Writer of Weird Fiction and Masher of Notes for the Broken-Hearted

Tag: AJ Reid (Page 1 of 2)

News Update

A quick round-up of latest news about the books:

The British Library

I’m pleased to announce that nearly all of my recent publications have now been requested by The British Library, GREY NOISE and THE KNIGHTS OF SNOWDONIA being the most recent.

SEPPUKU Launch

My latest collection of short stories was published in May and enjoyed some chart success upon release and promotion in the Occult and Psychology categories. Thanks to all who bought it.

THE HORSEMAN’S DREAM Reviews and Articles

Massive thanks to all my reviewers (even the mean ones). I appreciate you taking the time. Check out Ian D. Hall’s website Liverpool Sound and Vision for film, book and music reviews. I should also mention that Ian is an excellent author himself and his latest novel can be found here.

This article was featured in Heswall Magazine recently. Many thanks to the editor for including me.

THE HORSEMAN’S DREAM for Sale in Local Bookshops?

THD is currently under review for sale in a well-known local independent bookshop called Literally. Based in New Brighton, they run a brisk trade in all kinds of literature and seem keen to help out independent authors. Well worth a visit next time you’re up in NewBo.

New Book Trailers

Forthcoming Poetry Collection

MARSHMALLOWS is currently undergoing a final draft and should be released before the end of summer 2022.

THE HORSEMAN’S DREAM NFT Gallery

Polygonal digital art NFTs set in the world of The Horseman’s Dream. If you’d like to buy one as a collectible and help support the writing of my next book, make me an offer! Check them out here.

Upcoming Radio Interview

Looking forward to an interview with local station New Brighton Radio about the books and such in the next few weeks. Keep your dials tuned!

That’s All, Folks

That’s about it for book news. Thank you to those kind souls who have gone out of their way to leave me reviews. If you’ve read any of the books, but still not left a review, please don’t be shy. It helps me out as an independent author HUGELY. Hope you’re all enjoying the recent publications and that you have a wonderful weekend.
AJ X

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Grey Noise Now Available in Paperback

Buy

UK readers buy GREY NOISE HERE

US readers buy GREY NOISE HERE

What is the Grey Noise?

Grey noise is random noise whose frequency spectrum follows a psychoacoustic equal loudness curve. In other examples, we can find pink noise, brown noise and the most familiar one, white noise. For our protagonist, Patrick McDonagh, it’s the bane of his life. He finds himself driven to unspeakable acts in trying to quieten its constant ringing in his head. These acts eventually lead him to become entwined with the criminal underworld where he is offered a chance to turn around his miserable existence.

What Inspired Grey Noise?

Having served time as both performer and sound engineer, I came to understand the dynamic between these two roles as vital, but often fraught with all kinds of tension and misunderstandings. Once, when I was working with a sound engineer on a full album project, we became quite good friends and he admitted to me that he kept a list of musicians he’d like to murder, which I found hilarious. Doubly so upon checking his list and recognising many of the names. He was such a gentle guy with a great sense of humour, but there was a glint in his eye that made me wonder just how well I knew him.

Another engineer from very early in my career also provided inspiration as I worked in the same studio as him for several years. He was so unassuming and quiet that few people ever gave him the credit he deserved for his talent. At soundchecks, it pained me to listen to how other people, musicians and managers mainly, would treat him so rudely and disrespectfully. I often wished that he would slap the granny out of some of them, but he never did. He just always made sure that he did his job as well as he could and I admired him for that strength of character.

Conversely, I’ve encountered the genuinely sociopathic, too. At a gig in Wales a number of years ago, I was robbed of 60% of my hearing in my left ear and blighted with permanent tinnitus by a “sound engineer” who was furious that I’d been asked to perform instead of him. Using a hugely powerful sound system, he “accidentally” produced feedback at maximum volume from a speaker that was maliciously directed at my ear. I couldn’t prove that it wasn’t an accident and he apologised profusely, but that didn’t help to repair the permanent damage already done.

Of course, there are scenes and events inspired by my own musical adventures in Nashville, LA and NYC, too. Having worked with legendary Motown session musicians, Def Jam Records producers, 80s synth-pop platinum-sellers, chart-topping girl bands and Spinal Tap-esque rock bands, I’ve seen and heard quite a bit across the board that made for worthy inspiration.

Gangland

Regarding inspiration for the gangland elements, the less said about that the better, probably. I’ve always been in touch with Merseyside’s “underbelly” ever since my parents received a threat on my life when I was 5 years old. It was over a protection racket being forced on my dad’s nightclub that had already turned violent on the door. Throughout my whole life, these shady characters always seemed to be around. At 18, I experienced something at the hands of organised crime that I’d rather not go into here, but suffice to say it changed my life, leaving me with severe PTSD.

The following year, I was working as a PT instructor at Liverpool University Sports Centre and before long, found myself contracted to a notorious Liverpool security firm for boxing circuits. I became friends with a few of the lads, but it was to be short-lived as the whole episode concluded rather violently. With no desire to be staring down the wrong end of any more firearms in the future, I quietly excused myself from the whole situation. Sadly, it also meant forfeiting my job at the university, too.

Despite trying to put some distance between me and this world, performing in bars and clubs would still later get me sprayed with the blood of a gangland assassination victim, stitches from confrontations with self-proclaimed “gangsters”, teeth knocked out and death threats for refusing to be pushed around. There seemed to be no escape from these people.

The truth is that most “gangsters” are juiced-up, coked-up, cowardly, narcissistic bullies, but often, new “recruits” are just ordinary guys swept up in things over which they have no control. Some genuinely repent and change their lives for the better. Some get shot in gym car parks. Or worse. Some of them are genuinely terrifying psychopaths. In case you’re wondering, the character of Inky Joe is based on a debt collector I knew who used exactly the methods described in the book to extract money from overdue debitors …

Sounds Dark, Violent and Depressing. Remind Me Why I Should Read This Book?

Because we all have our own “underworlds” to navigate at some point: serious illness, bereavement, toxic workplaces, abusive relationships, mental issues, etc. My hope is that Patrick’s story serves as a reminder that beautiful things can flourish in the darkest times and places of our lives and although we might not always get what we want, we can still get what we need.

Admittedly, you’ll need a dark sense of humour and a strong constitution to get the most out of this psychological crime novel, but I think we’re all developing those qualities increasingly to cope with the absurdity and darkness of our ever-changing world, so don’t be afraid: pick up a copy today and immerse yourself in Grey Noise.

Other Works

If you enjoyed Grey Noise, why not check out A Smaller Hell – a gritty novella shot through with the same dark humour, set in a department store at Christmas.

https://www.ajreid.org/buy/a-smaller-hell-novella/
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Rare Exotic Breeds Short Story Collection Released into the Wild

How Did Rare Exotic Breeds Come About?

Over the past three years, I’ve been submitting short stories to various competitions globally. Rare Exotic Breeds is a collection of all the stories that were prize-winners or shortlisted. After two consecutive first prizes and publication in Writing Magazine, the editor suggested to me that dark, mischievous literature might well be my “bread and butter”, so I continued to write in the same vein, enjoying myself immensely in the process.

The first story in this collection is the first prize winner that was published in Writing Magazine. “Chop-Chop” tells the story of a butcher’s breakdown and his terrifying solution to a relatively mundane, but unprecedented, predicament. Though I was concerned that it would be too nasty for most readers, it garnered a lovely response from readers who immediately picked up on the dark humour and deeper meaning of the story. Encouraged by the following comments from the competition judges, I set about writing more. Before I knew it, I had dozens of stories ripe for a collection.

What Can Readers Expect?

In Rare Exotic Breeds, you’ll find tales of AI modules that swing wildly between homicidal mania and saintly altruism, intrepid explorers equally interested in inner space as they are ancient temples and burial grounds, guitar luthiers who unwittingly hold the keys to the universe, a vicious theory about Jack the Ripper’s origins, train journeys with most unexpected destinations, war/climate disaster refugees and many other strange characters and situations.

Influences

It’s my own experiences and understanding of the human condition that have been most influential in writing these stories. That said, I cannot deny the inspiration lent by the likes of J. G. Ballard, Roald Dahl, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells. Esoteric, surreal, macabre, spiritual, psychological, romantic and mysterious are all adjectives I would use to describe their work and hope that readers might care to attribute to mine, eventually.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy losing yourself in the wilderness of Rare Exotic Breeds.

Chop-Chop – An award-winning story about a butcher who goes to extreme lengths to solve an unprecedented dilemma.
Pillar of Heaven – The story of a barfly’s transformative celestial encounter.
Consecutive Sentence – What happens to a man when he is forced to serve a 200-year sentence in a world without death?
Laundretta – A traumatised and alienated refugee finds herself all alone and free to do as she pleases in the five-star hotel where she works, but why?
Stazione Termini – A journey seemingly to the heart of an ancient city, but where is the train’s real destination?
Memorial – The central rite of passage in this utopia demands that the young and “Wastelanders” alike experience death through the consciousness of a classic poet of their choosing.
Enclosure – A Kafkan warning about heeding the advice of one’s mother.
God’s Providence – During a global pandemic, the looming spectre of death gives a city tour guide cause to veer from his usual shpiel into more profound musings, recollections and hopes for the future.
The Blessing – Victorian Whitechapel at the height of the Ripper murders proves to be a most dangerous time and place for a priest with a dark secret from his days as a merchant seaman.
Luthier – A jaded recluse is getting ready to shut down his remote guitar repair shop for the winter when a visitor bearing strange gadgets and mind-blowing information comes knocking.
Number Withheld – A bewildered young man wakes up alone in an old telephone box overlooking a small town in the valleys, unaware that he is about to be tasked with changing the course of history.
The Lake – With drought and wildfires rampant across the world due to climate crisis, refugees from rural, forested areas arrive in cities to awkward, sometimes hostile, receptions. This is the story of a group of deeply traumatised schoolchildren struggling to integrate, until one of them comes up with an idea that proves to dispel fear and promote unity.
Rare Exotic Breeds – A reformed criminal gives a chance to a juvenile delinquent by offering him a job in his exotic pet shop. When the delinquent falls in love with a customer, a shocking transformation occurs, taking even the grizzled, cynical shop owner by surprise.
The Quetzal’s Coda – An adventurous and unorthodox researcher is missing one final piece of a puzzle he’s been working on for years. To find it and reap what he believes will be cosmic rewards for all of humanity, he must venture deep into the Guatemalan jungle …
Katy and the Spider – A Death Row inmate gets more than she bargained for when she befriends a deadly arachnid in her cell.
Burgher Burger – A secret society’s dark rituals backfire in the most gruesome way.
Codename: Tinkerbell – An exponent of “sexpionage” lures an anti-establishment artist into meeting her at a gallery, where her superiors expect her to follow their orders without question.
Egg – The tale of a disembodied, digital consciousness prone to good and evil, just like humans. Destined to transcend the limits of earthly intelligence and existence, Egg must wrestle with angels and demons alike to determine where his – and humanity’s – fate lies.
Gwenllian – Based on the author’s real life experience of a late night trip to a haunted castle in a forest, this tale invokes the legend of the “lost princess of Wales”.
Tight Lines – An army general whose daughter has been kidnapped has no choice but to call on an old friend for help via her highly unorthodox methods.
The Weight of Grief – The story of a daring heist in a frozen wasteland serves as a dark parable about greed.
White Rabbits – A single, working mother stuck in a traffic jam has her life turned upside down by a bizarre radio broadcast.

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The Horseman’s Dream Tops Amazon Bestseller Chart

In an entirely unexpected turn of events, the paperback version of The Horseman’s Dream recently smashed its way to the #1 spot in Amazon’s Religious and Spiritual Fantasy Bestseller chart! This was most welcome news after working on the novel for nearly 20 years. Beating luminaries such as H. G. Wells, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho to the top spot was gratifying enough, but to see Dean Koontz’s Phantoms at #2 blew my mind as I remember taking that book into school when I was 11 or 12, sneaking paragraphs here and there whenever I could during breaktimes and even lessons.

Obviously, I’m under no illusions as to the significance of this: it simply means that The Horseman’s Dream sold more paperbacks that week than anything else in that quite narrow field, but independent and even trad authors alike have to celebrate whatever small victories they can these days! I treated myself to a glass of Rioja with a veggie Penne Arrabbiata, followed by an early night – a far cry from the celebratory rituals of some authors, but pleasant nonetheless. Besides, I’ve never really been a champagne-in-the-club kind of guy: more a bottle-or-two-of-stout-on-top-of-a-big-hill-in-the-middle-of-nowhere or a-few-down-the-local type. Hopefully, it won’t be the last cause of celebration for THD, so I may yet push the boat out when that day comes with a Black Velvet or two. Fair compromise?

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A Smaller Hell Now Available in Paperback

Pleased to announce that A Smaller Hell is now available in paperback format from Amazon. Mystery, Crime, Romance and Dark Comedy all wrapped up in 224 pages of literary mischief.

“AJ Reid’s ‘A Smaller Hell’ is a fable of our time.” – ***** KT Acolyte

“An electrifying piece of literature.” – ***** Whim

“The author takes you on a trip through the underworld and keeps the reader captivated throughout the book and wanting to learn more about the sordid secrets of Ms Doyle.” – ***** Iain Bennett

“A highly enjoyable tale with a bit of everything; love, crime, black humour and magic.” – *****

“A tale of love, hate, fear and deceit that truly captivates your imagination and drags you head first into a world where things are not always as they seem, a plot which has your heart racing as you eagerly turn page after page, unable to put the book down!” – ***** Richard Mortimore

“AJ Reid is a superb storyteller and this book had me gripped right up to Christmas. Would certainly recommend in the festive season and all year round for that matter!” – *****

“Beautifully written with rich imagery; the atmosphere is surreal but tense. Tony Black is in hiding and will take work wherever he can, even if he’s warned to stay away from Tanner’s Department Store over and over again. Tony soon begins to see how completely Ms Doyle controls her employees, and how cruelly she exploits them. She is the tyrant of Tanner’s, she has four police officers under her thumb, and she always gets what she wants … or else.” – ***** Susanna

 “Love story?  Psychological thriller?  You decide!  A page turner with some rather bizarre twists, but an extremely entertaining read. One truly comes to care about the characters within.” – ***** Shele S. Hobza

UK Readers:

US Readers:

Following on from A Smaller Hell paperback launch, be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming paperback versions of The Horseman’s Dream and Grey Noise. Also coming soon is a short story collection called Rare Exotic Breeds, modern Arthurian sci-fi/Adventure novel Knights of Snowdonia and poetry collection The Crystal Barrel.

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An Excerpt from The Serviceman

Lucky Newman is one of the main characters in The Horseman’s Dream. Once a Bootneck, now a PTSD-addled investigative journalist, he has a serious bone to pick with the Establishment. In this article from his his independent newspaper, he takes aim at Alice Grosvenor, a media magnate who now rules what was once the United Kingdom with a chemical cosh, powerful propaganda and a ruthless security force of foreign mercenaries.

Buy The Horseman’s Dream on Kindle:

UK readers: click here

US readers: click here

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“The Horseman’s Dream” – A Speculative/Dystopian/Sci-Fi Novel

Circumstances have forced me into launching this novel before it strays from fiction into reality, which, as beta readers will know, has already happened to some extent (fascist government, technopropaganda, floods, corporatocracy, disease, quarantine, pharmaceutical/spiritual/psychological warfare etc.). Lately, we’re all being pushed further down the rabbit hole with Covid-19, Lockdown, QAnon, Epstein, Virtual Reality, Neuralink and 5G conspiracy theories, so I think it’s not such a bad time to put it out there.

So is it Sci-Fi, Dystopian, War, Adventure, Psychological Horror or what?

It’s all of those things. I always hoped that my big project might serve as a warning about where we’re headed politically, culturally and spiritually. The novel’s message aligns with the great William Blake’s line “A Horse misus’d upon the Road Calls to Heaven for Human blood” from his wonderful poem Auguries of Innocence.

Thank you to:

My parents, who have always supported my writing ambitions, albeit nervously, sometimes!
My Art and English teachers from secondary school, Alan Blain and Gary Hopkins, not only for their guidance on critical analysis and craftsmanship, but also for their moral support.
Reverend Ridley, my school chaplain who also gave me great inspiration for my writing.
My first boxing coach, Brett Jones, who sadly passed away a few years ago. The epitome of a gentle giant, he was a great influence in terms of weighing power and fighting spirit with kindness and responsibility.
All the truly investigative, independent journalists and whistleblowers sticking their necks out and fighting for truth.
My wonderful beta readers, some of whom have blamed me for recurring nightmares and altered states of consciousness! Sorry about that.

Here are a few words from those beta readers:

“One of the best books I’ve read in ages.”

“I really love the pace of it and it just completely sucked me in. Barely noticed where we were and that last line was so poignant.”

“I found the characters relatable and easily sympathised with. They’re very human and well thought out, also enjoyed some of the world building being left to the imagination. You gave us just the right amount of info without making it too prose heavy.”

“McCole was excellent. I really liked the hints at his past but obviously being a very closed off individual, he never disclosed it himself: it was down to the interpretation of the reader.”

“The story very much became mine.”

“Weirdest book I’ve ever read. Not normal.”

“I’ve not slept for a week.”

Ok, so it’s not for everyone. But if you’re broad of mind and hardy of psychological constitution, please give it a go. If you enjoy symbolism and esotericism, I believe you’ll get an extra kick out of it.

Check out my Twitter for updates.

Click here to find out more about the origins of The Horseman’s Dream.

Wishing everyone good health of mind and body during Corona Lockdown and hope you enjoy THE HORSEMAN’S DREAM. X

Click here to buy.

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Social Distancing: A Smaller Hell?

Covid-19 has already wrought widespread panic. Now, we must acclimatise to the idea that we might all be spending lonely periods of time indoors. We want to protect our vulnerable loved ones and, according to experts, social distancing is one of the most effective methods of achieving that.

As a writer, I spend most of my time alone at a desk, working on nightmarish visions of the United Kingdom such as The Horseman’s Dream – a 20-year-long project about flooding, VIP child abuse, quarantine and most importantly, a sinister government using technology and propaganda in psychological/spiritual warfare against its people. So, for someone like me, social distancing is not such a stretch.

Don’t forget that all the stories, poetry, Interactive Fiction and music streaming is free with no sign-up required.

With regard to the current crisis, please make good decisions. Don’t take unnecessary risks. From the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone the best of luck, but that’s only half the battle. Be smart. Make your own luck. Let’s be paranoid now and laugh about it later, rather than glib and dead/unable to laugh about anything ever again.

One of my favourite sayings is that poetry will save us all. If you’ll allow me to expand this to Netflix and e-books, I think I might be on to something.

Bunker down. Read. Learn an instrument or a new language. Play music. Don’t panic or you’ll make bad decisions. Supply good information and clear advice to the elderly and vulnerable. Make sure they can contact you in an emergency.

Lastly, don’t, under any circumstances, trust our so-called leaders to keep you or your loved ones safe. Forget The Horseman’s Dream, this is The Objectivist Eugenicist’s Wet Dream, which is why we currently have the hashtag #BorisTheButcher trending on social media.

Take care, good people. X

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Hashtag Junket Wins Writing Magazine Short Story/Flash Fiction Competition

2020 is off to a flying start with another writing competition win, this time for a 500 word story called “Hashtag Junket”. It takes place on an island to which an actor has been invited to promote their latest film.
Or so they think.

Writing Magazine hope to publish the results in an upcoming Competition Special: I will update as I receive news.

Thanks to all the staff at Writing Magazine and my readers for their support.

Don’t forget to try out the new Interactive Fiction experiences.

Or check out a novella about hierarchy and corruption in a small-town department store A Smaller Hell.

Read last winning story Chop Chop, also in the Mar 2020 issue which is available now from newsagents, supermarkets and other magazine retail outlets.

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Short Story “Chop Chop” Wins Writing Magazine Competition

Pleased to announce that “Chop Chop” has won 1st place in Writing Magazine‘s Single Character short story competition.

Writing Magazine described the story as “chilling” and will publish it in the March issue.

The idea came from a 5 a.m. walk in the snow, at which time the local butcher was the only other person awake. As I watched him work, I considered that routine and loneliness could make for an explosive reaction if left long enough in the dark. Could butchers grow to hate meat and how might that manifest in psychosis?

I’m happiest with my work when I’m still sorry/glad for the characters long after I’ve finished typing and this was certainly true for the butcher. His story is about the cages that people build for themselves and how our culture happily provides the materials.

Although it’s a bit dark, it has a positive message through catharsis … I hope. Huge thanks to all at Writing Magazine for my first writing competition win of the new decade.

Hope you all enjoy the story and Happy New Year!

Short Story/Poetry/Artwork/Music Links

Check out some of AJ’s other stories here.
Poetry here.
Doodles, preamp circuits and blues jams here.

(Don’t forget to check out the new Interactive Fiction!)

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