The Corpse Bride’s Recommended Reads for Halloween 🦇

My favourite time of the year is approaching – Halloween!  🦇

Here are  my Halloween reading recommendations. These are the books that have scared or thrilled me over the years!

Winterbay Abbey by John Bladek and Davonna Juroe

This is a creepy, atmospheric, old style ghost story with a sad, haunting ending. Will, an architect, goes to the historic Winterbay Abbey to design a grand restoration, but Will and his wife soon fall foul of the abbey’s curse.

The in Woman Black By Susan Hill

This gothic tale is well known as being one of the scariest books in the past few years and it lives up to its reputation. Arthur Kipps goes to the isolated Edel Marsh House to sort out the affairs of the late Alice Drablow. A chilling and brilliant ghost story.

 The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand is not only one of my favourite horror novels, but also my favourite book. It’s an epic,  apocalyptic tale of good versus evil. The horror only begins when a deadly influenza spreads rapidly across the world.

Heart – Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This is a modern, original ghost story from Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill. Scary and gory and further proof that you should not buy ghosts on the Internet! Rock star Judge buys a ghost to add to his occult collection, with horrific results.

IT by Stephen King

IT does not need much of an introduction with the current release of the movie version. The book will always be superior – over 1000 pages of pure horror in the town of Derry at the hands of an ancient evil and the terrifying Pennywise the clown.  🤡 .The characters, settings, atmosphere and scenes are perfect.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill

This was recommended to me by David at Blue Balloon and it is excellent. This is wicked, twisted, surreal horror – a child killer, Christmasland and a Mother trying to save her son.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

I first read this as a very young teenager and I’ve read a dozen times since. The vampire tale of the beautiful Louis and the enigmatic Lestat is bloody, mesmerising and stunning.

Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe

This had been the only book  that I’ve ever had to leave to one side before finishing because it scared me so much. A particular gruesome, ghostly scene would not leave my head. Charles’ daughter goes missing Christmas Eve and is later found murdered. This is is only the start of the terror for Charles and Laura.  A ghost story and a mystery.

The Ghosts of Sleath by James Herbert

All of James Herbert’s Ash series are excellent, but I picked this one for the list. Psychic David Ash goes to investigate a town full of hauntings. This had lots of gruesome imagery, along with heart.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula, the father of all vampires and written by an Irish man. The tale of Jonathan Harker, Count Dracula and Mena is eloquent, timeless and scary. I think I need to re-read this one soon!

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

This is the first YA book on the list. Creepy little dolls, a windswept location, oijua boards, deaths and a tortured teen make for a brilliant YA horror.

Dark Matter by Michelle Pavar

I listened to Dark Matter in audiobook form and it entranced me. An Artic expedition results in Jack being stranded in a rough, artic Winter alone, but he’s not alone. Haunting, tense and gripping throughout.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Dead House is also a YA addition. A psychological, gory and original tale told from a variety of sources, including police interviews, video footage and the diary of Kaitlyn and Carly, a girl with multiple personalities.

House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson has a fantastic way of twisting the readers emotions and confusing them.  A classic tale of terror when a group of strangers go to Hill House to take part in a study. The reader is unsure whether this is a a real haunted house or the manifestations of one of the main character Eleanor’s mind.

Zom-B Series by Darren Shan

Zom-B series is a twelve book series, with an extra novella. I read the whole series of a period of months and when it finished, I was devastated to say goodbye to B Smith and the other characters like Mr. Dowling. Zombie filled and action packed, this also highlights more political themes like racism. I devoured this like warm brains.

The Fog by James Herbert

The Fog is a brilliant,  demented and grotesque book.  When the fog invades a small village in England and rapidly spreads, it drives people insane and makes them act on their most depraved and horrific instincts.

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories – edited by Doug Murano and Alexander Ward

This anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing re-kindled my love of the short story. Each story is unique, beautiful but also horrible. A mixture of poems and stories to entrance and disgust.

 

Turner by Karl Drinkwater

I knew that I’d love Turner from the moment I saw the bloody chainsaw on the cover.
I loved the isolated Welsh setting and the atmosphere of the village, reminded me of Summerville Island from The Wicker Man.  Three strangers fight for their lives on an isolated Welsh island where the locals are not welcoming.

Hannah by Shaun Horton

When Eli, Naomi and their two children return from a camping trip, strange occurrences start in their house and family pet Hannah starts acting viciously and strangely. I’m terrified of dogs, so this canine horror scared the beejaysus out of me.

The Beast House by Richard Laymon

In true Laymon style, this is gory, twisted, sexually charged and action packed. Thanks to my old library in Dungarvan, I discovered Laymon. Tourists come to visit the infamous Beast House, where multiple murders have occurred and get more than they bargain for.

The Silence of Ghosts by Jonathan Aycliffe

Dominic, a wounded former soldier,is sent to the countryside with partially deaf sister Octavia during the blitz. This has eerie scenes, an atmospheric creepy location and a sense of dread throughout.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

By now, you can probably tell that I’m a fan of the classic ghost story. 👻 Governess Eliza arrives at Gaudlin Hall.  Abandoned children, unexplained occurrences and terrifying experiences await her.

 

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

This book is aimed at teens and is the perfect mix of scary and humourous. This is the first in the series where the team of courageous Lucy, the enigmatic Lockwood and Georges,  first start investigating hauntings across London. Hugely entertaining!

Ring by Koji Suzuki

This is the book that spawned the Ringu and Ring films. Again,  the first in a series, this story of a videotape that kills you seven days after you watch it is a tense and creepy horror.

The Ghosts of Magnificent Children by Caroline Busher

Though for younger readers, this book had to make the list, everyone knows that children love ghost stories! It was haunting and gripped me until the bittersweet ending. Four magnificent and gifted children are taken to Badblood’s circus, where a dark fate awaits them. 100 years later, their ghosts appear the Irish coast, where they befriend Rua, who must help them.

The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan

Billy O’Callaghan’s first novel is a beautifully written ghost story. Set in the wilds of West Cork, a group of friends visited artist Maggie and try out a ouija board. Maggie unravels emotionally and artistically as the real, unseen terror unfolds. The clever, perfectly eeerie ending to this book will stay with the reader for long after the last last page.

Darkmere by Helen Maslin

Darkmere is a ghost story told in dual timelines by modern day Kate and nineteenth century young bride Elinor  and their experiences at Darkmere Castle. This a fun,  YA horror with a mix of romance, ghosts and mystery.

The Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy

When Amber turns sixteen, she finds out that she’s not the boring girl she thought, she’s also a beautiful red-horned demon. This is an epic rollercoaster of a journey as Amber and Milo travel across America to try to escape Amber’s parents. A brilliant trilogy featuring demonic bikers, vampires, undead serial killers and awesome characters

Zombie Girl Saga by Alessia Giacomi

This is the second atypical zombie series on the list. Eve Brenner goes on an archaeological dig with friends Akex and Cam, and is bitten by something that causes her to become a thinking zombie. This series was full of great action sequences and friendship, it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Hell House by Richard Matheson

It’s a very long time since I read this, but I can still remember the opening chapters and our introduction to the ominous Belasco House or Hell House. Four people are hired by a millionaire to enter the house and investigate the paranormal phenomena. Chilling and psychological, another classic ghost story.

The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers

This is a recent read for me and the Psychic surveys series is entertaining and scary. The series follows Ruby’s psychic investigations agency as they try to help trapped spirits. Each book has a great story at the heart and feisty characters.

The Other Side of the Wall by Andrea Mara

This is the only real thriller on the list. I had to add this as it’s the only book in a long time to really freak me out! One scene had me hiding under the covers and listening for noises downstairs.  Sylvia looks out her bedroom window at night and sees a child face down in the pond next door, she races into her neighbour’s garden. But the pond is empty, and no-one is answering the door…

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Vicious, strange, heartbreaking and bloody, a vampire novel unlike any other. Loner Oskar is befriended by new neighbour, the strange Eli, who never leaves the apartment during the day. The real horror in this unfolds as Oskar is horribly bullied. Utterly brilliant and disturbing.

Mr. Sparks by Danny Weston

Ventriloquist dummies have scared me ever since I came across Mr. Slappy in Goosebumps! Mr. Sparks is an even creepier character! After Owen’s father goes missing in the war and his Mother has a breakdown, he is left with his cruel aunt in her boarding house. Mr. Sparks shows him a way out, but soon it becomes  apparent that Mr. Sparks is not as friendly as he first seems. A tense, gripping and scary YA horror.

I’ve finally come to the end of my list! Have you ready any of these? What books really scared you?

Have a wicked Halloween! 🦇 🦇 🦇

 

#Book Review: Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

Behold is a colourful kaleidoscope of weird, wacky and bizarre stories and poems.

About the Book

Want to see something weird? Embrace the odd. Satisfy your curiosity. Surrender to wonder.

From Crystal Lake Publishing and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated co-editor of the smash hit Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories comes Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders.

Sixteen stories and two poems take you into the spaces between the ordinary—and the imaginations of some of today’s masters of dark and thrilling fiction.

A travel writer learns the terrible secrets at a hotel that’s not at all as it seems.

A disfigured woman and her daughter explore methods of weaponizing beauty.

An amateur beekeeper acquires an object that shows her the true
danger of the hive-mind.

Drifters ride the rails seeking something wondrous that could change their fates forever.

A strange creature that holds our very existence in its hands shapes the lives of two lovers to touching and devastating effect.

A young man helps his grandfather—and something much more monstrous—atone for bargains made during wartime.

And much, much more…

Best Read

Lying in an empty grassy field on a splendid sunny day or in a giant tent, while sipping on something magical.

My Thoughts on the Book

 

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this book for months and I’m delighted to have received a launch day copy to review! Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders is an anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing, edited by Doug Murano and featuring a vast array of authors, including Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. My obsession with short story collections was triggered by another Crystal Lake anthology, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. Gutted was also co-edited by Mr. Murano, so I had very high hopes for this.

This is another cracking anthology from Crystal Lake. This is a wondrous collection, full of strange other-worldly tales and fans of Fantasy Island will devour this.  Every addition is unique and leaves the reader feeling like they are entering different tents at a carnival, with many different, some grotesque wonders to behold. Below are snippets of my favourite stories.

Larue’s Dime Museum

This story opened the anthology – a stylish and clever take on “carnival freaks” and curiosity. Beware of what you pick up in Larue’s Dime Museum!

Wildflower, Cactus Rose

A strange tale that is sad in parts. The most horrific part to this story is humanity and our obsession with outer beauty. This was brutal in parts, but I loved the message. The author quotes it perfectly: “The world is a mirror, what we see is a reflection of who we are. So the question is, what do you want the world to see?” The ending leaves the reader keep pondering the question.

The Baker of Millepoix

Set in a beautiful French village, this is both charming and grotesque. A miraculous baker with a secret ingredient that will leave a taste in your mouth.

 Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament

Clive Barker’s sprawling tale mingles horror, pleasure, obsession and love. Brilliantly written, this is a monstrous story with gore and heart. Jacqueleine is unlike any other woman, imaginary or real.

An Exhibition of Mother and Monster

I don’t normally read poetry, but I loved this nighmarish poem. It features a delicious collection of Nature’s freaks for a cheap price – “A Wholesome Fee for the Devil’s Smile.”

Chivalry

Neil Gaiman’s addition to the collection is a quirky, magical tale, with a lovely touch of humour. Mrs. Whitaker, the main character, is a feisty old lady with a great eye for antiques.

A Ware That Will Not Keep

A dying Grandfather tells his son of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s a tale of escape, release, true horror and desperation.

Earl Pruitt’s Smoker

A wonderful, vivid flight of the imagination with a bee-keeper.

As A Guest at the Telekinetic Tea Party

I loved this poem, the second I read the alliterative title. The second poem anthology is vivacious and the cadence reminds me of a dance. It’s a dark tale of a witchy afternoon tea.

Knitter

Knitter reminded me of a gruesome Grimm’s Tale, where the unsuspecting characters have a sad fate awaiting them. Creepy and disturbing with a mystical twist.

Through Gravel

A surreal, strange tale of an underground world where the Kindred pluck their offspring from the world above.

Each story in Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders is a gem. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, so dig into this treasure trove and you won’t regret it.

 

Click here to purchase the book.

 

 

#BookReview – Twice Upon an Apocalypse

Twice upon an Apocalypse

Dark Fairytales in a Lovecraftian Landscape

I’m a big fan of Crystal Lake Publishing’s short story anthologies, so I jumped at the chance to receive a launch copy of Twice Upon An Apocalypse. These are all the well known favourite fairytales tossed into a hellish world.

Fairytales in their essence are quite horrific,  not all love and happy endings.

I loved the way each story was reworked into a unique tale, but still carried the same original story mingled with a unique flavour of Lovecraft. I find it hard to pick my favourites as they are so many good stories! But the twists on Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella were excellent with their strong female characters! I also loved the Bluebeard and the Little Mermaid stories. The Little Mermaid has always struck a chord with me, as does the evil tale of Bluebeard.

The joy of a short story collection like this is being able to dip in for a complete story  in a short period of time.

Even though I never stopped at just one story,  because I kept wanting to see which fairytale would come next! I’m already dying to read the next Crystal Lake anthology.

To purchase the anthology  click here.

To find out more about Crystal Lake Publishing click here.

 

The Book Lovers Tag 📓 📔 📕 📗 📘 📙

I was inspired by fellow blogger Ritu at Butismileanyway to do this Book Lover’s tag. Like Ritu, I love to read and I adore books! 📚 My friend and I even set up our own Facebook book club Books, Glorious Books,  and we’re always open to new members.
Image result for book lovers tag
Do you have a specific place for reading?
I can read anywhere but my favourite places are my local library in Hollyhill and my bed. I just love my bed and my bedside locker has a mountain of books on it!
Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?
I have a collection of lots of different Harry Potter bookmarks 🔖 but I am sometimes forced to turn down a page! Sorry, Mr/ Ms Librarian!
Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of the chapter?
I try to stop at the end of a chapter, otherwise I’m making up my own chapter ending in my head!
Do you eat or drink while reading?
Yes, to the drink – I love a nice glass of red wine 🍷  with a juicy horror.   No, to food. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the messiest eater going! My books would be destroyed!
Music or TV while reading?
I like to read while my husband watches soccer, the noise doesn’t bother me when I’m on book world.
One book at a time or several?
I usually have at least three books on the go – a Kindle book for on the go or late night weekend reading, a physical library book and an audio book for my drive home from work. I know, that’s a lot of books!! 😀
Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?
The library, at home, a cafe, the car – I’m happy anywhere with a book!
Read out loudly or silently?
Read out loud in my head!
Do you read ahead or skip pages?
Never!! But I do tend to speed read!
Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I’m not the most careful person, so generally the spine is broken. But my books were handled with clumsy loving hands.
Do you write in your books?
Nope! The only writing I like in my most special books are dedications from the author, like the wonderful dedication from Andrea Hayes in my Life Goals Journal.
I won’t nominate anyone specific, but I do urge you to have a go at the tag if you are a book lover too, just for the fun of it!
Link back to me so I can read your answers!
Happy reading!

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 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.’