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The Story behind Helen Callaghan’s Deliciously Chilling Story, Sex & the Single Hive Mind

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It’s a total pleasure to welcome my dear friend and fabulous writer, Helen Callaghan to A Hopeful Romantic to share a bit of the story behind one of my favourite short stories of all time, Sex and the Single Hive Mind. Even better still, the story is now available in the vibrant new Science Fiction anthology, Mind Seed and as a podcast with CrimeCity. Enjoy! –K D

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Sex and the Single Hive Mind is set in the near future. It’s a very dark story about Susannah Watson, a woman who is kidnapped and then made into an immobile living host for carnivorous algae that devours her. The result is then to be sold on as an illegal drug. All of which is terrible news for Susannah, of course, but has unforeseen side effects.

Believe it or not, it’s a comedy.

I wanted to write something about body theft – not Burke and Hare cadaver thieves, but something more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers – things that come from outside, and steal your body for their own wicked purposes.

Helen Callaghan Sex Hive mindproduct_thumbnailPersonally, I find that kind of thing terrifying. When Donald Sutherland starts that unearthly shrieking at the end of the movie, I freaked out as a kid.

It’s the exact same wellspring of horror that The Exorcist draws from – something that doesn’t mean you well now has control of you, while you look on, horrified. Whether you are locked in there still, or your own personal will simply evaporates, the terror lies in the loss of your agency, your control over your own flesh, the very thing that is dearest to you, and is indivisible from your sense of self.

In all of these cases, the reader’s sympathy lies absolutely with the possessee, if you like – the possessing entity barely has a motive, never mind a personality (spewing out pea soup and rude words hardly counts as character).

So I thought it might be kind of cool to explore the idea of body-snatching from the body snatcher’s point of view – in this case the point of view of a divorced middle-aged cat lady who suddenly finds herself with access to the bodies of the spoiled young things that have effectively murdered her.

And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t turn out that doing this was tons of fun, but nevertheless, there is, I think, a core of sadness – Susannah has access to their flesh and its pleasures, but can’t enjoy it because ultimately her victims all reflect only herself, and her attempt to use her newfound powers to reach out to her object of desire does not go as planned.

Her absurdity and loneliness, is, in a way, also similar to the loneliness of the writer and her characters. Characters, however fascinating, are still just creations, manifestations of a single will.

Anyway, the story appears in the anthology Mind Seed (http://www.lulu.com/gb/en/shop/edited-by-david-gullen-gary-couzens/mind-seed/paperback/product-21702685.html) edited by David Gullen and Gary Couzens. The book has been put together to remember Denni Schnapp, biologist, traveller, science fiction writer, and alongside me (www.helencallaghan.co.uk) a member of the T Party Writers group (http://tpartywriters.wordpress.com) based in London, which also included KD.

 

Excerpt from Sex and the Single Hive Mind:

It’s not Conor this time, but Imogen. Raoul and Conor and Imogen, named for the pretensions of their parents, carriers of their bougeousie. Colonised by them.

But for now, I’m dreaming Imogen. I know this because she’s in a tiny neat kitchen, looking at our mutual reflection in the darkened window. She still looks supercilious even with no-one on hand to disapprove of. I suspect that it might just be a cast of her features, something she can’t control but which her character does little to mitigate.

She’s washing dishes. She’s doing this very slowly, as she’s obviously drugged out of her tiny mind. I can taste the sharpness of cut grass in her mouth.

She’s eaten half a piece of steamed fish and boiled vegetables, without salt or pepper. I know this and am not sure how. My/her hands stir through warm soapy water.

Time to try it, then.

Her head raises, she looks into the window.

“My name is Susannah Watson.”

The words emerge without ceremony. I don’t know what I was expecting, to be honest. I thought perhaps there might be some sort of intense psychic battle, where I warred for dominance against her innate personality, but she doesn’t appear to have one. Her body is an empty house and I control it utterly, without let or hindrance.  The drug has reduced to her to a series of mannerisms, which fill her head like ugly furniture left behind by the previous tenants.

“My name is Susannah Watson,” I say again. My voice is a stranger’s, filled with unfamiliar music. “I am fifty-two years old. I am a detective in the Metropolitan Police, Smithfield division. I have two cats and one ex-husband. I have been… I am…”

My voice fades away.

Imogen stares back blankly at me from her reflection.  From my reflection.

It’s too much, too much, and I fly, back to my concrete room. I linger there, my consciousness circling above my green body, buzzing. I see what is happening. I have colonised the flies. They ate me, and I fill them. Spider-Girl ate the flies, and I filled her.

I understand, I think.

I gather myself. I tell myself, “I want to be Imogen now.”

Nothing happens.

“Take me to Imogen.”

I summon up the memory of being her, of hot soapy water over my hands, of the taste of cut grass.

I’m standing in the kitchen again, as if I had never left. She has not moved in the meantime, as far as I can tell, and a little trail of saliva drips down from the corner of her semi-open mouth.

I wipe it away with one of her wet, soapy hands, fascinated by her soft, unmarked skin against my face. She must be thirty years younger than me, at the very least.

“I am Susannah,” I say, and my voice rolls with confidence. I laugh then, and the girl in the window’s reflection laughs with me. In a bare instant, her superior squint vanishes and I shine out of her, like the sun breaking through fast passing clouds.

Enjoy a podcast of the complete Sex and the Single Hive Mind here:

http://www.starshipsofa.com/forums/topic/crime-city-central-no-109-helen-callaghan/

 

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The anthology, Mind Seed,  celebrates Denni’s interests and all of the proceeds go to Next Generation Nepal (http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org), who are an anti-child trafficking organization. We had the launch at LonCon 3 in the ExCel centre in London, and we’re all very proud of the book and hope it will do well.

 

Buy Mind Seed Here: 

Amazon UK

Lulu.com

 

Helen CallaghanAbout Helen Callaghan: 

Helen Callaghan writes genre fic­tion inspired by her love of intel­li­gent books and brain­less movies. Her first novel, Mephistophela, is set in a near-future Lon­don and inspired by ele­ments of Marlowe’s Doc­tor Faus­tus. She is cur­rently work­ing on Bethan Avery, a psychological thriller about a teacher who receives letters from a (presumed) murder victim.

She lives in Cambridge with a hamster called Zenobia, a beloved car, some muti­nous house­plants and too many books. Her per­sonal web­page and erratically updated blog describing the writing of Sleepwalker and Mephistophela is here. She is rep­re­sented by Judith Mur­ray atGreene and Heaton.

 

Listen to Pheromones on the Kiss Me Quick Podcast!

971975_344575092312914_1323301349_nI’ve never listened to one of my stories being read out-loud to me. At least not until the lovely Rose Caraway released my story, Pheromones, on her fabulously popular Kiss Me Quick podcast. Wow! What a rush to hear my words read in Rose’s very sexy librarian voice! I’m chuffed to bits! I’m sending on the links to share with you because the podcast and the mp3 download are FREE just like all of Rose’s wonderful Kiss Me Quick series.

Having Pheromones read by Rose on the Kiss Me Quick podcast couldn’t have happened at a better time, since Pheromones is one of the stories in my new release — a collection of my short stories from Xcite Books called Gracefully Aroused.

Here’s a little bit about Pheromones:

An unusually powerful sense of smell gives Chloe the ability to sniff out the scents of people in lust. When she volunteers for a research trial into pheromones, she doesn’t realise the scientist in charge will have the perfect, sexy aroma she’s always craved in a lover.

You Can Listen Now!Best of KDG final cover image

There’s a special added bonus on Rose’s Kiss Me Quick podcast along with Pharomones. Rose is also reading the deliciously naughty Salome Wilde’s hot story, Too Wondrous to Measure from the Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex anthology. And now the really fun part about this post is that not only can you download the Kiss Me Quick podcast that has Pheromones on it, you can actually listen to it right here on my blog! It’s a fabulous podcast, so whether you listen here or download it, please enjoy!

 

 
 

Here’s a little bit about Gracefully Aroused:

From a love spell that doesn’t quite go to plan to a farmhand who needs a little discipline; from a woman who is addicted to the confessional to a personal trainer with a very unorthodox method of guaranteeing his clients they’ll look fab come bikini season, K D Grace will tell you a naughty story with a twist. Before there was Ms Holly and the Pet Shop, before there were sexy ghosts, before Grace Marshall upped the romance ante, K D Grace was into quickies, and here’s a selection of her naughtiest.

Here’s a little bit about the lovely Rose Caraway.

Sexy-Librarian-web-headerRose Caraway is a native Northern California writer, narrator, and podcaster on the hit shows “The Kiss Me Quick’s” Eroti-cast, Sex stories by Rose Caraway,  and “The Sexy Librarian”   She has written two novels (soon to be published) and countless short stories. Although her specialty is erotic fiction/nonfiction, she also has a passion for writing suspense, fantasy, and romance works. Some of her influences include Stephen King, Dan Savage, Jean M. Auel, Charlotte Bronte, Mia Martina, and Ann Rice.

Rose’s writings prominently showcase her sex-positive approach to life, as well as her commitment to both feminism and masculinism. Being a staunch supporter of the LGBT community,  she believes that people of all genders and orientations should be considered complementary and interdependent and necessary for a truly healthy and functional society.

In addition to writing, Rose’s other passions revolve around keeping an active lifestyle, and a deep love of music and its many incarnations. She is immersed in the martial arts and has earned a Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. She also studies and practices, Brazilian Jujitsu, Krav Maga, and Mixed Martial Arts.

You can find Rose here:

Website- http://www.thekissmequicks.com/

The Kiss Me Quick’s Podcast- http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-kiss-me-quicks-sex-stories/id463196186

Twitter-    twitter@RoseCaraway

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kiss-Me-Quicks-Eroti-cast/133513530074653

 

 

Rose Caraway and The Music Assist

I’m very excited to welcome the fabulous and multi-talented Sexy Librarian, Rose Caraway, to A Hopeful Romantic today to talk about something that affects all of our lives — music. Welcome Rose!

Hey everybody! Thank you to KD Grace for having me on! This is fabulous! I have been completely swamped with work for the past couple of months and when KD asked me to write for her blog, I found myself scratching my head and even asked my computer screen what I should write about? Well, it finally dawned on me as I lay on my couch planning out my week.

Music. Everyone listens to it some way or another. Everyone.

Music is powerful. It influences fashion, friendships, pop culture, entire genres, it’s very often the dividing line between social groups we Rose CrarawaySexy Librarian 300x300identify ourselves with. Can you imagine a world without music? From the time we are in the womb until after we die music touches us.

The simplest catchy/annoying jingle can make you buy something or completely repel you. Music has the power to make you tap your foot, snap your fingers, even lift your spirits so much that you get off your rump and dance. A song can be stuck inside your head for an entire day. It can make you cry. To me, music is more powerful than images, than stories. It doesn’t need words to express emotion, just a few well chosen, timely notes. And it is at its greatest influence over me in movies. When you watch a movie it can make the sappiest story more tearful, the scariest horror flick even more blood curdling, it makes action more exciting, thrillers more suspenseful. There is nothing like music. Let’s not forget that it makes housework less mundane. Anybody play music in the background while reading?

Every time we ever laughed or cried during our favorite classic television shows like MASH, The Twilight Zone and Law & Order essentially becomes encapsulated by a single song. The song becomes the show, right? The movie, Jaws wouldn’t be the same without the slow, fear building theme song by John Williams. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Friday the 13th, and Harry Potter (obviously the list is endless), wouldn’t be the same without their wonderful and identifying music. No matter how good an actor is, good music will always make the movie better.

Jason Statham’s, Crank for example was absolutely ridiculous! I loved it. I mean what kind of story line uses the necessity to have sex as a means to survive? Ahem, me! Because it is totally fun! Statham is by no means a brilliant actor; however, it was the music that sold me on the absurdity of this actor having to sex up his adrenaline so that he wouldn’t die, again. In my four part series, Succubus and in Outland 1313 I totally use survival-sex to its fullest! Music can give even the most bizarre story line breath or if it’s very, very lucky; an identity.

Rose CarawayKMQ cover 600x600(1)The Kiss Me Quick’s and The Sexy Librarian Podcasts are my efforts to breathe even more life into my erotic stories, to give them a live heartbeat if you will. I have called upon many musical talents over and over again on my shows and the fans love it. There was a niche needing to be filled in podcasting and the KMQ and SL podcasts are successfully doing just that. It is so exciting to watch them both grow. Every episode gets even better than the last and for me to express my joy in this blog post is impossible. But I owe such a huge part of this success to all the generous musical talent out there. There are so many yet to be discovered artists creating masterpieces and when I stumble upon them, you better believe I snatch them up, quick!

I have been lucky enough to find many musical talents and my hat goes off to each and every one of them. And any opportunity I get to promote them is an honor. To name a handful, here is a list of some of my most favorite finds.

Grapes (Jeff Kendall, who has been featured in most of the KMQ & SL podcasts), Jahzzar, Flex Vector, Chris Zabriskie, Lockerbie, DoKashitero and Good Old Neon. I want to give an extra special tribute to Jan Morgenstern for the musical score for Outland 1313. Of course there are many, many more that can be named but that would take quite a while. So if you are interested in finding a particular artist, just go to my website, thekissmequicks.com and you will see every artist and song title listed for each episode. I encourage any and all to check out these wonderful artists. They put so much of themselves into their art and deserve your listen or you can even send them a small donation or a little love, tell them how good they are. It helps more than you know.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I do, here is a sample. Think of it as an interpretation of how I read and write. I have found that I write with audio in mind.

May I present, Outland 1313 Part One. (Headphones recommended)

 

 

More on Sexuality, Spirituality and Creativity with Dr Dick

Be sure to catch Part two of Dr Dick’s interview with me on his fabulous series, The Erotic Mind. Dr Dick tells me that the first half of our our interview was a big hit, and tons of people downloaded to hear us talk about the creative process and healing the rift between sexuality and spirituality. If you missed it, tune in, catch up, and find out why so many people are having a listen.

Dr Dick is a Clinical Sexologist in private practice in Seattle. He has been a practitioner of Sex Therapy and Relationship Counseling for 30 years. He believes in affirming the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond. Plus he’s an all-around great bloke!
 

Talking Sexuality, Spirituality and Creativity with Dr. Dick

I’m very excited to be Dr. Dick’s guest for the next two weeks on his fabulous podcast series The Erotic Mind. I recently discovered The Erotic Mind series, and I’m definitely hooked! Dr Dick and I talk about sex and religion and the creative process and lots of other exciting topics.

Dr Dick is a Clinical Sexologist in private practice in Seattle. He has been a practitioner of Sex Therapy and Relationship Counseling for 30 years. He believes in affirming the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond. Plus he’s an all-around great bloke!

Part 2 of Dr Dick’s interview with me will be 8th November. Put it on your calendar.

Don’t miss Dr. Dick’s other two on-going interview series, Sex Edge-U-cation, and Sex Wisdom.
 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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