Monday, 14 July 2014

The House of Three, Phobophobias and digging up old Bones

And now for the latest news (shuffles papers)...

THE HOUSE OF THREE:
A Short Story by Lily Childs

To be released in late July on Amazon, in both paperback chapbook and ebook  formats. This short ghost story has a rather personal connnection - the 'house' of the title is loosely based on my own little abode, and for that very reason I've never felt able to let it go out to another publisher. I'm finally allowing it to break loose through Ganglion Press.

Here's the back cover blurb:

An ordinary Victorian house in an ordinary English town. A house that smells of roses. A house that stinks of death.

32 Cherry Street is rotten to the core after years of neglect. When its owner dies in a freak accident successful entrepreneur Sarah Bayliss wastes no time in coming up with the cash to buy the small terraced property - her former childhood home.

Reunited with her estranged younger brother Johnny, Sarah summons the courage to unveil the secrets the house has kept hidden for so long, but nothing can prepare the siblings for the horrors they are about to uncover. Or who they're going to meet.
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  • Keep your eyes peeled for a Facebook competition to win a signed copy of THE HOUSE OF THREE chapbook
  • Ganglion Press is now on Twitter! Why not pop by and follow: @GanglionPress
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PHOBOPHOBIAS - Cover Reveal

I'm very excited that my story, BAD EXPOSURE (or 'I' is for Ipovlopsychophobia) is included in Dark Continents Publishing's forthcoming Phobophobias anthology. 

The excellent cover, by uber-talented artist James L. Powell has now been revealed!

Compiled and edited by Dean M. Drinkel, this is the second in the Phobias series and includes stories from Barbie Wilde, Tim Dry, Phil Sloman, Raven Dane, Sam Stone, Mark West, David Youngquist, Jan Edwards, Nerine Dorman, Andy Taylor, Mike Chinn, Christine Morgan, John Prescott, Daniel I Russell, Rakie Benett, Peter Mark May, Amelia Mangan, John Palisano, John Gilbert, David T Griffith, Adrian Chamberlin, Lisa Jenkins, Christopher L. Beck, Christine Dougherty, Emile-Louis Tomas Jouvet and Dean M. Drinkel.

The book is due out in August. For a taste of the horror you'll discover in this new anthology, you can still buy the first in the series, PHOBOPHOBIA in ebook or paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon.com

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OLD BONES

Lastly, in 2013 my story THE OSSILLATRICE SHIFT won the Editor's Choice Award in James Ward Kirk Publishing's anthology, BONES.

James is now compiling his 'Best Of 2013' anthology and has kindly asked if he could include The Ossillatrice Shift. Unsurprisingly - I said yes! More details as soon as I hear news.

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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Review: The Brittle Birds by Anthony Cowin

The Brittle Birds by Anthony Cowin is now available on all Amazon platforms
Anthony Cowin’s The Brittle Birds is a beautifully written story, painted with creeping webs of horror and despair. 

The underlying tale recounts the damaged relationship and lives of two brothers, their unique view of the world and their methods of dealing with its challenges – all stemming from the consequences of a harrowing childhood event. The depiction of this journey in itself is an articulate masterpiece, with Cowin addressing psychoses and trauma in a raw and almost tender way, but the overarching power of this short book is the impact of the brittle birds themselves.

The author compels readers to question myth then forces you to disregard everything you have ever perceived as truth when the terrifying brittle birds take poetic flight across the pages and into our psyches (at the very least).

The brittle birds – you’ll have your own name for them, I'm sure – are dread incarnate. And if you are as affected by the possibility of them as I, then you’ll never see the world in the same way again.

Excellent.
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The Brittle Birds, an 18 page ebook written by Anthony Cowin and published by Perpetual Motion Machine is now available on all Amazon platforms.


Read more about Anthony at: www.anthonycowin.com

Monday, 10 March 2014

Buckets In Southwark - up at Thrills Kills 'n' Chaos

A little while ago I wrote a new, twisted crime tale for the lovely David Barber's Thrills Kills 'n' Chaos ezine. And it's now up! It's called BUCKETS IN SOUTHWARK and is somewhat unpleasant, if I say so myself.

Please take a read. I'd love to hear your thoughts so do comment if you have time. Here are the opening lines...

Buckets In Southwark by Lily Childs

Cold wrists and a cold heart that barely dared beat, lest he think her willing. She let it tremble – he wasn't here today and for that she was truly grateful.

They peppered every spare space in the poorly-lit basement. She’d given up trying to count them because whenever he came down and did what he did to their tiny corpses, he’d throw them back into the room afterwards, discarding them, forgetting them until the next time he got the urge. Some lay at her broken feet now, gazing at nothing; once demure.


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A Sad Goodbye - A.J. Hayes

It was with incredible sadness that I learned of the death of one of Noir's great writers, poets, editors and mentors yesterday - A.J. Hayes, or 'Bill'. He had been privately struggling with cancer for some time, and was dealt a wicked blow when he developed pneumonia - which stole him from his loving family and friends.

I missed the opportunity to meet up with Bill a while ago and now regret it even more. Bill was a superb writer who generously took the time to read, comment on and encourage the work of others. His was the kindest of souls, and I'm sure wherever he has passed on to he'll be making 'em laugh, making everyone feel better about themselves, as he always did in life.

It was my great pleasure to publish Bill on Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers, particularly the poetic and sublime tale 'DARK GENESIS' - you can still read it at http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/dark-genesis-by-aj-hayes.html

We (the former TK'n'C editors) have also posted a TK'n'C tribute to this lovely man, and the comments that are pouring in there, and also across Facebook are testament to how he touched so many people's lives.

Bye bye Mr Bill. I'll miss you and will never forget your words, your warmth and your honesty. Good night. x

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

New 5* Review for Cabaret of Dread

Kevin Bufton put on his dancing shoes and re-entered the CABARET OF DREAD, where he tipped his hat and paid tribute to my first collection of horror.

He was kind enough to offer a generous five star review which you can read at his excellent review site, THE BLOODY, BLOODY BOOK REVIEW as well as Amazon where you can, of course, buy the book!

Here's a little excerpt.

"...she [Lily] paints with broad and sweeping colours, splattering her literary canvas with words that she has selected with such precision as to evoke the bleakness of her uniquely grim vision. It is an exercise in grandiosity, as if Books of Blood era Clive Barker went out for drinks with Trent Reznor and Ken Russell and decided to keep a journal of the occasion."

"Cabaret of Dread remains a beautiful and hideous thing, and is all the better for the re-reading."


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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Musing on Mint - You Know it Makes Scents

A hot hibiscus bloom in  Crete
I recently read an article about the importance of teasing a reader's senses by evoking taste, smell, sounds and more in fiction. I wholeheartedly concur. No point in 'this happened', 'that happened' without wailing sirens gaining pace and assaulting your ears as you slip on spilled kebab meat in a filthy street, gagging on the stench of human waste from open sewers... that kind of thing.

Using the senses should come naturally when you get totally involved with creating a character, with the places they occupy and the scenes you set. But I do occasionally read fiction that seems to lack sensation (for want of a better word) and I genuinely wonder if some writers, laziness aside, simply don't experience sensory responses the same way others do? I'm throwing that question out there...

Describing the heat of Crete, for example, comes easily to me. As soon as I start to even contemplate it my skin starts to prickle. It's like being stroked with breathless sunshine, sultry and enticing with the risk of flames. An indelicate bloom of perspiration breaks out around my hairline, tickling my forehead, dampening the nape of my neck.

With this comes a dry tongue, waiting to salivate at the sight of squid and tzatziki on an over-sized plate, a glass of chilled rosé at its side, cool condensation rising in bubbles before dripping onto the tablecloth. And most of all - it's the scent of the place that accompanies the heat; wild thyme crushed beneath your boots as you wander the raw land of the island's hills, the omnipresent salt from the sea - you can even smell it up in the mountains, and the freshness of rain evaporating after a freak summer storm.

Tzatziki and Mint
Can't you see it?

Can't you smell it?

Can't you taste it?

Indeed it is smell that is most powerful for me. They say that an unexpected waft of some long-forgotten smell can make you giddy with nostalgia, trigger distant memories - happy or otherwise. That 'involuntary memory' - Proust's well discussed madeleine from 'À la Recherche du Temps Perdu'.

I passed the open door of a community hall the other day where they were polishing the wooden floor; I was instantly taken back to my childhood - dancing away at a holiday camp on Barry Island (crackin'). And last month a decrepit truck blasted me with dirty diesel-laden exhaust fumes but it got me thinking about the old Mr Whippy ice-cream van that used to tour our streets when I was a kid; you could smell the chugging engine before the discordant song announced its arrival.

But what about the bad memories? The stink of piss - thankfully not a common assault of the senses these days - reminds me of getting stuck in a public toilet at the age of thirteen or so, when two men came bundling into the cubicle beside me, beating each other to a pulp, their blood splattering over the cold tiles between our booths. Terrifying - I still feel traumatised by it even now.

And you'd think a pleasant fragrance should evoke equally pleasant memories but I came to regret buying a well-known brand's Raspberry Handwash because it smells of Cinzano (I've never had a real raspberry that smells of that weird old vermouth), and Cinzano was the first booze I ever puked on. A silly 16-year old, hanging out of my friend's bedroom window, making a mess (sorry J.) So this soap immediately makes me feel stupid and not a little humiliated. That's the power of a single whiff of (probably horribly chemical) scent.

All that said, I have what I'm told is an uncanny ability to actually smell/taste any scent you might care to mention. Immediately. Name a flower, for example, and its flavour is right there, in my nose, at the back of my throat, on the tip of my tongue - bringing all the emotions and qualities I associate with it too. I sometimes wonder if I have a mild form of olfactory synaesthesia. It's come in handy - I used to practise as an aromatherapist - but was using oils, herbs, gums, essences etc for years before taking any qualifications.

I've been making incense for meditation and other spiritual work for decades. Getting the blend right is a skill, but I find it comes naturally; there are rules about which perfume 'notes' blend best with others, and of course curative properties are also a consideration.
Ancient rose

Here are some of my favoured, and some more traditional ingredients for incense and oil blends, and what they mean to me:
  • Frankincense: soft, rich yet mellow, the oil is thick... viscous. The hard 'tears' - like little sugar-coated rocks of ginger which release the warm, heady fragrance as you grind them with your pestle. Frankincense heightens spiritual and sensorial awareness; it's meditational ambrosia.
  • Chamomile: has to me the pungent, unpleasant scent of banana skins in a rubbish bin, dropped onto the detritus of an emptied ashtray. Many therapists swear by it but I find it hard to work with. We're not keen on each other.
  • Mint: sharp peppermint is cooling in hot weather - of skin and of temperament. Sweet spearmint helps lift the soul, gently waking the tired and softly soothing the tearful.
  • Cedarwood: graveyards in Autumn (Fall), a smokiness to its perfume, a cleansing, decluttering quality to its intent
  • Cypress: coniferous pleasure; sweet and bold. It's all about breaking free, taking flight, soaring into empty blue skies. Letting go.
  • Rose: we all know what rose smells like... this most wondrous of flowers offers the deepest of meanings for me; ancient healing, visions of vaults brimming with petals. A restorative in - and for - every sense. Forget love, rose is for the self, for feeding your blood - your life-force, for nurturing the darkest corners of your spirit, bringing you the confidence to 'be yourself'.

    True attar of roses, or 'rose absolute' costs a fortune - but is worth a thousand times more to the soul than monetary value.

    And if you like your food spicy, use Rose Harissa in couscous, or to marinate meat/vegetables - allowing you to ingest this blessed bloom. Ah, I can smell it just thinking about it.

I'm rambling, as I am wont to do, but the point I'm trying to make from a writing perspective is that using the senses to reach your reader is not only an important but a powerful tool.

Whether prosaic and wistful or in-yer-face grit, whether summoning that oddly-cheesey stench of blueberry flesh as it bursts on the tongue, or fielding the foetid, death-breath reek of rotting gums as a zombie bears down on its victim... if you can smell the fear, let your readers in on the sensation too - don't make them sniff it out for themselves.

Monday, 17 February 2014

OUT NOW! February Femmes Fatales - the Book!

Ooh, this month has been an exciting one with a frenzy of work going on to make sure February Femmes Fatales - the book - would make it onto Amazon's shelves before February itself was over. And we did it!

I owe the astoundingly sharp-eyed Absolutely*Kate Pilarcik a massive, public THANK YOU for her perfect proofreading. Thousands of miles apart we may be but we worked together to make sure everything sparkled.

"So where can I buy February Femmes Fatales, with its sixty-eight morsels of darkest fiction and poetry by twenty-three mistresses of crime, horror, noir and the supernatural?" I hear you scream.

Well, I shall tell you...

BUY FEBRUARY FEMMES FATALES IN PAPERBACK



BUY FEBRUARY FEMMES FATALES FOR KINDLE


The book is available in both formats across all Amazon platforms.

Thank you to those who've already bought the book - if you enjoyed it, we'd love to read your Amazon review!

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Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.