Were-Creatures Then and Now

were-1One of my fondest childhood memories is of repeatedly watching the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. version of The Wolf Man. A scene that particularly stood out for me was when the Gypsy looks at the man’s palm and sees a pentagram appear, then fade again. This imprinted on my developing psyche so strongly that I gave it a nod in an amateur film of my own, Graveyard Shift: A Zomedy of Horrors (to be released on Amazon Prime in 2020).

The idea of werewolves and shapeshifters is far from new, but it easily takes hold of the imagination and unlike in the days of superstitious peoples who once believed in the literal reality of these creatures, they have become a cornerstone of modern fictional entertainment.

I remember thinking as a child that someone who changed into a cat would be fascinating, only to later discover Cat People, a movie based on The Bagheeta, a short story by Val Lewton. It has been re-made twice since the 1942 original. I first saw the 1982 version with Natassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell.

were-2Werewolves in particular have been a popular topic in both literature and movies since these forms of entertainment have existed. The original legends go back before printing, but the demand for werewolf and other shapeshifter stories has developed over the past several decades into a major genre of its own.

In this century, stories have proliferated and covered an interesting array of shifter animals. Werewolves and werecats remain the most popular, but apart from the more predatory animals one might expect shapeshifters to adopt, I’ve seen wereplatypuses, werehamsters and wereducks. Nothing is off-limits. Even the Romance genre has got into the act since Twilight came up with a hunky young werewolf and the indie authors have run with the idea, creating whole societies of were-creatures.

More traditional roles for were-creatures continue to be written. I personally like my werewolves old school, savage beasts as they were meant to be. The best author I’ve seen this century for this is Graeme Reynolds, who wrote the High Moor series. If you like good werewolf stories, read these books!

Other good authors who write shapeshifter fiction include Helen Harper, Nalini Singh and Shanna Lauffey (She-wülf is currently not in print, but the author has promised to re-release it after she finishes her time travel series). Maggie Stievater’s Shiver is one of the most haunting books I’ve found with a young protagonist.

were-3Werewolves work surprisingly well with humour as well. Apart from the movies, An American Werewolf in London and Teen Wolf, several books can be found where the antics of a deadly killer have their humorous moments, like Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand, about someone who has to transport a werewolf who gets loose and has to be recaptured.

Shapeshifter fiction has endless possibilities. I avoid the books with bare chests on the cover because I’m not a Romance reader, but the creativity of writers tackling this genre in unique ways of their own has provided some brilliant stories in recent years. Not all are good of course. I’m a great believer in reading samples before buying a book from a new (to me) author. Several well-known authors have written werewolf stories that hark back to those ancient legends and the dark fascination we have with them, yet the indies are the ones who break old constraints and move into new concepts of were-creatures. I couldn’t resist giving a character shapeshifting abilities in my own first Dark Fantasy novel, Dance of the Goblins, though it is not the central theme of the story.

What are some of your favourite were-creature/shapeshifter books?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anthologies and Other Wild Beasts

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been submitting short stories to anthologies recently. Several of these have come out recently or are due for release soon. The most recent is the Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes Anthology. For this one, we were challenged to write a story with a strong female protagonist. Someone who didn’t need rescuing, but was perfectly capable of rescuing herself.

Dreamtime1It was organised in the same group who put together the Dreamtime Dragons Anthology in 2017 and several of the same authors got involved. Both anthologies have some excellent stories. Mine is about a female Alchemist who lives in a tower with a miniature dragon for companionship. The king starts confiscating her equipment and she realises it’s time to leave.

Luckily she had prepared for something of the sort to happen someday. Smart girl, paying attention to what the politicians are generally up to. Her escape will take her into the Crystal Mountains, where no one goes because the territory is ruled by dragons. Big ones. Scary ones.

The thing is, I really liked the characters (both Alchemist and miniature dragon) and the set up was just begging for continuation. So, as soon as I catch up with a few other things, I’m going to be doing a new Fantasy series based on this story.

Elements1Meanwhile, a series of Horror novels based on the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) is in the process of getting released. I wrote a story for each of them and to my great joy, all were accepted! The Earth and Air volumes are available now and I’ve been really enjoying reading the other stories in my author copies. The bar was set high in these. I’m in good company.

Elements2I’ve got a few other submissions out and several more stories to write between now and January for various publications. I’m rather enjoying recapturing the art of the short story and the instant gratification that comes with finishing a complete story in a relatively short time.

Not to worry though, novels are still my first love. I’d still like to write some more in my Goblin world and I have two more planned for the Steampunk series. The Chase for Choronzon was released in August and there may be more stand alone novels to come. I’ve been settling into a pattern where I write two short stories a month and work on longer projects between, though I’m still juggling with film editing.

Keep watching this space. There is much more to come!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weekend sale!

Front125Just to introduce the newest release, I’m having a one-off sale on The Chase for Choronzon!

September 13 – 16 on Amazon and Amazon UK, grab it for only .99 and enjoy an adventure through time and space with two unlikely heroes!

A zany chase through time and space and between the worlds to put the universe back in order, if they live to accomplish their task!

The demon Choronzon was supposed to keep the gate between the worlds, but he has abandoned his post and it’s up to two reincarnated magicians, Karl Spare and Alei-Cat, to capture him and return him to his post.

A romp through time and space takes these two unlikely heroes through some harrowing portals and surreal adventures where they meet a variety of bizarre personages along the way, but there can be only one finale to the chase for Choronzon!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creating a new genre – a guest blog from Laura Perry

Have you heard of WitchLit? How to start a new genre and help support a literary charity at the same time!

Druid Life

Have you ever wondered where genres of literature come from? I’ve watched the birth of a new genre over the past year or two and I’m very excited to see where this one goes. The new genre? Witch Lit.
A lot of the time, a genre of literature comes into being when someone (or more likely several someones) realize there’s a bunch of writing out there that follows a common style, theme, or set of contents. That’s exactly what happened with Witch Lit.
The term started out in casual use, as a sort of witchy-magical version of Chick Lit – fiction with strong female characters and a heavy dose of magic and witchy-ness added in. Sometimes it was magical realism; other times it was fantasy or updated fairy tales. But the magical element and female characters held strong, regardless. I was gratified to realize that my novel The Bed fits…

View original post 482 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stories About Witches by Witches!

I’ve got a story in a new anthology called:

Witch Lit: Words From The Cauldron

WitchLitThis is a charity anthology in aid of Books For Africa, a worthy charity if ever there was one.

The Kindle book can be pre-ordered for only .99 at

Amazon.com

and

Amazon UK

23 authors and stories brimming with magic from those who know. What have you got to lose?

Pre-order today!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August Release Set

I’ve been busy.

Front125Apart from short story contributions to anthologies, I’ve been finishing off a non-fiction project, Echoes of Ganesha. I set a July deadline, but it’s out now in both paperback and all E-book forms. So, I’m on top of things!

I have one short story yet to write on my project list, but it isn’t due until October, around the same time that Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes will be coming out. I don’t have a cover to show for that just yet, but it’s in progress. I’m not in control of the anthology but I’ve had input into choosing the effects to use on the cover image along with several other authors.

Front125I’ve committed to catch up on film work this month, but I’m slowly easing back into my next fiction release, The Chase for Choronzon. This one is more than half done, so I anticipate having it ready well in time for release on Friday, 9th August!

I’ll be bouncing between writing and film work between now and then, shifting the main focus as required. I have loads more projects in planning stages or even partially written, but I’m trying not to give myself specific deadlines for them for the moment. Too many can get stressful!

Meanwhile as you plan your summer holidays, you might want to consider taking along paperback copies of the Goblin series! These are on sale direct from Lulu.com. Dance of the Goblins, Demoniac Dance and Power of the Dance are all 30% off through May!

Series

I also have a new series brewing in the background. This one was inspired by the story I wrote for the Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes anthology. No it’s not related to my goblins or anything else I’ve written before. All I’ll say for now is dragons feature highly.

The characters who came to life in the short story felt like they were just getting started and had many great adventures ahead, so this is in a development phase. How long it will take to write the first book is anyone’s guess. I’ll be finishing Choronzon first and then I would like to continue my second Steampunk book, which has a few early chapters already written.

This one is titled The Winds of Winter Storms and features Mister Bale from The Wake of the Dragon and perhaps a few other familiar characters from that story, including a certain aerialist cat. Somehow what was meant to be a stand alone novel has blossomed into another trilogy!

Well I couldn’t just leave Mister Bale where he was, could I?

Posted in Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, short stories, Steampunk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deadlines, Short Stories and Worthy Charities

I mentioned last blog that I’ve been writing a couple of short stories. Well, this seems to have escalated and I find myself writing several short stories, mostly for charitable causes that I believe in.

I’m not a big fan of big charities as much of the money donated tends to go for admin and keeping the charity itself going, but there are a few exceptions.

WaterAidIf you’ve been following me you’ll know I contributed to both the 2013 and 2014 volumes of Of Words and Water, which contributes all proceeds to WaterAid and is actually available free on Smashwords. It encourages donations directly to the charity.

ddragonsSince then I’ve contributed to the Dreamtime Dragons Fantasy Anthology which donates all profits to the Abington Ferret Refuge and have had stories accepted for Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, a Fantasy anthology of stories about strong female protagonists, due out in October 2019 with all proceeds to go to Big Cat Sanctuary in the USA.

I’ve also had one accepted for The Witch Lit Anthology with all proceeds donated to the literacy charity Books for Africa. This one is to be released 21 June, 2019.

Apart from that, I’ve submitted to a Steampunk anthology that is not for a charity and plan to submit to two other commercial ventures, the first with a March deadline and the other due in October. I have my eye on another Fantasy anthology that supports a cancer charity that I would very much like to support.

books2019Meanwhile, I’ve been setting deadlines for a few books. The immediate ones are for Echoes of Ganesha, which I would like to have at least the first draft finished by the end of March. I plan to release in July, so thought getting that far much earlier would be in order. This one is non-fiction, about the popularity of and Western Magical approaches to working with Ganesha.

In fiction, I’ve set an August release date for The Chase for Choronzon. One of the commercial short stories I’m working on now has a tie-in to this one.

Do I feel pressure? Well, yes, but I work best under pressure. It’s about time I got some projects out among my writing backlog instead of channeling all my energies into film. I’ll try to keep this blog up to date with the new releases and the short stories as more are added.

Posted in Fantasy, short stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment