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

Tag: psychological

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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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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FREE Dark Interactive Fiction: Ludovico

This FREE interactive fiction verges on the indecent, but I think war is indecent. Warmongers and bullies of all kinds should fear that one day they’ll have to take their own medicine. I hope technology makes that deterrent a reality soon.

It’s the same notion that underpins The Horseman’s Dream: that a tech-enhanced form of empathy could make or break the world. In Ludovico, we are dealing in straight recordings of neurological and psychological experiences, whereas in THD, they are actual live dreams, gamed for entertainment and propaganda.

If you’re of strong disposition, a fan of dark fiction and a hater of war, I urge you to click on the link below. If not, perhaps a different Interactive Fiction experience would be more suitable.

#NoMoreWar

LUDOVICO

Don’t forget to check out free interactive fiction experience KODIAK too!

In this free interactive fiction experience, you play the role of a lonely, starving bear with a big heart. When a vulnerable human wanders into your territory, you must choose whether to submit to your primal urges or seek a higher purpose.

Click here for Interactive Fiction adventure KODIAK.

If you fancy checking out some weird doodles and handwritten poetry, follow me on INSTAGRAM.

For general soapbox rants, RTs of artistic and scientific interest and general fluff, follow me on TWITTER.

If you’re interested in pursuing further information on warmongering, I suggest you turn off your TV, put down your newspaper and check out the following:

CND

John Pilger

Craig Murray

If you’re in the mood for some anti-war poetry, try STILL. Or there’s some video poetry here AT THE GATES.

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A Smaller Hell Now Available on Kobo only £1.99

Pleased to announce the launch of A Smaller Hell on Kobo this week. With a fancy new cover and sleek edit, it has been tempting new readers into the spider/fly dynamic of Doyle/Black, which bears ever greater relevance as we uncover yet more sordid conspiracies amongst the powerful. Hierarchy and authority lead people to this madness. Take a chance and find out just how mad Dianne Doyle gets …
https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/a-smaller-hell

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Echo Chamber

Goodnight, my love,
Sleep well in your chamber,
See you in a while,
You’ll be in no danger,
From the voice that dares ask,
Any question at all,
To the strong and the stable,
Of their thirst for our thrall.
Goodnight, my love,
Your skin has grown paler,
Behind the chamber’s glass,
You’ve become your own jailer,
Closing the hatch,
On your reverberant hole,
You settle comfortably into the role,
And a tear of mine drops to the floor,
While stiff regret haunts my jaw.
Enjoy your cocktails of blood,
And the inevitable flood,
Of warmth in your veins,
As you calmly peruse,
Systematic abuse,
As long as no-one complains,
Of secrets and lies,
Where the dead go to live,
When their sympathy dies.
Through the chainmail I hear,
An echo of you,
Through the telegraph wire,
And the turn of the screw,
From the sky up above,
To the sinner below,
A picture is painted,
That he’ll never know.
Goodnight my love,
This is the last time I’ll come,
The chamber’s cold glass,
Has turned my lips numb.
Goodnight, my love,
I will cherish our time,
But I am no longer yours,
And you, no longer mine.

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INFJ Film

Having found similar lists useful in discovering resonant films, I decided to make a start on my own list of films for other INFJs to explore.  I will be adding to it over the next few days.  Any suggestions?  Please comment below.

 

 Complex power struggles, revenge, honour, betrayal, family, guns, cannoli …

  Isolation, intellect, creativity, unheard expression, doomed, intense love, symbolism, orchids, sex, narcotics …

  Rebellion, psychology, institutionalisation, society, the state, constraint, authoritarianism, freedom, friendship …

 Empathy, tragedy, medicine, cruelty, reclusion, nobility, kindness, isolation, loneliness, freaks …

 Religion, manichaeism, faith, healing, possession, humanity, Tubular Bells …

 Youth, hope, destiny, friendship, inspiration, poetry, literature, patriarchy, rebellion …

 Illusion, voyeurism, existential struggle, satire, reality, TV, media …

 Existence, atmosphere, dreams, neon, steam and rain, chaos, philosophical, symbolism, violence, religion …

 Tension, refuge, symbolism, inner torment, insomnia, mystery, neo-noir, hallucinogenic, guilt, psychosis …

 Superhuman senses, pursuit of excellence, obsession, trauma, psychopathy …

 

 Family, loss, grief, compassion, violence, black humour, existence, absurdity, caring, love, faith …
 Addiction, blurred morality, friendship, Noir, underworld, betrayal, lust, love, chance, fortune …
 Poetic justice, friendship, morality, fugitives, ethics, corruption, loss, revenge, understanding …

 

 Hiding out, historical, nostalgia, guilt, remorse, suicidal hit man, psychopath, friendship, morality, age, wisdom …

 

  Faith, church, scandal, death threat, counselling, caring, failure, rebuilding, chaos, grief, love, lust, destruction …

 

  Anti-authority, friendship, race, hedonism, isolation, sociopathy, corruption …
  Ambition, greed, family, love, loneliness, capitalism, duplicity, religion, hierarchy …Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

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