’t keep it to myself else I’d go mad. So I poured it into my writing, and applied what I had heard to John. Suddenly his character made sense to me. It became apparent why he goes out drinking all the time, why he leads such a hedonistic lifestyle, why his brother thinks he’s off the rails, and why his father continually turns a blind eye to his reckless behaviour.

John’s character has flowed easily for me ever since.


S.E. Berrow

Meet The Characters

I have added a new section to The Mayor section of my website entitled ‘Meet The Characters’. Here you can see beautiful illustrations of each of my four main characters –Melora, Jaspher, Kale and John — drawn for me by my wonderful illustrator, Brettarts (read more about him in Affiliates).

By clicking a character image you can read more information about their story as well as discover some fun stuff like what dæmon I think they would have (Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials), what Hogwarts house they belong to (J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter) or what Tarot Card I most associate them with.

I may add to these character pages as time goes on so be sure to check back regularly for updates. In the meantime, click here to get acquainted.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow