Friday, 30 May 2014

Inside a Writer's Mind - The Dark World of Anthony Crowley

My guest today is horror fiction and poetry writer Anthony Crowley who is sharing his thoughts on crossing the boundaries between two distinct and very different writing disciplines:

I believe fiction and poetry each possess their own certain strengths. When I write dark poetic verses, I like to be as visual as possible, and focus mainly on the certain subject or theme. When I wrote, The Fallen Angel (which was featured in Sanitarium Magazine Issue 14 and now included in Tombstones), I focused mainly on the character and its involvement, whereas if I had created a fiction story, I would have focused on not just the character but also the surrounding theme. That is what differs between the poetry and fiction literature I write.

One of the philosophies I have when I create my ideas is to imagine a single word that will take form as the seed. The flow of the words shall then create the branches. Finally the end result is my 'tree of creation'. 

Between March and April this year, I published two collections. The first was a compilation of the poetic verses I'd written from late 2013, along with some new dark verses penned during early 2014. I decided to name this anthology, Tombstones, because of how something sacred and strong is never forgotten - its memory held intact. I wanted the anthology to be like a visual journey, featuring the various elements to coincide with Horror. I also believe that psychological subjects within Horror can be, at times, the most terrifying, due to their realism and how we can readily identify with them. 

When I wrote Broken upon Evil, I wanted to play the role of the subject and feel the fear and emotional darkness within, before the character is condemned to die. Another example where I used the psychological aspect can be found in Echoes of a Sad Clown and Wheels of Damnation. The result is two completely different dark poetic themes, but with similar elements. Another idea I had was to write something about medieval torture devices, still in the same category as Horror, but also with historical reference. As a result, Bed of Rust was inspired by the Iron Maiden torture instrument. 

'Shivering cold
       condemned to die
   infernal mantle
    last wish to cry'

The Crying Judas was another historical themed verse. Here I was inspired by the infamous 'Judas Chair' - also known as the 'Judas Cradle' and quite popular within the castles of medieval England. The terrified victim would be seated upon this triangular apparatus and the pyramid shaped point would be inserted into either their anus or genital region, inflicting merciless pain and suffering.

'Gallantly posed
terrorized lair
      monarchy sadness
  frightfully stare' 

The words above were supposedly actual events which occurred involving the 'Judas Chair' and the French monarchy.  
Tombstones also includes more dark and deeper verses, each with its own strength and characteristic role.

Soon after I published Tombstones, I focused on another anthology; this time a collection consisting of short fiction stories and poetic verses. I titled it The Black Diaries, and featured a raven on the cover artwork as my tribute to the classic works of Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price. In this collection, The Conjuring Road is a short story themed around elements of voodoo and the supernatural. The main character is a small boy named Michael Sparks, who is unaware of his father's whereabouts. As the story unfolds, he discovers more about his identity and the secret identity of his peers. The story was initially named The Oakwood Nightmare, but I realized that I needed a title which summed up the story idea. The dark verse of Ghost & the Raven and Resurrection are inspired by  classic Horror cinematic roles. In the concluding story, Sleeping Village, I wanted to include psychological moments of fear - and twists. The main character, Edward Fitzroy Fuller, wakes from a sub-conscious nightmare to face something even more deviously unknown; he makes discoveries that lead him to realize that his life has always been a nightmare. 

I recently wrote a short story called, The Gathering. The initial inspiration for this came from The House on Haunted Hill. I included a few twists in the tale, with a disturbing plot and traditional Horror style. This story is now featured in the recent Haunted Digital Magazine Issue X

I have been fortunate enough to be featured in a number of outstanding Horror magazines - one of which is the top rated Massacre Magazine. In their first issue, they published my poem, The Ripper. The magazine itself is a superb compilation of some of the best literature in modern Horror, and I am very appreciative that not only did they publish this poem, but also a second work of mine - Constructing Death, partially inspired by Peter Cushing and Frankenstein.

 During the same period of writing those works, I wrote The Blackened Witch and Forgotten Asylum for Issues 15 and 16 of Sanitarium Magazine, which are also popular dark, psychological verses. 

 I find inspiration all around me, providing me with a constant flow of ideas. As long as there is fresh air, there is always a fresh idea. I imagine my mind as a huge house with many doors, and behind these doors is a new chapter or idea being born. 

I am currently in the process of releasing my novella, The Mirrored Room. It will be an interesting story in which the reader can conclude the outcome for themselves. In addition, I am writing a new short story - Symphony of Blood (my introduction to a new killer). 

You can connect with Anthony here:

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Still In The Holiday Mood...

...I return from a week or so of exploring some of Italy's greatest treasures to find that Milady Fury has awarded me with this trophy. Now, she has a Very Inspiring Blog of her own and here it is:

Milady is one for clear, set rules. For this award, the first two are to display the logo and link back to the person nominating you. Job done.

Rule Three - Share seven things about yourself. OK, let's have a bit of fun and keep up that holiday spirit:

1.  I am nocturnal. Really. Most nights, I stay up way into the night and usually get my best story ideas at around two or three in the morning. Then I have to write them down of course.

2.  I am addicted to liquorice. I can't just eat one piece, I have to eat half the bag. Unfortunately, this has led to longer than desirable sessions in the dentist's chair having my teeth deep cleaned or whatever they call it. As I have a pathological fear of dentists, I have reluctantly had to discipline myself to stay away from those enticing little bags of the delicious stuff.

3.  I am terrified of almost every insect imaginable, with the possible exception of ladybirds and butterflies - but I still don't want them in my flat.

4. Apart from the many wonderful sites we visited in southern Italy, I became some sort of magnet for these delightful little lizards and fell in love with them. This one posed for his close up on a stone outside a temple in Paestum. Once I'd taken it, he scampered away.

5. I'm fascinated by Russian imperial history - especially Tsar Nicholas II and his ill-fated family. His whole reign was dogged by tragedy, resulting in the most appalling lack of judgement - especially over their almost total dependence on Rasputin, who convinced them that he was the only one who could help their haemophiliac son, Alexei, I have a long term - as yet unsatisfied - hankering to visit St Petersburg and see where they lived. One day...

6.  In my angst ridden teenage years, I wrote poetry, and read everything by Rod McKuen I could lay my hands on. All these years later, I still enjoy his poems. I love their simplicity and emotion. Curling up with one of his books is one of my guilty pleasures.

7.  If I had a time machine, I would hop into it and travel back to the 1880s and one of Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill's famous dinner parties. Somehow, I would wangle an invitation and enjoy a convivial evening of wit and repartee in the company of the lady herself - Winston Churchill's mother - Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langtry, and maybe even the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) might drop in... 

Rules for this Award:

1.Thank the person who nominated you.

2.Add the Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.

3.Share 7 things about yourself.

4.Nominate a list of bloggers that inspire you.

5.Include this set of rules.

6.Inform your nominees
Here are my nominees:

Susan Roebuck
Uvi Poznansky
Ute Carbone (Inside The Writer's Garret)

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Ghost Bride of 19th Street

My novella – Linden Manor – features the ghost of Lady Celia Fitzmichael, about whom a scary nursery rhyme was written, which haunted my main character, Lesley Carpenter. In it, Lady Celia is never mentioned by name. Instead, she is referred to as ‘The Scottish bride.’ And woe betide you if you laid eyes on her ‘blackened face’.
Since completing my story, I’ve been inspired to go in search of other ghostly brides and, today, my quest has led me to the tragic story of Holly, a vibrant and lovely young woman with everything to live for, looking forward to celebrating her forthcoming wedding.

The events took place many years ago in Erie, Pennsylvania, a town criss-crossed by rail tracks. Sadly, these tracks have known more than their fair share of tragedies over the years. On one particular Saturday evening in late October, the weather had been unseasonably warm and pretty much every bar in town was crammed with young people, dressed in Halloween costumes, celebrating the witching season. One private club – The Queen’s Pawn – was noted for mounting the most extravagant and popular of these events. They held a competition for the ‘perfect costume’ and Holly entered. Her perfect costume was a wedding dress and that is what she wore. Her fiancé wore a Tuxedo and the two drank and danced all evening. At around 3.15 a.m., they left, with a group of around thirty friends.

The club was close to the rail tracks, which they had to cross to get to their cars. A very slow moving train came towards them and a few of the friends jumped on, including Holly’s fiancé. They encouraged her to jump on and join them but, with a full length gown and high heels, coupled with all the alcohol she had drunk, Holly didn’t feel so inclined. But her fiancé put out his hand, her friends urged her on…

Holly jumped. She grabbed the rail, but her dress became caught in the wheels of the train.

Amid screams of terror, her horrified friends saw Holly dragged under the wheels. Her white dress became stained with crimson. Her terrified friends and fiancé fled, as Holly’s body was dragged 100 yards, until a police officer stopped the train.

The rail tracks are gone now, replaced by a road, but people have reported seeing an apparition in the early hours of the morning. A young woman in a wedding dress, wanders down the street where the tracks once lay. She appears to hover a little above ground; then vanishes in a white mist. Eyewitnesses have included people who have never heard Holly’s tragic story. Her death was so horrific and her desertion by her friends and fiancé so reprehensible, it is hardly surprising she finds it hard to rest in peace. A police officer reported, “We had a few guys at the scene that night and they saw a lot of stuff they had a tough time with. They still see things.”  (With thanks to The Paranormal Pastor)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Bootleg Cove (What Waits In The Shadows) - Devin Govaere

 Another member of the quartet of Samhain Publishing's Gothic Horror Anthology winners joins me today. Here's Devin Govaere with some background to her scary, atmospheric tale, Bootleg Cove:

 Good day, everyone! Thanks to Catherine for inviting me to her blog to tell you about my novella, Bootleg Cove. I’m so happy to be included with Catherine and our two fellow authors, Russell James and JG Faherty, in Samhain’s gothic horror anthology, 'What Waits in the Shadows'. Bootleg Cove is the story of a young widow and her son trying to find a new life in an abandoned restaurant on an isolated stretch of Chesapeake Bay. Willie Douglas’ tale takes place within a few days, but the story of how she came into existence takes years.

I’ve been writing for quite a while now—several genres under several different names—but until recently, I avoided writing in the horror or gothic genres. Family and friends have asked why this is, and the answer is hard to admit but also very simple: I was worried about failing.

The horror genre is close to my heart, something so ingrained in my life that it’s part of my earliest memories. I’m sure that parents today might hear my story and believe I had the world’s worst parents, but I can assure you that isn’t the case. My parents encouraged me to embrace the things I love—including horror.

My earliest memories of horror—and my earliest real memories—began when I was five. Not only did I start school (which I hated), I had a dream that scared the socks off me. I was lying under a bed, and from my vantage point, I could see a table covered with a red and white checkerboard cloth. I was shaking, frightened beyond anything I’d ever felt before except for leaving my mother every morning to go to kindergarten. In my dream, I held my breath, listening with a pounding heart to the chuffing sounds coming from beyond the table. Soon, two brown, furry feet with long claws came into my view. I pushed myself as far under the bed as I could and stared as the man-animal moved past the bed, its long claws clicking on the wood floor. And just as I thought my little five-year-old heart would burst, I woke up.

From that moment I was hooked. I’d been scared out of my mind and come out the other side. I decided I would embrace the darkness before it embraced me. 

Back in my childhood, the horror genre was nothing like it is today. There was very little to appease my desire for thrills and chills. I collected monster models—an unusual hobby for a little girl back then—and monster magazines. I watched The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I went to every Saturday matinee our small town provided. One of my favorite afternoons ever included watching the double feature, The Blob and Dinosaurus!

During those years, I also discovered another outlet for my obsession. I don’t remember how I actually discovered it, but it was probably quite by accident because neither of my parents were into horror. My obsession was called Chiller Theater. We lived near Pittsburgh back then, and every Saturday night, Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille hosted a double feature of B horror flicks. I began to lie awake on Saturday night and sneak out of bed to turn on the TV. Once my mother realized what I was doing, she stayed up with me, and we made a night out of it. She didn’t care for the movies, but she kept me company, ironing quietly behind me while I sat with bated breath watching every monster I could ever have envisioned come to life. I never told her that I’d lie awake for hours afterward with my head under the covers, thinking and worrying and wondering about monsters and how many might truly exist. If I had even whispered a hint of my anxiety, she would have made me stop watching, and the last thing I could do was stop. In fact, the more I watched, the more I craved. The more I watched, the safer I felt because I was equipping myself with knowledge, about both monsters and how to defeat them.

 The years passed, and I added books to my obsession, reading everything and anything I could. When I began to write, it seemed logical I would latch on to the genre that had filled my life, but I didn’t—because I never felt I could live up to all of those creative geniuses who had given me such fun over the years. Then I saw the call for submissions for gothic horror at Samhain. For the first time I considered writing something I’d avoided all these years. It came easily, just flowing out as though it had been there all along, just waiting for me to be ready to put it to paper. I enjoyed every minute of the process.

I don’t imagine most people spend a lifetime preparing for one simple thing like writing a story. I certainly took the long way on the writing path, but when I reached the end, I felt like I was home. The Crab Pot on Bootleg Cove, and the people who’ve lived there, have become part of who I am now. I’ve since written another story that will soon be published by Samhain as well, and I plan to continue writing stories of darkness, pulling on memories and dreams and every bump in the night that slithers my way.

I hope everyone enjoys reading Bootleg Cove as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Who knows the secret of Bootleg Cove?
Young widow Willie Douglas recently moved to remote, isolated Bootleg Cove on the Chesapeake Bay with her four-year-old son. Her plan—to renovate and re-open an abandoned restaurant. Almost as soon as she arrived, a handyman showed up out of the blue, offering to help. Then Amanda and Sam, two apparently orphaned teenagers, came to her door in need of help and a place to stay. 

But it’s not just the sweltering heat that’s wearing on Willie’s already fragile emotions.  Her mysterious handyman seems to know more than he’s willing to say, Amanda and Sam are acting very strangely indeed, and Willie’s beginning to realize that all three of her houseguests have more history with Bootleg Cove than she could ever have imagined. Willie is seeing too many things that she either can’t explain or refuses to believe.  But the most shocking revelation about Bootleg Cove is still to come… 

Bootleg Cove is available here: