I Wish You A Merry Christmas

I’m dreaming…


The father of Christmas, December’s paternal watcher, glides through the night. Blooded in green and red, driven by horned beasts that pedal the air with cloven hoofs. If you listen right, you may hear the bells on the wind.

Outside ghouls ice the windows. The wind chases itself through the skeleton trees. On high the moon hangs huge and fat in a nest of ink. Perhaps we will be gifted with the white rug coming down, perhaps not, but all truths of Christmas remain in our heart and our memories, and we can bring these forth in nostalgia, in movies and music, in simple sights and inventions, and in possessions by those Yule spirits that infest even common wood and stone with mulled fireside haunt.

Think of A Christmas Carol, and think of It’s A Wonderful Life. Think of Dickensian London, with snow on every day, feathering down onto black top hats and bonnets, feathering into the mass quilt. Drifts of Yuletide carols pass around gloomlit corners, hang under streetlamps and tip-toe the cobbles.

Think of good things in your life, things that have happened long ago and were good then and will always be good, and good things that will yet come to pass.

If you do not celebrate or officially recognise Christmas, enjoy your own festivities whenever they occur in the year, and leave others to theirs. Do not seek to ruin things that bring others joy or meaning.

Do not focus too much on semantics, or past meanings. The origins of things are never clear cut, nor are they often what they seem. Now, you make your own meaning. Christmas can be as religious as you like, but it need not be so necessary for others. Things change. Things are always changing. Whether your celebration be Christian, pagan, or secular, it is at its heart a festival about sharing.

Yes, you can never hear it enough: Christmas is about sharing; company, food, drink, gifts, cards, love, laughter, and life.

Do not think too much on the commercialisation of Christmas. Where there are gifts to be bought there is always money to be made. Think instead on those receiving such gifts. And remember, the thought is what counts.

To give is to receive.

November is old age, and December is the death of the year. Christmas is the year’s deathbed. A deathbed is no place for grievance, for old hate, for worry, for hubris. It is a place to forgive, to make amends, to make the most of what is left to you.

Hold candles to keep the darkness at bay, or embrace it as an old friend.

Take the time to be thankful for the good things.

If you have a home, be it costly, dirty, and broken, on this day be thankful.
If you have food, be it cheap, tasteless and out of date, on this day be thankful.
If you have a friend, be them unreliable, stubborn and offensive, on this day be thankful.
If you have family, be them difficult, irritating, and stuck in their ways, on this day be thankful.
If you have health, be your nose running, your body exhausted and your head aching, on this day be thankful.

Baubles and tinsel, multi-coloured jewels that glow on green needles. Presents wrapped in bows and glitter huddle together for comfort, gifts awful and brilliant, asked for and unwanted. The December Father looks in at the windows, nods his head. He pulls away the sprites with big eyes and sharp teeth, who remain outside under the knives of winter. You’re under his protection now, just for now, before he retires to his polar battlements, sailing long over seas where blue tentacles of northern Cthulhus whip the waves.

Drink, eat, and be merry.

Do not be an island among islands – calm usual angers and encourage good feeling, good sentiment. Remember the unspoken charities: charity to family, to friends, to strangers and to enemies. Charity can be in mere words.

Reach out. Make effort where you did not before. Think about the lives of others, even those you do not know so well. Think that, at our core, we all share the same experiences: those of life, love, strife, hurt, loss, and confusion. Give a present or card to someone you never gave a present or card to before. A gift does not have to be big or expensive; it could be homemade, and it need not even be a material thing at all.

People want, and need to be thought of, especially at this time of year. Tell someone you love them, you like them, that they are a good person, that they deserve happiness and if you had it in your hand you would give it to them first.

I am a misanthrope most days of the year, and regularly filled with pessimism, cynicism and frustration, and I do not really know what non-romantic love is, and yet on this day I love you all dearly.

If you are with others on Christmas, treat them as well as you are able. Pass over your differences. When a tongue should be held, hold it. When laughter should flow freely, free it.

If you are alone on Christmas, remember that not even in the darkest and most silent of times is there such a thing as true loneliness.
Put your ears to the floor, and listen. Listen carefully.
Do you hear it? Do you feel it?

They are awake, and they are listening back.

Merry f. Christmas,

The Watcher

Here is a complete short story, which will feature in the upcoming compilation Faces in the Dark: A Short Compilation of Paranoid Horror.

It is also available as a standalone for Kindle.

I wrote this quite a long time ago now. It’s inspired entirely by not being able to sleep. I hope you enjoy it.


The Watcher


The air is black, and I do not sleep. The hours tick by. I do not sleep because someone is watching me. The hours toll by and my eyes are open.

In the dark, clouding my vision, I sense his presence. Like a reflection in a mirror he just watches me, hovering, or crouched, at times only inches from my face. He waits for me to look at him, but I never do, and so I never sleep. I fear him in the night, but in the light, when I am brave enough to look, he is never there. He is gone.

I know my surroundings out of the day, but through my imagination they have changed in the night. There are the walls, cracked and bleeding plaster, and the floor, rough, thick and scarred. The pictures around my room leer down at me, faces twisted like demented effigies. The room is no longer the semblance of order and right; it has spiralled down through waves of unease into a macabre cage, a prison of the dark.

My imagination runs further, deep into aberrant horror, and I see above me large black spiders crawling over the ceiling, the size of children’s hands. Their legs are permanently crouched and bent, as if ready to spring down onto me. They are shadows and nothing. They are the focal point of my hallucinations. He can control them, make them spring, with a word, but for now he says nothing.

I never look at him, I never know his name, but I always feel it is on the tip of my tongue. He makes no sound, but I can imagine it, should he ever open his mouth, as an ethereal moan, or a throaty racking groan. They would be at turns sadistic and pathetic. I pity him. He is a ghost. There is no corporeal body; he never truly belongs to this world.

The air is black, and still do I not sleep. There is no promise of a dawn; perhaps it may never come. Perhaps I will remain stricken to this bed forever, my eyes always open, and someone always watching me and my fear. I long for an end, for some burning light and sanity to sear me into reality.

I think I know what he looks like. He is clad in ragged cloth, which in the day would shine lurid white, but which in the night is merely images and shapes, fleeting and cowardly. His hair is dank and matted, strewn over his ragged face, and his eyes are worn and tired, the eyes of someone who never sleeps. Behind his eyes can be seen worry, and some semblance of neglect, and also evil, and anger, and hate. He is angry at me, for I never look at him, and for this he hates me; yet he must also love me, for he never leaves while the night still reigns. He knows nothing of the goodness of love.

The black air starts to scare me now, and I want him to go away. Terror is like a rolling wave washing over me and sending me shivers and cold clarity of the threatening silence that tries to engulf. I switch on the light by my bed, and the soft glow throws shadows around like paper. I dare a quick glance around my room to see if he is gone.

He is still here, but he is hiding in the shadows. I think he is close. I breathe in dryly and then I cannot resist as he climbs in my mouth and into my body, where he whispers to me, so quietly I cannot hear any words, just morbid intentions and whining pleas.

He cries out deep in the abscesses of my mind; he calls for rebellion and misanthropy, for anger and disgust, for guilt and the ending of all things that are good. I try to push him out but he has set up throne; he is reigning in demons and ghouls. He is everybody now. I have never known anything else.

Eventually he leaves, to wriggle into a gap under my bed, into the welcoming gloom. I can still feel him boring into me, puncturing my life. An hour creeps slowly and agonisingly past, and then another, with every second like a dead weight on my chest, until dawn finally seems to come, the thin sun slowly burning its way through my curtains. I crawl out of bed and open them, to flood the room with a dreary grey fire, to chase the shadows and the darkness away. Simple and natural illumination to destroy the phantasms of the night.

My room looks normal by day. The pictures are all blank on the clean walls. The floor is simple carpet. The ceiling is bare. There is nothing frightening anymore. There is nothing to fear anymore. He is gone.

I hear, or think I hear, a knock on my door, as the birds chirp their dawn chorus. I open it but there is no-one there. I look around the corridor but it is empty and barren.

Perturbed, I step away from the door, which quietly closes before me. I shrink back further into my room, feeling a slight chill, and a small sense of unease creeping up my back. Too many nights without sleep, I think.

There is another knock. I open the door again.

He is there, in the day. He has taken control now. It has taken time, but he has broken me. He is there, in the day, clad in white rags, with his arm outstretched. Maybe he has come to shake my hand. Maybe he has come to kill me.



Moral Zero extract #3

Moral Zero is a dystopian thriller with post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, existential and horror themes. Contains visceral and potentially disturbing sexuality and violence and is not for everyone, certainly not the faint of heart and stomach.

It is currently self-published as an ebook and can be found on Amazon for Kindle here.

Disclaimer: The lack of speech marks and other idiosyncrasies are deliberate.

Here is another extract from it.


Unidentifiable insects roamed the walls with sneering abandon. This place was theirs first and would be theirs still after the humans and semi-humans and all their creations were long dead. Even the moments when you couldn’t see them you could hear them, tickling the inside of the walls, and in the silent seconds each of their tiny legs resounded like clacking boots.

The last attempt to paint the place must have been in some previous age of humanity, when humans cavorted naked and whooping as nought but shaved apes. As if we had only regressed since then, evidenced in this maggot’s palace. The water ran, just about, and the plumbing worked on occasion, but any upkeep and maintenance more than that was the stuff of fancy. Was the place ever liveable? Perhaps in that previous age. Before whoever owned the place had turned their attention to things of greater import, such as dealing, gambling, prostitution and snuff rackets.

The place was a front, that was clear. But Mr White kept his head down and his eyes blinkered and he made sure he knew nothing. They walked to their room on the ground floor, and any of the rotting wooden doors left open slammed shut as others heard their approach. Red narrowed his brow as they passed one, and evidently he heard something salacious for he smirked and shook his head. Mr White was not listening. He just wanted to sleep.

They entered the room and were surprised to find it no worse than the hotel in District Five. Sure, the curtains were rags that had at no point ever been actual curtains except when defined by their use. Sure, the bed was grubby as muck and painted in a thousand stains, not just the sheets but soaked through into the broken-springed mattress, all those essences of soul and sickness that leaked down into the barrel of the world. But it was a place to sleep, and it was dirt cheap, and that had suited Red, at least, fine.

Mr White looked around the small room, as if expecting something tucked away, as if the room could hold big secrets in its corners. He put his hands on his hips. There’s only one bed. I thought there’d be two.

Shotgun the bed.


You can take the floor. Here man, take the second pillow and the extra sheet.

How thoughtful.

No worries. I’m goin sleep now. You alright?

Yes. Okay.

Guess what we’re doin tomorrow?




As soon as they entered the bar Mr White knew something was different. The lighting was the same, and yet the room appeared darker, shrouded and close. It seemed as though the space within was trying to escape the walls, push away from claustrophobia or some dark energy, as though something within was a force without reckoning, something foreboding and fearful that all other matter and empty space shifted imperceptibly away from. The walls showed strain, buckling towards another dimension.

The whole area was a bubble and it swallowed them up. Inside even the air felt sharper, daggered and skeletal. Air colourless as always and yet inexplicably blacker, swaying with dust and decay and creaking soundlessly. It made its place there not as a giver of life but as though it were a saw upon the human soul. The soft lights, still and yet aching under invisible duress, cast shadows upon the wall so dark as to be empty forms in the universe, empty souls and holes in the world. Looking and losing oneself in those small oblivions turned the inconsequential animate and malicious, lengthening such casts to gangling monsters and cage bars.

The bar smelled of whiskey and smoke and death. This was not intangible, a phantasm of the world under the scope of the mind. This was something real to them and they breathed it in as one might breathe in anything that was there.

They found themselves moving towards the epicentre, and that which pushed all around it pulled them in as though they were at the end of a rope.

Rum and mixer. Red was leaning over the bar. Yeah, anythin. No, that orange one. With the pirate. Yeah. No ice. Cool.

Mr White stood by him and shivered though it was not cold. He turned to the man next to him.

Johnny Black’s face was not as conventionally handsome as Red’s, and certainly possessing none of that effeminate prettiness, none of the cleanness or smoothness, the jovial cheek. His face was hard and weathered, as if dashed by sandstorms. His nose was lean and pointed like a weapon. His jaw was tough and grizzled and leant his features a grim mood, as though the grit of it ground his teeth from a life of too much death. His hair and eyebrows were black as the night and his eyes were pits of surging darkness. His was a face of authority and command, of beckoning attraction and obsession. From the feel of it all, from how weak and silly you felt in comparison.

He was sitting at the bar smoking and he turned to look at his witness and Mr White shared a gaze that locked his limbs. It went right to his gut and his heart and the soul of his groin tore like paper.

Um. My name’s Mr White, Mr White said. He was stiff and self-conscious of trying to act normal. Self-conscious of sweating. He curled his toes tight.

You got a first name? The man’s voice was hewn and leathered and edged in Death’s whisper.

Mr White hesitated. We . . . don’t need first names.

Fuck that. The man held out his hand, hot and rough. The name’s Johnny Black.

Kidd Red pushed in front of them, holding his drink sloshing the sides of the glass, and the man whipped his hand back, sheathing the thumb into his belt.

I heard of you.

Well. Ain’t that something.

You murdered three people out in Seven. We were there and I was talkin to some folks and your name kept comin up. They said the cops were raidin places lookin for you.

Wowee, Johnny Black said blankly, his voice low and guttering. Wasn’t me. I distinctly remember not being there. I was out in Nine, killing six. He smiled, and his eyes burned, and he put that fat black cigar of his back twixt his white lion teeth.

You’re joking, right? Mr White said.

Now why would you ask a question like that? His deep southern accent was almost well-spoken beneath the cracks, as though he could belong both at a dinner party and on a ranch. He spoke like a hard-living man well-read.

Johnny Black puffed on his cigar, and crackling desert smoke broiled out in front of them, making Mr White cough. Johnny twisted on his barstool and beckoned the bar girl over.

Three whiskeys. The one with the holocaust on the bottle.

She swamped and fired the little glasses so the liquid was hot on top like bubbling blood. She banged them down in front of the three of them and each one sounded like a gunshot.

He laid out a note on the bar top without looking, wrapped around a knife. His eyes were intent on the floorboards.


Moral Zero cover

Ianthine Interviews: Brian Moreland

It was my pleasure to interview the horror author Brian Moreland.  You can find him at his website, where you can read a wealth of his stories,  or by following him on Twitter.


Brian Moreland All Books horizontal band

When did your obsession with horror start, and what were (and are) your biggest influences for your own writing (whether other authors, films, music, art etc.)?

For me, my fascination with horror started from a combination of things. I remember loving monsters at a very young age. I watched scary movies on TV every weekend, and got scared out of my wits seeing movies like Alien, Jaws and Prophecy (1980 version) at the theater. I always enjoyed a good ghost story with my friends, and exploring spooky places like caves and abandoned houses. I collected monster toys, read magazines like Famous Monsters in Film Land and Fangoria. I also read my share of comic books, the creepier the better. Then in my teen years I discovered Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, James Herbert and Clive Barker and was opened to new worlds through horror fiction. Maybe all of that interest in scary things warped me, but I somehow linked fun and adrenaline rush with confronting things that scared me. I would say because I had the most fun reading horror fiction, I decided to write some of my own stories and discovered writing and making up your own world of characters is an absolute blast

What do you find inspires you most for writing horror? Do you find the real world has more inspiration to offer than your imagination?

It’s a mixture of both. I like real-world drama, so I do my best to write about characters with real, everyday problems. I also have a wild imagination and the supernatural elements, the monsters and villains are mined from that dark place in my mind where nightmares live.

I get inspired by lots of things–unsolved mysteries, legends about mythical monsters, and watching movies.

What are your favourite horror movies? Favourite director?

Aliens, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, the Star Wars Saga [Set: That Wampa was pretty scary…!], The Shining. My favorite director is James Cameron. The guy is a visionary.

What are your favourite ever books (of any genre)? Favourite author?

I love reading Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, Richard Laymon and Clive Barker. Clive Barker and Koontz are my favorite and most influential.

Favorite books:

Phantoms and Watchers by Dean Koontz

The Night Boat, Stinger and Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Island, The Cellar and The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon

The Books of Blood: Volumes 1-6 by Clive Barker

Short story collections by H.P. Lovecraft

Do you aim to scare and otherwise provoke yourself with your own writing, or does your own writing not affect you like that? Should a horror author try and scare themselves first if they wish to scare their audience?

Absolutely I write to scare myself. My books are emotionally-driven and I write from my characters’ points of view. In order for my characters to feel scared, I must feel it too. So I write scenes that terrify me and hope that transfers to the page to the reader can experience what the characters are feeling.

What is your personal favourite of all the books you’ve written? The book you are most proud of.

Definitely Dead of Winter. I had such a blast writing it. It was my second time writing a historical horror novel (my first being Shadows in the Mist). In Dead of Winter I had fun doing all the research of fort colony life in 1870 Canada. I learned about the history of Canada’s fur trade, the superstitions of the local Ojibwa tribe, discovered some strange real-life mysteries involving cannibalism and Jesuit priests, and how to exorcise a demon. When writing the book, I let my imagination run wild. I came up with several complex characters that I fell in love with. It’s a detective mystery, exorcist story, demon and cannibal story, and historical adventure all rolled into one. Dead of Winter continues to be a fan favorite and my bestseller to date.

The ‘creator’s curse’ is the idea that one learns and improves while developing a project (in this case, writing a book), and so always finishes a step ahead from when they started, thus are always disappointed with the strength of their previous project, now and always believing themselves of doing better than before. Are you familiar with this curse with your own writing? Are you always pursuing producing something better than your last?

I always strive to outdo my previous books. I’m always challenging myself to be a better storyteller.

Following on from the last question, are there any books of yours that you are displeased with, that you would like to one day rewrite?

No, I worked on all of them meticulously until I felt they were the best books I could write. They’re not all perfect. Like humans, they have flaws, but I love every one of my books.

How long have you been writing for? Did you always want to be an author?

I’ve been writing for over 25 years, since college. That’s when I fell in love with reading books and decided I wanted to be an author.

What is a passion of yours that has absolutely nothing to do with horror?

Watching sports. I love NFL football, NBA basketball and World Cup soccer. I also love cooking. I can make a zesty pot of Texas chili.

I nearly always write a story while visualising it as a movie. While writing do you visualise the scenes played out as if you were watching a movie?

Yes, I studied screenwriting in college and that experience taught me how to write dramatic scenes with action and dialogue. All my books are scene-driven and are designed to play like a movie in the reader’s mind. I think a few of them would translate well to the big screen.

Which of your novels or short stories would you most like to be made into movie? Any thoughts as to who would play the main characters?

I’d say it’s a tie between Dead of Winter and The Witching House. I’ve already entertained movie offers on both books. I see Dead of Winter as more of an epic series that could span a few seasons. I’d love HBO or Showtime to produce it.

The Witching House, which is about a group of urban explorers who sneak into a haunted house with a bloody history of witchcraft, almost reads like a movie script. It would be a blast to see The Witching House produced by the right director and watch it on the big screen. My free short story, The Girl from the Blood Coven, a prequel to The Witching House, would also be cool to see as a movie.

There was some strange dialogue in The Girl from the Blood Coven courtesy of the character Abigail. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the otherworldy langagues spoken in the works of Lovecraft. Am I completely off-base?

I think you’re spot on. H.P. Lovecraft was a big influence on me during my early years of reading horror fiction and sometimes I attempt to emulate his style. I would be honored to think that Abigail Blackwood’s dialogue was channeled from his genius. There is a point in the story where she sings a Gaelic song, which I found haunting. Another story that was heavily influenced by Lovecraft is my novella The Vagrants.

Do you think now is the time of the self-published author, or are the downsides still too great?

Now is an excellent time for indie authors to self-publish. I originally published my first novel, Shadows in the Mist, and that kick-started my career. I’ve since sold the publishing rights to that book to four different publishers and published my other books through Samhain Horror.

Are you disciplined with your writing? Do you make yourself write every day? Or are you a brilliant procrastinator?

I’m a brilliant procrastinator. I’d love to write every day, but my career currently involves working on client projects that demand my time and focus. When I really get into a book and have lots of free time, I can write for long stretches.

What is your personal most effective remedy for writer’s block?

Funny, I wrote an article called “7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block.” I’ll give you the first one of that list.

1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that’s creative. Paint pictures, write poetry, design images in Photoshop, make a scrapbook or collage, or if you’re masculine, build something in the garage. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then go back to writing. When I’m stuck, I paint paintings or work on my website or blog. Jumping to other projects really activates my creativity. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll tap back into the flow of writing.

For the other 6 techniques, you can read the article here.

If you had to be one of the classic Universal monsters for the rest of your life – The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf-Man etc. – which would you be?

The Invisible Man. I’d love to be able to make myself invisible at will.

My dear old mother just can’t understand how people can be attracted to all these dark, bloody and morbid stories, whether it be books, movies, videogames or art. Would you have an answer for her? Why are you drawn to such things?

I had always loved monsters ever since I was a little boy. Whenever I had paper and crayons, I’d draw monsters–Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, and my favorite the Creature from the Black Lagoon. From age 7-12, I used to watch monster movies with my mom every Saturday when one of our local TV stations played a double creature feature. These were all the black and white horror movies of the Fifties and Sixties–Godzilla, Day of the Triffids, the original The Thing–and some of the color movies of the Seventies like Squirm, Snowbeast, Horror Express and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. I collected monster toys and comic books, and was drawn to werewolves, vampires, aliens and any other creatures that roamed in the shadows. For me, watching scary movies is an adrenaline rush, a couple of hours of absolute fun and terror.

Zombie survival situation. You get a ranged weapon and a melee weapon – what do you choose?

M-16 with grenade launcher and a Samurai sword. Eat this, Zombies!

You’re suddenly inside your own stories. Fight or flight?

Fight. When facing monsters, all my characters typically hunker down and battle to the bloody end. Given some weapons, I would do the same.

Are you a ‘beginning to end’ kinda guy, or when you write do you do it completely out-of-order and just fit it together?

I start from the beginning and will write several scenes in order, but then about midway through the book I start to bounce around, revising previous scenes or jumping ahead to later scenes I’m itchin’ to write.

Finally, what can you tell us about your next book?

I’m currently working on a collection of short stories, a novella and plotting my next novel. Since it’s too early to go into details about those stories, I’ll leave you with a description of my most recent release The Vagrants.

While most of my books are set in the woods, The Vagrants takes place in Boston. It’s a mix of Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.

Here’s the synopsis:

Beneath the city of Boston evil is gathering.

Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side too. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnessed something terrifying. Something that nearly cost him his sanity.

Now, two years later, he’s published a book that exposes a deadly underground cult and its charismatic leader. And Daniel fears the vagrants are after him because of it. At the same time, his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the Irish-American mafia and a deranged cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.

Thanks for the interview Brian!

Set, thanks so much for having me as a guest on your site.



Brian Moreland at Killer Con 2013

Author Bio: Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His books include Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, The Girl from the Blood Coven, The Witching House, The Devil’s Woods, and The Vagrants. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror book.

Website: http://www.brianmoreland.com/

Follow on Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Like Brian’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland

Brian’s blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

Now available in audio book: The Devil’s Woods and The Witching House.

Favourite quotations #3

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.” – Albert Camus

“…If I continued to harbour any hope for music it lay in the expectation that a musician might come who was sufficiently bold, subtle, malicious, southerly, superhealthy to confront that music and in an immortal fashion take revenge on it.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform.” – Alfred Kinsey

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell

“Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy.” – Camille Anna Paglia

“When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children to listen to people who fucking ROCKED! I don’t care if they died in puddles of their own vomit! I want someone who plays from his fucking HEART!” – Bill Hicks

“To laugh is to risk being a fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out to another is to risk involvement. To express feelings is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love or live. Risks must be taken because, the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. Only a person who risks is free.” – Leo Buscaglia

“In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.” – American Beauty

“Shrug off the restraints that you have allowed others to place upon you. You are limitless. There is nothing you cannot achieve. There is no sadness in life that cannot be reversed.” – Clearwater

“I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.” – Robert Michaels MD

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

“Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.” – Horace Greeley

“Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” – Leon Trotsky

“In all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.” – Carl Sagan

“The futility of everything that comes to us from the media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. Music, commercial breaks, news flashes, adverts, news broadcasts, movies, presenters—there is no alternative but to fill the screen; otherwise there would be an irremediable void…. That’s why the slightest technical hitch, the slightest slip on the part of the presenter becomes so exciting, for it reveals the depth of the emptiness squinting out at us through this little window.” – Jean Baudrillard

“Show me any guy who ever said he didn’t wanna be popular and I’ll show you a scared guy. I’ve studied the entire history of music. Most of the time, the best stuff is the popular stuff. It’s much safer to say popularity sucks because that allows you to forgive yourself if you suck. And I don’t forgive myself. Do you?” – Almost Famous

“All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.” – Neil Gaiman

“Imagination, not intelligence, made us human.” – Terry Pratchett



Ianthine Interviews: Michael Frost

It was my pleasure to interview the horror author Michael Frost.  You can find him at his website, where you can read a wealth of his stories,  or by following him on Twitter.


What do you find inspires you most for writing horror? Do you find the real world has more inspiration to offer than your imagination?

I knew it; it would be the very first question which I would have difficulty answering. HA!

What inspires me? Hmm, more often than not it’s a single verse or the melody of a song which tends to manifest creative visions, but more so, ideas just sort of come to me all different times of the day whilst doing just about anything. On a few occasions I will dream it and wake, but I don’t keep a steno pad near my bed. I have always figured that if I can’t remember it come morning, then it simply wasn’t worth writing in the first place.

When it comes to real world I try to leave it be. True crime, real horrors and documentaries of such don’t interest me in the least. I find my imagination to be more frighteningly detailed and I am quite happy that those thoughts are not actually happening in the real world.

What are your favourite horror movies? Favourite director?

I will give you one of my all-time faves and I know your blog readers may hiss and boo, but The Blair Witch Project really got under my skin. It was fresh and original, and spooky-eerie as hell. Did you know that people who saw the movie actually got angry and felt ‘lied to’ when they found out it was just fiction. HA! Anyways, with that flick I just don’t know; there is something about it…

I also love the original Evil Dead.

One of my favourite directors is Guillermo del Toro; so visionary, great stories/writing as well.

Why do you think people like scaring themselves? Guillermo del Toro described horror movies as “roller coasters of the soul”. Would you agree with this when it comes down to scary stories (in whatever medium)?

I think people are generally suckers for it. We feed off the adrenaline rush it produces, just like the disgust we get from the morbidity of gawking at a nasty traffic accident. We are drawn to it, yanked to it to be more to the point. In both comparisons we get to witness horrors and terrors, but we ourselves don’t actually experience it. We do this when we cover our eyes at a really scary part in a movie, but don’t we always peek? Surely a haunted house during the Halloween season scares the crap out of us, and we shift our feet more often as we near the entrance in anticipation of what lies beyond (usually drawn by the screams of folks already inside blasting outward), but we still hand over our ticket and enter regardless, right?

When it comes to Guillermo del Toro’s quote I would say he’s pretty dead on balls with a sledgehammer (he’s one of my favourite faves by the way).

Do you aim to scare and otherwise provoke yourself with your own writing, or does your own writing not affect you like that? Should a horror author try and scare themselves first if they wish to scare their audience?

Oh I do try to scare myself, or at least freak myself out! If I can scare myself—there are very few things in this world I am fearful of—then I am doing something right. There has been many-O-times in the past which I freaked myself out enough that I start turning on lights, my writing is done for the evening and I go watch a comedy or a nature program (lights still on mind you).

What are your favourite ever books (of any genre)? Favourite author?

Some of my favourite ever books would be The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck; Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; IT and Needful Things by Stephen King; the Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy and Jackdaws, by Ken Follett. Hmm, did I mention just about everything written by (Sir) Terry Pratchett? Love his works!

Do you have any favourite evocative words to use when writing horror fiction, that you keep using because of their effect/way they sound?

I like the word ‘caligionous’; I have used that one often. ‘Whisper’ is a good one too, quite flexible, oh, and ‘teeth!’ Yeah, no one likes the idea of ‘teeth’ in any horror context.

Do you think horror relies on as much as having a ‘good story’ as other genres, or can it rely more on having a certain ‘feel’ or atmosphere to it that other genres can’t?

In all aspects, the horror genre is not much different than any other (albeit the occasional monster in the cellar surely sets a rather disturbing and poignant definitive line in the sand). A story—a real story—has to be there, if not, it’s just pulp. Much akin to a real horror film and a gore-fest film (i.e. Saw, every Friday the 13th movie after part 3, etc.). The feel and the atmosphere—as with any genre—must be present as well. If you do it right, this should be established straight away—the ‘hook’— with an opening which clearly informs the reader that something really bad is about to happen.

In short? All of it.

Who is your favourite villain that another author/director/actor has created, and your favourite villain that you yourself have created?

My favourite made-for-me-villain? Hmm…In horror I would say George Stark in Stephen King’s book The Dark Half (he was just wicked-evil); non-horror, but dark noir/thriller nonetheless [I like conjunctive adverbs too btw per question #5], I would go with Harry Powell from the movie The Night of the Hunter played by Robert Mitchum (amazing lighting effects in that flick too).

There are many, never just one, sadly.

My favourite made-by-me-villain would be Staad (from a novel of the same name [unpublished; in the process of]); he’s a very bad man.

Do you prefer visceral gore horror or psychological horror? Which of these do you think better suits books as opposed to their translation in movies?

I prefer the psychological; that’s where true horror lies and can translate well into movies with limited special effects (i.e. The Exorcist). It’s easier to crawl under the skin and into the human soul of fears and phobias this way. When it comes to splatter-fests, albeit at times psychological might require the gore), it’s a visual necessity in the long run. Sure, one may write out the gore and have the reader squirm, but are they afraid, or simply grossed out?

Do you think horror can ever go ‘too far’? Whether in movies or books. Do you try and push against boundaries yourself? And have you ever held back?

Yes, it can clearly go way too far. Take the banned movie Siberia [Set: I think Michael means A Serbian Film, on which specific example I happen to disagree with him on!]; supposedly horrific, but it was just sick, sick, sick. Personally I do try to push socially acceptable boundaries and ‘Political Correctness’ is a lame-ass farce which people should stop using in daily speak and attitudes. When it comes to holding back I only did this when I started writing horror in my latter teen years, only because my mother read a lot of my works so I suppose I would feel ashamed at what came from my noggin. In time, well, the gloves came off.

Do you see your characters as your playthings, and you can exact whatever horrible acts you like upon them, or are you more sympathetic to their (fictional!) desires for life and freedom and try to write them as though you want them to succeed and pull through?

*Shrugs* If my characters wish for sympathy they can look in the Webster’s Collegiate dictionary between the words Shit and Syphilis and they’ll find it. Now, before I call myself Master of Fictional Puppets, I will say that like most of my writing, the characters come through in the end when I originally planned on bumping them off and vice versa. In my world of authoring, stories whisper to me what happens; my job is to simply write them down accordingly. This is why I never use outlines (quite against them actually), for a real story needs space to stretch and grow; to develop on its own. It doesn’t need me hindering it by predetermining the Five W’s and the acceptable: How.

The ‘creator’s curse’ is the idea that one learns and improves while developing a project (in this case, writing a book), and so always finishes a step ahead from when they started, thus are always disappointed with the strength of their previous project, now and always believing themselves of doing better than before. Are you familiar with this curse with your own writing? Are you always pursuing producing something better than your last?

Familiar, yes, but nothing I practice.

I have spent a good long time developing my writing style, my voice, and with this voice/style I write one story to the next with only the current idea before me. Whether it is better or worse, or in a horror-writer’s case, scarier or milder than the last is not a notion I am ever preoccupied with. In truth, I look at a story once I have completed, reread and edited on whether or not it is marketable or not. If so, it is submitted, if not, it is kept personal, or shared on my blog or one of the writing sites I belong to.

My advice to any writer so to avoid the ‘curse’ is to never judge your own work. I have written things I thought was amazing and received a moderate acceptance, where on the other things I have stories out there I HATED and were well welcomed. In the end, to fall victim to the ‘curse’ is much akin to a heroine or crack user chasing the dragon. You are going to get your highest high the first time out, and by chasing it to get that original high again is futile because One, it will never happen and Two, you will eventually OD.

Do you believe that contentment is the enemy of invention?

I feel that it is one of Inventions many enemies out there lurking, but I feel the true enemy, the very worse one of all, is self-doubt. Forget doubt! Screw that! Write that book/novella/story/poem and be done with it. When you finally type the words, ‘THE END’, you can breathe with a sigh of relief, pat yourself on the back and grow a smile. Who cares if it doesn’t satisfy the masses? Hell, most people out there can never say they have ever written a book, so you are surely a leap ahead of the average bear.

How long have you been writing for? Did you always want to be an author?

I have been writing now for nearly 31 years, so since age 11; 25 years as a horror writer. Originally I wrote fantasy (I was a big D&D and Tolkien fan; long before they became popular in the theatres), but then the Darkness found me.

Yes, from the age of twelve, being an author was all I ever wanted to be. I packed away the visions of being an astronaut and banged away at the keys on the big Royal manual typewriter my dad got me from a resale shop. Loved that beast (rest in peace).

When did your obsession with horror start, and what were (and are) your biggest influences for your own writing (whether other authors, films, music, art etc.)?

To answer this would be rather long, and a bit personal, but the skinny of it was when I was 17 years old. Nothing or no one directly influenced it; to be quite honest I hated horror of all kinds until one day the Horror Michael simply woke up and started whispering to me. Besides developing other personas over the years, each with their own genre, I have never looked back in terms of my passion for horror. I suppose one day I will tell the whole story of Why, How, When, Where…very few people know this, only two people know every detail of such. I am content with that for now.

What do you think the worst thing is about modern horror fiction?

Ooh, this is a toughie and can potentially be a long answer, so let me state flatly: Originality.

Sure, the common dialogue is: “There’s no originality left in the world…it’s all been done before!”

That’s bullshit. IF all of it has already been done before, then there’s no reason at all to read or write the latest greatest of anything by anyone! Let’s face it, there are some stories that will be revisited (Dracula, Frankenstein and his monster, and so on), but they are done differently, yes? If they were not, outside of friends, family, or self-publishing, no one would read it because no one (publishers) would buy it.

Oh! A close runner up would be the Twilight series…I think just mentioning it speaks for itself (effing sparkling vampires…PFFFFT!)

Do you ever find real world people creeping into your novels in the guise of fictional characters?

All the time, but they never ‘creep’; I intentionally use people I know or have met in my stories. Depending on how well I like you will equate to how I will kill you in my writings. I mean, I may let you live (rarely), but yeah; often I do this.

Which of your stories would you most like to be made into a movie? Any thoughts as to who would play the main characters?

A few of them actually. Happy Springs, When Madness Calls, Sowing Seeds, several others. When it comes to actors/actresses, the only story I actually visualized someone would be Happy Springs. The female County Sheriff I pictured Cherry Jones who played Officer Paski in the movie, Signs. Yeah, she’s tough!

I nearly always write a story while visualising it as a movie. While writing, do you visualise the scenes played out as if you were watching a movie?

No, never as a movie, per se, but when I have crossed the eliminator line between writing the story and breathing the story, I no longer see the screen before me. No more blinking cursor, or margins or the words appearing magically before me; none of it. When I am completely engrossed in it, I often close my eyes and let my fingers work, allowing the words to become crystal visions as if it was happening. Sadly on more than one occasion, I gave myself the heebie-jeebies many-a-night doing this. The writing screeches to a halt for the evening, on comes the lights in my home office, as well as any room I venture; erasing every shadow.

Are you disciplined with your writing? Do you make yourself write every day? Or are you a brilliant procrastinator?

Hmm, disciplined? HAHAHAHA! Well, in all honesty the more you become proficient in something, the more corners you learn to cut, or at least, play hooky. I do tend to write something daily, or at least edit, but once I am into something new or returning to something old I have let simmer, then it’s on and that’s number one to me until it’s done.

What is your personal most effective remedy for writer’s block?

I use several methods, but the most effective is that I take walks. Since I tend to only write at night, walks at two or so in the morning seems to help. The city is quiet, the air seems cleaner and depending on the seasons only the night-bugs and/or an occasional raccoon or rabbit is about. Sometimes I envision they are plotting to mug me and leave me for dead; this at least sparks the creative juices.

A bit of an ambiguous question: ebooks or print books? Would you always prefer something that you can hold in your hand?

Printed books; hands down, bar none. Just the feel of a book in your hands is like a fountain of magic, a whole world in your palms! You don’t need to charge them, you can drop them, get them wet and dry them off, use them as step stools if you stack them and they still work! Try that with a hundred-dollar Kindle. HA!

My favourite comment ever made to me about one once was, “Well I can keep a whole library on here!”

Yeah? Well I have a library at home and you only can read one at a time (monkeys!).

What is a passion of yours that has absolutely nothing to do with horror?

Cooking, classical music, travelling, photography, and making my own wine.

If you had to be one of the classic Universal monsters for the rest of your life – The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf-Man etc. – which would you be?

The Blob. I mean, they dropped that puppy off in the arctic so it’s in stasis and well, with Global Warming, I’d come back! Those other creature-creepers? They were all vanquished. HA!

Most overrated monster stereotype and most cliche horror trope?

Romantic vampires and zombies, albeit The Walking Dead kicks major ass! I love it!

What did you get up to this last Hallowe’en?

Scaring both children and adults alike and then gave them candy as they cried on the porch. I really think one child peed. Good times, yeah, good times. <Insert wicked smile here>

My dear old mother just can’t understand how people can be attracted to all these dark, bloody and morbid stories, whether it is books, movies, videogames or art. Would you have an answer for her? Why are you drawn to such things?

Sounds like my mother in the past at times (rest in peace). For her I would shrug and simply tell her: ‘One can’t have light without the dark, and if you could, it would certainly be a rather boring place, wouldn’t it.’ In the case of my mother, she would just look at me silently, shake her head and then sigh. She wanted me to write mysteries; she was a big-time avid Agatha Christie reader and fan.

For me, I really don’t have an answer to this. This question stumped me for a couple days and I even asked myself, ‘Self? Why do we write this shit?’ Self simply shrugged and said: ‘Because we can.’

HAHAHA! I know that’s not really a suitable answer, but in all fairness and truth, it’s the best one I can ever give. I didn’t seek out horror as I stated earlier, it did me, and to this day I don’t know why. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I tend to not read any horror, and watch very few horror films these days (save the classics). To give an example, the last ‘new’ Stephen King book I read was Nightmares & Dreamscapes a few years after it came out in 1993! Now, it’s not because I don’t want to read King or any other horror writer therein, but instead it’s ANYTHING; any author, any genre, just anything. The way my odd brain works, it is so easy to start picking up and adapting another’s writing style as easy as picking up a southern accent if you stay there long enough. It simply happens, so when I am in the process of writing something new, all books and stories are forbidden.

Zombie survival situation. You get a ranged weapon and a melee weapon – what do you choose?

Ranged: .30-06 (I am a surgeon with one of those [but of course in the TWD Universe they would hear the report, so a nice compound bow)

Melee:    Hatchet

You’re suddenly inside your own stories. Fight or flight?

I’m a fighter.

Heroes or villains?


Werewolves or vampires?

I guess I will have to say Vampires here. (Do Werepires exist!?!?).

Finally, are you working on something new, and what can you tell us about it?

Yes, I am. I started something new a few weeks ago which I figured would just be a short story, but it has left that realm and is now a working novelette, quickly becoming a novella with a whispering hint of a novel length. Basically there’s no end in sight. Currently untitled…I just call it, ‘The Story’.

It’s about every horror writers past time: Death.

Thanks for the interview Michael!

Once again, you can find the nightghast Michael Frost on his website, or on Twitter.




The School of Necromancy now available!

The gothic science/gothic horror short story inspired by Harry Potter as much as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and H.P. Lovecraft is now available on Amazon!

Better yet, assuming you read this post fast enough, it’s FREE for the rest of today (4/12/14) and tomorrow. Not to fear if you miss it, as it’s mere pennies/cents afterwards.

Deep below the city of York, below the sewers, below the catacombs, lies the School. It is here, if you are privileged to be selected, that you can study the art of raising the dead. Reanimation, demonology, experimental necroscience, theoretical homicide… It’s all there for the learning, in a vast underground complex of stone corridors and halls, tunnels and staircases, laboratories and cellars and libraries, crypts, morgues, test chambers, operating theatres and black chapels…
It’s all there, that is, if you can keep your head…


TSON cover smaller


The Violet Dark #4

Here is the fourth little part of the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. You can buy the full novella for mere pennies/cents/whatever on Amazon.


More violet, and on they went. Past houses, yards, fields and bushes, past monsters and effigies and voodoo tombs.

All that she had missed. All that had never come. Already she owed violet, owed her escape.

And you owe him.

The land blew past in dreams, just part of the wind.


The shades of the violet-cast day grew stronger and deeper as the sun grew tired. They drank water from a stream and the coldness ran through like a frozen orgasm.

The road was silent and solitary but for their bikes and the background roar of the world. They saw nobody, taking the small roads. Sometimes she thought she saw huge shadows chasing each other in the distance, on other roads. When the violet was strong all old detail was gone, replaced by a new kind of detail of what the mind believed.

She thought of the stories she used to write when she was younger, before she gave up. This wasn’t like that, but it felt now like she was writing new stories constantly, her mind scribbling away, telling her what this was and what that was. Rocks made of felt and drifting fields of haunted corn, and a sky painted blue by the same aliens behind the pyramids, behind Stonehenge, behind her birth. That shape a pygmy bear-child, the last of its kind. That shape a living statue down on all knees, grieving for its lost parent.

That shape before her the man who had taken her.


Nightmares come and

Nightmares go

Beauty sees

What nightmares show

A nursery rhyme of her own devising. She felt rather proud of herself. That is, until it repeated over and over through her head, not letting go. You came up with me? It seemed to be whining, snarling. And now you want rid of me? You are my creator. You are my stupid repetitive creator. There is nothing in you, it is all in the outside world. I owe my worthless existence to you. I am your Frankenstein and you will feel me. Ride on, bitch.

She rode on, and eventually the rhyme repeated itself less and less often. Each time it did it was angry and loud, overcompensating for its weakness. Breaking through the oceans of formless thought to attack, and then cast adrift, screaming as the mere flotsam it was got swept over the waterfall.

Nightmares come but

You are dumb

You are dumb

To take his cum


He looked behind him at the sound of laughter. She was trailing behind, giggling to herself as her bike weaved erratically. Never again would he see her so beautiful, so perfect. She was his missing lung, his missing bladder, his missing stomach. He wanted to breathe her, piss her and eat her.

My angel of darkness.

Her body was his tomb. He would choose to lie and let the worms gnaw him forever, as long as he rotted inside her.

My angel of death.

One day long past, he would have come off violet to see if he felt the same. But such a thing was useless. Even if he hated her sober, even if she was ugly and cruel – though he knew she was neither – as long as he was in love with the violet her, that was enough.

And how does she see me? Which me does she see? I am all forms. I can be ugly and cruel. A day comes I am a saint. A day comes I am a devil. A day comes I am a troglodyte, better served in caves than under another’s gaze. A day comes I would rape myself, such potent narcissism.




Into the black


She looked at him, at this heavy-coated figure rocking slowly by the light of the fire. ‘Where are you from? I know nothing about you. Tell me about yourself.’

He looked at her. ‘The violet is wearing down.’

‘How do you know? It is.’

‘You would not be asking such a question otherwise. The violet distracts. Here, have some more.’ He made to fetch the hipflask but she held up a hand.

‘Later, maybe. I need this clarity.’

He shrugged. ‘I don’t see why.’

‘Where are you from?’ she asked again.

He looked into the fire. ‘Somewhere south, somewhere north. A way to the east, a little to the west. I don’t know. I’m from nowhere and everywhere. I’ve forgotten my home. If ever I had one.’

‘Do you always answer in riddles?’

He grinned. ‘Maybe.’

‘What happened to you?’

‘Life. Life happened.’

‘What about life?’

‘All of it. Everything.’ He shook his head. ‘I gave up explaining a long time ago.’

‘Try me.’

He sighed, and took a small sip from the hipflask. ‘Fine. I never enjoyed it. Life. At least, not that I have any memory of. I wandered, in ceaseless revolutions of depression, apathy and disillusion. Bitterly bewildered by the state of existence. Never knowing, never understanding, and never, ever content. Finding enjoyment in next to nothing, nothing that would last. That was on a good day. I told myself that I always bounced back, over and over and over. After every blackness came the dawn . . . The nights were the worst. Not like now. With violet the night is my friend. But back then . . . I told myself as long as I had oxygen in my lungs I would always surface from the depths.’

‘And then one day you stopped?’

‘No. I had never bounced back. I had never surfaced. I rose in little bits, but I sank deeper with every night. I just didn’t see it for what it was.’


He laughed mirthlessly. ‘I thought that was all it was too, for a spell. No. Eventually I realised that in my times of blackness I had the truth of it. The fault was not with me, but with the world. Those around me wanted me to change. I did not understand that. It is too easy to tell a person to change. Hard to tell the world to change. But the blame must be laid at the right feet.’

She shifted uncomfortably. She did not want to question this, seeing that this man before her was a different beast entirely and she knew him not.

‘I eventually left the company of others. I felt sick and weary. I tried violet for the first time, and from that there was no turning back. The world was beautiful for the first time, either since childhood, or since forever.’

‘Populated by nightmares.’

‘Perhaps. But the kind of nightmares I can handle. Not the nightmare of a sober world and its expectations.’

She saw the sprites of the fire reflecting the sadness in his eyes, and she moved close to him. He looked at her and his grin was wide and bare.

‘Why don’t -’

‘No advice,’ he interrupted her. ‘I’ve heard it all.’

She said nothing for a minute, then quietly said ‘How do you get money?’

‘I find it.’

She looked into the demons dancing in the fire.

‘I don’t need much.’


He picked up the flask and offered it to her. ‘Here, have some more.’

‘I’m okay for now.’

He shook it at her. ‘Go on.’


He looked a little taken aback, as if such a question was indecipherable to him. Then he waggled it again. ‘You have lived your whole life up to this point seeing the world a certain way. You have done this once. The second time you will feel more in control.’

‘Is that so.’

‘You know you want to.’ He pushed it into her unresisting hand. His thumb touched hers. He looked at her with fierce, indigo eyes, and she felt the strength in the fire and the strength in his weakness. She drank a mouthful and he beamed at her.

‘What happens when this runs out?’

‘There’s a good deal more in my pack. If that goes, then we sober up a little and hook ourselves up with some more. It’s easy.’

‘And buy it with?’

‘I have money. And I told you, I can find more. It’s always lying around someplace.’

She nodded slowly, feeling the violet come on again. The fire reddened. Waving thumbprints and casting its thousand burning angels.



The School of Necromancy opening extract


I’ve been busy of late, writing various short stories, some of which you can find by visiting my Amazon author page.

I’ll put up excerpts from these (or the entire story, if short enough) on this site in due course, as some are being entered into writing competitions or being submitted for magazines.

Here is the first draft beginning to a story I am currently writing, that is turning out to be the longest short story yet. It’s called The School of Necromancy, and it is about just that . . . think Harry Potter meets Frankenstein . . . and a lot of morbidity, black humour, and a science/classic sci-fi-horror theme over a straightforward magical one. Lighthearted gothic, and with a perhaps Lovecraftian bent to the approach, what with it being a personal account. I hope you enjoy it.


The School of Necromancy


I’m here to explain some things to you. A lot of questions have been asked, and a lot of people seem to be pretty concerned, so I have taken it upon myself, when no-one else will, to describe to you the events that led to the six dead bodies found about York last week, which has got the constabulary so vexed. There were, in fact, eight bodies. One was homeless, and the homeless are often forgotten. The other was one of us, and we hold onto our own.

The rules have never said ‘Don’t talk about the School’. They in fact say, ‘We recommend, in your best interests, not to talk about the School, for nobody will take you seriously, and if they do, you are likely to meet an untimely demise.’ And so, given that I am confident in my abilities to resist the poorly-concocted assassination attempts of my fellows, and even more confident that nobody who reads this will take me seriously (or, if someone does, that nobody will take them seriously), I feel like I have nothing to lose by writing this, and I have my own dry amusement to gain, like a serial killer might feel smug upon announcing his morbid deeds to somebody who takes the whole thing as a joke. Doubtless some of my fellows will disagree with me, but they always were a bit fusty and overly serious.

I should point out now that I was not the killer. Just to get that out of your heads. In fact, I wasn’t even there, and the story I have to tell is not my own. But I make it my business to know things that happen here, deep under your feet, and I always enjoy interrogating the other students.

My name is Raiden Black, and this is not my story.

As an addendum, before I continue, I want to say that of course it’s not my real name. We are all given new names when we enter the School. Many years ago pretty much half of all the first years would choose ‘Black’ as their surname, and there was a great deal of names like ‘Night’ and ‘Death’ and it all got a bit tedious. Nowadays the masters choose your name for you, and you get three vetoes before you have to suck it up and accept it. I took receiving the now quite elite surname ‘Black’ as a vote of confidence in me, and have endeavoured to remain deserving of it ever since.



Find a sewer grate or manhole somewhere in York, somewhere in the centre preferably. You will, of course, have to do this at night, unless you are exceptionally quick and daring, or you have found a perfectly hidden spot. Different cliques of students have their own entrances, and if you find yourself sharing yours with a member of The Brotherhood, you have my sympathies.

Head down into the sewers, and head east. Follow the rats. They always seem to congregate around the School, and we never did quite know why they are drawn here so, but we don’t complain, not when there are so many post-mortem opportunities at hand.

Eventually you won’t need the rats at all, and you can follow your nose. Take the turns where the air is stalest, closest . . . You feel that certain something in the air? You don’t know what it is, but you feel it, just like the rats. Seek out the source, for that is us.

Assuming you have a good sense of direction, and have not become irretrievably lost, nor have you been bitten by a rat carrying one of the new experimental strains of plague we have developed, then you should, eventually, come to a door.

It is of heavy wood, and looks ancient, and no amount of battering force will break it open. Here you must knock a certain number of times, to a certain rhythm. And that is one thing I will not tell you.

You can however, assuming you finished reading this before you set out, go to the gloomiest pubs in York and, on suitable dark, grim nights, find a sallow youth all in black drinking by himself, looking terribly preoccupied with something, and perhaps a trifle jittery. He will have bags under his eyes from lack of sleep and excess of obsession.

He will at first want nothing to do with you, and will be sullen and uncooperative, but ply him with drinks. At the opportune moment, ask him about the secret knock, and he may tell you.

He will of course be lying. That’s one thing we are very good at.

Let’s assume, though, that you now know the secret knock, by fair means or foul, and have rapped sharply on the door in this very particular rhythm. The door opens, slowly, with the groan of a thousand years. There is nobody behind it. You may think it black magic, and I wouldn’t dare ruin it for you.

You’re not at the School yet. Down a spiral staircase of stone steps you go, and as it levels out you find yourself in a series of twisting, crossing corridors. These are the catacombs of York. Our catacombs.

Set into the walls, lit by burning torches, are all manner of artefacts. You may be surprised to see Egyptian sarcophagi and urns, so far away from their origins, along with Greek burial shrouds, and the beaks of plague doctors from the time of the Black Death.

You will see small cairns, caskets, tools of morticians and torturers, stones and pieces of hard wood with strange carvings, pagan statues, death masks, old coins to lay on eyes, cotton to wrap and minerals to sprinkle on the departed. What you will not see, however, no matter what you will most fearfully open, are bodies, not even skeletons. We have claimed them all, for we do not allow waste.

Navigate the catacombs (a clue: follow the eyes), and you will find another staircase, which will lead to one final door, requiring a key to unlock. You don’t have such a key, you say? That is a shame.

Beyond this door lies the School of Necromancy.

There is also a perfectly serviceable lift that cuts out all this, but let’s keep things traditional.


TSON cover smaller

The Violet Dark now available on Amazon!

It’s my pleasure to announce that the short novella and hallucinogenic road horror The Violet Dark is now available on Amazon!

The direct link to the US Amazon page (as now appearing on the sidebar of this  blog) is here.

The direct link to the UK Amazon page is here.

Keep an eye out, because starting from tomorrow (20/11/14) the book will be completely free to download for five days!



When you leave the paths of light, you fall and you fall forever.

A man finds a woman crouched over the body of her murdered father. The man is hallucinating on a liquid drug called violet, and offers it as a promise of escape. The woman, numb with shock and grief, takes it and soon finds herself in a ‘beautiful nightmare’, the shadowy world of the violet dark. They ride the endless roads on motorbikes, lost in the drug and almost lost to reality…
Terrible, grotesque things are hunting them. If only she could convince herself that the danger was all in her head…

– The Violet Dark is a short novella by the author of the twisted dystopian thriller Moral Zero. You don’t want to miss this hallucinogenic road horror. A toxic love song to darkness itself, this book is guaranteed to make you see things that aren’t there – or perhaps they are…



Author and purveyor of all things dark and weird