TALES FROM THE MISKATONIC LIBRARY edited by Darrell Schweitzer and John Ashmead.

2341dfdf44cb4af5a5100ada4b36d83f830e6a70Darrell has managed to gather another great bunch of story tellers, plus artist Jeff Potter to complete the package. Here’s John to tell you more:

Triskaidekaphiliacs rejoice, triskaidekaphobes despair—there are exactly thirteen stories. Quite by coincidence! (and nothing to do with the fact that thirteen is my personal lucky number). And you get intros by both Darrell & myself. Quite a range of stories: funny, grim, grimly funny, paradoxical, and terrifyingly straightforward. Our ultimate criteria was that both Darrell and I enjoyed reading them—and hope you will as well.

And here is the line up

  • Don Webb. “Slowly Ticking Time Bomb”
  • Adrian Cole. “Third Movement”
  • Dirk Flinthart. “To be In Ulthar”
  • Harry Turtledove. “Interlibrary Loan”
  • P. D. Cacek. “One Small Chance”
  • Will Murray. “A Trillion Young”
  • A. C. Wise. “The Paradox Collection”
  • Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen. “The Way to a Man’s Heart”
  • Douglas Wynne. “The White Door”
  • Alex Shvartsman. “Recall Notice”
  • James Van Pelt. “The Children’s Collection”
  • Darrell Schweitzer. “Not in the Card Catalogue”
  • Robert M. Price. “The Bonfire of the Blasphemies”

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BEST NEW HORROR #27

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In this latest edition of THE WORLD’S LONGEST-RUNNING ANNUAL SHOWCASE OF HORROR AND DARK FANTASY you will find cutting-edge stories by such authors as Robert Aickman, Storm Constantine, Gemma Files, Neil Gaiman, John Langan, Helen Marshall and Steve Rasnic Tem, amongst many others, along with the usual OVERVIEW OF THE YEAR IN HORROR and NECROLOGY of those who have left us.

 

Here’s the line-up:

  • Introduction: Horror in 2015 — The Editor
  • The Coffin House — ROBERT AICKMAN
  • The Lake — DANIEL MILLS
  • The Barnacle Daughter — RICHARD GAVIN
  • Exposure — HELEN MARSHALL
  • The Larder — NICHOLAS ROYLE
  • The Seventh Wave — LYNDA E. RUCKER
  • Underground Economy — JOHN LANGAN
  • The Drowning City — LOREN RHOADS
  • The Chapel of Infernal Devotion — RON WEIGHELL
  • Alma Mater — KATE FARRELL
  • Hibakusha — L. P. LEE
  • The Offing — CONRAD WILLIAMS
  • Marrowvale — KURT FAWVER
  • Hairwork — GEMMA FILES
  • Black Dog — NEIL GAIMAN
  • In the Earth — STORM CONSTANTINE
  • In the Lovecraft Museum — STEVE RASNIC TEM
  • Necrology: 2015 — Stephen Jones & Kim Newman

Order yours now.

WE ARE THE MARTIANS: THE LEGACY OF NIGEL KNEALE

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WE ARE THE MARTIANS, conceived, compiled and edited by Neil Snowdon, is a multi-contributor celebration of the life and works of the incomparable Nigel Kneale. The book was originally due to appear from Spectral Press but circumstances caused a re-think. Thus it’s now on the PS schedule for early 2017. Here’s the full line-up:

 

 

  • Foreword – Mark Gatiss
  • Introduction – Neil Snowdon
  • King Of Hauntology – Mark Chadbourn
  • The Literary Kneale – Tim Lucas
  • The Quatermass Conception – Stephen Bissette
  • A Conversation With Judith Kerr – Neil Snowdon
  • On Nigel Kneale – Ramsey Campbell
  • The Quatermass Legacy: A Personal Reflection On Kneale And His Influence – David Pirie

Creeping Unknown Pt1:

  • Wuthering Heights, The Crunch, Nineteen Eighty Four – Kim Newman
  • Phenomena Badly Observed, And Wrongly Explained: Quatermass, The Pit, And Me – John Llewellyn Probert
  • Under The Influence – Maura McHugh
  • A Conversation With Joe Dante – Neil Snowdon
  • Brief Encounter – Stephen Laws
  • Adaptation And Anger, Or The Nigel Kneale-John Osbourne Synthesis – Richard Harland Smith
  • ‘The Promised End’ Nigel Kneale’s Lost Masterpiece from 1963: The Road – Jonathan Rigby
  • A Conversation With Mark Gatiss – Neil Snowdon
  • Cool The Audience, Cool The World: Media, Mind Control & The Modern Family – Kier-La Janisse
  • Pushing The Door He Unlocked: Ghostwatch And The Stone Tape – Stephen Volk
  • Beasts: An Overview – Mark Morris
  • It Would Have Been Suckled, You Know’: Beasts And ‘Baby’ An Appreciation – Jeremy Dyson
  • Quatermass: Rebirth & Ressurection – Jez Winship
  • The Quatermass Conclusion: An Interview With Nigel Kneale – David Sutton.

Creeping Unknown Pt2:

  • Kinvig – Kim Newman
  • In Pursuit Of Unhappy Endings: Chris Burt & Herbert Wise on The Woman In Black – Tony Earnshaw
  • Where’s Kneale When You Need Him- Thana Niveau

Creeping Unknown Pt3:

  • Sharpe’s Gold & Kavanagh QC – Kim Newman
  • On Wishing For A Nigel Kneale Childhood – Lynda E. Rucker

Appendix:

  • The Big, Big Giggle with introduction by Nigel Kneale.
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index

The order pages for WE ARE THE MARTIANS, and the next three Midnight Movie Monographs titles, will be up before the end of the month.

Jack Dann’s Psychological Horror, CONCENTRATION.

aa3204c5531d54ea41677a44c1765612f3259ad1Jack Dann’s groundbreaking anthologies WANDERING STARS and MORE WANDERING STARS used the tropes of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism to ask—and try to answer!—what it means to be a Jew. In this new collection, Jack enlists the techniques of fabulation to illuminate one of the defining events in human history: the Nazi Holocaust. Author and critic Marleen Barr has written that “Dann is a Faulkner and a Márquez for Jews”; and CONCENTRATION is a testament to that claim, for these confronting and thought provoking stories are written from a perspective rarely seen in literature. CONCENTRATION is nothing less than an attempt to describe the indescribable . . . to come to terms with the unthinkable. The Holocaust was so terrible, so far on the edges of comprehension, so surreal, so psychologically cyclonic and horrific in dimension and effect that perhaps it might best be glimpsed through the reflections of metaphor and fantasy.

Dann answers the historian Hayden White’s call to revise our notion of what constitutes realistic representation in order “to take account of experiences that are unique to our century and for which older modes of representation have proven inadequate.”

And given the historical amnesia that seems to characterize our time, a work such as this is also . . . necessary.

And here’s artist Amanda Rainey’s note as to how she came up with the cover idea and design…

My thought process was mostly ruling out a lot of things first. I also didn’t want to risk offending people by using explicit Nazi imagery or anything that might seem like we were making light of the history, or being too glib about it. So I started thinking of a more abstract way of representing the feeling rather than the actual events, and I came up with an infinity symbol made of barbed wire. I think it combines one of the more literal symbols of the concentration camps, and hints at the time travel aspect and the links between past, present and future that Jack’s stories are about.

I then thought that hinting at the Nazi style guide, the solid reds, whites and blacks, but with a softer red, to again hint at the concepts without being too literal with swastikas etc.

The fonts also have historical links. The black letter is obviously suggesting the Nazi style. The other font, Futura, is was part of a set of fonts that were “outlawed” by Hitler, and the designer himself was an anti-Nazi activist. It’s also the font the Americans used for the plaque they left on the moon! So another good symbol of past and future…

Order yours, here.

The Perfect Gifts for Book Lovers

1. DAMAGE by Rosalie Parker

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BUY NOWREAD REVIEWWATCH TRAILER                                                                                                               .

Each of the stories that make up DAMAGE represent a new take on the theme of difference and strangeness in human life. There are elements of traditional horror, fantasy and the supernatural, but also of beauty, humour, compassion and love.

  • In ‘Homecraft’ two children learn to survive in a derelict building;
  • a rock singer deals with her addictions in ‘Siren’;
  • in ‘Selkie: A Scottish Idyll’, the traditional Celtic tale is given a modern twist;
  • the title story follows an asylum-seeker leading a double life;
  • the strange rituals of a group of bird watchers are charted in ‘Boom Bird’;
  • and in ‘Northern Light’ an Icelandic myth unravels in a contemporary setting.

DAMAGE explores the fragility of life and love and how they can sometimes survive against the odds, despite the damage that is done to them.

“Parker is back . . . displaying once again her elegant and perceptive narrative style, but also a high degree of eclecticism in her choice of subjects, atmospheres, and genres.”

2. THE WRACK LINE by Robert Edric

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An isolated stretch of the North Sea coast. A place of endless tides and shifting sands. A place of blurred boundaries, where land, sea and sky merge into seamless, unknowable patterns, and where every calm surface conceals its unexpected, turbulent depths.

A man arrives to spend the overheated summer in an abandoned chalet. Adrift in his own faltering life, he slowly embraces the failed and struggling world in which he unexpectedly finds himself, existing in a kind of limbo between an unfulfilled past and an uncertain future, the days and weeks merging into a season of restless abandonment as he allows himself to be drawn into the deceptively powerful currents of the place.

“Clearly drawing from the stories of both M. R. James and Algernon Blackwood, THE WRACK LINE examines the disorder, apprehension and, ultimately, the fear which forever lies beneath the calmest and most ordinary of surfaces. It is a tale of lost conviction and squandered expectation, and one in which the briefest glance of a shape in the evaporating mist or a handful of fine, warm sand trickling through trembling fingers is equal to any other horror of the world, dreamed, imagined or real.”

3. THE PARTS WE PLAY by Stephen Volk

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An illusionist preparing his latest, most audacious trick . . . A movie fan hiding from a totalitarian regime . . . A pop singer created with the perfect ingredients for stardom . . . A folklorist determined to catch a supernatural entity on tape . . . A dead child appearing to her mother in the middle of a supermarket aisle . . . A man who breaks the ultimate taboo—but does that make him a monster? . . .

In this rich and varied collection of Stephen Volk’s best fiction to date, characters seek to be the people they need to be, jostled by hope, fears, responsibility, fate, and their own inner demons—and desires. These tales of the lies and lives we live and the pasts we can’t forget include the British Fantasy Award-winning novella, NEWSPAPER HEART.

“Stephen Volk is gradually earning the label as a master of the British horror short form. If MONSTERS IN THE HEART gave us a glimpse of this excellence, then THE PARTS WE PLAY has blown the screen door wide open…”

4. THE STONES ARE SINGING by R.B. Russell

BUY NOW

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The view from John Dowson’s living room window is a miniature masterpiece. It reveals Venice in decay; crumbling, soft pink brick, and the ever-changing jade waters of a minor canal. But one morning the composition is marred by an old jacket draped carelessly over the iron railings of the balcony. This almost insignificant alteration to the perfect, arranged order of Dowson’s life is just the first of many changes which become more profound as the days pass.

THE STONES ARE SINGING suggests that even the smallest of changes in our world can hint at parallel existences, and the ability, for some to move between alternative realities.

“A remarkable novella . . . Raymond Russell confirms, once again, his extraordinary talent as a perceptive writer of elegant, subtly disquieting fiction.”

5. THE SEARCHING DEAD by Ramsey Campbell

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Dominic Sheldrake has never forgotten his childhood in fifties Liverpool or the talk an old boy of his grammar school gave about the First World War. When his history teacher took the class on a field trip to France it promised to be an adventure, not the first of a series of glimpses of what lay in wait for the world. Soon Dominic would learn that a neighbour was involved in practices far older and darker than spiritualism, and stumble on a secret journal that hinted at the occult nature of the universe. How could he and his friends Roberta and Jim stop what was growing under a church in the midst of the results of the blitz? Dominic used to write tales of their exploits, but what they face now could reduce any adult to less than a child…

Ramsey Campbell recently returned to the Brichester Mythos for his novella THE LAST REVELATION OF GLA’AKI. His new trilogy THE THREE BIRTHS OF DAOLOTH further develops the cosmic horrors he invented in his first published book, THE INHABITANT OF THE LAKE. THE SEARCHING DEAD is the first volume, to be followed by BORN TO THE DARK.

“A novel which looks set to become one third of Campbell’s masterpiece: a trilogy about who he is as a man and what he’s always striven to achieve as an author.”

6. LIMERICKS OF THE ALARMING AND PHANTASMAL by Ramsey Campbell

Ever mischievous, Ramsey Campbell has delighted his fans—and certainly the team here at PS Towers—by regaling them with a staggering ability to limmer (or whatever the verb might be for producing small five-line rhymes designed to amuse and promote groans). Able to create these mini poem-ettes at the drop of a hat (or even a cleaver), it didn’t take much to persuade him to fill an entire book and, furthermore, for us to approach the equally prolific Pete Von Sholly to come up with some illustrations to boot.

 

Let me hope this collection of folly

Leaves the reader less saddened than jolly.

It might well be a mess

If it weren’t for PS

And the equally great Pete Von Sholly.

 As you’ll very soon see when you look,

All the names of the tales have been took.

If not knowing the titles

Should nibble your vitals,

There’s a list at the end of the book.

7. QUIETER PATHS by Alison Littlewood

Take the paths less travelled, to the flooded caves of Mexico, the remote forests of Croatia and the vibrant cities of Morocco. Discover the secrets whispered by a Neolithic stone circle and the ancient tales of Ilkley Moor.

Alison Littlewood’s brand of quiet dark fiction will lead you through lands rooted in myth, legend and mystery. Alison’s short stories have been picked for Best British Horror 2015The Best Horror of the Year and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies.

8. A WIZARD’S HENCHMAN by Matthew Hughes

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Erm Kaslo is at the top of his game: a hardboiled confidential operative in the ultra-high-tech civilization of The Ten Thousand Worlds that spans the entire galactic arm known as The Spray. But the universe is about to arbitrarily change its fundamental operating premise from science to magic. Technology will cease to function and all of Kaslo’s hard-won skills and abilities will be useless.

As the change nears, a handful of would-be wizards are jockeying for position in the coming race for supremacy, squabbling over the few ancient books and paraphernalia that survive from the long-forgotten age when magic last ruled the cosmos.  Kaslo goes to work for Diomedo Obron, a wealthy dilettante with more money than common sense who hopes to emerge as a powerful thaumaturge.

But there’s worse to come: an ancient evil has been biding its time for millennia, waiting for the age of science to end. Now, its moment finally arrived, it reaches out from another plane to strike with deadly force. And only Kaslo can stop it—if he can live long enough.

“Hughes has been the best-kept secret in science fiction for too long: he’s a towering talent.”

“If you’re an admirer of the science fantasies of Jack Vance, it’s hard not to feel affection for the Archonate stories of Matthew Hughes.”

9. THE FIENDS OF NIGHTMARIA by Steven Erikson

The king is dead, long live King Bauchelain the First, crowned by the newly en-cassocked Grand Bishop Korbal Broach. Both are, of course, ably assisted in the running of the Kingdom of Farrog by their slowly unravelling manservant, Emancipor Reese.

However, tensions are mounting between Farrog and the neighbouring country of Nightmaria, the mysterious home of the Fiends. Their ambassador, Ophal D’Neeth Flatroq, seeks an audience with King Bauchelain who has thus far rebuffed his overtures. But, the evil necromancer has some other things on his plate.

In order to quell potential rebellion nearly all the artists, poets, and bard wannabes in the city have been put to death, however a few survivors from the Century’s Greatest Artist competition languish in the dungeons bemoaning their fates. Well, just moaning in general really… and maybe plotting escape and revenge. An added complication is that the Indifferent God is loose somewhere in the bowels of the castle.

10. THE SINS OF ANGELS by Keith Miller

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When literary and detective agent George Zacharias finds a fallen angel on a Cairo street, his first thought is profit. Zacharias and his sidekick, Tomo, hide the angel as they try to figure out who she is and where she came from. However, they soon find themselves pursued by sinister forces.

Terrified, the two hapless detectives flee with their catch, first to the city’s seedy underbelly, then into the desert, where they take refuge in a hidden monastery. There is no escape from their pursuer, however, for he is Lucien Yaldabaoth, the prince of darkness. As Zacharias slowly pieces together the angel’s story and uncovers Yaldabaoth’s nefarious purposes, he realizes there is more at stake than he had imagined.

“Written in a terse, noir style, the evocative mix of the mundane and the fabulous has a dreamlike quality.”

 

Browse through other titles for more amazing gift ideas on our website. 

CENTRAL STATION by Lavie Tidhar

We’ve been blown away by the response from critics, fans, reviewers, blogs, fanzines to CENTRAL STATION, Lavie Tidhar’s latest SF masterpeice. Publishers Weekly and Library Journal both gave it starred reviews, whilst Gardner Dozois, editor of the bestselling Year’s Best Science Fiction series says “If you want to know what SF is going to look like in the next decade, this is it.”

And from Locus; “Central Station combines a cultural sensibility too long invisible in SF with a sensibility which is nothing but classic SF, and the result is a rather elegant suite of tales.”

“Some of Tidhar’s finest writing. Verdict: Come to Central Station and allow yourself to be enveloped in its embrace,” says Sci-Fi Bulletin.

But don’t just take their word for it. See for yourself. Here’s an extract:3d-central-station-slipcase

PROLOGUE

I came first to Central Station on a day in winter. African refugees sat on the green, expressionless. They were waiting, but for what, I didn’t know. Outside a butchery, two Filipino children played at being airplanes: arms spread wide they zoomed and circled, firing from imaginary under-wing machine guns. Behind the butcher’s counter, a Filipino man was hitting a ribcage with his cleaver, separating meat and bones into individual chops. A little farther from it stood the Rosh Ha’ir shawarma stand, twice blown up by suicide bombers in the past but open for business as usual. The smell of lamb fat and cumin wafted across the noisy street and made me hungry.

Traffic lights blinked green, yellow, and red. Across the road a furniture store sprawled out onto the pavement in a profusion of garish sofas and chairs. A small gaggle of junkies sat on the burnt foundations of what had been the old bus-station, chatting. I wore dark shades. The sun was high in the sky and though it was cold it was a Mediterranean winter, bright and at that moment dry.

I walked down the Neve Sha’anan pedestrian street. I found shelter in a small shebeen, a few wooden tables and chairs, a small counter serving Maccabee Beer and little else. A Nigerian man behind the counter regarded me without expression. I asked for a beer. I sat down and brought out my notebook and a pen and stared at the page.

Central Station, Tel Aviv. The present. Or a present. Another attack on Gaza, elections coming up, down south in the Arava desert they were building a massive separation wall to stop the refugees from coming in. The refugees were in Tel Aviv now, centred around the old bus station neighbourhood in the south of the city, some quarter million of them and the economic migrants here on sufferance, the Thai and Filipinos and Chinese. I sipped my beer. It was bad. I stared at the page. Rain fell.

I began to write:

Once, the world was young. The Exodus ships had only begun to leave the solar system then; the world of Heven had not been discovered; Dr. Novum had not yet come back from the stars. People still lived as they had always lived: in sun and rain, in and out of love, under a blue sky and in the Conversation, which is all about us, always.

This was in old Central Station, that vast space port which rises over the twin cityscapes of Arab Jaffa, Jewish Tel Aviv. It happened amidst the arches and the cobblestones, a stone-throw from the sea: you could still smell the salt and the tar in the air, and watch, at sunrise, the swoop and turn of solar kites and their winged surfers in the air.

This was a time of curious births, yes: you will read about that. You were no doubt wondering about the children of Central Station. Wondering, too, how a strigoi was allowed to come to Earth. This is the womb from which humanity crawled, tooth by bloody nail, towards the stars.

But it is an ancestral home, too, to the Others, those children of the digitality. In a way, this is as much their story.

There is death in here as well, of course: there always is. The Oracle is here, and Ibrahim, the alte-zachen man, and many others whose names may be familiar to you—

But you know all this already. You must have seen The Rise of Others. It’s all in there, though they made everyone look so handsome.

This all happened long ago, but we still remember; and we whisper to each other the old tales across the aeons, here in our sojourn among the stars.

It begins with a little boy, waiting for an absent father.

One day, the old stories say, a man fell down to Earth from the stars . . .

Horror legend Ramsey Campbell discusses his new trilogy.

INTERVIEW WITH RAMSEY CAMPBELL

by Gary Fry

 

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There are some things in life that are simply too good to miss. This is one of them—THE SEARCHING DEAD, Volume 1 of THE THREE BIRTHS OF DAOLOTH. I envy you for the journey you are about to take. Kind of!

www.pspublishing.co.uk 


 

 

Gary: I was delighted to recently review The Searching Dead [LINK] and made no secret of the fact that I consider it one of your finest, most intimate works, not least because it appears to draw on aspects of your childhood. I hope we can explore these autobiographical strands below, but first could you tell me a little about the novel – the first part of a trilogy called The Three Births of Daoloth, of course – and its genesis?

Ramsey: Since around the turn of the century I’ve been returning to my oldest themes in an attempt to do better by them. The Darkest Part of the Woods, for instance, revives Lovecraft’s unused idea on which I based “The Insects from Shaggai” back in 1962, because I believe I ruined it in that tale and wanted to recapture if I could the evocativeness of Lovecraft’s transcribed dream. More recently my good old friend Pete Crowther suggested that I might write a Mythos novella (Brichester Mythos, that is, which of course is a pale shadow of Lovecraft’s) set in a Northern coastal town, and The Last Revelation of Gla’aki – in which I tried to make more sense of some of the notions in “The Inhabitant of the Lake” and perhaps capture a little more of a sense of the cosmic – was the result. After that he gently persuaded me to attempt a horror trilogy. Now, I won’t write in a particular form unless there’s an actual reason to use that form, and so it took me years to see a reason for this one – the fact that the three volumes span several decades, with some of those separating each pair of books. It’s also yet another bid for cosmic terror, in the hope that I’ve learned enough by now to achieve at least a little. That’s my persistent ambition, and I can only hope to bring it off.

Gary: I’m certainly keen to see how it develops. Let me ask about challenges involved in writing a trilogy of novels. You’ve often said that your best material comes when you don’t follow a plot, but I wonder whether such an ambitious undertaking required a different approach. For instance, if I were writing something similar, I’d worry that developments further down the line might conflict with earlier, already published material. How did you address this issue?

Ramsey: I fear you’ve answered your own question, Gary. I worry, except when I’m panicking. I did consider not publishing any of the trilogy until I’d completed the final drafts of all three volumes, but we decided to go ahead with the first one, and so I’m committed to seeing them into print as they’re finished. I’m just hoping that my subconscious has had enough sense of the entire structure and its developments that I won’t find I’ve made any massive errors that need to be addressed somehow. At the time of writing I’ve done the first draft of the second volume, Born to the Dark, and am amassing material for the third, which I’ll start writing as soon as the second is rewritten. Right now I do have a reasonable sense of where I’m going, though that will pretty inevitably change in the course of actually writing.

Gary: Sounds daunting. Good luck! Stephen King says something interesting about The Shining, how, while writing it, he hadn’t realised how much it related to his own life. To what extent were you conscious of drawing upon what appear to be autobiographical memories while writing The Searching Dead?

Ramsey: It’s actually not as specifically autobiographical as you might think. I’ve sometimes had the experience Steve cites – I give you my word that I didn’t realise how many of my childhood experiences “The Chimney” drew on until years after the story was published – but in The Searching Dead I’ve tried to place such elements at a conscious distance or write variations on them, though certainly not to rob them of truth. So the staff of the Holy Ghost school are almost entirely invented (although they paraded out of my mind in the course of a single morning here at my desk), except for the Latin master, who is a bit like one I had. Dominic’s loss of faith is a lot closer to the one I experienced in my adolescence, and his reasons are quite like mine, but I haven’t given him specific incidents from my past. The dentist is all too real, though. I still remember him from my early teens, and that paragraph is very accurate (though I left out his habit of playing Gilbert and Sullivan over the speakers in the waiting-room).

Gary: And how about the experiences of becoming a writer that Dominic goes through? To me, these felt hugely familiar – that sense of self-consciousness, being eager to please, and assimilating what one has learnt from favourite new writers. Was this how it went for you?

Ramsey: Pretty much, though my trajectory at school was different. In my first year at the Christian Brothers grammar school the English master encouraged me to read my tales to the class and then to submit to the school magazine, though my submission wasn’t as ill-received as Dominic’s – the editor, who wasn’t a fan of the ghostly, simply changed a word at the end of my tale to do away with the supernatural. But certainly trying to learn from (or at least imitate) favourites was my way back then – Arthur Machen to begin with and then John Dickson Carr before Lovecraft gave me my crucial focus.

Gary: It’s interesting that you mention Machen, because I detected in your novel strands of “The Great God Pan”, which was an influence on another you admire, King’s Revival. It’s clear from your ‘mission statement’ that you’re situating the trilogy in Lovecraft’s arena, but I wondered if, while documenting Christian Noble’s dark activities, the great Welshman figured in your thinking, too?

Ramsey: Not so consciously here as he certainly did in The Kind Folk (not to mention “The Place of Revelation”). But I do see that the more mystical elements I’m trying to rediscover in the trilogy lead us back through Lovecraft (where that kind of vision is more prevalent than is often acknowledged, for instance in the quote from the Necronomicon in “The Dunwich Horror” and much of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) to Machen. Come to think, “The Dunwich Horror” itself explicitly acknowledges Machen. In my trilogy I think this element is an aspect of my latest bid to reach for cosmic terror.

Gary: The attempt to achieve cosmic terror is one to which you’ve returned repeatedly during your career. Why, among your other achievements – including psychogeography, exploring abnormal states of mind, and the comedy of paranoia – does this ambition remain important to you, and how do you hope the trilogy will fulfil it?

Ramsey: Because I think it’s the highest aspiration of the field – a sense of awe that can border on the numinous, or more precisely a dark version of that experience. I find it in the best of Lovecraft and in tales such as “The Willows”, for instance. Perhaps it’s precisely its indefinability that both lends it power and makes me want to achieve it, but as to how I hope to do so – well, I can only trust my instincts and urge them not to let me down.

Gary: Okay, let’s return specifically to The Searching Dead. On the first page your narrator writes, “I might have noticed more if I hadn’t been preoccupied with the changes taking place in my own small world.” Unlike for Lovecraft, aspects of character and its socio-historical setting matter to you. How did you go about rendering the mores of 1950s Liverpool so rich?

Ramsey: Ah, many of those are autographical in at least a general sense. Certainly I tried to draw on my memories as much as possible for telling details (the kind I find so evocative in Graham Greene). Tony Snell (one of the Radio Merseyside presenters) happened to refer on the air to his own memories of starting a new school, and those opened a whole cache of mine. I’m a great believer in happy accidents when I’m writing, and catching his broadcast was certainly one.

Gary: I was also struck by the importance of fiction to your characters, the way it shaped identities as they mimicked film stars’ mannerisms and interpreted their activities through stories. Among so many other influences examined in The Searching Dead – especially religion, politics, and science – how important do you feel fiction is in terms of constructing such realities?

Ramsey: Well, you know me – I’m not going to start ranting about the dangers of imitating fiction or more precisely accusing fiction of being dangerous. But I do recognise that we derive parts of our identities from what we read and watch, so that (for instance) most British folk are to some extent American, perhaps especially when we’re young. Elements of us are composed of bits of films and books and (probably popular) songs, not even necessarily our favourites. I think I’ve also addressed the gap between fictional depictions and reality quite often in my tales, which brings us all the way back to the recurring theme of how what’s perceived differs from what’s real.

Gary: It’s also interesting to reflect on the influences of different fictional forms on your work. For instance, one of my favourite moments in The Searching Dead – not to spoil it for readers, but I’m thinking of the frightening cinema bathroom scene – would be very difficult to film effectively. Despite your love of film, do you aspire to achieve the kind of effects that only prose can do well?

Ramsey: Absolutely, Gary. One of the aspects of horror fiction at its best that greatly appeals to me is how it conveys the uncanny, the terrifying, the disturbing or whichever quality it’s communicating through the selection of language. In Lovecraft this involves paragraphs that are very formally constructed, for instance, while in M. R. James the moment of terror is often embedded within the paragraph and all the more powerful for lying in wait in the prose. I think many of the most memorable moments in prose horror fiction depend on the use of the perfect word or phrase, which can’t be transferred to the visual or other media. Sometimes, of course (as in the unforgettable line about holding hands in Hill House), it can.

Gary: There are certainly scenes in The Searching Dead – the voice in the house (“Leave me dead.”), the visit to France, the scene under the church – which exemplify this quality. I’d envy those yet to read it if I didn’t realise there were two volumes to come. I know you don’t like talking about unfinished projects, but can you give any hint about the content of at least the next one, Born to the Dark?

Ramsey: We’re now in 1985. Dominic works as a lecturer on film and is married with a young son. The boy suffers from a rare but apparently increasingly common medical condition, which seems to be a kind of nocturnal seizure. He’s being treated for it, but Dominic is increasingly disturbed by the boy’s tales of his dreams, if that’s all they are. Soon he begins to suspect that Christian Noble’s influence has returned in a new and insidious form…

Gary: Sounds terrific. I can’t remember when I looked forward to a new book more. Here’s to autumn 2017! Thanks for your time, Ramsey, and all the best with the trilogy. The Three Births of Daoloth looks set to become a considerable work of weird fiction.

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Gary Fry

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Gary Fry and Ramsey Campbell

 

Best of British for this Halloween

baby-strange-coverBABY STRANGE by Jim Shields

A Dark Intelligence Has Been Poisoning Carefully Selected Lives.

The Con Man : ‘Reverend’ Joe McGill claims he’s a healer, but he’s chosen the wrong man to con.

The Psychotic Gangster : Arthur Bewlay has cancer eating away at his face. He’s in no mood to be messed around—either by fake miracle workers or his dead brother Tommy—and he’ll stop at nothing in his desperate desire to live.

The Eccentric Recluse : Maryam Clemenceau is just what both McGill and Bewlay need—a real miracle worker with a bona fide gift. But it comes at a considerable cost.

The Architect : The sinister link between a Maryam’s Gothic apartment block, and Bewlay’s boarded up, abandoned Victorian pub—buildings that are contaminated with fear and the echoes of old and ominous power.

Baby Strange opens with Joe beaten and bound in the back of a car, on his way to an appointment with a cement pit under a Glasgow flyover . . . this is not to be the lowest point of his day.

HARDCOVER £20

EBOOK £3.99


 my-name-is-mary-sutherland-coverMY NAME IS MARY SUTHERLAND by Kate Farrell

From an unspecified institution where she has been for three years, seventeen year old Mary Sutherland tells her story to a television crew. Through her narrative and letters to her father, who never replies, we learn of a contented life that is turned upside down when her mother dies suddenly and Martin, her father, remarries with indecent haste. He is besotted with the elegant and calculating Tiffany, and Mary becomes marginalized for the twin crimes of being fat and having bad hair.

My Name Is Mary Sutherland is a tale of parental neglect, the psychological abuse of a minor, and the terrible price that is ultimately paid.

SIGNED HARDCOVER £25

EBOOK £3.99


borrowed-time-coverBORROWED TIME by Tim Lebbon

A collection of three novellas that together comprise the Apocalypse Trilogy.

Naming of Parts . . . a young Jack and his family flee the zombie plague to find his sister, but it’s not only people who are rising from the dead.

Changing of Faces . . . were-creatures attack a beached cruise liner, the one place that Jack dares call home.

Shifting of Veils . . .the world has moved on. Mad, murderous wraiths haunt the overgrown towns. And Jack must embark on a final desperate journey to reunite his family.

PAPERBACK £9.99

EBOOK £3.99


think-yourself-lucky-coverTHINK YOURSELF LUCKY by Ramsey Campbell

David Botham just wants a quiet ordinary life—his job at the travel agency, his relationship with his girlfriend Stephanie. He doesn’t want to be a writer, and he certainly doesn’t think he’s one. The online blog that uses a title he once thought up has nothing to do with him. He has no idea who is writing it or where they get their information about a series of violent deaths in Liverpool. If they’re murders, how can the killer go unseen even by the security cameras? Perhaps David won’t know until they come too close to him—until he can’t ignore the figure from his past that is catching up with him. Perhaps denying it isn’t just the worst thing he can do but fatal…

In Ramsey Campbell and the Twenty-First-Century Weird Tale Richard Bleiler argues that Campbell has brought the new century into supernatural fiction. Following The Grin of the Dark and The Seven Days of Cain, Think Yourself Luckyfinds new demons online. But perhaps they are ourselves . . .

SIGNED HARDCOVER £25

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Alison Littlewood’s QUIETER PATHS, her new collection of stories

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Take the paths less travelled, to the flooded caves of Mexico, the remote forests of Croatia and the vibrant cities of Morocco. Discover the secrets whispered by a Neolithic stone circle and the ancient tales of Ilkley Moor. Alison Littlewood’s brand of quieter dark fiction will lead you through lands rooted in myth, legend and mystery.

Alison’s stories have been picked for Best British Horror 2015, The Best Horror of the Year and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. She has also won the Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction.

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Alison lives with her partner Fergus in Yorkshire, England, in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls. She loves exploring the hills and dales with her two hugely enthusiastic Dalmatians and has a penchant for books on folklore and weird history, Earl Grey tea and semicolons.

 

You can talk to her on Twitter @AliL, see her on Facebook or visit her at www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk