Tag: horror

The Flower and The Serpent – launch!!!

My latest novel The Flower and The Serpent is now available in ebook on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited/Prime.

Madeleine D’Este definitely does creepy well.

reviewer

The book has elements of Stranger Things with fine character development and kids that feel like real kids. 

reviewer

the novel is genuinely frightening at times, but the characters are never overshadowed by the horror.

reviewer

Mysterious disappearances, a battle for the spotlight and terrifying nightmares. It’s just another day at Beacon Hill High School. 



Auditions for Macbeth are over, and on the bus ride home, a mysterious driver gives sixteen-year-old Violet and her friends’ three strange predictions:

One of the girls will shine like a star.
One will invite darkness into her breast.
One will depart forever.



Please, how cliché. Besides, Violet clearly knows that she’s the star. 

But when she isn’t cast as Lady Macbeth and strange things begin to unfold, and the eerie predictions begin to come true, Violet can’t help to wonder which one will apply to her.
Determined to be the one that will shine like a star, Violet will do whatever it takes to get the leading role – no matter the horrifying consequence. 



Modern-day Shakespeare meets supernatural mystery with this nail-biting young adult horror by Madeleine D’Este.

The Flower and The Serpent – Chapter 1

The Flower and The Serpent will be released on 4th December 2019 and it’s currently available for pre-order.

Galley readers have described The Flower and The Serpent as…

“Creepy and wonderful”

L.A

“Elements of #StrangerThings

Pete

“Darkly seductive tale of revenge, regret & ultimately redemption”

Jon black

To whet your appetite, here is an extract of Chapter 1 of The Flower and The Serpent.

I hope you enjoy.

————————–

Chapter 1

Monday 18th June 1992

VIOLET

Violet’s whole body hummed with leftover audition nerves.

‘I’m a dead cert,’ she said.

She was the first to climb aboard the empty number 458 bus but Holly and Lila were close behind. They followed the muddy footprints past the chubby lady bus driver as the wipers shrieked across the windshield and the rain slapped the windows. Violet wrinkled her nose. The bus reeked of soggy wool.

‘I can’t wait until tomorrow,’ Violet said as she slid into her regular seat halfway up the aisle. ‘When my name is on top of the list.’

‘You’re a shoo-in.’ Lila flopped into the seat in front of her. She turned and draped her skinny arm over the metal bar. ‘He’d be stupid not to cast you.’

The doors wheezed shut and the bus pulled out of the school and onto Beacon Hill Road. The midwinter sun had already disappeared behind Mount Wellington.

‘Angelika was alright, too.’ Holly squashed in next to Lila and sat backwards. ‘And the one with the curls. Rowan?’

Violet snorted and tossed her mousy hair. ‘Out. Out. Damned spot,’ she groaned in a monotone and snatched the last chip from the packet in Holly’s hand.

Holly pressed her lips together.

Lila giggled. ‘Maybe we’ll be cast as the witches. There’s three of them and three of us.’ She bounced in her seat. ‘We could get some props from your aunty, hey, Holly? Real witch supplies?’

Holly crushed the empty chip packet in her fist and turned away. But the late Hobart afternoon was as black as night and Violet could see Holly’s square-jawed scowl reflected in the window. Holly seemed to sulk a lot these days.

‘Witches? No way,’ Violet scoffed. ‘It’s Lady Macbeth or nothing.’

‘Of course, I’m an idiot. You’ll get the part for sure.’ Lila chewed her cuticles and shrugged. ‘I just thought it’d be fun. Us three. Together.’

Violet said nothing and neither did Holly.

‘Sorry.’ Lila playfully nudged Holly’s arm. ‘I didn’t mean it. The witch thing.’

Holly turned back to them with a sigh. ‘It’s not you.’ She squeezed the bridge of her nose. ‘This headache—’

‘What were you girls doing at the school?’ the curly-headed bus driver hollered.

Violet and her friends flinched. A pair of murky green eyes looked back at them through the rear vision mirror.

‘Holiday program,’ Lila called back.

‘All alone in that place during holidays?’ The bus driver raised an eyebrow. ‘They should never have built a school on that land. Or anything for that matter. Should have left it be.’

Violet rolled her eyes. ‘Everyone knows they purified it first, lady.’

‘The surety of youth,’ the bus driver chuckled. ‘I was once like you.’ Her voice was strange and lilting, she spoke with a musical accent Violet couldn’t place. ‘Life is not as it seems.’

Violet rotated a finger next to her temple and Lila stifled a giggle. Holly dipped her head to hide her eyes under her fringe.

‘You three are best friends?’

‘Totally.’ Lila grinned. ‘Ever since Grade Seven.’

Violet stared at her black eight-hole Doc Martens and chewed her lip. She noticed Holly didn’t say anything, either.

‘Women need to band together. Especially you three. You must look out for each other.’

‘What do you mean?’ Lila said. ‘Especially us?’

‘You three have challenges up ahead,’ the driver said.

Lila glanced at Holly and then Violet. ‘What does she mean?’

‘She probably means life stuff.’ Holly twirled a strand of dark brown hair around her finger. ‘Exams. Finishing school. Getting off this stupid island. I can’t wait.’

The bus driver went quiet. The tyres squelched on the wet road as the bus veered around the infamous hairpin bend and damp grey-green eucalyptus slapped on either side.

The three girls slid across the seats around the bend.

A few years ago in the late 1980s, a bus exactly like this one misjudged the turn and six lives were wiped out in a single mistake. Violet’s stomach clenched twice a day, five times a week, every time she passed the stone memorial on the way to school. The black and white photo of the bent wreckage was still vivid in her mind.

‘What challenges?’ asked Lila. She clutched at the metal bar until her knuckles were white.

The bus driver said nothing.

Violet rubbed her duffle coat sleeve against the fogged-up window and peered outside as the bus passed the small strip of local shops. First was The Three Torches, a cafe-bookshop run by Holly’s aunt. Then Terri’s Bakehouse where Violet worked Saturdays selling congealed yellow vanilla slices and the whitest of white bread. Then the dry cleaners and the shaman hairdressers with his multi-coloured Tibetan prayer flags and incense fluttering in the breeze, and finally the milk bar takeaway. Even through the glass, Violet could smell the old chip oil, the spicy Nag Champa and the astringent dry-cleaning fumes.

A figure in a raincoat with the hood pulled up stood at the kerb in the rain. Beside them, a muscular pointy-eared black dog strained at his leash. The person lifted a finger and pointed directly at the bus, directly through the window, directly at Violet. The face was a black shadow, no real face at all but somehow the hidden eyes bored straight into her, the gaze like an apple-corer.

With a gasp, she tore her gaze away from the window, her heart thumping.

‘What?’ said Lila.

‘Nothing,’ Violet muttered but when she turned back, the person was still there on the kerb, and still pointing. She shuddered. ‘Another loony.’

They travelled a few more blocks in silence, then the Beacon Hill Road straightened out after the weatherboard Scout Hall, the place for senior aerobics and Morris dancing. Her heartbeat settled as the man in the raincoat disappeared from view.

‘Three challenges for three friends,’ the bus driver continued. ‘I can see it clearly.’

The girls leaned forward in their seats.

‘What are you? Some kind of fortune teller?’ Lila said. ‘A psychic?’

Violet shoved Holly. ‘You know about all that stuff. Witchy poo.’

Holly poked out her tongue.

‘One of you will shine like a star,’ the bus driver proclaimed.

Violet shimmied in her seat. It was obviously her.

The driver went on. ‘One of you will invite darkness into her breast.’

‘Breast? That’d be you.’ Holly raised a dark eyebrow and prodded Violet in the boob. Violet swiped away her finger with a glare.

‘Darkness?’ Lila grimaced. ‘What do you mean? What does she mean?’

‘One of you will depart forever,’ the driver concluded.

‘Depart forever?’ Lila clawed at the metal bar between the seats. ‘That’s not good. That can’t be good.’

‘Excuse me, Miss.’ Holly raised her hand. ‘I don’t think this is appropriate—’

‘Death? Is she saying one of us is going to die?’ Lila wheezed.

‘What are you saying, lady?’ Violet squinted, projecting her voice up the empty bus. She loved how the power rippled up from her diaphragm when she used her breath in the right way. ‘Are you trying to scare us? Cos it’s not working.’

‘Ignore me if you like, girls,’ the bus driver said. ’It is your choice to listen. But you have been warned.’

‘One of us is going to die?’ Lila said with a crack in her voice. ‘How? When?’

‘There are powers in this world we cannot comprehend. You must beware.’

‘Today? Do we need to be careful today?’

The bus driver shifted her focus back to the road. Her face closed like a shutter.

‘You have to give us more information than that. You can’t just —’

But the woman behind the wheel didn’t respond. She didn’t even look their way. It was as though she’d never said a word.

‘Excuse me,’ Lila said and waved her arm. ‘Tell us more. Please.’

The bus driver kept her eyes on the road.

‘Why won’t she tell us?’ Lila chewed her finger, her eyes glazed.

‘Forget it,’ Violet snorted. ‘She’s just another nutbag.’

Violet wondered why Lila was so fazed, she’d lived around Beacon Hill her whole life and knew all the weird stories off by heart. She should be used to strange people by now.

The bus moaned to a stop. The back doors hissed open and a sharp slap of cold wind blew inside.

‘You have to tell us more.’ Lila scrambled up the aisle towards the driver’s seat, her canvas school bag clutched to her chest. ‘Who? Which one of us?’

‘Last stop.’

‘Please,’ Lila whined.

Holly grabbed her by the elbow. ‘Leave it.’

‘She can’t just tell us someone is going to die and then say nothing else. She said beware. But what of?’ Lila raked her fingers through her home-dyed burgundy hair. ‘Do you think she cursed us?’

‘Come on. Let’s go.’ Violet headed towards the door.

Holly tugged at Lila’s sleeve. ‘Don’t get worked up about it. You know what you’re like. We’ll call the bus company tomorrow. Make a complaint.’

Lila sighed and followed Holly out into the wet air. Misty droplets dribbled down the graffiti-etched bus shelter.

‘Weirdo!’ Violet yelled out as the bus driver closed the concertina doors and the bus rumbled away. Violet pulled up her duffle coat hood as the red tail lights bled onto the wet road.

‘What if she’s right? One of us could die,’ Lila said. Raindrops brimmed on her eyelashes and she didn’t wipe them away.

‘Forget about it,’ Violet said. ‘Right, Holly?’

‘Well, I think we should tell someone,’ Holly said. ‘But maybe you’re right. Don’t think about it, Lila. It’s just some stupid joke. Nothing’s going to happen.’

‘It’s not very funny,’ Lila huffed. ‘And I have this strange —’

‘Well, I’m off. Lines to learn,’ Violet said with a smirk. ‘Lady Macbeth lines. See you tomorrow.’

‘With bells on,’ Lila said but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.

‘To witness the grand unveiling of my name up on the board tomorrow,’ Violet said. ‘Violet Black as Lady Macbeth.’

With a wave, the three friends went their separate ways into the gloom. Violet wrapped her arms around herself as she trudged down Melaleuca Avenue, through the shadows and puddles, past the rows of empty brown brick-and-tile houses with double garages. There wasn’t another soul around.

Violet couldn’t wait until Friday night when she stepped out onto her stage and shone like a star.

Maybe there was some truth to the crazy bus driver’s words.

The Flower and The Serpent – new release alert!

My latest novel The Flower and The Serpent will be released on 4th December 2019.

A supernatural young adult novel set during a school production of Macbeth, The Flower and The Serpent is my most autobiographical book yet.

The Flower and The Serpent is available now for pre-order.

—————-

Mysterious disappearances, a battle for the spotlight and nightmares. It’s just another day at Beacon Hill High School.

Auditions for Macbeth are over, and on the bus ride home, a mysterious driver gives sixteen-year-old Violet and her friends’ three strange predictions:

One of the girls will shine like a star.

One will invite darkness into her breast.

One will depart forever.

Please, how cliché. Besides, Violet clearly knows that she’s the star.
But when she isn’t cast as Lady Macbeth and strange things begin to unfold, and the predictions begin to come true, Violet can’t help to wonder which one will apply to her.

Determined to be the one that will shine like a star, Violet will do whatever it takes to get the leading role – no matter the consequence.

Modern-day Shakespeare meets supernatural mystery with this nail-biting young adult horror by Madeleine D’Este.

#69 – Alan Baxter – Write Through The Roof

Interview with Alan Baxter, writer of dark weird shit

‘Write caffeinated and edit drunk’

Episode 69 – Alan Baxter – Show Notes

  • Baxter believes plotting and pantsing is a sliding scale.
  • Vomit drafter but often edits a little before starting each day’s writing session
  • Has a target of 5000 words per week when writing first drafts but doesn’t try to write every day
  • Coffee in the day, whiskey in the evening
  • Genre is ‘dark weird shit’ – soup of urban fantasy, horror and the weird plus crime and noir
  • Themes of justice and consequences
  • Time is the most important thing
  • Martial arts mindset – time and commitment – developing a practice and striving for improvement
  • Stepping away from the manuscript to let the brain to work out the problems
  • Short stories can shake up the process, like cross-training
  • Clive Barker, Stephen King, Lovecraft, Poe, Kaaron Warren, Margo Lanegan and comics
  • Short story collection Served Cold leans more into horror and explores Australian identity

Links

#64 – Christopher Ruz – Write Through The Roof

Interview with horror and fantasy writer Christopher Ruz

‘Look for people who are one or two stages ahead of where you’re at.’

Episode 64 – Christopher Ruz – Show Notes

  • Doesn’t know how to write short stories any more.
  • Tries to write every day – most productive when writing every day
  • Rituals – encasing in a bubble, getting rid of visual distraction and white noise.
  • Pomodoro method – 100 words every 5 minutes.
  • Themes – horror-based but fantasy and sci-fi. But also spy fiction
  • A narrow focus on character – even with epic fantasy using a single narrator.
  • Using a single narrator to create tension with a timeline
  • Finding a group of writers who were better than him
  • Penny Arcade, Discord, Reddit, Twitter
  • Dictation in the car with a lapel mic
  • Cormac McCarthy, Emma Osborne, NK Jemesin, James SA Corey
  • China Mieville and Joe Hill – horror short stories
  • The Ragged Blade – epic fantasy – inspired by a vivid dream – started as a short story
  • All These Shiny Worlds
  • Working on The Ragged Blade 2 (yet unnamed)
  • Originally self-published the first two parts of The Ragged Blade
  • The journey from self-published to traditionally published

‘The novel is the lazy form’


‘Every change they recommended made it a better story’

Links

Music for Writing – dark & spooky moods

Most of the time I need music for writing. And the right kind of music. Like books and stories, I’ve always had a passion for music.

This is a new series where I’ll be sharing what I’m listening to.

Today is dark and spooky music for dark and spooky moods.

Here are three artists to inspire your dark and spooky writing.

Lebanon Hanover

Lebanon Hanover is a German-British goth electric duo. Think New Order with Nico. Great music for taphophiles and recovering goths.

Bohren and der Club of Gore

Bohren and der Club of Gore are slow, languid, dark and jazzy. Known as ‘doom jazz’, this is reminiscent of smoky clubs, noir with a touch of Twin Peaks.

John Carpenter

‘Horror-synth’ is another musical genre I gravitate towards when writing horror or general dark stuff. And John Carpenter is the grand-daddy of them all. His synth soundtracks create the perfect sense of dread.

I hope you enjoy these atmosphere-creating tunes.

If you’re writing something dark and spooky, what music do you listen to?

Edit: I’ve created a Spotify playlist featuring the artists above.

Spotify – Music for Writing playlist

#57 – Lucy Snyder – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 57 – Lucy Snyder– five times Bram Stoker award-winning writer

‘Tell us what characters think about what they’re seeing.’

Episode 57 – Lucy Snyder – Show Notes

  • Writing the type of fiction she’d like to read
  • Defining ‘weird fiction’
  • Science facts writing and reading informs science-fiction
  • The benefits of writing a poem a week
  • Coffee with milk
  • Themes of real-life loss and trauma mixed with the supernatural
  • Epiphany during a Clarion Writing Workshop – learning about the five-point plot structure
  • Using description as an opportunity to reinforce characterisation – what matters most is what the character thinks about what they’re seeing.
  • Popular fiction and literary fiction
  • Writing a space opera web serial – Broken Eye book Patreon – Eyedelon Magazine
  • Launchpad workshop – astronomy for writers
  • Caitlin R Kiernan, Christa Faust
  • Garden of Eldritch Delights – a collection of fantasy, science fiction & horror stories. Batching up stories of similar themes
  • Next up is the fourth book in the Jessie Shimmer urban fantasy series

‘Poetry is great cross-training’

Links

#54 – Sandra Ireland – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 54 – Sandra Ireland – writer of tartan gothic

“I like to be scared when I’m writing.”

Episode 54 – Sandra Ireland – Show Notes
  • Morning writing – not as creative in the afternoon
  • Goal of 500 words per day
  • Ritual of two cups of tea and one cup of coffee in favourite mug
  • Dark, creepy with a heavy dose of menace, toxic relationships
  • Landscape as a starting point for writing – sense of place to inform writing
  • Manipulating people’s fears and shadow sides.
  • Not just scaring the reader, not just horror but writing about what personally scares you. Vulnerability and readers not knowing what is imagination and what is true.
  • Currently writing non-fiction about the folklore surrounding the Mill (setting of Bone Deep). The words coming out faster with non-fiction.
  • Fiction as a therapy – creative release.
  • Giving herself the permission to be creative.
  • The tribe with the right vibe – people who understand to bounce ideas off.
    Be careful who you share your writing with.
  • Brontes, Benjamin Myers – The Gallows Pole, Julie Myerson – The Stopped Heart
  • A resurgence of gothic writing – perhaps as a reaction to current events
  • Bone Deep – inspired by work as a tour guide in a water mill. At times the mill felt unwelcoming. Modern story with a strand of an old folktale (Border Ballad).
  • The key struggle for writing students is a lack of confidence. One technique is forcing students to share their work.
  • Upcoming – The Mill (non-fiction) and The Unmaking of Ellie Rook
  • Residencies – productive but sometimes lonesome

“Write about what scares you.”

“It’s a basic human drive to be creative.”

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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward – retelling Lovecraft in a ‘Serial’ way

I’m a massive podcast fan – I’ve been listening since the iPod era – but I tend to stick to the interview style of podcasts (except for Strange Tales and the BBC Play of the Week audio drama). And despite all the acclaim and popularity, I haven’t ventured into the serialised investigative podcast genre.

But what I have been gobbling up this week is a mixture of the two – The Case of Charles Dexter Ward from BBC Radio 4.

This appeared in my podcast feed as an audio drama of an HP Lovecraft story.

Say no more, I’m in.

I press play.

Then I got confused.

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#52 – Kirsten Imani Kasai – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 52 with Kirsten Imani Kasai – writer, academic & editor

“I like grit and blood and meat in my work.”

Episode 52 – Kirsten Imani Kasai – Show Notes
  • Pantser at heart using an outline as a roadmap but allowing serendipity
  • Novels allow layering
  • Tea – Yorkshire Gold with vanilla cream or port and red wine
  • Writing described as dark and weird
  • Exploring love, romance, illness, death, spirituality and metaphysics
  • A different slant on romance – short story ‘Bleat’
  • Influence of growing up in a religious family – biblical imagery and spiritual cannibalism
  • Accepting valid criticism – lyrical writing and ‘purple prose’ – limiting adjectives
  • Allowing time to get a critical eye on own work
  • Challenges with current work ‘Girlstown’ mixing visual elements, fiction and non-fiction
  • Cindy Crabb ‘Things That Help’ 90s zines, Angela Carter, Octavia Butler, Helen Zahavi – Dark Weekend
  • House of Erzulie inspired by recurring dreams of a gothic house. Researching gothic literary elements. Triptych – three narrators across time. Epistolary structure and mirroring different POVs

“Too much structure hinders the creative process.”

“The first draft is work but also play.”

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#48 – Icy Sedgwick – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 48 with Icy Sedgwick – blogger and writer of dark fantasy, gothic horror & westerns

“I couldn’t write po-faced literature if I tried.”

Episode 48 – Icy Sedgwick – Show Notes
  • Flash fiction can be more challenging and more fun than novels
  • Writing something every day but not necessarily fiction
  • Fun, entertaining, whimsical pulpy adventure. Standing up against wrongs, taking on bullies or oppressive regimes
  • Westerns – rabid fan base
  • Improving dialogue
  • The balance between ‘write what you know’ and ‘making stuff up.”
  • Plotting while keeping it fresh
  • Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Oscar Wilde, JK Rowling
  • The Stolen Ghost inspired by a childhood trip to Glamis Castle. Took 11 years to finish.
  • Being a hoarder and recycling ideas
  • Finishing Book 3 of dark fantasy series

“Coffee as black as possible. As nature intended.”

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#39 – Alexandra Sokoloff – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 39 with Alexandra Sokoloff – thriller author & screenwriter

“You are directing a movie onto the page.”

Episode 39 – Alexandra Sokoloff – Show Notes
  • Good and evil and what good people can do
  • Screenwriters have to be plotters. Journey from impro to screenwriting
  • Milk
  • Exploration of violence against women using a female serial killer
  • Using screenwriting techniques to become better authors
  • Multi-task while appearing to have a social life
  • Taking your favourite movies and working out what the classic movies are doing: Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Casablanca, When Harry Met Sally, The Hunger Games, The Wizard of Oz
  • Editors want a movie in their head
  • Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Denise Mina, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Mo Hayder, Tana French, Val McDermid
  • Huntress/FBI series – to be read in order – like a binge watch TV experience
  • Hunger Moon is an unhappy read for Trump supporters

“If you’re going to talk about good and evil, you need to talk about people and what people do.”

“I do this with a total agenda of changing rape culture.”

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#33 – Kim Newman – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 33 with Kim Newman – novelist & film critic

“My novels are my purest me.”

Episode 33 – Kim Newman – Show Notes
  • Novels as favourite medium, loose outlines and historical research
  • Takeout coffee and working in the dressing gown
  • As a critic putting people into boxes but as a writer refusing to be put in a box
  • Reading, time and never having had a real job
  • The way writing as a career has changed since 1980s
  • Buying first computer with money from writing for porn magazines with Neil Gaiman
  • Editors used to have more time to deal with and develop new writers
  • Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Patrick Hamilton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Ramsay Campbell, Peter Straub, David Thomson, Greil Marcus
  • Criticism and deadlines
  • The need for a continuity person during novel writing
  • Big file full of random film quotes

“Some people don’t realise I’m the same person.”

“My critical range is not good or bad but interesting or dull.”

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#31 – Josh Larsen – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 31 with Josh Larsen – film critic, editor & broadcaster

“Sometimes it’s not fair to the film to dash something off the hour after you’ve seen it.”

Episode 31 – Josh Larsen – Show Notes
  • Editing every day
  • Writing outside with tea or an IPA
  • Daily newspaper movie criticism background
  • Pop culture and faith, akin to feminist film criticism
  • Working with good editors, the demise of newspaper industry
  • Still wrapping mind around faith based film criticism
  • Horror movies and faith
  • Print deadlines – stressful but the best training. A negative can be writing too quickly
  • Manohla Dargis, Richard Brody, Dana Stevens, Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael

“I miss having an editor to bounce ideas off.”

“There’s no time for writers block. It’s a luxury.”

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#25 – Stephen Volk – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 25 with Stephen Volk – horror screenwriter & author

“If you can’t write a good scene, write a bad one.”

Episode 25 – Stephen Volk – Show Notes
  • Mixing up different lengths and mediums helps storytelling
  • Surrounding writing space with ‘friends’
  • Alcohol is a truth killer
  • Clash between belief and rationalism, fear of the unknown, how finding out about your past affects your future
  • Exploring horror, asking why are we attracted to the genre and exploring through story
  • Cool down, don’t rush and go back to it
  • Keeping your story secret or testing it?
  • Patrick McGrath, Stephen Gallagher, Taylor Sheridan, Liam Gavin, Yiorgos Lanthimos, Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta
  • Exploring repercussions of crime and criminals rather than solving a crime
  • The Dark Masters trilogy; Whitstable with Peter Cushing, Leytonstone with Alfred Hitchcock and a new story with secret true life character.
  • With a long project you can lose impetus if you take a break
  • Madeleine’s tip – battling the mushy middle

“After 30 years, it’s still hard to look at a blank page.”

“Don’t start the day with a problem hanging over you.”

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#22 – Kaaron Warren – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 22 with Kaaron Warren – acclaimed horror, sci-fi & dark fantasy writer

“Trusting yourself. You don’t have to write like other people.”

Episode 22 – Kaaron Warren – Show Notes
  • The power of novellas
  • Snatching the moments to write: making the most of time and place
  • Fuelled by chai: cardamon is good for concentration
  • Inspired by darker elements of humanity, inspired by darker fairytales like Bluebeard as a child
  • Exploring the afterlife, fear of death and ghost photographs
  • Practice, reading others, believe in yourself
  • Experimenting with a diary form; each character with a distinctive voice and their public/private face. Part of a new ‘unnamed’ novel about prisoners in a time-ball tower
  • Important to have non-writers as beta readers
  • Inspired by Lisa Tuttle, Steve Rasnic Tem, William Golding, Alasdair Grey
  • Impact of Transcendental Meditation
  • Madeleine’s Tip: How To Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman

“I don’t think there are any definitive rules in writing.”

“In dark fantasy you can’t hold back.”

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#18 – David Moody – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 18 with David Moody – Horror writer & indie-publishing pioneer

“I’m a torturer at heart.”

Episode 18 – David Moody – Show Notes
  • An extreme plotter
  • Best time for plot development is during running
  • Procrastinating as a full-time writer
  • Hybrid publishing and the dark ages of indie publishing
  • Writing in 45 minute chunks
  • Ordinary people in extreme apocalyptic situations
  • Setting rules and having discipline
  • The cloud – accessible from everywhere for when inspiration strikes
  • Richard Matheson, John Wyndham, and learning from James Herbert; the writing and the man
  • The ‘sidequel’: creating two trilogies to create one big story
  • Madeleine’s tip – the Four Tendencies

“Definitely, irritatingly, a plotter”
“The less time I’ve got, the better my writing is.”
“I always feel dirty when I say this but I’m just a people watcher.”

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#05 – Beverley Lee – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode o5 with Beverley Lee – Writer 0f modern gothic

First drafts, Tea and Exploring the Shadowy Places

“The one thing a story hates is a nit-picky writer”

Episode 05 – Beverley Lee – Show Notes
  • Being a planster
  • Battling to find the right genre
  • Don’t compare your work effort to others
  • Lewis, King, Rice and Schwab
  • Always listen to your story even if you think it’s wrong
  • Madeleine’s tip: the Emotional Thesaurus

“With a global community, there’s always someone around to hold your hand or kick you in the pants.”

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#03 – Angela Slatter – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 03 with Angela Slatter: award winning dark fantasy writer

“I’m a hybrid mess.”

Episode 03 – Angela Slatter – Show Notes.
  • Whiskey and the morning writer
  • Reverse engineering for writers
  • Reading like a fat kid at the dessert table
  • Frankenstein-ing her debut novel ‘Vigil’ together
  • Madeleine’s segment – The Foolscap Method

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#01 – Scott McAteer – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 01 with Scott McAteer; comedian, improv performer and playwright.

“The fear of monsters is a very particular fear, a safe and curious fear.”

Episode 01 – Scott McAteer – Show notes
  • Scott’s Monsterpedia
  • Similarity between horror and comedy
  • Improvisation and writing
  • In defence of Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Madeleine’s segment: #sixwordstory

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Recent Reads – She Walks in Shadows

Today, an anthology of short stories inspired by HP Lovecraft all written by women. The collection is called She walks in Shadows  edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R Stiles, published by Innsmouth Free Press in 2015.

HP Lovecraft is a founding father of the horror genre but he’s well known for his lack of female characters and his dubious perception of anyone who wasn’t of English descent.

For those unfamiliar with HP Lovecraft, his work is filled with dark, gory, lush imagery  and his stories often focus on scientists uncovering the paranormal in the course of their experiments and the revelations drive them mad. Or family legends of inherited guilt. In his writings, he built a rich pantheon of mythology including the all powerful cosmic entity Cthulu. Lovecraft never experienced fame during his lifetime but has inspired many writers since.

This collection, by all female writers, takes the Lovecraft universe and focuses on, or reimagines, the role of women in his world. The writers are from all across the world, each bringing their own unique spin on Lovecraft.

Usually I find short story anthologies are a bit hit and miss, but when I went back to write this review and looked through all the stories I liked, I was surprised how many I really enjoyed.

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Good scary versus bad scary – drawing the line in horror

I’ve got horror all around me at the moment. My current work-in-progress is a gothic horror novel, I’m watching a lot of Twin Peaks, enjoying Devil’s Candy and The Stone Tape, anticipating Raw and working my way through the back catalogue of Shirley Jackson.

My question today is why do I like some dark, spooky, scary stuff but not others.

Firstly, I’m curious. Why do we like to be scared?

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Recent reads – The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

In the past few months, I’ve fallen in love with Shirley Jackson and her creepy weird normality. Today it’s The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, a classic haunted house story, first published in 1959.

Stephen King described The Haunting of Hill House as one of the most important horror books of the 20th century and inspired The Shining. It has also been the basis for two films. And today, a new ‘reimagining’ via Netflix was announced.

 Dr Montague, a paranormal academic researcher, rents a haunted house for a summer to undertake a research project. Hill House has a frightening reputation and history of hauntings after a series of tragic events in the house. The local townspeople won’t come anywhere near the place, and any one who rents the house barely stays a week. Determined to document the phenomenon, Dr Montague seeks out a few research assistants to join him at the house for the summer.

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Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction review – podcast archive

Like you I love to read.

If you’d like to hear me talk about the books I love, check out my reviews on Art District radio. My show – Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction Review – is all about speculative fiction, where I bang on about science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, dystopia, horror, paranormal etc.

You can listen to the back catalogue of reviews as podcasts.

Happy listening and happy reading.

Evangeline and the Spiritualist – out NOW!

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Evangeline and the Spiritualist – Episode 3 of The Antics of Evangeline. Available from today at Amazon.

A sarcophagus, séances and seed cake, Evangeline is back with another adventure.

Mrs Picklescott-Smythe’s mummy unwrapping soiree doesn’t quite go to plan, and for once it’s not Evangeline’s fault. 

Evangeline is a seventeen-year-old ex-urchin and aspiring world-famous inventress, recently resettled in Marvellous Melbourne with her long lost father, the Professor.

It’s the infamous spiritualist, Madame Zsoldas, who interrupts the party with a sinister warning and she is not the only who feels something strange.

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Recent reads: Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Today it’s one of my all time favourite books, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, first published in 1992 by Simon and Schuster. Alternative history with vampires!

In the world of Anno Dracula, Van Helsing lost and Dracula triumphed, killing Jonathan Harker and taking Mina Harker into his harem of vampire brides.

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Recent reads: Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee

Today I’m talking horror (or sometimes known as dark fantasy) with The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee, published in 2016. (I have previously interviewed Beverley here on the blog.)

Beth and her husband Stu have moved to a new house in the idyllic English countryside to raise their baby, Gabriel. But one night, during a snowstorm, everything goes horribly wrong for the family and in the picture perfect setting, something ancient and evil emerges and changes all their lives and not for the better.

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Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song : rewatching Twin Peaks

While suffering a day of serious procrastination, I binge watched a bunch of Twin Peaks in a row and so messed up my plan for reviewing episode by episode. (Damn you Resistance! You got me that day but I’ve bounced back to get you. See here for more of my battles with Resistance.)

On that Sunday, I let Resistance get the better of me but who doesn’t love a guilty lazy afternoon on the couch? Especially watching something as clever, funny, spooky and weird as Twin Peaks Season 1.

In episodes 2 to 6, the murder investigation gets going with more suspects appearing including the One Armed Man and Jacques Renault. We start to see the real quirky side of Agent Cooper as he explains his unorthodox intuitive methods and we scratch further into the dirty and dark secrets of the small town. Plus lots of coffee and sugar-dusted doughnut porn.

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“She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic”: rewatching Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Season 3 is coming out in May 2017 and I’ve been meaning to look back at Twin Peaks for a long time. I was sixteen when it was first on television in Tasmania, and it was a strong influence on me. So in anticipation of the new season,  I’m committed to rewatching all 30 episodes, I’m doing it and I’m going to share my thoughts here.

There will be ***SPOILERS*** but come on, it’s been over 25 years since it was shown.

Let’s start with “Pilot” or “Northwest Passage”. Today I’m focusing on my initial feelings and reactions to the whole premise, rather than delving into the plot. More analysis of the plot will probably come later. But this is the episode where it all begins, Laura Palmer is found, Agent Cooper arrives and the crime investigation is underway.

As soon as the titles came up, the sparks of the saw mill, the waterfall, the Douglas firs and the deep slow bass of the theme tune, I was thrust back into 1991. Now, the opening titles font has really dated (day-glo green) but the rest of the design, clothing and setting is timeless, aside from one or two stray mullets.

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Recent read – The Ritual by Adam Nevill

The Ritual

Today I’m going a little darker than usual. It’s time to talk horror with Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, published in 2011 through Pan Macmillan.

Horror is not a genre for everyone, but I like being scared. There is something about horror writing which makes my imagination go wild in a far more vibrant way than horror movies. Probably because I build my own images, creating something uniquely me from all of my fears.

Enough about me, let’s talk about The Ritual. Four middle-aged men get together for a hiking trip in Sweden. They’ve been friends since their university days as they have grown older and taken on responsibilities, their friendships have waned. Everyone has stressful jobs, kids, mortgages, marriages. All except Luke. But this camping trip is a ‘lads weekend’. A chance to renew old friendships and have a laugh. Or so they planned.

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My favourite books of 2016

Yep, another top 2016 list. But this one is all about me.

Here’s my list of 5 star rated books from my own goodreads list (because I can’t rely on my own memory) filled with vampires, time travel, near future spy thrillers and two present day thrillers.

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My Top 5 Childhood Movie Scares

Despite my earlier post about being the Halloween Grinch, I love a scary movie and this is the time of year to talk horror.

So, I’ve been inspired by my favourite movie podcast, Filmspotting, to list my top 5 childhood movie scares.

In no particular order, here are the top 5 movie moments which scared the pants off me as a little ‘un.

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Shadows and Bunyips

Last week’s freebie sale on Evangeline and the Alchemist: A Novella: Mystery and Mayhem in steampunk Melbourne (The Antics of Evangeline Book 1) was an overwhelming success (over 2,500 downloads). I was blown away. I hope you snaffled a copy and enjoy it.

In the past week, I’ve been exploring my shadow side with my new gothic horror work and finalising proofs/cover for Evangeline and the Bunyip.

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