The Great Disgusting Idea

  • When a horror writer hits a ceiling hard

Some time ago, I submitted a short story for an upcoming DK anthology titled ‘Kvinder skriver gys’ (Women write horror) to be published on May 19th at DK publisher 2 Feet Entertainment. This particular short story will be translated and published on Amazon as soon as the writer can set up an appointment to recover a lost #SSN so she can put it up for sale. 

Back to the short story, which is both short – under 4000 words – and a story. 

In actual fact, it is without question the most terrible – in terms of theme – story I have ever written. 

Which for a long, long time – since about February 2020, when I first thought it up on a visit to Krákow in Poland – was a big part of The Problem With This Story. 

The Problem With This Story

Contrary to popular belief, horror writers, like virtually all writers I have personally ever met, are perfectly ordinary people. We don’t dismember our fellow humans or indulge in cannibalism as a matter of course. We live our lives just like everyone else. 

But what if a writer cooks up an idea for a story so horrific, she can’t even write it? 

That’s what happened here. 

The deadline came and went. I was in an agony writers might recognize. Another contributor told me the ultimate deadline was on January 31st, which was a Monday. 

Friday the 27th, I decided I would get out that story come hell or high water. If I did nothing at all else that weekend, I WOULD WRITE THAT STORY, DAMN IT.

Also, the publisher is an awesome human being who has taught THIS writer a lot, he had a lot of faith in the writer, and I was terrified I’d let him down if I didn’t, and that was no way to treat an awesome human being. 

Saturday at noon – after I did every single avoidance action any writer can cook up at the drop of a hat or less – I sat myself down. I told myself in advance that I could not get up, I could not do anything at all else until I had at least 2400 words. 

Because I had spent three years planning it out, doing my usual insane amount of research, and purloining every digitized map I could find on the location, writing in my head and trying to come to terms with my own sick, demented mind, those 2400 words came, not easily, but well. 

By the time it grew dark, I had 2800 words, and called it a day. 

Sunday morning, I wrote the rest. By noon, it was finished. By 3 PM, it was proofread and sent to the editor. It was not this writer’s space to judge it and find it wanting. If he liked it, great! If not, well, back to the drawing board. 

The sick, demented mind

Obviously, I had no such luck. The publisher was shocked to his core. (Considering his own authorly output, that says something.) The story was accepted. 

What I couldn’t accept was my own disgust/contempt that I had even conceived of such a horror. 

IRL, I’m a mild-mannered, book fiend semi-recluse with a day job that includes daily sightings of fluffy, happy bunnies. I cry over rescue kitten videos on YouTube. (Don’t ask.)

So what the everloving F was wrong with me, if I could cook up this Sick and Demented idea? 

Well, I was – among the several other hats – a writer. And gradually, over the course of this winter and spring, I’ve come to accept the fact that the writer and the individual are, if not two separate people, then at least two faces of the multiverse that all humans contain.

Therefore, sick and demented ideas executed as well as the writer can manage are acceptable. 

It took a long time and a lot of soul searching to get to that point. 

Third time’s a charm

Tomorrow afternoon as of this writing, I have a meeting with that awesome human being, the Publisher. 

For the third time in my life, my words will be in hard copy. This story is as far removed from anything I’ve done previously as I can likely get. Few adjectives, short sentences, a simple – if sick and demented – plot, and only three characters to keep track of. Since the anthology isn’t out for another month, no one has reviewed it yet – or called me out for being a waste of ink and paper. 

And yet. I’m not worried. Let the rotten tomatoes fall where they may. A writer can control everything except how the story is received, and really – that’s not a writer’s problem, is it? 

The writer’s problem lay in accepting that great – if disgusting /horrific/terrible idea. 

Thrills, Spills & A Sneak Peek

It’s no surprise at all to the select (very) few readers of this blog that the publication of Quantum Demonology was traumatic in far too many ways. Not for going public and being judged for my words, not for getting a story out that basically gave me a few more reasons to stay among the living as I wrote it, not for whatever bad reviews might come or not. (As of 2021, precisely one.) The evidence is all over this blog. I rest my case. 

En Avant!

These days, I’m looking forward. I’m looking forward to rewriting a recently scrapped novel I’ve been wanting to write for years and years, and I can’t wait to get started. The research is mostly done. I’ve safeguarded myself by ordering two books that are very far removed from my source material, and by killing a new book by a favorite author to satisfy my itch for fiction. (I can’t read fiction while writing my own, or someone else’s quirks start to seep in.) If I’m waiting for a sequel, I might as well keep myself busy in the interim. 

But one thing about getting published that few writers don’t, to the best of my knowledge, ever tell you about is what you learn from getting your own story out into the world. The original draft of QD might not have been terrible, but it was safe, or should I say, it was as far out on a limb as I could get at that time in my life. By the time I revised it for publication, I was experienced enough as a writer in other arenas that I took much bigger risks, or to quote a famous Stooges song: Gimme Danger!  I did try.

Here we are, nearly eight years on, and I have the world’s worst case of the all-out fuckits. I have a favorite deceased author’s portrait on my wall behind my laptop giving me the gimlet eye, a writer who very much wrote a rulebook on writing dangerously, letting rip, letting the words explode on the page and in a reader’s mind. 

I also have something else, something that almost means more than I can say, or should that be … someone

The Importance of Being … Believed In. 

We writers are vainglorious souls. Writing is a lonely, solitary business with such a huge potential for heartbreak and soul-crushing suckitude insights that in order to even commit the words to a virtual page, you need titanium gonads and a massivesense of self worth. 

If friends and family like what you write, then great! But they’re biased by proximity, love (it is to be hoped) and/or limited exposure to what being a writer really means.  

But what truly matters to a writer, what truly matters to this writer, is the validation of your peers. I’ve had the extreme good fortune to receive massive amounts of kudos on my writing in another area – my perfume writing. A select few to such an extent, I’ve had an out-of-body experience. Yet that was my perfume writing. 

In 2016, I was invited by my then DK publisher to participate in a prestigious horror/weird fiction anthology called, in English, Project 1900. The concept: Ten writers were each given a decade of the 20th century to choose from. The story had to reflect the feel of its decade, the language, the tone, the atmosphere. Some long, long time later, he had to drop it. 

I was bummed. Bad enough that this would have been my Danish debut as a writer. This gave me more hives than even I can count, since English is my first language, and since my dearly beloved sister is a notable DK journalist and writer by profession, and I didn’t want to tread on her turf. 

Then, this past spring, it was collectively decided to publish elsewhere. Which it will be in 2022, by DK publisher, fellow contributor and author Steen Langstrup of Two Feet Entertainment

By the time he had made it through all the contributions to the anthology, he took the trouble to write me, Ms. Nobody Much, about my story. Out-of-body experience, incoming. What I had knocked out for fun and the hell of it in a day and evening had really got his goat in all the best ways. 

I was floored. 

Since then, he’s read the first ten chapters of QD. More out-of-body experience feedback. At a book reception for his latest work last week, a non-fiction book of author interviews on all the downsides of writing life, he told my sister without any provocation at all on my part:

“She needs to keep writing!”

I can do miracles, so long as one person believes. Now, a hugely respected someone does. 

That means everything. Everything!

Which leads me to… 

Sneak Peek

My contribution to Project 1900, a disco erotic horror story titled ‘I feel love’ from the famous Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder 1978 hit, will be published in English on the DK publication day on Amazon as an e-book novella at a super reasonable price for a limited time only. Above, you’ll find a sneak peek of a cover sketch (not the finished cover). Watch this space! 

Comments? Questions? Rants? Yes, please, and thank you!

Navel-gazing the possible


 – thoughts and dreams in pestilential times

Many people have contacted me through the Quantum Demonology Facebook page to ask where, if possible, they might purchase a copy of Quantum Demonology. The short answer is … nowhere. As of this writing – April 3rd, 2020, at about 10 AM CET – the book is currently out of print.

The longer answer is, if you’re really desperate, you can find second-hand copies here and there, but they will cost you a pretty penny. I saw a copy this morning on eBay for 190 US$, and another on US Amazon for 125 US$. The whopper of all second-hand editions must be one I found that retailed for 795 US$. This was, I’ll have you know, a good deal more than I received in total for the book.

I have nothing against second-hand books. Most of my own book collection is second-hand. But as a content creator, I very much object to not receiving so much as a penny of those sales, and as a destitute teaching student, even more so.

So let me repeat: should you find it, please, for the love of fiction, don’t buy it. However, should you happen to live on the Gold Coast of Australia, their library has a copy to borrow. Wow, was I surprised! I know I have a few virtual friends in Australia, but a public library? Just. Wow.

Now, you know. 😉

I’m currently nearly three quarters of the way through an education as a teacher of Danish – think “Literature”, and you get the idea – history and geography. I’m normally surrounded by sometimes exasperating as well as exhilarating twenty-somethings who keep me on my toes in very many ways, but mainly, working towards a bachelor’s degree in education has not left me a hell of a lot of time or energy for my real dream job – as a writer. Those academic papers don’t write themselves. Neither does the note taking those papers require.

I’ve toyed on several occasions with the idea of typesetting the book (which I would have to do to publish it in hard- or soft cover) or reformatting the manuscript for a digital edition, even to the point of playing with Kindle Creator, only to throw up my hands, mutter expletives and fire up Netflix in despair.

But miracles have been known to happen.

On my left as I write this, you’ll find scintillating reading material: “Historical Method”, “History Didactics”, “Teaching – between craftsmanship and art”, “Citizenship – a place in the world”. All important. All To Be Read. With extensive note-taking.

But in lockdown, in seclusion, in that great void of online life, when the world seems to be going to pieces over COVID-19, it’s spring outside my garret windows. The season of hope, of optimism, of miracles.

My cats are spread out asleep over my unmade bed, in the sunny spots. I’m contemplating baking therapy, just because. And also …

Waiting to hear back from what might become a miracle that involves Quantum Demonology. I’ll keep you posted.

Stay tuned. Stay safe.

Illustration: The Norwegian illustrator Louis Moe


A Trinity of Terrors


– a case study in what happens when horror congregates

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” (T. Bankhead)

In September of 2016, something major and entirely unexpected happened to yours truly. I was accepted as a member – it’s invitation only – of the Danish Horror Society, on the basis of – you guessed it – Quantum Demonology.

That was thrilling enough, but since then, the thrills have become infinitely bigger. My debut as a writer in Danish awaits in September/October in an upcoming anthology. Best and greatest of all, I’ve been accepted into the rarified company of People Who Write, and for a severely alienated and socially isolated weirdo Geek Gal like me, that has been almost as good as free champagne and twice as intoxicating.

I suddenly gained friends and acquaintances who just got all those strange writers I love so much and so fiercely. I’ve spent an evening discussing why I’ll never write a zombie book (too one-dimensional) or vampire books (because Anne Rice wrote the last words on vampires better than I ever could), and why, by Golly, horror on virtual paper is the whipped cream and cherries on all our life sundaes.

At the last general assembly of the Society, I came home with five new books. My life being what it is these days – studying to become a teacher – if having to choose between didactic theory, cognitive psychology or the latest from fellow writer X, Y or Z, my fellow writers always, but bloody always win out. (I do get around to the theories, honest!)

Having said that, one of them was placed in (yet another) teetering stack of books, and entirely my bad, forgotten. Until Lars Ahn, the writer in question, won the Danish Horror Society’s prize for the best horror publication 2018 at Krimimessen for his anthology The Night We Were Supposed To Watch Vampyros Lesbos (my translation).

I’ve had my nose stuck in it at intervals all this Easter break, and it’s no surprise to me that these nine stories, written with verve, nerve and gusto in a deceptively simple style should get all the credit they – and their author – surely deserve because dayum, they’re good. I’ll never look at sidewalk cracks, cult B-movies or even Facebook in quite the same way ever again.

To an English speaker, it might seem strange that one of Denmark’s largest book fairs – and one dedicated to crime novels – is also a platform for horror – whether in novels or anthologies. I write this even as it pains me more than you know to label it ‘horror’. Why lump them in together?

For one thing both genres are, shall we say, morbidly preoccupied with ‘gruesome’, either murderous or supernatural/fantastical in theme. For another, it’s a chance – even for complete unknowns like yours truly, who doesn’t even have anything new out yet for other people to read – to meet new writers, greet new friends, network and make new discoveries.

I say this as someone doesn’t even read that many crime novels in any given year, partly because of other preoccupations in reading material (Used English paperbacks in a multitude of genres bought on the dirt-cheap), partly because I can’t afford Danish literature on a student grant, but mostly – thanks to that membership into the Danish Horror Society and the ever-awesomesauce Henrik Sandbeck Harksen – because I’d rather read something r-e-a-l-l-y strange.

Like I said above, I’m weird.

Which brings me to … Randvad, by Jacob Holm Krogsøe and Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen. Henrik hurled Randvad at me before I left Krimimessen. I began reading the very next morning. And couldn’t stop. I thought about it during a hectic school week, and snuck in more reading every chance I got and a few I certainly didn’t. By the following Wednesday night, I had not read it so much as inhaled it, even all the nasty chewy bits, of which there were more than a few.

Randvad is the story of an unemployed young academic with a skeleton in his own closet who is hired to find out what became of a rich man’s great-grandfather, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1887 while collecting local folklore in southern Jutland. It’s not just the surly locals who are strange – it’s also the place, the eponymous Randvad. As his investigation continues, the academic finds himself in ever-deeper water – with the locals, with the foreboding atmosphere of the nearby forest, with the demons in his own mind and the ghosts of the past. As the saying goes, it’s all downhill in a most gruesome fashion from there …

In its tone and general atmosphere, if not so much the actual story, Randvad reminded me in several splendid ways of another book that also scared the bejeezus out of me back in its day: Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, but without the vampires. It’s no slight to the authors to say that – in my book, that’s a compliment of the highest order. The writing gave me chills, thrills and spills for days.

Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen is also coming out with his own book, Thelema, about an Aleister Crowley-inspired cult, and I have a copy coming I’m thoroughly over-excited about, since this book had me at Al…, or rather, The … Anyone who knows me knows I have an unhealthy preoccupation/Major Thing for all things Aleister.

At Krimimessen, I was also lucky to attend a discussion about fantastical literature and the limitations of genre labeling. One of the participants – and a fellow member of the Danish Horror Society – was Anne-Marie Vedsøe Olesen, whose tenth book Lucie was published last month to near universal acclaim. Her books have been some of my most favorite literary discoveries of the past two years, and Lucie is no exception – if anything, she really outdid herself. The story of a thousand-year-old soulless cannibal – the Lucie of the title – it is by turns existential, fantastical, horrific and impossible to pigeonhole as mere ‘horror’. From its gruesome beginnings at a metal festival in Copenhagen to a hellride on an epic scale along the pilgrim trail to Trondheim and the book’s climax, you’ll find a man in search of redemption, another who talks to birds, a cannibal in search of origins she can’t recall, hallucinogens, Norse gods, early Christianity and a story that grabs you by the scruff of your neck as well as the seat of your pants and will. Not. Let. Go. If you’re a Dane, buy this book, too. I can guarantee it will rearrange your mental furniture.

Meanwhile, you’ll find me this Easter banging away on my own pathetic prequel titled The Book of Abaddon. In company this stellar, it’s time to show what I alone can do – or else die trying!

Special thanks to my sister Stephanie Caruana, to the Mr. Ever-Awesomesauce Henrik Sandbeck Harksen, to Amdi Silvestri, Michael Kamp, Lars Ahn, Patrick Leis and Anne-Marie Vedsøe Olesen for the infernal pleasures of their company, the books and conversations great and small.













Keeping The Devil Down


– on the nebulous future of a devil you might know

Ladies, gentlemen, and all other sentient beings,

It’s been four years since the instigation of this website and also, the publication of Quantum Demonology. I’ll spare you the sob story of that debacle – evidence of which can be found elsewhere on this site – and instead tell you this:

Quantum Demonology is returning – if not in print, then as an e-book. I’m currently in the process of updating my Amazon Author Central pages, this site and all other Quantum Demonology-related pages I have.


Well, why not? Why hoard my literary capital when I could spread it around and make a little noise – or maybe even a lot of noise? If I get very, very lucky.

It will be made available as an e-book rather than print, because 1) I can’t afford to, not even on Lulu and b) distribution. I can do things with an e-book; giveaways, review copies etc. etc. I could never afford on my present student grant. Copies can be had instantly anywhere in the world.

Also – I direly need a new MacBook if I’m ever to finish the prequel currently underway titled The Book of Abaddon, (my old MacBook Pro is falling apart, literally, thanks to Janice Divacat and her propensity to lie down on warm laptops) and this could well be a great way to get one.

If I get lucky.

Having said that, there will be a few discrete differences between this second edition and the first. For one, some minor changes were added in the text itself. Second, this coming edition will be under my own imprint. I’m registered in the DK publishers’ database, I have my own ISBN-10/13 numbers, and a worldwide copyright is heading my way as I type.

I harbor no illusions as to fame and glory, because the disappointment hurts too damn much. But I have some hopes that a few more people might actually read it.

If I’m lucky.

One thing I do know – you can’t keep a great Devil down.

Especially not this one.

Watch this space.

(Illustration by the Norwegian illustrator Louis Moe)

The Big Fat Why of Horror


– why this writer veers towards the Dark Side

Had you asked me nine years ago, before I even had a sliver of reputation, Klout score or followers: what genre do you write? I had an answer ready for you without qualifications of any kind:

History (to paraphrase my son) is my jam, man. Since a dark and stormy night in Tampa in the summer of 2002, I’d been submerged in a historical novel set in Roman Britain and pre-Christian pagan Ireland that came, as all novels do, unbidden and all at once; a story of a hapless Roman tribune caught up in Imperial intrigue and Irish blood feuds, with a little help from the usual suspects; druids, kings, irascible Irish, a very real Roman Emperor and a hot-blooded Irish redhead with her own ideas, especially about that Roman tribune. At that time, I was reading everything I could get my hands on by Morgan Llewellyn, and I was quite inspired by her retelling of Irish legends, so inspired in fact, I thought that heretical, dangerous thought: I could do that …

But since 2002, and certainly since late 2008, I had been writing about all manner of things; feminism, motherhood, marriage, fashion, faith, paganism, madness and music. I wrote ex tempore, like a jazz improvisation, simply sitting down, starting Word and letting rip on whatever got my goat/boiled my blood/made me think on that particular day.

There I was, on yet another dark and stormy night, this one November 6th, 2009, when a short story snuck in on stealthy feet inspired by an early 90’s PR photo, and then a reader requested a follow-up. So I had to write that.

That – which became Chapter Two of Quantum Demonology, was the starting point for my initiation into horror. It wasn’t in any way premeditated, it just kinda happened. And if you know anything about my own literary proclivities, you might be aware my titans of literature are all to an extent writers of horror; my beloved Edgar Allan Poe as the diamond-encrusted platinum standard at the top, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Clive Barker, Stephen King and Anne Rice, along with a DK institution named Dennis Jürgensen.

I settled myself in cozily among them knowing great company when I saw it, read none of them while writing QD, and kept on going. I felt immediately at home in that dark landscape of my own making, felt it was the best place to plant my predilections and thought ‘wtf, let’s see where this takes me.’

Here’s where: to places I never even knew existed, to ideas I was unaware I had, and most of all, to an unexpected and hugely liberating conclusion; there was darkness in this heart of mine, and in that darkness, some mighty flowers bloomed.

I very much believe – and might even say, if any one asks – that horror is far and away the most elastic literary genre of all, even if the word ‘genre’ rubs my fur in several wrong ways. Genre implies limitation, pigeonholing, marginalization, and surely novels and stories should have wider horizons and maybe wider audiences, too? Books like Lewis’ The Monk or Bram Stoker’s Dracula were never written to be categorized as ‘horror’ – that handy-dandy label came much later. They were written as literature. Full stop. Just as any other work of ‘literary’ (read: “proper”) fiction.

The End.

Yet horror – here defined fairly narrowly as fiction dealing with themes of the supernatural, the monstrous, the macabre or the monstrously strange – can be a scaffold for anything you care to throw in it. Themes of decay, depravity or degradation can be seamlessly melded into larger, existential themes such as allaying that primeval, human fear of death and dissolution. You can haul out tropes of other genres and blend them in, too: erotic fiction, for instance, has all sorts of potential for the horrific and/or the psychologically illuminating. If you don’t believe me, I offer you Exhibit A: Anne Rice. I don’t do vampires – precisely because I feel Anne Rice wrote the definitive modern version of those creatures of the night, and I can’t add anything original to that – yet I can certainly appreciate and applaud her matchless purple prose and her focus of the eroticism of vampires, something Bram Stoker suggested with the finest of Victorian pen strokes and Christopher Lee embodied perfectly in his own Hammer rendition of that famous Transylvanian Undead.

Writing horror has other nefarious – and salutary – effects on this writer: it has enabled me to face my demons – or a good many of them. Clad in fictional garb and folded in by brute force with other preoccupations and obsessions, my demons and I are finally on speaking terms, and more to the point, I know who and what they are. I know where they live, and I know how to conjure them. Whether it’s the Demon of Relationships (d-o-n’t fence me in!), the Demon of Inferiority (screw that one and do it anyway, because there will always, always be better writers and better people than you) or that Demon of Claustrophobia (I have, I was surprised to discover, an absolute terror of small, constricted spaces) I have yet to tackle in fiction (give it time!), they all look so much better in daylight and on the page. It’s monumentally cathartic for me, defangs them and takes away their power over me, if hopefully not their power to terrify a reader.

Which leads me to that other thing about horror: if you’re very lucky and pitch your prose throw just right, you get to scare the bejeezus out of people. In my case, that also means that if I can’t scare myself while writing, I can’t scare you, either. Careful reading of many horror books since QD’s publication has taught me one major thing about horror, and this, too was a massive surprise:

You don’t have to spell everything out. Know just enough to get yourself in trouble, and show just enough to ignite a reader’s imagination. Do it right, and they will do ALL the rest for you, roaring conflagrations included.

Scaring myself – whether by word or by deed – is a favorite occupation of mine. I’m one of those blithering idiots who thrive on intellectual adrenaline, whose idea of a great time involves letting go, in conversation or in writing something I have not one idea about, all of it is my equivalent of bungee jumping into an abyss. The terror is absolute. The rush is incredible when it works, and ya know … sometimes, it does. Or so I like to believe until an editor tells me otherwise.

My problem with ‘horror’ – or what the publishing world chooses to define as such – is precisely the pigeonholing, the narrow focus, the mentality of ‘it never sells’, and the all-pervasive underlying idea that horror is a sideline adolescent-minded phenomenon on the suspect fringes of ‘proper’ literature. Even Stephen King, the modern age’s Grand Old Man of Horror, has passed the baton to his son, Joe Hill, of whom I’ve read all of two books, but what I’ve read has been promising, although I wouldn’t call it all-out ‘horror’.

I read a great many things on any given day. History books, sociology, pop culture reference books, biographies and even literary fiction. Some of those have been borderline unreadable if not incoherent as novels, and apparently, I’m an imbecile, philistine dolt who is not at all in on the know or has any kind of literary street cred whatsoever if I can’t understand them. To the ghost of David Foster Wallace, that means you. James Joyce, you’re no exception, either.

But in the past two years, I’ve also had the distinct, sharp thrill of being introduced to writers I never even knew existed, writers who have taught me more than I thought possible, writers who have made me laugh and think new things, writers who have upended conventions and preconceptions, even my calcified own. All of them share one common theme.

They’re all (if not all exclusively) horror writers, likely for many of the same reasons with which I justify my own brand of madness. Like mine, their demons are gnawing away in the dark, waiting to be brought to light by right or by might. Their stories may differ and their focus may shift along other, weirder spectrums of unspeakable, but we all have That One Thing in common:

Darkness lies in our hearts. Be afraid! Which you are, right?

For a far better angle, I recommend the all-out schamazing Chuck Wendig’s blog, and this post in particular.

Illustration: Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

















A Sneak Preview – The Book of Abaddon


COPENHAGEN, JUNE 24TH, 2010, 4:28 AM

On such an early summer’s morning, when the growing light made Copenhagen glow, the city was so fucking beautiful. It was as if the cobblestones, the asphalt of the street and even the butter-yellow cemetery wall inhaled the light and exhaled possibilities, dreams and hopes in a chorus with the flowering elder trees behind the wall. Or else he was just yet another drunk poet.

It was the exact perfect time to wobble home to the lemon face and the harsh words that waited, but he was in no hurry to get home this magical summer morning when even the taxis were all gone, when the buses hadn’t started yet and when it seemed as if the entire city held its breath, but for what?

So fucking beautiful. While he stood a moment and enjoyed the sight of dawn breaking over the cobblestones, his nose caught something else. The merest hint, a trail he involuntarily stretched out his neck for and tried to follow. Was it a perfume? It smelled like heaven and the most sublime sex, like an otherworldly flower, like …

He turned to follow the scent trail. It continued down the street. He followed it, and the dizzying, fantastical scent grew stronger, received a brush of other flowers and darker desires, became almost overwhelmingly heavy in the cool pre-dawn air.

What the hell was it that perfumed everything this morning?

When he saw it, at first he thought it was one of the countless art installations that popped up everywhere in Copenhagen in unexpected places. He took a deep breath. For a split second, the street and the dawn span around him in a sickening waltz.

No art hung on the closed wrought iron gate to the cemetery.

It was a man. He was tall, in impeccable shape, young, maybe in his late twenties, with expensively cut blond hair and beard stubble that gave his face a certain romantic air, in sharp contrast to a well-worn t-shirt and a ripped pair of jeans. His arms were spread out like a crucified Jesus, and were tied like his feet to the gate by some vine-like plant that gripped him from head to toe. Here and there, purple-white flowers bloomed that all exhaled that heady, dizzying scent that drifted down the street like an invisible, perfumed fog.

He looked first in one direction, then the other down the street. Not one car, taxi, cyclist or pedestrian in sight. As if all the neighborhood, Copenhagen, Denmark and maybe even the world slept frozen in time on a Thursday morning in June, while a beautiful, dead young man was tied to a wrought-iron gate with this strange vine.

Not even eleven massive beers could kill his curiosity. He crossed the street and stood in front of the gate.

Close up, he could see that the young man was not tied so much as thrown by some colossal force into the gates, where the wrought iron had bent beneath the impact, outlining his body, but where the wrought iron ended and the vine began he couldn’t see if he tried.

There was no suggestion of blood anywhere, no discoloration or anything else that could make it more real, more brutal, more human, and that shocked him most of all. How could … who could? What in the world?

He grabbed for his phone in his jacket, but he had left it at home, along with the cow, the bitch, the wife. And two more phones.

He swayed in front of the dead man for a few long, silent minutes in the growing light, dizzy with the sight, the scent, the likelihood, before he took a deep breath, turned and ran across the street.

Ran like he had the Devil himself on his heels.



Photo from Assistens Cemetery, Copenhagen, June 2010, the Jægersborggade gate. (The gate!)

With thanks to Henrik Sandbæk Harksen, and always, the Dude.

Shattering A Dream


Today, I did a (very!) radical thing. I have reported my former publisher for copyright infringement to Amazon and requested that the sales pages for all editions of Quantum Demonology be removed.

For the longest time, I’ve always hoped it would never come to this, hoped nearly beyond hope that somehow, some day, the publisher of Nigel’s Flight would contact me, if only to say that our contract was presently null and void.

Yet in spite of several rather provocative blog posts, emails, letters, phone calls and direct/private messages delivered through her increasingly limited social media channels, I never heard a word back. Not since May 11th of last year, so you can imagine my horror and mortification when I discovered the announcement and subsequent publication of yet another book by that publisher later last year.

Well, I’ve cut the deadwood, clocked it all up to experience and… moved on.

What does the future hold for that strange, erotic story, Quantum Demonology? A few things… some of which I’m not currently at liberty to say since I don’t want to jinx anything, and some of which are definitely cooking.

Including a planned sequel I might have called Lilith’s Revenge (although that sounds like a very bad romance novel!), and a prequel – nothing less than the history of that fascinating entity, Dev – currently underway titled The Abaddon Yarn.

But before I dance off into cyberspace, should you, dear reader, be among those who bought the book in either Kindle or hardcover (and thank you if you are!), know that your edition is soon to be very rare indeed! 😉 If you haven’t and wish you did, you have 7-10 business days to remedy that oversight. Go!

As for the future – it might be so bright, I’ll have to wear shades! Stay tuned!

Gut(ted) Instincts

A lit lightbulb

Gut(ted) Instincts

– When Eureka! Moments happen…

For the past two months, I’ve been wrestling. Wrestling the Fail Demon, wrestling the virtual page, and wrestling a Quantum Demonology prequel in Danish I had hopes to submit to publication in time for a New Year’s Eve deadline. To get the word out about me, to establish my questionable reputation, to maybe? start getting just a little buzz in just one small corner of the world. Just a little.

This evening, I had a eureka moment, the moment when I suddenly realized a vital fact:

It ain’t happening, baby.

After 12.000 words and not a little headache, after trying to translate pithy John Milton quotes and nailing a story arc to the page, nope… it’s not happening.

Seriously, folks, I really hoped it would. Hoped that maybe this one, maybe this time, maybe, baby. I really could pull this rabbit out of my hat and knock out 20.000 words of peerless prose.

Only to find that as my story progressed, my feelings of doom, dread and river-in-Egypt syndrome bloomed so very much faster than any time-lapse photography ever could.

The words were leaden. The cursor d-r-a-g-g-e-d across the page. I’m perfectly bilingual and verbally dextrous, so why the hell couldn’t I write in another language?

Then it hit me, that proverbial sandbag of insight right smack in my solar plexus.

Because I couldn’t feel it.

I’ll spare you the details of my unorthodox trans-Atlantic upbringing, but suffice it to say my first language was not Danish, for all I was born in Copenhagen and am a Danish citizen, but English. I mostly think in English (and some French and Italian), I certainly feel in English, and most importantly, I’ve received far more accolades (such as they are) writing in English than virtually anything I’ve achieved in Denmark. It helps not at all that my beloved (lethally smart) younger sister is an acknowledged journalist, author and blogger with the situation in reverse: born in the US, she’s far more truly Danish than I could ever be.

When we discussed our different projects a few days ago, she mentioned one of her own pet peeves about the English language: “There’s just too many… adjectives, too many descriptions, too much verbosity. I don’t need to have everything spelled out, and if you have to spell it out with adjectives, you’re not trying hard enough as a writer.” (She was referring to her elder sister’s novel.)


But back in the solitude of my own apartment, after the sting subsided, I realized that what she disliked was precisely what I loved best.

Verbosity. Adjectives. Describing the unknowable. And last but never least, feeling those words in your gut as you type them.

Whether it’s major mental constipation on my part (Denmark holds quite a few not-so-happy memories for me) or simple bloody-mindedness, I picked myself off the floor after that sandbag hit and made a decision.

Sometimes, your gut instinct knows what you can’t consciously acknowledge – in this case, when something feels wrong, it’s because it is, at least for me. So then, I thought.

Fuck it.

The prequel novella, titled “The Confessions of Apollyon”, is the story of the Devil (Dev, as he’s called in QD), what and who he is and how he came to be that guardian of nightmares and negatives. It begins on the very same night as Quantum Demonology and even in that same blues café a few hours before the QD protagonist walks through the door in search of mulled wine.

Some time ago, I became the proud owner of ten perfectly valid ISBN numbers and even registered an imprimatur under my own name. I’m also registered with the print-on-demand printer who printed the hardcover edition of Quantum Demonology.

So here’s what will happen: Over the next month or so, Dev’s story will be translated and rewritten for English-speaking audiences and formatted for publication. I’m registered with Amazon as an author. I know book bloggers who might be interested.

More to the point since that hit of the metaphorical sandbag, I’ve experienced an incredible sense of relief. Even my cats are finally able to share the room with me. I won’t have to stress around like a madwoman to meet that New Year’s Eve deadline, and can even devote some time to some of my other writing projects.

This does beg a question.

Would you – if you’ve read and enjoyed Quantum Demonology – like to know a little more about the one character in the story that a lot of readers relate to?

Tell me all about it in the comments!

Blood On The Floor


  • Thoughts on the eve of a Red Letter Day


It was… a dark and stormy night, that Friday the 6th of November 2009, a night I was bored, couldn’t settle down, couldn’t sit still.

So I went through my browser history and located a link to a image I found a few days before that stuck in my mind, mostly for reasons I can’t possibly repeat, but I’ll tell you this:

It was some picture!

I still don’t know how long I simply stared at that picture when some diabolical voice whispered in my metaphorical ear:

What if?

Any writer can tell you – all stories, one way or another, begin not with Once Upon A Time, but with What If.

Lo and behold – an idea arrived! I had no idea what sort of idea, nor even where it came from, but in about two hours and typing as if taking ectoplasmic dictation, I had a short story about a woman in a café at midnight, a woman who had nothing at all and even less to lose.

Because I’m the sort of reckless, hapless person who does this sort of thing, I next posted it as an incidental short story on the virtual soapbox I had at the time – a blog about music, madness and feminism called MoltenMetalMama. I expected absolutely nothing. I did not even expect anyone to actually read it, for all I had 13 (!) blog followers at the time. Then again, you never know…

Yet the following morning, a comment landed in my inbox. One faithful reader had read it. Liked it. And even taken the time to comment my (lack of) storytelling abilities had blown him away! Right before he asked:

“So what happened next?”

What happened next was this: before November morphed into December, I found out I was writing a full-blown novel, wtf. No game plan, no idea how it would end or where the story would go, yet I completed over a fourth of it by the end of December.

And kept going. Going on the days the words flowed like champagne and bloomed like perfume, going on the days it seemed more like squeezing dried out toothpaste from an empty tube, and I had many of those, too.

Which is why Quantum Demonology is (also) dedicated to Portland OR resident and all-around fab fella Phil Hanson, because without him, I would never have had the courage to keep going, even as I fell through the rabbit hole of my own subconscious into very scary and very dark places I never even knew I had.

Four years later – a year ago today – I came out of the closet as what I totally thought was a dream come true: a soon-to-be-published writer, of a rather curious novel called Quantum Demonology.

This happened because of two things: One, after finishing the book nine months to the day later, I became a perfume blogger to satisfy my girlie itches and aesthetic inclinations, but mainly to become a better writer.

After a while, I ventured on to other perfume blogs and made connections and comments with other bloggers. One of them had a dream to become a publisher. She had read the original draft of QD (with more plotholes than even I could count) and thought it had the potential to become a book that would sell.

Would I like to publish it with her?

I couldn’t say no.

So on December 17th last year, and with a great deal of trepidation, the book was published by Nigel’s Flight of Austin TX to modest fanfare on the social media outlets of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere.

And then. Then came that cautionary tale of all debuting and vainglorious writers everywhere.


Well, I thought, give it time. These things take time.

Understand, this was and is in many multilayered ways a very personal book. It was a book that ended up costing me my marriage, a dearly beloved son I have no idea when I’ll see again, and virtually everything I had. It wasn’t just a book, it was in so many ways the story of a life that could very well have been my own if only things never happened the way they did.

Review copies were sent, press releases sent out. Contacts were (likely) bombarded with alternate, counter-culture versions of

‘So how do you love it?’

Three months later, I was informed about my first royalty check – also the only money I’ve ever made writing in my life.

And still nothing. No one was curious, no one wanted to find out something about the inspirations behind it (for all it’s very much a Goth(ic)/post-punk/metalhead story), no one was interested in the figuratively naked writer across the Atlantic, shivering in the social media blast of Being Utterly Exposed As A Potboiler Writer.

Do you know, that would be perfectly OK, if not for the occasional emails from my publisher feeding me pablum about future hopes and possibilities that usually kept me off my local high-rise bridge that day.

Stranger things have happened!

Just like my protagonist, I had/have nothing at all and even less to lose. Unlike my story, all those so-called “possibilities” were nothing more than pie in the sky.

So I stepped up my game and thought long and hard about what we could do to move the merchandise a bit higher up on the Amazon food chain. I came up with alternate ideas on how to market it, came to discover thanks to a New York PR maven (bless her!) I had a unique angle to market it with and wrote all my ideas down for my publisher’s delectation in a future Skype conversation.

Except – this was in May – my timing was lousy. My publisher told me in exquisitely hyper-polite language to fuck the hell off.

Well, I did.

She never wrote me back again.

Some time later, I was more than a little outraged to discover she was working on another book with another writer – this one, I gather, slightly less of a hard sell, maybe? Or was it since I wasn’t an overnight sensation I had been dropped like a hot potato to rot in that infernal pit of Hades reserved for failed loser writer wannabes?

Before I shoot myself in the foot even more than I already have, I’d like to say that I was gently raised to be polite, nice and grateful at all times. I was also raised to answer all letters, emails and private messages promptly.

In the six months since I’ve fucked off, I’ve sent her five emails and two letters requesting to terminate my contract, so I can have my pathetic little nightmare back more or less intact.

No response.

On the two social media outlets I have left for her, I sent her a PM/DM today, asking nothing more than she contact me at her earliest opportunity today, in the hopes of at least hearing from a human being again, but really <evil snicker> hoping this blog post wouldn’t be necessary.

No response.

Here’s the thing: this woman, who I once regarded as a dear friend, spent quite a bit of money to get my book published, money I never asked her to spend on my behalf no less and money I certainly don’t have. For that and quite a few other things beside, I’ll always be grateful, just as I’ll always be grateful to know what I learned in the helter-skelter two months it took from ‘start revising’ to ‘publish’.

I can understand the shame of a miscalculation, the chagrin of a failed marketing approach, the embarrassment of not being able to deliver a nicely tied up dream on a silver-screened platter, or the lies fed to an isolated, dissociated misanthrope misfit to keep that dream alive.

Shit happens.

Most of it, I can even forgive. I’m human, too.

What sticks in my metaphorical craw, however, is not being deemed worthy of the honesty I told her in our very first Skype conversation was my one and only demand. And a disturbing and very unsettling feeling of being violated in some indefinable way, since that dream was not really hers to sell, but mine.

According to the terms of our contract, it will expire on December 17th this year for non-payment of royalties accrued in the past six months. Not that I expect any, you understand. Still, it burns me no end if this is how it ends.

This is not, so far as I know, how any professional publisher does business.

I will likely never see a dime off Quantum Demonology ever again, unless (as I also hope), I either prepare a new edition or another publisher bites, one with a better work ethic and hopefully infinitely better communication skills.

Meanwhile, most US literary agents won’t touch me or my manuscript with a ten-foot pole so long as I’m still under contract.

Meanwhile, the blood on the metaphorical floor is all and only my own.

Sic transit gloriam scriptori.