A Stairway to He…?

It’s the horror writer’s favourite time of year. Halloween lurks just around the corner, and we invite you to leap out of the shadows and scare us witless. I’ve joined evil forces with horror writer Julia Kavan (author of Dreaming, Not Sleeping ) to give you the chance to make our Halloween.

We’re running a short story contest during October in the hope of finding some fabulously frightening fiction. Of course, we may be evil but we’re not totally wicked – this isn’t just for our own dark amusement! Whoever manages to come up with a tale that makes us quake and queasy will win a £20/$30 Amazon gift card.

Study the image below. Peer into the shadows, look up into the darkness and down into the light. What tales lurk there, waiting to be told?

bigstock-Ancient-Staircase-47667682 (2)

Stories can be as short as you like and up to 3000 words in length. Please format your work with double line spacing and attach it to an email as a .doc, .docx or .rtf file. Entries must arrive before midnight (GMT) on October 31st 2013. Send your entries to juliakavan@gmail.com, with HALLOWEEN CONTEST in the subject line. The winning story will be announced on 1st November* and published on both our websites if the winner permits.



*Subject to volume of submissions!

Best Horror Films For Halloween

Now I’m announcing the winner of my Name Your Top Thee Horror Films.

This was bloody hard because everyone had at least one film that I love. It almost came down to sticking a knife in the computer screen. But the winner is – Allan Krummenacker [he deserves to win just for his name, actually 😉 ]. Alan, I have emailed you so send me your address and the book will be on its way with the next carrier bat. Alan’s choice was:

Halloween (1978)

Written and directed by John Carpenter, tells the story of Michael Myers as he stalks and kills teenage babysitters on Halloween. The film begins with six-year-old Michael killing his teenage sister Judith on Halloween 1963. He is subsequently hospitalized at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Fifteen years later, Michael escapes and returns to his hometown where he stalks Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends as they babysit. The film ends with Michael being shot six times by his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence).



House On Haunted Hill (1959)

Directed by William Castle, written by Robb White and starring another great, Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren. He and his fourth wife, Annabelle, have invited five people to the house for a “haunted house” party. Whoever stays in the house for one night will earn $10,000 each. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers and other terrors.



The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Directed by John Hough and starring Pamela FranklinRoddy McDowallClive Revill, and Gayle Hunnicutt. The screenplay was written by Richard Matheson based on his novel Hell House. Physicist Lionel Barrett is enlisted by eccentric millionaire, Mr. Deutsch, to investigate “survival after death” in the Belasco House, a place originally owned by the notorious Emeric Belasco, a six-foot-five perverted millionaire and supposed murderer, who disappeared soon after a massacre at his home.


Before I give you my own personal treat for the hours of darkness, allow me to put my old architect’s hat on will you? House on Haunted Hill was filmed, the exterior anyway, at The Ennis House in Los Angeles. Designed by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for Charles and Mabel Ennis in 1923, and built in 1924.

When I saw the film I recognised the house immediately because it is in fact the fourth and largest of Wright’s textile block designs, constructed primarily of interlocking pre-cast concrete blocks.

Wright based the design on ancient Mayan temples and along with other buildings by him, the Ennis House is sometimes referred to as an example of the Mayan Revival architecture.The relief ornamentation on its textile blocks, inspired by the symmetrical reliefs of Mayan buildings in Uxmal, is it’s defining feature. But take a look at the place, it’s not spooky at all! Thankfully it is now a designated National Landmark.

Wright’s Early Sketch

Inside The Real Ennis House

Right. I’ve had my number one choice stolen from me already in this competition, so I’ve had to think pretty hard to come up with a suggestion for you. Next year – and won’t that come round all too soon – I’ll choose something quite different, but for the moment this should do the trick. Enjoy – and get the fly spray ready!


Phenomena (1985)

Directed by the master of Italian horror Dario Argento, the film was released in the United States under the title Creepers and heavily edited. Jennifer Connelly stars as a young girl who arrives at an eerie Swiss boarding school where the students are being butchered by a serial killer. With the help of a wheelchair-using entomologist (Donald Pleasence), she discovers she has psychic powers and uses them to pursue the killer. Great music, too!


Meet My Flesh and Blood

Halloween approaches and it seems the vaults already creak and groan under the pressure. So tonight I take great pleasure in introducing you to my son who, at the age of 22, already shows great promise. I’m looking forward to working with him to bring you horror like you’ve never tasted before. All I have to do is persuade him to give up the idea of being a childminder. Anyway, fangs for dropping by. Now I give you – son of Chukkie58…


Son of Chukkie58

Halloween Treat (No Tricks)

Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis appeared in fiv...

Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis appeared in five films in the series (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Definition of Halloween (Oxford Dictionaries)

noun: the night of 31 October, the eve of All Saints’ Day, often celebrated by children dressing up in frightening masks and costumes. Halloween is thought to be associated with the Celtic festival Samhain, when ghosts and spirits were believed to be abroad.

We all knew that, didn’t we? Do you know what I do on Halloween? I watch the film of the same name. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen it but it remains in my top ten. Maybe it’s the creepy Donald Pleasence – who was always one of my favourite actors – who makes it. I love the music, too. I know. Weird…

So it’s a great excuse to give away some books – some lovely paperbacks of Diavolino which is a great story for Halloween! What’s more I’ll sign them. The first is a Goodreads giveaway, all you have to do is click on the link below and enter. There is one book to win there:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diavolino by Steve Emmett


by Steve Emmett

Giveaway ends October 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

The second copy I’m giving away directly to the person who can persuade me that their TOP 3 choice of horror films of all time is the best. In the event more than one person has the same list I’ll put those entrants in a hat and draw one lucky winner. I will do that on Halloween, so you have the rest of the month to get posting your ideas in the comments box below!

What are you waiting for? Don’t hang around, you never know who is watching…

The Demons of Cambian Street : Review

I’ve enjoyed Catherine Cavendish’s previous works and was eager to read her latest offering. The cover is stunning, but would the book live up to it?

Published By: Etopia Press

Published: Feb 17, 2012

ISBN # 9781937976033

Word Count: 32,154


Sometimes evil wears a beautiful face…
After her illness, the quiet backwater of Priory St Michael seemed the ideal place for Stella to recuperate. But in the peaceful little town, something evil is slumbering, waiting for its chance to possess what it desires. When Stella and her husband move into the long-empty apartment, they’re unaware of what exists in the cupboard upstairs, the entrance to an evil that will threaten both their lives…


I sometimes think as a horror writer and someone who has also watched hundreds of horror films, that maybe one becomes desensitised, unable to feel fear from a work of fiction. I’m often entertained by what I’m happy to rate as good horror, and often I’m totally disappointed. I didn’t expect to be disappointed by The Demons of Cambian Street, having already a taste for Cavendish’s genre, but a haunted flat could have been a bit, well, flat I suppose.

Cavendish is distinctively British – it comes out clearly in her style and content, and it’s one of the things I like about her writing (it is a shame, in my opinion, that for the US market her language gets tweaked, but don’t let me make this out to be a bigger issue than it is. I just found an incongruous ‘gotten’ that leapt right out and scared the shit out of me, and I felt that in a British town, a British car might have been allowed a boot rather than something more associated here with a popular pachyderm). Her stories are of the old school such as M R James and, dare I say, Wheatley (the real one, not the current impostor!). With The Demons of Cambian Street she grows in stature to take her place in that Hall of Fame. To my surprise, this story chilled me, sending a rash of goosebumps up my arms, shrinking my scalp and releasing that cold bicycle down my spine. I’d almost forgotten how that felt.


Stars out of 5? A full house.