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Echo Valley Cover


“Oh my god, I look like shit.” Announced Stacey in her loud northern accent, loud enough to turn a few heads of the other passengers sharing the same train carriage. Sat opposite, Mathew let a laugh escape in a rush of air rasping between his lips. He hoped it came out in a way that said: you never look like shit. You're always beautiful. But if Stacey understood, she hid it well. She dragged down the skin beneath her left eye, revealing the wet, red fleshy part.

“Ugh, can you hold this for me, Matty?”

Mathew hated being called Matty. Mathew was fine, Matt if you must, but not Matty. Yet, Stacey was the only person in his life who he actually preferred calling him Matty. She said it so sweetly she practically sang it. It made him feel good, kind of like a pet name for a boyfriend. Except the part where he would actually be the boyfriend. Stacey never really had official boyfriends. The guys she was seen with were tall, dark, most likely in a band and undoubtedly covered in tattoos and or piercings. Certainly not quiet, short and stocky boys like Mathew.

Mathew hunched over on his seat and shyly held the small, rounded mirror with the crack down the middle that Stacey held out to him. Peering over the curve of the mirror, Mathew watched Stacey delicately apply her heavy black eyeliner around her deep emerald eyes.


Mathew didn't really understand her undying need for the makeup. She put it on every morning on the train to college due to almost always oversleeping. Sure, she looked tired, but certainly not terrible. And definitely not to Mathew.

            “Cheers Matty.” she said finally, taking the mirror back off him so he could put down his aching arm.

“Ugh, I really cannot be asked with today.” She puffed loudly, spreading herself lazily across the two seats. Mathew noticed a couple of older passengers shaking their heads.  Mathew grinned and swept a strand of midnight blue hair back across his forehead, becoming suddenly aware of the possibility his natural ginger roots could be peeking through. “I’ve always wondered how far up country I could get before getting kicked off.”

Stacey’s eyes went wide. Her mouth formed a perfect ‘O’ shape. “We should definitely do that!” she squealed in amazement.

Mathew chuckled to himself. “I was joking. But yeah, one day maybe we should.”

Stacey’s eyes then fell away in her familiar thoughtfulness. Her lips pursed and a dark, drawn on eyebrow curved high. As she looked down, her jet black and lemon blonde extensions flowed like silk across her white sports jacket. Then she turned back to Mathew and shot him a look. A look she had when inspired with one of her own outrageous ideas. A look he could never resist.

A look he should’ve said no to.

“Why not now?” she whispered.

Mathew chuckled nervously. “Are you serious? We’re almost at college now, you nutcase!”

“Come on Matty, why not? Fuck it, let’s just do it!” She still held the same hungry look, trapping him.


Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now approaching Exeter Central. Exeter Central, our next station stop. Change here for…”

Stacey’s hand was on Mathews arm like a whip before he could even pick up his bag. “Stay!” she commanded with her playfully assertive face. Mathew hoped if he kept laughing, she would stop and let go. Awkward laughter got him out of most situations, but not this one. “Stacey, no. Come on, I’ve got a project to hand in today and collect my negatives from the dark room.”

Stacey rolled her eyes but kept her grip on him. “Matt, will you stop being such a pussy? Just do it!” Outside the window, Mathew saw the train slowing down as it approached the station. The sky was filled with the morning colours of a smooth lemon to baby blue gradient over the horizon. The train came to a halt and Mathew was beside himself. He watched the other passengers leave the carriage, leaving it empty except for himself and Stacey.

“It’ll be fun.” She chimed in a deceivingly angelic voice.

That was when Mathew made his first mistake. He succumbed to her and her look. A look he came to dread. Hesitantly, he sat back down and heard the whooshing of the train doors closing.

“Fine.” He huffed. “But only because I might actually get some good shots.”

“Yes!” Stacey bounced gently up and down on her behind, pulling up her clenched fists to her chest in victory and excitement. This drew Mathew’s eyes to the fresh, colourful tattoo she had spread across her chest. A heart shaped lock with two white angel wings on each side. He remembered it was one of the first things he asked Stacey. “What does your tattoo mean?” and to his disappointment she sniggered “I don’t know. It just looks cool.”

Mathew pulled out an old film camera from his bag- A polaroid, to be exact. “Smile” he grinned as he aimed the view-point at Stacey.

Through the tiny plastic square hole, Mathew watched Stacey let a corner of her red lips curve up and escape to her cheek. She flipped up her middle finger to the camera, trying to position it close enough to the camera that it covered her face.

Click! A blinding flash. Mathew didn’t remember changing the settings.

When Mathew put down his camera, he saw the once morning colours had gone from outside only to be replaced with a mix of midnight purple and blood red. The train had come to an eerie silent standstill. Stacey was gone.


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Recent Posts


| 21st August 2017 | Echo Valley

And now folks, it's time for a little backstory...   *Vision fades into blurry waves to reveal a small, coffee and man scented flat in Paignton, Devon.*   We're talking a good 5-nearly-6 years ago now, before I had any inclination to write, before I had any real idea of what I wanted to do in life other than a small handful of things. One of those things was going for a jam every Thursday evening with my brother-in-law-to-be.   We'd write songs. I'd bring my knock-off Fender Squire imposter (God knows how that thing still worked; it was £30 off ebay and held together with electric tape and a bottle opener i'd stolen from Travelodge) and Lee would sing or join in on his acoustic.   I'd record the sessions with an old Sony cassette player and we'd forever talk about how good this song and that song would sound when we eventually start a band (turns out you need friends to make a full band- who knew?)   This may seem insignificant, but (prepare for cheese!) I ended up asking Lee to be my best man for my wedding. I'd only really “known” him for about 5 minutes. But the guy who was originally best man, someone I'd known for a good 10 years I ended up falling out with big time. And the other friends who I asked instead for some reason or another couldn't make it to my wedding. So i'd asked my fiance's brother as a last resort- not that I thought in any way he was a bad guy, quite the opposite. I just imagined the best man for my wedding being someone i'd known a little longer.   Anyway, the year leading up to the wedding that followed turned out to be one of the best. We had an amazing friendship form and he became one of my best friends (except for the stag due. I've still not forgiven him for that.)   It's these reasons that I included 'Drifting' as the song I wanted to be in Echo Valley. When I was writing it, it was originally going to be a better known jazz song, but then half way through the chapter something happened where it was like it had to be Drifting; A song me and Lee wrote together and recorded back in those days in the man and coffee scented flat.   The song isn't an amazing song. It will never hit charts or be on every car advert, but it means a lot to me and it felt perfect for the scene in Echo Valley. I've managed to dig out the old recording on tape and transfer into digital. Lee's voice sounds like he's wearing trousers that are slightly too tight, but that's merely the tape's quality. In celebration of my dear Outlaw-inlaws birthday, you can listen to it here or download it for free.       *Blurry waves return, returning you to present day*   We jammed together for a good 4 years . We practiced in an old spare room with an obscene amount of dead flys landing on our equipment. We eventually found friends and they joined with drums, guitars and basses. I had went on to have 2 kids, the band didn't.If you want to hear what Lee's voice sounds like now in non-tight-pants tape quality, you can check out his band Deadfly's EP. And you should do, really. Because it's his birthday. They also released their first music video for their new single Demockary, which I'll link you to as well because people do nice things when there are birthdays. Happy Birthday, babe xoxoxox     Photo Credit to our lovely wedding photographer Holly  (Link version incase the embed fails)  Happy Birthday, babe xoxoxox     Photo Credit to our lovely wedding photographer Holly   ...

Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft

| 20th August 2017 | Echo Valley

Today marks the birthday of one of my favourite writers, Howard Phillips Lovecraft.   But he's not one of my favourite writers for the typical reasons that come with loving a writers work. Lovecraft is one of my favourite writers because his work genuinely scares the shit out of me. I like horror, but I find I get bored of it quite fast when it's just pure gore and “jumpy bits” for the sake of being violent. I don't find that scary. Lovecraft's strange, haunting ideas and captivating atmosphere are what terrifies me as well as draws me closer to his work.   Arguably the writer who defined the Weird Fiction genre, HPL isn't just known for his own works such as The Call of Cthulu, The whisper in the Darkness, The Necronomicon and so many more, but the term Lovecraftian has become a word used to describe and inspire so many works.   A few years back, I stumbled across what would become my favourite graphic novel series – Joe Hill's Locke & Key. With a lot of Lovecraftian themes and tones, the story explores a family and it's house, or more importantly its keys. Each one performing a different strange spell. From time traveling, to gender bending. The first book even having the subtitle of “Welcome to Lovecraft”.   Not long after I discovered one of my favourite works of ongoing fiction- Welcome to Nightvale. A fictional podcast based solely on a radio station broadcasted from a strange and eerie town. Also heavy in it's Lovecraftian ideas.   The show's writer, Joeseph Fink, wrote a book (sadly no longer in print) called The untold stories of H.P Lovecraft and What it Means to be a Grownup. It turns out, Lovecraft had a lot of ideas he'd never followed through beyond a sentence or two. 221 one them, in fact. The list is amazing and I highly recommend them as writing prompts for writers everywhere. The ideas go from beautifully dark, to incredibly simple and to just plain morbid. It was one of the simpler ideas in the list, 15 “Bridge and Slimy Black Waters” that contributed to the inspiration for my first book, Echo Valley.   The saddest thing of all, is that HPL was a sensitive soul and received a lot of criticism as well as praise for his work back in the day. And the smallest criticism to his work put him off from publishing a lot of his arguably brilliant stories and ideas. If only he could see how much his work has continued to inspire artists and writers today. So if you're an aspiring writer or creative and want to take one thing to learn from Lovecraft, then let it be to have the guts to finish and share your work. Have that confidence in your own creations that only you can make.   To celebrate HPL's birthday, I've created a promo code to knock 50% off of Echo Valley Paperbacks for today only. Just head here and use 'HAPPYBIRTHDAYHPL' on the checkout.   Here's to you Howard. Thank you for inspiring our art and haunting our dreams. Happy Birthday old chap....

Bristol Horror Con 2017

| 15th August 2017 | Events & Appearances

Hi folks, I know it's been a while since I've wrote a "proper" blog post but I have been busy, um...well, mostly writing and focusing on the release and promotion of Echo Valley.   But anyway, right onto it. Drum roll please...     Myself and the lovely Curiosity Cabinet Studios will be running a stall at this years Bristol Horror Con! We're gonna be selling all sorts of gross stuff in the month of Halloween like weird, scarily convincing props and of course, signed books of the banned variety.   If you're about at BHC2017 then come say hi and hang out with us. We're actually pretty friendly despite the terrifying make-up Laura's probably going to be covering us in.   You can RSVP the official event on Facebook and we've got our own one over here if you want to 'attend' that one too.   Keep your eyes peeled as I've also got more exciting things to announce soon (I know right? Where does it stop?!)   Until then, stay weird.   ~ Jon...

Echo Valley now on Amazon!

| 08th August 2017 | Echo Valley

For those of you who prefer reading light, electronic and cheap, you can now purchase Echo Valley on Amazon for epub and Kindle! Of course, if you would like to support me even more, then you can purchase a paperback copy off myself, complete with childish doodles and handwritten packaging. (p.s Paperback > Digital)   That's all for now. In the meantime, if you're dying to read Echo Valley but are otherwise broke then go forth and add it to your to-read list on Goodreads and/or your wish-list on Amazon. And whilst you're there, feel free to leave an honest review. It would help me out a ton. More thrilling stuff to be announced soon so do feel free to stalk me up on Facebook. Until then, stay weird and excited for your favourite time of year. ~ Jon...