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Joining the Myths and Tales series will be Vivika Widow’s Hangram. Based on the short horror story we find ourselves in search of a monster. The legendary creature known as the Hangram seeks those who have sinned. She devours their evil souls and her thirst for the blood of those who have done wrong is […]

via Can you escape the Hangram? —

One of the most surreal experiences of a writer is allowing yourself to become somebody else. Your job is to convince the reader that this particular character is real and sometimes that means convincing the reader that your creation can commit the most unspeakable acts.

In our day to day lives we are held in control by the regulations placed upon us by society. We pay heed to the law and we treat our colleagues, friends and family with respect but what if your character doesn’t? What if your character has so little compassion for their fellow man that they would think nothing of murder. What is their motive? Money? Lust? Jealously? Greed?

Giving them a motive is just the beginning. Take yourself out of your own head for a moment and into the creation that has been made. Where did it go wrong for this person? Are they a person at all? You can be there at that precious moment where something inside the mind of this character clicks and their murderous urges come racing to the surface. What is the selection process for their victims if any?

A lot of readers of my novel ‘Red Snow’ have commented on how large a body count there is, even in the genre of ‘Horror Fiction’. Without any spoilers I will explain my process. There are a lot of characters within ‘Red Snow’ who think nothing of murder. In fact an entire kingdom of people have been created who hold little value on life. How was I able to do this? Being the upstanding citizen that I am it seems far fetched that so much blood shed would occur as a result of a certain characters urges and whims. However. in order to write that you have to delve into the mind of a serial killer.

WHERE TO START…

Of course there is lots of information out there on the motives and techniques of well known serial killers such as Ted Bundy. Most serial killers follow the same general pattern. Childhood Trauma – Teen angst – not so well adjusted adult. Your character has had their own experiences. Childhood is always a good place to start. It is likely that their parents were one of two kinds; overbearing or emotionally unavailable. Both can be just as poignant in creating a serial killer. In the case of ‘Red Snow’ a particular character was hailed as something of a Goddess. Growing with the belief that she was above others and had the right to decide fate over them took away any emotional attachment to the people around her.

MOTIVES…

It’s not enough to say that a character had a terrible upbringing. There is always an option to say your character is mentally unstable but there is no originality in that. By them committing serial murder mentally unstable is suggested. Perhaps your character is a fantastical creature that needs to feed on the flesh of others. In ‘Red Snow’ that is partially true but she does gain a certain satisfaction from watching life escape others. Lust is always a popular choice but again that had to stem from somewhere. Financial gain is also likely but sometimes rather than just making a character greedy it gives the character more dimensions if there is an event causing them to need money or even something in their circumstances that is drawing the greed from them.

THE FIRST KILL…

This is an important moment in any character willing to kill. Their initial victim will set the tone for any further. Many people don’t realise it but the difference between a character who has killed in self defence and one who has been calculating can completely change the plot.

A helpless victim who managed to fight their way out of a sticky situation with blood on their hands may become an ambassador for many like them. Their prey being those who wrong others. However, a character who has been cold blooded is very unlikely to be a champion of the helpless.

How the reader feels about the first victim also sets the mood for how the character is portrayed. If their first victim is one who is antagonistic and downright unlikeable the reader may root for the killer (even though their knowledge of how a society operates would tell them otherwise). Whereas if the victim was something or someone with the reader sympathises with (children, animals, pleasant people) the killer will never be able to redeem themselves in the readers opinion.

FINALLY …

Now that the killer has made their journey and left a trail of horror behind them it is time to decide how they are to exit the story.

Pulling all the building blocks you have used to bring your monster to life their conclusion will be the last remaining impression left on by the reader.

Do they get caught? Do they face justice? Do they escape?

Each of these will offer a different feeling to the reader and your choice will depend on how you want the reader to feel when the story has ended – angry, shocked, pleased, happy.

Each story is different as is each writer so the best advice I can give for writing a perfect ending is to steer the reader down the path which offers the biggest reaction.

Happy writing!

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Granny was one hundred and four years old. She wasn’t actually my gran. She was my mother’s, mother’s mother and Granny agreed that that made her pretty great.

I’ll live forever!” she quipped on her ninety eight birthday. When she reached one hundred and two people started to agree with her.

When she turned one hundred and four she thought enough was enough. It was high time she had a funeral.

Give me my favourite blanket though. It will get cold in the winter.”

We all thought Granny was crazy but she insisted. When this particular matriarch had made up her mind there was simply no changing it.

It wasn’t the most orthodox of ceremonies. Granny waved from her casket with a great big smile on her face.

Granny, you aren’t going to have them screw that casket down are you?” I had pleaded before hand.

Now that wouldn’t make much sense now would it?” she returned with a wry smile. “How am I supposed to get up and walk about? An eternity locked down would get a little tedious.”

And so the funeral service went ahead. No one shed tears. It wasn’t what Granny wanted. Truthfully, I don’t think people quite knew how to feel, especially when Granny climbed from her casket to give a few words on her own behalf.

At ninety eight she had claimed she would live forever. She is now one hundred and twenty four and still going strong. She will fight for her rights as an otherwise deceased. She had a nice funeral and she chose a beautiful spot for her final resting place where I can visit her anytime I please. She still gives me tea and biscuits.

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Times are desperate for the people of Coldford. Once upon a time executives reduced to rummaging through their neighbours trash to find a meal. Hunting for shelter wherever they can find it – like stray cats. They’re once well tailored suits now hanging in rags. Its surreal to see proud captains of industry reduced to the indignity of soup kitchens. No where to go, no means of rising back up to their ivory towers.

My name is Samuel Crusow. When the depression hit, two industries were saved. Entertainment and news. People always need to know what’s happening in the world and people always need an escape from their reality. Luckily for me I’m with the former. I have been a freelance writer ever since finishing college. I realised quickly that no newspaper was willing to hire on a full time basis. They were fewer however, willing to buy any story I had written for them so It basically amounted to the same thing. I thought I had managed to successfully navigate through the choppy waters of recession until the day I made the discovery that beneath the harsh surface lay an even more terrifying truth.

But I get ahead of myself. I write these notes so that no one else has to suffer as I did. Chances are I will be gone by the time you read this. I will have taken my own life with the pistol I have perched at the edge of my desk. It will be my only way out.

It began just as winter was beginning to break. Autumn had held champion over the city long enough. It was time for the next season to bring its snow and hail.

The Mayor of the town – Gilford Feltz – had disappeared without a trace. That morning he had kissed his wife – a voluptuous and formidable woman named Silvia and his sixteen year old daughter, Olivia goodbye. He straightened his red power tie in the mirror and made his way to the office to wade through the city’s financial crises. If you were to believe the tabloids was largely his fault. Normally he would have been escorted to the office by some security of some kind. The citizens of Coldford riled and the very sight of the Mayor only made matters worse. However, that day he had braved it on his own. He never arrived at his office. Making his way down his street in his luxury silver car was the last anyone saw him. Some of the neighbours remembered hearing loud music blaring from his open windows as he passed which was most unlike the buttoned down, conservative man that he was.

I had been covering the story as it developed. This meant that I had been spending more time at the offices of The Coldford Chronicle which had been lapping up my articles. The Coldford Chronicle was the premier source for news and the city’s largest newspaper. It was also the provider of food on my table. I guess hiring freelances had been their way of protecting themselves. It meant that they were only paying for the material they could use when the needed it without any full time mouths to feed.

I never liked Mayor Feltz. I certainly didn’t vote for him. As I pursued the story I uncovered gambling debts and a mistress at the far end of town. His political misdeeds had been just the beginning. When I interviewed his mistress she told me that he was planning on leaving his wife (which is probably what the all say). On the morning he disappeared he had been planning on visiting her. The mistress, Cindy, had waited for him for most of the morning in her lavish apartment which the city had paid for. She flipped between anger and worry as time drew on. By the afternoon the police swamped her, acting quicker for such a public figure than they would have for ordinary folk.

His wife, his mistress and his gambling associates could offer the police no idea as to where he went. On a frosty morning weeks later I made my way to the stretch of tower blocks that housed the newsroom. My mind was occupied by ways in which I could spin the same story or offer a new angle.

Close to the office the clang of metal bins falling over drew my attention. From behind the cans crawled a middle aged man. His greasy chin was covered in thick, black stubble. Like others forced to live on the streets he still wore a suit. It was long past its better days. His eyes were dulled by the effects of alcohol. He reached out with a gloved hand and sdug out the core of an apple from the spilled waste and made breakfast of it. Sights like these were shocking when the recession first hit but the mind learned to ignore them as they became more common. The mighty had fallen and those who could help were desensitised to their plight. With very little I offer him I carried on past and into the tall grey building with the large towering sign on top that read ‘Coldford Chronicle’.

The newsroom was hot and thick with the smell of coffee. Full time reporters had become scarce but those of them who did remain in work dashed back and forth trying to perfect their articles. The approaching deadline spurred them into action like bloodhounds that had caught a scent. The brown leather satchel I carried my writing was dropped on an unoccupied table. I rested at the desk, drew out my notes and began to review them. I had to ignore the hum and chatter around me to focus on the words.

Hey Sam,” came the voice of Madeline Lower. I looked up and briefly acknowledged my long term friend. Madeline and I had been friends since college. She too was a freelance writer although she would admit her stories weren’t selling as well. It wasn’t that my writing was any better than hers, its just that the editor, Eric Waddle, was a bit of a chauvinist and what articles of hers he did accept were probably grudged. Madeline was an athletic woman in her late twenties. Her long black hair was piled on top of her head In a messy bun. Her skin was a warm bronze like she had come from a sun kissed land. Her pale blue eyes were sharp and feline like. That morning she wore a black turtle neck with a pin striped grey skirt. She sat herself on the edge of my desk with the leap of a soccer player and no feminine grace. “Waddle was looking for you,” she informed me. “He told me to kick you into his office as soon as you got here.”

Thanks,” was my reply, still absorbed in my reviewing. I brushed my auburn hair away from my face. I was always pale but I trust in those days of hard work and little reward I seemed even paler. I gathered my strength. Discussions with Waddle took a lot of energy. He was the kind of man who didn’t talk to you but talked at you.

You look like Hell,” Madeline commented – ever the crusader for honesty. “Go see what he wants and I’ll get us some coffee.

Madeline slipped off the desk and made her way to the further end of the rectangular room where the fresh coffee was being brewed.

I knocked on the oak door of the editor’s office. I could hear Eric’s voice inside having a one sided conversation. He was either conducting a telephone call or some journalist was on the listening side of a hostage situation. I pushed the door ajar. I caught a glimpse of Waddle standing behind his desk. His back was to me. He had a black telephone receiver clamped to his ear. He heard me as I stepped inside because he swivelled round, smiled and waved at me, gesturing me to sit down.

I gotta go, sweetheart,” said Eric. “If I hear anything I will let you know.”

I took the seat across the desk from Eric laying my papers on top. True to his name, Eric Waddle was a colossal man. He was a giant at foot three and a barge at two hundred and fifty pounds.

That was Silvia Feltz,” he informed me even though I hadn’t asked. “Poor thing is still in shock. Trying to piece together what happened. Gil and I go way back. He never told me he was in trouble.”

I have nothing new really,” I ventured.

Eric reached his heavy hand across and slid my papers towards him. “It doesnt matter. People can’t get enough of the story. They’re swallowing it down like buzzards and coming back for more.

I think I’ve spoken to everyone he ever met. That is everyone but you…” Eric had been quite adamant that he not be included in any of the articles but I didn’t become the reporter I was by not chancing my luck.

I have nothing to say,” Eric snatched up a glass bottle filled with whiskey and poured himself a generous share into a square shaped glass by his hand. “I asked you to come here because there is something that I wanted to talk to you about.”

Go on…”

As you know, times are tough. We can only handle best which is why they want you Samuel.”

Want me for what?” Normally I hated the name Samuel but in Eric’s case I made the exception.

I’m talking about full time,” Eric said. His face beamed with excitement.

I don’t know what to say,” I stammered.

Say yes!” he bawled before emitting roars of laughter. “These kind of opportunities aren’t easy to come by these days.”

I stood. My actions became subconscious. “That is a great offer. I am very grateful. Thank you.”

Don’t thank me, just do what you do best,” Eric dismissed, downing his glass of whiskey in one single gulp. The bottle was less expensive than he was used to but decent alcohol was difficult to come by. “You don’t have to be hanging around here all day. Go home and tell your wife the good news.”

My wife, Theresa, had studied journalism too. In fact that’s where we met. When Theresa and I married she gave up a career. Her mother blamed me for this but the truth was I had been the one tried to discourage her from dropping her changes of a job. Theresa didn’t want to take any chance on a writing career when housewife was the most stable job to be had. I never corrected my mother – in – law as to who’s decision it had been to give up. She already hated me anyway. She thought me too self absorbed to be a suitable husband for her daughter. Her concerns weren’t completely without merit. I was caught in my own world. Theresa was a large part of that world though. I couldn’t wait to tell her the news.

***

I was out of breath by the team I got home, my heart beating forcefully with exertion and excitement. The drums of anticipation crescendoed in my ears. In fumbled for my keys in the pocket of my oversized grey coat. The coat had been a kindly donation from a colleague when they saw I had nothing warm to wear through the winter. I leant against the door as I reached deeper into my pockets. The door creaked aside. It was very unlike Theresa to leave the door unlocked even when she was at home. She was a cautious little thing and home invasion robberies were on the rise.

Our humble home was on the outskirts of town. It was a small, one bedroom terrace amidst an array of similar granite buildings. What separated ours from the rest was the addition of an emerald green front door. Green was my favourite colour and it matched the shade of Theresa’s eyes. I called for my wife but there was no response. Heaps of blankets lay across the worn brown sofa which kept us warm without the cost of heating. The scent of baking apples danced from the kitchen. Theresa had been baking apple pie. She always did when she had had a rough day. The kitchen was a direct off set from the living room. I found Theresa in there lurched over the cooker. She was weeping heavily. Her mousey brown hair uncombed. When she heard my footsteps she gripped a knife that was close at hand. She stumbled backwards emitting a frightful shriek.

When she saw it was me she dropped the knife, ran at me and threw her arms around my neck. She didn’t ask why I had come home so early. It was I who asked the questions.

What happened?” My heart was now beating to a completely different rhythm.

I’m so glad you’re here. That woman was looking for you. She was horrible. Just horrible!”

Calm down,” I urged, more as a mantra to myself as I had tried to decipher what happened to get her so upset.

Theresa gathered her wits. She took a deep breath and a tear began to roll down her cheek. “A woman came asking for you…”

And who was she? What was her name?” I enquired, assuming it to be someone I had been questioning on the Feltz story.

Theresa shook her head. “She didn’t say. She had a Westcliff accent, same as yours.”

Westcliff was a small island a short distance away where I had been born. My mother had brought me to Coldford as a baby but I developed the harsh but musical tone that the accent carried listening to her.

What could she possibly have said that would have gotten you so upset?”

Theresa wandered into the living room and dropped herself amongst the blankets sobbing. “She told me that you were in danger. She told me that you would return to me one day in pieces.”

I sat beside her and put my arm around her shoulder. “That’s all nonsense, I promise.”

Theresa shuddered. “She gave me this.”

From the pocket of her skirt she gave me a card. It was a black business card. On the front read ‘Knock, Knock’ across an ominous grey door. It was a cabaret club from the look of it. One which I would visit that night and my life would be changed forever.

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Where will Sam go from here?

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EPISODE 2: DON’T COME KNOCKIN’

EPISODE 3: SLEEP TIGHT SAM

EPISODE 4: TAKE A BOW

EPISODE 5: BIG CITY KID

“Mr Baines! Mr Baines!” the little boy came running to the door to greet him. “I’ve been practising.”

“That’s good,” said Vincent as he crossed over the threshold and into the warm mansion home of the Peterson family.

“I’m getting much better,” added the little boy with pride.

Vincent sat his violin case down. “Glad to hear it.”

He doubted it. Oliver Peterson had been struggling with the same piano piece since lessons began four months before. He was a cute kid but he lacked the musical ability his mother had expected of him. He couldn’t fault his enthusiasm though. Oliver’s twin brother, Osmond, on the other hand had shown great promise on the cello.

Vincent felt long fingers grip his shoulders.

“Can you stay an extra hour this evening? The ladies are coming round and I would love to hear them play.”

‘So I can take responsibility if they sound awful?’ Vincent thought to himself.

“Of course,” he replied. As their teacher it was his responsibility anyway.

Most of the families in the mansion houses of Filton had staff to clean, cook and perform all the domestic chores. Mrs Peterson took pride in controlling these things with her own hands, whilst still finding time to head several charity committees, social chairs and school societies.

“I’ll leave you to it,” said Mrs Peterson as she dashed off to retrieve something from the oven.

Vincent followed Oliver to the music room. Osmond was seated on the stool holding his cello. He wore the white shirt and grey trousers of his school uniform but he was barefooted. Oliver sat at the piano and started pushing the keys with no melody in mind.

The identical boys in different poses seemed surreal. The features were the same but the expressions different. Their chosen instruments were different. Their sounds were different. Their screams would crescendo through the hallways of the large mansion house like an echoing choral of a tragic opera.

***

“Why do you feel that way?” asked the professor.

Vincent leaned back in the chair. It rocked a little. It gave a grudging squeak as he reached both hands up above his head and rested them on top, smoothing the brown curls beneath.

“Those two little boys have a world of Hell coming their way.”

The professor showed no emotion. “Why is that?”

“I can just tell. I can hear it every time I see them.”

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Vivika Widow has pledged proceeds from any download and paperback purchases to local charity Ragdolls UK who support girls with Turner’s Syndrome. As a sufferer of Turner’s Syndrome, Vivika set up the Ragdolls Foundation in 2013 and it remains a cause very close to her heart.

Ragdolls UK work tirelessly to raise awareness of Turner’s Syndrome, offering support and information to sufferers and their friends and family.

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For more information on their projects visit www.ragdollscharity.com

Proceeds from Vivika Widow books will help Ragdolls UK continue their mission to help girls with Turner’s Syndrome achieve their full potential.

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KEEPERS OF PEACE

Origins: Native American


Leader: Chief Sonyo Kolla


After many years of tribal warfare throughout the world the Ojibwi were formed to govern all Tribes and Clans. Their main priority is to be keepers of peace and for this the Ojibwi are highly respected throughout the world, so much so they were granted seats in the Senate House as a symbol of their authority.

Of native American decent the Ojibwi have formed friendships with many tribes worldwide.
The Ojibwi are expert negotiators but are also comprised of highly skilled warriors. They have proven to be deadly in combat when all else fails making them both feared and REVERED in equal measure.

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