130th Anniversary of the Jack the Ripper Murders

130 years ago today, a killer calling himself Jack the Ripper was hunting women in London. Take a moment to think about how frightening it would have been to be a woman in that era, worse one who had to sell her body to strangers to make ends meet and didn’t have the luxury to say no when approached by a man with shark-like eyes and blood under his fingernails.

The Jack the Ripper murders are infamous, not just because they remain unsolved, but because of their brutality. When I was a little girl, I went on a school trip to Madame Tussaud’s and found a striking Jack the Ripper diorama in its Chamber of Horrors. The image of a man in a top hat and cape, clutching a medicine bag – quite literally dressed to kill – still haunts me. I was obsessed from then on.

Looking at the research, other attacks could be attributed to Jack. Joining the canonical five Ripper murder victims, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly could be Annie Millwood who survived a man repeatedly stabbing her abdomen. There was also the grisly Thames Torso case, which could have been an earlier victim whose identity Jack tried to hide through dismembering – Didn’t Hannibal Lecter tell Agent Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, killers covert first what they know? Perhaps the Thames Torso belonged to someone who knew the real identity of Jack, so could be traced back to him?

As most readers who find their way to my blog and books will know, I have a dark mind, so it’s not surprising that this case has always fascinated me. There have been so many theories and suspects, for a full list, click here… My money is on James Kelly. He has the MO, the timing both in the UK and the USA when murders were happening, and could have been related to Mary Kelly, the last victim in London who let her assailant into her flat. Looking at the list, who is your prime suspect?

I’ve written two Jack stories. Jack’s Month about a possessed calendar drawing in victims on the stroke of twelve on New Year’s Eve, included in Year’s End, and the Gothic, erotic Madam X in The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper that gave the killings a twist of the knife with Jack’s murders explained in an entirely new light. With both stories being published, one could argue that Jack has strangely brought me luck.

I’ve walked the streets of Whitechapel and seen how the urban geography has evolved over the crime scenes. Their surroundings may have forgotten the victims, but the media and the people will not.

The hard truth is – it’s doubtful we’ll ever know the identity of Jack the Ripper…although with DNA ancestral tests being all the rage now, all it would take is a quick swab of some evidence and a search of a few databases – what would you do if you discovered you were related to Jack?

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5 sayings that help me as a writer

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my older brother about wanting to be fifteen years younger but still retain the knowledge and experience I have today. He, quite wisely pointed out that this was a concept always in flux, and that I’ll probably think the same thing in fifteen years time. I hate it when my big brother is right!

That said, I’ve come across 5 sayings that have really helped me as a writer and a person, and given me wisdom and motivation when I’ve needed it. So, no matter what your age now, I pass them onto you to help and guard you against life in all it’s crap and glory.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
This is an essential lesson to all writers. It’s little steps towards the whole. There is so much more involved in creating a book than just writing. There’s plot, structure, research, editing, drafting, character arcs and so much more, and if you try to think about all these things when you write, you’ll go mad. The journey will seem too long, and you’ll give up. But, if you take one aspect at a time, and make small steps, you can get to your destination. It won’t be easy, but nothing good in life ever is!

You shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm
I’m a closet people-pleaser. I really want to make the people around me happy, and I’ve been a sweet, funny girl for most of my life who has put others above herself, most of the time to the detriment of my own sense of self. Then I stopped. Not cold turkey, I still help other writers, I run a free writers’ group for adults and workshops for teen writers, but I’ve stopped being a push-over. I no longer write stories for publishers for free, and I ensure that I don’t lose personal time that could be allocated to my manuscripts. It’s hard at times, it goes against my nature, but sacrificing your own dreams for others may be noble but is incredibly stupid. There’s no medal in it for you and, I’ve learnt the hard way that there are some people out there that will gladly take all you have to give without giving back.

If you’re not first, you’re last
Okay, so this is from the Will Ferrell film, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and on the face of it looks crazy, but when you boil it down, it really is excellent advice. In a world where kids get participation trophies, and everyone is praised for trying, we’ve lost sight of the win. That’s right. I said it. The win. Writers still have to compete for publishing contracts, prizes and opportunities. The feeling you get when you have a publisher say ‘yes’ to you is fantastic, and it is because you worked your ass off for it. You put the time in, you paid your dues, and you deserve the win! Writers who stumble into big publishing deals are few and far between, the majority have a book with their name on because they pushed themselves and crossed the finish line.

This too shall pass
I’m not religious, but this saying from The Bible has stood the test of time. As a writer, you get a lot of rejection, and as much as you try to take it on the chin, at some point it will get you down, it has to, you’re only human. But just remember that the dark sticky feeling that is clinging to your soul right now, won’t be there forever, in fact, it might be gone by lunchtime (if you’re lucky) There’s a story about people who survived their suicide attempt of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Once airborne they quickly realised that all those problems in their lives were actually pretty easy to fix or get past, apart from one… that they jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Creative people suffer a lot, we feel too much and think too hard, and this is a dismal combination in terms of happiness. I’m not saying you need to ball up your emotions and push them away, in fact, you should feel them, accept them and know…this too shall pass.

A year from now, you’ll wish you started today
This is the saying that had me write a 90K novel in thirty days (the first draft, I’m in the process of editing) It’s far too easy to put your writing off, to daydream about how great it would be to be an author. To have a book top the charts and make enough money so you can write full time. But if all you do is that, you’ll never even get close to your dreams. You need to think about future-you and the life you want to live. Writing takes the time, energy and a passion that few possess, but do you know what? I think you have what it takes, so what do you say? Want to start writing today?

Did you enjoy this blog? Then you’ll probably enjoy my books too. My two YA series, Battle of the Undead and The Twisted and the Brave are available on Amazon.

The Assassin of Oz – The Twisted and The Brave #2 – Out Now!

The Assassin of Oz – The Twisted and The Brave #2

The Assassin of Oz – The Twisted and The Brave #2

Monsters and madmen and murderers, oh my!

A club of serial killers calling themselves Oz is stalking the streets of London. Alone and desperate, 17-year-old Halo finds herself drawn into the middle of their blood-soaked storm of murders. Struggling to survive, Halo must contend with both known and unknown killers, put her trust in the most unlikely of devilish places, and play by a new set of rules if she is to become the Assassin of Oz.

Gavin, a young US homicide detective, has moved to the UK to catch the serial killers, Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow, and The Munchkin Masher but soon finds himself two steps behind the headline-grabbing murderers and one step behind vigilante group, Wonderland.

Stalked by death and danger, both Halo and Gavin are going to need all the brains, heart, and courage they can muster to take down Oz.

You can buy it here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia 

Direct at the Publishers

You can see it on GoodReads here…

Excerpt:

Cameras flash, journalists whisper, and the television crews quickly check their equipment. An odd hush then smothers the noise as a tall man wearing a dark suit and a graying white shirt steps onto the podium before them. His head hangs down somewhere between guilt and shame.

He scans the crowd and finds a mix of the usual faces, who will inevitably ask the usual questions, make the usual accusations, and of course never agree with his decision—whichever one he has chosen. He will give them the usual responses, the usual arguments, and defend himself, in the same manner he usually does. Yet this self-fulfilling prophecy gives him no comfort or confidence. What he is about to do will affect not just his life, but the lives of the whole country for which he is responsible. Even though he finds it easy to foresee his next few minutes with uncanny accuracy, his foresight cannot predict the years that will follow this speech.

He watches for the signal from his press officer and then drops his stare to the blank pages in front of him, surrendering his auto cue. With a sigh, he takes off his glasses and slowly opens his dry, pursed lips to speak.

“I cannot express to you the great sadness that grips my heart this day. As a man who has dealt with war, famine, and crises born of nature’s wrath, I can honestly say I have always tried to see the good in my fellow man, but today I … I stand in front of you in doubt. I have tried to pinpoint one single event that has brought me here. One particular crime that has been the catalyst to today, but alas there have been so many, they are now a bloody blur to me, leaving stains of faceless ambivalence.”

A murmur ripples through the crowd and the photographers steal the opportunity to take a few more choice shots for the morning news. The man squints at the barrage of flashes, shakes his head, and grips the podium tighter.

“It has been estimated there are now at least five murders occurring every week in London alone, with the bulk of these murders being attributed to at least seven different serial killers that are freely roaming our streets. We have drafted in police from across the globe to combat this alarming crime spree, but alas, I feel, as your Prime Minister, that this is still not enough to keep the innocent people of this country safe. And so it is with a reluctant and heavy heart that, as of this day, I reinstate the death penalty to be carried out no less than one week after a conviction of murder has been secured for anyone who is over the age of sixteen. From this day, if you willingly, and knowingly, take an innocent life for pleasure or gain, you will forfeit your own.”

The murmur rises to a roar as some reporters cheer, and others cry out angry questions.

“Prime Minister, how can this be justified? There has been no vote in Parliament?” one reporter yells.

“Why haven’t these killers been stopped by now?” asks another.

“Sixteen is too young!” cries another.

“What about the ongoing cases? Will this sentence be given to those already on trial?”

He recognizes the last voice, Levi Goodman, a sleazy reporter from a popular TV channel who’s been drumming up panic since the UK descended into this blood-soaked mess.

“Yes, this will apply to any conviction from today onwards,” he replies, his eyes downcast.

“How can that be justified?” Levi asks.

The rest of the reporters burst into a spasm of questions, comments, and more outrage.

The Prime Minister looks through the throng of animated journalists. He moves to step down, but pauses and then turns back to them and says, “May God have mercy on our souls, and may The Devil have room enough in Hell. There will be no answers to your questions. There were none to mine.”

Women in Horror Annual 2 out now!

Women in Horror Annual 2 is out now and includes one of my short stories, Backseat Driver.

The Women in Horror Annual 2 is the second volume of an anthology of horror fiction and nonfiction written by women. WHA promotes and celebrates female voices in horror, and the stories and papers contained within represent a diverse group of writers, each with their own unique vision. Ranging from supernatural tales of horror to quotidian terror, and touching on themes of empowerment, insanity, and freedom, the stories herein run the gamut from melancholic to darkly humorous. As was the case with the first volume, WHA 2 is further proof that horror has something for everyone.

 

Contents:

Rumspringa by Melissa Burkley

The Coffin Builder by Caroline Katz

Eyes like Kali by Tanya Smith

Behind the Music by Madison McSweeney

The Girl in the Stairwell by Victoria Dalpe

Backseat Driver by Nicky Peacock

Taphonomy by Melanie Wanghorne

Red by Kathleen Danielson

Mother Love by Alyson Rhodes

Revenge of the Combine Killer by Lesa Pescaris Smith

We’re the Weirdos, Female Empowerment in the Craft by Horrorella

All Our Rooms are Ensuite by Tracy Fahey

Inside Out by Ruschelle Dillon

The Fiddlers by Pam Farley

 

Buy the book in the UK on Amazon here…

 

My American Nightmare – Women in Horror Anthology

Coming Soon! 

My American Nightmare – Women in Horror Anthology

Includes my short story She Looked Like Krystal Sparkle. A modern, twisted take on the fairy tale The Enchanted Canary.

For Fans of American Horror Story, Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Danielle Vega

America, land of the free, land of the brave, land of nightmares? A group of female authors come together in this collection of creepy tales and psychological horror stories to bring you chills and disturbing images that won’t leave you long after you are done reading. From zombies to rural small towns, to the foggy New England to the glamour of Hollywood, each story focuses on a diverse aspect of living in America and the horror found in bullying, being the “new girl,” starting your first job, and navigating the murky waters of adolescence and all the terrifying changes that come with it. Bold and haunting, My American Nightmare encompasses daring stories from new voices in the horror genre. This collection will unsettle your nerves and linger in your mind, demonstrating that women can show you a nuance of horror that isn’t always evident from the male perspective.

Author Line -up

Angela Sylvaine – Ballad of Sorrow and Lila

Amelia Kibbie –  We Kill The Skullman

A. Goli – Mr. Buttons’ Tea Party

Jamie Kahn –  The Poison & The Ivy

Rachel Bolton-  The Girl & The Yellow Wallpaper

Hillary Lyon – Boys’ Night Out

Nicky Peacock –  She Looked Like Krystal Sparkle

Spinster Eskie – Angie’s Change

Sheri Kreitner – The Pickman Sisters of Salem

Sierra Ryan –  Volunteer

Kara Nelson – The Eye

E.F. Schraeder – Night Moves

Andrea Teare – 39 Days

Heather Miller – The Stars

Marnie Azzarelli – When Evacuating Pennsylvania

Erica Ruhe – Perle

Phoebe Jane Johnson – Ruby

Azzurra Nox – Whatever Happened to Peyton Rose?

Kara Dennison – Billson

Released Oct 31st 2017

For further information:

The Blog Tour

Good Reads

Amazon

Video Trailer 

 

Flash Fiction Day 2017 @nationalflashfd

A little bit of Nicky style horror flash fiction to celebrate Flash Fiction Day 2017

 

Together

By Nicky Peacock

You run fast, but they are faster. Thump. As your body hits the ground, a painful tremor rattles your bones. Sharp nails drag across your chest. Blood blooms up like a salty, scarlet flower. A dirty hand rapidly thrusts between your ribs. Crack. The creature tugs at your heart, pulling part of it free. Rip. Quickly, it crams the organ into its foul smelling, yawning mouth and mashes it between barbed teeth. Munch. As it swallows, its dead eyes spark with life. Its expression morphs from hunger to affection. As the others mindlessly continue to split and steal your twitching limbs, it looks at you with the purest love you’ve ever known; will ever know. Tears squeeze themselves from its glazed, ebony, oozing eyes. Drip. It gently strokes your gore covered hair from you face.  Caress. Your heart meat seems to have slid into the chasm-like crack that had crept deep into its soul. Love. And just before a bright, white light flutters down to swallow your soul whole, the creature grips onto your hand, determined to go with you and never let you go again.

If you like this, you might like my published books and short stories…

Amazon UK

Amazon US 

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.

 

 

 

 

3 things I love about Christmas, and 3 things I hate

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1) I love the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. It’s a great excuse to get people together and have a good catch-up. We all live very hectic lives, and this time of year we can take time out and have a festive cuppa and a good old chat.

 
2) Presents. I’ll say it again, presents! I know it’s a bit capitalist/ commercial, but I’m not above saying that I love gifts and also the chance to buy beautiful things for the important people in my life. I’m a bit of a shopaholic, and I take every gift as a challenge to buy something that I think that person will love, something that shows them that I listen to them and know them.

 
3) The promise of a new year. Christmas heralds a new year and a chance to feel like anything is possible. It wasn’t that long ago that such a time started my writing journey, got me published and saw me start a writers’ group that has helped others along the way too.

1) But I do hate Turkey, There, I said it. It’s dry and has a strong taste to it, but this time of year I’m made to eat it. I can usually choke it down if I smother it in oodles of cranberry sauce, but still, I wish a new meat would emerge as a traditional Christmas meal. Although a few years back my mum branched out for Christmas and bought a bird within a bird, within a bird which turned out to be a culinary sin against nature, so maybe I should be grateful for the white meat devil I know!

2) I can’t stand Christmas decorations. I know, bar-humbug! But they smell funny; they make rooms seem claustrophobic and manic (if not done correctly, and mostly they are not) Competing with neighbours as to who can have the most flashing lights dripping off your house that waste electricity and distract drivers is just crazy. Then add in the cost and time for putting all those tinsel-encrusted decorations up and taking them down… it’s exhausting. Now, I’m not against everything; I love a bit of bunting just as much as the next girl, but a little moderation can go a long way.

3) Christmas cards. I really hate being told what to do, and for years my family forced me to write Christmas cards. What a waste of time, paper, money and thought. I’d much rather see that person and buy theeventing_and_dog_fall_photos_118m a drink and have a proper chat than give them a card of one of four designs I bought in last year’s sale with a scrawled signature in. Yes, as an author I’m still buzzed when I get to sign a book, but having to write fifty cards at once is just wrist numbingly wrong. I always appreciate when someone gives me a card, and I respect other people’s belief in them, but instead of just a hurried pre-bought Christmas message, why not use them to invite that person round for some mulled wine or, if they are too far away, set up a Skype call.

And for no real reason, other than it’s Christmas, here’s a cute dog dressed as Santa!

Merry Christmas to all my readers, and to all a good blog. May your turkey be moist and everyone you love be near enough to hug. Nicx

A Tourist’s Halloween Guide to Bad Blood

g1510984England has a rich heritage and, especially in London, you’ll find it difficult to spit and not hit something centuries years old – BTW, you might get arrested for that, so do check around before letting rip with the salvia!

London is a busy city where there are too many people and far too many construction sites. Our Tube (Subway) is unnaturally warm, and our roads are naturally congested. But none of this matters in my YA horror novel, Bad Blood. It’s hard to care about temperature and traffic when you’re hip deep in snarling smelly zombies.

Bad Blood is told first person from a vampire’s point of view. Britannia is the very essence of Britain; she has protected it many times in the past, and now finds herself taking on that role again to save survivors of a fast-paced zombie outbreak that hits the UK. The first book happens mainly in London – so let’s take a tour of some Bad Blood hot spots:

The Statue of George IV, Trafalgar Square: erected in 1843, this bronze statue of King George IV astride his faithful steed looks out over the world famous Trafalgar Square. Used as higher ground by Britannia when she is sniffing out un-infected humans to feed on, this statue gives her the space and time she needs to locate her next meal.

The Natural History Museum: A beautiful, elaborately designed building established in 1881; filled with knowledge, dioramas and now zombies. Britannia has an epic struggle on her hands here, and not just with the hungry undead hordes that were given free admission!

Madame Tussauds: Originally set up by wax sculptor Marie Tussauds in 1884, there is more blank-eyed scary looking celebrities here than on any red carpet event. But Bad Blood takes you deeper into the bowels of this tourist attraction, delivering you a fast-paced confrontation in the Chambers of Horrors.

Double Decker Red Buses: The Red Double Decker bus is an iconic symbol of London and is used by the vampires and the human survivors to flee the city and also to indulge the vampire’s competitor natures!

Now you know the stops, why not jump onto the Bad Blood bus and let it take you sight-seeing through the zombie ravaged streets of London; the price of admission? Well, Britannia only asks for your blood…

Evernight Teen   Amazon US     Amazon UK   Barnes & Noble   Nook    Amazon Canada   Amazon Australia 

Doing the zombie shuffle – Zombies in YA literature

img_0443_v2I find zombies scary – there I admit it. I always have done. And I can tell you why; we are just one mad scientist away from zombies becoming real. Zombies worry me, and movies aside, they are certainly not new to literature.

I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at school. It’s only when you get into the nitty gritty of this book you realise it was one of the first ever zombie novels. The creature, albeit more sentient than your average ‘braaaains’ screeching shuffler, is a re-animated corpse. Considered a ‘flawed creation’ by Dr Frankenstein, the creature has to contend with some serious abandonment issues, loneliness (after all zombies are pack creatures) and some rather vengeful thoughts. All in all, the zombie in question doesn’t act much like the zombies we’re use to today.

Moving quickly through the years to Carrie Ryan’s Forrest of Hands & Teeth we find Mary, the protagonist, struggling to free herself from a predictable YA love triangle while avoiding the ‘Unconsercrated’. The name of the zombies in itself echoes the book’s theme of religion; but apart from that, they seem to lumber around the forest being said hands and teeth. The zombies provide only one author objective: they are the threat that seeks to harm the main characters. The only zombie character that comes to ‘life’ is the fast and slightly vengeful, Gabrielle – who seems to retain some of her former personality and is hell-bent on killing Mary for allowing her to die.

Darren Shan’s Zom B uses zombies to unite its characters. One of the themes of this book is racism and yob-like behaviour. Although by its title, it’s a zombie book, the shambling flesh-munching creatures serve as danger and a catalyst for character development. They unite the survivors – regardless of their misguided beliefs.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion did something extraordinary with zombies – he made them the romantic lead. The book is written the first person from R’s point of view. It was a bold move that paid off and put zombies in a different light altogether. After that, Lisa Habel’s Dearly Departed also took zombies firmly into the romance genre.

Now it would seem that zombies are not just evolving but contorting into a new type of ‘monster’. Maybe it would be more accurate to say they are going back to their gothic character-driven roots. Who’s to say that if Dr Frankenstein had given his monster a bride that it would have gone very differently for him, and his loved ones.

As a YA urban fantasy writer, I love zombies, and am, to a degree, guilty myself of simply inserting them into my story as a wall of rotting flesh that relentlessly rolls towards my heroes – I did, though, introduce a new dynamic in my series, Battle of the Undead. It’s vampires VS zombies. So what happens when a vampire becomes infected? A Vambie or a Zompire? Find out now with the first in the series, Bad Blood:

Evernight Teen   Amazon US     Amazon UK   Barnes & Noble   Nook    Amazon Canada   Amazon Australia