Friday 30 April 2010

Hot Flush - Sands Centre, Carlisle

Last night Linden and I went to the Sands Centre Theatre in Carlisle for a performance of the musical Hot Flush.

Linden won two tickets for this in a competition recently. It's the first time either of us have been to this theatre, which is very new and very impressive, with good accoustics, excellent seating and easy parking. Impressed.

The show starred Lesley Joseph, who was one of the most popular characters in the TV comedy Birds of a Feather. The show also included Hilary O'Neil, Anne Smith, Ruth Keeling and Matt Slack (who, as the only man in the cast, played all the male characters in the production - hilariously too!) It was a very girly musical, mainly a comedy about the menopause of all things. And in a packed audience I think there were probably only about half a dozen men in total! Still, it was a very funny, and I must admit I found myself laughing quite a bit. It was rude but not crude, with plenty of lively songs and a lot of outrageous dialogue. And not a boring moment from its start at 7.30 till it ended at 10. I'm glad we went. Lin enjoyed it immensely, I know. I don't think she ever stopped laughing.

We got there early, in time for a meal in the centre's restaurant, with its view of the river, and the weather was brilliant, showing off the beautiful Cumbrian landscape to perfection as we drove up the motorway.

We eventually got home at midnight to watch a few minutes of the potted highlights of the leadership debate on TV before going to bed.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Dramas from the Depths - Reggie Oliver

Still waiting for this book, though I know it's on its way to me from the publishers, Centipede Press in the States. It includes the stories from Reggie Oliver's first two collections, published by Haunted River Press and, I believe, from his Ash-Tree Press collection as well. I have all of these, but I must admit I couldn't resist the idea of this deluxe edition, which weighs in at just under six pounds.

Reggie Oliver has some interesting comments to make about this rather striking cover on the All Hallows Message Board: "Re the cover art, now it can be told. The first two covers that were suggested to me frankly astounded me. They looked like the collaboration of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney on a day when both had drunk too deeply of the blushful Hippocrene the night before. I tactfully suggested that this might convey a false impression of the contents. I then suggested a detail from a Poussin of a man running away from a snake which actually comes in one of the stories (The Man in the Grey Bedroom, Masques of Satan). I also suggested a crepuscular Atkinson Grimshaw. Both received dusty responses and I was sent more Salvador Disneys. Eventually the Bouguereau of violent homoeroticism in Hell was suggested. (Was his name really Buggereau) I thought it was effective and consented. But I can sympathise with James's point of view. R.O."

Bulgaria Uses Commonsense

Sofia Echo

I'm not a smoker. I never have been. But I regard the Bulgarian Government's decision to be the right one, especially when it can make the difference between businesses surviving or going under. At the moment, as economies struggle, this is crucially important. It's a pity other governments - including our own in the UK - didn't use a bit of commonsense too. (Who the Hell expects that from Gordon Brown?) Well done Bulgaria. You have again shown our decision to buy a home in your country was right.

This Says It All

Brown's bigot comment

Woman's response to what Brown said 

Perhaps he should have remembered Ian Richardson's words in House of Cards: "You might very well think that, but of course, I couldn't possibly comment."

I don't know about anyone else, but I just love it when people like Brown forget they have a microphone tucked under their noses and mouth off. Gives you an inkling into just how our leaders talk when they think no one other than their Party faithful can hear them. Priceless.

And for more of the same:

Tuesday 27 April 2010

The Kult - Shaun Jeffrey

I've just finished reading Shaun's dark, serial-killer novel, The Kult (Leucrota Press, California, 2009), and as endings go they don't come more action packed than this.

The story is about a police officer, Prosper Snow, who is put in charge of the investigation into the horrific murders stage managed by The Oracle, a psycopath who delights in making his victims suffer long and hard before they die, then lays out their bodies in macabre artistic displays, which he photographs. The only evidence the police have that any murders have taken place are these photographs, and the fact his victims have disappeared.

Enter The Kult, founded by a group of schoolboys years ago to protect themselves against bullies. If one of them was victimised, all of them would gang together to dish out on the spot retribution to the perpetrator. Back then, Prosper Snow was an overweight victim of schoolboy bullying - till The Kult put an end to it.
Now, married with a child, and a successful career in the police, he has all but forgotten about The Kult - till one of its members calls them together once more for help. Jerel's wife has been raped and savagely beaten by a gangster employed by a local notorious loan shark. Jerel wants revenge for what happened. He wants the rapist killed. In what looks at first like a clever twist, it's decided to make it look as if the man is yet another victim of The Oracle. Except, afterwards, The Oracle murders one of The Kult - and it soon becomes clear he intends to take his own revenge against them for masquerading as him.

Things quickly escalate, and Prosper's life becomes a complex nightmare of deceit and violence. All the things he has held dear are torn away from him, and the investigating officer becomes a criminal himself.
Shaun's writing is always terse and to the point, and his characters spring to life, making you feel involved with them. As for the acts of violence - there is an understated graphic quality to the descriptions of them that adds to the dark terror of the story. It is not always an easy read (some of the violence is pretty extreme), but I found the storytelling pulled me along towards a climax that contained a good number of twists in it.


I would add that this is the first book by Leucrota Press I have read and I'm impressed by the quality of the book itself. It's so good, in fact, the book still looks unread!

The Kult is now being filmed in the States.
And I'm looking forward to starting on Shaun's next book, Deadfall.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Harry Brown

Watched the new Michael Caine movie Harry Brown last night on DVD. A grim look at modern Britain in a slum-like deck access estate in London, terrorised by drugs gangs. An absolutely brilliant film, with Michael Caine on top form. Even when portraying an underplayed character, an ageing ex-marine whose wife dies from old age near the start of the film, Caine outperforms everyone else.

An interesting comparison between the ineffectual efforts of the police in the film to deal with the violence and criminality on the estate and Caine's reluctant vigilante. A fascinating argument for homeowners to be able and allowed to defend their own property and themselves against the kinds of mindless, gun-toting or knife-wielding thugs that have blemished so many parts of the UK in recent years, especially since, curiously enough, the ability to own handguns legally was ended. The nonsense of the present laws concerning this was highlighted when a young man had to face a police-instigated prosecution for murder because he killed one of two burglars he caught in his mother's home - even though he had already been attacked by one of the two with a knife. And all based on the "testimony" of the scrote who escaped and told lies about what happened. Lies which the police were prepared to believe right up till the last minute (because, of course, you have to believe a fourteen-year-old burglar), when charges were finally dropped. Sometimes I despair about our police. In fact, let's be honest - most times I despair about our police, certainly those in charge of them. Though what can you expect when senior police officers have become so politicised in recent years?

Back to the movie: well worth watching if only for Michael Caine's performance. But it also has a well-written script and some scenes (especially the one in the drug-dealers' den that Caine visits for a gun) would not be out of place in a horror film. Gritty, dark, grimly unromanticised. I enjoyed it.

Friday 23 April 2010

Shades of Darkness - review

Just came across a nice review of Shades of Darkness: review

I particularly like the reviewer's remarks on my own story - of course!

"A suffocating atmosphere of dread and anguish permeates the fascinating "Soft Little Fingers" by David A. Riley, in which a childish face keeps showing up in a car's back window."

Thursday 22 April 2010

Sad Day at Work

It's been sad because today has seen four of my fellow workers made redundant. We were already down to the smallest workforce since I started here thirteen years ago. Now we are down to eleven.

One of those gone is my former assistant in the Legal Cashiers Department, Ben, who has been here six years now. He's only twenty-five and I am sure he will soon get something else, but I'll miss our conversations on everything from books, films, computer games and DVDs - and how to set the world to rights.

Things haven't been going well for a while here, though - we are an ailing firm of solicitors - and I am far from sure whether my own job will still be here in six months time. The only positive point for me is that I'll be entitled to a substantial sum in redundancy pay if and when this happens. In the meantime, we still have the bookshop, which my wife runs in Oswaldtwistle. We haven't had it open to high street shoppers for a while now, concentrating on internet sales. That way we save on business rates. If I do end up being made redundant - or the firm collapses - we may open the bookshop to the public again and see how that goes.

But, in the meatime, I'll miss the people who have left us today, especially Ben. This building is looking emptier all the time. I'm on the top floor and there's only me here. Me and my computer.

Monday 19 April 2010

The Century's Best Horror Fiction - Update

This is the latest update on the long awaited 2-volume set for The Century's Best Horror Fiction, edited by John Pelan for Cemetery Dance:


"As we mentioned last time, after looking at the size of The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance, and considering that The Century's Best Horror Fiction edited by John Pelan is TWO volumes about that size (706 page and 868 pages), we had a change of heart about not dustjacketing those two volumes. So instead of using Alan M. Clark's incredible paintings as frontispieces, our designer is turning them into dustjackets to protect each book. This will not delay our plans to send the books to the printer this summer."

This is the table of contents:

1901: Barry Pain -- The Undying Thing
1902: W.W. Jacobs -- The Monkey's Paw
1903: H.G.Wells -- The Valley of the Spiders
1904: Arthur Machen -- The White People
1905: R. Murray Gilchrist -- The Lover's Ordeal
1906: Edward Lucas White -- House of the Nightmare
1907: Algernon Blackwood -- The Willows
1908: Perceval Landon -- Thurnley Abbey
1909: Violet Hunt -- The Coach
1910: Wm Hope Hodgson -- The Whistling Room
1911: M.R. James -- Casting the Runes
1912: E.F. Benson -- Caterpillars
1913: Aleister Crowley -- The Testament of Magdelan Blair
1914: M. P. Shiel -- The Place of Pain
1915: Hanns Heinz Ewers -- The Spider
1916: Lord Dunsany -- Thirteen at Table
1917: Frederick Stuart Greene -- The Black Pool
1918: H. De Vere Stacpoole -- The Middle Bedroom
1919: Ulric Daubeny -- The Sumach
1920: Maurice Level -- In the Light of the Red Lamp
1921: Vincent O'Sullivan -- Master of Fallen Years
1922: Walter de la Mare -- Seaton's Aunt
1923: George Allen England -- The Thing from Outside
1924: C.M. Eddy -- The Loved Dead
1925: John Metcalfe -- The Smoking Leg
1926: H.P. Lovecraft -- The Outsider
1927: Donald Wandrei -- The Red Brain
1928: H.R. Wakefield -- The Red Lodge
1929: Eleanor Scott -- Celui-La
1930: Rosalie Muspratt -- Spirit of Stonhenge
1931: Henry S. Whitehead -- Cassius
1932: David H. Keller -- The Thing in the Cellar
1933: C.L. Moore -- Shambleau
1934: L.A. Lewis -- The Tower of Moab
1935: Clark Ashton Smith -- The Dark Eidolon
1936: Thorp McCluskey -- The Crawling Horror
1937: Howard Wandrei -- The Eerie Mr Murphy
1938: Robert E. Howard -- Pigeons from Hell
1939: Robert Barbour Johnson -- Far Below
1940: John Collier -- Evening Primrose
1941: C.M. Kornbluth -- The Words of Guru
1942: Jane Rice -- The Idol of the Flies
1943: Anthony Boucher -- They Bite
1944: Ray Bradbury -- The Jar
1945: August Derleth -- Carousel
1946: Manly Wade Wellman -- Shonokin Town
1947: Theodore Sturgeon -- Bianca's Hands
1948: Shirley Jackson -- The Lottery
1949: Nigel Kneale -- The Pond
1950: Richard Matheson -- Born of Man & Woman
1951: Russell Kirk -- Uncle Isiah
1952: Eric Frank Russell -- I Am Nothing
1953: Robert Sheckley -- The Altar
1954: Everill Worrell -- Call Not Their Names
1955: Robert Aickman -- Ringing the Changes
1956: Richard Wilson -- Lonely Road
1957: Clifford Simak -- Founding Father
1958: Robert Bloch -- That Hell-Bound Train
1959: Charles Beaumont -- The Howling Man
1960: Frederic Brown -- The House
1961: Ray Russell -- Sardonicus
1962: Carl Jacobi -- The Aquarium
1963: Robert Arthur -- The Mirror of Cagliostro
1964: Charles Birkin -- A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
1965: Jean Ray -- The Shadowy Street
1966: Arthur Porges -- The Mirror
1967: Norman Spinrad -- Carcinoma Angels
1968: Anna Hunger -- Come
1969: Stefan Aletti -- The Last Work of Pietro Apono
1970: David A Riley -- The Lurkers in the Abyss
1971: Dorothy K. Haynes -- The Derelict Track
1972: Gary Brandner -- The Price of a Demon
1973: Eddy C. Bertin -- Like Two White Spiders
1974: Karl Edward Wagner -- Sticks
1975: David Drake -- The Barrow Troll
1976: Dennis Etchison -- It Only Comes Out at Night
1977: Barry Malzberg -- The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady
1978: Michael Bishop -- Within the Walls of Tyre
1979: Ramsey Campbell -- Mackintosh Willy
1980: Michael Shea -- The Autopsy
1981: Stephen King -- The Reach
1982: Fritz Leiber -- Horrible Imagings
1983: David Schow -- One for the Horrors
1984: Bob Leman -- The Unhappy Pilgrimage of Clifford M
1985: Michael Reaves -- The Night People
1986: Tim Powers -- Night Moves
1987: Ian Watson -- Evil Water
1988: Joe Lansdale -- The Night They Missed the Horror Show
1989: Joel Lane -- The Earth Wire
1990: Elizabeth Massie -- Stephen
1991: Thomas Ligotti -- The Glamour
1992: Poppy Z. Brite -- Calcutta Lord of Nerves
1993: Lucy Taylor -- The Family Underwater
1994: Jack Ketchum -- The Box
1995: Terry Lamsley -- The Toddler
1996: Caitlin R. Kiernan -- Tears Seven, Times Salt
1997: Stephen Laws -- The Crawl
1998: Brian Hodge -- As Above, So Below
1999: Glen Hirshberg -- Mr. Dark's Carnival
2000: Tim Lebbon -- Reconstructing Amy

Sunday 18 April 2010

Shaun Jeffrey's The Kult Optioned for Filming

Shaun Jeffrey's serial-killer novel The Kult has been optioned to be filmed by Gharial Productions. Shooting is due to start in September this year.

More details here: The Kult - the Movie

Congratulations, Shaun!

I am halfway through reading this book at the moment, and it is a no holds barred horror novel that features one of the most evil serial killers I have ever come across.

Saturday 17 April 2010

The Lurkers in the Abyss - publication update

Just received a circulated update from John and Kathy Pelan about the current state of their publishing company Midnight House/Darkside Press.

The important part of the message for me is this:

"Apologies! It’s been a rather ghastly year for us as I’ve had to sit out a no-compete agreement which has severely curtailed my abilities to earn a living in the mundane world, with a very significant negative impact on our book production. However, I’m back at work now and we expect to (finally) get the third Clifford D. Simak book to press in the next month or so. On the Midnight House side of things we have both Uel Key’s The Broken Fang and Richard Gamon’s The Strange Thirteen ready to go. Expect both by the end of summer.

More new books! This fall should see publication of David Riley’s Lurkers in the Abyss from Midnight House and the long awaited “Best of” William F. Temple from Darkside Press (along with the fourth Simak collection."

The full message reads thus:

"A Note from the Darkside

Apologies! It’s been a rather ghastly year for us as I’ve had to sit out a no-compete agreement which has severely curtailed my abilities to earn a living in the mundane world, with a very significant negative impact on our book production. However, I’m back at work now and we expect to (finally) get the third Clifford D. Simak book to press in the next month or so. On the Midnight House side of things we have both Uel Key’s The Broken Fang and Richard Gamon’s The Strange Thirteen ready to go. Expect both by the end of summer.

More new books! This fall should see publication of David Riley’s Lurkers in the Abyss from Midnight House and the long awaited “Best of” William F. Temple from Darkside Press (along with the fourth Simak collection.

As mentioned, this last year I was unable to work in my chosen field but there was a silver lining to this particular cloud… I was able to tackle a rather large number of projects, including Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle and Masters of the Weird Tale: Frank Belknap Long for Centipede Press. Both can be ordered from Jerad at I’m just finishing up the introduction for The Hour of the Oxrun Dead by Charles L. Grant ad the book should be out in a couple of months. We’re hoping that I can finish Masters of the Weird Tale: Arthur J. Burks in time to have the book ready for World Fantasy Con. Certainly one of the biggest books I’ve ever worked on. It’s looking to come in at over 1200 pages with over sixty stories, most novelette length.

Do check out Altus Press for their edition of The Curse of the Harcourts by Chandler H. Whipple. This would have been a Midnight House book, but Matt beat me to it, and not wanting to see my research go for naught, he was nice enough to invite me to write the introduction. This episodic novel appeared in Dime Mystery Magazine in 1935 and has never been reprinted. It’s a historical supernatural gothic spanning 900 years amd three continents in the telling. A fabulous piece that would have fit in at Weird Tales and certainly stands comparison with works such as H. Warner Munn’s The Werewolf of Ponkert and Tales of the Werewolf Clan. The Curse of the Harcourts ought to be out in time for PulpFest. Altus Press has some other neat offerings including lost race novels, and pulp reprints. Among other volume, they’ve collected all five Dr. Death novels in two volumes and have embarked on a multi-volume set collecting all of the Secret Agent X novels. I consider both to be absolute “must haves”.

Later this year, Mythos Books will be issuing my story collection Darkness, My Old Friend with a stunning cover by Allen Koszowski and introduction by Ramsey Campbell. The collection is a retrospective of my first decade writing and the time elapsed between initially writing these pieces and the publication of the book has given me the opportunity to make little tweaks here and there and correct some errors that initially made it past the proofreaders and myself. The result of this extra work means that these are truly my preferred texts of the stories and hopefully all annoying typos have been fixed. Here’s what a couple of colleagues have had to say about the book:

“John Pelan is one of our most distinguished keepers of the flame. His richly varied work epitomizes everything that brought us all into the genres in the first place. In his oeuvre we find fearless imagination, hallucinatory vision, and a marvelously varied palette of verbal tropes that puts the essential music in the madness, that lilt that lifts us up into his vision. Mr. Nightmare strikes again!”

- Michael Shea (Multiple World Fantasy Award Winner)

Renowned author and editor John Pelan relishes the macabre and the transgressive. Darkness, My Old Friend is a gripping foray into the shadowy frontier of mysticism and dread. An assured storyteller, Pelan knows how to make you squirm like a worm on the hook." --Laird Barron, author of The Imago Sequence & Other Stories

Wow, that makes me want to buy a copy… ;-)

I’ve also launched my own imprint under the Ramble House umbrella… For years I’ve been trying to figure out how to produce smaller print runs of titles that would be obscure even by Midnight House standards and would still be affordable. I think we’ve done it with Dancing Tuatara Press. We have trade paperbacks ($20.00 retail with a full 40% discount) and there is a signed, limited hardcover at $45.00 and a trade hardcover at $35.00 (both are offered at 40% discount. Here are the titles available with direct links to the full descriptions. Retail customers can use their shopping cart function for all but the limiteds. If you want the signed limiteds, e-mail Fender or myself as those orders need to be processed manually. Dealers, for all states e-mail Fender directly to get the best possible rate, (wholesale orders have to be processed manually.) These are books that might have not quite fit with the type of material that you’ve come to expect from Midnight House, or were authors that perhaps didn’t have a broad enough appeal to merit a 500 copy print run (Mark Hansom, for example). There’s definitely going to be a focus on material from the weird menace pulps, with at least five collections by John H. Knox and at least three from Wyatt Blassingame. We’ve also reprinted Richard Goddard’s bizarre classic The Whistling Ancestors, which I recommend most highly. Goddard always promised a sequel, (which never materialized), so I’ve taken it upon myself to write it! The sequel will tie-in characters and locations from such diverse sources as the novels of Walter S. Masterman and Mark Hansom, “The Colossus of Ylourgne” by Clark Ashton Smith and feature Dr. Nikola, Mr. Chang, Dr. Death, and Dr. Yen-Sin teaming up with Caspar Pettifranc (from The Whistling Ancestors) to make the world a better place by killing off just about everybody. ;-) Keep watching our news page for more details.

Now here’s the links:

Beast or Man? –
The Whistling Ancestors –
The Shadow on the House –
Sorcerer’s Chessmen –
The Wizard of Berner’s Abbey –

Coming Real Soon:

Walter S. Masterman – The Border Line
Arlton Eadie – The Trail of the Cloven Hoof
*Day Keene – The League of the Grateful Dead
John H. Knox – Reunion in Hell
Wyatt Blassingame – The Tongueless Horror

*What isn’t on the site yet is perhaps the most exciting series for mystery fans to come along in years: Day Keene in the Detective Pulps. Along with Jim Thompson, John D. MacDonald, and Harry Whittington Keene was one of the mainstays of the paperback original crime novel in the 1950s. However, he had developed his chops a decade earlier as one of the most prolific (and best) of the contributors to Dime Mystery, Detective Tales, and other magazines. During the decade of the 1940s there was at least one Day Keene novelette published in one of the mystery magazines every month. Most of these stories have never been reprinted and certainly no attempt has been made to collect them (until now). Day Keene in the Detective Pulps will run to over thirteen volumes and will be published in the same format as other Dancing Tuatara Press books, with one notable difference… The signed limiteds will feature a different guest introducer for each volume. Some of the biggest names in modern mystery fiction will be included. More information is available from me or e-mail


General E-mail:

Please do not use the old e-mail addys, messages have a real good chance of not getting through. Until June, we’re up in the mountains of New Mexico with the tarantulas and skin walkers and have to rely on web-based e-mail.


John & Kathy"

Friday 16 April 2010

Thursday 15 April 2010

Night Gallery DVD - Series 2

Got the complete series 2 of the American TV show from the 70s, Night Gallery in the post yesterday. We bought it because Linden found out one of the episodes included a dramatisation of Basil Copper's classic horror story Camera Obscura. She remembered watching this years ago on TV.

There are five discs in the set, with over 18 hours of viewing - and good value it is too. We spent the whole of last night watching just one disc, the highlight of which, of course, was the Basil Copper story. Other well known stories included were H. P. Lovecraft's Cool Air and Pickman's Model. There were also stories by August Derleth and Robert Bloch.

Though dating from 1971 the picture must have been digitally enhanced as it was perfect. It certainly didn't look like nearly forty-year-old TV.

Internet Rage

Further from what I have already noted about this phenomena, is the question why someone should use their own blog almost solely to have a go at other people. Most blogs I have looked at are used to raise issues, discuss books or films or anything else that comes to mind, and to tell people about the ups and downs of whatever particular interest the blogger has they would like other people to know about. With writers, who are the main bloggers I look at, this is almost always about their own stories and novels, etc.

To use a blog as a weapon to attack someone sounds dangerously close to misuse of the facility. After all, you can completely control replies made to whatever you've written on your own blog. It can easily become a one sided argument if you want it to. One blog in particular is very much like this. It is used to snipe at other people the blogger sees as his enemies. Fair targets for his bile. It is a shame, especially as he seems unable and unwilling to allow fair comment in reply to his criticisms and attacks. A one sided argument indeed.

I can pledge now that whatever anyone says on this blog in answer to something I write will be published in full. The only time I would delete any words at all would be if I thought letting them stay in full would leave me open to being involved with a libel action. And, of course, if writers make personal attacks on other people. Attack me if you like, but leave others out of it. They may not be in a position to reply. Other than that free speech rules.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

World Horror Convention - Stokers

What was the worst, most embarrassing event at the World Horror Convention?

I'm sure, if asked, most people who attended the Stoker Awards banquet, would probably say the video played prior to the awards featuring Debra LeBlanc, the Horror Writers Association current president. It was so bad I must admit I felt embarrassed even to be a member of the HWA.

The HWA President shows how not to make a farewell speech

George and Glenda

Well, I have finished rereading and titivating the text so far in this novel. I am now at the point where I have to write new material - and, hopefully, complete it. This is the tough part, as I have placed all my characters in a complex series of events that will have to be resolved shortly. I have killed off one major character, but deciding who and how the rest will either die or survive is going to be tricky, especially those I have ambivalent feelings about.

Monday 12 April 2010

Deadfall by Shaun Jeffrey

Got a copy of the latest novel by Shaun Jeffrey through the post from him today. Looks very good and I look forward to reading it.

Published by Leucrota Press, it sells for £7.50 and is available on Amazon with free delivery in the UK:

Order Deadfall

Best Horror of the Year - Honourable Mentions

It was nice to see two of my stories published last year (I think they were the only two actually) got honourable mentions in Ellen Datlow's annual Best Horror of the Year.

These were:

Their Own Mad Demons, which was published in The Fifth Black Book of Horror

The Fragile Mask On His Face, published in Dark Discoveries 15

The Black Books did quite well. There were eight mentions in total:

Herbertson, Craig “Leibniz’s Last Puzzle,” The Fifth Black Book of Horror.
McGachey, Daniel M.“’And Still ThoseScreams Resound…’”The Fourth Black Boof Horror
McMahon, Gary “Love is in the Air,” The Fourth Black Book of Horror.
Oliver, Reggie “The Head,” Madder Mysteries/ The Fourth Black Book of Horror.
Probert, John Llewellyn “De Vermis Infestis,” The Fifth Black Book of Horror.
Riley, David A. “Their Own Mad Demons,” The Fifth Black Book of Horror.
Strachen, Ian C. “Starlight Casts No Shadow,” The Fifth Black Book of Horror.
Sutton, David “Dead Water,” The Fourth Black Book of Horror.

Congratulations to Charles Black!

Saturday 10 April 2010

The Horror Fiction of Mary Danby

The energetic Johnny Mains, not satisfied with bringing out the excellent anthology commemorating The Pan Books of Horror, Back from the Dead, now has plans to bring out a collection of the best horror stories by Mary Danby, former editor of The Fontana Books of Great Horror Stories.

Scheduled for publication next year, the collection will include:
Party Pieces
The Engelmayer Puppets
Lorimer’s Bride
Arbor Day
Woodman’s Knot
The Rocking Horse Room
A View of the Sea
The Secret Ones
True Love
The Ghost Writer
Keeping In Touch
The Last Earl
The Haunters
Time after Time
The Vackie
Quid Pro Quo
Harvest Home
The Grey Lady
The Natterjack
Lady Sybil or The Phantom of Black Gables
Nursery Tea
The House Ghosts
The Red Miller
Mr Jones
The Witness
Old Wiggie

Mary Danby: A Biography - by Johnny Mains

Friday 9 April 2010

Clash of the Titans

I'm supposed to be going to the cinema tonight with Dharamn to watch Clash of the Titans. Unfortunately, I've been told it's not very good. Checked a couple of online reviews which seem to back this up. Supposedly the trailer contains all the good bits in the movie. Now I don't know whether to go or not. The trouble is, I have seen films that were panned like this before and found them very, very good. On the other hand, I already had a few doubts about this film...


And I'm glad that I did. Maybe not the best film ever - there aren't many of them! - but it was a good enjoyable romp with some stunning effects and plenty of action. This is the first 3D movie (of the recent ones) I've seen, as I missed Avatar. Well impressed with it. Not as good as last week's Kick Ass, but certainly better than the reviews I read led me to expect.

It was also good to see so many people at the cinema. The place was packed.

George and Glenda

While Linden is going through my latest print-out of The Return with a fine toothcomb (and a very energetic pen!) I have picked up again on a novel I started writing last year called George and Glenda. First of all I am working through the seventy odd thousand words I have already written, rewriting, etc., to get myself back into it, then I intend to complete the remaining ten to fifteen thousand words to finish it. This story is a departure for me, as it's a complex murder novel with no supernatural element at all, concerning the results of a jealous sister's decision to murder her younger, more successful sibling for her money. George and Glenda is its working title and may be changed when it's finished. I don't know. A better alternative hasn't struck me yet.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Zombie Anthology to reprint After Nightfall

Got a letter in the post today from the States with an offer to reprint an old story of mine in an anthology from Random House's Vintage Books imprint. The letter came from Otto Penzler, who is editing a companion volume to The Vampire Archives, which came out last year. The new collection is about zombies and will contain some 60 stories and be about 800 pages in a trade paperback edition.

My story, After Nightfall, was originally published in Dave Sutton's fanzine Weird Window , before being selected by Richard Davis for The Year's Best Horror Stories 1, which was brought out by Sphere Books in the UK and DAW Books in the United States in 1971.

The offer includes a cool $250 in payment. The Zombie anthology is due out in 2011.

The frightening thought is that this is forty years on from when it was first professionally published! And forty years before that Lovecraft was still alive.

British Fantasy Society

Received a package from the BFS through the post yesterday containing the first copy of Prism edited by me, the latest Dark Horizons, and the longlist for voting in the British Fantasy Awards.

It's nice to see Prism out at last. It seems ages since I started work on it. And I'm looking forward to doing the next, which should be out in June. Just hope I can get some really good black and white artwork for the front cover, as I want to steer away from using colour. Not only does this save the BFS money but I think it gives the newsletter a distinctive look against other BFS publications, where colour covers are more appropriate.

The longlist for voting on Best Novel, etc., is a tough one for me this year as I don't seem to have read hardly anything on it. Not enough, anyway, to vote on the best novel, novella, short story, or collections choices, etc. I'm on firmer ground when it comes to the media stuff, the films and TV, but it does show how out of touch I seem to be on the literary side - or at least what was published last year! Of course it is a massive list, and I'm sure hardly anyone will have read much more than a small percentage in any of the sections. That's what I'm telling myself anyway, right or not!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Houses on the Borderland - review

There haven't been many reviews of the BFS paperback, Houses on the Borderland, which seemed to disappear without trace soon after it was published last year. Which is a great shame, as there are some excellent stories in it, particularly Paul Finch's The Retreat - one of his best tales ever.

Anyway, Colin from Tales from the Black Abyss has just posted one on the internet:


Naturally, I am pleased at his comments about my own story in this anthology too, The Worst of All Possible Places.

The Return

I've now made the first 27 chapters of the latest rewrite of this novel available online (see above). If anyone would like to read the rest, I'll send these out as an email attachment.

My intention with this is to write a dark, gritty horror story set in the North West (Lancashire), with Lovecraftian undertones. I would be interested to hear from anyone who reads it just how far they think I have succeeded.

I'll be doing what I hope to be the final rewrite soon. My wife, Linden, is currently working her way through a print out of the novel - and her pen is being very active! She is rutheless and perceptive, and has already spotted a few mistakes/inconsistencies... and some badly mangled sentences.

Back from the Dead - review

D. F. Lewis is doing a real-time review of this homage to the Pan Books of Horror, edited by Johnny Mains.


Tales from the Black Abyss has already done a detailed review of the book:


I like Tales from the Black Abyss's comments on my story, The True Spirit: "David A. Riley’s story is a bit of a slow burner, the first part is all pretty mundane but it’s necessary to set the agenda for the second half. Things soon perk up though and reach an incendiary conclusion."

Sunday 4 April 2010

The Sixth Black Book of Horror - review

Des Lewis has just completed an interesting and perceptive real-time review of The Sixth Black Book of Horror.


For me, the highlight of course was to have my contribution to that volume described as "in your face, brash, gratuitous" and "truly horrific". It was, in fact, a sort of homage to the late Richard Laymon, hence some of the transatlantic aspects to the story and its lack of conscience. Whether I was successful or not in my original intention is up to others to decide.

There are two other reviews of The Sixth Black Book of Horror here:



Kick Ass

Went with my son, Dharamn, on Friday to watch Kick Ass at the local cinema. My wife didn't fancy this - I think the first Hulk movie put her off superhero films - but we had already seen the trailer for Kick Ass when we went to see the disappointing The Wolfman a few weeks ago.

I was half dreading the trailer contained every single good bit from the film but, thankfully, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Kick Ass is one of the funniest, most violent and action-packed superhero spoofs I've ever seen - and a highly entertaining film in its own right. Chloe Moretz as the twelve-year old Hit Girl steals the film, of course. She is truly amazing. And, controversial though some of the language she uses has been, in the context of the movie this made me laugh out loud. Which isn't to say the rest of the cast aren't good too. They are. Including Nicholas Cage as the Batman fixated Big Daddy. Some neat twists in the plot too, which never seems to falter, escalating ever more into further extremes of violence and action. Highly recommended. And one of the few new films I've seen recently I would actually look forward to getting on DVD.

And for anyone who still hasn't seen anything of Kick Ass, here's a trailer on Youtube:

Kick Ass

Liked what we saw of the new Ironman movie on the trailers too.

Saturday 3 April 2010

The Return

I have now added more pages, up to and including chapter 14.

World Horror Convention - a few more pictures

The top two pictures are of the pier and sea across from the convention hotel.

The next is of Ian Alexander Martin, Steve Jones, Johnny Mains, Dave Sutton and Charles Black on a Pan Book of Horror panel.

Below this is James Herbert shaking hands after his Guest of Honour Speech, Steve Jones behind him. Neil Gaiman is also there, stood up.

The bottom picture is almost self explanatory: Dave Carson during his Artist Guest of Honour interview.

We would have taken a lot more pictures but unfortunately the battery for our digital camera developed a fault and wouldn't stay charged for more than a few minutes.

Friday 2 April 2010

The Return

For anyone who is interested I've put the first three chapters of a novel I have written called The Return on this blog. (See the link at the top) I'd be interested to read any comments about it. If there's enough interest, I'll add further chapters later.

I'm in the process of doing what I hope will be the final rewrite.

Thursday 1 April 2010

The Century's Best Horror Fiction

It looks as though at long last the two volumes that make up Cemetery Dance's massive anthology, The Century's Best Horror Fiction will be going to the printers shortly. Edited by John Pelan, the book will contain what the editor chose as the best horror story for each year from 1901 to 2000, and includes every big name in the genre during the entire twentieth century, amongst whom I feel humbled to represent 1970 with my very first professionally published story, The Lurkers in the Abyss, which originally appeared in the 11th Pan Book of Horror.

The Century's Best Horror Fiction

Alongside is the artwork to be used in the books.

Signed up for Fantasycon

This year's WHC in Brighton was so good that, urged on by my wife, we have signed up for this year's Fantasycon in Nottingham this September.


Although I used to be a regular convention attendee from the early seventies (starting with Eastercon in London in 1970 when the GoH was the late James Blish), over the last fifteen years I have only attended one, and for just one day. Perhaps I'd been to too many and got burned out. Or just got out of the habit. I don't really know.

I suppose as editor again of the BFS newsletter, now called Prism for some reason, there's an added incentive. I really should get to know my fellow members of the BFS and its committee better. Also, perhaps more importantly for me, my writing output shrank to almost nothing for over a decade and it was only a couple of years ago that I started writing again. Since then I have probably written more than in all the years previous, finishing the first draft of one novel and with two others almost finished, not to mention a number of short stories and novellas. Having a break from writing, though, I'm sure was beneficial. I feel reinvigorated. And ready to head off in new directions.

So, going back to my roots in the BFS and attending conventions once more, is almost like being given a new lease of life. There are new faces as well as many old ones there, but if anything the atmosphere is even more relaxed and friendly now, while the growth in the small presses, which are incredibly professional in their standards, is one of the most impressive developments I have ever seen and an important feature in our genre today, especially with few mainstream publishers touching it.

The future looks good.

Internet Rage

While I was at the World Horror Convention talking with Des Lewis our conversation turned to a certain person who had threatened to attend but, apparently, didn't. This person regularly gets himself barred from internet forums and discussion groups and now runs a blog of his own, where he rambles on about what he perceives as cliques and cronyism within our genre. Des came up with the pertinent phrase "internet rage" to describe this person's behaviour online and we agreed that, almost certainly, on a personal level he was probably totally different, even likeable, but changed online - just as some people change behind the wheel of a car.

All of us to some extent probably change too, though few to the same degree.

It is easy, though, to forget that people we are dealing with online are real, have feelings too, and can be easily hurt by what we write. I've seen this several times - and I know, too, how easy it is to get drawn into going further and saying far worse things to and about people online, things we would never even dream of saying face to face.

Perhaps that's something we should think about before saying things here.

And perhaps it would have been better if the individual I mentioned at the start of this had actually turned up at the WHC. Perhaps he might have begun to reconsider some of the things he says about far too many people if he actually took the opportunity to meet them.


Or am I being unrealistically charitable?