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WILLIAM MEIKLE

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Crossroad Press

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.


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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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Slave to the rhythm

In TORMENTOR , my latest release from Crossroad Press, there’s a lot of fish, some drums, some beer, a lot of whisky, dancing, some good weather, some bad weather, weird noises in the night and some Spaniards – among other things. Things like rhythm, and booze.

The novella was a long time in the making. The basic idea came to me way back in 1991, but it took me a long, long time before I felt that my writing was up to the needs of the story. Then it all finally came together.

You see, I have a theory about how the world works – no, bear with me, this isn’t a pseudo-science rant. Well, maybe it is – but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, and it has turned up in a lot of my stories of recent years.

We are creatures of rhythm and vibration. Not just us either, and not just the animal and plant kingdoms, but the whole of the universe.

An earlier paragraph from another book of mine sort of sums up the first part of my philosophy nicely.

“Life is an opportunity to create meaning by our actions and how we manage our way through the short part of infinity we’re given to operate in. And once our life is finished, our atoms go back to forming other interesting configurations with those of other people, animals, plants and anything else that happens to be around, as we all roll along in one big, happy, ever dancing, universe.”

It’s the dance that’s the thing, and our attempts to learn the steps and keep time with our partners is how we fumble through life.

Everything has a natural rhythm. The Earth spins once a day, goes around the sun once a year. The moon goes round the earth every 28 days. Your heart beats in a rhythm particular only to you. Everything has its drumbeat and everything contributes to the dance. You’ve just got to know when to lead and when to follow.

And sometimes, if you let go and let the rhythm do its thing, magic happens, and the rhythm gets into you and through you and off you go, careering along with no other thought than the dance, and the sheer overwhelming joy of it.

And, to return to my point, in TORMENTOR, the rhythms are dormant, waiting to be wakened, and when they do make themselves known, they are not recognized for what they are.

The dancers take their time, finding the steps slowly, tentatively.

But in the end, we all dance together.

 



 

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FUNGOID is back – new release from Crossroad Press

When the end came, it wasn’t zombies, asteroids, global warming or nuclear winter. It was something that escaped from a lab. Something small, and very hungry.

In this one you’ll find a chunk of Newfoundland, a fireman, some nasty rain, a bit of real science, a lot of unreal science, some Canadians, many cigarettes, some trucks, boats and planes, and plenty of spores, mushrooms and rot.

GET IT ON AMAZON    SAMPLE

For fans of John Wyndham, William Hope Hodgson and H P Lovecraft, here’s a wee homage to a lot of the things I’ve loved since childhood.

Something a lot of people don’t know about me: I used to be a botanist. And no, it doesn’t mean I know about gardening. For my honors thesis I studied how much archaeological information could be gleaned from analyzing pollen grains in the strata of peat bogs in Central Scotland, I spent a year after graduating cataloging the plant fossil collection in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, and I had an abortive attempt at doing a PhD in the causes of rot in apples as they ripen.

I also learned quite a lot about fungi. The pollen analysis stuff hasn’t made it into a story of mine yet, but the fungi have – there’s something insidious about the creeping of mycelium, something obscene in the flesh of the caps, something scary in the fact that they spend so much time in the dark, just sitting there… growing.

I started to get a germ (or should that be spore ) of an idea a few years back of a fungal takeover of the planet, and I tried it out in a piece of flash fiction that I sold to NATURE FUTURES ( you can read that one–> here. ) It was the one image I had in mind, of a dark sky and vast, endless fields of high fruiting bodies. The image wouldn’t leave me, and it came back in another story, THE KEW GROWTHS, in my Challenger collection where the Prof has to tackle a giant fungal menace threatening London.

That story was fun – but the image I had in my head was still for something a lot darker – something insidious, obscene and scary.

Then another, accompanying, image came – a man in a HAZMAT suit, with nothing inside that was remotely human, just creeping filaments and bursting spores.

The story begins with spore-filled rain over Newfoundland. I’ve trashed my new homeland in this book. Sorry.

A band of survivors on the Eastern coast of Canada watch as their world falls and crumbles to ruin. The infection seems relentless. More than that, it seems to be learning, adapting and evolving faster than they can fight it. Worse still—it is infecting not just their bodies, but is creeping into their minds, dancing in their dreams.  Can they stop it before it takes them? Or must they all join in the final dance of death? 

Fungoid is a fast paced ecohorror thriller that delivers on all fronts. The large cast of characters combined with Meikle’s tight plotting and a keen eye for dialogue bring a real cinematic feel to the narrative. By focusing more on the fast based plot rather than getting bogged down by over characterisation Meikle has created a real page-turner. – GINGER NUTS OF HORROR 

Lightning fast, engaging and thouroughly entertaining. – Unnerving Magazine 

The end result is a deeply entertaining piece of writing which takes a number of well-established tropes and characters and moulds them into something new. – Dark Musings

Recommended for fans of fast paced, plague spreading, biological menaces! – Char’s Horror Corner 

Do you like campy horror? Immersively weird apocalyptic scenarios? Star-crossed lovers in impossibly disgusting situations? Then this book is for you. – Bookshot at Litreactor

Above all else in my love of the horror genre, I cherish implacability. Prolific and accomplished author William Meikle masterfully delivers this element; in fact, I consider it one of his trademarks. In FUNGOID, a story determined to keep you wide-eyed awake, he brings together a seemingly natural process, adds the suspicion of human meddling, and a frisson of supernaturalism. Together, I raced through the pages as fast as my Kindle could handle – The Haunted Reading Room

 

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CLOCKWORK DOLLS is back

CLOCKWORK DOLLS is back. My latest rerelease from Crossroad Press, and a novella that garnered some of the best reviews of my career.

Does all human passion, all memory, all imagination come merely from the chemistry in our brains, like the movements of a clock follow from the arrangement of its cogs and wheels?

Are we just clockwork dolls?

AMAZON  SMASHWORDS

This one is a bit of a departure for me. It’s darker than a lot of my other stuff, and features a protagonist who is very hard to like.

Dave is a shit; a self-obsessed wanker with few redeeming features. The fact that he reminds me a lot of myself at a certain stage of my life is neither here nor there.

He’s also a skeptic of all things paranormal and likes to show off.

I wanted to write about such a person having an epiphany, of sorts, and it took me down some strange alleys, into studies of philosophical discussions, and thoughts of beer, love, and my place in an uncaring Universe.

As I’ve said, it turned out darker than I anticipated, but there’s also hope here, and I learned some stuff about myself in its progress, which was nice.

Full of strong and well written characters, an ever building sense of dread, topped off with a satisfying conclusion. This novella hits the mark perfectly. – Ginger Nuts of Horror

I never thought that such a short novel could have such a huge impact, not only on my emotions but also on my ideas of God, the Universe and Fate. This is a thought provoker if ever there was one … It’s totally mind blowing. – Magic of Reading

… a brilliantly written story which offers plenty of rewards for those game enough to read it. – Fantasy Book Review

It’s a novella that takes a piece of metaphysics and turns it into a monster. Keep your Secret, gurus. William Meikle has the cure for what ails me. – Wag the Fox

This is a fine story which manages to run the full gamut of emotion but is never stale, it fairly rockets along. Meikle takes what he has learned from years of writing pacy adventures, gives us a character worth caring about, an intriguing plot and away we go. I have always enjoyed William Meikle’s work but with this story he firmly moves into my list of favourite authors and I will be really interested to see where he goes from here. – The Heart of Horror

I know William Meikle’s writing chiefly through his pastiches of the work of others, the role of pulp chameleon one at which he is very good indeed and never less than entertaining, but if this is an example of what he can come up with under his own steam then it’s something I most definitely want to see more of. – Pete Tennant, Black Static #34

 

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THE EXILED is back

When people ask me what’s my favorite of the books I’ve written, this one often comes to mind. There’s a lot of me in this one; it’s Scottish, it’s set in Edinburgh and rural Scotland, and there’s a particularly Scottish flavor to the people and the dialogue. It’s one of those books where I said what I meant to say, and was happy with the end result, which doesn’t always happen.

Its origins are in a nightmare, in my childhood, and in the bars and alleyways of Edinburgh itself. Even the castle makes an appearance.

It’s available again now in ebook at Crossroad Press having originally been published by DarkFuse, and there’s an audiobook, masterfully done by fellow Scotsman Chris Barnes, who got the accents and banter exactly right.

AMAZON     SMASHWORDS

The nightmare? I’ve been having it off and on since I was a boy. It’s of a bird – a huge, black, swan. The stuff that dreams are made of.

In the nightmare I’m on the edge of a high sea cliff. I feel the wind on my face, taste salt spray, smell cut grass and flowers. I feel like if I could just give myself to the wind I could fly. Then it comes, from blue, snow covered mountains way to the north, a black speck at first, getting bigger fast. Before I know it it is on me, enfolding me in feathers. It lowers its head, almost like a dragon, and puts its beak near my ear. It whispers.

I had the dream many times, and always woke up at this point.

Then, in 1991, I heard what it said.

“Will we talk about the black bird?”

The next morning, for the first time, I wrote a story. It wasn’t a very good story, but something had been woken up, and the day after that I wrote another, a wee ghost story. It didn’t have a black bird in it, but it did have some jazz, and a sultry broad, a murder and some dancing. When that one made me 100 pounds in a ghost story competition, I was on my way.

The bird comes back and whispers to me every couple of years – I’ve come to think of it as my spirit guide. Although it terrifies me, it also reassures me in a weird kind of way. As long as it’s around, I’ll still be a writer and not just a drunk with weird ideas he can’t express.

The bird came to me a few years back, and the next morning I had an idea forming, a murder mystery that led to a place of legend and horror, a myth. THE EXILED is a way of making sense of that dream – I think I got close to the heart of it.

Will we talk about the black bird?

When several young girls are abducted from various locations in Edinburgh, Detective John Grainger and his brother Alan, a reporter, investigate the cases from different directions. The abductor is cunning, always one step ahead, and the only clue he leaves behind at each scene are the brutalized corpses of black swans. When the brothers’ investigations finally converge at a farmhouse in Central Scotland, they catch a glimpse of where the girls have been taken, a place both far away yet close enough to touch. A land known throughout Scottish history with many names: Faerie, Elfheim, the Astral Plane – Brigadoon. It is a place of legend and horror, a myth. But the brothers soon discover it is real, and, to catch the abductor, they will have to cross over themselves. 

You’ve just given your wee posh company car away to a known villain in exchange for an old banger and two bacon rolls, you’re on the run accused of murder, and your only alibi is that you were away in Fairyland with a big black bird. It’s hardly any wonder something smells of shite.

To catch a killer, John and Alan Grainger will have to battle the Cobbe, a strange and enigmatic creature that guards the realm, a creature of horrific power that demands a heavy price for entry into its world. The fate of both realms hangs in the balance… and time is running out…

Shall we talk about the Black Bird? 

Totally gripping, The Exiled delivers a killer story that will appeal to fans of both crime fiction and dark fantasy. – The Ginger Nuts of Horror

This book will appeal to people in the overlapping section of a Venn diagram showing Grimm Tales readers, Stephen King fans and crime fiction lovers. – This is Horror

A must-read for any fan of horror or truly dark fantasy. Highest possible recommendation. – Horror After Dark

 

 

NIGHT OF THE WENDIGO is back.

My novel, NIGHT OF THE WENDIGO, is rereleased today in a new ebook edition from Crossroad Press. Formerly at DarkFuse, it picked up some great reviews back in its first release, and I’m hoping it’s going to get a new audience with this new edition.

AMAZON      SMASHWORDS

Four hundred years ago a Scottish cargo ship fell prey to a Wendigo at an early settlement on the Hudson River. Now a team of archaeologists have uncovered the boat, and let loose the evil. Manhattan is soon overrun by an ice storm like no other before it.

There are things moving in the storm.

Blue, cold things, with razor sharp teeth. 

Since I moved from Scotland to Newfoundland I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with cold weather. Part of me finds it fascinatingly beautiful, and I’m often in awe of the force and majesty of the winter storms that sweep this island from January till April. But another part of me pines for warm, sultry days in the sun.

Back in the winter of 2007/8, a particularly harsh one in these parts, I started to have a germ of a story idea. At that stage I only knew I wanted to do an “ancient evil comes back for revenge” tale, and I wanted to trash a big city in print. (This was before I wrote CRUSTACEANS, and I hadn’t tried anything on this scale before.) That it would involve weather extremes was a no-brainer, given that, at the time I had the idea, we had three feet of snow on the ground here.

I started with no real plan beyond an opening scene where archaeologists uncover an old boat on a cargo dock in Manhattan. Pretty quickly a cast of characters started to squabble for my attention; cops, forensic teams, other archaeologists and a conspiracy nut. Somehow they all fitted in to the same story, and I had to step back for a while to outline a plot.

The characters never stopped squabbling, but the main character, the winter storm itself, rode roughshod over them, and it was the force of the storm that drove the story forward in my head.

It runs in my mind like any number of big dumb disaster movies, with its theme of chaos and destruction coming to modern Manhattan, with antecedents in the Emmerlich and Devlin blockbusters 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and even Godzilla.

I’d love to be able to sit down with my popcorn and beer and watch it for myself on a big screen. It’s a dream I have.

This book is informed as much by classic drive-in B-movies as it is by prose fiction and it’s none the worse for that. It would, in fact, make a pretty good film. It’s an exciting page-turner of a book that I finished in just two sittings. – THE BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY

Night Of the Wendigo is one hell of a story by one hell of a storyteller at the top of his game and is a tale that is not to be missed… I give it my highest recommendation. – FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND MAGAZINE

Night of The Wendigo is another near perfect example of why I love Willie’s writing. Within minutes I was transported into another world, a world in which all the crap of real life didn’t exist. All that existed and all that mattered for my time spent in this book was the book itself. Some books require you to think and concentrate, and some books like this places your brain right in the centre of an 3D Dolby 7.1 surround sound narrative. And please believe me this is no criticism of Willie’s writing, Willie has a gift for writing highly entertaining thrilling novels, and this is no exception. – GINGER NUTS OF HORROR 

 

 

New Book Day – RAMSKULL

RAMSKULL is new today.

In this one you’ll find a remote Scottish island, some baffled cops, bloody mayhem, a bar, an ancient Ram’s skull, dank caves, some whisky, another bar, Oban, some mad monks, a lighthouse, and more whisky.

It’s a return home for me after a few years writing Newfoundland based stories, and it’s a back-to-my-roots thing that runs in my head like a Hammer Horror, with blood so red it almost glows, screams so high they tear the top of your head off, and stoic rural workers doing what needs to be done against a terrible peril rearing up out of the past.

Another one I think should be a movie. But then I would, wouldn’t I?

 

http://www.williammeikle.com/aboutramsskull.html

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