Monday, December 30, 2013



Herbert Marshman Pettigrew

Owner, Reale Pictures Inc.


All Departments

It is with great happiness and satisfaction that I am able to announce that we will be re-opening production on A Woman in the City. All departments are to return to work immediately. Please see your supervisors for assignments and our restructured timetable.

We have successfully concluded our dealings with the restaurant and settled on the damages to be paid to the establishment. We regret the unfortunate circumstances that led to this situation, but they were wholly unforeseen by myself and the company’s officers. I wish I could offer a rational explanation as to what was witnessed on that strange and inexplicable day, but I find myself fallen woefully short on that score.

Regardless, Reale Pictures is poised to move forward into a bright future and to put the entire debacle behind us. If anyone in any department is approached by or receives any communication of any sort from the two persons involved in the disruption of filming at the restaurant, please inform myself or Mr. Gayme without delay.

I would also like to express our regret at the loss of Mr. Ashton Clark as Director on A Woman in the City. We have heard that the sanitarium to which he was recently admitted is a pleasant place and we hope that it will serve to soothe his troubled mind and that he will return to us for future productions. We will be announcing his replacement shortly.

Also, I require the Print Department to please forward all existing, developed footage from A Woman in the City to my office, along with a projector.

Yours Truly,

H. M. Pettigrew

You may read all about this troubled motion picture company and their encounter with the Unknown in the upcoming SGT. JANUS RETURNS, out soon from Airship 27 Productions. In the meantime, please consider ordering a copy of the first volume in the Janus series, SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, at AMAZON.COM.

All content and characters © Jim Beard 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Most everyone who knows of my Sgt. Janus by now knows that he wouldn't exist if not for William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost-Finder. First published over one-hundred years ago, Carnacki's adventures into the Unknown inspired Janus' own crusade against spirits that vex the living. It's difficult to explain in mere words the debt of gratitude I owe to Mr. Hodgson and his inventive hero.

When earlier this year I saw a call for Carnacki submissions for a new volume of adventures - to be published by "Sargasso Sam" Gafford himself, a Hodgson Scholar - I grew fearful of even attempting such a thing. What thing, you ask? Writing a new story concerning a character on who I'd placed so much weight and importance to my own meager attempts to emulate, a situation that eventually I got over and finally made the plunge into Carnacki's dark world of haunts and the haunted. And I'm pretty happy with the results.

My story, "The Haunting of Tranquil House," is now ready for consumption, along with several other and potentially better tales, in CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES. As Michael Nesmith once said, rush out in a buying frenzy and make this new volume a success for Sam. Here's where you can pick up a copy: AMAZON.COM.

And please, gives us review when you've finished, eh? Writers cannot write in a vacuum.

Look for SGT. JANUS RETURNS to join this new book on the shelves very soon, too.

Friday, December 20, 2013


SGT. JANUS RETURNS, the second volume of the adventures of Sgt. Janus Spirit-Breaker, will be arriving soon. It will pick up from the ominous ending of the first volume and detail the long path to recovery for the Spirit-Breaker, featuring all-new cases and new characters that enhance and expand upon Janus' world.

It begins in the small, sleepy town of Canal Chichester. What role does the town and one of its less-than-stellar citizens play in the return of Janus? How are its deeply-buried secrets important to the Spirit-Breaker's newest investigations? And why are the officials of Canal Chichester eager to pass judgment on those persons deemed too strange and alien?

The answers lie in SGT. JANUS RETURNS, out soon. Keep your spirits up 'til then!

To catch up on the first volume, SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, please order a copy on AMAZON.COM, in print or Kindle editions.

All content (c)2013 Jim Beard

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Very Janus Christmas Carol

The breakfast table is not the best place to have a discussion about spirits, perhaps, but I’d been perusing the library again and after a pleasant hour or so with a holiday classic, I had a burning question on my mind.

“Did Dickens have it right?” I inquired, stabbing at the air with a glob of preserves on my knife for emphasis.

My companion looked up at me from across the table. “Beg pardon? Did he have what right?”

“The Ghosts, of course. Past, Present, Future, all that. They hardly seem the sort we’ve encountered – was he being fanciful? Or are there such higher forms of spirits?”

“Let’s just say that Mr. Dickens had a way with words and leave it at that.”

Undeterred, I forged ahead. “No, I mean it: are there spirits like the ones he described? His seem almost a force unto themselves, hardly the type to have had previous mortal lives.”

That one took hold and my companion eyed me with some minor annoyance.

No, or at least not in my experience. What the man told of in his overly-sentimental bit of tripe were akin to angels or heavenly servants than true ghosts – that is, the spirits of human dead. I wouldn’t trust Dickens for honest reporting; it’s likely there was more absinthe to them than ectoplasm.”

I thought I had already experienced much in my young life, but coming across someone who actually did not care for A Christmas Carol was a startling revelation to me – especially over breakfast.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I pressed on.

“Than we are only to credit Jacob Marley then?”

“Yes, actually,” admitted my companion. “That is a fairly good fictional representation of a true spirit, which you should well know by now. The amount of chains was a bit much, but the suffering appearance and the wailing – not to mention the warning of post-death punishment – are all within reason.”

I smiled. “Then God bless us everyone, Dickens isn’t a complete waste.”

“No, in fact, as a sleeping draught I find him very effective.”

Well, very little can drain me of the Christmas spirit, but my companion gave it the old college try. I sat quietly for a moment or three, rallying my forces and aligning my final salvo.

“If you had to say,” I asked carefully, “whether or not a man like Scrooge could ever do enough in life to save him from the yawning pits of Hell in the afterlife, how might you opine?”

Incredibly enough, I was met with eyes not shooting daggers, but with an odd wistfulness that belied the early part of the conversation.

“There your writer does impart some small, valuable nuggets of wisdom,” came the reply in even tones. “The lesson of Ebenezer Scrooge is that we may indeed atone for much before the grave, and help to insure an eternal rest with the Creator after.”

Satisfied that we had come full circle and that Charles Dickens’ legacy remained intact, I returned to my breakfast with gusto.

“Merry Christmas,” I whispered around bites of biscuit.

“Might I suggest,” offered my companion just then, “that you also pose the same question to our guest?”


“Yes, the one standing right there at your elbow. Go on, ask him.”

“Oh, come now! I haven’t finished my breakfast!”

All content (c)Jim Beard 2013.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Janus on Kindle!

To us old-schoolers, an e-book seems more like a ghost of book than a real book...

...which perhaps makes it appropriate that at long last, SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER is now available for the Kindle at

It's also a nice way to celebrate the impending arrival of the second volume, SGT. JANUS RETURNS.

Tell a friend - and keep your spirits up!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Spirit is Willing...

…but the new Sgt. Janus book isn’t quite ready yet.

Things are proceeding nicely on it, though, with the entire manuscript by Yours Truly done, as well as the interior illustrations by Zach Brunner. Now it’s down to our dear friend artist Jeff Herndon to whip up another winner of a cover and we’re off to the spirit races. Stay tuned, Janus Junkies; as soon as there’s more word of SGT. JANUS RETURN’s imminent arrival, I’ll be passing it along. As I’ve said before, the book is somewhat different from the first volume, and completes the story of what I’ve come to think of “Phase One” of Roman Janus’ strange career. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

Here’s another cool bit o’ news: I’ve been asked to contribute a Sgt. Janus story to an upcoming collection of “occult detective” tales from Airship 27, publishers of, yes, SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER. I offered to expand and expound upon “The Lost Wife of Thomas Tan,” which I serialized right here on the Spirit-Blog. Now, this is not going to be just a slight revision – basically, the story as you know it will almost double in length and illuminate far more details of Thomas Tan’s plight. Stay tuned for more word on this one, too.

And…with all this talk of Janus swirling about, I can’t help but start dreaming up the plot of the third full volume of the sergeant’s adventures. It’s tentatively titled SGT. JANUS: ON THE DARK TRACK and it places Our Hero in another new environment, one I’m full steam ahead on with excitement. Look for it sometime in 2014…

That’s all for now, chums – keep your spirits up!

All content © Jim Beard 2014. Order a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER on

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


If you know of Sgt. Janus then you’re probably aware that he was directly inspired by William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki stories. That’s why I was thrilled to hear that author/editor Sam Gafford has assembled a tribute to the author, SARGASSO, the first volume in what’s being called “The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies.”

Gafford is to be complimented on what he's crafted here, a professional collection of essays and fiction focused upon furthering the cause of Hodgson illumination. Much of the volume’s entries bemoan the fact that the author is not better known, but I believe that SARGASSO will definitely move us toward that “sweet spot” of wider popularity.

It should be also noted that the book/periodical also highlights H.P. Lovecraft as well as Hodgson, sometimes to the latter’s loss, and that all entries are not equal in readability, but overall I can recommend SARGASSO to anyone who admires either author or simply loves Edwardian fantasy literary criticism.

Being who I am, I gravitated toward the two fiction pieces in the collection first. William Meikle’s Carnacki ode, “The Blue Egg,” deftly combines the Ghost Finder with another of Hodgson’s recurring characters, Captain Gault; the result is mysterious and exotic, everything a tale of the two titans should be. I wasn’t as terribly fond of Pierre Comtois’ “A Question of Meaning,” which seems to be a mash-up between Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and Hodgson’s Nightland epic; it begins well and involves some interesting characters, but the end came too quickly and left me unsatisfied.

John D, Haeffele’s essay is a good look at Lovecraft’s opinion on Hodgson’s work – he was an admirer – and Mark Valentine’s run-down of the Captain Gault stories was very welcome to me, not having yet read those tales. That essay alone made me want to rush out and correct that error. Leigh Blackmore’s discussion of terms used in two Carnacki stories was also fascinating, but I would have preferred a bit more his own opinions in lieu of the full outlines of the stories themselves. “William Hope Hodgson’s Sales Log” surprised me as to how interesting such a thing could be – here’s hoping Jane Frank can tell us more in the future. As it is, the article was almost a cliff-hanger.

Brett Davidson’s and Neal Ann Spurlock’s works will be of interest to those who want a deeper glimpse into weightier meaning behind Hodgson’s writing, but for me, they kind of made my head hurt in their depth. That’s just me, of course, being the more superficial non-fiction reader that I am. And while I’m sure Phillip Ellis’ treatise on Hodgson’s poetry is superb, poetry itself has always left me cold, no matter the poet. Again, I can’t criticize an essayist for choosing a subject that’s just not my cup of tea – it’s a brew to the liking of many others, assuredly. Emily Alder’s piece on Hodgson’s penchant for the sea was good, drawing similarities between his Nightland work and his sea fiction.

The book’s interior artwork is very nice and appropriately atmospheric – I would have liked to have seen some of them printed larger – and the beautiful swirl of colors that is SARGASSO’s cover is striking and effective. Gafford will be hard-pressed to top that one with subsequent issues.

And that’s the real question here: will there be more of SARGASSO? I certainly hope so. It’s a worthy project to bring greater attention to a worthy author. Lovecraft’s had his time; let W.H. Hodgson step into the limelight for a change.

Please consider ordering a copy of SARGASSO; I think you’ll find it worthwhile for many different reasons. Send an inquiry to for more information, and tell them Sgt. Janus sent you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Spirited Return

It is with great pride – and great relief – that I can announce that the manuscript for SGT. JANUS RETURNS has been completed and handed in to the fine folks at Airship 27 Productions.

The book is eight stories, as was the first volume, but with more extensive linkage between them, forming what is basically a full novel. As I’ve noted before, SGT. JANUS RETURNS is different in important ways from SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER and I hope you may embrace it as you have the first book. I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear what you think.

I’m very blessed to once again have the unequaled Jeff Herndon illustrating the cover once more and very pleased to welcome the talented Zach Brunner as our new interior illustrator. I couldn’t ask for a better team of visualizers.

I’ll update as soon as possible as to when the book will be out, but for now I’ll leave you with the full list of story titles:

1. Dig Deep the Well

2. That Man Right There

3. Cutting the Strings

4. The Whispering Wallpaper of Christmas Hall

5. Marching to Perdition

6. Deus Lapidem

7. Just Like Jazz

8. The Room

Until we talk again, keep your spirits up!

All content (c)2013 Jim Beard

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Who's That Girl?

This mysterious beauty appears in SGT. JANUS RETURNS, out later this year from Airship 27 Productions.

Who is she? Where is she from? And what role will she play in Sgt. Janus' new adventures?

Stay tuned, Spirit-Breaker fans - the best is yet to come!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sgt. Janus Wants to Hear from You...with Spirit!

So, as SGT. JANUS RETURNS takes shape and some of his dark and mysterious origins begin to crystalize, I have a few questions for all you Junior Spirit-Breakers out there. If you would, either drop me a comment here on the Spirit-Blog or wherever you saw the link to this post.

Deal? I promise that your comments will prove very helpful to me as I move forward with the the new book.

1) What aspects of Janus' past are you most interested in learning about in SGT. JANUS RETURNS and why?

2) Would you say that learning anything at all about his past will make you enjoy his stories more, less, or about the same?

3) Do you enjoy ghost stories with benign spirits? Or do you like your ghosts adversarial?

Okay, that's all I got! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SGT. JANUS RETURNS Materializing

The new Sgt. Janus collection, SGT. JANUS RETURNS, is really beginning to take shape. I'm in the middle of writing the third of the eight new stories and enjoying the new set-up - this is different in some ways from the first book but still very much in the Janus tradition of ghost tales with a pulpy punch. Though the status quo was most definitely upset by the end of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER, the new book will follow a path to setting that status to right and opening the door for many more Janus adventures in the years to come.

By the way, the third story is called "Cutting the Strings." It joins "Dig Deep the Well" and "That Man Right There."


Saturday, January 12, 2013


A wee tiny excerpt from "Dig Deep the Well," the first story in SGT. JANUS RETURNS, to be published later this year by Airship 27 Productions:

"Across from her, over the hole and suffused with a queer light, was a man.

"I rubbed at my eyes – you know, like someone who cannot believe their own eyes is supposed to do. I looked again.

"It wasn’t a man, as I first thought. It was more like the…the absence of a man. A man-shaped cut-out through which I was peering. I couldn’t comprehend it; it hurt my eyes. Then, its edges blurred and wavered, like the rays of heat on a blistering day will distort the landscape. It hovered above the area that I had dug up, wafting as if in a breeze that the rest of us could not feel."

All content (c)2013 Jim Beard

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Day: First Janus

The title of the first new Sgt. Janus story for the second book?

"Dig Deep the Well"

Stay tuned, Spirit-Breaker Fans - the best is yet to come.


All content (c)Jim Beard 2013. Please pick up a copy of SGT. JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER at