Blood Red Sand
Mars will run red with Nazi blood…
After World War Two, Sergeant McCabe knew the British army could send him anywhere. He never imagined facing down another Nazi threat on Mars.

In New Berlin colony, rivalry between Generalfeldmarschall Seidel’s Wehrmacht and Reichsführer Wagner’s SS threatens bloodshed. The Reichsführer will sacrifice everything to initiate the secretive Hollow Programme and realise his nightmarish future for humanity.

McCabe, Private Jenkins, and the Mars Expeditionary Force must overcome bullet, bomb, and bayonet to destroy the Third Reich. While Jenkins fights to stay alive, McCabe forms an uneasy alliance with MAJESTIC-12 operatives known as the Black Visors. Will this be the final battle of World War Two or the first confrontation in an interstellar war?

Mars Occupation Force – Press Office

21 May 2023


I had the pleasure of attending the launch of We Stand With Ukraine on the 3rd of May. The event took place in Hodges Figgis bookshop in Dublin, and it was fantastic to see so many people gathered to support it.

We Stand With Ukraine is an anthology of poems and prose written by protesters who’ve picketed the Russian embassy here in Dublin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. What struck me most was that these were all ordinary people. All with different backgrounds, walks of life, and professions. One thing bound them all. From the moment they heard about the invasion, they wanted to do something.

Without any organisation or central leadership, ordinary people banded together to amplify the voices of Ukrainian civilians. Regardless of the weather, they engaged in peaceful protest outside the Russian embassy. They may not have been able to influence the outcome of such an unjust and cruel war, but they were determined it will never be forgotten.

The anthology came about as a suggestion from my good friend, writer, poet, and protester Helen Dwyer. She wanted to document the thoughts and outlooks of such a diverse group of people, to better understand why they were there and what they hoped to achieve. After some discussions, most of the protesters signed on to write a little bit about their experiences. One goal drove them. All proceeds and royalties from book sales of We Stand With Ukraine, go to Ukrainian Action, a registered non-profit organisation built to get much needed funds to Ukrainian civilians in need.

The book launch was a moving event. Protesters read excerpts of their work and spoke of their heartbreak at the suffering of so many civilians. Members of the Ukrainian community in Ireland spoke of the horror inflicted on their country and thanked everyone who refused to remain silent and continued speak out against the crimes of the Russian war machine.

I’m still reading the anthology. What I have read is a powerful account of people shocked by the invasion who are determined to exercise their democratic right to protest. There’s a clear distinction between the corrupt leadership of the Russian Federation and the Russian people, who don’t even have the right to speak out against the war without suffering criminal charges.
There’s hope, too. Optimism that Ukraine will prevail, this horrible war will end, and tyranny will be brought down, as it has been so many times in the past.

We Stand with Ukraine is available now for Mercier Press and all good bookshops:
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03 April 2023


Hey there! I know what you’re thinking… it’s been a while, right? Close to three years since I last typed up a blog post. It’s something as a writer I know I need to get better at. The challenge for me is stepping away from a writing project and typing up a few hundred words on what I’ve been up to. I’d rather write eight thousand words in my WIP than eight hundred talking about it! But anyways… here goes…

If you’ve been keeping tabs of my adventures via social media (links below if you’re not), the last few years have been hectic, to say the least. Following the release of Blood Red Sand, I switched focus to two projects that had been rolling around in my brain for quite a while.

The first one was The Truceless War, a sci-fi retelling of the First Punic War between the Romans and Carthaginians. This is where my love of history took a hold, as I read history books for fun. The First Punic War isn’t as widely recorded as the much more well known second one (Hannibal Barca crossing the Alps with elephants etc). There were only four recorded pitched battles in twenty-three years.

Most of the action took place as skirmishes, ambushes, sieges, and naval battles which I adhered to for The Truceless War (excluding some creative licence). Imagine the above with high-powered lasers, energy shields, massive war machines, artillery, jet bombers, and my trademark blood and guts style of writing.

Split between four POV characters, The Truceless War explores a galaxy colonised by humans on the verge of war. The newly united Romaii Republic casts its envious gaze on the riches of the Punic Trade Empire and gears up for an invasion of the planet Sicilia. Caught up in the ensuing battle, young Amilcara Barca witnesses her mother’s brutal murder. For the next two decades, she forges herself into a warrior and political leader, determined to seek revenge and make the Romaii invaders pay.

My next project was Lizard Skin and Sharpened Steel. This one is a sword and shields fantasy set in a medieval world where dinosaurs exist on an isolated continent known as ‘the landmass.’ The Dead Mudder mercenary legion are dispatched by the Hipernian king to locate and retrieve the eggs of one of the most feared native beasts the kingjaws.

Aided by a young native woman named Boy and her surrogate father known only as Sir, mercenary leader Dustn must lead his soldiers into uncharted jungles. Despite their battlefield experience, the Dead Mudders suffer horrendous casualties facing the killer beasts that stalk the landmass and risk everything to satisfy a king’s whim.

Both projects are edited, polished, and good to go, so I’m aiming to self-publish them either later this year or early 2024. For the most part, it’s just a matter of time, something I don’t have in abundance between a full-time job, a full-time family and of course, my non-stop writing projects. If I can force myself to stay committed to blog updates, hopefully I’ll have more news on these over the coming weeks/months as I’m eager to get them out there.

Next up, we have Sky Breaker: Tales of the Wanderer. This was an anthology crafted between me and some of the rising stars of the Irish and UK indie writing scene. I had a lot of fun sitting down and chatting with so many talented writers. Together, we built a shared fantasy world across different eras and technology levels. Every story is bound together by strange rifts and tears in the fabric of reality and a mysterious copper-eyed character called the Wanderer.

My short story for this was The Righteous Old Guard, a brutal military fantasy which centred on a bunch of elderly religious zealots who massacre their own young people they believe to have fallen under the Wanderer’s spell. In a bid to exterminate the rift, they battle into the heart of the Wanderer’s camp and attempt to destroy it with a large quantity of explosives. There’s something for everyone in this anthology, so if you’re into a variety of fantasy sub-genre short stories, check it out.

Blood Red Steel (the third book in my Big Red series) is due out on 3rd October of this year and I’m looking forward to sharing it. Set two years after the events of Blood Red Sand, we’re once again reunited with the beleaguered Second Battalion who are faced with one final mission. Defend Forward Base Zulu at all costs. So far, I’ve gotten some great feedback from ARC readers, so I can’t wait to see what fans of the series think!

Last of all, I’ve finally finished work on the long-awaited Born Red, fourth book in the series and direct sequel to Big Red. If you’ve caught any of my interviews, panels, or podcasts over the last three years, I’ve been teasing this one for a while. I’ve gone through six different drafts, constantly tweaking the story until I was one hundred percent satisfied. I’m glad to say, I’ve reached that point, so now it’s off to my publisher!

Overall, it’s been a productive few years and I’ve no plans to stop anytime soon. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with me. More updates to follow!

- DL

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Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction and fantasy author. His military sci-fi novels Big Red and Blood Red Sand were longlisted for BSFA awards. He served for seven years in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces and lives in Dublin, Ireland.


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18 May 2021

A short story from Owen Quinn: Cross Dresser Zombie

I'm joined again today by Owen Quinn author of The Time Warriors and Zombie Blues series. He's sharing a short story from his first book Zombie Blues entitled Cross Dresser Zombie. Check it out!

The day the zombies rose will be remembered for just that; the rise of the
But for me, it was the day I could shed my skin and be the person I had
always wanted to be for the entire world to see. Just like everything else
in my life, the timing sucked.
Now my undead ass is walking the city without even the dignity of the
heels I had chosen. My left shoe is missing while the right one seems
stuck on with its broken heel. I think my ankle is twisted though or I have
a cracked toe. Now when I walk, all 6 foot of my bulky frame is up and
down like an Amsterdam tart. Add to that my wig is twisted on my head
so the right side of my face has a permanent auburn covering, I look like
Frankenstein’s frigging granny. Instead of becoming a butterfly, I became
something that was slapped up the face with a frying pan.

But I digress. Let me start at the beginning which also became my end.
First up, my name is Frank Malone, resident of Belfast all my life. I have
never married but shagged my way round the town. I came close a couple
of times but never bothered. I play darts, love a pint and the craic with the
lads. I’m a cage fighter and charity worker. I’ve a hard man rep, afraid of
no one and would knock the bollocks clean out of anyone that looked at
me the wrong way. When people look at me they see the black leather
jacket, baldy head and the gold chains. They see a hardman.

But when I look in the mirror I see someone else entirely. No one knows,
no one has ever even suspected, not even my ma, and she’s sharp as a pin.
At forty six, it’s not a big deal these days but it reduces me to jelly to
think if anyone found out.
I like wearing women’s clothes. Simple as that.

Maybe I’ve always been this way. I’m not gay nor have any intentions of
getting the three piece out and a gas oven put in. I like shagging but the
feel of those clothes on my body just makes me so content. When I look
at myself in the mirror in full get up, it’s my world. Problem is, that world
has never left my bedroom or mouth. My ma stays out of my room
because I bung her the money for bingo 4 times a week so I can become
Majella. Those times when she isn’t there are heaven and I can try
different outfits without fear of her walking in. Other people’s privacy is
not a priority for my ma as most of you will probably identify with when
it comes to mothers.

I’m not sure when it became part of me but it was always there. I never
looked at my ma’s catalogue in the same way as she did. I flicked through
the women’s section and wondered what it would feel like to be dressed
as they were. It looked so elegant and comfortable that I yearned for it.
But my body didn’t exactly shout model material. I was bald, hairy chest
and back and caught between muscle and sagginess in the waist area.
The first time I remember putting on a pair of knickers was when I was
shagging Fiona Fisher when I was seventeen. I was staying at her place
and been dating for a few months. As I said, I’m not gay. I love sex with
women and Fiona was a goer. She would lick my bald head when she got
excited and all I could picture was her slipping a wig on my bonnet.

Anyway, I got up for a piss and was standing there trying to hit the side
of the bowl so she couldn’t hear the crash of urine on water. (It sounds
louder somehow at three in the morning.)
As I washed my hands, I saw knickers and a bra drying on the

My heart raced. My breathing quickened. The compulsion was too much.
I had to do it. Trembling, I slipped her knickers on first and stared at
myself in the mirror barely containing my excitement. They were far too
small but it felt right. It felt normal to me. I slipped on her bra next even
though it didn’t fit and couldn’t believe the rush I felt. This was what I
had been missing all my life.

Quickly and reluctantly I put them back on the radiator as I found them
and was so turned on I went back into the bed and woke her up for
another round.

It was easier after that. I could go into shops and pretend I was buying for
the girlfriend but all six foot of bulky me couldn’t wait to get home and
try them on. I even started going to the gym to slim down. My secret
stash grew quickly but lived in the back of the wardrobe. But I couldn’t
bring myself to go public for fear of shame and ridicule. The image of
people laughing and sniggering behind your back was far more terrifying
than any cage fighter. It would be worse for my ma. Those witches in the
bingo hall loved nothing more than to gossip and ridicule people.

I almost told Fiona but finished with her instead. I couldn’t afford anyone
finding out. Like a teenager discovering masturbation, Majella stayed a
bedroom secret behind a locked door.
But it was like a pressure cooker inside me, bursting to get out. I wanted
nothing more than to walk down the street and show the world who I
really was. So I decided to do exactly that. It only took me twenty plus
odd years.
The day was planned to the last detail like something out of Mission
Impossible. Nothing was left to chance, all avenues were thought of.
Outfit was chosen, makeup packed and it was all systems go.
The big day began in the changing rooms of a well known clothing store.
I went into the men’s changing rooms. My heart was racing as I opened
my bag. This was it.

All I could think about was the throngs of people I walked through to get
here. Would they notice or would I melt into the crowds? But in the end it
didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that Majella was about to go public.

I ran a hand over the outfit I’d chosen feeling elated. It was a red jacket
with open neck white blouse with knee length skirt to match. Black
stockings with a shiny black pair of heels completed it. A necklace with a
thin gold chain rounded it off nicely as I applied my make up.

I remember staring in the mirror, heart pumping as I began to strip. Piece
by piece, Majella formed right in front of me and when I bowed my head
to put my wig on, I paused. I shut my eyes before raising my head. I
nervously opened them, slower than I should have and looked in the
mirror. I couldn’t have been happier as I looked myself up and down. I
never looked better even if I did say so myself. I let out a deep breath, not
and realizing I was holding my breath fearfully. What if I didn’t like what
I saw? What if I really was the freak I thought people would see me as? I
was delighted to see I wasn’t.

Suddenly there was a searing pain in my calf. Half in shock and half in
horror, I let out a scream of pain and swore like a trooper in a most
unladylike fashion. As I stumbled, I saw some bitch on her front had
crawled under the curtain and took a chunk out of my leg. She was little
more than a teenager dressed like a chav. I fell back trying to shake her
off but the cramped cubicle left me bouncing of the mirrored wall instead
cracking it with the impact.

Inhuman eyes looked at me as she drooled and snapped trying to chew on
me some more. Blood was smeared around her thin lips. I don’t know
whether it was fear or adrenalin or what but I somehow managed to kick
her in the face which for my size and cramped space was a bloody
miracle. I kicked for all my worth, my stiletto sinking into the cow’s
skull. Blood spurted everywhere from her head and my leg. I saw her
gasp and slump forward before I passed out too.

I don’t know how long had passed but when I came too, it was like
waking from the hangover from hell. My tongue felt like a shrivelled
sausage roll and I could only make guttural noises. I thought to myself
that’s weird as I struggled to my half shoeless feet. I felt shaky at best and
lurched from the changing cubicle almost tripping over the corpse with
the stiletto hat. Bitch, I thought to myself. My mind was fuzzy, strange
urges filling it, propelling me towards the exit. Part of me was saying to
get my heels on to complete my outfit but I was moving out of hunger. I
barely noticed the shop was wrecked and blood stained the floors and
walls. All I knew was I could smell human flesh and how like chicken it
seemed. I needed it, I craved it and there was nothing I wouldn’t do to
have it.

A myriad of questions flashed through my mind. Where were the
shoppers? Why wasn’t I being noticed? A six foot man in women’s
clothes should have drawn curt sniggers and hidden laughs even in this
day and age and yet…nothing. There was fire and screaming. There was
whimpering and munching. The street was a canvas of fear and chaos and
here I was, now in full Majella mode, lurching amid it like a virgin in a
whore house.

I felt like crying. This was supposed to be my big day, my coming out.
This was the day when the world would meet Majella and my secret life
would shred away like cobwebs in the wind. It was supposed to be red
carpet and fireworks, a statement that I had a rightful place in the world
where I didn’t have to hide in shadows or run from phobic narrow
minded attacks.

I was Majella, ready or not, here I come bitches!
But instead I went unnoticed, just another shoddy figure amid the other
bloody shuffling shoddy figures, all driven by the need for chicken.
Instead of shouting from the rooftops, all I could do was gurgle like those
off the telly. My outfit is ruined by the way which I ain’t happy about and
my tights are laddered like nobody’s business. The event that was to be
Majella has been reduced to nothing special. All I can think about apart
from chicken, is I should have had the balls to come out as Majella years
before. All my fears of being ridiculed and shamed because I wanted to
wear women’s clothes were dust now. They seemed pointless, a curse
that kept me from being who I truly was. How ironic that now as a
zombie, I can finally walk the streets as I always wanted to.

And not one person can ever take notice. I’m just ordinary Joe/Majella
Bloggs. I’m just a rotting hulk of regret now, trapped in this body until all
the chicken in the world has been eaten.

If by some miracle, humans survive, I really hope the new generation
learn to grab life by the horns and just go with it. Do what you want today
kids: don’t let anyone stop you. Fear of other people’s opinions kept me
back and now here I am – cross dressing zombie. Don’t be like me: live
life. Stand up and shout to the world that this is who you are. Savour
every moment before all the chicken runs out.
So if you ever see a zombie, don’t look at us just as the undead. We’re
not, well we are but we’re people too inside afflicted by this condition,
helpless at what we do because of a trick of nature.
And I suppose that if you read all our stories, you’ll see there’s a very real
truth to life: never judge by appearances and live for today.
Maybe some good will come out of this. Maybe the apocalypse will wake
people up and live as they should. Perhaps some day the new generation
of mankind will be open to people like me who don’t have to live in the
shadows. If that day truly comes, then living like this will be a small price to pay.

Owen Quinn is a resident of Northern Ireland and has been a lifelong science fiction and horror fan. He is a keen photographer from an early age. `His desire to write for his favourite show Doctor Who at the age of fifteen led to the birth of the Time Warriors series. He is the creator of both the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues books.

Story from Zombie Blues Volume 1 available here at
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