In Satan’s Sorority, I wanted to explore the idea of crime that uses occult connections even if there’s nothing supernatural happening (it’s open to interpretation, of course — the characters certainly believe something diabolical occurs). Admittedly my forthcoming story Elf Prefix, which again mixes up crime and the occult, is a little more beyond acceptable reality, but I’m interested in the ways the occult has been used to cover up or shield crime.
You don’t think of Dashiell Hammett as a ‘fantasy’ writer, though he did pen a short supernatural tale of a magician and his assistant (‘Magic’). But he was aware of how the occult could be used to con people — he was always interested in how people manipulated one another. After all, many cults are just a way to swindle folks — another big con.
The Dain Curse has a fascinating occult motif in the middle of it. California has long been the hotbed of strange cults so it’s not surprising the Continental Op would run up against one. The Temple of the Holy Grail supposedly resurrects a sort of druidic practice of Arthur’s Britain. While guarding Gabrielle Leggett, inheritor of the curse, the Op discovers her blood-soaked with a dagger in her hands, confessing to murder.
Entering the temple itself through a ‘small iron door’ he sees ‘dim stars in a night sky’ as they walk over ‘a floor of white marble, or pentagonal tiles that imitated white marble…The light glittered and glistened on a wide altar of brilliant white, crystal and silver.’ The victim lay upon the steps pooling blood.
Later as the Op tries to protect Leggett in her room, he’s aware of the persistent smell of dead flowers intensifying. Then he sees something weird:
Not more than three feet away, there in the black room, a pale bright thing like a body, but not like flesh, stood writhing before me. It was tall, yet not so tall as it seemed, because it didn’t stand on the floor, but hovered with its feet a foot or more above the floor. Its feet—it had feet, but I don’t know what their shape was. They had no shape, just as the thing’s legs and torso, arms, and hands, head and face, had no shape, no fixed form. They writhed, swelling and contracting, stretching and shrinking, not greatly, but without pause.
The Op figures things out eventually–and as you might suspect, the cause of the seemingly supernatural vision has a lot to do with the strange smell and suggestibility, but it’s worthwhile thinking about how even the hard-nosed Op can be thrown off kilter by what appears to be inexplicable. You might breathe a sign of relief when the Scooby-Do ending gets revealed, but for a time even the hard-boiled reader might be willing to suspend disbelief for a time.
See all the overlooked books at Patti Abbott’s blog.
Those devilish girls of Sigma Tau Nu,
there’s simply nothing they wouldn’t do!
1958: Sandra Delites is packed off to college in Connecticut after an ‘incident’ with another girl. Her father thinks a small town university will be just the thing to straighten her out, only he hasn’t reckoned on the sisters of Sigma Tau Nu. Not just any sorority, their rites are bloody and the girls are hot – but not for the boys! President Trixie Faust sees a lot of potential in the newest pledge and Sandra is eager to learn: the thrill of the kill is just the beginning for these college girls gone wild.
Halloween will be extra scary this year. Forget black cats, you don’t want one of these sisters to cross your path.
See the teaser trailer HERE.
Listen to an extract read by Darren Sant HERE.
“Dark humour, the occult, loss of innocence and sex… Wynd has well developed, intelligent and believable characters. The flow of the story is perfectly paced which made all the action and tension so much more effective. The novella is not for the faint of heart…. A thumping good read. Top marks here, Wynd is a talent I’d love to read more from.” – Darren Sant (author of The Bank Manager and the Bum and Tales from the Longcroft)
“For those more learned than me there are plenty of literary and occult references in this story…Sometimes when I read a book I find a single line sums it up perfectly. The poets often claimed that death wore a mask, but they never said it wore a sorority pin. Not yet anyway. —Tony Lane
‘Extricate blends forbidden passion and noir so seamlessly, it’s remarkable. Wynd has a very strong voice, and the prose just floats you through the story. I’m always looking for great stories that come from great writing, and Graham Wynd is someone I’m going to look out for in the future.’ -Liam Sweeny (author of Dead Man’s Switch)
‘A twisty-turny noir tale of dishonor amongst thieves that is skewered with hot lust and cold blooded murder.’ -Paul D. Brazill (author of Guns Of Brixton and A Case of Noir)
‘Crime meets erotica in a fevered novella. Graham Wynd has written a fluid and tight story with vivid characters in situations that are inextricably charged with a sexuality from which you will find it hard to extricate yourself.’ -Richard Godwin (author of One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising and Mr Glamour)
‘A fantastic tale of friendship and deceit, interspersed with sex, drink, cards, a loveless marriage, dodgy dealings, but mainly sex as Peter’s obsession and addiction to his best friend’s girl leads him down a dangerous path.’ -Col’s Criminal Library
Mark October 13th on your calendar! It’s the day SATAN’S SORORITY will be spawned from Number 13 Press. Yes, I am pleased to announce that my influenced-by-those-60s-and-70s-satanic-panic-films novella has been chosen to be one of the lucky thirteen — and the Halloween release at that.
I had a wicked lot of fun writing this (thanks to Mr B for nudging me to finally get around to it). I even have ideas for a sequel (not everyone survives that long though). Here’s the skinny:
The devilish girls of Sigma Tau Nu
There’s simply nothing they wouldn’t do —
It’s 1958: Sandra DeLites gets packed off to college in Connecticut after an ‘incident’ with another girl. Her father thinks a small town university will be just the thing to get her to straighten up and fly right, but he never counted on the sisters of Sigma Tau Nu. President Trixie Faust sees a lot of potential for Sandra and asks her to pledge. Rush week is nothing like the brochures say. Their rites are bloody and the girls are hot—but not for the boys! Halloween is going to be extra scary this year. Forget black cats: You don’t want one of these sisters to cross your path.
Get the first nine Number 13 novellas here and see what people have been saying about them. I’ve got a plan to write about some of the films that filled up my memory bank all those years ago, so look forward to a lot of sexy satanic dames!
From Fox Spirit Books:
You Left Your Biscuit Behind is our crime & crime mashup anthology due out in 2016.
The running order is subject to change but currently looks like this:
Elf Prefix by Graham Wynd
Between Love and Hat by Jay Eales
Black Glass by James Bennett
No Mercy by Kate Hollamby
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Penny Jones
Feeding the Fish by Carol Borden
Mermaids in Cape Town by Mame Diene
Patron by E.J. Davies
The Price of a Biscuit by Kate Coe
The Princess, The Pekingese and the Ivory Box by R.A. Kennedy
Cover art will be by Michaela Margett
Yes, another Fall-inspired title there from me, with pulpy occult tendencies (pace Todd) to get you ready for the glory that will be the forthcoming Satan’s Sorority.
How The River Runs Dry
Includes unlimited streaming of How The River Runs Dry via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
How could I resist this pulpy cover? And the nostalgic pleasure of the album with extras: the limited edition CDs do come with the Formica samples (Brushed Silver Matt, in my case). Although this disc is poppier than the usual meditative/experimental work the label features, it still has the same aesthetic precision missing from factory-stamped product.
The pulpy cover isn’t just a bait and switch: like the lurid paperbacks that did their best to rip back the covers of suburban ennui, How the River Runs Dry dissects the same crash and burn relationship implosion. ‘Cats on Window Sills’ imagines the paradise to be found ‘living on the edge / of the A-Z’ and its swinging keyboards and flute provide floating optimism, although the cats are watching as ‘the world passes by.’
Vocalist Denise kicks off the title track and switches the point of view in the couple. Their suburban world, where she doesn’t have to work, already proves stale. They trade vocals back and forth, both claiming ‘but I love him(her) / though I’m not sure why’ while there’s ‘the ocean between you and I’ so there’s not much of a paradise lost. Both ruminate on how they could have had others. The music is positively Bacharachian (in the most wonderful way) even as the pair sing ‘This life’s not mine’ over and over.
The jaunty ‘Office Boy’ dissects the deadening life of the avaricious guy who wants to get ahead: ‘You love making the profits…you love talking the bollocks’ with such a delightful sneer. ‘Big Dead Cockroach’ has a kind of carnivalesque melancholy with its pulsing piano and images of the girlfriend coughing phlegm, holding his stomach in, while she moans ‘this house is ultra-unhygenic / but can’t be arsed to go and clean it.’ You can see why this CD is so much fun. The lyrics are both an homage to the retro suburban dream and a cold-hearted dissection of it at the same time. How are dreams let us down when they’re based on nothing more than wishing.
The joyful despair of ‘Alcohol’ seems to make it destined for classic status. From its opening exhortation ‘Come on, park your arse / and have a drink with me’ to its refrain ‘keep me drinking / stop me thinking’ the song is as dedicated to the notion that ‘sorrows drown’ even as it offers evidence that they come equipped with flotation devices.
Can jaunty disaster become a new genre?
‘A Church is Burning’ offers a jazzy take on that theme, vowing ‘I want to disturb your peace of mind / take a little lover’s dynamite’. Almost surreal in the manner of Robyn Hitchcock, it balances on that edge of clever without ever becoming precious and the percussion adds great colour as does the unexpected sitar. The tango style of ‘Over My Head’ also brings in unexpected musical change of pace. ‘You’re Never Coming Home’ trips off into ska that softens the melodrama of the lyrics. There’s a despair captured here of ‘a mind that’s not equipped’ to deal with the despair.
The drums and horns at the start of ‘Breaking Down’ will get anyone’s feet moving, but the layers pile on until the sense of mental collapse feels palpable, The brass trades off themes then joins up for a spiraling descent into madness, while the drums pulse and then everything starts to fall off kilter. It’s wonderful.
The disc closes with ‘Pile Up’ which returns to jaunty but with a hardened sense of purpose as everything crashes together until it’s ‘dead as a dodo-do-do’. When in doubt through everything into the finale. It works, down to the last wail of the horns.
I advise you to buy this album and start drinking as you examine everything that’s gone wrong with your life. And then dance — all night if need be.