Last Writes with… the co-hosts of Vayse Podcast (@VayseesyaV)

Posted in Last Writes with... on February 8, 2023 by Occult Detective

The premise of LAST WRITES is simple. Our guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few parting earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown. What makes these questions appealing and insightful for me is that these are not necessarily our guests favorite things, but those they most want to experience one last time before they shuffle off this mortal coil.



Buckley and Hine are co-hosts of one of my favorite podcasts — Vayse. For those interested in the strange and unusual, as I certainly am (and suspect you are as well or else you wouldn’t be here), Vayse approaches high strangeness, magic, and mysticism head on and without pretense. The call themselves novices and “enthusiastic rookies” as they venture into these depths of the preternatural, but they are brilliant interviewers and their keen insights and interests make the journey one worth taking.

Peter C. Hine’s fascinations with magic are infectious and Stephen J. Buckley is reserved and thoughtful, with his music setting the tone for the adventures these men have set out on… bringing us along with them.

But now their greatest journey is before them and their Last Writes are prepared, so let us bid them a metaphorical fond farewell.



My partner Helen is a fantastic cook, and makes this recipe with plant-based mince, peanut butter, brocolli, and udon noodles. It’s spicy, nutty, and full of umami flavour. I think about it all the time. A massive big bowl of that would be perfect to send me on my way.


This is very tricky, but I think I’m going to pick a recent favourite, which is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. I’ve only read it once but it really got under my skin. I don’t want to explain too much about why because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet read it (and you absolutely should). It will probably be a different experience the second time around, but if I could somehow capture that weird feeling it gave me the first time I read it, and take that with me as something to savour, then that would be it.


Since I went with a recent choice for the book, I’m going with an old classic here and picking my favourite film of all time, which is Labyrinth. It’s got it all – strange creatures, alternate dimensions, David Bowie, Muppets… all the boxes ticked. I’ve probably watched it more than any other film – even This Is Spinal Tap, which I’ve watched a LOT. I was obsessed with it as a kid. I used to try to force myself to visit the Labyrinth in my dreams. Something about that place and all it’s strange logic, mystery, and weirdness –  it really appealed to me, and probably had a formative influence on what I enjoy in fantasy works to this day. If I was a millionaire I’d recreate it and live at the center of it. But I’m not. So I’ll just have to make do with watching it before I die and hopefully it will have some influence on where I reside in the afterlife.


Another tough question. Music has been a huge part of my life for the last 30 years, and I’ve picked up a lot of favourite songs along the way. I guess for this I’d want something transcendent and beautiful to guide me into a higher plane, so I’m going to go with Galaxy In Satchidananda by Alice Coltrane. I mean, it’s not technically a “song” because there’s no singing in it, but I’m going to argue that that harp really sings, which makes up for it. I challenge anyone to listen to this with their eyes closed and not feel changed in some way. Beautiful.


Freddie Mercury. He was a big influence on how my life turned out because he was the person who made me want to become a musician, and I too have a mustache. He was also by all accounts a very nice, kind man. So I’d meet up with him, and once I’d got over telling him how great he was, we could make some music together. Normally I’d be intimidated by someone of his God-like status, but I’d hope that having experienced death that I’d be beyond fear and able to just hang out with Freddie without any anxiety.



There’s only one answer I can give to this: Smoky Sesame and Broccoli Noodles.

It’s from a recipe that (Vayse co-host) Buckley shared with me last November and I’ve been making it at least four times a week since, much to the aggravation of my family, who, for some weird reason, value a varied and balanced diet over appeasing my insatiable hunger for this wonderful stuff. It sounds simple, but I just can’t get enough of it. There’s loads of umami in there: tahini and soy sauce – it’s relatively healthy: broccoli and spring onions for vitamins, tofu for protein, chili for fun – it’s the perfect meal.

I’d also demand to prepare it myself too. Ever since I started cooking it I’ve been slowly and incrementally refining the process. Each time I make it I try to make it slightly better than the last time. I’m not much of a chef and I have an extremely limited repertoire, but this is what it must be like to have a specialty. It’s actually one of the reasons I’m sad that death has come to claim me at this particular point in my life – I mean, if I can continue to improve on this recipe each time I make it, who knows where this could lead? What kind of achievements could I unlock? Maybe the perfection of this simple meal was my true purpose in life, my shot at achieving Nirvana – and if that’s true, then it’s essential that I have one last attempt at making it. My very liberation from attachment and worldly suffering could depend on it.Delicious.


I guess the first stage to answering this question is: do I re-read something that I’ve already read, whichI usually find to be a waste of time, or do I try something new, taking the gamble that it could be awful and I go to my grave without satisfaction, cursing my own misplaced curiosity? This is the only one of these questions that poses that conundrum – there’s no way my last meal would be something I hadn’t tasted before; I wouldn’t watch a movie I’d never seen before or listen to a song I’d never heard before when facing certain death. But reading’s different isn’t it?

The book I’ve read most often is A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick, but I know it so well now that reading it again seems like throwing away an opportunity. In life I’ve been trying to be a bit more adventurous, to move out of my comfort zone more often and there’s no reason that I shouldn’t also embrace this approach in death.

Then, assuming that I’m going to try something new, the next question is: do I go for fact or fiction? Do I go for one of the “must-read-before-you-die” type novels? Something like Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon or Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I haven’t read either so whichever one I choose, I’m still meeting my end embarrassed to have not read the other.

But if I choose a factual book, I risk reading something dry about a world that I’m shortly leaving. Unless I try to make good with one of the world’s major religions, perhaps by reading the Bible, or the Qur’an,maybe one of the four Vedas – but that in itself is a gamble, there’s a lot to choose from and I’ve never put much stock in any single one of them being 100% correct. This soul may well be beyond saving anyway.

So, that just leaves comic books, obviously. I trust you to back me on this Bob, comic books are definitely real books, no-one could read the Watchmen or Transmetropolitan or Preacher and not think that. I recently started reading the Invisibles by Grant Morrison – having not read the Invisibles is one embarrassment that I’m not prepared to carry with me to the next life – so my choice would be the omnibus edition of the Invisibles. It’s really incredible so far, I can’t believe I never read it until now.It has the indie cred of Infinite Jest but the ontological weight of the Bible (don’t bother fighting me on this I’ll be dead soon anyway). I like to think that by the time I finish it I’ll have a new (perhaps even more cynical) perspective on life and death. Plus, it looks beautiful, I could spend eternity just staring at some of Brian Bolland’s cover art.

And it’s long – really long – and I’m not a particularly fast reader, so that may buy me a few extra days to make peace (or to wage war – I’ll be guided by Mr. Morrison on that).


Ghostbusters is my knee-jerk reaction to this question, the no-thought lizard-brain answer, because it’s objectively the best movie ever made.But giving this a moment’s thought, Ghostbusters might not be the best movie for this situation – perhaps I need something a little more sympathetic to the plight of the recently deceased. Ghostbusters is totally black and white in its view that the unquiet dead are something to be battled, captured and incarcerated. That might be a little hard to stomach when facing my own mortality.

The temptation is to watch something profound, a movie that can really tell me something about the cycle of life and death, the nature of existence and what it really means to be human – maybe The Fountain or Inception or Bladerunner. But that’s all bit heavy really isn’t it? There’s always the laugh-out-loud movies, like This Is Spinal Tap, Monty Python and the Holy Grail or The Big Lebowski, but going straight for the laughs just seems a little hollow at this late stage in my life.

All things considered, the winner has to be Beetlejuice – it’s a comfort watch, it’s funny, it’s weird and the performances are all great.It dates back to a time when the release of a Tim Burton movie meant something, before the endless re-makes and diminished returns. Nothing looked like Beetlejuice when it was released, and nothing really looks like it now – often imitated never bettered.

And the music! One of Danny Elfman’sfinest scores, early enough in his career that you can still hear the Oingo Boingo clinging to every crazy kinetic phrase but by this point he’s self-assured enough to go way out there and have fun with it.The result is a psychedelic Danse Macabre, absolutely mesmerising to listen to and more than a little responsible for the unique atmosphere of the film. And the use of the Harry Belafonte songs feels original and funny even on the hundredth watch.

But I think that the real reason I’d chose this movie over any other as my last watch is that it’s genuinely sympathetic to the plight of the recently deceased, not only that but, ultimately, it’s also optimistic about death and what waits on the other side, however strange and unusual that might turn out to be. Which is just the reassurance I need as I take the leap into the great unknown.


This feels like the hardest of these questions, certainly the one that troubled me the most, but the answer was always going to be “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix. I say “by Jimi Hendrix” because he honest to gods made that song his own. There’s no doubt some strands of DNA from Dylan’s original are still knocking about in there somewhere,but the Hendrix version is a much more evolved beast.

Guitars shouldn’t sound like that. Music shouldn’t sound like that. This song feels more like a magical ritual than a piece of music.Hendrix often seemed to be drawing on something mystical, shamanic.It’s easy to see that he’s channeling something when you watch videos of him playing live but, for me, this is the closest that he gets on record.

From the first bar, like a knock at the door before it’s kicked down, to the last,carried away on a maelstrom of swirling vocals and frantic lead guitar, this tune has always reminded me of crossing over to the other side – or at least going on some kind of transcendental journey (see also the finale to season 3 of Battlestar Galactica). It’s so urgent and propulsive and he packs so much into just four minutes – all those crazy solos! And it’s one of his finest vocal performances too, I’ve often heard people say that Hendrix wasn’t a great singer – but his voice on this track is undeniable.

At this late hour, I don’t want to be listening to anything too melancholic, nothing that will make me contemplate my mistakes or regrets, I just want something that makes me feel really fucking cool. If I can cross the River Styx with All Along the Watchtower playing in my head then I’ve died a happy man.


This is a kid-in-a-candy-shop kind of question – the choice to meet anyone who’s gone before me?! That’s a lot of really great people to choose from. I’m going to have to hope that dying cures social awkwardness.

The one that first springs to mind would be Philip K Dick, I’d love to pick that massive, magnificent, frazzled brain -“So Phil, VALIS – what’s that all about?” I actually like to think he found some peace on the other side and so I probably shouldn’t be bothering him with my fanboy nonsense.

There are too many possibilities to run through here: do I talk politics with Bill Hicks? Get a guitar lesson from Hendrix? Ask Mark Lanegan to read me some JG Ballard? Ask JG Ballard to read me some JG Ballard?! But they say that you should never meet your heroes, and in life I’ve found that to be true, so I see no reason why it shouldn’t be true in death.

The truth is that I’ve cheated a bit on this answer (you’ve got to let me have one!) because I know that Buckley has also answered these questions and shuffled loose this mortal coil too. If I can find Buckley on the other side then we’re quorate for Vayse and there’s podcasts to be made, plentiful ultra-terrestrials to be interviewed and a whole new dimension full of weird stuff to be explored – and I’m guessing that I finally have a good enough excuse to not be in work on Monday morning!

Well, that was something else. Great responses, as I fully expected, from these chaps. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, you need to make Vayse an important part of your podcast routine. And, while you’re at it, Stephen James Buckley’s music is well worth your time. I became an instant fan. You can check him out on his Polypores bandcamp page.

Soon, I’ll be a gust of Vayse, speaking through the magic of the internet across the great Atlantic pond that separates us. Hopefully they’ll take pity on me.

Please remember to tune in each Wednesday as we raise up another departed guest on our hypothetical funeral pyre so that they might express their Last Writes. See you next week.

Saturday Special LAST WRITES with… author @Paul_Leone

Posted in Last Writes with... on February 4, 2023 by Occult Detective

The premise of LAST WRITES is simple. Our guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few parting earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown. What makes these questions appealing and insightful for me is that these are not necessarily our guests favorite things, but those they most want to experience one last time before they shuffle off this mortal coil.


Welcome to a special Saturday edition of Last Writes as we bid farewell, metaphorically, to speculative fiction author Paul Leone.

I met Paul online, through twitter and patreon, and though a prolific author I had not read any of his work. When he asked for someone to look over a story he was working on, I offered my services. That tale, Demons of the Desert, which took place in Roman occupied Judea in 62 AD, blew me away. It had a very occult detective feel to it and was populated with terrific characters and diabolical entities. It barked right up my proverbial tree and I have been a fan ever since.

If you have a proclivity for urban fantasy and fantastical historical fiction, Paul Leone is your man.You can track him down in the usual places, such as twitter or facebook, or better still, take a gander at his website:

So come, let us lay Paul Leone down for his eternal slumber, but not before we perform his Last Writes:


This one is easy for me – pizza and wings from my local delivery place. Western New York might not be up there with New York or New Haven as far as pizza goes, but we still have some nice spots. And nobody beats WNY chicken wings. I’ve been ordering from the same place since I was in high school, so I’ll go out with their food in my belly.


I’ll go with a predictable and perhaps boring answer as far as authors go – J.R.R. Tolkien. But it’s a bit of a deeper cut, in my defense – the posthumously published The Children of Húrin. It’s a lot darker and more ‘adult’ than The Lord of the Rings, and fleshes out one of the most tragic stories from The Silmarillion into a complete, engaging and thoughtful novel.


Fantasy Mission Force. It’s an obscure early Jackie Chan movie and absolutely insane from start to finish. The ‘plot’ involves WW2 Japan kidnapping a group of Allied generals (such as Abraham Lincoln) and a rag-tag group of heroes recruited to rescue them. The whole thing is ridiculous, but it becomes sublimely strange in the finale. Even after you see it, you won’t believe it.


One I’ve recently discovered, thanks to the cover by Karliene, Roxane Genot and Jan Pouska – the folk song “The House Carpenter.” It’s tells a fantastic (and chilling) story, and hopefully I end up in the fair and high hills instead of the dark and low ones.


My grandfather, who died from Parkinson’s when I was a child, and I never really got to know before he started to succumb to that cruel disease.

It was more than a pleasure to have Paul join us here in the Occult Detective Mortuary. Be sure to visit his author page on AMAZON where you are sure to find something to satiate your desire for a tale well told.

And please remember to tune in this coming Wednesday as we raise up another departed guest on our hypothetical funeral pyre so that they might express their Last Writes. See you then.

The New Season Begins! Last Writes with… @MaeviusLynn

Posted in Last Writes with... on February 1, 2023 by Occult Detective

The premise of LAST WRITES is simple. Our guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few parting earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown. What makes these questions appealing and insightful for me is that these are not necessarily our guests favorite things, but those they most want to experience one last time before they shuffle off this mortal coil.


Who better to launch the new season of LAST WRITES?

I first met Lynn on twitter during the whole Georgina Rose kerfuffle. Lynn was operating in a similar space as GR, as an occult content creator with an emphasis on Thelema. As GR’s star fell, Lynn’s transcendent goodness and impeccable content saw her star in turn rise. Truth is, she immediately struck me as someone who was both highly intelligent and passionate about magick, and she quickly became a welcome addition to that circle of online esotericists I admired and respected. That trust has never faltered.

Her youtube channel is highly recommended for those new to magick and you can follow her across her many manifestations on social media by apparatting from her linktree.

So, as we lay Lynn to rest, let us see what Last Writes she will have performed:


There is a place in Tokyo called the Aoyama Flower Market. It’s truly a magical place. I have never encountered anything else like it. In the front of the establishment is the most beautiful florist’s shop and garden center. It smells so amazing. There are so many flowers that you can smell them from the sidewalk outfront. Behind the flower and garden area there is an exceptionally beautiful and cozy restaurant. For my last meal I would like to be there with my friends and loved ones having one of their salads with lotus root and a parfait. The place is a feast for all of the senses and with the right company my heart could feast too.


This is such a hard one. I think it would be most comforting to return back to an important book of my teenage years: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. It was one of the first books I read where my torrent of emotions and difficulties in life felt truly seen and echoed. It still remains one of my favorite books to this day. I think returning back to a book where I saw myself at that age would be both comforting and interesting. It would allow me to reflect on how much I have grown or changed through the years. Would my near death eyes find the same meaning as the ones that read it in a state of youthful eagerness? I’m not sure. I honestly don’t know. I think the answer would say much about me and the human condition. I would like to know.


At the risk of sounding a little strange, the top three for me would be the Russian film Stalker (1979), Eraserhead by David Lynch, and My Neighbor Totoro. Stalker and Eraserhead speak to me on an existential and mystical level. Those are both incredibly important films to me. However, I think that I ultimately must choose My Neighbor Totoro because it was the most important film of my childhood. It’s an incredible film and I have so many special moments attached to it. I’ve continued to watch that film through my adult life and celebrate it. I remember as soon as I could find merchandise for it as an adult, I bought myself a little Totoro backpack. My grandfather saw me wearing it and instead of scolding me for being childish he told me that he was happy to see I still loved the things I did as a child. I think his direct quote was something like, “That’s so cool!” He was such a stoic man, so that was a special moment with him. I have a lot of special memories surrounding that film and the film itself penetrates the soul with its charm.


I would like to depart after listening to There Is a Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths. I don’t have a very deep reason for choosing this other than the fact I love the Smiths. Whenever I hear this song come on I always have to dance or sing along. Departing while in a state of joy seems fitting. “existence is pure joy” – Liber AL vel Legis II:9


If there is another side, then the person I would like to see the most is still alive and I don’t want to curse them by naming them in this. That being said, I think it would be profoundly meaningful to see my grandfather again. I would like very much to tell him thank you so much for being such a positive influence on me growing up. I would also like to tell him of all of the adventures I have been on as an adult. I would like him to know that his positive mark on the world had a lasting effect on me through my life. He was truly a good man. Of course I think it would be very cool to see someone famous or historically noteworthy, but seeing a familiar face of someone I loved like my grandfather would be both meaningful and a comfort to me.

What terrific responses. It was an honour to have Lynn visit the Occult Detective Mortuary and share these morbid moments with us.

93. 93/93, Lynn. Thank you…

Please remember to tune in each Wednesday as we raise up another departed guest on our hypothetical funeral pyre so that they might express their Last Writes. See you next week.

Coming Soon: Last Writes Returns!

Posted in Last Writes with... on January 27, 2023 by Occult Detective

Welcome, sleuths!

I would like to invite you to join us,
after a seemingly long hiatus,
to a new season of Last Writes.

We have a number of brilliant guests lined up
that include occultists, paranormal investigators,
musicians, artists, and more.

Last Writes relaunches on Imbolc,
being Woden’s Day, the first of February

with Thelemite Maevius Lynn!

See you then.

What I’m Reading in 2023

Posted in The Library on January 17, 2023 by Occult Detective

2022 was rough. Hell, it’s been rough since 2020, but we persevere. I read less than I would have liked last year: 65 books. There was a time when reading more than a 100 was effortless. But as we grow older, our eyes tire and it seems we’ve far less time. So, I’m shifting my focus. There will be far more DNFs, for sure. Quality is the name of the game, not quantity. And I want to seek out things I’ve always meant to read, but haven’t. I’ve also started “booktubing” a bit. It’s not been a smooth start, but I’ll get there…

01. The Best of C.L. Moore
02. Northwest of Earth by C.L. Moore
03. Kolchak: The Night Stalker, edited by James Aquilone
04. The 16th International Saga Conference: Sagas and Space
05. The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader
06. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
07. A Yule Story by Jacob Toddson
08. How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
09. Protection & Reversal Magick by Jason Miller
10. The Aleister Crowley Manual by Marco Visconti
11. A Crack in the World by James Mordechai
12. Monsters at the Crossroads by David Weatherly
13. Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose
14. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
15. The Shroud Conspiracy by John Heubusch
16. In a Lonely Place by Karl Edward Wagner

The 13th Annual Occult Detective Awards

Posted in Occult Detective Awards on January 13, 2023 by Occult Detective

What did I think of Conan: Blood of the Serpent?

Posted in Book Review on January 10, 2023 by Occult Detective

When the Full Moon rises, look for the 13th Annual Occult Detective Awards to rise with it

Posted in Occult Detective Awards on December 29, 2022 by Occult Detective

The 13th Annual Occult Detective Awards are scheduled for January 6th at 6:09 pm EST, to coincide with the rise of the Wolf Moon.

Slim pickings this year, but we’ll be launching a new format, so stay tuned. There may just be some surprises for you.

I was a guest on Olde World Paranormal Podcast

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on December 20, 2022 by Occult Detective

I had a great time chatting with Nick and Sean about these haunted hinterlands of Indiana.

I was a bit under the weather, but I still think the interview came off pretty well.

If you’ve not listened to their podcast before, Nick and Sean run a very relaxed interview session and they’ve had some stellar guests on in the past — Michelle Belanger, Heather Taddy, Shane Pittman, Dustin Pari, Reverend Long. I was thrilled to have the chance to sit down with them and appreciated their humor and dedication.

My Thoughts on Demon at the Door by Michael Arruda

Posted in Book Review, Horror, Occult Detectives on December 9, 2022 by Occult Detective

Demons come out at night.

I’d known that since I could first talk. I remember this because I watched my first horror movie when I was three. Scared the crap out of me. Most fun 90 minutes I’d ever had in my young life. But the information was clear. The night was a bad and scary place. Everything came out at night: vampires, monsters, ghosts, and especially demons.

It was not a good time to be alone, which was why when my parents suggested that at 12, I was old enough to babysit my younger brother Tim, who was 10, and my little sister Egg, who was 8, I told them it was a bad idea. Too many monsters.

So says twelve-year-old Dylan Holcomb, moments before he and his younger brother and sister disappear from their home without a trace. Special Agent Dani Cerra is assigned the case, and to her chagrin, the children’s parents also hire Sean Ryan, a former Catholic priest who now works as a paranormal investigator. Together, Cerra and Ryan follow the clues in a case which begins with the disappearance of three children from their home with no sign of forced entry or exit, continues into the lurid arena of child abduction, and ends with a journey into the supernatural world of demons, a hellish realm filled with unceasing fires and tortures.

Michael Arruda has written a novel in which the human villains are every bit as horrifying as their demonic counterparts, maybe even more so. Demon at the Door is a tale of the supernatural, a story of three children fighting for their lives against both human predators and demonic, while a flawed FBI agent and a troubled paranormal investigator put their differences behind them and leave no stone unturned in their efforts to find and save the children.

Demon at the Door is horror author and movie critic Michael Arruda’s second novel, following his science fiction adventure Time Frame.

I’d been aware of Michael Arruda’s work at Cinema Knife Fight, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect of his sophomore novel, his first foray into horror, when a pdf ARC for Demon at the Door arrived in my inbox from Macabre Ink (Crossroads Press). What I didn’t expect was to be reading a pretty decent occult detective novel.

This is just the sort of set-up I crave in a good supernatural mystery — imperiled kids (gets me every time) is a good touch to generate the sort of emotions you’re going for here, and they are compelling kids. Cerra and Ryan though, our erstwhile occult detectives, are the stars of the show. I enjoy their characterization, and this is true of all the characters populating the novel. Every one feels real and grounded. And the supernatural elements are tastefully done. Not all demons smell of brimstone. I’m glad we get some great variety in our villainy.

Arruda has some skills, to be sure. Some of the dialogue is a little rough in places, a little too “TV”, but he understands pacing and the old bait and switch, managing both like a pro. I think he shows a lot of promise and I would certainly recommend Demon at the Door. While I feel there are some growing pains evident in the prose, it’s a solid page turner and well worth the time spent with it.

Here’s to hoping for more from this world in the future.

Demon at the Door by Michael Arruda is available in pod trade paperback on Amazon for just $16.99

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