Guest Post: Alistair Cross

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today, Alistair Cross has hi-jacked my blog.

Here’s a little info on the fiend who dared trespass here.


Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, reached the bestseller’s list in its first week of release. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

Top Ten Writing Lessons I’ve Learned in Ten Years

Though I’ve been writing all my life, it wasn’t until ten years ago that I got serious about it. And I didn’t want to be a hobby-writer, either. I wanted to be a real-life, full-time professional who spends his time writing, editing, marketing, and well … doing it all – because that’s what writers do these days.

The road was long and winding, but in 2012, I finally got published. Since then, I’ve written several novels with bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and am now completing my second solo novel, The Angel Alejandro, which will be out early in 2017, as well as several other collaborations and solo projects.

And Tamara and I didn’t stop there. We also began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, where we interview authors, paranormal investigators, forensics experts, and anyone else who likes frolicking in the darkness with us. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some amazing people, and in the decade since I plunged myself into the strange world of creative enterprise, I’ve learned some things about writers, readers, the craft, and the business.

Some of these lessons were learned first hand and some of them through the wisdom of others, but all of them have proved profoundly valuable to me. The list that follows comes from my experience in the writing world, and I hope some of it may be useful to other writers … and interesting for readers.

1. Reading is the single most important thing to do if you want to improve your craft. Read everything … and read it with an active eye, taking in plot devices, pacing, theme, voice, dialogue, and character development. Reading trains the unconscious mind to find its own writing rhythm and gives you an “ear” for storytelling. So read. Not a little, but a lot. As Stephen King famously says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

2. There’s no such thing as ‘just a writer’ anymore. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when publishers spent copious amounts of time and money getting the word out about your new book. You’re not just an author anymore. You’re also a marketer, a public relations specialist, a social media virtuoso, and a business manager, among other things. Make peace with that, keeping in mind that no one will work as hard for you as you will. They never have and they never will. So be accountable for your career.

3. The cream rises to the top. In an age of do-it-yourself digital delirium, everyone’s an author. It’s easy to look at the bottomless pit of other writers and wonder how the hell anyone is going to find your work. But look closer and you’ll see how many of those authors fall off the map, disenchanted when their dreams of instant fame and fortune are promptly torn to pieces. Not to mention the profusion of books out there that simply aren’t any good. Readers are smart people and they know the difference between a good story and a poor one. They don’t come back to authors who write bad books. Keep writing damned good books and, like the proverbial cream, you’ll rise to the top.

4. Have heroes. Learn from the best. Once you’ve established what kind of writer you want to be, keep a close eye on those authors who inspire you. Study their work, learn from them. Stalk them on Twitter. But don’t get too stalkery. No one likes a creepster.

5. Set goals. Whether it’s a page amount, a word amount, or a paragraph amount, set daily goals. Don’t settle for the “when I get around to it” approach to writing. No one ever “gets around to it.”


6. Know the difference between a hobby and a job. If you want writing to be your job, you have to treat it like a job or no one else will. That means you set hours. The phone is off. The door is shut. You’re not readily accessible. If you don’t spend your time wisely, other people will happily spend it for you, so unless writing is a mere pastime for you, don’t let other people spend your time.

7.   Go big or go home. Don’t think you can only write for small markets, or that a high-powered literary agent won’t be interested, or that a big-name author is going to look down his or her nose at you. Know your worth and aim for the stars.

8. Walk through every door that opens. And if you keep at it, people will open doors for you. But getting through the door is the easy part. It’s up to you to earn your place in the room.

9. Never read your reviews. For better or worse, reviews are necessary, but they’re designed with other readers in mind – not the author. If you’re looking for a critique, get it from your agent, your editor, your publisher, another author, or an objective friend … anywhere but from the reviews section of the book retailer. Reading reviews – whether they be glowing or insulting – isn’t really doing you any favors.

10. Trust your characters. Some writers will say that you must keep your characters on a short leash and remain in full command of them at all times lest they sully your painstakingly-plotted story with their whimsical meanderings. But here’s the thing: Those seemingly frivolous departures from your plans are where the characters come to life. And when the characters come to life, that’s when the magic happens. I say let your characters go where they want, let them say what they want … let them tell you their story. Let yourself be as delighted and surprised by them as your readers will be.


You can stalk Alistair at the following places:

★ Author’s website:

★ Author’s social media links:

Amazon Author Page:






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13 Questions with William Gorman

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today we have William Gorman in the interrogation seat.


William Gorman grew up listening to ghost stories and dark fantastical yarns from his grandfather—a magician and former ‘mentalist’ during the last great, fading days of vaudeville. He’s had short fiction published in Nightmares, Thin Ice, Severed Tales, The Midnight Shambler, Nightside, and The Rockford Review. His first book, a collection of local myths and legends titled GHOST WHISPERS, came out in 2005 and spawned the highly popular Haunted Rockford tours and cemetery walks now operating in his Illinois hometown. His first novel, BLACKWATER VAL, was published in April of 2016.

He now lives in the Ohio Valley with his Lady of the Manor, Suzanne, and their German shepherd Gabby, and is currently hard at work on his next novel and a new collection of macabre tales.

  1. What drives you to write? 

I think it’s one of those things that either chooses you or it doesn’t. You don’t choose it. Writing isn’t glamorous. There’s no money or fame in it, except for a select lucky few. It’s a frustrating, antisocial thing . . . so why do it? I guess it’s just a need to tell a particular story that’s building up inside, a compulsion to get it out, so it can carry on afterward. I have to channel these creative energies of mine and give them an outlet in some way. For me, it’s all about leaving something behind that will be remembered. Telling a good story.

  1. What attracted you to writing horror? 

The imagery of it: vengeful ghosts and crumbling graveyards, unspeakable deeds. The ‘danger’ potential. In dark fiction there’s always something lurking just out of the light, something dangerous and oft times supernatural. I love that kind of stuff. Always have. I love creating worlds like that. It’s a way to reject the mundane reality around me and replace it with my own, I suppose.

  1. Who are your favourite horror writers?

My mom gave me collections by Poe and August Derleth when I was really young, so they’re right up there. Robert Howard wrote some great horror stories, as did Algernon Blackwood. Ray Bradbury and Michael McDowell always raised some goosebumps. And Robert Bloch. Then, discovering Stephen King in my teenage years opened up all kinds of different doors for me.

  1. What horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

King’s early works, of course. Especially his so-called S books—’Salem’s Lot, The Shining, The Stand. I would say Herbert West and Charles Dexter Ward by Lovecraft, and The Elementals by Michael McDowell. Every summer I make a point to reread T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies; it’s such an atmospheric, dread-filled experience. Boy’s Life and Swan Song by Robert McCammon are amazing, as is Clive Barker’s Weaveworld . . . it continues to be the perfect blend of fantasy and stark staring horror, in my opinion. And naturally Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

  1. Ebooks or paperback?

Paperback all the way. Ever since I was a kid, carrying paperbacks around with me everywhere.

  1. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

The cover, foremost. If it has a killer cover that catches my eye, that’s a big plus—fortunately I had a great Ben Baldwin cover for my debut novel, Blackwater Val. An interesting title can do it also, something unique that grabs me. And subject matter that I’m really into. But the cover and title are the main things that hook me and reel me in, make me want to find out more. In the genres I enjoy, though, with some kind of supernatural element hopefully.


  1. Who is your favourite fictional character?

That’s a tough one. There are so many. I’d have to pick Sherlock Holmes, I guess. Such a complex, almost tragic character. A labyrinthine man. Not at all a gay character, as so many people mistakenly believe, but a brilliant sleuth whose mind happens to be so intellectually ‘above’ the idea of love or sexual lust that he never even considers actually ‘lowering’ himself to its levels. Fascinating character—married to his work, above all else.

  1. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

I like to start out with a rough outline, just a general idea of where it’s all going. Then I let it wander wherever it wants. Occasionally the story has to be drawn back on course, if things stray too far off the outline’s path, but mostly it does what it wants to.

  1. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

All the time. Absolutely. When you give them free rein, the characters will often surprise you. Take you in directions you never thought of. Great things can happen then, when both the writer and the reader are equally surprised.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

Most of the time I prefer silence, but sometimes I’ll listen to different things to help set a certain mood. Various movie soundtracks are good, depending on the atmosphere I’m looking for.

  1. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

My first book, Ghost Whispers, was a collection of local hauntings and spooky legends from my home town in Illinois. With that one, yes, there was a lot of research. Tramping through overgrown cemeteries, trying to find a particular headstone or epitaph. Sitting for hours if not days on end, tediously running down various leads and events in the Genealogy and History rooms of libraries. But with my novel it was minimal research, fun stuff like witchcraft, and fallen angels, snippets of foreign languages and customs. Most of the research was regarding the so-called Black Hawk War, the American Indian massacre of 1832.

  1. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. I’m not on Twitter yet. But then, I come from the old Myspace school of outdated social networks. It usually takes me a while to catch up with whatever’s trending.

13.  What really pisses you off about writing?

Losing so much time to the networking and self-promoting, time that could be spent actually writing. It’s the world we live in today, I understand that, but still. Also, this constant struggle to obtain reviews. You give out 30 or 40 free copies of your work to people, hard copy versions and electronic book versions, and you hear almost nothing back from them? I’m not talking about the paying public now, readers who purchase your book and are free to either review it or not review it as they so choose . . . hell, I’m guilty of that myself. But these are 30 or 40 individuals who expressly agree to read the books given to them gratis and to leave reviews on Amazon. Then you get maybe 3 or 4 reviews that trickle in over the next ten months, because the others can’t take two minutes and write the review they agreed to. I mean, what’s up with that? Seriously, let me go down to the bakery on the corner and stand around all day and eat 30 or 40 of their donuts, and afterward maybe I’ll pay up for 3 or 4 of them. Or instead I might just promise to stop a few strangers on my way home and maybe tell them about those delicious donuts at the corner bakery. Then I might not even do that. I know that’s not the best analogy, but you get the idea. Unbelievable! And now I’m hungry for donuts.


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To page or not to page

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

For a long time I debated whether or not to start my own author fan page on Facebook. There were many reasons why I thought the Facebook page was a bad idea. For one thing I thought it was pretty egotistical for me to have one. It’s not like I’m this world famous, best-selling, author with millions of fans. And then there was the fear aspect. Who would want to like my page? As I said, I’m not a world famous author with millions of fans. What if nobody hit that like button? What if I ended up looking like a complete idiot? And then there was the laziness aspect. I would have to do double the work. I already have a personal profile with the follow button switched on and I can decide who sees what on my profile page. I have over 2000 “friends” and a couple hundred followers. So why would I need a professional author page?

Well … because I’m a professional author, that’s why.

The Facebook pages come with certain handy functionality that you don’t have with a normal profile page. There’s the insights section that tells you in great detail what’s going on with your page with these nifty little graphs that allow you to track which posts work and which don’t. You can also track how similar pages are doing and compare what and how they’re doing with your own performance. What you do with that information is of course entirely up to you. You can use it strategically or not.

There are also the video and notes sections, which I’ve noticed many authors don’t utilise as much as they could. Not that I’m an expert, mind you. This is just an observation.

Once people are on Facebook they’re sometimes reluctant to click through to another site, so you can use the notes sections for excerpts from your books etc (that’s what I use it for any way). And the videos section can be used for book trailers, author readings, or whatever else you want to use. Remember, people are visual and they also want to see and hear their favourite authors. Most people have voyeuristic tendencies. I know I do. They want to have a glimpse into what authors do. A behind the scenes look. The videos section gives you that opportunity. Plus you have control of what you share with your audience.

Another button that I’ve noticed some authors not using is the call to action at the top of the page. You can decide whether your fans can subscribe to your newsletter or go through to a page where they can buy your books. The subscribe button seems to be the favourite one amongst many authors. I personally use it to send fans to my Amazon author page where they can shop for my books. It’s entirely up to you where you want them to go. But I’ve noticed that some authors haven’t set it up, which I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of something that useful?

If you want to see who’s doing their Author Page right, have a look at Author Rachel Morgan’s page. That woman knows what she’s doing.

The other rather handy thing with having an author page is that I get to spam it with all the stuff about my books and my writing to my heart’s content and nobody can give me shit about it because that’s exactly why it’s there and why people have hit that like button. They’ve hit it because they want to know about my books and my writing. Facebook also apparently objects to you using your profile page like a business thing. That being said you also have to strike a balance between interacting with your audience and spamming them day and night with stuff about your book. Once they’ve hot the like button you don’t want them to hit the unlike button. So once again the rule of “Don’t be a douche” applies.

Which brings me to another point. Writing is a business! We as authors whether we have a publisher or are going it alone have to approach our writing as a business. I don’t know about you, but I would like to earn enough money from my writing to be able to pay my bills. And having an author page allows me to conduct business. I can now advertise and reach an audience that I couldn’t do with my normal profile. Does it cost money? Yes. But as I said this is a business and sometimes you have to put a little cash in to get a lot of money back. You also get to decide on what your budget is for advertising and what you want to advertise on Facebook. You can advertise your page, or your website, or boost any of your posts, but you have to design them according to Facebooks specs. This is something I’m still figuring out how to do.

The fact is that as an author I have to use all promotional and advertising tools I have at my disposal in order to reach a wider audience. My Facebook page allows me to do this. It also lets me engage with that audience on a more personal level about my books and not just about coffee and cats without feeling guilty for sharing stuff about my books.

So … are you an author? Have you set up an author page? Or are you a reader? Have you liked your favourite author’s page? Have you liked mine yet? If not please go and do so here:


Remember to hit that subscribe button to keep up with all the news, reviews, and interviews. And feel free to leave a comment or three. It’s always nice to hear from you guys.

13 Questions with Ray Garton

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today I have the incredible Ray Garton in the interrogation seat. He’s a very brave man.

Ray Garton Author Photo

Ray Garton is the author of the classic vampire bestseller Live Girls, as well as Scissors, Sex and Violence in Hollywood, Ravenous, his new Moffet & Keoph investigation Vortex, and dozens of other novels, tie-ins, and story collections.  He has been writing in the horror and suspense genres for more than 30 years and was the recipient of the Grand Master of Horror Award in 2006.  He lives in northern California with his wife Dawn where he is at work on a new novel.

You can stalk Ray on his website:

  1. What drives you to write?

I’m afraid if I figured out exactly what that is, it would vanish like a phantom.

  1. What attracted you to writing horror?

Nothing attracted me to writing horror, I just found that when I wrote, that’s what came out.  Even before I was able to write, I would draw stories in panels, and they were almost always dark and even violent.  I found that no matter what I tried to write, it turned out that way.  I could write a love story, but it was a dark love story that didn’t end well.  I could write something funny, but it would be funny in a dark, disturbing way.  It wasn’t that I was attracted to writing horror, I sort of wrote it naturally, and that was the only genre where I fit.  Fortunately for me, I happened to come along when the big horror explosion of the ‘70s and ‘80s was at its height.

  1. Who are your favourite horror writers?

There are so many.  The list of horror writers who have influenced me and continue to teach me how to write horror is a long one, but I’ll give you some names.  Richard Matheson, Thomas Tessier, Shirley Jackson,  Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Richard Laymon, Robert Bloch, T.M. Wright,  Mary Shelley, Peter Straub, Angela Carter, William F. Nolan, Clive Barker, Nicole Cushing, Jason Brock, Michael McDowell, Robert McCammon, Rod Serling, Jonathan Maberry, James A. Moore,  — it’s endless.   Then there are writers who don’t work in the horror genre but have written books that have had the same impact on me as a great horror novel, like Joseph Heller’s Something Happened, William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini, William Goldman’s Marathon Man and Magic.  Those are only people who write horror or have somehow struck me in a horrific way.  That doesn’t include all the other writers who’ve helped and continue to help shape me as a writer and feed my imagination.  And as soon as I submit this, I’ll think of other names I should have mentioned.  I hate questions like this.

  1. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

The novels that made me realize fairly early on that horror should be about people first, and that once you had learned that there really were no limits to what you could do were Stephen King’s Carrie and The Shining, Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, and Richard Laymon’s The Cellar.

  1. Ebooks or paperback?

I can’t smell an ebook.

  1. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

Anything that captures my attention and imagination — title, cover,  jacket copy, something I’ve heard about that author, anything at all.

  1. Who is your favourite fictional character?

At the moment, it’s Donald Trump.  As far as literary characters, I have many, but the first to spring to mind is T.S. Garp in John Irving’s The World According to Garp.  He’s a flawed man who’s extremely curious about everything, talented, so human.  I love the arc of his life in that book.

  1. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

I’m a lousy plotter.  If I outline a whole book, I lose interest in it because it feels like I’ve already written it and I know what happens.  I prefer to start with an idea or a character or both and let the story unfold as I write it.

  1. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

Oh, god, yes.  They’ve changed the entire direction of novels.  Once they’re up and running, I’m pretty much just following them to see where they go.  If they run into a wall, I backtrack and start over from a certain point.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

Sometimes I have music playing, sometimes I’ll run an old familiar movie that I love as background noise or to set a mood, something I know well enough so that I’m not distracted by it, something that might set a mood in much the same way music does.  I never used to be able to work in silence, but I often do these days.

  1. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

I do as much as the story requires.  Sometimes that’s a lot just to get comfortable with an unfamiliar subject so I can write about like I know what I’m talking about.  Even if I don’t.

  1. Facebook or Twitter?

My preferred personal information gathering center and tracking device is Facebook.

Vortex Cover

  1. What really pisses you off about writing? 

Don’t get me started.  You’re trying to get me started, aren’t you?

Something that pisses me off about writing are the wrong-headed ideas about writers and writing held by so many non-writers.  It’s not work, for example.  It’s not a craft.  I’ve met plenty of people with that attitude.  People who know me well enough to know better still ask, after being apart for some time, “Are you still writing?”  I’ve been writing full time for over thirty years and people still ask me that question.  It’s asked in the same way one might ask, “Are you still collecting stamps?”  Or, “Do you still golf?”  They’re not asking about a profession, because nobody asks, “Are you still a veterinarian?”  Or, “Do you still build buildings?”  Writing is that little thing you do that’s kind of odd.

Sometimes it’s not people outside the writing business who hold wrong-headed ideas about writers.  For example, here’s a tip: Never ask a professional writer to write for free (with the exception, of course, of charitable anthologies).  Just don’t.  What makes the writer a professional is the fact that he or she gets paid for his or her work.  The right word for this job is “amateur,” someone who is not a professional.  Someone who has exchanged writing for money.  It’s also someone who may not be very good at writing, and definitely someone nobody’s ever heard of.  Because you get what you pay for.

Another one, but this one is kind of weird.  I’m shy.  I always have been.  This surprises a lot of people because once I’m comfortable with you, it goes away and is usually quickly forgotten.  But in new situations around people I don’t know, I’m terribly shy.  Drinking used to be a quick and reliable remedy, but I don’t do that anymore and haven’t for a long time.  There was a time in my life when it was seen as nothing more than what it was: shyness.  But since I became a published writer, it suddenly became a stuck-up attitude, a sense of superiority.  It’s the same thing it has always been, it’s still exhibited in the same way, but because I’m a novelist, for some people it becomes something completely different and suddenly I’m an egotistical prick.  He’s too good for us is the conclusion often reached.  Once I discovered this, I was horrified.

I’ve worked hard on overcoming my shyness and I manage to hide it better than I used to (although I still maintain that it’s much easier after a few cocktails), but it’s still there.  I find it very difficult to approach people I don’t know and I’m often tongue-tied in social situations with strangers, but it’s better than it used to be.  It has NOTHING to do with what I do and it doesn’t mean I think I’m better than everyone else because I’m a novelist, which is so opposite who I am that it’s funny.  I’ve met writers and people of any profession, all professions, who think they’re better than others and I don’t like them.  If I had my way, I’d never talk about my work except for professional reasons, but what am I going to say when someone asks what I do for a living?  “I prefer not to disclose that information.”  People would either think I was a government spook or a lunatic  I know, I know—First World problems, but annoying nonetheless.

You can’t possibly have enough space for me to go on.  I will complain endlessly about minutiae if allowed.  I’m like a gentile Larry David but without the genius.  If we were having this conversation in person, my wife would be standing behind me waving her arms at you and frantically shaking her head.


Vortex is on my TBR pile. Have you read any of Ray’s books? Oh! And I would suggest stalking him on Facebook and Twitter. He is probably one of the most amusing authors on social media, especially if you have a twisted sense of humour like me.

Remember to hit that subscribe button to keep up with all the news, reviews, and interviews. And feel free to leave a comment or three. It’s always nice to hear from you guys.

Guest Post: Nerine Dorman

Hello my Freaky Darlings,
DSC_6857-EditToday we have fellow South African author, Nerine Dorman, hijacking my blog …
As always, a huge thank you to the wonderful Joan for inviting me over. I have plenty to share on both the writing and editing fronts.
First, a little something for those of you who are aspiring and upcoming authors of horror and dark fantasy here in South Africa (and abroad). Entries for this year’s South African HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition are open until October 31. First prize is a comprehensive assessment and round of edits for your novel-length work which, as some of you may know, is worth quite a few clams. Find out here [] and if you’re looking for an idea of what sort of stories we run, feel free to purchase a copy of one of the past issues.
As author, I’ve had four releases this year, which should offer a little something to suit most readers.
The Guardian’s Wyrd may be aimed at teens, but if you’re like me, you’ll not be too fazed in your reading tastes when it comes to intended ages. If TGW print low resyou’re a fan of Harry Potter, then there’s a fair chance you’ll take a shine to Jay September when he travels to the magical realm of Sunthyst to rescue a prince.
For those of you who hanker after Anne Rice’s type of vampires, I can offer Dawn’s Bright Talons, a dark fantasy novel that pits vampires against the resurgence of an ancient foe.
“Nerine Dorman’s bright clear prose is at the forefront of modern fantasy” – Storm Constantine
Dawn’s Bright Talons is available as an ebook []
Over the past few years, a number of my short stories have slipped between the cracks, and I can only thank my last braincell that I thought to collect many of these tales that aren’t currently available in anthologies. Lost Children is the result, and here you’ll find a cross section of my work, ranging from fantasy to horror.
Last but not least, for those of you who like their fantasy fiction a little more risqué, I have a new short(ish) story entitled The Salamander Lord. It’s available as a 99c download and I envision these to be part of a bigger project in the long run. But, be warned, this story is *very* saucy.
This is by no means all I have written and, if you’re curious about my older, existing works, feel free to swing past my Goodreads page [].
Just a word, for those of you who might be wondering why Inkarna isn’t currently available. I’ve taken the novel off the market so that I can spruce it up in anticipation of its re-release when I launch book two, Thanatos. I’d like to make sure that the world’s worst typo that somehow slipped through in book one is expunged, and that the entire story has continuity from book one to two.
I’m also currently revising two of my older novelas, The Namaqualand Book of the Dead and What Sweet Music They Make, which will be released together as a duology entitled In Southern Darkness.
More than that, I won’t terrify you with, but if you’re of a mind, feel free to stalk me on Twitter [], like my Facebook page [] or sign up for my newsletter [].
South African readers can purchase a few of my titles in print over at Mega Books []


Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Monique3Monique Snyman has hi-jacked my blog today. Monique lives in Pretoria, South Africa with an adorable Chihuahua that keeps her company and a bloodthirsty lawyer who keeps her sane. She is a full-time author, part-time editor and in-between reviewer of all things entertaining. Her short fiction has been published in a number of small press anthologies, and she’s working hard on a couple of novels in her spare time.

Selective Megalomania is not a recognised psychological disorder yet. That might change after you’ve read the following post …

I propose the next definition for selective megalomania:

Selective Megalomania:

/sɪˈlɛktɪv/ /ˌmɛg(ə)lə(ʊ)ˈmeɪnɪə/
obsession with the exercise of power from time to time.
synonyms: writers, authors, wordsmith, man/woman of letters, penman.

I like to think that the majority of writers are selective megalomaniacs. Not only do most of us have delusions of grandeur when it comes to our books, but more often than not, we have this incredible urge to play God when we write. We build fictitious worlds from scratch just to destroy them again. We make readers fall in love with characters and then kill them off simply because we can. A wonderful example of selective megalomania is George R.R. Martin. As everyone knows, the man has a tendency to kill off his characters left, right and centre. Nobody’s safe. It’s his prerogative though, those are his books, so why the hell not? Yet, Martin doesn’t show any signs of wanting to play God in real life (that I’ve noticed). It’s like he gets all of those urges out of his head by writing them down and then he’s right as rain again.
That’s selective megalomania, but George R.R. Martin is not the only one that suffers from this so-unreal-it-has-to-be-real disorder. Every writer, big or small, likes to be in control of their own little world and death be upon those who think otherwise.
You see, we live in transparent bubbles and we get irritated when it’s time to seem ‘normal’ by entering ‘normal society’. This is mostly because we can’t control what happens next. We try our best to ‘blend’ and we try to hide our true nature from friends and relatives, but sometimes faking it doesn’t work either. No matter how good we are at reading the cues to smile, nod, feint excitement or sadness or mimic emotion in general, sometimes we slip up and show that selective megalomaniac living inside us.
I’ve noticed that when I accidentally say something off-cue, I immediately think: ‘control, alt, delete’ or ‘backspace, backspace, backspace’ or ‘undo, bitch! UNDO’, depending on how big the oopsie was.
And if you’re anything like me, you might even observe these chance encounters with the outside world as an opportunity to, for entertainment’s sake, transcribe every movement of each so-called character (a.k.a friend) into a bookish form in your mind. After all, we understand books much better than we do humans.
That being said, writers in groups fair well from an anthropological point of view. You see, we are drawn to one another, and from the outside we look like an almost functioning group of ‘normals’. We’re not; we just understand how each other’s minds work, and we embrace each other for being wacky unsociable creatures with bad habits, disturbing thoughts and being able to ruin people’s CharmingIncantationsSanguinelives with our stories.
Of course, we’re not all bad all the time, but as writers we need to be selective megalomaniacs to keep you on the edge of your seat with our tales. It’s in the job description that nobody’s bothered writing up yet …

About Charming Incantations: Sanguine:
After the Goblin Lord’s identity was revealed, Lisa didn’t think her life could get any worse.
She was wrong.
Not only does she have to deal with Goblins, but now a civil war threatens to tear the vampire race apart, endangering humanity, and the efforts of The Alliance.
To add insult to injury, there’s a traitor in their midst.
Will Lisa ever catch a break, or is she doomed to live her life as a prisoner of her own bloodline?


13 Questions with Lou Morgan

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

copyright Rhian Bowley

copyright Rhian Bowley

Today we interrogate Lou Morgan. Lou’s first novel, “Blood and Feathers” was published by Solaris Books in 2012, and was shortlisted for both British Fantasy Awards for Best Newcomer and Best Fantasy Novel. The sequel, “Blood and Feathers: Rebellion” was released in the summer of 2013. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Solaris, Jurassic Press and PS Publishing.

1. What drives you to write?

I like telling stories – I need to tell them, I suppose. I think it’s pretty much the same for anyone who writes, whether they’re doing it as a hobby or as a job. I like the “what if?” and the “why?” and the “if only…” and I never quite manage to switch them off.

Plus I was an only child growing up in a big old house. I think I just got into the habit of imagining people.

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

Most writers are, I guess, interested in people – and horror is a genre that allows us as readers and writers to examine people at both their best and their worst. Horror can be cathartic and thought-provoking… and often both together. Like most of the speculative subgenres, it’s at its best when it’s used to tip the world slightly sideways and show us something new about something familiar. More flippantly, I guess you could say that for someone like me, who’s scared of just about everything, it’s nice to be the one pulling the strings…

3. Who are your favourite horror writers?

I tend to pick and mix horror: my favourite short story is one of Robert Bloch’s, which I read in a children’s horror anthology when I was incredibly young. I also remember reading some really unsettling stories for children by Philippa Pearce – so while she’s not necessarily an author you would think of in that context, she was a huge part of my introduction to horror.

Lovecraft was another one I read very early on, and while he and his work come with a variety of complicated problems, you can’t deny his influence. I’m always a sucker (sorry) for a good vampire story, although I’m probably more at the Stoker than the Rice end of the spectrum!

It goes without saying that Stephen King’s name is right up there, as is Joe Hill’s: “Heart Shaped Box” was the first thing of his I read and it blew me away. A few of Michael Marshall Smith’s darker short stories are burned into the back of my skull and still bother me (in a good way). There’s also some absolutely brilliant teen horror around that I’ve loved – notably Will Hill’s “Department 19” series and Kendare Blake’s “Anna Dressed In Blood”. I grew up on the old Point Horror books, so it’s great to see properly scary teen fiction doing well.

4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

Oh, I’m not sure that you can prescribe horror. What scares me might fall flat for you: it’s a very personal genre. I have to admit, until Lou Morgan - Blood And Feathersrecently I hadn’t read “The Shining”. I don’t know why – it had just sort of fallen through the gaps. If there was one book I’d recommend to anyone who loves horror, that would be the one. I was doing some research a few weeks ago and decided to re-read the chapter that had really genuinely scared me – the topiary animals – on its own. My theory was that in isolation and without the atmospheric build-up, it couldn’t possibly be as frightening.

I made it three pages in before I had to go round the house turning all the lights on. And the radio – just for good measure.

5. Ebooks or paperback?

Given the choice, always a paperback. I’m hugely in the “books as objects” camp, I think, as even though I’ve got a Kindle, I don’t find myself using it very often. Seeing a percentage scrore isn’t quite as satisfying as watching the pages go by in a really solid book – and I love the times you pick up a book to reread it and find a relic of the last time you had it down from the shelf: a train ticket or a receipt tucked between the pages. It somehow feels so much more like you’re connected to the book, to the story and even to your own history.

6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

It could be that I like the idea, it could be that I like the cover. Most often, it’s a recommendation by a friend whose taste I know overlaps with mine. Every now and again I’ll wander round a bookshop and randomly pick books off shelves, and then read the first page or two: I found a fantastic Italian noir in translation that way. It was completely outside my comfort zone and brutal as all hell, but I was totally gripped by it. (It was “At the End of A Dull Day”, by Massimo Carlotto, incidentally.) I am, however, a perverse creature and a huge amount of hype will see me digging my heels in and refusing to read a book!

7. Who is your favourite fictional character?

I’m a big fan of the slightly damaged, grouchy but noble Hero-With-A-Past. Sooner or later, it always comes back to Athos from “The Three Musketeers”.

8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

It’s a combination of the two. I need some kind of guideline, or I start wandering all over the place and then get flustered because I’m lost… but conversely, having to plan things out in too much detail sucks the life out of a story for me. I think everyone’s process is slightly different: I know people who plot in intricate detail and I know people who throw themselves headlong at a project – and both of those work just as well. It all depends on the individual, I guess!

9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

Sometimes – and it’s nice when that happens as it’s usually a good sign you’ve invested in the character enough to give them an inner life. Not that it doesn’t come with challenges of its own…

10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

I’m a big believer in playlists for novels (they start out usually being about thirty songs long and eventually get trimmed down: the playlists I wrote the “Blood and Feathers” books to are printed in the back of each book). I don’t tend to actually hear the music after the first forty or so listens, but it helps get my mind back into the right sort of place. For a short story, it’s usually just one song. In one case, it was one particular song over a hundred times in a row… that hurt by the time I was done.

11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

rebellion-final-coverI do, funnily enough. Even if they’re not really the kind of thing that feels like it needs research, I like to have a poke around and see what I can come up with. It may well not end up on the page but it’s good to know it’s there – and sometimes it becomes part of an Easter-egg in the story. I did a lot of research on angels before I started “Blood and Feathers”, while “Her Heartbeat, An Echo”, the Egyptian mummy story I wrote for Jurassic’s “Book of the Dead” took quite a lot of thinking about the process of mummification and the way museums run major visiting exhibitions.

The most-researched story I’ve ever written was one about serial killers, which has yet to see the light of day. I spent a very long time filling a whole notebook with some very interesting (and when I say “interesting”, you can read that as “frightening”) people. But the kind of research I like best is the accidental stuff: the things you stumble on and store away because you just know that one day they’ll be useful.

12. Facebook or Twitter?

I love Twitter, but I’ve definitely tried to spend less time on there lately. I like it because it’s a virtual watercooler and a good place to hang out and chat or to keep up with the world in general, but it can be a very noisy place too!

13. What really pisses you off about writing?

How unpredictable it is. One day, words fly from your fingers like falling stars. You could write a short story in a day or two; finish a novel in a month… anything is possible because you are a genius! All the words are yours!

And then the next day, they’re not – and you spend four hours typing and deleting precisely twenty-four words over and over and over again. The same twenty-four words. For six hours. And then you give up and go and stare out of the window and hate everyone who’s ever finished a book, short story or – frankly – a shopping list.

Not that I have any experience of this, you understand. Not that I’m bitter or anything…

You can find Lou on her site and get a copy of Blood and Feathers and Blood and Feathers: Rebellion from Amazon. You can also stalk Lou on twitter.