Guest post: Mark Cassell on his Sussex Horrors

Barney Bodoano+Artist+The Commission+Sussex Horrors+Supernatural+Ghosts+Spirits+Shadow Fabric Mythos+Rye+Camber Castle


For as long as I can remember, age, desolation, and imperfection have intrigued me. Through my waking hours, I see the gaps in brickwork, the cracked paint on a windowsill, the frown on someone’s face or even the faint scar along their jawline. It’s not that I see unhappiness everywhere, and of course, nothing is truly perfect (indeed, what is perfect?), but I’ve always seen a different layer of the world in which we live.

There’s a veneer. And I like to peel it back to see what’s beneath.

That’s what us writer-types do, yes? We write about stuff, we inject new life into things, and for me, I like to reenergise that which is otherwise defunct. Often my work features ruins and ancient rock, especially in my Shadow Fabric mythos stories. Rusty machines and collapsed outhouses, barren ground, places void of anyone and anything, it all inspires me.

There can be beauty and serenity in the way nature takes over, the way the elements destroy what humankind creates. Think of the pattern of rust, the pockmarked sandstone from an assault by the wind, and the tangle of determined weeds. Relentless and often silent deterioration or even growth, and it will remain long after we die. Perhaps long even after the human race dies out.

I guess this is all a reflection of my frequent apocalyptic dreams. I have no doubt that’s why I’ve turned my hand to dystopian cyberpunk where the characters roam the scorched landscape. Yet, unlike my dreams, they do not feature the British actor, Sean Bean. That guy makes regular appearances in those recurrent dreams of dystopia. Yeah, I know, weird huh?

Hastings and the surrounding areas are steeped in history with castles and centuries-old buildings amid a patchwork landscape of greens and browns. So it’s unsurprising three of my stories in Sussex Horrors feature ruin and rust, derelict and decay. No sign of Sean Bean though, I promise.

“The Rebirth” is a story about a primary school teacher whose lesson doesn’t quite go to plan. There’s a pivotal scene near the Hastings fisherman’s huts and so while writing it, I headed down there with a notebook. To breathe in the atmosphere – as well as the combination of sea and fish – I sat on a rotting bench between derelict huts, scribbling notes that were to become an integral part of the teacher’s journey.

Another story, “The Commission” features the ruins of Camber Castle. Back in 2015, I received an invite to the Shadows at the Door anthology and decided to write about the 16th-century device fort in the Rye marshes. On a chilly November morning at 3am (a time vital to the plot), I wrapped up in hat and scarf, grabbed a notebook, and with a much-needed torch headed across the marshland. Once the rights to this story returned to me, I knew it belonged in the Sussex Horrors anthology.

As for “Away in a Mangler” I cannot say too much without giving away the plot. Although the story begins clean and perhaps a little too perfect for the new employee at the gift shop, Looking Glass, it does not stay that way for long …


Mark Cassell - Sussex Horrors SQ - bordered




Three Sussex authors … Twelve horror stories.

Take a terrifying journey to a coastline associated with candyfloss and amusement arcades, and see it stripped to the bone.

Whether it’s seagulls that prove to be more than a nuisance, the mysterious inhabitants of a forgotten village, or a fisherman whose Easter eggs are not for consumption, the horrors are always there … and much closer than we care to admit.


Stories include:


Mark Cassell’s

– The Rebirth

– The Commission

– Demon Alcohol

– Away in a Mangler


Jonathan Broughton’s

– The Stealth of Spiders

– You Have One Message

– Furzby Holt

– The Pensioner Pirates of Marine Parade


Rayne Hall’s

– Seagulls

– Normal, Considering the Weather

– Scruples

– Double Rainbows





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  20 comments for “Guest post: Mark Cassell on his Sussex Horrors

  1. 12 Mar 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Interesting to hear of your fascination with the derelict and the decayed. I can certainly relate to this and regularly collect images via Pinterest on a board called ‘Forsaken.’ I imagine the forgotten vestiges of humanity that impress themselves upon houses, cars, industrial buildings, you name it. As you say – it’s a writer’s job to observe closely and get beneath the surface. Wishing you success with the ‘Sussex Horrors’ collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 25 Mar 2018 at 1:16 am

      Thanks! Your Pinterest board sounds like something I need to see. What’s the link?


  2. Vladimir Egalite
    21 Mar 2018 at 8:16 am

    This “interest” in imperfection is what probably makes the stories written by Mark noticeable. The horror, which is always there, is the imperfection of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Crina Vasile
    22 Mar 2018 at 1:58 am

    Double rainbows is such a wonderful and rare phenomenon. Associating this with a horror tale is an original and admirably idea. I like Mrs. Rayne Hall’s imagination as a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shenae
    22 Mar 2018 at 11:33 am

    It’s always so interesting to hear the ideas behind each author’s piece of work. I would imagine that physically being in the place where you’re pulling your inspiration from also makes for a thrilling story. Sounds like Sussex is the place to be 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 27 Mar 2018 at 10:11 pm

      Sussex is a beautiful place, certainly. And there are many more parts of it I need to explore…



  5. Ralitsa Stoyanova
    22 Mar 2018 at 10:38 pm

    I love this part: I’ve always seen a different layer of the world in which we live.” I think it’s one of the main qualities a writer should have – to see beyond the common, to explore the unknown. I can’t wait to read the book. I’m familiar with some of Rayne Hall’s stories and I can’t wait to read yours as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 27 Mar 2018 at 10:23 pm

      Ever since I can remember, the world has certainly looked different and so I guess that’s why I turned to storytelling. These days I’ve given up commenting to others on what I see, and simply voice it through fiction.



  6. 23 Mar 2018 at 4:27 am

    The relationship between “man” and nature has always been complicated and a subject of contemplation from immemorial times. Very interesting to hear Mark’s thoughts on that. Also, impressed by his “field work” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 27 Mar 2018 at 10:30 pm

      Man versus Nature? Indeed! Man’s ego has grown since time immemorial and let’s be honest, we’re getting worse. We are literally digging the ground we stand on and poisoning the air we breathe. I wish I could see what happens to mankind in two hundred years… Perhaps it won’t even take that long until nature bites back?



  7. Aimee
    24 Mar 2018 at 5:45 am

    Sussex does sound disturbing. Is it the sort of place that’s just asking to be turned into a horror story (like ruined houses, covered in kudzu in the Deep South in the USA)? Or is that just what your writer’s eye sees?

    Liked by 1 person

    • 27 Mar 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Sussex is beautiful, honestly! It’s just that I see the dark bits between the candy floss and pretty lights.



  8. D. Neer
    26 Mar 2018 at 3:57 am

    The more I read from Mark Cassell, the more interested I am to check out his stories in the book. Especially as an active reader, it can get kind of tiring to see most young authors repeat the same cliches about the craft and what they think they are bringing to it. But with Mark, it feels like his heart is in the right place. Or, he’s just a great writer and makes it seem this way. Either way, I’m excited. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • 27 Mar 2018 at 10:38 pm

      That’s kind of you for saying so, thanks. Just like you, as a reader I’m so tired of the cliches we’re constantly slapped in the face with. And I must admit, I believe the reason I’m not as prolific as other authors is my determination to avoid all those horror tropes out there. It’s hard work.



  9. Matthew Johnson
    26 Mar 2018 at 6:22 am

    When you see an object, nobody can see it the way you do. It’s good you write stories so that we can experience them our own way. Maybe we find something that reminds us of a bad event. When you see something that reminds you of a bad experience , do you choose to avoid writing about it, or do you choose to make it scarier? I can’t wait to read the stories, especially Seagulls by Rayne Hall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 27 Mar 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Much of my fiction reflects my fears and experiences. So yes, I’ll always write about them. There’s a scene in my novella HELL CAT OF THE HOLT where the main character searches for her missing cat… For my wife and I to experience that first hand was bad – and very sad – so to face it head-on, I wrote about it. Painful to write, certainly, but I believe it grounded the story.


      Liked by 1 person

  10. Faith
    5 Apr 2018 at 2:48 am

    Indeed, nothing is truly perfect. The ability to look at imperfections and bring them to life in print is magic on its own. Great work!


  11. 13 Apr 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Hi there.

    I just want to say that I love the book cover! Would love to know the inspiration behind it


    • 14 Apr 2018 at 7:02 pm

      Hi there Ashlee,
      Thank you for asking. Mark asked me to come up with some ideas that featured the Sussex Coast, in the book cover, which featured spiders crawling around the edges. So I searched in Brighton, Hastings, and Rye. The beach and pier that you see is the new, award-winning pier in Hastings. The wood around the edges was shot on Brighton seafront. I had some fake spiders which I photographed in my studio and I blended it all together in Photoshop.


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