Category: Ghost stories


In 2013, I was deeply honoured to be the first author signed up by Telos Moonrise, a new fiction imprint of Telos Publishing, a much respected and award winning publisher. In autumn, they launched my collection of Victorian and steampunk spooky short stories, Absinthe and Arsenic.

To the inevitable sneery cynics, this had nothing to do with my friendship with two of the people involved with Telos….they are a long established and highly professional company that will only publish work of the highest quality, friendship alone would not guarantee me a place on their team of authors.

I have always thought of myself as a novelist and not having the special skills to write short stories but I found myself writing nothing but short horror and steampunk stories throughout the year for commissions and discovered I love writing them. Oddly, the title, Absinthe and Arsenic came first before I had written a word of the collection.
I know this sounds a bit up myself and apologies for that, but I am truly proud of this collection and hope readers will enjoy the book as much as I did writing it.

Here is a review by author Neil Baker on the splendid website, Hellnotes

absinthe and arsenic cover

UK-based Raven Dane has had many short stories and poems published in horror and fantasy anthologies and is the author of several novels, including the critically acclaimed Legacy of the Dark Kind series and her award-winning series of steampunk/occult novels featuring Cyrus Darian, the third of which she is currently writing.

Absinthe & Arsenic is a collection of (mostly) ghost stories chosen or specially written for the anthology by Raven Dane. She has selected works ranging from one of the earliest in her writing career (The Attic Nursery) through to very recent short stories, including an excerpt from her award-winning novel Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron.

All of the stories in Dane’s outstanding collection are rooted in the late 19th century, and it is evident that she is an enthusiastic student of the era. The terminology and speech patterns she utilizes, along with descriptive passages that swirl like fog from the pages, create wholly believable settings dripping with atmosphere into which she threads effectively chilling ghost stories.

The collection begins with a terrifically bleak pseudo-zombie uprising in The 10.15 to Lealholm and then settles down into traditional Victorian ghost stories that could have been ripped from the spines of the penny dreadfuls of the time, such is their authenticity and Dane’s skillful prose. There are no weak entries in this collection, but my personal favorites were In Insomnium Veritas, Worse Things Happen at Sea, A Taste of Almonds, Ghostlight and Heart of Brass – each of the tales being unique despite their shared timeframe.

Although ghost stories are usually things of an intimate, whispered nature, I found the two tales that book-ended the collection, The 10.15 to Lealholm and Heart of Brass, to read like film synopses, the former feeling like a 60’s Hammer period piece and the latter like an early Del Toro film by way of Poe, which made the reading of them even more enjoyable.

This accomplished collection of short stories from Raven Dane would be an excellent introduction to readers who have yet to discover her work.

David reading Absinthe

me and sis

dragonhat

Leeds Steampunk eventI am so behind in reporting events this year….so much as happened in a blur.

There was a fun signing session at Forbidden Planet, London with fellow Telos Publishing authors, Sam Stone and Stephen James Walker…and a delightful gathering of friends and new readers who turned up to support us.

I had a wonderful time at the new must attend event The Nine Worlds Geekfest as a guest author with Jonathan Green, Stephen Hunt and Toby Frost at the Steampunk Central section of this excellent new Con. Held at two Heathrow adjacent big international hotels, it was packed with enthusiastic attendees, author and media guests and was so well organised, it was hard to believe it was the first ever event.

And of course,there was the ever awesome Weekend at the Asylum in Lincoln, Europe’s award winning, biggest steampunk convivial. There were two launches for Telos authors, my collection of Victorian spooky stories Absinthe and Arsenic and the every dashing Kit Cox’s Dr Tripps Kaiju Cocktail…an a strange and truly awesome novella I thoroughly recommend. I know there were over 2000 magnificently
attired steampunks in Lincoln, I know the wonderful organisers and volunteers put on another truly memorable event. Sadly , a personal tragedy unfolding back home that I could do nothing about, meant it was all a teary-eyed blur to me. Thank goodness for all the photographs taken at the long weekend, otherwise I might of thought it was all a vivid, multihued and fantastical dream.

Somehow I even managed to get to Leeds for the day (thank you British Rail) for a charming steampunk event in their fabulous central library and art gallery. What a building…Victorian civic pride immortalised in stone and glass plus beautiful rebuilt Victorian tea room full of deliciousness.

I am busy going with the inspirational flow of a new novel at the moment, the first time in over a year, so apologies for these brief reports…. take my word…they were all really good, impeccably organised and fun events and can thoroughly recommend them!

Photos…. David J Howe of Telos Publishing reads from Absinthe and Arsenic, also with Sam Stone and Kit Cox.
Me in my Dragon Hat at the Weekend at the Asylum
My sister Claira and me at a terrible café while waiting for the Forbidden Planet signing..they took so long serving us, we legged it !
The stylish poster for the Leeds Steampunk event

The wonderful. high quality and stylish publisher Telos is starting a new fiction imprint called Telos Moonrise and the first book they will bring out is my Absinthe and Arsenic!
A collection of dark, creepy Victorian and steampunk short stories of which I am very proud.  I am over the moon that Telos has so much faith in my writing to take it on.  Absinthe and Arsenic will be in both ebook and paperbook form…publication dates to be announced soon.

Delighted and deeply honoured to be part of the Telos team.

My existing published books will continue to be with Endaxi Press who produce beautiful books with total dedication and professionalism. With a short story in an exciting collection by Spectral Press, The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, this has been the start of a busy and rewarding year.

I will also be working on the third in the Cyrus Darian steampunk series and writing a novella starring the submariner Tia Dakkar who appeared in Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde.

Below is the official announcement from the Telos website;

TELOS MOONRISE

After much consideration and planning, we are
delighted to announce the launch of Telos Moonrise, a new
digital and POD imprint for Telos, which we hope will expand to cover a wider
variety of fiction than we are currently able to undertake in the more
traditional publishing lines. Titles are planned to be made available in ebook
formats for Kindle, Kobo and Nook, and for those who still love books, all the
titles will also be available as print on demand paperbacks via
Amazon.

Consultant and editor for the imprint is Sam Stone, herself an
acclaimed and award-winning author, and she will be commissioning and looking
for titles in all four of the initial lines which are planned:

o
‘Steampunk Visions’: Explore alternate worlds, past, present and future in our
exciting new Steampunk range. There will be action, adventure and, of course,
superb gadgets.

o ‘Criminal Pursuits’: Look into the darkest depths of
the criminal mind and explore the darker side of humanity with our Crime and
Thriller titles.

o ‘Dark Endeavours’: Delve into the supernatural, urban
and dark fantasy, or the darkest horror imaginable. Or simply explore fantasy
realms and alternate worlds where anything can happen from myth and magic to
sword-wielding warriors.

o ‘Sinful Pleasures’: Brings sexual fantasies,
love or simply unbridled lust, with good strong stories, believable characters
and a large helping of erotica in all its forms.

Telos
Moonrise
launches with a ‘Dark Endeavours’ title: Absinthe
and Arsenic
, a collection of dark, mysterious and comedic tales by
award winning dark fantasy and steampunk author Raven Dane.

Details of
publication dates and other details will be available as soon as they are
confirmed. We will make submission guidelines available on the Telos site as
soon as they have been finalised, and when the range is opened for unsolicited
submissions. Please keep an eye on the Telos news page, and the Telos Facebook
page for details.

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?