The Process

A common interview question for authors is “Do you have a writing process?” This refers to the little things we do or incorporate into our routine in order to be productive in our writing. It’s fascinating because every writer is different, and some have some pretty weird shit they need/do to keep the creative juices flowing.

Christian: When I write non-fiction, yes. I write down all the main points I want to make in order, then do the necessary research and piece the whole thing together like a puzzle. That’s more of an exact science, and there are formulas to follow.

But when I write fiction, none at all. I generally wing it. I don’t know what works for other people, but I hate routines. Too stifling. I think when you try to pour creativity into a bottle is where it all goes wrong. I set targets like word counts and make sure I hit them. That’s about it.

Liam: Yes. I call it “daydreaming on paper.”

Michael: Early morning pottering, tea, radio, social media, i.e. the time-sink – get it out of the way, chores. Sit down to work at ten. Stay until 1pm lunch and news. Two hours in the afternoon. Pleased if I make 1K words. End with a ‘To do’ list for the following day. Weekends are spent editing or critting in the SFF Online Writing Workshop, which I thoroughly recommend.

Katrina: I write things on a bunch of dry erase boards like a big crazy, ignore most of them, and draft in Scrivener because I like how fancy it makes me feel.

Steve: Panic. Write. Repeat.

Renee: I do not have a process. I want one, but I can’t settle into a writing routine long enough to develop one.

So, there you have it. Some of us have a very distinct “routine” we like to follow when writing, and some just work with what we have when we get the urge to write. What about other writers out there? Do you have a process? Any weird shit you have to do or have to have in order to be productive?

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What’s in the Dead of Night?

By C.M. Saunders

Last year, after the rights to Apartment 14F, one of my earlier novellas, reverted back to me, I was finally able to polish it up and put out the version I wanted to. Now, I am giving the other book published by Damnation Books the same treatment.

I haven’t read this story for years. I don’t tend to go back and read stories once they’ve been published. It’s partly because I see writing as a continuous process. I’m a better writer now than I was eight years ago when Dead of Night first came out, and I’m probably a better writer than I was last week. But I have to say, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

From the double-meaning title to the cheesy one-liners and OTT violence, Dead of Night probably represents my first shambling steps into splatterpunk territory. It’s one of the first things I wrote that had a female protagonist. And no, it’s not because I’m sexist. I just didn’t think I would be able to write a strong female character convincingly. It took me a long time to realise that well, men and women aren’t very different after all. For this story, I thought I’d turn the usual set of circumstances on their head and have the gal saving the guy for a change. During the course of the story I grew very fond of Maggie.

I found the story flowed quite well, there weren’t many grammatical errors, and I was happy with the overall pacing. The only thing that lets it down is the fact that in some parts, it’s pretty dated. It’s been almost a decade since I wrote it. At the beginning, I had Maggie and Nick Arguing over what CDs to play in the car. Do cars even have CD players anymore? I suppose some still do. But for how much longer?

Dead of Night is packed full of pop culture references. Music, films, books. In the first version the dead celebrity Nick and Maggie discussed in the beginning was Michael Jackson. Since then Prince died, so for the reboot, Prince gets the nod. I always preferred his music anyway. There was a period in the second half of the eighties when he was untouchable. MJ does still get a name check, though, and I gave Meatloaf a nod by nicking one of the lines from ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ (I’ll probably get sued for that). I even slipped in the phrase ‘motley crew.’ Proud of that one.

If you’re a connoisseur, you might catch some of the movie references, too. The ‘Romero’s zombies’ one is easy to get, and the whole Nick losing a hand thing is a thinly-veiled homage to Evil Dead. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also makes an unlikely appearance.

In a lot of my stories I drop the names of Cardiff City players, past and present. It’s kind of an in-joke nobody fucking notices except me. Steve McPhail and Jay Bothroyd are definitely from the past. I was going to update them, but then I decided it wouldn’t make much difference. McPhail and Bothroyd are still great players and deserve their place in history.

Reading it back now all these years later, though I might not have been aware of it at the time, Dead of Night is clearly a tribute to the King of splatterpunk, Richard Laymon. I even use the word ‘rump. ’ If you aren’t familiar with his work, the joke is that he used ‘rump’ A LOT. At every opportunity. A couple of times a page. It was one of his trademarks.

Perhaps the hardest adjustment I had to make when I knocked out the original version was that I had to write it in ‘American.’ I rarely do that. The vast majority of my stories are set in places I have lived – Wales, England or China. However, because the story is about American Civil War zombies, this one had to be set in America. There was no way around it. I have visited America, but never the Deep South where the story is set. Some artistic license was used there.

I found a couple of continuity errors, even after two rounds of editing by the publisher. That sucked. I had my happy couple hiking several hours to their camp site, then ‘nipping back’ to their car to grab hoodies when it got cold. That was improbable. Perhaps even more improbable than the other stuff going on. Oh, and I know guns probably wouldn’t still work after being in the ground for 150 years or so but fuck it, I wanted them to work so they did. It’s my story.

Finally, I added about 1000 words and inserted more line breaks. I originally wanted to tell the story through two POVs simultaneously, flashing back and forth from one to the other. But of course, that’s extremely difficult to do without head-hopping all over the place, so line breaks it is.

All things considered, I’m pretty happy with this reissue. The book has been out of print for a couple of years now, apart from a few ropey second-hand paperbacks floating about on Amazon. It’s an important part of my back catalogue, and I’m glad it’s finally available again.

Dead of Night is out October 1st on paperback and ebook.

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Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMSaunders01/

Or visit my blog: https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/

Online Obsessions: Sites We Can’t Live Without

Christian had this idea that you guys might enjoy knowing a few of our favorite things. Maybe he was wrong, but we’re going to tell you anyway. This week, let’s discuss the website we can’t live without.

Peter: It sounds crap but probably Amazon; I order almost everything I buy from there as I don’t like going out (mostly books and booze).

Christian: Wales Online, for many reasons. I travel a lot, and it’s the best way to keep in touch with things that happen in Wales where I am from. No other website, not even their own, has as much Cardiff City FC coverage. Other than that, I love the wacky news stories they publish, because Wales can be a pretty wacky place. Just the other week, they ran a headline, “MAN ADMITS HAVING SEX WITH HIS TERRIERS, TAFF AND BEN.”

I just love how they gave us the names of the dogs just to, er, ram the point home.

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Renee: You guys can be all “I don’t rely on social media,” snobs or whatever, but I’m just going to say it: I love social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. First, they’re a marketing tool, but second, they’re entertaining and (sometimes) informative. I suppose I could live without them, but I’d be really sad about it. Also, Netflix. Does that count as a website?

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Steve: I used to be such a big fan of Cracked, but these days they’re not as fun as they used to be. I was a serious fan, and the two articles I had published there remain some of my proudest writer achievements. Man, I was a fan boy. There’s was the only forum I frequented, and I’d check them every day religiously. I even had dreams where I’d meet up with the writers. Silly, I know, but that’s how much I loved the site.

They were recently acquired by a larger media company. They jettisoned many of my favourite writers, and steered harder into building readership over building audience. A little bit of my stake in the internet eroded that day, I’m not ashamed to say.

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Liam: I managed to live without any of them for a good while… but I tend to check out what’s going on “behind the wall” at homebrewforums.net several times a day.

Tony: I suppose Yahoo, since that’s my email and I see a lot of the news there. As apps go, Instagram is what I usually check rather than FB. It’s like Playboy back in the day. Just show us the pictures.

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Mike: On British radio there’s a long standing series called Desert Island Discs where minor celebrities discuss six discs they would take with them, interleaved with episodes in their lives. At the end of the programme they have to choose which one of those six discs they would have to take, choose one luxury, and one book other than Shakespeare and the Bible. So, in this context, there is no website I couldn’t live without assuming Google and Bing were a given like Shakespeare and the Bible. And I have my doubts about them – as I do all electronic knowledge. I bought the ‘Complete Works of Edgar Wallace’ on Kindle, and compared its contents with my own battered pulp library of Wallace. There’s one political thriller full of, now laughably, racist comments at the expense of the Chinese. It was written during the ‘yellow peril’ phase in our history. Guess which book wasn’t included in ‘The Complete Works of Edgar Wallace.’ Thing is, who are the guardians, the gatekeepers of websites?

Katrina: Twitter. Like most people, I have an addiction to social media. But since I am old and like my social media to come with a side of intelligent conversations, Facebook and Instagram can fuck off.

Okay, Kittens, now’s your chance to steer us toward something new and wonderful. What’s one site you can’t live without?

Halloween Sales!

 

Happy almost Halloween, kittens! This is just a reminder that we’ve got some sales happening in honor of Halloween, because we all know it’s the best of all of the holidays.

First, get Renee’s horror/thriller tales, BAYOU BABY, IN THE BONES, DIRTY TRUTHS, THE LEGEND OF JACKSON MURPHY, and SMOLDER for just 99 cents each from October 27th to November 1st.

Steve Wetherell’s SHOOT THE DEAD, as well as selected titles in the Authors and Dragons’ SHINGLES SERIES will be 99 cents each as well from October 27th to November 1st.

CM Saunders is having a sale on his X series, so X: A COLLECTION OF HORROR, X2: ANOTHER COLLECTION OF HORROR and X3 are all 99 cents from now until the first week of November.

So, make sure you all get in on the deals!

So, Let’s Talk about Why You Didn’t Like My Book

Wouldn’t we all love to ask a reader that? Especially those one-star jerks who leave NO EXPLANATION AT ALL? Yeah, you guys suck. In case you’re wondering, here’s one question we’d ask readers who didn’t like our books. Except Michael, who has to make sense and be rational all the time.

Michael: I have no questions. He or she has bought it so have every right to opine.

Katrina: There was one reviewer who couldn’t believe ALL DARLING CHILDREN was published because apparently it was so bad that anyone who okayed the publishing was obviously stupid. I’d probably ask her what put her in such a bad mood that she needed to be so horrible. It wasn’t as if she was criticizing any one or two things; she was just being shitty.

Christian: What’s wrong with you? Are you some kind of fucking dunderhead? Hello? McFly?

I’m kidding. I have no idea what I would ask them. If someone doesn’t love you, you just have to accept it. You can’t make them love you. Bonnie Raitt was right. I tried that before and ended up with a body buried in the garden.

Steve: “The fuck’s your problem, jack? Got a small penis or something?” I was once drinking with a friend who asked this question to a particularly petulant doorman. The question got his nose broke in answer, but it was worth it, I think. (Although it wasn’t my nose, to be fair.)

Liam: “Hey, if your favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, what in hell are you doing reading my stuff anyway?”

Renee: Where did I lose you? How can I get you back? Please love me!

Just kidding. Seriously, I’d want to know what it was that turned them off. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of they didn’t like it and there’s nothing I can do about it.

So, basically, when leaving reviews, don’t be mean. If you have to be mean, at least explain where the author went wrong, so that they never make the same mistake again. Let’s turn this around now. Readers, what’s one question you’ve wanted to ask an author about a book you hated? (You don’t have to name names or books, just put the question out there and maybe you’ll get an answer.)

Book Review: The Outsider

by C.M. Saunders

 

the outsider

Title: The Outsider

Author: Stephen King

Website: https://www.stephenking.com/

News of this release first broke back in August 2017 when King let something slip during a USA Today interview. Constant Readers then had to endure an anxious 10-month wait until they could get their grubby paws on physical copies. In fairness, it was worth the wait.

The Outsider starts almost like a police procedural, quite reminiscent of the recent Bill Hodges trilogy, when an 11-year old boy is found murdered and mutilated. However, things soon take a supernatural turn when it transpires that the chief suspect, the man who was identified by eye witnesses and left DNA evidence at the scene, was apparently in another city miles away at the time of the murder. What’s more, he can prove it. This, understandably, throws a spanner in the works and leaves the local law enforcement in a bit of a quandary. It’s an impossible crime, kinda like a locked-room murder, SK style.

At almost 600 pages, The Outsider is a pretty substantial addition to the Stephen King library, both literally and figuratively, and keeps up his recent hot streak. It illustrates his usual mechanism of juxtaposing the ordinary and the extraordinary, or in this case the possible and the impossible, seamlessly. As evidence for both sides mounts and opinions shift, you can’t help but feel for poor Terry Maitland, the well-respected cornerstone of the community who is accused of such an unthinkable crime. As ever, King’s character-building is exemplary, and his attention to detail unparalleled. Unusually, the premise is both outlandish and unnervingly plausible as it builds towards a shocking climax.

Somewhat predictably, it was recently announced that The Outsider will be shortly be produced as a TV mini-series, much like The Stand. On the face of it, the Outsider seems like perfect TV fodder.

dead-of-night-reissue

Dead of Night, the new novella by C.M. Saunders, is OUT NOW!

Young lovers, Nick and Maggie, decide to escape the city to spend a romantic weekend camping deep in the idyllic countryside. The excursion begins well, but soon degenerates into a maelstrom of terror when one of them comes face to face with a centuries-old civil war soldier. Together, the couple flee into the wilderness, but soon find engaged in a mortal battle with a group of long-dead Confederate bushwackers.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a story of extreme horror and is not suitable for children.

And don’t forget to visit his blog!

 

 

 

Favorite Things: Musical Edition

Christian had this idea that you guys might enjoy knowing a few of our favorite things. Maybe he was wrong, but we’re going to tell you anyway. This week, let’s all share our favorite album (music, for you young folks like Katrina who aren’t aware that such things are still in some people’s vocabulary). For many of us, music is crucial to getting in the right head space for writing, so finding a whole collection of songs that make us happy is pretty important.

Christian: I’m a rocker at heart, so I’m going for Def Leppard’s Hysteria. It’s just the perfect album. Sometimes the best works of art are born out of adversity, and this album certainly was because drummer Rick savage lost his arm in a car accident prior to recording. Twelve tracks, seven singles and 25 million sales, it epitomizes eighties garishness and excess and Mutt Lange’s production means it still sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released over thirty years ago. A bit of trivia: at over 62 minutes, at the time it was one of the longest albums ever released, which is why it sounds like shit on vinyl.

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Katrina: What is this? The early aughts? We don’t do albums anymore. Songs. Podcasts. Hooks. Bits of words with a little bit of electro playing in the background. (None of which I can name without saying “You know, that one that goes dun-dun-duh and then there’s this weird high-pitched scream?”)

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Renee: They call them albums here and here and here. Just so you all know, we’re not old. They’re still albums.

Katrina,

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Anyway, can I have a top three? Well, I’m going to do it anyway. I love Hysteria, which Christian already mentioned, but it’s not a favorite. Although, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Animal and Love Bites are among my favorite songs (a list longer than my favorite books), my top three favorite albums are movie soundtracks. The first, obviously, is the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack. I listened to that thing back in the day a million times. I actually wore the tape out. (Yes, I’m old enough to have listened to cassette tapes.) The other two are Cocktail and Footloose. There isn’t a single song I don’t like on any of these albums, which I can’t say about anything else.

You all thought I’d say Nickelback, didn’t you? *sniff*

Tony: I haven’t thought about albums in a while. Nowadays it’s stream a Pandora channel and forget about it. I have to reach back to think of a favorite album and the one that first comes to mind is Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast. I was a big heavy metal guy in high school and listened to Iron Maiden pretty much nonstop. Today I’ll stream the blues when I write, occasionally Beastie Boys. But Iron Maiden, on the rare occasion. I can’t remember where I put my keys but I still know the words to The Trooper. Go figure.

Liam: Hmm. This depends on the genre, but if I really have to choose only one… I’d have to go with The Complete Recordings of Robert Johnson, with David Bromberg’s My Own House as a close second, in a dead tie with Dervish, Live at Palma.

Peter: Couldn’t honestly say, I rarely listen to anything other than generic radio nonsense in the car.

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Mike: Tough one. Again, let the reader choose. Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Hardin/Highway 61 revisited/ Blood on the Tracks/ Street legal/ Desire, Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter, Sticky Fingers, or Exile on Main Street.

Steve: Death to the Pixies. I know it’s gauche to select a ‘best of’ compilation as a favourite album, but hear me out. It wasn’t easy building musical taste before the internet. I had to hop on a train if I wanted to find interesting albums, and we had all of maybe two radio stations dedicated to new music- which back then was mostly the Spice Girls on repeat.

I ended up snaffling through the discarded tapes and CDs of my older siblings, slowly working out what I was supposed to like, and what I actually liked. Stumbling onto the Pixies was a revelation. Something about the manic emotional ambivalence, and the silly seriousness of it. It had a timeless, kind of grubby sexual vibe that I still to this day associate with awkward-but-rocket-fuelled teenage libido. For a while I was flying solo on the pixies- they were a difficult act to sell to my friends who were all about the Deftones or whatever, but when they came back with Death to The Pixies, suddenly they were everywhere, and I was very briefly cool.

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What do you all think? Good choices? If not, please, point us in a direction. Wow us with your recommendations for best album ever.

 

31 Days of Horror

If you’re a horror writer or reader, October is the best month of all the months, because it’s all about the scary. We love it so much, we wanted to do something awesome, so we came up with a giveaway (stole the title/idea from Peter Blakey-Novis, but he’s okay with that).

So, what is our 31 Days of Horror about? Well, every day in October, we’ll be giving away books to at least one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is share from our Facebook page, on Twitter (Tag a Doll, please, so we know you shared. We’ve added twitter handles at the bottom of the post.) or share this post.

Once you’ve shared, your name is in. If you don’t win on the first, don’t fret, your name is re-entered for the second, and so on. That means just one share gets you in every single day, whether you win or not. Two shares gets you two entries, but only one share per day, per person counts, because we don’t want to annoy people. You share every day? You got 31 entries by October 31st, you awesome thing.

What are we giving away? Well, Renee made this nifty calendar. It’s a work in progress, so as more titles are available, we’ll update.

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So, that’s e-books and paperbacks. Renee has a stack of paperbacks from some kickass dark fiction authors left over from a previous promotion she needs to unload, so you guys win!

Twitter Handles, Facebook Pages (feel free to like and/or follow us as well) to tag when sharing:

Deviant Dolls – @deviantdollspub, Facebook

Renee Miller – @reneemj, Facebook

Christian Saunders – @cmsaunders01, Facebook

Katrina Saete (Monroe) – @authorlady22Facebook

Steve Wetherell – @afistfulofsteve, Facebook

P.J. Blakey-Novis – @pjbn_author, Facebook

Michael Keyton – @BaffledSpirit

Liam McNalley – Facebook

And it all begins NOW. First winner will be announced on October 1st, via Twitter and our Facebook page. Good luck and Happy Halloween!

 

October’s Deviant News and Books

 

We’ve got a few new books coming in October as well as some cheap Halloween reads and FREEBIES!

First, get ready for C.M. Saunders’ newest release, a reissue of “Dead of Night” on the 1st of October.

dead-of-night-reissue

 

Young lovers, Nick and Maggie, decide to escape the city for a romantic weekend deep in the idyllic countryside. The excursion soon degenerates into a maelstrom of terror when one of them comes face to face with a centuries-old civil war soldier. Together, the couple flee into the wilderness, but soon find themselves engaged in a mortal battle with a group of long-dead Confederate bushwackers.

 

It’s available for pre-order now so get it.

 

 

PJ Blakey-Novis has some exciting news for October as well. First, the October issue of Indie Writers Review will be a special Halloween issue. Keep your eyes on the Facebook page to get more details on that.

_11 October 2018

And he’ll be celebrating 31 Days of Horror, in which he promotes some fantastic horror novels and authors all month. We’ll be sure to share that with you on our Facebook page, but you should also follow Peter’s page for news and future promotions. AND, as part of the celebration, Deviant Dolls be giving away some Halloween reads (ebooks and paperbacks) EVERY SINGLE DAY in October, which include Deviant Dolls authors, as well as a few other horror authors we admire and think you should check out.

As we mentioned in July and August, Renee Miller released Eat the Rich, with Hindered Souls Press. In the coming months, the audio book will also be available. Renee’s story “The Cartel” won Deadman’s Tome’s The Meat Grinder contest in August. You can still read it, so go on over and while you’re there, check out the latest contest entries.

On October 16th, Unnerving will be releasing Renee’s chilling horror novella, “Stranded” and “Licking the Devil’s Horn,” a collection that includes Stranded, as well as Church and Cats Like Cream.

Six contestants pair off into three teams of one man and one woman as part of a pilot season for a new reality show called Stranded. The challenge: Survive thirty days in a hostile and brutal environment for a chance to split a half-million-dollar prize.

Victor, the show’s creator, chooses the northern Arctic as the first location, but after a single day, his mistake is clear: They are not alone.

Their presence awakens a relentless and unforgiving predator that feeds on greed, lust and fear.

In this game, the lucky ones get to die.

“Renee Miller has crafted a brutal tale of monsters and madness, one that will make your blood run cold. Perfect for fans of THE THING, STRANDED is arctic terror at its chillingly scary best.”

—Michael Patrick Hicks, author of BROKEN SHELLS and MASS HYSTERIA

 

And look for her erotic horror story, VIRTUAL HEALING in Lycan Valley Press’s GAME OVER: BLACK BOOK SERIES VOLUME 2 in the very near future.

Finally, we’ve got some sales happening in honor of Halloween, because we all know it’s the best of all of the holidays. First, get Renee’s horror/thriller tales, BAYOU BABY, IN THE BONES, DIRTY TRUTHS, THE LEGEND OF JACKSON MURPHY, and SMOLDER for just 99 cents eadh from October 27th to November 1st, and get Steve Wetherell’s SHOOT THE DEAD, as well as selected titles in the Authors and Dragons’ SHINGLES SERIES for 99 cents each as well.

That’s all for now. Keep your eye here and on our Facebook page for your chance to win during 31 Days of Horror. Here’s a taste of what we’ll be offering:

e-books

by C.M. Saunders

X

X2

X3

Sker House

Human Waste

No Man’s Land

Apartment 14F

Out of Time

In the Dead of Night

By Renee Miller

Cats Like Cream

Church

Eat the Rich

Stranded

By PJ Blakey-Novis

Embrace the Darkness

Tunnels and Other Short Stories

The Artist

Paperbacks

Sugar Skulls by Manual Tapia

Syphon by A.A. Medina

The Monkey’s Penis by Steve Wetherell

Licking the Devil’s Horn by Renee Miller

Splish, Slash, Takin a Bloodbath by Eddie Generous, Mark Allan Gunnells, and Renee Miller

 

We’ll be adding more very soon. Stay tuned

Aleister Crowley Meets Elizabeth McBride

by Michael Keyton

Every book has a life changing moment. There are four in The Gift. 

Lizzie ran, unsure of the consequences or whether she meant to. She ran, veering right over cobbles and tramlines until tall, more substantial buildings enveloped her. She imagined she heard her aunt’s penetrating shriek and ran all the faster, hurling herself into Lord Street and crashing into a middle-aged man who held her and laughed.

“Who are you running from? Have you stolen something?” He sounded amused.

Lizzie struggled in his arms. “Get off me. Let me go!”

He lifted her up so that her face was inches from his. She smelled tobacco and a sweet underlying fragrance that made her feel sick. His eyes, brown and compelling, bore into hers. “You think I will hurt you in a crowded street. I am not going to hurt you, and you are not going to run away.” His eyes confused, hard like glass, and a moment later drawing her into a brown swirling ocean.

He put her down gently and squeezed her left shoulder. “Now why are you running? I want to help you, Lizzie.”

“How do you know my name?”

He seemed surprised. “You fight back. Good. Now, you think it unfair that I should know your name. Well then, my name is Aleister Crowley, and we are on equal terms.” He shook her hand but didn’t release it. “So tell me who you are running from?”

From the end of the street came a high shriek. “Lizzie Tobin! Come here this minute.”

“That’s not my name,” Lizzie hissed. “It’s McBride. Lizzie McBride.”

“ McBride, a fine name. Do you want to go with her?”

Lizzie slumped at her aunt’s approach.

“Do you want to go with her?” Crowley insisted

“No. I hate her.”

“Hate can move mountains. Wait here. Don’t move.”

Crowley released her hand and moved, blocking her from Aunt Joyce.

“Will you excuse me, sir? Lizzie, come here at once!”

He bowed. Lizzie imagined him smiling, imagined his eyes. His voice was soft and she knew he was going to betray her. “I caught her just now. A wilful girl, if you’ll allow me.”

“I’ll allow you, Mr…?”

“Crowley.”

“Crowley. She is most wilful. Most wilful indeed. The sooner we’re at sea won’t be too soon for me!”

“It’s a pity they cannot be trained…like dogs.”

Lizzie tried to run but her legs wouldn’t move. She watched Crowley bend lower as though whispering something intimate, and then her aunt drop on to all fours, barking madly and turning her head as though guarding a bone. Pedestrians stopped, some forming a loose circle around the deranged woman, and Crowley looking almost as shocked as them. Lizzie began laughing and at once her legs regained movement. Then she saw Uncle Jim, hovering uncertainly at the far end of the street.

Crowley reclaimed her hand. “I think we should go now… Did you enjoy that?”

“I did. I did.” Lizzie felt guilty but she had enjoyed it. She wanted to turn back and see more. Was it bad to hate someone so much – her own mother’s sister? Her smile faded.

“Don’t feel guilty or sad, Lizzie. Those two things will kill you.”

 

There are many subplots in the Gift Trilogy, the most powerful of which is the slow but remorseless decline of Aleister Crowley. Born in 1875, he is a charismatic twenty-seven year old when he bumps into the fictional Lizzie McBride on a Liverpool Street.

crowley 1

 

Aleister_Crowley,_Golden_Dawn

Explorer, mountaineer, poet and magician he was approaching the height of his powers, and there are stories of him talking to otherwise sensible men, who suddenly and without warning, fell to all fours and began barking like dogs. He was associated with unexplained deaths and certainly destroyed the health and sanity of women who succumbed to him.

aleister crowley middleaged hat

 But even ‘the wickedest man in the world’ could not go on for ever.  Magic, black or otherwise, and the corrosive effects of drug taking on an industrial scale, wreaked havoc on Crowley’s mental and physical health, so that by the end of World War II he had become an amiable, doddering shadow of what he’d once been.

crowley old

To some an object still of veneration, to others a source of ridicule and perhaps disappointment.  I like to remember Aleister Crowley as he’s first introduced in the book, and not what he’s reduced to in ‘Blood Fall,’ the final book of the Trilogy.

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