Clarissa Johal

Thursday, March 1, 2018

#FolkloreThursday-Spring-Heeled Jack #England

English penny dreadful (c. 1890)
Image Use: Public Domain, Expired Copyright
Stepping from the shadows of Victorian folklore, Spring-Heeled Jack, as this entity came to be known, is one of the most unexplained mysteries to come out of Victorian England. He reputedly scratched, slapped and attacked his victims and then bounded away with a supernatural ability. The attacks began in 1837 in Southwest London and continued well into the 1920s.

Wide-spread accounts of Spring-Heeled Jack describe him as wearing a dark cloak over a tight-fitting white oilskin suit. He had a hideous face, glowing eyes like balls of fire, claw-like fingernails made of iron and the ability to spit blue and white flames from his mouth, paralyzing his victims. Eluding capture, the entity could jump incredible heights and distances--a reported 20-30 feet with ease.

The first reported victim was Polly Adams, a pub worker. In September of 1837, a group of four people were accosted by a 'Devil-like' creature. All of the victims ran but Polly was left behind. The creature allegedly tore at her clothing, scratching her skin with iron claws, before bounding off into the night. In October of 1837, a servant by the name of Mary Stevens was walking to work. The creature sprung from an alley and attacked her, ripping her clothing and kissing her face. The next day, the creature jumped in front of a carriage and caused it to crash. It then bounded over a nine foot wall. Vigilante groups were formed but the creature managed to evade them.
English penny dreadful - (c. 1886)
Image Use: Public Domain, Expired Copyright

In February of 1838, 18-year-old Lucy Scales and her sister were returning home when Spring-Heeled Jack reportedly jumped in front of the sisters and vomited blue flames into Lucy's face, temporarily blinding her.
Two days later, he appeared at the door of another victim, Jane Alsop. Dressed in a black cloak, he stated, “I’m a policeman. For Gods sake, bring me a light, for we have caught Spring-Heeled Jack in the lane.” When she returned to him with a candle, she saw it was Spring-Heeled Jack himself. He immediately attacked her, spitting blue and white "gas" into her face. Thankfully, her sister was able to pull Jane from his grasp and, once again, he bounded away into the night.

The only known fatality connected with Spring-Heeled Jack occurred in 1845 on a bridge in New York. In broad daylight and in front of witnesses, Spring-Heeled Jack grabbed a prostitute and spat blue fire into her face. The girl was thrown into a sewer where she tragically drowned.

In August of 1877, Spring-Heeled Jack appeared before a group of soldiers in Aldershot’s North army camp. Private John Regan was standing sentry when he heard the noise of someone dragging something metallic down the road. When he went to investigate, Spring-Heeled Jack leapt on him and spat blue flames into his face. Witnesses claim that the attacker, tall, thin and wearing a helmet and oilskin suit, jumped over them, clearing them by 10 feet or more.

In September 1904, Spring-Heeled Jack appeared on the roof of a church in Liverpool, England. Onlookers claimed he fell from the church's steeple to the ground. Thinking that he had committed suicide, they rushed to his aide only to find a man clothed in white, wearing a helmet and completely unharmed. Laughing, he ran away from the crowd and disappeared into the night.

The final recorded event occurred in 1920 at the Central Railway Station in London. A man in a white cloak was seen jumping from various rooftops to the street below.

Who or what was Spring-Heeled Jack? Some claim that he was a demon or supernatural entity. Others speculate it was one or more persons with a diabolical sense of humor, causing mass hysteria. The only physical evidence left behind was a set of footprints in 1837, the depths of the prints suggesting that a "spring" mechanism was used in the shoes of the assailant. But in this case, it was argued that a jump of that magnitude would break the ankles of the jumper.
Regardless, the legend lives on.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

On Hiatus #amwriting #paranormal #darkfantasy

I haven't posted in a while (and may do some re-posts) but I'm still here!

I've been working hard on Whispers in the Wood, my new paranormal dark fantasy. It's been a few rough and busy months for my family but never fear! The novel is being fine-tuned before it goes off to the publisher.

Join my mailing list or follow my Amazon Author Page to stay in the loop.

Whispers in the Wood - Coming 2018

It all began with an acorn.

There are some places you shouldn’t disturb, places where history lingers. When Rowan travels to England, she finds a remote village, hidden in the shadow of an ancient forest. Vague warnings from the local people aren’t enough to stop her from venturing into the trees, or from picking up a single acorn. It seemed a simple action. But when a stranger emerges from the forest claiming the acorn belongs to him, Rowan finds herself pulled into something both centuries old, and deadly.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Top 10 #Anime Picks #paranormal #horror

I've been a fan of anime for 20+ years. I love the artwork, complex themes and the fact that they glean from Japanese folklore and mythology. Take a peek...

**All links go to Hulu, except for Vampire Hunter D (movie site) and Tactics (AnimeHere).

My top 10 picks in paranormal horror no particular order

Photo courtesy of Keng Susumpow via Flickr
1) Death Note (2006-2007)

Manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata.

Yagami Light is a bored A-student with great prospects. One day, he finds a notebook (Death Note) from the realm of the death gods or shinigami. The book has the power to kill people in any way he desires, he merely has to write their name in it. Light decides to create his perfect world, one without crime or criminals. However, when criminals start dropping dead one by one, the authorities send the legendary detective 'L' to track down the killer. A battle of wits, deception and logic ensues, much like a chess game. 

My thoughts: This the crème de la crème of anime. The story is complex and the concepts of good and evil are challenged.

Fave character: Ryuk. Gotta love an apple eating shinigami with a sense of humor.

*I prefer sub-titled anime, but this dubbed version of Death Note is quite good.

2) Blue Exorcist (2011)
Manga written and illustrated by Kazue Katō. 

Humans live in the world of Assiah, and demons live in Gehenna. The two dimensions are not meant to interfere with each other. In spite of this, demons still possess creatures in Assiah. The humans who can fight these demons are known as exorcists. Rin Okumura bears the curse of being Satan's illegitimate son. His foster father sacrificed himself to save him from demons. To avenge his foster father's death, Rin decides to follow the path of an exorcist.

My thoughts: This anime has many similarities with the current television series Supernatural. See if you can spot them!

Fave character: Mephisto Pheles. He enjoys chaos and is always ahead of the game. Plus, he dresses fab.

3) Vampire Hunter D (1985 Film)
Manga written in 1983 by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. 

Technology and the supernatural have overtaken the world. What's left of the human race live in fear of vampires, who keep werewolves and mutants to protect them. Doris Lang trespasses into vampire territory and encounters Count Magnus Lee, who tastes her blood and chooses her to be his next wife. Doris hires a vampire hunter by the name of 'D,' a dhampir (half human, half vampire), to rid her of this fate. 

My thoughts: Vampire Hunter D remains a cult classic.

Fave character: Carmilla. This vampire is deliciously evil, cunning and intelligent...and her clothes are awesome.

4) Black Butler (2008-2010)
Manga written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. (The second season, Kuroshitsuji II, aired in 2010 and did not feature in the manga.) 

In Victorian-era London, a young boy sells his soul to a demon in order to avenge his family's death. The demon takes the form of a loyal butler and is required to protect, serve and arrive whenever summoned by his young master until the deal has been completed.

My thoughts: I love the Victorian costumes and artwork in this series--flat out. I will drop a warning however, the relationships between the butlers and their underage 'masters' toe the line.

Fave character: Grell Sutcliff in his Grim Reaper form. Over-the-top, flamboyant and outspoken. What's not to love?
5) Mushishi (2005-2006)
Manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara. 

The story follows Ginko, a man who dedicates himself to keeping people protected from supernatural creatures called Mushi. The Mushi are beyond the shackles of the words "good" and "evil." They can exist in countless forms, and are capable of mimicking things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even phenomena like rainbows.

My thoughts: This anime is beautiful to watch and the concepts are very thoughtful. It's paced very slow, so if that's not your thing, it's not for you.

Fave character(s): Technically, there's only one main character (Ginko) but I really liked the concept of the Mushi

6) Vampire Knight (2008)
A shōjo manga series written by Matsuri Hino

Yuki Cross is the adopted daughter of Kaien Cross, the headmaster of Cross Academy. Yuki's earliest memory is of being attacked by a rogue vampire and of being rescued by Kaname, a Pureblood vampire. Ten years later, her adoptive father is the guardian of the vampire race and leads a group of vampires at the elite boarding school. At Yuki's side is Zero Kiryu, a childhood friend whose hatred for the creatures leaves him determined never to trust them. The coexisting arrangement seems all well and good, but have the vampires truly renounced their murderous ways? 

My thoughts: This series gets a bit Twilight'ish towards the end. Turning a blind eye to that--if only because of the artwork and story arcs.

Fave character: Zero Kiryu because he always tries to do the right thing.

7) Boogiepop Phantom (2000)
Manga written by Kouhei Kadono.

The story takes place a month after a pillar of light appears in the night sky, and five years after a string of serial killings. High school students have started to disappear and the blame is placed on Boogiepop, an urban legend who is said to be the personification of Death. Each episode centers on a different character who had a short involvement in the major event. Some episodes are out of sequence and scenes are shown from different perspectives. Through this non-linear style, the characters are used to develop the central themes of Change, Escapism, Memory and Relationships.

8) Ghost Hunt (2006)
Manga written by Fuyumi Ono. The last novel was published in 1994 and the story was left incomplete. 

The story follows the adventures of the Shibuya Psychic Research Center as they investigate mysterious occurrences all over Japan with a team of other spiritualists and assistants.

9) Tactics (2004-2005)
Manga written by Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama.

Supernatural sleuth and writer, Kantaro Ichinomiya, spends his days fighting demons and writing about his adventures. Accompanied by a mysterious Demon-Eating Goblin and a band of demons, Kantaro travels the Japanese countryside in search of ghostly mysteries and the paranormal.

10) xxxHOLiC (2006)
Manga written and illustrated by the group of manga artists known as Clamp. The manga was adapted into an animated film, xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream which premiered on August 20, 2005. It was followed by two anime series which ran from April-September 2006.

The story revolves around Kimihiro Watanuki--a high-school student disturbed by his ability to see the supernatural, and Yūko Ichihara--a witch who owns a wish-granting shop. When Watanuki asks Yūko to remove his ability to see spirits, she grants it--on the condition he pay for his wish by working for her.

That's my list! What are your favorite anime?

Monday, February 26, 2018

#MeatlessMonday - Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I love to cook with mushrooms. They’re versatile, add a heartiness to a dish, and they’re good for you—high in protein, low in fat, and filled with potassium. You can’t go wrong!

Here’s a vegetarian recipe sure to please your palate.

Photo courtesy of su-lin via Flickr

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

3 cups milk
2 onions, diced
1 tbsp. plus ¼ cup butter
1 tsp. salt
2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4½ tsp. dill
2 tbsp. paprika
2-3/4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup flour
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2T soy sauce
1½ cups sour cream

Warm milk in saucepan at low heat.

In soup pot, sauté onions in 1 tablespoon of butter. When they are translucent, add mushrooms, dill, paprika, lemon juice and 1 cup vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

In separate saucepan, melt remaining butter. Slowly whisk in flour, forming a roux. Add warm milk, whisking to eliminate lumps. Add this mixture to soup pot. Add remaining stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, whisk in soy sauce and sour cream.

Yield 10 cups

Sunday, January 21, 2018

New Cover & #Sale - Struck by Clarissa Johal #paranormal #darkfantasy #KindleUnlimited #99cents

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal
Author: Clarissa Johal
Editor: Samantha Ettinger
Publisher: Faeriemoon Press
Number of Pages: 228

About Struck:

Caught a terrible storm, Gwynneth is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of a mysterious stranger. 

Following her release, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift—one that will stay the hands of death. She is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something sinister... for as he shares more of this gift, his price becomes deadly.


She stared into his pale eyes, the color of storm clouds. A scream welled up in her throat. He pushed her against the wall and shook his head in a warning.
“Do not scream.”
His voice was low and soothing. She nodded quickly with every intention of screaming her lungs out as soon as he removed his hand.
“Do not scream,” he repeated.
Gwynneth could hear her breath heavy against his hand. He wore finely made black leather gloves. Why would he be wearing gloves inside? She thought frantically. It’s not cold enough to wear gloves. Dressed in black from top to bottom, except for a white, high-collared dress shirt, he looked archaic. She tried to match him with a time period. Mid-eighteenth century? Even his demeanor was aristocratic and proud. Small silver buttons ran the length of his jacket. They pressed sharply against her thin hospital gown.
“Do you trust me?” He studied her intently and removed his hand.
“You were there when I got hit,” she whispered.
“Why didn’t you bring me to the hospital? You left me at the funeral home.”
“I had no transportation. I left you where you would be found.”
“Why didn’t you stay with me?”
“I have my reasons. I am here now.”
Gwynneth paused. “Thank you for saving me.”
“I wish something in return.”
“I-I don’t have anything.” She flinched as she felt a small tug from deep inside. It was as if probing fingers were searching for something. Fear bloomed within her. The probing stopped.
“Are you saying no?” His voice held an edge.
“I don’t understand.”
“Are…you… saying…no?”
Confused, she nodded slightly. Suddenly, Julian grabbed her around the shoulders, and they fell into blackness. Something powerful swirled around them. Something malevolent. She panicked and clung to him. There was pressure on all sides of her, as if the air was folding and becoming heavier and heavier. And then, everything stopped.
“Open your eyes, Gwynneth,” he whispered.
They were in a Victorian house. A fire burned in the fireplace. The scent from the burning wood filled the air. Muted light reflected off elaborate, but worn, wallpaper and furniture. A half-eaten biscuit lay on a delicate-looking plate next to an empty teacup resting on its side.
Julian took her by the hand and led her up a winding staircase. She studied him from behind. Tall and lean, though quite broad-shouldered, long white hair draped his back like silk. His form-fitting, tailored jacket hit mid-thigh. Matching black pants were tucked into knee-high leather boots. He walked with catlike grace, his boots making light sounds on the stairs.
Otherworldly, her thoughts whispered. Still in her hospital gown, Gwynneth felt vulnerable and naked. Her bare feet pressed against the wooden floor. Grit stuck to her toes.
He led her down a hallway lit by fluted glass light fixtures. At the end of the hallway was a door.
Never taking his eyes off hers, Julian opened it.
Dark figures scattered like exploding glass. Red…so much red. There was blood everywhere. Blood-soaked sheets, pillows; blood pooled onto the wooden floor and soaked into an ornate carpet.
A woman lay across the bed. She wore an old-fashioned white nightgown, which was plastered to her body. Her long dark hair spilled across the sheets. Gaping wounds covered her chest. A knife lay on the floor. The windows were open, and white curtains fluttered in the evening breeze.
The creatures writhed in the corners as light from the hallway shattered their darkness.
A strangled sound escaped Gwynneth’s throat. Julian wrapped his arms around her and urged her forward. The figures that had fled into the corners seeped into the scene once more.
“They come for her. I want you to watch.”
Gwynneth shook violently. He gripped her tighter.
The figures swarmed over the dead woman’s body. They snaked up her torso, across her face, and into her hair. Gwynneth felt their need, burning and relentless.
“Oh my God, she’s not dead,” she moaned. Her vision went black.

Indie Book of the Day Award
Second Place - Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2014

Struck is 99 cents via Amazon!

                                                             YouTube Book Trailer

Thursday, December 21, 2017

#AuthorChallenge #blooddonation @RedCross

I hate needles. Hate them. I'll literally lose sleep the night before my yearly flu vaccine. That said, I'm also a proud blood donor for the American Red Cross. Why? Because blood is needed, and I have it. I would want someone to do the same for me. Please check out these Red Cross facts.

Every 2 seconds, somebody in the U.S. needs blood.
Although about 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, less than 10% eligible do so each year.
Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
More than 1.68 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Many needed blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.

The average adult has about 10 pints of blood. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
1 donation can help more than one patient.  

Christmas is the time for giving, so why not give the ultimate gift?

Find your local blood drive
American Red Cross 
UK Blood Donation
Canadian Blood Services 
Australian Red Cross Blood Services

I'm throwing the gauntlet to my fellow authors to become donors. It's a way of giving back.
And who knows? You may be giving back to one of your readers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Release -The Exile of Elindel (The Elwardian Chronicles) (Volume 1) by Carol Browne #fantasy #elves

The Exile of Elindel (The Elwardian Chronicles) (Volume 1) 
by Carol Browne

Print Length: 349 pages
Publisher: Burning Willow Press, LLC
Publication Date: October 8, 2017
ISBN-10: 1947584065
ISBN-13: 978-1947584068


Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

Author Bio
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her hometown. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes speculative fiction. Carol’s first novel The Exile of Elindel was published by Musa Publishing on 18th April 2014. Following the demise of Musa Publishing, she became a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Her non-fiction novella Being Krystyna - A Story of Survival in WWII was released as an ebook by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016.

Twitter @CarolABrowne