Of course, there are so many top writers around at the moment that I couldn’t mention all of them.
THE BLOOD RED EXPERIMENT! A new magazine that serialises neo-giallo novellas by me, Richard Godwin, Tom Leins, Kevin Berg, Mark Cooper, Jack Bates and James Shaffer, brought together by the combined efforts of Jason ‘Pulp Metal Magazine’ Michel and Craig ‘Near to the Knuckle’ Douglas. My novella is Madonna of the Wasps (swiped that title, of course from Mr Hitchcock) which features an ancient knife, weird rituals and some art students.
PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?
I used to always; I’ve been so manic lately, jumping from one project to another that I never seem to settle on anything unless it’s something in the background like BBC Radio 3. But I have some concentrated writing time coming up and the soundtrack will be very folk horror oriented.
PDB: What makes you laugh?
You do [laughs]. Also lots of things. Georgette Heyer, Peter Cook, Kathy Burke. I introduced a friend to the Four Yorkshiremen sketch the other day and she was delighted.
PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?
Cheap Mexican food [the kind you can only get in L.A.] and gallons of tea.
PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Everywhere: I’d want a free pass to any hotel anywhere so I could mix it up and travel around and not have to ever clean or cook or do anything but idle and write.
PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?
Pfft. If I want to do something I make plans to do it. Life is short. Don’t assume there’ll be enough of it.
PDB: What’s on the cards?
Looks like The Tower. Better draw again… Actually I have an essay on grifters and Chaucer coming out in November. I am trying to draw together a collection of women’s travel writing which has had to be done in odd moments because for some reason I decided to do too much this semester despite promising myself I wouldn’t, so I’m an idiot.
PDB: Anything else?
Everybody should be reading RESPECTABLE HORROR in fact all Fox Spirit Books titles! I have a new fairy tale novel MANGLED coming out next year from them and I know that Mr Graham Wynd will have a novella + short stories called LOVE IS A GRIFT out sometime in 2018, too. Oh, and I don’t know when but at some point my comic novel HIRE IDIOTS. And probably other things that I’ve forgotten because I have a head like a sieve lately.
Bio: K. A. Laityis the award-winning author of How to Be Dull,White Rabbit, Dream Book, A Cut-Throat Business, Lush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, Chastity Flame, and Pelzmantel, as well as editor of Respectable Horror, Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and Drag Noir. She also writes historical fiction as Kit Marlowe and crime as Graham Wynd.
Alison Day was a mousy woman who had barely been scuffed by the wear and tear of life until the day she met Lulu, the effect of which was like lightning hitting a plane. The Autumn night draped itself over the city, and the moon bit into the sky as Alison rushed home from her usual Wednesday evening yoga class. She felt edgy and fumbled for her keys as she heard the click, click, click of high heels on the wet pavement. She turned. On the corner of the street, beneath a blinking street lamp, a woman was smoking a cigarette. Her silhouette seemed to appear and disappear like warm breath on a cold window pane.
The woman was tall and, like Alison, in her early thirties with wan looking skin, a slash of red lipstick across her full lips and her black hair cut into a Louise Brooks bob. She was wearing a red PVC raincoat and shiny black stiletto heels and Alison suddenly felt very dowdy with her green cagoule, Gap jeans and mousy, unkempt hair.
The woman slowly sauntered towards Alison-and in a muddy foreign accent, said:
‘Keep looking at people like that and you’ll be in for a good tongue lashing.’
And then she collapsed in heap at Alison’s’ feet.
* * *
‘Would you like a cup of tea?” said Alison, “I have …’
‘Something stronger, maybe?’ purred the woman as she sat up from the sofa.
Alison rummaged in a cupboard and found an unopened bottle of absinthe.
‘How about this?’ she said.
The woman smiled and lit a Gauloises cigarette.
‘My name is Lulu,’ she said, filling two shot glasses with absinthe. ‘Drink with me, eh?’
As the night hurtled on, Alison got drunk and in the process told Lulu her life story, such as it was. Lulu seemed fascinated by Alison’s idyllic, picture postcard childhood in Yorkshire and her job at Bermondsey Library. Lulu revealed little about herself, however, except that she had come from Bucharest shortly before the revolution and that she was married to a nightclub owner called Nicholas.
‘You know,’ said Alison ‘I hardly ever drink. My friends say that I can get drunk on the sniff of a barmaid’s apron.’ She giggled. ‘This is the first time I’ve drunk absinthe.’
‘They say it makes the heart grow fonder,’ said Lulu, licking the rim of the glass and holding Alison’s gaze.
At some point during the night Alison woke up in bed, in a cold sweat, with no recollection of getting there. Lulu, naked, was smoking and gazing out of the bedroom window. The tip of her cigarette glowed bright red and then faded to black.
In the morning, as slivers of sun sliced through the blinds, Alison awoke and saw that Lulu was gone. Memories of the night before fizzed like champagne bubbles as, on the bed, she saw a business card for Vamps Gentleman’s Club in Shoreditch. Written in red lipstick, was a phone number.
Vamps was suffocating in black leather and red velvet. It was cluttered with noisy groups of brash City Boys and semi-naked young women who wandered around with beer glasses full of money. The DJ played ‘Goldfinger’ as a statuesque blond, wearing only a pair of angels’ wings, crawled up and down a glistening pole.
Alison sat on a large black sofa next to Lulu, who was dressed in a red leather nun’s habit with a gold pentagram dangling from a chain around her neck. Tearing the label from her beer bottle she moved in close to hear Lulu speak.
‘I suppose marriage to Nicholas was a marriage of convenience.’ Lulu said. ‘I wanted to stay legally in England and he wanted…well, a pet. He promised me a job in a West End nightclub and I ended up here. But the worse thing is, he makes me have sex with other dancers. His business partners.’
She downed her drink in one.
‘Can’t you leave him?’ said Alison, red faced.
‘If I leave him, I’ll be deported and that will be that’, she said. Alison blanched.
As Autumn trudged on into Winter, Alison and Lulu’s meetings became more frequent and murderous thoughts hovered over them like a hawk ready to strike its prey until one night Lulu eventually said, ‘Okay. Let’s kill him.’
‘You see, ninety nine percent of the human race are just here to make up the numbers,’ said Nicholas, in a voice stained with nicotine and brimmed with brandy. He was an elegant, handsome man in his sixties. He indifferently smoked a large cigar, the smoke rings floating above his head like a halo or a crown of thorns.
‘They’re just cannon fodder. Don’t you agree?’
Alison couldn’t agree or disagree. She couldn’t say a thing and she couldn’t move.
The plan had been simple enough. She was to go to Vamps on New Years Eve and ask about work as dancer. When the place closed she’d accept Nicholas’s inevitable invitation to go to his office for a night cap with him and Lulu. They were to poison him and dump his body in the Thames along with the drunks who tottered into the river’s dank and dirty water at this time of year.
But after the first couple of drinks she realised that she was paralysed. In the oak and leather armchair she was like an insect trapped in amber. The clock struck twelve and the room was lit up by exploding fireworks. Lulu and Nicholas’ eyes glowed bright red and then faded to black.
‘Happy New Year, my sweet,’ said Lulu. ‘I hope you like your present.’
‘I’m sure I will, darling,’ said Nicholas, ‘I know how difficult it is to find fresh meat in these decadent times’. He chuckled and seemed to float from his chair.
As Nicholas sank his fangs deep into her neck, Alison felt pain greater than she had ever felt before. She wanted to cry, to scream, to tear herself apart but she could do nothing except listen to the sound of fireworks and Lulu’s cruel, cruel laughter.
(c) Paul D. Brazill
The search was invariably fruitless.
The path was cluttered with the debris of the past.
The parade of childhood humiliations always led him down blind alleys.
Religion and psychoanalysis failed.
Rationalism was but a damp squib.
Travel to foreign lands yielded nothing but more sores to scratch.
Satiation, indulgence, rather than healing his scars, only lacerated him more.
And then a chance encounter in a snow-smothered car park, as the night creaked into morning, brought a flash of anger.
The slash of a knife.
For a time.
Until the scars slowly returned.
And he killed again.
Another long hot summer had cast dark, elongated shadows that smothered The City’s pitch black secrets. As the sweltering, hazy days stretched out to snapping point, those secrets were jolted into the glare of light.
At times like these, being a private eye, especially a werewolf private eye, could take its toll. Which is why the womb of Duffy’s Bar was always so comforting.
“ The Professor’ss back,” I said to Duffy, who was clearing up the previous night’s debris.
I sipped a shot of Dark Valentine, rubbed my tired, red eyes. I ached for sleep.
I ached from the previous night’s prowl, too. I’d had a scuffle with Brother Cage, the leader of one of the many crackpot religions that were infecting The City. I’d managed to take out a few of his henchmen before ripping him to shreds, but they’d got in a few good shots themselves.
Duffy stopped mopping the beer and bloodstained floor. Leaned the mop against the bar.
“You sure?” he said. He scratched his acne-scarred face.
“Oh, yes. It’s him. Unless there’s a copycat killer. But according to Ivan, six corpses have been found with the brains scooped out. Presumably eaten by the killer,” I said.
Detective Ivan Walker was my former partner. Back in the days before I’d been afflicted by full moon fever.
“All rich old men between the ages of seventy-five and eighty?” said Duffy.
“Yep. They fit The Professor’s MO, alright. The only difference is that these guys had been ripped to shreds first.”
Duffy slammed a heavy fist against the side of the Wurlitzer jukebox. Stepped back behind the bar. Poured himself a shot of Dark Valentine.
Knocked it back. Poured another. A Julie London song about black coffee oozed through the room.
“How long is it since he went AWOL?” said Duffy, as he looked up at the plasma television screen that he’d recently installed in an attempt to bring in new customers.
An attempt that had pretty much failed.
Apart from me, the only other customer was a thick-set old man in a double-breasted pinstripe suit. He’d been nursing a pint of Guinness for over an hour and didn’t seem in any hurry to finish it. A typical Monday afternoon, then.
The flickering TV showed an old black and white Tarzan film that had been colourised. I growled in disapproval.
“The Prof hasn’t been seen for five years. Same time as The Brain Salad Murders stopped,” I said.
The press had given the murders a typically colourful name, as if they weren’t lurid enough. Murders were ten a penny in The City, of course, but these caused a stir like no other.
The fact that the victims were all powerful, rich, old blokes probably had a lot to do with that. Every one was a big shot. Bankers, judges, media moguls. Even Police Commissioner O’ Neil. Every cop in The City had been told to make it a priority. And let every other one of The City’s crime victims help themselves.
Professor Galimova – a nutjob that had been fired from The City University for “an undisclosed matter” – sent a letter to The City Gazette confessing to the crimes and saying that he was on a mission to harvest The City’s corrupt souls. But, shortly afterwards, the murders suddenly stopped and it was assumed that Galimova had been killed. Until now.
I rubbed my eyes again. Yawned.
The beast roared and shards and slivers of pain sliced through his flesh.
The slivers became a throb. And the throb faded to silence.
A stillness consumed him.
A calming darkness.
And the sea of sleep enfolded him.
Until the chill night, when bathed in the milk of the moon, he raged.
And he roared.
“Duffy, can I have the key to the back room? I’ll be canoodling with Morpheus any minute,” I said.
“Sure.” He handed me the big brass key.
Duffy’s spare room was Spartan, to say the least. A simple single bed. A table. A chair. And a bottle of Dark Valentine. I opened the bottle and took a swig, switched off the light and plonked down onto the bed.
I could hear an Al Green tune playing in the bar and was heading into the void when I heard a voice.
“Perhaps you would like a bedtime story, Detective Dalton.”
I wrenched my eyes open. Let them adjust to the dark.
Sat at the table was the old guy from the bar. He poured a shot of DV into a tumbler and sipped.
“My name is Professor Galimova. I believe that you are aware of my reputation?”
“Yeah, and you look kinda familiar,” I said, sitting up.
I held out my hand and he passed me the bottle of booze.
“Well, that’s nice to know. I’m sure you have infected many since your transformation. I assumed we’d all blurred into one.”
I took a swig of DV.
“Oh,” I said, twigging what the Prof was talking about.
“Yes, ‘oh’,” said The Professor, with a smirk.
“Six months ago, of course. I was about to harvest your old friend Ton Ton Philippe, in fact, when I was set upon by a wild beast. You.”
“So that’s why you stopped …”
“And now you’re back?”
“Indeed. I tried to cleanse myself of your disease, but to no avail. So I accepted that the affliction is, in fact, a gift and decided to return to The City to continue my work. But with an added strength when the moon is full, of course.”
“So, cheers to you, Detective Dalton,” he said. He finished off his drink.
“Na zdrowia,” I said.
I took another mouthful of DV.
The Professor grinned, stood and walked out the door.
So, the worst serial killer in The City’s history was back. Stronger and more powerful than ever. And I was responsible.
I shuffled my stiff body off the bed and prepared to follow Galimova, but then I thought of the particular demographic of The Professor’s victims.
The crème de la crème here in The City. They’d be sitting ducks for a werewolf serial killer, for sure.
And then I lay back down and went to sleep.
The City’s neon-drenched, sin-soaked streets and alleyways called to him.
The silver moon sang a seductive refrain.
And The Professor was again consumed with a hunger.
A hunger for the corrupt.
(c) Paul D. Brazill
Jack Andrelli is a private eye but he is far from being a knight in tarnished, let alone shining, armour.
Andrelli is a booze-sodden, big-mouthed, gambling addict with a death wish, who is haunted by the suicide of his teenage girlfriend and in hock to a gangster, whose goons would be all to happy to shut Andrelli’s smart mouth for good.
And then he meets a femme fatale who offers him a case that he thinks will solve all of his problems once and for all.
J J De Ceglie’s Drawing Dead is a whirlpool that drags you down into a delirious take on a classic private eye story, as told through the bleary eyes of a half-mad barfly.
Smart, funny and completely addictive, Drawing Dead is like staggering into a booze and piss stinking alleyway for a knee trembler and a mugging all at the same time. Yes. it’s that good!
Check out the interview, and the rest of the site, here.
‘A fantastic set, enjoyable enough on their own but collectively the sum is much greater than the individual parts’
‘Brazill has a way with words and, yeah, he uses them here wisely. The character building is solid in all his books, the locations are real enough to touch and smell, and the humor is omnipresent. This man’s books are laugh-aloud hilarious simply because Brazill is a wickedly smart humorous writer who never misses a trick. Great stuff. Read it. Spread it. Enjoy the infection.’