June’s Deviant News and Books

What’s up with the Dolls this month? Well, it’s pretty quiet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have something for you.

Last month, Michael Keyton released Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980

31154185_10156148952966777_2708272631576002560_nTrollope was no deviant. He was though a writer and describes a world long gone. As such, there is much to learn from him. And if you don’t feel the urge to read all of his forty-seven books, you can read just this one. It may even persuade you to give him a go. Failing that, check out Alan Rickman’s first starring role as Obadiah Slope in The Warden – key snippets available on YouTube.

One of Trollope’s last books, The Fixed Period reveals his vision of the 1980’s; one still dominated by steam and landed power. The British Empire remains intact, ruling unchallenged in lieu of America, which has fragmented. It explains the title of this book. For Trollope, landed power and its politics controlled the future. He could not foresee—or didn’t want to—any alternative. The sci-fi aspects of The Fixed Period are risible. His exploration of Euthanasia is, on the other hand, profound.

Books on Anthony Trollope have tended to emphasise the biographical, social convention or else offer analyses of Trollope’s moral code. There has been little, if anything, written about Trollope as the literary expression of a landed society during a period of flux.

Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980 makes the argument that Trollope’s canon constitutes a profound exploration of Nineteenth Century landed society, providing insights into the cultural and political mores of great and small landowners, as well as the economic opportunities and problems they faced during a period of transformation; his characters, too, subtly illustrate the dilemmas, moral and social that so many Victorians encountered as economic circumstances changed.

Get it here.

He’s also been busy spiffing up another new release THE GIFT, which will be available on Amazon and such VERY soon.

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Born in a Liverpool slum, Lizzie McBride is the daughter of an Irish seer who dies when Lizzie is barely twelve, leaving her in charge of two younger sisters and a grieving father. When her father commits suicide, Lizzie is caught between two worlds: An aunt and uncle who decide the three orphans would be better off with them in America, and her mother, who appears in a dream and urges her to stay. Just as they are about to board ship, Lizzie runs away and her life changes forever.

Pursued by her aunt, Lizzie cannonades into the young and charismatic magician, Aleister Crowley who takes her under his wing. He introduces her to Lady Gwyneth Morgan, daughter of the richest family in Wales and sister to the flamboyant occultist, Evan Morgan. At this point Lizzie doesn’t realise she has a gift; the ability to open Hell and control its greatest demons. When the occult world discovers this, governments and powerful individuals seek her out. Only one man can protect her: the magician John Grey.

Also new this month, Tony Bertauski will be releasing The Roots of Drayton: A Drayton Chronicles Novel on June 12. Pre-order now!

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Drayton can’t leave the Lowcountry.

He once believed he was a vampire when he terrorized villages and slaughtered for blood. Now he absorbs essence from the dying’s final breath and rarely stays in one place. He has been in the Lowcountry far too long.

Everything is about to change.

After witnessing an elderly man’s death, Drayton vows to protect his wife. He assumes the job of her gardener in Charleston’s historic district. But when a young woman named Amber enters the garden, he soon questions who he is protecting.

And from whom.

Drayton will finally discover why he has roamed the planet for so long. He will learn the purpose of his existence and why he has absorbed human essence all of his life. Before he uncovers his roots, he will return to his blood-thirsty days of old.

For the first time, Drayton will become the prey.

 

And in case you missed it, last month, P.J. Blakey-Novis announced the launch of Boxes of blood.

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Boxes of Blood, a new service, offers ‘mystery boxes’ of hand-picked horror books delivered to your door. Available in a variety of sizes, and including exclusive tote bags and bookmarks, Boxes of Blood is an essential service for horror readers everywhere. And with a library of almost one hundred books, and counting, no two boxes will be the same!

 

Stay informed about this awesomeness at;

www.facebook.com/horrortoyou

www.twitter.com/redcapepublish

www.instagram.com/boxesofblood

And looking forward to July, keep your eyes peeled for Renee’s weird horror novel, EAT THE RICH, which will be released by the awesome Hindered Souls Press.

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When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:

KILL EVERYONE.

And if you’ve been under a rock, you might not know that Steve Wetherell has re-released THE LAST VOLUNTEER with Falstaff Books, AND he was at ConCarolinas with his Authors and Dragons besties. For more details, and a few good laughs, check out the podcasts and the book.

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Fans of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – your long wait for a successor is over!

The fate of the world lies with one man: Bip Plunkerton.

Talentless psyentist and frequent drinker at The Empty Goat, young Bip Plunkerton will follow in his father’s footsteps as a Volunteer…footsteps that have yet to return from the wilds of the wide world outside.

Traverse the harsh weather of the formidable Ice Plains, navigate the Boiling Sea, and suffer the ravaging heat of the Bone Desert. Bip’s impossible task, continually thwarted by the semi-corporeal Mr. Random, is to warn the rest of the world of the coming doom of the Massive Ball of Death hurtling through space.

Will the last volunteer be any more successful than the first? Will Bip save planet Bersch from a fate set into motion millennia before?

Probably not, but we can likely drag this question out for a couple more books, though. Right?

Finally, Renee and Christian were both included in Digital Horror Fiction’s new collection, DIGITAL HORROR FICTION VOLUME 1.

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Inside you’ll find Renee’s horror story, WHERE THERE IS LIFE and Christian’s bloody tale, ROADKILL, along with a few other pretty awesome horror authors.

And that’s all for now. Stay tuned for next month’s news, and keep an eye on our Books pages for anything we may have missed here.

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Why Dark Fiction?

So, I get curious from time to time, and I force the other dolls to play along and answer my many questions. This week, we’re all going to share why we choose to write dark fiction. (By dark fiction, I mean speculative, dark comedy, etc.)

Michael: I don’t limit myself to dark fiction, though there is darkness in all of my books. I have three ‘historicals’ in the pipeline – two set in the twilight years of Roman Britain, and one in early colonial America. In these, as with the Gift Trilogy coming out this year, the speculative part lies in the interstices of historical fact. But to answer the question why do I like dark in the first place – in my case it might be a very traditional Catholic education where there was no light without dark and Hell was a real place.

Steve: Dying is easy and comedy is hard, or so it goes. I’ve never died, so I can’t really attest to it. But, of all the many jobs comedy and fantasy has, one of them is trying to make sense of the dark. And in doing so, perhaps see the funny side.

Katrina: Because realism is too hard to write and reality is boring anyway. Some people call speculative fiction “escapist” like an insult, but I think it’s the best part about it. Why wouldn’t you want to escape?

Christian: I wouldn’t know what else to write. At least ‘dark fiction’ is a big playground big enough to get lost in. When you think about it, it can encompass almost every other genre, from crime noir to sci-fi. It overlaps a lot. I used to call myself a horror writer, then I asked myself what horror was and I couldn’t come up with a satisfying answer. It means different things to different people. Besides, I wrote a love story once and nobody liked it.

Renee: I write in multiple genres, but “darkness” is a constant element in all of them. I enjoy writing dark fiction/speculative fiction, because it’s such a broad category. You can delve into almost every genre and writing it is like an escape that allows me to go to those places we all avoid, because we’re not maniacs.  Also, I find the best characters in the dark.

Peter: I write in a range of genres, but there is certainly a darkness to each of my stories (with the exception of my children’s book, of course!), and that darkness comes in different forms. I find there is a certain freedom that comes with writing speculative fiction; an opportunity to be more imaginative with events, giving greater range to the topics that can be covered.

Liam: Because it’s there.

What about you guys? Writers and readers, why do you write/read dark fiction?

 

News and Books Coming May, 2018

This month, C.M. Saunders released X3, and it’s already picking up rave reviews.

The third collection of fiction by C.M. Saunders featuring revised versions of stories taken from the pages of The Literary Hatchet, Siren’s Call, Morpheus Tales, Gore Magazine, Indie Writer’s Review and several anthologies. Also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and exclusive artwork by the award-winning artist Greg Chapman.

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Meet the airline passenger who makes an alarming discovery, the boy who takes on an evil troll, an ageing couple facing the apocalypse, a jaded music hack on the trail of the Next Big Thing, the gambler taking one last spin, and many more.

You can pick up a copy here:
 

 

 

 

 

The promotion machine is running for this one, check out his appearances at Ginger Nuts of Horror where he talks about childhood fears:

 

 ginger nuts CHILDHOOD FEARS POLTERGEISTS, EARWIGS AND DEEP WATER BY C.M. SAUNDERS

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To celebrate the launch of his new collection of short stories author C.M. Saunders makes two stops at Ginger Nuts of Horror, here with his excellent article on Childhood fears  and with a…

 

And his interview on Kendall Reviews:

 

Horror & Splatterpunk author C.M. Saunders chews the fat with Kendall Reviews.

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C.M. Saunders is a freelance journalist and editor from Wales. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in over 70 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide, including Loaded, Maxim, Record Collector, Fortean Times, Fantastic Horror, Trigger Warning, Liquid imagination, Crimson Streets and the Lit

 

By the time you read this, his latest short story, Those Left Behind should also be live here.

And don’t forget to check out his RetView series. This month, he looks at The Evil Dead

 retview RetView #9 – The Evil Dead | cmsaunders

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Title: The Evil Dead Year of Release: 1981 Director: Sam Raimi Length: 85 mins Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich I remember the first time I saw The Evil Dead.

In May, his RetView series takes in the 1960 French classic Eyes Without a Face, a movie so depraved that people fainted when they saw it in the cinema, and so cool that a quarter of a century later Billy Idol wrote a song about it.

And P.J. Blakey-Novis has something awesome happening as well.

 

THFLo2Dc_400x400May marks the launch of Boxes of Blood, a new service, which offers ‘mystery boxes’ of hand-picked horror books delivered to your door. Available in a variety of sizes, and including exclusive tote bags and bookmarks, Boxes of Blood is an essential service for horror readers everywhere. And with a library of almost one hundred books, and counting, no two boxes will be the same!

 

 

 

Stay informed about this awesomeness at;

www.facebook.com/horrortoyou

www.twitter.com/redcapepublish

www.instagram.com/boxesofblood

As horror fans, we’re pretty excited about this and you should be too.

In case you missed it, Renee Miller released CATS LIKE CREAM, with Unnerving Magazine on April 10th. It’s collecting a few pretty awesome reviews as well.

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“Renee Miller holds nothing back in her portrayal of the twisted protagonist at the center of Cats Like Cream. Elwin is unprecedented in terms of characterization, delightfully perverse, and genuinely shocking in his crimes, and Miller’s prose punctuates those crimes with machine gun-sharp rhythm. If you like your serial killers full of personality and voracious and unapologetic in appetite, then you have to check out Cats Like Cream. “
—Christa Carmen, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked 

“Cats Like Cream is a punchy novelette featuring a real estate worker who is also a voyeuristic serial killer (aren’t they all?!). I’m not usually a fan of serial killer fiction but this tale is superb. We follow the dark path trodden by Elwin. Elwin is a vile, vile creature, a twisted, sadistic man who hides behind the curtain of his day job whilst living out his darkest fantasies. I love how Miller uses somebody working a regular job as a deranged murdering pervert. The casual nature of Elwin’s personality makes him even more twisted.” – The Grim Reader

Renee discussed Cats Like Cream, and other interesting topics, like sexy kitchen appliances and why birds are so terrifying on the Deadman’s Tome Podcast. In a few weeks, she’ll also be talking to William Marchese and Gary Buller on their podcast, Horror: with Marchese and Buller.

While all is quiet for a couple of months in terms of new books by Renee for the month of May (Eat the Rich will be released in July via Hindered Souls Press), you can get these titles for just 99 cents.

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SEX, PEANUTS, FANGS AND FUR – May 1st – 8th

 

 

 

 

 

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SMOLDER – May 4th – 11th

 

 

 

 

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MAD – May 11th – 18th

 

 

 

And finally, brand new from Michael Keyton, Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980

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Trollope was no deviant. He was though a writer and describes a world long gone. As such, there is much to learn from him. And if you don’t feel the urge to read all of his forty-seven books, you can read just this one. It may even persuade you to give him a go. Failing that, check out Alan Rickman’s first starring role as Obadiah Slope in The Warden – key snippets available on YouTube.

One of Trollope’s last books, The Fixed Period reveals his vision of the 1980’s; one still dominated by steam and landed power. The British Empire remains intact, ruling unchallenged in lieu of America, which has fragmented. It explains the title of this book. For Trollope, landed power and its politics controlled the future. He could not foresee—or didn’t want to—any alternative. The sci-fi aspects of The Fixed Period are risible. His exploration of Euthanasia is, on the other hand, profound.

Books on Anthony Trollope have tended to emphasise the biographical, social convention or else offer analyses of Trollope’s moral code. There has been little, if anything, written about Trollope as the literary expression of a landed society during a period of flux.

Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980 makes the argument that Trollope’s canon constitutes a profound exploration of Nineteenth Century landed society, providing insights into the cultural and political mores of great and small landowners, as well as the economic opportunities and problems they faced during a period of transformation; his characters, too, subtly illustrate the dilemmas, moral and social that so many Victorians encountered as economic circumstances changed.

We’ll update his books page with links and details as soon as they’re available.

And that’s all so far for May. Stop by the blog next week for a brand new post by C.M. Saunders.

 

What’s New for April? Books!

 

C.M. Saunders has been a busy, busy boy. Last month, he published a little something in Crimson Streets, and he continued with his Retro Review series. In April, not only is he continuing is Retro Review series (catch the latest on his blog), he’s also releasing the third book in his X horror collection series, X3. You can pre-order it now, and while you’re at it, get the first two books in this series for just 99 cents in April as well.

Our very own P.J. Blakey-Novis has also interviewed him for Indie Writers’ Review (Follow the Facebook page for book, review, etc. news and for opportunities to win books) and Christian’s stopping by Roadie Notes for another interview. You’ll want to check both out.

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Oh, and speaking of Mr. Blakey-Novis, keep your eye on this blog or his Indie Writers Review page next month for news about upcoming titles from him as well, including a little something called Boxes of Blood.

This month, Renee Miller released Splish, Slash, Takin’ a Bloodbath with Unnerving Magazine, and on April 10th, look for her twisted novelette, Cats Like Cream. And for the month of April, Renee’s got a little thing happening on her Facebook page. For the price of answering a question, you’ll be entered to win a digital subscription to Unnerving Magazine’s 2018 digital catalogue. That includes mobi, epub and PDF copies of all of the 2018 Unnerving releases below (not the magazine), plus a couple of more TBD titles, and/or a paperback copy of Eat the Rich, which will be released in July via Hindered Souls Press.

And Katrina Monroe fans, if you’ve been missing her lately, don’t fret, she’s been publishing a series of short fiction on her blog. The first, Liquid Innovations, Please Hold, appeared last month, and the most recent, Lost and Found, is available to read now. Stop by throughout April for more brand new fiction from her.

In case you missed it, Steve Wetherell also released brand new fiction in March. Check out his Shingles Series installment, The Monkey’s Penis. His comedic horror gem, Shoot the Dead, is also on Amazon Prime’s reading list for April (actually, its on the list now and will be for 90 days, which means it’s free for Amazon Prime members, so get on it).

Michael Keyton has been quiet, but tune in next month when we reveal May’s book news for more from him as well.

That’s all for now, kittens. Check our Facebook page for more news, and check back here next month to find out what we’ve got going on in May.

 

Peter Cheyney and I

(originally published May, 2016 by Mystery File)

I came across Peter Cheyney when I was somewhere between twelve and thirteen. A church bazaar or second hand bookshop, the memory is blurred. What remains clear is that being basically stupid and already with the propensity to read what I wanted to read, I assumed at first the book was a western ‘Peter Cheyenne’ being some kind of cowboy. When it became clear that it wasn’t a western, I put the book down convinced Peter Cheyenne was an American thriller writer.

I forgot all about him (well almost, the name having some kind of magic) for almost forty years. And this ‘forgetting’ is key to the whole story. Peter Cheyney was the most popular and prolific British author of his day. He was also the most highly paid. His curse perhaps is that he undoubtedly influenced Ian Fleming, for Bond is nothing more than a glamorous composite of the Cheyney ‘hero’. Cheyney created the template that Fleming developed, and the rest is history. Bond got Chubby Broccoli and celluloid fame, Peter Cheyney obscurity and critical censure.

John le Carre, when asked about spy books that might have influenced him as a child, gave the following response. He duly bowed his head to Kipling, Conrad, Buchan and Greene, and then referred to the: ‘…awful, mercifully-forgotten chauvinistic writers like Peter Cheyney and Co.’

John Sutherland made a similar point, referring to Cheyney’s Dark Series as the ‘high point of a resolutely low flying career.’ These two, wonderfully pithy, assessments are true to a point. They are also skewed by the cultural background and literary talent of both men.

Cheyney was chauvinistic, and no great shakes in terms of vocabulary and style, but he shouldn’t be forgotten ‘mercifully’ or otherwise. Cheyney’s success as the most highly paid writer of his time does not necessarily qualify him as a literary giant, but it does show that his work reflected the attitudes and mood of a huge swathe of the population, amplified it and played it back to them. Cheyney talked to the popular mood rather than the concerns of an educated elite. It was ‘everyman’ who bought his work in droves.

During the dark years of World War II and the austerity that followed, Cheyney’s novels were taken into battlefields, were exchanged for ten cigarettes in POW camps, and at a time when fabric was rationed, women fantasised about the glamorous Cheyney femme fatales in their satin and silks, sheer stockings, ruffles and bows. Read Cheyney and you’re reading violence and brutality set in a fashion catalogue.

For those jaded by pilgrimages to Baker Street, Cheyney provides a welcome alternative. Most of his many heroes, villains and victims live in a very small area of London. Some are unwitting neighbours, and all jostle each other on the same roads and streets, ghosts in parallel worlds. These are mapped, allowing the reader to go on his or her own ‘Cheyney walk.’

Cheyney, Behave recaptures a lost world and provides an eye-opening analysis of a popular culture we might prefer to forget. The book examines the importance of cigarettes and alcohol in Cheyney’s world, his attitude to ‘pansies’, racism, women, and the unconscious but jaw-dropping sexism of his age. It analyses the significance of Cheyney’s ‘Dark’ series in terms of war propaganda and how Cheyney accurately captured the effects of war on prevailing morality.

In his books you will find misogyny, homophobia, racism, sexism and chauvinism and, at their core, idealism and a deep vulnerability. In terms of market forces they reflect a world long past, one far different from ours but fascinating and worth understanding. Read Cheyney, Behaveand judge for yourself.

Two Ghost Stories

By Michael Keyton

 

There was, and maybe still is, a great tradition in our family of naming a son after the father. This in effect has turned us into a franchise of ‘Robin Hood and his Merry Men’ with: ‘Big John’ and ‘Little John’, ‘Big Frank and Little Frank’, ‘Big Mike and Little Mike’, ‘Big Dave and Little Dave’, ‘Big Owen’, and ‘Little Owen’ — and ‘Very Little Owen’

Very Little Owen (we didn’t really call him that) was my Uncle Owen, and his wife Pat lived close to us. I have very clear memories of my Aunty Pat, and I think something needs to be said: very young children recognise a beautiful woman well before all the nonsense of puberty kicks in. My Aunty Pat was beautiful and she died very young leaving two small children. My uncle was distraught, understandably drank a little more than he should, and sometime later took up with another woman who treated the children poorly.

One day she was found at the bottom of the stairs, scared out of her wits and claiming that she’d been pushed. Her account was quite graphic. She’d been walking up the stairway when a woman materialised out of thin air and pushed her down. The first time I heard this story I was about eight, sitting under our kitchen table attempting to turn the Liverpool Echo into a Magic Carpet with scissors and some complex origami. I remember closing my eyes, trying to visualise the scene. I wanted to pop out from under the table with a whole series of questions, but wisely stayed put. The general consensus was that it must have been Aunty Pat, coming back to protect her two children, and I remember waving my scissors in glee.

Now this, I confess is a second-hand story, though in a family Celtic through and through accepted as more probable than possible.

My second ghost story is a personal experience – and you can take it or leave it.

I was a student at the time, lodging in 17 High fields Road, Langland, Swansea. It was an interesting place, run by an ex officer in the RAF and his wife with the help of a small hunch-backed lady. Husband and Wife resented the fact that they had to take in students, and their servant was forever trying to explain away their distaste for us.

One night I woke up in pitch darkness, and there was a woman, standing at the foot of my bed. There was no colour to her apart from a generalised whitish glow. I remember easing myself on to my pillow in quiet excitement. There was no fear, just this intense excitement that something inexplicable had just occurred— was occurring —she was still there. The thought crossed my mind that it had to be a dream, so I scratched and pinched myself. Then came the fear that despite all this, in the cold light of day, I might well try and convince myself it was after all a dream. I pulled some hair— kept on staring— and slowly she disappeared. (And no, I hadn’t been drinking that night)

The interesting thing is that she came back a few months later. This time I was at home in Liverpool, and I woke up in the middle of the night to see her standing over me at the side of the bed. Again, no fear— a sense of peace— AND, possibly more significantly, instant recognition. It was the same lady. Don’t ask me how I know. Again I went through the pinching of the flesh routine; she faded a little more quickly than previously, but was there long enough for me to be sure I was awake.

I know all the quasi-scientific explanations that can explain most things away, and there are others who’d claim it was my Guardian Angel. People believe what they will whether ‘New Age’ or ‘Materialist’. My only regret is that I haven’t seen her since.

PS: For those who enjoy ‘real life’ ghost stories, ‘Bus Stop’ in Tales from the Murenger is based upon one such, though suitably embroidered. It was told to me by the brother of the bus conductor involved when I was a student working in a biscuit factory.

And, in case you missed it, don’t forget to check out ECHOES AND BONES, an anthology of dark fiction written by myself and the other Dolls. If you’re an American, you can enter to win a copy on Amazon. Live in another country? Keep an eye on our Facebook page for a chance to win.

 

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Weird Writerly Things

Every writer has a process. Even if it’s only that they write in a specific room or at a certain time of day, we all have something that helps get us in the mood. I (Renee) forced everyone to tell me one weird thing they do to get in the zone for writing. Some of the Dolls didn’t disappoint. Liam, you need to get weirder. Just saying.

Anyway, here’s what they told me. Now they know the confidentiality thing I made them sign is useless.

Liam: Just daydream and type what happens.

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Hanna: Being in nature. I usually write best outside too.

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Oh yeah, sounds great, Hanna.

Steve: Smoking cigarettes and staring at the sky was a great way to zone out and run a chapter through my head. Unfortunately it’s not a good habit, lung-wise, so I can’t recommend it in good faith.

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(right?)

Michael: Cleaning the toilets usually does it, followed by strong coffee. Either that or a tomato sandwich.

(Did you say tomato sandwich?)

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Renee: Candy Crush. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Playing a few rounds of that empties my brain of other things. I just play until I’m ready and then I write. If that doesn’t work, I take a nap, because naps are awesome.

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Katrina: Coffee and a swift kicking of everyone the hell away from me.

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(We had such high hopes for yours, Kat.)

Christian: I don’t have a weird thing that helps me get in the zone. Is that weird?

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(Yes, Christian. It’s weird. You’re weird.)