Mental Health in Horror

A while ago, I shared a bit about mental health in my writing, inspired by a panel I had taken part in with Mothers of Mayhem. Although naturally nerve-racking and coupled with technical glitches on my end, it was a wonderful experience, and I’m grateful to Marian and Christina (MoM) for the opportunity. This episode of Mothers of Mayhem’s Hidden Voices in Horror has now aired. You can tune in on YouTube to this particular episode featuring me (Natasha Sinclair), Lucas Milliron, Allisha McAdoo, R.E. Shambrook and Gerhard Jason Geick. There is an excellent variety of episodes building — follow MoM to get notified when new episodes drop!

My original post here.

Dead Waltz

A ghost waltzed through me
When I slept deathly deep
Slumber disrupted
Taking advantage
As he did with my
Friendship, my loyalty
My trust, my body

A ghost waltzed through me
Like I was his to enter
No choice but surrender
And I welcomed his touch
Through disgust
Distaste, mistrust
Did I lay down the mat?

A ghost waltzed through me
Did I invite him inside?
An open window, door ajar
In a tongue unknown
A serenade degrade
Billows clouding smoke
Butt of some joke

A ghost waltzed through me
I played dead

Don’t move
Don’t whimper
Quiet heart
Don’t breathe
Don’t stir

A ghost waltzed through me
I lay still.

Tugging

I’m struggling to write this post today, but I need to sprinkle a little something outward. There are many positive and productive things going on professionally and personally. And I want to lean into all that spring light. But other strings are being tugged; tugged into the dark. And as much as I’d like to ignore the pull, sometimes it’s impossible. Balance?
This pendulum is in perpetual motion until the inevitable, the only inevitable.
I stood among the trees this morning; their music in the thundering gale pulled me into the centre of their organic choreography. The chorus spun through my mind, a rustling melody among the lace of interlocking branches. The hypotonic sway nullified the nightmares; my existence among them was silent, serene.
Then I pulled back, time to begin this day, now that dawn winds have cleared.

YouTube Readings

Playing with another platform

I’ve considered doing some reading videos for a while now but only recently began sharing a few online. So far, I have shared a handful of poetry and short stories over on YouTube. Only one is a reading of one of my pieces. The rest are shares of other writers work that I enjoy.
All are welcome to drop by, subscribe, share. Open to requests too, if you have a piece you’d like me to read, drop me a DM. I can’t guarantee I’ll do it or when, but I’ll be in touch nonetheless.

December 2021

I started writing this post at the beginning of December. Then it got parked because, you know, December hit!

The last two years have been an uncomfortable and strange kind of chaos for so many the world over. Few things have felt light. My three daughters’ birthdays all fall within nine days during the last month. December also marks my grandmother’s birthday and death. The latter happened when I was juggling having my youngest in NICU and protecting my still vulnerable toddler from the stark risks of RSV season. I couldn’t see her before she died. December always feels heavy with gratitude, pain, trauma, distress, anger, conflict; it’s all a dizzying soul ache and more love than I can handle. I don’t want to get stuck when I glance at the clock at certain times through those days, marking deaths and births; the past is reflected in the clockface. But I inevitably, subconsciously glance — it’s always one of those times. Words ring through my mind, with alarms, rushing and deathly silent moments, sensations my body still feels. Muscle memories of energies change everything.

My daughters had such great birthdays this year, even with this shitshow of humanity and how we deal with pandemics. That’s given rise to so much I thought was in the past. There are too many egos putting lives at risk — for arrogance, superiority complexes of conspiracy theorists who think they are somehow in the know, and governments’ superiority complexes; projections of elitism. I have little tolerance for many such things these days. It’s all egocentric. Ego, I wonder what the picture would be like without its existence.

Anyway, I had writing to tie up this month, before the year’s close — a few short stories at the very least. My focus is off-kilter still, and the hours are so very full. The final hours are closing in, and I’ve barely caught a breath.

Solstice has now marked the rebirth of light on this hemisphere, and I’ve been marking out intentions in blood and ink for the moons ahead. This week I will release the ashes of the year behind, putting light into the seeds that can only grow.

Reflect but keep on moving; the wheel turns.

Fate Never Waits

The stages of this ailment wracks havoc through my body.
Vexatious attempts to conquer; become me.
It began as all things do, a spring birth nipping exposed skin; testing the fragility and limits of the becoming.
Little by little tentative blooming begins.
Through kissed, bitten and hard pinched skin.
Assaults on the juvenile unrelenting.
More than hormones, chemical reactions take the blame.
Flora sprouts through the hardened dark, softening sporadic perimeters, lashed by sharp spring-sight-steeling-rays - momentarily monumentally blinding.
Once this is over, it’ll be ok.
Fate awaits.

They said I had some years to change, some precious time before it was too late.
Wild horses tear thunderous lumps through my soul; stallions each gunning for control.
Endless war rages within; the battle of self.
The therapies, the drugs and carefully selected words.
None ever any good.
The rampant rage is on, no war is without bloodshed; relieves the pressure of dismissed, displaced youth.
One must be real if they bleed; alive even in fantastical Maiden daydreams.
Suppression of the whispering thugs a delicate parity; equilibrium of what?
One cannot be sure - what if there is no cure?
Fate never waits.

Time, she keeps flowing through the bottomless glass.
Smoke without mirrors; dense, dancing swirls too black to pass.
Maidenhood ends, scar tissue thickens not mends.
Strands tangle in knots unseen through the haze of smoked days.
The Mother is one which cannot be skipped; the fear of becoming the Maiden’s own too hulking to dismiss.
Summer’s heat pelts down like the belt; sporadic lashings through which you must stand, never waver.
Fane unfeeling through the weeping welts.
So many mistakes, learning aplenty with a war thirsty wraith wailing shrieks in the ear. Overshadowing youth whispers, the memory of what was terrorising for so long, now a quiet comfort of historical storm.
The dust of the battles must eventually settle; submit, surrender.
Breathe it through; she’s coming for you.

Autumn bleeds summers setting into winters webbed ebbing.
A witch must relinquish the right to fulfil natural potential when the hourglass quickens towards inevitable expiration.
The time of the Crone dawns and with it awash with insight previously unknown.
Suddenly the wonder uncoils and monstrous ponderous mysteries are starkly revealed before the last breath is sealed.
Fate never waits.

Any one day can be the day she whispers.
The voice of all time and fate entwined;
“Dear daughter, you are too late. You’ve relinquished your fate.”
Fate never waits.

© Natasha Sinclair

First published in Iron Faerie Publishing’s ‘Four Seasons’ anthology

Things I ‘Should’ Be Doing

The End of 2021 is Beckoning

Instead of ploughing into the to-do list, which has a terrible habit of expanding, I am writing this. It helps to organise the brain, maybe. I opened up my submission spreadsheet and there’s hardly any writing submissions outstanding! It’s almost dry! This gave me a bit of a ‘must write, must submit’ moment. No, I shouldn’t. I’ve enough to keep going and hope to tie it all up to start 2022 with key priorities from which I will resist deviation. I will resist. I must resist! My wandering eye needs reigned in!
Wrapping up 2021, so far, I’ve had stories published with Black Ink Fiction, Books of Horror, Crimson Pinnacle Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, Insignia Stories, Iron Faerie Publishing, KJK Publishing, The Evil Cookie Publishing, The Macabre Ladies, Sirens Call Publications and have published my collection, Murmur: Collected Horror. And I have a few pieces of work pinned — don’t we always?!
Writing aside, I’ve been studying, proofread several titles, completed developmental editing work, created promotional materials including written copy and graphics, written forewords, completed interviews, edited KJK Publishing’s 2021 releases (The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition, The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition, The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition and Halloween Land) — with another two scheduled for release by the end of the year, and it’s not over yet!
So, I’m back to trying to pull focus into what I MUST tie up, on top of editing before 2022, which includes finishing up a couple of writing projects. With less than three months left it’ll be over before we know it.
I am going in firmer in 2022 with what I take on. My novel (that I had hoped to finish this year) didn’t get much attention due to other projects swaying my eye and life doing its curveball of mayhem routine, so that will be at the forefront of my list. I am starting a degree course in January, which will require much attention. I will be collaborating on two projects, one with another (damn talented) woman in horror, Ruthann Jagge (who, if you haven’t, you MUST check out) — I cannot wait to see what we create together. And another exciting collaboration with the one and only Kevin J. Kennedy, another indie story weaver who should be on your reading list. There’s more pencilled in, but the priorities are in bloody ink!

2022 Collaboration Tease.
2022 Collaboration Tease.
Landing in 2021.

Yes, My Kids are Vegan

I’m not particularly vocal about some things I care deeply about, especially not online. My personality has reactions built on trauma.
Speaking up has opened me up to attack (from childhood) so, I clam up tight, retreat inward — standard trauma response.
The everyday injustices towards our fellow earthlings is one such horror that I often wish I had the nerve to speak up about more.
I stopped consuming the flesh of murdered animals when I was 7 years old. I still feel guilty for the dead on my fork to that point, even if I was just a child raised to be ignorant to their suffering.
As a child, the hypocrisy was (is) taught through family, friends, society, schooling, and religion plagued me — how can one preach and teach of love and respect while dining over the mass slaughtered, butchered bodies of other living beings?
It made me soul-sick. I despise how much we, as a society, deceive our children. I was deceived.
Dairy was the last to be eliminated when I was 30 years old. Much of that was, again, ignorance. I am ashamed; the guilt of the suffering I paid for runs deep.
I paid for so many deaths, countless brutalities; I am responsible — the coward who didn’t hold the knife.
No single life is worth so many of theirs, especially when one does not depend on their deaths to live.
The brutal, bloody, unjust, inhumane, unnecessary deaths of children — of innocent fellow earthlings cannot be justified. Industries built on the systemic enslavement, rape and murder have much to answer for, and it seems never will because the atrocities are too widely accepted. With a blind eye and habits ingrained in children.
I can’t take back my part in it; none of us can. All I (we) can do is do better.
I’m raising vegan children. I’ve seen parents, such as myself, challenged by general ignorance on the matter. And I’ve had the quizzical looks when this fact has come to light. Why would I raise them any other way? Knowledge is power, right? So then, why wouldn’t I instil in them the truth from the onset? I know it makes society uncomfortable; we’re expected to fall in line, not disrupt the hypocritical peace, not be an inconvenience. That’s it right there; the truth of animal agriculture and the moral imperatives that the word ‘vegan’ rouses in consumers of animal products is that those truths are inconvenient. I don’t care for that. I care for justice and a moral compass that aligns with actions — isn’t that what we should be teaching children and ourselves?
Forget the (many) positives of a healthy, vegan lifestyle (because it’s not just a dietary choice) and consider the absurdity of the animal agriculture industry. If I was farming puppies in my garden to kill, skin, gut, and chop up and feed my children, I’d be deemed as evil, cruel, heartless, an unfit parent.… The accepted state of animal agriculture is far worse than that. Consider the proven decline in human health due to the consumption of products from that sector, not to mention the desperate climate crisis — to which this type of production and consumerism holds much of the responsibility. Every action, even when small, everyday ones — every action against this industry matters. And the choice to remain ignorant to it is unforgivable, surely.
Yes, my kids are vegan — it is not a choice.

Another Lost Blog

‘I should be writing’

I haven’t written much lately and only have a few short story sub decisions outstanding.

Writing (with a specific purpose) has taken a backseat to everything else. Considering I’ve only been actively submitting work since the tail-end of 2019, this probably shouldn’t be as bothersome as it is (to me). This lull, this deeply uncomfortable, gut-churning, head-aching, creaky death-rattle vibe of a damned lull has created a fracturing within; what’s the harm in another one?

A couple of weeks ago, I could’ve screamed if I wasn’t so agonisingly audio sensitive — which hasn’t resolved yet. I’m sure the screaming would’ve shattered my pain riddled spine. I pictured the exploded shards; the bone shrapnel ripping through muscle and skin. My head hurts. I thought that maybe I needed a hit; a rejection, an acceptable, anything that might kick the cogs into motion — at least that’s where I was last week. Maybe something outward was needed to push a tangible, create type locomotion into motion. Even with that, time is a merciless taunter, and with too much else going on, there’s never enough of it. Though, writing is air. I am dependant on its ability to quench and quell things that nothing else can. I’m co-dependent on the pen even when words are just scrawled onto old paper and shut in a drawer. This digital tapping is a placebo. They say there’s a form of eternity in the code of numbers; to me, the figures are a mirage that melts away like ghosts.

I’ve not been writing (much) — it doesn’t mean I’ve been out of contact with the words. We’ve been serenading in other ways. Ways that should benefit the stories when they get their time again.

Gorefest!

Gorefest is one of the most anticipated projects I’ve been part of this year. From The Evil Cookie Publishing, 14 authors carve their path through the muck and grime to celebrate the art of gore!

The book is still with the editor, but I cannot wait to get stuck into reading this extreme anthology soon! My contribution was written specifically for the Gorefest call. To say that I was keen to be considered would be an understatement. I called upon one of the most beloved music venues in my hometown of Glasgow to set the scene and ambience for a literal gorefest in my story, Fuckin’ Maggots. I was listening to a lot of Slipknot when I wrote this. The line, ‘and the rain will kill us all,’ from their track, Psychosocial was looping in my head, driving me nuts, my brain can get a touch obsessive — Fuckin’ Maggots helped purge the loop! I am sure other metal fans will note various nods to the scene within the piece. One of those — if you know, you know! I had a blast writing this, I hope readers enjoy it as much as I did.

Gorefest can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at a lower pre-release price. Given the talent in this line-up, I am confident this will be one book that fans of extreme horror will be buzzing about this year. Get it now! \m/

*Update 29/08/2021*

It’s out and to further add to the excitement of this release, an EXCLUSIVE — GOREFEST GODLESS EDITOR’S CHOICE EDITION is also available ONLY at GODLESS! This edition features handwritten commentary and doodles throughout the book from the editor, K. Trap Jones! It’s an absolute must buy!