Press Start

She’s coming…

What do you get when you put horror writers with a game developer? Silent Dawn: Asylum.

maja 3Back in January, our friend, Steve, asked if we’d like to work on a project together, creating a choose your own adventure game. Intrigued, we agreed. We’re always up for new challenges. If Neil Gaiman can be known for multiple creative outlets then damn it, so can we. We used to love playing Granny’s Garden on the BBC computer when we were kids, and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, so to be given the chance to make our own was something we couldn’t turn down. In April, we finally got round to starting it. Steve showed us the programme – Twine – and how it worked. You could create different paths and have them link back up. Or not. You could have different endings, choices. And in ours, you can die. We are horror writers. If you were expecting a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.

bubblesWe sat there for a while trying to think of a setting that would make for a great game with plenty of paths and choices. It had to be dark and creepy. We came up with several then discarded them for not being complex enough. Then we realised we had one: Silent Dawn. In the book, the characters play a game called Silent Dawn: Asylum, where they have to find missing kids, while avoiding Silent Dawn. We thought it would make a great game. Why come up with a new idea when we already had a game written out, begging to be played? We’ve always wanted to create the game, but we know nothing about coding or game development. Even the sight of code sends our brains into a panicky meltdown. Luckily, Steve likes coding. Some readers had mentioned to us that they would like to play the game from the book. Your wish is our command! This is the opening scene:

            The legend of Silent Dawn dates back centuries. It changes over time and in different countries, but one thing always stays the same: wherever she appears, children go missing. Some say they become her puppets, others say she kills them and feeds off their life force to sustain her immortality. But whenever she takes them, they’re never found. Silent Dawn has returned, but this time, she has a helper.
Children have gone missing and clues lead you to the woods surrounding Nightshade Asylum. One of the patients is being controlled by Silent Dawn and has taken the children. You must collect all the patient records and work out which patient is her puppet. Find the children. Before it’s too late.

majaWe now go round Steve’s every week to add to the game. It’s taken several three hour-long sessions and we’ve barely begun. It took two or three weeks to get the character out of the woods to the asylum! That’s probably about 15 minutes of game play. There are different paths, dead ends, multiple deaths and so many variables, depending on the character’s actions. The list of variables grows every week, including character injuries and whether or not they try to mess with the game. We feel sorry for Steve having to code them all. The game starts off fairly linear, but when you reach the asylum, dear god does it go crazy. It will allow for multiple play-throughs, where you can take a different path every time.  There are checkpoints, so you don’t have to go back to the start every time you die. But…you have to find them. You didn’t think we’d make this easy for you, did you? We’ve even hidden some traps that will allow players to try to break the game. And get punished for it. Lynx is even getting the hang of some of the coding. Cat keeps accidentally putting YouTube links in. None of us know how she does it.

maja 2We’re really excited about it. It’s refreshing to do something creative that isn’t writing short stories or novels. It’s different. It’s also nice to work on a creative project with someone else, where we can share ideas and feed off each other’s creativity. Steve comes up with some of the ideas when our brains misfire. It’s given us something different to focus on, to look forward to. We don’t know when we’ll be finished yet – we’ve just got the character into the asylum – but it will be available on Twine. And it will be free to download, or with an option to make a very small voluntary donation. Steve’s cat, Maja, and his fish, Bubbles, are project managers. Bubbles doesn’t contribute much, and Maja is more intent on sitting on the router and standing on the keyboard, but we appreciate their support. 

There have been a few mini meltdowns, which happens when we work with technology. Mostly, the keyboard has a mind of its own and it seems to hate Lynx. She’ll be merrily typing away and then it’s like someone’s holding down one key. She tries to delete it and it deletes everything she’s written. We figured out Cat’s phone was causing some of the problems – it’s a wireless keyboard, and if Cat was on her phone, the keyboard would go crazy – but it’s not responsible for every hiccup. Steve’s going to buy a new keyboard and mouse before we launch his out the window. He’ll keep the current one for coding. It obeys him.

You can keep up with weekly developments on our Instagram Stories. If you want to know what the game is like, you can buy Silent Dawn.

If you go into the woods today, you’d better make sure you don’t die…

twine

SILENT DAWN TAKES YOU

Installing Updates

Sorry, it’s been two months since our last blog post. There just hasn’t been any news to report, apart from countless rejections and we save those for Twitter. Though we have had an acceptance – To Sleep, Perchance to Scream, a story we wrote back in 2008 and have recently reworked will be appearing in Thirteen Vol 3: The Neverending Nightmare. We tend to hibernate from ghost hunting/urbex in the winter ‘cos it’s bloody cold and we’d rather not freeze to death and become ghosts ourselves. Though that would mean we’d finally get some on the show. We’ve been busy working on a new project which we’re very excited about – our first comic! The fantastic guys at Hellbound Media asked us to write a short comic for them based on monsters from the silver screen and naturally, we said yes. We’ve been wanting to move into comics for a while but had no idea how to write one, as it’s a very different format to short stories and novels. But with their help, we’re learning and are now working on adapting another story into a comic.

Silent DawnIn December, we released Silent Dawn, our first YA book. We decided not to tone down the horror for a younger audience. We were reading adult horror at 12 and we turned out…anyhoo, it is available on Amazon in ebook and print. We’re currently editing The Devil’s Servants, set during in 1649 during Edinburgh’s witch trials. It’s sort of a sequel to The Malignant Dead. This will be our next release this year.

Birmingham Horror ConNow it’s February, con season is starting. On Saturday we were at Birmingham Horror Con and had a great time. People who met us at Horror Con UK in Sheffield came to see us again and some online friends showed up as well. We spent a long time cuddling snakes and faced our lifelong fear of spiders by holding a tarantula, Pandora. It’s something we’d never thought we’d do and we’re pleased we summoned the courage to hold her. We’ll probably still flee in terror the next time a garden spider scuttles towards us but for a few minutes, we were brave. And we have photos to prove it.

Birmingham Horror Con

Cat and Pandora

Birmingham Horror Con

Lynx and Texas

We’ve also been busy with our new obsession – polefit. We haven’t been this obsessive about an exercise since horse riding which we gave up when we were 16. Depression’s a bitch. Though we have an intense fear of being upside and falling, which doesn’t help when we have to do upside moves and let go with one hand. One day we hope to be able to do them without being scared, but that’s a long way off. Though it’s better to be scared and concentrate on doing the move right then throwing ourselves into it and fucking it up. It took us 11 years to get over our social phobia, so we’re hoping to conquer this fear much quicker.

Polefit

Lynx doing an Upside Galaxy

We’ve improved a lot since we started in September  – when we started, we couldn’t straighten our legs because of tight hamstrings. Due to doing flexibility stretches every day, we can now straighten them and thanks to a two hour flexibility/contortion class, we are now closer to doing the splits! We also have a pole in Casa Raven and spend a lot of time watching Polefit videos on Instagram and wishing we were those ladies! Now that our legs are finally on display, we need to tattoo them. At least we potentially have a new career when we run out of money. Twin Goth poledancers hasn’t been done before. As long as we can keep our clothes on. While we enjoy giving people nightmares, we prefer to do it through our writing, not through inflicting our nudity on people. Check out the video for our first three months of Polefit.

Cat doing a Reverse Layout

Cat doing a Reverse Layout

Next week, it’s our birthday and we shall be spending it in Venice! We’ll arrive on Valentine’s Day and while the Italians have only recently started celebrating it, Venice is meant to be one of the most romantic cities. So naturally, we’ve found all the haunted, gory locations and will be visiting them with Calamityville regular and fellow birthday girl, Lesley. Other Calamityville regulars Tom and Amy are also joining us but as it’s their anniversary, we shall leave them to their romantic slushyness and go off chasing ghosts and little girls in red coats. The carnivale will be on while we’re there. We also plan to visit Verona and recreate the famous Romeo & Juliet scene on the balcony. We’ve been practising important Italian we’ll need – chips, ice cream, vegan, bill please, hello, goodbye, thank you and please don’t arrest us.double-figurehead

So here’s a list of our upcoming cons for this year so far if you want to come and say hi.

February 25th & 26th Digicon – Doncaster.

March 4th and 5th Cardiff Film and Comic Con (we’ll be lowering the tone at Hellbound Media’s table)

March 11th Optimus: A touch of horror – Bristol

April 21st – 23rd Whitby Goth Weekend Bizarre Bazaar (we’ll be in the Pavillion theatre)

May 6th Oldham Comic Con we’ll be doing a reading, though haven’t decided which book we’re reading from.

July 1st & 2nd Swansea Horror Con (we’re guests! Well, we do have Swansea blood, so it’s only fair.)

July 15th Edgelit – Derby

October 14th Bristol Horror Con

October 28th & 29th Birmingham Horror Con Halloween Special.

12 Days

Eight Maids MilkingWe have exciting news – our short Christmas horror story, is out now! Eight Maids Milking is part of a charity Christmas horror anthology, edited by Matthew Bob, with all proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Each of the 12 days stories are being released individually as ebooks (you can buy ours here for the UK and US) then they’ll be put together with Christmas carol inspired stories in the 12 Days anthology, which will be released in both ebook and paperback.

Blurb:

Everyone craves the perfect Christmas.
No-one’s prepared to make sacrifices for it.
Except eight sisters who work hard every year to give people the Christmas they see in TV adverts. The world doesn’t appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go in to making Father Christmas’s suit and sleigh every year. Of course, it’s not the sisters’ blood, sweat and tears, but their victims. One kiss under the mistletoe and their chosen men become unwilling sacrifices to the ancient festive god, who looks nothing like children’s books depict. At least, not until he uses his magic to transform himself from a nightmare into the fat, drink-driving present-giver children love.
And the typical jolly little elves are false advertising compared to the miserable, hideous, Christmas-hating elves employed in the workshop. Their faces are enough to curdle the eggnog. But secrets are what make this time of year special. And no-one can ever guess the special ingredient in Mother Christmas’s Secret Santa Pies. But it’s definitely not turkey.
This December, be careful who you kiss under the mistletoe. Or this Christmas, you may jingle your bells for the last time.

Also, Silent Dawn’s ebook is now available for pre-order! You can pre-order it in the UK and US.Silent Dawn