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

Tag: AJ Reid

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.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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 my signature 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?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

“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.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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!)

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

Grey Noise: Rock and Roll can be Murder

Now available on Amazon:

What happens when a disturbed sound engineer snaps?

Patrick McDonagh is a Liverpool sound tech who truly understands the old saying that “silence is golden”. Highly-skilled behind a mixing desk, but undervalued due to his lack of charisma and social graces, he remains forever on the fringes of the music industry, picking up whatever crumbs he can to look after his mother in their terraced house by the docks. What most people don’t know about Patrick is that alongside the guitars, drums, bass and vocals, there has always been the mysterious grey noise and fortunately for everyone in his little black book, he’s always been able to ignore it … Until now.

As he decides whether to exact his well-deserved vengeance upon the lead singer of Summer Seems So Far, the grey noise builds to a crescendo, inciting deadly violence and macabre scenes at their wildest gig yet. Find out whether Patrick survives his jaunt through the Glasgow underworld to fulfil his dark agenda in this rock and roll horror story, written by the author of A Smaller Hell.

Only $0.99.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

The Horseman’s Dream Update

It’s taken me years of drafts, scraps and rewrites to get to this point.  Since I was (and still am) no scientist, I read psychology books and articles daily during those years for the sole purpose of writing The Horseman’s Dream.  I studied other fields of science, met with psychologists, military veterans and brushed up on my theology, or divinity, as we used to call it when I were a lad.  I’ve even visited abandoned Victorian lunatic asylums in the dead of night on the Welsh moors and consulted with staff at the notorious Ashworth Hospital.  Over the years, researching this book has led me to a cup of coffee with the local vicar; chicken, greens and cornbread with a preacher from Mississippi; beer with a Zionist and lasagne with an evangelist from Birkenhead, amongst others.  It’s been an obsession by most psychological standards.  I remember how it started: sitting in a garage, waiting for my car to be MOT’d and the only reading material provided was Heat magazine and the Holy Bible.  The juxtaposition of the two texts right there on the coffee table set a few wheels in motion concerning doctrine, escapism, existence and control.  I scribbled as much down as I could while I was waiting, paid my bill, then drove home to resume scribbling.  The idea was so absurdly complicated that it’s taken me this long to unravel it into a story, rather than a rant.

Writing Third Person Multiple POV makes it obvious why many successful actors also write: it’s an extension of what they have already practised and honed for years.  Imagining how a completely different personality would respond in any given situation whilst retaining authenticity is a dark art indeed, but what fun.  Apart from the needs of the story, the Third Person Multiple ties in with the psychological/sociological subject matter of the book: the broadcasting of the contents of peoples’ minds for entertainment and propaganda purposes.  Alternate reality entertainment, if you like.  At least, that’s the kind of pretentious tagline that Grosvenor Media favour when advertising Totem.

The TV was an amazing invention, as was the internet.  You may have noticed my use of past tense there.  I used it because they have been hijacked, restricted, censored and controlled to suit the demands of very wealthy corporations and individuals even now in 2015.  It begs the question of who provides our reality and just how far our illusions go.  What would you do if faced with the truth behind the veil?  Would you beg for the illusion to resume or would you revel in your freedom from it?

Horseman's Dream Logo-Recovered

Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

© 2021 AJ Reid

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑