Crowmantle is a novel which I wrote when I had a desire to do something more than a little odd. It is a modern fable, about a person who might be part human, part crow; or, conversely, who might never have existed at all.
Crowmantle might be a legend or a myth. Some people think that he is a cryptid, like the Loch Ness monster or the Grey Man of Ben MacDhui. But there is also the possibility that this strange creature is a member of a secret order of wizards, ones who have had a centuries long battle against evil.
I am drawn to reading things which are a little odd; and therefore, writing things which are equally odd. Although there are no real comparisons – the stories are entirely different – I had in mind an old children’s television show from the 1970s called Catweazle, about a medieval wizard who finds himself in the modern world. I wanted the same feeling of disjunction; the same feeling that Crowmantle does not really fit into the modern world, with its plasma screen TVs and its lack of belief in magic.
The book, in part, is told from people who have come into contact with Crowmantle, or at least heard the legend, from policemen to a family having a day out in the country to a fifteenth century witch hunter.
There are also some rather bad tongue-in-cheek jokes and wordplay in the novel. But I like playing around with words. They are the tools of my trade, after all.
Extract from Crowmantle
It is only in films and television shows that things begin with a murder. For everybody else it is an ending.
The body was not a beautiful corpse, nor an exquisite one. But there was little doubt in the mind of the SOCO officer, summoned to the scene of the crime, that it was dead. That was one thing that he would be willing to swear to. The fact that the skin of the body was paper white tended to be a big giveaway. And the fact that he victim was not breathing. That tended to be a pretty big sign of death.
Later, though, when he was writing up reports, the SOCO officer, who went by the extremely unfortunate name of Arthur Daley (he had been born a few years before the first season of Minder, and had been ribbed about it for his entire life, even though his less than prescient parents had named him after King Arthur), would be convinced by his superiors to change his report, and to admit that the body might have been alive after all.
The corpse was Belsen-victim thin, ribs showing through the costume that he wore. If you are as thin as this man (youth?) was, perhaps it would have been better to wear clothes which did not cling so tightly to the skin.
The one wound to this skeletal youngish man was a wound to his upper, right temple, one which had stopped leaking that sticky, red stuff. Which had been another reason why Officer Daley had believed this man to be dead. People generally stopped bleeding once their heart had stopped: nothing to make it keep pouring out of the hole. But, apart from the blow to the head (which looked like it had come from some heavy, blunt object) there was no sign of any injury to the less than beautiful corpse.
The dead man was dark-haired, his hair thin and in an unfashionable haircut, combed forward at the front. His face was ugly, thin and drawn in st the cheeks, but with a nose where calling it aquiline would have been kind. Most people would have called it hooked.
His eyes were closed. Had they been opened, then his pupils would have been revealed as being jet black, with not a trace of colour in them. But Officer Daley did not draw back the eyelids. If he had, he might have seen a contraction of those sable pupils.
His clothes, as have been said, were figure-hugging. The body was clad in what Daly at first though was a black Lycra bodysuit – but, on closer inspection, he saw was not Lycra, but some thin material which he could not name. Either way, it was revealing, allowing the ribs to show through, and the general lack of musculature.
The dead man had little purple velvet boots on his feet. He also had similar coloured velvet gloves covering his hands. But that was not the full extent of his outfit, for he had a ragged black cloak on his back. It was shiny, like some fibrous cross between leather and rubber. Daley thought of some giant bat wings. But it was only a cloak, ending raggedly, as though some giant rat had taken bites out of it.
There were no possessions on this dead man, nothing to identify him. There were no car keys, no driving licence, no credit cards, no money, nothing which possibly could have been used to find out who he had been. And there was very little blood. That, and the body, was the only physical evidence.
The body had been found on the top floor of a multi-storey car park, midway between a Bentley and a can of dolphin-friendly tuna which had been incongruously set down in the middle of a parking bay, for no apparent reason. It was discovered by the owner of the Bentley, a businessman by the name of Samuel Menzies, going to reclaim his car. Nobody else was around. And Mr Menzies alleged that the body had most definitely not been there around an hour earlier, when he had first parked his car between the white lines. So, sometime between half past two and half past three, on a wet Saturday afternoon, somebody had clouted this thin, ugly young man around the head, and left him to die where he laid.
There had been no witnesses to the crime of murder which had taken place. No one had seen anybody bearing some bloody weapon, coming rushing out of the car park. Nobody had heard anybody cry out. Nobody had seen anything suspicious, or even the dead man entering the car park in the first place. Nor, later, when the various CCTVs in the area were checked, would the dead man show up on the film from them, either.
Crowmantle is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.