Me, Me, Me

Born in Sweden and raised (mostly) in Townsville (Australia), I currently live in Sydney (because that's where the paying job is). My time is divided between earning a crust, playing video games, reading (novels, manga, the interweb), gardening, and dragging string about for my cats to chase. Somewhere among all that I write novels.

My ambition is to possess a self-earning crust, so that I can spend more time playing MMO's writing, and so that I can buy a property in the country and plant lots of trees that go fun colours in Autumn.

The cats are called Cinnamon, Summer and Autumn, I have three maples so far, and the house in the country is probably going to have to hold off until retirement.

What's in a name?

My family name is Höst (pronounced "Hurst") .  Yet the name my immediate family goes by is Hösth (also pronounced "Hurst" but generally pronounced by strangers as "Host-thffff...umm?" and other valiant variations).  I only recently learned the explanation for this complication.

My great-grandfather in Sweden was a knekt (Jack or Knave) in the military.  Like many other people in Sweden, his name was based on the old naming custom for sons to inherit their father's first name and make it into a surname, eg. Andersson, Svensson, Pettersson, Johansson, Gustafsson, Nilsson, etc.

This naturally caused some complications when joining the military as so many people had the same names, so to distinguish between the knektarna, the conscripts would get "knave names". And those were usually picked from nature, like Autumn (Höst), Birch (Björk), or combinations like Autumnbirch. Many of them would then keep their "knave names" when returning home.

However, my grandmother felt that Höst didn't look dignified enough on paper, so she added an "h". Hösth. Adding the "h" made it a tad more foreign, and foreign or otherwise fancified spellings of names were a sign of nobility. So the simple name of a season became the slightly uncommon Hösth which could be viewed as a knight's name. In the old church records it still says "Höst" though.

I use the "Hösth" spelling still in everyday life, but to save readers attempting the tongue-twister it appears to present, I drop the second 'h' for my publishing name.

Of course, many people may now pronounce "Höst" as "host", but at least won't look so puzzled while doing so.

And Höst's meaning is also the explanation for this blog's name.


  1. Wonderfully convoluted, Andrea and fascinating!

  2. Hi Andrea,

    I am an avid reader of everything (being a middle-aged working mother, I consider my Kindle my drug of choice) and I happily download 'free' books in the hope of discovering something worthwhile. Ordinarily, the experience is at best mediocre, at worst, down right awful but Stray was one of those books that immediately struck a cord with me.

    It took me a couple of days to read Book 1, I even avoided a netball match because I couldn't put it down, and didn't waste anytime downloading Lab Rat One as soon as I had finished it. I am always a little bit wary of second books in a trilogy (geez, I am coming across a little too thoughtful here, I apologise in advance :-)) but again, you produced something incredible. My thirty-something year old heart was completely invested in the relationship and the odd tear was spilled over the final scene.

    My only complaint is, had I realised the Caszandra was only out on the 25th I would have tried to pace myself a little better because I now have to fill 2 weeks before I can feed my habit again!

    I hope that the e-book will follow not to long after the paper version but even so, this trilogy will not only languish within my Kindle but will also be taking up bookcase space because it really is that good.

    Well done you :-)
    (United Kingdom)

  3. I found the touchstone series a great read. I think it would make a great movie or TV series. Can't wait for Caszandra to be released.
    I am sorry the series will come to an end.

  4. I fully agree that the Touchstone series would make a great movie (several in a series as one would not do justice to it), especially with the special effects they are capable of today. The down side would be Andrea would then be able to retire - but hopefully keep writing and publishing.
    I read the 'Hunger Games' before seeing the movie and was disappointed in the movie - it didn't have the same depth as the book. Had I watched the movie without reading the book first, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. I wonder how the author feels about the end result?
    I enjoyed the series immensely, and I believe my sister has re-read it a number of times (she said Si-Fi was not her thing, then I gifted her the series). Her husband still talks to me though!

  5. Hi Andrea,
    did very much enjoyed reading about the origins of your name, and how to pronounce it.

  6. Enjoyed the Touchstone series! Downloaded the first book free from Amazon and then I had to know what was happening next. Yes, bought the next two books. Then, I had to get the epilogue. Now, I've bought and read (and keeping on my kindle because I've already done a re-read) all the books you have available on Amazon. When is your next book going to be released?

    1. Hi Liza - the next book is "Hunting" which is out in February. Theoretically on the 4th, but I'm not sure I'll make that date.

  7. You ruined me for other literary heroes. Can we have some Kaoren Ruuel fan service? lol

  8. Hi :-)

    I just finished reading the touchstone series and the only negative thing I could say is that I really wish there were more! I would love to see the development of the rest of the characters, even if it meant seeing it through someone else's point of view. I have fallen in love with so many of the characters, its very hard to see it end.

    The world you created in those books is by far my favorite of all the books I've read (which is saying a lot since I read so many of this type of book)

    I've been currently recommending your books to every one of my friends so I hope that these books can get the following they deserve. :-)

  9. I'm glad you've enjoyed them, Anons.

  10. Hi Andrea,

    Finished the touchstone trilogy awhile ago(re-reading, and trying to get all my friends to read, lol) It's difficult for some of my friends, since it is only available in electronic format in Canada(anything you could do to help with that?). Would love to read another year or more in this trilogy, and would love to see the earth and munian cultures together, and especially the struggles of both cultures to get along with each other(mostly this is from an avid reader who loves long well-written series).

    Would be cool to see the setari come to earth...


    1. I hope that message comes off as desperate for more material, and praise for your good writing, and not criticism(the only I have is that I would like more books- even the journal entries really suit the story well).

      I've also read And all the stars and hunting(would love to see more in this book as well) and they were amazing books too.

      I also think that the touchstone trilogy would do well as a movie version(If they don't cut out, and change half the storyline.. On second thought perhaps it would do better as a tv show). I would like to thank you for bringing me a few wonderful weeks, with your nice writing, and am looking forward to more books(I have gotten two more on my kindle).

      Also, do you reply to emails, or just read them, and would you consider book signings somewhere in canada?


  11. Hi Myst - I'm glad you've been enjoying the books! Yes I reply to emails (mail at should reach me).

    Touchstone would work far better as a TV series than as a movie, I think. Actually, ideally Touchstone would work as a Japanese anime, because that would allow the "learning language" aspect of the story to come across quite strongly.

    I do have plans to revisit Touchstone, but only for a couple of short stories. I have so many other books I'm wanting to write right now in different worlds!

    As for the paper versions of the books - I'm not sure which stores do and don't sell to Canada, but try the Book Depository (either the US or UK one). I buy most of my physical books from the UK one.

    1. Oh, as for book signings - I travel overseas basically once a decade (I love taking off and landing, but all the rest of long haul plane flights suck). My next overseas trip will be to Britain in August 2014 for WorldCon. If tremendously desired, I can mail signed books, but Australian postage is amazingly expensive, so you'd have to really really want one. ;)

  12. 'Stray' was amazing & I just bought 'Lab Rat One.' Can't wait to read!

  13. I discovered Stray on Amazon last Friday night, finished it on Saturday morning, and immediately purchased Lab Rat One and Caszandra. I had read all three by Sunday night and had one of the best weekends in a very long time. I can't remember the last time I read a book that I couldn't put down because I just had to know what happened next. I felt like a kid again. What a gift! Thank you.

  14. Ah, just stumbled across Stray on Goodreads and for the cheap price bought it on Amazon...Then I got super sucked in (aka overnight reading marathon). Consider myself hopelessly in love with the series! Bought the last two books, and devoured them in one day XD Now I'm off to read the read of your stuff!

  15. Finished the Touchstone Trilogy and the bonus book. Loved them! I'm now re-reading them. The second time around, I'm picking up on so many things I didn't take in the first time. I really loved how you did the bonus book to wrap up all the little questions.

  16. I don't imagine you have anything you envision as your 'target demographic,' but I'm going to guess that '64-year-old American philosophy teachers' might not have been it. I'd just like to say how wonderfully impressed I was by Stray and how happy I am to have discovered your writing. I'm now starting Caszandra, the anxiety that this particular journey will soon end balanced by the knowledge that there are other of your books to be discovered. My heartfelt compliments on your achievement.

  17. I'm glad you've all been enjoying them. :) I always find it fascinating how powerfully the Touchstone Trilogy reaches people. It's a very non-traditional sort of book.

  18. Please, please, please, consider allowing this series to become audio books.
    I read them all in one marathon session (2-3 days and nights, I think) without being able to go to sleep because I simply had to know what happened next. My husband was very worried.
    I immediately started reading them all over again but I am taking time to sleep now. I would love to be able to listen to them on my mp3 player through my pillow speakers.
    If bribery will help, I will send chocolates.
    Yours truly,
    57 year old bookaholic.

  19. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :) Unfortunately, unless a viable method for audiobooks opens for Australian self-pubbers, audiobooks will be some time off. I am keeping an ear open for options.

  20. I've read the Touchstone series four times now and purchased it through Amazon for four friends/family members. I absolutely love this series and your writing. There is just something about the character's likeness to our own but with powers we've all dreamed of having that sucks me in to this alternative world every time. I tell people before I talk about the series that I'm not particularly religious, but I am evangelical about Touchstone. I just bought the trilogy on Amazon for a co-worker before seeing that you've discounted the individual books greatly, but I'm happy to pay full price for this set. Thank you, Andrea, for this escape.

  21. Today I finished reading the Touchstone trilogy and I just !!!!!!! I have no words! I was hooked from the start and I grew very attached to Cass and the others. I actually cried at one point (when Ys was confronting Cass about being selfish). It was an awesome ride from start to finish. (And I'm not quite ready to let go of the story just yet, which is why I just bought the epilogue on smashwords.)
    I remember reading that the story started out as a diary writing exercise sort of thing, and I was inspired to do something similar. Probably nothing that will be published or anything like that – I'm just hoping it'll be a fun experience.

    1. "For fun" is how Touchstone started. No matter what you end up with, so long as it was fun to do, you've won. :)

  22. I love the Touchstone series, but I love Pyramids of London even more. The world is fascinating, and I love both of the POV characters, and I was so drawn to the Great Grove and also to Forest House. I put Pyramids on my Hugo nomination ballot and talked it up to many of my friends.
    I am so looking forward to your next book set in that world! If you end up using different POV characters or not spending much time in the Great Grove, that is okay; I have confidence that you will have something else interesting to me.
    (...small voice...) is it going to be very much longer?

    1. Hi Cat Sittingstill! I'm glad you enjoyed Pyramids! I really love how rich the world has been. The next book will be short stories about the trip to France before they start school, and will probably be out in July. Tangleways won't be out until next year, I'm afraid (I wasn't expecting how much I'd end up writing about France).

      We do get to see a lot more of the Great Forest, but it doesn't really come into primary focus again until Book 4 (Eluned in the Underworld, as I'm informally calling it) which involves Ned getting to know the Forest rather more than is comfortable.

      Ned and Rian are the primary characters all through the series (although we do get a short story from Griff's POV for the trip to France).

  23. I have finally finally managed to convince one of my friends into reading Stray (which has only taken 10yrs, I need friends with better taste in reading!! Or to get better at persuading. It needs to be some where inbetween "IT'S SO GREAT" and  just telling them the whole plot) because she agreed to read it I have done (another) reread so we can talk about it when she's finished it. 

    It's just so great, I'm not much of a SF reader and I've struggled to find anything I've enjoyed as much as the Touchstone series so have aviod SF rather than read things that don't compare. Cass is just so sensible and asks all the questions anyone who watches SF or reads fantasy would. Which always made me wonder why she is so unique, why don't other authors write character that behave as they would themselves? Or as a group are they incredibly laid back about 'going with the flow' - which seems very unlikely!

    Thank you for all the extra additions that you've written to add to the Touchstone world, they were a delight to come across on my revisit.
    So thank you!

    P.s. After some slight Goodreads scrolling I saw you'd read quite a lot of 'Golden Age of Crime' books and just wanted to recommend George Bellairs. He is a bit like Freeman Wills Croft and John Bude but with a lighter touch and a slightly spiteful sense of humour when describing his characters.

  24. Hi Caz - Genre-savvy hero/ines are relatively rare. I've seen them more frequently in urban fantasy, but they also tend to be commonly combined with some negative character traits that don't interest me. I do enjoy them, though, particularly because being genre-savvy means skipping some of the more repetitive plot tropes - or at least having the protagonist try to. Perhaps the Trapped in an Otome Game sub-genre would work for you? The majority of protagonists have to be a little genre-savvy for that setting.

    Thanks for the Bellairs rec. I've grabbed the first book to see if I like him.


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