Question for the Author

What difference do you perceive between being a writer and being an author?

I’m not going to mention who asked this question but I will say it touches on a type of snobbery that I’ve never found appealing. The implication is that being an author is in some way superior to being a writer and I’m never impressed by levels of self-described superiority.

It’s the same when people tell me my poetry isn’t really poetry because it’s written to entertain and it often includes rhyme. Just because the material that someone else produces is written to be inaccessible and obscure does not mean they’re correct in describing levels in these presupposed hierarchies.  

Apparently, Truman Capote, on learning of Jack Kerouac’s habits in putting words on the page, said, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” When I first heard this comment I thought it was remarkably erudite and witty. Nowadays, I’m more tempted to think Capote was one of those snobs who believe their material is superior, and then use the club of that perceived superiority to bludgeon those whom they think are beneath them.

All of which is my way of saying, writer or author, poet or ditty writer, talent or hack: if a person is putting words on the page to a standard that they’re happy with, they should be able to call themselves whatever they want. And no one should be able to pass judgemental comments denigrating their talent.

READY TO KILL AGAIN

This is the last chance for a lucky reader to let me know that they have a death wish. Let me know if you’d like to see your name as one of the victims in the forthcoming novella, and I’ll be delighted to add your name to the draw.

Kurgan is coming soon. This title will be the fourth novella in the series of dark tales from Innsmouth and I’m thrilled with the way it’s developing. I’m revisiting old characters from the first two books and some dark secrets are being exposed in this unhealthy little seaside town.

Sad to say, there are going to be some deaths. Residents of Innsmouth, as long-term readers will know, are not renowned for their longevity. And I don’t think it helps that I’ve killed several readers of the dark tales from Innsmouth. Chris Moriarty, Lou Beecroft and Stephen Stroud were readers who died in Unearthed. David Middleton, Abigail Parnell and Emmanuel Tully were readers who died in Cursed.

So, if you fancy being slain in Kurgan (and I promise you now, it won’t be pretty), then send me an email me@ashleylister.co.uk and I’ll happily put your name in the draw.

Last year, in Unearthed, I killed three readers. Earlier this year, I killed in Cursed. Now, it’s that time of year when I’m ready to kill once more.

Would you like to see your name in print on the pages of Ashley Lister’s next book?

Are you ready to be killed off in style as one of Ashley Lister’s unfortunate victims?


Ashley Lister is giving one lucky reader the chance to be named in his upcoming novella, Kurgan.

He’s writing it right now – and wants to kill off one reader in a gory and bloody murder.

All you need to do, to be in with a chance, is contact Ashley (me@ashleylister.co.uk) and share (on any or all social media) the images and links he sends by return.

The winner, picked at random, will lend their name to one of Ashley’s new characters, who will be killed off in a gruesome and unpleasant fashion. The closing date is May 14th 2021 so, please get in touch as soon as possible.

We’ll announce the winner(s) on the publication day of Kurgan (June 1st 2021). Good luck!



Terms and Conditions

  1. This Competition is organised by Ashley Lister (“Promoter”). The Promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the Competition or these Terms without notice at any time, including, without limitation, in the event of an act of God or any other event outside the Promoter’s reasonable control. The Promoter shall notify all entrants of any such cancellation or amendment. 
  2. Only one entry per person is permitted. Each entrant must be aged 16 or over. Promoter also reserves the right to remove any entries from the competition it determines, at its sole discretion, to be in violation of these Terms and Conditions.
  3. To enter, entrants must contact the Promoter at me@ashleylister.co.uk expressing their interest to be a victim in the story. The Promoter will then send the entrant images and links for them to share information of this competition and the forthcoming title on social media.
  4. By submitting your entry form, you: 
    1. consent to the Promoter using your personal data details for the purpose of fulfilling this competition. All information will be held in accordance with the Promoter’s Privacy Policy;
    1. consent to the Promoter publishing and/or disclosing your name if you win a prize;
    1. hereby grant to Promoter a worldwide, irrevocable, royalty free, perpetual licence to feature any or all of the content submitted to the Promoter in any media for publicity and marketing purposes, along with your image, likeness, voice or name. 
  5. The closing date for receipt of entries is 14.05.2021 (“Closing Date”).
  6. The winner will be the first correct answer chosen at random by 15.05.2021 by Promoter under the supervision of an independent observer. The Promoter’s selection is final and no correspondence shall be entered into. 
  7. The winner shall be notified via email by 21.05.2021 and must respond accepting the prize via email within seven (7) calendar days of receipt of the foregoing notification email from Promoter. To accept the prize, the winner shall be required to provide to Promoter a release of the use of the winner’s name and consent to the use of the winner’s name in the publication, advertising and/or promotion of Ashley Lister’s next novel, in any editions or revisions thereof, in any languages and formats and in any medium throughout the world. If a selected winner does not accept the prize via email within seven (7) calendar days of receipt of the notification email from the Promoter, the Promoter may select another winner.  Any winner that is not qualified to enter the competition shall be disqualified.  The Promoter is not liable for any inability to contact with any entrant due to errors, omissions or inaccuracies in the contract details provided by an entrant on an entry form or due to technical problems preventing the Promoter from obtaining accurate contact details, including, without limitation, any acts or omissions by any third party service provider. 
  8. The prize is the use of the winner’s first name as the name of a character in Ashley Lister’s next novel. The Promoter and the author reserve the right to change or modify the winner’s first name (including, without limitation, the spelling of the name) for purposes of inclusion in the author’s next novel at their sole discretion.
  9. The prize is non-transferable, no money alternative is available, and no part of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions. The prize not valid with other offers.
  10. The Promotor shall have no liability for any losses or damages which may be suffered by an entrant (or any person claiming under or through the entrant), whether the same are suffered directly or indirectly or are immediate or consequential, and whether the same arise in contract, tort (including negligence) or otherwise howsoever, but Promotor does not exclude liability for:
    1. death or personal injury caused by the negligence of Promotor
    1. fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation; or
    1. any other liability which cannot be excluded by law.
  11. No forbearance or delay by either party in enforcing its rights shall prejudice or restrict the rights of that party, and no waiver of any such rights or of any breach of any contractual terms shall be deemed to be a waiver of any other right or of any later breach. If any provision of these Terms and Conditions is judged to be illegal or unenforceable, the continuation in full force and effect of the remainder of the provisions will not be prejudiced. None of these Terms is intended to confer a benefit on, or to be enforceable by, any person other than the entrant or Promotor.
  12. These Terms and any non-contractual obligations arising out of or in connection with these Terms will be governed by English law. The courts of England shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any dispute arising out of or in connection with these Terms.
  13. Any questions, comments or complaints about this competition, or to obtain the name of the winner, please send an email to me@ashleylister.co.uk with “Kurgan Competition” in the subject heading.
  14. By entering into this competition, you agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions (and by any other requirements or limitations set forth in promotional materials relating to this competition) which may be amended or varied at any time by the Promoter.

Dark Tales from Innsmouth

Dark things are afoot in Innsmouth. There are ghosts. There are cults. The dead are being summoned from their graves and the living are divided into those who suffer from this chaos, and those who encourage it. Each of these novellas can be read as a standalone title telling a complete story. Together, they’re contributing to a much larger narrative that’s only intended for the bravest souls.

This series has been a wonderful learning curve for me. The fourth book, Kurgan, is due to be released on June 1st and I’m confident there will be another two stories after that to complete this particular series.  Not only am I very pleased with the stories (and I’m working hard to make sure they will all be available as audiobooks) but I’m delighted with the responses and reviews they’ve been receiving.

As Steve Stred says when discussing Cursed, “Lister does a great job here of creating characters that really get under your skin. You want to see what happens, but at the same time, you’ve got no problem when a character meets a horrendous fate.” Discussing the same book, Reviewer Elaine Ridgway said, “I bought this book after a reading of the prologue. A wonderfully written book of short horror stories with plenty of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. I’m now going to buy the other books in this series.”

Discussing Unearthed, Steve Rogerson says on Amazon: “Yet again another quality short story from the Master tale teller.”

Fearless, reviewed by Lisa Lee on Amazon, says: “Oh. My. Gosh. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed such amazing dialogue in a story. It’s clever and dark and had me laughing and exclaiming out loud, much to my husband’s dismay. The characters and their interactions are absolutely brilliant.”

Fearless, the first of this series, is available on Kindle for a mere 99p in the UK and I’ll be keeping it at that price for the foreseeable future.

Something for the Weekend

Flesh and Blood by Caroline Mitchell

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to keep Fridays on my blog as I space where I can brag about writer friends. This Friday is no exception as I talk about the superb thriller author, Caroline Mitchell. 

Caroline is a New York Times, USA Today and Amazon No.1 bestselling author. She was born in Ireland but now lives with her family on the coast of Essex. Her thrillers have that touch of veracity because Caroline is a former police detective. She now writes full time with over 1.3 million books sold worldwide.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. Her books have won first place as best psychological thriller in the US Reader’s Favourite Awards, been shortlisted for the International Thriller Awards in New York and been shortlisted for ‘Best Procedural’ in the Killer Nashville awards. Her crime thriller, Truth And Lies is a No.1 New York Times best seller and has been optioned for TV.

Seriously, if you’ve not read any of Caroline’s work before, check out her website and meet a thriller author who you’re genuinely going to love.

Question for the Author

Which one of your books would you recommend to someone who is new to your writing?

I love this question and hate it in equal measures.  I love it because it gives me a chance to boast about my writing and share links to the Amazon pages where readers can find my works.  I hate it because I’m not able to whittle the answer down to a single title. Instead, I have to mention FOUR separate books.

If you’re wanting to meet Ashley Lister ‘the horror writer’, I’d urge you to look at Blackstone Towers.  It’s a fun novel that balances the supernatural, lots of gore and some pretty grisly deaths.  I loved writing this book and it has some very positive reviews on Amazon and in other places.

If you’re wanting to meet Ashley Lister ‘the creative writing lecturer’ I’d urge you to check out How to Write Short Stories and Get Them Published. This is a comprehensive guide to writing short stories with content that comes from fifteen years’ teaching experience, twenty five years’ experience as a published author, and all the research I put into my PhD on the relationship between plot and genre in short fiction. If you do have goals to write and publish short fiction, I know this has worked from the emails I’ve received from some very happy readers.

If you wanted to meet Ashley Lister ‘gatekeeper to Innsmouth’, I’d have to say that Fearless is the place to start.  This ever-expanding collection of novellas takes place in the fictional location of Innsmouth and Fearless is a useful doorway to get a grip on what’s happening there.

And, if you wanted to meet Ashley Lister ‘the poet’ I would ask you to check out Old People Sex and Other Highly Offensive Poems. This is a collection of bawdy and outrageous verse that is designed to entertain and offend in equal measures.  It’s not for the fainthearted but, if you’re reading these pages, I suspect you have the guts to brave this collection.

The Kurgan is Written

Kurgan by Ashley Lister

I’ve reached the key point in writing Kurgan now where the main draft has been written. What follows over the next few weeks will be a painstaking process where I remove the extraneous words, tighten the dialogue, and eradicate any lingering plot holes that my head has overlooked during the construction of the story.

I’ve said before how exciting I’ve found this story, and there are lots of reasons for this.

I think the main thing is that the whole of my Innsmouth story is now coming together. Ellie from Fearless is one of the main characters in this story, and she’s working alongside Sharon and Anjali from Unearthed. It’s good to be working with these characters again (Ellie is becoming one of my favourite characters) and I have an idea of the direction the plot will take through the rest of the series.

As I mentioned before, there’s an opportunity for readers to die in Kurgan if they want, and I’m hoping to soon have the pre-order links for this title.

Quite a Few Hard Ones

Perhaps I could have chosen a less salacious title for this post but, after hosting the Inappropriate Pub Quiz on Saturday 24th April, it now seems like second nature to lapse into the discourse of the double entendre.

The Inappropriate Quiz was my contribution to the Pub Poets online quiz nights. I wanted to do something inappropriate because I figure life is too short to be dull and boring. I also wanted to do something memorable because the Pub Poets are my extended family and I love associating with such clever wordsmiths.

To give you an idea of the content for the Inappropriate Quiz, it might be worth noting that this was the first question.

The answer to this one is FOUR because, whilst The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (the first volume of collected short stories) contains a total of SEVEN ejaculations, only FOUR of them are Dr Watson using ‘ejaculated’ as a speech tag to describe his own exclamations. The other three ejaculations refer to the mode of speech for other characters in the stories.

Some of the questions were easy for everyone:

Some of them had pictures that were completely unrelated to the question being asked:

Whilst others were simply inappropriate:

I had no idea pub quizzes could be so much fun and I’m genuinely looking forward to working on the follow-up which will be entitled ‘The Extremely Inappropriate Quiz’.  Let me know if you want an invite for when that one occurs.

HAMLET: told in FaceBook status updates

File:Facebook like thumb.png - Wikimedia Commons

I originally wrote this a few years back. A handful of (very) helpful scriptwriting students helped me to drag it kicking and screaming into the roaring 20s. And I’d like to thank each member of that team for their invaluable input.

Please keep in mind, this has nothing to do with any of my current writing projects, nor am I trying to convert anyone into becoming a fan of Shakespeare with my take on his classic play. This is seriously just written for shiggles.

(Also, if anyone does a production of this version, please let me know as I would love to see it being performed).

HAMLET told in FB status updates

Act I Scene I

Bernardo – location tagged ELSINORE

OMG. Look at that ghost.

Horatio.

STFU. FAKE. Photos or it didn’t happen. There’s no ghost. LOL.

Bernardo

There it is.

Horatio.

OMG. It looks like Hamlet’s dead dad. We should totally tell Hamlet. LOL

Hamlet was tagged in this post.

Bernardo.

Totally. Oh. It’s gone.

Act I Scene II

Hamlet

King Claudius’s speeches are so f***ing dull. Boring mofo.

Hamlet

mofo. LOL

HORATIO REACTS WITH A LAUGHING EMOJI

Hamlet

My mum is such a S.L.U.T.

Hamlet

She’s had more men under her than Fortinbras.

HORATIO REACTS WITH A LAUGHING EMOJI.

Hamlet

Laertes is leaving Denmark. Poggers. Maybe I’ll get a chance to pork his sister.

OPHELIA REACTS WITH A HEART ICON.

Act I Scene III

Laertes posted on Ophelia’s timeline:

Watch out for that nonce Hamlet. He’s trying to pork you.

Ophelia has commented:

Poggers.

Laertes:

It’s not poggers you dirty bitch.

Polonius:

No. It’s not poggers, you dirty bitch. Neither a borrower nor a slapper be.

Ophelia:

Father? What are you doing on my FaceBook? I thought I’d blocked you. And you’re a Boomer. You should be on MySpace. I swear your nosiness is going to drive me insane.

Act I Scene IV

HORATIO – POSTED FROM SOMEWHERE IN ELSINORE

OMG. Hamlet’s gone totally Ghostbusters chasing around the castle after Casper-the-ghost-dad. Ah, Hamlet. DTF.

Act I, Scene V

Hamlet

OMG. Spooky ghost stuff. It was like an episode of Scooby Doo starring my dead dad. Or like an episode of Most Haunted with real ghosts.

HORATIO REACTS WITH A HEART ICON.

Hamlet

Ghost dad sez Creepy Uncle Claudius killed him.

HORATIO LIKES THIS.

Hamlet commented on his own status:

Dude, you’re not supposed to like a status about my dad being killed.

Hamlet

Ghost dad wants me to avenge him.

HORATIO REACTS WITH A HEART ICON.

Hamlet

Killing seems a bit extreme. But Ghost Dad sez I shouldn’t bother the authorities with this. Ghost Dad sez the Gods want me to do this. Sounds legit.

Act II, Scene I

Ophelia changed her relationship status to single.

Hamlet posted to Ophelia’s timeline

WTF? Are you dumping me, bitch?

Ophelia

You’re acting like a dick, Hamlet. Of course I’m dumping you.

Hamlet

I’m a dick? You’re the one with the ‘daddy issues’.

Ophelia

Harsh words from ‘mummy’s boy’.

Hamlet

Why don’t you go and jump in a lake?

HORATIO REACTS WITH A HEART ICON

Act II Scene II

Rosencrantz has sent a friend request to Hamlet. This friendship was suggested by Claudius.

Guildenstern has sent a friend request to Hamlet. This friendship was suggested by Claudius.

Polonius has asked Hamlet a question through Goodreads

Polonius asks: “What are you reading?”

Hamlet replies: “Words, words and words. And MYOB. Sod off back to MySpace, Boomer.

Polonius has invited Hamlet to Elsinore Netflix

Polonius asks: “Do you want to see some players act a play?”

Hamlet replies: “The play’s the thing. Wherein we’ll catch the conscience of my creepy uncle.”

Act III Scene I

Hamlet

To be connected to Samaritans online, or not to be connected to them. A pox on talktalk Broadband. A pox on this muggle-fudging Hauwei.

Ophelia commented on Hamlet’s status.

FFS. All these actors in Elsinore, and you’re still the biggest drama queen in Denmark.

GERTRUDE REACTS WITH A LAUGHING EMOJI

Hamlet

Bitches. I’ve had it with women. You can all go and do one. I’m going to start going with men now. See how you like it if I do go gay.

HORATIO REACTS WITH A HEART ICON

Act III Scene II

Claudius: (via iPhone)

What a crap play. I’ve seen better acting in Hollyoaks.

Hamlet

Did it make you feel guilty?

Claudius (via iPhone)

I felt bad that I’d wasted time and money on that when I could have been watching paint dry.

I’d have been better off spending time alongside an old man like Polonius, watching his daughter and my step-son trying to have sex. But not in a sinister way.

OOPS. How the hell do you delete updates from an iPhone?

Perhaps I should cleanse my soul with prayer.

Act III Scene III

Hamlet

Just seen Claudius praying. I should have killed him whilst I had the chance.

Hamlet

I think I’ll go and see the S.L.U.T.

Act III Scene IV

Hamlet

Can’t believe my mother is such a slapper. She’s had more men go through her than the castle gates.

Gertrude

I can see your status updates. I’ll cancel your mobile account if you keep saying rude things.

Hamlet

Well it’s true. You shagged my dad. Then his brother. And now there’s a dead Polonius tucked behind your arras. Did you shag him to death?

Polonius has cancelled his FB account.

Gertrude

No. I didn’t shag him to death. You just stabbed him.

Hamlet

FAKE. Photos or it didn’t happen. In fact screw this. I’m going to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were tagged in this post.

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN LIKE THIS

Act IV Scene I

Hamlet (via Ye Olde Internet Café)

No broadband coverage in England. Duh. It’s so medieval in this godforsaken country. I’m having to update using dial-up. Will tell you all about the pirate adventures and high sea japes as soon as I return.

Horatio

FAKE. Pics or it didn’t happen. PMSL. Miss you, hon.

Act IV Scene II

Ophelia

God buy you.

Laertes

That’s autocorrect. Or she’s gone mental. Or her keyboard is f****d.

Claudius. (via iPhone)

I think she might be on the blob.

Laertes

Harsh, dude. She’s my sister.

Ophelia has cancelled her FaceBook account

Claudius(via iPhone)

It’s not harsh. Do you know how costly it is to dredge the local rivers when they’re clogged with drowned mental women?

Act IV

Hamlet set up the following event: HAMLET’S RETURN TO ELSINORE. DATE – tomorrow

The following people have accepted.

HAMLET (host)

Claudius

Gertrude

Laertes

Horatio

Fortinbras: message from Fortinbras – might be a little late.

The following invitees have not responded:

Ophelia

Polonius

Rosencrantz

Guildenstern

Act V

Horatio

ROFLCOPTER. Spent the morning in the graveyard with Hamlet. We just dug up some skulls and talked about kissing their lips but there was nothing kinky going on.

HAMLET LIKES THIS

Act V Scene I

Horatio

OMG. WTF. It’s kicking off at this party. Laertes and Hamlet are going to duel with real swords. Hamlet FTW. I hope he doesn’t get a prick in him. Well, not from Laertes.

Laertes

I’m going to stick it to you, dude.

Hamlet was tagged in this post.

Hamlet

Just like I stuck it to your sister?

HORATIO LIKES THIS

Claudius (via iPhone)

I wish Polonius was here to tell me how much poison to use. I’ve put poison on one of the swords. Poison in a drinking glass. And I’ve poisoned three out of four plates of the hors d’ouevres. Hopefully this will be enough to kill that annoying shit Hamlet.

OOPS. Didn’t mean to post that as a FB status. How do you delete from a mobile?

Gertrude

These hors d’ouevres taste f*****g awful. I’m going to try another plate.

Laertes

Ouch! That bastard stabbed me with a poisoned sword. Claudius – where’s the antidote?

CLAUDIUS WAS TAGGED IN THIS POST.

Claudius (via iPhone)

Antidote?

LAERTES has cancelled his FB account.

Hamlet

How am I supposed to concentrate on this sword fight when my opponent is dead and my S.L.U.T. mother is rolling around on the floor pretending she’s been poisoned?

Gertrude has now cancelled her FB account.

Claudius has now cancelled his FB account.

Hamlet has now cancelled his FB account.

Horatio

WTF? It’s like the end of a slasher movie in here. There’s dead Hamlet, dead Leartes, dead Gertrude and dead Claudius. I wonder if I could give Hamlet the kiss of life? I’ll just unbutton his trousers and see if that helps.

Fortinbras.

WTF! What are you doing to that dead body, Horatio?

Horatio

I’m not doing anything. I’m just trying to resuscitate Hamlet’s corpse.

Fortinbras

OK. You carry on. Stop updating these posts to FB. And I’ll see if I can resuscitate his mother. After this, the rest should be silence.

Question for the Author

Is it true you’re wanting to kill more readers?

As I mentioned in my blog post on the 12th of April I’m having fun killing off readers in these books. Once again, because I’m currently writing Kurgan, the fourth book in this series, the opportunity for someone to put forward their name as a victim is currently available.

This is genuinely entertaining and I’ve had lots of positive feedback from my victims. As a matter of fact, one of the victims in Cursed sent me an email after she started to read the book saying that I’d made her into a horrible character and she couldn’t wait for the inevitable death – I also know she thoroughly enjoyed that title.

So, if anyone reading this does fancy being murdered (and I assure you, it’s not going to be pretty) follow this link and let me know so I can put your name in the draw.

Do you want to hear something scary?

For those of you who missed the announcement on Saturday, Fearless is now available as an audiobook.  This is an audiobook narrated by the author (me) and I’m quietly proud of what I’ve achieved here. 

For those of you who don’t know what the story is about, this is the blurb from the back of the book.

Innsmouth University is a place with a sinister past and a terrifying present. 

Two brilliant students, involved in illicit and unethical practices, believe they have found a cure for fear. The unwitting subjects of their experiments are subjected to a range of horrors as the students try to discover if it is possible for any individual to be truly fearless.

I should also mention that Fearless is the first in a series of books I’ve called Dark Tales from Innsmouth, and this title has been followed by Unearthed, Cursed and (soon to be released) Kurgan.