Today I am so pleased to welcome Cornelia Grey to Joyfully Jay. Cornelia has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Circus of the Damned. She has also brought along a chance at a fabulous giveaway! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


A Novel Experience

Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for having me here to chat a bit about my latest book, The Circus of the Damned, which happens to be my first novel-length story!

Those of you familiar with my work will know that, up until now, I have only been publishing short stories and novellas, with the shortest story standing at 6000 words. I’m not sure how I ended up somewhat ‘specializing’ in short stories. In fact, when I first started writing as a teen, I was terrible at them (so, obviously, I hated them)! I did not know how to be brief: I would start all these ambitious projects, without a definite plot, but with the vague idea that they would span for hundreds of pages… and, without fail, they lost steam and fizzled out somewhere along the way. Still, I was so wordy I found it impossible to write something shorter – how could I, when I spent pages and pages simply on description?

It was only during my degree that I finally had to tackle the issue. My assignments were short stories – super-short, in fact, averaging around 2000 words – and it was the best and hardest writing challenge I had to face. I struggled a lot in the beginning and I reacted by diving headlong into the work, stubborn and pig-headed and determined to win that particular challenge. I started to appreciate short stories and the hard work it goes into developing a whole plot, complete with the classic inciting incident, turning point and climax, in a miniature version. It was a delicate work of pruning and chiseling that I started to enjoy more and more.

The result was that I, the former queen of rambling wordiness, somehow ended up having the opposite problem – I enjoyed the miniature work so much that I ended up steering clear of longer projects for years. My patient readers often hinted that they would like to read something longer, but the stories I needed to tell just seemed to naturally fit a shorter length. I could have stretched a couple of them to novel length – adding bits and bobs, stretching out dialogues and descriptions, throwing in an accessory sub-plot or two… but it just didn’t feel right to dilute the story.

But, when I started taking notes for the plot of Circus, I quickly realized that this story would need a much longer word count… and decided it was about time I tried my hand at a longer work. I like fast-paced plots; I like the tension to remain high, without a moment of pause; I like the events to tumble one after the other without missing a beat. I knew it wouldn’t be possible to keep up the energy of a quick, incisive short story throughout a whole novel: it’s a different medium and it has different rules, so I had to learn to pace myself and take my time doling out the narrative. It’s a marathon, not a sprint; a full-course meal as opposed to a savoury snack.

It was a wonderful challenge to adapt the tools I have learned in years of writing short stories to a novel, which ended up past the 90.000 words mark, and I look forward to writing more! I’m glad to finally satisfy the readers who have been waiting for it for so long. Thank you so much for your support – this is dedicated to all of you!

Cornelia xxx


TheCircusoftheDamned_400x600Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.

But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.

Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.


Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.

After graduating with top grades, she is now busy with internships: literary agencies, publishing houses, and creative departments handling book series, among others. She also works as a freelance translator.

She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.

Connect with Cornelia:


Win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear. Each new post you comment on earns you an entry into the drawing, so be sure to check out the rest of the tour schedule  too!

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