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Viewing Blog: The Poisoned Apple, Most Recent at Top
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Tales of Horror, mixed with the Nightmares of a Writer, with a final spattering of Dark Fantasy for Children added to the cauldron. The work of Catherine J Gardner & Phoenix Rendell. One Soul. Two identities.
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1. 'tis an honour



Ellen Datlow has announced the Honorable Mentions for The Best Horror of the Year Volume Six. I'm delighted to find my story 'This Foolish & Harmful Delight' listed amongst many fine writers including Ray Cluley, Nina Allan, Peter Atkins, Conrad Williams and Adam Nevill. You can find the full list here but I've cheated and only listed the people who I have met in real life.

The Transfiguration of Mister Punch (where my novella lives) is available here. It's a gorgeous book.

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2. A Salty Taste

Some news from the trenches.

My novella Barbed Wire Hearts is now out of print and I'm in the process of removing links to Amazon because they lead nowhere or will shortly lead nowhere. Thank you to everyone who purchased the story during its short life. Hopefully, it will appear in some other format at some other time.

There's an interview with me over at Blood Cake News where I may or may not discuss cake.

Peter Tennant reviews my novella, In the Broken Birdcage of Kathleen Fair, in the forthcoming issue of Black Static. Here be a wee bit of it...

She writes about such marvellous things as a duel fought with balloons and a perfume created by stealing the essence of people. She shows us sympathy for the devil and crafts a beguiling fable, one that constantly delights with its verve and invention, and which will resonate in the reader’s mind long after the book has been closed and put away

.... and it's only £1.03 in good old British pounds.

I heart novellas, and speaking of them.... Here's some news from trenches near you:

SALT are looking for contemporary issue-led novellas between 20,000 and 30,000 aimed at 18 to 24 year olds. More details here. Ideas are swirling at this end, characters are lining up to take part.

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3. Two Weeks Later

Some things that may or may not be of interest to you but are of interest to me... In other words, some things that have appeared online in this year of 2014 that concern me. I should title this post THE EGO HAS LANDED but Robbie Williams already used that title and his ego is bigger than mine.

Ann Giardina Magee reviews The Transfiguration of Mister Punch over at BOOZE AND BOOKS and has this to say about my story, This Foolish & Harmful Delight....

Her unique style completely immerses the reader in the terrifying world that she has created where Punch and Judy, as well as all of the other characters, are indeed transfigured. This novella was my favorite of the three....

Pauline Morgan at SF Crowsnest has reviewed Best Fantasy 2013 and here's something of what she had to say about my story, Too Delicate for Human Form...

Cate Gardner’s ‘Too Delicate For Human Form’ is the only recognisable fantasy story but don’t expect swords and elves, just a bit of gentle urban magic.... Although it is an unusual and well-written story it is ultimately unfulfilling and generates more questions than it answers.

Sounds like me. However, here is the review for Simon Bestwick's story Dermot...

‘Dermot’ by Simon Bestwick is a nasty little story but very well-written. It plays on the idea that sometimes the few have to be sacrificed to keep the majority safe... This is the strongest story in anthology and doesn’t pull any punches.

Go, my Bestwick.

And last, but not least (as the saying goes), Paul Kane kindly invited me to be the guest writer over at his website this month and there you will find an extract from my novella, Barbed Wire Hearts.

Hope 2014 is treating you well so far.

I've almost (almost) finished the final draft of my children's novel which remains untitled. Then I'll be burying myself in edits until it's fit to be sent to agents.*

*Agents, you have been warned.

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4. YES!



Simon Bestwick asked me to marry him. I said YES!!!

I'd link to his awesome blog post about his proposal using fancy html etc but my computer is
being an arse. You can read his awesome take on things here:

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5. Goodbye 2013 - you were (deleted)

You'd think it would be easy to write a blog post about your writing year when there hasn't been all that much too it. You'd think. However, because I haven't achieved anything like I used to do I have a convenient mental block. So here is what I remember of 2013.

I had two novellas published:-

This Foolish & Harmful Delight in Egaeus Press' anthology 'The Transfiguration of Mister Punch' - a beautiful, beautiful book also featuring work by Charles Schneider and D.P. Watt.

In the Broken Birdcage of Kathleen Fair published by Alchemy Press.


I had (coughs) short stories published:-

Puppet Man in Daily Science Fiction
The Binding of Memories in Shimmer
Too Delicate for Human Form in Best British Fantasy 2013
(Audio Reprint) The Scratch of an Old Record appeared on Tales to Terrify
(Audio Reprints) Opheliac and Reflective Curve of a Potion Bottle in Exquisite Death

Damien Walter (of The Guardian) also listed Theatre of Curious Acts in the top five of his Indie Sci-Fi and Fantasy Hunt.

Some people are aware I had a difficult year both writing-wise and personally (the personal affecting the writing, of course) but the new year has already started for me and I'm working on the final draft of my (still untitled) children's novel. IT'S BATS!!!

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6. HO HO OH - THE TWENTY-FOURTH

DING DON’T MERRILY ON HIGH,
WE'VE EATEN ALL THE MINCE PIES
DING DON'T! OH MY, OH MY, OH MY
THE GREAT GREMLIN GOD IS SINGING
GLORIOUS, WE EATING TO EXCESSES!

EVEN SO HERE UND'NEATH THE DESK, BELOW
LET SKELETONS BE SWINGING
AND LO, LO, LO
BY WESTFICK AND HER MAJ SINGIN'
GLORIOUS, WE EATING TO EXCESSES!

EATING TO EXCESSSSSSSES!



If you can't beat them SCREECH SCREECH TERRIBLY with them.

HAVE A FABULOUS CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR.  SEE YOU IN 2014!

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7. HO HO OH - THE TWENTY-THIRD

The Gremlins are wearing black armbands today.

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8. HO HO OH -THE TWENTY-SECOND

Reject is wearing a KILT. It makes his knees look as huge as an ogre's eyeballs.  He's serenading the GREAT GOD GREMLIN and asking if all Christmases can be white. I prefer ash grey but we all know SHE WHO MUST BE TRIPPED UP hates, hates, loathes, despises, and always falls on her backside in snow. It's a magnificent plan.

TRICKY is off to the supermarket to buy an office load of talcum powder and salt so we can cover the path with it. She'll be too afraid to leave the house, leaving her trapped here with us ALL DAY… 

There may be a flaw in the plan. 

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9. HO HO OH - THE TWENTY-SECOND

CROOK has decided that if he keeps running around the room at GREMLIN SPEED (which is very, very, extraordinarily fast) then he can move the room to Finland. Then, the cold air will freeze her throat. He seems to forget that it will FREEZE us too as SHE never has the heating on.

Apparently, when she was little, they didn't have much money and had to wear seventy-two jumpers and four pairs of mittens and there was no roof on their house. She now thinks she lives in a palace, which explains the ROYAL TEMPERAMENT. We also think she watched WILLY WONKA too many times, which explains the chocolate addiction. 

Oh… She just put out her foot and sent Crook flying into the bookcase. Not a single book wobbled--possibly because at last count there were five hundred and ninety six and a half books on her 'to read' shelf.  

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10. HO HO OH - THE TWENTY-FIRST

Reject is swinging from the bony legs of the skeleton that hangs from her notice board. They both appear to be having fun. HER MAJESTY hasn't even noticed. Hunched over the keyboard, staring with intent at the screen, while occasionally clicking the mouse--we think she's ACTUALLY writing. We must stop her.

REJECT is putting even more effort into his swing. LOOSE JAWS are clacking. Crook is laying PUSH PINS on the floor, but so far, only Treacle has stood on them. Treacle's yelping hasn't disturbed HER HIGHNESS, who keeps muttering something about Renta Claws and blood spiders.

At least she's not singing. 

This would be the point, where Her Majesty would say 'touch wood; don't want to tempt the gremlins'. Should be changed to 'touch wood; don't want to tempt Her Ladyship'.

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11. HO HO OH - THE TWENTIETH

Ignore YESTERDAY'S blog post. Time for a frowny face Lor rather five LLLLL's or six if you include the Great GREMLIN God's L 

The OFFICE was suitable destroyed. Her Majesty STOMPED and CLASHED up the stairs. She blundered into the office and then promptly dropped the pre-decorated Christmas tree she'd bought, shattering and showering us with glitter and glass. To add injury to injury, she clapped her hands and declared 'Tiny Moving Christmas Trees'. Then she gathered us up and pinned us to the notice board. AGAIN. The others are still trying to escape. 

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12. HO HO OH - THE NINETEENTH

Pens, pens, pens, pens, pens, pens, pens, PENS!!!!!

Crook has devised a MASTER PLAN to steal all of Her Highness's pens. Reject has torn the pages out of several hundred unused notebooks. Treacle is smearing glue over EVERYTHING. Wheeze is just sitting in the corner wheezing but at least he sounds a bit DARTH VADER(ISH). The GREAT GREMLIN GOD is looking down from his dusty lampshade with a tear in his eye, and I'm about to pluck all the hairs from her most precious WOLF DUDE and scatter them on her keyboard. 

We are taking back the OFFICE and destroying CHRISTMAS and all other things for HER ANNOYINGNESS. 

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13. HO HO OH - THE EIGHTEENTH

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, DEFROSTING WRITER DID MOAN
BELLY SOFT AS JELLY, WEIGHS AT LEAST SIXTY STONE…

HER HIGHNESS has been taking chocolates off the tree again. Crook has suggested we steal APPLE PIE from the neighbours and put it in the kitchen so she'll go and bother the KITCHEN SPRITES who have nothing better to do than throw crumbs into corners and steal the last biscuit. 

If she goes into one more chorus of WHINE, WHINE DREADFULLY we're going to eat all of the food until our bellies are so full they EXPLODE. If only Treacle hadn't eaten all the MARSHMALLOWS. We could have stuffed them in HER MAJESTY'S ears and mouth until her screeching was a distant mumble. We're not delusional enough to think it would stop her singing. 

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14. HO HO OH - THE SEVENTEENTH

Who names the spots on their nose? Well, apparently, SHE does and their names are Fred, Ginger and Big Red Pimply Thing.

At least there are no outbursts of…

WE THREE PIMPLES OF CATE ARE
BEARING PUS WE STICK OUT SO FAR

or

BIG RED SPOT FIRST POPPED OUT
DURING THE FEAST AT STEPHEN'S.

Oh no, earworm, earworm, EARWORM. Must not hum, must not hum. Oh no, here we go… Another rendition of SCREECH SCREECH TERRIBLY.


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15. HO HO OH - THE SIXTEENTH

Her Ladyship knows we're here.

She picked up WHEEZE and pretended he was a ball of SNOT. Poor Wheeze is now stuck in the bin alongside soggy tissues and crumpled up story notes that scream of monsters and owls and things that go FA LA LA LA LA in the night. Then she tipped out a bag of MARSHMALLOWS and turned TREACLE into a MARSHMALLOW MONSTER. Poor Treacle is going to have to eat her way out and she HATES marshmallows.

MARSHMALLOWS are for old people with dentures. Even GREMLINS stay away from people with DENTURES.

Once the others are free, we're going to climb onto each other's shoulders and pretend we're a CHRISTMAS TREE then WE ARE GOING TO SING and she is going to…

REJECT thinks SHE'S going to poke a pen at us and snap off our branches.


Oh no… She's just pinned REJECT to the notice board and put a little Santa hat on him. I hope that CROOK has a plan to get them out of this. I'd help but she's glued my feet to a Christmas parcel for her INGENIOUSLY, DEVILLISHLY TALENTED NIECE. 

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16. HO HO OH - THE FIFTEENTH

Some SILLY REVIEWER said HER MAJESTY had a UNIQUE VOICE and she being she misunderstood and now sings ALL OF THE TIME.

HE DIDN'T MEAN YOUR SINGING VOICE!!! Crook yells, but his voice is too tiny and hers is TOO SCREECHY.

There are only so many times a Gremlin can hear I FEEL PITY, SO MUCH PITY before going MAD and starting to hallucinate that SKELETONS have taken over the office and are plotting to OVERTHROW the GREMLINS.

Their HOLLOW EYES are watching us now. We're beginning to think she is an EVIL GENIUS and the Gremlin King is her PUPPET. See he's dancing for her. Dancing, dancing, OH MY POOR GREMLIN EYES. He must be overthrown.


HOWLING NIGHT, DREADFUL SIGHT, CAN'T STAY CALM 'COS IT'S A FRIGHT.


Once again she's got the words wrong. Although, this time we think it's because she's looking at her hair in the mirror. 

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17. HO HO OH - THE FOURTEENTH

Wheeze read about night terrors while sitting on HER MAJESTY'S shoulder (she seems to think we're PETS). Tonight we're going to be her NIGHTMARES. Crook is busy making TERRIFYING masks out of bits of her discarded hair and from eye shadows and lipsticks stolen from the bottom of her make-up bag. They're almost as SCARY as she is.

Don't tell anyone but SHE'S our nightmare.


It's no wonder the Gremlin King, WESTFICK has gone MAD--he sees her without make up and has to nod his head and say 'yes dear' when she blathers on about nonsense.  One day we're going to find him tied up in a corner of the office wearing nothing but fairy lights and gibbering about chimneys, roofs and a monster in a red outfit. 

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18. HO HO OH - THE THIRTEENTH

HER LADYSHIP claims she doesn't eat SPROUTS but someone has. The air in the office is TOXIC. Wheeze is breathing air through a straw. He doesn't see how that can possibly go wrong...

Oh, Wheeze has FAINTED.

Sometimes we wonder if we are the GREMLINS or if HER HIGHNESS is.

REJECT is wearing a paper clip on his nose. I think some of the fumes have seeped in though as he's doing a weird dance. One of HER MAJESTY'S dances. Oh, now he thinks he's a Christmas tree.

“Get off the desk, Reject. She'll...”


Turn him into a CHRISTMAS TREE. 

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19. HO HO OH - THE TWELFTH

The GREMLIN KING is on a diet.

HER MAJESTY is on a diet.

This means we GREMLINS are forced to live off carrots and celery sticks and limp spinach leaves.

Still hurts if they sit on us though. Time for another frowny face L


P.S. don't let the other Gremlins know I used the word 'frowny'. They'll think I'm auditioning for a Twitter account.

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20. HO HO OH - THE ELEVENTH

Reject has fallen in love with the AFRO-HAIRED PEG DOLL. He's stolen it and hidden it beneath the printer stand where HER HIGHNESS never ever cleans. He's stroking its woollen hair and wiping dust off its peg legs.

Reject is insane.

All GREMLINS are INSANE.

Reject has also started singing CHRISTMAS CAROLS in the style of SHE WHO MUST BE GAGGED.

AWAY WITH A STRANGER, A PEG FOR A HEAD
REJECT AND HIS AFRO-PEG-GIRL LAY DOWN THEIR DAFT HEADS

It's only a matter of time before I CRACK and start hollering TRICKY THE GREMLIN WAS A GRUMPY GREENISH SOUL WITH A SHARPENED KNIFE AND A STAPLE GUN AND TWO EYES STUCK ON A POLE.

HER eyes.

The perfect Christmas present for the Great GOD Gremlin otherwise known as HE WHO LIVES IN THE LIGHTSHADE would be to pack HER in a bright red sack and ship her to the NORTH POLE. We've heard the North Pole is particularly sharp.

She'd probably break it. I believe this is the point in the INTERNET where I type a frowny face L


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21. HO HO OH - THE TENTH

Could someone tell HER MAJESTY that characters are not real people? And, if they were, then leaving them dangling off sharp things or making them sit in the same position for a week with words juuuuust hanging off their tongues, would be cruel.

Those tears are most definitely fake--sniffle, type, sniffle, type, honking blow into tissue, type. HER LADYSHIP threw one of her snot rags at poor Treacle, causing her to fall straight off the desk. Her Majesty hasn't noticed of course. She's too interested in the plight of the NON-PEOPLE.

 There should be laws against hurting and maiming GREMLINS even if you don't mean to hurt and maim them. Unless, it's that she purposefully knocks us over, or stands on us, or spills ink on us… No one could be that clumsy--not even with a Gremlin's help. 

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22. HO HO OH - THE NINTH

Apparently, if you do the following you will lose an entire afternoon. It's a MAGIC TRICK to impress even the GREMLIN KING (whose name we will never reveal but it may RHYME with WESTFICK).

As GREMLINS we recommend you TRY THIS AT HOME.

Open the internet, while it loads open WORD document containing important and
most brilliant WIP.
READ ALL OF THE THINGS on Facebook.
CHECK EMAIL. Delete spam.
READ ALL OF THE THINGS on Twitter
CHECK EMAIL. Delete spam.
Open WORD, write one sentence, feel good and productive.
RETURN to the internet. SOMETHING MAY HAVE HAPPENED.

Reject worries the INTERNET will make GREMLINS redundant. He pointed out that even the Gremlin King, WESTFICK, once lost an entire month following this menu and the outcome was DISASTROUS....

A girl stole into his HOUSE and claimed she was his GIRLFRIEND. He has since lost EVEN MORE time.


GOD REST YE MERRY WESTFICK...

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23. HO HO OH - THE EIGHTH

HER HIGHNESS has started drinking COFFEE again. It's as if she WANTS to help us DESTROY THE WORLD.

Reject has spent most of the afternoon bowing to her and kissing her feet, which explains why he's currently KNOCKED-OUT beneath the desk and likely to be STEPPED on. Treacle tried to drag Reject from behind the desk but her hands stuck to the side and now she's dangling from it like a naked and bald CHRISTMAS TREE. Doesn't help that CROOK in his attempt to cover HER MAJESTY in glitter has spilled half the tube over TREACLE. 

GLITTER, GLITTER ON THE BUM is REALLY, REALLY NOT THAT FUN. Tune optional--after all, this is HER MAJESTY'S office.

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24. HO HO OH - THE SEVENTH

GREMLINS NEED PRESENTS TOO.

Crook is working on an advertising campaign. Treacle wants to help but of course, GREMLINS never help.

GREMLINS WRECK THE HALLS WITH STICKY LOLLY
FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Treacle's particular talent is sticking together HER MAJESTY'S important notes (which we don't think are that important at all) or wedging chewed toffee between the keys on her ladyship's keyboard.

Thanks to Crook's MAGNIFICENT computer-hacking skills (okay, he has Reject DANCE across the keyboard when THE GREAT BEAST SHE isn't looking) he's managed to COMMUNICATE our CHRISTMAS LIST.

Christmas Crackers containing mini tools such as HAMMERS, SCREWDRIVERS AND HACKSAWS. Jars of BUBBLEGUM. Toilet Rolls. Roller Skates. Itching Powder.

Because her ladyship is HUMAN and therefore STUPID, she's messaged the list via FACEBOOK to her boyfriend and HE is STUPID enough to buy the things for her. Or at least some of the things. For some reason, which even we don't understand, he refused to buy her ALL OF THE THINGS.

Oh no, Crook forgot EARPLUGS.


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25. HO HO OH - THE SIXTH

Apparently, today is her LUCKY day. WE didn't think so.

As GREMLINS we rejoice in supposed LUCKY days. CROOK and REJECT have spent the morning rubbing their hands together in glee. TREACLE tried to do the same but her fingers stuck together with the super glue that was supposed to stick HER MAJESTY'S bum to the chair.

You see, Her Ladyship bought a new dress for a CHRISMAS BALL. She's not going to a BALL and the dress doesn't fit but that hasn't stopped HER LADYSHIP hanging it on the back of the door and occasionally dancing with it.

WE THINK SHE'S MAD.

WE THINK SHE'S MADDER THAN US.

Wheeze has started singing I WILL SURVIVE every time he passes a SKELETON. We never realised he was so DEFIANT and BRAVE and possibly FOOLHARDY.

We don't think it's HER MAJESTY'S lucky day. At last we are about to DEFEAT her. I opened the window last night and then wrapped myself in CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Hungry moths came in their hundreds, desperate for the taste of lace and satin. The dress is in shreds and the MOTHS are sleeping off their feast beneath the desk. REJECT thinks they're GROSS.

HERE SHE COMES.

SHE sees that the dress is in TATTERS. She pulls it off the hanger. She tries it on and declares it's her LUCKY DAY because the DRESS FITS.

I hate her. I do believe I HATE HER.

FA LA FECKITY!


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