An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

Posts tagged “gothic

Back to Hopeless Maine (or did we ever leave?)

Hi everyone,

I wanted to let you guys know about the release of a project that I’m very passionate about. Written and illustrated by the incomparable Nimue and Tom Brown, the brand new edition of Hopeless, Maine graphic novel has been uneashed upon the populace!

Here’s how Tom and Nimue describe their brainchild:

Hopeless is a strange, gothic island off the coast of Maine, cut off from the rest of reality for the greater part. Hopeless Maine is also a graphic novel series, the peculiar child of Tom and Nimue Brown. Here’s a little taste of island life.

Now what made me fall in love with these Graphic Novels was the artwork; a visceral Gothic masterpiece of landscapes and creatures that slithers in the dark reaches of the imagination like nothing else. I loved it from the very first images. Then, I read it, and fell in love with the brilliantly simple storytelling that gives plenty and leaves plenty, too, so that the reader can’t help but soar away on flights of their own dark fantasy.

As an honoured part of the Hopeless, Maine blog tour, I’ve been blessed with the presence of one of Hopeless’ denizens, the utterly creepy Owl Demon:


Owl Demon. To confuse matters, residents of the island of Hopeless, Maine tend to call anything unfamiliar a demon. This has included especially funny looking chickens, and a parrot who came ashore with a shipwreck. It’s difficult, when faced with some of the island’s resident life forms, to ascertain exactly how unnatural they are. However, if you scrutinise them closely, you will see that genuine demons seldom have plausible anatomies. They don’t need to, on account of being demons. Laws of physics and biology hold no interest for them. If you stop to scrutinise an entity for long enough to identify its demonic status, this is probably the last thing you’ll ever do. Understanding the nuances of islander demonology (assume it is a demon and run away) makes a good deal of sense if you aren’t interested in having your body parts slowly rearranged. For much the same reason that islanders do not look too closely at the anatomy of demons, no one asks too many questions about where the demons actually come from.

Cooking instructions: if you were even thinking about it, seek medical or spiritual help as a matter of urgency.

Brilliant isn’t it? And the graphic novels themselves are cover-to-cover with darklings and demons, nightmare creatures and cryptozoological monstrosities.

For newbies to the series, the books are available from all good comic stores and online sites. The best place, however, would be The Book Depository where you can get the preceding volumes as well as the latest instalment, Gathering.


I can’t recommend the work of the Browns highly enough.

Go get it. Get it now. Before it gets you!

Thanks for reading.

Not Before Bed…the return

Oh yes, it has been a long time in the making but it’s finally here. The short story collection which I put together and self published before Greaveburn was accepted by Inspired Quill has finally come home. IQ have graciously accepted to reprint the old warhorse of nightmaresthat is Not Before Bed. With new editing, amazing new cover and even some re-hashings and new endings for some of my old work, the beast is definitely back.

The inimitable Charley Hall has produced a creepy cover, and there is even an internal illustration inspired by NBB by Chloe Lisa. It looks pretty great, I have to admit. I’m very chuffed with it. Check out the Tour Deets page for where me and the new books (The Adventures of Alan Shaw is still doing the preliminary rounds), or follow my Facebook page to stay up to date.

Other than that, feast your eyes on this juicy cover art and await the release date on 15.12.14 (Just in time to darken your Christmas, Horror-fans).

NBB ebook cover


Thanks for reading!

Happy New Year!

Hello, fellow readers!

Once again, time seems to have totally evaded my grasp. I can’t believe how fast everything seems to be moving of late. As a Whovian, I’d suggest some kind of time-dilation anomaly that only The Doctor himself can save us from. But until he turns up, we’ll just have to deal with it.

In case you missed the title of this post, and have been in a particularly potent coma of late, you’ll know that we are now firmly placed into the year 2014. Every time I look at that date, I can’t help thinking how close we are, or even how we have passed by, some of the predictions made by favourite sci-fi movies. Here’s hoping that Skynet doesn’t finally get traction, eh?

But this year, while swift, has been good to me. Greaveburn has sold more and more copies and gained a growing group of appreciative readers (Fans is too strong a word). The reviews have remained brilliant, although I’m still waiting for that first stinker of a one-star, since I’m an optimist, you know. And I think it’s time for this year’s Greaveburn Awards. Three people made special contributions to my sanity this year, letting me know that it’s ok to get lost in my fantasy worlds. And those are:

Jess Booth

jessJess bought Greaveburn at the 2013 Weekend at the Asylum convention, and promptly read it in about 6 hours. She also left a lovely review on Amazon. This kind of book-fanatical behaviour warms the cockles of my heart. Thank you, Jess. The next time I’m in Widow Cullen’s Well, I’ll make sure to buy you a pint ;D








Ash Lithgow

ashI think Ash made it into the awards last year, too, but he has maintained his uber-fandom this year by reading Greaveburn more times than I ever did. He also stepped in as assistant fact-checker in a workshop I did at the Steampunk Doncaster convention this year, because he knows the characters better than I do. I actually had to defer to him once or twice in the workshop. God bless you, Ash!







Frances Rockett

Not only does Fran win an award for the most Steampunk name on her birth certificate, she has been a huge help to the Greaveburn movement this year. She has acted as shop girl for me at several events, drawing in the crowds and then promptly sending them away again, one book heavier. She’s  a machine. A book-selling automaton.


So thank you to those three people in particular, but to everyone else to picked up a copy of my work, read it, borrowed it, reviewed it, entered the Readers’ Gallery, Liked, Shared, or told a friend. You’re all my favourite people.

But now we have hit 2014. A new year means moving forward.

This year is going to be a busy one, too. The itinerary goes something like this:

  1. I turn 30 (yikes!)
  2. I finally finish my university course, giving me my second degree (this times in English). So look out for photos of me in a silly hat later this year!
  3. I get married (double yikes!)
  4. My next novel, The Adventures of Alan Shaw gets released! YIPPEE! That’ll be around June time with a new shiny edition of Not Before Bed, too.
  5. At some point, Greaveburn will develop a cult following and the masses will demand a movie be made. I already have the cast list in my head ;D

Ok, so maybe that last one is a push. But the others are very true, and very scary. I really can’t wait for you all to meet Alan Shaw. But I’m very nervous about it, too.

Anyway, whatever it is you have planned for this year, I wish you all the best of luck and happiness. Remember that the lows never sink the highs, they’re just anchor points between your adventures.


Thanks for reading for another year.

Reader’s theories on your work.

As soon as your novel, poem, screenplay or artwork leaves your hand, it’s open to the interpretation of others. That’s just how it goes. And to a certain degree, that’s the whole point. Especially with books. How I imagine one of my favourite characters, Harry Dresden, is mine alone and will be subtley different from how others imagine him. It’s part of the fun of picturing things in your head.

The way that I’ve come across this kind of thing is in readings, workshops and at signings. People seem to really want to know what Greaveburn “is”.

There have been several theories offered to me:
1. Greaveburn is an alternate history.
2. It’s a parallel universe.
3. It’s an alternate dimension.
And, most recently,
4. It’s a post-apocalyptic city.

That last one came from a recent review by Scott Kinkade, which I won’t link to as it has lots of spoilers in it, but his theory is a good one, as theories go.

I’ve wondered whether to dispel these theories or just let people carry on, and I’ve finally decided to do the latter. What people get from the book is their own personal experience and I’m happy to have it that way.

But it points to something interesting in human nature, I think. The constant search for solid answers. None of the people who made these theories could just let Greaveburn be. It has to be something. Odd don’t you think? And worth bearing in mind when you write your own work.

Thanks for reading.

World Goth Day!

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, I love everything Gothic. Among my favorite books are Gormenghast, Wuthering Heights, Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, alongside movies such as The Crow, Dark City and Franklin. Everytime I walk the streets of Edinburgh or see a particularly good cathedral of dilapidated churchyard (there’s a great selection of the latter in Doncaster where I live), I get a silly grin on my face. Right now I’m listening to the haunting vocal stylings of Robert Smith as I type, to get me in the mood…I’m weird and I love it.

And these things have been a huge influence on my writing, culminating in the release of my Gothic Fantasy novel Greaveburn last year.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I am here to inform you of this year’s World Goth Day! Every year on the 22nd of May, the darklings crawl from their crypts, or take the winding stairs from their 17th century apartments, and grace the world with their midnight glory.

The website HERE has a fantastic array of information and other great stuff, but otherwise I implore you just to get involved!

And in honour of this most awesome event, my publisher Inspired Quill have granted an epic discount on Greaveburn for World Goth Day. Take a look at the blurb and click the pic below to get yourself linked over:

A Hero murdered.

A Girl alone.

A city of Villains.

From the crumbling Belfry to the Citadel’s stained-glass eye, across acres of cobbles streets and knotted alleyways that never see daylight, Greaveburn is a city with darkness at its core. Gothic spires battle for height, overlapping each other until the skyline is a jagged mass of thorns.

Archduke Choler sits on the throne, his black-sealed letters foretell death for the person named inside. Abrasia, the rightful heir, lives as a recluse in order to stay alive. With her father murdered and her only ally lost, Abrasia is alone in a city where the crooked Palace Guard, a scientist’s assistant that is more beast than man, and a duo of body snatchers are all on her list of enemies.

Under the cobbled streets lurk the Broken Folk, deformed rebels led by the hideously scarred Darrant, a man who once swore to protect the city. And in a darkened laboratory, the devious Professor Loosestrife builds a contraption known only as The Womb.

With Greaveburn being torn apart around her, can Abrasia avenge her father’s murder before the Archduke’s letter spells her doom?


There’s also a new juicy interview with myself over at The Pen Punks blog which some of you itching for a sequel might be interested in reading *knowing wink*

That’s all from me for now.

Embrace the weird.

Greaveburn Pre-Launch Competition

If you’ve been around recently, you’ll already know the big news. If you haven’t…where HAVE you been? Oh, you have a life? Well, I hear they’re overrated. I won’t hold it against you. Better late than never.

Anyway, in honour of the publication of my debut novel, Greaveburn, I have decided to have a bonanza. Some lucky bugger is going to win things and that could mean YOU! But I’m not going to make it easy for you. Why would I? This isn’t the kind of giveaway you find on daytime tv where the question is something like:

What is the name of the money-winning organisation for which millions of people buy tickets every week? Is it:
A: The National Lottery
B: The National Pottery
C: The National Mockery
(answers on a postcard, kids!)

No, we’re not going to do that, because that’d be crap. Instead, we’re going to go all Challenge Anneka on you. Below, you will find a couple of Greaveburn-related images. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to take one of these images (or one of your own making) and use it in the most imaginative way possible. The most outrageous/funny/obscure entry wins a personalised, signed copy of Greaveburn itself for your shelf and, of course, all entries will be put into a gallery for everyone to see and share (We’ll keep track of them on the new competition page). All mediums are accepted, including photos, vids, animations or whatever else you deranged readers can come up with.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  1. A tableau of you and your Steampunk/Goth friends brandishing the logo.
  2. Respraying your car/scooter/Harley Davidson with the cover images (That’d be freaking awesome).
  3. …or maybe a tattoo somewhere about your virgin flesh? (Soooo not worth the resulting prize!)
  4. Carve the title into a motorway overpass (I in no way endorse this vandalistic behaviour………although SOME might think it cool)
  5. Get your friends to spell out Greaveburn at a football game.

Whatever you come up with…camera *click*…email (Under my pic on the right, over there)…Simple!

I’m going to leave this open until the end of September, so pop back and see if you’ve won!

Have fun!

My favourite Gothic movies

I love movies almost as much as I love writing. Most of the time, they become interchangable as I watch a movie that sparks some idea that ends up as a story (NOT Fan Fiction. I’m sorry, but I had to stipulate that). Anyways, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed by now, I’m seriously into my dark imagery. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is among my favourite reads, and I can’t think of anything more incredibly Gothic than that. Anyways, as I sometimes so, I’m going to talk about the movies that have inspired me ove the years or, more specifically, the Gothic ones.

Now, you might disagree as to whether these films are truly in the classical Gothic tradition. But I’m talking about the darkness, here. That feeling of dread or shivery exultation you get from reading a good ghost story, or experiencing something dark that you can’t help but like. So, without much further ado, here are my favourite Gothic movies…


Let’s start with the oldest first. As well as being one of the first Vampire movies I ever saw (not because I was old enough to be there, but because it was on TV) this is one that still bloody petrifies me. The fact that it has no sound, and the camera angles/use of shadow just make the whole thing so ethereal. Take a look at what I mean, and turn off the sound. I don’t know why people insist on adding stupid music to clips of Nosferatu. Talk about missing the point!

Dark City

This probably isn’t in the true Gothic feel, being more of a sci-fi movie, but the imagery is certainly dark enough. There’s also a deep sense of being trapped and a feeling of futility to the protagonist’s fight. How can he possibly escape the labyrinthine avenues and alleyways of Dark City when the villains can warp the world around him. You might also see a bit of a similarity between the villains and Max Schreck’s character from Nosferatu. Oh, and it has Keifer Sutherland in it. What more can you possibly ask for? Apart from JENNIFER CONNELY! Schwing!

The Crow

And now to my favourite of this group. I have seen this movie so many times that the VHS (remember those?) warped from the heat and the DVD has lost its shine. James O’Barr’s utterly psychotic graphic novel is the inspiration for this film, and not a lick of the depth seems to be lost. The dialogue is dumbed down for the masses, since the comic was written in almost constant poetry, but parts of the original come through in Brandon Lee’s lines. It also has one of the creepiest villains this side of the Joker. This film, out of this sall selection, probably hits the Gothic feel the most. Eric’s return from the  dead to seek his revenge on Shelley’s murderers is always secondary to the love story, the power of which literally resurrects him from the grave. Take a look at the trailer, which focusses more on the action, and so does it no justice whatsoever. But you’ll get the idea.


This is what it looks like inside my head a lot of the time, folks 🙂 Greaveburn at the very least has been influenced by the kind of camera shots and colourscapes you see in these films. And since I tend to write my stories as I see them, and so as cinematically as possible, I think you’ll see where I get my obsession with dark imagery from.

Anyway, it’s been nice sharing with you as always, especially these three favs of mine. Let me know if you have any other suggestions. There’s always a chance you might put me onto a gem I haven’t seen 🙂


Thanks for reading.