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Bone Lines

By Stephanie Bretherton

Love is evolutionary…

Sci-fi & Fantasy | Women
104% funded
114 supporters

Publication date: September 2018

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Gracefully written, carefully researched, and always alert to the issues it raises, the dual narrative of Stephanie Bretherton’s debut novel reaches far across time to relate the interwoven stories of two women – a genetic scientist addressing the complexities of contemporary experience, and one of our earliest ancestors as she engages in a physical and spiritual ordeal of survival. Bone Lines is a brave and moving adventure of the imagination.” – Lindsay Clarke, author of The Chymical Wedding 

 “A monument to the timelessness of human nature, and a work of art... a masterpiece of pacing.  Bretherton ignites her characters with a life, complexity, a personality with which any number of readers will identify and empathise with. The author should be as overjoyed as I was impressed with this debut novel (the first, I hope, of many).” – Naomi Moore, Editor, New Orbit literary magazine

“Bretherton weaves a cat’s cradle of human history, from the panoramic overview to day-to-day existence. An accomplished debut to watch.” – Su Bristow, author of Sealskin

Opening up new worlds... what powerful fiction does best... a novel to be appreciated on many different levels. Ambitious and brave yet effortlessly pulled off...Like Sapiens ...if fictionalised and seen through the eyes of two fierce and admirable women.” – Zero Filter Books

"A brilliant, genre-defying read, Bone Lines deftly unravels the wonder of oneness," – Barbara Bos, Editor, Women Writers, Women’s Books.

“Compelling... the story drew me in completely... a fascinating read,” – Cheryl Morgan-Muir, book blogger

A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life. A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.


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$20  + shipping
39 pledges

Holocene Paperback

1st edition paperback, ebook edition
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26 pledges


Ebook edition
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  • Stephanie Bretherton avatar

    Stephanie Bretherton

    Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast.

    Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

    Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

  • The snow has stopped and the wind is weakening. The horizon offers many choices, but it is the rise straight ahead that is drawing her. More draining on her dwindling reserves, but with the promise of greater protection and resources if it yields what she hopes it will. She is further south than any of her band imagined could be gained with safety but she can see that this territory once offered great bounty. It is a chance she must take, though she knows that such opportunity might also mean competition.

    She is right to have chosen this way. The loose stones gradually grow into boulders and into craggy walls and then open up to weaving pathways between them. There is growth preserved within this sheltering ground. She will gather up some fallen branches to tie together and carry away, in case their journey takes them through barren land again. She senses that other kinds of life may be hiding here, though she sees no tracks yet, the snowfall is too fresh. Even so, this would be a good place to set multiple traps and wait. She takes note of all the best positions for a snare, then selects a winding walkway and pushes forward.

    And then she knows that they are not alone.

    Her pace quickens with her pulse. Every sense springs to readiness, blade-sharp and alert. Skin prickles over muscles that are both tight and yet ready for action. She listens beyond the breeze, smells the dusty heartbeat of the earth. This is the feeling of the chase. Except this time, they are the prey.

    She has heard it, felt it, knows it is circling them… following. How big? Too big to fight. Too powerful, probably, to outrun. Is there anywhere safe to climb? But then they will have to outwait it and they can’t. It is a battle of patience she may not win. She knows she must outsmart it.

  • Stephanie Bretherton has written 6 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    24th September 2019 Happy Book Birthday! (Thank you sooooo much.) Oh, and a discount, too...

    Well, what a year. There's not much more I can say except THANK YOU, this amazing journey could not have happend without you. Only to add, if you know anyone who hasn't read Bone Lines yet and might fancy it, the e-book is now discounted for a couple weeks to a posh-coffee undercutting, heck,even corner-caff-builder's-tea competitive £1.70 in celebration of the book's first birthday (yes, that's a…

    16th August 2019 Book Birthday Bonanza!

    Hello my Lovelies

    Well, it’s been one heck of a ride and it’s hard to believe but Bone Lines is nearly 1 year old, having come to life on September 19th last year (ahem, also my birthday, not hinting, no, not hinting at all) thanks to your amazing support. To celebrate I'd like to share my short story, Human Error, which first appeared in New Orbit literary magazine, so if you'd like me to email…

    30th March 2019 Exeter Waterstones event - and a book giveaway for website sign-ups

    Hello lovely supporters, do any of you live anywhere near Exeter or know anyone who does?

    Or, indeed anyone who might like to sign-up to my website's mailing list and maybe win a signed copy of Bone Lines?

    Firstly, I’m thrilled and honoured to be taking part in Imagination, Myth & Memory, an event at Waterstones in Exeter on April 26th with the venerable author Lindsay Clarke (winner of the…

    9th December 2018 Yuletide gratitude from a happy/exhausted author

    Many, many thanks, you marvellous bookloving lot - and herewith a wee 'goodgift' in support of libraries...


    26th September 2018 Every name tells a beautiful story (yes, yours too)

    Hopefully all you wonderful people have received your books by now? The paperbacks should have arrived in the post for those who pledged for them and there should be download links for the e-books in all relevant inboxes? So, all that’s left to say for now is that I hope you enjoy reading and feel that backing Bones Lines has been worthwhile (and, if so, please tell anyone who might give a hoot about…

    19th July 2018 Revelations, reviews and rewards: Cover! 5 out of 5*! Last orders!

    We are on the home straight my lovely supporters! And now is the last chance to persuade a mate to back the book, or to buy a special first edition and have someone else’s name printed in it as a gift, or to upgrade a pledge reward (the frontispiece dedication is still available!) because the list closes on  Sunday the 22nd at midnight.

    So to keep up the encouragement and anticipation, heremis…

    18th June 2018 Mr Darwin has been deed polled! (new title announcement)

    Greetings lovely supporters, Charles and I have some news. After close consultation with our publisher and for very strong reasons, we have decided on a title change!

    Dear Mr Darwin has very graciously stepped aside in favour of a new name for the book designed to add more impact, intrigue and genre fluidity while better reflecting the dual narrative (rather than seeming to be solely about a character…

    15th May 2018 Edits, typos and surprising underwear...

    Dear (wonderfully patient) supporters

    I am happy to say that another crucial stage of the book’s evolution is complete and the final edit of the manuscript has been returned to my (also very patient) publisher for the copyedit process. “Wait,” I here you say, “I thought all the bloomin’ editing was done?”

    Well, yes, but… this is now the (hopefully quick) stage in which, after all that messing…

    21st March 2018 And ... breathe!

    Hello lovely book lovers!


    Well, I am finally coming up for air after handing in the first structural edit. What an intense but fascinating and enjoyable experience that was (ok, not always so enjoyable and occasionally a little ‘confronting’ but that’s all part of the authorial curve :)  I did love being back with my characters again and it was fun to create some new material for them and…

    23rd January 2018 Happy New Year! (Head down editing...)

    Hello dear supporters and Happy New Year!

    Forgive the recent silence but I have taken my much needed annual break (and essential brain rest, at a time when I can close my PR office between Christmas and New Year) while also taking time to digest some of the ideas in the first structural edit, which came back just before Christmas!

    It has certainly started the cogs turning, as while very positive…

    11th December 2017 Seasons wishes and some donkey-drawn thanks


    Since funding I have taken some time to fine-tune my manuscript before handing it over to my editor at Unbound for the first structural edit.  That is due back just before Christmas when I will have the opportunity to consider all suggestions and see how I can further improve or correct the book, before its next incarnation.

    So, on the theme of nativity / rebirth / the joy of books, herewith…

    31st October 2017 YAY! 100% funded! (imagine, if you will, that I am now dancing a merry jig :)

    There's not much more to say right now than:


    You are wonderful people, each and every one, and I will do my very best to justify your faith in me.

    Once I know more about the next steps and their timings I will be in touch. Right now there are bubbles to imbibe / get down me neckkk (scouse DNA will out.)


    13th October 2017 What a few weeks! 89%, and £264 raised in donations to hurricame relief

    A crazy few weeks with the 'day job' (including the must-have IT issues when at most hectic, of course) but lovely silver linings have formed by hitting 89% funding, (including the backing of a writer I very much admire. Though of course, I madly love and admire every single person who has taken the trouble to back me. Heroes, every one of you. What's more the double your dough donations thing raised…

    21st September 2017 Video footage of dragons, and the double-your-dough-donations tally, so far

    Ok, not real dragons (because they exist, after all) but at least a dragon's den. Ok, not the real Dragon's Den, but a literary one at Waterstone's Gower Street, in which yours truly channelled all relevant experience of pitching/pleading/presenting/performing/prostrating-herself/pity-seeking and any other relevant 'p' words to get past that so-near-I-can-taste-the-prosecco finish line. 


    9th September 2017 Caribbean needs your help (me, my characters and Mr Darwin will be good for a bit)

    Hello, been a bit distracted past few days with the horrors of hurricane #Irma, especally as I have a very close bond with the Virgin Islands (US and British). I am sure you have all seen the devastation, no need to elaborate on the suffering. (Several supporters here are from there and have family there, two are stranded there right now.) There are many help efforts being co-ordinated, please see…

    31st August 2017 Poems! Poems! Come and get your lovely poems! (New rhyme-peddling pledge rewards)

    Sooo... two new pledges, Sapien Special and Word to the Wise mean that you get a #bespoke #poem in advance of your book-in-wating! Come on, surely you know someone who needs a handful of couplets? Can't sleep without a sonnet? Needs to feel the freedom of the open verse? And it's a flamin' bargain too! Here's an example that might shame many a proper poet, but which this poor rhyme peddlar is happy…

    21st August 2017 Can you tell a story in 75 words? (Paragraph Planet thinks so.)

    Hello you lovely people... Don't worry, not asking for anything! Just wanted to share my 75 word story which featured on Paragraph Planet today (21/8/17). As it will be up for today only, and I am not sure when you will see this update, here is both the link, and the full paragraph copied in below. (Not that anyone as rational as us lot believe in good omens or anything, but I am loving that this…

    12th August 2017 Don't you know how magnificent you are? (Warning, video content. Of me.)

    Facebook buddies may have already seen this, but in case it's of interest (especially to those who like to see authors torturing themselves) here's a video of a 5 minute pitch for pre-orders of the book, filmed live at a pub in Peckham. (Well it's the very nice Beer Shop in Nunhead, actually, but I'm a sucker for alliteration, so I am stretching the geography.) Thanks to the other Unbound authors…

    9th August 2017 Thank heaven there is beer

    Feeling very thankful - several lovely pledges this week and to be counted in the company of the amazing group that make up the Unbound author family (and it really does feel like a family.) And on Thursday night I get to push myself into a whole new world of abandoned pride with a pledge party in a Peckham pub (and I wasn't even trying for the evil that is alliteration. Though as evils go, it is…

    4th August 2017 Sorry, Sir Isaac (but at least the cat is named after you.)

    ...and he liked cats, apparently. More than people. Well, we are a bloody difficult, complex lot, eh? And yet extraordinary. Capable of so much, for good or bad. #Fiction #withabitofscience #butmostlystorytelling #withcharactersyoumightlike #onthehumanadventure #lifeisalwaysevolving #lovekeepsusgoing 

    1st July 2017 Apologies, Charles... (and anyone who has already pledged!)

    #DearMrDarwin  #Science&History&KickAssWomen&Adventure&Discovery&Archaeology&Genetics&LotsOfWalking&AndSomeLetters&AndSomeCoolBlokesToo

    Twitter @BrethertonWords


    28th June 2017 In search of excellence... Why it's worthwhile getting a little extra help from the experts...

    How lovely to be featured on The Literary Consultancy website! (And for the experts to call my book 'excellent' ! )

    (Can't recommend these guys enough...) 



    25th June 2017 24 (thrilling) hours in in the world of crowdfunded publishing....

    Thanks so much for all the fantastic reactions and support for Dear Mr Darwin so far! It's been just over 24 hours since going live and it's all so very exciting and positive. This book, this labour of love, a piece of work that I have enjoyed every minute of creating, is written and ready and raring to go! (Bar, of course the highly valued editing, input, design, advice etc., from the lovely, lovely…

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