It’s time to be scared. Here’s the first podcast from Terror Train – I swear to you the opening gave me goosebumps.
Remember you can download the rest of Terror Train from Amazon
It’s time to be scared. Here’s the first podcast from Terror Train – I swear to you the opening gave me goosebumps.
Remember you can download the rest of Terror Train from Amazon
As it’s Halloween week it’s about time we had a bio from a horror author. Introducing J G Clay and his novel Tales of Blood and Sulphur.
J.G Clay was born to write horror. He came into the world on the 31st October, 1973. To those of you who have no idea what that mean, 31st October is famously, (or infamously depending on your take on things), known as Halloween night, the night when thing go bump in the dark, the dead wander about a bit, children get lots of sweets, and Michael Myers come home to slaughter a load of promiscuous teens. To add more fun into the mix, it was also a full moon that night. Karma was definitely calling him to the horror path.
A keen sci-fi fan as a child, in the days when “Doctor Who” was most definitely uncool, and reading ‘Judge Dredd’ was seen as a bit odd. J.G discovered the dark delights of Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert and Ramsay Campbell, writers who he still hero worships to this day. Throw liberal parents into the mix who allowed him to watch the horror greats of the Seventies and Eighties from the pioneers of brilliant cinematic horror such as John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Dario Argento and the brilliantly disturbed and slightly disgusting Lucio Fulci and you have a cocktail for either a psychopath, or an author who knows how to play in the Dark.
J.G takes his influences firmly by the throat, throws in a bit of the sci-fi that he loves, memories and themes of growing up in in the UK as the son of immigrants, pop culture references drawn from his four decades of existence, and churns this toxic brew up to produce a cinematic stylish horror that leaps from the page, grabs you by the face and injects you with chills, thrills and a few laughs along the way. Personality wise, J.G is a curious sort. He’s a genial chap with a Scorpio edge. Imagine if you will the intellectual bent of Stephen King, crossed with the maverick edge of John Carpenter, then gently mix in the brash no nonsense confidence of Noel Gallagher, coupled with the humbleness of an ordinary working class British lad, and you have Clay.
‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur’, his first offering, is a world spanning collection of short stories, taking in Mumbai, the Phillipines and Middle England. The collection shines a light into dark corners of these locations, dragging out the horrors that slither beyond the periphery of our vision.
We meet gamblers fighting for their souls, lone survivors on the edge of madness avoiding the Living Dead and their fellow man, Gods who are twisted and embittered by eons of war and weary of Humanity, and we have a pint with the Devil himself.
‘Tales’ is quirky, savage, darkly humorous and will leave you both chilled and entertained. Blood is red, Sulphur burns, Tales are ready to be told…….
What Halloween would be complete without a vampire right? I am very pleased to bring you a great author Alina Popescu and her latest novel The Edge of Hope, which is on promotion all this week in celebration of Halloween. You can download this book for just $0.99 for this week only.
Everyone she loved betrayed her. She felt lost and broken. Getting away from the pain and embracing a new path, Alexa decided to leave her old life behind and chase a long forgotten dream in Malta. There she met a gorgeous man, bearing the scent of fresh love. He led her to a new city to explore, Amsterdam. Is the tall, dark, and delicious man a dream come true or just a risky gamble?
Alexa chose hope and new beginnings over fear and warning signs only to be brutally dragged into a world she never really thought existed. Vampires, their feuds, and her future held tightly in their hands.
Trapped in a mysterious world, Alexa gives love chance after chance. Following her quest of self-discovery in a blood bound world, will she survive the journey?
Editor of Terror Train, Krista Clark Grabowski, has taken some time out to answer some questions about the book.
Terror Train is a collection of horror stories, right? Can you tell us more about the concept?
The concept for Terror Train came from A. Henry Keene, an excellent writer and my co-editor on Terror Train. It’s more than a collection of stories and poems with a train theme, it’s a cross-country train ride. The first story in the book is written by Charie D. LaMarr and is set in New York and it ends with a story written by Alex S. Johnson that is set is California. Between the first and last stories are “train stops” in various locations.
Interesting. I noticed you said it includes both stories and poems. That gives the book a lot of variety.
Yes it does. It worked out so well. The writing itself covers a broad range as well. There is a noir-style story, one from the future, one set in the Old West, a southern gothic story, and lots of other styles. Some of them have gore and some have none at all. You won’t find any two stories or poems that are the same. I really think there is something for everyone in this one.
How has it been received?
Very well. We have no negative reviews and there has been so much interest that we’re doing a series of Terror Train podcasts. David Schutz II narrates every episode and does an amazing job. His wife, Mary Genevieve Fortier, is a running character she created, the disembodied voice of Terror. Her wicked laugh and dialogue make the episodes extra creepy. There are nine episodes so far. A new one goes out every Saturday and except for the first installment, each one is about half an hour long. David is working his way through the book. Eventually he will read every story and poem.
Here’s a link to my YouTube channel. You can find all of the podcasts there.
Buy it on Amazon here.
Now it’s time for something new. Here’s a real creepy thriller that gets darker the more you read. We’ll be featuring more of The Unlucky Man by H T G Hedges this week but if you can’t wait then download the book now from Amazon.
And then another figure emerged from the mist which, though it parted for Quinn and his team, seemed to cling to the newcomer much as it did to me, lending him an ethereal sinister aspect.
“Wychelo?” Quinn croaked as the strange eyed killer advanced on us. Somehow, despite his actions in the crash, Wychelo still looked immaculate and unruffled, as if he’d stepped from a salon rather than the burning wreck of his car. I felt a pressure building in my skull and the mist closed in even more. I was almost ready for the feeling this time as the shadow moved.
“Control wants these two alive,” Quinn said, turning towards Wychelo so that the business end of his rifle now pointed at him. A flicker of annoyance played over the killer’s previously impassive features.
“Lower your weapon,” he said evenly but, although the barrel wavered, Quinn kept his rifle raised, barrel levelled at Wychelo’s chest.
“What’s going on out here?” Quinn growled. The mist seemed to be circling him, growing thicker around him, clinging at his mouth. It was almost like he was breathing it in, being infected by its insidious tendrils.
“Lower your weapon,” Wychelo repeated as the mist rolled around him, drawing a tight circle around us all. He had, I noticed, a suppressed pistol in his hand hanging loosely, almost casually, at his side.
The blood was pounding in my ears, sweat beading on my brow and prickling down my neck. A white wall now penned our small drama in, like players on a stage. The closer Wychelo came, the stronger the tension became; it was like there was a cord running between us, stretched almost to breaking point. The sense of another world overlaying this one surfaced nauseatingly once more. For a split second I had the distinct feeling that there were figures waiting in the impenetrable mist, indistinct and intangible. I could see them when I closed my eyes, grey shapes cast against the blackness of my eyelids. Eyes opened, I could still feel their still presence.
The moment passed, but my sense of them still remained, like reality was stretching, being strained and extended like an overfilled balloon, ready to rip under the strain at any moment. Something shifted in the murk, a wet whisper of noise. By now the others could sense it too, I was sure.
“What was that?” one of the ops shouted, squinting off into the mist. Others followed, his lead, their
attention suddenly no longer locked on Corg and me.
“There’s someone in the mist,” Quinn hissed urgently, still sighting on Wychelo. He was losing it fast from the look in his wide eyes. “Someone who makes my skin crawl same as you do. How do you explain that you creepy motherfucker?” he growled, voicing the strange creeping parity between the cold eyed assassin and the encroaching white wall.
Quinn was unravelling quickly now, every breath of misted air leaving him more strung out than before, spooling his poise out like so much unwound cotton. The whispering was increasing too, a steady creeping susurration that seemed to come from all sides.
Around us, the mist was moving as if alive, coalescing and resolving itself into half-seen shapes, darker patches that flittered and moved in the corner of the eye and disappeared when you tried to look for them. Dark patches that looked almost like the shapes of people. My mouth felt full of electric and there was so much tension buzzing off Quinn and his men I expected them to sizzle and crack with each jerking movement. Quinn was breathing in heavy gulps, taking in great lungfulls of the coiling air.
I caught Corg’s eye and tried my best to convey “When this goes off, get ready to run,” without moving my face in any way. I think he got it.
Wychelo’s lips slid back revealing even, white teeth. “Put it down,” he said with deadly finality. I looked from his cold, impassive face, still with poise, to Quinn’s bunched up features, a vein pumping madly at his temple, teeth bared. There’s only one way this ends, I thought.
“What’s happening?” Quinn whispered again, desperation edging into his voice, his final plea. What followed was a complete cessation of all movement, the whispering stopped: whatever – if anything – was waiting in the mist held its breath.
“Fuck it,” Quinn breathed and I could read his intent. His fist tightened on the grip of his rifle, knuckles white and bloodless on the trigger. With a speed that seemed impossible, inhuman, Wychelo whipped up his hand and we all heard the zip as he fired, once, at close range.
There was blood in the air. Something howled.
In the UK we don’t really celebrate Halloween like they do in the US but we still like our scares. So all this week I am showcasing a great collaboration of stories to chill your bones and give you nightmares. There will be something new everyday to get you in the mood for a frightening Friday. And also we’ve revamped (get it!) the blog a bit too. Let us know what you think in the comments below and please feel free to share your scary stories.
Now allow me to introduce the spine-tingling, hell-raising, not-being-able-to-go-to-sleep-in-the-dark-ing… Train Terror:
The Terror Train rides, from city to city, from village to village, through states, across rivers and mountains. If only it could tell its tales of grisly murder, of demonic pacts, black holes into different dimensions and portals to other realms where the ghosts of train robbers hunt in perpetuity for that elusive bullion filled carriage that cost them their immortal souls. Behold the terrors the train has witnessed, see firsthand the horrors it has lived through and when you get on board, pray, pray you’ve entered the right one, on the right track, the one that does not lead to oblivion…
Terror Train contains stories by new and established authors, with a guest story by William F. Nolan.
Here’s an exclusive from Contemporary Woman’s novel Elizabeth Clansham by Catherine E Chapman and this book is free for the next few weeks so don’t forget if you like it download it now!
Browsing pulses in the tinned-foods aisle, thinking that a chilli would be a good pick-me-up for him and a peace offering to Dorothy, Angus became aware of a small, fair-haired girl watching him intently.
She stood at the end of his trolley, her head barely visible above it, but the bright red coat she wore barring him from going any further without acknowledging her. ‘Hullo,’ she said. ‘My name’s Lauren. What’s yours?’
‘Angus,’ he replied. ‘Did your mammy never tell you, you shouldn’t speak to strangers.’
‘You’re not strange,’ she said.
‘You’re quite hairy.’
He laughed again. ‘Where’s your mammy, then?’
‘Frozen foods,’ said Lauren.
‘Shouldn’t you go and find her?’ Angus suggested.
‘She’ll find me,’ Lauren assured him. ‘Are you a farmer?’
‘No but I do work on the land and I work with animals.’
‘Are you a zookeeper?’
Angus looked up and saw, at the head of the aisle, a Viking princess. She wore tight jeans and a cerise top that was too small for her and her long, blonde, flowing hair enhanced the animation caused by her distress. She advanced towards them.
‘Lauren, don’t go wandering off like that ever again. And don’t talk to strangers.’
‘See,’ Angus said to Lauren.
‘He’s not strange,’ Lauren insisted. ‘This is Angus. He’s a zookeeper–’
‘I’m not actually a zookeeper,’ Angus admitted, holding out his hand to the warrior princess.
She shook it half-heartedly but looked less aggressive. ‘I’m very sorry,’ she said. ‘This one can be a real pest; I hope she hasn’t been annoying you.’
‘Not a problem,’ said Angus, wondering whether Lauren had a father.
‘Come on then, chipmunk,’ the princess said, extending the hand he’d shaken to her daughter. ‘I’m really sorry,’ she repeated.
‘Until we meet again,’ Angus said to Lauren but really to her.
‘Yes,’ Lauren replied definitely.
The princess dragged the chipmunk away, the chipmunk turning and waving to him as she went. Angus noted that the Viking warrior princess wore a very new, very sturdy-looking pair of fawn, suede boots, trimmed with fur around their tops. They were incredibly incongruous with the rest of her attire but incredibly sexy with her long, powerful legs in their tight jeans. He wondered what could be her name: Brunhilde? Isolde?
When Angus went to the checkout he saw them again, two tills down. They were alone – his hopes were raised.
‘Earth calling Angus, Earth calling Angus,’ Lena mocked as she began to swipe his purchases.
‘Oh, how are ye?’ he asked.
‘Not half so lovesick as you by the looks of things,’ she remarked astutely.
‘Get away with ye,’ Angus said, fearing he was blushing.
As he went to the end of the checkout, he snuck another look at her. She was bending over the end of her checkout, packing her bags, but looking up and smiling at someone approaching her from the aisles.
Angus turned to see the bloody rock star waving a leg of beef in the air, signalling to the cashier not to total the bill until he’d reached them. His heart sank.
‘She goes by the name of Laetitia,’ Lena said, without having to look at what Angus was looking at to know what he was looking at.
‘And she’s what, Andrew’s girlfriend?’ Angus asked, trying to sound matter-of-fact.
‘According to Agnes McGinty but then, personally, I don’t think Agnes’s word is the most reliable. She could be his sister,’ Lena suggested, wondering why she was being so nice to him when he never gave her so much as a look.
‘Aye,’ he said, brightening.
‘Although, she is very blonde and he’s very dark – so maybe not.’ She saw Angus’s smile subside and felt glad she’d undermined his optimism. ‘That’ll be thirty-six pounds and seventy-two pence, then.’
When he’d given his card to Lena, Angus looked over again to see them departing. He didn’t think she’d noticed him – why should she? He was slightly comforted to see that, walking side-by-side, Laetitia was at least an inch taller than Andrew. As he looked on, Lauren turned and waved a rather ugly, half-hare-half-human entity at him.
He waved to her and smiled.
‘Put your pin in, for goodness’ sake Angus,’ Lena instructed.
Today I am interviewing Jan Hurst-Nicholson a British writer of fun books like But Can You Drink The Water. Here’s what she has to say.
But Can You Drink The Water? is probably your most popular book – can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a light-hearted look at emigration and chronicles a naïve working-class family’s attempts to fit in after emigrating from Liverpool to South Africa. The story follows the upsets, hurt and changing family dynamics that emigration brings and has an underlying theme of: ‘Is home more than where the heart is?’
When Frank Turner informs his wife and teenage son they are moving to sunny South Africa he is unprepared for their hostile response. His defiant son makes his own silent protest, and his wife’s assertion that “we never shoulda come” is parroted at every minor calamity.
The story began as a stage script in the 1980s and progressed to a 13 part sitcom. A local film producer was interested, but when that came to naught I still had all the characters and situations buzzing in my head, so I turned the episodes into chapters of a novel. The title But Can You Drink The Water? is a familiar phrase to British readers who travel abroad.
Although the book had some positive responses from publishers, and even won an award, it was never taken up, but when it reached the semi-finals in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award the positive review from the Publishers Weekly judge, “with a droll, witty and utterly British voice…” prompted me to self-publish it as a Kindle e-book. The encouraging sales of the e-book persuaded me it was worth producing a paperback version.
What is the Turner family like? Are they based on any family in particular?
The characters are very much a product of my imagination, but I’d like to think they represent a typical ‘salt of the earth’ Scouse family of the 1970s who were somewhat unworldly and naïve (as many of us were) about anything that was foreign. I drew (very loosely – I was single when I arrived in SA and I married a South African) on my own experiences and those of fellow expats. I’ve been gratified by reviewers saying they ‘recognised’ the characters, with one reviewer commenting: “Every page related to EXACTLY what happened to ourselves as the author experienced, even down to when we returned to the UK on holiday. Both the wife and I shed tears of laughter.”
The Turner family emigrate from Liverpool to South Africa, this is set in the 1970s so what is it like for the family stepping into this foreign country?
There was no internet to do research in the 1970s so emigrants were very much setting off into the unknown, and the bewildered working-class Scousers are soon thrust into an alien world of servants, strange African customs, unintelligible accents, and unexpected wild life (‘crocodiles’ on the wall). Immersing into a new and very different culture can be traumatic, especially for the spouse left at home to cope on her own while the husband quickly adapts to a new working life. But the Turners each learn to cope in their own individual way. Mavis overcomes homesickness by hugging the knowledge that when Frank’s contract ends they can return home; Gerry’s sullen resentment gives way to love of the outdoor life, and Frank masks his own doubts with blustering optimism and bantering sarcasm. Having overcome culture shock, the arrival of Mavis’s parents introduces a divided loyalty when Gert and Walter’s National Health glasses and ill-fitting dentures are seen through the eyes of the Turner’s new South African friends. And when Mavis’s sister ‘our Treesa’ and her opinionated husband Clive visit, Mavis surprises herself by hotly defending SA.
But Can You Drink The Water? is a British comedy, what do you like about British humour?
It’s usually understated and subtle, with a good sprinkling of self-deprecation. Sarcasm also plays a part, and Frank is a master at sarcastic remarks. I like to think of British humour as ‘observational’ humour in that people recognize and laugh at themselves.
It’s difficult to sum up the book with one scene, but I think the first few paragraphs set the tone for the book.
South Africa 1970s
As the 747 hiccupped through a pocket of turbulence Frank Turner’s white-knuckled fingers tightened round the armrests in the same vice-like grip he used on the dentist’s chair. The cigarette clamped between his teeth was the latest in the chain he’d begun eighteen hours earlier on Liverpool’s Lime Street station.
The cloudless blue sky abruptly turned to brown earth as the plane banked sharply for its final landing approach. Frank risked movement to turn round and peer impatiently down the aisle. The toilet door remained firmly closed. As his head swung back his cigarette narrowly escaped contact with the crotch of the brisk airhostess who was hurrying the passengers into their safety belts. “Please extinguish your cigarette and fasten your safety belt, sir,” she said, nimbly avoiding the glowing cigarette tip, her bright smile now of a lower wattage after fourteen hours in the air.
Frank smiled submissively, but sneaked a few last drags while she strapped in the florid-faced woman in front whose frequent trips to the toilet equated with her having walked the six thousand miles from England to South Africa.
He stubbed out his cigarette and fastened his safety belt. The landing was the part he didn’t care for. Fraught with tension, anxiety clenched his buttocks, jaw and fists. He cast further furious glances towards the toilet, willing the door to open. When it remained closed he addressed the figure slouched sulkily in the window seat.
“Trust your bloody mother. It would be just like her to be caught with her knickers down if we crash.”
There was no response from fifteen-year-old Gerry, except for the barely perceptible quiver of his Mohican haircut. He’d never wanted to come in the first place, and nothing less than the promise of a motorbike was going to bring him round.
Glaring at the silent form of his son, Frank forced down the anger that surged anew at the sight of his hair. Although, thanks to his mother’s vigorous washing, the once rainbow purple, green and yellow stripes were now a paler, muted hue, it had failed to return it to its original mouse. Nothing short of a wig could do anything for the lavatory-brush style.
“I’m talking to you, cloth ears,” Frank snapped, prodding Gerry in the ribs.
The only response was a scowl and muttered, “I ‘eard you.”
The row was about to develop into a shouting match when the toilet door finally swung open and Mavis Turner limped down the aisle, the agony of her swollen ankles reflected in her suffering face. She squeezed past Frank, wincing as her new shoes caught the bunion her mother had threatened her with since the winklepicker shoes of her teens. …
But Can You Drink The Water? is just one of your books, you’re a really prolific author, can you tell us about your favourite story?
My first novel was The Breadwinners (a family saga) , but it would be 25 years before I saw it in print. In the meantime I wrote children’s books and I’m very fond of Leon Chameleon PI and the case of the missing canary eggs which was my first trad published book and allowed me to claim fame as an ‘author’. Something to Read on the Plane was the first book I self-published (in print in 2006) and is a compilation of my published humorous articles and short stories. It is still selling at airport bookshops and is special because it was the first book I was solely responsible for. But I had the most fun writing my latest book, With the Headmaster’s Approval because I wrote it for myself (and fell in love with the MC!). Knowing that I was going to self-publish it gave me the freedom to write without any publisher’s constraints, or the usual ‘rules’ sitting on my shoulder. It’s general fiction with a romance element, so it doesn’t easily slot into any particular genre – a bit of a nightmare for a publisher’s marketer. The story tells how one man changes the group dynamics when he joins an all-female community, which is something I’ve noticed on more than one occasion and wanted to explore further (women seem to have more fun when there are no men around!)
Restoring discipline at a girls’ academy should have been easy for a former US Naval Officer. It wasn’t, nor was it easy dealing with an all-female staff.
Intrigue, scandal, suspense, and romance peppered with humour tell how one man’s influence on a school of wayward girls and their teachers changes their lives in ways none of them would imagine – and eventually his own.
I set the book in the UK in the area where I went to school, and as our TV was showing re-runs of the original Hawaii 5-0 series starring Jack Lord I used him as a model for Adam Wild, the Headmaster. Having pictures of the main characters pinned above my computer helps to keep me focused.
This is how the story begins.
As Adam scanned the morning’s agenda Lisa could hear the chatter of the girls as they filed into assembly. The closed office door muted the sound, but she knew when they entered the hall it would be like the bird house in a zoo. She stood next to his neatly organised desk ready to fill in any details he was unsure of.
“So, Mrs Stannard is going to introduce me and give a brief explanation, and then I’ll take over?” he asked, looking up at her.
“Yes, we thought that would be best. It will give some sort of continuity.”
“And you’ll be ready to prompt me on the agenda,” he said, grinning.
“Yes, but I’m confident you won’t need me,” she replied with a reassuring smile.
He glanced at his watch, a slim classic that matched his gold cuff links, clipped his Montblanc pen into his pocket, picked up the file and rose briskly from his chair, his six foot-four frame towering over her. He fastened the middle button of his suit jacket, a dark blue that together with his pale blue shirt enhanced his fading tan. His broad shoulders filled the jacket to perfection and he could have stepped out of a clothing catalogue if it weren’t for the few stray locks of hair that fell over his brow despite him constantly finger-combing them back.
“Let’s go. Wish me luck,” he said.
“Good luck,” she said, wondering if he knew just how much he would need it.
And, finally, what are you currently working on?
I have several more Leon Chameleon PI stories in draft form, but they require expensive illustrations and are in abeyance at the moment, so I’m working on marketing what I’ve already
e-published and getting them all into print. I still need full covers for With the Headmaster’s Approval, my teen book Mystery at Ocean Drive and I Made These Up (short stories for the fireside). My trad published children’s books went out of print, but I was able to get reversal of copyright and convert them to e-books. Now I need to learn how to use the programme for converting them back into print. Gone are the days when all that was required of an author was to write a good story!
You can find lots more about Jan on the links below: