Monday, 21 April 2014

Review of Glitterland by Alexis Hall

I don't usually review books, but this one was too good. Here's my kinda dodgy review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/877887260

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bodmin Jail Ghost Hunt


So, last weekend on Saturday night/Sunday morn - 10pm to 5am - I was hunting for ghosts at Bodmin Jail. Once everybody had arrived, we were whisked away to a 'live execution.' There's an old execution area outside - basically a noose over a 13ft deep pit.

We were given a little talk about the history of hangings - told some grizzly stories about how, when using a 'long drop', sometimes people's heads would come off. And told about how the executioners would have to go down into the pit to check the body once it'd dropped to check the person was actually dead, and to measure the distance between their feet and the floor to see how far their neck had stretched. One was half an inch and one was 12 inches!!


Then we were shown (on an actual living man) how it was all set up - how his hands were tied, how the bag and noose went over his head, and how his legs were tied. We were told about how prison guards had to stand beside the accused and keep the flat of their palms to the person's elbows to that when the floor dropped away, the guards' arms just fell without hindering anything.


Then, living dude was replaced with a weight, the pins were removed from the lever to open the trap door, and then the lever was pulled. The noise was horrific - the slam of the doors and the weight on the rope. Grim. Anyway, then we were invited to clamber down into the execution pit if we wanted. Course, me and bro were straight down there but some people were too wussy.


Then we had a tour of the jail, and then we headed back to the little break room to be split into our groups.

Now... usually each group has one of the organisers walk around with them, who leads the investigation. We were given a timetable which told us which area we were in at which time and sent off. We were expecting someone to arrive to lead us, but no. So basically, everybody did what they wanted. So you had people wandering all over the place - nobody stayed in their group or stuck to the timetable. You couldn't really do anything without someone coming along with a torch, or listen out without hearing chattering and walking all over the place. So, me and bro weren't impressed with that, really.

Basically, after the execution, we spent most of the eve wandering from place to place. I mean, it's a huge place so often you'd be somewhere entirely on your own and we did meet up with another group of skeptics who we had a giggle with and who we did some ouija with (nothing happened at all) but that was it. No noises, cos we were rarely anywhere quiet enough to listen, no smells, or feelings, or touches and we definitely didn't see anything.




The best bit was the old navel prison outside, which is all ruins. That was creepy. Trouble is, every noise out there, we discounted as it being the pigeons.


We left at 3.20am cos we'd had enough, so we didn't hear everybody's findings at the end, but we could hear as we were going round how all the believers were getting loads of stuff happen. Which isn't surprising, really! But there you go. Fun, but no ghosts.

Pretty dust orb




Monday, 3 March 2014

Otherworld

So... I'm very happy to announce that me and another author, Liz Powell, have signed with Torquere Press. The contract is for our novel, Otherworld, which is a contemporary fantasy with a romance going on between the two MCs.

It's about an artifact known as the 'prism' (cos, well, it's a prism) which can transport the soul of the person who touches it into the after life, or 'otherworld.'

James, son of the Celtic Goddess Cliona (based on ClĂ­odhna and Fand), has taken the prism and ran away to England to work as a fisherman with his dad. However, nasty Irish gangster Davey McGrath is after the prism and sends our other hero, posh boy William (aka Liam) to get it back.

Cue Liam and Jim falling for one another and all sorts of shenanigans as they run from the law, gangsters, and James's scary mother.

No release date or cover art to reveal yet, but I'll come back to do that when I know. As of now, we're sorting out tax forms and waiting to be assigned an editor.

All very exciting. :)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Sweeper



The sound of bristles sweeping cobbled streets reached her ears as she cowered in the darkened room. They swept slowly, pushing the brooms rhythmically.

Rasp... rasp... rasp...

There were no other sounds. No voices. No animals. She blinked into the darkness and pulled her knees up to her chin.

She willed it to rain. They could sweep the streets all day but the stains would remain.

Paint the town red, she thought. And she grinned.

A tear ran down her cheek and she wiped it away with the back of her hand. Her smile faded as she listened to the sweepers. She wondered if anybody had survived this time. She hoped so.

Coward, she told herself.

But still she sat in the darkness a little longer. Waiting.

Rasp... rasp...

And then silence. She sighed and got to her feet, feeling along the wall for the door handle. She left the room, shielding her eyes against the daylight.

The sweepers lined the street, their brooms still. Sun glinted off their metal skin and she squinted.
The cobbles were smeared red and brown but were no longer coated with glistening entrails. She peered down a drain to see the water beneath running almost black. Things floated on the surface.

She looked away. “Good work,” she said.

And the sweepers raised their brooms in salute.  

(First published in Everyday Weirdness in 2010)

The Gods



The beaches were lined with bones and the bodies of the dead. That was until the Gods came forth from the ocean and the dead awoke screaming and terrified.

I had seen the footage on the News. Live footage. I remember that it had cut off halfway through; I remember hearing a woman’s scream and then nothing. And I had changed the channel and watched a sitcom.

I didn’t believe it was happening or rather, I didn’t want to believe it was happening. I told people that it was a gimmick, an advertisement, something to laugh about.

But I sort of knew it was real. Deep down. I felt it in my bones.

I heard people say that it was aliens. I didn’t laugh at that. I hoped it was aliens. Aliens were less terrifying than Gods. Aliens were nothing to do with me.

Graveyards filled with zombies. But only because the Earth had pushed up the bodies, turning them out of their graves and giving them back to the world.

I remember not being afraid. I was just deeply sad. The Gods were angry and everybody was being punished for it. There was no escape even in death.

I watched from my window as buildings fell and the sky filled with dust. In my city a statue taller than the highest skyscraper ran amok, ripping up roads, hurtling bricks and lampposts and cars. And people.

Some people said that it was robots. Giant robots built by man that had turned against us. Or perhaps it was alien robots from outer space.

I wished that it was. I tried to believe that it was but by now I knew...

It was the Gods.

Other people had known before me and as forests burned and seas froze over, more people came to realise.

I wish it was the media, or aliens, or robots, or monsters, or the military, but it was the Gods. And we had angered them.

I had angered them. I had...

I stood on a sea of frozen ice and watched as the sun exploded.

(First published in Everyday Weirdness in 2010)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Scrumping

It's my Grandma's birthday today so I went straight round to see her on my way home from work.

My bro's just gone out and bought a Lotus Elise () and he was already there when I arrived, showing my grandparents the motor.

We all go inside and have a chat and end up talking about the car and where it's safe to park it and things.

My Grandpa turns to me and asks if I heard about the taxi driver. I said I hadn't. Apparently, a taxi driver in our town was attacked and left for dead. A few weeks ago now, a girl was murdered and her car set alight with her body inside. This led my Grandpa to say that the town is, and I'll censor it, 'sh*t.' He clarified, 'well, it's always been sh*t but it was good sh*t and now it's bad sh*t.'

I agree.

He said, 'you know what I mean though, it used to just be things like scrumping.'

In case anybody doesn't know, 'scrumping' is when you go nicking fruit. Mostly apples.

My Grandma pipes up with a story about how my uncle and his mates went scrumping and she ended up with the owner of the fruit farm knocking on her door and accusing her son of nicking apples. She said she first of all tried to deny that it was my uncle, while he was hiding behind the sofa, and then went on to say she hadn't seen any apples, but she was very sorry.

She finished the story by telling us it was too late anyway, cos the apples were already in a pie in the oven.

I wish the town was good sh*t again.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Hairdresser's (Of Doom)

I hate going to the hairdresser. I hate it more than going to the doctor or the dentist and I hate those things a lot.

Because of this, I only go about once a year. (Also, it's expensive).

Yesterday evening I had my yearly haircut. Now, I'm not keen on people touching me. I say 'not keen,' I mean 'venomously dislike.' I especially don't like people touching my head, so this is why hairdressers are a problem for me. In my salon, they offer a complimentary head massage. This is like torture. I always, always say no, but sometimes they don't give you the option, they just do it and you sit there, cringing, your skin crawling, beads of sweat popping on your forehead, while some woman is probing your scalp. Unpleasant.

Anyway, luckily, this time I was asked so I said NO BLEEDING WAY, MATE. Or words to that effect.

I never say yes to the free tea either. And I love tea and I love free stuff but I can't say yes to this. How do you drink it? How can you reach for your tea, when there's someone with scissors very close to your eyeball? Also, I don't like hairy tea.

I dislike other people washing my hair. Firstly, why do they wash your hair? My hair's clean, I cleaned it myself, but they wash it anyway. They could use a squirty bottle and spray it if they need it wet for cutting but nope, they like to torment you. They must think that we're dirty. So your head gets wrenched over the sink - which is made of rock and blades - and you sever the nerves in your neck. I read a story about a woman who had her hair washed at a hair salon, then died because they damaged her neck. I can't help but think of that every time. Plus they get water in your ears and I can't be doing with water in my ears.

So, I go into the salon and there's a young lad there and I'm weirdly put off even more just by the fact he's male and I really don't want him touching my head. I mean, what's that about? My doctor's male.

Anyway, apart from causing mass amounts of immense pain to my neck, the lad was actually all right and I had an actual conversation with him (which I never do with the girls cos they talk nonsense). We're chatting away about tattoos and rollerblades and free food, my brain's telling me that any second my neck's gonna snap and my head's gonna roll around in the sink, and I suddenly realise that he's managed not to get water in my ears. Awesome.

So I then go over to sit in front of the giant mirror and I'm left there, staring at my own reflection which again, I dislike very much. Both my reflection and the fact I'm plonked in front of it.

Then the hairdresser comes over and she asks what I want done and I say just cut a couple of inches off. She asks me how I want it styled.



She sees my confusion and asks if I want it blow dried and straightened and when I hesitate, she says 'go on, you're at a hairdresser's' so I agree.

She then starts cutting my hair and I'm sitting there trying not to stare at my own face or think about what she might be seeing on my head. I'm self-conscious, I suppose. I always think they'll be disgusted by my head, even though I haven't actually got a gross head or anything. She's talking about hair and styles and holidays and 'How long have you had your fringe?' Me: 'I was born with it.' (All right, my real answer was: 'Forever.') And she asks me how I style it and I say I do nothing to it, and she asks if I straighten it and again I say I do nothing and she asks if I put it up and by now, because I'm starting to feel like a Neanderthal, I just say 'oh yeah, I pin it back.' (Which is lies, all lies.)

Hairdressers are all so much prettier and female than me, I dread to think what they must think of me. I go in there like a yeti. I am unable to talk about babies and boobies and boyfriends.

Do you want a serum on your hair?

Um. I guess.

What is the condition of your hair?

Erm... sort of... hair like.

How would you like the layers done?

Ooh uh... like a cake?

How shall I cut your fringe?

With scissors, please.

Pure torture. They always give you a loyalty card so you can get £10 off every few visits. I took out my loyalty card and she threw it away because it was dated 2011.