Read ‘Naoko’ on Aether & Ichor

Happy to say another of my stories has been picked up!

‘Naoko’ is a prequel to the story ‘Year of the Money Lender’ that appears in my debut collection, Beaten to a Pulp! and details Sato’s life following the great fire (YML was first published by Freedom Fiction back in Feb.)

‘Naoko’ was published by the excellent fantasy website (and fellow WordPressers) Aether & Ichor.

You can read it here.

(Photo: Freedom Fiction)


She said her name was Mitsuko, but it was definitely Naoko. An older Naoko, yes, a Naoko with an unnatural, smiling veneer, certainly, but still, it was Naoko all the same. Even through the years and the thick make-up Sato knew it was her. The geisha’s giggle and simpering servitude were Mitsuko, mama of the willow house, but the eyes – which simultaneously held both the fire of her temper and ice of her disdain – said Naoko.

Sato recognised her as soon as she entered the six-mat room at the back of the house – the quietest room. The make-up could disguise the line of the face, the shape of the nose and even the years of hard experience written into a woman’s face, but it couldn’t do anything about the eyes. Naoko’s were black, terribly black, and as soon as Sato saw them they instantly filled him with the familiar thrill of fear and excitement, as if it had been only yesterday he had last seen them, and not fifty years ago. If this tremble were not enough evidence in itself, when she bowed in a low kow-tow he saw the bubbling scar tissue on the nape of her neck – painted paler still than it already was.

Read the full story


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