Saturday, 23 January 2021

Murder and Machinery - Cogs in Motion

Mechanical Madness and Technological Terror!

Join Black Beacon Books as we celebrate the launch of "Murder and Machinery", an anthology of horror, suspense, sci-fi, and steampunk all about - you guessed it! - murder and machinery. There'll be interviews, chats, competitions, and sneak peeks galore! 
KINDLE PRE-ORDER DISCOUNT: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RXXBKMW/
Kindle pre-order for $2.99 USD (returning to RRP $3.99 after publication)
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The anthology will be available wherever good books are sold after the release date. If you have a favourite local bookshop, please consider ordering through them. Orders can also be placed via our online shop.



Lock the doors and switch the power off at the mains!
Tales of deadly machinery have long fascinated us, from Edgar Allan Poe’s classic pendulum to the Terminator films.
Murder and Machinery pays homage to this tradition, offering you gripping tales following this theme but set in different times and places, from colonial America and London during the First World War to dystopian futures on this planet and beyond. Never before has an anthology brought tales of science fiction and suspense together in such a terrifying way, showcasing the nightmarish imagination of authors who know how to play on the reader’s fears and who share those fears of uncontrollable machines, or perhaps even more frightening, of fellow humans mastering technology for their own evil purposes. A word of advice before you start. By all means, settle down in your living room and let this anthology of technological terror and mechanical madness enthral you, but first, you might want to lock your doors and switch the power off at the mains. Best keep it low-tech tonight. Trust me. I hope you have candles?
★ Crime   ★ Sci-fi / Steampunk   ★ Horror   ★ Suspense   ★ Historical

Thursday, 17 December 2020

The Problem of the Snowbound Shack - Sneak Peek

As 2020 draws to a close (what a year!) and we look back on what we've read, published...achieved, despite all the landmines laid in our path by this global annus horribilis, which is Latin for either "horrible year" or "horrific anus", we cast our minds back to the launch of our 5-star anthology (just check the reviews!) of armchair mysteries, PI investigations, and noir escapades. Yes, 2020 gave the world "The Black Beacon Book of Mystery", and let's make sure 2021 spreads (hmmm, poor choice of word?) it far and wide, ensuring it lands on the bookshelf or in the e-reader of every mystery fan! Ambitious? Well, yes...unashamedly so! Here's a sneak peek for you...   


The Problem of the Snowbound Shack

Jon Matthew Farber


Jason Hawthorne sighed contentedly as he savoured his double malt, looked across at his guest, and said, ‘I suppose you want to hear about some of the “impossible” crimes I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with, and been lucky enough to solve. Well, I guess the beginning’s as good a place to start as any.’                                                       

   My earliest such case also happened to be the first one where I was given the chance to take the lead. I still don’t know whether it was because my captain was worried because he thought it might never be closed, or if he was trying to teach me some humility with an impossible problem. Looking back at my early career, I agree I was quite cocky, and this would’ve been a good lesson for me, had I indeed failed. Either way, I was in charge. Let me set the background for you.

It was 1965 and I was almost one year out of training, but already moving up fast, having been promoted to Trooper First Class. My Captain was Leo Ark. I was based out of Upper Clifton, the capitol seat in a rural county. This was a quintessential small New England town with a strong sense of community, where most everybody knew everyone else. As such, I already had a good sense of the locals.

The murder I’m going to tell you about took place around three weeks after the annual Winterfest. This was the major social event of the season, with pretty much the entire county turning out. One highlight was our local genius, Thomas A. Edison, who demonstrated his latest invention. Don’t laugh, that was his real name, only the A stood for Alan. He even owned several patents, and this time he showed off his “flying saucer”, a two-foot-in-diameter metal contraption that used compressed air to skim above a surface. In retrospect, this was a precursor to what would now be called a true hoverboard, and may have led to something big, except that Edison lacked the 99% perspiration that his namesake had, so that most of his projects were never completed. The saucer actually travelled several feet on a couple of different runs.

In the talent portion of the festival, our librarian, Miss Ives, won the baking contest for her lemon chiffon pie—her cooking was to die for—while in target shooting, William Monroe, the mill foreman, needed his perfect score to just beat out Thomas Farley, our local carpenter, and Barney Snow, the hunting guide, in a tense match. In the artistic competitions, the widow, Mrs. Holt, won for her quilt depicting the local flora and fauna, while Mr. Farley got his moment to shine in the collectibles category for his 1894 Smith and Wesson 38 5-chamber double-action model 4 revolver, a piece that was beautifully restored and faithfully cared for, while second place went to Richard Simpson’s Pre-war Lionel Model Train 413 Colorado Passenger Car Model.

Anyway, around three weeks later I was in police headquarters when a call came in one morning from Michael Swift. It seems he was supposed to meet Monroe, having spoken with him the previous night around 10 pm, but he hadn’t showed. As things were quiet, the captain, our newest recruit, Larry Whitman, and myself piled into our 1964 Chevy Biscayne and headed over. This was a hard-driving full-size car, known for having two taillights on each side, and the choice at the time of many police departments throughout the country. The department had sprung for the more powerful V8 engine.

Monroe lived in a one-room (plus bathroom) shack in a clearing, perhaps a hundred yards in diameter, in the local woods. When we arrived, the ground was covered by around three inches of snow that had fallen until late yesterday afternoon. The weather was a little warmer than the frequent well-below freezing, so the snow was still powdery, and the absence of any significant breeze meant there were no drifts. The driveway was unspoiled, and the path to the front door was smooth and undisturbed.

    We padded up to the door and knocked, but there was no answer. The cabin had many knotholes in it, stuffed with cloth, so I pulled the cloth from one to the right of the door and looked inside. Monroe lay directly in front of me, sprawled out on the ground beside the bed, by the entrance to the bathroom... 





Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Our Purveyors of Mechanical Madness

Introducing our purveyors of technological terror and mechanical madness. This epic anthology will have you breaking out in a cold sweat whenever you go to press a button or flip a switch! "Murder and Machinery" is set to be 2021's finest mechanical mashup of horror and science fiction, with a soup├žon of suspense, ranging from dystopian nightmares and steampunk romps to suburban drama and government conspiracies!

For updates, don't forget to join our mailing list by entering your email address (on the sidebar) or liking us on social media: Facebook and Twitter



Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Small Press: The Ups and Downs

This year has been a tough one for small press, as it has been for most industries, and the sailing probably isn't going to get any smoother in the near future. A number of small presses have gone under and I thought I really ought to write a blog post outlining the strategy and aim in place here at Black Beacon Books. Like most small publishers nowadays, Black Beacon Books is a labour of love. It is not a full-time job, and no matter how much I wish it were, it almost certainly never will be. You have to chase your dreams, but you also have to keep your feet on the ground...not simple!

The strategy behind Black Beacon Books has been, and will continue to be, one of slow and measured growth. This is why we currently only release one title every year or two. When quality matters to you (and anyone who has read our books knows it does), the process of releasing a book takes time. But the biggest constraint is money. If we had more to invest (a lot more!), we'd be able to pay professional rates and fund broad-reaching marketing campaigns. In the meantime, we offer token rates and rely on word-of-mouth, social media, and reviews. We've also set up a Patreon page, which we use as a subscription service, not for crowdfunding (meaning the monthly fee covers the benefits provided). The disadvantage of this conservative approach is that we're not making a name for ourselves as quickly as many other small publishers who use personal savings to fund projects. This means lower sales due to lower exposure. The advantage is that there is almost no risk of being forced to shut down because debts can't be paid. And it's that stability, along with the artistic freedom it allows, that is probably our greatest strength. The frequency of publishing books can speed up or slow down as a result of fluctuating sales, but we can keep plugging along through the tougher times.

You may be asking why I'm writing this post. Well, I suppose it's to reassure you that Black Beacon Books plans on keeping at it, publishing quality mystery, suspense, and horror fiction that makes us proud, first and foremost, and that we're confident you'll enjoy, as a natural consequence. This adventure is, of course, a team effort. We need you to chip in. We need you to write amazing stories for us, to spread the word about us, but above all, way up there in the clouds, the absolute number one thing is to buy our books. Making sales is the only way for us to truly grow as a publisher. In a way, when you buy one of our books, you're not only getting your money's worth in reading entertainment from that title, but you're also investing in an even better book for a similar price next time. That is what it boils down to! That's the kind of "social contract" (for the philosophers out there) we want you to figuratively sign with us. 

So, there you go. I hope that reassures you. It certainly feels reassuring from this end to write this little post, and to put it out there as a clear statement. Black Beacon Books is here to stay! We have countless great stories to tell you, from yesterday, today, and more are coming tomorrow. Get reading!

Founding editor, Cameron Trost     

Saturday, 6 June 2020

An Interview with David Tallerman

To celebrate the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Honestly, things could be worse. As a full-time writer with far too many projects on the boil, it's shocking how little about my daily routine has changed. If anything, it's made me appreciate that bit more how much worse my circumstances could be.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery?

It's a long time since I wrote it, so my memory's fuzzy, but I recall that I was thinking about perfect crimes and how somebody might actually go about getting away with murder.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Probably not a literary pilgrimage as such, but I'm lucky enough to live in the same city and to be friends with one of my favourite authors, Adrian Tchaikovsky; does popping around to your mate's house to play board games count as pilgrimaging? If not, then I once went a bit farther out of my way to interview the marvellous Joanne Harris, which was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story?

For me, it's that balance of giving the reader enough information that they don't feel like the wool's being pulled over their eyes, while still obfuscating the twists and turns enough that they come as a satisfying surprise.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

I'm a big fan of Dashiell Hammett and Film Noir, so I'd have to go with Sam Spade. Admittedly he's probably not that much cop as a detective, but when you're played by Humphrey Bogart, you don't need to be.

Tell us about a real mystery you have solved or would like to?

It's not a mystery as such, since it's well known who the main perpetrators were, but a current project I'm working on and which hopefully will be announced quite soon is a fictitious account of a famous bank robbery from around a century ago. While I haven't been solving anything as such, it's been a heck of a challenge attempting to get into the heads of long-dead historical figures and to understand the whys and wherefores of what they did.

What are you writing now?

As I write this, I'm mostly wrapping up the fourth in my Black River Chronicles series of fantasy novels, Graduate or Die, as well as a science-fiction horror novella called Graveyard of Titans, both of which should be out around the time of this anthology.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

I'm on Twitter and Facebook, and my website, www.davidtallerman.co.uk, has tons of information about my various projects, as well as a link to my blog.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

An Interview with M. H. Norris

In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Like anyone, I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad days. I’m actually still working so things haven’t changed a whole lot for me at this point.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired
you to write this mystery?

There are two things that man has always done: told stories and committed crimes. They will continue to do so. It’s not unreasonable to think that people combine the two. Back around 2014, I was approached with the idea of doing an anthology. But I needed a concept! I have a love of urban myths and legends but I was also at the beginning of my mystery writing career. I had the idea to combine the two. What if a forensic anthropologist was confronted with cases drawing from myth. After wandering CreepyPasta, I found the Midnight Game. As it’s internet fauxlore pretending to be a genuine Celtic myth, it looked perfect. “Midnight” was born. When a group of high schoolers are found murdered, Dr. Rosella Tassoni is called in when hints of a ritual are found at the crime scene. This sets Rosella off an adventure that will change her life forever. It is also the start of a new series featuring more stories where myth and murder meet.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

When I was writing my first book, I got to sit in on a police training course. It was interesting to learn what they learn. I did an article about it as part of my senior portfolio and things I learned that day still slide into how my characters act in certain situations. What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story? Compelling characters, first and foremost. People come to your story for the premise, but unless you have a good character they may not stay very long. Suspects. The goal of any writer is to have people guessing until the very end. How often do you hear someone complain about a mystery, because they saw right through it? Motive. Sometimes the why leads you to the who. Methodology: This can be fun to make up. Also, if you’re writing a serial killer, technically the details really matter. I read the study the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit did on serial crimes and it was a fascinating read. Lastly, lots of research. I’ve accumulated so much over the years, and you’ll often find me reading various books on related subjects (especially on forensics!) or reading articles.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

I’m giving two answers here.
1. The Vinyl Detective - the lead character of Andrew Cartmel’s “Vinyl Detective” series. He’s not the most traditional crime solver but Cartmel does such a good job at marrying his love of vinyl with intriguing music themed mysteries.
2. Shawn Spencer - while I write a lot darker than most anything Psych gave us, it has always had a huge influence on how I write mysteries.

Tell us about a real mystery you have solved or would like to?

Confession time, I’m a bit scatterbrained. Most often the real life mysteries I solve is where did I sit something that I had earlier in the day. Or, worst case scenario, where did I put that piece of paper with that vital clue?

What are you writing now?

I tend to have a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets at any given time. Right now, I’m working on my contribution to Altrix Book’s Chonosmith Chronicles. I’ll be writing a story set in the 1940s-1950s and it is unlike anything I’ve written before. I’m also working on the first full-length story featuring Dr. Rosella Tassoni. We’ll be heading down to New Orleans where Rosella has to face her own demons while stopping a killer who only lives in the shadows. I also have my weekly column over at 18thWall Productions' website where I talk about writing. You can find me there on Wednesdays. Once a month, I also write for the Stage 32 blog. If you haven’t joined Stage 32, I highly recommend it. It’s a great networking tool for creatives, especially in film. In the realm of not-writing, I’ve been working on helping to bring back my podcast, the Raconteur Roundtable. I’m really excited for this to come back and I’ve had fun returning to this project. I’m also working on a YouTube channel that I’m excited to launch soon.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

Facebook: facebook.com/mhnorris4
Twitter: @girlinpink44
mhnorris.com

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

An Interview with Robert Petyo

In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.

First question, inevitable perhaps considering the pandemic...how are you coping?

Staying at home as much as possible, and reminding myself that there are many other people—infected people, front line workers, unemployed people, nursing home residents—who have it a lot tougher than I do.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery?

When I was in Junior High School, I wrote a series of stories, inspired by Marvel Comics and the TV show “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, called “The Men From ACEL” about a detective/spy agency. The characters in the series were all named after fellow students. The psychology behind this, I don’t know. Was I a shy nerd looking for attention? Did I think the character names earned me a built-in audience? As I became more serious about my writing, I’ve only attempted the “detective agency” a few times. “The Morrison File” is one of those times. (Some of the characters in the story have names similar to those characters in The Men From ACEL.)

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Not recently, but I used to attend a yearly writer’s conference sponsored by Pennwriters, a statewide writer’s organization. Very helpful and very inspiring. I also used to attend Mystery conferences in Philadelphia.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

Sherlock Holmes is the reason I write mysteries.

What are you writing now?

I work on several projects at once, which probably isn’t a good thing, but sometimes when having problems with one project, I find moving on to another project helpful.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

petyo@ptd.net and Facebook or Twitter @robertpetyo