Monday 31 January 2022

One of Us - A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington - Yours for Only 99c!

 Frank Michaels Errington made a huge and indelible impact on the horror industry not just as a knowledgeable and constructive book reviewer who challenged and encouraged novice as well as established authors, but also as the kind of person everyone wishes they could have in their lives. In his later years, he suffered from severe and, ultimately fatal, kidney disease. He needed a transplant but, sadly none suitable became available before he succumbed and left us in May, 2019. We miss him still. He was truly 'One of Us'.

Naturally, when I was offered the chance of contributing to an anthology of stories, anecdotes and poetry, I was delighted to oblige. The anthology grew and grew - testament to the high regard in which Frank was - and still is - held. Proceeds from the sale of each copy are donated to the American Transplant Foundation in Frank's name.

My contribution is The Lost Prophecy of Ursual Sontheil and is based on a centuries' old legend of a wise woman (some might say witch). Here's a little of the background to the real Mother Shipton:

In 1488, some say in a cave near the Petrifying Well, a young girl gave birth to an illegitimate daughter: one who would be called Ursula Sontheil but whom history would remember as Mother Shipton.

Mother Shipton was not exactly Yorkshire's answer to Nostradamus but she developed a reputation for her prophecies which involved not just the local people around and about Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, where she lived, but also the great and good of her time.

One of the most famous of these was the then Archbishop of York, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who had never actually visited that city and Mother Shipton predicted he never would. In an attempt to dissuade her from repeating these assertions, the somewhat rattled Wolsey sent three lords to Knaresborough to see her. They told her in no uncertain terms that one of Wolsey's first acts on reaching York would be to see her burn for witchcraft. She laughed in their faces. After all, why should she be scared? He would never get there in order to carry out his threat.

The Archbishop was furious and made haste to travel up from London and prove her wrong. But, just ten miles south of the city, he was arrested for treason and Mother Shipton's prophecy was fulfilled.

Many of her other predictions are legendary - and, shall we say, subject to a certain amount of embellishment and creative interpretation. Did she really predict the advent of ships, submarines, motor transport, and airplanes?: 

 In water, iron then shall float
as easy as a wooden boat...
Through towering hills proud men shall ride,
no horse or ass move by his side.
Beneath the water, men shall walk,
shall ride, shall sleep, shall even talk.
And in the air men shall be seen,
In white and black and even green. 

Or telecommunications?:

Around the world men's thoughts will fly,
quick as the twinkling of an eye 

Indeed, if all the interpretations are to be believed, she predicted the French Revolution, the rise of Nazism, Benjamin Disraeli, and just about every disaster - man-made or otherwise - since the year of her birth. She may have even predicted the European Union.

 Whether true or not, you can today visit the famous Petrifying Well and the cave where she was reputedly born. Click here for details Mother Shipton

The Petrifying Well is said to be unique and, if you take along a teddy bear, leave it there and return five months later, it will have turned to stone. Although, if you can't wait that long you can always buy one in the shop ( 'here's one I prepared earlier'!) 

She may have got some things wrong though - including the date of the end of the world which she allegedly gave as 'eighteen hundred and eighty one', (however, it is entirely possible that the inclusion of any such date was added by someone else, after her death. One of a number of examples of embellishment.)

As that year passed and the world carried on, some versions then amended the date, while others dropped it, although I do have a recollection of it being in the little book of her prophecies given to me when I was about eight or nine. That would have been in the early Sixties and I vaguely remember something about 'nineteen hundred and ninety one', but my memory could be faulty on this.

Mother Shipton was said to have married a man called Toby Shipton at the age of 24 and lived on to be 72 - needless to say this was a date she predicted. Her prophecies and legend live on. Was she really able to see hundreds of years into the future? Or was she just an eccentric, ugly, old poetic witch, mentally a bit flaky, but excellent with herbal cures and potions?

 We will probably never know...

...unless we live to see the fulfillment of her prediction of the future after the apocalyptic end of the world:

... the land that rises from the sea will be dry and clean and soft and free
of mankind’s dirt and therefore be, 
the source of man’s new dynasty. 
And those that live will ever fear 
the dragon’s tail for many year 
but time erases memory 
You think it strange? But it will be!

Until February 5th, One of Us is only 99c on Kindle. Here's the link:


Todd Keisling/Dullington Design Co.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe...For only 99c/99p!


"Cavendish shines in the ways she’s connected to the story, making herself vulnerable to not only her readers but to the ghosts that haunt her." -- Aiden Merchant

The above extract from a review by Aiden Merchant struck a real chord with me. Of all the novels, novellas and short stories I have written so far, In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is the one that resonates the most. The reason is simple. My character, Nessa, is suffering from the same cancer I had. Not that this book is in any way the story of a woman battling the Big C, but her tangled emotions are ones I identify with closely.

Of course, in my case, I didn't also have to fight a deadly evil lurking in the corridors of a hospital. Nor did I have to take on surreal time-slips, doors which shouldn't have been there, or a fellow patient with something rather more than a medical problem!

And that's only for starters. What about Carol? The main character of the first half of the story?

Ah...but that would be telling too much, wouldn't it?

Find out for yourself and, if you act now, you'll get the full story for only 99cents or 99p depending on whether you live in the UK, US, Canada or Australia.

"...if there is a crown of queen of gothic horror, [Catherine Cavendish] should be wearing it." — Modern Horrors

"A compelling, immersive, and intense time-slip horror novel with sympathetic characters that readers actively root for. The tale reads like The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle if it were written by Sarah Pinborough." -- Library Journal

"Cavendish breathes new life into familiar horror tropes in this spine-tingling tale of past and present colliding" - Publishers' Weekly

“In Darkness, Shadows Breathe” is a treat for those who are in the mood for scary, supernatural horror." Rajiv’s Reviews

You're next...

Carol and Nessa are strangers, but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows n boundaries and crosses dimensions - bending and twisting time itself - and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls, and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness...

From Jan 26th-30th In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is available for only 99c/99p from:

T shirt design by Ilan Sheady

Flame Tree Studio

Monday 17 January 2022

Spring-Heeled Jack

They seek him here, they seek him there…but Spring-Heeled Jack can turn up anywhere.

Here is a legend that first began in early Victorian England. A man with the apparent ability to leap over walls and capable of turning up anywhere from the Black Country (in the Birmingham, West Midlands area) to Liverpool, Chichester, and London - even a foray to Scotland. Sightings of this fantastical and scary creature grew to a peak in the 1880s – especially in the West Midlands.

So what did he look like? Descriptions vary with the witness, but some characteristics occur more frequently than others. He was alleged to possess a goatee beard and devil’s horns, pointed ears, and flashing eyes of fire. The popular Penny Dreadfuls of the day depicted him looking like a swarthy devil. Another feature common to all sightings was his ability to leap high over hedges, walls, rooftops with complete ease. He terrified his victims by suddenly leaping in front of them, or up behind them.

 In 1855, one report saw him in Old Hill in the West Midlands, where he leaped from the roof of the Cross Inn public house over to the roof of the butcher’s shop across the road. This occurrence was swiftly followed by reports of other sightings in the area and a wave of panic from the local populace.

A period of quiet was followed in 1877 was followed by a whole spate of sightings in Blackheath, Dudley and the Acocks Green area of Birmingham in 1877. Spring-Heeled Jack continued to be active through the 1880s. The Birmingham Post in 1886 reported that: “First a young girl, then a man, felt a hand on their shoulder, and turned to see the infernal one with glowing face, bidding them a good evening.”

 He usually appeared at night and targeted mainly young women. Originally his intention appears to have been to scare rather than cause actual harm to his victims. But before too long, he tired of this tame pursuit and his modus operandi turned from scary to full blown assault. On one occasion, he was said to have been accompanied by companions, all dressed in armour, who attacked a carpenter, ripping his clothes to shred. There was a suggestion in the press that the assailants were a group of, essentially bored, young gentlemen out to get their kicks by frightening people so much they lost their wits. Most of the people prepared to talk to the newspapers about Jack presented mere hearsay. It hadn’t happened to them, but to a friend of a friend.

 The first credible account came from 18-year-old Jane Alsop who, in February of 1838, reported to magistrates that she had been approached by a man dressed in a cloak, near the gate of her home in Bearbinder Lane, near Bow, London. He had asked her to bring a candle as the police had caught Spring-Heeled Jack nearby. She duly did so. He took the candle from her, opened his cloak and she caught sight of his “hideous and frightful appearance”. He then vomited a blue and white flame and his eyes became like “balls of fire”. He wore a helmet and tight-fitting clothes and he began to set about her with metal claws, ripping her dress and tugging out her hair. She managed to escape his clutches when her older sister, hearing her cries, opened the door and dragged her inside before shutting the beast firmly out.

In Limehouse, London, a girl called Lucy Scales, along with a female friend, was accosted by a gaunt man, of seemingly gentlemanly appearance. She was so scared she collapsed in a fit. In this instance, two men were actually brought to court charged with her assault but were released owing to lack of evidence.

 Outside London, Spring-Heeled Jack seems to have toned down his fire-vomiting behaviour in favour of his more athletic accomplishments and, for the rest of the century, it is for this incredible ability to leap to great heights that his fame persisted and spread. 

In 1904, in Liverpool during one of his last appearances, he was reported as leaping over rooftops and bounding down the street. He was even reported as being seen on the rooftop of St Francis Xavier’s Church in Salisbury Street in the Everton district of the city.

By the end of the nineteenth century, his notoriety was such that almost any strange encounter with a swift-footed criminal could result in Spring-Heeled Jack’s name being associated with it. In Edwardian times, his name was quoted to children by parents, to ensure they came home before dark. A convenient and effective bogeyman.

 There were rumours that he was a real person – Henry de la Poer Beresford, the Marquess of Waterford no less, who was certainly in London at the time of the 1830s sightings and was known to be something of a rake at the time, being hauled up before magistrates for drunken, brutish and outlandish behaviour on more than one occasion. However, that wouldn’t account for all the other sightings or the fact that the legend persisted into the twentieth century, with no apparent diminishing of athletic prowess that would be caused by the natural aging process. 

No one was ever convicted of the assaults he is alleged to have committed and some sources at least believe he was capable of the earlier attacks but, following his marriage in 1842, he appears to have led a blameless life. Maybe he had imitators.

These days, Spring-Heeled Jack is once again providing entertainment for the masses, through steampunk literature and appearance in popular TV shows, such as Dr. Who. No doubt, as with most urban myths, there is a grain of truth there somewhere, but rumour, numerous retellings and embellishments have gifted us a larger-than-life character that merely adds to our cornucopia of rich folklore traditions.

Of course… if you are out one dark night and see a strange man leaping over the rooftops,  you may yet prove me wrong…

 (If you want to know more about Spring-heeled Jack, try this book by Dr Karl Bell The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack)

Boydell Press

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Creepy, Gothic and Ghostly - And Only 99c/99p - This Week Only


Don't play the game...

In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. 

Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women. Evelyn no longer knows who - or what - to believe. And time is running out.

“The Garden of Bewitchment is everything you want in a modern ghost story.” – James Lefebure, Modern Horrors

“Cavendish draws from the best conventions of the genre in this eerie gothic novel about a woman’s sanity slowly unraveling within the hallways of a mysterious mansion...Fans of gothic tropes will appreciate the atmosphere and intensity of this horror tale.” – Publishers’ Weekly

"Classic Gothic terror" -

“Cavendish is a master storyteller” – ihorror

“A brilliantly written, atmospheric and goosebumpy read. You’ll never look at a doll’s house in the same way again!” – The Bookwormery

“Well written, complex, satisfyingly nostalgic and darn right diabolical” – Brown Flopsy’s Book Burrow

“Seeped in Gothic imagery” – Horror After Dark

“Atmospheric and rich in detail, Cavendish masterfully draws the reader into the slow-burning horror that makes well-crafted Gothic literature so delightfully addictive.” – The Nerd Daily

“A unique and haunting tale” – A Reviewer Darkly

“When you sit down with a Catherine Cavendish story, you are guaranteed three things – a haunting atmosphere, a wild imagination, and fascinating characters.” – She Leads, He Reads

The Garden of Bewitchment is yours for just 99p/99c but hurry. Offer ends January 16th right here on Amazon

Flame Tree Studio