Fiftieth Time

March 20, 2010 at 11:05 am (Uncategorized)

A very, very good week.

Incidentally, my blog is 50! We should give it presents of gold, or something, shouldn’t we? Actually, no – it’s olderthan that, as I gave two early blogs the same title (fool me!), and there have been a couple of additional half-blogs. So it’s nearer 53 or 54, I suppose. Maybe it’s trying to hide its age? It’ll be after plastic surgery soon! Anyway, to business…

The first thing is that two reviews have been posted online that are very complimentary about my stories. There’s a review of the Sixth Black Book of Horror here:

And then there’s a review of Gaslight Grotesque that appears here:

I come out of both of them quite well, which is nice!

In other news, my story Marley’s Haunting has been put on the longlist for a British Fantasy Society award for best short story:

Now, agreed, it’s a bleedin’ long longlist, but I have to say it’s nice to get this far (especially as the Marley’s Haunting chapbook only sold about 5 copies, and I gave away about another 10, making it a rare thing!). Of course, I’d love it if enough people liked it to vote it through the to the awards shortlist (you have ’til the end of May!), but I’m aware that’s unlikely. Of course, the fact that Marley’s Haunting (under the title Haunting Marley) is in the new collection,Lost Places, means that some additional BFS members may have chance to read it before the deadline and vote on it, which would be great.

BFS members who are interested in the story can also contact me directly and I can send them a PDF of the story, which may well count as shameless self-promotion, but you know what? Sod it. I am who I am, and I want people to read my stuff and like it, so if this helps, then good. Of course, there’s some kick-ass quality stuff on the longlist with me (Steve Duffy, Paul Finch, Rob Shearman, et al) so I know that I’m up against the stiffest of stiff competitions, but still. It’s another first, and another little validation that my writing is being appreciated in some quarters!

Yet more good news: as well as the positive review above, my contributor copy of The Sixth Black Book of Horror turned up, and a lovely volume it is too! The cover’s excellent and eyecatching, and the authors involved all good. I’ve not had chance to read much so far, but I did enjoy Mark Samuels amusing tale (I didn’t expect too, given the history but I did – go figure!) and John Probert is, of course, always good value for money!

So, any writing news? Well, a little. I’ve submitted the Sherlock story (now called, officially, A Country Death) but I haven’t heard back yet. Given that Charles leaves for WHC today, I’m not likely to get a decision for a couple of weeks, but that’s okay. I’m happy with the story, and it’s been another good fun experience writing it, which is the main thing.

I’m still working towards starting the novel (incidentally, my friend Gary McMahon has given me some advice for starting the novel: “Sit arse in chair. Extend fingers. Start to type.” Seems like good advice to me!), and at this point I have very little excuse not to. I have one thing to edit, which can be done as light relief, and a story for an anthology that I’m not sure I’m going to do because I’m not inspired. So, it’s the novel, yeah. Well, yeah…only, this week I had the weirdest experience. On Monday night, I had the worst nightmare I’ve had in a number of years, so bad that it woke me up in the middle of the night and kept me awake for a couple of hours afterwards. The nightmare was only a single scene, which I’m not going to describe, but it was so powerful that it genuinely upset me.

Once I was awake, I started to poke away at the thing I’d dreamed (which was also a remarkably coherent image, unlike the normal fragmentary images that dreams/nightmares throw up) to work out what the story was that led to it (this is, often, how I write stories – I have a single image I like, and I then work out how to get my characters to it and where they go from it) and the most annoying thing happened: I came up with the story for a new novel. It’s not plotted, but I have a character (well, actually, a set of characters), I have a setting and a reason for some of what happens. I also have that startling central image, and for the bulk of this week the thought of this novel has been interrupting the working on the other novel. Grr and damn!

I think that this second novel is strong enough to survive a wait, though, so I’m going to put it to one side and let it brew while I concentrate on The Sorrowful, which I really feel I need to tackle now. It’s going to be a sprawling, big thing, I think, violent and fast, and it needs to come out now b efore I lose it.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a different thing than I normally tackle, a supernatural thriller rather than an out and out horror (although it will still hopefully be frightening and full of off-kilter imagery). The second novel, which hasn’t got a name (or even a hint of one), is smaller and quieter and more like my normal stuff (ghostly; creepy; upsetting), so I’m sure it’ll benefit from being bedded down for a while. The only thing that’s stopping me jumping right into The Sorowful is that I’m struggling to find a name for my main character – for all the years that this story has been in my head, he’s been called Tom Fool (after an English ghost of a court jester, where we get the word ‘tomfoolery’ from, fact fans!), but when I came to think about it, I began to wonder if that’s an appropriate name for a hero? The problem is, I can’t find a better alternative as yet. Of course, this is mere procrastination, I do realise that…

I’m sure there was something else that I was going to mention, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Erm…oh, yeah, wait, it’s coming back to me now: the WORLD HORROR CONVENTION happens this week! I’m very excited about this (as you may have gathered!). My itinerary for the whole thing is this:

Thursday, 7pm – I’m on a panel about New Blood in the Horror Field (I’m new blood apparently, along with Gary McMahon, Rio Yewers, another author whose name temporarily eludes me and which is moderated by Steve Duffy). My first panel!

Friday, 12-1: Signing session for The Mammoth Book of the Very Best of Best New Horror.

Friday, 2-3: Ash Tree Press launch event, including books by Paul Finch, Steve Duffy, Lawrence C Connolly, Gary McMahon and Yours Truly. Excited? Oh yeah…

Friday, 4-5: Signing session for The Sixth Black Book of Horror.

Friday 9.30-10: Reading session – I’m going to read Marley’s Haunting which I’ve not read ‘live’ before, so it should be fun (although it means I have to stay sober. No bad thing I don’t suppose…).

I’m also hoping to attend  few panels, go to the screening of Ghostwatch and the Q&A with its author (and my mate!) Stephen Volk, attend a few readings, buy some books, buy some more books, maybe buy a book or two more, get some stuff signed, drink,  and go for meals with friends old and new. I’m attending WHC with Wendy (gorgeous wife!) so, obviously, whilst this is a working break, the emphasis will be on ‘break’ as most of all, I’m looking forward to spending time with her – work’s taken me away from home so much recently that I feel like I’ve not seen my family properly for weeks! WHC should be a great experience on lots of different levels, and I can’t wait for Thursday when it starts…

Okay, I think that may be it for this week. Because of WHC, I’m unlikely to blog next week, although I may try to upload photos and updates to facebook (so befriend me now, if you haven’t already!). I may also update my thread on the BFS website forum (, so keep an eye on that as well. I’ll blog again in a couple of weeks, hopefully with lots of photos and news and exciting things. Until then, Lords and Ladies, I shall bid you farewell!


  1. Mark West said,

    Well done on the good news and fingers crossed for the Sherlock story.

    I know what you mean about the novels, have you noticed that most ideas seem to come when they’re least expected (I’d never say least wanted, because ideas are fuel, after all) and you end up with things backing up?

    I hope you and Wendy have a great time at WHC.

  2. simonkurtunsworth said,

    Cheers Mark!

    I wrote out a story list once, of stuff I’d either half done or had ideas about, or wanted to do…and it was at about 28 things before I stopped writing!

    I’m looking forward to WHC a lot. Not sure Wendy is, though (“How many days with a bunch of horror nerds?”)!


    PS You look good in your photo mate!

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