‘The Shade Clan’ Halloween Giveaway

Win a free paperback of my latest supernatural horror novel The Shade Clan.

The Shade Clan

Anything could be happening in that post-industrial wilderness reclaimed by nature, the place they know as The Shade. When Tom and his friends discover the vast, overgrown quarry, they know it’s the perfect location to learn to survive in the wild. But something else has been drawn there. Something nightmarish, unspeakable. Through a chance discovery, they step into a world where great darkness dwells behind the brightest of lights. 

This giveaway is now closed and a winner drawn at random.

Congratulations Theresa Jeffries – a paperback copy of The Shade Clan will be on its way to you soon!

THE SHADE CLAN – available on Amazon Kindle

Buy The Shade Clan for £0.99p now

Buy The Shade Clan for $1.54 now

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Man dug the quarry. Nature reclaimed it. Then something else moved in…

Anything could be happening in that place, in that post-industrial wilderness reclaimed by nature; the place they know as The Shade.

When Tom and his friends discover the vast, overgrown quarry, they know it’s the perfect location to learn to survive in the wild. But something else has been drawn there. Something nightmarish, unspeakable.

Through a chance discovery, they step into a world existing alongside the world they know, where great darkness dwells behind the brightest of lights.

What is living in that forgotten hole in the ground, and how is Aleksander, the charismatic stranger who comes into their lives, connected to what they’ve encountered?

Enthralled and afraid, Tom, Katya, Cal and Annabelle are soon asking themselves if anyone can be trusted, if anything is at it seems.

Read a taster

THE SHADE CLAN – coming soon

Anything could be happening in that place. In that post-industrial wilderness reclaimed by nature; the place they know as The Shade.

When Tom and his friends discover the vast, overgrown quarry, they know it’s the perfect location for them to set up their camp and learn to survive in the wild. But something else has been drawn there. Something nightmarish, unspeakable.

culand pit panorama tint 2

Through a chance discovery, they step into a world existing alongside the world they know, where great darkness dwells behind the brightest of lights.

What is living in that forgotten hole in the ground, and how is Aleksander, the charismatic stranger who comes into their lives, connected to what they’ve encountered?

Enthralled and afraid, Tom, Cal, Annabelle and Katya are soon asking themselves if anyone can be trusted, if anything is at it seems.

‘Sanitarium’ horror magazine giveaway

Win a free hard copy Issue  of ‘Sanitarium’ magazine 

Sanitarium is a monthly magazine that brings its readers the best up and coming horror fiction from new writers and seasoned pros. It features short stories and dark verse of real quality, plus interviews and news about the horror fiction world.

sanitarium 16 cover

To enter the giveaway, just answer this question:
In the first taster of my new novel ‘The Shade Clan’ (download here The Shade Clan – Chapter 1 excerpt), what product features on the T-shirt worn by the BMX rider that Tom and Annabelle see?

Complete the form below, including your answer and click submit. The winner will be drawn at random from those who submit a correct answer.

The giveaway closes at 12 noon GMT (UK time) on Sunday February 16th.

‘The Shade Clan’ – download a taster

“Every time he went there, Tom had the same thought: anything could be happening here and no-one would know.”

Download free tasters of The Shade Clan:

The Shade Clan – Chapter 1 excerpt
The Shade Clan – Chapter 1 excerpt 2
The Shade Clan, excerpt 3

yew woods

WHEN HORROR MOVED OUT OF THE CASTLE

Where would get your vote for the greatest horror novel setting of all time? Castle Dracula? The Overlook Hotel? There are many possibilities, but there’s a good chance your answer would fall into the category of ‘old, scary building’. Buildings, as containers for fear, are absolutely crucial to the darker side of literature.

Recently, I read the book that started it all. And it’s not Frankenstein or Dracula. It was written more than 80 years before Bram Stoker was born. And its author was, of all people, a Member of Parliament. Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto gave us the prototype for every old, scary building that came after.

From page one, its inhabitants are terrified by surreal goings on in its shadowy chambers. The dark corridors and echoing crypts are full of whispers and shrieks of alarm. The castle is not only a setting for inexplicable and disturbing events but almost seems to be an accomplice to them.

The Castle of Otranto caused a sensation and this one short book launched an entire genre – the gothic novel, the forerunner of all horror and paranormal fiction. The gothic castle would remain the preferred setting for this kind of macabre entertainment well into the 19th century. And it’s still a powerful archetype today, even if sometimes in a tamer, friendlier form; isn’t Hogwarts just the Castle of Otranto echoing to the shouts of a rowdy school party?

Over time, the action moved into more modest, domestic surroundings. Which was lucky for writers in countries like America, where the only castles are the concrete and fibreglass ones belonging to Mr Disney. The vampires, spectres and monsters deigned to slum it in houses – as long as they were large, old and rambling. In Salem’s Lot, Stephen King places the Marsten House at the absolute heart of his narrative. It becomes almost a character in its own right, influencing events. This “beacon of evil” is not just the place where the vampire Barlow happens to end up – he has been drawn there, attracted by this powerful magnet of darkness.

So by the late 20th century horror had largely move out of the castle. Terror had down-sized. That’s perhaps because while the writers (and many of the readers) of 18th and 19th century gothic novels had occupied the upper echelons of society, modern writers tended to be ordinary people, living in ordinary houses, in ordinary towns.

This democratising of dark fiction had one very important and powerful side-effect: it brought it closer to us all; it brought it to streets and houses like our own, to our doorstep. And any psychologist will tell you that fictional narratives have a much greater impact on audiences if they happen against familiar backdrops.

Ancient battlements and secret passageways are all very well but they are not part of everyday experience for most of us. The horror that dwells in that empty house on the edge of your town is much more potent, relevant and harder to forget.

‘Elsham’s End’ now in all e-book formats on Smashwords

My debut novel, Elsham’s End is now available on Smashwords.com 

Smashwords converts e-books into multiple formats, so you can download it to all devices and for reading on PCs.

You can also see a large sample of the book before you buy.

ANYTHING COULD BE HAPPENING HERE AND NO-ONE WOULD KNOW

I’ve become fascinated with a particular kind of place. The kind of place no-one goes. It’s not far from town and it’s close enough to major roads to hear the distant rush of traffic…but it might as well be on the moon.

You probably know a place like this, if, like me, you live in quite a densely populated part of the world. An ex-industrial hinterland, a long dis-used quarry, a cluster of abandoned buildings. Maybe you went there once and, even though nothing in particular happened, you came away thinking, I’m never going back there.

I’ve become fascinated with the idea of places that are remote despite being in busy, well-populated areas, and are in fact all the more isolated for that.

Let me give you an example. When I’m not a writer, I’m a conservationist. I was asked to survey an area that had been impacted upon by the building of a high speed railway line. My job was to look at how the habitats the railway had cut through might be replaced – straightforward enough. But I was more struck by the way the new line had also cut through several country lanes, which were not important enough to make a bridge or underpass economically viable. All these winding little roads had become dead ends. No-one used them anymore. So the abiding impression I took away from that place was of a whole area that, because of the new railway, had thousands of people passing through it on a daily basis, yet had been rendered isolated by its very presence.

I’ve become fascinated by the idea that anything could be happening in these abandoned corners, and no-one would know. What a beautiful twist in the story of our civilisation, that the worst things, the most terrifying things might be found not in a remote castle or a lonely wilderness, but it that forgotten place, not so far from town, that you promised yourself you would never go back to.

HJW 16/10/12

The real ‘Elsham’s End’

All fiction has its roots in real life. Even fiction that deals with the supernatural.

One of the most common questions I get asked about ‘Elsham’s End’ is whether it’s based on a real place. Well the answer is yes – so here is the story of the real ‘Elsham’s End’.

‘Elsham’s End’ is based on the house I grew up in, in the Kent countryside. I was very fortunate to live there – it was a beautiful place with a large, rambling garden. But my family’s relationship with the house was ambiguous – we all loved it and yet I think we all knew there was something not quite right about it.

It was fairly isolated and I suppose that contributed to this feeling, a vague sense of unease. It was very quiet there, particularly at night. Many of the events in the book came from dreams that I and other members of my family had. Visitors who stayed in the house often reported strange and unsettling dreams too, some refusing to sleep there again.

My mother particularly never really felt at ease in the house, and I later discovered that she hated living there. She had many dreams that centred around the boxroom, a small attic space above the garage, which features very strongly in the novel.

In looking for an explanation, she always put the peculiar atmosphere in the place down to its history. Two sisters had lived there before us. Essentially they had run a private hospice there – a place where people went to die.

My own experience of living there is hard to pin down. I really only became aware of how strange the house felt when we left. My older brother and sister had flown the nest, so we moved to a smaller place in a busy little village further up the valley. I was ten years old, yet I was acutely aware of how different the atmosphere was in the new house. And I realised I’d just stepped out of the shadow of the old place, which had been cast over me from such an early age I was not even aware of it.