Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Category: Fantasy Page 1 of 2

Opening Lines: Dark Magic by Tom Williams

This week’s Opening Lines is just perfect for Halloween.
Please welcome Tom Williams, with the first 500 words of his latest novella, Dark Magic.
Over to you Tom…
Here’s a Halloween treat – the first 500 words of my novella, Dark Magic. It’s a big change from the historical fiction I usually write. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. It’s part thriller, part supernatural horror story (don’t worry, it’s not scary), and part (I hope) comedy. It grew out of an evening spent with a bunch of magicians and a few drinks and it just sort of grew by itself. It’s being published today, as Halloween seems a particularly appropriate launch date. I hope you love it.
Blurb
Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic – Black Magic – to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage – but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?
FIRST 500 WORDS
“Baby’s blood?”

“That’s what it says. Mix in baby’s blood and use that to mark the pentagram.”

There were six of them, and Claudia looked from face to face waiting for someone to say that this was a ridiculous idea. She could, she supposed, have said it herself, but it was not as if anybody would have listened. Nobody ever listens to the magician’s beautiful assistant.

In fairness, they didn’t exactly rush to agree with the plan either. When Jerry spoke, he had the decency to sound embarrassed.

“Does it have to be a human baby?”

Jerry’s role in their conjuring show was to do the tricks that appealed mainly to children. It brought in family audiences, but the other magicians secretly – or, to be honest, not that secretly – despised him. Still, Claudia thought that one or two might have taken his side here, but Daniel didn’t allow time for any of them to join Jerry in questioning his plan.

“It’s true that it doesn’t specify human.” Daniel smiled. It was an unconvincing smile and Claudia thought he did it mainly to show off his teeth. They were quite startlingly white, though marred, in her opinion, by rather over-developed canines. “But human seems fairly clear from the context.”

“Well, could we try it with something else first?”

Daniel’s smile vanished. It was as if someone had flipped a switch. Where there had been a big white smile, all you noticed now was a very square jaw and full, but rather sulky, lips. And, if you raised your eyes to his, something about his irises that made you look away again very quickly.

“It’s hardly as if the other ingredients were easily come by. We don’t want to mess it up and have to do it again.”

They were quiet at that. Claudia had the impression that they were all thinking of different things. She reckoned they would say the worst was the virgin’s tears. Despite all the tired old jokes, finding a virgin had been the easy bit. It was keeping her crying for long enough to collect a vial of tears that had been wearing on their nerves.

After a pause, long enough for all of them to remember details they would rather have forgotten, Daniel spoke again.

“Baby’s blood, then.”

There was an uncomfortable nodding of heads.

“How much blood are we talking about?” That was Tor – almost certainly not his real name but there was something about the way he looked at you if you questioned him which discouraged you from asking twice. He was an illusionist, constantly fretting about the mechanical details of his act. “And what about clotting? Are we going to add an anti-clotting agent?” Claudia remembered an illusion that involved an arm being cut off. Tor had been dissatisfied with the stage blood most magicians used and had experimented with various concoctions of his own. Claudia had never enquired as to what they were, but one had clotted and spoiled the act and…

***

Links
Bio
TOM WILLIAMS has published six books of historical fiction but this is his first contemporary story and his first novella (33,000 words). He has spent far too much time hanging round with magicians.

***
Many thanks Tom.
Happy reading everyone,
Jenny x

Opening Lines with P J Reed: Welcome to Witherleigh

Opening Lines time has arrived once more!

This week I’m delighted to welcome my friend and fellow author, P J Reed with the first 500 words from her brand new release,

Welcome to Witherleigh.

Over to you Pam…

I would like to thank Jenny Kane for inviting me onto her wonderful blog to write about my new novel ‘Welcome To Witherleigh.’

I am P.J. Reed, a multi-genre writer, from Devon. My background is in history and archaeology research which I like to use to add authentic flavours to my writing.  I have written several short horror stories, six poetry  collections, and one high fantasy novel. Most of my work is set in Devon, Exmoor, and Dartmoor and explores the darker side of country living. Welcome To Witherleigh is based on the little village of Witheridge, set on the outskirts of Exmoor. If you visit Witheridge after reading this book, you might even recognise some of the buildings described within its pages.

This book concerns a young man, Richard Radcliffe who has left the stresses of London under in order to start a new life for himself in Devon. He finds work as a church appointed playleader and looks forward to the local villagers and living life at a gentler pace. Unfortunately, as soon as he arrives in Witherleigh,he realises that something is very wrong with the village as he is pulled into an alley and warned that he will be next. He then sets out to solve the riddle of the village and to find out why the ghosts of Witherleigh still walk the streets.

This book is a paranormal, murder mystery with a dark vein of humour running through it.

The story appeared to me when one day Richard Radcliffe walked into my walk, sat down next to me, and told me about his adventures in Witherleigh.

First 500 words of Welcome To Witherleigh –

CHAPTER ONE

The car jolted unhappily through the mud-splattered lane. At least he hoped it was mud. Black and white cows peered knowingly at him through breaks in the overgrown hedge. That’s the last time I clean you until we get safely back to London, Richard thought grimly as he slowed to avoid a pair of suicidal pheasants. One stood in the road, frozen in fear, the other ran and disappeared into the hedgerows. He stopped the car and let the pheasant cross safely to rejoin its companion. He saluted the bird and watched as it ran into the lines of gnarled trees which flanked each side of the narrow road. The trees stooped over each side of the road. Their branches joined together above the middle of the lane, like skeletal brown arms twisting into each other, blocking out the late autumn sun. Richard stared at the crowding trees. There were melted faces in the lines of the bark. He shivered as a feeling of panic surged through his body.

Richard gripped the steering wheel. His knuckles whitened as electrical pulses ran up and down his spine. He swallowed and pinged the rubber band around his wrist. The sharp pain broke through his thoughts. The trees straightened, and their faces became lost in the creases of the bark. He twanged the band again. Important things had to be performed twice. Then he restarted the car and drove carefully past the sullen trees.

He had to be at the Witherleigh Day Centre by two o’clock. The ladies of the Anglican ministry were putting on a special cream tea and he could not be late.

The cluttered trees gave way to the rugged open fields of the North Devon wildlands. Undulating fields of dark green, broken by rows of hedges and the occasional windswept tree; dejected and alone amid a sea of grass.  This was a harsh land. Richard felt as if every mile nearer Witherleigh dragged him further backwards in time. He pinged the rubber band around the wrist twice. The change to a simpler life will be good.

‘It’s just what I needed,’ he whispered to himself.

He drove past a long wooden farm fence. A buzzard perched on a fence post sat so still it looked like a wooden carving. The bird flew away disturbed. Richard half-smiled.  He had never seen a bird of prey in flight and was captivated by the effortless majesty of its wings slow movement as it soared into the steel grey sky.

A four-wheel drive beeped loudly. Richard swerved back to his side of the lane, the old cars wheels squelching to a halt in the mud which ran in gulley’s along the side of the road. He let out a deep breath and waved an apology at the red-faced driver who shouted something inaudible as the Range Rover roared past him.

The little white pills were not good for his concentration levels. He shook his head. Perhaps down here he could be rid of them…

***

Welcome To Witherleigh is available to download from kindle on…

amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SVQJ6ZR/ref=rdr_ext_sb_ti_hist_1

amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SVQJ6ZR/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

***

Bio

P.J. Reed, writer of warlocks. Destroyer of worlds.

She is an outrageously eclectic writer. Reed lives in Devon with her two daughters, a rescue dog, and one feral cat called Sammy.

poetry by P.J. Reed

Flicker

Haiku Yellow

Haiku Sun

Haiku Gold

Haiku Ice

Haiku Nation

Website – https://pjreedwriting.wixsite.com/horror

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PJReed_author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/p.j.reedauthor

***

Many thanks for sharing your opening lines with us today, Pam.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Susie Williamson: Return of the Mantra

I’m delighted to welcome friend and fellow Devon based author, Susie Williamson, to my place today to share the ‘Opening Lines’ from her debut novel, Return of the Mantra.

Thank you for inviting me on your blog today, Jenny. It’s a pleasure to share the first 500 words of my fantasy novel, Return of the Mantra.

Return of the Mantra is the first in a series. Inspiration came from several years living in Africa, the Sudan and South Africa. From the extraordinary sights and sounds of Khartoum, to the rural townships of South Africa, I amassed a complex mixture of experiences. The colours of the social and geographical landscape stayed with me, and Return of the Mantra became a refuge to recreate these colours in a fictional context.

Living among local African communities, with drumming, prayer and ritualistic chanting the norm, magical realism didn’t feel too big of a stretch. Together with extraordinary African wildlife, the concept of the book, complete with its magic system, was born. From the outset I strived for a fantasy story that didn’t feel too much of a leap from the world as we know it, and, since its release last year, I’ve come to think of the story as a kind of elaborate rain dance.

The deserts of the Sudan and the lush green bushlands of South Africa inspired the world in the novel. I once visited the Sudanese pyramids, and on my way there passed a town in the middle of the desert called Shendi. Shendi is now the name of the land in my novel. It’s a land of contrasts, where people have been forced to abandon their tribal heritage and live in a coastal town ruled by a dictatorship.

It’s a first person narrative, told by a young woman called Suni. She exposes social injustices of a persecuted people in her search for truth and her own identity.

First 500 words…

It was early, the skies filled with the golden colours of dawn, but already the river was bustling with life. Today was a special day.

I led the mule along the rise of the riverbank, wading through long reeds. It was hot, it was always hot on my homeland of Shendi: the drought had lasted all my fifteen years, and decades before. Despite the heat I pulled the hood down low over my face, as I passed women washing clothes, men fishing, and children swimming. Listening to their chat and laughter amidst a backdrop of squawking gulls, seeing the odd scowl cast in my direction, I felt like an unwelcomed stranger in my hometown. The hood was reassuring since it hid my face.

I felt something hit me on the back of the head, and then again. I rubbed my head, hearing giggles from behind, and turned to look. Two boys looked out from the reeds, one holding a handful of stones. Nearby, a man was watching from the river, water up to his waist, a young child sitting astride his shoulders. For a moment I thought the man might say something to the boys, but I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t. He glanced at me only briefly before turning away, lifting the child off his shoulders and swirling her in the cool water. My gaze lingered on the child as she reached out with chubby arms, pulling at her father’s lips and nose, making gurgling sounds as she smiled at him. He smiled back and pulled her towards him, kissing her on the cheek before cradling her into his chest.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw another stone hurled in my direction. I stepped aside and pulled at the reins, hurrying the mule along. The closer I came to the estuary, the quieter the river. The townspeople were superstitious and feared the ocean. My mother, Mata, privately ridiculed rumours of sea monsters and evil spirits that pulled people deep into the ocean depths, to die a watery death. The shores of the estuary was one place I could guarantee to find solitude.

Further on beyond the crowds, a girl sat alone idly skimming stones. She glanced at me as I went to walk past, and to my surprise she smiled. I paused, looking back at her, and almost returned her smile. I felt suddenly awkward and turned away.

‘Won’t you sit with me?’ she asked.

I looked back, confused. I had no friends my own age; Mata forbade it and besides, I had never had any offers. I thought it might be a trick, expected her to say something cruel, but her smile faded leaving a hurt look on her face.

I knew few people by name but I knew faces, and I was sure this was not a face I’d seen before. Dressed in a dowdy smock, she appeared poor like the beggars, but beggars never left the dark lanes and shadows of town. She…

Blurb

Suni has grown up knowing she is different. She and her mother Mata make their living weaving baskets, and selling herbs they harvest secretly at night. Her father abandoned them to work in the tyrannical king’s crystal mines. 

Mata follows the old ways of the Mantra, which the king has outlawed. He demands people worship him and the power of the crystals. Mata and Suni keep their beliefs to themselves.

Tragedy strikes, and with no warning, Suni is cut adrift. She sets off to find her father. Will she also find the destiny Mata wanted for her?

Susie grew up in the village of Scholes, Holmfirth, in West Yorkshire. She studied at the University of Sheffield and graduated with a BSc Honours in Chemistry, and a PGCE in Secondary School Science. In 1999 she travelled to the city of Omdurman in the Sudan, where she taught English as a Foreign Language. From there she moved to South Africa, where she taught Adult Basic Education and Training, primarily in a township in Kwazulu Natal.

On her return to the UK, she moved to Exeter in Devon, where her childhood passion for creative writing was reignited. Among a collection of varied jobs, including support work at a women’s refuge, she increasingly prioritised her time to write. Inspired by the landscapes of Africa, her passion for women’s equality and representation of diversity, and her love of fantasy books, she began weaving the twists and turns of her first novel.

She lives with her partner, Kate, close to the river Exe and a bike ride away from the sea. She enjoys being involved in community projects, and painting canvases to steadily fill the white-washed walls of her house. Her writing partner is her cat, Mia, who is currently assisting with two fantasy novels, sequels to ‘Return of the Mantra’.

Return of the Mantra is Susie’s debut fantasy novel and is published by Stairwell Books. It is available here. http://www.stairwellbooks.co.uk/product/return-of-the-mantra/

You can get in touch with Susie on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SusieWilliamsonAuthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Twitter https://twitter.com/SJW_writer

GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18616806.Susie_Williamson

and also via her website: www.susiewilliamson.blog 

***

Many thanks for your fabulous first 500 words, Susie.

***

This was the last ‘Opening Lines’ blog for a little while as I’m having a short break from them after 18 months of weekly blogs.

Keep an eye on Facebook for my call for new blog guests in the near future.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Finding Destiny by Katrina Hart

Our final Opening Lines before Christmas come from Katrina Hart. I’m delighted to introduce the first 500 words of Katrina’s magical adventure, Finding Destiny.

Finding Destiny’s blurb:

When eighteen year old Alex’s little sister’s pony goes missing, he sets out to look for her and finds himself in a strange gypsy camp in the middle of a forest. The pony is being cared for by a young girl called Faith. When Alex accepts a drink from Faith’s grandmother, he wakes up later to find himself transported into 2038 to a technologically-advanced, very colourful world inhabited by humans and robots. Alex soon discovers that he is now twenty, married and has a magical little baby girl. A magic he only seems to notice. He soon finds out that he will have to defend his little girl from the half-breeds with everything he has. He travels back through the magic pages of books to try and save her before it is too late and she is lost from him forever.

First 500 words

Chapter 1: Finding Destiny

“Destiny! Destiny!” I yelled, walking the dark forest alone.

Broken branches crunched beneath my feet. Black, shadowing trees loomed over me, following my every move. Owls hooted and flapped in every direction. I proceeded, calling the girlie-named pony.

I walked till my feet burned. It had been hours with no sign of Destiny, when the forest seemed to come alive before my eyes! Classical music hummed around a circle of purple gypsy tents, which surrounded a huge pink camp fire. I rubbed my tired eyes in disbelief. I opened them again and saw Destiny being cuddled lovingly by a pale girl with black hair flowing like a never-ending river. I walked over to the girl and Destiny.

“Hey miss, you found my sister’s pony.” I looked down at them both.

“Mister, she is my pony!” She held Destiny closer in a protective grip.

I was about to argue my point, but a cold hand pushed on my shoulder, stopping me.

“Grandma! He wants my pony.” The girl pointed in my direction.

“Faith, don’t point it’s rude!” The old woman scolded her like she was a child.

“Where the hell did you come from!” I shouted and jumped to look her in the face.

“My tent, just this way,” the grandma said as she walked inside her purple tent.

I followed, outraged. I just wanted my sister’s pony back.

“Enter,” the old woman croaked, coughing.

“Are you okay!” I whispered.

“Yes! Yes! Don’t worry yourself, now what can I do for you, sir?” She coughed again.

“I need my sister’s pony back. It’s her everything,” I pleaded.

“My Faith loves her too,” the old lady coughed again.

“I will do anything, I need that pony!” I tried again, staring into the old lady’s purple eyes.

Her wrinkled, transparent face and white long hair, tied in a bun tight above her head, made her look frail. She sat down behind a crystal ball. “Anything?”

I nodded.

“Let me see your future,” she coughed, rubbing her crystal ball and looking inside its clear dome.

The silence dragged on like an unspoken question in a crowded room. Sadness crossed her face.

“It’s done!” she shouted; her eyes seemed to turn black.

“Thank you.” I smiled, a little confused.

“My pleasure.” She coughed, handing me a blue drink in a clear glass. “Please drink, it will bring you good luck on your way home. It’s a tradition, you know,” she said.

I didn’t want to seem rude, so I drained the glass. My head spun and everything became unfocused.

 

I fought to see through the darkness. Crying, and the smell of hay surrounded me.

“Hello! Who’s there? Where am I?” I whispered, following the cries of what sounded like a girl being murdered.

“Hello!” I yelled over her cries. I feared for us both. A light danced on of its own accord. Straw was everywhere. Pink, blue and red horses wandered about, leaving their stalls empty. The barn looked steel, unlike anything I had seen…

***

Buy Links

Amazon Ebook link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Destiny-Katrina-Hart-ebook/dp/B00U1WUFSE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1520346362&sr=8-2&keywords=Finding+Destiny

Amazon Paperback Link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Destiny-Katrina-Hart/dp/1543052487/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1520346362&sr=8-2

Bio

My name is Katrina Hart but my friends call me Katie. I live in the East of England with my family, my two cats–Holly and Smokey–and our dog, Jessie. They are a nutty bunch but I love them all the same.

I have always had a passion for reading. I could easily spend a whole lifetime engrossed in a good book. In my twenties I joined an online writing class where I fell in love with writing my own stories.

Since I started writing I have discovered a new love for quotes. A quote that really inspired me was from Toni Morrison. Toni said: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

I came across this quote whilst I was studying. It was one of the many things that inspired me to begin writing Finding Destiny, my first novel.

In addition to Finding Destiny, I’ve written a number of other stories, including Love in Little Snow, The Flower Angel and The Naked Sleepwalker’s Christmas.

Social Media

I also have a blog, where I talk about books I’ve enjoyed, my writing–including the occasional free short story–and anything else that interests me. I’d love it if you visited! The address is: http://katrinamarie25.wordpress.com.

I’m also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katrina-Hart-1785712648319624/

Twitter @KatrinaHart2015

***

Many thanks for coming by today Katrina.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Life…; and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

I’m delighted to welcome friend and fellow member of the Exeter Author Association, Richard Dee, to my place today for this week’s ‘Opening Lines.’

Let’s get cosy, sit back and enjoy the first 500 words (exactly), of some fabulous fantasy fiction…

 

Hi everyone, my thanks to Jenny for the opportunity to post here. I’m Richard Dee and I mainly write Science Fiction adventures, although I also dabble in Cosy Crime and Steampunk. Up to now, I’ve kept to straightforward tales of adventure, corporate misdeeds and conspiracy. With the odd murder thrown in.

Life and Other Dreams, the story I’m sharing with you today is a hybrid, a dual-time thriller. It started with a dream I had, where I found myself living in a slightly different version of my real life. That gave me the idea for Rick and Dan, two men separated by half a galaxy and six-hundred years.

Or are they?

Rick lives here on Earth, now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly. In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live in the future, exploring another planet, searching for valuable minerals on an alien paradise. However, Dan is oblivious to Rick, he has no dreams about Ricks life, as far as he is concerned, he lives on Ecias and has no alter ego.

When the two worlds start to overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up.

Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Rick’s wife thinks that his dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.

Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, two times, at once? And which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?

The first 500 words are set on the planet Ecias, six hundred years from now…

“Whoa! Vanessa, what are you trying to do? What’s the rush?”

The words were torn out of my mouth as we raced over the bumpy road, the open top of the buggy meant that you had to shout, especially when Vanessa was driving. She approached driving like she approached everything else, flat out and head on, daring it to get in her way or spoil her fun.

I gripped the armrests firmly and felt the harness dig into my shoulders every time we bounced, the suspension was doing its best, but at this speed it was fighting a losing battle with the rough surface. The road had been cut through the forest; the uneven sections filled in and levelled with rows of hardwood logs, held in place with a hard-packed mixture of earth and stones. The road swerved around the bigger trees and clung to the hillside. It was the sort of journey that you could sell to adventure-seeking tourists. At best, it was only just wide enough for two vehicles to pass.

You were supposed to sound your horn and slow down at the corners, in case there was a lorry coming the other way. Vanessa, predictably, didn’t bother. She kept the speed on and we shot around the corners not knowing what would be in front of us. “You can see the lorries through the trees,” she had explained to me, “if you keep your eyes open and look in the right place.” Maybe that was right, I had to hope that it was.

On either side of us, the tall trees were in full leaf; the equatorial sunlight shining through them was casting shadows over the road, exposing us to patches of light and dark as we headed into town. The air was warm and still, at least it would have been if we hadn’t been moving so fast that it felt like a full gale in our faces. Ecias was a paradise, with amazing scenery and beautiful wildlife. It was how Earth had probably been before we humans had got our despoiling hands on it. The trees had large flowers as well as their leaves; they were a magnet for bees, butterflies and multicoloured birds that looked like Earth’s hummingbirds. If you were quiet you could get right up close to them. Like all the wildlife on Ecias, they had not yet learned to fear man or what he could do to a planet.

We raced past a large warning sign. Fixed to a huge tree, it informed us in red letters that five-hundred metres ahead there was a sharp right-handed curve. An arrow underneath the letters emphasised the point. The good news was that after we had got around it, we could start our descent down the side of the hill into Richavon.

We weren’t in any particular hurry. While it was true that the supply ship was due, it would be here for at least a day.  Vanessa just liked the exhilaration that speed…

My current plan is for the novel to be published in late February 2019. You can keep up with its progress and find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi 

***

Many thanks for visiting today Richard.

Come back next week for some opening lines from Rachel Brimble.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Dark Words from Tracey Norman

This week ‘Opening Lines’ delves into the realms of folklore and fantasy with Tracey Norman.

Friend, actress, author, expert on all things ‘witch’, and a fellow member of the Exeter Author Association, Tracey is bringing us the very beginning of her story, Dark Words.

Over to you Tracey…

Living not far from Dartmoor, I have a wealth of inspiration on my doorstep. When I was introduced to the reservoir, forests and stone circle of Fernworthy, something about the place spoke to me and it has become something of a retreat for me when I need space, or peace and quiet to write.

Periodically, during particularly hot periods, the reservoir’s water levels drop dramatically, revealing the various hut circles and bridges which were submerged when the reservoir was built. Wandering around these rarely-seen features, I came across a boundary-type stone which appeared to have been carved with an unusual chequerboard effect. It piqued my curiosity, so I tried to find out more about it – unsuccessfully.

In 2015, I was invited to contribute a story to Secret Invasion, a charity horror anthology of South West-based Lovecraftian tales raising money for MIND. I seized the opportunity to provide a backstory for the enigmatic stone. Thus was born the tale of the taciturn, sinister villagers, the stone tablets and the landscape which bound them together.

I have taken several liberties with the landscape. The house and estate I describe are both fictitious and I have no idea what secrets the old quarry may contain, as it has long been flooded. The drowned village beneath the reservoir is of far greater antiquity than my story suggests and was abandoned long before the events I describe.

However, if you visit Fernworthy reservoir, you can walk around its shores, you can see the (now fenced off) flooded quarry and, if the water level is sufficiently low, you may be lucky enough to spot parts of the hut circles just beyond the edge of the picnic area. A walk into the forest itself will take you to the Fernworthy stone circle and the twin circles of the Grey Wethers can be found on the open moor just beyond the forest boundary.

I highly recommend visiting the reservoir at dusk and siting at one of the picnic tables at the water’s edge. As the sun sinks in the sky, watch the light glinting on the water and revel in a tranquillity my characters never knew….but beware if you hear chanting…

(Dark Words has since been published in Folklore and Fairy Tales Reimagined, so it can be enjoyed with slightly less horror!)

Secret Invasion is a new collection of original horror fiction set in the mystical landscape of England’s West Country, influenced by the storytelling of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. This anthology includes a Q&A with horror maestro Ramsey Campbell followed by fifteen chilling tales by writers such as Andrew Lane (Young Sherlock Holmes), Jessica Palmer (Sweet William) and Nigel Foster.

 

First 500 words from Dark Words

Excavation fieldwork notes – 2015 – Alison Forster

It was good to finally crawl into my tent at the end of another long, hot day and kick off my boots. Stripping off my socks, I flexed my toes and massaged my ankles, then stretched out on my camp bed. Half past five. An hour until dinner. Plenty of time to go over the day’s notes and perhaps pop along to the finds tent to see how the cleaning and preservation was going.

I took my notebook from the large, upturned cardboard box next to the camp bed, which served as a rather flimsy table. Flipping through the pages of today’s notes, I started reading, pausing now and then to roll onto my side so I could annotate the page or make a note to myself for the following day. I wondered what other treasures were lying hidden beneath Dartmoor’s gorse and heather, just waiting for us to uncover and bring them back into the light.

The excavation was progressing very well. We had been extremely fortunate with both the weather and our finds. I still couldn’t quite believe that I was directing an excavation which had uncovered a previously unknown stone circle on the moor. It was undoubtedly the find of my career. Thank God I had decided against early retirement when the museum offered.

My planning finished, I sat up and took a swig from the water bottle on the ‘table’. I shoved my boots out of the way under the camp bed and put on trainers, then headed over to the finds tent to see how the team were getting on.

Much of what we had found were potsherds, with a few flint blades and one or two shell beads. I stopped to have a quick chat with each of the four students working on the artefacts, then, satisfied that everything was in order, I went to the mess tent and helped set up the meal.

Our mealtimes were generally noisy, chaotic affairs, but now that the stone circle’s significance had sunk in, everyone was hugely enthusiastic and motivated. I could hear discussions all around me about its possible ritual use and comparisons between it and the other stone circles not far away. Personally, I was very keen to find out if there was any connection between this new circle, the twin circles of Grey Wethers and the Fernworthy circle with its stone row and burial mounds. The thought of being able to identify an ancient ritual centre, with the attendant research, academic papers and perhaps a book, which would keep me in paid work for some time, was so enticing that it was almost palpable. I ate my food with as much gusto as my colleagues and students that night, flushed with our incredible good luck and determined to do whatever it took to secure funding for follow-up work next season.

At the end of the evening, after the cider had started flowing slightly more slowly and half the

Bio

I am a professional actress and voice artist who has always been a storyteller, whether on stage, in front of a keyboard or behind part of my extensive collection of notebooks and pens. Living not far from Dartmoor, I have a wealth of subject matter on my doorstep. My first short story (written under the pen name Anna Norman and published in the Lovecraft-inspired Secret Invasion, a charity anthology in aid of MIND, in 2015), is based on the landscape and artefacts in and around Dartmoor’s Fernworthy Reservoir, one of my favourite places.

In 2016, I accidentally became a playwright, having decided to do something meaningful with the Honours degree in History I achieved from The Open University in 2015. The result was a one-act play, WITCH, which examines the human story behind accusations of witchcraft, focusing on the social conditions and interactions which led to such accusations. It was based on depositions from the 1687 trial of a Lyme Regis housewife. The play, in which I perform alongside my colleagues from our company Circle of Spears Productions, enjoyed a very successful debut season in 2016 in the library at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle (where better to perform a play about witch trials?!) and since then, has gone on to enjoy further success in a number of venues across Devon, with a lengthy list of performances in 2017. It is currently being booked by universities as Theatre in Education.

I have been lucky enough to secure a contract with Troy Books in Cornwall for a book based on the research I originally undertook to write WITCH – it will look at the various issues raised in the play, expand on them and examine how theatre may be used to preserve our social history whilst simultaneously making it more accessible.

I published my first children’s book in 2017. Written for my daughter in 2010, when she was three, Sammy’s Saturday Job has finally been released as a Kindle ebook.  It follows the tale of a little dragon who wants to be a firefighter. She gets a chance to help out, but it doesn’t go well and she needs to work out how to put things right. It encourages children to persevere and to think creatively about helping others. It also promotes inclusiveness by showing that being different doesn’t mean that you have nothing to offer.

Publishing this particular story means a great deal to me because the three year-old I wrote it for became a ten year-old who sat down with me and helped me to work out what illustrations I should draw for it and where they should go.  I can’t think of a better editing assistant.

Currently, as well as my WITCH non-fiction, I am working on a High Fantasy novel which tells the first instalment in the back-story of a character I created for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign I was involved in. Sometimes, a character will really capture your imagination and this is certainly the case with my feisty, independent elf Aamena. I am hoping that the book will be out in late 2018.

Social Media links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/TraceyNormansWITCHbook

www.facebook.com/TraceyNormanAuthor

Twitter – @WITCHplayCoS and @fireeyeschron

Websites – www.traceynormanswitch.com   and   www.thefireeyeschronicles.co.uk

Buy links

Secret Invasion (in aid of MIND): https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/secretinvasion

Folklore and Fairy Tales Reimagined: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07728RXWS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

***
Many thanks to Tracey for popping by!

See you next week!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Be Careful What Your Wish For by Lynne North

It’s Opening Lines time again!

This week I’m welcoming Lynne North to my blog with the first 500 words (exactly) of her children’s novel, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’

Let’s dive in…

 

First 500 words of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’

Finn O’Shea ran as if his life depended on it. This time he thought it might. He squelched along at a gallop, soaked through by the pouring rain that had begun suddenly when he was at the greatest possible distance from home. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Finn groaned when he saw the first flash of lightning. “Oh no!” he said to the dark sky above him.

Lightening wasn’t good. It always chased him. The saying about lightning never striking twice in the same place had been proved wrong by Finn countless times. No matter how he zigged and zagged through the village in stormy weather, the black clouds dogged his footsteps and threw their bolts right at him. They were more used to zigging and zagging than he was, so they usually won. He had only been knocked out once, but he’d had so many jolts he sometimes wondered why he didn’t light up at night.

He veered right, narrowly missed by an almighty flash, then leapt over a huge puddle that threw itself into his path. The lightning had another try to the left, but Finn’s nifty dodge and scream still had him pelting for home. He could see the green front door ahead inviting him to safety. The sight gave him the extra strength to pound his feet, leap and dodge and fling himself head first through the unlocked door. It bashed against the wall with an alarming thump as Finn bent double, his hands on his knees, dripping water all over the hallway and gasping for breath.

Finn’s mum appeared, a shocked look on her face. She stared at Finn, then at the open door beyond him. “Oh, lightning again,” was all she said. She walked past him and closed the door, then added, “Go and get changed, then bring your wet clothes down.”

As Finn took off his soaked pants and top he thought about his attraction for lightning bolts. They didn’t aim for anyone else in the village, so why him? Once he was dry and his mum had taken his dirty, wet clothes away, he asked, “Why me, Mum? Leprechauns are supposed to be lucky. I thought we were born that way. What happened to me?”

His mum handed him a warm drink and sighed. “Well, we’re not exactly all born lucky,” she began, “though I’m not sure the Fates smiled on you at all when you were born. It was more like they had a good laugh at your expense. Your first view of the world was upside down when Mrs Ahearne, the midwife, dropped you on your head. I don’t think it did you any harm though.”

Finn rubbed his head, just thinking about it.

His mum continued. “Contrary to popular belief, leprechauns aren’t born lucky. Fortune is a blessing bestowed by the Good Luck Fairy, providing she’s in an agreeable mood, and more to the point, as long as she’s there.”

Finn frowned. His mum wasn’t making any sense…

Blurb

Be Careful What You Wish For is a children’s humorous fantasy.

Finn is a bored young leprechaun who lives a quiet life with his family and friends in the sleepy village of Duntappin. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy he soon gets far more than he bargained for.  When he least expects his adventure to begin, Finn finds himself a long way from home in dire circumstances. Home begins to seem very appealing all of a sudden. Has he any hope of getting back? This is no fairy tale…

This funny and fast moving story filled by weird and wonderful characters will turn all your expectations on their head, but that’s a good thing, because it makes them all the more amusing.

***

Bio

I am a children’s author who lives in the north west of England. I have been a prolific reader all my life, and for many years have spent most of my free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, I have completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers’. My aim in life has always been to write, and I have had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than I like to admit to having lived. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. I have also completed several children’s novels. ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was published by Ghostly Publishing in 2013 and launched at Earl’s Court Book Fair. I released something completely different on Kindle in 2014, a compilation of 13 macabre Twist in the Tale short stories, titled ‘Unlucky For Some’ and definitely NOT for children! If you enjoy scary, check it out! A short children’s fantasy, ‘Emily and the Enchanted Wood’ was released by my new publisher, Crimson Cloak Publishing, towards the end of 2015. A very different children’s humorous fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, was released by Crimson Cloak Publishing on St Patrick’s Day 2016. Crimson Cloak Publishing also re-released ‘Caution’ along with the sword and sorcery fantasy, ‘Zac’s Destiny’, later in 2016. At the end of 2016 my first Role-play gamebook, ‘The Chalice of Jupiter’ became a reality, with more quests to come in the future! I am currently working on my next Crimson Cloak Quest, a short companion book to ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’, and a fantasy novel for young adults titled ‘Dimensions’. I am also working as the Marketing Director for Crimson Cloak Publishing.

Links

Blog   http://www.lynnenorth.co.uk/blog/

Website   http://www.lynnenorth.co.uk/

Author page on CCP  http://www.crimsoncloakpublishing.com/lynne-north.html

Universal Link to Amazon: http://myBook.to/WishFor

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/lynnenorth/be-careful-what-you-wish-for/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Lynne.North.Author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynne_North

***

Many thanks for your 500 words Lynne!

I hope you all enjoyed that. Next week we have Catherine Kullman visiting with her 500 opening words.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

Crossing the Lines of research: Patricia Leslie

I’m delighted to be joined by Patricia Leslie today. She has been carrying out some vital location research- some intended- some  accidental…

Over to you Patricia…

I like to wander. I do some basic research on a location so I know what’s around, grab a map and a camera, and head out. It seems to balance out the detailed planning that goes into holidays and research trips, and I enjoy the surprise of stumbling upon the unexpected. I know I’ve found something great when I start slipping it into a story. In the United Kingdom recently, against plans to do some serious location research in the Outer Hebrides for the next two books in my Crossing the Line series, I found myself researching another site for the novel that will come after the current series. Not planned at all!

We were in Northumbria and my daughter expressed a desire to visit Hadrian’s Wall. The Wall wasn’t on my research radar, but it seemed a good way to spend a sunny day so off we went ending up in Vindolanda. It wasn’t until we started stepping over the ruins of a succession of Roman Forts and I read the dates and backstory of the site that I realised it fitted neatly into a planned novel set in the Gallic Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. Of course, the physical location wasn’t exactly right, but the building remains and layout of the forts and accompanying settlement can be translated from one country to another, and the dates were perfect. This future novel will also have links with England of the same time period so I started snapping and plotting and planning. Characters that hadn’t yet been thought of, started to ghost into my imagination. I could hear dogs barking, people trading goods, using the baths, soldiers marching, and commands being shouted. I can’t wait to write this story!

Eager to find out more about the people that would have lived in these settlements, I hit the Visitor’s Centre and Accompanying gift store, and bought some books. Then went back outside to take more photos. About a week later, in Bath, I felt the same sense of excitement wandering around the famous Roman Baths. I then moved into current novel research mode when we randomly booked our accommodation for the night at The George Inn – a 16th century inn. The walls of our room were at least three feet thick, the heavy beams low, the doors, windows and fireplaces as rustic and genuine as I could hope for.

It seems likely that Crossing the Line books one and two will include a lot of rain and a few blizzards. My first few days in England coincided with the tail-end of the “Beast from the East” and a very cold start to spring followed by days of pouring rain in the Outer Hebrides. When my characters travel through these areas they will be as cold and wet as I was (more so), without the benefit of a car with heated seats to escape to. When they come across stone circles and black houses, they will be extensions of the very same ones that I came across on the Isle of Lewis. Callanish was very much a planned stop on my itinerary. Experiencing the environment and the outlying lochs and fields of peat and machair, not to mention the many sheep, was an interesting aside. The colours of a wet Hebridean landscape are surprisingly dramatic. The history of the people and islands, deep and rich. I took more photos. I bought more books.

Glastonbury Tor may also make an appearance. Here’s another site I hadn’t planned on visiting, but noting it’s proximity on my road map as I drove north from Padstow in Cornwall, decided another side trip was in order. I arrived early in the morning with mist in the hills and valley, and few people (read tourists like me) about. With a darkening sky and rain imminent, I walked the path up to the Tor. A Christian monastery does not figure in Crossing the Line, but the site was important to the local people for centuries before Christianity. I don’t know how, but the Tor too may figure in the story. One of my characters is of Cornish background. That’s not too far away – I’m sure I can work it.

The benefits of wandering is that it allows for a more fluid creative flow of ideas. Without the rigid structure of a detailed itinerary to stick to, the mind can stay relaxed and open to possibility. Besides that, I’m easily distracted by what may be around the corner or over the next hill.

Bio

Patricia Leslie is an Australian author with a passion for combining history, fantasy, and action into stories that nudge at the boundaries of reality. Her latest novel is Keeper of the Way, published by Odyssey Books.

For reviews, interviews, articles and updates on her novels and adventures, visit her website: patricialeslie.net and facebook page: Patricia Leslie – author

For photos of her adventures, books, and chickens, follow her on insta: @patricialeslee (if you don’t have an Instagram account just drop in to her website)

***

Many thanks for visiting my blog today Patricia. You’re research has taken you to many of my favourite places in the UK.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: A Spell in the Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

We’re off into the world of comedy fantasy and cosy crime for this week’s Opening Lines.

With thanks to Heide Goody and Iain Grant for sharing the first 500 words from A Spell in the Country.

Blurb

Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch. 
She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.
She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.
On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.”

First 500 words…

Chapter 1 – The Three Witches

The Good Witch of Northfield

Dee Finch didn’t consider herself to be just a good witch. Of course she was a good witch. That kind of thing was in the blood. No, Dee wasn’t just a good witch; she was a good witch, and that meant being good and doing good; whenever and wherever, whatever people might think. So Dee felt compelled to tell the young man in the shopping precinct that his hat was on fire.

“Your hat is on fire, poppet,” she said.

Surprisingly, the young man responded with a delighted smile. “Well, that’s the final question answered.”

Not the reaction Dee expected. It wasn’t as if it was the kind of hat one could set on fire without being instantly aware of it. If, say, he had been wearing a bowler hat, one might imagine a small fire on the crown might go unnoticed for a minute or two. But this was a woolly hat with a minor conflagration where a bobble might be.

Dee imagined that the young man had absent-mindedly put a roll-up behind his ear, and forgotten that it was already lit. It was the only immediately obvious explanation.

“Your hat is on fire,” she said again.

“Indeed,” he said. “Let me just—” He flipped through the papers on the clipboard in his hand.

“On fire,” she repeated.

“Yep.” He clicked his pen and put a tick in a box. “Now, would you have a few minutes to complete the rest of the survey?”

“Survey?”

Dee felt she had lost her grip on the situation. The man’s hat was on fire and, on a fundamental level, she wanted it dealt with. But now he was talking about a survey and had a look in his eye which suggested his day had been a long struggle to get people to participate.

“What kind of survey?” asked Dee. “I can’t be too long, sweetness. I was only popping out for some safety pins and a bottle of linctus for Mrs Binder.”

“It’s all about trying to become a better you,” said the young man.

“And you do understand what I mean when I say your hat is on fire?” she said.

“I do. Now, can I take your name?”

“Yes. It’s Dee Finch. Miss.”

 

Dee returned to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop with a brochure from the young survey-taker and a great deal to think about.

“Thank God you’re here,” said Mr Tilbury. “It’s been bedlam since you left.”

Dee looked up from the brochure. The shop was empty, apart from Mr Tilbury who was manning the till. Clothes hung unregarded on their racks. Books gathered dust on the shelves. The poster of the charity mascot, Terry the Boss-Eyed Tortoise, with the slogan of ‘Ugly Animals Need Love Too’ still hung slightly askew on the wall. It was so quiet that one could almost hear the creak of time passing.

“Bedlam?” repeated Dee.

“A man came in and wanted to know if we had a book,” said Mr…

***

Buy Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93 

***

I hope you enjoyed that. Another fabulous book introduction.

Come back next week for the first 500 words from a book by Jane pollard.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Paul Kane: Living and Breathing Robin Hood

Robin Hood obsessive alert!!!!

You’ve been warned…

I’m delighted to welcome Paul Kane to my place today. Fellow Robin Hood fan, writer of an audio script for Robin of Sherwood- and author of very much more.

Over to you Paul…

When Jen very kindly asked me to contribute a blog to her site regarding my connection with the Robin Hood legend, I started to think about how long he’s been in my life. From an early age, bank holidays were very often spent at Sherwood Forest – we lived about 20 minutes away from it. So, as well as learning about the legend – about Robin and Marion, Little John and Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet – I was breathing the same air they did back then, soaking up the atmosphere.

Then along came Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood, which I would sit and watch religiously with my dad, and Saturday teatimes would never really be the same. Of course, back then I had no idea it had been created by the same man who came up with the wonderful Catweazle, I just knew that this was a version of Hood I could get behind. As well as having all the traditional elements to it, the robbing the rich to give to the poor and so on, it also had a supernatural slant: I mean, come on, the very first episode was called ‘Robin Hood and the Sorcerer’… doesn’t get any better than that! Except, actually, it did – and as we tuned in every week we would marvel at witches, demons, Satanic cults and woodland gods. I was in seventh heaven!

Even when it came time for Michael Praed to step down from the title role, the changeover to Jason Connery was handled seamlessly. In fact, I loved it even more not knowing what was going on at the end of ‘The Greatest Enemy’. Had Robin come back from the dead, was he a ghost? No, in fact what had happened was a clever segue into that other origins story, Robert of Huntingdon taking over the mantle from Robin of Loxley – but both of them Herne’s sons. Wonderful stuff!

Then, sadly, the show finished and I mourned its passing. I watched all the other adaptations over the years – some of which even included elements that Richard had invented, like the Saracen – but none ever came close for me. Only repeated viewings of his series, when it became available, would do. At the same time, my own writing career had started to take off, moving on from journalism to short stories and finally novels and scripts, as well as taking on the job of Special Publications Editor for the British Fantasy Society and helping to run their yearly convention, FantasyCon. It was around 2006 or 2007 that I spotted a shout out for pitches from Rebellion, the publishers of 2000 AD (another staple of my formative years). They were moving into novels, in particular those which would be part of a shared universe called ‘The Afterblight Chronicles’ – set in a future where 90% of the world’s population had died out from the A-B Virus.

I knew commissioning editor Jon Oliver from my time on the convention circuit, so I threw over a few ideas – one of which was a post-apocalyptic version of Hood. It just seemed like an obvious choice, once society had crumbled and mad dictators had taken over, to bring that legend back to life. It would be part of the Chronicles, but also a very distinct story in its own right. Luckily, Jon agreed, and suddenly I was writing my first mass market paperback: Arrowhead. Needless to say, my version was heavily influenced by RoS, whilst still going its own way; it had to really, as my Robin – Robert Stokes – was facing tanks and attack helicopters. Also needless to say, I was delighted when the book was so well received that another was commissioned shortly after the first’s release (a terrific launch ten years ago at FantasyCon in, appropriately, Nottingham).

I remember I had some vague notion about doing the whole ‘death of Hood’ legend – firing the arrow into the sky and all that – when it came to writing the sequel Broken Arrow. Thankfully, Jon talked me out of it saying: “When you have a hero like that on your hands, you don’t kill him off that quickly.” He was absolutely right, of course, and after that novel came Arrowland, forming a trilogy of books Rebellion released as the omnibus Hooded Man (which sold out of its first print run incredibly quickly). Not only that, but the novels had put me on the radar of…none other than Richard Carpenter, or Kip as I came to know him. He loved them, offered me a glowing quote, and even gave his grandson a copy to read. Imagine my joy at that – things had pretty much come full circle.

Or had they?

Spin on a few years, during which I’d pursued a couple of my other passions (the work of Clive Barker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even crossing them over in books like Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell) and mourned the sad passing of Kip himself. The world is still a poorer place without him. Rebellion had also asked me to continue the Hooded Man story with a novella which caught up with the characters a few years later, Flaming Arrow. And I was very excited to hear that RoS was returning in the form of a full cast audio adaptation of Kip’s Knights of the Apocalypse from Spiteful Puppet, something I reviewed for Sci-Fi Bulletin.

More audios followed, some of which I also reviewed – and during the course of this I got chatting with that lovely chap Barnaby Eaton Jones, of Spiteful Puppet. I mentioned the Hooded Man books, sent him a copy, and the next thing I knew I was being asked to pitch a RoS audio myself. As luck would have it again, I’d just finished my first audio script – a full cast drama adaptation of The Hellbound Heart for Bafflegab, which would star Tom Meeten (The Ghoul), Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge) – so I felt confident enough to have a crack… sort of. It was still RoS and there was massive amount of performance anxiety, as you can probably appreciate.

But anyway, I began to think about elements of the show I’d loved myself and what we hadn’t seen so far in it. And, personally, I’d always thought it would be cool to see Robin and his band go up against a vampire, or at the very least someone who thought he was a vampire. I jotted down some ideas for a tale which pitted them against a Vlad the Impaler-type character, driven from his homeland and now a mercenary – and right there and then, The Red Lord was born.

I was over the moon when the pitch was commissioned, and even more thrilled when the script itself was passed – with a few minor tweaks – by SP and ITV. It was then that Barnaby told me it was being recorded soon, narrated by none other than Ian Ogilvy. Ian had played Lord Edgar in RoS, but also another quite well known character from my childhood. My better half Marie will tell you when that news came in, I screamed: “You’ll never guess who’s doing my audio! Only the Saint!” Yes, I don’t mind admitting I am that much of a geek…

And so it’s done, is totally wonderful, and something I’m incredibly proud of. Well, I would be, having lived and breathed Robin Hood – and Robin of Sherwood – all these decades. I hope the fans like it, after all I am one too, and I like to think that somewhere Kip is smiling as well.

Does this mean that everything’s finally come full circle now? Perhaps – but who can tell what the future will bring? Not me, that’s for sure. For now, though, I just feel incredibly fortunate to have had not one but two bites of the cherry.

Thanks for reading, thank you Jen for letting me waffle on, and finally may Herne protect you all!

Buy Links

Hooded Man:
Flaming Arrow:
The Red Lord:

Paul Kane is the award-winning, bestselling author and editor of over seventy books – including the Arrowhead trilogy (gathered together in the sellout Hooded Man omnibus, revolving around a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood), The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Hellbound Hearts, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror and Pain Cages (an Amazon #1 bestseller). His non-fiction books include The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Voices in the Dark, and his genre journalism has appeared in the likes of SFX, Rue Morgue and DeathRay. He has been a Guest at Alt.Fiction five times, was a Guest at the first SFX Weekender, at Thought Bubble in 2011, Derbyshire Literary Festival and Off the Shelf in 2012, Monster Mash and Event Horizon in 2013, Edge-Lit in 2014, HorrorCon, HorrorFest and Grimm Up North in 2015, The Dublin Ghost Story Festival and Sledge-Lit in 2016, plus IMATS Olympia and Celluloid Screams in 2017, as well as being a panellist at FantasyCon and the World Fantasy Convention, and a fiction judge at the Sci-Fi London festival. A former British Fantasy Society Special Publications Editor, he is currently serving as co-chair for the UK chapter of The Horror Writers Association. His work has been optioned and adapted for the big and small screen, including for US network primetime television, and his audio work includes the full cast drama adaptation of The Hellbound Heart for Bafflegab, starring Tom Meeten (The Ghoul), Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge), and the Robin of Sherwood adventure The Red Lord for Spiteful Puppet/ITV narrated by Ian Ogilvy (Return of the Saint). Paul’s latest novels are Lunar (set to be turned into a feature film), the Y.A. story The Rainbow Man (as P.B. Kane), the sequel to REDBlood RED – the award-winning hit Sherlock Holmes & the Servants of Hell and Before (a recent Amazon Top 5 dark fantasy bestseller). He lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife Marie O’Regan and his family. Find out more at his site www.shadow-writer.co.uk which has featured Guest Writers such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Robert Kirkman, Dean Koontz and Guillermo del Toro.

***

WOW- what a guest!! Thanks Paul- I am humbled by your productivity.

Many thanks for visiting today,

Jen xx

 

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén