Betwixt – A gothic short story

woman-2375822_640 Credit: Enrique Meseguer

I love gothic novels. Everything from Edgar Allen Poe to Laura Purcell, Bram Stoker to Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I find the blend of dark romanticism, ominous characters, decaying grandeur, curses and the supernatural simply irresistible. My favourite novel as a teenager was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Set on the desolate and uninviting moors, with its harsh climate provided the perfect backdrop for a gothic romance and reminded me so much of Ireland, that I felt strangely connected to it. I was also really drawn to the anti-heroes Heathcliff and Cathy – their willful nature, their intensity. But it’s the structure of the story and the supernatural elements that infuse it with a sense of mystery and fear.

I was less enamoured by my penchant for the macabre when staying at a friend’s cottage in the middle of the Irish countryside, miles from anywhere. It was the longest night of my life (I was supposed to stay there for a week. Plans changed!). Nestled (or buried – depending on how you want to look at it!) at the base of a hill , it was a traditional thatched cottage with dinky windows and a half door. The smell of turf almost knocked me over as we walked inside, but I tried to be cool with the gloom and the damp. And the fact that, despite it being the height of summer, inside was a million degrees cooler than outside.

That night however, I stopped being cool with everything when the noises started. Every creak made me jump. It didn’t help that the room was full of religious icons, leering over me. The distinct sound of a chair being scraped across the floor left me rigid in the bed. I had to risk my arm being snatched by who knew what to switch on the lamp. I gave up on sleep and sat in an armchair by the smokey fire until it was light enough to pack up and go back to civilisation. But not before my companion told me the history of the house, and how we were not the first to leave the place in a hurry.

This, dear reader, was the inspiration for my gothic short story, Betwixt which is currently a number one bestseller on Amazon! I wrote it in 2015, before The Story Collector, as a little side project, so it’s a thrill to see it doing so well and garnering such positive reviews. Like all indie authors, I struggle to get my work promoted and break into new readerships. So I have made this short story permanently free on all platforms (Kobo ~ Apple) so readers can get an introduction to my writing before buying all of my books!

Betwixt is the perfect quick read for this time of year – it’s atmospheric and haunting and inspired by a true story (eek!) So download your FREE copy now and if you enjoy it, I would love if you could share the love by passing it on to a friend and/or leaving a short review. They make a HUGE difference to how books are ranked on Amazon, which in turn can really impact on an author’s career. True story! You can have all the PR in the world, but it is readers who have the greatest influence. So thank you to everyone who has made this book number one and to those of you about to read it, let me know what you think!

Fancy a quick read…

Betwixt short

To all of my readers, past and present, I hope you enjoy this atmospheric short story (with a nod to the Gothic genre), which is now available to download for free here:

Barnes & Noble     Kobo     iTunes     Smashwords  Amazon

Please leave a review and let me know what you think!  And for just 99p, you can get a copy of my debut novel, The Cross Of Santiago.  If you like history, adventure, romance and strong characters, you’re sure to love it.

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy

Betwixt – Chapter 3

Betwixt short Betwixt – chapter 3

Here is another excerpt from my new short story, available to read for free on Wattpad.  Enjoy!

“Hello? Can you hear me?” Catherine shrieked, as she rushed to her knees and put her arms around the man. He was wearing a very large, thick woollen over coat. No wonder she didn’t see him, she thought.

“Please, are you alright?” It was a stupid question, considering she had just hit him with her car, but the mind is wired towards optimism, even in the direst of circumstances. As though possessed by a person far more clear thinking and efficient than herself, she ran back to the car and flicked on her hazard lights. She grabbed a blanket from the back seat; she must have seen someone doing it on TV. She ran back and spread the blanket around him, already feeling better for being useful.

To her infinite relief, she could feel his body moving as he started to come round.

Read the full chapter here.

Betwixt – Chapter Two

Betwixt short

Hello everyone!  Just wanted to let you know that the second installment of Betwixt is now available to read on Wattpad.  Here’s a little teaser:

Chapter Two

Lost in her reverie, Catherine had also lost her bearings on the road and wasn’t sure if she had already passed the cottage.   There was a small space to pull the car in at a gate to a field on the left hand side, where she stopped to have a think. Everything looked the same in the darkness. Shapes and shadows loomed ahead, offering no clues as to what direction she should be heading. Instinctively, she thought about calling Nathan for help. That momentary lapse of reason was enough to send her to the depths of her grief.   She cradled her head in her arms, leaning against the steering wheel, but still no tears came. Just an ache in her chest and the sour taste of resentment in her mouth. ‘What am I doing here?’ she thought to herself, not for the first time since setting out on her journey. She thought it might help, being in a place where they had been so happy together.   Their home was still tainted by all of the painful memories she just couldn’t bear to deal with. Being there, in his absence, was almost suffocating her.

Just then, a car approached from the opposite direction, its headlights casting a temporary light on her surroundings.   She could see the bridge was still further ahead. Immeasurably grateful for the driver’s impeccable timing, she shifted her focus back to the present and started the engine once again. ‘You’re doing the right thing’, she told herself, in that positive self-talk the grief counsellor had advised, and she shifted gears. ‘A nice cup of tea and a warm fire and you’ll be fine,’ she continued, feeling a little better already.

You can read the rest of the chapter here.  Enjoy 🙂