Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A spooky short story recommended for Halloween.

Ideal reading for Halloween...

Northwest Passage by Barbara Roden
An old woman named Peggy lives alone in a remote cabin surrounded by wilderness.  One day she encounters two young men, Jack and Robert, who are living and getting up to who-knows-what in an abandoned prospector's cabin some miles away.  As she begins a friendship with Jack, a sinister force emerges from the wilds.

This is a subtle and chilling story that works through small touches rather than big scares, such as some affecting use of wind-chimes, and by building atmosphere.  After reading it, you'll be wondering quite how Roden managed to terrify you so much whilst appearing to reveal so little.

Find it in Roden's collection North West Passages.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

On Fire

The On Fire anthology from Transmundane Press is ready to drop on 1st December.  Included in the lineup is my own 'Combustible', a story about Gene, a man with an unusual gift/curse.  To complicate matters Gene also has a stormy relationship with his rock star brother, an encounter with a groupie, an infant child and a wife who considers him a danger to her life.


Capable of creation and destruction, fire burns within us.
Behind the thick, black smoke of our lives, we blaze with our own unique flame.
While love compels some, others feed greed and lust into their hearths.
A tool for the deft hand, used with magic or as a weapon, but irresponsibility leaves deep burns and promises dreadful consequences.

ON FIRE brings to light twenty-six tales that explore this unpredictable yet beautiful element.

Handle with care."

Thursday, 28 September 2017

New novella: A Chance of Snow

Summer's over, the nights are drawing in, leaves are falling, there's a slight chill in the air, winter's around the corner, Christmas is only three months away (where did the year go, right?), so what better time to officially launch my new novella A Chance of Snow?*

Here's the blurb:

"Struggling for survival in an abandoned city after a deadly outbreak, Jay one day chances upon something that will allow him access to the one remaining refuge, Station Island. To get there, though, he must cross the city of Horburg. No easy task, since Horburg’s streets are ruled by ruthless gangs. And there are worst dangers lurking in the alleyways and railway tunnels. Accompanied by his friend, Diamond, Jay will set out to face the city’s many pitfalls; a quest that will test their courage and allegiance to breaking point."

If this sounds like something you might enjoy reading one of these cold, dark nights you can pick it up here:  Amazon UK.  Amazon US.

*There will be absolutely no chance of snow in the South West of England where I live, but every year I keep on hoping.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


I love this poster for the film IT.

I'd been eagerly awaiting the release of this film even since it was announced some years ago. I enjoyed the book, which I read when I was about 20 or so, early in my Stephen King obsession which turned me on to horror.  Even then, I was infuriated by the ending (and one particular scene in particular which the two film versions have wisely discarded).

I enjoyed the film, but would have preferred a less is more approach with the horror as I didn't find it particularly scary.

Great poster though.

Monday, 21 August 2017

August Update

Astonishingly, it's August already and the weather here in the UK is not too dissimilar to India during monsoon season.  So far, so reassuringly familiar.  It's been a busy year for me on the writing and publishing front.

July saw the publication of the fifth Dark Lane Anthology, which I edited, put together, and contributed a story to - in this case my tale of an English town afflicted by a mysterious whiff called 'The Stench'.  One of the joys of putting these books together is approaching writers I admire and asking them to 'headline' (as I've said before, in my head I'm staging Glastonbury), and occasionally having them agree!  Past 'headliners' have included James Everington, Rebecca Lloyd, K.J. Bishop, and Charles Wilkinson.  For Volume Five, I approached L.S. Johnson, a wonderful writer who I believe deserves more attention.  L.S. kicks things off in this volume with her story 'Ada, Awake' which in the paperback version is accompanied by a fantastic illustration from Sally Barnett.

Aswell as keeping busy writing more stories, including trying my hand at historical supernatural fiction, I've managed to place some stories with publishers.  My story about a washed-up rock star visited by a mysterious muse, 'Unwritten Songs', was accepted by Not One Of Us.  Another story, 'Raking Light' - which has been described as a cross between The Picture of Dorian Gray and Stephen King's Pet Semetary will be published in the Midnight Morsels horror anthology from Rice Paper Press.  'Combusible', a story about brotherly relationships and unnatural gifts, one of my favourite stories I've written, has been accepted for the On Fire anthology from Transmundane Press.  I was also lucky enough to have had my story 'Besta Branco' accepted for the Strange Beasties anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing, the second story this publisher has accepted from me this year - something for which I'm very grateful.
More stories are out there under consideration, so maybe there'll be a few more added to the acceptance list before the year is out.

Lastly, here's a quick plug for some short story collections I've been enjoying recently.  Malcolm Devlin's 'You Will Grow Into Them' is an excellent collection of strange tales.  I first discovered this writer through a story published in Undertow Books' 'Shadows and Tall Trees Vol.7'.  Undertow also recently published Mike O'Driscoll's 'The Dream Operator' which I've been enjoying dipping into just lately.

On the music front, a recent BBC Prom reminded me of my love for Scott Walker's music.  So, to give this blog post a nicely circular feel, I'll end with 'It's Raining Today'.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Man on the Moon

The latest story of mine to be published is The Man on the Moon - a short tale about the lies people tell to protect their children and the potential consequences of those lies - which appears online in Summer 2017 edition of The Menacing Hedge.  Anyone who's interested can read it here.

Like alot of people, I've had a long time fascination with the moon - it being the most observable rock out in space beyond our own, and I'm sure this won't be the last time it appears in my fiction.

My thanks to the team at Menacing Hedge for accepting this story.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Hear published in Cat's Breakfast anthology

My sci-fi short story, Hear, has been published in the Third Flatiron anthology 'Cat's Breakfast'.  The story concerns a pop song that causes people to feel inexplicably sad and restless, and a teenage girl who attempts to understand why.

The lineup for the anthology also features, among others, Edward Ahern, an excellent writer who I've previously published in the Dark Lane Anthologies.

Thanks to editor Juliana Rew for purchasing my story for the anthology.

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Thousand Hours

My short story, 'A Thousand Hours', appears in a new anthology from UK-based publisher Mantle Lane Press called Mrs Rochester's Attic: Tales of Madness, Strange Love, and Deep, Dark Secrets.  Check out that awesome cover!

The title of the book says it all really, so there isn't anything more for me to add except to say that my own story is a near-future tale of a lonely sales rep named Ryker and the new love of his life, Gen.  To say more would give the story away.  Except below:

“I didn’t used to believe in it,” Ryker would tell people whenever he got the opportunity.  “But now I do because I’ve found it.  I’ve found it with her.  With Gen.  Sure I’ve had feelings before, right?  But not like this.  Never like this.  There’s not the smallest doubt in my mind that what Gen and I have is true love.  The kind of love you hear about in all the songs.  The kind of love you never really understand until you’ve felt it.  Something real.”

Many thanks to editor Matthew Pegg for including my story in this great-looking book.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Real Rachel Winterbourne

My short story The Real Rachel Winterbourne has been published on Perihelion Science Fiction online magazine.  The story concerns a man named Jim, whose supermodel wife Rachel agrees to make clones of herself so that the clones can be sold to the highest bidder.  When his marriage breaks down Jim begins to wonder if Rachel has in fact left him, switching herself with one of the clones, and eventually sets out on a quest to discover the truth.

In my mind, this story was set in the same near-future world as Voids, the novella I co-authored with Martin Greaves

The Real Rachel Winterbourne is free to read online here.

I'm proud of this story, so I'm happy it found a good home at Perihelion.  My thanks to Editor-in-Chief Sam Bellotto Jr for purchasing it.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Life Among The Insects

March will see the publication of a couple of the sci-fi short stories I wrote last year. First up will be my story of human cloning, The Real Rachel Winterbourne, which will appear online in Perihelion Magazine on March 12th.

Then on 28th March, Dark Designs: Tales of Mad Science will be released by Shadow Work Publishing.  The book will open with my story Life Among the Insects.  This is the story of Catherine, a scientist working at a government facility studying various types of chameleonic creatures, including some top secret life-forms that are kept below ground.  

Profits from the sale of Dark Designs will go to a great cause: Doctors Without Borders.

You can see the cover art and Table of Contents for Dark Designs above.  My thanks to the good people at Shadow Work Publishing for including my story.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Five of my favourite short stories read in 2016

In lieu of some kind of year end list (and coming a bit late anyway) I thought I'd just list here five great speculative short stories that I read last year.

1. For Two Songs by Rebecca Lloyd
The final story in Rebecca Lloyd's 'Ragman and other Family Curses' from Egaeus Press, this is a creepy and original story revolving around sibling rivalry and the Victorian practice of taking portraits of the dead.  One of the best subtle creepy shorts I've read for awhile.

2. Vacui Magia by L.S. Johnson
A poignant tale of yearning and loss, beautifully told by L.S. Johnson in the style of an instruction manual, here a witch endeavours to give her fading mother the grandchild she always wished for by some rather unconventional means.

This haunting tale is also the title story from Johnson's excellent debut collection of stories.

3. Honey Moon by D.P.Watt
From the collection 'Almost Insentient, Almost Divine' from Undertow Books, and for me the standout and the most conventional story in the book. This is the tale of a young couple honeymooning in a borrowed cottage where their initial reticence towards each other is eventually overtaken by pagan forces. I have to be honest and say that I found this book a bit of a trial, perhaps because Watt's tales are better read and mulled over one at a time rather than as a collection, but this story certainly leaps off the page.

4. Roadkill by Robert Shearman
After a disastrous attempt at conducting an affair, a woman on the way home with her lover runs over a kind of bat-rabbit thing which may or may not represent love.  A story everyone can relate to (?).

5. Magritte's Secret Agent by Tanith Lee
A peculiar slant on the mermaid tale by the late, great Tanith Lee.  This takes it's inspiration from Magritte's painting of a stranded merman with the head of a fish and legs of a man (rather than the other way around).  The story tells of a shop worker who becomes enamoured of a beautiful but unresponsive young man in a wheelchair, and the efforts she eventually makes to set him free.