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?

 

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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

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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.

 

Writer’s Toolbox: The Notebook

by Renee Miller

We decided to challenge ourselves to step outside our usual writing aids, methods, tools, etc., and try something that’s either new, or that’s an often-recommended thing we usually don’t use. We’re going to try said aid/method/tool for 7 days and let you know how it works for us. Does that even make sense? Not really. Let’s move on.

I chose the notebook. Back in the day, like about ten years ago, I used a notebook all the time. I had several, actually, and wrote all of In the Bones, The Legend of Jackson Murphy, Bayou Baby, and my first ever novel that shall not be named here, in a notebook. By hand. Every single one of the 80,000+ words for each was scribbled onto paper before I typed it into our ancient, temperamental desktop computer. That’s about 400,000 words handwritten. Yikes.

And then I got a laptop and I said, screw this notebook shit. Never used one again aside from when I have ideas and I’m not at home (although, I often use my phone instead of pen and paper) or when I’m editing or outlining. However, I know a lot of writers who swear by using pen and paper in early stages, so I decided to give it another go.

Supplies: Notebook (I went with the one below, because they were 47 cents at Walmart), brand new pen

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It says “Mom’s Writing Shit” so that the hooligans don’t use it for their own writing.

Day 1:

This thing is so new and white. Just smell those crisp, clean pages. I LOVE that. Ugh. I don’t want to write in it. I must, though. Got this new pen and everything. Here goes.

First entry: Ideas I’ll never use.

Filled three pages.

Day 2:

Wrote a bit of a story in my nifty notebook. Four pages, front and back. It’s kind of okay. My hand hurts and I’m hungry. Because I don’t want to take up story pages, I made a few notes in the back of the notebook. I think this is going to get confusing.

Also, watched a documentary about haunted places. Mentioned the Cecil Hotel. So, this happened…

Day 3:

Lost the notebook. Edited a finished project instead. Stop judging.

Day 4:

New notebook. Tried to rewrite the shit I wrote in the first notebook, but I know I forgot shit. Spent two hours writing beginnings and endings. Forgot how fun that was. My hand hurts again and there’s a new season of Bones on Netflix. What? I have to let these new prompts marinate.

Day 5:

Lost my new pen. Why does writing in pencil bother me so much? Can’t find a pen in this house. Kids must eat them or something. The pencil is REALLY messing with my head. It’s just not right. Wrote a couple of chapters anyway, but I don’t like any of it. Might be the pencil, though, so I’ll sit on it.

Day 5, part two: Found a pen. Wrote over the pencil stuff. Is that OCD? I don’t know. I feel better about what I wrote now. It’s a comedic horror thing, with witchcraft, creatures, sex (of course) and lots of killing. I think it has potential. I need to research and do some outlining, but I like it.

Day 6:

Found the first notebook. I must’ve put it away, because I found it in the junk cupboard. No way anyone else in this house put it there, because they don’t put anything away. And I clearly used it at some point to make note of vet appointments for the cats…

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Anyway, I did forget a lot of stuff. Day 5’s idea about the witch comedy thing is in it, sort of. I just wrote “witches, comedy, horror.” Also, a grocery list.

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Hmm. Anyway, wrote some more in the second notebook, and I’m itching to get on the laptop and “properly” start this thing. Did some research instead. Time travel is cool. I should add that to the story. I made a note.

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Day 7:

Finally, one more day of writing with my poor, cramped hands and then I can get cracking on the keyboard. I made a feeble attempt at it today. Didn’t get very far. I did list all the names I’ve ever used in my stories/books. I’ve used a lot. Going to have to get creative soon, eh? Yeah. Sigh. Of course, minor character names are recyclable, so it’s not so dire. Right? Right?!

New list: Names I haven’t used.

Conclusion:

The notebook is handy, for ideas. It’s not so handy for someone who writes bits and pieces of story impulsively and rapidly, and it’s not at all organized. I lose things constantly, as we’ve seen. If I were to use a notebook regularly, I’d need several. One for ideas, one for general bullshit like character names, and one for each story I’m working on. I’d probably lose track of one or two, so I’d end up with at least a hundred notebooks lying around. That’s too much paper for this girl.

However, it really does get the creative juices flowing, so I think I’ll save it for those times when I feel like I’ve run out of shit to write.

Any unusual writing tools/aids/tricks you’ve heard of, but haven’t tried? Which ones have you tried and would recommend?

Five Thoughts with Renee Miller

  1. If we have lived past lives, and this reincarnation thing is true, I’m kind of worried about my dog. Do we remember our past life on some level and does it affect who we are and what we do in the next one? (Actually, this would explain a lot if it’s true.) But back to my dog. Sometimes he watches me like he knows things, and I’m all “Stop that.” He doesn’t, of course. Anyway, what I’m asking is; Have I ruined his next life with the shit he’s seen?

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  1. We only know our life through our eyes. Think about that. All you know, experience, etc. is only in your head and when you’re gone, so is your truth, because no one experienced these things the same way or saw what you saw and how you saw it. And even when you write it down, it’s still never going to be the same for anyone else, because they were never in your head, so they can’t see what you’re describing the same way you imagine it. I don’t like that idea.split.gif
  2. What if we’re just a giant science experiment? Maybe we’re just something cooked up by some advanced alien race in another universe. Like, we’re not even real. This whole life, planet, everything that’s happening is just a massive virtual reality thing and when we die, it’s because someone deleted our character file or worse—because we got stuck with someone who is shit at playing video games? Is that a book? If it’s not, it will be.

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  1. Ladyscaping is my least favorite thing to do, and yet I keep doing it. Who decided women should have no body hair and why did everyone else agree?angry.gif
  2. Sometimes I think I’d like to go back in time, but only if I can control where I go and who I get to be. I’d hate it if I was some medieval tavern whore accused of witchcraft or whatever, or worse, the girl who has to dump the chamber pots or give her warty, overweight lord a sponge bath. Gross. If I went back in time, I’d like to go way back, but as a wealthy (or at least titled) person, so I would have nice things and could boss people around and then wow everyone with the things I know. Yes, I’d totally mess with that shit. Screw you, time-space continuum or whatever I’d fuck up. We’d have plumbing way earlier. Bite me, Romans. And I’d find the bitch who started the ladyscaping thing and get rid of her before she fucks us all for the rest of time. Yeah. That’s what I’d do.evil-laugh.gif

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.)

What Bugs You?

Everyone’s got something that annoys the shit out of them, right? I think sometimes creative types are a little more in tune with such things, because some of us pay a little too much attention to people and what they do. So, we thought, why not share our peeves, and then invite you all to share yours. Once a bad thing is out, it’s not so bad, right? Maybe. Here goes.

Liam: Autocorrect is evil.

(Agreed, but sometimes it’s also funny)

Steve: Publishing pet peeve – Writers who point out other writers’ typos publicly on social media (without invitation to do so). You’re laying down a gauntlet there, and you’d better be pretty fucking good before you feel you have carte blanche to call out other writers based on a typing error. And in most of the writer groups I’ve been in, nobody’s that good.

Other Pet Peeves – People who assume moral superiority for having the “right” opinion. I’ll take a brash cunt that does the good in front of them over a prick that loudly moralises from an unchallenged high ground any day of the week.

(I love it when you use the C word, Steve.)

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Hanna: Someone chewing with their mouth open, which makes me want to scream, For fucksakes, close your damn mouth when you chew!

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Katrina: Publishing-wise, when a writer is convinced they’ve nothing left to learn or refuse to edit beyond grammar mistakes. Makes me stabby.

(Like, one time I said I wasn’t making the edits. ONE TIME. Jeeze.)

Christian: (Are you all ready for this?)

1. Cunts who block me on Facebook for no reason.

eyebrow.gifFTL markets (In English: For the love markets, which pay zilch to authors)

2. Snowflake pretenders who spend a lot of time whining about how hard writing is instead of, you know, writing.

3. People who have multiple online profiles. I don’t mean pseudonyms for writing. That has a purpose. But I’ve recently learned that some weird fucks maintain multiple profiles just for the hell of it.

(We’ve contacted his doctor and he’ll be receiving stronger medication in the future.)

Renee: Oh, the list is so long. I let too much annoy me. First, I cannot stand know-it-alls, so I guess that’d fall into snowflakes who think they don’t need editing or have nothing left to learn, and moral high ground assholes, as Steve mentioned. Second, loud eaters. Really hate those. And close talkers. Mostly because they breathe on me and I hate when people breathe in my face.

Publishing: Whiners bug me. Do your bitching in private, not on social media. Kay? Thanks.

Finally, just in general, I also can’t stand sniffers. By that I mean, people who constantly sniff and snuffle. Get a fucking tissue and blow your damn nose. I think that’s enough for now.

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Now it’s your turn. What bugs you guys? Come on, share and we’ll judge you for it.

 

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Drunk Book Reviews: Cult of Kill Volume 1

by Renee Miller and Captain Morgan

So, Katrina had an idea, and we always play along. Welcome to the first edition of drunk book reviews. We plan to run a couple of these every month. They won’t be as long as this one, we hope, but you can’t make drunk people follow rules. And each review will be a podcast for now, because we sound bad enough, we don’t need you seeing the total shit show. Cool? Awesome.

In this installment, Renee drank a lot of rum really fast, and then she reviewed Cult of Kill, by Patrick Kill. Because you’ll be wondering, there are some images below that will make sense when you listen to the review. Enjoy.

 

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And, Sullivan…