Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Haunting of Hill House - a dark and disturbing journey into thedepths of terror...





Unless you've been in a coma the last couple of weeks, or been away from social media, you probably can't help but have noticed that there's a new show on Netflix that literally everyone is talking about.
Even Stephen King has come aboard to give it his full and unadulterated recommendation and though there was a time when you literally couldn't pick up a new horror book without Stephen King announcing it was the best thing since sliced bread boldly across its cover, nowadays the man himself is often a lot less vocal unless it comes to Donald Trump - upon whom his feelings have been made abundantly clear thanks to Twitter.

Hill House is a modern reimagining of the classic Shirkey Jackson novel and though I normally hate that term, here it certainly applies. The ten-part show is written and directed by Mike Flanaghan of Oculus and Hush fame and though Hush - which tells the story of a home invasion as experience by someone who has been deaf since birth and lives entirely in her own - left me cold, I was a big fan of Oculus, not least because of the presence of Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) but also because the film itself was nothing more than one great, big, God almighty head-fuck.

And something very similar could be said about Hill House.

The show opens with a family of five children fleeing the house in the dead of night at the behest of their father, leaving the mother behind, seemingly trapped inside Hill House. Years later, we catch up with the family in the present day and through a series of flash-backs, begin gaining an insight into their lives whilst witnessing for ourself first-hand the haunting they each individually experienced during the course of that summer spent back in that house.

Steven is now a writer whose greatest achievement was writing a book called The Haunting of Hill house in an attempt to offer some kind of explanation for the events that took place there. Luke is an off and on recovering drug addict, whilst his twin sister, Nell, is plagued by sleep paralysis and dreams about 'The bent-neck Lady' who has been haunting her ever since she was a little girl.
Theodore is now a lesbian, addicted to one night stands if only so that she can experience some sort of intimacy whilst still managing to keep everyone at a distance, whilst Shirley now runs her own funeral business and helps provide a roof over Theo's head by allowing her to sleep in her converted garage.

One singular tragic event brings all these siblings together, along with their father, and over the course of the next ten episodes we slowly learn just what happened all those years ago at Hill House as all the secrets of their shared past start to bleed back into their lives and we discover that although they thought they'd left that house behind, in fact all this time it has still been playing a very big part in each of their lives.

To explain any more would give away the element of surprise and although this show is a bit of a slow-burner to begin with, it is worth sticking with as it is a creepy little number with many twists and turns down a series of very dark and shocking turns. For me, I really enjoyed it - though I was a little disappointed with the way it ended as we are never fully given all the answers, but then I suppose that is so they can leave the show open for future possible seasons. 
If you're looking for something dark and spooky to watch in the run-up to Halloween, I would recommend you giving it a go.
It's nothing we haven't seen done before - for in the end, after all, it's just another haunted house story just as Hush was just another home invasion movie - but it is done in a very original and unique way which earns it a lot of kudos in my book, and at times Flanaghan's version of Hill House is very reminiscent of Mark. Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, which as many of you might know is one of my favourite books of all time simply because I found it so disturbing. Indeed, this is probably as close to any kind of T.V show adaptation of House of Leaves as we are ever going to get, even though in fact it is a very different story, and it is because of this if nothing else that for each of the ten episodes, I could barely tear my eyes away.

Is it perfect? No.
Like I said, I wasn't sure I liked the ending.
Was it creepy? Yes.
Just don't believe all the hype about people fainting and passing out watching this, or being so scared they end up being sick, because all of that is just bullshit made-up to sell the show to gullible audiences.
Will this show stay with you long after you have finished it and turned it off? Very likely.
All I know is that if I wasn't such a big, scary horror writer myself, I'd probably be having nightmares after watching this and if you are prone to such things, just be warned - there is plenty here that might trigger you and leave you with sleepless nights for many nights to come...

                                                                   ***

If you have watched this show, and enjoyed it, and enjoy being scared, and are looking for something scary to read whilst you keep the light on now for the next few weeks, then why not check out some of these anthologies of short stories from J.Ellington Ashton Press, some of which I may have stories in myself.

Fatal Fetish is a recent collection of erotic terror and includes stories about unusual kinks and kinky fetishes, each with a little twist in their tale. One in particular called Send in the clowns by erotic author, Naomi Matthews, especially stands out, by there are very many other equally perverse stories in this anthology that I also rate very highly. One for adults only...

Or, if you're looking for something a bit more Tales From the Crypt, why not check out Jeapers Creepers - which features my story about a little boy terrified of the monster in his closet...
I really enjoyed writing for this one, and it was a real genuine pleasure to be included in it.

Or finally, how about Mystery Monster 13? Not your usual collection of Monster stories, this one features my story, The Grishnakka that I am thinking of expanding into a novella at some point in the very near future...and this is a perfect opportunity for you to check it out in its original form before I choose to revise it.

All available on Amazon now...


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fatal-Fetish-Toneye-Eyenot-ebook/dp/B07BCYN11M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1540250989&sr=1-1&keywords=Fatal+fetish

https://www.amazon.co.uk/JEAPers-Creepers-John-Ledger-ebook/dp/B019G6DK4G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1540251072&sr=1-1&keywords=Jeapers+creepers






                                                                       


Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sick, sicker, sickest....





Sicker and Sickest Bastards are the two follow-ups to Matt Shaw's Sick Bastards that I reviewed earlier this year, and which continue the story of John who in the first book of this series, ended up  discovering he wasn't who he thought he was and that he was, in fact, part of a secret experiment to test people's limits in the event of an apocalypse.
Sicker Bastards picks up where the first book left off, with John returning to his 'family' following the revelation he experiences that returning to the life he knew before is no longer an option. No less sick and depraved than the first book, and in fact upping the ante slightly this time around, it explores the ramifications of John's return and what happens when his new 'father' decides it is best for the 'family' to attempt to leave with potentially catastrophic results.
Sickest Bastards completes the trilogy in the form of a short story, told from a different perspective this time around, bringing the series to a twisted and equally shocking close.

I can not express this enough - THESE BOOKS ARE EXTREME AND NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH OR THE FAINT OF HEART. They feature EXTREME sex scenes including INCEST and CANNABILISM and are designed and written explicitly with making you squirm. If any of these themes offend, THESE BOOKS ARE NOT FOR YOU - MOVE ALONG!

Still with me? Good - because almost despite of this, or perhaps because of it, these books are very well written and a perfect showcase for Matt Shaw's talent and ability to shock.
I bought the 2nd book and when it ended, so needed to know how the series concluded, immediately purchased the final short story.

I look forward to reading more from this author - and love the way he even makes me feel uncomfortable, and yes, even a little bit dirty, reading these. 

Full marks out of 5 for both of these books!

A very dark and twisted tale...





When I first picked this book up, I had no idea what to expect. The name, Kyle.M.Scott, had flashed across my radar a few times, but I had never actually read anything by him as far as I was aware...until now.
A Better Life is a very clever story. 
Jess is terminally ill and needs treatment, so to help fund that treatment her husband decides to abduct a little girl - the daughter of a rich and successful businessman - in order to ransom her for money.
And that's when things start to go wrong...
Emily is no ordinary little girl.
Emily has a secret.
A dark and deadly secret...
And as Jess, her husband, and their two co-conspirators are about to find out, they might well have just bitten more off than they can chew...

I was really impressed by this book and Kyle.M.Scott here has done a very good job of spinning a very chilling yarn - one practically laden with extremely dark and increasingly more disturbing overtones. All of the characters are very well imagined, and the book itself moves at a very swift pace - dragging you along right up until the highly explosive end. 
What I liked most about this book was the way that just as I thought this story was going to start getting predictable and I thought I knew what was coming, Kyle pulled the rug out from under my feet - leaving me gasping, stunned, and breathless on the floor.
If this is your first introduction to this author, like it was mine, I can practically guarantee you are bound to be impressed. Certainly this makes me want to pick up more of his work.
Kyle.M.Scott obviously has a very twisted and dark imagination, that from this book looks like is a very scary place, and you know what?

I like that, I really do.


 











Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Demise of the living...



Iain McKinnon is the author of two of my favourite Zombie books of all time, Domain of the Dead and Remains of the Dead, so when I saw the third part of his trilogy in a charity shop the other day I just knew I had to have it.

Demise of the Living is different from Iain's previous two novels in that it is set at the very start of the outbreak, rather than several years after, and so almost works as a prequel - following what happens to a small group of survivors as they slowly come together to seek refuge in an office building, in a desperate bid to try and escape the zombie hordes outside.

Right from the outset, there is friction. 

Power plays, already existent in the office, begin to take their toll on those trapped inside as the survivors struggle to agree on...well, practically anything...but this is just the start of their worries when it quickly becomes apparent that some amongst their number are already infected!!!!

Who lives? Who dies? There's only one way to find out...

I really enjoyed this book, even if the early part of the plot pretty much reads a little bit zombie-by-numbers - but thankfully Iain throws in more than a few surprises until, by the end, the reader is left reeling with the scope of everything that has just happened and is forced to face the very real prospect of just how far someone will go to survive.

Is it as good as his previous two zombie books? No.

Is it better than two-thirds of the other Zombie books out there? Definitely.

If you have read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, I fully reccomend you give this a go and if you haven't, this is the perfect book to start with knowing the other two books are set much later and several years after the events depicted here.

The only bit I found frustrating is the way, with one set of characters, the action jumps ahead a few hours without satisfyingly filling in what happened in between, but other than that this was a very good read.

4 stars out of 5, helped tremendously by THAT ending...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Fireside stories - a very spooky collection...

(TAKEN FROM THE OPENING INTRODUCTION TO FIRESIDE STORIES)

"For the month of October 2017, J. Ellington Ashton Press, on their Wicked Little Things blog-talk radio show, broadcasted a series of stories for Halloween. These “Fireside Stories” (as they were called) were a big hit with the listeners, and the decision was quickly made to publish these tales of terror into a kindle/paperback/audiobook anthology. The stories selected for our Fireside Stories segment came from a variety of popular JEA anthologies or short story collections (Quarantine, Within Stranger Aeons, Fear of the Dark, The Thicket, Vampz vs Wolvz, New England Weird, and Autumn Burning just to name a few) and were written by some of JEA’s top authors (Catt Dahman, Jim Goforth, Mark Woods, Michael Noe, Essel Pratt, Amanda M. Lyons, Michael Fisher, Toneye Eyenot, Kitty Kane, and Roma Gray). Some of the audio recordings were borrowed recordings from the existing audiobook Celebration of Horror 1: The Best of Roma Gray. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed writing them."  

Late last year, horror author and good friend, Roma Gray approached me with a proposition. She was putting together a collection of spooky stories to be broadcast on Halloween, and wanted to know if I had a favourite story I wanted to hear narrated.
I chose the story, Night Swimming, which appears in the short story collection, Nocturnal Nightmares, but Roma had another idea. She wanted to use the title story from my own collection, Fear of the Dark.
To say it was weird hearing a story I had written being read by someone else is a bit of an understatement, but all in all I was very pleased with the result and the person chosen to do the narrating did a very good job. (I forget his name right now, forgive me, but I'm sure Roma will remind me later.)

Much more recently, I finally got around to reading the rest of the stories also featured on that night, and I thought I would share with you my thoughts...

The book begins with a piece of poetry, written by the author, Kitty Kane, especially for Vampz Vendetta, one of the many Project 26 books that was released last year, but, as I have no doubt said before in the past, I don't really have much of a clue when it comes to poetry so I must confess there's not really that much I can say about this.

Next up is my story, Fear of the Dark, and of course, as it would be wholly unprofessional to review my own work, all I can say about this is that it was a lot of fun to write and largely inspired by one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs. (See if you can guess which one!)

The Pumpkin Man is next up and, as the first piece of work I have read by Michael Noe, I have to say I was very impressed. In this story, Noe takes the familiar concept of a slasher film and then gives it his own unique twist resulting in a neat little story that is a lot of fun to read.

Hope springs infernally eternal comes next, and again is another neat little story.
This one is written by the woman who first encouraged me to write, Catt Dahman, and is a clever little tale about a haunted hotel that ends up taking you in directions you would never expect, proving yet again - should proof be needed - that she hasn't lost her touch and is just as capable of shocking her readers now as she was right back at the start of her career.

October Night is the next offering, and once again is a piece of poetry but this time written by J.E.A veteran, Amanda M Lyons - an author with whom I have shared many an anthology in the past.
Again, as with Kitty Kane's poetry, unfortunately I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a pass on reviewing this as it could be the best poetry in the world and I'm afraid I simply could not judge, but what I will say is that Amanda is a very good writer and certainly well worth checking out.

Next up comes a little something from editor and author, Roma Gray - someone of whom I am a great admirer - with a stand-alone tale set in the same world as her Hunted tribe series and featuring her big bad, The Grishla.
This is a great little story, and a welcome addition to Roma's Grishla mythos that both thrills and entertains and is a very welcome filler until the next Hunted Tribe story comes out. (Hint hint)

Quarantine Query is up next, and is Scott Essel's Pratt story from the P26 anthology, edited by Miss Gray, that is funnily enough also titled Quarantine. This was one of my favourites of that anthology and a welcome addition here and is very clever in the way that it finds lot of imaginative uses of the letter Q during the course of the story, along with a neat little twist at the end. 

Nightscapes is next, and is another piece of poetry by Amanda M Lyons, and so, once again, for the reasons I have already mentioned, I will skip over reviewing this, but after that comes yet another story from editor and author, Roma Gray.
This time around the subject is Easter, but if you're expecting a cute, cuddly tale of the Easter bunny, then I suggest you think again. What we get here instead is a very scary tale of a sinister cult and an ending that I fully expect to stay with me for ages. 
If you're looking for a prime example of the kind of stuff you can normally expect to find, emerging from out of the pen of author, Roma Gray, then this one is about as good an example as you are ever going to get. As with many of her stories, Roma here exhibits a particularly mean streak and all I will say is I'm glad I'm not a character in one of her stories...

Michael Fisher comes next, and his story is taken from Within Stranger Aeons and is a story of one of Lovecraft's lesser known Old Gods.
Fisher, as always, spins a frightening tale and all set to the backdrop of yet another sinister cult.

Jim Goforth writes next, and though is better known for his work editing the Rejected for Content series, is also the author of Plebs - his debut novel which has already spanned a sequel in two parts with yet another book in the series due out at some point in the not too distant future.
Jim's story here is entitled Road Kill, and just as nasty as anything else you might have read from this author, just as you might expect.

 Quad is the final story in this anthology, and once again is taken from the P26 book, Quarrantine. 
Toneye Eyenot is the author of this one, which funnily enough was another of my favourites from Quarrantine and does a good job of wrapping everything up with a very different take on the apocalypse and what very well might be the last man standing.
Toneye Eyenot is a brilliant writer, and doesn't let the reader down here with a very chilling story guaranteed to send a chill down your spine.

Overall, this is a neat little collection.
Though occasionally it reads like a J.E.A greatest hits, this book provides a perfect chance to get to know a few of the press's most talented authors, and is a great little book to read late at night with lots of perfectly chilling tales to thrill and entertain you.

And I'm in it too, so what more could you ask?









 

Friday, 12 January 2018

A little Q & A with Dani Brown, my featured author of the month...

 

Dani Brown is a very boring person. She likes knitting. She often spends hours removing cat fur from her knitting projects. She wants Mayhem's drummer to show up at her house covered in chocolate sauce. That's about it. Oh, and she does not trust anyone who claims Velvet Underground as one of their favourite bands. She is also the author of several books that have earned her the honourable title, the 'Queen of filth', one of which, her latest release by JEA Press, is Night of the Penquins.

Night of the Penquins tells the story of Carla - a low-paid, bottom-of-the-rung zoo employee who has an issue with upper management and who lives in abject squalor through no fault of her own other than an insufficient lack of funds. One night, in total hunger and desperation, she decides to sneak into the zoo to forage for left-over food - even though there are rumours of bizarre disappearances and mysterious goings on after hours - only to find herself being cornered by a cult, led by some of the senior, upper echelons of management at the zoo, who intend to use her as part of their rituals.
What they don't realise, however, is that Carla has already been inseminated by a far older, and much more powerful God than that the cult follow and unwittingly, she is part of a much grander plan...

I spoke to Dani about some of her writing, and about her author journey so far...

Hi Dani, thanks for agreeing to answer my questions. First off, can I just say I’m really enjoying reading your work, and that you have a very unique style that is pretty much unlike anything else I think that I have ever read and I am looking forward to finding out a bit more about you and your work…

1) Firstly, both Broccoli and Night of the Penguins feature characters with, shall we say, less than favourable personal hygiene so, and please forgive me for asking something I expect you probably get asked a lot, the first thing I would like to know is are any of your characters based on reality, or real people that you know, or are they created completely from your own imagination?

 

That’s a tough question because it is a bit of both. With Broccoli, it was entirely made up. I tried to keep the character as gender neutral as possible. With Night of the Penguins, Spores was based on someone I knew. I didn’t know about his personal hygiene. I never stood close enough to him to smell him. 

I’m very squeamish in person and I notice bad smells and things like that. I have a lifetime of noticing this stuff to build upon. 

Whenever I need an example of bad hygiene, I think back to early childhood. I used this in “Seth” as well. And probably thought of it while constructing “Broccoli”. When we first moved to the USA, or specifically Massachusetts, I was walking with my mother. We walked past a neighbour’s house at the top of the road and she heard my mother’s accent. Turns out, she grew up in the same area of Britain as my mother. They became instant friends. 

The woman’s house was a mess. This woman wouldn’t have been the first hoarder I came across. My great grandmother was one too, but I don’t recall her house from early childhood. Over the years, her house became worse. Eventually, she loaded it with dogs. 

The house itself was huge, even to American standards. But everywhere was loaded with stuff. The woman never cleaned around all that stuff. 

The sink in the bathroom upstairs had layers of toothpaste. It was horrible. When my mother went into hospital to give birth to my brother, me and my sister had to stay with this woman. She wouldn’t let me have a drink at bedtime. I always have a cup of water next to my bed (or bottle these days, because kitties). This goes back for longer than I can remember. My throat gets dry and it can be painful. I had to get out of bed and drink with my hands from the dirty sink. 

 Years’ worth of grit accumulated on the floors. I don’t think she owned a vacuum cleaner. Children would run in and out of there. Children have sticky hands and snot dripping down their noses (I would have been no different). She didn’t wipe surfaces either. 

 The pool that she would make us go swimming in had white water and dead yellow jackets floating in it (I’m terrible of bees, wasps and hornets). That wasn’t ever vacuumed or skimmed. 

 We would have to go camping with her. Her caravan smelled of dog poo because dogs were everywhere and she never cleaned up after them. There wasn’t any relief from her and the smells were actually worse due to the confined space.

 One year, she had fleas. Really bad fleas. And of course, me and my siblings carried them home in our clothes to our two cats and one dog. I’m not sure if it was one of the years when flea treatment had stopped working, or if my mother was following this woman’s advice for getting rid of them instead of any functional person’s. I pressed on my dog’s spots one day (black spotted Dalmatian) and fleas crawled into his white fur. We were covered in flea bites. Clogs were the in-footwear. I was wearing a pair to the church my mother dragged me to, black suede ones. Fleas came out of them as I swung my legs in the pews. When flea treatments cease to work and the fleas need to be attacked from many angles, it is impossible to treat a house loaded with that much stuff. 

Eventually, my mother stopped making me and my siblings go there and came up with alternative childcare arrangements. Probably after pressure from functional people. The woman had a domineering personality and my mother, at the time, when her mental health started to fail, was an “anything for an easy life” sort. The woman dominated my early childhood. 

Obviously, that isn’t the only instance of bad hygiene I’ve come across over the years. 

Gross men trying to kiss me is another thing that really gets to me. 

Apart from the serious over-stepping of personal boundaries and general sexism and objectification that occurs, it is bloody disgusting if they haven’t brushed their teeth. The minefield that is online dating has turned up more than a few smelly men. 

False nails are another thing that gets to me. 

They look nice, if they’re kept clean. Underneath can harbour all sorts of nasty little surprises, especially if the woman wearing them don’t wash their hands. 

Anything that becomes a breeding ground for mould or bacteria really gets to me. I know my house isn’t the tidiest of places but beneath all the clutter, it is clean. I simply put the clutter back after everything has been disinfected for lack of storage and having a young child. 

In terms of actually basing characters on people, it does vary. Seth is entirely made up, but as that was the piece I handed in for my degree, I’m more of aware of the influences of his creation than other characters. I was incredibly drunk and recovering from the flu (great ideas of the young and hopeful lol) and listening to Mayhem to drown out the sounds of a party of two from my boyfriend at the time (Miserable Prototype Hipster) and his friend, while I caught up on some university work. A few writing exercises had been given out during my absence. One of which was to write from the pov of someone of a different gender. Another was the pov of someone of a different sexuality. I think I went a bit overboard in Seth who is a bit of a manwhore; he doesn’t consider himself gay because he sleeps with women, but only sleeps with them if these women look like his roommate, Terry.

I’m a bit of a prude so I guess I got the “different” part correct in creating a character very different to me. His obsessive nature comes from other people’s characters, like Gollum (Lord of the Rings) or Roland (The Dark Tower). His split personality could be Susannah (The Dark Tower) or could be me trying to work out what was wrong with my mother. The decline of her state of mind had sped up and I would read all sorts of psychology websites trying to work out what was wrong with her to get her, and the rest of the family, some much needed help. So, although made up, Seth has all these different elements to him. I don’t know what influence Mayhem had because I was so drunk. I can see a physical resemblance between Seth and Euronymous and Terry and Dead. I’m sure it made sense at the time. If interested in Seth, the first draft of the first section is up on my website now as I show no signs of finishing that this year and mention it all the time. 

With Reptile, out now from JEA, although a prude myself, I’m opened minded and as I write about sex, people from various communities would talk to me about it. 

In this case, BDSM. 

In a post-50 Shades world, the BDSM community was becoming overrun with lost souls thinking 50 Shades was what BDSM was about. It isn’t. It drove away a lot of people actually into BDSM, who would then complain to me about it. I didn’t see it as very fair. I did base characters in Reptile off these descriptions and people who I knew who behaved in similar ways. The basic lost souls, attention seeking variety, it didn’t have to be about sex. There was a time in my life when I would have to read the Daily Mail and the comment section of the Daily Mail to develop these characters. Reptile marked the change, I had met enough lost people in desperate need of a social worker that made it no longer necessary. 

With Sparky the Spunk Robot, TBP, I created the neighbourhood based on the people who wouldn’t let me pursue my dreams. There isn’t anyone in particular that stands out. This goes back to when I returned to live in the UK at the age of 16 and still had ambitions of becoming a doctor. That one is a bit more personal, although I’ve never played, nor have any intention of playing a keytar. It is a fictional version, with added body fluids, of what I’ve been trying to say for years. I find it sad when people give up on their dreams to work a job they hate. I refuse to conform, no matter how much proverbial shit is thrown at me. 

 

2) I know you are often referred to as The Queen of Filth, but I was wondering is this a title you came up with yourself, or did somebody else first give you this nickname? 

 

My now ex-boyfriend came up with the name. There’s a few writers with the name Dani Brown already (possibly because Dan Brown has used Danielle Brown). I needed to be different from the other Dani Brown’s. He added Queen of Filth. I’m not sure he understood the Cradle of Filth reference when he did it. I get the occasional Cradle of Filth fan looking for the other Dani Filth. We also have crossover fans. I bought the teeshirt, not because I like Cradle, but because of the name. One day, I will post Cradle of Filth links to my page. 

 

 

3) Having read both Broccoli and Night of the Penguins, I was just curious, what genre would you say your writing best fits into? And who would you say is your target audience?

 

I think it depends more on the book. Night of the Penguins, I consider to be horror and target the horror market with it. It is also the book I recommend people start with. From there, if they message with what parts they liked, I can point them in the direction of what other books of mine they might like. I will, one day, put this up in a big section on my website but it is going to take a long time to put it together. 

I have a lot of unpublished things and a lot of fragments. I write in every genre, except fantasy. That has more to do with a bad memory than anything else. With my sex writing, it leans more towards porn-lit and away from romance subgenre, erotica, with the exception of my erotic bizarro.

I’m not going to rule out writing romance though. 

Broccoli, who knows? That has a bit of everything, except sex. 

I have trouble writing sex from a gender neutral pov

Stuff like Stara, I would call extreme horror. 

There was a review of My Lovely Wife which addressed it as brutal torture porn, I think that is fair. I write what I want, pretty much when I want to write it. I prioritise based on deadlines and when slush piles are open for publishers I would like to work with. This year’s writing is lined up to be a year of extreme horror, body horror and experimental (cut-ups and chance, hopefully with some sounds and samples, etc). Next year, I would like to get at least another section of Seth done, I consider that to be porn-lit. 

 

4) Tell me about your writing career so far. What are some of your other titles, how did you first start writing, and what made you decide to write the kind of stuff you do?

 

I graduated with a first class degree in Creative Writing from the University of Bedfordshire in 2008. As already mentioned, I handed in Seth for my final degree piece. I could have done experimental writing, but lack of equipment to do it the way I wanted prevented it. And the desire not to step on the Miserable Prototype Hipster’s toes. He would have been upset if I handed in something that could have been marketed as an industrial album for my degree. I spent that summer in the USA, trying to finish Seth, but the people around me caused some stress. I was an adult and did not want to be told what to do, especially if a little short- term hardship would prevent extreme hardship in the future. 

Upon my return to the UK, I had my son and started to write Broccoli when the contents of Seth were used against me. I also continued work on the text of my main experimental piece, The Panda Says No (a massive found cut-up, put together by chance with role-playing dice). Unfortunately, after my son was born, I fell seriously ill and was in bed for about six months. After a long-term illness, the risk of depression is very high and I kept falling asleep over my writing (it was still another year before I returned to normality). The doctor sent me outside for gardening and on a low-level writing course to prevent more illness. My immune system was still letting everything going around in. Gardening, a small child and being sick didn’t leave much time for writing. I started to network during this time. But on top of my health problems, I was living with someone with borderline personality disorder. Every time I would feel good after not sleeping during the day and accomplishing a bit of writing, he would take it upon himself to follow me around the house shouting about how I should do something else. Writing, as with a lot of things, has a very delayed gratification. It is years before it begins to pay off, unless you are very lucky or know someone. I wasn’t either of these things. I’m one of those decide on one thing and stick to it people though. Eventually he moved out. Still interfered with my life though, in telling me what to do. That seems to be common in Britain though, as he was the first in a long line of many people doing it, which didn’t create good conditions for writing. 

 Eventually, I wrote My Lovely Wife and found a publisher for it. Middle Age Rae of Sunshine followed shortly after, but not without a bunch of proverbial shit (there’s author notes for both of these on my website). After the proverbial shit being flung at me while writing Rae, I was left in a state of shock and in therapy. 

From there, I kept my head down and wrote an awful lot. 

It was the only thing that kept me sane. 

I also started to consciously include stuff from life in my writing. I didn’t do many interviews. I guess I was shamed and embarrassed over what happened to me. In order to include anything from my life in the interviews, I would have to jump back to a brief bit of time between the ages of 12/13-15/16 when I had some stability in my life and more nice people around (kudos to my childhood friends and the new friends I made along the way for sticking around through all the horrible people). Just wrote, had it published. Went to the day job, looked after my little boy. Eventually, it all started to pay off, in I had a voice and could finally get out a bit

People were starting to respect me. 

In that time, I had Reptile and Dark Roast published by JEA and Stara published by Azoth Khem. Welcome to New Edge Hill and Toenails were published by Morbidbooks (who also published My Lovely Wife and Rae). I had a lot of short stories published. I wrote things that have yet to be published. By the time Night of the Penguins and Broccoli happened, I was booked in for Liverpool Horror Con and giving interviews. I was getting out and doing the things I have been waiting years to do. Although I’m always in fear of another Rae-style shitstorm, I’ve come far enough now and have enough proof of what I’m doing to be confident that people will lay off me a bit and if they don’t, there’s other people out there. 

My most recent published book is 3 of a Kind. Three stories in one book. With the publication of this, I started to post author notes on my website. I didn’t realise how much people cared about these things until I started getting asked questions about where my ideas come from. It was following an incident at Thanksgiving 2017, cumulating Christmas 2017, that I decided to be a lot more open about what had happened to me as it was impacting my writing. It is still too early to say how supportive people will be. As I’ve mentioned Hot Tinder Guy in previous interviews (and numerous times on my website), would say to me “honest and open” and although he never made it to be a part of my life physically, I carry that with me. 

I didn’t start writing fiction until I started the creative writing degree at university. 

Until then it was all journalism and essays. It wasn’t really until my second year that I had any confidence in doing so. I was off sick, as usual (or sometimes, my mother wouldn’t let me physically leave my bedroom, but in this case I was off sick) and in bed. After a few days, I was still too unwell to get out of bed but I could sit up and write. I was stuck for ideas for an assignment and started looking around my room for inspiration. A copy of The Chronicles of Narnia stared back at me. I wrote a story, a dark story, about talking animals and a plague. I received very positive feedback on it. That’s when my confidence grew and I knew this was what I wanted to do. My American grandmother tells me she always knew I would be a writer. An old friend got in contact through facebook and said she always knew I would be a creative. 

 With the vivid and sometimes relentless descriptions in my writing, this can be traced back to Seth. I think I was trying to get around using a penis and between reading Lord of the Rings so many times (Tolkien really knew how to describe things), I would start writing it and writing it, until it seemed right. I still do that. 

 Most of my stuff either starts off as a line, an idea or a song lyric (misheard or otherwise). Sometimes, the original idea doesn’t make it into the final story. With Night of the Penguins, it started off as wishing the overpriced water bottles at the zoo I worked at would turn to blood, but before any of the awful customers noticed. I’m guessing I had watched a documentary about Biblical plagues as I fell asleep. Something very basic. Water into blood. And I built a story around that. Based in the zoo, because that’s where I wanted the water to change. I drew in more elements from the zoo. The animals. The general creepiness of the place when customers weren’t around. 

 Ketamine Addicted Pandas, TBP, started again with a basic idea. Murderous pandas. A picture of black metal band Immortal graced my Facebook newsfeed. Not to insult Immortal’s corpse paint, but they do resemble pandas. So I have black metal pandas. Pandas in a zoo in Norway. They like dance music. Let’s give them some party drugs. Ketamine is a horse tranquiliser, non-addictive and probably not strong enough for a panda. And that is Ketamine Addicted Pandas. It draws on black metal, which is always fun because I’m not sure if those guys know what the truth is, so there’s thirty-odd years worth of rumours to work from and dance music, because why not? And where there’s black metal, there’s Satan and Nazis (or rumours of Satanism and Nazism). Dance music brings its own rumours. 

 Stef and Tucker, not yet published, is based on misheard song lyrics. Once I finish one of the stories, I look up the song to see how wrong the lyrics I came up with were. 

 Broccoli. My mother’s over-cooked frozen broccoli being squeezed out of pimples. 

 While drunk at a party, not like this is that common of an occurrence, I blurted out Sugarbabes only sing about masturbation. Way, way back, when I was in college, one of their songs was on the radio at least once per hour and when recently trying to describe Gary Numan to my sister, I used one of their other songs to do so. The Sugarbabes were pretty fresh in my mind. Proceeded to write it on a sheet of paper and arrived home with that paper in my bag. That’s going to make an interesting story. I’m guessing the story itself has been working its way from the back of my mind since hearing the same damn song once per hour on the radio all those years ago, long before I could write. I haven’t written about a pop band yet. Although Stef’s wife in Stef and Tucker is based on a pop singer. I think it is going to be my ‘angry’ story, like Stara was. And just write scenes of torture. Then put in a story around them. Then merge the two so the torture doesn’t stand out. 

 My Lovely Wife was a line, “I had to have her…”

Rae, I detail on my website. 

 Toenails, I wanted to write about something gross and horrible after trying to write about something pleasant. 

 Dark Roast started with genetically modified plants and vines. 

 Welcome to New Edge Hill, I can’t fully remember. I think I came up with the idea while the Rae-shitstorm was occurring. 

 Reptile, a young woman slicing into her stomach, instead of blood pouring out there’s beads. 

 Stara, nightmares about pro-life abortion propaganda. 

 God’s Fleshlight was trying to perfect Gingerbread. Both to be published. A woman was using Anton LaVey to bully me. I have those books too. I should probably re-read them at some point, but I read them a long time ago and only vaguely remember them. LaVey was a man with a sense of humour. I remembered that. And he was a bit gross, probably not as bad as Crowley, but I’ve never made it through anything by Crowley. 

 

 

5) What difficulties have you faced as a writer, and what would you say is the hardest part of writing a book?

 

What difficulties? I detail these on my website. I get a lot of proverbial shit flung at me which instead of allowing me to write and do something constructive with my life, takes my attention away from everything except whatever is happening. I have mental health related problems from it. All I want to do is write and raise my child and support myself. That’s a bit too much to ask, I guess. 

I wish I could say something like the hardest part of writing is motivation or similar. But it isn’t. I have endless ideas. I have no problems getting out of bed (unless I’m sick, but I have notebooks piled next to my bed just in case). It is, for me, literally, getting people to back off and let me do with my life what I want to do. I don’t see what business it is of anyone else’s anyways. So, I work a crappy day job so I can pay more attention to writing. I’m not the only creative who makes that sacrifice. I would rather try and fail, than not try at all. What is the point in life if I give up and arrive at my death bed without ever having tried? The trying is fun. Or at least, it would be, if people would back off. 

 

6) What advice would you offer to any potential writers out there?

 

Just write. Don’t wait for the right time. The right time is now. Don’t have the time? Bring a notebook with you everywhere. Instead of letting your eyes glaze over glancing at your phone, write. Eventually you’ll have a story. It might even be good. It might need a lot of editing. But it is your story. The more you write, the better you’ll become. 

 

7) Considering the kind of stuff you write, where do you find your inspiration? And bearing in mind the general tone of your writing, is there anything that actually turns your stomach and makes you feel ill? And is there anything you are particularly afraid of?

 

Inspiration comes from everywhere. I have answered some of this already in the interview, without realising it. At risk of repeating myself, I’ll say something not yet touched upon. If I have a vague idea, or not even an idea but see something I find amusing, sometimes I’ll message back and forth with a friend. And eventually, an idea will be born. I’ve done this to develop a character based on Hot Tinder Guy. As my dating history is littered with musicians, I like to google them. I need to make sure they have their own equipment, are who they say they are, can function in the music world without me, etc. His actual google search was boring. One hundred per cent work related. His google image search was so interesting, I had to message my friend with pictures. The guy had lost a lot of weight. But there weren’t any pictures of him being between overweight and underweight. The first story I did on him, although I didn’t realise it at the time, was The Practicalities of Body Swapping with a Slimmer Man, which is in 3 of a Kind (out now from Morbidbooks). The notes are on my website. 

Pretty much everything turns my stomach. I’m squeamish and prude. The worst though, that would be body fluids. Blood makes me faint. Poo and ear wax come in at second, in I don’t faint but I do gag. Vomit and cum are in third place (I flinch and my stomach bubbles a bit). Phlegm and snot in fourth (stomach bubbling)Pee being the least offensive to me. It is probably why I can describe all these horrible things in gross, vivid detail. 

I don’t like seeing videos of real life violence, or reading stories of it. I used to watch crime documentaries when I needed to murder a characterbut I have enough deaths now that I no longer need to. 

 Due to my mother’s mental health issues going from her mid-life right until the end, and being surrounded at times, by people with mental health illnesses or personality disorders, I tend to read a lot about these. I like to understand people and have a general idea of where they’re coming from when they say or do something. Instead of saying such and such a character suffers from anxiety, it is better to describe anxiety in the course of the narrative. Descriptions of any mental illness can be found with a quick google search and looking under symptoms. Same with personality disorders. Side effects of prescription drugs. Health problems. Diseases. Always go with the symptoms. 

 As I seem to have a habit of dating musicians with borderline personality disorder, a lot of my characters have symptoms or are musicians. Sometimes both. 

 ,I am absolutely terrified of bees, wasps and hornets. It is winter, so the can of Raid I keep with me has been put away. This is a fear that goes back to childhood. I detail that and other childhood fears in a previous interview, which can be obtained from the press and pictures section of my website, under 2017 interviews. 

I’m also pretty damn terrified someone is going to come along and tell me what to do with my life, or implant themselves into my life somehow. When that happens, the people are really difficult to get rid of. I’ve detailed it in the notes for Rae on my website. It does leave a lasting practical impact upon my life as well as the mental impact. Less work done when I’m dealing with all of that, means more debt and being pushed back. It means I can’t get out and make up for the life I missed out on growing up or give my child the things I didn’t have. This sort of thing took ten years of my life (only considering post-degree, it took more in delaying my education) already, I want it to stop happening. It has stopped for now, but I’m so nervous about it, that I’m not the person I should be. I want to move forward with life, not back. I don’t see why people think that because I’ve had a bad childhood and past, that I can’t move on with my life and have a future. 

 

8) What are your plans for 2018? Where do you see your career going next, and what can we expect to see from you this year?

 

2018 will see the publication of a Dual Depravity with David Owain Hughes. Two authors, two novellas each,in one book. God’s Fleshlight and The Previous Plastic Surgeon are my contribution to this. It will also see the publication of Ketamine Addicted Pandas. I have notes for a sequel, if people want another one. I have other things out on slush piles now. Including Sparky the Spunky Robot. 

 In terms of what I’m writing. I have some very extreme, very sick horror planned. I come up with my ideas for the year in the autumn of the previous year. I also have some weird things planned. And it might be the year, I write something a bit more accessible and traditional in terms of horror. Although that is what I plan, sometimes, when I go to write the story, it turns out entirely different. 

 I would like to see a return to my experimental writing. I need to see what equipment I can get for this. But for now, until I can get a new computer, it’ll be just text as I get used to putting together cut-ups again (I do this manually, I know some people use programmes for it). 

 I won’t be writing as many short stories as I normally do. 

Life has calmed down enough for more novels andhopefully a return of my short-term memory. I wrote a lot of short stories at the end of my creative period in the summer. Those will be coming up for publication and should last well into next year. I will write a few. I enjoy writing them while I cook. 

 It would be nice to write another section of Seth. I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it this year. I want Seth to be the next thing I self-published. 

 

Dani Brown’s books can be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Dani-Brown/e/B00MDGLYAY/

And her Facebook page/ website can be found here: facebook.com/danibrownbooks. https://danibrownqueenoffilth.weebly.com/

Or follow her on Twitter here:  @danibrownauthor and Instagram here: dani_brown_author

 

Thank you once again, Dani, for taking a little time out of your busy schedule to talk to me about your work, and more reviews of Dani’s work will be appearing on this Blog over the next couple of weeks so please, watch this space…