My Personal Creature Of The Night.
By Mark Cassell
The writer takes inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Our brains rarely, if ever, switch off and even in sleep it fuels a work in progress or files something away for a later project. The story I wrote for volume two of the Corpus Press anthology, In Darkness, Delight: Creatures of the Night, was in part inspired by my round-the-world trip in 2008. I knew one day I’d write a story set in Vietnam, particularly the Mekong Delta, and a decade later came “River of Nine Tails.”
The Mekong River flows through a number of countries, beginning in the high plateau of eastern Tibet and running through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and eventually entering the South China Sea via the Delta. Often referred to as ‘a mystic dragon with nine tails’, most Vietnamese use the term ‘Cuu Long’ (the river of nine tails), whereas the Thai languages essentially name it ‘Mae Nam Khong’ or Mother Water. The length of any river is not easy to determine because of the many tributaries of all rivers worldwide, and the Mekong doesn’t quite make the top ten. It is, however, the seventh longest in Asia with an estimated length of 4,350 km (2,703 miles).
My journey along the Mekong Delta caused the smallest of ripples across its surface.
Back in 2008, after a bus ride 75 kilometres south-west of Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as is locally known) my travel buddy and I reached My Tho, the peaceful capital of the Tien Giang Province. The town took a severe pounding during the Vietnam War and we immediately saw the scars. Onboard a smoke-belching boat navigating the canals and backwaters of rural villages, we passed many structures precariously balanced on the river bank. Their wooden supports clawed the shallows as though with broken fingers, some derelict yet most were inhabited. Each displayed a poverty echoing a war that ended 50 years ago.
Fish farms are common, where ‘Tai Tuong’ (literally meaning elephant’s ears), a variety introduced from Indonesia, are kept in their thousands. More than 1,200 species of fish have been identified along the river’s entire span, and it has been suggested there may be as many as 1,700. No other river is home to so many species of large fish. One of which is the impressive Mekong freshwater stingray, which can have a wingspan of just over 4 metres (14 feet), and sadly are in serious decline due to dams, flood control, and over-fishing.
Who knows what else could lurk beneath the surface of the Mekong River? Perhaps there’s an ancient creature nesting in the shallows. A creature of the night? A creature of the depths…
To this day, two things remain with me: the journey in the Mekong Delta, and also later sitting beneath the night’s skywatching fireflies dance.
And this is how half my Creatures of the Night story took shape.
The other half of the story was inspired by my wife, Helen, who was rushed into hospital about the same time I received an invite to the anthology. Sitting vigil at her bedside, I scribbled plot notes and used the story as a vent, to help channel what we were going through… I won’t say much about it, but if you read the published story perhaps you’ll understand.
Please know that Helen recovered in good time, and was later to be the beta-reader of the finished story, “River of Nine Tails.”
Some readers may spot how the story steps away from the supernatural threads of my Shadow Fabric Mythos, and instead leans heavily on the macabre. It is a personal story, and I cannot deny that this particular creature of the night was awakened from my own darkness.
Inspiration comes in many forms.
Mark Cassell lives on the south coast of England with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. His jobs have included a baker, a laboratory technician and a driving instructor, and 2018 saw him act in the horror movie Monster directed by Matt Shaw. As a familiar face on the UK convention scene, Mark sells his books as well as his photographic art, and doesn’t charge for selfies.
Primarily a horror author, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and sci-fi stories have featured in numerous reputable anthologies and zines. His best-selling debut novel The Shadow Fabric is closely followed by the short story collections Sinister Stitches and Terror Threads, all of which are a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit. The novella Hell Cat of the Holt further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and a black cat legend.
The dystopian cyberpunk collection Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers. He’s often alongside these guys at UK conventions, and one of their shoots inspired the creation of his Lovecraftian steampunk horror universe that begins with the novelette In the Company of False Gods.
Mark’s work has been compared with British horror authors such as James Herbert, Clive Barker, Dennis Wheatley, and Brian Lumley. Also, his influences spread over to the US where he admits to having been first inspired by Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, and HP Lovecraft.
For more information on Mark please visit his official website www.markcassell.co.uk
You can follow Mark on Twitter @mark_cassell
In Darkness, Delight: Creatures Of The Night
Predatory eyes flicker in darkness, a legion of abominations seeking human destruction. Slashing claws and gnashing teeth, hungry for flesh, eager to kill.
Clutch onto hope and pray for dawn. Creatures rule the night.
You can buy In Darkness, Delight: Creatures Of The Night from Amazon UK & Amazon US
In Darkness, Delight Anthology Duo from Corpus Press
Volume one of In Darkness, Delight was sub-titled Masters of Midnight and released earlier this year.
But now… the creatures are here. Join us in exploring volume two’s Creatures of the Night.
It’s time to find . . . In Darkness, Delight.
In Darkness, Delight Volume 2: Creatures of the Night is available now!
In Darkness, Delight is an original anthology series revealing the many faces of modern horror— shocking and quiet, pulp and literary, cold-hearted and heart-felt, weird tales of spiraling madness alongside full-throttle thrillers. Open these pages and unleash all-new terrors that consume from without and within.
The concept for the new horror anthology line was co-developed by executive editor Evans Light and managing editor Andrew Lennon, with assistance from Corpus Press editors (and Bad Apples series alumni) Adam Light, Jason Parent, and Gregor Xane. The eye-catching cover was created by artist Mikio Murakami, and the attractive interior layout for all editions was designed by Lori Michelle of The Author’s Alley. Publicity is being handled by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book.
About Corpus Press –
Corpus Press is a publisher of horror and weird fiction, specializing in modern pulp that emphasizes plot over gore. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the press has garnered praise from SCREAM Magazine, Cemetery Dance, Horror Novel Reviews, Hellnotes and others for its Bad Apples: Slices of Halloween Horror series, the anthology Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love, and for its short story collections and novellas.
Follow Corpus Press for news on the In Darkness, Delight anthology series and much more:
About the Authors of In Darkness, Delight: Creatures of the Night –
MARK CASSELL lives on the south coast of England with his wife and a number of animals, and is the author of the bestselling supernatural novel The Shadow Fabric. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and sci-fi stories have featured in many reputable anthologies. His jobs have included baker, laboratory technician, driving instructor, and actor. As a familiar face on the UK convention scene, Mark sells his books as well as his photographic art. For more about his work, please visit www.markcassell.co.uk.
RICHARD CHIZMAR is the author of Gwendy’s Button Box (with Stephen King) and A Long December, which was nominated for numerous awards. His fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and multiple editions of The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won two World Fantasy awards, four International Horror Guild awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustee’s award. His third short story collection, A Long December, was recently published to starred reviews in both Kirkus and Booklist, and was featured in Entertainment Weekly. Chizmar has appeared at numerous conferences as a writing instructor, guest speaker, panelist, and guest of honor. Please visit the author’s website at RichardChizmar.com.
TIM CURRAN is the author of the novels Skin Medicine, Hive, Dead Sea, Resurrection, Hag Night, Skull Moon, The Devil Next Door, Clownflesh, and Biohazard. His short stories have been collected in Bone Marrow Stew and Zombie Pulp. His novellas include The Underdwelling, The Corpse King, Puppet Graveyard, Worm, and Terror Cell. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as, Splatterpunks, Book of Dark Wisdom, and Inhuman, as well as anthologies such as Ride the Star Wind, Eulogies III, and October Dreams II. His fiction has been translated into German, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, and Italian. You can find him on Facebook.
RAY GARTON is the author of the classic vampire bestseller Live Girls, as well as Scissors, Sex and Violence in Hollywood, Ravenous, and dozens of other novels, novellas, tie-ins, and story collections. He has been writing in the horror and suspense genres for more than 30 years and was the recipient of the Grand Master of Horror Award in 2006. He lives in northern California with his wife Dawn where he is at work on a new novel.
EDDIE GENEROUS is the author of several books, including Radio Run, Great Big Teeth, Camp Summit, Trouble at Camp Still Waters, and more. He is the founder/editor/publisher/artist behind Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine, and the host of the Unnerving Podcast. He lives on the Pacific Coast of Canada with his wife and their cat overlords.
KEV HARRISON is a British author of horror and dark fiction living in Lisbon, Portugal. His folk horror novelette, Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See is available now from Demain Publishing, while his work has also appeared in the acclaimed Lost Films anthology from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing among others. His debut novella, The Balance, will be released in 2019 by Lycan Valley Press. You can find out more at www.KevHarrisonFiction.com.
CURTIS M. LAWSON is an author of unapologetically weird and transgressive fiction, dark poetry, and graphic novels. His work ranges from technicolor pulp adventures to bleak cosmic horror and includes Those Who Go Forth into the Empty Place of Gods, Black Pantheons, and It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World. Curtis lives in Salem, MA where he hosts the Wyrd Live Horror reading series.
ANDREW LENNON is the author of Every Twisted Thought and other books in the horror and thriller genres. He has been featured in various bestselling anthologies, and is becoming a recognized name in the horror and thriller writing community. Andrew is a happily married man living in the North West of England with his wife Hazel & their children.
ADAM LIGHT resides in northeast Florida with his beautiful wife and daughter, and their two dogs, Walker and Aspen. He haunts a cubicle by day, writes horror stories at night, and rarely sleeps. Toes Up: Horror to Die For is his debut collection of short horror and weird fiction, and his work has been featured in Doorbells at Dusk, Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love and the popular Bad Apples Halloween anthology series.
EVANS LIGHT is a writer of horror and suspense, and is the author of Screamscapes: Tales of Terror, Arboreatum, Don’t Need No Water and more. He is editor of the well-received Doorbells at Dusk anthology, and is co-creator of the Bad Apples Halloween anthology series and Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, surrounded by thousands of vintage horror paperbacks, and is the proud father of fine sons and the lucky husband of a beautiful wife.
CHAD LUTZKE has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. He’s had a few dozen stories published, and some of his books include: Of Foster Homes & Flies, Wallflower, Stirring the Sheets, Skullface Boy, The Same Deep Water as You, The Neon Owl and Out Behind the Barn (co-written with John Boden). Lutzke’s work has been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, Stephen Graham Jones, James Newman, Cemetery Dance, and his own mother. He can be found lurking the internet at www.chadlutzke.com.
JOSH MALERMAN is the New York Times Best Selling author of Bird Box, Unbury Carol, Inspection, and A House at the Bottom of a Lake. He’s also one of two singer/songwriters for the Detroit band The High Strung, whose song “The Luck You Got” can be heard as the theme song for the Showtime show “Shameless.”
MASON MORGAN was born and will die in Texas. Currently, he is an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association and is at work on his debut collection. Previously, he has been published in Deadlights Magazine, Two Hawks Quarterly, and served as the opinion editor for his alma mater, Texas A&M University. He, too, once feared the toilet.
CHRISTOPHER MOTZ was born in 1980 and lives in small-town Pennsylvania with his wife and step-daughter. He’s an avid music fan, collector of classic vinyl, and musician. Since 2016, he has released six novels and two novellas as well as having several of his short stories appear in horror anthologies.
FRANK ORETO is an editor and writer of weird fiction living in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. When not writing new stories, he spends his time cooking up elaborate meals for his wife and perpetually hungry children. You can follow his exploits both literary and culinary on Twitter @FrankOreto.
GLENN ROLFE is an author from the haunted woods of New England. He studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Brian Keene, Ronald Malfi, and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness. He is the author of The Window, Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear, and the forthcoming works, Follow Me Down and Until Summer Comes Around.
KRISTOPHER RUFTY lives in North Carolina with his three children and pets. He’s written numerous books, including Anathema, The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, The Skin Show, Pillowface, and more. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
MARY SANGIOVANNI is an award-winning American horror and thriller writer of over a dozen novels, including The Hollower trilogy, Thrall, Chaos, The Kathy Ryan series and others, as well as numerous novellas, short stories and non-fiction. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, and is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers and Penn Writers. She is a co-host on the popular podcast The Horror Show with Brian Keene, and hosts her own podcast, Cosmic Shenanigans. She offers talks and workshops on writing around the country. Born and raised in New Jersey, she currently resides in Pennsylvania.
JEFF STRAND is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of over 40 books, including Pressure, Dweller, My Pretties, and Sick House. He’s primarily known for mixing horror with humor, though he also writes non-humorous horror and non-horrific humor. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and you can visit his website at www.JeffStrand.com.
MIKAL TRIMM has sold over 50 short stories and 100 poems to numerous venues including Postscripts, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Admittedly, it took a lot of blackmail.
GREGOR XANE is the author of Six Dead Spots, Taboogasm, The Hanover Block, and the forthcoming Brides of Hanover Block. His work has been featured in Stupefying Stories, Dead Roses, Doorbells at Dusk, and the popular Halloween anthology series, Bad Apples. He lives inside a suburban home in southwestern Ohio, and he’s never seen his neighbors.
Gavin, thanks so much for featuring here. I appreciate it.