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.

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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.”

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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.

alejandro-promo

You can stalk Alistair at the following places:

★ Author’s website: http://www.alistaircross.com/

★ Author’s social media links:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Alistair-Cross/e/B00N446AZS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6517308.Alistair_Cross

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crossalistair

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CrossAlistair

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/alistaircross/

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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: Writers are Whores

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today I have Angel Leigh McCoy on my blog. She’s an incredible writer and one of the few who has managed to make me truly uncomfortable and creeped out, but at the same time make me go wow, that’s so beautifully written.

Writers are Whores
By Angel Leigh McCoy
AngelMcCoy500wI’ll say it again. Writers are whores. I say it with love, so don’t take offense. Besides, you know the analogy fits. We do whatever we can to get attention and to build a gaggle of readers who follow us everywhere. Trouble is, with the freedom of self-publishing comes a hoard of horny writer wannabes giving it away for free, who attract attention away from the serious, hard-working writers.
Let me tell you a story. About seven years go, this was becoming an obvious problem—obvious to me, at least. That’s when I realized that there weren’t enough markets out there to support serious speculative fiction writers caught in a flood of one-shot-wonders.
Good writers were/are getting swallowed whole by the noise and pollution in the publishing industry.
Six years ago, I started WilyWriters.com as an added way for good writers, young and old, to share their stories. My guest editors, voice actors, and I did it as a labor of love. I gave away the stories for free to help writers build an audience and gain added name recognition. Over the course of those six years, we published over 90 short stories by both established and new writers.
In truth, I came away the richer for it, because I met so many nice people, felt such a sense of accomplishment, and had fun making it. I learned a lot. I didn’t mind doing the work, but I realized I was giving away my retirement as well! I simply couldn’t justify paying out thousands of dollars every year to make this ‘zine. It had to start paying for itself.
At first, I thought I’d try charging for the stories with a private membership system. But, I made the mistake of also offering to have one of the stories each month chosen from the list of private members. It didn’t occur to me when I did this that it was in any way unethical (it was the same as charging a fee for publication). I simply hadn’t seen it that way.
It did, however, occur to many others. And they were quick to tell me so. As soon as I understood my mistake, I abandoned that plan. And some friends stepped forward to give me a good dose of helpful feedback on the site.
It was an intervention of sorts. Through their gentle and kind-hearted feedback (thanks, guys, you know who you are), I came to realize that if WilyWriters.com was going to get to the stage where it could pay for itself, I had to raise the quality bar on it.
I’d been doing everything myself, including the art, web design, editing, layout, audio editing, and sometimes even audio recording. (It’s been hard to admit to myself that I’ll never be an artist, but I finally had no other choice.)
After much thought, I decided the project needed a complete make-over. It needed it to put on its big-girl pants.
I focused the theme to Horror rather than the more general speculative fiction, because that’s where my interests lie most strongly. And I gave it a Twilight Zone mood, because I have such a nostalgic love for the kind of stories they told on that show. It’s the kind of story and the topic I’d like to read about.
I can’t guarantee that all the stories we publish will perfectly match the cautionary tale stylings of the Twilight Zone stories, but we’ll do our best. In the future, I expect to see more great stories in the slush pile that meet our requirements.
I hired a pair of real artists (Kimberly Michael and Alicia VanNoy Call) to do the layout and illustration respectively, and I got two people whose minds fit the Twilight Zone genre better than anyone’s I know of to choose stories from the slush pile: S.P. Miskowski and Cory Herndon, both established writers and meta thinkers. I hired tried-and-true line/copy editors (Bridget and Marti McKenna) to polish the stories with me.
I scouted around for article writers and found reviewers with the right interests and voice for the ‘zine. And I opened for fiction submissions. Our first issue attracted more than three hundred submissions, and our second issue matched the first.
We put together a mini preview issue #0 to test everything out, and that’s what you can download on our Kickstarter page.
The theme is still coming into focus, but Issue #1 will be full of great content that does homage to the California SciFi/Horror writers of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and that also evolves Horror in this new millennium.
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In Issue #1, you’ll have the following:
At least 12 short Horror stories to keep you up at night, including “In the House of the Hangman” by Gary A. Braunbeck.
S.T. Joshi’s insightful and intellectual commentary on one of the Twilight Zone episodes, comparing it to the original short story. He’s the author who wrote a chapter on Serling entitled “The Moral Supernatural” in his book THE EVOLUTION OF THE WEIRD TALE.
An introduction by Tony Albarella, recognized Serling expert and editor of the official collection of Serling Twilight Zone scripts.
A review of season one of BLACK MIRROR, the British television show that has been receiving acclaim for being a modern version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
An article on one of Serling’s peers on the show, “Selling Daydreams: The Life and Work of George Clayton Johnson” by David Afsharirad, who is the editor of the anthology THE YEAR’S BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION AND SPACE OPERA.
An article by one of Britain’s most well-known paranormal researchers, Billy Roberts.
And much more!
We’re building something, and you’re invited to join us from the very beginning to help us structure it into something truly amazing. If any of this interests you, please share our link and go pledge right now. We’re running out of time.
We’re developing a community around this magazine. It’s not just a product to me nor to the writers and contributors, and I hope it won’t be to you either.
ANGEL’S BIO:
Angel Leigh McCoy writes Horror, Fantasy, and Romance fiction, produces AnotherDimension magazine, edits anthologies, makes indie games, and is the Horror Writers Association’s bumbling webmaster. She’s a 22-year games industry veteran, employed as a narrative designer at ArenaNet where she spins the yarn of Guild Wars 2. More at AngelMcCoy.com.

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 [http://bloodyparchment.blogspot.com/2014/08/bloody-parchment-2014-is-officially-open.html] 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 [http://www.amazon.com/Dawns-Bright-Talons-Nerine-Dorman-ebook/dp/B00LI48Q2Q]
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 [https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3256274.Nerine_Dorman].
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 [https://twitter.com/nerinedorman], like my Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerine-Dorman-author/173330419365374] or sign up for my newsletter [http://eepurl.com/JoPUv].
South African readers can purchase a few of my titles in print over at Mega Books [http://megabooks.co.za/shop/brand/nerine-dorman/]

SELECTIVE MEGALOMANIA: A WRITER’S PREROGATIVE

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/
noun
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?

 

Guest Post: Alasdair Stuart

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Headshot-AlasdairToday we have a guest post by fellow Fox Spirit author, Alasdair Stuart. Alasdair is a freelance writer and journalist based in the UK. He writes genre fiction journalism for them, hosts podcasts for EA and blogs about making whoopee pies (Amongst other things) at www.alasdairstuart.com. He can be found on twitter at @AlasdairStuart.

Here’s what Mr. Stuart has to say:

I used to be a comic retailer. Not a seller of comedians, those are called agents and they get 10%. I got staff discount (WAY more than 10 percent! In your FACE, Ari from Entourage!) and a free education in contemporary western comics. It was a good deal, and it taught me three things;

1-The comics industry is always about to end. Seriously. I read message boards (And don’t they just sound quaint now?) at the time which posted a weekly summation of Marvel’s stock price. It was always falling. So was the sky. Both of them in fact were falling when I left the job. The store’s still there. So’s the comic industry. The sky? Well that’s debatable.

2-It is entirely possible to have a conversation with someone without ever actually doing anything other than monosyllabically acknowledging that you haven’t died. This is why I once spent an afternoon tidying the store whilst a gentleman spent three hours cheerfully explaining that Superman was a bit like Jesus.

3-Everything is always someone’s first issue.

That last one is both the most important and bares some explanation. Comics are an eternal bus route, there will always be another issue along in a month. Many of them assume basic knowledge of the characters involved, many more assume intricate knowledge. This is a bad thing. It means the comic corrals an audience in place, constantly playing to the same beats, the same crowd, the same audience secure only in the knowledge they will dwindle and fade. For some this is a good thing, after all nothing sells like an issue 1 relaunch of an old title. For others it’s the last stop on the way to cancellation.

The best titles are the ones that don’t do this. There are a bunch of ways to avoid it; run a series of mini-series like Hellboy or run a mini-series as a pilot episode for an ongoing like Haunted. Thief of Thieves has a particularly smart way of keeping things fresh where each storyline functions as an ‘episode’ and features a new writer each time, all of whom work from a pre-written story bible. All these techniques keep the book sharp and fun and accessable. All these techniques also ensure that every issue is either a first issue or gives you enough information to treat it like one. At the absolute worst, books structured like this may not let you jump on straight away but will let you know when you can. Accessibility is the key to an audience and an audience is the key to you getting to finish your story. The lesson, for me, was simple; always make sure what you do is accessible. Never assume knowledge of either internal detail or actual project.

That brings me to Escape Artists because it strikes me there’s no guarantee you’ve actually heard of them. Not the type of magician (One of the guys in my troupe did escape artistry. Until the night where he got a boy scout on stage to tie the knots in a sack escape. Then he did card tricks for a while.) but the company. Escape Artists Incorporated produces three podcasts;

-Escape Pod (www.escapepod.org) is a science fiction podcast. Every week it runs an SF story, normally round 30-45 minutes long. Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein have all made appearances but the show’s lifeblood is new authors like Aliette de Bodard, Alex Wilson and Ken Liu.

-Pseudopod (www.pseudopod.org) is a horror fiction podcast. It tends to run a little longer, at 30-55 minutes. Again, the greats have all hit Pseudopod Filesthere including Thomas Ligotti (Due on episode 350), Christine Brooke-Rose and Rudyard Kipling. Again though, the show focuses on new authors like Vylar Kaftan and David Tallerman.

-Podcastle (www.podcastle.org) is a fantasy fiction podcast. Podcastle’s length range is huge. They’ve run flash one week and a Podcastle Giant (Over an hour) the next. They, again, have done the classics like Robert E.Howard and, again, specialize in new authors like Lavie Tidhar, Wendy Wagner and Zen Cho.

Every single episode is free. Every single one. Every single author, despite this, is paid (Well aside from Kipling. We’ve emailed and emailed but he’s just not sending us his PayPal details…). We do this because we rely entirely on donations to cover every single one of our costs and, and this is the kicker, we release everything under a Creative Commons license. Every file is always free to download and distribute yourself, as long as you make sure the original author is always credited and you don’t try and sell it or pass it off as your own work.

I say we because I’ve hosted Pseudopod for six years and I’m seven months into co-hosting Escape Pod. It’s my favourite ever job and, like I say, I used to run a comic shop and be paid to read and tell other people how great what I’d just read was. On the podcasts I get to do something similar, talking about the stories, what they meant to me and what they evoked. I get, literally, to sit in front of a microphone and talk and, as you can tell by this article, I do like to talk.

Even better, I get to do what two of my role-models did. Growing up, I was very fond of two TV shows; Midnight Caller and Northern Exposure. The first featured Gary Cole, King of the Character Actors, as Jack Killian an ex-cop turned latenight talk show host. The second featured John Corbett as Chris Stevens, the DJ in a small Alaskan town filled with glorious eccentricities and a near continuous awareness of the fourth wall. Those two shows, and those two characters, got me through some very rough patches. I learnt that if I was articulate and open and interested in everything then I could communicate that interest to others and, sometimes, make their lives better.

I could, in other words, be someone’s first issue-style window into a story I loved.

Plus I totally pretend to solve crimes and build trebuchets. Or, in this case, to point you at close to a 1000 wonderful stories you may have missed, all available for free. Even better, if you’re an author? Submit. All three podcasts pay. Check the submissions guideline pages below for details:

Escape Pod: http://escapepod.org/guidelines/

Pseudopod: http://pseudopod.org/guidelines/

Podcastle: http://podcastle.org/guidelines/

Nearly a thousand stories, each free, from some of the best authors in the history of their respective genres. As first issues go, you don’t get much better than that.

AUTHOR WEBSITES

Aliette de Bodard – http://aliettedebodard.com/

Ken Liu – http://kenliu.name/

Alex Wilson – http://alexwilson.com/writer/

David Tallerman – http://davidtallerman.net/

Vylar Kaftan – http://www.vylarkaftan.net./

Wendy N. Wagner – http://winniewoohoo.com/

Lavie Tidhar – http://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/

Zen Cho – http://zencho.org/

You can get your copy of The Pseudopod Tapes from Amazon!

Nerine Dorman: Karoo myth and magic

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Halloween 2012Nerine Dorman is no stranger to my blog and if you haven’t read at least one of her books, you really should go get one right now … okay wait until you’ve read what she has to say about her new book – Camdeboo Nights and then go get one or two of her books.

Nerine is also going to give away an ecopy of Camdeboo Nights to one lucky reader who can tell me what sort of car Trystan drives? Leave your answer in the comments section and Nerine will email it to the winner!

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Trystan peering through the broken slat in the window blinds was the very first kernel of an idea I had when I started writing Camdeboo Nights. I had this vision of a young man of perhaps seventeen or eighteen caught forever on the cusp of adulthood. Like his home which was slowly falling down around his ears, he was dusty and tattered at the edges. His only pride and joy was the 1948 Hudson Commodore called Rose he’d kept in pristine condition for all these years.

But the novel started life as a piece of flash fiction I sold to a now-defunct online zine, and ties in with the story of the Uniondale phantom hitchhiker. Here’s the bit that I love the most from that encounter…

And here’s an excerpt:

His passenger started laughing as well, but it was not the pleasant sort of sound he’d expect from a young woman. That tone conveyed a more than healthy current of disdain.

He glanced in her direction the instant the passenger door swung open. The woman was gone. Shock washed through him even as he slammed his foot down hard on the brake. Rose slewed across the road. He did not pause to consider how lucky he was that there had been no oncoming car or truck. He’d worry about the loud banging of rocks beneath the car later.

Stopping was more important.

A scream ripped from his lips, jagged fear locking him in position. Trystan could not remember having felt this way for a very long time.

Rose cut out with a shudder. Silence reigned, so heavy he could hear the ringing in his ears punctuated by the soft tick-ticking of Rose’s cooling engine. Moonlight cast everything in a bluish hue. The stink of hot rubber made him gag.

He wasn’t dead. He wasn’t alive, either. Camdeboo Nights

He sat still. Some long-buried reflex caused him to draw breath he didn’t need before he expelled a sigh. Far, in the distance, an owl hooted a lonely call, and the distinct scent of apple blossoms filled the car’s interior.

Trystan got out and walked back to the first skid marks where the car had over-steered, checking for blood, for a body, at the very least. Nothing. With shivers rippling through his flesh, he drove home hungry, reflecting on the irony of his not believing in ghosts, until now.

* * * *

South Africa is full of myths and legends. From stories of the watermeid (Karoo mermaid), a type of spirit associated with water holes to the tokoloshe (a Puck-like imp) or legends such as Antjie Somers or Van Hunks and the Devil to the Flying Dutchman, there’s plenty of grist for storytellers’ mills. Phantom hitchhikers, check. Grey or white ladies wandering the halls of historical buildings, check. There is so much inspiration, and I drew upon our country’s rich heritage while writing Camdeboo Nights, where contemporary culture meets an older, ancient Africa.

Central to the novel is the location of Nieu Bethesda. I’ve long had a fascination with this small Eastern Cape hamlet that’s exactly in the middle of nowhere on the map of South Africa. The place itself offers a tantalising glimpse into the region’s past, as you can walk along the Gat River and see the fossils of ancient therapsid dinosaurs that used to roam here before humanity was even whispered of. The Owl House – a work of art by outsider artist Helen Martins – is another reason to visit, and also directly inspires events in the story.

I chose a different tack when writing the novel. Normally I write from one character’s point of view throughout, usually in first person. This time I tried multiple points of view a la George RR Martin (but just not so wordy!), with my two primary characters, Trystan and Helen, and secondary characters Etienne and Arwen. With the first two there’s a whiff of a romance between the vampire and the budding mage, and with the latter pair, a bit of comic relief between the little person (he hates being called a dwarf) and his witchy friend. Add a classic car that might be haunted, and you’ve got a high-spirited romp across the South African landscape, with many mysteries, twists and turns thrown in.

Curious much? Go check out the novel here… http://lyricalpress.com/camdeboo-nights/

Or stalk me on Twitter @nerinedorman.

 

Colin F. Barnes and Heart for the Ravens

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Profile2012Today we have Colin f. Barnes paying us a visit to tell us the story behind his new novella, Heart for the Ravens. So please give Colin a mighty big welcome.

Big thanks to Joan for hosting me on her wonderful blog today. Joan invited me along to talk about my latest release, ‘Heart for the Ravens,’ a gothic horror novella. You might be wondering who the hell I am, so here’s a quick bio and then onto what this book is about.

Colin F. Barnes is a writer of dark and daring fiction. He takes his influence from everyday life, and the weird happenings that go on in the shadowy locales of Essex in the UK. Colin likes to blend genres and is currently working on a Cyberpunk/Techthriller serial ‘The Tehcxorcist,’ which combines elements of Sci-Fi, Thriller, and Horror.

Okay. Now that you know who I am, what is Heart of the Ravens, and how did it come about?

Like most of my stories, it was quite ephemeral and I can’t quite put a finger on the initial spark of the idea. The genesis of the story was an idea for an anthology with Fox Spirit Books about a woman’s ideal companion. This led me to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I wanted to explore that idea a little more and as I thought about it, I realised the story would be too big for a short story for the anthology, so Fox Spirit asked to see a novella version.

I wanted to tell a tragic story in the mode of the 19th century gothic horror. I’ve always loved that era; the tone, the darkness, the slightly larger-than-life characters. And so my protagonist came to me. Katerina Roeslling is the daughter of a well-to-do businessman in Highgate, London. Only she isn’t your typical 19th century woman. She has an interest in books and science, specifically the radical ideas of Dr. Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandfather). He believed in ‘spontaneous generation,’ which was the process of bringing life to dead matter. This was also the initial influence on Mary Shelley’s use of science in Frakenstein.

So we have this curious woman with a love of science in a world that was mostly male dominated. Her quest is to find a man with a good heart: a quest not so easy in those days. It’s this quest that brings her to a solider (Willhelm), whom she thinks will be perfect for her, but a tragic twist sets off a chain of disasters that unleash a nightmare from which she is seemingly unable to escape.

The main themes I wanted to explore in this novella were: The role of women in a male society, the burgeoning, but still un-evolved scientific method, and the desire for companionship and what lengths we would go to get it.

Thanks again to Joan for hosting me on her blog. Here’s the blurb for my story: HeartForTheRavensEbook-Lores

A love of science meets a burning desire for life.

In the traditions of Poe and Shelley, Heart for the Ravens is a gothic horror story set in the 19th century following a heroine in search of a man with a good heart.

Katerina Roeslling is the daughter of a wealthy businessman and resents being treated as just another asset by her father. When she meets Willhelm, a rough-hewn, but charismatic, soldier, she thinks he is the right man for her, but he is just the start of a tragic nightmare.

Katerina has to fight her demons of guilt and grief and face her true fate at her family’s Whitby summer home ‘Ravendale.’

It is there she’ll discover what she is capable of and what continues to haunt her from the shadows.

You can download your ebook copy of Heart for the Ravens from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

You can also get it as a paperback from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

You can stalk Colin on his website, Twitter, and on his Amazon Author page.