The Horror Collection; LGBTQIA+ Edition

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Today I’m Spotlighting the 15th Horror Collection! As you’ll know if you’ve been a regular reader, I’m a big fan of these particular collections. I’ve discovered some really great authors this way and it’s a good way to test whether you like the writing style of a new author.

Kennedy’s Horror Collection series continues with book fifteen. Once again, he has collected stories from authors from all over the world, and this time they have been selected specifically from the LGBTQIA+ community. As always, only the best made the cut, and have been gathered here for your reading pleasure. Sit back, relax, and get ready for some of the best scary stories you will read this year.

Author list:

Kevin J. Kennedy (Author, Editor), Mark Allan Gunnells (Author), Caitlin Marceau (Author), Brandon Ford (Author), Callum Pearce (Author), Michael R. Collins (Author), Lindz McLeod (Author), Zachary Rosenberg (Author), Emma K. Leadley (Author), James Lefebure (Author), Maxwell I. Gold (Author), J. Daniel Stone (Author), James Bennett (Author), Mark Young (Author), Ann Keeran (Editor) 

Meet the Authors!

Kevin J. Kennedy

Kevin J. Kennedy is a horror author, editor, and anthologist. He is also the owner of KJK Publishing.

He lives in the heart of Scotland with his wife and his three cats, Carlito, Ariel and Luna. He can be found on Facebook most days if you want to chat with him.

He fully supports LGBTQIA+ rights.

Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

Caitlin Marceau

Caitlin Marceau is a queer author and lecturer based in Montreal. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing, is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association, and has spoken about genre literature at several Canadian conventions. She spends most of her time writing horror and experimental fiction, but has also been published for poetry as well as creative non-fiction. Her work includes PALIMPSEST, MAGNUM OPUS, A BLACKNESS ABSOLUTE, and her debut novella, THIS IS WHERE WE TALK THINGS OUT. Her second novella, I’M HAVING REGRETS, and her debut novel, IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO GO LIKE THIS, are set for publication in 2023. For more, visit or find her on social media.

Brandon Ford

Brandon Ford’s published works include more than a dozen titles in the realm of horror and suspense fiction. His most recent books include The Mystery of Kelly Christopher, Progressive Entrapment, Dreams of Sharp Teeth, and Drowning in Oceans of Black. He has also contributed to a number of genre anthologies, most notably The Death Panel: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem and Stiff Things: The Splatterporn Anthology. He also hosts a weekly horror movie commentary podcast titled The Blind Rage Podcast, which can be found on iTunes and Spotify. He currently resides in Philadelphia. 

Callum Pearce

Callum Pearce is a Dutch storyteller, originally from Liverpool.

Lover of the magical as well as the macabre. He lives in a foggy old fishing town in the Netherlands with his husband and a couple of cat shaped sprites.

Starting to appear in all of the best short story and drabble collections. Much more to come.

You can follow and see what’s coming up in these places:

Michael R. Collins

Michael R. Collins was born at a very young age in the wilds of southern Idaho. After a few decades he finally got his fill of all the sagebrush and rattlesnakes he could eat so he struck out into the world. After a long stop in Austin, Texas, he currently lives in Pennsylvania with his partner Mel. He has written three books, scores of short stories, and a few alibis. (Just in case)

He also plays bass and is kind to animals and children.

Follow me on all these internet things!

Twitter: @michaelr4224




Lindz McLeod

Lindz McLeod is a queer, working-class, Scottish writer and editor who dabbles in the surreal. Her prose has been published by Apex, Catapult, Pseudopod, The Razor, and many more. Her work includes the short story collection TURDUCKEN (Bear Creek Press, 2022) and her debut novel BEAST (Brigids Gate Press, 2023). Find her on Twitter @lindzmcleod or her website 

Zachary Rosenburg

Emma K Leadley

Emma K. Leadley (they/she) is a UK-based speculative fiction writer and a queer, creative geek. They’ve had over 30 pieces of flash fiction and short stories published by independent presses, including Eerie River Publishing, Bag of Bones Press and Fox Spirit Books, and their debut science-fiction novella, Telling the Bees, is forthcoming in 2023 from NewCon Press. Publishers Weekly once described one of their stories as ‘standout’ and they were a 2019 Grindstone Literary Microfiction Winner. Emma lives in Nottingham and regularly argues with their rescue greyhound for space on the sofa. They can be found online at

James Lefebure

Aberdeen Born, Liverpool Living author who has been a fan of the horror genre since his first Goosebumps book back in the 80s.

Can often be found trading at comic cons, horror cons, and comic markets. Or reading horror and forcing his long-suffering partner to watch Candyman because “it’s a romance movie really!”

Firm believer that Jason would absolutely beat Michael in a fight!

Maxwell I Gold

Maxwell I. Gold is a Jewish American multiple award nominated author who writes prose poetry and short stories in cosmic horror and weird fiction with half a decade of writing experience. Four time Rhysling Award nominee, and two time Pushcart Award nominee, find him at

J Daniel Stone

NYC born and raised J. Daniel Stone writes urban horror with a queer focus. He sold his first story when he was 22-years-old and has since written four novels (The Absence of Light, Blood Kiss, Stations of Shadow and Daubed in Darkness), as well as a short story collection (Lovebites & Razorlines) and a novella (I Can Taste The Blood). He writes under a pseudonym to keep the wolves at bay.  

Visit him at and all socials @SolitarySpiral 

James Bennett

James Bennett is a British writer raised in Sussex and South Africa. His travels have furnished him with an abiding love of diverse cultures, history and mythology. His short fiction has appeared internationally and his debut novel ‘Chasing Embers’ was shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the British Fantasy Awards 2017. His latest fiction can be found in the well-received ‘The Book of Queer Saints’, BFS Horizons and The Dark magazine. Novella ‘The Dust of the Red Rose Knight’ comes out in March 2023 and a short story collection ‘Preaching to the Perverted’ is set to follow next year from esteemed publisher Lethe Press.

James lives in the South of Spain where he’s currently working on a new novel.

Feel free to follow him on Twitter: @JamesBennettEsq

Mark Young

Mark Young is a tropical fish from the planet Aquaria. Only when his spaceship crash landed on Earth was he compelled to document his findings in the form of (what earthlings call) horror stories. 

He now lives in a lake with his life partner – Little Red Herring Hood where they write, draw and watch too many films and watch too much TV. They also raise their adopted children: all kinds of fish and other species not indigenous to local waters. 

If you find this biography mildly amusing, a little salty, completely strange or terrifying, feel free to get hooked by his discoveries located on the interplanetary database: 

Not forgetting social docking bays: plaicehook, apistogram but not twatter (basically he doesn’t have the fishing line nor the inclination). Insert happy smiley face emoji here. 

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Nightlight Horror Fiction Podcast – Wheels and Deals by Todd Sullivan

Click on the image to listen!

This was the first time I’ve come across Nightlight Podcast but I think I’ll be back for more, this was a fantastic example of short horror fiction in Audio.

The Podcast does feature some advertisements, but that’s to fund it so you don’t have to pay, if you’d prefer not to have these then the Patreon can be joined from just $1 a month which is really not bad if you want to be a frequent listener!

I found the podcast to be recorded well, everything was clear and nice to listen to and I really liked the Narrator.

As I’ve mentioned adverts, these are not really invasive but I do think if you were frequent to the podcast it might get a little annoying, which is a good incentive to sign up. These ads pay the creators of the podcast so that they can keep bringing you stories so it’s a pretty small ask.

The story itself was brilliant, it’s a fantastically creepy story with great imagery and I love getting hold of stories that include Angels because to get a genuinely creepy Angel story (Because they’re not all sweetness and light by the way, our little idea of Angels is actually relatively far from the original concept), I loved the portrayal here and it’s been a while since I read one I liked this much.

At half an hour, this was a brilliant introduction to Todd Sullivan’s work, it’s short enough that you can listen to the whole thing even if you’re not quite sure you like it and it really wets the appetite. Based on this, I would be happy to check out more work by this Author so watch this space because it’s very possible there will be further works of his on the blog!

About the Author;

Todd Sullivan currently lives in Seoul, South Korea, where he teaches English as a Second Language. He has had more than two dozen short stories, poems, essays, and novelettes published across five countries. He currently has two book series through indie publishers in America. He writes for a Taipei web and play series that focuses upon black and African narratives. He founded the online magazine, Samjoko, in 2021, and hosts a YouTube Channel that interviews writers across the publishing spectrum.

Click the image to visit the Podcast

About the Podcast;
Nightlight is a multi-award winning horror podcast featuring creepy stories with full audio production written by Black writers and performed by Black actors. So scary it’ll make you want to leave your night light on.

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The Write Reads on Tour: Spotlight – Maybe it’s about Time by Neil Boss

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Today I’m helping to shine a spotlight on Maybe it’s About Time by Neil Boss, as part of The Write Reads Tour which will be taking place over a collection of blogs! Check out the schedule here and make sure you’re following all the blogs!

This book falls into the Satire Fiction genre and weighs in at 542 pages so plenty to keep you busy!

Here’s the Blurb;

Two people trapped in their different worlds. One by wealth and one by poverty. Twenty years working for The Firm has given Marcus Barlow everything he wants but has taken his soul in return. Finding a way to leave has become an obsession.

Claire Halford’s life hits rock bottom when she is caught stealing food from Tesco Express. Left alone by her husband with two small children and an STI, her suicide music is starting to play louder in her head.

A chance meeting brings them together. As a mystery virus from China starts to run riot across the country, their world’s collide and they find they have more in common than they knew.

Set in the early months of 2020, Maybe It’s About Time is a story about the difficulty of changing lives for the better. Starting as a funny and satirical view of the egocentric world of professional services, it gives way to a heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship that rejuvenates Marcus and Claire, giving them both hope for a better future.

And a bit About the Author;

I retired from a career in the corporate world in November 2019 with three objectives. To travel around the world and fly fish in the most exotic locations, to play my electric guitar better than I do and to write a novel that I could be genuinely proud of. The pandemic and lockdown in March 2020 put my first two objectives on hold leaving me no option but to start writing. Two and half years later, ‘Maybe It’s About Time’, my first novel, was published.

As a piece of work, I am incredibly proud of it. It makes me laugh and cry in equal measure. I am even more proud that readers seem to be enjoying it just as much and it is getting great reviews.

Travel and fly fishing has now started again, my guitar playing is improving and a sequel to ‘Maybe It’s About Time’ is planned to start in 2023!

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Spotlight! CONFIRMED SIGHTING: A Triple Cryptid Creature Feature

Click on the Cover to Pre-order!

Today I’m spotlighting this fantastic looking book! I love this cover, it’s immediately fun and intriguing and it puts me in mind of shows like Mystery Science Theatre 3000 – which I’m not suggesting the book is anything like that it’s just the image gives me that nostalgia.

So, as you can see from the cover this one features three different Authors, so lets meet them!

The Authors and their work;

First up is Bridget D. Brave, a writer and reluctant lawyer living at the edge of the Ozarks. A true Midwesterner by both birth and habit, her non-fiction and fiction can be found in various places, if one knows where to look. 

Find her recent weird-ass stuff at: and nearly everywhere online @beedeebrave

Next is P.L. McMillan, a Canadian expat living in the States, after having taught English for three years in Asia. With a passion for cosmic horror and sci-fi horror, P.L. McMillan sees every shadow as an entryway to a deeper look into the black heart of the world, meant to be discovered and explored. Infatuated with the works of Shirley Jackson, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ridley Scott, her dream is to create stories of adventure, of chills, of heartbreak, and thrills.

Visit her at her website at 

Or follow her on Twitter or Instagram: @authorPLM 

And last but not least..

Ryan Marie Ketterer is from Malden, Massachusetts. Her work can be found forthcoming in Clarkesworld, and currently in Dark Matter Magazine, Cosmic Horror Monthly, and several anthologies. She’s a fan of the weird and uncanny, and her writing draws most of its influence from the works of Shirley Jackson and Thomas Ligotti. When she isn’t writing stories, Ryan is writing code for a software startup in Boston, MA or training for another road race. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @RyanMarie47.

Check out all her weird stuff at: 

This book is available for Pre-orders now so be sure to click that Book Cover at the top there and get your orders in if you’re liking the look of this as much as I am! It will be released on June 1st and is currently priced at £3.21 at the time of writing this Spotlight – ebook only.

At 278 pages it’s a good size read but it also features the three authors with their own stories and styles so it’s also nice for some variety.

Now, I know you’re all wondering so yes, I do also have some excerpts for you to check out;

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Spotlight: Yesteryear by Stephen G Eoannou

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Today I’m helping to spotlight Yesteryear by Stephen G Eoannou, this book is due to be released in October 2023 and is 314 pages. This is already available to preorder so definitely get that done if this one interests you!

About the Author;

Click on the image to visit Stephen’s Amazon Author Page

Stephen G. Eoannou is the author of the novels After Pearl (SFWP 2025), Yesteryear (SFWP 2023), Rook (Unsolicited Press 2022), and the short story collection Muscle Cars (SFWP 2015).

He has been awarded an Honor Certificate from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Best Short Screenplay Award at the 36th Starz Denver Film Festival, and the 2021 International Eyelands Award for Best Historical Novel.

Eoannou holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and an MA from Miami University. He lives and writes in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, the setting and inspiration for much of his work.


Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!

Who was the mind behind The Lone Ranger?

It’s 1930s Buffalo, and the Great Depression rages. Playwright Fran Striker needs to write the pilot for a new radio show but, first, he must overcome writer’s block, defeat a curse, foil a plot to assassinate FDR, and recover stolen diamond rings belonging to an alcoholic boxing champion.

Who was that masked man?

Based on the controversial true-life story of Lone Ranger creator Fran Striker, Yesteryear takes us on a magical journey leading to an icon’s debut, a show that provided hope to Americans during the country’s darkest days. Populated by characters of the era—radio actor John Barrett, Mafioso Stefano Magaddino, former lightweight champion Jimmy Slattery, and president-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt—Eoannou’s latest novel breathes new life into the immortal Lone Ranger, and the man who struggled to create him, echoing the spirit of W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, Bernard Malamud’s The Natural, and Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish.

Excerpt from Yesteryear;

Striker pointed to Armbrewster, and Rossini filled the city from the Central Terminal to the Statler Hotel. Trombones rattled the bars at the Buffalo State Asylum for The Insane and the drums and cymbals woke illegitimate babies at the rebuilt Ingleside Home For Reclaiming The Erring. Bassoons and French horns drowned out Scaredy-Cat Floyd, Boom-Boom Bennett, and Kid Charlemagne at The Colored Musicians Club while piccolos, fl utes and oboes bounced off the Blocher monument and Danek’s empty cabin at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Even Don Stefano, huddled alone in a federal prison cell, heard the work of Gioachino Antonio Rossini, a fellow Italian, and wiped a tear.

Stunned families turned off their radios and looked at each other with hopeful eyes. There was someone out there helping those who needed it? Someone who righted wrongs? Who brought the guilty to justice? Maybe the crooked cops and the railroad bulls and those who had crashed the stock market would be made to answer for their crimes. Maybe houses and farms would be un-foreclosed and repossessed furniture returned. Maybe believing in this Lone Ranger and all he stood for would carry them through this Depression. They blinked and shook their heads and searched the floor, hoping that tossed silver bulleT had landed in their lives and rolled toward their feet.

Striker pressed the Off Air button and the studio erupted in cheers. Actors hugged and praised each other’s performances. Trendle and Campbell shook hands, as if they had accomplished something. Striker tilted his head and released all the smoke he’d held in his lungs. He stared at the ceiling, imagining that all the stories and characters he’d ever write were above him, beyond the ceiling and roof, floating amongst the stars waiting to find him.

Then Barrett was dragging him out of the booth to the others, who pumped his hand and smacked his back. Darcy Menifee kissed his cheek, leaving lip prints. James Connolly opened champagne, the popping cork a gunshot, and poured into outstretched coffee cups. Charles Armbrewster left The Gold Room to retrieve his fl ask hidden in the Music Library. When he returned, he announced that the switchboard was lighting up with calls praising The Lone Ranger.

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Spotlight: The Gentleman’s Choice by Blake Rudman

Click on the cover to visit HellBound Books & Learn More!

I was recently offered the opportunity to review this book and whilst I’d have liked to help, I am unfortunately having technical issues with my kindle so I’m limited for a short while to backlog or physical copies. In lieu of a review at this time, I am shining a spotlight on the book so that readers can be aware of it and learn more, if you like the look of this book please do visit the publisher’s website which is linked via the book cover.

You can also look out for reviews of this book on other book blogs, and check out social media such as twitter for the links!

Here’s the blurb;

Caught in a whirlwind of adverse publicity following a viewer’s death, the streaming show, The Gentleman’s Choice becomes the target for a sadistic killer – and it’s up to PI Vanessa Young to put a stop to it before more young women are murdered.

A sleazy internet dating show blamed for a viewer’s death, a host with a dark, secret past, and a killer with a sadistic grudge…
Someone is kidnapping and murdering previous contestants from the popular streaming show The Gentleman’s Choice – a strictly-for-adults hybrid of The Bachelor and Love Island. Private Investigator, Vanessa Young, is hired by a victim’s family to infiltrate the show as a contestant to expose and capture the killer.

Vanessa and Cole Gianni, the show’s charismatic star, begin to fall romantically for each other, until Vanessa’s plan goes terribly awry when they’re drugged and taken to a remote location to take part in their captor’s own brutal, ultimately fatal, version of The Gentleman’s Choice.

With the clock ticking toward their fateful final night, Vanessa and Cole are forced into a battle of wills to survive their tormentor and escape with their lives before it’s too late…

About the Author;

Click on the image to go to Blake Rudman’s Amazon Author Page

Blake Rudman enjoyed a former, successful career in executive management, building his own companies from the ground up. Success or not, Blake’s heart has always been in the written word, and the myriad ideas he spent much of his spare time jotting down in notebooks, Post-Its, and scraps of paper whenever the inspiration hit him. Now a breakout author of five noir thriller novels – all to be published in 2023 – Blake’s destiny of becoming a writer of some renown is well under way. When he’s not working diligently on his next novel, Blake spends quality time with his family and tropical fish.

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Release Day: Dark Tide Against the Clock

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I am very excited to be bringing you the news of Dark Tide Against The Clock today on it’s Release Day! This book includes the story ‘Septic’ by Mark Allan Gunnells.

Please do get clicking on that cover right away and get yourself a copy, I’m sure you’ve seen that I’ve reviewed Mark’s work before and very much enjoyed it so this should be an exciting addition for your reading pile.

To add a little insight into this new piece of work, I have been lucky enough to secure an interview with the man himself so please enjoy!

Interview with Mark Allan Gunnells

Hello Mark, it’s a pleasure to have you on the blog today to answer some questions about your work and promote your upcoming Novella!

So Mark, can you start by telling us a little bit about the Novella?

My novella “Septic” is set in 1988, and concerns a young man who gets trapped in a high school bathroom over Christmas break. While that might not be as concerning, someone is bound to find him sooner than later, his appendix has burst so there is a ticking time clock. Will he be able to get out in time to get to the doctor before septic shock kicks in?

What inspired you to write this one?

When I was in high school, a similar incident happened to a girl on the cheerleading squad. Only she wasn’t sick and managed to get out after a couple of hours. But thinking back on that incident inspired me to create this story.

Did you have anybody in mind for the characters or are they purely fictional?

Though a real life incident inspired the story, none of the characters are based on any real people. I created my own cast, who developed personalities all their own, and set them into motion. That’s always the most fun for me.

A lot of people like the analyse stories and other works of art and sometimes put words into the mouths of the creators, so I thought we’d get it from the horse’s mouth, does this one have a particular message?
While this piece is meant to be suspenseful and entertaining, I did have a bit of a message I suppose. The two main characters are gay, and when I grew up in the 1980s I never saw gay people depicted in the books I read or the movies I watched, especially within the horror/suspense genre. So writing this piece set in 1988, I wanted very consciously to show that we existed even then. Though mainstream society worked so hard to make us invisible (and sadly are working at that again), we were there and we were real people with emotions and full lives. It felt important for me to reflect that.

When does the Novella come out?

May 12th is the release date. “Septic” is part of the Crystal Lake Publishing book Dark Tide: Against the Clock, which also features novellas from Shane Nelson and Brandon Ford.

What’s most important to you as a writer?

Number one is having fun. When I sit down at the computer, I want to fall into the world I created and have a blast. Number two is queer representation, though that isn’t something I have to consciously think about. As a queer person, that naturally comes out because even in fiction, I’m often reflecting my own experiences.

If you had to choose one thing that you want your readers to take away from your work, what would it be?

I want my readers to be entertained above all else. Even if a story has some deeper meaning that I hope makes a reader think, I know they will never get that far if the story isn’t entertaining.

If you were a cake, what kind of cake would you be?

My husband’s pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting. It’s sweet but intense and just oh so delicious.

And to really wet your appetite if you haven’t run off to learn how to make pineapple cake.. here’s an excerpt from Septic!


I’m going to die here.

Carl Morrison huddled on the floor with his back against the wall, wedged between the sink and the toilet. The pain in his abdomen was intense but his body must have been acclimating to it, because he no longer felt like he was going to vomit.

He raised a hand, surprised and scared by how much effort that required, and swiped at his dripping face. Sweat poured from him in rivulets, soaking his hair as if he’d just stepped out of the shower, and tears streaked down his cheeks. He had never thought of himself as a crier, but then he’d never been in this much pain in his life. Not even last year when he sprained his ankle.

“Please God,” he said, even though he considered himself even less a prayer than a crier. No atheists in foxholes, he’d heard, and apparently that held true for cramped bathrooms with busted locks. “If you’re there and not just some imaginary friend, don’t let me die like this. I know I can be an ass sometimes, but I’m not a bad person. And my mother is practically a saint. It would devastate her if she lost me. It’s not like I’m asking for a miracle, for water into wine, or the raising of the dead. Just please get me—”

Carl’s words morphed into a strangled scream as the pain flared even more sharply, like a poker buried deep in his gut. He fell forward onto his hands and knees and crawled slowly toward the door, pushing aside the ceramic pieces from the broken toilet tank lid. Luckily it wasn’t far or he might not have made it. Though he had tried this several times already, he reached up with a trembling hand and twisted the knob as if testing to see if his prayer had born fruit.

Nothing. The knob turned, but the door would not open.

He fell on his side then rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling, thinking of the string of events that had to align to land him in this situation. Not just one or two unfortunate coincidences, but a domino effect of things going wrong to leave him trapped and dying here. Almost as if by some design. It was enough to make one believe in God, but not the benevolent Grandfather type he’d learned about in Sunday School as a child. But instead, some evil prick who delighted in torturing His creations.

The choices were few. Either God never existed, He was dead, or He had orchestrated all of this for His own entertainment. Carl supposed in the end it didn’t matter because it all resulted in the same end.

He was going to die here.

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Strong Female Character by Fern Brady

Click on the Cover to buy the book!

I recently came across Fern Brady after speaking to a friend who mentioned she’d been on Task Master. The conversation had come up because there’s a few ways that myself and Fern present similarly and it was suggested that I have a watch of the show.

Series 14 of Task Master had been the first time that Fern had been on television without masking, so of course certain things came across more than they may have in the past when she’s intentionally masked her autistic traits, and I immediately related to her. Having binge watched the show and then found out that she was also releasing a book I knew I had to read it.

Now this book has taken some serious dedication to read because my traitorous Kindle decided to delete the book and tell me I had finished at the end of each chapter (it’s not the book’s fault, it’s all my Kindle because it’s stupid), so I had to restart the kindle, download the book and continue each time. Luckily, stupid Kindle had remembered where I’d got to.

Despite my technical issues, I utterly loved this book. I took the opportunity each time I had to redownload it to go off and do a bit of housework and then come back so it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the material itself.

What I would say about this book is that Fern is incredibly talented in the way she sets out her memoir. This is so well written because even being true events she’s managed a really good balance of humor & emotion.

As you’ll know if you frequent my blog I’ve read a lot of books about late-diagnosed female autistics and I’ve related strongly to a lot of things in them but those women aren’t really on my level in a sense that I didn’t grow up middle class. Fern on the other hand, is from a working class background so her experiences – whilst not my own – are much more relatable.

Sadly, Fern has had a lot of trauma in her life and a lot of it is at the hands of not knowing she was Autistic. The problem is that in the time Fern grew up, it wasn’t really as understood as it is now and whilst a lot of people still don’t understand and don’t notice Autism until it’s later in life – particularly but not limited to Female Autistics, it was far worse then, so even though many of her Autistic traits made her act out in ways that should have been noticed. They just weren’t, she was simply seen as naughty and disruptive.

I feel truly privileged to have had this insight into Fern’s life, and it was quite an emotional read for me because there’s lots of things in this book that I relate to on a personal level. Whilst her main experiences which are the obvious plot points for the book are not mine, the underlying ones are mine.

The not feeling like you belong anywhere, not fitting into seemingly any group. Not understanding why this thing you’re doing that you’re sure is exactly what someone else is doing is getting a completely different reaction, and the more difficult things that I relate to, the unhealthy coping mechanisms, the meltdowns that you’ve almost managed to schedule into the time you can experience them alone, the meltdowns that you can’t contain anymore and they come out in public. Being smart at school but also ending up in the lower ability classes. I felt all of those things, and there’s a tendency when you realize that someone else has experienced some of the things you felt so alone with to feel relief.. and then guilt for being relieved that someone else has been through it.

For that reason, it took me a couple of days to process things in my head enough to sit and write this review. Beyond the actual book though, Fern made me think, and that’s the sign of a fantastic book. During and after reading the book I couldn’t help but think about my own experiences, what I would write down if I were writing a book about growing up as an undiagnosed Autistic. How obvious some of my traits are and how they were missed anyway, and the misdiagnoses I had which are all symptoms of autism in girls. I was able to reflect on some things I’d been experiencing and I was more willing to look at helping myself, and I also noticed that one of my friends had had the same voice loss issue which Fern describes experiencing so I was able to pass on some of the details of that to my friend to maybe help her overcome that. (physical voice loss, not mute).

This is why these books are so important. The sharing of experiences that so, so many people think is solely theirs. These books are educational for everyone regardless of whether they’ve experienced what’s in them, but they’re also a lifeline for those who are still experiencing it, and a possible rescue for those who don’t know why.

Read this book.

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The Write Reads Ultimate Tour – Straight Expectations by Callum McSwiggan

Click on the cover to buy the book!

Book Info

Genre: Young Adult, Queer, LGBT, Contemporary

Length: 272 Pages

Publishing: 4th May 2023




The brilliant debut novel from author, presenter and LGBTQ+ advocate Calum McSwiggan!

Seventeen-year-old Max has always been out, proud and just a little spoiled. Frustrated by the lack of romantic options in his small-town high school, during an argument with his lifelong best friend Dean, Max lashes out and says he wishes he had never been born gay.

Max gets more than he bargained for when he wakes up to find his wish has come true – not only have his feelings for boys vanished, but so has Dean.

With his school life turned upside down and his relationship with his family in tatters, Max sets out on a journey of rediscovery to find a way back to the life he took for granted, and the romance he thought he’d never have.

A deliciously romantic YA debut that’s What If It’s Us and One Last Stop!

About the Author

Calum McSwiggan (born 21 May 1990) is a British YouTuber, blogger, and online radio presenter. McSwiggan creates video content on LGBT+ issues, mental health, and sex and relationships.[2][3][4] He began creating YouTube videos in 2013 and began hosting The Calum McSwiggan Show on Fubar Radio in 2017.

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The Write Reads on Tour: The Reaper’s Quota (The Reaper Chronicles Book 1) by Sarah McKnight

The Reaper’s Quota is one of those books where I thought it sounded great, had a fleeting thought as I started where I thought maybe I wouldn’t like it, and then wolfed the rest down and ended up hungry for more.

This is such a fun book, and I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to review it. This was one of the Finalists on the BBNYA Awards which I took part in as a Panelist last year but I didn’t get given a slice of this particular pie so the fact I got another chance to shout about it has pleased me very much.

I love all of the Characters in this book and the imagery is actually fantastic. You wouldn’t think that it would have such an impact because it’s only a short book but it really makes the most of the time it has.

I really liked Big Boss, the intimidating Authority figure is presented in a brilliant way, particularly in one conversation about who he was before he became a Reaper, because it shows that even the characters who are more of a side character in the story, are three dimensional. This is something I think is important in story telling so it was nice that it was dealt with that way.

There’s a lot of character development in this book, even with the humans that the Reapers come across and I like that. Everything has been thought about and to be honest this ties into the attitude of the main character too. A Reaper, of course.

I don’t want to say too much about this book because I don’t want to spoil it with it only being short but suffice to say I’d absolutely recommend it and I will be continuing with the series.

However, as much as I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, be aware that if you read my review of book two, it may contain book one spoilers. Series’ are very difficult to review without mentioning key events at all.

I definitely enjoyed McKnight’s writing style and the events in the story so whether you like horror or not I think you’ll appreciate the theme of this story. It’s got a bit of everything for everyone.

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