A year ago today I shared my review of Liam Brown’s Wild Life, after being invited by Legend Press to be part of the author’s blog tour. (Read my review here)
Wild Life is a disturbing read, dark, gothic, raw. It falls into that tradition of dark fiction the British do so well, one that includes Iain Bank’s debut novel, The Wasp Factory, a book I read shortly after it was published in the 1980s.
By the time I was reviewing Wild Life, I had just finished writing my first work dark fiction. I was yet to enter the realm of horror in any real sense. I didn’t identify as a horror fiction author. I still had my head up in the literary smog, born of my own pretensions.
The descent has been slow, necessary, painful and illuminating all at once.
Now I’m completing my second work of dark fiction. Unlike the first, it sits more firmly inside the genre, fulfilling the expectations of horror fans. I have my first short story that I have labelled horror, out there in two competitions. I realise I can identify another two of my short stories as horror, along with many others that are certainly dark. They are both published in my collection, All Because of You. When I wrote them, I didn’t think of them as horror. I didn’t get what dark fiction meant.
My muse did. She knew where she was heading. For years I’ve been struggling to label what I write as falling into this genre or that. Is it a thriller, a mystery, maybe suspense as that seems to be a catch all? And there she was, stirring her grim brews in the dungeon of my mind, claiming all of my ideas as though they were nothing more than seasoning.
Dark themes enter all my work. There’s nothing light and airy about what I do, even when I venture into other genres. It’s why I’m drawn to authors like Ever Dundas and her smashing debut Goblin, why every so often I think I ought to move to somewhere cool and dank and dim.
I am delighted to welcome author James Watts, whose debut horror novel Them was released by Fear Front publishing on 15 May 2017.
Tell me a little about yourself James. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I grew up in the small town of West Jefferson, Alabama. Born in Birmingham, Alabama on March 17, 1976. A few years after high school I moved to Panama City, Fl for around 10 years. I moved back to Alabama 5 years ago and currently live in my old home town of West Jefferson.
At what age did you realise your fascination with horror?
It was pretty early on, around the age of 6 or 7. My older sisters and brother were always watching horror films. Especially my sister Tammy. She introduced me to Nightmare on Elm Street. And my sister Eugenia and her boyfriend, now husband, took me to a drive-in to see Friday the 13th.
When did you start writing?
Around the age of 11. I was using the library more and more around the 4th grade and discovered the Hardy Boys. Loved those books. And not long after I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, and knew after that I wanted to write. Between my love of comics and novels, I eventually tried my own hand at it. And it was terrible, but I kept going.
Who are your favourite authors to read? Who inspires you in your writing?
My son Bailey is my inspiration to keep pushing on. My favourite authors include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, John Saul, Anne Rice, Peter Straub, Edgar Allan Poe, and Richard Matheson.
Tell me a little about your latest book?
Them is a horror narrative set in the small Alabama town of Maple Grove and took a little over a year to finish, mainly because I was working in security at the time and was constantly working.
The fictional town of Maple Grove is actually located around five miles from my hometown of West Jefferson. By knowing the area so well, it was easier to tell my story. It doesn’t end with familiar surroundings either. There is a lot of me in this book, different smaller parts of me in every character. For instance, the protagonist Ray Sanders moved to Florida to escape the pain of betrayal. I did the same thing. Although, our reasons for returning are different. Now as for Ray’s childhood, it was pulled from my own to a certain extent.
The story itself focuses on Ray overcoming his insecurities and to be the man he must be in order to destroy the evil that has hovered over Maple Grove for over a hundred years, and to break the hold it has over his bloodline. Mind control, creepy animals, and vividly eerie dreams make this task almost insurmountable.
“In the small town of Maple Grove, Alabama, an ancient evil resurfaces to claim its right to life and the human race be damned. When Ray Sanders returned to Maple Grove to attend his mother’s funeral, he never planned to have to overcome all of his insecurities in order to save the town from an evil as old as time itself. For over a hundred years, the town of Maple Grove has suffered from the deranged minds and unquenchable hunger of parasitic creatures not of our Earth. Once before in a sacrifice of blood, the forces from beyond were locked away presumably forever. Now they have returned, hungering for their chance to evolve. It will be up to Ray Sanders, his cousin Roy, and a woman either them recall to stop this evolution and prevent the reign of these ageless creatures before their evil can spread.”
Thanks for the interview James, and all the very best with your book, Them, which very very creepy.
You can buy a copy of James Watt’s book on Amazon
You can find James on Facebook at
Who is the presidential candidate?
The man called Donald Trump
Is he the champion of the people?
Or is he a bully and a chump
Is he the only person?
That can save us from ourselves
Is he a snake oil salesman?
Trying to convince us that there are elves
He is a walking slogan
He is a person and he is a brand
Can we afford to take the chance?
By putting him in command
Will Donald use diplomacy?
Use graciousness or aplomb
We must remember that the president
Has the release code to the bomb
Do people really believe?
Everything that he says
Does it correlate?
To what’s going on in their heads
He says that a wall on the border
Is an effective solution
There’s not one word about Global warming
Or reducing industrial pollution
If Donald Trump is elected
Will it trigger a violent revolution?
The people who are listening to him
Say they are sick and they’re tired
The system is not working for them
And they want somebody fired
Is excluding all migrants
Really a sensible idea
Or is it simply politicised hatred
Generating resentment and fear
Is ending dialog with other nations
Really the right way to go?
When you need them and ask for their help
Don’t be surprised when they say No
He says he is the only person
That will stop Mexican migration
Are his supporters star struck by him
Or is it curious fascination
He says only he has all the answers
To the problems that don’t even exist
He has stated on many occasions
His methods are a check book or his fist
Is being forceful and uncompromising
When it comes to law and order
Really effective or even achievable
Remember streets don’t have any borders
Is Donald Trump serious?
Is Donald Trump for real?
What is he prepared to take away from us?
To make sure he seals the deal
He says that he is a winner
That he does not know how to lose
He says that he’s already got this race won
But that is your privilege to choose
The world of book blogging is an amazing place sometimes. You just never know what might be happening in that vast tribe of dedicated book lovers, who give hours of every day to supporting authors and readers alike. Where would we be if we had to rely exclusively on print media and high end literary reviews? Only the select few works, those tipped for prizes maybe, would get attention.
So it was amazing to receive a message on Facebook this morning from a dedicated book blogging soul, informing me that my novel, The Drago Tree, appears in a list of works set in the Canary Islands.
“Sometimes, even the fictional works which loosely base a storyline on a location can inspire wanderlust in a person far more than any editorial piece could. Perhaps it is the in-depth descriptions that entice people to book a flight – I know for a fact, that I have been known to book a trip off the back of a book I have read. ” – http://www.travellingbookjunkie.com/14-fictional-works-canary-islands/
Thank you so much for thinking of my book!!!
You can buy a copy of The Drago Tree on Amazon
I am delighted to share this warm, 5 star review of my novel, A Perfect Square, from Kate Braithwaite, author of Charlatan.
“A Perfect Square is a clever, thoughtful literary novel which also manages to have a cracking plot and complex characters.
This is a book that grew and grew on me. I’ll admit to a false start the first time I picked it up. I felt there was a lot of moving around in the characters’ heads to the recent past, the far past and then back to the present. But when I sat down with a proper amount of time to dig into the story it was an absolute pleasure. Blackthorn has a great plot and lots of writing talent. Her descriptions are wonderful – both of people and places – and there was lots of fabulous language to enjoy. I loved the two parallel mother/daughter stories and was impressed by the way they intersected. It was also great to read so much about the creative process and to consider the challenges of creativity and motherhood.
I will certainly look to read Blackthorn’s other work. A Perfect Square is a clever, thoughtful literary novel which still manages to have a cracking plot and complex characters. It should appeal to lovers of psychological thrillers too – think artistic Gone Girl.” – – quoted from Goodreads
I’m thrilled to announce I’ve just signed the contract for a Spanish edition of The Drago Tree, to be released in 2017!
¡Estoy entusiasmada de anunciar que he firmado el contrato por una edición española de la novela, El Árbol Drago!
It’s an auspicious moment. I wrote the story with Pedro Almodovar’s movies running through my mind. I also had the rich history of Lanzarote and its incredible landscapes ever present inside me. I wanted to gift something to the island that had given something to me, a sense of place like no other I have experienced. The volcanos, the lava, the cuboid buildings, the sapphire ocean, the astonishing views, Lanzarote is an island to be treasured.
I’m not the only one to think so. Sections of the local government have pitted themselves against their Spanish counterparts on environmental issues, not least the drilling for oil off the island’s pristine coast. A David and Goliath battle, but when it came to drilling rights, the local authorities won, thanks to the efforts of activists and tourists alike, and the Spanish government backed down.
Seeing my words in another language brings a thrill of excitement. Now at last The Drago Tree will be available to a whole cohort of Spanish readers. I so hope they like it!
There is a toll for every virtue There is a tax for hearts like yours You didn't deserve your crazy childhood Or the loss of the brother you loved Cut down by animals in the night Those are scars that don't wash away No matter how many tears you cry When I'll think of you I'll see your smile And think of the battles you fought to be Let down by so many, we're only human, baby And both had rocky roads to bear You tried so hard to stand beside me You tried so hard to hold me close But you had too many ghosts to haunt you And they all got in our path In those hours after midnight When I knew I couldn't stay We were both two orphans We used to laugh and say But you got away, baby But why did it have to be this way? You were always such a loyal friend And you loved me to a fault Looking back you may've believed in me more than anyone And loved me more than I deserved But why did you have to prove your point like this? Gone, and taking all the laughter Gone, and taking all the kindness Gone, and taking all tomorrows And what may've been for you and yours The trouble with you was you cared for everyone Like a child in search of her own But too many things cluttered our space And we lost ourselves Too many things leave us alone Perhaps you got carried away by a foolish idea That all romantics exit like this But did you think of the pain you leave us? Did you want us to hurt so we'd understand yours? Too many questions without answers Just like those nights we'd argue until dawn I tried so hard to help you To make sense of what you'd been through But you couldn't understand me Your hurt was too deep to be cured Now every evening at sunset I'll look at that blazing sun and think of you It's going to take a lot to forgive The hurt you have bestowed us with So many took advantage So many manipulated behind the scenes They didn't realize how fragile you were Or perhaps they did And if so, they have blood on their hands I'll remember you pretty as a picture And a smile that'd light up a room With the excited joy of a child And those mad conversations that made no sense That ended in laughter or tears If you wanted part of my heart you have it But this was no way to take it It could've been yours for free (c) Frank Howson 2017