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Posts Tagged ‘children’s horror’

JEKYLL’S MIRROR: Origins Part 1

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Hi all

JEKYLL’S MIRROR, my brand new cyber-age take on the legendary story THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE is officially published on 1st January (although you can get it early from Amazon by clicking here!)

I thought it might be interesting to write a series of short blogs about the origins and inspirations for the book. I often get asked ‘Where did you get your idea for your latest book?’, and the answer is almost always – lots of different places! It’s very unusual for an entire book to spring from just one source, and that is very much the case with Jekyll’s Mirror.

Over the course of a few blogs, I’ll be describing these different origins and influences, but let’s begin at the beginning: the first thrill of terror I felt at the idea of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Now, don’t click on the video below until I’ve explained what exactly this clip means to me…

Like most people, I suspect, I’d been vaguely aware of the idea of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous tale: a good doctor drinks a potion he’s concocted and transforms into the evil Mr Hyde. Of course, that’s a bit of a misunderstanding of the story. Dr Jekyll isn’t a saint and Mr Hyde has many more layers than those of a simple bogeyman. I discuss some of the false ideas about the story and what I consider to be its true meaning in Chapter 5 of Jekyll’s Mirror, and will probably write a blog about it, but let’s go back to my childhood and my first encounter with these characters…

Like Dracula and Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde has become part of cultural mythology and is deeply ingrained in our shared idea of ‘Story’ and the world around us. Newspaper headlines scream ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ when some foul but hitherto unsuspected murderer has been discovered; we use those richly suggestive names to describe people we know who have behaved out of character; in essence, we use and abuse the idea of the story while many of us probably haven’t read a single page of the original book.

scooby

Mr Hyde encounters those ‘pesky kids’

I’m not sure when I first encountered the good doctor. That introduction is lost in the mists of memory. It might well have been courtesy of that wonderfully batty Scooby Doo episode (I was a Mystery Inc nut when I was a kid), The Ghost of Mr Hyde, in which the great-grandson of the original Dr Jekyll uses his Mr Hyde alias to embark on a career as a jewel thief. Or the notion of the double-personality and the transformation might have come my way courtesy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s thinly-veiled comic book version, the Incredible Hulk, Dr Bruce Banner now using gamma rays rather than those infamous ‘powders’ to unleash his inner monster.

hulk

Stan Lee’s comic book take on the story

However that first meeting occurred, I remained conscious, fascinated (at terrified!) by the  idea of Jekyll & Hyde. A horror story in which the monster isn’t something ‘other’ – isn’t something ‘out there’ waiting to find you – but is hiding (hyding?) inside your very skin.

By the age of eleven I still hadn’t got round to reading the original book, but late one October evening in 1988 I begged my parents to let me stay up and watch a new TV movie starring Michael Caine. On the centenary of the most infamous murders in British history, ITV had produced JACK THE RIPPER, a thriller in which Caine played Inspector Frederick Abberline, one of the real-life policemen who had investigated the Whitechapel killings.

mansfield

Richard Mansfield, the first actor to portray Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The programme is a rather unconvincing account of the Ripper murders, using the silly idea of a royal connection to ‘Jack’, but it did feature a moment I found truly mesmerising. In 1888 the renowned American actor Richard Mansfield brought a stage version of Jekyll and Hyde to the West End. I’ll talk a little more about Mansfield and other actors who have tackled the role(s) of Jekyll & Hyde in another blog, but in the TV movie there is a moment where a modern-day actor Armand Assante recreates Mansfield’s transformation scene on stage. For the eleven-year-old me, the scene was absolutely terrifying –

The arrogant Dr Jekyll wishes to prove to his friends that his story is true: that he has shaken ‘the very fortress of identity’ and is able by his genius to transform his features. Assante channels Mansfield in a terrifying way, and it’s easy to imagine how, when the original play premiered in London in those hellish Ripper months of autumn 1888, people fainted in the theatre and the show was eventually banned. This short scene from the TV movie stayed in my mind: Jekyll’s hooting laughter, the bubbling skin, the pulsating face as the dark Mr Hyde begins to emerge.

assante

Armand Assante’s Dr Jekyll prepares to drink the potion…

This was my first proper introduction to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Afterwards, I rushed out, bought the book and, in horror, devoured it. Since then I’ve reread it perhaps fifty times and have even written a stage version of my own. I find the ideas behind it – the nature of who we are and the dangers of repressing parts of our personality – absolutely fascinating.

But I will never forget this moment from the TV movie – that eerie hooting laughter has found an echo in one of my main characters Doreen Lackland who, when she transforms into her very own ‘Hyde’ in JEKYLL’S MIRROR, recreates the laughter of Richard Mansfield…

TO SEE THE TRANSFORMATION GO TO THE 57th SECOND OF THE VIDEO. It’s creepy… you have been warned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

First JEKYLL’S MIRROR review is in!

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Hi all

Well, JEKYLL’S MIRROR, my new update on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic thriller of a man battling his inner demons, is out on 1st January!

Dr-Jekyll-y-Mr-Hyde

Not long to wait! This is always a slightly scary time for writers. You’ve worked for months, even years, on a book which you hope readers will enjoy. Many people have helped you along the way – in the case of Jekyll’s Mirror, my brilliant editors and a few experts in the field of cyber-bullying (which is the central theme of the book). But ultimately the book must be judged on its own merits.

Which means you, the writer, must be judged. Eep!

Thankfully, most of the reviews of my books have been very kind, and I’m hoping that other reviewers enjoy JEKYLL as much as the first reviewer has. Here then is an excerpt from that review, which appears on the brilliant Book Bag website. Check out the full review at the link here:

‘The horror side of the story is great – full of blood and guts and nasty villains with evil intentions. But the story also tackles some very kitchen sink themes – cyber-bullying and domestic abuse.
It’s not easy to marry these very different strands but Hussey manages it really well. You race through the story, thoroughly entertained by the schlocky narrative but underneath that, you’re always hoping that Sam will find a resolution for his “real world” problems.
We all have a dark side. And Jekyll’s Mirror shows us how pernicious it can be if we don’t acknowledge it…

Mirror Mirror…

Friday, October 31st, 2014

JM2

Something very dark has decided to make an early appearance this Halloween, bursting from the cold, dead earth of the local cemetery…

I’ll have to wait until midnight and try to rebury this gruesome treasure.

It isn’t due to be born until January 2015!

But you can preorder it by clicking this link

 

No Ghosts Need Apply

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

 

The latest Holmes & Watson

The latest Holmes & Watson

In honour of the return of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brilliant Sherlock, I’ll be reprinting a cheeky short story from my back catalogue, a pastiche called THE ADVENTURE OF THE EXSANGUINATED SLEUTH. The story will be posted Monday, but first a discussion of that most rational of detectives and his attitude to my favourite genre, the supernatural…

The question I always get asked at signings and school events: what did you read when you were a kid? I then bore the audience to death (sometimes literally) with a huge list of favourite books and stories. Always at the very core of that list is the ‘canon’ of 56 short stories and 4 novellas that make up the adventures of Mr Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes was my first real literary passion, and I use the word ‘passion’seriously. Whenever I sat down with one of those stories, I found my young heart racing as I followed the Great Detective and his faithful companion and chronicler, Dr John H Watson (formerly of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers) into the dingy alleys of Limehouse, over the hound-haunted moors of Devonshire and across the cantons of Switzerland, all the way to that fatal encounter at the Reichenbach Falls… (SPOILER ALERT)… and beyond!

From the age of 5 to 14, the cosy sitting room of 221b Baker Street was as familiar to me as my own bedroom. All I had to do was close my eyes to see Holmes’ Stradivarius violin propped up on his chair, his correspondence pinned to the mantelpiece with a jack knife, the tobacco-stuffed Persian slipper, that patriotic ‘VR’ done in bullet holes in the wall, Watson’s bull pup lounging on the hearthrug (probably poisoned by Holmes in one of his unethical experiments), a chalkboard covered in strange ‘dancing men’, and on the side table: a dark lantern, Watson’s service revolver and Holmes’ burglar kit all ready and waiting for the next thrilling adventure.

A lovely chill raced down my spine whenever those famous words – ‘The game’s afoot!’ – were uttered or when I read some wonderful line like: ‘Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound…’

Of course, in the end (SPOILER ALERT!) there was no demonic hound haunting the Baskerville clan, just a big dopey dog covered in luminous paint. You see, unlike his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes was an arch rationalist who did not believe in the supernatural.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes shrugs off the legend of the ghost dog as interesting only to ‘a collector of fairy tales’ while in The Sussex Vampire, another story that at the beginning seems to be dipping its toe into the world of mythical monsters, Holmes makes it clear that his work as a detective ‘must stand flat-footed upon the ground… No ghosts need apply’.

But despite Holmes’ scepticism, Watson’s accounts of their adventures together often contain a frisson of what might be called supernatural or uncanny terror, and despite this terror always being rationalised and made sense of at the end of the case, a hint of eerie impossibility seems to linger in the mind of the reader. Maybe this is because, very often, Holmes’ cases teeter on the edge of gothic literature, a sub-genre that was the first to treat the supernatural as a real threat and which did much to birth the detective story.

All of this, as I say, is by way of an introduction to my very short Sherlock Holmes story that will be appearing on the blog Monday. It’s a parody really, my way of poking a bit of fun at the Great Detective’s insistence that ‘no ghosts need apply’…

HAUNTED & WITCHFINDER: INCREDIBLE KINDLE DEALS!

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

So… There are Hussey Horror deals galore on Kindle!!!

You can get my new book HAUNTED and WITCHFINDER: DAWN OF THE DEMONTIDE for just 99p!

AND you can get my chilling short story, TURN HER FACE TO THE WALL, for absolutely NOTHING! Yup, completely FREE!

This Macabre Madness will have to end soon, so snap ’em up while you can. You might event choose to give these bargain horror books as gifts as part of Neil Gaiman’s brilliant All Hallows Read project!

Just click on the covers below and you’ll get around 150,000 words worth of terror for just 99! (OK, enough with the exclamation marks!!!)

Haunted-5 front only

Witchfinder_-_Dawn_of_the_Demontide[1]

turn

Tour Stuff #1: An Evening of Ghost Stories

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Hello All

Well, I’m back from the very exhausting but VERY rewarding Haunted tour! 1,600 miles, dozens of schools, and plenty of scares later, and part of me wishes I could do it all over again! I met so many great people on my trek around the UK – brilliant booksellers, terrific teachers, stupendous students, as well as that crazily creative crew at Seven Stories (see the post below).

I could write and write about my experiences, filling paragraph after paragraph with funny stories and intriguing anecdotes, but I’ve decided to rest my typing fingers (I really need to get back to writing books!) and select nugget-size chunks of cool stuff to share.

The first is this amazing poster and tickets from my ‘Evening of Ghost Stories’ event at Lostock Hall Academy! (Click images for larger views)

Lostock Hall

Lostocj Hall

(‘An Evening of Ghost Stories’ is my brand new after-schools event, designed, in part, to get parents more involved in school life. Details of this new event can be found at my School Visits page here.)

At the kind invitation of Head of English, Mrs Butterworth, I took this new event into the wonderful Lostock Hall Academy. The school hall had been suitably decorated with spider webs, tarantulas and bats (plastic, thankfully!), and all manner of creepy accessories. The evening kicked off with an introductory speech from Mrs Butterworth welcoming parents into the school and highlighting the different activities in which the children were engaged.

Then we were treated to some particularly spine-tingling readings from the school’s ‘Community Readers.’

I was waiting in the stage’s darkened wings (the lights had been turned low in the auditorium and the shadows had gathered), listening to these courageous young people reading extracts from their favourite scary stories. We had pieces from classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, as well as exciting contemporary extracts from Darren Shan and other fresh voices in horror. I must say, these pupils read their pieces beautifully – I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to perform to a packed hall when I was their age! We were then treated to a charming and suitably haunting song from a young lady who, I believe, really ought to try out for The X Factor!

Then it was my turn at the podium. Echoing a line from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, I suggested that we were no longer sitting in Lostock Hall’s auditorium but had been transported to a ‘home by horror haunted’ and that the audience ought to keep repeating to themselves: It’s only a story, only a story, only a story…

I performed a dramatic reading from MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, then two tales from my own pen. I’m happy to report the audience screeched and jumped out of their skins in all the right places! The atmosphere was just right, with pupils from throughout the school chaperoning their nervous parents into the hall and then laughing along with them as those spooked-out mums and dads leaped out of their seats during the scary bits!

After the readings the school had organised a charity raffle. I think the best part of the evening was the community atmosphere generated by the event. It was great to see parents, pupils and teachers all brought together for the evening in an environment where parents could learn more about the school and feel more included in their children’s education.

So a huge thank you to Mrs Butterworth and all the staff and pupils at Lostock Hall. I was very gratified to receive this message from Mrs Butterworth after the visit:

‘Just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic day and for your  breath-taking readings . Your impact on our pupils’ enthusiasm for reading was tangible.’ What greater compliment can a writer receive?

The Nightmare Eater Begins To Feed!

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

nightmare eaterThe Nightmare Eater is here! And his diabolical presence is all thanks to awesome editor Adrian Cole and the fright-fans at Franklin Watts.

Adrian contacted me last year requesting a truly terrifying tale. He wanted something fast-paced and super creepy, with a strong lead character and a memorable setting. Oh yeah, and he wanted it all wrapped up in a punchy 3,000 words!

Now, for a long time I’d wanted to write a story set against the fairground world in which I’d grown up. For the first few years of my life, candy floss stalls and hot dog joints, shrieking rides and screaming klaxons, hook-a-duck games (which my great-grandfather always claimed he had invented) and spinning gallopers (merry-go-rounds, as they’re known to non-travellers) made up my world.

The Park 1

You know, fairgrounds are places of fun and adventure, but even showmen admit that there has always been a dark side to these touring carnivals. Sometimes this is an in-your-face kind of creepiness – the ghost train, the horror house, even the freak shows of the Victorian circuits – but there’s also another sort of spookiness. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it. Perhaps it’s contained in that moment when you walk through the Hall of Mirrors and, from the corner of your eye, you see a sudden flash and have the sense that, for a split second, some unknown figure is standing right next to you. Or the uncanny feeling that, behind the fixed smiles of the horror house dummies, a real smile lurks, and it is not a friendly one…

In The Nightmare Eater we are presented with a fairground of thrills and spills. A dizzying wonderland which tempts a young boy to break a sacred promise.

Fairground people are, by necessity, nomadic. They travel from place to place, rarely laying down roots, and sometimes they are discriminated against because they don’t quite belong. Often in our society immigrants suffer the same prejudice. In this story the son of an immigrant family journeys into the dark heart of a fairground and discovers much about himself in the process. In ‘Grimaldi’s House of Horrors’, young Tomasz  Kaczmarek will face a creature beyond his imagining, and must summon the courage to face it down.

For if he fails this Eater of Bad Dreams will devour all in its path…

I had huge fun writing this story. Trying to capture the elusive carnival world of my youth was a real challenge and a perfect joy.

So ROLL UP, ROLL UP! One ticket left to Grimaldi’s House of Horrors! Enter if you Dare…

A Haunted Treat: a free Short Story with a Twist in the Tail!

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

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To celebrate the official publication of Haunted next week, Oxford University Press and I got together to plan a little extra treat for all you horror hounds out there. A completely FREE short story for you to download onto your Kindles! Just click this LINK and you can start reading straight away. Also included are the first few chapters from both Haunted AND Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide!

It’s a particularly creepy little number that I call ‘Turn Her Face to the Wall’. Last year, I was involved in a special Halloween event to help support my local library. The evening involved me performing dramatized readings from a few of my favourite creepy stories, including ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’ from the spooktacular (that’s a word, right?!) pen of Mr James and a story from ‘Nocturnes’, a terrifying collection from modern master of the macabre John Connolly. I decided to write my own story for the evening, and to set myself a challenge…

The story had to be chilling and mysterious throughout – a nagging sense that something isn’t quite right with the picture the reader is being presented with – and then there had to be a twist. Only the twist must explain the entire story. And, to make it doubly difficult, the twist must take place in the very last sentence! In fact, in the very final two words!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy! And keep an eye out for a little teaser that connects Turn Her Face to the Wall directly to Haunted, though you’ll have to read Haunted if you’re going to get the gag!

Haunted Quote 4

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

I hope you all enjoyed the first look at the HAUNTED cover last week, and that you all gorged yourselves on Easter eggs over the weekend! I’m on a diet at the moment, and so there was no chocolate for me. Now there’s a REAL horror story for you ; )

Anyway, it’s time again for another random/intriguing line or two from ‘Haunted’. This time there’s something a little meatier on offer – a taster of the infamous Phantasmagorium! This warehouse of horrors, this unimaginable trove of terrors, this store of supreme scariness will play an important role in the book. And so here’s a glimpse…

‘They hurried on past iron maidens with eyeholes full of blood; past the mummified heads of things half-human, half-animal; past a huge water tank in which the tentacles of some leviathan horror swooped and swirled. On, on. On down passages lined with…’

And we’ll leave it there!

Hurry back next week for more teasers!

The 12 Days of Witchfinder

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Ho-ho-ho, horror freaks!

A Very Witchfindery Christmas to all! In celebration of this time of festive cheer and goodwill to all men and monsters (‘Now you’re making me sick to my infernal stomach,’ the Demon Father complains), I’ve prepared a new take on a favourite carol, now featuring elements from all three Witchfinder books. Hope you enjoy, and best wishes to you and yours this Christmas!

THE TWELVE DAYS OF WITCHFINDER

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

A demon in an oak tree!

(then, in the usual way):

Twelve Scarabs Scratching

Eleven Crones-a-cursing

Ten Banshees bawling

Nine Zombies moaning

Eight Toads-a-tumbling

Seven Weres-a-wolfing

Six Ghosts-a-gliding

Five Demontides!

Four Raging Trolls,

Three Grim Grimoires,

Two Hellish Hounds

and a demon in an oak tree!

PS – check back here after the festive season and I’ll have a competition with a BIG PRIZE to banish those January blues!