Dark Divinations: Copper and Cordite


The Inspiration Behind “Copper and Cordite.”

By Ash Hartwell

Hi, I’m Ash Hartwell and I wrote Copper and Cordite.

Being English I often find inspiration in the country’s long, rich and varied history, and Copper and Cordite is no exception. In 1854, during the Battle of Balaclava, the Light Brigade charged headlong into the Russian guns. Although a military catastrophe, their action and bravery became immortalized in the poem by Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade. My grandmother used to own a house built as officer’s accommodation during the Napoleonic wars and as with all houses of this age, it had its ghosts or rather, the whole street had its ghosts. Many people have reported seeing officers, dressed in full uniform, riding down the street, some even say they can hear the horses’ hooves.

To write Copper and Cordite, I took both events and merged them into one story. If a mother could foresee her son charging into a valley of death, would she not try and stop him? At whatever cost?

I hope you enjoy my story and the many others included in this anthology. And, while you’re about it, why not check out Tennyson’s classic poem as well.

Ash HartwellAsh Hartwell has had over fifty short stories published in a range of anthologies from Stitched Smile publications to The Sinister Horror Co. JEA published a collection of his stories Zombies, Vamps and Fiends in 2015 and his first novel Tip of the Iceberg was awarded Best Horror Novel 2017 by Critters.org and made the reading list for both the HWA and BFS awards for the same year. Ash lives in the English countryside with his wife, kids and too many animals.


Chilling Chat: Dark Divinations – Ash Hartwell

DarkDivBannerAsh Hartwell has over fifty short stories published in a range of anthologies from Stitched Smile publications to The Sinister Horror Co. JEA published a collection of his Ash Hartwellstories Zombies, Vamps and Fiends in 2015 and his first novel, Tip of the Iceberg, was awarded Best Horror Novel 2017 by Critters.org and made the reading list for both the HWA and BFS awards for the same year. Ash lives in the English countryside with his wife, kids and too many animals.

How did you become interested in the Victorian era?

I have long been a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle and read the usual HG Wells/Jules Verne stories as a child. The gothic nature of literature, the image of Jack the Ripper lurking in London’s foggy streets, and the classic Hammer Horror films have all helped cement my interest in the period. I have returned to it for both novels and short stories often in my writing career. It is a period where society is advancing yet without the convenience of mobile phones and automatic weapons so stories can have a purer nature.

What is your favorite Victorian horror story?

Carmilla and Dracula are obviously in there. But there are many other tales, often serialized in the newspapers of the time, which are notable reads. Henry James, MR James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle spring to mind. The period provides rich pickings for readers of the genre and there are some very good collections available for anyone wanting to read further, obviously after reading Dark Divinations!

Do you have a favorite Victorian horror movie? 

Maybe Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) but I remember hiding behind the couch watching the classic film version of The Time Machine.

Are your characters based on real people?

No, but my grandmother lived in a house built for officers during the Napoleonic Wars. There are many ghostly sightings including officers in uniform riding down the street associated with the place. The barracks didn’t close until the 1990’s. I think that, subconsciously, my story has its roots in those sightings and stories.

Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I write an outline then career wildly off course until I have something which looks nothing like the original plan. It seems to work…sometimes! On longer pieces, I do have a story arc in mind that forms the framework of the main narrative and I try and stick to the broad parameters of that arc, but sometimes they are very broad parameters!

Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

I allow them a certain amount of free will, although I define the world and situation within which they can exercise that freedom. Some characters, through necessity, have a pre-destined path which often forms the skeleton of the story. I have allowed characters too much freedom and they have gone off on an unexpected tangent – but that never ends well for them, after all, the pen is far mightier than the sword! 

What are you most afraid of?

A global shortage of coffee! Seriously I think I worry about the future my kids will inherit. The way society has lurched in recent years, and months, has caused me to fear for the future. Do ghosts and vampires scare me, no.

What is your favorite form of divination?

I don’t think I have a favourite. Palmistry and tarot cards both interest me as does the idea of an old crone dispensing words of wisdom from her hovel. I think it’s a case of horses for courses – and if you can predict the winner then lets me know!

Who is your favorite horror author?

Joe Hill and Adam Nevill of the current crop spring to mind, but Edgar Allan Poe, James Herbert, Neil Gaiman and Richard Laymon could all lay a claim.

What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

I have just signed a contract with Terror Tract Publishing for my second novel. A Cursed Bloodline will, hopefully, appear during the summer (2020) and is set in Victorian England. Witches, demons, a religious artifact from the crusades and an ancient curse; what more do you need?


Apparition and The Void

The featured author for  episode 80 of Horror Addicts is Michaelbrent Collings and at the end of the podcast you can hear the first chapter of his latest book Appartition. Apparition is a hard core supernatural horror novel that is going to scare the hell out of you. I don’t even need to say to much about this book because when you hear the first chapter your going to want to buy it.

This book has everything that you would want in a horror novel, a spooky house, ghosts and an evil entity that possesses parents and makes them kill their children. The story is about a a father named Shane and his two kids trying to build a new life after Shane’s wife Kari tries to kill their two kids. The family moves into a new home that has a dark past. Shane and the kids start to hear footsteps and see hings that shouldn’t be there. Then Shane starts to have feelings about killing his children that he has a hard time controlling.

Apparition is well written and extremely scary. Each chapter starts off with a diary entry about someone that killed their children which adds some realism to the book. This is the thing that made the book hard to read for me the concept of killing your own children is a hard one to deal with and I found myself cringing quite a bit while reading it.

If you look at horror as something that is supposed to make you look at the dark side of life and make you deal with it then you will really enjoy this book.  Also at the end there is an afterword by the author that explains what he was thinking when he wrote it and and why he wrote it which really helped me to understand the main idea of the book.

Some of the things I really enjoyed in this book was the opening chapters when you know whats going through Kari’s mind as she contemplates killing her children. I also liked finding out how the rest of the family deals with it. There is also a great scene with a Ouija board that was absolutely chilling. Just when you think its not going to get scarier there is a scene at an insane asylum that out does it. From there it is a roller coaster ride right up to a shocking ending.

My favorite part of this book wasn’t the scenes with the ghosts in it, it was reading about how the family deals with what they’re going through. I like hearing how Shane feels he doesn’t deserve a good family or a loving wife. Despite his feelings he does the best he can for his family. He also talks about how after the effects of the first two chapters he sees his wife as being a better person then she really was and since he sees her that way he is forgetting how she really was as a person. I was really hoping Shane would get a happy ending. I also liked how his daughter acts like she hates everyone but then thinks to herself: “why do I act this way, I don’t hate my family,” but she cant tell them that. Despite their circumstances you see they love each other and they just want to get back to the normal life they had before the events of the first chapter.

The next book I want to talk about is The Void by Brett J. Talley and it has a very different setting. The year is 2169 and Aiden Conner has just woken up on a space ship he is not familiar with and he doesn’t remember how he got there. Aiden was working on a transport ship that had a mysterious accident while traveling at warp speed.

In the future, man has mastered space travel, but when their ship goes to warp all crew members have to go into a sleep chamber and sleep until the ship comes out of warp. The downside of this is while sleeping the crew dreams and for some people on a ship the dreams are enough to drive them insane. While sleeping through warp, the crew sees the same dream every time. Some dreams tell of the future, some of the past, some are terrifying and a few people actually enjoy their dreams.

After the accident Aiden finds he can’t get a job on any other ship. That is until Captain Caroline Gravely comes along and hires him to work upon her ship, The Chronos. Caroline has waited a long time to command her own ship and she has assembled a six person crew with very diverse backgrounds. She also has her own problems with the dream state during warp drive. The rest of the crew also has their own issues and none of them are looking forward to what will happen when they enter warp. To make matters worse when they drop out of warp they are surrounded by black holes and find a long lost abandoned ship.

I loved the concept for The Void.  This is a good horror story with a science fiction background. Brett J. Talley does a great job giving a scientific explanation to how the space ships travel, how gravity is created for a ship and what is happening when a ship travels at warp speed. I also liked how all the crew member’s dreams were described and how there was a little mystery to what all of their dreams mean and how the dreams effect each person. It was a nice touch how all the dreams we’re very different and despite the fact that everyone fears the dream state not all of the dreams were bad.

I found myself thinking The Void would make a great movie that could satisfy both horror and science fiction fans. Brett J. Talley has done an excellent job bridging two genres. Brett has one another novel from Journalstone press called That Which Should Not Be which will make Lovecraft fans very happy.