GUEST POST: Bloodwood – the Official Author Soundtrack

JB’s NOTE: Writing across a variety of genres Madeleine D’Este has consistently delighted me. With her most recent release, the horror/dark comedy Bloodwood, Madeleine ups the ante by offering something new under the sun: a fresh (pardon the word play) take on the undead. Knowing my fascination with how music and narrative intertwine, she has graciously shared her soundtrack for the story.

Bloodwood – how do you fight a vampire in Australia?

Bloodwood is a tale of ecological funerals and roaming revenants set in the fictitious town of Ludwood in the Goldfields region of Victoria, Australia. When I first got the idea for Bloodwood, I knew I wanted to bring a new spin on the tired vampire cliches, and Bloodwood questions whether the old world folklore would apply in a new land.

To put readers in the right spooky mood, I’ve collated an official author soundtrack, a list of dark songs from Australian and elsewhere. Although Bloodwood is not all grim – there are sparks of dark Australian humour throughout, and so I’ve thrown in a few cheesy tracks to lighten the mood.

DEAD EYES OPEN – SEVERED HEADS

An Australian dance music classic, a song which frightened many youngsters with its strange spooky vocals about the murder of Emily Kaye.

And then the dead eyes opened…

BELA LEGOSI’S DEAD – BAUHAUS

As Brigitta, the strange East European backpacker, says…‘The truth is very different to Hollywood… The creatures are not well-dressed aristocrats. Vampires are monsters. Pure and animalistic.’

TOZ – JAKUZI

During the bleak days of final edits of Bloodwood, I listened to this album from the dark synth Turkish bank Jakuzi on repeat and absorbed myself into the deep vocals.

GALLOW DANCE – LEBANON HANOVER

More gothy mood setting with Lebanon Hanover with their Joy Division meets Swiss Neko vocals sound.

A GOOD HEART – FEARGAL SHARKEY

Wait, what? A vampire book and Feargal Sharkey? Ten points for any reader who has spotted the reference.

THE CULLING – CHELSEA WOLFE

The current queen of goth indie rock, Chelsea Wolfe. Sparrow, the gothy high school work experience kid would listen to Wolfe over and over in her dented hatchback as she drove through the empty dark country roads of Ludwood in search of a revenant.

DAY-O – HARRY BELAFONTE

A song which strangely has taken on a supernatural life of its own

TAINTED LOVE – SOFT CELL

Shelley, Bloodwood’s main character, loves a car singalong to commercial radio and Soft Cell’s cover of Tainted Love is a classic pop banger.

And a song which plays on Shelley’s mind.

BACK IN BLACK – AC/DC

Where would an Australian soundtrack be without some Acca-Dacca? While I prefer old school Bon Scott era AC/DC myself, I picture Back in Black playing in the background as the kitted-up Shelley and Brigitta approach the revenant’s lair in slow motion.

“If a soul is laid to rest

With a perched black crow as its guest

And then a shadow crosses the pall

And a mourner’s tear does fall

Dry your tears and beware

Cross yourself and prepare

Below the soil, new life brews

It’s the living it pursues”

Bloodwood

Bloodwood – how do you fight a vampire in Australia?

Nothing interesting ever happens in sleepy, rural Ludwood. Not until undertaker Shelley sets up shop with her eco-friendly burials.

Her latest funeral, farewelling an environmental legend, was meant to help her struggling business – even the gatecrashing priest condemning her heathen ways didn’t damper her spirits. Much.

But when frightening screeches wake Shelley in the middle of the night days later, she finds an empty grave and things start to go wrong. Horribly wrong. Like vicious attacks in Ludwood wrong.

Were the priest’s protests of blasphemy right? Has Shelley unwittingly unleashed the undead and reduced the headcount in Ludwood instead of reducing their carbon footprint?

And where does Shelley even start? There’s no manual for hunting vampires in the bush!

Madeleine D’Este

Growing up in Tasmania, obsessed with books and the shadows at the end of the bed, Madeleine now writes dark mysteries and female-led speculative fiction. Her supernatural mystery novel The Flower and The Serpent was nominated for the Australian Shadow Award for Best Novel 2019.

Her latest release, Bloodwood is available at Amazon.

You can contact Madeleine at www.madeleinedeste.com or @madeleine_deste on Twitter.

GUEST POST: The Flower and The Serpent – Official Author Soundtrack

JB’s NOTE: I recently had the pleasure of discovering The Flower and the Serpent by Madeleine D’Este, a remarkable and adult-friendly YA tale straddling the line between horror and supernatural mystery set in 1992 Tasmania. Knowing my fascination with how music and narrative intertwine, Madeleine was gracious enough to sit down and assemble a soundtrack for the story.


Picture yourself in 1992, in Hobart, Tasmania.

These were the days of no internet, when Tasmania was an isolated island at the bottom of the world and new music came from the radio or television – Triple J and Rage or magazines like the NME.

This is the setting of my latest novel, The Flower and The Serpent, a supernatural mystery set during a high school production of Macbeth.

To help you immerse yourself into the world of The Flower and The Serpent, I’ve curated an official author soundtrack. It contains a selection of songs my characters would have liked around the early 90s and a few atmospheric pieces which inspired me during the writing process.

Don’t Go Now – Ratcat

A poppy breezy Australian early 90s classic, Ratcat was a permanent fixture on the stereo at teenage parties in the early 90s.

 

Tomorrow Wendy – Andy Prieboy

A dark depressing song for the teenage bedroom angst.

 

Connected – Stereo MCs

At a time when electronic music left the clubs and re-entered the mainstream.

 

Hieronymus – The Clouds

Another indie music Australian classic with a little more of an intellectual edge.

 

Leave Them All Behind – Ride

An epic shoegaze classic.

 

Higher Than The Sun – Primal Scream

Perfect for skating through the empty suburban streets at night with a joint in hand.

A Forest – The Cure

The classic Cure track which conjures up dark forests and spooky things within them.

 

Wardenclyffe – S U R V I V E

Readers have likened The Flower and The Serpent to Stranger Things, which is interesting because I didn’t make it past episode 1 of the TV show. Perhaps the similarity is due to the music. While writing the book, I avidly listened to S U R V I V E and two of the members of the band are responsible for the Stranger Things soundtrack.

 

Titel 2 – Bohren & Der Club of Gore

1992 was also the era of Twin Peaks and Bohren & Der Club of Gore continued the ‘doom jazz’ spirit of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack with their own languid dread-laden jazz.

——————–

The Flower and The Serpent – Modern day Shakespeare meets supernatural mystery with this nail-biting young adult horror.

Who am I?

Madeleine D’Este is a writer, reviewer and podcaster from Melbourne, Australia. A lover of folklore, black coffee and dark synths, find out more at www.madeleinedeste.com or connect with her on Twitter at @madeleine_deste.

 

 

Welcome to Junzt County, Texas, Population: Weird

Lovecraft has Arkham…

King has Castle Rock…

Campbell has his unique take on the Severn Valley…

Invariably, those who write horror seem to want their own creation they can revisit time and time again. I am no different. This August, my creation, Junzt County, comes out and takes a walk in “Totmann’s Curve,” a 35,000 word novella included as part of Sockhops & Séances, an anthology of horror set in the 1950s, from 18th Wall.

Texas Hill Country

If you ask me, the part of Texas best suited for rich, atmospheric horror is neither the broken deserts and vast plains of the lonely west nor the impenetrable pine forests and swamps of the “boy, you got a pretty mouth” east. Rather, it is the rolling hills, shadowy valleys, and dark-fairytale woodlands of the Hill Country. Stretching about 100 miles west from Austin and San Antonio, many groups, most notably Germans and Eastern Europeans, settled there … each bring their own traditions, folklore, and whispered fears about what haunts the dark. The place feels old, older than anywhere in Texas has any business feeling.

Spme of the Hill Country’s German settlers cut loose and clown for the camera.

So, that’s where I brought Juntz County to life, lovingly populating it with it everything needed for my macabre purposes. Brockenberg, the legend-shrouded vast granite dome rising over county’s center.  Goethe College, an ivy-covered institution established by scholars fleeing an academic schism at the University of Gottingen (and bringing the more, um, unusual parts of its library with them).  Koenigsburg State Hospital, mysteriously burned in the 1980s and many of its patients never accounted for. Thale, a tiny village deep in the hills, perpetually surrounded by ill-rumor and tragedy. And, of course, burger joints, honky-tonks, auto shops, local radio station KJZT, and all the other infrastructure of “normal” everyday life.

Here’s the kicker, originally I created Junzt County not for narrative fiction but table-top roleplaying. It came to life for a Call of Cthulhu campaign I ran the better part of a decade ago, pitting a party of college students all enrolled in the same local folklore class against a mysterious amulet, the supernal forces tied to it, and the (obligatory) cultists trying to recover it. It was a great campaign (thanks, especially, to some great players) and, even at the time, I grasped the location’s potential as a setting for fiction.

Western Swing, Hill Country Style

Before there was “Totmann’s Curve,” there was “So Lonesome I Could Die.” My first published Junzt Country story, in the anthology Descansos, was a musically-themed Texas Gothic ghost story set during the Great Depression. While “Totmann’s Curve” is an entirely self-contained, stand-alone narrative, anyone who has read “So Lonesome I Could Die” will discover several Easter Eggs revealing what has become of some of the earlier story’s characters … and hinting at the resolution to one of its biggest mysteries.

Koenigsburg hot-rodders park on the town square before going for a burger and a malt (actually, Kerrville, Texas)

What of “Totmann’s Curve,” then? It’s a faced-paced 1950s tale of ghosts, teenage hot-rodding, and evil sorcerers serving dark entities. After the tragic deaths of two teens during an illegal road race, increased police attention forces the local hot-rodders to move their activities farther into rural parts of the county. At first, the new race route seems perfect. But the roads have a history of their own … and fender-benders caused by a pretty blonde ghost wearing a white wedding dress are only the beginning of the racers’ troubles. Something in the deep hills is very unhappy about the kids being there.

Oldsmobile “Rocket 88” belonging to Hot-Rodder Jack “Jockey” Groce, Junzt County Historical Society Museum

Can good-natured all-American hot-rodder Sam Granger, his gearhead friend Joe Tegeler, egg-headed cousin Eleanor, the ghostly dreamboat Helene, and the rest of their gang figure out what’s going on in time to save the Saturday races … and their own skins? That is the question.

Are there other Junzt County tales? Yes. A half-dozen, scattered across a variety of time periods, are in various stages on completion. But three others, one set in the ‘40s, another in the ‘80s, and a third in the present are already finalized and resting in my computer, awaiting only a sympathetic publisher.

Sockhops and Seances, from 18th Wall, is available here.

Diving into The Green Muse

This month sees the release of my first Mythos story, “The Green Muse” part of the innovative anthology The Chromatc Courtedited by Peter Rawlik and published by 18th Wall Productions.

The Chromatic Court by [Rawlik, Peter, Morgan, Christine, Pulver Sr., Joseph S., Mackintosh, Paul StJohn, Lai, Rick, Black, Jon, Grant, John Linwood, Barrass, Glynn Owen, Harris, Micah S.]The Chromatic Court is anthology of horror/dark fantasy anthology exploring the connection between color, art, and the powerful entities of the Cthulhu Mythos, drawing especially heavily on the feel flavor, and weird meanace of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow.

As someone who has been a fan of the  Mythos since college, I’m very excited about this story, and very excited to talk about it. So, I thought I’d play Q & A with myself by sharing the author interview compiled by my publisher.

… also, I may be the first person in the history of the universe to quote Ralph Wiggum while discussing the Cthulhu Mythos.

Q) Tell us about your story?

Johannes Chazot’s Illustration for “The Green Muse.”

A) Set in the fertile artistic and literary scene of 1910s Montmartre, The Green Muse chronicles the journey of Drieu Gaudin, a novice reporter at Paris’ top arts and culture newspaper. His editor, a man of very traditional artistic sensibilities, assigns Drieu to report on the murders of several Cubist painters. Seeking to unravel the mystery behind the artists’ bizarre deaths, Drieu is challenged not only by one of Frank Belknap Long’s most celebrated creations but by encounters with the Parisian avant-gardes’ leading lights: Picasso, Modigliani, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Max Jacob.

 

Max Jacob waits to encoutner readers in “The Green Muse.”

Q) What is your favorite part of your story and why?
A) This project was a labor of love for me. For a very long time, Paris’ artistic scene in the early part of the 20 th century has captivated me and inspired voracious reading on the topic. The greatest joy of The Green Muse was breathing life into the enchanting world of 1910s Montmartre. Within that broader answer, it was especially gratifying to shine some light on poet Max Jacob, a figure unfortunately and undeservedly less well known than the other historical artists who appear in the story. Spoiler Alert: it was also exciting to expand on the fascinating yet under-explored mythology of the Hounds of Tindalos.

 

Q) Every story in The Chromatic Court details a noble,  a powerful Mythos entity, and the art form they hold sway over. What is your entity’s art and what drew you to it? 
A) As anyone familiar with my work is likely aware, music is my greatest passion among the arts. Painting, however, runs a close second. This is especially true of painting from this particular time and this particular place; as artists began grappling with the question of what the invention of photography meant for painting. Movements such as Cubism and Fauvism arose from attempts to answer that critical and vexing question. As Picasso observes in “The Green Muse…”

“Painting is dead. At least painting as you know it. Photography killed it. But, in death, painting is free. Our quest is figuring out where it goes from here.”

 

“Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!”

Q) In The Chromatic Court, every Mythos entity and their art is also tied into a specific color. What is your noble’s color, and why?
A) As revealed in the title, green. I could point out the relevance of green to the absinthe which features so prominently in the era and in the story, but as Ralph Wiggum says, “The rat symbolizes obviousness.” Less explicitly but more importantly is that color’s connection with envy, specifically the jealousy Montmartre’s artist feel for each other’s success, talent, and romantic prowess. In various forms, jealousy is a driving force for the main characters of “The Green Muse,” Drieu and Cara, as well as some of its historcial figures,  like Picasso.

Q) How do you approach writing Mythos fiction, particularly when it’s a mix of the Cthulhu Mythos and Chambers’ Yellow Mythos?
A) For me, the most important element of successful Mythos fiction is believably but compellingly conveying the protagonist’s mental journey from the comforting illusion of everyday life to the sub-rosa Mythos reality beneath. When blending Lovecraft and Chambers, the challenge is balancing the Outer Gods’ concrete if alien terrors with the latent and more diffuse menace of The King in Yellow.

Read Chapter One from “The Green Muse.”

Eggs of Horror

on the second book (still tentatively titled Caledfwlch) in my historical fiction/progressive pulp series is significantly ahead of schedule. So, with the intent of not putting all my writing eggs in a single genre basket, I am dusting off four stories I wrote earlier in the year. While none of them are quite horror, they all nibble at its edges.

In the tradition of Lovecraft’s Arkham and its environs, three of the stories are set in Junzt County, a fictional county within the Texas Hill Country. One of the most historically rich regions of the state, the Hill Country also has the advantage of being an area I’m highly familiar with and offering the right cocktail of isolation and mystery.

The Eye Teeth: Set in the 1940s, is classic weird fiction with strong Cthulhu Mythos overtones. As with my series, historical sources and research play a prominent role. A well-known politician from Texas also puts in a guest appearance in the role of quest-giver.

Pioneer House: This flashback to the 1980 blends weird fiction with an “outsider” archetype protagonist, portrayal of small town ennui, and the question of free will.

So Lonesome I Could Die: Is a 1920s Western Gothic ghost story with nods to “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The story draws heavily upon my background in music journalism for mood and atmosphere.

The fourth story, and the only contemporary tale, is The Renewal Room, the tale of a music journalist (write what you know, right?) whose quest for a forgotten bit of music history leads him to a town on California’s Salton Sea which is equal parts Arkham and Twin Peaks.

With the exception of So Lonesome I Could Die, these stories were submitted elsewhere and rejected. I will spend the next few weeks retooling and strengthening them prior to submission for other upcoming anthologies or magazines.

So, wish me luck … oh, and Ia, Ia, Cthulhu fhtagn!

Follow Jon at @BlackOnBlues on Twitter.