It has been many years since I first read The The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, so decided to read the short story again recently.
I love the creepily Gothic atmosphere Poe builds in the book, the foreboding gloom of the old house and its surroundings.
The story unfolds with the unnamed narrator receiving an invitation from an old friend, Roderick Usher, asking him for help in coping with his unknown illness. The all pervading atmosphere of sorrow, secrets, the seemingly premature entombment of Roderick's sister, and a storm breaking over the house, all add to the decaying melancholy that grips the very fabric of the building and its inhabitants.
Gradually the tale of the doomed Usher family unfolds into an intense climax. A great short story and well worth the read.
The story has been made into a number of films over the years, and probably the most famous version starring Vincent Price. IMDB.
Poe's own life was troubled in many ways, and he died at the young age of 40 in mysterious circumstances. You can read about him, his life and work at the link Edgar Allan Poe. And more here about The Fall of the House of Usher.
EMILY'S EVIL GHOST
My book Emily's Evil Ghost is also available now on Audible.
It's about a young man, Tom Roberts, who has been aware from childhood that mysterious events once occurred at his grandfather's remote country house, but has no idea of exactly what happened there. Years later, when he spends a short break at the property, the horrifying past comes vividly to life, as ghosts rise from their graves to reveal deeply buried family secrets.
US Audible link: Viewbook
UK Audible link: Viewbook
Amazon link: Viewbook
As the New Year begins, hope it's a good one for all, and that we'll see that wretched Covid virus sent packing.
Just finished Charles Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby. A good story with characters like wicked headmaster Wackford Squeers, and thoroughly evil uncle, Ralph Nickleby, clashing with supremely good Nicholas himself and sister Kate. The opposites create the conflict that drives the story on.
Dickens conjures up such wonderful names in his stories, others in this one including Newman Noggs and the kindly Cheeryble brothers.
As in many of the author's works, he tends to lapse into page after page of moralising, which after a while leads me to mutter 'for heaven's sake man, get on with the tale'.
Also heroes and heroines in some of the novels tend to be presented on pedestals of praise so high and incapable of sin, that they begin to become unrealistic as people.
Having said that, and if you can overlook, or as I do, skip past much of these, the majority of characters are fantastic creations, and his descriptions of them, as well as dialogue, are fantastically portrayed. And bearing in mind Dickens wrote many of his works as instalments in weekly periodicals, being paid per column inch, it was more profitable to fill the page with perhaps overly necessary words!
To his great credit, his stories acted as a powerful reformer of injustices in the Victorian era, drawing to attention the deprivation and poverty that existed, in particular the cruel treatment of children, as more notably highlighted in Oliver Twist.
But since it's nearly Christmas, mention of his most famous seasonal ghost story, A Christmas Carol, can't be forgotten. Though probably that's unlikely, given the tale has been retold many times in book editions and films. A further example of Dickens' morality stories, about the perils of meanness in the form of arch miser, Ebenezer Scrooge.
Another seasonal ghost tale by the author is The Signalman, about a railway signalman who is haunted by an apparition that he fears is the portent of a calamity. He also wrote several other short stories, and much about the man and his works can be found on the website The Charles Dickens Page.
In the meantime, have a great Christmas and New Year.
Been reading Bill Bryson's book The Body: A Guide For Occupants, and learning more about the wonders of life than ever before. How we take so much for granted in the powerhouse of activity performed within by our organs, limbs, stomach and brains, without so much as a conscious thought.
Bryson has a brilliant talent at condensing into layman's terms complicated scientific and medical knowledge, that even my own lesser powerhouse of a brain can understand.
At this moment, and throughout our lives, as well as the body parts I've mentioned, we also contain trillions of micro-organisms and cells, continually beavering away to make sure we combat countless micro invaders to keep us healthy, at the same time providing us with renewal and nourishment.
Sections relating to dietary health, diseases, viruses and bacteria are all featured, along with intriguing information about how our body parts work in unison to make us the unique, functioning individuals that we are. The Body is also available as an audiobook. Well worth a read or listen.
In another reference to audiobooks, I still have UK codes available for my Audible book Deadly Island Retreat. Please leave me your email address on my website contact page if you'd like one or both. Sample links below. And take care in this awful Covid pandemic.
Deadly Island Retreat
Although my writing genre is mostly supernatural, comedy also rates among my favourite reading and listening material. It helps vary the diet.
I think I've downloaded just about every one of the Jeeves and Wooster comedy audiobooks available, and thoroughly enjoy the wonderful characters featured in them. Written by P.G Wodehouse, they usually centre on romantic entanglements which parody the British upper class gentry of the 1920s-30s era, roping hapless Bertie Wooster into sticky predicaments, as he attempts to unite young couples on the path of true love and happiness, despite countless obstacles.
His generally hopeless attempts to succeed in these missions, are continually rescued by his highly intelligent butler, Jeeves, who also guides Bertie, a confirmed bachelor, from perilously becoming married to women determined to prevent him enjoying his free-spirited lifestyle, and settling down to respectable living.
Throw in an assortment of ferocious aunts, save for his favourite aunt Dahlia, eccentric lords intent on beating him to a pulp, strong willed women, always bending him to undertake tasks that make him quake with fear, and you have the recipe for a wonderfully entertaining escape from reality. And, of course, not forgetting the inimitable Jeeves, always at hand to save the day.
Been listening to the 5th series of radio drama The Corrupted, by G.F. Newman, on BBC Sounds. Absolutely wonderful series with an explosive mix of corrupt politics, judiciary, police, and underworld villains. Also a particularly corrupt businessman, who one way and another manages to manipulate all parties so he can rise in the world, and accumulate fabulous wealth and power. No matter how honest parties in law and order try to bring them down, dark forces move to thwart them at every turn. From first series to the latest fifth, it's compulsive listening. The radio drama is based on Newman's 2009 novel Crime and Punishment. He's also a television producer, with the Judge John Deed TV series among his productions. For listeners outside the UK who want to listen to BBC Sounds programmes there's info here.
Since my December post about working on a new book, I've now nearly completed the preliminary story. Since I handwrite my narratives first, finding that helps storyline flow better, I'm now approaching the next stage of typing it up on screen, then editing before publication. Hopefully will be ready within a month or two, depending on whatever else life events that may act to delay the process.
I've just finished re-reading Bram Stoker's vampire novel, Dracula, for yet the umpteenth time. And every time it still fills me with a sense of Gothic horror.
One of the best settings in the story for me is when Jonathan Harker arrives at Count Dracula's remote, eerie castle, and during his stay becomes increasingly horrified as he realises what a blood sucking fiend is the Count, and desperately seeks a way to escape.
The original novel by Stoker is for me the best, and has, as you will obviously know, spawned so many different variations of Dracula films and stories. After finishing this re-read, I wondered just how many movies of differing standards have been made based on the original idea.
The answer I found in a Google search is at least 61. On IMDB there are 60 ranked from best to worst, and on eeriebooks.com it gives 55 Dracula Movies you should see before you die. Maybe I'll get round to seeing them all before I do.
Back in 1977, BBC 2 made a Dracula weekly episode series of Bram's work, starring Louis Jordan, Frank Finlay, Susan Penhaligon and Jack Shepherd. That was an excellent version.
Where do ideas for fiction stories come from? Every author will have a different method of plucking something out of the ether.
For me, there's no one single technique. Days can be spent tortuously trying to come up with a gripping plot and characters, to the extent my wife Jenny sometimes says to me 'you're not listening are you'? To which my mind zips back to everyday matters with the expected apology to her.
There are times when out of the blue, a place visited, or an incident sparks the imagination. You never quite know from where it will come. My latest paranormal thriller idea came from a dream that has recurred occasionally. A situation where I've been entirely lost in a place I don't recognise, and can't find a way out. It isn't one of those strange things happen, and then you wake up and find it's all a dream stories. That's a hackneyed old plot, and one to be totally avoided. It's more mysterious, and has what I think is good twist at the end.
Currently I'm around quarter way through writing it, and as yet haven't thought of a title. Sometimes that springs out at you as you write the narrative. Just slogging on with it for now.
I still have some promo codes for a free download of my first Audible book, Deadly Island Retreat. So if you would like one, please contact me by email or subscribe to my newsletter on the contact page.
Happy reading and listening.
I've now released an Audible version of my book Deadly Island Retreat. It's already available in ebook and paperback form, so I'm excited about taking this step into a new dimension of publishing. I'm planning to convert more of my digital and print books into audiobooks, and will give details in a future post. If you subscribe to my newsletter on the contact page, I'll send you a promo code for a free Audible download of Deadly Island Retreat. There are a limited number of them, so please apply soon to avoid missing out.
Hope you had a great Christmas. Now the New Year is with us, and new ideas starting to surface, I've decided to start making my titles available on Audible. Takes a bit of time getting it all arranged and set-up, but hopefully will add a new dimension to their availability.
That coupled with hoping to start my new book will ensure a busy time ahead, along with the multitude of day to day tasks that aren't as creative or enjoyable. Anyway, just a short note for now to also wish you all a prosperous and successful 2020. Can't believe we're already twenty years into the new millennium. Time certainly does fly.
In the meantime, please get in touch if you have any queries, and please subscribe to my newsletter so I can directly send you info about new publications.
With the Christmas rush almost over, soon time to 'excitedly relax' with good food, drink and presents. I'm taking a rest from writing until after the holiday, but have been toying with some ideas and plots for my next book. Details sometime in the New Year. Also plan to run some freebie books and will post notice here in the near future. So please come back and take a look from time to time. If you want direct updates on forthcoming releases, let me know on the contact page. In the meantime, have a great Christmas and New Year.
I live in Aylesbury UK with my wife, Jenny, and a tabby cat called Lightning. I've loved writing from a very early age and went on to work in journalism for 30 years. Have also produced audio dramas for hospital radio, and spent several years in theatre and independent film acting. Jenny and I have a son and daughter and two wonderful grandchildren.