How I Spent May 2022


I should mention that, as I type this, I’ve just returned from the pub where I ordered a half-pint of cider. But the barmaid misheard me and gave me a full pint, so I’m now rather tipsier than I usually am in the afternoon, and probably not in the best position to write a blog post. So, to be brief, this month I finished off my Nosferatu’s Kindred series and carried on writing Hugo and Splatterpunk Award reviews — I hope to start publishing both next month. This week in particular is a lively one for me, with Survivors: Crusade out on Monday and my episode of Doctor Who: Redacted due to debut on Sunday. I’m very much looking forward to that…

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for June and beyond:


May 2022: A Month in Horror


Big-budget franchise horror was in full bloom this month, with the fourth season of Stranger Things making its debut while the Marvel Cinematic Universe took a turn for the macabre in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. At the same time, however, we also saw signs of the underdog biting back. Now that A.A. Milne’s Winne-the-Pooh stories are in the public domain, the bear of very little brain is available for use without permission from either Disney or the Milne estate — and filming has already wrapped on the inevitable horror reimagining, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.

May also saw the release of Men (to generally positive reviews) and Firestarter (to terrible reviews).

Finally, the latest batch of Bram Stoker Awards were handed out. Stephen Graham Jones won the main novel category for the second year in a row with My Heart is a Chainsaw; the other prose fiction winners were Hailey Piper’s Queen of Teeth, Erica Waters’ The River Has Teeth, Jeff Strand’s “Twentieth Anniversary Screening”, Lee Murray’s “Permanent Damage” Gemma Files’ collection In That Endlessness, Our End and the anthology When Things Go Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson, edited by Ellen Datlow. Alessandro Manzetti and Stefano Cardoseilli won the graphic novel award for The Inhabitant of the Lake; the sixth episode of Midnight Mass took the screenplay award; and Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken. by Christina Sng, Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn won the award for poetry collection. Finally, the non-fiction prizes went to Michael Knost’s Writers Workshop of Horror 2 (long-form) and Angela Yuriko Smith’s “Horror Writers: Architects of Hope” (short-form).

Survivors: Crusade OUT NOW!


Survivors: Crusade, my second full-length novel for Big Finish, is out now as an audiobook-only release read by Carolyn Seymour, who played Abby Grant in the original Survivors TV series. For a preview, you can listen to the latest edition of the Big Finish podcast, which also has a Survivors retrospective. Here’s the press release:

The Grange residents are grief-stricken after an out-of-control party lead to a wrongful execution. When strangers turn up to cause chaos, the community is tested to its limit.

Survivors originally aired between 1975 and 1977 — following a community of survivors in the midst of a global pandemic known as the Death. Now, in a five-hour tale, the grim aftermath of the TV episode, Law and Order, is explored.

Having played the legendary role of Abby Grant on TV and audio since 1975, Carolyn Seymour returns to read this epic audiobook.

Survivors: Crusade, written by Doris V Sutherland, is now available to own as a digital download for just £9.99, exclusively here.

The survivors are usually prepared to welcome strangers into their community. But when members of a dangerous sect turn up in a double-decker bus on a crusade, a tense power struggle with a cunning new opponent result in murder and betrayal.

Will Abby be forced to leave her friends and everything they have built in their community? Or can the residents of the Grange discover the importance of their own faith in each other?

NOTE: Survivors contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.

Carolyn Seymour, who’s narrating Survivors: Crusade said: “This script is very different. It brings up some interesting questions for everyone to think about around vital things such as mortality, faith, and what’s right and wrong.

“This required a lot of prep time which was great fun to do – I’ve loved it and have worked really hard on this. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

“This is a lovely follow-on from the audiobooks we’ve already done [in the Big Finish Survivors range] – we’ve done quite a few and they’re all interesting and fabulous. I hope you re-listen to them all and spend hours delving and submerging yourselves into the world of Survivors.”

Survivors: Crusade is now available to own as a digital download for just £9.99, exclusively from the Big Finish website.

A Long Year’s Dreaming: May Progress Report


Balancing work on my book A Long Year’s Dreaming: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in 2020 with this year’s batch of award reviews is still something of a tall order, but I’m still making progress. If I can squeeze out a few of the film reviews next month, I’ll have made real headway.

Continue readingA Long Year’s Dreaming: May Progress Report”

Werewolf Wednesday: O’Donnell’s Whimsical Werewolves (1912)

Elliott O’Donnell’s 1912 book on werewolves continues its European travelogue with its eleventh chapter, entitled “Werwolves in Austria-Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula”. O’Donnell begins by telling us that in the mountains of Austria-Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula are flowers which, according to local folklore,  have “the property of converting into werewolves whoever plucks and wears them”. O’Donnell neglects to identify the species, but relates a story that he purportedly heard the summer beforehand: “The Case of the Family of Kloska and the Lycanthropous Flower”.

This tale introduces Otto Kloska, a storekeeper in the Transylvanian village of Kerovitch, along with his wife Vera and children Ivan and Olga. While playing, little Olga stumbles across “a large, very vivid white flower, shaped something like a sunflower, but soft and pulpy, and full of a sweet nauseating odour” which she decides to pop in her buttonhole. Thus begins Olga’s lycanthropic transformation:

And Ivan was preparing to salute her in the proper military style, taught him by a great friend of his in the village, a soldier in the carabineers for whom he had an intense admiration, when his jaw suddenly fell and his eyes bulged.
“Whatever is the matter with you?” Olga asked.
“There’s nothing the matter with me,” Ivan cried, shrinking away from her; “but there is with you. Don’t! don’t make such faces—they frighten me,” and turning round, he ran to the place where he had made his descent and tried to climb up.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: O’Donnell’s Whimsical Werewolves (1912)”

Women Write About Comics at the Eisners Again


The finalists for this year’s Eisner Awards have been announced, and for the third year running, Women Write About Comics is a finalist in the Periodical/Journalism category. We won in both 2020 and 2021, although admittedly the former year comes with a caveat. Regardless of who wins in the category this year (and we have some worthy competitors: Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego, The Columbus Scribbler, Fanbase Press, The Comics Journal) I think I speak for everyone involved with the site when I say just how much this recognition means to us.

Every week we run the Previously on Comics column, where a revolving team of writers comment on the latest happenings. Then we have the regular Pubwatch features, taking close looks at individual publishers: our line-up is Masha Zhdanova on Viz, Kate Kosturski on Titan, Lisa Fernandes on Archie Comics, Cori McCreery on DC, Carrie McClain on Seven Seas and Wendy Browne on Vault. All this, plus the reviews and interviews you’d expect.

Speaking personally, I’ve been contributing to WWAC since 2015, and I’m amazed at some of the stuff they’ve let me write about. I recently celebrated the centenary of Nosferatu with a 22,000-word overview of German vampire literature. Other topics I’ve covered range from British feminist animation to 1970s Italian intersex monster porn. Throughout all of this, the WWAC editorial crew have been absolute joys to work with — I’ve been allowed to write about my interests, and while I’ve been given guidance, I’ve never felt pressure to water my articles down into clickbait.

Whoever wins the Eisner, long may WWAC continue!

Werewolf Wednesday: The Ballad of the Loup-Garou (c. 1501)

Back in 1824, William J. Thoms included a ballad touching upon lycanthropy in the French volume of his series Lays and Legends of Various Nations: Illustrative of their Traditionals, Popular Literature, Manners, Customs and Superstitions. The book includes both an English translation and the original French form of the ballad, the latter attributed to the sixteenth-century compendium Le Jardin de Plaisance et Fleur de Rhétorique. This volume had multiple editions since its initial publication in 1501, and I am not sure how many include the ballad in question; Thoms specifically credits “the edition without date”.

Both versions, along with Thoms’ brief commentary, are reproduced below. The ballad tells the humorous story of a man who dresses as a werewolf in a misguided attempt to court a lady.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: The Ballad of the Loup-Garou (c. 1501)”

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Well, I would’ve liked to have had something more substantial posted here today, but then I went and caught a cold. Rough throat, head heavy, craving for Lemsip — it’s all there. So, I’ll use this post to give you an idea of what to expect from my writing in the next few weeks…

Werewolf porn! Hugo reviews! Splatterpunk! Episode 8 of Doctor Who: Redacted! An all-new Survivors novel! Funnybook analysis! And more besides!

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to my Patreon, help my blogging, and get a portrait of yourself as a cryptid into the bargain.

The Eye of the World and Robert Jordan’s Demon-Haunted Motels

EyeoftheWorldJordanThe Eye of the World, the first novel in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, was published in 1990. By this point “fantasy literature” had, for much of the general public, come to mean series of doorstopper novels that owe their existence to The Lord of the Rings. The book does little to buck this conception.

We are taken to another little village, where young friends Rand, Mat and Perrin – heirs to Frodo, Sam and Pippin – are carried off on an adventure. Their party comes to include a vaguely Aragon-like warrior named Lan and a magician named Moiraine – although the latter character is a woman, which at least gives her a degree of sepearation from Gandalf. Together, the band foes up against the forces of a Sauron-esque Dark One, including Trollocs and Fades (clear counterparts to orcs and ringwraiths).

The novel also reflects the fact that, for some time, The Lord of the Rings had not been the only go-to inspiration for fantasy epics. The story kicks off with the heroes’ village being attacked by Trollocs, a scene that contrasts with Lord of the Rings (where the closest comparison, the Scouring of the Shire, occurs much later) but does recall Star Wars, plus various post-Star Wars epics like the first Conan film where the opening attack on the protagonist’s home is a reliable plot device. This convention likely entered the genre via the Western films that George Lucas watched in his youth; Tolkien’s closest comparable influence – the adventure stories of H. Rider Haggard – defined English hometowns as places destined to receive the wealth of foreign treasure, rather than places to be defended from Apaches, Sand People or Trollocs.

Continue readingThe Eye of the World and Robert Jordan’s Demon-Haunted Motels”

Werewolf Wednesday: Elliott O’Donnell’s Lycanthropous Brook (1912)

Having taken us to the Harz Mountains in chapter 9 of his book Werwolves, Elliott O’Donnell takes us on a return trip in the next chapter: “A Lycanthropous Brook in the Harz Mountains; or, The Case of the Countess Hilda Von Breber”.

The story takes place “somewhere about the beginning of the last century” and deals with Count Carl Von Breber (chief of the police of Magdeburg, apparently) and his wife Hilda spending the night in Grautz, a village at the centre of the Harz Mountains. While travelling, the two happen across a brook that their dogs refused to enter. A local innkeeper informs them that the brook is known as Wolf Hollow, and that according to legend, anyone who drinks from it shall befall a misfortune.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Elliott O’Donnell’s Lycanthropous Brook (1912)”