Archive for the Horror Category

The days are getting “Spooky”

Posted in Horror, Liber et Audax with tags , on October 7, 2017 by Occult Detective


I’ve had the pleasure of working with the fine folks at CozyDaze by promoting their online retail launch, adding content to their social media presence, and, well, you know, general bloggery.

I’ve been having a ball with it. I love Hallowe’en. Not the day of Hallowe’en, but the weeks and months surrounding it. Let’s be honest here, for some of us, every day is Hallowe’en.

When I was asked to participate in their “SpookyDaze“, the Autumn/Halloween division of the CozyDaze mothership, it was a no-brainer. I loved their products and respected the vision of the company as a whole.

I understood that the first year or so would be about branding and growth. The idea for CozyDaze, and by extension SpookyDaze, toward a more unique expression is what really attracted me. They have a great eye for what could be.

I am thrilled to be playing a small part in seeing their dream realized.

I invite you to have a look at their online marketplace. I think you’ll agree, their product line is inspiring. Better still, the future is even darker…

Below is a sample of the type of blogs I’ve been writing for them. Today being the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death seemed an appropriate subject —


Many people use different dates to signify the “beginning” of Halloween. Some mark it by astrological events such as the Autumnal Equinox or the Harvest Moon, while others look to altogether different signposts. One such signpost is upon us today — the death of Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe left this world under strange and bizarre circumstances befitting a writer of the macabre and originator of the detective story.

The year was 1849, and on the 7th day of October, Poe, who was but 40, was found delirious,”in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, on the streets of Baltimore on October 3rd.

The author crossed from this world to the next from a bed at Washington Medical College. It was a Sunday morning.

Poe was never conscious enough to explain his dire state. Oddly enough, he was wearing someone else’s clothes altogether.

He called out the name “Reynolds” repeatedly the night before his death, though, to my knowledge, the mystery of who that name belonged persists.

According to legend, Edgar Allan Poe’s final words were “Lord help my poor soul”.

To further add to this mystery, all medical records were lost as pertained to his case, including his certificate of death.

Today, we raise a toast to the memory of Edgar Allan Poe, one of the greatest writers of the weird this world has ever produced.

And for those of you who use his death to mark the beginning of the holiday, “Happy Halloween”!


So, there you have it. Give SpookyDaze a look, if you will. Browse the website. Follow us on Facebook. But most of all, have a spooky good time.


My review of William Meikle’s Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse & Other Stories

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives with tags , , on September 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

William Meikle has a new collection out featuring all new tales starring William Hope Hodgson’s occult detective Thomas Carnacki.



The Edinburgh Townhouse and Other Stories is an assemblage of cracking good yarns written by an author who is at the top of his game. Meikle is adept at immolating* Hodgson’s prose, but I find Meikle’s take on Carnacki even more compelling.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Hodgson’s tales and consider Carnacki an indispensable fixture in the occult detective tradition, but William Meikle, who I am proud to count as a friend and compatriot, does far more with the character.

The stories, while set firmly in the era, breathe with a more sinister air about them, with a more urgent sensibility.

My favorite of the stories closes out the collection and is as fine an example of the occult detective genre as you’re apt to find. Once again in service to a young Winston Churchill, whom is written brilliantly with what seems to be the perfect voice for this historic figure, Carnacki is charged to dispel a lingering evil within The White Stag Inn, a place where hermetic sorceries were employed by men  with devilish intent, succumbing to the temptations of carnal revelries and feeding their hunger for power beyond measure.

Into the Light is a rollicking good yarn, atmospheric and perverse, with layered, nuanced storytelling that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The other tales in the collection, including The Cheyne Walk Infestation, The King’s Treasure, and The Edinburgh Townhouse, are all equal to the task.

Willie is, by no stretch of the imagination, one of our generations finest writers. He is unapologetically firmly entrenched in pulp fiction traditions, and by the gods, his words never cease to thrill me to no end.

Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse and Other Stories is published by Lovecraft eZine Press and available now from Amazon. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, and if you haven’t already, there are two previous Carnacki collections that will offer the same spinetingling chills as this one…

And the covers by Wayne Miller are almost worth the price of admission alone.

Let’s be honest here, if William Meikle’s name is on the book, it’s well worth picking up. You’re guaranteed one helluva ride.

*I meant “emulating”, but in a case of cognitive phonology typed “immolating” instead. I was going to change it, but quite like the visual of Willie sacrificing Hodgeson’s words on some sort of pagan altar, capturing his essence and style, to be delivered by black magic to those of us eager for such tales.

Happy Birthday, Stephen King

Posted in Horror with tags on September 21, 2017 by Occult Detective


Stephen King turns 70 years old today. I was turned on to King in 1976 with ‘Salem’s Lot. I was an instant fan and have steadily chewed my way through his impressive catalog of work for 41 years now.

41 years? What an impressive body of work he’s given us. Stephen King saw me through puberty, college, broken relationships, marriage, fatherhood, and more. He has been a constant and reliable source of inspiration.

He really is the undisputed King of Modern Horror Fiction.

Happy 70th Birthday, Mr. King. Thank you for the decades of nightmares you’ve shared with us. And here’s to may more to come…

Occultoberfest 2017

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives on September 20, 2017 by Occult Detective


The dark moon drifts across the naked sky this night and whispers for the witching season to begin anew.

Yes, my friends, it’s that time again, when the world is awakened to the arcane mysteries, when the veil grows thin and spirits, both dark and grey, move among us…

There is no time more magical. As the night becomes chill and the trees are painted from autumn’s burnt palette, I feel at home, at peace. Summer finally gives up its ghost and winter takes the stage, the sorcerous touch of icing death on its fingertips.

Oh, I have such treats in store for you, my fellow esoteric sleuths. We shall begin, however, with a gentle reminder, but one of great import: Give a Scary Book this Hallowe’en.


All Hallow’s Read has become a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simple to take part: during the month of Hallowe’en, or better yet, on the night itself, you give someone a scary book. Young or old. It doesn’t matter. It can be a novel or a collection or even a comic book. But give words, the scarier the better.

All this stems from the mind of Neil Gaiman who wrote, some seven odd years back —

I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.

I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…

Give a scary book.

If you don’t know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you’re giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don’t tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)

That’s it. That’s my idea.

Scary book. Hallowe’en.

Who’s with me?

Well, I am Neil. I can think of no better way to celebrate the season.



#SpookyDaze ahead

Posted in Horror with tags , on August 7, 2017 by Occult Detective


I’ve loved Hallowe’en since the first time I slid into a Ben Cooper mask.

For me, Hallowe’en has always been all about magic, mystery, and the macabre.

When I think of Hallowe’en I think of ghost stories around a campfire, plastic pumpkins filled with candy, corn mazes and hay rides, and late night strolls through my favorite cemeteries.

Knowing my passion for all things All Hallows, my friends at Cozy Daze have invited me to help promote their newest venture — Spooky Daze — and I jumped at the chance.

Very soon, Spooky Daze will be offering an amazing line of products, including life-size polyresin statues of iconic horror figures, Hallowe’en-themed furniture, spooky lighting, scary decorations, and more.

frankThese items make for great photo-ops and eye-catching displays, guaranteed to draw people in, whether you’re running a haunted attraction or Hallowe’en event.

And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to have a 7′ Frankenstein in their house. I’m making room in my den even as we speak.

I’ll post a link to their site as soon as they’re up and running. Believe me, you’ll want to check it out.

84 days till Hallowe’en… Are you ready? I know I am.

Three from Seven

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice with tags , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Occult Detective

I’ve had three books published by Seventh Star Press — two in the Cairnwood Manor series (Shadows Over Somerset / Keepers of the Dead) and the first in my Tales of the Liber Monstrorum (First Born), with the second (Descendant) soon to follow.

I am, understandably, proud of each of them. They are, oddly enough, all very different. Shadows is something of a Gothic Horror, while Keepers is far more Fantasy/Adventure. First Born is a mixed bag of traditional Occult Detective tales and Urban Fantasy, while Descendant will have elements of both of those with a bit of Police Procedural for good measure.

One thing I can promise about each and every one of them is this — I did my level best to spin a good yarn.

I hope you agree…

The Cairnwood Manor Series

sosShadows Over Somerset
Trade Paperback / Ebook

kotdKeepers of the Dead
Trade Paperback / Ebook

Tales of the Liber Monstrorum

Cover 01 First BornFirst Born
Trade Paperback / Ebook


01 sigil magick


Who is Landon Connors?

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice with tags , , , on July 23, 2017 by Occult Detective

Here’s what people are saying about FIRST BORN:

If you like the genre, you’ll love Landon Connors and the entourage of standing characters in Bob Freeman’s imaginarium. The tales in this volume range from the classic noir detective yarn with Connors at the center, to horror stories set in rural places like those of the author’s youth.” — Freeman Presson, Wizard

The connections stand out so vividly when put in order.” — Greg Mitchell, author of The Coming Evil trilogy (not to be confused with a certain now-spectral Outrider)

“The tales here breathe, and oft times, there’s a hint of brimstone, perhaps some of that old black magick lurks in the exhale.” — Steven Shrewsbury, co-author of Bad Magick


I don’t think it’s a secret that Landon Connors is the “star” of my Liber Monstrorum series. Oh, sure, there are plenty of other characters, many of them shining brightly, but let’s not kid ourselves — this universe revolves around Connors. So, I guess the big question is, where does he come from?

drconnorsWell, to dissect that mystery, we need to turn back the clock to 1987. I was living in a basement apartment in Muncie, Indiana, doing a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have been doing, but I’m awfully glad I did.

Anyway, in amongst the mind-expansion, self-exploration, and general magical mayhem, I was also pretty heavily into tabletop roleplaying.

We were playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition), a bit of Car Wars, a pinch of Call of Cthulhu, and two comic book related RPGS — Marvel Super-Heroes and DC Heroes.

It’s those last two games where Landon Connors origin story takes center stage, only he had a different name back then.


Landon started out older and more cryptic, but the chain-smoking, drug abusing, occult detective was alive and well and going by the name Solomon Killingbeck, Private Eye.

We had sort of merged the Marvel and DC RPGs into a single somewhat cohesive game, utilizing the best bits from both systems and sprinkling a healthy dose of d20 mechanics into it.

Solomon Killingbeck was a character I rolled up and used as a Doctor Strange-type of NPC, a valuable resource for my players who helped shepherd them through many occult-themed adventures in the super-hero multiverse.

So, almost 20 years later when I decided to delve into writing occult detective fiction, obviously it was to Killingbeck that I first looked.

Yes, I made him younger and better looking, tossed him a demon-enchanted fedora, jettisoned his Jewish heritage, and changed his name, but the essence of the character was still there.

Oh, and about that name change: it was done to honor my son, Connor. His middle name, an homage to his maternal grandmother who passed just before he was born, is Landon.

Seemed like a perfect fit.

Anyway, you can read all about Landon Connors in First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, available now via Amazon and other online retail outlets.

And if you really want to submerge yourself in all-things Landon Connors, there are Connors-themed Tarot Decks available through my Etsy store, TheOccultDetective.

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