Wednesday, 19 April 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 02: “A Day in the Life of Horror”

So, THE INFERNAL CLOCK has been out a couple of weeks now and it’s been doing pretty damned well.

A collection of 24 horror tales, each fitting snugly into its hour slot on the devils clock, the anthology was the brainchild of twitter regular and 50% Father of Flashdogs, David Shakes. Available now on Amazon in both futuristic e-book and classical paperback.

As an added bonus, you can head on over to ‘The Infernal Blog’ and check out interviews from the collective contributors, and get an insight into the authors that gave their blood, sweat, and tears to this most awesome of projects. And find out which foods we all hate (seriously, these are in depth interviews!).

Aaaand, if that wasn’t enough, below is an added, added bonus as I delve into the making of DELAYED, my entry for the anthology that sits in the shadows of 6am.

WARNING: spoilers for DELAYED follow (duh!)


When David’s idea exploded on twitter last year, I was extremely happy to be allowed entry among such a revered group of writers. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that I’d taken a bite out of a genre that I wasn’t normally comfortable in.

I’ve never really been drawn to horror. I’m the guy that waits for the scary movies to hit DVD so that I can turn the sound down and have the bright sunshine over for company. I have never read Barker, or Herbert, or Jackson, so reproducing their chills and frights would be difficult.

But I have read (and enjoyed) Stephen King, and more recently his son Joe Hill. And they do horror in a way I can identify with. A horror not of the slasher style (like Myers or Krugger). Their stories are of the human horror and of everyday objects or situations twisted and evil.

I didn’t want to mimic King (sacrilege), but it was a starting point.

I’d avoided the time slots I assumed would be snapped up, and instead settled on 6am without really thinking about it. Looking back now, I’m so glad I did. I can’t think of another idea I could have done in any other time of the day.

Now, to me, 6am is the start of my day. It’s when I get up, before anyone else in my house. It’s discovering on the news which new horrors have beset the world. And it’s when I say goodbye to my wife and son and hop on a train that takes me two stops to my place of work.

Right now we’re heading into summer and the mornings, though still a little chilly, are becoming gorgeous. But Autumn and Winter can produce some very creepy vibes as I stand on the platform, waiting for my train to arrive. The foggy glow of platform lights. The distant sounds of the world waking up. The electric charge as trains, unseen in the darkness except for that blinding light, ride the tracks closer and closer.

It was one such morning when my story began to form.


The basic plot came quick. I wanted a character who done something bad in his past, and I wanted that character to get on a train in the cold, dark, early hours, and never reach his expected destination.

Peter appeared almost fully formed. In fact, he literally hit the ground running. It comes a little later in the final piece, but the scene where he’s running for the train was where his journey originally started for the both of us. I saw him as an overweight, lazy, tardy, idiot, and that’s what I got. He’s a friendless screw up.

The next thing I worked on, after getting him to the station, was the train ride itself. I tried several things; from and out-and-out spooky ghost train rushing past and ‘grabbing’ his soul, to Peter getting on an ‘earlier’ train (much to other commuters shock) and falling into another realm, to a train over a train, a dimensional slip if you will (that’s still in there, that moment where Peter feels a little sick, while no one else gets on board).

Gareth was there too, in the early drafts. He started as an old best friend, before turning into the bully. In fact, in the second draft, Gareth was a mean sonofabitch from the off. It was only after a few more rewrites that I gave him a softer edge in the present day. He became a man on a mission, and less the bad egg he used to be.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing.


The thing I had the real trouble with was that train accident. Originally the train aspect was only the setting. But as I went on, I decided to make a better reason why events had to take place on a train, I had to link the accident from the past to the form of punishment Peter was about to receive.

So I hit Google and looked into train accidents. I considered using real life ones at first, and picking something really dramatic. I had Peter as an older guy, and made him a signal man who had neglected his post. I then changed it to put Peter on the train, but that made it tough for him to survive (without turning into Bruce Willis in Unbreakable).

I constantly found myself tangled. So I did what has worked for me in the past; I took a break.

I was several weeks later that I returned and two things happened that solved my issue. Some more research led to the discovery that a mere coin on a rail track is enough to derail a train. I was also perusing my books to find my next read when I stumbled onto Stephen King's DIFFERENT SEASONS (specifically STAND BY ME) and had a spark that solved my accident in the past.  


And so another rewrite commenced. It was so close to being done I could taste it. But, like several King novels, while I was happy with 80%, the ending irked me a little. I just couldn't tell why. It was short, sharp, and had Peter being thrown from the train into a stereotypical infernal abyss.

My wife agreed that it was rushed and not in the same quality as what had come before. But it was all I had. Was I just going to have to accept it as was?


So I turned to fellow FlashDog and awesome author Liz Hedgecock for a second opinion. She agreed with me that it wasn’t right, but it was the last few words of her comment that seeded a new and improved idea in my mind.

I found this bit quite incongruous with the rest of the story - it feels medieval and Biblical, whereas the rest is contemporary. It seems not quite a fitting or appropriate end for Peter - thinking of ancient hellish punishments like Tantalus and the grapes, where you're tortured by the thing that sent you to hell in the first place. I was expecting something train/crash related. -Liz Hedgecock (27th July 2017)

Liz had hit the nail on the head. While I had linked his ‘crime’ to the mode of transport that would carry him to his punishment, shouldn’t the punishment also reflect this? Of course it should. So all I needed was a suitable threat to end on. Enter another King inspiration; Blaine.

I’m a massive fan of The Dark Tower, and Blaine the Mono is a truly insane creation. The thought of a maniacal engine barreling down a track evolved into a monster of a train and a Peter trapped and forced to run the rails forever and then some.


And that’s that.

I’m proud of all of my published stories to date, both the anthologies and the Flash contests, but this one is my favourite yet. For starters is the biggest piece I have out there, but also, the process was a great journey. And I’m grateful to Liz Hedgecock for helping me over that final hurdle (seriously, go check out her books - at the rate she publishes, there should be a million titles to chose from by the time you finish reading this).

Go and buy INFERNAL CLOCK, and read those interviews.

And then go write some horror yourself. Or what ever genre you normally avoid. It might produce something great.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 01: “Indie Author releases”

I’m back.

Not in a proper way. Not formal. Not with my own book out.

But this week is so full of cool news that I just couldn’t hold back.


So I mentioned last year about the birth of an awesome project from the mind of one man and his tweet.

David Shakes came up with the idea for a new anthology, one a little different than we’d all worked on before. This time he wanted Horror, and he wanted stories short, and he wanted 24 of them.

Within an hour of his initial tweet (how fitting), 24 slots were booked up by us eager authors. The plan was to give each author a 1 hour time slot within which to set their haunting tale in. Thus the book would contain a 24 hour period of hell.

And so THE INFERNAL CLOCK was born. David roped in fellow authors Tamara Rogers (fantastic cover), Emily June Street (fantastic formatting), and Steph Ellis (fantastic editing) to help bring his idea to fruition. 

The book is available now in amazon both as e-book (£2.40) and paperback (£9.98).

My story, DELAYED, is included; a piece I’m extremely proud of. I don’t normally write in the horror genre; I don’t read much of it either (outside of Mr King). But I wanted to have a go, and I’m grateful that David let me. I read through the piece a few days ago, and it’s the first time I’ve read a story of mine some time later and not hated it, or wanted to go all George Lucas on it. Either I’ve learned to accept a story as complete now, or I’m getting better as a writer. Or both.

So, if you like horror stories, if you like short stories, or if you just like supporting talent, then head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy today.


In other publishing news, one of my favourite indie authors, Craig Anderson, has released the third and final book of the Lucky Beggar trilogy.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that Craig was the author who pulled me into the world of Flash Fiction. It’s because of the path that he set me on that there exists actual books’ containing my stories.

His first book, GETTING LUCKY, was the first e-book I downloaded onto my first ever e-reader. It was pretty self-contained and well written. Then out of the blue came the sequel, as well as information that it was part of a trilogy. LUCKY SHOT was a great follow up, but now the problem was that I expected more, I expected the finale.

Well the wait is over folks. Craig has launched LUCKY BREAK, thus completing the tale of the Lucky Beggar, and doing so with the same wit and drama as previous installments.

                    AMAZON     or     KOBO


And finally, I dipped my toes in Flash Fiction again this weekend with my story I AM A GOD. It's been a while. I've had a tough week (a trip to A&E last Friday was part of the inspiration), and I just wanted to write. It was a compulsion on Sunday night that I hadn't expected. But write I did. Scroll down further for my entry (and try not to read it in Chris Hemsworth's voice).


And that is all. Lots of good news, indie author wise.

My own project, UTOPIA FOR PAIRS (working title) is still coming along nicely, despite life really (REALLY) trying to get in my way. I’m still on course to have it out by the end of the year. The sooner, the better, but I won’t rush it out unfinished.

So until I step up to the blog again, get reading, get writing, and get publishing.

Words don't write themselves.

(Sunday, 2nd April 2017)

I am surrounded by illness.

For five hours I have sat in his sterile place, suffering in agony while watching the drunk and the drugged cause havoc, drawing the attention from the nurses and doctors.

I should not even be here.

Pain? What is pain? Something that bothers mere mortals. I am a God, and so above such things.

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

She rubs something on my forearm before sticking a needle into a vein. It hurts.

“You’re talking out loud like a crazy person.”

“And I keep telling you; I am not crazy.”

She attaches a receptacle to the end of the tube and dark red blood starts to fill it. Once she is done, she pulls it apart, screws a lid on the receptacle, and places it in a tray atop the trolley beside her.

“Careful with that. A God’s blood is the most precious thing in the universe. It can cure any illness, fill a dying man with the strength of twenty-”

“It’s not a God’s blood, it’s your blood.”

“I will forgive you for your ignorance, your people are primitive. But you must cure me so that I can return to my realm.”

“Why do you need curing? You know, if you’re a God?”

She pulls the needle out and places something soft and white over it.

“I am as mystified as you. Something has torn me from my home, and dumped me within your plane of existence. Perhaps that is why my powers do not work at the moment.”

“Course. That’ll explain it.”

“So, you do believe me!”

“Take your stuff, go around the corner, sit in chair seven, Someone’ll be with you shortly.”

I want to shout at her, to call down the very thunders of my realm and smite her. She talks to a tall man wearing a yellow vest. He gives me a look, one I have given mortals many times over the centuries.

I will bide my time then. I will wait until they fix me. Then I will find a way-

“Yes, yes. I’m going. Chair number seven.” I sit down. She’ll rue the day.