Saturday, March 30, 2013


The definition of a crone: 'a withered, witchlike old woman'.(Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary).

Penelope Darlin, the romantically challenged proprietor of the Lilac Grange nursing home, is regularly murdering her elderly residents in the name of profit. Next on her to do list is ninety one year old Catherine Scrivens, but Catherine is aware of Ms. Darlin's business model and determined not to go down without a fight she recruits two accomplices who are hell bent on getting to Penelope before Penelope gets to them.
Meanwhile Linda Hawthorne, a Grange staff member, inherits 'Mac Lir's gate', a strange and ancient artefact with the power to transport her to the Wildwood - a place of Celtic myth and legend. Intrigued by Mac Lir's gate Linda begins to experiment with its power and inadvertently releases the Black Dog, a vicious and predatory creature who wants the gate and who will do anything necessary to possess it.
When the paths of these characters clash the fates of two worlds are up for grabs.
In Crones there is romance, tragedy and comedy, ably assisted by Banshees, talking animals, Celtic spirits, murder in the tool shed and three delightful old ladies with a dark and bloody secret... and a zombie.

Crones is the third tale in the Luddensley Chronicles, a set of dark fiction stories that share a common geographical setting, that of Luddensley village and Neerthorpe town. Crones is slightly unusual in that all of the main characters are female, and  the most memorable of these (in my opinion), are also geriatrics.
It's not easy depicting elderly women as action heroes, after all most of the heroes we are accustomed to have all their own teeth, and hips that don't creak when they walk, but there's a lot to be said for grim determination and no-one gets to live to ninety one without having the will to do so. It is that will to live that is put to the test in this tale.
I like old folks - I really do. I remember once finding myself in the local community centre sharing a room with perhaps fifteen elderly residents who were gathered for a cheap lunch and a good old chin wag. It occurred to me that if I added all of their approximate ages together, (all were between sixty five and seventy), the result would amount to something in the region of a thousand years.
I'll say that again - A thousand years, of life experience in the same room. Different names, different places. Heartbreak, achievement, joy, loss, knowledge and skill. If they could be somehow combined into one person they could rule the world, and yet the only thing that the young folk were asking them was if their sandwiches were okay.
In Crones I wanted to give something back, to let the oldies have another crack of the whip. Those familiar with the 1985 movie 'Cocoon' will remember seeing formerly decrepit people suddenly invigorated after swimming in a pool with alien artifacts. The issue for me was that having regained the energy of youth they immediately went out and started making all the same mistakes that young folk make. Not a chance. They may possibly do the same things - but they'd do them a whole lot better!
Crones follows a different line because the idea that old people have to be given youth in order to be of value is itself a puerile perspective. In my world the elderly stay elderly and despite painfully arthritic joints, lack of teeth and poor bladder control, when it comes to the scrum they get up and fight just like they always have.

Main characters.

Penelope Darlin. One of the most self centred, neurotic and fundamentally nasty characters I've ever created. She's the owner of the Lilac Grange nursing home and she runs it like a holocaust campaign. As far as dear Penelope is concerned the residents are merely commodities and when they've lost their value they're shipped out... in boxes. Penelope is in a world entirely her own but in the end she's going to have to find room for someone else or die trying.

Linda Hawthorne. A grange staff member who's about to go to hell and back after inheriting an ornate box with magical properties. She's all alone, save for a few close friends, and fighting to save the world. The real pity is that the world doesn't even know that it's happening. Nevertheless our Linda just keeps on giving.

Catherine Scrivens. A ninety one year old lady who still has plenty of life in her and who is determined to keep it for as long as possible. Her late husband was a military man and she herself was something of an adventurer. She's a tough old bird who, as the tale progresses, will learn just how tough she really is.

Doris Walsh. Hard and strong, Doris has been a worker all of her life. She's stoic and pragmatic and she takes no shit. If something has to be done you can rely on her to be the first in line to do it.

Gloria Brooke. A lady with more secrets than the CIA, Gloria should never be underestimated. She appears somewhat dimwitted but then again you can never be sure with Gloria. Her morality is significantly more flexible than a rubber pole dancer and she's capable of anything, just ask her about the funnel and the jelly beans!

Cat. He's... well... a cat. But he's also a great deal more, and when he's on your team things become a whole lot easier to handle. On the other hand, maybe that's just the cat's perspective. Everyone else either sees him as a pain in the arse, or not at all. Not that he cares either way.

Crones is available worldwide in all digital formats and in print.


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