Latest News

Andrew's horror novella, 'The Bathtub', is now available.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Gianna Bruno

Congratulations to Gianna Bruno, whose ‘Hot Chocolate Kiss’ has been accepted by Eternal Press! I hope Gianna will guest blog at some stage to tell us all about it.

Find out more at:

I really struggle with love scenes, and I must acknowledge Gianna’s help in getting ‘The Shoot’ into a submittable condition before I submitted it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Final Frontier

Guest Blogger: Carole Johnstone

First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to Andrew for inviting me to guest on his blog today, and for giving my novella Frenzy such a glowing review on Sunday's post!

When I was thinking about what to write today I was reminded of a question I was asked recently about why the ocean is so often used as a medium for dark fiction. I answered the question badly. This is what I wanted to say.

From a personal point of view, I've always had a fairly healthy terror of the sea, but I know I'm not alone in that. We have long been obsessed by what we imagine lurks in the deep. Novels like Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Conan Doyle's The Maracot Deep, celebrate lost worlds and civilisations - and discoveries that always come at a price.

We recognise that we can't ever know what alien creatures exist too far beyond our reach or knowledge, and so create legends and monsters that we are better able to understand. To control. Classic tales like Moby Dick, Megalodon, and H.G. Wells', The Sea Raiders, describe a sense of awe usurped; a human need to conquer that is arrogance as much as obsession. But there are a great many more stories - most notably true accounts - that speak of neither wonder nor vanity. Novels like Adrift or Staring Into the Abyss, which describe only our own powerlessness when set against the might of the sea.

As Andrew quite rightly realised, I wanted to convey all of these opinions through the development of Frenzy's characters. All are very different; all exhibit differing responses to their predicament: awe, respect, fear, arrogance, anger and obsession. And these reactions are not static. They change as the story changes - as people always change.

Ultimately there are two stories within Frenzy. On the surface, there are the physical and mental battles to survive an indifferent host and its monsters - lurking among which is a far greater horror. And under the surface, there is the hidden spectre of what the ocean represents. Our own demons, our own fears. An insurmountable sense of what it is to be alone and a recognition of our own insignificance.

Principally I wanted Frenzy to frighten, of course I did. But it was also very much my intention to affect, to move. I wanted anyone picking it up to be invested, excited, saddened, even amused. Because so little in this world is truly black or white.

And that is what the ocean has always been for me. A monster of its own that redeems as often as it takes. A monster that forces introspection, and reminds us that for all our achievements there is still much that we can't ever know or control.

The sea is the last great unknown on this Earth. It is fear and it is wonder. And it is not a place that you are ever likely to bump into me!

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity; and it was not meant that we should voyage far."
The Call of the Cthulhu; H.P. Lovecraft

Frenzy is available from, and electronically from

Find out more about Carole Johnstone at:

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Eight men wake up alone in a life raft, in the middle of the ocean, with no idea how they got there. That’s the premise in Carole Johnstone’s thought-provoking debut novella, Frenzy.

The story is true horror, but anyone looking at the cover and expecting to see the thrust of the story being the characters bloodied and devoured by sharks and other marine nasties is going to be disappointed. Or perhaps pleased, because although big fish add to the effect, this story takes you into the true fears lurking in the recesses of the characters. At one stage I was really inside the mind of the hero, Pete, as he looks down into an almost bottomless depth of water beneath him. I could feel his frustration, surrounded by sea, but unable to drink. In the almost exquisite characterisation, as we see what makes each of the characters tick, and the personal demons driving them.

Johnstone has put together a mishmash of people, cleverly using characters who play off each other to increase the tension. Some get on, some don’t, but all serve their purpose. The story pulls no punches in playing on the character’s relationships. It is very raw and maybe near to the knuckle in places, a feeling helped by the stark writing style and the decent pacing. It had me questioning myself, asking, ‘would I behave like that?’ given the stress of the situation. The author has obviously done her research on the effects of exposure at sea, and the deterioration in mind and spirit comes over excellently.

I have – rightly, I think - enthused over the book; but was there anything that didn’t work for me? Well, I always felt slightly in the dark about the ‘why’ of the men’s captivity – I would have liked to have the hints thrown at me earlier to avoid the nagging feeling of not quite knowing everything I wanted to.

The novel includes a lot of flashbacks. These are notoriously difficult to incorporate into any work, and to a large extent Johnstone skilfully pulls them off. In one or two places, though, I did feel the flashbacks butted in when the now was more important.

My criticisms are only minor nits, though. All in all, this doesn’t read like a first stand-alone release. Frenzy is a mature-looking work from a writer who clearly enjoys the craft and who hits the keyboard with confidence.

Frenzy is available from, and electronically from

Find out more about Carole Johnstone at:

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Today's the Day!

Do you know how sometimes you wait so long for something, that you think the day will never come?

That's how summer has always felt for me. But today, the football season restarts. I'll be giving up a day's writing to travel to the Recreation Ground, to watch (the mighty) Aldershot Town take on Darlington. Read a preview here.