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WILLIAM MEIKLE

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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.


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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2017 – My Writing Year

It’s been quite a year.

It started with DarkFuse publishing my novel FUNGOID to great reviews, only for the publisher to fold just as sales were starting to take off, leaving the book, and all my other DarkFuse titles in limbo. I’ve since managed to place all the works at Crossroad Press who are doing a sterling job of getting old and new books into ebook, print and audiobook. They’ve already brought out the new novel SONGS OF DREAMING GODS and the reprint of THE HOLE, as well as the three Sigils and Totems novellas. Next up from them is RAMSKULL, a Scottish Hammer horror tribute with Satanism and bloody mayhem on a small Scottish island, so look out for that.

DarkFuse weren’t the only publisher to disappear. Dark Renaissance finally ended their on-again, off-again dance, leaving me with another couple of books to home. My Sherlock Holmes novel, THE DREAMING MAN, found a home and was published in the spring by the ever reliable Gryphonwood Press, and my third Carnacki collection, THE EDINBURGH TOWNHOUSE was published in the Fall by The Lovecraft Ezine imprint to some very satisfying reviews.

On the personal front, my wife fell very ill, and a lot of the late Spring and early Summer for me was spent in worry that has thankfully abated a bit with her recovery. It left me with some catching up to do on the writing front that I’ve just about managed to handle.

I’ve been involved in the ROWAN CASEY / VEIL KNIGHTS series cooperative venture with some great fantasy writers, and that’s been fun, playing out of my usual comfort zones.

And towards the end of the year I’ve seen the publication of my big-bug creature feature INFESTATION at Severed Press, and, most recently, and the current focus of much of my activity, my Victorian supernatural short story collection, THE GHOST CLUB from Crystal Lake Publishing. It’s picking up great reviews. Which is nice.

2017 also saw me making some inroads into the German language market, with THE AMULET and SHERLOCK HOLMES: REVENANT being published by Blitz Verlag in ebook and very nice mass-market format paperbacks. I have THE INVASION coming from them soon, and have also sold a handful of novels to Voodoo Press for publication in German, so watch this space.

With all of that, my short stories in anthologies and magazines have taken a bit of a back seat this year, but I’ve had some great appearances, including one alongside the likes of Joyce Carol Oates and Joe Lansdale among others, and I’ve repeated my success with sales to Night Land Quarterly in Japan, had my sixth sale to NATURE FUTURES, and some nice appearances in Dark Regions Press anthologies. I also took great delight in providing a James Bond novella to April Moon Books’ BOND UNKNOWN. (Contrary to S. T. Joshi’s well publicised belief, I am not actually trying to make a career out of Carnacki pastiches.)

I hope to get more time next year to hit some short story markets, but it’s already looking to be a busy one.

Coming up I have…

  • The Boathouse (novel) / Crossroad Press
  • Ramskull (novel) / Crossroad Press
  • The Green and The Black (novel) / Crossroad Press
  • Operation: Antarctica (novel) / Severed Press
  • Fungoid (novel) / New Edition coming soon from Crossroad Press
  • The Dunfield Terror (novel) / New Edition coming soon from Crossroad Press
  • The Exiled (novel) / New Edition coming soon from Crossroad Press
  • Night of the Wendigo (novel) / New Edition coming soon from Crossroad Press
  • Tormentor (novella) / New Edition coming soon from Crossroad Press
  • Clockwork Dolls (novella) / New Edition coming soon from Crossroad Press

There’s also the novella, BLACKTOP coming in Dark Regions Press’ huge I AM THE ABYSS anthology that I’m really looking forward to, and work in another handful of anthologies waiting to be published, including a story in Jeffrey Thomas’ PUNKTOWN setting that I think is close to the best thing I’ve ever written.

As for the writing schedule, I’ve got another novel, OPERATION: SIBERIA to write for Severed Press, I’ve got book 3 of a fantasy trilogy I’m working on with Steve Savile to complete, and I’ve had a tickle of interest from a publisher interested in a set of Victorian ghost stories.

I’ve got my 60th birthday in January. I always thought I’d be dead or at least stopped writing by now, but it seems I still have stories to tell.

Busy, busy, busy.

Onward.

November Newsletter

The three Sigils and Totems novellas are now available in a compiled ebook collection from Crossroad Press ( paperback on its way)

It’s a simple enough concept.

There are houses like this all over the world. Most people only know of them from whispered stories over campfires; tall tales told to scare the unwary. But some, those who suffer, some know better. They are drawn to the places where what ails them can be eased.

If you have the will, the fortitude, you can peer into another life, where the dead are not gone, where you can see that they thrive and go on, in the dreams that stuff is made of.

There it is in a nutshell. There are houses where people can go to get in touch with their dead loved ones.

I’ve started linking it through to some of my other characters and ongoing work, so there’s sigils and totems stories featuring members of the Seton family, Derek Adams, the Midnight Eye, and Carnacki. Augustus Seton will be getting involved in 16th C Scotland soon too.

The novellas that used the concept, BROKEN SIGIL, THE JOB and PENTACLE were well received and are in standalone ebooks, and now collected in this single omnibus edition.

As ever all shares or mentions of the book on social media would be greatly appreciated.


 

A bargain box set is now available that contains, among other fine things, my early Scottish vampire novel ELDREN: THE BOOK OF THE DARK. And all in, you get 10 novels for 99c / 99p. Bargain! Here’s the gen.

Ten dark novels of supernatural horror from some of today’s bestselling authors!

This collection includes:

  • Closet Treats by Paul E. Cooley
  • The Crypt of Dracula by Kane Gilmour
  • Eldren: The Book of the Dark by William Meikle
  • Still Water by Justin R. Macumber
  • Refuge-Night of the Blood Sky by Jeremy Robinson
  • Dark Rite by David Wood and Alan Baxter
  • The Flat by Rick Chesler and Jack Douglas
  • Laughing Boy’s Shadow by Steven Savile
  • Piercing Through by RJ Fanucchi
  • Hunger by Jeremy Robinson

 


 

In other news

 

  • I’m busy setting up a tour of blogs and podcasts for the launch of THE GHOST CLUB from Crystal Lake Publishing on 8th December. Got some great blurbs in for the book too.
  • I’m looking forward to the release of INFESTATION, my big bug creature feature novel from Severed Press, and I have a new contract to write another novel for them.
  • I have a story in THROUGH A MYTHOS DARKLY from PS Publishing
  • I have a story in SHADOWS OVER MAIN STREET 2 from Cuttingblock Press alongside the likes of Joyce Carol Oates and Joe Lansdale
  • I have one of my Sherlock Holmes stories in OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY #3
  • I have a novella coming in the huge I AM THE ABYSS anthology from Dark Regions Press alongside the likes of Michael Marshall Smith and Steve Rasnic Tem that’s available to order now
  • Crossroad Press have a schedule for the publication of all my rehomed DarkFuse books new and old. Next up is RAMSKULL, a Scottish black magic Hammer horror tribute thing
  • Carnacki:The Edinburgh Townhouse and Other Stories is selling well from the Lovecraft Ezine Press
  • I’m on part 3 of a secret big honking fantasy trilogy I’m writing with a name author.

Busy, busy, busy.


About SONGS OF DREAMING GODS

 

A new novel, coming in 2017 from DarkFuse.

SONGS OF DREAMING GODS is the story of a house.

In this one you’ll find creepy china dolls, a haunted lavatory, some hippies, some large, nasty ratty things, a chess board, a reaper, some cops, the great beyond, the other great beyond, and a lot of singing.

This is another in the growing number of stories of mine in a Sigils and Totems mythos that’s been developing through BROKEN SIGIL, PENTACLE, parts of TORMENTOR and several recent short stories. It’s both a culmination of my thinking on how the strange houses work, and an opening gambit for a whole slew of other works to come.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere recently about playing in other writers’ sandboxes – well, this is me, building a sandbox of my own, and I’m going to be happily building play scenarios in it for a while to come.

This is the story of a house.

It sits on a corner block on a hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in one of the oldest cities in North America, a non descript, three storey wooden cube, going slowly to seed.

When local cops, John Green, Janis Lodge and Todd Wiggins are sent to investigate a multiple murder on the top floor of the property, they start opening doors and uncovering secrets. But like peeling the layers off an onion, each door opened only leads them deeper into the mystery.

There are houses like this all over the world, and those who suffer are drawn to them, as John, Janis and Todd have been drawn.

They have found their way in.

Can they find their way out again? And at what cost?

A Question of Perseverance

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Fifteen years ago about now, I had been writing for nine, going on ten years, had one pro story credit to my name, a lot of for-the-love small press credits, and had been trying to sell a couple of novels without any success at all.

Then I had an online conversation with Joe Nassise that led me to send a book to a US company called Barclay Books. They had a few people on their list – Joe himself, and Simon Wood that I’d heard of, and I was delighted when they decided to publish ISLAND LIFE. The book came out, it was well reviewed in Asimov’s and Cemetery Dance among other places… then things started to fall apart.

The saga of what happened next taught me a lot of lessons that have stood me in good stead ever since – dodgy contracts, publisher promises that were never kept, stockpiled books and no royalties- it was a litany of bad decisions all round and although I had a contract for another three books with them, it all went tits up very quickly – the dream was quashed almost as soon as it was born.

But it had one effect for the good – it made me believe. And it started an engine running that has been going ever since.

In the intervening fifteen years I’ve written 24 novels ( 21 currently in print), a number of novellas and a large number of short stories, now well over three hundred of them. The number of pro stories sales has swelled too, and I’m not too far short of my century on that front.

The reason I’m looking back at it today is because I looked at the new edition of Island Life from Gryphonwood Press and wondered what might have been, had Barclay Books been able to put out such a great product back then.

But if wishes were horses we would all be eating steak.

Still, the last five or six years in particular have been pretty spectacular for me, so here’s to many more good times ahead.

Onward and Upward.

I have all the words. The best words.

hardcovershelfieSep2015As of today, since the start of June I’ve written over 175,000 words, which, I’m pretty sure, makes this the most concentrated stint of my writing life so far, stretching back to 1992.

And it’s happened because I made a conscious decision to change my method sightly. I used to be a ‘pantser’ in the main, heading into the void to see what happened, but, starting with a short novel in June that required me to do an outline for the potential publisher, I’ve been outlining / modifying the plot both before I start and as I go along. Most days I’ve had the next day’s writing plotted out before I go to bed the night before.

It seems to have loosened me up and allows me to plough on with getting words down, and has got my fingers flying.

I’ve said before, writing fast seems to be the best way for me to go about it, and this method of pre-plotting has just added to that.

If it continues to go this way for the next few months, I’m going to have a lot of new material ready to show to publishers, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can come up with over the next few years.

Onward and upward!

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