Category Archives: Writing

Where there’s a ghost…

House Halloween Haunted Horror Demon Death Ghost…there’s often a crime. After all, ghosts are people who died, and not all those deaths are natural.

To read more about this rather weird subject, head for Ellie Sisson’s blog, where she’s been kind enough to lend me a soapbox and hand me a microphone for my latest “guest ghost post”.

This time it’s about the deaths, natural or otherwise, of some of the resident spirits in ‘Got Ghosts?’, and the whole issue of crime in paranormal fiction. I hope you enjoy it!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Guest posts, paranormal, Writing

Friday Five: favourite first lines

A fistful of Fs for today’s title, and a fistful of first lines that have caught my attention, one way or another, over the years. In sort of reverse order, they are:

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Not the most descriptive or earth-shattering opening to a book ever, but I love it for the sheer simplicity, and the way it draws you in, wanting to know what a hobbit is and why it would live in a hole. The next line, involving the “ends of worms and an oozy smell”, adds a touch of the dry humour that permeates the book, and marks it out as much more of a children’s read than the sequel Lord of the Rings.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” I like this one because it seems to sum up pretty much the whole of a very thick novel in that one first line, but without giving away the sheer detail of the main character Cal’s life story. It also sounds impossible, which is a great hook!

Gleams of a Remoter World by, er, me

“‘It was a dark and stormy night’? Pull the other one, Chris, we are not starting a report like that…” I’m totally cheating with this one since it’s my own, but I’ve always liked the idea of playing around with clichés and putting them to better, if slightly evil, use. When I read out the opening paragraph at a writers’ convention a few years ago it got a resounding cheer, and recently a friend told me it was still one of her favourites, so it must have made a good impression on someone!

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

I’m not going to quote the whole first line here because it’s colossal, but it’s also really clever because it sets up a world that seems familiar yet oddly out-of-kilter at the same time, and draws you along with the book’s hero Dick deep into that world without you quite realising how different it is. I won’t reveal more in case it spoils the story, but it’s one of my favourite books ever and well worth trying if you’re not familiar with it.

The Crow Road by Iain M Banks

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.” Definitely the most original, engaging first line of any book I’ve ever read. It’s got drama, it’s got black humour, it’s got a massive punch of a hook… It’s just a shame that for me, the rest of the book failed to live up to this wonderful opening – although I realise I’m in a minority on that one. One of these days I’ll have to give it another go. The exploding grandma deserves a second chance!

So go on, what are some of your favourites? Are there any obvious ones I’ve missed? Feel free to add them in the comments – I’d love to hear.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, fiction, Writing

‘Got Ghosts?’ cover reveal

And now *drum roll please* the moment you’ve all been waiting for…  Well, the moment I’ve been waiting for at any rate. The moment that the brand new cover artwork for ‘Got Ghosts?’ is revealed. And here it is, in all its wonderful psychedelic glory.

got ghosts front

The artwork is by Vincent Holland-Keen and I particularly like the way he’s captured not just the spooky atmosphere of the book, but also the general sense of breathlessness and rushing about.  Very much a case of lights, camera, inaction as people bump into ghosts and knock things over while they’re trying to run away! And (ahem) I do love that I’m described as ‘writer and director’. Moving up in the world!

The book is due out from Fox Spirit in a couple of weeks, just in time for Halloween, so do keep checking back for details of when and where you can get it. As Carl the producer says, “Some psychic you are, darling – you didn’t see that one coming!” I’ll try to make sure you can’t say the same about the book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, paranormal, Writing

A summons to read…

…my 75- word flash fiction ‘The Summons’, which is appearing on the Paragraph Planet website.

Church_Bells_Narikala_fortressThe story is based on an old myth from Thirlmere in the Lake District. The villages of Armboth and Wythburn were drowned (having been evacuated first, I should add – I’m not that much of a ghoul!) during the creation of the reservoir for Manchester Water Works in the 1890s. The villages were small, but houses, gardens, walls, and even Armboth church were covered by rising waters – but it’s said that on certain days, you can still hear the church bells ringing out across the valley.

My chilling take on the legend is available to read at Paragraph Planet today, and will be added to their archive in due course. So do go and give yourself some pre-Halloween shivers!

2 Comments

Filed under fiction, Local stuff, paranormal, short stories, Writing

Just visiting?

I had some lovely news on the writing front the other week, but have been so busy dashing around I’d completely forgotten to pass it on!

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while may remember a short story of mine called The Visitor, which appeared in the Queer Dimensions anthology from QueeredFiction.  The book contained some wonderful sci-fi stories, and I’ve always been fond of mine.  Sadly, QueeredFiction went out of business several years ago, and the book, and my story, were out of print.

The good news is that The Visitor has been re-born, and will soon be appearing in charity anthology Being Me, from Dreamspinner Press.  It’s had a minor make-over with a few howlers ironed out and a somewhat improved ending, but basically it’s still the same tale of time travel, lost opportunities, and the fight to make a better world.

I don’t yet have full details of when the anthology will be available, but will post them, plus cover art, and info on the Being Me charity, as soon as I do. Hopefully this time the story will do more than ‘just visit’, and will stay for a while!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, fiction, short stories, Writing

Ghosts getting closer

Yesterday was edits day on my latest book Got Ghosts, which is due out from Fox Spirit just in time for Halloween.

Sometimes the editing process can be distinctly fraught, but this time it was, relatively speaking, a doddle.  No more than a few typos, a couple of awful howlers, and a general scrape-and-polish.

Whilst wading through the line-by-lines, I reminded myself how much fun I had writing this little book.  It’s very tongue-in-cheek, not to be taken seriously in the slightest, and I found I was giggling out loud at various places.  I also gathered a few quotes that I’ll be dropping into the conversation at random over the next few weeks, just to whet folks’ appetites a bit.  Starting with:

The only trouble was, mad and bad in real life was nowhere near as exciting, or as romantic, as it was in books and films.

No, it isn’t about Lord Byron, but there is a rather Byron-esque character who makes a dramatic appearance about half way through.

I’m very excited by the whole project and can’t wait for the cover art, which I’m told will be available very soon. You can bet I’ll be posting it on here the minute it comes through!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, fiction, paranormal, Writing

Noises Off

chairThis is the title of my latest short story, a spooky little tale told in exactly 75 words, which is appearing at Paragraph Planet today.

Telling a whole story in so few words isn’t easy – I often find that even when I think I’ve achieved the target I’m actually two words short, or three over.  After much fiddling, pen-sucking and head-scratching (not to mention swearing and banging of head against the nearest wall), I managed to convince this story that it really, really wanted to be told in those 75 words, and ‘Noises Off’ is the result.

It’s available to read free at Paragraph Planet today so head on over and check it out. And don’t forget the magazine is always open to submissions if you want to have a go at your own tiny tale.

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction, paranormal, short stories, Writing