Publication date: December 10th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Ten frightful, shocking and bizarre short stories for those with a taste f...



Publication date: December 10th 2021

Ten frightful, shocking and bizarre short stories for those with a taste for the weird.

Among these sordid tales you will find an abandoned factory full of eccentric squatters, a group of thrill seeking swingers drifting through the cosmos, a drifter who speaks only in poetry, an A.I judge with a passion for justice, and many more mind warping absurdities guaranteed to get you screaming in your sleep.

Are you ready to hold...The Hand That Pulls You Under? 

Read now


James Flynn’s artwork has taken on many forms over the years. For as long as he can remember he’s always been an artist in some way or another, but the nature of his work has always shifted and changed. As a child he enjoyed drawing faces, and although this particular pleasure would return later in life, his teenage years led him into a very different corner of the art world.

During the late 1990’s James got lured into the thriving London graffiti scene. This huge art movement, which had spread out from New York in the 1980’s, completely engulfed him and changed his life. His childhood portraits gave way to edgy, letter-based designs, and spray paint became his preferred medium. Getting his artwork up across the walls and train lines of the south of England was the only thing that mattered to him for many years, spurring on a new stage of his artistic evolution, but his participation in this underground scene could not last forever. Graffiti was turning him into a criminal, and after a few brushes with the law (as well as brushes with death whilst walking along busy train tracks at night) he decided to turn his attention back to more traditional (and safer) forms of art.


After focusing on letter-based designs for so long he was craving the more intricate nature of portraiture once again, and in his early twenties he began creating a new body of work. Combining all of his learned methods into one, he developed his style and execution in a big way. From around 2008 to 2016 James produced countless portraits, and even began to branch out into figurative work. This was an immensely creative time for him, but another evolutionary step was about to take place.


With so many ideas running through his head, James was beginning to feel frustrated by the limitations of visual art. He had so many visions that he wanted to portray, so many things that he wanted to express, but the medium he was using simply wouldn’t allow it. It was during this creative crisis that he decided to start writing. As James recalls: ‘Visual art can portray a hell of a lot, anyone who’s ever “lost themselves” in a painting can definitely vouch for that, but it still has less dimensions than writing. My creative streak was on overdrive and I needed an outlet for it, I needed a way to express it, and a book seemed like the only way to do it.’ His debut novel was published in early 2017, and at the time it was his biggest ever artistic pursuit. Conservation, a work of SF horror, contains James Flynn’s own blood, sweat and tears, and the book also symbolises the broadening of his artistic passion. Conservation changed the direction of James’s art, and now he has several books in the pipeline. His second book, The Edge of Insanity, is due to be released in 2020, and will be full of new drawings and sketches to accompany the stories that it’ll contain.

Although certain works are available for purchase on this site, James’s primary motivation for creating art is far from commercial. When working on a drawing, painting or book, his only intention is to make something of unique quality. ‘Selling my work is nice,’ he recalls, ‘but even if I knew that I’d never sell a single book or drawing, I’d still create them.’ Much of his work is dark and macabre in nature, focusing on the unpleasant aspects of existence. This may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s become a trademark for James now, attracting a loyal niche following.

James Flynn’s artwork has taken on many forms over the years. For as long as he can remember he’s always been an artist in some way or another, but the nature of his work has always shifted and changed. As a child he enjoyed drawing faces, and although this particular pleasure would return later in life, his teenage years led him into a very different corner of the art world.

During the late 1990’s James got lured into the thriving London graffiti scene. This huge art movement, which had spread out from New York in the 1980’s, completely engulfed him and changed his life. His childhood portraits gave way to edgy, letter-based designs, and spray paint became his preferred medium. Getting his artwork up across the walls and train lines of the south of England was the only thing that mattered to him for many years, spurring on a new stage of his artistic evolution, but his participation in this underground scene could not last forever. Graffiti was turning him into a criminal, and after a few brushes with the law (as well as brushes with death whilst walking along busy train tracks at night) he decided to turn his attention back to more traditional (and safer) forms of art.

After focusing on letter-based designs for so long he was craving the more intricate nature of portraiture once again, and in his early twenties he began creating a new body of work. Combining all of his learned methods into one, he developed his style and execution in a big way. From around 2008 to 2016 James produced countless portraits, and even began to branch out into figurative work. This was an immensely creative time for him, but another evolutionary step was about to take place.

With so many ideas running through his head, James was beginning to feel frustrated by the limitations of visual art. He had so many visions that he wanted to portray, so many things that he wanted to express, but the medium he was using simply wouldn’t allow it. It was during this creative crisis that he decided to start writing. As James recalls: ‘Visual art can portray a hell of a lot, anyone who’s ever “lost themselves” in a painting can definitely vouch for that, but it still has less dimensions than writing. My creative streak was on overdrive and I needed an outlet for it, I needed a way to express it, and a book seemed like the only way to do it.’ His debut novel was published in early 2017, and at the time it was his biggest ever artistic pursuit. Conservation, a work of SF horror, contains James Flynn’s own blood, sweat and tears, and the book also symbolises the broadening of his artistic passion. Conservation changed the direction of James’s art, and now he has several books in the pipeline. His second book, The Edge of Insanity, is due to be released in 2020, and will be full of new drawings and sketches to accompany the stories that it’ll contain.

Although certain works are available for purchase on this site, James’s primary motivation for creating art is far from commercial. When working on a drawing, painting or book, his only intention is to make something of unique quality. ‘Selling my work is nice,’ he recalls, ‘but even if I knew that I’d never sell a single book or drawing, I’d still create them.’ Much of his work is dark and macabre in nature, focusing on the unpleasant aspects of existence. This may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s become a trademark for James now, attracting a loyal niche following.be to everyone’s taste, but it’s become a trademark for James now, attracting a loyal niche following.

Today's Author Spotlight is author Craig Wallwork! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 15th, 2021 Amazon |  Goo...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Craig Wallwork!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: September 15th, 2021

A prematurely ageing girl learns to fly during the end of the world. A husband makes the ultimate sacrifice for his dying wife. Two brothers endure a rainstorm that lasts five years. A father tries to save his daughter from a sleeping epidemic. A man books into a hotel where the guests check in but never check out. A group of fine-dining cannibals worry where their next meal will come from. And a grieving mother goes in search of ghosts in a haunted house.

Human Tenderloin is a collection of horror stories with heart. Some will goose the skin. Others will leave you bloated with terror. But each one will stay with you.


What's your latest release? 

Human Tenderloin: A Collection of Horror Stories. Think stories that are very dark, but with heart. 

It'll be released September 15th on hardback, paperback and Kindle. I was fortunate enough to get author quotes from some very cool writers in the horror world too. So if you don't believe me that it's a great collection worthy of being next to your Stephen King's and Clive Barker's, listen to these wonderful people: 

“From old school in-your-face horror to quiet dread-fueled chamber pieces, Wallwork infuses a uniquely absurd, macabre sense of humor as well as a sense of the humane. Bon appetite.”—Paul Tremblay, author of Survivor Song and A Head Full of Ghosts.

“These stories don’t just leave you moving through the world differently, they leave you moving through your own head differently. And don’t look behind yourself, either. There may just be bloody footprints.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

"Craig Wallwork's Human Tenderloin will carve new paths in your heart. Straight through the meat, to dark pockets you didn't even know were there. It will change your emotional geography, and there's no changing back."—Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of The Bone Weaver's Orchard.

"There is a dark immediacy to the worlds within this collection – a bony finger beckoning us into Wallwork's haunted mind. A compelling blend of bleakness, grief, horror and hope."—Laurel Hightower, author of Crossroads and Whispers in the Dark.

"These stories will slice through the skin, slip into your bloodstream, and shape your nightmares. Craig Wallwork is your curator and guide through this wonderfully macabre gallery of sharp tales. Ranging from the tragic to the mythic, to the heartbreaking and horrific, this collection is sure to leave you unsettled."—Tyler Jones, author of Criterium and Almost Ruth.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

I’ll be jumping back into the Tom Nolan thriller/horror series. The first book is called Bad People, which follows Detective Constable Tom Nolan as he uncovers a strange cult that has been abducting children from a small Yorkshire village in England. The second book, Labyrinth of the Dolls, continues his pursuit to track down a new serial killer involved in the cult. The one I’m writing now will be the last in the series, and a fitting end to the trilogy. It’s had comparisons to Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Silence of the Lambs, so if readers like police procedural thrillers that are dark and gory, then they’re worth checking out. I can offer an exclusive - the last book in the Tom Nolan series will be titled Kill Room. And it’s going to get bloody. Very bloody. 


Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

The one that sticks out the most is Daniel Crabtree from my debut novel, The Sound of Loneliness. Crabtree was the cynical, bitter, misanthropic person I push down deep inside myself so I’m able to function in society. Though the story is loosely semi-biographical, Crabtree was also a pastiche of author John Fante’s character Bandini from the novels Ask the Dust and The Road to Los Angeles - a struggling author embittered by the hand life dealt him. Taking Bandini as the blueprint, and amalgamating him with my cockeyed view of the world, I found writing that character very liberating. Crabtree was the protagonist, and the antagonist, rolled into one. He was funny and annoying, and a tonic to the stuffy middle-class characters often found in British literature. Many hated him. Some found him hilarious and endearing. But above all else, he wasn’t boring to read. That I’ve not revisited that book in over ten years is probably a good thing. I was a different writer then, trying to find my groove, and just how nostalgia has that ability to paint over the cracks of our past, I will always remember him fondly. 


In your opinion what makes a good story?

Solid writing, rich characters and a half decent plot. To be honest, I’d compromise on plot if the writing is sublime and the characters are engaging. I found that most of the books I loved as a younger man were character driven, literary novels. I fell in love with words, metaphor, and syntax. This is what I look for now. I struggle to read airport fiction - the mass market paperbacks where the writing is compromised for plot. For a long time, the thriller genre never interested me. It was only until I read books by Thomas Harris, or Laird Barron’s crime series, that I jumped into writing in that genre. Those two authors, and many others that fall outside the usual Lee Childs, Baldacci, Grisham and Pattersons of this world, taught me you can have a literary edge when writing thrillers. It also helps that I work alongside detectives for my day job, so I had a wealth of knowledge at my disposal. 


Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

Yes. But I only remember the bad ones. And I'll tell you now, that's the same for all writers. 


What led you to start writing?

I’m a failed film director. Writing is the nearest I can get to directing a movie without having to find funding, spend months in the cold at all hours, and go begging to a distributor. What I do is transcribe the little movies in my head to page, which is probably why I spend a long time on things like sensory perception. It’s important to me that the reader sees the world I’ve created, that they feel the emotions passing through the characters. If I could, I would recommend reading my novels in a dark room while eating a box of popcorn. 

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I grew up in the Video Nasty era of cinema, and my father was an alcoholic. Those two combined meant that my father’s friends passed various pirated copies of banned movies around in the local pubs, which inevitably ended up in our home. From an early age, I was privy to some gory scenes, albeit all were tempered by my father’s counsel that the blood was really corn syrup, and the decapitated head was from a mannequin. So you could say it exposed me to the darker side of storytelling from an early age. This could have unbalanced my mental state, but I grew to understand that horror is fun, and later, as my understanding of the genre grew, it was used to help translate bigger issues without being so direct. It’s in the realisation that the shark in Jaws is not only a Great White terrorising the small town of Amity but also a metaphor for the recession; or that The Brood was really the director’s way of coping with the horror of his divorce; or that Carpenter’s The Thing could be viewed as a story about aliens coming to earth, but it may well also be about the AIDS epidemic and the paranoia surrounding that era, that I fell in love with horror. It became the blanket we throw over the atrocities that some find hard to articulate. And because I lack a backbone when talking about personal issues, I naturally gravitated to the genre so I can hide behind the metaphor. 


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Ólafur Arnalds and the works  of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. 


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

What you write is indelible, so be careful what you commit to paper. And for the love of God, take your time.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

The Exorcist. And maybe something like Harold and Maude or Cinema Paradiso. 


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

I actually live in a cottage, though I have seen no fairies in the back fields or garden, so I’m going to opt for the haunted house. That said, I’m sceptical of supernatural phenomena or anything seated outside of reality. I work in a reputed haunted building, and one of the horror stories in Human Tenderloin, my new horror collection, tells of true-life incidents and accounts from staff members who have seen ghosts or experienced paranormal activity. Listening to all those accounts should have helped convinced me ghosts exist, but it’s left me leaning more towards science and pragmatism. In that story, titled The Ballad of Windsong House, I don’t discount or bolster the existence of ghosts. I play, no pun intended, Devil’s advocate, presenting the stories as they were told me, all wrapped around a fictional narrative about a group of work colleagues staying in the haunted building. It’s not my intention to discount or convince, but if the reader goes away believing there’s life after this world, I’ll be happy. All a writer can do is provide a story, and if that story resonates, or changes a person, then there is no better reward. And that’s my hope for The Ballad of Windsong House, and all the stories in Human Tenderloin - that at least one story changes the reader, however small that may be. 


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

You can find me mostly on Instagram: @craig_wallwork. Even though I have a Twitter and Facebook account, I prefer the sanity of Instagram. I also have a website where you can subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free book, or just read my jibber jabber on the blog section. www.craigwallwork.com 


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

You're going to get hurt. You're going to doubt everything you write. You'll resent your peers when they get published and you don't. So write like you're the only person left on the planet. Write for you, and if you do that, you'll realise you're not alone. 

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thank you for having me. And I don't know about you, but I could really do with a coffee. 


Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, and The Sound of Loneliness, as well as the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, many of which feature in various anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in England.


Craig, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest on Cats Luv Coffee! Be sure to check out Human Tenderloin when it releases on the 15th!

Publication date: November 13th, 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads S ebastian “Seb” McAlister has run out of luck in Vegas. Cornered by a tr...



Publication date: November 13th, 2020

Sebastian “Seb” McAlister has run out of luck in Vegas. Cornered by a trigger-happy gang and shot through the stomach, he makes a desperate escape in his supercharged Hellcat. Fate guides Seb safely out of Sin City and into the desert, but as his wheels fade into the horizon, he fades into darkness.

He awakes among a tiny community in the middle of nowhere. A mountain range circles the hodgepodge of shacks like prison walls looming high. And the warden that resides in those mountains is big, ugly, and deadly—a creature straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

If Seb hopes to escape that wayward way station, he’ll need enough cunning to outwit a force beyond comprehension… and a fast car. With a little luck and a ragtag group of would-be monster mashers racing alongside him, Seb just might have a shot of making it through the mountains alive.


What happens when you combine fast cars, Las Vegas gang shootouts, and Lovecraft? You get this weird but fun acerbic romp with Jason Parent! Eight Cylinders is the love child of cosmic horror and Fast and the Furious. 

The story opens with Sebastian “Seb” McAlister in the middle of an abandoned department store parking lot shoot out with the local Chinese drug lord questioning the mini Magic 8 ball he'd taken from said drug lord's eye socket. Yes, you read that right. First, someone was using it as a fake eye. Second, Seb took it and pocketed it. Third, he's actually asking it for advice. When his partner in crime is killed and Seb is wounded, he takes off in his stolen SRT Hellcat with no destination except the advice of his mini Magic 8 ball. He passes out from blood loss and wakes up trapped in the mountains of the desert with strange companions and surrounded by a giant tentacle monster that won't let them leave.

Seb is an interesting character. He's a criminal with a conscience and an erstwhile crime noir internal dialogue. He cares about three things: his partner, his girlfriend, and his new boosted hot rod, so let's not give him too much credit, shall we? Admittedly selfish, reckless, and maybe a bit crazy, he's still the perfect anti-hero to band together this merry bunch of weirdos, uniting them under a common cause and possibly leading them to freedom. 

Is this sci-fi? Action? Horror? Who knows and who really cares? This novella isn't going to strain your brain. It's meant to be fast and dirty like Saturday nights drifting at the track.  It starts with a bang and ends with a movie-style ending—unfinished but satisfying. It's action-adventure storytelling at its best. Lots of guns and fast cars and regular guys turned badass. Don't expect things to make sense because they won't. Don't expect answers that you couldn't get from a Magic 8 ball. Things just are and they don't always fit within the range of what is possible. Eight Cylinders is just an entertaining read that puts the pedal to the metal and rides hell for leather for the hills.  
 

Today's Author Spotlight is author Margot de Klerk! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: July 21st, 2021 Amazon |  Goodrea...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Margot de Klerk!

Read on for the full interview.



Publication date: July 21st, 2021

Nathan is a vampire hunter on the cusp of graduation. He’s been training for this his entire life: the moment he qualifies and joins the rest of his family in their noble calling.

If only it were that simple.

His grades are a mess, his social life is a disaster, and what’s worse, his best friend is a witch! Add to that, his vampire uncle is back in town and his crush might just be supernatural too, and you have one big melting pot of potential parental disapproval. Nathan doesn’t think he can take much more, and then the dark mages come to town.

As bodies begin piling up in the streets, Nathan finds himself pulled deeper into political intrigue and a deadly plot that will pit him against his own family. When the girl he likes comes under threat, Nathan races against time to solve the mystery... well aware that with every step he takes, he comes closer to his father exposing all his secrets.



What's your latest release? 

Wicked Magic, the first book in the Vampires of Oxford series, was released on 21 July 2021. Vampires of Oxford is a series of standalone novels, exploring the lives and adventures of different characters in an alternate universe where vampires and witches live amongst us. Wicked Magic is all about Nathan, a vampire hunter who finds himself siding with the vampires he’s supposed to hate.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

My debut novel is Wicked Magic. It’s a story about a vampire hunter-in-training, Nathan, who’s about to graduate. He finds himself doubting the values he’s been raised with. It’s very much a story about that awkward time in life, where you’re struggling with more and more responsibilities, trying to figure out who you are independent of your parents, and learning to stand on your own two feet. It also has a little bit of romance and a supernatural mystery.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

This world has existed in my head for a long time, at least since 2013. I went to university in Oxford, and it’s a place which has always been very inspirational for me. I’ve also always loved vampire stories, and I knew my first novel would be a vampire novel.

Truth be told, I was actually working on a different novel in this series, and Nathan was a side character. One day, whilst I was working, I thought, “Hey, Nathan would be a really interesting character to explore some more.” The opening line popped into my head, and I started writing. One sleepless night later, I had fifteen thousand words written. I guess Nathan wanted his story to be told that badly.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

I start from a static point, knowing exactly how the character is at the beginning of the story. But I don’t plot out the character development. That grows organically. I like it the most when characters surprise me.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

I enjoy writing every character, but I think I love side characters the most. It’s so fun to think about who they really are, and then to filter that through the main character’s perspective. I especially love morally grey characters. They’re not the bad guys, but they’re going to do bad things. Through the main character’s perspective, I can make the reader think a certain thing about them. In Wicked Magic, I loved Adrian and Jeremiah the most. In my next novel, there’s one character… I can’t wait to see what people think of him.

Truth be told, though, I eventually fall in love with all my characters. If I don’t love them, it’s a sure sign that I need to cut them.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

A bit of both, I’d say. My novels are very character-driven. I like exploring who a person is and figuring out what they would or wouldn’t do. I’ll start with an overarching plot idea, but how it plays out will be decided by the characters. Who are they, where are they going? For me, they’re like real people with opinions, hopes, dreams. They don’t always do what I tell them to do! But I also love dropping hints about the main plot, and trying to trick the readers. My favourite thing is to write a character you think is good/bad… but they turn out to be the opposite.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I’ve been misusing the word “mercurial” my entire life! Also, I’m not as good as social media as I thought I was. My dad (who’s in his sixties) had to teach me how to use Twitter and Instagram. Ouch!

In your opinion what makes a good story?

It’s easy to say this is about world-building and characters, but for me it boils down to slightly more subtle things. The first is emotion. Do I, as the reader, feel the same things the character is feeling? I love a book that makes me excited when the characters are under stress, sad when they’re sad, etc. Writing style: I don’t like overly descriptive writing. A book that tells me how to feel is a no-no. I also don’t care where the doors and windows are. Dialogue: good dialogue will hook me in seconds. I’ll ignore a lot of flaws if the dialogue is great. Superb plot. I was reading a book recently, and I was literally a chapter away from DNFing it, and then the author killed off the love interest! Needless to say, I finished the book the same day. A story should be well thought out. I hate plot holes, and I really like to understand how the magic works from the start. I’ve read a few books that are about a character learning magic, and that’s fine, but that’s not an excuse to not explain what your magic is capable of from the start. Excellent worldbuilding: I’ll look at characters and plot first. To me the worldbuilding is the support staff. You might have great characters, but if the world has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, those characters are going to fall flat.

What can I say? I’m a fussy reader!

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Having only just published my debut novel, I’m not quite sure I’m qualified to answer this question yet, but I’ll give it a shot!

I used to be a very unstructured writer, working in fits and bursts. Publishing has forced me to get organised. I have lists and spreadsheets, and I work on the book and marketing for a few hours every day. I’ve had to be very disciplined, or else I’d have overshot my deadline.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

I read every review, and will continue to do so until I have too many reviews for it to be practical (and here’s to hoping that happens). I consider all feedback to be good feedback. That isn’t to say that negative feedback is fun! It hurts like an open wound. Generally, I have to take a day or two before I can consider objectively whether I want to address the negative feedback. I’m always glad when I can, because that’s when you learn, but sometimes it’s not possible/practical. Then I take it on board for the next book.

A bad review for me would be just trashing the book. I get nothing out of that, and I wonder why the reviewer bothered reading it? They didn’t get anything out of the reading, either. Those, I will ignore. Thankfully, there haven’t been any yet.

What led you to start writing?

I honestly don’t remember. Writing is just something I’ve always done, and I’ve known for years that I wanted to be an author. I remember being about eight years old. We were on the train back home from visiting my aunt, about a four-hour journey, and my brother and I wrote “mystery novels” on scrap paper with golf pencils. It was just something we always did.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

I don’t like sharing my manuscripts with anyone before I’ve finished the first draft. They’re always littered with mistakes and plot holes and random notes to myself. It also feels unlucky. I don’t know why, but I prefer for the first external feedback to be on a completed draft.

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I like young adult as an age group because I really enjoy exploring the tensions and conflicts that arise at that age. You’re not quite an adult, but very definitely not a child anymore. It was also a time of my life when books really helped me, so I want to honour that. As for fantasy, it’s a genre I’ve always loved. I love creating new worlds, drawing on mythology, and trying to find little bits of magic in everything.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?

“Actually” and “really”. Grammarly and I had a bit of a disagreement on the necessity of those words.

What are you currently reading?

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. No opinions yet, but I really do love the cover.

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

I usually listen to lofi music or coffeeshop jazz. It helps me concentrate. I’m one of those people who gets distracted very easily by any changes in environment.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Perseverance and plotting are the most important things, not inspiration. If you’ve plotted out your novel, and you can follow that plot and just push through the bad moments, inspiration will come back.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?

Definitely a cat. I love cats. I look after all the community cats in the area I live.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

I’ll take the cottage. I love writing scary stuff, but in real life I’m a massive scaredy cat.

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

Ooh, that’s a hard one! I will read any trope/perspective/writing style so long as it’s well written. That makes me sound like a very flexible reader, and I’m actually not. I have high standards for what counts as “well-written”. So I’d say there’s no one trope that annoys me, but poor editing, poor grammar, unnatural dialogue, or an annoying MC are likely to make me DNF. I don’t like obvious plots, nor do I like plot holes or unexplained magic of deus ex machinas. Lately I’m also a bit tired of the masquerade, where a teenager discovers a new world and then turns out to have world-saving superpowers. I prefer books about ordinary people managing to save the day with the limited abilities they have.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I only drink coffee when I’m writing. The rest of the time I’ll only drink tea.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

I’m MargotDKwrites on both Twitter and Instagram, and I love chatting to people. I will reply on both, though I prefer Instagram.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

The people who are close to you might not care as much about your writing as you want them to, and that’s going to be really tough. For example, I sent a family member my final draft, and he replied that he “might have time to read it before it’s published”. That hurt! Remember you’re completely immersed in your work, and so you’re obviously going to be really passionate about it. They’ll probably get a little sick of you talking about it all the time. They’ll take ages to read manuscripts, or they might not want to read your book at all. That’s okay. Keep annoying them! One day, you’ll publish a book that will touch someone’s heart. That’s what it’s all about.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

Yes! I’m working on the second book in my series. It’s about Cynthia (the love interest from book one). She’s just graduated school, and is heading to Berlin for a few weeks. I love writing about Berlin. I used to live there. It’s a brilliant city, with so much history and culture. It’s magical all on its own. I hope I can do it justice.

The summary will be up on my website soon, so people can head over there and find out a bit more about the trouble that Cynthia’s going to get herself into. Hint: a lot of trouble. Really, she’s totally unprepared.





Margot de Klerk is a British-born young adult fantasy writer in her late twenties. Born to South African parents, she has lived in six different countries and speaks several languages. She read German at the University of Oxford, and has a passion for old languages and linguistics. Her debut novel, Wicked Magic, was inspired by her time living in Oxford. When not writing, she enjoys photography, travelling, sewing, and various sports. She currently resides in Dubai.

Margot, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest on Cats Luv Coffee!

Publication date: May 4th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads O ne of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life wit...


Publication date: May 4th, 2021

One of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life with this trio of horror novellas set in Vampire: The Masquerade's World of Darkness by three brilliant talents: Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, and Caitlin Starling

The subtle horror and infernal politics of the World of Darkness are shown in a new light in Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us, an audio-first collection of three novellas that show the terror, hunger, and power of the Kindred as you've never seen them before.

In Genevieve Gornichec's A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES, depression and radicalization go hand-in-hand as a young woman finds companionship in the darkness...

In Cassandra Khaw's FINE PRINT, an arrogant tech bro learns the importance of reading the fine print in the contract for immortality...

And in Caitlin Starling's THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, ideals and ethics bump heads with appetite on a blood farm.

Three very different stories from three amazing, distinct voices, but all with one thing in common: the hunger never stops, and for someone to experience power, many others are going to have to feel pain.

Read now
 

  

Walk Among Us is a collection of three novellas set in the world of Vampire: The Masquerade. For those of you unfamiliar with Vampire: The Masquerade, it's a gothic tabletop RPG that rose to popularity in the 1990s.  Set in the "World of Darkness", players play vampires, complete with the struggle to maintain some humanity as well as navigating treacherous political machinations of both vampire and human alike. True to the vampires of that world, these stories are dark and broody. The vampires within these tales have diverse backgrounds and ideologies. 

"A Sheep Among Wolves" is the first foray into the world of White Wolf. This story by Genevieve Gornichec was the weakest of the bunch for me. In it, a college student dealing with depression and loneliness finds herself realizing a whole other world has been right in front of her. I struggled with this story the most. The pacing was incredibly slow and I really had to push myself to get through it. The main character felt very insipid and reserved. Any supporting characters went the reverse direction and were absurdly stereotypical. While I certainly appreciated the overall mental health theme, this one just felt like something I'd read before. 

The second story, Cassandra Khaw's "Fine Print", certainly elevates the collection. Bringing a modern-day touch, the main character here is someone that you love to see get what he deserves. Khaw brings this detestable character to life in hi-def and lets us take a seat to watch his undoing. Arrogant and overbearing, this rather tedious specimen of manhood thinks that he's getting the better deal when in all actuality he's getting played by vampires way older and smarter than he is. This one truly shows that vampires are inexhaustible masters of manipulative and cunning. 

"The Land of Milk and Honey" by Caitlin Starling brings up the rear in this collection. This unique story combines ethics and vampirism with this setting of sustenance and sustainable farming. Out of all the stories, I enjoyed this one the most. The strange quandary of needing blood to survive but to do so without killing is one that has been touched on before in vampire fiction but never quite in this way. It brings up some interesting parallels to our own struggles. This story has a bit of everything, some romance, a little treachery, and a lot of manipulation. 

For a collection that only holds three stories, it took a while to get through this one. I enjoyed the variety of themes presented by each story. Vampire fiction has been around for a long time so getting something that feels fresh is a unique experience in itself. 

Here is September's roundup of anticipated horror releases!  ( If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awes...



Here is September's roundup of anticipated horror releases! 


(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)



Publication date: August 31th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Adaline Rushner is a woman in pieces. Her daughters have gone missing, and ...


Publication date: August 31th, 2021


Adaline Rushner is a woman in pieces. Her daughters have gone missing, and although the authorities seem to have found their bodies, something still isn't right. Her husband, Cache, can't bear the pain and wants to move on, but Adaline can't shake the feeling they're still alive. She even starts seeing them in the house, though Cache does not. Adaline wonders whether this current tragedy has something to do with the misfortune and painful experiences she suffered in her own childhood, but her memories have gaps in them that she can't quite close on her own.

After Adaline and Cache move to Salt Lake City, everything gets even stranger. Local cop Officer Abbott thinks Adaline's distinctive owl necklace may somehow link to his own missing daughter. Adaline's neighbor Maggie offers assistance and comfort, but Adaline suspects her of hiding other truths from her. Adaline tries to prepare for her girls' eventual return while investigating her own past forgotten traumas, but a threatening message urges her to let the past stay forgotten. Can Adaline find the truth and save her marriage to Cache, or will the tangled web of memories from her past keep her from moving on?

Author Lauri Schoenfeld's psychological thriller is a suspenseful tale of family trauma, discovering our inner strength, and understanding the power of forgiveness.

Read now



Giving Your Characters Pain
by Lauri Schoenfeld

We all go through pain either psychologically, emotionally, or physically. A lot of times it can end up being all three. No one shares their agony exactly in the same way as another because of our different personalities, upbringing, experiences, and perspectives. None of us are free from it.

As you're writing, your character or characters will always have something in one of these areas that they're striving to get through—trying to understand and process. They may be searching out who they are, and maybe because of their upbringing or culture, this search causes them a great deal of affliction, going outside the grain of figuring those pieces out. Perhaps the loss of someone they love has greatly affected their worth, will, drive, or purpose for existence. Or physically, an illness they feel is so intense that even getting up to take a shower is too much to handle. Each area can weaken your character's spirit and heart.

Readers want to keep reading because pain is a universal thing, even if they don't completely relate to what that character's dealing with. They want to root for them. The readers feel the agony and empathize with how much this space hurts the characters deeply and want to be there to push them forward.

The hero's journey for our characters is constant movement within that anguish. Getting to the next step can be more intense, scary, hard, and worse before it gets better. Our characters will want to leave, but they'll have to make the hard choice to face it and keep going through the storm. By doing so, some answers, lessons, and moments will define them.

Here are a few examples from some of my favorite books. There are no spoilers on endings!

From Fault in Our Stars, the character Hazel Grace Lancaster is a seventeen-year-old who has thyroid cancer. It's started to spread into her lungs, so she uses a portable oxygen tank to breathe properly. Hazel feels suffering day in and day out. She wants to be understood. To appease her mother, she attends a cancer patient's support group and meets a teenage boy named Augustus Waters. They begin to build a friendship, and she finds out he had osteosarcoma but had his leg amputated and is cancer-free. With their friendship, they're able to help each other with the struggles they both face.

In Shutter Island, Teddy Daniels is devastated by the loss of his wife, which took place in a fire. The grief he feels messes with him both emotionally and psychologically, sending him spirally to look for answers about his wife's death and his own sanity. He wants truth and answers. The story makes you question the depth of this man's sorrow, and you can't help but wonder where his head's at, but you're rooting for him to figure it out.

In Wonder, August Pullman, also known as Auggie, has "mandibulofacial dysostosis," a rare facial deformity. Surgery is not uncommon for him, as he's had (27) of them. Auggie's been homeschooled by his mom for eleven years, so when he's enrolled to go to 5th grade in a public school, pain, and fear of being different sets in. He wants to be accepted and liked. Auggie goes to school anyways and faces the unknown each day.

What hardship is your character dealing with?

Is it physical, mental, or emotional? All of them?

What would your character/characters have to do to face that pain? The next step forward?

What is one thing that your character wants and is in search of?

        • Hazel wants to be understood/friendship.
        • Teddy wants truth and answers.
        • Auggie wants to be accepted and liked as he is.

For fun and research, go through some of your favorite movies and establish the characters' ultimate affliction and want/need (goal). Or even think about your own life story, a friend, or a family member. How has their pain/ struggle made them tick? React? How have they handled it?

Now, write that novel. Bring in all the raw emotion, so the reader's sucked into feeling it all right along with your character.

  

Publication date: August 5th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Fal...


Publication date: August 5th, 2021

From its creepy town mascot to the story of its cursed waterfall, Burden Falls is a small town dripping with superstition. Ava Thorn knows this well – since the horrific accident she witnessed a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares.

But when her school nemesis is brutally murdered and Ava is the primary suspect, she starts to wonder if the legends surrounding the town are more fact than fiction.

Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose, and they have a vendetta against the Thorns…

Read now


 
Kat Ellis opens the curtain on this small town thriller with the introduction to our protagonist, Ava Thorn. Ava, a senior in high school, has been ousted from her childhood home, the manor and grounds of the once-thriving Thorn apple orchards which has been owned by the family for generations. To make matters so much worse, it's been sold by her uncle to the one person Ava despises most—the man who collided with her parents' car and who she blames for her parents' deaths—Madoc Miller. When one of the Millers turns up dead and Ava is the one to discover the body, rumors start to fly of Dead Eyed Sadie, a blight upon the Thorn family history.  But is Sadie really behind the death or is it less supernatural?

The small-town setting of Burden Falls is absolutely dripping with superstitions from Dead Eyed Sadie to the drawings of the evil eye everywhere. This is one small town where the roots go deep and sometimes tear themselves out of the grave to haunt you. It's impossible for everyone in town to not know what's happening and easier for the rumors to spread. To make things even more interesting, Dead Eyed Sadie is a harbinger of death for the Thorns. It's rumored that every Thorn who has died has seen Sadie right before death and Ava even has first-hand knowledge of that with her dad's sighting right before the wreck. Is Dead Eyed Sadie for real? It's hard to know for sure.  There's a crosshatching of supernatural and natural that is surprisingly effortless here.  

Ava is an interesting MC. High schooler. Outsider. Bloody Thorn. The death of her parents is fresh in her mind as it only happened last year. She has the added benefit of being right there in the car with them when it occurred and those seconds are etched on her mind and heart. Typically, teenage protagonists annoy me. They are self-centered and vapid. While some of the side characters (looking at you, Ford), definitely had no inkling how to think of anyone but themselves, Ava is fallible and yet still lionhearted and intelligent. She's also grieving and attempting to come to grips with what her new life holds. On the outside, she's fine but internally, she's just trying to hold it together. Anyone who has ever endured grief like this knows that every day you might wake up with a completely different emotion than you had the day before. That made Ava much more relatable with the layers of emotions that she experiences. From our external viewpoint, we still know that Ava is an incredibly unreliable narrator. She dreams things that feel real and has moments of seeing things that are there—until they aren't. She doesn't even know if she can trust herself to know the truth. It's a fantastic trick to make the reader second guess everything but Ava is so vulnerable that you want desperately to believe in her.

This is one of those mysteries that the person you least expect is always the person you should most suspect. I can't say there were any surprises in the end given that formula but I enjoyed the ride. Even though it's technically YA, Ava's maturity has been thrust upon her and made her read much older. Great characters with complicated relationships start you down this dismal path but the urban legends, dark familial history, and a splash of blood will keep you there until the end. 


Kat Ellis is a young adult author whose novels include Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls (August 2021), Harrow Lake (July 2020), Purge (September 2016), Breaker (May 2016), and Blackfin Sky (May 2014). She is a fan of all things horror and sci-fi, and a keen explorer of ruins, castles and cemeteries – all of which are plentiful in North Wales, where Kat lives with her husband.
You can find out more about Kat at www.katelliswrites.com or connect with her on social media. 
Email: katelliswrites@gmail.com
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Publication date: July 18th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Flirting with evil will be the ruination of her soul. Goodness is much easier ...


Publication date: July 18th 2021


Flirting with evil will be the ruination of her soul.

Goodness is much easier to corrupt than it is to hold on to. And for Natasha, a woman reeling from the pain of losing a loved one, evil is all the more tempting. Luck or misfortune spirits Natasha away to the foreign Court of Velaris in a quest for a suitor but instead secures her a place among Velarian royalty. Craving revenge, Natasha makes use of this opportunity to enact her plans as she navigates the lush court where aristocracy is a double-edged blade. But when she befriends her soon-to-be husband Mikhail, the Beloved Prince, Natasha makes a deadly mistake. She captures the attention of the debonair Darkling Prince; a villainous man meant to ascend the Velarian throne.

Enamored, the Darkling Prince charms Natasha, and soon the two feel a forbidden emotion captivate their stoic, scabrous hearts. But with the existence of a violent rebel group capable of cataclysmic damage, there is little time for love. With war brewing amidst the enigmatic kingdom, the royals must become all the more cunning and devious if they wish to triumph over their adversaries. What draws the insidious line between right and wrong when it comes to a battle of survival? For Natasha, nothing is too far, too light, too bloody, too evil.

Soon, the only reflection Natasha sees in her mirror's beveled glass is that of an Evil Queen. Often, the cost of survival is more frightening than the beasts of death. But that's what gives the Queen of Shadow's beauty an edge: she wears her darkness adorned about her throat like the grandest of all diamonds, ebony, and bloodred in shade

Read now
  

Publication date: September 2nd, 2021 Tales from the Midnight Forest is an enthralling collection of unusual shapeshifter stories you won...


Publication date: September 2nd, 2021


Tales from the Midnight Forest is an enthralling collection of unusual shapeshifter stories you won't want to miss!


Enjoy five hauntingly suspenseful stories that will leave you guessing until the end.


Amberflame


Take a midnight walk with Willa to meet her lover. But keep an eye on the sky, or you might not make it home.

Amélie


A castle under siege. A magic amulet. Amélie is on her own. She knows that the enemy has come a long way and will take no prisoners.


Artemis' Wings


Cross the cursed lake with Artemis to face an evil sorcerer. But beware. Something is lurking in the dark waters.

Aura


Breitenau is in flames. Marielle can’t control the fire. Who will she turn to for help when there is no one left to trust?

Anguish


Enjoy an evening in the gardens of Asterbury Hall with Mary. But careful! The creature in the hedges has teeth, and it will bite.

Read now
   




Silently gliding down from the hill, the crimson dragon was so close, its mighty horn-tipped wings whispered against the treetops. It was a wonder the beast didn’t see Willa on the narrow road below.
Ingunde’s cat disappeared into the undergrowth, and Willa froze, unable to move, unable to breathe as she listened to the hoarse sound of Amberflame filling her lungs with air as she slowed her advance. Then, a bellowing roar shattered the night, and the sky lit up as the dragon’s first firebolt hit the church belfry, killing the slumbering guard.
The little steeple exploded in a red-hot blast, and burning debris rained down on the bridge. A molten clump of iron – the remains of the bell – came down in the river with a thud, smashing the ice on the water’s surface.
At last, Willa came to her senses and bolted, arms up to protect her head. She took cover behind the woodpile Ingunde kept beside her cottage. Why was this happening? Why tonight? The dragon rose, doubled back, and dipped once again, spewing another gush of flaming bile at the church. The force of the flare took what remained of the roof clean off, and the whole building was ablaze.
Amberflame ascended and circled, and moments later, another explosion ripped through the air, but Willa couldn’t see where. There was too much smoke, and it bit into her lungs. Something touched her shoulder, and she screamed, realizing a second later that it was only Ingunde. Deathly pale, barefoot, and in her nightgown, the old woman looked like an apparition.
“Come on!” the midwife yelled, dragging her to her feet. “We have to get away from the house!”
Willa knew she was right, but at the same time, doing so probably played straight into the dragon’s strategy: Amberflame destroyed buildings to draw as many people as possible out into the open, where they would either become easy targets or get to watch the carnage.
Willa moved through the trees, following Ingunde as though in a dream, running for her life without feeling the soles of her feet touching the ground. The sensation only wore off when they reached a rocky alcove some way into the forest and she regained some sense of direction.
The alcove was protected from three sides, and a cluster of too-densely grown young beeches
and bare hazel bushes provided cover near the opening. The narrow cavity in the hillside had once served as one of two entrances to a silver mine that had collapsed over a century ago.
It had been blocked so children wouldn’t wander inside, but the honeycombed earth was always shifting here with the autumn rains and the winter storms. A gap in the wall had widened sufficiently to allow the two women to crawl inside one after the other just as the dragon’s next blast of fire hit.
For a second, golden shafts of light speared into the mine’s entrance, illuminating the claustrophobic space around them. They both knew the monster had aimed for Ingunde’s house.
The only other building this far up on the hillside was the hunting cabin near the top. Willa’s stomach lurched.
“No,” she whimpered. She was about to turn and inch back out the way she’d come, but Ingunde grabbed her around the waist.
“Don’t!” the midwife hissed. “Stay here!”
“Let me go!” Willa’s eyes filled with tears.
The cabin wasn’t far, and she had to warn him. She’d be there in no time if she scampered straight up the slope instead of taking the path, but Ingunde didn’t have to tell her that this would be suicide. 

– excerpt from Amberflame



Lisa Hofmann's debut novel, Stealing the Light, received top star ratings and reviews on the Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly platforms for independently published works.

Lisa is a European-based writer, born in 1975. She was educated in the nerd factories of Germany and the mystery moors of Ireland. Before she began writing medieval and shapeshifter fiction in her late thirties, she worked internationally as an interpreter, translating specialized publications on early education and literacy.

She is a genuine Dr Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde: a teacher of multilingual children by day, and producer of character-driven fantasy novels by night. Since Stealing the Light, she has published three other novels and several shorter works. She writes predominantly in English and works with a weather-proofed Pennsylvania-based American editor.

Lisa lives in Germany with her husband, their three outrageous children, and a house full of exceptionally vocal pets. Whenever she finds herself teetering on the brink of boredom, she will generally resort to exploring old towns and castles, walks in the woods, and reading anything that other people throw at her.