Tag Archives: horror

Adventures in Writing … things which were dragged across the floor at night!

Thought I’d put this down, seeing as it’s Halloween … And it’s true, every word.

Many years ago, when the days were so much longer and the grass greener, I used to go and visit my then girlfriend over in Kirkdale, Liverpool. She lived with her parents, brothers and sister in a new build. We’d been going out for quite some time when I finally got the invite to ‘stay over’. This didn’t mean my sleeping on the couch, oh no. I would have a bed – one of her brother’s, who was away for that particular weekend.

How excited was I!

I was young, full of wide-eyed innocence. We sat together on the sofa, watched a film on TV, said goodnight to her mum and dad, and continued to sit, talk, do a little bit of mooching … Innocent.

You get the picture?

I hope so.

Well, as the night continued and the silence grew, we sat in the dark, savouring the moment, happy to be alone.

And then it began.

At first, I thought it was her brothers playing tricks. Their bedroom was directly above us and it seemed they were dragging their beds across the floor, the sound coming through the ceiling. We laughed at first, but when it continued, we became a little peeved. Through the crack around the living room door, the light from the hallway filtered through. I said I would go up and ask them, politely, to stop. But when I stood up and pulled open the door, the light went off.

Now, at this point, I have to confess, no thoughts of the supernatural entered my mind. What did was a developing anger. Her brothers were taking this too far now, no doubt wanting to disrupt our time together, having great fun at our expense.

The light to the kitchen was on. This was their mistake, I knew it for sure. I would rush in, confront them, beat them at their own game. So I did, and what I saw caused me to revaluate all my former ideas.

The kettle was boiling.

Now, this in itself is not so very disturbing, but when you consider the plug was out of its socket, then you can begin to understand the rising sense of fear which brewed up from inside me.

Shaking, I returned to the living room. My girlfriend, herself annoyed at her brothers’ antics, said it was time to go to bed. She’d have ‘words’ with the pair of them in the morning, make their ears ring!

But after we said goodnight and went to our respective rooms, the mysteries of the night were not yet finished. I snuggled down under the duvet and closed my eyes. The brothers were asleep in their own beds, for they all shared the same room. Peace at last, I said to myself, pushing aside the curious happenings of the kitchen, the lights, the strange noises … until they started again.

Somewhere from across the room it came, a slow, relentless sound of something, not unlike a brush or coarse cloth being rubbed across the wall. I listened, hardly daring to breathe, wondering what this sound was, my imagination going into overdrive. Perhaps it was my imagination. But to conjure up something so real, so close? No, this wasn’t me, this was really happening.

I sat up, peering through the darkness, my eyes by now well accustomed to the gloom. And as I looked to where the sound emanated, it moved. Slowly at first, but gathering speed, it travelled across the far wall and made its way relentlessly around the room towards where I sat. As it drew closer, so the noise increased, until it seemed as if it filled the entire room.

In classic, horror-film style, I threw myself under the covers and lay there, quivering, the noise growing louder, ever louder.

And then it stopped.

Right next to me.

Silence.

I waited, with my heart pounding even louder than the recent noise, and as the minutes crawled by, I gradually relaxed. At some point I drifted off into sleep.

In the morning, I told my story to my girlfriend and she listened, her face pale. She told me she too had heard the noise and both of us were gripped by a confused dread. What could it be?

It didn’t take us so very long to find out.

I visited Liverpool City library. The simple fact was, the housing estate where my girlfriend lived was behind Kirkdale hospital, a huge, sprawling and vacant monstrosity of a building. Walking beside it was enough to give anybody the willies, so, acting on a hunch, I went to the reference section and discovered something, which seemed to explain everything.

The housing estate was built on the site of the hospital morgue.

Yes, that’s right. The place where they stored the bodies.

And porters moved trolleys.

The noise we heard, of beds being dragged across the floor, was this. A memory, forever imbedded in the fabric of time and space. What other explanation could there be?

And the rubbing?

Well, that is still a mystery, perhaps never to be solved.

big cover

This happened almost forty years ago and I have never experienced anything else quite like it. What the noises really were, I cannot honestly say. Subsequent sleep-overs at my girlfriend’s house saw no repeat of what happened that night, so the mystery remains.  But the memory lingers and has helped me craft more than one horror story. Writing as Glenn Stuart, I have penned nine paranormal mysteries, amongst them my personal favourite, ‘Interlopers from Hell’, set in my home town and not so very far away from that spooky, grim edifice of a hospital, which is no longer there, but continues to conjure up the terror of that night.

So enjoy your Halloween, my friends, and always keep an open mind concerning things which go bump, or are dragged, in the night!

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Adventures in writing … pot pourri!

Bit of a mixed bag this month, so feel free to skim!

They say Twitter is good.

Just who are ‘they’ I hear you ask. Well, experts I suppose. I’m not an expert, so all I can go by is my gut-reaction, my instincts. So, I’m probably wrong, but nevertheless, I just don’t get it.

Okay, so I looked last time at how many followers some of the top authors have and, yes, they have lots. But does it help their sales? This is where I have the problems. I’m not sure who generates all this advice, you see. I suspects they are associates of Twitter, Facebook, Book Baby and Amazon. They are all in each other’s pockets anyway. Any idiot can see that. So, can we trust them?

I’m not sure.

I have just received an email informing me I have a new follower on Twitter. I wonder why, as the person is somebody I have never heard of. Perhaps they have bought one of my books, a new fan? With beating, expectant heart, I checked out their profile.

This person follows around 200 people. And how many follow him? 75,000. Say that back to yourself, slowly. SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND! I mean, how does he get the time to even obtain that many followers? And does it actually mean anything? Imagine if every one of those followers went out and bought his book. Imagine! In a flash, he’d be more successful than almost everyone else on the best-sellers list. However, a quick check on Amazon reveals he is not.

So … what is the point?

I don’t know. I’m very cynical. I don’t think it means diddly. I follow more people than I have followers. I’m not sure if I have ever bought anybody’s book from a tweet on Twitter. And I do read. I read a lot. I suppose all of us struggling to make it in this over-loaded world of authors and publishers need to explore every avenue in getting ourselves known. But it’s a long old road and it is very disheartening when I see the sort of thing described appearing on Twitter. I will never have 1,000 followers, let alone 75 thousand of them. Perhaps I should give up and not worry so much.

Well, I’m not giving up writing, that’s for sure. I’m working on a screenplay of one of my books at the moment, but as the gales are roaring through my village, knocking out the electricity every five minutes, I have resorted to using my notebook. It has a battery you see, and can continue when the house is stripped of power. Ah, the joys of living in the dark ages!

I received a post from a friend, about Stephen King’s top 10 best reads.

Here it is: http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/stephen-kings-top-10-all-time-favorite-books.html

It’s really interesting because as a horror/thriller writer you’d expect his list to be peppered with titles from the genres he writes in, but it’s not. You could say, at a push, that 1984, even Bleak house, have scary moments, and ‘Lord of the Flies’ is certainly very dark, but … not your true-blue horror. I guess it all has to do with what you like to read. My interests are very wide.  It got me to thinking about my own top-ten, so I-ll work on that and present it next time. What is yours?

I’ve finished the third in my Hardrada series and will send it off to my lovely publisher soon. Enjoy the first two volumes, both of which receiving super reviews. If you like historical fiction, with plenty of twists and turns, and written at a cracking pace, you’ll enjoy these. Oh, they have Vikings in them, so that can’t be bad!

I have other genres too. Check them out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/279-4230230-2335426?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=stuart%20g%20yates

Thanks for dropping by, and happy reading.

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Adventures in Writing – a personal view by Stuart G Yates…the thrill of the blank page.

I still wake up at the weekends with that buzz rushing through me. I’m going to fill a blank piece of paper with something which has never existed before. I’ll never get used to the feeling.

During my second bout of unemployment, before I became a rent-collector for the local council, I’d lock myself away in my room, turn on the turntable and listen to Tangerine Dream – or even a spot of Beethoven – pull out the Olivetti and create new worlds. In those distant days, deeply immersed in Lord of the Rings as I was, fantasy took a hold of me, something I could not shake loose. I sketched out a story, worked out the characters (I even painted some of them!), scenes, etc. Writing it became a joy, a thrill. I disappeared into that world for the entire day, every day.

Trilogy of terror

The ‘Trilogy of Terror’ pitting Robbie and Max against Sumarian demons and their human acolytes.
I loved writing these.

I’ve always been this way. When I was first published, as Glenn Stuart, those fantasy tales were finally out there. Today, that thrill continues to hold me tight.

Now, I write at weekends and holidays. If I ever find myself in the fortunate position of having been accepted by a publisher, I’ll work on the re-writes in the evening as well. I’m doing that at the moment. I’m working on the re-writes of my next novel, ‘Varangian’ which pits the Viking Harald Hardrada against all and sundry. The editor is astute, sharp and totally supportive. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Given that, however, it is my free time that I look forward to most.

The problem with writing is, of course, time. It simply disappears, to the detriment of everything else. Living in Spain, the shops close at 2pm, and do not open again until around 6pm. I often forget, writing through until 2.30 sometimes. Then I remember I’ve got no milk, or something equally necessary. One of the reasons why I hanker after returning to the UK. A little touch of normality. I don’t care about the rain; I don’t notice it. I’m inside my book. The ‘real world’ can wait.

What I’m coming to is the idea of writing being simply JOY. I love it. I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t write. Become very miserable, that’s for sure. But the creating of new worlds, that is what thrills me. All those made-up conversations, the ranting, the raving, the soft, sweet caresses, then other aspects – the  bark of gunfire, the slash of the blade, my world is whatever I want it to be. I’m very lucky to have a fertile imagination. I’m even luckier in having the ability to string words together in something akin to comprehensibility (try typing that on an Olivetti!). I only wish I could do it for longer; or that the time would go more slowly.

I’ve got so much to do, you see. That’s the problem. Four novels to rewrite, and two more to write. But, do you know what…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My work can be found on my two websites – for young adult paranormal mysteries (3 of which are set on the Wirral) visit www.glennstuart.co.uk

For adult thrillers visit: www.stuartgyates.com

Thanks for dropping by and see you soon.

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Adventures in writing – a personal view by Stuart G Yates: how do I get known?

There are so many authors out there now, it’s like a world gone mad. I feel sorry for the poor reader, avid or not. How are they supposed to choose who and what to read? It’s something I’ve been trying to think about a lot.

How do I make my choices?

It’s difficult for me right now. Living in Spain, I have little opportunity to visit a bookshop. An English one, I mean. We used to have one where I live, but it has closed. They even stocked my books for a while, but now the whole venture has disappeared – along with my books! I’ll never get them back, nor will I get anything from the company. I’m not even sure if they exist. But I wander from the point (which isn’t uncommon for me!).

So…how do I choose a book?

Sometimes, it’s by the only really credible way – recommendation. A friend reads something, they pass on a copy to you. You like it, you then go out and buy another by the author. We all do this, and it’s a great way of discovering new books. Then there are recommendations in magazines, newspapers and, of course, Amazon. I like the way they link similar themes together, so if you put in a search for a well-known author you could end up buying a book by someone totally different. I read the reviews and take the plunge. This is how I came to Simon Scarrow, and his wonderful Roman Empire novels.

We might come to them via films – this was how I ‘discovered’ James Bond, or TV, which is how I came to Ian Rankin and ‘Rebus’. There are so many different ways, more than I’ve listed, but isn’t the best one simply going into a bookshop and sifting through all those lovely, freshly printed volumes? At a visit to ‘Waterstones’ I saw a staff-recommendation for a book, priced at only £1 as an introduction to an author. This was about ten years ago, and the author was Henning Mankell, and what a find he turned out to be.

Of course, as an author, I have another problem. How do I get people to pick up my books? Being with indie publishers, I have to do the marketing myself, which is a total pain I can tell you. I’d much rather be writing. Somehow, you do feel the pressure, even sitting alone with just your word-processor for a companion, to try and promote. Panic, frustration, they all gnaw away at you. How many times have I taken a break, popped over to Facebook and become dragged into to replying and commenting on posts? And as I do this, I become increasingly agitated by the armies of authors I see on there, shouting out about how brilliant their latest book is. So many now are wound up by the need to be published and to find success. Success, which means, sales. I look at their posts and I’ve now got to the stage where I simply scroll by, not even giving them so much as a glance. Unless it is by an established author. Then I might stop, and read. I did this actually. I tried to find some top authors on Facebook. John Harvey, for example. If you like thrillers, you’ll know who he is. He hasn’t got a Facebook page. The aforesaid Ian Rankin, he has, but I’m not at all sure if he writes it. The same goes for Lee Childs…is it him?

Some authors, like Simon Kernick, Harlan Coben and Michael Jecks often post something. Michael even tells us about his walks over the moors, which is fantastic. I love this approach, which is so unassuming, so personal and nothing to do with his books (which are great by the way). Natural. There are others, however, who simply use Facebook to declare their brilliance, or their particular bigotries. These latter ones happen to be also so-called sock-puppeteers and I no longer have them as ‘friends’ or, more importantly, buy their books.

As for me, I’ve had enough. I’m so disillusioned by all this social-networking rubbish that I’ve decided I’m pretty much going to turn my back on it. I’ve just read a blog by Bernard Cornwell. It’s like a breath of fresh air and reaffirms what I’ve always known – write a good story. The rest of it is nonsense. All these marketing tips may well be very good, but if your story sucks, what is the point?

There is a whole world out there full of hard-nosed profiteers who will take your money and promise you the earth, with interviews, author pages, guest blogs. There’s one right now, on Facebook, advertising ‘How to become a best-selling author’, or words to that effect. Another ‘Make your book sell…find out how to become the next Stephen King’. These books cost 4.99. Great, pay the money, and discover what? The magic formula? I think not.

There are thousands of ‘friends’ who LIKE your book but never ever buy it. They take your free-promos, but they never have the time to write a review. I’m sick of it, there has to be another way to get yourself known, and I wish I knew what it was.

So, what do you do as somebody who wants to write? I’ll tell you my own experience, after doing this since the mid-70s, with 14 books published and 2 more due out this year. You get a job. You earn money. And you write in the evenings, or the weekends, or during your holidays. You write because you love it, because you have the urge to create. And when you’ve written a good story, you write another one. And you don’t stop, because it is what you do. You may never make any money, you may be rejected a thousand times by every agent on the planet, but you don’t care, because for you the writing is all.

That’s it. No big secret. I write, I re-draft (about 3 times), I get it proof-read, I then submit. I’ll no longer go to small independents, and I’ll not self-publish. If an agent one day likes something of mine, I will crack open the champagne and rejoice. But until that day, I no longer have any desire to shout my wares from the rooftop on Facebook. If people buy my books, that is because they like the sound of the story. And that’s good enough for me.

Here’s some timely advice about finding an agent: http://writingteennovels.com/2013/03/21/finding-a-good-literary-agent-for-your-novels-by-paul-volponi/

Visit my websites to find out a little more about me, with links to my books: www.stuartgyates.com  and

www.glennstuart.co.uk

Thanks for dropping buy, and keep on reading. Here’s a selection of some of my books, with links.

 The cover of my first 'legitimate' novel, Cold Hell in Darley Dene

big coverFront cover

 

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