This is a quick video refresh of our previous article ‘Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Rejection – The Ugly Word’. This hits on some of the high points of the post where we talk about rejection and, if you’d like to learn more, please be sure to click on the direct link to the article below!
This is a new format that we’re playing around with for articles, interviews, and potentially Trembling With Fear. Please let us know if this is something that you’d like to see more of!
You can read the full article here: https://horrortree.com/setting-self-doubt-fire-rejection-ugly-word/.
Ruschelle: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us at the Horror Tree!
Marc: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Ruschelle: Your debut collection, Stories of High Strangeness, has been published by publishing newcomer Copypasta. Many stories we pen evolve from shreds of experiences, albeit fictionalized…well we hope. Where did you gain your inspiration for this collection?
Marc: My inspiration came from just wanting to tell good stories with unusual twists and turns. That is the overriding theme. When you read this collection, you won’t see any overriding theme. It’s not just one thing but ‘rather, a whole bunch of things. It’s, quite simply, a collection of stories. My approach to writing fiction is very organic. I come up with an idea, it rattles around in my head for a while and, if it continues to strike some kind of weird chord with me, I write it.
Ruschelle: You mentioned your early writing repertoire included selling rock musician interviews to magazines and underground newspapers. What was it like interviewing artists on the cutting edge of music in the 1960’s?
Marc: It was a gas! Interviewing an extremely loaded Ozzy Osbourne in his hotel room at 10 in the morning. Flying on The Who’s private touring plane to catch the band in Texas. Sneaking backstage at a concert at my college and walking right up to Cheech & Chong and asking for an interview for the college paper and getting nearly 45 minutes with them. It was still very new and exciting for the musicians and the journalists. I wrote for publications like The Los Angeles Free Press, Zoo World, Phonograph Record Magazine and Rock Around the World. The writers weren’t making a lot of money but, like I said, it was a gas!
Ruschelle: Your experiences sound awesome. You’re a music buff. What gets your creative blood pumping while writing? Does the type of music you listen to influence your writing style?
Marc: I’m probably the world’s oldest metal head. Put on Black Sabbath, Dio, Cirith Ungol. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, If it’s loud, dark and nasty I’m there. I’m also into 60’s psychedelia. If you’re old enough to remember bands like The Electric Prunes, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Standells, Love and just about any band out of San Francisco and Los Angeles, you know what I mean. I like movie soundtracks when they go to the dark, progressive side. I like The Exorcist and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly a lot. All that being said, when I write I write in silence. But more often than not the vibe from the music definitely winds up in a lot of my stories.
Ruschelle: Writing fiction is definitely a different monster than writing from a journalistic standpoint. Was there anything you learned or new skills you honed while conquering the fictional beast?
Marc: When you’re dealing with journalism or biographies, there’s an end game, a deadline that is always in your head. When you write fiction, the story is done when it’s done and not before. When I started to write short stories, the main thing I had to learn was get the story to the point where it works for me and then send it out into the world. I’m not a writer who talks about what he’s working on or even shows it to people when it’s done. My criterion has always been when somebody accepts it and publishes it, then the rest of the world can have it.
Ruschelle: If you could actually meet and hang out with the physical embodiment of any one of the characters you created, which one would it be? It’s the dude with the insatiable libido isn’t it? I bet he’d be fun at parties. LOL
Marc: There’s a lot of extreme, dangerous characters in my stories that if I saw them at a party or walking down the street, I would probably run the other way. Without giving too much away, the people in the stories Dose, What’s In A Name and Remember 85 are not the people one would want to spend too much time with. On the other hand, there are characters in the stories The Out Door, This Will Buy Us A Year and The Delicate Hours that I could probably be around for a while. Once you read those stories you’ll get an idea of where my head is at.
Ruschelle: Do you have another book of horror/fantasy/ Sci-Fi in the works?
Marc: I’ve got a few things that I’m playing around with that tend to lean towards horror and fantasy but are not quite ready to go out for consideration. Two chapbooks of poetry, Shakeout on Sex Street and Existential Jibber Jabbar, a full book of poetry, Melancholy Baby and a chapbook of short fiction called Out Of My Mind. I’ll know when it’s time to take a chance with them.
Ruschelle: Was there a defining moment in your life where you knew you wanted to write for a living?
Marc: Probably when I was 13. I was writing short stories, poetry and television scripts by that time. I didn’t know how good I was at that time but I knew I liked the idea of using my imagination to make magic. I also liked the way my byline looked on things. It would be seven years before I had anything published. But I knew the writing life was for me.
Ruschelle: Is there a topic you feel is too taboo to write about?
Marc: I will not do anything bad to children or animals. Otherwise it’s open season.
Ruschelle: As fiction writers and writers of the horror genre, we often write what we fear ourselves. What fears have ignited your writing?
Marc: The six o’clock news has always been a good jumping off point for me. The way humanity behaves on a daily basis has brought up more than one idea and a shudder on occasion. But finally, the fear that drives me is to wake up one day and have my imagination stripped from me. Fear of not having an idea is what, creatively, keeps me one step ahead of the Devil.
Ruschelle: You’ve written over 60 unofficial biographies of celebrities. That’s quite a few lives to get to know. Which artist started it all?
Marc: Way back in the day, I approached a UK publisher of rock music biographies called Omnibus Press about doing one of their rock books. I received a polite letter back informing me that they normally only use UK authors. But the very last line of the letter said that they were in fact contemplating doing a book on The Eagles and would I be interested? I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
Ruschelle: The Eagles = ROCK ICONS! Was there anything you researched for your biographies that surprised a seasoned journalist like you?
Marc: When you’re dealing with Hollywood types nothing really surprises you after a certain point. My only advice to would be stars would be to save your money and don’t believe it will last forever. Because it rarely does. And that goes for authors too.
Ruschelle: Do you feel any ‘real life’ events from your autobiographies may sneak into your next bit of fiction? The names and specifics to be changed to protect the innocent of course.
Marc: If they have, it’s been on a subliminal level. But Icons have made occasional appearances. I used a real NFL team as a cornerstone to a short story entitled Cut Down Daze that was published a while back and I channeled a number of music personalities by name for a horror poem that will be coming out later this year called Night Rider.
Ruschelle: If you could co-write a book with any author who would it be? And let’s make it an attainable goal and let’s keep it in the realm of the living. Seances and invoking the dead never ends well.
Marc: That’s a tough one because all my influences have long since gone to the great beyond. I’m old school. I firmly believe in one writer/one vision. If I could resurrect the dead we might be here all night. Charles Bukowski, Rod Serling, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury any and all of the Beats. Those are my literary gods.
Ruschelle: And literary gods they are. We all learn with age and experience. Well we’re supposed to anyway. In regards to writing and the writing experience, what do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Marc: That’s a toughie because we never really stop learning. As it pertains to the business…To be smarter about things like contracts, money, people. I learned that if you’re serious about writing for a living, you stop writing for no pay and exposure early on. I’ve worked for next to nothing but I stopped working for nothing eons ago. I wish I had been a bit braver in the early days, more willing to take chances. As I’ve gotten older I’ve adopted a say yes to just about any offer and let the chips fall where they may. I know I learned quite a bit about the writing business the day an editor pulled a gun on me when I was trying to collect the $20 he owed me. And that was how to duck.
Ruschelle: Learning to duck is never a bad lesson, LOL. What do you find more challenging, fiction or journalism?
Marc: Both forms have their moments. Journalism can be like a good detective story, tracking down the facts and the people who can shed light on the person you’re writing about. Fiction forces you to stretch your imagination and conceive of ideas, notions and characters and yet have it all make some kind of sense or logic at the end. When I’m writing fiction, my head is in one space. When it’s journalism, it’s in another.
Ruschelle: Rejection is definitely a pill we hate to open our mouths to swallow. Being a seasoned writer do those rejections get any easier? What do you suggest for authors starting out when they receive the dreaded- ‘It’s not you it’s us’ email?
Marc: First realize that rejection is a part of the process. I had a couple of short story submissions kicked back in the last week. You get the twinges the first couple of times but, if you’re intent on a long-term career, you immediately forget about it and send the story someplace else. If you’ve given your best effort, the chances are good your work will find a home.
Ruschelle: Exactly. Eventually writer’s stories find the home they’re meant to have. You’re a New York Times bestselling author. Kudos! Many authors aspire to have those little words swirl around their bios. So, tell us what has that prestigious phrase done for your career?
Marc: My ego was on fire for a few days. It is an emotional and psychological lift like you would not believe. I spent a month picking up The New York Times every Sunday just so I could chart the progress of my book. But eventually reality brings you back to earth. You’ve got deadlines to make, bills to pay, lawns to mow and a dog to walk. But making The New York Times bestseller list is definitely a memory that stays with you forever.
Ruschelle: Since you’re lucky enough to write for a living, you probably have some sort of schedule or ritual. What’s your typical work day like?
Marc: There really is no typical work day for me. It depends on whether I’m on deadline with a biography or at a more leisurely pace with a short story or a poem. But more often then not, I’m up fairly early in the morning, work for 3-4 hours, take a walk for about an hour, then back to work for another 4-5 hours. A good day for me is 1000 words on whatever I’m working on. I once had to write a 50,000 word manuscript in three weeks. Needless to say, I was pulling 15 hour days on that one.
Ruschelle: Is there any one piece of advice you’d like to impart to struggling writers out there who are attempting to embark on writing as a career?
Marc: Write every day. When you’re not writing, read anything you can lay your hands on. It’s cool to go to parties and tell people you’re a writer. But if you’re not serious about it, you’re doomed to fail. Go with your gut at all times. Treat writing as both a creative art and a business but be able to separate the two. You don’t want to be thinking about the business when you’re knee deep in the creative process. And vice versa. Writing for a living is a dream come true. But you’d better take it seriously and be prepared to walk the walk.
Ruschelle: What can your new found fans look forward to from you in the future?
Marc: The future is now. You can get Stories Of High Strangeness (Copypasta Publishing) on Amazon, Smashwords, Roku, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.com. My latest celebrity biography Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story (Riverdale Avenue Books) is available through Amazon, Smashwords and a bunch of the usual book selling sites. I have poems in upcoming issues of Disturbed Digest and Night To Day. Then there’s something that I’m currently working on that I’m not at liberty to talk about. Yet.
Ruschelle: Thank you so much for your time and wisdom.
Marc: This was fun. Let’s do it again some time.
Marc Shapiro can be reached through Copypasta Publishing at [email protected]
‘Scouse Gothic’ Blog Tour – A brief history of Liverpool.
By: Ian McKinney
Scouse Gothic is set in Liverpool. The city, and its distinct character, plays as much a part in the story as any of the other characters, and like them it appears one thing to the casual observer, but has its own dark secrets.
Liverpool is a large seaport in the North-West of England, which at the end of the nineteenth century was considered to be the second port of the British Empire. However its origins can be traced back to the granting of its Royal Charter by King John in 1207. (This is the evil King John of Robin Hood fame, although whether he was evil or just subject of bad PR is still being debated.) At this time it was a small port trading mainly with Ireland, there were no docks and the ships simply beached on the shore to unload their cargos. The growth of the port began in earnest with the construction of the first ‘wet’ dock in the world in 1715. It had room for a hundred ships and meant that much larger ships could now pass through the port. These larger ships could now trade with Africa, the Far East and the Americas. The first trade with America is recorded in 1648: cloth, coal and salt from Lancashire being traded for sugar and tobacco.
It was these trade links that would lead to Liverpool becoming the major slaving port in the world. It became the centre of what was known as the ‘Triangular trade’: produce from the factories of Lancashire traded for African slaves; then those slaves traded in the Americas for tobacco, sugar and cotton, which returned to the factories and consumers of Britain. Although few slaves ever made it to Liverpool, at one point Liverpool’s merchants controlled 80% of the UK, and 40% of the world’s slave trade. The city grew fat on the proceeds of slavery, but with the abolition of slavery in Britain and its colonies, a new trade took prominence, cotton. In fact, the cotton trade became so important that during the American Civil War, Liverpool merchants sided with the Confederate cause. And although public opinion supported the North, warships and weapons were secretly built in Liverpool and smuggled across the Atlantic in Confederate ‘blockade runners’.
In a bizarre twist of fate Liverpool is actually connected to the start of the American Civil War, and its ending. The first shots that began the conflict, when General Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter on the 12th April 1861, were fired from an artillery piece, called the ‘Galena Cannon’, which had been made in Liverpool. While the final shots were fired by the Confederate raider the CSS Shenandoah, its surrender in Liverpool on 6th November 1865 effectively ending any Confederate resistance.
During the 19th Century Liverpool was very much a global city, and on any given day more than 1500 sailing ships would crowd its docks. The ships and their cargos came from the four corners of the world, and the multiracial crews lived in its boarding houses and mixed freely in the teaming bars and brothels that surrounded the docks. Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick, visited here as a young seaman in 1834 and wrote of the experience in his book, Redburn, ‘… sailors love this Liverpool; and upon voyages to distant parts of the globe will be constantly dilating upon its charms and attractions, and extolling its virtues above all other seaports in the world’. It was a wild and violent city, but also for black or Asian crews a very equal city. There was no colour bar and many of these sailors settled in Liverpool and raised their families there. For example, Liverpool has a thriving Chinese community, the oldest in Western Europe (established 1834), with its own Chinese Arch (the largest outside of China).
However the largest cultural impact on Liverpool itself came not from the Americas, Africa or even the Far East, but from much closer to home, Ireland. In 1845 the disastrous Irish Potato Famine killed a million people and caused millions to leave Ireland. In the space of three years, two million Irish landed in Liverpool seeking passage to a new life, and many of the poorest could go no further. In the census of 1861 a third of the population of the city had been born in Ireland. Liverpool ceased to be an English city, but neither was it an Irish one. The mixing of these two cultures, together with the Scots, Welsh, African, Chinese and even Jews escaping Russian Pogroms, made it what it is today. In fact Carl Jung once called Liverpool, ‘The Pool of Life’, as he thought it represented the whole world in one place.
The inhabitants of Liverpool, whatever their creed or colour are officially called Liverpudlians, but more commonly referred to as ‘Scousers’. This nickname being derived from a local stew called, Scouse, which in turn gives its name to the local dialect. The accent is a distinctive mixture of English and Irish and will be familiar to anyone who remembers the Beatles.
Once I’d written the book, I needed a title, and as it deals with the undead inhabitants of the city, I decided to call it ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’. However, on second thoughts, a book about Vampires should really be a Gothic novel, and so that became the subtitle, and the book became: Scouse Gothic.
You can read our review of ‘Scouse Gothic’ right here!
Scott – In ten seconds, what do we need to know about you?
KT – I’m a Canadian sci-fi / horror writer living in the lower mainland area of British Columbia. I enjoy organizing and hosting events for writers, including a monthly workshop at a local theatre, and I’m attempting to organize a Metro Vancouver chapter of the Horror Writers Association. However, horror writers are not common in my part of the world. Either that, or they are good at hiding from me.
Scott – Well, part of horror (and writing) is lurking, right? They could be around there somewhere. From reading your bio, I understand that you grew up reading speculative fiction. Who were your major sources of inspiration?
KT – Growing up, I spent a lot of time in libraries. Fortunately for me, the science fiction and fantasy sections were well-stocked. When I was quite young, my mom took my sister and me to the library every two weeks.
I read everywhere, including while I walked to school, and I sat at the back of class and hid novels in open textbooks. The books that have stayed with me are Stephen King’s The Stand and Salem’s Lot; Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca and Jamaica Inn; John Bruner’s The Sheep Look Up; Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land; Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series; William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist; Walter Miller’s A Canticle of Leibowitz; Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber series; and Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf.
I credit my mom with my love of reading.
Scott – Quite a list! But you also wear a nonfiction hat from time to time by penning essays and editorials, right? How did you get started in that?
KT – I started writing nonfiction articles and editorials as a teenager. I worked on the school newspaper and yearbook. My first published piece was a letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail newspaper in which I expressed an opinion about the province of Quebec and my hope for a united Canada.
I currently write a monthly op/ed column for a local newspaper called Citizen’s Ink. Previously, I wrote a bi-weekly column about public education for five years.
Scott – I read some of that column. You have a passion for literacy, and public education policy and reform. Can you give us the short version?
KT – Writers and their readers are among the most literate members of society.
Because we tend to surround ourselves with those who share our interests, it is not always obvious to us that a large number of adults have minimal reading and writing skills and are unable to read for pleasure. This makes me very sad. A majority of adults never read another novel after they leave high school, and many have trouble reading and comprehending simple instructions, such as prescriptions.
Our prisons are filled with illiterate, functionally illiterate and low literacy individuals. Social status and job prospects are tied to literacy levels and close to 40 percent of North American adults suffer because of low literacy. At the same time, education research has shown that more than 90 percent of children reach full literacy with the right supports and teaching methods, so where is the disconnect? It’s not an easy answer. I’ve been advocating for reform since the early ‘90s and by-and-large, our public schools have only changed by minute degrees.
The political inertia and institutional complexity is incredibly frustrating. We can and should have a public education system that prepares students for the challenges of the 21st century. Full literacy is a minimum. Writers have a stake in this, for obvious reasons. If we each devoted even a little time and resources to this issue, I believe we could affect significant change.
Scott – Given all of that, how did you end up writing speculative fiction?
KT – I love the what-if aspects of science fiction.
I’ve always enjoyed extrapolating change, particularly the unintended effect of legislation, scientific advancements, and inventions. The constant is human nature—that doesn’t change, but it’s endlessly fascinating.
I’m also drawn to the what-ifs of history and enjoy writing alternate history.
Scott – Yes, human nature does tend to get in the way, sometimes. What are some of the common, recurring themes in your novels and short stories?
KT – Isolation, family relationships (particularly between women), unintended consequences, tribalism, man’s-inhumanity-to-man, and environmental challenges. I often write about older protagonists, and I like twisting current issues into myth and fairy tale retellings.
Scott – Those are some heady topics. It seems like it would be difficult to wrap your head around them. What do you feel are the most difficult aspects of writing?
KT – For me, it’s writing an initial draft.
All of the possibilities can feel overwhelming at times. I tend to write from character with only a rough idea of the plot. I admire writers who can write a detailed outline and then follow that script, but it hasn’t worked for me. I discover the story in the first draft, so my process is likely much longer than it needs to be.
Scott – You know, that’s pretty common with the writers I talk to. You’ve got some who can just engineer their plot and their characters, but many stumble through their first draft purposefully and learn the broad strokes of the story as they go. If that’s the most difficult aspect for you, what’s your favourite and least favourite part of the writing process?
KT – Writing an initial draft is my least favourite part of the process. I don’t even call it a first draft until the second stage. It’s more of a discovery process. I love researching so usually I have to force myself to stop that part and get down to putting actual words on a page.
Once I know my characters and have a rough idea of plot, I’m much happier and the process becomes enjoyable. (The first part is satisfying but not particularly fun.) I also write my first drafts in longhand and I find that helps, but it’s never easy.
Once I have an initial handwritten draft, I then type it into my computer. I revise as I transcribe, and I consider that draft my first draft. I love editing and revising. It’s a nurturing, sculpting process and the only part that frustrates me at times is how long it takes.
Scott – Wow. A handwritten drafter? I haven’t seen that as part of the process in a long time! That just goes to show that there’s more than one way to write. What advice would you give someone just started out?
KT – Keep at it.
It’s incredibly frustrating to have characters and a story in your head when it just doesn’t translate to the page. Writing fiction is an art, but it’s also largely a craft with a skill set that must be learned and practiced. Work hard and be patient and open to feedback.
Don’t let your ego get in the way, and you will improve over time.
Scott – One interesting thing to note: You primarily write short fiction. Why did you choose to go this route, rather than novel writing?
KT – About six or seven years ago, when I first turned from writing nonfiction to writing fiction, I spent a year writing and revising a novel. It taught me a fair bit, including how much I still had to learn. Taking classes and workshops introduced me to short story writing.
Short stories provide an opportunity to try different genres and styles without committing to tens of thousands of words and at least a year of my time for each effort. I also started reading short fiction, and I now love the form.
Scott – That’s a different take than many writers I hear from, where the novel is the goal. What advice would you give for someone looking to break into the short story market?
KT – First, always make time to improve your craft.
There are many excellent resources available: podcasts, online articles, array of writing books, and some excellent workshops and programs available both on-line and in-person. For the latter, I recommend LitReactor.com, Richard Thomas’s workshops and Carina Bissett’s classes at The Storied Imaginarium.
Try something like the Ray Bradbury Challenge: for one year, write a short story every week and read a short story every day. It was a great experience. I didn’t quite manage to keep up, but I ended the year with more than forty new short stories.
Submit! A lot! Aim for one hundred rejections a year. Resist the urge to submit early drafts and only submit your polished pieces.
Scott – Great advice and resources! I think the rejection grind is what steamrolls newer authors, but even seasoned veterans get rejected before getting a piece through. On that note: What’s next for you on the writing career path?
KT – I’m primarily a short fiction writer, but I’d like to complete something longer, if only to challenge myself. Writing a novella seems like a logical next step, so this summer I’m focusing on writing and revising a novella to the submission stage.
Scott – What’s one excerpt from your work that you feel most defines you as an author?
KT – I like to write a bit of a satirical edge and the older characters in my stories are almost always doing something interesting. I think “Grandma Heloise”, published at Daily Science Fiction, is a good example of this.
Here’s the first paragraph:
“Grandma’s glow-in-the-dark geraniums were harmless and kind of cute. However, the family nominated me to speak to her after she cloned her dead cat, Gerald, three times. Grandma raised me after my parents were killed in a car crash, and I’d always been her favorite grandchild.”
Scott – Where can people go to follow you and find out more about your work?
KT – My website, http://northernlightsgothic.com, includes a publication list and many stories are available to read for free. I also have a blog, which I need to pay more attention to.
I’m also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/northernlightsgothic/ and Twitter @KT_Wagner
Thanks for the opportunity to share a bit about myself and my writing.
It’s June, and that means warmer weather, Father’s day, and hopefully a great month for your writing! We’re hoping that the change in seasons will inspire you to be that much more creative this year. If you’re not feeling it, I’d like to point out that it is also the Summer Solstice and World Blood Donor day this month. Both of these could quite easily inspire some speculative fiction so do try to stay festive with what is going on if you are hitting a sticking point while putting pen to paper.
Side note, as a father myself I do stress that you, please give your father a hand this month on something if you’re on good terms with yours!
This is going to be a bit of a brief update. Usually, I am finishing up this post a day or so before it is going live and this is being written about a week in advance due to a combination of a vacation and a HUGE project at the day job which has me pretty swamped on things.
That being said, let’s move forward with the update!
Seriously once again a huge thanks to everyone who donates to our Patreon. We’ve had two new patreons sign on to help out the site the last month which will be a huge help going forward. THANK YOU NEW AND OLD PATREONS. I can’t stress enough that even an extra dollar a month helps us expand the site.
Last month we added a few donation levels so please be sure to check out the Patreon page for more details!
These new levels will help us pay all of our contributors sooner if we can make those goals!
We are super ahead on short stories for this year and are loving how much quality work is hitting the TWF inbox! We’re still a bit light on drabbles but are still planned ahead pretty far at this point. You’re all rocking the writing and we love you for it!
If you’ve been loving any of these shorts please be sure to comment on the post that contains them so that the authors can hear what you think!
Oh, wait, you’re probably still reading because you want an update on the anthology aren’t you. It looks like we’re closing in on the finish line and I think we should be wrapping things up in the very near future to launch it!
What Is New At The Horror Tree?!
What Is About To Grow At The Horror Tree?
Last month we referenced an interactive game which was in the works, and as soon as a bit of artwork has been finalized, we’re going to be launching it! This is a fun little distraction that we hope you’ll be able to enjoy.
Also, we have thoughts on launching some videos which will be mini-roundups of articles and potentially some of the Trembling With Fear drabbles. We’re still working out the details on that second aspect though!
A Brief Update!
Once again, we’re trying to share how the Horror Tree is growing socially. One of these days I will figure out exactly how to really grow these avenues and if you have any suggestions please be sure to reach out!
- Horror Tree’s Twitter – Moved from 6634 to 6646 followers. Our lowest jump in months but it at least was a positive move!
- Horror Tree’s Facebook – Minor bump in readers here. We had 1706 and went up to 1734! Slightly larger bump than last month!
- Horror Tree’s Instagram – Now this one had a decent bump in views! Last month we ended up with 188 and this month we’ve jumped up to 223. While there isn’t many readers coming into the site from Instagram, we are getting a TON of views here from author quotes alone and will likely start posting articles and more there soon!
- Horror Tree’s Pinterest – Here we jumped from 8 to 10 followers though have a ton of non-follower views.
- Horror Tree’s YouTube launched with a single video! So far, 18 subscribers! Not a ton, but nto bad with how little I’ve had time to promote or add to it!
As always, I hope we’re helping you out and we’d love to see your comments with any suggestions or thoughts on what we’re doing! Thanks for being a reader!
Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
Title: Scouse Gothic
Author: Ian McKinney
Publisher: YouCaxton Publications
Release Date: September 1 2015
Synopsis: Melville wakes with a pounding headache – there had been too many hangovers recently, but this one felt different. What had he been drinking last night? Then he remembered – it was blood. Enter the bizarre world of Scouse Gothic where a reluctant vampire mourns a lost love and his past lives, where a retired ‘hit man’ plans one more killing and dreams of food, and a mother sets out to avenge her son’s murder, and, meanwhile, a grieving husband is visited by an angry angel. Set in present day Liverpool, vampires and mortals co-exist, unaware of each others’ secrets and that their past and present are inextricably linked. But as their lives converge, who will be expected to atone for past sins?
“He was a professional as much as any surgeon, only he used a gun with a silencer rather than a scalpel…”
A vampire who pays rent, a hitman antique salesmen, a PhD student with a talking pigeon. Just your average day in Liverpool.
Whatever readers may take away from reading Scouse Gothic, one cannot deny it’s quite an ambitious project. A collective of perspectives shifting genre and tone, introducing character upon character, each at the forefront of their own fresh narrative, simultaneously weaving towards a collaborative, single stream story, it seems quite a feat.
McKinney tackles such genre blending with an established confidence right from the get-go, following the tale of Melville, a vampire who’s seen the world change around him, yet he feels as though he’s standing still. An ancient being in a modern world, he adjusts as best he can, but always has grim reminders of memories and souls of those lost. This is until, he meets someone, someone who might relate to him more than he might expect.
This then bleeds into other people’s lives, each segment of this tale a fresh perspective from someone new, always keeping readers guessing as to who the next person could be and where they fit in this odd alternate take on Liverpool. Supernatural or natural? Mortal or immortal? Scouse Gothic has a very diverse cast of characters in terms of their roles and the events their own stories revolve around. This of course is no easy job.
With as many stories happening at once and with such a short length, Scouse Gothic becomes very selective with the level of detail in which it tells its tales. Some stories have fully fleshed out narratives with their own miniature climaxes and conclusions, while others tend only to serve as introductions to the characters as if to establish them, so they can be brought up again once any character convergence occurs. These meager introductions are often fraught with expository dialogue in an attempt to provide depth and emotional weight to these protagonists, but instead come off as rather superficial additions to the overall world McKinney creates. Some fail to truly have a deeply rooted conflict and are instead peppered with bits of tension and mystery, only serving as brief setup for a rather formulaic and cluttered climax.
McKinney has set up a rather daunting task and for the vast majority of the book, establishes characters with intrigue. The genre hopping (while occasionally jarring) keeps a rather steady pace and refreshing outlook during the book’s brief stay. It’s only until that fated convergence of characters where the pace becomes an issue. With so many characters to balance in only so many pages, the end does appear rather rushed in terms of how it chooses to close everyone’s story.
This is not the end, however, as McKinney has written two more entries to this anthological series to continue these narratives and lead them down several other pathways. Don’t let the lack of conventional horror or the multiple storylines concern you, McKinney’s take on monsters in a modern world is a rather interesting one, choosing to explore characters and their dynamics rather than the age-old monster tale, Scouse Gothic can offer many readers a fresh perspective (or perspectives) on the modern monster, both human and otherwise.
You can pick up a copy of Scouse Gothic on Amazon.