Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vampires Don't Cry: Original Sins... a brand new start to our Vampire world.

News, hot off the press;
As April showers splash the world with a taste of spring, the editors at Hallanish Publishing have been doing the same... slaving over the midnight oil, putting the finishing touches to our latest volume; "Vampires Don't Cry: Original Sin".

It's the introduction of a few new characters, and involves a few old ones too....
Valérie Berthier (in VDC4: Blood Red Roses) is born into a world of strife and confusion. Torn from her mother’s womb, she is ultimately forced to accept that her view of the world is unique; she was born a vampire. From Italy to America she battles an asylum life, until the day she breaks free. But even as a vampire, there are consequences in life.
Theresa (Finch), a brand new character to VDC, is an average New Jersey high school senior until she’s smitten by the latest vampire in class. Rocked by the transformation process, she turns to Valérie to help her through. 
In the midst of a vampire turf-war, the two are soon separated, but Valérie refuses to accept her lot, determined to get out of her drudge-like life  and re-unite with her vampire friend.
VDC: Original Sin is a two voice epic that spans a century and two continents.
Ian writes as Theresa (Finch) Scholes; a very determined teenager, forced to grow up quick in the violence of a vampire world.
April writes as Valérie Berthier; born a vampire, with the words of her mother still ringing in her head, guiding her through a tumultuous life.
Twisting and turning, Valerie and Finch find themselves drawn to an inescapable climax against two of the oldest vampires alive.
Yes, they have skill and training, but will it be enough to avoid defeat and ensure surv
Available soon at all good eBook stores.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pinkerton Detective Agency is Scottish!

Pinkerton, left, with President Abraham Lincoln

Who knew that Allan Pinkerton, the head of the greatest private detective agencies, was born in Glasgow, Scotland?
Born in the Gorbals, where the Glasgow Central Mosque is now, in 1819, just four years after the Battle of Waterloo.
Pinkerton is Scottish? before delving into research for my newest novel, I certainly didn’t know that.
And he was a bit of a rebel, a hot head… well coming from the Gorbals, I don’t doubt it. He secretly married a Glasgow singer, and then, finding out that politics were far better in the colonies, sailed to America.
He settled in Dundee, Illinois, near Chicago, but couldn’t keep politics out of his life. He campaigned for the Chicago Abolitionists and was so vehemently anti-slavery that his home was a part of the famous “Underground Railroad” which provided help, safety and security for runaway slaves. It is estimated that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had been saved by this network of such safe houses. He was the first detective appointed in Chicago.
He formed the North-Western Police Agency, which later became Pinkerton & Co, the famous detective agency.

During the American Civil War he invented/developed the art of surveillance, and following subjects.
During the American Civil War he invented/developed the art of the spy; going behind enemy lines for information.
During the American Civil War he formed the Presidential protection group, and saved President Abraham Lincoln from an assassination attempt.
During the American Civil War, his “Intelligence Service” became the basis for the US Secret Service.
After the war, he farmed out his talents to the highest bidders; the railroads, and foiled many robbers such as the Reno gang and Jesse James.
When he died, in 1884, he was working on a brand new idea; a national database for criminal cases. What a man ahead of his time.
And Scottish! Who would have known?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Stovies; a Traditional Scottish Dish from Left-overs

Stovies is a traditional Scottish dish, basically made from the left-overs of another meal.
There is a possibility that the word Stovies comes from the French "étouffée", to steam, and it would make for a good piece of table trivia, but no one can be certain. Personally I doubt it.
It is, however, commonly accepted that it was originally a Monday dish, re-hashing the left-overs of an extravagant Sunday roast, and that would lead to the meat content in most of the recipes.
So for the traditional Monday cooking, it is based in the old beef gravy, and all the components are either cooked I this gravy or heated up in it. Because of this, every component of the dish soaks in the gravy, heightening the taste.
To recreate the dish from scratch, in its very basic form, we have beef gravy, onions, potatoes.
That’s the basis of the dish, and many would argue that’s it… don’t add anything else. That’s the way some households made the dish. However, that’s not holding up the traditional conception of using up left-overs. In the old days of the dish’s history, any addition would be based on whatever left-overs you had, added to the mixture and heated up.
In our house, to add meat/proteins, my mum would brown some minced beef, and sliced or chopped sausage. I’ve also heard of chicken, turkey and more commonly corned beef (Popular at the time, tinned/canned).
Adding vegetables also enhances taste, and keeps the traditionalists happy; my mum added chopped carrots and turnip/rutabaga.
I put these additions on a Scottish Facebook site recently, and got all kinds of friendly, yet vehement comments. Seems everyone had their own version, and that became a family tradition. And anything different from the home favorite is sacrilege.
But whatever the mixture above, the bulk of the dish is potatoes; perhaps two to five times the quantity of the rest of the pot; anything to eke out the left-overs and feed the family. Cooked real slow as to not burn the contents at the bottom of the pan, it simmered for a good hour, gently bringing the dish to fruition.
I even remember mum sometimes putting a potato masher through it, just to make it more mushy.
In my house I always garnished the steaming plate with some kind of ketchup, or broon or fruity HP sauce.
It makes a bit of a mockery of the dish’s primary intent to see it included in some Scottish fine dining restaurants, but I’ve seen cod or mackerel used as the protein, served with a fresh salad, hot oatcakes and beetroot.
 But it gets worse, there’s even a casserole version, topped with roasted cheese. “Serve with a sprinkling of chopped chives or parsley”…
OH PLEASE. Stick to the basics, and it’ll be braw.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Free Book Giveaway - Vampires AND Three Free eBooks


A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur’s Court by Ian Hall

Vampires Don’t Cry:Blood Anthology by Ian Hall & April L. Miller

Win signed copies of two of my most popular paperbacks AND any 3 of my eBooks- your choice!

Visit our friend Aquariann’s blog to enter now through Jan 25, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Traditional Scottish Lentil Soup Recipe (Curried or Low Carb)

In these surprisingly chilly days of winter, there's nothing to warm you belly better than a hearty soup, and this Scottish Lentil Soup recipe is a cracker!
And it's a healthy choice, too.
'LowCarb' tip? Substitute potatoes with 1/2 cauliflower; tastes just the same but a much lower carbohydrate level.
So let's get souping!
Ingredients; 1lb carrots, 1 lb Rutabaga (turnip/neeps), 1lb potatoes, 4oz RED lentils, 1 Onion, 4 chicken stock cubes (if in the USA, buy Knorr Pollo mexican, they're cheaper.... see, told you I was Scottish)
(For Tomato and Lentil soup, just add two tins chopped tomatoes at the start, and reduce water by 1 pint)
Method; Bring to boil 3 pints of water with the stock cubes. Chop Carrots, Rutabaga, and onion; add to the boiling stock, cover, and boil sharply for an hour. Turn down the heat, add chopped Potatoes and RED lentils, boil gently for an hour, stirring frequently.
Technically, the soup is now ready to eat, but to add that 'traditionally Scottish' feel, we have to make it a bit 'mushier'.
So; liquidize half of the soup. Just half. You can do it with a full food processor, or just a plunge blender.
Now... That's the soup ready..... for wimps!
(Or traditionalists; The soup is actually ready to eat at this point, and totally traditional Scottish fare.)
Now for the 'special' ingredients;
You can add....... 2 tablespoons curry powder..... for Curried Lentil Soup.
You can add....... 5 tablespoons curry powder..... for REALLY Curried Lentil Soup.
You can add....... a huge dollop of A1 sauce, Worcester sauce, (or any other stuff you might think appeals).
Parmesan cheese is good, ginger spice, turmeric, saffron, absinthe, ground mammoth tusks, whatever warms the cockles of your heart.
And whatever you do, DON'T listen to the idiots that think you can make this with any old lentils.... I'm a Manchester United Supporter.... THEY HAVE TO BE RED LENTILS!!!
(Please trust me on this... I don't have shares in the "Red Lentil Co.")
This recipe and many more are available in my soup books Soup Yourself Slimmer, Skinny, Sexy, and Controlling Diabetes.
Both are on eBooks everywhere... click the images.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kevin Turvey Interviews the Connecticut Time-Travelling Vampire

Connecticut Vampire Series, Book 1

Richard DeVere, the time-travelling vampire from A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur's Court, interviewed by Kevin Turvey.
Me; Hello, and welcome to the newest edition of Kevin Turvey Investigates. I’m here today to interview Richard DeVere, who claims to have gone back in time to “Olde England”. Yeah, really. Richard, it’s a pretty far out claim. How many times do you say you’ve been back in time?
DeVere; That’s a tough one, I mean, I’ve been back more than sixty times, but at this present time I’m not sure I’ve kept an accurate count.
Me; Well there have been three novels written about your exploits; it’s all recorded, written down, that should make it pretty easy to count.
DeVere; Three novels right now, yes, but there’s been sixteen written altogether.
Me; Sixteen? Wow, your writer friend has been busy. Why haven’t they all been published?
DeVere; Because right now they’re not written yet, of course.
Me; Not written yet?
DeVere; No, it takes a couple of years for his writing to catch up with my exploits, but he does it quite well; roughly a novel every three months for four years. We finished four years from now.
Me; Eh, you used the past tense there, you said ‘finished’.
DeVere; Yes, in your present, which is my past, they’re not finished yet. In my present day, which is about four years from now, they’re finished.
Me; So you say right now, here in the studio, is actually in your past?
DeVere; Yes, my past and present. You see, I wasn’t actually consulted when this interview got scheduled, I was in 1709 at the time, and a bit of 1553 again. So when I found out about the interview, basically I had to travel back as shallow as I could, then just float forward to your present day, to arrive here on time.
Me; You travelled back in time to get here… to live to my ‘Present Day’.
DeVere; Yes, just to 1716 as it turned out, so not long to wait in the giant scheme of things. It’ll all sort itself out; time-travel constantly throws up these inconsistencies.
Me; So with all this time-travelling, and waiting, eh, floating, how old are you? How many years have you ‘lived’ through?
DeVere; Oh, many thousand probably.
Me; And yet you don’t look a day over twenty-five.
DeVere; One of the benefits of being a vampire.
Me; Eh, okay, I’ll press on. The first novel; “A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur’s Court”, you didn’t go back to Arthurian times. So why ‘King Arthur’ in the title?
DeVere; Publisher’s decision, I’m afraid; we needed to keep close to Mark Twain’s title as we could, so it’s a kinda play on words. King Henry the Seventh’s eldest son, Arthur, never actually got to be ‘King’, but I tried everything I could to change history.
Me; So you actually tried to change history?
DeVere; Yes.
Me; Isn’t that dangerous?
DeVere; We’ll never know. Every time we look back, we see a fixed history; it doesn’t change. But every time I did manage to ‘change’ history, we never see what I’ve done, the past fixed history still looks fixed.
Me; But you’d know the changes.
DeVere; Yeah, but I wouldn’t admit them to anyone. I’d just look silly.
Me; Try me.
DeVere; Okay, eh, Queen Elizabeth didn’t always beat the Spanish Armada, she lost three times before I got involved.
Me; But there’s no mention of that anywhere.
DeVere; That’s because we put it right again, a Spanish speaking world is not a easy place for me to live.
Me; Why not?
DeVere; Because my Spanish is terrible.
Me; (laughs) You could have just made all that Spanish Armada stuff up.
DeVere; And that proves my point. Any changing of history has to be kept secret by me. There’s no point in telling anyone. You either think I’m just being smart, or don’t believe me because there’s never any proof. That’s why I don’t mention it.
Me; Okay, I’m beginning to catch on. What’s the main difference between Tudor England and the present day? Eh, my present day.
DeVere; Electricity, and showers.
Me; Ah, ye olde one bath a year thing?
DeVere; Precisely.
Me; And yet despite their lack of cleanliness, you claim to have had sex with most of the ladies of the day?
DeVere; Only the ones further up the food chain, and you have to remember I’m a vampire, so sex is part and parcel of what I am.
Me; But the Queens…
DeVere; Wait! No spoilers for those still to read the books. Let’s not let my sex-capades out of the bag.
Me; Of course. Who’s the most impressive person you’ve ever met, you know, back there?
DeVere; Without doubt, Queen Elizabeth the First.
Me; And why’s that?
DeVere; She’s just a fantastic woman, such a strong character in such turbulent times. Her presence of mind in her later years was a joy to watch.
Me; And the most evil person? The worst bad guy?
DeVere; Wow, evil’s a big word. Probably Oliver Cromwell, he had a darker side than any of the history books ever let on to. Although a couple of Archbishops of Canterbury have run him close at times.
Me; You’ve met Oliver Cromwell?
DeVere; Yes, in volume eight.
Me; Published when?
DeVere; About two years from now, if I remember rightly, same year as the movie rights were bought by Disney.
Me; Movie rights?
DeVere; On the big screen for Christmas. My Christmas, not yours.
Me; Of course. Wow. Do you think it will go well?
DeVere; It already did.
Me; In your present day.
DeVere; There can be only one. The first movie went blockbusters. We even beat the Silmarilion Two into second place.
Me; Silmarilion?
DeVere; The newest JRR Tolkien franchise; the whole history of middle earth in six volumes. Peter Jackson didn’t want to do it, but when they offered him $100 million, he caved.
Me; Okay, let’s get back to Tudor England, shall we? You can’t actually travel very accurately, can you?
DeVere; No. It’s not a precise science. I just have a rough idea of when I’m going to, and sometimes I’m early, sometimes late.
Me; And that means that you bump into yourself from time to time?
DeVere; Yes, quite a lot really. I’ve helped myself a few times, you know, when the timeline needed straightening out.
Me; Ever thought of going back and killing Hitler or Stalin or someone equally as evil?
DeVere; I can’t seem to go back that shallow, I’m afraid. The latest I’ve even been to is 1746. So no to the Hitler question, unless you want me to go back, then hang around for two hundred years and just drift forward in time normally. I could do it that way. Just like I did for tonight’s interview.
Me; So this interview is more important than killing Hitler?
DeVere; Oh, yes.
Me; What’s the farthest back you’ve gone?
DeVere; That would be 56AD. Lady Jane and I wanted to see Pompeii erupt, but we went back too far. We had a good time as we waited for it. We saw a lot of the Roman Empire at its best. It took five jumps to get that far back; time-travelling takes it out of you, we’ve not done it since.
Me; And which book is that in?
DeVere; We never wrote that part; just too far-fetched, you know, too much out of the plot of the book. In the middle of number eleven that was.
Me; Do you always land in England?
DeVere; No, but I try to keep myself centered there; the accent’s easy, and I know the country well by now.
Me; What’s the furthest from London that you’ve landed?
DeVere; Morocco, I think. I wasn’t really certain of where it was; just sand and desert, until I got a ship to Spain.
Me; You’re not scared of giving spoilers?
DeVere; It’s written on the back of the book for everyone to see.
Me; Volume number?
DeVere; Book three, I think.
Me; But we’ve only got books one and two right now.
DeVere; It’ll be in the shops before Christmas. This Christmas, your Christmas.
Me; (laughing) In my present day?
DeVere; (laughing) In your present day.
Me; And there we close. “A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur’s Court”; in bookstores and eBooks now. We thank you, Richard for coming along, sorry, for making the time to travel back in your time, then hanging around for three hundred years, just to see us tonight.
(Music, then fade)
Me; Okay Richard, Microphones are now switched off, thanks mate, that was a good interview.
DeVere; I enjoyed it immensely. And it passed so quick too. But why just concentrate the questions on the time travel aspect of the books? Why didn’t you ask me about being a vampire?
Me; Well mate; that would just have been silly, wouldn’t it? Everyone knows there’s no such thing as vampires.
Lights dim, Kevin Turvey turns away. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Of Lord Byron, Vampires, Bram Stoker and Scotland

In the summer of 1816, just a year after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, four people took part in a story competition in the Villa Diodati, by the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The outcome is best known for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but other the participants, Percy Shelley (Mary’s husband), Lord Byron, and John Polidori also produced writings.
First, a wee bit history… Just three years before in 1813, Lord Byron had written a vampire poem; The Giaour (The Unbeliever). In it, vampires suck blood to live…

But first, on earth as vampire sent, Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent: 
Then ghastly haunt thy native place, And suck the blood of all thy race; 

There from thy daughter, sister, wife, At midnight drain the stream of life; 
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce, Must feed thy livid living corpse: 

Thy victims ere they yet expire, Shall know the demon for their sire, 
As cursing thee, thou cursing them, Thy flowers are withered on the stem.

So, back to the story competition…
While Mary labored on Frankenstein, Byron wrote a tale of an aristocrat traveling in the Orient, whilst Percy Shelley wrote his poem Hymn to Intellectual Beauty.
The last of the four, so often overlooked, John Polidori, took Byron’s ideas and wrote The Vampyre in 1919. He based a character on the rather hectic life of Lord Byron himself (Lord Ruthven), although this was never officially admitted.
the following year, Charles Nodier wrote an unauthorized sequel to Polidori’s tale using the Ruthven character; Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires (1820), then adapted the novel into a play, but rather than the continent, for some reason Nodier based the play in Scotland.
This was immediately adapted in into English by James Planché as The Vampire; or, the Bride of the Isles , again set in Scotland, which was performed at the Lyceum Theatre in 1820.
Now, zip past a half century or so, and we find Bram Stoker as manager of the aforementioned Lyceum Theatre in London. He learns of the Vampire play performed so many years ago… He visits Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, where (it is often quoted) he got his ideas for the bleak countryside of Transylvania.
And Dracula is born... proving the link of Dracula to Scotland.
Incidentally, Bram Stoker traveled the world, but never ventured into Eastern Europe.
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