Like, do you know how many books and comics are published each year, sister? I mean, it’s like dozens, and reviewing is so last year, that’s what Becky says, and she’s totally rad, and goes out with Marlon and stuff, and they are sooo cool. She’s so rad she says ‘rad’ is out, and I’m all “Whaaat, girlfriend?” Anyhoo, there’s like loads of new stuff to mention, so let’s party…


Dear little greydogtales is buried under review copies and interview ideas, but today we’re simply going to highlight a few fun things to read. Otherwise we will not only stop wagging, but our tail will drop off. Today we have news of the forthcoming Turn to Ash Issue 3 from Benjamin Holesapple, African comics from Kugali, horror by Brian Barr, a creepy anthology campaign Test Patterns, and new urban/Gothic dark fantasy from Ian McKinney (apparently on special offer on Sunday 23rd July).


Where to start? We had a contact from author Ian McKinney, who wanted to mention a series of book which might have escaped us. Which it had, so we’ll summarise here – they sound quite cool, and seem to have had a lot of five star reviews.

Cover_Hutchings_Scouse-Gothic_02032015_9781909644519_v1-1“I write and publish a trilogy of Gothic thrillers set in Liverpool past and present under the title: ‘Scouse Gothic’. They combine: Vampires; Gangsters; Homicidal old ladies and an Angel disguised as a pigeon. All wrapped up with pitch black humour, maps, illustrations and cocktail recipes.”

“Melville wakes with a pounding headache – there had been too many hangovers recently, but this one felt different. What had he been drinking last night? Then he remembered – it was blood.

Enter the bizarre world of Scouse Gothic where a reluctant vampire mourns a lost love and his past lives, where a retired ‘hit man’ plans one more killing and dreams of food, and a mother sets out to avenge her son’s murder, and, meanwhile, a grieving husband is visited by an angry angel.

Set in present day Liverpool, vampires and mortals co-exist, unaware of each others’ secrets and that their past and present are inextricably linked. But as their lives converge, who will be expected to atone for past sins?”

Book 1: The Pool of Life… and Death

Book 2: Blood Brothers… and Sisters

Book 3: All You Need is… Blood?

9781911175131The books Scouse Gothic 1, 2 and 3 will also be subject to free promotion on Kindle this coming Sunday July 23rd. Start at the link below:

scouse gothic


The next issue of Benjamin Holesapple’s Turn to Ash is now on preorder, and has a great range of creepy fiction in it.

“Turn to Ash, Vol. 3 is now up for Pre-order at the Turn to Ash Store. Orders will ship around the first week of September, shortly after the hangover from NecronomiCon has faded. Be sure to order soon as I’ve only got the rights for Matt Tisdale’s glorious cover for a limited amount of time. There will be at least 100, but probably not many more. Once those rights expire, the issue will either go out of print or we’ll release a second edition with a different cover, depending on demand and the number of copies sold.”

copyright Matt Tisdale
copyright Matt Tisdale

We talked to Mr Holesapple at length here:

And you can explore Turn to Ash through this link:


This week we downloaded Ziki Nelson’s Kugali Mag Issue 0, with b/w art by Salim Busuru, Bill Masuku and Gbenle Maverik (plus writers and others, full credits in the comic).


It’s a great taster for African comic-book work. Being fans of African Mythic, we particularly like Oro – “Aberration or God?”.

“The story of a prince who was born deformed, abandoned in the forest and raised by spirits. He is mentored by the spirit of a scarmarker (ancient weapon makers). He builds a powerful weapon called a Leech and protects the kingdom that rejected him.”

kugali media video

This is a new comics anthology that features the best stories from across Africa. The pilot issue comprises of three comics from Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, each bringing a unique take on the African art, culture and aesthetic. The long-term plan is to produce 60+ pages of comics, artwork, interviews and more exclusive content, on a monthly basis.


Writer Brian Barr has been on greydogtales before, mostly to do with his comic Empress, and we hope to say more later about his other work, including Carolina Daemonic, but as a newsflash, we’ll mention that his 3 H’s Trilogy: The Head, The House, and The Hell is now available in a complete collection that is a weird mix of cosmic horror, weird fiction, comedic bizarro, and dark romance!


We’ve already read The Head, which was certainly odd, so we’ll be checking out the other two as well.

“The 3 H’s Trilogy begins with the story of a woman who falls in love with a decapitated head. From there, the story only gets weirder and darker, and is unlike any other tale ever written…”

3Hs on Amazon US

3Hs on Amazon UK

You can find out more about Brian’s imaginative work from our longer piece here:

lurchers in the wind and an empress


That fine chap Michael Adams, with others, is putting together his planned Test Patterns anthology, and had started an Indiegogo campaign to help the process along. It looks mighty interesting.


“Test Patterns will be a collection of short speculative fictions written with classic television shows such as The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, and The Night Gallery in mind. Richly varied stories which might impart a moral, inspire thought, offer meaning, inspire hope, or instil dread. Tales told in unique ways, employing provocative twists and surprises, and exploring the universal themes of humanity and self-discovery through the lenses of horror, fantasy, and science fiction.”

You can find out lots more, including a list of great authors planning to participate, and look at supporting the campaign, here:

That’s it, but we’re going to have to run another medley post soon, just to keep up at all. Join us regularly for news of exciting weird stuff!

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Shiela Crerar, Clay-Corpses & Psychic Investigation for Girls

“Oh, you modern women! You dabble in science and medicine, you dabble in politics and law, and now you dabble in the occult. What else is there left for mere man?” Today we get lost in Scotland and its folklore with Shiela Crerar, follow a plucky young woman’s psychic endeavours, admit that Flaxman Low, our old occult detective friend, may have met his match, and even trip over William Hope Hodgson.

Were it not for the fact that most of the Scots we know are dangerous and vengeful characters, this would have been entitled Shiela Crerar: The MacHorror. O Best Beloved, we are on the trail of author Ella M Scrymsour, an imaginative writer with a Dickensian name, and her female occult detective from the 1920s…

shiela crerar

Continue reading Shiela Crerar, Clay-Corpses & Psychic Investigation for Girls

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The Many Identities of Thomas Carnacki

Today, dear listener, we make a point, show off some fantastical art from the 1940s, and then mention a new book coming from that ace storyteller Willie Meikle. It’s all a bit Carnacki and William Hope Hodgson here again, for a brief moment. Oh, and the WHH covers gallery has been updated, under Weird Media (all art copyright its creators/owners).


I am Carnacki! No, I am Carnacki! The crowd erupts into a frenzy of self-sacrifice, at which point the Cistercian Abbot Amalric says “Kill them all. God will know which are his,” and then realises that he’s in the wrong film.

Meanwhile, thousands of Roman soldiers and a cohort of jobbing plumbers, who thought someone said ‘cisterns’, get out their copies of Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder and try to find out where they come in.


The Truth

Thomas Merton Carnacki, dubbed the Ghost Finder by the popular press, was a man troubled by the role in which he found himself. Much of his brusque procedure was designed to cover up his own awkwardness. His own lack of any dramatic psychic ability made him prone to nagging doubts, and his true interests were fine dining and exploring the new world of electrical inventions.

As everyone knows, Carnacki died a mysterious death in the first decade of the Twentieth Century. His funeral was held at Steeton, near Keighley, close to the rambling house which he maintained up there, Hathering. Some said at the time that the mistress of Hathering, a Miss Catherine Weatherhead, was also mistress to the Ghost Finder. This was never publicly confirmed.

In his will, Carnacki left 472 Cheyne Walk and its contents to his chronologer Henry Dodgson, veteran of the Boer Wars and illegitimate son of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. With some reluctance, Dodgson took on the mantle of the Ghost Finder, relying on other associates to make up for his lack of ab-natural knowledge. It was to be a mantle he never managed to shed, and the true tale unfolds through Mr John Linwood Grant’s series ‘Tales of the Last Edwardian’.

Despite the above being very clear, and a matter of public record, interfering folk such Joshua M Reynolds, Willie Meikle and Brandon Barrows (amongst others) have insisted on various re-interpretations of Carnacki’s life, and of those who followed him. Oh, their work is fine and dandy, and most enjoyable, but one wonders if they ever question the liberties they have taken.

For example, whilst Mr Reynolds has woven a charming succession of talented Royal Occultists, and Mr Meikle has added to the range of astonishing paraphernalia which might be employed in Ghost Finding, their bravado sometimes shocks. As for Mr Barrows, he is perhaps more restrained in his addition of further almost canonical events, but is no less culpable.


We are gracious, though. Joshua M Reynolds is rumoured to be gathering a new collection of his Royal Occultist stories, and is also available on Patreon for discerning folk.

And Brandon Barrows’ collection The Castle-Town Tragedy is now widely available on Amazon, after an initial limited edition release:

Castletownthe castle-town tragedy

We shall come back to Mr Meikle later below, but first – an interlude…

Famous and Fantastic

Let’s have some of those illustrations, from Famous Fantastic Mysteries. FFM was an American SF and fantasy pulp magazine, edited by Mary Gnaedinger and published between 1939 to 1953, first by the Munsey Company and then by Popular Publications.

Argosy_1906_04Incidentally, Frank Munsey, the Victorian founder of the former company, also started the famous Argosy magazine, which lasted until the late seventies.

FFM published a range of short stories and reprinted novels included G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, Rider Haggard’s The Ancient Allan, and works by Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, and Arthur Machen.


In the process, it reprinted at least three works by William Hope Hodgson – his novels The Ghost Pirates and The Boats of the Glen Carrig, plus his story ‘The Derelict’. With illustrations.

  • December 1943. Cover by Lawrence Stevens. “King of the Gray Spaces” by Ray Bradbury, and other stories by J. Leslie Mitchell, William Hope Hodgson, and Robert W. Chambers. Illustrations by Hannes Bok.
  • March 1944. Cover and illustrations by Lawrence. “The Man Who Was Thursday (A Nightmare)” by G. K. Chesterton and “The Ghost Pirates” by William Hope Hodgson.
  • Volume 6 Number 5, June, 1945. Art and Cover by Lawrence. “The Boats of Glen Carrig” by William H. Hodgson, and “Even a Worm” by Henry Kuttner.

Lawrence, Lawrence Stevens and Lawrence Stern Stevens (1886-1960) were the same fellow. He did both covers and interiors for FFM at various times.


“He was most admired for his interior illustrations, which became his major activity when the aging Stevens was called upon to replace the great Virgil Finlay when the younger artist was drafted. Although faster, more versatile, and excellent at pen-and-ink stippling, he never achieved Finlay’s fame. Stevens’s finest work may be the dozens of interiors he did for Adventure from 1943 to 1954, though his interior illustrations for Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Startling Stories, Super Science Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories were also admired.”

(thanks also to for some of the art)


If anyone finds any more, do let us know.

Forthcoming Carnacki

Now, back to our authors, for we hear that author Willie Meikle, ever busy in multiple directions, has announced a brand new collection of his own Carnacki tales, to be released late 2017 by the Lovecraft ezine.



art m wayne miller

CARNACKI operates in shadowy occult realms, on the fringes of science, in places out of sight and out of mind of normal everyday people. But sometimes the darkness touches the lives of others in ways they cannot understand, and they find they need help – the kind of help that only Carnacki can provide.

In MR. CHURCHILL’S SURPRISE and INTO THE LIGHT Carnacki is called on to help a young Winston Churchill investigate a strangely empty German U-Boat captured in the North Sea, and in dispelling something that is lingering in a London inn that was home to a club of gentlemen seeking illicit pleasures and a path to power.

In FINS IN THE FOG and THE KING’S TREASURE, Carnacki again aids another Hodgson character, Captain Gault, in ridding him of a nemesis brought up from the deeps of the ocean intent on revenge, and in the salvage of a cursed treasure off the coast of Scotland.

In other tales you will meet an Egyptian amulet and the thing that protects it, a photographer whose pictures contain strange developments, a very strange occurrence on a cricket field, an old Edinburgh townhouse that is much more than it seems, and much more.

In these all new stories Carnacki helps old friends and new acquaintances in the never ending battle to keep the Great Beyond at bay.



We shall look forward to that. Naturally, a more accurate version of history will be found in Mr Linwood Grant’s novella A Study in Grey, his Last Edwardian stories and his forthcoming collection A Persistence of Geraniums, but let’s not quibble. You can also find further Hodgsonian goodness in books such Carnacki: The Lost Cases, and Sam Gafford’s fascinating Hope Hodgson journal Sargasso. Amazon UK and US links below.



All of the modern authors above will be found in the pages of Occult Detective Quarterly, Issue 2 of which is available on Amazon now (see right-hand sidebar). Additional details of Carnacki pastiches, follow-ups and so on can be found here:

carnacki – the second great detective

And that’s quite enough Ghost Finding for one day, we think.

Next time: We haven’t a clue – but there will be something weird…

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Lizzie Borden – Skipping the Dark Fantastic

Firstly, it was a hatchet not an axe, and no, Ms Borden did not deliver a series of eighty one deadly blows to her parents, despite what it says in the skipping rhyme. If she did it at all. Today we interview Christine Verstraete, author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, sidestep into a couple of aspects of the Borden case itself, and generally do what we do. Oh, and we mention the forthcoming film as well.


So who’s the focus here? Lizzie Andrew Borden (1860 – 1927) became rather too famous for her own liking after being tried and acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892. She may well have committed the crime, but the technical evidence was circumstantial, and there were other suspects. These included a local labourer, the Irish maid Bridget Sullivan, a suggested illegitimate son of Andrew Borden, and Lizzie’s maternal uncle. None of them, however, fitted the bill as well as Lizzie herself.

Lizzie Borden

Her father Andrew Borden was a rich man, but miserly and not always popular in the town. The Bordens had been landowners in the area for a very long time:

“In 1703, Benjamin Church, a prominent veteran of King Philip’s War, established a sawmill, a gristmill and a fulling mill on the Quequechan River. In 1714, Church sold his land, including the water rights, to Richard Borden of Tiverton and his brother Joseph. (This transaction would prove to be extremely valuable 100 years later, helping to establish the Borden family as the leaders in the development of Fall River’s textile industry.)” (Wiki)

His cheapskate ways and his second marriage, after the death of Sarah Borden, the mother of his children, caused friction. There were reasons for the Borden sisters, Lizzie and Emma, to dislike their step-mother Abby, whose family seemed to be benefiting over-much from money which should have eventually come to them. Widely covered in the press at the time, the case became one for considerable debate, especially in terms of sexuality and gender politics.

Eileen McNamara, of Brown University, argues that incest could have played a role, citing the extreme violence of the attacks—the first few blows were sufficient to kill each of the Bordens. She conjectures that if Lizzie or Emma were subject to abuse by their father, it would explain the apparent frenzy.

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

As we love a good complicated mystery, it’s probably worth mentioning that veteran author Ed McBain even covered the case with his own theory, involving a lesbian relationship between Lizzie Borden and the maid Bridget.

And Rafia Zakaria, writing in The Guardian earlier this year, discussed various interpretations subsequently put upon the Lizzie Borden affair:

“Where people had previously fixated on the binaries of guilt or innocence in Borden’s case, radical feminists focused on oppression and liberation. Lizzie was expiated – whether or not she was innocent.

“Where Lizzie’s contemporaries speculated about her criminality, and radical feminists about her oppression, this century just seems to enjoy the opportunity for kitsch and gore. In 2016, for instance, CA Verstraete suggested that Borden may have killed her parents because they were already dead, in her novel Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.”

Not that feminism and gore need to be exclusive of each other in horror literature. Anyway, we’ll come to C A Verstraete in a second, as promised. We will add first that, in addition to written fictional, factual and even factional pieces on Lizzie Borden, the film industry had been there too, most recently in the TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014). Christina Ricci, who starred as Lizzie, described this version as “self-aware, campy, and tongue-in-cheek”.


Now there’s a new, far more serious film on its way, due late 2017, which is said to treat the matter more as a dark psychological drama, with a touch of the Gothic. As Lizzie features Chloë Sevigny as Lizzie Borden and Kristen Stewart as Bridget Sullivan, it seems likely that this version will explore the relationship between the two women in some depth. We expect a lot of intense staring.

Lizzie, coming 2017
Lizzie, coming 2017

But it’s interview time. Let’s go to someone who has put a very different twist on Lizzie Borden, and ask a few questions…

An Interview with Christine Verstraete


greydog: Christine, welcome to greydogtales. Maybe you could start by telling us how the idea of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter came to you. Flash inspiration, something you read, or a long, slow germination?

christine: Thanks for letting me stop by your blog! I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Lizzie Borden. And after looking at the autopsy photos and records, I realized another theory could be offered for why the victims had been so viciously killed – and repeatedly hit in the head… they’d turned into zombies. It made perfect sense.

greydog: It’s more persuasive than some of the other theories we’ve read. So, we’re back in 1892. What do you find are the challenges of writing period fiction? Did you seek a late Victorian ‘voice’, or did you opt for a more contemporary style?

christine: It’s pretty hard, and hard on the reader, I think, to stick with formal English, so I tried to use modern English but without modern words. I stuck in references to the time period as I could, but some of Lizzie’s actions were a bit more modern, perhaps. Of course, Victorian life wasn’t as staid behind closed doors as we think, so some of her actions could be possible. After all, it’s not everyday you’re facing the gallows—and fighting zombies. Kind of changes your perspective, I’d say.


greydog: You obviously researched the actual case. Did you get any feeling as to what actually happened, and if the real Elizabeth Borden did kill her parents?

christine: I did a lot of reading on the crimes, the news of the day, and of the inquest and trial transcripts. Though she is guilty, in a sense, in my version of events, I still can’t quite decide whether she did it or not. It certainly seems that way, but there’s no real evidence or proof. It’s all circumstantial…

greydog: Do you think there’s a ‘statute of limitations’ issue when drawing on real-life killings? Characters like The Ripper and Lizzie Borden belong to a time which seems distant enough for many writers, but is there a stage at which it becomes inappropriate to ‘go there’ for purely fictional purposes?

christine: I think once a crime is at least 100 years old, it does put it into a different time frame. It’s of the past century and open to more interpretation. Some crimes like say, the Black Dahlia murder while just as sensational, still seem too close in time. But maybe it’s more a feeling of a crime being more open to interpretation and fictional treatments once it’s at least a generation or more away.

greydog: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the Jane Austen/zombie reworking by Seth Grahame-Smith, was a more parodic take, really. Is your Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter played straight?

christine: As straight as putting zombies in anything can be realistic, I suppose. But I did write it as if it is a real-life event. It’s the reason for the murders, and fits around the changes in Lizzie’s world with the real-life trial and a few other events in her life. I felt it important to not ignore the important and real parts in her life as that is what most people know about who Lizzie Borden is and was.

greydog: You also wrote GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, a contemporary piece. This is more of a Young Adult take, isn’t it?


christine: Yes, I wanted to try something different by showing a teen’s view and how her life changes when she turns part-zombie. So it’s ‘angsty’, and humorous, and full of quirks, and well, no, she doesn’t eat “that.”

greydog: The zombie theme runs and runs, much to our surprise. What do you see as its fascination?

christine: It has to be a contrast, a way of coping, to all the real-life horrors maybe? There’s so much going in on in our world today, so what better way to personify those things than with zombies? They’re the monsters in our life that can be seen and hopefully controlled when all else seems, and is, out of our control.

greydog: And what’s next from your pen? Is there more Borden to come?

christine: I loved writing about Lizzie and don’t want to give her up just yet. Coming out soon is The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River. This is a supernatural-flavored mystery novella set in Lizzie’s hometown, and told from the point of view of her doctor and neighbour. I also have been writing some short mysteries with her as the investigator. Then, of course, I have some ideas for a follow-up to Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.


It’s a fun, scary world that I’m enjoying writing about and others seem to enjoy reading about, so, I’m happy and want to keep the readers happy, too!

greydog: Good luck with your continued explorations, and thanks for calling in.

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is on offer until the 15th July.

About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter:

Every family has its secrets…


One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?




Over the next few days on greydogtales – The lurchers go to the seaside, and some more William Hope Hodgson scares. If you want to be warned which is which, subscribe for free via the top left hand corner…

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Literature, lurchers and life