An exciting guest post by one of the authors of Sussex Horrors short story collection, Mark Cassell, in which he talks about how Sussex Horrors came to life, and the inspiration behind it! As most stories are set in Hastings, which is well known in history for the Battle of Hastings that happened in 1066, Mark also gives a short account of some of the legends connected to the location and historical occurrences. Enjoy! 🙂
“The Sussex Horrors anthology perhaps began back in 2013 when I signed up for an online writing course tutored by Rayne Hall. Without realising at the time, Rayne and I were practically neighbours in the southeast of England. My writing career began when Rayne put me in contact with an editor friend, April Grey, who later published the short story I submitted for the course.
Our fellow Sussex Horrors writer, Jonathan Broughton, I met through Rayne when we shared drinks at her home in St Leonards. Incidentally, Rayne’s black cat, Sulu, is adorable. Many times we met up in Hastings to write together along the seafront or in coffee shops and tea rooms, to absorb the local atmosphere for inspiration.
In 2016, we discussed putting together a horror anthology, and in all honesty it was entirely my fault it took so long to come to fruition. I was awaiting the return for the rights on three stories, after seeing them share pages with several of my literary heroes. Unfortunately, by the time our anthology was published, both Rayne and Jonathan moved away to Bulgaria and Cambridge, respectively.
Hastings, where a few of the Sussex Horrors stories are set, is famous for its roots in history: notably the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Research into big cat sightings and witchcraft for my 2017 novella, Hell Cat of the Holt, led me to learn that in the 19th century, two mummified cats were discovered in the chimney stack of the Stag Inn while under restoration.
These cats were apparently the familiars of a local 17th century witch, Hannah Clarke, who was friendlier than most witches of that time and seen to help prevent the Spanish Armada in reaching Hastings. She often used her powers for the town’s protection, and although she moved on, for whatever reasons, her familiars remained. Indeed, those cats continued as Hastings residents … until the Great Plague hit.
Rather than the rat, it was the cat assumed to be the plague carrier, and this pair having been owned by a witch, were the first to succumb to accusations. Such was superstition back then, for fear of a bad omen to befall Hastings by actually killing the cats, it was decided they were to be walled in at the pub. This led to their mummification.
Although not all stories in our Sussex Horrors anthology are set in Hastings, between us, we have unearthed some haunting tales, some horrific, others creepy, and some that remind us of our mortality.”
Mark Cassell lives on the south coast of England with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. His jobs have included a baker, a laboratory technician, and a driving instructor, and 2018 sees him acting in the horror movie Monster directed by Matt Shaw.
As a familiar face on the UK convention scene, Mark sells his books as well as his photographic art, and doesn’t charge for selfies. The busy man that he is, he also hosts writing retreats for Writers’ HQ.
Primarily a horror author, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and sci-fi stories have featured in numerous reputable anthologies and zines. His best-selling debut novel The Shadow Fabric is closely followed by the popular short story collection Sinister Stitches and are both only &a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit. The novella Hell Cat of the Holt further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.
The dystopian cyberpunk collection Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers. He’s often alongside these guys at conventions all around the UK, and one of their shoots inspired the creation of his new Lovecraftian steampunk horror universe that begins with the novelette In the Company of False Gods available on Amazon.
Rayne Hall writes fantasy, horror and non-fiction, and is the author of over sixty books. Her horror stories are more atmospheric than violent, and more creepy than gory.
Born and raised in Germany, Rayne has lived in China, Mongolia, Nepal, Britain and Bulgaria. For many years, she resided in St Leonards on the coast of East Sussex where she penned many creepy stories, including the tales in this anthology.
Rayne has worked as an investigative journalist, development aid worker, museum guide, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, bellydancer, magazine editor, publishing manager and more, and now writes full time.
You’ll find free creepy horror stories on her website, and writing tips and photos of her cute book-reading black cat on Twitter.
Jonathan Broughton writes fantasy, horror, paranormal and urban stories. Any story in any genre in fact, depending on the idea or the plot that pops into his head.
For many years he lived in Hastings on the south coast of England and all of the stories in this anthology were written when he was by the sea.
As well as the short stories he has also written three novels. A thriller set in Victorian London at the outbreak of the Crimean War, a modern-day crime investigation that takes place in Hastings and a fantasy, also set in the East Sussex area, In the Grip of Old Winter.
In the fantasy, eleven-year-old Peter travels back in time to ten-sixty-six just after the Battle of Hastings. Intrigue and confusion blossom as the local population adjusts to life under the guidelines laid down by their newly victorious conquerors. And in the woods and the hidden places, old magic reawakens. It is hard for Peter to know who he can trust in this strange time and the decisions he has to make then impact on events in the past and in the present.
Many of Jonathan’s short stories have been published in Rayne Hall’s Ten Tales books and April Grey’s Hells… series.
He has worked as a Poll Clerk and a Presiding Officer for various local and general elections, an examinations invigilator and as a puppeteer in theatre, films and television. He now lives in the University City of Cambridge, UK.
Redski Redd an East Sussex based photographic artist specialising in beautiful, strange and spooky artwork.
Redski takes his inspiration from the charms that he finds online and in Hastings, Rye and Brighton antique and charity shops. In his photography studio, Redski turns everyday items, toys, and models, into stunning and unique photographic artwork.
He also creates original book cover artwork for horror novelist, Mark Cassell.
Thank you all for following this amazing publicity tour, organised by Confessions Publicity! You can find other works by these authors on their websites and social networks, get involved in book giveaways and promotion of their excellent work! Thank you to all the authors for giving me the opportunity to familiarise myself with their work, I enjoyed every second of it!
Enjoy the England winter, everything is covered in snow! Perfect time to cozy up under the blanket, in the company of your favorite book…Sussex Horrors perhaps? 😉