Friday, 11 November 2016

Book Launch Event!

Shadows At The Door
Anthology Launch November 19th 2016
Artwork by Brian Coldrick
 

Hello, all. I am very excited to share this with you. The Shadows At The Door Anthology, which features one of my stories, is having a book launch party! The launch is taking place in the UK at Newcastle Castle on the 19th of November starting at 6.30pm.

Regrettably I can't be there in person but some of the other writers from the anthology will be, and I'll be there in spirit (no pun intended). I will be online that night sharing any updates that come through from the launch.

This is the blurb for the night's event:

"To celebrate the launch of 'Shadows at the Door' a collection of original ghostly horror edited by Mark Nixon, the Moss Troopers will host a night of ghoulish terror at the Black Gate!

Seven of the authors of stories from the book will be present to start the night with a panel discussion along with illustrator Barney Bodoano.

The Moss Troopers will then present a series of eerie stories of all things that go bump in the night, including a reading of Quem Infra Nos, Mark Nixon's sinister tale of what lies below Durham Cathedral...

So for those of you we haven't seen for a while, come on down to the Castle - what's the worst that could happen?

We will have refreshments on sale, and for those whose bones are truly chilled, the Black Gate is surprisingly warm and cosy for a medieval gatehouse...

Authors that will be with us:
Mark Nixon
Caitlin Marceau
Kris Holt
JC Michael
Mark Cassell
Christopher Long
Pete Alex Harris

And illustrator Barney Bodoano"

So, if you are in the Newcastle area I know my fellow authors would love to see you at the launch. This is my first anthology project and I'm very excited to see it released to readers.



Tickets for the launch night are on sale here

Friday, 26 August 2016

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville - Book Review


Quick Curtain (British Library Crime Classics)Quick Curtain by Alan Melville

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


One day, when browsing in a book shop, I discovered the British Library Crime Classics series. Yes, the British Library has reissued a collection of crime stories from bygone days. I read a lot of Agatha Christie when I was younger so I decided to give this collection a go. I have bought a few from the series and, apart from the Christmas short story collection - Silent Nights- this is the first one I've read.

Briefly, the story is set around the opening night of a new musical "Blue Music". On stage in front of the entire audience on opening night, an actor, instead of just pretending to get shot, is actually shot- dead.

I'm not sure how I feel about Quick Curtain to be honest. It was light-hearted, (you know, for a story that contains a murder), and there is some nice quirky banter. However, you do wonder how the detective ever solves any crimes. He and his amateur assistant, in this case his journalist son, seem a bit absent-minded and slightly incompetent; but this is meant as a humorous novel so that's alright as far as it goes. I found it amusing in places with some interesting character observations.

For me, what let it down was the ending. It didn't feel satisfying. It didn't feel true or convincing, which you expect, even in a book with an element of tongue in cheek spoof about it. I don't want to give anything away so I wont comment on why it felt unconvincing. I can see what the writer might have been trying to accomplish and it's an interesting take but for me it doesn't quite work as it is.

All in all, I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It's a bit of a light-hearted adventure. It's a nice casual read but ultimately a little let down by an ending that could have been managed better.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Shadows At The Door Anthology Available To Pre-Order

http://www.shadowsatthedoor.com/store/

Hello all! I have just received word that the hardback edition of the Shadows At The Door anthology project, of which I am part, is now available to pre-order. This is a project I'm really excited about.

So if you'd like more information or to grab your copy of the creepy goings on over at Shadows At The Door just follow the link

Or if you would like to revisit my interviews with some of the authors you can do so here

Monday, 22 August 2016

Lot No.249 by Arthur Conan Doyle -Book Review

Lot No. 249 (Penguin Little Black Classics)Lot No. 249 by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A while back I was browsing through the list of Penguin's little black classics when I came across Lot No.249 by Arthur Conan Doyle. It wasn't one I was familiar with. It was described as the first story to feature a supernatural mummy. Not being overly familiar with mummy literature, excepting the ring of Thoth, also by Conan Doyle and of a different variety, the mummy not being the supernatural element, when I was obliged to buy some books for my next course I decided to treat myself to this one at the same time; well it would be rude not to. For £1 it seemed worth a try.

The story centres around three students who occupy rooms in a secluded part of their college. Life is quiet until a series of strange occurrences begin to take place on campus.

The story is dramatic with moments of tense and atmospheric action. There is also the traditional element of an unbeliever finding the truth thrust upon him.

Yes, to the modern reader the plot may feel familiar and obvious but for the first mummy story of its kind I can imagine this was something of a spine chiller back in the day.

It is as well written as we have come to expect from a Conan Doyle story and I found it to be a fun, quick read. Being a Little Black Classic this was short but sweet and well worth the investment of £1 to discover a new (to me) Conan Doyle horror and one of the best of his that I’ve read in this genre so far.




View all my reviews

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Watcher in The Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Book Review

The Watcher in the ShadowsThe Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When I bought Marina I also bought The Watcher In The Shadows by the same author. In some respects this book is similar to Marina, in that it is a young adult book dealing with the loss of childhood innocence and the move towards adulthood. In fact the theme of loss is present throughout this book in one form or another.

In summer 1937, following the death of her father, young Irene and her family move to the coastal village of Blue Bay, where her mother goes to work as housekeeper for retired toy maker Lazarus Jann.

Jann is a recluse who lives locked away in his mansion surrounded by bizarre mechanical toys. When Irene meets Ismael together they begin to uncover the mystery behind the abandoned lighthouse that overlooks Blue Bay and Lazarus Jann’s secret past.

The Watcher in The Shadows creates the feel of an idyllic, beautiful, long summer. But as this is a gothic horror things soon take a darker turn. You feel the shattering of the characters’ dreams. This book is both beautiful and sad. It takes the idea of the shadows of your past controlling your life and weaves it throughout the book, creating a kind of gothic tapestry of loss and survival. There is also a strong sense of foreshadowing that is ever present (do forgive any unintentional puns).

I got the sense from The Watcher in The Shadows of the characters learning that it’s those sometimes brief and fleeting moments of happiness that they carry with them that get them through all the darkness. There is a definite air of hope at the end.

Like Marina, The Watcher in The Shadows is aimed at young adults, but as an adult I found plenty to enjoy in this book. I can only hope that young adults are reading books like this. A nice introduction to the genre.




View all my reviews

Friday, 5 August 2016

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Book Review

MarinaMarina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Marina is a gothic story aimed at young adults. I didn’t know it was young adult when I bought it but that never worried me. I’m OK with a teenage protagonist if the story is good.

The story centres around young Oscar Drai who meets a mysterious girl called Marina. One day Marina takes Oscar to a graveyard where they witness a woman dressed in black lay a single red rose on a grave whose headstone bears no name, only the emblem of a black butterfly. They decide to follow her. From there onwards they are dragged into a dark vein of the cities forgotten past.

I enjoyed Marina. It’s a quick read and doesn’t hold back on the emotion just because it’s a young adult book. There are two stories at play in the book; there is the main gothic adventure and the story of Oscar and Marina’s growing relationship. You get the feeling of a character waking out of childhood into an adult world where he’s having to face up to the frailty of life, human weaknesses and fear and how those things can easily lead you into darkness. You know at the end of the book that he can never go back to being the boy he was at the beginning.

I know some people dislike the way Ruiz has a habit of writing big sections of back-story being relayed by one character to another but personally I feel he does this pretty well. I didn’t feel like there was too much putting the story on pause to fill in the back-story. I don’t recall it happening at moments of immediate action. It felt quite natural, and one character sitting down to tell another character their back-story isn’t exactly a new contrivance.

Without giving too much away, the end of this story is heart-breaking. I say this even though I could see it coming. I don’t know whether it was expected that younger readers wouldn’t pick up on it so soon (which I doubt), or whether we are supposed to see it coming and therefore have more sympathy for Oscar who clearly doesn’t. Either way, it was very emotional.

The reason I gave this 4 stars rather than 5 on Goodreads is because I felt there were some elements of the story that were not brilliantly explained, and not in a mysterious ambiguous sense; it just felt a bit unclear. Also I didn’t like the decision two characters made on the train platform at the end of the book. I can understand why they would make that decision but to me it would have felt more natural for them to decide the other way. But it’s the kind of situation everyone deals with differently. I don’t want to spoil anything so that’s all I’m saying!

All in all, a nice piece of accessible gothic horror that can introduce young adults to the genre and also engaging enough to appeal to adults. And if it is a consideration for you, it had a gorgeous cover.

One side note, there are parts of this book that remind me very much of one of the classic books of the gothic genre; I wont say which, but there is a character whose name greatly resembles that of its author. I wonder if this was an intentional nod. I do hope so.




View all my reviews

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Last Chance To Back Our Horror Anthology


Well, ladies and gents we are down to the last 6 hours of our Kickstarter for the Shadows at the Door anthology. We are 81% funded and need as much help as possible to get us to the finish line.

Kickstarter is all or nothing so if we don't reach our target by the deadline we wont receive a penny from all the pledges so far.

So please spread the word if you can and back us if you can/would like to. And a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored us so far. We really appreciate it.



Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Shadows at the Door - Author Interview With M. Regan

M. Regan


Hello, folks. Thank you for joining me for another author interview. Today I am joined by Shadows at the Door author M. Regan.

When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?

I think it was more of a “gradual descent” than a “fall.” I actually hated horror as a child! But as I got older and began to prefer stories with more substance— with meat and bones, shall we say— I realized that my favorite parts in fantasies and romances were when things took a turn for the morbid. It took a while for me to understand that “horror” could mean more than gratuitous gore and jump scares, but after I had that epiphany, I became far more intrigued by the genre.

Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?

I would say my writing is more along the lines of “dark fiction.” I have a weakness for the gothic, the paranormal, and the supernatural, and have a hard time saying “no” to Faustian contracts.

What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?

In high school, a friend of mine lent me a copy of Jhonen Vasquez’s cult classic, “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.” It was a surprisingly deep read, but one of the things I remember most vividly about the comic was its forward. In it, the argument was made that everyone has a little monster inside of them, one that survives on our most depraved thoughts and our strangest fantasies. That little monster is an important part of who we are, and it needs to be fed. It is when we ignore or repress our monsters that they escape into reality, and do those terrible things that we hear about real life monsters doing. It’s a roundabout answer, but to me, I think that’s one of the main draws of horror: The idea of keeping our monsters satiated. There is safety in our ability to explore the worst of ourselves and the world around us on the printed page; imagine how much nicer things would be if we could keep everyone’s monsters contained.

What are some of your favorite horror stories?

I tend to get my horror fix from manga and anime. Some of my recent favorites are “Madoka Magica,” “Black Butler,” “Neuro,” and “Mononoke.” I loved how dark “InuYasha” could get, too, and the implications of series like “Hell Girl.” I also recommend the indie film “Lo,” and have enjoyed more mainstream shows like “Hannibal.”

Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?

I was scared of so many stories! An old TV special left me terrified of ventriloquist dummies; I was convinced I might find one hiding in my closet. I couldn’t drink lime Kool-Aid after seeing a Goosebumps cover that involved slime. And I was so frightened by a story my friend told me about a killer doll that my mother had to give away the porcelain dolls my grandmother left me. She wasn’t too thrilled about that.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve loved telling stories since I was old enough to string two words together, but I first began to seriously consider being a writer after getting into fanfiction. Nothing made me happier than receiving a review from someone telling me how much fun they’d had reading my work. Really, I just enjoy entertaining people.

Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?

Like most writers of my generation, J.K. Rowling was a huge influence. So was Johnathan Stroud and Philp Pullman. J. I. Radke is a new author whose stories has inspired me in more recent years. Though I think I learned the most about my own aesthetics and favored themes through the work of Yana Toboso and Daisuke Moriyama.

Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.

The grand majority of my writing experience has thus far been through fanfiction, though I have also been employed as a localization professional for Crunchyroll.com, and have worked for the nationally syndicated high school newspaper, “Student Paths.” 2015 saw my work featured in two other fiction anthologies, as well: Flame Tree Press’ “Chilling Ghost Short Stories,” and Lethe Press’ “The Myriad Carnival.”

How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door anthology?

I am very, very excited! So many talented people have come together to create this anthology; to have been offered a chance to work with them is both thrilling and humbling.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

I am always working on something! But no one likes spoilers.

Click to pre-order the Shadows at The Door anthology!


Follow M. Regan

Facebook



Kickstarter


Monday, 21 March 2016

Author Interview With K. A Lentz

K. A. Lentz
K. A. Lentz


Tell us a little about yourself.

Okay, but only a little. History fascinates me on an epic scale. Kings and Queens interest me well enough, however, it’s the ordinary people I seek to know as their tale is nearly always more interesting. I’m an avid daydreamer with a mind that asks lots of questions. My love for potato started young and is well nourished to this day, literally, I’ll be munching some down in an hour. I try not to take myself too seriously; I'm well aware that I’m a clumsy goofball. On that note, I love to dance, freestyle of course.


What genre do you write in?

Currently, I write in the epic high-fantasy genre, blended with a bit of history, folklore, and mythology.


Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, The Reaper Realm: Threads of Compassion, is based in an alternate realm of existence from our own. The reaper realm is a constructed reality where powerful supernatural beings siphon energy from planet earth, and its inhabiting souls, to create a world in which they rule with unquestioned dominion. Beings from eight, natural realms of existence must fight these evil abominations or be lost to the reaper's growing, nightmarish reality.

Two souls, unwillingly caught in the struggle, learn that together they are the key to turning the tide of war, and possibly saving reality. While both, main characters are human, they differ greatly in their origins; Thistle is a human spirited away from the Earth we know, while Miach’s ancient soul is trapped in an elven body, forever to serve his Reaper overlord. Soon, they form a tentative relationship, born from necessity, and eventually become close confidants. It would seem Miach’s master, Lesdaeonna, attracted the attention of her peers by spiriting Thistle to the realm, and now they too want the reaper’s prize. Barely a day passes before Miach learns he must not only defend Thistle from his master, but all Reapers.

As with all good heroes and heroines, Miach and Thistle need help from others to help win the day. Four, additional characters play central roles in the battle for reality. Their stories explore the ravaged lives of Reaper realm inhabitants, each soul forever touched by tragedy and war.

This book is also a bit of a creature feature. There are many creatures in mythology worth exploring, top that massive list with all the fantastical birds, beasts, and bugs from Earth’s past, the options are boundless.


When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Oddly enough, as I sat down to write this book I finally realized, since I was young, stories were a part of me and writing them down was how I wanted to share them with the world. Before that, I never thought I could do it; a silly, daydreaming past time that really amounted to nothing. How wrong of an assumption to make, especially looking back on the fact that I did do it!


Are there any books or writers who have particularly influenced or inspired you as a writer?

Dr. Seuss deserves due credit for orienting my mind in a wanderly, ponderly direction at a very young age. Following a long pause in pleasure reading, lasting from third to tenth grade, I picked up Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. That book, along with the first in the series, got me reading for enjoyment again. From there, Anne Rice became a big influence through her Vampire Chronicles. As well as Terry Pratchett, whose whimsy in all things gave me confidence. For non-fiction, I'd have to list Graham Hancock, another writer who focuses on his topic with a wide-view angle lens.


What is your proudest moment as a writer so far?

Overcoming my perceived failings to accomplish something that, for a long time, I never thought possible. Following the fourth and final edit, I felt confident in myself and my abilities, and that feeling felt fantastic!


Have you ever considered branching out into other genres? If so which other genre/s would you like to write in?

Oh yes, definitely! I’ve begun work on a children’s series, as well as a historical thriller. The latter is a style and topic I’ve no wish to delve into at the moment, so that tale is simply in the research and outline phase of development. The one writing project I’ve ever had the urge to outline.


If you answered yes to the above would you write under the same name or use a pen name for each genre? What's your take on writing in multiple genres under one name?

Hmm, that’s a good question. Possibly. I think a pen name adds whimsy, however, I've never felt tricked in the past when picking up a different genre by a favored author and decided not to read it.


Why did you decide to be an independent author?

When I heard that was an option for authors, I was immediately on board. While self-publishing certainly comes with its headaches and challenges, I like the freedom and control; I have the last say on all decisions.


If one of the big 5 publishers offered you a contract tomorrow would you swap indie for traditional publishing, stay as you are or try to do both?

I’d stay the course I’m on. I don’t like the idea of pressure from corporate to produce a product they want, I prefer the encouragements of people waiting for the next book as my incentive to keep me on track.


What's the biggest challenge you've faced as an indie?

As with all indie authors--I'd imagine--my biggest challenge is buyer confidence. The general public lacks confidence that indie authors are capable of writing books worth reading. This outlook will change as trends shift more toward the internet.


What are you working on at the moment?

I'm currently working on book two in The Reaper Realm series and a short-story project, wherein I'm exploring ideas and characters unlikely to make it into the books.


Where to Buy

The Reaper Realm:Threads of Compassion


Website

http://www.thereaperrealm.com


N.B. This author interview does not constitute the endorsement of the featured writer or their work by this blog. This interview is provided as part of a free promotional opportunity for indie authors.




Sunday, 20 March 2016

Shadows at the Door - Kickstarter Launch

Shadows at the Door
Kickstarter


Well, the day is finally here, folks. Regular readers may know that I am (just) one of the writers involved in the Shadows at the Door anthology project. The Kickstarter for the anthology is now live and we need your help.

This anthology is devoted to promoting ghost stories and horror in the classic tradition; M. R. James fans should like this book. We are offering tales of creeping unease in hardback, eBook and audio formats.

Please, if you can, help us get this project that means so much to all of us off the ground. If you are able to make a pledge that would be amazing, but even if you can't you can still help by spreading the word. Share our posts, tweets and blogs; help us get the word out. Any and all help is appreciated.

Check out the campaign video below or o the Kickstarter page for more information. If you'd like to know more about the writers involved there are interviews with some of them right here on the blog.

Thank you all :)


Back Our Kickstarter!

Monday, 14 March 2016

Author Interview With Sandra M. Reed

http://www.amazon.com/Buckwheats-Journey-Sandra-Reed-ebook/dp/B00VETS3OQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1455720114&sr=1-1&keywords=buckwheat%27s+journey

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in New Roads, Louisiana and have seven siblings. I received my B.A. in English and Drama Education from Dillard University. I am a veteran teacher of the Chicago Public Schools. One of my greatest challenges was serving two terms as an elected official and became one of the voices in government on the local, state and federal level. Heeding the voices of children and parents, I established the Myria Reed Foundation for Children with Special Needs.

As a member of Actor's Equity Union, I have performed in dance companies, plays and musicals throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. I am a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), Chicago Screenwriters Network, Chicago Women in Publishing, ARRAY Now (Artists and Advocates for Independent Film Distribution and Resource), and Sundance Institute member.

What genre do you write in?

Multicultural/Ethic fiction

Tell us about your latest book

Buckwheat’s Journey… is an ethic fiction novel that invites reading on all multi-levels or age groups. It is a light-hearted yet evocative perspective of stereotype and bullying. Set in Chicago, Buckwheat re- enters the 21st century as a doll and clashes with black classy female dolls because of social and cultural differences. When Buckwheat says, “Otay, whateva yuh say,” realization sets in. As the readers take this historical and geographical journey with Buckwheat they will have a better understanding how stereotypes impact African-Americans today. Although contentious issues are present, this narrative has several humorous scenes. Along the way, Buckwheat is transformed, yet becomes a hero. The reader will be inspired as well as gain knowledge that it is not what is on the outside but the inside that counts.
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” ___ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When did you first know you wanted to be writer?

In college, I studied theater and was surrounded by prolific writers and that experience was the beginning of my journey in writing.

Are there any books or writers who have particularly influenced or inspired you as a writer?

Several authors influenced my writings: Douglas Turner Ward, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Henrik Ibsen, August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Claude McKay, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ayn Rand, Maya Angelou, Lewis Carroll, Ed Bullins, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Plato, Aristotle and authors of the Bible.

What is your proudest moment as a writer so far?

The proudest moment as a writer was being able to let my voice be heard.

Have you ever considered branching out into other genres? If so which other genre/s would you like to write in?


I will continue to work on my screenplays.

If you answered yes to the above would you write under the same name or use a pen name for each genre? What's your take on writing in multiple genres under one name?

I will always write under my name.

Why did you decide to be an independent author?

I decided to become an independent writer after receiving feedback from publishers such as: “Thanks very much for your thoughtful query, but the project you describe doesn't sound quite right for me. I wish you the best of luck finding representation for your book.”

In addition, I realized the lack of diversity in novels, film etc., and people of color have to create their own pathway to let their voices be heard.

If one of the big 5 publishers offered you a contract tomorrow would you swap indie for traditional publishing, stay as you are or try to do both?

I may try to do both but only under certain conditions; I will not let them change or take away my voice.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced as an indie?

The biggest challenge is exploring and learning ways to promote my work, but I love it.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a screenplay (biopic).

Where can people buy your books or learn more about you?

Buy Sandra's book

Amazon

Connect With Sandra

Website

Twitter

Facebook


N.B. This author interview does not constitute the endorsement of the featured writer or their work by this blog. This interview is provided as part of a free promotional opportunity for indie authors.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Author Interview With P. D. Workman



http://www.amazon.com/Michelle-Between-Cracks-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01AOU7VDY/re
Michelle
Between the Cracks #3
by
P. D. Workman

Tell us a little about yourself

I am in Calgary, Alberta and I have been writing novels since I was twelve. I started publishing just a couple of years ago, and am greatly enjoying this new journey.

What genre do you write in?

I write riveting young adult/suspense fiction about mental illness, addiction, and abuse

Tell us about your latest book

My most recently published book is Michelle, book #3 of the Between the Cracks series.

When Michelle asked to be taken away from her abusive mother, she never expected to lose everyone she loved in the process. They said they would keep her and Kenny together. Her daddy said he would be back. And she never even got to say good-bye to Marcie.

All too soon, they were trying to reunite her with her mother, and Michelle is forced to take to the streets, seeking safety in the gang life.

—Something about [P.D. Workman’s] writing just blows my mind... I hate when I get too tired to read anymore and I have to wait until the next day.

—It's a heart-breaking story.

—The Between the Cracks books have been absolutely AMAZING… as soon as I started to read "Ruby", I just had to keep going.

When did you first know you wanted to be writer?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Before I could even read or form letters, I used to scribble little books made of stapled together construction paper. I made several attempts at writing a novel before I finished my first one, and since then… I haven’t stopped.

Are there any books or writers who have particularly influenced or inspired you as a writer?

My two biggest influencers in YA fiction are probably S.E. Hinton and Jay Bennett. I watched The Outsiders movie before I read the book, and it was gut-wrenching and reached right down inside of me.

What is your proudest moment as a writer so far?

A year ago, Ruby Between the Cracks won the Top Ten Best Books for Teens, a literary award put out by the In the Margins Book Award and Selection Committee under the umbrella of Library Services for Youth in Custody. It was such a great feeling to have that recognition, and to know that my books were being read by the kids I was writing about.

Have you ever considered branching out into other genres? If so which other genre/s would you like to write in?

I’ve dabbled in other genres, but haven’t published anything but YA and adult suspense at this point—other than in school, when I published poetry in some school anthologies. I haven’t discounted writing in other genres.

I have also edited and annotated classics with special study material for homeschoolers and self-directed learners, and I plan to add more books to this venture in the future.

I may also publish some non-fiction in the next year or two; I have a few ideas on the back-burner at the moment.

If you answered yes to the above would you write under the same name or use a pen name for each genre? What's your take on writing in multiple genres under one name?

I would probably continue to use the name P.D. Workman for all fiction.

I have used the names Workman Classic Schoolbooks and Workman Family Classics for my work on publishing classics, and would probably use another form of my name for non-fiction. I think that each of these areas will have a different readership, and want to make it easy for readers to find similar books and not get buried in disparate books, especially considering the number of works this will eventually encompass. (I have out sixteen fiction books and eight classics thus far and that’s just the beginning.)

Why did you decide to be an independent author?

I never had any interest in sending out query letters and pursuing publishing contracts. When I started to consider publishing, I only ever really considered independent publishing.

If one of the big 5 publishers offered you a contract tomorrow would you swap indie for traditional publishing, stay as you are or try to do both?

Hybrid writers tend to do quite well. It would have to be a good contract, and I would want to retain a certain amount of control over my rights. I certainly wouldn’t be jumping into it without due consideration.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced as an indie?

I love most of independent publishing. Promotion is challenging, and what I like least is probably business accounting!

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on books 2 and 3 of a new series. They are young adult suspense, but different from anything else that I have out yet. I intend to release all three later in the year, in quick succession.

Where can people buy your books or learn more about you?

Buy P. D. Workman's books

Amazon

Smashwords

Google Play Books

iBooks

Barnes and Noble

Scribd

Connect with P. D. Workman

Website

Goodreads


Twitter

N.B. This author interview does not constitute the endorsement of the featured writer or their work by this blog. This interview is provided as part of a free promotional opportunity for indie authors.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Shadows at the Door - Author Interview With Mark Cassell

Mark Cassell

Today I have joining me author of The Shadow Fabric, Mark Cassell.

When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?

First up, I want to say thank you for having me here.

Glad to have you join us!

My love for horror? Apart from sneaky glimpses of horror movies as a child, I guess the pivotal moment must’ve been when my dad suggested I read James Herbert’s Magic Cottage. I was about thirteen years old and this novel snatched me into a world that kicked my imagination into overdrive.

Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?

Dark fantasy and supernatural. I’m not one for a gorefest, and my horror leans towards psychological creeps rather than pathological freaks.

What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?

For me it’s the unknown, the unnatural, the supernatural. I’ve always wondered what exists on the Other Side, and I guess both my work and my reading choices reflect that curiosity.

What are some of your favourite horror stories?

Some? I’ve read too many fantastic stories to list. One which has for years remained at the top of that unwritten list is Brian Lumley’s “The Thief Immortal”. It tells the life story of a man named Klaus August Scharme who has the unusual gift of stealing the years from any living thing and adding them to his own.

The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell
The Shadow Fabric
by
Mark Cassell

Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?

This is incredibly difficult to answer and without coming across as a real weirdo, I must say nothing actually frightened me as a child. Honestly. Though if I had to point at one thing in particular, it would be something about a glass jar filled with a dark, perhaps green, liquid. I’ve no idea how old I was and from what movie it comes from, but I recall what I believe was the final scene before the credits rolled – I guess I’d walked in while my parents watched it.

I remember vividly how the film score reached its crescendo and so conjured a powerful sense of intrigue. My curiosity and imagination burned, and I wondered why this simple glass jar was there. What did it contain? What evil was inside it? Why was the music so intense, so atmospheric? And because the TV screen darkened and the movie ended, what the hell happened up to that point?

To this day, I’ve never found out. Still it bugs me.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I reckon it all started when I was about six or seven years old. I wrote a story, cut the paper into shape (badly) and taped the thing together – you know, to bind it like a proper book. It was called 'The Clockwork Man'. Perhaps an early stab at steampunk? The protagonist was a clockwork boy whose mother had a problem with her arm. I recall the mechanism was faulty or something, and the only thing the clockwork man/boy could do was to find a piece of wire with which to fix it. That poor kid looked everywhere and eventually found one in the boot of their car.

Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?

Already I’ve mentioned James Herbert and Brian Lumley, and so must include Clive Barker. All these guys, and so many more, have produced incredible work over the years. Barker is famous for the Hellraiser franchise but for me it’s his novel Imajica which I suspect inspired me to pick up a pencil and begin scribbling. The world – perhaps I should say worlds – he created within those pages is incredible.

Sinister Stitches by Mark Cassell
Sinister Stitches
by
Mark Cassell

Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.

My debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, last week became the No.1 best seller on Amazon’s British Horror list. I’m overwhelmed with the response. Since its release, the story has unintentionally become more a mythos than a standalone novel.

The novel itself is about demons, devices, and deceit. We follow Leo, a man who remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone . . . including himself.

Having had a number of stories published in zines and anthologies, and also a couple on the Shadows at the Door website, I have since released Sinister Stitches. This is a collection of particular horror stories that fall – some intentionally, other unintentionally – into the Shadow Fabric mythos. And it seems there’s a demand for even more, so keep your eyes peeled!

How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?

Absolutely honoured to be among some fine names. Being a part of this project is truly amazing, and everyone is so damn friendly. The comradery we’ve developed throughout the inception of all our stories is something I’ve not come across before.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

For this year’s EM-Con (East Midlands Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention), the SF zine Future Chronicles are set to release an ebook and paperback of Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill. It’s a collection of the first episodes of a speculative fiction saga I write for them, blending cyberpunk and science fiction in a dystopian future. With a little bit of horror thrown in, naturally.

As far as my dark fantasy and supernatural work goes, I’m creating a steampunk universe, writing more horror flash fiction, and continuing the expansion of the Shadow Fabric mythos.

 
 

Click to pre-order the Shadows at The Door anthology!


Connect with Mark

Free books and free stories: www.markcassell.com

The Shadow Fabric mythos: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk

Twitter

Facebook

Blog: www.beneath.co.uk

Where to buy?

The novel, The Shadow Fabric: http://amzn.to/19KZChF

The short story collection, Sinister Stitches: http://amzn.to/1SuHihP

Author Interview With E. P. Clark

The Midnight Land
The Midnight Land
by
E. P. Clark



Tell us a little about yourself:

I spent my early childhood in Western KY, riding horses (I was convinced I was going to be on the US Equestrian Team one day, despite all evidence to the contrary) and running around pretending to be a unicorn. I was homeschooled, which was a tremendous advantage as far as my creative and academic development was concerned. Then when I was a teenager my family moved to Russia, and I went with them. I spent the next several years first in Russia, then in England, then in Italy, before returning to the US for good, this time to North Carolina. I got my BA from UNC-Charlotte and decided to apply to grad school. To my surprise—I still can’t explain how it happened—I got into an MA program in Russian at Columbia, which I was NOT aware was a big deal until I actually showed up. Other adventures happened, and I ended up getting my Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from UNC-Chapel Hill. I’ve worked teaching Russian at various places, including Notre Dame and Wake Forest University, which is where I’m currently working.

What genre do you write in?

Fantasy! Epic, epic fantasy!

Tell us about your latest book:

The Midnight Land: Parts One and Two is the story of Slava (Krasnoslava Tsarinovna), younger sister to the Empress of all of Zem’. Her family has powers of clairvoyance that manifest themselves differently in every generation, and Slava, to her sister’s disgruntlement, is the only who has inherited them. She’s basically empathic, although she also has occasional visions in a more traditional sense, and can sometimes affect other people with her thoughts. Anyway, she’s pretty miserable in Krasnograd, the capital city, where she’s the target of bullying because of her gifts, and, we discover as the story goes on, even worse abuse as well, so she takes off with an exploring party going up to map the area beyond the sunline, i.e., the Arctic Circle. In Part One she makes this long journey through Zem’, somewhat a la Gogol’s Dead Souls, up to the sunline, and discovers that her magic is growing stronger and stronger. In Part Two she has to deal with intrigue, treason, plotting on the part of the gods, and most of all her own fears, as she returns to Krasnograd and has to face her sister and all the other princesses. It’s set in a matriarchal, matrilineal society that somewhat resembles Russia (all the names are in Russian, for example, so be warned!). I think of it as feminist although it’s not exactly feminist in the same way as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example. Slava isn’t really a woman of action, despite her journeying. It’s just that everyone assumes that women should hold power because of their obvious natural advantages such as longer life expectancy, greater facility with reading, writing, and interpersonal relationships, lack of a tendency to commit violent crimes, and most of all, because matrilineal descent is very easy to keep track of. Gender roles and relationships are pretty similar in many respects to how they are in our society, it’s just that daughters generally inherit and rule, not sons, so the reader is given a strong sense of inversion and estrangement as the characters, for example, pray for the birth of a daughter and worry about how they’re going to raise and take care of their sons.

When did you first know you wanted to be writer?

When I first learned to write. It’s been my goal ever since.

Are there any books or writers who have particularly influenced or inspired you as a writer?
So many! From the fantasy side, I’d have a hard time choosing between George R.R. Martin and Terry Pratchett, although I’d say my writing is probably on the surface more Martinesque. I also LOVE Jacqueline Carey. And of course J.R.R. Tolkien is a huge influence. You can find more or less explicit references to all of them in The Midnight Land. From the Russian side, I deliberately weave in references to Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, Pavlova, and various others throughout the narrative. For example, the phrase that keeps repeating itself “Somewhere far to the South—perhaps on the Middle Sea” is a reference to Pushkin’s “little tragedy” “The Stone Guest,” and the discussion in Part Two about being starved for love is a reference to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. And that hardly even scratches the surface! I have so many conscious and unconscious influences on my writing that it’s hard to keep track of them.

What is your proudest moment as a  writer so far?

Hmm, it’s been really great to have friends and family call me or write me to tell me how much they love the books. It was also really exciting to get my first 5-star reviews. And right now as I’m writing this I’m giddy because I’m doing a free promotion on Kindle and I totally overfulfilled the plan like a true hero of labor and blew past the sales goal I’d set for the entire week in less than 24 hours. So that’s awesome!

Have you ever considered branching out into other genres? If so which other genre/s would you like to write in?

I originally wanted to write detective novels and even wrote some drafts, which never went anywhere, but I like to keep a slight “detective-y” flavor in my fantasy novels, I can tell when I read them. Right now I’m really into romance and have been reading a lot of that. I’d kind of like to give it a whirl but I’m not sure I’m ready yet!

Why did you decide to be an independent author?

I’d tried to get agented several years ago when I first decided to get serious about writing, but with no success. Not that I tried all that hard—I think I only submitted to 12 agents—or that I necessarily deserved any success at the time, but it wasn’t like anyone was throwing contracts at me, and I just kind of moved on and decided to work on my writing career in different ways. Then I ended up in the absolutely brutal world of academic publishing and the academic job market, and I was like, “I just cannot handle any more rejection or criticism.” I wanted my novels to be something I could be proud of and something I could take joy in, not something that, by the time they came out, I felt nothing but alienation and revulsion for. And the independent publishing platforms have come a long way in recent years, enabling indie authors to gain a much bigger toehold in the market and put out good quality products, so it seemed like something worth trying out.

If one of the big 5 publishers offered you a contract tomorrow would you swap indie for traditional publishing, stay as you are or try to do both?

That would depend on how much money and artistic control they offered me. If they offered me a lucrative contract, lots of marketing support, and final say on the finished product, then of course I’d say yes. If they wanted to take away a lot of my rights and artistic control, then I’d have to say no.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced as an indie?

Getting the word out to readers! It’s really hard to reach readers. As a reader, I’ve also realized that there are loads of talented authors out there that I’d never heard of before and I might never have heard of if I hadn’t taken up indie publishing myself. So I now read interviews like this one and connect with authors on Twitter and Goodreads to find most of my reading material.

What are you working on at the moment?

The Breathing Sea, the next book in the series begun by The Midnight Land. Between marketing The Midnight Land and my actual day job, I haven’t been able to focus on it as much as I’d like, but it’s still coming along.

Where can people buy your books and connect with you?



Amazon

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

My Website: I’m trying to read and review a lot of other indie authors, so if you’re interested in my recommendations, check any of those sites out!


N.B. This author interview does not constitute the endorsement of the featured writer or their work by this blog. This interview is provided as part of a free promotional opportunity for indie authors.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Shadows at the Door -Author Interview with Pete Alex Harris

Next up in the interview seat is author Pete Alex Harris.

When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?

Gradually, I would say. My first love was definitely SF, and I can't quite identify the point where my tastes broadened to include stories that were more obviously horror. Possibly some of the darker stuff by Harlan Ellison nudged me in that direction. But before even that I was a big H. G. Wells fan, and some of his stories could easily take the horror label, The Island of Doctor Moreau, for example.

Which subgenre(s) of horror would you say your work falls into?

I'd say dark fantasy, for the most part, but I do love a bit of unabashed Gothic pastiche.

What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?

What is it about a story that makes it horror at all? I think it's the nature and scope of the threat the characters face, and the stakes. You can't write a bland horror, about a minor inconvenience or social faux pas. There has to be something very unpleasant in play, even if only hinted at. Horror is enjoyable the way vivid colours or spicy food are enjoyable; the fun is concentrated.

The Silk Mind by Pete Alex Harris
The Silk Mind
by
Pete Alex Harris


What are some of your favourite horror stories?

In no particular order: China Miéville's Perdido Street Station; The Ash Tree by M. R. James; The Color Out Of Space by Lovecraft (one of his more original ideas); Misery, Pet Semetary and The Shining by Stephen King. They may not be all of my favourites, but they sprang to mind immediately, so they are definitely up there somewhere.

Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?

I didn't read a lot of horror when growing up, but Empire of the Ants by H. G. Wells stayed with me. And that 70s TV drama "The Mad Death", about a rabies outbreak in Britain. Parts of it were filmed in my home town, so now it's more funny and nostalgic than terrifying.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Quite young. Maybe 9 or 10? More or less as soon as I got Isaac Asimov's short story collection Buy Jupiter for my birthday. The way Asimov wrote about writing made it sound like the best job ever, and his simple style made writing look effortless. Of course, I soon found out it was a lot harder than it looked.

Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?

Those mentioned above plus Andre Norton, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Bob Shaw, Alfred Bester, Terry Pratchett and Iain Banks. I don't know how much of them rubbed off on me, but they certainly each showed me different views of what's possible.

Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.

Nearly none. I was way better at computer programming than creative writing at school, so I've been mostly doing that instead. In 2014 I did NaNoWriMo for fun and suddenly found I had some twisted ideas to share. Who knew.

I self-published a fantasy, The Silk Mind, and an SF/Romance, Miasma. They are unconventionally structured and a bit experimental, but I'm reasonably happy with them. Good reviews but sparse sales; I'll take that.

Miasma by Pete Alex Harris
Miasma
by
Pete Alex Harris


How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?

UNBELIEVABLY excited. Still can hardly believe it. It maybe won't sink in until I hold a copy in my trembling hand, open it to the contents page, and see my name in there. Just wow. This whole experience has been great so far, and to reinforce
how big a deal it is, and how new to me, bear in mind this here is my first ever author interview for anything.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes, I have finished a dark SF novel called disOrder that I'm pitching at agents. If nobody likes the look of it, I'll self-pub that too. It is certainly the best thing I've done yet, with a multi-layered plot, a sociopathic anti-hero and a good body count, but I am just woefully bad at pitching and writing synopses.

I'm also about two thirds of the way into the sequel to The Silk Mind: The Source of Fire, which is more overtly cross-genre Fantasy/SF than its predecessor. It's a lot of fun to write, and I really have no expectations for that beyond self-pub either.

Oh yeah, and another story for Shadows, of course.

Click to pre-order the Shadows at The Door anthology!


Connect With Pete

Twitter

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Shadows at the Door - Author Interview With Helen Grant





I'm very excited to have joining me today the award winning and critically acclaimed author Helen Grant!
Helen has been good enough to take time out to answer a few questions and tell us her thoughts on the upcoming Shadows at the Door anthology.

When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?

When I was a child. My father is a great fan of the ghost stories of M.R.James and could sometimes be induced to retell them to amuse us on long car journeys. I think he probably has some of those tales pretty much off by heart. I recall Wailing Well being a particular favourite of ours. If you hear that stuff when you are still in primary school, there's no going back really.

Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?

I'm not sure I can really say. It's easier to say which subgenre it doesn't fall into, which would be splatterpunk. I prefer creepy/weird over extremely gory. As well as short ghostly fiction, I write novels probably best described as thrillers with a hint of the supernatural. Sometimes very gory things do happen in those, but they are described in an indirect way, eg I might focus on the gleam of a knife as it descends, rather than what happens when it lands.

What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?

Hmmm, the excitement I suppose! When I'm reading, I like to feel involved, thrilled, scared. I like my flesh to creep a bit. When I'm writing, I think I'm dealing with my own fears. Since childhood, I've had a particular fear of death by fire, so quite a few people in my books end up burning to death. Or falling from a height – I'm scared of that, too.

What are some of your favourite horror stories?

I'm assuming "horror" extends to include subtle Victorian ghosts so I'd have to say the ghost stories of M.R.James. I also love The Inner Room by Robert Aickman and Thurnley Abbey by Percival Landon. Among my modern favourites are the stories in John Connolly's collection Nocturnes. I also love the novels of John Ajvide Lindqvist.

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant
The Glass Demon
by
Helen Grant

Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?

When I was a kid, I thought M.R.James' Wailing Well was pretty scary. The humour passed over my head when I was a child so I was also rather shocked at the school's cavalier attitude to the deaths of their pupils!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

At primary school. English composition was my absolutely favourite thing. I experimented with all sorts of genres back then – animal stories, sci fi, even romance (I'd like to forget about that last one though – shudder).

Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?

M.R.James. I don't try to write like he does (well, who can?) but his story The Treasure of Abbot Thomas inspired my second novel The Glass Demon, which is about a set of lost stained glass windows created by the same (real life) master craftsman who made the Steinfeld glass featured in MRJ's story. There are a few Jamesian touches hidden in the text for other fans of his stories to find. I've also mentioned him in the acknowledgements.

I've said I don't try to write like MRJ but there's one exception. I did a completion for his unfinished story The Game of Bear, and for that I had to do my very best to continue the tale in his style. The story won a competition run by the M.R.James Ghosts and Scholars Newsletter. It appears in my collection The Sea Change and Other Stories.


Urban Legends by Helen Grant
Urban Legends
by
Helen Grant

Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.

I've written six novels, starting with The Vanishing of Katharina Linden (2009) which I'm very proud to say was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. My latest novel is Urban Legends (2015), the final book in a trilogy of thrillers about urban explorers menaced by a brutal serial killer. I'd describe my work as crossover; nominally it's Young Adult but judging by the audiences at the book events I've done, most of my readers are grown-ups!

Obviously I also write short ghostly fiction. One of the fun things I've done was to be Writer in Residence at the Library of Innerpeffray for Hallowe'en 2013. It's an antiquarian library overlooking a graveyard (yes, I know – wonderful!) and I spent the day in there creating a set of three interwoven ghost stories, which I read aloud that same evening by candlelight. The stories are set in and around the Library and are inspired by the book collection. Copies are available from the Library's online shop, with all proceeds going to support the Library.

How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?

I'm very pleased about it! Initiatives like this are the lifeblood of ghost stories. Ghost stories are hard to sell to large commercial publishers so small presses and projects like this one are champions of the genre. I'm also enjoying the contact with the other writers. I can't wait to see the finished anthology and read all the other stories!

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes, I'm working on a new novel. I can't say too much about it because even the working title is a massive spoiler, but like my other novels, it has a lot of Gothic elements, mystery and deaths. My previous books were set in Germany and Flanders because we were living in those places when I started writing them, but we moved to Scotland in 2011 and my current work in progress is set here in Perthshire.

Click to pre-order the Shadows at The Door anthology!


Helen's Links

Website

Facebook Books Page

Twitter

SoundCloud  (readings from Helen's work)

Instagram

Friday, 26 February 2016

Shadows at the Door – Author Interview With Christopher Long



Christopher Long

In the Shadows at the Door interview hot-seat today we have horror author Christopher Long.
When did your first fall in love with the horror genre?
It didn’t happen quickly for me. I think it was more of a slow seduction. For a long time I was aware of it but I wouldn’t say I chased after it. A lot of my friends were obsessed with trying to see the latest instalment of every popular 80s horror franchise going but it didn’t really appeal to me. I guess it took discovering some of the more interesting forms of horror for it to really capture my imagination. Roald Dahl’s The Witches certainly started something when I was a kid, along with a lot of the folktales the Henson company used when they created The Storyteller. Frankenstein as well. There was something really haunting about that story to me, from the first time I came across it. I remember not being convinced the monster was truly a monster at all. To me, the scientist was the one you really had to be scared of. But, even then, you could understand his motivations. That was a lightbulb moment. Also it was intriguing to see all the various versions of that story that has come to pass. The recycling of a monster made out of recycled parts. I like the symmetry of that.
The one that really got me, though, was Kubrick’s version of The Shining. That really got me thinking seriously about horror. It made me start to see the sort of stories you could tell through the lens of the supernatural trespassing into the lives of ordinary people. It helped me to understand that you can truly study a character once they’re trapped within a world they no longer understand. It gives you an opportunity to look at relationships and faith in a very unique way. Also, you know, that movie scared the living hell out of me and it still does.
Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?
My work definitely lies in the world of ghost story. There’s rarely a huge amount of gore or shock jumps in my stories. Instead I like to ease people into the shadows and then leave them for a while, wondering what they can see. Or what can see them. I really strive for something akin to a nightmare in that sense. I think the best horror can come from twisting the everyday into a different shape or form, into something unexpected. Particularly when you’re writing a short story. Those are still my favourite things to write.
I’m really proud of the fact that some of my short stories have left the reader surprised by what they went through and where the story took them. That’s always a great feeling.
What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?
I think horror offers some great opportunities for storytelling. Not just in the form of scares or atmosphere, but I think it has the potential to leave something buried deep under the reader’s skin for a long time after they’re done with a story. It can keep you thinking about what you went through and keep you a little off your guard for a while. I love that feeling. That sense of almost waiting, almost hoping to be scared. I hate reading a flat, totally contained horror story. Or one that is clearly straining to reach the next sequel. That just isn’t scary to me. A great horror story is almost a trick of a light, almost too spectral to be inspected closely. It needs that to allow it to live on in you afterwards. It needs to have the strength to raise questions and make you a little unsure about what might be in the dark.
I truly hope some of my stories will be able to make people feel like that. It’d be great to know that something you created still has the power to scare people years from now, maybe even keep on scaring them. That would be really special.
What are some of your favourite horror stories?
Man, that’s tricky. So many of M. R. James's works are absolute masterclasses in how to tell a horror story. I’d struggle to choose between them. Like I said before, Frankenstein really got hold of my attention and never let it go. Neil Gaiman has created some really chilling moments in books like American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski did some spectacular things with my imagination and Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series may be one of the cleverest pieces of fan fiction ever written.
Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?
Of all the many things that scared the hell out of me as a kid the one I will never shake wasn’t really a story at all. It was, of all things, a music video. Or, at least, one moment from a music video. My parents were huge Kate Bush fans back in the 80s and they bought a collection of her music videos. One of them was Experiment IV. It had this story running through it about a team of scientists creating a sound that could kill. In the video there’s a moment where this siren like creature suddenly turns into some monstrous form and they would never let me see it. I would be made to look away or close my eyes whenever they watched it. I know it sounds crazy but that really stuck with me. In fact, last year, I remembered this and realised I could easily watch the video online. Only I decided I didn’t want to see it. No matter what that thing looks like, it will never live up to the creature I created in my head. I suppose that taught me a lot about being scared and how to scare people. The way I’ve started to see it as that horror writers are really exposed nerves. We should get a little scared by everything. Then it’s really down to us to figure out how best to use that to entertain and scare other people.

Something Needs Bleeding by Christopher Long
Something Needs Bleeding
by
Christopher Long

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
After reading James and The Giant Peach. I was at primary school and a friend of my parents gave me a copy of the book to read. Up until then I’d been so bored by the books my teachers kept foisting on me but Roald Dahl just reached in and switched my brain on. His way of taking the dull and every day and fabricating a dream world out of it was just something else to me. The fun and the frights and the sense of humour were all so captivating. It blew me away. I started to write my own stories not long after and then I found out you could actually write for a living. From the moment I heard that I didn’t understand why every adult I knew wasn’t writing books. To be honest, I still don’t.
Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?
Oh man, there are so many of them. Dahl, I think, we’ve covered. Neil Gaiman. M. R. James. Arthur C. Clarke. Mark Z. Danielewski. David Mitchell. Christopher Fowler. Terry Pratchett. Douglas Adams. P. G. Wodehouse. Magnus Mills.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some authors who are absolute giants to me but I think all authors and all stories should offer something up that can be considered or studied. Sometimes there’s nothing worse than reading a book or a short story and finding nothing I can take away from it. It makes me wonder how the writer felt whilst they were writing it. It’s as if you can sense their boredom with their own work. I dread ever being like that.
Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.
Well, for a long time, I just wrote for myself really. I rarely showed my work to anyone. I was stuck in this loop of wanting people to read my stories but also not wanting to hear that I was no good and that I should stop. I wrote a novel length story in the late 90s about a man who could heal the sick people but actually found he was the personification of Death. I was brave enough to let a few people take a look at and they seemed to like it well enough, although publishers didn’t.
After that I spent a long time trying to wrangle something together out of an old fantasy idea that was bugging me. Oddly, for all that time, I never thought about trying my hand at a ghost story. In the end that happened really rather quickly. An idea hit me about a reappearing figure seen on motorway bridges at night and I wrote the first draft in around a week. Something made me put that story, The Low Road, onto the Kindle and then I added another four over the next few months. Some of them seemed to write themselves. It was such a great feeling. One of them, The Final Restoration of Wendell Pruce, came from a nightmare I had. That story really showed me I could write a decent ghost story if I put my mind to it. It also taught me a lot about character, plot and a growing sense of doom.
Not long after that I was lucky enough to be signed with Kensington Gore Publishing. They re-released all those stories and asked for a brand new story to go with each of them. I ended up writing a set of seven interlinked novellas called The Righteous Judges, which was a real challenge but it sharpened my writing no end. I was doing one a month and trying to make sure the paths of the characters all intersected nicely without feeling forced. Then, once that was done, I had to turn my attention to writing a novel for KGP. Something Needs Bleeding was a hell of a test as well, but I like to think it really worked. It’s a story that tried to deal with the true horrors that can inspire a ghost story. So, on the surface, you have this final collection of a recently deceased horror author. Only there are all these linking themes and character names running through them which are all explained at the end, with an afterword written by the author himself. Hopefully that means, if you ever read it again, you should pick up on these clues and hidden meanings. I was really proud of that one.
How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?
I’m so excited to be working on a story for this anthology. When I started writing horror stories and looking online it didn’t take me long to stumble across Shadows at the Door. It struck me immediately as such a brilliant idea and they were doing great work. They still are. The stories they’re releasing on the website are all brilliant, blood chilling tales and I was honoured to be invited to write a couple of ghost stories for Christmas for them. Now, being able to put a story of mine into a book they’re releasing, is a real dream come true for me. From what I’ve seen of the other stories that going into this anthology, I think we are going to have something absolutely fantastic to release into the world. I can’t wait to see what people make of it. I’m quietly predicting great things for this collection.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
At the minute I’m working on a second novel. I did send a short story off to a competition to The Guardian ran which, sadly, didn’t win. It revolved around the idea of someone who may, or may not, be the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. At some point I want to clean that up and give it a try somewhere else. I also entered a story into a sci-fi competition they’re running in Glasgow. Again, if that misses the mark, I’ll probably try and do something with that. I had a huge amount of fun trying something in another genre. That said, it’s all systems go on the novel at the moment. It’s taken me a while to get something I’m happy with but it’s making progress now. All I can say is that, if nothing changes, it’ll look at how people cope after they survive the events of a very archetypal horror scenario. I want to try and explore what it means to have survived something like that. I want to see what would happen after the movie finishes or after you close the book. Just how would someone look at the normal, everyday world after they’ve seen what might be lurking behind it at any given moment? That really appeals to me.
 

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