Monday, 29 November 2010

A fun night with the Twisted Tales crowd

The Twisted Tales event at Liverpool One’s Waterstone’s last Friday evening was well attended and great fun to be part of. I had the honour of reading alongside Simon Kurt Unsworth, who, though he’s relatively new to the genre, is one of the most exciting talents on the scene, and of course the great Graham Joyce, who needs no introduction to anyone.

The event was superbly hosted by horror addicts Glyn Morgan and David McWilliam, and of course Roy Gray from Black Static magazine, who all went out of their way to make us feel at home. A very attentive audience, perhaps seventy strong, including the genre’s godfather over here in the UK, Ramsey Campbell, filled the rows of seats in front of us.

Simon kicked things off with his lovely An Afternoon With Danny, which, though superficially a ghost story, is at heart a touching study of parental angst, and must be a likely candidate for one of the Year’s Best anthologies. I lowered the tone a little bit after that with Elderly Lady, Lives Alone, first published in Bare Bone 9, in 2006. I’d originally intended to read something a little more cerebral, but Elderly Lady was a convenient fit for the time-slot available. On reflection, I’m not sure it was the best choice. It features an odious central character, whose revolting thought processes are to the fore throughout. I detected the odd, shocked intake of breath as I ploughed my way through it (pictured), and afterwards Cathy said she felt it too explicit for a public reading. However, the guys have now invited me to do another Twisted Tales, so I can’t have offended them beyond recall.

The evening was rounded off when Graham Joyce read an extract from his majestic novel, The Silent Land, which, if you haven’t read it, belongs on the masterworks shelf. It concerns a couple who get caught in an avalanche, and though they manage to dig their way out, end up returning to a world that is very, very different. The Silent Land is gentle, moving supernatural fiction at its finest, and, for what it’s worth, carries my strongest recommendation. The passage Graham chose was also an excellent choice – tragic and yet heartwarming at the same time (and that takes some doing); it had the audience queuing to buy the book afterwards.

It was a very enjoyable evening indeed, and well worth the two hours it took us to fight our way through twenty miles of log-jammed early evening traffic to get there. Cathy and I also had the pleasure afterwards of looking around Liverpool One in all its Christmas finery, in atmospheric temperatures that must have been touching five below.

Waterstone’s are not the top booksellers in the UK for nothing. They deserve all the praise we can give them by supporting horror fiction with these events. Getting the authors in to breathe life into their prose, and at the same time to meet and chat to the readers is a unique idea, which I hope continues for many years to come.

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