Hallowe’en Story: The Silk Road

by Jenny Brigalow

The sky was bright with diamante light and a silvery moon.  A sly breeze slid through a gap in the warped window frame.  A curtain flicked and brushed across Jack’s face. He sat bolt upright in bed, senses on red alert. A cry of dismay slipped through his teeth as blackness spread over the window pane. 

Inside his chest, his heart raced like a hot-rod. It was back! His teeth clenched at the sound of the moth’s frantic, desperate tap, tap, tap, tapping. On and on it went as the beast gyrated up and down. He felt as if its wings were in his head brushing across his brain. It drove him mental. Completely crackers. Then his mind conjured up his father’s gun. A flush of relief rippled through him. Of course. He would shoot the shite.

The moth froze. Jack observed it nervously. Was it his imagination or was it bigger? His eyes swept over the thick furry body, the groping, slender feelers and wide wings.  The brilliant pink tip of its abdomen scraped over the glass, swollen, glistening and pulsating.  Gross.  It was bigger; the velvety wings extended past the glass and beat their crazy tattoo on the wooden frames.

And then it was gone.

Jack let out his breath and sagged down onto the bed. His whole body quivered like a spot lit wallaby.  Then his spine stiffened as the moonlight blotted out. Like a cannon ball, the moth came back. It hit the window like a missile. The pane cracked.

Shit!”  Jack shot back and slithered over the edge of his bed.  For one mad moment he considered waking his dad. But he swallowed the idea like an undissolved aspirin. That would be an embarrassing conversation. “Hey, Dad, will you just come and kill this scary moth for me please?” A man had his pride. No. He’d just have to sort this himself.

Before he lost his nerve he slid out the bedroom door, padded barefoot down the creaking boards and onto the back veranda. There he paused, senses probing the familiar landscape. All seemed quiet. Gum trees slumbered and cast long moon shadows.  The only sound was his breath rasping in and out of his lips. A pulse hammered in his neck and Jack slapped a hand over the spot, scared the moth would hear. He nearly pissed himself when a soulful howl slapped the silence.  Dingo.  He forced his feet down the steps, leapt across the gravel path and flew inside the shed door. Too scared to switch on the light, he fumbled and stumbled until his fingers found the smooth comforting length of the rifle. He lifted it, broke it down, and peered down the sights. Loaded.

Jack stepped back outside and raced down the long length of the house. At the corner he paused, suddenly unsure. Maybe he’d just sneak back in and kip on the sofa. But then his ears caught the familiar sound of wings buffeting his window. Frustration and fury ignited in his belly and he set off with newfound determination. Rifle ready, he moved swiftly, circling around. With luck it’d never see him and he would blast it with both barrels.

And, for one deeply satisfying minute, Jack felt a wave of victory. The moth seemed insensible to all but its own frenzied quest. Smoothly, carefully, he lifted the rifle and took aim. But, as his finger squeezed the trigger, the moth dropped away and took flight. Jack swore violently. He lost sight of it. And then he spotted it silhouetted against the sky. He took off, racing across the garden and the paddock. At the boundary fence he paused.  He peered into the forest. It was dark. The moth, if it was there, was hidden.  As Jack turned to go, his eye caught a glistening thread of light upon the forest floor. Curious, he wiggled through the sagging strands of barbed wire and crouched down to see. It was a silk road.  A long string of caterpillars moved sinuously along the silk strand away into the trees. Without hesitation he followed.

On and on it wondered, through clumps of lantana, down dry creek beds and across dusty dirt roads. A burned out shell of a house loomed like a cluster of broken teeth. The MacDonald’s old place. The old ruin was a long way from home. Maybe he should turn back. It was then that he realised that he no longer had the gun.   He continued on.  Finally, behind the ruined homestead, the trail ended. Jack looked up at the ghost gum that gleamed softly in the moon light. His eyes roved up its smooth skin and into the gnarled and ancient head, adorned with mistletoe and stag horns.  Cicadas strummed a ghostly serenade and the wind whispered secrets into the ears of leaves. He looked down at the forest floor. At his feet the ground dappled. Half hidden in shadow, a shimmering metallic mound hugged the bole of the tree. Jack sucked in a lungful of eucalyptus air and stepped back, sweat bursting from his pores as the mound split apart.

His mouth opened wide as a dark shadow emerged from the cocoon. He waited, taut as high tensile wire.  She stretched, and her feelers unfurled. Beneath the dark, downy skin her sinews flexed and rippled. On thin, bony feet she came. Jack could smell her. Like fruit and honey.

Sharp fingers flickered across his chest. Jack held his breath. Shadow fell across his face as her wings unfolded and wrapped him in a velveteen embrace. Jack looked up into eyes that glittered like wet coal. And he waited to see if this was heaven or if it was hell.

The End?

Hallowe’en Series: A Family Ghost

by Louise Forster


A true story.

Cross my heart … and stuff.

Our robust, Mediterranean brother in-law, Jon, died of pancreatic cancer. A long and excruciatingly painful death.

A loveable man with a huge heart and short fuse. He used to fire up when his immediate family did hot-headed stupid things. He had a strong sense of right and wrong and his siblings, aunts and uncles, even his mother would cop it at times. He protected his wife, my sister in-law, from a lot of the squabbling and no one dared say a word against her. He was always gentle and loveable towards us, his in-laws. He’d greet our girls, arms out wide ready to give them a tight hug with, “G’day Tiger. Who luvs ya baby.” They will always remember him with a soft smile and a warm heart.

After the funeral, we spent few days taking a relaxing drive through country Australia from Melbourne to Northern NSW. We stopped at Dubbo Zoo and other interesting places to give my sister-in-law a well-earned break. Early one morning after our first night home, something roused me; to this day I haven’t a clue how or why it happened. I raised myself up off the pillow, and eyes open, I looked at what I can only describe as a bunch of broken white lines in the form of a person gliding past my side of the bed. There was no soft ghostly-wispy look about this vision. As for me, I wasn’t in the least bit troubled seeing this. I thought, Oh, okay that’s interesting, and then I lay my head down and went back to sleep. I have since wondered whether Jon had the power to simply ease my concern and send me back to sleep. I can’t help it, I have a strong suspicion that he did this to me – or rather for me.

Later that morning as we sat around the table having breakfast with DH’s sister-in-law, I noticed he had a faraway, pensive look, and had become more emotional again. Jon’s cancer and death had hit him hard … he questioned why this loveable bloke whose heart was huge and nothing was ever too much trouble had to suffer such an agonizing death. A man who gave his girls amazing confidence in their abilities; a man who sized up their boyfriends with a ‘do not hurt my nieces’ look. Hoping it would help, I mentioned what had happened to me that morning, and how my scepticism, which bordered on ‘what a load of nonsense ghosts are not real’, was given a good rattling. That what I’d seen that morning was not a figment of my imagination, also that I wasn’t the least bit worried about the whole episode. DH is a disbeliever, the after-life, ghosts, angels, heaven and hell do not exist for him. After he’s listened to my story, his face had a weird ‘I don’t believe this stuff’ quirky grin he gets sometimes. But eyes wavering between scepticism and doubt, he told me that he’d dreamed Jon came to his side of the bed and that he got out of bed to hug him goodbye. DH said he felt him, felt Jon’s arms around him as he felt Jon’s shoulders against his, saying, ‘Goodbye mate.’ And then he woke up.

And now we wonder.


28381In the sequel to Home Truths, Louise Forster returns to the sleepy country town of Tumble Creek with the story of a cop, a teacher and a mystery that will bring them together—or tear them apart.

Art teacher and occasional life model Sofie Dove wants to know what’s up with Brock Stewart. Everything about the ex SAS soldier turned police officer seems to scream passion—and it’s all for her—but he just won’t express it. All she knows is that he has a past that still keeps him up some nights.

After a semi-trailer crashes through Sofie’s house and the driver disappears into thin air, Brock insists he’s the only one who can keep her safe—but can he, when they can’t seem to trust each other?

While Sofie works on figuring out why this man keeps giving her mixed messages, Brock is determined to find out who’s out to get her—as they both find out why falling in love is a bit like being hit by a truck.


Hallowe’en Series: Alison Stuart’s Soldier and Spy

by Alison Stuart

When you are next stuck in a traffic jam on Queens Road in Melbourne and find yourself looking at this old Victorian mansion (now part of a hotel), spare a thought for Albert whose restless spirit is still causing mayhem (by all accounts).

So, you ask, who is Albert? Settle down, pour yourself a stiff drink and listen to the sad tale of Netherby’s last resident.


Netherby House c1999 The orderly room was to the right of the front door, officers mess to the left

 “Netherby” House, in Queens Road, Melbourne is one of the few remaining Victorian mansions that once lined that street. The building has a chequered history having been variously a private residence, a maternity hospital, ASIO headquarters and since the 1960s had been the home of the Australian Army’s Headquarters 3rd Training Group.  

When I was a young pay clerk (Army Reserve) at Headquarters 3rd Training Group in the early 1980s (don’t you love the uniform?) there were stories of boarded up cellars and secret rooms, reputedly a legacy of its use by ASIO (the Australian equivalent of the CIA).


Alison in her days as pay clerk at Netherby – HQ 3 Trg Gp – 1981

Even while I was working there, staff posted to Netherby during those years complained of cold rooms and unexplained trips on the smooth linoleum floor.  I was just one of a group of youngsters and while we may have wasted time looking for the boarded up cellar and wondered why there was a room  (used as the Officers Mess wine cellar), secured with a safe locking mechanism that any bank would have been proud of, we never saw or experienced anything vaguely paranormal. 

In the mid 1980s a couple of members of the regular army staff, attending a late dinner in another part of the city, returned to retrieve a car one of them had left parked at the back of the building. To their surprise the hallway light was on and as they neared the building they saw a figure sitting near the window in the orderly room. The man wore what looked like a red checked shirt. Concerned about the security, the staff members unlocked the front door and, entering the orderly room, saw the PABX light on the phone in glowing red, as if the Commander was on the phone – unlikely as it was 1.30 in the morning. Thinking it had been left off the hook in his office, they went upstairs and found the phone in place on the hook. Back in the orderly room they noted the light still glowed red so they went back upstairs and this time found the phone off the hook. They replaced it, switched off the lights, locked the door and fled!

I had left Netherby in 1982 to do officer training (that’s another whole story – no ghosts!). In the early 1990s I returned as a student on a promotion course.  It had not changed at all, still the same linoleum floors and cold, dusty offices I remembered.  The chief clerk at the time was a mild mannered regular army Sergeant who in the latter part of his posting was quite often the only person in the building for days on end.  This is his story.


Alison, seated front row middle, outside Netherby 1992

The sergeant lived quite a distance from Queens Road so he began the practice of sleeping overnight after the Wednesday night parade.  The first night he did this, he chose a small, quiet room at the rear of the building.  About 3.00 am he was woken with a start.  The room was icy cold, despite a heater that was still on.  Struggling to focus, he had the distinct impression of a figure at the foot of the bed staring down at him.  He leapt out of bed, switched on the light and with his heart in his mouth did a tour of the house.  The room and the building were deserted.  He never slept in that particular room again but chose instead another room affectionately called “Netherby Hilton Suite 69”.  

3 Training Group was in the throes of moving and this meant that during the day only one or two of the regular staff were present. One of the officers worked with him in the orderly room for company in the large empty building.  On one occasion the Major brought his dog to work.  The dog dozed contentedly in front of the heater.  Suddenly and without warning the dog leapt up, heckles raised and began barking and growling at one of the pillars which extended from the front verandah into the orderly room.  This continued for about 5 minutes before the dog returned to its slumbers in front of the heater.  Both men jokingly began referring to the third resident of Netherby as “Albert”.


The massive front door to Netherby

Once the Major moved to the new headquarters building,  the sergeant was on his own during the day for the next twelve months and perhaps thinking the sergeant was lonely and in need of company, “Albert” began his haunting in earnest.  One fine spring morning while working in the orderly room (which was adjacent to the front door), the front door suddenly opened and slammed shut.  Footsteps were heard stomping up the rear service staircase to the area which would have been the old servants quarters.  Upstairs doors could be heard slamming shut and the footsteps descended the stairs again.  The front door, which I recall as being a large, heavy door (see picture), opened and slammed shut again.

Frozen to his desk during this visitation and wondering if he was suffering from an over active imagination, the sergeant went to investigate.  Upstairs he found three office doors which had been left open were now closed.  The front door, which was kept locked to deter salesmen, was still firmly locked and could not be opened without turning the handle.

One Saturday evening after a mess dinner at “Grosvenor” (55 Queens Road- also haunted), the sergeant and his wife retired to Netherby to save the long drive home to Frankston.  Alone in the empty building, they made a cup of coffee and sat on the bottom step of the back staircase drinking their coffee and talking.  His wife removed her high heels and left them with the coffee cups on the staircase as they both retired to the “Netherby Hilton” for the night.

During the night they were awoken by the sound of a door slamming, but dismissing it as just the noise of an old house, they went back to sleep.  When they awoke the next morning, they found the high heeled shoes neatly placed at the foot of the wife’s bed and the dirty coffee cups back beside the urn in the Officers Mess.  

Shortly after this incident “Albert” began to show himself.  The sergeant described him as a grey shadow with a lot of detail.  He appeared to be Caucasian and although his facial features were not easily distinguishable, he was about 175 -180 cm tall and wore a long coat of the style of the 50s and 60s.  I recall the sergeant speculating that he may have been a Romanian “diplomat” who died while being “questioned” by ASIO.  “Albert” was also seen by the sergeant’s young son who was visiting during the holidays.  Both sightings were at the foot of the service staircase, over the sealed trap door that allegedly led to the cellars.

“Albert” was not without a sense of humour and would occasionally play tricks.  One Tuesday evening the sergeant and another army reserve member were moving a filing cabinet.  The sergeant recalls that the office they were moving it from was icy cold on this particular evening.  The two men picked the empty cabinet up and as they carried it towards the door, the other man stumbled and fell.  When he recovered himself, he grumbled that it had felt like someone had tripped him.  When the sergeant looked out into the corridor, he had a fleeting glimpse of “Albert”.

The telephone system in Netherby was a “PABX Commander” system.  At about 4.00 a.m one morning after a parade night, when the sergeant was quite alone in the building, the phone in his bedroom rang.  Blearily he picked it up.  The voice on the line was more of a grunt than anything else, so dismissing it as a crank call, he hung up.  As he closed his eyes, he realised that the call was an internal call made from another extension in the building.  He shot out of bed, turned on all the lights and did a thorough search of the building.  It was just as he had left it, locked up and secure and quite deserted.

Convinced by now that “Albert” had singled him out for special attention, the sergeant began to acknowledge his existence, greeting him cheerily in the morning and bidding him good night in the evening.  He even invited Albert to accompany him when he had to go out during the day, although whether he ever did is a question for speculation.  I rather like the idea of the spectral “Albert” occupying the passenger seat of an Army vehicle on little excursions.  

Once Albert’s existence had been acknowledged the sergeant found that the hauntings ceased and the building became noticeably warmer.  Not long afterwards, the last elements of 3 Training Group moved out.  Netherby was locked up and left empty for many years before being bought by the hotel next door.


Netherby today

Interestingly, the story of Albert reached the staff at the hotel and some years later, the sergeant and I were invited by the manager of the hotel to lunch and to view the restoration of the lovely old house. Albert, it seemed, had not taken kindly to the disturbance to his home. The builders complained about their tools being moved and unexplained cold spots in the house. One member of staff was on crutches having broken an ankle after being, in his words “tripped”. 

Many years have now passed but I still think of Albert when I pass by Netherby and wonder how he has taken to living in a hotel.

23545From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them. 

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people she cares about, she will need all her wits to restore its fortunes and fend off the ever-present threat of greedy neighbours.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the cause of the young King. Haunted by the demons of his past, Jonathan risks death at every turn and brings danger to those who love him. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her the hope for his future, and a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester, Jonathan must face his nemesis, and in turn, learn the secret that will change his life forever. But love is fragile in the face of history, and their lives are manipulated by events out of their control. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?


Hallowe’en Series: Cathleen Ross’s Special Permission

by Cathleen Ross

Once a year, I go on tour with the eminent historical writer Alison Weir. A few years ago we visited Twekesbury Abbey, where the guide for our party said he and his daughter often saw ghosts in the Abbey, notably one who occupied the pulpit preaching. 

Although Alison’s tours are fast paced, we are allowed free time to explore the Abbey. I’m psychic and although I normally keep my senses reigned in, I relax on vacation and decided to sit at the back of the Abbey and open my third eye.

It didn’t take long when I heard a spectral male voice say, “You do not have jurisdiction here.”

I couldn’t see who was speaking. Sometimes I get an image, sometimes not. I did however recognise the voice of authority. I humbly explained I was a visitor and could I see back into the past to what happened in the abbey after the Battle of Twekesbury  where many soldiers from the losing Lancastrian Army fled to take sanctuary.  

An image came to me where bodies were piled in the back of the Abbey and the floors were awash with blood, so much so that that it flowed like a small wave across the floor under my feet.

I thanked the ghostly custodian of the Abbey, closed down my third eye and decided to leave.

When I asked Alison about what I’d seen, she said the voice had been using Canon Law. I now know that means law as pertaining to the church. The ghostly custodian had allowed me permission to see into his realm.

So much violence had been done in the Abbey 4 May 1471, and it was clear to me that the ghosts still remain.


The world’s gone to hell, and her only chance of survival is the sexy, dominant soldier determined to keep her safe…

Doctor Ruth Parker has always taken care of herself, and that’s what she’s doing now, hiding out in her apartment and avoiding her neighbours: once privileged Mosman residents, now flesh-eating braindeads, thanks to the virus that’s turned her world—and everyone else’s—to hell.

Captain Jack Lang has always taken care of others, and with the newly secured Base he and his loyal commandos control the only safe place in the city. But the Base has needs that he can’t meet—doctors. And women. So when he discovers Ruth and her two friends in an unsafe apartment, he brings them back to Base where he knows he can keep them safe, and where he will do anything to make them stay.

Ruth is used to giving orders, not taking them, and the Captain’s methods for making sure she stays put don’t gel with her fierce independent streak. But the world has changed, and Jack will make Ruth understand that he is in charge and that her survival is more important than her control-freak tendencies—even if he has to chain her to the bed to do it.

Hallowe’en Series: Ghosts Among Us

This Hallowe’en, we asked our authors – have you ever had an encounter with ‘the other side’?  Their stories will thrill and chill you!

by Eva Scott

The Ghost of Eldritch Farm

Many summers ago I got a job renovating an Elizabethan era farmhouse in the Sussex countryside. The house had been added to over the centuries but the main part retained the distinctive uneven Tudor beams of its heritage. My job was to paint the small bedrooms on the upper floor and cut in the beams. While I painted shades of lilac and primrose on the walls I’d stop once in a while to take in the bucolic view out of the tiny window.

The fields were full of horses, which the farm specialized in breeding, and a vast quantity of rabbits. The eccentric brother and sister who owned the farm, Walter and Meredith, refused to allow the rabbits to be poisoned or shot so crossing the field to bring the horses in became a dangerous occupation in avoiding a broken ankle.

Being a working farm there were several dogs running around, the cutest being a Red Setter puppy. He’d visit me regularly tracking muddy paw prints up and down the stairs and leaving stray hair in the wet paint. Occasionally he’d go crazy, barking and leaping about. My family had bred setters, so being familiar with their temperament I put it down to the dog being basically bonkers.

One morning the puppy started barking and bounding about playing some imaginary game in the room where I worked. I turned around to shush him and there standing before me was a little girl of roughly ten years old. She regarded me solemnly, dressed in an old fashioned pleated smock, the kind you see in historic paintings of the English countryside. Surprise and confusion made me freeze for a heartbeat. There were no children on the farm so where had she come from? Then I yelled with realization, the hairs on the back of my neck literally standing on end, and she disappeared.

To say I was rattled was an understatement. The dog had clearly been playing with the little girl all along. I didn’t see her again and I would have doubted I’d seen her at all had Meredith not backed me up, having encountered her once in her own bedroom. She had tried to find out who the little girl might have been but the records for the house were patchy at best. Perhaps we had disturbed her with the renovations or maybe she just liked the company of the puppy. A great many other odd things happened on that farm but that, as they say, is another story….

29352Everyone deserves a second chance—and another dance.

Tamsin Cooper’s career as a Parisian showgirl is coming to an end. Nearly thirty, with no boyfriend and no prospects of a family of her own, she decides to take up her inheritance—her Uncle Ted’s cattle farm in Queensland.

Farm life seems to be suiting her until Tamsin discovers that Uncle Ted had a secret—and her sexy neighbour Angus Walker helped him keep it.

Faced with losing her farm and her heart, Tamsin returns to what she knows best, dancing, and starts teaching the residents of Elliott’s Crossing how to get in touch with their inner showgirl.

She may have the dance moves, but can she shimmy past a forty-year-old lie and a betrayal of lost love to find her place—and rediscover love—in this country town?

Tricks and Treats – Happy Hallowe’en from Escape!

No tricks from us today – just treats. We asked our authors which delicious indulgence best set-off their stories, and they came up with a feast fit for even the most dedicated sweet-tooth.


A huge box of chocolates done up with a glossy red satin bow – 1960’s style. Then you can sink into the world of 1961 Hindsight with authenticity. Extra points if you are wearing Maribou feather slippers.

A huge box of chocolates done up with a glossy red satin bow – 1960’s style. Then you can sink into the world of 1961 Hindsight with authenticity. Extra points if you are wearing Maribou feather slippers.

Chocolate popping candy because it's smooth and delicious like Ty the stripper's dance moves, with lots of sudden, sweet surprises throughout!

Chocolate popping candy because it’s smooth and delicious like Ty the stripper’s dance moves, with lots of sudden, sweet surprises throughout!

Delicious mouthfuls of mango and strawberry flavoured chews. Sweet and juicy as the kisses exchanged by Tiffany and Miles at the Kissing School.

Delicious mouthfuls of mango and strawberry flavoured chews. Sweet and juicy as the kisses exchanged by Tiffany and Miles at the Kissing School.

John Tilbrook thinks nothing says erotic like peanut butter smeared on Willa Heston.

John Tilbrook thinks nothing says erotic like peanut butter smeared on Willa Heston.

Base is all about keeping the Zombies out and enjoying the hot sexy commandos.

Base is all about keeping the Zombies out and enjoying the hot sexy commandos.

Although Lisbeth in A Scandalous Wager seems sour she is a real sweetie underneath.

Although Lisbeth in A Scandalous Wager seems sour she is a real sweetie underneath.

The heroine makes Candy Cane Vanilla Fudge. This would be great for Halloween too because you swirl food colouring which could look like blood.

The heroine makes Candy Cane Vanilla Fudge. This would be great for Halloween too because you swirl food colouring which could look like blood.

Unstitched would go best with Fantales because they appear one way on the outside, yet underneath something entirely different and unpredictable is going on.

Unstitched would go best with Fantales because they appear one way on the outside, yet underneath something entirely different and unpredictable is going on.

Dairy Milk Buttons would suit Jeffrey from Bound by Their Love, because like the chocolate Jeffrey is smooth and sweet.

Dairy Milk Buttons would suit Jeffrey from Bound by Their Love, because like the chocolate Jeffrey is smooth and sweet.

Werther's Original for the slow, warm melt, and they can be hard to crack if you bite too quickly. Classic Cate and Nick.

Werther’s Original for the slow, warm melt, and they can be hard to crack if you bite too quickly. Classic Cate and Nick.

Like Pop Rocks, Honour Bound is full of tiny explosions - and only some of those are emotional.

Like Pop Rocks, Honour Bound is full of tiny explosions – and only some of those are emotional.

Sugar coated almonds for No Place Like You. Must be heaps of these little bonbonnieres all over Mirabook once it's up and running as a wedding venue.

Sugar coated almonds for No Place Like You. Must be heaps of these little bonbonnieres all over Mirabook once it’s up and running as a wedding venue.

They're addicting. And HOT.

They’re addicting. And HOT.

Mike from Out of Time would be picnic bar. He looks a little rough, but still tempting, and when you get to know him there is a chewy caramel and nougat heart and he’s very sweet.

Mike from Out of Time would be picnic bar. He looks a little rough, but still tempting, and when you get to know him there is a chewy caramel and nougat heart and he’s very sweet.

Gemma from The House at the End of the Street would hand out the organic lollipops she sells in her toy shop. But Josh would insist she put them in black paper bags covered in skull and crossbones - and that might give her a clue as to where he’s been for the last ten years!

Gemma from The House at the End of the Street would hand out the organic lollipops she sells in her toy shop. But Josh would insist she put them in black paper bags covered in skull and crossbones – and that might give her a clue as to where he’s been for the last ten years!

Because it’s a bitter sweet story of consequences and redemption, that’s twisty and chewy, but not as black as it might seem.  Also good digestive properties.

Because it’s a bitter sweet story of consequences and redemption, that’s twisty and chewy, but not as black as it might seem. Also good digestive properties.

Hallowe’en Mini-Series: When I First Fell in Love with Vampires

by Daniel De Lorne

I can’t quite pinpoint when I first became aware of vampires. I’ve been plumbing the depths of my memory but there doesn’t seem to be a specific moment.

General ghosts and ghouls, a fascination with the supernatural and a love/fear relationship withhorror movies started early, encouraged by my older cousin.

Though, if I’m honest, I enjoyed Count Duckula more than Count Dracula.

Yet, there must have been some fascination with the blood-sucking fiends because I went trick-or-treating as a vampire on more than one occasion (at least once with my sister dressed as a butterfly).


But though I can’t remember the genesis of my preoccupation, I remember when my intrigue with Anne RIce’s particular brand of vampire began.

I was 17 and at Perth airport, waiting to board a plane to Italy. I was going on a school trip and I’d packed some books to read, however, I needed more.

That’s when I saw Anne Rice’s The Vampire Armand.

955395Now, Interview with the Vampire had been made into a movie years before but perhaps I was too young or too unobservant to notice it, so it wasn’t until The Vampire Armand hit the shelves in 1999 that I got my first taste of The Vampire Chronicles.

I bought the book, stuffed it into my luggage and set off for Italy.

The trip lasted a month, taking us all over the country, from Rome and Naples, to Florence and Perugia, then up to Milan and finally Venice. That’s when I sank my teeth into The Vampire Armand.

If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about the cherubic red-headed vampire Armand, created in the 16th century by the two-thousand-year-old vampire, Marius.

Enraptured by Armand’s beauty and piousness, he ‘adopts’ the boy and eventually, to ‘save’ his life, turns him into a vampire.

The cover had a lot to do with me picking up this book. It’s not sexually overt but the face on the cover has full, pouting lips, red, tendril hair…and a hummingbird.

It was 2000. I was confused, obviously.

But reading the book, I became enamoured with the richness of Anne Rice’s world-building. She is a master at research and it showed as she delved into Armand’s life in the Orthodox church, through to the Doge years of Venice and then all the way up to modern times.

Here were vampires that weren’t soulless blood suckers but were more human than monster.

Obviously being in Venice while reading the book helped cement the world for me but as soon as I returned to Australia, I devoured as many of Anne Rice’s books as I could, starting with Interview with the Vampire.


The next few years I eagerly awaited each new instalment, unable to slow down and read them leisurely but instead gorging on them as fast as possible.

It was a compulsion that took me well into university where I even wrote my Honours thesis on — you guessed it — Armand.

While I don’t profess to be anywhere near as good as Anne Rice, one of the greatest compliments I’ve received about my own books is that they remind readers of her style and the construction of her vampires.

I enjoy writing visually rich stories about soulful monsters of the night, who – in all honesty – you wouldn’t mind nibbling on your neck.

So while I don’t remember my early love of vampires, it’s of no real consequence. With age came a greater appreciation of what vampires could do and be and it’s served me well.

I hope that if you read my books, you’ll pick up on that – and maybe even join us on the dark side too.

Happy Halloween.

Daniel de Lorne writes dark tales of ruin, romance and redemption. He is the author of the gruesome gay romantic horror novels, Beckoning Blood and Burning Blood. When he’s not creating imaginary worlds and creatures, he and his husband explore as much of this world as they can. You can find out more about him at http://www.danieldelorne.com.

20835A gripping,  blood-drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies  — no matter how many times you kill it.

Thierry d’Arjou has but one escape from the daily misery of his work at a medieval abattoir — Etienne de Balthas. But keeping their love a secret triggers a bloody chain of events that condemns Thierry to a monstrous immortality. Thierry quickly learns that to survive his timeless exile, he must hide his sensitive heart from the man who both eases and ensures his loneliness…his twin brother.

Shaped by the fists of a brutal father, Olivier d’Arjou cares for only two things: his own pleasure and his twin. But their sadistic path through centuries is littered with old rivals and new foes, and Olivier must fight for what is rightfully his – Thierry, made immortal just for him.

Hallowe’en Mini-Series: When I Fell In Love With Angels (Fallen Ones)

By Rebekah Turner

Growing up in a religious environment gave me something of a thirst for writing stories with fallen angels, demons and everything in between. These are the kind of characters that populate my Chronicles of the Applecross books: creatures from other realms searching for redemption or peace. And along with reading Revelations more than a few times, movies also played quite a role in feeding my imagination. And behold! A list of my favourite fallen angel movies.

1. The Crow (1994)


The second movie I saw on the big screen was The Crow. Being a hormonal lunatic at the time, I was pretty hooked with the visual representation of an avenging angel, wreaking a terrible vengeance on his enemies. The role was played so beautifully by Brandon Lee, before he was tragically killed on set.

2. Constantine (2005)


Then there was Keanu Reeves in Constantine. While technically not a angel or devil, Constantine still owed his soul to the devil, so hey, why not raise a little hell? Not the best movie, but I’ll forgive Keanu plenty. CALL ME.
3. The Prophecy (1995)


This was another one of those movies that wasn’t very good, but caught my imagination. With Christopher Walken playing a very sinister angel in search of a soul to end the war in Heaven, it also starred Viggo Mortensen as the devil. The role was only small, but Viggo chomping on an angel heart was kind of hard to forget.

4. Dogma (1999)


Lastly, there is Dogma, starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as renegade angels trying to return to Heaven. I admit, I enjoyed reading the screenplay more than I did watching the rather pedestrian direction from Kevin Smith, but it was still a pretty cool movie. And Alanis Morissette playing God? I didn’t see that one coming.

Rebekah Turner wrote a very sexy fallen angel named Roman, and you want to meet himFor series purists – the trilogy is finished, so you can binge read to your heart’s content.

8211A fresh and exciting debut novel introducing the Chronicles from the Applecross.

Lora Blackgoat, smuggler and mercenary, has been lying low after a job gone bad made her a laughing stock in the industry. When a childhood friend turns to her for help, Lora leaps to restore her reputation and starts hunting a killer who is stalking the gas-lit streets.

She never expects that her path will lead her to the Order of Guides, a sadistic militant religious organisation – or to Roman, a deadly and dangerously attractive half-angel warrior who also hunts the killer.

When Lora discovers that the killer has broken fundamental laws of magic to enter the city, she also uncovers a conspiracy that leads back into her own dark past.

Hallowe’en Mini-Series: When I Fell in Love with Witches

By Dani Kristoff

The belief in the ‘other’ is as old as human kind. We have always pondered the boundaries of our existence and what lies beyond. We have craved magic and power over life and death. We see it in the story of Frankenstein’s monster, in the myth of vampires, in the lure of the werewolf and in the premise of shapeshifters and angels. It’s the excitement, the danger, the virility, the sexual promise and the ability to conquer and change our surroundings and in triumphing over death. And do it sexy and well. Man, I love paranormal romance (and urban fantasy!).

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With the genre brimming with the above, it’s not surprising then to me that I fell in love with witches and warlocks and the idea they live here among us, hidden and sheltered in anonymity. But what do witches do to blend in? Do they fall in love? Do they have trouble getting dates? Sometimes they do.

Grace Riordon appeared in Bespelled and she was such a strong subsidiary character that I had to write her love story. Writing Spiritbound and exploring Grace’s life was so much fun. Now I have a huge girl crush on her.fiona-goode-baddest-witch

Now Grace is no run of the mill witch. She’s a powerful necromancer and can reach to the other side to bring things back. The power quite expectedly scares the hell out of the Sydney coven. I imagine the coven would be on tenterhooks on Halloween with the undead being so close and Grace’s power being so strong.


I imagine on Halloween Grace would have to have a few glasses of red wine to chill out and would then need to threaten Declan with being replaced by Randy Roger if he didn’t keep her mind off the restless spirits that stalked the streets outside their house in Balmain. One wrong thought and she could bring back some unsuspecting soul of this night of power.

Dani Kristoff writes a home-grown witch series about the powerful Sydney Coven: their lives and loves. 

20207This isn’t your mum’s Bewitched…

Elena Denholm is a mild-mannered half witch. As a favour to her cousin, she agrees to meet with top Sydney lawyer, Jake Royston, to negotiate a property deal. Sparks fly immediately, but before they can even take a sip of wine, let alone explore where the sizzle might go, Jake is hit by a love spell and is helpless against his feelings for Elena.

Jake may be at her mercy, but Elena is keeping her hands off — exploiting humans is a no-no. But Jake’s good looks and powers of persuasion are breaking down her resolve, and Elena knows she must do something fast.

Desperate to set things right before her resolve crumbles, Elena begins a frantic search to find the witch or warlock who hexed Jake and return him to his right mind, even if it means breaking her own heart…

23727The Sydney coven is suffering from a man drought – some witches complain, and some witches just get creative.

Grace lives with her cousin Elena and her mother Elvira, and life is pretty damn fine, barring the warlock drought that has the coven’s younger witches a bit itchy. Grace isn’t worried – even if a suitable warlock were available, he wouldn’t be interested in Grace. Ever since she raised her dead cat as a child, Grace’s necromancy skills have put everyone around her on edge.

Then her childhood beau, Declan Mallory, returns from overseas. He’s a battlemage and hot property.  To Grace’s dismay, she is but one face among many as the coven witches pull out all the stops to attract the  tall, dark and handsome warlock’s attention. Fortunately their childhood friendship still holds some sway, and Grace and Declan soon find themselves reconnecting on all sorts of levels. But there are dark secrets in the coven, and Declan’s family is determined to shut their relationship down. But Grace has finally found her warlock, and she is not giving him up without a fight: not to the bitch-witches, not to his family, and certainly not to the past.