Suds & Monsters is one of those stories that refuses to go quietly into the night. It first surfaced as ‘Lord of the Suds’ in Weird Mask (May 2019), and then was selected to open The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories as ‘Suds & Monsters’ in October 2019. And now it’s back for more.

I’ve been a big fan of The NoSleep Podcast for a long time and I was lucky to catch them on their brilliant pre-pandemic European tour. A year ago I decided to brave submitting one of my stories, and in April I learned that Suds & Monsters had cleared the first hurdle. This was encouraging, but it wasn’t quite an acceptance as occasionally there are scheduling issues which mean stories are cut at the production stage. After that, I didn’t hear anything for months, and I began to fear the worst.

On Sunday 12 September, out of the blue, I received an email from David Cummings to say the story had been recorded and to share a link to the show. I’m thrilled to say that the NoSleep team have done a fantastic job! I was blown away when I heard it, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed ‘experiencing’ one of my own stories so much.

The NoSleep Podcast is a multi-award winning anthology series of original horror stories, featuring a cast of talented voice actors, rich atmospheric music and sound effects to enhance the frightening tales. David Cummings is the host and producer of the podcast.

Suds & Monsters is one of many great stories included in episode 23 of season 16 of The NoSleep Podcast. It’s available to season pass holders, or to purchase as an individual episode.

The fantastic artwork for S16E23 was specifically created for ‘Suds & Monsters’ by Thea Arnmann – check out Thea’s Instagram for more.

Ezekiel Hill (The Arcanist)

Posted: September 13, 2021 in Uncategorized

What’s the old saying? You wait all year for a flash fiction to come along and then two come along at the same time? Or something like that. Yes, I’m pleased to announce that I have another dark flash to unleash on the world in the run up to Halloween.

On Friday 17 September, the good people at The Arcanist will publish Ezekiel Hill, a tale of quiet cults, strange visions, behaviour modification and lemurs (obviously).

Ezekiel Hill is one of a pair of flashes I wrote in early summer, after I sold The Pumpkin Agent. I still need to find a home for a home for the other story, although firstly I need to submit it somewhere. There’s not much chance of winning the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket…right?

The Arcanist is an online literary magazine, focusing on “genre-based flash fiction.” It’s always a thrill to have a story accepted by The Arcanist, and Ezekiel Hill is the first since they published my flash horror collection, The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales. Somehow they’ve managed to keep publishing excellent work, as well as coming up with some fantastic competition themes, throughout the lockdown.

And their timing couldn’t have been better. They accepted Ezekiel Hill just days before my second holiday of the year, inspiring me to write three more horror flashes. There may be life in this old horror writer, yet…

Ezekiel Hill will be published on 17 September 2021 – I’ll post a link here when it’s available.

It’s been a long and relatively uneventful year on the writing front. I’ve been made redundant twice, and I’ve home-schooled my three kids, Not that these are excuses, but my writing time was already limited, and it doesn’t take much to obliterate it altogether. Or maybe it does…

On Friday 3 September, Dread Stone Press will publish The Pumpkin Agent, an urban legend story where the antagonist doesn’t take kindly to families who fail to decorate their homes for Halloween.

I originally wrote The Pumpkin Agent for The Arcanist’s 2020 Halloween contest, but I couldn’t enter it because I was invited to be the guest judge! So I banished it to my hard drive, and life went on.

In 2021, with summer on the horizon, I started to look around for submission opportunities, and came across a new flash horror publisher. I wanted to send something in, so I dug out The Pumpkin Agent. The story was accepted pretty quickly, and Alex asked if he could save it for the Halloween season.

Dread Stone Press (Michigan) is a relatively new independent publisher, publishing twice-monthly tales of dread on the website. Definitely one to check out.

The Pumpkin Agent was published on 3 September 2021 and is available to read now.

I’m thrilled to announce that, for the third year running, I have a story in the annual charity Christmas anthology from Grinning Skull Press.

Following the publication of The Lamppost Huggers and Unbecoming Me, I’ve been taking a break from writing short fiction to focus on other projects, including my third album with the Prison Club Band, which is due in 2021

I’m such a fan of Christmas horror, I couldn’t resist writing something for Grinning Skull Press, and the end result is a new novelette called ‘Dead Man’s Tree’, which is set on the same stretch of the North Norfolk coast as the opening tale in The Lamppost Huggers collection.

Grinning Skull Press is ‘a new voice in the world of Horror Fiction.’ Their mission is to ‘bring you the very best the genre has to offer.’ I’ve read the last two Deathlehem anthologies and they were both fantastic. Very entertaining and just right for those long, cold nights on the run up to Christmas.

Dead Man’s Tree was published on 29 December 2020 in Santa Claws is coming to Deathlehem.

Back in January, I was lucky enough to attend the No Sleep Podcast’s Bristol date on their European tour – a fantastic evening of entertainment. While there, I met Owen Morgan, one of the owners of the Abominable Book Club, who was interested in publishing novels and full-length short story collections for inclusion in their boxes.

I was deep into the production work for The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales, and I didn’t think I had the time or the stories to make up a second collection, even though the opportunity was attractive.

I didn’t send anything to Owen, although I realised that three of the stories I’d been working on would sit well together in a collection – Devil’s Reach, Hell’s Teeth and Unbecoming Me. More than this, I saw a way to link the stories through a recurring character, which adds an unexpected dimension to the collection.

Soon after, Dean from Demain Publishing mentioned he was preparing to open up for submissions for the second round of Short Sharp Shocks. I sent the three-story collection over to him and I’m thrilled to say he was happy to publish it as the first volume in the second series.

Demain Publishing, based in Cannes, France, is a relatively new initiative, set up by author, editor and award-winning script-writer, Dean M. Drinkel. Dean’s intention is to select and publish 6 novelettes a month as standalone e-books, with hard copies following at some point in the future.

Unbecoming Me & Other Interruptions was published on 18 September 2020 by Demain Publishing.

flashpocalypsecover2-2I’ve been so busy writing short stories, novelettes and novellas – as well as working on my debut flash fiction collection The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales that I haven’t had much chance to write new flash fiction recently.

In March, The Molotov Cocktail announced the theme of their latest competition, Flashpocalypse. They were after stories with an apocalyptic or dystopian element of some kind, but no viruses or pandemics, because “that’s a little too nonfiction for our tastes right now.” This is exactly the kind of story I enjoy writing the most, so I knew I’d have to come out of flash retirement and write something new. So I did.

The Molotov Cocktail publishes ‘volatile flash fiction, the kind of prose you cook up in a bathtub and handle with rubber gloves.’ They publish two issues a month and five bumper issues a year, featuring the winners of the quarterly contests. And I’m a huge fan.

After the Ghosts was published online in the Flashpocalypse issue of the Molotov Lit Zine on 20 May 2020. It will be included in The Molotov Cocktail Prize Winners anthology volume 6 in 2021. Sadly, it won’t appear with my previous Molotov successes in my collection, The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales – but hopefully I’ll get the chance to include it in another collection at some point in the apocalyptic future.

Lamppost Huggers Cover - High

On 1 June 2020, I shall be publishing my first single author collection of flash horror. The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales features 26 flash fiction stories, including six competition-winners and three brand new stories. It also features cover art by Bram Stoker-award winner, Kealan Patrick Burke; and an introduction from Sunday Times bestselling author and fellow member of #TeamDarkness, Christina Dalcher. For more information and regular updates, check out my new website.

Not Alone 2The 500-word version of Canyonlands was originally accepted for the 2016 ‘A Furious Hope’ anthology, which sadly never materialised. I’d forgotten all about the story until Storgy magazine invited submissions for a charity anthology to help the homeless and vulnerable in our communities. In keeping with my recent approach of expanding my stories, I submitted a 1,000-word version of Canyonlands for consideration and I’m thrilled it was accepted because the line-up of authors for this anthology is incredible (see below)!

From the STORGY website: “Working in close partnership with UK charities The Big Issue Foundation (registered charity number 1049077), Centrepoint (292411), Shelter (263710), and The Bristol Methodist Centre (1150295), STORGY Books is publishing an exclusive anthology to help raise funds and provide support for people affected by homelessness following the devastating outbreak of Coronavirus. All proceeds from purchases of You Are Not Alone will be equally distributed between our partner charities to  provide ongoing support for people experiencing homelessness during – and after – the Covid-19 crisis.”

STORGY is an online literary short story magazine consisting of a core group of dedicated writers, who aim to inspire artistic collaboration and provide opportunities for creative minds to meet.

Canyonlands will be published in the You Are Not Alone anthology from STORGY on 1 June 2020.

Not Alone 3

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I wrote three stories for The Arcanist Ghost Story contest. Boîte Fantôme (which one the contest) was the first, and Delicate Equilibrium was the second. Like my previous acceptance (The Other Side of Giving), Delicate Equilibrium was simply too much story for the 1,000-word limit. I’m glad I had the opportunity to extend it to a more-comfortable 2,000 words, and even happier that this coincided with a submission call from Transmundane Press for stories about time travel.

Yes, Delicate Equilibrium is both a ghost story and a story about time travel, and you’ll have to read it to find out exactly what that entails!

Transmundane Press is a genre-based, independent press that aims to produce quality fiction through mentoring and a rigorous editing process that promises clean language, developed plots and characters, and thought-provoking themes.

Delicate Equilibrium will be published in the On Time anthology from Transmundane Press in 2020. I’ll post a link where as soon as it becomes available.

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The Other Side of Giving is a story about the darker side of Santa’s Christmas operations during a period of prolonged austerity. A haggard stranger appears in the woods next to a remote village, with a sinister message for anyone wishing to celebrate the season.

“The world is growing. Costs are rising. Sacrifices must be made.”

I wrote the original 250-word version of The Other Side of Giving for a Christmas competition in 2018. It always felt like too much story for such a small word count, so I’m glad it didn’t win. A year later, my 2,000-word version of the same story was quickly snapped up for the latest Deathlehem anthology from Grinning Skull Press – and what an anthology it is.

Grinning Skull Press is ‘a new voice in the world of Horror Fiction.’ Their mission is to ‘bring you the very best the genre has to offer.’ They’ve already shared the title and cover art for the 2020 Christmas anthology, and submissions are open now. It looks amazing.

The Other Side of Giving was published in A Tree Lighting in Deathlehem on 24 December 2019.