Just a quick note to report that a new 5,000 word short story of mine, THE CAMBION, has been accepted for publication in Cemetery Dance magazine. I’ve long been an admirer of this fantastic genre publication, so it feels like a minor acheivement to be appearing within its pages. They closed to submissions for several years to clear the backlogged stories, so my tale might not appear for quite a while. More info as I get it.
FOR THE NIGHT IS DARK edited by Ross Warren has now been released by Crystal Lake Publishing. Featuring 20 original stories from some of the best new writers in the genre (and me), it comes complete with a gorgeous Ben Baldwin artwork. Here is the table of contents -
His Own Personal Golgotha – G. N. Braun
21 Brooklands: Next to Old Western, Opposite the Burnt Out Red Lion – Carole Johnstone
The River – Armand Rosamilia
God May Pity All Weak Hearts – Daniel I. Russell
… Darker with the Day – Scott Nicholson
In the Darkest Room in the Darkest House on the Darkest Part of the Street – Gary McMahon
Till Death – Joe Mynhardt
On a Midnight Black Chessie – Kevin Lucia
Father Figure – Tracie McBride
Room to Thrive – Stephen Bacon
Hungry is the Dark – Benedict J. Jones
Eternal Darkness – Blaze McRob
This Darkness . . . – John Claude Smith
Lost and Found – Tonia Brown
Mr Stix – Mark West
A Snitch in Time – Robert W. Walker
Shade – Jeremy C. Shipp
How the Dark Bleeds – Jasper Bark
Don’t Let the Dark Stop You Shining – William Meikle
Where the Dark is Deepest – Ray Cluley
The cost is £4.11 for the Kindle edition and that version is available through Amazon here
and the print version is £9.50 and that version is available from Amazon here.
Just a quick note to update you on a couple of story appearances that are due out in the next few months.
Firstly, I’ll have a story in Ill at Ease 2. It’s an anthology of original stories featuring the 7 writers listed on the cover – Shaun Hamilton, Robert Mammone, Val Walmsley, Sheri White, Mark West, Neil Williams and me. Neil also created the superb artwork you see above. My tale, Double Helix, deals with regret, recrimination and terminal illness. Despite that, I think it’s one of the most optimistic stories I’ve ever written.
Secondly is an appearance in the anthology For the Night Is Dark, edited by Ross Warren and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. My story is called Room to Thrive and is about a group of lads who explore the flat of a recently-dead tenant.
And, thirdly, my story Pseudonym will make its appearance in the Pentanth (an anthology featuring 5 different writers) called Anatomy of Death - in 5 sleazy pieces edited by Mark West and published by Hersham Horror Books. The other contributors are Stephen Volk, John Llewellyn Probert, Johnny Mains and Mark West, so I’m in some fine company. Pseudonym is about an aging pulp writer from the 70s and 80s who has since fallen on hard times; the narrator visits his Suffolk home to conduct an interview and investigate something dark from the writer’s past, but ends up unleashing a powerful supernatural force instead.
More info as I get it.
I received an email on Monday evening from the multi award-winning editor Ellen Datlow, to say that she was taking my story NONE SO BLIND for inclusion in her annual reprint anthology BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR 5.
I was absolutely floored by this news. I own every single edition of the 21 Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies that she’s edited, together with the first 4 Best Horror of the Year editions that have been published so far by Night Shade Books, and I regard them as the byword in quality fiction. It has long been one of my writing goals to nab a spot within its pages, so it was unbelievably thrilling to hear I was going to be sharing space with such a wonderful collection of writers. The full table of contents has been released -
Nikishi by Lucy Taylor
Little America by Dan Chaon
A Natural History of Autumn by Jeffrey Ford
Mantis Wives by Kij Johnson
Tender as Teeth by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski
The Callers by Ramsey Campbell
Two poems for Hill House by Kevin McCann
Mariner’s Round by Terry Dowling
Nanny Grey by Gemma Files
The Magician’s Apprentice by Tamsyn Muir
Kill All Monsters by Gary McMahon
The House on Ashley Avenue by Ian Rogers
Dead Song by Jay Wilburn
Sleeping, I Was Beauty by Sandi Leibowitz
Bajazzle by Margo Lanagan
The Pike by Conrad Williams
The Crying Child by Bruce McAllister
This Circus the World by Amber Sparks
Some Pictures in An Album by Gary McMahon
Wild Acre by Nathan Ballingrud
Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg
None So Blind by Stephen Bacon
The Ballad of Boomtown by Priya Sharma
Pig Thing by Adam Nevill
The Word-Made Flesh by Richard Gavin
Into the Penny Arcade by Claire Massey
Magdala Amygdala by Lucy Snyder
Frontier Death Song by Laird Barron
The book is scheduled to be published in June. The artwork at the top of this may not be the finished version, but suffice to say I’ll be looking forward to getting my hands on it however it looks.
Peter Tennant was kind enough to review my debut collection in issue 32 of Black Static, the UK’s best horror magazine.
I was a little anxious about what he would say. He’s a seasoned reviewer, he knows his stuff better than most, and I realised he would tell it like it is. In other words, I was not going to be able to pull the wool over this eyes. His honesty and integrity are second to none.
So it was doubly pleasing to have him say some nice things about the book. He describes it as “a very impressive first collection, one in which there are no duds at all, and confirm the arrival of a talented newcomer in horror circles.” Which was incredibly thrilling to hear.
The book was also very favourably reviewed in depth by Robert Morrish on his Twilight Ridge website where he says “Overall, Peel Back The Sky is an impressive debut, for both Bacon and the New Blood imprint. The variety of the contents means there’s likely something here for every reader.“
I was tagged by the fantastically talented writer, Thana Niveau, in the Next Big Thing networked blog interviews series which is basically a cross-section of writers talking about their forthcoming books. As I’ve only had one book published so far – and face the very real possibility that it may be the only one I ever have published – I thought it would be better for me to talk about that instead. I’m nothing if not a maverick.
1) What is the working title of your next book? Have you not been listening? I just said I was going to talk instead about my LAST book. Which was called Peel Back the Sky.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book? Well, it’s basically a collection of short stories. They are 21 in total – 15 of which have been published already in various magazines and anthologies (and on-line in a couple of instances) since 2006 when I started writing. I wrote 6 original tales for the book. I’m not that lazy.
3) What genre does you book fall under? I suppose it would be classed as horror, although there are definitely science fiction stories and very dark fantasy tales in it. Some crime too. Many of the stories don’t feature supernatural elements at all, although I hope you’ll find most of them contain a sense of horror. I’d like people to just take the stories as they find them.
4) What actors would you choose to play the parts of the characters in a movie rendition? The only way it would work as a movie would be in an anthology-style, like the Amicus portmanteau films from the 1970s. I could have a framing device set in a circus sideshow and the four stories that would make up the film would be The Trauma Statement (starring Anna Maxwell Martin), Persistence of Vision (starring Andrew Garfield), Room Above the Shop (starring someone unknown) and Cone Zero (starring Benedict Cumberbatch).
5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? Stories that shine the light on the dark side of the human condition.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I just told you – it’s already out! And it was published by Gray Friar Press, one of my favourite UK independent presses.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Well 15 of the stories had already been published, so all I had to do was go through them individually and make sure they were as I remembered them. In a couple of instances I had to tweak several bits so they didn’t clash thematically. It took me almost a year to write the 6 original stories (I’m a slow writer). Only one of them had already been done, so the others were incredibly fresh and current to where I am at the minute with my writing. The short answer is approximately 6 years in the making, but I guess that’s a cheat because when I started having the stories published originally I had no idea that they might one day end up in my collection. But from the date the book was accepted for publication to its actual release it took about 18 months.
8) What other books would you compare your story to in the genre? This is a difficult one. There are books I’d list as influences, not specifically on this book, but to me as a writer and a reader. I’m not particularly interested in the usual horror tropes so I tried to avoid writing about them. Having said that, there are a couple of stories in Peel Back the Sky which touch on zombies, ghosts, etc, but I sense that those are themes that don’t really interest me too much. The type of short stories that I like to read defy genre, defy traditional viewpoints, sometimes even defy plot! I prefer atmosphere and ambiguity and a sense of otherness. I can’t say I’ve managed to achieve that with this book, but it’s definitely a target I’d eventually like to achieve.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? It’s a combination of things really. Back in 2005 I was working a day job I absolutely loathed. As a way of getting through the mundane aspect of the work, a work colleague and I decided to have a go at collaborating on a Doctor Who novella (he was a huge Doctor Who fan with no desire to write, I was someone who wanted to write but had no knowledge of Doctor Who). Anyway the novella, Fogbound, never saw the light of day. But my desire to write – obsession to write – was fuelled by that initial process. Shortly afterwards I changed jobs and found I had far more free-time on my hands – and this enabled me to write. I had also recently become a father, and I was finding that the world in general was a very scary place. So all these things collided into launching me towards writing. Now, I write about things that frighten me as a husband and a father (I’ve now got 2 kids), and also as a friend and a son and a brother and an uncle. The world is a truly terrifying place.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? It has a wonderful piece of artwork gracing the cover, painted by the talented Les Edwards. And one of my favourite authors, Nicholas Royle, was kind enough to write an introduction. And then you just might enjoy the stories…one about a desolate walled-garden that’s blighted by a centuries’ old curse, one about some shop mannequins that seem to have a life of their own, one about a monstrous insect that consumes thoughts, and many, many others…
Just wanted to post the links to 2 recent reviews of my collection.
First up is the real time review by D F Lewis, which can be found here.
And secondly is a cracking review by Anthony Watson, which has been posted on his blog here.
Edited on 31st October – Matthew Fryer has also posted a great review of my collection on his website, The Hellforge.
At last I can officially announce that my debut collection, Peel Back the Sky, will be published by Gray Friar Press. It is available for pre-order on the GFP website. It can also be purchased From Amazon UK or Amazon.com
Here are the contents -
Introduction by Nicholas Royle
The Trauma Statement
The Strangled Garden
Catch Me If I Fall
Persistence of Vision
The Other Side of Silence
A Solace of Winter Rain
The House of Constant Shadow
With Black Foreboding Eyed
The Toymaker of Bremen
The Shadow Puppets
Room above the Shop
Hour of Departure
I Am a Creation of Now
The Devourer of Dreams
Story Notes & Acknowledgements
The beautiful cover is by Les Edwards, one of my favourite artists. The book will be shipping in the next few weeks. It will cost £8.99 + £2 shipping in the UK, $17.99 + $6 to the US, and €11 + €5 to Europe.
In the next week or so I’ll put up a dedicated page on my site with more info.
Just a quick note to report that my story The Ivory Teat will be published in D F Lewis’s forthcoming anthology, The First Book of Classical Music. It is due to be released in the next few months by Megazanthus Press. Here is a brief look at the contents, with a couple of more yet to be added -
THE IVORY TEAT by Stephen Bacon
BEYOND TWO RIVERS – A SYMPHONIC POEM by Adam S. Cantwell
ANEMNESIS IN EXTREMIS by Dominy Clements
REVERIE by Lawrence Conquest
THE FOURTEENTH by Nicole Cushing
HUMAN RESOURCES by Karim Ghahwagi
THE UNIVERSE AT GUN POINT by Andrew Hook
WINTER’S TRACES (working title) by John Howard
THE TRILLING SEASONS by Rhys Hughes
THE APPASSIONATA VARIATIONS by Colin Insole
CHAMBER MUSIC by Rachel Kendall
HOLES by Tony Lovell
DE PROFUNDIS by Daniel Mills
BORIS’ ARIA by M. Sullivan
GRACE NOTES by Carmen Tudor
STRINGS by S.D. Tullis
WITHOUT INSTRUMENTS by Mark Valentine
VERTEP by D.P. Watt
SONGS FOR DEAD CHILDREN by Aliya Whiteley
The artwork above is not the finalised version, but I think it will suit its purpose here. More information as I receive it.
Peter Mark May, the head of HERSHAM HORROR BOOKS has announced that the print version of Alt-Zombie has now been published, with the ebook version available in a few weeks. Here are the respective links -
The Book Depository: £8.74 http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Alt-Zombie-Peter-Mark-May/9781466200470
Barnes & Noble US: $9.99 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alt-zombie-mark-west/1111203343?ean=9781466200470