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WILLIAM MEIKLE

Genre Fiction

Newfoundland and Me

Newfoundland is worming its way more and more into my soul, and out again in my writing.

When I started writing in the ’90s in Scotland most of my stories were set either there, or in London where I spent the ’80s. I appear to need to be tied to a sense of place for work to come easily. With Newfoundland, the ties fell into place naturally.

We came over on holiday in 2005, primarily on a whale watching trip to Trinity, and fell in love immediately with the area. There is much here that reminds me of home, in both the maritime landscape, and the warmth of the people, and although they’re mostly of Irish descent around here, I felt an immediate kinship with their stories of ekeing a living out of a harsh sea, as it’s something my own family have much experience of on the opposite side of the same ocean.

When my IT job in Edinburgh went tits-up in 2007, I’d had just about enough of working for the man after 25 years of wearing a suit and commuting into busy cities, having worked in London, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. I talked to my wife, Sue, about the possibility of downsizing totally, and it was just when I was starting to get some serious pro-level story sales. We knew from our holiday that we could get a nice house with a great view dirt cheap (compared to Scottish prices ) over here on The Rock. So we sold up in Scotland, whacked some money in the bank, bought a house on the shore here, and I tried writing full time. I’ve not starved us yet, more than ten years down the line.

We chose Catalina, a fishing town up on the Bonavista Peninsula. It’s a long way from any kind of night life, bookshops or cinemas, but it’s not quite in the middle of nowhere. We have roads, a post office, a supermarket and some takeaway places. We even have running water and electricity. The people are very friendly, as I said earlier, mostly of Irish descent around here, and it’s lovely and quiet, which suits me just fine.

The local accent here is very strong, and strange on the ear at first, but I’ve come to understand most of the people well enough, although there are still a few old timers in the town who leave me completely baffled, and we communicate mainly by smiles, hand-gestures, and nods of the head.

We have an open view across a wide bay, the opening of which is out onto the Atlantic, we have whales out there, moose and bear in the hills, bald eagles overhead and squirrels in the garden, as well as the ever shifting moods of the bay itself. It’s not a bad way to live.

It also seems to suit my writing. As I said earlier, the ties to the landscape fell into place quickly. The third Derek Adams book, THE SKIN GAME was stalled in its opening act back in Scotland and I hadn’t been able to get past a blockage, but that first winter after we got here I realised that if I could come to Newfoundland, then Derek, The Midnight Eye and protagonist, could come here too. After that the rest of that one fell quickly into place and a pack of Scottish werewolves howled at the moon under a Newfoundland sky.

After that I wrote a handful of short stories set on The Rock, testing the waters as I let the place seep into my soul. It’s got its hooks deep in me now. My home will always be Scotland, but The Rock has my heart and soul on loan in the meantime.

Since those early short stories I’ve been exploring various parts of the island and its culture in my novels. THE DUNFIELD TERROR takes place around Trinity, where I spent my first year here working on a whale tour boat, FUNGOID takes place in the island capital St. Johns, and also up this peninsula where I live while SONGS OF DREAMING GODS is set in a corner townhouse in St. John’s again. THE BOATHOUSE is set here in our home port of Catalina, and my latest, THE GREEN AND THE BLACK, is set in a derelict Victorian mining colony in the island’s interior.

There will be more, as I haven’t covered the whole glorious gamut of this place yet.

And I still need to get a moose in somewhere.

If you’re at all intrigued by any of this, check out the books I’ve mentioned. You never know, you might fall in love with the place too.

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October Newsletter

New book release today and general writing news in the newsletter this month.

My latest book, THE GREEN AND THE BLACK launches today. Before I go on, I’d like to ask a favor. If you could spare a moment, head on over to my Twitter and retweet the pinned tweet at the top, please? The link will take you directly there –> HERE IT IS

The more eyes on my announcement of the book, the better it will be for me, and Twitter gets me the best bang for no bucks. And you’ll make a pal for life. I’m loyal, like a labrador puppy.

THE GREEN AND THE BLACK is a Newfoundland based novel in paperback and ebook from Crossroad Press.

A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

In this one you’ll meet some Irishmen, some archaeologists, a fair bit of booze, some mannequins, a song, two mineshafts, hospitals, the wee folk, cigarettes, a lot of foliage and more booze.

You could call this folk horror, dark fiction, weird fiction, or dark fantasy. But at its heart it’s a horror story and it deals with some of my own fears, particularly that of dark, enclosed, spaces, and the perils of drinking too much.

Here’s some links with more background on where THE GREEN AND THE BLACK came from.

As ever, if you buy it and read it, a wee review anywhere of your choosing is always appreciated, on this, or any of my books.


In other news, I recently sold my 4th CARNACKI collection, THE KEYS TO THE DOOR and Other Stories, to Dark Regions Press for publication in paperback and ebook. This means that I have now written 50 of my CARNACKI tales, 48 collected in four volumes, and the two CHALLENGER / CARNACKI crossovers in the Challenger collection. 50 seems like a good point to stop for a breath. Ten years ago I hadn’t even written one of the old lad’s stories, and I think both of us need a rest for a few months at least.

I’m currently working on OPERATION: LOCH NESS, #5 in my S-Squad series. The first 4 are selling well for me, and there is an audiobook of INFESTATION coming soon. SEVERED PRESS seem happy for me to keep on keeping on with the Scottish squaddies adventures, and I’m happy to oblige for a while.

My anthology appearances page at my website currently as of writing shows I’ve had 99 short stories in anthologies. #100 should be along some time very soon. I might need to have a centennial party.


Old Stories, New words

THE GREEN AND THE BLACK was originally going to be about Kobolds, the goblinesque things that knock in coal mines.

Goblins in the deep places have haunted my dreams since a first read of THE HOBBIT, way back in 1968, and I’ve long wanted to do a modern times novel with them at the center of things. I started one a while back, but that fizzled out and ended up as a story in Dark Melodies. And similarly, when I got to the point in THE GREEN AND THE BLACK for the reveal, there was something else behind the curtain.

The wee folk who turn up drinking and singing in the mines and the camp are close cousins to goblins of course, but give off the appearance of being something more jolly, at first glance at least.

I dredged these ones up out of some old Scottish tales originally, of people being trapped in fairyland after overindulging in booze and song and dance at the wee folks’ party.

And then things took an even darker turn, when I realized what song it was they were always singing in my story. I have my auld grannie to thank for all the snippets of folk songs, lullabyes, show tunes and hymns that provide me with regular earworms. One of those is prominent throughout THE GREEN AND THE BLACK.

The dolls of stick, leaf and branch that became a motif throughout likewise came from old stories from home. Originally, they were going to be scarecrows, with goblins inside, but they too took another turn, when I realized the wood and leaf was still alive, still capable of taking root, and growing.

Some of my family did spells as coal miners, back in the auld country, and their tales too found their way in into the mix, of friendship and bonds, of dark places and sudden deaths.

Mix all of that in with some of my archaeology experience and you can see that THE GREEN AND THE BLACK came from a soup of influences from a lifetime of songs and stories.

I said what I wanted to say, and got out before I dredged up anything more to complicate things further.

You can order the ebook, or buy the paperback now on Amazon here –> https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H6JTYTS

On drinking

I like a drink.

I’ve liked a drink for about 45 years now. People keep telling me it’ll kill me, but at this stage, if it’s drink that gets me now, I’ll consider it a win.

It started back in late ’73 and my first foray at 15 going on 16 to one of the local discos. Beer was 8p a pint, spirits 10p a shot and a packet of ten Embassy Regal 12p. I took to the beer first, fags later, and spirits a wee bit later after that, but by the time I went to University in late 1975 the taste for beer in particular was well developed.

While in Glasgow I discovered hand-pumped real ale, and that became a love that’s stayed with me though University, then 10 years in London, then eventually back to Scotland and a growing small brewery / real ale pub culture that kept me happy for years before I came to Newfoundland, where the search for decent ale in a small fishing town is a bit more challenging.

There’s an old saying, I only drink to be social. Not quite true, but it’s hard to beat banter with old pals around a table in an old bar with decent beer and food on offer.

Alongside the beer during University days I also discovered single malt Scotch. I’m not an aficionado, but I know what I like, and I like it a lot. I took to it eagerly.

By the time I was around 30, back in the mid to late ’80s in London I was mostly working and mostly drunk, a heady combination of good beer, good whisky, Camel filters, curries and Chinese takeaways.

Sue rescued me from incipient alcoholism back then and nowadays I still like a drink, but it’s under control and even diminishing as I get older and try to avoid hangovers.

All of that has come out in several of my books and stories, Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye in particular being a bit of a Mary-Sue character for my love of booze, Chandler and Glasgow.

And it came out again in my newest work, THE GREEN AND THE BLACK, where you’ll meet a lad who doesn’t know that he likes a drink until he has one that transports him, and a man who knows he likes cigarettes a bit too much, but can’t quit the smoke without a push.

In THE GREEN AND THE BLACK you’ll also find Newfoundland and a lot of Irishmen, many of whom, like the Scots, enjoy a few pints, a wee dram, and a song. There’s also archaeologists, cabins in the woods, derelict mineshafts, singing, and drinking in dark places, where the green meets the black.

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Some musings about the S-Squad

The S-Squad books are me having fun.

The S doesn’t really stand for anything apart from the fact that they’re Sweary, Scottish, and Squaddies. Probably not a good idea to get Sir Sean Connery to do the narration.

In these I’ve lightened my touch, and gone for all out, balls to the wall, plot and adventure. They’re pulpy, in the old sense of the word, irreverent, and more than a wee bit sweary. I’m also enjoying the hell out of writing them.

They’re definitely creature feature homages at their basic level, with added influences ranging from ALIENS, PREDATOR, DOG SOLDIERS and any number of Alistair MacLean books and movies. They’re also in a voice that I am able to drop into naturally, that slightly sarcastic Scots idiom I grew up with. Not having to worry too much about whether the dialogue is natural frees me up to write, and these come at me fast and furious. I’ve written four in the past 18 months, and the next one should be done well before Christmas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have few pretensions. I’m not a literary writer. I don’t spend days musing over le mot juste. I just get on and tell the story to the best of my ability. I tell a lot of stories. That has led to me being called a hack in some quarters, but if a hack is someone who values storytelling, then I suppose that’s what I am. I’m making a definite choice to write mainly at the pulpy end of the market, populating my stories with monsters, myths, ghosts, men who like a drink and a smoke, and more monsters. People who like this sort of thing like it, and the sales of these books are proving to me that there is a definite audience out there for it. So fuck anybody who dismisses it as hackwork. This is who I am, and I wont be apologizing for it.

Now that that’s out of the way… 🙂

I hope to be able to be pitching and selling new ideas for these guys to Severed Press over the next few years.

OPERATION: AMAZON recently came out, I’m working on OPERATION: LOCH NESS, and I have sketchy ideas already for OPERATION: INNSMOUTH, OPERATION: ROCKIES, OPERATION: UR and OPERATION: MONGOLIA, among others.

I’ll be at this for a while I hope, something to look forward to as I march into my seventh decade on the planet, dragging my history behind me as inspiration.

I’d love for you to join me on the journey.

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OPERATION AMAZON LAUNCHES

New today: OPERATION: AMAZON follows the survivors of the Scottish Special Forces squad from INFESTATION, OPERATION: ANTARCTICA and OPERATION: SIBERIA, to the jungles of Amazonia and to the defence of a British mining operation that has hit trouble. Snake trouble.

Click on the image for details and buying links, or go straight to Amazon here .

 

The members of S-Squad are looking for a break from their run of cold climate travails. So when a seemingly simple mssion in Amazonia comes their way, they are looking forward to some welcome warmth.

What they get is oppresive heat, biting insects, and a dredging operation on the river with a snake problem.

A big snake problem.

Soon they are in a fight for survival. The old snake gods of the river know the waterways much better than our Scottish squaddies. Are their wits, and bonds of comradeship enough to see them through?

 


 

You’d be doing me a favor if you follow me at Amazon and Bookbub

You’ll mostly find me online at
Facebook and Twitter. Mostly

 

My Scottish Fiction

Got asked a couple of times yesterday about my Scottish fiction, so here’s the gen.

A lot of my work, long and short form, has been set in Scotland, and much of it uses the history and folklore. There’s just something about the misty landscapes and old buildings that speaks straight to my soul. Bloody Celts… we get all sentimental at the least wee thing.

I grew up on the West Coast of Scotland in an environment where the supernatural was almost commonplace.

My grannie certainly had a touch of ‘the sight’, always knowing when someone in the family was in trouble. There are numerous stories told of family members meeting other, long dead, family in their dreams, and I myself have had more than a few encounters with dead family, plus meetings with what I can only class as residents of faerie. I have had several precognitive dreams, one of which saved me from a potentially fatal car crash.

So it’s no surprise the landscape and the folklore and the general high weirdness of my homeland come out in my writing. So far I’ve set novels and novellas over a broad swathe of the country

  • Glasgow – THE AMULET, THE SIRENS, THE SKIN GAME, DEAL OR NO DEAL, THE JOB
  • Edinburgh – THE EXILED, PENTACLE, THE CONCORDANCES OF THE RED SERPENT
  • Skye – TORMENTOR, THE SIRENS
  • Inner Hebrides / Oban area – RAMSKULL
  • Fife / Falkland – THE CONCORDANCES OF THE RED SERPENT
  • Outer Hebrides – ISLAND LIFE
  • North Ayrshire – ELDREN
  • Borders / Hadrian’s Wall – THE WATCHERS TRILOGY
  • Highlands – THE HOUSE ON THE MOOR
  • St. Andrews – THE ROAD HOLE BUNKER MYSTERY

…and historically as well as geographically, in many short stories, too numerous to mention, with pastiches from the likes of Stevenson, Doyle and Mrs Oliphant in the Ghost Club collection, along with stories for Carnacki, Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger, Derek Adams, Augustus Seton, Alexander Seton and many more.

As ever, details of all the books on my website. Over there ==> williammeikle.com

I have a deep love of old places, in particular menhirs and stone circles, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling the UK and Europe just to visit archaeological remains. I also love what is widely known as ‘weird shit’. I’ve spent far too much time surfing and reading Fortean, paranormal and cryptozoological websites. The cryptozoological stuff especially fascinates me, and provides a direct stimulus for a lot of my fiction.

I’ve also been influenced by many Scottish writers. Stevenson in particular is a big influence. He is a master of plotting, and of putting innocents into situations far out of their usual comfort zones while still maintaining a grounding in their previous, calmer, reality. His way with a loveable rogue in Treasure Island and Kidnapped in particular is also a big influence. Other Scottish writers who have influenced me include John Buchan, Iain Banks and, more in my youth than now, Alistair MacLean and Nigel Tranter. From them I learned how to use the scope of both the Scottish landscape and its history while still keeping the characters alive.

But I think it’s the people that influence me most. Everybody in Scotland’s got stories to tell, and once you get them going, you can’t stop them. I love chatting to people, usually in pubs, and finding out the weird shit they’ve experienced. My Glasgow PI, Derek Adams is mainly based on a bloke I met years ago in a bar in Partick, and quite a few of the characters that turn up and talk too much in my books can be found in real life in bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

Although I now live in Newfoundland, Scotland is embedded in my heart and soul and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I write a lot of material set over here too now, but the Scottish stories will continue. Always.

The next in the pipeline is another Derek Adams novella, FARSIDE, coming soon in the Occult Detective Quarterly Presents anthology, and Derek is once again tramping the streets of Glasgow, in a case that brings together some threads from my recent writings, in the SIGILS AND TOTEMS myths, the Concordances of the Red Serpent, and the Seton family history.

 

Musings of an older writer

Been musing here and there on social media about being an older writer. Some of it is ‘all you kids get off my lawn’ stuff, some of it is nostalgia for a different, less frantic time, but mostly, I’m just getting old.

My needs from my writing have changed. When I started, all I wanted was somebody to read it. That bit’s still the same, but now, having had some small measure of success, I have books on the shelves I can look at in my dotage and remember, ‘I did that.’

I’ve never quite reached where I wanted to be of course, but multiple stories in things like Nature Futures and The Mammoth Books of… series,  books with the likes of Dark Regions Press and DarkFuse et al , and passing ten years as a full time writer, would have been deemed a spectacular success for the younger me, so I shall try to think like him a bit more often as time goes on.

I’m also having a bit of a late career success with the Severed Press books, which is nice, and I can see me writing a few more creature features as my sixties roll on. That, and a few short stories will see me through the next few years.

I’m definitely slowing down though, and whether or not I come to a complete halt on the writing remains to be seen.

The ideas bank is running a bit empty. I had plans for a whole cycle of Sigils and Totems works, as I thought I’d hit gold with that idea, but so far the novels and novellas haven’t sparked with many folks. That dented my confidence quite a bit these past few months, but I think I”m slowly coming out of it. Time will tell.

The last time I felt like this was back in 2007, when I didn’t write at all for six months and almost quit entirely. But if I’d done that then, I wouldn’t have had any of those sales I mentioned up top there — almost all of my professional scale success has come after 2010. So I’ll never say never.

But… and it’s a big but… motivating myself at 60 is a different beast from motivating myself at 50. That’s just a fact of life.

Brian Keene mentioned something in his newletter this week that resonated, about finding contentment where we can.

I’ve found a measure of it by being here on the shore in Eastern Newfoundland, doing what I want to do, writing full time and getting old with the one I love. The ups and downs of a writing life makes me cranky though.

I wonder if I’d be be less cranky without it?

I suspect not.

 

 

 

My year in writing so far

Time for stock checking…

Published in 2018

  • THE BOATHOUSE – a short novel in my Sigils and Totems series from Crossroad Press
  • OPERATION: ANTARCTICA – the 2nd S-Squad book from Severed Press
  •  OPERATION: SIBERIA – the 3rd S-Squad book from Severed Press

Coming up from me in the autumn

  • THE GREEN AND THE BLACK – A Newfoundland horror novel from Crossroad Press

On submission

  • THE KEYS TO THE DOOR – a fourth CARNACKI collection

Work In Progress

  • AISHA (Working title) – a historical fantasy trilogy written with Steve Savile that’s coming along nicely
  • OPERATION: AMAZON – a 4th S-Squad book, about 20% done.
  • There’s also audiobooks of RAMSKULL and INFESTATION in production and a German edition of THE INVASION.

Short Stories published

  • The Root of All Things / By the Light of Camelot / EDGE Publishing
  • Leader of the Pack / In Dog We Trust / Black Shuck Books
  • The Keys to the Door / Nightland Quarterly / Nightland (Japan)

Short stories / novellas coming up, all dates to be confirmed

  • Operation Severn / Prehistoric / Severed Press
  • Blacktop / I Am The Abyss / Dark Regions Press
  • Nocturnes and Lacunae / Transmissions From Punktown / Dark Regions Press
  • Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation / Tales from Arkham Asylum / Dark Regions Press
  • The Color From The Deep / Summer of Lovecraft / Dark Regions Press
  • Something for the Weekend? / Voices in the Darkness / Ulthar Press
  • Carnacki: Bats in the Belfry / Tails of Terror / Golden Goblin Press
  • Into the Light / Their Coats All Red / 18th Wall Productions
  • Farside / Occult Detective Quarterly Presents

It’s felt like a quiet year so far, but looking back, I’ve been more productive than I thought.

Onward!

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