Tag Archives: Occult Mystery

Curious Objects and Unforeseen Consequences

Sometimes, a seemingly innocuous object found in an unusual place can spark an equally unusual train of thought that leads to the creation of something quite unexpected. Thus it was that a year ago I happened to be holidaying in France in a rather idyllic gîte that had retained a number of its original features. One of these was its bread oven, which had long ago ceased to be used for its intended purpose, and now remained solely as an object of decoration. Whereas I was content to leave it be and pay it but the most cursory attention, my wife, imbued with a Pandora-like curiosity, insisted upon easing the grille from its mouth and looking within. Thankfully, although this action did not unleash a stream of untold horrors upon us, it, and what was inside – a handful of aged curios which included this pair of old boots – did unleash the imagination.

We challenged each other to come up with an idea for a story based upon the oven and its contents, and having mulled this over for half an hour or so, we discussed our ideas, which although both taking the supernatural as a central theme, were quite divergent in both their tone and subject matter. It was mine that proved to be the grimmer of the two, and this is what has lately come to fruition in my novelette entitled – perhaps unsurprisingly – The Bread Oven.

Although our accommodation last year happened to be in Normandy, the story was transplanted to neighbouring Brittany, from which it takes certain additional elements. Whereas it is a relatively modest piece in terms of its length, it had to wait until last week to see the light of day, as I’ve been busy with other writing projects in the interim. I’d originally intended to publish it later this year, but interruptions to the composition of my next novel led me to pause and publish this shorter piece first.

The Bread Oven is a contemporary tale, in which the past nonetheless looms large. In part ghost story, in part something else altogether, its opening may contain hints of the strangeness to come, but in all respects otherwise resembles the normal everyday world which we all inhabit. To give away any more would risk spoiling the story, so without further ado I invite you, should you dare, to enter the world of The Bread Oven.

The Year ahead in Writing

The past year has been a busy one in terms of writing and publications, with two novelettes and four novellas having seen the light of day, as well as an anthology of near 80,000 words containing five of these tales. That said, I’ve not published anything ‘new’ since February. ‘What has this slugabed been up to since then?’ you may justifiably ask yourself, taking note of this creative hiatus. Well, quite a bit, as it turns out, although nothing which has allowed me to issue anything new thus far.

Two further tales have been planned and plotted in some depth, and a third has been outlined. One of these, a mystery with occult elements, this time set in Yorkshire, is progressing well, with several thousand words already having been written. Its action plays out over three years – 1949, 1906 and 1537 – and incorporates an unexplained and unpleasant discovery made in the vicinity of Barden Tower. Another, a mystery set on Dartmoor in the early 1920s, draws upon a famously peculiar piece of period folklore that attracted the attention of the national press at the time. I take the raw bones of this legend, clothe them in a little fictional flesh, and add a suitable twist or two. The third, which is currently in a rather more embryonic state, is a contemporary tale of the supernatural and psychological horror that focuses upon the unforeseen consequences attendant upon the restoration of a church monument.

Which of the three tales outlined in the above paragraph sees the light of day first remains to be seen, for most of my time is being consumed by my other long-term project – the completion of my novel, ‘Pendrummel: Gwen Gwinnel’s Return’. It may therefore be the case that either this longer piece is published later this year, or I once again put it on the backburner to release one of the novellas/novelettes in the interim. Hopefully, you’ll find each of these tales to your taste.

If you should be curious as to what is already available, click here to begin unravelling the mystery.