The Single Women’s Churchyard Of Cross Bones Graveyard

cross bones graveyardCross Bones Graveyard near Borough High Street in London is a pauper’s burial ground with a legend going back to medieval times. Prostitutes were buried here in the 16th Century as they were forbidden to be buried with the usual rites. They were often stacked on top of each other, and beggars and thieves used to pick through the graves, gathering what little they could of any value from the deceased.

It was also called a ‘Single Women’s Churchyard’ and between the 12th and 17th Century, the whole surrounding area was controlled by the Bishop Of Winchester, and as it was beyond the reach of normal governance all kinds of things were allowed that were forbidden in other parts of the city.

You can read more about this fascinating burial site and the legends surrounding it at the Cross Bones Graveyard site.

The Lost Art Of The Armchair Treasure Hunt

armchair treasure hunt masquerade kit williams

Masquerade by Kit Williams – it looked pretty but did your head in

The late seventies gave birth to a very different kind of publishing phenomenon; the armchair treasure hunt. Long before Geocaching was a thing, the book ‘Masquerade’ featured puzzles hidden in beautiful and elaborate illustrations by artist Kit Williams and sparked a national craze as armchair puzzle solvers up and down the country (and later the world) attempted to unravel its mysteries and thus discover the prize; an 18 carat gold hare buried somewhere in the British Isles.

But the contest morphed into its own conundrum as a spectacularly bizarre turn of events mired the competition in controversy and, despite the author’s best efforts, the prize was never officially won.

Three years after the book’s release Kit received a solution by post from Ken Thomas describing the exact location of the golden hare. However, details of its unearthing became slightly sketchy as Mike Barker and John Rousseau, two school teachers who’d dug in the correct place previously, had unwittingly re-intered the hare during their excavation leaving Ken Thomas a fresh dig site with only a few piles of earth to sift through to claim the prize. Even though they had technically solved the puzzle first, by the time Mike and John’s correct solution had popped through Kit William’s letterbox the story was already out and Ken Thomas had been declared the winner. Continue reading →

Tiki Surfer Witches Want My Blood (and I’m not complaining)

Tiki Surf Witches Want BloodIf you know me personally then you’ll know I have a bit of an obsession with anything Tiki related and I love a good cocktail. So I was kind of thrilled that, while I was searching the internet for Tiki stuff in preparation for a project I’m working on (which may never see the light of day, but hey) I came across a comic book whose story is not only 100% Tiki, but includes cocktail recipes as part of its modus-operandi and features more gratuitous boobs than Game Of Thrones.

Tiki Surf Witches Ritual

Tiki Surfer Witches Want Blood wasn’t that easy to track down. I first came across a search that took me to Amazon to buy an ebook version, but I struggled to find a physical copy and after a bit more searching found that it was published by Sex And Monsters. Continue reading →

HORROR? WHY NOT? A LIFETIME OBSESSION WITH THE MACABRE: PART TWO.

pan book horror stories 7For a few years during my childhood my mother accidentally went out with a man who thought that sending me to boarding school was a really good idea. From the age of nine to thirteen I spent most of the week wondering who I would be going to spend the weekend with, as the man also thought it was a good idea to live in France leaving me unable to see my mother for weeks at a time. It was down to a handful of relations and school-friend’s families to look after me from Saturday to Sunday during the school term.

My grandparents lived fairly close to the school and occasionally my grandfather would rescue me for the weekend in his little white Mini, but this meant two days of keeping myself entertained as grandmother was riddled with Parkinsons disease and watched soaps like Coronation Street and grandfather spent most of his life in the garden shed with a soldering iron and a collection of ham radios. A weekend with the grandparents was a welcome relief from the monotony of prep-school, but it wasn’t exactly exciting. There was nothing else to do but read.

pan horror book 7Behind my grandmother’s large upright chair was a cheap glass fronted bookcase that housed a collection of weathered old paperbacks. Lining the shelves were a pot-pourri of romance novels featuring horses, countesses or heists, the occasional Agatha Christie thrown in for good measure; hardly the tales of adventure suitable for an overactive nine year old. Apart from a few collections of short stories, there was nothing of any interest whatsoever. By short stories I’m talking about The Pan Books Of Horror Stories, selected by Herbert Van Thal. They were interesting.
Continue reading →

Twitter Litter – My Top 20 Twitter No-Nos For Authors (and anyone else promoting something on twitter)

I’ve been off Twitter for a while, but since I resumed book writing mode I’ve been back with a vengeance, following and reading about what other authors, fans and reviewers are doing these days and how they use Twitter to interact with each other and the wider world.

It’s not pretty.

Twitter today is borderline unbearable. Every other author appears to think that the rules of engagement were written for everybody else to follow, and are confusing conversation with exclamation. It’s like being at the worst literary dinner party ever, each guest shouting out the title of their book as loudly as possible simultaneously, at set intervals, over an infinite number of courses. Even a spot of one-upmanship would be nice, but everyone is so busy composing their next ear-shattering tweet that there’s little chance of anybody noticing what everyone else is up to.

I thought bands were bad (and I’ve plenty of experience with those), but it turns out that authors are far, far worse. For people whose passion it is to communicate, I find it unfathomable that so many authors seem unable to construct any form of cohesive dialogue on Twitter.

If, as a reader, you were offered a free copy of someone’s new book based solely on a months worth of their tweets, whose book would you choose? The repetitive, automated Twitter exclamations of a writer simply telling you to buy, buy, buy his book, or the tweets of someone letting you into his world, tweeting as he writes, being human and, more importantly, actually being there? Continue reading →

Horror? Why not? A lifetime obsession with the macabre: Part One.

horror moviesDeciding on the horror genre for my first novel has come as a bit of a surprise to some of my friends; I’m an upbeat kind of guy, I don’t restrict my wardrobe to black and I’ve not had one goth girlfriend. I’ve been known to wear some horrifically loud shirts over the years, but that’s about it; I’m just not that well known for being scary.

The truth is, I’ve been into horror for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of witnessing a horror film was when, aged six, my mother left me alone briefly to go to a party in the flat downstairs, unaware that I’d be sat up, alone, watching ‘Let’s Scare Jessica To Death‘ for the next hour and a half. Instead of sleeping I’d chanced upon the damn thing while clicking through all three TV channels in succession until something interesting showed up. Well, it was interesting. Bloody interesting and completely terrifying, actually.
Continue reading →

Gate To Hell

Italian scientists say that they have found the ‘Gate To Hell’.

Francesco D’Andria used ancient mythology as his guide to locate the legendary portal to the underworld.

Strabo (64 B.C.- 24 B.C.) wrote, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.”

Sounds like an ideal destination for a package holiday. Of course, you’d come back in a different kind of package to that which you left in.

Scientists Reportedly Find Gate To Hell