Monthly Archives: August 2013

Zombie with a Shotgun


It’s a great sounding title, don’t you think? A great title for a book, certainly, but today, I’m not writing about books, or even writing. I’m here to tell you about a project of a friend of mine.

Not only is Zombie with a Shotgun the Twitter username of one of my followers @ZOMBIEWASHOTGUN, it’s also the title of a cool web series of short films that tell the story of Aaron, the “Zombie” of the title, and his girlfriend Rachel.

Aaron has been infected with a virus that will ultimately result in his transformation into a full-blown member of the undead, but in the meantime, the series tells of the pair’s fight to survive in a world that wants to see Aaron dead. There are questions to be answered: where has the virus come from, and how did Aaron become infected? Why has Aaron not “turned” immediately, as other zombie victims do? I’m sure that we’ll find out the answers in future episodes of this great new series.

I’m constantly amazed by so-called “low budget” films, and it astounds me at just what one can achieve with just a little money, a lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of dedication and belief in what one is doing.

To date, there have been four episodes made, and the project is the brainchild of Hilton Ariel Ruiz who created and produced the series, along with co-producer Kirk Goodall.

ZWAS‘s two main stars are Braeden Baade as Aaron, and Lynnea Molone as Rachel, and both give very credible performances. I look forward with relish to watching them in action in future episodes of Zombie with a Shotgun.


Click on the image at the top of this post to be taken to the official ZWAS page on Vimeo, where you will be able to watch all available episodes.

Follow Zombie with a Shotgun on Tumblr


Review: “Badass Zombie Road Trip”, by Tonia Brown

BadAss Zombie Road TripBadAss Zombie Road Trip by Tonia Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review is a mirror of the review i left on

Jonah and Dale are long-time buddies, but are complete polar opposites: Dale is good looking, a real ladies’ man, and really rather rude and obnoxious, whereas Jonah is introverted, the thinker of the two, and lacking in experience with the ladies. Our unlikely duo are on their way to play a gig in Reno, but while Dale is asleep in their red Ford Focus, Jonah decides to help Dale to be re-united with his estranged father and instead drives to California.
Upon waking, we learn why Dale was so insistent that he should never return to California.
Enter: Satan, and the beginning of a rip-roaring, riotous road trip to return Dale’s soul to his body while traveling the breadth of America from West coast California to North Carolina! And all before Dale’s re-animated corpse begins to rot and stink!
We follow Dale and Jonah on their adventure, discovering what it’s really like to be a zombie, and what the pitfalls are to travel with the undead by your side.
Picking up the ravishing Candy along the way adds another layer of difficulty to their already seemingly impossible task, and throw in a run-in with Californian Mafia wannabes, Dale’s father and multiple revisits by the hilarious and deeply devious Lucifer, and you have a truly satisfying and side-splittingly funny read ahead of you.
As to how it all ends up–you’ll just have to read the book!
Tonia Brown has written one Hell of a zombie tale, and I highly recommend that you read it!

View all my reviews

On investigating the Legend of the “Chained Oak”

The “Chained Oak” at Alton, showing its position overlooking Barbary Gutter, the stone steps leading up to it, and the huge limb that fell from it in 2007, still with the chains attached!

I love local legends and tales of old, and have heard a few in my time; most of them bastardized from urban legends that have spread throughout the world, with the residents of each country adapting the story to suit their own particular storytelling tradition.

Only recently, I became aware of a legend involving a very old oak tree and a member of the landed gentry that originated in the village of Alton, about ten miles from where I live. I hadn’t heard of it before, despite the fact that the UK’s most visited theme park and ninth most popular in the whole of Europe, Alton Towers had capitalized on it and created a ride called “Hex”, loosely based on this very legend!

Since I heard about it, I’ve been to visit the “Chained Oak” on two occasions. It’s very impressive, and it keeps drawing me back to it. And the surrounding woodland is stunning!

Woodlands surrounding the “Chained Oak”

There are a couple of versions of the legend, so I’ll give both versions to you. The first version is as follows:

In between 1821 and 1846 (the date varies with the source of the telling of the legend) one autumn evening, the Earl of Shrewsbury was returning home (the Earl at that time would have been the owner of Alton Towers) along a route known as Barbary Gutter, a track that begins at Alton Abbey, winds its way through the woodland, passes over the River Churnet into Dimmingsdale, and leads eventually to St Giles’s Church (the interior of which was designed by the renowned architect Augustus Welby Pugin, as was Alton Towers itself) in the neighboring village of Cheadle. As the Earl’s coach approaches the spot where the oak tree looms over the now disused carriageway, an old woman bars the way and begs the Earl for a few pennies. The Earl pours scorn upon her, refuses her request, orders her off his land and tells the coach’s driver to carry on. As a result of this, the woman curses the Earl: “For every branch that falls from this old oak tree, a member of your family will die.”

Some time later (possibly the very same night), a storm rages, and a huge limb of the tree is torn off and falls crashing to the ground. In the morning, it becomes apparent that a member of the Earl’s family–supposedly his son—died suddenly and without any indication of a cause of death. Fearing that the old woman’s curse had come true, the Earl ordered his servants to chain up the remaining branches of the oak to prevent further members of his family befalling the same fate, and thus, the legend of “The Chained Oak” was born!

The second version of the story changes slightly, so that in this version of the legend, it becomes the Earl’s son who is the one who sees an old woman as he is out riding one day, though in this tale she is standing beneath the oak, and as he passes the spot where the old woman is standing a branch breaks off the tree and kills him.

Incidentally, a huge limb fell from the tree in 2007, but there have been no reports of a death within the present Earl of Shrewsbury’s family.

The limb that fell from the “Chained Oak” in 2007, still in chains!

As there is no actual documentation relating to either version of the event, one can choose to believe whatever one wishes. It is more likely that the Earl simply chained up the oak after a storm to protect the remaining branches of the tree. Both the 16th Earl and his predecessor were very proud of their trees and had planted thousands of them, and a fine specimen such as the oak would have been something that the Earl would have wanted to protect and preserve.

The website tells of a similar tale: “There is also a long-standing tale of the ‘Witch’s Oak Tree’ in Staffordshire. In this story, however, the curse is delivered not by a crone in the road, but by an old man who gatecrashes the opening ball of the Banqueting Hall, rebuffed when he offers to tell fortunes for a night’s shelter.”

Here is some actual footage of the tree on Youtube, uploaded by Tim P. Commentary by Tim P.

If you’re of a mind to visit Alton Towers, or just to see the “Chained Oak”, and walk the beautiful woodlands, you could do much worse than to stay at The Chained Oak B&B, only ten minutes’ walk from Alton Towers, and right opposite the tree and the woodlands themselves!

Enjoy some of the other photographs that I took during my two trips to see the “Chained Oak”. Just keep scrolling!

The disused gatehouse that sits to the right of the entrance to the woodlands and the “Chained Oak” B&B
A side view of the gatehouse, showing the sign for the “Chained Oak” B&B
The way into the woodlands and the “Chained Oak”, 400 yards away
The public footpath with signpost that leads into the woodlands
A random shed in the woodlands, reminiscent of “The Evil Dead”. Well it is to me!
Looking back from Barbary Gutter to the entrance and the gatehouse
An atmospheric view of the “Chained Oak”
A brighter, closer view of the huge limb that fell in 2007
The broken trunk and the end of the fallen limb
A view from above the “Chained Oak”, looking down into Barbary Gutter and the woodlands
Standing above the tree, looking at the chains and major limbs. Note the broken section where the limb fell off in 2007
Standing at the base of the “Chained Oak”, looking down at the masses of chains on the broken limb
In Barbary Gutter, below the “Chained Oak”, looking at it through the woodland vegetation

My 3rd accepted submission for JWK!

The cover for forthcoming book, “Bones”, edited and published by James Ward Kirk

Sleepless night are often the most productive times for an author. They are for me, most certainly!

I wrote a 1,000 word story entitled A Canine Conundrum a couple of nights ago, in the hope of submitting it to Bones, a new anthology to be published shortly by James Ward Kirk. I emailed the story and only a day later I had an email from James saying that he’d get back to me as soon as possible.

Another day has passed since then, and tonight I got the acceptance and attached contract for me to sign, which has now been signed and returned, along with a short up-to-date biography.

I look forward to seeing all of the amazing writers, poets and artists in print when it is published, and I know that you will all love the book. Submissions are still being accepted at time of writing, so if you have something you think is worthy of being included, click on the cover image and read the submission guidelines before submitting. And good luck!

I won’t give anything away with regard to my story, because it has my usual shock ending, and this one just may make you puke! At least that’s the reaction I’m hoping to see!

“Serial Killers Tres Tria” is out!

Front cover of Serial Killers Tres Tria

It’s been quite a wait, but Serial Killers Tres Tria is finally out in paperback, and my short story, Eyes is in there!

In total, there are 21 authors and artists featured, with a lot of the great names in horror fiction being represented. The book is volume 3 in the Serial Killers stable, brought to you by author, Editor and publisher James Ward Kirk, who has the ability, experience and the charm to attract all of the very best names to his books.

My good friend, author M.C. O’Neill picked up an Editor’s Award for his contribution Conduct Disorder, and I can’t wait for the mail to come and deliver it, so I can hold my very own copy in my hands!

If you’ve not read any of JWK’s anthologies, you simply must remedy that immediately! All of the books that James publishes are widely available, and he is open for submissions to a whole range of future titles, so head on over to his website at and grab yourself some fantastic reading matter, and if you’re up to the challenge, submit something of your own! And while you’re browsing James’s site, take a look and drool over the fantastic covers, designed by such names as William Cook and Sydney Leigh.

Buy your very own copy of Serial Killers Tres Tria from Amazon, now!