First, I’d like to thank Emma for having me here today. This is day six of The Cursed Blog Tour, celebrating the impending launch of Cursed, the latest of my dark tales from Innsmouth.
By way of introduction, I should begin by saying my name is Ashley Lister and I visited here back in August talking about my novel Blackstone Towers. This time I’m talking about a novella and this is a short passage from the book:
Father O’Brien was sick to death of the twenty first century. Political correctness had pushed things too far and, here he was, being forced into having little girls in his choir. It made no sense to have little girls in the choir. No one wanted to watch little girls singing. Little girls were a decorative species that were supposed to be quiet and look pretty. Stick them in a choir and they continued to look pretty but they did it whilst making lots of noise.
Little boys, on the other hand, were not supposed to look or sound pretty and this was why their presence in a church choir always struck such a pleasant note with parishioners. Seeing little girls being angelic and well-behaved was expected and unremarkable. Seeing little boys being angelic and well-behaved was the acme of either a strong leading hand, in the form of a competent parish priest, or the intervention of a considerate and beneficent God, or possibly a little bit of both. Such a sight, Father O’Brien knew, was bound to inspire generosity at the passing of the collection plate from every parishioner.
“Monica’s a good little singer,” Mrs Denise Talbot, Monica’s mother, insisted when they first met.
She had close-cropped raven hair, sharp black eyes and severe cheek bones. Father O’Brien suspected she was some sort of left-wing lesbian and very probably had a tattoo or one of those piercings that weren’t to be shown in public. That was not the sort he wanted to encourage attending his church: standards had to be maintained.
“She does as she’s told,” Mrs Denise Talbot confided. “And she’s been coming to this church with me since before she was born.”
Father O’Brien wrinkled his nose with distaste. Surely there was no need for the woman to talk about having the child in her vagina, or wherever women kept the damned things before they released their offspring into the wild. It took every effort for him not to shake his head and demand that she leave his church for making such uncouth references.
But that first meeting had occurred six months earlier and now, he realised there were no other options available except to acquiesce.
Cursed is a novella about storytellers telling stories and it looks at the relationship between the storyteller and the story being told. This plays on my love of hearing people relate stories and, in this novella, the characters share stories of the supernatural that are curiously linked. I won’t say much more because, as it’s only a novella, it would be too easy for me to drop a spoiler.
Because Cursed is built on my fascination with the way people share their personal ghost stories, to celebrate this detail, on Monday March 1st, I’ll be hosting an online book launch/virtual event where I (and some friends and fellow writers) will be sharing our own personal ghost stories. If you fancy joining us, either to share a ghost story or simply to listen, please drop me an email at [email protected] and I’ll happily send you an invite.
Ashley Lister is a prolific author of fiction, having written more than fifty full length novels and over a hundred short stories. Aside from regularly blogging about poetry and writing in general, Ashley also teaches creative writing, language and literature in Lancashire, England.
Book DetailsTitle: Cursed
Series: Tales from Innsmouth
Author: Ashley Lister
Publication Date: 1st March 2021
Innsmouth University's Explorers Club meet once a month to share stories of the supernatural. They meet in empty houses, abandoned buildings and derelict churches. They meet in the dead of night. They tell stories of the impossible, the unbelievable and the most terrible. And now, it appears, their meetings have been cursed.