Spinner of terrifying tales of ghosts and restless spirits, Catherine Cavendish has a new book of creeping dread for fans old and new. Today, I let her haunt my blog with a little something she calls, THE PEDLAR AND THE DEVIL….
I have set a large part of Waking the Ancients in Vienna, Austria where many ghosts and restless spirits walk among the verdant parks and lavish palaces. But Austrian ghosts do not confine themselves to their nation’s imperial capital. They can be found in towns, cities, villages and the depths of the countryside all over this beautiful land.
In the beautiful mountainous region of Tyrol, many legends and myths abound. One curious one involves a spectral game of bowls.
A pedlar became lost on the side of the mountain as darkness fell. Disorientated, he kept going until he came to the ancient ruined castle of Starkenberg. There, exhausted, he decided to take shelter for the night and laid down to sleep in the remains of a great hall. He slept for some hours, waking to hear the clock of a nearby village strike midnight. To his astonishment, as the last chime echoed across the rocks, twelve ghostly figures, clad in full armour, manifested in the room and proceeded to play a game of bowls – only they used skulls instead of balls.
As luck would have it, the pedlar was quite a bowls player himself. In fact he was the champion of his village. Also, being made of sterner stuff, he offered to play each of the spirits in turn. He was quite surprised when his challenge was accepted. One by one he defeated them all and quite expected to be met with anger as a result. Quite the reverse. To his astonishment, the spectral army congratulated him and gave whoops of joy. They told him that now he had beaten them, they could be released from purgatory. As soon as they said this, they vanished, leaving the pedlar alone. He looked all around, trying to discover where they had gone but to no avail. Then, ten more ghostly knights appeared, each through a different door which they locked carefully behind them. They brought the keys to the pedlar and gave them to him saying he must now determine which was the right key for each door.
All the keys and all the doors were identical – or appeared to be. The pedlar accepted the challenge and it took him quite a while but he successfully accomplished the task and the ten ghostly figures thanked him profusely, assuring him that his actions had also released them from purgatory, before they too vanished.
Things were all going a bit too well up to now and the pedlar was feeling delighted with himself. His confidence knew no bounds.
But then the devil himself appeared, in a foul temper. He castigated the pedlar for robbing him of twenty two souls and declared that his soul must be forfeit instead. The brave (or exceptionally foolhardy) pedlar argued and declared he would play the devil one game of bowls to decide whether his soul should be forever damned and belong to Lucifer, or whether he should be allowed to go free.
Once again, the pedlar triumphed and beat his evil counterpart soundly. As soon as the first cock crowed in the morning, the devil launched himself into the air with scorching sulfur breath that burned the grass where he had been. He took off, his massive wings beating the air, leaving the pedlar triumphant.
Needless to say, the pedlar told anyone who was prepared to listen about his extraordinary night on the mountain. No one believed him of course, until they too trekked up to the castle…and saw the burned and withered grass, exactly as the pedlar had described it.
Waking the Ancients
Legacy In Death
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.
And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .
You can find Waking the Ancients here:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
You know I can’t have a book release without the Monster Men discussing it over beers and peanuts (both off camera, of course). Get the inside scoop on Island of the Forbidden and how it relates to Sinister Entity and Forest of Shadows. When I wrote this one, I added a bunch of horror movie references. Jack and I discuss a few of the horror clues peppered throughout the book.
You’ll find that the little island I’ve created is no safe place for the likes of Gilligan and the Skipper. If you like a good ghost story with teeth, this is it.
Note on the set my favorite Christmas present – actual drive-in movie speakers! I have a dream of building a working mini drive-in in my yard some day. All will be welcome to watch classic flicks under the stars.
It’s a cold and windy day here in the northeast. With the wind, it’s been below zero for a few days. A perfect day to just sit and write and look at the ice and snow outside my window. I’m working on a new cryptid novel right now. The manuscript and I are in the honeymoon phase where everything is peaches and cream. That should end in a week or so, then it’s on to the real work in this relationship. I love my muse, but we don’t always see eye to eye.
What have you all been doing to stay warm? And for those of you who live in warm weather, when can we come visit?
You know I can’t release a book without having a very special episode of Monster Men (kinda like Blossom, she of Amy Farrah Fowler fame).
Jack and I talk about the inspiration behind the true ghost story and how it impacted my own life. If you haven’t picked up The Waiting yet, hopefully this will give you that last nudge.
First of all, I want to thank Hunter for hosting me today. His Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal are an amazing one-two punch, and if you haven’t picked them both up yet, you ought to. Here’s what I had to say about Evil Eternal:
Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant, Evil Eternal is a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare.”
Yep, I guess you can tell I’m a fan.
And speaking of books you should buy…
“Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.
Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?”
So the character not mentioned in that description is the one I’m going to tell you about today.
Pretty logical, huh?
So what makes my sheriff different?
Well, the structure of my novel, for one thing. Like my debut THE SORROWS, HOUSE OF SKIN has the Gothic structure that I love—where a story in the past affects and ultimately merges with the story in the present. Books like Peter Straub‘s Ghost Story and George R.R. Martin‘s Fevre Dream take on an extra resonance because of their use of the frame story and the manner in which those authors use their back-stories to advance their present stories.
HOUSE OF SKIN does that. And Sam Barlow is a central figure in both the past and the present.
In the present he’s a grizzled veteran cop who lives alone and does his best not to hate my protagonist Paul Carver, who has the bad luck to look just like the man who ruined Sam Barlow’s life. Sam also has a special bond with my “co-protagonist” Julia Merrow, which is explained in the “past” story.
Many of the book’s surprises involve Sam and his entanglement with the novel’s two main villains, particularly a woman named Annabel. I’ll write about Annabel at a later date, but I’ll just say now that she’s fearsome and beautiful and absolutely evil. Sam is the man who understands this the most, and he’s determined to prevent her resurrection.
But Annabel has other plans.
The last thing I’ll say about this character before I close is that if HOUSE OF SKIN ever becomes a movie, I’ve got some thoughts about who should play my sheriff. Josh Brolin would be great if he were older. Assuming the movie gets made in the next five years (I’m pretty certain it will—hah!), Brolin would be too young. But he does have that world-weary look that would work well for Sam. Guys like John C. McGinley (one of the Office Space Bobs) and David Morse (Brutal from The Green Mile) would also be great, but my first choice is the man pictured below…
Ash, Elvis, and…Sam Barlow?
Bruce Campbell would kill this role. Then again, Bruce would probably kill any role, but I think he’d do a particularly wonderful job as my sheriff.
So, Mr. Campbell, if you’re reading…my people will call your people soon.
And please don’t threaten my people with your prosthetic chainsaw.
From the stygian depths of two minds addicted to all things dark and scary. This time around, we talk about the state of paranormal television and wrap things up with my own encounter with a ghost in a hotel room in Spain.
I hope you like my hat. I’ll sign that wonderful straw hat and mail it to a random commenter, so all you need to do is tell us what you think and you too can look like an escapee from a country fair! As you can tell from this still, even my partner Jack is having a hard time looking at it.