Guest Blog: Horror Author Catherine Cavendish

Today, I’d like to welcome horror author, Catherine Cavendish, to my website to talk about revenge and to give you a preview of her new release Dark Avenging Angel. Over to Catherine!

Kuchisake-onna – The Slit Mouthed Woman

pic 1My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. From Japan comes the legend of Kuchisake-onna – The Slit Mouthed Woman.

Japan abounds with tales of avenging spirits. This one may concern a relatively recent urban legend of a spirit who was first sighted in the Nagasaki area in around 1979. The story of this hideously deformed woman – who had been mutilated by her husband – spread quickly across Japan and caused fear and panic in many towns. Police increased their patrols, teachers escorted groups of children home to ensure their safety.

But the legend didn’t stop in Japan. Before too many years had passed, it seems Kuchisake-onna (or someone very much like her) had crossed borders and turned up in South Korea. In 2004, a story emerged from there about a woman wearing a red mask, frequently seen chasing children. Then, in 2007, a coroner found some archived records from the late 1970s concerning a woman who chased small children. She was hit by a car and died soon after. The strange thing was, behind her mask, her mouth had been ripped from ear to ear – just like the Slit Mouthed Woman. Could they be all the same woman – or more than one?

pic 2The detail of the legend varies a little from place to place, but the more usual version is that a woman wearing a surgical mask will approach children walking alone at night. Many people in Japan wear such masks to prevent the spread of infection, or to ward off the worst effects of traffic pollution. But this woman will stop the child and ask, “Am I pretty?” If the child says, ‘No,” she will kill it with a pair of large scissors she always carries. If the child nods or says, “Yes”, the woman will then rip off her mask to reveal the terrible slit, which has ripped her mouth from ear to ear.

The woman then asks, “How about now?” From then on, the victim’s fate is sealed. If the child replies, “No,” she cuts it in half. If the response is “Yes,” she slits his/her mouth like hers. However much the child may try and escape her, she is impossible to run from. She simply appears in front of the hapless victim.

She isn’t completely invincible though. It is believed that a possible route to escape is to answer vaguely. When she asks her question, the child could reply “You’re so-so”, or “You’re about average”. It is even thought that Kuchisake-onna retains some good manners, so if you were confronted and told her you had a prior engagement and really can’t stop to chat now, she may excuse you. Some say that distracting her by throwing her some fruit or sweets will cause her to stop to pick them up, giving the intended victim a chance to get away. Finally, if the child turn the question back on him/herself and asks “Am I pretty?” she becomes confused and leaves.

pic 3There is an earlier version of this story which states that the woman lived hundreds of years ago and was the young wife – or concubine – of a samurai warrior. She was vain and aware of the power of her looks over men. Sadly she was also faithless. The samurai found out about her affairs and slit her mouth from ear to ear. He then taunted her. “Who will think you are beautiful now?”

So whether the Slit Mouthed Woman is a recent or more ancient manifestation – or indeed, if there have been more than one of them (as it would appear) – the message is clear, don’t allow your children to go off wandering alone at night. And beware of women in surgical masks!

pic 4Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:
Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it. 

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel here:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

Omnilit

 

Catherine Cavendish About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

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Guest Blog: Catherine Cavendish – Horror Author

Today my guest is Catherine Cavendish, author of The Pendle Curse. Cat is here to tell us some of the story behind the persecution of so-called ‘witches’ in the era and location in which the novel is set.

The Samlesbury Witches

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My new novel – The Pendle Curse – has some of its roots in a true story. In August 1612, ten men and women were convicted, in Lancaster, England, of crimes related to witchcraft and subsequently hanged on Gallows Hill. They became known to history as the Pendle Witches.

They were not alone.

At the same Lancaster Assizes, on 19th August 1612, that saw the conviction and hanging of the 10 Lancashire – Pendle – Witches, three women from the nearby village of Samlesbury were also tried.

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As with their hapless counterparts, the Samlesbury witches were in court largely as a result of the accusations and testimony of a young girl. Grace Sowerbutts, variously reported as being thirteen or fourteen years old at the time, was somewhat older than Jennet Device, but – because of her – Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley and Ellen Bierley faced the distinct possibility of conviction and hanging. Lancaster hanged more witches than any other Assizes in the whole of the UK outside of London. As with the Pendle witches, their trial was faithfully recorded by clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, who published it in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster – the book that found its way across the Atlantic to the town of Salem, Massachusetts where it proved a convenient handbook for trials there in 1692.

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The women stood accused of child murder and even cannibalism. Jane Southworth was the widow of John Southworth, eldest son of the owner of Samlesbury Hall – Sir John Southworth, a staunch Catholic who had been imprisoned on a number of occasions for refusing to renounce his faith. When Jane’s husband converted to the Protestant faith, his father disinherited him and apparently avoided Jane wherever possible, believing her to be a witch who would inevitably cause his son’s death. In fact the Southworth family was firmly split along religious lines.

Sir John died in 1595 and Jane’s husband died (of natural causes) in 1612. She had been a widow for just a few months when she was arrested – along with Jennet and Ellen Bierley – for using, “diverse devillish and wicked Arts, called Witchcrafts, Inchauntments, Charmes, and Sorceries, in and upon one Grace Sowerbutts”.

At the trial, Grace claimed that Jennet and Ellen Bierley (her grandmother and aunt) had transported her up to the top of a hayrick by her hair and ‘haunted and vexed’ her for years. They could transform themselves into dogs, she said, for which they needed the body of a baby they killed. Thomas Walshman’s baby to be precise. Grace said her aunt and grandmother had taken her to the Walshmans’ house, stolen the baby and sucked its blood. The next day, the child died and was buried in Samlesbury Church, but Ellen and Jennet dug up the body, took it home, cooked and ate part of it and used the rest to aid their fiendish shapeshifting.

Grace also claimed her aunt and grandmother attended sabbats with Jane Southworth twice weekly, at which dancing, feasting and sex with ‘foure black things, upright, and yet not like men,’ took place.

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Thomas Walshman confirmed that his child had died of unknown causes and said he had found Grace Sowerbutts collapsed in his father’s barn, a condition from which she didn’t recover until the following day.

The trial of the Samlesbury Three didn’t go as did the trials of the Pendle witches. Under questioning by the Judge, the witnesses began to quarrel with each other and eventually admitted that Grace had been ‘coached’ by a Catholic priest named Thompson. The defendants sank to their knees and begged Grace to withdraw her accusations. The Judge ordered two JPs to question her. They did so and, sure enough, Grace admitted her story was untrue. She said she had been told what to say by Jane Southworth’s uncle by marriage– Christopher Southworth, a Jesuit priest. As Jesuits were being persecuted at the time, he was in hiding. He had been chaplain at Samlesbury Hall – and probably still was, secretly. His motive in causing Grace to accuse Jane and the Bierleys appears to have been simply because of their religion.

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The judge ordered the jury to find the three women not guilty, describing Grace as ‘the perjuring tool of a Catholic priest.’

The last words on this surely belong to Thomas Potts as he concluded his account of the trial of the Samlesbury Witches:

“Thus were these poore Innocent creatures, by the great care and paines of this honourable Judge, delivered from the danger of this Conspiracie; this bloudie practise of the Priest laid open”.

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Now, here’s the blurb for The Pendle Curse:

Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there. But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.

Here’s a short extract from the beginning:

His spirit soared within him and flew up into the storm-clad sky as blackness descended and the rain became a tempest.

He flew. Lost in a maelstrom of swirling mists. Somewhere a baby cried until its sobs became distorted, tortured roars. Beyond, a black void loomed. He saw Alizon’s spirit just ahead and tried to call out to her, but his voice couldn’t reach her.

Beside him, another spirit cried out. His mother. He flinched at her screams before they were drowned in the mass—that terrible parody of some hideous child.

The blackness metamorphosed. An amorphous shape formed as his eyes struggled to see with their new vision—the gift of death. Small baby limbs flailed towards him. Eyes of fire flashed as a toothless mouth opened. Screeching, roaring and demanding to be fed. Demanding its mother.

His spirit reached out for his lover. Tried to pull her back. “Alizon!”

She turned anguished eyes to him. “It calls to me.”

He recognized it instantly. The blazing fire. The devil child. That cursed infant had come for them.

Again he reached out with arms that no longer felt connected to him, but he was powerless to stop Alizon being swept away, deep into the abomination’s maw.

“No!” His cry reverberated around him—a wail of anguish in a sea of torment.

Then…silence. Only he remained, drifting in swirling gray mists of time.

“I will find you, sweet Alizon. One day I will find you. And I will find the one who betrayed us.”

From somewhere, he heard an echo…

You can buy The Pendle Curse here:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

About the author

Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish – Cat to her friends – lives with her husband in a haunted 18th century building in North Wales. Fortunately for all concerned, the ghost is friendly and contents herself (she’s definitely female) with switching on lights, and attempting to discover how the TV and washing machine work (it’s a long story!).

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She is the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits In The Shadows. The Pendle Curse is her latest novel for Samhain; her first – Saving Grace Devine – was published in 2014.

Her daily walks have so far provided the inspiration for two short stories and a novella. As she says, “It’s amazing what you see down by the river, as it flows through a sleepy rural community.” Those with delicate constitutions are advised not to ask!
You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

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Tsu

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Guest Post: Ute Carbone Introduces ‘The Whisper of Time’

The Whisper of Time 500x750

Click to view on Amazon

 The Whisper of Time

When fate offers Gwynn Powell a chance to start over, she jumps at the opportunity. Laid off and living with a husband whose gambling problem has eaten through a good part of their savings, Gwynn buys a farmhouse sight unseen, leaving both her marriage and her old home behind.

But fate has more in mind for Gwynn than just a new home. The farmhouse, tucked away in the Green Mountains of Vermont where even GPS can’t find it, is also a step back in time. And Slate Peck, the farm’s caretaker and part owner, is tied to Gwynn’s destiny in ways she never expected.

Where to buy the e-book:
Smashwords
Amazon

Excerpt

The kiss was flight, the kind of kiss that had magic I hadn’t known existed. Or maybe it was the kind of kiss I had known long before and had all but forgotten, like the scent of roses once they’re no longer in bloom.
We came apart, the kiss still fluttering in the air between us, but muted now and then it plunged with a heavy thought. Kyle. What was I going to do about Kyle? I had married him in the Wedding Chapel at Caesar’s Palace, canned Elvis singing “Love me Tender.” I was still married to him. I wanted Kyle to be someone different. I wanted him to be Slate. Slate, who I seemed to have travelled back in time to find. Slate, whose violet blue eyes were watching me with such intensity it made my heart hurt.
“I need…” I began, not able to put words to my feelings. “It’s a lot to take in. I’m not sure how to move forward from here. And yet I have this sense I belong here, with you.”
“Maybe it is,” Slate said. “Where you belong.”

 Ute4smallAbout Ute

Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is an award winning author of women’s fiction, comedy, and romance. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where she spends her days walking, eating chocolate and dreaming up stories.

Books and stories by Ute Carbone:

Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is an award winning author of women’s fiction, comedy, and romance. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where she spends her days walking, eating chocolate and dreaming up stories.

Blueberry Truth
The P-Town Queen
Afterglow
Searching for Superman
Sweet Lenora
The Lilac Hour
To The Wind
Dancing in the White Room
All Things Returned
Confessions of the Sausage Queen
The Whisper of Time

For more about Ute and her books, please visit:

Web page
Blog
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Love Stories (available daily via Paper Li)

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