The Ash & Col Podcast: The Leather Funnel

In Episode 43, Col and I look at ‘The Leather Funnel’ by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Conan Doyle is more famous for his Sherlock Holmes stories which, as we all know, follow the adventures of a hero who is driven by pure logic and material evidence. Each time Holmes is faced with something potentially supernatural (The Sussex Vampire, The Hound of the Baskervilles, etc) he finds the solution to the puzzle is grounded in the normal, rather than the paranormal.

But in this story we meet a character who shares Holmes’ incisive abilities and sharp knowledge, yet this is all directed to an understanding of the supernatural. Well worth checking out.

Release the Seagulls

Today marks the official release of Seagulls from Hell.  This is my 62nd full length title and I’m thrilled with the way it’s turned out.  As of today you can purchase this book on Kindle, in paperback, or as an audiobook. 

About the Book:

People visit Blackpool for various reasons: sun, sea, sand, sex, and seagulls. This dark and twisted story, set against a backdrop of the UK’s most famous seaside resort, follows a private investigator as he tries to locate a missing person believed to be amongst the homeless community. It’s an investigation that will bring him face-to-face with violence, torture, punishment, murder, and the seagulls from hell.

From the novel:
The sign said: Welcome to Blackpool. With a lowering thundercloud on the horizon, and the first flecks of rain coming down, the view did not look particularly welcoming. The famous tower was a faraway blimp on the horizon. The curves of a gigantic rollercoaster loomed like the curls of loose threads near the hem of a threadbare grey sky. The whole scene looked even less welcoming when a hefty spatter of seagull shit slapped across the windscreen. The guano appeared like a mixture of white emulsion with a green and yellow kernel at its heart.
Overhead a seagull screamed.
“Filthy fucking creatures,” Chris grumbled. He hit the wiper and the screen wash. For a moment the entire screen was whitened by diluted bird shit. Then the car’s single blade began to clear the mess and he was looking at the approaching town of Blackpool and telling himself this weekend wouldn’t be as bad as he feared.
“Isn’t it supposed to be lucky?” Pamela asked.
Chris said nothing. The car was a Pagani Huayra Roadster, based on the classic styling of the Pagani Zonda R. It was the sort of glossy, low-riding sports car that made heads turn when he drove past. The Nero Blackstar paintwork was something he polished every week until the vehicle was back to its usual oily lustre. A spattering of corrosive seagull crap on the bonnet was going to mean he needed to T-cut the damned thing over the next weekend or maybe shell out for a professional external valet. If that was needed, he’d be looking at a bill in excess of two hundred quid just to remove the stain from a spatter of bird shit. In short: Chris didn’t feel particularly lucky.
“Bloody gulls,” he muttered.
“But isn’t it supposed to be lucky?” Pam pressed.
He tightened his facial muscles, hoping it looked like he was giving the dizzy bitch a grin whilst he nodded. A weekend with Pam promised several good things. For a start, because she’d selected Blackpool, he knew she was cheap. Also, she banged like a shithouse door in a thunderstorm. And, probably most important for his needs, she was very, very attractive. Her hair, breasts, legs and face all seemed pleasingly proportioned, youthful, and made her strikingly similar to the stars of his favourite clips on Pornhub. If only he’d been able to mute her volume in the same way he could mute a Pornhub clip when the woman had one of those fake screeching orgasms, Pam would have been the ideal partner. Maddeningly, Pam seemed to take exception to his attempts to cover her lips whilst they were having sex. And, after he’d tried it once, she was adamant he couldn’t stuff her knickers in her mouth ever again.
Another spatter of seagull shit was thrown across the windscreen. It was a torrential downpour of seagull shit, he thought miserably. “Bastard things,” he snapped.
As they’d been driving, Chris had noticed the screech of the seagulls increase the closer they got to Blackpool. At first it had been a faraway sound, slightly jarring and a little discordant, but nothing more than a reminder that they were nearing the coast. A few miles closer and he realised he wasn’t hearing the gentle seagulls that could be heard cooing over the intro of The Sleepy Lagoon when it was played on Desert Island Discs. These were gulls that were screeching for food or territory or sex. After a while he’d wondered if he was really hearing gulls, or if he was approaching some nightmare location where babies and infants were being massacred…

Seagulls from Hell is available in paperback, Kindle or audiobook format.

The Autumn Schedule

Dee

This is Dee. She’s a pedigree Chihuahua and, in this picture, she looks worried and nervous. That’s because she’s just seen my schedule for blogging in Autumn and she thinks it’s going to be a lot.

She’s not wrong. It’s going to be a packed schedule, so hold onto your hats and I’ll explain what I’m planning to do.

Monday – this will be a book update. It will either be information about the current title I’m working on or I might share favourable reviews of something that’s already been published. Tomorrow sees the release of Seagulls from hell, so that’s likely what we’ll be talking about.

Tuesday – book review.

Wednesday – I’ll share an update on the Ash & Col podcast.

Thursday – 5 x 5 Writing Tips.

Friday – The return of the Bleeding Keyboard.

On Saturday I’ll be sending out my usual newsletter and Sunday will hopefully prove to be my day of rest. So, although I can understand Dee’s anxiety, I don’t think this will prove too much and I hope the content proves sufficient for you, regular reader.

A question for the readers

As I may have mentioned on various social media platforms, I had a lot of fun recording Seagulls from Hell. It’s currently being uploaded to Amazon’s Audible and should be available soon. If you want to hear how it sounds, this is the opening of the first chapter:

I have to admit I’m a huge consumer of audiobooks. I can listen to them whilst I’m travelling. I can listen to them whilst I’m at the gym. I can listen to them whilst I’m doing gardening or chores around the house. Because of this love for audiobooks, I’m now committed to transforming as many of my existing titles into this media as is humanly possible.

Which leads me to the question I have for you guys: which should I be recording next?

I’ve narrowed it down to a choice between two titles as the focus for my next recording project, and I’m hoping you, dear reader, can help me come to a decision. I’ve put samples of each one below and I’m hoping you can take a moment to listen to them both and then, by using the poll option at the bottom of the page, tell me which you’d prefer to hear as a full length audiobook.

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

“A clown can get away with murder.”
John Wayne Gacy, the killer clown.

Derek Turner makes his living as a psychic. But, when he makes his first genuine contact with the spirit world, it is an encounter that starts him on a pathway to holding conversations with dead serial killers.

Someone is recreating the most infamous crimes of the world’s sickest serial killers: including Jack the Ripper, BTK, Charles Albright and Ed Gein. Derek learns that it’s within his power to either profit from this situation or bring it to a needed conclusion and prevent further unnecessary deaths.

But profit can be a compelling argument.

Blending the reports from true crime stories with the lies from a professional psychic, Conversations with Dead Serial Killers explores the danger and obscenity that comes from glamourising murderers.

PayBack Week

At the end of each summer season, the staff at the Fun Park enjoy a private ritual called Payback Week. Every customer who ever upset them, every boss who ever crossed their path, every person responsible for a grievance becomes eligible for payback. This year, Payback Week will be special because there’s a homicidal killer clown with a meat cleaver patrolling the Fun Park and a lot of debts have come due.

Your input is extremely valuable to me and i appreciate you taking the time to listen and respond. I’m hoping to make a start on recording one of these in the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be closing the survey by August 22nd.

Conversations Video

The thing that few people appreciated about Ed Gein was his skill as a seamstress. Clive had sat through every episode of the Great British Sewing Bee and, whilst the finalists on that show invariably produced some nice-looking creations in the last episode of each series, and sometimes that was when they were working with awkward fabrics such as organza, pleated lace or chiffon, none of them had (yet) been challenged with creating something original from human skin. To Clive’s mind it was an injustice that everyone looked at Ed Gein’s work (the belt made from nipples, the lampshade made from Mary Hogan’s face, and the chairs, fully upholstered, in human skin) and all they saw was the Grand Guignol horror that came from murder, the desecration of graves, and the violation of corpses. No one appreciated the man for his craftsmanship and finesse with a needle and thread.

“A clown can get away with murder.”
John Wayne Gacy, the killer clown.

Derek Turner makes his living as a psychic. But, when he makes his first genuine contact with the spirit world, it is an encounter that starts him on a pathway to holding conversations with dead serial killers.

Someone is recreating the most infamous crimes of the world’s sickest serial killers: including Jack the Ripper, BTK, Charles Albright and Ed Gein. Derek learns that it’s within his power to either profit from this situation or bring it to a needed conclusion and prevent further unnecessary deaths.

But profit can be a compelling argument.

Blending the reports from true crime stories with the lies from a professional psychic, Conversations with Dead Serial Killers explores the danger and obscenity that comes from glamourising murderers.

Order your copy of Conversations with Dead Serial Killers today.

Death by Fiction

Death by Fiction

Sex, lies and murder. The aspiring authors of the Manchester Mystery writers’ circle don’t just write about these vices. They commit them…There’s been a murder at the Manchester Mystery Writers’ circle. A publisher with a sordid reputation turns up dead at their Friday night meeting. A single shot to the forehead. A cold-blooded execution. And a hotel full of suspects. It’s a major inconvenience for some. And a golden opportunity for others. The circle’s five aspiring mystery authors try to work out whodunit. A policeman, a gangster, a pensioner, a psychopath and a femme fatale. Each hopes to solve the mystery in his or her own distinctive style. The correct solution could land one of them the publishing contract of their dreams. And all of them try to unravel the crime without exposing their own torrid involvement.

Order your copy today: http://mybook.to/DeathByFiction

Tuesday Book Review: The Ash

This is the Blurb for Dan Soule’s The Ash:

Even on the day of his divorce, Constable Jim Castle just wants to get back to his family, but no one can risk going outside. Not anymore. Worse still, when the fallout starts, Jim is hostage to a gang of armed thieves in a rundown farmhouse. Their plan is simple: wait it out as the radioactive ash piles higher and try not to kill each other. But they don’t have to worry about any of that. Because all their assumptions about what caused the end of the world are about to be snatched away – like a body into the ash.

A blend of The Road meets Alien in the English countryside, The Ash is a breakneck horror ride. Another of Dan Soule’s Fright Night tales, where even if one man can face his demons, it still might not be enough. So turn the page and get pulled screaming into… The Ash.

This is my first taste of Dan’s writing and I’m annoyed that I’ve left it this late in life to find him.  He writes horror at a breakneck pace that means you don’t want to put the book down.  His characters are easy to empathise with and the situations he creates are the result of meticulous research.  If you enjoy your fiction when it’s fast-paced and exquisitely executed, you’re going to love The Ash.

Tuesday Book Review: Compulsions

As some of you may know, I write and perform the occasional piece of poetry. Some people have said that my poetry ‘stretches boundaries’ and ‘pushes the envelope’.  This is the polite way for people to say, “What the hell was that, Ash?”

I don’t mind this reaction. I write poetry to get a response and this incredulity and outrage are the responses I seek.

Donna A Latham clearly understands the audience for her poetry because, in Compulsions, she has created some astute pieces of writing that manage to combine the warm anticipation of the erotic with the cold dread of horror. Her economical use of words allows the tension to build perfectly and, as readers, we don’t know if the conclusion is going to be what we most desire or what we most fear. These poems are intelligent, unsettling and beautifully composed.  Well worth investigating.

Tuesday Book Review: Bishop

Bishop was my first novel from Candace Nola but it won’t be my last.  From the opening of the story we’re introduced to the icy cold of Northern Alaska and inserted into an eloquent piece of writing that takes us into a wonderfully well-wound plot.

There’s a theory on plot that says there are seven types of conflict in fiction, and it includes Character Vs Character, Character Vs Technology and Character Vs God.  In Bishop we’re introduced to Character Vs Nature and Character Vs the Supernatural and, in Candace Nola’s hands I don’t know which is more terrifying. 

I read this story in a single day and every second of it was thrilling. I can’t wait to read more from this remarkable lady of horror.