Looking Ahead…

The gloom doesn’t fully dispatch with the light. There are too many shadows to be thwarted, no obvious source except for that of the space itself. This section of the cottage seems too disjointed. Shouldn’t belong. – The Muse

I haven’t been very active on social media these past few months. I needed some time to recharge because I haven’t been too well lately, but I’ve kept myself busy and have a few things lined up for 2021.
 
I completed a novella called The Muse and submitted it to a few publishing houses. Usually I don’t bother submitting my work anywhere and go straight down the self-publishing route, but there were a few open calls for submissions that caught my eye, so it seemed like the right thing to do this time around.
 
After a few weeks had passed, a much respected publishing house within the genre requested to see my full manuscript – which was very exciting! Rejection is par for the course in this field, and I’d fully expected an initial ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ Eventually they got back to me to say they’d decided they wouldn’t be taking it on – but The Muse had made it into their top thirty out of 300 submissions!
 
So close, yet so far.
 
But hey, I’m okay with that. To be in the top ten percent of submissions isn’t too shabby at all. Got to focus on the positives!
 
If there are no takers, I’ll release The Muse myself sometime next year. It’s a claustrophobic, ghostly tale of resentment and paranoia set in the remote wilderness of the Scottish Highlands (one of my most favourite places in the world, which always makes my creative juices flow as easily as mead in Valhalla).
 
I’ve recently just got back from visiting the northwest coast. Watching stags mooch about in the bracken close by and golden eagles soar above the loch at the bottom of the garden was sheer bliss.

I’m planning on releasing an anthology of short stories next year too. These Covid times have been quite stifling, so I haven’t felt the need to get weighted down in another novel just yet. Working on shorter pieces has been much better for my motivation and concentration, so I’ve been having lots of fun with experimental short stories.
 
I’m also part way through another novella (no title as yet), which is set in a hotel in Jamaica. It’s more of a fun-filled romp than anything I’ve done before. A package holiday from hell, you could say.
 
And I’m still chipping away at the follow-up to The Cundy. It’s become a beast of a project – in more ways than one. Progress may be slow, but I’m excited about what the end result will be. Where The Cundy sets the scene and lays down the foundations for the series, The Weeper dives straight into the action.
 
Here’s hoping for good things in 2021. For now, don’t forget that Cribbins and The Shadow of a Shadow are set during the festive period, should you fancy a creepy Christmas read (or re-read) 😉 

Stay safe,

Rachael

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Women in Horror Fiction…

This year I have a new reading system in place. I started with a book by a female writer, followed by a book by a male writer, then another female, then a male… so on and so forth, you get the point 😁

I decided to do this after realising how imbalanced my reading ratio was last year (around 3/4s male). There are so many fantastic female voices in horror out there, and on reflection it seemed wholly unfair that I might unintentionally overlook some of them. So that’s why I decided to change my reading habits and make my own TBR list completely equal from here on in.

I’m just finishing up Adam Nevill’s The Reddening (which I’m loving!), and my next read is a toss up between these two beauties.

Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kroger & Melanie R Anderson

Pine by Francine Toon

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When Will I, Will I Be Famous…

Look who’s in the Whitby Gazette today!

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You can read the article HERE

AMAZON * KOBO * APPLE BOOKS * BARNES & NOBLE * GOOGLE PLAY * PAPERBACK HARDBACK
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Horror Drive-In Review…

Great start to the day! Just received an amazing review for The Shadow of a Shadow 🖤

Horror Drive In FB

You can see the full review HERE

And here’s where you can grab a copy:

AMAZON * KOBO * APPLE BOOKS * BARNES & NOBLE * GOOGLE PLAY * PAPERBACK * HARDBACK
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He’ll eat your heart, Eat your eyes…

Devour your soul, Then your lies,

He’ll make you scream, Make you cry,

And won’t let up until you die.

OUT NOW! The Shadow of a Shadow is now on sale in PAPERBACK and eBook (Kindle, Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play etc) format. The eBook version has a time-limited launch price, so grab a copy now.

THIS ONE FRONT

I created a little teaser video this week, shutting myself in the cupboard under the stairs with a torch…

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You can watch the video on YouTube HERE

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Facebook Competition: Win Signed Paperback…

Facebook TSOAS Comp

To celebrate launch day next week, I’m running an international competition on Facebook for someone to win a signed paperback copy of The Shadow of a Shadow.

If you’re on Facebook, see details HERE

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Writer’s Life: One Month in Lockdown…

Blog PicIf someone had told me last year about the mayhem that would unfold in 2020 in regards to Covid-19, I’m not sure I’d have believed them. I mean, this is like something straight out of a horror novel, isn’t it?

I’ve had trips cancelled and celebrated a lockdown birthday (a milestone one at that), and now I’m about to have a lockdown book launch!

The Shadow of a Shadow will release next week (30/04/20).

What’s it about?

In a nutshell, when a gruesome folkloric figure emerges from the shadows, stirring up old memories that were probably best left forgotten, a Dracula-obsessed woman is forced to solve the mystery of her cousin’s disappearance 16 years ago.

I’ll post links next week. 7 days and counting 🖤

SHADOW FB Banner

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Women ❤️ Horror

“It is women who love horror. Gloat over it. Feed on it. Are nourished by it. Shudder and cling and cry out – and come back for more.” – Bela Lugosi

This month is Women in Horror Month, a celebration of all the ladies, past and present, who’ve contributed to the genre – writers, actors, filmmakers & artists.

I’ve been looking to Instagram for some reading inspiration and have a growing list of female authors to try out which I’m really excited about. So far this year I’ve read three books by authors I wasn’t previously familiar with, and all of them were outstanding!

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss – The story of 17-year-old Sylvie who goes to stay at an encampment in Northumberland with her parents. The encampment is run by a professor who is interested in the area’s history of ritual sacrifice.

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc – James and Julie move to a new house to escape James’ gambling problems in the city. From the very beginning it’s clear there’s something not quite right at the new house. The prose is both stunning and haunting – very reminiscent of Shirley Jackson. It’s one of my most favourite reads of recent times.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu – Inspired by the historical tragedy of the Donner Party (many families who took a fatal wagon route to get to the west coast of America in the 1840s), The Hunger is a gruelling and terrifying fictionalised version of events. The characters were expertly dealt with and the supernatural element was multi-layered, fresh and exciting. Loved it! Katsu also has a novel out called The Deep, which is based on the story of the Titanic, which I MUST read.

Last year I read 21 books. Of those, 13 were by men and 8 by women. So I’m making things fairer this year by reading a book by a man after every book by a woman. (I’ve rejigged my TBR list, which you can see at the bottom of this post).

Do you have any favourite ladies in horror? Or know of any ladies in horror whose work deserves more love?

The past few weeks have been a total write off for my Ben Nevis training, as I’ve had a cold that’s WAY outstayed its welcome. Seriously. It just won’t go. But I suppose all the physical inactivity has made way for lots of reading time instead.

Oh, and I’m still working on my book. So cheers to me this month too, being a woman in horror and all that 😉

Rachael

2020 Reads

Currently reading:
Growing Things – Paul Tremblay

Next up:
The House Next Door – Anne Rivers Siddons
Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky
Monster, She Wrote – Lisa Kroger
I Always Find You – John Ajvide Lindqvist
Missing Person – Sarah Lotz
Kill Creek – Scott Thomas
Pine – Francine Toon
Ghoster – Jason Arnopp
The Twisted Ones – T Kingfisher
The Reddening – Adam Nevill
Come Closer – Sara Gran
I Died Yesterday – Andy Graham
The Between – Tananarive Due
The Stand – Stephen King
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Widow’s Point – Richard Chizmar
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Starve Acre – Andrew Michael Hurley
The Family Plot – Cherie Priest
Sour Candy – Kealan Patrick Burke
Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant
Hellbound – David Caffrey
Within These Walls – Ania Ahlborn

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MY TOP READS OF 2019…

Last year I read 21 novels, my absolute top picks from these were: 
 
I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist
This book was just stunning. From the premise it was hard to imagine how Lindqvist could pull this off (a group of holiday makers awake in their caravans to discover there is nothing but grass and sky as far as the eye can see), but he totally did! He created something wildly imaginative and downright scary. The characters were excellent. Lindqvist has a gift for creating a smorgasbord of game players – some who you love and some who you hate. Such a complex story that was subjective in nature and left me thinking about it for days afterwards.
 
The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements
An atmospheric ghost story set on a sheep farm in Yorkshire in the 16th Century, this one has all the ingredients for cosy wintry evenings in. Descriptions and tension-building were beautifully done, depicting Mercy’s tough lifestyle so well that I could picture myself being there alongside her. Loved this one.
 
Wakenhurst by Michelle Paver
A gothic tale of demons, madness and social injustices. Not so much a ghost story, but the setting and style reminded me of The Woman in Black. Must admit, I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Paver so far. Addictively good.
 
Night After Night by Phil Rickman
At first I found the writing style a bit jarring, but once I got used to it I really enjoyed this book. Excellent ghost story which was modern and fresh (incorporating reality TV), while weaving in a well-known historical figure and some interesting historical facts. A fun, enthralling page-turner.
 
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Three plane crashes, one sole survivor on each – all three of them children. This story unfolds from several different viewpoints, all of it utterly absorbing, believable and terrifying. The way the adult characters behave in The Three is true horror. 
 
The Terror by Dan Simmons
This book took me ages to get through, and there were times, I admit, I almost gave up. Overall, the story is massively detailed (think George RR Matin’s A Song of Ice & Fire Series). The characterisation was expertly done, especially given there were so many different characters, and the terror tremendous (and in many forms). Just when you think it can’t get any colder and the characters can’t be any hungrier, Simmons ratchets up the despair a notch. It’s an absolute beast of a book and I’m not sure it would be to everyone’s taste, but I thought it was an extremely satisfying experience and am thoroughly pleased I stuck with it to the end. Will definitely try out more Simmons. 
 
The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman
A really enjoyable fast-paced novella (just what I needed after The Terror, ha!) I liked the whole concept and style. Very nicely done.
 
The Outsider by Stephen King
King builds up a cast of believable, quirky characters as always. Love his usual dark humour and seemingly effortless style. This one kept me guessing and held my interest till the end. Definitely recommended.
 
What were your reading highlights of 2019?

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Cure for a Broken Heart?

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” – John Steinbeck

For one week The Cundy is on sale for 99p (99c). It’s a promotion that’s been lined up for a while, but one I don’t have much drive to market at the moment. So don’t worry, no hard sales pitch. If you want to grab a bargain, go for it. If not, no worries.

The Cundy is a story that inspired a lot of rawness of emotion in me. And right now it seems in some way cruelly apt. See, last week I lost my little boy.

I’ve never given birth to kids, but I adopted two furry ones (Marvin and Delilah) who I’ve always classed as my son and daughter. And why wouldn’t I? They’re clever, funny, insanely loving and have the same traits as the best kind of people. They’ve been with me pretty much 24×7 since they were 8 weeks old, respectively, and because I talk to them every day about anything and everything, they have a wide understanding of vocabulary. So much so, my husband and I have to talk using code words often. I mean, you can’t go throwing words like ‘sausages’, ‘dinner’ or ‘hungry’ about without inciting a bouncing-off-the-walls kind of excitement.

Marvin was only 8. Was taken from us much too soon. Me and him, we were autoimmune buddies. He was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease around four months after my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. But we got each other through the bad times. We had it covered. Or so we thought.

My husband and I took him to the vets with what we thought to be a stomach bug that was triggering the beginnings of an Addison’s crisis. We’d seen the symptoms many times before. We thought his monthly injection a few days early would make everything ok. Little did we know that his illness and medication had damaged his kidneys.

In the vet’s surgery last week, our world was blown apart. The vet told us that Marvin’s kidneys were shutting down. He was in a very bad way. His kidney levels were so high, they were off the chart. With no option for dialysis or transplant, we were advised to take him home and spend the night saying goodbye. It all happened that quickly.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m traumatised. Reeling with shock, numb with grief and utterly heartbroken.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Sometimes I find it cathartic to write about the bad stuff. I dunno. I’m willing to give anything a go if it’ll ease the pain.

And I wanted you to know that I’m still working on the next book (The Shadow of a Shadow). Every day’s a struggle right now though and I don’t know when it’ll be ready. Delilah takes priority. She’s grieving and sad too, and needs guidance from me in establishing a new routine, whatever that will be. I will get there though, I’ll keep chipping away at the manuscript till it’s done. In the meantime, if I’m quiet for a while, you know why.

Rachael x

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