Interview with Ruschelle Dillon author of The Stain…

The Stain by [Ruschelle Dillon]

Great cover! Love it- and it’s a good intro to what’s happening within the pages of this dark horror novella.

I’ve ‘known’ Ruschelle online as a fellow ‘women in horror‘ writer for a few years now, through our joint work for and we have appeared in these two anthologies together – see images below- both available to buy on amazon.

as well, I think, we have work in anthologies put together by editors Stuart Conover and Steph Ellis over at the Horror Tree – Trembling with Fear.

DeadCades: The Infernal Decimation Kindle EditionWomen in Horror Annual 2 (WHA) Kindle Edition

So when Ruschelle’s latest novella came out from indie horror press Black Bed Sheets I was keen to grab a review copy.

Interview first up:-

Hi Ruschelle, welcome to my blog. First question coming up:-

How long have you been writing? And writing dark fiction?

I’ve been writing since I was in first or second grade, penning knock offs of stories I read. I’ve been writing dark fiction just as long. My favorite books, then and now were of the ghosty, beasty type. While other girls were reading ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books or ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’, I was reading books on Witchcraft, Bigfoot and Mythology. It could be one of the reasons why I wasn’t popular… hummm.

Can you tell us something about the gestation and inspiration behind your latest horror novella The Stain?

Basements can be scary. And basements with scary histories can be scarier. One in particular is in Gettysburg Pennsylvania- it’s the Farnsworth House Inn. Gettysburg was the site of a hellacious battle during the Civil War in 1863. The Inn was a makeshift hospital for the wounded, and there were many wounded. The blood soaked into the house and into the ground. Today, there is still a very active paranormal presence at The Farnsworth and throughout Gettysburg. As a Pennsylvania resident and Gettysburg haunt enthusiast, Farnsworth and the surrounding area was an inspiration.

The story was born of bloodshed, a prolific stain…

How long did it take you to write? And then rewrite?

I started writing The Stain in 2014… I think. It was one of those stories that I started and stopped a crapload of times. I would work on it furiously, but something else would take precedent, dropping further in my Word documents. But it always resurfaced. It finally was finished in 2018 and edited in 2019.

I particularly enjoyed your depiction of the teenage girl, Livy, in the novella. Have you written children/teen characters before? How hard/easy do you find them to write?

Livy was my second children’s character. My first was a children’s story I wrote, (there was a monster in it, of course) and sent it off for a professional to critique. Well, they hammered the shit out of the story and the beating tore at my writing psyche. I refrained from writing for a few years because of it. But after a few years of licking my bloody wounds, I knew I was a decent writer who just needed guidance. It was then, through the creepy Craigslist, I met my mentor and hairiest cheerleader, John Monaco and created ‘Bone Sai’. From there, with his help I found my voice.

Okay, now back to writing children, (sorry about the tangent) after a few other short stories I wrote what would become ‘The Stain’. I have degrees in Education and taught kids, aaaand since I’m still a big kid myself, writing dialogue and actions for children’s characters isn’t too difficult. I try and think of how I was at a certain age. Even though this generation is more tech savvy than my generation, kids are still kids.

Are you a planner or a pantser in your writing?

I almost always create an outline before starting a story. But more often than not, the idea morphs and some of the ideas I outlined no longer work or need to be tweaked. So I retool the outline adding the new bits. For flash pieces I may not create a traditional outline. I’ll just start writing my initial thoughts, crafting an intro and as I sit there waiting for divine inspiration to slap me in the face, I’ll type little notes on the bottom of the page of random ideas I might want to incorporate.

Do you write :- on a computer? By hand? Coffee or tea? Or booze? Night owl or lark? In the garden or the study?

I write on my phone, laptop or tablet. I do scribble down ideas when I get them… before I fall asleep. Always… before I fall asleep. I don’t ritually eat or drink when I write. Although, If I’m writing in the morning, I will be having coffee. I wish booze was my friend when writing but it either makes me sleepy or do something I shouldn’t be doing, like shaving stray Yeti. Don’t ask… And where do I write? Anywhere it’s quiet. No noise, no music, nothing to distract me. Hell, I’m writing this as I marinate in the bathtub. Scrubbing the kibbles n bits can wait!

What scares you?

People. And they’re getting scarier by the minute. Oh and Trump getting a second term. Terrifies the shit out of me.

Name 3 of your fave horror writers

The usual, early King, McCammon, Straub but I’m discovering so many great indie authors right now. Steph Ellis, Theresa Derwin, Kev Harrison, Patrick James Ryan, Steve Dillon (no relation. Hi Cuz! Lol), Noel Osualdini, Nikki Nelson-Hicks and this chick named Alyson Rhodes. (writing as Alyson Faye- hey thanks Ruschelle for the compliment) Great stuff! And so many others I’ve been lucky enough to read.

Thank you so much for the interview!


Now – drumroll- here’s a review of The Stain:-

The Stain by Ruschelle Dillon  Review by Alyson Faye

Publisher: Black Bed Sheet Books

Publication date :- 16 May 2020

Paperback: 168 pages (and ebook)

The blurb was enticing :- a family move into a house, the apparently oh-so-normal mum and dad, (Marc and Claire) and their two kids. They are hoping to build a more solid family base in this old old red brick, with a basement, than their past string of short term rentals provided.

The story is told in shortish, pacy chapters which crack along and are heavy on dialogue. This is an accessible read and one easy to get into.

Of course the very first chapter which opens with the words ‘I was born of bloodshed’ tips us off that all will not be a sunny walk in the park. There is something else or someone else sharing the house, living in the basement, whose history and evil heart are entwined with the foundations. And there is a lot of history, none of it good, attached to this particular house.

The familial relationships are evocatively and swiftly established, with Olivia (Livy- the teen) being particular likeable, shrewd, feisty and she is the one who first realises there is something not quite right about the shadows in the basement.

Claire is a doting mum, to Livy and her toddler son, three-year-old Jasper, and Marc, though an absentee working away dad, also seems a doting family man. Or is he quite what he seems?

Every few chapters Dillon inserts a flashback piece, revealing another piece of The Stain’s history- the first time this happened it did throw me off, as it took me away from the current day narrative, but I quickly adjusted to it and the information does give perspective to what’s lurking in the bowels of the house or as Dillon also calls it the ‘root cellar’ and never have I know anything good happen in a fictional ‘root cellar’.

A third of the way in, there is a switch in the way we perceive, the dad, Marc and the layers of his marriage to Claire deepen and darken. I won’t give away more than that, but it’s a fun ride.

Throw in the possible paedo neighbour, who lurks on the sidelines and uncle Travis, a work colleague who hangs around the family, and the human drama is ramping up. Meanwhile Livy is becoming increasingly sucked into the web of tricks and games the inhabitant in the basement is playing.

There is a terrible tragedy which I didn’t see coming and took my breath away, and Dillon successfully points the finger away from the real culprit till the end. She plays with our assumptions very effectively throughout the book.

The ending has a few more contortions to put the reader through, before the final devastating paragraphs. It certainly surprised me which way Dillon took the narrative – I did not see it coming.

This is an entertaining, fast read, which takes you on a rollercoaster ride – a blend of horror and thriller with some family drama thrown in. It’s rather different from Dillon’s previous fiction and not what I was expecting to read, but that’s not an issue, just a comment.

The cover is pretty cool too.

4/5 stars.

New anthology with a story in of mine is out tomorrow on kindle…Horror for Hire


Here’s the universal link:-   First shift is…

In today’s corporate culture, it’s not uncommon to work ourselves to death. But all the wages of sin ultimately can’t save us from the nightmarish jobs that we handle every day. But what if those meetings and paperwork became something even more sinister? What if the job you took became a death sentence? Or a trip to the afterlife? What if you made a deal with the devil himself to rise the corporate ladder? You’ll be spending every 15 minute break you have to dive into these frightening tales of this first volume that make even the most boring Monday meetings seem like paradise.

From Emerald Bay Books – my story is End of the Month, End of the Line.

Here is my amazon author’s page link  -


Next up on my blog- I’ve just finished reading Ruschelle Dillon’s latest horror novella, The Stain, 

and next up on my blog will be a review and a mini q&a with Ruschelle.



Won a comp today- Your Cat magazine piece…Indigomania poetry mag…Siren’s Call issue 50…

Your Cat magazine ran a competition asking for memories of your first cat in 500 words- I entered and today I heard my piece is published in the June issue of the mag and I have won a prize for it.

Thank you to writer/blogger for flagging up this comp on her excellent writing blog.

I attached pics of our first cat- Taz- adopted from RSPCA Birmingham in 2001 – he lived to 15 years old and moved with us upto West Yorkshire.

Here is the dude himself- Taz- a Brummie street cat with lots of attitude and personality. He used to walk with me into the village when I pushed my son in his stroller.


Today we still have 3 cats – 3 females, all rescues – Tango, Gertie and Noelle.

And of course we have Roxy:-

Roxy 6 solo in field May 2020

our 3 year old Borador.


I have a poem out in this poetry anthology- Indigomania which is now available as an ebook from amazon

My poem is called Blue Kisses.


and I’ve had an acceptance for a short story, fantasy one, from Siren’s Call issue 50.

who have been very supportive of my writing over the last year or two- time flies.





Amanda Huggins

I know Amanda Huggins through writers’ networking and FB and have interviewed her on this blog in the past and read/reviewed her excellent fiction- her latest short story collection is due out later in May and I will be posting a review of it – here is a 100 word piece inspired by lockdown.
Clever, bittersweet and I could relate to it.

Dark Divinations

I’ve read/reviewed this Victorian set anthology in which Horror Tree’s Stephanie Ellis has a story, and really enjoyed it.

Stephanie Ellis

Dark Divinations 3dThis lovely anthology, Dark Divinations, was published recently and contains my story, Romany Rose. If you wonder why I chose the fortune teller automaton, it was inspired by the Milestones museum in Hampshire which contained a real Penny Arcade with a number of machines of differing ages. Graveyards, haunted houses, guillotines and creepy dolls were all there. Supplied with real old pennies, I worked my way around them all. This was the fortune teller in the arcade:

Milestones Madam Zasha fortune teller

A little research revealed such things were around in the Victorian era – I knew the other machines existed but hadn’t been so sure about this one – and once I knew it fitted the time frame, I was away. Romany Rose was born, read an extract below. Press Presents: 

Dark Divinations edited by Naching T. Kassa

Book Trailer:

It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in…

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Sneak preview – exclusive and only out today of the cover of the latest high octane thriller from J P Delaney…

Playing Nice by JP Delaney cover

Publication day 6 August- here’s the blurb:-

Pete Riley answers the door one morning to a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s two-year-old, Theo, isn’t Pete’s real son – their babies got mixed up at birth.

The two families – Pete, his partner Maddie, and Miles and his wife Lucy – agree that, rather than swap the boys back, they’ll try to find a more flexible way to share their children’s lives. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an investigation that unearths disturbing questions about just what happened the day the babies were switched.

And when Theo is thrown out of nursery for hitting other children, Maddie and Pete have to ask themselves: how far do they want this arrangement to go? What secrets lie hidden behind the Lamberts’ smart front door? How much can they trust the real parents of their child – or even each other?

An addictive psychological thriller, perfect for fans of The Silent Patient and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door.

Follow on twitter #PlayingNice

I’ve read all of Delaney’s thrillers and can highly recommend his exciting, twisty gripping thrillers.

The Perfect Wife: The unique and explosive new thriller from the globally bestselling author of The Girl Before Kindle EditionThe Girl Before: The gripping global bestseller Kindle EditionBelieve Me: The twisty and addictive follow-up to the bestselling The Girl Before Kindle Edition


Got a drabble up on the Horror Tree today and a review for In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland-

5/5 stars to this novel from Silver Shamrock publishers.

In The Scrape

My drabble is called Marbles- which sounds like it would be about an innocent kiddy’s game doesn’t it? Well it’s not…

Here’s the opener-


As a kid marbles had been Josiah’s favourite game. His collection of the glass multicoloured spheres was substantial and the envy of all his classmates….



I’ve also just returned the edits on my story, End of the Month, End of the Line to Emerald Bay Books Horror for Hire Shift 1 which is due out at the end of May.

What I’m reading and watching during lockdown-

I have two American authoresses whose work I always feast on and reread-currently I am reading Jennifer McMahon’s latest supernatural novel The Invited;

I’ve read all of McMahon’s back catalogue and she is brilliant- interlacing past and present timelines, tragedies which resonate in the current day, characters who are haunted or have secrets.

The Invited: A Novel

Carol Goodman is the other author whose fiction I return to – her latest The Sea of Lost Girls I read earlier The Sea of Lost Girls: A Novel this month but I’m going back to some of her earlier works now.

On Prime we’re watching a 2006 show The Lost Room which is a mix of magic, fantasy, time travel, and involves 100 ordinary objects, like a comb, which all have one special power. eg freeze time for 10 seconds in the case of the comb.

It’s a mix of Y.A. and adult, witty and a young Elle Fanning appears in it.

It’s only 6 episodes so it doesn’t outstay its welcome.


The Lost Room Poster

Also on Prime, we loved Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom as the Victorian detective in a world where humans, fae and Pucks have to rub alongside each other. Oh no I thought at first, it’s full of fairy stuff and I won’t like it- 8 episodes in I was gripped.

Kudos to the set designers and costumiers and camera team for the effects they create – the look of the show, as well as the story matter hugely.

There is conflict, love, tragedy, a mystery with roots in the past, a whole fantasy magic world created believably and two good looking leads.

I did feel Bloom in his voice and manner was channelling Sean Pertwee- close your eyes and they sound identical but that’s no bad thing either.

Carnival Row Poster


Interview with British Horror writer – Kev HARRISON

Here’s a reblogged interview with Kev Harrison, author of the brilliantly creepy novella, The Balance, from fellow horror writer Janine Pipe’s great blog.

Janine's Ghost Stories

Hi Kev and a very warm welcome to the blog.I am very interested to find out more about your writing influences and hear about your new novella, The Balance.

Firstly, please tell me a little about yourself.

Hi Janine, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I’m a forty-year-old writer from the UK, living on the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal. I’m an English Language Teacher for my day job (actually, more of a night job!) and writer of horror and dark fiction. I also write occasional articles for This is Horror ( and manage their news and 5 must read horror articles, weekly.

Thank you.

Now for some questions.

Q1. When did you first start writing and why horror?

I have been writing horror and other flavours of dark fiction in a serious way since about the end of 2016. I’d always seen myself as…

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My review of Paul Kane’s Blood Red Sky is up today on the Horror Tree-

Blood Red Sky by [Paul Kane]

Published by indie Silver Shamrock press.

Here’s the blurb:-

Title: Blood Red Sky
Author: Paul Kane
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Silver Shamrock Publishing
Release Date: 9th March, 2020


The world has changed. Ever since the night that sky, the blood red sky, appeared, and the adults were wiped out by what some of those who remain call the Trolls. Huge, hulking beasts that hunt the young survivors. One such group have tried to make a life for themselves, tried to create another family after losing their original ones—whilst at the same time planning a way to defeat the creatures who roam this new landscape. But that’s all about to change as well, when a couple of newcomers appear. Strangers who have their own story to tell… The latest post-apocalyptic tale from Paul Kane, the #1 bestselling and award-winning author of the Hooded Man novels, Pain Cages, Lunar, Before, The Rot, and Sherlock Homes and the Servants of Hell, this is a compelling coming of age novella unlike anything you’ve ever read.