Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Crossbow Cannibal in all of us

I was listening to the news yesterday about the Crossbow Cannibal case, when someone was interviewed and said something along the lines of:

"His shelves were packed with books about serial killers, he had dozens of magazines about homicide and his videos were "slasher" flicks.

The walls were hung with Samurai swords blah, blah, blah."

It made me chuckle, not because of his heinous crimes, but because Deb looked across at me. You see, they could have been talking about our house because it's filled with horror books and books on serial killers, I have video slasher flicks, and directly behind us on the wall where we were sitting is my Samurai sword (for the record, I also have a crossbow too). As of writing this, I have not killed anyone. But if I ever do, just remember it's not the horror books that have warped my mind, it's a result of being abducted by aliens. They're after me I tell you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thank you

Well another year’s almost over and as with any year there have been highs and lows. Personal highs have been the filming of my novel The Kult, and my trip over to the States to see some of it being shot (thanks to everyone involved who made me feel so welcome. Just sorry I had to kill some of you off). Then there’s been the publication of my novel, Deadfall, my appearance in Cemetery Dance and my new publishing deal with Dark Regions Press.

So what’s next? Well my next Prosper Snow novel is finished bar a couple of edits, and I’m working on a new novel that I believe has an interesting premise, but I don’t want to talk about it, as doing so will dilute some of the enthusiasm I have for it. When I start writing something, it feels somewhat magical, but if I start telling people what the story is about I end up losing my motivation to write it.

Now I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me, either by reading and commenting on my work or by purchasing something I’ve had published (I only hope that those who did purchase something didn’t feel as though you’d wasted your money).

I still have ambitions and lots that I want to achieve, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. And remember, dreams are like stars. They seem so far away, but just sometimes, we reach them. Don’t ever stop dreaming. And I hope 2011 is magical for each and every one of you.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Prosper Snow's back - well, almost.

I’ve been hard at work going over my next Prosper Snow novel. I’d finished the first draft, but didn’t like the ending, so I’ve changed it. Now I need to let it percolate a while before I go back to it – and I’ve got some readers going through it to give me their thoughts. The difficult issue with this novel is commenting on what went on in the previous novel without giving too much away for those who haven’t read it. Obviously events from Prosper’s past have shaped him, like they do everyone. But then not everyone’s life is changed by becoming an accomplice to murder!

So to see what people think, I’m posting the first chapter here. But please remember this is an early draft and things can change, so it’s not set in stone.

Prosper Snow. Husband, father, friend, police officer, murderer. Yet again, Prosper is on the hunt for a serial killer, but he’s not alone. A shadowy government organisation that seems to know far too much about his nefarious past is keen to make sure that news of the killings is kept to a minimum. Now Prosper will stop at nothing to find out the how and why.


Murder makes monsters of people. Prosper Snow knew that better than most.
He stared down at the corpse of the middle aged man and grimaced. The man had been butchered beyond recognition. Flaps of skin hung off his cheeks like they had been sliced with razors and rivers of blood pooled in a congealed puddle in the grassy depression by his feet.
Flies buzzed around the corpse. One alighted on the clear fluid that had oozed out of a punctured eyeball. Part of the man’s entrails protruded from slashes in what looked like a pale blue boiler suit, most of the material sodden with blood.
The air reeked of death. Prosper wrinkled his nose and tried to hold his breath, but the white mask he wore as part of his crime scene coverall seemed to retain the smell, making it linger inside his nostrils.
Prosper folded his arms, trying to distance himself from the sickening sight. He listened to birdsong emanating from the elm trees about forty feet away. The sound seemed out of place at such a brutal site.
As the Senior Investigation Officer, Prosper was like the conductor of an orchestra, overseeing all parts of the enquiry and coordinating people from various departments on site, including Scene of Crime Officers, the police surgeon, a coroner, a pathologist and scientists. But there were that many people lingering around it looked as though every nosey bugger from within a ten mile radius had descended. Death attracted people like a grotesque magnet.
“Look, everyone who’s not vital to the case, can you get the hell out of my crime scene before I kick you out,” he shouted, watching as some of those in attendance slouched away.
Since packing in smoking almost a year ago, Prosper had resorted to chewing gum, but the gory sight made the now tasteless piece in his mouth lose its appeal as he imagined he was chewing on a lump of flesh.
He lowered the mask and turned to spit the gum out when he realised he couldn’t contaminate the area. So he swallowed it instead and turned back to the corpse, the paper suit rustling as he moved.
“This is just great,” Mike Holmes snapped from behind the police cordon. He shook his head and ran a hand through his buzz cut as he stared at the body. “What is it with you and death? No wonder they’ve called it Operation Avalanche, because this is going to be a fucking disaster.”
Prosper glared at Mike. He knew he was referring to last years Oracle case in which a multitude of people were murdered, including a police officer, so the last thing Mike probably wanted was to be partnered with Prosper on another murder investigation.
Hell, in the circumstances, even Prosper wouldn’t want to be partnered with himself, but that didn’t make the snide comment any easier to accept.
After a moment, Prosper turned away and stared around the area. Grey clouds scudded across the sky, threatening rain. A cluster of green prefabricated buildings stood in the distance. Most of them looked like industrial units hundreds of feet in length and width. One was surrounded by a high barbed wire fence, while a lorry belching smoke pulled up outside another. The units looked quite new, and were surrounded by trees and architectural features such as small sculptures comprised of cubes. In the middle of the complex sat a large artificial pond with a fountain spraying water into the air.
The spot where the body had been discovered was a grassy area punctuated with evergreen bushes, one of which was splattered with blood like gory Christmas decorations. A small stream flowed near by, the sound of bubbling water counter-pointed by the bird call. The closest building stood about one hundred feet away.
Prosper turned his attention back to the body. It had been discovered by a woman walking her dog. The pile of vomit nearby was an indication of how much the spectacle had affected her before she was taken away for counselling.
Although he wasn’t immune to the sight of blood and gore, Prosper had been closely associated enough that he was less distressed.
At first glance, the victim looked as though he had been attacked by a wild animal, but of course there were no wild animals in the UK capable of doing something like this – at least not unless something like a bear or a large wild cat had escaped from a zoo. The only domestic creature capable of doing so much damage was something like a large dog, or perhaps a pack of them, but while a dog attack would look nasty, the slashes and puncture marks on the man’s body indicated the use of a knife or a sharp implement. But it was the severity of the cuts that was most disturbing. It indicated a frenzied attack with no concern for the victim.
A police cordon had been erected around the corpse, the yellow tape stencilled with CRIME SCENE – DO NOT CROSS fluttering in the breeze. Prosper saw the flash of a camera, making him grit his teeth.
“Make sure they stay behind the barrier,” Prosper shouted to one of the uniformed officers as he saw a young man lift the tape with the intention of approaching the crime scene for a closer look. “And where’s that blasted tent to cover the body?”
“They’re bringing it from the car now,” someone shouted.
Prosper turned towards Mike. “Any thoughts?”
“Thoughts, I’ll give you my thoughts. You and murder are the last things I need.”
Prosper bit his tongue. Although it had been a year since the Oracle debacle, his colleagues would never let him forget. He just thanked God that they didn’t know the true events of that case.
“Look, Mike, someone’s dead. It’s our job to find out the how, why and who, so let’s cut the sarcasm and get on with the job at hand. If you’re not happy about the situation, I can have you replaced.”
Mike snorted loudly. “Do you really think you’d find anyone willing to replace me? If so, then go ahead.”
Prosper rubbed his brow. “I realise you’re not happy about the situation. Jesus, I’m not over the moon about it either. But it’s our job, so let’s be professional about it. Now I want to start canvassing the area to see whether anyone saw anything. Can you arrange that for me?”
Mike licked his lips, glanced at the corpse and then nodded.
“Good. Then hopefully we can catch the bastard who did this and put it to bed.”
He watched Mike walk away, and then turned back to the crime scene. Less than twenty minutes ago, he had been looking forwards to his lunch of ham sandwiches, but the sight of the dead man quenched any hunger pangs.
A forensic pathologist kitted out in a white paper suit crouched down to examine the body and Prosper walked across to see what he could find out.
“Any idea on the time of death?” Prosper asked.
The pathologist looked up and shook her head. “You see the way the victim’s gripping that branch, well it’s probably a result of instant rigor mortis, what’s called a cadaveric spasm. This happens when the person is exerting themselves at the time of death, such as running hard or when a struggle takes place. As a result it makes assessing the time of death more difficult.”
Prosper nodded. Although the mask hid much of her face, he could tell by the sound of her voice and how quickly she spoke that she was excited, that she liked her job.
“Also, the grass around the body was flattened,” she continued, “indicating lots of movement, and judging by the severity of the attack, much of the assault was probably undertaken after the victim was already dead as he wouldn’t have survived for long judging by the wounds.”
Prosper was about to step forwards to have a closer look at the body when he heard the squeal of brakes and he turned to see two black, nondescript four by four vehicles slide to a stop behind the group of spectators.
The passenger door of the lead vehicle swung open and a man jumped down and approached the police cordon. He pulled out a wallet and said something to the officer guarding the perimeter, and then slipped underneath the tape.
Smartly dressed in a dark suit, he stood about 5 feet 10. Of average build, he had medium length wavy brown hair, bushy eyebrows and a condescending look that made Prosper want to slap him.
“Prosper Snow,” the man said.
Surprised the man knew his name, Prosper nodded. “And you are?”
“I’m the person who’s ordering you away from the crime scene, that’s who I am.”
The man’s arrogant, confident tone matched his look and got Prosper’s back up straight away. He bit his lower lip; took a deep breath then regretted it when he got a lungful of the dead man’s aroma. “Under what authority?”
The man opened the wallet and flashed a badge that showed he was part of a branch of MI5, the domestic intelligence agency. Prosper didn’t have time to study it closely before the man snapped the wallet closed and slipped it back into the inside pocket of his jacket.
“Now Mr Snow, if you don’t mind …” He raised his hand to indicate Prosper should leave.
Prosper felt as though he had been blindsided. How did the man know who he was? He cleared his throat. “This is my case.” He knew it sounded petulant, but he couldn’t help it.
“Not any more.”
Before Prosper could respond, his mobile phone rang. He glared at the man for a moment before taking the phone out of one of the self adhesive pockets on the suit and answering. “Chief Superintendent Hargreaves. And how can I help you?”
“Prosper, I’ve just had a call from the Home Office. The case you’re on, drop it, now.”
“Drop it, but sir—”
“No buts, that’s an order. Someone else is taking over.”
Prosper heard a sense of urgency in his superiors voice. He stared at the man opposite. “Who?”
“That’s none of your concern. Now just do as I say and leave.”
Prosper disconnected the call and put his phone away. It didn’t escape his notice that although the body had only been reported less than an hour ago, wheels had been set in motion that took him out of the loop.
But why? What was so special about this victim?
“I take it that was the confirmation you need about my authority. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a job to do,” the man said.
He walked past Prosper and stood staring down at the corpse.
Realising there was nothing he could do about it, Prosper turned to walk away when the man said, “Although there is one way you can still be involved in the case, Mr Snow.”
Prosper halted in his tracks and looked back. The man still had his back to him, staring down at the corpse. “And what does that mean?”
“I want someone like you on my team.”
Prosper frowned. “Your team? You mean MI5?”
“We’re a branch of that agency. But let’s just say we take the jobs no one else can crack.”
“And what do you mean, someone like me?”
“I know all about you, Mr Snow.” He turned and fixed Prosper with an unwavering stare. “The Oracle case. There were certain, how shall I say, discrepancies with your statement.”
Prosper felt the colour drain from his cheeks and his heart did a little flutter. “There were no discrepancies in my statement.”
The flicker of a grin crossed the man’s lips. “Cards on the table, you and I both know that’s not true. You’re loyal. I like that in my operatives.”
Prosper licked his lips. “Look, I don’t know who the hell you are, or what you think you know, and frankly, I’m not interested. As you said, you’ve got a job to do, so I’d suggest you concentrate on doing that.” Without another word, Prosper spun around and started walking away.
“Well, think it over,” the man shouted after him. “I’ll be in touch soon.”
As he reached the cordon, Prosper tore his mask off and took a couple of deep breaths, trying to clear the stench of death from his nostrils. He turned and looked back at the man as he inspected the crime scene. Did he really know damning details about the Oracle case? Prosper shuddered.
“What’s happening? Who are they?” Mike asked as he jogged over.
“Someone higher up the ladder, that’s who they are. And they’re taking over the case.”
“Really? Well anyone would think you were disappointed by the look on your face.”
Prosper took another stick of gum out of his pocket and stuffed it in his mouth. Disappointed! He was far from disappointed. He was terrified.
The Oracle case was supposed to be dead and buried, just like the person Prosper had helped murder.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The price is right - or is it?

I’m in the middle of writing two novels, but thought I’d take a quick break and write a blog about the price of books.

I remember a while ago I offered someone a signed copy of The Kult for £5.50, which they seemed okay about, but then I said it will also be another £2 for p & p, at which point they changed their mind. Personally I didn’t think £7.50 for a signed copy was a bad price (it may be a bad book, but that’s another matter entirely). Now my latest news about my short story collection has got me thinking about what people will pay for books, and what makes them decide whether a certain tome will prise open their rock hard grip on all that moola. Voyeurs of Death is a deluxe lettered hardcover edition, priced at $99. Now there are only going to be 26 copies of the deluxe lettered edition printed, so it’s going to be extremely rare, but of course it’s still quite expensive as far as books are concerned. And of course I’ll be the first to admit that my only moment of fame came about when I ran naked through the streets shouting ‘Yee ha, who wants to tame this here cowboy’, so are people going to buy an expensive book from a virtual unknown author with a penchant for exhibitionism? Speculators might buy it in the hope I’ll get arrested for something notorious or perhaps even that I might one day become famous for my writing and not my streaking. Other people might buy it because they, shock horror, like my work. Other people might just have nothing better to spend their money on. While someone else might just like collectible books. So okay, what makes or would make you, the person reading this part with your dosh for an expensive book?

Oh, and for those who want to buy Voyeurs of Death for any of the reasons above, or one I haven't thought about, here's the link:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Voyeurs and the clichéd dead

I posted about it before, but the lettered deluxe edition of Voyeurs of Death is available for preorder. There are only 26 copies available, so it could become highly collectible if I get off my arse and make something of my writing. Or I could become famous for some crime or other (perhaps they’ll find the bodies) and the same thing happens, which could be an eaiser route to take. Either way, the people who bought a copy will be onto a winner, and of course I’m sure it will be a great looking book too:

And if you buy a copy, until tomorrow, Monday (11/22/2010) anyone who places an order for a Limited Hardcover edition of any of the Dark Regions books will receive one Dark Regions coffee mug of their choice while anyone who places an order for a Deluxe Lettered/Thirteen Hardcover edition of any of their books will have their choice between a t-shirt and a mug from the Merchandise section!:,-Get-a-Shirt!.html

Now for anyone who missed it, I had an interview go online the other day. It was fun to do and it would be great if you could check it out. Just remember to come back after checking it out:

So who’s been watching The Walking Dead? I have, but to be honest I’m not that impressed. The characters seem a little clichéd, and the plot lines do too. This weeks episode supposedly had us believe Merle cut his own hand off with a hacksaw. Was he that dumb he couldn’t cut through the pipe he was handcuffed to? Some people suspect he might have been rescued by the people in the helicopter. Again, what sort of rescuer cuts someone’s hand off when he’s shackled to a rusty bit of metal? I’ve seen other people suggest he’s gone crazy after being left chained up overnight. No shit! The whole thing just seems drawn out too much for my liking. I realise the writers are trying to build their characters (and they’re probably following the graphic comic book that the series is based on, but as I haven’t read it, I don’t know), but to me they are not coming across as natural and more like set pieces in a game of chess that’s afraid to deviate from its path. The clichéd hicks. The clichéd wife beater etc. Or then again perhaps I’m just reading too much into it, but when I saw the week before that our 'hero' was trapped in a tank, you know a bloody tank, designed to enter battle, and he sits there wondering how he's going to escape, and I'm thinking just drive the bloody thing!!!!!

On the writing front, I’m currently nearly a quarter of the way through my latest novel (and hopefully avoiding the clichés). Still a long way to go but as always when you write something, it’s proving to be an interesting journey. What I do like is when you write yourself into a corner, and you think, ‘how the hell am I going to get out of this?’, and then either the answer jumps out at you, or as in my last instance, I reread what I’d already written and discovered that the solution was already there. As I’ve now hit another wall, I’d better get rereading.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pleasure and pain

Yesterday I got the go ahead to announce that I have signed contracts with Dark Regions Press. They are an invitation only press who approached me a few weeks ago, inviting me to submit some of my work. For those who don’t know, DRP are an award winning press who have been publishing since 1985. The upshot was that I have now signed a contract for a novel that I am currently working on and another contract for a lettered deluxe edition of my previously published short story collection, Voyeurs of Death. This new edition is limited to 26 copies and it includes five extra stories that weren’t in the previous edition, three of which are previously unpublished stories. It will be a hardback, 6''x9'', bound in leather, front cover stamped and spine stamped with the title and the author's name, includes artsy end papers, signature page which is signed by author (me) and artist (Zach McCain), coloured book ribbon with nice full coloured header, 60lb. natural vellum stock, a beautiful slipcase and dust jacket. Being such a limited edition, I hope it will become a real collector’s item for those who purchase it. And of course, I hope they enjoy the stories too. For pre-order details, visit:

Yesterday I also had another two hour session at the tattooist to continue the updating of my Japanese themed sleeve. He finished off the shading on the back of my arm and smoothed out all the shading that covered up the old tattoo. I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along, but there’s still a way to go yet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My blog has been hijacked by Daniel I Russell

Today I have a guest poster in the form of Daniel I Russell as part of his blog world tour, which he’s undertaking in the run up to the release of his novel, Samhane.

Hi Dan, pull up a chair and let’s kick off. Can you give us a bio to let people know a little about your good (or not so good) self:

Hey Shaun.
I’m a horror writer in my twenties (for the next five days, at least!) from Wigan in the UK but I moved out to Australia a few years ago. I’m the science head at the local high school and have three children. I’m also the associate and technical editor at Necrotic tissue and work with Bandersnatch Books. As you can probably tell just from this, I’m a geek with very little personal time.

So how long have you been writing for, and what made you choose horror?

I’ve been writing since about 2004, which doesn’t look like too long, but feels like an age, perhaps because things have changed so much. It’s always been horror for me from day one, be it He-Man when I was four (come on, some of those guys were pretty freaky!), endless horror movie marathons through my teens or now, trying to churn them out onto paper while living a relatively normal and suburban life out in the country. Whenever I try to write something that isn’t horror, it always seems to sneak back in. Like Robert Englund says in New Nightmare, just because it’s a romantic comedy, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a decapitation or two!

Any real life horror stories to share?

We all have to deal with real life horror every day. Thankfully, (and that’s a thanks to you, media!) we’re all pretty much habituated to it now. Touch wood, apart from a few family natural deaths I haven’t had to deal with anything too harrowing. There’s a distinct lack of crazed killers and torture in my life. I’ve had the odd weird and spooky moment, and I think most people have, no matter how much they deny it. I think the closest I’ve come to real life horror was when I worked for a law firm. Some of the injury reports were appalling, knowing that the mangled limb you were looking at was an actual person and not an effect. Plus, some of the files including young children were heartbreaking.

If you were stuck on a desert island, who would you like to be stranded with?

I suppose the answer I’m supposed to give is my son, but never in a million years! How the hell would he survive with me in charge? On a desert island? No, I’d prefer him to be safe and sound at home with his mum. Someone with plenty of meat on them would be handy, you know, in case we ran out of coconuts or something. When it comes right down to it, and simply for survival, I’d have to say Bear Grylls, but I ain’t drinking my own piss.

Aside from writing, you edit for Necrotic Tissue. Has wearing two hats helped or hindered your own writing?

Time wise, severally hindered. If I agree to do something, and other people are depending on you doing that job, it comes before any of my own stuff. So if Necrotic Tissue business is to be done, it gets finished before I open up the latest novel or short story. With the submissions process and then technical edits, yes, it’s a big undertaking four times a year, but I enjoy doing it. Knowing how much work the other staff and I put in each quarter, when I have the finished magazine on my shelf I’m as proud of it as anything featuring my own work. It does help my writing as, with reading so many submissions, I think (hope!) it helps with writing twists. Many, many stories try to include a twist, and it’s educating to see what works and what doesn’t. Oh, and if any potential contributors are reading, if a character turns out to be a vampire or werewolf and that’s the entire point of the story, write something else!

Tea or coffee?

Coffee in copious amounts! I think that you have to have an addictive personality to be a writer. Some like booze. Some like drugs. Some like Tae Kwon Do. I’m a caffeine freak! My writing mug is like a bucket with a handle. Sweet, milky tea is nice on the stomach after a heavy night on the beer.

I imagine as an editor, you see the good, the bad and the ugly of the writing world. Any stories to share?

It’s more the technical and business side of things. You get to learn the game more, and spot the bad players. It’s that title of ‘editor’. What makes an editor? We see so many writers who, after little success, suddenly open their own magazine or ezine. Anything to get their name out there, you know? But if you’re a bad writer, you’re going to be a bad editor. I’ve read work by editors of a few ezines on their sites or blog, and it has been terrible. Yes, you may think that is just my opinion, but incorrect grammar and spelling, bad syntax and shitty composition is not my opinion, it’s simply bad, incorrect writing. To think that these people are, as editors, advising new writers what’s right and wrong, is simply a joke. Add into the mix the number of markets that don’t pay their writers or offer a token payment, and then charge the earth for a copy of the Lulu anthology the writer is in? For me, it’s these used car salespeople of the small press that piss me off the most. Not to say all small press ezines and editors are like this! Most are legit and a pleasure to work with.
On the good side, we receive submissions and guarantee a few comments on why we made that choice. Again, this might just be that editor’s opinion, but as a writer, I always prefer a reason over a form rejection. The good side for us is when we receive emails stating that the writer has taken our advice, submitted it somewhere else and made a sale. Kinda makes us feel we helped and gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Having emigrated to Australia, do you see cultural differences with regards genre fiction?

Fantasy seems to be the prevailing spec choice for the genre loving Australian. And vampires. Fucking vampires! The country is still obsessed with the sparkly Bold and the Beautiful. Hopefully when the novelty has worn off, and horror can reclaim some of the shelf space it’s lost, we’ll see a big resurgence. The Australian horror scene is incredibly passionate, a little because I think it knows it has to work hard to make a name for itself against the more established US and UK markets. The magazines I have appeared in over here, namely Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and Midnight Echo, and the books produced, such as anything from Brimstone Press or Tasmaniac Publications, are top notch. I now count myself as part of the Australian horror scene, and I’m among great and passionate company.

And with that in mind, do you think emigrating has helped your writing?

I live in a lovely little picturesque town in the country of Western Australia. While I now have a family and a more demanding job, the general atmosphere I think has helped. Life is less hectic than when I lived in the UK, and it seems like there’s more hours in the day. Travel broadens the mind as they say, and Australia offers more ideas on characters and settings, as well as things like myths and legends.

Do you prefer subtle horror or more gore?

Variety is the spice of life (full of clichéd sayings today). I used to write gore regularly, but it gets repetitive quite quickly, or at least it feels that way. Blood can only ejaculate so many times. A mix is always better. One of my more successful stories, Broken Bough, which appeared on Pseudopod, has no gore whatsoever, but still has that high tension, whereas readers enjoy Samhane because of its explicit gore. Yeah, twelve of one and half a dozen of the other and I’m happy. At the end of the day, it’s a game of two halves.

What do you think of the state of horror fiction today?

Equilibrium is shifting, and I think the big changes, and it’s been building for a while now, are about to come. Whether this is going to be good or bad for the horror genre, only time will tell. Horror fiction just isn’t fashionable enough for the mainstream at the moment. It’s always been up and down. Hopefully it will on the rise again soon.

What are your aims and hopes for the future with regards your writing?

I’m always aiming for the next step. I think this last one was a big step: work with a good publisher who wants to get your book in the hands of readers. It sounds like common sense, but I guess a good number of people in the industry know different. Working with Stygian Publications, Skullvines Press and Voodoo Press, I know that the editors will be promoting as hard as I will to reach new readers. I think from now on, the aims will pretty much be to increase my readership and continue to produce books they’ll enjoy.

Favourite sexual position?

On, under, to the side, inside, perpendicular or parallel to my general vicinity.

And finally to Samhane. What’s it about and more importantly, where can potential readers find a copy?

The back cover blurb can put it better than I ever could:
"For weeks, I have tossed and turned in my bed in turmoil over whether to publish this. But the people of this town must be warned. Everyone must be aware of the Danger lurking in the dark, waiting."

Samhane. Just a sleepy town in the rolling hills of northern England. A nice place to live.

Few people know the truth.

Donald Patterson travels to Samhane in pursuit of a sadistic murderer and rapist. Unless Donald reaches Orchard House by midnight, his fiancee will be the star of the next torturous broadcast....

Brian Rathbone and his son are already in Samhane, hired by the mayor. Specialist exterminators, their talents have helped to deal with the 'little problems' that have begun to massacre the residents. But as events take a more sinister turn, Brian wonders about the true reason they are there....

Blood and carnage. Pain and suffering. Desire and sweet chaos.

Welcome to Samhane.

The book will be available through Amazon, etc, and direct from the publisher via the magazine store at later this month. The German edition is available now on preorder at and

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, and good luck with your writing.

Cheers Shaun! Thank you for having me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book signing, readers and an invite out of the blue

Firstly, I’d like to thank those who came to my book signing yesterday at Waterstone’s in Hanley. Thanks me ducks.

Although I write because I obviously enjoy it (why else shut yourself in solitary confinement and conjure monsters and killers), there's a difference between writing for pleasure and selling work to be published. When you write for pleasure, you're writing for yourself, but when you write for publication, readers are the most important thing. If they don’t like what you write, then they won’t read anything else by you and that’s the end of the line where publishing is concerned. So I hope people, on the whole, continue to like what I write, and that they stick with me on what I hope will be an entertaining journey. Everyone who buys my work is taking a chance and spending their hard earned money, and I respect and appreciate that more than you will ever know. Each and every one of you is the greatest.

Now for anyone who would like to see where I write, I have a guest post up at Book Chick City. It would be great if you could stop by and leave a comment (it’s a great site to visit anyway as there are lots of things to read and some great book reviews):

On the writing front, I was invited to submit to an invitation only press, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they like what I (sent) send, but it has inspired a new novel idea that I’ve made a start on. So far I’ve not kept to a theme with my novels (one’s about a strange village, one’s a serial killer story, then there’s zombies and mutated creatures), and this one is unrelated to anything else too. I don’t know whether people like themes, but I like variety. I think that if I kept to one subject, such as zombies or suchlike then it could grow a little stale and as an author, I’d only be catering to a niche group. And of course, writing about different subjects also means that if a reader doesn’t like one book, then they might like another, and like I said at the beginning, when you write for publication, readers are the most important thing.

And last but not least, Happy Halloween. Hope everyone has a great night and stays safe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The American Dream

Okay, my American odyssey is now over, but here's a brief summary of my time there.

I started out by getting up at 3 a.m. My colleague from work, Nick who was accompanying me, picked me up and drove us to Manchester airport. From there it was a brisk flight to London. As I'd only had an hours sleep, I was not operating well, and the check-in to fly to New York when we arrived at Heathrow customs was a bit of a nightmare as I couldn’t understand the man asking me questions. He had a way of looking at you as though you were mentally deficient. But by hook or by crook, he eventually let me through.

The flight to New York was around 7 hours, in which I tried unsuccessfully to sleep. During that time I watched The Karate Kid, and was left wondering why oh why remake a film like Karate Kid, and then when you do remake it, why oh why have them doing kung fu? Not a patch on the original.

Passing through New York customs we were subjected to a large, bossy woman shouting out orders like an army drill instructor for everyone to remove their shoes, jackets and sweat tops. I expected her to start shouting for us to 'drop and give me five'.

We eventually arrived in San Diego and checked into a hotel near the airport for some much needed sleep. The Mexican man behind the reception desk commented that I reminded him of a famous British actor. I was thinking someone suave and sophisticated, someone like Daniel Craig in James Bond. He said the actor played a cop and I eventually worked out he was referring to Simon Pegg. Little did he know I was the real Shaun of the Dead.

At breakfast, Nick struggled to get to grips with the waffle making machine, finally getting the hang of it after creating numerous sheets of inedible cardboard.

Now the greatest problem we faced so far was the language barrier. No one could understand us. Nick tried speaking slowly and enunciating each word, but they just looked at him like he was retarded. He also tried using his limited knowledge of Spanish, 'Buenos dias', but when they replied, he was obviously stumped.

We then picked up our rental car, a black Ford Mustang convertible (Nick would eventually fall in love with the car. Once we arrived at Vegas I expected him to visit a drive though chapel to marry it - and could envision the vicar's face after he asked where the bride was, and Nick replying, 'I'm sitting in her'.)

Everywhere in San Diego seemed so clean compared to the UK, and our first of many visits to a Denny's was an introduction to the stereotypical US burger bar I have seen on film, complete with effervescent waitress who was only too happy to make us feel at home.

Next we drove to Temecula where we were staying to see some of the shoot. We checked into to the hotel at 3:00 p.m. At 3:40 p.m. the editor in chief of Leucrota Press, Danielle kindly picked us up to take me to a book signing that had been arranged at Barnes & Noble in Oceanside. There was a great turnout, including some people that I had communicated over the internet with, such as Allan and Guido, and I was overwhelmed that the principal cast from The Kult turned up to say hi (Joe, Karenssa, Windy, Justin, Steven, Curtis, J.G., Tim, Harry). As I said to them, it was very surreal to see the characters I’d created brought to life and standing around me, made flesh.

I must also say thanks to Karenssa's friend, Vivien who having heard me lament about the lack of a decent cup of tea in the US on Twitter, turned up with a thermos flask of the good stuff.

Straight after the signing I was whisked away to the set to see some of a night shoot. This is where I first met the director Kip and the producer, Dan. Both great people, who between them have enrolled an awesome bunch of people both behind and in front of the camera. People like key grip, Ivan Duran and assistant director, Tino Luciano who also has his own stunt company: (btw, his truck is amazing. It's as large as a monster truck, has a silver skull grill and a pair of dangling balls at the rear that undoubtedly brings a chuckle to many a driver that follows in the behemoths wake - I got a lift across to one of the sets in it. By the time I climbed up to the cab I needed oxygen). At the shoot I got to use the clapper board, and then got to perform a cameo with a great lady called, Sandy. When she went into character, she had to be seen to be believed, and when she started swearing at me, I had to keep telling myself, 'she doesn’t mean it, it's only a film'. But she was that convincing, I have my doubts …

The next day Nick and I visited Sea World. The sun was out (I'm sure weather men out there have a pretty boring job: 'And today it's going to be sunny. And the forecast for the coming week is, you guessed it, sunshine. And guess what, the week after, more sunshine'. They probably pray for rain. And snow, now that would give them an orgasm).

The dolphin show was outstanding. And the catchword in the US seems to be 'believe', and I can see why. This is a country of dreams. And the people never stop believing. Their optimism is contagious. Believe me.

The next day I was back on set. It's amazing seeing it all come together, and Kip has so much knowledge about film making that it was a pleasure just listening to him talk. Hearing the characters speaking words I'd written was another one of those strange things that sent a shiver down my back (it also became apparent that many of the actors and people involved came together through unusual circumstances, almost as though it was meant to be - there's a certain serendipity about the whole film).

I also met Kevin Newman who is making all the bodies for the film. Another great guy who is passionate about his work. I saw some of the moulds for the bodies and they are fantastic (I was also given a severed finger from one of the scenes, presented to me in a display case. A really great, gruesome memento - I was just glad they didn't stop me at customs on the way home as I might have had some explaining to do).

During the day I had a nice, long chat with Windy, met the effervescent Natalie, the confident J.G. (and a couple of people whose names I can't remember. Apologies, but it was great meeting you) and even though he wasn't shooting, lead actor, Joe turned up too. Although it was a full days shooting, it seemed to fly by all too fast, and the charming Brianna, who has interviewed most of the principal cast, even took time out to interview me too.

After a couple of days in LA (visiting Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach etc.), we drove back to Temecula and Nick and I went out for a meal with Kip and Joe. Listening to both of them talk really inspired me. Their energy and enthusiasm is overwhelming. In fact, all the cast seemed to have bonded very fast, and they all seemed to support one another, which was great and obviously makes working together that much easier. It will also help make their friendship on screen all that much more real to believe.

Finally I'd like to give my thanks to everyone I met, all of whom made me feel so welcome. I couldn’t have wished for a greater bunch to be associated with the film, and I know they're all going to do an awesome job. And I really do believe that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's all in the stars

Well my US odyssey begins on October 5th, which is the day that I arrive in the States. The next day, I have a book signing arranged:
October 06, 2010
05:00PM - 08:00PM
Barnes & Noble,
El Camino North Shopping Center,
2615 Vista Way,
Oceanside, CA, US

I'm hoping to meet as many people as possible, and hopefully some of the actors from The Kult will turn up too.

During my trip, I have a full itinerary, taking in Temecula, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but obviously the highlight for me will be seeing some of the filming of my novel. It's not something I ever dreamed would happen, but perhaps it was already mapped out in my future. Let me explain. I visited a fortune teller over 17 years ago in London who told me I was engaged with something creative, and that through this I would become involved in a partnership that would lead me overseas to the US where I would finally be successful. She told me some other things that rang true, like at the time I had a pain in my chest, which wasn't obvious to anyone, but it was the first thing she said to me when I sat down. Like anyone, I was dubious. I guess I still am, but I can dream. And you know what, sometimes, just sometimes, dreams do come true ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dead Man's Eye

Well I'm pleased to say that my flight tickets to San Diego are now confirmed. I'll be flying out on October 5th, and then hope to be on set the next day to see some of the filming of The Kult. Yay.

I had a novella called Dead Man's Eye lying unused on my laptop for quite a while, so rather than letting it go to waste, I've uploaded it to Smashwords:

It's priced at $1.99, but as a thank you to anyone who reads this blog, enter the following code at the checkout to get it for $1.25: WX87T. The code is valid until the day I fly, October 5th.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lights, camera, action ...

Filming for The Kult is now only a couple of weeks away, so I’m nearly wetting myself with excitement. I hope to be flying out on October 4th (just waiting for ticket confirmation). The website for the film keeps being updated by the magical elves, and more actor video interviews will be added soon. There are a couple of bands I know of that have tracks selected for the soundtrack. You can check both bands out here:

I’ve been chatting to the director, Kip Shelton, and it’s amazing (at least to me) all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes before the filming starts, from purchasing props (I saw a picture of a severed finger the other day. Very realistic) to arranging stuntmen.

For anyone in the Stoke-on-Trent area, I’m arranging a book signing for Deadfall at Waterstone’s in Hanley on October 30th, which is a fitting weekend where horror is concerned.

My next tattoo appointment is arranged for this Tuesday, so I’m looking forwards to a little more pain. It will be good to get some colour added.

On the writing front, I finished another novel featuring Prosper Snow, and I’ve sent it out to a couple of faithful readers for their valuable feedback. Just hope they don’t slate it too much.

Remember you can always add The Kult movie to your friends on Facebook, and please check out the website if you want to keep up to date, as things will be progressing at light speed for the next few weeks, and any support is greatly appreciated (if you could spread the word, that would be awesome):

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Principal photography, reviews and ramblings.

With principal photography on The Kult due to start in just over a month’s time, I’ve got a lot to arrange, such as flights and accommodation -- I believe a couple of signings are in the pipeline too somewhere in San Diego, so I’ll post news when I know more. But as I’ll be away after Tuesday I won’t be able to sort anything for the next week or so, but hopefully I’ll return with batteries charged and be raring to go.

On the home front, I’ve been exercising more lately and trying to shift a few pounds. They’re going, but it’s a slow process. I’ve also got three more tattoo appointments booked for September to continue work on my sleeve so September is looking like a hectic month.

I’ve noticed that the reviews of Deadfall on have not been exactly glowing so far. It’s always disappointing when people don’t enjoy something as the sole purpose of a fiction book is to entertain, to transport you from real life and draw you into a world of make-believe where you can lose yourself for a few hours. And if I haven’t entertained, then I haven’t done my job properly. Of course you’re never going to please everyone, but I hope the majority of readers do enjoy what I write. Either way, I value reviews and opinions and I hope more people share theirs.

Thought for the day: Authors have the perfect face for books.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cemetery Dance, Ebooks and Film. It's all going on.

The latest issue of Cemetery Dance (#64) was announced the other day. It’s a Bentley Little special issue, and features fiction by the following:

"The Wheel" by Bentley Little
"We" by Bentley Little
"An Excerpt from Blockade Billy" by Stephen King
"The Innocents at the Museum of Antiquities: Part Three" by Douglas Clegg
"Out of Touch" by Simon Strantzas
"The Long Black Coat" by Benjamin Percy
"An Excerpt from The Painted Darkness" by Brian James Freeman
"In Darkness" by Shaun Jeffrey
"Deathbed" by Brian Knight

I feel honoured to be in such esteemed company and can’t wait to receive my copy.

I have been reading reports lately of some 'name' authors shunning publishers and releasing (or planning to release) their work as Ebooks or POD books. This is fine for authors who have a following, as their fans will buy the books regardless. But I feel this will give many unpublished authors and beginners the wrong idea, making them think they can do the same thing and take the easy route to publication (certainly it's easy to publish the book, the difficulty lies in promoting it and getting people to part with their cash). Now anyone who’s had a novel professionally edited knows how much the edits improve the book. I think it’s pretty hard for someone to edit their own work with an unbiased eye. My last two novels, The Kult and Deadfall went through extensive changes with the help of editors. The weak aspects of the story were addressed, and main plot points were changed to make them better. Characters were rewritten, whole scenes changed. My latest novel, Fangtooth is going through the same process. I think I would find it hard to do this on my own, as I am not subjective enough.

Now I’m certainly not against people publishing their own work, but the one thing most of them will require is a good edit. That, I feel, in part (assuming the story is good of course) is what will make the difference between the winners and the losers in this new era of publishing.

Finally, there have been a few posts made lately about The Kult film from the people involved:

"The Kult" will begin principal photography on September 27th, 2010 in San Diego and Riverside Counties, under the direction of Kip Shelton.

The screenplay, adapted from the novel by U.K. author Shaun Jeffrey, went into negotiations in the middle of November 2009 between Gharial Productions and Leucrota Press, and emerged with a solid contract offer and acceptance.

With the principal cast announced and a final script in the actors' hands, the production team is wrapping up pre-production and preparing to begin principal photography. While most of the film will be shot on location in San Diego and Riverside Counties, certain scenes require the use of a soundstage, and they will be shot in Arizona.

"I'm really looking forward to working on this film. Everyone involved has, so far, made this one of the smoothest productions I've ever worked on," says Director Kip Shelton. "I also think the cast is amazing and they're going to turn a few heads."

The screenplay is an adaptation of UK author Shaun Jeffrey's novel The Kult. The plot follows Detective Prosper Snow as hunts down a sadistic serial killer. Prosper acts out of misguided loyalty to his friends and is goaded into helping them perform a copycat killing. But when the real killer comes after him, it's not only his life on the line, but his family's too. If he goes to his colleagues for help, he risks being arrested for murder. If he doesn't, he risks being killed.

Both the cast and crew are eager for filming to begin. According to them, "September can't come soon enough."

Please show your support and add the Facebook group to your friends:

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I was in the paper and wasn't arrested to get there

I had a brief article in the local paper this week, and I didn’t have to get arrested either.

Filming of The Kult starts next month (colour me excited), and if you want to help support the venture or follow the progress, then please add or check out the following sites (and if you haven’t already, you could always purchase a copy of the book, which is available in paperback, Kindle and PDF):

I also had a guest blog at ThrillerBlog that merges fact with fiction in what I hope was a humorous way:

In writing, I’m going over edits for my next novel from Leucrota Press, Fangtooth. In a way, it’s my homage to the classic monster books and movies of yore. I recall with fondness tales of giant crabs, scorpions, ants etc, where nature’s creations have grown to monstrous size and woe betide anyone who stands in their way.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What makes you buy a book?

I’m interested in knowing what makes you buy a book. Is it the cover? Is it by an author you’ve read before and you like their work? Did a review catch your attention? Is it the back blurb? Recommended by a friend? Adverts? Samples? Price? While browsing in a shop or on the internet? Or is there something else that makes you purchase the tome?

And once you’ve read the book, regardless of whether you enjoyed it or not, do you review it or recommend it to friends? Or do you only review the books you enjoyed?

Like many authors, I find it hard to get people to buy my books, and it’s a fine line between spamming and promoting (some people might say it’s all spam). Now I class myself as a bottom feeder searching for scraps while the sharks circle around taking the prize cuts, which is why every review and recommendation helps, so it would be really cool if you enjoyed a book, you spent a couple of minutes writing a review or just making a quick post to let people know (any book, any author).

And not being one to miss an opportunity, it’s my birthday tomorrow, and any help spreading word about my own book(s) would be a fantastic gift that costs nothing, but means so much :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour - week 3

Another week, and another blog tour post.

REQUIEM by Heather S. Ingemar

Hattie Locke has a gift: when she sings, the dead dig themselves from their graves to listen. As a death-siren, her life has always been this way.

Then the dead begin to show up in numbers far beyond expected. With each song she sings, they grow pushy and demanding, rushing the stage to reach her. Trapped in a place where her dreams of music become her nightmares, Hattie is left with nowhere to turn.

But then she meets a boy, who promises freedom from her curse.

Now Hattie wonders: is ridding herself of her voice worth losing the music she’s lived to create?

Heather, tell us a bit about yourself and your novella, "Requiem".

In some ways, Hattie reminds me of myself. I came from a musical family, and I delved right into all of it. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I’d mastered seven different instruments, and it was pretty much thought a guarantee that I’d pursue Julliard, or Berkeley, or some other prestigious music school. Imagine everyone’s surprise when I decided to major in English lit!

Thankfully, I had a more-or-less understanding family who allowed me the space to pursue my words (they knew I wasn’t leaving music completely, and they were right; I still play now and then) – however, I faced extreme opposition from others. It was these experiences that I drew on in creating Hattie’s unusual situation. What if my family hadn’t let me do my own thing? What if they reacted like these vehement strangers and teachers and friends who all thought they knew best for me?

Combine that with my morbid streak (zombies! death! magic!), and "Requiem" was born.

DEADFALL by Shaun Jeffrey

A team of mercenaries race to an abandoned mining village to rescue two children held hostage by rogue ex-soldiers. But the kidnappers are a ruse, the real threat more terrifying than any of them could imagine.

Aided by a couple of unsuspecting eco-warriors, mercenary team leader Amber Redgrave must fight to survive against foes that don’t sleep and don’t feel pain.

Now as the body count rises, so do the stakes, and when the dead won’t stay dead, there’s going to be hell to pay.

Shaun, what are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

As a writer, promotion is one of the hardest things to do as you’re competing against thousands of other authors for a reader’s attention. To promote my work, I participate in things such as this blog tour. I post on message boards. I maintain a presence on Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Goodreads and other sites. I help by sending out review copies. I do interviews in magazines and online. But it all takes time and obviously detracts from the writing side of things. I don’t think it matters whether you’re published by a major publisher or a small press one, most authors need to help promote their work. Now readers are a major part of this, and I would ask that if anyone has read a book and enjoyed it, they show their appreciation and help by posting a short review on any of the book sites such as Amazon or Goodreads etc, as it goes a long way towards helping an author along what is a long and lonely road. It only takes a couple of minutes, but I'm sure the author concerned would be most grateful.

For more info on my work, please check out


This week's feature includes a mini-interview with a contributing author, Jaym Gates.

What was it like to write for Aether Age, Jaym?

I have to admit, when I first heard about the Aether Age project, I kind of wrote it off. Like so many other things, I'd heard about it on Twitter, when a couple of guys asked me if I would be involved. At the time, I was in California for a week, on vacation, and heading for some major deadlines.

I said I'd try. I wrote four different starts. My computer crashed, I was trying to put out a wildfire in the writing community I was administrating, I was running too tight on the deadlines as it was. On top of that, it's been established that I don't play well in other people's worlds. I'm an unrepentant devotee of massive, detailed worlds, and had several failed collaborative attempts behind me.

A week before the deadline, I took my retired dinosaur of a computer and hammered out a first draft, a second draft, polished, sent it in 2 days before deadline...before the deadline was extended. The editors asked me if I'd be interested in writing another story. Ok, well, if you insist.

The world of Aether Age is difficult to write in, the first time through. Anything dealing with ancient Egypt or Greece is going to be problematic. The sheer level of detail is boggling, and the confusion. Was this ruler male, female, 1st Dynasty or 20th? Add a complex alternate history, and there are thousands of possibilities. It's like trying to find the one special blueberry in a 5 pound box.

But, it does get a writer thinking. How would technologies change religion? How would airships change economy? How much horror would you get from mixing an unstable, unknown eternity of space with an endless pantheon of gods?

My stories explored the horror. What happens when criminals and monsters are abandoned on a rock, thousands of miles from anything they know, reliant on an atmosphere that goes away every now and then? What are those shadows in the dark? Where did the legends of Hades come from? What new gods would form in the endless depths of space, and how would they be worshiped?

Join me in the Aether, in the Age of Helios, this fall. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.

Check the master site, for links to more blogs and participating authors' info.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour - week 2

If you're planning your holiday, don't forget to pack an exciting book.

This week's Vacation Reads Blog Tour features four new titles, including interviews with the authors, book blurbs, and more. Check for more information at the Vacation Reads web site and don't forget to leave comments on at least one of the participating blogs (see Vacation Reads for the full list), as well as on the site itself, to enter the drawing to win prizes that include copies of the authors' books, and more!

AETHER AGE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Brandon Bell

A past remade…

Take flight on airships, balloons, and wooden rockets. Soar with winged hoplites, exiled princesses, explorers and philosophers. Witness the struggle for equality, freedom, and power like you never have before.

Explore a history transformed and travel into the heavens to discover what awaits the civilizations of Humanity in...

Tell us about this anthology, Brandon. What was it like for you to work as editor?

Aether Age: Helios was my first crack at working as editor. By the time Aether Age grew into something almost ready to open to submissions, Chris Fletcher made the offer for me to co-edit the anthology, probably on the basis of my involvement to that point, coupled with what he knew of me as a writer. Being a decent writer does not equal a decent editor, but I'd also done the guest post on M-Brane outlining my ideas about what makes a good story, so Chris must have believed he had enough data about what kind of editor I might be to feel some confidence.

I've read interviews with editors that I respect and blog posts by writers discussing their experience in magazines and anthologies. Writers sometimes feel betrayed by the inclusion of another story, or otherwise compromised due to an inclusion, exclusion, or lack of editorial vision. And depending on the lens, Chris and I could look either terribly unpromising or a potential win —at least in the matter of a diversity of views: two white guys (ah, hmmm), a gay guy and a straight guy (oh, could be interesting), a non-christian and a buddhist (really?). All these are just details, though. Diversity was never even a discussion we had, it just happened. I'm happy on this point: we have a nice balance of female to male and a great world-spanning contributor list.

Ok, but what about the stories?

Yes, that's what matters. I won't name names, but I find reassurance that the tale I liked least during our reading period has grown into one of my favorites. Story, well told, trumps the most jaded of reader expectations.

Our guiding editorial principle was simply to cover the range of time envisioned with interesting tales that varied in tone. We didn't want a bunch of dark stories or only stories that dealt with swashbuckling and adventure. Though AeA has all that.

Some of the stories are not 'my type of tale'. Not the sort of thing I'd typically read. And I'm really happy about those stories. I know a book like Aether Age, so difficult to blurb or explain, is going to be a hard sell for readers of a more romantic or mainstream bent, but I wish I could put it in the hands of exactly that reader. There's just enough darkness, danger, and adventure to make the gentle moments and so very human relationships echo in the way that only seems to happen when a set of stories are presented as facets of their own history.

We all love superstars. Having a superstar in AeA would help sell copies, for sure. Well, we didn't get the literary equivalent of U2 or The Beatles. And that is good. If you are like me, you've had that pet band you know and love that just never attained the household name-recognition of the superstars. The Mars Volta, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Portishead... notwithstanding my Canadian readers for whom a couple of these ARE huge bands, down here in Texas these are the good stuff that no one seems to know about.

Maybe we have some future superstars in our midst among the AeA table of contents. We certainly have writers who are widely published and making names for themselves. But for now, here's the short story equivalent to the 'educational mixtape' you might put together in the hopes of pulling your hopelessly misled buddies away from Lil Wayne and Justin Beaber.

In that same spirit I present to you The Aether Age: Helios. For your enjoyment and edification.

THE KULT by Shaun Jeffrey

The Kult - People are predictable. That's what makes them easy to kill.

Tell us about yourself, Shaun.

My name’s Shaun Jeffrey, and having grown up in a house in a cemetery, it’s pretty safe to assume I was never going to be writing love stories, and perhaps goes some way to explaining my attraction to the dark side of the literary spectrum.

I’ve been writing on and off for around twenty years, and it never gets any easier. But then that’s all part of the challenge and the fun. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and while everyone may have a story to tell, not everyone can tell it.

Now along with cover pictures, I think taglines are important. They sum up the story in as few words as possible and hopefully entice readers to buy the book. Or at least to give it more than a passing glance. ‘People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.’ That’s the tagline to my novel, The Kult, which is a fast paced serial killer story that contains a mix of horror, crime and mystery.

Is it true that it has been optioned for a movie?

The book was optioned at the end of last year by Gharial Productions, and shooting on the film begins in September. It will be interesting and exciting to see my story brought to life, a story that award winning author Jonathan Maberry called ‘a bumpy ride through nightmare country’. I have two other novels available, ‘Deadfall’ – when the dead won’t stay dead there’s going to be hell to pay. And ‘Evilution’ – humankind is about to change.

Details of these and any other projects can be found on my website: and sample chapters and my previously published short story collection ‘Voyeurs of Death’ can be read for free at


What is your book about, Alix?

Based Upon Availability delves into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women, each who pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel. While offering sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest and twisted moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and death. Trish, a gallery owner, obsesses over her best friend’s wedding and dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out. Southerner-turned-wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors’ lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so desperately wants children, she’s willing to pretend to be pregnant. And Morgan, the hotel manager— haunted by the memory of her dead sister—is the thread that weaves these women’s lives together.

In this an utterly original read, I try to ask and answer the age-old question; ‘what happens behind closed doors’ while examining the walls we put up as we attempt intimacy, and inspecting the ruins when they’re knocked down.

Alix Strauss

NATIVE VENGEANCE by Julie Achterhoff

Julie Achterhoff is the author of three books, Native Vengeance, Quantum Earth, and Deadly Lucidity. They are paranormal thrillers. She grew up reading such authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which influenced her own writing. She has been writing since childhood, scaring her teachers with her horror stories. Reading has also been a great influence on her. Her books can be found on in regular form, and now on Kindle for $3.19 a piece. They can also be purchased from the publisher at You can read parts of her books on BookBuzzr.

Why did you become involved in your particular genre?

I just love scary stuff! It's exciting for me to write stories that will scare people and make them wonder if something like that could really happen. When I was a kid I read every scary book I could get my hands on. I loved H.P. Lovecraft and others that kept me up at night. I enjoy creating characters who are strong, yet also vulnerable, so the reader can relate to them throughout the story. I also enjoy writing a strong storyline that will keep readers engrossed until the very end. I also like adding a romantic element in my books. I think that gives them a little spice. I believe that thrillers are the most interesting books. They can really get to you!

Read more about these, and other great titles at Vacation Reads.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour

Something a little different this week. During the month of July I’m participating with several authors in a group blog tour called Seasonal Reading that will feature different books to lose yourself in during the summer months. My book will feature on another weekend.


1. Each weekend there will be great prizes, including copies of the featured titles, promotional items, and more! To enter the drawing, please leave a comment on one of the blogs AND on the master site at Seasonal Reads.

2. BONUS DRAWING: If anyone features any of the titles on their blogs and sends the link (in the comments section), they will be eligible for a second drawing, to win more of our great prizes.

Winners will be notified in early August.

* * *

ALIEN DREAMS, by John Rosenman

Captain Eric Latimore leads a four-person crew to Lagos to investigate a previous team’s mysterious disappearance. Once there, he discovers that an ominous alien presence is invading their dreams. Each member of his crew has the same dream–huge, seductively beautiful “angels” speak to them telepathically.

The creatures strand his crew on the planet and only Latimore can free them–if he survives.

What is different about ALIEN DREAMS, John?

I think Alien Dreams stands out from other space operas because I tried to open myself to and expand the vast conceptual possibilities of the genre. Captain Latimore faces a unique threat to his crew on the planet Lagos: beautiful but deadly angel-like aliens who invade their dreams. To save his crew, he must not only change into a gigantic angel himself, but mate with their ravishing queen for thousands of subjective years. I believe this erotic scene breaks new ground, as does the hero himself, who is not one but two: a silent brother exists within his mind and ultimately tries to take over. Finally, Latimore must travel across the universe and do battle with a cosmic Gatekeeper for control of the universe. In such areas, I try not only to explore new dimensions but to illuminate what it truly means to be human.

* * *

UNSEELIE, by Meredith Holmes

When Alfhild was a little girl, her grandmother called her a fairy princess and told her all of her favorite tales.

She’d never imagined they were real.

Anxious to avoid the swarming reporters and ghoulish souvenir hunters who won’t leave her alone when her brother Gulliver is tried and acquitted for multiple murders he almost certainly committed, a grown up Alfhild changes her name to Lorelei and flees Louisiana to the sanctuary she inherited from her grandmother, the ancestral home in England.

All is well until she wakes one morning to find a naked man in her rosebush.

And the games begin . . .

Can you tell about your book, Meredith?

I fell in love with urban fantasy by accident–one day I saw a card in a local metaphysical shop, one of those blank jobs that you fill out for random occasions, when you forgot a birthday or need to send a thank you note and don’t like what the mainstream card shops have to offer (you can only deal with so many dancing bunnies and softly flourished flowers, after all). The card had a picture of a autumn-colored man clad in green velvet and wearing a crown of dark leaves. A story sprang into my head about him and I called him Cadfael. By that night, I had the first six chapters of Unseelie written (in their earliest, raw form); Alfhild, Cadfael and Du had taken off and were running away with my plot and the twists and turns of the Unseelie and Seelie Courts were just pouring out into the digital pages. I blithely called it a romance but within a few more chapters, I realized no, it was urban fantasy, a genre I’d shunned as a fantasy purist… Well, fool me! Now that is my genre of choice when I write and I’ve expanded from faeries to include demons, witches, and creatures of all sorts.

* * *

IVAN AND MARYA, by Anna Kashina

Every Solstice, every year, a young girl dies to prolong the life of a madman.

Every Solstice a hero tries to stop them…and dies.

But this is Ivan’s year. Though his brothers plot his death, and the villagers whose daughters are dying warn him not to interfere, Ivan the Fool is determined to stop the sacrifice.

With the help of the immortals, gotten by sympathy, force, or guile, Ivan believes his love will save the beautiful Marya from herself.

Where did the idea for IVAN AND MARYA come from?

I felt that Russian fairy tales have not been explored enough in fiction, and they have so much to offer to a writer and a reader. I built on a most classical one, but also did something different with it. My story is told from two points of view — Marya, who is on the side of ‘evil’, and Ivan, who is on the side of ‘good’, and the contrast between the two creates shades of depth that amazed me when I was working on the story. It was a pleasure to write, and I constantly had this feeling of revelation, as if I am not making this up but uncovering yet another layer of a fascinating world. I also did my best to make it as authentic as possible, down to the details of the Russian Solstice celebration, an ancient tradition that is very much practiced today.

* * *


Tasmin, William’s wife to be, was chosen by a spell, as all wives and husbands are chosen. It’s a nice, tidy way to find a reasonable mate for almost everyone. Unfortunately, Tasmin is from the North, a place of magic and strange ritual, and William is from the South, where people pride themselves on being above that kind of insanity.

William doesn’t seem in a hurry to send for Tasmin, for which none of his family blame him. After all, she’s a barbarian. She, on the other hand, would like to know what’s keeping him. When he’s framed for murdering his patron, Tasmin takes matters into her own hands. She’s gotten to know William from his letters. He’s not a murderer and she’s going to help him prove it.

Someone out there doesn’t like him and is beginning to dislike Tasmin almost as much, and that someone isn’t at all averse to making sure William and Tasmin aren’t around long enough to celebrate their wedding.

Tasmin, of course, has other plans.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I am a part time writer… like everyone, I’m juggling a lot of delicate porcelain plates… one for writing, one for work, one for family, one for fencing. It splits your focus… but it also gives you a lot of great ideas and experiences to pull from. Would I like to be a full time writer? For certain. But I think that being forced to go out and talk to people every day, being exposed to life, enriches me and therefore will, hopefully, be reflected in my work. So, in that way, it affects things positively… in the whole productivity issue, well… sometimes things are not so positive.

* * *

COMPOSING MAGIC, Elizabeth Barrette

Composing Magic: How to Create Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers guides you through the exciting realm of magical and spiritual writing. Explore the process of writing, its tools and techniques, individual types of composition, and ways of sharing your work with other people. Each type of writing includes its history and uses, covering diverse traditions; plus step-by-step instructions, finished compositions, and exercises. Intended for alternative religions, but it can be generalized to others or used by fiction writers to create background tidbits.

Why did you write this book, Elizabeth?

I spotted a gap in previous material — I have a knack for doing that. Pagan/magical books tell people to write their own rituals, spells, etc. but rarely give any guidance on doing it. Writing books tell people how to write in general, but there were no specific guides for magical writing and not many for spiritual writing. I’m good at figuring out how I do what I do and then explaining it to other folks so they can work through the steps. It wasn’t until the reviews came in for _Composing Magic_ that I realized this is a rather rare skill — most of them mention how clear and doable the instructions are. So now I’m trying to make more use of this skill.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kindle and doldrums

Firstly, The Kult and Deadfall are now available for the Kindle:

Kult - People are predictable. That's what makes them easy to kill:

Deadfall - When the dead won't stay dead, there's going to be hell to pay:

There have been lots of good reviews on Goodreads now for both The Kult and Deadfall, but a number of people still point out that The Kult has spelling and grammatical errors. Now I know what the selling errors are, but the grammatical errors still leave me stumped as I can't spot them - but then I guess if I or the editors had spotted them, they would have been corrected. It's embarrassing, but I hope it doesn't spoil anyone's enjoyment too much.

On the writing front, I'm in a slump. I have a novel to go through but haven't been able to muster up the required enthusiasm. As for writing anything new, I have the ghost of an idea, but nothing concrete, and my lack of enthusiasm leaves me questioning my reason for writing, so I have stalled at the post once more. I'm sure I'll get going soon, but it gets harder and harder to continue. I'm in the literary doldrums, wondering what's the point of it all ...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fangtooth, props and tattoos

Now anyone who’s followed me for a while knows that I have a manuscript called Fangtooth that I’ve had accepted for publication twice, and both times I’ve withdrawn it for one reason or another. Well I’m pleased to report that it’s been accepted for publication again, this time with the publisher of The Kult and Deadfall. Yes, I’ve just signed a contract with Leucrota Press for it. Hopefully it’s third time lucky. When I get the green light, I’ll post a picture of the cover. The tag line: There’s something in the sea. Something ravenous.

As for the film, a post has been made in The Kult film update about props. I hadn’t really thought about them before, but the article makes me realise how important they are, right down to a tiny thing like a pill bottle! Please feel free to check it out and let me know what you think: I’m planning on flying out to see some of the shoot, so I’m just waiting on a schedule so that I can make arrangements. Really looking forwards to it.

As a celebration of all that’s happening, and as a reminder that dreams can come true, I’ve booked an appointment with the tattooist for July 30th (day after my birthday for anyone who wants to buy me a present;)). I’m having my full sleeve done, combining the tattoos that I already have on one arm. I’m planning on a Japanese theme of samurai and koi. The tattooist I’m going to is one that I used to visit 25 years ago, Kev Shercliff of The Midlands Tattoo Centre. There’s a sample of some of his work here:

On the reading front, I’m currently delving into two books: Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden and The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)
by Guillermo Del Toro. Highlights so far in the Zombie antho have been Tim Lebbon’s ‘In the Dust’ and Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Family Business’. Lebbon has crafted a poignant story that pulls at the heartstrings, and Maberry has crafted a hauntingly realistic world in the zombie aftermath. The Strain has its moments, but I’m finding the factual interludes distracting as they drag me out of the plot, but it’s well written and engaging when it concentrates on the story.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We visited the Staffordshire theme park, Alton Towers today (rode the worlds first free fall drop roller coaster, Thirteen - very good), and it reminded me of an artical I wrote a while ago. I had sold the article, but the magazine it was going to appear in went bump, so I thought I'd post it here:

Back in 2000, a new attraction called Hex was unveiled at the popular UK theme park, Alton Towers, which resides in the sleepy heart of Staffordshire. Apart from the ancient castle in the middle of the grounds, Alton Towers seems like any other amusement park with its sinisterly named white knuckle rides like Nemesis and Oblivion. But the Hex attraction stands apart, as it’s based on a true legend.

Advertisements proclaimed it was unlike anything else the park had to offer. It’s not a ride in the conventional sense, but a multimedia tour based around a local legend that goes like this:

“On an autumn night in 1821, the Earl of Shrewsbury was returning to his home in Alton Towers when an old woman suddenly appeared in the road.

The coach stopped to find out why she was there, at which point the old woman begged for a coin.

The Earl cruelly dismissed her, so the old woman placed a curse on him: 'For every branch on the Old Oak Tree here that falls, a member of your family will die.' The Earl dismissed the old woman and carried on his way.
That night, during a violent storm a single branch from the old oak tree broke and fell. Later that same night, a member of the Earl’s family suddenly and mysteriously died. To prevent any more deaths the Earl ordered his servants to chain every branch of the tree together to prevent other branches from falling. To this day the oak tree remains chained up.”

Now although I had been on the Hex ride a couple of times, like most people, I presumed the legend was ‘made up’ for the benefit of the attraction. But then I discovered that the chained oak supposedly really existed in a wood outside the park, and that as a result, the legend had a basis in fact, not fiction.

Intrigued, I wanted to ascertain the chained oak’s validity for myself, and so with my family in tow, I set out to find it.

According to articles I found on the internet, the oak tree could be found a mile or so away from the theme park, in a place called Dimmingsdale wood.

Despite the use of satellite navigation, I still had trouble locating the wood, which didn’t bode well for finding a single tree, but eventually, after navigating a narrow lane only just about wide enough for the car, we arrived at a parking spot from which to begin our search.

With the help of a little advanced internet research and a modern day global positioning satellite system, we exited the car park on foot and proceeded into the trees. After a couple of false starts, we crossed a bridge over the river, and made a steady uphill climb through the green mantle. But as the trees crowded closer, the foliage overhead played havoc with the GPS and I kept losing the signal – at least I told myself it was only a result of the foliage, as I recalled reading online posts from other people that had set out to find the chained oak, only to have been waylaid by misfortune, from simple things such as their cameras not working when they wanted to photograph the tree, to people falling and injuring themselves, or being involved in car crashes after leaving the site.

With the GPS now out of commission, we proceeded up the path, in the direction that the device had indicated before it gave up the ghost. As we climbed, I became aware of a distant rumbling that reverberated through the ground, followed by bloodcurdling screams that gave me pause for thought. It took a moment to realise it was just the adrenaline fuelled cries of the brave souls riding the rollercoaster’s in the theme park somewhere in the distance, and not some distant echo of past tragedies.

As we continued, I spotted a set of stone steps set into the bank up ahead, trailing beside which were rusted chains. Heart pounding, I looked up and there it was, the chained oak.

From the number of branches that had fallen from the tree, if the curse is real, the Earl’s family must now be decimated, but it is still an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

One large branch lay beside the steps. It broke off in 2007, and the present Earl of Shrewsbury, Charles Chetwynd-Talbot was happy to report at the time that no member of his family died as a result.

Chains had been assimilated by the wood that had grown around it, revealing that the chains must have been in situ for a considerable time. And they certainly weren’t dainty little chains either, but big, clunking rings of metal as big as my fist that had rusted over the years.

The boughs creaked in the slight wind, creating an almost unearthly timbre, and dappled sunlight cast lurid shadows, adding to the ambience of the place, a place where fact and fiction intertwined like the branches overhead.

Standing in quiet contemplation, I tried to imagine the people that had climbed the tree to attach the chains. Some people say the tree was chained for nothing more sinister than a hoax. Others say that the chains were used to pull things up the bank. Yet others say they were used for some form of witchcraft ritual. Whatever the reason, someone had taken the considerable time and effort to attach them. But it is certainly easy to imagine that they were attached upon the Earl’s orders. After all, the eighteenth century was still an age of superstition and among the populace, the belief in witchcraft and a hundred other superstitions still flourished, so being cursed would certainly encourage someone to do whatever they could to stop it coming true.

Another story behind the chained oak is no less intriguing, and states that at the opening ball in the Banqueting Hall, the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury hosted nobility and royalty. Into their midst came an old man, hoping to earn a night's keep by telling their fortunes. Mocked and ejected by the company, he turned to the host and said: "Every time a branch falls from the giant oak by your entrance, so will a member of your family fall and die". The next day, the Earl had all its branches chained.

A third version goes that the Earl's son was out riding the next day and as he passed the old oak tree the woman had been standing under, a branch fell on top of him, knocking him from his horse and killing him. This story is slightly more plausible, as there are records of a riding accident around that time.
Another piece of the puzzle that adds a touch of authenticity to the tale is that in 1807, a coach road was cut through the wooded dell, and it used to be the main thoroughfare to Alton Towers, and it is on this road that the chained oak stands, and so would have been used by the Earl in 1821. The road is now reported to be haunted by a headless horseman (that of the felled rider?), which is easy to imagine as you stand beneath the creaking branches.

There is certainly an eerie atmosphere surrounding the area, and whatever the reality behind the chained oak, as we left, I couldn’t help thinking about the screams ringing in my ears. Whatever their origin, they couldn’t be more fitting, and I’m sure that as with many things, at the heart of the mighty oak there might yet lie another story, a story far more sinister than the fiction.


And finally, a third casting call for minor characters for The Kult film will be held on June 26th at 9 am. 41133 Raintree Court, Murrieta, Ca 92562.