The Making of Delevan House #21

Access the playlist Ruthann and Natasha created the first Brazen Folk Horror novel to on Amazon Music or Spotify. Just click! Order Delevan House …

The Making of Delevan House #21

The Making of Delevan House #20

Order Delevan House here.

The Making of Delevan House #20

Possessed and Obsessed

I have been immersed in creativity while juggling the craziness of everyday life and spanners. Over on Brazen Folk Horror, Ruthann Jagge and I have been actively sharing updates with readers weekly for five months now. With only three pre-release updates left to go, our novel launch is imminent!

My adrenaline is at full whack. We have joked about being possessed by our characters, but it’s most definitely an obsession at play too.

For readers who may not yet have picked up a title from either of us and you’d like a sample, then a great place to start before our collaborative novel lands is our debut novellas released just last year.

The New Girls’ Patient, Ruthann Jagge

Jamie Carver is an inexperienced young woman eager to change her life.
Recently certified in nursing, she’s the new girl working at a facility for the elderly.
When her favorite patient dies, the frail woman leaves her a handwritten recipe book as a final thank you.
Dark secrets of Elizabeth’s life hide between the pages.
One evening, a pair of dangerous men intent on learning Elizabeth’s secrets to steal her fortune brutally abduct Jamie and two of her girlfriends.
They trap the women deep in the cellar of a crumbling mansion, where their survival depends on each other. They must unravel a shocking family history before sunrise or die.
Can Jamie rely on her friends, or will she resort to calling on unnatural forces to help overcome her captors and stay alive?

Asylum Daughter, Natasha Sinclair

Bella Mills survived the brutal slaughter of her family by a madman.
Only 11-years-old, she was assaulted and left for dead.
Twenty-three years later, the past returns in the form of her devil, free of his chains.
A disturbing family history full of dark secrets and seduction unfolds as Bella seeks answers.
When she discovers the truth about her mother, locked away without mercy in the notorious Lochwood Asylum, Bella realizes that terrible ghosts of the past hold the key to her future.
Can she escape their power over her?
A novel of psychological horror, and poetic intrigue, sprinkled with the supernatural.
Bella Mills is “The Asylum Daughter.”

From those and those who are already familiar with us as individual writers, you will see that we are wildly different in style. You’ll be amazed how we’ve come together to create our co-written Brazen Folk Horror debut novel with Delevan House. We each brought something new out in the other, creating a collective voice we hope our readers will enjoy. It’s all for you!

The work has been constant, and neither of us has been able to ‘switch gears’ for long from our feisty cast. The anticipated release of Delevan House is only just the beginning.

Now, I really should study! Badb village has unleashed a storm in my head. It needs tae haud its wheelset! Just for a wee while.

In the meantime! Read! Follow! And if you are inclined, please share your thoughts in a review.

Much love and a bit of mayhem!

Natasha )O(

Scotland Banned Christmas

From 1640 to 1958, it was illegal to celebrate ‘Yule Vacations’. Christmas (then called Yule or Nollaig (Gaelic))was banned in Scotland for over 300 years. Christmas was regarded as a celebration held by the Catholic Church. After the reformations to Presbyterianism, Christmas was gradually downgraded until its outright ban. When Act 7, ‘dischairging the Yule vacance’ became legislation on 2nd June 1640, it read:

‘The estatis of parliament, presentlie conveind by his majesties speciall authoritie, wnderstanding that the kirke within this kingdome is now purged of all superstitious observatione of dayes, and heirwith also considering that the keiping of the Yule vacance heath not onlie relatione to that superstitione and may serve to keepe the same in memorie, but also that the keeping of the said Yule vacance heath interrupted the course of justice in this kingdome to the hinderance and heavie prejudice of the leiges thairof, thairfor the saidis estatis have dischairged and simply dischairges the foirsaid Yule vacance and all observation thairof in tymecomeing, and rescindis and annullis all acts, statutis and warrandis and ordinances whatsoevir granted at any tyme heirtofoir for keiping of the said Yule vacance, with all custome of observatione thairof, and findis and declaires the samene to be extinct, voyd and of no force nor effect in tymecomeing. And ordeanes the court and sessione of the colledge of justice and senatouris and memberis thairof to conveene and sit for the administratione of justice without ony interruptione by the foirsaid Yule vacance from the first day of November to the last of Februarie thairefter inclusive yeirlie, and ordeanes the said senatouris and remanent memberis of the said colledge of justice to ryise the said last day of February and to conveene and sit doune againe for administratione of justice to the leiges the first day of June yeirlie, and to ryise the last day of Julii nixt thaireftir inclusive. And also ordeanes the whole remanent judges of inferiour courtis within the kingdome to proceed in thair administratione of justice within thair severall jurisdictiones without any respect to the said Yule vacance and without any interruptione or vacatione by the same Yule vacance, notwithstanding of ony bygone custome of observatione of the said Yule vacance, sieing the samene is now dischairged in maner foirsaid.’

Christmas, as it is now, is less than 100 years old in Scotland. And for many celebrants, it has little to do with Christianity and is predominantly a commercial holiday. There are plenty of seasonal churchgoers who line the pews for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day mass for the sake of their salvation or tradition. Ultimately though, much of the meaning has been lost through rabid consumerism and ego — in direct opposition to the old concepts, regardless of its many guises celebrated globally.

Christianity and Christmas aside, the festival that predates and has stood the test of time, despite changing political and religious landscapes and indoctrination that our children are force-fed — Yule, Nollaig, or Winter Solstice are all celebrated with similar traditions. Though many such as myself, try to limit the greed and heavy consumerist pressures from apparently ‘well-meaning’ folks. As much as followers of the Christian version of Christmas may like to consider certain traditions as ‘theirs’, this is far from true — the feasting, the giving, the tree, colour formations, Yule log burning, the honouring and gratitude, the ‘Angel’ (Goddess), the star (pentacle) are far from Christian in origin. Perhaps that notion, too, feeds into greed and relentless taking.

Today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. When the night dominates, so we reach and crave comfort and warmth — physical and emotional, and we are grateful for those in our lives who gift that to us and we to them. We share food, stories, ‘gifts’, and gratitude. Whatever you do should be enough without the dictatorship and noise of organised religion or the embedded consumerism.

As a practising pagan (who was Catholic schooled as a child), I celebrate the Magick, the cycle of the earth that sustains and gives us life throughout the seasons. Following the rhythms of the moon, just as the tides do.

It doesn’t need to be a show, on display for nothing other than validation of ‘good’ or ‘love’ suffocated in glitter. It can be quiet, calm, and spiritual, as are the roots of gratitude.

You don’t need to bow to the consumerist devaluation of the season by feeding the jelly-belly man in the red suit with pound-signs sparkling in his eyes, full of ‘cheer’. You don’t have to serve and be judged by a bloodthirsty god whose gift is guilt and the threat of damnation if you’re not ‘good’. You don’t have to feed the beast of judgment and hypocrisy, whether from the judges above or those within your own family.

The banning of Christmas was just another form of control, of course. Another religious and political move to dominate. Oh, how we’ve seen so many of those in this wee country! I don’t support the hypocrisy of Christmas being shoved down anyone’s throat either, it may be less than a century old here, but the indoctrination runs deep. The same could be said of the destruction of Indigenous Languages of Scotland — it’s always about control.

The Making of Delevan House #18

Wrapping Up Brazen Folk Horror presents the print cover wrap for Delevan House. Isn’t it a beauty! The cover image was created by the immensely …

The Making of Delevan House #18

Incesticide: Collected Horror

NEW RELEASE

Incesticide: Collected Horror has almost emerged! Due to some interruptions within the industry and the panic rumour mills spinning, I decided to get things placed early to ensure the print edition launched in time with the digital. Well, this strike was swift, and the print editions are now (quietly) available ahead of the official release of December 14th.

The collection features nine unique short stories, each followed by a few words on how they came to be.

I painted the artwork for the book. Taking loose inspiration from the book’s namesake – Nirvana’s Incesticide cover art by Kurdt Cobain. I was delighted with how the painting turned out, and have created some exclusive products featuring the print available on my Etsy store.
Thank you to everyone who had preordered. I hope you enjoy my little morsels of horror.

If you fancy a listening to me reading a story from the book, Fuckin’ Maggots is featured on my Youtube.

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November

—Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night.

It’s been little to do with politics for a long time.

When it once celebrated the failed gunpowder plot — where Catholic Englishman Guido Fawkes was found guarding the explosives intended to assassinate King James VI (and I) and members of the House of Lords on 5th November 1605.

This is the socially acceptable night to light fires and set off explosions into the sky! As effigies of Guy Fawkes are set upon bonfires and burned in commemoration.

As a child of the 20th Century, I simply didn’t get it. Kids knocking on doors collecting for ‘The Guy’. While it’s cited that the commemoration is for the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. I’m not sure that that’s entirely true everywhere, given the general feelings towards the English parliament (extending far beyond the 17th century) and King James VI (and I) — who was in many ways a tyrant.

This acknowledgement in either regard is simply an excuse for a night of careless mayhem. Where folks can legally purchase and let off explosives without direct repercussions. Well, I say that, but the emergency services are always under heavy strain during these pointless and reckless (even when ‘organised’ festivities).

In a world of hypocrisy and contradiction, it’s a time I can’t abide. I do not involve my children in the ‘fun’. Not when innocent wildlife are burned alive, as they seek refuge or places to hibernate safely for winter within the pyres. Not when we have heart attacks and panic in nests from the booms, the lights, the smoke — the terror! Not when domestic animals straying or lost fall victim to maniacs who think it’s funny to stick rockets inside of them are tie explosives to their tails. Not when those at home are cowering from what feels like a war raging just outside their homes.

A nation of animal lovers?

Are we ahead of the game in caring for the environment?

Minimising our environmental impact and emissions?

I fucking well think not!

Witch on Trend

One of the most prolific characterisations called upon in the writing of horror fiction is that of the Witch. The incarnations cross genres, not exclusive to horror. The notions of the Witch rouse deep interest that peaks at no other season as high as it does around Halloween. From the green-painted faces of cloaked children playing the hag, practicing cackles for trick-or-treating shenanigans to the overwhelming number of book and movie releases parading their Witch down the street, through blood-thirsty crowds for all to fear and jeer. It seems that our curiosity, bedazzlement and fear of her are insatiable.

The public hanging of witches in Scotland, with a witchfinder (right) being paid, seen in an engraving from 1678. Photograph: The Granger Collection/Alamy

Our Witch has been the macabre crowd-pleaser since the hysteria that rippled through the world with the support, encouragement and rise of Christianity in organised religious dominance. The mania began in Europe in the fourteenth century, and such infamous texts as the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ by Heinrich Kramer, published in 1486, propelled the hysteria and resulting brutality of the executions peaking several times between 1560-1630. Leaning heavily on the support of the church, the author of the text included Pope Innocent VIII’s 1484 Papal Bull, Summis Desedirantes, as the opening to the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’.

In this article, the pronouns she and her are favoured when referencing the Witch. While this is not uncommon, it must be acknowledged that from a true historical context, those trialled, persecuted and executed were predominantly female. There were men among them too. And, of course, in fiction, and real-life practitioners of the craft or occult arts, Witch can be of any gender. The dominance of prosecution and the use of the word as a slanderous term is weighted heavily towards women, hence the conscious choice of those pronouns here. Evidence suggests that 85% of the accused (in Scotland) were women. Fuelled by the desire for religious and political dominance, the Witch persecutions were also profoundly misogynistic. Hundreds of years on, these are issues which still impact society today.

The earliest printed reference of the noun ‘Witch’ was c950-c1010, Early Middle English, (Ælfric Homily (Corpus Cambr. 178) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1968) II. 792 Nu segð se wyrdwritere þæt seo wicce sceolde aræran þa of deaþe þone Drihtnes witegan Samuhel gehaten.) The heavily linked noun ‘Witchcraft’ was also first printed in the Early Middle English period, c1000, (Ælfric Lives of Saints (Julius) (1881) I. 182 Animað hraðe þa reðan wiccan, seo þe ðus awent þurh wiccecræft manna mod.) Although it may appear, at times, like a trend has taken hold in books or film — the Witch-craze has never really left us. Our Witch has held claim as a steadfast trend of constancy throughout history, one to love or hate but never to be indifferent to. This fascination or, perhaps more, obsession has endured. The Witch continues to thrive, though in a far more acceptable way than during such times as the six Witchcraft Acts, which presided through British history, criminalising those deemed to be Witchcraft practitioners, punishable by death. Scotland had a particular thirst for Witch hunts, murdering five times more people for crimes of Witchcraft than anywhere else in Europe.

In the 21st century, such Acts as these no longer have any place in European legal systems. Committed to a shameful part of human history, where many are working to recognise those murdered and have their criminal status pardoned. These women and men brutally murdered under the laws of the time were innocent of their charges. During the periods of Witch-mania, many (if not all) of those accused, trialled and executed were not done so fairly. Sensationalised witness reports that commonly claimed diabolism, shape-shifting and dancing with the Devil himself became a death sentence. Logic and facts had no place to play in these judicial procedures; macabre entertainment for the masses writhing in fear and fantasy that they themselves created. The control of organised religion reigning at its finest. Documents from these cases are often sketchy, and some are entirely nonexistent. Many cases escalated to local churches, and communities taking the law into their blood-thirsty hands. If anyone was dancing with the Devil, was it really those persecuted as Witches?

Considering this grisly past that spawned in Europe and spread rapidly around the globe, we must remember that there are countries where accusations of Witchcraft stillresult in severe and brutal physical punishments (and death) today. While here in Scotland, the Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1736, and the last documented legal execution took place in 1727, almost 300 years ago, religious and spiritual persecution is still alive and comes in many guises.

In modern Europe, the historic Witch-persecutions are crisscrossed with a romanticism of a deadly, dark past, and fictional notions embraced to stroke these romantic ideas of magical ancestry. She is symbolic of both innate feminine strength and endurance as well as female oppression by a predominantly patriarchal society. When considering the data available from cases of the Witch trials and applying something missing from these cases—logic—one thing is clear, many of those trialled and executed were not Witches; they were not pagan in the contexts of today. Many of the accused and found guilty were victims of flimsy, vague laws, hearsay, panic and hate.

There are groups still fighting to seek justice for these heinous acts, such as Witches of Scotland, ‘–a campaign for justice; for a legal pardon, an apology and national monument for the thousands of people – mostly women – that were convicted of Witchcraft and executed between 1563 and 1736 in Scotland.’

While work is still ongoing to achieve the legal pardon of some 4,000 people killed under the Acts, a formal apology was granted by the First Minister of Scotland on 8th March 2022, “on International Women’s Day, as First Minister on behalf of the Scottish Government, I am choosing to acknowledge that egregious historic injustice and extend a formal, posthumous apology to all those accused, convicted, vilified or executed under the Witchcraft Act 1563.” Read the full statement here.

While it is, perhaps, admirable to fight for the status of the victims of the laws of that horrific time, and it’s important to acknowledge the gross misconducts of governments, kings, religion—misconducts that were regarded as just at the time. Their greed for ultimate control and thirst for blood and brandishing ‘authority’, the acknowledgments, memorials, and apologies of descendants will never give the victims their lives back. We cannot undo the horror of their torture—starved, pricked, stripped, poured with tar, thrown in barrels and rolled through the streets, strangled, drowned, burned, all under the eyes of the law, ‘God’, their communities and families. There’s no making up to the victims labelled as Witches. And there’s no romance in their trials. What we must do is step forward; don’t stand fearful among the crowd breeding hate. Learn from the past. Step forward. Speak up for injustices, no matter how small they may appear. History and present day horrors show us how easily pandemonium can take hold, by then it’s too late. Say nothing, do nothing, and one may as well be lighting the pyre.

To my fellow creative fiction writers: If you find yourself allured by the Witch trend, design her without feigning research—reaching for a few easy-to-find titles, selected based on the copy intended to sell you that specific content, the cover, or recommendations from non-practitioners is not research. This is the microwaveable noodle of cooking. This approach will never bring you proper knowledge and depth to create authentic flavour.

Design her with the authenticity of a true creative; think outside those boxes. That is the way of a Witch—pay homage to that in your creative endeavours. If you desire true historical context or true spiritual context, you’ll have to dive much deeper than any off-the-rack ‘spell book’. These books are often born from limited research themselves to base one’s research on, then you’d be in a sorry state to claim to know anythings but anecdotal drivel. Research on these subjects is a dedicated, lifelong business. Not a flurry of ticking boxes. Spiritually, there is reason many who walk occult or pagan paths refer to life and work within these arts as an ongoing ‘practice’. The trials and persecution of accused Witches is entirely separate to practitioners of any one of many pagan pathways—real Witches. As a practitioner of 20+ years, my clan’s Witch, I am still a mere amateur. Arrogance has no place in these arts, if it does in any at all.

The Making of Delevan House #9

Writers on vacation? My girl is in the mountains; I picture her standing high, overlooking the land in a circlet of evergreens painted in autumnal …

The Making of Delevan House #9

Clan Witch: Found Shadows

I’m sweeping the circle. The bones and remnants of word fusions are being expelled to make way for new spells. This collection is set for release in Hogmanay 2022. The preorder is live now.

Digital ARCs will be available well in advance of release, if you are a reviewer who’d love a first look at Clan Witch: Found Shadows, my mailbox is open for enquiries to be added to my priority early reader list.

Clan Witch: Found Shadows, releasing December 31st 2022

Synopsis (subject to tweaking)

Do readers buy poetry from undead poets?

There’s nothing quite like picking the prose and verses of the dead like vultures. There’s freedom in that unpicking, with no one alive to contest, at least not the mind which birthed them.

Sinclair consumes written and spoken as she does in its lyrical form, dressed in music and paint. Dancing to the beat or screaming into the voids of despair. Here, Sinclair presents Clan Witch: Found Shadows, no music, no paint, just words. A mix-tape of drabbles and anarchic free verse poetry..

The writer still lives. Perhaps you’ll read her unruly verse before the witch is dead.

Cover image from Christy Aldridge of Grim Poppy Designs