Guest Blog: Adam L. Bealby on Alice in Wonderland

Adam L. Bealby on Alice in Wonderland

She went on growing, and growing, and very soon had to kneel down on the floor: in another minute there was not even room for this, and she tried the effect of lying down with one elbow against the door, and the other arm curled round her head. Still she went on growing, and, as a last resource, she put one arm out of the window, and one foot up the chimney, and said to herself `Now I can do no more, whatever happens. What will become of me?’

I’ve always had a bit of Alice in my life.

When I was a kid I enjoyed the feeling of being trapped. Yeah, I know. Weirdo, right?

At night I would wrap myself up in my duvet and pile a load of pillows, cushions and covers on top of that, seal off any stray air vents, and pretend I’d been caught in a freak landslide, or fallen down a hole into a deep crevice. I would lie in my fabricated womb of cotton and eiderdown, growing increasingly hot and dizzy as the oxygen thinned out, as the sweat dappled my skin, and I would lull myself into a meditative state, away from the troubles of the real world.

Because it was either that or panic. The idea of actually being trapped filled me with dread. It still does.

Descent? That film was terrifying before the monsters turned up.

Which leads me to why I like the Alice in Wonderland books so much. They’re a characteristic attempt to enter the dream world, much more successful than my artificial womb. They also have a claustrophobic atmosphere that no amount of weighted quilts could hope to emulate.

My Alice-inspired story “Alice’s Scars” is out now from HorrorAddicts.net Press. It’s about a guy who meets a gal and they fall in love. Only the gal is all messed up and leads him down the rabbit hole into her abusive past – one in which she retreated into a Wonderland fantasy.

At any moment the dream could turn into a full-on nightmare, and there’s something primordial and intoxicating about gazing into the abyss isn’t there?

Or maybe I was just a weirdo-kid. I also enjoyed pushing my thumbs into my closed eyes and watching the black and white kaleidoscope whirl of jagged shapes…


Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars by Adam L. Bealby now available at Amazon.com

Adam L. Bealby writes fantasy, horror and weird fiction for both adults and children. His short stories and comic work have been published in numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Pagan (Zimbell House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon a Scream (HorrorAddicts.net), Sirens (World Weaver Press), World Unknown Review Vol. 2, rEvolution (MiFiWriters) and Murky Depths magazine. He lives in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and three children, and a harried imagination. Catch up with his latest ravings at @adamskilad.

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Guest Blog: A Bit ‘a Alice by Adam L. Bealby

A Bit ‘a Alice
By Adam L. Bealby

“Nurse! Do let’s pretend that I’m a hungry hyena. And you’re a bone!”

I’ve always had a bit of Alice in my life.

When I was eight I was with my gran in a supermarket when I saw a tower of stacked bread baskets, perhaps thirty feet high, just beginning to totter. Naturally, I ran over to prop up the leaning tower with tiny hands enticed to noble action. Buttressed from the base, the top of the tower continued its inexorable fall, but so unhurriedly I had time to take in the enormity of my error, to calmly consider my impending doom. Time sped up only as it dawned on me I should be using this god given grace to get the heck out of there. Time sped up so quickly, in fact, that the tower bore down on me with a malicious grinning ferocity, getting bigger as I got correspondingly smaller, consuming me in a sudden landslide of plastic.

Whereupon, and wherein, I began to have an asthma attack. A shop attendant pulled me out by the scruff of the neck and there was much panic and flapping and attention focused my way. With my gran in attendance, belligerently calling the shots (“My Adam could have died as a result of your negligence!”), we were whisked up to the canteen, where I was fed buttered toast and milk (“It’s free, you know,” Gran whispered, “So you better have another slice.”)

Of course, looking back now the baskets couldn’t possibly have been stacked thirty feet high. Time didn’t slow down; it didn’t speed up. The tower was neither grinning, nor malicious; it just was. It didn’t grow bigger, it came closer, and that made me feel small and vulnerable, and I was shocked and probably a bit embarrassed to be knocked off my feet, and that made me wheezy.

All of these subversions of memory are the result of my having been an eight-year-old kid, making sense of the world through a child’s eyes. They’re also subversions employed in the Alice books, of course. Lewis Carroll was appropriating a child’s eye view – the eyes of Alice Liddell – when he first concocted, narrated, no doubt embellished-in-the-telling, a story that so mesmerised his young charge she persuaded him to write it down. That first manuscript came to be known as Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.

Primeval stuff we tend to be closer to when we’re younger, that fades into the wonderland of the unconscious as we enter into adulthood – that’s the power of the Alice books. Or one of their powers at least.

An epilogue of sorts. As I was hoicked from the bread basket wreckage I heard an incredulous voice. A witness, drowned out, thankfully, by a tidal wave of well-meaning intentions:

“He pushed it! I saw him, he did!”

But I never did.


Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars by Adam L. Bealby now available at Amazon.com

Adam L. Bealby writes fantasy, horror and weird fiction for both adults and children. His short stories and comic work have been published in numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Pagan (Zimbell House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon a Scream (HorrorAddicts.net), Sirens (World Weaver Press), World Unknown Review Vol. 2, rEvolution (MiFiWriters) and Murky Depths magazine. He lives in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and three children, and a harried imagination. Catch up with his latest ravings at @adamskilad.

An Interview with Horror Bites Author, Adam L. Bealby

An interview with
Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars author,
Adam L. Bealby.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always loved writing! When I was about ten I was obsessed with thinking up zany characters and concocting outlandish situations for them, plotting be damned. Political correctness and copyright also be damned. I lived in a fairly closed-minded ex-mining community, and I was as naïve as a barefoot pilgrim. So in the mix was a crippled baby clown, an Indian taxi driver called Curry (ooff!); as well as a couple of characters from an obscure British Marvel comic book I liked, and a lengthy character-jamboree sequence stolen from (we’d call it ‘parodying’ these days) the third Star Trek movie, entitled The Search for Bogart.

 

Actually, there’s something to be said for liberating yourself from social (and literary) mores and graces when you’re writing. I don’t think poor Curry will be making a comeback any time soon, though…

Who were the biggest influences on your writing?

I’m a huge fan of Michael Moorcock. I like the idea you can write about anything, and that there’s really no barrier between high literature and genre writing. Be bold and brave and go where your imagination leads you!

I’m also very impressionable and tend to be influenced by whatever book I happen to be reading. I have to make a concerted effort when I’m writing to find my own voice, or a voice that suits the story, and not appropriate the stylistic traits of other writers. Although I was impressed with a rather nasty little story I wrote off the back of my time with a Chuck Palahniuk anthology! It won’t be seeing the light of day any time soon, but as a taboo-breaking exercise it was very therapeutic!

What is “Alice’s Scars” about?

It’s about a guy who meets a gal and they fall in love. Only the gal is all messed up and leads him down the rabbit hole into her abusive past – one in which she retreated into a Wonderland-inspired fantasy.

What inspired “Alice’s Scars”?

The first book I ever bought my wife was the collected Alice works. It was the first year of Uni and I even wrote a loving dedication in the frontispiece. That was over twenty years ago. So when I heard the call for Clockwork Wonderland, the HorrorAddicts.net anthology “Alice’s Scars” was originally written for, I knew I had to mine the first few months of our burgeoning relationship for inspiration.

I’ll say now that my wife isn’t Alice/Katie, the main character in “Alice’s Scars.” She’s much more together than that! When I asked her what was in her drawstring purse that first night, it proved to be money, not a rabbit’s foot – which is clearly completely different.

Many of the scenes in the story do riff off people and situations from my Uni days, including an episode in which I merrily chased a distraught girl through the night. But enough of that.

Did you have to do any research for the story?

Just a quick flick through the Alice books, really. The same collected works I bought for my wife all those years ago! As I said, there’s a lot of real life in there, jumbled up with the stuff-I-thunk-up, and that feels like a good compromise for a story about the grey areas between reality and fiction.

What are your favorite things to write about?

Psychological horror, especially the type of story where you can lead the reader to question what’s real and what’s not. I also like writing rollicking adventures for kids – it makes a nice change of pace.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing a book about a suicide cult, alternating between research and drafting short ‘suicide vignettes’, which will be interspersed between the chapters of the main story. My internet search history makes for worrying reading. Let’s see: ‘I want to commit suicide’, ‘slitting your wrists’, ‘suicide bag’, ‘I want to drink anti-freeze’, ‘experiences of depression’, ‘suicide and reincarnation’…

I really hope I can do the subject justice. I’m very proud of how some of the vignettes are turning out.

Where can people find you online?

Many of my stories are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Adam-L. -Bealby/e/B01EE49YWW.

You can also catch up with my sporadic ravings at @adamskilad.

Clockwork Wonderland Author Guest Blog Post: Jaap Boekestein

The Tick, Tock Story

By

Jaap Boekestein

Like any text nowadays: spoilers ahead! Those who enter with be corrupted with knowledge.
I need to write. When I don’t write, when I don’t create I get unhappy and I die a little inside. The never-ending urge to evade death by creating. Dear Sigmund no doubt would have had to say some interesting things about that. Or not, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Now am I in the happy circumstances I can purely write for fun. I make my living by doing things to computer systems and that allows me to be a non-commercial writer, photographer, and illustrator in my spare time. So basically I can be totally selective in what I write. For me, the theme for an anthology or magazine must be interesting, challenging or fun. Not too broad, not too restrictive and it must take me places in my mind I haven’t visited before.

Basically every evening I check a bunch of websites for interesting calls for short story submissions. When and where I first learned of Clockwork Wonderland I really can’t tell. Probably a few websites at the same time because there usually is a fair amount of overlap.
Alice in Wonderland…
Horror…
Time…

Now, that is interesting, I thought. Alice in Wonderland with Horror. ‘Real Horror’ said the submission if my memory serves me well.
Ah! And Time.
Aha!

Now does Alice in Wonderland lend itself easily for satire, adventure, humor even erotica (or porn, but you can turn everything into porn), but horror? For a good horror-story the reader needs to feel for at least one character. The reader must care so you can take grab that feeling by hairs and push it slowly towards the rotating blade of a lawnmower. (The blade is rusty, you feel the wind, you hear the engine. Slowly, slowly. You fight and scream, to no avail. What will be first? Your nose? How much will it hurt? And will that evil bastard push on, slicing up your face, breaking your jaw? How long will you feel before you pass out?). Yes, it is a dirty job to be a horror writer, but somebody has to do it. Sweet sadists like yours truly for example.

Anyway, I just didn’t see myself building up Alice as a character to care for. Way too much luggage, too many clashing images I had to overcome. Too many movies, books and games with Alice as the heroine. No, that wouldn’t do at all. But of course Alice needed to be a major character in the story, so I decided to make her the villain. What would happen to Alice when she was all grown up? A nasty, bloodthirsty, manipulative, murderous lady clad like a bad ass Dominatrix? Sure, why not. Always fun to write about your dream lady ;-).

The easiest way to get your readers to feel for a character is to use the love story. Or a slightly crooked but still sympathetic character. So I used both. Shot both barrels, so to say. Now I had the love story, I had Alice as the Big Evil, but I still needed to incorporate Time.

My twisted mind conjured up an image of a huge clock working like a kind of guillotine. Yes, I definitely would use that! Still, that was not enough. Time had to be part of the story, from the first to the last second. How?

Getting ideas for a story is just asking yourself a bunch of questions and finding original answers. It is not a big secret.
Anyway, when did Time play a role in the original stories?
Duh, right from the beginning! One white rabbit with a watch, remember?
Yes! But what to do with that nugget?
Well… I considered introducing Father Time somewhere, but the Alice movie that just came out around that time used that same idea. So no, that was out. Time, time, time…

That watch. What if it was a huge watch with people running around on it?
Or… What if it was a normal watch with a lot of tiny people running around on it? And when our heroes were hiding on that watch?
The story was born.
So dear reader, I hope you will enjoy or have enjoyed my story.
Let me know if you want more.
You can trust me.
I am a horror writer.
I will start the lawn mower.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493493560&sr=8-1&keywords=clockwork+wonderland

 

Jaap Boekestein

http://jaapboekestein.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/jaapboekestein.com

http://www.moordenmysterie.eu/

http://www.wonderwaan.info/

 

Clockwork Wonderland Author Guest Blog Post: Michele Roger

 

Alice in Wonderland: the Bridge Between Reality and Fantasy

By

Michele Roger

 

It’s a Fine Line

           I discovered Lewis Carol and “Alice in Wonderland” later than most children.  While many of my friends tell me they read it with parents as a childhood bedtime story, I didn’t read the classic tale until high school.  Admittedly, by the time it was assigned to me, I was resentful.  Why was an Honors English class reading a kids book?

 

Thankfully, I was a goody-two-shoes and wanted to impress my teacher.  I dug into the story, assuming it would be a quick read, an easy paper and take me that much closer to kicking off my Spring Break.  Like so many things in my teenage life, I was wrong.  Alice in Wonderland consumed me.  It resembled many aspects of my real life and the people in it.  Epiphany hit me somewhere in the wee hours of the drive from Michigan to Florida as I sat reading in the car on a family Spring Break trip in April of 1988.  I was suffering the microcosm of my dysfunctional family crammed in the confines of a compact Ford Escort for eighteen hours when it hit me.  Lewis Carol took the extreme personalities of people he must have met somewhere in his life and turned them into the most fantastic creatures/characters to help tell a story.

 

I knew people like the caterpillar. I had parents of friends who smoked hash and made it look enlightening.  Caterpillar people loved parties, where jazz played softly in the background and martinis, were served in the library or study where guests could check out all of the books they had read.  These same people rarely spoke to their kids (my friends), drove expensive cars and paid for things with large wads of cash from their wallet.  All the while, they seemed to sit in a lofty leather chair and do nothing.  How they made their money was a mystery to me.  Caterpillars seemed addicted to the excitement of impending metamorphosis and bragged about their state of great change, telling their children they should aspire to it.  In reality, caterpillar people never turned into anything beautiful; much to the disappointment of their children.  I, on the other hand, thought they were entertaining.

 

The rest of that sophomore year and through my first summer job, I decided to find fantasy characters in my own reality.  There was no option out with a glass that said, “Drink me”,  to avoid driving in a hatchback with my parents, younger sister and two German shepherds to go places.  Heading to summer family events certainly felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole at sixteen.  I had the same tumbling feeling when I got my first summer job testing water samples and writing mind-numbing reports for the State of Michigan.

 

Mad Tea Party

The summer of 1988, I met my own personal Cheshire at a beach party. While drinks were flowing under the cover of darkness, I was drunk on a boy. One part bad boy, one part overwhelmingly charming and kind, stunningly handsome one minute, gone the next, not to be seen for weeks; leaving me with the memory of his smile.  He was well read but only shared his love of books quietly, unlike the caterpillars.  As I waited for him to materialize, I read books in his absence, hoping it would give us a chance to have something to talk about.

With all of the reading of classics and sci-fi, something inside me stirred, I was afraid to leave the safety of summer and high school.  Wonderland, Orwell’s versions of earth, the worlds of Omni magazine short stories had become a refuge.  Every college application, scholarship essay and step towards graduation, college and looming adulthood threatened to take my fantasy characters and imaginary places away.  My parents were pushing hard that I change my major from special education to law.  Secretly, I longed to be a writer.

One simply didn’t spring changing my parents well thought plans for my future.  They had their hearts set on a family lawyer.  I couldn’t just change and be a writer. Suggesting such a thing took cunning and skill.  I took an assessment test and had it sent to my mother at home so she would open it.  I waited until the weekend when I knew the cocktails would be flowing and pressed her about my results.  In reality, the school librarian had already informed me of the results, but I wanted to present my case with hard evidence.

As she stirred her drink, prepping dinner, she told me that she nor my father believed in such tests.  It said I should become a writer or a journalist.  Everyone knew girls couldn’t make any kind of living doing either of those things.  All the big work went to men.  I sighed.

 

Return to the Realm of the Queen of Hearts

It’s fair to say that I didn’t understand the Queen of Hearts and the notion of yelling, “Off with their heads!” until I heard my inner motherhood scream, “if I see that kind of behavior again, young lady, heads will roll.”  Fast forward to 2009, I was a mother of young teenagers and unknowingly, I had returned to Wonderland.

As an act of preparation for life, I read Alice in Wonderland to my kids.  We had moved into an old farmhouse in the country.  It was easy to see the characters that real people could be. Raising teenagers required escape.  I began to write, using everything I had learned from my trips down the rabbit hole.  Parenthood was the white rabbit, always in a hurry but never the less, magical and maddening and a beautiful chaos.  Lines between reality and fantasy were blurred from exhaustion but it made life all the more like Alice’s; adventurous and full of discovery.  Three novels and one children’s book later, I am thankful for Lewis Caroll.  I would have made a lousy lawyer anyways.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493493560&sr=8-1&keywords=clockwork+wonderland

 

Michele Roger is the author of the Sci-Fi novel, “Dark Matter” (2009), “The Conservatory” (2013) and “Eternal Kingdom: A Vampire Story” (2015).  She is also the author of the “Mr. Kiwi” Children’s book series under her pen name, Michele Beresford.  When she isn’t writing, she is a harpist; performing and teaching in Detroit.

https://www.amazon.com/Michele-Roger/e/B00FJQIMJ6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1492955702&sr=1-5