Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Fortune Box Stories by Madeleine Swann

It sounds shallow but what first drew to this delightful little book was the cover. Look at it, it's so gorgeous I simply had to know what was inside! A book cover so cute my three year old daughter kept making off with it.

But eventually I found it hidden amongst her dollies and was able to finish, but since finishing it it has suspiciously disappeared again. Published by Eraserhead Press this is a little book containing 9 short stories of bizarro fiction. The characters all have one thing in common, they each receive a surprise package from Tower Ltd Surprise Packages which contain a very odd assortment of items that will change their lives.

It gets off to a really good start with Meera's tale, (This was one of my favourites.) who is a dissatisfied young woman who desperately wants to find her perfect date and is not the patient type. After a terrible first date she comes back to her flat to find a package has arrived, containing seeds and a tiny watering can.

For me this tale was my favourite as told from another perspective these stories would be seen as terrifyingly dark, but Madeleine Swann tells them with such charm that on the surface they appear charming and witty. I think if Madeleine chose to write straight up horror her stories would be deemed too scary to publish!

There's some great comic moments in this book which will really have you chuckling, especially the fifth story which feature the strangest love story I have ever come across. The ninth tale, another favourite, centred around Craig who has no luck when it comes to people, was really fun and shows off Madeleine's hilarious sense of humour and contains my favourite passage of the whole book, (page 96 in case you're wondering.You'll know it when you see it.) I've not shared it here as I would hate to spoil the moment for you.

I had so much fun reading this, its's such a great book.  I've had a sneak peak on her Goodreads page and there are some amazing sounding titles she has already released such as Rainbows Suck, The Filing Cabinet of Doom and my favourite, Taken Hard at the Magical Time Travel Sex Resort. I need to read all of these!

About the Author

Madeleine describes herself as a psychedelic flapper, weird fiction writer, creepy stuff lover and a hideous face puller. She has been published in numerous anthologies and has many other books out there including The Filing Cabinet of Doom, a collection of short stories from Burning Bulb Publishing.

You can find out more on her website here and also on twitter @MadeleineSwann

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Interview with Kendall Reviews

I've recently done an interview with Kendall Reviews,  this is an amazing site that reviews all the latest amazing  horror books coming out as well as featuring loads of fascinating interviews with odd and quirky writers like myself!

In this interview I talk  a little about me, what my fave books are, the authors who inspire me and who I'd most like to be trapped on a deserted island with.

You can read it here 

The Kraken Sea by E.Katherine Tobler

It's not often I come across a story this strange but I'm very glad I did. The Kraken Sea is a novella about a young orphan boy,Jackson, who is taken in by a affluent and mysterious woman, Cressida aka The Widow. She gives him a home in an exclusive area of San Francisco and is put to work serving her.

But Jackson is no ordinary boy, as this is no ordinary tale. When he grows angry he mutates into a monster with slithering tentacles for hands and feet. He keeps this side of him hidden as he longs to be normal and human.

People keep clear of him, all apart from Mae, a young girl from a rival family just north of The Widow's sphere of influence and control. Like him, she also seems to have dark powers lurking just beneath the skin.

Mae and Jackson are rivals who should be tearing each other apart but they are hopelessly drawn to one another. Mae exerts a curiosity on Jackson that nothing else can in this strange alien world he finds himself in.

E.Katherine Tobler has a really beautiful way of writing which is really captivating in showing us the strange world in which Jackson finds himself. It is a world like no other. (It would make an amazing film!)  This is a tale of mystery and mythology that I really enjoyed. It's one of those books that are very hard to describe because it has a real dreamlike quality to it where nothing is what it seems and fate can change very quickly. I loved the relationship between Mae and Jackson and how it progressed both very sweet and dark. I would have liked to have seen more of Cressida, I felt very drawn to her and would have liked to have seen more of her. I'm not quite sure she reached her potential, but despite that this is a very enjoyable book that I would recommend to others.

About the Author

E. Catherine Tobler has written an awful lot of things. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Sturgeon Award. She is the senior fiction editor at Shimmer Magazine.

You can find out more here 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Black Lung Hay Fever: Author Interview with S.E.Casey : Tales From the Realm Volume One

To celebrate the release of Aphotic Realm's first anthology featuring twenty dark twisted tales of strange and sinister fiction, I'm chatting with S.E.Casey, author of, Black Lung Hay Fever.

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Hi S.E.Casey, tell us a bit about yourself.

I started writing four years ago based on a random conversation I had with a co-worker about e-books and indie publishing. One day I wasn't writing or thinking about writing, and the next day I was. What started as an absurd game to get something published on Amazon morphed into other games of writing a better story, being published in an online magazine, being included in a print anthology and getting paid for it… I try to make everything into manageable games, otherwise I drift and wallow in an illogical resentment that life doesn't just give me everything I want without having to ask.

Who are your biggest influences when it comes to writing?

Growing up, the two biggest authors of horror were Stephen King and Clive Barker. I unequivocally gravitated to Barker. Where King's stories are very much about people and the relationships between characters, Barker's stories are about the world and ideas. I didn't understand the difference at the time, but  I am someone who is far more interested in things than in people. So the surreal and philosophical authors I stumbled on after, such as Camus, Sartre, Selby Jr., Lovecraft, and Ligotti, were of particular interest to me.  

Name a great horror book, story or magazine that you've read recently.

I have recently finished the first issue of Vastarien, a quarterly literary journal dedicated to the corpus of Thomas Ligotti. It's great stuff, full of ideas and things. I have also been going through the back issues of Hinnom Magazine, a focused, quality horror/sci-fi  publication of which I have recently become a fan. Also, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales by Christopher Slatsky and Beholding the Void by Philip Fracassi are really strong short story collections. Currently, I am about to start in on a collection of flash fiction, The Sea Was a Fair Master, by Calvin Demmer with Furnace by Livia Llewellyn on deck. 

How long have you been writing for?

As previously said, I have been writing for four plus years. There has definitely been a steep learning curve. Fortunately, I had no idea how difficult writing actually would be or I may have never started in the first place. However, to not discourage anyone else, like any worthwhile endeavor, the satisfaction gained in reaching that next competency plateau is uniquely rewarding.  

What's a typical writing day for you?

I write in between the administrative repetitions of job, home, family, etc. I consider thinking about what to write and daydreaming about all possible story iterations as a necessary part of writing. So in the vacant time of my commute, work meetings, company lunches, and any family functions all count as a part of my writing. The actual get-on-a-computer and type happens at night whenever there is time and I have the energy. 

Do you have a story that you've written that you are particularly proud of?

I'm a terrible parent, the next story I am planning to write is always my favorite. What motivates me is that future story (or game) where I get everything right—theme, plot, pacing, a great first line, the perfect ending… That being said, my most recently published story "Animal Control" is in some ways my most accomplished. I'm a big fan of misdirection and through the feedback received,  I think I succeeded to some extent. "Animal Control" can be found in the Molotov Cocktail Lit's "Killer Flash" contest issue where it won third place. 

Do you have any upcoming projects

I am working on a short story collection of Christmas/winter weird-horror stories. I have been working on this for a few years, but have been reluctant to do the final edits and publish. Since my writing is getting better and better, I have been dragging my feet knowing that I am developing the skills to potentially improve every story. Using this logic, I will never finish, of course. But the plan is to be done this year, although there are always submission calls that pop up to steal away my attention and time. 

If you could throw an amazing dinner party, who would you invite? Guests can be living, dead and fictional.

I'm not a people person at all—my biggest concern is how to keep people out of my house. I don't like the idea of bringing back someone who is dead; there would be too many questions, too many regrets. What do I do if they start bawling? Yuck, could be depressing. A fictional character? Too many unknowns. I'm not a gambler, especially when it comes to people. 

If I had to answer, I guess I would have Crispin Hellion Glover over. He's always been interesting to me, eccentric, provocative, and explosively controversial , but also somehow gets cast as the dad in the fatally mainstream Back to the Future. But no dinner party, far too awkward. I would have him bring over his self-produced movies. He hasn't released these publicly, they have only been showed in private screenings so this would be cool. Still, even this could be a little too intimate, so I'll invite some twitter people, say Madeline Swann, B.P. Gregory, and Kelly Evans to be my social buffers. I think these three wouldn't be at all offended by Crispin's taboo-heavy weirdness, and they seem appropriately chatty. 

Of course, I will sneak away at the end of the night to avoiding the awkward good-byes. Just lock up before you leave everyone!

Tell us about your story, Black Lung Hay Fever, what was the inspiration behind it?

Before my Aphotic Realm story "Black Lung Hay Fever", I wrote a flash fiction story for Molotov Cocktail titled "Straw Poll for Regime Change" (I have a thing for disorienting titles I guess), which, too, was about a scarecrow. Gary Buller, who also has a story featured in the Tales from the Realm, always comments positively on this story whenever I post a link. Since Gary and I have a bit of a "Spy vs. Spy" relationship, after he wrote a sequel to one of his short stories (The Way Out/The Way In), I figured two can play at that game. So it was simply a case of reverse engineering a follow-up scarecrow tale. Where the scarecrow in "Straw Poll…" exits the field to menace a town, this is too easy. There is a lot of horror about attacks coming from the outside. However, this is an irrational fear, only a very few of us die at the hand of another. The universal horror is that of failing from the inside—eventually our organs will quit from wear and we will rot from within. Every one of us. So I imagined a more subtle, but real dread: a non-ambulatory gravity in a dormant field squeezing an outmoded mid-western town to the breaking point, turning its own stagnant apathy and faintheartedness upon itself.

About the Author

A writer of the weird, grotesque, and darkly wonderful, S.E. Casey’s philosophical horror focuses on a collection of oddities, forgotten places, and fallen characters.  The horror isn’t the blood on the knife, but in the waste of the void.  It is in vacant corners and empty rooms. It is in the endless pathologies of the phenomenally ungrateful.  These neglected alleyways find their way to the same existential dead-end of Hell is other people.  Twisted and strange tales explore aesthetics, absurdism, transcendentalism, and misanthropy from an off-center perspective.

twitter : @thesecasey

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Sea was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

I've been familiar with Calvin Demmer's work for a while now, after we were both published in Sanitarium Magazine way back in 2015. Since then I've been really enjoying his stories which have been regularly appearing on my favourite sites such as, Deadman's Tome, Siren's Call, Dark Gothic Resurrected and most recently the Hardened Hearts Anthology by Unnerving Magazine.

The Sea Was a Fair Master is Calvin Demmer's first collection of short stories, available from Unnerving and I was delighted to have a sneak preview before it comes out on 5th June 2018. It features 23 horror tales which encompass an extraordinary range of sub genres, ranging from crime, zombies, gore, fantasy, science fiction and just weird!

This is his first collection, a truly remarkable debut. I really enjoyed reading this and it took no time at all to finish as you will want to binge on this when it's out in June. The stories in here are short, what you would call flash fiction.

I have to admit that flash fiction was something I have never been interested in before, but Calvin has converted me with his collection. For flash fiction to be great it has to be executed with precision, the characterisation, pacing and plot has to be spot on from the very first word, and Calvin has achieved this with dark grace in each of his 23 tales.

In The Sea Was a Fair Master, no two tales are similar, they are wildly different and show off Calvin's great skills as a writer as well as his dark imagination. What I most love about this collection is the wry sense of humour throughout.

My absolute favourite, was The One, this one really got me! It reminded me of one of my favourite TV sitcoms - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, (but darker!)

About the Author

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.
You can find him online at or follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A Mother's Love:Author Interview with Micah Castle: Tales From the Realm Vol 1

To celebrate the release of Aphotic Realm's first anthology featuring twenty dark twisted tales of strange and sinister fiction, I'm chatting with Micah Castle, author of, A Mother's Love.

Hi Micah, tell us a bit about yourself

When I'm not reading or writing, I love to be outside and hiking. I could spend hours aimlessly walking through the woods, if given the opportunity. Besides that, I enjoy spending time with my wife and my animals.

Who are your biggest influences when it comes to writing?

Although there are dozens, the primary ones are; HP Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Jack London, Philip K.Dick and A.A.Merritt.

Name a great horror book, short story or magazine you've read recently

There's two, sorry! 14 by Peter Clines and Fevre Dream by G.R.R.Martin 

How long have you been writing for?

I started taking my writing seriously about five years ago, before that I was writing on and off for about a year or two.

What's typical writing day for you?

A typical day is I wake up at 6:30AM, get breakfast and start the coffee pot, then browse writing/reading orientated subreddits and Facebook groups until I'm done eating and the coffee's done. At around 7AM, I actually start writing, until about 9AM. I do this six days a week, the other is usually saved for early morning hikes.

Do you have a story that you are particularly proud of?

There's two again, sorry! They're not out yet, but will be when my third collection releases on June 8th of this year. "Three White Demons," and "The White Sea." The former's a story about a set of three pillars that appear on Earth, and an English professor is too obsessed with being like the science fiction protagonists he loves, which leads to something far weirder that he ever anticipated. 

The latter is about a writer who buys a passage on a ship to Alaska to find something worthwhile to write about, but the Captain has other hideous plans for his crew and him, using them as tokens for a passage to a strange, far away island.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

My third collection is titled, The Abyss Beyond the Reflection and will be released on June 8, 2018. It has ten stories in total, and is a combination of weird fiction, horror, and sci-fi. It's my best work to date, and it will be released through Amazon.

If you could throw an amazing dinner party, who would you invite? Guests can be living, dead or fiction.

I'm not one for parties, but if I could sit down with Ray Bradbury, Jack London, William Hope Hodgson and/or H.G.Wells and hear about their lives and pick their brains about their work, that would be amazing. Also,even though I would be dwarfed by his personality, if I could talk to a young Hunter S.Thompson about his work that would be something, too.

Tell us about your story what was the inspiration behind it?

The inspiration came from Kristi DeMeester's Everything That's Underneath. I really enjoyed that collection and the way Kristi writes, so I emulated that the best I could in my own writing for "A Mother's Love." But for the plot itself, I had this image of an isolated mother and daughter living in the woods, going about their daily lives, and praying to Mother Nature for protection, guidance and so forth. The story sort of came to me as I began writing it.

I originally wrote it for a Halloween contest that I ended up not winning, then after some googling, I found Aphotic Realm and now we are here.

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Monday, 14 May 2018

The Almost Cannibal: Author Interview with Morgan K.Tanner: Tales From the Realm Vol 1

To celebrate the release of Aphotic Realm's first anthology featuring twenty dark twisted tales of strange and sinister fiction, I'm chatting with Morgan K.Tanner, one of the featured authors.

Hi Morgan, tell us a bit about yourself

I live in the Black Country in the West Midlands with my missus and little lad who's nearly 8. I love horror in all forms and my metaaaaal: the more extreme the better! I'm a drummer and play in a two piece band, we don't gig all that much anymore but still write and record. Check us out - A Grave Digger Named Pete, or my previous sludge/grime band Black Soul Cancer. I used to teach drums too, but now its all about the writing baby!

Who are your biggest influences when it comes to writing?

I suppose anyone who writes horror, I would have to mention Stephen King, especially for the way his characters are so, well, real. I'm a big fan of Clive Barker for the fantastical worlds he creates, and the gore-soaked extreme he goes to destroy them and those inhabiting them. I also enjoy Chuck Palahniuk for his derisory outlook on modern life. But what really got me interested in writing was reading HP Lovecraft. My earliest stories were heavily influenced by him but came across, even to me as a very  poor man's version.

Name a great horror book, short story or magazine you've read recently.

I've read a few beauties recently, I just can't pick one. The Sadist's Bible by Nicole Cushing was excellent, a heavy does of blasphemous gore. The Jesus Man by Keith Anthony Baird was a post-apocalptic novel like no other. The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen was a haunted house tale that felt fresh and not cliche. John.F.Leonard's Bad Pennies was a brutal kind of Lovecraftian novel that I really enjoyed. I recommend everyone to check these out. 

How long have you been writing for?

It was around six or seven years ago now I think. My first ever thing was a Lovecraft-inspired short story that was never finished but one I'll hopefully go back to one day. I spent weeks with a thesaurus writing a kick ass opening paragraph that I'm still proud of, but the rest of the story sort of petered pit into nonsense.

What's a typical writing day for you?

After coming home from work and doing the family stuff, I'll settle down with either a book or some metal on the record player. After a while the urge to get the laptop will be too storng and I'll have to type some words. Some days I manage to just read through something I'm working on, other days I'm on fire. But I'm trying to do something every day, be that research about publishing, reading blogs, working on my own blog, or trying to figure out how to avoid that massive plot hole that's giving me the middle finger from the screen. They say write even when you don't feel like it, and that's advice I'm taking literally.

Do you have a story that you've written that you are particularly proud of?

I have two. My story, Answer the Phone was recently published in The Horror Zine and was then selected to appear on Evil Podcast where it was read by Dennis Sera. He's got a great creepy voice and you should definitely check him out. Hearing my story being read was a great feeling. My other story, For David, has been rejected a couple of times so is currently sitting in the depths of my hard drive. I know I'm biased. but I really love it and one day it will find a home, oh yes it will.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

My debut novella, working title, An Army of Skin, is currently with the editor, so once it's back I will be making some changes (hopefully not too many but probably loads) before unleashing it upon the world this year if all goes well. I also have three or four short stories that I'm sitting on, maybe I'll put a collection together who knows? 

If you could throw an amazing dinner party who would you invite? Guests can be living, dead or fictional.

This one's been the cause of a lot of head scratching. I suppose someone who writes would like to  have dinner with their influences and learn all about the craft. But they could get a bit heavy couldn't they? Lovecraft or Poe might bring the mood down a bit, but then hearing from the man himself about his plans for more Cthulhu mythos-inspired stuff would go well with the brandy by the fire. Oderus Urungus aka Dave Brockie, frontman of the mighty GWAR would be a man (alien) I could listen to all day, it's such a shame he's no longer with us (although he's coming to this dinner party you're organising, right? Dave and John from John Dies at the End by David Wong would be entertaining, especially if they brought the soy sauce. I'd also love to have a chat with Larry David and tell him how I agree with him about 99% of the time. Tyler Durden would be invited too, but there wouldn't need to be a place setting for him. Oh yeah and I'd get Hannibal Lecter to cook.

Tell us about your story. What was the inspiration behind it?

This may sound a bit weird. I remember it well when the idea for The Almost Cannibal cam eto me. I was sitting in traffic, idly nibbling on a stray piece of skin from my finger. My mind wandered, as it usually does, and I wondered if what I was doing was actually self-cannibalism. Then the thought went to gnawing on a piece of skin from someone else's finger (not that I thought that was a fun idea), and the thing just seemed to come together. A psycho who keeps prisoners to eat parts of? That was a pretty twisted idea and needed to be written. The whole religious bit came as I was writing it and I needed a purpose for the story. I hope it translated.

Tales From the Realm Out Now
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