Monday, 21 March 2022
Saturday, 19 March 2022
Very pleased to be back in print in the pages of Supernatural Tales. My tale 'Not That Kind Of Place' appears in the latest issue (#49) alongside stories from Rosalie Parker, Steve Duffy and others. It's my third time appearing in ST - always a pleasure.Supernatural Tales #49 (UK | US)
Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Maybe times have changed, or maybe I'm just old now, but such serendipitous stumbling into something unknown but exciting happens less and less for me nowadays. But when it does happen, I'm still thrilled.
My friend and editor-supreme Dion Winton-Polak posted he'd recently edited a new book, The Headsman by Cristina Mîrzoi. If I'd not been looking at Facebook on my phone at that exact moment, I probably would have missed it, something special lost amidst the horrendous world news, the Wordle scores, the shit-posting and endless adverts. But I did see Dion's post, and thought the book looked interesting, so I picked up a copy.
Monday, 28 February 2022
I'm sure all readers of my blog are appalled and disgusted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. My friend and all-round horror supremo Johnny Mains is currently running an online auction on his site, to raise money for Red Cross Ukraine. And there's some amazing rarities to bid on - a super-rare Ramsey Campbell novel; a signed shooting script for Inside No. 9; signed copies of loads of books.
I'd encourage you to go and have a look, make a bid (even if you outbid me, you bastards), share the auction around social media, and we can do some good despite the awful news.
Sunday, 20 February 2022
I've known Duncan Bradshaw for a few years, mainly for two things: his love of good beers and his fiction, a very distinctive blend of humour and over the top horror. His readings at conventions are always laugh-out-loud funny/groan-out-loud disgusting (check out Congratulations! You've Accidentally Summoned A World-Ending Monster. What Now?, a riff on the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' series, for an example). Fair to say, although we're both writing horror, our approaches our worlds apart...
So I was more than intrigued when Duncan approached me for a blurb for a forthcoming release which he said was... serious. I think he even used the 'literature' word. But even if he didn't, I will: And The Night Did Claim Them, from Black Shuck Books is a masterful piece of serious horror literature. It's still got moments of trademark Bradshaw humour, but now part of a story which is a dark and unrelenting slide towards doom. I genuinely loved it, and after some thought I had this to say about it:
“A creepy, absorbing novella about loss, regret, and the blackness awaiting us all. Bleak as hell; dark and silky as a pint of Guinness - I loved it.”
(Disclaimer: I received some beer from the author as a thank-you for this blurb, which was 8% and gave me a mild headache and some grumpiness the next morning. What a bastard. Don't buy his books.)
And The Night Did Claim Them (Pre-Order)
Friday, 4 February 2022
Ray Cluley's debut collection is being rereleased - today, if I've got my timing right. So I thought I'd repost my original recommendation for the book, which was originally posted October 2015. As you can tell, I liked it very much and I stand by every word of what I said about it back then.
But there's enough variety here to mean that's not a concern, even over the course of twenty stories. The settings range from rundown British housing estates (The Festering) to pristine Russian wilderness (Where The Salmon Run); the style varies from the dark as hell Knock Knock, through weird Westerns, to the Hollywood cliche parodying Shark! Shark! The latter in particular is a joy, a magic trick where you can't see how it's done: fourth wall breaking narration and overt cinematic references somehow coming together to make a superbly scary story. Other highlights include Beachcombing, Night Fishing and my own personal favourite, I Have Heard The Mermaids Singing (I'm a sucker for a TS Eliot reference), a story about decompression sickness and human corruption and possibly even mermaids themselves that, upon finishing (and picking my jaw up from the floor) I immediately turned back and read again.
I'm purposely avoiding saying to much about the plots of these stories because they're so well constructed; everything dovetails so neatly together that if I started to describe the opening of one of the stories here I wouldn't know where to stop. So rather than risk saying too much, I won't start.
Accomplished, atmospheric and an admirable showcase for Cluley's undoubted talents, Probably Monsters is likely to be up there with the best collections of the year.
Wednesday, 29 December 2021
Here we go, my favourite post of the year...
This is the ninth time I've done this (you can find links to lists from previous years here) so I won't bore you with too much preamble. Suffice to say, these stories (and the odd poem) really worked for me and I hope you find some which work for you too. (For each, I've linked to the publication where I read the story, which isn't always where they were first published.)