Friday, 30 September 2011

Guest blogger - Colin Barnes

Colin F. Barnes is a writer from the UK who writes Science Fiction, Horror and Thriller fiction. He likes to take the gritty edginess from his surroundings and personal experiences and translate them into his stories. He is currently working on an anthology of horror stories in his 'City of Hell Chronicles' setting after recently debuting with a crime anthology titled 'Killing my Boss'.

Essence of Extremity

Dark fiction is a wide umbrella covering a gamut of flavours of sub genres. I tend to write and read what I call Horror. It's at the extreme end of Horror. Somehow, over the course of the last decade, 'Horror' has been devalued to cover paranormal romance and angsty YA urban fantasy. One only needs to look at the Amazon charts under Horror to see this diabolical hijacking of the label. What his means is that readers are slowly but surely loosing the true essence of extremity within the horror bounds.

I'm talking about Ketchum, Barker, early King, Laymon et al. I'm talking about I Spit On Your Grave, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original), Hellraiser etc.. You know, when Horror meant horrific experiences. When horror had scares that actually scared you.

I remember watching the original Friday the 13th as a kid and having nightmares for weeks after; that was pure horror (of its time). Not this weak romantic rubbish. I mean, come on, what the hell is 'horror' about a woman having a romantic triangle with an effeminate vampire and a pruning wolf? It makes me sick to see Horror be reduced to this.

One of the first dark fiction books I read as a youngster was King’s IT – so yeah, I now fucking hate clowns too. King has single handedly ruined children’s parties (for the adults). Excellent work Steve!

We need more of this subversive fiction. We need to twist common tropes into things that scare the living crap out of people. Without fear, humanity gets lazy. Life becomes predictable, stale, and safe. Who wants that? Not me. I want excitement. I want to double check that thing I thought I saw in the shadows, I want to feel the frisson of energy as I hear footsteps late at night in the attic. What I don’t want is this bland formula of ‘horror.’ And neither should you.

So, what can we, as creatives, do about it? Promote, write, share, push, and abuse networks. Get our work out there; force people to dwell in the shadows again, scare the crap out of them. It means we as authors and creators need to dig that little bit deeper; find what scares the jaded/cynical people of today and hold a mirror up to their fears and go beyond what it is considered acceptable. It's only when doing that can we actually reclaim the title of Horror.

This is where the essence of extremity comes in. I’m not advocating stories to be extreme for extreme’s sake. That’s too lazy, and it’ll show. Hell, it already shows in things such as SAW. Torture porn with no real intent behind it. We need to take the extreme areas of life and our imagination and tie them into everyday reason. That is how we can reconnect ‘Horror’ with the masses.

Most people are disgusted or even bored at extreme gore, so we need to be cleverer about it. We need to be more subtle, and insidious with out extreme stories.

Once you’ve roped in a reader and given them a false sense of security with a solid grounding of reality and rationale, then you bring your out the big guns. You give them terrifying situations with things that can barely be described with regular words. You show them something so horrendous that it’s impossible to fit it wholesale into your stories. You want to leave some of ‘it’ hanging outside of the story so that it sits inside your readers mind, clawing its way out for weeks on end.

If you’re going to have gore or extreme sex (which are both good things in proper Horror) you have to do it so it counts. Everyday people can see the most horrendous things as easily as searching on Google. They are desensitized to the images and videos and concepts. We need to make it personal. And there is only one way to do that -- no, not abduct them and taken them into your basement dungeon – but good, deep characterization.

Weak protagonists are just that. No one cares about some insipid teenager, or some moaning kid. You want fully realized three-dimensional characters that are made up of shades of grey. No one likes wholly good or wholly bad characters; they have to be a mix. They have to be like you and I (perhaps not like me, readers really wouldn’t be able to relate to me). They have to be the everyman/everywoman.

Take that character, get inside their head, and then bring on the horror. That is the essence of extremity – personal experiences shared by the author with the reader. Connect! When you think you’ve gone as far as you can, slug a shot of whiskey, pull your pants up and go beyond. You know you can do it. We have to do it for Horror’s sake.


A brilliantly argued guest post, I'm sure you'll agree!
You can find Colin online at Twitter, his personal website and Amazon.


Many thanks to Colin for agreeing to write such a great guest post about a topic that I myself feel very strongly about. Honestly, I could rant for hours about the Twamps and suchlike that are pervading the genre I so love, to its great detriment. We all owe it to ourselves and each other to reclaim the horror genre.

Kate x

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Who is Kate?

So, today I'm going to bare my soul a little for you all, share a little insight into what makes me tick. It may even surprise you, for I'm not all about red hair, red wine and sex...

My Literary Inspiration - Louisa May Alcott

Little Women was the book that first inspired me, as a child, to pick up a pen and write down some of my ideas. Jo March, amongst all four of the sisters, was the one that I truly identified with. I was a tomboy as a child, forever climbing trees and skinning knees, and I wouldn't have been caught dead in a dress. Above all else, though, I shared Jo's - and Louisa May's - very deep passion for everything literary.

Louisa May never walked the ordinary path, and though much of herself was reflected in Jo March, she was a spectacular woman in her own right; one of the early feminists, she worked as a nurse in the civil war, took opium and wrote lurid pulp fiction in order to pay her family's bills - something that was severely frowned upon in those days, in much the same way that writing erotica can be sniffed at now.

Whenever one of those inevitable rejection slips arrives, I simply think of Louisa May and Jo, smile, and pick up my pen once more. In fact, my beautiful daughter has even been given the middle name Louisa in honour of her.

My Musical Inspiration - Ginger of the Wildhearts

No word of a lie - this man kept me going through the darkest times of my life, both with his inspirational lyrics and with the very kind words that he spared for a tearful and lost girl. Despite a very hectic and well-chronicled private life, he always makes time for his fans, and that in itself deserves praise regardless of the brilliance of the songs that he writes.

The quote that he shared with me is one from Winston Churchill, one that he told me he often turns to himself when things seem to be at their worst. "When you're going through hell, just keep going." And really, that's all you can do, isn't it?

And finally, the lyrics of Ginger's that I love the most. "Only those who know how to rock know when to roll."

My Muse

I confess - I'm a Potterhead. I held out until Goblet of Fire came out, staunchly protesting that I didn't want to read something simply because it was popular, but then I picked up my best friend's copy at a sleepover in the middle of the night. I didn't sleep a wink, for I couldn't put it down, and from then on I was hooked.

I've always loved a bad boy, and Lucius Malfoy is nothing if not that. Jason Isaacs's portrayal of him in the films is chilling and superb, and since first seeing him on screen, my - ahem - muse has taken his form in my dreams. In fact, my first serious forays into writing were in the fan fiction genre at the age of seventeen. The files are still on my hard drive, and although my writing has matured and improved greatly since then, I still love to look back through the tales that I created and draw inspiration from them.

On A Lighter Note

My weakness for red wine and Jack Daniels is known by most of you now, I guess! However, my other favourite drink is nowhere near as rock 'n' roll. Cream sherry.

I know.

It's the favourite tipple of old women up and down the country.

I love it, and I enjoy many a guilty glass or two. Red wine will always be my first love, but cream sherry is the secret lover that I turn to in the middle of the night.

I have an embarrassingly large stash of Yankee Candle tarts. No joke, I have a scent for every occasion.

And finally, this is the castle and estate that I have the very great fortune to live less than a mile away from. There are few sights as inspirational in my local area, and I love nothing more when I have a few hours to myself than to sneak off there with my notebook and pen, curl up under the trees and scribble away.

So, there we are. You know a lot more about me than you did ten minutes ago. I wonder how much of it surprised you?

Kate x

Sunday, 18 September 2011

'Playing With Fire' on sale now!

To celebrate the launch of the fantastic new cover for Playing With Fire, created by the fabulous Steena Holmes,  I've reduced the price down to just $0.99 at Smashwords!

Kate x

Friday, 16 September 2011

The red wine, the cocaine and the muse walked into a bar...

The red wine, the cocaine and the muse walked into a bar, and they ordered a shot of inspiration to be washed down by a long, slow dose of brilliance.

No, it isn't a joke.

It's the tale of how many of the greatest pieces of art - paintings, songs, literature - have, in fact, been the product of a mind that was flying high on drugs.

     Kubla Khan - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
     By woman wailing for her demon-lover! (lines 12-16)

Utterly beautiful, and the product of an opium-inspired dream.

Jim Morrison - his struggle with drugs is well-known, and of course led to his premature death. Yet his lyrics and poetry are haunting and incredible, and I cannot help but wonder if he would have been able to craft such words if it weren't for the drugs and alcohol that eventually consumed him.

On a more personal note, my two great musical heroes, Ginger of the Wildhearts and Tyla of the Dogs D'Amour have both had well-publicised and tormented struggles with drugs and alcohol. Tyla in particular I've had the pleasure of speaking to on many occasions and doing photography for, and he has been very open about the demons that he battles, both in his lyrics and in person.

Both musicians have never hidden the depression that they struggled with, and of course, the chemical imbalances that such intense depression creates can be just as powerful for feeding the muse as anything synthetic.

What better examples can there possibly be of that than the cases of another inspiration of mine, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or of the notoriously tormented Vincent van Gogh? The Starry Night adorns the wall of my little writing corner, and whenever I am struggling for inspiration, the briefest of glances towards it is often enough to spark something off.

Vincent, of course, committed suicide at the age of 37.

Now, though I would never dream of including myself in such lofty and brilliant company as those mentioned above, my muse and I have a very uneasy relationship. Sometimes, for many months on end, we are the very best of companions, and I can write 5000 words a day without no care or concern for anything else, riding on the greatest of highs as the words pour forth.

Other times, though, the muse won't come out to play.

I doubt very much that there's a writer around who hasn't experienced The Curse at some point. It arrives without warning, sneaking up on you whilst you're merrily involved in your story. It brutally cuts short the flow of words and creativity, leaving you instead with a gaping chasm of self-doubt and fear.

The problem is, though, that I know a sure-fire way of bringing my muse back to me. All I have to do is drink myself into oblivion. More often than not, a bottle or two of red wine is all it needs to spark off the ideas once more, and I can categorically state that the majority of my favourite phrases I've written have been whilst I've been under the influence. And if it doesn't come back instantly, I can guarantee than the night's sleep will bring with it a vivid and wild dream that will inspire a new tale even if it's doesn't help with the current one.

It's a dangerous and slippery slope, and I know that. It's a constant battle and balancing act between behaving responsibly and giving myself over to the urge to let my craft and muse consume me; and sometimes,  I can't do that alone. If my writing can only be at its best with the aid of a glass or two of red wine before I start, is that so much to pay? 

I haven't yet found the answer. What I do know, though, is that I can understand all too well why it is that so many of the artists that I admire succumbed to their demons.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Leopard Print

A little story for you all to enjoy - originally posted in the Just Pleasure Me competition last month. Highly recommended for all you UK lovelies!

Leopard Print

She wore leopard print. He had always loved the sight of leopard print on a woman, and when she had deliberately leaned forwards, pulling her shirt back to reveal the leopard print bra stretched tightly across her full, glorious tits, he knew then that he was lost to her. Anything she asked of him he would have gladly done.

Relaxing back into her leather chair with a self-satisfied smile curving back her full lips, she had reached down for her handbag, opening it just enough to reveal a tantalising glimpse of a pair of handcuffs.

The sight had been more than he could bear. Leaping to his feet, his cock already swollen and straining uncomfortably against his tight jeans, he seized hold of the woman’s wrist and yanked her roughly to her feet. 

Laughing delightedly, she had stretched up onto the points of her wickedly high heels to whisper into his ear. “Your place or mine?” she had asked breathily.

With a heavy groan, he had thrust his hand into his pockets for the keys to his motorbike. “Mine,” he hissed, pulling her out of the bustling coffee shop and back to the bike that he had parked up earlier. Tossing the spare helmet to the brunette as she tapped her heels impatiently against the concrete, he jumped up onto the bike and waited for her to mount it behind him, her slender thighs gripping him tightly and her arms wrapped possessively around his stomach, before he kicked down the clutch and the engine roared into life, speeding away from the shop and through the congested roads that led to his sleek and modern flat.

She had begun to unbutton her shirt before he had even parked the damned motorbike. By the time he leapt down and turned around to face her again, her tits were threatening to spill forth from the material that was barely containing them, three buttons of the shirt already open and the darkened edge of her nipples peeping tantalisingly over the edge of that leopard print bra.

His hands shaking, he had fumbled over the lock of the door, but finally they had burst into the flat, his lips working against hers with a furious passion as he spun around and kicked the door shut behind them.

She had ripped his shirt away, letting it fall forgotten into the plush cream carpets before kneeling down in front of him and tugging away both his jeans and the black boxer shorts that had been beneath them, freeing his cock to leap up as it throbbed impatiently, the sight of her tongue darting out across the red lipstick smeared across those full lips hardening it yet further.

She had paused only to shrug off her own shirt before eagerly opening her mouth and, without prompting, taking his cock into it, wrapping her tongue around the shaft and caressing it with a torturous delicacy that had made him feel as if he would explode with the effort of holding himself back from thrusting himself into her willing mouth until she gagged.

Finally, though, she had begun to expertly move her mouth back and forth over his cock, sucking greedily upon it and licking every last drop of moisture from its tip as one of her hands slipped into the cup of her bra, pinching sharply at the pert nipple that he could see hidden there and moaning loudly against his cock, increasing his pleasure yet further and driving him towards the brink of his climax before she pulled back, still smiling widely as she threw back her head, shaking out her dark, tousled curls as she undid her trousers and kicked off her heels.

Bending down to retrieve her handbag, displaying the lacy leopard print briefs that covered her ass as she did so, she had pulled out the handcuffs before straightening back up and dangling them invitingly in front of his face.

He had needed no further encouragement. Stepping out of his trousers and leaving them behind with his shoes, he had lifted her off her feet, wrapping her legs around his waist once more and trailing a line of hot and demanding kisses along the curve of her throat as he stumbled towards the bedroom, depositing her unceremoniously on top of the crisp white sheets before climbing on top of her, pinning her to his bed and reaching behind her for the clasp of her bra to free her tits.

She had shaken her head, pushing him away and rolling him onto his back before straddling his hips and holding the handcuffs up in the air with a sultry smile.

And now here he was, his hands bound behind his head, the cold metal impossible for him to free himself from. He cared nothing for that, though, not when she was now sat on top of him, one hand pulling her left tit out of her bra and teasing at the nipple, twisting and rolling it between her fingers as the other hand reached down into her briefs, her fingers visible through the lace as they sought out her clit and began working desperately against it.

Her moans of pleasure grew ever louder as she arched her back, staring intently into his eyes as the flush of her skin deepened and her breath began to come in short, panting gasps. Just as he began to think that he could stand it no longer, his hips rising off the bed to push his cock pleadingly against her thighs, she finally reached behind her and unhooked the bra, tossing it across the room as her tits bounced free.

Groaning desperately, he thrust his cock upwards again and she chuckled softly, the sound sending a thrill of pleasure shooting through his body as she gracefully slipped down from the bed to pull her briefs away. He could smell the musky scent of sex and arousal hanging in the air as she slowly climbed back up and straddled him again, but instead of finally lowering herself onto his waiting cock, she began to play with herself again, deliberately teasing him by pinching her nipples and writhing against his cock, so hard now that he was in physical pain.

“Please!” he begged hoarsely, and her dark eyes softened as her hands instantly dropped back to her side.

“You only had to ask!” she murmured, wrapping one hand around the base of his cock before swiftly driving herself down onto it, crying out in exhilaration as he thrust his hips upwards to meet her, burying his cock deeply into the tight heat of her muscles with a triumphant shout.

He had already been forced to hold himself back for far too long, and had no intention of doing so any longer. Adrenalin pounding through his veins, he thrust his hips upwards again and again in perfect time with the rhythm that she was setting as she rode his cock, writhing on top of him now with her ample tits still cupped in her hands.

Were his hands not bound behind his head, then he would have been groping hold of them and teasing the nipples as she evidently so enjoyed, but instead he could only watch as she did so and direct his frustration into slamming his cock into her body, the strength of his violent thrusts jerking her up into the air and almost unseating her. “I want to watch you come on top of me!” he demanded desperately as she shrieked and gripped his cock ever more tightly. “Touch your clit again, baby, make yourself come for me!” 

She instantly moved to obey him, still bouncing wildly on top of his cock as her fingers moved down to rub against her clit again, moaning loudly once more and rocking against him. “Come on, baby!” he urged her with a heavy groan, his body tensing up in anticipation of the orgasm that was tantalisingly near for them both. “I can’t hold it back much longer!”

Gasping loudly, she threw her head back and pushed down harder onto his cock before, with a loud cry that echoed around the bedroom, she pulled her hand away and gave herself over to her orgasm, collapsing on top of him as the climax ripped through her body, causing her to shake uncontrollably against his cock, waves of heat inflaming her that he could feel against his bare skin.

With one final thrust that was so powerful that it jerked her limp body up into the air, his own orgasm finally exploded, his tight balls releasing his cum into her as he shouted out her name, barely able to catch his breath with the force of his intense and thrilling release.

The woman was still slumped against him breathing heavily, her tits crushed against his chest as he turned his head sideways, his eyes alighting upon the photograph at the side of the bed; the photograph of him and his wife on their wedding day. The sun had been shining brightly, illuminating her waves of blonde hair, and they were both beaming into the camera.

“I really should get a new photo to put there,” he muttered, rolling onto his side as the woman wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder with a satisfied sigh. “You look even better now that you’ve dyed your hair, baby.”

His wife smiled up at him, stretching out her bare body against his. “I’m glad you like it, honey,” she murmured. “So, what did you think? Did you enjoy my little game?”

He grinned back at her. “I think that much is pretty obvious, baby. And next week, it’s my turn to surprise you.”

Kate x      

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The best things come to those who wait?

No, nothing dirty this time - although that could be an interesting discussion for another time!

I've spent today laying out the plotline for this year's NaNoWriMo story. It's been a refreshing break from everything else that I've got going on at the moment, and I threw myself into the research and story whole-heartedly; so much so, that I'm now raring to start writing it already. My head is spinning with little vignettes and images, and the thought of waiting another two months before breathing inky life into the characters that are roaming around inside my mind is almost unbearable.

However...I cannot help but think that over the space of the next two months, the characters and tale will develop to such depths that by the time that November 1st rolls around, the quality of the story that I'll weave from them will be much greater than anything I could sketch out now.

Those of you who know me will already be aware that I'm not, by nature, a patient person. I like instant gratification, and once I've got even the slightest hint of a plot bunny in my head, I like to run with it and throw myself into it until it's complete, to the extent of scribbling away furiously at 4am just to have it finished one day earlier than it would otherwise have been.

'Triumvirate', though? I'm going to hold fire and teach myself a little patience. There's always more research to be done, and I can't help but think that by waiting just this once, when I do start writing, I'll know my characters so well that translating their tale to black and white words will be like simply spilling my innermost thoughts onto the screen.

Normal service resumed next time - a free piece of erotica for your titillation on Tuesday or Wednesday. Just to tease you until then...

Kate x