Monday, 21 September 2020

Unbecoming Me, & Other Interruptions by Christopher Stanley

 


A chilling new short story collection from the author of The Forest is Hungry and The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales.

In 'Devil's Reach', a frantic father boards a ferry, hoping to save his daughter and escape his wife. But nothing is as it seems as the ferry sails into darkness, and there are forces at work he won’t begin to understand until it’s too late.

In 'Hell's Teeth', a young girl enlists the help of supernatural forces to exact revenge on the school bully, only to find she can’t live with guilt.

And in the final story, 'Unbecoming Me', a young man’s desperate search for love takes an unexpected turn after he’s rejected by the woman of his dreams.

Dark, sinister and unforgiving – Unbecoming Me & Other Interruptions will make you want to sleep with the lights on.

Demain Publishing is back and I couldn't be happier! I've just finished reading Curfew by Kev Harrison and now Unbecoming Me, & Other Interruptions by another greatly talented author, Christopher Stanley. Recently I read The Lamppost Huggers, his debut flash collection and absolutely loved it.




His first offering with Demain Publishing was a novelette, The Forest Is Hungry, which I loved, British horror at it's best. So I had really high expectations for this mini collection of three short stories - Devil's Reach, Hell's Teeth and Unbecoming Me. 



The first tale, and also my favourite is Devil's Reach. This is a mad creepy tale of a husband trying to escape from his controlling wife with their nine month old baby. He's made it to the ferry but can he start a fresh once he lands on the other side? I loved this tale, it was fantastic from beginning to end. It's a really gripping story that hooks you in.

Hell's Teeth is the darkest story I've read in a long time. I really loved Daisy, this poor little girl who has a miserable time at school. She's an easy target for the school bully but finds a way to get this monster off her back. But of course there's no happy ending  for anyone involved here.

Unbecoming me, tells the story of two twins navigating their way through life, except one died at birth. I really liked the strangeness of this tale when one twin has a life changing moment of falling in love with the wrong person.

All in all, a great collection. I can't wait to read more in the series!




Curfew by Kev Harrison

 



When Jamie takes his girlfriend for a summer anniversary getaway by the sea, he thinks only the great British weather can ruin his plans. But he hasn’t accounted for Mrs Heinz, the bizarre proprietor of The Sailor’s Rest, and her obsessive fixation on midnight and curfew...


I'm so excited that Demain Publishing is back with another onslaught of horror! Seriously this series is really addictive! 

Over the years I've read a lot of Kev Harrison's work. They're all great fun and of course very dark. I loved his previous tale in the series - Cinders of a Bind Man Who Could See. This was an excellent serving of folk horror set in a small community in Northern England.



The last tale I read by Kev was his folk horror novella,  The Balance, which I absolutely loved. It's a great reinterpretation of the legendary Baba Yaga folk tale with a modern twist. It's gone on to receive great praise and now's he's back with Curfew.


Curfew is about a fun romantic weekend going very wrong! Jamie takes his girlfriend down to Bournemouth for a fun weekend by the sea. They've been dating for two years and he wants to show her how much she means to him.

Their bed and breakfast is perfect, it's delightfully quaint and old fashioned, clean and well kept. The prefect setting for a romantic weekend except for the proprietor - Mrs Heinz. She expects all her paying guests to be in their rooms by midnight - no exceptions!

Once midnight hits there's a change in the guesthouse located out of town. Jamie grows curious he doesn't like being dictated to by a sour old woman sitting by the fire waiting for something.

This is a quick read, perfect for when you're between books. The tale starts quickly and is great fun throughout. The characters do feel like a real couple who only want to have fun before their daily grind resumes on Monday.

I loved the ending too, but obviously can't say much about that without giving out spoilers!




Thursday, 20 August 2020

Boneset and Feathers by Gwendolyn Kiste





You don't know their fire is coming until it's too late. That's exactly the way the witchfinders like it. As an isolated enchantress, Odette knows this too well--she lost nearly her whole family to the last round of executions, barely escaping with her own life. All the magic she could conjure wasn't enough to protect her mother and sister, a burden that leaves a despondent Odette practically wishing she'd burned with the rest.

Now it's five years later, and as the last witch left from her village, Odette has exiled herself to the nearby woods where she's sworn off all magic, hoping instead for quiet and for safety. But no witch has ever been permitted a peaceful life.

It starts with crows tumbling out of the clouds and spectral voices on the wind that won't leave her alone. Then there are those midnight visits to the graveyard that she can't quite remember in the morning and the strange children following her everywhere she goes. Odette wants to forget magic, but her magic doesn't want to forget her. Meanwhile, the former friends she left behind in the village are cowering together, hiding from the ghostly birds they believe she's sent to torment them for abandoning her. But that's only the beginning of their problems, as Odette soon discovers their worst nightmare is about to come true--the witchfinders are returning. And this time, the decree is clear: to burn the witch that got away.

With the men drawing nearer to the village, Odette must face the whispers from the dead and confront her fear of her own growing power if she wants any chance of stopping the army of witchfinders determined to rid the countryside of magic once and for all.






This is the second novel from Gwendolyn Kiste and I'm beyond excited to have been given the opportunity to read it before it's officially released on 3rd November 2020. Such an honour!

For most of you, Gwendolyn Kiste doesn't need an introduction. She is a Bram Stoker Award winning author of dark fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Nightmare, Black Static, Shimmer, Lamplight, and Three Lobed Magazine plus many others. Her first novella Pretty Marys All in a Row received critical acclaim upon release in 2017. As did her first novel, The Rust Maidens from Trepidatio Publishing in 2018.




And now we have Boneset and Feathers to devour which will be released in November 2020 from Broken Eye Books. A gorgeous book featuring magic, witches, ghosts and revenge turned sour.

I don't want to give out spoilers but it's spectacular! Gwendolyn Kiste takes the magical and makes it real, makes beautiful the macabre. I really loved this book, I've read it twice already!

I think one of the many reasons why Gwendolyn's stories resonate so deeply with her readers are that her characters are almost always outsiders, forgotten and bereft. Everyone's felt like that at some point in their lives.Rejected from the world, forced through their circumstances to forge a survival locked in a world of loneliness and despair. 

In her tales these outsiders learn to adapt embarking on a monumental transformation, sometimes they rise up to claim back their lives becoming stronger than their foe or falling into deeper depths of despair that have no escape.

What I also love about her writing is that it always so emotionally raw. As a reader you feel so connected to her characters like they have been your friend and confidante since childhood. In Boneset and Feathers I immediately felt a connection to our heroine Odette.

Boneset and Feathers is the tale of a young woman who against all odds and logic outwitted the witchfinders when they came to her village and set it ablaze. She pays a heavy price for her survival, everyone she once loved are dead and sometimes she wishes she could join them in the grave.

Five years on and she's living alone in the woods, she should be surrounded by love and laughter, friends and family. Instead she's an outcast from the only village she's stepped foot in, and now she's forced to live in a haunted woods where travellers and locals fear to tread. Why? Because she is a witch living in a world that barely tolerates women.

Trouble starts once again when birds, which have been absent for the last five years, begin drop dead out of the sky. Along with everything else she fears she will be blamed for this. Such an unnatural event is going to bring attention once more from the city ruled by men to this small village.

Odette just wants a quiet life living in her cottage handed down by generations of witches. Unlike so many of her kind she just wants to die alone in peace, without flames and torment, but trouble seeks her out. Magic is calling out to her, begging for Odette to take charge and finish the spell that was started five years ago.

Unlike the other witches reduced to ash, their names forgotten, Odette has garnered fame and loathing. Even those who were once her friends think her a monster. She is the only witch that would not burn. 

I ended up racing through this book as once the pace picks up it keeps going in an exhilarating journey with lots of twists and turns. 

Odette may have been left physically weak, starved of food and warmth but inside she possesses a spirit stronger than she realises until she is pushed to her breaking point.

P.S.

If you love witchy stories you'll also love Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter and the marvellous anthology Hex Life edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering




Friday, 31 July 2020

Snake Charmer Blues by Keith Anthony Baird







I'm not your average, everyday American. By the time you've finished listening to what I have to say you're going to get that. Sure, I do average, everyday things, but only to go unnoticed while I'm planning and doing the things that aren't. Y'see, I've killed people - for good reasons though. I mean, it'd be plain wrong to just murder someone who didn't deserve it - I'm not a psychopath y'know.

In fact, I fit right in really. If you looked at me, you wouldn't think for a minute I'd bashed in the head of a frail old lady, watched people die in the house fire I lit, or made sure a jumped-up motorhead got crushed to death in the tin can on wheels I 'fixed'.

There are others too, but you'll have buy this little look inside my head to find out the rest of it. Don't want to? Really? Let me just make a note of that ...



Our unnamed character's life changes forever when a carnival comes to their town, bringing the magical and mysterious snake charmers. Upon seeing these magicians up close they become ignited with purpose; to charm the snakes of the world and make it a better place.

Turns out our character doesn't need to look hard to find snakes. Soon they're popping up everywhere and there's no one better to "charm" them than our protagonist who exudes both charm and evil!

This tale soon descend into utter darkness as we follow our crusader on their journey to make the world a better place. Once they have started their quest the know they can never finish.

I had great fun reading this tale, I had no idea of where it was going to lead the plot is as agile as snake on the prowl, it takes you on a action packed fast paced adventure right up to the terrifying conclusion!


Sunday, 19 July 2020

Lyrics and Curses by Candace Robinson




Stranger Things meets Pretty in Pink:

Lark Espinoza could get lost in her music—and she’s not so sure anyone in her family would even care to find her. Her trendy, party-loving twin sister and her mother-come-lately Beth, who’s suddenly sworn off men and onto homemaking, don’t understand her love of cassette tapes, her loathing of the pop scene, or her standoffish personality. For outcast Lark, nothing feels as much like a real home as working at Bubble’s Oddities store and trying to attract the attention of the cute guy who works at the Vinyl shop next door—the same one she traded lyrical notes with in class.

Auden Ellis silences the incessant questions in his own head with a steady stream of beats. Despite the unconditional love of his aunt-turned-mother, he can’t quit thinking about the loss of his parents—or the possibility he might end up afflicted with his father’s issues. Despite his connection with lyric-loving Lark, Auden keeps her at arm’s length because letting her in might mean giving her a peek into something dangerous.

When two strangers arrive in town, one carrying a mysterious, dark object and the other playing an eerie flute tune, Lark and Auden find that their painful pasts have enmeshed them in a cursed future. Now, they must come to terms with their budding attraction while helping each other challenge the reflection they see in the mirror. If they fail, they’ll be trapped for eternity in a place beyond reality.

Wow! I had great fun reading this paranormal romance set in 1980's America! It's classed as Young Adult fiction but great fun for all ages!

I loved the two characters of Lark and Auden to misfits who fit together perfectly united by the love of music and lyrics. Their relationship is so uncannily accurate for two very socially awkward 17 year olds in love with each other. As well as navigating their love lives they also have to deal with being cursed and ending up trapped in the Mirror Realm.

I loved the edgy feel of this book. Romance isn't really my thing but I loved this tale and the story gets really dark in places. Candace Robinson has a great imagination and so the plots moves in some really unexpected ways. I'd say this was a slow burner to start with but the two main characters are just so endearing that I really enjoyed getting to know them in the relative calm before the storm.

Diabolica Britannica




It's a great honour to announce that my latest short story is appearing in this. I'm wildly excited by this one, as you can see there's some amazing horror writers featured in here!

Diabolica Britannica is out now via Amazon and all profits will be going to the wonderful NHS!


Tuesday, 14 July 2020

The Window in the Ground by Steve Stred








On the outskirts of town, hides a secret.

If you follow a path through the trees, read the rules (always twice) on the sign post, go up a hill and across a grassy clearing, that secret will reveal itself.

You see, for hundreds of years, this seemingly normal town has done its part, kept the balance.

But on this day, a rule will be broken.

You might have heard the rumors shared in whispers.

You may have been told about someone who’d seen it with their own eyes.
But now, on this day, you’ll join us.

You’ll come for a car ride and we’ll park.

Then we’ll walk along a path, read some rules (always twice), and go up a hill and arrive at a clearing.

Across the grass, you’ll see just what the town’s been hiding, protecting for centuries.

Then you’ll feel a pull.

And we’ll make our way over to it.

Over to the window in the ground.
“I looked at the mound and could see that a light was shining up from the under, from inside the window. Something was happening below.”


Wow I have to say this is by far the best thing Steve Stred has ever written and the standard of his work was already really high! 

Previously the last thing I'd read by Steve Stred was The One That Knows No Fear released through Demain Publishing which I loved, it had all the amazing elements for a great horror tale but also packed a real emotional punch.

The Window in the Ground is equally powerful. It begins with a small American town with a dark secret that is only revealed once the townsfolk reach 18. Unfortunately for our protagonist he is initiated into the secret way before his time which has dire consequences.

The suspense  in this story is absolutely insane. I was warned by fellow friend and writer, Theresa Braun, that once you start reading it you want be able to put it down, and she was absolutely right. As the story progressed I was desperate to see the window in the ground but also screaming at the characters to stay away from it. 

I don't want to spoil the experience for those who've yet to read it but I'll say the story is so gripping and genuinely terrifying!

Monday, 13 July 2020

Dead and Breakfast by Gary Buller




When Eddie gets a flat in the middle of nowhere, the last thing on his mind is death. Then as darkness falls and the storm worsens, he's forced to seek shelter alongside his significant other, Banksy. Big mistake.Bed and Breakfast, the sign said, but there are no eggs and bacon on the menu here. Instead, their host serves up four tales of terror with a little murder on the side. And as the other residents of the mansion gradually reveal themselves, Eddie and Banksy begin to wonder if they'll ever check out alive.

Book 11 in the Rewind-or-Die series: imagine your local movie rental store back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, remember all those fantastic covers. Remember taking those movies home and watching in awe as the stories unfolded in nasty rainbows of gore, remember the atmosphere and textures. Remember the blood.

I really enjoyed Dead and Breakfast by Gary Buller from beginning to end. It's a short story collection within a novella, not something I've come across before. I loved how these amazing short stories featured within another story of 80's punk rocker Eddie and his girlfriend Banksy getting lost on the moors after a car accident. They have no choice but to stop at a desolate Bed and Breakfast for the night as a violent storm kicks in taking them hostage.

The big questions is, will they survive long enough to get breakfast in the morning?

Over the years I've read a lot of Gary Buller, I really enjoyed his latest collection, Last Meal in Osaka from Demain Publishing and his story story collection; Mechanisms of Despair. His stories, apart from being really scary, are also deeply evocative, you really feel like you are living in his tales.  And even once you've stopped reading them you're still haunted by them!

This is a collection that starts off fast and doesn't let go, if the short stories aren't enough to scare you there's also dealing with Eddie and Banksy's fate when they prepare to depart the doomed guesthouse.

There are four stories included in Dead and Breakfast; Cords, The Brace, The Weight of Nostalgia and The Greyfriars Transcript. I liked how each short story was vividly different from the other but they all worked really well together.

Cords

After an unknown invasion from another world people are only allowed to live until the age of 45 until they must present themselves to the fissure on the outskirts of town. This is the only way to keep the peace between the humans and their conquerors. In this tale we are introduced to Allison who is about to approach her 45th birthday but can't bear to leave her family behind. A really intense tale that grips you from the very beginning. 

The Brace 

A young boy struggles to live up to his father's vision of how a young boy should be. To prove his pending manhood he is taken hunting by his father early one morning where his life will change forever. I loved this story of revenge from beyond the grave!

The Weight of Nostalgia

This tale is where we see Gary Buller's amazing ability to transport you as a reader into his dark world. I really felt I was in this tale which makes it even more scary. This tale really got to me, it starts off as a sweet tale of a man going back to his youth but soon in descends into a nightmare!


The Greyfriars Transcript

I loved this creepy ghost tale where a young man has to take a dreaded train journey up to Scotland for work. He's warned against taking the trip, but does he listen?


Food for Worms by Ian Sputnik

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"An anthology of small dark bites of life, death, everything in-between, and beyond written by Ian Sputnik."


Food for Worms is the debut collection of dark fiction by Ian Sputnik, a writer whose tales I have been enjoying for some time now after reading his work in Sanitarium Magazine.

Food for Worms is a compendium of darkness featuring horror tales, poetry, flash fiction and illustrations. This is a collection of doomed souls and their despair, because in the end each and everyone of us is destined to become food for worms.

I really enjoyed the pieces of flash fiction dispersed throughout, highly original with very clever endings! The poetry I enjoyed too despite not really liking poems.

The collection gets off to a great start with Meal Deal. For me this is a great story from beginning to end. As well as writing really dark tales Ian can also do dark humour which work really well in his stories. Meal Deal is about a retired couple searching for the perfect British country pub. They have very specific tastes...

In Eyes, a husband has to deal with an unwanted house guest who worms their way into their family home straight into the heart of his adoring wife. Something must be done before things go too far...

Night Terrors, Richard has been suffering with terrors his whole life. These ones are so bad they carry on long after he has woken up. Is it really all in his head or is there a more disturbing reason behind Mr Chuckles?

Head For Horror may actually be a true story about Ian's hat he's very keen on!

When Death Takes Hold is possibly the darkest story in the collection. A tale of utter desperation. Adam stands on the riverbank of Black Water Cove, a strictly prohibited site. He has only one thing on his mind - death.

This is a great collection of short fiction, flash fiction and poetry all united with a dark theme and laced with humour. These are really fun stories to read and a lot of love has gone into the collection. I really liked the cover illustration by Robert E.Wilson and there's some really cool illustrations throughout the book. A must read for any horror fan!

Hearthstone Cottage by Frazer Lee

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Mike Carter and his girlfriend Helen, along with their friends Alex and Kay, travel to a remote loch side cottage for a post-graduation holiday. But their celebrations are short-lived when they hit and kill a stag on the road. Alex's sister Meggie awaits them in the cottage, adding to the tension when her dog, Oscar, goes missing. Mike becomes haunted by a disturbing presence in the cottage, and is hunted by threatening figures in the highland fog. Reeling from a shock revelation, Mike begins to lose his grip on his sanity. As the dark secrets of the past conspire to destroy the bonds of friendship, Mike must uncover the terrifying truth dwelling within the walls of Hearthstone Cottage.


Damn I read this in one day. I really wished it would have lasted longer but alas it was just too good! I couldn't put it down, I even read as I ate my dinner. In the last twelve months I've absolutely fallen in love with what Flame Tree Press are putting out right now. Past titles I've read and adored include Stoker's Wilde, Creature, Night Shift and everything by Jonathan Janz!

The premise of the Hearthstone is a much used one but really thrilling if pulled off with great execution. Four best friends who've recently graduated from university go to a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere. It's the last time they'll all be young together as soon they will have to face the harsh reality of forging a career, paying off a huge mortgage and hitting the daily grind.  

Trouble starts for these ill-fated friends before they even arrive, involving a grisly car crash.  

I loved how the different characters complimented each other. They had a big impact int he telling of the story and helped create a lot of tension from within the house as well as what was happening outside. I couldn't stand Alex from the offset, Helen was far too serious at too young an age. Mike was the most relatable, poor guy just wants to have fun, but at times he did seem to be in danger of becoming a man baby. Meggie was mysterious from beginning to end. 

I loved the atmosphere of the tale. Set in the beautiful remote Scottish Highlands is a lonely cottage owned by Alex's wealthy parents. The four friends go there to celebrate the end of their university days. 

The cottage is very old and of course comes with a dark tale of how it came to be made. Every shadow has a secret. So do the characters. Trouble starts before they even arrive at the cottage and from there things begin to go awry.


This was a really fun read, the plot was really dynamic and constantly took you on an adventure. This story has ghosts, witches, revenge, retribution and a lot of gore!








The Balance by Kev Harrison





"When myth becomes nightmare...The price of blood is always blood.

Natalia's in trouble. She only looked away for a second, and now her brother's hurt. Her relationship with her mother is fractured, her brother's condition is deteriorating, and her only hope lays deep in the unforgiving forest. A secret spoken only in whispers offers a way out. But when help comes in occult forms a sacrifice may be the only way to restore the balance.

Humanity and nature collide in The Balance by Kev Harrison, a modern re-imagining of the Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga, set in Cold War Poland."


I've already read some of Kev Harrison's short fiction so was super excited to get a sneak peak of his upcoming novella, The Balance from Lycan Valley Press. I really loved Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See released this year by Demain Publishing and this latest offering is just as awesome!

Coming in at around 100 pages I read this one sitting. This is one of those tales that are hard to put down once you stop. The plot is so original you can never guess at what is going to happen next.  The building atmosphere of tension despair and hope from the very first page really draws you in. Doom begins from the very first sentence and it threatens everyone involved.

Trouble begins when Natalia takes her younger prized brother out into the forbidden forest near their little cottage to play. For just a few moments she becomes distracted. During that tiny relapse her brother is hurt. At first it doesn't seem too bad but when you live in the middle of nowhere with sparse supplies conditions for Natalia and her family take a turn for the worse. After a few days her younger brother hovers over life and death. The doctor has done all he can within his powers of medicine.

Her mother holds her to blame.

Natalia is desperate to save her brother. Driven by despair she returns to the forest alone in secrecy, this time going deeper than before. There is an old wise woman living alone in the forest that her grandmother would visit in times of great need.

However this is no ordinary wise woman, this is Baba Yaga. What will she want in return for her services? Who will pay the price?

This tale is told really well, a modern day fairy tale laced with horror. You feel so involved with Natalia's plight constantly having to face tough decisions. She wants to do what is right but life is never that simple. Soon the fate of the village rests on her.

It was hard to pick a side in this tale of man vs nature. A part of me really enjoyed the revenge of nature but I felt sympathetic to Natalia and some of her fellow villagers. The tension really builds during this dark tale and many times it feels very bleak after the villagers angered the forest. The forest fights back in some very unusual ways and no one is safe from Nature's wrath.

When the balance is upset life becomes very difficult for all parties involved. Who knows which side will win if the balance is not restored?




Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales by Christopher Stanley




The man trying to make sense of his life now that his demon has been exorcised. The woman who knows her son has been taken, even as he sits by her side. The scorned professor who's found a missing work from The Planets Suite.

Christopher Stanley's debut flash fiction collection, The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales, boasts an impressive assortment of characters trying to make sense of a world gone horribly wrong. The darkness here is home to vampires, werewolves, witches and ghosts--but it's the monsters you've never heard of that should worry you the most.


Over the years I've become familiar with Christopher Stanley's work, I really enjoyed his tale The Forest is Hungry from Demain Publishing and his Suds and Monsters piece from The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories, all of which I loved. Proving himself as a writer to be watched.

Christopher Stanley returns with The Lamppost Huggers, his debut collection of flash fiction featuring 26 tales of bite sized horror. To be honest flash fiction wasn't really something I had time for, but after reading Calvin Demmer's The Sea Was a Fair Master, my mind was changed. Flash fiction done right is amazing!


But flash fiction is something very hard to pull off, you have only a few words to pull in the reader, create at atmosphere of dread and terror before you swoop in for the kill. Time and time again with each tale The Lamppost Huggers achieves all these requirements for excellent flash fiction. 

Each tale featured in here is amazing. I didn't find one that was below par. What really shines out from this collection is the scope of Christopher Stanley's imagination and his ability to draw upon a huge variety of terror; dark magic, strange forces, witches, unexplained phenomenon, ghosts and the darkness inside us all. Christopher Stanley takes our ordinary lives and quickly turns it into the terrifying unknown.

When you have 26 tales of flash fiction all in one collection each one must stand out and earn it place if the collection is to work. When it comes to flash fiction, a lot can go wrong but when it goes right its pure perfection and The Lamppost Huggers is that.




Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The Horror Writer: A Study of Craft and Identity in the Horror Genre



The most definitive guide into the trails and tribulations of being a horror writer since Stephen King's On Writing.

We have assembled some of the very best in the business from whom you can learn so much about the craft of horror writing: Bram Stoker Award© winners, bestselling authors, a President of the Horror Writers' Association, and myriad contemporary horror authors of distinction.

The Horror Writer covers how to connect with your market and carve out a sustainable niche in the independent horror genre, how to tackle the writer's ever-lurking nemesis of productivity, writing good horror stories with powerful, effective scenes, realistic, flowing dialogue and relatable characters without resorting to clich├ęd jump scares and well-worn gimmicks. Also covered is the delicate subject of handling rejection with good grace, and how to use those inevitable "not quite the right fit for us at this time" letters as an opportunity to hone your craft.

Plus... perceptive interviews to provide an intimate peek into the psyche of the horror author and the challenges they work through to bring their nefarious ideas to the page.

And, as if that – and so much more – was not enough, we have for your delectation Ramsey Campbell's beautifully insightful analysis of the tales of HP Lovecraft.

Featuring:
Ramsey Campbell, John Palisano, Chad Lutzke, Lisa Morton,
Kenneth W. Cain, Kevin J. Kennedy, Monique Snyman, Scott Nicholson,
Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Thomas, Gene O'Neill, Jess Landry, Luke Walker, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Marie O'Regan, Armand Rosamilia, Kevin Lucia,
Ben Eads, Kelli Owen, Jasper Bark, and Bret McCormick

And interviews with:
Steve Rasnic Tem, Stephen Graham Jones, David Owain Hughes,
Tim Waggoner, and Mort Castle


When HellBound Books reached out to me with this  horror writing guide I was simply blown away. It looked amazing, just look at the line-up. It's edited by Joe Mynhardt owner of Crystal Lake publishing who consistently publish epic horror. Every writer featured in here is one I've not only heard of but really admire. 

I'm pleased to say my expectations were definitely met, I'd every contribution in here and a lot of subjects were covered. There's loads of great articles covering practical writing advice such Kenneth W.Cain's guide on how to create tension in your writing that will scare the crap out of your readers. I found this article incredibly helpful. There's also great advice on how to cope with rejection from Kelli Owen, how to start networking by Jess Landry.

There's two great articles about the work of H.P.Lovecraft from Ramsey Campbell and Algernon Blackwood by Jasper Barks. These articles are not only a must read for fans but they also show you the methods these two horror legends used to scare so many people.

Also featured are author interviews with the likes of Stephen Graham Jones, David Owain Hughes, Mort Castle, Steve Rasnic Tem and Tim Waggoner. These are really insightful and I was really impressed with Joe Mynhardt's interview skills he clearly is someone with a deep and genuine love for horror.

What I liked about this guide is that its a no-nonsense approach to improving your craft, there's no waffling just really great advice that any writer will find really useful.

Needless to say I read through this guide in about a day and genuinely enjoyed every article. Just like Stephen King's guide On Writing, I will make sure to re-read this over and over again. 

This is a must have for any serious horror writer that wants to take it to the next level. 


Monday, 1 June 2020

You Are Not Alone



I'm absolutely honored to be a part of this brand new charity anthology from Storgy! My Story When Cynthia Arrives will be featured alongside some really great authors. They're so great I'm feeling very nervous to be featured along with them!

To help support these great charities buy a copy from here





EBOOK & PAPERBACK
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

EBOOK
PUBLISHED 1st JUNE 2020

PAPERBACK
PUBLISHED 1ST JULY 2020


With great thanks to contributing authors, artists, and designers,
STORGY Books is proud to present You Are Not AloneAn Anthology of Hope and Isolation.

Working in close partnership with UK charities The Big Issue Foundation (registered charity number 1049077), Centrepoint (292411), Shelter (263710), and The Bristol Methodist Centre (1150295), STORGY Books is publishing an exclusive anthology to help raise funds and provide support for people affected by homelessness following the devastating outbreak of Coronavirus. For far too long the most vulnerable within our communities have suffered in isolation, abandoned and ignored, voiceless.
But we hear our hurting kin; and this is our reply…
You Are Not Alone.

All proceeds from purchases of You Are Not Alone will be equally distributed between our partner charities to  provide ongoing support for people experiencing homelessness during – and after – the Covid-19 crisis.

You Are Not Alone is dedicated to lost loved ones.
You will never be forgotten.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Tethered: A Novella-In-Flash by Ross Jeffery


"Tethered is a novella-in-flash that explores the fractured relationship of a father and son. Each story is told with unflinching and honest prose that is both hard hitting and heartrending. These stories delve into themes of toxic masculinity, love, hope, despair, domestic violence, sexuality, weakness and overcoming oppression.

Tethered also asks the bigger question of 'do we ever escape the harm our parents do to us; or do we go through life marred and influenced from our upbringing.

'‘Ross Jeffery’s flash fiction is immediate, visceral and real. To read his stories is to feel the understanding of a life lived through the eyes of a compassionate man. Always unapologetic, always raw, always true.’ - Adam Lock (Author of Dinosaur)"


I was really unprepared for this book. I had recently read Juniper also by Ross Jeffery and had an absolute blast reading about life in a small American nowhere town after a terrible turn of events. It was a brilliant horror tale with elements of very dark comedy. 

But Tethered is very far from this,  it's so heart wrenching and beautifully written. 

We follow a troubled father and son journey as they navigate through life, told through a series of flash fiction. It's a brilliant portrayal of a troubled father and son relationship. and the affect it has on both sides. Does anyone escape unharmed from their childhood. Is there such a thing as a perfect parent.

Unfortunately the answers to both these questions is no. But at times this book holds some very tender moments. They never seem to get things right but there is a lot of love for each other even though it gets lost through misunderstandings and anger.

We have the father, who loves his son deeply the moment he is born. He wants the best for his most cherished child, to teach his son how to be a real man, yet he too has been a victim of a troubled upbringing fuelled by  toxic masculinity. As the story unfurls we see how all too easily the cycle repeats, the same hurts re-emerging with each generation.

He wants to be a good father but he is powerless in changing himself and healing his old hurts.

I loved the ending the ending to this book, it's a powerful ending the story deserved.  An absolute must read for all parents and children!

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The Intruder &The Unbeliever by Morgan K.Tanner




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The Unbeliever
The joyful surroundings of a magical theme park should fill everyone with a feeling of warmth and happiness. But Mike isn't really feeling the love. After his derisory comments to his family about the 'out of work actors' in animal suits he enrages these cute and cuddly creatures. Mike soon learns that he probably should have kept his mouth shut. Especially when the blood begins to spill.


The Intruder
Having a newborn baby in the house is certainly hard work. Those nights of broken sleep bring on a zombie-like existence for most of the day. Toby is certainly feeling exhausted. But when one evening his home is invaded by an intruder, he decides his lack of sleep could work to his advantage. Without ever questioning his actions he begins a sadistic revenge on this would-be burglar. His tiredness however, could ultimately prove his undoing.




I had no idea when I first started reading these Short Sharp Shocks just how addictive they are! The bar has been set pretty high and this time I delved into The Unbeliever &The Intruder by Morgan K.Tanner.
I’ve read a few works form Morgan over the years, The Mind’s Plague &Other Stories comes highly recommended as is Army of Skin so I knew I would be in for a thrilling experience. Morgan K.Tanner has an incredible imagination coupled with a heart of horror and a really fun sense of humour and these tales showcase his great writing talent.

In The Unbeliever I think we can all relate to Mike, especially if you have kids. He’s been forced to go on holiday to an overpriced, over-rated theme park and made to pretend he’s having the time of his life. However he’s too tired, too hungover and cranky to play an act for the sake of his family. He just wants to sit somewhere quiet and sleep off his hangover.
This resort is just too sugary sweet, or is it?
I love reading tales by Morgan K.Tanner you just never know how they are going to pan out other than its going to get very grisly and dark! I had great fun reading this and it is very well executed.

The Intruder

Again, this is a story that any parent can relate to. The terrors of sleep deprivation when you have a new-born really is the stuff of horror. I look back to when my kids were younger and honestly don’t know how I managed to stay sane throughout the months of sleepless night!
Toby, our main character is juggling a very demanding family life alongside starting a new business. He finds a few quiet moments in the middle of the night to sort out his tax return when he realises there is an intruder in his home.
He will do anything to protect his family…
This tale really felt like a nightmare, very dark and disturbing but really well written!