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FESTIVAL OF THE FLESH

Plebs was bloody. Riders was bloodier. The Sleep was monstrous and Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger was an undead splatterfest.

And Carnival of Chaos was just the beginning of a new venture into bloodshed and brutality.

However, the culmination of that new venture, Festival of the Flesh, makes all of those look somewhat tame in comparison.

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I meant to post about this a little earlier, but inexplicable internet issues resulted in me being offline for a couple of days while my internet provider hustled to find out why their so-called fabulous service was suddenly absolute shit, but in any case, that’s neither here nor there.

If you’ve been playing along at home you’ll know that JEA’s Project 26 has been steadily rolling along, unleashing a series of books every few weeks. Project 26 of course is twenty six books in total, one for each letter of the alphabet, all dropping in completely random order. Among these was Carnival of Chaos (which I’ve rambled on about a little in previous blog posts) emerging on the 6th of October, and introducing folks to an octet of disgruntled ex-carnival workers seeking revenge on the man responsible for their jobless predicament.

On October 21, the second part of the ongoing story revolving around these eight would-be vengeance-seekers, along with a host of others sucked into the maelstrom of escalating violence and peril, surfaced in the form of Festival of the Flesh. This cheerful little excursion into depths of depravity is, as mentioned earlier, perhaps a book that will make Plebs and it’s sequel books seem like a pleasant walk in the park.

Carnival of Chaos definitely has its moments, but it is the foundation of the story, the build-up and setting of various scenes, the introduction of the assortment of miscreant characters that populate this freakish, violent and dangerous landscape. Given where this particular book ends, it should probably come as no surprise that Festival of the Flesh launches into bloodthirsty mayhem almost from the word go and doesn’t let up.

Carnival is occasionally laced with levity, lighter moments and instances of jocularity courtesy of some of the characters, but Festival, not so much. It is grim, bloody, ultra-violent, and keeps the foot on the accelerator throughout. In addition there’s a moment in here serving as a brutal analogy for the reality that the laughter is over. Let’s see if anybody can pick that moment.

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The crew comprised of Loco, Blades, Angelique, Cleo, Stix, Ben, Minx, and Jason have discovered exactly what the Festival of the Flesh is, and the true motivations behind the sinister Mister E. steamrolling their former place of employment under a garish new horror themed carnival entity. Along the way, their reckless and dangerous choices and entanglements have created a snowball effect that has dragged numerous others into the slipstream.

Percy, Jason’s flatmate, a studious, naive fellow, prepared to blindly folow Jason and stick his neck out for him and his friends without fully understanding what he’s involving himself in.

Dawn, gym junkie fitness fanatic blonde who happens to live in the same apartment building as Jason and Percy. Her presence in the right place at the wrong time leads her into a world of deadly obsession, and of course the perverse world of the Festival of the Flesh.

Amber, beachy blonde beauty, with an attachment to Ben, and a distrust of all else. Circumstances have rendered her abandoned and friendless, but for the motley crew that is the ex-carnies, and she’ll do absolutely anything in her power to steer the mission away from entering into the Festival of the Flesh.

Colin Kadogan, Patrick Doolan and Jennifer Brand, police officers tasked by their boss, Chief Cavanaugh to investigate the Carnival, certain that a string of incidents are tied to the new horror creation. Chasing leads on what originally seemed like fairly routine cases, albeit of an unusual nature, these officers of the law are about to be catapulted into nightmarish realms, with Doolan in particular coming face to face with horrendous visions of his past.

And while the malevolent Mister E and his whole sadistic family loom large and threatening over all, behind the scenes lurks another more insidious soul. The demented Desmond Drago, surrounded by ghosts, intent on perversion, damage and bloodshed, stalks in shadows, driven by infatuation and the desire to twist the Festival to his advantage.

While many of these characters and others (including Amber’s duplicitious cordon of former friends) first surfaced during Carnival, they are all on a collision course of violence and horror that will land each and every one of them right in the midst of the Festival of the Flesh.

Come along and join them, but remember, Carnival of Chaos needs to be read first before you throw yourself into the mayhem of the Festival.

I can’t guarantee you’ll have a good time, in fact, I’m pretty sure you’re in for the exact opposite of that.

Available now in paperback and Kindle formats (part of J. Ellington Ashton’s massive Project 26, and most likely the bloodiest of the lot). Should come with several warnings, but doesn’t. Most folks by now should be well aware of what they’re getting into here, and the cover alone should serve as warning enough. This is a bloodsoaked, boobytrapped extreme carnival ride into the sheer depths of depravity and horrific violence. Come prepared.

festival cover

 

Hidden within a seemingly innocuous horror-themed carnival exists something far more disturbing. Where those with dollars and depraved desires find everything they seek catered for.

Hunted by mutant backwoods freaks, pursued relentlessly by the malevolent ringmaster who usurped their former boss, stranded in the deep woodland, and fast running out of options, the remaining few free ex-carnival employees are about to be forced into bloody battle that is only the beginning of a descent into sheer terror.

Having discovered the truth behind the carnival’s existence, these desperate souls know there is only one way to save any of their friends from becoming prized exhibits, and perverse playthings for the sick and bloodthirsty. They must gain entry and take part in the gruesome enterprise that lurks behind the garish trappings and faux horror extravagances of the carnival’s new and improved version.

Blood is going to pour like rain, to a symphony of screams. Bodies are going to stack up. The entertainment to be had here is enjoyed only by the most sadistic and degenerate of souls, and from all walks of life they come, from every corner of society, seeking to indulge their sickest, bloodiest impulses.

Peel away the bright, colourful facade of the carnival and you’ll find the hideous heart that is the Festival of Flesh.

http://smarturl.it/festivaloftheflesh

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CARNIVAL OF CHAOS

Meet the eight souls who used to be employees of a quaint little establishment known by the rather cumbersome name of Chippy the Champ’s Classic Circus and Carnival.

They’ve just turned up to work to find their old boss has inexplicably parted ways with the business, leaving it in the hands of a sinister newcomer with an entourage of brutal staff, and vastly different ideas on how to run his new acquisition.

Not only are most of their old professions likely to be rendered obsolete and not required in the malevolent Mister E’s new vision of a sleek, ultramodern, terrifying Horror Park, but their loyalty to their former employer has them at odds with the new owner from the word go.

Harsh words become physical violence, as assaults and intimidation are carried out upon those unwilling to bend to fit into the new Ringmaster’s grand regime. Threats, sleazy propositions, and warnings that more violence and far worse will follow is just the precursor to all dismissed carnival employees being forced to leave the premises immediately without being allowed any access to personal possessions. There are many terminated employees shown the door on this day, but only these eight make the potentially foolish decision to return at a later date, seeking retribution.

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Angelique. The trapeze artist. Acrobat. Gymnast. A fiery, feisty, compact brunette stunner with a burning desire for revenge. She’s a ringleader, an instigator, and possesses a natural willingness to launch herself into dangerous situations, and the ability to convince others to do likewise.

Ben. The strongman. A six foot five shaven-headed behemoth, comprehensively covered in tattoos, fond of toting around sledgehammers. Powerful, loyal, and keen to right the wrongs he sees perpetuated on his friends. Looks intimidating, but there’s a good heart beneath that muscled, inked exterior.

Minx. The elephant trainer. Blonde and nervous, never a leader, always a follower. The least willing to buy into any vengeful missions, she’s also far too prone to succumb to peer pressure. Born of affluent folks, Minx doesn’t really need a job, but the chance to see her beloved elephants again is a powerful incentive to sway her into joining her wronged co-workers in all they seek to do.

Stix. The clown. With a penchant for food and painfully bright ridiculous clothing, the genial Stix isn’t just a circus or carnival clown at work, he’s a clown in general, fond of pranks and mischief, and a good time all round. More prepared to look for the safer way out of trouble than to plunge headfirst into it, he’s nonetheless also prepared to follow his long-time friends and associates into the pits of hell.

Cleo. The tiger performer. Aloof, statuesque, pierced brunette beauty. With a propensity for profanity, a stubborn streak and a temper, to go with no qualms about speaking her mind, she is among the first of those vowing vengeance on those responsible for the carny crew’s rough treatment.

Blades. The knife man. Short, wiry, and gaunt, Blades is small in stature, but big in intimidation. Blades isn’t merely a catchy nickname plucked out of thin air; this fellow is lethal with anything sharp and carries more concealed knives around than an average armoury. Stix’s sidekick, or more appropriately, vice versa. While Stix brings the jokes and good humour, Blades brings the genuine menace.

Loco. The oddity. The freak. The true ringleader, spearhead and driving force behind all the maelstrom of events the displaced ex-carnival workers find themselves engulfed in. A six foot tattooed, pierced, braided, Mohawked entity Loco is who all the others seek direction from. Looks frightening, genuinely is frightening. Carries around an abundance of secrets.

Jason. The sometime sideshow operator. Jack of all menial trades. Easy-going, metal-loving Jason is the newest member of the Carnival, and not being a true ‘carny’ as such, most likely to be kept around for the new Horror Park vision. Instead, despite being in desperate need of a job, he is first to speak up against those seeking to undo the antiquated notions of the Classic. Quick-thinking, quick-acting, impetuous, impulsive, Jason is the wildcard in the vengeful jobless carnival brigade.

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Spearheaded by the persuasive Loco and Angelique, this intrepid (or insanely foolish) octet bide their time for a week, then meet up once more, with plans to return to the Carnival grounds. Motivated partly by the desire to regain some of the possessions they weren’t allowed to take upon their termination, but mostly by the need to somehow seek vengeance on those they feel wronged them, the disgruntled collective return under cover of the dark.

Soon enough they can see that in that week absent from the place, Mister E, his hordes of workers, and most likely those who elected to remain in the new Ringmaster’s employ have not been idle. Nothing remains of the rustic old, tranquil place of employment they were all used to. In its place is a massive sprawling monstrosity of a creation, a modern Carnival behemoth still in the process of being completely set up. Surrounded by towering chain-link fences topped by barbed wire, this giant entity dwarfs the tiny Classic Carnival it has eclipsed.

This is the Carnival of Chaos, and what they’re about to discover inside is going to change a simple revenge mission into an escalating nightmare of terrifying proportions, where it isn’t just the eight of them being dragged into a slipstream of violence, pain, perversion and unimaginable horror, but many others as well.

 

Carnival of Chaos (which is part of the massive Project 26 creation from J. Ellington Ashton Press) is available now in paperback and Kindle, part one of a two book tale which culminates with Festival of the Flesh (available in two weeks).

CarnivalofChaos

Threatened, assaulted, and ultimately dismissed from their jobs, a group of disgruntled ex-carnival workers swear vengeance on the sinister new boss responsible for their state. Coercing even the most unwilling amongst them to join in on the revenge mission, the collective wait, biding their time before returning to the carnival grounds under cover of darkness. Plans for regaining lost property and enacting some simple retribution swiftly turn deadly when a series of grisly discoveries are made.

Now, having unwittingly involved themselves in something insidious and monstrous, this miscreant collective are being hunted by a relentless force. As more people are sucked into the maelstrom, innocent and nefarious alike, they’re all about to find themselves on an escalating nightmare journey into a brutal world of unimaginable pain and perversion.

Snaring a ticket to this carnival doesn’t ensure fun and frivolity. It only ensures carnage and chaos. Survival is not guaranteed.

http://smarturl.it/carnivalofchaos

 

PROJECT 26 ROLLS ON

If you’ve been following the mammoth ongoing Project 26 entity (or alternatively, even if you haven’t-you’d probably have seen an assortment of posts regarding it floating all around Facebook, Twitter and various other places) you would be aware that more P26 books have emerged in recent weeks.

On the off-chance you aren’t up to date with Project 26, I’ll do a quick recap, though elsewhere on this site I’ve laid out what the project is all about. In short, it is a series of books-26 in total, one for each letter of the alphabet. Novels, novellas and anthologies are all represented. Unlike other projects of a similar nature (the whole alphabet represented by books or stories or whatnot) these books are not being released in strict alphabet order, instead they are coming out in lots of four or thereabouts in completely random order, so you’ll never know what is coming next.

In any case, among those recently released are a few where I have involvement in different capacities. Two of these, Slaughter on the Seas and Zombies: Zero Hour, I’m editor for (I’ll just mention here that I wasn’t initally planning to be editor for these, but stepped into the role when the original editor dropped out of the project. I have a story in Zombies, and generally speaking I’m not one to put my own stories in works I’m editor for, hence the disclaimer regarding how I came to be helming those particular books). Nonetheless, both of them are doing well, particularly the latter, despite the fact that it revolves around zombies, which of course many people feel are over-saturating the market, or they’ve had their day or some such shit. Bear in mind though, Project 26 has been in the making for quite some time now, and regardless how one feels about zombies, the truth is, they’ve gone beyond a trend to a mainstay in horror fiction, and there is always going to be a market for material revolving around them. While there may be nothing new under the sun, there are always plenty of ways to put a different spin on things and many of the authors involved in books like this with familiar themes or popular horror entities/monsters/what-have-you have found engaging and unique ways of keeping well-worn paths interesting.

Notions of the undead have fascinated and terrified humanity for centuries, and none more so than those tales revolving around zombies. From the very root of the zombie myth back in Haitian slave days to a saturation through popular culture, zombies have crawled their way up out of their graves, refusing to stay interred.

Now, as their hordes increase and their hungers grow, the undead plagues cannot be stopped. It isn’t just a case of no more room left in hell, now there’s no room left on earth. The apocalypse is here, and it’s time for humanity to abdicate their position as rulers of the planet to those monstrous reanimated ghouls from the tomb.

Humans have had their day. Time’s up. The world belongs to the zombies now. It’s zero hour.

http://smarturl.it/zombieszerohour

 

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Filled with monstrous entities from the deep, both real and fabled, and sailed by marauding pirate ships with bloodthirsty souls looking to plunder and destroy, the great briny blue of the ocean is one of the most terrifying places imaginable.

With almost three quarters of the earth’s surface covered by sea, this vast expanse is home to myriad horrors.

From hundreds of fathoms down, or lurking just beneath the surface, to brazenly navigating the nautical domain, these deadly threats are just waiting for unsuspecting souls to take to the waters.

So come on, take the plunge, dive on in. The water is fine. What exists within it is another story.

http://smarturl.it/slaughterontheseas

SotS Cover

Elsewhere I have stories appearing in a couple of the others released in those surprise bundles, including the demonic collective Dance With the Demon and the swarming plague of horror that is Insectile Illusion, both anthologies helmed by Toneye Eyenot. In the former I have a piece titled Summoning where a black metal band inadvertently bring forth a malevolent being after messing around with what they think is merely a cool song. In the latter I present Sewer Dwellers which features a thief too smart for his own good, thinking he’s evaded police capture by hiding out in the sewers beneath the city. This cunning fellow is about to discover staying one step ahead of the cops is the least of his worries.

Demons – we all have them. Like a parasitic shadow, attaching itself and penetrating its foul claws deep into your soul, your own personal demon feeds on your fears. Fear – the basest of all human emotions; the one from which all our others gain impetus and purpose – even of love.

Throughout history, the Demon has been projected outwards, given form, given a cornucopia of names and even hierarchies. Truth be told, they are a deeply ingrained expression of our own psyches. Manifesting in a myriad of ways: addictions – physical, mental and spiritual; hatred and prejudice, ignorance and subservience – the Demon lives within us all, and choreographs the dance of life towards death.

As you immerse yourself in the demonic tales within these pages, the question may arise…

How much of yourself have you given away, as you Dance with the Demon?

 

Nothing makes the skin crawl more than skin crawling with insects. Making their way into every orifice, burrowing through flesh to lay their eggs by the million; you, their unwilling host. Swarms invading your home, infesting the streets, devouring crops, bringing disease, famine, and death. If the insects decide to take over, there is next to nothing you can do in defence. Now, keep this in the forefront of your mind as you delve into this entomological excursion. The stories within are guaranteed to have you swatting and scratching at illusive insects as you read the tales these authors have poured into this bug collection from hell. Your own bed, especially, will no longer be a sanctuary as the antagonists of these stories follow you into your nightmares.

But hey, it all just an illusion, right? Right?

 

There have also been releases from Essel Pratt, Roma Gray and Mark Woods to check out as the Project 26 Machine rolls relentlessly on. Be sure to collect them all.

And stay tuned as more releases emerge since among them will be new brutality and bloodshed in the form of the dual monsters known as Carnival of Chaos and Festival of the Flesh.

CARNIVAL

Part one of an ultra-violent, splatterpunk, visceral expedition into a world of revenge, pain, perversion and bloody death. Come along and snare a ticket to this carnival, but proceed with caution. Survival is not guaranteed.

FESTIVAL

Hidden within a seemingly innocuous horror themed carnival exists something far more insidious. Where those with dollars and depraved desires find everything they seek catered for.
Peel away the bright, colourful facade of the Carnival and you’ll find the hideous heart that is the Festival of the Flesh. #P26

COMING SOON

 

REJECTED FOR CONTENT 6: WORKPLACE RELATIONS

 

Ever had that one job you absolutely hated? Where the thought of getting out of bed in the morning to head off to work filled you with utter dread? Where just about anything is an option if it means being able to avoid the place?


Evil boss? Creepy, conniving co-workers? Never been a team player, and can’t stand the thought of having to work as one?
Appalling working conditions? Underpaid, underappreciated? Sick of seeing others advance while you stagnate?


What about the other side of the coin? Ever had that one job you absolutely loved? Where you couldn’t bear the thought of losing it, couldn’t imagine how you’d get by if you didn’t have it? What lengths would you go to, to ensure you kept it?


How about no job at all? The endless parade of pounding the pavement in a fruitless search for employment, with doors slamming in your face. No experience. No prospects. No future.

Where do you go after you've been to hell_ You go insane.(1)

For the long awaited sixth volume, Rejected For Content is heading off to work.
I’m looking for tales from the workplace. Any workplace.
When good jobs go bad. When bad jobs get worse. Bastard bosses. Disturbed co-workers. Places where the most unhinged of souls would never dream of working in their wildest nightmares.


When workplace relations break down beyond fixing. Or when workplace relations strengthen, in ways that are just plain wrong.


I’m primarily after horror, but any genre is considered, as long as the piece has been, or is likely to be, rejected on the grounds of content.


For those who are no stranger to RFC, you know the drill. For anybody else, familiarity with the first five volumes just to get the gist of what we’re after is recommended, but not essential.


Get hired. Get fired. Get rejected.

REJECTED FOR CONTENT 6

There’s one month left until this closes, so get cracking with those applications (aka stories) if you have any plans to try out for a position in the most disturbing, dysfunctional, deranged workplace of all-Rejected For Content.

3k to 10k word count (flexible on both minimums and maximums-flash fiction and poetry will be considered, but since I’m primarily after stories, only a few poems etc. are likely to be accepted, so bring the best).

As this is WetWorks, extreme horror and bizarro stories are preferable, but ultimately any genre is fine provided it has been, or is likely to be, rejected on the grounds of content.
Times New Roman
12 pt
double line spacing
Deadline: August 31, 2017
Email address for submissions is blackmetaljim@hotmail.com

WetWorks Logo

TRIGGERED

Posted: August 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

TRIGGERED

This was originally intended be an invite-only experiment, but I figured I’ll throw it open for anybody who might want to get involved. Let me know and I’ll add you to the group.

Triggers. Everybody has them. Some traumatic life event. A phobia. Something brought on by anxiety. Fear. Loneliness. Desperation. Desire. Rage.
It’s how we react to them, that shapes us.
Will they break us, leave us curled up and lost, helpless and hopeless? Or will they be the catalyst in making us snap? Triggered to run riot and rampage?
Everybody has triggers. Anything can set them off.
I want stories of triggers, of the reasons behind them, what triggers folks, folks who have been triggered, how they react. And the consequences when events, situations, overheard words or misconstrued actions kick off a chain reaction where anything can happen.

TRIGGERED


This is a WetWorks project, so naturally I’m primarily looking at extreme horror, though not exclusively.
10k maximum, no minimum (flash fiction and poetry are acceptable if you feel you can do the theme justice with minimal words. Bear in mind though, the large proportion of material I will be looking for will be stories, so bring the best for poems etc. Three poem limit on submissions).
Multiple story submissions are fine.
Time New Roman 12 preferred. Double spaced.
Subject matter is wide open to interpretation, there is very little that is taboo here; after all it is trigger material and the exploration of it. However, remember I’m after stories, not just gore for gore’s sake, or something deliberately intended to offend or set someone off without the presence of a solid storyline. We’re after reasons, reactions, whys and hows, and so on.
This project is an experiment, so feel free to have fun with it, see what your imaginations can dredge up.

blackmetaljim@hotmail.com

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SOME BOOKS COME WITH A TRIGGER WARNING.

THIS WHOLE BOOK WILL BE ONE BIG TRIGGER WARNING.

PROJECT 26

Posted: July 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

PROJECT 26

***SPECIAL J. Ellington Ashton ANNOUNCEMENT REVEALED***

As announced by Roma Gray

P26 – Project 26

26 books, each one representing a different letter in the alphabet, with each letter in turn represented a horror-related concept that starts with that letter.

The owner of JEA, catt dahman, challenged several JEA authors to participate in this grand project. The project consists of an assortment of anthologies, novels, and short story collections. Many of the authors involved in the anthologies did not even know about this, although they were part of a larger contest and won a huge prize (to be announced later)

Over a year in the making, the creative range and scope of this project is both awe inspiring and terrifying. We challenge you to collect them all.

Today we have four new books Backwoods Bonfire a novel by Scott Essel Pratt, Vampz Vendetta an anthology featuring multiple JEA authors and edited by John Ledger, Jurassic Jackaroo: Jasper Junction – a novel by Roma Gray and Lacrimation of the Leviathan a novel by Scott Essel Pratt

What? They’re not being released in order? Damn straight. At JEA we are rebels 😉 In two more weeks we’ll launch a few more. How many? Which letters? No one knows

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As announced on Facebook by Roma Gray, J. Ellington Ashton Press have finally unveiled P26, which is of course Project 26, where all 26 letters of the alphabet are represented by either a novel, anthology, or collection in horrific fashion.

Unlike other alphabet related projects which have occurred before, this behemoth is not rolling out books in alphabetical order, instead they are going to emerge completely randomly. The first four to materialise are those mentioned in the above statement.

For my own part, I account for four of the overall letters of the twenty six, including helming two anthologies (featuring a host of excellent authors with stories tailored to suit the specific theme of each letter) and two novels (which, like Riders-Plebs 2, are both part of the same story). These two, if you’ve been paying attention on Facebook, Twitter etc. are of course, Carnival of Chaos and Festival of the Flesh.

These books revolve around a group of disgruntled ex-employees of a rustic old Carnival/circus entity who find themselves suddenly out of jobs after a sinister newcomer and his entourage buy out and take over their place of employment with grand designs on turning it into an enormous modern horror themed monster.

Their own grand visions of enacting some type of vengeance go to hell in a rush, when they make some disturbing and grotesque discoveries that suggest there is far more to the Carnival takeover than mere business.

Now they, and a whole slew of associates, innocent friends, and even the police, are going to find themselves hopelessly entangled in the hideous melange of bloodshed, perversion and savage violence of the Festival of the Flesh, the gruesome entity that lurks behind the bright, seemingly innocuous facade of the Carnival of Chaos.

carnival cover

Stay tuned for more information, actual synopsis’s for both books, release updates, and keep on top of all the other books comprising the project as they roll out. As announced above, four of these, including two novellas by Essel Pratt, one from Roma Gray and an anthology edited by John Ledger, have already been released.

*Warning-All the books constituting Project 26 are horror in genre, but fit under the broad blanket of horror, suitable for the vast majority of readers. Carnival and Festival on the other hand, are WetWorks oriented works, which means they dwell mostly in extreme horror realms. Be prepared for extreme violence, explicit sex, offensive material, potential triggers. If some scenes don’t disturb, you may be dead. Or gleefully perverted.

festival cover

SotS Cover

Though I will constantly make reference to the late great Richard Laymon as being the chief influence and inspiration on my writing, indeed the man whose work altered and honed the way I write, after I first read ‘Darkness, Tell Us’ back in the early 90’s, it was a little earlier than that when I became hooked on horror and there were myriad motivators prior to Laymon the king. Hutson, early Koontz, McCammon and old King were pivotal to me, but when it comes down to specific books that played a massive part in entrenching me in a lifelong love with the genre, in all its mediums, three novels in particular spring immediately to mind, because they’ve stuck with me from the moment I’ve read them, been re-read over and over again, and never lose any of the horrific charm that first obsessed me with them. They are Graham Masterton’s ‘Walker’s, Thomas Page’s ‘The Spirit’ and Clive Barker’s ‘Cabal’. Since this is the book that made me, singular, I will have to narrow that down to just one and in that event I’m going to run with ‘Cabal.’ Being the kid at school who was always writing tales about phantasmagorical monsters and bizarre beasts of my own creation, ‘Cabal’s’ fantastic graveyard community of Midian was a source of immediate fascination to me, fostering an instantaneous love for these oddities and the characters who joined with them. Having a love for all things dark and all things monstrous meant ‘Cabal’ was just about the most perfect story I’d ever read at that stage of the late eighties, a young impressionable lad with a profound desire to explore these dark and twisted worlds. The characters are all deeply flawed and damaged, and the portrayal as humans existing as the real monsters of the piece is something that has always remained with me, something I like to explore in my writing as well. The atmosphere throughout the entire thing is an epic one, laden with menace, darkness, and fantasy aspects, but often conjures up more emotional moments and feelings of alienation, and Barker is a master at being able to balance everything with just the right touch of poignancy, dropping in moments of shocking violence and a nice splash of sex as well. The copy I first read was the Fontana Collins edition from 1989 featuring Craig Sheffer as Boone in his monster personality after becoming one of the Nightbreed and Anne Bobby as Lori from the Nightbreed film adaptation which came out the following year, and it also contained the curious artwork from Barker himself, appearing throughout, before chapters, at the end of chapters. I was almost as intrigued by these artworks as I was the story and they definitely enhanced the assortment of atmospheres conjured up by the narrative itself. I still own that very same copy, along with Laymon’s ‘Darkness, Tell Us’, one of the very few books I actually have the one copy I’ve maintained from the very first reading way back then and consequently its pages are yellowing and it certainly looks aged, but otherwise I keep it in pristine condition. It has stood up to so many re-readings I have lost count of how many times I’ve pored over the same pages, been immersed in the same unusual characters and drifted away to the world of Midian. It may not be Barker’s most acclaimed or widely acknowledged work, and as a relatively short piece considered a novella these days, might not be as extensively convoluted as much of his other material, but to me it remains a classic and will forever hold a place as one of those books that leave an indelible mark. It’s one of three books that made me, but for the purpose of this article, it is the book that made me.