Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Noctuary by Greg Chapman

After the publication of his first novella Torment in 2009, Australian author Greg Chapman shifts gears in a largely new direction and creates, via The Noctuary, a dark and wandering homage to the tales of old to have inspired him on his journey to publication. Dedicated to both E.A Poe and Clive Barker, respectively, a reader will find snapshots of both those muses layered throughout the writing style but interspersed with a brand new voice slowly gaining louder momentum and pitch with each new story to come along.

Simon Ryan is a strung out writer looking to escape the mundane world of writing cheesy biographies for pittance. He dreams of finding an audience for his darker work that would validate his talent as a scribe for fiction. A human audience. What he soon discovers is there is another audience of a different being entirely … one that lives just beyond the curtain of night and waits patiently for the right voice to come along. His name is Meknok, and he resides in Hell.

A demon muse appearing to would-be scribes in physical form, the creature offers Simon a chance to not only pen tales of horror, but to rewrite history itself for the entertainment of Hell’s legions. Soon Simon is battling a force of wills that will not only see him travel back in time to right childhoods wrongs – but he will walk the halls of purgatory itself and come to understand those who reside there are even more devious in true form than the most sophisticated imaginings of our greatest horror writers.

Like his previous debut, The Noctuary is a short excursion – but it will certainly appeal to all the fledgling dark fiction writers out there. Whether it’s Stephen King composing about the creative process or someone like Greg Chapman, there is something oddly comforting about taking a journey encapsulating the inventive pain some of us know all too well. Simon Ryan is the everyman in every writer – and a character resembling the author’s profile enough that at times The Noctuary leans more toward metafiction. Here, Greg has created the infant seeds of a new mythology, one rich enough for an encore performance.

There are a number of up and coming writers in the Australian echelon deserving of serious attention, and Greg Chapman is at the top of my list to break through sooner rather than later. His stories are compulsory mainstream – yet have just enough unorthodox slippage in the narration to appeal to an alternative audience. Taking off my professional voice I will state that I know Greg Chapman somewhat, and he is a person that cares about his audience and work. A more authentic writer is hard to come by. 

The Noctuary is available now in both print and digital formats. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


Talented author and artist Greg Chapman was commissioned to do a cover of my forthcoming novella SLANDER HALL. I adore it - this embodies a vintage feel and above all encapsulates the verisimilitude.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feather By David Rix

Feather is an intricate latticework of nine separate novellas introducing the reader to an original form of storytelling. Set against the backdrop of ocean and sea, David Rix introduces us to his dark and often complicated muse: Feather the wandering girl – an orphaned eccentric who embodies the nomadic spirit. Someone who flits into people’s lives, touches them with magic, and ultimately flits away again … often leaving battered souls in her wake. 

With the opening novella, Yellow Eyes, Rix gives us perfect overture for this atypical protagonist: the story of a childhood spent living on the outskirts of a haunted wasteland (her only company that of a domineering Father), one who has escaped the modern world and deprived Feather a normal life in the process. After escaping this bleak environment, Feather returns to the only world she knows intimately: sand and sea. Here she meets Jimmy Ward, and a close attachment ensues. (The prose here is often littered with bullet-pointed snippets of signs and revelations that give insight into both character's – an unusual form of pacing).

Touch Wood sees the character of Feather shifting into lives in the modern world. Always told from another central character, Touch Wood a small narrative of love espoused in a bar. Although it features a highly unlikable protagonist, it’s blended with both the spiritual and philosophical: the study of particle physics and their relation to the world of being human. 

A central and larger novella, The Magpies introduces us to another character on Feather’s periphery … one who lives in isolation in the Southern European Mountains – a locale where she hopes to find a musical muse. After discovering a dead Magpie on the front stoop, it sends off a chain reaction of feathered ghosts and macabre scenery, ushering her into a confrontation with the muse.

In Book Of Tides Feather again returns to the sea and meets another unlikely male companion: a ghost writer who sees every tale in the next tide. With Feather’s arrival, it brings in a story of death – one forcing her to ultimately leave again with a dawning knowledge stories themselves are the enemy.

Another long novella, To call the Sea opens the curtain to Feather attending College. Another rag-tag cast is assembled, a hundred different artistic outlooks – each one like a moon to Feather’s Jupiter. Abruptly normal college life bursts into an alternate dimension … one like a portal into that strange sea-world Feather inhabits. It's a confusing climax – you never know whether to feel palpably perplexed or just enchanted. As a collective whole, the tales seem like an epic vehicle for the author’s syntax.

It’s the final stories, however, that are crowing jewels.  Displaying a less cerebral style which still showcases a sharp sting, we follow Tallis through the streets of LjubLjana. These are bleak and functional spaces ... one that may remind a reader of Clive Barker's early stylings traversing the streets of Liverpool.

Overall Feather is like one of the more slipstream stories one might encounter in high-school, yet bristling at the seams with unconventional horror. It's a book that potentially serves as a strange metaphor for the author's personal character ... at turns both mythic and seductive.