Two New Horror Gems on Netflix UK

There are two new horror gems on Netflix UK this month – Viral and The Neon Demon.

Viral

Viral is a story of two teenage sisters struggling to survive a deadly virus outbreak. This genre is a bit overdone, but this is a fresh take on it. The acting is realistic and not overly dramatic, while the gore is bloody and  beautifully disgusting! My favourite element of this was the dynamic between the two sisters – the horror genre’s Anna and Elsa. I loved this.

The Neon Demon

I’d been waiting for this movie to make it to Neflix for ages! So I was delighted when one of my Best of Netflix Horror buddies informed me​ that it was one of the new additions this month!

This is absolutely stunning movie. Florescent, throbbing colours and lots of slow disturbing scenes. This shows horror of a different kind -the horror of the human species and vanity. Fresh-faced 16 year old Jesse arrives in LA to try to make it as a model. What follows is a disastrous kaleidoscope ​of events. This is weird and beautiful and utterly disturbing. I loved it and it’s nothing like any other film I’ve seen.

 

Netflix, you did not disappoint with these two beauties!

What did you think of these movies? Are you looking forward to anything on Netflix this month?

 

The Easter Bunny – A Creepy Tail

Easter Bunny

There is something extremely disturbing about the Easter Bunny.

Maybe it’s the fact that the Easter Bunny doesn’t speak or maybe it’s the weird eyes? Or is it the outfit? It could be anyone inside there! Give me Santa Claus any day, over this creepy character!

Easter Bunny

My irrational fear of the Easter Bunny led me to write the disturbing tale/ tail below.

Judy Graham was collected at 5.30 am on Holy Monday by a limousine. She  wheeled her suitcase out the front door and pulled the door of her cramped semi-detatched house behind her. She didn’t say goodbye. There was nobody to say goodbye to since her parents had tragically died last year.

The driver took her suitcase from her and wordlessly motioned her towards the back seat of the giant car. She thanked him and he simply nodded. She had never travelled by limousine before, so she assumed it was chauffeur etiquette. If the driver was this posh, imagine how posh the family who had hired her would be.

Judy was going to Addington House, in the Cotswolds, to play the Easter Bunny for the next week. She had played many children’s characters in the past year, including Elsa, a North Pole elf, a witch and a pirate. Judy loved being a freelance children’s entertainer. It meant she was able to travel to lots of different places to work and bring laughter and fun to so many children. Seeing their tiny faces light up with wonder and excitement was the highlight of her working day.

Judy  had never been an Easter Bunny before, but it seemed like fate. Her Mother had named her Judy, inspired by the actress Judy Garland’s role in the film ‘Easter Parade’. Her Mother would go around the kitchen every Easter Sunday, singing the Easter Bonnet song as she made lunch. That was one of her nicest memories of her.

She had been headhunted by the Addington family. Judy was ecstatic that her hard work and love of the job was finally paying off. The Addington Easter Bunny was iconic, children all over the surrounding areas came to Addington Manor to meet the Easter Bunny. On Easter Sunday, there would be the exclusive Easter Egg Hunt for the children of the sprawling Addington family.

Judy had visited the Cotswolds many times as a child with her parents and had wonderful memories of stone thatched cottages, rolling green hills and ice-cream from quaint little shops. She thought going back there might make her feel closer to them. She would be staying in one of the thatched cottages on the grounds of the manor for the week. Her duties would end early Sunday morning, once the eggs had all been hidden for the giant Easter egg hunt. Nobody saw the Easter Bunny after Saturday, that was the tradition.

She sat in happy silence, admiring the view, as they drove through the different counties of the beautiful Cotswolds. The closest town to the Manor was Blockley. The town looked serene and peaceful and golden Cotswold cottages punctuated the rolling hills. They arrived at the manor at exactly 8 am. The chauffeur opened the door for her and motioned silently for her to walk into the giant stone house. Lord Addington stood waiting in the hallway with an amused look on his long horsey face.

“Miss Graham, if you’d care to follow me into the drawing room and we can go through some of the finer details.” He said, his voice echoed with the high ceilings. She smiled and said “Of course, Lord Addington” and followed him into a stuffy, dusty looking sitting room. He handed her a timetable. Each morning, breakfast would be brought to the cottage at 7.45 am. At 8.30, she would be guided to the children’s play area in her Easter Bunny outfit.  She would do greetings and photographs for two hours. She would be guided back to the cottage for a powder room break and a small lunch. At 1 pm she would return for greetings for a further three hours. Dinner would be brought to her cottage each evening at 6 pm.

She nodded as he went through the itinerary with her. She thought it all seemed very military but he was her employer and he was paying her well. She would do exactly as asked. He told her that it was most important that the uniform must be worn every time she left the cottage during the day. The illusion must be maintained, he explained. The uniform was vintage, it had been worn by every Addington Easter Bunny in the last twenty years. She thought that was gross, but kept quiet.

Easter Bunny

There was no small talk and he led her out to the door where the chauffeur stood waiting by the car. She sat in and was brought to the most charming thatched cottage she had ever seen. A stern looking woman stood waiting by the door. She quickly went through the lighting and heating and left immediately, these people did not like small chat. A giant box with a bow was waiting in her bedroom. She opened it and saw the Easter Bunny outfit. The black eyes of the head stared at her and sent shivers down her spine. The teeth in the mouth protruded over a black mouth. Vintage Easter bunny outfits were really creepy. But the material was soft and fluffy, despite being vintage and smelled of fresh cut grass.

When she tried on the uniform, a queasy feeling came over, she thought she might vomit. She took it off and immediately felt better. The stern woman knocked on the door with a small lunch. She ate every morsel and went for a stroll around the magnificent grounds, they went on for miles. Today was her only day off, as she would be on a schedule from tomorrow.

The next morning she put the suit on and as soon as the suit touched her skin, she got a funny turn again and felt queasy. She ignored the feeling, put on the head and started at herself in the mirror. The outfit was terrifying!

She could see out of the eyes, but there was no trace of the real Judy to be seen. She was brought to the greeting area by the stern woman and she was surprised that the children weren’t afraid of her. They hopped on her lap for pictures and wrapped their small arms around her. Maybe this vintage outfit wasn’t so bad.

Only the babies and small toddlers screamed their heads off when she held them for the photos, the poor mites. All day long, Judy felt strange. Shivers ran down her neck and back. She was freezing, then roasting. Judy hoped she wasn’t coming down with anything. Her eyes were stinging too. She put that down to the heaviness and stuffiness from wearing the head. She was exhausted that night and went straight to bed after her supper.

The next morning, she felt some bit better so she went on with her day as per schedule. As she sat for the greetings, new symptoms emerged. Her fromt teeth were sensitive and sore and her hands were pained and felt swollen.

She returned to the cottage and took the outfit off for a break. She looked in the mirror and sore red-rimmed eyes stared back at her. She spotted something sprouting from her ears, something white and bushy. She yanked it out with a squeal, it was a tuft of white hair! What was going on with her body! She had no further time to investigate as the knock came for the afternoon shift. She would have to ask the stern woman if there was a doctor nearby when she brought her supper.

She got through the rest of the afternoon and was delighted when she was able to return to the cottage and get the horrible Easter Bunny suit off her. Had she caught something from the suit?! It was twenty years old, after all. At 6 pm, she stood by the door, ready to talk to Mrs. Stern. She threw the door open when she heard the knock and the woman jumped back. “Oh, Miss Graham! You look under the weather this evening” she said, her voice surprisingly warm this time. Judy told her she was feeling ill, she needed a doctor. “Sorry to hear that, Miss Graham. There’s no doctor available in the evening in these parts. I can try to arrange a visit for tomorrow and bring you something medicinal?” she said. Judy thanked her, that would have to do for now.

The woman returned with a bottle of syrupy medicine and told her to take two spoons before bed. Judy took the medicine and went straight to bed, she didn’t touch her supper. When she woke the next morning, her eyes were bloodshot and the red rims had grown. It was then she spotted two white whisker growing from her cheeks! She grabbed a tweezer and plucked them out! More tufts had sprouted from her ears, and despite the pain, she pulled them out. Her teeth had never been perfectly straight, but now they were protruding slightly over her lip! There was something happening to Judy, there was something very wrong.

The day passed in a blur as children were passed into her swollen hands. Her legs and feet were aching. When she returned the cottage for lunch, she avoided the mirror, afraid of what she might see. She looked down at her belly and saw that it too was swollen. She’d also put on a huge amount of weight on her lower body in only a couple of days. She’d always been a pear shape, but this was ridiculous.

That evening, her thoughts were foggy and scattered. The only thing she could focus on was the Easter egg hunt and the children. She had to keep going for their sake. She heard a knock on the door, but didn’t open it until a few minutes later. She clumsily carried the tray in, ate her supper and left the tray outside. She drank two sups of the medicine and went to bed for the evening. She tossed and turned.  She woke from a bad dream in the middle of the night and to her horror, she felt something growing on her backside! Something large and hairy! It was a bushy small tail!

She squealed. Her mouth felt funny too. When she looked in the mirror, her mouth had morphed into a grotesque shape and four long whiskers now grew from each cheek. Tufts of white hair sprouted from every orifice. Words tried to form in her head, but when she opened her mouth, she couldn’t speak. Her hands and feet were even more swollen and covered in fine hair. She touched her face, not believing what was happening to her.

She put on the bunny head to cover her monstrous face and squeezed herself into the now very snug bunny outfit. As she did the morning greetings, she though about running away. But she had no car, no way out. And what would people think of  her transformation anyway, even if she escaped?

Was this all her imagination? Was Judy imagining that she was a real-life Easter Bunny??

Her thoughts became even more blurred. When she looked in the mirror Good Friday, she could only think of the children and their little faces. The Addington Easter Egg hunt would be unbelievable this year, she would make sure if it. She put on her uniform and bounced out the door after Mrs Stern. On Holy Saturday, she looked in the mirror and realised that she didn’t need the uniform any more. She WAS the Easter Bunny and tomorrow was the most exciting day of the year!

By early Easter Sunday, all of Judy’s memories had faded. Her only task was to get the hunt ready for the children. She spent hours hiding the eggs, even though it was difficult with her furry swollen hands. She heard the excited shrinks and laughter from children in the distance. She bounded away out of sight, feeling satisfied. But the shouts followed her, even though she was going in the opposite direction to the Easter Egg hunt.

“My first hunt, Arthur! I hope I catch it” a girlie voice shouted. “No one catches one on their first hunt, you idiot. You need to learn how they move and how to track them” a boy’s voice said.

Them? It? She bounced away as fast as she could with her giant furry feet.  Someone left out a high pitched scream. “This way! The hunt is on.” The Judy bunny realised that the hunt was for her, not for Easter eggs.

The Judy bunny tried to get away from the children. It had no memory of its former life as Judy. All it wanted now was to escape. A misplaced hop landed the Judy bunny in a giant animal trap. It lay on the grass, it’s broken mangled foot caught in the vice. It struggled and whimpered.

A tiny girl, no more than six years of age stood above it and shouted to the other approaching children.  “I won the hunt! I won the hunt! The head is mine!”

The Lord of the Manor appeared above the Judy bunny. “Oh, Cordelia, Grandfather is so very proud of you. You caught the Addington Easter Bunny.” The Judy bunny stared up  at him. One chocolate tear streamed out of her glassy black eye as Lord Addington chopped it’s head off with a sharp axe. He held up with a cheer, to the delight of the children. The Addington Easter Hunt was over for another year.

Creating Fiction at the Friary

 

I attended my second Fiction at the Friary event in Cork City at the end of March.

Find out more about the event on Facebook or follow the Twitter page.

Creating Fiction at the Friary

Fiction at the Friary is a free monthly literary event in the Friary Bar at the bottom of Shandon Street, organised by Madeleine D’Arcy and Danielle Mclaughlin.

The event is held on the last Sunday of every month from 3 to 6 pm. Each month, there is a reading from different authors. We were treated to a reading from Eimear Ryan, of Banshee literary magazine, in February. At the March event,  Danny Denton read from his upcoming novel The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow. This debut novel will be published in Jan 2018. 

My friend Aoife and I attended the event and it was very relaxed and friendly. We love to read (We’ve even started our own Facebook book club Reading in Between in the Wines) and we thought that this sounded like a great way to connect with other book lovers and writers.

Fiction at the Friary is open to anyone with an interest in writing or reading. There is a highly  optional writing exercise and an open mic. The open mic is highly entertaining and my favourite part of the day. During the open mic session in March, two people read what they’d written during the writing exercise, they were just brilliant! Cork is full of talented writers.

The writing exercise at the March event consisted of two writing Prompts, a beginning sentence and a picture. Here are mine!

Creating Fiction at the Friary

This was my attempt, who knows, it may become a full story with a middle and an end. 

Creating Fiction at the Friary

In an hour, Mother would be here and it would be time for the Great Burning.

But for now, Agatha sat on the wooden bench at the edge of the pond. Below the murky surface giant multi-coloured fish swam, while a line duck flapped away happily on the surface. The sight of the duck reminded her that she too was alone now.

Thoughts of the many times she’d sat in this exact spot with Myrtle flooded her mind. On sunny days, when Myrtle was too frail to do anything but sit and stare, they would come down the pond. Agatha would bundle Myrtle into her wheelchair and layer her in soft woolen blankets. They sat there in silence, needing no words. Myrtle would have a look of pure contentment on her thinning face, her skin almost translucent in the daylight and her too bright eyes dreamlike.

It had always been Agatha and Myrtle, as far back as Agatha’s mind could stretch. Such old-fashioned names for young twin girls. But it was only Agatha now; half a twin, half a person. She sniffed back snot,  fighting back tears but they escaped down her cheers and chin. Loneliness overcame her and she felt like there was a giant weight pressing on her chest.

Agatha focused on the fish, trying to calm down, trying to forget but wanting to remember. She NEEDED to remember. She Had to remember every little detail of Myrtle’s face. The real Myrtle, the Myrtle with chubby cheeks and an enthusiasm for every small thing in life, from poached eggs to wedding celebrations.

Tonight, they would celebrate Myrtle’s life and burn all of her material trappings – her wheelchair, her medication, her bedclothes and mounds if soft woolen blankets. A fire to remember Myrtle and what she had been before sickness had rattled the life out of her.

Tomorrow, they would burn Myrtle’s mortal trapping, her body.

But for now, Agatha sat and was soothed by the same oriental fish, swimming in the same pond, that Myrtle had loved.

I look forward to getting my middle sentence writing prompt at the April event and I can’t wait to hear Susan Lanigan speak!

Book Review: Embers by Kenneth W. Cain


Embers

Embers, A collection of Dark Fiction is a dark and twisted selection of smouldering tales.

Best way to read Embers: Curled up by a dying fire, sipping a glass of red or tea!

Recently, I’ve become a big fan of short story collections, so I jumped at the chance to review this ARC from Crystal Lake Publishing. Horror collections work especially well. A short pacy story can pack just as heavy a punch as a longer, more developed one. Gutted : Beautiful Horror Stories (also published by Crystal Lake Publishing) re-awakened my love of horrific short stories.

Embers reminded me of shows from my childhood like Tales of the Dark Side and The Twilight Zone (why I was allowed to watch this as a child, I still don’t know!) Each story is connected by a little thread to the next one. Kenneth created a web of weird, sometimes gory, sometimes psychological and always scary threads.

My favourite story is The Chamber, it made me feel clammy and uncomfortable for all the right/ wrong reasons, was the first one. In The Chamber, an old war veteran visits an old war site with his family and encounters horrors from the past and present. The imagery and sense of dread is excellently portrayed.

Of Both Worlds and Breathing Cave, two slightly connected stories freaked me out! The environment and the character’s emotions are so vivid, the reader feels like they are part of the story. The stories based largely in caves, reminded me of The Descent (an excellent horror movie from 2005).

To conclude, this well written selection is perfect for dipping into. I love discovering new horror fiction authors and I will be reading more of Kenneth’s work. To find out more about the author click here.

Click here to purchase the book.

The Tracks- A Creepypasta with thousands of hits

This evening, I’m sharing something different on the blog, “The Tracks”, a Creepypasta written by Banshee Irish Horror blog co-admin (and my little brother) James the Jester.

James’s Creepypasta “The Tracks” (link here) was picked up and narrated as part of a Youtube compilation, which has over 92K hits (and counting).  “The Tracks” is the first tale of the compilation. It is a post apocalyptic story of survival. With gory detail, the Creepypasta engages the listener from start to finish and has the reader rooting for the survivor and his unlikely companion.

For more deliciously creepy tales by James The Jester click here.

 

Creepypasta are online horror stories, memes or pictures, copied and pasted around the internet. Their main purpose is to scare the living crap out of people!

Creepypasta hit the mainstream media in 2014 with the so-called “Slenderman” stabbings.  Two twelve year old girls lured another girl into the woods and stabbed her. They claimed to do this to impress the fictional Slenderman, a Creepypasta character. Truth is more horrific than fiction in this case.

 

The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling: Novella Review

 

The Final Reconciliation is a hard metal symphony of terror.


Final reconciliationWritten in an album format, The Final Reconciliation is a tale of the occult, a gypsy who is more than she seems and a hard metal band striving to hit the big time. When The Yellow Kings have the performance of their lives, there is only one survivor.

I was delighted to receive an ARC of The Final Reconciliation from Crystal Lake Publishing (link to the Crystal Lake website). This is the third book I’ve read from Crystal Lake Publishing, including Gutted Beautiful Horror Stories.  Gutted was the most memorable, brutal and beautiful collection of stories from last year.

The pace and length of this novella were perfect for the tale, narrated 30 years after the tragic concert, by a journalist interviewing aging rock star Aidan Cross. The Yellow Kings are struggling to make their dreams come true when Camilla, a seductive gypsy character appears on the scene. Her introduction to them is the start of their nightmarish fate.

Friendship is key to the story, as were the changing dynamics of the group. The scenes where the band are pouring their souls into their final album are described in gory and grotesque detail.

There is dark beautiful imagery during the visions of Carcosa. The ending was both disturbing and mesmerising.  The album reaches its’ crescendo with a horrifying climax.

The Final Reconciliation is a horrifying tale, which will appeal to lovers of heavy metal and horror alike.

 Here are the links to purchase this book:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/TheYellowKing

http://www.crystallakepub.com/the-final-reconciliation/

Creative side, come on out!!

Everyone goes through patches when our creative sides are hiding away, when our creative juices are just not flowing. At least,  I hope it’s the same for everyone and not just me! January seems to be one of those times!

This January I’m doing three things to kick-start my creativity again, after being quite lazy in December!!

Editing my own book/ WIP

creative said

This activity is all at once, weirdly satisfying and frustrating! I gave myself a break of about six months between the first draft and the editing process. I sometimes can’t believe that all the words came from me! This is definitely sparking my creativity.

That being said, I’m finding editing a slow and time consuming process. I’m hoping with practice, editing my own work will get easier! I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Creating my very own character for Angela B. Chrysler’s Upcoming Book – Zombies from Space… And Vampires!!

I won a fantastic prize of some of Angela’s books, but also a once in a lifetime chance to be be a character in Angela’s upcoming book! To find out more about Angela and her books click here. http://angelabchrysler.com/My creative side perked up as soon as I heard I won this prize and I’m letting my imagination run wild with it! I get to be a vampire! Anyone who knows me will know this is something I’ve always dreamed of! Thanks to Maxine Groves (Booklover Catlady) for organising the competition and Angela for her wonderful prize!

A short story challenge with my Nano cabin mates

creative side

Last weekend, I took part in a 4 day short story challenge. This is the second challenge that I’ve done with my cabin mates from Camp NaNoWriMo last July. For anyone who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo is an online novel writing project, the premise is to write a novel in a month.

I was very lucky to find a great bunch of people to share an online cabin with last July. We were all on European time, which was great for supporting each other. I honestly don’t think I would have reached my goal of 50 thousand words if it wasn’t for them (along with my husband, family and friends, online and offline)! The wonderful cabin creator suggested our first short story challenge for last September, the aim was to plan and create a full short story or piece of writing in four days. The rest of the group and I enjoyed the challenge so much that another one was organised for last week and we even have the next date arranged !

The challenge was a lovely break from editing and I completed a romantic short story (not something I’d usually write), despite not having a lot of time to give to it! It’s great to chat to the other writers and the group is really diverse and interesting, everyone’s ideas are totally different and it inspires me!

Do you find your creativity lagging at times? What do you do to kick-start your creativity?

Neverlasting by Johnny Daggers: A book review

Neverlasting

To my shame as a horror fan, I’d never come across Johnny Daggers until our Twitter paths met! Johnny is an interesting creative character  and I jumped at the chance to review an audio version of his book Neverlasting. I couldn’t wait to listen to my very first audio book!

About the Book

Choosing where you wed is just as important as who you wed. Ultimately, the wrong choice can lead to certain death. Sadly, this was the case for Nora and Ned, a young couple who wanted nothing more than to build a life together, but when they said their vows in the old Herring Grove, “’til death do us part,” took on an entirely new meaning.

As their vows of sanctity echoed through the hollow, they awoke a century old curse which vowed to never let love enter its hills again. Now forced to confront both their inner demons and ghosts from the past, Nora and Ned must fight to uproot the seeds of lost love and despair and bring new life to the plagued, barren land.

My Thoughts on the Book

Neverlasting was dark and hauntingly beautiful. This Corpse Bride found it mesmerizing from the first word! I’m sure that fans of Tim Burton and Edgar Allen Poe will also love this –  dark curses, stricken haunted graveyards, creepy mansions and neverlasting love. The book starts with the sad tale of Barron Victor Von Herring and the untimely death of his one true love, his wife Eva LaMoure. Driven to madness by the loss of his love the Barron puts a terrible curse on the land.

When love’s young dream Ned and Nora decide to wed at Herring Grove, spooky dramatic scenes unfold. The early scenes with Nora and Ned were intimate and lovely despite their love for the spookier side of life. The entwining of their souls and the descriptions of their graveyard wedding was delightful. The macabre romance spoke to my own dreadfully romantic side. The later scenes are action packed and wonderfully grim.

The reading of the book was poetic and downright beautiful. The accompanying sounds and evocative reading played through my phone like a wonderful melody. I could see all the scenes so vividly in my head. The tale reached its climatic and slightly dreadful ending, surprising me and leaving me slightly melancholy.

I adored Neverlasting. The only downside for me was that it ended too soon. I can’t wait to re-listen to this!! It introduced me to the joys of the audio book which has changed car journeys to work for me for nevermore!

Purchase Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Neverlasting-Johnny-Daggers/dp/0997773014

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Neverlasting-Johnny-Daggers/0997773014

About the Author

Neverlasting

Johnny Daggers was born October 7th, 1974, to John P. Ellenberger and Georgeann Graff, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a small rural town located approximately 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. He became obsessed with the macabre at a very early age. At the young age of 4, Johnny recalls his mother finding him alone, crying on the kitchen floor. When she asked “what is wrong?”, Johnny sullenly replied, “I only have 70 years of life left to live”. Yes, by the age of 4, Johnny had already begun questioning his own mortality. This fascination with death only continued to grow the older Johnny got. He frequently and openly discusses his personal experiences with ghosts. By the age of 12, Johnny began to log his encounters in notebooks, and it was around this time that he began to undertake writing as a passion. Much of his early writings still exist in these personal notebooks that somehow managed to survive the past thirty some years. Perhaps we will see a collection of past and present work as an official anthology in the future? You can find out more on Johnny by clicking here.

 

 

Darren Shan/ Dash interview – Christmas, writing and An Other Place!

An interview with the one and only Darren Shan/ Dash!!! I was delighted to find out that we share a favourite Christmas film and an idol, Stephen King.

Darren Shan/ Dash
When I met the man himself in Bantry in 2016

I just want to say thanks again for allowing me to review An Other Place and thank you for agreeing to do an interview with me. As I’m sure you could tell from my review (To read my review of An Other Place click here)   I thoroughly enjoyed An Other Place. It was the most surprising and unique book I’ve ever read. So on to the digging! I’ve a mixture of questions for you, including some festive ones!

An Other Place

An Other Place differs greatly from your children’s books.It’s gritty and has scenes of drugs and sex. Is it nice to be able to write uncensored for an adult audience?

Yes — but the nicest part is being able to do it out of the sightlines of my younger readers. I’ve always been interested in both worlds — I love watching children’s movies and reading children’s books as much as I love movies and books which are for grown-ups. I’ve never had a problem moving between the two as a viewer/reader, and I like to take that same approach when I’m writing. It’s not a case of “dumbing down” for children or throwing in loads of sex and swear words for adults — that’s a mistake many authors make when they set out to create a book especially for a specific market. I simply go with what works best for any individual story. With Cirque Du Freak I did think about making the main character older and writing it for adults — the story could have gone in a much darker direction if I had — but I had a gut feeling that the story would work best if I kept the character young and wrote it for a young audience. I’m a big believer in going with your gut, in making calls in response to what a story demands, rather than imposing yourself on a story and making it work the way you want it to work. That can be difficult when you have an established audience, as I do on the YA front. An Other Place would never have worked as a YA book, and if I’d released it under the Darren Shan brand, I would have been conscious of just how disturbing it could have been for any children who picked it up by mistake, which might have led me to water it down. Having another name (or An Other name!) is very liberating, granting me the freedom to go as far as I wish with my imagination and not compromise at any stage.

It seems like Newman roamed as freely as he liked with his actions and was definitely not a standard “nice” character. Even in your books for younger readers you’re not afraid of writing horrible characters. Do you enjoy writing unsavoury characters?

It’s not so much a case of enjoyment as fascination. I find flawed characters more interesting to work with. Most books (especially in the children’s market) tend to feature bland, uncomplicated protagonists, and to be fair, I can see why, as they provide an easy access point for the readers. But I’m more drawn to the stories which explore the dark crevices of the human condition, which look at what scares and disturbs us. We miss so much about ourselves if we only focus on the superficial levels. For me, while the first purpose of story-telling is to entertain, it can also be a way to shine a light on ourselves and find out more about what makes us tick. I’m sure I could have written a very interesting book about the unnamed city with a nicer character than Newman, but I don’t think it would have been as interesting as the story I told with Newman at the centre. Very few of us are truly good or bad — we’re a mix of the two — and I like to make my books as realistic as possible, even when telling a surrealistic story like this one. Readers don’t always like it — maybe we don’t like seeing true reflections of our darker selves when we read, as it makes us ponder our inner twistedness — but it shouldn’t be a writer’s job to pander to his audience.

 Were you worried about the reaction to the  scene where Cheryl is violated by Newman? I felt it was very intrinsic to the story but it did shock me. I’m guessing that the independent publishing route allows you more freedom with your ideas and themes?

Yes, this was a tricky one to write. It was essential from a narrative point of view, in order to manoeuvre Newman into the place where the storyline was driving him, but he obviously lost a huge amount of audience sympathy by doing what he did. I spent a lot of time working on that scene, trying not to turn Newman into a complete monster, but rather show him as someone who, through a mixture of loneliness and frustration, does a monstrous thing. It was an uncomfortable scene to write, and it’s an uncomfortable scene to talk about, but this is a book that’s all about facing the uncomfortable factors that we can encounter in life, and to shy away from it would, I felt, have been to do the story an injustice.

 For some reason An Other Place reminded me of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life – an unhappy man is transported to a reality like his, but different. This other place allows him to reflect upon himself and others. Would you agree?

Hmmm. My first thought was to say, “No, they’re nothing alike at all, are you crazy?!?” But having mulled on it some more, I tend to agree with you. An Other Place goes to much darker and more lurid lengths, of course, but at the same time there’s something genuinely disturbing at the heart of It’s A Wonderful Life — when Jimmy Stewart rears up on his family and makes his children cry, it’s truly terrifying and unsettling. So yes, maybe that was in among the mix on a subconscious level when I was pulling the pieces of the story together.

 So while we’re on the Christmas theme – seeing as it’s the festive season, have you a favourite Christmas film and are you a Christmas fan or is it all about Halloween for you?

Oh, I love Christmas too! It’s A Wonderful Life is probably my favourite, though Life Of Brian would be up there too. What’s that, you say? Life Of Brian isn’t a Christmas movie? Heh. It is, in An Other Place!!

Is there any book you like to re-read at Christmas or look forward to reading this year?

No. I stopped re-reading books decades ago. I don’t get as much time to read as I once did, so I focus on new books now, that I haven’t read before.

 If you could pick  one character from your books to be for one day, who would it be and why?

Well, it would have to be Darren Shan, wouldn’t it?!?

 Do you have an idol? If so, who is it and why?

Stephen King. I love the quality of his books, of course, but also the quantity. He has an incredible work ethic which is truly inspiring. He’s continued to push himself throughout his career, never resting on his laurels. The results haven’t always been spectacular, of course, but that’s what happens when you continue to be productive over a long period of time — some stories just work better than others. I always believe in putting your work out there, to ultimately let the readers decide, not least because you truly don’t know as an author. Sometimes, yes, but not always. For instance, I was sure that An Other Place was going to get a rock response from readers — it’s just so weird that I assumed it would turn off most people. Yet it’s been picking up great reviews and looks like it might become one of my most popular books for adults to date. Authors can have their own opinion of their work, and how their various books rank against one another, but we don’t always call it right, and I think it’s good to put all your work (well, at least that which you deem to have worked) out there for the public to pick through and make up their own minds about.

 You’re going to have a dinner party and you can pick 5 people (living or dead)to attend, who would you pick?

Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, John Lennon, Vincent Van Gogh, Preston Sturges.

 Do you have a favourite book of 2016?

My favourite book that I read in 2016 was either Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon or A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

 Are us readers going to be lucky enough to get more Darren Shan and Darren Dash books? Can you give us any clues about what’s coming next?

Yes, hopefully there will be plenty more on both fronts. I’m working on a massive fantasy series on the Darren Shan front, though I’m not sure when exactly the first book will see print — hopefully in 2018 if all goes well. I might bring out my next Dash book in 2017, though I’ve been averaging a new one on that front every 15 to 18 months, so it’s more likely that it’ll be 2018 for that one too — not least because I haven’t yet decided which book to focus on next.

Could you write a little message to your readers for the New Year?

As bad as things might get, they’ll never be as bad as you can imagine they can get, so face the future with hope and positivity.

I’ll leave you with that powerful closing message! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Corpse Bride!

 

 

An Other Place, Darren’s latest novel for adults released under the name of Darren Dash, is on sale exclusively through Amazon stores worldwide, either as a paperback or ebook. To find out more, click on any of the links for Amazon below (the book is also available through every other Amazon store worldwide) or else visit the Darren Dash site: www.darrendashbooks.com

The Baby Auction: Book Review

Baby auction

When the author offered me a copy of The Baby Auction to review I was I intrigued. What a title for a book!

Romance, revenge, revolution – and a forensic analysis of how market capitalism destroys human kindness. The author’s profits to Shelter – the housing and homelessness charity. Available through all e-book outlets and bookshops.

The Baby Auction is based around two couples in the Market World where The One Law resides over everyone to keep order and stop the world from falling back into despair.

Matt and Ed are a man and woman in the lower class in Market World and early in the book we find out about their hard life and upbringings. Despite that, they have high morals and strive for more for their lives. Anna and Dain are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Dain is Captain of the City Guard and Anna is a rising entrepreneur in Market World. They view Market World as a fair place and see the value of upholding The One Law.

Through various incidents, the lives of both couples end up intertwined. The incidents highlight further that something is not right in Market World. The treatment of the lower classes is described in scary detail.

The Baby Auction was too realistic at times for me. As a person in general, I like to escape from the harsh reality of life though books and films. This book didn’t allow me to do this (and perhaps this was exactly what the author wanted). The scenes were too harsh and too similar to our current state of world affairs for me. The horrible character Franklin  in the Market World reminds me of a certain character in the limelight.

To conclude, though excellently written, this book just wasn’t for me. It was too realistic and too close to real life. The Baby Auction doesn’t allow the reader to dig their head in the sand. It strikes a powerful message but I prefer books where I can forget about the real world for a while. I’d like to thank Peter again for the opportunity to review this book. And the fact that the profits are going to help people does make this book pretty special.

Purchase Links

  • Amazon: pbk £11.99, Kindle £2.99  To purchase on Amazon click here
  • The Conrad Press: pbk £12.99 (post-free) http://theconradpress.com/product/the-baby-auction/
  • Google books e-book: £5.03
  • Waterstones, W H Smiths, Blackwells and other bookshops £12.99
  • The author has some copies for £6.99 if people direct message him for details.

About the author

PETERTAYLOR-GOOBY is a leading sociologist who has advised Lloyd’s of London,  the European Commission and the (previous) UK Prime Minister, and been awarded an OBE. He has written 33 academic books and two novels: ‘research may analyse our changing world, but it is our feelings that drive the way we live our lives. That is why I write novels.’