Sussex Tales (extract) Ash Twig Stomping

Ash wednesday comes around once more and this extract from Susses Tales tells of the ancient custom passed down among Sussex school children for generations!

Jan Edwards

51ghEz6lmDL._AA160_At the bottom of the lane I slowed by the small copse that separated our lane from the main farm road. I dropped my bike on the verge and surveyed the woodland’s edge. Fortunately for me this section of frith had yet to be cleared and there were plenty of saplings to be raided. I jumped across the ditch and grabbed onto a young ash standing proud from the mass of newly emerging green. It took only a moment or two to select a couple of growing tips; slender and smooth and grey, their foliage still encased in cool black buds that looked for all the world like the hooves of tiny goats.

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Echoes of Scott

Famous Horses in Fact and Fiction: Young Lochinvar‘Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…’

That line has been running through my head all of this morning, and though Scott doubtless had specific thoughts of lust and betrayal at its heart when he first penned Marmion (which is, after all, essentially crime fiction), I’ve always thought it apt for writers in general; and increasingly so as I wade into the murky waters of historical crime fiction.

To my mind, the entire raison d’être of fiction writers is to deceive their audience. Deceive them into believing that which is being laid out before them is ‘true’, at least within itself.  Even the fantasy writer must construct a world that is true to itself within its own bubble, because if that writer does not know what is true or possible in that universe, they will never be able to persuade a reader that the people and places they have created just may exist, somewhere out there, in another time and place. Continue reading

An Extract From ‘Drawing Down The Moon’ #fiction #fables&fabrications #horror

In the light (  🙂 ) of this week’s supermoon…

front cover copyAn extract from ‘Drawing Down the Moon’ – one of the creepy tales to be  found in my collection Fables and Fabrications.  (Available in paper and kindle formats)

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…She breathed in ozone-laden moisture and remembered how she had stood on the hillside within the temple grounds on many such nights as for old enmity he held for her sisterhood.

Wilder elements always focused her psyche. This rite was something she had not anticipated acting out ever again, yet it was always there; waiting in the shadows for her to reach out and pluck it into the semi-light.

Kicking off her shoes she shed her coat, letting it slip free of her fingers. She unzipped her skirt and allowed it to drop around her ankles. I who have nothing, she crooned into the room’s silence, and smiled. In the old days men were crazed by the notion of spying on her order. In the old days the Sisters would have crazed any man known to risk that spying. She unbuttoned her blouse as she hummed the recent ballad, swaying her hips, taking her time, taunting. Any added emotion her audience brought to the rite was to be welcomed.

She stood tall in nothing but black chemise and composure. Long ago she would have been naked but temperature ruled against it. They would have their floor show soon enough. Let them leer, allow them anticipation.

Her lips moved, like a slow reader, not singing now but chanting. To herself first, and then more loudly as her conscious merged with the echoes of beyond. She called on the Keres, daughters of Nyx, on Mnemosyne and Bia and on Lethe, but most of all she called to Styx and to Hecate. She slipped into the ritual as a ripe and luscious strawberry slides into the rich, sweet, darkness of chocolate. She became the rite, the vessel, through which the tendrils wafting off the Veil strayed into this world.

Energised by her actions she moved to the fountain; stretching her arms toward the spigots, whirling three times in a twisted, fluid dance; aping the very water. She swayed beneath the liquid, allowing it to cascade around her neck and shoulders before throwing her head back to loose a wild ululation. She called once again upon Hecate and Styx to allow the soul departed a brief return.

From beyond the clouds she felt the pull of the moon. It called her and she called back, repeating her watery dance twice more. Then she dropped to the hard, cool floor; prostrating herself before her elementals, with arms outstretched.

Wind rattled the glass, reaching into the room and splaying the fountain’s water flow in its passing, rippling the voile curtains into horizontal.

Whilst this Thessalian woman worked her dark acts; diving into the world of shades and emerging with an act of full blown necromancy, just two pairs of eyes watched her, in thrall as the bodyguards, having washed the corpse had withdrawn; apparently not to be privy to any information the deceased might have.

Cin saw Jeno.

Cin saw her boy.

Their heads were almost touching. She saw them both look at her, and whisper to each other.

Betrayal? Was he also a man? Mid-rite she could not permit her own wants to intrude. She could not, would not, see her boy intimate with the man who killed so lightly.

The storm cut off as though a switch had been flicked. Where there had been only cloud, a harsh moonlight slotted across the untidy shagginess of blasted borders and winter lawns, glinting off the door panes and onto the woman who waited for its touch.

Cinthia swept off her eye patch to expose a puckered depression. Deliberately, elegantly, she came up to full height with arms up and rigid fingers splayed wide. She flexed each digit, clawing at the shaft of light, emitting a litany of noise from deep in her throat.

Listeners could not discern words in either Greek or English, but there was an unmistakable cadence placed on the edges of those notes that shredded nerves as surely as cat-claws down velvet curtains.

The moon’s colour changed, starting on one side and creeping across its face, growing deeper and larger than its silvery persona. It had taken on a reddish hue, hanging low, resting on the jagged horizon of surrounding rooftops; a fecund and brooding night bird waiting to drop on its prey.

So Why the Cat?

front cover copyOne of the most frequently asked questions from people who first see my Fables and Fabrications collection is ‘why the cat?’ Continue reading

Fables on Murder, Mayhem and More

An excellent review for  Fables and Fabrications on Murder Mayhem and More.

front cover copy“Compact chronicles, seemingly distilling the detail and energy from an entire novel into a condensed, compelling form …  (Edwards)  expertly blends matter-of-fact everyday reality with far-fetched and fanciful notions that somehow seem entirely credible.”

 

Fairytales Amongst the Fables

In need of a little brightness today so I am highlighting  two slightly comic stories from the fourteen included in Fables and Fabrications.

Continue reading

Fables Freebie!

The fabulous Crime and SF news and reviews site Murder Mayhem and More  is running a giveaway on Facebook for a Fables and Fabrications  extract as below!   *Note – you need to go to this Murder Mayhem and More page to enter!

*Competition***Like&Share*
FABLES & FABRICATIONS by Jan Edwards is out this week. To celebrate its publication, we have an exclusive prize-draw competition to ‪#‎win‬ an‪#‎ebook‬ edition of ‘Midnight Twilight’ – one of the 14 tales of mystery, mirth and the macabre included in this anthology.
Who is the distant figure who drives his sled across the arctic snowscape in the midnight hour? Is he man or myth? Find out in the bitter chill of isolation in ‘Midnight Twilight’
Like and/or Share the post over at  the Murder Mayhem and More page and you’ll be in with a chance to win.

In Fables & Fabrications, Jan Edwards leads us through a world where nothing is as it seems, from the arctic wastes of Norway to a fun-filled evening at the fair. Shape changers, ancient spirits and crafty cats all play their crucial parts in stories that unsettle and disturb the reader’s perception.

Chosen from Jan’s back catalogue of horror and dark fantasy, these stories are collected here for the first time in one volume, enhanced by a sprinkling of verse. ‘Midnight Twilight’ is just one of these tales – and it’s one you could win…

This is a worldwide draw. Competition closes midnight 6 May 2016.
Good luck! Come back and check on May 7th and 8th to see if you’ve won.

Murder Mayhem & More's photo.