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 soupçon 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 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,, 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 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?

Twitter: @girlinpink44

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 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? and Facebook or Twitter @robertpetyo

Friday 22 May 2020

An Interview with Josh Pachter

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.

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

My first published story, "E.Q. Griffen Earns His Name," appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1968. I was sixteen years old when I wrote it, and my protagonist was a sixteen-year-old boy named Ellery Queen Griffen. I wrote a second story about E.Q. two years later, and one about his younger brother, Nero Wolfe Griffen, a year after that, but then I moved on to creating my own characters, rather than copying those of other authors. A few years ago, I realized that the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of my first story was approaching, and I decided it would be fun to bring its main character back, fifty years older, to celebrate the occasion. Where would E.Q. be, half a century on? Well, where was I? Writing has over the decades been a paying hobby for me. My job is in education — I teach communication studies and film appreciation at a two-year college in Virginia. So why not make the adult E.Q. Griffen a college instructor? I wrote "50" and submitted it to EQMM — and editor Janet Hutchings not only bought it, she agreed to publish it in the magazine's November/December 2018 issue, exactly fifty years to the month after my December 1968 debut. The next year, I was delighted to see "50" place second in the balloting for EQMM's annual Readers Choice Award.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

In 1972, I backpacked across Western Europe and visited the Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland. A beautiful spot — and, unlike the fictional "221B Baker Street," a real place!

What are you writing now?

A year ago, I was asked to write a story for a collection titled The Eyes of Texas, edited by the prolific Michael Bracken. I created a Texas private investigator named Helmut Erhard, whose grandfather was a German Army officer who spent the last two years of WWII in a POW camp in central Texas and stayed on in the US after the war to raise a family. I had so much fun with the character and the small-town Texas setting that I've now written four more Erhard stories and am working on number six.

Where can we follow or contact you online?  

I don't often tweet, but I'm a pretty regular presence on the Book of Faces, and I have a website at

Tuesday 19 May 2020

An Interview with John M. Floyd

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 are you coping?

Like everyone else, I’ve been stuck here at home every day, so I’ve treated that as a chance to do a lot of writing. And reading. 

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

I wrote it because it’s a locked-room mystery, and I’ve always enjoyed reading that kind of story.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Almost every trip I’ve ever taken has resulted in at least one story, so I guess I’ve been on a lot of literary pilgrimages. Most of them lately have been to Bouchercons.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story?

Suspense and deception. And of course a crime, at its center. I also like plot twists, not only at the end but during the story itself.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

I have two of them: Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko and Nelson DeMille’s John Corey.

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

How does a guy who graduated in Electrical Engineering wind up writing fiction for magazines? I think I’ve solved that one.

What are you writing now?

A western about a bounty hunter on the trail of the stagecoach bandit who stole his girlfriend.

Where can we follow or contact you online?

Via my website ( or my publisher’s site (

Sunday 17 May 2020

An Interview with Mike Adamson

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 are you coping?

Staying inside, it’s been weeks since I spoke to anyone but family, except electronically. Fortunately, South Australia has one of the best responses to the epidemic in the world, and we’re feeling pretty confident so far that numbers will remain low.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery?

The title “The Vicar of Sexton’s Deep” had been at the back of my mind for ages, the iconic image of the old, gothic church in the wild-wood, with strange things happening, and when the time came the storyline gelled very quickly. Discounting the still-incomplete opening adventure, this is the earliest of the Inspector Trevelyan stories, and I was still feeling my way. By the time it was finished, I better knew the Inspector and his world and have since finished two more tales, plus a cross-over with Sherlock Holmes which will be appearing in Weird Tales later in the year.

What inspired you to write this mystery? 

I was intrigued by the combination of real-world and occult elements, and found it very satisfying from a storytelling point of view to set up an overtly occult/satanic scenario and then deconstruct it, reducing it to an everyday explanation. This is the Holmesian formula, but, at the same time, I provided a chilling thread of the supernatural quite distinct from the overt element. It was experimental in this sense, but the experiment seemed to work!

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

None to date, I’d have to say, unless you count seeing one of the handful of surviving copies of the Magna Carta in the chapterhouse of Salisbury Cathedral, in 2006. It’s the basis of British law, and might perhaps be considered literature!

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story?

My impressions: A crime of some subtlety, a strong motivation, characters the reader can relate to or at least understand readily, and an unimpeachable chain of logic by which it is solved—I feel it would be very unsatisfactory if the detective made too great a leap of intuition or otherwise came by the facts too easily.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

The Prince of Detectives, Sherlock Holmes.

What are you writing now?

I write mostly genre material, SF, fantasy, horror, historical, mystery, and adventure. I’m currently writing a short story which concerns small dinosaurs which survived the great extinction, have evolved intelligence and are scientifically uncovering the facts of their ancestor’s demise! I guess you’d call that SF! And I have a couple of Sherlock Holmes pieces to write in the near future for new markets opening up.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

An Interview with Cameron Trost

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 are you coping?

The official lockdown ended yesterday in France but I'm still at home with my two sons as school is reopening progressively with priority given to the children of parents in essential services. My wife had been working from home but she has started going back to work on a part-time basis. I'll be a stay-at-home-dad until life returns to normal. Living in the countryside makes it quite pleasant. We're very happy not to be cooped up in a small flat in the city. The virus hasn't spread too much in this part of France. I think most people have done well and respected the restrictions. It's too early to let our guard down though. This is a devastating virus and we need to do whatever we can to protect each other.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery?

"The Ghosts of Walhalla" is Oscar Tremont's second adventure (details here) and a lot of it is inspired directly by my visit to the actual setting. Yes, it's a real ghost town in Victoria, Australia! I'll let you work out fact from fiction. Just like Oscar and Louise, my wife and I stayed at the camping ground for a few nights back in 2008 and that's where I began writing the mystery in a notebook. If you ever visit the state of Victoria, you really should try to swing by Walhalla. Ghost sightings not guaranteed but the tour is a lot of fun!

Have you made any literary pilgrimages?

Quite a few. I've visited 221B Baker Street. In Oxford, I drank at pubs frequented by famous writers and characters, like Tolkien and Inspector Morse. In cities like Oxford, Edinburgh, Dublin, and of course, London and Paris, it's pretty hard not to stumble across fascinating sites connected to books. I'd love to visit Agatha Christie's home, Greenway House, in Devon. If I ever go to the States, I'd love to explore everything connected to Edgar Allan Poe.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story? 

I'm all about the puzzle. You need a great detective and believable characters, of course, but for me the mystery is the key. We all hate it when the solution is too obvious, but it shouldn't be too convoluted either. Whatever the resolution, there must be clues, red herrings, and foreshadowing along the way, so the reader can flip back through the pages and say, "Yeah! It was all right there under my nose!"

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

My unoriginal answer is Sherlock Holmes. After all, he's the detective. The mysteries are excellent for the most part and both he and Watson are wonderful characters. In terms of TV detectives, I really like the sensitive heart but rough-around-the-edges mannerisms of Vera (I've yet to read any of the books) and the quirky Jonathan Creek. One of my favourite authors is Ruth Rendell but her Inspector Wexford doesn't really do it for me.

What are you writing now?

I’m working on an apocalyptic suspense novel about a pyromaniac, but it's early days. I'm also polishing a couple of Oscar Tremont short mysteries. My next publication will probably be my mystery novel, Letterbox. I finished the umpteenth draft last year and think it's ready now...well, almost. 

Where can we follow or contact you online?


Thursday 7 May 2020

An Interview with Duncan Richardson

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 are you coping?

One of the few benefits of the pandemic is the way it reveals how people really respond to big events like this, and it’s not the way most TV shows, films, or some books depict it; ie. we don’t walk/sit around making set piece speeches like, “Do you think there will be a war / bushfire / drought / pandemic?” It’s much more diffuse most of the time, with patches of frenzy. So I’m coping by trying to find some hidden benefits.

Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery?

The story behind my story is a big old house in South Wales where I lived for about 6 months as a child. It had long corridors, a wide curving stairway and a glass case in the hallway which contained a carving of an emaciated body. The carving freaked my mother out as it reminded her of the Nazi concentration camps. She wouldn’t rest until it was gone. Recalling that, it seemed that it could be part of a campaign to scare someone.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story? 

A flawed main character, a believable setting in time and place, and a villain who has good reasons for their actions so you feel some sympathy for them too.

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

Robert Gott’s thespian sleuth, Will Power, because he’s hopeless and arrogant with a stunning knack of offending people. Also Poirot as depicted by John Malkovich.

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

A real mystery that would be great to solve is death of Alexander the Great. Was it disease, or was he poisoned? The princes in the Tower would be a good one too.

What are you writing now?

I’m now writing about a mystery man who turned up in a Queensland regional town around 1900 and attracted the attention of the police, which resulted in him being taken into custody and admitted to a mental hospital because in the words of the official report, “He couldn’t give a good account of himself.”

Where can we follow or contact you online?

Saturday 2 May 2020

An Interview with Kurt Newton

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 are you coping?

Good. Where I live, the cases are few and far between. Hopefully, it will stay that way. Still, it has changed the way we go out in public, that's for sure. We might be wearing masks as standard attire from here on out.

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

Back in 2002, Michael Arnzen and I were the first two poets to sign with a new publisher called DarkVesper Publishing. My collection THE PSYCHO-HUNTER'S CASEBOOK was the first title, to be followed by Michael Arnzen's collection FREAKCIDENTS. An idea was hatched that Michael and I should write some cross-promotional material to help get the press off the ground. I wrote a short story mashup involving freaks and a detective hired to find one freak in particular called "The Freak-Hunter's Casebook." Unfortunately, the editor/publisher of DarkVesper disappeared from the scene (nothing nefarious, just in over his head) shortly after my collection was published, leaving Michael Arnzen and his collection in the lurch. Such is the small press. Michael's collection had no trouble finding another publisher. In 2005, "The Freak-Hunter's Casebook" eventually sold to an anthology called EMBARK TO MADNESS.

There are many ingredients in "The Freak-Hunter's Casebook" that are taken from my life growing up in rural Connecticut. I was a Cub Scout. The Devil's Hopyard is an actual place. I remember attending a circus sideshow as a kid, at a time when freaks were still on display. I'm also well-versed in small town attitudes and small town law enforcement.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Living on the eastern side of Connecticut, I've always wanted to go to Providence and do the H.P. Lovecraft tour of his literary places. Haven't done that yet. Another bucket list tour would be to visit Baltimore and check out Edgar Allan Poe's hangouts.

What are the key ingredients for a ripping mystery story?

I like the grit, to feel the cold rain, to be on edge as to what could be around the next corner. It's that feeling of being lost at sea but knowing that, if you just keep going, circumstances will bring you to where you need to go. 

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

My dad was a big Sherlock Holmes fan and we watched a lot of b&w Basil Rathbone movies when I was a kid. My brother and I also used to stay up late sometimes and watch Charlie Chan Theater on an all-night Boston TV station. A lot of those memories are more nostalgic than inspirational.

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

I know for a fact that I buried a metal lunchbox full of childhood odds and ends in the backyard of the house I grew up in. What odds and ends, I don't remember. One day, I'll return with a metal detector and find that lunchbox. And when the current owners of the property return home one night to find a series of holes dug in their backyard, they'll have their own mystery on their hands.

What are you writing now?

I always have several short stories in the works, a novella or two that needs my attention, and always a novel at some stage of near-completion. Lately, however, I've been focused on poetry. Not sure why. But the pendulum will swing and I'll be back at completing the short stories (while starting new ones) and pushing the longer works further along. It's a long, meandering process, but I do manage to get things done.

Where can we follow or contact you online?  

There's Facebook (, Twitter (, Instagram (, and my
Amazon Author Page ( I'm of an older crowd, so Facebook is where you'd have the most luck.

Sunday 26 April 2020

An Interview with Paulene Turner

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. 

Mandatory question considering the situation: How are you coping with the pandemic?

How am I coping? Like most writers, I’m fretting for the world and its people enduring tragedy in all corners. I’d rather write about dystopian worlds and historical events than live in or through one. And the habit of imagination doesn’t help a great deal; I keep dreaming up ways things could get worse – which is great in a story, but not so much in real life. Otherwise, my family is doing pretty well. We have a bit of cabin fever, of course. To the extent that we look forward to doing the grocery shopping – dangerous though it may be – for the sake of getting out. (Never thought I’d write that sentence) But in our family we’re all ‘sitty’ people and so probably coping better than more athletic triathlete sorts. Hope you’re okay in France? The numbers over there have been horrifying.
(Interviewer: Thanks, Paulene. We're doing fine. We live in the countryside and have a garden so it's not a problem getting exercise. I do the grocery shopping, which gives me some alone time. Not many cases here in Brittany compared to other regions.) 

What's the inspiration behind your story?
I’ve always loved the challenge of a good mystery, figuring out whodunit, or why. I was and am a big Agatha Christie fan, and read and re-read the Sherlock Holmes tales. My favourite characters in any novel/show/story are the clever ones who can deduce things that people won’t come out and say. So much of our daily lives involves this skill; figuring out what people actually mean when they say they’re ‘fine’, from the clues they present rather than the words. Most of us spend at least part of our time wearing metaphoric masks and hiding what we think and feel – especially from ourselves.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the fifth book of a YA time travel series in which a teenage odd couple travel to some of history’s most exciting periods. My protagonist, Maddy, imagines she’s an expert on sub-text and reading people. If she was an earthworm, she says, she would be deep down in the dirt. Whereas her travelling companion, Riley, is a scientific genius who invented time travel, but he takes people at their word and can only ever burrow beneath the surface grains.

What's the key ingredient for a ripping mystery?
I believe that every good story, no matter what genre, has a mystery at its core; something to keep people guessing or wondering. In these COVID-19 times, we hope there’s a Sherlock in the medical world, who can solve the mystery of how to kick the virus’s butt!

Where can readers find you?
My short stories and various writings can be found at

Monday 20 April 2020

An Interview with Jon Farber

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. 

Mandatory question considering the situation: How are you coping with the pandemic?

I'm doing fine. I'm a physician in Virginia, but as a private pediatrician I'm not in the line of fire, as children have been spared the illness effects to a remarkable extent. Life is certainly strange, with stay-at-home orders and masks when you go out, but I know how important this is to do, and that this will pass and there will be some semblance of normalcy down the road. None of my family and friends have been affected, but my heart does go out to those not as fortunate.

What's the inspiration behind your story?

The inspiration for the story is easy to report. I only write when I'm inspired; I'm not one of those who feels they have to write a certain amount in a certain time period, or who always has to be writing. I read "The Problem of the Snowbound Cabin" by Edward D. Hoch and I came up with a solution for how the murder might have been done, which was not the author's, and that got me to thinking if I could use my solution in my own story, a snowbound locale being a fairly common locked-room trope. From there, the suspects and the clues just burst upon me as is their wont, most of it fleshed out within an hour or so, and then I decided I might as well do it in the Hoch style

What's the key ingredient for a ripping mystery?

For me, the key ingredient is a clever puzzle, something I can solve which is challenging. It can be very unlikely, but not implausible, which is what ruins a number of the more outlandish John Dickson Carr novels for me. The Golden Age of detective stories is where I like to lose myself.

Who's your favourite fictional detective?

My favourite sleuth:  Ellery Queen, with nobody a close second. I can even put up with the writing, which can range from the pedestrian to the overblown, for the puzzle. I have pretty much all the fiction he has written, with the exception of some obscure radio plays and commissioned 'true crimes' which were published in magazines and never collected. I am almost finished rereading his oeuvre for the second time, and like to think of myself as something of an expert on him. Other writers I enjoy are of course Doyle, Christie, Carr (when he is on his game), Berkeley, and, among the more recent vintage, Rendell.
(Publisher's note: I'm reading Ruth Rendell's "The Crocodle Bird" now. For anyone who loves suspense but hasn't read Rendell, you're missing out!)

Have you solved any real mysteries?

I have some medical mysteries I have been proud of solving, but they required technical knowledge and may not appeal to your readers

What are you working on now?

Speaking of Ellery Queen, I am currently writing (or rather, my literary partner is writing) a cozy whodunit detective novel. That is, I did most of the plotting in my role as Frederick Dannay, he did almost all of the writing in his role as Manfred Lee, and we are now working on polishing up the second draft. It's about a doctor pursuing a serial killer, but despite that theme it is a cozy nonetheless.

Monday 13 April 2020

An Interview with Brian E. Guyll

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.  

What’s the story behind The Windless Halt Affair?

The inspiration behind my Windless Halt story was the place itself. My wife and I came upon it during a driving tour of the remote Northern Pennines in County Durham. Following a curving descent from the stark moors into a lush green valley with a winding stream we almost missed the old farmhouse buildings nestling among the trees. I stopped to ask a lady hanging her washing out the name of the place. 'There is no name, only a postal code,' she replied. Looking at its sheltered position and knowing that a lot of these old places were stagecoach horse changing posts in the old days, I decided to call it Windless Halt. The darker side of my mind envisaged it as a perfect place for a homegrown crime. Obviously, the detection part is heavily influenced by Conan Doyle – after all, who doesn't want a bash at writing a Sherlock Holmes story?

Have you made any literary pilgrimages?

I started my working career in the coal mines of North East England. While serving an apprenticeship and working for several years underground, I met many characters who could only be described as Dickensian. A few years ago I started writing a few memories down and found myself wanting to see the old haunts and maybe even meet some old acquaintances. Hence, once a year I drag my long-suffering wife around old mining villages and even mine workings. Obviously, the planned trip for this year has had to be postponed. I wondered how to write about such characters and bring them to life. Ultimately, I decided to fit them into a series of detective stories some of which are based on events in the lives of these colourful people.

What are your key ingredients for a ripping mystery?

I like a story with a reasonably fast pace, flowing natural dialogue, some dark humour, a twist or two and not always the inevitable ending where the good guy wins.

What’s a real mystery you’d like to solve?

The Dark Energy and Dark Matter phenomena intrigue me. Will the discovery of what they are unlock the key to the start and end of our universe? Sounds like a story!

Do you have a favourite fictional sleuth?

Ian Rankin’s John Rebus – a hard-bitten Scottish detective.
(Editor’s note: Great choice! For those who don’t know Rebus, click here

What are you writing now?

Apart from the above-mentioned unpublished detective novels, I write short whimsical stories for a local online magazine called Thanet Writers. Below is a link to the stories they have published thus far. I have just completed a short story for the BBC which I have just learned will be read out on local radio.

How can readers contact you?

Sorry to say I haven’t done anything with my blog for donkey’s years. There’s a contact page on or just simply email me at

Sunday 9 February 2020

Do you want to be a champion?

Black Beacon Books is taking its mission into independent publishing a step further with Patreon. By joining one of our three tiers of sponsorship, you'll have access to automatically delivered publications, bonus gifts, exclusive deals, competitions, and secret announcements. Together, we can take the next step, making Black Beacon Books a professional market for authors and expanding our range of titles and distribution network. Be part of the journey!
Full details here:

Friday 31 January 2020

David Schembri Interview

David Schembri is the artist who so kindly provided our new logo last year. The dramatic black beacon logo has already replaced the old logo online and will make its début in print later this year when we release "The Black Beacon Book of Mystery", a 400-page anthology of original and previously published locked-room mysteries, noir escapades, armchair detective puzzles, tales of psychological profiling, and police investigations. David's logo design perfectly reflects the mood and style you'll find in our books. We wanted to share a little more about David Schembri's work and upcoming projects with you, and there's no better way to do that than to ask the man himself.

1) What were the highlights of 2019 for you, apart from designing our spectacular new logo, of course?

The past year was very exciting. I was able to support and assist my son in the creation of his first short film. It was wonderful to see him work hard on a project and go through the process of entering it into a competition. His little film was accepted into a small session of shorts, which was screened at a local cinema. I am very proud of him.

My daughter had independently entered into a dance competition, which required entrants to create their own dance and perform it. It was very special to see her on stage again, but performing her own dance. She’d even advanced into the grand final of the event, which was an added bonus. So, a very proud parent year.

On the writing front, Beneath the Ferny Tree (my second collection of horror stories and artwork, published by Close Up Books) continued its marketing journey. The book had been nominated for Best Collected Work at the Australian Shadows Awards, which was a thrill, and was placed in a few bookshops in Victoria, Canberra and Adelaide.

The time then came to travel. I had taken up an invitation to speak at a writing workshop in Canberra. This was offered to me by Suzanne Kiraly from Aussie Writers, who had enjoyed Beneath the Ferny Tree. This was a fantastic experience, as I was able to meet with authors and publishers, and attend some wonderful lectures. I was also able to speak about my books and horror writing to an audience, and was asked some great questions and give some insight into the genre. I also had gained some design projects, so the networking aspect of the trip worked on all levels. I travelled by train, so I was gifted with many hours of writing time.

2) What should we expect from David Schembri Studios this year, or from David Schembri, the writer?

My studio was graced with a much-needed upgrade, so this year will bring many new projects. Along with continuing to support my ongoing customers, I hope to offer new products, such as product photography, web design and support, product film making and comic book illustration. Illustration projects are popular at the moment and I am already in talks to start a few projects, so an exciting start.

As for my writing, there is a lot on the desk. I have a new horror novella near completion, so I will be hunting for home for that one soon. I have a fantasy novel to redraft before sending it through to an interested party, along with a bevy of artwork. Furthermore, I have a few exciting collaboration projects that will be keeping me very inspired and busy. In the back ground, I have been planning a graphic novel for some time, so I would love to get that progressing a little this year.

3) On the subject of works of art, we see you love classic cars. What can you tell us about that?

Not many people know, but I own a small classic car. It’s a lovely Austin A30. I love all sorts of cars, but my connection to this particular marque comes from my father working at the Austin factory in South Melbourne back in 1955-56. It was his first job when immigrating to Australia, so when learning of this, I just had to own one. Having this car has exposed me to the wonderful classic car community, and of course, to the A30 Club of Australia (to which I am now the editor of their magazine). This year, I was involved in an interstate rally, where along with my son, we travelled 500 miles to Adelaide with the car club. We attended Austins’ Over Australia, a massive car rally and show in the Barossa Valley. It was a wonderful week away, and my son had taken lots of film footage to make a small documentary of the experience. Another great highlight of 2019.

4) "Beneath the Ferny Tree", your second short story collection, was released in 2018. Do you have a personal favourite from it? What's the story behind that story?

My personal favourite would be Atlantica. This was written exclusively for the collection upon request from the publisher. They wanted something else to assist the other stories, but something different, so I chose a period story based on a point in history I hadn’t studied previously. I love researching for stories, and I always get an insight to the strange turns of humanity. This story in particular, deals with the Atlantic slave trade, so it was hard to read and learn about the horrors that innocent people had to endure, and the wickedness of humanity when seduced by greed. This story had lingered in my head for a while, so there was a strong sense of accomplishment when submitting the story and having it accepted for inclusion into the book. It’s one of the main horror stories of the collection and I do hope horror lovers out there give it a read, and to also let me know what they think.

5) If editors or authors would like to use your services, how should they contact you?

Feel welcome to send me an email at, find me on facebook or instagram (@dschembristudios) or go to my website at davidschemb

Thank you for the chat!

No, David. Thank you!

Sunday 26 January 2020

Mystery, Suspense, and Horror in 2020

Welcome to 2020, Black Beaconers, and thanks for staying on course! Let's get the year started with a quick update on what's happening.

Firstly, as always, our online shop is open, so jump on over and grab yourself a book or two. If you have a local bookshop you support (good on you!), ask them if they can order our books for you.

Upcoming releases: The Black Beacon Book of Mystery is in the works and should be released in June. Details will be added to our page, Mystery Anthologies, as the publication progresses. The contributors and cover design are yet to be announced.

Submissions: The submissions window for Murder and Machinery will open in August. This anthology has a specific theme, so please read the guidelines even more carefully than usual. We're looking for tales of mystery, suspense, horror, and even dystopian, sci-fi, or steampunk.

In other news, Oscar Tremont, Investigator of the Strange and Inexplicable, some of whose cases have been published by Black Beacon Books (more details here), now has his own blog on Facebook. Talk about characters taking on a life of their own!

Don't say we're not keeping busy, and keeping you reading, in 2020!