Women in Horror Month 2017

To celebrate this year’s Women in Horror Month, I’m going to sharing some thoughts on my favourite women horror authors, so without further faff…

the-vampire-chronicles-book-coverAnne Rice

I read Interview with a Vampire when I was 17 years old. It made me fall in love with vampires. Before that, I’d worn a cross to protect myself from them (I’m not religious in any way, I’d just watched the film adaptation of Salem’s Lot and thought it was better safe than sorry!). Needless to say that after I r
ead the tale of Louis and Lestat, I took that necklace off.

It is a beautifully written book that seamlessly delves into the characters and makes someone, that could be considered as a monster, into a breathtakingly sorrowful and exciting creature of the night – a bizarre mix. I can not recommend Anne Rice’s books highly enough to those readers out there that haven’t discovered them yet.

 

Shirley Jackson6219656

Gothic horror author of highly disturbing short stories and novels, Shirley Jackson was a pioneer of the genre. Her short story The Lottery
(based on the lottery you wouldn’t want to win!) paved the way for all sorts of books, from Battle Royale to The Hunger Games.

She brought us horror that brandished social commentaries like a razor-sharp weapon, and human monsters that are more real than we would ever want to admit. Always engrossing, stunning prose that drags you into the story and doesn’t let you go, even after you’ve finished reading it. Anyone who doesn’t believe that the horror genre belongs in literary fiction needs to read her work.

51xrqewd0sl-_ac_ul320_sr212320_Nancy A Collins

Back in the 90s my older brother and I played White Wolf’s role play game, Vampire The Masquerade. I so wanted to be part of the Toreador clan; to be a beautiful vampire who only writes emotionally prose dedicated to her many victims…

It was this game brought me to Nancy A Collin’s book Sunglasses After Dark. Sonja Blue is a fantastic (had to stop myself from typing ‘fangtastic!) character that is true to her nature; something that made her feel more real and made the book far more interesting than the other vampire books that you get now. I can’t recommend this author’s work enough and, even better, she also writes amazing comics, Jason vs. Leatherface – how can you beat two slasher killers going head to head – with Michael Myers waiting in the wings to tackle the winner? Just an idea :)

Susan Hill51h6sqpzb8l-_sx309_bo1204203200_

A writer of genuinely terrifying ghost stories and true gothic fiction, this talented lady is most famous for writing, The Woman in Black and has also branched out into crime fiction. I started reading her work for an essay on isolation for my Creative Writing Degree and got hooked. The anthology, The Travelling Bag and Other Stories includes some rather disturbing shorts and is the perfect read for a stormy night when the rain beats your window like an impatient visitor, and the wind’s screams slice across the growing darkness. As England seems to be getting a lot of those kind of nights, I’d highly recommend buying this book! Susan Hill is a must for anyone with stones big enough to read a ghost story late at night.

I hoped you enjoyed this short dedication to my favourite Women in Horror. Perhaps I’ve been remiss in not putting myself in this list? I’ve had over 30 short horror stories included in anthologies with monsters ranging from: vampires, mad men, witches, unicorns (yes, you read that right) Jack the Ripper, dark faeries and much more. If you’d like to read my horror stories, pop along to my Amazon author page and take a look at the macabre selection on offer.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger

20657721Synopsis:

When Claire Mallory’s father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.

The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well — like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.

Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.

They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?

 About the Author:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer’s Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

 http://www.vanessabarger.com

 My Review:

Spirits and ghosts never fail to fascinate me in stories. They are one of the few paranormal entities that are both possible and persistently scare the crap out of me! I used to love ghost stories when I was kid, but not so much when my imagination started rolling them round in my mind in the middle of the night!

This is YA, so not as scary as an adult horror would be, so hit a nice middle ground to be intriguing but not something that stops you turning the light off!

From a writer’s perspective, I found Claire’s voice a little muddled at times. I’m not sure if this was down to a character trait (as it was written first person) or down to the general voice of the author. There were quite a few punctuation errors in there too – now I’m not the be all and end all expert on this matter and some of them might have been down to personal taste, but there were quite a few sentences (especially in the beginning) that were missing commas. Now, this might be more to do with the fact I was given an Advanced Reader Copy – so the final version might prove a little less muddled and with a few more little black wiggles where they are supposed to be.

The story itself was interesting, but the YA aspect again was quite predictable and followed that old tried and tested love triangle, protagonist specialness – which although works, is getting a bit tiresome for me personal. To be honest though, I’m not a teen readers – so not really the target market for this book.

The front cover is beautiful. Month9 seem to always produce fantastic covers and really promote their books – so two spectral thumbs up for that.

Overall, I’d give Whispers 3 out of 5 stars for an adult reader and 4 out of 5 for a teen. A perfect read for a Halloween night.

 

A-Whispered-Darkness-Banner

Interview with Ghost Hunter Billy Roberts

18126469How did Ghostly Tales come about?

 As a professional medium and paranormal researcher I have been writing ghost stories for over 30 years. This is just one compilation of many I have written.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever heard?

I have been in many scary situations over the years; apart from my wife shouting at me to get ready for an important appointment: The location of the house that cried blood (now a desolate piece of waste land), the merciful cries of children who were slaughtered echoing through the night.

One of the scariest things I’ve seen recently is this painting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hands_Resist_Him

I must admit, I’ve never seen anything like this painting.

What sort of ghost stories did you read growing up?

Growing up I read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe. I liked the SARDONIC SMILE.

What was the hardest part of writing the book?

The hardest part of writing the book was formatting it for the publishers. These stories are all true and so I found the actual writing of the book quite easy.

What is the most realistic ghost/ paranormal movie you’ve seen?

When my autobiography was first published in 1995 by Harper Collins, the publishers sent it to different movie companies. The Sixth Sense was exactly like my life as a child. I just thought it was a bit of a coincidence.

Which literary character do you feel you are you most like and why?

Nineteenth Century dramatist and mystic, Maurice Maeterlinck. I use to see him as a child in my head, and later in a crystal sphere I used for meditation. I now know him to be one of my disembodied mentors.

Going into a paranormal situation, what piece of equipment could you not do without?

The only piece of ‘Ghost Hunting’ equipment I need is my torch.

Where can fans find you online?

My website is www.billyroberts.co.uk

 

Book Review – Ghost Prison by Joseph Delany

Synopsis:

51gPReGV+GL._SY445_‘This is the entrance to the Witch Well and behind that door you’d face your worst nightmare. Don’t ever go through there.’

Night falls, the portcullis rises in the moonlight, and young Billy starts his first night as a prison guard. But this is no ordinary prison. There are haunted cells that can’t be used, whispers and cries in the night . . . and the dreaded Witch Well. Billy is warned to stay away from the prisoner down in the Witch Well. But who could it be? What prisoner could be so frightening? Billy is about to find out . . .

An unforgettable ghost story from the creator of the Wardstone Chronicles (Spook’s Apprentice) series.

My Review:

I don’t normally review children’s books, preferring YA, NA and adult – but I must admit this one really pulled me in. I wanted something to read to my three young nephews and this traditional style ghost story was just the ticket. I’m not sure how Joseph Delaney did it, but there is just enough scare in this book. Without giving the story away, the ending was a shudder in itself and the imagery of the illustrations, along with the expert turn of phrase, was eerily magical. There aren’t many children’s books on the market that can scare the adult along with the child – but this does just that.

As a writer I think it is commendable to be able to dance that fine line between children and adult horror. More often than not I’m reading books to kids that are quite frankly boring and fail to hold their attention for longer than it takes to plug in the Xbox. But Ghost Prison is a little spine tingling gem that is enough of a scare to keep them concentrating, but not enough to give them nightmares!

I downloaded a kindle galley of this book and, to be honest, the settings and screen wasn’t right for the illustrations – so definitely hard copy would be best to make the most out of the book.

If you have a child around 12 and want to get them into horror books buy Ghost Prison today.  5 out of 5 scary stars.

Buy Ghost Prison