Friday, December 1, 2023

Demons, witches and things that go bump in the night with Elizabeth J. Brown 😱

Elizabeth was born in Kent, England. This probably explains her obsession with tea and cake. She currently writes the Brimstone Chorus series - dark fantasy horror featuring demons, witches and a whole host of things that go bump in the night.

Awards: 2023 Bookstagram Awards – Author of the Year

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The Laughing Policeman

The law failed him. The demon won’t.

Charlie Haynes is an ageing ex-detective, working unsolved cases. Obsessed with cleanliness and order, Charlie is a loner who trades on his experience of grisly crimes, and struggles to maintain a relationship with his adult daughter.

When three teenagers are murdered in a public cemetery, the ritualistic killings show similarities to one of Charlie’s old investigations: a savage serial killer who targeted the members of a notorious Traveller family, the Boswells.

Charlie is called in to speak to the one surviving witness, whose terrifying testimony confirms his fear: the Caravan Cannibal is back, roused by the reappearance of an ancient dagger that has haunted Charlie throughout his career.

As Charlie realises he has a personal connection to the killer, he must confront his own demons to protect the last remaining Boswells, Ciara, and her young daughter, Addy, and free an innocent from the grip of an insatiable evil.

The Laughing Policeman is the first book in the Brimstone Chorus dark fantasy series. If you like gritty, fast-paced suspense, dry humour and dark supernatural forces, then you won’t be able to put down Elizabeth J. Brown’s addictive and ultraviolent debut.

The Tough Questions

•    Where is your favorite place to write? Read?
I tend to write in my office upstairs. It’s a little chilly, and in the colder months I need to snuggle under a throw just to keep from shivering, but it’s my space and I love it. Before that, I used to write huddled in the corner of the sofa. We got rid of it a while ago, but it was one of those L shaped sofas, the kind that’s pretty much all cushion that you sink into and then struggle to get back out of again. Comfy, but not great for the back!

As for reading, I’ll read pretty much anywhere. But my favourite place is probably in bed. It’s warm, it’s quiet, what more could you want?

•    What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I used to love comic books, still do in fact. X-Men was my comic of choice, I’m a Marvel girl through and through. I’d spend hours designing comic strips, usually about anthropomorphic animals of some kind. So for a while I definitely wanted to create comics for a living. Then I think I wanted to be a graphic designer. Then an author. Then a fire fighter, briefly. That one didn’t last very long - I was not what you’d refer to as “athletic” in the slightest. Also, I was more likely to cause the fires than prevent them.

A fun little story for you: I decided to make bread once, I can’t remember how old I was, maybe around 10 or so, anyway, the instructions said to place a tea towel over the dough as it was rising in the tin. What the instructions did not say, however, was to remove said tea towel when you then put the dough in the oven to bake. Now, anyone with a shred of common sense would’ve been able to fill in the gaps… but I was not anyone. Luckily my dad saw what was happening before the tea towel caught alight. I also grilled a cake once. Surprisingly enough, I never had any desire to become a pastry chef.

•    What is one thing you need when you sit down to write?
Tea. Always tea. Though I’ve had to switch to decaf now. I was drinking so much tea that the caffeine was giving me heart palpitations. Some might say that when you reach double digits your tea consumption has become obsessive, but I like to think I’m being patriotic. It’s the law to drink tea if you live in the UK*.  *This may not be entirely true.

•    What is one tip you would like to share with an aspiring author?
Write. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just write. You can edit a mess, you can’t edit a blank page.

•    Are you a pantser or plotter?
Oh, I’m definitely a plotter. I need to know what’s going on. I outline my books, in fact the outline for The Laughing Policeman was about 22k words. I don’t always stick to an outline religiously, but it really helps to stop me from stalling. I liken it to a map, if I know the rough route I want to take from point A to point B it doesn’t matter if there are a few detours along the way because I know I’ll get there.

From BOH reader Heather L.
•    Chili – beans or no beans?
Beans. I only discovered that chili wasn’t supposed to have beans because of Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. I can’t be the only one, right?

•    Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Oooooh, that’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between Wolverine and Deadpool. I’ll go with Wolverine. He was my favourite when I was a child.

I love an anti-hero. And whether you want to admit it or not, Wolverine is an anti-hero. A lone wolf, known for brutal tactics, but with a big heart? “I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn't very nice.” I mean, come on, you’ve got to admit he’s pretty cool.

•    DC or Marvel and why is it Marvel?
Marvel. Obviously. Do I really need a reason? It’s Marvel!

•    You need to hide a body - who do you call to help you?
This is a nice question—yes, I know how that sounds—but it’s made me realise how many people I’ve got that I could depend on in a body-hiding situation. I won’t incriminate them here, but they know who they are.

•    Favorite song to belt out in the shower?
Hmm… usually whatever I’ve had to watch on repeat with my son. At the moment he’s going through a bit of an Encanto phase. So probably: We Don’t Talk About Bruno. Bet that’s stuck in your head too now isn’t it? You’re welcome.

•    What animal would you be and why?
Are we talking real animal or does it include mythological animals too? Because if it does, the answer is werewolf. No hesitation. But I’d have to be able to control when I shift, none of this controlled by the phases of the moon nonsense.

•    If you were stranded on a deserted island with all your human needs taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?
A fully stocked Kindle with an unlimited battery supply and a really good pillow. I might be showing my age here, but why is it so hard to find a decent pillow? Is it too much to ask for to be able to wake up in the morning without a sore neck or back? *Descends into a muttering rant*

•    Next project (what are you currently working on)?
I’m working on the sequel novella to The Foundling.
If you haven’t read The Foundling, here’s the blurb:

All Edmund wants is a family. But the darkness inside him wants his life.
Being a cursed and sickly boy in eighteenth century England isn’t easy. So when Edmund Brownlow’s father abandons him outside a hospital for orphaned and unwanted children, the boy doesn’t think things can get worse.

As the newest foundling at the hospital however, Edmund is fresh meat, and nothing attracts predators faster than easy prey. When a scrap with an older boy leaves Edmund fighting for his life, his days look numbered. But when he makes a full recovery, it comes as a shock to everyone, including the mysterious doctor, ‘Black Barrow’.
Tormented by the bullies who use his only friend against him, Edmund is pushed to the edge. It’s then a dark power rises inside him—something that’s of interest to Barrow and that could cost Edmund dearly.

Now Edmund has a choice to make. Will he embrace his full potential and turn his back on real friendship, or will he deny what he truly is for the chance at a normal life?

Shameless plug time, you can download a free copy of The Foundling by subscribing to my monthly newsletter on my website

•    Scary movies - complete darkness or all the lights on?
Darkness. I have a thing about artificial lights anyway, they give me a headache after a while, so I usually watch the TV in the dark given the choice. Plus, complete darkness helps to immerse you into the story. And saves on electricity. Win-win. Yes, I know, I’m old…

•    Cats or dogs?
Dogs. Not that I have anything against cats, they’re just not dogs. And dogs are awesome.

•    Who would you stalk?
I’m too lazy to stalk anyone. Anyway, isn’t that what they invented social media for? Sofa-stalking, is that a thing?

•    What inspired you to start writing?
Reading. I think most authors are avid readers. You fall in love with words, with stories, and you want to create your own characters and worlds. They live inside your head, taking on a life of their own until you’ve got no choice but to write it all down.

•    How old were you when you wrote your first story?
Non school assignment story? I can’t remember honestly, but it would’ve been some time in primary school. When I was collecting The Animals of Farthing Wood comics. I tried to create my own version of those stories, talking animals going on some grand adventure. They never got beyond a few pages, but I still enjoyed writing.

•    What is your favorite book/story you wrote?
When I was a teenager my English teacher would give us assignments to complete over the holidays. Being a fan of all things spooky, my stories were always horror based. Werewolves, vampires, that kind of thing. So one day I hand in my work. I can’t remember the story exactly, but it revolved around a party at a mansion in which rival werewolves and vampires were in attendance. Anyway, a couple of days later I get asked to wait behind after the lesson. My English teacher then proceeds to grill me on my story, asking me what particular words meant, asking me where I got the idea for certain metaphors. Turns out she thought I’d plagarised it. After answering all the questions to her satisfaction she eventually apologised. I told my mum about it when I got home and she wrote a letter to the school… and brought it up at parents’ evening. Just what every teenager wants!

Obviously, I wasn’t thrilled about it at the time, but thinking back on it now it was pretty complimentary really.

•    Who is your current favorite author?
Terry Pratchett.
For a while, during my school years, the fact that I was being forced to read things as part of the curriculum that I had no interest in put me off reading for a while. Terry Pratchett, specifically Hogfather, rekindled my love of reading. The Discworld series is one of my all-time favourites.

•    What is your favorite genre?
Here’s where I get ostracised from the horror community… it’s fantasy. Fantasy is what ignited my passion for reading and writing. But Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson aside, the fantasy I usually read is dark, brutal and definitely horror adjacent. The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie and The Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence are just superb.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good horror book, but fantasy will always have a special place in my heart.

•    Favorite horror movie?
Cabin In The Woods. It’s hilarious. The scene with the merman? Chef’s kiss. I really enjoy the way it plays with horror conventions. If you haven’t seen it, I 100% recommend it. It’s got a unicorn and everything.

•    Favorite book of all time?
Urgh. Why are you making these questions so hard? I’m going to say Hogfather. It’s one of the few books I’ve read multiple times. It’s definitely my comfort blanket of a book.

•    Cake - vanilla or chocolate?
Chocolate. Chocolate! CHOCOLATE!!! If you couldn’t tell, I like chocolate.

•    Pizza - pineapple or definitely never on a pizza?
Pineapple for the win. Despite the line in The Laughing Policeman, I’m actually a huge fan of pineapple on pizza. Ever wonder why they still make Hawaiian pizzas? Yeah, that’s me. I’m the one who’s ordering them.

•    What’s your favorite band?
I’m not sure I have a favourite band. My favourite singer was probably Chris Cornell, but I much preferred him solo than with Soundgarden or Audioslave. He had such a wonderful voice!

Band-wise, I definitely lean more towards rock. Biffy Clyro, Muse, Mumford and Sons, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park… I like a fair few metal bands as well. To be honest, I’d listen to almost anything.

From BOH reader Derek T.
•    Is there a particular author that inspired you to write horror?
Coming into writing as a fantasy reader, I don’t really have a particular horror author that I can credit for wanting to write horror. I watched a lot of horror though. My favourite film as a child (and I’m talking 5 or 6) was Gremlins. I think that probably explains a lot of why I turned out the way I did. I can even remember sneaking downstairs and hiding behind the sofa just so that I could watch the horror film my parents had on the television, Pulse I think it was – the 1988 version.

It’s no surprise I fell into writing horror. I’ve always been fascinated by monsters and villains, and my sense of humour is dark. I was never going to be the author of anything light and fluffy. Flawed characters. Anti-heroes. Cryptids. That’s me all over. Plus a little gore thrown in for good measure.

•    Are there any things required when you write?, i.e., listening to certain music? an adult beverage? complete silence? stuff like that.
I have to write in silence. If the music has lyrics I get distracted and start listening to them instead. Maybe I should give classical music a go.

•    Skittles or Starburst?
Chocolate. Strangely enough I’m not too fussed about sweets, but chocolate… If it weren’t for the groaning protests of the waistband on my jeans, I’d eat chocolate all day long.

•    Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island, please discuss.
I’m from the UK, so I’m not sure I’m qualified enough to enter a discussion about Rhode Island… But for your entertainment, here are a few of our funniest road names:
Sandy Balls, Hampshire
Scratchy Bottom, Dorset
Crotch Crescent, Oxford
Fanny Hands Lane, Lincolnshire
Cockermouth, Cumbria
Bell End, Worcestershire
The Knob, Northamptonshire
Fanny Avenue, Derbyshire
Butt Hill Road, South Yorkshire
Backside Lane, Oxfordshire

•    How do you feel about pants?
I like plants. Can’t keep them alive for toffee, but I like them. Let’s just put it this way, if we’re comparing casualties between the plants in my house and the characters in my books, the plants take it by a mile.
Now I’ve re-read it, I realise the question was about pants… not plants. I also like pants. We call them trousers this side of the pond, over here pants are underwear.

•    Dogs, cats or ferrets?

•    Mountains or beach?
Mountains. The beach just doesn’t do it for me. I’m quietly confident I’m part vampire.
Dark hair – check.
Pale skin – check.
Burns in the sun – check.
See, part vampire. Not beach compatible.

•    Do you eat supper or dinner?

•    Favorite ice cream?
Mint chocolate chip.

•    Your favorite thing on French fries?

From BOH reader Shannon E.
•    What’s something you want to learn/ get better at?
I’d really love to learn a new language. My brother lives in Japan, so I think that’d be a good one to start with.

•    Is there anything you don't eat?
Brussel sprouts. Bleurgh! When I was little my parents tried to get me to eat them by telling me they were baby cabbages. They. Are. Not. Baby. Cabbages.

•    Know Any Good Jokes?
No. But I like this one: What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot!
Sorry… I’ll let myself out…

•    If you could have a superpower what would it be?
The ability to pause time. Think of how much stuff you could get done if you had all the time in the world. I’d be able to write everything and anything that pops into my head without having to worry about deadlines. Maybe I’d even be able to get through my TBR pile? Probably not, but I’d be able to make a dent in it.

•    What were you like as a child?
Feral. As a child I was feral. Apparently my parents didn’t want to stifle my creativity with discipline (a technique they chose not to adopt with my brother for some reason…), so there are lots of interesting stories about me as a child. Including the fact that I got banned from ballet. Twice.

Thank you so much Elizabeth for stopping in and sharing! 💕 

Be sure to check out her stories or interact with her here: 

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Demons, witches and things that go bump in the night with Elizabeth J. Brown 😱

Elizabeth was born in Kent, England. This probably explains her obsession with tea and cake. She currently writes the Brimstone Chorus ser...