Thursday 30 September 2010

Prism's Days Look Numbered

Ever since the BFS AGM there has been discussion about the future for the society's regular publications, Dark Horizons, New Horizons and Prism.

Under the society's new chairman, David Howe, it looks as if it's certain now that Prism, the BFS Newsletter will be merged into the other publications. The likely result will be, I think, that the reviews will go, for the most part, online on the BFS website, and the articles will end up inside DH and NH.

Although it is suggested that these will go in as a supplement, since both publications already do articles and interviews, I can't see why there is any need for these to appear as a "supplement" at all, rather than just merged in as part and parcel of the publication. In which case, really, Prism as such will disappear.

I can't say I'm not disappointed at this as I have enjoyed my brief time as Prism's editor and did hope to make it a periodical members would look forward to getting through the post. But financial considerations do seem to make this the only alternative - and reviews online will appear much quicker than they could in a quarterly publication.

Oddly enough, I was there at the very beginning in the early seventies when the bulletin went from being a mimeographed sheet into a proper, substantial litho-printed publication for the first time, and it seems as if I'll now see out its demise.

Whether there will be a December issue of Prism I am not sure. If it is, that will probably be the final one.

After that, I suppose, I'll be back to being an ordinary member of the BFS again.

Susan Hill Says No One Writes Ghost Stories Set In Modern Times???

Saw this on the Ramsey Campbell Message Board about Susan Hill talking about her latest ghost story novel on Radio 4. I really, really wonder about the vanity of some people. For someone who sets great store on her ghost story novels, you would think she would at least do a little research, or does she really believe she is unique?

Even if she doesn't have much of an opinion for some God damned reason for writers like Ramsey Campbell, to take just one example (though she should have!), what about Kingsley Amis's The Green Man?

Vanity, vanity, vanity.

Or just a load of pretentious old bollocks.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

BFS Open Night - Manchester - Sunday 5th December

I have just learned that BFS chairman, David Howe, has managed to book a venue for a BFS Open Night in Manchester on Sunday the 5th December at The Lass O'Gowrie Pub.

It's address is 36 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB.

It starts at 6.00 p.m. onwards.

Although Sunday night is not ideal, it's better than nothing. I'll be driving there, so it's an alcohol free night for me.

For ongoing information about this event check out this link to the BFS site.

The Seventh Black Book of Horror

There's an interesting discussion of the Seventh volume here on the Vault of Evil, including some reviews of the stories inside it.

Thursday 23 September 2010


You know some stories end so easily. It's there. It's finished. And not a word needs altering.


I'm afraid Lucilla is one of those. Spent a lot of today working and reworking the final pages.

I think I need to put it to one side for a while. Look at it in a few months time, refreshed.

Wednesday 22 September 2010


Having decided that this story wasn't right to be much longer than a novella, I finally finished the first draft tonight, drawing it to a conclusion at 25,700 words.

The final part will need some revision before it will be finally finished, and perhaps putting to one side for several months. Other than that, I am happy with it.

Monday 20 September 2010

Russian Website: Лаборатория Фантастики

It looks as if my piece about The Mammoth Book of Zombies being published in Russia has been picked up on a Russian website, Лаборатория Фантастики (Laboratory of the Fantastic is my best translation), which is fantastic in itself.

The Mammoth Books of Zombies/The Monster Book of Zombies

Further to my comments about the Russian version of this anthology yesterday, which has been republished in various places under different titles, I have been informed by S

Chris Barker

In earlier threads I have written about Chris Barker.
FantasyCon 2010, though, was the first time I actually had the opportunity to meet him, when I spotted him, stood at one end of the hotel bar, chatting with Reggie Oliver. Not to my surprise, when I went up to him and introduced myself, I found him a really nice bloke. I had already noticed his blogsite, horrorwatch, had closed down. I am glad it has. It's been my opinion, rightly or not, that he does not handle internet debates very well. He is much better to talk to face to face. He is also a much better writer than I think those who have become bitter enemies of his would like or imagine.

Anyway, I'm glad to have met Chris Barker, after having occasionally sparred with him in the past, and been able to shake hands at last.

Click on this link to see my comments on Chris Barker's story, The Melancholy Haunting of Nicholas Parkes.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Out of Corruption published in Russia

One of the biggest surprises I got over the weekend at FantasyCon was Steve Jones coming over to me with a hardbound book called Zombi, (ЗОМБИ) which is a Russian version of The Mammoth Book of Zombies, which contains my novella Out of Corruption (Из Тлена).

This is a beautiful book, with gilt patterning on the cover and spine, and is without a doubt the most impressive version of that collection yet.

One of the best things about Steve is the fact that he does his very best to make sure that every author in his anthologies gets a copy of every version published anywhere in the world. For which, especially on this occasion, I am very grateful.

FantasyCon 2010

We have only just arrived home a couple of hours ago from FantasyCon 2010, so I'm not really up to sayiong too much about it yet, except that this was one of the best, most interesting and well-organised conventions I have ever been too. It was also great to meet so many interestsing and nice people.

Anyway, as an appetiser here are a few photos we took there:

Joel Lane & Allyson Bird and some of the authors of the anthology Never Again at its signing

Lisa Tuttle, Garry Kilworth and Guy Adams

Lisa Tuttle being interviewed by Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones, Jo Fletcher, Marc Gascoigne & Jonathan Oliver

John L. Probert reads His Beautiful Hands by Oscar Cook at the Pan Book of Horror launch

John L. Probert and Johnny Mains at the Pan Book of Horror launch

Some of the people at the Pan Book of Horror launch

Some more of the guests at the PBH launch

Johnny Mains and Charlie Black at the PBH launch.

Reggie Oliver & John L. Probert at the PBH launch

Joel Lane, Les Edwards and Stephen Jones discussing Robert E. Howard

Ramsey Campbell, Mike Chinn, Joel Lane, Les Edwards & Stephen Jones discussing Robert E. Howard

Alasdair Stuart interviews SF author Peter F. Hamilton

Bryan Talbot discussing the anthropomorphic tradition in art

The FantasyCon committee relaxing after it is all over with a few well deserved drinks

Thursday 16 September 2010

BFS Publications: advertising rates

The BFS produces three publications:

Prism, the quarterly newsletter, which has reviews, articles and interviews.

Dark Horizons, a half-yearly magazine specialising in fiction, poetry, articles and interviews.

New Horizons, a half-yearly magazine specialising in fiction, poetry, articles and interviews.

Advertising rates are very reasonable:

£20 for full page

£12 for half-page

£7.50 for quarter-page

£35 back cover
Anyone interested should follow this link.

Self-Promotion - Does it sometimes go too far?

Mark Samuels has raised some interesting issues on his blog about the amount of self promotion that goes on these days amongst various writers.

Mark says: "I’m finding it increasingly difficult to drum up enthusiasm within myself for the horror/weird fiction genre right now. It’s not the literature itself that depresses me, it’s the insular self-obsessed promotional circus that surrounds it. I know there are good talented folk in there, but, by heaven, they’re not the ones making the most noise."

I must admit I do have a certain amount of sympathy for what he says. I've noticed on the BFS Forum (and elsewhere) that some people (a minority) only seem to find the energy to post something when it's about themselves and never say anything about other writers or about anything else in fact. A bit of self promotion is all very good - and these days writers do need to use their voice if they're to be noticed. But some do take this too far. Whether this ultimately does them any good or not, I'm unsure. When I see certain posts from some of the worst culprits, I must admit I avoid them like the plague.

Mark adds: "It used to be acceptable to hold the view that if you were talented enough, you didn’t have to talk about your work; others would do so."

Maybe, but there is a kind of quid pro quo attitude, and unless you are prepared to talk about others, I don't think many will talk about you either. Of course when that happens it's called back-slapping or cronyism which is perhaps regarded even worse than self-promotion!

I like to hope that Mark's attitude is the right one. But message boards aren't the place to find it. That's in reviews by people who don't have an axe to grind, like She Never Slept  or The Black Abyss or in journals like Prism.

Edited to add Weirdmonger too, the unique D. F. Lewis, whose reviews, especially his Real-Time ones, are so enjoyable if sometimes mystifying to read!

FantasyCon 2010

I shan't be posting much on here for several days after today as I'll be at FantasyCon in Nottingham.

Lin and I'll be driving there, along with several boxes of Charles Black's Black Books of Horror, the 7th volume of which was delivered to us yesterday by the printer. Only had a brief look at the new one so far, but the opening story by Thana Niveau is a cracker: dark, gloomy, unsettling and downright creepy.

There are lots of interesting talks, interviews, discussions, readings, etc at the convention - as usual - though as usual I have managed not to volunteer for any of them!

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Guide to Literary Agents

I have just added a link to Guide to Literary Agents for any writers who read this blog who are after getting an agent. I've been advised this is a good blog to look at for useful information.

Beyond the Rave

At last my long ordered copy of the DVD, Beyond the Rave, has arrived from Of course I wanted this primarily because it was the first new Hammer film for 25 years. The big question is, just how much like a Hammer film is it? 

That's a hard one to answer. It certainly wasn't a return to the familiar late Victorian era so favoured in many of Hammer's vampire and Frankenstein movies.On the other hand, Hammer was never worried about updating things either. i.e. Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, not to mention all their psychological thrillers, etc. In that sense, this modern day vampire film was certainly more effective than Dracula AD 1972. And it had a good, wide-ranging cast of character actors, from the squadie on his last day of freedom before being sent off to help the invasion of Iraq, the drug-dealing, thuggish gangsters, the 700-year old vampire who could be oddly charming one moment and a cold-blooded killer within as many seconds as it takes me to type this out, plus many others. I enjoyed it, especially the bonus episode where three of the vampires seek sanctuary overnight in a very odd boarding house. It certainly had touches of the dark humour I always associate with Hammer, while the violence was definitely graphic - and sometimes deliberately funny too - the two-fingered defiance of one of the gangsters in his dying moments was a stand out one for me. 

I believe the new Hammer are making the English-language version of  Let the Right One In, renamed Let Me In. If they do it as well as they did this I would be more than satisfied.

Was it old Hammer? No. Too many years have passed for it to be that. But in any case the old Hammer was constantly evolving as censorship and public tastes - and tolerances - changed. Compare the late fifties Frankenstein and Dracula with Hammer's productions by the early seventies. If Hammer had not ceased film production, I could believe that Beyond the Rave would have been the kind of film they would have been bringing out today. So, yes, it could be Hammer to me. It was very British. It had humour. It had violence and blood. It had some extremely good character actors. Those are the things I always associate with Hammer. And this film had them all.

 The DVD has loads of extras which I haven't had time to look at yet, though I shall very soon.

Recommended for anyone who likes a truly bloody, very British vampire film.

Friday 10 September 2010

Prism - September Issue

Slightly disappointed with one or two things about the printing of the current issue of Prism. Although I enclosed a printed copy of the magazine when I sent the disc to the printers, one or two errors in formatting still occured. The worst for me was that, in the review section, the titles of a couple of the items under review appeared at the foot of the preceding page instead of at the top of the next, along with the review. This looks sloppy and is something I am always especially careful about. It's something I would have hoped the printer wouldn't have let creep into their version of it, especially when they could have compared this to the correct version I provided them with. Too late now, of course, but I'll have to mention this tactfully when I send the next one to them. 

The other thing is that the pictures have this time come out a bit dark, hiding some of the details. The last issue was perfect in this regard.

I want to make sure that these things are sorted out from now on, especially for the next, which I want to make special for the end of the year.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

The Pan Book of Horror Stories

Congratulations to my friend Johnny Mains, who has single handedly been responsible for Pan reissuing their very first Pan Book of Horror Stories, just over 50 years after it was originally published. The only difference is the size of the book, which is larger than the original, and the inclusion of an introduction by Johnny all about the Pan series.

This is a picture of the advance copies Johnny was sent:

Let's hope that this is a great success and Pan are encouraged by it to restart the series. With Johnny Mains at the helm!

The Halifax Ghost Story Festival - 29th - 31st October 2010

We've now booked into the Travelodge at Dean Clough for the weekend. It's not only an event we wouldn't want to miss, but it's also our wedding anniversary too. So this is a treat to ourselves.

The Seventh Black Book of Horror

Charles Black has just released the list of contents for the next Black Book of Horror. And, I must admit, it's nice company to be in!

THE PIER  Thana Niveau
IT BEGINS AT HOME  John Llewellyn Probert
REST IN PIECES  David Williamson
TELLING  Steve Rasnic Tem
SWELL HEAD  Stephen Volk
THE CREAKING  Anna Taborska
TED’S COLLECTION  Claude Lalumière
NEW TEACHER  Craig Herbertson

Prism - September Issue

Just received my copies from the printers, so the rest will be on their way to the BFS Stockholder for distribution to the society's members, along with Dark Horizons, within the next day or so. This is the third I've done since I took over as editor. Looking forward to the next issue, the Christmas one, which I want to make something special.

The Halifax Ghost Story Festival - October 29th-31st, 2010

The Halifax Ghost Story Festival takes place over three days at the end of October. Some of the participants include Mark Valentine (Tartarus Press), Mark Morris, Stephen Volk, Conrad Williams, Nicholas Royle, and Chris Priestley, etc.

One of the highlights for me is Sunday when the following M. R. James adaptations will be screened:

Afternoon sessions

In The Crossley Gallery

The Ghost Stories of MR James: from Print to Film

2pm-6.15pm (screenings and interview)
Victorian writer and scholar MR James devoted his life to writing ghost stories, creating atmospheric and macarbre tales which set the benchmark for the genre (and which sometimes displayed James’s very dark sense of humour). The Stalls of Barchester was the first of James’s short stories to be adapted as part of the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas strand between 1971 and 1978. This Sunday’s four hour homage looks at the work of key director Lawrence Gordon Clark, who filmed that very first adaptation and whose work is revered to this day.
Tickets: £7 all-day film pass

In The Crossley Gallery

Triple Bill: Classic Films from the MR James Ghost Story for Christmas Series

Three of Lawrence Gordon Clark’s landmark MR James films: a powerful, evocative blend of pre-digital film skills, superb acting and masterly direction.
All-day film pass: only £7
Triple Bill:

The Ash Tree

Dir. Lawrence Gordon Clark GB 1975. 32 mins (adv PG)
Edward Petherbridge, Preston Lockwood, Barbara Ewing, Lalla Ward, Lucy Griffiths, David Pugh
Edward Petherbridge delivers a brilliantly restrained turn as Sir Richard Fell, the new squire of Castringham Hall. In this rarely-screened MR James adaptation, the sins of the father (or in this case, the great-uncle) are visited on a new generation. Soon after his arrival at Castringham Hall, Sir Richard is plagued by visions of the past, and strange noises emanate from the old ash tree outside his bedroom window. It is said that MR James’ own terror of spiders could have been the inspiration for this sinister tale.

Lost Hearts

Dir. Lawrence Gordon Clark GB 1973. 35 mins (adv PG)
Simon Gipps-Kent, Joseph O’Connor, James Mellor, Christopher Davis, Michelle Foster
An orphan is sent to live with his elderly, well-to-do cousin, only to discover that this ancient relative is a predatory madman with a secret life that involves the search for immortality. Clark’s faithful re-telling of James’s short story is a gruesome little gem, and powerfully delivered.

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas

Dir. Lawrence Gordon Clark GB 1974. 37 mins (adv PG)
Michael Bryant, John Herrington, Paul Lavers, Frank Mills, Peggy Aitchison, Sheila Dunn, Anne Blake, Viriginia Balfour
A professor follows clues left in a university library during his search for the lost treasure of alchemist Abbot Thomas. However, the professor’s greed, combined with his skepticism about the supernatural, prove to be his downfall when he fails to heed any warnings about the treasure’s mysterious guardian. This cautionary tale boasts glossy production values and some brilliantly executed shocks. Moreover the closing moments provide some of the most effective chills of the whole Ghost Story for Christmas series
All-day film pass: only £7

Tuesday 7 September 2010

His Pale Blue Eyes - Zombie Story

Finished a new short story today, His Pale Blue Eyes. Despite the title it's a zombie story, though the undead are not the main feature, but a ten-year old girl looking for her parents in a post apocalyptic world. Perhaps that's one of the enduring strengths of the zombie trope, that it creates scope for placing people in extreme situations and seeing how they react to them. In that sense, yes, the zombies are little more than a convenient macguffin.

Anyway, whether anyone else likes this story or not, I enjoyed writing it, especialling creating the main character.

These are the opening paragraphs:

"Her parents had told her to stay indoors. But it was dark and scary. She could hear them, the things she thought of as zombies, even though her parents forbad her to use that word. They were outside, groaning, shuffling, sniffing at the walls. They were nearly always there, especially at night. Allison wondered what they looked like. She had only ever seen them from a distance or on the monitor screens of the CCTV cameras that surrounded the building, but the pictures were monochrome and blurred. Her parents always hid her eyes from the creatures when they took her outside. The last time had been weeks ago. That was before her father found the new place. Allison missed their old home, though. She had lived there almost as long as she could remember. The new place smelt musty, and its walls were damp with growths of fungus. It was boring in here. Every room was the same, what windows it had bricked up with breezeblocks. Her parents called it The Bunker. They tried to make it a joke, but it didn’t seem funny, even if they were safe inside its thick walls and the stainless steel doors her father had installed front and back.

Allison stared at the monitor screens. The creatures were still there. Some of them were staring at the sky or across the grass that surrounded the bunker, where every shrub or tree had been burned by her parents so there was nowhere for them to hide. Allison glanced at the twenty-four hour clock. Her mother and father had been gone for hours now, scavenging for supplies. They were not usually gone so long and Allison had begun to feel worried. She knew that accidents could happen. They had happened to others. They could happen to anyone.

They could even happen to her parents, she knew."

Malicious Deviance edited by Robert Essig

Malicious Deviance
table of contents
1. Taking Out the Trash by Philip Roberts
2. Red Turns to Green by Del James
3. Love Refinished by Jeff Kozzi
4. Bad for Business by Michelle D. Sonnier
5. Shotgun Shelter by Jason Sizemore
6. Better than God by Lancer Kind
7. Margery's Alternative Therapies by Tammi Pratt
8. Gossip Hounds of Sherry Town by James A. Sabata
9. Punishment by Travis Heermann
10. They Pissed on My Sofa by David A. Riley
11. Killing Klaas by Aaron Legler
12. Stalin's Coal Mine by Richard Marsden
13. Six Cases of Beaujolais by John C. Caruso
14. Death and Decay by Natalie L. Sin
15. The Howling of the Wolves by Eric Pinder
16. Urination and Degradation by Keith Gouveia
17. A Wife from Hell by Uri Grey
18. Sea Glass by Jacob A. Boyd
19. Pied Piper by Robert Walford
20. Rats and Rednecks by Rob Rosen
21. El Dentisto que Corta by Mike Norris
22. Goodnight, Francine by Stacy Longo
23. Nil by Barry Rosenberg
24. Mr. Banjo by Tonia Brown
25. The Nasty Club by Jeffery Scott Sims

Monday 6 September 2010

Johnny Mains - With Deepest Sympathy

This is the cover for Johnny's collection from Obverse Books:

Oswaldtwistle Mill Fire

More pictures of the fire and its aftermath.

Fire in Oswaldtwistle Mill

Got woken up in the early hours of the morning by the sounds of a helicopter, which was hovering overhead for ages. No idea why till I saw the news this morning. It must have been monitoring the blaze at a local mill only several hundred yards from where we live. This is a BBC news report about it.

Saturday 4 September 2010

They Pissed on My Sofa - Malicious Deviance

I just heard from editor Robert Essig that my story They Pissed on My Sofa has been accepted for inclusion in the forthcoming anthology Malicious Deviance from Library of the Living Dead. This is an unusual tale for me as it's a non-supernatural horror story. If anything it's a crime horror story. About a man who has finally had enough when vandals not only wreck his house but - as the title says!

The premise for the anthology was as follows:

"I am looking for well written speculative fiction with a heavy horror element focusing on bad protagonists from all walks of humanity. Everyone has the capacity for evil. Some people are born with it while others acquire evil through life's experiences or bad influence. Whatever the reason, I am seeking out stories of bad people doing bad things, meeting bad ends, or even reigning victorious in the end (though I will give preference to the bad guy getting it in the end. I'm not looking to completely glorify evil.) This does go against the lexicon of Good vs. Evil, but I don't give a shit. We're breaking the rules here. Bad people have stories that need to be told, and it's about time they're published in an anthology.

The stories must have a strong horror element, but feel free to cross your genres. I would like to see a good mix of styles and genres as long as horror is at the root of your story. Any time frame is welcome. You can use whatever POV you like, though 2nd and 1st person are a hard sell.
Be creative. Serial Killers, vampires, zombies, werewolves and other such well worn themes must be absolutely fantastic and mind blowing; even then they're a hard sell. I'm looking for all kinds of bad people, not just the ones we are used to reading as antagonists. Remember, anyone can be evil... Anyone.

And above all, be sure your protagonist is BAD, EVIL, DEVIANT, CRIMINAL -- choose your adjective, but if your protagonist isn't a bad person your story will be rejected outright."

Friday 3 September 2010

Johnny Mains - With Deepest Sympathy

My friend Johnny Mains's debut collection With Deepest Sympathy will be published in hardback by Obverse Books around the end of September this year. They have previously published The Panda Book of Horror and The Obverse Book of Ghosts. Johnny's stories have previously appeared in Pantechnicon and The Black Books of Horror. He also published Back From the Dead earlier this year, a hardback tribute to the Pan Horror series and is responsible for Pan Macmillan reissuing the very first Pan Book of Horror later this month in hardback.


A Return to the Judge's House
With Deepest Sympathy
Gun Money
Jesus Wept
The Bag Lady
Falling in Love with a Dead Boy
Losing the Plot
Bloody Conventions
The Spoon
The Trapper
Life through a Lense
The Family Business
Stour Bridge
Final Draft

Even though a hardback the book will cost an amazingly cheap £10.

Thursday 2 September 2010

FantasyCon 2010

Below is a direct link to the dedicated FantasyCon 2010 website:

It's only another 15 days before FantasyCon starts in Nottingham. It's shaping up to look like a really great convention, especially with the lineup of guests and the number of important book launches that are going to tbe held there, including the reissue of the First Pan Book of Horror by Pan Macmillan, which for me is a really important event. The Pan series was a vital part of my early involvement with the genre, along with all the brilliant Four Square (later NEL) anthologies edited by people like August Derleth and Peter Haining. The Pan series, though, was everywhere and I remember that at school battered old copies used to circulate quite frequently. They were cheap and cheerful and sometimes ridiculously outrageous.

This is the last FantasyCon to be held in Nottingham, at least in the foreseeable future. Next year's is to be held in Brighton at the same venue as this year's World Horror Convention. Just how well that will do I don't know. It's quite a distance for anyone further north than Birmingham and I know that when Lin and I went to Brighton this year it took us quite some time to drive there. Not that that bothers me a lot. I'm used to long journeys, and this is nothing compared to when we motor to our house in Bulgaria, two and a half thousand miles away! Even so, I can see numbers being badly affected by this, though I hope not. We shall see.

Anyway, FantasyCon 2010 comes first, and I am looking forward to it.