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Phil Hickes: On Childhood Nightmares

We asked Phil Hickes, author of Telling Tales in Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed, what gave him the inspiration to write the story. This is what he told us –

Telling Tales

Well, there were no witches in my family as far as I’m aware. But I did grow up in a rather unusual setting, which certainly influenced my literary tastes. My father’s a vicar and we lived opposite his church, which was a big old Victorian pile just outside Rochdale in the North of England. Our house, the vicarage, overlooked the graveyard, which in the best tradition of Victorian graveyards, was crumbling and overgrown. Everything was covered with ivy and dead leaves. There was even a grave of a soldier that had fought at the Battle of Waterloo. Being just outside town, on the edge of the Pennines, the weather was always fairly wet and wild. In winter the skies were dark from early afternoon until late morning. Imagine, if you will, going to bed every night overlooking the decaying mausoleums, while the wind whistled mournfully outside, and it’s easy to see why I was immediately enthused by the theme of Childhood Nightmares. The story derived from the memory of being permanently spooked by what, or was not, outside my bedroom window. I started with a one-line idea about a boy being told unsuitable stories by an elderly relative, and like a tendril of ivy, the story crept up from there.

***

Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.

We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?

Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again…

Tell us, who is Under the Bed?

Contributing Authors:  Colin F. Barnes, Nina D’Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller, Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott, Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen

Pick up a copy of Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed as either an eBook or in print format from:

eBook:  Amazon.comAmazon.ukAmazon.deAmazon.frAmazon.es,
Amazon.itSmashwords.com (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)
Print:     Amazon.comCreatSpace.com

***

Telling Tales is the story of Peter, his Aunt Alice and how everything is not always as it seems. The following is a longer look at Phil’s contribution to Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed

     Peter Miles doesn’t want to go to bed tonight. Nothing unusual there, you might think. What eight-year old boy has ever been happy to adhere to nocturnal deadlines? Particularly when you’ve a busy agenda to deal with. Who wants to sleep when there are battles to be fought or hidden pirate treasure to be found? But on this rainy February evening, in the small English town of Malreward, Peter Miles has no wars to wage or gold doubloons to unearth. He has no intention of attempting any form of recreational activity, and would like nothing more than to cuddle up in bed, given the cold, wet and windy weather. Yet when his father puts down his newspaper, motions with his eyes towards the stairs, and emits the single word directive…

     “Bed.”

     …it’s with a heavy heart that he trudges sullenly up to his room, dragging his feet like a shackled prisoner going to meet the hangman.

     For tonight, there’s someone else staying in the large house where they live.

     A guest.

     An unwelcome one. 

     A distant relative whose funeral parlor perfume lingers in every room.

     Peter’s Great Aunt Alice.

     She’s here for yet another visit with her cat, Demdike. None of which sounds too bad, you say? Lots of young boys have stuffy old grandmothers and aunties that they have to put up with. And cats are cute and fluffy.

     But Peter’s Aunt Alice scares him. In fact, she frightens him to death. And her cat is just as bad, with fur as black as its soul.

     That’s why he’s reluctant to go upstairs; because soon, Aunt Alice will be up to tell him a bedtime story. It’s become something of a custom. Peter was delighted when she first offered to come and tuck him in. Despite feeling a little nervous in her presence, and a tiny bit afraid of her pinched, lined face, white hair and bony limbs, she was a welcome female presence. For the first few minutes it had been enjoyable too. She wrapped the sheets tightly around him, clicked off the overhead light and turned on the lamp. He felt warm and snug.

     But then she began to tell him the stories.

If you’d like to read more of Phil’s work, you can find it on Amazon.

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