Friday 29 April 2011

Something for the Weekend! Gothic eBook Giveaway with author Carole Gill.

Welcome to my second, 'Something for the Weekend'! This week I have fellow Vamplit and horror author, Carole Gill here to talk a little about herself and her work. She is also giving away THREE copies of her Gothic novel, The House on Blackstone Moor.

M.F.    Hi Carole, thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing a little about yourself and your work. Let’s start with the most important thing: your books. Give us a brief description of the novel you want to talk about today.

C.G.   I write horror and sci fi and am widely published in horror and sci fi anthologies. My first love is horror though, reading it and writing it. My first novel, The House on Blackstone Moor, is a very dark novel indeed. It's been called intense and has been compared to Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The reviews are so terrific. I remember how the idea for it came about. I happened to read the gothic romance novel was dead. I didn't like that one bit. I started to think about it. I think actually if Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre or Rebecca were written today, for today's reader, they'd be far darker. I also think they'd have storylines that would have ensured that they never would have been published.

The world has changed a lot and fiction must change with it, at least this sort of fiction. I have had men telling me they enjoyed the book, adding how they wouldn't have ever thought they'd enjoy a book like that.

The novel's themes are vampirism, madness, obsession and devil worship. Both human and supernatural evil are closely examined. I always thought human evil could easily give supernatural evil a run for its money.

Rose Baines comes home to find her mad, incestuous father has killed himself and her family. She survives a madhouse to become governess at a remote home. The house and the family that dwell within are not what they seem. There is unimaginable horror and suffering but there is love too, not merely the promise of it. Sadly, it comes at a great price.

The idea for the story came to me in this way: i envisioned a grand looking house on barren moorland. Then I began to picture the people who dwelt in that house. In truth, the characters wrote the story for me! I am a seat of the pantser (I don't write with an outline) I've tried and can't do it!

I re-read all of my favourite novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel (to name a few) and the narrative came to me quickly. I think I became Rose Baines as in I AM Heathcliffe!

M.F.   So what are you working on at the moment? Have you got any new projects in the pipeline?

C.G.  The sequel, Unholy Testament will not disappoint the fans of the book! There is plenty of darkness and romance too, but the much hated and adored (he's so campy and outrageous), Eco the demon spawn is featured in the sequel. The story involves a journal covering many epochs as well as an odd bunch of passengers travelling on a transatlantic steamer. There are a lot of surprises and shocking horror along the way!

M.F.  When did you first start writing?

C.G.  I wrote my very first story at age 8. It was science fiction--something about Martians coming to earth to take the children back. My parents were both sci fi fanatics and I suppose it was natural for me to write this! I followed it with a second sci fi story and then some years went by and by the age of 11, I was completely besotted with Poe. My father used to call me Edgarina Allan Poe.

My writing by that time was starting to worry my parents as everything was so heavy and bleak. They asked my teacher if she thought I was 'okay.' She told them she did and she said in her opinion it had to come out. She told them to just let me write and things would get less scary!

That was true but up to a point because I do write pretty dark stuff.

M.F. I take it things didn't get less scary then? Your childhood sounds a lot like mine -- I was forever writing scary stuff. So what type of writing style do you adopt? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

C.G.  I didn't realize I was a pantser until finally after countless attempts at plotting failed, I admitted the truth to myself. We are what we are. I wish I could plot it out, but I can't. But I'll tell you something, I love the excitement of not knowing where exactly it's going or how it's going to get there! I love that actually! I mean these passengers on the ship in the sequel, they are so different, they just interact and I get my story!

M.F. Who is your greatest influence?

C.G.  The Brontes are without a doubt as well as Daphne DuMaurier. Their novels are unforgettable. They wrote strong stories with hugely interesting characters. The narrative in those books is like a great dark, sea that sweeps the reader along. We stay afloat, but it is a perilous voyage, which adds to our excitement.

There is darkness in their novels, horrid secrets yet love too. What else does a book need?!

M.F.   Stephen King says when he writes, it is for his wife Tabitha. When you write, is there anyone you are writing for?

C.G.   I write for those readers who wish to read strong stories with larger than life characters. I want to appeal to those lovers of gothic romance but at the same time to entice new readers into the genre!

M.F.  What is the last book you read?

C.G.   Great Lion of God by Taylor Caldwell. It is a novel about Saul of Tarsus who would go on to become St. Paul. It is a brilliant book.

M.F.  Wow, sounds good. I love recommendations. Now for some more abstract questions: If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

C.G.   Jane Eyre. I think I always felt like her anyway! I could feel all that she felt. I certainly can picture her world. I have the greatest sense of her too. I always did for some reason.

M.F.   If aliens landed in front of you and offered you anything you wanted, what would it be?

C.G.   Hmm. This is almost biblical! The devil and Christ? But it's aliens! I better be careful here? No! Heck, I'll just be honest. I would love for my books to be read by lots of readers, I want to bring scores of readers into the gothic romance fold! That's what I'd want.

M.F.  Tell us something quirky/interesting that people probably don’t know about you.

C.G.  I went to acting school many years ago. Actually I use the skills I learned there. I method write! We were taught 'The Method,' which is to become the part. You are told to pull something out of yourself, your past and use that to feel or become this other person. I do that with my writing.

I WAS Rose Baines! I saw my family all dead in front of me, with their throats slashed! It was easy then knowing what would happen next. The story just evolved.

I don't start writing until I have a thorough sense of my characters. As soon as I do, I begin!

So acting school is something few know about! And Al Pacino went there, but I went much later, darn!

M.F.   You went to the same acting school as al Pacino. Now that is impressive! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. The House on Blackstone Moor sounds like a great read and I know it's been getting brilliant reviews.

So, would you like to read Carole Gill's novel? She has kindly offered up three eBook copies of her book, so just leave her a comment below, together with  you blog/web address or email addy so we can contact you if you win! I'll announce the winners on Monday. Good luck everyone, and have a great weekend.

In 2000 Carole was selected by North West Playwrights of England for further development. It was an invaluable experience but Carole found she prefers to write fiction.
She loves to scare herself and others with her horror fiction and is widely published in horror anthologies.
Her gothic horror novel, THE HOUSE ON BLACKSTONE MOOR, is on sale at Smashwords.

The paperback version will be out in May. Pre-orders are being taken at eBookundead.  The sequel, Unholy Testament will be published by Vamplit later this year.

She would love for you to stop by her Website, Blog, or Facebook Page. You can also follow her on Twitter!

Monday 25 April 2011

And The Winner Is...

The first winner of my new feature, Something for the Weekend, and so the winner of Peter Labrow's novel, The Well is... Vaughan! Many thanks to everyone who has taken part and, of course, Mr Labrow for so generously offering one of his novels as a prize.

Congrats Vaughan! Make sure you email me at and I will be able to pass all your details on to the author.

This Friday I have horror author, Carole Gill taking the stand and she is going to be doing a giveaway of her Gothic novel, The House on Blackstone Moor, so make sure you come back to say 'hi'. We always love hearing from you all.

Friday 22 April 2011

Something for the Weekend! Win a personalised signed copy of Peter Labrow's, The Well!

From now on, every Friday I am going to be running, 'Something for the Weekend' right here on my blog! What's it going to involve? Author interviews, guest posts, and lots and lots of giveaways! The competitions will be open all weekend, so get entering!

So my first author interview please welcome fellow horror writer and Brit, Peter Labrow, author of the psychological horror novel, The Well.

M.F.    Let’s start with the most important thing: your books. Give us a brief description of the novel you want to talk about today.

P.L.    The Well is my first novel. On the face of it, it’s a simple ‘bottle’ story: two teens fall into an ancient well. One is badly hurt. There’s no way they can climb out. They have very little food or drink. Worse, their parents are away for the weekend, so the fact that they’re missing won’t be known for two or three days. But the story soon expands beyond that.

Every missing person leaves some kind of gap – in the case of Becca, the girl in the well, there are two key people: a predatory man who has been stalking her and her estranged best friend, Hannah. As Becca goes missing, the man turns his attentions to Hannah, who in turn is increasingly worried about her friend. But there’s worse to come – two women know exactly where Becca and her step-brother are and are desperate that they should remain trapped, else a curse hundreds of years old will be fulfilled.

I really want to say more, but part of the horror of The Well is the surprises that it throws at you – characters, situations, challenges and terrible choices. It’s very fast-paced, the most common comment I’ve had from readers is that once they start, they can’t put it down. That’s so satisfying for me – it’s what I was aiming for. Not ‘worthy’ fiction, but a darned good yarn. Several people have told me that they’ve stayed up to the early hours to read it, one girl had nightmares and a few confessed to breaking down in tears. That’s me, bringing misery to the world, one paragraph at a time.

M.F.  So what are you working on at the moment? Have you got any new projects in the pipeline?

P.L.   I’m currently writing my second novel, which is as yet untitled. Well, it did have a title, but I’ve started to dislike it so I’m considering other names. It’s set in the same location as The Well but with different characters, although there are some crossovers, name checks and nods.

On top of that, I’m plotting the next four or five books. My novels and stories are going to be interrelated – they’re not a series as such, but there will be connecting threads and some overreaching story arcs. The connection between the first two is loose, but I’m going to pull things together as I move forward: I’m not plotting the rest out in detail but I am working out what the connections will be. I’ve had a lot of positive response to the characters in The Well and I’m going to develop some of those already created and add to the community. Sometimes in very surprising ways: just because someone’s a protagonist in one book doesn’t mean they’ll remain safely in that pigeonhole. Anyone who’s read The Well will know that my characters are often conflicted, flawed people. Someone said to me on Twitter yesterday that he was around halfway through the book and he didn’t know which characters to trust. Let’s keep it that way.

I’m also working on a collection of short stories, which is likely to be published first. The latter I’m doing as a writing exercise, really – I grew up as a fan of short stories, in the days when new writers cut their teeth in fiction magazines. They also allow me to explore some of the characters from The Well and upcoming novels in different situations. One of the stories is a ‘challenge accepted’ from a follower on Twitter, it sounds like a daft idea for a story but I’m going to make it work – and make it horrific. I’m not sure I’m on board with the trend of selling one story for 70 cents – it’s cheap but it’s not good value for the reader. My current notion is that the collection will be around a fifth or a quarter of the size of a novel and be priced accordingly, still cheap but better value.

M.F. That sounds like an excellent idea, Peter, something I may have done myself *winks*. When did you first start writing?

P.L   I’ve written all my life – though non-fiction. In my day job, I develop websites and write copy for them. I’ve written marketing copy for twenty-five years and also written for magazines. I’ve always wanted to write fiction, though, ever since I was a child. I started to write my first novel in my forties, but didn’t stick at it – mainly because my marketing/website design business was so busy and demanding. When I hit 49, I decided I really had to get on with it. I wrote The Well during that year and published it two months before I was 50.

M.F.   What type of writing style do you adopt? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

P.L.   A bit of both. I plot meticulously but I leave myself a lot of wriggle-room too. Tightly plotted stories can be predictable – so I tack into the wind every so often. I remember the writer of The Wire, David Simon, saying that he would throw thunderbolts from the gods at his characters, just as they did in Greek tragedies. I do the same – because that’s what life is like. It’s what creates those ‘oh my God did that just really happen?’ moments and keeps readers guessing. So, although I plot in detail, I often leave situations unresolved until I’m writing them – although I may have plotted several routes from the situation I don’t always know which one I’m going to take until I have to.

My stories are very character driven, I think a lot about the characters and especially how they interact with other characters. In life, you may have one friend who another doesn’t get along with – you don’t see that as much in fiction. Also, my characters are like real people: they’re flawed, conflicted and sometimes don’t get to choose between good and bad, but between bad and terrible. Good people making bad choices because they’re the only ones available, for example.

Despite plotting in detail, I have no issue with a radical change if a good one occurs to me. The difference between the first and final drafts of The Well, and my pre-writing notes, is astonishing. One thing you often find in books is that once ‘the world of the book’ takes over, reality steps aside. People don’t need a coffee or to go to the toilet. In my writing, the real world is always there – I think it makes the supernatural more horrific, actually.

M.F   Who is your greatest influence?

P.L.   I assume you mean as a writer? I’d probably say Stephen King, though I know it’s become unfashionable to like him. I like King because reading one of his books is like watching a movie: the language becomes transparent. That’s how I want to write. Indeed, many of my revisions were to make the writing less showy. Having said that, I love authors whose prose is a joy to read again and again, people like John Irving or John Steinbeck. I adore Poe. I don’t just read horror and I’m not especially worried about genres either. I’ll read chick lit if the book’s good. Yes, I’d say King as a writer, though I’d say Alan Moore is overlooked or underrated, simply because he writes graphic novels: but Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell are superb. The films are great, but the graphic novels are outstanding and so much richer.

M.F. Well, I guess I’m equally unfashionable! Which brings me strangely enough to my next question. Stephen King says when he writes, it is for his wife Tabitha. When you write, is there anyone you are writing for?

P.L.   Now that is a good question. I don’t write for my wife, Ruth, or my sons Dave and Mike – though they are all very supportive. I don’t think they’re ‘my readership’. Now, having said that, my second novel my wife refers to as ‘her book’ because she likes the story and characters so much. I don’t think I write for a specific person, but for the reader I want to reach, the person who likes the things I like – horror, but in situations that are grounded and real, with characters that have depth. I’m writing for the reader. I want to take people on a ride: they get on the rollercoaster and don’t know what happens next.

M.F.   Great answer! What is the last book you read?

P.L.    I’ve recently finished Dating my Vibrator by Suzanne Tyrpak, because I wanted to read something light and short. It was fun and honest. The last novel I read was The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham. I really like Wyndham – The Chrysalids is one of my favourite books ever – but I’d never finished Kraken. I think it’s a bit slow in the early stages. I stuck with it this time and really liked it. I’m currently reading Dead Spell by Belinda Frisch and Somme Mud by EPF Lynch. I frequently read more than one book at once.

M.F.   Now for some more abstract questions: If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

P.L.   The Doctor, from Doctor Who. Anywhere, any time – what a great format for a series, no wonder it’s been running for so long. I’d possibly like to be less asexual though. I’d like a time machine. Can I have one?

M.F.   If I figure out how to build one, I’ll be sure to let you know! If aliens landed in front of you and offered you anything you wanted, what would it be?

P.L.   Please put away the probe. A ride in their spaceship – my wife was fairly disturbed when I said that if I were Richard Dreyfuss at the end of Close Encounters I would get on the ship, family or not. I would love to go into space. There’s a great book called simply Moon which has massive pictures from the Apollo missions – the moon is, as Buzz Aldrin said, “Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation.” I’d like to hitch a ride there.

M.F.  Tell us something quirky or interesting that people probably don’t know about you.

P.L.   I used to help run a rock music venue in Bury, back in the late 70s and early 80s. I did lights for Joy Division. Anyone who’s seen the film Control (which I really do recommend) will remember the fight scene just a couple of weeks prior to Ian Curtis committing suicide. That was at The Derby Hall, the venue I used to run, and I was doing lights that night. When it all kicked off, I hid under the table. To be honest, at the time I thought Joy Division were rubbish but my taste is often slow to catch up – I really like them now, I think they were on the brink of genius. I met my real music hero, Peter Gabriel – he had a competition for a private gig at his recoding studies and I won. It was a great gig and wonderful to meet him. I love curry. I hate sprouts and custard.

M.F.   Yeah, sprouts and custard wouldn’t work so well for me either! Thanks so much for stopping by, Peter, and for sharing a bit about yourself.

Now giveaway time! Peter has most generously offered to giveaway a personalised, signed copy of his novel, The Well (something to keep for when he is rich and famous!). So just leave him a comment below and you will be entered into the draw on Monday. The competition will be open all weekend and I will put the winners name up here Monday morning! Remember to leave you email addy or blog address so we can contact you if you win.

Good luck!

Peter Labrow is a writer of psychological horror, based in Cheshire in the UK. His goal is to write 'dark, gripping stories' that people find hard to put down. Populated by flawed characters with ambiguous motives, his writing deftly mixes the supernatural with frighteningly normal terrors. Having written marketing copy for over twenty years, Peter published his first novel, The Well, in 2010 - fulfilling a lifelong ambition to author fiction.

The Well is available in both paperback and ebook format from Amazon, Amazon.UK, Amazon.Germany, Lulu and iBookstore. If you would like to know more about Peter, he would love it if you stopped by his blog or followed him on twitter!

Thursday 21 April 2011

A Balancing Act...

*WARNING* The following is basically me having a bitch!

I know I'm not the only writer out there who is trying to juggle a young family with career aspirations, but boy, sometimes it is hard. With the Easter holidays comes no pre-school and so I currently have my four- and one-year old at home with me all day. We also now live out in a village and do not have a car, so daytime activities are pretty much limited to going for a walk.

The problem is that I still need to work. There are deadlines that need to be met and I have to bring in a certain amount of money each month to keep the day job from the door.

Yes, of course I would much rather be at home writing than out doing some job I hate, but it would be nice if some provisions were made to be able to do the work that needs to be done. Currently, I'm up at six a.m., entertain kids until six that evening, get housework done/cook meals/wipe bums, finally get kids down for eight-ish, manage to do a couple of hours of editing, and then I go back to bed.

All I can say is, thank God for cakes/crisps and Nick Jnr! (Bad Mommy!).

Anyone else out there struggling with kids over the holidays? And please, no earth mother/home schoolers may respond (only kidding, I seriously don't know how you guys do it!).

Tuesday 19 April 2011

My Quandry: English vs American English?

This is a problem that has been stumping me for sometime: whether I should be writing in English (as, being a Brit, I've learnt) or should I write in American English?

I know most people are going to say write in English, but here's my problem:

1.) Most of my readers are American. I know this because my sales are the highest on Barnes & Noble, a site only inhabitants of the US can purchase from.

2.) Many of my novels are set in the US, therefore my characters should technically be speaking in American.

Okay, the novels which are based in the UK is a no-brainer for me. They will be written in English. But should I write the US novels with American grammar?

This problem has been bugging me for quite some time. One reader even asked me if my main character in Alone had been born in England as her thoughts were very 'English'. Now, that one is a struggle. As much as I try to hear my character's voices with an American accent, not being American myself, there are bound to be things I don't quite get.

My editor now is American, so she goes a long way to picking up my mistakes: all of the 'towards', instead of 'toward'; 'earnt' instead of 'earned'; 'garbage' instead of 'rubbish'; 'sidewalk' instead of 'pavement'; and don't even get me started on the whole usage of 'pants' and 'fanny'! When someone is taking off their pants in the UK, or patting someone on the fanny, its a whole other thing!

So what are your thoughts, guys? Stick with English grammar, but American words when I'm writing novels set in American? Or should I go the whole way and turn everything to American?

Monday 18 April 2011

The Liebster Awards!

I'm sharing some blogging love this morning, after having had it dished out to me this weekend by two of my fellow Masters of Horror and (soon to be, in the case of Blaze) Vamplit authors, Carole Gill and Blaze McRob. The Liebster award is given to those who have contributed to blogging and have less than 300 followers, and I'm very proud that not only one person thought to give it to me, but two!

Carole Gill in a fellow Vamplit author and her novel, The House on Blackstone Moor has recieved some amazing reviews. It's a classic Gothic tale of vampires, madness and love. I have yet to read it, but as soon as the paperback is available, I will be first in line to buy my copy! She also works tirelessly to support other authors and keeps us all thoroughly entertained on our MOH facebook page. So thank you, Carole.

Go check out her blog, Bloody Good Vampires!

I've only recently had the pleasure of meeting Blaze through our Masters of Horror connection, but I've quickly come to learn what a kind and generous person he is. He shares his time and offers so much support and praise to fellow authors on his blog Blaze McRob's Tales of Horror. Out of all the people he could have chosen, I'm honoured that he included me.

Aren't horror writers lovely people! Have a great week everyone...

Friday 15 April 2011

More Stories for Your Buck!

 A few months ago I released a few of my short stories as the ebook, Where the Dead Live. Despite my New Year's resolution not to write any new stuff (and focus on getting out the manuscripts currently languishing in my laptop), a few short stories bugged me enough that they had to be written.

It seemed such a shame not to have them included in my little collection, so I've now relaunched Where The Dead Live, together with a kick-ass new cover (many thanks to author C.J. Ellisson for her fantastic font work!). The price is still the same (only $0.99) and is available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

So, you now get six stories for only 99 cents AND on top of that, I have included the first three chapters of my new novel, The Followers, which is set for a June 1st release!

Happy reading!