Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cursed Brambles and the Blackberry Man

Virtual Tour Editors: Alexander S. Brown and Louise Myers  
Featured Book Release: Southern Haunts: Devils in the Darkness  
May 26 to June 1, 2014

Today I have a haunted special guest, Diane Ward, straight from that wonderful second anthology of haunted Southern Tales, Devils in the Darkness. And this devil's closely related to those devilish brambles with sweet fruit and thorns.

Seventh Star Press books are known for wonderful original stories, haunting themes (even when the books aren't haunted by their titles), great authors and great artists too, so enjoy, and welcome to my blog!

Intro to the Blackberry Man
by Diane Ward

People see Jesus in many things in Mississippi. A more sinister and possibly more intriguing question is: where do people down south see the devil?
 Depends on who you talk to.
If you’re talking to someone who picks blackberries, then they might mention Michaelmas Day held in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel. Michaelmas Day falls on September 29th of each year, while Old Michaelmas day falls on October 10th, and celebrates the autumn harvest. However, there is also a darker note to the folklore; Old Michaelmas Day is also known as Devil Spits Day.
It’s said on Old Michaelmas Day the devil was cast from Heaven and fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles, either by spitting or urinating on them. Afterwards the tainted blackberries are unsafe to eat and the legend cautions not to pick them.
I’ve heard the story of Lucifer’s fall and the blackberry bush is most popular in the United Kingdom, but I’ve also heard it a fair bit around Mississippi. Certainly I’ve never had to look far for blackberries. They grow on barbwire fences, out in pastures, between the pine trees, and I’ve come to associate them with the summer. Given time, the wild blackberry vines can grow into mountainous brambles, twisting about each other in a dense tangle.
My short story for Southern Haunts part 2: Devils in the Darkness is titled “The Blackberry Man” and begins with the telling of this legend taking place in a desolate gas station in Flora, Mississippi. Soon after the feral cats start disappearing, and a thick black smoke drifts up from a large bramble out in the woods, a blackberry becomes engorged and grows to the size of a trash bag.
 The subjects for my story came easily: Asper—a girl, the Blackberry Man, and the tainted brambles. After all, young women, the devil, and forbidden fruit have a very long history. The questions that followed: what would a person say and do with devil spit in their mouth, and what would become of the cursed bramble? I think you can tell that these sort of stories do not have overwhelmingly happy (but not necessarily unsatisfying!) endings.
The setting of the “The Blackberry Man” was largely drawn on my own experiences picking and making jams and jellies from wild blackberries in Mississippi. Hearing the low rustle of leaves signaling a large animal fleeing, it did not seem a very farfetched idea that something wicked and strange lurked behind the next bramble. As a kid, the wall of the thorny vines seemed impenetrable and reminded me of the barrier the witch summoned in the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty.
At its heart, “The Blackberry Man” is a very old type of story—one anyone who has lived in the south will recognize. Beelzebub may give you what you want, but you’ll wish he hadn’t.

 You're bringing back memories of picking blackberries as a child and with my kids, but no horrors there. Still, I can't wait to read this! And here's where to find it, gentle reader:

Amazon Links for Southern Haunts: Devils in the Darkness
Print Version
Kindle Version

Want to know more?

Alexander S. Brown: Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book, Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it will be released as a special edition. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel, Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press. He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the following anthologies Dreams of Steam Vol 2 & 4, Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells, and Capes and Clockworks. Look out for his controversial piece, “The Last Lamb” found in the anthology, Luna’s Children.

LouiseMyersBWAbout the Editors:
 Louise Myers: Louise Myers was born in New Orleans. During her teenage years, she was uprooted from everything she knew and was replanted in Mississippi. Though the transition was difficult, she is grateful for this change. She says this because she knows that both places are a world all to their own. She is the wife of a wonderful husband and mother of three beautiful children, as well as the proud parent of a spoiled mutt. She was assistant editor for Southern Haunts: Spirits That Walk Among Us and was proud to be part of The Southern Haunts Series once again. She is a beta reader, book doctor, editor, and author. Though this is her first story in print, she has been weaving tales for many years. With the gentle, yet firm, shove from a very special person, she has decided to dive into the world of print. She has many thoughts on several topics she’d like to write, mostly involving ghost stories.

SouthernHauntsCover-1200X862About the Book:
 Southern Haunts Devils in the Darkness:
From the fiery abyss of the underworld comes 20 hellish tales from the south and southwest. Within these charred pages are stories that will introduce you to the many demons that stay hidden but are always nearby…

20 authors provide stories of possessed people, objects, houses, highways, and the devil’s favorite playground - the forest.

Dare to meet Deidless, a demon who is a buyer of souls. Discover what kind of demons men can summon. Read of battles between good and evil. Learn of ancient artifacts and stones that crave sacrifice. Finally, become acquainted with legions of evil.

Again, we invite you, sit back, dim the lights, and prepare yourself to meet the devils in the darkness.

Southern Haunts: Devils in the Darkness is the next installment in the exciting anthology series that began with Southern Haunts: Spirits That Walk Among Us.

Anthology and Editor Links:

 Twitter:@AlexanderSBrown @louisemyers197
Tour Schedule and Activities
May 26 I Smell Sheep Guest Post
May 26 Novel-ties Review
May 27 Deal Sharing Aunt Guest Post
May 28 Armand Rosamilia Guest Post
May 28 Book in the Bag Interview
May 29 Spellbindings Guest Post
May 29 Bees Knees Reviews Guest Post
May 30 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
May 31 Vampires, Witches and Me Oh My! Guest Post
May 31 Sheila Deeth Blog Guest Post

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