Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Short Fiction Contest Winners



It's that fun time of the month where I read all of the entries for the latest short fiction contest and pick the winners. I'm always impressed by the standard of entries that I receive and this month proved no exception. Considering the image there was also a wider range of stories than I expected. So I've had a fun day reading through them. Picking the winners wasn't easy, but I've picked three that I think you'll appreciate.

Before announcing the winning stories I'd like to thank Tom Long for allowing me use his incredible picture. I'm sure you'll agree that it provided excellent inspiration!

And now for the winners:
  • First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to John Boden for 'The Going Rate'
  • Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Kath Middleton for 'Dead End'
  • Third Prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Matt Porter for 'Friend or Foe'
Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to everyone who supports this contest by sharing the links. Please continue to do so your help is much appreciated.

The Going Rate by John Boden



Cloth over  mouth, her breathing slowed. She looked so much like her mother. If it weren’t for that bitch, he wouldn’t be doing this now. She left him with their daughter so she could “Find herself,” left him with a replica of herself, one that called him Daddy and a mountain of debt.

It was a tax month and  Denny had to pay in. He rubbed his eyes and watched the clock. The Collector would be by soon.  Looking at the bill and the amount owed, he picked up the shears. 

He knelt beside the sofa and stared into his sleeping daughter’s face. He took her hand in his,  folded the fingers, allowing only the pinky to remain extended. Holding it between his thumb and finger, he slid it between the blades. The bones snapped with a small crack. The girl winced but did not wake.  He grabbed the ice pack beside him and held it against the spurting stump, then took the shoelace and tied off the base of the finger as tightly as he could. 

He picked up the finger and wrapped it in the proper form, stuffed it into the red envelope and went to the porch. The porch lights winked on one at a time. There were three lights crying red.
He slid the clear pane from the light box and swapped it for a red panel of glass. 

At the end of the street, a shadow broke free, a long shape that took on more detail as it stretched to the center of the street.  Denny stepped back into the house ,closing the door. He peered through curtains as the Taxman approached.

Tall as time and as long as hours, it strode down main street,  boots clicking on asphalt. Its fish-belly skin glistened like fungi. A black suit, stitched with black hole and strychnine. Taxman's arms ended in hands like squid. Impossible fingers, like lengths of living rope.  He stopped at Ordini’s house, stepped on the porch, knelt and picked up the red envelope from the mat.  The thing swiveled in the direction of Denny’s house. It smiled at him. The smile was stitches and railroad ties. The eyes that nested above it, were beetles in cataract flesh. 

The Taxman tore open the parcel and extracted something red and dripping.  He ate it, reached into the mailer and with a bloody finger, drew a large circle on the door.  The light went out on the  porch and the Taxman was back in the street. 


Denny had watched it collect its wages. A tongue from the Melvoins; Old man Mellick must have owed more than anyone, for his envelope bulged ,a hand dangling from the unsealed end.  

Denny sighed and sat on the floor, he could not bear to watch this thing eat his little girl’s finger,  to see its face up close. His wife had always done the taxes, knew the ins and outs, not him.  Had he still had a tongue, he'd have screamed.

Dead End by Kath Middleton


It has been reported in some of the more dubious press outlets that 3.7 million Americans believe that they have been subjected to alien abduction. Ridiculous. Why would aliens choose one nationality above others? I know that they don't. They took me.

I lost a week from my life last year. I went to bed as usual and when I woke I assumed it was the following morning. I felt a bit sore but otherwise I had no reason to think anything was amiss. People asked where I'd been when I went into work 'next day' and I didn't know what they were talking about. Reality came back slowly, like the snatched morning memories of nightmare.

I went to bed one night and woke, sedated and partially anaesthetised, in a gleaming laboratory staffed with metal ‘workers’. I never knew where it was situated: on a ship: on another planet? An ovum was removed from my body and returned fertilised. I was left alone then, but for the metal beings which brought me food and drink and removed my waste products with mechanical efficiency. My belly swelled at a frightening rate and three days later the true nightmare began.

The hot, tight mound of my abdomen began to lurch and writhe. It appeared that the gestation period was mercifully short. I lay upon the couch, groaning as my body tried to wrench itself apart. I was mortally afraid. I did not see any of my abductors so, thank god, I didn’t know what the father of the hybrid child looked like. I struggled to expel it, screaming both in pain and in rage at the violation of my body.

With one final lurching contraction I expelled the monster in a slurry of stinking mucous and it lay, writhing and tormented, between my trembling thighs. It was unnaturally thin and long and had been curled, folded, within me. It stretched and opened a ghastly mouth ringed with needle-like teeth and I could immediately see that there was no throat, no oesophagus. This thing could not feed! I felt elated and hoped they would discard this as a failed hybridisation experiment.

They returned me to my bed at home but the horror is not yet over. Unwilling to admit defeat, the alien beings seem bent upon keeping this creature alive, perhaps to backcross it and introduce some element of its genetic make-up into their moribund species. I am not expected to feed it as I would a human child. Thank god! But they return it to me every night to clutch at my body, lie along the length of me in a travesty of a human hug, and leech the life-force from my body as it grasps me with its cold, sticky limbs.

This cannot go on. I am losing weight and will not live much longer. When I die, it will die too, this hybrid disaster; this evolutionary dead end. I am happy, on both counts.

Friend of Foe by Matt Porter


Children are born without prejudices. They won’t make assumptions based on skin colour, or gender. They’re pure, a piece of clay to be moulded. Of course, some things have to be taught. Don’t touch the flame, it’s hot. Don’t touch the knife, it’s sharp. Other things we take for granted though. Little Tori’s parents didn’t think to tell her to stay away from the infected. Because why would they? It was obvious. 

So the first time Tori encountered one, she didn’t know what to do. To her, it was scary looking, sure. Its face was barely human anymore. Colourless, unblinking eyes constantly surveyed its surroundings. Faint, wiry strands of hair were all that remained on top of its head. Its mouth was the most terrifying of all, sharp fangs interlocked each other across the front of its face. She wasn’t actually afraid though.

In fact, she thought this man looked quite sad, but she didn’t know why. She had stumbled into this room accidentally, and found him huddled in the corner, shying away from the light. His breathing was heavy, perhaps he was sick? His beady eyes watched her as she skipped towards him. With the man bent over, she was just about as tall as him.

“Hello, I’m Tori. Are you okay?”

The man in front of her didn’t reply, he averted his gaze, scanning the rest of the room. Tori frowned. 

“We have some medicine if you want it, my daddy keeps it in a box.”

Still no reply. The man was panting harder and harder, almost trembling. She put her tiny hand against his forehead. 

“You feel warm.”

The man suddenly stopped heaving and simply looked into Tori’s eyes. 

“Do you need a friend?” She asked.

A commotion erupted outside.

“Victoria?! Where are you?”

Suddenly, Tori’s parents burst in through the door. 

“Oh my God, Tori, get away from it!”

Her mother rushed towards her, grabbed her up into her arms and dived onto the floor. The creature huddled in the corner quickly straightened out, and seemed to seethe with rage at the incursion. It snarled, but before it could act, Tori’s father aimed his shotgun and fired. The headless creature twitched once, and crumpled to the floor. As the noise from the shot died down, Tori’s screams still echoed around the room. Her father moved over to where her mother was cradling her child on the floor.

“What were you doing? Those things kill people!”

“I thought he was lonely, I was going to be his friend.” 

Tears were pouring from her eyes. Her parents explained to her what the infected were, and how dangerous they could be. Despite that, for the rest of her life, Tori never forgot her friend in that small room, and the frightened look he gave her just moments before he died.

Sunday Story - The Thrift Store Tome by Randy D Rubin

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Author - Shubi
Randy contacted me after he'd written a story for September's short fiction contest. The story was too long to be considered for the contest but after reading and enjoying it I said that it had to be featured in this week's Sunday Story - so here it is!

The Thrift Store Tome by Randy D Rubin

If I’d stayed another minute at the house I’d have killed her. The rage was building in me, percolating like an old coffee pot with the hollow glass ball on top. I jumped in the car and took off. Fuck that crazy bitch I married! I’m so sick of her smart-assed mouth I could slap it to the back of her head.

First thought: Let’s go get rip-roaring, shit-faced drunk down at the pub on Thirteenth Avenue and King Street. Then I could drive home and beat the shit out of my wife and claim it was a blackout. Nah, it’s not worth the domestic charge. Then I saw the Thrift Shop sign and decided to cool off and look around; might just find a hidden treasure and salvage a perfectly shitty day. I pulled in and parked without incident.

After a bit of browsing I meandered to the back of the store where they keep all the bookshelves of mostly worn out paperbacks and old cookbooks, a few hardback books had caught my eye and I wanted to check them out. I only buy hardback bound books and have found some really good ones at this particular ‘Thrift’. There were a few large boxes of books off to one side of the wooden shelves and out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked to be a very old binding, possibly leather, with one corner of the book jutting up out of a stack. There was a blue bookmark tassel hanging out of the bottom I and knew we might be onto some little treasure hidden amongst the trash boxes.

I yanked the book out of the box and when I saw what I had, I wanted to hide it from the view of my fellow Thrift Shop shoppers. The excitement was building in me and I could almost feel the adrenaline injection coursing through my body. This book was old and leathery and it smelled of age. It had that delicious ‘old book scent’ that only bibliophiles can truly understand. It was beautifully bound in what looked like calf’s skin, (hell, it could have been human baby skin for all I know) and it had the most ornately carved leather strap closure with a tarnished silver buckle that by itself had to be worth the price of the book. “I may try and cut that silver buckle from the tome when I get this beauty home.” I thought to myself.

I turned it over twice in my hands, standing now away from the shelves and boxes of books so as to have a bit of privacy while I examined my find. There were no words on the cover of the book. There was no Title or Author’s name anywhere to be found. I scrutinized it very carefully, looking for any clue as to what the book might be about. My curiosity got the better of me and I unbuckled the leather strap. For the first time since I left my house, I thought about my wife and kids, and some ominous feeling of foreboding swept over me. I thought of my kids growing up and my wife moving on with her new life and them going on without me. I pulled the buckle loose and lifted the strap out of it. The tome felt heavier in my hands. I felt a mild tingling going up my arms. I couldn’t stop now. I had to see what this book was all about. I had to know. I had to know what was written within these dusty pages and I opened the cover and I read the large letters on the title page that appeared to be written in ancient blood. A blood so dark with age it was at long last black and that’s when the blood raced from my own arms.

I ran to pay for my purchase. I had to have this book, had to peruse all its promised secrets. I had this fierce desire to know its every word and study its text in great depth. I tugged at the buckle, still intent on ripping it from the binding and selling it at the nearest “WE BUY GOLD” place to recoup my money. My head swam with a dizzying euphoria as I trotted out to my pick-up. I held tightly to the tome, not wanting to let it go. I jumped in the driver’s seat and opened it to the title page again. The excitement was causing me to hyperventilate. I had found a priceless antique treasure here. I was sure of it. This book, without that stupidly expensive binding buckle, had to be worth a small fortune! It had to be, for Christ’s sake! I fumbled for my truck keys, only to drop them in the floor. My chest hurt from all the excitement, my arms, my hands down to my fingertips were completely numb. I dropped the book in the seat next to me, unable to hold onto it any longer. If what I just read were true, this book could very well hold the secrets to… good God. The pain in my chest, my arms… I can’t catch my breath! The Book did this! That damned, Ahhh! I can’t see my… the secrets… in the book. I shouldn’t have opened it… Somebody help me. Somebody please help…

About the Author:

Randy D. Rubin is a retired US Navy veteran and writer of dark fiction and even darker poetry. His is the featured poet at The Horror Zine.com's September issue. His 2 horror novellas, "The Witch of Dreadmere Forest" and "The Legend of My Nana, Miss Viola" can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. He is a proud grandfather of three grand-creatures and lives with his faithful dog, Eva LaRue, in a hundred-and-thirteen-year-old haunted house in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Check out Randy D. Rubin's books at: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday Poem - Dusty Grins by Adriano Bulla

This week's Friday Poem is 'Dusty Grins' by Adriano Bulla who has a poetry collection called 'Queer Poems' due for release soon. Enjoy his poem and discover why he wrote it below:



Dusty Grins
by Adriano Bulla

Cold nights behind the hollow masks
Of wealthy teeth and rich refrains
With faces dull and dusty grins
Smug in the warmth that doesn’t ask
Of others’ paths and walks away
In silent stares to cobble stones
That echo darkness left unseen
By steps that quicken with dismay
And crave forgetful locks on doors
So keen
To keep the words without that stir
The dormant fossil of the soul
Like coal
With sparks and wind to breathe and seethe;
So, dampened down with dry old drops
The paces drum
And faces
Drown for want of change – they don’t
Exchange a word, a look, a smile,
But hide behind the surge of bile
Which spins
On faces dull and dusty grins.

This poem is dedicated to everyone who needs a roof, and about everyone who, when they see a homeless person asking for change, walks off, ignoring them, as if they did not even exist. You have no change to spare, fine, at least share a smile, a word, an acknowledgement: the person asking, is a human being...

Author's Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7209201.Adriano_Bulla
Twitter Handle: @Bulla_Adriano
Gay Literature on Adriano Bulla (extracts, reviews, bio, links): http://ww.gay-literature.com/texts/adolescents/adriano-bulla.html
(They are so kind they have dedicated a whole subsection of their site to me).

Book Impressions - How Not to Self Publish by Rosen Trevithick

I've enjoyed both the author's children's and adult books and in particular the humour she injects into them. I've found humour can be hit and miss in books and she's one of the few authors who nails it for me. As well as her writing she is also very active in the indie author community supporting other authors. What we have here is a departure from her usual books and is a guide to becoming a totally splendid hotshot author.

This isn't a how to guide in the traditional sense. The book comprises of a series of loosely themed anecdotes and what if scenarios that new authors (especially those who are self published) often encounter. The humour makes this an easy read and a fun one even if you aren't an author. There's some crazy stories in here but there's also some useful tips, so while it might not be a guide in the usual sense I would recommend it to authors old and new. Even with the crazier stories there's an element of issues that all authors will encounter at some stage.

As I say it's also a fun read even if you aren't an author and everyone should know what to do if their laptop is eaten by a crocodile!


Rosen Trevithick has threatened to eat celebrities, produced a podcast in which she interviews herself and posed with a gummy triangle stuck to her face – all in the name of marketing. Yet she has somehow managed to shift over a quarter of a million books.

A keen advocate of ‘What works for one probably won't work for the thousands who try to replicate it’, Rosen recommends finding your own path, with a focus on learning from mistakes rather than success stories.

Penned using a combination of her own catastrophic blunders interspersed with wry observations, How Not to Self-Publish provides a light-hearted, informative and sometimes surreal look at selling books in the modern world.

Cover illustration by Katie W. Stewart.

Click here to buy How Not to Self Publish: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Thursday, 28 August 2014

ABC Drabbles of Death - O is for Orgasm



Welcome to the second in a drabble double bill today and the latest in the ABC Drabbles of Death series. I enjoyed writing this one and the last line made it for me :-) If you've missed the previous drabbles in the series, or just want to read them through again then you'll find them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/welcome-to-first-drabble-in-my-new.html

O is for Orgasm

The French call an orgasm ‘le petite mort’, or ‘the little death’. At first glance it sounds like an odd phrase for such a moment. The instant which marks the culmination of union between two people. The passing of something intimate between them that can be recreated, but never truly the same.

A transient sacrifice you might say.

Personally I believe sacrifice should have value. So I slice the blade across their throats as they grunt and shiver their satisfaction above me. Their little death a damp patch between my legs and their real death a flood across my face.

Tales of the Imp - The Stud



The latest drabble (100 word story) in the Tales of the Imp series is here (and featured in today's Indie Book Bargains newsletter) and we discover what a hard life it is being a pawn of the diminutive devil! If you haven't read the previous drabbles in the series, or just want to recap then you will find them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/tales-of-imp.html

The Stud

Someone once told me that you can’t have too much of a good thing. Well they’re wrong! I’m absolutely bloody knackered. Every night the Imp brings me a new woman and he makes me have sex with them.

It doesn’t sound so bad when I say it like that, but before each session he injects me in each testicle.

That gets old quickly I can tell you!

When I complained he gave me an energy drink and told me to man up and get on with it. After all I have an army of bastards to sire.

Wait a minute!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Blog Shout Out - Carmen Amato's Author Blog

In this week's blog shout out we visit Carmen Amato's author blog. Discover more about her blog in her own words below:


Thanks so much for the invitation to stop by and chat about my blog at carmenamato.net. The blog is a little over 2 years old and was started to introduce readers to my books and the issues that inspire me to write. Originally from New York, I have lived in some unexpected places and Mexico and Central America provided the impetus for my writing career.

So far all of my books are set in Mexico, including political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the EMILIA CRUZ mystery series set in Acapulco, and the blog is a place to show readers the culture and history that inspires my writing. For example, the third book in the Emilia Cruz series, DIABLO NIGHTS, draws on the story of Padre Pro, a martyr of the Cristero War, a religious upheaval in Mexico that took place in the late 1920’s. DIABLO NIGHTS just came out in Kindle format, with paperback to be released later this summer. In addition to posts about my research, I announce new releases there and link to the free stories I periodically publish. Right now readers can get the first Emilia Cruz story, THE BEAST, free.

I love reading mysteries as well as writing them. Besides issues related to my own books, I write a weekly book review. Some of my recent reviews are of IN THE WOODS by Tana French and THE BAT by Jo Nesbo.

But the blog is more than just Mexico and mysteries. It’s a place for readers to enjoy all things related to reading and book discovery. I’ve done two series that readers have really enjoyed. The first was the Book Savor series in which people from all walks of life answered 5 unexpected questions about the books they savor, such as a book they’d give as a gift and what they’d serve for dinner to their favorite author, living or dead. The dinners were so terrific that I wrapped up the series with a “best of” dinner post! The series meshed well with other posts about culture, history, and travel, much of which is based on my experiences living and traveling around the world.

The second series asked the question “How can bookstores survive in the era of ebooks and ecommerce?” I asked the question of authors, store owners, book bloggers, and publishing insiders. The results were extremely interesting. I wrapped up the series, after 7 months and more than 800 emails, with 5 Lessons Learned. That was a real eye-opener, although the most-read post from the series was entitled “25 Influential Authors Weigh In,” and included quotes from Guy Kawasaki, Tim Grahl, Dale Brown, and Bernard Cornwell, among others. It is also the most widely shared blog post of all, although the page with the dream cast for THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY (starring Eva Mendes, Sophia Vergara, and Andy Garcia) is far and away the most popular page on my entire website!

An issue that keeps coming up for both my readers and fellow writers is one of time management. I think my next series will be about using time effectively. Why? To make more time for reading, of course!

Thanks for stopping by carmenamato.net and I hope readers enjoy the free story, THE BEAST.


All the best, Carmen

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tuesday Tease - Necropolis by Guy Portman

For this week's Tuesday Tease Guy Portman provides an excerpt from his novel 'Necropolis'. I read this recently and rated this story about a happy sociopath working at the council as 5 stars. It's an excellent read with a fun blend of dark and humour. Check out the excerpt and see if you agree:

Click on image to buy book from Amazon

Necropolis
by Guy Portman

Lunchtime finds me at Bella’s Restaurant and Cafe, sitting amongst the detritus of a once proud nation. Periodically the council organises these lunches as an opportunity for different departments to come together and get to know each other better. I already know them better than I would like, but these lunches are not optional. Today Burials and Cemeteries are joined by bins, the mail room and those social services staff members who were off sick during their own department’s luncheon the other week, which was about half of them.

‘All wight Dyson?’ shouts Darren from the other end of the table.

‘Good afternoon.’

‘Wherz Asma?’ continues Darren. ‘Nah halal chickin caesar on da menu den?’

Darren laughs wildly at this. Stern faces stare back at him. Darren stops laughing.

‘All wight all wight - f-a-k-i-n h-e-l-l.’

Here comes a late arrival dressed in a ghastly floral ensemble. It is the mailroom manager, T-r-i-c-i-a. ‘Sorry so-r-r-y,’ she calls out as she hurries over to the table. There are two spare seats, one next to Darren, the other next to me. No not me, no, no, oh no.

‘Really nice hair Dyson, love-l-y.’

Though I really want to reciprocate with a compliment of my own, it is impossible under such circumstances. Instead I turn my attentions to the menu. Bella’s is Italian, well allegedly anyway. Chicken Kievs are not Italian and I am pretty sure neither are fish fingers.

Alice, sitting in the adjoining seat, regales the table with details of a Guns n Roses tribute band’s concert he went to last weekend. My end of the table listens semi-attentively. Alice, not his real name, works in the mailroom. I call him Alice because he looks just like the ageing rocker, Alice Cooper. Like the real Alice he sports a mane of black hair and wizened, heavily lined features, but for record sales read envelopes. Alice halts his reminisces and reaches for the table salt. Into the resulting vacuum comes Meagre Martin, Alice’s mailroom colleague. The long-haired Meagre Martin is devoid of a chin, the face receding abruptly below the lower lip. A shrew like countenance, identical to a primordial dwarf I once saw in the mall, though he is not that far removed from normal size. Meagre Martin mentions his biker fraternity. Moans are audible, faces turn away. Meagre Martin is a biker want-to-be, severely restricted by financial constraints. He comes to work on a pitiful moped type thing with heightened Harley Davidson style handlebars; his weekends spent making ever-smaller circuits of the A909, a result of continually increasing fuel prices. A waiter approaches.

‘I’ll go with the, the tagliatelle, and a, a coke, full fat.’

Opposite me bins’s own Irene begins to quip. It is the usual torrent of misguided media obsessed political correctness. Irene once got Darren and I in trouble for saying ‘nasty things’ about hamsters that made a vegan team member cry. To look upon Irene is to stare into a looking glass, into a world of cheap retail outlets, suburban cul-de-sacs, Sky television itineraries, frozen Iceland trifles and Co-operative Funeralcare plans. Irene is telling a story now, something about a trip to the supermarket. Those on my half of the table attempt to look interested, sitting up straight, nodding sporadically. I take this opportunity to analyse the information I have collated on Kiro so far. His similarity to Darko in size, stature and most pertinently the eyes, as well as the potential logic behind his alleged nationality and the fact he does not wear t-shirts. I consider whether there is any other information that might be available. There is one more avenue of investigation that I have been planning, but have had to put off as Emma has been away for several days. She returned today. The story has finished. People are laughing. I laugh too, ‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.’ Maybe that was too much. Yes it appears so. In a suspiciously short amount of time my lunch arrives.

Irene asks, ‘Is that a tagliatelle?’

‘Purportedly.’

‘Is a pur-port-edly a sort of sauce?’

Looking up at the ceiling I marvel at how I have survived these daily intellectual deprivations for so long. I do not proffer a response.

Click here to buy Necropolis from Amazon US / UK (and it's a superb read)

About the Author

I currently reside in London, the city of my birth. Having finished my schooling I studied for a B.A. in Theology at Kings College London, a subject that I chose out of interest rather than any religious persuasion. I also have an M.A. in Sport and Leisure Management from London Metropolitan University.

My working life has included being employed in academic research and the sports industry, where I spent several years at a Premier League Football club. I have also traveled extensively, living and working in both Sydney and Tokyo.

Besides writing, editing and promoting my work I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. My other interests include sport, social media and the outdoors.

http://guyportman.com/

Book Impressions - The Heretic by Lucas Bale

I might have missed this new gem if it hadn't been for a few readers whose opinion I trust raving about it. This is the author's debut novel and the first book in his 'Beyond the Wall' series and lived up to the praise I'd heard. It get's going quickly and well paced throughout in a tense adventure that for this story is quite claustrophobic in nature.

The immediate action drags you in to the lives of the characters involved and I felt for them straight away. There's a good mix of personalities, some seem obvious and others are more mysterious. I'm always saying that story is king and I'm happy to accept some clumsy prose if the story is good. Here we have the gem of good quality writing to carry an excellent and interesting plot. Some of the description really stood out and for a first novel is impressive.

The quality extends to the action prevalent in the later part of the book. Not only is this well written it draws more on the characters in the situation rather than the technology as happens in many science fiction stories. Although there was an interesting development on that front which I'm looking forward to learning more of.

The world that the book takes place in is well realised. However one of the aspects that struck me was the glimpses of the wider universe that are dotted throughout the story. There's potentially a lot to explore here so I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. With this world is a history that reaches back to our own time and the consequences of choices that are made and how they effect the future.

This is fine science fiction adventure and a strong debut from a new author, may there be more to come from him.

Click on image to buy book from Amazon

Earth is gone.

Centuries have passed since the First Cataclysm ended life on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home.

A new Republic has formed – one in which freedom no longer exists. In return for the protection of the Consulate Magistratus, citizens must concede their rights absolutely. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology – even procreation. Every citizen is implanted with a device to monitor location, health and nutrition, and emotion. Perhaps more. Organised religion is forbidden. All crime is punished by banishment or a lifetime of penal servitude aboard the Kolyma prison fleet.

And humanity’s true history survives only in whispers of a secret archive.

Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free.

A revolution is coming…

The Heretic is the first book in the Beyond the Wall series, an epic story about the future of humanity and the discovery of the truth of its past.

Click here to buy The Heretic from Amazon US / UK (and it's a stunning sci-fi adventure)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Win a Signed Copy of Faust 2.0

Here's your opportunity to win a signed paperback copy of Faust 2.0. I'll also give away three e-book copies (epub, mobi or PDF) to the runner ups. Just use the Rafflecoptor widget below to enter:




The Internet witnesses the emergence of a new entity.

Is it the rebirth of an ancient evil in a new realm? Or something more dangerous?

A sexy looking avatar is granting wishes for people across the Internet. But nothing is ever truly free and for those accepting the gifts a terrible price must be paid. 

Sarah Mitchell must learn the truth of this creature and stop it while it can still be stopped. She must also find out why a mysterious lawyer is present at every step.

Faust 2.0 is the first book in the new Mitchell & Morton series.

Faust 2.0 is available from these online stores:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/XQ5L77
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/1csv15q
Buy now from Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://bit.ly/1nLA8BX
Buy now from Kobo: http://bit.ly/1rGRItx
Buy now from iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id689253733
Buy now from iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id689253733
Buy now from Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1mSaDT3
Read now on Scribd: http://bit.ly/UWSGqE

Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/Faust2point0

Guest Author Interview - David Meredith

David Meredith joins me in today's guest author interview to tell us about his latest release 'The Reflections of Queen Snow White'. Discover more about him and his writing below:

Click on image to buy book from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is David Meredith and presently I teach English in the Nashville area. I have lived in Tennessee most of my life, but spent just under a decade between 1999 and 2010, with a few short breaks here and there, teaching English in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I think I’ve always had a little bit of the “writing bug”. Even as far back as elementary school I would write stories on notebook paper and bind them together with marker-decorated shirt boards. In middle school and high school I wrote some truly atrocious poetry and crappy fan-fic. I would certainly never want anyone to read it now, but those were experiences that helped me to grow as a writer. I think however, that I have always had stories inside of me that I felt especially compelled to get out onto paper, perhaps not so adeptly in the beginning, but I have since refined my craft and have started putting out work that I am really and truly proud of.

Where did the idea for 'The Reflections of Queen Snow White' come from?
It was originally a short story that I wrote back in 2006, but was inspired by the death of my grandparents. In the space of about four months both of my grandfathers as well as my wife’s grandmother and grandfather died suddenly, so we were attending a lot of funerals. I think that funerals by their very nature lead to a certain amount of introspection about one’s own mortality, but what struck me most was actually not sadness at our grandparents’ passing. All of them were quite elderly and had long, fulfilling lives after all. What I was actually more impacted by was the devastating effect that their deaths seemed to have on my surviving grandmothers. Both had been married over 60 years, my grandmother on mother’s side having never even dated another person, marrying right out of high school. It led me to wonder - when your life has been so intertwined with that of another person for so long, how do you pick up the pieces and move on? That was really the initial idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I think my tastes have gotten more eclectic as I’ve gotten older, but I still have a strong affinity for fantasy works. Probably out of every ten or so books I read these days six to eight of them are usually fantasy. Some favorites are of course Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time. I also really like the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy. However, titles like Shogun, The Stand, and Lonesome Dove have also eked out a permanent spot on my book shelf.

Which author do you most admire and why?
There’s not just one, but a few I’ve really admired are Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien , Neil Gaiman and James Clavell among others. With Tad Williams I most enjoy his straight up story telling ability and skill at emotionally connecting his readers to his characters. With Tolkien I really appreciate his expert, even poetic use of the English language to create vivid images in his readers’ minds. With Gaiman I quite appreciate his sense of humor and irony. Finally, with James Clavell, I am really impressed by his ability to get inside his characters heads and portray them as unmistakably human with all of the motivations, hang-up, and imperfections that all the rest of us have. It really makes his work both believable and relatable.

What makes your writing stand out?
I would like to think that I employ the best elements of my favorite authors intermingled with my own appreciations and experiences to craft narratives that are evocative, emotionally engaging, and real. I always strive to make my readers feel something when they read and so far think I’ve been quite successful at it. No matter what I write I always strive to build that strong emotional connection between reader and character, because if you are successful doing that anything else that happens in the story is going to be more impactful.

All authors enjoy a good review, what has been your favourite so far?
With The Reflections of Queen Snow White it has been the ones (and there have been several) where the reviewers said I made them cry. It really made me feel like I did my job well.

What are you working on at the moment?
A couple of things actually… The first and biggest is a positively massive project I started way back in December of 2004. It is an epic fantasy series based not upon the western medieval model that is so prevalent in modern fantasy literature, but rather based upon Japanese folklore, culture, and mythology. I’m currently shopping it around to traditional publishers, but may end up self-publishing it sometime in the next year or so if I don’t get any takers. The other novel I’m working on is at least tentatively titled Aaru, and is a little more sci-fi leaning. It is really about the intersection of technology the individual and the end of life. I’m still working on the first draft of that one, but hope to release it within the next 6 months to a year as well.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
The Reflections of Queen Snow White is an adult novel that is essentially about dealing with grief and loss – picking up the pieces and finding purpose again when “happily ever after” ends. Here is a synopsis:
What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter's wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Princess Raven's fiancĂ©, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead. 

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

It is available for Kindle on Amazon here

So far the reviews have been really positive and I hope all of your readers will download a copy!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Last Week for The Cult of Me's Half Price Sale

This is the final week of The Cult of Me's half price sale. If you're undecided about reading this supernatural thriller then take a look at some of the comments from Goodreads reviews I've copied below. If they liked it so much then maybe you will too!

"This book is so hard to define. It’s a dark, psychological thriller but also philosophical, metaphysical and totally unusual. "  Kath Middleton

"In a nutshell, The Cult of Me is for you if you like characters with a tortured mind and if you like psychological thrillers/conspiracy theories. It deserves its 5 stars because this is the kind of book that I would have read in one sitting, had I been able to. It just drew me in." Frenchie

"It is a real feather in Mr Brookes cap that most writers create a main character that is either a likeable sort or so bad that you can hate them. The main character in this book is ultimately self serving and cynical but even so you still hunt for indicators that he could be redeemed and just occasionally there's a glimmer of possibility, it only lasts for a moment before the author mercilessly dashes it. But, however often your hopes are dashed, you still feel that there may yet be hope." Marie Brown

"Brookes offers an interesting anti-hero with his novel and promises more in the sequel Conversations in the Abyss where the trilogy continues. I liked his narrative voice and the story flowed very smoothly. It'll make a great read for fans of action, suspense and intrigue. " Amanda Lyons

"This is a meaty, lurid read but don't be fooled. The excellent writing and plotting will stay with you long after the book has reached its Apocalyptic conclusion. The anti-hero is totally unlovable, but it seems as if his strange gift enables him to get inside the readers head and mess with it, just as he messes with peoples' heads in the book, often with devastating consequences. " Jayne

You can find these and more reviews for The Cult of Me here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15778078-the-cult-of-me

What review will you leave?


In my youth I developed a talent for reading other people’s minds and with practice, forcing my will upon them. I have never encountered anyone capable of resisting my thoughts and for a time I enjoyed the fruits of my power. A terrible tragedy led me to a darker place and then I wielded my ability not simply to satisfy my desires but to torment and judge the throng of humanity around me.

Years passed until I realised that my life lacked meaning and I lived without purpose. It wasn’t a difficult change to make. And with that choice I have one final act to inflict upon the world and they will remember my name with fear for ages to come.

The Cult of Me is the first book in The Third Path trilogy.


The Cult of Me is available from these online stores:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/1qfIIt0
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/Ot1Ze1
Buy now from Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://bit.ly/1pGQMUu
Buy now from iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id639396634
Buy now from iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id639396634
Buy now from Kobo: http://bit.ly/1jrsHxq
Buy now from Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1o1t6rD
Read now on Scribd: http://bit.ly/1mliOB5

September Short Fiction Contest

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Author - Shubi

Welcome to September's Short Fiction Contest here on The Cult of Me. We've had a few scary faces for recent competitions so I thought I'd pick an image of something a little more mundane - a scary book! Only kidding - it doesn't have to be a scary book. Remember that the stories for the contest don't have to be any certain genre, it's well written stories I'm looking for, not whether they fit into a particular genre bucket.

Entry to the contest remains free and there are prizes for the three winners. I will also feature any of the stories that don't win but I believe are worth showcasing on this blog.
  • First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment
  • Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment
  • Thirds prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment
The money for the prizes come out of my own pocket, although I do make a little from advertising on this blog. So if you see something of interest then feel free to click on the links and purchase away! If you haven't tried my books yet then check them out at the top of the page, as well as buying a good read you'll be helping this contest.

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by October 1st 2014.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:

  • Only one entry per person.
  • The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  • Closing date for submissions is September 20th 2014.
  • By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to post the story on this blog. I do ask that I post it here first.
  • You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  • The judges decision is final.

Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. Great stories deserve great readers!

As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!

KUF: http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/thread-13760.html

Goodreads (UK Amazon kindle Forum group): http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/977021-michael-brookes-horror-science-fiction

Kboards: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,152168.0.html

If you've started you're own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Book Impressions - The Engineer Reconditioned by Neal Asher

I'm a big fan of the author's novels but these are the first of his short stories that I've read and I'm pleased to report that they're a fine read. The opening story was the highlight for me and for me is one of those stories that illustrates what I love about science fiction. It tells the story of first contact with an alien that has been dormant for millions of years. What I enjoyed was the attention to detail and the unraveling of the mystery of the Jain (the alien race if you're not familiar with the books).

There's stories in this collection that touch on all of the major book series he's written and provide some interesting insights and  connections. While I'm a big fan of the Owner series the short stories didn't grab me as much as the novels did. They're an interesting hint as to the Owner's future and it also reminded me of the adage of sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic.

Overall I enjoyed these stories, not quite as much as the author's novels but they were a fine read.

Click on image to buy book from Amazon

Mysterious aliens, ruthless terrorists, androids with attitude, genetic manipulation, punch-ups with lasers and giant spaceships! What more do you want?

Reprint of The Engineer with three additional stories.

The Engineer
Spatterjay
The Owner
The Tor-beast's Prison
Tiger Tiger


Buy The Engineer Reconditioned from Amazon US UK (and it's an excellent sci-fi read)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

ABC Drabbles of Death - N is for Necrophobia




Our macabre journey through the alphabet continues and this week we reach the letter 'N'. Choosing the word for this week's drabble proved tricky as there are so many suitable choices, in the end I chose something a little bit humorous :-)

If you've not read the previous drabbles in this series then you will find them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/welcome-to-first-drabble-in-my-new.html

N is for Necrophobia

I first discovered my fear of dead bodies at a young age. My nan had died and when my parents took me to view the body I freaked. Not so strange you might think, but it wasn’t grief which scared me.

The same happened at the death of my parents and then at the sight of a car crash. Whenever I saw a dead body fear overwhelmed me.

It’s not been that big a deal except for those few occasions. Of course things are different now and a paralysing terror of dead bodies isn’t that helpful during the zombie apocalypse.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Blog Shout Out - Tales of Terror Blog

For this week's blog shout out we visit Paula Cappa's Tales of Terror blog. Discover more about her blog in her own words below:



Reading Fiction, Tales of Terror Blog
by Paula Cappa

I'm a reader and a writer of supernatural fiction, quiet horror, and paranormal mysteries. I began Tales of Terror because I wanted to read a wide variety of classicauthors in this genre and what better way to explore the masters of this art than in short stories? The blog was born so I could share my findings with other readers.

I feature one author every week with a free link to the short story. The blog content is a brief invitation to read the story, not a review or summary but a 'taste' of what the story is about, and has images. I post every Tuesday, authors like Ambrose Bierce, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, A.C. Doyle, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.G. Wells, Edith Wharton and many more. I also include an audio version of the story and sometimes a film from YOUTUBE. All links are free.

One of my most popular posts was The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions. Also The Ensouled Violin by Helena Blavatsky. I happened to love ghost stories so I feature them a lot.

I recently reached my 100th post, with nearly 17,000 views and well over l00 followers and building more every day. This is a good short story blog to follow for not only supernatural and horror readers, but also for writers in this genre to read a short story a week by the master writers. I have some followers who are English literature teachers: I feature many literary authors: Blazac, Chekhov, Dumas, O Henry, Marryat, Stevenson, Twain. Just this past week, I featured W.B. Yeats, his mystical short story, "The Curse of the Fires and of the Shadows."

I will continue to explore these authors and their art as this not only assists me with my own writing in this genre, but also is a joy to read a short story every single week and share it with my fellow readers.

http://paulacappa.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tuesday Tease - The Atholl Expedition by Alex Roddie

Not only is Alex Roddie a talented editor (he recently edited the second edition of The Cult of Me for me) he writes mountaineering fiction. Now I'll admit that as a genre it's not one that interested me, however I took the plunge with one of Alex's earlier books The Only Genuine Jones and discovered a fascinating adventure with some excellent characters. This later release is on my TBR list and I'm looking forward to reading it - take a look and see if it tickles your fancy:

Click on image to buy book from Amazon

The Atholl Expedition by Alex Roddie

The favourable weather lasted no longer than half a day.

Duncan sweated at the rear of the hunting party as they struggled up the southern flanks of yet another mountain. He had no clear idea where they were. For a few hours after dawn the sun had blazed down on them as it climbed into the heavens, and Duncan had tramped upwards, tormented by the heat, swatting midges out of his eyes and following the pony as she picked the most efficient path through the rocks. They had not lingered at the waterlogged bealach between the two mountains, for such places were blighted by a miasma of bad air that was known to cause disease.

The wind began to pick up after an hour, and by noon a veil of high cloud had completely obscured the sun. The humidity of their ascent soon turned to a dangerous chill. Every man in the party wore clothing dampened by the sweat of his exertion, and now the north wind stole body heat from them with every step.

Albert plodded grimly at his side. He hadn’t spoken for an hour or more. Duncan wondered what thoughts might be passing through the mind of the Prince in this wild and remote place. Did he miss his wife and family? Was he bent purely on his single-minded pursuit of the prize, or did his thoughts return to weighty matters of politics and state?

Suddenly they emerged at the most savage and breathtaking location Duncan had ever seen in these mountains.

They had been following a burn uphill for a while now. The waters were often hidden beneath masses of old snow as they flowed down a furrow in the mountain. The hunters trod cautiously over this sugary carapace, and Duncan followed his father’s footsteps, wary of concealed voids. Sometimes he could hear the water gurgling and foaming below his feet. The surface was so dirty and blown-over with grass and dust that it hardly looked like snow at all, but resembled the rocks to each side: a desolate expanse of grey, pock-marked and rippled like sand on a beach.

McAdie led their party to the source of this burn: a bealach between two mountain peaks. The wind blasted shreds of freezing mist through the notch, and in the gale Duncan could smell an imminent blizzard. An ache of foreboding settled in his bones as he approached that fearful place.

A boiling confusion of cloud hid the landscape here and there, first obscuring it completely then revealing it for a dazzling moment before covering it up once again. Duncan had never climbed this high before. To his mind this notch in the mountains was the very gateway into the hell belonging to the Bodach: a world forbidden to men, a kingdom of monsters and savage forces, of avalanches and death.

He raised a hand before his eyes to shield them from the terrible wind. Ahead, he could see no distinction between the snow on which he stood and the churning white of the sky. The ground trembled and groaned beneath his shoes. He raised his eyes to the mountain peak on the right: a vertical cliff, monstrous to his eyes, fringed by dripping icicles that reached down like claws into the abyss beneath.

His father stood on a rock, leaning over the edge, trying to penetrate the veil of cloud which filled the amphitheatre below. Duncan flailed through the snow in his direction.

‘Where are we?’

‘Stay back!’ McAdie warned. ‘There’s a barraman here. I cannae see the edge.’

Barraman: an overhanging ledge of snow, poised to fall into the depths and kill any who stand upon it. Such evil traps were constructed by the Bodach and had claimed many a victim over the years.

Duncan felt the first flakes of snow whipping past his face, carried on the strengthening northerly. August snow was common in the high mountains, but today, after such a fine sunrise, it was an evil omen.

‘We must climb down there.’ McAdie pointed into the whirling darkness beneath them.

Albert struggled to his feet. ‘Down there? Are you mad?’

‘If the hart wasnae in Glen Geusachan he’ll be in Garbh-coire for sure. This is our route down.’

McAdie took a step forward, sinking up to his ankles in the snow; then another step, and another, probing the ground ahead with the stock of his rifle. The fury of cloud blasting over the ridge obscured his outline so that he became little more than a wraith in a matter of seconds.

The landscape devoured him. Duncan turned to Albert, quaking inside but determined to make an outward show of confidence.

‘You heard my father. No time for resting until we’re in the corrie below.’

Albert nodded. The snow was beginning to stick to his moustache and he shivered in the cold. For a moment Duncan thought he detected fear in the great man’s expression, but with a stoic smile Albert banished his doubts.

‘I trust you. Lead the way.’

Duncan followed his father’s footsteps to the edge of the abyss.

The wind increased with every step he took, grasping at his sleeves, tearing at his face with pellets of ice, striving to push him back into the mortal world. The snow sapped the warmth from his feet and made it harder to ignore the fatigue which had built up over days of hard work and poor rest. Such conditions killed men regularly, and in truth Duncan was mortally afraid, for they were entering the realm of the mountain spirits where the boundary between life and death was as narrow as a thread.

A man is an atom here. We do not belong, and we survive only by the grace of fate.

A rotten fissure gaped in the snow at his feet. Clogged with debris blown in from the corrie beneath, natural forces had sculpted it into the most fantastic shapes imaginable: a frozen morass of twisted crests and sinkholes, cracks and waves. He stepped over this barrier with care.

Beyond it, his father had kicked a trench in the overhanging lip of snow. Snowflakes blasted through this gap into Duncan’s face, momentarily blinding him. Footsteps led down a slope of unremitting steepness on the other side: a clean sweep of a hundred yards, perhaps more, although much of the descent was hidden in the murk. He could see his father descending on all fours some way beneath, facing into the slope.

He turned back to address Albert. The Prince was coated in driven snow from his boots to the crown of his head, and he shielded his eyes with a hand as he staggered in the relentless wind.

‘Mind how ye go, sir,’ Duncan shouted at him. ‘It’s awful steep.’

‘The pony will never make it down here! This is madness!’

‘Trust her! She’s a better climber than any of us.’

The mountain roared as Duncan began his descent, and in that roar he heard the unearthly cry of the Bodach.

Click here to buy The Atholl Expedition from Amazon

About the author

Alex Roddie is a writer of historical fiction set in the mountains. He’s spent a great deal of his life up various hills, and his time living in Scotland from 2008 to 2011 has proved an endless source of inspiration. His novels The Only Genuine Jones and The Atholl Expedition are tales of adventure based on the emerging mountaineering culture of Britain in the 19th century.

His author website is www.alexroddie.com.

Alex is also a freelance editor providing affordable services for indie authors. When wearing his editing hat he hangs out at www.pinnacleeditorial.co.uk.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Guest Author Interview - C. Robert Cales

C. Robert Cales joins me in this week's guest author interview to discuss his latest release 'The Bookseller'. Discover more about him and his writing below:

Click on image to buy book from Amazon
Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My friends call me ScaryBob. C. Robert Cales is the name on my novels. I write paranormal thrillers and I’ll define that because some of my scenes taken out of context might be grounds to question my assertion that I do not write horror.

Horror has a tendency to be plot driven with only enough character development to allow the reader to know who the zombies are about to eat. My version of horror, if you insist on calling it that, is character driven. I create a soft spot in the reader’s heart by giving them characters full of life. My intent is to engage the reader on an emotional level. Love and hate become tools, but before any of that happens I plant the seed of horror, although almost subliminal. It’s a whisper in the darkness.

I leave tidbits for the reader to discover, like sharks teeth among shell debris at the edge of the water. If the reader takes the time for a walk along the beach they will find them. Looking for them from a speedboat is not very productive. If a reader is willing to walk the beach and make friends along the way they will likely be terrified by my stories. Readers who want zombies in the surf as soon as the walk starts will probably not get me as an author. An author can’t make every reader happy. My primary goal is to make myself happy and expand my circle of readers as I do so.

What first inspired you to start writing?
The short answer is that my imagination had a gun to my head and it was either my fingers or my brains on the keyboard. The long answer is that I was born with a triple dose of imagination. At the tender age of ten I became addicted to the horror genre at the hands of Christopher Lee as Dracula. When I was about sixteen my imagination started demanding an outlet. I thought about making movies, but even to my teenage mind the startup costs were prohibitive. Pencil and paper, on the other hand, were dirt cheap.

I was born with the imagination, but writing skills are acquired through hard work and practice. I dabbled in science fiction and political intrigue, but nothing was satisfying me. When I wasn’t pursuing the writing craft I was feeding my addiction to horror. Addiction to horror means I watched anything with the slightest promise of delivering the next big scare. When it comes to scary movies there is a great deal of very lame crap. I was leaving one such movie, grumbling to myself that I could do that good. It was at that instant that I witnessed a three-way collision between my imagination, my love of horror and my need to write.

And what attracted you to writing horror, sorry paranormal thrillers?
Hahahaha! Yes, paranormal thrillers. Horror is what clicks with me, but I see the problems with it, namely the usual lack of character development, of course that’s not something I learned right away.

Whenever someone sets out to teach themselves to write they need unwitting mentors. They need to study the works of the masters of their chosen genre. The mentors I selected were Stephen King and Anne Rice, who seemed to represent polar opposites of the spectrum. Each of them taught me very significant things. Stephen taught me the value of character development in The Stand. Stu Redman and Larry Underwood had been traveling together. I loved both of these guys. It came time for them to part and go on their own task. Five simple words absolutely crushed me. “Stu never saw Larry again.” Oh my God, what Stephen did to me. One of my friends was going to buy the farm and worse yet I didn’t know which one. Oh, the agony! Oh, the lesson! Anne further defined that lesson by taking the vampire Lestat, a bloodthirsty killer, and turning him into a beloved character. Stephen, Anne, if you happen to read this interview, thank you.

Which author do you most admire and why?
Honest, I’m not looking at the questions before I write the answers, but it seems that I’m ahead of you since I’ve already answered the question, for the most part, anyway. Stephen King and Anne Rice were my selected mentors and they drove me to become the writer I am. Everything I wrote was compared to their best works and I was not inclined to accept anything less from myself.

The Shining scared the bejesus out of me, but the mechanism was very subliminal. Night shift, scary story, mirror, a volatile combination. Yeah, you see it coming. Story details fresh in my mind, making night rounds, catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror, come out of my skin. Yeah, I want to be the writer who serves up that kind of brew.

The Mayfair Witches of The Witching Hour, the vampire Lestat of Interview With A Vampire, when I think of the worlds Anne Rice has taken me into I get goosebumps. That’s the kind of writer I want to be.

Yes, I know. You asked for which author I admire most. I’m sorry, I can’t choose.

Where do your best ideas come from?
I have an imagination that runs 24/7, but the answer isn’t quite that simple. I develop the concepts and the main characters and then I turn it over to my imagination. I watch as the story develops. In the beginning I only know how the novel ends in the most general terms only, the bad guy gets it. I don’t know how, where or by whom until it’s revealed to me. Now here’s the kicker. I’m sure the entire story is already written and stored somewhere in my subconscious mind. Occasionally I take a misstep in the story and when I do I’m introduced to a good case of writer’s block. When I go back and correct whatever sin I’ve committed against the master plan the creative flow returns.

One possible answer to your original question about the source of my ideas is a little creepy. It’s an invisible alien intelligence. Maybe I’m not the one dreaming up the ideas. Maybe it is. Maybe I’m forced to write. Oh, God, I’ve been enslaved by an alien ghost with a deep desire to scare readers.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Early in my pursuit of the writing craft someone told me that my characters were like cardboard cutouts moving around in the story. I don’t remember who it was, but it was my first lesson on character development.

Regardless of how dynamic the plot might be, if it doesn’t have an impact on characters with depth, the story will be flat and lifeless. There is also a counterpoint. All character development and no plot is boring. The author’s job is to reach a reasonable balance.

The lesson on character development really came home when I was working on my first story, Devil Glass. It was originally a short story and after three or four rewrites it still didn’t have the impact I wanted. That’s when the whole thing about character development really came home to me. When I finally identified the missing element I knew I had to write a novel.

What is your favorite word?
Wow, talk about a low blow. That’s a little like asking me to identify the most beautiful woman in the world. That’s a nearly impossible feat. Every time I focus on one ten more line up next to her.

If I had to pick one, you know, gun to my head kind of thing, I would want a word that connects with all things, focuses on the innermost being, the first prime number, the beginning of all things. That word would be I. I is the root of the human experience and there is where you find the heart of good writing. I think. I feel. I love.

What are you working on at the moment?
It’s my third novel. In coming up with a title I had to use the powers granted to me by my poetic license. I had to coin the word reincarnology or the technology of reincarnation. Reincarnology describes an alien technology discovered circa 1625. In twenty-four hours the technology produces a twenty-something clone of the donor complete with all memories. Throughout the centuries they have been inducting gifted people into endless life. They have managed to keep the secret for four hundred years, but their secret has been slowly transforming them into psychopaths. Someone recognized the truth and has defected. The secret is in the hands of a journalist and is about to be exposed. Plugging the leak has become their sole focus. If they fail there is a plan to eliminate the need to keep the secret. They are going to kill the population chained to the wheel of life and death. They are going to kill all of us.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
My latest release is The Bookseller. The Bookseller is a bookstore across Tremont St. from Boston Common, owned and operated by George Saunders, a lovable rare book dealer. The bookstore and residence above was a wedding present from his father-in-law thirty years before the story begins. George is married to his college sweetheart who runs a coffee parlor in a corner of the bookstore. The coffee parlor is the morning meeting place for other business owners on the cobblestone mall. Their lives are about to be turned upside down.

Carlos Ramirez, drug lord, child molester, murderer.....that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nonhuman spirit, hundreds of past lives, billions in treasure, bloody footprints across history, memories of everything. His best men have developed a process for infusing liquid cocaine into the pages of books and withdrawing it at the destination point. Carlos is looking for a bookstore in the perfect location for acquisition to complete the next step of his plan.

My Goodreads link is https://www.goodreads.com/scarybob

On my blog you can read an interview with Carlos Ramirez. Much to my surprise the journalist from my third novel volunteered for the assignment. Who am I to deny that kind of initiative? He’s not sure he will ever be the same. Chilling.

My Books on Goodreads