Echoes of a Song – Spotlight

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Echoes of a Song – A Legacy of the Mask Tale is now available as an audio edition – to celebrate here’s a spotlight!

Synopsis

A dozen tumultuous years after the dramatic events at the Paris Opera House Raoul, Comte de Chagny is still haunted by the mysterious Opera Ghost – the creature of legend who held staff at the Opera House under his thrall, kidnapped Raoul’s lover and murdered his brother. In Raoul’s troubled imagination the ghosts of the past are everywhere, and a strange and powerful music still calls in his dreams.

Madness, obsession and the legacy of the past weave their spell in this short, tragic tale based on the Phantom of the Opera.

Excerpt 1

(c) A. L. Butcher

The Angel of Death stalked the De Chagny’s so the whispers said. Maybe it was true. For once the Angel of Death had been a man. A masked man of magic, of music and of murder. The Angel had many names, and many guises; Raoul had once laughed scornfully at Christine’s infatuation with the Angel of Music. But now he understood the terrible bewitchment, for it was his now to bear. This man, this ‘Phantom’, who at once was angel, ghost, maestro, architect, and magician had held them all in his not insubstantial power. Erik – so he called himself – had almost brought the mighty Paris opera house to its knees. Erik’s opera house, so Christine had told him. And in those desperate nights, at least, it had been true.

Raoul pulled out the hidden drawer beneath one of the shelves and read the newspaper – now yellow and faded – as he had every night for three years like a consuming obsession. First the accounts of the ‘accidents’ at the opera: the terrible night the chandelier had fallen killing an employee, the apparent suicide of a stage hand and the murder of one of the foremost tenors. Wild stories abounded about an ‘Opera Ghost’ who’d managed to fool the managers into parting with a fortune, terrified the corps de ballet and whose face was so terrible to behold that any who saw it would die, but who sang with an angel’s voice. The truth was not something that bothered the Paris Tribune too much, but the truth could be strange beyond reason. And the Surete could hardly believe the wild stories of masked men and angry ghosts. They’d searched and asked questions, and considered a cuckolded husband or an angry father, but no perpetrator had been found. The case dwindled into obscurity. Months and years went by and other cases took prominence and now few remembered one death in a city where murder was common and adultery more so. Peering at the faded print in the bad light Raoul found the part he sought in the letters of the city’s more reputable rag.

“Erik is dead,” Raoul said it aloud. Three words. Three words which had haunted him these twelve years.

Echoes of a Song – Universal Link

Amazon .com http://amzn.to/2E7Cdu0

Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/2BJwAgk

Print

https://amzn.to/2N0JIbI

https://amzn.to/2Nxki4I

Amazon Audio https://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Song-Legacy-Mask-Book/dp/B07HCKG3WK/

Amazon UK audio https://www.amazon.co.uk/Echoes-Song-Legacy-Mask-Book/dp/B07HCM1624/

Audible UK https://adbl.co/2xlH8Tz

Audible.com https://adbl.co/2MRTQP7

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The Watcher – Spotlight – now in Audio

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The year is 1888, and the place is Whitechapel, in the very heart of London. But the heart is bleeding. A mysterious killer is stalking women of the streets – his true name is unknown but his legend will go down in history. This is a short tale of Jack the Ripper.

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18 rating for scenes of violence.

https://www.books2read.com/TheWatcherJTR

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2xdkprc

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2v6EUsb

Smashwords  http://bit.ly/2xtps6k

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2v6xDZs

Kobo http://bit.ly/2v6zoG6

I-books

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/the-watcher

Watcher cover audio1.1-1.png

Audio – narrated by Matt Jenkins

Amazon UK audio

https://amzn.to/2xxI86q

Amazon Audio

https://amzn.to/2DpJSoG

Audible.Com

Audible.co.uk

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Matt Jenkins

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*Name: Matt Jenkins

*Tell us a bit about yourself: Born and raised in a church (literally, in a church – the graveyard was my playground…) I have been reading in public since I was able to see over the lectern. Then I got dragged down the dark path of technology and computers consumed my soul. At least for a while. Then, thankfully, I escaped. Now I’m a Buddhist (much to the chagrin of my Christian folks) and a freelance electronic designer. One side-effect of all the technology is an understanding of audio production, and I am the chief audio engineer for the local Talking Newspaper for the Blind. I also sing in a number of local choirs.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? One of our reading team at the Talking Newspaper mentioned ACX to me one day, so I thought I’d look it up and see what it was. Sometimes when reading a book I’d secretly visualise myself producing it as an audiobook, and ACX has opened that door to me.

Is this your day job? Nope.  As I mentioned above I am a freelance electronic designer. I spend my days sat in front of my computer drawing lines on the screen. Industrial control and monitoring systems are my thing.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? This is a tough one to answer: I have only produced two books so far – The Watcher: A Jack The Ripper Story, and Beyond The Vale, by Kerry Alan Denney.  I’m not sure which is my favourite, as they are like chalk and cheese.  Both have been enjoyable to produce, and good stories that I enjoyed reading.  I hope for many more to come.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Not really a preferred genre. I do, though, think it’s important to enjoy the stories you read. If you’re not enjoying the story it comes across in your reading. You have to enjoy the story to take a proper interest in it and bring the story to life. There’s no genres that I won’t touch, but if the book doesn’t appeal to me I won’t bother with it. Mostly I gravitate towards fantasy and science fiction, but I’m not fixated solely on it.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? Just finished The Watcher. Nothing lined up at the moment, but I do have a few auditions out there – one I’d really like to get selected for is Among The Dead – a Zombie book.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) My first book was produced all manually. Lots of reading and re-reading, then cutting up, splicing together, etc afterwards. The editing took longer than the reading. That was the worst part of reading, actually – the editing. So, being a technofreak, I decided to do something about it and wrote my own software to do it all for me. Now the editing is done while I’m reading by the program itself at the press of a key and afterwards is just a brief cleanup to make it sound as good as possible. The editing for The Watcher (it’s only a short story) took about 30 minutes, and 25 of that was just listening through.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Getting to read books I’d otherwise never think to read – and (hopefully) getting paid for it 🙂

What do you find least enjoyable? The post-reading editing. Hence the spiel above….

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Not yet. But that’s only after 2 books…

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yep, I do. Being a freelance designer my income tends to come in lumps, with vast expanses of poverty in between.  With royalty share, I’m hoping to get a little bit of regular income to help smooth over those dearths.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Indeed I do. They’re great to keep the right side of my brain occupied while I’m working with the left.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I don’t know if it’s the future, but it certainly has a prominent place in the future.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? They’re great for when you’re commuting, jogging, working, whatever it is you do. You can listen and do other things (which is important in this fast-paced, need it yesterday, world).

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Probably a Terry Pratchett (read by my hero Tony Robinson). Sourcery + The Colour Of Magic I think it probably was. On cassette.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I’m not an author (yet).

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I’ll let you know next year 🙂

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not as yet.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? Pause. Just that. Pause. The silence is as important as the words.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? Is there such a thing as bad advice? If you learn from the experience it’s still positive, yes?

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Well, there’s The Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan). That’d keep me in work for the rest of my life. I am (of course) a Terry Pratchett fan, but there’s no way I’d be able to match up to Tony Robinson’s readings. I quite like Tom Holt’s works – they combine fantasy with the kind of warped humour that appeals to my twisted psyche. Plus doughnuts.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I spent 3 months living in Sweden when I was 4. When I came home, and started school, the teacher asked: “Who can count to 10?”. I put my hand up, stood up, and counted to ten, perfectly. In Swedish. Ett, två, tre, fyr…

Where can we learn more about you? I keep my personal life off the internet. But you can check out my company site if you like: https://majenko.co.uk

Social Media links: Social media is a mug’s game. You won’t find me on there. Twatter, Basefook, etc – not for me. I value my sanity, and I don’t need the rest of the world to tell me I’m fat: I already know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour and Character Interview – Campbell Ryan Quinto/Mary Ramsey Paranormal/Ghosts

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Name:  Cam

Which book/world do you live in? Dakota Son

Tell us about yourself: (Name, race/species, etc.) Hi, my name is Campbell Ryan Quinto and I’m a ghost.

How do you see your world? For the first few years after my death, I saw the world like a movie; watching the worst of reality happen in front of my eyes with no way of helping the people I care about. But now, after meeting Sean (my sister’s new boyfriend, her new saviour,) I’m able to leave the hospital and follow him as his guardian angel. Although there is still a limit to the people I can actually communicate with, my world has been opened significantly.

What part do you play in this tale? When I was 18 I chose to end my life, rather than keep fighting the ongoing war with cancer. I left behind my parents and my little sister. My mother blamed my father for my choice and my sister Jen rebelled as she grew into a teenager. I was stuck watching it all play out; my own personal hell. When Jen was 14 she was beaten and raped by her now ex-boyfriend, for defending the disabled kid. Not that Sean is disabled. Cystic Fibrosis is legally considered a disability, but one look at the guy you would never guess the tall, high school athlete was anything other than a normal teen.

Dakota Son, is his story. You’ll have to read it to find out more of his side of the narrative. All I know is: I’m now his guardian angel, attached to him so I can use his physical form as a means of interacting with the world of the living.

Do you consider yourself a good person/creature? I try to be.

Do you follow any religion? I lived and died a Catholic. I believe in God, and hopefully one day he will allow me to cross over.

What is your favourite colour/food/music (pick one)? Blue; the colour of the sky, the ocean, the world of the living.

 Links to book etc

Dakota Son Amazon

Dakota Son – Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Google Play

Kobo

Find out more about the author at :

https://dourdan.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/pisforpearl

https://www.deviantart.com/dourdan

*****

 GIVEAWAY!

 Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/mary-ramsey/

 Use the Rafflecopter to enter for your chance to win one of two Amazon or iTunes gift cards.

Rafflecoptor giveaway

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Hell Week 2018 – Orpheus/Janet and Chris Morris #HeroesinHell

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Welcome to Orpheus

Who are/were you?

I was the Thracian Argonaut, magician, musician, and prophet. Still am, though here I do hell’s bidding, such as sitting in this dank cell with you as my interrogator.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell? Eurydice, the oak nymph, my wife; most beautiful and desired of women, lo these many years lost to me – twice sought and once returned to me from Tartaros

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work? Love is the province of the soul; death cannot faze it nor passion still its rhyme.

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours? You jest. Do you not see the puddle by my feet, the wet where I sit on your prison bench? Do you cannot hear the dripping from my flesh? All of us who served on Jason’s Argo drown again and again in salty water, and between drownings our skin drips brine continually.

Who are your friends/allies here? Friends in hell? That’s the contradiction. My friends met in hell are my friends met in life; those met in hell who serve my ends let me serve theirs: such men and women, witches and goddesses, and empowered souls like Shakespeare and Marlowe serve the gods of hell from their day and set us tasks that lead us to more curses and misery: in hell, suffering is the only true coinage, and even that be scarce.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

Home? Environment? I am a musician, part of the pit orchestra in New Hell, a place where all the worst from every day and age gather together and prey upon one another, eon after eon. Sometimes we serve as sea-going mercenaries in Jason’s crew, but with Medea on our track, these days bring only danger, loss, and separation for an infernity that makes lovers weep and the devil grin.

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here? No, not ‘eternity.’ Infernity – thanks for that to John Milton, who like the Bard of Avon and his lover Marlowe create words to suit their trials and tribulations, words that jump from their lips and torture damned souls the more.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world? Adjusted to digital damnation? To weapons that don’t work well but take their feet and serve like soldiers; to politicians spouting lies from their umbilicals? From avengers, who stalk one another throughout hells ages and devise punishments more foul the deeper in hell you go. Feel that cold, seeping from the brine that drips from me? The closer to hell’s belly you get, the more you suffer its cold – loveless, lonely, and afraid.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? I know what I did, writing my Orphic missives: I called upon hell and it answered, sending a viper to kill my Eurydice and sending me on fruitless quests to find her deep in Tartaros.

What are your greatest fears here? That, once I find her, I should lose her again – only so many times can a mortal beseech Hades and Persephone for manumission. Eurydice is the breath of salvation to me; without her, afterlife is an empty threat.

Love is Hell-FB3

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio:

Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. Christopher Crosby Morris is an American author of fiction and non-fiction, as well as a lyricist, musical composer, and singer-songwriter. He is married to author Janet Morris.

Tell us about your story for this edition. For Lovers in Hell, Janet and Chris Morris wrote a novella in three parts which follow lovers as they lose and find one another among hell’s multifarious domains.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen? The characters for lovers include those who have served in other volumes of this series, such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Sappho, Samael, Orpheus, and some never before met, such as Eurydice,

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge? We do a new Hell volume every year or so, or whenever we have enough stories that meet our criteria. In the time between volumes, we discuss with our group of writers story names, themes, and execution. Writing for hell is not easy. At this moment, we have two more volumes plans, so we may never escape hell ourselves . . .

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options? We’ve wanted to do Lovers in hell for years, but we didn’t have the right group of writers for it. This year, all the requirements came together and we called for stories for Lovers in hell. Next will be Mystics in Hell, which suits our current list of characters and invites new ones.

What are you currently working on? An anthology and a new novel by Janet and Chris Morris, as well as some new music.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them. Aristotle: On Breath, one of the most accessible works of Aristotle in the Loeb edition.

Ghost Stories of Henry James – in which something actually happens during each story, most often in the last two paragraphs. We learn more from James every time we read him, as we do with Waugh.

What are your views on authors offering free books? We disapprove of this generally, and only once in a great while offer books for free, if we’re introducing a new author or reissuing a series.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t comment on reviews if you can possibly avoid it.

Which books/movies/plays have influenced your life? The Black Stallion. Justin Morgan Had A Horse, The Iliad. Hamlet. Henry V. Brideshead Revisited. Lion in Winter. Atlas Shrugged.

In these days of movies and video games are books really influential? I hope so. The books we write aren’t for beginning readers, in any case, and if the casual reader or the various Hater sects are attracted to digital games and other diversions which provide no deeper value or commentary on the human condition, then that’s fine with me: it keeps them off the streets.

What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why? Fire, which allowed the earliest development of humanity. The Wheel, which allowed humans the key to engineering. Early writing (such as pre-cuneiform and hieroglyphs), which created the tools for written history. The Rosetta stone, which showed people the possibilities of comparative linguistics.

 

Hell Week 2018 – Lady Gemini/Andrew Weston

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Love is Hell-FB20

Who are/were you?

I am the Lady Gemini, Daemon Grim’s newest Hell Hound. In life, people knew me as Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, (l’ ange de l’assassinat) – or simply, Charlotte Corday – the assassins angel. Born 1768, in France to a minor aristocratic family, I was executed by guillotine while still only twenty-four years old for the murder of Jacobin leader, Jean-Paul Marat.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell?

Though it’s unrequited, I’ve fallen for my boss, Daemon Grim. A bit of a sticky dilemma as he’s only recently lost his soul mate, Strawberry Fields, who he destroyed utterly in self defense.

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work?

In a nutshell? It doesn’t! Not for the damned masses, anyway. But now I’ve risen to the ranks of the elite, I’ve been told I may express my desires in any way I see fit . . . so long as it’s away from the public eye and knowledge of such freedom isn’t bandied about for all and sundry to hear.

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?

Though I have a nubile form, exquisite grace and speed, and am extremely athletic, I’ll never be beautiful again. Before my elevation, I complained once too often and am condemned for all eternity to wear a face of two distinct halves . . . as you can see in my picture.

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It makes smiling quite a chore, I can tell you. (And helps explain the ingenious name I’ve been labeled with)

Who are your friends/allies here?

I have very few, but they all count. After my fall from grace, I became an assassin of some repute throughout all the levels of infernity. That put me much in demand, at the cost of acquaintances. Regardless, since my inauguration into the Ancient Disorder of Hell Hounds, I’ve gained the closest thing you can get to family, and am determined to protect that treasure with all my strength.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I live in a suite situated on one of the top floors of Black Tower, in what you mortals would call the Tower of London. Here in the underverse, we called that ancient edifice the Den of Iniquity—or the Den for short. As with your topside version, it’s located at the center of the sprawling slum that was Olde London Town. By hell’s standards, it’s abject luxury. But we’re expected to get results. If not, well . . . what happened to the previous Lead Hound – Nimrod, and the former Chief Inquisitor – Strawberry, serves as a stark reminder how easy it is for the most privileged of the damned to fall again.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world?

I’ve been very lucky. As an assassin, I was allowed access to all sorts of weaponry and technology, and I didn’t really have to pay a diablo. Those who commissioned my services often footed the bill for the gadgets I needed. Gadgets I got to keep as part of the successful conclusion of a contract. Needless to say, that involved travelling to some of the remotest, most backward parts of the underworld. I got used to it pretty quickly. And when I became a Hell Hound? Wow! You ought to see the crazy stuff we have hidden away in the dungeons here at the Den.

What is/are your greatest fears here?

To fail. I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens to the privileged elite who do.

 

Author Spotlight

Name and bio.

Andrew P. Weston

Andrew P. Weston is a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
As creator of the critically acclaimed IX Series, and Hell Bound & Hell Hounds, (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell universe), Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
When not working, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects and supporting charities. He also writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

Tell us about your story for this edition.

In The Devil’s Trull, Daemon Grim and the Lady Gemini travel to the Kigali homeland, Ki-gal, in search of information pertaining to the machinations of two of the biggest thorns in the flesh ever to cross the Reaper’s path: the infamous scientist, Nikola Tesla; and the renowned composer, Frédéric Chopin, who it is feared have trespassed upon Kigali territory in order to further their revolutionary aspirations.

Along the way, they discover just how ingenious the diabolical duo have been in fomenting rebellion, and how too the Sibitti have been at play, sowing seeds of doubt and mayhem in preparation for their final play against latterday hell’s most potent champion.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

It was twofold really. My contribution to the shared universe involves leapfrogging my individual novels regarding Daemon Grim’s adventures with the anthologies. This story is a natural progression of a bigger picture. However, it gives me an opportunity to peel open a particular juicy segment of Daemon Grim’s personal life. As fans of Satan’s Reaper will know, he recently lost two of the closest souls to him: Nimrod – his best friend; and Strawberry – his long-time lover.

Their relationship had been rather complicated in the events leading up to The Devil’s Trull. Because of Grim’s inability to bring all the fugitives from injustice to heel, Satan had punished Grim. Firstly by denying him a corporeal form, and secondly, by stripping him of the privilege of intimate contact with the only one he has ever loved. Grim couldn’t even touch Strawberry without her suffering the fate of the masses – who succumb instantly to the Reaper’s “death touch.”

At the end of Hell Hounds (the novel preceding this particular anthology), Grim was forced to execute both Nimrod and Strawberry, actually obliterating them from existence. So he’s hurting. Not only does he have to contend with deep personal anguish and hurt feelings, but he’s battling to hold his head above water against an ever-increasing tide.

Gemini is the only suitable candidate he could find to offset the shortfall in his ranks. And sure enough, because of her own demons, Gemini has also been denied the comfort of companionship too. Just look at her face! In such a close-knit, high-pressure environment – one in which Daemon Grim has been returned to his devilishly handsome pseudo-human form – romance was bound to blossom.

And of course, the phantoms of past relationships and failures loom large . . . compounded by the fact that Tesla and Chopin seemed determined to stick the knife in. And of course, there are the Sibitti. . .

How did you become involved with this project?

Like everyone else, I was invited to write by Janet Morris a few years back. And I haven’t stopped enjoying myself since.

What are you currently working on?

I’m just rounding off the third and final book in the Author’s Cut version of a new supernatural action-thriller series – The Cambion Journals (The Rage of Augustus; The Kiss of the Succubus; and – just completed, The Embrace of the Incubus). I can’t wait to find out what people think of the series, as Augustus Thorne is bound to be popular with the ladies.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.

I’ve not long finished Cruiser Dreams by Janet Morris, and Convergence, by Matthew S. Cox, in collaboration with J.R. Rain.
The blurbs for the books are as follows:

Cruiser Dreams. . .

She is heir to an empire beyond all imagining, where interstellar cruisers have become increasingly sentient and man’s role among the stars is transformed.

In this epic of political treachery, interstellar security, human passion, and artificial intelligence, Morris continues the saga of the fiery girl Shebat, stolen away from a decaying and primitive Earth to be the adoptive heir to the Kerrion Empire. Moulded to serve the designs of the Kerrion state, Shebat instead becomes the harbinger of change sweeping the civilized stars.

Against the chaotic background of simultaneous social and technological revolutions, Shebat finds that the man she loves is her implacable enemy, that the man she reluctantly married is perhaps her single ally, and that her space-faring cruiser may be her only true friend.

***I really enjoyed this story, as it explores the minefield of human relationships and especially – if it can be imagined – the relationship between man and machine . . . ‘machine’ with an ever-evolving artificial sentience. If you want to find out more, see my blog for a more in-depth review. It’s a truly thought-provoking read. ***

Convergence. . .

Intrepid reporter Solstice Winters has spent most of her life halfway between normal society and that of her magical parents. However, when getting caught between two worlds becomes more than metaphorical, being able to summon light or open locks might not be enough.

Neither her love life nor her professional life are going anywhere in a hurry. Her boyfriend is successful and handsome, but she constantly has to compete with his job for affection. At thirty-two, she works as a photojournalist for The Spiritualist, a small paper dedicated to magic and the supernatural―that most people regard as a tabloid. Desperate for that ‘one break,’ she’ll do almost anything to get that big story and get into a ‘real’ media outlet.

Years of always not quite fitting in begin to make sense after an error at a particle physics laboratory alters the dimensional alignment of the world, strengthening magic and revealing an unexpected truth to Solstice: She’s not even human.

*** This was an entertaining little journey into relationships of another kind. Magical beings are suddenly appearing all over the Earth, and Solstice doesn’t even realize she’s one of them until it’s too late! Of course, she ends up in the middle of a monumental mess that makes her wish that ‘big story’ she’s been after all her life would just go away. Fun. Down-to-earth. And thoroughly entertaining. ***

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

I like Daemon Grim’s quote: “Your life has been a stage, and hell is the curtain call.”

 

Hell Week 2018 – Joseph Merrick/Joe Bonadonna

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Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you?

My name is Joseph Carey Merrick. Most people know me as the Elephant Man. The story in which I appear is titled Withering Blights.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell?

Antonia Ford. In life she was a spy for the Confedaracy during the American Civil War. Here in Hell she once spied for Guy Fawkes until she was captured by Satan’s agents, tortured and then sent to the Mortuary, where the Undertaker removed her eyes before reassigning her. We take care of each other. I am her eyes, and she does for me what my physical condition and limitations prevent me from doing.

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work?

There is no contradiction at all. The physical act of love is painful, more than I can or am willing to explain. That is one of Hell’s punishments. But true love transcends the act of sexual congress. Love often begins as a platonic relationship. It is of the heart and of the mind, and yes, even of the soul, damned though we may be. Love, loyalty, friendship, even honesty and integrity—these things can be found in Hell, for many a damned soul has changed their ways in the futile hope of redemption and salvation. Love exists in Hell, to be sure. Antonia and I help, care for and do our best to protect one another. Is that not love in its purest form? The paradox here is that, in Hell, love becomes truly a spiritual emotion.

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?

I was cursed at birth with my ghastly affliction. During one moment of agony and despair, I cursed my Creator, and thus upon my death found myself in Hell. Upon my one and only visit to the Mortuary, the Undertaker declared me to be a masterpiece sculpted by the hand of a mad genius. He refused to tamper with my grotesque beauty, and thus sent me on my way.

Who are your friends/allies here?

First, there is Madge Kendal, the beautiful actress who befriended me in life. She is a wealthy actress here in New Hell City, and because of her wealth and generosity, she gave to me Withering Blights, an old, Gothic mansion she owns. Antonia and I live there, and we earn enough diablos to live on by begging and doing what jobs we can. Doctor Victor Frankenstein is another dear friend, as is his companion and assistant, Quasimodo, the famous Hunchback of Notre Dame. They are hard at work right now trying to find eyes to give to Antonia, so that she may see again, and a new, young and healthy body in which to house my brain. In life, the good doctor succeeded in doing just that, although with disastrous results, if you recall.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I do not sleep much, for sleep often brings with it nightmares even more horrifying than what I have seen and suffered here in Hell. My former life was a weekend at a holiday camp, compared to Hell, what I have witnessed here—plagues, torture, floods, endless pain—all give birth to these unsettling dreams. Thus, while Antonia sleeps, I often roam the dark corridors and empty chambers of Withering Blights, contemplating my afterlife and agonizing over an eternity here in the Netherworld.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

As I have already stated, I countered-cursed the Almighty for cursing me with this ghastly malady, this terrible affliction which prevented me from having and enjoying any sort of life at all and was, eventually, the cause of my death.

Love is Hell-FB3

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Joe Bonadonna is my given name. I am the author of the heroic fantasy Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy), published by iUniverse; the space opera Three Against The Stars, published by Airship 27 Productions; Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent, published by Golden Box Books; the sword & sorcery adventure, Waters of Darkness, in collaboration with David C. Smith, published by Damnation Books/Oracle Press; and in collaboration with Erika M Szabo, Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (winner of the 2017 Golden Books Judge’s Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy), and The Power of the Sapphire Wand, both published by Golden Box Books. I also have stories appearing in: Azieran—Artifacts and Relics, published by Heathen Oracle; GRIOTS 2: Sisters of the Spear, published by MVmedia; Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Poets in Hell, Doctors in Hell, and Pirates in Hell— all published by Perseid Press; Sinbad: The New Voyages, Volume 4, published by Airship 27 Productions; and most recently, in collaboration with author Shebat Legion, our story, Samuel Meant and the Little Black Cloud of the Apocalypse, appears in Michael H. Hanson’s shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Toys, published by Moon Dream Press. In addition to my fiction, I have written a number of articles and book reviews for Black Gate online magazine.

Tell us about your story for this edition.

Withering Blights concerns Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, and his friendship with Antonia Ford, with whom he’s in love, although he doesn’t quite realize it. He thinks he’s in love with Madge Kendal, their benefactress. But she’s in love with the dastardly Francois Villon, the famous Vagabond Poet of France. Being friends with Victor Frankenstein and his assistant, Quasimodo, Merrick asks the good doctor if he can provide Antonia with a new set of eyes. Victor, always up for another challenge, readily agrees to help Antonia, and then decides he may be able to construct a new body for Merrick or perhaps put his brain inside the skull of a young, healthy body, something he is, of course, quite familiar with. But in order to do that, Victor and Quasimodo must do business with the owners of the Cannibal Café, the two most infamous body snatchers in England’s history: William Burke and Willam Hare. There is also a sub-plot involving Madge Kendal and her tempestuous relationship with leech, varlet and gigolo, Francois Villon. Can love conquer all, even in Hell? You’ll have to read the story to see how that all plays out.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

I have now written about Victor Frankenstein in Poets in Hell, Doctors in Hell (in which Quasimodo becomes the doctor’s new hunchbacked assistant), and Pirates in Hell. It was Janet Morris’ story arc for Lovers in Hell that first inspired me to come up with something that would hopefully read like a cross between Emily Bronte and Edgar Allan Poe. While watching two Boris Karloff films, Frankenstein and The Body Snatcher, I began to wonder what sort of experiment I can get Victor involved in this time around. Then suddenly, as sometimes happens, the idea of building the story around the Elephant Man popped into my brain. I did my research and chose Antonia Ford and Madge Kendal as “love interests.” Picking the two body snatchers, Burke and Hare, was a no-brainer. And then, after watching Ronald Colman in the film, If I Were King, in which he played Francois Villon, I realized what a lost opportunity it was not to have used Villon in my story for Poets in Hell. So I added him as Kendal’s rogue of a companion and voila!—the story wrote itself after that.

How did you become involved with this project?

Having already written stories for Poets in Hell, Doctors in Hell and Pirates in Hell, I was once again invited to contribute a story to Lovers in Hell. I have so much fun writing Victor Frankenstein and Quasimodo and I wanted to keep going with them, I wanted to get them involved with characters I thought would fit in with their own little corner of Hell—the Golem Heights and Goblin Manor. I wanted characters I could possibly use again in other stories, sort of creating my own little infernal repertory company, if you will. I thought Merrick, and Burke and Hare perfectly suitable “actors” for my purposes. There are other characters I’ve used in my earlier tales set in Hell, and I hope to bring some of them back for future stories. After all, the dead and the damned don’t die in Hell, they just get reassigned when they’re sent off to the Mortuary.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?

If possible, I try to link my stories to those of the other writers. We can borrow, loan and exchange characters, if we wish, per prior agreement and with certain conditions. I always write for the main story arc Janet Morris sets down, and that’s my guideline; whatever else pops up is more icing on the devil’s food cake. The challenge is writing in a more literary style than I would say, for a pulp fiction adventure yarn. I try to match my prose and dialog to the theme of each volume, and to the story I’m writing, in particular. I do the same with dialog. With Withering Blights, for instance, I watched Wuthering Heights, with Laurence Olivier, and The Elephant Man, with John Hurt. I tried to capture some of the nuances of their speech, as well as that of other actors appearing in the films. For Victor Frankenstein, I try to do a bit of actor Colin Clive, who played the doctor in the Boris Karloff film, and for Quasimodo (who has regained his hearing in Hell), I model him on actor Charles Laughton, although I try to make him speak with more of a French accent, and a bit more eloquence; I also decided to give him somewhat of a different personality: still heroic, still a force to be reckoned with, he is my comic relief. For my story in Pirates in Hell, which features a number of long-deceased movie stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, I just watched their movies and picked up on their style. Jean Harlow was the most fun to write.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

There were no other options. Withering Blights was the story that popped into my head, and it’s the story I wanted to write.

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

I think this quote is perfectly suited to Victor Frankenstein, who is so wracked with guilt over the consequences of his actions in life, and if you’ve read the stories I’ve written about him in Hell, you’ll understand how well this fits him. “The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.” — John Calvin.

Thank you very much for this opportunity.

You can find me on Facebook and Google+

Visit my Amazon Author’s page at:  www.amazon.com/Joe-Bonadonna/e/B009I1KYIK

Check out out blog, A Small Gang of Authors, at: https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com/

My Facebook author’s page is called Bonadonna’s Bookshelf, at: https://www.facebook.com/BonadonnasBookshelf/

Hell Week 2018 – Michael Dellert/Peter Abelard

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About yourself:

*Who are/were you?

I am Peter Abelard, once a master and canon at the University School of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. King Philip (now remembered as the First) was king of France when I was born. William of Champeaux called me the “supreme master” of dialectic after I replaced his master. My writings were denounced by the Church, and amid the scandal of a forbidden love affair, I was excommunicated and forced to burn my works in disgrace.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell?

Whom it has always been, hand to heart: the beautiful and learned Heloise d’Argenteuil. She was born the unimportant wife’s-daughter of a minor branch of the prestigious Garlande family, ministers to the medieval royal court of French King Philip.

She grew into one of the most learned young women of western Europe, renowned for her brilliant exegeses of philosophical and spiritual texts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French. She and I conspired to make her my pupil, under the auspice of her uncle, one of my fellow canons at the Cathedral School of Notre Dame.

But calamity overtook us.

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work?

There are some who say that love is something His Satanic Majesty simply cannot understand, and therefore, he cannot control it. Others, like myself, imagine He understands it all too well.

Heloise and I were illicit young lovers in turbulent times. Our tale in life ends full of wretched disappointment.

Now in Hell, we are buffeted about eternally by the gyring hurricanoes of our lively passions, and yet forever separated from one another by those same gales. Only in moments of respite can we simply be together, as we once were in life. And even then… Well. It is hell, after all, is it not? How many happy marriages are there in life, nevermind hell?

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?

If I am to be honest before the Lord, my worst sin in life was: ‘insufferable arrogance.’ The rules of the Church and the nobles mattered not one whit to me, if they could not see what was plain before their faces in my teachings. Why should the good Lord promise the world an intellect such as mine and then litter the way to understanding with such obstinate fools?

And, if loving Heloise be a sin? I fully admit my guilt and repent the evil of it, but not one whit the joy.

Alas, there is no forgiveness for arrogants and seducers. Thus, I am tormented by raging cataracts and gales, buffeted by the winds of my passions like so many discarded broadsheets in the streets, blown at random through the netherworld.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I have not known a home in the millennium or more of my torment, for the winds blow where they will. Most recently, the turbulent storms of my passions for Heloise deposited my lover and I in the nightmare city of Perish, a hellish grotesque of our beloved earthly Paris. Is nothing sacred?

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here?

Another curse of my torment is to be broken upon the wheel—repeatedly. Wheresoever I go, I must be wary of anything with a wheel, lest it turn upon me, run me down, and mangle me.

So really, we travel a lot. And then stay a while. And then travel again. Between the ceaseless buffeting of storms and the relentless pursuit of runaway iron-shod cartwheels, I spend what time remains in discussions of love and philosophy with my beloved Heloise — smarter than myself, and by half.

The infamy of our sins kept us apart in life, but now it is delicious torment to have all of eternity in which to do as we please, rather than as we should.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

Did I not mention the insufferable arrogance?

I was adulated by the crowds who gathered in the streets and worshipped by women as their knight. I grew rich on the fees paid by the aristocratic families of my students, and I was ruined for many women. I was a seducer sure of my charm but overwhelmed by work, traveling on horseback and power quarrels, when I deflowered a daughter of the powerful Garlande family, ministers to the royal court.

For these many sins — of passion and unrepentant pride, both in thought and deed — I was castrated, excommunicated, and disgraced in life. And for these many sins, I am cast down to Hell.

What is are your greatest fears/desires here?

My greatest fear is that I should be separated from my beloved Heloise. Despite all that happened between us, we maintained a correspondence of letters and advice, each to the other. Now, in Hell, we struggle to remain together against the passions that buffet us from each other. She is my only hope of someday, somehow, finding redemption in this world of loss.

Love is Hell-FB16

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Hi, I’m Michael E. Dellert. I’m the author of The Matter of Manred Saga, an ongoing collection of fantasy tales, and the short-story “Calamity,” my contribution to the Lovers in Hell anthology. I’m a writer, editor, publisher, and writing coach. I also have two teen daughters who will be delighted to discover their good Catholic father is a Hellion. I live in the Greater New York City area.

Tell us about your story for this edition.

My story for Lovers in Hell, “Calamity,” addresses issues of love, fear, separation, pride, and humility in a fantastic Bangsian excursion into a nether-hell of torment, paranoia, and passion.

Love and romance is always a challenging topic to address. Love is (along with fear) the most universal and primal of emotions and the subject of enough literary energy to start its own fusion reaction. So what about Love in the most unlovely setting of all: Hell?

That was the question I had to ask myself when I was invited to write for Lovers in Hell. How can lovers maintain their relationship in the face of the curses that Hell can throw at them?

Several other writers in the Heroes in Hell series have depicted historically infamous sinners—Shakespeare, Napoleon, Marlowe, Caesar—with important (and sometimes successful) romantic relationships. How do they manage it? What keeps the fires burning in Hell? How would Peter Abelard and Heloise d’Argenteuil manage it? What would be their curses? What obstacles would seek to drive them apart?

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

I had long been doing research on the period of the 1100s AD in Western Europe, but had never had the opportunity to do a deep dive into the Parisian academic life of Notre Dame during that period. Paris was the height of intellectual inquiry and argumentation in the Europe of the day, and the rock-star of that academic scene was Peter Abelard. He quarrelled with his colleagues, had a scandalous affair with a lady of a powerful noble family, and was excommunicated for the heresies of his Rational philosophy.

But more than all that, Peter Abelard is most well-remembered as one half of a tragic love story between himself and his student, Heloise d’Argenteuil, the tale of a lifelong respect and care for each other, despite the tragedies and plots that contrived to keep them apart in life.

And if a man is best judged by his enemies, Abelard’s were considerable, including powerful members of the monolithic medieval Catholic Church, right up to and including the Popes of his age.

Abelard was a perfect nexus for exploring a bit of the philosophy and politics of the historical Church as well as questions about love, gender equity, pride, and what it means to be ‘damned.’

How did you become involved with this project?

Near as I can figure: pure blind luck. I happened to be doing an author event on Facebook, supporting the publication of a writing colleague and promoting my Matter of Manred series.

Joe Bonadonna, whom I knew by reputation as the author of the amazing work in (among other things) Mad Shadows and Three Against the Stars, reached out to me afterward and introduced himself as an agent for Perseid Press’s Heroes in Hell Anthology Series.

I’ve been a fan of Heroes in Hell going all the way back to its first incarnation in the late 1980s. It’s been a playground for such legends in the field as CJ Cherryh and the current franchise-owner and Hellion-in-Chief, Janet Morris.

So, when Joe offered me the opportunity to submit a hellacious short story for consideration in an upcoming Heroes in Hell title, I was honoured, as well as challenged, by the thought of taking up the distinguished mantle of ‘Hellion.’ It’s a privilege to join this illustrious and infernal society in their sandbox, and I am grateful to be included in their company.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?

The most unique thing about the “shared world” anthology series is how it creates such a deeply contextualized milieu. The authors each bring their own specific world-views together to create this dynamic backdrop against which the actions of the characters unfold. It’s a rare sort of social contract, a mutual pact of trust between authors: that we’ll do honor to the conversation that’s gone before.

Operating within that environment requires a deep respect and admiration for the history and effort that each of those authors and editors has contributed to the series, over the course of decades.

So the first thing I did was re-read the entire anthology, from its earliest incarnation to the present, to remind myself of how lovingly this Hellish world was developed, to refresh myself with the conversations among these great and many authors, and to understand the obligations that come with writing a story set in this world. It’s a privilege, and a lot of responsibility.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

The tragic historical romance of Peter Abelard and Heloise d’Argenteuil was a mainstay of popular literary culture in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, depicted with various degrees of lurid detail, but always as a tale of forbidden—but consensual—love between student and master.

The reality of their historical correspondence raises some interesting questions about consent, however. Abelard repeatedly admits that he took unfair advantage of Heloise, and perhaps even raped her. And yet there is no denying the love, care, and respect they have for each other—particularly she for him—in their later epistles.

So theirs was clearly a complex relationship, set amid a pivotal moment in European history: the rise of the university system, Rational philosophy, the early Crusades, and the consolidation of Catholic authority.

I wanted to explore what that complex relationship would look like in Hell, faced with no social inhibitions against their once-forbidden love, and only their own demons between them.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently developing a new novel project, featuring adventure on the high seas of a savage shore, the dangers of imperialism, and the horrors of colonial subjectivism. A team of former soldiers and adventurers are dispatched in search of a mythic artefact erected by an ancient race in a lost city. Will they survive long enough to solve the mysteries and enigmas left in the ruins of empire?

I’m also tying up a fiction book proposal for another novel that’s already in the can, to be offered to publishing agents.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.

I just finished reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which I’m sorry to say I hadn’t already read. It’s the story of an interstellar war, and the cruelties to which man will put his fellow man in the interest of “the greater good,” told with a spartan, yet delicate and philosophical style.

I also just re-read Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. A classic swashbuckling Golden Age of Piracy adventure by a modern master of adventure tales, it’s the story of a dashing English privateer and his plot to steal a galleon of Spanish gold. Set in the seventeenth century Carribean against the backdrop of the colonial pirate city of Port Royal, Jamaica. The manuscript was found complete among Crichton’s artifacts after his death, and published posthumously.

In between, I’ve been working my way through the complete Arthur Conan Doyle bibliography of Sherlock Holmes titles, and revisiting Lovecraft country.

What are your views on authors offering free books?

Authors and publishers have always offered free books to book-buyers, when that used to mean, “bookshop owners and booksellers.” On my shelf, I have a Galley Copy of an Arthurian young adult fantasy that was passed along to me by the shop-owner of a Waldenbooks, when I clerked a summer there. The Galley Copy had been sent to the owner for free by the publisher, to whet the store’s interest in stocking from their new upcoming catalog of properties.

And professional book reviewers and critics with major media outlets, professors of courses in certain subject matters, talk-show hosts, all these have received free books from authors and publishing companies. “Promotional” copies of work have always been an important part of the business model of writing and publishing.

It’s certainly part of my business model as a writer. For promotional and personal reasons, I offer a free newsletter and blog where I share creative writing tips and fresh fiction scenes from my workshop. The second “story” in my fantasy saga, The Epistles of Eithne and Eowain, is available for free from my website, and a digital copy of Hedge King in Winter is available to subscribers of my newsletter.

But at the end of the day, writing’s a job and publishing’s a job, like any other job; the ledgers have to balance. The free copies have to pay for themselves, through their promotional value. So it’s all a balancing act and every author has to tread that line as best they can.

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

There was a Twilight Zone episode from the ‘80s series reboot, in which a professor argues with a devil over the plight of his soul. Throughout the episode, the devil is wearing a lettered, novelty t-shirt, but the message of the lettering changes everytime he’s in frame. My favorite message from that shirt: “Gehenna is a City. Much like Newark.” I myself grew up in that great State of New Jersey, so ever since, “Newark NJ = Gehenna.” I take a certain home-team pride in that.

What other books/short stories have you written?

So far, I’ve written and published a series of five stories — an epistle, two novellas, and two novels — in The Matter of Manred Saga, a series of heroic, low-fantasy, medieval adventures with strong Celtic themes and imagery:

  • The novellas, Hedge King in Winter, and
  • A Merchant’s Tale;
  • Nine letters between lovers, The Epistles of Eithne and Eowain;
  • And the novels, The Romance of Eowain, and
  • The Wedding of Eithne.

I also offer creative writing advice and free snippets of fresh fiction on my blog and in my newsletters, The Adventures in Indie Publishing.

Your readers can learn more about my writing from my blog and newsletter.

They can also follow me on Amazon and Goodreads, on Twitter (@MDellertDotCom) and on Facebook (Michael Dellert, Author).

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Hell Week 2018 – Helen of Sparta

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Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you? I am Helen, Queen of Sparta, you would know me as Helen of Troy. I was once the wife of King Menelaus, and lover and wife to Alexandrous – Paris, Prince of Troy. I am technically a demi-god – the daughter of a goddess. It makes no difference here. Such divine blood is at best worthless, and at worst a curse in itself.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell? Whoever bears the Golden Apple. It’s my curse. The machinations of our goddesses tricked Paris into loving me. Athena, Hera and Aphrodite offered him power, courage in war and many victories, or the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife.  Paris had to present the Golden Apple to the most beautiful of the goddesses. Goddesses don’t take kindly to being thwarted, or a mortal man finding another more comely. It didn’t end well. Paris – being a man – thought with his loins and gave the Apple to Aphrodite.  Unfortunately, the most beautiful woman in the world was married to the king of Sparta, whose brother was the feared Agamemnon. They were both rather annoyed when I ran away….Men cannot settle things in the way a woman can and so battle was declared. It is said our elopement caused a decade of war, thousands of deaths and the fall of the city-state of Troy, and thus Greek supremacy in that area. I was a legend, and unfortunately, I still am.

His Satanic Majesty has decreed that the ‘Trojan Whore’ is a lay for any man bearing the Apple. I have no clue where it came from, maybe it followed me. One does not ask such questions here. So I am the lover of all-comers – if you pardon the pun. Old, young, handsome or ugly it makes no difference. They all look like poor Deiphobus, whose death is also laid at my door.

I cannot have Paris, Menelaus hates me and so I am the lay of the netherworld.

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work? It doesn’t. Love is anathema in hell – and sex is… unpleasant. There are scorpions and other such creatures in all sorts of bizarre places. Humans will be humans and try to cling on to what they knew in life. It fails.

Who are your friends/allies here? I would not exactly call them friends, but I am here with my half-sister Clytemnestra – wife of Agamemnon; Penelope, Queen of Ithaca – the wife of Odysseus, and Queen Dido of Carthage. We don’t get along, but we do understand one another and have a shared past. Clytemnestra hates me but to be fair she hates everyone. Your husband murdering your daughter for a capricious god and then going to war for ten years leaves one a little bitter. She murdered her husband, you know, when he returned. Now she really loves him and wants him. He cannot abide her. And then there’s Dido….

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here? Time becomes meaningless after a while. There isn’t really day and night, or months and years. It’s hell – it just goes on and on. I try and avoid meeting men, I chat with Penelope and Cly, when I have to. I read. I try and work out why I am in this Hell and not Hades, which is my Hell. I relive the horrors of war.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world? Some would say we were as far from your technology as it’s possible and still be civilised. In Hell it’s different. Nothing works properly for a start but it ranges from spear and sword to guns, flying machines and the ‘craplet’ communication devices. One learns to adapt. As you say eternity is a very long time.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? Life’s a bitch, so they say. Love certainly is. This is not my hell. I was the pawn of meddling gods and loved unwisely. Many women take a lover, but usually, it doesn’t lead to a monumental war.

What are your greatest fears/desires here? My greatest fear is this will truly be eternal – there will be no respite for my sins.

My desires – I’d like to be alone.

 

Author Spotlight

Author Biography

British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’.  She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.

She also curates for a number of speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit.

Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.

Alex is also proud to be a writer for– where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/

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Website http://www.libraryoferana.co.uk/books.html

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Tell us about your story for this edition. I love mythology, especially Greek and Roman myth and so I decided to see if I could entwine my knowledge of the Trojan War and it’s aftermath to the world of Hell. From a modern perspective there were a lot of ‘sins’ committed – lust, jealously, arrogance, murder, infanticide, theft – you name it someone did it. But usually we hear of the tales from the point of view of the menfolk – but what about the women? Helen ran off with a lover, then left another lover to the ravages of her irate hubby, Penelope lied, tricked and flouted convention, Clytemnestra took a lover then murdered her husband and poor Dido committed suicide for love. All of them earned a place in hell. And all of them killed, deceived or died because of love.

I have tried to keep the storytelling ‘mythic’ as I love to read such tales.

How did you become involved with this project? Some years ago I got chatting with an author whose book I’d read and thought was awesome – that book was I, the Sun and the author was Janet Morris. Social media is great for bringing together people who’d otherwise never meet. Janet read some of my own work, and liked it, and my style, and asked me if I’d consider getting involved with her Heroika project. I was delighted! One doesn’t get an offer like that every day. That led to being involved with Hell – this is the first volume I have written for but I have run ‘Hell Week’ on my blog for the last few years. It’s a lot of fun.

The world which Janet and Chris have created is very versatile, but also darkly humorous – and really appeals to me. Anything is possible, nothing goes according to plan, and famous personages find themselves in situations which range from amusing to downright diabolical. Where else would Napoleon and Wellington be neighbours, Shakespeare write for Satan’s amusement, Frankenstein and his creation work with Quasimodo, Civil War era soldiers ride tanks, and ancients fly helicopters? It’s a creative writer’s dream.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge? Although Hell is versatile there are rules, and a writer needs to understand that, and do his or her research. I have read most of the recent Hell volumes and they give a great insight into the workings, landscapes and characters of Hell. A writer has to get permission to use a character and scenario – there’s the risk someone else has already used the character – and the scenario may not be appropriate. There’s quite a lot of terminology to learn. Not every story is accepted.

What are you currently working on? Book IV of my fantasy series, a story about a demonic bicycle (yes really), some more Kitchen Imps tales, poetry, and the next Hell story…. Not all at once – but I dip in and out depending on my mood, my health and my inspiration.

What are your views on authors offering free books? A few years ago I ran a debate on the Mythic Scribes forum about this very subject – the ‘fors’ and the ‘againsts’ were interviewed and we gave both sides. It was interesting, as many authors have strong views. I also chatted to readers about it. Some readers love freebies – especially from an author with whom they are unfamiliar – and some think it devalues the book. If it was any good why give it away.

My own thoughts – I have downloaded and read some great free indie books, and some rubbish ones. But I have also bought plenty of books, indie or otherwise which sucked. And of course, some which were great. Free doesn’t mean bad – it just means free.

It’s a useful way of attracting readers and promoting the rest of an author’s work. But it does need to be used correctly. There’s not a lot of point using it if you only have the one book – but again that depends on what an author wants from his or her book. And keep in mind a reader who likes the book they downloaded six months ago may go on to buy another of an author’s work in another six months, not everyone buys or reads a book immediately. I know I don’t – ask my kindle and the five shelves of books in the house….

What marketing tips/writing advice can you offer other authors? Decide what you want from it – and be realistic. Many if not most indies don’t make much money. If you are writing to make a living then there are jobs which pay way better and have quicker returns. Most of them in fact. That said if you are writing because you love to write then go for it!

Marketing is hard work, time-consuming and often futile. There is not a single strategy for success. Some things work sometimes and not others, some things have good returns and some things don’t and it’s not the same for everyone. If you have a limited budget there are free/lowcost options – facebook, Twitter, blogging, interviews, Linked in etc but each of these have their limitations. How many times have YOU bought something from a Twitter link? I never have. Although I do find a lot of books via Facebook and blogging.

Write because you love it, and you can’t not write. Don’t give a damn whether what you’re writing is the next ‘big thing’ because it probably won’t be next month

If you could have a dinner party with any man and woman from anywhere and any when who would invite and what would you eat?  Sir David Attenborough, Homer, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley, JR Tolkein, Terry Pratchett, Queen Elisabeth I. What would we eat? My mother’s roast beef, Yorkshire puds and cake.

Which 10 books would you save to keep you sane after the apocalypse? (Only 10 allowed).

  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Watership Down
  • The Count of Monte Christo
  • I, the Sun
  • The Sacred Band
  • War of the Worlds
  • Complete Works of Shakespeare
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Dune
  • The Odyssey

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t. Really just don’t. Particularly on unfavourable reviews. You’ll do more damage than one or two snarky reviews. Move on. It’s just one reader’s opinion and you can’t please everyone.

Which books/movies/plays have influenced your life? Star Wars, The Odyssey, Schindler’s List, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I, the Sun, Watership Down, The Count of Monte Christo,

In these days of movies and video games are books really influential? Of course. Reading a book is a totally different experience. In a movie, the images are there – laid out and it’s someone else’s physical interpretation – in a book, an author can describe something but it’s the reader’s mind which sees it. Example – I watch Star Trek – I know exactly what the Starship Enterprise looks like – she is there on the screen. I see what everyone else sees (give or take). Had I not seen a film but I had read the book what I imagine the ship to look like is my interpretation, and the next reader and the next. In a movie we think – wow look at those special effects – in a book, our mind and imagination ARE the special effects.

What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why?

  • The wheel (obviously). Add to cart/logs and bingo you don’t have to carry heavy stuff
  • The Internet – you can find out anything about anything, meet and befriend people on the other side of the world, run businesses from your lounge, buy things and never have to go into a supermarket.
  • Writing – I’m a writer. I have to say that.

Apart from that:

Electricity, inoculations, domestication, steam power, space flight, flight, refrigeration, art, music, bricks, steel, modern medicine, anti-biotics, fire, maths.

If I was asked the three top detrimental things ‘we’ have invented/discovered/manipulate:

1)Politics

2)Religion

3)Greed

Wars are usually fought over one or other of these.

 

A Hand of Four Queens – features in Lovers in Hell (Heroes in Hell)

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2Mlga3e

Amazon.com https://amzn.to/2x4QqlS

lovers in hell