Monday, 9 July 2018

Demons, Revenge, Ghosts and Hauntings... They're Back!


Thanks to my lovely publishers, Crossroad Press, five of my titles which have been out of print are now back, in shiny new editions and with stunning new covers. Here they come:

Cold Revenge

Some dinner invitations are best ignored...

For no apparent reason, Nadine, Maggie, Gary, and Nick are invited to dinner at the lavish home of top fashion writer, Erin Dartford. But why has she invited them? Why doesn't she want her guests to mingle? And just what is it about the mysterious Erin that makes them want to run for their lives?

Little do they know that as they prepare to eat their first course, an evil as old as mankind is about to be unleashed. And revenge really is a dish best served cold…



Cold Revenge is available here: 


Miss Abigail's Room
It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…
As the lowest ranking parlour maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence. And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. Becky wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. So when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die.

A darning needle though the heart of the gruesome doll puts everyone at Stonefleet Hall at odds. The head parlour maid seems like someone else, the butler pretends nothing’s amiss, and everyone thinks Becky’s losing her mind. But when the shambling old lord of the manor looks at her, why does he scream as though he’s seen the hounds of hell? 
 Review:
"I enjoyed watching Becky try to unravel what was going on and I was surprised (in a creeped out way) by the things that happened around her. Having those around you pat you on the head and talk around you like you're not there is one of those things that gives me the deep down willies. It was horrible and scary and I liked it a lot. Paranormal horror. There's nothing more terrifying" - Reading the Paranormal 
 Miss Abigail's Room is available from:
The Demons of Cambian Street
 Sometimes evil wears a beautiful face...  
After her illness, the quiet backwater of Priory St Michael seemed the ideal place for Stella to recuperate. But in the peaceful little town, something evil is slumbering, waiting for its chance to possess what it desires. When Stella and her husband move into the long-empty apartment, they're unaware of what exists in the cupboard upstairs, the entrance to an evil that will threaten both their lives…
The Demons of Cambian Street is available from:
 The Devil Inside Her



Haunted by the death of her husband and only child, Elinor Gentry’s recurring nightmares have left her exhausted. She’s crippled by debt, and only the remnants of her former life surround her, things she can’t bear to sell, and wouldn’t make much profit from if she did. Then, for no apparent reason, the nightmares transform into pleasant dreams. Dreams that lead her to take back control of her life.

A string of horrific and unexplained suicides–and an unnerving discovery about Elinor herself—lead her best friend to seek help from the one person who has seen all this before, and things begin to spiral out of control. Hazel Messinger knows that Elinor’s newly found wellbeing is not what it seems, and Hazel’s not about to let the demon inside remain there permanently.
The Devil Inside Her is available from;

The Second Wife
 Emily Marchant died on Valentine’s Day. If only she’d stayed dead…
When Chrissie Marchant first sets eyes on Barton Grove, she feels as if the house doesn’t want her. But it’s her new husband’s home, so now it’s her home as well. Sumptuous and exquisitely appointed, the house is filled with treasures that had belonged to Joe’s first wife, the perfect Emily, whom the villagers still consider the real mistress of Barton Grove.
 
A stunning photograph of the first Mrs. Marchant hangs in the living room, an unblemished rose in her hand. There’s something unnerving and impossibly alive about that portrait, but it’s not the only piece of Emily still in the house. And as Chrissie’s marriage unravels around her, she learns that Emily never intended for Joe to take a second wife…
Reviews
"This story is a fantastic choice for anyone who prefers to allow their imagination to inflate certain horrors instead of asking the author to spell everything out in bright red letters." Long and Short Reviews
"Wonderfully creepy and intriguing." - Reading the Paranormal
  The Second Wife is available from:

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ghostly Baker Street


Say the name ‘’Baker Street’ to most people and their immediate thoughts will turn to Sherlock Holmes, the seemingly infallible detective of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s extraordinary (if occasionally flawed) imagination. Ask them to name anything else connected with this street and many (including me) will mention the haunting and poignant autobiographical song by Gerry Rafferty.

Baker Street is in Marylebone in the heart if the bustling city. It has an underground station (on the Bakerloo line) and right around the corner stands Madame Tussaud’s and the London Planetarium, but Baker Street itself is an unprepossessing thoroughfare, with seemingly little but legend to recommend it.

  Named after the builder, William Baker, who laid out the street in the eighteenth century, it started life as a high class residential area but is now comprised mainly of commercial premises; oh, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, situated at – you guessed it – 221B (which isn’t even a real address!). Confusingly, the museum is actually located between numbers 237 and 241.

A number of famous real people have lived in Baker Street –and some appear not to want to leave it. The eighteenth century actress, Sarah Siddons, is one of them. Her house was where number 228 stands today. She is seen walking through walls on the first floor.


 Meanwhile, nearby, the (now closed) two hundred year old Kenwood House Hotel, not only had sightings of an apparition dressed as a Cavalier gentleman, it also possessed that most fascinating of supernatural entities -  haunted furniture. Specifically, the drawers opened and closed by themselves and the mirror…poltergeist activity has been reported. With no guests to tease or terrify, it is not known if the ghosts still haunt.

 At 245-247, the Volunteer Gastropub not only feeds and refreshes its visitors, but guests can also look out for the ghost of Rupert Nevill, whose family owned a large manor house on that site which burned down in 1654. He is said to appear in the cellar – indeed, the cellars are the originals so would be familiar to him.

Deep underground isn’t free of apparitions either. Travellers on the Bakerloo line have reported seeing the reflection of a ghostly figure in the window, sitting next to them. But there is no one there…

I have always been fascinated by haunted locations and, in my novella - Linden Manor - there are ghosts both ancient and more modern congregating in and around a house with many a secret. Here's a taste:

Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body?

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.

Here's where you can find it:



Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Missing Beat - with Author and Bookseller Bob Stone



Today, I am delighted to welcome Bob Stone, who doesn't only write books, he sells them. In his own shop, right at the heart of his local community. I sat him down with a couple of glasses of wine and this is what happened:

Cat: Welcome, Bob and congratulations on your new book, Missing Beat, which kept me reading into the wee, small hours.  This is being marketed as a Young Adult novel, but how would you categorise it?


Bob: Thank you very much. I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Young Adult is a funny category in many ways. I have only recently discovered it and have come across a great many amazing authors. The books can be as powerful and well-written as any adult fiction, but the only real difference is the age of the protagonist. I’ve called Missing Beat Young Adult because some of the content would not be suitable for younger readers, but I like to think that Young Adult is the starting point for the age of the target audience. There is no upper limit!
 
Cat: Well, I haven’t been a young adult for more years than I care to remember and I was hooked from page one. It’s a great adventure and I found the characters totally engaging. Go on, spill, was the difficult-to-love Emma Winrush based on anyone? Promise I won’t tell!

Bob: No-one specific. She’s a bit of a composite, but mainly she’s just drawn from imagination. She was great fun to write though, and I hope the readers like her a little more by the end.

Cat: I felt the two main characters – Joey Cale and Emma Winrush - as total opposites, sparked really well off each other. Was it your intention to make them so different, or did they simply evolve that way?

Bob:  A bit of both, really. I wanted to provide some balance to Joey’s rather more clean-cut personality, but I think the relationship between Joey and Emma changes both of them. Emma makes Joey braver and Joey allows Emma to show a softer side.

Cat: Do you have any interesting writing rituals – a writing room, candles, music that you play?

Bob: I wish I could say I had, but I’m afraid I don’t. I just write wherever and whenever I can. An author friend of mine has a writing hut in her garden, rather like Roald Dahl, and that would be very cool, but I have to be content with my living room at the moment. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

Cat: You’re not only a writer but you also own a bookshop – Write Blend. I happen to know that this is no ordinary book retailer, tell us about your vision for it and how Write Blend came into being.


 Bob: I’ve always wanted to run a bookshop/coffee shop. The two go really well together and when the opportunity arose I jumped at it. These days, though, it’s very hard to be successful if you limit yourself to selling books – there’s too much competition in the supermarkets and online. I see the shop more as an essential community resource. I also work with a number of independent authors, providing a venue for book signings and events, and also as an outlet for their wonderful books, which many other bookshops are sadly reluctant to do.

Cat: With all the work this must entail, when do you find time for writing?

Bob: As and when I can! There are quiet times in the shop when I can do a bit, although I do it feeling guilty that perhaps I should be doing something else. Sunday mornings are also a good time.

Cat: You were born, grew up and have lived almost your entire life in Waterloo - a suburb to the north of Liverpool - and you clearly feel inspired by it, as does another Liverpool writer – a certain Ramsey Campbell –who has used Waterloo as a setting (for example in The Seven Days of Cain). In your opinion, what is it about Waterloo that inspires writers?

 Bob: Ah yes, The Seven Days of Cain, which is set partly in South Road, where Write Blend is. I’ve also had Ramsey here a few times for talks and it’s really strange to be on first-name terms with an author I have long admired. Waterloo is a funny mix. It was once a thriving shopping area, but is less so now. There is also a lot of history – it takes its name from the Battle of Waterloo, there are strong Titanic connections, and I recently found out that there is a strong likelihood that Siegfried Sassoon may well have marched right past where my shop is now on the way to War. Being right on the coast helps and of course now we have Antony Gormley’s Another Place installation, with its one hundred Iron Men all staring out to sea. That has been the backdrop for a number of books and the Iron Men appear in Missing Beat too. 

 Cat: You also chose Pendle Hill as a significant location in the story. This resonated with me as I centred an entire novel there (The Pendle Curse). My lure was the Lancashire Witch Trials, what drew you to that particular spot?

Bob: I love that part of Lancashire. My wife and I honeymooned in Clitheroe and Pendle Hill dominates that area. I was looking for a location which was within reasonable walking distance of Liverpool and Pendle, with its mystical connotations was too good to resist.

 Cat: Which book first inspired you to write and what spurs you on now?

Bob: When I was I my teens and started binge-reading Agatha Christie and writing my own rather derivative whodunnits. I hadn’t really thought about writing for Young Adults until I read a brilliant book called More of Me by Kathryn Evans. That started me reading YA fiction and then I discovered how many superb books there are out there. The idea I had for Missing Beat just seemed to lend itself to the genre. Now I’m spurred on by the very positive reactions there have been to my book, and the support and encouragement of my publishers, Beaten Track Publishing.

Cat: Missing Beat is the first in a trilogy. Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from Books Two and Three and will Joey and Emma be involved?

Bob: Now that would be telling! Anyone who has read Missing Beat will know that there are certain challenges involved in who will be in Book Two, which is likely to be called Beat Surrender, and who won’t. All I can say is that there are questions which remain unanswered by the end of Missing Beat and some will be answered in Book Two. Some, however, may not be answered until Book Three…

Cat: Now, let’s find out a bit more about Missing Beat
 

 Listen to your heart...'

When Joey Cale is almost knocked down by a car, he finds himself alone in a world which is familiar but also ominously different.

Can he overcome the odds and the threat of the terrifying Screamers to find his way home, or is he doomed to be lost forever amongst The Missing?

The first book in an exciting new trilogy.

Available from:


My review of Missing Beat

Imagine you are seventeen years old, you wake up to all the familiar sights, sounds and people you have known all your life. Today's the day you need to go and get your exam results. You tread the route you have taken to school hundreds of times in your life, see your best friend on the other side of the road. The lights are about to change and you can just make it if you hurry. You dash into the road just as a car jumps the lights. It brakes equal. You fall. Your heart stops. When you come to, you are still lying on the road. It's the rest of the world that has changed.

This is the story of Joey Cale - born with a hole in his heart, later repaired by surgery. The world he has now entered looks on the surface identical to the one he knows. It's the small details that are wrong. The newsagent has a different name. There's a different president in the White House. A new Dr Who is male, not female. And then there are the Screamers - and a girl called Emma Winrush.

This novel is being marketed as Young Adult. Well, this much older adult loved it so much she can't wait for the sequel (this is the first in a trilogy). It is a Sci-Fi adventure that will appeal to all ages and genders. The author racks up the tension, creates characters to care about, with all their flaws which make them truly human. Bob Stone may be a new name in fiction but with work of this quality, he is here to stay.

 About the author

Liverpool born Bob Stone is an author and bookshop owner. He has been writing for as long as he could hold a pen and some would say his handwriting has never improved. He is the author of two self-published children's books, A Bushy Tale and A Bushy Tale: The Brush Off. Missing Beat, the first in a trilogy for Young Adults, is his first full-length novel.

Bob still lives in Liverpool with his wife and cat and sees no reason to change any of that.
You can contact Bob at: