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!

Exclusive: A New Short Story on Wattpad

So I’ve been secretly working on a special little project – a short story to be released on Wattpad.  Watt now?  That’s what I said.  And then I immediately felt ancient!  This is how all the kids are doing it now – reading and writing as part of an online community.   Or ‘sharing stories on a social platform that connects people through words’, as they put it. Sounds interesting right?  And with 40 million Wattpadders signing on to read free stories, who can argue with that?  Once I discovered this innovative way of reaching new readers, it really got my creative juices flowing – the result of which is Betwixt, a gothic romance short story, that I hope you will all enjoy reading.

When Catherine revisits Hollowbrook cottage on a stormy October night, she crosses paths with a mysterious stranger who is not all that he seems. On a night when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, all that is real and unreal meet in a nowhere place, at a nowhere time.

Betwixt short

The essence of Wattpad as a social platform is that writers can gain instant feedback on their work, so please feel free to comment, share and vote.  I’ll be sharing one chapter every week for the next six weeks, so to whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from the first chapter.  Happy reading 🙂

Chapter One

“We don’t get many visitors up here this time of year,” the old woman sniffed, pulling a hand-knitted cardigan tightly around herself. She looked like the kind of person who had never felt warmth in her life. Her brusque manner made it clear from the outset that she did not appreciate having to deal with guests this late in the season, or at this time of night. The old farmhouse stood at the end of a long and winding driveway, half concealed by immense pine trees and the darkening clouds that rushed across the mountains. It was late October and the rugged landscape had wrapped itself in a wild and inhospitable cloak of withering trees and faded grasses; not at all how she remembered it.

Read all of Chapter One here.