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Extract from ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ by David John Griffin

Following on from my interview with David John Griffin, I now have a short story for you from ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’.

 

Book Blurb

Dogs are reported for their constant barking …and so begins one of the strangest stories you will ever read. Audrey Ackerman, sent to visit the dogs at a 17th century coach house, is unsettled by paranormal sightings. Stella Bridgeport – manager at The Animal Welfare Union – communicates with Audrey via emails. And those Stella receives are as startling as they are incredible: descriptions of extraordinary events concerning a science fiction writer’s journal; giant swans; bizarre android receptionist; a ghost dog. Insanity or fantasy? Fact or fiction? The only given is, it all starts and ends with two dogs at The One Dog Inn…and other stories: 12 short stories with aspects of the macabre, the surreal or the strangeness of magical realism to entertain and delight you.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’

 

Interview with David John Griffin

I am pleased to welcome David John Griffin back to my blog.  His new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ was recently published.  I asked David some questions about it.

 

Your new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ sounds intriguing. Can you tell me a bit about it please?

It is an imaginative novella with a selection of twelve short stories. The novella is a heady mixture of magical realism, the paranormal and a dose of sci-fi too.

The novella is unusual in as much as it’s laid out as the emails between the two women, interspersed with a science fiction writer’s journal. The story is strange and becomes stranger by the page, keeping the reader “ head-scratching” right to the end. Though eventually all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together to present a satisfactory and surprising solution.

The short stories cover a variety of genres including science fiction, magical realism, even a ghost story! All the stories have a “twist in the tail” to surprise and entertain the reader.

 

Have you been writing short stories for long?

Not for as long as I would like: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 90’s. Up until then I concentrated on writing novels. Interesting to note that the novella Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn started life as a short story: I was aiming for 5 to 6000 words. But before I knew it, it had gained a life of its own and came out to over 31,000 words. All of my short stories have one thing in common in the main – they start life without a genre. It’s only after I’ve written a short story do I know what type of story it is.

 

Is the paranormal a subject you are interested in?

Not in an everyday sense and to be honest, I’m surprised how many of my stories have paranormal themes. It’s crept up on me (which is spooky in its own way!).

 

What would your reaction be if you met any of the characters from your books for real?

If it was a few from my first novel, The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb, I’d run a mile! Not quite but some of them are despicable, in particular Theodore Stubb. If I met Donald Clement from Infinite Rooms I’d want to help him. He’s such a fragile personality. I would enjoy meeting Audrey and Stella from Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn, I feel I would get on well with them. Even meeting Gideon Hadley, the science fiction writer from the novella, would be an interesting experience and as he’s a writer, I think we would have a lot to talk about.

It’s strange to think I’d ever meet any of my characters; it’s an interesting question! Which reminds me: The One Dog Inn – the 17th century former coach house – is described in detail in Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn which caused my wife Susan to express a desire to stay there if only it had been real!

 

Do you have a regular writing routine?

No, is the short answer. I have bouts of writing interspersed with months of no writing, which is when I try to catch up on my reading. I tend not to read much when I’m writing – I don’t want to be overtly influenced too much. When I am writing, even that will vary day by day although most of the writing will happen in the evenings. I have just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel which I managed to write in the space of three weeks. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written in my life…

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

I’ve written my third novel, a fantasy tale which is currently under consideration. It’s byline is “A fantastical journey of imagination”. Then there’s my science fiction novel mentioned previously which I have to finish. After that, I have plans for yet another novel, a magical realism “Tall” tale. Plenty of work ahead for me!

 

How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

After pursuing literary agents without success, I tried a few publishers, and got a few “near-hits” but always they pulled out at the last hurdle… then I discovered Urbane Publications via Twitter. So I sent both my first and second novels to Matthew – and the rest is history, as they say. I was drawn to Urbane as they offer a refreshing and innovative style of publishing, particularly when it comes to the closer collaboration between publisher and author. Which means in my case, amongst other things, that Matthew of Urbane allows me to use my own cover designs. (I’m a graphic designer by trade). I also like the fact that Urbane realises that some authors aren’t overnight successes and that it take time and patience to reach a wider platform.

 

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write a book?

Write! I mean to say, too much thinking about it can spoil the flow, I think, you have to start typing/writing and keep at it. You don’t have to write every day necessary but even with the odd half an hour here and there, the words soon start building up. I’d also say, don’t worry about the quality of the first draft, plough on till the end without going back to amend anything, including word corrections. That can all be done in the 2nd and subsequent drafts. Write that first draft as if no one else on the planet will ever see it (which is often the case anyway). Finally, make sure your plot is watertight – it helps to have someone else read your final draft before sending off to a literary agent or publisher. Their fresh eyes will spot such things, as well as spelling mistakes which you might have become “word-blind” to.

 

If you had the chance to live your life all over again do you think you would still write books?

Definitely: I love writing. It’s a craft that can never be fully learned, I believe. Each novel is as difficult as the last one, I’m finding, each with their own particular quandaries/problems which need to be solved. That is part of the fascination of writing for me. Having said that, there are certain aspects which are easier the more experienced you are, the more “writing miles” you have under your belt. Who was it said that writing is like exercising muscles – the more you write, the stronger you will get.

 

Notebooks or Computers?

I always carry a notebook with me so that if I’ve a line or an idea I can jot it down straight away before it’s forgotten. For actual writing, I by far prefer the computer. I’m not one for longhand when it comes to actual writing, although I know of other authors who swear by this approach before they get anywhere near a typewriter or computer. For interest, I wrote my first two novels on a good old-fashioned typewriter.

 

Links

‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/two-dogs-at-the-one-dog-inn/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Dogs-One-Dog-Inn/dp/1911331159

‘Infinite Rooms’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/infinite-rooms/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinite-Rooms-gripping-psychological-thriller/dp/1910692603/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1488574787&sr=1-1

‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-unusual-possession-of-alastair-stubb/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unusual-Possession-Alastair-Stubb/dp/1910692344/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5K0V3BDFE4JZEVPJ3NZD

Website – http://www.davidjohngriffin.com

Twitter – @MagicalRealized

 

Interview with David John Griffin

David John Griffin

David John Griffin recently submitted a short story for my Halloween event.  Since then his novel, ‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ has been published.  I asked David some questions.

 

I have really been enjoying ‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about your book please.

The first draft of The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb was written over 40 years ago when I was a student at Medway College of Art & Design (as it was called then). It took two years to write the first draft. As it was written on a mechanical typewriter, the second draft meant typing the whole lot out again! No computers, cut & paste, etc., in those days, of course. Over the years, it has undergone another 2 or 3 major revisions, and many minor ones. I’m not sure now where the ideas came from though I was highly influenced in style at the time by Mervyn Peake’s books The Gormenghast Trilogy. The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb has been described by one reviewer as “Dickens with a dose of the psychedelic”. It’s published by Urbane Publications, a dynamic and up-and-coming indie publishing house.

Here is a description:

The turn of the last century and Theodore Stubb’s manor house resides in the quirky village of Muchmarsh. A renowned entomologist, he is often within the attic adding another exotic specimen to his extensive collection of insects. But Theodore is also a master hypnotist, holding the household in thrall to his every whim. Theodore’s daughter-in-law Eleanor – returned from the sanatorium two months before – is a haunted figure, believing that her stillborn child Alastair lives and hides in the shadows. Then she falls pregnant again, but this time by the hypnotic coercion and wicked ravishment of Theodore. A dreadful act begets terrible secrets, and thirteen years later the boy Alastair Stubb begins to lose his identity – it is not long before mystery, intrigue and murder follow gleefully in his wake. The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb is a gothic terror of the highest order, delivering a dream-like and hallucinatory reading experience that promises to reveal secrets both disturbing and astonishing.

 

Is this a genre you are particularly interested in?

It’s strange that with The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb I had no thoughts of its genre while writing it. It was only ten years ago or less when a reader described it as gothic. I realized then, oh yes, so it is! Also the aspects of magical realism weren’t consciously added with any thought of “I’ll add magical realism” – I wrote it with the sheer love of creative writing. I’m not sure if I’d ever write another gothic novel. I’ve visited that genre and that’s satisfying enough, I think.

Though I’ve realised that magical realism is important to me and has found its way (and will) into future novels.

 

I see that you’ve also got a novella out which I’ll be reading soon.  Are you planning to write any more?

I enjoyed the novella form very much. The original idea for Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn was for a short story but once I started writing it, I realised it needed more pages than that. Although I learned a lot, in as much as pushing my imagination to the limit then pushing some more, I don’t think I’ll visit the novella form again – though we wait to see. I prefer the novel form (with all its complications and headaches) even over short stories.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m half way through the first draft of a fantasy novel. It’s turning out very strange indeed. Again I’m pushing my imagination – I only hope its not too strange even for my readers! The title of the novel is secret at the moment! I hope to have it finished, final draft, by mid-2016.

Here’s a work in progress description:

Stave Swirler is lost in a nightmarish dream. Or is he? His given mission is to save his Realm before it’s too late. A fantastical journey of strange discovery, in conflict with the malevolent agents of Tremelon Zandar. A surreal and imaginative tale of fantasy and love that will captivate you from beginning to end.

 

Do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

I write mainly in an upstairs bedroom which I call the studio. I used to compose electronic music and had my own recording studio in a spare room so any creative space now with a computer is called the studio.

I also have a writing desk in the corner of my garden shed where I write, during the summer months, on an iPad. If it gets dark, I light candles so it’s very atmospheric.

 

Did you always want to be a writer?

From the age of five! I remember way back then, in class at primary school, when the teacher gave us a piece of paper and a pencil each and asked us to write a short story. After I had filled the first page, I went up to the teacher and asked for another sheet of paper. She replied, in a delighted tone, “Another piece of paper?” I must have asked for at least another three sheets and the encouraging remark with a smile was always the same.

I knew I wanted to write. Though towards the end of this first story, my writing became half inch high letters – despite the thirst to write instilled in me then, I was too young to know what I wanted to write about.

At the age of fourteen, I wrote a 100 pages in longhand at my parents’ dinner table, an unusual science fiction story. Reading it recently, I was struck as to how surreal and naive it is! But that’s to be expected, I guess.

Which leads me up to the ‘70’s when I wrote Alastair Stubb at art college, the urge to write strong within me.

Despite that, my second novel wasn’t started until another ten years after, in the mid 80’s. (Called Infinite Rooms, due to be published May next year by Urbane Publications).

 

How has social media helped you?

Twitter has been the main help – I found my publisher via Twitter and many nice people, all to do with writing mainly. Goodreads and Facebook are fine too and have offered some good contacts and friendships as well.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

When writing a novel first draft, or even a short story first draft for that matter, keep going from beginning to end without looking back. Don’t read what you’ve typed, don’t correct or revise, just plough on to the end. Revision and correction happen in the 2nd and subsequent drafts.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Walk our two dogs, Bullseye and Jimbo, spending time with my wife Susan, occasionally the cinema or out for a meal. The usual really! I also create apps for the iPad as a hobby.

 

Who are your favourite authors?

I have many favourite authors, new and old, but I’ll only mention the ones who have had the greatest influence on me and who I have admired and tried to emulate in certain aspects of creative writing: Charles Dickens, Mervyn Peake, Leanora Carrington, Angel Carter, Jorge Louis Borges, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, John Wyndham. I could carry on, but leave it there!

 

 

Links

Website – http://davidjohngriffin.com

Amazon: Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/David-John-Griffin/e/B00NQ1GUPY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1449688005&sr=1-2-ent

Twitter – @MagicalRealized

 

A Ghost Story by David John Griffin

Scary Stories Banner

It’s time now for a short story.  Enjoy!

 

THE BENEFACTOR AND THE GHOST

By David John Griffin

Lightning appeared as jagged streaks above the charcoal sea. And a voice was heard inside of the Smugglers Arms, muffled and echoed as though spoken from a distance, ‘Do you believe in ghosts?’

Henry Sims was startled. It was difficult for him to locate the source of those words with their melancholic tone and strange reverberations. He looked about the small beamed room with its abundance of wooden panelling. First to the cast iron fireplace, then through the flickering flame of a candle on his barrel, to one of the room’s sides lined with chairs and more barrels. And when lightning lit the sash window panes once more, a grumbling of thunder came from across the bay and Henry said, ‘Who’s there? Show yourself at once.’

At the precise moment of his demand, he became fully aware of his surroundings as though he had awoken from a tiny place within the back of his skull.

A change in the ambience outside: a street lamp, casting puddles of light across the cobbled street, went out, and even distant hissing from the waves became silent. And there, in an unlit alcove of the snug, a distinct bluish glow could be seen.

Henry called out, ‘What the devil?’ as the glow pulsed, taking on a stronger outline, appearing to shift in an organic way like some phosphorescent sea creature. And when it formed into the distinct shape of a figure, a chill ran through him. Surely he was perceiving nothing less than a ghost in the snug of The Smugglers Arms.

To stand and run would seem an unmanly act but he was compelled to get away from that spectre. Yet it held some power over him, draining his strength and sapping any will to move.

By an unknown cue, he heard more echoed phrases spoken clearly and the ghostly apparition took on more substance. Distinct elements could be made out: features on the head, a shirt collar and jacket with sleeves, and hands even, those seeming to be resting on a luminous, open book.

Henry’s voice trembled as he asked, ‘What do you want of me?’

The words emanating from the ghost continued, now more insistent, ‘So you can hear? Can you hear me?’

‘I can hear you, yes. What have you done? I’m unable to move although I can think clearly but without memory. Are you a spectre sent to bring evil puzzles to warp my mind, to drive me insane? Already I feel…’

‘Unreal?’

‘Quite the opposite: too real. A waking dream of a high perception that I am certain is about to change into a terrible nightmare. I should flee from your alarming entity if only I could move but my limbs have turned to heavy metal.’

The spectre’s voice continued, tinged with excitement. ‘So you can see me as well?’ The glow gained strength, showing the ghostly form accentuated like a neon chalk painting.

With Henry’s brow creasing with perplexity, he asked, ‘I see your strange phantom presence more defined by the moment and wonder why you haunt this snug. Is this a personal visitation?’

The voice still echoed though now stronger and without sibilance or distortion. ‘You could say that.’

‘For what reason? I have done nothing wrong; never have I harmed a soul.’

‘This I know. In fact, the opposite would be true. Much right, helping many,’ the visitant replied. ‘What do you remember?’

‘I do believe I have been suffering from amnesia,’ Henry answered, his tone, previously edged with worry, suddenly transforming with elation. His mind was opening again like a blossoming flower, senses refreshing as though muffs to his ears were being taken away and blinkers lifting from his eyes. ‘Now recalling much – I’m here in the snug of The Smugglers Arms waiting for someone. Yes, I await … I will say no more.’

The spectre now stood in impressive detail as if a real person bathed in a full moon’s cold light. ‘But you must. For your own good. Although I know the identity of your visitor, as well as the reason for his visit. You have nothing to fear. I’m not here to judge, turn your mind or worry you. My mission is to help, nothing more. You are a respected benefactor to many; consider me your benefactor.’

The reaction to those words was swift and abrupt. While Henry nervously stroked his greying beard, he replied with annoyance, “Why do you call me a benefactor? I know of no such person.’

‘But you are known for your help with the poor houses as well as improving conditions in the mills and factories. Your reticence to take any praise is now well-known. Take that beard off.’

Henry’s cheeks reddened with anger. ‘It is one thing to be tormented by a ghost but another to be insulted. I have no shaving equipment and even if I had, why should I shave off my beard, for you or anyone else?’

‘You know as well as I do,’ the spectre continued, ‘Please, remove it, now. I wish to see your fine features.’

‘For what reason?’ said Henry but began to remove the false beard all the same. Once he had peeled the beard from his distinguished face, he laid it on the barrel next to his tankard of ale. ‘Are you satisfied? I have done as you asked. Now my request — it’s time for you to leave, to be swallowed back into the miasmic pit from whence you came. I have been haunted enough. Go back to the past and may you rest in peace rather than your insistent stubbornness to remain on this Earth.’ The volume of Henry’s words had risen to the height of a pulpit-like sermon and, as if his words had taken his strength, he leant forward with his head hanging low.

The blue-illuminated spectre’s reply was precise: ‘I will tell you this much. I’m not from the past, nor am I in your present. Listen and try to understand. I’m from a time ahead of you.’

Henry was unimpressed and merely snorted. ‘Just as I guessed, one of Dickens’ ghosts from a Christmas future. Then what are you called, if spirits can still have names.’

‘There’s no need for you to know. I visit here to tell you something of the utmost importance.’

‘How can I believe a word you say?’ Henry replied. ‘ This could be some demon trick. Already you are becoming bluer and light up even more strangely, there in the corner. Why should I trust you?’

’I know much about your situation. I repeat, I’m here to help. Let me start by asking about the money pouch that was hidden in a secret pocket of your waistcoat. It contained two hundred pounds and five guineas, am I correct?’

Henry stood, swaying, pushing back the captain’s chair so that it scraped across the floorboards, and he bellowed, ‘No thief will come near, no matter how ingenious their entrapments! I begin to understand; it’s becoming as clear as that lightning in the black sky: here we have a Pepper’s ghost trick albeit a sophisticated one. Come out of hiding, you smoke and mirror criminal!’ But clasping the place near his heart where the money pouch should have been, Henry’s previous confidence vanished. ‘You insult my intelligence by taunting, after you’ve stolen from me? What disgusting creature are you?’

The ghost spoke quickly: ‘I will endeavour further explanation to our unique situation. Please listen carefully. I am, to you, indeed an apparition – but from your future, 2025 to be precise. I’m able to communicate with the aid of highly sophisticated equipment. You have become temporarily aware again, finally broken from your repetitive behaviour over more than a century. Before our contact I learnt a lot about you, Henry Sims, respected politician and public speaker, who has a secret not many people are aware of; and those that do know, are sworn to secrecy. You are a benefactor of the highest generosity helping those less fortunate ones. You’re here in the snug bar of the Smugglers Arms tonight, having again rented the room from the landlord for your private use only, to pass on another magnanimous money gift to Sir Christopher Plumber. He was due to arrive in less than thirty minutes time.

‘The money meant for Sir Plumber, for the aid of orphans in London’s workhouses, was stolen by the landlord of The Smuggler’s Arms.’

Henry said, ‘You somehow take the money and then accuse the landlord of doing so? You stoop low, sir.’

‘Not so.’

‘This is preposterous,’ Henry continued, ‘He is in the saloon bar, serving customers. I am here talking to a villainous actor involved with an intricate ploy.’

‘Of course you wouldn’t believe me. You must prove it. Do you see anything in the room, other than myself, appearing to be supernatural or other-wordly?’

Henry glanced over to a rectangle of golden light seen to hover above the floorboards, to the left of the fireplace. ‘Now perhaps I do. Seemingly a magical door.’

The spectre spoke clearly and precisely: ‘Then you must walk through that door. Pass through to heaven, your paradise, to final rest and peace. But first, go to a window and look over your shoulder at the reflection. Then you will see the truth.

‘At nine thirty-five on a stormy September night in 1879, a man you trusted, and paid to rent a snug bar in this public house, walked in unexpectedly and after a particularly vicious act of violence, stole the money pouch from your person.’

Henry was inspecting his wavering reflection in the darkened panes of the bow window, seeing a large kitchen knife buried up to its hilt in his back. And as a blanket of confusion descended, he staggered towards the door of golden light while the shimmering ghost hunter spoke on: ‘The landlord killed you in a terrible act of cowardly, cold blood. You see, Henry Sims, I am not the ghost. You are.’

Copyright © David John Griffin, 2015

 

About David John Griffin

David John Griffin

David John Griffin is a writer, graphic designer and app designer, and lives in a small town by the Thames in Kent, UK with his wife Susan and two dogs called Bullseye and Jimbo. He is currently working on the first draft of a third novel as well as writing short stories for a novel-length collection.

His first novel – published by Urbane Publications in October 2015 – is called The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb. The second novel, due for publication by Urbane in spring 2016, is a literary/psychological novel, entitled Infinite Rooms. He has independently-published a magical realism/paranormal novella called Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn. One of his short stories was shortlisted for The HG Wells Short Story competition 2012 and published in an anthology.

 

 

Competition

David John Griffin - book cover

Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications is kindly giving away 5 copies of David John Griffin’s new book, ‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’, out next month.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you thought of David’s short story.

 

Terms and Conditions

​This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 14th November 2015

The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date. Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.

 

Good Luck! 🙂

 

‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ is available to pre-order on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unusual-Possession-Alastair-Stubb-Gothic/dp/1910692344/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446292693&sr=1-3&keywords=david+john+griffin

 

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