Short Fiction, stories

Forthcoming: Gothic Legends Anthology

I am pleased to announce my short story “The Dark Horseman” will feature in forthcoming horror anthology Legends of Night to be published by Black Ink Fiction.

You can read more about the research behind the legend, folklore and history of the Dullahan, or the Irish headless horseman, here.

More details on preorder links, and how to purchase copies of Legends of Night coming soon!

research, Short Fiction, stories

The Irish Headless Horseman

I have always been fascinated by the folklore of the headless horseman. I first became aware of this harbinger of death in the famous story by Washington Irving The Legend of Sleepy Hollow set in rural region in the state of New York. But the Irish legend of the Dullahan (“dark man”), the headless horseman is a harbinger of death. In the legend of the Dullahan, he carries a moldy severed head under his arm, taking a blood sacrifice (and the head) of his intended victim. According to folklore of the Dullahan, he only speaks once during his furious ride through village and field, and those words are only for his victim, the sacrifice.

The connection between the headless horseman and sacrifice is related to Celtic mythology and the ancient god, Crom Dubh, a fertility god to whom blood sacrifices were made. In county Cavan, the Killycluggin stone is believed to be an ancient representation of Crom Dubh, and like the Dullahan of legend travelling the roads, the large carved stone was found on a main road close to a nearby Bronze Age stone circle.

I was inspired by the Dullahan, this embodiment of Crom Dubh, and in writing a short story, I’ve incorporated these elements of folklore, legend, archaeology and mythology to weave a new tale of this infamous headless horseman.

reads, Recent Reads

Mongrels

Publisher’s Description:

“He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrelsmust decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.

For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes—always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.


Review:

One of my recent reads was Mongrels by US author Stephen Graham Jones. I am a fan of classic horror themes and for me, the werewolf is one of the best, but it is also one which I feel is less explored. Mongrels promises to make up for this, and does so, delivering an authentic werewolf story.

The protagonist and narrator remain unnamed throughout the story, but follows a pre-adolescent boy through to his late teens growing up in a family of werewolves. Although, he has not yet changed into a werewolf himself- we learn early that most werewolves are born human and only become shape-shifters usually around puberty – or sometimes, not at all. Following his grandfather’s death, the boy and his aunt and uncle take to the road, travelling across the Deep South of America, never staying long in most places.

Mongrels changes between the past, the boy’s childhood years and his lessons learned, and the adolescent years as he waits, and wonders – hopes even- that he will change into a werewolf, that the blood he sees as a link to family, to his aunt and uncle, his grandfather, will prove itself. This is an insightful look at family, heritage and the broken aspects of society where those like the werewolves, who long for the freedom are restrained by society and its expectations.

Final Thoughts:

Mongrels is an entirely new exploration of a classic monster from Horror fiction. The style of writing adds a beautiful, literary prose with the occasional bursts of graphic violence that both shock and deliver emphasis to the ‘reality’ of a horror story. Although narrated like a ‘coming of age’ story, Mongrels is much more than that, with the selection of fascinating characters and situations that propel the storyline forward across time and space of the characters’ lives. Combining the ‘bigger than big’ tales of legend with the character’s histories, the sense of reality and fiction blend seamlessly. Skilfully written, and entraining even when the plot feels like it’s drifting, it feels comfortable given the narration style.

Conclusion:

A highly recommended read for those who enjoy contemporary horror and dark fiction. Stephen Graham Jones provides a wonderful literary approach to the werewolf theme, re-making a classic monster into an entirely new and authentic concept. Cannot recommend highly enough!

research, Short Fiction, Writing

Gothic Folklore of the Shipwreck Coast

In a recent story, I explored one of the worst shipwrecks that occurred off south-eastern Australia, a notorious stretch of coast known as the “shipwreck coast”. I have been fascinated by the history behind a treacherous, narrow bay, the Loch Ard Gorge named after the 1878 shipwreck of the Loch Ard merchant ship, one of the Australia’s deadliest shipwrecks, where only two survived from the 54 on board.

Loch Ard Gorge is located near Cape Otway on the south-eastern Australian coastline where the infamous southern Ocean has eroded the sandstone coastline creating many the natural rock formations including the ‘twelve apostles’ along the Great Australian Bight. This region is prone to storms and pounding surf from the Antarctic, and rich marine ecosystems of great white sharks, seals, whales, dolphins and many species of fish and other marine life. This thriving region is also home to more than two hundred shipwrecks during Australia’s colonial history, a short span of time compared to the sixty thousand years of indigenous occupation.

In writing my own fictionalised account of this historic event, I imagined a third survivor, one who fled England for Melbourne undetected, a damned soul for who must eventually pay their due. I was inspired and fascinated by the gothic folklore of the sea, damned sea voyages encapsulated in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and Homer’s The Odyssey among others.

Long Fiction, Writing

A Dystopian History

One of my works-in-progress has been a dystopian novella. While many dystopian stories and novels explore the future, I was interested in combining a dark fiction genre with alternate history, to ask what if our present never happened?

In developing my own tale, I was inspired by those classic dystopian tropes we are already familiar, with and have been imagined, classic novels like 1984 by George Orwell and The Stand by Stephen King which were my first introduction to dystopian literature and dark fiction. In considering modern history, I focused on scenarios that most-closely mirrored those classic dystopian futures which are already familiar to most readerships.

The events of the First World War were a turning point in modern history, where wars were fought on a global scale for the first time, the speed of development from the Industrial Revolution had a profound impact on the natural landscape and the capacity for mechanised warfare, casualties were high, chemical warfare was employed, and the occurrence of the 1918 Flu pandemic also incorrectly called the “Spanish Flu”.

The horrors of the First World War were catastrophic for those who survived and as a historical legacy. In modern history, it is often considered a turning point. After the First World War, the course of humanity was forever altered, a reality that affects our present, and likely, our future.

reads, Recent Reads

Son of a Trickster

Publisher’s Description:

Meet Jared Martin: sixteen-year-old pot cookie dealer, smoker, drinker and son with the scariest mom ever. But Jared’s the pot dealer with a heart of gold–really. Compassionate, caring, and nurturing by nature, Jared’s determined to help hold his family together–whether that means supporting his dad’s new family with the proceeds from his baking or caring for his elderly neighbours. But when it comes to being cared and loved, Jared knows he can’t rely on his family. His only source of love and support was his flatulent pit bull Baby, but she’s dead. And then there’s the talking ravens and the black outs and his grandmother’s perpetual suspicion that he is not human, but the son of a trickster.


My Review:

Son of a Trickster (Trickster Trilogy, #1) by Canadian First Nations author Eden Robinson, a contemporary fantasy inspired by folktales and beliefs of several First Nations tribes in the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America and Canada.

The protagonist is Jared, a teenage boy struggling to find his place in the world, his self-destructive mother who, despite a fierce love for him, is often more a danger than a help. Jared has his own personal issues to fight and, despite caring for his elderly neighbour who offers what comfort his mother cannot, Jared is largely alone in his world.

The turmoil of Jared’s life begins to boil over when several strange experiences start occurring, ravens begin talking to him, and the lingering words of his maternal grandmother, insisting he is the son of a raven trickster. Struggling to hold his family together, his only money making venture (pot-dealing) is crushed, and desperate to keep his family afloat, Jared soon discovers his mother is more than he ever imagined as the supernatural world of Tricksters and those who oppose them seek him out.

Final Thoughts:

Son of Trickster is a fascinating exploration of Canadian First Nations culture with the ever-present backdrop of life in a small town. The sense of otherness caused from discrimination, whether it is racial or socioeconomic, adds lived heartache to the story.

My Conclusion?

A recommended read for anyone interested in Canadian First Nations cultures of the Pacific Northwest, the complex and quirky characters are delightful and bring the story alive with the uniqueness of each. A modern fable for growing up, finding strength and independence….with the added pressure of a Trickster heritage.

events, Short Fiction, Writing

Wrath Anthology Release


I am pleased to announce that the speculative fiction anthology Wrath (Seven Deadly Sins, #7) published by Black Hare Press was released on 30th April, 2021. The final instalment in the themed series based on the Seven Deadly Sins, short stories featuring in Wrath are all based on “Wrath: Manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury.”

My short story “Them” explores the theme of Wrath in a dark fiction, delving into aspects of psychopathy and demonology. You can about my research for the story here.

If you would like to purchase ebook, paperback or hardback copies of Wrath (The Seven Deadly Sins, #7), more details can be found here.

Short Fiction, Writing

Forthcoming: Vampire Anthology


I am very excited to be included in Bloodlust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2) forthcoming in 2021 from Black Ink Fiction. This vampire Microfiction anthology will feature two of my 100 word drabbles inspired by vampiric lore, “The Hungering” and “The Burial”. You can read more about my research here.

Keep a watch for more details on release dates for Blood Lust (Legends of Night Drabbles, #2) coming in 2021.

Short Fiction, Writing

Forthcoming: Haunted House Anthology


Haunted houses are one of my favourite horror themes and I’m very excited to feature in the forthcoming Death House anthology from Raven & Drake Publishing. Death House is an anthology combining short stories and microfiction. My drabble “Agnes House” is inspired true and fictional crimes, a dark fiction tale where the supernatural is horrifyingly human.

Stay tuned for more details on how to purchase a copy of Death House coming soon!

events, Writing

April Horrors Anthology Release

I’m excited to announce the release on March 17, 2021 of April Horrors (A 100 Word Horror Collection) published by Raven and Drake Publishing featuring two of my micro-fiction pieces “Necropants” and “The Devil’s Fool”.

April Horrors is a dark April Fools themed anthology is inspired by tricks, jokes and pranks gone awry. My Drabble “The Devil’s Fools”, set in medieval Europe and inspired by the folklore, fear and association between suspected witches and the Devil. The second Drabble “Necropants”, set in Viking Age Iceland and inspired by the folklore of wearing a man’s flayed lower-half, the ‘pants’ ensorcelled to always provide constant coins. Want to learn more about my research for these two stories? You can read more here.

Interested in purchasing an ebook or paperback copy of April Horrors (A 100 Word Horror Collection) ? More details, purchase links and options can be found here.