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We all share a universe.

Since Marvel went all crazy on the whole fictional shared universe thing, it has become a point of interest with many people. So much so that clues and easter eggs have been hunted down to establish links between already created works. Search to see the evidence that Bladerunner and Alien share the same universe. There is also an easter egg the Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, which shows the alien race from E.T.: The Extraterrestrial has a seat on the council. Maybe E.T.’s ability to make Elliot’s bicycle fly was due to his Jedi powers and control of The Force?

I love these links, these little nods to other creators as a way of showing your admiration for their work. That is why in my book Blood Ink, the mysterious Ms Nikita‘s legal representation comes from the firm Raven and Skull. A law firm so full of evil intent that it would seem folly to have her affairs handled by anyone else.

For those of you who are unaware of who Raven and Skull are here’s a little review. Raven and Skull is the title of a book by the fantastic British author Dr Ashley Lister, though most of the time he seems to drop the Doctor part on his books. It tells the tale of six colleagues from the legal firm’s offices and how they all meet up in a pub to discuss each other how bad, horrible, evil and darn right nasty their week had been. Each story is full of adultery, theft, betrayal, murder, cannibalism, black magic and death. Twisted encounters that play out like an old hammer movie. An anthology of short stories all tied together by the narrative that they all work at Raven and Skull. And it is brilliant.

I am such a fan of old school horror like Dr Terror’s House of Horrors and the Tales from the Crypt comics. This way of publishing an anthology appealed to me and was very much in my thoughts as I started to compile my collection of short stories together.

The stories I was presenting had a much broader thematic. I have stories covering going into space, time travel and the horrific outcome of when apps go wrong in the future. Raven and Skull, while having a lovely variety in its horror stakes, was less out there and thus the leitmotif of everything happening to these employees of the law firm worked exceptionally well. Blood Ink had to pull these very different stories together, hence the creation of Ms Nikita.

She is the mysterious protagonist that links all the stories. A very powerful agent/producer, her story is told by short interludes that bookend each of the tales. Even the writers of the stories are characters in the book, in her story. As each short story is ‘pitched’ to her, we the reader learn more about her true nature. So when it came to setting up a meeting between one of her writing stable, the London based Duncan Brashill, and Ms Nikita, for me there was only one place it could happen, the London offices of Raven and Skull, her legal representatives.

When I thought of this idea I smiled, t made so much sense. When you read Raven and Skull, you realise how evil and twisted this law firm is, and so it really couldn’t be any other firm. So I sent an email to Dr Ashley Lister to ask if I could do this. Remember, by saying yes, he would be placing my agent/producer in the same universe as his law firm. I was delighted with his positive response.

So that’s how it happened, the reason Ms Nikita has a meeting at the London offices of Raven and Skull. Because I liked a book and thought a link between the two other than it is an anthology that holds together like a novel would be cool. That by using this simplest thing like the name of a company, this new universe of horror has expanded and become much more extensive than we envisaged.

Raven and Skull also appear in the next novel from Ashley Lister, Doll House. It is in the background of a street scene and works well to establish the environment of the location. It’s another good read and well worth your time. 

I have started planning a sequel to Blood Ink, mainly because the few that have read it so far have been rather excited about it and have already begun to badgering me for one. So Ms Nikita will be back, and maybe she will frequent the offices of Raven and Skull again. Perhaps she will make an appearance in one of Ashley Lister’s novels, or perhaps both Ms Nikita and Raven and Skull will turn up (as long as permission is sought) in some other works. Wouldn’t it be incredible to see a universe shared by new, exciting horror authors?

Here are the important links:

Raven and Skull

Doll House

Blood Ink