Preview: Opening Scene to Carsun, by Jack Rollins

Preview: Opening Scene to Carsun, by Jack Rollins

I’ve been threatening to resurrect this project for a while now, and I think it’s time to dust it off again. Carsun is set in the fictional town of Tilwick, and is a rewrite of work I wrote in the early 2000s. I revisited Tilwick in the story Home, Sweet Home, in the Kill For A Copy anthology by Dark Chapter Press. In the coming weeks, Dark Chapter Press will also release my one-shot Hard Man, as part of their A-Z collection. This story too is set in Tilwick, but takes place later in Carsun’s chronology.

Before long, I’ll introduce you to the wealthy young entrepreneur Matt Carsun, but in the meantime, I thought you might like to read the opening scene of Carsun. Let me know what you think in the comments.

John Dillon closed the farm office for the night and locked the door behind him. He walked across the courtyard to the farmhouse door and entered the porch area. There he took off his Wellington boots and cap before stepping into the reception area.

“Penny,” he called.

Penny called back to him from the cozy, lamp lit lounge, prying her attention away from an American crime drama, “You ready for your dinner?”

“Aye, please. Sorry I got finished late. I thought I would have been able to eat with you all.” John tore open the Velcro fasteners on his green overalls. He slipped his broad, muscular shoulders free of the work clothes, revealing the grey t-shirt beneath.

Penny appeared in the reception and kiss him as she passed on her way to the kitchen. “You get any further forward?” she asked.

“No. You know me, I’m not brilliant with numbers.”

“Just go and ask him outright, then.”

John left the overalls gathered at his waist and followed Penny into the spacious kitchen. “It’s not that easy, Penny. Frank’s worked for me for years. I mean, what if I’m wrong? He’ll take some replacing.”

“Maybe that’s the problem,” Penny said, retrieving the plated dinner wrapped in foil, from the oven. “Maybe he’s been here so long he thinks he’s owed a little bit extra.”

Outside, the farm dog Finn howled.

“What’s wrong with that bloody dog?” Penny asked.

“He’s just having a howl,” John said. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Haven’t you heard him barking all night?”

“I’ve been in the office; how would I hear him?”

Penny took the foil off the dinner and placed it in the microwave oven. “Go and get him in while you have your overalls on. The kids will end up awake all night with him carrying on like that out there.”

John rolled his eyes and grumbled on his way back to the porch. He stepped into his wellington boots and pulled them until his feet, clad in thick, woollen socks, sank into place. “Bloody dog,” he muttered. Finn was an experienced working animal. It was unlikely that he had become excitable over a few rabbits in the fields. Maybe he’s losing it, John thought.

John fastened his overalls up and walked around the side of the house and descended the long concrete slope past the sheds, heading for the fields. “Finn!” he called.

The dog howled again, long and low.

“Finn! Come by!” he called. “Stupid bugger.”

John could hear that Finn was in the nearest fallow field, but could not see him through the utter darkness.

Finn continued to bark as John opened the gate a couple of feet, but stayed there, hoping he would not have to give chase across the field. “Finn! Come by!”

John heard Finn’s paws padding over the dry ground. He was sprinting by the sounds of it. The border collie suddenly appeared and ran through the gap in the gate John had made for him. He didn’t stop. John reached out and managed to get a hand to the dog’s coat as he shot past. He drew back his fingers and could see that they were covered in a dark liquid. He sniffed.


In the field behind him he heard something thudding across the ground, heading in his direction. What could it be? It sounded too big to be Scratchy the farm cat. It sounded too big to be a hare or a fox. This sounded like a man running towards him. He strained his eyes and moved through the gate into the field. “Who’s there?” he called.

No answer, just footfalls.

“Who’s that? Answer before I get the shotgun!”

Suddenly, his mind raced with paranoid thoughts that Frank was laughing at him, bragging to the rest of the men about how easy it was to steal from him. John’s no good with money. Help your bloody self! “Bastard!” he muttered.

With the distraction of the image of his old friend, he stopped concentrating on the rushing footsteps, until ice-cold fingers grasped him and pulled him down to the grass.

Finn barked and howled and Penny cursed the dog from the comfort of the lounge.

John screamed as fingers clawed his mouth wide open. Nobody heard except Finn, whose instinct to protect his master was overcome by the urge to flee in terror.


Want more action from Tilwick? Check out Home, Sweet Home in Kill For A Copy.

Book Review: Jeremy, by Matt Hickman

Book Review: Jeremy, by Matt Hickman

A book of two halves and a boy of two sides

You know I always like to disclose any connections I have to the author of the books I review, and to remind you that when I read something other than in the capacity of an editor, I read and review in the capacity of a customer, who either enjoys it or doesn’t. My writer friends know this, and I expect honesty from them and they can expect it from me. AtoZ_singles_Brazen Cover Amazon CompatMatt Hickman and I have become friends via Facebook and are set to meet in person around Em-Con 2016. Matt has placed stories with my publishing house Dark Chapter Press, including Brazen and the Kids anthology.

Still here?… then let’s begin.


Jeremy is the story of a young lad picked on at school, who sticks close to his little group of pals who mostly live in fear of a school bully who adores tormenting them. He learns to stand up for himself, but in turn suffers a horrific injury, and emerges very different to the shrunken, frightened creature he was before.

This is quite a short novella, Hickman’s first, I believe. I don’t want to blow the plot by dwelling on it too long, but the premise and characters are great.

Matt Hickman conjures up such a realistic portrayal of the loneliness of latch-key kid Jeremy, who is comfortable and wants for nothing save the attention of his too-busy parents. The shortness of the story does not leave it without its twists and a couple of angles took me by surprise.

Something annoyed me though. I would have been much happier with more. The book feels a bit like two episodes of something, or a novel where the second act is missing. We skip time at one point, and I have a feeling the time that is skipped could have been very interesting, if not focussing on Jeremy, perhaps those around him. In saying that, I know that many people might disagree with me – and they’re right to in a way, because this story structure is the one we got, the one Hickman wanted us to read, and who knows, maybe there isn’t enough story to fill that bridging piece I described. Perhaps the two distinct halves of the story we get increase the story’s strength. We’ll never know, but I don’t think it’s ever a bad thing to want more of the story, and more of the writer’s style. I was right into the tale, and I don’t know, it just seemed to skip and the changes seemed sudden.

12765799_10156582904670451_731848862_o.jpgThe odd thing is I’d read a story by Matt Hickman before I actually read this, his first release, so I already know how fast the writer is honing his craft. It was nice to see where he started too, with this great little book. I’m excited to see what Hickman will do next and if Jeremy stands to be your introduction to the writer, I’m confident you’ll find plenty to enjoy here and what’s even better news is, from this writer, you’ll find the best is yet to come.

So, can I tempt you to pick up Jeremy? Click here and grab your copy today.

Want a Free Horror Story? The Winner of the August Flash Fic Competition is Here [Dark Chapter Press]

Want a Free Horror Story? The Winner of the August Flash Fic Competition is Here [Dark Chapter Press]

From the blog at Dark Chapter Press

The return of our monthly flash fiction competition attracted much interest and a great response from writers, both familiar to us here at Dark Chapter Press, and new. Such a response is great news for us here in the DCP dungeon, because it means writers like what we’re doing and want to jump onboard, but what if I told you it could be a poisoned chalice, a double-edged sword? Would you believe me?

Allow me to explain. The quality this month overall was some of the best we’ve ever seen. The image of that little creature in the basement really did spark something off in the imaginations of the writers who got involved. No wonder we over-ran on the judging time.

But it’s done. We have our August winner. This writer will soon be invited to join us, with a secret submission call to write a story for inclusion in an anthology for release next year. Don’t forget, that’s the prize this month, too – and in all the competitions that make up this 6-month campaign. This is how we are sourcing new talent and forging relationships with the writers who really want to have their work branded with the Dark Chapter Press seal.

David M Hoenig is our August winner. His story My Boy really nailed it this month. Congratulations to David and well done. We think his story is fantastic, and we’re sure you’ll all feel the same when you read it.

To read the story click here

10 Minutes With Horror Writing’s new Blood (Interview)

10 Minutes With Horror Writing’s new Blood (Interview)

Feind Gottes made his publishing debut in this summer’s Kill For A Copy. His story is the nasty taste in the mouth you are left with, as the final piece in the volume. Hell Awaits is now highlighted in several reviews as not only a fantastic story, but one which really does stay with you long after the book is closed. It’s the sort of story that really gets to the core of what horror is all about and is beyond doubt the perfect parting shot for the anthology.

Here you can hear from the author himself, a hard-working horror fanatic whose talent is matched only by his motivation.

[Article] Wes Craven – A Tribute by Stuart Keane (Dark Chapter Press)

[Article] Wes Craven – A Tribute by Stuart Keane (Dark Chapter Press)

After yesterday’s sad news on the death of Wes Craven, a man whose horror movies captured the fears and imaginations of generations, Dark Chapter Press team member Stuart Keane shares his thoughts on this most influential horror master.

Wes Craven – A Tribute

It was 3.44am. I should have been sound asleep, but being a writer, these late hours are my bread and butter; the perfect time to write horror. Outside is dark and quiet, the sound – or lack thereof – of mass humanity in slumber haunt the crisp air that preludes dawn and another day altogether. As I breathe in the cool air with the window wide open, I stare at the darkness, wondering what lies in the flickering shadows. Yes, I should have been asleep. But I wasn’t, I was adding some finishing touches to Cine, my upcoming novel.

And then the news broke. Wes Craven had passed away.

As one can expect, social media exploded. Facebook and Twitter lit up with the shocking news. Me, I was devastated. I even thought it was a hoax, such is the cruelty of the Internet these days (I wasn’t alone, many on my Facebook friend feed thought the same – unfortunately, it wasn’t to be).

Craven was the first director who terrified me – and when I say that, it’s with the sincerest truth and utmost respect. A Nightmare on Elm Street, possibly the most famous film on his illustrious resume, had me covering my face with a cushion and missing sleep for a week. Hell, even the cover scared me, something I alluded to in my latest blog post. It was only yesterday I was discussing his controversial The Last House On The Left with my wife, reminiscing on the film that offended many and launched a stellar horror career that would last over forty years.

Read more …