Saturday, 28 September 2013

Fairy Lights - Coming Soon from J. Ellington Ashton Press


Not long now!

On a whim, I decided to put all of my short stories together to make a collection. I've already self published one set of stories (Some Body's At The Door), and had another published by Dark Hall Press (Over The Bridge), and I thought that these new stories (around 50,000 words' worth) were interesting, creepy, and a little bit different.

There are interior monologues and streams of consciousness. There are real frights, and fiendishly amusing delights. There are tales of children going where they shouldn't, and adults behaving badly. It's not just the humans who get it wrong either - there are ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and some things that can't be named.

I sent the collection, entitled Fairy Lights after one of the longer stories included, to J. Ellington Ashton Press. Many of my online friends and associates from the horror community had good things to say about this new and exciting press, and I felt that my stories would be a good fit.

They were!

Catt Dahman of J. Ellington Ashton Press contacted me to offer me a contract, and of course, very excitedly and with a faint air of light headedness, I accepted. Fairy Lights was on its way to being published.

The cover, as you can see above, is complete, thanks to the incredible Susan Simone who used her artistic talents to create something suitable scary. I love it. I hope you do too.

Edits are currently underway, and the plan is to release the book on Hallowe'en (of course!).

Since there is still a little way away, here is a teaser from a story called Little Witch:

Would she rather burn or drown?
It was the kind of question that kept Jasmine Bird awake at night, keeping her from dreaming the sweet, pink dreams of childhood. It was the kind of question that she only asked out loud once because all it would earn her were sideways glances and gasps, never an answer.
 It was also the kind of question that intrigued her and interested her and made her wonder. The witches had to answer it when they were accused. They had to make that terrible decision. How could they? One decision left them struggling under the water, writhing and twisting as their lungs burst and the weight of the life-taking liquid pressed down and down and down on them, crushing them to death. The other had them tied to a stake so tightly that their fingers stung and their fingernails dropped away, dripping into the flames that quickly, caught hold of flesh and blood and hair and ate them up, piece by piece. The heat and smoke of their own skin cooked and blinded them.
Jasmine shuddered delightedly when she thought of it. Not of the pain, not of the indignity even, but of the surprise that the murderers – because that was what they were, not judges, not juries – would have when the charred or sodden bodies came back to life and haunted them forever. It only served them right, after all. Who would have thought a good little girl like Jasmine could think of such terrible wickedness? 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?

Where do you get your ideas from?

It’s that question. The one that writers detest and interviewers love.

But why do we dislike answering that one so much? Or do we? Perhaps, now, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; we’re told that we should hate it, that’s it’s anathema to our creativity. And therefore, when we hear it, we do hate it, it does feel like giving away too much. Even if we have an interesting response. Even if we’re quite sure that our readers would like to know the answer.

I don’t mind it. If I’m honest, I quite like it. As a question it’s much better than being asked why I started writing (umm… I just did… I just gave it a go and quite liked it… er… something about school and an English project…) or why I write horror (I enjoy reading it, I enjoy writing it) because I never have proper answers for those ones. I always feel a bit of a fraud, a bit like I’m grasping for something – anything – to say just to sound interesting and intellectual.

At least with that question I can answer with either a piece of pure fabrication, or complete honesty. It simply depends on whether I can remember where the idea came from, and if I can whether it was an interesting occasion. Although, admittedly, even when telling the absolute truth my answer will vary from day to day, story to story to novel to flash fiction to poetry… Because that’s the beauty of it. Ideas come from everywhere and nowhere. They are incredible, intangible things that appear in a dream or a cloud or are gleaned from an overheard word or a misunderstood laugh. They are magical, existing in nothing, invisible and incomplete until they are written down and given form and meaning. 

If I were asked where I got my idea for my current novel, I might say it was the main character, Jude, who came first. Just popped into my head. Or was it a dream? Did I see him on a train, or walking down the street? Perhaps I based him on someone I know, or someone I’d like to know, or someone I’d never want to know. Or I could say that it was the thought of murders that looked like accidents, and that that idea came from a newspaper, or I looked at a bus and wondered what it would be like… well, you know. It could even have been a song I heard on the radio. Maybe I didn’t quite catch the lyrics and made up my own, and maybe they led me to my first line, which then set the tone for the test of the book.

Say anything. When asked that question, say what you like. Because who is to say what is right and what is wrong when answering, when telling the person who put the question what they want to know?

Equally, who can describe an idea? Not me. They aren’t there, are they? They aren’t real. Except that they are, utterly and incontrovertibly real. Without them we’d be nothing. And not just writers, but scientists, artists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, children, adults, anyone and everyone. Think about it… There, you’ve just had an idea. Just like that.

Now what are you going to do with it?