Wednesday, 9 November 2011

No rest for the wicked: now it's story time

Well … my frenetic few weeks of intense, round-the-clock work has come to a (possibly temporary) halt. With a completed Dr Who audio script, a completed novel, and two completed novellas all delivered in the last month or so, I’ve suddenly found myself with a couple of spare days on my hands.

Not that they are really spare, you understand. I’m certainly not going to be sitting around, gazing through the rain-streaked lounge window at grey skies and leafless trees. There are still jobs to be done: ideas to spin, concepts to hatch, pitches to be sketched and then fired off forthwith to my favourite publishers and producers. There is also a necessity to assemble the remaining anecdotal material for the next TERROR TALES OF … volume. (Four of the short stories are now in for that anthology, and they make unnerving reading). At the same time, I’m slowly but surely assembling the writing team for the third volume in the series though if I’m honest, that isn’t likely to start happening until well into next spring.

Of course, none of these chores carry the high pressure tag. However brief an experience it proves, it’s nice to be able to work to the sort of relaxed deadline that will not cost anyone – i.e. me – significant money if it slips. It’s also nice to be able to have a crack at a few short stories of my own.

While I was at Fantasycon in Brighton last October, I was asked a couple of times if I’d stopped penning short stories as folk hadn’t seen much of these from me in recent times.

And it was true, when I totted it up in my mind – discounting the new material included in my collections WALKERS IN THE DARK and ONE MONSTER IS NOT ENOUGH, or in my three MEDI-EVIL ebooks, I’d only actually had seven new short stories published during the whole of 2010 and 2011. They were: PROFANITIES (which appeared in EXOTIC GOTHIC 3); WE, WHO LIVE IN THE WOOD (which appeared in BLACK STATIC 14); THE DOOM (which appeared in BLACK BOOK OF HORROR 6); THE GREEN BATH (which appeared in BLACK BOOK OF HORROR 7); SPECIAL POWERS (which appeared in ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE); TOK (which appeared in BLACK BOOK OF HORROR 8) and FULL CIRCLE (which appeared in FULL FATHOM FORTY).

Once I had a reputation for being prolific in this department, but of course we’re all a little bit older and wiser now. Short stories, though my favourite literary form, unfortunately carry the least cash potential. I can boast a grand total of two which have been optioned for movie development – LAW OF THE JUNGLE (which first appeared in SACKCLOTH AND ASHES in 2000) and THE BELFRIES (which first appeared in ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT in 2004), though neither have been made thus far. Of course, as your short story output dries up, so do the invitations. Because you’re too busy chasing the bigger bucks, you risk becoming a non-person in short story terms (probably a bit of an exaggeration there, but you get my drift).

Anyway, eager to put this right and reassert myself as a reliable teller of tall but short tales, I’ve recently been seeking out various editors and anthologists I know, and have managed to persuade them to pencil me in on their next TOCs. As things stand, I ‘m now starting work on four new short stories. I can’t see that this brief window I’ve got will be sufficient to get them all boxed off, but if I can make a head-start, who knows? Perhaps my handful of easy days will allow me to re-energise sufficiently to write in the evenings again, not that I enjoy this much.

No details or titles yet, but here are a few hints about what may be to come:

Story A takes us along a scenic but eerie coastline, where abandoned buildings are all the rage and unpleasant entities lurk inside them; Story B takes us on a working weekend to another coastline, though this one is more suited for party mayhem – the only problem is that no-one is quite what they seem; Story C takes us to the Highlands of Scotland, where even the local red-blooded outdoorsmen are experiencing a spot of bother (trust me, their blood is very red indeed); Story D takes us to a tatty little circus in the grounds of a gloomy manor house …

If all that isn’t intriguing enough, I may have some more movie news in the next few days – so keep checking in.


  1. New stories from your pen is a most welcome news. But what about re-issuing the Medi-evil series & Craddock in print? Believe me, for readers like us who do not have any e-reader, the absence of these volumes in print is quiet disconcerting.

  2. Hopefully some time next year, Riju.