Tag: paranormal

#72 – Violeta M. Bagia – Write Through The Roof

Interview with paranormal author, Violeta M. Bagia

“Whatever you do, you’re only going to get better by repeating it.”

Episode 72 – Violeta M. Bagia – Show Notes

  • Writes every day without fail
  • Early morning writing time is the best
  • Nice pair of shoes are required to write
  • Poetic and “prose-y” style. PTSD, new identity, personal transformation
  • The problems with defining a genre – paranormal or urban fantasy or war fiction
  • Routine is all-important to build a writing habit
  • Learning to plot to meet the publisher’s expectations
  • Whiteboard wall
  • Stephen King, Jennifer L Armentrout
  • Jack of Hart – the book came after “finishing” the series. Quick to write but then expanded to double the size.
  • Taking back the rights of the Hart of Darkness series from the original publisher and republished

Links

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.

#44 – Charles Christian – Write Through The Roof

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

Episode 44 with Charles Christian – award-winning journalist, podcaster & author

“People get carried with their gadgets… and forget about the human element.”

Episode 44 – Charles Christian – Show Notes
  • Novella length is favourite length. Better for ebooks and easier to consume.
  • Writing every day and learned discipline from career as a freelance journalist
  • ‘All written out’ by freelance journalism
  • Green tea, dark chocolate, chips and baked beans
  • Exploring how one event can change the entire direction of life – JB Priestly
  • Stop doing courses and start writing your own stories
  • Stick to the brief, meet the deadline & work count – who, why, what, where, how
  • Asking the question – is this project fun to write?
  • Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, MR James, David Sedaris, Richard Brautigan
  • Genre fiction tips: less about the gadgets, more about the characters

“Get on with it and be business-like about it.”

“If I can’t be bothered reading it, I can’t expect the reader to.”

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#38 – Gail Carriger – Write Through The Roof

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

Episode 38 with Gail Carriger – comedy of manners paranormal romance author

“The strength of the romance genre lies in the Heroine’s Journey.”

Episode 38 – Gail Carriger – Show Notes
  • A militant plotter and a purger
  • 2000 words per day and only re-read words written the day before
  • Novellas in the independent publishing world
  • Chronic tea drinker – import from England
  • Gentle, frivolous, strong female friendships and the help of others
  • The Heroine’s Journey
  • Give yourself permission to suck
  • Beta readers with different coloured pens and revision pass for funny
  • Scrivener
  • Moving back into YA high fantasy
  • Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey
  • Queer characters and power of normalisation
  • Competence: with queer main character.
  • Shared world of characters but stories are stand-alone

“No one but you has to read your first draft.”

“My goal is at least three LOLs per page.”

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#35 – Shona Husk – Write Through The Roof

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

Episode 35 with Shona Husk – speculative fiction romance author

“I like a fast and dirty draft.”

Episode 35 – Shona Husk – Show Notes
  • Writes quickly but as a plotter, edits aren’t generally structural
  • Dark mint chocolate, not coffee
  • Dark angsty and tortured heroes
  • Every other genre plus romance
  • Write novellas to learn characterisation and three act structure
  • Learning – Stealing Hollywood by Alexandra Sokoloff, podcasts, the Story Grid and movies as a reference
  • Katharine Kerr, Marie Brennan, Jim Butcher
  • Different dynamics in heterosexual, gay and lesbian romance
  • Servant of The Forest: YA Cinderella re-telling
  • Hybrid publishing – write first and then look for the right market
  • Ballet classes as research for writing

“All the wonderful world building with a happily-ever-after.”

“I write faster with chocolate.”

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The origins of ten common superstitions

I’ve been writing a series for Folklore Thursday on the origins of common superstitions and the series has come to an end. Boo. It’s been a fun and fascinating project to delve into why and where these superstitions came from.

Here are all ten articles for your reading pleasure

Enjoy

#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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#16 – George Mann – Write Through The Roof

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

Episode 16 with George Mann – Paranormal mystery & Dr Who comic writer

“You’re chasing ghosts if you’re chasing trends.”

Episode 16 – George Mann – Show Notes
  • Dreaded Chapter 7
  • Inspiration from music – songs associated with every book
  • Theme of Identity
  • Mystery and fantastical, the bizarre and the weird. More Peake than Tolkien.
  • Trying to be Peter F Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, and failing.
  • Wychwood was a switch into a modern day setting.
  • Getting police procedures right
  • Initial premise for Wychwood – a BBC Sunday night crime drama with dark spooky elements
  • M. John Harrison, Steven Eriksen, Susan Cooper, Peter Robinson
  • Madeleine’s tip – Artist’s Date

“Write something for yourself.”
“It’s part of the writer’s job to read widely.”

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#12 – Oscar de Muriel – Write Through The Roof

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

Episode 12 with Oscar de Muriel – writer of Victorian murder mysteries

It’s not sipping a glass of wine and staring out the window.”

Episode 12 – Oscar de Muriel – Show Notes
  • Fuelled by wine and cheese
  • Jurassic Park (the book) the first inspiration
  • Discipline
  • Spreadsheets
  • Being a chemist is very useful for murder mysteries
  • Isaac Asimov – The Black Widower’s Club and Lucky Starr series
  • Banshees, MacBeth and Bram Stoker
  • Not a whodunnit but a ‘who will do it’ – balancing reader’s expectations while trying something new
  • Madeleine’s tip – Text to Speech functions

“Thanks to Malbec for its contribution to this book”

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#10 – Dee Dee Chainey – Write Through The Roof

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

Episode 10 with Dee Dee Chainey – Folklorist & freelance content marketer

“Bringing magic to the mundane”

Episode 10 – Dee Dee Chainey – Show Notes
  • Do your writing first
  • Instagram pictures of cake
  • Dark folklore; Krampus, hand of glory and the tooth fairy
  • Confidence
  • Don’t keep rewriting the same piece, move on
  • Squeezing a massive topic into an introductory book
  • A non-fiction writer mainly influenced by fiction
  • Aubrey Burl, Carrie Ann Noble, Jackie Morris, Phillip Pullman
  • Madeleine’s tip – 10 story ideas per day

“What do you want to say to the world and to yourself”

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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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Albanian eggs, open umbrellas and mysterious lights

Sometimes all my writing efforts land at once and it’s been one of those weeks.

Not only did the new adventure Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights (and the new collection The Antics of Evangeline) go live, but I had articles published on Roads and Kingdoms, and FolkloreThursday.com.

For Roads and Kingdoms, I wrote about my own private Albanian breakfast and reliving holidays through food.

My Own Private Albanian Breakfast

For FolkloreThursday.com, I continued my series on superstitions with ‘opening an umbrella inside’.

Sky Goddesses, Spring Mechanisms, or Sprites: Why Is it Bad Luck to Open an Umbrella Inside?

And coming later in October, I’m launching my writing craft podcast ‘Write Through the Roof’. The process of learning how to produce a podcast has been surprisingly fun and I’m reminded of how I used to play ‘radio stations’ with my cassette recorder in the 1980s. It’s reinforced the theory that your passions lie in the things you liked to do as a child.

And don’t forget if you like the Evangeline stories, please vote in the Christmas story poll. At the moment, it’s neck and neck between three side kicks!

Happy reading and writing!

 

Hand-me-down superstitions: magpies, silver coins and calendars

What superstitions did your Gran or Mum hand down to you?

With my writing and research for Folklore Thursday, books I’m reading and ideas for a new story knocking round my head, I’m in a real folklorish and superstition-filled place at the moment.

My mum passed a few superstitions down to me. No shoes on the table, no open umbrellas inside and cutting crosses in brussel sprouts. So now, I’m curious what superstitions and folklore traditions other people inherited and still follow today.

I put a question out to the Folklore Thursday community

Here’s a summary of the responses…

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Recent reads – Vigil by Angela Slatter

Vigil by Angela Slatter is an urban fantasy set in Brisbane, Australia.

Brisbane has a number of nicknames, I generally call it Brisvegas but this book uses Brisneyland. Whatever you call it, Brisbane has a cliched reputation for warm weather, theme parks and palm trees. But Vigil shows Brisbane in a completely different light.

Verity Fassbinder is a woman who strides between two worlds. The world of the Normals, us everyday types and the Weyrd, the paranormal underworld sitting just below the surface of everyday Brisbane. Verity is the product of a Normal mother and Weyrd father, she inherited some powers, extraordinary strength, but the rest of Verity is very Normal.

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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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Guest posts round-up

I’ve been guest posting on various blogs to spread the word about Evangeline and the Spiritualist. Take a look at my posts below.

 

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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What inspired The Antics of Evangeline stories?

Now, what inspired the stories in The Antics of Evangeline?

Since I was a child, I’ve loved the weird, the wonderful and the supernatural. I am a big fan of Dr Who, Whedon-worlds, Hammer horror, the X-Files, folktales and all manner of forteana.

The Antics of Evangeline combine a steampunk setting with an exploration of folklore and the paranormal.

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