Thursday, May 3, 2012

Darkness Calls, A Selection of Short Stories by Andy Hill: Interview & Excerpt


"Darkness Calls - Volume One" is the first in a series of four short story collections. Comprising themes of fear, madness, isolation, violence and the supernatural, "Darkness Calls" builds into a chilling collection of modern horror works.

In volume opener "Dark Rain", a mysterious storm brings about a terrifying change in the residents of a sleepy country village. Taking cues from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, "The Patio" is a dream-like journey into a mysterious world... and the horrific revelation it contains. "An Open Letter..." is a short but powerful, thought-provoking piece of prose; a pointless cry to an ignorant society.

The oldest story in this collection, the violent "Face Value" presents a shocking tale of revenge from beyond the grave. A dystopian future provides a terrifying backdrop to the symobolic existence of five leviathans: the forgotten, the needing, the homeless, the corporation, and Death in "Fallen Angel". The final story in the volume, "Trapped", takes us into the claustrophobic hell of a mother and daughter, imprisoned in their overturned vehicle along an isolated highway.

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Below is an excerpt from Trapped, the most recently written story in Darkness Calls Volume One. It is one of my favorite stories on two counts: it was a delicious challenge deciding how to present the main characters, and it is the story that re-ignited my passion for creative writing after the pursuit of a ‘regular career’ had stifled it!

Trapped by Andy Hill (Excerpt from Darkness Calls Volume One)

So, this was how it was going to end.

She reached past her own face, watching the dark, blurred outline of her hand intently as she did so, and touched her fingers gently to the pulsing ache above her right eyebrow. Wincing, she withdrew her fingers rapidly and inspected them to find what she already knew she would; the black crust of blood shimmered delicately in the early morning haze.

Light was starting to diminish the all-engulfing blackness that had filled the cab of the overturned pick-up and she assumed it must be around 4am. She had always refused to wear a watch, not wanting to be governed by something as entirely inflexible as time; now, more than ever before, she was glad that she didn’t. This was the kind of situation in which, had she been able to tell the time, it would have depressed her more than anything else as she waited for someone to find her.

She looked across to her daughter who lay on the velour lining of the interior roof of the cab, managing to define her shape against the relative lightness of the fabric for the first time since the truck had flipped onto its side and skidded down the embankment. It had rolled onto its roof as it travelled, the leaf-strewn grass providing no friction to slow the vehicles descent, before come to rest firmly wedged between two trees. It was these trees, she now discovered in that grey morning light, that had foiled her initial efforts to get the doors of the pick-up to open shortly after the accident. The nose of the truck was suspended not more than three inches from the muddy ground in front of the windscreen which had, surprisingly, survived the impact despite the actual roof of the cab having been flattened slightly and pushed towards the butt of the truck. This reduction in angle between nose and cab had resulted in a gap, she estimated, of maybe six inches at either side of the hood between the body of the pick-up and the earth of the forest floor. The cab itself had no rear glass. They were trapped; prisoners in the wreckage that she, herself, had created. Both subject only to the inevitable passing of time and positioned firmly in the palm of fate as they awaited rescue.

She forced thoughts of not being found from her head, trying to wash her mind clean from the mental image that she had formed of what the scene must look like from the outside. In her version, she and her daughter were dead inside that now rusting hulk of steel, emaciated, eyes milky grey with decay. She shook her head as if to shake out the pictures and the pain from her head wound lanced through her body once again. She sat, cross-legged on the roof lining of the cab. After they had come to a stop she had found herself suspended like some discarded and forgotten marionette doll, hanging almost entirely upside down from the driver’s seat and held there only by her seatbelt. Struggling to manoeuvre her body into a position where she wouldn’t cause herself further injury during her descent, she had pushed the release button and dropped firmly onto the bristly roof lining. She assumed that she must have blacked out for a time after the crash as her daughter was already out of her belt and sitting in the corner of the cab with her legs out in front of her. Her daughter hadn’t answered her calls but she could feel her little black buckle shoes and worked her way up from there; wool tights, crimpled argyle-pattern skirt with the white frill hem, the zip of her nylon jacket. Resting her hand on her daughter’s stomach, she sensed movement – breathing - and she let out the sigh of relief that only a Mother knew.

As the cloying darkness within the cab continued to slowly abate, disappearing into the dawn like a startled animal, she noticed that her daughter’s head had lolled to one side; it was pulling her body over at a strange angle. She could hear the gentle sound of her child’s sleeping breath, hoarsened slightly no doubt by the angle at which her head lay. Reaching out toward the legs of her child once again, she touched them gently, they were cold. Worrying about the potential of her daughter going into shock and the terrible after-effects that could have on her, she considered trying to wake her from her slumber; but what good would that really do for either of them? Perhaps sleep was the best thing for her daughter right now; anything to pass the time while they waited. If she had a jacket in the cab, a jumper or a blanket, anything that she could have used to cover her poor, cold daughter, she would have done. There was nothing, she knew it. On an Autumnal night like the one most recently passed, there was no need for people to carry winter clothing or emergency supplies with them on their journeys.

She would have gone to her daughter and held her, tried to pass some of what little remaining warmth she had in her body across to her; but she knew that she couldn’t. Her legs were crossed in front of her because that was the position that she had landed in, she knew that they were broken – the initial shooting pain had told her that much – and having dragged herself into a hunched, seated position, leaning back against the support pillar of the truck’s side window, gritting her teeth together to prevent from screaming out the pain that filled her core, she could move no more. They were together and they were close, yet they may as well have been in separate countries.

She closed her eyes, resting the back of her head uncomfortably against the lining of the truck’s door. Feeling the coolness of the first sheen of early morning dew forming on the smooth vinyl, a droplet of water fell silently onto the nape of her neck. The simple shock of cold against the top of her spine caused a shiver to course through her body. She noticed for the first time that her breath was gently fogging in front of her face. Closing her eyes against the situation, she moved her head back against the door and tried to sleep.

Tell us about your current release.

Darkness Calls is a series of four short horror / dark fiction story collections. Volume One is, rather obviously, the first book in the series and was released in March 2012.

Darkness Calls Volume One contains five short stories and one piece of prose, totaling around 13,000 words. The majority of works in the collection are old stories with one new piece entitled Trapped. I decided to go along the indie route and self-publish so that I could be in full control of the marketing and distribution of the book. Following this path also allowed me to serialize Darkness Calls, therefore introducing people to my writing gradually and at a price point that could make the prospect of taking a chance on my work more appealing.

Over the coming few months, the remaining three volumes will be released and this will be followed by a print-on-demand book and e-book comprising all four volumes combined into a complete collection. Needless to say, I’m very excited to finally release some of my work out into the wild!

Who is your favorite author?

Now that’s a tricky one! Throughout my reading life, Stephen King has naturally been an almost constant companion. I’m also a huge fan of John Connolly’s writing; the supernatural elements that he weaves throughout his novels never fail to grip me. The Book of Lost Things is a stunning piece of dark fantasy in my opinion, and The Gates is probably the funniest book that I have ever read. I love that kind of adaptability in an author’s writing.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

Unfortunately my wife isn’t the biggest fan of horror books or movies. While she is always interested in what I’m doing, I just don’t feel comfortable subjecting her to the kind of stories that I write! To be fair to her, she does always ask to read what I’ve done and maybe one day I’ll let her. Whether we’ll remain married for long afterwards is another matter entirely.

How do you describe your writing style?

Dark as the night! It’s quite bleak to be honest with you. Then again, if I chose to write about flowers and dancing bunnies then I would hardly be classed as a horror author. I like to make my readers think; I don’t want to provide all of the answers. I don’t really think that my style is particularly reminiscent of any one other author; I like to feel that I have a quite unique voice in my writing.

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was actually quite young when I first decided that I truly wanted to become a writer. I remember being bought a really old typewriter by my parents when I was around nine or ten years old. It was a strange old beast, temperamental to a fault and some of the keys would stick, but it had an intoxicating smell and I absolutely loved it! I wrote loads of little stories, mostly unfinished as I would give up in frustration with the typewriter after around half a page. Sitting there listening to the click-clack of the keys always made me think of the introductory sequence to Murder, She Wrote for some odd reason!

My handwriting is generally terrible so I’ve never been taken with handwritten stories, although I do always jot down my synopses and plot plans in a little notepad that I carry around with me. When we got our first home computer, I was just completely blown away! From that moment on, I was almost permanently fixed to the computer screen, some plotline or other running through my head. With the exception of Trapped, all of the stories that I’ve included in Darkness Calls - Volume One are rewritten versions of stories that I had created over the past 18 years. Doing this gave me the opportunity to revisit my early work and update it for inclusion in the first part of the series; it also meant that these tales that I had been so proud of at the time would finally get the attention that I always felt they deserved!

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

On my website I’ve always tried to make it clear that I welcome all forms of feedback. I think it’s very important for an author to take on board the thoughts and feelings of the people that have read their work. Jumping on a soapbox or getting hopelessly protective of your stories is a one-way ticket to stagnation; I’m sure that we’ve all seen it from time to time. As an author, if you can’t accept that not everyone is going to like what you’ve produced, then you have no hope of growing as an artist.

Entice us, what future projects are you considering?

As I mentioned earlier, the Darkness Calls series consists of four books so they are an ongoing concern. In fact, by the time this interview is published, Volume Two should either be available of very close to release.

I love the concept of introducing themes, characters and situation in my short stories before expanding upon them for full-length works so readers should be able to relate some of my future output to certain stories in the Darkness Calls series.

Alongside my short stories, I’m currently working on my first full-length fiction work. It’s tentatively entitled Don’t Tell Tales and it’s a good old fashioned ghost story with a nice mystery feel to it. I’m really pleased with how it’s shaping up and looking forward to releasing it before the end of this year.

Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?

Well I certainly hope not, there aren’t many particularly nice people in any of my stories! Having said that, there is one character to whom the readers of Volume One have not yet been introduced. Carl Maddern is the lead character in Don’t Tell Tales and he also features in the novella Maddern Investigations, which will be spread across Darkness Calls - Volume Two and Volume Three.

Carl is a paranormal investigator and he has intrigued me ever since I first created him for Don’t Tell Tales. I felt that including a novella as part of the Darkness Calls series was a fantastic opportunity to introduce him properly before the main novel is released. Doing this also allowed me to look into his character even more, which has helped with the development of Don’t Tell Tales. He’s probably the character that I relate to most of all; he’s easy-going and funny but takes his work very seriously. I like him a lot and hope that my readers do as well.


Andy Hill was born in Scotland in 1978 but moved to the South-West of England at the age of six. Devouring books by such horror greats as Stephen King, James Herbert and Shaun Hutson throughout his teenage years, he first discovered a talent for creating horror fiction shortly before turning 15.
Since then, Andy has honed his skills by writing on a variety of subjects but always felt drawn back to his love of the macabre. Generally considered a perfectionist, he has only recently produced the first piece of work that he deems suitable for public viewing - and even then only after reading, re-reading, editing, tweaking and formatting for almost a month.
"Darkness Calls: A Collection of Short Stories" is a serialized horror story collection delving into themes of madness, loss, violence and the supernatural. The first volume in this series consists of tales that were selected by the author from his large pile of previous works plus one new piece, entitled "Trapped". Future volumes will consist of entirely new works and he guarantees that there will not be an 18 year gap before the release of Volume Two!
"Darkness Calls: A Collection of Short Stories - Volume One" is available now, exclusively as a download from Amazon. Volume Two is currently being written and is scheduled for release in May 2012.

Author Website:

Twitter: Twitter / Andy Hill Books


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