Category Archives: suspense

Passionate Throbs in The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Ghosts   June 12, 2018

The quintessential ghost story of all time is … Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. As far as literature goes, academic or otherwise, this blog would be faulty if it didn’t feature James’ most famous ghost story. The story is a dark and rich suspense, full of passionate throbs both horrific and psychological. James has had his criticism about his overburdened sentences and his fussy and prudish style. Too Freudian was another swipe at him because his ghosts had their foundation in ourselves. But this story, after more than a century,  hasn’t lost its power.

The Turn of the Screw first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine (1898). James is famous for writing about the nature of evil in a quiet way. This short story fulfills the three –S’s in ghostly fiction: suspenseful, sinister, and strange. Gothic, of course, since the story takes place at the House of Bly. The story is both supernatural and psychological. James adapted this story from a tale told him by the archbishop of Canterbury. James was said to claim that his intention was to entertain. You will certainly find this story entertaining, disturbing, but also an exploration of good and evil.

The story opens with a prologue of backstory and then Chapter One is told by the governess (unnamed) who goes to Bly House in the English countryside to care for two children: Miles and Flora. Ghosts of unspeakable evil appear to the governess: Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. But are these apparitions only seen by the governess?

Do Miles and Flora observe as well? And what about the knowledgeable and reliable housekeeper Mrs. Grose? Truths, tricks, and the state of mind of our governess all play roles and so does supernatural powers.

A clever story, this is, and beautifully written. Writers of ghost stories can learn a lot by reading it carefully. The puzzle of the storytelling is cut expertly! The structure perfection. The tone mystifying. Still, literary critics debate if true evil ghosts haunt Bly House or is it the haunting from the madness of the governess.

For me, to take away the ghosts’ reality weakens the story and dilutes the fear. James insists we see the ghosts  just as the governess sees them, thereby maintaining the horror. And yet he sprinkles doubt at every turn, which enhances the suspense.

Read The Turn of the Screw at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/209/209-h/209-h.htm

Listen to the audio at Librivox.org.

https://librivox.org/the-turn-of-the-screw-by-henry-james/

 

I’d love to read your comments and reactions to this story. What kind of psychological realism or supernatural realism did you find in the story? 

Watch the film with Deborah Kerr, directed by Jack Clayton (vintage black and white)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=gwmp2I0A0Eg

 

 

There are other adaptations for film:
—1991 film with Lynn Redgrave, directed by Dan Curtis
—1999 film with Colin Firth, directed by Ben Bolt
—2009 film with Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery of Downtown Abbey, directed by Tim Fywell (available Amazon Prime Streaming)

 

Henry James was an American author, born in New York in 1853. He is considered to be one of the greatest novelists in our literature. The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller are his most widely read and best known works.  He accomplished 22 novels, more than a hundred short stories, autobiographical works, several plays and critical essays. The Wings of Dove (1902) is a beautifully written love story and a film.  In Edith Wharton’s autobiography, she recalls how she and James sat by a ditch at Bodiam Castle, in East Sussex. ‘For a long time no one spoke,’ writes Wharton, ‘then James turned to me and said solemnly: ‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’

Don’t forget to view the INDEX 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, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction. Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Abasteron House Mystery

Abasteron House by Paula Cappa 

Tuesday’s Tale of Supernatural   May 29, 2018

NATIONAL SHORT STORY MONTH,  May 2018.  Week Five.

READING FICTION BLOG

At this conclusion of National Short Story Month, and being an avid short story reader and writer, I would like to offer my own short story Abasteron House.

This flash fiction (five-minute read) was originally published at Every Day Fiction and is the prequel to my novel Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural, an Eric Hoffer book award winner. Of course, it’s the writing, the story, and the storytelling that matters here. Not me. Creative writing for a short story is just as challenging as writing a novel—perhaps more demanding creatively because of the brevity of the short story form. In the act of  creating, according to Joseph Campbell (American mythologist, writer, and lecturer), “there is an implicit form that is going to ask to be brought forth, and you have to know how to recognize it.” Campbell is well known for his intelligence and insights on the “archetype of the unconscious.”

“If you know exactly what it is you are creating, it is not going to work.”

Campbell, of course, is speaking here about the ‘mystery of your own being.’ His essay on Creativity is a marvelous read and available at NewWorldLibrary.com.

Abasteron House is a story that surfaced from my unconscious, sparking its own storytelling and then expanded into a novel exploring the land of ghosts in a woman’s unconscious mind.

Today I ask you to settle back for 5 minutes and come spend a summer at Abasteron House by the sea with Davida Kip Livingston. Come meet Duma, the angel prince of dreams. Experience the mystery.

“The fall of noon.” That’s what Grandfather called it. I never really understood how noontime could actually fall, but he liked to say it that way.”

 

Read the published short story here at EveryDayFiction.com:

https://everydayfiction.com/abasteron-house-by-paula-cappa/ 

Do leave a comment if you liked Abasteron House!

 

Read the Supernatural Mystery

NIGHT SEA JOURNEY, A TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL

This novel is in the genre of supernatural, quiet horror, but mostly in occult. The word for occult is hidden. Behind the veil of our experiences lies a deeper, perhaps a truer, field. Davida Kip Livingston is an artist living on Horn Island in her family home Abasteron House. There is a secret power in her unconscious that is immanent, a resident field of another phenomenal experience that haunts her nights. Is her dream consciousness from her own substance or energies? Or from something else, something more sinister? Dr. Laz Merlyn, a Jungian therapist, attempts to help Kip understand and resolve her ghostly night journeys.

ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD FINALIST, 2015. REVIEW: “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery…angels and demons…The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict.”

 

 

On Amazon.com for Kindle and in trade paperback, published by Crispin Books.

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

Smashwords 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX 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, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction. Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

Podcast:

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Virginia Woolf’s Phantoms

The Mark on the Wall  by Virginia Woolf  (1917)  

Tuesday’s Tale   May 15, 2018   Reading Fiction Blog.

NATIONAL SHORT STORY MONTH,  May 2018. Week Three.

READING FICTION BLOG

 

 

 

“The tree outside the window taps very gently on the pane…. I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts.”

 

‘Sink deeper and deeper. ‘ We can do that with our author for this week of National Short Story Month with Virginia Woolf’s  story The Mark on the Wall. We don’t generally think of Woolf when we think of suspenseful storytelling, but we do think human drama, stream of consciousness, symbolism, and keen interior monologue. Come along with me into Woolf’s world of the interior mind as our nameless character considers an odd mark on the wall. She turns inward in this narrative and focuses on the psychological. So many impressions emerge as she muses what the mark is and what has caused it. Mysterious? Yes. Captivating? For sure.

 

 

Expect no complex plot. This is a wandering story more about the nature of life than just some obscure flaw that has curiously appeared suddenly on the wall. Her reflections on this mark sustain the reader to explore phantoms in our own daily lives and in our own minds. Woolf is the master in the art of stream of consciousness writing (her greatest legacy to writers). In this story you can fall under Woolf’s spell into her flowing thoughts.

I read this story twice to get the fullest impact and it is an experience in itself. But I found listening to the audio to totally sweep me away.

 

 

 

“I shall never forget the day I wrote The Mark on the Wall—all in a flash, as if flying.”  Virginia Woolf [Source: Nicolson, Letters, 4:231]

Read The Mark on the Wall at Bartleby.com:

http://www.bartleby.com/85/8.html   

 

Listen to the Audio on Librivox, YouTube:

 

 

 

Virginia Woolf wrote modernist classics including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and feminist works, A Room of One’s Own.  She suffered bouts of deep depression, ending her own life in 1941 at the age of 59.

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a writer, you might like this short video (4 minutes) about Virginia Woolf’s writing at Open.edu.youtube:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Virginia-Woolf

Next week, watch for another short fiction to read for

National Short Story Month!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX 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, mainstream, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, free short stories, ghost story blogs, literature, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, suspense

Dreaming Darkly with Charles L. Grant for Short Story Month

May Is Short Story Month.  Week Two.  Let’s Dream Darkly with Charles L. Grant

Tuesday’s Tale of Quiet Horror    May 8, 2018    READING FICTION BLOG

When All the Children Call My Name by Charles L. Grant  (1981)

 

 

Because May is Short Story Month, I am featuring more short fiction for these weeks ahead. Here is one of my favorite authors for “quiet horror” stories. What is quiet horror? In this subgenre are stories that have a strong sense of the mysterious that stimulate the intellect and catches the emotion. No violence. Nothing offensive.  But lots of tension in the plot action and characterization. Most quiet horror is atmospheric with descriptive prose and setting, sometimes just a little bit poetic.  It brings on feelings of suspension and cold dread. It expands the imagination. It opens up the philosophic.  In literature and art there is the ‘negative space’ and quiet horror is fully there. Many readers prefer to call this subgenre literary horror. Center stage in these stories are the characters and their rising fear of the supernatural, discarnate spirits, evil powers, and sinister murderers.

Charles L. Grant is well-known as the king of quiet horror. Grant is highly skilled at deep suspense and making a reader turn the page with expectation.  In a Dark Dream is Grant’s award-winning novel (Bram Stoker Award for Fiction) that inspired me to write my own quiet horror novel about dreams of darkness in Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural (winner of an Eric Hoffer Book Award). The metaphysical action of dreaming is fertile ground for creative writing and scary novels.

 

Here is one of Grant’s short stories

When All the Children Call My Name. Read it at Nightmare Magazine and

    …  scream quietly:

http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/when-all-the-children-call-my-name/  

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX 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, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Leave a comment

Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, fiction bloggers, free short stories, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Mt. Greylock, Night Sea Journey, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, tales of terror

GREYLOCK Wins Best Book Award, American Book Fest, 2017

I am very happy to announce …
GREYLOCK wins Best Book Award by American Book Fest 2017. 14th Annual Book Awards: Winners and finalists traverse the publishing landscape: Wiley, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, St. Martin’s Press, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Rowman & Littlefield, New American Library, Forge/Tor Books, John Hopkins University Press, MIT Press and hundreds of independent houses. Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.
“In Greylock, Paula Cappa has written a smart, entertaining supernatural thriller, in which a composer with a damning secret battles a ballerina scorned, while an embittered messenger from the Otherworld demands to be heard. Think Stephen King meets Raymond Chandler with a score by Tchaikovsky. The author’s passion for both the arts and the natural world shines through on every page, while a mysterious composition from old Russia, combined with the majestic songs of the Beluga whale, form the thematic backdrop of the story. Briskly paced and yet lovingly detailed, this novel was a genuine pleasure to read.” —David Corbett, award-winning and best-selling author of The Mercy of the Night.

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Mt. Greylock, murder mystery, mysteries, occult, paranormal, phantoms, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers, suspense, tales of terror, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month

Margaret Atwood, Prophet of Dystopian Fiction: The Stone Mattress

The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

Tuesday’s Tale of Suspense   August 22, 2017

 

“At the outset, Verna had not intended to kill anyone.”

Do you like small horrors? What about quiet horror?  If you’ve never experienced Margaret Atwood’s fiction (she’s written 40 novels and currently quite popular right now with her The Handmaid’s Tale—a misogyist society where women have no rights and are forced to serve as breeders), here’s a fascinating and suspenseful  story to give you an introduction, The Stone Mattress.

Imagine you are on an Arctic cruise and you come into contact with a man who raped you in high school.  What would you say to this person? Would you seek revenge or forgiveness? Come and meet Verna. She is biting and clever as she is beautiful and courageous.

This is a compelling story and my first experience with Atwood’s fiction. I was blown away by this highly intelligent story of drama and intrigue.

 

 

You’ve likely seen lots of promos for the bestselling and critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale,  a film (1990) and the new series now available on Hulu. Atwood is enormously well read, especially by young writers. She began her career as a poet. Her writing is often in women’s-studies curricula; her stories explore issues of morality. The Handmaid’s Tale was on the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 banned books of the decade. Margaret Atwood is considered  to be the prophet of dystopian fiction.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer, film 1990, staring Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Natasha Richardson, Elizabeth McGovern; Screenplay by Harold Pinter.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Series Trailer on Hulu:

 

 

The Stone Mattress short story is part of  a collection named The Stone Mattress.

Read Margaret Atwood’s short story The Stone Mattress here at NewYorker.com/Magazine.

 

Do leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, murder mystery, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense

The Houseboat, Anaïs Nin’s Phantoms of Truth

“Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.”

 —Anaïs Nin

Today, February 21, is the anniversary birth date of the legendary and visionary writer Anaïs Nin.

ana-s-nin-drap-e-dans-un-ch-le-1932

I became acquainted with Anaïs Nin’s work many years ago when I read her  fiction, essays, and her inspiring diaries. While I researched and wrote my novel Greylock, Anaïs Nin made sudden appearances in one of my characters Lia Marrs. The above quote refers to what happens in Greylock, not only to Lia Marrs, but to the main character Alexei Georg—in a metaphysical sense. Anaïs Nin became a thread in the novel as I developed my metaphysical mystery.

Because I’ve always been fascinated by the mind, writings, and creativity of Anaïs Nin, I am proud and happy to celebrate Anaïs’s 114th birthday anniversary , February 21st, and bring you this great writer and her fiction. She’s been accused by the elite of society of narcissism and sexual perversion; she’s been highly praised by her readership for her skills, bravery, and ruthlessly honest writings. What began as a failed writing career, nearly homeless and broke, she soared to success as a feminist icon in the 1960s with  Spy In The House of Love and her 7 volumes of diaries published by Harcourt Brace. She died at the height of her fame in 1977. Her short story The Houseboat  is considered a  short story about her “voyage within.”

The Houseboat by Anaïs Nin (1930s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 21, 2017

This story is more like a memoir, a reminiscence, about people existing outside of normal life: the dispossessed. Those who have “walked and slept in counter-rhythm to the world.”

houseboat-on-river-1478877792uqi

Our narrator is living in this beat up houseboat on the Seine in France. She is alone with her books, her diaries,  her family photos, and her soul.

“Once inside the houseboat, all the voyages began. Even at night with its shutters closed, no smoke coming out of its chimney, asleep and secret, it had an air of mysteriously sailing somewhere … On the table lay a revolver. No harm could come to me on the water but someone had laid a revolver there believing I might need it. “

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“But I was so averse to killing that even shooting into the water I felt uneasy, as if I might kill the Unknown Woman of the Seine again—the woman who had drowned herself here years ago and who was so beautiful that at the Morgue they had taken a plaster cast of her face.”

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This prose is quintessential Nin—eloquent, deep, and a labyrinth into the mind. The haunting images will leave you wanting more of this author.

Read The Houseboat by Anaïs Nin at  OhioSwallow.com (scroll down to story title)

Listen to the audio of The Houseboat (24 minutes)

Interview by Studs Terkel in 1972 (10-minute excerpt only)

 

 

imgresVisit the Anaïs Nin blog site at SkyBluePress.com.

Listen to the podcast for her 114th anniversary at A Cafe in Space. Subject is Nin’s published diaries: http://skybluepress.com/podcasts/podcast24

View the  Anais Nin Amazon Page.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) was born in Paris.  She wrote The House of Incest, a prose-poem (1936), The Winter of Artifice (1939),  and short stories collected in Under a Glass Bell (1944). Most of her diaries were published and are still popular today.  Her most commercially successful books were her erotica published as Delta of Venus (1977) and Little Birds (1979).

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“Before Lena Dunham, there was Anaïs Nin – now patron saint of social media,” Read more at

 The Guardian. 

And at Brain Pickings “Anaïs Nin on How Reading Awakens Us.”

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 The Kill Zone

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

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