Meet My Character Week – Madam Giry


How did you find yourself in your current predicament/on your current adventure?Life is an adventure, of that I am certain. What led me here? A Ghost. 

Years ago when I was a lonely and neglected bride I saw a travelling fair – of the sort the gipsies manage. There he was – this young man in a cage – like a beast. The fashion was for freaks – bearded women, dwarfs, those unfortunate souls God had touched with something not quite right. This man in a cage wore little more than rags, his face covered by a mask and his eyes had a hateful feral look but when he sang – heaven wept. Neither before nor since have I heard such a sound – it went directly to the soul and bared it before one – raw, weeping, glorious. 

Then his keeper made him remove the mask. Such a face was revealed as the devil himself would turn from. Poor Erik. For that was the wretch’s name.

I did not know it then but an act of kindness would send my life and my heart along paths I never knew I could endure. He wept at kindness. A life of such woe that a simple Christian kindness brought this man to tears.

 The caged devil – The Living Corpse – became a ghost, and an angel and our paths diverged for many years but I never forgot that music, and he never forgot the only kindness he was ever shown.

How many crimes have you committed? I sheltered a murderer, I aided his escape. I have been complicit in blackmail, theft, seduction – and I have sinned before God in thought and deed. I turned away from the Church, I loved a man who was not my husband, although I never committed adultery I thought about it.

How do you think others see you?  A stuffy, prim and proper dance mistress and seamstress. I know what the corps de ballet whisper about me. Some of the girls spend more time on their backs than dancing and I have seen what happens to those left with an unplanned burden. They are Séductrice! I am strict, but I am not stupid – those who leave due to pregnancy will end up at best a short term plaything for the rich patrons. 

Are you resilient? Do you deal with change easily? How do you react? I’ve had to be resilient. My mother died when I was very young, my father died when I was just married, my husband’s family despised me, several of my children died, and I’ve been a widow for twenty years. 

I would like to say God saw me through the hardest times, but I am unsure if that’s the truth. I dare say I deserve it.

If you could live your life again would you make the same choices? If I was married to Jules when I met Erik? Yes, I think so. The rational side of me says what kind of life could I have had with him? Always on the run, probably often afraid and hungry. Could I live with the things he’s done first hand? I do not know. The part of my soul that yearns to live in that music, for the Angel to sing for me, as he sang for her says I should have made the choice to have followed him. 

What is the hardest choice you’ve had to make in the course of your adventures? What was the easiest? I have a daughter, I buried my other children, and then my husband. I had very little for a long time and then Erik arranged for me to come here. That was an easy choice. The hardest? I suppose not having the courage to say I would go with him when he left the barn so many years ago. Not having the courage to say what was in my heart. Turning aside when the bodies started mounting up, and having to stand by whilst he destroyed himself for that ingénue, Christine Daae.

What trait do you abhor most in yourself or others? Spite and shallowness. 

Do you have any dirty secrets? Apart from the crimes, unrequited love, casting my Catholic upbringing aside, knowing who is behind the murders here and not informing the gendarmes? No, I can’t think of anything else.

Have you ever loved/been loved? I loved my husband Jules He was a decent man but he has been gone a long time. I loved my father, and I loved Erik. I believe Jules loved me. Did Erik love me? No, but he was kind to me – helped me when I was desperate and hungry – but he did not love me.  Perhaps the tragedy at the Opera house could have been averted had he loved me, not her. 

Do you believe in a god/s? I was raised a Catholic but in the dark nights when I hear Erik’s music in my dreams and see that awful, terrible visage given to him by God I wonder at such a fickle deity – a god that took my children from me and left us to starve. I have sinned and so perhaps that is my punishment but as each year passed my faith dwindled.

Why should we read about your adventures? My story is a tragedy; a tale of desperate love, death and music. Ours was a strange friendship that spanned the decades and sustained two terribly lonely souls and we had that night in the barn, so many long years ago. 

Madam Giry features in

Tears and Crimson Velvet

Madam Giry finds herself embroiled in the tragedy unfolding at the Opera house; mystery and murder stalk the corridors and, it is said, a ghost haunts the place. Giry knows the truth, for she recalls the caged man she met so many years ago. This is her story, their story.

When murder and mystery begin at the Opera House one woman knows who is behind it, and what really lies beneath the mask. Secrets, lies and tragedy sing a powerful song in this ‘might have been’ tale.

A short, tragic tale based on characters from Phantom of the Opera.

A Legacy of the Mask Tale.

Amazon UK

Amazon UK audio audio


Audible UK


Barnes and Noble




#Heroika Skirmishers – Beth Patterson and Her Character

Name: Beth W. Patterson

Give us a brief synopsis of your story. The continuing story of Thérèse Naquin (aka “Pichou,” or Creole for “wildcat”) is one of the eleven-year-old girl in the heart of rural Cajun Louisiana. Pichou mourns the loss of her mentor Mister Broussard but finds a contemporary in a boy her age who moves into the late man’s vacant house. The two quickly become fast friends, eagerly swapping lore and talents. Their happy camaraderie is soon disturbed by the tiny town’s newest threat, a legendary serial killer. Devoid of guns or blades, they must rely strictly on their wits, their quick young bodies, and a heart-stopping bluff that could cost them their lives.

Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about? The magic and lore of southwest Louisiana was something I’d already experienced in my youth. It was one of the few settings that I felt I could truly make authentic. I began to feel my deepest appreciation for my native Cajun country around my teens, roughly the time when I began to dive deeper into reading fantasy and collecting folktales. A friend of mine and I would often skip school and go visit a lot of elderly iconic Cajun musicians, often recording them playing tunes and telling stories. I named my story after a song by the late, great DL Menard.

What research did you do for the story? I revisited the place that was the inspiration for the setting. I hadn’t spent much time in St. Landry Parish and Evangeline Parishes since maybe 1991. I got sunburned, bug bites, mud splashed up to the roof of my car, and a speeding ticket. In other words, I had a ball. A lot of scenes were set in real places I’d visited in my youth, such as the bar/feed store. I thought it would be a good idea to preserve that little Polaroid snapshot in my memories of a zeitgeist that has definitely changed since then.

What is your writing space like? It’s complete chaos at the moment. I have my own little office, but it’s crammed with musical instruments, piles of notes, journals, and music charts that I still either have to file or throw away. I’ve moved three times in the past three years (with a grand total of ten times over the past twelve years). But now I think finally I might be able to thrive in this new house. I still need to unpack most of my research books (my husband and I are currently using stacks of boxes for our makeshift live-streaming living room studio during the quarantine). But I have a shelf within my line of sight that contains some special items that help me step into a certain frame of mind: photos, candles, a rubber ducky given to me by my late friend Robert Asprin, a painting by my sister in law, a little pair of foo dogs, a tiny brass unicorn, a 3-D printed octopus that shoots the bird multiple times, and a handmade sparkly rainbow skull-spider that a friend sent me (as a thank you present for helping to keep him from going too stir crazy with my quarantine videos). All of these give me courage.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’m trying to be a better plotter, because I think that having a well thought out story arc does make for stronger structure. But some of my passages that people seem to find most memorable are my most spontaneous ideas. I was trying to have an actual formula for a story last night, with some necessary questions: What does my main character want? What obstacles are standing in the way? What are the main character flaws? How does the conflict resolve? Is the antagonist a good guy or a bad guy? And then two thousand words just came pouring out before I had a chance to set the framework, so who was I to stop that rare deluge? As we say in music, “I’ll fix it in the mix.”

Is being a writer ‘what you do’ or ‘what you are’? It’s more what I am, because I haven’t yet invested enough time and discipline for it to be what I do. Playing music has been my bread and butter for almost thirty years, so I’ve had to give that priority. For me being a writer is a state of mind. I’m constantly processing incoming information through a storyteller’s lens. Sometimes I’ll start daydreaming, and my husband will notice a look on my face and ask me, “Are you creating a scene again?”

What did you want to be when you grew up? My brother teases me about how when I was little I assembled a little axe out of popsicle sticks and went around whacking on tree trunks (apparently I wanted to be a “woodchopper”). I did attempt writing some stories before kindergarten, for I had taught myself to read and write, even before I knew which way some of my handwritten letters were supposed to face. When I was in the third grade, I saw an episode of Cosmos on TV that was about DNA, and went through a phase of wanting to be a biochemist. By the time I reached the sixth grade, I wanted to be a rock star. While I’m mostly glad that I stuck with being a self-employed musician, I’m glad that not all of my wishes came true, because I definitely couldn’t have handled fame.

Character Section

Name: Thérèse Naquin (aka “Pichou,” Creole patois for “wildcat”)

Tell us a bit about yourself. I’m eleven years old, the whole town thinks I’m fou-fou (crazy), but I’m gonna go to the big university in Lafayette someday and become a herpetologist. Either that or discover monsters and prove that they’re real, like a cryptozoologist. I’ve got one good friend, a boy my age I call Firing Pin. He’s smart like a fox and draws real good. And that’s all I need, me.

Tell us a bit about the society in which you live. We’re pretty far away from the big city. A lot of the old people are superstitious. Everyone is Catholic, but sometimes a little folk medicine never hurt anyone. Everyone on TV talks about Cajun cooking as something really special, but fancy restaurants never get it right. The best food you’ll ever eat is at someone’s maw-maw’s house.

Are you brave? I don’t know, me. There’s some scary stuff out in the world, but when you’re the only one who can stop it, what are you gonna do? I helped this town, but I was scared the whole time! Maybe someday I won’t be afraid anymore.

How do others see you? My Nonc (Uncle) Ulysse and Tante (Aunt) Rosalie think I’m too wild. They didn’t really like me too much when they were raising me. But I saved our town from a dragon, so I think they can forgive me a little bit.

Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone? I loved the old man down the road from me, Mister Broussard. He taught me to play the fiddle, told me stories, and always had time for me. But he died, and then Firing Pin moved into his old house and became my friend. I don’t know if I love FP or not, but he’s fun to do things with, like when we make Burmese tiger traps or go looking for monsters. I don’t think I hate anyone. My aunt and uncle used to say mean things to me all the time, but I don’t hate them.

What do you REALLY think of your author? She’s okay. She kinda reminds me of myself. But she needs to go outside more. She hasn’t forgotten that monsters are real (although she thinks that monsters are just bad people), but she’s stopped believing in the good guys. I’m gonna try real hard to make sure that I don’t grow up to be too much like her.

What is your favourite thing? Animals, especially reptiles and amphibians.

Well, I killed a dragon that was destroying my town, and later I helped bring down a serial killer. That’s gotta count for something.


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AUTHOR BIO (short)

Beth W. Patterson was a full-time musician for over two decades before diving into the world of writing, a process she describes as “fleeing the circus to join the zoo”. She is the author of the books Mongrels and Misfits, and The Wild Harmonic, and a contributing writer to over thirty anthologies.

Patterson has performed in nineteen countries, expanding her perspective as she goes. Her playing appears on over a hundred and seventy albums, soundtracks, videos, commercials, and voice-overs (including seven solo albums of her own).

She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband Josh Paxton, jazz pianist extraordinaire.






Echoes of a Song – Best #Fantasy 2019

Yay! Echoes of a Song came top in the NN Light Fantasy category for best book reviewed in 2019!


The other nominations are here 

Check out some of these awesome reads.

Echoes of a Song

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 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.

Available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and many other stores on the link below.

Universal Link

Amazon .com


Amazon Audio

Amazon UK audio

Audible UK

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Hell Week 2018 – A Day in the Life of Haeckel and Carter

Today on the Infernal Broadcasting Channel we welcome Ernst Haeckel and Howard Carter.  Pull up a seat by the fire and get out the marshmallows….

[Ernst Haeckel]: (Stares into empty interrogation room). “Gutentag. Is anyone in here?”

[Interviewer]: (An electronic voice rasps over the intercom). “Please, have a seat. Who are you?”

[EH]: “Ernst Haeckel. Do you not remember me?”

[Interviewer]: “Of course, sorry, lots of Hellions coming through today. It is quite chaotic with this queue, Doctor Ernst Haeckel. Have a seat. Questioning will begin shortly.”

[EH]: (Sits in one of two chairs at a table facing a one-way mirror, then strokes his white beard anxiously). “Last year, for Hell Week 2017, I spoke to a real person for the kick-off of Pirates in Hell.  Compared to this cell, that was a comfortable office. The Librarian of Erana, Alex Butcher, was a kind hostess with a splendid British accent. She appreciated the fantastical pasts of history. Back then, I was promoting the pirate tale ‘Curse of the Pharaohs’ in which my compatriot, the tomb raiding Howard Carter, and I explored the Mediterranean shores of the Vile Delta. You I cannot even see.”

[Interviewer]: “Let us get to the point. Do have Osiris’s treasure?”

[EH]:Was is das? I am an expert in natural life, not man-made art. Archaeology is Carter’s expertise.”

[Interviewer]: “You both are academic researchers who appreciate custom suits. I need to distinguish between your disciplines and art… and motives. Remember, anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.”

[EH]: “Interesting. What do you mean? It is simple. I dig through the earth to document living things, or their remains. Carter digs to find items that man crafted.”

[Interviewer]: “There must be overlap, things that you both would covet. What about weapons made from once-living matter, like bone? Architecture moulded from the earth? Or babies brewed in test tubes?”

[EH]: (Silently stroked beard, excited about those questions but afraid to implicate himself). “I am sure Carter would like those.”

[Interviewer]: “Any you, Doctor Haeckel?”

[EH]: “Perhaps.”

[Interviewer]: “Have you seen your partner recently, this Howard Carter?”

[EH]: (Looks around, unsure where to direct his voice). “Hmmm, not for several days. We do seem to be fated to work with each other, so I am sure our paths will cross. If we do, I am sure we will revert to our divisions of labour: he does relish looking at materials, while I enjoy dissecting nature’s beautiful objects.”

[Interviewer]: “You remain a discredited evolutionist—a creator of fake news, true?”

[EH]:Ja, perhaps. Yet, I am a renowned artist and ecologist.”

[Interviewer]: “Well, the authorities require the truth now. Not embellishment. Where is your partner in crime?”

[EH]: (scoffs). “I am no criminal or liar. However, sometimes the truth must be extrapolated. It is easier for the public to accept abstract concepts as if they are well-established theories, even when ideas are not even ripe hypotheses. Anyway, if you are looking for a criminal, then you want to know where Carter is? Why would I know?”

[Howard Carter]: (Opens door suddenly, enters, and shuts the door. Sits is the open chair beside wiping his brow of sweat with a handkerchief. His Savile Row suit vest bulges with a mysterious, fist-sized object). “Ernst! So glad you are here. I’m on the run—”

[EH]: (Motioning to quiet his compatriot, pointing to the mirror and ceiling).

[HC]: “—I found the most amazing, golden artefact. This is better than anything I found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. This is—”

[EH]: (Clears throat loudly). “You speak in the company of others.”

[HC]: (Not detecting anyone present, raises an eyebrow). “Oh, are you being interrogated?”

[EH]:We are being interviewed, I think.”

[Interviewer]: “Howard Carter…”

[HC]:The Howard Carter.”

[Interviewer]: (Sighs). “Mr. Carter. Were you not fulfilled enough with your 1922 discovery of King Tut’s tomb? You received a lot of press in the papers. More complimentary than any Haeckel received. You still search for more glory. Explain.”

[HC]: (Stroking his vest, and its hidden content, as he leaned back in the chair). “Well, most archaeologists cannot find even a single treasure. They spend decades sieving through sand to find a few shards of pottery. Me? I found a whole trove. Me! I do impress myself. Why let all my potential go to waste?”

[Interviewer]: “Howard, are you still practicing your thievery?”

[HC]: “Archaeology?”

[Interviewer]: “Semantics. Do you court danger by hoarding treasures of antiquity?”

[HC]: (Rubs the hidden item in his suit pocket, then winks at Haeckel). “I do appreciate royal artefacts.”

[Interviewer]: “What is in your pocket, Mr. Carter?”

[EH]: (Glancing wide-eyed at Carter, gasps as he discerns the phallic shape tucked into the backside of Carter’s vest).

[HC]: (Shifts to conceal his chest from view). “Why? Are you in the market for something? I sense you would like to maintain anonymity like my other clients. I am open to offers.”

[Interviewer]: “Do either of you express remorse?”

[HC]: “What have we done?”

[Interviewer]: “For the record, I will review the myth of the Egyptian God Osiris. He was murdered—”

[EH]: “Murder is not really our forte.”

[Interviewer]: (Sigh). “Osiris ruled over Egypt with his wife Isis, but he was usurped by the God Set. The evil Set dismembered Osiris, cut him into thirteen parts.”

[HC]: “Most reliefs indeed point to Set as the culprit. But it may have been another. Not us, in any course.”

[Interviewer]: “All his parts have been reclaimed, but not his most prized masculinity. His phallus.”

[EH]: “Eh gad! The gods are real? And one lacks a penis?”

                (The door latches automatically).

[EH]: “Carter, the door is locked.”

[Interviewer]: “There is no escape from this room until you come clean.”

[EH]: (Clears throat). “We do not hide anything. the next Heroes in Hell Periodical called Lovers in Hell details our adventures. ‘Lovers Sans Phalli’ will explain everything. It will clear our names.”

[Interviewer]: “The gilded phallus of Osiris. Do you have it?”

[HC]: “How much do you want for it?”

[Interviewer]: “I have what I need. This interview is over.”


lovers in hell

S.E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing scientific and artistic skills to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (primarily under the banner “Dyscrasia Fiction”).  With Perseid Press, he writes weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Pirates in Hell). He co-moderates the Sword & Sorcery group on, and invites all to participate. He enjoys studying Aikido and creates all sorts of fine art in the family workshop.


Amazon UK

Review – Lawyers in Hell #Sharedworld #darkfantasy #historicalfic – AMAZON UK – AMAZON

Lawyers in Hell cover

Lawyers in Hell forms part of the Heroes in Hell shared world. As usual with these anthologies, there is an eclectic mix of stories. Some I enjoyed more than others, but there was nothing I didn’t like. From Guy Fawkes trying to sue Satan (Fawkes believes he is a martyr and thus should be in heaven) to Leonides dealing with a recalcitrant Alexander, to ex-presidents, to succubi causing mayhem and Erra and his Sibbiti (an ongoing theme) there is mischief afoot in Hell.

It shows the talent of these authors that although the stories are clearly written by different people, feature a bewildering array of historical characters in all sorts of weird situations they flow smoothly in a brilliantly crafted world.

Humanity will be humanity – even in hell. And thus individuals wish to sue other individuals and the lawyers who worth and the Hall of Injustice are kept busy. Of course, being hell, nothing is simple, nothing works properly and there’s always a hidden agenda. All the characters have some form of penance to pay – be it taking cases they cannot win, representing demons, facing monsters, dealing with the unpredictable technology, and generally trying to survive Hell. The stories are sad (as I said humanity seeks to be humanity with its many faults), darkly humorous, clever, weird and enticing.

5 stars.

Meet the Author- T.C Rypel – Fantasy

Welcome to T.C. Rypel—“Ted,” to all who’d admit to knowing me, as the “About the Author” page admits in the Wildside/Borgo Press re-issues of my heroic-fantasy Gonji series books.  And it’s as “Ted Rypel” that folks can find me on Facebook, although the “Gonji Fictional Character” has his own FB page.  How did he swing that—?


Where are you from and where do you live now? From the Northeast Ohio/Greater Cleveland area, where I’ve lived most of my practical life, although I’ve happily spent a great deal of that time dwelling in the darker regions of my imagination.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. This is a complex request.  I’m an old-timer, by the measure of most who’ll read this.  I began writing professionally, mainly as a sideline, back in the 1970s.  So over that long haul I’ve written, or at least dabbled, professionally in most every literary form you can think of:  novels, short stories, essays, film criticism, poetry, ad copy, speeches, promo/publicity hype, and most recently screenplays.

I began with film reviews, which led to my writing/publishing the first indie mag dedicated to exploring in depth the production and artistry of the classic 1963-‘65 OUTER LIMITS TV series.  That was in the late ‘70s.  THE OUTER LIMITS: An Illustrated Review springboarded other commissioned review work and culminated much later in my only literary award, to date—the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award I shared with author David J. Schow for Best Book of 2014, for THE OUTER LIMITS AT 50.  And I suppose all that film-review involvement served a functional role in my later screenplay efforts (a half-dozen completed horror/sf indie screenplays, none of which have been produced, though we had a close call with one recently; and two of ‘em ain’t dead yet, my friends…).

But the focus of our shared interest here, Alex, is of course the broad category of fantasy fiction, with all its studiously parsed heroic/dark/swords-and-sorcery sub-categories.  And there I’m almost exclusively known for the GONJI series, an ongoing, epic-heroic fantasy sequence of books about an alt-history 16th-century son of a samurai warlord and a shipwrecked neo-Viking shieldmaiden. Compelled by fate and his conflicting parental natures (always battling for balance), master swordsman Gonji Sabatake is set on a quest, from his native Japan and thence into Europe, Africa and “interspheric worlds beyond” by multiple mysterious forces—apparently agencies of Destiny itself.  He was born to be a “millennial course correction.”  Even Destiny apparently needs a hand, now and then, in steering a cosmos that defies its wishes.

Gonji is mysteriously linked to, and eventually joined by, an immensely powerful but misanthropic werewolf-hero character, Simon Sardonis, on this quest—whose very parameters they have to learn by stages—in leading a rebellion against tyrannical superior beings (the Ianitori) who have quietly assumed power and terrorized multiple concentric worlds for millennia (like inter-dimensional nesting planets or “Rubik’s Spheres” with ever-shifting gateways, of which our historical Earth is one).

The series was first published by Zebra Books in the 1980s.  Zebra virtually ignored the heavy fantasy/monster/sorcery elements and marketed the books as mainstream Historical, attempting to capitalize on that era’s embrace of Asian adventure blockbusters like SHOGUN.  Gonji did remarkably well, as a weird by-product of being mis-categorized like that.  But the books missed their intended fantasy audience (an oddly bittersweet experience I recount in the “GONJI Odyssey” essay in the coming DARK VENTURES).

Yes, my colleagues, even arguable sales “success” can bear curiously unexpected career consequences in this writing game we play.

There are five extant books in the recent authorized Wildside Press re-issue sequence:  the series-opening trilogy RED BLADE FROM THE EAST, THE SOUL WITHIN THE STEEL and DEATHWIND OF VEDUN, and the subsequent novels FORTRESS OF LOST WORLDS and A HUNGERING OF WOLVES.  DARK VENTURES is expected out at any time from Wildside (featuring shorter Gonji tales, the creation/publication history essay, plus a preview excerpt of the coming…).  BORN OF FLAME AND STEEL will follow, this being the long-promised Gonji “origin” novel—the first book actually set in Japan, though some publishers’ cover art intentionally created other impressions with the earlier books.

Jeez…what a ramble.  Sorry.


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Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere, as do most other writers.  Oddly, though, while most writers would reasonably be expected to cite books (of all categories) as their chief inspirations, I’ve probably drawn more from movies and music.  Scenes and sounds run through my head constantly.  Both from audio-visual artistic experience and from my own runaway narratives that can occupy my mind, very passionately, when I’m developing a story.  Movies and music can evoke very emotional responses from me.  Much of my fiction-writing concern has been the earnest attempt to replicate powerful feelings I’ve had in response to aesthetics—visual, dramatic, lyrical and melodic—and engender something like them in my readers.

Of course, there’s nothing like being out in the natural world and encountering an unexpected Eureka! moment; the serendipity of seeing something occur that you would never have perceived quite the same way without direct experience and then incorporating it into your fiction.  E.g., witnessing a helicopter crash firsthand, once, along with the bewildering chaos and suffering that ensued, put me more in tune with that uniquely horrible moment, that immediacy of human tragedy, than any news account might have.

Naturally that’s one example of inspiration I’m hoping colleagues aren’t able to take advantage of.

Are your characters based on real people? We all do this to an extent, as we’re trying to create verisimilitude.  We mix and match traits and practical characteristics.  I like taking the occasional archetypal or stereotypical character we recognize from mainstream life and turning expectation on its ear.

I spent a good deal of time and effort on the nuances of minor characters in the Gonji series.  People who began as pretty standard “regular folks” we might encounter at work, or in the marketplace.  Then I forced them to respond believably in extreme, or violent, or supernatural circumstances—sometimes one after the other.   Having a sword or a spear or an unreliable wheel-lock pistol shoved into your hand…and then being told that your grandma was right—there are flying horrors that can dump flaming excrement on you…and here comes one of them now…would have a complex series of escalating effects on you if you were, say, a sundryman, just looking to make a modest living, in peace.  You might think twice about hanging around to help the newly trained militia, if you survived that first monstrous encounter.  But then, someone in your family says, “We must stay and help our neighbors—!” Umm…yeah, OK…

I found it to be quite a lot of work, dealing with unexpected and very individual responses to violent supernatural events.  Especially when I’d read so many stories where, e.g., non-violent types suddenly just became “heroes,” out of necessity.  Of course, we know that such brave souls emerge under fire.  They’re the ones whose stories are celebrated.  But what about those who can’t measure up and then have to live with themselves?  Stage drama and mainstream literature are rife with them.  But fantasy I’d read didn’t acknowledge them much—they didn’t seem to fit the “heroic” parameters.  Yet I found them interesting and useful, in their perspectives on extreme circumstances.  So I often found myself searching the “real” world for people who might enhance my “fantasy” realms with a more reality-based human drama.  Some reviewers have remarked on my characters’ lasting resonance, over the years.  So maybe I was on the right track with my occasional “real-people” observations.
And, by the way, I have sometimes violated one of the hard-and-fast rules of character creation:  using actual people I know, though renamed and slightly altered, as homage characters in a couple of books (positive—always positive characters!).  In every case, they loved it, as it was agreed to beforehand.  But I don’t recommend it.  In fact…don’t do anything I tell you to do.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Oh, sure—haven’t you?!  My long-time friend and mentor Joseph Stefano (OUTER LIMITS writer-producer, screenwriter of PSYCHO) and I once talked about the injection of, and thus dealing with, intense personal feelings in your storytelling; of how that could sometimes be better than professional therapy.  In response to this very question you pose, Joe told me, “You can get over an awful lot by writing about it.”  Which included, I inferred, disposing of perceived trolls in your life experience without paying for it yourself like a character out of Poe or Dostoyevsky.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? World-building can be a fun aspect of creating fantasy fiction.  Of course, with the Gonji series I was constrained to build a hybrid cosmos.  It’s based on a fantastic version of recorded Earth history and most of the early books are spent there exclusively.  But it expands sideways from that with a system of concentric worlds, out of phase with one another.

On Earth, the fantastic elements vanished from history due to banishment, changing principles of matter-energy manipulation (sub-atomic conversion gets supplanted by technology and instrumentality over time), and the push-and-tug of such fundamental power principles between worlds.  Cosmic energy remains the same; its means of access can reflect shifting principles between worlds.  (Most of this occurs more overtly in future planned books in the series.)  So there’s an evanescent sense, as the series goes on, of sorcery and monsters and other supernatural presences sort of vanishing like condensation, to be absorbed into another world’s shifting matter-energy principles; of civilization remanding those marvels to the worlds of myth and folklore, to retain sanity, and avert chaos and entropy, and exercise an arrogant illusion of “control.”  Much of this shifting is seen to be driven by concerted cultural belief.

So, much of the off-world-building necessary to complete what would be Gonji’s finished life narrative has yet to be shown.  But much of the research has been done and the narrative arc has completely been worked out, years ago.  I outline and diagram and cross-reference with cue cards obsessively.  Always allowing for the amazing organic serendipities that occur with any story development, of course.  I await those with eager interest, to see where they leap out from betwixt the cracks in my careful planning to make happy trouble for me!

But for the details of the 16th-17th-century Europe/Asia/Africa that Gonji mainly operates in, I did quite a lot of research on practical aspects of life and culture in those times—and then attacked them with monsters and off-world sorcery.  E.g., I recall that I referred to seven different books on medieval castle construction, daily life, and heraldry just for the Deathwind Trilogy’s “Castle Lenska.  (Trivia for Gonji fans:  Its general layout became that of Harlech Castle in Wales.)  I wanted it to feel right.  Not to mention so that I wouldn’t bang my head against an ill-placed ashlar wall while rushing to relieve myself in the garderobe!

But you can get mired in the details of something like…the precise carving techniques of various meat entrees, on a typical medieval banquet table, if you don’t rein yourself in.  You have to pull back, see that you’ve created a complete physical and atmospheric setting, and swallow back all the additional research you’ve done, which will best serve as the tacit confidence that you’ve done your job on behalf of your readers.  It will show, without your needing to shovel it in.

My favorite resources are still books:  I’ve accumulated a respectable library of good-ol’-fashioned paper research books (with fabulous illustrations) on a variety of topics, over the years.  But in this era, of course, it’s puckishly easy to flit through the cyber-verse and supplement that with legitimate info sites on practically anything you might adapt to your world-building needs.  A magical do-it-yourself store in every keyboard.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Yes, hopefully it’s “Read more of my books!”  We have a duty to readers to keep them turning pages… and taking deep breaths to regulate their elevated pulse rates, and eagerly awaiting confrontations and reckonings and dramatic outcomes and beloved character resolutions, stemming from spiraling, complicating plots and escalating battles—long before they sit back and contemplate how they just now realized that little moral, ethical, universal or cosmic resonance from the finished story that’s revealed itself in satisfyingly haunting fashion, some insight they’ll always remember…

 Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)

 In this order:

Characters.  Plot.  Believable civilization, atmosphere and milieu (world-building).  Technical “perfection”—which is as debatable and elusive an element as you’ll find in any Bore’s-Head ale hall swarming with drunken, bruise-knuckled, debating writers.  They’ll all be potentially wrong.  Or right. (Yes, I once invented a brutal tavern called “The Bore’s Head,” on whose shingle was mounted the stuffed head of a legendary blowhard who finally told one too many phony tales of personal valor.  It was a tough crowd…)

is always number one with me.  If your players aren’t engaging on a human level, then I couldn’t give a shit with what savage fury, sinewy might, or clanging steel they uphold their token warrior-maid’s honor and wrest the sac of enchanted sardonyx from the squid-lord’s underside before rescuing the grateful gaggle of undifferentiated innocents from irredeemably and irrationally evil Lord Pestilence.

There’s probably a bottom-feeder gamer-notion in that, with a high enough corpse count, but I don’t want to read it.

 In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? The Gonji series is available in paper and Kindle from Amazon—and publisher Wildside Press, of course, whose compact is mainly to reprint o.p. sf/fantasy books with copyrights that have reverted to the authors; but they’ve given me a pass on new Gonji books.  They’re also on audio, from Audible, read by award-winning voice actor Brian Holsopple.  And, if you prefer to read them in German, they’re in handsome translated editions from Bastei Lubbe.  There’s supposed to be a French edition in the planning, as well.

Where the hell, though, is the Japanese translation, after all these years?  It seems like a natural.  I mean, Zebra used to tout Gonji as a “fitting successor to SHOGUN,” because of the simple fact of the reversed main-character situation between these two obviously disparate narrative approaches: mainstream vs. fantasy.  My agent—yes, I’ve had the same agent for decades, though we rarely interact anymore—gave up on repping anything like the Gonji style of adventure-fantasy ages ago (a low-earning genre, in purely commercial terms), though she initially sold it to Zebra and much later brokered the German translation deal.  But no Japanese contract.  There’s a story for another time in agent relationships…

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do now, to an extent, with the new Gonji titles coming out, but I don’t recommend it.  The original Gonji novels were edited by traditional publisher Zebra Books, back in the day.  I did some tweaking and restoration of excised text (arbitrarily cut for length, to fit the paperback-original “signatures” requirements in the ‘80s:  32 book pages-per-signature-sheet) for the Wildside re-issues.  But they’re substantially the original, professionally edited texts.  And Wildside thus considers me “pre-vetted” for the new Gonji books.

However, these new texts have been vetted by some beta readers—professional colleagues I trust.  And I was a pro editor for several years myself, for a magazine company, as well as an editor/proofer for the pulp-adapter Radio Archives, along with the numerous freelance editing gigs I’ve handled.

I would strongly advise self-publishers to seek reliable editorial guidance.  I’ve read some horrible junk out there in the vast Flotsam Sea.  And don’t get me started on the slow and painful death of even common proofing these days.

 Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think they must be viewed differently, for the important editorial reasons I cite above.  I might read a masterpiece in either traditional or self-published material, to be sure.  But the grim fact is that so much ill-advised trash is pumped into that great populist literary effluence today—along with a lot of well-crafted and entertaining content that has to fight to keep its head above the morass—that you have to exercise a lot more scrutiny before selecting titles to spend precious discretionary time on (not to mention pay for).

Indie writers who are serious about the craft owe it to themselves, as well as their readers, to make every effort to produce good work.  There’s junk produced at every stratum of the publishing world, no doubt.  But it simply stands to reason that carefully planned and written, professionally edited and designed books will have a far better chance of leaving a good impression and advancing their authors’ career hopes, whether modest or ambitious.  A truism that won’t change, despite the most calculated, persuasive promotional efforts by clever social networkers.




Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes.  There are some fine authors and storytellers working in indie publishing, even in my limited, old-schooler experience of this vast field.  There are lots of reasons why many authors are self-publishing now—not the least of these being that there are worthy categories and sub-genres that are under-served or altogether ignored by mainstream publishing, alienating large segments of special-taste readerships.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? That rich and rewarding nexus of emotional and intellectual engagement that delves deeper than a movie’s level of immersion—you’re looking at somebody else’s vision, “reading” through someone else’s eyes, if you willand far more thoughtfully, more humanly, than the more coldly calculating, quick-twitch reaction levels that most games seem capable of.

You’re in the book.  Engaged with it, entranced by it…  You’re a complex participant in a book’s infinite possible outcome algorithms.  That’s amazing, when you stop to truly ponder that intense author-reader communication.

I’ve had the experience of writing books, original screenplays, screenplay adaptations of someone else’s books, and finally—an experiment I really learned from—writing a novelization of my own original screenplay.  Not a typical, bare-bones, fill-in-the-gaps, post-release novelization, but rather my conception of what the full-blown novel might have been like that I’d adapted my screenplay from.  I had known of no other such experiment.

 And all that flipping of creative hats one day smacked me with the epiphany that, when reading a book, we become a sort of co-director with the author through our melding imaginations.  We engage in a communication between just the two of us, in which we bring that story into a singular, unique artistic completion of delivery and realization that will never be perceived the same way by any other reader/viewer/co-director in the universe!

That’s a tall order for any movie or video game to try to stack up against, with their arm’s-length presentations of someone else’s very specific, pre-interpreted—and therefore delimiting—pictures, sounds and impressions.

As a participatory art form, books rule.

 And I think any further comments by me at this juncture of the interview would be breaking some kind of “rules,” at this point, at least rules of welcome—I’ve been going on interminably.  So let me conclude by thanking you, Alex Butcher, for this kind, gracious, wonderful opportunity to spew some of my personal history and insights into this craft we share with our friends and colleagues here.  Maybe we can pick it up again sometime.  Best of luck with all your literary endeavors, everybody!


Gonji – Red Blade from the East – Amazon

Gonji – The Soul within the Steel – Amazon

Gonji – Deathwind from Verdun – Amazon

Gonji- A Hungering of Wolves – Amazon

TC Rypel – author page





Dirty Dozen – Author Interview – Andrew Weston – Fantasy

#Authorinterviews #fantasy #dirtydozen

For the first of the new format of interviews, I’m pleased to welcome back Andrew Weston.

Please tell us about your publications. I’m very happy to be with Perseid Press. In my relatively short time with them, I’ve managed to produce two trilogies. (Yes, I’m a bit of a workhorse driven by an unquenchable fire).
The first is a science-fiction saga – The IX series – detailing what really happened to the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome who marched into the mists of Caledonia in circa 100AD and were never seen again.
That trilogy is comprised of, The IXExordium of TearsPrelude of Sorrow.

The other trio form a fantasy adventure following the exploits of Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim, and are incorporated within Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell universe.
So far, I’ve completed Hell BoundHell HoundsHell Gate.

In addition to the main novels, I also contribute short stories to that same Heroes in Hell universe. (Grim – Doctors in Hell, & Pieces of Hate – Pirates in Hell).
Although each short story is a complete tale within itself, they form part of – and actually leapfrog – the novels to ensure a level of continuity that adds a spicy tang to the characters and plot.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I’m a bit of an anomaly.

People familiar with my working process know I plan meticulously before I start writing. I’m a detailed world builder, moulding a depth of history and culture into the places I create so I have them at my fingertips, ready to call on when the need arises. I usually plan out where I’d like my story to start, and the route the plot will follow in order to reach my goal.
However, I have a vivid imagination. When I’m writing, I have all sorts of things bubbling away inside my head along with the actual work in progress. Sometimes, this triggers fresh ideas. I’ve learned to let those new eruptions take me where they will with delightful results. (Some major characters have lived or died on the basis of “going with the flow”).
That’s why I’m glad of my world building stage. I use it like a bank vault of plot points and extra details I can turn to if things need to change…with interest J

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat? Good question. I had to think long and hard on this.
If you’re going to spend time with a “familiar stranger” you’d want it to be someone who is as appealing as they are refreshing. Someone you could instantly relate to and have fun with, yet still be blown away by their quirkiness. That narrows the field down quite a bit.

So, I’d choose “Hatter,” from Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass.
As for food, that’s easy.
We’d have to wet our appetites with an aperitif of tea,

Lots of it, strong and hot, both for Hatter and for me.

Then for starters, I think, Wonderland mushrooms would have to follow,

Though the risk involved, as you know, would be rather hard to swallow.

The main course would be simple, yet crafted to entice,

Poached Rabbit stuffed in its waistcoat, upon a bed of rice.

Extravagance would follow, for then we’d greet our sweet,

Unbirthday cake in layers bright, the perfect festive treat.

And what finer way to end this, very important date,

Than by sharing a final cup of tea with my crazy madcap mate.


How do you deal with bad reviews? I read them whilst medicated in the off chance they might contain something constructive – as sometimes, they do – and then I use those little snippets to improve my writing.
Sadly, I usually end up having to drink gin until I’m intoxicated and morbidly depressed before crying myself to sleep on an absorbent pillow.

Sort these into order of importance: Good plot – Great characters – Awesome world-building – Technically perfect.
I would approach this exercise as if I intended to construct a wall.
My foundations would have to be in place first. That means the world building phase kicks everything off. Once you have something on which to work, you need a picture in your mind – or on paper – of the dimensions of the wall. I think that nicely describes your plot. Then you need the right materials. Queue your characters.
As for technical perfection? I know I’ll probably knock a few noses out of joint when I say this, but …I’ve read hardback copies by current world-renown – megabucks – authors from all 4 of the “big” houses and found them sprinkled with spelling, and in a few cases grammatical and constructive errors.
But, that’s just part and parcel of the editing process. Nobody will ever produce a perfect manuscript.
On a similar point, I’ve read some self published works that lacked proper editing. (And clearly so). In many cases, it made me grind my teeth. HOWEVER, there have been one or two instances where I’ve enjoyed the world, the plot and its characters so much I didn’t let the technical glitches spoil my enjoyment of a great story.

Push come to shove? Give me a choice between a good, technically perfect story and one I know is great – though littered with errors – I’d choose the one I’d enjoy most. I don’t get the chance to simply read for fun all that often, so I wouldn’t want to waste the opportunity.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? As my readers will be aware, I complete an absolute shedload of research before putting pen to paper. And it’s all topic-specific.
(Hot off the press. I’m already researching certain factual, scientific and esoteric aspects to a story I won’t be writing for another four years yet. What is it? Aha…you’ll see…)

And to the wildest subjects? That’s difficult to define, as it will be dependent on each person’s perspective. I’m not easily shocked, so it might be better just to list some of the subject I’ve dipped into for storylines:

I have delved into the rituals involved in demon possession and exorcism; sex rites of Incubi and Succubae worshipers; psychic, sexual and physical appetites of supernatural half-breeds such as Cambions.
I’ve also researched some of the world’s most notorious serial killers. By comparing their backgrounds, home environments and the external stimuli they were subjected to over time, I’ve learned something about the behavioural triggers that motivated them to act in the way they did, and how each one evolved their own respective modus operandi.
Not particularly wild, but diverting nonetheless.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Sadly, I think it’s becoming less and less influential as the techno-age advances. Too many modern-day parents tend to leave things to gadgets when they should be giving their kids the most important, most essential thing required for their development: time.
That’s a great pity. I could read and write before I went to school, but that was down to Mom and Dad spending time with me.
Mom was the reader, she’d get my favourite books down off the shelf and we’d go through them together. But Dad was the master storyteller.
I grew up in a haunted house, and my parents soon realized that the spooky goings on didn’t faze me all that much. So, my Dad would make up the darkest, most macabre and twisted bedtime stories imaginable. I loved them!
The only downside to that is…I can’t watch horror films. They’re just too darn boring. I’ve only ever seen one thing that sent a little tingle along my spine.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? The Silver Surfer.
When I’m awake, I try and turn strange dreams into reality, and my thoughts are often floating through the vastness of space, imagining what’s out there. When I’m asleep, I’m fishing for fresh ideas that come to me in a kaleidoscopic rush of warped details. But to be able to experience all that – and more – for real? To be able to roam the cosmos at will and witness every aspect of its grandeur in minute detail?
Yes please…I’ll be there, a fellow traveller cresting the next intergalactic wave on his journey into…?


What is your writing space like? Think chaos space meets the results of an antimatter explosion, and you’ll be getting close. It sounds messy, and it is…But I know where everything is, so I don’t let my wife touch a thing.

What’s your next writing adventure? My next venture involves the completion of an “Author’s Cut” version of my debut novel and related works. I cringe when I look at them now, as my method has developed and matured into quite a distinctive writing style. I much prefer being able to express myself using rich and descriptive prose that paints a vivid tapestry of the world in which each story is set. Injecting my true voice into the Guardian and Cambion series will hopefully make these stories shine in the way I know they can.

What is the last book you’ve read? American Gods by Neil Gaiman,
I’m really taking to Gaiman’s writing. He’s so obviously quintessentially English that I can guarantee a good helping of afternoon tea and cucumber sandwiches with every portion of his work. And yet, he has a universal appeal that will engage just about anyone at every level of reading.
American Gods is superb, a road trip across the bridge spanning old world and new; a place where myth, legend, nightmares and dreams come together on a smorgasbord of dark and dreadful delight that will leave you as disturbed as you are fascinated. You think you know all there is to know about gods? Think again.
And how better to expose their double-dealing ways than by revealing the never-ending cycle that keeps them in power?
As I say, a great story into which Gaiman manages to inject his morbid, warped sense of humour. (My kinda guy).

How important is writing to you? I can honestly say, I get twitchy if I don’t write or do something creative every day. It’s the same when I go to bed, as I invariably start making up new stories and plotlines, only to go to sleep living them out.








Andrew P. Weston is 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.

An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestselling IX Series and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for and Amazing Stories.


Author Interview 122 – Em Dehaney

Welcome to Em Dehaney

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in a town on the River Thames called Gravesend, and now live in a village not too far away. Gravesend is ever present in my writing, and my first novel is set there. It has a rich and varied history, and you may know it as the place where Pocahontas died.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc? I write mainly fantasy and horror. My novel, The Golden Virginian, is an urban fantasy, but I like to research real historic events and base my writing around that. My writing often links the past and the present. I have been a lifelong horror fan, so my writing also regularly veers towards the supernatural and murderous.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? One of my favourite characters from The Golden Virginian is Ethel Tilley, a 400 year old riverside prostitute. To quote the description of her from the book

“Ethel was both tired and ancient yet playful and fresh. It was as if her mind was stuck being a teenager, but her body was struggling to keep all its molecules together after four hundred years”.

And she makes exceedingly good cakes!

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? The taxi-driver John Pete. Everything about this character is vile.

“A spluttering cough announced the entrance of a man whose palette consisted entirely of grey and yellow. His skin was a sallow ash, as though no oxygen had made it to the surface since 1975. The whites of his eyes. were no longer white, but a sickly, pale lemon. His shirt was the colour of used dish-water with yellow stains mushrooming out from under the arms. Wispy grey hair was dotted about the sides of his head, the top of which was shiny-bald. A smile broke out on his face, presenting an array of misshapen, rotted tooth stumps.”

Are your characters based on real people? The main character The Golden Virginian, Tommy Tucker, starts life as a lazy stoner with no girlfriend and no job, and he ends the book as The Searcher of The Thames. This was a real role of royal appointment since the 14th century, and in was the precursor to Customs & Excise. The Searcher was given permission by The King to check every ship entering Gravesend for contraband, counterfeits, secret letters and any other prohibited or taxable goods. In my novel, the first Searcher of The Thames (a man called John Page) uncovered a world of magical trade happening in secret under the King’s nose, and so becomes the first tax collector of the magical community in Gravesend.

Pocahontas also features as a character in the opening of this novel, although I have taken some artistic licence with her final hours.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? As my novels are all based around real historic events, I try and use local resources for my research. Lots of visits to the Gravesend library, plus talking to local historians, is far better than just using the Internet. I like to visit the places I am writing about and feel the atmosphere. The novel I am writing at the moment, The Lady of The Dead, opens with the murder of a Transylvanian Prince, which occurred in nearby Gad’s Hill. This was a real event that took place in 1661, and when I first read the accounts, it was so mysterious and evocative I knew I had to incorporate it into one of my novels.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Although on the surface The Golden Virginian is about magic, revenge and the journey of the main character, it is at heart a story about family. I don’t think I set out to write a novel about families, but my family is important to me, so it naturally came out in my writing.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? I am planning to self-publish The Golden Virginian in March 2017 in e-book and print, to coincide with the 400th Anniversary of Pocahontas’ death.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I have not employed the services of a professional editor, but I do have a particularly eagle-eyed and pedantic friend who edits and proof reads for me. I also like to get lots of feedback from different beta-readers.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think the stigma around self-publishing is on the way out. It would be great if people thought about indie-publishing in the same way as indie music – it’s real, authentic and less commercial than traditional publishing and you get full creative control. Yes, its harder work, but you are the one reaping all the rewards. That’s not to say that a book deal with a publishing house isn’t still the end goal, but if I don’t ever get there, I wont feel like a failure as people will still get to read my work.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, all the time. I’ve just read a great supernatural blues odyssey by Richard Wall, and I love the work of horror writers CL Raven and Matthew Cash.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are vital, especially to indie authors, but NEVER comment on them, whether good or bad.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? Writers are all readers. You can’t be a good writer without reading extensively, and giving reviews to a fellow writer as long as you have read the book is fine.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Never give up. Finish what you started. You can always edit a bad novel, you can’t edit thin air.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I absolutely loved the Hellraiser/Sherlock Holmes crossover Sherlock Holmes and The Servants of Hell by Paul Kane. As a fan of both the original source materials, I thought it was a well-thought out book and didn’t read like second rate fan-fic.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? My two all-time favourite authors are Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. While King is traditionally thought of as horror and Gaiman fantasy, I feel that they both transcend genre. Whatever mood I am in, there is always a King or Gaiman short story to suit, and I never tire of re-reading their novels.

Do you have a favourite movie? Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a classic, stunning in both style and substance. The feeling of impending doom that runs through the whole film, the music and that reverse camera focus-pull that is now standard visual language for fear of heights, but was created by the master.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I used to belly dance.




Out now: 12Days Anthology featuring my poem ‘Here We Come A-Wassailing’. All proceeds go to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.



On Kindle

In print



Battlefield 1066 – spotlights – Barbara G Tarn

Name: Barbara G.Tarn

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in the boot-shaped country dripping into the Mediterranean sea, but having lived abroad at a young age, I currently feel international, a woman with no country that sometimes is quite sick of the whole crazy planet. I love history, especially the Middle Ages (11th to 13th century), and making up stuff, although I learned the value of research even for the craziest idea – be it fantasy or science fiction. I write mostly SFF these days, having exhausted any will to talk about current events and today’s people.

Set during the Battle of Hastings tell us a little more about your story

Here’s the blurb: Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but also of Robert’s second life.
A vampire in 12th century Europe traveling, fighting and meeting his siblings in darkness, changing names through the years when his mortal life is gone.
Follow Robert Malet, Brother Geoffrey, Robert Capuchon and Mercadier through the years. History and fantasy based on medieval chronicles for a Vampires Through the Centuries novella.

What prompted you to write this one?

When Steph Bennion suggested we write something around the Battle of Hastings, I thought it would be the prefect setting for one of my vampires stories. The original idea was about a Viking woman through the centuries who could be at the battle of Hastings. Just an episode of her long life – she pursues her love through the centuries without turning him into a vampire, simply looking for his next reincarnation! 😉

As the second novel developed, I decided it should be someone actually turned at the battle – with the Viking woman and the berserker passing through Kaylyn’s novel along with Bran the Raven, the maker of them all. You shall encounter Robert also in the novel Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness that will come out Nov.2, but this is his story from his point of view.

How much research was involved?

I had already studied the 11th and 12th centuries for a shelved historical novel, so I pulled out my old Histoire de France en Bandes Dessinnées (history of France in comic-book form from the late 1970s) and saw they had William the Conqueror and other interesting characters.

To make sure the battle itself was neatly done, I bought an Osprey Publishing book about that campaign – based on the two or three chronicles of the time.

For later times, I went back to my research on William Marshal and Richard Lionheart.

What was the most fascinating thing you learned from this experience?

That the Normans had ugly haircuts! 😉 My poor cover artist almost gave up drawing Robert, although I had sent her the images of how the French artist had drawn William the Conqueror…

Who do you think is one of the most important historical figures in British history?

History is written down and recorded by winners. And it gets rewritten through the centuries. Robin Hood, Roland or King Arthur – who knows who the actual people were? What were they actually called and what did they actually do?

That said, there are some chronicles left – to be taken with a grain of salt, since usually it’s copies of long lost originals (something that applies to the gospels as well, but I digress). I think that there was no real England as we know it today in the 11th century. The Danes, the Saxons, the Angles all mixed up – and then the Normans, who had managed to get a piece of land from the King of France, decided they wanted a piece of it too…

The Anglo-Norman nobility after the conquest spoke French, not English. Richard Lionheart spent only six months of his short reign in England – he was Norman, he couldn’t care less about what happened beyond the channel! He was too busy trying to keep his continental estates…

Who do you believe to be the rightful claimant – William or Harold Godwinson? Why?

I don’t really have an opinion on this. The great empires (Roman, Frank) had fallen to pieces, but there’s always someone who want to rebuild them, isn’t it?

What other books have you written?

Three more Vampires Through the Centuries (with more to come next year), a science fantasy series called Star Minds and then there’s my fantasy world of Silvery Earth… lots of titles, but also lots of collections and mostly standalone! Full list here.


Character Questions


Who are you? Tell us about yourself

I am Robert, son of William Malet, one of the few proven companions of Duke William. I was born in Gravelle-Saint-Honorine nineteen years ago.

What faith do you hold? Are you devout?

I am Christian, of course, and I’m as devout as the other knights around me. Bishop Odo celebrated mass and blessed us before joining us in the battle against the English. Yes, bishops can also be fearsome warriors in my time and great landholders as well. I know that Archbishop Baldwin took King Richard’s army to the Holy Land all by himself…

What is your moral code?

I am a knight and a man of honor. I kill only in battle.

Would you die for your beliefs?

I’d die for my lord and liege. I’d die to protect the land, my family and their estates.

Would you kill for them?

If my lord and liege asks me to. Or if someone threatens me or mine.

How did you become embroiled in this battle for the crown?

I followed my father and the Duke of Normandy, whom I admire greatly. It was actually my first real battle and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Honestly – who do you think is the rightful claimant?

Honestly, I can’t say. You see, my father is related to King Harold… but he still fights by Duke William’s side!

Were you afraid during the battle?

I’m part of the mighty Norman cavalry. No, I’m not afraid, even though the damn English had raised that wall of shields. But then the berserker attacked me…

Have you a family?

Parents, siblings and soon a Norman bride.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

As one of the dozen or so greatest landholders in England.



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