Jeannie Wycherley’s Beyond the Veil, Excuse Me While I Fangirl

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Crone BragI have a very long and ever-growing “To Be Read List”. Many months ago I added a book called Crone by Jeannie Wycherley after she graciously agreed to be spotlighted on this blog for Women in Horror Month, read that post here.  I was just about to read Crone when I saw on FaceBook that Jeannie was releasing a new book. With an interesting premise and amazing cover, my attention was hooked, and I began reading the second it hit my iPad.

 

BTV ebook

I am now a devoted Jeannie Wycherley fan. I tossed my current Stephen King read on the floor of my office and read Beyond the Veil every chance I got. My family had to eat pizza and hot dogs for a couple nights because I Could. Not. Stop. Reading. And I’m not even the least bit sorry.

An unlikely trio, a cop, a near-death experiencer, and a physic girl who lives in a cemetery are thrown together in the midst of a horrible crime. United in grief and horror they must face a terrifying soul warrior who will stop at nothing to collect a wayward soul, even murder! The creep factor is a solid ten, the characters (I adored them!) are a 10, the plot with eerie twists is a definite 10!

This book does everything right. From deep, believable characters to story pacing, to spinetingling suspense, and outright terror!

If you like spooky, suspenseful, mysterious tales with characters that you will be immediately invested in, this is the ticket for you!

Jeannie stopped by to answer some of my burning questions. Excuse me if I squeal in delight.

I have been stalking…er…I mean following you on social media for some time now. So, I hope this isn’t creepy, but can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m a Brit living on the coast in East Devon in the south west of the UK. Previously I worked in education, and I have a PhD in modern and contemporary history. I’m married with three dogs, love cop shows and spy movies (James Bond, Bourne and Mission Impossible) and popular sci-fi (Star Wars and Star Trek). I enjoy cooking and make a lot of one-pot meals (curry, chili, soups, etc.). I have an obsession with the forest and love British wildlife.

What led you to become a writer?

I always wanted to write, but somewhere along the line I thought that being a grown up meant holding down a soul-destroying and energy sapping career. I was in a creative wasteland, and after some counselling realised I needed art in my life more than I had supposed. I had some time off sick over the summer of 2012 and enrolled in a writing bootcamp with The Writer’s Playground. It was fantastic and started a habit of writing every day.

The things I wrote were pretty bad in the beginning, but the feeling of exploring the world using words totally fulfilled me. I kept at it and when I was offered redundancy I accepted– mainly so I could spend more time with my dog! I didn’t have much luck finding alternative work I wanted to do, so I began copywriting. I wrote for clients in the morning and myself in the afternoon, and that’s how it all started!

I had a long apprenticeship – writing constantly – and had numerous short stories accepted here and there, before embarking on novel writing. I queried a few agents for Crone, but I’m ridiculously impatient and the process is so slow, I opted to self-publish.

One of the reasons I choose self-publishing as well. I read across genres and was curious what genre or genres you write in. 

Horror and dark fantasy is where my heart lies. I love the weird, and I totally relish venturing into shadowy places – both within the mind, and in a given locality or environment. I have also written some erotica and a little erotic horror (as Betty Gabriel), and have ventured into dystopia (which I love). I also wrote a love story earlier this year. It’s a great story, but I doubt I’ll write many more of those.

I don’t want to be pigeon holed and I see myself as a story teller, but I do appreciate people who read my work may get a little confused if I genre hop too much.

What is it about those genres that intrigue you most?

There is so much about the world that is scary, and so many infinite scenarios to battle the monsters that lurk within us and around us. Plus I really love to put female characters into dicey situations and see how they react. Women are so much stronger than horror tropes (both literary and film) would have us believe. I want to work with strong women characters and find something unique that readers haven’t come across before.

I absolutely loved Beyond the Veil. It is such a unique premise with amazing characters. Where did you get the idea for the story and the characters?

Beyond the Veil grew from a sad situation. A wonderful friend of mine passed away far too young after a brave battle with cancer, and her husband made the announcement by telling us she had ‘stepped beyond the veil’.

That expression wouldn’t let me go, and I explored it for a while. I had a wonderful image in my head of a veil curtain, and I wondered what would happen if someone attempted to step back through. But also, is there just one door to the beyond? Doesn’t it get crowded? What happens if there is a mix-up? Is there anyone controlling who goes through? I did some free writing around that (some of which ends up in the prologue), and the plot came to me quite quickly. Originally I envisaged a novella, then maybe 60,000 words, but the story took over and I ended up with a full-length novel.

The characters were interesting to me too. Originally, while plotting, I had Heidi as my main character, but the problem was her injuries (terrorist attack) meant she needed to be incredibly vulnerable. I couldn’t make her strong enough to carry the story and keep the essence of who she was and what made her tick.

I played with a female detective instead but the plot didn’t work. Also the Dan character was a young woman originally, but when I started exploring the relationships I knew I needed Adam Chapple as my detective, and to explore the father-son dynamic. I wanted some real multi-faceted and dynamic characteristics of them as individuals and within their relationship. Adam has a wonderful nurturing side that is real – no toxic masculinity here! Adam is a red-headed whisky drinking, running detective and is based on my brother!

So that brings me to Cassia Veysie. Wow. Where did she come from? I have found on several occasions that I’m writing away happily – sticking to my plot sheet – and a character pokes their head up, waves, and says, “Your story needs me!” It happened with Mr. Kephisto in Crone, a character by the name of Phineas in the forthcoming The Municipality of Lost Souls, and of course here we have Cassia in Beyond the Veil.

She totally steals the show. She was the strong and weird character I needed to balance out Adam’s rational common sense approach to the world. She’s also flawed in so many ways, over confident at the beginning, reduced to a bit of a mess after she bungles the séance. Over the course of the novel her mask breaks down, metaphorically and figuratively, as we see her losing the dramatic goth make-up and stepping into her powers.

I don’t know whether there will be a follow-up to Beyond the Veil, but certainly Cassia, Adam and Polly – another character I loved (I modelled her on the actress Gwendoline Christie who is my girl crush) may find themselves resurrected because I feel like there’s more to do with them.

I am going to hope for a follow-up. I agree with you, I ended the book feeling like there was more of the character’s stories to be told.

Past me pestering you for a follow-up (please don’t block me on FaceBook LOL) what’s next for you?

A slightly mixed bag. I spent a few months experimenting earlier this year. I wrote a loveWW1 promo story (Keepers of the Flame) and I wrote a cozy witch mystery. My editor loves the cosy so much that she’s persuaded me to write a series. The first in the series is The Wonkiest Witch and will be out in October (pre-order up soon). I am plotting the second, The Ghosts of Wonky Inn, and will write that in September.

My next dark novel is The Municipality of Lost Souls, slated to go to the editor on September 1st for an October release, HOWEVER I want to make sure it’s perfect so may delay that release. It has a complicated ensemble cast so I need to make sure it works. I don’t want my readers to get confused – it makes sense to me, but then it would, wouldn’t it? Ha!

The Municipality of Lost Souls is a fantastic story – my favourite so far. It’s a kind of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn meets TV’s The Walking Dead but with ghosts instead of zombies (of course – because I love ghost stories). It is a bit of an homage to Charles Dickens (my literature hero) and it is set on the rocky coast of Durscombe (the same as Beyond the Veil) but in the autumn/winter of 1861 rather than now (I knew my background in history would come in useful one day LOL). We get to meet Cassia’s foremothers.

It’s a story about how social cohesion can rapidly break down when we look the other way and follows the fortunes of three ‘witchy’ cousins, Agatha Wick, Sally Parrett and the inimitable Amelia Fliss.

It’s such fun! In a scary Mary kind of way, of course.

Those sound amazing! See, now I’ll be too busy reading these to pester you too much for a follow-up to Beyond the Veil! 

Being a horror author, I keep a running tally of things that scare people, so I have ideas on how to spook readers. What kinds of things scare you?

Politics. Brexit anyone? What a mess.

Ugh. It seems like a global time of political dumpster fires.

Heights! I freak out just climbing the stairs LOL. The first novel I wrote explored the whole height fear thing I have. I haven’t redrafted it yet, because it is a nasty piece, shocking in parts, but at some stage I will do some serious work on it, and publish it. It needs an audience.

Crowds and noise. I’m very introverted and get tired and stressed in social situations rather too quickly. I’m happiest in my study with only a snoring dog or two for company. My idea of hell is doing a presentation or a book signing. Happy to leave that to other authors. I know it’s not a particularly great idea to self-publish and hide your light under a bushel but I prefer to let my writing do the talking.

I hear you. I’m ridiculously shy. Doing all that mingling with folks is on my list of things I’m scared of, too!

Jeannie, I adore your writing and will try to wait patiently for anything and everything you write. Crone is my now current read, Stephen King will just have to wait. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Stalk me!

http://author.to/JeannieWycherley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady/

I will stalk away and if you are a fan of strong female personas, interesting characters, dark stories, and other assorted deliciousness you should stalk her too!

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

 

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Author Richard Klu Delivering Moments of Awe One Story at a Time

KluOver on GoodReads I joined the 2017 Reading Challenge and pledged to read 30 books this year. So far I’ve read 14. A bit behind the pace of two books a month to reach the goal, but many of those books were read this summer. It was a very good season of reading and as promised, here is one of my summer reads.

I picked up Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories by Richard Klu after I saw a review by an author that I like and a recommendation in a Facebook group I belong to. It’s a collection of short stories so I thought it would be a great poolside read. Well. Let’s just say my neighbors who were at the pool with me may now think I’m a little nuts.

I couldn’t help it. At the end of most of the stories I sighed, ooowed, aaawed, and said things like, no freaking way and good one. I know you are thinking, that’s fine it’s a good story, but I said it all out loud. I caught some of my good neighbors from the corner of my eye, and I was getting some weird looks, but I don’t really care!

Some of these stories are so darkly beautiful and written more like prose that I thought about printing them out, framing them, and hanging them on the wall. Reading this book was like those nights when a nightmare or strange dream wakes you, and then you fall back asleep right into another one. I love when I finish reading a book, and the story (in this case – stories) keep popping into my thoughts long after I close the covers (or swipe to the end in this case).

I got to chat with Mr. Klu about his writing and wanted to share with you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Richard Klu, and I am from western Michigan. Always an artist at heart I write to explore. You can find 3 of my free shorts here.

I grew up in Grand Rapids Michigan and still reside there with my 3 dogs, 3 cats, 23 fish, and 1 wife. Yes, it’s a lot of animals in our little 2 bedroom house, but it keeps things interesting. Blame my wife, they were all her idea.

I have been a Store Manager, a Cook, and various kinds of Salesmen as well as having owned my own business for a little over a year. All the while I’d neglected one of the few constants in my life, writing. Actually, I can thank my wife for that. As much as she hates me ignoring her for hours on end as I type away, she did encourage me to make an attempt at writing enough books to make a living.

On my blog I am sharing stories and what I’ve learned to better help other writers and to keep myself motivated. I primarily write cosmic horror. Similar to the style of HP Lovecraft although I am in the process of creating my own world starting with a short story collection called “Cabals of Blood” which focuses on cults around the world praising ancient deities long lost to modern society. This collection will include 3 planned book series which will be released between 2017 and 2018.

Thank you for the gifts! I’ll be checking those out!

You said writing has been the one constant in your life, why do you find it so attractive?

I like writing because it exercises creativity and gives my mind something to work on. Writing makes me happy even when it ends badly for the characters.

Yes. Things ended badly for some of your characters!

Why do you write in the horror genre?

I didn’t know I was writing horror until someone told me. It’s just kind of where I landed and how I think. To me, a lot of what I write isn’t horror until I am editing it. Then I realize where the story landed. I aim to write things that are interesting. They happen to end up being horror.

I think most people reading this blog would agree that many interesting things are horror related.

Some of the stories in Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories are quite scary. What kinds of things scare you?

Drowning, cancer, and being trapped underneath a weight or buried alive. I used to have a nightmare that I couldn’t move and was in an empty space with no gravity. Almost like space without the stars. In this place, I had something burrowing into my back and up my spine. Thankfully that nightmare has been gone for some years.

Wow! I knew I liked you!

You said that you blog to keep yourself motivated. I struggle in that area, and some fellow writers have suggested a writing ritual to keep things moving. Do you have any unique writing rituals?

No. I write whenever there is free time. Rituals would slow that down.

Hooray! Someone in my camp! I’d love to sit down with my favorite beverage and listen to great music to write, but I have to grab it when I get a chance.

Your book Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories has a broad range of stories: disturbing, interesting, shocking, and spooky! Where did you, or do you, get the ideas for your stories?

Most of them came to me while I was in college and day dreaming during math class.

You should send your Math professor a copy of your book just to show that you were productive in his or her class!

You already mapped out some of the things you have in the works. What can we look for next?

Cabals of Blood is my next collection. It is a group of short stories. Cosmic horror similar to H.P. Lovecraft. I also have 3 books, 1 a trilogy mapped out in the same world.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

https://richardklu.com/

On Twitter https://twitter.com/Richard_Klu_  @richard_klu_

and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RichardKluAuthor/

Excellent!

Thank you for your time and darkly wonderful stories! I look forward to more.

Readers, I finished this book several weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about it! Grab a copy and check it out for yourself! Until next time Never Turn off the Lights!

 

What a Year

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endof-year

What a year. 2016 had ups and downs, losses and gains, twists and turns. I don’t know about you, but I feel a little sea-sick! I’m hoping 2017 is a little less crazy. A girl can dream, can’t she?

It’s been a good writing year. I finished writing and revising DREAD and published! I’ve sold some copies, and not just to my family, LOL! Some of those readers even left five-star reviews. Weirdly, I miss my characters a little bit. I spent almost every day with them for over two years, after all. I’m sure they don’t miss me but are enjoying new life every time they spring to life in a reader’s imagination. I *heart* you Nate, Garrett, Sophia, and Lindsey!

I stretched out of my writing comfort zone and wrote a short story in the Dystopian Horror genre. Dystopia always felt overwhelming to me. Seriously, how in the world do you create a whole new world…out of your words? I spent a large part of my summer working on Code Yankee Sierra 7 so I could enter it in the  Pandora’s Box of Horrors Challenge. Guess what? It tied for the win. Pretty exciting!

I’ve made amazing writing friends and connections this year. Their stories captivated, spooked, entangled, and encouraged me. Thanks, guys!

I wrote three other short stories. One was originally posted as a Thanksgiving story, but I revised it to a Christmas story (All Through the Night) and popped it up on WattPad for fun. Another one is also a Christmas story (The Kalli-Who) that was published on this blog as a playful holiday share with you, the readers! Lastly, just for grins, I reworked a story I wrote a very long time ago (Best Night Ever) and also shared that on WattPad.

My current WIP Shiver is coming along. I’m still getting to know the characters, and so far, I like them. Too bad I’ll have to terrorize, burden, and maybe knock some of them off *evil giggle*. What?  I’m a writer, it’s what I do.

A writer. You’d think I’d feel perfectly fine calling myself a writer by now, wouldn’t you? But it still feels awkward. When I think writer, I think of Anne Rice, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, and the like. When I say I am a writer, it seems arrogant and like a big overblown fishy tale. Despite the list of accomplishments above, it feels like I am the biggest poser in history, play acting a childhood fantasy and hoping the world buys it. I wonder if the people I mentioned before ever feel that way.

For 2017 my resolution is to own it. To boldly submit works and laugh in the face of rejection letters! To shout, I AM A WRITER! Well, maybe just say it in an inside voice.

Here’s wishing you an adventurous, thrilling, spooky, joyous, own-your-truth new year. I hope you get some of that through reading something I wrote for you.

Until next year, Never Turn Off the Lights!

Just in time for Halloween, Dread is Now Available!

We’ve all heard them. A terrifying tale that happened to a friend of a friend or my second cousin’s sister’s brother’s niece. That’s right, urban legends. One my favorite Halloween topics.During some research for a project, I found that some of these tales have roots in reality. A modern example of this is the Black Eyed Kids.

During some research for a project, I found that some of these tales have roots in reality. A modern example of this is the Black Eyed Kids.

It’s thought to have started with a story as told by a reporter for the Abilene Reporter-News, Brian Bethel. In 1996 he was sitting in his car, using the light from the nearby movie theater marquise to write a check. A knock on his driver’s side door pulled his attention, and he saw two boys in hoodies. The boys claimed that they wanted to see a movie, but had left their money at home. They asked him for a ride. He was overwhelmed with an irrational fear of the young boys. He hesitated and the boys got a little pushy. He looked away to check the time and when he looked back their eyes had changed, or maybe he could see clearly. They stared back at him with “soulless orbs like two great swathes of starless night.” Flight or fight kicked in, and he peeled out of there. As he pulled away one of the boys angrily shouted: We can’t come in unless you tell us it’s OK. Let us in!

After he shared his story on-line in 1998 stories of similar encounters flooded into paranormal podcasts and message boards. Hence, it’s status as an urban legend. But, digging a little deeper, David Weatherly writes in his book Black Eyed Children, that he discovered accounts predating television and the internet with similarities to Brian Bethel’s story. The sense of deep fear the children instill, the demanding persistence to be let in, and not noticing at first that their eyes are not normal are all common themes.

One of the stories I heard that really got my hair up was told by a fellow mom. I think this story resonated with me because I could so closely identify with her. We are both busy moms, and she lived in a semi-rural area like I do.

One evening on her way home, with her young son in the back seat, they made a pit stop at the local convince store/gas station. She parked in front of the store and ran in to get milk, leaving her boy in the car with his iPad. This is all pretty mundane everyday stuff in small towns.

When she returned to the car, she peeked in her rear-view mirror to check on her passenger. She was startled when she saw a boy sitting next to him. His head was covered by the hood of his jacket, and he bent to look at the iPad. She asked her son who his friend was.

“I dunno. He said he needed a ride, so I let him in,” was the reply.

Much to her horror, the strange boy lifted his face to her. His eyes shining damp black orbs against his pale skin. She screeched, jumped out of the car, grabbed her kid, and ran back inside the store. She tried to tell the clerk what was happening, and he assumed she was the victim of a car-jacking, so he called the sheriff. When the sheriff arrived, there was no sign of the strange boy.

She was too shaken up to drive her car. Her husband came and switched cars with her. On his way home in her car, he was involved in a car accident. Thankfully, despite his bumps and bruises, he was fine. The woman remains convinced that the Black Eyed Kid was somehow tied to the accident; either he caused it or appeared as a warning.

As far as I know, no one has ever come up with physical proof of these beings. No iPhone photos or video, for example. But stories have been shared from all over the world by people from every walk of life. Some from very credible individuals. There hasn’t been any proof of a hoax either.

So, what are they? Vampires? Aliens? Demons? Imagination? Hallucination?

What do they want? Your soul? Your body? Your blood?

No one knows.

In my novel Dread, I explore what would happen if these beings invaded a perfectly normal neighborhood and tormented perfectly normal people, just like you. What would happen if they let the BEKs in? Can they figure out what they are and what they want before it is too late?

All I can tell you for sure is that once you encounter the Black Eyed Kids, your perfectly normal life will cease to exist.

Dread is available for purchase from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and NobleTolino, 24Sybmols, Scribd., Inktera.

dreadcsfrontFourteen-year-old Nate Camden, who dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL, has just moved into Dark Pine Hills, a subdivision that has sat neglected and unfinished for some time. His father’s company has taken on the task of recrafting the area into a high-end development, a big opportunity the family can’t pass up. Nate does his best to settle in, and he quickly makes friends, even securing a starting spot on the football team. But it doesn’t take Nate long to suspect things are not as positive as they seem, just under the surface darkness lurks. It’s not just the discovery of neighbors’ family issues, or the protesters that claim the area is a paranormal vortex and should not be developed, or even the rumors that the surrounding forest is haunted. It is something much worse. Kids have come knocking, wanting to come in. The only problem is that judging by their soulless black eyes, they may not be human. Forced to believe the unbelievable, Nate will have to face his worst fears to protect the ones he loves.