Urban Legends

When the plans for entering a location include Batman/Batgirl costumes, a grappling hook, a kosh and Jelly Babies in case we get hungry, we knew we were in for a fun episode. Episode two, season two of Calamityville Horror was an episode with a difference. Forget the stunning castles, creepy jails and spooky haunted caves. Yesterday was an urban exploration episode. In Pontypridd. The place dubbed one of the worst places to live and is nicknamed ‘Chav Town’, where being mugged for 20p is a regular¬†occurrence. Our guest Rich, recounted his 20p attempted mugging story in full hilarious detail. We started out in the Malster’s Arms, the scene of Ryan and Rich’s drunken youth and also a location we used in one of our novels. The cellar bar is apparently haunted by a maid who hanged herself. Unfortunately we discovered there is no longer public access to the cellar bar. We strongly suspect Ryan and Rich’s drunken youth might have contributed to this ūüėÄ Then we moved on to the location that spawned the wild access ideas dressed as Batman. The abandoned 1880’s theatre above the indoor market.

If you’re imagining a grand Victorian theatre, think again. The outside is a big, ugly concrete block. With no windows. Surrounded by a 12 ft wall. Attempts to squeeze through the padlocked gate failed so we headed into the market hoping to find a disused staircase. No such luck. We’d found photos on an urban exploration forum. Someone had managed to get inside and tantalised us with images of old seating and screens, projection equipment and the derelict beauty of a long forgotten theatre. Inside this hideous concrete slab was a stunning, crumbling timecapsule of Ponty’s history, locked away like a fading film star.

Cat tried to squeeze through the main gates but failed. Lynx tried to slither under another set of gates, but again failed. A couple of passing chavs helpfully told us to try using boltcutters. KNEW we were missing something from our ghost hunting kit. A new plan was needed so we we entered the market, hoping to find a hidden staircase that would lead us to our golden chalice.

We cased the outside, lurking suspiciously by some large metal gates at the back of the theatre. Someone called Rich’s name – an ex colleague of his, Kae. We explained why we were acting like loitering bank robbers and she was really interested in the show, so we invited her to join the episode after she finished work. We then snuck up the fire escape to see if we could slip in to the theatre that way. The stench was gut wrenching. We were in the area with all the bins, including a large vat of chip fat, slowly cooking in the sun. Covering our noses, we fled the scene and headed into an army surplus store, to see if we could gather equipment for our dramatic entry. We pictured ourselves emerging from the store dressed in full camouflage gear with a bag full of weapons, equipment and steel toe cap boots. The owner told us we’d never get permission to get inside the theatre and said our best bet would be to go in ‘covertly.’ According to him, if a window was broken or open, it wouldn’t be classed as breaking and entering if we got inside. They even offered us props to use for filming and said if we were caught by the fire escape, to tell security he sent us round there to take his rubbish to the skips. Think we found ourselves an accomplice.

We went to the pub to eat and plot then returned to the theatre with a renewed determination to gain access to this concrete Tantalus. Rich easily scaled the 12ft wall and disappeared down the other side. And that’s as far as he got. So instead we decided to add some special effects and Ryan filmed us and Rich diving dramatically out the way and hitting the floor as a missile hit the padlocked gate. Then security moved us on, claiming ‘you boys look dodgy.’ Yes, he meant Ryan and Rich, not upstanding citizens such as ourselves. Apparently there was an attempted break in at the theatre the day before and he helpfully informed us there was CCTV everywhere and we should wave at the cameras as we pass. Think he was hinting at something, but we couldn’t figure out what. Maybe he was suggesting we looked so stylish, we should admire ourselves on the monitors, as they would be doing. We were more annoyed that someone may have got in where we failed than we were at being moved on.

So we headed to our next location – a demolished outdoor swimming pool in Ynysangharrad Park. Except the whole of Ponty seemed to be there. We were¬†conspicuously overdressed. There was more flesh on display than at a swimsuit contest, without the toned bodies. Two police officers seemed to follow us around the park. Whether it was the filming equipment that attracted their attention or the lack of nudity on our part, we weren’t sure. We sat near a big hole in the boards surrounding the swimming pool but there were too many people for even our ninja skills. After watching the Ponty natives barbeque themselves, we headed for the River Taff to photograph the graffiti. The most shocking piece we read declared ‘Kieran likes Tesco.’ That must’ve been an awkward moment when his mum found a Club Card in his wallet. And to think, everyone thought he was devoted to ASDA!

After returning to Rich’s to regroup, we met up with Kae to rescue the episode with our last planned location. The demolished shopping precinct. We strolled along the pavement then one by one, slipped through a small gap in the big boards ¬†blocking the area off from the peasants. We disappeared down a staircase in the ground and found ourselves in the basement of a gaming shop. Gingerly treading across the broken phone fronts and soggy packaging, the two of us crawled through a gap in the wall and found ourselves in an underground delivery car park. We explored the darkened openings, the rest of the crew mysteriously vanishing. After five minutes, we heard someone approaching. Wondering if Michael Jackson had risen from the dead with a gang of badass 80’s punks to enlist us in a dance off of Bad, we limbered up. Turned out it was our crew entering through a different way, so ducked into a doorway. When they were close, we jumped out on them. Rich said he knew we were hiding but there was nothing they could do about it. The car park was wonderfully dark and creepy, the smell of damp rank as we investigated the rubble strewn stairways in the shops basements. If ever there was a suitable location for a horror film, this was it.

At one point we heard footsteps above us and hid behind the open doorway into another area, praying we weren’t discovered. None of us wanted to end the day in jail, especially since we’d promised to front up our guests’ bail money should that terrible event occur. We decided not to tell them the money in our wallets could only stretch for a couple of rounds in the pub. That would be bad morale for the crew. All was quiet so we resumed our urban exploration. As we were setting up the camera for our group shot, Lynx heard one of the shutters moving, like someone on the other side had banged in to it. We found our way to a rubble free staircase and emerged above ground, hissing at the burning ball in the sky like the vampires of Gothic horror legend. We scuttled across the vast cement floor of what used to be the precinct to the hole in the boards, slipped through and strolled casually away through the traffic jam. So while we managed to avoid driving through pedestrian zones (mainly ‘cos Rich lives within walking distance of everything), we’ve probably been caught on CCTV loitering with intent outside the theatre and trespassing the demolished shopping precinct. We know how to show our guests a good time!

Saxon the City

We started filming season 2 of Calamityville Horror yesterday. After a five week break between filming, we suspected things wouldn’t run smoothly. We were right. We had a 7:20 start to Oxford, where we were meeting the lovely Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, who’s over from Spain doing a writing course. It was all going so well. The roads were quiet. Too quiet. We were beginning to suspect the zombie apocalypse had happened already but we were enjoying the lack of traffic too much to be unduly concerned. Very nearly got mushed on a roundabout by a BMW but Cat’s quick reactions got Mickey onto the grass verge and we lived to film the episode. Clearly Fate is enjoying our disasters too much to cut our golden threads just yet. We had 4 maps of Oxford telling us how to get to different places, where the car parks were etc. Then we reached Oxford and everything was downhill from there.

Oxford is a series of one way streets that lead to dead ends, most of the car parks marked were private or we couldn’t find our way in. Don’t laugh, this was a serious problem. We ended up circling Oxford several times. Then we committed a terrible breach of the Highway Code. Yep. We drove through another pedestrian zone. Screaming pedestrians dove for safety, shaking their fists and cursing our very names. It was Nottingham all over again. The major meltdown that erupted was caught on camera but by the time we’ve bleeped out all the swear words, there might not be much left to hear ūüėÄ The tour started at 10:20. At 10:15 we found a car park and wept as we paid ¬£8.70 for the privilege of parking there. For that price we expected a personal valet service. No. The sign just warned you about leaving valuables in the car. We got lost trying to find Cinta, who was in the bus station. Right next to our car park. In fact as you climbed the stairs out of the car park, there was the bus station. But let’s never mention that again. We were a bit concerned about leaving Mickey in a place where the sign outside read ‘no drinking, no drugs and no sexual activity.’ It’s a grotty underground car park, not a brothel.

We eventually found Cinta and luckily she knows her way around Oxford and we arrived at the castle safely. It turned out to be Saxon weekend so we watched the combat training and played with a sword on the mound before heading off on a tour. Our tour guide, Duncan, who also goes by the name of Can Gerrett, was really good. At 6’3 he made us look like pixies.

Lynx, Cinta, Duncan (Can Gerrett) & Cat

We were taken up the Saxon tower, where a volunteer was required to go in the stocks. He chose Ryan, much to our delight. Finally that scurvy bilge rat was where he belonged.

Ryan stocks up his criminal ways

Unfortunately we had no rotten food to throw at him but he was left in there for quite a while. We went right to the top of the tower then down into the prison cells, where an identity line up board was set up. The four of us lined up to have our photo taken. Turned out our crime was highway robbery. Ryan’s criminal ways were obviously rubbing off on us. We were allowed to wander so us and Cinta dressed up in prison uniforms while Ryan dressed as a prison guard. As Cat was lining up the self timer, a kid walked past and kicked the tripod. Don’t know if it was deliberate but she glared threateningly at him and shook her fist as his departing back. Then as we were in the shot, he re-appeared and walked right in front of the shot. Had his parents not been there, he would’ve found himself as Oxford prison’s latest inmate. We journeyed into the hospital and were thrilled to discover a padded cell. Naturally we shut ourselves in and did an EVP session.

We headed down to the 900 year old crypt where creepy mannequins awaited. In fact, one of them was holding open his robe and had a¬†mischievous grin on his wrinkled face. He was fully clothed but we strongly suspect he was flashing the two female mannequins sitting in front of him. They didn’t seem that excited by his wares. We listened to an¬†abbreviated storytelling of Beowulf then bought our mug shot as well as ancient shackles and gaoler’s keys in the shop. They’re now hanging up in our summer house. Can Gerrett was pleased we’d filmed the tour for our show and wants us to put the footage on their site. Nice change from some of these places, who act like filming is akin to randomly kicking small children and graffiting their walls. As we walked through Oxford town, an unimaginative teenage girl shouted ‘freaks’ at us. In Italian! (Cinta speaks Italian so was able to translate). This is the first time we’ve been insulted in another language (that we know of) and we were surprisingly delighted by it. Italian, such a sexy language ūüėÄ We think she was so overcome jealousy at our outfits that ‘freaks’ was all she could come up with. We returned to the castle for lunch, after paying ¬£5.20 for an extra 2 hours parking. Ryan got harassed by a wasp then we filmed our debrief. We were about to leave when we were asked if we’d done the outside tour. We hadn’t. We were taken back up the Saxon mound we’d visited earlier. Luckily, Duncan was to be our guide again. When we were up there at the beginning, we ventured down a pitch black staircase to find a well. Without Lynx’s light, we couldn’t see anything. When we went down with the tour, it was lit up. We passed a building where they used to execute people. It’s now a trendy bar called the Living Room. We wanted to drag some peasants off the street to re-create history. We weren’t allowed. We were gutted. We were then taken to the old prison, which was built by the prisoners and is now a hugely expensive hotel. But to the side of the hotel is the original solitary confinement cells. We convinced Can Gerrett to close the door. Not sure the rest of the party were too keen on that as they left as soon as he opened the door. That’s what they get when they gatecrash our show. We stayed to explore. The castle was brilliant, the tour was fantastic and Can Gerrett even let us interview him.

the highway robbers were caught

We got lost leaving Oxford but that worked out better for us as it meant we avoided the toll on the Severn bridge. After the parking charges in Oxford, it was looking likely that had we crossed the bridge, Ryan would’ve been forced to dance for spare change. We ended up behind a Range Rover towing a piece of climbing wall. We’re not joking. It was an overhang piece. He kept veering into the grass verge and we were convinced he’d tip over at any minute. He didn’t. We were a bit gutted. The wall would’ve made a great feature wall in our house. Sadly he went a different way and we didn’t get an unusual souvenir.

Oh and Ryan and Cat suffered sunburn – Ryan on his face, Cat on her chest. Boy, was his face red! (Sorry, couldn’t resist the Simpsons quote) Lynx and Cinta, who were covered up, escaped unharmed.

let’s start a riot

Simply the Guests

We’re skiving again at Ravens Retreat and are instead, visiting not one, but two blogs, hosted by two of our favourite people on Twitter – erotic/romance author Lacey Wolfe and supernatural/erotic author Anya Breton.

First off, let’s head to Lacey’s blog, where we talk about being bitten by the Indie bug and how we got started on this whole fairytale adventure¬†http://www.laceywolfe.com/1/post/2012/07/guest-post-c-l-raven-on-disenchanted-newrelease.html.

Are you back safe from your journey? Good, ‘cos now we’re flying to Indiana to meet Anya, where we confess to making our own burglary tool and committing an act of breaking and entering on our neighbours’ house. All because they asked us to catsit.¬†Three years later, we still haven’t lived it down.¬†http://blog.anyabreton.com/2012/07/trauma-llama-c-l-raven-mind-coffee-cream/

So come and visit us! And while you’re there, check out some of these lovely ladies’ books. They are both excellent writers and we highly recommend them.

Disenchanted

In all the excitement, we’ve forgotten to write a post. Our collection of broken fairytales, is out today! Look at our beautiful cover, painted by the very talented Lizzie Rose.

Once upon a time, in lands far, far away, everyone lived happily ever after. Until now. If you thought you knew the fairytales well, think again. In a modern world without morals, where beauty does not always equal goodness and evil sometimes wins, the heroes of the legends learn the hard way that survival will take more than just a pretty face, and a handsome prince does not mean salvation. Ten broken fairytales that are definitely not for children’s bedtime.

Long Live the Queen – the Queen talks exclusively to C L Raven about her side of the Snow White story and why attempted murder is perfectly justified.

Midnight Kiss – Casey and Alex explore the Sleeping Castle, awakening a nightmare.

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge – Georgie and Jazz have to prove themselves worthy of being in the Jolly Rogers. Jazz has to steal three items from the notorious Judge while Georgie must spend the night in the serial killers’ cottage.

Master of Puppets – Aidan is adopted by Mephistopheles and seeks revenge on his brothers.

Disenchanted – when Ythan is captured by the Snow Queen, Syra embarks on a treacherous quest to rescue him.

Operation: Midnight – Ella is an undercover MI5 agent, recruited to bring down the infamous terrorist, Prince Charming.

Sleeping Beauties – as a child, the Prince was read Sleeping Beauty and fell in love with the princess. When he discovers Snow White in her coffin, his fantasy becomes a disturbing reality.

Girl All the Bad Guys Want – when the Queen orders her execution, Bandit joins forces with seven vampires living in the woods.

Tempting Fate – Gypsy and Harper are abandoned in the woods. But the gingerbread house they find is more dangerous than the creatures in the dark.

Once Upon a Nightmare – the woods surrounding Red’s cottage aren’t plagued by a villager-eating wolf, but by things more twisted than any imagination.

It’s available on Amazon¬†http://www.amazon.co.uk/Disenchanted-ebook/dp/B008KRMNX2/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1342208633&sr=1-1-catcorr, Amazon.com¬†http://www.amazon.com/Disenchanted-ebook/dp/B008KRMNX2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1342208685&sr=1-1&keywords=disenchanted+by+C+L+Raven¬†and Smashwords¬†https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/204425

If that’s not enough to tempt you, watch the launch here –¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-80E0blVUc¬†and the trailer here –¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeS_ziDTMlA¬†Both were done by the awesome Ryan Ashcroft.

And if you can’t get enough of clicking links, we’re on L K Jay’s blog today! Hence the rather crappy one here. The better version’s on her blog¬†http://lkjaywriter.blogspot.co.uk

Scott the Zombie

I’m baaaack! And better than ever! Hello tasty brains, have you missed me? You can blame my Necromancers for my absence. They’ve been hogging this thing like it’s THEIR blog. After my last blog post, I tried to keep hold of the laptop so they couldn’t usurp me again. But for tiny pixies, they’re fiendishly strong. Like, unnaturally strong. God knows what’s in that Red Bull they drink. Sadly, I not only lost that battle, I also lost my arm in the struggle.

Anyhoo, I’ve got some FANTASTIC news! My Necromancers swore on their lives that MY novel will be the next one to be released. Mine. Not the others, mine. Frankly, I don’t know why mine wasn’t chosen as their debut. I can only think that they’re so sick of Soul Asylum, they just want it out there and forgotten about, whereas by holding mine back, they get to spend more time on it. I am SO excited. In fact, I don’t know what I’m more excited about – that or the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m going to feast like a King!

This morning, I overheard my Necromancers talking to their mum about releasing another collection of short stories. Field of Screams was mentioned (it won Writing Magazine’s ghost story competition in 2010) and as much as I like Ceri & Connor, let’s face it, they lack my star potential. I mean, do they have a blog, FB page & Twitter account? No. Then my Necromancers suggested Parliament of Monsters – my short story – would complement it. I think they meant it the other way round. Their mum thought it was a brilliant idea, so it’s been decided that my short story will be released this year. They told me not to tell anyone, but you can keep a secret, can’t you? If I don’t tell someone, I’ll burst. And nobody likes coming home to find zombie entrails soaking into the living room carpet.

They did originally think of releasing it in October, ready for Halloween. But that’s when they’re releasing Soul Asylum and they don’t want my launch overshadowing the launch of Soul Asylum, because they know mine’s the one everyone’s looking forwards to. That’s not exactly what they said, but I got the gist of it. Plus they’re very hard to understand. Have you noticed how much they mumble? So then they thought they could release it on the day of the Zombie Apocalypse. Like I wasn’t excited enough already!

I guess this means I’ll have to keep them alive during ZomPoc so they can live long enough to release my novel. There goes my plan of swiping their brains and blaming in on the rampaging horde. So remember, read a lot, keep active and try to improve your mental prowess so by the time the Zombie Apocalypse arrives, you’ll be a whole lot tastier ūüėČ

Scott x

Printing Press

We’d like to be bringing you news of another ghost hunting adventure, but season one of Calamityville Horror has ended and we’ve been forced to take a break. So instead of going ghost hunting on the weekend, we went to a hen party. We were more scared of that than being locked in the punishment cell with an executed prisoner. Luckily we passed our challenges and cheated our way out of doing any forfeits.

Anyhoo, for lack of interesting news, we’re bringing you…news. We’ve decided we’re definitely bringing Soul Asylum out in paperback. For years we’ve dreamed of holding our own novel and let’s face it, this is the only way that’s going to happen. We’re not going to get picked up by the Big Six, we’ll never make it onto the bestsellers lists and we’ll never break into the top 10,ooo ranking on Amazon. But by going solo, we WILL hold our own novel. Hold, stroke and if the mood takes us, kiss it.

We’ve been reading a great blog post by Sean & Dan Campbell, the guys behind 90 Days Novel¬†http://www.90daysnovel.com/2012/07/pod-v-offset-createspace-v-lightning.html¬†and they’ve convinced us to go with CreateSpace. At the moment we’re stumbling blindly through the labyrinth of information and trying not to fall into an oubilette of despair, but we’ve got until October to figure this stuff out. We’re not going with CreateSpace’s cover packages, not when we’ve spent so long designing our own. Yes, there’s that control freak streak again, but this is our novel and we want it done our way. And we don’t want to have to pay for it. One, because we’re skinflints and two, we won’t make the money back. We probably won’t even make back the money we’ve spent on editing, so we want to keep this as affordable as possible. ¬†So if you follow us on Twitter, you can expect a whole load of tweets ranting about our inability to work with Photoshop – much like the rants we posted about GIMP. There will probably be several meltdowns, threats of murderous rampages and us rocking in the corner, muttering about typesetting.

But like with our ghost hunting, the journey, however fraught, is sometimes more interesting than the destination.