“Art is Magic” – Aniko Carmean introduces her new short story, MIXED MEDIA

Aniko Carmean

Aniko Carmean

It’s guest post time, and today’s visiting blogger has a special significance for me. Aniko Carmean was one of the earliest people to befriend me when I first set out my stall in cyberspace, and she’s been a kind and encouraging friend ever since. Her blog is beautifully written and occasionally raw, touching upon all the problems and frustrations associated with putting pen to paper. Her writing hums with verve, insight, and sheer talent. Continue reading

Two Great Gothic Finds: And Soon the Song & The Frankenstein Inheritance

Sometimes, I really think I ought to read more slowly. I find myself – and not for the first time – with two books to review in quick succession. In my defence, I’ve been on something of a Gothic fiction reading spree in preparation for my contribution pieces to the Edinburgh eBook Festival 2014 (coming soon, as they say). That entailed reading a lot, and fast. Anyway, on to business . . .

91LNVA4m+NL._SL1500_My first great self-published Gothic fiction find is J.D. Hughes’ And Soon the Song. (Disclosure time: J.D. is an acquaintance, and an occasional visitor to this blog. As always, I’ve tried not to let this influence my evaluation of the book.) Continue reading

Write what you know, or what you love?

advice1There’s a lot of advice for writers out there, some of it very good. Joshua Wolf Shenk’s “Have the courage to write badly” is essential for any writer who doesn’t want to give in to utter despair whilst reading through their first drafts. Harper Lee’s advice to aspiring writers that they would be “wise to develop a thick hide” is more relevant than ever in the age of Amazon and Goodreads. Paul Theroux’s blunt suggestion that young would-be writers should “leave home” makes sense – your parents are unlikely to understand, still less support, your decision to become a writer and starve in a garret, so perhaps you’d do well to cut the apron strings. As for Dorothy Parker’s advice that the greatest favour one could do for wannabe writers was to shoot them while they were still happy – well, we’ve probably all felt like that at one time or another. Continue reading

When Cupid meets the Muse…

This cherubic little fellow has much to answer for...

This cherubic little fellow has much to answer for…

Q: I recently met a man whom I really like. It’s early days, of course, but he’s charming, intelligent, generous, and really quite romantic. Sounds ideal? There’s one teeny, tiny little problem. I think he might be a writer. He hasn’t actually admitted it as yet, but I keep finding him scribbling away in a notebook and tapping at a laptop keyboard, often at some rather inappropriate moments. Yesterday, he talked admiringly – and with a touch of envy, I suspected – about “the supreme fluidity and grace of A.M. Homes’s prose.” What should I do? Continue reading

A Gothic Highland Romance – Cauldstane by Linda Gillard

cauldstane-260This is the first novel by Linda Gillard I’ve read, despite her being, so I understand, one of the most popular author-publishers around today. I really don’t know why it took me so long, but I’m very glad I finally made a start and read Cauldstane. The writing is easy, fluid, and the story well-told and compelling; I found myself believing absolutely in Cauldstane Castle and its highly diverse group of inhabitants. Continue reading

A Rip-roaring Historical Romance: The Black Douglas by S.R. Crockett

s740130477402308962_p7_i1_w640Literature, it seems, is as subject to the quirks of fashion as just about every other area of human activity. S.R. Crockett was a tremendously popular novelist back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; now, barely a hundred years later, he’s much less widely known. However, that might perhaps be about to change, due to Authors Electric’s very own Cally Phillips, who has been working flat-out to republish Crockett’s works, and hopefully introduce them to a whole new generation. (Go to the Ayton Publishing website to see the entire collection.) Continue reading