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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Sweet Dreams Story Snippets

We're ramping up to publishing the anthology over the next couple of days. As a bit of a treat, keep reading for the first couple of snippets, and some info on the authors.

Snippet # 1 - Joseph Garraty

I stumbled over Joe Garraty's book Voice back in the very first days of my kindle ownership, and his writing simply blew me away. If you like genuine gritty, swaggering rock 'n roll horror, click that link as fast as you can. Since then I've read everything he's brought out - The Q-Bomb is a fun little sci-fi story, The Price is one of the creepiest, darkest urban fantasies I've ever read, and To Rule this Broken Earth takes that gritty, sensual feel of otherness into an epic post-apocalyptic fantasy that never takes the easy route. In that time, we've become friends via email, and Joe is probably one of the main reasons my own writing has improved. In the short tale Everyone Goes To Hell, he also shows a diabolical sense of humour.

Everyone Goes To Hell

Joseph Garraty

Everyone ends up in Hell, you know. Virtually everyone, anyway. Certainly everyone I ever met. I never heard of anyone who went the other way, but I suppose it’s possible, at least in some hypothetical sense.
I tried explaining this to Bill Sanderson right from the beginning, but it didn’t take.
I appeared in his goofy little summoning circle on a whim. Somebody had to do it. We were all getting annoyed by his constant entreaties, and I guess I didn’t have anything better to do that evening than to go try to shut him up. It was a stupid chore. Like going to the dentist, it wasn’t valuable work that needed doing, it was an irritating waste of time one had to endure in order to stave off a bigger irritation.
When I arrived, Bill was prostrate on the floor, chanting madly, nonsense syllables interspersed with phrases like “O Mighty Seraph” and “Hear your humble supplicant” and all that foolishness.
He was so absorbed in it that he didn’t even see me appear. I watched him for a few moments, but he still didn’t so much as glance up. Maybe he was expecting a bang and a flash, a puff of violet smoke, a thundering voice?
I stepped down off the dais, casually stepping over the circle and the inscriptions, and sat on the floor next to him.
“Bill,” I said, patting him affectionately on the back, “you can knock it off. I’m here.”
He scrambled to his feet, tottering as his creaky old knees tried to give out. I reached up a hand to steady him. He stared at me, eyes so wide that the irises seemed lost in rheumy yellow whites. 
Then he threw himself back to the floor.
“Holy One!” he shouted. “I beg thee, O Mighty Seraph—”
I cut him off. “Enough already! I heard you the first time.”
He sat up, blinking in the smoke from the candles. “You…you did?”
“Yeah, sure.” I could see the naked hope in his eyes.
No fool like an old fool, I guess.
“Come on, Bill, get up. Let’s go sit somewhere comfortable, and I’ll explain a few things.”
He nodded, and I helped him to his feet, more slowly this time. He shuffled to the door, casting nervous glances back at me every few feet. I followed him upstairs to the study without a word.
“Nice place,” I remarked as he showed me a chair. It was, too. Deep carpets, high ceilings, teak and mahogany and weirder, more expensive woods all over the place. Ugly light fixtures that cost a fortune. The proles would probably have called this a library, but to Bill it was just the study.
Bill sat in the chair opposite me, wincing as he lowered himself.
“You were supposed to stay in the circle,” he began, his chin thrust out defiantly.
“Oh, good. You got your composure back.”

Snippet # 2 - Naomi Clark

Naomi Clark is one of the writers I'd like to be when I grow up. Now a twitter buddy, I stumbled over her on Amazon, got hooked, then starting reading everything of hers I could get my grubby little paws onto. From the dark humour of the Ethan Banning series, to her dark urban werewolf tales like the Vargulf Trilogy and Silver Kiss, she proves from the first page that female writers can kick ass and take names with the best of them. Her latest release, Night and Chaos went live this week on Amazon, and it's one of the best urban fantasy books I've read, with an interesting take on the Deva mythology, and one of the strongest opening scenes ever. Just to prove she can pull off a slice of dark Gothic elegance as well, her contribution to Sweet Dreams is Here Be Monsters.

Here Be Monsters
Naomi Clark
I hate the sea. I hate the pound and rush of waves on sand, the stench of rotting seaweed and eye-watering brine. I hate the endless shrieks of the gulls. The dark waters chill me, fill my head with nebulous images of great serpents and twisted, alien life forms untouched by sunlight and air. I hate people who romanticise it, talk about pirates and mermaids, adventure and mystery. No. The ocean is not for men. I’ve always believed that. Maybe we came from the sea once, but we left for a reason. And if I had my way, I’d never go back.
            But I rarely get my way. Science and nature reporters for small-time cable TV channels tend not to, so when I was woken up at three am by my producer and told to get my arse down to the Northumberland coast for the ‘story of a life time,’ I didn’t argue. I swallowed my exhaustion and my dread and hatred of the ocean, and did as I was told.
Caraway Beach was cold, wet, and grim. I stood at the water’s edge in green wellies and a battered blue raincoat, watching the camera crew scuttle around trying to set up their cameras and avoid the drizzle and the wind whipping in off the grey-blue ocean. The sky overhead was black with storm clouds. Every now and then, thunder rumbled in the distance, making me shiver and jump. I stared up at those clouds, waiting for lightning. It was much better than staring down at the stone-strewn sand and the thing we were here to film.
“It has to be a whale,” Andrew remarked, joining me. He was the boom operator, new to the team, nice enough guy, but always just...loitering around me. It made me slightly uncomfortable for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on. “Every time someone gets excited about krakens, Loch Ness Monsters, or dinosaurs, it turns out to be a mangled whale carcass.”

There you have it folks - the first two snippets from two of the most talented authors I know. Pop back tomorrow for some more from Sweet Dreams, and thanks for reading.

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