Happy publication day to:
Dan Weatherer - The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl (Short Sharp Shocks! 34)
Joanna Koch - The Couvade (Short Sharp Shocks! 35)
Dave Jeffery - The Camp Creeper & Other Stories (Short Sharp Shocks! 36)
Ian Woodhead - Flayed Sins (Short Sharp Shocks! 37)
Theresa Derwin - Hearts & Bones (Short Sharp Shocks! 38)
Morgan K. Tanner - The Unbeliever & The Intruder (Short Sharp Shocks! 39)
Well done to all!
(all books available on Amazon (please do a search for Short Sharp Shocks! and all 39 titles - thus far- will be displayed)
[also thanks to Adrian for the covers!]
Dean and Raven have worked together many times these past few years. When DEMAIN was being launched, Raven mentioned she was looking for a home for her new novella Dean was very happy that she chose DEMAIN. Her book House Of Wrax is currently out for pre-sales and is being published mid-November...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Great to speak to you again Raven! Let’s start with an easy one: who are you and why did you become a writer?
RAVEN DANE: Hello to you too. As a child, I had a vivid imagination and created characters and their story lines. I was nine when I watched an amazing sunset from my bedroom window. It looked like jagged, black mountains surrounding a silver lake. Decades later, it was the inspiration for Isolann, a country central to my first published novel, Blood Tears. I was also a voracious and precocious reader from 3 years old, mainly Science Fiction to start with, then anything and everything. In my working career, I was a newspaper and magazine journalist but also became a library assistant. It was then that exposure to other genres was so invaluable to my future self as a writer.
DP: I don’t think I knew you were a journalist – I love these interviews, I learn so much. So, House Of Wrax – what is it about?
RD: It is set in a toxic, post disaster-struck Earth, where only the most tenacious lifeforms have evolved to survive. Remnants of humanity shelter in massive fortresses from the monsters of the wasteland. A single act of anger triggers peril for all the survivors. Revenge is a dish of human flesh.
DP: I love it...and your protagonist?
DP: Ha ha – fair enough. Okay, so in writing Wrax did you have to do much research?
RD: I always research extensively no matter how fantastical the setting. There must always be plausibility otherwise you are short changing and most likely losing the interest of the reader. The research is not to info dump but create a world that makes sense, has its own reality and logic and engages the senses of the reader. What does that feel, taste, sound, smell look like.
DP: Some great advice there to writers starting out! Would you say you found any of the scenes hard to write?
RD: Not any scenes in House of Wrax, thank goodness. It was one of those priceless stories that magically write themselves. It began as a short story called Carapace that featured in an anthology edited by Dean. Many readers wanted to know more about that world and House of Wrax came to me in a surge of creativity. I wish I had that surge again on a work in progress novel now. That one is fighting back at me.
DP: I know how that feels – I’m currently writing a script which should have been ‘easy’ but its proving to be anything but right now...creatively Raven what would you say has been your biggest success?
RD: That is a tough one. It has to be my debut novel, Blood Tears. It took me many years to write, firstly as I was in full time work with long, exhausting hours and later being a parent to my son. It was enormous too, an epic chunk of dark fantasy novel. It was also a cross genre story with aspects of science fiction, alternative history and horror. One agent who loved the book, said it would be impossible to sell as it didn’t fit into any one category on a book shop shelf. When I found a publisher for it , there were no e-books or much social media though there was some special interest on line forums. The publicity department at the time did a great job at getting me interviews and reviews in magazines. Good word of mouth on vampire forums was also incredibly helpful. Blood Tears launched me as a writer. It was still selling well until the novel has only been available on e-books and with over 2000 [extreme rude words] pirate sites stealing it.
DP: Yes – those [rude words also] pirates! What books do you read and have they influenced you as a writer?
RD: As a writer in the past, I was always terrified of any influence creeping into my work and I have kept a genre quarantine as a means to prevent that. I avoided all vampire stories, for example, while writing my Legacy of the Dark Kind series. I made an exception though for Sam Stone’s Vampire Gene series, as the books are so very different and too enjoyable not to read. I have far more confidence in my writing now and the quarantine has been eased. As for books I read now…well Stephen King, Joe Hill and Adam Nevill will always be on my must-read list. I am working my way through James S A Corey’s epic The Expanse SF series. The TV series has blown me away with its brilliance. I also love the SF of Jilly Paddock and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I am also a big fan of Phil Rickman and Karen Maitland. I am always on the lookout for new authors.
DP: I guess then you’re looking forward to Adam’s new novel, The Reddening?
RD: Very much. Adam’s books are wonderfully written and absolutely terrifying. That old cliché ‘sleeping with the lights on’ was actually true for me when reading his novel, Last Days!
DP: He’s a great guy too. Very friendly and approachable. Is there anything that Raven Dane is afraid of and has it ever made its way into your work?
RD: Nothing supernatural, I have experienced the presence of earthbound spirits from an early age and they cannot harm the living. They need only pity and help to move on. The first thing that truly frightened me as a young teenager, was a documentary about the Charles Manson murders. The awareness of the sheer evil of living humans, ones without motive but capable of such random, cold barbarity, led to many sleepless nights. In horror films and stories, child ghosts have always unsettled me. When I wrote my very first horror short story, long before my career took off, I asked myself what would scare me in a film. So I wrote the Attic Nursery.
DP: Bit of fun this one: Marvel or DC?
RD: I am a total Marvel fangirl! But sorry, Avengers…my favourite character is Loki. It is a fandom that has given my son and I so much enjoyment over the years with the Marvel Universe films and TV series. When he was little, I helped him build up his super hero action figure collection. So many happy hours scouring car boot sales for any figure that wasn’t Batman and Superman…he had enough of those already. We did enjoy DC’s Suicide Squad but that was a one off.
DP: I saw Suicide Squad in French which improved it slightly I think...shame because it could have been something super-great...anyway, that’s just a personal opinion. Last one then: please tell us something surprising / unknown about you.
RD: Not that I am a pagan witch. Common knowledge! Horses have always been important to me. I am a professional horse trainer and riding instructor and used to teach stunt people to fall off and actors to stay on horses. I also took part in medieval jousting tournaments on horseback. Wonderful days that can only be memories now. All that crashing and bashing about on fiery steeds has caught up with my body in a big way now. Ouch!
Ouch indeed! Thank you so much for your time Raven, extremely appreciated. Best of luck too with House Of Wrax.
If you would like to connect directly with Raven:
Author Alyson Faye is already part of the DEMAIN family because of her Short Sharp Shocks! Night Of The Rider. Maggie Of My Heart is book two in the Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! Series (yes we love our exclamation marks here at DEMAIN). The novella is currently available for pre-sales and is published on the 7th November. Recently Dean and Aly sat down to talk about it...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello again Aly. Been a little while since we last spoke to you. Congrats with all the great reviews Night Of The Rider has been picking up. Well deserved. Your new book, Maggie Of My Heart is Book 2 of our new series, is soon to be published but for those that don’t know you: who are you and why did you become a writer?
ALYSON FAYE: Hello! And thanks. I love stories, was a bookworm as a kid, and English was my best subject. As a teacher, years ago, working with children, I began writing stories to tell to them and then got published. I have branched out into writing crime, horror and thrillers now, but it’s all about love of words and escaping into new worlds.
DP: I want to say it’s strange (but perhaps strange isn’t the right word) but I know a lot of horror authors who are now writing crime and I’m one of them as recently I wrote a spec tv pilot script which though extremely dark is actually a crime / thriller...anyway, anyway, Maggie what’s it about?
AF: It’s set in post-war Britain, in Soho and Birmingham, in the underbelly world of nightclubs and bedsits. Maggie, an escort girl, in a dangerous relationship with her lover, a spiv, Johnny. Their blackmail scams lead to murder and Maggie escapes into marriage with an older, wealthy man until a chance meeting tosses her back into dangerous terrain.
DP: And Maggie herself (I got the feeling you really liked this character by the way)?
AF: Maggie, is a gorgeous girl, a ringer for the 1940’s film noir femme fatale, Joan Bennett, who is escaping an abusive family background, and fleeing to London, falls for Johnny, a spiv, a blackmailer and a fast-talking con man. He too has secrets in his past; one of which proves his undoing.
DP: I guess, as the story is period, that you had to do a lot of research before (or even while) writing it?
AF: I did some research into life in Britain around 1947, the rationing, the clothes, the films and the music. I am a lifelong Golden Hollywood film fan, so I drew on my knowledge of the film noirs of the 1940s and the actresses who starred in them e.g. Lauren Bacall, Lizabeth Scott and Joan Bennett, who inspired my protagonist, Maggie.
DP: With that in mind did you find any of the scenes hard to write?
AF: Yes, the sex scenes and the scenes with violence in them. I didn’t want to overdo it but I wanted them to read as convincingly as possible.
DP: They were convincing, don’t worry...creatively to date, Alyson, what would you say is your biggest success?
AF: Probably my breakthrough children’s novel, 1997, Soldiers in the Mist; and this novella, for its gestation, and length. The 1940s are one of my favourite periods to write about and I came to care a lot for my heroine, Maggie.
DP: What books / authors do you read and have they influenced you?
AF: I read all the time, film biographies and fiction mainly. Writers are the sum of what they read I think. Books I’ve really enjoyed lately: Sophie Draper’s début thriller, Cuckoo; Anita Frank’s début ghost tale, The Lost Ones; Tracy Chevalier’s 1920’s set A Single Thread; Laura Purcell’s Gothic Bone China.
DP: Some great titles. In terms of films anything you’re looking forward to seeing?
AF: I love the cinema, and go as often as I can. So the next one I’m going to is my favourite I guess.
DP: Nice answer. What is Alyson Faye frightened of and has it ever made its way into your work?
AF: Snakes, spiders, dolls, graveyards at night, dark woods -the list is long. Yes, I revisit my fears in most of my writing. It’s one way to exorcise those demons!
DP: Oh, it is, it is. Creatively is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet? If so – what is it?
AF: I would like to keep writing, getting published, put together a collection of my own short stories, work with other writers in partnership, maybe write a Gothic horror novel one day.
DP: Ah, we’d love to read that for sure. So, last question: What is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
AF: My first crush was Cary Grant, I love peanut butter and dairylea on toast, I have been micro lighting, I used to do four by four driving regularly, I did caving once! (never again), I did Latin for ‘A’ Level – that’s usually a conversation stopper. Is that enough things??
Thank you Aly for your time and best of luck with Maggie Of My Heart.
If you would like to connect directly with Aly:
Facebook as Aly Rhodes
Author Interview: Morgan K. Tanner's The Unbeliever & The Intruder - Book 39 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series
Book 39 in the Short Sharp Shocks! is Morgan K. Tanner’s The Unbeliever & The Intruder. Morgan is a man of many talents. With the book being published on the 31st October (and now available for pre-sales) Dean sat down with him to discuss it.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Morgan. Who are you and why did you become a writer?
MORGAN K. TANNER: I'd love to say how writing has always been in my blood and I was destined to tell stories from an early age. But up until around 10 years ago I'd never written much, I wasn't even a massive reader, truth be told. But after devouring the complete works of HP Lovecraft, something tentacled and abhorrent arose inside me. Those stories were just so inspiring I felt a kind of calling to start writing. My early attempts at short stories were shameless Lovecraft rip-offs and not all that great. But I'd caught the bug, and the need to write was instilled in my psyche. I haven't looked back since. My stories since then aren't all that Lovecraftian really, but there's still that creeping dread and threat of insanity that worms its way into my mind when I'm writing.
DP: Yes and I think that’s definitely true of both your stories...can you tell us about them in particular?
MKT: The Unbeliever is the tale of a man who finds out a certain magical theme park holds a dark secret. The Intruder is about a new father whose lack of sleep brings torture to the table.
DP: And your protagonists?
MKT: Mike [in The Unbeliever] is a little bit of me. I've been lucky enough to visit Disneyworld three times in the last 8 years and although I had a great time there with the family, the sense of 'magic' and the other patrons revering it as some kind of almost holy place, did grate on me a little. It's pretty strange how these people act in there, with their matching family t-shirts and all. I wasn't full-on grumpy like Mike, of course. But the idea that this 'world' could harbour a dark side was something that always fascinated me. Mike finds out the hard way, though. I just hope this doesn't actually go on in reality. I just took the idea and played with it, adding a good amount of gore, obviously!
DP: And in The Intruder?
MKT: Toby is just a guy with a new baby who isn't getting enough sleep. So much so that his reality becomes a little blurred. He's only trying to do the best for his little girl, but something awakens in him that needs satisfying. I didn't base this character on me, though. Although the initial idea did come after sleepless nights with my own newborn. But all the sick stuff and gore came afterwards; I'm not that messed up. I don't think.
DP: I hope not! In writing the stories did you have to do much research?
MKT: The research for The Unbeliever was done without my conscious knowledge; ie. visiting the parks as semi-grumpy tourist. I did have a little read up to see whether the idea had been done before, I couldn't find another example, though. I also needed to remind myself what the characters looked like and which ones were there. Luckily I didn't force myself to watch hours of Disney films. The Intruder needed no research; it was all very fresh in my mind. Especially the torture scenes!
DP: So you found some of the scenes difficult to write?
MKT: I found the ending of The Intruder a bit of a struggle, as I hadn't got a clear vision of where the story was going when I started. But if you mean difficult to write because of the subject matter, then no. I never struggle to write horrific stuff. It's my favourite thing about writing, I want to make the reader squirm.
DP: And I would say you have been very successful in that! Creatively what would you say is your biggest success (to date)?
MKT: My debut novella, An Army of Skin. OK, it hasn't set me on a path to super stardom and isn't threatening to break Amazon with its sales numbers, but after grafting at it for around 18 months, to have a story I wrote available to the world gives me such a great feeling. The reviews have been very kind (so far) so I feel like I've been successful. Who needs sales anyway?
DP: Ah, the sales v reviews v reviews v sales debate! No room to get into that here but I know what you mean...so who influenced you as a writer?
MKT: The aforementioned Lovecraft, of course, and what horror writer couldn't mention Stephen King? I've read some amazing indie horror writers such as John F. Leonard, Steve Stred, M.R. Tapia, A.A. Medina, David Sodergren, and Calvin Demmer, to name just a handful. Away from horror I'm a massive fan of Chuck Palahniuk. I think influences are projected subconsciously, so I don't actively think about what's influencing me at the time of writing. But looking back at my work I can clearly see who I've been copying!
DP: I am a massive fan of Clive Barker and I still love when I’m compared to him – I think my writing has moved in a different direction since I first started – particularly the screenplays which are in the main right now historical / period drama – but saying that I’ve been thinking of a new short story for a book and it is very Barker-esque (which I’m happy to admit!). So – what does ‘horror’ mean to you?
MKT: I could go on and on about this one, but I'll keep it short. Horror is everywhere and takes many forms. One person's horrific is another's happy place. That in itself is frightening enough. But in fiction, be it books or films, I think horror is something that unnerves the reader / viewer. It doesn't have to be pant-soiling scary, but anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and creeped out equals well done horror to me.
DP: Great answer! And what are you afraid of then?
MKT: I have quite a strange phobia, one that I don't even think has a name. You know those creepy pictures of animal heads on human bodies? I don't know what it is, but they send the chills down me every time. I haven't explored that in any of my own stories, and that's because I'm scared, I promise.
DP: Oh my lord, I know what you mean! Okay, two quick ‘fun’ questions. Marvel or DC?
MKT: Erm, neither? I really can't get into superhero films, they just seem a little cliché to me. Good guys saving the world are just too upbeat! Give me full-on horror and gore with depressing endings any day. But I've seen that most people say Marvel when answering this question, so I'll say DC.
DP: Controversial perhaps, controversial ha ha. And finally then Morgan – please tell us something surprising about you?
MKT: Although I now reside in the West Midlands in the UK, I'm originally from a small village on the coast called Innsmouth. I'm not sure why I left, but I hope to return there some day. Somehow I feel like the place is calling me back, as crazy as that sounds.
DP: Ah, now I get it!
Thank you Morgan so much for your time. Best of luck with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you would like to connect with Morgan direct:
Website Address: www.morganktanner.com
Next up is Theresa Derwin. Her Heart & Bones is Book 38 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome to the family Theresa. I know time is precious for you. So let’s get straight down to it. Kindly tell us a little about yourself.
THERESA DERWIN: Hi. I started writing at age 9, inspired by the BBC horror double bill that used to show when I was a kid. Other girls dreamt of glass slippers; I dreamt of headless horseman - I kind of scared my first teacher. I only really started putting work out there, when I became ill seven years ago, and used it to escape my sofa. Now I’m doing the MA Creative Writing at BCU.
DP: Yeap, well done on that! So with regards to Heart & Bones – which is made up of two stories, Doris and Fruit Of The Womb – what is the book about?
TD: Fruit Of The Womb is a Christmas story gone wrong – inspired by a Partridge In A Pear Tree. I love Christmas horror. And it’s a bit of a folk horror involving the idea of fertility – whereas Doris. Well, I decided to write my own interpretation of the Harlan Ellison story A Boy And His Dog with a woman instead.
DP: Did you have to do much research for your stories?
TD: For Fruit Of The Womb, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of harvest time, birth and rebirth, so I did lots of research into fertility deities – and I might have researched Christmas - just a bit!
DP: Good for you, good for you. What creatively is your biggest success to date do you think?
TD: Actually, I think Doris is a very strong story. It did well in a few long lists of anthologies but didn’t quite make it. However with each near miss, I sought feedback from friends and beta readers, re-working it until it felt right. And now, I think it’s as good as I can make it.
DP: We agree and were very happy to publish it. Talking on a more personal level, what books / authors do you read and do they influence you?
TD: I love the way horror is right now seeing a real revival. I’m a huge fan of the small press, and it’s great seeing bigger names such as Adam Nevill pioneer his own voice through that medium. I love the work that Demain [thank you!] and Black Shuck Books are doing, but also Titan Books. Clive Barker was always an early influence, but now there’s so much to choose from it’s like a beautiful time for the genre. I have recently discovered Paul Tremblay, Laura Mauro, Angela Slatter and Jeff Strand, though Tim Waggoner, Wrath James White, Christine Morgan and Dave Jeffery are working in areas I want to explore. As for the anthology, it’s a its highest level right now, and I predict great things for again for Dan Howarth and James Everington.
DP: Some great names there and a couple already published by Demain! Someone says ‘horror’ to you – what do you think that word means?
TD: Well, if I had the perfect scalpel, I could tear that question to pieces. If I also had 90k words to use. It’s personal. So, for me personally, pushing boundaries, dark mingled with ironic humour, fun and risqué.
DP: Great definition. Is there a particular horror book or film that you’re looking forward to?
TD: Having only recently seen Hereditary and Us, I want to see Midsommar, whatever Jordan Peele does next, and Rabid from the Soska Sisters. Books?? Too many to mention but The Reddening Adam Nevill and Priya Sharma’s TOR books.
DP: What scares Theresa Derwin?
TD: Spiders – Big Ass Spiders. I included Giant Vampire Spiders from Outer Space in my collection ‘Wolf at The Door’.
DP: In terms of creativity, what would you like to do in the future?
TD: Aha! Screenwriting and comics. Though I’m currently working on a screenplay for my MA. And, it’s Christmas romance!!
DP: Cool. So, Marvel or DC?
TD: Both? Well, if we’re talking TV, DC is killing it. Never mind the huge crossover events, it’s Titans and Doom Patrol that kick arse. Though I must catch up with Swampy.
DP: I’m yet to see Doom Patrol but love Titans – I think Curran Walters who plays Jason Todd is outstanding and I’m actually trying to get his interest on a script I’m writing right now. As soon as I started writing the character he popped into my head straight away – hopefully we can make that happen. Anyway, enough about me. Final one Theresa, please tell us something about you we don’t know.
TD: I once yelled “Yogurty” at William Shatner.
Ha ha – thank you so much Theresa. Great talking with you.
If you would like to converse directly with Theresa:
Website Address: www.theresaderwin.co.uk
Twitter Address: @BarbarellaFem
Instagram: Theresa Derwin
Hearts & Bones is published 31st October and is now available for pre-sales.
The next Short Sharp Shocks! is Book 37 Flayed Sins by Ian Woodhead. Dean and Ian have worked together a few times but not for a little while so it was ‘happy times’ when the opportunity came out. The book is being published on the 31st October but is available now for pre-sales.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi Ian! Great to speak to you again. For those that don’t know anything about you, please tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
IAN WOODHEAD: Hello everybody, I’m Ian. I live in the land of mushy peas and whippets (that’s Yorkshire, not the ‘other place’! Accuse me of living on the wrong side of the Pennines, and I’ll hunt you down and murder your hamster). I’m married with kids, pets, Lego and Netflix and I was born a few months after Michael Collins sent Buzz and Neil to the shops to grab more teabags. As for the writing bit? Well, reading came first, I guess. That’s back when my mum left a James Herbert book on the coffee table and I picked it up and…yeah, that was eye opening! I was eight at the time. Time passed by, as it generally does and we find ourselves in 1988 and me aged 19. This is one of those life defining moments section. My brother and I were walking home and a couple a lads walked passed us, turned and slammed my head into the wall. I dropped like a sack of spuds. Just to make sure I wouldn’t get up the lad stamped on the back of my head. I have no recollection of any of this, mind. It’s only what my brother told me weeks later. Anyway, my next memory is waking up in hospital, with tubes stuck in me. This was a week later. OMG! This interview’s gone a bit flipping dark, and it started out so happy/weird too. Yeah well, tough. Look, do you want me to continue or what?
DP: Please do, we’re all ears...
IW: Whilst in hospital, I became obsessed with two things. Orinoco Flow by Enya, which was in the charts at the time, and The Magic Cottage by James Herbert. Upon discharge, I find my musical tastes utterly change from OMD and Erasure to Metallica and Iron Maiden. I also started reading horror. Back then, I started with Herbert and King then expanding to Dean Koontz, Steve Harris, Mark Morris, Guy N Smith, Brian Lumley, Shaun Hutson. I’ve not stopped reading. As for writing. Well, I picked up the pen aged and put it down again a few weeks later when I realised I had no idea what I was doing. I went back to playing games on my Commodore 64. Twenty years went by, because time never stops. Aged 40, I picked up the pen yet again, and stuck at it this time. Granted, my use of grammar was pretty awful back then (some argue that it still is). But, with help from a certain Adrian Chamberlin, I finished my first novel, titled Shades of Green. Which was nice.
DP: Ah, Adrian! He’s a friend too and we’ve worked with him in the past on many projects. Hopefully at Demain too in the not too distant future. And wow, that’s a real eye-opening story. The Magic Cottage is a fav of ours too...and Enya! There’s a blast from the past. Okay, so with regards to Flayed Sins, what is it about?
IW: It’s all about the grey lines between revenge, retribution and justice. As well as the consequences of every action you take throughout your life. There’s enough ambiguity there for a dozen Eastenders episodes but let’s open that box and throw in ‘hidden agendas’ Awesome.
DP: Ha ha. And your protagonist?
IW: She finds herself in the middle of a Twilight Zone story and instead of applying rational reasoning, she allows her emotions to take the reins. Not her best idea.
DP: No, it’s not...for Flayed Sins was there much research involved?
IW: No, not at all. I allowed my conciousness to probe through the half-forgotten memories from my past. It felt like the proper cause of action. Looking back, Google might have been a more reliable source. Shrugs. Too late now.
DP: So did you find any of the scenes difficult to write?
IW: Oh God, yeah. As for which part of the story I refer to, I’ll let you decide.
DP: Indeed. Indeed. Creatively Ian what would you say is your biggest success?
IW: That happened five years ago. A fellow writer advised me to go down the extreme horror route. As I was going through a creative drought, I took the decision to pull one of my worst selling titles off Amazon and rewrite it. Rags and Bone, a story which I adored, became Brutality. A much darker and ‘wetter’ story. I commissioned a new cover and released it.It took off like a sodding rocket! I was like, you are shitting me! Anyway buoyed by its initial success, I sat down and wrote my first original extreme horror story, called Depravity. The artist created a cover in a similar style and I released that. That one took off too! Happy dance - then the reviews started to arrive. They ripped both books apart. The two main grievances were the tales weren’t extreme enough and the editing sucked monkey’s balls. Yeah, I self edited and made a complete arse of it. How dumb is that? Well, there you go. Welcome to my world.
DP: We might be looking at an extreme imprint in the future – we’ll come back to you about that...could be fun to do...so in terms of books or authors, what do you read and are they an influence?
IW: The books which have affected me most were all non-horror. 1984 by George Orwell, Use Of Weapons by Iain M Banks, and Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham.
DP: Ah, I want to read some Billingham – thanks for the aide memoir. What then is ‘horror’ to Ian Woodhead?
IW: Go ‘treat’ yourself to a double bill of Threads and When The Wind Blows. If you need even more trauma top-up for your ice cream, watch an Auschwitz documentary.
DP: Harsh but true my friend, harsh but true. Is there a horror book or film coming up that you’re looking forward to?
IW: The next Alien movie. Ironically, some say the horror is that Disney have swalllowed up 20th Century Fox and will now milk the franchise to death. *cough Star Wars. *cough, cough.
DP: Know what you mean, I’ve read recently that they’re thinking about doing an Alien tv series. I did draft out a rough Alien script a few years back (I think a little while after part three came out) – it was set on their ‘home planet’ and I wanted Sean Connery as the President of Weyland...now I think of it, I still want to write / direct a Predator movie set in the 1200s...ah, the life of a writer ha ha. Is Ian Woodhead frightened of anything?
IW: Erm, rejection, loss, loneliness and death just about covers it. Yeah, my fears have found their way into my stories. How could they not? I mean, my stories ARE part of me. Simple as.
DP: And creatively is there anything you haven’t yet done yet?
IW: I have yet to write a detective novel. One of these days, I will strike this off my ‘todo’ list.
DP: Well, if you do, please remember that we have our own Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! Imprint...anyway, anyway – two toughies coming up. Marvel or DC?
IW: What sort of a question is that? How about neither. Christ on a space hopper. It’s 2000AD or death. (grin) Look, we’ve had Judge Dredd on the big screen (hoping for more) we now need Strontium Dog, Meltdown Man, Slaine, Rogue Trooper, ABC Warriors and Rogue Trooper. God, it makes my eyes bleed at the thought of all that incredible material rotting away. Look, I’m not saying that Batman, Hulk and all the rest is in anyway subpar. It’s just that I feel they’ve only pulled out a tiny slice of our geek cake and plastered it everyfuckingwhere! Come on, guys. Dig a little deeper.
DP: Yes, it’s strange isn’t it...I wonder if there is some issue with licences etc? As you’ve mentioned it twice, I wouldn’t mind seeing some Rogue Trooper either...and ABC Warriors! Final question then (and I’m also scared myself to ask this): tell me something your readers might be surprised to find out about you.
IW: I once microwaved a slug and ate it.
There it is ha ha ha ha!
Thank you Ian for your time.
All the best with Flayed Sins.
Author Interview: Dave Jeffery's The Camp Creeper & Other Stories - Book 36 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series
Dave Jeffery is already part of the Demain family with his recent novella release A Quiet Apocalypse. Book 36 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series is his The Camp Creeper & Other Stories which is currently available for pre-sales and is published on the 31st October.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi again Dave, hope you’re well. Congrats by the way on all the plaudits you’ve been receiving for A Quiet Apocalypse – truly deserved. So let’s now turn our attention to your Short Sharp Shocks! – can you tell tell us something about it please?
DAVE JEFFERY: Hi! My contribution to this great series is three stories, The Camp Creeper, Cross Your Heart and Guess what we’re Having for Supper? As stories their setting and tone are quite different, but they have, at heart, a theme of loss and the regrets of making wrong choices, and how those choices can affect the main character or those around them.
DP: Yes, there is definitely a running theme through the stories – did you have to do much research before writing them?
DJ: The Camp Creeper and Guess what we’re Having for Supper? required some investigation into the nuances of the scout movement, just background details on how each troop worked and the associated hierarchy. Nothing too deep, it was more about the characters breaking those traditions than the finer nuances of how such things worked in practice. Cross Your Heart was research free; I merely went with a distinctive, rueful tone. This is a brooding piece and possibly my favourite of the three. Not that one should have favourites, of course!
DP: Indeed. We love them all but for different reasons (and no that’s not us sitting on the fence ha ha ha). Did you find any of the stories difficult to write?
DJ: Cross Your Heart was difficult in that the primary focus is the death of a child. As any parent will attest, this is the greatest and most profound fear.
DP: What books are you reading at the moment?
DJ: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. She is a storyteller of quality.
DP: Yes, she is, I need to check this out asap. Still talking about reading, is there a book you’ve started but never finished?
DJ: I won’t name any book, but there have been plenty I have partially read as a reviewer that I simply could not finish. This will either be down to poor, uninventive writing or a story that is well written but fails to capture me as a reader. Purists would perhaps suggest that a mediocre tale can be enhanced or made fresh by beautiful prose. I’m not a subscriber to this view.
DP: I’m with you on that one. There’s been a couple I’ve started that promised so much but after a couple of chapters I’ve just thrown them back on the pile...shame...of all the books in the world, is there one you wish you had written?
DJ: Anything by Steinbeck but perhaps Of Mice and Men. So much craft in such a small volume, the affect and influence of that book is astounding.
DP: Ha, I’m more a Grapes Of Wrath kinda guy! I loved Steinbeck and need to read more. Is there a particular book that has changed your life?
DJ: In horror terms, it was James Herbert’s The Fog. In my view, not enough is said about how James Herbert changed the way we look at horror fiction. Its easy to discount him as ‘old-school’ but The Fog is as relevant today at it was in 1975. The barbarity of man is, sadly, timeless. I’ll be working on an essay about The Fog for Kendall Reviews ready for publication in 2020.
DP: Really – that’s pretty damn cool. Will check that out when it’s published. I love Herbert too. Wish we had a few more quality films adapted from his work though. I do remember The Fog book when I was at school...certain scenes still bring water to my eyes ha ha! So, you’ve written quite a few novels (and short stories) in your career and in several genres (and age groups!) – which one would you like to be remembered for?
DJ: I guess I’m no different to any other writer in that I’d just like a piece of my work to have affected someone enough for them to either re-read it, tell other people about it, or maybe remember it from time to time. I have readers who say that Finding Jericho is a book that has changed their lives. In this, all I can say is I’ve achieved a great thing and that is enough for me.
DP: Great book and I totally understand when readers say that. Well done. Last one this time around Dave. If you weren’t a writer, how would you express yourself creatively?
DJ: I have dabbled in music and song writing, but I’m just not that good at it. The same can be said for my illustration work. If push came to shove, I’d probably be a cartoonist as this was an aspect of illustration I really enjoyed when I was younger, and I was good enough to be invited up to look around DC Thompson with the invite to resubmit my portfolio with a few guided pieces. I never did though, something about imposter syndrome at an early age! I have an A-Z of Horror manuscript in my loft that is supported by many cartoons. Who knows, maybe I need to dust that off one day!
DP: Wow – we’d love to see that!
Thanks as always Dave for your time.
If you’d like to connect with Dave direct:
Website Address: DAVE JEFFERY
Twitter Address: @davebjeffery
Any other social media links: Facebook Author Page
Also published on the 31st October is Joanna Koch’s The Couvade – Book 35 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series. Dean and Joanna recently discussed it...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi Joanna – welcome to the Demain family. Let’s get straight to it – can you tell us about yourself and your writing?
JOANNA KOCH: Hi, Dean. Thanks so much for having me! It’s my pleasure! I’ve always been compulsively creative, needing some place to channel mental energy and be immersed. About ten years ago I tried writing out of dissatisfaction with visual art, and some physical challenges with executing art. I guess I was ready to do something less abstract, too. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, so it’s like a daydream come true to find myself writing fiction.
DP: If I have one regret it’s the fact that I’m no good at art. Well, that’s what one of my teachers once told me. We were painting at school. He stood watching me do a still life or something and he took the brush out of my hand, snapped it in two and said that I had no aptitude and was a ‘waste of space’. Very weird when you look back at it. Bullying you could say. Well, I hope to prove him wrong at some point...anyway, enough about me . Can you tell us about The Couvade?
JK: Martin’s keeping a dangerous secret from his partner. He’s found love with Jerome, and a life happily estranged from the shapeshifting rituals of his past. But some secrets don’t die. As the past comes alive and lures them into a trap, Martin must choose whether to be hunter or prey.
DP: As the story was ‘French’ it certainly appealed to me ha ha. Who exactly is your protagonist?
JK: Martin is a psychiatrist despite his dark secrets, or more likely because of them. He keeps anxiety at bay by maintaining control as the Doctor, the master of the situation. I like that he’s an expert in sanity with a fragile center. He’s kind of a mess as a human, and makes bad decisions in his relationship with Jerome, and his reluctance to trust makes him blind to obvious threats.
DP: This time around would you say that there was much research needed before you crafted your story?
JK: Elements of this story grew from my interest in sin-eaters, as well as the medieval criminal case of Gilles de Rais. I mean, I just do research because I’m a nerd, basically! Years ago I first heard of sin-eaters from a friend who saw one at their grandmother’s wake. Their description of the cloaked sin-eater stuck with me, as did the mystery of what happened behind the closed door. I took my research wildly out of context to create a mythology for this story, though.
DP: Ah, Gilles de Rais – there’s a character! Would love to make a film about him one day for sure. Did you find any of the scenes particularly difficult to write?
JK: Without giving too much away, the last act presented some hard questions about villains and vengeance, and what part aggression plays in recovering from being hurt. I hope the story speaks to people who struggle with those questions.
DP: I think it does so well done. What does the word ‘horror’ mean to you?
JK: Going all the way. Trying to go further. I mentioned my fascination with what was behind the closed door a moment ago. That’s probably what led me to study psychology professionally and it absolutely drives me to write and read horror. I want to know ALL the dark secrets.
DP: You and me both! So what is Joanna Koch afraid of? And have you ever written about it?
JK: Driving a car. I can picture so many horrible outcomes while behind the wheel. No, I haven’t written about it! Seems like a bad mojo to do that while I still have to commute. I very much need a chauffeur in my life.
DP: Ha ha. I can drive, but haven’t driven for a long time, though right now I quite fancy the idea of racing...I’ve longed to have an old banger and drive that in races...no idea where it comes from...anyway, anyway, creatively is there anything you haven’t achieved yet?
JK: Ooh, that’s a juicy question. I’m toying with more collaborative experiments as a way to push out of my comfort zone, as well as longer works. I’m currently working on a serialized novella, collaborative in spirit if not in content. Corresponding with the editor is moving the piece in very exciting directions. I also have a fantasy of one day meeting a mathematician who will translate my fiction into equations.
DP: Oh very esoteric! Of which: Marvel or DC?
JK: This question baffles me. I guess I’m not that kind of nerd.
DP: Fair play to you. Last one then, can you tell your readers something they might be surprised to find out about you?
JK: I grew up quite poor. Food stamp poor, in the bible belt. I like to talk about art and ideas and all the fancy things I love, but I’m not an especially fancy person. We can hang out and have a beer, eat a burger. That’s cool with me.
DP: Let me know when / where and we'll be there!
Thank you so much for your time Joanna – all the best with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you would like to converse with Joanna directly:
Website Address: horrorsong.blog
Twitter Address: twitter.com/horrorsong
Book 34 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series, is Dan Weatherer’s The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl. We’ve wanted to work with Dan for a while so we were really happy to be able to move forward on his recent book. Prior to publication Dean sat down with Dan and talked about it:
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi Dan, great to be working with you – for those that don’t know you, can you tell us first a little about yourself and how you became a writer?
DAN WEATHERER: Hi. I was made redundant at the beginning of 2018. After eight years of a tedious office job, I suddenly time (around looking after my infant daughter) to explore the possibility of writing. My first efforts were rough around the edges but showed promise. My first published piece The Legend of the Chained Oak was made into an award-winning short film, and things just snowballed from there!
DP: Yes, that’s a stunning piece of work. With regards to your Short Sharp Shocks! what is it about?
DW: The Necessary Evils - where to start? It’s different. It explore themes of religion pressed upon me from an early age, and it incorporates family. It’s a deeply personal tale for reasons I will outline in my next answer.
DP: So your protagonists...
DW: The two characters are based on (and named after) my two children. As a parent I've often looked at the world and worried as to the horrors they will inevitably be exposed to at some point in their lives. This tale is how I see them now, innocent and protected from evil. It’s how (like many a parent, I imagine) I’d like them to remain.
DP: Yes, I did get the feeling it was a very personal story which I found intriguing. Creatively what would you say is your biggest success to date?
DW: This is difficult to answer, because success is measured in different ways, depending on the individual. I’ve had many projects inspire others to produce work of their own, such as art exhibitions and short films. On the flip, I’ve written nonfiction on the subject of mental health, and that has helped many people come to terms with their struggles. I’d count these examples as successes.
DP: So true. ‘Horror’ – what does that mean to you?
DW: Being alone in a world apathetic to your suffering. That, to me is true horror.
DP: Which I believe is reflected to some extent in your second story Sick Girl. What is Dan Weatherer afraid of and has that influenced your work?
DW: Deep water, and in a sense, it has. I often write settings in / or around bodies of water. As long as I’m not in it, I find water calming, even inspirational. In it however…no. I almost drowned as a child and have never managed to master the art of swimming.
DP: I almost drowned too in my grandparents’ pond...I can still taste the seaweed or whatever it was in my mouth as I type this. I think because of that experience, it did take me a long time to learn to swim which I did eventually when I lived in Saudi Arabia. The last time I swum in a pool was last year I think in Cannes and what I still find interesting is that I love spending time UNDER the water rather than swimming on the surface. I haven’t really done SCUBA diving or deep-sea diving, perhaps I should...creatively what would you like to do you at some point in the future?
DW: I’m lucky because I have written for the page, screen and the stage. I’d like to one day have my work adapted into a feature film, but I suppose I share that dream with many an author.
DP: That’d be really cool, I’d watch that movie for sure. Talking of films, Marvel or DC?
DW: Neither. I dip in and out of both franchises, but prefer the comic work of Alan Moore. V for Vendetta is one of my favourite works of his.
DP: Nice one – I agree, it’s brilliant isn’t it? I also love Watchmen and am enjoying the new tv series immensely. Finally then, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
DW: I’m currently retraining as a TIG Welder. I hit 40 at around the time this will go live, and decided to try my hand at something new! (I’d previously never set foot in a workshop, but I’m loving it!)
DP: Really? That’s amazing! Well done you.
Thanks Dan for your time – really appreciate that.
If you would like to connect with Dan himself:
Short Sharp Shocks! 34 The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl is now available for pre-sales and is published on 31st October 2019.
As a little bonus for all you fans of Russell's work he has kindly given us a piece of flash fiction. Check it out (don't steal - thanks) as well as his Short Sharp Shocks! Apples & Snail Trails.
By Russell Smeaton
Sarah scrubbed her skin clean religiously every night before hanging it to dry. Without it, she felt naked and filthy, her own skin resembling a new-born mole. She hated being dirty as much as she loved being clean. So she took some night classes, read some books, and perfected the art of skinning and preserving hide. Other peoples skin always seemed so much cleaner.
As you might imagine, wearing someone else’s skin hindered intimacy. Sarah had long since given up on dreams of romance until she met Roger. It was love at first sight, or rather, love at first smell. Roger's skin gave of a scent of good old-fashioned soap, something Sarah could never resist.
Their romance blossomed, until eventually, she brought him back home. Settling him on the couch with a glass of wine, she snuck upstairs to “slip into something more comfortable”. Removing her skin, she gave herself the once over in the mirror, forcing herself to breathe. Satisfied she was as clean as could be, she hesitantly came down the stairs with pounding heart and peered myopically into the front room, naked as a babe.
Later in the bathroom, Sarah smiled as she soaped every inch of Roger's skin. Her fears that he might be repulsed by her had proven ungrounded. Far from it in fact. With a faint smile, he had reached for her. Alas, as he did so, she spotted his dirty nails and that, as they say, was that.
“Oh well”, she sighed, “nothing like a new suit” as she finished scrubbing his skin clean.