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!

 

 

 

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!