Posted in TV

Reginald the Vampire – yea or nay?

Is anyone else watching Reginald the Vampire (currently on the Sky Sci-Fi channel in the UK)?

I started it a few weeks ago and to be honest I’m not quite sure what to make of it. On the one hand, vampires. Plus I like the idea of someone completely ordinary being transformed into a vampire because let’s face it, all too often they are stunningly attractive and it’s nice to see something different. And Jacob Batalon makes the central character very endearing.

But it does seem to be a bit of a ‘one joke’ comedy (fat vampire, ha ha). And some of the stuff about food, feeding and blood is just completely gross, to the point where I’m watching from behind a cushion – and I’m usually a fan of vampire movies.

So, what’s the general feeling? What’s everyone else found? And is it worth carrying on watching, or should I just quietly give up?

Posted in reviews

Recent reads: Fang’d by Vin George

I wrote this review a few weeks ago now to feature in my newsletter, but wanted to share it more widely because I enjoyed the book so much…

Fang’d is an immersive and thoroughly entertaining m/m paranormal romance involving vampires, wolf shifters and even fae. The story starts when shifter Luc almost runs over Charley, a young man running away from some bad people, and helps him to escape. Fired by mutual attraction the two go on the run together, finally taking refuge at master vampire Dalziel’s estate in Scotland. Here they make several discoveries about Charley’s background, and shifters and vampires have to put aside their natural antipathy to work together when Charley is kidnapped.

The characters are engaging and thoroughly realistic in spite of the whole paranormal thing whilst the descriptions, insights and revelations kept me turning the pages for more. The book really came to life for me once Luc and Charley had arrived at Dalziel’s castle; some of the sex before that was a little graphic for my own personal taste but I still loved the book.

Definitely one to go for if you like paranormal romance, lots of action, and a high heat rating with a touch of kink. I gave it four stars on Goodreads and if they did half stars would probably have gone half a star more.

As a little extra, I love the cover. Not least because Riptide Publishing used a different pose by the same very toothsome young model on my own book Necessity’s Door. He was ideal for my characters and he’s ideal for young Charley too.

Posted in News

Queer Indie Awards 2023

I keep forgetting to mention that I’ve been nominated in two categories by Queer Indie – Queer Lit Speculative, and Queer Lit Romance – for their 2023 awards.

These awards celebrate the author rather than an individual book, so if you’ve enjoyed any of my books (eg paranormal romances December Roses, Ghosts Galore and Trench Warfare, or vampire romance Echoes of Blood) please visit their site and vote for me. Last year I came third overall in the speculative category which was a real boost; it would be nice to think I could go one better this year but really any votes at all will be hugely appreciated. So thank you! 😍😊

Posted in Books, LGBT, paranormal, romance

Rainbow snippets: Echoes of Blood

The Rainbow Snippets FB group encourages members to post a few lines from one of their books each Saturday and then link back to it on the group. Saturday has suddenly crept up on me, so in between shopping, unpacking shopping, and finding places to stow unpacked shopping, I’ve popped in here to post my next snippet.

This one is from near the beginning of dark m/m vampire romance Echoes of Blood, when main character Daniel is first venturing out into the club scene in his native Liverpool after a long break, and a nasty break-up. He’s not really looking for sex, or at least that’s what he tells himself, but fate seems to be drawing him in…

They danced for a while, finding a sliver of space at the edge of the dance floor. The place was still packed; bodies jostled around them and after a few minutes he was sweating again, in spite of the earlier chill. And yet… something was still niggling him. An odd sensation, a feeling of eyes in the dark. It prickled the back of his neck, sent icy fingers up and down his spine. But when he looked, everyone was intent on their own thing and no one was watching him.

Of course, you just know that it’s not going to be as straightforward as that! If you fancy finding out what happens to Daniel, and what’s significant about the young man he’s dancing with, then why not treat yourself to the book? Echoes of Blood is available on Kindle for only £2.99, or free on Kindle Unlimited.

Posted in Art, Cumbria, daily walk, scenery

Two find some bonkers birds

We had a walk along the promenade at Morecambe for a change on Monday. Chosen because it’s level with benches (again, still struggling with post-Covid tiredness) and because the weather wasn’t good enough for anywhere more scenic.

That’s not to say Morecambe isn’t scenic – the views out across Morecambe Bay are stunning, and the town’s powers-that-be have littered the promenade and surrounding streets with sea or coast-related sculptures and artwork. Much of it is really lovely – like my favourite life-like cormorants near the old lifeboat station – but some pieces are utterly bonkers. There are some fat seagulls near the Eric Morecambe statue which always make me smile, and this time we also discovered these cartoon puffins sat on top of some of the bollards in the Festival Market car park. There were similar (but even weirder) seagulls and cormorants in the nearby Morrisons car park. Quite a sight if you’ve just staggered out with a crate of booze!

This time we finally got inside the Old Pier Bookshop which we’ve been meaning to visit for years. I picked up a YA vampire book which looks intriguing, and we explored some of the vast, twisty network of passages inside, all of them lined floor to ceiling with books, some interconnecting, some not. One friend has described it as a TARDIS, and it certainly keeps going… and going… and going… until you lose all sense of direction and wonder if you’ll ever get back out again.

Luckily we emerged, to find the sun was shining – just as we were about to set off for home. Typical. But we enjoyed the stroll, and a mistily scenic drive back up the A6 afterwards.

Posted in Books, History, LGBT, paranormal, romance

Two years of self-publishing

It’s hard to believe that it’s two whole years since I self-published my first book – but Echoes of Blood is exactly two years old today.

My dark-themed, m/m vampire romance came out on 2 February 2020, just as the first tendrils of news about the pandemic were creeping through – and weeks before the initial, hard-hitting lockdown.

While the virus has raged, being self-published has been a real bonus. No need to visit bookstores to arrange for stock, no need for book launches, book signings, readings or other events – because it’s all handled online anyway. I’ve enjoyed the process, too. Being in control of every stage from writing to editing to formatting to timing the publication to marketing, and even designing my very own book covers has been a steep learning curve but tremendous fun.

I’m hoping to get at least a couple more books out this year, to add to the five I already have available. The first may well be The Happy Medium, a m/m reworking of my paranormal romp Got Ghosts? which came out of contract just before Christmas. I’m busy with edits on that and should have more news soon.

In the meantime, if you want to get your paws on a copy of Echoes of Blood (which has been described by readers as ‘haunting’, ‘lustful’, and ‘chilling’) then it’s still only £2.99 on Kindle, or free on Kindle Unlimited. That’ll buy you Liverpool vampires, New Romantics, a missing Roman legion, and a lonely man sucked in by the lure of history – and blood. Cor! Want to take a look? You can find it here. Thanks – and I hope you enjoy the ride.

Posted in Books, Guest posts, paranormal, Writing

Sunday Share: PG Devlim writes vampires

Image by Radovan Zierik on Pixabay

I couldn’t not share this guest post by vampire author PG Devlim* over at the CosmicTaryn blog. Not only is it an insightful look at the whole process of writing about vampires (research, tools, inspiration, planning, motivation, favourite vampire characters/books/movies, cover art design) – but there’s even a mention for yours truly. It’s well worth a look if you’re a fan of the blood-sucking genre, so why not take a peek?

*this means he writes about vampires, not (hopefully) that he is one personally!

Posted in Gardening, History, Local stuff, Museums & galleries

In praise of parks

On Monday we took the afternoon off and drove over to Morecambe. We’d explored the promenade pretty thoroughly on our last couple of visits, so for a complete change we headed to the northern suburb of Bare and mooched round that. What we found was a real blast from the past, with small, old-fashioned shops and a wonderful public park with the titter-some name of Happy Mount (in Bare, no less).

Putting the name aside, this was a real chance for some nostalgia. Not only did it have formal beds stuffed full of colourful flowers, a cafe, roses, a level area where ladies were having a line-dancing session, and a small train full of toddlers, but more unusually a Japanese garden (above).

It brought back happy memories of various parks I knew as a child. Top of the list was Hesketh Park in Southport, where my parents took me a lot. It was a pleasant space with the bonus of an aviary with quail and a talking mynah bird, and a pavilion that sold ice lollies (oh, the excitement when I was occasionally allowed a Fab!). Less often, we went to Southport’s Botanical Gardens, which I remember less clearly apart from the guinea pigs, a fernery, and a small on-site museum that had a frog mug and a collection of elephants (not real, obviously!) arranged in order of size.

By the time I got to university I had Liverpool’s Sefton Park at the end of the road. We didn’t often go – it wasn’t thought safe after dark and some areas were very run down. I still have fond memories of a fireworks display over the boating lake, and the Peter Pan statue (a copy of the one in Hyde Park), a pirate ship, the stunning palm house, and a wonderful rocky ravine with a waterfall.

I haven’t been back there for many years but it stayed with me surprisingly clearly – so much so that I used it as one of the settings for Echoes of Blood. Towards the end of the book the vampires take main character Daniel to the palm house for their own nefarious purposes, and it’s there he finally realises what and who they are.

‘It’s open, master.’ Edmund pushed the door, then stood back and waved them into the warm, sultry darkness. It smelled sweet, of wet earth and rain and tropical flowers, and the fronds of palms and bananas and other leafy plants were everywhere. A soft place, a gentle place, Daniel would have thought. And yet there was another scent too, stifling, sickly, over-powering the hothouse lilies that surrounded them. The scent of death…

I’d love to get back to Sefton Park, and perhaps even some of the others I’ve mentioned too. In the meantime, at least I know there’s a good alternative in Morecambe to get my park-y fix!

Posted in Books, Gardening, History, Photography

Even goats have statues…

I’ve been hunting high and low for this photograph for simply ages. Although the original was a print made from 35mm film, I knew I’d scanned it but it didn’t seem to be on any of the folders on my computer. And then early this morning I got a flash of inspiration, checked a different folder, and there it was!

This was taken in the mid 1980s inside the Palm House in Sefton Park, a wonderful green open space in the middle of Liverpool. I used the park extensively as a setting for my short story Lonely Sky, which eventually became vampire romance Echoes of Blood, mostly because of the Palm House and the many intriguing statues dotted around both inside and out. (There’s a copy of the famous Peter Pan statue, the original of which stands in Hyde Park, for instance. I used that in Lonely Sky, where all the little animals came to life, but couldn’t see how to translate that successfully into the updated book.)

These days on a digital camera you’d be able to take shot after shot, changing the focus and the angle. Back then I couldn’t afford to waste that much film (not to mention the processing costs), so this one shot is all I got. It’s a bit fuzzy and the statue itself is out of focus, but I’ve always liked the way it caught the light filtering down through the tropical plants and palms. So much so that this exact statue even turns up in the book!

In spite of the heat Daniel shivered and hugged himself.

‘Second thoughts, my boy?’

‘I… no, not really. It’s just…’ Just what? He wasn’t sure. Didn’t know what was coming, knew only that he wasn’t coming out of it unchanged. He shivered again. ‘Never mind.’ They pushed through the leaves, past a twinkling fountain and a statue of a goat, to a small bower beneath the central palm. The others must have gone ahead, although he hadn’t been aware of it. They waited in a group, all three of them.

If you like the sound of that and want to know how the Palm House fits in with the rest of the book, then why not treat yourself to a copy on Kindle, or free on Kindle Unlimited?

Posted in History, Movies, paranormal, TV

In Search of Dracula

Fans of the vampire genre in general, or Dracula in particular, should definitely try to track this BBC4 documentary down. Hosted by writer and horror buff Mark Gatiss, it’s a definitive history of not just the Bram Stoker book, but the myths and legends that inspired it, the various film and stage adaptations, and Gatiss’s own TV series Dracula (co-written with Stephen Moffat) which aired last year.

The programme is clearly a repeat since it mentions that TV series as ‘coming soon’, but for some reason I missed it first time around. This time I recorded it, and watched it in a couple of sittings last week. And was utterly riveted. For some reason I’d expected it to be a bit dry and dusty but it was anything but. Gatiss was informative but lively and his own innate sense of mischief kept showing through. And the snippets about the genre were fascinating.

There was the actual book, complete with annotations, that Stoker may well have got the name ‘Dracula’ from. There was an explanation of why the character’s cloak has such a high, stiff collar (something to do with the first theatre adaptation, although I’m not going to say what). There was the first really ‘sexy’ version of the character (Christopher Lee), and even a mention of when Dracula’s fangs first appeared!

Although I wasn’t madly convinced by Gatiss and Moffat’s adaptation of Dracula (you can see my blog post from last year about it HERE), I’d heartily recommend this entertaining look at the genre to anyone. Hopefully it’s still around on BBC i-Player; if not, watch out for another repeat. Or hire your own vampire to go and chew a few necks to make it available again!