The Next Big Thing

I was recently tagged by Catherine Cavendish to participate in The Next Big Thing, where authors answer ten questions about their current works in progress. If you haven’t read Cat’s post about what she’s working on now, jump over to her blog to take a look. I love her stories:


Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish

In turn, I tagged dark fiction writer extraordinaire, Julia Kavan. Julia’s post will go up on her blog on 12th December, so be sure to go over and read it:


Julia Kavan

Julia Kavan


So thanks, Cat, for asking me what I’m up to with my writing. Here it is:


The Three Usual Suspects at Waterstones York

The Three Usual Suspects at Waterstones York


What is the working title of your book?

I Love You To Bits

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Like all ideas, from my head 😉 I kid you not. I don’t want to risk being sectioned or labelled as a psychopath, but…every day and week and month that goes by I fall more in love with my partner. Sometimes it hurts and makes me realise how close pain and pleasure are, that a very fine line separates them. The book explores seeking the ultimate act of love to achieve the most intense feelings possible.

What genre does your book fall under?

Horror. Of the psychological kind. (Maybe that should be unkind?)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m afraid  my top choices are all dead: James Mason, Vincent Price and Donald Pleasence. If that rules them out and I have to choose from the living…Sam Worthington, Christian Bale and Javier Bardem.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I hate writing synopses. Pass!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

That’s an odd question because it presumes there are only those two options – and that’s not true. Just because an author doesn’t have an agent doesn’t mean his/her books have to be self-published. Many authors are published by legitimate publishers without having an agent. I am one of those authors. I’ll be honest, I would like to have a good agent and am always on the look for someone who likes my work enough to want to work with me, but if I can’t find that partner then I will continue to work with publishers directly. I have no plans to self-publish the book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ll let you know when it’s finished. A novel in general takes me about a year; I don’t believe a novel of any real value can be rushed out in a few days and am always astonished when I see writers claiming they have done so.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

None. I’m sure there is one but I haven’t found it yet. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can look it up.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My partner of fifteen years.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Anyone fed up with ‘horror lite’ should enjoy the challenge and the pushing of the boundaries of acceptability. The human mind can be far more worrying than any monster.

Susan Roebuck is EPIC



Susan Roebuck has written two very different books and both have been finalists in the EPIC eBook Awards.

Sue’s first published novel, Perfect Score (non-explicit m/m suspense), is published by Awe-Struck Publishing was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards in the Mainstream category and also received an Honorable Mention in the General Fiction category of the 2011 Rainbow Awards.



Her second book, a novella, Hewhay Hall (dark thriller/horror), was published in April 2012 by Etopia Press and she’s just heard that it’s a finalist in the 2013 EPIC eBook Awards in the Horror category.


Steve: Welcome back, Sue, and congratulations again.


Sue: Thank you, and thank you for inviting me today, Steve!


Steve: Do you have a favourite character you have written? Who and why?


Sue: It has to be Sam from “Perfect Score”. This is what one of my reviewers, Lena Grey, said (she sums him up better than I can): Life knocked him down so much that anyone of lesser moral quality would have given up, but not Sam. Every time he’s knocked down he rises like the Phoenix from the ashes. Sam’s an amazing combination of strength, intelligence, gentleness and forthrightness; in the face of injustice, whether for a person or an animal, Sam’s there on his white horse ready to do battle.


Steve: Who was the toughest character for you to “get right”?


Sue: It has to be the demon Slater in “Hewhay Hall”. He’s a creature who’s seen differently depending on who’s looking at him. He personalizes himself to whatever your fantasy is. But he does have a proper physical appearance that is too horrible to write here J


Steve: Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.


Sue: I’m British and I live in Portugal. My husband’s Portuguese so I have dual nationality. And I’m totally addicted to doing Sudoku and Codeword puzzles.


Steve: What is the most recent novel you have read that you would recommend?


Sue: “The Man Who Rained” by Ali Shaw. It’s set in a backwater (probably in the UK) in a place called Thunderstown where the weather comes to life. The plot’s an amazing concept of imagination.



Steve: What have you in the wings for your readers to look forward to?


Sue: Perfect Score was set in the US; Hewhay Hall in the UK. My new work is set in Portugal and is about injustice and corruption – a regular theme in my novels. In this suspense story, you’ll be flung into two fishermen’s lives and there’s a female bullfighter who struts arrogantly about the pages until you want to slap her!


Steve: We expats and ex-expats have so much to draw on, don’t we! Now, where can readers find you?


Sue: Here you go –







Here is an EXCERPT from Hewhay Hall:


The Cross-Keys Pub was not the comfy and warm snug that romantic tourists dream about. No fire crackled in a welcoming hearth; no frequent customers kept their own personalized tankards above the bar. No carpet adorned the grease-impregnated, creaking floorboards, and the publican was no ever-attentive, apple-cheeked individual polishing glasses. He was as indifferent to his customers as he was to the cobwebs dangling from the liquor bottles on the shelves behind him. Sunken eyes in a cadaverous face darted everywhere but at Jude, who perched on one of the hard wooden bar stools.

“You mean the phone’s out of order too?” Jude asked, frustration at the lack of signal on his cell phone and now this new information making his voice high with disbelief.

For a long moment, the publican didn’t budge from resting his elbows on the bar, and his expression didn’t change until a light sparked in his otherwise dull eyes. He glanced at the public phone in the corner and shrugged his shoulders to show it was dead too.


Buy links for Hewhay Hall:

Barnes and Noble



Buy link for Perfect Score: Amazon

Guest Author: Evie Manieri

Evie Manieri

Evie Manieri graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Mediaeval History and Theatre, disciplines that continue to influence her work in about equal measure. She is enthralled by intricacy, and when not weaving together the threads of her plots, she can be found knitting airy lace shawls and singing soprano with New York’s Renaissance Street Singers. Evie lives with her family in New York.

Just Hang On to that Other Shoe

I worry the most when things are going well, and for this I blame the thousands of stories I’ve stuffed into my head over the years. We all know the tropes: a tastefully nude couple in bed in broad daylight, gazing at each other while gauzy drapes blow in an ocean breeze; a schoolyard of children laughing in slow–motion; a doting father making home movies of his adorable toddler. In fantasy, you brace yourself if the story opens on a happy kingdom with a benevolent leader, a sagacious order of wizards using their powers for good, or an ostentatiously ordinary boy nestled in his family’s pastoral bosom. These are ideal moments that exist in fiction only to be shattered; they provide explosive motivation for the protagonist to get out there and do what needs doing. It’s a handy and serviceable device, but it’s not my favorite way to propel a story.

I work very hard not to live my life as if I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. If I don’t, the next thing I know I’ve disappeared down the rabbit–hole of ‘silent killer’ diseases, home invasions and doomsday cults. In order to get out of bed in the morning, I need to remind myself that every day people face disasters and losses that in fiction would be the justification for all sorts of wild behavior, and yet in real life they continue to go to work, take care of their kids and do their laundry. That’s just what most people do. They’re magnificent that way.

Over the dangerous warrior with nothing left to lose, I’ll take the person who’s inadvertently dislodged an orange from the bottom of the pyramid at the grocery store and is trying to stuff it back in before the whole thing comes tumbling down. That’s a struggle I can really relate to – the heroic attempt to hold together something just as precious as it is precarious. This kind of story may lack the wish–fulfillment of being handed permission to chuck everything aside in pursuit of a single goal without regard for anything or anyone else, but in the end, I think it’s a lot more satisfying.

Evie’s novel, Blood’s Pride, is published by Jo Fletcher Books

See Evie Manieri’s blog tour in full:

Monday 17th September “Favourite Characters”
Tuesday 18th  “Blueberries”
Wednesday 19th “Monomania”
Thursday 20th “The Other Shoe”
Friday 21st  “Midlife”

Dreams and Nightmares – Julia Kavan

Julia Kavan


As a kid I read horror story upon horror story and had a shelf full of horror anthologies in my room. I hoped that one day I might have my own story included in a collection – one of those childhood dreams that I put aside for a while.  It’s taken some time I know, but I got there in the end.

Today sees the official release of the horror anthology Touched by Darkness, published by Etopia Press, including my short, erotic horror story, Dreaming, Not Sleeping. I have my copy on my Kindle already and can’t wait to dive in and start reading the rest of the stories.


Purchase From Amazon

It was a thrill to see my name on the cover on my Kindle, and I can’t wait to hold the paperback in my hands when it is released in October!

My thanks to Steve, for having me here today and for the “For God’s sake, get on with it” words of encouragement.

Find me:

Meet My Moderatrix (A booQfest update)


On 16th September, as most of you will now be aware, I am appearing at the Northampton booQfest. I’ll be talking about horror, reading from Diavolino, answering questions and signing books. The moderatrix is my friend and fellow horror author Julia Kavan. With just a week to go I thought it would be a good time to drag her in here so that you can get to know her a little bit.


Be afraid, very afraid: Moderatrix

S: Welcome, Julia. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that you had been chosen to crack the whip at my event at booQfest. How did you pull this off?
J: I originally approached Morgen Bailey when I heard about booQfest, to offer my help with either promoting the event or perhaps doing something practical at the booQfest itself, as Northampton isn’t too far away from where I live. I also mentioned I’d be stopping by to hear you speak…  a few days later Daniel Burrows contacted me with the idea of me moderating your session. So, I was just as surprised to be asked as you were to find I was the one assigned to keep in you in line…erm, I mean moderate your session. (Where did I put that whip?)

S: That’ll teach you! I feel honoured to have been asked to speak at this event, especially with so many well-known writers about the place. To tell the truth, my nerves are starting to surface. I’m not quite horrified, but I can sense traces of mild terror. Are you all cool, calm and collected, ready to put down any daring hecklers?
J: As an experienced tutor I am used to speaking in front of people… although it’s been a while since I’ve done so as I’ve been concentrating on my own writing over the last couple of years. I’m certain that the audience will be friendly.

S: I’ll hold you to that. The Festival celebrates gay and lesbian authors (local and national) and their writing. This years’ booQfest is also reaching out to a wider audience so that other local writers can use it as a platform to publicise their work even if they do not directly identify with the LGBT community. Do you think there are enough opportunities nationwide for new or local or niche writers to showcase themselves and their work? If not, what would you like to see taking place?
J: I think the number of literary events created by writers themselves is growing. I’ve seen more events advertised recently than I remember seeing for a long time – after all, the whole point of writing for most authors is for others to read their work or hear/see it performed. In fact I’ve just seen that someone is already arranging a poetry festival in my home city for next year. I don’t think I will be inflicting my poetry on any poor audience, however– it takes horror to a whole new level.


I do think it’s a shame that larger bookshops no longer seem to want to support new and local authors – which is counter-productive, really – anything that brings customers in to the shop to buy books is surely a good thing (isn’t it?), and they are seen to be supporting new writers… and this week’s new writer could be next months big thing – but they have to be able to get their books seen. Luckily we have a great independent bookshop near to where I live which puts on regular readings and talks featuring both well known and local authors. With agents unwilling to take as many risks on new writers, wanting only to take on those they see as likely to achieve high sales (and fair enough it is a business they are running… but what happened to the idea of nurturing new talent?) writers are finding other ways to publish and get their stories out there. The literary landscape is changing… I wonder if the tremors started by writers being able to self-publish e-books will at some point develop into a full-blown earthquake.

S: We are certainly living in interesting times, I agree. I imagine that you’re going to kick-off the Q and A session with some probing of your own. What sort of things are you hoping to drag out of me and lay bare for the public?
J: Oh…as if I’d give you an inkling of what I’m going to ask! Where’s the fun in that? But I like to know how people tick…what makes their hearts beat faster…

S: Depends what sort of tick you mean, I suppose. I doubt it’s a big secret that, as moderatrix, you know more or less what I am going to talk about. So, without giving the game away, what would you say my theme is? In other words, if someone is looking at this and wondering whether to come or not, how would you persuade them?
J: Writers are often advised to ‘write what you know’ – some readers hearing that piece of wisdom might then look askance at the author of a horror novel, wondering if what they write is how they really think, but, in my view, there is far more to horror than gore, violence and the ability to scare a reader. There’s history and tradition.  I like new horror writers who find ways to blend the old with the new. Diavolino does this in great style and this in an opportunity to discover how.

S: *blushes* Sunday 16th is by its nature going to be about me, but you write extremely taught scary stuff yourself. Why don’t you tell my readers something about yourself, your stories and where they can find you?
J: I grew up reading horror stories and a lot of sci-fi. I also read a lot of non-fiction – Fortean Times, Erik von Däniken, and magazines like Man, Myth and Magic (that might give away my age – erm – they were old, dusty copies J ). I exhausted the local library’s supply of supernatural reference books very quickly – I was fascinated by anything ‘otherworldly’. As a teenager I started writing my own horror (not sure it was terribly horrific – more like the dark ramblings of a moody teen), but back then I had no thought of trying to get published – it was just for the fun of playing with words. I returned to writing horror about 12 years ago, again for fun at first, but then I signed up to a creative writing course and started writing a novel. This was followed by a couple of screenplays as well as short stories in between. I still didn’t start submitting to publishers as I found myself teaching a creative writing course for my local college, as well as starting up a writing group for teenagers – and my time was taken up by that. Sometimes the path to where you want to be can be long and winding! Now I mostly write short stories, but I have a novel which is now being submitted to agents and publishers, and I am just starting work on another. I still write horror and suspense – I guess I’m just happiest in the dark. To find out more about me and my writing drop in at


S: We have a super venue for the event and I’m looking forward to it, despite the nerves. I need to find where to park the car but tell me, are you coming on your broomstick?
J: Tsk, broomsticks are so yesterday, Steve. Bilocation is the way to go now – you can achieve twice as much in the same time. The question is, which version of me are you going to get on the day… the evil one or the nice one?  Hmmm, doppelgänger story comes to mind…

Steve: Two of you? Now that’s an horrific thought if ever there was.