For a long time I've been an avid short story fan, both as writer and reader. It used to be the case that I wasn't happy if I didn't see at least one of my short stories published every month. The demands of the Heck novels and various film and TV projects I'm developing mean that I haven't got anything like sufficient time to pen so much short fiction these days, but now and then it is nice when a gap in the schedule comes along and I can quickly jot down another short trip to terror, though it's often the case that I have to target my market carefully, or maybe respond to a specific invitation.
I was very happy therefore, when Trevor Denyer - a very busy editor back in the 1990s (the much lauded 'Golden Age of the British Small Press'), and the master of all he surveyed at ground-breaking horror magazines like Roadworks and Midnight Street - asked me if I'd be interested in writing something for a new anthology he was putting together.
The finished book, which is due for publication in the very near future, is MIDNIGHT STREET: JOURNEYS INTO DARKNESS, pictured above, which looks as though it will be a very fine collection indeed (it'll be out both in print and e-format). I don't have a full table of contents for it yet, but these are the contributors and their stories that I do know about (in no particular order):
After The Party by Gary Couzens; Again by Ramsey Campbell; Amen by Simon Clark; Dead Man's Handle by Stephen Gallagher; Lapland, Or Film Noir by Peter Straub; The Spoils by Joel Lane; When They Come For You, They'll Look Normal by Ralph Robert Moore; En Saga by Nina Allan; The Return Of The Pikart Posse by Rosanne Rabinowitz; No Such Thing As Sin by Paul Finch; Traffic by Elliot Smith; Creeping Blue by Allen Ashley.
I have it on Trevor's authority that more names will join this list in due course. My own contribution, No Such Thing As Sin, is a brand new piece concerning weird events at a lonely house on the outskirts of Atherton, one of the most desolate corners of Greater Manchester. I'll post publications details as as soon as possible, so keep an eye open for those.
In other news, I had a marvellous couple of days last week in the company of Lars Schafft and Silke Wronkowski from the KRIMI-DOUCH.DE website in Germany, a massive operation catering mainly to the European thriller and crime fiction market. The back-story to this is pretty simple. The first of my Mark Heckenburg novels, STALKERS, will be published in Germany by Piper next month, under the title MADCHENJAGER. The Heck series has also been sold to Poland, Hungary, Turkey and Japan, but Germany is currently the scene of most overseas activity - apparently there is a lot of interest and pre-sales have been very good. So much so that the guys from KRIMI-DOUCH.DE came all the way over to Lancashire to see me. We were together two days and I gave them several interviews on video (see above), which of course I will post links to as soon as they are available.
As always, I was shamed by my German visitors' faultless knowledge of English when my own German is so poor (not to say non-existent). But In addition, Karl and Silke were great company and hugely knowledgeable - not just about the crime and thriller scene, but about my own work, which was fascinating and flattering at the same time. Personally, I can't wait to see the interviews once they've all been edited together, and I'm hoping to meet Karl and Silke again in the near future.
Last week was fun for all kinds of reasons. I also attended a literary lunch at the Caledonian Club in West London, at the invitation of THE LADY magazine whose very attentive audience was keen to know all about my crime-writing. This was an amazing experience: the environment was sumptuous, the food exquisite, and the company convivial. I said beforehand that I never expected the grim investigations of Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg to attract the interest of a cultured mag like THE LADY, with its very refined readership, but I was wrong. I gave my spiel, which seemed to go down well, and then participated in a lively question and answer session.
My thanks go to all the staff of THE LADY and the Caledonian Club (two of whom quietly told me they'd read my stuff and enjoyed it - result!), to ANNABEL GILES, who was my charming hostess for the day, and to D.E. MEREDITH and ANNA HOPE, my fellow writers and guests at the event.