AI & Digital Art – Opinion Post

It all kicked off on social media for a 24-hour period, which turned into outright bullying. It was a witch hunt, and the bandwagon was a disgusting display of how quickly negativity spirals in the digital age. There’s been a lot of it lately. Being new to the Twitter platform, it seems like a source for much of that ‘hate’ energy. Perhaps I’ve just not been exposed to that much (thankfully)! Anyway, I posted my tuppence worth on Facebook and thought I’d share here since it’s topical within book publishing and is unlikely to disappear any time soon.

The advancements in technology are astounding; we can all agree. The changes in my lifetime that have opened doors for global collaborations and distribution of art, music and literature are beyond what we could have imagined only a few decades ago. Technological advances have indeed made as many as it has broken.

From handwriting to typewriters to computers and printers. Pigeons, boats, airmail, fax, email and instant electronic delivery of words and art. And as difficult an adjustment as some changes may be at first, many ultimately embrace them.

We’ve been carving art from rock with stones since man stood upright. How much art and expression have changed is magnificent, and none of the changes takes away from how inspiring those first scratchings of creativity and communication embedded into our history, into the rocks, the bones are and always will be.

I remember turning my nose up at ‘digital cameras’ and ‘digital art’ when they were developed. I admit my attitude then lacked maturity, and there was perhaps a bit of snobbery. Now, I have a digital camera permanently attached to my hand! There’s magic in a dark room and effects that cannot be achieved any other way. You know what, it doesn’t have to be one or the other — I appreciate both art forms. And I like that people can capture crisper ‘memories’ in photos without professional skill. It’s (arguably) more accessible.

Going after AI is like going after anything else that was once ‘new’ before it. No, it’s not the same as paint on canvas or a human digital artist layering and developing elements to create a unique piece. It isn’t supposed to be either!

I don’t think any creative should be threatened by AI technology (at this point).

It seems that folk are so quick (on social media) to jump on the attack. Pitchforks out, ready for the witch hunt, taking it out on someone entirely undeserving. Whatever happened to the old sentiment ‘if you’ve not got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’?

And for all of us working in independent/small press publishing, in whatever role, I wonder what we would be doing without technological advancements. Digital artists would not exist. Self/Independent Publishing would not exist as it does now. Haven’t we each experienced archaic attitudes looking down their noses at our work at one point or another? It seems a somewhat hypocritical thing to go on the attack for.

Image generated using text prompted AI

Cancelled!

I wrote my first short story of 2022 and submitted it to a publisher at the weekend.

My aim this year was always to pull away from short story writing (and submitting) to focus on longer works, my coursework and editing.

And I’ve stuck to it pretty rigidly, even when declining offers is painful! But spreading oneself too thin degrades everything.

I’m not going to go into the details of this short story, but I will say that its content, along with recent conversations with other writers, got me thinking; If I had a higher readership, I’d be cancelled.

I know there are many faux pas and taboos that change over time, and my work constantly bears the weight of uncomfortable themes. Horrifying right? One of the reasons I now include content warnings is to support readers sensitive to particular themes. It is not a poor taste marketing strategy. It is genuinely to deter readers that could feel hurt by my work. If I’m doing my job correctly, my work (in horror particularly) should be uncomfortable.

Over the last few years, there has been a notable request for ‘diversity’ from publishers demanding representation from marginalised groups — in a writer’s personal circumstances and in the characters we create to tell our stories. In this quest, many are outright discrimination, the very thing they claim to be trying to ‘correct’. ‘We demand diversity and representation unless you’re a cis white male’ being the most prominent. How dare they! On top of that, these diversity thumpers are dictating the presence of character archetypes in a creative’s work! ‘No LGBTQI+ representation? Better squeeze one in there, to keep everyone happy.’

Well, quite frankly fuck that! I don’t fall in line with any dictatorship! And it has zero place in art of any kind!

I am anti book banning.

I am anti art burning.

I am anti-censorship.

I am anti-dictatorship.

If you don’t like an artist’s material — don’t buy a ticket, don’t read their work and don’t dictate how anyone else should feel about it! Such arrogance is deeply misguided and kills art. It doesn’t promote it; it doesn’t promote equality or diversity. You’re foolish if you think that it does. The great tapestry of creative output is the very definition of diversification and multicultural without a pre-set dictated agenda!

TBM Horror

Interview: Horror and upcoming release chat

Have you visited TBM Horror lately? Well, it’s a phenomenal platform created and hosted by a dynamic and passionate creative force, lover of all things horror 💀 and metal 🤘, owner of Disturbing Drawings (you MUST check out her artwork), Mar Garcia!

Mar kindly had me over in her space for a blether, shared on TBM’s YouTube channel.

Scoot over to TBM Horror to check out great (regularly updated) content on Horror in creative industries, from articles, books, movies, bands, video games and art!

If you fancy checking out my natter with Mar, the YouTube links are here:

Part 1 / 3
Part 2 / 3
Part 3 / 3

Writing and other such Beasts

A revisit to what’s on the cards for release and writing this year. First up, is the imminent release of my debut horror novella, Asylum Daughter; this psychological horror hits the shelves on May 8th! The date is significant to the story — I wonder if any of my readers will spot it!

See what one early reviewer had to say about the book over on Erica Robyn Reads.

I was also invited to interview with Candace Nola, mother of Uncomfortably Dark for her 2022 Women in Horror feature. We chat about writing, the horror industry, and I share a little insight about influences of the upcoming release. For those who want to have a gander at the chat, head over to Uncomfortably Dark.

Cover for Natasha Sinclair’s ‘Asylum Daughter’. Cover art by Don Noble, Rooster Republic Press.

Next up, I’m working on a collaboration with another fierce horror author, my sister from across the pond, the formidable Ruthann Jagge! This is special to me as we have shared many pages within the indie horror scene, and we seem to have similar draws to particular elements! When I read her debut novella, The New Girls’ Patient, I could’ve been blown over by a feather with the striking similarities in some of her delightful, diabolical plotting! Have you read it yet?

Ruthann Jagge, author of ‘The New Girls’ Patient’. Photo from author’s Instagram @ruthannjaggeauthor

Our blend of horror will be a magical one for readers! I would love to share a teaser, but my lips are sealed for the time being — maybe come Summer, I’ll spray some of that sweet, irresistible elixir your way. I’ve got the feeling that when our novel is done, we’ll be cooking up something else!

Another compilation of horror shorts will launch later this year. Some stories have been published, and some will be brand new to print! Given my chosen title, Incesticide (yes, the title is a homage to a particular grunge band), I’m aiming for the 14th December release! And, Yes, like the title and cover, the date continues the ‘nod’ — 30 years since that album of B-sides. I will include at least one short inspired by one of the album tracks — which one would you like to see? Feel free to drop me a message with your vote!

Cover for Natasha Sinclair’s ‘Incesticide’. Cover art by Natasha Sinclair, ‘Clan Witch’.

I am publishing an exquisite poetry collection, written by Rafik Romdhani, The Crash of Verses. The collection is up for preorder now and releases July 22nd! It’s no secret that I was reluctant to have this much responsibility for another writer’s work, but Rafik is a persuasive wordsmith! And I’m honoured to support another writer in sharing his talent with the world! I’ve read a couple of his pieces over on my YouTube channel. If you fancy getting a feel for his work (which I encourage you to do!), please hop on over to check those out. And, of course, preorder his book!

Cover wrap for Rafik Romdhani’s ‘A Crash of Verses’. Designed by Natasha Sinclair, ‘Clan Witch’.

I have another collaboration scheduled later in the year, with another force of indie horror energy, this one much closer to home, with KJK Publishing’s gaffer, author of Halloween Land (another novella you horror delinquents should read!), Kevin J. Kennedy — more on that when work is underway!

Kevin J. Kennedy, owner of KJK Publishing. Photo from author’s Instagram @kevinjkennedyauthor

Masters of Horror UK

Just a quick share. I was invited to interview over on Masters of Horror U.K. by David Kempf. We chat about writing inspiration, the popularity of horror, publishing and current projects. You can check that out by clicking the link.
Apparently, I can be a bit of a blether! Much thanks to David Kempf, and those who take the time to check it out!

The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition – First Review

First review is in! Check out Lisa Lee’s thoughts on KJK Publishing’s The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition!

THE HORROR COLLECTION:Extreme EditionKJK Publishing Extreme Horror Fans Only . Synopsis The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition, KJK Publishing …

The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition

‘Horny Dead Fucks’

FILTHY FREE FICTION

Live and free over on Horror Sleaze Trash today is a new filthy little flash story, Horny Dead Fucksfrom Natasha Sinclair and David Owain Hughes.

This is our second story to be featured by HST — we both had a blast writing this one. Check it out for a free fix of sexy, sleazy horror fiction. As with our last one, Milked — tissues and lube are appropriate condiments to have on standby!

Murmur: Collected Horror

And the next release

Summer Solstice Book launch!
My solo collection of 9 short stories, Murmur: Collected Horror — the paperback and hardback are available now, the eBook lands tomorrow, 21st June!
For an indie, I am generally pretty reserved about sharing and shouting about my work. It is a form of absolute introvert torture but I’m trying to work through that — it’s a slow process!
Some of the contents have been published previously, these are spliced with a few never been printed pieces.
Writers are often asked where ideas come from or what prompted a story, so each piece in the collection is followed by a few brief words about that. This little personal touch has been received positively by my pre-readers — I hope you enjoy that little insight too.
I would love to share a read from the collection in the coming weeks. So, if you read it and have a favourite story — let me know in a review and/or by dropping me a message here, on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll pick the reader’s favourite to share!
In time I would love to build on my ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) team for future releases, who would receive a free ARC of my books to read and review before public release. If you read and enjoy my work and this is of interest to you — please drop me a message. I want to hear from you!


My next (tentatively planned) solo release will be that of my debut novel, working title, Backyard Asylum, this may very well change. I’ve been swamped with other projects this year, so it hasn’t had as much attention as I’d hoped by this point. Projects with deadlines have taken president over the novel, but I hope to delve back into this come Autumn and at least have a completed first draft by the end of the year. Genre wise, it’s working out to be a blend of horror sub-genres, with definite elements of psychological and extreme. The working title may suggest the Asylum being a main (trope) feature but it is merely a backdrop at certain points within the story.

That’s a wrap for just now, if you pick up Murmur, I truly hope you are entertained! Thank you for reading and supporting this wee Scottish indie writer!

Natasha )O(

Update 23rd June 2021

As well as being available via Amazon, linked above, my new release can also be found on Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Scribd!

KJK Publishing

Editorial News

KJK Publishing is the company behind Amazon best-selling horror anthology collections such as ‘100 Word Horrors’ and ‘The Horror Collection’.

Owner and Author, Kevin J. Kennedy, recently invited me on-board as Editor of KJK’s successful ‘The Horror Collection’ series! As a fan of these collections, I couldn’t say no — delighted to be part of Kennedy’s team.

These books are a great pick up for fans of the genre, or as an introduction to the many flavours of global indie horror. Hosting a hugely diverse selection of horror voices across the spectrum of the genre, these books are a great way to find a new author or stir your appetite for a sub-genre you maybe wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. Connecting readers to emerging and seasoned voices in indie horror, THC books should be on your books to read — if you haven’t already that is. With eight books in the series so far, book nine is due for release this month, and the next two are in progress — including a special ‘Extreme Edition’, it’s fair to say KJK Publishing has started 2021 sprinting with all manner of sharp objects straight at your eyeballs!

The newest book in the series — ‘The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition’ features stories from; JC Michael, Kyle M. Scott, Lex H. Jones, Mike Duke, Sarah Tantlinger and Zoltan Komor. This lot promise spine-tingling, haunting chills, and a good heap of ‘What the fuck did I just read?’ bizarro. Love it! All wrapped in the signature THC cover created by Michael Bray.

*Update 18/02/2021 — Book nine is out now!

Check out the first published review of the collection on Erica Robyn Reads; [Book Review] The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition | Erica Robyn Reads

Its predecessors can be purchased individually or as a set. All of these books are also available to read free to Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Next in the series will be ‘The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition’ and ‘The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition’. Invited Authors have been propositioned, and submissions are rolling in! This is going to be lots of bloody fun!

As ever, shares and reviews are massively important in this crazy game, especially to indie writers and publishers. Please, if you take the time to read — leaving an honest review on your preferred platform is appreciated by ourselves and other readers. We love to hear what readers think — Thank you! Happy reading!

Reading, Writing and Subbing 2020

A little update since the sands are sure as hell quickening, if not entirely running away.

Reading this year has been pretty diverse, with an unintentional heavy focus on horror of all flavours. I’ve also developed a taste for bizzaro horror. I’ve come across a few authors who have tickled me — a new (non) guilty pleasure for sure. If it’s gonna simultaneously gross me out and make me laugh my ass off, it’s a thumbs up!
Outwith proofreading, editing and competition reading my ‘just for fun’ list, in no particular order, have included:


Richard Laymon – The Beast House Chronicles
Edward Lee – City Infernal (Series)
Kevin J. Kennedy – The Horror Collection (Anthology Series)
Jethro Punter – The Daydreamer Chronicles
Eleanor Merry – Dead Aware (Series)
RJ Roles – Girl’s Best Friend (Tangled Web Series)
Steve Stred – Ritual (Father of Lies Trilogy)
Matt Shaw – Deep Rooted Fetish (Short)
Duncan Ralston – In Every Dark Corner (Shorts Collection)
Darren Tarditi – Neigfrid (Novella)
Natasha Mostert – The Midnight Side (Novel)
Laurel K Hamilton – Anita Blake (Series)
K Trap Jones – Welcome to the Splatter Club (Anthology)
Ernest Cline – Ready Player One
Ernest Cline – Armada
Christine Morgan – Lakehouse Infernal
Insignia Stories – Japanese Fantasy Drabbles
Liian Varus – Is Stranged
John Black – Growlers
Iron Faerie Publishing – Hawthorn & Ash (Anthology Series)
Iron Faerie Publishing – The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019
Andrew Lennon – Life to Waste
Tim Lebbon – Eden
Saemund Sigfussion, Snorri Sturluson – The Poetic Edda & The Prose Edda

Writing wise, as per my previous posts, I’ve been subbing work out this year. When it comes to responding to open-calls and invites it can be a bit like having free time (which I never do) and swanning into a well stocked library — it’s easy to get lost and devoured by the stacks! Or, maybe a more precise analogy is the old ‘kid in a sweet shop’!

The submission opportunities are plentiful and you can’t write or, indeed, get accepted into them all.

I’ve naturally had a preference for small press/indie publishers. Responding to these opportunities is rather nice as it takes the work out of the book building/formatting side — which is an immense amount of work on the publishing side. I massively appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes of a quality publication and am truly grateful to a part of each one who’ve warmly accepted my (often) warped little terrors into their fold.

Designing stories with specific open calls as a target has helped reign in the ideas by having a set genre or word count to meet. It’s been beneficial as I oftentimes overwhelm myself with too many ideas that get scattered around as notes and poetry that may evolve, or not. Needless to say, responding to some of the opportunities has put my other WIPs on pause, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it gives those stories and characters more time to prove and maybe keeps the demon, Writers’ Block, at bay.

Some of my published (and to be published work) can be found within the catalogue of the below Publishers:

KJK Publishing: http://www.kevinjkennedy.co.uk/
The Macabre Ladies: https://macabreladies.wixsite.com/website
Books of Horror: https://www.facebook.com/groups/526308964218819
Insignia Stories: https://insigniastories.com/
Iron Faerie Publishing: https://ironfaeriepublishing.com/
Sirens Call Publications: http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/
The Reanimated Writers: https://www.reanimatedwriters.com/

Those currently available are updated on my ‘Books’ page and links for those to come will make an appearance in due course. The below two titles are releasing in September 15th (Dark Celebration) and September 28th (Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles). I am grateful to have two pieces in each alongside a TOC of talented international writers. Both anthologies are available to preorder now from Amazon, worldwide.