When it comes to books and films, I avoid anything scary.
I ‘watched’ The Woman in Black with my eyes closed. I will never watch one of the greatest films ever made, The Exorcist (even writing the words gives me the heebie-jeebies). I won’t even venture into the horror section in a bookshop, lest I make eye contact with a scary front cover.
Sci-fi is more my wireless kettle of fish, so why did I choose to write horror? Create50 takes the credit. I began working on a piece for their Singularity50 project.
I was never one for a happy ending, I cried as a child when Jaws was killed, I was never on the side of the angels. Horror is all I ever wanted to write, but for years I felt I had to conform to what was getting published out there. Until the dark characters’ voices in my head simply needed an outlet.
I decided to give them free reign and one day I did a flash fiction one-day course at Brighton University, I thought with any chance I’ll find my horror voice…… That’s how ‘The Anniversary’ was born, initially as a 500 words flash fiction story, read to a silently stunned audience of peers, none of which wrote as dark as me. The tutor was encouraging but it didn’t matter, I had found my horror voice and it was never going to shut up again.
The announcement of the 50 stories to be included in Twisted 50 Volume 2 pleased at least fifty people, but probably disappointed (in one degree or another) considerably more.
That’s natural, no matter how pleased you might be for some or all of the writers to be included, but what now?
Well, whether it made the shortlist or not, you have a story on the C50 website. It’s been through various iterations following feedback (from the massively-helpful, to the less-helpful ‘I noticed a typo…’) and it is, presumably, a different story (a better story?) than when you posted the first draft.
I don’t do horror. Can’t say I’m big on short stories either. So, at first glance, the Twisted50 concept was not high on my to-do list. I let the deadline for the first volume sail merrily by. I
was delighted for writing friends who’d taken part, and were published, in this highly successful book. Yet when the call came for stories for a second volume, I didn’t pay much attention as I
still didn’t feel it was really my thing.
Now I love the overall Create50 concept, with its fabulous peer-review structure - and had written several scripts for the Impact50 film initiative, but I just didn’t think the horror genre was something I could contribute to.
We’ve come to a place in the arts, where the shock and horror genre has turned to grotesque themes and incredible special effects in an effort to create new entertainment.
True fright, I believe, surrounds us everywhere and everyday… it is all around us: the aberration in an otherwise normal encounter… the twist of a person’s psyche… the perfect person hiding a terrible flaw.
When Poe wrote his tales of horror, he wrote of the twisted mind in the person next door.
Twisted50 was my first foray into horror, yet “The Director’s Cut” remains one of my best work because it was so thoroughly edited before the first submission.
That’s the key to my writing process: editing. Without that, my story would be shit. Accepting this truth helps me move on from Rough Draft Paralysis, when you keep trying to perfect the first draft and never actually finish the story.
I accept that no matter how hard I try, the rough draft will be shit. I let it be shit. And I let the second draft be a (slightly less stinky version of) shit too. I have faith it will get better with each subsequent edit.
Twisted50 is all about the horror, so I suppose it’s fitting that the very idea of even submitting a story was scarier to me than all of the movies I’ve been watching this October.
The story I submitted to Twisted50 Vol. 2 is the first thing I’ve ever put out there for others to read, to judge, to leave feedback on. And I was a bit worried, I will admit.
So I did what writers before me have done and what writers of the future will do: I closed my eyes, cleared my mind, curled up in the fetal position and cried for an hour or two, took a deep breath, and got to work.
I guess that cooking and eating young children is not generally considered acceptable in a modern society. For law abiding, civil, tolerant and considerate people, such a practice should be abhorrent.
Yet with my Twisted50 brain algorithm running (does it ever stop?) such a prospect seemed ghoulishly pleasant and inviting; this led to my Twisted50 V2 story “The Monthly Meal” in which each month (now there’s a surprise!) a group of dedicated gastronomes meet up to prepare and savour the grisly main course.
Not to mention the dessert!
Twisted 50 has given many writers a lift to ‘published author’ status.
Being able to say that your story can be purchased on Amazon is a pretty proud boast for an amateur writer.
Of course, it’s often said that a professional writer is just an amateur that never gave up. Success in Volume 1 of Twisted 50, combined with the constant encouragement and motivation from Create50 founder Chris Jones, has driven many of us to pursue the buzz that comes from peer interaction in the writing process – and especially from the prospect of selection for the next volume!
Congratulations to the fifty writers and their stories to be included in Twisted50 volume 2.
Drum roll please…
They are, and in no particular order…
We have done a number of Twisted50 vol 2 concept book covers and we would like your opinion on which you like most. Take a look at the six here and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Remember we announce the Twisted50 vol2 final stories and authors on Monday at midday – there is still time to support the Thunderclap HERE too.
Leave your thoughts below...
My journey with Create50 began with the Impact film project, submitting several scripts over several months. “I’m a writer working hard to lift my words from page to screen” I said in my profile.
Cheesy but true. I was lucky enough for one of my scripts to make the final 50. As the bubbly and dust settled I was already missing the adrenaline rush of the Create50 emails…”you have a new comment on your screenplay”. My moods had become hooked on those emails. I’d been keeping half an eye on the Twisted shenanigans and reminded myself how keen I’d been on horror movies as a kid. I grew up with posters of Freddy Kruger over my head.
After lots of emails from people asking if we can announce the 50 selected writers and stories that will be published in Twisted50 vol 2, we have relented and we will be announcing them on November 20th (Monday) at midday UK time
To help promote this event, can you please support our Thunderclap? It takes only a few seconds and makes a HUGE difference. Support the Thunderclap
The announcement will be made on the Twisted50 blog here… https://www.twisted50.com/blog/
My name is Sarah Lloyd. I am a Mental Heatlh Nurse working with children and adolescents. I enjoy my work and I nursed in adult services for fifteen years before joining the adolescent team. I often meet interesting and creative people. My other interests are painting, reflexology, yoga, music, drama and of course - writing.
I write in a number of ways in different genres. I've had some poems published that were inspired by the arising questions and conclusions of my youth. Two of my songs have reached the finals in songwriting competitions over the years.
WARNING: The following contains information about scary stories. There may be spoilers, there may be disturbing uses of language that leads to sweating, a quickened heart-beat and in some cases the soiling of one’s lucky underwear. Not so lucky if you ask me.
If you experience any discomfort whilst reading this incredibly well written article, please refrain from contacting the writer as the fault lies squarely with those behind the planned publication of Twisted50: Vol 2/3, namely the Create50 team. I take no responsibility for the outcome of said piece. Oh, and I have added explanations of complex writer thingy bobs.
Good horror doesn’t just come from a creepy idea, it comes from an emotion: fear.
One of my greatest fears is that my degenerative disability will progress to the point where I’m no longer able to enjoy even the limited quality of life I have right now and I’ll be forced to stay in relatively the same place forever.
This is where the idea of Mr. Bentley came from, someone who lures people to his home with promises of fame and success and then inflicts this awful punishment on them for the sake of his art.
Ok, so I was a bit tipsy... and giddy with getting an unexpected, lovely and oh-so-heavy glass award (2nd Best Story)… and feeling really sociable, meeting face-to-face many friends I'd previously met only virtually in the Create 50 community… and I was so happy to be showing my husband and friends (also in attendance) the reality of how fabulous and special the whole Twisted 50 experience is… and very proud that readers had sought me out at the party to tell me how they'd enjoyed my story… and it was so nice to see old friends that I hadn't seen for years (Helen Lloyd and I used to work together; Ellie Torrez starred in a portmanteau collaborative feature film that I co-wrote and co-directed, and there were a few pals from the London Screenwriters Festival there too)… and I really don't get the chance to dress up posh very often… and it was close to the end of the evening so we were being ushered out...
‘It was… a little bit….dark and deathy for my tastes?’
These were the words that accompanied one of my first attempts at showing my short story writing to others when I was younger.
I had always had one of those sorts of imaginations; capable of extracting the very worst possible outcome from any given scenario. An absolute boon for a writer, slightly less so for the shy, awkward teenager, who found other people and new situations stressful at the best of times.
But, still something in me as a teenager was drawn towards both reading and writing horror stories. All through my youth, if a library book had a black cover with blood dripping off of it, or the merest hint of a vampire or fangs, I was there.
I had submitted two stories for Twisted last year and really enjoyed the process and getting my story right.
So this year my goal was to write 3 stories, with only a few days until the deadline I was working on a script and couldn’t concentrate properly and decided to break and go over some of the feedback on the horror stories – I wasn’t really wanting to write anything and then it happened…I wrote the first line and ended up with a one page story and I was quite impressed.
So I gave it a quick edit and posted it up. I was happy to have reached my goal that was triggered by some of the conversations with the other writers.
I made two submissions to TWISTED50 Vol 2.
The first was Zugzwang. Reviewers of the first draft found it a little confusing in parts, so I clarified a few points for the second draft, but had a feeling that the plot wasn’t really original enough to warrant publishing.
I’m glad I stuck with it because a 2nd draft reviewer mentioned the movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and that was the pivot on which I turned the plot around and got much more positive reviews for my 3rd draft.
The deadline for Twisted 50 Vol 2 arrived and I duly submitted my 3rd draft of Unforgettable feeling smug as hell. Job done. Or so I thought…
Then word came from Chris Jones that rewrites were welcome, if not downright mandatory. I sat down to re-read my story cockily expecting to add the odd flourish and tweak here and there.
After all, the feedback from my Twisted 50 peers had been overwhelmingly positive, and if it ain’t broke and all that.
Happy Ever After? What’s that all about, then? That, my friend, is Act 3 without the satisfying ending! We don’t do that here at Twisted 50, do we? No, we’re out to reimagine and reinvent the fairytale – warts and all. So, where does the prospective writer start when that blank page is staring them in the face, deliberately taunting them?
And how about that killer 2,000 words limit in which to write your masterpiece? That’s not an easy call, either. You’d better make sure those little suckers dance to your tune by run, skip and jumping off your page if you’re going to make your story to die for!
After being nagged, pestered and finally (the next bit may be an exaggeration) threatened by a friend, I checked out Create50 and the Twisted50 vol 2 competition.
What I saw was a breath of fresh air compared to both other writing competitions (you mean I get feedback and can re-write my submission?) and social media sites (no – or at least not predominantly – arguments and slagging people off as a past-time, social media’s great gift to society).
So you are working on a screenplay, a short story or a novel. Perhaps you’ve finished a draft, or a rewrite, you’ve gathered feedback, you feel it’s pretty much good to go. What else can you do?
Read it out loud.
Not only to yourself, but to others, or with others, or have it read by others. Yes, you’ll have to leave the absolute safety of your writing den (but anyway, you’re absolutely safe only when you’re dead). Yes, this is different from sending it out and getting a rejection letter; that is delayed response, easier to deal with. Sitting through a live reading can be quite unnerving, if not outright scary, but I urge you to do it.
Everyone has a novel in them, it's said. Well, thanks to Twisted50v2, I have become sure most of us harbour a potential short story.
When the invitation came to write mine, I thought "Can't do that, I'm a guy who presents other peoples' stuff" (I'm a voice actor) and then seconds later "hang on...the genre is horror, and I recall that emotion from my childhood".
So I had a starting point: the cold terror of a seven year old discovering something malevolent under the bed.
Congratulations to the writers of the 182 stories that have made the shortlist for Twisted50 volume 2 (and possibly Twisted50 volume 3) (and NOT in any order too!!!!)
If you are on this list, please do shout about it on Social Media too. And here is the new teaser trailer for the book too.
Can you join our Social Media Thunderclap to announce the Shortlist for Twisted50 volume 2? You can join it HERE and will take just 30 seconds.
The shortlist and link will go live at 11am in July 4th
Once announced we will be selecting the finalists and judging them for the Awards. Right now we are also working on the concept that we will bring Twisted50 volume three out of the shortlist.
This is a reflection of the excellent work submitted.
I am in my fifties but only started writing about four years ago.
A friend's daughter was twelve at the time and said that she had started writing her first book. It was something I had always wanted to do but somehow had never found the time.
I remember thinking if a twelve year old can do it, so can I. After two years of (mostly weekend) writing, I self-published my first novel, The Rage, in November 2015.
The first book was a steep learning curve. I naively thought it would fly off the shelves - of course this didn't happen. Sadly, books don't sell themselves.
By now I'm used to raising my kids, then dropping them off at the airport knowing that I will never see or hear from them again.
Well, that's what it feels like anyway. Every writer knows that we put a lot of ourselves into our work. We spend a great deal of time nurturing our stories, so when the time comes to submit them to a third party it fills us with anxiety and doubt. Did I do enough research? Does it say everything I wanted?
But with most writing competitions we'll never know - we rarely receive feedback.
The few that do provide feedback will only do so for a higher entry fee, and even then you only get comments from a single person.
So the reading and judging process is going well and I thought I would update everyone with a new timeline and process.
We are now going to announce a long list of stories – this will happen around the end of July and it will therefore release around half the stories from the process.
The remaining half will need contracts signing to continue in the process.
We are now also expecting to pull the book launch and awards for Twisted50 volume 2 forward to before Xmas. We, as much as you, want this to happen as soon as possible. This is not a promise but it’s looking ever more likely.
I first came across the concept of Create 50 when Chris launched the ’50 Kisses’ competition in 2012. I wrote a story for it and duly critiqued a minimum of 3 other stories. In reality I critiqued many more as once I started I really enjoyed the reading process. My short script ‘Love Across Time’ I think was long listed but was not chosen for the film.
However, I re-wrote it and entered it in to a script writing competition organised by Film Expo South which took place in February this year and I was one of 10 finalists. It goes to show, nothing is wasted.
Have you heard the one about the author who asked his agent to send a short story to the editor of a horror magazine? The one where the story sat in the slush pile with hundreds of other stories for nearly a month before the agent chased it up? Let’s imagine the editor was Richard Chizmar, the magazine was Cemetery Dance, and the author of the short story was some guy from Portland, Maine, called Stephen King …
Why submit stories to Twisted50? Is it really that big a deal? Sure there’s a chance you might be published, but then what? It never amounts to more than that, does it? The novelty fades pretty quickly, and life goes on.
Or might there be more to it than that?
Releasing your writing into the wild is scary. It’s your precious baby that you’ve nurtured and put your heart and soul into and now you fear it will be ripped to shreds. I was certainly worried about that when I decided to enter the Twisted 50 Vol. 2 short story competition. It had been a while since I’d written anything that I actually intended other people to read, and because of that I was anxious about the reviewing part of the competition. However, this turned out to be the best bit.
It is so useful to have a competition that enables the writer to improve both their story and their wider skills through the process. The community on the Create 50 site is friendly and supportive. All of the comments I received were either useful criticism given in a constructive and honest manner, or encouraging and inspiring comments. It was truly wonderful to engage with other people’s stories and have them engage with mine in return, and I know that their comments helped to make my story better.
It was a bitterly cold blustery night. She shuddered as she heard the wind howling. There was a full moon and that meant it was time for monsters.
BANG! She jumped. Just a door slamming shut. She rushed to look and cursed the old house for its drafty walls and creaking floorboards. Heavens! Look at that giant cobweb up there? And how come she'd never noticed that noose?
Running back to her study, she sensed the walls of the hall were getting closer together. Was that a hand sticking through?
We have TEN promotional packages of Twisted50 up for grabs in our May Madness promotion! CLICK HERE!
Amazon have been really promoting Twisted 50 on their site and narrowly missed getting into the top 1,000 books on Amazon, which is some amazing feat!
The May Madness bundles cost £25 (including UK delivery): In it you will get Twisted50 (first edition), Twisted’s Evil Little Sister (first edition) and the Twisted50 Audiobook on CD (with MP3 disk) and selected Evil Little Sister stories on CD. What a terrifying MONSTER package!
I was so thrilled to be part of Twisted 50 creative collaboration and the Audiobook that brought together 50 stories, 50 writers and 50 narrators ... and the launch event at the wonderful Cinema
Museum was unlike any other party I have ever been to!
It was great to put faces to all the names I have become so familiar with ... and to meet some of the 50 narrators who narrated the stories for the Audiobook. You may be surprised to know that though I know the work of all of the voices and have worked with all of the narrators involved in some capacity in the past, I haven't actually met many of them face to face.
For the month of May, Twisted50 will get heavily promoted on Amazon in the UK and Australia.
This is a HUGE deal for us as it means the internet giant is getting really behind us. This is how Amazon told us…
‘We are pleased to inform you that the following title was selected for the upcoming Seasonal Sale "May Madness" starting 01/05/2017: Twisted 50: 50 Contemporary Shockers from the most terrifying new writers of horror...’
You know what's really scary? Being taken by total surprise and interviewed on camera. Many will know I can warm to my subject (!) and waffle on, but I feel (hope) I did the Create50 and LSF justice on this occasion.
Fortunately the interviewer, the lovely Ellie Torrez, was superb at putting me/us at ease and asked intelligent, thoughtful questions that were easy to answer and I was already on a high (as you might be able to tell) having spent the evening surrounded by some of my 'tribe' of fellow creatives, all hugely talented and supportive people.
I have been known to look under the bed before turning the light out.
I have been known to check the whole flat, room by room, every nook and cranny, before going to sleep.
Usually it’s because I’ve been watching some drama on TV that has spooked me.
But sometimes it’s because I’ve been reading something deeply disturbing, and the only way I’m going to have peace of mind is by performing this paranoid ritual.
My story is about a bridge. I love bridges, always been fascinated by them, so when Twisted 2 threw out the call for stories I knew mine had to feature a bridge. It also features a brave
protagonist venturing out alone onto said bridge, and a nasty creature waiting to pounce… and if any of this sounds familiar that’s because there is more than a corpse buried in the foundations
of my architectural marvel – there’s one of the world’s most beloved fairy tales in there too.
I’ll come back to that in a mo.
Author John Ashbrook was the only author in Twisted50 volume one who chose to narrate their own story – and what a great job he did too with ‘The Spider Taketh Hold’.
He recently did a radio interview for BBC Radio Humberside and you can listen to it here… We hope you enjoy!
Hi! My name’s Maryna. I’m from Ukraine. Don’t know exactly why, but that’s the way I always introduce myself as if explaining my flawed English or trying to emphasize how damn hard it is to be in film-making or at least to desire it if you’re from Ukraine.
The thing is, in Ukraine there’s nothing like cinematographer. It’s not good or bad, it simply doesn’t exist. And people don’t care too much because they can always watch something made in other countries. Why not? And I more than adore foreign films but for me, it means the only way to accomplish something in film-making is to go abroad.
I came late to Create 50, in December 2016, so I missed the first projects. However, I immediately recognized what a wonderful opportunity this is and decided to go for Twisted 50 vol 2.
The value of the process lies not only in the potential reward at the end but in allowing writers to road test their material – like standup comedians on tour, only without the heckling.
In my experience, critiques have always been honest and thorough, with everybody working hard to be as helpful as possible. Before writing this article, I blitzed on reading the responses to other people’s work and I found them refreshingly well judged – gentle advice for those who need it and harsher criticism for those of us who should know better. Perfect.
Today I am talking to Mark Walker, writer about his experiences with Twisted 50.
Thank you for talking to me today, so, just to start off, what exactly is Twisted 50?
It is, essentially, a competition for authors writing short stories with, wait for it... a ‘twist’ in the tail. Horror seems to be the flavour of the month. So anyone with a creative flair for the dark and mysterious would fit right in. It’s part of the CREATE 50 Initiative and the idea is to end up with 50 great stories to include in a published volume of short stories.
If you have an audible account you can now download and listen to the Twisted50 Audiobook. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up for the free account (30 days) and download it now.
Twisted50 is the first book to come out of the Create50 process, with 50 authors writing 50 horror stories read by 50 narrators. It’s truly exceptional.
Sign up HERE and get the Twisted50 Audiobook free…
And if you do sign up and listen to it, please do leave a review to help bolster ratings, it’s VERY important to our continued success.
UPDATE: Twisted50 is now on iTunes also. get it HERE.
Psst! …You! Yes, you.
It’s me, the small, vaguely fluffy one, dying of embarrassment in the corner.
Anyway, come here, they’re busy and I’ll tell you why ‘Create 50’ is like a good friend.
If you are shy, like me, you can send a story to cyberspace and no one says; ‘Rejection’, ‘Not in our remit’, or ‘Sheep’s away’ i.e. ‘Flock off’, or such like.
Just over a week ago we held the Twisted50 vol 1 Awards.
The whole thing was so exciting and overwhelming, I plain forgot to post the winners on the site here.
So congratulations to the award winners who are…
The official photos from the Twisted50 book launch and awards have landed and they are awesome! Taken by the talented Rob Youngson, they capture the fun and games of the night.
Feel free to download and use on social media to helps spread the word about Twisted50 and Evil Little Sister.
On Friday night we hosted the Twisted50, Evil Little Sister Awards and Audiobook launch in London. More details and accounts of the evening will follow soon, but it’s certain we pulled off an unforgettable night.
We just got the first batch of photos from our ace photographer Craig Connelly from the red carpet and doesn’t everyone look fabulous! Feel free to download and use these pictures on your sites, blog and social media.
Tomorrow night at the Cinema Museum in London, we will be hosting the climactic event for Twisted50 volume one – the awards and the audiobook launch. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the slightly spooky celebrations! You can get tickets below.
Tickets: £15 plus booking fee
Dress code: Fabulous and / or gothic
Expectations: Set to high!
Venue: The Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way, Kennington, SE11
(Nearest tube/train stations: Kennington (Northern Line) and Elephant and Castle (Northern and Bakerloo lines, and BR) are both within easy walking distance).
Not all of my friends are readers. I mean; they can read but they don’t read, at least not beyond a little social media or football reports in The Metro.
And that is no judgment, a number of them are among the most intelligent people I know, they just don’t do books. Whether it’s due to time, inclination, or some other reason, they don’t really know the feeling of immersion that great stories create in their readers.
They’ve never experienced that urgent need to read on and find out what happens next.
The Twisted50 Audiobook (along with selected stories from Evil Little Sister) is now on Audible. This means you can buy it or get it as part of your Audibile subscription online. How cool is that?
Other Audiobook platforms will follow soon. And of course you can still get physical CD copies from us HERE and will send them out after the weekend when they are signed by the Audio narrators.
I suffered from insomnia as a child. I still do. When I was little, I had a huge selection of audiobooks. At bedtime, my mother would pick one, click it in the tape deck and flick the light out.
I would cocoon myself in the blanket against the malevolent night, reach a careful finger out into the black and press play. Lying there, I'd listen to the dead space of the tape as it turned
around, its circular ticks tocking through time, my ears full with the audible fuzz of recorded silence. And then a voice.
I listened to the usual things: Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, Alan Garner. I am still able to repeat sections of these, learned via repetition each night. Those types of strange stories were the perfect bridge to traverse that foggy, unmapped landscape at the edge of dreams.
Marvel if you will, at the trailer for the Twisted50 Audiobook, produced by the fabulous Helen Lloyd. 50 Writers, 50 Stories… 50 Narrators…
Enjoy it and please share with your communities.
If you want to get the audiobook, the digital version is now shipping and CD version shipping after the launch party (as we will get disks signed by authors and narrators).
Our very own one woman marketing machine Steph Wessell has been spreading the good news about Twisted50 again by getting herself on the radio and slaying it like a pro.
It’s a terrific interview, and listen to how it sounds when the host refers to knocking Stephen King off the top spot.
Twisted50 writers… That’s YOUR book they are talking about. Get sharing and promoting now ahead of the party… Listen below…
What I’ve noticed about listening to these excellent stories is how much I’ve invested in them, It was my privilege to help edit about half of them and that was a learning curve in itself, so when I listened to those particular stories I found myself remembering so much of them and also crucially noticing new elements that hadn’t struck me before.
Even though I was less familiar with the stories that Cristina edited, I was still rooting for them, having read many earlier drafts of the finalists. And what a difference the music makes! The actors brought the stories gruesomely alive in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
The Twisted50 Audiobook has been ‘beta’ listened to by five people. During this process the feedback surprised even us. It seems that Twisted50 narrated is EVEN better than the written
word. Here is feedback from three of the listeners…
‘The Twisted50 audiobook is a compelling, unhurried, lingering, luxurious, silk-lined, creamy-dark, downy flick-knife musk-rose experience. So treat yourself!’
‘The acoustic, the sense of 'being there' with a stranger whispering your deepest fears right into your ears, and a freak-out playlist of fantastic musical intros is nerve jangling…’
I created the main character in ‘She Will Never Die’ from personal experience and a fear of drowning (yes, my joining the Navy was perhaps an odd choice in view of that!). I mixed that with
putting myself ‘in her shoes’, as she faces up to her horrific, inescapable situation and the end of her life. I imagined what it would feel like to her; emotions such as fear, anger,
guilt, sadness and pain.
I had a lump in my throat on hearing my story, read aloud by highly talented voice artist, Helen Lloyd. Listening to my writer’s ‘voice’, being voiced in the real world and having my character brought alive to me even more than she’d already been in my head, was a revelation and a sublime, experience. It’s the icing on the cake of an amazing writing and filmmaking collaboration initiative, one that remains open to all.
A hesitant writer recently asked about writing.
“I want to write a book. Where do you find the time? Where do you get the ideas? You must have a good imagination.”
I said something along the lines of - “You just have to start writing.”
Of course, this is true (and obvious) but if I’d had a little more time, I might have said –
Dear hesitant writer...
When I was coming through arrivals at Heathrow Airport one day, I was struck by the sea of signs bearing names. I wondered – how do the people holding these signs know for sure that the person approaching them really is Michael Smith or Sophie Brown? What if that person was just pretending to be Michael or Sophie? How long would they be able to keep up the pretence? Where could it lead? That’s where my idea for ‘Trying On Tobias’ came from.
I have to admit, I didn’t want to write a horror story at first because… I’m afraid of horror. It’s not a specific book or film that frightens me, more the feeling I know it’ll conjure up inside me. That crawly feeling. I don’t like it.
Nervously excited I pressed the play button to hear the extract from ‘Busy Izzie’. Tantalising snippets of music… Why is the music stuttering?
My temperamental laptop froze. My giddy aunt! I closed and restarted the browser…
Tinkling, repeated piano notes, giving a feeling that ‘something wicked this way comes’, which immediately had me imagining Izzie playing on Aunt Delphie’s piano, only for evil Anwyn to join in with the left hand, sinisterly.
Then Kat Rose Martin spoke...“Busy Izzie. By Milethia Thomas.”
If you have pre bought the Twisted50 audiobook, in the next day or so you can expect a download link to land in your inbox.
This will take you to your private download page where you can download the high bitrate, music enhanced MP3 audiobook for Twisted50.
Plus you get the bonus of five more stories from the Twisted50 initiative and Evil Little Sister!
How cool is that!
One thing we have learned from all our adventures in Create50 is that the writers, and especially THE WRITERS, don’t shout about their success enough.
As one writer shared with us ‘I don’t want to put it on my Facebook feed as my friends will think I am bragging.’
While it’s easy for many of us all to say to that writer, ‘for goodness sake, blow your own trumpet!’, we should also ask, have I been holding back too?
The Create50 initiative has been a boon for me. I didn’t think I could write a short screenplay, but through the process of the Impact50 I learned to. Same with short stories. It wasn’t a medium
I had turned my hand to and initially I wasn’t tempted to have a go at Twisted50, even though I’ve always loved horror stories and my first screenwriting success was with a ghost story.
Then Merlin Ward asked me to head on over to the Twisted50 site and read his chilling tale, “The House On Axe Edge Moor”. It had all the elements of a good haunting: a rural location, a lonely child, a cruel institution. That was it: I was hooked – at least from a reading perspective.
The ‘Five Days’ story in Twisted 50 superbly read by the inestimable Fenella Fudge really got me thinking. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it (or read it), it is about a woman in her late 40s, who is concerned about how she looks, the increasing wrinkles, the eye bags and the general sagging that happens when gravity takes its toll … I know the feeling all too well … and who buys a miracle remedy.
However, why it particularly exercised my brain is not to do with vanity or ageing … it’s to do with how a voice and a face sometimes don’t match … and what voice actors can do to negate those comparisons.
When I was young (and flying to the other side of the world was still relatively new and special) my father brought me back an elaborately carved wooden boomerang from a business trip to Australia. So in awe of this object was I that I dare not throw it for fear it may break.
Years later, I plucked up the courage and sent it off on its inaugural flight. Granted, when it returned and I failed to catch it, it landed on a stone which took a small chip off one corner but the joy of accomplishing something so singular, far outweighed the now slight imperfection.
Can you support it? It will take less than one minute and will make a huge difference to all the writers in both Twisted50 and Twisted’s Evil Little Sister.
You can support it HERE…
And can you ask all your friends if they will support too?
Thank you in advance! Together we can continue to make huge waves!
My sons read all the Harry Potter books but they also wanted the audio version read by Stephen Fry.
They would listen to life in Hogwarts while I listened to the radio. Now, having listened to the excerpt of 'Killing Her Little Darling' I understand why.
As much as we all love movies there is a reason why people continue to relish The Archers, radio plays and audio books.
The pleasure of being read to whilst washing up, driving a car, jogging along dull roads is immense. In fact, there is enormous pleasure to be had listening to audio books when just sitting in an armchair with the TV turned off.
When I was first contacted by Helen Lloyd to audition for the short story 'doG liveD' written by Troll Dahl I was over the moon for three
First, I was honoured to be asked to participate in anything with Helen Lloyd (who I’m in slight awe of). Second, I’ve been wanting to narrate a truly scary story since I started this narration gig. Finally, I am so happy to be included in a volume of work alongside some of the narrators that I’ve loved listening to for years.
I immediately bought the book and proceeded to read it on the train on the way to a voice over job. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement.
We just sent of the Audiobook sleeve to the printers, have mastered the CD’s and are about to send out the final files for duplication.
Handling the final audiobook as a physical product is rather exciting, a bit like holding your book versus reading on a computer screen.
That buzz never gets old.
We shot a little video blog to keep you up to speed on it which you can watch here.
At the launch party for Twisted50 we will be giving awards to ALL the writers in the first volume of Twisted50.
They are after all, the fifty winners.
We will also be recognising excellence and originality too, as well as awarding the best narrations from the audiobooks.
So the fifty award winners who will be presented with a trophy on stage are…
So much happening at Twisted50 HQ!
Evil Sister Paperbacks
We finally have paperbacks headed to the printers and we will have a limited edition first run batch available in a week or two. You can pre-order your copies now on the Twisted50 shop. We are printing 100 copies of this first edition so act now if you want to reserve your copy. CLICK HERE
When London Screenwriters Festival launched the search for fifty horror stories for its Twisted50, Volume 1, I thought - since I wasn't heading up the initiative - I might as well enter. At the time, though I'd published two books about writing, plus a couple of novels, I hadn't actually published any short prose. It had always been on my 'To Do' list, so I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Only I had a problem -- no time!!
So I searched through my old files and found a 500 word story that I thought was okay. I remembered using in my classroom when I was a teacher. We used to do exercises by writing in the style of a famous author. My story (then titled The Life And Death of Elsie Buckle) was supposed to be in the style of Clive Barker, particularly his Books of Blood. Fine, I decided; I'd whack this up on www.create50.com.
When I first saw who was narrating my story, my first thought was: Fenela Fudge?? The BBC news reader?!
I was already familiar with the calm lilting tones of Fenella’s voice, having listened to her over the years on Radio2. If only my midwife had had a voice like Fenella’s – childbirth would surely have been a slightly less horrific experience.
Yet, in my head, the wholesomeness of BBC factual propriety coupled with my dark supernatural fantasy, just didn’t add up. The two seemed mutually exclusive. I clicked the ‘play’ button. I wasn’t expecting the music!
An unsettling piano piece which then gave way to the opening advert for the product featured in the story.
I love audiobooks, but the thrill of hearing my own work read out so perfectly by Penny Scot Andrews was almost indescribable.
As I opened the file, the wind was whistling around my house, and I was alone at my desk as clouds gathered and it began to get dark…
The introductory music set the scene perfectly and then - Penny’s voice! Perfectly pitched to send chills down the spine, and interpreting my words so beautifully that I could not have asked for better...
To celebrate the launch of Twisted50, we will be hosting an unforgettable party and awards ceremony in central London on Friday 24th February.
Tickets: £15 plus booking fee
Dress code: Fabulous and / or gothic
Expectations: Set to high!
Venue: The Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way, Kennington, SE11 4TH
(Nearest tube/train stations: Kennington (Northern Line) and Elephant and Castle (Northern and Bakerloo lines, and BR) are both within easy walking distance).
Though I'm a heavy reader, I had not yet had the experience of listening to a book. Once upon a time I didn't know the pleasure of a Kindle, but as time and technology moved on, I now wouldn't be
So it was with excitement that I first listened to my story being told audibly. And what an experience it was!
The music, first off, haunting chimes, which sound ever so slightly like the score from The Godfather - my all time favourite film.
Next comes Lucy, telling her own story via the narrator. It's chilling, it chilled me and I wrote it! Dawn Murphy is a superb actress, getting the intonation of the characters so right, just how I heard them in my head when I was writing my tale.
TO DO – discuss origins of my Twisted Little Sister story, SHOPPING, for the Create50 blog.
(NB Make it interesting) *** OR AT LEAST TRY!!! ***
SHOPPING INGREDIENTS (a) – from life
There’s something surreal about pulling off the M5 into a faceless service
station car park, on a crisp, cloudless day, to listen to the audio version
of your short story for the first time.
Even stranger, as innocent, post-Christmas families mill aimlessly past my car, to hear an actor brilliantly capture the understated relish in the supermarket butcher’s voice, as he reveals his fascination with meat and dismembering.
When I’m not writing twisted tales, I’m a playwright. And when I initially
wrote MEAT, it was as a short play.But I loved the idea of adapting it as a short story; a confessional monologue to be happened upon and savoured alone; a blood-curdling cry for attention to thrill-seeking voyeurs.
If success lies at the crossroads between experience and opportunity, then the simple act of creative collaboration is by far the best strategy to increase your experience and
When we create, be it writing, making movies, marketing our stuff, we more often than not work in partnership with others, sometimes even a bigger team. Relationships are made, debts and favours exchanged, experience gained…
It’s like each major act of creativity is like throwing a stone in a pond. The ripples spread out and often, keep going, sometimes even for decades. That same pond has others creating too, and their ripples are bound to interact with yours too, creating yet more crossroads and opportunities.
I love making audiobooks ... not only the reading, but also the editing and pulling everything together.
When I was a television producer (I used to produce factual programmes for ITV in the Midlands many years ago) when working with an editor, I tended not to watch the pictures … because I knew that if I got the story through listening alone, then it would work.
I don’t think television programmes these days pay enough attention to audio … so often the sound quality is poor, the commentaries are boring and repetitive … and what is being said (and how it is being said) doesn’t enhance the story.
Having suffered through excruciating actor public readings of my stories in the past, I opened the audio file of The Sugarloaf and the Red Shoes experiencing more than a bit of dramatic tension. We are all familiar with ‘The Five Stages of Grief’, but I wonder if writers go through a similar emotional journey.
While the elation of publication and positive reviews may have dissipated, having the work interpreted by an actor sets-up a whole new set of unease.
I took a deep breath and clicked on the arrow.
From the moment I heard the discordant, harsh, and apt introductory music of this clip, I was hooked like an albatross on a tuna line.
As though having the opportunity to have ‘The Cyclist’ published in a book was not (for me) a victory in itself, hearing my words narrated in such a professional and compelling manner by Pearl Hewitt is an entirely new experience. I have only ever heard my stories in my own voice – out-loud, or in my head – so to have such a striking, third-party interpretation is a revelation. I realise now what an appalling lack of imagination I have when it comes to interpreting my own material.
Winning Twisted50 was my first writing success and so the opportunity to listen to the audio interpretation would be another new experience.
Inevitably I have a clear image in my head of the characters in my story; particularly “Miss Smith” who is the main protagonist. But would she be as I imagine her? Would the whole tone of the audio interpretation be in line with my thoughts? If it was different, would I be disappointed? But then would that different interpretation necessarily be a bad thing?
So, with fingers crossed, I listened to the extract.
I’m sitting with my dad in his kitchen in Glasgow having just listened to the audiobook excerpt of my story. It was awesome!
When I wrote “The Audition Altar” I was thinking of John Waters films, and Anna Parker Naples, the voice actor, nailed the lascivious and sometimes hyperbolic tone of the text. I didn’t expect Ms Naples to do both the male and female voices, so it was a joy to hear her capture the gormless and naive Geoff as easily as the creepy and presumptuous Zoe Trope, and yet she made them her own. Even although I wrote the story, I was excited to hear what happened next!
As the Audiobook project for Twisted50 evolves (produced by the amazing Helen Lloyd), I am publishing short excerpts to share just how extraordinary the voice artists are, and how the stories truly come to life when read aloud, with a little music for mood.
You can see all the voice artists on their page HERE (we will add them as each story locks in).
As I get new tracks I will add them to this playlist here as it’s a great way to hear everything in one place.
Post by Stephanie Wessell
It’s with some trepidation that I sit down to listen to this extract of my story in its new audio form. My narrator, Hannah, has lived in my head for over a year but, perhaps weirdly, I have no
set ideas about where she comes from, her ethnicity or what class she is.
I am, however, definite about Hannah’s age, so I’m slightly worried that an adult voice actor might sound too old for my fictional teenager-veering-on-womanhood. I obviously know Hannah well and feel very protective of her. Will another artist’s interpretation of her voice damage my own slightly nebulous, imagined version?
We are at ‘stage one’ of the three stages needed for Twisted’s Evil Little Sister to be available in paperback on Amazon via CreateSpace.
The second stage is the cover which we expect to be confirmed later today or tomorrow.
Then it’s just a few crossed T’s and dotted I’s and we are good to go. To that end I thought I might share the cover. It’s pretty cool huh?
An epithet often seen on movie posters, and in many cases I wonder exactly how much of said film – this being Hollywood – resides in reality. The recent ‘Sully’, for example: yes a plane landed on the Hudson River, but that part of the story lasted all of ten minutes, so how much of the rest is fabricated?
Well, one might in fact ask the same of ‘No Chain’, my Twisted Sister story, because it was also based on a true story.
“Oh, what, in as far as you once knew a girl called Angela?!” you might scoff. No, it’s not that tenuous, but I do wonder if Create 50 could retrospectively add the ‘based on a true story’ moniker under the title.
I just wanted to thank everyone who has been involved in Create50, Twisted50 and Evil Little Sister, and wish us all a suitably spooky Christmas.
In the UK we have a long tradition of horror and ghost stories during the festive period. To that end, if you have bought Twisted50 or Evil Little Sister, I do hope you manage to spend a yuletide eve exploring the darkest recesses of our writers minds. And if you like what you read, do leave us a review on Amazon HERE.
There is still time to get your paperback copy of Twisted50, pre-order the Audiobook of Twisted50 and get the eBooks of both Twisted50 and Evil Little Sister via the site HERE.
Some of the stories in Twisted50 are demented, disturbing and downright, well yes, Twisted. Then there are some that are melancholic, beautiful and lyrical. Sum Of My Memories by EJ Hughes is one
Originally written from a male perspective, Helen Lloyd our Audiobook producer asked the author if we could go with a female voice as Susie Riddell seemed perfect for it. EJ Hughes agreed and so we have a tonal shift in the reading.
This ability to re-interpret and discover new layers in our collective work is one of the aspects of Create50 that I love. Art and craft in motion, as a collective / team / community. Discovering, reinventing and recreating.
A comment from Richie Brown (one of the Twisted 50 Authors) on the Twisted 50 Audiobook Blog got me thinking.
Richie asked “Are some stories better suited to reading aloud than others because of the way they are written? If so, what lends a story to an audio performance? Or is it the case that an experienced narrator with an engrossing manner is able to read any story to good effect?
My fiancée found Create50. Together we explored the website and with each page the challenge became more appealing. I had one story in mind – a pitch black comedic tale of addiction, family, dating and vampirism. I pained over the telling of the tale, analysed every sentence and rewrote the story. Even though I knew in my heart I had too many characters, subplots and themes – I continued the editing and rewrites until I just scraped in under the word count.
However, to complete the competition entry I had to have two stories. Once more my fiancée Lucia came to my rescue as we were casually discussing stories, something sparked and with just a couple of days until the deadline I quickly wrote my second story – Our Tormentor – and submitted it.