Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Horrors of war meet the horrors of winter

In the midst of all this recent chatter about novels, novellas, TV series and themed anthologies, here's a little bit of info from the slightly less glamorous (though equally dear to my heart) world of the short story. It's a bit belated, in actual fact - both these bits of info have being doing the rounds for the last couple of weeks, but I've now at last made space to mention them.

First of all, I should offer my congratulations to US editor, Danel Olson, for the incredible success enjoyed by his anthology EXOTIC GOTHIC 4, which won the World Fantasy Award for 2013 in the capacity of Best Anthology at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton two weeks last Saturday. Danel is a smashing bloke and a thorough and meticulous editor, and this award couldn't have found a more deserving winner.

I'm also pleased about this news, because a story of mine features in EXOTIC GOTHIC 4, from PS PUBLISHINGOeschart is a tale of mystical and supernatural terror set just to the rear of the Allied front-line during the Passchendaele advance in 1917. Of course, the book contains a host of other cracking stories as well. Check out some of these names - Adam Nevill, Robert Hood, Steve Rasnic Tem, Terry Dowling, Anna Taborska, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Reggie Oliver and Stephen Volk - and they are not by any means alone in there. Well worth taking a chance on, this antho, trust me. And in fact, the more of you who go for it, the more chance there is Danel will be persuaded to do EG6 and maybe EG7. Who knows? EXOTIC GOTHIC 5 is already out, in two volumes no less.

In other short story news, but still on the subject of wartime horror, I'm happy to brag that another short story of mine, Reign Of Hell, has been published in the e-anthology, WORLD WAR TWO CTHULHU from games company Cubicle 7 this last month, and edited by living legend Jonathan Oliver (the book is pictured above right). As you can imagine, these are Lovecraftian mythos tales, but each one with an authentic World War Two setting. My own tale is set in Peloponnese, when fascist forces were terrorising the Greek populace. But the entire panorama of WWII is covered. Among a variety of other stories, we get glowing efforts from such luminaries of the pen as James Lovegrove, Weston Ochse and Lavie Tidhar. Again, get in there. If you like short, terrifying tales, you won't be disappointed.


For those still toying with the idea of buying the e-version of my Victorian Christmas novella of 2011, SPARROWHAWK, it is available for only 99p for another four days. At midnight on Sunday 24th November, it reverts to its normal price of £2.07. If nothing else, it it ought to get you in the mood for the festive season, especially if you like your Yuletide ghost stories. But don’t take my word for that. Online reviewers have thus far called it “a paradox from history, beautifully crafted” and “a perfect Christmas read”.

Here are a couple more excerpts, today with less of a Christmassy feel and more of the ghoulish (after all, SPARROWHAWK is also a tale of love, hate, war and, hopefully, redemption):

LETICIA turned to face him. She smiled again, but it was a wintry smile. “This is my lot, John. My eternity. But it consoles me that I earned it in your service.”
     “My service? I … I don’t understand.”
     “You wanted me to die, and I wanted you to be happy. So this is the price I paid.”
     “What are you talking about?”
     Her smile faded. The green eyes lost their lustre and receded into their sockets; her teeth became prominent, skeletal. “You know why my parents never revealed my resting place to you, John? Because suicides can only be buried in unmarked graves.”

HE STRUGGLED violently and gibbered for mercy as he was wrestled onto the trapdoor. Up close, for Sparrowhawk and Miss Evangeline had managed to get a good position, Keggs was rather simple looking, with a low-slung brow, buckteeth and jug ears. He croaked in despair, his terrified eyes flirting left and right as the white hood was pulled down over his head. The executioner fixed the noose in place and, as the tolling bell ceased, stepped back and pulled the lever. The baying of the mob rose to a crescendo as the trapdoor swung down and the prisoner dropped.
     He tilted sideways as he descended, smashing his face against the edge of the trap, before spinning down to the end of the rope and jerking to a halt – he twisted and gurgled for several minutes, the front of his white hood turning slowly crimson, but eventually hung still.

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