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Monday 25 May 2020

๐Ÿ“š Segment 1: Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman - Alan M. Clark

Welcome to the first segment in the serialisation of Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman, an Illustrated Novelette by (, IFD Publishing, 69 pages). A story of hope enduring in the midst of illness and death.

The entire story will be presented in segments, one per day over the course of two weeks, here, on Alan M. Clark's Facebook page, on the Facebook pages of the TBR-Trimming Book Club, Flying Cake, FriendsNecon, Alone with the Horrors, The River’s Edge, Kindle Kitchen, Ripperology Books and More, Books Reviews and More, and on GreyDogTales blog.

Each of the 14 segments will have at least one illustration.

“Alan M. Clark has a remarkable ability to evoke the past as a tangible, breathing thing, immersing the reader in times long gone – and thankfully long gone, for most. In this novelette, he combines his keen eye for period with a sense of menace and melancholy which yet bears a glimmer of hope. A moving read.” —John Linwood Grant, author of A Persistence of Geraniums & The Assassin’s Coin

|| Synopsis || Segments: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 || About the Author ||


In 1884 London, 12-year-old Albert Gladwyck must decide whether to follow his generous heart or learn to harden it in the harsh world in which he lives. As a River Thames scavenger, he has made the find of a lifetime, a wrecked boat full of goods, washed up on the Isle of Dogs and hidden from view. To save himself and his Mum from severe poverty, he must try to make salvage from the wreck before the other mudlarks find it, before the bully, George Hardly, catches up to him, before illness and death from the poisonous river have a say in the matter.

This lavishly illustrated novelette gives a glimpse into a time when the pauper child was ubiquitous in the city. It is the fanciful tale about the choices a desperate child might make in such an environment to survive.

Enjoy the first segment below, and join us for the next 14 days for the whole story, notes, curiosities and trivia.

"Wrestling in the Thames": click here to purchase the original drawings by Alan M. Clark
Limehouse and the Isle of Dogs 
October 30, 1884

      Half-submerged in the murky River Thames, twelve-year-old Albert Gladwick struggled to keep the fallen tree limb from getting away. His new friend, Turvey, worked to free a long, torn length of blue linen from the branch’s twiggy clutches. If they could free it, they’d earn perhaps three pence selling the fabric. Hugging the limb under his right arm and leaning forward, digging his toes into the mud and grit of the river bottom, Albert fought the current that was trying to drag the heavy branch downstream. Though he did his best to ignore his imagination, he couldn’t help thinking that unseen creatures moved through the water surrounding him.
      Turvey leapt again and again to break the twigs holding the cloth, his splashing about so vigorous the foul water’s faint odor of slops rose up around them. Albert's mother, Chelsey, called that smell a pong. “It’s the foul breath of the grundylows, what live in the water,” she’d told him. “Bubbles rising from the river, that’s their breath. It’s how most illness comes into the world. You see that, move swiftly to get away.”
      The insistent current pulled Albert upright, then backwards until he lost his footing on the river bottom. Feeling something brush along his right hip, he cried out and let go.
      Holding onto the fabric, Turvey leaned back, bracing himself to hang on. Albert twisted around and sloshed forward to lend a hand. He hoped the action took him away from whatever might be after him. Before he could assist his friend, the last few twigs holding the cloth broke away and the limb continued moving downstream.
      The water calmer, Albert saw nothing but green-brown light twisting in the current. I don’t believe in Grundylows, he told himself, and turned to the other boy. “You saved us a mad scramble through the water.”
      Turvey reeled in the sodden linen. His bad eye bulged from its socket as he grinned.
      Albert became aware that the weight of the large canvas sack he routinely carried over his shoulder was missing. Its makeshift strap had been loose. Empty but for a piece of roofing lead he’d found earlier, the sack had surely gone downriver with the branch. Albert cursed his damnable bad luck, then quickly turned away from the thought.
      “A good thing one of us can hold fast,” Turvey said with a scoffing laugh.
      Though they’d known each other a mere two days, Albert had got used to his friend’s jeering remarks. “Right, I can’t keep a grip on much today—lost my sack in the fight.”
      “Serves you right.”
      Albert swallowed the insults that collected on his tongue—none of them had been clever enough. A rather earnest child, he wasn’t practiced at the good-natured jibes his friend enjoyed. He’d work on that. In the meantime, all he could do was to take the abuse in stride.
      “Badly stained,” Turvey said, “but not much rot.” He shook water from the blue fabric, folded it roughly, and placed it in his own collection sack, which was more of a leather bucket with small holes punched in it to allow liquid to flow out.
      The boys slogged their way back to the bank where they’d been sitting when they first spied the cloth in the branch floating by.

Mudlarks and the Silent Highwayman copyright © 2020 Alan M. Clark

Come back tomorrow for the second segment of Mudlarks and The Silent Highwayman, or purchase your electronic or paperback copy from...

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(The price for the paperback will be reduced to $7.95 on starting on the 29th of May)

About the Author

Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. As a writer and illustrator, he is the author of sixteen published books, including 11 novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork.

His illustrations have appeared in books of fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction and children's books.

Awards for his work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. Mr. Clark's company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audio books, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson.

Follow Alan M. Clark:

Visit the author's blog Visit the author's website Visit the author on Facebook Visit the  the Rivers Edge on Facebook Visit the author on LinkedIn Visit the author on their Amazon page Visit the author on GoodReads Visit the author on Instagram Visit the author on BookBub


Alan M. Clark said...

Thank you--that looks great!

BooksChatter said...

Hi Alan, thank you! Glad you like it :-)