Monday 17 October 2022

Ghost Watch


Cover art by Mark Hetherington

Our latest book, Ghost Watch by Rick Hale, has just been released. Read an extract below to whet your appetite

The White Witch of Rose Hall


A portrait said to be Annie Palmer

There is a place in Montego Bay, Jamaica that is feared by both locals and visitors alike. Those who work at the house and neighboring resort will flee as soon the sun dips below the horizon. Simply put, they fear for their lives and their immortal souls. It is the former mistress of Rose Hall Great House who they fear. She is the White Witch, Annie Palmer, who is said to ride forth on her black stead and carry souls off to hell.

Some who are familiar with the story of Annie Palmer and her despotic rule over Rose Hall, struggle with believing some of the stories told about her. They have trouble believing the tiny woman who stood a mere 4'11", could have wielded such power over the lives of hundreds of men and women.  But those who know of her believe her power didn't come from her size. Her power came from an unexpected source, black magic.

Annie and her family arrived in the colony of Jamaica and set up a sugar cane farm when Annie was only ten years old. Tragedy struck when her parents came down with yellow fever, leaving the poor girl alone in a foreign land, a land she barely understood. Annie's luck changed when one of the slave women, who was reportedly a Voodoo queen, adopted the girl and took her under her wing. The old woman taught Annie what she needed to survive, black magic.

As Annie matured, she became a beautiful young woman and at the age of 17, she married John Palmer a wealthy sugar cane farmer. Annie, appeared to have it all, a doting husband and the most beautiful house in Jamaica, Rose Hall. But, for whatever reason, Annie became bored with her husband and began taking male slaves as lovers. When her husband was away, she would sneak her lovers into her room through a series of hidden passages. According to those who knew of her affairs, reported she would sneak in several men a night.

Annie's practices almost came to end when her husband returned home early and found her in bed with one of her lovers. Angered by her betrayal, John Palmer flew into a rage and beat Annie to the point of death. However, Annie had her revenge. She allegedly killed her husband using a black magic spell and told everyone she knew her husband died from a heart attack. With John Palmer dead, Annie was mistress of the vast estate and ruled over it like a tyrant.

Now with her power over the lives of hundreds complete, Annie continued with her insatiable sexual appetite. She was said to take dozens of lovers from among the workers. And when she became bored of one, she slaughtered him after he fell asleep. The workers were becoming aware of what Annie was doing, and although they feared her, they conspired to rid themselves of her. Although they knew she was a powerful practitioner of Voodoo, they didn't care. They had had enough of her despotism.

One lover she took to her bed and murdered would prove to be her undoing. The young man was the intended son-in-law of a Bokor, a powerful magician in the Voodoo religion. When the Bokor discovered what had been done to his daughter's fiancé, he snuck into Rose Hall and confronted Annie Palmer. Annie may have been under five feet tall but she proved to be a fierce adversary. It was not until the Bokor used his own powers that he was able to subdue and kill the so-called White Witch. Sadly, the Bokor did not survive the battle.

Today, guests of the Rose Hall resort have claimed to had brushes with supernatural entities.  Some have reported seeing the ghost of Annie Palmer ride forth at night on a devilish black horse with fiery red eyes. It's also been said that nothing will grow around her grave, because whatever she touches, she kills, even in death. Nevertheless, the truly unnerving activity is said to happen in Annie's old house, Rose Hall.

Tourists and those who dared to stay the night in the old mansion, have reported truly hair-raising activity sure to unnerve even the bravest soul. The unmistakable sounds of a struggle are heard throughout the house. Including what sounds like a man and woman shouting at each other. Perhaps these are the sounds of Annie and her Bokor assassin engaging in their battle of magic forever recorded in the walls of Rose Hall.

According to legend, Annie engaged in activity that could only be described as inhumane. Annie practiced human sacrifice and the children of workers were the victims of this unspeakable act of cruelty. Perhaps this explains why the apparitions of small children are seen darting about the house as if they are still hiding from the monster who sought to end their tender lives. Accompanying these tiny apparitions is the sound of children weeping and screaming for mercy heard ringing throughout the halls and corridors of Rose Hall.

The haunting of this house of horrors wouldn't be complete without the White Witch herself. The scowling ghost of Annie Palmer has been seen stalking the halls of her house undoubtedly looking for victims for her deviant practices. She has further been seen standing on her balcony forever looking out over the island she terrorized over two centuries earlier.

The story of the White Witch of Rose Hall wouldn't be complete without something inhuman inhabiting the old mansion.  The Jamaican people believe in an entity called, the Duppy. Not only do they respect this inhuman entity, but they live in fear of it as well.

Annie Palmer was said to summon the Duppy from the spirit world and command the creature.  The White Witch used the Duppy to murder her many lovers and whomever she felt was a threat to her power and control. The shadowy beings have been seen lurking throughout the grounds of Rose Hall waiting for commands from their mistress, commands they will never receive.

To many outside Jamaica, the exploits of Annie Palmer, the White Witch of Rose Hall are nothing but myth. She is regarded by some as being nothing more than a boogeymen called upon to scare small children. Nevertheless, the Jamaican people believe she was more than just a dark folk tale. They know she did indeed exist and her power still reaches from beyond the grave.

Details on how to get a copy of Ghost Watch can be found here

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Now Is The Night

Barry McCann is a Lancashire bred writer, broadcaster and historian very much in touch with his Irish, Welsh and Cornish heritage. Growing up with Celtic folklore tales of Banshees and Buccas fostered a fascination with myth as a mirror to the darker aspects of the human condition, which lead to him reading Psychology at Liverpool Polytechnic before graduating to B.A. Hons. and M.A. in English Literature at the University of Central Lancashire.

Equally inspired by a childhood diet of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and M. R. James, Barry began writing paranormal stories initially as an exploration of ghosts as manifestations of the unconscious psyche, before experimenting with the wider aspects of the metaphysical, dream interpretation and urban gothic.

Like Montague James, he began performing them to select small audiences and then on BBC Radio Cumbria. His tales began seeing print in the Lancashire Post and American anthologies such as Dark Gothic Resurrected and The Horror Zine. His involvement with the Spooky Isles website led to two stories published in its first anthology, The Spooky Isles Book of Horror (2018). He then edited their second collection with David Saunderson, Shadow of Pendle (2019), before deciding it was time to anthologise his own stories.

“Ideas for tales come mainly from dreams, the gateway to the unconscious,” Barry explains. “This is probably why a lot of my stories tend to revolve around bridges opening between the natural world of the protagonists and the unknown territory of a darker dimension. It is not always clear whether these other worlds are extraneous or internal. Sanity and the supernatural poses an intriguing equation, and a question I might leave for the reader to deal with.”

Barry is also the editor of Parnassus, the art and literature journal for Mensa International, a regular feature writer for the magazines This England and Evergreen, and the horror film periodicals Scream and The Dark Side. He continues to broadcast his stories on BBC Radio Cumbria and Lancashire, and was more recently resident historian across BBC Midlands local radio.

Pre-order the Kindle version of Now Is The Night here. The paperback will be available on the 21st of September

Monday 20 June 2022

Haunting Beul Aithris

Beul Aithris Publishing is home to a fine array of authors involved in the paranormal is a variety of ways. From folklore to investigation to the ability to see beyond the 'normal' sphere of existence, we certainly offer a well-rounded selection for those looking to dip their toes into the otherworldly for the first time and not quite sure where to begin. The books by these authors literally do offer something for everyone. And as well as penning fantastic books, of late quite a few of our authors have been rather busy - here we take a look at what they've been up to. 

Scottish Paranormal

Since 2017, Gregor Stewart, Ryan O'Neill and Alister Reid have published four titles with Beul Aithris: Ghosts Of Scotland , Witch Memorials of Scotland (Gregor Stewart), The Unseen World: Afterlife Research (Ryan O'Neill) and The Haunted Scotland Cookbook (Alister Reid). They can regularly be founded investigating haunted locations around Scotland, or at their HQ in West Wemyss, Fife, where they also happen to house a large collection of haunted objects, including a number of dolls. 

Of late, however, regular viewers of the Really channel will have gotten to know Ryan as one of the investigators on the new series Spooked Scotland alongside Evelyn Hollow (perhaps also familiar to listeners of Danny Robbins podcasts The Battersea Poltergeist and Uncanny), medium Chris Fleming and presenter Gail Porter. The show takes in a number of Scotland's haunted locations, from Brodick Castle on Arran, The Tron Theatre in Glasgow and Edinburgh's haunted vaults, to name a few - and it makes for terrifying watching. Spooked Scotland is on at 9pm on Really every Friday and is also available on catch up on Discovery. 

Ann Massey

A prolific writer of Irish folklore, Ann Massey is the author of Dark Emerald Tales: Folklore, Legends, Dark History and Hauntings of Ireland. As well as being a purveyor of some of the scariest folklore and legends in the world (it takes some beating to top the likes of Dullahan), Ann is also Ireland Editor for the Spooky Isles and runs the Dark Emerald Tales blog.

When not writing, Ann is also active as a paranormal investigator with Irish Paranormal Investigations, which have carried out investigations from New York to many of Ireland's famously haunted sites, as well as investigating private homes subjected to a haunting. Ann has also featured as a guest on a large number of podcasts, including GhostÉire and The Shadow Initiative and has featured on Discovery's Destination Fear, investigating Spike Island in Co.Cork.

Keep up with Irish Paranormal Investigations on Facebook and also check out their website.  

Rick Hale

Chicago native Rick Hale has been very busy of late. He has previously published his memoirs as a ghost hunter Behold! Shocking Tales of Terror...And Some Other Spooky Stuff (2018) and Bullets, Booze & Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois (2020) with Beul Aithris and his third title with us, Ghost Watch, is due to be published this Hallowe'en.

With Stephen Lancaster, Rick presents The Shadow Initiative podcast, from which his segment, Ghost Watch, a tribute to legendary ghost hunter Peter Underwood, has recently become a podcast in its own right. Rick has also been a guest on several other paranormal podcasts and also writes for Paranormal Study and has previously contributed to The Spooky Isles. The Shadow Initiative will soon be coming to TV.

William Becker

From Oregon, William Becker is a psychic medium and coach with a gift for seeing beyond every day experience. His book,  In The Footsteps Of My Forebears: A Psychic's Journey Through Time (2020) recounts his  journey to his ancestral homeland and the family spirits he encountered.

He is medium and coach with Paranormal Insights through which, he runs workshops. Keep up with his work by following his Facebook page.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Ruffled Feathers And More!


The final book of Miller Caldwell's Arran Trilogy has just gone live (currently uploading to Amazon as we speak - copies available now from the Beul Aithris Publishing bookshop - see below!), marking the last part of our first foray into crime fiction! As always, for readers on the Isle of Arran, Miller should be on the Island soon with copies. With this series, Beul Aithris has entered exciting new territory, and looks forward to publishing more of Miller's work in future. Details of the full trilogy can be found here.

There are a further three titles forthcoming from Beul Aithris this year - a new title from Ann Massey, which promises to be a brilliant read - though we will keep you on the tenterhooks of suspense a little longer as to the full details. Watch this space! 

We also have a third short story collection of supernatural and horror to join Michael S Collins' By The Dying Tree and Petula Mitchell's At The Crossroads. This new title is called Now Is The Night by author Barry McCann and is a set of stories that will make your toes curl. That is due out this autumn, with cover art by Blackpool artist Kathy Rowan. 

As ever, we have another spooky read lined up for Hallowe'en: Ghost Watch by Rick Hale. This will be his third title with us and is a fantastic compendium of true hauntings from the USA, Europe and the UK. Cover art will be by our resident artist, Mark Hetherington. 

More details will come on all titles in due course. 

Wednesday 19 January 2022

From Wildlife Ranger To Wildlife Writer

 Malcolm J Ingham reflects on the move from wildlife ranger to writing.

After spending the vast majority of my working life in the Ranger Service and being involved in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation, retirement when it eventually arrived was a jumble of emotions.  One a feeling of relief and escapism from my post of Head Ranger managing a large ranger service with its multitude of Country Parks, Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s.) Even though I had been a Head Ranger / Wildlife Officer for many years, a couple of years prior to retirement my brief had changed dramatically from one of being very much hands on to a much more intense managerial role with not only more staffing responsibilities but juggling budgets, applying for grants and everything else that comes with overseeing the day to day management of a ranger service.   

The second emotion was one of sadness in that my career was coming to an end, I had strived long and hard to become a ranger and when I eventually achieved my goal my life changed beyond anything I could have envisaged.  Even from a seasoned rangers perspective I had a dream job. Over the years I was involved in caring for and rehabilitating many species of wildlife from badgers, foxes, peregrine falcons, barn owls, swans and even a Scottish wildcat and a common nighthawk with the latter being flown out to Belize by the RAF for release.

I had rescued a lanner falcon from an Iranian ship and bobbed around in a rubber dingy trying to persuade a dolphin to leave the Manchester Ship Canal not to mention my experiences with a beached whale or collecting a grey seal and a European eagle owl from a police station plus being involved in the production of wildlife themed TV programmes and working alongside various well known celebrities of the time.  I had lectured and given presentations from as far afield as Inverness to the Isle of Wight on wildlife rehabilitation and worked alongside the police, RSPCA and the National Wildlife Crime Unit tackling and investigating incidents of wildlife crime with a particular emphasis on badger digging and baiting.

But now it was over! What was I going to do? My life had always revolved around wildlife and I couldn’t envisage a life without it.

On a few occasions over the years people had paused the question ‘when are you going to write a book?’ And at one point I did actually get around to making an effort to put my many stories onto paper but after a while I got out of the habit and filed a half completed manuscript to a cardboard box and forgot about it.

That is until one day when my pal Mike McCartney (formerly Mike McGear of the 1960’s 70’s Liverpool chart topping trio the Scaffold) asked the question “how’s the book coming along?” Obviously I had to admit that it wasn’t whereupon he gave me a kick up the backside and offered to read the draft manuscript when finished.

Click here to get a copy

By this time my wife and I had moved to North Wales with a large, formal, landscaped, tiered garden and a patch of woodland to keep us occupied which, from the gardens perspective at least, we began to transform into a truly wildlife friendly haven.

In between tending the garden, bird watching, walking and generally exploring I took Mike’s advice and rooted out my dusty manuscript and re-read it, after which I binned it and started again! Once reasonably happy with my endeavours I sent it off to Mike who read it, made a few constructive recommendations and once again gave me the proverbial kick up the back-side to crack on with it.  To cut a long story short I eventually received an email from Mandy  inviting me to submit a synopsis and a few sample chapters for her perusal the outcome of which was that in April 2019 my first book ‘From Badgers to Nighthawks’ was published by Beul-Aithris Publishing with of course a foreword from Mike! It was the least he could do after all the chivvying and backside kicking and needless to say he got a freebie copy.

Signed of course by yours truly! 

Despite all the chivvying and endless hours spent at the computer not to mention the never ending proof reading by my wife to see the finished product finally in print made every second worthwhile. But what next? I now had the writing bug and needed to feed my addiction. Could I write another book and if I did would it be published?

 I had so many other stories to tell, not just from my past life as since moving to North Wales I had been dragged out of retirement by the police and the RSPCA Special Ops Unit to once again accompany them on warrant raids and to act as their prosecution expert witness. I was also involved in monitoring badgers and otters plus many other forms of wildlife and was acquiring some wonderful trail camera video footage of previously unseen species interaction such as a dog otter leaping out of the water to nip a badger on the backside!!

 My material for writing a sequel to ‘From Badgers to Nighthawks’ was accumulating at a pace and as such began to draft a second manuscript and then Mandy paused the question, “have you thought about a children’s book?” To be honest the thought hadn’t crossed my mind but she had sowed a seed that slowly began to germinate into what was to become my second book ‘The Tales of Old Billy Badger’ published in December 2021 by Beul Aithris and beautifully illustrated by Mark Hetherington.  The idea was that it would be aimed at eight years and upwards and although a fictional story based off fact from my own observations it would also be educational.  The badgers and the otters, Casper and Shadow, aren’t merely figments of my imagination, they actually exist and roam the land and river of Garth Farm.

Click here to get a copy

The human characters Mr Callum and Mr Harpur are real people albeit under different names even Moggy the cat and Nelly the sheepdog are real.

 But what of the sequel to ‘From Badgers to Nighthawks?’ I’m working on it!!

Tuesday 4 January 2022

The Tale Of One Artist And Several Badgers

 The Tales Of Old Billy Badger illustrator Mark Hetherington discusses what it was like working on the project

If anyone had asked me eighteen months ago there is no way I I’d have told them that the main theme for my 2021 was likely to be badgers!

It all began a couple of years ago when BA head honcho Mandy told me about ‘’From Badgers to Nighthawks’, a manuscript she had received from Malcolm J. Ingham recounting his experiences as a wildlife ranger. Mal had found a lovely Victorian print he wanted to use for the cover and Mandy asked me to do the cover design, to make the print work as a cover image.

Little did I know that Mal was already working on his next project, a book for children inspired by the real animals – and people – he had been involved with. Mandy asked me to draw the illustrations for the book in mid-2020 but as ‘The Tales of Old Billy Badger’ wouldn’t be coming out until Christmas 2021 and I had other projects to work on it wasn’t until several months later that I was able to make a start. Even then had to interrupt work on ‘Billy’ several times as other jobs with shorter deadlines came in.

One unfortunate thing about the timing was that it came during a time when my drawing style was evolving. Artists’ and illustrators’ can sometimes change quite a lot over the course of their careers. Sometimes the change is slow and barely noticeable and at other times, as in this case, it can occur quite quickly. Because of this the original drawing for the first chapter wasn’t very satisfactory and I eventually did three versions of the image and had to change the pose completely for the final version, for something that suited my new way of working better.

Sketch for the rejected image for Chapter One

My process, once technical hitches like stylistic evolution were out of the way, was more or less the same for all of the images. Mandy had sent me the text for the book and I read it through, noting scenes or events that would make a good illustration. I also had to bear in mind certain images Mal wanted to include in the story. He sent some copies of old prints which asked me to use as the basis for two or three of the illustrations. The pictures of the otter hunt for Chapter Four and the otters Casper and Shadow for Chapter Nine, for example, were based on images sent by Mal.

An old print sent by Mal which formed the basis for the pictures of Casper and Shadow in Chapter Nine

To begin with I sent Mandy pencil roughs of the drawings but we have been working together for a while so she trusts me to just get on with it and after the first couple I would just send her the completed drawing. This isn’t to say I can just do it how I like though, if Mandy (or Mal for that matter) didn’t think the result was up to scratch she told me so and I would do it again. This didn’t happen often though and the whole process ran remarkably smoothly.

Once all the drawings were completed, they were scanned and, if necessary, cleaned up in photoshop. This doesn’t necessarily mean the images were dirty or messy, just that certain things need to be adjusted at times. For example, I used both marker pens and Indian ink in the drawings and when scanned some lines or marks can reflect the light from the scanner slightly differently and appear lighter or darker than those made using different tools or media. Adjusting them in Photoshop means you can make the blacks look more uniform and closer to how the image looks in real life.

The difference between the 'raw' scan and the cleaned-up version used in the book

After that the images were all emailed to Mandy who formatted the text and placed the images where they needed to be. I did the cover design based on a template provided by the printer which gives guidelines for things such as the barcode placement and how close to the edge the text can go without accidentally being trimmed when the covers are printed. The cover was then saved as a pdf and again emailed to Mandy. Then, for Mal, Mandy (after some publishing wizardry!) and I, came the task of telling the world about ‘The Tales of Old Billy Badger’!

Click to get your copy here!