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WILLIAM MEIKLE

Genre Fiction

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Scottish

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

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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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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.

 

Newsflash: THE MIDNIGHT EYE Omnibus on discount

AMAZON currently have THE MIDNIGHT EYE FILES Omnibus on sale at 99c or the equivalent for KINDLE worldwide. Get in quick and snatch it while it’s cheap.

In this you’ll find all three of the Midnight Eye files novels, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS, THE SKIN GAME, and several extra short stories, so it’s a great bargain. Tell your friends. Hell, tell your enemies.

Derek Adams is a Glasgow P.I. who somewhat reluctantly gets involved in weird cases. It’s what gets called urban fantasy these days, but it’s really my homage to classic detective fiction, to B-movies, monsters, and more than a touch of nostalgia for Glasgow as it was when I lived there back when the world was young. This is me having fun, and I think it shows.

THE AMULET in particular has been very good for me over the years, selling well and also appearing in German and Portuguese editions. People all over seem to click with Derek immediately, something for which I’m very grateful.

(The Amulet)… is a loving romp in and out of both the Lovecraft Mythos and the noir detective novel, predictable in its own way but unapologetically so, and ultimately fulfilling because most of us have loved the same two sets of elements forever and can’t resist whenever they are brought together again.Chizine



Get A Bargain Meikle ebook Bundle from Dark Regions Press – 5 ebooks for $9.00

 

 


 

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

 

 

The Seton family

Regular readers of mine know that I like to seed Seton family Easter eggs in my books. They’re generally wee red-haired Scotsmen and women who either dabble in alchemy, know more than they’re telling, might or might not be immortal, or have sold their souls for a shiny sword and a way with the ladies — they crop up all over the place.

Recently a young member of the family (and another cousin of his too) has turned up in the Rowan Casey / Veil Knights series, an elder statesman is in Ramskull, Occult Detective Quarterly #1, and Sherlock Holmes: The Dreaming Man. Alexander, who was the first to make himself known to me, is in The Concordances of the Red Serpent, and his granddaughter turns up in a new Derek Adams story coming soon in Occult Detective Quarterly Presents.

Then there’s Augustus, still hacking his violent way through late 16th Century Scotland in a sequence of sword and sorcery stories — he’ll be back I’m sure.

They’re also tied to an ancient mystical book, THE TWELVE CONCORDANCES OF THE RED SERPENT, an alchemical tome written by an elder Seton at the time of Bannockburn. There’s a copy in Carnacki’s library in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, Sherlock Holmes has seen a copy too, as has Derek Adams, and one turned up in my recent novella, THE JOB.

The family, and the book are also in the process of being tied in to my Sigils and Totems mythos, so everything is all spinning around in one big happy dance of chaos.

It gives readers who read a lot of my books something to look out for, a wee wink and secret handshake between them and me as reward for their time spent in my worlds.

Plus, it’s fun.

Fun is good.

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I’m Willie, I’m a Scotsman, and I like horror fiction.

I’m Willie, I’m a Scotsman, and I like horror fiction.

A lot of my work, long and short form, has been set in Scotland, and a lot 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).

Scottish history goes deep. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a castle or a historic monument or, from further back, a burial mound or standing stone. Five thousand years of living in mist and dampness, wind and snow, lashing rain and high seas leads to the telling of many tales of eldritch beings abroad in the dark nights. Add in the constant risk of invasion and war from Romans, Danes, Irishmen, Vikings and English and you can see that there’s plenty of fertile ground for both fact and fiction to merge into a rich and varied mythology.

I grew up in 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.

What with all of that, it was only natural that my taste in reading would take a turn towards the spooky.

I think my first close encounter of the Scottish kind must have been with Rabbie Burns. I’m from Ayrshire like Rabbie, and we share a birthday, so he was ever present in my early schooling. I remember learning a recital of the galloping frenzy of Tam o’ Shanter as drunken Tam escapes the witches Sabbath by the skin of his teeth. Walter Scott too wasn’t above slipping wraiths and fairies and fey folk into his romances, and he too was an early sight for me of some old Scots preoccupations with the darker side.

When I started reading seriously for myself, Treasure Island was one of my early favorites, and it led me directly to the man who would be a lifelong companion. Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t just anchor a whole sub-culture of horror with Doctor Jeckyll and his alter-ego — he also wrote some of the greatest adventure novels of all time, and some of the most beautifuly constructed short stories you ever did read. He also introduced me to Scottish history in a way that school books had never managed, and through him I was led to Victorian Edinburgh and London, and directly into the arms of another great Scotsman.

Yes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish. No, he wasn’t an English gentleman. Now that’s out of the way… I fell in love with Doyle through Challenger more than Holmes at first, from a love of The Lost World that persists to this day. Holmes came along later, and when I started writing Holmes stories of my own, the supernatural kept creeping into them, which gets me castigated by Sherlockian purists, but I don’t care; as a Scotsman, like Doyle, steeped in the stories told in the mists and dark rooms in old buildings, it feels as natural to me as breathing. Doyle also wrote some top notch horror shorts that were a big favorite of mine in those early years.

Also writing at the same time was Margaret Oliphant, a prolific Scotswoman better known for romantic dramas than supernatural works, but in later years I discovered a ghost stories collection of hers and was delighted to discover that she too shared our kinfolk’s love for the things that live in the dark and foggy nights in the auld country.

My later reading in my early teens before I found Moorcock then Lovecraft then King was almost all sci-fi or thriller based, but there too I found Scots with a taste for the darkside, in John Buchan and especially Alistair MacLean, a man who would have made a great pulp horror writer in different circumstances.

Later still William McIllvaney and Ian Rankin, while ostensibly working in the crime field also showed me more than a few glimpses of their familiarity with the dark and the ways of things that creep in the shadows.

And then, in the Eighties, horror came back to Scotland in full measure, in Ian Banks’ The Wasp Factory, in Jonathan Aycliffe’s Edinburgh ghost story, The Matrix, and in the many works of Joe Donnelly, a much missed genre writer who gave us a whole range of Scottish spooks, spectres, bogey-men and monsters in his short horror career during the boom years.

Which brings us round to when I started writing for myself, in the early ’90s. I’ve tried over the years since then to explain in a variety of works what the rich history of Scottish supernatural writing has given me. In my new book, THE GHOST CLUB, I’ve gone right back to basics, and provided as part of it three tales as if told by Stevenson, Oliphant and Doyle, and a wee cameo by Rabbie Burns in another story for good measure. I hope I’ve done them justice.

I’m Willie, I’m a Scotsman, and I write horror fiction.

 

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The Midnight Eye Files

I read widely, both in the crime and horror genres, but my crime fiction in particular keeps returning to older, pulpier, bases.

My series character, Glasgow PI Derek Adams, is a Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of the ’40s that I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the modern procedural.

That, and the old city, are the two main drivers for the Midnight Eye stories.

When I was a lad, back in the early 1960s, we lived in a town 20 miles south of Glasgow, and it was an adventure to the big city when I went with my family on shopping trips. Back then the city was a Victorian giant going slowly to seed.

It is often said that the British Empire was built in Glasgow on the banks of the river Clyde. Back when I was young, the shipyards were still going strong, and the city centre itself still held on to some of its past glories.

It was a warren of tall sandstone buildings and narrow streets, with Edwardian trams still running through them. The big stores still had pneumatic delivery systems for billing, every man wore a hat, collar and tie, and steam trains ran into grand vaulted railway stations filled with smoke.

Also by the time I was a student, a lot of the tall sandstone buildings had been pulled down to make way for tower blocks. Back then they were the new shiny future, taking the people out of the Victorian ghettos and into the present day.

Fast forward to the present day and there are all new ghettos. The tower blocks are ruled by drug gangs and pimps. Meanwhile there have been many attempts to gentrify the city centre, with designer shops being built in old warehouses, with docklands developments building expensive apartments where sailors used to get services from hard faced girls, and with shiny, trendy bars full of glossy expensively dressed bankers.

And underneath it all, the old Glasgow still lies, slumbering, a dreaming god waiting for the stars to be right again.

Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye, knows the ways of the old city. And, if truth be told, he prefers them to the new.

There are antecedents – occult detectives who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington’s Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.

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. Derek 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.

He’s turned up in three novels so far, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS and THE SKIN GAME, all out now in ebook at all the usual online stores and in shiny new paperback and audiobook editions from Gryphonwood Press.

THE AMULET is also out in a Portuguese language edition from Retropunk Publicadoes (with the other 2 to follow) and there’s a German language edition of THE AMULET from Blitz Verlag.

There’s also an ever growing list of Midnight Eye short stories, a novella, DEAL OR NO DEAL from Gryphonwood Press, and a new novella, FARSIDE coming in OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY PRESENTS.

Derek has developed a life of his own, and I’m along for the ride.

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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

 

 

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