Don’t step on the sidewalk cracks, walk under any mirrors, and stay away from black cats are a few of the taboos on Friday the 13th. We’ve all heard them before. Most people do not take it too seriously, but there are some who dread the date. By the way, if you’re interested, the word paraskevidekatriaphobia means fear of Friday the 13th! If you were looking for a definitive answer, there really isn’t one. Like many cultural traditions and long-running superstitious beliefs, the exact source is unknown. It is most likely the result of many different factors, strengthened over time by a combination of specific incidents, folklore and religion that have evolved over hundreds of years to create what we now refer to as the unluckiest date in the calendar. Here are a few of the beliefs about Friday the 13th:
- Some superstitions about Friday the 13th are rooted in the guest list of the Last Supper. Judas was the 13th guest at the table, and Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Coincidence?
- On Friday the 13th in 1307, thousands of Knights Templar were arrested on orders from King Philip IV of France because of suspicions that their secret initiation rituals made them “enemies of the faith.” After years of torture, they were burned at the stake. Dan Brown’s novel The DaVinci Code popularized the link between the Knights Templar and Friday the 13th.
- The first specific written reference to Friday the 13th as an unlucky day was in an early-20th century novel by Thomas W. Lawson, called Friday, the 13th. Ironically, a ship named after Lawson was caught in a storm and shipwrecked on the night of Friday the 13th, 1907.
- Superstition can result in an economic dip. Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, says U.S. businesses lose millions of dollars on Friday the 13th, because some people are reluctant to leave their homes.
- Friday’s position as the unlucky day may have been strengthened by it being the day of execution of criminals for many years, commonly called Hangman’s Day.
- Scandinavians believed 13 signified bad luck because their 13th mythological demigod Loki was an evil one who brought great misfortune upon humans.
- Hindus believed that it was unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place.
- Most skyscrapers and hotels lack a 13th floor, which specifically comes from the tendency in the early 1900s for buildings in New York City to omit the unlucky number (though both the Empire State Building and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel have 13th floors). Street addresses sometimes skip from 12 to 14, while airports may skip the 13th gate.
- Allegedly, the popular Friday the 13th films were so-named just to cash in on this menacing date recognition, not because the filmmakers actually believed the date to be unlucky.
- Black cats have been seen in Western cultures as an omen of bad luck — they have been associated with witches, and many cultures believe that a black cat crossing your path means you will suffer disaster or even death. Gamblers are especially fearful of the black cat curse – many of them believe that if they see a black cat while going to a casino, they should abandon their plans to gamble there.
Do you consider Friday the 13th to be an unlucky date? Has anything bad ever happened to you on this day before? Do you have any superstitions to help you avoid bad luck? Add your comments below.
“Think of this as Purgatory – I will try to keep to your simple way of categorizing things. There are many places just like this, realms or realities that exist alongside your own, within your own, and a near infinite number which exist in the different pathways of time. This you will see for yourselves, I am sure. These worlds exist to house those who had died. To allow them time for contemplation, and to give us time to judge them. Some worlds are filled with those who led a righteous life, one worthy of a happy eternity. Others are fire realms, nothing more than holding pens for the cattle that will be marched below to where out fallen brother leads his hedonistic life. Then there are many filled with lost souls; empty, lonely places void of all feeling; ghost worlds filled with those that were forgotten, left behind when it was their time to rise… or fall. These worlds all exist separate from each other. Those who dwell or wait in one know nothing about the others. Although memory of your own world remains, given time it fades. Those in the fire realms seem to remember the longest. They are the ones who grasp onto their human memories, as if it could somehow help them find redemption. While those who are righteous are given a mere taste of what awaits them and realize that there was no point to their lives. They are a short test which will determine your place in eternity. Pass and you will be rewarded, fail and punishment is a certainty, do neither and you will be destined to carry on living your mediocre existence in a world fitting to the task; a place such as this, for instance. This community, if you would like to call it that, is long abandoned. The souls simply fell from existence. In these outer worlds the boundaries that keep them sustained are weakened, bending all the time. It is not unheard of for these dimensions to disappear along with everybody in them. This was where we needed to bring you, for it is here that the boundaries are weakest. There is a war coming, a fight that has been brewing beneath the surface of all worlds since before time, and it is here that the first tears will appear. Once they start they cannot be stopped, and given time the barriers will break and all worlds will collide. Your earth, your mortal life, the kingdom of God will come crashing down from the heavens while the fiery underbelly of Hell will rise up and Lucifer, our fallen brother, will try once more to take control. This will not happen; it must not. Do you understand me?” Raguel’s eyes seemed to focus on all of them individually, yet simultaneously. It held them captive and allowed them all to see that this angel was far from the stereotype.
The group stood in silence. The words they had just heard were heavy to digest, and their brains had been sluggish before Raguel started, and so it took a while for everything to sink in. When it finally did they all had to fight back the urge to laugh, especially Graham who, despite his age, or possibly as a result of his age, was the most skeptical and cynical of them all. Once the laughter was contained without even so much as a nose snort, they all returned their attentions to Raguel, but instead of continuing with his explanation, he simple stared at them. There was a flash of light and a loud rustle of feathers. The wind created as the angel took flight brought tears to their eyes. Raguel was gone before any of them could register anything, the wind and sound apparently coming after the fact. All five of them had been looking straight at him, or so they would swear in later conversations, but yet none of them saw him leave. Like the greatest magician in the world he was there one second and vanished like the victim of a David Copperfield illusion the next.
“Forgive Raguel; he does not deal with mortals well. He is a warrior through and through. Maintaining the balance is his purpose, keeping a watchful eye on us is his responsibility. The troubles of our father’s favorite creation are of little and no concern to him,” the angel who had been introduced as Nemamiah said. His words were noticeably more cordial than Raguel’s had been.
It is an honor and a pleasure to have my friend and fellow author, Alex Laybourne on the blog today! Alex is the ultimate in Horror writer, and his debut novel, “Highway To Hell”, demonstrates this all too well with incredibly macabre, yet well-crafted depictions of a man or woman’s own personal Hell! I hope you enjoy reading the interview and excerpt – be sure to follow his blog to stay updated on the release of the next book in the trilogy and any other future projects!
MEET AUTHOR ALEX LAYBOURNE
Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that I became a horror writer.
From an early age I was sent to schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away and so spent most of my free time alone, as the friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them in the weekends or holidays.
I have been a writer as long as I can remember and have always had a vivid imagination. To this very day I find it all too easy to just drift away into my own mind and explore the world I create, where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue everything basically, and when the time is right, I can simply pluck them from the allotment of my mind like carrots and serve them up on the pages of whatever work is to be their home.
I am married and have three children and my biggest dream for them is that they grow up to spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is
I am always interested in making new friends both readers and writers alike. You can find me most hours of the day on Twitter under the name @vanplank or on Facebook. If you really like me, you can always hop on over to my blog www.alexlaybourne.com and see what goes on inside my mind.
INTERVIEW WITH ALEX LAYBOURNE, AUTHOR OF “HIGHWAY TO HELL”
Name three interesting facts about yourself.
Three things… um, I taught myself Dutch in one year just by immersing myself in the culture. No lessons. I made an arrest my first night with the English Police (I was a Special Constable). It took me 45 minutes when the average is 12 months. If I talk to an Irish person for too long, I just start talking in this ridiculously fake Irish accent. It really is terrible, and I can’t stop it. That’s not really interesting, but I guess I’m pretty boring really ha.
What do you do when you are not writing? Any hobbies?
Playing with the kids ( I have 4 of them… well 3.5 currently), when I have some free time, I love working out.
Rocky, Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Omen, Jaws, too many to mention haha
I don’t listen to much, only when exercising or driving. I have an eclectic mix from Metallica to Johnny Cash. I would say Country is what draws me the most.
Did you listen to any particular music for inspiration while writing “Highway to Hell”?
Not really, unless the sound of crying babies and shouting children counts. My writing is all done at home in my free time. With three kids running around it is hard to find quiet time. I guess the theme tune to Dora is as close to music as it gets.
Is there anyone who has influenced/encouraged you to write? Who and how/why?
My wife has stood behind me, but I have to say the greatest encouragement I have found is within the writing community itself. Everybody is motivating, and encourages each other. It is awesome to be a part of it.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Stephen King has been a large influence on me. His ability to take the smallest thing and turn it into a story; Gerald’s Game was one I will always remember. A woman tied to a bed, her husband dead at her feet. I mean it sounds like a scene not an entire novel.
What about the horror genre interests you? Is this what inspired you to write horror?
I never intended to write horror. It was just that every story I wrote went down this dark path. One day I just took a step back and look at it and thought. Ok, I’m going to write horror. I have never looked back. Horror is a great genre, because you can incorporate everything, comedy, romance, suspense etc.
What was the first horror book/story you remember reading?
I remember reading IT from Stephen King when I was about 11.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nothing intentional, I think there probably are little messages that could be gleaned. It is the same for every novel, but I didn’t write it thinking, well, I hope people understand that message in this chapter.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing “Highway to Hell” to life?
Time was the main problem. As I said, with three kids running around and a full time job, I was restricted to about an hour a day, maybe a little more. Other than that, the novel just kind of wrote itself. It took me a while to settle on how to write it, but once I stripped the story down I realized I was writing two novels in one. I separated the ideas, and Highway to Hell was born.
What do you think readers will find the most frightening while reading your book?
I guess the start of the book. It is very graphic when it introduces the characters. You will need a strong stomach to read them. The second half of the novel is more about setting up the tone for the next installment. I hope that the images of Hell that I create will stick in peoples mind after they have finished reading it.
Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
I always wanted to go the traditional route, but after about 30 rejections from publishers the world over, I realized that maybe I should look at going it alone. That was when I started reading all about the Indie Author wave that was starting to build. I loved what I read, and I learned so much. The book wasn’t ready, not really, so I re-edited it, made it much stronger and then just kind of threw caution to the wind and published it. It worked out quite well, as I have now signed a contract with MayDecember Publications. Highway to Hell will be re-released at the end of this year with the second of the trilogy coming the beginning of 2013.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism I ever reactive comes from myself. I am never satisfied with that I write, I always think things could be tweaked and tightened, but if I listened to myself, I would never finish a book. The best compliment was being compared to Stephen King. Several people mentioned it and it made my day.
Can you tell us about your upcoming project/book?
I have two books completed, the first two books in the Highway to Hell trilogy. They are due to be published at the end of 2012 and start of 2013 respectively. I am currently working on a collection of short stories, and a new novel. It is a psychological thriller and something totally different to Highway to Hell. After that, I will write part three of my trilogy.
Congratulations to you Alex for your outstanding news! You recently posted on your blog that you were signed by May December Publications!
What was your initial reaction when you realized “Highway to Hell” had been accepted by a publisher?
I stood outside in the street and did a little dance. It was 22:00, dark and the neighbors probably thought I was a little weird. I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell people.
What are your goals now that you have achieved your dream of being published?
World Domination… I mean, my goals are the same, I will continue writing, and just see where the books take me. My goal is to be as successful as I can. With May December, I am on the right path, but it is still up to me to ensure that I stay there, and keep moving forward.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
It is simple advice and probably the same advice everybody gives. Write and read. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t write. Write every day, whether it is on your novel, or a short story, even a blog post. Write, it can be utter drivel and never see the light of day, but that doesn’t matter. You need to read. Reading makes us better writers, read as much as you can by as many writers and across as many genres as you can. Every writer offers you a new experience, and new perspective.
ABOUT ALEX’S BOOK
HIGHWAY TO HELL
Marcus, Becky, Richard, Helen, Sammy and Graham. All complete strangers, different ages, backgrounds and even countries, but they all have one major thing in common…They all must DIE.
Sentenced to offer their penance in the many chambers of Hell, their lives are nothing but a torturous experience. They are brought face to face with their past, their mistakes and the implications that had for others. Until one by one they are rescued and thrown together. Waking in a dying world, they are introduced to their rescuers who do anything but conform to their angelic stereotype.
Together, bonded by an unknown destiny the group is set on their quest; to find one individual buried deep within the many Hell worlds. Not only does the fate of their world rest on their shoulders, but that of existence itself.
Later today I will be posting an excerpt from Alex Laybourne’s “Highway to Hell”!
It’s the start of a new week and to get this Monday rolling, I am very excited to have Indie Author, Tanja Segal visiting the blog today! I met Tanja on Twitter and was instantly enthralled by her novel, “Death Lurks Everywhere”! We started chatting about our favorite horror movies and found we have a lot of the same interests. She is not only a very thoughtful and genuine person, she is also a very talented artist and author! I hope you enjoy the excerpt from her upcoming novel, “Death Lurks Everywhere” and I encourage you to stop by her blog and say hi!
MEET AUTHOR, TANJA SEGAL
My Name is Tanja. I’m from a small town in Germany called Gelsenkirchen, where I lived my whole life. The funny thing about this small town is since I moved to Los Angeles, everyone I meet asks me where I came from and of course they don’t know this town, but the reactions of these people are so funny. I try to explain, but this makes for some amazing stories on occasion, *lol*. Maybe it would help if I told you that this town is about 25 miles from Duesseldorf and not too far from Koeln? 😉 Do you know where I live now? ha ha ha
Like all children, I went to school in Germany and studied for 10 Years. My favorite classes were: English, Biology, Physics and Sports! In my youth I always had the dream of visiting the USA someday. It was a really big dream for me. Who would have thought that this Dream would actually be fulfilled some day?
After I was done with my school, I started to study IT Support, business, and Technology. I worked 3 Years in a Company named ”Timeless GmbH” which was a Computer Company that sold new computer hardware. I started in sales and moved over to the Technical department where I repaired PC’s, installed whole systems and built custom computers on order. I had a great time. I finished my education and earned the title ”IT System Clerk.” Yes I am a girl who knows many things about computers 🙂 Surprised?
From August 2009 until January 2012 I worked for a phone company, E-Plus, as a call center agent. I supported customers and helped them with network related issues, or Internet connection problems. I also helped them with settings for their cell phones.
On January 16th I moved to Los Angeles – California. Now I am working to make another Dream come true. I want to use my creativity and finally become a writer. Well I am already doing some nice things. Like for example: designing websites, creating book covers and drawing portraits 🙂 I consider myself an artist.
Follow her blog at – http://authortanjasegal.blogspot.com
ABOUT TANJA’S BOOK, “DEATH LURKS EVERYWHERE”
“Death Lurks Everywhere” is a horror/science fiction novel about a genetic experiment gone awry that produces a fierce monster that wreaks havoc on the human race, a disaster of massive proportions. Will the evil forces behind this experiment be discovered in time and will the monster be stopped, or is everything lost?
EXCERPT FROM “DEATH LURKS EVERYWHERE”
DEATH LURKS EVERYWHERE
Excerpt from Chapter 3 – The arrival
Joe, who had taken his place again, eyed Tom, trying to hide his own concern.
“Of course it was the wind, you chicken. “He had no idea what had just happened and a cold shower ran down his spine yet he did not want Tom to notice. He steadied himself holding the side of the boat with one hand and looked towards Tom whose whole body was trembling and stammered.
“Have you been able to see anything in the water? “ Joe nodded his head, trying to play down the whole situation.
“No, there’s nothing there. The boat has probably just crossed an little uneven ground and that is what caused the shaking.”
Although coming from his own lips, he himself could not really believe what he had just said. He nodded at Tom affirmatively and got up again. He opened the box in the middle of the boat, grasping a small torch. At a click of his thumb the torch radiated a yellowish light. He pointed the lamp at the water and scrutinized the surface once again. But again he could detect nothing. He lowered the hand with the torch and turned to Tom who was still sitting trembling.
„Look, there is no mons…“ But precisely at that moment came the sound of a muffled tone. A scream muted by the water. Joe was startled. Totally shocked he dropped the torch into the water holding his ears closed with both hands. Tom also grabbed the towel beside him, folding it instantly over his head. Joe’s eyes widened, now he also had problems continuing to suppress his fear. He swirled around looking from every direction into the water yet he could see nothing. It was almost as if a ghost was attacking the boat. With a jolt something crashed against the back of the boat and it began rocking again. This time Joe had no chance. He slipped, falling backwards and lost his balance. He fell overboard into the water. Tom jumped up, looking into the water. He was under total shock and hadn’t a clue what to do. He combed the surface of the water but could find Joe nowhere.
Suddenly bubbles of air rose to the surface and Joe hastily gasped for air. He shouted to Tom.
“Come on you idiot, stop gazing so dumbly into the water. Get me out of here.” Tom was still in a complete state of shock, he gathered his courage. He bent over the edge of the boat stretching his hand out to Joe who tried with all his strength to pull himself up but in vein. He lost hold of his hand and fell back into the cool water, thrashing about with both legs to stay afloat. But something under the water already had him in its sights and moved faster and faster towards him. Joe shouted to Tom.
“Faster, faster, get me out of here!” Tom grabbed his hand once again and pulled as hard as he could, but then he turned his gaze to the water behind Joe. The sight that revealed itself shocked him so much that he abruptly let go of Joe’s hand who fell backwards again into the water. Joe didn’t understand the world any longer and was visibly angry and screamed at Tom.
“You idiot, what’s the matter with you?” But then he felt something moving behind him. It was moving at an extraordinary speed and heading straight towards him. Joe whirled around and saw an approximately one meter large creature coming towards him. Now it was all or nothing. He had no time to lose and tried to get out of the water on his own. But it was too late. The creature had reached him and pulled him down backwards from the side of the boat. He cried for help and fought tooth and nail to defend himself. But he did not have a chance.
The creature clenched him by the neck, pulling him down into the depths of the ocean. Tom who had had to watch the whole spectacle fell back onto his seat after the event. He bent forwards holding his head in both hands. He bobbed up and down, his whole body trembling. The shock of what had just happened had mortified him. He thought the nightmare was over but once again came the frightening muffled noise. The boat began to rock. Tom grasped the side of the boot when its wooden bottom broke up before his eyes. Before he could manage to get up or get out of the way he was confronted by the gigantic creature. He stared into the eyes of the beetle-like animal. They were grayish in color and shimmered translucently in the light of the stars.
Tom’s eyes widened and he screamed for help. Suddenly a harpoon-like tongue shot from the mouth of the creature and in one stroke bored through Tom’s head. The last cry hushed into the night and the creature dived into the depths with its prey. All that remained was the destroyed remains of a wooden boat. But the attack ensured that the boat slowly but surely began to sink. In a few minutes it would be impossible to discover and an accident could no longer be reconstructed…
YOU CAN FIND TANJA SEGAL HERE
Author website: http://authortanjasegal.weebly.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/death.lurks.everywhere
My novel, “Vengeance of the Wolf” has been featured on Indie Author, Michelle Muto’s blog! I hope you will check out the interview and excerpt from “Vengeance” posted on Michelle’s blog! My little typing buddy, Tairobi was also featured in the post! Hope you’ll send him some love…he can be so sensitive! 😉
Many thanks Michelle! You rock!
Many thanks to author, Lia Fairchild for featuring my novel, “Vengeance of the Wolf” on her blog! If you enjoy reading Horror/Thriller stories, then I hope you’ll visit Lia’s blog and read the excerpt from “Vengeance”!
It was a great privilege to be interviewed by Jennifer from “Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance”!!! Thank you Jennifer for featuring “The Emerald Dragon” on your blog! I encourage everyone to visit her blog and take a look around!
Many thanks to Ellie from “The Selkie Reads Stories” for posting her review of “Vengeance of the Wolf” on her blog!! I hope that you will visit her blog and leave a comment!
Thank you to all my blog readers! I love to read your comments and feedback! 🙂 If you have any ideas for a post, if you would like to offer a guest post or blog swap, please don’t hesitate to email me! cc(at)solitaireparke(dot)com
Happy Memorial Day!