Category Archives: historical fiction

Crime of Passion and a Curse

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (1887)

Tuesday’s Ghost Story   March 29, 2022  READING FICTION BLOG 

 

 

Oscar Wilde is most famous for his The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Like much of his work known for its satirical brilliance, and even if you are not drawn to ghost stories, this one will brighten your day.

The Otis family members are spending the summer at the castle in Canterville, previously owned by British aristocrats Lord and Lady Canterville. A good part of the narrative is from the ghost himself Sir Simon de Canterville. And what a guy! Prepare yourself for a parody of Gothic fiction. Lightning storms, strange laughter, blood stains, hidden passages, crows that cry havoc, tea in the library with a secret hatch, and dashes of romance—and, of course, a murder. All this will beg the question: Is love stronger than death?

Very entertaining classic literature at its best. Oscar Wilde’s wit and realism, and his engaging characters are memorable both on the page and on the screen.

Read the short story here at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14522/14522-h/14522-h.htm

Listen to the audio on You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0iIV9zSuDI

 

Watch the FREE film on You Tube (1:20 minutes). This 1997 movie was directed by Crispin Reece, starring Ian Richardson, Celia Imrie,  Sarah-Jane Potts, and James D’Arcy. There is another version, 1996, with Neve Campbell and Patrick Stewart, but this version I feature here is far better.

 

 

Oscar Wilde was born of professional and literary parents. His father, Sir William Wilde, published books on archaeology and folklore. His mother, who wrote under the name Speranza, was a revolutionary poet and an authority on Celtic myth and folklore.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week, Algernon Blackwood, March 14

Author of the Week,  March 14,  Monday

Algernon Blackwood

(Short Story Writer and English Novelist of Mysteries and Supernatural)

 

“Certain houses, like certain persons, manage somehow to proclaim at once their character for evil.”

“But the wicked passions of men’s hearts alone seem strong enough to leave pictures that persist; the good are ever too lukewarm.”

“Ritual is the passage way of the soul into the Infinite.”

 

 

Algernon Blackwood (1869 to 1951) was one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories in the history of the genre. His two best known stories are The Willows and The Wendigo. His first book of short stories, The Empty House (1906) was when he became a full-time fiction writer. Later collections include John Silence (1908), stories about a detective sensitive to extrasensory phenomena, and Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural (1949), 22 stories selected from his nine other books of short stories.

Today is Blackwood’s anniversary of his birth, March 14, 1869.  As fiction readers we love to pay tribute to authors on the birth or death dates as a memoriam by reading their work.  Blackwood’s mysterious tales and atmospheric ghostly stories  bring our imaginations into other worlds. He is a master at going deep into the psychological elements of ghosts and the element of human fear and desire. His stories are a treat into vintage fiction!

On this blog, I have featured seven of Blackwood’s stories (In the Index of Authors’ Tales above). He is a worthy favorite of mine. You won’t be disappointed.

Interview with Andrew McQuade about Blackwood’s Fiction: http://satanicpandemonium.blogspot.com/2012/12/algernon-blackwood-interview-with.html

 

Audio of Algernon Blackwood Reading Pistol Against a Ghost. A quick story that will make you smile! (7 minutes):

 

 

And here is audio of The Wood of the Dead (35 minutes):

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Algernon Blackwood’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Algernon-Blackwood/e/B001IO9NQO 

There are a number of Blackwood’s stories free on Kindle.

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays once a month at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 250 free short stories by over 150 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary or classic authors. Audios too. 

Comments and Likes are welcome!

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Author of the Week, Susan Hill, February 7

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   February 7   Monday

Susan Hill

(Novels/Short Stories, Mystery and Ghost Fiction)

 

“Ghost stories … tell us about things that lie hidden within all of us, and which lurk outside all around us.”

“I wrote ghost stories because I’d always enjoyed reading them, and they seemed to be fizzling out… I don’t take them terribly seriously. It’s like a cake, with ingredients.”

“Though they don’t always have to be set in fog, weather is incredibly important in ghost stories. As is suspense: you’ve got to turn the screw very, very slowly.”

“I have only read very classic traditional English ghost stories, other than Henry James, who wrote some magnificent short ones as well as the longer ‘Turn of the Screw.’ He, Dickens, and M.R. James are my influences.”

 

 

Dame Susan Hill, Lady Wells, DBE is an English author of fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels include The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror, and I’m the King of the Castle, for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. Other awards include Whitbread Novel Award for The Bird of Night (1972); and the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for The Albatross (1971), a collection of short stories.

Her Simon Serrailler Crime Mysteries are popular novels, beginning with the first in the series The Various Haunts of Men.

Reviews:

“A gripping whodunnit and a subtle study of the mind of a psychopath”  Daily Mail 

“I loved this book. Masterly and satisfying” Ruth Rendell 

“This book must be judged as a potential successor to the great sequences of detective writing by PD James and Ruth Rendell…excellent” Daily Telegraph 

“She has the priceless ability to construct a solidly-researched narrative that keeps the reader turning the pages”  Independent  

Interview with Susan Hill speaking about wickedness, her dark new novella – and why she would never read the latest Man Booker winner.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/25/susan-hill-books-interview

Interview about ghost stories:

 

Here is the trailer for The Small Hand, a short story by Susan Hill

Visit Susan Hill’s Amazon Book Page: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Hill/e/B096X8W23Z

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author

on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over

200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors, audios too.

 

4 Comments

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Dabbled in Blood, the Masked Figure

Tuesday’s Short Story, January 25, 2022

The Masque of the Red Death  by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

 

 

This month of January is the anniversary of  Edgar Allan Poe (birth January 19, 1809). What better time to mark our appreciation of this great writer than to read one of his stories?

The Masque of the Red Death is fast 20-minute read for readers who love supernatural and mystery. I think this story has a timeliness during this Covid pandemic when we are all wearing masks and where many of us wish we could run away to our private abbeys to stay safe.

“The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.”

Prince Prospero summons his dominions to his castle, an abbey in the far hills. Here the ‘gay society’ is safe to enjoy themselves in the seven rooms of different colors—which have its own mystery. We are at a masked ball with music and dancing, but who arrives? An uninvited mysterious figure. In the seventh room that is draped in black velvet with blood red window panes, our tale goes deep with supernatural, psychological, and horrific elements in grand Poe style. This is soooooo Gothic!

Read the short story at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1064/1064-h/1064-h.htm

 

Listen to the audio read by Sir Christopher Lee:

 

Watch the film created at the University of Technology, Sydney for Media Arts and Production (15 minutes). Sweeping, baroque, and spooky.

 

 

Poe wrote in many genres. He was the first to include deep psychological and intuitive horror in his stories. His tales often reflect that the true monster of evil is within each person and what happens when that evil is acted upon. His most famous work is The Raven.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories (some with audio), by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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The Haunted House in the Square, for Halloween

The Empty House  by Algernon Blackwood  (1906)

October’s Short Story for Halloween,  October 21, 2021

 

What could be more satisfying than to read a classic haunted house mystery during Halloween season? Especially a gabled house surrounded by dark gardens that cry out and air fragrant with ruin. Inside lurking staircases flicker shadows, and a faceless clock ticks away on the threshold of midnight.

Dean Koontz says of haunted houses: “We are haunted and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.” How utterly delightful to be a ghost! Maybe our DNAs truly are blueprints of the past.

One of the absolute finest writers of ghost stories is Algernon Blackwood. Here at Reading Fiction Blog, you will find six of his stories to read for free—because Blackwood is a master at ghosts, psychological chills, and performing the highest atmospherics. He has been considered the foremost British supernaturalist. His skills lie in drawing upon Oriental thought, psychology and philosophy, which bring an intelligence to his stories.

The Empty House is a simple story, a fiction over 100 years old. There was a murder in this house that is now empty and shunned by the village folk.  Aunt Julia and her nephew Jim Shorthouse spend a night in The Empty House.

 

We walk through this house with Aunt Julia and Jim, not as observers, but as participants in seeking the ghost.  The atmospherics do it all to illicit fear  and trembling as the characters engage in the supernatural events. Pay close attention to the narrative closure. It sneaks up on the reader, leaving you breathless in the sea air.

 

The original chatter about this story was that Blackwood personally experienced some of these ghostly events during his ghost hunting work at the Society of Psychical Research in London. We are in a well-written “quiet horror” of supernatural literature.

 

Read it here at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14471/14471-h/14471-h.htm

 

Listen to the audio on YouTube.com:

 

More of Algernon Blackwood’s free short stories here at Reading Fiction Blog:

Blackwood, Algernon  Ancient Sorceries, February 5, 2013

Blackwood, Algernon  Wood of the Dead, September 9, 2014

Blackwood, Algernon  House of the Past, November 9, 2015

Blackwood, Algernon  The Glamour of Snow,  March 1, 2016

Blackwood, Algernon A Psychological Invasion, Case 1,  June 28, 2016

Blackwood, Algernon  The Willows, October 16, 2018

 

Have a Happy Halloween!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week Deborah Harkness, October 11

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   October 11

Deborah Harkness

(Scholar and Novelist: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Mythology, Paranormal, Supernatural)

 

“I definitely see my historical work as a process of detection. Historians fit pieces of evidence together and hope that they eventually form a coherent picture. Often, a historian’s most compelling questions—and the most difficult to answer—concern personal motivations and why something happened the way it did. These are questions we have in common with detectives.”

“Fiction is more like alchemy, though. You take a little of this, a little of that, combine it, and hope that something wonderful occurs so that your creation is greater than the sum of its individual parts.”

“We make our own monsters.”

“I’m a storyteller, and I have really good material to work with: I’ve been studying magic and the occult since about 1983.”

“A lot of our assumptions of the world are fairly cynical, fairly negative, and assume the worst. What our reading tastes show – in this rush to fantasy, romance, whatever – is that we actually still want to believe in a world of possibility, in a world of mystery.”

 

Deborah Harkness  is an American scholar and novelist. She is best known as the author of best selling novels A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life.  Before becoming a best selling author, she spent more than a quarter of a century as a student and scholar of history, with degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis. She has researched  the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700. Harkness’s scholarly work can be found in John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution (Yale University Press, 2007). She has received  fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Humanities Center.

 

Interview with Deborah Harkness, AuthorMagazine.org (10 minutes):

 

 

“A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People Magazine).

“Romantic, erudite, suspenseful.” (The Oprah Magazine)

Trailer for original series Discovery of Witches, Season One:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Deborah Harkness’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Harkness/e/B001IO8EOQ

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

Leave a comment

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Author of the Week, Dan Simmons, August 9

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   August 9

Dan Simmons

(Short Stories and novels in Suspense, Noir Crime, Supernatural, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Historical and Mainstream Fiction)

 

“I knew that I wanted to be a writer even before I knew exactly what being a writer entailed.”

“There’s a unique bond of trust between readers and authors that I don’t believe exists in any other art form; as a reader, I trust a novelist to give me his or her best effort, however flawed.”

“I find that I write more slowly and carefully, even as the deadlines come more frequently. I’ve never been satisfied with the final form of any of my work, but the dissatisfaction may be deeper now — even as some of the quality goes up — because I know I have fewer years ahead of me in which to improve and make-up for my shortcomings.”

 

Dan Simmons (Born 1948)  is a multi-award winning American author.  His first novel, Song of Kali, won the World Fantasy Award; his first science fiction novel, Hyperion, won the Hugo Award. Most readers know him for winning four Bram Stoker Awards, among many other fiction prizes. One of his favorite authors is Charles Dickens (Drood). His short story The River Styx Runs Upstream was awarded first prize in Twilight Zone Magazine story competition. The Terror and The Abominable are his historical fiction novels.  Stephen King had significant praise for Simmons novels:  “Simmons writes like a hot-rodding angel.”

See all Simmons’ literary awards here, 35+  https://www.sfadb.com/Dan_Simmons

Dan Simmons Interview – Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast #96 (Discusses horror)

 

Steven Silver interviews Simmons on ScienceFiction.com:

https://www.sfsite.com/09b/ds160.htm 

 

The Crook Factory is about Ernest Hemingway while living in Cuba in the 1940s. Simmons states in the afterward that 95% of the novel is true. The story is a thrilling plot about an FBI agent and Hemingway’s amateur spy ring called Crook Factory in Cuba at the beginning of WW II. “Simmons spins, the zesty characters it entangles and its intricate cross-weave of fact and fiction .” Publishers Weekly

 

In A Winter Haunting, college professor and novelist, Dale Stewart,  has been followed to this house of shadows by private demons who are now twisting his reality into horrifying new forms. And a thick, blanketing early snow is starting to fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Dan Simmons Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Simmons/e/B000APQZD6/

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author

on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

Comments and LIKES Welcomed!

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Author of the Week, Sarah Waters, August 2

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK,  August 2

Sarah Waters

(Historical Novels)

 

 

“I knew I’d always be a second-rate academic, and I thought, Well, Id rather be a second-rate novelist or even a third-rate one.”

“Respect your characters, even the ­minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters’ stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist‘s.”

“I never expected my books to do even as well as they have. I still feel grateful for it, every single day.”

 

 

Sarah Waters,  born July 1966, is an award-winning Welsh novelist. She is best known for her novels set in Victorian society. Author of six novels, Tipping the VelvetAffinityFingersmithThe Night Watch and The Little Stranger, which have been adapted for stage, television and feature film in the UK and US. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction and she has won the Betty Trask Award; the Somerset Maugham Award; The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award; the South Bank Show Award for Literature and the CWA Historical Dagger.

 The Society of Authors interviews Sarah Waters, “Afternoon Tea”: (45 minutes)

 

 

Visit Sarah Waters Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Waters/e/B001K86U3C

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Author of the Week, dark literature, fiction, fiction bloggers, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, historical fiction, historical ghost stories, literary horror, literature, mysteries, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa

Author of the Week, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), June 21

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   June 21

Karen Blixen

(Short Stories, Nonfiction, Memorist)

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”

“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.”

“We must leave our mark on life while we have it in our power.”

“I start with a tingle, a kind of feeling of the story I will write. Then come the character, and they take over, they make the story.”

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.”

Karen Blixen,  1885 to 1962, was a Danish author (pen name Isak Dinesen). A baroness, a farmer, a storyteller. Blixen wrote works in Danish, French, and English and is famously known for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, and one of her stories, Babette’s Feast, both of which have been adapted into highly acclaimed, Academy Award-winning motion pictures. She was considered several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Most of her readers have known her to be a woman who fought for women’s rights at a time and in a country that challenged many female liberties.

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills” is the opening lines of  Out of Africa, that romantic adventure that has become a classic in literature and motion pictures.  If you’ve never seen the film, you can stream it easily and it’s a beautiful escape into the mind and imagination of Karen Blixen. If you are a fan of short stories, this is a writer to dive into.

(Karen’s study in Denmark)

In Karen’s home in Copenhagen, garden and bird sanctuary:

Out of Africa, behind the scenes:

 

The Paris Review’s Interview of Karen Blixen, The Art of Fiction:

https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4911/the-art-of-fiction-no-14-isak-dinesen

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story

by contemporary and classic authors.

2 Comments

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Author of the Week, Catherine Cavendish, June 7

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  June 7

Catherine Cavendish

(Fiction: Ghost Stories, Supernatural, Gothic)

“I don’t remember a time I wasn’t writing. I loved reading so much and started at a precociously early age. I kept running out of things to read, so I wrote my own.”

“Ever since I was a child and read The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, I have loved that delicious thrill you can only get from reading scary stories. I do believe there is more to this world than what we can see, hear, touch and feel. Scientists have already proved the existence of many more senses and dimensions than we thought we had a few decades ago.”

[Note: The ghost story has persisted in literature for a long time. Maybe they are reflections of who we really are? Maybe we just love the illusions and the power of the supernatural? Whatever, if you love ghost stories, you must try Catherine Cavendish novels.]

Catherine Cavendish is  author  of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels and novellas.  She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which was featured in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys rambling around stately homes, circles of standing stones and travelling to favourite haunts such as Vienna and Orkney. She lives with her long-suffering husband and black cat in a 260 year old haunted apartment in North Wales.

 

Interview with Catherine Cavendish with Brian Kirk:

Interview with Catherine Cavendish, Author of Dark Avenging Angel

 

Catherine speaks about Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

 

 

 

Amazon Reviews:

“Catherine Cavendish delivers a clever, accomplished book that entirely normalises the ghost narrative and the timeslip aspects of the story, making it perfectly easy to suspend disbelief and imagine myself on one of Hannah’s tours, seeing and experiencing things that jump straight into the realm of the supernatural.” (Crime Review )

“Superb writing […] Cavendish’s writing is spot on, building wonderful characters and weaving a spell on us unsuspecting readers.” (Final Guys )

“Cavendish sets the scene exceptionally well and the book is atmospheric and spooky throughout.” (The British Fantasy Society )

 

Catherine Cavendish Amazon Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Cavendish/e/B0059GDROQ

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by

contemporary and classic authors.

 

Leave a comment

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