I was delighted and honoured to have a short story accepted for the first ever Spectral Press Christmas Ghost story annual. Here is a review and an interview with me from the prestigious Ginger Nuts of Horror blog….

A Taste of Almonds by Raven Dane

After the first two rather dark and oppressive stories, the tone is further lightened with Raven Dane’s tale of a put upon husband, and his attempts to poison his vindictive wife, and escape to the warm embrace of another woman. This is another well written story, that manages to pull of the difficult task of creating a horror story that is both unsettling and funny at the same time. Both of these feelings come from the descriptions of Bleakley’s wife’s poison induced transformation from cold hearted woman to well, you’ll just have to read it find out.

This is a skill that a lot of authors don’t have, and the story never strays into silly parody territory, which helps to maintain the chill factor.

Today it’s the turn of Raven Dane. Her first steampunk novel won the Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, award. The first of a new series, it was voted Steampunk Novel of the Year by the international steampunk community. It is available in paperback and on Kindle from Prosochi.

An Interview With Raven Dane

Can you tell us little bit about yourself?

I’m the odd one that slipped through the net for this book. I am a dark fantasy and steampunk writer and horror is the genre I read avidly but do not write. A true child of the Celtic Twilight with an Irish mother and Welsh father, I live in an ugly but cosy housing association semi surrounded by stunning views of the Chiltern Hills in Bucks. I have always written, mainly failed and utter pants attempts at SF sagas during a disorganised and chequered career bouncing from journalism, shop work and training horses for film work. Everything changed when I switched genres to dark fantasy and was published in 2006 with the first of the Legacy of the Dark Kind series, Blood Tears. Blood Lament and Blood Alliance followed as did a scurrilous spoof of all things High Fantasy called The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire. I fell totally under the spell of steampunk in 2008 and after years lurking in the community’s shadow, launched Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron, my first novel in the genre in 2011. For me there is no greater honour than to have the book endorsed and enjoyed by the international steampunk community so you can imagine my delight when it was voted Novel of the Year in September 2012 at the inaugural Victorian Steampunk Society Awards.

All my existing novels are with Endaxi, a wonderful, small but dedicated and highly professional press. I am still available for weddings, bar mitzvahs etc…

Why did you decide to submit a story to this anthology?

Desperation to have something published by Spectral Press. I remember giving Simon Marshall Jones a lift to a convention a few years ago and he mentioned he was thinking of starting a small press, even had the name ready. Within a few short years he has created an amazing company with such high standards and many excellent and desirable publications. Who wouldn’t want to have work published by such a cool team and with the inaugural annual ghost story collection!

Can you tell us what to expect from your story?

An evocation of the underbelly of respectable Victorian life where dalliance in the forbidden can have unexpected consequences….That sounds pretentious…it’s just a creepy story set in the days of gas lamps and hansom cabs.

What was the best and the worst Christmas present you ever received?

I remember the worst so well. I always looked forward to the present from my father, as I was a mercenary little cow. It was always something unusual, extravagant and expensive. Until the year he clearly lost the plot. One was a paperback book about the Who, not a band I have ever followed and a thing which while still wrapped up looked like a wooden dildo complete with balls. It was embarrassing to open in front of the family to say the least….it turned out to be a back massager…er…thanks Dad. The best? Probably the first present bought by my son with his own money…a two foot high, talking Captain Jack Sparrow model….always in pride of place by my PC.

Who or what would you least like to be haunted by at Christmas?

This is easy…the horrific spider babies from The Ash-tree by M R James. It was adapted in 1975 as a drama called The Ash Tree and was part the BBC’s brilliant ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas’ series. I watched it at a friend’s home and was so terrified, I had to be walked home by one of her brothers. Who I ended up going out with, so not all bad. That play freaked me out badly for weeks and being a big wuss, still cannot watch that episode after all these years.

Can you tell us about any future projects?

I am desperate to get on with the third in the Cyrus Darian steampunk series, in fact he is driving me crazy to get it started. But I also want to finish a collection of eerie and macabre short stories called Absinthe and Arsenic, all with a Victorian or steampunk theme. I have a finished alternative history/supernatural novel provisionally called Prince of Ravens which is set in 1066. Pagan magic versus steam-driven Normans where William the Bastard gets pecked to death by vengeful corvids. I am also working on a book set in 1950s Britain, very much in the vein of the wonderful black and white horror movies of the period such as the Quatermas films. Did I say I didn’t write horror?