Happy Friday my fellow readers. Whatever your plans are for this weekend, I hope you have fun. To get your weekend started right, today’s blog post is another collaboration, this time with the incredibly talented artist Stefani Rabideaux. Stefani primarily works in gouache and graphite creating stunning pieces which hark back to another era. Her Gothic Girls evoke a sense of magic and intrigue, and every one has its own personality, it’s own history and it’s own story to tell. That’s what immediately drew me to her beautiful work, the fact that each image seemed to take me somewhere else, to transport me to another place in time or another world entirely. As you can imagine, when she agreed to collaborate I was over the moon. For this story, I was truly inspired by those girls, by the darkness and light present in each piece, the hint at something behind their smiles, something knowing, perhaps something dangerous? That is how Mother Horror was born (shout out to the incredible Sadie Hartmann aka Mother Horror on Instagram for inspiring the name. You are the true Mother Horror). If you would like to check out more of Stefani’s work, and why wouldn’t you, you can purchase from her Etsy shop or head to her Instagram for daily inspiration.
During this difficult period of self isolation and quarantines, we will naturally rely more heavily on our online friendships and communities. When we can’t go out and join our friends for coffee, to discuss our latest read or the newest show we are bing watching on Netflix, we will find ourselves turning to social media for that much needed social interaction. I am lucky to be a member of a few online communities on various platforms and one such community is the #writingcommunity on Twitter. This incredibly supportive community is a band of authors and writers from every genre and experience level. There are Horror writers, Romance Writers, Fantasy writers, writers from every background and age group, professional writers and amateur writers. But regardless of what you write or whether you’re paid to do it or not, every single one of them enthusiastically supports the rest in equal measure. It is a wonderful community and one that I am proud to be a part of.
At the core of this community is the incredible Write Reads. I discovered this page in its infancy and was instantly drawn to its simple yet altruistic ethos. The concept was simple: Every day, the page would tweet out a ‘Review of the Day’ and ‘Blog Post of the Day’ from the bloggers which follow the page. Everyone who follows then retweets these tweets in order to maximise that particular blogger’s reach, and knowing that eventually their turn to be boosted will come around. I loved the idea and immediately signed up. I have been an enthusiastic member since and if you follow me on Twitter, you will notice I continue to retweet those posts. When this blog is featured, my visit numbers sky rocket and my follower counts increase dramatically. This simple premise is incredibly effective and as a result I have discovered dozens of amazing blogs, authors, books and writers. I have watched the community grow in size exponentially and begin to expand its wonderful repertoire, adding book tours, book giveaways and now, a Book Bloggers Novel Award. I love this idea. Everything about this community is about promoting and supporting bloggers and authors and this idea is a genius way of doing so.
Lucky for me, since myself and The Write Reads go way back, the man behind the page Dave Taylor, Kindly agreed to let me interview him about blogging, and the community as a whole:
- For those unfamiliar with The Write Reads, could you please explain what it is?
The Write Reads is basically a support group for Book Bloggers. We highlight two bloggers per day and give their blogs the biggest boost in exposure we can via the blogoftheday and reviewoftheday tweets! We also do blogtours and giveaways for bloggers and stuff! We have an Instagram account now which is run by a small but awesome group of bloggers which tries to do the same, hopefully that will grow too. Oh and we have a Facebook too! Its spreading everywhere!!
- What inspired you to create The Write Reads?
Years ago I used to have a book blog and I just found it really hard to get engagement and views and just become part of the community. It ended up feeling kinda lonely really so after a while I gave up on it. Then a few years later I got to thinking about book blogging again, but instead of deciding to restart my old blog I decided to see if I could help others avoid what happened to me. If TWR has helped people get engaged in the community, enjoy blogging more, get more exposure, make friends, or kept them going when otherwise they may have quit then I consider that a job well done.
- Were your surprised with how much the concept would take off and by how positive the response would be?
Massively so! It just blew up!
- Do any blog posts or reviews stick out in your mind as favourites?
Oh, well I couldn’t possibly answer that now could I??? Everyone is awesome!!!
- Tell us about the BBNYA.
Gosh where to begin?
Well I guess it was kinda two fold. The first thing is, as well as once being a blogger I was (or am) an author myself (an author that seems to constantly avoid writing). And a bit like with Book Blogging I think the majority of self-published/indie authors also find it very hard to get exposure, break into the community and just get their name out there. I am a strong believer that there are some amazing undiscovered gems out there in the self-published world, but the author is simply unable to get the book into peoples’ hands, unable to get noticed.
So, this is where I began to wonder could we achieve, basically both my goals in one swoop. Could we show the power of book bloggers, really get them focused on something, united in a great and noble quest so to speak, and could they, the bloggers help this unknown author. Could they discover his or her book, lift it up out of obscurity, get behind it and show it off to the world. Could they dig up this diamond and place it in the crown for all to see?
Now, there are lots of ways that book bloggers currently help such authors, reviews, interviews, blogtours etc and all of them are fantastic. But I just had a feeling that there was the potential here for something more, something that the group as a whole, that book bloggers as a unified group could do. Well, we shall see, but I am hoping that being crowned the Book Bloggers Novel of the Year will make somebody’s dreams come true and as the years go by the prestige and success associated with it will just go off the charts.
If Book Bloggers can do that for an author, well I think a lot of people will feel very good about that.
6) How do people apply and what kind of books are you looking for?
All the details can be found on the official website www.bbnya.com
7) Do you have any advice for new bloggers/reviewers out there?
Be honest, be kind, engage with and support others, and if you need a break take it.
8) What is in the future for the Write Reads?
I have no idea! For now I’m happy to just do what I do and give a different blogger a big boost in exposure and engagement every day, and hopefully put a smile on their face!
If you are a writer, author or Book Blogger, check out their Twitter page now and happy Blogging!
Hello Readers! The world is a pretty scary right now. The World Health Organisation has declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global pandemic and as the infection spreads, countries are grinding to a stand still I’m an effort to slow it down and protect those most vulnerable and more and more people everywhere are being forced into quarantine or self isolation to protect themselves and their loved ones. The news is full of nothing else and I know my anxiety is growing daily. With everything that’s going on, I felt so helpless to do anything to alleviate the fear or anxiety even in the smallest way. I’m not a Doctor, or a health care worker, I’m just a blogger…what could I possibly do? Not a lot to be honest, but what I can do is give all of those stuck in quarantine and self isolation some reading material.
Reading is the perfect temporary distraction. It offers escapism at a time when we feel most trapped and it’s a way to maintain some form of normalcy in a crazy situation. I am also conscious that budgets now more than ever will be stretched and that these times will not just be trying psychologically, emotionally and physically but also economically, particularly for those who are self employed. With that in mind I have done two things to try to help in even the tiniest way, the only way I know how.
First of all, I have made my novel Broken Mirrors FREE on Kindle from Wednesday the 18th to Sunday the 21st of March. You can download a copy here: https://amzn.to/35K0H6W
I have also scoured the horror section of the Kindle store, searching for horror books that sound badass and are available for either free or less than £3 (the price of a coffee). I then created a video on my YouTube channel with these books, alongside my own, telling you all about them so you can get a massive reading list in a quick, cheap and easy way. The links for all of the books mentioned is in the video description. I hope you enjoy it and wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, stay safe!!
For my latest artist collaboration, I got to work with the incredibly talented Sian Ellis. Her quirky and cute illustrations instantly make me smile and her art has such a wonderful whimsy to them but with a dark edge or twist which I am immediately drawn to. As with the other collaborations, I created a short story inspired by her style of art and body of work and I tried to encapsulate the fun side of darkness her images portray so well. She in turn created the incredible image below & I will 100% be buying a copy of this print from her & putting it on my wall because how could I not? You can check out more of Sian’s work here.
Here’s to a sucky afterlife
Being dead sucks. You are stuck haunting the same small patch of earth, potentially for all eternity, trapped by the emotional and psychological ties that bind you there. You have to watch the living day in day out, come and go around you taking their life, their beautiful, wonderful life, for granted. You watch them worry about all the wrong things and waste their time on nonsense, letting the truly important and arresting moments pass with the blink of their blind, selfish eyes. It is unendurably frustrating and if I had hair, I would surely pull it out. But the worst part of all, is being stuck, forever in the same clothes you died in. For me, that’s a pair of Halloween themed pyjamas covered in little black bats. It’s humiliating and the other ghosts never let me forget it. How was I to know these would be the last items of clothing I would ever wear? If I had known, then I would have slept in a ball gown.
But let’s face it, if I had known I wouldn’t have went to bed at all while my broken fireplace slowly and silently filled my little terrace house with poisonous gas. I would have got it serviced at some point instead of endlessly procrastinating. I would have opened a god damned window, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. It could be worse, I could have been a smoker. An eternity black and charred like some sausage left too long under the grill.
Death brings so much clarity alongside so many unanswerable questions. I see now, when I look back on my rather ordinary life, just how precious it was. How important every single second of it was, even the moments that made me cry or broke my heart. I see how I took it for granted, assuming I would have years, decades to see the things I wanted to see or visit the places I wanted to visit but alas, life or in this case death, had other plans.
But that painful realisation is nothing compared to the questions that eat away at me day in, day out. Why am I still here? Is this it or is there something beyond this? And if there is, how in the name of all that is good do I get there? I want to move on, I really do but it’s hard to make that journey if you’re not sure what is anchoring you to your current mooring. I’m trapped.
I know there is somewhere else that people go otherwise my little stretch of afterlife would be a hell of a lot more overcrowded. As it stands, the strip of houses on my block have only six ghosts including me. Six souls since the beginning of man. There is Bock, the oldest of us, here since the time when the wheel was the latest invention. At least I think his name is Bock, I don’t really understand his grunts and hand signals but he says Bock a lot so Bock is what I have christened him.
There is Peter, a poor Victorian boy who never made it past the age of twelve thanks to consumption. He died in the street outside my red brick house seeking shelter in the door way.
Then there is a portly woman called Edith who fell from stairs I myself trod so many times, her black cat the assassin in the night getting under her feet. Her neck is at an odd angle and her voice is cracked and garbled as she speaks. After 30 years, it still grosses me out.
Next came Jenny, an elderly woman who died in a chair in what was once my neighbour’s living room, the one to live the longest of us all reaching the ripe old age of 80.
After Jenny came Starlight. Not her real name is course but one she chose during the summer of love in a decade of revolution and music. She overdosed in the bath tub of the house two doors up at 28 years old. With her matted, braided hair, head band, tie dyed shirt and mini skirt she is every inch the hippy dippy stereotype. I’m determined to one day know her true name. I bet it’s something intolerably dull like Mildred or Janine.
Finally, of course, there’s me. A 23 year old woman who in 1994 died in her sleep in a pair of novelty pyjamas her mother had got her for Christmas three months prior. A girl with dreams and ambitions alongside a dozen excuses. A girl with regrets.
So where are the rest? Where are the other people whose lives passed at this particular intersection of worlds? Maybe they’re in heaven, or Hell if that is more their speed. Perhaps they were reborn anew, another child crying under the slap of a Doctor or maybe a kitten born in a cardboard box, the memories of their former lives, their former selves now gone to dust along with their former bodies. I would be happy to come back as a dung beetle at this stage. But I’m still here. Stuck with my regrets. Trapped in the same row of four small houses alongside five other lost souls, dragging regrets of their own. God my afterlife is crap.
We have our little amusements of course. Habits and hobbies we have developed over the years to help pass the time. There’s the glory that is Television, our small window to the outside world and thanks to the varied residents of these four houses, there’s something for all of us. There are two small boys living in number 2 at the end of the row whose thirst for cartoon violence greatly satisfies Peter and staves off his boredom many an hour.
The elderly gentleman who lives at the opposite end prefers documentaries and antiques roadshow much to the pleasure of Jenny and Bock. Bock is a big fan of nature documentaries, particularly those hosted by David Attenborough. I have no idea if he can understand him, but he certainly listens, a captive audience at every opportunity.
Edith despite appearances is a sports nut and is usually found in the living room of number 4 where the current resident, a young man called Alan, watches everything from golf to football, rugby to cricket, snooker to basketball. If there’s a ball involved, he watches it.
Starlight is a soap addict so Alan’s wife in number 4 provides her regular entertainment. Both women sit beside one another on the wide bed, mouths agape, shocked sighs when characters reveal their diseases or affairs.
Me? I like the news so I have plenty of options with most residents watching at least the evening edition, but I prefer the company of Mr Paul Jennings and his husband Jack in number 6. They watch the news every morning and evening and in between, listen to music. They have a particular love of 80s rock so their home makes me feel a connection, however tennuous, to my childhood, to the life that was.
They also love old Hollywood movies, the black and white films I used to watch with my mother as a child, a woman in love with Cary Grant and James Stewart, who admired Hepburn and Monroe. Those films, which Paul and jack always watch hand in hand, sitting close together on the large leather sofa, these films remind me of her, of my mother. I wonder often where she is, whether she has moved on to somewhere better or whether she too is trapped where she perished, eternity in a hospice where cancer took her from this world far too young. I hope it’s the former.
We also amuse ourselves by messing with the living. You know when you put something somewhere safe only to find it moved when you go to retrieve it? That feeling that you’re losing your mind? That’s us ghosts. Or when your bulbs and appliances fail at the most inconvenient moments, a boiler breaking just as you go to draw a bath or a television failing as a potential game winning goal is kicked…us!! That blur on your peripheral vision, that feeling of being watched? Us of course. Nothing gives us more pleasure than hearing your frustrated yells and for you to ask us, speaking directly, who is there? Those small moments so insignificant to you are the only times we feel, however momentarily, alive once more.
My favourite game is hide the keys. I love nothing more than to see the residents rushing around in frantic panic, late for work or a dental appointment or a movie. It never ceases to make me giggle. Cruel I know, but we have to pass the time somehow and this seems like as good a way as any.
I’ve grown attached to my weird little family over the years. An eclectic bunch to say the least but we all look out for each other as best we can, each of us seeking the answers to our own untenable questions. In the interim, I guess we are stuck here with you lot. Speaking of which, have you seen your keys lately?
As a lover of all things weird and creepy, I am always excited to find new publications catering for my particular proclivities, so when I discovered Dark Corner Zine I was immediately intrigued. This US based magazine specialises in art and short fiction from the horror and science fiction genres and, well anything weird. With three issues so far and a fourth on the way (more on that later) this zine is still in its infancy but is filled with so much potential. Each edition is an original collection of strange tales and odd art designed to promote the artists and writers, as well as the genre at large. What’s not to like?
When I first found them, I saw they were accepting submissions for Issue 4 so i thought, why the hell not? And through my hat into the ring. When my short story The Monster on the Moor, my take on traditional gothic horror with a twist, was accepted for the issue, I was elated!! As a writer, there is no better feeling than having the validation of your work being accepted for publication and the knowledge that you will be able to reach a new audience.
So now, this magazine is not only me new obsession but it’s also something I now hold in a special place in my heart and I knew I had to help get the word of this awesome publication out there for all my fellow horror lovers and weirdos to discover. I immediately asked the wonderful people behind the zine if they would allow me to interview them and lucky for us, they said yes!
What exactly is Dark Corner Zine?
The Dark Corner Zine is an independently published magazine located in the Southeast United States, though our audience is spread around the world! We publish exclusively independent artists and writers that create works in the genres of Horror, Science Fiction, and Weird Fiction! Simply put, we exist because there is an incredible community of talented writers and artists in these genres that we believe should have their works published and shared with those that love works in these various genres! The zine’s name is sort of an homage to the Twilight Zone and a reference to a local region called the “Dark Corner”. It’s a mountainous region known for, besides moonshiners, old folklore and legends of the supernatural kind.
What inspired you to create it?
Honestly it was out of frustration because many of the publishing firms, especially local ones in our area were only interested in publishing historical fiction or material of a nonfiction variety. There was an opportunity for us to put our own creative talents to use on a project that could be an outlet for those skills while gathering and publishing other talent! As writers and creators, ourselves, we understand the importance of having avenues and outlets to present our creative works in!
Who are some of your favourite horror authors which inspired your love of horror?
Oh! That’s such a difficult question to answer. The first “horror” book I ever read was a collection of old folktales and urban legends called Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark by Alvin Schwartz! Sort of a common work amongst horror aficionados but a required one I’d say. In terms of horror authors that have impacted me as both a creator and writer, I’d have to say William Hjortsberg, Jon Padgett, Fred Chappell, and Thomas Ligotti. Hjortsberg wrote one of the best occult themed detective novels titled Falling Angel. It was made into a 1987 film entitled Angel Heart, but the book has a charm to it along with an ending that is terrifying! Jon Padgett is a rather interesting writer out of New Orleans that writes some of the most foreboding and surreal tales I’ve ever read. Many of his works lean more towards weird fiction, but a few works such as Origami Dreams and The Secret of Ventriloquism linger like a bad dream long after you finish reading them! Fred Chappell’s 1968 release Dagon is a Lovecraft infused Southern Gothic novel that is quite haunting. I can’t go into much detail without ruining it, but I highly recommend it. Ligotti is sort a contemporary master of horror that many of your readers are probably aware of. Any of his collections is worth reading!
If you were creating a reading list for someone new to the genre, what books would you include to whet their appetite (apart from Dark Corner Zine of course)?
I sort of answered this in the previous question (got ahead of myself), but certainly other books I haven’t mentioned already include Let’s Go Play at the Adams by Mendal Johnson, A Nest of Nightmares by Lisa Tuttle, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Id argue with anyone that this is as much of a horror novel as it is a “western”), Cipher by Kathe Koja, The Fisherman by John Langan, and finally The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey
What are some of your highlights from the Dark Corner issues so far?
Ah! That’s such a tough question. I think each of our team members have their personal favorites. For example, my favorites from issue 2 is between Come See the Twin Bridges Train by A.P. Sessler and The Drift by Cody James. Issue 3 is between The Mirror by Bastian Faulk, and Who You Gonna Call by Jack Darvis. I think every issue has something for everyone though!
How can people submit to you guys?
We typically do submission periods 3 times a day. Period timeframes vary, but typically its 60-90 days. We’ll launch our next submission period May, 2020! We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for checking us out and we hope you enjoy our publication! You can grab your copy of issue four here.
For this artist collaboration, I had the honour of working with the incredible Laurie.A.Conley. Laurie creates the most fabulous pen and ink drawings which contain so much fun and humour that it is is impossible to look at one and not smile. I was instantly drawn to that dark humour, her illustrated Death, scythe in hand being a personal favourite of mine, and I was so pleased when she said she would like to collaborate. For those of you unfamiliar with my collaborations, it works like this: I write a story which is inspired by the artist’s style, their body of work and in turn, they create a piece inspired by that story. It is all about inspiration- inspiring others and being inspired in turn. I wanted to take that dark, sly humour present in her illustrations and create a story which combined my dark, horror filled style of story telling with her more playful style of drawing and Hunting The Veil is the result. You can check out more of Laurie’s amazing work on her Instagram and purchase pieces from her Etsy store. If you are an artist, photographer, makeup artists, basically anything creative and you would like to collaborate, get in touch. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest posts and for now, happy reading!
Hunting The Veil
Monsters are real. The shadow under your bed, the scratching at the window, things that go bump in the night. They all exist, just outside of our line of vision, just beyond the veil. They only show themselves in order to hunt. In other words, if you see one, it’s too late. I am a scholar of sorts. I study and catalogue them, their names, their habits, their weaknesses. Most people dismiss my work as the insane ramblings of a man suffering from delusions. Others believe my stories to be just that, stories, designed to entertain and enthral. These demons have worked very hard to snuff out any evidence of their existence, to create a fiction surrounding their lives. Because why would people defend themselves against something which doesn’t exist? Easy pickings. But my friend, I am neither crazy nor creative. I am a lone soldier in the battle against darkness, and the details I now provide to you, are my attempt to impart my knowledge. So, listen carefully, it may just save your life.
There is a creature known as the Gorgonaut. I cannot tell you what it looks like, for it has many forms. It has the ability to reach inside your mind and take the shape of your deepest, darkest fears. Your nightmares incarnate. I encountered a child once, seven years old, Mathew was his name. He saw it as a monster in the closet, for that’s what it was. His drawings depicted huge reaching claws, and hollow eyes. I tried to save Mathew, but his family, believing me to be feeding his delusions, prevented my interventions. One day Mathew went into his closet, and he never came back out.
One of the more common demons, is one whose entire life cycle is dedicated to the possession and slow absorption of the elderly. I never asked its name, I just called it The Leech. It was a disgusting little parasite that could only be removed by scrubbing the host in holy water while simultaneously singing the Lord’s prayer in a high pitched, off key tone. Drove the thing to distraction, I can tell you! An hour of that nonsense and it was practically committing suicide, ha!
Another, known only as Razuul, lives in forests or wooded areas. It lures its victims by presenting itself as a wounded animal, a deer or a racoon. Something cute and fluffy you might see featured in a children’s film. It preys on the pity of strangers. Only its eyes give it away. Its red eyes, which almost glow like fire. But, if you are close enough to see those eyes, then I’m afraid it’s too late for you. You’re dessert.
You cannot begin to fathom what lurks out there, in your schools and Dentist offices, at the bottom of your garden or in the ground beneath your feet. I have stared into the face of evil itself and I have survived. I have fought and conquered so many over the years, that I struggle to recount them. But even after all my victories and despite my vast experience, there is still one creature which fills me with so much dread, I tremble even now. Forgive me if I seem dramatic, I am almost finished, I promise.
The worst creature I have ever encountered is known only as The Cuckoo. A benign name for something so ungodly. It is so evil, so vile, that even the other creatures and demons fear it. It chooses a family, one like any other, one like yours, and it possesses one of its members, before assuming their place. It could become your father, your sister, your child. The changes within that person are unnoticed at first. Perhaps they wear a shirt they said they hated, or they suddenly dislike their favourite meal. Over time, it becomes gradually clearer that something isn’t right, for the person begins to twist and tear at the family, piece by piece. It abuses them and tortures them mentally, for it feeds and strengthens as they suffer and cry. As it grows stronger, the abuse becomes worse, until each and every family member is broken, their will and happiness destroyed. That is when he feasts. That is when he gorges himself on their tear-soaked flesh. The cuckoo is a cunning and sly creature. It is the only one I have never been able to find and kill. It is the most dangerous thing within the veil, and I fear it more than any.
You may be asking yourself, why am I telling you this? Why did I choose to sit beside you at this bar? Why did I buy you a beer and tell you this fantastical tale? Well, in order to truly understand, you must first answer one simple question. Have you noticed anything off about your wife lately?
Hello my fellow book nerds and a very Happy Valentine’s day to you all! I’m not really much of a romantic to be honest, so Valentine’s Day doesn’t make me want to read any soppy, heartfelt chick lit filled with grand romantic gestures and kissing. Instead, my dark soul craves all the horror! Instead of a heart shaped pink card covered in glitter, I want a bloodied human heart torn straight from the chest of my enemies…too much? Well you get the idea! Check out my latest booktube video where I give my upcoming TBR (that’s to be read to all the newbies out there) featuring all the books I’m excited to dive into this Spring. It includes the February and March read for my #gothichorrorreadalong where each month I read a piece of classic gothic horror starting with Dracula by Bram Stoker this month. Won’t you join me? I’ll include a link to my video explaining it below too, along with the list of books for the year.
Happy Viewing, happy reading, Happy Valentine’s Day!!
You can buy all the books I mentioned in the links below:
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Miscreations by various
The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
The Deep by Alma Katsu
My special edition Frankenstein came from Ethereal Visions Publishing
For information on my #gothichorrorreadalong, check out the video below or to keep up to date with all the current information including the dates of our movie adaptation watchalongs starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula on February 28th, follow my Instagram @bookishmarie. Everyone reading a long is using the hashtag so it’s a great way to link in with other gothic horror fans and book nerds!
You can buy all the books on the list at the links below:
February: Dracula by Bram Stoker
March: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
April: We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
May: A tell tale heart & other stories by Edgar Allan Poe
June: The portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
July: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
August: Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier
September: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
October: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
November: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
December: Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fenu