I grew up on horror, soaking up Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft, Bram Stoker and later King, Rice, Straub, McCammon and Connolly. It’s shaped my writing to a degree, I love the suspense of a good old-fashioned ghost story – the mist drifting across the grave stones, the old marble vault that has been opened from the inside, the footsteps in the attic room as you lie awake at night. Gothic horror set the bar for the best of horrors, those writers knew how to make my hair stand up, how to set the atmosphere. And if my writing comes even slightly near their excellence then my work is done.
My first horror collection is Death Comes Calling and was published in time for Hallowe’en 2016. Always a fruitful time for me 🙂 Allow me to present an excerpt from my favourite story of the collection – Down in The Darkness –
“The stone walls seemed higher than she remembered, nearly to her waist and the sides were icy and gleaming in the weak moon light. She reached up and grabbed the crank handle, the rope began to lower the old bucket down. The well was used regularly by her father and the rope slid easily. She kept lowering until she heard the splash and then she started to turn the handle the opposite way. It was much slower this time with the bucket full. She had to work twice as hard to bring it up. Finally, the top of the wooden bucket appeared over the level of the wall and she tipped its contents into her own pail. She filled it to three-quarters full, anything more would be too heavy, better to bring back a bucket with a little less than to fill it too much and spill it all. She was determined not to make the journey again.
So far so good. She placed the bucket of water on the grass and stood up to fix the shawl that had become loose allowing the freezing air to blow up under the tail of her woollen jumper. Bending down she grabbed for the handle of the bucket when a sound floated up from the well, a sound like the cry of a baby.”
Below is a passage from Darkling, a short story from The Lights Went Out And Other Stories, also in My Novels.
“Unable to take her eyes off the stranger, Emmeline moved from tree to tree until he seemed close enough to touch until finally as if in a dream, she stepped out from behind the cover of the trees to face him, a bird released from a trap with no choice but to fly towards danger.
The walker between the trees turned on his heel sensing her, he moved towards the slight figure of the girl in the grey cloak whose wide eyes shone at his approach. The stitching on his waistcoat glinted in the moon’s light as he neared. Her eyes were drawn to a face of contradictions; ancient yet youthful.
His skin was white as the light that the moon poured down.
White as bone bleached in the sun.
Pale as the ice in the village pond in midwinter.
Pale and cold as death.”
Both stories are set in the past when candlelight cast the best shadows and people fastened their doors against superstition on a dark winter’s night.
My latest collection of Horror – The Nightmare has a slightly more contemporary feel to it, however, there are two tales in particular that are reminiscent of old-style ghost stories – Ventry and Always. It gives me great pleasure to show you an excerpt from my personal favourite – Dragon.
‘Dragon. She’s gone to see the dragon. I shivered despite the warm sweater. I walked across the path across the stepping stones, taking my time in my heels and calling her name all the time while expecting an answer from the play house at the bottom of the garden. It resembled a large gingerbread house and it suddenly reminded me of the one in the story that used to scare me as a child. Why hadn’t I noticed it before? The creepy fairy tale gingerbread house with the witch inside. Except it wasn’t a witch, was it? It was a dragon. Shut up, I told myself. My daughter was most probably asleep on a mound of cushions on the second floor, oblivious to the worry she was putting me through. It wouldn’t be the first time.’