Bad Soul Uncanny Ink Series Book 1 by David Bussell & M.V. Stott Genre: Urban Fantasy
Promises, rules, bones; Erin Banks will break them all.
Unscrupulous and lethal, Erin has everything she needs to be an assassin in a world full of mobsters, monsters, and magic.
She wasn’t born with powers, but thanks to her Uncanny Ink—arcane tattoos that transform her body into a magic-fuelled killing machine—she’s more than a match for anyone dumb enough to stand between her and getting paid.
Fresh out of prison, Erin wastes no time getting back to what she does best: running down wanted men and claiming their bounties.
But when a powerful demon lurking in a black cathedral hires her to round up an errant soul, the creature offers a reward far more valuable than money…
He offers Erin the key to unlocking her tragic past. The key to the mystery surrounding her long-lost brother.
Magic, scares, and acid-tongued snark collide in this thrilling urban fantasy series set in the Uncanny Kingdom. Buried secrets and whiplash twists will keep you riding the edge of your seat. Read Bad Soul now for a pulse-pounding tale you won’t be able to put down.
Praise for Bad Soul:
"Bussell and Stott deliver a dark and gripping read in Bad Soul, marking Uncanny Ink as a must-read series for urban fantasy fans." ~ Readers' Favorite
"The writing is very colorful with lots of British slang and strange and seedy characters. The plot is fast and furious with unexpected developments and exciting scenes. A nice piece of gritty urban fantasy." ~ Kasey's Book Nook
"Hits the ground running and doesn't stop." ~ Sean Cunningham, Author of the Hawthorn House series
"Bussell and Stott deliver a dark and gripping read in Bad Soul, marking Uncanny Ink as a must read series for Urban Fantasy fans." ~ Inspired Chaos
"Smart, funny, irreverent with tons of action... [Bad Soul] has it all in spades." ~ K. Bird Lincoln
This story starts with me in jail, locked up for a crime I didn’t commit. Framed. A huge miscarriage of justice. My freedom cruelly and unjustly torn from my blameless hands.
Okay, technically I may have broken a guy’s legs in fifteen different places, but in my defence, I did it for money. For lots of money. The kind of money that justifies a shattered kneecap or two, and really, who holds on to stuff like that anyway? His bones would heal just as quickly as the red drained from my bank balance. Everyone was happy. Well, at least until the whole prison thing.
My name is Erin Banks. I’m twenty-eight, a Taurus, not a fan of dogs (or cats) (or people), and I have arcane tattoos across my shoulders and arms that leach magic from the air around me. Actually, my full name is Erin Gertrude Banks, but if you ever bring up my middle name I’ll snap your thumbs, deal?
Okay, moving on...
‘Hold on a moment there, Gertrude—’
What did I just say?
‘--Can we please go back to that whole “arcane tattoos” business? What’s all that about?’
Okay, long story short, magic is real: a supernatural radiation that permeates all natural things, the fundamental energy of creation itself. And yeah, there are monsters, of course there are. I’m talking ghosts, demons, undead armies, basically a whole steaming pile of secret stuff that you don’t have a bloody clue about. I know, terrifying, right? For you, I mean, not for me. It’s a world I forced myself into a long time ago, a world where I work as a private investigator, as an assassin, as hired muscle, as basically anything a bit dangerous and dubious that you want to throw money at me for.
Oh, you spotted the word “assassin” there, didn’t you? Thing is, I don’t just break people’s legs, I also kill if the money is right, or even if it’s not right – say if I’m at a loose end on a lonely Tuesday afternoon.
So how did an average, non-magical, run-of-the-mill girl from a working-class, Brighton family end up punching werewolves in the nuts and smacking the tits off vampires?
Well, there’s a whole backstory leading up to that part, but I’ll come back to that later. Like I said up top, this story starts with me in jail, six months into a three-year stretch, so let’s begin there.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been in jail. I’d served a few months here and there—bit of an occupational hazard—but three years? That was serious time. And so, so boring. It got so bad that I’d started shit-talking people in the showers in the hope that they jumped me with a shiv. Anything to break up the ovary-curdling tedium of it all.
Another two and a half years of that and my brain was going to turn into gruel.
‘Oi, Banks,’ barked Lolita, one of the prison guards.
His real name was Jake Thomas, but the inmates had given him the nickname due to the fact that he looked about fourteen and wore tight trousers that hugged his arse just right, driving a significant percentage of the inmates nutty with sexual frustration. The bloody great tease.
‘What’s up, Lolita?’ I asked, looking up from the razor-thin mattress of my bunk, upon which I was passing the time by lying very still and doing bugger all.
‘It’s Mr Thomas. Not Lolita: Mr Thomas.’
‘Are those trousers even tighter today?’ I asked, leaning over and eyeing the pleasing curve of his regulation slacks.
Red crept into his cheeks. ‘Got a visitor for you.’
I sat up, surprised. ‘Really?’
Lolita waved for me to follow. I frowned and hopped off the bunk, following him out of my cell. A visitor? Sad as it may sound, I didn’t exactly have a wide circle of friends. Maybe it’s the “assassin” thing, people can get really uppity about that. Anyway, the point is, I tended not to get much in the way of drop-ins. Matter of fact, the only visitor I did get was my cousin Lana, but she visited on Wednesdays, and this wasn’t a Wednesday, it was a Friday. Very different days. Friday doesn’t even have a “W” in it. Ridiculous.
‘Who is it?’ I asked as Lolita’s tight buns swayed back and forth before me like a hypnotist’s pocket watch.
‘How should I know? I was just sent to get you.’
Well, this was all very mysterious. Still, it broke up my afternoon nicely seeing as all I’d had in my diary was six hours more of doing absolutely nothing, followed by sleep. I tucked my long, dark hair behind my ears and followed on, my feet clattering along the metal gantry, then down a set of equally metal steps.
Lolita opened the door to the visits hall, or the “visits hell” as it had come to be known, owing to its sickly yellow decor, stale sweat bouquet, and general air of desperate misery. Still, it made a nice change from my cell.
The person I found waiting for me came—it’s fair to say—as something of a surprise.
‘Hello, Erin,’ said my dad, standing up from a Formica table and wringing his hands nervously around a rolled-up newspaper, the print coming off on his damp fingers.
‘Well,’ I said, my mouth flapping soundlessly for longer than I liked, ‘well.’ I grimaced, annoyed that I’d reacted so stupidly. So weakly. The last thing I wanted was for my dad to see me on the back foot. I’d spent years cultivating a Don’t give a shit, always ready for what comes my way attitude, and a lot of that was because of him. No, flummoxed was not my brand.
Dad gestured at the chair on the opposite side of the table, and I took a seat.
‘Five minutes,’ said Lolita, tapping his wristwatch, ‘visiting time is almost up.’ He turned and headed off, the soles of his boots slapping the ground like wet fish.
‘Hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave,’ I told him with a wink.
Lolita smiled, then frowned, then hurried away.
‘Great guy,’ I said, turning back to my dad and crossing my arms. ‘Did you check out that arse? You could open a bottle of Corona with that thing.’
What followed were several long seconds of awkward silence. Probably at least fifteen seconds, but it felt more like a good day and a half of pure, constricting agony.
Dad looked older. Greyer. Fatter. Tired. Looked like he’d shrunk by a good inch. I stared at him, unwilling to look away even as his big, basset hound eyes caught mine and darted aside.
‘It’s… well, it’s good to see you,’ he said, finally.
The feeling was not mutual. This was the first time my dad had visited me since I got banged up. In fact, it was the first time he’d spoken to me in almost four years, and we were hardly on close terms before that. Yeah, my parents and I had some issues. But we’ll get to that.
‘So, Erin,’ he mumbled, ‘how’s prison?’
I laughed. It erupted from me in a single, loud bark that caught the attention of the other visitors dotted around the hall.
‘Awesome, Dad, just brilliant. Two thumbs up. It’s karaoke night tonight, always a highlight of the week.’
‘They let you have karaoke nights?’
‘No, Dad, I’m in fucking prison. Actually, there is a woman called Mandy three cells down who likes to scream Neil Diamond songs at three in the morning, but that’s mostly because she’s completely mental. Fair play to her though, that nutbag can carry a tune.’
Dad didn’t react, just quietly waited until I shut up. A proper Dad move, that one. Just ignore the hysterical girl while she stamps her feet and shouts.
I glanced at the clock hanging on the wall beside me. Three minutes left until visiting hours were over. Might as well say something to pass the time. ‘So, how’s Mum?’
‘Still wants nothing to do with me even after finding out I’m in jail?’
He looked to the floor.
My heart was beating like crazy, smashing against my chest like it was trying to escape. I felt sure my dad could hear it. Could hear how his visit was affecting me. I hated that it was. I wrapped my arms tightly around myself, hoping to muffle the sound. I knew he couldn’t hear it really, that it was a percussive showcase with an audience of one, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
‘She doesn’t know I’m here,’ he said. ‘Your mum.’
‘Ooh, bit naughty, Dad. If she finds out you came and visited your own flesh and blood she’ll have your nuts for earrings.’
He grimaced. ‘Erin, stop it.’
I leaned forward, jabbing a finger at him. ‘No. You don’t get to tell me what to do or how to act. Not ever. You lost that right when you turned your back on me.’
‘That’s not fair.’
‘Yeah, well life’s a dick, get over it. I have.’
Dad’s cheeks flushed. He checked his watch.
‘Sorry, am I keeping you from something?’
‘No. No, sorry, I…’
‘Why are you here, Dad?’
‘Lana told me.’
‘Of course, she did, I told her not to.’
‘She cares about you.’
‘Well, it’s nice somebody in the family does, isn’t it?’
Another few seconds of awkward, brooding silence.
‘This was a mistake,’ he said, and stood.
I wanted him to stay, to sit down, to talk. I wanted him to turn away, walk out, and never come back.
‘Okay, off you fuck, then,’ I said, fists bunched.
He took a step away, then paused. ‘Take care of yourself, Erin. Please. I don’t…’ He faltered. ‘Just stay safe.’
He turned and scurried away, not looking back.
I stood, defiant, sad, angry. ‘Don’t worry about me, Dad, one of life’s winners, I am. Doing just awesome. Best life ever.’
The door closed behind him and he was gone.
Get the Rest of the Series Below!
Bad Blood: An Uncanny Kingdom Urban Fantasy (The Uncanny Ink Series Book 2) Goodreads * Amazon
Bad Justice: An Uncanny Kingdom Urban Fantasy (The Uncanny Ink Series Book 3) Goodreads * Amazon
Bad Intention: An Uncanny Kingdom Urban Fantasy (Uncanny Ink Book 4) Goodreads * Amazon
Bad Thoughts: An Uncanny Kingdom Urban Fantasy (The Uncanny Ink Series Book 5) Goodreads * Amazon
Bad Memories: An Uncanny Kingdom Urban Fantasy (The Uncanny Ink Series Book 6) Goodreads * Amazon
David Bussell is a winner of the P.G. Wodehouse New Comic Writer Award. David is an avid fencer, and a committed comic book fan. Rumours that David was conceived on an Indian burial ground remain unfounded
Matthew Stott writes strange stories. Influenced by the likes of seminal TV show ‘Doctor Who’, and writers Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, he crafts stories full of creep, wonder, and adventure. Matthew is not a murderer.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself? Sure. We’re David Bussell and M.V. Stott, creators and co-writers ofUncanny Kingdom,a UK-based Urban Fantasy universe.
The universe came into being one fateful day when we were sat in a pub, beers in hand, discussing our next writing ventures. For years, we’d been working together on screenplays (some produced, most not) and had each decided to move away from TV writing and into penning novels.
We discussed where we were at with our individual projects and learned that one of us was working on a story about a kick-ass witch's familiar (Matt), while the other was writing about a phantom detective (David). Realising that we were both working within the Urban Fantasy genre, we had the bright idea of putting both of our characters in the same world and developing a shared universe together.
Seeing as both of our books was set in the United Kingdom, we decided to lean into the Angocentric angle and call our brand Uncanny Kingdom. Since then, we’ve written almost 30 titles set in that shared universe, and we’re showing no signs of stopping yet.
One of the great things about the Uncanny Kingdom is that, because they all of the stories take place in the same universe, we get to cross-pollinate characters across different series. As a reader, you don’t need to have read the books in any particular order. You don’t have to read all of them. Read everything, read some, read a single book if you like, it's entirely up to you (although we’d really prefer if you read everything, because we like to eat and pay our mortgages).
Where were you born?
David is London born and bred; his familiarity with the city being one of the reasons he uses it as the setting for his gritty Spectral Detective series. Matt spent his formative years in Cumbria (way up in the nosebleeds of England), and used this rural setting for his Dark Lakes books. Cumbria is home to the national park known as the Lake District, but perhaps more interestingly, the famous Derwent Pencil Museum!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
David likes to listen to synthwave music, read from his extensive comic book collection, and fence épée. Matt enjoys Doctor Who and complaining about Doctor Who on his Doctor Who blog.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The moment a comedy sketch we wrote won a major cash prize in a talent competition. The money from that allowed us to cut back on our day jobs and really devote ourselves to the craft.
Which of your novels can you imagine being made into a movie?
As far as we’re concerned, any of the Uncanny Kingdom titles would adapt beautifully into a screenplay. You hear that, Netflix? YOU HEAR?!
Can you tell us a little bit aboutBad Soul? Bad Soul is the story or Erin Banks, a hard-living, foul-mouthed young woman who plies a trade as a hired killer. Erin isn’t of a paranormal origin, but wears arcane tattoos that enable her to perform certain supernatural feats. These magical tattoos are supplied by her blind (yes, blind) tattooist and handler, Parker.
Erin is human sledgehammer with an uncanny flair for self-preservation, but then she needs to be given that she operates in a world populated by monsters, gangsters, and competing assassins. Another thing that gives Erin an edge is her… let’s call it moral flexibility. This is not a woman burdened by scruples. Demon or angel, sinner or saint, if the price is right, Erin Banks will take you down.
Tell us about some of the other characters from the book.
Among Erin’s allies are her cousin, Lana (a regular housewife with a heart of gold), and her informant, Cupid (a filthy cherub who is anything but regular).
Also within Erin’s orbit are the Galoffis (a sort of incestuous Addams Family), and a giant demon called The Long Man who points her toward people who need killing. Erin does this in exchange for information relating to the whereabouts of her long-lost brother, who was snatched from his crib as an infant; kidnapped by a pig walking on its hind legs.
It’s a whole thing.
What inspired you to write this book?
The Uncanny Kingdom characters we’d written up until this point had all had a clear moral centre. We thought it would be interesting to explore an anti-hero character. Someone with a moral code you’d need an Enigma machine to crack it.
Did you learn anything during the writing ofBad Soul?
We learned to write better collaboratively. Up until the point we started this book, we’d operated independently, each of us working on his own Uncanny Kingdom series in parallel. We’dpay close attention to each other’s work, of course—plugging plot holes, making sure that none of the rules of our universe were broken, fixing each other’s atrocious spelling—butBad Soulwas the first time we both invested in a single title. We got a lot out of that.
We also learned a surprising amount about tattoos, particularly very, very bad ones. Why would someone have the word “urinal” inked onto their face? We don’t know, either, but trust us, it happens!
If you could spend time with a character from your book, who would it be?
We’d probably go for fish and chips with Erin’s cousin, Lana. The rest of the characters in Bad Soul are pretty much all reprobates. Lovable enough, but reprobates nonetheless.
What else can you tell us about this book? Bad Soul is the first title in the Uncanny Ink series, which has been our longest series to date, running at six books so far. Erin Banks is also set to make an appearance in one of our forthcoming books, so that will be a nice treat for her fans.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
We like Mila Kunis for the role, so long as she can pull off the accent.
How long have you been writing?
Writing together; getting on for 12 years now. Wow, 12 years. When we say it like that… yeesh.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
A fair chunk, particularly in regards to locations and setting. We really hope that authenticity is reflected in the body of our work, because we’ve read some Urban Fantasy books set in England that were written by writers on the other side of the pond, and… oh boy… not good.
Do you see writing as a career?
Very much so, and a fulfilling one at that. The idea that people are willing to lay down money for the stuff that spews from our brain meat never gets old.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
If possible, we like to work on at least two at a time. That way, instead of messing around on social media, we can make another book our method of procrastination.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
David wrote a short story in primary school that ended up in the school library; the rest just snowballed from there. Matt has wanted to write since he first started complaining about his beloved Doctor Who.
A day in the life of the author?
A constant vacillation between numb butt cheeks and trips to the fridge.
Describe your writing style.
Lean. Fast. Irreverent.
What makes a good story?
At this point, with the endless barrage of quality content we’re exposed to every day, anything that can take root in the audience’s head and still be there a year from now.
What are you currently reading?
David is reading Junji Ito’s Tomie. Matt is reading Terry Pratchett’s Mort.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Making too big of a deal of the effort that goes into writing a book. Sure, it’s a slog, but once you’ve reached the top of the mountain, you realise it ain’t so bad. The trick is to get up that mountain and move on to the next one as soon as possible. Because the truth is, unless you’re one of the rare few who writes a sublime work of genius on their first outing, it’s going to take more than one mountain before you write anything worth reading.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
A truly great Netflix series.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Writer’s block is a luxury that independent authors don’t really have.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Buy shares in Apple. And get a damned hair cut.
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