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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

88_ym_writtensladestevens_blanch.jpg
Art by Darren Blanch 2021

Written by Slade Stevens

by Chris Alleyne



I had been writing for five years. There was never any question for me about what genre I would write. Any novel with the ‘Written by Slade Stevens’ tagline on the cover was guaranteed to be two things; bloody, macabre, and horrific, and a book that you could not put down once you had opened it. Or that’s what my publisher used as their marketing blurb.

It made no difference to me; I just wrote them. Prolifically. At the rate of one every eight months, it seemed. I had been blessed with an inherent feel for plot, words, and grammar, to the point that my books needed only minimal editing. In a way, it was scary, and I kept waiting to turn out something that was total crap, but I would write until that happened. Then, three books into my writing career, I picked up an unlikely fan. William Ravenscroft was an Englishman who had become famous, equally for the quality of his food, as for the vulgarity of his demeanor.

In England, it was unlikely that he would have achieved the level of fame that he had done in the good old US of A. The networks clamored for him to sign extended contracts to do his shows with them, but he never signed for more than a single season at a time.

And he loved my work. His endorsement was always free; every time I released a new book, the hardback copy was featured prominently on his counter, no matter what the network. And it cost me nothing! The networks were constantly running me down for advertising, and my publicist was always turning them away, more vigorously, unless they had a Ravenscroft cooking show scheduled for release. We saved hundreds of thousands in advertising.

His expletive-laden descriptions of my work guaranteed more sales than any other form of promotion would have. Occasionally, I condescended to do an interview, especially if it was close to a Ravenscroft special.

They all knew it, and I shamelessly exploited the situation. One comment from William, like, this is the most fucking fantastic read that you can pick up this spring. Or, if you enjoy horror stories, this one will have your tummy turning collywobbles from page 1; by page 10, you’ll be shitting yourself! was worth a few thousand sales.

Then, one day, he called me directly. I mean, yeah, I was making a name for myself, but William Ravenscroft was a star!

Then he turned up unannounced for a visit. Not driven in an entourage, but simply pulling his Porsche into my yard, bouncing out cheerily, sticking his hand out, and saying. “How the fuck are ya, Slade? I hope you’ve got a few minutes for your #1 fan.”

Shit! Did I?

“Come on in, William. Always have time for you.” We went into the house, and I poured two stiff shots of Scotch, handing one to him.

“So. To what do I owe this visit? I’m honored.”

He patted the leather couch next to him, and I sat as he started to talk.

That conversation started me off in a different direction with my writing. It became a national secret, and no one got a look at my manuscript without signing a really onerous non-disclosure agreement.

William became a regular visitor, arriving in nondescript Japanese vehicles which needed painting and staying out of sight of anyone who might recognize him.

Today would be the big reveal. William came over to meet my agent. When the three of us were sitting there, Scotches in hand, I handed an envelope to Mike McGinley, the man who had been my agent when I was still producing crap for online magazines.

“Mike, have a look and let me know what you think.”

McGinley pulled out the 80,000-word manuscript and looked at the front. He paled. “Jesus, Slade, William, without reading any further, I can say that this will be HUGE!” He read for a half-hour while we sipped our Scotch, refilling the glasses once.

The book was auctioned to a list of the top publishers in the world and yielded an initial advance deep in the six-figure range. After that, it flew through the cover design phase and a cursory edit, as did all of my work. Then it went to the printers.

Three months later, we were ready to launch. It was all set up under massive security; we had more than two thousand copies at the launch, all covered with dust cloths. On each side of the table stood easels, covered from just below my trademark cover top; a black and white image of my heavily-shadowed, deep-set eyes below a banner that read Written by Slade Stevens.

I sat behind the table. Waiting for the press. People gathered, filling the ample ballroom space; the cameras were set up.

I stood and walked around the table. An expectant hush descended on the crowd.

“Good evening, readers. Today I have a special guest who needs no introduction. I have recently become privileged to call this man my friend. William?”

I stepped back and waved to my left, and William Ravenscroft stepped out on that side of the table. There was a hushed silence, then thunderous applause broke out.

Ravenscroft started in a typical fashion. “I don’t think that anyone here is so fucking stupid that they don’t know that this man is one of the finest fucking writers of horror stories in the world. I am — ”

There was a popping sound, and William looked up, surprised. Then, two more pops and two more red spots appeared on William’s white tunic. He looked down and started to pirouette to the floor, and a man in jeans stepped out of the crowd, pistol in hand, and screamed, “That’s fixed you, you foul-mouthed heathen.”

At that exact moment, a security guard drew his service pistol and placed four well-aimed rounds into the gunman’s chest.

I dropped to the floor next to Ravenscroft, holding his head carefully. “Stay with me, William.” But it was no use; his blue eyes glazed over, and he stopped breathing. People pulled me away.

The cover on one of the easels had come off in the fracas. The book cover was displayed for all to see.

101 Recipes to Die For.

by Slade Stevens and William Ravenscroft

 

Slowly, the crowd noticed the cover, and a slow clap started, ending in thunderous applause.

My agent was right. This would be Fucking HUGE!




Chris Alleyne is a native-born Barbadian who has been involved in creative activities all his life. He is a photographer, a painter, and a woodworker and has also written unpublished poetry and published two coffee-table books of Barbados landscapes. He has been divorced for over 15 years and is the father of two young men and grandfather of two. A collection of some of his short stories—Into the Mist—is available on Amazon. He is currently working on a collection of novels, still looking for that elusive book deal!


Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory. Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.

Digital arts mastery provides what Darren wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to render.

View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch) works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart, YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio, DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author / intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion - SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021