|Like Lee Allen Howard, author
The Morgan family and Tredegar House have always fascinated me, in particular Evan Morgan, Papal Knight, sexual predator and Satanist, along with his more tragic sister, Gwyneth Morgan, who died in mysterious circumstances.
In ill health, weakened by enteric typhoid and drug abuse, Gwyneth was a severe embarrassment to her family and was all but incarcerated in the “Niche,” a large house in Wimbledon.
In the early hours of Thursday, December 11, 1924, she slipped out of the house and vanished. Six months later, her body was fished out of the Thames near Wapping.
The mystery is manifold. By all accounts, Gwyneth was severely ill, unable to walk far without feeling tired, and spent much of her time in bed. On the night she disappeared, London was shrouded in one of those legendary fogs, an impenetrable “pea-souper,” and the nearest entry point to the Thames was Putney Bridge, four miles from where she lived.
It’s hard to believe that a semi-invalid could walk four miles in thick fog through unfamiliar streets and fall into the river at Putney Bridge. The fact that her decomposed body was found in Wapping, even farther away, compounds the mystery. It would have to have floated along one of the world’s busiest waterways beyond Hammersmith and Rotherhithe without being seen.
Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the press. In the absence of hard facts, newspapers had a field day with theories involving white slavers, Chinese opium lords, and lesbian lovers.
In this context, The Gift was born.
Whilst the ostensible heroine in The Gift is an orphan, Lizzie McBride’s interaction with the Morgan family drives the story.
Born in a Liverpool slum, Lizzie McBride is the daughter of an Irish seer who dies when Lizzie is twelve, leaving her in charge of two younger sisters and a grieving father. When her father commits suicide, Lizzie is caught between two worlds. An aunt and uncle decide the three orphans would be better off with them in America. Just as they are about to board ship, Lizzie, on impulse, runs away, and her life changes forever.
Pursued by a vengeful aunt, Lizzie cannonades into the young and charismatic magician, Aleister Crowley, who for his own reasons introduces her to Lady Gwyneth Morgan, daughter of the richest family in Wales and sister to the flamboyant occultist, Evan Morgan.
Unknown to her, Lizzie possesses one devastating gift. When the occult world discovers this, governments and powerful individuals seek her out. Only one man can protect her: the magician John Grey.
Though there are elements of the fantastic, the novel is grounded in historical fact. It involves real people and historical events as it explores the occult underbelly of the English aristocracy and its links with the emergent Nazi movement.
The Gift is the first book of a trilogy, beginning in 1912 and ending in 1941. The three books trace the occult rivalry between two sisters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride, and interweaves historical events and the cracks between—the ultimate prize, the unlocking of Hell.
The second book, Bloodline, traces the corruption of Elsie and the love/hate relationship between the two sisters.
The final book will describe Elsie’s attempt to engineer a bloodbath—World War II—through the occult manipulation of diplomacy; it ends in a struggle to the death between the two sisters as Operation Barbarossa begins.
The three books are inspired by the rich but wasted lives of Evan and Gwyneth Morgan, and the dynamics of three fictitious characters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride, and the magician John Grey.
I recently had a chance to interview writer Reed Alexander. He lives in upstate New York, where he’s become intimately familiar with the capital region. “Even since I was a scrappy teenager,” he says, “I spent a large portion of my childhood either in big cities or deep forest.” He holds a deep and separate love for both where, he admits he was “a bit of a wild animal” that may or may not have something to do with his love of horror.
Reed is a horror writer and critic, and a bit of a fanatic about the genre in general. “Nothing really entertains me quite as much as horror does. It is possible that the legends of both the deep forest and urban decay drove my curiosity for the terrifying. Both are equally and naturally scary places in their own right.”
When did you first start writing? Did you ever think it would lead you to where you are today?
I was twelve. I use to write RIFTS fan fic and didn’t think much of it at the time. As a matter of fact, I was so deeply ADHD and poorly disciplined in the English language, I seldom finished any writing until I was in my early twenties.
I’m still learning new things about the English language today at 38. It’s been a long, strange journey. I should mention I was illiterate until the fifth grade. I wasn’t a strong writer till about the age of 25, and I never considered it possible to have a career in writing. And yet, I felt compelled to. I couldn’t stop. I had stories and I needed to tell them. Even if no one would listen.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a release date, and where will it be available for purchase?
What I’m working on right now is a joint effort between me and a gentleman named James Leif. He doesn’t do interviews, otherwise I’d send him your way. Admittedly, he’s a bit of an enigma to me. Right now he’s studying a structure recently discovered among the Hobbit People (Flores Man) of Flores, Indonesia.
I do have two books coming out, though. The first is The Flagellant, which drops around the end of April. The other, In the Shadow of the Mountain, will be released next month. I’ve also recently accepted a contract to be in an anthology of short stories called Sorrow. My short is titled “Cold.”
What else have you published so far?
So far, I have a few shorts published in Art Post Magazine. The first story, “Inside,” was the featured story of their June edition. (https://artpostmag.com/product/june-2018-artpost-magazine-physical/)
The second is titled “Not In My Country,” which was accepted for their October Horror anthology. (https://artpostmag.com/product/october-2018-artpost-magazine/)
Oddly, the first thing I wrote, while really violent, wasn’t horror. It was about an anti-hero with serious reality-bending super powers called “Bend or Break.” (https://www.pagepublishing.com/books/?book=bend-or-break)
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Focus. I have serious ADHD. I’m always working on five thing at a time.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Depends on the book. The first thing I wrote took months to finish and years to perfect. The most recent novella I wrote took only about two weeks to write and about a month to perfect.
A common misconception about authors is that they are socially inept. Does that hold true for you?
I am about as socially awkward as they come. I hate being around people. I don’t like social situations. I can’t stand the mall, I can’t stand bars, I can’t stand clubs… this is basically going to turn into a list of places filled with people that I don’t like.
Now, I can socialize and, as a matter of fact, I find I do it well. I just hate to.
What makes the horror genre so special to you?
I don’t know. Life is pretty boring really. I guess I wish it was actually filled with ghosts and monsters and shit. Writing is about escapism. Why I choose to escape into the terrifying? Not sure. I just find it more interesting than fantasy or action. I think it’s the nature of the conflict. Something feels more human about the struggle inherent to horror.
What’s your process for getting from idea or situation to an actual plot that you can outline (if you outline)?
I don’t outline. I usually get an idea and then I target an outcome. It feels like the journey between point A and B is just a natural progression.
So how do I get an idea? Several different ways. I either have a dream—no shit—I have a nightmare that has a full-blown plot, start to finish, and I write that, or something pisses me off. When something pisses me off, I feel the need to address it in some way. The Flagellant, for instance. That story is about how much I hate the way victims are commonly written in horror movies. Far too often, they’re written as either generally obnoxious debauchees at best, or absolute insufferable assholes at worst. There’s no relating to them and half the damn time you’re rooting for them to get killed. I wanted to write a story about trying to humanize said insufferable assholes.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be, and why?
The Flagellant. I wrote it almost twelve years ago, and I’ve improved so much since then. It took three editors almost two months to clean it up. It was embarrassing. I’d want to rewrite it as the writer I am now to see what I could do with it.
Do you prefer writing short stories, novellas, or novels?
The pen COMMANDS ME! I joke, of course, but I really don’t know what I’m writing until I’m in the thick of it. There’s no real preference. I feel like some stories just need to run longer than others.
Do you have a writer’s website or Facebook page where readers can follow you? Twitter?
Of course. My reviews are on Horror.Media, and Madnessheart.press.
Samples of my writing are on my Facebook page and occasionally on Twitter but also my reviews, so check out the Notes on my Facebook page:
Writer and editor Dean M. Drinkel recently opened a horror press called Demain Publishing. On March 1 they launched the Short Sharp Shocks! Series with the first six ebooks on Amazon. Six more will be published by the end of March with another twelve coming in April. Drinkel’s been busy!
The first six books out now are:
Amazon is doing a deal on Books 1–5 at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NZXH9B3/.
Books 6–11 will be released March 29 and are available for pre-sales on Amazon:
All covers are by Adrian Baldwin.
You can learn more about Demain, submission calls, interviews with all the authors, and up-to-date news at https://demainpublishingblog.weebly.com/.
Satori is caught between two worlds. There is something he needs in one, but the other keeps drawing him back. However, he is in love and he isn’t going to let a little thing like death get in his way. To reach his goal, he must face unimaginable horrors, not least of which is his true self.
Star’s tortured and broken body awaits Satori, but does she really need him to save her? His rival, a rage-filled young woman, grows more powerful and becomes as twisted as the ribbons in her hair while the demon, Lilith, draws each of them inexorably towards her. Who will survive the coming battle?
Full of sex and magic, PSYCHONAUT is an exploration into the human psyche and the second book in Voiez’s STARBLOOD trilogy.
Carmilla Voiez is more of a singer than a writer. She tells her compelling story in a hypnotic, distinctive voice that brings her eerie world vividly to life.
PSYCHONAUT is a book of mad impulses, inner vision, sadism, escape and belief. You feel uncomfortable reading it, like Alex strapped to the chair in Clockwork Orange being taught to feel sick at atrocity. Rather than leave us crippled by response, though, Psychonaut bears you through the hurt towards the only paradise we can be assured of…a love past fault.
—Jef Withonef, Houston Press
PSYCHONAUT is the second book in Carmilla Voiez’s STARBLOOD series. It’s a relaunch of the novel by American indie Vamptasy Publishing. The series contains four books and follows the lives of a group of friends: Star, Satori, Freya, Donna, Raven, and Ivan, young Goths living in Bristol, England.
In the first book, STARBLOOD, Star breaks up with her lover, Satori, but he is unwilling to let her go. Satori is an adept chaos magician and decides to cast a spell to keep Star by his side, but because of competing forces Lilith, mother of demons, uses this moment to come to Earth and enter their lives. The result is a tangled web of murder, madness and betrayal.
You can find the first book at Amazon and other retailers: http://smarturl.it/Starblood.
PSYCHONAUT takes us beyond the urban lives of these ill-fated Goths and into other worlds full of demons, gods, magic, and monsters.
PSYCHONAUT is available now at http://smarturl.it/PsychonautVoiez.