Monday, 15 August 2016

Paupers' Graves - Pre-Orders

Paupers' Graves is my new novella, being launched at this year's Fantasycon. It's one of four novellas being released simultaneously by Hersham Horror–the others being by Stephen Bacon, Mark West and Phil Sloman, so I couldn't be in better company.

More to say nearer the time about this one, as it's a story I'm especially proud of. But will just say that the ebook version is available to preorder now.

In a Nottingham cemetery, hidden away from the grandiose tombs of the city’s rich, are the old paupers’ graves. Katherine and her team have been ordered to create an exhibit based around the lives of those unfortunates buried beneath. But the paupers represent part of the city’s history that Katherine prefers to avoid thinking about… as well as part of her own. 

But the dead, having had nothing in life, are enraged that even the truth of how they lived is being taken from them. Buried up to twenty under one stone, they whisper in the dark. Maybe they can show Katherine and her colleagues what their history was really like… and how cheap life was considered.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Boo Books and Trying To Be So Quiet

I'd planned to do a brief blog post today about some new reviews for my Boo Books novella Trying To Be So Quiet - and I still am going to mention that - but they've been slightly overshadowed by the sad news from Alex Davis that Boo Books is to close. Boo Books have released some fantastic books and I'm proud to have been part of their rosta. And I'd like to thank Alex for all his hard work and encouragement, and wish him good luck with his future ventures.
The good news is that Boo Books titles are all still available as we speak, and I can personally recommend Andrew David Barker's The Electric and Dead Leaves, the Haunted anthology, and, based on her reading at Edge-Lit, Tracy Fahey's collection The Unheimlich Manouver.

Oh yeah, and those Trying To Be So Quiet reviews:
"If you like your quiet, stealthy, and throat-achingly sad, this one is for you." Tracy Fahey
"A must read, wonderful.", Yvonne Davies, Terror Tree

Trying To Be So Quiet is available as a hardback and ebook (UK | US). 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Thirteen Signs

The Thirteen Signs is a new anthology from editor Dean M. Drinkel, and contains horror stories based around different signs of the Zodiac. I was given Pieces as mine, and my story 'Hooked' is set on Majorca and describes a birdwatcher caught up in a sinister trap. But is he the prey or the bait?

I had fun writing this one, and gleefully slagging off astrology (which I think is purest bollocks) in the process. The book has some other great writers in as well, including Lily Childs, Mark West, Tim Dry, Steve Byrne, Jan Edwards and Amelia Mangan. Ebook is out now from Nocturnicorn Press with a paperback to follow very shortly.

The Thirteen Signs (UK | US) 

Friday, 5 August 2016

A Haunted Dawn..?

My story 'Defensive Wounds' will (hopefully) be appearing in the Haunted Dawn anthology... if enough people pledge on Kickstarter. I hope you'll consider taking a look and maybe pledging; the anthology will be published by the excellent Uninvited Books and the proposed lineup looks genuinely fantastic.

Rob used this photo of me in moody black & white for the promo video,
so here it is in its original, uh, glory.

Traditional ghosts fade with the dawn. The fears that haunt our dreams evaporate by first light, but there are worse things, worse specters. Far more fearsome are those spirits that do not flee the daybreak. They stay with us. They torment us. They blight our lives, plague our minds. They linger.

They become part of us.

Each of the authors presented here understands this fact … only too well.

HAUNTED DAWN: A Literary Horror Anthology features work by Paul G. Bens, Jr., Lisa von Biela, Justin Bogdanovitch, Chesya Burke, Kealan P. Burke, Nickolas Cook, P.D. Cacek, Jameson Currier, Keith Deininger, Sandy DeLuca, Robert Dunbar, James Everington, Greg Gifune, John Grover, Gerard Houarner, Lauren James, Kevin Lucia, Ronald Malfi, Lisa Mannetti, Elizabeth Massie, and B.E. Sculy.

Does horror have to be the same old thing? Over and over? So many books seem like variants on a theme. Seriously? How many “totally new twists” on zombies or werewolves could there be? Maybe a vampire romance? How about some more stories “inspired” by Lovecraft? Oh please. Wouldn’t you like to read something… different… for a change? Something original? Here’s a radical idea – how about cutting-edge authors who have already invested their considerable talents in pushing the boundaries of the genre? How about literary artistry, creative intelligence … and transcendent chills?

How about paying the writers? (Now there’s a concept.) Here’s your chance to help Haunted Dawn see the light of day.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Recommendation: Singing With All My Skin & Bone by Sunny Moraine

A few brief words of recommendation about this fantastic (in both senses) collection of short stories from Sunny Moraine. There's nineteen stories here, and they are all rich and satisfying and worth taking the time to savour. The tales in Singing With All My Skin & Bone are often in the first-person and often addressed to a "you" either inside or outside the tale. So they feel less like prose and more like the speech of someone who has to try and articulate the story of their life. Moraine’s characters are those society considers oddballs and outsiders, and their stories do not always have happy endings.

The style is an alluring combination of horror, magic realism and even science fiction. Many read like extended metaphors for our lives and how we form relationships now: the stripping back of a partner in Love In The Time Of Taxidermy; the finding of your own skull in Memento Mori; the social media suicide epidemic of Dispatches From A Hole In The World; the subterranean magic in the title tale. Sylvia Plath, I imagine, would be nodding her head in violent approval at Moraine's work.

Moraine's prose is typically lyrical and poetic, but gruesome where it needs to be too. A lot of the stories veer towards body-horror, but the body (as the collection's title alludes to) is a source of power too, a source of control over one's own fate.

And then there's Cold As The Moon which with one line (a 21st Century update of a very famous E.M. Forster quote) managed to break my heart, utterly and completely.  

A superb collection and another brilliant title from Undertow. 

Singing With All My Skin & Bone (UK | US)

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Great British Horror 1: Green & Pleasant Land available to preorder

Great British Horror 1: Green and Pleasant Land is available to preorder now from the Black Shuck Books site. I really am pleased to be part of this book, and one glance at the lineup will show you why: it contains some of the best British horror authors currently working, and some of my own personal favourites. I'm genuinely surprised, flattered and gobsmacked to have a story alongside them. 

I bloody love the cover, too.

Green and Pleasant Land officially launches at Fantasycon By The Sea and if you're attending you can take advantage of a special preorder deal to collect it at the event, signed by all talented bunch inside its covers... plus defaced by my illegible scrawl. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

A partial & subjective list of the influences, inspirations and random thoughts behind The Quarantined City:

The short stories of Charles L Grant
My Name Is Red, Orhan Pamuk
Twin Peaks
The decades old associations of the smell resulting from an accidentally smashed jar of paprika
A school trip to Eyam circa 1985
The short stories of Jorge Borges
The experience of deja-vu
The baby from Trainspotting
Under The Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
My stag do, Cork
Six Characters In Search Of An Author, Pirandello
My cat (George)
The Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
The second-hand book-stall in the covered market, Oxford
The Dark Tower novels, Stephen King
What I think A Tale Of Two Cities is about, despite having never read it
The arboretum park, Nottingham
Invisible Cities, Calvino
Friends (no, really)
The drawings of Escher
It Only Comes Out At Night, Dennis Etchison
The music of Mogwai
Descriptions of real-life ‘near death experiences’
L’Auberge bar (Le Crotoy, France)
Weekend break to Rome
Memento Inception
The Double, Jose Saramago
The feeling of disorientation when visiting somewhere you've never been before, where the layout of the streets makes little sense
Auto De Fe, Elias Canetti
The Beautiful Strange, Shirley Jackson
The Exorcist, William Peter Blattey
The experience of deja-vu
Desolation Row, Bob Dylan
Northern Exposure
What happened to me the day my drink was spiked
The Plague, Albert Camus
Hard-Boiled Wonderland & The End Of The World, Haruki Murakami
The Orphanage
Ultraviolence, Lana Del Ray
The novels of Philip K Dick
Hempel’s Ravens paradox
The short stories of Ramsey Campbell
My hazy & no doubt woefully inaccurate understanding of modern physics & cosmology, especially quantum entanglement & parallel universes 
The City Of Glass, Paul Auster
The Information, Martin Amis
The lines from TS Eliot's Four Quartets I can remember 
Black Flowers, Steve Mosby
One specific scene in The Shining
Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Ghost Story, Peter Straub
That drawing which is a young girl looked at one way, and an old woman the other
That drawing which is a rabbit looked at one way, and a duck the other