An Omen? Or just the flutterings of a dumb bird?

A Raven sits on my mantelpiece, surveying all and sundry with a haughty eye. Arkyne, as I call him, is cast iron, in body and, yes, I believe, in spirit. He travelled here from a curio and antiques store in a small town called Cashmere in Washington, USA. As I recall, the suitcase didn’t make it onto our flight home from Seattle, well not until two days later, and I worried so for Arkyne, if he would ever get here. My treasured dark-winged harvester.

So, the other day, while we were out, we got a call from our neighbour that our house alarm was going off. Turning back from our journey, all the usual scenarios went through my head, but reaching home, there was silence, the house unturned, except for the strange and unusual code that flashed on the alarm keypad.  A number we had never seen before.

And then I ascended the stairs, and coming at me, invoking my best Tippi Hedren screech and dramatic pose, were two flapping black wings and a haughty eye, heading straight for mine! As I cowered against the impending gouging, my hysterical cry of It’s a bird! somehow translated to It’s a burglar! as it reached the ears of my better half, now downstairs in the kitchen. Thundering up the stairs he bounded, my defender, prepared to face down this unseen intruder, his face – and mine – creasing to confusion as neither burglar – nor bird – presented on the landing!

As my heart rate fluttered downwards, for a moment, I will admit, my very dark and fertile imagination wondered if Arkyne was still on the mantelpiece; if we had somehow found him out. Had we come upon his free gaff flight of fancy? Was this how he spent his time when we were not at home?

Yes, my better half gave me that same pitying get a grip look that you would probably like to give me right now.

We found the dark-winged intruder perched on my favourite chair. My husband opened the window, ordered him off the premises, and out he flew, though not before he hovered for a minute, eye to eye with the source of his liberation. Perhaps to say thanks? Perhaps to depart some omen, some warning, some message… or perhaps, it was simply a look of sympathy to the poor man having to live with this dumb bird!

Going Indie: And Why Not?

I like the term Indie Publishing. I’m an Indie Filmmaker – putting skin in the game to get my films made. I am a storyteller. I write screenplays. I write fiction. So when it comes to novels, why wouldn’t I take the independent route as well? Just like the film industry, you only learn in the ‘doing’ when it comes to writing and producing work, and the past couple of years have taught me a lot in terms of the publishing industry in all of its tranches; traditional, assisted – and self-publishing – of which I have now well and truly dipped the proverbial toe.

I’ve also experimented through the gamut of submitting the traditional way, to writing online and publishing my efforts for feedback, to publishing a finished work in ebook format, to going through the whole shebang with the paperback. I’ve made mistakes and thankfully, my readers have been both encouraging and forgiving. I have learned so much from them, and am grateful. There are also organisations that are invaluable to the advocacy and learning process of self-publishing, The Alliance of Independent Authors being at the forefront of ensuring professionalism and a code of standards.

While working through all of the above, I also sent out a sample of my novel to three of the biggest agents in Ireland; one has yet to reply. The other two did, in quick time, and with professionalism and honesty. While both gave positive and constructive comments on my work, both also stated that they are working in very difficult market conditions, which without doubt, limits the selection of work they can afford to take on. I completely understand that, and have so much admiration for publishing companies who take a chance on new writers and who keep supporting established ones. My experience as a Librarian for almost twenty years, working on a literary festival for seven, I’ve also talked to so many authors from all sides of the industry, whom I greatly admire, and reckon I’ve garnered a pretty comprehensive knowledge of how things work. It’s a tough game. Authors work hard. Publishers work hard. Respect. For now though, I don’t have the advantage of a publishing house at my back for the essentials of editor, proof reads, cover design, marketing and promotion, but I’m managing all that, and continue to learn from it.

Ultimately, the culmination of all of that accumulative learning and ‘doing’ is the fact that I am now in a position to make an informed decision on what is right for me at the present time; to stick with Indie Publishing. And here are my top ten reasons for doing so:

  1. Print-On-Demand! The risk is mine – and mine alone.
  2. Ebooks! Accessible and cheap. I read now more than ever with my Kindle!
  3. I connect directly with Readers and Writers – and learn from them.
  4. The start-up investment is manageable – and balanced by higher royalties.
  5. I retain complete control over everything I publish.
  6. Without contracts, I can write what I like, when I like.
  7. I have the freedom to experiment and to move outside any genre.
  8. The services and support to get it right are out there.
  9. I’m in the exceptionally good company of dedicated and supportive Indie, Traditional and Hybrid authors, more and more of whom are self-publishing back catalogues and/or moving into Indie publishing with new work.
  10. It is fun. The learning, the doing, the achievement. And the possibilities are endless.

I’ve never been a fan of labels, I want to express my writing in the genres and formats that feel right for me. and whether I work on a screenplay, a novel, or a short story, in the end, I am a storyteller.

LADY BETH is available from Amazon Stores.

ARKYNE,STORY OF A VAMPIRE is available from Amazon Stores.

About Caroline…

Caroline is a writer and filmmaker from Dublin Ireland. She is the author of the novels LADY BETH and ARKYNE, STORY OF A VAMPIRE. She has also written several feature length and short screenplays, many of which have won awards.

IN RIBBONS, a short film she wrote and co-produced has already screened at more than thirty festivals worldwide in 2015 and 2016. See awards and nominations here

Her screenplay, IONA’S HOUSE, an urban ghost story, won the Best of Fest Screenplay Award at the Fantasmagorical Film Festival, 2015. Her family fantasy feature script, PIXER KNOWS, reached the finals of the New York Screenplay Awards 2015, The Hollywood Screenplay Competition, 2015, and won the Atlantis Award at the Moondance Film Festival, USA 2011. It was also a finalist in the 2010 PAGE International Screenplay awards.

Her short Film ADAM [2013] was officially selected by The Waterford Film Festival, 2013, and Clones Film Festival, 2013, The Richard Harris International FF, 2014, and was nominated for BEST DRAMA AWARD at Dare Media Underground Film Festival, 2014.

Caroline was also shortlisted at ‘The Waterford Film Festival 2014’ and the ‘Kildare County Arts Film Commission 2014’ for her short script, HUSHAWAY. In 2012, her script, THE BOOK CROSS, was shortlisted for an Irish Film Board Gearrscannain Award. She is currently working on the novel version of her screenplay LADY BETH, which was also selected by the Irish Film and Television Academy for a one-to-one mentoring session with AFI Master, the late Gill Dennis, at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2011.

Signed copies of ‘Arkyne, Story of a Vampire’ are available to purchase from Caroline’s Blog.

“I loved the ending! Tense from chapter to chapter…” Niamh Boyce, Author

“The underlying menace is constant, the story and setting highly original and the cast of characters a delight.”

Lissa Oliver, Author

 

IMG_8991-0011

Director Nick Willing [Neverland, The River King, Tin Man, Alice in Wonderland] described Pixer Knows as “A lovely story, beautifully told – and well written.”

“Pixer Knows” is a beautifully written, utterly original screenplay which will attract younger and older audiences.  [Page Awards Judge]

A regular blogger, Caroline was shortlisted for Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards in 2016, and long listed for ‘Best Arts & Culture Blog’ in 2015. She is a member of the Irish Film and Television Academy ,The Writers Guild of Ireland, and The Independent Authors Network and regularly reviews Books, Film and Theatre for The Librarian’s Cellar. Caroline is also a member of The access>Cinema Board.

The Spellery Magazine…

Check it out…and not just for the fact that I am featured in the latest edition! Love the cover too!

Take a peek HERE

Or pop over to their FACEBOOK Page

15067db9339e4ffebe57c50975e031f9

Characters from Arkyne: Coco – An Introduction

COCO De Rais strode purposefully through the grounds of her home, a seventeenth century château overlooking the French village of Tiffauges. It was late in the evening, the end of summer, and the château, perched high and austere amidst the borderlands of the Vendee, was bathed in the golden hue of sand stone.

Breathing through her irritation, and with a flashlight shining low and discreet on the path before her, her pace quickened, and she didn’t even stop to admire, as was her habit, the magical blanket of moon dust now reflecting off the ivy-leaved façade of the sumptuous building.  Her papa, Henri, had upset her again and she was frowning, her wild black hair falling across her face to flap in unison with her furious footsteps, gravel crunching beneath her thick-soled black boots. In contrast, with its soothing liquid timbre snaking a path through the grounds, melodious ripples emerged from the Qui Donne La Vie, a tributary of the nearby Crúme River. She had once overheard her papa tell her aunt Anna how insignificant the little river had been, remaining untitled for centuries. Until he had brought Coco’s mother, Sophia, here, and she had instantly christened it The Giver of Live. Appropriate, she had heard him add wistfully, for that was exactly what Sophia had been. Not just in the physical sense of bringing Coco into the world, but also in the bringing of life to the château; and to him.

She clenched her teeth now, as similarly to a song she thought she ought to remember, but couldn’t quite, the water’s melody transported her to a moment lost, a vague remembrance that refused to clarify itself, no matter how hard she concentrated. She had finally succumbed to her acceptance of the notions that had been crowding her thoughts for some time. Like the fact that even when on her own, she never really felt that way. That another walked with her, unseen yet sensed in her bones, and was here now, with her on this path that she had walked so often. Once, and only once, had she mentioned this to her papa, immediately regretting it as he dismissed such silliness; if she were to be feeling such a presence, he told her, it must surely be her late mother, watching over her. Coco was not convinced. What she was experiencing lately was different, and she had always believed that her mother’s spirit was with her anyway. It would be impossible not to feel the essence of Sophia De Rais in this place, where the legacy of her mother’s short and tragic life lived on. Through the broken man her papa had become, and through Coco’s own image; a constant reminder to Henri De Rais of what he had lost.

No, this presence had nothing to do with her mother. At times, it felt masculine, and at others, she could sense that it was profoundly feminine. Perhaps it was more than a single entity, which might explain the strength of it, so vivid that sometimes, as she lay in her bed, she could hardly bear to breathe or move her limbs as something she didn’t understand, and could never describe, brought a great fear to descend upon her. And yet, there were also times, like tonight, when she welcomed the feeling, longing to prove that it was more than just her imagination.  If only she could touch, taste or smell this thing that moved around her, breathing through her, close and almost tangible, yet still, so far from her physical and emotional grasp. An inexplicable thing that Coco, with her fierce secrecy, let harbour there, with her in whatever space she happened to fill, and at any given time.

As the intensity of her anger fell away, she moved on, heartbeat going down. Warm sweat turned cold on her skin as she reached a rusty gate that led down a stairway cut from the natural stone, and into a disused cellar. Not just the decrepit, slightly dangerous place that her papa had forbidden her to enter; this cellar was the gateway to something else. She was sure of it, her dreams were telling her so, growing less abstract over these last few months of school vacation, until she had all but convinced herself that whatever the presence was, it must certainly reside here. It was real, it was beckoning to her, and now, she needed to prove it.

Pausing to look all around before pulling back the gate and carefully descending, Coco walked towards the pitch black interior, the air, cold and heavy. She was not afraid. Eighteen and brazen with it, she was not only a striking sight to behold, she was tough too. The epitome of health and vitality, her body, as usual, sheathed in layers of dark silk. And even if she were to feel the fear, Coco would never own up to the fact. Grown from a tomboy child, to touch her body, was to touch solid, lithe muscle, the result of endless summers here, with only her papa for a playmate, filled with physical activities like playing football and tennis and golf and wrestling matches that Henri wouldn’t always let her win.

Tilting the flashlight high to shine in front of her now as she minded her footing on the steep steps, Coco descended into the darkness that moved around and behind her, the halo of light extending from her raised arm to frame her affecting features in soft sepia. When she reached the bottom, she set the flashlight on the floor, and tying her long black hair into a knot at the nape of her neck, adjusted her eyes to see in front of her; to identify this exact scene as it had appeared in her dreams; to put an end to the hide and seek games of a recurring image. That black, hooded bird, the trickster, ensnaring her curiosity with the same bewitching tease, and as tangible as the stagnant air of this cellar that made her breathing shallow and her heart beat speed up again.

Coco had also come here this evening to view the crypt of her ancestors, and in so doing, to shame her stubborn papa in his relentless lie that no such thing existed. That it was just an old wine store, long ago spoiled, nothing of interest, and not very safe. ‘You could get hurt. Stay out of there. I insist upon it.’ And of course, the more he forbade her, the more urgent her need to defy him became.

Once, she would have believed Henri of anything he would tell her; unconditionally. But on this, and other things, Coco was no longer sure. Her papa had lied to her about the cellar. He was changing in her eyes; as she was surely changing in his.

********

Inside the château, amid sumptuous though somewhat decaying antique splendour, Henri De Rais sat by an open fireplace, engrossed in the pages of a small, dense volume on his lap, an ancient French Grimoire, bound in calf-leather and gold-leaf. Coco’s father was a beautiful man, far more youthful looking than his forty-three years. And yet, to look into his dark eyes was to see the wisdom of a very old soul, and heartache so profound that the beholder might shudder with sadness. With unruly hair that fell across his veritable, serious expression, he carried on reading now, his attentive eye drawn to an incantation…

And thrice I hear thee, dark-winged harvester

Eater of souls, with thine hollow caw of malaise

And so caught up between the words, his brow furrowed, that even as his pretty sister-in-law, Anna, entered the room carrying a tray laden with coffee and biscuits, Henri did not tear his gaze away from the page before him.

‘To keep you going until dinner,’ she told him quietly, and with such tenderness, setting the tray down carefully beside him, ‘It is cold in here, Henri, you’ve let the fire go down.’

With a slight smile, his dark eyes swept momentarily in her direction, and sad for the pain of it, her heart lifted to a flutter despite herself, beating faster as it always did in his presence. Her hope was fleeting, as usual, for Anna knew from deep down in her bones that despite the gratitude for the help she had given to him since the death of his wife, her older and only sister, Sophia, Henri’s deep set, soft brown eyes would never really see her in the way that she willed him to. ‘I hadn’t noticed. And where is Coco?’ he asked, his gaze already returned to the open page of his book, ‘Shouldn’t she be packing now?’

Anna teased at the smouldering cinders with a long brass poker from the hearth before stepping back to straighten her rose silk blouse and tuck her short blonde hair neatly behind her ears. His sadness tormented her, the broken heart that he had so silently endured for all these years, never healing. This day was like every other, and it was all she could do to restrain herself from rushing to his side and flinging her arms around him.

‘She is in the garden, Henri, and it is done already, the packing. I helped her myself.’

As she hovered there, Henri paid scant attention as she watched him pour his coffee. Even that simple action filled her with compassion for him. Such a man should never be alone, should never have to eat, to drink, to sleep alone. And yet, he could never have it any other way. ‘Will you fetch her, Anna?’ he asked her quietly, ‘I would like to spend the evening with my daughter before she returns to school.’

For a moment, Anna brimmed to say something, a practiced, intimate declaration that she had longed to share with him for quite some time. But the moment passed, as her confidence did, and instead, she merely nodded her head and left the room, her leather pumps making no sound on the flagstoned floor as she went.

********

Below in the cellar, Coco was now covered in dust as she dragged heavy, filthy crates of old, spoiled wine to the side and overcome with excitement, tugged at the latch of a small door she uncovered. A rush of adrenalin was fizzling beneath her skin; she had been right all along, or rather, the messenger in her dreams had been.

There was a crypt here, a burial chamber, and leading to it, the crypt door now gave way to her persistent kicking at it. She crawled inside the small hollowed-out cavity, awkwardly moving more debris out of her way until she found what she was looking for, her flashlight shining on a coffin-sized concrete slab set into the floor.

Coco knelt down and leaned in closer, and using her sleeve to wipe thick grime from a brass plate that was set into the centre of the slab, she read the inscription with a breathless whisper:

 

Lonan De Rais, 1653 – 1743

While here entombed beneath his namesake, the dark winged harvester forever is bound, a lineage ad libitum, the dark days endeth

 

Intrigued and fired up in equal measures, she touched the cold metal, feeling each letter until the plate moved slightly and she dug her fingers underneath it. Using the torch to hammer away at it until the plate finally dislodged, Coco pulled it away to reveal a padlocked metal box set into the ground beneath it. Her breath quickened; she was reliving this moment for sure. Even the box seemed recognizable from her dreams. Grasping it tightly in the crook of her arm, she shuffled her body backwards and out of the claustrophobic chamber, fumbling around on the gravelled, dirt floor until she located a loose stone to break the small, rusty corroded lock. Striking it over and over until the box crumpled beneath the blows, and the lid fell open, she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand up; something was inside it. Tucking the flashlight under her chin again, she carefully lifted a lumpy wad of folded fabric from the box, and Coco could hardly contain her excitement at the sight of what unfurled in her hands. Gently shaking it out into what looked like a very old blanket or shawl, she delicately held each top corner with her arms outstretched and marvelled at the images that she could just about make out, despite the dim light. So engrossed in her find, she did not see the black bird feathers that fell from the folds of the fabric as she shook it gently, nor did she notice them floating in slow motion to the dirt floor beneath her feet…

 

********

In that same, instantaneous moment, Henri, still seated in his study, suddenly sat forward, the grimoire falling to the floor, his dark eyes widening at first to then crease up, almost shut, as if he had just been engulfed by horrendous pain. Beads of sweat formed on his furrowed brow, his mouth opened wide as if to shout out a warning, though no sound escaped him. An image flashed before his eyes, a flickering profile of a man he had never met, yet had surely known; eyes, as black as Henri’s own, seared into his soul, burned into his soul as his mirror image smiled back at him. It was a wicked smile, filled with the promise of dread, and Henri began to shake, his body overtaken by an uncontrollable tremor that hurt from the inside out, and the coffee cup fell from his hand, the fine porcelain shattering into pieces at his feet…

 

Extract from Arkyne, Story of a Vampire     Caroline Farrell (c) 2016

 

 

Arkyne, Story of a Vampire: Read the ebook for FREE

I’m delighted to announce that Smashwords have just launched their annual Summer Sale, where you can download a copy of Arkyne, Story of a Vampire, for FREE here

For the month of July only!

lucius 3

Black Crow

Cover title

Incantation

Budgie signed

Writers and Authors Feature Interview

Many thanks to Writers and Authors for this recent feature interview

 

What genre do you write and why?

I write mostly in the horror/supernatural genre, but also in dramatic fiction. I am a screenwriter and filmmaker too, which allows me the freedom to experiment in different genres and formats of storytelling, so in terms of creativity, I have many structures to imagine and develop stories.

Tell us about your latest book.

‘Arkyne, Story of a Vampire’ is my debut novel and is a supernatural tale of myth and magic. It is set mostly in Ireland on the Aran Island of Inis Mor, where Caleb Flaherty encounters the beautiful and mysterious French girl, Coco de Rais, only to discover that she has unwittingly unleashed a daemon vampire, Lucius. Drawn together from vastly different lives and finding themselves in mortal danger, the lovers must accept and utilize the power they have each inherited through their strange and magical lineage.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?

I learned a lot through the process, particularly in terms of the amount of discipline and commitment that is necessary to apply to the long form of novel writing. The story meandered between a screenplay and a novel for a number of years, and eventually, to force myself to finish it, I began to post sample chapters on my blog. I received some very helpful feedback from supportive readers and it really spurred me on to finish it. The sheer satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that I felt on ‘having written’ a novel was also rather unexpected!

Who are your favourite authors?

I have so many, so perhaps I’ll just list the ones I find inspirational in terms of writing: Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Ann Rice, Alice Hoffman, Susan Hill, Neil Gaiman, and lately, David Mitchell and Audrey Niffenegger.

What’s your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

One of my favourites is from Anne Lamott: “When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” From Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

I’m in favour of any method that enables an author to get their work out there. I understand how difficult it is for a lot of publishing houses, they simply don’t have the resources to publish every good book that comes their way, so authors have a right to look at alternative paths to publishing. I think people’s attitudes have changed for the better in regard to self-publishing in the last while. Sure, there are works out there that perhaps don’t meet the standard required, but overall, I think the vast majority of Indie Authors are sound, talented people with voices and stories that deserve a platform. I’ve been a librarian for almost 20 years, so I also understand that readers will find the works that speak to them, and whether that is fantasy, horror, crime, dystopian, erotica, western, romance, high-brow literature, classics or whatever else, taste is taste and there is an author out there to meet that need. Self-publishing bridges many gap, particularly with ebooks, supplying reading material that is cheaper and in abundance, and that means that more books are read, and more people are reading. Who can argue with that?

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Giving yourself permission to daydream, to imagine and to live in the fantastical worlds with the magnificent characters that exist inside your head!

What advice do you have for other writers?

Be brave. Write what you want to write. Write what you want to read. Look for feedback from people you trust and admire. Take the negative in your stride, don’t respond to it. Save your energy and embrace only the constructive criticism. Don’t assume you are better than anyone else. Don’t assume you are not as good as anyone else; you are unique, so strive to express your work in your own voice. Take inspiration from your own experience. Don’t try to imitate others. Keep at it.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I’m always delighted to connect with readers.

I have a website and blog: https://carolinefarrellwriter.com

I’m also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolineFarrellScreenwriter/

And Twitter: @CarolineAuthor

Where can a reader purchase your book?

Links to purchase ‘Arkyne, Story of a Vampire’ can be found here:

https://carolinefarrellwriter.com/category/links-to-purchase-arkyne-story-of-a-vampire/