Can anyone think of a scarier place on Earth than the deepest regions of the sea? You know, that endless unlit realm of mud, sand and rock, silent except for those eerie, inhuman calls echoing through the void, empty apart from those immense, amorphous shapes gliding past you in the gloom.
Can anyone think of a worse predicament to be in than marooned on the sea's surface with no food, no water and no land in sight, and maybe with a few fins cutting the waves in a circle around you, or perhaps even worse, with some great glistening tentacle waving at you from a few yards distant?
It is one of the great unknowable forces, of course - the ocean.
It surrounds us all. We've sailed it, we've swum in it, we've fished it, mapped it, mined it, holidayed on it. We've trawled many of its hidden vaults, photographed its weirdest denizens. And yet it remains enigmatic.
One of the greatest elemental powers in our world, it can decimate fleets, swallow towns, annihilate civilisations. Vast, moody, mysterious and completely unfeeling, it could and would snuff out each of our lives in the blink of an eye, without a moment's hestitation.
Anyway, we'll talk a bit more about that in a minute.
When I commenced editing my TERROR TALES series for GRAY FRIAR PRESS, I was following in the footsteps of the charming MARY DANBY and the late, great R. CHETWYND-HAYES at Fontana Books, whose TALES OF TERROR series in the 1970s first introduced the concept of intermingling horror fiction with horror fact and presenting it in a procession of regionalised anthologies. Just as Mary and Ron did, my initial plan was to tour the UK, interspersing spooky folklore with original horror fiction from some very distinctive localities - WALES, LONDON, CORNWALL - though sensitive to accusations (none of which have materialised, by the way) that I might just be copying my forerunners, I was derermined to introduce some slight variations, dare I say it - go into a little more detail. So, while Ron and Mary did SCOTTISH TALES OF TERROR, my intent was to do TERROR TALES OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS and TERROR TALES OF THE SCOTTISH LOWLANDS. Where Ron and Mary did EUROPEAN TALES OF TERROR, my ambition is to do TERROR TALES OF WESTERN EUROPE, TERROR TALES OF EASTERN EUROPE, TERROR TALES OF SCANDINAVIA, TERROR TALES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN, etc (though that's all for the future - there's only so much time in the present, you know).
As we speak, TERROR TALES OF THE OCEAN (pictured topside, mi hearties!), is still in production, so don't go looking for it yet.
It won't be published until later this year. But, as always, what an absolute joy it's been to work on it. The cover art was provided by the ever-incredible NEIL WILLIAMS, and in this volume I'll be honoured to include stories by such luminaries of the horror and thriller genres as PETER JAMES, ROBERT SHEARMAN, STEPHEN LAWS, ADAM NEVILL, LYNDA E. RUCKER and CONRAD WILLIAMS.
It's exhausting stuff, just listing it all. But I think this will be one of the best TERROR TALES titles to date, and I can't wait to release it. So keep watching this space for publication dates, table of contents, back-cover blurb, etc. And if you've yet to go on holiday this August, be careful where you swim, or surf, or float on your air-bed.
You never know what might be underneath you, or approaching you from behind, or waiting on shore, hidden below the innocent looking sand - just biding its time.