What inspired you to become an author?
I knew from the very first time I was asked to write a creative writing short story in my early teens. It took a while longer for the time to be right which, for me, happened to be in the shower.
Do you write in different genres?
I do, yes; though I don’t think about the whole ‘genre’ thing until after the story is written. I write the story I want to write—because it’s there, and needs to be written—then, out of necessity, I think about what genre it falls into (if any).
If yes which is your favorite genre to write?
Well, I’ve written three full novels, so far, one tie-in, and have three more novels on the way. Based on what I can see, I tend to lean more towards dark fantasy and paranormal mystery thrillers.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
It just made sense, in a way that it couldn’t have been called anything else.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
Neither. Often I have no idea what the title will be until I find myself half-way into the story and it more-or-less tells me what its called, if that makes any sense.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Things aren’t always what they seem so, no matter how bad or how hard things may seem, keep going and have faith in yourself.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz.
What books are in your to read pile?
Right now, as I look down at the stack, I see Dune by Frank Herbert, The Omen by David Seltzer, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, L’Avare by Moliére, The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, and the 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers. There are far more in the other room, though.
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
My current WIP is a dark fantasy called Sunlight Express, which is the story of a boy who wakes on the barren outskirts of a broken city where children from various periods in history are chased by strange, grotesque monsters.
The novel following that one will be A Rat in the Rookery, set in Victorian London, which may be uncomfortably horrible for some.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From Sunlight Express:
“Then, amidst the many creatures that ran rampant on the streets, each scurrying or flying in the direction of the scattering children, there emerged a great, hulking figure from the shadows. Its hairless, grey frame, reminiscent of a powerful ape, it stood five times as high as the largest of simians.
Its eyeless, distorted face turned left and right atop its thick neck, scanning its surroundings. When it spotted its quarry, the colossal creature bolted forward towards one of the children, the ground shaking under its massive weight. Running up behind her, it reached out its muscular arm and snatched a small girl with pig-tails by both her legs, bounded up the side of a building and leapt out of sight to the fading sounds of the screaming child.”
Who designed the cover of your latest book?
My covers are designed by the very talented Yosbe Design.
Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?
1. Erik Satie: Gnossienne No.1
2. Adrian Von Ziegler: Night Mist
3. BrunuhVille: The Eternal Forest
4. Alexey Voytenko: The Music of Erich Zann
5. Yann Tiersen: Comptine D’un Autre Éte – L’aprés-midi
The Skull Collector
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Booktrope/ Forsaken
Date of Publication: November 17th
Number of pages: 134
Word Count: 43029
Cover Artist: Yosbe Design
In a world in which children are exploited, monsters are saviors, and dark magic is constantly at play, a little girl will go to any lengths to be reunited with her lost ones.
After the disappearance of her parents, a heartbroken child is sold to the Doll-Maker who promises to revive them. In return, she is to travel from cemetery to cemetery, unearthing graves and collecting skulls.
While doing so, she must avoid the Violinist and his crows, who are determined to steal the skulls she has painstakingly gathered.
As she travels across the province, with her life in constant peril from vengeful policemen to furious villagers to strange creatures, the little girl must use her wits to succeed in her macabre mission.
Our story begins in the cradle of a little girl's anguish and despair, without which there would be no tale to recount.
On a dark, stormy night, like on many others, we find her wailing inconsolably under the warming caress of a street light by the side of a nameless, muddy road. She cries, for her parents mysteriously vanished not a week ago, leaving her utterly, miserably alone.
As was the way of things in the quiet province she inhabited, should one disappear without first declaring it to the town hall, by way of application, one's entire estate and contents would legally pass to the proper authorities. This instance being no different, the little girl's home had been seized immediately and locked three times by its new owners. Alone in the world, the little girl had looked to the police sergeant for help.
“What is it?” he had barked.
Fighting to hold back her tears, the little girl had mustered nothing more than, “...Please, sir,” as she’d clutched dearly to the only possession she had left: a stuffed bear once given to her by her mother on her birthday.
The police sergeant had watched her briefly then, with softening eyes and a wry smile peering through his bushy moustache, he’d said, “I have a girl about your age.”
He’d knelt down beside her and patted the damp hair on her shivering head a little too hard.
Times being harsh for most and kindness deemed an ugly myth, there was no room for noble gestures or acts of compassion. This instance being no different, the police sergeant had suddenly snatched the little girl's teddy bear from her freezing fingers.
“My daughter will love this, she will,” he’d said, as he stood and walked away from her to the police cart. “Let's go, boys!”
The sound of whipping cracked the air and the horses at once began to gallop, sending a thick spray of mud from the wheels flying all over the little girl.
As tears flowed down her muddy, sodden cheeks, two glowing eyes emerged from the dark stillness of the night. Unblinking, they watched her a while, hanging like tiny, yellow orbs.
A moment later, the eyes began to etch closer and closer, until the shadowy figure of a thin man was revealed. His shabby attire was matched by an old cloth cap he wore on his head, which shrouded all facial features except his somewhat bulbous nose.
“What 'ave we 'ere, then?” he enquired. “Why are you crying, lil' girl? Why all alone?” As he spoke, he seemed unaware that he was rubbing his hands together.
Her parents having taught her not to speak to strangers, the little girl felt hesitant about replying to him. As if reading her mind, the scrawny man said, “Oh, you can talk to me, lil' girl, I won't 'arm ya. I'm just a concerned ci'izen looking to 'elp ano'ver.”
Wanting to believe in the inherent good in people, the little girl replied, “My...My parents are gone, and I have nowhere to go, sir.” At her final word, the little girl burst into tears once again, as if her statement had somehow made events as cold and real as stone.
“Ooh, there, there,” said the man, drawing slowly closer to her. “Don't you worry your lil' 'ead.
Squidge is 'ere to 'elp. I just so 'appen to know someone who can 'elp ya, if you'll follow me.”
The little girl hesitantly considered his words and came to the conclusion she had no other choice but to follow him.
“That's my girl!” exclaimed the wiry man contently, as he offered her his hand to hold.
As much as the little girl wanted to trust the wiry man, she felt uncomfortable with the idea of holding his hand, especially as the last one she had held had belonged to her mother, and she wanted to keep it that way.
“Suit you'self, Love. Come this way,” he grinned.
He led her into the cold darkness of empty streets to the tenebrous hollow of Midnight Forest,
known throughout the province to contain terrible things beyond the mere imaginings of mortal beings. As such, a certain understanding was said to have been devised in times when magic and myths were created, that, should people refrain from crossing the boundary that led into the forest, no evil within would flow into the land of the living. That was what they believed and seemed to be content with.
“...Isn't this the forest we are not supposed to go into?” asked the little girl, tentatively. “Oh, this? Nah, they's just superstitions, they is. Load of cod’s wallop, if you ask me!”
The little girl walked as fast as she could to keep up with the man's long, bandy legs, each stride of which like four of her own.
“Come on! 'Is place isn't far—if you know where you're goin', that is. 'E doesn't like bein' disturbed, see?”
Endlessly into the forest they seemed to walk, as wooden pillars, like ever-reaching fingers, twisted in around them at every step and enormous toadstools shielded them from the moon's gaze. As the little girl struggled to keep up, she tried not to focus on the strange crunching and squelching sounds underfoot, as she sliced her way through a dense sea of lightly blue fog.
The further they walked, the denser the forest appeared to be. Just as the little girl felt as though she would collapse from exhaustion, the man she followed came to a stop and announced,
“'Ere we are!”
Nearly walking straight into the back of his stringy legs, she felt a combination of relief and anxiety at the sight of what stood before her. An old, ramshackle structure appeared to barely stand, as the trees and brush coiled and climbed and covered most of its rusted corrugated walls; its roof was utterly smothered by a blanket of dead and dying leaves. Though the structure appeared dilapidated, it’s windows were whole and clean, a detail the little girl found quite odd. Beyond the windows, a flickering light somewhere within made shadows dance upon the walls and ceiling inside.
The thin, shabby man suddenly turned with a wide grin and gleefully spoke. “This, lil' girl, is the Doll-Maker's workshop.”
About the Author:
Paris Singer was born in Brussels, Belgium. He has lived in the U.K. and in various places in Spain, where he currently resides. At university, he studied English law and Spanish law. He didn't like it. He then studied translation and didn't like it, either. Currently, he is an English teacher in the south of Spain. He has far too many interests, he's told, a few of which being sports, playing his old guitar, learning Japanese, painting, reading and cooking. Not a day goes by, however, where he doesn't write something, be it under a palm tree or on a bench at a bus stop somewhere.
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