Graham Downs is a South African author. He was born in Alberton, in Gauteng, South Africa, and now lives in Germiston with his wife. Aside from being an independent author, he is a computer programmer in Rivonia.
Since publishing his first book (A Petition to Magic) in 2012, he has published four more, including his latest, Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction. This is a collection of six flash fiction stories, ranging from straight-up horror to downright weird.
Although he has always had a passion for writing, it wasn't until December 2012, at the age of 32, that Downs finally decided to unleash his imagination onto the world at large. The result was A Petition to Magic, a short fantasy story about a wizard who cannot perform magic, and a queen who demands his help.
Following on the success of A Petition to Magic, Downs was asked by fellow author Darren Worrow in 2013, to contribute a story to a charity anthology called I am not Frazzle, benefiting the Devizes Community Centre for Children, in the United Kingdom. He eagerly accepted, and penned Stingers, which was included. The anthology was released in December of 2013. (Stingers was released as a stand-alone story on 16 June 2014.)
While I am not Frazzle was being prepared for release, Downs released his second story, Heritage of Deceit, on 1 December 2013. It's a modern day thriller, and tells the story of a man working in an office, who stumbles across what he believes is a relic from an old genocide.
In October 2014, in time for Halloween, Billy's Zombie was released. It is a very short horror story, about a high school boy whom everyone thinks is a freak. In an effort to exact his revenge on his tormentors, he borrows a book on necromancy from the library, which he successfully uses to raise a zombie from the dead.
Wanting to continue his foray into the horror/paranormal genre, he went on to publish Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction in April 2015. This is a collection of six flash fiction stories in the horror/weird fiction genre.
His newest work was released on 1 June 2016. It's called Tales From Virdura, and it continues the Flash Fiction format. However, he decided to revisit his roots, so to speak, as this collection expands upon the world and characters introduced in his first published story, A Petition to Magic
In addition to his published works, Downs has written many free flash fiction stories and essays, in a wide variety of genres. They're all available for free on his blog. You can also find a monthly crossword puzzle there, sometimes with prizes for solving it correctly. Find both his free writing, and the monthly crossword puzzle, by visiting his Blog.
Graham Downs is always working on new stories, in a variety of different genres, and he hopes to go from strength to strength as he releases better and better writing, and his popularity continues to grow.
Where to find Graham Downs online
Where to buy in print
Tales From Virdura
by Graham Downs
Explore Virdura, a world full of fantasy, magic, and drama.
This collection of flash fiction stories will take you deeper into the world of A Petition to Magic, and the lives of the characters who inhabit it.
You'll find out more about old characters and meet new ones. You'll read prequels and origin stories, and you'll read original stories taking place in new locales within the Kingdom
by Graham Downs
Young Billy MacIntyre has always been a weird kid, always taking every little slight to heart.
One day, he decides that he's had enough of the relentless mocking and bullying at school and around town.
He decides to exact his revenge on all those simpletons who have done him wrong. And he does it by taking a book of Necromancy out of the library, and raising a zombie from the dead!
by Graham Downs
Thirteen year old James Clarke is always being picked on in school. He hates sports, and he particularly hates Stingers, a schoolyard game in which children throw tennis balls at each other. The other kids always seem to throw the ball harder, when it's at him.
One day, James' mom phones the school to try and put a stop to the bullying, but it only gets worse.
Heritage of Deceit
by Graham Downs
While surfing the Internet at work, Lloyd believes he's found a relic from an old genocide. If he's right, the artefact would be worth a ton of money, and it will give lots of people closure when they find out what really happened to their families.
A Petition to Magic
by Graham Downs
Queen Celeste rose to the throne of Virdura a month ago, after the sudden death of her mother.
Desperate to prove herself, she agrees to hear the case of a simple farmer who claims a neighbour stole his cow.
To help her in this task, she orders her chief advisor, the royal wizard Solon, to cast a spell and divine the truth for her. Solon, however, is keeping a terrible secret.
Graham Downs' tag cloud
Smashwords book reviews by Graham Downs
on Aug. 23, 2012
I just couldn't get into it, from the second sentence when I wondered who Tom was. I gave up. Sorry.
- If These Walls Could Scream
on Sep. 24, 2012
Very well written, and very vivid. This is the story of a haunted house, once used for ritual sacrifice and serial killings. The story is told from the perspective of the house itself. It's very moving, and there's not a single dull or unimportant word.
Short, at 2300 words, I would consider it more of a poem than a story, though, and I could just imagine it being read on a stage. Awesome!
- Lunara: Seth and Chloe
on Oct. 07, 2012
I found this book through @FreeBookDude on Twitter. When I first read the title, I thought it would be some kind of deep space young adult romance, and I was about to discount it because of that. But I must confess, I judged a book by its cover, and it intrigued me. I like Sci-Fi, but I'd never read one written in my lifetime, and the description on Amazon looked interesting, so I picked it up.
The world that Davenport has created is very well fleshed out and impressive, and the story he has imagined in this book is perfectly believable. Lunara is a mining colony on Earth's moon, under the auspices of a dual-government on man's new home, Mars - since Earth is no longer inhabitable. There's plenty of political intrigue in the story as Lunara is invaded and captured and the lead characters need to find out who is behind the invasion, and why.
It's mostly the characters that let the book down, though. They're kind of bland and uninteresting, and there's not enough to differentiate them. For the most part, they all seem to speak in exactly the same way, and act in exactly the same way. They also seem to all be rather arrogant and easily embarrassed: they "smirk" often, in situations which hardly call for humour, much less arrogant, condescending humour. They're also frequently chagrined - I guess that's a common thing about over-arrogant people; they're easily humiliated. But they don't seem to take anything seriously, and often have time to have long dialogues when the story wants us to believe they could die at any moment.
And then there are the characters' names: Seth and Chloe (obviously), Parker, Jan, Eammon. These are all characters I would expect to find in a typical American college soap-opera. I'm sure this was by design, of course, since I think the book is targeted at American young adults. Still, I found it difficult to take them seriously. And "Jan" was even worse! This is obviously not the author's fault (how would he know?), but where I come from, "Jan" is a man's name, and quite a common one at that! In the story, Jan is wife to Lunara's commander, Ty, and especially in the early stages of the book, I couldn't help but picturing her as a gay Afrikaner! ;-)
The book also contains a noticeable amount of typo's, missing quotation marks, and grammatical errors. These get more numerous towards the end; it's almost as if the author found it difficult to contain his excitement at the prospect of finishing the book!
It wasn't a bad read, though, and I enjoy the setting Davenport has created, so I'll be picking up the next instalment in the series to see if it gets any better.
on Oct. 14, 2012
This short (~ 6000 words) is an interesting take on an all too familiar story. I geeky spacer kid (someone who has been born in space) is bullied by a rough-and-tough jock type, and dies. He returns as a revenant, swearing death and destruction on everyone and everything on the station.
It's well written, beautifully paced, and quite entertaining. There are some errors here and there, but not enough to detract from the story. One of the problems with short stories is that they can often feel too sparse, as if there is more the author should've said. This one doesn't suffer from that problem: Ms Brown jumps in, says everything she needs to say, and leaves.
The ending isn't really to my taste, but I still can't say the story left me wanting anything. All loose ends are tied up nicely; any more would've been too much.
- Spiders & Demons
on Dec. 28, 2012
A story of a someone with a perpetual itch. He's stuck in his own hell, in the middle of a war between hundreds of spiders which crawl all over his body, and his own personal demon which lives in a tattoo on his back.
While I can't agree with the author's interpretation of what's happening to him, I admire him for having the courage to write it down and share it with the world!
- The Happy-Unhappy Bridegroom: a ghost story
on Feb. 23, 2013
A cute little story about a hen-pecked husband. The "ghost story" bit doesn't become apparent until quite late in the tale, and although its well written, the ending is a little abrupt and disappointing.
- The Backward Approach to Ebook Success
on April 13, 2013
While reading this ebook, I had in the back of my mind the fact that I was going to give it a two-star rating. It contained some useful information, but nothing I didn't already know. I felt that the author had a bit of a chip on his shoulder while writing it, and I didn't understand the title.
It got better! Basically, he is saying that you need to build your brand first, offer up some stuff for free, get people to know you, and then only consider publishing your first book for a fee. It's got some useful links to surveys and the terms and conditions of the various online ebook retailer sites, with explanations of how to interpret them.
Ted Summerfield speaks candidly about his experiences with publishing and selling his ebooks, and building his brand. He sets expectations for aspiring authors looking to make their millions overnight, and offers a fine introduction into the world in which we're all still exploring.
It's not a great read, but it's not terrible either. I have to say, I liked it!
- The Court of the Spider Queen
on April 21, 2013
The Court of the Spider Queen is a sweet little adventure story. The humour is quite dry, and while it made me smile from time to time, it's not THAT funny. I did really enjoy the story, though, and I love the way the author vaults you straight into the action! I'll be looking out for the next instalment.
- The Key to Erebus
on June 09, 2013
This book was okay. The language was distracting, and it was tough to read at times. I was tempted to abandon it a few times, but the story was just good enough that I really wanted to see how it turned out. There's a bit of a surprising twist at the end, but not enough to detract from the otherwise quite predictable tale.
It's set in France, in modern times. That was cute, but I feel much of the French wasn't adequately explained. The narrative is also very melodramatic - it's written in the first person, but I honestly feel that's no excuse for the excessive editorialising that goes on. And it's not even consistent, either. This is supposed to be a world where the characters still believe in the old gods, yet these same characters often invoke the various names of the one Christian God in vain. Totally unnecessary, I felt.
As to the punctuation, there are missing commas all over the place, and not a semicolon in sight. There are plenty of places where I think they are sorely missed!
All in all, an okay story, but not one I'd recommend. There's apparently a second book coming in the series, but I don't think I'll be reading it.
- Secrets to a Great Author Biography
on July 11, 2013
This howto certainly jumps straight into it! There's no introduction to what you're about to learn, or why it's important. It's an information dump: "this is what you need to do." Period. There are very few non-obvious things to think about, but mostly it's a wall of text that culminates in an advertisement for Fireblade Publishing, and that advertisement is as long as the content leading up to it!
- Dangerous Voices
on Sep. 04, 2013
This is a really entertaining little story about a man who is a "music mage" (makes magic with his song). He's been imprisoned for a really long time, and doesn't sing for fear of his guards killing him (a not unfounded fear).
It took a couple pages to really get into the story, to figure out what was going on, but once that happened I became truly and deeply invested in his fate, and the fate of a companion that he acquires early on.
The writing is awesome, and the ending is stunning. If you can spare thirty minutes or so to read it, do!
on Nov. 14, 2013
An interesting story about a man who goes skydiving at the behest of his wife. Things (naturally) don't go according to plan, and the ending was satisfying.
It took a long time to get to that ending though, during which time the narrative droned on and on. The story could have been told in a lot fewer words!
- Five Rows Back: A Short Story
on Nov. 21, 2013
I really enjoyed this little story of a girl who suffers from (presumably) OCD. She is obsessed with, and consequently stalks, a man on a bus, and everything she does has to be in a number divisible by five.
Why she's stalking the man is surprising, and the ending is very good. This is a well written book that really gave me pause and made me think.
- Blood and Justice
on Dec. 28, 2013
A pretty good story about a Dexter (the serial killer)-type character who kills people who've committed crimes, and in his mind, deserve to die. In the beginning of the story, he inadvertently kidnaps a girl and doesn't know what to do with her. The police, with the help of a couple of private detectives, have to find the girl and solve the murders.
We know exactly who did it pretty early on, although we find out the reasons why as the story progresses. The authorities are clueless, though, and it's fun to watch them try to catch up to what the reader already knows.
There are a few inconsistencies in the narrative. In one chapter, a crucial character lives in apartment 2B. In another, the same character lives in 3B. In one chapter, the housekeeper is a Latino woman; in another, that same housekeeper is Asian. In the introduction to one of the chapters, the time is given as "PM", but from the first paragraph, it's clear that this is in the morning, and the author meant to say "AM".
At a press conference, I couldn't make myself believe that a police detective, briefing a crowd of journalists, with his police chief listening in, would refer to the FBI as "the feds". And come to think of it, we hear that "the feds" have been brought in on the case, but we never see a fed after that, almost as though the author forgot that he'd said that.
There are also missing quotation marks at times, which makes the reader wonder if a character said a particular thing out loud or just thought it, but in the next sentence, it's obvious he said it out loud.
All these things are enough to yank me out of the story and put a significant dent in my suspension of disbelief.
The story itself I enjoyed, however. I read the synopsis of the next one in the series. I think I might just pick it up and give it a read!
- A World of Terror
on Oct. 30, 2014
For the most part, I enjoyed this book far better than A World of Possibility, the first book in the series of anthologies by ASMSG Authors.
I found the stories to be generally well-written, the plots were good, and some of them were even quite funny. They were also all quite short, something I really like in a collection of stories. Some of the stories suffered from minor grammatical errors, inconsistent tenses, stuff like that, but not enough to detract from the stories themselves.
My only serious complaint is, like the aforementioned book, the Table of Contents is non-existent. There's a beginning and a midpoint (which I know from experience is what Smashwords generates, when the formatters neglect to put a proper TOC in). This made it impossible for me to go back to individual stories that I liked, to find out who the author is, and also for me to judge how many pages/screens I had left in each story as I was reading, which is important for me when I'm planning my reading sessions.
It's something that could've been put in very easily, but it's a glaring oversight that it's not there. And it really doesn't help the authors. I hope they fix it in a later edition (which are really easy to upload in today's world of e-books).
on Dec. 02, 2014
This is quite an intriguing story, about a guy who works for a company that manufactures virtual people, for real people to fall in love with. I found the concept pretty good, and the direction that the author takes the story in, and the ending, quite surprising (although the ending was a bit abrupt, and left me wanting more).
The problem with this book is that the back matter is longer than the story itself! It goes into great detail about the author, his publishing company, and his other books, which just felt like one long advert. This back-matter also had the same typo over and over again ("Get if free wherever good e-books are sold"), which tells me there was a lot of copying and pasting going on.
I now know more about the author than I think I ever could have wanted, and although this particular story was good, I know enough about him to not want to read any of his other work (which is probably a good thing, as you really don't want readers who don't "fit" well with your own tastes).
- Secrets of a Noble Key Keeper
on May 12, 2015
This book brought me right back to my childhood. It's a good old fashioned fairy tale, with big bad wolves, pirates and swashbuckling, bears, and little girls running around the forest with red riding hoods on.
It's a chapter book, but each chapter is reasonably short, and upon reflection, I think it would be a perfect story for parents of young kids to read to them at bedtime, or for slightly older kids to read themselves.
I had some extremely minor issues with it, and it didn't exactly hold my attention a hundred percent of the time, but for what it claims to be (A fairy tale), I does its job perfectly!
- Promoting Your Book on Facebook & Twitter Second Edition
on Sep. 28, 2015
For the first couple of pages, I was pretty "meh" about this book. The basics consist of things that most of us already know, and are implementing. I was ready to give the book two stars ("it was okay" on Goodreads).
But THEN, my friends, THEN, the author committed the cardinal sin, by suggesting that the reader use *gasp* Roundteam. This is my biggest bugbear on Twitter - I have a few, but this truly is my biggest. Roundteam is a tool that lets you automatically retweet the tweets of people on your "team" (or pretty much whoever you set up).
I do not, EVER, post anything I have not personally, manually, read and deemed appropriate for my followers. I do not, EVER, follow anyone who uses Roundteam, and if I catch someone using Roundteam, I unfollow them immediately because they're obviously not actually reading the content they post - so why should they expect me to?
I'm not alone in my absolute, complete LOATHING of Roundteam, but another of this book's suggestions IS a popular one. It is one that I disagree with, though. Basically, it is that you should unfollow anyone who doesn't follow you back. To me, that's Facebook-thinking. And it's perfectly fine for Facebook, where you're expected to make "Friends" with people. But to me, Twitter is not like that. I follow plenty of people who don't follow me back, and I'm followed by plenty more people whom I don't follow back.
On Twitter, there is no shame in this. If I follow you, it's because you posted something that I found interesting or entertaining. That's not to say that you'll find ME interesting or entertaining in return, and I don't expect you to. If you start posting things that I no longer find interesting or entertaining, and it becomes apparent that one of our interests has changed so that I don't enjoy your tweets anymore, I'll unfollow you.
This book has one thing going for it - it does specifically dissuade people from using TrueTwit validation (another veritable virus app that Twitter should ban outright, just right Roundteam).
Then the book goes and mentions TweetDeck, right at the end. Just one paragraph, mind - saying that it's interesting to see your Twitter stream rolling past in real time, but it's not very useful. Not very useful? I, and millions of other tweeps would disagree - it's arguably THE most non-negotiable, essential tool out there, for a social media manager.
And look, it seems like I'm the very first person to rate this book on Goodreads (okay, there are two reviews ahead of mine on Smashwords). I don't know how many times the book has been downloaded, but his foolproof strategy isn't helping to get reviews, now is it?
on Nov. 20, 2015
It took me a while to get into this book. It starts slowly, and is at times quite confusing. In fact, I was quite a few chapters in before I realised the story was set in the future, and although I do remember it saying, I couldn't tell you what year it was set in.
I'm still not entirely sure what caused the main event of the book. Let's just say that something happened, some kind of experiment went wrong, I think, and now the world is about to get sucked into a black hole. The protagonist and his friends find a way out, though. I'm not entirely sure how that came about either, but never mind, because I will admit that it started getting interesting from that point.
I was a bit frustrated, though, because the version of the e-book that I was reading suffered some formatting issues. First, there was no linked table of contents, which I think is pretty much essential in an e-book, because it's not easy to quickly page forward and see how long you have to go in the current chapter, like you can with a print book. Then, every once in a while (about once per chapter or so), a screen would end in mid sentence, and the next screen would be starting a new paragraph. I don't know why this is, but I doubt it's my e-reader, because I haven't seen this problem before. Thankfully, I was able to deduce from the context (most of the time) what I must've missed.
The ending was okay. There was some deux ex machina, but it wasn't as clichéd as I was expecting. The book in general could have done with some proof-reading and basic editing, though. Incorrectly used words, typos, and punctuation issues are fairly commonplace.
Not a bad story, all-in-all. I just wish it were packaged better.
- A Chip off the Old Block
on Jan. 04, 2016
A weird story about a man from the city who goes to the country to sort out his late grandfather's affairs. Once there, he stumbles upon some paranormal happenings.
This is a comedy, and true to Darren Worrow's style, it's pretty funny. I've read a few of this author's books, and I have to say that his writing takes a bit of getting used to - he breaks a few rules, but at least he's consistent about it.
My only concern is the dialogue. When the residents of the village speak, it's always written in thick dialect, meant to identify them as being a part of a certain region. Not being from that region, myself, it was sometimes difficult to follow what those people were saying. I understand what Mr Worrow was going for, and I think it works... but perhaps it would've been better to write those speeches in "regular" English, and just throw in the occasional word (Like "ewe") to remind us.
Just a thought. Anyway, it's a decent book, and it made me smile. It's definitely for adults, though.
- White Space Van Man The Prequel: Total Fickle
on Jan. 22, 2016
I'd been hearing lots about this White Space Van Man series over the past few years, but I'd never actually read any of it. I didn't even know what a white van man WAS until a few weeks ago when I looked it up on Wikipedia.
Although I knew that the series was already pretty far along, I was hesitant, because I wasn't sure if I'd like it. But when I saw that the author had put up a prequel for free download, I thought "why not?" What better way to get into a series than by reading the prequel, right?
I really liked this one. It's neither deep nor serious, which is a good thing because I've just come off a long, epic read, and I wanted something light. It's quick to read too, and full of humour. In fact, you might even say that it's laugh-a-minute.
It's full of dry, British humour, sort of in the vein of Terry Pratchett, except that it's set in deep space in the distant future, and there's more swearing.
Darren Worrow's work is really starting to grow on me. He has an interesting style of writing, that's quite unique, but I don't think I've read a recent offering from the man that hasn't made me smile. He's definitely got more than a little comic talent!
- Prisoner Prodigal Pawn
on Feb. 08, 2016
This was a pretty good story. Quite original (for me, anyway), it's set against the backdrop of Native American tribal politics, and a law firm. It's either well researched, or the author has real personal experience with the way this stuff works... or he's a good bullshitter, because I wouldn't know the difference. He writes with confidence, though!
I've shelved this book as mystery, but it's not a whodunit. You know who done it pretty early on in the book; you just need to figure out what they done, and why. And there are some interesting plot twists on the way to figuring that out - it's definitely not predictable, and I was pleasantly surprised at the end.
Unfortunately, the writing leaves a little bit to be desired, and Prisoner Prodigal Pawn (clever title, by the way - I didn't actually figure out the symbolism until the very end) could do with some serious editing. There are missing quotation marks here and there, and the fact that internal dialogue is formatted exactly the same as everything else, makes it difficult to know when someone is thinking something, or whether we're just being told something.
The biggest problem, though, is the comma use. It's not like this book could use more commas, or even fewer commas. It's just that they're frequently in the wrong place. And as I'm sure you know, in English, moving a comma one word to the left or to the right can change the entire meaning of a sentence! I often had to re-read things a couple of times to understand what the author was trying to say.
Also, the Smashwords Edition had this weird behaviour of the font changing every couple of paragraphs. Sometimes we'd go through an entire chapter in a normal typeface, and then all of a sudden, without warning and without any discernible purpose, there'd be an entire paragraph in Courier. It was quite jarring.
Overall, this is a good story. It just needs work, is all.
on May 30, 2016
I really enjoyed this little story. Not so much scary as creepy, it's very psychological.
The writing is brilliant, and the pacing is just right. It definitely made me think... and I liked the open ending, too!
- Six Rounds
on May 31, 2016
Based on the description. I thought this was going to be a thriller, with a boxing backdrop.
I was wrong - the whole story describes a fight between the protagonist and his opponent, whom he has agreed to lose to, in exchange for thirty grand.
Honestly, I didn't think I would enjoy the book, once I realised that. I mean, I know absolutely nothing about the sport. Well, I was wrong. The story is gripping, and the themes run far deeper than boxing. What I needed to know was explained nicely, in a way that I could understand, and then the story moved on. It was great, and the ending was gut-wrenching.
I had an issue with the formatting of my e-book version, though. I like to read white text on a black background (it's easier on my eyes), but you can't do that with this book. For some reason, the text colour has been manually overridden to be a dark grey, practically impossible to read on a black background. I had to switch to a white background to read it... and it still wasn't very comfortable.
But that's the only reason (along with one or two noticeable editing issues) that I didn't give this story more stars. If you like short stories that make you question your philosophies, you should give this one a go.