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Welcome to the Dark Side!

We are writers mainly from Australia and New Zealand who write speculative fiction with romantic elements. Be it fantasy, paranormal, dark urban fantasy, futuristic and everything in between.

Thursday 28 February 2013

Magic Thursday: Clairvoyance, Tarot and Astrology - Where the Magical and Mystical meet reality

(Due to technical difficulties, this post was posted on Monday 4th March, rather than 28th Feb. Apologies.)

by Adina West

The world of the mystical is well entrenched in our otherwise scientific modern society. Everyone knows their star sign, right? Horoscopes are a common fixture in women’s magazines and newspapers, and there are online and telephone hotlines, and even SMS and Twitter services providing astrological and psychic readings and more.

The largest consumers of this information are undoubtedly women. Who among us doesn’t have at least one friend who has consulted a psychic? Perhaps you’ve consulted one yourself. And the attraction is obvious. Life is an uncertain thing, often filled with disappointments, and having a ‘reading’ done can provide a plan for the future. Something to work towards. Something to hope for.

There are those who like to have their cards read (cartomancy or Tarot), or their palm (chiromancy or palmistry), or read a detailed horoscope based on their time of birth (astrology). They might have a general psychic reading, involving perhaps a reading of their aura or of some valued and often worn possession like a ring or watch (psychometry).

Many of the methods used by a psychic or clairvoyant to ‘divine the future’ have histories of use dating back hundreds, even thousands of years. Most would agree that none of these methods of reading a person’s past, present or future require ‘magic’, and in fact they’re often backed by what is (sometimes unkindly) termed pseudo-science. Because there are the sceptics. Many of them. Since in most cases very little scientific ‘proof’ of claims is possible, this is an area that relies on faith. Either you believe, or you don’t.

I wanted to explore that whole concept in my novel, Dark Child. I chose to augment our familiar, and very real world, with an alternative history. An alternative past where witchcraft was once frighteningly real, and where events of the past led witches and other extraordinary beings to fade from human sight. To hide themselves away, behind magical runes. But to blur the line between the real and the imagined, I’ve also included many of the mystical elements that a large proportion of modern people do actually believe in. My heroine, Kat, though, is your original dyed-in-the-wool sceptic. It’s her housemate who convinces her to visit a psychic, where she has a Tarot reading, and has her palm read, with truly unnerving results.

When researching Tarot for this novel, I came across some wonderful information on the history of this form of fortune telling. The earliest tarot decks were hand-painted in the 15th century, and were decorated with gold or silver leaf – though when they were originally commissioned by Italian nobles in and around Milan these cards were used for everyday playing. Today, Visconti-Sforza tarot cards are a highly sought after and valuable collector’s item. In Dark Child, I chose to imagine that the psychic who tells the fortune of my heroine, Kat, is in possession of a rare set of these cards, that have been passed down through her family for many generations. The cards themselves are very beautiful, and certainly lend themselves to such imaginings.

Dark Child is being released by Momentum Books in serialized form; five episodes in five months, from February till June 2013.

Kat can run a marathon without breaking a sweat. Catch anything you throw at her. Differentiate blood types by smell alone. And she’s spent years hiding the fact. But secrets from the past have a way of slipping out when least expected ... and a simple blood test is enough to turn her quiet life in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains upside down forever.

Kat’s been craving raw meat. When she visits a psychic she’s told her lie is about to change forever. Kat isn’t so sure change is a part of her plan, but when a fabulous offer to work for a research organization comes her way, she’s tempted to say yes and make the move to New York. It just might be her chance to find out if there are others in the world like her…

Will her dream job bring answers to her questions or will it lead her into more trouble than she could ever imagine?

You can read the free sample for Dark Child: Episode One here.

So, which side of the psychic divide do you stand on? Are you a believer? Have you consulted a psychic, or do you know someone who has had predictions from one come true? For those who have consulted a psychic, how did they do your ‘reading’, and did they use cards, palmistry, or other tools? Did they know things about you that they couldn’t have, shouldn’t have, known by any other means?

Share your experiences with the mystical world of astrology and clairvoyance in the comments below – and you’ll be in the running to win a copy of Dark Child: Episode One. Or (as Episode One is currently on promotion and is free for a limited time) you can choose Episode Two if you prefer.

And please come and say hi to me on Twitter, or visit my blog or Facebook page.


Winner announced Saturday 8th March.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

A Bite Of...Dark Secrets

      This fortnight, it is my pleasure to introduce the amazing Shona Husk, with an excerpt of her book Dark Secrets.

     Can you, in less than five words describe your book/story Dark Secrets? 
     Weird west, male prostitute, redemption 
     What inspired you to write it?
I really like this world (same world as Dark Vow) and I have a lot of fun in the western style setting with magic and a few other tweaks. Haidyn, the hero, has made some big mistakes in his past and he hides a secret that could get him killed. He has magic but he doesn’t work for the Arcane Union. He is Rogue (which means he’ll hang if caught). Writing about a fallen hero who runs and works in a Lust House was a tempting challenge. Finding the perfect heroine was easy—a woman from his past, the only woman he’s ever loved. Of course I put her in the arms of his enemy.

And here's the snippet!

Then I saw her, gold hair pinned up and glinting in the sun the way it always had. Back then she’d worn it loose or in one long braid. She was dressed in pale blue and white, and until then I’d never hated white so much. It was his claim on her and a reminder that he was spending his nights with Anisa.

I should’ve turned away.

She was his, not mine. Not anymore. But I couldn’t get the memory of his thoughts out of my head—or his words.

I walked closer, feigning interest in ribbons and lace as I studied her. Her face had lost the childish curves and had gained the sculpted look of a woman. Wide cheekbones and lush lips that I remembered kissing far too well. Seeing her, I needed her the same way I always had. I craved her touch. My blood heated as a desire that was all mine crept through my body.

Back then, that hadn’t been enough for me. I’d wanted more.

But where her mouth had once been ready with a smile, now there was tension. Her blue eyes held a concern that had been lacking when she’d been in my arms. We’d been so young.

Without a care.

I’d broken it all.

She lifted a stick of cinnabark and sniffed. As she did her gaze caught mine. What did she see? Not the boy filled with pride and sure of his place. A man in clothes that spoke of too much coin, a dandy? The whore master of the Red Lust House? Or did she see me, Haidyn?

For a moment neither of us moved. Her hand jerked and her eyes widened, and in that moment I knew she recognized me. Not because I could sense her thoughts. My mind was silent. Around Anisa my magic had always been unrequired and I’d never tried to sneak into her mind. She’d made me promise never to look inside. It was the one promise I’d made to her that I’d kept.

Then she looked away and spoke to the spice merchant. So that was it. I released the breath I’d been holding, not wanting to break the moment. Somehow I’d expected more. My boots remained still as if nailed to the cobbles. Six years on, and she still had the power to stop my world. Only this time I knew the value of that gift.

She paid for the spice and glided closer as if she were interested in buying ribbons.

Suddenly so was I.

Thank you so much for sharing Shona :)

If you want to find out more about Shona and her books, check out the following links!


And here are the buy links!


Tuesday 26 February 2013

Good News Day!

Welcome to this week's good news...


Erica Hayes celebrates the release of Redemption (Berkley Sensation) on 5th March.

Japheth the Tainted is on the hunt for a mysterious demon vampire. But meeting her face-to-face might disarm his warrior spirit—and spark an unquenchable passion with apocalyptic consequences.
As a fallen angel, Japheth is determined to make his way back to heaven by staying pure and slaying hellspawn. With a new scourge of vampires unleashed by a blood-drinking demon, the Prince of Thirst, there’s plenty to be done. But Japheth is after one vampire in particular—the one they call the Angel Slayer.
Rose Harley never wanted to be a vampire, but the Prince of Thirst can turn even the kindest soul into a soldier of hell. Feeling abandoned by God, she stalks the West Village taking revenge on his angels—until she meets her match.

When Japheth and Rose encounter each other, the battle is fierce and charged with desire. But when they discover a common enemy—the Prince of Thirst himself—they form a dangerous alliance that could either cost them their eternal lives, or spark a love more powerful than heaven or hell. 

Luna Exposure is Shona Husk's next release coming out May 10th from Ellora’s Cave.

Bounty hunter Callen wants to capture Noga—a terrorist—both for the money and for revenge. But catching a criminal on the sensual resort of Decadent Moon without giving in to all the destination’s sexual pleasures is harder than it seems.
Haliday is the darling of the media, a socialite known as much for her casual relationships as she is for her charitable donations. No one knows she hunts down criminals.
Lust and ambition clash, and Callen and Haliday will have to find a way to work together, despite the distraction of their passionate bond. To succeed they must trust each other, something neither Callen nor Haliday is willing to do.

Sealed With A Kiss is Eleni Konstantine's upcoming, indie published, paranormal romance short story.

Can a gift from her grandmother protect Lise?
Lise doesn’t believe in vampires. Or so she tells herself. Though, she constantly wears the garnet necklace her grandmother gave her, which wards off the creatures. Andreas, the man she’s attracted to, seems more than a little interested in it. Could there be an ulterior motive?

Betrayed is Christina Phillips new fantasy erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave (Xanadu line), coming out March 30th, 2013.

In 51 A.D., Druid priestess Nimue is injured and enslaved by the hated Roman Legions. Even though she is drawn to her captor, she’s determined to escape and complete her mission for the Briton king and her duty to Arianrhod, the goddess she is bound to.
The tough Roman warrior who captures her is far from the brutal barbarian she expects. His touch inflames her desires and passion burns between them. Though Nimue does not accept her enslavement, her heart surrenders to her enemy. When Arianrhod appears to her in the form of an owl, Nimue knows the union is blessed.
Roman warrior Tacitus is enchanted by the fiery beauty who shows no fear and challenges him at every turn. Though enslaving her goes against his heart, he’s determined to make her his. No woman has ever heated his blood as she does. But when he discovers her true nature as one who actually communes with the gods, his loyalties are torn between his heritage and a woman who could destroy everything he’s ever believed in.

Trailer here.

Mel Teshco's Galactic Flame came out with Ellora's Cave (Aeon line) on 20th February, 2013.

Eden isn’t meant to be the alien prince’s intended lifemate, it’s her sister who is the one promised to him. But when Genesis comes to Earth and mistakenly believes Eden is his mate, she knows it’s the perfect opportunity to play the role her sister never wanted.
But Genesis’ alien province is barren, red and isolated. It’s only when Eden steps into the magnificent alien’s arms and is taught unimaginable carnal pleasures that she begins to wonder if she hasn’t filched the most priceless prize of all.

Coming 1st March, 2013 with Escape Publishing is S.E.Gilchrist's futuristic short story, The Portal.

When Janni, a young salvager, boards a space wreck, she is caught for daring to steal Darkon tech by a patroller and the one man she had thought never to see again. Several months ago she had allowed him to slip past her defences for a brief and wonderful interlude. But with both of them on either sides of the law, they had walked away. Now they are trapped on a wreck and with an alien life-force hunting them. Will the patroller save her or abandon Janni to her fate?

C.M.Simpson has self-published A Battle of Minds, a speculative science fiction short story. It released 22 February, 2013. It's available from Smashwords, Kobo, Kindle, Amazon, Nook and Kobo. It will one day be incorporated into An Anthology of Minds.

Danzer is a VR combat star. Unfortunately, somebody wants him dead. Is it a private vendetta from someone he’s defeated, a disgruntled fan, or someone else entirely. Whoever they are, their poetry stinks, but its meaning is clear. Security personnel for the VR games insist on overseeing the match between him and his most dangerous opponent, but no one knows if it will be enough. Will Security succeed in their intervention, or will their efforts result in more than Danzer losing their lives?

Carlie Simonsen (aka C.M. Simpson, Madeleine Torr) has released a number of novels on 17th Febrary, 2013.

All Alone - a tween-teen illustrated fiction. It is currently available from Smashwords, and will shortly become available from Kobo, Kindle, and CreateSpace. 
Jason must look after his little sister Emmie when they find themselves alone in a city, in another country, far from home. Did their parents survive the bomb blast, and can they find them, or will they be stuck growing up in the care of strangers and never see home again?

Dear Tiger (Bk#1 Letters Across Space series) - another teen/young adult non-illustrated fiction
“Dear Tiger, this has been the best day ever… but I lie.”
Simone Michaels is in trouble, but she doesn’t know how deep. Her letters to old friend, Tiger, reveal that her parents are missing, and that she is afraid she’ll go missing, too. When her parents’ employer takes her in, and takes care of her education and living arrangements, she is drawn more deeply into the mystery. Simone keeps her secrets as best she can, including the secret of the mysterious box her parents sent before they disappear, but she is just as afraid of opening it, as she is of the company discovering its existence. Does it contain the only clue to what really happened to her parents, or does it contain her doom?

Legacy of Dreams is a young adult, non-illustrated fiction. It can now be found at Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iTunes.
Tanya knows her parents have been tip-toeing around the problem of keeping a horse she can no longer ride, and whose very name makes her burst into tears. Tanya has only just discovered something that might help things, when she is faced with having to face losing her horse, Copper, altogether. The only question is, whether the family budget can stretch that far. Must she lose the only link left to the life she used to have?


Bec McMaster's Heart of Iron (London Steampunk #2) received a Seal of Excellence from Fresh Fiction:
"Bec McMaster has a unique way of luring readers in. The worldbuiling is phenomenal, the kind that is only limited by the boundaries of the imagination. McMaster continues to step over that line and creates a vastly unique and utterly vivid world that transports readers into another place. Blending together steampunk elements in a traditional historical setting is the soil in which McMaster uses to grow and bloom wonderful surprises for her readers."
Full review here.

Skin by Kylie Scott gets another 5 star review, this time from Selena-Lost-in-Thought:
"Ros is so pig headed and strong willed that protecting her is almost impossible. Nick matches her pig headedness and strong will tit for tat and has a determination that outshines Ros on any day. He has vowed to protect her at any cost. And earning her trust it the thing that seems most important to him. Basically BUYING her with a van full of food wasn't exactly the best first step in their crazy relationship. (haha) But it was definitely a start!!
I really enjoyed this book, I hope to see more like these for Kylie Scott in the future."


The audio version of Eleni Konstantine's Minion (flash fiction story) is now up on AntiSF Radio Show 175.

check out all our books on our dsdu-books shelf:
DarkSide DownUnder's book lists (dsdu-books shelf)