Tag Archives: Am Writing

Ultimum Folium

21st June saw my twelfth and final (for now, at least) paranormal novel undergo publication. Almost three years to the day from when I started writing the first, ‘Maria’s Walk,’ it represents the culmination of a self-imposed summer 2018 goal: to produce 12 well written and edited full-length horror/supernatural suspense novels in paperback and e-book formats over a 36-month period on a negligible budget.

It’s been a manic three years in which my feet have hardly touched the ground, but represents another million published words and the craft boost that milestone brings with it. Truly an expansive learning curve, and one in which it has been my distinct pleasure to find enthusiastic readers for the hard work I’ve put out.

For my ‘Ultimum Folium’ (last leaf), I’ve pulled out all the stops in efforts to provide the key positives so many of you have mentioned in kind reviews: Detailed characters to empathise with, realistic settings that draw you in, creepy scenes to raise hairs on the back of your neck, plus twists, turns and a nice climax.

Underwood’ is set in my namesake county of Devon, at a fictional village near my favourite among the beloved country of the two rivers. The overarching theme of the novel is the power and importance of forgiveness, and the self-harm with which unreleased offences infect the unwary. Taking a leaf out of the Old Testament, it revolves around vengeance enacted by the wronged spirits of a deserted village decimated during The Black Death. Their retribution manifests against the living in the present day based on generational guilt.

Readers of my other works know I often portray modern British life as it stands; observed from different angles and character biases, without personal comment or judgement. Above all, I like to write engaging stories with interesting messages and ideas. I’ve no interest in preaching or putting over a socio-political agenda of any kind. That would betray my audience, looking to enjoy an escapist read. Underwood is a ghost story about past wrongs brought up in the present day – nothing more. That its message applies to topical and newsworthy twenty-first century behaviour humans should have outgrown 6,000 years ago, is a sad indictment upon participants in such activities. Or as variations on the old quotation have it: ‘Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.’

So what happens next? Well, ‘Devon’s Dozen’ – as I refer to the novels – will remain. With twelve titles, eager readers have plenty to choose from. I haven’t ruled out writing another at a later date. But, now this initial goal has been achieved, my onward literary plans involve the long-term development of a series in a different genre. To avoid confusion, those books will be released under a Nom de plume and not linked with my British Horror Fiction.

If you’re new to my work but have enjoyed what you’ve read so far, please check the ‘Titles’ page for a look at what else is available.

Thank you so much, one and all. It’s been a thrilling – if fast paced – journey.

Best wishes and happy reading!

Devon.

For Her Eyes Only

My tenth horror/supernatural thriller/suspense novel, ‘Dead Eyes,’ focuses on a jilted bride who develops the ability to connect with the victims of a murderous, deranged psychopath at the moment of their demise. She literally sees and experiences what they are going through. This unfortunate twist, combined with a fresh sensitivity to other souls left behind after death, overshadows her attempts at recovery from a true annus horribilis.

The character of Gillian Crane was a delightful protagonist to write. Born into privilege, yet from a down-to-earth family, she has struck out on her own to seek independence and build a new life. When that new life falls apart after her supposed wedding day, Gillian faces the challenge of returning home single with her tail between her legs. This adds to the inner turmoil caused by those aforementioned paranormal experiences.

Readers of previous works sometimes comment on how much they enjoy the ‘friend’ characters in my books. Deborah Rowling, Gillian’s bestie who she met after moving to Hampshire, will no doubt delight in a similar fashion. Banter between the pair buoys up what could otherwise sink into a morbid and depressing tale.

I usually write antagonists who are complex and multi-layered, rather than cartoon villains. Simon Sloane, AKA ‘Banjo,’ continues that tradition. This insane child turned adult serial killer spirals further into madness as the story rolls on. There were two specific challenges to address here:

FIRST: A key component in his unravelling life is the misremembered perception of past events. For a novel written in the third person, I had to take that classic device, ‘the unreliable narrator,’ and fiddle with it to offer the reader clues that what they are being TOLD happened during his youth, may not be entirely accurate. The important issue is to neither confuse people nor make them feel cheated once the truth is revealed. Hopefully there are sufficient giveaways to arouse suspicions that Banjo’s memory is skewed according to a false narrative regarding his sister.

SECOND: Because Banjo’s mother is also insane and treats him with constant rage and contempt, it was important the audience not develop too much sympathy for the guy. Like many ‘wicked people,’ he’s a mixture of light, shade, physiology and breeding. The sickening actions he takes against innocent victims in vicarious vengeance over his departed sibling, should be enough to distance anyone from the tormented aspects of his obvious and all-pervasive mental illness.

When it came to locations, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire provided ideal main settings. Gillian grew up in Great Missenden, the daughter of a self-made multi-millionaire father and society dame mother. After moving away, she sets up home in a rented garret above a gallery in Alresford, a short distance from Winchester. As with previous works, I’ve incorporated many real-life locations, some genuine businesses and events (albeit used fictitiously) plus local English history and culture. These are woven together around a plot that moves from the mundane and believable to switch gears and ramp up the tension.

From Halloween to Christmas, horror and heartbreak, to ghosts, gore, good friends, old souls in limbo, a warped villain and multiple mysteries (plus the world’s most adorable spaniel); you’ll find it all wrapped up with a neat bow at the end.

Dead Eyes’ will be available in Paperback and Kindle formats from 5th December. The Kindle version will release at a mega-discount price for the first few days. Anyone who pre-orders the title is guaranteed to receive this price.

Way beyond Country Dancing

Well, it’s about that time again, Folks: the release of another novel.

It’s been a busy year since I sat down to write my first foray into the horror genre, ‘Maria’s Walk.’ On 27th June my fourth title, ‘Maypole,’ will take its place among the growing collection.

As a child at a small Kent primary school in the 1970s, country dancing classes were a regular part of our curriculum. Weaving together a new tale that folds in a lot of different folklore about Maypoles and their origin has been a great joy. These traditions are found across Europe and consequently travelled to the new world. I’ve examined associations from the Axis Mundi to dubious claims of phallic symbolism and everything in between. In the book, I draw out links with Yggdrasil and Norse mythology upon which to ground the mythos that leads to the inevitable, dramatic climax. And what a climax it is. I had a lot of fun with this one; not least of all because I got to blow stuff up. There are chases, escapes, a helicopter crash, Demonic imps manipulating children in a state of temporal flux, and an inter-dimensional showdown with a mythical spirit dragon. All that wrapped in a love story sitting on a theme of loss and transience that dispels the illusion of permanence. Phew!

If you’ve not read any of my work before but enjoyed titles like ‘The Magic Cottage’ and ‘Creed’ by the late, great James Herbert, you might find this story entertaining. However, if the magical environments, energy blasts and multi-dimensional transforming monsters of those books gave you a problem, ‘Maypole’ probably won’t be your cup of tea either. I know some people prefer tales of a more subtle nature and are quite concerned with their horror feeling ‘believable.’ I understand that, and like a well-written, subtle ghost story myself. What’s scarier than something so very close to the everyday, yet just beyond it in a way that feels like it might happen to you? Great stuff. However, I also enjoy outrageous fantasy horror (albeit set in the real world) with pace, action and heart. That’s more along the lines of my work in the genre.

For readers of my previous books: if you loved the magic battle at the pond in ‘Nevermere,’ then this new title should be right up your street.

As with its predecessors, ‘Maypole’ will be available in Paperback and Kindle formats.

Embracing my inner Tom Sawyer

Over the last week I’ve been forcing myself away from the computer. One of those counter-intuitive but necessary moments of space writers sometimes need.

Another first draft in the bag, I decided to replace a few garden fence panels and give the entire span a few coats of paint. Whenever I conduct an activity like this, I can’t help but make a mental connection with Mark Twain’s classic work, ‘Tom Sawyer.’ I imagine most people who grew up with the book will never forget that iconic scene where Aunt Polly forces Tom to whitewash the fence rather than go off to play. In a stroke of pure genius, he manages to not only get all the neighbourhood kids to paint the thing for him, he markets the idea in such a way they offer up their treasured items to pay him for the privilege. Either I need to work on my interpersonal and child exploitation skills, or I’m too much of an introvert. Yes, I painted the thing myself.

With nicer weather now present, I’m dividing the next couple of weeks between early morning gardening and later edits on the upcoming novel. As a true Heinlein disciple, I didn’t stop working during the fence episode of course. Outlining on the next book began once the manual labour was done each day. Robert Heinlein’s six rules are the bread and butter of how I tend to work, and they always serve me well. Technically of course, only the first five are his rules. The sixth is often added by commentators as a logical progression in this blueprint for success as a prolific author. In many ways ‘Start working on something else,’ is simply a way of re-stating rule number one: ‘You must write.’

  1. You must write.
  2. Finish what you start.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put your story on the market.
  5. You must keep it on the market until it has sold.
  6. Start working on something else.

Spring Constitutional

Every season has its fun and excitements. One thing I missed when I lived overseas, was the rhythm and variety of English seasons. Sometimes we underrate our temperate climate.

At this time of year with the blossoms coming through, warmer days and the freshness of new life in the air, it always makes me feel like a child again. There’s a certain thrill and anticipation at this turning point away from the cold, grey, dark winter days.

Here in my beautiful market town on the Swale in Kent, abundant life is shooting forth. Each morning (reasonable weather permitting) I like to take a stroll before settling down to work for the day. I have several variations on a favourite circular route, which inspired those of the lead characters back when I wrote ‘Maria’s Walk.’

This morning I happened upon a glorious Magnolia tree. My ageing phone camera didn’t do it justice, but I still thought it worth sharing the image. I’m having an ‘odds and ends’ day: spring cleaning, tweaking the website and performing basic household maintenance. It marks a pleasant respite from the manic schedule I was on to get the new book ready to fly, over the last month.

By next week I should be into outlining the fourth novel in greater detail, ready for drafting to start in April.

Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a peaceful week. One with an opportunity to enjoy nature at her finest, clothed in the breathtaking garments of spring.

Magnolia Tree

Sheep, Spooks & Spells

It was a joy to use the Cotswolds as a setting for my second horror novel, ‘Nevermere.’

I first went to this beautiful region as a child, and have been a regular visitor ever since. A keen walker, its array of interlocking sheep hills, little rivers and charming woodland valleys always lifts my spirits. Whether I’m spending a week or more renting a cottage or just a few days on a short break, the effect is ever one of rejuvenation. It’s a place I know extensively and have spent time in every season.

I always break into a smile after responding with authority to a request from a tourist for which local knowledge is essential. The typical look of incredulity when their follow-on question about how long I’ve lived there is answered, never ceases to disappoint.

Over the years I have witnessed the Cotswolds become ever more popular. The downside is that – like many pretty rural communities up and down our land – it has been the target of second home purchases by the wealthy. Well-heeled incomers have turned village locals into gastro-pubs, many of the houses sit empty of year-round residents, and local youngsters have zero chance of owning a home in the place they grew up. It’s such a talked-about topic, that I thoroughly enjoyed making my protagonists encounter these experiences first hand. The character of Bob Faringdon was especially a joy to write. It has been my pleasure to meet many wonderful, old-school Cotswold locals. ‘Nevermere’ is even dedicated to one-such chap, who grew up in a village where I rented a cottage for five years.

If you’re interested in some real-life, regional ghost stories, this is a good place to start.

Should this blog post or my second book inspire you, the Cotswolds is a fine choice for a holiday or mini-break destination. If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend it. But, please allow the region to leave its mark on you, rather than the other way around.

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A Christmas Carol

At this season, I always enjoy a re-read of Charles Dickens’ classic ghost story, ‘A Christmas Carol.’ In fact, you will often find me wandering past a former inn he used to frequent, on my way to Canterbury Cathedral for the carol service. During the long wait – necessary if you want a seat – I immerse myself once again in the yuletide tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his spooky, yet heart-warming journey to become a better man.

Dickens produced this beloved novella in 1843. It has never been out of print since. From the preface to his readers, we know we are in for a delightful ride:

‘I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book to raise the Ghost of an Idea which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful friend and servant.

C. D.

December, 1843’

In the first stave, he gets right into the plot without any flannel:

‘Marley was dead: to begin with.’

One of the most iconic story openers in history, for my money!

However you choose to celebrate the holiday season, I wish you and yours a time of peace, plenty and wellbeing. To those of you who have followed this site since its inception a couple of months ago, or even those just joining in, I appreciate your taking the time to read this. An extra special thank you goes out to readers who have purchased either of my first two indie horror novels. A third is well into the outlining stage. Writing will commence at pace in the New Year.

Merry Christmas, Folks!

Devon De’Ath.

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