Monday, 30 June 2014

Cover artwork for Black Ceremonies

We now have the final artwork for Charles Black's story collection Black Ceremonies, courtesy of the artist Paul Mudie. This will be published by Parallel Universe Publications later this year as a trade paperback.

Cover artwork by Paul Mudie

High School Musical

http://react-academy.webs.com/It's been a busy weekend, starting Thursday night. My daughter's drama school, ReAct, were performing High School Musical at Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening. Lin and I were working front of house on each of these performances, Lin selling programs while I handled the raffle. We also watched every performance. It says something about the standard of the kids on stage that we enjoyed them all, especially the final night. They were tremendous. Some great singing, brilliant performances and an unbelievable amount of energy!

Sunday was our daughter, Cassandra's 30th birthday, which we celebrated with a family meal out at the Red Lion in Blackburn.

The birthday card and cake that my wife Linden made



Sunday, 29 June 2014

First stories accepted for Kitchen Sink Gothic

We have already accepted three stories for our forthcoming anthology Kitchen Sink Gothic due to be published by Parallel Universe Publications next year.

SUBMISSIONS

Parallel Universe Publications is now accepting submissions, either original or reprints, for an anthology of stories inspired by the classic British cinema/theatre phenomenon known as kitchen sink drama. 

What Culture described it as: "A determination to examine the lives of the working and dispossessed classes in a non sentimental way...The movement began in the late 1950s and has survived to this day with the oeuvre of Ken Loach and films such as Nil By Mouth. Tackling thorny themes is a trademark of the Kitchen Sink drama. Abortion, divorce, homelessness, single motherhood, inter racial sex, poverty and homosexuality were all ripe topics to be examined. There was also the advent of The Angry Young Man – usually working class men railing against everyone and everything."

That fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, describes it as: "a term coined to describe a British cultural movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film and television plays, whose 'heroes' usually could be described as angry young men. It used a style of social realism, which often depicted the domestic situations of working-class Britons living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore social issues and political controversies.
The films, plays and novels employing this style are set frequently in poorer industrial areas in the North of England, and use the rough-hewn speaking accents and slang heard in those regions. The film It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a precursor of the genre, and the John Osborne play Look Back in Anger (1956) is thought of as the first of the idiom.
The gritty love-triangle of Look Back in Anger, for example, takes place in a cramped, one-room flat in the English Midlands. The conventions of the genre have continued into the 2000s, finding expression in such television shows as Coronation Street and EastEnders.[1]
In art, "Kitchen Sink School" was a term used by critic David Sylvester to describe painters who depicted social realist-type scenes of domestic life.[2]"

We look forward to tales of darkness and horror, of the supernatural and the weird within the overall framework of the social realism of the kitchen sink drama. 

Please send your submissions to rileybooks@ntlworld.com headed "Kitchen Sink Gothic" as an attachment in either doc or docx.
We welcome either new stories or reprints. If a reprint please add details of previous publication. We have no firm maximum length though obviously the longer the story the better it will need to be to be accepted.

Payment will be £5 per thousand words and a contributor's copy of the book.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Parallel Universe Publications has a Facebook Page

We now have a dedicated Facebook page for Parallel Universe publications. Check it out on www.facebook.com/paralleluniversepublications.

We are already starting to receive submissions for our Kitchen Sink Gothic anthology. Details about submissions are here.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Queen and the Iron Throne

Strange to see our Queen gazing at the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. Link.


Black Ceremonies - a collection of stories by Charles Black

Parallel Universe Publications will be publishing Charles Black's collection of short horror stories, Black Ceremonies, in October this year.

The book will include:

The Coughing Coffin
Call of the Damned
To Summon a Flesh-Eating Demon
The Revelations of Dr Maitland
Face to Face
A Fistful of Vengeance
The Obsession of Percival Cairstairs
Tourist Trap

The book's cover is by Paul Mudie, well known for his striking covers for the Black Books of Horror. The accompanying illustration is an unfinished glimpse of it.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Scardiff - 19th October

http://scardiff.co.uk/
With the convention we would normally attend looking less attactive at the moment for a variety of reasons, Lin and I are seriously thinking of going to Scardiff this year. Our friend, Charles Black, already has a dealer's table booked for his fantastic Mortbury Press, not to mention Steve Upham's Screaming Dreams.

Although it's only a one day event, it looks packed with activities and has an interesting array of guests. Plus, I have never visited Cardiff before and perhaps it's not before time.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Friday, 20 June 2014

Kitchen Sink Gothic - an anthology

Charlie Creed-Miles in Wild Bill (2011)
Parallel Universe Publications is now accepting submissions for an anthology of stories inspired by the classic British cinema/theatre phenomena known as kitchen sink drama. 

What Culture described it as: "A determination to examine the lives of the working and dispossessed classes in a non sentimental way...The movement began in the late 1950s and has survived to this day with the oeuvre of Ken Loach and films such as Nil By Mouth. Tackling thorny themes is a trademark of the Kitchen Sink drama. Abortion, divorce, homelessness, single motherhood, inter racial sex, poverty and homosexuality were all ripe topics to be examined. There was also the advent of The Angry Young Man – usually working class men railing against everyone and everything."

That fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, describes it as: "a term coined to describe a British cultural movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film and television plays, whose 'heroes' usually could be described as angry young men. It used a style of social realism, which often depicted the domestic situations of working-class Britons living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore social issues and political controversies.
The films, plays and novels employing this style are set frequently in poorer industrial areas in the North of England, and use the rough-hewn speaking accents and slang heard in those regions. The film It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a precursor of the genre, and the John Osborne play Look Back in Anger (1956) is thought of as the first of the idiom.
The gritty love-triangle of Look Back in Anger, for example, takes place in a cramped, one-room flat in the English Midlands. The conventions of the genre have continued into the 2000s, finding expression in such television shows as Coronation Street and EastEnders.[1]
In art, "Kitchen Sink School" was a term used by critic David Sylvester to describe painters who depicted social realist-type scenes of domestic life.[2]"

I look forward to tales of darkness and horror, of the supernatural and the weird within the overall framework of the social realism of the kitchen sink drama. 

Please send your submissions to rileybooks@ntlworld.com headed "Kitchen Sink Gothic". Please send your story as an attachment in either doc or docx. I welcome either new stories or reprints. If a reprint please add details of previous publication.

Payment will be £5 per thousand words and a contributor's copy of the book.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Interview for Blood Bound Books about The Return

I have just completed an interview for Blood Bound Books about my novel The Return as part of their promotional campaign.


***INTERVIEW with David A. Riley*** Details on the RETURN while we chat about gangsters and Lovecraft.

1)BBB: Tell us a little about The Return.

RILEY: The Return is the culmination of a number of stories I have written over recent years about Edgebottom and its notorious area of Grudge End (Lock-In, The Fragile Mask on his Face, Old Grudge Ender, The True Spirit, The Worst of all Possible Places). For a long time I had also been interested in the idea of merging the crime genre with Lovecraftian horror. I didn't want to write another pastiche of the Cthulhu Mythos. With Gary Morgan I had a protagonist who is the antithesis of the normal Lovecraftian hero, a tough, no nonsense professional hitman on the run after carrying out a gangland murder in London, who makes the one mistake of returning for what he thinks will be a last, almost nostalgic look at his old hometown. To his increasing horror he soon finds that its violent, diabolical past is even more dangerous than the criminal world in which he has lived for the past few decades.

I wanted to blend the dark atmosphere of crime noir with the even darker atmosphere of a Lovecraftian horror story, whilst making the novel as grittily realistic as possible in an almost kitchen sink kind of way.

2) BBB: The Return is a story about coming home. Is there anything mysterious or diabolical about your hometown? Any reasons you may not want to go back?

RILEY: I have never lived all that far from my home town of Accrington, other than when I moved to Blackburn after I got married, five miles away. I lived there for seven years.

Of course the most notorious event in the history of this area concerns Pendle Hill, which rises ominously to the west of Accrington only a few feet shy from being a mountain. It was the home of the infamous Lancashire Witches who were tried and hanged at Lancaster in 1612. Their story has been featured in several books, from Harrison Ainsworth's The LANCASHIRE WITCHES, Robert Neill's MIST OVER PENDLE and, more recently, Jeanette Winterson's THE DAYLIGHT GATE, soon to be filmed by Hammer (http://www.pendlewitches.co.uk/). Many of the descriptions for Edgebottom are based on my hometown—and on other Lancashire towns as well; I've cherrypicked the features that suit my vision of Edgebottom the most. If you look at the history of many places in Lancashire most are filled with violence, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when rioters, like the Luddites, were fired on by troops and the surrounding moorlands were plagued with footpads and highwaymen.

Although most were shut down years ago, it's an area that was once justifiably stigmatized for its "dark satanic mills", which dominated most towns in the industrial parts of Lancashire, something I have highlighted with Malleson's Mill in my novel.

3) BBB: The Return focuses on Gary Morgan who is a gangster. In America we tend to think about New York's Five families, Chicago's Al Capone, etc.Who are a few of your favorite historical gangsters? Are there UK equivalents to these US gangsters?


RILEY: The UK has certainly had more than its fair share of real life gangsters—and still has! In writing The Return, the ones that were influential on me were two of the most notorious: the Kray twins in East London and, more particularly, the Richardson brothers, who were malignantly powerful in South London in the 1960s. The Richardsons were infamous for holding mock trials during which victims were tortured and sometimes killed. Though both the Krays and Richardsons are long gone, gangs in the UK still exist, possibly even more violent than they used to be. They certainly use guns more often than in the past even though they are illegal here.

Fictionally, Ted Lewis's outstanding novel JACK'S RETURN HOME, more well known as GET CARTER from the classic crime thriller starring Michael Caine, was influential when completing THE RETURN. One reviewer actually described it as Get Carter Meets Cthulhu!

In the Flesh series finale

Last night I watched the final two episodes of the second series of In the Flesh on BBC3. The story continually improves and it's great to see a truly original zombie series set in Lancashire. I can't claim that I didn't see one of the tragic twists happening beforehand (brilliantly well handled and shocking though it was), but I did not foresee what would ultimately happen at the very end - showing that a third series must surely be on the cards.
All credit to the writers of this series and the actors too, who gave great performances. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fantastic animated cartoon for Superman's 75th Birthday

I came across this brilliant cartoon on facebook, celebrating 75 years of Superman. Whether you are a fan of the Man of Steel or not, I'm sure you'll appreciate the cleverness of it.


Friday, 6 June 2014

Kitchen Sink Gothic

Wild Bill, an excellent example of a kitchen sink thriller


What is Kitchen Sink Gothic?

M. John Harrison used the term in relation to Robert Aickman: "John Coulthart on reading Robert Aickman: “like finding the quotidian Britishness of Alan Bennett darkening into the inexplicable nightmares of David Lynch.” I often return to BBC4′s The Golden Age of Canals, which features Aickman as a broody, nerdy TE Lawrence of the waterways, for its footage of decaying tunnel entrances, drained locks & Kitchen Sink Gothic clutter embedded in wet mud."

Kitchen Sink as a genre description was coined in the late 1950s, early 1960s to describe British films, plays and novels generally set in the North of England which depicted working class life in a gritty, no-nonsense, warts and all style, sometimes referred to as social realism.

For me, within the horror genre it is the antithesis of Jamesian or Lovecraftian horror. There are no distinguished scholars in these stories. The settings are unglamorous, perhaps even unatmospheric in the accepted use of that word in supernatural horror.

I first became aware of it when someone reviewed my story Scrap (Dark Visions 1, Grey Matter Press, 2013): "Scrap by David A. Riley could easily have been a kitchen sink drama, depicting the lives of two brothers growing up in a poverty-stricken council estate in England. Riley chooses to inject a healthy dose of horror, elevating his story to a different, altogether more gruesome level."

Of course I’m not the only writer to use such settings. Which is why I am interested in editing an anthology of stories under the title Kitchen Sink Gothic, to see how diverse this sub-genre can be and what riches it can produce. I'll post more details soon about pay rates, etc. At the moment this project is still in the planning stage.

Queen of the Dead: Zombie Ascension II - book review

This is my review of Queen of the Dead which is now live on hellnotes.

Queen of the Dead: Zombie Ascension II
Vincenzo Bilof
Severed Press 2013
ISBN 978-1925047202
Paperback 284 pages $12.75
Reviewed by David A. Riley
To be honest I didn’t find this an easy book to get into with regard the characters. I don’t mind having anti-heroes as the main protagonists, but there are anti-heroes and anti-heroes, and for the most part I didn’t really care for many of the people in this novel, most of whom seem to be sociopaths to one degree or another, with little or no concern about the welfare of anyone other than themselves – or, if they have, for very few, usually one. There are a few exceptions, but they are a minority. Perhaps that would be a requirement to survive in such a world, though. It probably is.
That said, the graphic horror of the situation in which they are trapped, a global apocalypse of zombies ripping apart the fabric of society and the bodies of their victims, is vividly described – sometimes, it should be added, with maybe a tad too much concern for literary turns of phrase, which only serve to remind you that you are reading a book. Even so, the descriptions are vivid, the characters quickly and memorably drawn, and the speed with which events unfold truly breathtaking.
This is the second volume in a trilogy. Not having read the first, I was at a disadvantage to start with, though I was soon able to catch up with what was going on. That says a lot for the writer. Not only did I quickly catch up with things, but in a way that avoided long pieces of exposition. At no point did the pace slacken.
Despite almost a glut of books, movies and TV series over recent years zombies are still popular. If everyone could strike the originality of Vincenzo Bilof in his depiction of what would happen in such a catastrophe, there is no doubt in my mind that there is still a lot of life in the trope yet. It may not be a pleasant ride, but Bilof has certainly provided us with one hell of an exciting one in this book.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Kitchen Sink Gothic

In 1995 we set up Parallel Universe Publications to publish a fantasy/sf magazine, Beyond, which lasted for three issues. In 2012 re revived it to publish a hard cover collection of short stories by Craig Herbertson, The Heaven Makers and Other Gruesome Tales. This year we are going to bring out at least a further two books, possibly three. One will be a novel, the others will be single author collections. I am now thinking about doing an anthology, scheduled for 2015, tentatively titled Kitchen Sink Gothic, likely a mixture of reprints and new stories. 

Any suggestions or ideas for the anthology would be welcome.