April 2, 2004 was the earliest date I have recorded for the inception of Blood Family. Also known as Blood Family ~ Quest for the Vampire Key, the novel was going to be a Young Adult horror adventure which would by my take on vampires and what vampires might be. And when I’d decided that, I knew I was in for an interesting journey, but had no idea where it would take me…
Recently I was given the opportunity to contribute a vampire-themed short story or novella to In Vein – a vampire charity anthology book where 100% of the proceeds will go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital!
My story is entitled ‘Mom’. A lonely school child brings home his first friend, but struggles to hide the fact that his daylight-hating mother is a vampire.
This anthology was spearheaded by the endlessly energetic Jodie Pierce – author of the Vampire Queen trilogy. Thanks, Jodie! You are a star.
In Vein is available on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com
Giveaway! A special set of ebookmarks will be sent to the first reader to comment on this post!
Tara Fox Hall
Charie D. La Marr
Welcome back to fantasy and Sci Fi author, M. Pax!
M. Pax is known for her hit ‘Backworlds’ series of novels and the adult urban fantasy Hetty Locklear series. I am very pleased to have her back on Written Worlds! She has taken a fun look at the similarities between bloodsuckers and spacefarers – and also has a special announcement for her fans!
Take it away, M. Pax!
What fun to swap blogs with Mark Knight today. You’ll find him at mpaxauthor.com. We both have a love for things in the night.
Nine Things Vampires and Space Adventurers Have in Common:
1. Both work in the dark
2. They both fly – Vampires as bats. Spacepeople in spaceships
3. An irresistible allure – Vampires use their eyes. Spaceships use tractor beams.
4. Traveling at high speeds — Vampires faster than the eye, Spaceships faster than light
5. Both types of stories search for understanding of what it means to be human
6. Both space explorers and vampires enjoy seeing other people in red shirts
7. Eating a lot of garlic repels vampires and your shipmates
8. Some people think space travelers and vampires exist, some think it’s bullarky
9. Space travelers can also be very pale from a lack of sun if in space a long time
Can you think of any more?
I’m celebrating the audio release of The Backworlds. Currently available from Audible. You can win an audiobook by commenting at Samantha Geary’s blog on THIS POST before October 18, 2013.
In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the first book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. Try it for free. A space opera adventure.
After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the remaining planets. Competition is fierce, and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son. He tells his only boy their moon isn’t big enough for them both and gives Craze a ticket for the next transport leaving the space dock.
Treated worse than a stranger, like the scuzzbag of the galaxy, Craze is forced to flee his home. Cut off from everyone he knows with little money and no knowledge of the worlds beyond his, he must find away to forge a new life and make sure his father regrets this day.
And stay tuned! Backworlds #4, Beyond the Edge will be available any hour now.
M. Pax — Inspiring the words I write, I spend my summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where I live with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. I write science fiction and fantasy mostly You can find out more by visiting my website: mpaxauthor.com
Come chat on Twitter or FB. I spend a little time on Pinterest and Wattpad, too.
We all know that zombie games and zombie movies are at the height of their popularity. Zombie novels? They are big too. I always wanted to write one, but I knew I had to do it differently.
As well as the ‘Blood Family’ sequel, I am currently preparing my teen adventure novel, ‘Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls‘ for publication.
I wrote this supernatural tale in 2010, having been interested in exploring Irish folk tales and mythology, and setting a story in Galway, Ireland – a magical place where my parents now live and where my father was born.
Popular author and mythologist Dr Bob Curran helped me research this book.
The novel is intended for a slightly younger audience than Blood Family.
Solomon is a 15-year-old British teen who gets himself cursed – and becomes undead. Now, he has to find a cure.
Just as ‘Blood Family‘ was a new take on vampire lore, this is my own twist on zombie mythology. Plenty of magic, strange creatures, and rollicking adventure here… plus a trip to the Underworld.
‘Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls’ is due for Amazon release end March 2014.
Here for you is the textless cover artwork by noted fantasy artist David M. Rabbitte along with the back cover blurb, which should set the stage for you!
I hope you will love this book – aimed at teens, but also meant for everyone
~ Mark Knight.
Solomon Grimm is a pretty average teen. He goes to school. He hangs out with friends. He plays guitar in a band. There’s a lot to look forward to—new friends, playing gigs around the country, and hopefully a special girl to become part of his life.
All that is about to change.
While on Easter vacation in Ireland, Solomon falls foul of a gypsy woman. He is cursed and joins the marbh bheo—the living dead. Never to breathe, or grow, or love, and now able to see every supernatural being once invisible to him, his fate is to wander the fog-shrouded hills of Shanvarra for eternity… never to return home.
Solomon tracks down the woman who cursed him. She makes a deal with him. If he will bring her abducted daughter, Tara Danan, back to her, she will reverse the spell and restore Solomon to his old self. Solomon now has a terrifying task ahead of him. For Tara has been taken to the Underworld, a place reachable only through the forbidden Well of Souls.
Along with his new friend, the incurably curious Mungo, Solomon must brave the darkening depths of this hidden world, where the slavering, flesh-eating Savage Dead search endlessly for a way to the surface. If Solomon’s bravery—as well as a whole host of undead powers—holds out, he might just find Tara Danan before becoming trapped in the Underworld forever…
SOLOMON GRIMM AND THE WELL OF SOULS by MARK KNIGHT
FIRST 8 CHAPTERS AVAILABLE TO READ FOR FREE NOW ON WATTPAD!
Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
Tara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. Her writing credits include nonfiction short stories, flash, short and novella-length horror stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance.
Her horror stories have appeared in Deadman’s Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Ghastly Door, The Halloween Alliance, Black Petals, SNM Horror Magazine, Microhorror, Dark Eclipse, Cemetery Moon, and various anthologies, including the recently published charity works Fear (Vol. 1) and Shifters. She also coauthored the essay “The Allure of the Serial Killer,” published in Serial Killers – Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
Tara Fox Hall on vampires: “I’ve loved vampires since I saw Frank Langella in the first “hot vampire” version of Dracula years ago. That love intensified in my later teens with The Lost Boys, and reading Interview with the Vampire, along with anything vampire I could get my hands on. But I wanted more than the evil monster chasing young virgins; more than the sweet, misunderstood handsome fanged stranger that becomes the perfect mate for the woman who captures his heart after so many lone centuries. I wanted a vampire so well-crafted in detail that I could believe he was real. I wanted something different to happen in the story, other than girl becomes vampire, or vampire becomes dust. I wanted passion, tragedy, romance, suspense, action, and the haunting sweetness of poetry and song floating on a soft night breeze. So I penned my own vampires.”
Tara Fox Hall talks about her latest book: “My latest book is Taken for His Own, the fourth instalment in my Promise Me Series. It takes up where the third book left off. Sar had done her best to rebuild her life when her fiancé Theo went missing. She’s partnered with her former vampire lover Danial to raise Theo’s daughter Elle (Elle’s natural mother is dead from childbirth complications). She’s also had a child of her own with Danial, Theoron, and is trying to come to terms with her inevitable turning from human to vampire.
“When she finds out Theo’s alive, she can’t stop herself from journeying west to find him, and confront him about where he’s been for the last year and a half. This is where Taken for His Own begins. After a passionate reunion and a hasty marriage, the two lovebirds are headed back east. But picking up the pieces is far from easy. While Danial is accepting of Theo’s return, Elle prefers her vampire adoptive father over Theo. More than one enemy is waiting in the wings, making repeat attempts on Sar’s life. Add into the mix Devlin, Sar’s old enemy who’s now turned good guy, and a new paramour for Danial and you’ve got a powder keg primed to explode.”
Book Title: Promise Me (Promise Me Series #1) – Vampire romance
Format: print and e-book
Date Released: June 2012
These days, people love all things vampire, be it Twilight, True Blood, or The Vampire Diaries. Horror movies reign supreme. The supernatural continues to be very popular.
For those of you who have read my Young Adult urban fantasy novel, Blood Family, you will know that it features a whole host of vampire hunters, including Logan DuPris, her father, Quenton DuPris, and reluctant vampire tracker Pastor Nathan Dark.
But they are fiction.
What about reality? Are there really – I mean REALLY – vampire hunters in this world? Well, I tracked one down and have interviewed him for Written Worlds! Get your crosses and garlic ready, and read on…
You will be more than a little amazed by his blood-curdling accounts of Bishop Seán Manchester.
Bishop Manchester has specialised in the ministry of exorcism for four decades, having entered the Minor Order of Exorcistate in early 1973 and acknowledged by many as one of Britain’s foremost authorities on demonology (including vampirology) and exorcism.
I am very happy (and a little intimidated!) to be interviewing him for Written Worlds…
Mark Knight: You came into the spotlight with the Highgate Vampire case in the 1970s, but your interest and knowledge of vampires no doubt goes back further in time. When did you first start researching this unusual subject?
Seán Manchester: Serious introduction to the subject came about in the 1960s (I cannot recall precisely when) with my reading The Vampire: His Kith & Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929), both by Montague Summers, prior to which the supernatural had always held a fascination since early childhood. Summers led me to read more obscure vampirological works from earlier centuries. I have the good fortune to know quite well someone who themselves knew Montague Summers and received from Summers a “vampire protection medallion” (referred to and illustrated in The Vampire’s Bedside Companion anthology published in 1975 where I also make a contribution). The medallion has been bequeathed to me by its owner.
Mark Knight: How much of the current vampire lore is generated by Hollywood and how much of it is genuine? Or is any of it genuine?
Seán Manchester: I am unfamiliar with much of the current culture appertaining to vampires and vampirism, but I suspect it has little bearing on the lore of centuries past. My knowledge, albeit supplemented by experts from yestercenturies, is based more on experience than it is on speculative consideration and contemporary culture.
Mark Knight: Among your fields of research are the areas of demonology and demonaltry. Please can you explain the meaning of these two terms?
Seán Manchester: The word “demonology” refers to the study of demons whereas the word “demonolatry” covers the study of those who practice diabolism and the minutiae of their darkly occult ritualism. Since the late 1950s and early 1960s the word has also been adopted by diabolists themselves as a reference to describe their demon worship. When I use the word it is in its older meaning, that is, pertaining to studying and researching about diabolists and their sinister practices.
Mark Knight: What would you say to someone who insists that vampires and demons do not exist in the real world?
Seán Manchester: I think you will find that most people not only dismiss the existence of demons (vampires are predatory demons) in our largely atheistic, secular society, but all things supernatural. I would merely say that I hope they are never confronted by the demonic whilst I pray they encounter the angelic. To those who do not believe, no amount of words from me will convince them of anything supernatural, whereas no words or convincing are required from me to those who already believe.
Mark Knight: Would you recommend anyone who is interested in vampirolgical research and demonology to get involved and if so, what advice would you give him/her?
Seán Manchester: I would not advise anyone to “get involved” unless they absolutely know they have a definite calling to the ministry of exorcism. Then I would advise them to seek out a traditionalist branch of their Church. Otherwise, study the subject by all means, but do not dabble in it or otherwise become involved.
Mark Knight: Lastly, what are your current interests and projects? Who is Seán Manchester in everyday terms, outside of all things clerical?
Seán Manchester: I do not like to talk about projects where I am only a consultant or contributor (and there are several) or where I have been asked not to discuss the project until it is in post-production and closer to release. Where I am solely in control I would feel free to engage in that conversation and only then where it does not compromise the integrity of the project or any confidences placed in me by other people.
Outside of all things clerical, I am a portrait artist (oil on canvas), a photographer, poet, musician and composer. I am a collector of antique objects ranging from sacred relics to Byronania, rare books, paintings, phonograph cylinders and 78rpm records, daguerreotypes, Victorian and Edwardian photographs, artifacts, curiosities and miscellany. I have a number of old cameras, my favourite being a 19th century Thornton & Pickard brass and mahogany plate camera. The majority of my antiques are 19th century and earlier with only a few specific items of more recent vintage.
Artifacts most precious to me are the relics of saints and those awaiting canonization, that is, the venerated and the beatified. These are housed in reliquaries installed at my private retreat. I have written a memoir which I doubt I shall ever offer for publication. My current instruction is to have it burned to ashes upon my demise.
Don’t forget your Holy Water…
Free on Kindle from May 13th to 17th.
Celebrate! My good friend, author Ellie Garratt, is giving away her superbly scary short story collection Passing Time for free from May 13th to the 17th. Tell your friends, enjoy a free copy, and leave her a great review on Amazon – make this great writer very happy!
Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares.
A man lives to regret Passing Time. A father will do anything to save his son in Expiration Date. An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in The Devil’s Song. A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in Luna Black.
In Dining in Hell, the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop.
A serial killer wants to add another file to his collection in The Vegas Screamer. In Eating Mr. Bone, an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end. A con man meets his first ghost in Land of the Free. And will truth finally be set free in The Letter?
About The Author
A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror, meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time is her first eBook collection and contains nine previously published stories. Her science fiction collection Taking Time will be published later this year.
Blood Family – Quest for the Vampire Key is on Ultimate YA!
The feature starts tomorrow and will continue throughout the month with 1-2 posts each week. Learn all about the story of half-vampire Daniel Dark and his perilous quest to confront his malevolent vampire father.
From the site:
Ultimate YA is an organization that promotes young adult literature (YA lit) and reading. We feature one YA lit author per month. Each feature includes a short bio of the author, as well as fun facts and an interview. If you would like to be featured, please send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to our features, we post quotes and memes of the week that relate to books, writing, and/or reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively. We also post anything else that we find interesting regarding reading and writing.
I am thrilled to announce that my Young Adult urban fantasy novel, Blood Family ~ Quest for the Vampire Key is now available on Amazon US and Amazon UK! Thank you to all the fantastic people who have supported me and this work, and those who helped give this book a professional shine – Ali Cross of Novel Ninjutsu, Anne Victory of Victory Editing, David Rabbitte for his amazing cover art, and Tatania Vila for her superb cover fonts.
Look out for Blood Family on Ultimate YA – where it will be featuring on April 1st (no fooling’!).
The book will also be the ‘featured read’ on I Love Vampire Novels great site.
And that’s not all, I will be appearing on many sites and blogs over the coming weeks. Find out about more about Daniel Dark’s perilous journey, and what inspired my take on vampire lore.
I will be giving everyone heads-up when each and every one of these features has gone live.
A vampire father, an imprisoned mother, and one perilous journey…
Lazy, goalless New England teenager Daniel Dark never intended his life to change so dramatically. It starts with the arrival of a mysterious package, and the revelation that his true father was a master vampire named Dominus. As his own fearsome powers begin to emerge, he sets out to rescue his birth mother, still imprisoned in Dominus’ stronghold. Strange clues take Daniel to the deep forests of southern Mexico and then to the mist-shrouded moors of England. Hot on his heels is his adoptive father – Pastor Nathan Dark, determined to find and kill he boy he had once called his son.
Urban fantasy for Young Adult readers and beyond.
Today I am very honoured to have Dr Bob Curran appear on Written Worlds. Many of you will know Bob from his many books, especially those that explore the origins of all things supernatural.
Bob lives in Derry, Northern Ireland, not far from the world-famous natural basalt land feature known as the Giant’s Causeway.
First of all, Bob, I would like to thank you for appearing on Mark Knight’s Written Worlds. You certainly know your supernatural stuff, and have quite a few books out there on the subject.
Bob, you are a prolific writer. Your books about the origins of supernatural beings have been very popular. What compelled you to write about vampires, faeries, and werewolves?
I grew up in a largely rural mountain community in Northern Ireland during the late 1940s/early 1950s in which tradition and superstition often played a significant part in everyday life. For example, when I was a child there was a widespread belief in both fairies and ghosts – it was believed for instance that fairies could spirit away children or could cause illness in both livestock and in humans – and this to some extent shaped the world around us. At certain times of the year, the dead were believed to walk the lonely roads around my home and few would venture out after a certain time of day. There were too, old earthworks and standing stones all about – some with a particularly evil reputation and this determined, as children, where we could go and play.
I remember when I was very young, hearing of a girl in our area who had simply vanished near an old stone – there was a hunt for her for several days but she was never found, goodness knows what had actually happened to her – and being told that the fairies or sheehogues had taken her and I was not to visit that site or the same would happen to me.
I was raised mainly by my maternal grandmother and grandfather and it was from him that I got my love of storytelling. As a young man, he had been a labourer in many parts of the North and he had a fund of stories that he could draw on – many concerning ghosts, witchcraft and the supernatural. Such beliefs determined both my community and my grandfather as an individual and so you could say that it also formed part of the culture that I grew up with and that it became ingrained within me.
Later, I began to travel a bit and I began to see how culture and belief systems were replicated in various ways in other parts of the world. Each culture seemed to have variants of fairies, werecreatures, walking dead etc. which somehow underpinned and to some extent explained the world around it. So I began to write about it in my books, I suppose as a way in which to explore my own past and to understand what my community was like when I was growing up.
I suppose the question for me is not whether or not these being actually exist – they may do, they may not – but rather why we would want to believe in them and what they tell us about ourselves. And what they tell me about myself.
You have appeared on Coast to Coast and other radio shows, and are always a popular guest. What do people ask you about the most when they phone in to a radio show or podcast?
In a sense this question continues on from the last. Not only do I get a host of e-mails with questions and comments – some through the publishers and some directly to me. A good number of them ask me or want to tell me about experiences which the caller/writer has had. In these situations people are trying to make sense of the world for themselves and to determine their place in, in relation to other things.
I suppose speaking with a psychologist’s hat on, some people are seeking reassurance that they are not “bizarre” or mad; others might be seeking a rational explanation for an event which they can’t really explain for themselves, others still want to know how what I write fits in with other things that they have read pr are thinking about.
Other questioners want to ask me about my religious beliefs and how what I write fits in with them. I have received communications from Born Again Christians who tell me that I shouldn’t be dealing in such things, even to explain them to myself. It is of course their right to question me in this as it frames up their world for them and gives them some form of certainty. Mind you, I’ve been already denounced here in Northern Ireland and in print as “the physical embodiment of the Antichrist” by a leading minister.So you now know who you’re talking to!
But I get all sorts of questions on all sots of topics and no matter how strange I always try to answer them as best I can.
Vampires seem to be perennially popular. You have written three books about them. Do you think that they could actually exist?
Vampires are indeed extremely popular and I think they have changed a lot over the years. For instance, when I was growing up, the vampire was a tall and saturnine East European nobleman who looked something like Christopher Lee who lived in a ruined castle somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains. Now vampires can be some angst-ridden teenager who attends a local high-school somewhere near you. In between these are languid aristocrats who inhabit some gloomy area of New Orleans.
What interests me most is not whether or not they actually exist but why we would want them to. As you say, they have been perennially popular down the years and almost every culture in the world has its own variation of them. Therefore what fundamental human questions does a belief in vampires address? I would think it might try to answer a couple of them…
A) What happens to us after death? Death is of course the last great mystery. Nobody has ever come back to give us a detailed account of what happens beyond the grave so we can speculate.
B) What would it be like to live forever? Would there be some sort of price it we did? I think that the idea of vampires addresses some of these questions in part – there are of course a number of other elements in the vampire motif such as eroticism, eternal youth etc. Much of our perceptions of the creature are of course determined by the wider popular culture, through books, television and films.
As I said earlier, it was the vampire films of Christopher Lee which determined how vampires “looked” when I was growing up but if you go back earlier you’ll see the horrible creature in black and white films like Nosferatu as portrayed by Maximilian Shrek.
Nowadays, in our celebrity based culture, the vampire has to look something like a rock star. Therefore, here in the West the idea of the vampire emerges out of the dominant culture and often how we see ourselves. In other cultures it emerges out of the fears and nightmares of the people – the old woman living alone; the person who is slightly at variance with his/her community, those who have different ways. These get absorbed into the wider myth. So in a sense it is possible to say that vampires do exist – but only because we create them.
Bob, you have compiled a great deal of information about folklore, and have travelled to many countries. What is the most bizarre myth or legend you have come across?
In a sense, the folklore of any community or country is shaped by the perceptions of the people. This is why I’ve argued that some of these old tales are just as important as actual historical documentation in that they tell us how our ancestors—and their culture—have framed up the world for themselves. And each community frames that world up in a slightly different way. So the culture of say the Middle East is a bit different from that of Western Europe but essentially they address the same problems because no matter where we live, human experience is roughly the same for us all. We’re born, we love, we eat, we sleep, we die – no matter who we are or what status or culture we belong to, the broad experience of being human is roughly the same.
But there are idiosyncrasies in every community/culture just as there are in human beings, that’s what makes the traditions and folklore of different parts of the world distinctive in their own right. Legends too serve to explain and to provide a context for experience and each one is distinctive. We only consider them to be bizarre, I suppose, if they don’t conform to our own interpretations of the world.
So I don’t think there is a “most bizarre” myth or tradition. Although many would appear to be unique to the culture that has produced them, I think that, in their own way, every one tries to explain some aspect of human experience
You were of great help to me when I was writing my Young Adult novel, Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls, which is out later this year. The book is set mainly in Ireland and deals with many of the weird and wonderful supernatural creatures known to Irish folklore – the marbh bheo, the Dullahan, and sheehogues. There seems to be more supernatural folklore in Ireland than anywhere else, yet people really only know about the banshee. Why do you think this is?
The Irish are great storytellers and much of their tradition —and culture—in an oral one which has, up until recently, been passed down across the generations.
My own grandfather for instance was a known seanchie —a man of lore or a storyteller who kept old stories and local knowledge alive in the area around our home. Over my lifetime, such tradition has more or less died out, even in country places, largely thanks to television and other media. So it’s no real surprise that some of the beings and entities have in many ways passed into obscurity.
Another point is that although such beings are weird and wonderful they were largely localised and were possibly the product of a localised and tightly knit community. There were of course more widely recognised beings such as —as you say—the banshee or the leprechaun which often travelled with the Irish people, although there were localised variants of each. The leprechaun is well-known I think because of Irish marketing —he seems to appear on everything Irish. And of course the banshee —which also appears in various localised forms—has always been associated with the Irish and in particular the Irish abroad. However, other entities —the Dullahan, the Far Gorta and such were more localised in their aspect.
Bob, you are also involved with your local community in Derry, Northern Ireland. Tell us a little bit about the causes you support, and any important issues that visitors to this blog may be interested to hear about.
The community work is another aspect of my life and is one that I was involved with even before I started writing. I came into it through community education which more or less developed to encompass other social and community problems. I am now working in a part-time capacity for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. That’s not as grand as it sounds of course but there’s quite a bit of work involved.
Here in Northern Ireland we’ve come through between thirty or forty years of conflict. Although we now have what might be described as a “Peace Process” in operation things are by no means over. Scars have been left on many communities —and on individual lives—by conflict; despite the relative peace, paramilitaries still hold a great deal of sway in certain areas and there are still deep sensitivities amongst many people. A good many of the communities have been left devastated, both in a financial, resource and personal sense by the years of conflict.
Part of my job is to go into these communities from which the paramilitaries have more or less withdrawn and help them to rebuild their sense of identity, their confidence and their financial resources. Some of this is done through education – the development of local history programmes for instance —some of it is done through organising local events; some of it is done by working on community projects. Some of my work is done on a cross-community level by organising shared events between Catholics, Protestants and other nationalities —for example in some areas we have large Polish, Chinese and Indian populations who sometimes find it difficult to integrate into already existing communities. I help them set up bodies which will aid that. And, as funding for community programmes gets tighter and tighter, I have to encourage small groups in certain areas to work together – sometimes Catholic and Protestant, sometimes Northern Irish people and other nationalities; sometimes places here there have been local tensions. It’s not always easy.
For instance, I’m working with a small village in North Antrim which has only one street but four community groups operating there, none of which speak to the other. And they’re all Protestant, though varying shades of Protestant perspectives. So a lot of my work comprises educator, counsellor, peacemaker and government official – often with varying degrees of success. And of course in some of the areas I work in —particularly the large estates on the edges of towns—the paramilitaries are still pretty much in control and I have to negotiate setting up community programmes with them. On some occasions I’ve been sitting in a room negotiating with men wearing shoulder holsters and on a couple of times a loaded firearm has been set on a table in front of me. It can get a bit scary at times. But of course, it’s not all like that —just a few instances. However, things can still be a bit tense in Northern Ireland.
The recent flag protests have created problems in some areas and recently I suffered from bruised ribs when I was hit by some concrete thrown by a protestor at a venue which I was doing a presentation. But these things are few and far between and are part of the job. However, the tensions are still very high in some areas – mainly stirred up by paramilitary elements – and so 2013 has really hit the ground running for me in that respect.
I also chair a couple of community programmes on some of the large and generally neglected estates across Northern Ireland – one, for instance, to help young mothers get qualifications by providing education on their estate and crèche facilities for their children. I was one of a team who set that up from scratch and it’s now running very well. I step down as chair but remain involved next week.
On an individual level I run a couple of weekly trauma programmes in a nearby town —this was something I set up at the end of last year and which has been a success. This is mainly for the unsung victims of the conflict —people who have had relatives shot, blown up or who have been affected by the conflict in some way. Sometimes people have had to flee the areas they were brought up in and are just feeling lonely where they’ve had to settle. I’ll work with them all. It’s a small contribution but I like to think that I’m doing a little bit to make life more tolerable in Northern Ireland. Although we have a so-called peace process it’s far from perfect and there’s still a great deal to do it we’re to move forward.
Finally, what is the subject of your next supernatural book?
Because of the community issues – and they have got worse over the last four or five months largely because of the flag protests and other elements – I’ve not had as much time to write as I would like. Still having a think about some major books and discussing them with publishers.However, there are a couple of illustrated books coming up for which I’ve done/am doing the text.
One is the Carnival of Dark Dreams and the other is The Witch Hunter’s Handbook. Also another project which I don’t want to say too much about as nothing’s been finalised as yet. But keep watching this space!
More on Dr Bob Curran, his works, and latest projects on his official blog site: drbobcurran.blogspot.co.uk