Publication date: September 14th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W elcome to the decrepit Woodmoor Manor…where something in the woods is ...


Publication date: September 14th, 2021


Welcome to the decrepit Woodmoor Manor…where something in the woods is always watching. From the author of Scritch Scratch comes a chilling middle grade story about a creepy mansion and sinister creatures in the woods

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to relax. But when Ginny's father—a respected restoration expert in Chicago—surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren't staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they're staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures that escaped a mad scientist over a hundred years ago. And some say campers routinely disappear never to be seen again.

When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: there's more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren't after campers.

They're after her.

Read now
 
This is my second book by Lindsay Currie and I absolutely love her style. (You can read my review of Scritch Scratch here.) Her books so far seem to follow a pretty basic formula: preteen gets to head into some spooky sites, manages to find herself mixed up in a Scooby style mystery, and does some sleuthing into the past to discover exactly why what's happening is happening. Though just because something is formulaic doesn't have to mean it's boring or predictable. There's plenty here to draw you in and get you invested. 

Ginny is a great character with relatable worries and fears. Of course, part of that is moving out to the middle of nowhere into this ginormous mansion while her father discovers what it will take to rehab the old place. Especially when she hears that there may be more to Woodmore Manor than she expected...a lot more. Ginny also happens to be very smart and curious about things that she doesn't already know about so it's not long before she's researching its history. She's a huge Agatha Christie fan so figuring out the mystery is completely her thing. She also manages to drag her brother and a newfound friend into helping solve the mystery. Family and friendship feature front and center in the relationships that Lindsay Currie creates. 

If you think middle grade can't be spooky, there are plenty of chills in this haunted house story. The author starts slowly with a few unnerving encounters that could easily be brushed off, but as the story proceeds, those moments become more and more startling. As with Scritch Scratch, there are some pretty terrifying moments that our protagonist Ginny encounters. One in particular probably would have pre-teen me sleeping with the lights on. I love that she doesn't hold back with the scares. However, by the end of the book, she also manages to make it all okay or at least manages to make it all make sense. Sometimes just knowing why something is happening makes it less scary. 

This is one of those books that keeps you turning pages until the very end. The pacing is fantastic and once it starts rolling, this story doesn't slow down. I couldn't wait for Ginny and the crew to figure things out. While there are some things that might seem a little predictable, it's almost in that yell-at-the-characters-on-tv way. You might have figured it out watching from the outside in, but they haven't and you can't wait until it all clicks for everyone. What Lives in the Woods was a treat and I can't wait to read whatever comes next. 




Today's Author Spotlight is author Frank Winter! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 18th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  ...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Frank Winter!
Read on for the full interview.




Publication date: September 18th, 2021


One last dance... Homecoming was going to be the best night of their lives for the students of Villa Vista High School, but instead it became their last. Love was in the air as several couples among the crowd found themselves at a crossroads. Expectations were high, but the future was less certain than they could ever imagine.

Death was not the end. The students found that Hell looks a lot like high school. The afterlife only offered more questions than answers, but one question took center stage. With grief and anger consuming them, the search for the killer began.

Now the accused must survive the wrath of their classmates, while continuing their own search for atonement and escape. Their Limbo could give way at any moment, and they have no idea how far down the Circles they might fall.

Read now


What's your latest release? 

"Homecoming" is my debut novel. It's a 571 page, 196K word Thriller / Murder Mystery with strong Supernatural Romance themes. The Amazon blurb really gets the plot synopsis across.

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

"Homecoming" is the story of several high school couples at a crossroads of their relationship when they are suddenly murdered a the titular high school dance. They must navigate the strange afterlife they wake up in to not only solve their own murder, but prove their own innocence to their vengeful classmates. As all that unfolds, they must escape from Limbo and find their killer.
It's "John Hughes meets Stephen King" or "'Heathers' meets Tim Burton". If you enjoy any of those creators, you should check it out.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


One very specific and very real incident that happened to me back in high school. Our school was threatened by an *accidental* event, which if left undiscovered could have turned out like the disaster described in "Homecoming".

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


I had a basic outline of who each of the characters were going to be, influenced somewhat by the part they had to play in the story and by some of the real life people and characters that inspired them. However, everything after that was much more organic. The nuances and quirks of their personalities showed up in the little interactions they had with everyone else.

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

For "Homecoming", the main character, Blaire, for sure. I feel like I put small (but different) parts of myself into all of the main ensemble. In my high school days, and probably even now, I'd relate to her the most.

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


Without sounding like I'm trying to have it both ways, the interaction of both. "Homecoming" has an ensemble cast so it cycles between five groups of two people (most of whom are couples). So the major plotline advances with the development of each of their individual/couple arcs. I do already have the basic story framework in place before they get fleshed out as characters though, so I would say plot, ultimately.

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


One thing I learned, which I already sort of suspected, is that my emotions can be heavily swayed by the seasons, and that my most creative writing months are in the ... Winter. That is actually only the fourth reason why I picked that pen name, but it's absolutely true. Between the Solstice and Spring Equinox I can churn out 25K words per week of raw manuscript.

The first chapter of "Homecoming" actually played out for me in a dream on Christmas morning 2020. It was the closest thing I've ever felt to divine inspiration. From that experience, I learned to simply "go with it.

In your opinion what makes a good story?


Probably a basic answer, but a good story is one that is compelling for you as a reader. A lot of subjectivity is involved. Taste in genre, length of the work, pacing, format (Book vs TV/Movie) all play a part in how its valued by you as a person. There are definitely some objective measures that come into play, but a great deal of what makes a story uniquely good are those qualities that are beautiful in the eye of the beholder.

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


Just the accomplishment of crossing the finish line was a big moral booster for me. While the seed of the idea came to me over a decade ago, actually transforming that into a finished novel has been a very gratifying experience.

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


I definitely read my reviews, even the bad ones, at least once. It's like Pandora's Box. I have to look inside, even just that first time. Every author needs to learn to deal with negative criticism in their own ways. The key is properly processing constructive/legitimate criticism and filtering out the toxic or vacuous reactions which lay more in the personality or preferences of the reviewer.

And of course, you're not going to complain about good reviews. The best ones are the long ones, very drawn out explanations of exactly what someone liked about your work and how it was meaningful to them. Not only is it emotionally edifying, but it's a great indicator of what to keep doing in the future.

What led you to start writing?


I mention this in the book's Acknowledgements, but I had an English professor in my first semester at University who was very inspirational. She was a Ms. Frizzle type, very eccentric and enthusiastic. I started writing fiction on a weekly basis, even after I passed her G.E. class. Despite my dozens of engineering classes, she had the single most important impact on my life.

Do you have any writing superstitions?


I'm very paranoid about losing progress after a big writing session. I will email copies of the latest version to myself through several separate email accounts, and save local file copies to several different hard drives.

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


I've always been a fan of Thrillers, the Supernatural, and Romance. In the case of Thrillers, my favorite author, and the one whom my writing style or "author's voice" is most heavily influenced by, is Michael Crichton. I was a dinosaur kid growing up, and the Jurassic Park film was the pinnacle of that childhood pastime.

In the case of the other genres, I've described "Homecoming" to friends and family as "John Hughes meets Stephen King" or "'Heathers' meets Tim Burton". All of those creators and properties were major influences on me as a writer and this novel in particular.

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


"Absolutely" and "Of course" are turns of phrase I default to a lot. It's how I talk in my daily life, so it sounds like the most natural dialogue to me. I always have thesaurus websites open to mitigate some of those crutches. Plus I try to give each character their own default phrases to help individualize them better.

What are you currently reading?


I'm currently re-reading one of my favorite non-fiction books. "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes. It is a mindblowing collection of theories by the 1970's psychologist about how he believes consciousness manifested in Homo Sapiens. Anyone with a passing interest in Pop Anthropology or want to dig into something that makes you question your own humanity and agency should check it out.

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


Yes, definitely. Music is a big part of my life, almost as big as writing. I'm always listening to songs, soundtracks (such as film, TV, & video game scores), and a variety of other things while I write. With this first book, "Homecoming", I have a playlist of nearly 300 tracks that could almost be considered an unofficial OST.
I also commissioned a theme song for the novel which will play prominently in the audiobook , but can already be heard in the promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E56VcaH42Y8

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


Self-publish something sooner. Just take the shot, give it a try and put something out there.

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


I love vegging out to old 80s and 90s TV shows and movies I watched as a kid. I'm currently re-watching The X-Files.

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


We did a family tree history once, and found that our family name was once associated with the stag (hooray House Baratheon). More specifically, the reindeer. That definitely played into the pen name. As far as my personality goes, I think its a wise animal. You have to have the strength to fight if the need arises (with 8-point antlers in this case), but you can be smart enough to run when it isn't necessary.

It's like the Sun Tzu quote: "He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."

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


Haunted mansion. The ghosts would be much less annoying.

What is something about the genre that annoys you?


I think the issue with any genre that an author focuses on is genre norms and expectations. Often you can have a lot of fun with those, by subverting tropes or exploring them in unique ways, but they can be limiting if you color too far outside of the lines. With my stories, I mostly write them as they come to me and then apply the genre labels at the end. Settling on a BISAC code took me a while.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


I don't really have an ideal "writing hour." Just like my sleep schedule and many other things in my life, I'll write pretty much whenever the inspiration (and energy) come to me. That can be in the evenings, midnight, the witching hours of 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., early mornings, or afternoons. It really all depends, and I've never noticed any difference in my writing quality or variety regardless of when it was penned.

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


My main hub is going to always be my website: www.frankwinterfiction.com. I have a blog there that I'll update every few weeks. It's worth subscribing to, but I won't spam you.

Then I have a Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FrankWinterFiction

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrankWinterFict

And YouTube channel with the fantastic "Homecoming" promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E56VcaH42Y8

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?


I think my favorite lines from stories are the very quotable ones that you would expect to hear in a trailer or read on a promotional poster. While I didn't use this line for either of those kinds of advertising, one of my favorite ones from "Homecoming" is: "Life will usually give you a second chance ... but never a third."

How that figures into the story is where the real depth and meaning come into play though.

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


Don't second guess yourself too much. Just write something down, even if you think it's bad. By just "fighting through the pain", not only will you keep making progress, but the inspiration to improve that bad section will come to you eventually and you can go back to fix or reinforce things.

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


Yes. My plan since college was to eventually reach the point of releasing an annual novel. 2022's novel is already well underway with 50K words and 150 pages. I really love the character ensemble so far. I think fans of "Homecoming" will really enjoy it once it's finished.



Frank Winter is a native of Northern California who was born into a wonderful family that supported his passions and aspirations. He grew up loving the performing arts, inspired by the animated musicals of the 1990s. During his university days, he dabbled in local theatre as well as productions put on by his church. At the same time, he expanded his interests to include creative writing. This quickly evolved from lyrics to short stories to long-form fiction.

After graduation he pushed forward in his career as a mechanical engineer while continuing to moonlight in writing and music. Following years of honing his craft, he finally decided to pursue an old story idea to be released as his debut novel.

"Homecoming" is now available on paperback, and releases for Kindle on September 18th.




Publication date: April 7th, 2018 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Grolar: half grizzly bear, half polar bear Jon lost his job in Vancouver and ...


Publication date: April 7th, 2018

Grolar:
half grizzly bear, half polar bear

Jon lost his job in Vancouver and finds work at a small gold mining camp. His wife and his young son join him. When the toddler shows them what he had found near the tree line, they know, there is something dark waiting for them.

The author Thorsten Nesch lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He is an award-winning and traditionally published author. His novels are read in schools in Europe.





Environment is the new horror

By Thorston Nesch


Going back and drawing from the past when writing genre fiction comes with a secure background on the topic—if it is a vampire, a zombie or anything in between. If I ever wanted to play it safe, I'd have stayed in my comfy office job for the public health insurance.


The uncharted challenges of the future interest me, mostly surrounded by more or less vague theories and wild speculations. This is the place for the jester.


The modern artist has to assume the role of the jester in front of the king: holding up a distorted mirror to the society of today in order to provoke a reaction, ideally with the result people questioning themselves and their doings.


Recently the environment assumed a center role in contemporary horror scenarios (versus the threat of the nuclear apocalypse of the the cold war). So far it is the weather: storms, rain, droughts and rising sea levels.


But what if the weather brings together what should never have met in the first place? Bacteria, viruses, insects or … bears?


Because of the rising temperatures, grizzly bears migrate further north, into old polar bear territory, and they mate … oh, you think, that is just the fantasy of a jester?


Think again.


When I heard about that problem I remembered an article about Ligers—half lions, half tigers, man made, out of a sick egocentric notion, but nevertheless two species foreign to each other. And they grow way bigger than a tiger or a lion alone. Fact.


What if that could be true for Grolars?


The amount of food the animal would need … and imagine a gold digger camp would be in its hunting grounds … 




Since 2014 I live in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

My stories received literary grants and awards nationally and internationally. In the last years I did more than 1500 readings in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and on two cruises.

My first novel was nominated Best German YA Debut and I won the Hans-im-Gluck-Award 2012

Jury: „His style is a stroke of luck for literature“

Today's Author Spotlight is author Lisa Hofman! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: April 5th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodreads A...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Lisa Hofman!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: April 5th, 2021

An Island in the lake. A curse. A stargazer's daughter whose time is running out.

The girl in the tower watches the stars from her window – and the black waters of the lake below.

Monsters thrive between the rocks and the fouling weeds, guarding the cursed shore. Her people seem to have forgotten her. It’s easier to forget than to fight.

Only Elnathan still knows she’s there on that island. He would fly on broken wings to the ends of the earth just to be near her, but the dark spell Abaddon cast could cost him everything, and time is against them both.

Enjoy this new magical, thrilling shapeshifter love story by Lisa Hofmann!



What's your latest release? 

Artemis' Wings - a raven shifter love story. It's one of the series of shapeshifter stories I published over the past year, and it probably has the most fairytale-y feel about it.

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

It's a collection of short shapeshifter stories with unusual shifters. I loved writing it because they have a sprinkling of fairytale about them all, and they're set in the deep, dark forests of medieval Europe.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I have always loved fairytales, and that's where a lot of the ideas for the shapeshifters we have today originated, so I decided to write a few of my own. I've published four over the past year, and I'm going to publish a collection of five in a single volume in September.

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

I'm a planner through and through, so I knew my characters well. They'd been churning inside my mind for some time.

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

I loved writing Willa from the dragon shifter story Amberflame, because she is so gutsy!

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

Both, really. They had to fit together to make the pacing work. In a novella or anything shorter than a novel, both have to be well-managed.

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

Over the past years, I learned that I can actually be patient! With myself and with the process. And I also learned to love editing, which is kinda weird, but here we are.


In your opinion what makes a good story?

Good character development, a steady pace that doesn't kill me, and a few good twists along the way.


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

It changed everything about my writing process up until that point because I began working with a very cool and competent non-eye-rolling editor, who taught me a lot about finding out what's important and what isn't, and how to further develop my voice and style of writing.


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

I do - I don't think any of us can afford not to. I don't think in terms of good or bad reviews - I'm always hoping for the helpful ones. 

I want to know what my readers think and how to improve what I'm doing if something was genuinely off. 

I recall one reviewer telling me they didn't like the book cover, so 2 stars for that, despite the fact that they weren't into fantasy and hadn't read the free book they'd gotten from me... That's what I mean by not very helpful. 

But I also generally get a few that I can really work with, and the ones that are posted to Amazon definitely help me promote my work. 

What led you to start writing?

My love for reading and history, I think. Plus, I've been accused of having an overactive imagination.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

I have to have my cat nearby. She's probably the one who's really working all the magic.


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

Everything. In Fantasy, you can be anyone or anything and go anywhere in a thousand worlds. So much to explore there! 


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

Shenanigans. I don't think I've ever actively used it, but I just love it. It's cheeky.


What are you currently reading?

Spinning Silver by Noami Novik


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

Not really - I need quiet to really get into the deep of things while I write. Sometimes I have music with no lyrics on while I'm still drafting, though. First drafts are always quick and non-wordy.


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

Be a bit more brave and start publishing earlier.


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

I like shark movies, which - again - is weird and so not what I write. Whenever I'm ever really stressed out, though, I don't watch a lot of TV. I try to get out and about and into the woods.


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

The blue-and-gold-glittered Middle-European Coffee Sloth


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

I'll take a haunted mansion surrounded by fairytale creatures.


What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I love that women play a bigger role in Fantasy now than ever before, but think there are a lot of very similar  characters and story arcs being written, which makes some of the series that started out great quickly become a bit dull. 

I don't like formula-writing because I like the unusual twists and turns that a story can take. I wish there was more of that out there.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

In terms of my writing process: I tend to slash and burn my way through my finished manuscripts while revising to the point where my editor shouts stop. In terms of my style: what I hear a lot from others is that I do well with my prose. I like atmosphere, so I try to create one for the reader that's relatable - if you like my type of stories.


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

I'm mostly only on Facebook because I can't really deal with more than that between the busy day job and the writing and my family. 
I also have a website, on which you can find a newsletter sign-up. My newsletters are practically non-existent, though, because I have to admit I'm really sloppy about sending them out to people. I never remember... 

But here are the links:
https://www.facebook.com/authorlisahofmann 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/LisasBookdragons (the group is worth joining because here's where you get ARCs and other freebies, as well as some good bookish discussions)
https://www.lisahofmann.net


Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

I couldn't really pick one because my favorites are always the ones I'm currently working on.


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

Do your thing and write that book you've always wanted to write - but remember that you're not writing to entertain only yourself. When you finish it, others are going to want to read it, so know who your readers are going to be, and what they would like you to present them with, or you're going to set yourself up for a heartache.


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

I'm currently working on two novels. One is a fourth in a series, and the other is a standalone fantasy novel that is set in the 1920s.

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

Thanks for having me on your blog! 



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, 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.


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: 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!