My Writing Process

There’s a new meme doing the rounds and this is it. I was tagged by talented  author Catherine Cavendish – author of the dark and spooky (do go check her out, that link on her name works!). She challenged me to answer a few questions about my writing. So here goes…

The Three Usual Suspects at Waterstones York

The Three Usual Suspects at Waterstones York (L: Julia Kavan R: Cat Cavendish Seated: Me)

What am I working on?

It would be easier really to say what I am not working on. My writing has led me off in different directions and whilst I wouldn’t claim to be a polymath there are times I feel ever so slightly like an emerging polymathette (if anything ending in -ette can be so physically large! Maybe a couchette? In leatherette?).


Blood of the Gods

Embed from Getty Images

Have I had some terrific feedback on this from test readers! But, to date, the agents I have approached, whilst commending my writing, say they wouldn’t have a clue how to sell it. If you’ve ever read Anne Rice‘s vampire books, or Joanne Harris‘s Sleep, Pale Sister, then you’ll have a teeny weeny idea of what Blood of the Gods is. I have combined ancient Rome and the god-emperors with a dreamy, dark, parallel world of bad business in the present day. And my vampire is, well, let’s say traditional (ie. no sparkles and no hint of empathy with mankind) and different, too. I continue to seek a suitable lair for this but will wait for the right offer as it has been a labour of love and a result of which I am proud.



Glass prison

My first foray into the psycho-sexual, written together with author Julia Kavan. I write the part of a troubled psychiatrist, Julia the part of a disturbed young woman who enters his life. There were times we doubted we would get to the end without one of us killing the other, but here we are. It was a great experience – I hope for Julia, too – and has produced a tight, chilling tale that almost all readers have loved. I say almost because one said it was too disturbing to finish – and that was such a compliment! As with Blood of the Gods, we are looking for a suitable institution to take this one forward.


Massacre Magazine

Human hand with blood

Click to see on Amazon


Click Image

Click to see on Amazon


Alert: Overuse of the word ‘proud’. But I am. We are. Of this new venture. What Julia and I realised was that the established publishing world seems afraid to touch real horror, and this means that there a good writers of it not being published. So we had the idea to produce a new magazine which would take only the edgiest of submissions, the stories that push the boundaries, and instead of trying to make money out of it simply use it as a vehicle for exposing horror writers we think deserve a chance. We’ve had some terrific stuff in the first two editions and just wait until you see what’s in Issue 3 next month! Our thanks to all those who have subbed from all over the world – and thanks to those who have published with us. There is still lots to do, but progress is sound and the feedback positive.



Italian flag

My little eBook – rather an ePamphlet – The A-Z of Understanding Italians has been such a success that I have decided finally to write my semi-autobiographical novel about the hiarious adventures of a struggling ex-pat estate agent in Italy. Yes, this was the book I wanted to write in 2008 and was told by ‘those who know’ not to bother. Well, I reckon they were wrong. The reaction to A-Z has astonished me and that’s market research in my book. So, right now this new one has the working title Mozzarella and Mayhem and is in the early stages. Watch this space.


Humanist Funerals

It seemed to me that as I enjoy writing stories, and it was suggested to me that I could ghost write family stories/autobiographies, that I could probably do something useful and rewarding with this skill that I seem to have. You know, I have always fancied being a cardinal or bishop, but being an atheist is rather a block to that. So when I saw that the British Humanist Association was looking for new funeral celebrants I was almost defeaned by the bells ringing. If you want to know more about this side of my life please visit my other website:


How does my work differ from others?

It’s mine! (Well, except when half is Julia’s).


Why do I write what I do?

Because I am what I am. I think the love of horror comes from being forced to attend Catholic Mass as a child. Such blood lust and cannibalism.

Some people don't understand Romanicism


How does my writing process work?
Embed from Getty Images

It’s a reflection of my own life: three steps forward, two back. I stagger around bumping into ideas and try to keep them in my head for a time when they might come in useful. I lay awake at night worrying about a new novel and only when I feel I have a decent idea do I begin to write anything down. Then I try to be strict, by starting at 9am (ish) and not stopping until I have written at least 1,000 words each day. Some days I manage more, but rarely. I can’t leave a crap sentence on the page/screen, you see. I read published books with lines like, “She sat up and threw her legs off the bed,” and “His eyes bounced off the top of the cupboard.” Well, sorry and all that, but it is crap writing and doesn’t get near my second draft. I tend to turn in on myself and woe betide anyone who disturbs me just as the right word is emerging.


Now I have to tag two more authors. Here you go:

Julia Kavan

Xavier Leret


One Lovely Blog Award

Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean it isn’t lovely!

Lovely Blog Award The highly energetic Ally Shields is to thank for my prestigious award. Thanks, Ally! Please make sure you nip over to her website:

Along with this award, I’ve accepted three conditions. The first is link back to Ally – no problem there – and the second is to reveal seven things about myself. What, another seven? I seem to be doing this rather often these days. Okay, here we go…


I’m an obsessive checker. Before I leave the house I check all the appliances are turned off, windows and doors locked. Then I go round and check again. And again. Sometimes, after locking myself out, I let myself back in again to check one more time. Sometimes, I get as far as the car then go back for just a last check. Very occasionally I will drive away then just pop back to make absolutely sure.


Bookstore Dalek

Bookstore Dalek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think you all know about my Dalek suit, but my other treasure when I was a child was a shiny, black, plastic Beatles wig. I should have looked after it better actually as it would come in handy now.




Whilst I can’t say the film is among my favourites, CHUCKY will always be a part of me. Some of you know my nickname is Chukkie (usually mispelled as Chucky). It’s a term of endearment that my son lavished on me when he first learned to speak, and it’s stuck. According to my mood I can be Cheerful Chukkie, Cheeky Chukkie or Silly Chukkie. Not very PC, I know, but one Chinese New Year as I donned appropriate costume I was called Chinkee Chukkee.


One thing I cannot be is Churchie Chukkie! I am a Humanist and am currently training to be a funeral celebrant. I love it, to be honest. If you want to know more about the subject, here’s a link to the British Humanist Assocation.



I hate both broccoli and cauliflower. They make me heave.



The film Mary Poppins is about the only movie guaranteed to make me cry. I know, pathetic, isn’t it? And me a horror writer.

Mary Poppins (film)

Mary Poppins (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I once went round a revolving door the wrong way at the Waldorf Hotel in London’s Aldwych.

Waldorf Hilton in Aldwych

Waldorf Hilton in Aldwych (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wondered why the bloody thing was so stiff, but only realised what I’d done as I fell into the foyer and heard some guy mutter, “What a twat.” Well, ’tis why my other nickname is Clouseau.


Now for the last condition, I’m passing the award to these worthy and distinguished authors/supporters:

Rupert Smith

Julia Kavan

Elin Gregory

Alexandra Weston

Susan Roebuck

Catherine Cavendish

Jan Marshall

They’re not all horror, but I recommend checking them out!

Thanks for dropping in.


The Horror of Living in a Box

English: Chatteris Way, Lower Earley Part of t...

English: Chatteris Way, Lower Earley Part of the very large estate of private sector housing but close to its southern extremity. This is part of Earley, a town in its own right within the borough of Wokingham, but, in essence, a suburb of Reading. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the UK government is finally waking up to the fact that new homes which have been built in recent decades are too small for comfort (see the news item at BBC). This is good news, but much overdue. There are minimum standards for social housing, but not for the private sector. What does this mean?

Well, private housebuilders are in it for profit and by literally cutting corners off your house they can make more money. What you get is, you’ll be told, a house you couldn’t otherwise afford, but can you actually live in it in any sane and humane way?

There are new houses not far from where I live which have bedrooms too small to cope with anything other than a bed – forget the luxuries like bedside table and wardrobe! So bedroom 2 becomes a dressing room, except once the wardrobe is in you’d have to stand out on the landing to fasten your trousers or skirt. Some ‘single bedrooms’ are barely bigger than  the intended single bed, so where does anyone put clothes or the personal items that civilised life requires? Bathrooms have shrunk, too, as if someone forgot to pre-shink the material. Toilets are squeezed in to the narrowest of places so that the very purpose for which they are intended is impossible to all but the skeletal. In these vestibules of ablution a hot bath is the preserve of the amputee or vertically challenged.

Entrance halls once housed a cupboard for outer wear, a telephone table and, more often than not, storage under the stairs. Now you almost have to remove your overcoat before you can close the outer door.

You’ll notice that things like electric fires are becoming thin and flat, like televisions. This is to give adults the chance to be able to sit on the sofa and stretch their legs out without setting fire to their feet – but only if the sofa is jammed hard against the back wall so that anyone else in the room must negotiate the half-reclining parents like a heron picking its way through reed beds. And don’t trip, or you’ll split your head open on the opposite wall which is not quite the height of a human away.



English: Eric Pickles, British politician and ...

English: Eric Pickles, British politician and Chairman of the Conservative Party, at the Health Hotel “Health Zone” at the Manchester Central Conference Centre during the Conservative Party Conference 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Only a few days ago the not-so-svelte Eric Pickles said that new houses should have a cupboard outside in which to hide the ghastly refuse bins. Yes, I can agree with that, it is something that much of Europe has always done. But while he cringes at having to see his empties – of which I am sure there are many – some people would give their right arms to have a cupboard to put their wanted belongings in. Some would be glad to have a bin store to sleep in.


Living in too small a space – and it is worsened where the ceilings are so low that a fart with the windows shut can require the services of a glazier – does people’s heads in. These shoe boxes of misery are the modern day House of Horror.

There’s just no room for the candelabra, parties and ghosts.




Porca Miseria! #SampleSunday

It is so long since I offered a Sunday Sample. So here we are. A little bit from my naughty A-Z of Understanding Italians which, amazingly, has been a bestseller on all month! Hopefully it will raise a titteretto or two.


Italian flag


Exclusively from Amazon, and free to borrow through Amazon Prime


D is for Driving. It is often said that Italians are the worst drivers in Europe. I am not absolutely sure about this but I can fully understand the sentiment.  I knew an elderly Athenian, a well-to-do Greek who had travelled the world, who told me once that he would not drive outside Greece because it was unfair to inflict Greek driving on innocent countries. His wife was half Italian so I must presume that he had some experience of her driving. Nevertheless, put an Italian behind the wheel of a car (same applies to a white van or an articulated lorry) and you would be forgiven for thinking that their brains are switched off as the ignition is switched on. Let me give you a few random examples.

You are happily driving along a peaceful country road in perfect conditions, excellent visibility and observing the speed limit. Not a vehicle in front of you, nor behind. Far in the distance you can see from the trail of dust that a vehicle is plying its way along a white road in the general direction of the road you are travelling along. It’s about a kilometre away, you can see because you have just come over the brow of a hill and the white road is in the bottom of an extremely wide valley. You think no more of it and continue your gentle and picturesque descent.  You become aware that the other car, you can now make out that it is a maroon coloured Panda, has reached the end of the white road. It doesn’t move. It just sits there. You assume that the driver has no wish to join the main road as there is more than enough time to get in front of you and if he were going to turn toward you he wouldn’t have to consider your approach at all. You keep half an eye on the Panda now that you are aware of it but there is no movement of any kind as you gradually draw closer and closer. Soon you can make out the driver, a small elderly man in a trilby and dark blue quilted body warmer, despite the outside temperature being thirty-five degrees Celsius. He’s looking towards you intently, hands firmly on top of the steering wheel. Your instinct causes you to brake slightly but he shows no signs of moving in any direction. The distance between you and him is now narrowing and soon you are content that it’s safe to ignore him since he would not now have time to get in front of you. One hundred metres, fifty metres, twenty-five metres, fifteen metres, ten metres. Just as you are almost level with the edge of the white road the Panda leaps forward right into your path and you are forced to swerve in order to miss it. Your nearside wheels hit the verge and at one point seem to be in mid-air while you hang on for dear life and try to guide your car between the roadside kilometre marker and the bonnet of the Panda. You clear the obstacles and stop the car. Trembling you get out, as much to check on the old bugger as anything else, and walk towards his car which is stopped askew in the middle of the road. You see that he is waving his arms about and you are worried that he may be in shock. As you approach he leans out of the window and shouts ‘Arsehole, you want to look where you’re going!’ and drives off.