Twisted 50 volume 1 is a deliciously dark slice of contemporary horror literature. Reading it is like attending a late night secret banquet where you know each course will serve up something unexpected, forbidden and unforgettably chilling. Take your private seat now for 50 luscious courses of terror, from 50 of the strongest voices in modern horror.
Written by Stephanie Wessell, Troll Dahl, Susan Bodnar, Marie Gethins, Kendall Castor-Perry, KK Rickcord, Caroline Slocock, Karen Sheard, Lucy V Hay, Stephen Deas, Diana Read, Scott Merrow, Steven Quantick, Dylan Keeling, Steve Pool, Jacqui Canham, Nick Twyford, John Ashbrook, Gordon Slack, Richard Craven, Adam Millard, Penegrin Shaw, Geoff Bagwell, Steven Stockford, Andrew Williamson, Alex Thompson, Joshua Saltzman, Rachael Howard, Christopher Patrick, Charles Maciejewski, Hillier Townsend, Bartley Cryan, Jonah Jones, Duncan Eastwood, Shirley Day, Richie Brown, G.P Eynon, Nick Yates, Maggie Innes, EJ Hughes, KJB Rickards, J.M Hewitt, SV Macdonald, Jessica Brown, Leo Robertson, Chris Jeal, Sasha Black, Thomas Cranham, Neil Bebber and John Read
Read all reviews HERE.
Imagine a twelve-year-old girl exiled to deepest, dankest Manchester, unknowingly about to be presented to endless relatives offering tinned salmon and peaches, existing instead on blackcurrant jam sandwiches...
Then imagine her in that foreign land, staying in a tiny bedroom, which was crammed full of books packed with the most wonderful things; especially a large compendium of horror stories. I took to horror like a vampire to biting necks.
Then I grew up and went to work. In Finance. Not that it was always boring, I met a fair number of criminals and shysters along the way, but there was always something bubbling underneath.
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 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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Some of the tales in Twisted are just a little bit more Twisted than others. Do Blastocysts Dream Of Foetal Sheep? by Alex Thompson is one such story. Read it if you dare.
I cannot wait to get the whole book completed and share it with the world! As ever thanks to Helen Lloyd for doing such a great job! You can listen to the clip below…
WHAT ON EARTH AM I THINKING!!!! A daily audiobook diary? I must be mad!
Not only do I not have the time to do a daily diary, but you’d be bored stupid. So … I think a diary entry per week is more realistic!
You see, everyone thinks that we lead very glamorous lives. We work in the entertainment industry right? We’re actors, narrators, producers – we work as creatives … we read aloud and we get paid for it – it is a darn sight nicer than a lot of jobs I’ve done in the past, but glamorous? No … not really.
We have around 150 copies left (the other 150 were pre-sold) and they will make ideal Christmas gifts for people you love and want to seriously disturb (evil laughter). Get yours HERE.
If you pre-ordered your copies(s), THANK YOU – they will start going out tomorrow.
And if you wan to grab your very own first edition paperback now, click here to buy from the Twisted50 store HERE.
Watch the video below...
At some point, every writer will likely be asked, “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Well, for most of us, I believe, the ideas come from straight from our
inner-selves: not from our heads so much as from our hearts and our memories.
When a writer sets out to write a story, he or she sets out to share something personal about him or herself. The message that comes out in that story - the
ethos, the logos, and the pathos of that tale - likely ties back to something
that the writer has either lived through or watched others live through (or perhaps wished he or she could live through). Stories, in that sense, are a bit like wish-fulfillment on the part of the author.
In the heat of the revolution, not only the Royals lost their heads. Many people who were seen as part of the 'establishment' were also despatched by the guillotine.
One of these unfortunates was a doctor. A very dedicated doctor as it transpired.
A guard was assigned to accompany the condemned man to his fate.
Amazingly, the doctor didn't want to waste a useful scientific opportunity.
He had a theory that a detached head could stay alive for quite a while without it's body.
For everyone at Create50, having Twisted50 paperbacks ready BEFORE Christmas, so that we can give that extra special gift to one we love… (evil cackle) is SO important.
To that end I have personally underwritten a short run print of 300 books. I do expect these will all go, so I would act now if you want some.
This is a short run, and a first edition too, so if for any reason Twisted 50 becomes a hit success or gains cult status, this first edition could increase in value.
I just realized that all the stories I've written thus far for the Twisted series, despite having different story lines, different characters, and different "voices", share a common theme: the horrifying consequences of a person blindly fulfilling their needs at the expense of others.
The reasons “why” vary, too. In one of these stories, a mother is trapped in an addiction; in another, it's a producer's greed that sets off mass carnage; in a third, death and destruction result when a former friend fully indulges his sadism.
A year back, I had what most would describe as a breakdown. I ran out of juice and had too many balls up in the air at once. I can talk about it easily, because I had an amazing doctor who listened to me with genuine concern and the most supportive and patient wife.
Then I found someone that would take my money each week, in return for my demons (and we would make that exchange in a nice rural setting over a cup of tea). I took the usual pills prescribed to take the edge off and had a go at trying to create the headspace I needed, which was the hardest part.
It's not unique at all. Most of us, creatives especially, can't see what's coming to take us down, until it's too late.
Paper Cuts was a letter that had already been written in my mind some years ago and deposited in an envelope somewhere in a sorting office at the back of it.
I have suffered with severe ME/CFS since I was twenty-two, and it left me so ill that there were times over the years when I couldn't move, speak, or even write my own name. To distract myself from pain and nausea while I was trapped inside my body, I used to tell myself stories. Paper Cuts was one of those many stories. I had grown up in love with short fiction, especially horror and sci-fi. I was that cliché of a lonely only child: a bedroom recluse who wrote and drew. The idea that writing would be waiting for me again was a light at the end of the tunnel, keeping me going after I fell ill. I dragged myself back to a point where I was able to start doing small amounts again, and when I did, I wrote Paper Cuts a few days before the Twisted50 deadline, editing it until the last minute.
For me, truly horrifying tales involve a hidden evil within normal, everyday life. Imagine: there’s an unsettling spirit entity watching you read this RIGHT NOW. Can’t you feel it, observing you?
It’s right here, just at your shoulder, willing you to turn around… look. Look now. LOOK!
Nothing there? It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist… and that’s how The Beholder arrived in my head. As a reader and viewer of horror I’m always at my most terrified before the ghost or monster presents itself. The prospect lurking deep in our imaginations is often scarier than what might really be there… and hints at how we see ourselves and our precarious place in the world. To feel watched can make us feel frightened, but also validated: we look around to reassure ourselves and to discover how we might be seen by someone… something… else.
For such a horrible story, the first version of Do Blastocysts Dream Of Foetal Sheep?
It was actually written to make my girlfriend at the time laugh.
We both shared the same strange (twisted?) sense of humor so I wrote as disturbing a story as I possibly could.
This was the result, so it's a wonder we're not still together!
I've always loved writing short stories. To me, a good short story is like a good joke - you build it up, set the scene, and then you reveal, you subvert, you twist. A good short story shouldn't
just end. The only problem with a short story is what to do with one when it's done. Sure, you can send it to your friends, show them how clever you are, blog it, whatever. It doesn't really go
I genuinely don't remember where I first heard about Twisted 50 from. I must have been on a mailing list. It doesn't really matter. What did matter was that it promised (if you were lucky enough) to do something with the story. All you had to do was write the thing.
I used to write a lot, every working day, cataracts of words, page upon ream. But that was dull Civil Service stuff.
It’s only lately that I stopped all that and started to write creatively, following a stroke and medical retirement.
Not so good, but it could have been much worse, so I’m very lucky. (Just prior to the stroke, I was pulling together information to see how feasible it would be to leave the bloody job.
As it turned out, events overtook me. Wishes can be very dangerous things.)
To me, ultimate horror is good people being driven to do bad things, and it’s vital that readers relate to characters and care about them. Stephen King is a master at managing the “How did THAT happen?” moment.
But when I saw the Create 50 “Can you write a horror story in a weekend?” message it was the reference to Pan Books of Horror Stories that first got me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. I devoured those as a teenager and some of the storylines have haunted me to this day.
Yet I’d never considered writing horror myself, till that moment.
I love wearing high heels. The power. The adrenaline pumping sexuality. The socially acceptable dirty pretty look every woman, and some men too, can use or better still, abuse.
For a transgender twist on the vampire story, high heels seemed an appropriate and powerful totem for the heroine in my story, Tatiana. Once a man, now a woman. So long as she stays on the right side of her Faustian deal.
What I love most about writing, is the way it can conjure evocative images in the mind of both the writer and the reader. Our thoughts are truly uncensored and that arouses something in me when I write. Our thoughts are true and honest. And for me, a wonderfully dangerous playground.
Entering stories into Twisted 1, was, for me, quite a leap of faith, not in the competition, but in myself. I’d done no creative writing since school, and that was a long time ago, but have always been an avid reader of fiction, including horror fiction, so thought it was time to try.
I am so pleased I did, because it’s fun! I wrote and submitted four stories in the final days of T1 – nothing like leaving it until the last minute – and with each one, I learnt something, through trial and error on my own part, or from the comments each story received once posted.
And the fourth story – the fourth I have written since my schooldays –was fortunate enough to be selected for Twisted 50 Volume 1.
I believe I’ve learnt a lot from the Create 50 site in the relatively short time since I joined, and for what it’s worth, here are a few observations:
Some years ago I visited an elderly relative who had just moved to a smaller house.
It was, of course, a tiring experience for her and I politely asked "This will be your last move?". "No", she responded and then said, with her wonderful (slightly wicked?) sense of humour, "Just one more, to my single floor flat". I looked confused to which she smiled and then crossed her arms over her chest.
That idea remained stored in my mind and as soon as the brilliant Twisted 50 initiative appeared, the idea rapidly surfaced.
Do you remember that George Harrison song?
♫ It's gonna take time,
A whole lot of precious time ♫
Turns out he was a bit of a prophet.
Often you hear writing gurus, mentors and lecturers preaching about how everything takes time in this writing malarkey. Things like, "it takes ten-thousand hours to become good at writing", or "it takes an average of X years for a script to reach the screen" (and of course, for the latter, only if it has gone through numerous rewrites and stages of rejection).
I seem to have a predilection for the fantastic that goes back as far as I can remember, which, I believe, stems from my early television viewing habits in the late 60s and early 70s. The shows that drew me in and set my imagination running were Mr Benn, Timeslip, and Marine Boy, which were clearly science fiction, and Scooby Do, Where Are You! (no, I don’t get the exclamation mark either).
Scooby Do approached things from a completely different angle to normal kids’ shows. The message was that while Mystery Inc. investigated horrific events, the only extant monsters were very human. That lesson, along with my non-belief in the supernatural, and my laid back nature about copious quantities of blood, possibly ruined the impact on me of most horror films ever made.
So I am sat here writing this and wondering how I ended up here. I mean I am a serial closet writer and as all closet writers know there is one rule – never take the stories out of the closet, never let anyone read them. Yet here I am with a contract to sign and an editor to work with because for once I let a story out of the closet and someone liked it enough for it to win a place in a book.
I don’t have a writing method, I tend to get bored and wander away halfway through trying to understand one. Stories just sort of tell themselves in my head. As I walk to the office, as I sit on the tram I am constantly letting the story tell itself to me and sorting out the words as I go. It is a bit like having a literary multiple personality.
Following his awesome press release, Nick managed to be the first of our authors to get into a newspaper (pic below)!
Here's his release...
Local author selected for bestselling horror anthology
Stamford author Nick Yates has hit the Halloween horror heights after his short story won an international competition to be part of a best-selling anthology.
The anthology, called Twisted, is the brainchild of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Chris Jones, who has published it via his media platform Create50.
I came to the party (the party being submitting my writing to competitions) later than many. Despite having worked as a writer professionally for over 30 years and having written little stories and poems since I could first manage a pen.
Once at the party, my writing partner and I thought surely the screenplay we were submitting to budget-busting competitions would have judges whipping out their cells, conference-calling A-list Hollywood producers, directors and talent, and screaming 'You've GOT to do this picture!'.
We quickly learned that it is incredibly difficult to get noticed, let alone produced.
Yes we did it, we officially knocked the King from his throne.
We nudged Stephen King from his number one spot in Horror Bestsellers and into the number two spot.
So congratulations to everyone involved in Twisted 50 and most of all the 50 Authors. YOU ARE BEST SELLERS!
Let that sink in for a moment.
What we have collectively achieved is extraordinary and we should pat ourselves on the back. But only for a moment.
Hi my name is Marie Gethins and I have an irrational obsession with dance reality shows.
It started with satisfying curiosity—what faded celebrities and sports stars were willing to do for a second bite of that fame apple. First the introductory stills were enough. Oiled and spray tanned in skimpy costumes, I relished the wave of shock, amusement, and a few times, the horror of the vision they created.
Then I moved onto GIFs the morning after each round of competition. Soon I wasted hours reviewing complete dance clips: rumba, jive, quickstep, cha-cha-cha, jazz, samba, waltz.
Towards the later part of 2015 I came across a competition. It was entitled Twisted 50, and they were looking for short stories in the horror genre. The fifty winners would be published in an anthology.
I’d never considered writing horror, although I’m a huge fan of horror books and films. I think it started when I was allowed to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was eleven years old. I was hooked, that feeling of fear, of going to sleep and having someone kill you in your dreams! As I got older I wanted more, I wanted to push the boundaries of myself and my own fear, and I watched all of the ghastly films I could find. Ones that had been cut in order to comply with UK screening rules were always good ones, such as the uncut version of Human Centipede and A Serbian Film.
Twisted50 is now out and live on Amazon and getting great traction. If we want to fall into anyone’s shadow, Stephen King would be the person. But how sweet would it be to nudge him off
that top spot?
Some of you may have been wondering why we choose Kindle to launch on first, and not by printing a physical book? Here’s what our publishers said…
‘At the moment we are delaying the physical book so as to concentrate sales on the Kindle edition in order to achieve a high Amazon Bestseller ranking which will improve visibility beyond the Create50 community, allow access to special Amazon offers and boost sales and recognition even further, which is beneficial to agents, Amazon and of course, the authors too.’
It is a question I have been asked many times since I uploaded Sum of my memories to the Create 50 website and asked my friends and family to take a look.
In all honesty death fascinates me, or to be more precise the idea that death might not be the cut off, the complete cession of life and consciousness which is the societal norm fascinates me.
I have long been a collector of macabre stories, Victorian ghosts were my childhood preference and while my peers were engrossed in Enid Blyton’s halcyon endless summers, I was lost in a world of sunken eyed ghost children and terrified scratches on the inside of coffins. Although, ironically, I do shy away from gratuitous violence, gore and in your face horror.
I got lost driving home last year and ended up on The Broads. I loved the watery flat slightly-creepy-in-wintertime landscape, and had this idea of doing a short film there, though what, I didn’t know.
Then over Christmas last year I saw the Twisted 50 site. I don’t normally do hard-core horror, more psychological thriller, and supernatural, but I read a few stories and really liked the variety. I remembered the Broads, and asked myself “who would evolve out of that landscape?”
And that was it; there she was, pulling herself up out of the water. She had a really larger than life 70’s, 80’s voice that just kept yabering away.
Picture a wet Friday afternoon in late November.
Almost a year ago I was sitting at my desk on just such a day in need of creative inspiration. The proverbial waste paper basket was overflowing with balled up paper and a bruised forehead was all I had to show for it.
I had a bad case of writer’s block.
Then, as if my thoughts were being read somewhere, it popped into my life in the form of an email from a Chris Jones.
This trailer is an extended cut of the last one, featuring ALL 50 writers and their stories. Please share far with your family and friends and shout about it on your social media channels.
You can share this link for the trailer here...
For everyone involved, you can now setup and connect Author accounts in both Goodreads and Amazon. I suggest doing Amazon first (just Google Amazon Author Central) and setup a page and link the book.
You will need a headshot and bio for this. You can also embed the trailer on your Amazon Authors page.
Wooooo! Finally, the Amazon Kindle release of Twisted50 is online. The softback will follow very soon.
Here’s the link https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M66RW8U/
What can you do now?
Numbers and reviews are now VERY important. We need a spike in sales and downloads and we need as many good reviews as possible.
These two metrics are essential for the success of Twisted 50. And of course, if you help you will feel all warm and fuzzy as well as truly terrified by the stories you read!
I wrote a story about things I didn’t know I wanted to say.
To me, it’s about the absurdism of the corporate adult world, how graduates are coerced into designing their lives in ways that are pleasing to companies, perhaps unknowingly sacrificing experiences that would bring them unique joy instead of trying to look good on paper, two pursuits almost exclusively at odds with one another. In “The Audition Altar”—my best alliterative copy of “The Casting Couch”, not that I’d know what that is!—university qualifications and work experience become fetishised, revealing how banal and unsexy they actually are.
An aside: I think Snapchat and Instagram, two things I don’t understand, are the equally horrific opposite of that, making people think that everything they do has to be entertaining, pretty and fun. Life is about half-sexy, half-dull—pretending it’s all sexy or all dull, or trying to make it so, is dangerous.
The idea for “Insects” came from a dream. Or should I say, a nightmare.
In the dream, I’m standing in the doorway of my kitchen, horrified. There are heaving, crawling piles of insects everywhere. I rush in and turn on all the flames on the stove to try and incinerate them. I turn the taps on full blast in the sink to try and drown them. But nothing works. They just keep coming back like the relentless sea of beetles in “The Mummy”.
When I was thinking of a story for Twisted50, I imagined two women in a room. That became an interview between a psychiatrist and a young girl. I added the insects and the nastiness grew from there.
Many of my stories are set in the woods near where I live, and my inspiration for ‘Witches’ came from the same place.
The clearing where I set the story really does exist, and just after dawn on a sunny morning shafts of light fall through the trees and illuminate it in a truly magical way.
One rainy morning I found the remains of a campsite there, and some of the trees had been marked with odd graffiti. It set my imagination off and running. What if there had been some sort of ritual? Who might have taken part? And what would they do if someone discovered them?
– quote from John the Christmas cracker who took 1st place at the Boys’ Brigade fancy dress comp 1988.
Okay, let's travel forward in time a bit...
On the evening of September 3rd, 2016, I found myself at the London Screenwriters’ Awards. My short story, Shenanigans, had been nominated for best story, and as I sat in a hall packed with incredibly talented people, some of whom I’d admired for years, I wondered for a moment, how the hell had I ended up here? And the honest answer is – I’m not smart enough to learn from my mistakes…
Ahead of the launch for Twisted50 the book, we have just launched this website dedicated to the book and the book series. We will share updates and behind the scenes stories via this blog, as well as posts from the authors.
So how can you contribute to the blog?
If you are a featured author in Twisted 50, why not share your personal story? Or maybe share how you write? Or the inspiration behind the story? We want to know.
If you have written for Create50, why not share your journey or experience?