Monthly Archives: October 2014

Terror Train: Podcast 1

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


Tales of Blood and Sulphur

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…….

You can download this book now from Amazon


The Edge of Hope – Halloween Special

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?

 

Download now from Amazon for only $0.99


Terror Train: Interview

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.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFl20_Vc7Kwqa3GZBLpHjAQ

 

Buy it on Amazon here.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Train-Mathias-Jansson-ebook/dp/B00KYWRWS2/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413836480&sr=1-2&keywords=terror+train+in+books


The Unlucky Man – Halloween Special (1)

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.

 

Download the book now!


Terror Train

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.

All aboard!

Download it now! http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Train-Mathias-Jansson-ebook/dp/B00KYWRWS2/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413836480&sr=1-2&keywords=terror+train+in+books


Lost in Mist and Shadow

This week we have a new book from an author who has been here before. Have a read of this exclusive from Morgan Daimler’s Lost in Mist and Shadow.

 

“Wow, that stuff reeks,” Jason made a face, waving his hand in front of his face.

Allie stopped walking, the burning bundle of sage leaves held out in front of her. She glanced around her store, the ordered rows of bookshelves now obscured by a haze of smoke. “I like the way it smells.”

Jason wrinkled his nose, then looked up towards the ceiling, “You did remember to turn off the smoke detectors before lighting that thing up, right? Because I’m going to be really embarrassed if the alarm goes off and -”

“And all your firefighting buddies roll up and see you playing witch.” Allie interrupted, rolling her eyes. “Fine Takada, go open the front door and let some fresh air in.”

“More like let some smoke out. I hope no one thinks the building’s on fire,” Jason laughed, already jogging up to open the door. Allie mimed a kick in his direction, forgetting her bad ankle which screamed in protest at taking all her weight. She staggered, pain shooting up her leg, and bit her lip feeling foolish, but Jason hadn’t seen anything. She turned quickly and went back to smudging the store, limping more than usual now as she walked around trying to get the smoke into every crevice. Jason had always been prone to worrying about everything but Allie was pretty sure he was just teasing this time.

“I’m not sure that helped very much,” Jason moaned as Allie moved between the shelves in the back of the store.

“Well, then go open the back door and get some circulation going. Maybe that’ll help.”

“Do you really think burning some plants will get rid of funky energy?” Jason asked, hesitating.

“Yup. I know it does. My grandmother swore by burning sage.” Allie said, blowing on the smoldering bundle to keep the embers going.

“I dunno. Seems kinda weird, even for magic. I mean I get channeling energy, and chanting spells, and drawing out patterns to set a spell, but burning an herb and expecting it to cleanse the air seems, I dunno, just counterproductive.”

“You sound like such a firefighter, arguing against burning things,” Allie laughed.

Jason laughed with her, “I guess, but really how do you know it works?”

“Because I can feel the energy changing. Don’t they use herbs for cleansing in Japan?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Jason shifted slightly starting to move towards the back as Allie emerged from the bookshelves. “Not my thing and remember my mom and I came over to the US when I was little.”

“Yeah, I always forget you aren’t into your dad’s heritage side of things.”

“Why should I be?” Jason looked uncomfortable. “Who needs an emperor and seppuku anyway? You’re talking about a culture that hasn’t changed hardly at all since the black ships arrived in 1853.”

“You’re being ridiculous, and please you’re talking to me here, you think traditional Japanese culture is rigid try Elvish culture. You offend someone by using the wrong pronoun and you get challenged to a duel.” Allie waved the sage bundle in the air for emphasis and ash drifted down onto the wooden floor.

“I’m being ridiculous? You’re trusting burning plants to clean your energy,” Jason said sticking his tongue out at her.

“Hey, who’s the empath here? I think I can judge what works for getting rid of bad energy.”

He rolled his eyes dramatically, “Whatever, I’m going to open the back door and I’ll get some lunch started, if you have anything worth eating back there and I can see through the haze to find it.”

“You are such a dork. I think there’s some leftover pizza in the fridge if you want to heat it up and you can get some tea started. There’s a bunch of kinds in the cabinet over the sink,” Allie shook her head slightly as Jason disappeared into the back area of the building where her small kitchenette and storage rooms where, heading towards the back door. She felt a moment of unease at the idea of the back door being opened and left open with no one watching it, but she shoved the feeling away. Nothing was going to happen and she wasn’t alone. She was safe. Shrugging she turned and kept smudging lost in thought.

In the last month, since their friend Syndra had been killed and then Allie had been kidnapped and almost killed herself, she and Jason had been spending a lot more time together. Sometimes Allie

wondered if Jason really liked being around her so much or if he was trying to protect her from the one person involved in hurting her who had gotten away, but mostly she tried not to think about it. He was the one uncomplicated thing in her life, the one person who didn’t seem to want anything from her, and she enjoyed being around him. He was also the only one she had been able to think of to help her out when she decided her store needed an energetic overhaul: her cousin Liz wouldn’t help with anything magical, her friend Bleidd was off visiting his elven relatives for the first time in more than a half century, and her boyfriend had been gone for several weeks, on an assignment in the adjoining Fairy realm.

She had tried to comfort herself a bit about Jessilaen being gone by reminding herself that it wouldn’t be any different if she had accepted his offer to go and live with him, but she knew in her heart that wasn’t true. If she were living with him at the elven Outpost or in Fairy she would have gotten updates from the other Elven Guard or his family. Elves lived in very tight knit communities of extended family units and if she had agreed to be part of that she wouldn’t be left totally on the outside with no one telling her anything about what was going on. Not even Jess’s brother Zarethyn had made any effort to keep in touch with Allie and she felt far too uncomfortable with the situation to call him herself.

Part of the problem was, she did know exactly where he was and what he was doing but she wasn’t supposed to. Jess had finished his assignment and was back at the Outpost now, but he hadn’t called her to tell her that yet. Allie assumed that meant he wasn’t free to see her, and since she shouldn’t know what was going on with him it put her in an awkward position. The only reason she did know was that when she had been kidnapped she had used a spell based in dark magic to try to save herself by creating a psychic bond between them using her innate empathy. In the immediate aftermath of the events Jess and the other elves in his unit of the Elven Guard had all felt that the spell’s effects would most likely fade over time – they hadn’t, nor had she managed to get any control over her empathic gift since opening herself up to it. Jess’s presence was a constant for Allie and she heard what he was hearing in the back of her mind like the perpetual murmur of background noise in her head. If she concentrated she could block it out to some degree, but if she wasn’t careful she projected herself fully into his mind and saw and experienced whatever he was doing in that moment. Sometimes all it took was thinking too much about missing him, or wondering what he was doing…and she didn’t dare let anyone know how little control she had over it. Or how much of his life she end up eavesdropping on, both because it felt like an invasion of privacy and because she worried that she might get him in trouble with the Guard if they knew that she knew so much. She felt like a giant magical disaster, but there wasn’t anyone she could go to for help. She shook her head slightly as she finished up the last section of the store. Jess knew, of course, that she was still in his head, but not how much she was there, and she had been making an effort to pull back as much as she could.

Sighing Allie limped over to the counter and dropped the last of the sage bundle into a waiting brass bowl to let it burn itself out.

 Buy to Book from Amazon now!

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Elizabeth Clansham

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.

Angus laughed.

‘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?’

‘Lauren!’

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.

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But Can You Drink The Water?

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.

Can you share a passage or scene that really sums up But Can You Drink The Water?

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.

Can you share a passage from this story?

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:

Jan’s website 

Jan’s Amazon author page 

 

But Can You Drink The Water? 

Mystery at Ocean Drive  

The Breadwinners (a family saga) 

Something to Read on the Plane 

Leon Chameleon PI and the case of the missing canary eggs 

Leon Chameleon PI and the case of the kidnapped mouse 

With the Headmaster’s Approval 

I Made These Up (short stories for the fireside) 

The Race (an inspiring story for left-handers) 

Bheki and the Magic Light


The Agent

Today I’m talking to Jonathan Mitchell and his horror novel The Agent, a perfect read for anyone trying to get into the Halloween spirit…
The Agent is a story about loner David Turner — what type of man is David Turner? Can you tell us about him?
 
Turner is a decent guy who finds himself getting lost in the shuffle. As he approaches middle age, Turner realizes how disconnected he is from the stream of human existence–and, when offered an out, he takes it. Unfortunately, this escape route is not as attractive as it first appears. 
 
Where is The Agent set?
 
The novel is set in Moorestown, a fictional city which is modeled on a crumbling industrial region of northwest Alabama known as Muscle Shoals. (Anyone who’s seen the Rolling Stones tour documentary “Gimme Shelter” has had a glimpse of it.) That’s the primary setting, but some of the action takes place in California. 
 
The Agent is a horror — how scary does this book get?
 
Pretty scary in the ghostly Henry Jamesian sense. There are a few scenes of graphic horror which were necessary to the story, but I didn’t dwell on them. “The Agent” is a psychological horror piece.
Can you give us an idea of the cult murders Turner discovers?
 
Turner’s recurring nightmares about dismembered bodies prod him to do a little research at the library. Newspaper records confirm that he’s been dreaming about real events: a series of mutilation murders which took place twenty-five years earlier in Southern California, the base of operations for a human potential cult. Without giving too much away, there is a direct link not only between the murders and the cult, but between the murders and Moorestown.
Are there any other characters in the book that are significant in the plot?
 
Yes, but here again I’d be spoiling the story if I described them in any detail 😉 I can say, however, that the entire sequence of events hinges on Turner; none of the action would be possible without him. 
 
Do you have a favourite scene or passage you can share with us?
I’m especially fond of a dream sequence in which Turner is confronted by the novel’s lead villain. It was a chance for me to indulge in some very bizarre, off-the-wall verbal imagery (not just for its own sake, but in a way that actually moved the story forward), and I think it turned out really well. Most of the dreams that appear in “The Agent” are my own; as I began to document them carefully, I realized what a crucial source of inspiration they were for the book.
What’s next for Jonathan Mitchell — is David Turner going to reappear again?
Anything’s possible! Right now, though, I’m working on an outline for an entirely different novel and trying to make my first short story sale.
You can download this story now from Amazon