Sunday 31 October 2010

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

We arrived back home earlier tonight after one of the best weekends we've spent away for ages. The Halifax Ghost Story Festival was a tremendous success and credit must be given to those who organised and took part in it. Tomorrow Lin and I will give a report on it. In the meantime, here are a few photos:

Mark Morris, Conrad Williams, Nicholas Royle and Stephen Volk

Reggie Oliver

Jeremy Dyson reading Robert Aickman's The Inner Room

Dean Clough, site of the festival. This used to be the world's largest carpet manufacturer.

The Ten-headed King from the Annapurna Indian Dance show, After Life

TV director, Lawrence Gordon Clark (right) being interviewed inbetween screening of three of his famous "Ghost Stories for Christmas" produced for the BBC in the 1970s - Lost Hearts, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas and A Warning to the Curious. 

Friday 29 October 2010

Alice the Musical

Here is a link to ReAct Academy to see pictures of the rehearsals for Alice the Musical.

Quiet lately

I haven't entered many new subjects this week. That's because I've been busy with other things, notably my wife's annual tax return, a VAT return on the bookshop and creating props for my daughter, Cassandra's forthcoming production at the Oswaldtwistle Arts Centre of Alice the Musical. I have been making a ridiculously large tea pot and cups out of papiermache, which, as anyone who has ever done this before will know, is a long drawn out, slow process. Still a lot to do on it, including a final sanding, then painting.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Halifax Ghost Story Festival - Halloween

It's only a few day away before we're off to Halifax for a weekend of ghosts and ghouls at Dean Clough.

The Halifax Ghost Story Festival.

I'll be posting pictures and a write-up of the event as soon as we get back, and do a piece about it for the next issue of Prism.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Family Birthday Celebration for Alan and Mark

We had a great family meal at the Agra Indian Restaurant, Hapton, near Burnley last night to celebrate the birthdays of Cassie's husband, Alan, and Christy's best friend, Mark.

Saturday 23 October 2010

With Deepest Sympathy - Johnny Mains

Gun Money is a strange ghost story of Ireland's recent, very troubled past, the days of its Civil War and the assassination of Michael Collins. This and a modern scrounger who cheats his way through life - till he tries to cheat the dead, and finds they're not so easily cheated.

The mood swings completely with the next much shorter tale, Jesus Wept, an amusing piece of blasphemy which would ensure, if known, make Johnny's reception in religious quarters more than warm. Quite a grab bag of jokes too, mixed in with some quite horrific descriptions, clipped, colourful and always spot on. Hard core drugs and Christianity in the form of a junky Jesus Christ, who may or may not be real - at least to the narrator. With a comical punchline, which made me laugh at least.

The Bag Lady is a much more serious story, a true horror about a murderous old woman with a big red bag. Told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy, it's a dark, grisly tale of child murder and the supernatural.

Thursday 21 October 2010

With Deepest Sympathy - Johnny Mains

The title story, With Deepest Sympathy, has Mrs Primrose Hildebrand, who could have been the Miss Marple of her community, but instead turns her talents to poison pen letters, with dire consequences, in the amputatory department. You can see Johnny's love for the nastiest side of the Pan horrors here. And a wicked sense of humour.

The Spoon, on the other hand, is just a one page joke at the expense of Uri Geller - who, seemingly, was amused by it! 10 out of 10 for originality and chutzpah if nothing else.

Next up, the longer Gun Money, which sounds just up my street.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Prism - December Issue

I don't know what it is but since it was decided by the new BFS chairman, David Howe, that Dark Horizons/New Horizons and Prism would be put together in one publication, I have lost a lot of my former enthusiams for editing Prism. I think a lot of this is because now I won't be required to design the layout of Prism for the printer. All that will be done by someone else, possibly someone connected with PS Publishing, who seem to be taking over more and more of the production side of BFS publications under the new regime.

I must admit that designing the layout for Prism was always one of the aspects of editing it which I enjoyed the most and from which I gained most of my job satisfaction. To have all this handed over to some anonymous person who will decide all this above my head, leaves me completely underwhelmed.

I wonder if this is how the editors for Dark Horizons/New Horizons feel. Stephen Theaker, of course, who was editor for DH, has since stepped down and I have no idea who the new editor will be.

How well all this will work out I'm far from sure. The plan is, instead of having separate soft cover publications, to combine them all into one bumper hardback. To be honest, this all sounds very risky financially, and already there is talk of increasing the society's subs.

I'll give the new setup a try for the next few months, then consider my position. It will depend for a large part on how well it all works out - and just what the finished product looks like. Though there are other aspects too, which I don't want to go into yet.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Alice the Musical

There's been a slight adjustment to the poster:

With Deepest Symathy by Johnny Mains

Got my inscribed copy yesterday from Johnny - and what a nicely printed, attractive collection this is! A genuine bargain for £9.99.

Only read the first story so far, A Return to the Judge's House, but I must say I like Johnny's clean, straighforward, unpretentious style. A real change from some of the stuff I've been reading recently. Obverse have done an excellent job on this book, which looks deceptively slim but stands at over 180 pages.

Observe Books

Friday 15 October 2010

With Deepest Sympathy - Johnny Mains

Just ordered a copy of Johnny's collection from Obverse Books. Only £9.99 plus postage and packing. Looking forward to reading this when it arrives.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Interesting news about Hammer Films and TV

The BBC have a report about plans for Hammer to embark again in producing a TV series, like The Hammer House of Horror and Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense in the 1980s.

That's great news, after their first film venture in Let Me In and the DVD release of Beyond the Rave.

I must admit I have always been a keen fan of the Hammer films. I have virtually every single one of their horror, thriller and even crime films on DVD. It will be nice to add more new ones to my collection!

Once a Catholic

Last night Lin, our middle daughter, Christy, and I went to watch Once a Catholic at the Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre, which is just across the road from where we live. It was put on by the Oswaldtwistle Players and, as usual for them, it was an outstanding production, even on its first night. A packed audience too, which was brilliant.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Malicious Deviance - Stories About Bad People

This is the proposed cover for the anthology Malicious Deviance, edited by Robert Essig for Library of the Living Dead. My story, They Pissed On My Sofa, will be included in it.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

The Last Coach Trip

My recently finished story, The Last Coach Trip, has now been accepted for publication, but I'm not at liberty to say just yet where it will be published.

Monday 11 October 2010

Alice the Musical

Alice - The Musical

This timeless classic is wonderfully retold in a creative combination of song and dance, narrative and drama.

Performance dates at The Civic Arts Centre -

Wednesday 1st - Friday 3rd December at 7pm.

Saturday 4th December at 2.30pm.

Tickets now available from Tickets are priced at £5.

This is the first production put on at the Civic Arts Centre by my daughter, Cassandra's new theatrical arts academy.

Thursday 7 October 2010

The Lurkers in the Abyss - Midnight House

There has been a long delay in this collection being published. Unfortunately, John Pelan, who is the man behind Midnight House, has had a tough time for the past couple of years. However, I received an email from him today which confirms that publication of my collection will be imminent in the next few months or so.

I know from the quality of those Midnight House books I already have in my collection, that the wait will be more than worth it when Lurkers in the Abyss finally appears. The quality of these books is second to none.

Curiously, one of the stories from that collection, After Nightfall, will be published in The Zombie Archives, edited by Otto Penzler for Random House, while Out of Corruption continually gets republished in Steve Jones's Mammoth Book of Zombies, which has appeared under several variations of that title in the UK, the US, Italy and now Russia! Even the title story will appear in Cemetery Dance's long-awaited Century's Best Horror Fiction sometime soon.

His Pale Blue Eyes

My zombie story, His Pale Blue Eyes, has been accepted by Johnny Mains for a forthcoming anthology from Obverse Books, tentatively titled Plugged Into the Mains, along with stories by Reggie Oliver, Conrad Williams and, hopefully, though it's not confirmed yet, David Case. All going well, the book should be published in January.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Monday 4 October 2010

Prism - December Issue

I've started work on the next issue of Prism. The deadline for this is a bit earlier after all the changes that have taken place over its production. Normally I would have sent it off to the printers around the 18th November. Now, because someone else will be doing the layout, it needs to be off to the BFS chairman by the end of this month, three weeks earlier.

It's also strange not to be doing the layout, because that's something I would be doing as an ongoing task while setting everything out. Just saving everything on separate files, ie cover, inside front cover, editorial, each column, such as Ramsey Campbell's, John Probert's, Mark Morris's etc., film reviews, book reviews, etc, etc., then saving each picture under a separate name to be inserted by someone else, all this feels odd, and a bit of a separation for me from the finished product. I must admit I would prefer to continue doing the layout myself. But it remains to be seen what the finished product looks like under this new arrangement. I certainly don't want to be seen as a Luddite, even though I do prefer a full hands-on approach to this myself rather than rely upon someone else to decide upon its final appearance.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Over-Hyped Books

I posted this on the All Hallows site, causing some discussion:

I have no objection at all to beautiful books, even ones that sometimes seem extravagantly expensive, and I have a number in my collection I would never part with. What I find incomprehensible is when a publisher, as has happened recently, publishes a leather bound version of someone's book when the writing is awful - or, at best, pedestrian, uninteresting and downright awkward. Especially when this is a slim book, padded out with extraneous material that needn't be there. It really makes me wonder what goes through the heads of publishers like this that they would go to such lengths for material that would be lucky to get into even a 4luv publication with a discerning editor. I just pity those who spend hundreds of dollars for something that never merited anything better than a POD paperback at best. Of which there is one also available - and which I now begrudge having bought.

Romero's Children

This story, in Charle's Seventh Black Book of Horror, has received some nice comments, usually that the reader wished the story had been longer, they were enjoying it so much. Which is nice to hear.

The best comment so far, though, has come from Stephen Bacon on the Ramsey Campbell Message Board, where he said my story was heartbreaking. "I didn't want it to end the way it did."

I can honestly say that no one has ever said that about one of my stories before. Thanks, Steve. That's really appreciated.

Friday 1 October 2010

Prism - an update

It looks as though my concerns for the future of the BFS Newsletter, Prism, were perhaps unfounded. After discussing things with the new BFS chairman, David Howe, I certainly feel better about the journal's future.

What I have decided to do is take a new look at its role within the BFS. Without the news and reviews sections, there are the regular columns by Ramsey Campbell, Mark Morris and John Probert. On top of these I aim to have at least two in-depth interviews per issue, plus articles on various aspects of the genre. I also intend to do regular columns covering as many of the professional magazines being published in the fantasy, SF, horror genres, something that has only ever received meagre attention before to my knowledge. There are a lot of small presses around today, and it would be interesting to have articles about these, discussing how they were set up, what their ambitions are and the kinds of books they publish. I would also like to cover something of the vast array of websites that specialise in these genres. With the space left vacant by the reviews section, there's scope for all of this. There will still be some reviews, but probably of books or writers that will not date. It would be interesting to see people discuss various writers or artists from the past, covering their lives and works in detail and perhaps controversially too.

These are all possibilities.

And there'll be more.

My task now will be to see how I can develop a revamped Prism and make sure it is as interesting and valuable to BFS members as possible.