Thursday, 31 October 2013

Captain Kidd in Salem

The Trustees of Misery Island

It had been a bad business in Salem right enough. Kidd was not long married at the time, enjoying a spell on land in Boston. All summer, it was all anyone could talk about, by the autumn, it was done. Kidd was no stranger to witchcraft, most of the sailors he knew were as superstitious as they were drunk, so he knew the difference between magic and mischief making. It was not so very long ago that Kidd had sailed with the old Sea Witch herself - there was a real terror; these poor women though, Kidd doubted more than one or two of them had the gift. Or curse, depending on how you looked at it. But it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and if there's one thing witch trials were good for, it was scaring folks - and scared folks with witches on their mind were apt not to notice a spot of pirating, and even less likely to go snooping about places they believed were unnatural.

So it was that Kidd had travelled up to Salem not too long after the last of the ladies were hanged at Gallows Hill. Knowing the hanged  would not have been buried in the churchyard, Kidd simply looked to the ditches and fields on the outskirts of town, to those places where the bodies of the women unclaimed by families were likely to have found rest. Digging up a body is little different from digging up treasure, and by this time, Kidd had a little practice at both. He knew exactly what he was looking for, any coins or stones still stuck in the throat would do - there's no guardian better for treasure than a damned soul. And here in Salem, most of the work had been done for him.

Not all his treasure had spectral guardians - magic could sometimes cost more than the gold; the Chinese horde had an ingenious device of clockwork and gunpowder, the French haul was protected by the strange blue lights which confounded compasses and closer to home, the cherry trees hid a particularly nasty surprise. But for this loot, in this place, a little witchcraft seemed appropriate. His macabre booty gathered in, he strolled away from Salem town and back to his boat.

Misery Island was well named. The broken rocks tore out from the shoreline like the teeth of some unseen beast, smashing apart the boats foolish enough to venture near. It was a small island, dark and quiet, but with enough of a tree line to hide his activities if he were still here by daybreak. Last time he had buried treasure, he'd taken a few of the men with him. It always seemed like such a waste. He'd lost a good Cabin Boy on that trip. But you could never be sure when your luck would change. Just one shovel tonight.

Kidd dug long and hard, not too deep to be lost, not too shallow to be found. He would place the stone near the top. A well travelled sailor would recognise a witch stone immediately, a superstitious one would flee. Thereafter, the soul would wander near the treasure, keeping all but the stone's owner at bay.

Kidd's shovel hit the island bedrock much sooner than he thought he would, the clash and chime of steel on stone broke the silence. Kidd knew immediately that something was wrong. Looking down to shore he saw the fogbank rolling slowly in, gasping between the rocks. And something else, a humming. There was something older, something darker than the damned souls of Salem on Misery Island, and it wasn't something Kidd had brought ashore. The edge of the pit Kidd had dug began to crumble, the small wooden casket tumbling in.
'This island already has a guardian.' Kidd cursed, the chest was too far down to be taken back easily, and the trees now shook and shuddered in the quickening breeze. The ground continued to give way beneath him, and as he scrambled towards shore, roots and branches twisted and grasped in his wake.

The island. The island was the guardian. Sleeping, silently waiting, awakened now by the evil which had swept through the little town nearby. The ground spat out the bones of the lost, long gone sailors who had fallen beneath the waves and under the dark spell of the island. The ragged fingers of those who were ripped apart on the rocks scratched at his heels as he ran. He could hear the stone beneath him as it screamed and sang. There were treasures worth being damned for. This was not one of them.

Not once looking back, Kidd sailed into the black, away from the fog and the strange howling of the rocks.

Salem was a dark place to be sure. And for all the wrong reasons.

Happy Halloween folks. Don't be forgetting you can have fun staging your own witch trial later this evening...

And if a free download of the Tales of the Oak comic hasn't quenched your thirst for blood, you must also check out Hallowcream 2013...96 pages of nightmares.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Merry Galoshans! Tales of the Oak Comic - Now Online!

Just in time for Halloween tomorrow, you can now read a slightly edited digital version of our Tales of the Oak comic, available free online via scribd. Don't say we aren't good to you. Or else. Hopefully we'll get the resources sorted to get a special expanded digital edition out via comixology, ibooks and kindle etc later in the year.

Almost 1000 copies have been distributed and the final free glorious paperback copies will be available next month as part of Book Week Scotland...we may well reprint em one day, but then they will no longer be free! Catch em while ye can.

Also still available is Wee Nasties, our Galoshans Play and a Witch Trial for all the family to enjoy.
Even better, the good folk of Greenock Players popped along to The Dutch Gable House on Saturday, to perform and film a traditional Galoshans play. Check it out.

Ahem. With all that free stuff, it seems like a slightly less awkward than usual moment to draw your attention to our forthcoming ebook A Nip in The Air...exclusively available for Kindle. For a mere 99p, less than a pumpkin or bag full of monkey nuts, you can help contribute towards our next year projects, while also getting a wee fright. Bargain! Don't worry, I'll remind ye again...

Friday, 25 October 2013

Tell A Story Day - Grave Tales from the Gable

Undead members of Ard Amas John Joyce and Brian Heron
record some spooky tunes...

Staff and volunteers from Inverclyde Community Development Trust who attended our storytelling training earlier this year, have recorded a CD of stories and songs with all profits going to The Dutch Gable House. The CD is exclusively available at the Newark Products shop in the Gable.

You can check out more gifts from Newark Products online and hear more from Ard Amas on soundcloud.

In honour of Tell A Story Day, here's one of the spoken word tracks from the album...

I also popped into Inverclyde Radio for a wee blether about stories today. You can listen here.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

It's nearly Halloween...where do I get my free Tales of the Oak Comic?

It being the Season of Witch and all that, you'll be after your free copy of local horror comic, Tales of the Oak, how else will you accurately terrify the hordes of wee Galoshans turning up at your door with your knowledge of authentic local folklore? And what of you even more unfortunate souls, who do not live in Greenock with easy access to the terrifying Dutch Gable House?

Well, for a short period of time, you should be able to find copies in Quarriers Village at The Three Sisters Bake, in Port Glasgow at 7 /12 John Wood Street, from this weekend at Glasgow's Steampunk Cafe and there will also be copies available at Greenock Waterfront Cinema All Night Horror Marathon.

If you are interested in having a few copies of Tales of the Oak to distribute at a Halloween Event, let us know...

After that, well. the final free physical copies will be given out at The Dutch Gable House during November at Book Week Scotland will be too late...all too late...

And if you just can't get enough of scary Inverclyde stories, you may enjoy our fundraising ebook A Nip in The Air, available for kindle.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Wee Nasties - Now on Kindle

Our childrens book Wee Nasties, illustrated by Mhairi Robertson is now available via amazon for kindle and is also available via ibooks this week as well. The Heritage Lottery Funded book is still completely FREE to download and read and is absolutely ideal spooky reading for the winter months.

Prints of the characters from the book are available at the shop in The Dutch Gable House and Mhairi has lots of other artwork over on her own website. (You can also check out a rather nice Alice in Wonderland project we did on my other blog Stramashed)

Our original collection of folk tales Tales of the Oak, is also available via the kindle store, with all profits contributing to our heritage projects (and we have a few BELTERS lined up for next year)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Oak Kindling - Tales of the Oak ebook

Our very first book Tales of the Oak (not the new comic version, the folktale collection) has just been published as an ebook for kindle on amazon. There's a wee sneaky peak at some material from our forthcoming ebooks in there as well.

As always, any profits are used to promote local heritage projects and programmes.

There are still a few physical copies remaining for sale in the Dutch Gable House, the book is now in its 4th edition, but we won't be reprinting it physically again, so from now on, get it on amazon.

Our children's book Wee Nasties is will shortly be available online from amazon and ibooks as well. And of course there are plenty more items in our lovely shop.

We still have copies of the Tales of the Oak comic which we'll be distributing throughout Halloween and the winter months, and look out for news of the event we'll be running as park of Scottish Book Week in November.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Tam O Shanter

Just had to share this, as suggested by my son, an animated version of Tam O Shanter as produced by Chris Ellingford. Excellent.

We're looking at animation just now, and this is spot on.
"Get it right up yae!"