Short Sharp Shocks! #18
Alyson Faye: Night Of The Rider
Reviewed By Stred Stred
I had the pleasure of recently reading Alyson Faye’s ‘Christmas Terrors: A Mini Collection of Dark Fiction’ and was absolutely blown away. I loved it so much I quickly snagged her release ‘Trio of Terror – Supernatural Tales’ and this one – which is Book 18 in Demain’s fantastic Short Sharp Shocks! series.
KR: You can read the Kendall Review for Christmas Terrors: A Mini Collection of Dark Fiction HERE
I simply couldn’t wait, so I read this one last night and wow, does Faye deliver again. She’s quickly wormed her way into a must-read author for me.
This is a dark fantasy with horror on the fringes. I don’t read much fantasy, really only sticking to George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss, but this has no problem sitting beside those two literary giants.
We follow Barnabas, a man rushing home after racking up gambling debts and then running afoul of a hunch back. He soon realizes he is being chased by the mythical Rider, out to serve justice.
What I really loved about this story was that in a short page count we get a stunning story, but also a fantastic look at the back story of the Rider. Usually, when something is this short the author will frequently leave the background details a mystery of the antagonist or monster (heavens knows I’ve done this!), but Faye tackles it full on and because of that we get a substantially deeper, richer experience.
The ending of this is superb. It wraps things up and really drives everything to a wonderfully brutal conclusion.
I’m so glad to have discovered Faye’s writing, and I can’t wait to dive into her ‘Trio of Terror’ release. She is able to weave in so much emotion, all wrapped in a super dark package.
Just really blown away and I absolutely can’t recommend her works enough.
Night Of The Rider
No one escapes the mythic cursed Rider and his hounds. Barnabas, fleeing London and his gambling debts, takes refuge in his family’s country home with his father and his sister, Leonie. She has her own secrets, but can she save her brother from certain death?
Alyson Faye Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 2nd May 2019 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Alyson to the Demain family. Night Of The Rider – what’s it all about?
ALYSON FAYE: Thank you. I began writing it on a residential in a Castle in Yorkshire in a huge Victorian library- so that helped my mood. I do enjoy writing Victorian Gothic stories, but this time I had the idea of combining it with a magical element, the cursed, once human Rider. I wanted to contrast the real world of Victorian London’s seedy underbelly, with life in the family’s country mansion where the myth of the Rider casts a long shadow.
DP: Sounds like the castle/library provided great inspiration then. Being that your story is ‘historical’ (so to speak) what were the challenges you faced when writing it?
AF: One challenge was, I realised, as I went along that I wanted to make the Rider sympathetic, not a true baddy, so I wrote in his tragic back story. I also wanted Barnabas to remain likeable but misguided. I wanted his sister, Leonie, to be a feisty, strong female with her own inner life and not just there to faint and look pretty. I think I succeeded. In fact Leonie’s role grew as the father’s role decreased.
DP: I agree, you did succeed. I was intrigued by the Rider’s back story and wanted to know more. For some reason he reminded me of the Night King in Game Of Thrones…but of course, that could just be me…are any events in the story based on your own life?
AF: There are two things in the story which I took from real life. Milner House, where Barnabas flees home, was once a real mansion in the woods over the road from where I live. It’s now in ruins. The rich and famous family of local mill owner Titus Salt (who founded Saltaire village, an English Heritage site) built it in the late nineteenth century. The young puppy who ventures to cuddle up to the Rider, and sleeps beside him is based on my own rescue dog, a Labrador cross, called Roxy.
DP: Oh I love that idea…we’ll have to arrange guided tours to the mansion…that’s really cool…okay, so for those readers who are not yet familiar with your work (but soon will be I’m sure!) – does Alyson Faye have a particular writing style?
AF: Depending on the genre of the story I am writing i.e. crime/horror/humour, from that develops the language I use, and the style. For this story I deliberately used formal even archaic words to help set the period and the feel. I structure the dialogue of the characters to stay in synch. The trick is being consistent and not slipping into modern slang.
DP: Yes – it’s quite hard when you write period stuff isn’t it – you have to be so careful with the words/phrases etc. When Romain and I wrote our screenplay about Napoleon’s son we were very conscious of this – there were a few words we wanted to use but they hadn’t been invented yet! Quite challenging…which authors (or books) influences you…
AF: For this story, definitely Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, and Penelope Lively’s time-slip novels. In my head I had Pre-Raphaelite art in mind when I was thinking about Leonie and the Rider. I am lucky enough to have a trio of female writers, crime and horror, I consider friends and mentors:- Ali Harper, Deborah Sheldon and Stephanie Ellis. All three have helped me immeasurably on my writing journey. Currently I am hugely enjoying the novels of Jennifer McMahon who balances different time periods, creates in-depth characters you care about, writing chilling supernatural mysteries you could step inside and inhabit.
DP: Ah, some great names there and of course here at Demain we are aware of Stephanie and her work! Can you tell us about the future…what are you working on at the moment?
AF: Current projects – some are hot and current and some are on the back burner. I have a new Gothic short story, When Dead Eyes Sleep finished and a crime novella set in post-war Britain on the go and a time slip Y.A. novel with supernatural overtones set in the town where I live.
DP: Crime thriller – great – you might be interested in Demain’s new strand – Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! Coming very soon…working in the different genres as you do, do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
AF: Yes, there have been times when I write very little or stop, but the desire always comes back and I start up again. I have taught creative writing workshops so I have techniques and prompts to start myself writing again too.
DP: So you write an outline before (and perhaps during) you start?
AF: Some stories grow in my head, and come out on the page, others I need to make notes. For the longer works, I keep a chapter guide so I remember where I began and where I am going.
DP: That’s good advice…do you think you will continue writing horror/history stories?
AF: I enjoy writing horror hugely, and I am drawn to the Victorian period repeatedly. I’ve read a lot about the period and enjoy the research side, probably this goes back to my roots: doing a History degree and teaching. In this story I found I could mix magic and reality in a way I’ve not done much before.
DP: I’m a film producer, pitch me Night Of The Rider please.
AF: The Rider, cursed by darke magicke hunts for eternity. A debauched young man Barnabas, becomes his prey. When there is nowhere to run to, who will help you?
DP: And finally, can you tell us something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
AF: I share the same birthday with my long time idol Cary Grant!
DP: Well that’s really cool – we recently found out that I and Adrian (cover artists extraordinaire) also share the same birthday. Spooky.
You can find out more about Alyson via her blog www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.
Alyson’s Amazon Author Page is at HERE
Please follow Alyson on Twitter @AlysonFaye2
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here