Category Archives: short stories

Burnt Fur

My short story, The Others, is included in the furry-themed anthology Burnt Fur, edited by Ken MacGregor, and available now on Blood Bound Books.

BBB, who have previously published my stories The Devil & Jim Rosenthal in DOA and Subject #270374 in DOA III, are one of my favourite publishing companies, and it’s always a pleasure to work with them. We have something else in the pipeline for 2020, more details of that project to follow soon.

Right now, it’s all about the Burnt Fur…

Burnt Fur

“Burnt Fur: An Anthology of Horror is easily one of my favourite modern horror anthologies. There isn’t a bad story amongst the bunch with some just lacking the extra spark to really get the horror juices flowing.”

From the review by Games, Brrraaains & a Headbangin’ Life

My contribution, the Others, has an interesting back-story. A few years ago when I lived in Hunan Province, China, I started dating a local girl called Ebony. That’s not her real name, by the way. I couldn’t even pronounce her Chinese name, let alone remember it. I called her Ebony because she had beautiful dark skin. One day she told me a story. She said when she was little, she would see animals which looked a bit like ‘friendly bears,’ interacting with people around her. Some were big, some were small, they wore colourful clothing and seemed to communicate with each other. Strangest of all was that apparently nobody could see these things except her. She thought she was going mad, and when she was telling me about this, her eyes filled with tears. Telling someone about this was a big thing for her.

I didn’t know what to think. It’s not something you hear every day. I didn’t doubt her sincerity for a moment. I sympathised because she was relating what had obviously been a traumatic experience for her, or numerous traumatic experiences, as it hadn’t been a one-off incident. These bear-like creatures were around for years. The question was, what did she see? Were these things real? Transgressors from another dimension, maybe? Or was it all in her mind?

I never did find out. Our relationship fizzled out soon after. But her weird confession formed the basis of this story. I also wanted to say something about the convenience and the increasing prevalence of online dating. Because on the internet, you’re never really 100% sure who you’re talking to. 

Is that creepy enough for you? If not, why not slip into your Fursona and see what else Burnt Fur? has to offer?

Burnt Fur Available now on paperback and ebook.


Demon Tree @ Haunted MTL

My short story Demon Tree is now free to read on the new horror website Haunted MTL, which features a steady stream of news, reviews, and horror fiction definitely not for the squeamish. I also did an interview with them recently, which you can read here if you’re interested.

There’s a little pine forest near my childhood home in south Wales, and on summer days I enjoy walking through it to get to the country pub on the other side. It’s a beautiful area, with rolling mountains, a sea of green, and wild horses roaming the fields. But there’s something weird and ominous about that forest. Maybe its the way the shadows move, or the way the canopy steals the sunlight. It just makes you uneasy, and you can’t help but hurry along the narrow path that takes you through. When I get to the other side, I always wonder why I didn’t take my time. I wanted to try to express the way it makes me feel in a story, and hence Demon Tree was born.

demon tree pic

Something else that often goes through my mind when I go to that forest is the role trees and the natural world played in Celtic Britain. The druids worshipped trees, with each one said to have a different significance, and some were considered sacred. I thought it might be fun to play around with that concept a little and reverse it. Throw in some graphic and (I hope) unsettling imagery, and you have a story.

I hope you like it.

And do check out Haunted MTL for all your horror news. 

Suitably moody pic stolen from Google images.


X4 – ToC

X4, my latest collection of short fiction, is out now.

Grin.

Check out the cover art by the awesome Greg Chapman.

X4

As promised, here is the complete ToC along with the original publishing credits:

Band of Souls has previously appeared in the anthologies Return of the Raven (2009) and Fearful Fathoms, Volume 1 (2017)

As the Crow Flies was first published in QuickFic Anthology 2 (2016)

Jessica was first published in Liquid Imagination (2016)

Jumping at Shadows was first published in Matt Hickman’s Sinister Scribblings (2017)

Other Me was first published in Feverish Fiction (2017)

Vicar on the Underground was first published in Monsters Among Us (2016)

The Past Entombed was first published in Echoes & Bones (2017)

My Tormentor was first published by The Horror Tree (2018)

Lakeside Park was first published in Terrors Unimagined (2017)

Harberry Close was first published in Dead Harvest (2014)

Afterword

X4 is on Amazon now.

US LINK

UK LINK


X4 is out now!

So… now I can tell you all about my latest, ahem, release. X4 includes ten horror/dark fiction stories, all of which have been published before in the likes of Liquid Imagination, Terrors Unimagined and several anthologies. I’ve given them all a bit of spit and polish, but the stories are all otherwise untouched. It’s tempting sometimes, but I’m reluctant to change up the plot or anything substantial. As far as I’m concerned, once a story is published it’s done and dusted and I move on. Otherwise, it’s easy to get caught in a vicious circle of constantly reviewing, editing and updating. You have to know when to say enough is enough.

In my humble opinion, this is the strongest of my X books to date, not least because this writing lark is hard and it took me a while to get my head around it. Truth be told, I still haven’t got my head around it. I’m not sure if that’s even possible. It’s a learning process. But I’m definitely a better writer now than I was 23 years ago when I first started.

The X books are released in rough chronological order. The first volume collected all my early stories, and this latest addition brings us up to 2016-17, which was an especially prolific period for me. I lived in London at the time, so that was the setting for most of the stories. I’m very proud of some of them, and I’m elated to be able to share them with you.

X4

X4 is out now.


100 Word Horrors 4

Hello, you sexy bastards. I just want to let you know that I have a drabble included in the new anthology 100 Word Horrors 4, which will probably be the last in the series, edited once again by the irrepressible Kevin Kennedy. Without giving too much away, my contribution, entitled Louie’s Room, is about a boy who loves playing with toy soldiers. Didn’t we all? But maybe Louis loves playing with his toys a little bit too much and as ever, there’s a twist.

100 word horrors 4

Bagging a spot in number four means I’ve been lucky enough to have had stories published in each volume of the 100 Word Horrors series, and a few of my drabbles have found homes on other platforms. At first, I found the whole process of writing drabbles a drain. It was too restrictive, the margins for error too fine and a lot of work for very little pay-off. But over the past couple of years I’ve grown to love it. It’s still a challenge, but it’s also a good exercise for other forms of writing. You have to make every word count. It’s much easier said than done, but don’t take my word for it. Have a go. Sit down and write a bona fide story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, in 100 words not including the title or byline. Not 99 or 101 words. Exactly 100. I’m sure people have been driven insane by much less.

100 Word Horrors 4 is available now.


Tiny Little Vampires & the Tell Tale Press

I hate mosquitoes. I mean, I really hate them. I hate them so much I wrote a weird little gross-out pseudo-rant about a guy in a hotel room being tormented by the little fuckers so much it drives him nuts.

Why mosquitoes?

Because with most creatures, even the gross or dangerous ones, you can usually find one redeeming quality. But not mosquitoes. Everything about them is vile and repulsive. They really are tiny little vampires. With wings. The problem is, as much as I hate them, they just love me and can’t stay away. They aren’t much of a problem in the UK. It’s not warm enough for them. But the moment I step off that chilly little island I get bitten to shit.

A few years ago I did a load of research about mosquitoes, either for my own amusement or for a non-fiction article I never wrote (I forget which) and ended up incorporating a lot of it into a story called Tiny Little Vampires. A flash version (less than 1000 words) of this story previously appeared in my collection X2, but the only reason it reached that state was because I cut it down on the advice of a prospective publisher who then decided they didn’t want it anyway.

Sigh.

Truth be told, I was never entirely happy with either the original or the flash version. I knew the story had potential, and thought it could be much better than it was. So sometime last year I stripped it down and built it again from the ground up, so to speak. Then, after a few edits and some polishing, I started submitting it again.

And here we are.

You can now find it on Tell Tale Press.


The Corona Book of Ghost Stories

I am pleased to report that my 6th short story of the year, Where a Town Once Stood, has been included in the Corona Book of Ghost Stories on Corona Books, UK-based independent publishers of the “brilliant, innovative and quirky.”

Corona

 

I’m not sure which category Where a Town Once Stood belongs, probably the third one. It’s a pretty straight-forward ghost story with a dash of social commentary based on a period of my life when I was trying to break into journalism. I was still working full-time in a packing factory, so I did a few voluntary shifts at a local newspaper called the Merthyr Express in my spare time. I just wanted to see what went on behind the scenes at a newspaper. Suffice to say it wasn’t exactly Fleet Street. In fact, it was far more boring than I thought possible, and while I sat in the office fielding phone calls about fetes and community meetings I yearned for something exciting to happen. A real-life ghost story would have been the dream, but there were times when I would have settled for a giant cucumber story.

Reading it now, Where a Town Once Stood would be a perfect addition to my series of stories set in the fictional Welsh village of Wood Forge. For some reason however, I named the village Tref y Meirw which (I think) means ‘Town of the Dead’ in Welsh.

A little private joke there.

By the way, to give credit where it’s due, I appropriated the title Where a Town Once Stood from an Alarm song about the decline of post-industrial Wales from the seminal album Change.

Check out the ToC:

Corona 2

The Corona Book of Ghost Stories is out now.


100 Word Horrors 3

I am happy to announce that my drabble (100-word story) Naughty Step, a nasty little tale ultimately about the consequences of adultery, has been included in the new anthology 100 Word Horrors 3 edited by Kevin J. Kennedy.

Check out the awesome cover art.

100 word horrors 3

I’ve been lucky enough to have had stories previously included in 100 Word Horrors and 100 Word Horrors 2, both of which picked up some fantastic reviews, so it’s great to keep the streak alive. Saunders for the hat trick!

100 Word Horrors 3 is available on Amazon now.


The Bell in Dark Moments

Without getting all preachy about it, one of the best things about writing fiction is that it gives me a platform to address, often indirectly, issues that I usually tend to shy away from. In the past I have used this medium to write about suicide (Those Left Behind) social decay and rising violent crime rates (Switchblade Sunday, Vicar on the Underground) and the decline of the print industry and the changing face of the rock scene (The Delectable Hearts). It’s not that I’m trying to be some kind of social justice warrior. In fact, sometimes I don’t know what themes my stories are addressing until after they are finished. It’s more cathartic than anything else. Maybe it’s my way of dealing with the shit. I believe that to some extent art should be like a mirror, held up to reflect us, and our lives.

The Bell, my fifth story published so far this year, is now free to read on Dark Moments, an online zine published by Black Hare Press. It’s a micro-fiction piece about cancer, so be warned it makes for uncomfortable reading.

That’s the point.

I’ve lost several family members to cancer, as we all have. I’ll be donating my fee to Cancer Research UK, and I encourage my readers to think about making a small donation to this or an equivalent charity because FUCK CANCER.

 


100 Word Horrors 2

Back last year I contributed to an anthology of drabbles called 100 Word Horrors. I’d never written a drabble until then, but found it a lot of fun as well as a good exercise. When you only have 100 words, you have to be concise and make every word count. The format is one I enjoy, and I’ve dabbled (drabbled?) in it quite a lot since.

Here’s another one.

Fast forward a few months and editor Kevin Kennedy is at it again.

Introducing… 100 Word Horrors 2.

How’s this for an awesome cover?

100 word horrors 2

My contribution this time around, Hitori Kakurenbo, is a spin-off from my recently completed (and as yet unpublished) novella Tethered. It isn’t set in the same universe, nor does it feature any of the same characters, but the two stories are linked because they both concern creepy internet rituals. Translated from Japanese, Hitori Kakurenbo means ‘One person hide and seek.’ Or something along those lines. I’ll be giving the game away if I divulge too much here, but let’s just say it involves a stuffed doll, a knife and some blood. Wahoo! What more do you need for a fun night in by yourself?

Check out 100 Word Horrors 2 to read Hitori kakurenbo in its 100-word entirety, along with stories by lots of other, more talented writers including Amy Cross, Andrew Lennon, David Moody, Michael Bray, Shaun Hutson, Terry West and my spirit uncle Craig, to name but a few.

I’m just there for the shits and giggles.

And the stuffed dolls.

100 Word Horrors is available now on ebook and paperback.


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