SixtySeventh Time

October 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm (Uncategorized)

So, here we are again, with much news and many things to report, some good, some merely embarrassing…

British Fantasy Convention report: how much fun did I have? Much, much fun! This is a couple of weeks late, but never mind – here’s what I did… Arrival on Friday and checking in the hotel were all remarkably stress free, and I soon found myself in the bar of the Brittannia talking to friends old and new. As ever, it’s almost impossible to remember everyone that I spoke to, but I definitely saw Allyson Bird (who gave me my contributor copy of Never Again – more on this later), David Price, Simon Marshall-Jones and various other reprobates. I ended up going to the pub with Steve Volk (who

Gary McMahon and Simon Marshall-Jones. And booze.

 was wearing possibly the best T Shirt I have ever seen, one which made me sputter beer over the table and out through my nose when I first saw it – a plain white job with the words I am sorry, I am not Conrad Williams printed on ita reference to the frankly astonishing moment where two idiots left Steve’s reading at World Horror in March, saying “Sorry, we thought you were Conrad Williams”. It was great to catch up with everyone over a pint – Rio Youers, Mark Morris, Rob Shearman, Sarah Pinbrough, Adam Neville and others all said hello. Mick and Debbie Curtis and Gary Cole-Wilkin and Soozy Marjoram were nestled inside the pub, and I played the FCon game of ‘how do I talk to everyone that I know and like here in such a short space of time? briefly!’. After a couple of drinks, it was back to the Brittannia to properly get into the FCon swing.

At 9 on Friday, I did my second FCon reading – it wasn’t brilliantly attended (I was up against the heavy metal karaoke and the FCon quiz, so the fact I got anyone at all is a bleeding miracle!), but the story I read (‘N is for Noodle’, from the forthcoming anthology M is for Monster) seemed to go down well – people laughed at the right points, groaned at the right points and apparently ‘got’ the end of it (it’s sort of my homage to Karl Edward Wagner). John L Probert (good friend, fine author and man of impeccable sartorial elegance) told me I read it well, and given that John’s readings are, along with Larry Connolly’s, the best I have ever seen, that’s high praise indeed. After a quick meal in the bar with Paul and Cath Finch, it was time for my first FCon panel, on ‘real fear’. This seemed to go well, and as far as I can tell, I stayed coherent and roughly on topic. It was a strange thing, being on a panel with 5 other (extremely experienced) people: Lisa Tuttle, Steve Volk, Simon Bestwick, Allen Ashley (fine moderator, incidentally!) and Joel Lane, all of whom I’m convinced were more lucid and illuminating than me – most of the time, I felt like pointing at them and simply saying, “Yeah! What they said!”. Even though the panel was at 10.30, it was quite well-attended, and we got some good (if slightly off!) questions. After the panel, I retired to the bar where I had a long chat with Joel Lane, who I’ve never really managed to speak to before and who proved to be groovy and smart.


Saturday I was up bright and early, and by lunch was sitting (*in the bar again) with Marie Regan and Paul Kane and the lovely Johnny Mains and the frankly scary Pixie Pants, sadly having a beer far too early in the day. The Never Again launch occurred at 2, which it was a genuine pleasure to be a part of – Never Again is a lovely looking book, expertly put together by Allyson and Joel and with a gorgeous cover by Daniele Sera. Proceeds from the book go to Amnesty International, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and Pen, so buying it means you not only get a collection of enormously good stories, you get to do social, philosophical and cultural good as well! It was a great pleasure to share the signing with my friends, and to be able to sit next to the lovely Thana Niveau in her first signing! The reviews of Never Again have been extremely positive so far:

Straight after that was the signing for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21, with my story ‘Mami Wata’ in it – more fun and free wine, this time sitting next to Lisa Tuttle, who managed to sign a book she wasn’t in with absolute coolness and aplomb. Then, after Steve Jones’ post-WHC event (and a chance to catch up with Steve and Mandy, which is always good) on to curry with the Ramsey Campbell Message Board mob. Another fine Chutneys’ curry, this time sat next to Allyson Bird and opposite Gary and Emily McMahon, doing little other than gossiping and spreading scurrilous rumours. Marvellous, and a tipped hat to Soozy Marjoram for arranging it all and corralling something like 22 of us into and organised eating collective! Finally, it was back for the awards ceremony, spent drinking far too much free white wine with Jo Fletcher, Steve Jones, Sarah Pinborough and Steve Volk, and a chance to see Sarah, Steve and Rob Shearman deservedly win BFS awards for best novella, collection and anthology respectively. And after that, I most afraid to report, it all gets a little hazy. To my eternal shame, my last clear memory of the evening is being in the bar and sitting with Jo Fletcher, and her husband, Ian Drury, no doubt slurring at them incoherently, and after that…nothing. I am reliably informed I fell asleep at the back of the Pan Book of Horror launch (sorry Johnny!), and that Joel Lane and Simon Bestwick (fine fellows both) eventually managed to wake me and I staggered back to my hotel. Ouch. Sunday was, therefore, and hangover travelling day, which is pretty much what I did – hung right over, and travelled. FCon was, as ever, a great experience, a chance to chance up and gossip and drink with people who I’m proud to call my friends. Roll on the next get together, I say…

Talking of Des Lewis’ real time reviews (which we were), he also reviewed Lost Places the other week, and I’m pleased to say he appeared to love it! Des’ review can be read here:

My own favourite line is this: I’m getting tired of treading on eggshells for fear of being accused of over-praising these stories. Des, as far as I’m concerned, you cannot over-praise Lost Places, but if you’d like to give it a try, I’m happy to listen…

Okay, more news: I’ve formally signed up to produce a collection for a new company, Dark Continents, to be released next year. The collection will be

A Quiet House?

called Quiet Houses, and it will consist of a series of interlinked stories (most of them never-before published) about haunted houses and places. I’m excited about this, as it’s a chance to experiment a little, to try to create something partway between a short novel and a story collection. Dark Continents is a new approach to publishing, being run as a collective, so it’s also exciting to be able to contribute to something that appeals to my equality-loving soul. I’ll provide more news on Quiet Houses as I can, but I can tell you at this point that it’s almost completely unwritten, but that I know in my head all of the stories that I want to include and that I’m getting on with it as soon as I finish my submission for Exotic Gothic 4 (which kicked into high gear this week, thankfully – I only have about another 2000 words to do on the first draft of it and then I can start trimmed and improving). Given that I’ve committed to at least trying to have Quiet Places done early next year, it means all my spare time for writing will have to be spent on this project, meaning that my blog may become sporadic and shorter (stop cheering!).  I’ll give more details of Quiet Houses as and when I can. Watch this space…

And the news keeps on coming! My reading a Morecambe’s Cancer Research shop is definitely on for October 28th, 7-9pm. As well as me reading 3 stories, there should be at least 2 chapbooks for sale as well as the shop’s stock (who have, I am reliably informed, been stockpiling crime, sci-fi and horror stuff for the night – I may have to take some money myself!). We’re also hoping to have refreshments – tea, coffee, cupcakes and maybe wine, all available for an appropriate donation! We will also be raffling possibly the last available paperback copy of Lost Places, signed just after its launch in March. We’re looking at how people who can’t attend may be able to join in the raffle, given the tight gaming rules that cover things like shop raffles, etc, but what we may be able to do is accept money/cheques send via the post – if anyone’s interested in this, contact me and we’ll sort the details out.

I’ve also confirmed that I’m doing a reading as part of the Chorlton Book Festival (I was born in Chorlton, so I offered myself up and they accepted!). This will be in Chorlton Library on the night of Friday 14th November – likely 7 – 8.30pm, two stories with a chance to ask questions if you can be bothered. The Manchester Library Service are also buying 2 hardback copies of Lost Places, which is really exciting – it means that people will be able to read my stuff without paying for it, so hurrah! I’m still waiting for the copy I gave to Morecambe Library to appear on the shelves, and I know I’ll get a huge buzz the first time I see it there among all those other lovely horror books… More details on the Chorlton Book Festival as I get them.

Anything else? What? Oh yeah – my copies of M is for Monster have been (or are about to be) shipped, so fairly soon I’ll be hawking that about – I can confirm that it’s definitely going to be £10 plus whatever postage it needs, and I’ll sign/personalise it if you want. There are 26 stories in this rather fine looking book, and whilst I haven’t read the other stories so can’t technically vouch for them, I’m hopeful that it’ll be a fun, bloody read! Again, get in contact if you’re interested (although bear in mind – I’ve presold 6 copies already, so stocks are limited…).

More? What? Yes! For any of you in the north of England, you might want to check out October’s Lancashire Life magazine – page 252 and 253 contain a large photo and short interview of yours truly  – yes, that’s right, I shamelessly self-promoted myself to Lancashire Life, and they took the bait! It’s actually a really rather a good photo, in which I look both awake and halfway human…

Please God, let it be over, you say, and yes, thankfully for you, it is. I hope to see some of you at the October event, Lords and Ladies, so go back to your lives and get working out the travel details!


  1. RIJU GANGULY said,

    Another collection in the offing, apart from the one scheduled to be published by PS Publishing! We are in for a treat.

  2. Mark said,

    Nice blog (you sat opposite me too in Chutneys, I realise I’m not as attractive as The McMahons and Ally but, you know…) and well done with the new collection!

  3. simonkurtunsworth said,

    YOur faith in me is touching, Riju! And Mark, you were – and too prove I remember, you were wearing a Batman or Spiderman (well, some kind of superhero) T Shirt. We talked about the horror of threatened children at one point! SOrry for missing you out of the role call, mate!

  4. Mark said,

    Ha! I remember the conversation well – it’s interesting, to hear three writers who are also Dad’s, discuss children in horror fiction!

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