The Devil’s Servants cover reveal

The Devil's Servants C L Raven

Here it is – the cover for our next release, The Devil’s Servants. Unfortunately, a lot of events conspired against Team Rose Raven and River Rose sadly couldn’t do this cover. But we’re very fortunate to have another talented friend – David V.G. Davies, better known as From The Shadows indie film maker, horror prop maker, our fellow con buddy and all-round awesome guy. So check out his website and buy some cool models. Here are links where you can stalk him: Facebook  Twitter Instagram.

pre-order The Devil’s Servants UK US. Release date will be 1st July at Swansea Horror Con.

  1. The year Edinburgh burned.

Scotland was cursed by witches and in 1649, the witch panic was at its peak. No-one was safe from the executioner’s flames.

Below the imposing behemoth of Edinburgh castle, nineteen year old Nessie Macleod is forced to watch her mother, Isabelle, burn to death for witchcraft. Her mother’s crime stains her more than the ashes that scatter across the Esplanade. Shunned by Edinburgh’s townsfolk, she’s also hounded by the witch pricker, John Brodie. Brodie killed her mother and now he’s coming for her.

The daughter of a witch is always a witch.

When old Annie Dickson is accused of cursing the flescher’s pigs through witchcraft, she suffers for days at Brodie’s hands before betraying three women and starting a witch hunt that sees one woman killed and another executed before the baying town.

Nessie is lured to Greyfriars Kirkyard, where she’s haunted by the ghosts of the women burned for witchcraft. They want revenge on Brodie and his men. Nessie learns her grandmother was executed during the North Berwick witch trials in 1597 for conspiring to kill King James VI. She left behind everything Nessie needs to stop Brodie and lay the witches’ ghosts to rest. But using objects to harm people is witchcraft and there’s only one penalty the courts will impose:

Death.

“Never wish for the flames.”

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Southcart BooksEvery year, we turn Valentine’s Day red. With blood. Last year, we released all three anti Valentine’s trilogies in print, ending our opportunity to ruin the day. We were sad. Who doesn’t love marching up to the most romantic day of the year, ripping out its heart and hoisting it aloft like a trophy? Then Scott Carter, who owns Southcart Books  in Walsall with his wife, Amy, decided to host the Valentine’s Day Massacre and asked if we’d like to read. Does Freddy Krueger love bedtime? We were glad to celebrate Valentine’s in a horror-related way. Otherwise we might end up sneaking into supermarkets and replacing roses with venus flytraps and giving teddies real hearts to hold. Reading at Southcart Books would not see us having to explain our actions in court.

Southcart Books

authors’ books

Surprisingly for us, we didn’t get lost. The journey was easy and uneventful. Well, we drove into a pedestrian zone, but everyone’s come to expect that from us, seeing as we’ve now done it four times. But we soon realised our error when we saw a paved dead end and Primark at the end. Please England, put bollards up. It takes all our self-control not to Hulk out on people on a daily basis, we can’t be expected to control ourselves around pedestrian zones too. We’re not superheroes. We hastily reversed from the pedestrian zone and found a car park easily. Only to then walk past a closer car park that was 50p cheaper. We’re still annoyed.

Southcart Books

Adam, Amy and Scott

Southcart Books

Southcart BooksSouthcart Books is an awesome independent book shop, filled with thousands of books. It was hard not to buy them all. But we were good. We only bought three. In true us form, our shyness and social awkwardness kicked in and we spent some time hiding in the storeroom. This was a technique we perfected in childhood and even though we’ll be 33 on Wednesday, it is still serving us well. We eventually emerged and lurked at the Supernatural/Occult section. We’re good at lurking. You could even say we’re natural at it. We have the awkward body language and shifty eye movements down perfectly. Even though we’ve made huge progress with the social anxiety, the shyness is innate and will never be defeated. So in social events, we will always be the people in the corner. We’ll never approach anyone. Even if it’s someone we know. Hell, we don’t even send friendship requests on Facebook. ‘Mingle’ is one of those words that incites the same panic as ‘flying spider’, ‘rabid clown’ and ‘inquisitor’s chair.’

Adam Millard

Adam Millard

The event was hosted by Adam Millard, who was hilarious and the perfect choice to host it. We loved his stories about stalking and robots. They appealed to our sense of humour. They were absolutely fantastic and we wanted him to read for longer! We’re glad we were on before him – had we been reading after him, we might have locked ourselves in the storeroom and refused to come out. We bought two of his books afterwards and can’t wait to read them. We met at Bristol Horror Con in October but didn’t get a chance to buy his work then.

First up was Kerry Hadley, reading from her book The Black Country, about a separating couple who accidentally run someone over, but when they return to look for him, he’s nowhere to be found. That act then binds them together. She did a great job.

Kerry Hadley

Kerry Hadley

Southcart Books

Photo by Craig Beas

Then it was us. Everyone else was so confident and seemed really comfortable doing the reading. Natural, like they’d been doing it for years. There was us, hiding in the storeroom beforehand! And we have been doing readings for a few years! We read from Romance is Dead, our aforementioned horror comedy anti-Valentine’s trilogies. We read a short extract from all 10 stories. By ‘short extract’, each one was about 90 seconds. We were paranoid if we read longer than that for each story that people might get bored and leave! If anyone’s going to leave, we’d rather it was because they were frightened of our twisted minds, not because of boredom. Yes, we filmed our reading, complete with nerves and cock-ups. We only picked the extracts last week and the lack of preparation shows.

Southcart Books

Photo by Craig Beas

Jessica Law

Jessica Law

Next it was Jessica Law, who sang three songs whilst playing the ukele and told funny anecdotes about her relationships, most notably featuring biscuits. She sang about an impolite housemate and a love song between Jekyll and Hyde. She also makes octokitties (kittens with tentacles) and has written a gothic novel. It was refreshing to hear about someone else who has disastrous social encounters, though she managed to make hers sound sweet and funny. Ours are just embarrassing.

Ash Hartwell

Ash Hartwell

Following her was Ash Hartwell, who read a story about a murderous snowman who was obsessed with a female ghost hunter. She can’t understand why there are puddles in her house until she sees him watching her. Always knew snowmen were creepy.

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt read a brilliantly funny story about revenge. An old womanshows up at her meeting to find all the others dead – poisoned by cake. As she examines the bodies, her sister walks in and reveals a terrible secret. It was one of our favourite stories of the day.

Jon Hartless

Jon Hartless

Following him was Jon Hartless, who writes under many pseudonyms, including Ora Le Brocq. He read a funny story written under his paranormal romance pseudonym, about a fairy who was meant to convert a human but ends up falling for him.

Ken Preston

Ken Preston

Then it was Ken Preston, who read two stories. One was from his Joe Coffin series about gangsters and vampires and the other was about two friends on a double date night with their girlfriends. One of the girls challenges the driver to perform dangerous driving while blindfolded, which later destroys the friendships and many years later, has serious consequences for another driver.

Daniel Oram

Daniel Oram

And finally it was Daniel Oram, who read a letter from a vampire, complete with bloody fingerprints, and the opening of his novel about a goth girl who turns into a werewolf.

It was a fantastic event, which proved really popular. All the authors read really well and were very entertaining. Southcart Books host many author events, so if you’re ever around, they’re well worth visiting, as is the shop. It’s great that they really care about the authors as well as books and are happy to stock local and unknown authors who normally wouldn’t get their work into bookshops. We had to resist from spending all our money. There were some beautiful editions that we were tempted by, even though we already own those books. It’s everything an independent book shop should be and we’d love to go back.

book shop selfie!

book shop selfie!

 

 

 

Autumn of Terror

Those of you who follow us on social media or know us in real life, know what our Mastermind subject would be: serial killers. And our favourite of all? (Favourite sounds wrong, like we’re fans or something.) Jack the Ripper. So when we saw an anthology call for fictional Jack the Ripper stories, we desperately wanted to be in it. By ‘desperate’, we mean we would’ve performed a ritual sacrifice on reality TV stars if the anthology had demanded it. Why did the anthology not demand it? We wrote a story, Autumn of Terror, with a short deadline (we think about three weeks) and submitted it. We didn’t expect to get anywhere because the publisher was Little, Brown who publishes J K Rowling, and our acceptance rate has a poorer showing than a ghost’s birthday party. Stephen King used to stab his rejections on a spike. We could impale ours on pikes outside our house, like a paper version of Vlad the Impaler’s scare tactics.

But Autumn of Terror got accepted. The universe was so shocked, an angel choked to death on a chocolate eclair. You’d think that being accepted would mean being on a high for weeks on end. We finally got a story accepted by a major publisher who would actually pay us. Proper money, not  the usual $10 for hours of work. But no. Our demons don’t allow us to enjoy success. They were immediately saying “he sent the email to you by mistake.” Quickly followed by “he was one story short and picked yours at random.” See, demons? This is why we can’t have nice things.

And yet, the second email, apologising for accidentally accepting our story didn’t come. It’s still the only story we’ve had accepted this year, so our demons are happy being smug in our failures, but at least our fascination with Jack the Ripper has finally paid off and we can claim that everything we’ve read or seen about him was purely research 😉 We now need to visit Whitechapel and go ghost hunting there, see if we can meet him and his victims in spirit person.

Autumn of Terror follows a Jack the Ripper tour guide as he takes his group to all the murder sites and brutally reenacts the crimes. And as the tour guide puts it to his audience “real murder doesn’t come with refunds.” The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper is out now in the UK and will be out in January in the US. You can get it here Amazon UK   WHSmith   WaterstonesThe Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper

This was Halloween

plague doctorsWe’d set our alarms for 6:15 but they betrayed us in the worst possible way. Lynx woke at 7 after a stress dream about missing our train. Way to taunt her, brain, rather than doing something useful and actually waking her. Can’t get the staff these days. We had an hour to get ready and get to Waverley Bridge. We got there with a few minutes to spare but the person in front of us at the ticket machine took ages and the machine to a while to figure out so we missed the 8 a.m. train we wanted. There was another one at 8:15. We got to the platform at 8:05 after Lynx’s suitcase got jammed in the barrier and had to be rescued. plague doctor costumesWe’ve never attempted to master public transport by ourselves (social anxiety makes things like that impossible) but we didn’t have a choice. We had to get to Falkirk. Once again, we rued leaving our glasses behind as we couldn’t read any signs. Luckily, we’d researched it online before we came to Edinburgh, so we knew which Falkirk station we wanted and headed for that platform. A train pulled up not longer after we arrived, ruining our opportunity to take a photo as plague doctors by the tracks. We didn’t get on it because ours wasn’t due for 10 minutes and we didn’t want to get on the wrong train. Everyone else got on it, like they knew it was their train. How do people know these things? We swear that everyone else has been given a manual on how do things – like using public transport, social interaction and how to behave like normal human beings – yet someone forgot to give us the manual so we have to work it out by ourselves. Lynx asked the conductor – it was the right train. The suitcase had to have a seat space to itself, so Lynx sat with it while Cat had a table and four seats for her, the briefcase trolley and rucksack. We donned our masks and hats and took photos of us as plague doctors on the train. The conductor walked past and said “I forgot it was Halloween.” Strangely, we had half the carriage to ourselves. Can’t think why.

C L Raven Callendar Square Halloween fair

our stall

When we arrived at the station, we spotted Julie across the platform. Actually, she spotted us and waved, so we knew it was her (refer to yesterday’s post about people being faceless blurs). We just had to get across the tracks. We eyed the steps leading to the bridge then eyed the suitcase full of books which weighs half our body weight and is half our height. Why must we be the size of pixies? Where are our hunky man slaves? Oh right. Helping the beautiful, Barbie members of the female populace. Sighing defeatedly, we teamed up and lugged it up the many, many steps. It bounced happily down the other side. Sarah, if it’s more battered that when you lent it to us, we’re sorry. But…steps. And books. And no hunky man slaves.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

l-r Lynx, Megan, Imogen, Cat

Julie drove us to Callandar Square shopping centre. We set up our stall then waited for people to arrive. We met Dee who owns Trinity Moon and her daughter, Ellie and a couple of the other stall holders. A woman looked at our stall and said her daughter had one of our books and wanted us to sign it. We then met her daughter, Imogen and her friend Megan. They were lovely and ended up hanging out with us until 2 p.m, which made the day even more fun.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

us with Facebook friend, Amanda

One of the stallholders, Tracey, gave us two glasses with dripping blood as a gift. We bought handmade photo frame and dragon’s eye notebook from a stall holder called Heather. She bought a book. We sold 36 books! 16 The Malignant Dead, 6 Soul Asylum & Disenchanted 5 Romance Is Dead, 4 Deadly Reflections! Can’t believe it! Don’t think we’ve ever sold that many books in a month. At the moment, a good month is selling two ebooks. Yeah, our sales suck.  We suck. Judging by our usual monthly sales, we must be the worst writers in the history of writers. Maybe we should write something involving terrible dialogue, bondage and spanking and earn millions. Think that’s already been done though.

Callendar Square Halloween fair

us with Julie

We also met our Facebook friend, Lauren. Apparently, we’re her favourite authors after Margaret Atwood, which is one hell of a compliment we’re not worthy of. It surprises us that people actually bother to read our books, let alone enjoy them, rather than just buying them out of obligation because we’re friends/family/they feel sorry for us. Lauren was joining us on the overnight ghost hunt, so after the fair, we went back to Julie’s to dump our stuff and meet her dogs, Penny and Roxy. If we’re honest, we were just as excited to meet the dogs as we were for going ghost hunting. After a quick stop for food and dog cwtching, we all headed to Culross Palace.Culross

The village of Culross is a fantastic place! It’s a historic village with cobbled streets. We wandered up to the abbey before everyone else got there. There were 13 people in total. We did a group walk around with Lee, the medium, doing his spiel. Then we had a break then split into 2 groups. Us, Julie, Lauren and 3 other women were with Lee in the north block. We went into a room by ourselves. but didn’t get anything. We then went downstairs by ourselves. And heard dragging on the ceiling. We shouted up to see if anyone was moving.

Culross

vigil in the north block

Nobody was. We heard it again a few more times, along with fast tapping. We shouted up – nobody was moving. No idea what caused it. There are bats there so maybe they had something to do with it – tapping morse code and dragging the corpse of a tourist who refused to pay. Hopefully the cameras picked it up. Cat also got really itchy in that room on her side, back and round her right boob. Lee said one of the ghosts had a skin condition, like eczema. The itching stopped once she left the room.

Culross Palace

in the laird’s room by the curtain that moved

We had another break then went up to the family room to do glasswork. We never participate in glass work or ouija boards with people we don’t know or trust implicitly. It’s too easy to fake it, whether consciously or unconsciously. So when we do public ghost hunts, we never volunteer to take part. The glass was extremely active. We would’ve like time to use it by ourselves. We then all separated. We went into the laird’s room and sat by the bed. Schofield and Linus (Lynx’s back and Cat’s bad knee) weren’t happy so we had to keep sitting down.

Culross Palace

upstairs in the north block

Lynx was attaching her bracket to her camera, as it had come undone when Cat asked for the curtain to be moved. It moved. Cat “that was Lynx moving the curtain.” Lynx “no it wasn’t.” She hadn’t touched it, or at least wasn’t aware she’d touched it. Her arm couldn’t reach so it may have been the bracket or it could’ve been shadow play creating the illusion of movement, as Cat’s torch was pointing at Lynx at the time. Hopefully the camera can tell us what happened, as it was on a chair, filming us and the curtain. We then went into the adjoining strongroom, but didn’t get anything.

Culross Palace

downstairs where we heard dragging & tapping

We regrouped, had another break then everyone went to the family room to use the glass with a ouija board. Again, we didn’t join in. So we napped through it instead. Bear in mind, we’d only had about 6 hours sleep the night before, from being down the vaults. We’re great at napping sitting upright. We went back to the north block and did an EVP session in the upstairs room. A woman, Morag, did the calling out. They played it back and Morag and Lee claimed to hear responses, but we couldn’t hear anything other than the static. Her voice was quite muffled on it. Another of the team, Helen, played it back on her DVR.

Culross

Culross village

Her recorder was much clearer, the voices were louder and sharper during the calling out, but it picked up nothing. Morag played hers again and again claimed to hear responses. Lee commented on how the expensive Panasonic ones, which she had, seemed good at capturing EVPs. But we believe a muffled DVR can sound like responses in the static when it is really just static. If there were responses, why hadn’t Helen’s DVR picked anything up, when it was obviously better quality?

We finished the night in the townhouse. We didn’t do anything in there, but it was cool to see it, as it’s where the old tollbooth was and where a witch tried to commit suicide. We left at 3:15 and dropped Lauren off. Julie made up the couches for us to sleep on. We had a surprisingly good night’s sleep, even if it was only 4 hours.

Culross

with Lauren and Julie

Chudleigh Literary Festival

With nerves jangling like a hanging skeleton caught in a breeze, we set off for our second literary festival – Chudfest. Most writers probably attend a festival before speaking at one, but we’ve always done things backwards.

Chudfest

the marquee where the festival took place

We met one of the organisers, Kate McCormick, who writes as Elizabeth Dulcie, at the Salem Literary Festival last year. If you want to know how that went, you can read it here. You can watch the reading here. If you don’t have time/can’t be arsed, to sum it up, we failed to find Sir Walter Raleigh’s house on a straight road and showed up soaking wet, covered in mud and smelling of farm animals. Despite this, Kate still invited us to read at Chudfest. She’s a brave woman.

For once, we didn’t get lost. Usually, if a journey goes well, Fate balances it out by causing something else to go wrong, and we warned people that should the marquee come down on them, it was entirely our fault. But Fate decided to let us have a day off being her puppets. We set up our table of books, complete with spiderweb table covers and leaflets that our friend, Hayley made for us. Our table was by the bar, which we felt was prime position – when people are drunk, they do random things they later wake to regret, so we hoped that would stretch to buying books from unknown authors.

Chudfest

our table

We weren’t reading until 7:30 p.m. but arrived at 1:20 p.m. to attend a writing workshop run by Kate and a woman called Margaret. We’ve never attended a writer’s workshop before, or any kind of creative writing course, so we were intrigued. Yes, you read that right. We have no writing qualifications. We haven’t taken a single creative writing class. And yet we’re writers. We’re convinced someone will one day expose us as frauds and we’ll be captured on camera, hiding our faces beneath our coats and walking into lampposts.

This workshop focused on senses. Everyone was split into pairs (we were separated) and were given optical illusions to look at. After we’d discussed them, we had a few minutes of free writing about one of the images. Lynx wrote about a person’s hidden dark soul and Cat wrote about a person finding faceless bodies hanging from a tree. Their faces were in a different tree.

Our next piece involved touch. One person was blindfolded and their partner had to guide them around the marquee by holding their fingertips. Talking was forbidden. It was interesting that when blindfolded, we noticed things we hadn’t paid attention to before, like the different floor surfaces, the slight gradient and using hearing to help navigate. Then we had to write how we felt, either being the leader or the blindfolded one. This exercise was also a challenge for us in a different way – physical contact with strangers and being blindfolded. Normally, we refuse to close our eyes if we’re with people we don’t know. When we did adult learning courses in sleeping and dreaming, a lot of it involved closing your eyes in class. We refused to participate because we didn’t know our classmates. Closing our eyes involves trust and makes us feel vulnerable.

Chudleigh Literary Festival

everyone’s gone home

The next exercise was using smells to evoke memories. We learned that our dislike of strong smelling/flavoured food extends to any strong smell. Vinegar and bleach are two smells that induce retching. Everyone else was able to differentiate between the smells. We identified perfume, (another smell we find cloying) bleach and vinegar. Everything else smelled like vinegar. Then we couldn’t get the smell of vinegar out of our nostrils. We had to write a memory, or a mind map. Cat’s involved ‘omg that’s rank.’ ‘Vinegar. Ugh. Vomiting.’ ‘Vinegar? Again? Why?’ ‘Sure that one’s also vinegar’. And ‘can still smell that damn vinegar.’

Taste was the next sense to be explored and this was possibly everyone’s favourite. Mainly because it involved a big bowl of sweets. Again you had to write about a memory. We chose pear drops. They remind us of visiting St Fagans (a Welsh outdoors museum), because every time we visit, we buy pear drops. Cat’s also included a side note of ‘sure I can taste that damn vinegar.’

the lane where we did our lsitenin

the lane where we did our listening exercise

We had a break to go outside and listen for any sounds so we could write a poem based on what we heard. We explored the area, wandered into a housing estate and befriended two English Bull dogs and a pretty brindle Whippet. After that we stood and listened. As we were in a lane, we mostly heard footsteps and children from the nearby primary school. And we’re pretty sure we terrified the locals. Two strange Goth twins loitering in a lane isn’t something they’d encounter in their every day lives, so they hurried past, avoiding eye contact. Apart from the dog walkers, who were forced to speak to us when their dogs befriended us.

After the break, Margaret wanted us to explore our sixth sense. Everyone lay on mats and closed their eyes. Once she’d taken us through relaxation exercises, we had to imagine walking down a corridor lined with books until we reached a door. We both imagined a castle corridor with an oak door at the end. Through the door was our writing area. Lynx pictured our shed, Cat imagined an asylum with rusting beds and a circular pewter table with a large white skull. Once we were in there, we had to imagine we were the best writers we could be, with words flowing. So, basically, any writer that isn’t us. We then had half an hour to write about anything that we’d been inspired by from the workshop. We expanded on the optical illusions we wrote about. We’re visual writers, so that’s what tends to attract us. Everyone was given the opportunity to read out what they’d written, if they wanted to. We passed. Ours were so terrible, we didn’t even want to read them ourselves, let alone have anyone else listen to them.

Chudleigh Literary Festival

this way to the housing estate

There was a break between the workshop and the authors’ supper, so we chatted to Sharon, who had the thankless task of looking after us. She introduced us to her teenage children, who had seen some of our YouTube videos. Whenever someone tells us they’ve seen our videos, our first instinct is to ask ‘why?’ Our second is to apologise. We also spoke to Su Bristow, who we’ve met a couple of times. She won the first Exeter Novel Prize, and was at the Salem literary festival, so it was great to meet up with her again.

Although there was vegan-friendly food at the supper, we’re extremely fussy, so we sat at one of the tables with Sharon and other authors, with our vodka and lemonades, eating our crisps and chocolate buttons. Everyone at our table was lovely and were fascinated when we told them about how we can’t eat foods that have a strong smell, flavour or unpleasant texture, or is the wrong colour. They’d never come across that before. We’ve recently discovered there’s a condition called Selective Eating Disorder which is on the autism spectrum where people experience the same aversions as us. We thought we were just fussy buggers.

Chudleigh Literary Festival

us with our mum, Lynette

Our mum texted to say she was outside, so we went to meet her. Our sister, Sarah, was looking after the animal army. We’d written out instructions for Sarah, including ‘obey the cats’. They made sure she stuck to that rule. We’d also warned her Bandit was a wanton thief and so sneaky, she wouldn’t notice him pinch stuff. She texted later saying ‘Bandit stole my shoe. I was sitting right by him and didn’t see him take it’. We really need to take that dog to a bank.

Then it was time for our reading. Our mum was put on camera duty. You can watch the video here. We’d picked three stories from Disenchanted – Long Live the Queen, Master of Puppets and Once Upon A Nightmare and read a short extract of each. As we didn’t know our audience, we figured it’s the book with the widest appeal, as there’re only small amounts of horror in it. After our reading, some of the audience asked questions, so we talked about the gory stories we wrote as kids, how we could’ve gone two ways – serial killers or writers. We think people are glad we became writers, though if we’d been serial killers, we would’ve had a massive book deal by now and people would stop asking when we’re going to get a proper job.

Chudleigh Literary FestivalWe also talked about the disaster that is Calamityville and how the Care Bears influenced us, except we used our Care Bear stare to destroy random children we’d taken a dislike to. One woman asked about what kind of gravestone we wanted, so we relayed our plans for our tomb. It has to be big enough to have steps and corridors, with sconces lining the walls, gargoyles and a plaque which reads ‘this is the story of C L Raven. (They die in the end).’ To be honest, we haven’t given it much thought. Our sister is refusing to comply with our wishes, so we may write it into our will that nobody gets anything until we have our tomb.

There was a quick break for people to get refreshments. In our case, that meant a trip to the bar. We got chatting to a lovely Scottish woman. She confessed she knew nothing about Goths, but that we were very pretty. We laughed. We’ve been called many things in our time, but never ‘pretty’. That’s more an adjective for things that are delicate, or feminine. Not exactly an adjective that fits with us, but it’s nicer than most of the things we’ve been called. She said “to look at, you’re quite intimidating, but when you speak, you’re really friendly.” We need to work on this. Maybe growl at people. She also gave us our only sale by buying two copies of Disenchanted, making this the best month for sales since February. We’re not kidding. Our career is that depressing.

Chudleigh Literary Festival

Matt Harvey

The evening finished off with poet Matt Harvey. He was brilliant. He’s done Saturday Live for BBC Radio Four, poems for The Guardian, different writing residencies and commissions and even poetry for the London sperm bank that was put on posters in the underground. We’ve…did we mention we had spiderweb table cloths? Watching him, it was clear we have a hell of a lot to learn about performing readings. He was confident, articulate and entertaining. His parts between poems were natural. We were our usual awkward selves and read our introduction off a piece of paper, with some adlibbing thrown in ‘cos we were too nervous to concentrate on what we’d written. We were glad we’d gone first. If we’d had to follow him, the audience would’ve heard our footsteps scampering out of the marquee, followed by squealing tyres as General Pinkinton fled into the night.

Matt admitted he had shed envy after hearing about our writing shed. We offered to hang some skeletons in his for him. Skeletons always make a place feel homely and welcoming.

Parts of the A38 were closed on the way home. Our mum missed the diversion signs and ended up back in Chudleigh. Luckily she texted us to warn us, so we knew to look out for them. Though we were a bit worried when the diversion involved going through country lanes. That’s where the cannibals live.

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!

Cover Story

Those of you who have been with us for a while will know that every year we like to rip out Valentine’s Day’s heart with our anti-Valentine’s trilogies. When we wrote Gunning Down Romance, it was going to be a stand-alone book. But then we discovered a macabre love of butchering this romantic day and decided to write a trilogy of trilogies. So many people asked if it was in print that this year we haven’t written a new one, but have instead combined the three trilogies into one print book, with a bonus story featuring the only returning character, Trey. Trey was a returning character by accident. When we wrote Still Life in Bad Romance, it was going to feature a character called The Artist. But after we’d finished it, we realised The Artist was Trey. He’d sneaked in without us noticing. And we haven’t been able to get rid of him.

So without further ado, here is the stunning cover *opens curtains with a flourish. Gets tangled.* Bollocks.

Romance Is Dead C L Raven

It was designed by Mark Stone. You can follow him on Twitter here, like his Facebook page here and check out his website here. We only asked him to do the cover on Thursday and he’d finished it the next day so we’d have plenty of time to promote it. You can’t ask for better service than that. We love how he’s incorporated the style of the other covers into a new look. We can’t wait to see it in print. It will be released on Valentine’s Day, so if like us, you enjoy seeing Valentine’s covered in blood, you don’t have long to wait.

Real love is worth killing for.