Archive for Fresh Blood

Playing Favorites #FirstBorn

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2017 by Occult Detective

Cover 01 First BornOver on twitter, a friend dropped me a congratulatory note via DM regarding the release of my occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Monstrorum.

We chatted back and forth for a bit, them politely asking about the collection, what stories were included, how many were unique to the work, and so on.

They mentioned reading the blog in which I shared my favorite illustration from the book, and then they dropped a heavy question on me — of all the stories in First Born, which was my favorite?

Man, that was a tough one, but answer it I did, with a short response. Here’s a longer version of it —

For the longest time, I would have named Mourn Not the Sleepless Children as my favorite. It was originally published by Burning Effigy Press back in 2009, part of a chapbook anthology entitled Fresh Blood. It was one of three stories, the others written by Dave Alexander and the horribly underrated Kelli Dunlap (better known now as Kelli Owen).

I worked closely with Monica Kuebler, BEP’s editor-in-chief, and I was so proud of the final product. To this day, Monica was the best editor I’ve worked with. She was professional, courteous, and helped me polish that story and make it something special.

Thankfully, in the chronology of events in my Liber Monstrorum tales, it comes first and thus was the lead story in First Born. It’s a great lead off and is a great showcase for what I can do when everything is clicking just right.

That being said, another story has supplanted it as my most favored tale. That distinction now falls on Wyrdtails.


Wyrdtails was written and serialized back in December of 2014, one of those “writing without a net” Harlan Ellison writing exercises I’m so fond of. I had no idea where the story was going, no idea from where it even sprang. It just fell out of my keyboard onto this website, growing in the telling.

We learned a lot more about Landon Connors, his father Ashton, the Order of the Sacred Hart, and saw Greg Mitchell’s ghost come out to play a bit.

In a lot of ways, Wyrdtails has been my most quintessential occult detective story, made all the more special because it came from the ether, like, seemingly, all the best stories do.

So, there you have it. If you’re curious, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum is available via numerous online retailers, but as Amazon seems to be the overlord of that heap, I’ll direct you there by way of the following link. If someplace else is more appealing to you, I trust your google fu will serve you accordingly.


All Hallow’s Read

Posted in Archive with tags , , , , on October 28, 2010 by Occult Detective

Neil Gaiman was on a plane, his mind surely chewing over some deliciously dark and clever story idea, when a stray thought took root.  “You know, there aren’t enough traditions that involve giving books.” And from this simple kernel has sprung All Hallow’s Read (#AllHallowsRead on twitter). So here’s his line of thinking:  “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.” Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? How could I not take part in something like this? It shall henceforth become a new tradition, one as necessary as carving pumpkins or digging up graves out at the old Hog’s Back boneyard.

So here’s how we’re going to do it here on The Occult Detective. You’re going to respond to this post and tell me what your favorite part of Hallowe’en is. Maybe it’s the candy, or the costumes, or the horror movies, or, maybe — just maybe — it’s because you know that the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Regardless, all you have to do is email your response to and you are entered to win a free book from yours truly.

What am I giving away? How about Fresh Blood, that gnarly little anthology from Burning Effigy Press featuring my story “Mourn Not the Sleepless Children”? Hell, I’ll even sign it for you. And to make the deal even sweeter, I’ll inscribe a bit of flash fiction inside and drop an arcane sigil on the page while sitting in a candlelit room inside one of the most haunted locations in all of Indiana. Who knows, maybe I’ll be sending you something more than just a free book?

I will select a winner at one minute before the stroke of midnight on All Hallow’s Eve.

Fresh Blood all over the place

Posted in Archive with tags , on June 17, 2010 by Occult Detective

I received a fresh supply of Fresh Blood from Burning Effigy in the mail and that means I’ve got copies for sale… So if you see me out and about, hit me up and I’ll lay one on you for a few coins. Hell, I’ll even devalue it by scribbling my nom de guerre inside. I’m crazy like that.

Seeing as how I live in the barbaric wastelands of the haunted Hoosier heartland, running across me on the borderlands might be a tough proposition. You can always order one from Burning Effigy online, or drop me an email and, through the magic of paypal, I can get a signed copy delivered to your door.

See? Service with a fanged smile.

Fresh Blood for Halloween

Posted in Archive with tags , , on October 25, 2009 by Occult Detective

In the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve, what better way to show my appreciation to my spooktacular fans than to offer them a chance to go Trick or Treating at my very own haunted house?

FreshBloodCover-webHere’s the deal… if you come up to my door and ring the bell, either by emailing me at or by posting a comment below, you will be entered to win a signed copy of FRESH BLOOD, the Burning Effigy anthology that features my tale “Mourn Not the Sleepless Children, as well as stories by Kelli Dunlap and Dave Alexander.

I’ll be drawing not one, not two, but three names at 3pm on October 31st… and as an added bonus, each winner will receive a mystery prize along with their signed copy of FRESH BLOOD.


Prizes will be shipped on Monday, November 2nd.


So what are you waiting for… FREE BOOKS await.

Shroud Magazine Reviews FRESH BLOOD

Posted in Archive with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2009 by Occult Detective

FreshBloodCover-webShroud Magazine posted a terrific review of FRESH BLOOD, the chapbook anthology I took part in, along with Kelli Dunlap and David Alexander, for Burning Effigy Press.

You can read Shroud’s entire dissection of FRESH BLOOD here.

Shroud had this to say about my contribution:

Mourn Not the Sleepless Children” is yet another very different tale. In this, occult detective and author Bob Freeman examines the myth of the banshee in Scotland’s Highlands, and he utilizes the legendary figure of “Aleister Crowley” – a renowned occultist writer and investigator – as his main protagonist. Freeman aptly delivers an atmospheric tale of dark fantasy, and he also introduces an epic character that readers will certainly want to encounter again in larger works.

In this business, putting your work out there to be read and critiqued, you learn to develop a tough skin. If not, a bad review can rip right through you and destroy your confidence, while a good review can be just as devastating, if you allow it to feed your ego.

Still, it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride when you read a glowing review such as the one offered by Shroud Magazine. I am quite fond of this story and would offer it up as one of my finest works.  To read that someone else enjoyed it is just icing on the cake. Knowing me, it’s probably a slice of devil’s food…

Giving the Devil His Due

Posted in Archive with tags , , , , on May 31, 2009 by Occult Detective

With my utmost respect to Paul, owner & editor of

From the Daily Telegraph (UK) newspaper, 30th of May comes this rather insightful article, of great import to me in that I too tend to turn to The Great Beast in my fiction, as can be evidenced by reading Ashes to Ashes (free fiction available on this site) or a couple of recent published tales, including Keepers of the Dead, “Queen’s Gambit” in Coach’s Midnight Diner, and, more importantly, my latest tale, “Mourn Not the Sleepless Children” in Burning Effigy Press’ FRESH BLOOD.

Without further ado…

The fictional lives of Aleister Crowley

The Satanist and spy Aleister Crowley has inspired a host of memorable characters in novels, finds Jake Arnott

By Jake Arnott

aleister.crowleyAleister Crowley is the archetypal villain in 20th-century fiction. Larger than life, he personified the extreme fears and disturbing desires of a new age. Poet, chess master, mountaineer, sexual adventurer, cult leader, spy, magician: all these achievements have faded. What remains is an unforgettable creature of the imagination. The “Great Beast 666”, as he was known, was never that bad, but he possessed a seductive horror that enchanted many of the most important writers of his generation. His own literary ambitions were never realised; his legacy is as a character, or rather a series of them.

WB Yeats first met him in 1899 as a fellow initiate in the Order of the Golden Dawn, a fashionable mystical society. The young Beast became indignant when the older poet appeared to snub him. “What hurt him was the knowledge of his own incomparable inferiority,” Crowley was later to comment. When a bitter schism divided the Golden Dawn, they found themselves on opposite sides, issuing curses, magical spells and even threats of violence.

Nevertheless, they shared an artistic temperament. Both sought to infuse modern verse with an occult sensibility and had apocalyptic visions for the coming century. And, though clearly the better poet, Yeats remained intimidated by the Beast’s demonic prowess. “The Second Coming” (1920) has a depiction of the Antichrist with the unmistakable silhouette of his old adversary: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last.”

By then, Crowley was firmly established as a fictional character.

magicianW Somerset Maugham’s The Magician (1908) featured the sinister Oliver Haddo, whom Maugham admitted was based on Crowley. They had both frequented the same dining club in Montparnasse. “I made my character more sinister and ruthless than Crowley ever was,” Maugham insisted. Already, the Beast was more distinct in fiction than in fact, and despite his protestations was clearly enjoying his double life. Crowley later featured in other depictions of Parisian expatriate life, including Arnold Bennett’s Paris Nights (1911) and Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast (1964).

There is some debate as to whether Crowley is the basis for the evil alchemist Karswell in M R James’s ghost story Casting the Runes (1911). This tale came at a moment when Crowley was still forming his alter-ego and there are prophetic lines in James’s yarn. Karswell is said to have “invented a new religion for himself”, which is precisely what the Beast went on to do.

By the Twenties, Crowley had done much else: travelled the world, scaled K2 in the Himalayas, experimented with drugs, practised ritual sex with men and women, been involved in espionage and published scores of poems, novels, stories, plays and books on ceremonial magic. The only thing left was to set himself up as a prophet with a temple for his disciples. This led him to the notorious Abbey of Thelema in Sicily, where one of his acolytes died of cholera after drinking animal blood in a sacrificial ritual.

“The Wickedest Man in the World”, claimed the Sunday Express. Though he led a precarious fictional life, it was reality that got Crowley into trouble, in tabloid reports and his appearance in scandalous memoirs. After initial success in suing for defamation, the Beast was finally bankrupted by a disastrous libel case in 1934. Anthony Powell was working for the publishers Duckworth at the time and he met Crowley over lunch to discuss yet another “factual” book that mentioned him. Powell came away with a sketch for two sinister characters in A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-75): Dr Trelawney, who is “hounded by the Sunday papers after a devotee had fallen to her death at a temple” and later Scorpio Murtlock.

devilridesIt was now open season on Crowley, as his legend became the stuff of gaudy thrillers. The best of these is Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out (1934), where he is clearly the Satanist Morcata. He also appears in Warwick Deeping’s Exiles (1930), HR Wakefield’s He Cometh and He Passeth By (1930), and Dion Fortune’s The Winged Bull (1935), which contains the marvellously melodramatic announcement: “London, Paris, New York, Berlin are full of all sorts and conditions of organisations experimenting and researching and playing about generally with the Unseen.”

Indeed, Crowley was playing with sects and secrecy in all these places, his life now a complex charade. He was in Berlin at the same time as Christopher Isherwood, sharing a flat with the communist con man Gerald Hamilton, who had his own fictional double in Isherwood’s Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935). Immersed in a decadent demi-monde, Crowley and Hamilton were both spying on each other for the British and German secret services respectively. Isherwood was later to use Crowley as the basis of the antihero in A Visit to Anselm Oakes (1969).

At the outbreak of war, the Beast found himself caught up in further intrigue as the occult and espionage worlds collided. Ian Fleming, working for naval intelligence in M15, contacted him with an outlandish plan to lure Rudolf Hess to Britain by using mystical enchantments and astrology. The details of this plot remain obscure, but Hess, a passionate devotee of the occult, did fly to Scotland and Fleming was keen that Crowley should interrogate him using his magical knowledge. All that is certain about this curious episode is that Crowley provided Fleming with the template for Le Chiffre, the first Bond villain in Casino Royale (1953). This was to be the final study in his lifetime and a fitting climax to the absurd double narrative of his existence. He died in 1947, addicted to heroin, morose, penniless, exhausted.

After the Second World War, Crowley’s status as the wickedest man in the world seemed faintly ludicrous, and his eligibility as a literary villain began to wane. Indeed, by the Sixties he had been reinvented as a hero to the counter-culture movement, which questioned traditional morality just as he had done. He featured on the cover of the The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album and in the lyrics of Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. He was still the consummate baddy for the old-guard novelist Powell though, who used the Beast once more, reincarnating him as the vicious cult leader Scorpio Murtlock in Hearing Secret Harmonies (1975), the final volume of his epic cycle.

arnottHe features as himself in my new novel The Devil’s Paintbrush, as a witness to the homosexual scandal of Major General Sir Hector Macdonald. His appearance is based on an actual historical event: Crowley did indeed meet the doomed Empire hero over lunch at the Hotel Regina, Paris in 1903. But, though I started with the facts, the nature of the Beast has inevitably led me astray, off on a wild night in the city of sin. So Crowley continues his merry dance between fiction and reality, only really making sense as a character of wild speculation. But he is neither villain nor hero in my book. Just a man with terrible flaws and precocious talents, a prescient embodiment of all the wicked delights and holy terrors of the modern age.


Posted in Archive with tags , , , , on May 20, 2009 by Occult Detective

FreshBloodCover-webBurning Effigy Press is extremely thrilled to announce the launch of a new offshoot to our horror chapbook line.

The series, titled FRESH BLOOD, features three terrifying tales by a talented trio of up-and-coming horror scribes.

We hope to make FRESH BLOOD a new yearly tradition.

Here’s what the inaugural edition will be offering up:

Growth Spurts (by Dave Alexander)
Twelve-year-old Kendall’s body is going through changes, and he’s not happy about it. But when a very long, mysterious hair sprouts in the middle of his chest, he discovers that there are much worse growing pains than puberty. He’s about to meet the monster within…

Left for Dead (by Kelli Dunlap)
When Susan’s 8-year-old daughter is brutally attacked, she becomes
consumed by her need for revenge but mere punishment is not enough.
Susan learns that sometimes those being given the lessons are not
those doing the learning.

Mourn Not the Sleepless Children (by Bob Freeman)
From the Highlands of Scotland comes a gothic tale of horror and
redemption, where the “Wickedest Man in the World” must stand face to
face against an unimaginable evil… an evil that hungers for human
flesh and blood.

FRESH BLOOD will be available May 29th. Watch this blog for details.

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