Saturday, 24 October 2020

Flame Tree - Live and Spooky for Halloween

Stir your cauldrons, dust off your broomsticks and light up your Jack O'Lanterns for the first ever Flame Tree Publishing Halloween Creepy Carnival of horrific delights.

It all kicks off at 4p.m. EST/6p.m. PST/8p.m. British time on Friday 30th October 2020. Admission is free, with a chance to win prizes and giveaways.

So, what's happening?

Well, first off, check into:

Kaifer- Art Creations/Shutterstock

§ The Hellish House of Mirrors 

Meet six diverse women writers for some fresh perspectives on Mystery, Horror and Fantasy Fiction, featuring:

J.H. Moncrieff, Melissa Prusi, V. Castro, Faye Snowden, P.D. Cacek and, yes, me, Catherine Cavendish

§ The Terrifying Twister – A Live Q&A with Jonathan Janz: 

Hot on the heels of the release of “The Raven”, one of modern horror’s most buzzworthy authors answers questions about his books, writing and influences

I Love Coffee dot Today/Shutterstock

§ The Fearful Ferris Wheel – The After Sundown Special: 

Led by:

Anthology editor Mark Morris,

with some of today’s best and brightest writers:

CJ Tudor, Robert Shearman and Laura Purcell

Chatting about influences, writing in lockdown, the real world catching up with fiction

Robert Nyholm/Shutterstock

§ The Ghoulish Ghost Train – From Pop Culture to Cult Classics: 

Join authors:

John Everson, Hunter Shea, Tim Waggoner, JG Faherty

for a lively discussion about horror in books, films, and more

Chase Maddox/Shutterstock

§ The Cruel Carousel – Pitching, Querying & Going Beyond the Writer’s Craft: 

Shopping a manuscript? Considering literary representation? Interested in a peek behind the scenes of the publishing world? Join this insightful and info-packed session with:

Esteemed genre fiction editor Don D’Auria

Literary agent and author Anne Tibbetts

Flame Tree publisher and founder Nick Wells

So, climb aboard the bone-chilling, fun-filled rides of Flame Tree Press’ First Annual Creepy Carnival! 

Featuring readings, panel discussions, live Q&A, special swag, giveaways, and more! 

Friday October 30, 2020 

4pm Eastern Time / 8pm British Time

It's all happening at: 

Facebook Live @ FlameTreePress

Click this link to register (it's free!)

See you there!

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Midnight in the Pentagram -


Stir your cauldrons...
Mount your broomsticks
Get ready to be scared...unnerved...terrified
And whatever you do
No matter what the provocation
Never step outside the pentagram

Halloween is upon us and your favourite writers of the horrific, supernatural, witchy and downright scary, have come together to present a hellish feast of devilish delights:

Lario Tus/
As the clock’s pendulum steadily counts down towards the midnight hour, the growing scent of brimstone hangs heavy in the air. The universal symbol of all that is evil, the pentagram, or the inverted pentacle, has been carved in the hardwood floor. Its shape is often described as the goat of lust attacking the Heavens with its horns during the witches’ sabbat. Five obsidian candles flicker as the incantations begin. Who will be summoned during this unholy evening? Will it be Baphomet? Or Belial? Maybe even Lucifer himself? The roof timbers groan. Stressed plaster drops to the floor. The demon approaches, holding its ancient grimoire filled with evil stories, written in blood…and here they are.

Authors include:

Brian Keene/ Graham Masterton/ Tim Curran/ Catherine Cavendish/ James Newman/ Todd Keisling/ Jason Parent/ Stephanie Ellis/ Chad Lutzke/ Tim Meyer/ Tony Tremblay /Laurel Hightower/ Kenneth W. Cain/ J.G. Faherty/ William Meikle/ Shannon Felton/ Owl Goingback/ Wesley Southard/ Charlotte Platt/ Cameron Ulam/ Brian Moreland/ Armand Rosamilia/ Kenneth McKinley/ Azzurra Nox/ John Quick/ Allan Leverone/ Mark Steensland/ P.D. Cacek/ Ed Erdelac/ Mark Towse/ Amanda Hard

Fer Gregory/

As for my contribution:
The Oubliette of Élie Loyd has its roots in some horrific stories of the dastardly Baron Despencer - founder of the notorious 18th century Hellfire Club, where it is said devil worship and all kinds of evil took place - and in my own visits to some of Britain's most spectacular castles, where dark deeds and foul oubliettes are to be found aplenty.

Here we have a devil with an insatiable hunger and a family with a deadly heritage. In the ruins of a once magnificent castle, an oubliette is ready for its next occupant...

Midnight in the Pentagram is published by Silver Shamrock publishing and available here:

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Witches of Belvoir Castle

My new novella – The Malan Witch – centres around a haunted cottage – possessed by two of the most evil witches you could ever (not) wish to encounter. At the time these women were alive, witch hunts were in full swing.

At Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, in Lincolnshire, in the early part of the 17th century, the Earl and Countess of Rutland employed a mother – Joan Flower - and her two daughters, Philippa and Margaret. All three were known to be well versed in the art of herbal remedies. The Rutlands were in urgent need of extra domestic help as a visit from King James I was expected. The Flower family didn’t last long there though. They were dismissed amid rumours of theft and other misdemeanours.

Almost immediately after the women left, the Earl and Countess fell ill of vomiting and convulsions. Then their children suffered similarly. Their heir – Henry – died a few weeks later and was buried on 26th September 1613. Francis also fell ill but, thankfully, their daughter, Katherine, recovered. 

By 1616, the thirst for purging witches had reached fever pitch, and nine women were hanged in Leicestershire for crimes committed involving the Black Arts. They had been accused of bewitching a young boy who subsequently died. These witches owned animals, known as ‘familiars’, said to assist them in their devil’s work, casting spells and other mischief. The Flower women also possessed a cat – called Rutterkin – who was to play a significant role in subsequent events.

The Rutlands’ second son, Francis, died and, in 1618, a full five years after Henry had passed away, the Flower women were arrested on charges relating to witchcraft in connection with his death. All protested their innocence, but were taken away to be ‘examined’. Following this, they were sent to Lincoln Gaol, where they were due to be incarcerated until their trial. On the way there, Joan Flower, who did not attend church, requested a piece of bread, in lieu of Eucharist. She said it would prove her innocence, as surely no true witch would be able to eat something so pure and holy. She took a bite, choked on it and died.

Needless to say, the women undoubtedly suffered horrific torture. That era was notorious for the creativity employed in extracting confessions from people. A visit to any crime museum will reveal implements such as the boot (which crushed feet and ankles), the scold’s bridle (complete with spikes to pierce the victim’s mouth), needles to pierce nails and pincers to pull those same nails out. Food and sleep deprivation and beatings with chains added to the sadistic and horrific menu.

Margaret Flower eventually accused her - now deceased - mother of witchcraft. Philippa admitted she was a witch – and accused her mother and Margaret. The sisters both confessed to consorting with ‘familiar spirits’ to assist them in their schemes. And this is where their mother’s cat – Rutterkin- came in. The sisters said they stole the glove of Henry, the Rutlands’ heir and gave it to Joan. She dipped it in boiling water, stroked it along Rutterkin’s back and chanted incantations which caused the boy to fall ill. To ensure the Earl and Countess couldn’t have any more children and, therefore, remained without an heir, the women had cast a spell, using feathers from the Earl’s bed and a pair of gloves which they boiled and then mixed with blood.

The two sisters also accused others of being witches. Anne Baker, Joan Willimot and Ellen Greene were arrested, ‘examined’ and then, unsurprisingly, ‘confessed’ to practicing witchcraft.

Margaret and Philippa Flower were tried and found guilty. They were hanged in Lincoln Castle on 11th March 1619.

The Earl and Countess remained convinced - to their dying days - that their eldest son had been killed by witchcraft. On their monument, as part of the inscription, are these words:

There has been recent speculation that Joan Flower and her daughters were framed by none other than the infamous George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham and favourite of King James I. The story goes that Villiers had designs on the Rutlands’ daughter, Katherine. He planned to marry her and - with both her brothers dead - inherit the title. He achieved his ambition to marry the girl on 16th May 1620, much to her father’s disapproval.

Fortunately this unpleasant and arrogant man did not achieve his ultimate ambition. He did not become the next Earl of Rutland. He died in 1628, four years before his father in law. At least some justice prevailed in this sorry saga!

'Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.’ 

An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood - two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

You can order The Malan Witch here: 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

What Lurks in the Mind of a Villain - JG Faherty

I am delighted to welcome friend and fellow writer, JG Faherty to my blog today. He has some valuable and insightful thoughts to share on villains...

One of the first things writers are taught is that your villains need to be as well thought out and as complex as your heroes.

Think about some of the classic antagonists of literature. Hannibal Lecter. Dracula. Captain Nemo. Anne Wilkes. Tom Ripley. Randall Flagg. Norman Bates.

We find ourselves fascinated with these people not just because they’re evil and we want them to pay for their crimes, but because they are three-dimensional. We know them almost as well as we know the protagonists and victims in their stories. In many ways, those books—Dracula, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Red Dragon, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Psycho, The Stand—are as much about the villains as they are the heroes.

This is something I’ve always loved about fiction: getting into the head of the villain.

What makes him/her/it tick? Why do they do the things they do? Were they always evil or forced into it by fate, circumstance, or a supernatural power? Do they enjoy being bad? Do they even think they’re bad? Remember Thanos from the Avengers movies? He truly believed that wiping out half the population of the universe was not only necessary, but good. Because it would ensure prosperity for the remaining half by eliminating overcrowding, lack of resources, and economic disasters.

He was ruthless, he was evil, he was conscienceless.
But he considered himself a savior.

This is something that’s always in the forefront of my mind when I create the antagonist(s) for my novels. Who are they? Why are they the way they are? What do they think of the world, themselves, the people who are trying to stop them? Are they evil or misunderstood? Victims of circumstance or madmen?

I want my readers to identify with these villains, to believe in them as real people (or monsters), rather than just as props for the plot.

In order to do that, first I need to understand them. And that means putting myself in their shoes. It’s easy to do with a hero, but not so much with the bad guy.

And in Sins of the Father, it became doubly hard, because there are no traditional heroes or villains. Much like in real life, my characters are all painted in shades of gray.

Henry Gilman, the main character, is a man we can all identify with. He’s spent his life in his father’s shadow, and that has irrevocably shaped him as an adult. First following in the footsteps of a brilliant doctor and then dealing with the inevitable public humiliation when that same doctor commits a terrible atrocity and ruins the family name forever.

Henry struggles with money, as most of us do. He struggles to find love. He has hopes, dreams, goals. But life seems to put up obstacles at every turn, and happiness and success elude him. All of that is on the surface. But, like everyone, he is a product of his environment as much as his genetics. We are all shaped subconsciously by our upbringings. The idea of nature vs. nurture is, in reality, a false hypothesis. It is nature AND nurture that mold us, and in Henry’s case, neither has been particularly favorable.

As much as he refuses to admit it, he has inherited more than a few of his father’s personality traits, and more often than not finds himself making exactly the same mistakes as his father, for exactly the same reasons—even as he tries to do the opposite.

My goal with Henry was to create a sympathetic character so that as the story progresses, we not only feel sorry for him and root for him, but we understand (and perhaps agree with, in some cases) his actions when he slips off the path of righteousness he’s laid out for himself.

The secondary characters in the story were just as important to me, because all of them play significant roles in Henry’s actions and reactions. The friend who goes behind his back. The lover who leads him on but has her own ambitions. The police officer who is as dishonest as the day is long yet dedicated to keeping the town of Innsmouth free of crime. And, of course, Henry’s father. Cold, cruel, devious, yet at the same time proud of his son and wanting only the best for him.

In a way, Henry is a victim of several types of abuse. Physical, mental, emotional. Yet he’s an enabler of his abusers, to use a modern psychological term. He’s desperate for attention, for success, for wealth, and because of that, he doesn’t see the harmful traits of those around him. Or in himself.

This might seem like a lot of work to put into creating characters, but it’s absolutely essential. In many ways, reading a novel is like meeting new people. Except you not only get to know them through your interactions with them, you can spy on their private lives, see into their heads.

If the writer does their job right, you’ll come to know the characters of a book better than your own family.

Maybe better than yourself.

Sins of the Father

Henry Gilman has spent years trying to separate himself from his father’s legacy of murder and insanity. Now he has the chance – all he has to do is figure out who’s been killing people in Innsmouth. Then he’ll be a hero and win the heart of the woman he loves, Flora Marsh. But soon he’s caught in a web of danger, with the undead stalking the streets at night, a terrible monster lurking below the city, and a prophecy of destruction about to come true. In the process, his actions cause unwanted consequences and to save Flora he has to do the very thing he’s spent his life trying to avoid: follow his father’s footsteps into madness.

Available from:

and at other great bookstores - online and in your high street

A life-long resident of New York's haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award® (THE CURE, GHOSTS OF CORONADO BAY) and ITW Thriller Award (THE BURNING TIME), and he is the author of 8 novels, 11 novellas, and more than 75 short stories. He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, and as a child his favorite playground was a 17th-century cemetery. Which explains a lot. His latest novel is SINS OF THE FATHER.

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