News Round

It’s been a while *sings Stain’d* Damn. Now that song’s stuck in our heads. Anyhoo, we finally have some good news to share. After months of nothing but rejections, (think we’ve broken the world record for this in our 7 year career), our short story, Autumn of Terror, has been accepted for a Mammoth book of Jack the Ripper stories! It will be published in the autumn by Little, Brown, which makes it our biggest publication to date. We didn’t expect to be accepted, because we only found out about the anthology two weeks before the deadline, but Jack the Ripper is our favourite serial killer. In a totally non-creepy way. Our favourite book we own is a casebook with copies of his letters, postcards and the police reports. He was the first serial killer we learned about when we were kids and we’ve never lost our fascination. We watch every documentary filmed about him. Who’d have thought he would help us murder our way into Little, Brown? We should have written about him sooner. One day we WILL go to London and do a Jack the Ripper tour. Would dressing as him be creepy? We could dress as the prostitutes but we tend to trip over long dresses and we lack the cleavage to pull the dresses off. Plus we’re more believable as murderers than prostitutes.

To be honest, we’re convinced the editor is going to email us back and tell us he sent the acceptance by mistake. You know how easy it is to accidentally send a message to the wrong person. There were 34 authors accepted and 100 odd rejected. We’re always on the reject side so when an acceptance happens, we react in the same way as if the Supernatural boys were to ask us out – is this a joke? Seriously, someone’s paying you to do this, right? So far, we haven’t had that email. So now we’re worried that maybe he had 33 stories accepted and needed one more, so picked one at random from the reject pile. Or maybe ours wasn’t quite as bad as some of the others. Or it was filling a 4,000 word slot left open.

We’re the same in our personal lives too. Someone throws a missile from a car at us, or shouts abuse, we accept it’s part of being different. We’re used to it. We expect it and it’s not strange when it happens. We’ll shout stuff back, or kill them in a story. But if someone’s nice to us or compliments us, we don’t know how to handle it. Neen once told us that people in our Zumba class liked us. Our response was: “Why? We don’t speak to them.” And if we’re perfectly honest, we have no idea why our friends want to hang out with us so much. Surely they must be bored of our company by now. Trust issues? Yeah, we have a few 😀

Southcart BooksSouthcart BooksAlso, our books are finally in a bookshop! Southcart Books in Walsall have agreed to stock them and the owner, Scott even made a lovely display of them on a vintage hostess trolley. We would have to sacrifice a small nation to an ancient god to get this kind of display in Waterstones. Though Waterstones, if you’re reading this, we’re not saying we’re against the idea…If you’re ever in Walsall, go check out Scott’s bookshop. It’s beautiful with lots of character and has really interesting books. It’s the type of bookshop all bookshops should aspire to be. If we lived closer, we would never leave it.

We’ve actually been working on old short stories recently, all from 2011. We dread looking at old stories because we’re convinced they’ll be crap and will need a lot of work. There are some stories on our hard drive that we have no idea what they’re about, it’s been that long since we looked at them. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the ones we chose and are now kicking ourselves for leaving them fester for so long. We’ve even been entering them in competitions. One was last submitted 7 years ago!  And it only went to one competition. Another one was submitted eight times and didn’t get anywhere, so it’s no surprise why we left it alone.

At the moment, we’re editing The Devil’s Servants, our novella set during the 1649 Edinburgh witch trials. It’s sort of a sequel to our plague doctor novella, The Malignant Dead, in that some of the characters return, but it’s a stand alone book too. We haven’t touched it since we wrote it in November, because we’d convinced ourselves it was crap. It was really hard to write and quite frankly, we’ve had more enjoyable tooth extractions. But we’d completed all our April deadlines and had nothing else to work on. Actually, it’s not as bad as we remember.

The Malignant Dead has a release date of June and will be the first in a series of historical novellas. They’re completely different to anything we’ve written. In a way, we think they might be our best work, but they’re so bloody hard to write! We’ve always put off writing historical fiction, despite our love of history, because if you get something wrong, people will make sure to tell you about it. We’re so paranoid about this, we even use an online etymology dictionary to make sure that the words we use were around in that time. It’s forced us to be creative with words as so many weren’t invented then. But the swear words were 😀

We’re also appearing at two literary festivals! The Salem literary festival in East Budleigh on Sunday June 21st. Yes, Rosemary Smith invited us back, despite the fact last time we got lost walking a mile up a straight road trying to find Sir Walter Raleigh’s house, only for it to rain when we were a mile from the car, so we arrived at the festival soaking, muddy and smelling of farm animals. And we’ll also be at ChudFest on Wednesday July 8th. Kate McCormick, who writes as Elizabeth Ducie, invited us after meeting us at the Salem literary festival. Yes, she knew about our Raleigh-related disaster and still wants us at the festival. So should some disaster befall us on route to Chudleigh, at least she won’t be surprised.

If you want to keep up with the latest news and releases, sign up to our newsletter. You won’t get spammed. In fact, we use it so infrequently, we never remember how to work the damn site 😀 You’ll find out about new releases before anyone else and sometimes we even give you free stuff. Signing up won’t improve your life in any way, but we will save you when a sharknado happens. (We’ve seen the films and have the book, How to Survive a Sharknado so we are prepared for every unusual eventuality.) We will save our newsletter subscribers first 😉 Everyone grab a chainsaw!

Play Time

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsAs many of you know, we’ve been in a play – Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad by Monstrous Productions. This wasn’t stepping out of our comfort zone, this was being picked up by one one those grabbers in arcades and being dropped into someone’s else’s comfort zone. One, we’ve never acted in anything and two, we’re not great in large groups of people. In fact, it’s only in the last week that we’ve felt able to be more ourselves around people and actually talk to the rest of the cast.

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The marvelous crew. Top – bottom: Craig, Sam, Hitch, Alex, Sarah-Jayne (makeup) Hannah, Callum & Ruby

And we’ve been there since November! Bit late we know. Since we stopped participating in the warm-up games, we felt more comfortable and more part of the group. It sounds a bit backwards, but watching rather than participating makes it easier for us to bond with people because we lose the self-consciousness that participation brings, so we can be more ourselves. Though this kinda sounds stalkerish. *Adopts creepy voices* “we like watching you.” We’re also better when we’re in smaller groups, or talking two-on-one.

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Alex as Desiderata

Wednesday was opening night. Weirdly, we weren’t nervous until about 3 p.m. Then we had to do our breathing exercises until we reached The Gate. Once we were inside The Gate, we were ok. Especially when we went and sat on the stairs by ourselves 😀 We joked on Facebook that we were being our usual anti-social selves, but really we find noise overwhelming so sometimes find small dark, quiet places to retreat to, such as woods, stairwells, morgue fridges… Ruby, who plays the maid Sam, did a fantastic job of making us look scary and keeping us company throughout the play. We had to practise the bows and were given a 15 minute warning. As some people were still having their makeup done, we put our wigs on ourselves. We got lost in all that hair. It took us so long to fight our way free and force the wigs into some kind of submission, we were late to the bowing practice. Curse you, wigs!

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Isabelle and Callum as Dismass and Gammer

Straight after the bows, was the group photo. We were already at the back of the stage when everyone assembled. It wasn’t a deliberate ploy to hide, but when everyone gathered, we could no longer be seen. Which was fine until Craig noticed he couldn’t see us. Goddamn it. Why do people always notice when we’ve gone missing? It seriously hampers our plans and mischief-making. Though we weren’t the only ones hiding, were we, Ellen? 😉

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Director, Amy and assistant director, Ed

Craig tried to persuade us to go down the front. We don’t mind being lost in a crowd in group photos, but there’s no way in hell we will ever stand at the front. Yes we are two of the shortest cast members, but no. Richard (who played various roles) did threaten to throw us over the top, so Cat warned him that we do indeed, bite 😀 People who don’t know us very well, don’t realise how bloody stubborn we can be. We got our own way in the end, as is proved by the group shot at the bottom of this post.

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Lowri and Ben as Magrat and Albert Hurker

As soon as it got to scene 18 and we were waiting in the wings, the nerves hit. Luckily, Caroline, who plays Lilith is in the scene with us and she’s a lot of fun, so she helped distract us, as did Craig, who was operating the curtain in the wing Cat was lurking in. Our hearts were pounding the minute we walked on stage. We were certain the audience would be able to see them trying to break through their bony cages. Fortunately, we didn’t trip and the scene went brilliantly. There was even a startled gasp as Caroline offered the mice to us.

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Caroline and us as Lilith Weatherwax and the Snake Twins

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Zoe and Tony as Nanny Ogg and Jason Ogg

Our next scene, scene 29, could have potentially gone wrong. When Granny Weatherwax (Ellen) throws a mouse behind a curtain, we chase it. In the tech rehearsals, we nearly collided with speakers that tried to deny us entry. Luckily we had enough space and even managed to find the mouse. Each night, the audience seemed to like us scampering after the mouse. For scene 36, we came through the door by the audience. As we were waiting with Richard, who plays a guard in this scene, a member of the audience came out.

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Matthew, Katya and Luke

He looked a little startled to see three cast members lurking. As he trotted down the stairs, Cat called “surprise!” When he returned to the audience, we were loitering by the door on the inside, surprising him again. It’s fun to see how many of the audience notice us standing amongst them. The hardest part about scene 36 (the ball scene) is when Lilith clicks her fingers and we have to freeze. Our eyes burn and it’s extremely difficult not to blink. We failed miserably at this as our eyes were watering and burning throughout the entire scene. But we survived the opening night! Only 4 more runs to go…Witches Abroad

Here’s the review Wales Online wrote about opening night. And here is the one from Mithril Wisdom.

Night 2 started brilliantly – we took Cards Against Humanity backstage. We have the bigger, blacker box with every expansion, including the two new ones. What started out with four players, soon turned into 14. Unfortunately, we only had 20 minutes to play, but it was still fun.

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Antonio and Isabelle as a guard and the princess

We managed to sneak a look at our headshots in the programme before they were whisked away to be sold. We’ve been dreading them, because we normally take hideous photos, but Craig’s worked a miracle and they are actually decent photos. It’s a good job we didn’t spend money on smiley face cover-up stickers. Plus putting stickers over our faces in every programme would’ve been very time-consuming. We may have to hire him for our author events and Calamityville shenanigans.

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Pat as Mrs Pleasant

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Tony and Katya as Jason and his wife

Night 2 went really well. We weren’t as nervous and our hearts didn’t pound when we were on stage, so we consider that a success. We also haven’t face planted yet, though there’s still time. Our former psychologist, Neil came to this performance, so after our character photos, we joined him in the bar. We haven’t seen him since he retired in July, so it was great to catch up.

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Jacky and Ben as the Honorable Douglas Incessant and Lady Incessant

It was only a few years ago that Neil had to fight to get us to go into Starbucks, now because of him, we’re in a play. We don’t have many talents in life, but alongside getting lost, getting locked in places is one of them. We usually get locked in pubs, bars or even bowling alleys with our mate, Andrew, and we’ve been accidentally locked in Pembroke Castle. This time, us and Neil got locked in The Gate. We battled with the locks, rattling the door and flicking up locks on the other door, only for the barmaid to come and press a button beside the door. It immediately opened. It’s not the first time during this play that we’ve embarrassed ourselves with a door.

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Lucy and Lowri as Ella and Magrat

Night 3 was a little different. Or rather, our makeup was a little different. Zoe painted our teeth to look like we had pointy teeth.

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us and our creepy teeth

We loved them. They were suitably creepy. In the other performances, we didn’t open our mouths, which made little sense when one of Nanny Ogg’s lines is: “I’ve never seen teeth like those on anyone before.” Now we could grin menacingly. We made sure to warn Caroline before our scene with her, so we didn’t freak her out when she offered us the mice.

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Fenn as the woodcutter

When word spread about our teeth, other members of the cast wanted to see them. They were impressed and creeped out. Strangely, we found ourselves smiling more at everyone when we knew they found our teeth frightening. Before the show started, we nipped out with Ruby to get food, forgetting we were in full snake makeup. Oddly, we got less weird looks than we do when we go out normally. This says a lot :/ We once again had to fight with our wigs – the fringes were so long that when we put the wigs on, we couldn’t see our faces in the mirror to adjust them. We looked like Cousin It after getting struck by lightning.

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Meg and John as ball guests

Backstage, we were treated to a unique experience – watching Death (Alistair) twerking by his scythe in full costume. It’s not something you see every day and we’re glad we got to witness it. This time whilst we waited outside the theatre doors with Richard before the ball scene, instead of frightening audience members, the three of us practised our serial killer smiles. Despite our snake teeth, Richard won.

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Alistair as Death

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Meg as Red Riding Hood

After the play finished, we met up Neen, and her wife, Zoe in the bar. We overheard a guy saying something about the snake twins and how different they look in real life because they’re Goths. By this point, we were dressed in our usual clothes and had removed all the makeup. Except the teeth. We loved the teeth and refused to wash them off.

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Granny, Nanny and Luke as the wolf

He turned around and saw us sitting at the table behind him. So we flashed our pointy teeth at him. Rather than fleeing the bar in terror, he came over to speak to us. He said he really enjoyed our scenes and found it really creepy when Caroline pretends to feed us the mice. It seems everyone except us finds that scene unnerving. Maybe we’ve been snake owners for too long! He also enjoyed us scampering off after the mouse Ellen throws. He couldn’t believe how synchronised we were.

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Ellen, Lowri and Zoe as Granny Weatherwax, Magrat and Nanny Ogg

Day 4 was going to be a long day. There was a matinee performance for the first time, as well as an evening performance. Between performances, we made a mad dash to our favourite chip shop, Younger’s, which is in Birchgrove. Not exactly near The Gate. We didn’t bother taking off our snake makeup. At first, the boys in the chippie didn’t seem to notice, which left us wondering if we always look this weird. But then one of them asked what the occasion was. When we explained we were in a play and we were the creepy snake twins, his response was: “of course you are.”

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Caroline, Michael and Nick as Lilith, the Duc and Captain de Vere

We started the evening performance tweeting with a member of the audience, which was fun. Rules of Play were celebrating TableTop Day downstairs and it was really tempting to join them, as we were missing out on going to Counters, the board game event our friends run in Ponty. Unfortunately, the game event made things very difficult for us and Richard: when we were waiting to come on for the ball scene, we couldn’t hear a word that was said on stage. The three of us were pressed up against the door, desperately trying to listen for our cue to enter. Witches AbroadLuckily, Tony, who played Jason Ogg, was great at projecting. Usually we hear him clearly, but even he was almost impossible to hear. Thankfully, nobody left the theatre at that point, or they would’ve sent the three of us flying backwards down the stairs, with Richard’s spear tumbling after us and probably taking out someone’s eye. In the play, we can only be defeated by magic and being stamped on, but in real life, a door to the face would have done the trick. The matinee was filmed and will be posted on YouTube. We were nervous when we found out it was going to be filmed and were convinced that would be the moment we fall down the steps with our wigs skidding across the floor. Because this is what happens when we’re being filmed. In normal life, we never fall over, but as soon as the Calamityville Horror cameras start rolling, we turn in to trip hazards. Luckily we didn’t trip because we wouldn’t have been able to synchronise that.

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Dominique as Mrs Gogle, Harry as the Baron and Nanny

And no, we never did get the hang of those damn wigs.

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Ben, Richard and John threatening Granny with a terrible fate

Special thanks to Ruby, for not only persuading us to take part, but also for doing such a good job with our makeup and letting us know when our scenes were coming up. Thanks to Ruby, Zoe, Pat, Caroline and Craig for keeping us amused during rehearsals and throughout the shows. And thanks to Ellen for making us feel welcome and Nick for letting us keep the snakes 🙂 Thanks to Amy for wanting us in the play, Ed for making rehearsals fun, and Hannah for making sure we were ok. Also, big thanks to our mum, Lynette, sister, Sarah, our mates Neen, Zoe, Tom, Amy, Bryn and Jo, our former psychologist, Neil and our zumba instructor, Julia and her two sons who came to see us. We really appreciate the support. Show week has been our favourite week of all. We feel we got to know people a bit better, even if it was a little late.

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Fenn and John leading Terrence the toymaker to the dungeon

Over 700 tickets were sold for Witches Abroad, with the four nights selling out. £3,350 was raised for Alzheimer’s Research, which takes the total amount raised from all the plays to £11,000! Auditions for the next play, Night Watch will take place 11th-14th May (subject to change). Men especially are wanted! Email monstrousproductions2012@gmail.com for an audition pack.

Monstrous Production Facebook page   Twitter

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Meet the monsters

Photos by Craig Harper

Dressing Up

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsLast night we had our very first dress rehearsal for Monstrous Productions’ Witches Abroad in The Gate Arts Centre. We donned our costumes and had to remove our jewellery. We feel naked without our jewellery. Then we utterly failed to put our wigs on. We’ve had short hair since we were 8 and dealing with long wigs was a…challenge. We got completely tangled in them. And that was after we’d removed all our rings. So the make up lady, Sarah-Jayne had to help us. After Isabelle, who plays various roles, had problems too, we created a hashtag – #wigissues which we will no doubt be using a lot. With the long silver wigs and white mascara Ruby (who plays maid Sam and will be doing our make up) lent us, one thing was clear: we have very dark eyebrows. We look like bargain basement Daenerys Stormborns. Might need to use the white mascara on our eyebrows. That’s ok, right? We never wear mascara but we assume it will work on eyebrows.

We were barefoot as we’re meant to be silent. And it worked. We joined the rest of the cast on the stage floor then terrified Harry, who plays the Baron. He hadn’t heard us approach, turned around and there we were, in Snake Twin mode. He jumped 😀 Usually it’s only Caroline (Lillith) we get to frighten so it’s nice to spread the fear around 😀 We’ve bought croc effect nail paint from Barry M so our toe and fingernails will look like scales. We know we’ll be too far away for people to see them, but we’ll know about them.

There’s one problem with us being barefoot – we’re even shorter. In rehearsals when we wear our boots, we’re not a great deal shorter than Caroline. But now we’re barefoot and she’s in heels. We feel we lose part of our creepy factor when we look like Oompa-Loompas that have been denied the sun.

It’s brilliant seeing the play all performed in costume. It’s like we’re watching it for real. For our final scene, we appear through a different entrance, so during the interval, we decided to explore The Gate so we could find our way round from our usual stage entrance to our final one. You know how good we are at getting lost and we don’t want to be wandering the Gate on opening night trying to find the right door. Because you know that will happen. So we scampered off backstage. It’s so much easier to scamper when you’re barefoot. We found the stairs so followed them then found ourselves by the toilets, so thought we’d make use of them. You know what’s like, sometimes you need to go but just can’t be arsed to make the effort, but there they were.

Germophobes might want to skip this paragraph. We scurried in, only to suddenly remember we were still barefoot. In public toilets. Luckily, the floor was dry and clean, but by the time we realised, it was already too late. And there was no way we were heading back upstairs for our boots. All we can say is, thank god we weren’t using the men’s toilets for once! Those who know us well know we have a tendency to use the men’s toilets if the women’s are full or if we fail to find them. Our advice is: always make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear when using public toilets. At least we weren’t barefoot in the toilets at the Smiley Cafe on the weekend. Our skin would had to have been acid dipped.

Craig, who played Mort, was taking photos of everyone, but fortunately, he didn’t get a decent one of us. That’s because 99% of the time, we take terrible photos. We’ve also managed to escape being in the other rehearsal ones 😀 Either that, or Craig’s realised that we take awful photos and has very kindly spared us by not posting them. Thanks Craig, we appreciate it 🙂 We dread to think what our programme photos look like. Perhaps we should borrow the programmes and slap stickers over our pictures. Or better yet, cover them with photos of our snake, Charlie.

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Charlie, ready for his close-up

The show runs Wednesday April 8th – Saturday April 11th with a matinee performance on the Saturday as well as the evening show. So please please please come. Even if it’s just to laugh at us looking like ageing drag queens. It’s a fantastic play and we’re not just saying that because we’re in it. We’ve seen it so many times now and we never get bored of it. Tickets are £8 available here or you can buy paper tickets from us.

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Warlock says “come and see Witches Abroad.”