Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Khepera Rising by Nerine Dorman

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Just when the wickedest man in Africa thought the nightmare was over…

Still recovering from the trauma of his encounter with the Christo-militants who tried to kill him, Jamie only wants to get his life back on track. This is easier said than done when he’s essentially blackmailed into helping solve a case involving alleged cult activity.kheperarising333x500

To complicate matters further, the media gets involved and Jamie has to tread carefully.

However, soon the hunter becomes the hunted and Jamie faces some difficult choices. Will his uneasy symbiosis with The Burning One save him or will he be tempted to grasp for more power than he can possibly hold?

Content warning: Occult, demonic entities and some graphic sex with descriptions of gore

and violence.

Bitten By Books reviewed it and said in part:

Jamie is the anti-hero: he’s rude, crude, obnoxious and yet the whole time I was reading this story I was cheering for this guy because for every nasty act he committed, he would demonstrate some kindly deed, sometimes for people he knew well but more often for others he either hardly knew or despised. The story doesn’t end the way you expect, but there is a lot to be learned here from Jamie’s tale: do not conduct 19757_281013592026_623122026_3844910_3070104_nceremonies you don’t understand or make-up, shadows sneaking up on you may not be shadows, and other equally horrific nifty lessons.

Overall, this novel is a superb light horror.

In what country does the action take place?  If you know the answer, send Nerine an email at She’ll give a free ebook version to the first person with the correct answer.

Learn more and buy the book at this site.

Interview with Nerine Dorman

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
1) Can you give us a brief bio?
Born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa, I’m currently employed as a sub-editor at a large newspaper publisher and have been working on a travel supplement for one of the weeklies for the past few years. I regularly write travel and lifestyle-orientated editorial, which is published nationally. It keeps me sane when the day-to-day grind of deadlines wears me down. For the past three years I’ve been running a writers’ group in my home town specifically geared toward F/SF/H writers, and 19757_281013592026_623122026_3844910_3070104_n I’m proud to say a number of members have gone on to making their first pro sales. My true love lies with editing and writing genre fiction. When I’m not busy polishing other authors’ manuscripts I find time to work on my own fiction. I do, however, find my fiction editing to be immensely rewarding, especially when my authors get rave reviews, which I’m proud to say they do.
2) When did the writing bug bite and in what genre(s)?
School was horrendously boring when I was in my early teens. I filled many exercise books with stories that petered off into nothing after the first ten or so pages. I don’t think I finished anything but back then it was mostly science fiction and some fantasy settings.
3) When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?  Is there a message you wanted readers to grasp?
When I started writing I had absolutely no idea where I could take these stories. Back then we didn’t have the internet (yes, I’m that old) so I had no contact with any writers’ resources or critique groups. And people kept saying it was a waste of my time and talents to write genre fiction. After all, none of the South African publishers would (and still don’t) touch genre fiction from locals with the soggy end of a barge pole. I stopped writing for about five or so years from age nineteen until about 2003, when I could no longer deny the need to tell the stories spinning about in my head.
4) Briefly, tell us about your books
My first novel, Khepera Rising, was published by Lyrical Press late 2009. It’s horror, but has a twist of mystery, murder and dark fantasy, and is set in Capekheperarising333x500Town, South Africa. I’m also happy to announce it will be released in print in June. The sequel, Khepera Redeemed, is releasing (also through Lyrical Press) the same month. Yes, I know the name is a mouthful and even now I’m not sure what possessed me to expect English speakers wrap their tongues around Middle Egyptian but hey… It sort of stuck as a title.
5) What’s the hook for these books?
Both novels focus on the exploits of a black magician who runs into all manner of misadventure. Gritty and dark, it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but if you’re into Neil Gaiman and Storm Constantine, I’m confident you’ll enjoy these tales.
6) How do you develop characters?  Settings?
The ideas for my characters usually occur when I enter into dialogue with my subconscious. Sometimes these will be vivid images I retrieve from dreams. Other times I daydream, and my characters jump out at me, usually the product of several trains of thought I’d have been mulling over a number of days. I can never force concepts and am blessed (or cursed) with an overactive imagination constantly spewing out “what ifs”.
The settings follow once I know what sort of character I’ve brought into being. Mostly, I try to write what I know, so many of my stories are set in my stomping ground, Cape Town, or other parts of South Africa. Being a travel writer definitely helps when communicating my settings. Sometimes, however, I do wander off the beaten track into the realms of pure fantasy, allowing the milieu to grow naturally. I do find it helps deciding what level of technology I’m dealing with before I put pen to paper, and I spend considerable time on my world-building.
7) What’s the most unusual/most likable character?
kheperaredeemed333x500One character who is very powerful for me at the moment is my black magician, James Edward Guillaume. He is deliciously flawed, and from his skewed point of view, has a lot to say about contemporary South Africa, especially with regard to alternative spiritualities and subcultures. Highly irreverent, he purposefully sets out to shock people, landing himself in a lot of trouble. Added to this is his narcissism, although he does redeem himself somewhat in the second novel.
I’ve a strong character waiting in the wings who is another dark hero. But I’m not going to say much about him except that I woke a few weeks ago after a dream that had me feeling emotionally charged the entire day, so I absolutely had to sketch an outline. All I’ll say is it’s a post-apocalyptic setting, again in South Africa.
8 ) Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Recently I’ve started using a partial snowflake method to plot, so I can record the major twists and conclusion. I find it helps to know where I’m going with a story. Also, when elaborating on essential themes, I sometimes find surprising elements I’d not previously considered. I used to outline a story in bullet points but found I’d get patches where not much happens, so by looking for the three big disasters and their resolution, I can maintain an even pace. I do not use this method slavishly, however, because I still feel the process of writing must be organic, so if a great idea occurs while I’m writing, I’ll make amendments to the chapter breakdown.
9) Do you have a specific writing style?  Preferred POV?
I’m one of those annoying authors who write first person, present tense effectively. I love the sense of immediacy and offering readers an unreliable narrator. That being said, I also don’t want to limit my writing by sticking to what I know. Although I do prefer first-person narrative, I’ve recently written a young adult urban fantasy in third person, past tense, which I’m glad to say, has made the top thousand entries in the Amazon Abna Breakthrough Novel Awards for the young adult fiction category. I’ll find out on March 23 whether I’ve made the next round.
10) Share the best review or a portion that you’ve ever had
Best-selling South African fantasy author Greg Hamerton had this to say about Khepera Rising: “The author displays an accomplished style that gives me confidence to follow her into the dark. The protagonist, Jamie, offers a distinctive shock-rocker view of the world with a unique perspective on our so-ordinary lives. The story is an introduction to a ragged slice of Goth culture in Cape Town. The detailing is convincing―references to esoteric texts, drug culture and rituals that speak of experience or such good research that it is indistinguishable from it. But the book comes with a warning: M/M and M/F sexual content, occult, violence, gore. You’d best avoid it if you find smears of prejudice, graphic violence and conversations peppered with vile expletives offensive. I’d never have expected a woman to have written this…but I suspect that she is more fire and demon, with an undeniable knack for finding soft places with her claws.”
11) What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
The most unexpected occurrence I’ve had, relating directly to my writing was the day a complete stranger walked up to me and asked me if I was into Aleister Crowley. Dumbstruck I replied in the affirmative, whereupon he gave me a whole pile of Crowley’s works, many of which I did not have in my collection, as well as the tarot deck I still use during my meditations. It was truly one of those WTF moments. His reason for giving me the books was that he was no longer following this path and that he’d received a message to give them me. I felt a bit “erm, okay…” after this experience and it’s possibly one of the most peculiar I’ve ever had. I grabbed the books and ran, hardly daring to believe someone had given me almost $200 worth of literature.
12) What are your current projects?
My current projects include a novella, which I’ve just submitted to my publisher for consideration. Sick and tired of this whole Twilight melodrama, I’ve gone about writing a story that says it like it is: vampires are bad for your health. I’m also tentatively taking stabs at my post-apocalyptic setting, but until I can sit back and say, “the end” I’m not going to discuss it in depth. Also on the boil is an epic fantasy with a conscious nod toward Jacqueline Carey’s ability to tell a great tale with considerable erotic content, based on an old Scandinavian fairy tale. And…a steampunk fantasy is also mouldering on my hard drive. I’m busy with first-round edits, so it will be a long while before it sees the subbing mill.
13) Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
You’ll find a Facebook group that I run by following this link:
I send out a monthly update and post links of my little successes there, as well as notifications of any events.
I blog. A lot. My Livejournal page is one I update most regularly about my day-to-day tribulations of living in South Africa and assorted writing endeavours. See:
And, for my available projects, drop by Lyrical Press at:
14) What type of writing do you do?
To describe my writing, I’d say I skate on the literary edge of genre fiction. I don’t tie myself to any specific genre, although my love for the occult and supernatural does tend toward guiding me to add fantasy elements to my tales.
15) What is the best thing about writing?
What I love the most about my writing is it allows me to escape from the hum-drum of mundania, where I’m the one who decides what happens to characters and how they are transformed by their experiences. It’s an outlet and a way for me to explore issues that bother me, or just embark on a rollicking good adventure, writing the kinds of stories I love to read.
16) Is there a specific time of day that you write?
I write. All the time. Every free minute I have I write. Now that I have my own mini laptop, it’s even easier to indulge in my addiction. Mornings are best but I get my second wind late at night. I’m trying to find out how to get by on about five hours or less sleep a day.
Coffee is my friend.
17) What is the most interesting book you ever read?
The most fascinating story I’ve ever read is Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels. That series changed my life, and if I can bring just a small portion of magic, mystery and wonder into people’s lives, I consider my work a success.
18) Favorite authors?
My favourite authors include Neil Gaiman, Storm Constantine, Jacqueline Carey and Poppy Z Brite. They all write rich, evocative prose, sometimes with a very dark spin.
19) Any parting words of advice for writers?
My advice to writers, get your bum on a chair and write. Don’t listen to anyone who says “Ah, you’ll never get published” or “Who’s going to read that story?” Chances are good, if you’re writing the kind of story you like to read, someone out there will share your view. Also, if you do manage to find fellow writers as critique buddies, don’t take criticism of your writing personally. You’re going to get far worse from your editor or agent, so start developing that thick skin early in your career. I totally recommend checking out, a site that has helped me form a network of writing buddies, as well as provide me with a good start.
Lastly, I am actively on the look-out for genre fiction manuscripts to recommend to my publisher, Lyrical Press, as I am under contract there as a content editor. If you write dark fantasy, horror or just plain “out there and strange” stories, drop me an email at and chat to me about your project. See:

Author Interview: Philip J. Lees

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Philip is a British ex-pat who lives and writes in Greece.

1) Can you give us a brief bio?

I was born. I haven’t died yet.

2) When did the writing bug bite and in what genre(s)?

Although I didn’t see it that way at the time, my interest in writing dates back to a single-figure age. My great grandmother taught me to read when I was three, and more or less from then on I was a regular reader. I can’t remember writing anything specific, but I have clear recollections of scribbling stuff down. My first fiction sale was to Eagle comic in the 1960s, when I was about twelve. It was an attempt at humour, describing somebody getting into a hot bath as if were a torturous ordeal. I got five shillings for it. (That same discerning publication also bought a short story from one Douglas Adams at about the same time. His was better than mine.)

The lead story in Eagle comic concerned Dan Dare, spaceman extraordinaire, and his battles against the evil Mekon. But the thing that really dates my interest in science fiction back to the early 1960s is Doctor Who, the longest running television SF series in the world. The BBC recently released the reconstructed early episodes on DVD. I watched them and found I could remember whole chunks of dialogue, from when I was ten years old!

Bruce Holland Rogers and Philip Lees

Bruce Holland Rogers and Philip Lees

In my early teens I had an English teacher at school who would occasionally bring in marking or reports to do during our lesson, so he wouldn’t have to do them at home, in his own time. He would tell us to spend the hour writing anything we felt like in our “Anthology” books. I remember writing a spoof of the Man From U.N.C.L.E., and something else called “The Advance of the Killer Moles.” Sadly, all that has been lost to posterity. (Historical note: the name of that English teacher was Bill Gates, but I doubt he was related to the other one.)

Apart from these and other early, occasional attempts at writing, I’ve been making serious attempts to write fiction for about ten years now. I’ve always enjoyed science fiction, so I write quite a lot of that, but I don’t really believe in “genres”. I believe in whatever works for a given story I want to tell.

3) When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you wanted readers to grasp?

Hell no! I write to please myself. If I end up with something reasonably close to what I was trying for, then I like to share it. If that sharing is in the form of a publication, so much the better. But any “message” only gets in there by accident.

4) Briefly, tell us about your books

I have two novels completed and a third one started. The first novel, a mainstream historical mystery satire romance, needs more work. The second, which is soft science fiction, I think is publishable. I’ve approached a few agents and have had generally positive responses, but not quite positive enough so far.

5) What’s the hook for these books?

Here’s the hook for the second novel, working title The Changelings:

Pod is four and a half years old and in two days she will be married. She can handle that—she’s an adult, after all—she can even cope with the knowledge her father decides to pass on to her about the origins of their people, but then the aliens arrive and play havoc with her wedding.

The aliens are not so different, although they come in a bewildering variety of shapes and colours. Their leader, Lorienne Fairbanx, seems almost like a person, in spite of her unusual appearance, and Pod is intrigued. Pod’s friend Derrin has even fallen in love. But is Lorienne to be their friend, or their Nemesis?

6) How do you develop characters? Settings?

Characters either develop themselves, or not. Once I know a character’s name, I’m OK from them on. I suppose I tend to choose settings I’m familiar with. I live on an island in a temperate climate, and the setting for Changelings is a group of islands in a temperate climate. I made up most of the flora and fauna, though.

7) What’s the most unusual/most likable character?

The most UNlikeable character I’ve created is probably the male protagonist of my first novel, Clive Dotter. He writes really horrible poetry. Most likeable, I don’t know. I have a tendency to like my characters too much, even the bad ones, then I rewrite scenes to make them not so bad and all the conflict evaporates. I’m getting better at avoiding that, though. The most unusual character is probably the alien sex instructor who is the first person pov in a recent, very short story I wrote, which almost nobody except me understands.

8) Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Not that I’m aware of. After the first novel, I developed detailed outlines for the other two, but I don’t always stick to them and I’m not even sure it’s a good idea (Stephen King says not).

Future Mysteries Cover

Future Mysteries Cover

9) Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

I suppose I have a core “style”, but I like experimenting with different approaches to broaden my range. As for POV, that usually comes along with the basic story idea, so what I prefer is what works best in a given case.

10) Share the best review or a portion that you’ve ever had

“…crisp and interesting.” The worst was probably “…a far cry from deadly good,” but the story in question got an honourable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Anthology for 2009, so I can magnanimously forgive the reviewer for that.

11) What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Getting a story included in the Writers of the Future anthology, volume XVII, in 2001, and discovering I’d won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood for a one-week writers’ workshop.

12) Have you participated in other writers’ workshops?

I organised one myself, in Crete in 2005. One of the instructors was Eric Witchey, whom I’d met at the WoTF bash in Hollywood, and the other was Bruce Holland Rogers, who’s won a couple of World Fantasy awards, among other things. Both great guys, and everybody seemed to think the workshop went very well. I certainly got a lot out of it. For me, one of the main benefits of both those workshops was getting the feeling that I belonged to a community of writers. I’m still in touch with a lot of the people I met there.

13) What are your current projects?

Over the last couple of years I’ve been getting a new house built and moving into it, along with all that that entails—conferring with engineers and builders, making a million choices, financing and so on—and I’ve been forced to put my writing on the back burner. One of my new year’s resolutions is to get back into a regular routine of writing and submitting.

14) Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

From my website:

15) What type of writing do you do?

I do a lot of scientific writing and editing as part of the way I earn my living. In fact, I’d been doing that for a number of years before I started writing fiction on a serious regular basis, and I realised it had given me a very good grounding in the mechanics of the writing process—grammar, sentence construction, and so on. Its like in music, where when you learn an instrument you have to spend a lot of time doing exercises, practising scales and so on. Moving from science writing to fiction was like taking the leap to improvising jazz. But all that time spent practising pays off.

16) What is the best thing about writing?

The hours. No, I’m kidding: the money. Seriously, I mentioned the Writers of the Future thing before. One thing they do is they have an illustrators’ contest that runs in parallel, and each published story has an illustration. They sprung this thing on us where all we writers walked into a room where the prize-winning illustrators were waiting and all the illustrations were hung up in a row. I spotted the one that went with my story very quickly (despite some misgivings about what if I’d got it wrong, how horribly embarrassing that would be, etcetera, etcetera—anyway, I’d got it right) and I met the illustrator who’d done it. One of the great moments of my life, and one of the most moving. Here I was in Greece, and I’d written this story, and someone in America had read it, and done an illustration, and she’d picked up all the essential main points of the story and put them into an image, and it spoke to me the moment I saw it. So the best thing about writing is that communication, and the rare moments when you have it confirmed.

17) Is there a specific time of day that you write?

No. I like nothing better than to get up in the morning and know that I have the entire day to work on my fiction. But the necessity of earning a living (see above) means that it doesn’t happen very often. So I tend to clear my desk of all the outstanding work obligations, clear my mind too, then get to the fiction in whatever time is left.

18) What is the most interesting book you ever read?

There is no “most”, but two of the more interesting books I’ve read this year are Darwin’s “Origin of Species”, and Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”, both of which had major anniversaries. Each represents a leap of human intellect in understanding the universe we inhabit and our own place in it. In both cases, the author’s joy and awe at the process of discovery pervades the somewhat dry scientific text. Of course, both of them were vilified by the society of their day.

19) Favourite authors?

I’ve been reading a lot of Philip K. Dick over the last couple of years and I love his writing—his best stuff, anyway. There are so many writers whose work I’ve enjoyed, though, it isn’t really fair to single anybody out. My reading tastes veer wildly and unpredictably between such extremes as William Gibson and P.G. Wodehouse, passing over everything in between.

20) Any parting words of advice for writers?

Give it up now, before it starts to get really difficult. The more of you there are out there, the more submissions there are ahead of mine in the slush pile. Give up now and get out of my way.

Interview with Peadar Ó Guilín

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Today, it is my pleasure to interview my friend and fellow author Peadar Ó Guilín.

Hank: Can you give us a brief bio?

Peadar: I’m Irish and I don’t drink. This is probably briefer than you were after, but you should be able to extrapolate quite a lot from there!                                                          GuilinPeadarO

Hank: When the writing bug bite and in what genre(s)?

Peadar: The bug bit me very young — around the age of five. I wrote several Tolkien rip-offs in school and a small number of Narnia-a-likes too. Good times! Strangely, none of those attempted novels became famous works of art.

Hank: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish.  Is there a message you wanted readers to grasp?

Peadar: There are a lot of recurring themes in my writing, but none of them are deliberate on my part. They just come out of who I am and the experiences life has thrown at me. For example, I’m fascinated by bullies and you’ll always find one or two inhabiting my stories and feeding (often literally) on the weak.

Hank: Briefly, tell us about your books?

Peadar: My first novel was The Inferior. It’s set on a world populated by savage tribes, both human and alien, who have nothing to eat but each other. The Deserter is a direct sequel that I am coming to the end of about now. I am also nearing the end of a second draft of a near future dystopian novel called Eat the Drink.

inferior cvr_Hank: What’s the hook for these books?

Peadar: I guess, the Unique Selling Point of something like The Inferior, is that it attempts to make a brutal cannibal sympathetic, even lovable. I was really curious when writing the book what I would have become had I been born into his environment and I hope the readers are asking themselves the same questions.

Hank: How do you develop characters?  Settings?

Peadar: I develop characters and settings in tandem with each other. The world will only feel real if those who live in it respond to it in a logical manner. The environment, together with interactions with other characters, are what define my protagonists.

Hank: What’s the most unusual/most likable character?

Peadar: Most people seem to consider Rockface to be my most likable character. At least he’s the one readers keep asking me not to kill off in the sequel ;) He’s a large man, relentlessly optimistic, violent and caring. And not always too bright either.

Hank: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Peadar: Yes. My special technique is called “rewrite until it works, no matter how many rewrites that takes”. I’m thinking of taking out a patent on it.

Hank: Do you have a specific writing style?  Preferred POV?

Peadar: At the moment, my preferred POV seems to be a very restricted third person. I like it that the reader can’t know anything the character herself doesn’t experience personally. It leads me into all kinds of difficult situations, but the payoff in terms of verisimilitude can be well worth it.

Hank: Share the best review or a portion that you’ve ever had

Peadar: For The Inferior, I love this one best:

“Read this, and remember why Science Fiction lit your fire in the first place.”

It came from a British magazine called “DeathRay”. There were lots of other good ones, of course ;)

Hank: What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Peadar: Having publishing houses bidding against each other for the right to publish my work. That was pretty intense. I kept getting updates from my agent over the phone when I was at the day job.

Hank: What are your current projects?

Peadar: As mentioned above, I’m just finishing off The Deserter and working through a new, unrelated work called Eat the Drink, which is set only about forty years from now.

Hank: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Peadar: My blog is at

Hank: What type of writing do you do?

Peadar: All kinds of speculative fiction — SF, Fantasy, Horror and so on.

Hank: What is the best thing about writing?

Peadar: The initial burst of inspiration you get, is wonderful. I love it when I have to get out of bed to write something down for fear it will be gone by sunrise.

Hank: Is there a specific time of day that you write?

Peadar: I usually do a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon. I can’t really write at night any more for some reason.

Hank: What is the most interesting book you ever read?

Peadar, my wife Pat and me having lunch in Dublin

Peadar, my wife Pat and me having lunch in Dublin

Peadar: Possibly, it was Jarrod Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. An absolutely, mind-blowing exploration of the development of civilization.

Hank: Favorite authors?

Peadar: George R. R. Martin and Neal Stephenson always come to mind when I answer this question, although I don’t write anything like either of them.

Hank: Any parting words of advice for writers?

Peadar: Dump the rules. Write a good story. If you don’t love it with all your heart, nobody else will.

Okay, that’s it for the interview. If anyone has a question to ask Peadar, write a comment and he’ll get back to you.

One last remark.  I’ve read The Inferior and the creative in it is stunning as is the story itself.  I highly recommend it.

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New interview scheduled

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

On Friday,  October 23, I’ll interview the Irish author, Peadar Ó Guilín.  He wrote the acclaimed novel, The Inferior.  Make it a point to drop by and read what Peadar has to say.