Tag Archives: woooooooo

The Wolf Witch – FREE E-BOOK

HEY, IT’S SOME FREE STUFF. YOU LIKE FREE STUFF, RIGHT?

Course you do.

wolfwitch2

 Amazon.com

You save $4.99 on the first book of this brand new horror trilogy, all three books of which are now available for sale in the Kindle Store. It’s an unflinching look at what lycanthropy does for your resume (bad things, as it happens) and why you should never annoy the person who is preparing your dinner.

The whole thing was initially inspired by the stunning photography in the Netflix series Bloodline. As soon as I saw those aerial shots of the Florida Keys I knew I had to write something set against such a beautiful backdrop, and it certainly didn’t hurt that there was the grand old tradition of Southern Gothic to draw upon, with those drifts of Spanish moss and people going Tennessee Williams style crazy from the heat and the bugs and the oppression of their own ugly secrets. I had no exact idea where I was going with it but I knew I wanted the main player to be an old lady named Gloria – I had the Hendrix version of that song thundering through my head all last spring. And I knew the heroine – Blue – was from New Orleans and had been a teenager when Katrina devastated the city.

Then that kind of set me aboard a different train of thought, to a girl who had spent her whole life adrift in some way or another, scurrying ahead of social services who wanted to separate her from her bipolar mother, always wanting to be left alone to fend for herself, right up until those few days in the Superdome when she understood what it really meant to be absolutely, totally abandoned. She was a very solitary, self-reliant young woman and the more I got to know her the more I realised she was a little like Shakespeare’s Miranda, cast adrift and left for dead in the wake of the tempest.

That was when I remembered the production I’d seen at the Barbican some twenty years ago, with Simon Russell-Beale’s stiff, snarling Ariel, chafing at the bit of captivity. And there it all was – a girl cast adrift, who comes to an island of monsters, where there’s a once powerful witch now sliding into her dotage and the spirit she once marshaled to her aid is now figuring out a way to destroy her.

Now take that and set it against a background of skunkroaches, gators, werewolves, fundamentalists and other weird Florida wildlife, and you’ve got yourself a trilogy.

Continue reading

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Isle of Spirits – now available in the Kindle store

It’s a strange feeling, being done with something as huge as a trilogy. On one hand you’re going to miss it and the other you kind of want to punt it out of the door so that it can piss off and start earning its own living. Sort of like having teenage kids, I imagine.

And this thing is a monster baby. This afternoon I put the final touches to the final book, looked at the word count and whistled. The Wolf Witch comes in at a slightly portly 95k, the sequel – which you can buy at the end of this post, hint hint – is a tubby 97k. The final volume – Full Fathom Five – is a beast of almost 118,000 words, which is a monster for me, having cut my teeth on 75k genre fiction. It’s also one of the darkest, wrongest things I think I’ve ever written; there were moments where the story took me to places that were frankly so disturbing that I wondered if I should even go there.

Still, I suppose horror is pretty much the place for disquieting things that make your skin crawl. If I wanted to write about sunshine and puppies (and I actually kind of do) I’d write a children’s book.

Anyway, this is the sequel. You can get it on Amazon and if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you can get it for absolutely NOTHING. So you should probably do that. After you’ve read the first one, obviously. Otherwise this isn’t going to make a great deal of sense.

spirits2

S-T-O-R-M-S-C-O-M-I-N-G

That was the message on the Ouija board, but Blue is a long way from understanding, and as July’s brutal blue moon looms she is forced to face the reality of the weird new world in which she now lives. Gloria, being more wolf than witch these days, is not much help, and Gabe keeps pushing Blue away in a desperate attempt to protect her from the horrors of the full moon.

But Blue’s stared horror in the face too many times already, and keeps right on walking into the realm of the spirit workers, the all-but-extinct wolf witches who once derived their power from pack spirits like the murderous Yael, who’s been a little too quiet for comfort lately.

Also there are power struggles looming when exiled alpha Charlie returns to the Keys in the wake of the cannibal swamp-wolf murders near St. Augustine. And things aren’t going so well for the Okefenokee packs either, at least according to swamp-wolf Ruby, who’s come down south trailing a captive spirit tamer and softer than Yael, but no less potentially dangerous.

When July’s first full moon brings disaster for Joe Lutesinger, Blue finds herself thrown headlong into the role of wolf witch. There’s trouble at home and abroad, no instruction manual beyond an elderly cook book and Gloria’s increasingly in no position to offer help. Gabe can push as hard as he likes, but the more Blue learns the more she realises that even if she wanted to walk away, she’s in this thing far deeper than anyone – least of all herself – ever knew.

Isle of Spirits is the second book in the Keys Trilogy.

 Amazon.com

Lycanthropy and Other Things To Do In The Great State of Florida

So, last summer I had this odd little bet with myself that I could bang out a werewolf trilogy in under six months.

I failed. It took me about thirteen months instead, thirteen months of hairy, bone-crunching, howling-at-the-moon craziness that has left me all but straining at the leash to piss off and write a nice flossy pink bubblegum romance, just to have a break from trying to think up the best ways to describe exposed rib cages and the noises that parts of people’s skulls make when they go bouncing off the kitchen fittings.

If you’re looking for paranormal romance, you might want to give these puppies a pass. Unless you really like knowing what kind of noises that parts of people’s skulls make when they bounce off the kitchen fittings, in which case welcome aboard, fellow weirdos.

So, here it is. Book one in the Keys Trilogy, a happy little bedtime story of Florida lycanthropes, man-eating rednecks and why you should never mess with the kind of crazy old ladies who keep leaving their dentures on the draining board.

wolfwitch2

Unfinished family business and a promise of paradise bring Katrina survivor Blue Beaufort to the Florida Keys, but what she finds there is beyond anything she could have imagined. At first glance her new home is nothing more than a small town in a tourist trap, unremarkable save for some unruly neighborhood dogs and a strangely high incidence of red-green colorblindness.

But then there’s the way the local boys tilt their heads when the wind a certain way, like they can smell trouble on the breeze, and while practical-minded diving instructor Gabe doesn’t seem the type to cling to superstition, he still won’t take the boat out when the moon is full.

And then there’s Gloria, a wilful seventysomething eccentric who for years has been den mother to packs of lost boys like Gabe, Joe and black sheep Charlie, but now presents them with the delicate problem of what to do with your elders when they start showing signs of dementia. Doubly difficult when Gloria – who even when healthy used to talk to people who weren’t there – shows signs of a miraculous recovery and drives all the way to Miami in her bedroom slippers.

When Blue steps in to help out, she thinks she’s going to be cleaning house and serving Jell-O and pills to an old lady, but Gloria’s house is not like other houses. The light fitting keeps swinging, and old records keep skipping, and Gloria’s miracle cure seems to have woken something in the house, a whispering entity that seeps into Blue’s dreams and starts showing her things she’d rather not see.

Like that cage in the basement.

As Blue wades deeper into the strange world of the wolf witch and her boys, she soon comes to realise that what happens at the full moon is actually the least of everyone’s worries.

The Wolf Witch is the first book in the Keys Trilogy.

Amazon.com

(This book is FREE to KindleUnlimited Subscribers)

Paris Green – A Tale of 1920’s New York. Free E-Book!

My newest novel Paris Green is now at the low low price of Absolutely Free on Amazon.com. Go grab yourself a copy. Go on. Off you go.

Amazon.com

How To Be Psychic – Cold Reading Basics

So, you’ve learned to see ghosts! Well done you!

Having performed the steps in my previous guide you are probably now drunk, mentally unstable and convinced there are spectral goblins living behind that expired Muller Fruit Corner in the back of the second shelf of the fridge. Sorry about that.  But relax – I’m about to make amends, my lovelies. Here comes the money shot – emphasis on the money –  because it’s time to start talking to ghosts.

Talking to the dead is a lot less interesting than it sounds, since most dead people seem to be banal in the extreme. Spirits claiming to be William Shakespeare have demonstrated little to no ear for iambic pentameter and even all-knowing Mesopotamian prophets of the apocalypse have come off as downright boring when channeled through the wives of well known writers.

Ghosts tend to say a handful of things, which can be roughly summed up thus.

  1. Woooo I’m dead and that’s spooky.
  2. Woooo I’m dead and it’s lovely here.
  3. Woooo I’m dead and I’m looking out for you.
  4. Woooo I’m dead and you should definitely keep coming to these spiritualist meetings and isn’t the medium nice? (give them money tell your friends)

Whenever ghosts get into particulars it’s usually stuff like ‘Do you remember how Aunty Ethel’s hearing aid used to whistle?’ or ‘Remember how you left your rollerskates out in the rain and they went rusty?’, which is odd because you’d think that an answer to one of the biggest theological questions of all time would prompt even bigger questions, such as what does this mean for almost every religion ever and do George Harrison and John Lennon still talk or collaborate over there?

An even bigger question is why anyone would want to talk to the dead, since they’re not very interesting and notoriously bad at dealing with the earthshattering implications of concrete proof of an afterlife. Surprisingly, unlike many big questions, this one has a reasonably short answer.

Talking to the dead is really fucking lucrative.

If you want to make a fat heap of wonga as a medium, then roughly speaking there are two ways to go about it.

I was maybe thirteen when I first encountered the first method. It was on a very silly programme late on Channel Four called ‘Do Ghosts Exist?’ (Short answer – all the evidence currently points to ‘no’.) There was a studio audience and a medium – a Canadian gentleman who looked a lot like a dapper, slimmed down version of Raymond Briggs’ drawings of Santa Claus.

He then gave various members of the audience psychic readings so gob-smackingly accurate that it was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Then, having impressed the shit out of them, he held up his hands and said “Okay, that was all a trick – I have no psychic ability whatsoever.”

That was James Randi, every bit as Amazing as advertised. He went on to elaborate on a method of fortune telling that was as old as dirt back when Nostradamus was cutting his baby teeth.

Nostradamus

Cold Reading – The Basics

Cold reading is a dying art these days, for reasons we’ll get around to in time, but it largely boils down to a cross between twenty questions and a game of not-so Holmesian observation.

I once saw one famous psychic zero in on his mark and coo ‘And I’m getting the sense that you’ve not been well lately, is that right?’, which was a staggering leap of deductive reasoning on his part. His victim was not only a lady of a certain age and certain weight, but was also wearing a tubigrip bandage around one knee and walking on crutches.

Even more astonishing, nobody in the audience laughed, pointed or asked how much he was getting paid for stating the bleeding obvious, which brings me neatly to my first point.

1. You Gotta Have Faith

Sceptics don’t tend to attend the readings of psychics – they find them silly at best and morally reprehensible at worst. This suits psychics, mediums and faith-healers just fine, since nebulous, negative ‘energy’ tends to interfere with whatever kind of ghostly WiFi they’ve got going on these days. (I assume they’ve upgraded. If they haven’t, they really should.) Plenty of mediums have claimed they can’t produce the goods in the face of sceptics, which is why many well-known sceptical investigators are considerate enough go to psychic readings or faith-healings in disguise, so as not to offend the medium’s delicate sensibilities.

Oddly, psychics seem to have a blind spot when it comes to sniffing out undercover sceptics, but again – it’s probably that negative energy. That or they’re also being polite.

A credulous – or at least suggestible – audience is a cold reader’s greatest asset. One of the biggest names of the Nineteenth Century psychic scene – Daniel Dunglas Hume – arguably escaped all-out exposure because he almost always performed to a select ‘home circle’ of good friends and their guests, usually in other people’s houses. Or palaces. Like I say, he was a big name.

home levitates

He managed to convince people that THIS happened.

So, say you have a good audience, well suited to your purposes – what next? Well, you go ‘fishing’. If you watch a stage medium (Pick your recordings carefully – many of the big names rely on heavy editing.) you might notice that they go through a great deal of names before landing a ‘hit’.

2. Talking About My Generation

A ‘hit’ in cold reading parlance refers to a correct guess, while a ‘miss’ refers to the opposite. Your ability to score a hit or miss is dependent on your power of observation. The age of your subject is significant. An eighteen year old subject is less likely to have dead parents than a subject in her fifties.

Watch any stage medium these days and their first go-to is usually “I’m getting an older lady/older gentleman,” simply because these days dead grannies are far more likely than dead children. Interestingly this hasn’t always been the case – back in the Nineteenth Century when infant mortality was higher, dead babies were big business. Many women, including the writer Florence Maryatt, attended seances in the hope of exchanging a few tender words with their infants. Luckily for Florence, her late two week old daughter had learned to talk since passing over.

When fishing for names you should also take generations into account. For instance, a thirty five year old subject is unlikely to have dead elderly relatives named Kylie, Ryan, Tracey and Shaz. If you go for Ivy, Albert, Dolly and Rose you’re more likely to land a hit. A friend of mine was recently awed by a medium who guessed that she had an ‘Uncle Albert in spirit’, to which I replied ‘Who hasn’t got a dead Uncle Albert?’ I’ve got at least two.

3. Sing It Back

Another interesting thing to watch for with mediums or fortune tellers is their habit of agreeing with their subjects.

It goes a little something like this.

Medium: I’m sensing a younger man in spirit – your age, maybe older. Younger?

Subject: Younger brother.

Medium: Yes. Your younger brother.

When you start consciously listening out for this you’ll be amazed how often this is deployed, to the point where some mediums sound like there’s an echo in the room. Again, watch carefully – many of the big names edit heavily on their TV shows and this is exactly the kind of thing they edit – the bit where the subject gives the psychic reader the answer. Raw stage performance footage is the best place to spot this at work. Like I say – when you’re watching for it you’ll be stunned you ever missed it. It’s a lot of fun – like a Magic Eye of bullshit.

third eye

Don’t write in. I know the difference between the third eye and a magic eye.

You’re probably disappointed now, aren’t you? Sadly it really is that banal when you get right down to it, but don’t go away. While cold-reading in itself isn’t that interesting, the psychological explanations of why it works are where it gets downright fascinating. So, update your bookmarks, because next time we’re diving headlong into the world of horoscopes, the short-comings of human memory and why in the early 1990’s a lot of psychologist’s patient notes started looking like some of the really unpleasant pages from the Malleus Maleficarium.

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For more psychic skullduggery and the strange-but-true story of how magician Harry Houdini declared war on psychics, check out my historical fiction, and watch out for my new upcoming novel, Paris Green – A Tale of 1920’s New York.

Adventures In Research – Diet Books, King Tut and the Girl From The Magic Shop

I’m very nearly done with my new historical novel, which is so full of lies, duplicity and sheer bloody cruelty that I cannot wait to write the sequel to Fifty Shades of Neigh and spend the next few months wallowing happily in a big bunch of dick jokes.

I love writing historical fiction, but the main problem with it that all that research you did? All those lovely, carefully catalogued period details? All that time you spend immersing yourself in the popular culture of the era, absorbing the contemporary fads, fashion and slang?

Yeah – shut up about that.

In a good historical novel the characters will use enough contemporary slang to lend a flavour without making it incomprehensible to the modern ear. In a bad historical novel everyone will antiquey-speakey most verily even though yea, it sucketh great donkey balls, and in a really bad historical novel everyone will not only yabber on like they’re at a Renaissance Faire but also discuss the etymology of their gibberish. A really good historical novel will slip you a history lesson without you even knowing it. A bad one will beat you over the head with lumps of Wikipedia a la Dan Brown or go full on Downton and have people say things like “Well, indeed – after the War to end all wars we’re all in need of a little gaiety, and why shouldn’t Lady Ethel get her hair cut like the popular contemporary actress Louise Brooks in this year of our Lord 1926?”

This is not to say you can skimp on the research – you’d better damn well do it. I once came across a vampire novel that was utterly spoiled by the fact that not only was I supposed to believe that the vampire hero had trained as a Catholic priest in late 16th Century England but in the 1650’s had been quite the sexy young thing at the theatres and operas of old London town. You do research so that things like this don’t happen. Then you shut up about it. Research is essential but should remain invisible – sort of like Spanx.

So this is where blogs come in handy. Here’s just a taste of the fascinating stuff that either got a one line mention or kept an urgent playdate with the DELETE key. Continue reading

How To See Ghosts

Ghosts – what are they? Where do they come from? We may never know.

What we do know is that ghosts are a cheap and interesting source of entertainment and a good way of livening up any slumber party. The main problem with ghosts is that they tend to be shy. It’s like they just don’t want to be photographed, documented or fiddled about with in any way shape or form.

You have to be bold with ghosts – they’re timid. Bigfoot timid. If they were any more timid they’d be hanging out in Loch Ness, pretending to be an extinct marine reptile with an astounding gift for avoiding sonar.

Loch Ness monster

Hello.

So, allow me to present my simple five step guide to persuading the ghosts in your life to abandon their natural reticence and start doing proper ghost stuff, like banging on walls, setting fire to ouija boards, levitating the kids and killing your sleazy stockbroker boyfriend. (Okay, they might not do the last one – I can’t promise results on any of the below, so you might have to just dump him.) Continue reading