My review of Ali Harper’s The Disappeared, just before her visit on Tuesday 3 July to the Craft House in Saltaire….

The Disappeared by Ali  Harper

*****  5/5

Nothing is what it seems in this début thriller from Ali Harper, which is published by Harper Collins Killer Reads digital arm. If you remember this then you can keep up, well just about. This is a pacy, racy (in both senses), action packed story which sweeps you, the reader, along for the ride.

The backdrop is, unusually, the city of Leeds- more often its underbelly and its denizens; there are many local references throughout, like ‘the Spy Shop on Kirkstall Road’ (I googled it, and it exists!).

The two leading characters are a pair of female private investigators, (a gender job turn-around there in itself) who having just set up their new office premises, are desperate for a client. Lee and Jo are the PI’s who are very different in character, but have each other’s backs- often in extreme circumstances. They are likeable, relatable women who want to earn a living doing what they love. The dialogue between them is one of the book’s strengths- funny, caustic, affectionate and real. The narrative is told from Lee’s point of view and clearly she is carrying a car load of emotional baggage, some of which is explained later in the story. There is a surprising twist regarding Lee, three quarters of the way through which caught me off guard. Another occasion when Ali Harper pulls the rug from under the readers’ feet, very skilfully. (Won’t post a spoiler though).

When their first client, Susan Wilkins, walks through the doors of ‘No Stone Unturned’, Lee and Jo think they’re in luck. Susan just wants them to find her missing son, Jack. He is one of ‘The Disappeared’ which the title references. There are others in the tale to whom this epithet could be applied as well. The two P.I’s think – simple gig, easy money. Except of course it’s anything but. It uncoils like a ravenous dangerous snake around our heroines.

Minor characters, with names like Pants (love that moniker) and Brownie cross their path. I loved the grounded common sense of Aunt Edie. And the chase is on- everyone wants to find Jack- but why? A 17 year old mystery, involving Jack’s family, is intertwined with the current story, adding to the layers.

There are car and foot chases, abductions, break-ins, hand to hand fights, violence, drug taking but also there is courage, loyalty and love. The plot unspools filmically; you can visualise the story being enacted in front of you. I would love to see this as a TV series- maybe one day.

The ending is a surprise too, which isn’t always the case for thrillers. Ali Harper keeps the twists and turns a coming right upto the end. She never stops delivering. So no petering out here.

I would recommend this début thriller for anyone who enjoys the thriller genre, but with the added interest of a northern city backdrop and two female P.I’s who more than hold their own.

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I’ve posted this review on amazon and Goodreads and facebook.

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Article on Stories from Stone with photo of our merry writing group in today’s Bradford T&A…

How marvellous to be in the local paper today and such a long piece covering the launch. Pic is credited to registrar Andy Manning.

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/16300355.local-writers-launch-book-inspired-by-historic-undercliffe-cemetery/?ref=twtrec

The writers – Jill Lang, Irene Lofthouse, Alyson Faye, Gillian Wright, Christine Edmondson, Pam Line and Stuart Firth (missing from photo).

Drabbledark is up on amazon for pre-order…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Drabbledark%3Aan+anthology

Drabbledark: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles

I have a drabble in his antho – Prisoner– and I think it’s one of my best pieces so far.

Drabbledark: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles is an anthology of drabbles, stories of exactly 100 words in length. Within these pages are 101 tales of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction from 87 new and veteran voices of speculative fiction. This anthology combines both original fiction and reprints, with a majority of original fiction, celebrating the power of micro flash fiction in the form of dark plots and themes.

Editor: Eric S. Fomley

It’s out on July 20th but it’s available as an ebook for pre order now.

 

Drabbles and horror blogs…

I’ve been contacting a trio of horror sites/blogs and podcasters with a view to appearing as a guest blogger/interviewer/podcaster to talk about why I write horror and why I enjoy horror as a genre- I’ve already mentioned Gingernuts and my article hopefully will be up on the site in the next week or 2 but Horror Addicts and Horror Scribes have both said yes to articles/interviews 🙂 including one with horror tree co-editor Steph Ellis.

Horror Scribes are planning on using my article on Val Lewton in a lead up to a podcast on Women in Horror generally and the book my story appeared in, Women in Horror Annual 2. Here’s the link to the Lewton article:-

https://womeninhorrorblog.wordpress.com/?s=alyson+faye

Meanwhile I’ve just written a couple of new drabbles – 100 worders for submission to the Horror Tree. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile I’ve started reading Ali Harper’s thriller, The Disappeared– who will be visiting The Craft House in Saltaire on Tuesday 3 July to talk about her book and her writing career. Come join us, there are a few places remaining.

http://www.saltairecrafthouse.com/BookingRetrieve.aspx?ID=69798

The Disappeared: A gripping crime mystery full of twists and turns!

The opening paragraphs of the book are cracking by the way, really grab you- buy a copy for 99p (what else is such good value these days?) and find out what I mean.

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In other bits and bobs of news_

I will recording a poem ‘Tiger Watching‘ with my son’s techhy help to send to editor Gerald So as an audio file for his site https://poemsoncrime.blogspot.com/ for publication later in July. I’m rather excited about that.

 

Am on the long list for the Beacon Lit Fest flash fiction comp….

https://beaconlitblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/18/the-first-beaconlit-500-word-competition-longlist/#like-653

The First BeaconLit 500-word Competition Longlist

Following the results announcement of the final month’s entries, we are now in a position to share the longlist of 34 stories (in alphabetical order):

My story is:-

Knickerbocker Holiday (July)

writer/editor/blogger Morgen Bailey is the judge.

Piece of flash by Gillian- starring Charlie Chaplin and Mae West…

Here’s a short piece written by friend/creative writing student of mine Gillian Wright- which with my love of old movies went straight to my heart but it is witty and funny too.

I’ve titled it:

When Charlie Fell for Mae.

“….and Action!” shouted the Director through his white metallic megaphone.

The little man, in his tight jacket, baggy trousers, bowler hat and walking cane waddled on to the harbour film set. Looking straight ahead, he gave his moustache a wiggle and fell over the treasure chest.

“Cut!” The Director stood up from his chair and strode over towards Charlie Chaplin. “No, no, no. Not like that. It’s got to be more natural and I’ve got to get more laughs than just you falling over the trunk. I want you to disembark from the ship. After that, walk over to the covered treasure chest. Sit down on it and look as if you’re contemplating. Next, walk about a bit still thinking and THEN fall over the chest. That’ll get more laughs.”

“…and Action!”

Charlie Chaplin walked on, did his routine and in walked Mae West. She stood at the side watching, distracting Charlie with her low cut evening gown and fancy fur stole.

Charlie tripped over the trunk and fell with a thud.

“Cut! That’s great Charlie. It’s a wrap.”

Charlie stood and walked over to Mae.

“You look wonderful tonight.”

“I’m always wonderful at night. Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”

Charlie said nothing, but took her by the arm and walked her out of the studio.

Here are pics of the 2 stars:-

Image result for photo of mae west   Image result for photo of chaplin
 

Siren’s Call ezine and horror blogging…

I keep forgetting to post that I’ve got horror flash pieces in Siren’s Call ezines no’s 37 (Women In Horror issue) and the current one 38 available to download and read at:-

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/

You can find me on page 66 with 2 horror 100 worders:-

Drabbles by Alyson Faye
Devotion & Harvest
and here they are :- in full-
Drabbles
|
Alyson Faye
Devotion
The open public aspect of Longthorn Women’s Asylum smelt of rosemary and lavender.
Amelia recalled the scents from her nursing days.
There was however a secluded covert aspect —
rooms for the mad, the diseased and the rich heiresses stowed away by their avid husbands. It stank of urine and despair.
This was Amelia’s destination. She had an appointment with a demon in human form.
Secured in chains the demon gabbled gibberish when it saw Amelia, who produced a
silver backed brush and began to unravel the Medusa locks.
“Hush now,” Amelia soothed.
Her sister calmed, lying down in Amelia’s lap.
Hairdresser, Woman, Barber Supplies
image from pixabay
Harvest
Booze soaked, she stumbles, halting by the ironwork gate. Grabbing hold, she cuts her
palm and sloppily licks the blood. She’s been here before. Not at night though.
This time the garden door is ajar and he is there. Naked in his surprise; gleaming sweatily.
Glancing down she spots vermilion rose petals smearing his hands. She grabs one. Just to
smell its scent, to relive a fragrant moment. Her fingers recoil from the stickiness. Like melted wax she thinks. What is he burning?
Looking up, their eyes meet. His obsidian, faintly reptilian. Hers hopeful. His fingers flex.
He harvests her.
Her journey has just begun. Into his realm. This floral fantasia he has sown, hidden behind the vanilla painted walls.
She feels a flowering deep within her of joy. Of acceptance. Like she’s never known
before.
She will put down roots. Burrow deep into the loam. Bundled up under the lavish hibiscus, its florid petals will cover her damaged skull. Her fluids will leak into the earth. She will feed the soil and nourish it.
In time others will join her. A nest of bones amidst the roots.
Hisbiscus (courtesy of Pixabay)
Flower, Hisbiscus, Plant, Garden, Pretty
In other news, I ‘ve been beavering away writing an article, the first of two, for horror sites/blogs Gingernuts
-http://www.gingernutsof Gingernuts horror.com/index.html and the other will be for Horror Addicts
These pieces will be about my writing journey into horror, how I came to walk on the dark side and why I enjoy the books and films which I draw on for my fiction so much.
Expect references to Val Lewton, David Soul, Dr Who, Sarah Rayne and demonic possessed ventriloquists’ dummies.
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Poem accepted –
by editor Gerald So for his site https://poemsoncrime.blogspot.com/ has accepted my poem ‘Tiger Watching at Yorkshire Wildlife Park’ for publication the week of July 16th and there will be an audio recording to listen to as well.
I wrote this poem after visiting the wildlife park in Doncaster and watching the magnificent Amur tiger pace around his compound, with amber eyes in which nothing remotely human flickered. I watched from the metal walkway above, safe and awestruck. If you were down there with him, you wouldn’t be quite so awe-struck- I was very aware of being prey for this creature.

Horror stories- acceptances-

It’s been a tough few weeks or maybe months on the submission /rejection ratio front at chez Alyson’s – more rejections or silences- which probably amounts to a ‘no’ than any yes’s- however Coffin Bell Journal (God bless them) https://coffinbell.com/ accepted 2 pieces of mine, one is a myth based long prose poem and the other is a 1300 word short story- for their upcoming Issue 1.4 with the theme of Immortals– due in October 2018- this really perked me up.

I also submitted my 1920’s set story to writer/editor at the Horror Tree Steph Ellis- for the Infernal Clock’s upcoming anthology – DeadCades– it’s clocked in at a whopping (well for me) 6000 words- is set in Birmingham where I used to live and work, and is, I think, one of my strongest, creepiest, most entertaining stories and was loads of fun to write. Happily Steph emailed to say she really liked it, well ok she loved it. 🙂

http://infernalclock.blogspot.com/

Markets For Writers

I have been published on this 50 word story website,and I love the challenge of writing brief,and powerful. 100 word drabbles are hard enough, but I found writing 50 word stories more challenging. Another useful post off Esther Newton’s blog.

estherchiltonblog

I know a lot of you enjoy writing flash fiction. But how about bite size flash fiction? If you enjoy telling a story in only a few words, then take a look at the 50-Word Stories website. There are special requirements for submitting a story so do read their rules carefully. They don’t pay for each story published, but there is a small cash prize for the ‘Story of the Month’. 

To read the type of stories they publish, visit the website.

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writePhoto credit: pinterest.com

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Visual Verse- submit…

Reblogged from writer Patsy Collin’s fab blog-
Each month, Visual Verse offer an image as a prompt and invite writers to come up with a short story or poem in just one hour. (You start when you like and time yourself.) It’s probably more of a personal challenge than a competition against others, although as they say they’ll publish ‘up to 100 writers over the course of the month’ it seems reasonable to suppose that they’ll select the best pieces.

This seems to me like a fun thing to do. Can you spare an hour to have a go? If that’s too long, or you fancy a warm up, you can try this challenge – I’m giving you three minutes, starting from now, to write something prompted by this image. You can either post it below, or if you decide to keep working on it and submit it somewhere, just say that’s what you’re doing.

Here’s Patsy’s image prompt:-