Hello and happy summer, Hellions!
First, does anyone remember the 80s Bauhaus classic, Bela Lugosi’s Dead? It’s one of my favorites from back in they da, at the time a perfect marriage of my two passions, horror and new wave music. Man, I miss new wave. Never did go for the Flock of Seagulls look, though.
We just got word this past week that after months of reshuffling things, Samhain is back on its feet. Soon, they’ll be opening to new submissions as well. That’s good news, not just for the authors who have books with Samhain, but maybe more importantly for those who love to read horror. As a man who devours scary books like they’re Tic Tacs, the more places I can find them, the better.
It’s especially good because some amazing books that had been acquired before things went sideways are coming out now , including works by the legendary RICHARD LAYMON and the wildly popular BORDERLANDS anthology, edited by Thomas and Olivia Monteleone. This is top notch stuff. I repeat – TOP NOTCH.
Samhain will always have a special place in my cold, black heart. They not only gave me my big break, but linked me with another legend, editor Don D’Auria. Everything I have now is thanks to Samhain. And now I’m thinking of writing the next Jessica Backman/Eddie Home book for Samhain. So many more stories with those two, it’ll be nice to keep them all in one place.
So yes, you can still get superb books by what I call The New Class – authors like JONATHAN JANZ, BRIAN MORELAND, RON MALFI, TIM WAGGONER, KRISTOPHER RUFTY, FRAZIER LEE, RUSSELL JAMES, DAVID BERNSTEIN, AARON DRIES, GLENN ROLFE and so many more, I could write names for the next hour.
Samhain has risen from the…well, not the grave, but the gurney? Works for me. Celebrate by buying a book or two!
It’s no secret that one of my favorite horror writers is Catherine Cavendish. I’m very happy to not only announce that she has a new book, but a fantastic blog post to go with it. OK Hellions, show your support – read the article and buy the book! Keep horror alive (or at the very least, undead)!
My new novel – The Devil’s Serenade – mostly takes place in an imposing Gothic style mansion built by Victorian industrialist Nathaniel Hargest. When Maddie Chambers inherits it from her Aunt Charlotte, she soon discovers she has acquired far more than mere bricks and mortar. From the strange appearance of tree roots growing in the cellar to the manifestations, noises and a nostalgic wartime song played again and again, Maddie’s fears grow and intensify. What is going on here – and who, or what, is seemingly hell-bent on driving her insane?
Of course, my novel is just that – fiction. But, in real life, there have been numerous reports of houses cursed or possessed by demons. Sometimes these emanate from the ground on which the house was built. Other times, the builder of the house has somehow managed to impart his – or her – evil into the fabric of the place so that it becomes irrevocably woven into the walls.
Appearances can certainly be deceptive too. Take Renvyle House Hotel, situated in the glorious wilderness of Connemara in Ireland. The surrounding scenery is stunning and yet, amid all this beauty, lie tales of ghouls, ghosts and such an array of phenomena that this has to be one of the most haunted areas of Ireland.
In 1883, a family by the name of Blake first opened Renvyle as a country house. Many famous people stayed there – Winston Churchill being just one. Then, in 1917, a Dublin surgeon and poet, Dr. Oliver St John Gogarty – bought the house.
By this time, the house was gaining something of a reputation for the mysterious hauntings experienced by guests and servants alike. In particular, one of the upstairs rooms proved especially troublesome and servants refused to stay in there. They reported a dark and disturbing presence and, on one occasion, something pushed a large, heavy chest against the door.
Gogarty himself wasn’t immune. Late one night, the sound of footsteps outside his room woke him up. He lit a candle, opened the door and stepped out into the dark corridor. Suddenly, with no apparent breeze to cause it, the flame was extinguished. At the same time, a wave of exhaustion spread over Gogarty. His arms and legs felt heavy, as if he had been exercising hard. He was never able to explain this.
The Irish poet, W.B. Yeats stayed there with his wife, a renowned medium called Georgie. The three of them decided to hold a seance during which Georgie Yeats used automatic writing to attempt to communicate with any spirits present in the house. Their efforts met with success and a spirit pronounced itself unhappy with having people stay at the house. Georgie Yeats asked the spirit to reveal itself and she described what she saw. Over by the fireplace, in a misty vapour, stood a red-haired boy, according to the medium. He was pale and wore an anguished expression.
W.B. Yeats reported more unusual and inexplicable occurrences during his time at Renvyle. He said he saw sheets being pulled off beds by unseen hands. Other guests were dragged from their slumbers. Doors opened by themselves and terrible groans echoed through the house. Female guests were terrified when they saw faces watching them as they undressed.
Renvyle House has seen its fair share of violence and turmoil and was destroyed by the IRA in the 1920s. It was then rebuilt and is now a four star luxury, family-run hotel. It has won awards and is noted for the high standards of its hospitality and cuisine. It appears though that the spirits have stayed fixed to the land and have transferred themselves into the current hotel. Guests still report their sheets being tugged and female guests have caught glimpses of a man’s face watching them in the mirror as they apply their make-up. Maybe this is the spirit of a man who allegedly took his own life by strangling himself with his own bare hands. Quite a feat in itself!
Whatever the cause of the phenomena, Renvyle House Hotel certainly seems to have absorbed more than merely the beauty of its surroundings. Beneath the surface, supernatural forces appear to continue their work…
Now, to give you a taste of The Devil’s Serenade, here’s the blurb:
Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.
She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.
As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.
Here’s an extract:
A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer.
The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.
I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.
I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner. Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.
I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.
You can find The Devil’s Serenade here:
And other online retailers
About the author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Other titles include: The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, Dark Avenging Angel, The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, Cold Revenge and In My Lady’s Chamber.
You can connect with Cat here:
Hope you know how to remove blood stains Hellions, because I KILL IN PEACE is finally here and taking no prisoners…or shit. Or shit from prisoners.
I stepped away from the worlds of ghosts and monsters to assemble a kind of kill list, a little fantasy fulfillment for the sane who live in an insane world. I KILL IN PEACE is not for your Christian reading circle (then again, maybe it is) or your friend living in the left wing of faux righteousness or your grandma, unless she’s one badass grandma. Hell, even I was questioning some of the things I was doing while I wrote it. In fact, there’s one scene in particular that wouldn’t see the light of day in some countries. And another that, well, may be more than most people can handle.
And that’s all good, because horror is supposed to make you look at the worst of human nature in the eye and see who flinches first.
If you have delicate sensibilities, don’t bother reading this one. Skip it and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory. They’re safe and won’t upset or scar you. Sheldon will protect you.
Thanks to Super Erin at Hook of a Book for once again putting a great tour of unwitting victims together. You can click the photo below to go to the official tour page and go for a blood and anger soaked ride.
From 2 Book Lovers Reviews : “You got me. Hunter Shea, you really got me good. What in the devil is wrong with me?! I am still stuck on the fact that I didn’t see that freight train coming.”
And from a Goodreads reviwer : “I hated everything from the title to the ending of this novella. I recommend this for the supporters of Trump.” (Author’s note : WTF?? How did Trump get in there? Does this mean she thinks it’s going to be huuuuuuge? Love this review)
If you read it, please rate and/or review it on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you bought it. Love, let the world know so people are aware you’re kinda strange and should be avoided at all costs. Hate it and spew some venom. As long as you’re honest, it’s all good. For once, I’m not going to badger you with ‘buy my book!’. This time around, I can only say – You’ve Been Warned. This is no gimmick. My conscience is now clear…or muddy at best.
Okay, I’m 5 days late with making this announcement. Crazy week.
I was blown away by the responses to my question in my March 28th post : If you could change one thing in this world, albeit violently but guaranteed you won’t be caught, what would it be?
Your answers were a mix of the divine and the downright nasty! So proud of my Hellions.
I do need to make one correction. I said a winner would receive a signed copy of I KILL IN PEACE. Dopey me, I forgot it was an ebook only, and I’ve never looked into that technology to sign ebooks. To make up for my gaffe, I’ve selected three winners! If your name is listed here, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what format you prefer.
And the winners are :
- R. Potter (I would force people to be happy with themselves and stop trying to ruin other people’s lives because they don’t love themselves. Jealousy, pettiness, backstabbing, and sabotage would all be things of the past.)
- Martin Roberts (Saw the hands off psycho drivers and anyone who smokes, texts or drives like a total dick!)
- Kim (bring back and eye for an eye’! Abuse animals…get abused, Abuse children….get ready to suffer…. need I say more!)
After you read it, you’d be giving me an early birthday present by posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Enjoy the mayhem!
And for those who didn’t win this time around, keep coming back for more contests and join my newsletter where I’m always giving away the farm.