Sunday 29 September 2013

Green men, maniacs and ghastly sea-beasts

To continue the horror theme from my last post, as opposed to the thriller theme I’ve concentrated on for so much this year, I can now announce that DON’T READ ALONE, a new e-collection of my stories and novellas is available for pre-order at Amazon, with an official publication date of October 11th this year.

Here is the cover, as provided by the ever-reliable STEVE UPHAM.

There perhaps isn’t an automatic cross-cover for readers between thrillers and horrors. Some are content to indulge in both, others less so. But as a writer, I have long been fascinated by the two sub-genres and have regularly worked in both, finding many overlaps between the two. It’s only in this last couple of years, of course, that my thriller novels, the likes of STALKERS and SACRIFICE (with HUNTED due out from Avon Books in February) – action-fuelled crime tomes following the investigations of DS Mark Heckenburg – have become bestsellers and have subsequently started to occupy much of my time. But before then, I had a long history of producing horror stories and novellas for magazines and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic. Some 300 have been published to date, going back to the early 1990s; two of these have been the recipient of the British Fantasy Award, and one of them won the International Horror Guild Award (so I like to think I knew what I was doing).

However, by the nature of the beast, many of the titles in which these first appeared are now deleted, out of print or were the work of small printing houses since defunct; either way, completists are finding them elusive to collect, and new readers can only ever find them as titles in back-lists. As such, in the age of the e-book, it seemed an obvious thing to look at the best of these again, tighten and trim where necessary, and re-issue them as e-collections.

That, somewhat loosely, is the new plan.

DON’T READ ALONE will hopefully be the first in a rolling programme of new e-publications – each containing about 70,000 words – drawing on the best of my short horror stories and novellas, and each one assembled with tales specifically chosen to complement each other but also varying in subject matter so there should always be something for everyone (the one overarching feature, if I say so myself, is fear – I prefer my stories to be as frightening as possible, or at the very least suspenseful and unnerving).

Audio versions and even paperbacks may follow in due course, though I’m not totally sure how that latter scheme will pan out at this early stage. If you’re interested in that, keep watching this space.

The table of contents for DON’T READ ALONE is as follows:

The Old North Road (first published in Alone On The Darkside, 2006, and winner of the International Horror Guild Award): A writer investigating the myths surrounding the Green Man has a terrifying chance encounter on a lonely woodland road ...

The Poppet (first published in Enemies At The Door, 2012): A self-centred student does the dirty on a college pal, only to find his fate interwoven with a mysterious faceless doll ...

Grendel’s Lair (first published in Beneath The Ground, 2003): A callous cop, a brutal criminal, a missing child - and something unspeakable in a derelict air-raid shelter ...

Hell In The Cathedral (first published in The Shadows Beneath, 2000): Brit tourists in the Med are taken on the boat-trip of a lifetime, but find themselves at the mercy of a voracious sea-beast ...

The Baleful Dead (first published in Groaning Shadows, 2009): An ageing metal band hook up at a lonely country manse to record one last album, unaware that their scheming manager has a 'foolproof plan' to summon assistance from beyond ...

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Ten times the horror - Black Book is back!

Very pleased this week to announce that another volume in one of my current favourite series of horror anthologies, THE 10th BLACK BOOK OF HORROR (the artwork to which is pictured left), will soon be published.

As many may know, penning short horror stories is one of my favourite past-times – I have a back-catalogue of such that goes back into what feels like ancient history – but given the amount of time I’ve been putting into my new series of cop thriller novels from Avon Books, I’ve had almost no time at all of late to write pieces of short fiction.

It isn’t a complete non-starter. I still manage to crank them out now and then, but they are, alas, few and far between these days. That said, the BLACK BOOK OF HORROR series (MORTBURY PRESS) is one I will always try and contribute to. The brainchild of editor Charles Black, it is very much heir-apparent to the famous PAN HORROR series of the 1960s and 1970s in that it sees the publication of an annual anthology of horror stories, which vary from the most gruesome and disturbing kind of contes cruels, to clever psychological mindwarps, to the kinds of eerie supernatural mysteries that hark back to the golden age of the English ghost story.

The 10th BLACK BOOK OF HORROR is due out very shortly, and it will the ninth one I’ve been fortunate enough to have a story included in (the only one I’ve missed thus far is BBH#2, though I sort of doubled up in BB#8, as the cover featured an image of my severed head – which was a little bit unnerving). Anyway, my contribution to BBH#10 is a story called MARSHWALL, which, without giving too many spoilers away, concerns a lonely house on the edge of a desolate, waterlogged wilderness, and its less than savoury occupants.

I can’t actually give you a date when this book will be available, but for anyone fortunate enough to have a ticket, it will most likely be getting an official launch at World Fantasy in Brighton at the end of October. If anyone still needs convincing, here’s a LINK to a rather neat little video put together to celebrate this series by regular contributor and resourceful mistress of the night, ANNA TABORSKA.

And if that isn’t enough for you, here’s the TOC for BBH#10:

STIFF by Angela Blake; THE EASTER BUNNY by Tom Johnstone; THE LAST TESTAMENT OF JACOB TYLER by David Surface; THE WAR EFFORT by Carl P. Thompson; THE PRE-RAPHAELITE PAINTING by David A. Sutton; CHRISTMAS IN THE RAIN by Chris Lawton; DEEPER THAN DARK WATER by Gary Power; MARSHWALL by Paul Finch; EXPLODING RAPHAELESQUE HEADS by Ian Hunter; THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER by John Llewellyn Probert; THE PYGMALION CONJURATION by Mike Chinn; THE BOY by David Williamson; THE LAST WAGON IN THE TRAIN by Andrea Janes; DAD DANCING by Kate Farrell; GUINEA PIG GIRL by Thana Niveau.