April 2014 Bestsellers Lists – and a giveaway

April saw little change in our bestselling titles. In e-books, there was some jockeying for position, with Quiet Houses regaining the stop spot, and a frequent visitor to the Top Five, paranormal romance Double Double Love and Trouble by Sylvia Shults, supplanting Icy Sedgwick’s YA horror The Necromancer’s Apprentice. Despite today’s youth being enamoured with technology, it seems they prefer good old-fashioned paper when it comes to their leisure time reading material; Everyone Dies in the End by popular YA author Brian Katcher retains the top spot in paperbacks for a second month. In fact, the four top spots remain unchanged in paperback, with Phobophobia (another perennial favourite) returning to the paperback charts to take out #5.

Top Five Bestselling E-books for April 2014QHFinalCoverjpeg

  1. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  2. Everyone Dies in the End by Brian Katcher
  3. Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital by Sylvia Shults
  4. Phobophobia edited by Dean M. Drinkel
  5. Double Double Love and Trouble by Sylvia Shults

 

 

Top Five Bestselling Paperbacks for March 2014ED_ebook_Cover

  1. Everyone Dies in the End by Brian Katcher
  2. Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital by Sylvia Shults
  3. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  4. Within a Forest Dark by Dean M. Drinkel
  5. Phobophobia edited by Dean M. Drinkel

 

Fun fact for the month: Phobophobia is a themed A-to-Z anthology of short stories about phobias. Of the twenty-seven stories contained therein (there’s a bonus story), seven of them are written by authors currently in the Dark Continents stable. For your chance to win a Dark Continents book, simply comment on this post with the name of one of those authors (hint: they’re all listed at the top of Phobophobia’s Amazon page) and then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. The winner will be drawn randomly from the correct entries. Because you have to go to a smidgeon more effort this month, the prize will be the winner’s choice of any Dark Continents title in his or her choice of e-book or paperback.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Remembering H.R. Giger, a dark visionary

Possibly best known for his creation of the monster in the Alien movie franchise, Swiss artist HR Giger was nonetheless multi-talented and known for his dark, surreal works of art across multiple media. His work made a lasting impact on many creatives, and today a few of the Dark Continents family would like to share their own thoughts about this great artist.

Image

HR Giger Picture: Smalltown Boy / Wiki Commons

When I was younger Giger’s work showed me that the weird and darkling visions weren’t only in my head; in fact there was a menagerie of us, all who revel in the strange; that I, we, were not alone.
That the dark is beautiful.Benjamin Knox

If ever there existed images to terrify and inspire, I think of HR Giger. Be it the deadly precision of his alien, or the horror of the facehugger…or the bizarre, disturbing landscapes of his paintings, he had an ability to look beneath the skin to find images both starkly beautiful and discomforting, that have a profound impact on our collective psyche. A true Dark Knight has passed, but his legacy continues to bloom through those of us whom he inspired.Nerine Dorman

I first discovered Giger from a rather unlikely source: Danzig III – How The Gods Kill. Who is this artist, I wondered as I explored further. I missed the Alien boat completely in its original run, but quickly found out about it as the internet improved. The unholy, stark and often disturbing nightmare fuel that Giger painted was incredible and spoke to me. Over the years, I bought prints and such and looked to his work for inspiration in some of mine. When I no longer considered myself a sketch artist, the same viscous blood seeped into my writing. Monsters were made real by his work. I like monsters.
Giger, the world of weirdos has suffered a terrible loss today.Carrie Clevenger

A writer may strive to impact the emotions and the psyche with words in the ways Giger did with imagery. Such a writer would always fail, but at least would have a worthy goal. He didn’t put things into our souls and our minds. He merely revealed them. That is the source of the disquiet and deep unease his art invokes, the true knowledge and conviction that such darkness dwells among us and within us. We shudder away from these truths, but once seen, we can’t forget them. If dark fantasy has a purpose, that is it; to hold before our eyes the discomforting realities of ourselves we would rather not admit. His genius will be missed.DC Petterson

HR Giger’s art unsettled the hell out of me as a kid, and even today, I can still see something of his and have it give me a chill. Giger was the real deal. He did with art what Lovecraft did with words: created a howling, unreal, utterly alien hellscape of the mind, using mere human tools and what he saw in his own head.
As Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships, Giger’s otherwordly imagination launched a thousand nightmares (at least), and he made the world a much creepier place. Not only that, but he did it in the best way possible – he didn’t hurt anybody, he didn’t oppress, he didn’t spread hate… all he did was create good art. Giger’s brand of evil was the best kind.
The world lost a dark genius today, but we’re the better for having had him, and if you happen to see an Alien xenomorph while you’re out and about, don’t forget to offer your condolences.Matt R Jones

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The not-quite March round-up

ED_ebook_CoverWell, not quite March anymore, but here’s what the Dark Continents family has been up to last month…

Brian Katcher got a rave review for his novel, Everyone Dies in the End. The reviewer writers: “His gift for slightly off-kilter humor is in full effect on every single page of this novel, so my use of ‘LOL’ as a description should be taken literally. There’s great zingers, like this one”. Read the full review here.

Tracie McBride‘s short story “The Touch of the Taniwha” is a finalist in the Aurealis Awards (Australia’s national specfic award) in the category of “Best Fantasy Short Story”. Congratulations, Tracie!

Rab Fulton is getting ready for a new summer season of storytelling in The Cottage Bar, Galway. For dates, times, prices, review quotes and links to video clips see CELTIC TALES. After heaps of stunning reviews Rab’s dark and weird Galway ghost story Transformation will soon be published in a print edition. And finally, Rab is still working away on his fast paced fantasy sci-fi blog novel Marcus Marcus & the Hurting Heart.

Nerine Dorman gets a mention for Women in Horror and she shares why she loves libraries for South African Library Week.

Carrie Clevenger‘s Traitors received five stars from the Bitten By Books. The reviewer writes “Although this is a quick story, each page is action-packed and keeps you on edge. I am really looking forward to the sequel that I have to believe is coming soon. Xan is the tall, dark, mysterious type that you just want to get your teeth into. I was so not ready for the story to end.”

NecromancerIcy Sedgwick‘s The Necromancer’s Apprentice is out! Get it at Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

Results of the SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment short story competition are out. Dark Continents will be publishing this year’s anthology.

 

 

 

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Creatures by Icy Sedgwick

Apprentice_eBook_UploadWhenever you write anything with a fantastical bias, one of the advantages is being able to invent your own races and species. Whether you want winged beings, or horned warriors, you can just drop them right in there. Granted, they’ll need some kind of backstory, but the sky is the limit.

In The Necromancer’s Apprentice, my main ‘mass’ of characters are the mummy horde raised by Jyx, the eponymous apprentice, but the other group are the Wolfkin. They’re best described as wolf-headed men, and they occupy a peculiar position in the society of the City Above, where they primarily act as guards within magickal establishments, such as the Academy, or the House of the Long Dead.

They’re far from being werewolves; the Wolfkin are based instead upon ancient legends of dog headed men. Indeed, my favourite such figure has been Anubis of Egyptian mythology since I was around eight years old, but a few months ago I came across stories of the ‘cynocephali’ in an issue of the Fortean Times, and my curiosity was renewed.

The cynocephali are often described as being men with the heads of dogs, able to understand language but unable to speak themselves. Some legends posit them as being civilised, others as savage hunters. A lot of the legends seem to focus on India or northern Africa, yet the theme of the cynocephali as warriors persists across geographic locations. Some believe the descriptions were of mis-recognised baboons, in the same way that seals are believed to be the root of the mermaid legend, but I think that’s doing early explorers a great disservice.

After all, even Christianity gets in on the act, with early depictions of St Christopher as being a dog-headed man, and the explorers Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus describe encounters with cynocephali. I’m not saying I believe they exist, or did once, but I still find them fascinating.

It wasn’t such a difficult step to turn the dog-headed men into wolf-headed men, and the Wolfkin are depicted as being a myriad of different colours, with their skin the same colour as their fur. They do have a language of their own, based on the barks and growls of the canine world, and the necromancer general is the only non-Wolfkin shown to be conversant in their language.

Her interest in their culture is one reason for their loyalty, the other being her relationship to death. With the roots of the Wolfkin lying with my fascination with Anubis, it’s hardly surprising that they would end up working alongside a necromancer, preserving the dead and caring for souls.

There is a bit of a ‘class war’ between the Wolfkin and Men – some centuries earlier, both lived alongside one another, but Men did what they always do when faced with anything they don’t fully understand, and they used their power to legislate and impose ‘civilisation’ to turn the Wolfkin into glorified guard dogs.

That said, they won’t always be that way, and I can’t wait to write about it when they let slip the dogs of war.

 

Bio

Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and lives and works in Newcastle. She has been writing with a view to doing so professionally for over ten years, and has had several stories included in anthologies, including Short Stack and Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar & Other Stories. She spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies, considering the use of set design in contemporary horror. Icy had her first book, a pulp Western named The Guns of Retribution, published in 2011, and her horror fantasy, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, was released in March. See www.icysedgwick.com, follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Google + 

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March 2014 Bestsellers’ Lists and e-book giveaway

March 2014 Bestsellers’ Lists

  What could knock Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Quiet Houses off the top of our charts after dominating them for nearly two years? That would be Dark Continents’ first full-length YA novel, Everyone Dies in the End by US author Brian Katcher. March was a big month for YA horror fans, with our other new release, Icy Sedgwick’s The Necromancer’s Apprentice, also putting in a strong debut appearance in the e-book chart. Fractured Spirits and Quiet Houses still feature on both charts and A Gentle Hell jumps from the #5 slot in e-books to the same position in paperbacks. (A note to readers who like their horror surreal, literary, and printed on dead trees: at US$6.99, A Gentle Hell is a bargain.)

Last month was the Nerine Dorman Show, and this week it’s the turn of one of our other author/editors to shine, with the Dean M. Drinkel-edited anthology Phobophobia in the e-book chart and Dean’s short story collection Within a Forest Dark in the paperback chart. (Another fun fact: Within a Forest Dark contains bonus material that does not appear in the corresponding e-book version, Through a Forest Dark. Again, the paperback is priced attractively at US$7.99.)

 

Top Five Bestselling E-books for March 2014Necromancer

  1. Everyone Dies in the End by Brian Katcher
  2. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  3. The Necromancer’s Apprentice by Icy Sedgwick
  4. Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital by Sylvia Shults
  5. Phobophobia edited by Dean M. Drinkel

 

Top Five Bestselling Paperbacks for March 2014ED_ebook_Cover

  1. Everyone Dies in the End by Brian Katcher
  2. Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital by Sylvia Shults
  3. Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  4. Within a Forest Dark by Dean M. Drinkel
  5. A Gentle Hell by Autumn Christian

 

Since we’ve been having so much fun with Rafflecopter, we’re using them to run the monthly free e-book draw. Write a comment on this thread with the title you’d like to win, enter the Rafflecopter draw, and the winner will be selected at random on April 12, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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