Hearts Asunder Sequel Available Again!

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Our second terrifying volume of Valentine’s Day horror stories has received a huge response from readers. Hearts Asunder Vol. 2 makes the eighth title from StarkLight Press to sell out from its online sources. To all our readers and fans, I say, Way to Break the Internet!

I am pleased to announce that this chilling collection of tales is now available again through the StarkLight Press Bookstore!

In addition to this title, look for our second volume of Shamrocks, Saints and Standing Stones, coming in early March from StarkLight Press.

 

Quality Time with L.E. Caine

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L.E. “Leanne” Caine is a recalcitrant author who has submitted some truly remarkable work to StarkLight Press. Her classic tale of a LoveBot who gets self-determined during Valentine’s Day is no exception.

Leanne Caine is from Kamloops, British Columbia. She has been a ghost writer for a number of years. Recently, she has started working under her own name and has published in various magazines as well as from Starklight Press. Her day job is in the world of customer service which is why she generally avoids all human contact when not at work. She has a young daughter who is the center of her world. Other than that she is a practicing pagan and eccentric witch. She practices herbology and has a garden that she has learned to use intensively to provide safe, healthy vegetables and herbs for her and her daughter.

You can read an excerpt of her story for Hearts Asunder here:

He put it on and I traced the profile of the woman on the cameo with my fingertips. I had glanced at her briefly but I pulled up the details in my inner screen and looked at the optic footage again. She was a lady, her head held high and her bearing one of dignity.

“Thank you, Del, it’s nearly perfect.” It was more somber than anything else I owned, my belongings were few and mostly designed for the bedroom. It was a grown up thing too. Oddly respectful of the man who had given me a ‘Mrs. Clause’ Corset and panty set with Santa hat for Christmas a few months before.

“Nearly?” He went and got another bottle of wine. He liked fine wine but always struggled with getting the cork out.

“Yes, I had imagined for a moment that it would be a ring,” I said.

He stopped his struggle to look at me, “You thought I was asking you to marry you?” He asked, his voice shocked.

“I didn’t really, because you only think of me of a thing, but I had hoped, just for a minute, that maybe you loved me.” I returned to my now cold lobster tail. It was nearly plucked clean now anyway but it was my new favorite food.

 

Leanne answered our interview questions below:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    So many. I’m a single mom and honestly so jaded by the dating scene, I hate it. I’m not saying that I will never have a meaningful relationship, but I am thinking it. Seriously, I’ve met so many nuts out there that after a point I have to wonder how anyone is ever compatible ever. I had one guy break into my house in some sort of ‘grand gesture’ and scare the hell out of daughter. Thank gods he was just a needy freak and not a knife wielding psycho, or lobster fork wielding psycho.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

    Because love sucks. It gets you all excited and if it fails it’s already that they’ve ripped your heart out and thrown it at feet. How to explain that to someone who has never experienced it?? You almost wish they’d kill you if you actually fall in love and then they leave you. Love is a horror story waiting to happen, writing one was more a matter of ‘which one’ than of finding inspiration for it.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

    Blind dates. Or just dates. I’ve been on so many and yes, I have had violent fantasies about doing horrible things to the person who just ate my evening. Fortunately I’ve written them down to avoid doing hard jail time (I’ve got a daughter to think about).

    If you’ve gone on a bad date you know how it is. You have the awkward. You have the weird. You have the sudden declarations of the bizarre, frightening or messed the hell up. I think that dating is traumatizing and to deal with it I’ve had to learn to disassociate. It’s not healthy.

    I’ve felt this way on dates, I’ve felt like a robot on dates, I’ve felt like a cake on a platter waiting to be gobbled up by the wolf across the table from me.

 

Will Norton: Roughneck, Writer, Historian

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William Norton grew up in Vancouver B.C. and has spent the past few years working in the oil industry north of Fort Saint John. He usually writes stories that are uniquely and specifically from his perspective, his characters often share his name. He writes when he has time but spends most of his time working and being filthy. His hobbies include sleeping when he’s not working. Based off the current trend. he suspects he will soon have more time for writing and social media than in the past- which would be great if he didn’t have truck payments.

 

In addition to writing, Will enjoys looking into the history behind our current holidays, customs and society. It was through his researches that he developed his story for Hearts Asunder, which is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the death of St. Valentine. Here’s an excerpt:

 

September had wandered into October by this time and Constantine treated Valentine as he would one of his own sons. He was impressed by the boy’s quick mind and envious of his charisma. Boniface had been charismatic as well and the boy orated and lectured in his father’s cadences. Valentine wasn’t the only one sending letters. Constantine had sent letters to Boniface, telling him of his sons poor situation and the fate that the one god had felt fit to thrust upon him. Boniface agreed to take him back as his heir if Constantine could get rid of the boy’s silly notions and get him agree to come home and to marry.

In a fit of genius Constantine negotiated with Boniface that Valentine would take his blind daughter has his bride if he succeeded in returning Boniface’s only son and heir to him. Constantine could see how badly Boniface missed his son when the man agreed to this term. If Constantine could only show Valentine the error of his ways, all would be well.

Lucy had noticed Julie’s prowess at finding her way around but even she underestimated how well Julie could find her way through her home when she chose.

It was late in October and her infatuation had increased. She had many conversations with Valentine and knew he was obsessed with the one god but she still wanted him for her own. Much of their conversations had been about the man on the cross. Valentine feeling that if he could convince the daughter he would have someone to help him convince Constantine to come around to the true faith.

The conversations bored her but his voice was what she listened to, not his words. Other times he would sit in the garden with her and they would talk about the flowers. He taught her to name them by touch, taking her small, childlike hands in his to guide her to their petals. He described their beauty and their colors, laughing at himself when he discovered how hard it was to explain these things to someone who had no sight.

He took to comparing them to textures. Pale blue was the cold water from the well and dark blue was the warm water of a bath. Red was the stones around the hearth. Brown was the feel of the bark of an olive tree.

Will also answered our interview questions:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    I’m not sure if you’d call it a horror story, more misplaced intentions and a lot of ‘can’t believe my good luck’ and then shit went down. I met this girl at a local bar, took her home with me and she stuck around. I was pretty excited when I found out that having girl in the house meant I got sex way more than without girl in house. Having made this realization I made to effort to make her leave and then left for the bush. This happened a few more times and then one time I came home and we had been together long enough to be considered common-law. I was only at home for three weeks of the six months but never mind that. Legally she could claim we were ‘married’. I came home out of the bush and found all my stuff on the front lawn and she called the cops on me when I tried to come in and find out what the hell was going on. That was the most expensive girl I ever met at a bar and I still have to pay her some of my pay check. Bitch. (I hope she reads this because I’m petty), is this a horror story? With the oil industry slow down it’s sure starting to be. I miss my house.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

Trust. Like I said up above. You trust someone, I don’t pretend that I loved her. She was a girl I met at the bar and she did things to my body that I liked. Stupid. That’s it, love makes us stupid and because we all forgive stupidity in the name of love we are more stupid than usual.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

I almost wrote a vicious story about my ‘ex’ but then this idea was suggested to me by Leanne Caine. The cover for the book was screaming out for someone to write this story and for some crazed reason she thought of me. This story was completely out of my comfort zone, usually I write up close first person and the lead character is always just me letting my imagination and fear get free reign for what could happen or might be. Leanne’s cute though so I said I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did it but I hope people are forgiving of my many historical inaccuracies and other mistakes. I took a lot of liberties with a legend that has almost no information about it. I don’t know much about 5th century Rome and did a lot of research that a half-assed historian could probably poke a lot of holes in.

Maybe one day I’ll work on a more accurate version but my goal with this was to breathe life into a story that is so dusty and uncertain that even the catholics gave up on it as an official part of their calendar. I hope people will enjoy it for the story’s sake because in the end that’s what I did. It’s not meant to be a history of the era, just a story and I hope people can enjoy it that way.

Virginia Carraway Stark Chats about Tentacles and Romance

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The illustrious Virginia Carraway Stark is a prolific and popular author with a plethora of short stories and novels to her name. She turns her attention- and her pen- to the idea of romantic getaways with a Lovecraftian twist in her short story for Hearts Asunder.

Here’s a disturbingly titillating excerpt from Willows’ Corner:

He was against one of the filter output jets and the water pushed against him in a pleasing way. Elphonse smiled again and put her arms around him and the her legs wrapped firmly around him. If it wasn’t for his shorts he would have been inside her. She kissed him, he returned her ardor. Damn, he was starting to think he wasn’t going to get laid at all this Valentine’s weekend, at least that part was turning around.

He tried to wriggle out of her intensely strong grip to undo the velcro fly of his swimshorts but she held him too tightly to move. He wanted her so badly but the layer of material between them was driving him nuts. He was so caught up in the problem of his swimshorts that he almost didn’t notice that there was a second pair of legs wrapped around him, or something that felt much like legs. He looked into the murk of the dimly lit water and saw the pink and purple tentacles that started at Elphonse’s waist and made up the lower half of her body. One small tentacle crawled up his swim trunks and he shuddered, he shuddered and pulled away but what the tentacle sought and found was hard and ready.

Solomon Burke continued his song and Elphonse started to sing to him as she toyed with him:
You see now what you’ve caused
And I know just what I lost
And I know what the price
I paid, I paid, I paid
For loving someone like you

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    Yes. Yes in so many ways. I’m prone to stalkers and some strange people have come after me. One of the creepiest ones that isn’t a whole long story all on its own was a guy who drew pictures of some demon he said was following him and made him do bad things sometimes. There were swords and apparently his dad and his friends dressed up in robes and did things sometimes. I made sure not to be alone with him much after that. I felt like I was one dimension away from things getting really nutso.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

    People who love you will do anything for you, I mean anything. People have a weird and twisted idea of both what the ‘anything’ might be and what love is. Love is intimately connected to the idea of possessing someone and having ownership of them. Love gives us all a sense of belonging and for people who things don’t go right for or for people who came with faulty wiring this can go from, ‘I love you, I brought you roses,’ to, ‘why are you trying to leave, I want to be inside your skin’.

    Love is the most powerful emotion we feel (I think) and it lives on a teeter-totter with hatred. If you try to jump off your end when someone has you on this teeter totter they hit the ground with a tooth jarring pound of hatred.

    It’s not just love that we’re talking about here either, it’s eroticism. Sex has always been associated with death. The idea of the orgasm being le petite mort. Like a sword he penetrates her and yet she does not die. The imagery of this is the basis for endless ‘secret’ brotherhoods and springs in the modern era from Crowley. The idea of penetration equaling death is an old one and it speaks powerfully to you no matter your gender. In my story it was the man who got penetrated, these things happen and for many it is understandably the greatest horror of all.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

    I didn’t really have an inspiration for mine except that I got it into my head that a couple should have a horrific experience at a bed and breakfast. Those places kind of creep my out, the idea of walking into a strangers home and having no clue what sort of experience you’re going to have is akin to picking up hitch hikers in my mind. In fact, it’s more frightening because it’s in their demense. Who knows what traps or horrors they could set up for you in there? Maybe it would just be bed bugs and an unhygienic kitchen, I think I’d rather stay in a hostel than go to a B and B. I’m a private person and wouldn’t want strangers in my house and then be made to make breakfast for them. It seems like the sort of person who would be into that would be likely to have an ulterior motive.

    BUT in all honesty I have heard nothing but good feedback about B and Bs. I have friends who use them and plan entire trips skipping from one to the next and say they have the loveliest time you could imagine. I think probably my brain did the writer thing where it threw the ‘what if’ into the mix and I’m thinking the worst of a group of people who are some of the most social, extroverted morning people on the planet.

    Perhaps there should be a name for a fear of Bed and Breakfasts… or maybe there already is one. I’ll get back to you on that, whatever it is, I think I have that phobia.

Mandi Millen on the Black Rose

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Words have always been AJ Millen’s friends. She started telling stories young, and she’s still at it. During the 1980s, she worked as a reporter in England, but in 1989, she left for a six-month semester in Greece. That was the plan, until a brown-eyed boy from Samos persuaded her to stay. Today, he’s her husband and father to their 19-year-old son.

Today, she lives in Athens and works in Corporate Communications. To date, AJ has participated in two collaborative novel writing projects and had stories published in three anthologies. Her work also featured in evenings of tales performed at independent theatres in Brighton, and she was a winner in the AuthorTrope “I Made The Darkness” writing contest.

Read more of her words at http://shemeanswellbut.blogspot.com

Here’s an excerpt from Mandi’s story, The Black Rose:

Susie didn’t say much at dinner. She didn’t need to. Will ordered for her, like he always did. She didn’t dare defy him by saying she didn’t fancy steak tonight.

She chewed diligently at the meat, trying to ignore the twinge of her bruised jaw, just as she had tried to avoid Will’s critical glare as she picked at the prawn cocktail starter he’d chosen for her. The lemon juice in the dressing had made her lip smart, and she really didn’t like prawns all that much. She looked up to see Will staring pointedly at her.

“Eat up, princess,” he said. “I’m spending good money on that sirloin. For you. You need the iron. Got to look after yourself, and my boy.”

“It might be a girl,” she murmured under her breath. She made sure it wasn’t loud enough to be heard above the tinkling piano in the corner of the candlelit restaurant packed with couples dressed up to the nines, desperate to convince themselves that they were all madly in love.

The thought flitted across her mind that Will’s treatment before they left the house probably did more harm to the child inside her than a slight iron deficiency that would be easily corrected with a prescription from the family doctor. She dismissed it before she acknowledged it, fearful that Will could read her conscious thoughts and take revenge for her imaginary betrayal. Again.

Her eyes strayed down to the single red rose laying on the linen tablecloth next to her dessert fork. It had come with a card, obviously dictated by Will to the florist, in a curling baroque script that bore no resemblance to his practical heavy hand:

Forever mine.

Will.

Susie shuddered inwardly as she read it again. No doubt, others would find it romantic in its simplicity. To her, it sounded like a life sentence.

Mandi also has some thoughts about love and horror:

1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

Doesn’t everyone? Perhaps not in the “Hammer Horror” sense, but I’ve had my share of romantic disasters: a boy threatening to kill himself if I didn’t come back to him (he didn’t); being stood up on my birthday; the fun and games of my marriage breaking down when I was just 22 (yes, I know. We married at 19, I thought I was mature. I wasn’t.)

I’m a little cynical about the whole ‘heart & flowers’ romantic package, though I do believe in love in all its forms. It just worries me that so many people seem to accept “love” at any cost, for fear of being alone. Sometimes, alone is what we need to be to figure out who we are and what we really want. In fact, my best ever Valentine’s Day was when I was single, and it involved jumping fully clothed into a pool…. but that’s another story.

I believe the best love is not about fireworks and passion, it’s mundane, everyday, in it for the long haul. If you can survive seeing each other at your worst and bickering over the practicalities of daily life, and still feel at home when you look across the table at ‘your person’, you know something is right. Fortunately, that is what I’ve had for the past 26 years.

2. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination?
I think it is the juxtaposition of our high expectations for the ideal romantic scenario, usually fed into a frenzy by the media and commercial interests, colliding head-on with reality in all its dirty, sordid, painful glory. And the lengths we will go to the name of love.


3. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentine’s Day horror story?
Again, we come back to why some people put up with the unacceptable in the name of love, and what it takes to break that habit. I was also inspired by a friend who spent some time in prison after attacking her then husband with a knife after years of systematic abuse, both physical and psychological. Strangely enough, her crime and her punishment were what finally freed her.

 

Thanks, Mandi!

Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.

 

Liz Butcher on Love and Obsession

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Our next author to share their thoughts on Love and Horror is Liz Butcher.

Ms. Butcher resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, daughter and two cats, Pandora and Zeus. While writing is her passion, her numerous interests include psychology, history, astronomy, the paranormal, mythology, reading, art and music, and help fuel her imagination. She also loves being out in nature, whether it be walking through the trees or relaxing at the beach. Liz has previously published ‘Wrath’ in the “Lurking In The Deep” and “Haunting Gemma” in the “Twisted Tales” anthologies and currently has a number of projects in the works.

Here’s an excerpt from her story,  See What I See:

 

Dahlia closed her eyes and forced herself to envision her fiancé in happier times, when he’d only had eyes for her. With renewed resilience, she got to work. Procuring the obscure ingredients took time and patience, yet she was satisfied by knowing she would soon have her love back. The spell stated intent was as essential as the ingredients themselves. Perfect timing would be useless without it. So she ensured she lived, breathed, and dreamed her intent, passing the time by following the doomed couple, watching them from safe distances, glaring through fences, and peering in windows. She took a perverted joy from knowing their happiness, and her sorrow, would be short-lived.

As the days passed, she progressed from mild to pounding headaches as her jaw fused into a permanent clench. Despite that, her focus and dedication to the task made her oblivious to the pain. Even the ache within her heart had dulled as she diligently worked on her potion. No longer aware of day or night, she could not afford for it to be less than perfect.

He must see what is in my heart. Share what is in my heart. Mine alone.

On the final day, Dahlia marvelled at her work, proud that she had mastered the forbidden potion on her first attempt at crafting. The only thing left to do was ensure the potion passed only the lips of her beloved, and she knew exactly how to do it.

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Here are Liz’s thoughts on our interview questions:

1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life? No – I have been very lucky – knock on wood!

2. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination? I think it’s a great combination because there is the potential for love to go horribly wrong, especially when the line becomes blurred between love and obsession. Love is a force that can’t be controlled, yet a whole lot of trouble can be unleashed when we try to.

3. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentine’s Day horror story? Perception. The one-sided view point of someone whose love has become an obsession, where they become deluded rather than face the love is unrequited.

Thank you, Liz!

Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.