New story available: “With Dust Their Glittering Towers: A Fly-Leaves Story”

¬†About two years ago, while working on a historical novel about a prominent Baconian, I began entertaining the idea of writing a cycle of short stories centered around the idea of a secret guild of women dedicated to investigating the supernatural mysteries surrounding the life of Sir Francis Bacon. This would be based–sometimes loosely and other times with as much unwavering historical accuracy as I could wrangle–on the Ladies’ Guild of Francis St. Alban, a mostly forgotten but extremely fascinating society founded in London in 1905 by the devout Baconian Mrs. Henry Pott (aka Constance Mary Pott, not to be confused, as is sometime the case, with her daughter of the same name, who was a noted artist), who had also inspired the formation of the Bacon Society of London in 1886.

Mrs. Henry Pott (1836-1915)

My cycle of stories would take the premise that a secret guild, called the Fly-Leaves, formed much earlier than the real-life Ladies’ Guild of Francis St. Alban, and that this secret society would plumb the stranger mysteries that were too “out there” for the more traditionalist Baconians, many of whom themselves believed that Bacon was the true author of the Shakespeare plays. The stories would be written in a modern, present-tense style that would yet strive to evoke the period in which they were set, which would span the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. “With Dust Their Glittering Towers”–which has just been released in The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno, a charity anthology for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life–is the first story I’ve written for the Fly-Leaves series. It features intrepid Baconian Alicia Amy Leith, whose trip to Highgate takes a turn for the weird as she explores the crumbling ruins that mark the site of Sir Francis Bacon’s death. Having been inspired by an article by the real-life Alicia Leith, I spent a lot of time researching the historical details behind this one, and then a heck of a lot of time revising and polishing it. While authors are often blind to which of their works are of merit, I’m not afraid to say I think it’s possible this is my best piece of fiction yet–though doubtless I have made some historical blunder somewhere, and I hope the present-day Baconians can forgive the tale’s more fantastic elements. Many thanks to David Herter, one of the most brilliant authors I know, and my wife, Laura, a sharp baloney detector, for being my first readers on this story. I currently count ten entries in my “Story Ideas” file for potential Fly-Leaves stories, though I don’t know if all of these will be written. The current plan is for there to be one long novella, titled “Strange Promus,” which will be set just prior to “With Dust Their Glittering Towers,” and several more short stories that I will squeeze in to my writing schedule as time permits. The hope is to eventually collect the entire Fly-Leaves cycle under one set of covers, though that’s undoubtedly getting ahead of myself! For now, the first installment, “With Dust Their Glittering Towers,” is out there for you to read if you feel so inclined. Oh, yes, and an ebook edition of The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno is coming soon. I’ll post the relevant links when it goes live.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-????)