SeventySixth Time

July 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm (Uncategorized)

More news on Quiet Houses! Here’s the full blurb for this forthcoming collection…:


“Quietly impressive, quietly ambitious and loudly terrifying.” – Gary McMahon




“No-one could be that unhappy and be alive…” A chambermaid’s seemingly innocent request is granted, an act of kindness that has dire consequences for a guest at THE ELMS, MORECAMBE…


“I wish I had been right; I wish that it had been a man, or death alone, that had found her…” An unearthly light in an abandoned bungalow resolves the mystery of a missing child, but no human force has taken her. An entity that fishes for children is in THE MERRY HOUSE, SCALE HALL..


“Go beyond the graves, and they will come to you.” An invitation to a clifftop graveyard leads to a harrowing chase by things that remain unseen, their hunger unknown and never satisfied, BEYOND ST PATRICK’S CHAPEL.


“The great delight in being part of the Save Our Shit crew was that sometimes they could persuade those designers of the present and the future to save or incorporate the past into their designs.” In THE OCEAN GRAND hotel, work is underway to upgrade the  building but something is stalking the workers…


“Something white came out. Something white, screaming and screaming…” Jobs fit for heroes, they were promised after the Great War. They were given something else in THE TEMPLE OF RELIEF AND EASE.


There is a hidden agenda to paranormal researcher Richard Nakata’s investigations into these houses. A commission that witnesses cattle lowing in the cowsheds of STACK’S FARM long after they’ve been slaughtered, and a reckoning in the showhouse of 24 GLASSHOUSE, as he and his colleagues pay the price for creating their own ghost…


Simon Kurt Unsworth reinvents the classic English ghost story with a portmanteau collection that takes the haunted house genre and makes it scream…quietly.

Because the most terrifying screams are the silent ones.

“A major new talent in the horror genre.” – Pete Tennant

Quiet Houses flyer



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SeventyFifth Time

June 19, 2011 at 7:50 am (Uncategorized)

Hey, this it’s only about 3 weeks since the last blog, I’m getting better!

Quiet Houses

So, news: well, the first and main thing is that Quiet Houses is done! Well, I say ‘done, what I mean is that I’ve finished my draft and sent it to my editor at Dark Continents. I haven’t heard back from her about it yet, but I’ve no doubt she’ll have some suggestions as to improving it, so ‘finished’ in this sense means ‘nearly finished’. Still, I’m hoping that now we’re on the home straight with it, and I’m really, really happy with what I’ve written. Quiet Houses is seven stories with linking sections, where each story works hopefully as standalone tales but also contributes to the bigger picture. But what, oh curious folks, is that bigger picture? You’ll have to buy it and find out! The plan is still to launch at FantasyCon in Brighton, probably on the Friday night, and Dark Continents will start taking pre-orders from 1st September. All of my blurbs are in as well, and they’re all really positive: we’ve pulled together a flyer for the book, which contains some of them – see how much they love me? By all means distribute the flyer as widely as you like! As more details get sorted, I’ll be sure to post them here – I’m hoping to do some publicity for the book at the end of summer, so there may be chances for you to hear me do readings, etc…

Other news: My Spectral Signature Edition collection is developing nicely. After discussions with Simon, we decided to add an extra edition to the print run, a very limited (10 copies) edition, and into each one I’ll write a unique piece of flash fiction (about 250 words). These will retail for around £100 (£45 for the ‘normal’ deluxe edition), but the bad news is: they’re all gone! Simon has set up a reserve list, no payment now, and all 10 have been reserved. Simon’s also got a backup list in case anyone decides they don’t want one, so it’s still worth getting in touch if you’re interested. And here’s a little tempt for you: if you miss the very limited edition, get yourself a normal deluxe and then hunt me down at a con – buy me a drink and I’ll write you a personalised message that might be a bit fictional in it… Go to the Spectral Press site (in my links) for more details.

Okay, that’s it I think. Have fun, lords and ladies, and back soon! Probably!

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SeventyFourth Time

May 22, 2011 at 7:54 am (Uncategorized)

An author relaxes prior to the veritable writing frenzy that approaches...

And here’s another in my series of infrequent blogs. I wish I had an excuse for the length of time between the posts, that I could say I’d been involved in helping to plan the Osama ‘killing in the name of mercy and compassion’ mission, or that I’d been doing charitable works, but I’ve not. Basically, I’m lazy.

Anyway, I do have some news: I finally finished my story for Dean Drinkel’s A-Z Phobias anthology! ‘Qiqirn’ has been submitted and I’m awaiting Dean’s decision. The story (as is traditional) came out somewhat different than I first planned, but I’m really quite happy with it. I hope Dean likes it, but if not, that’s life… EDIT: Dean read it, liked it and it’s in! Result!

I also, for the first time, got asked to pitch a story for a professional anthology! The antho sounds good (I don’t think I’m allowed to say what it is yet, so I won’t just in case) – I made my pitch, and it got accepted! Now I have a maximum of two months to do the story… Actually, it’s less than that because there needs to be some editing time, so for the first time, I think I’m going to take the MacBook with me on holiday and work whilst away. This is an interesting proposition, really, because the antho is set in a world that already exists and which has its own rules and tone, and I’m not sure yet quite what to do – try to match the tone or just write something in my own ‘voice’. I’m thinking the latter, because, ultimately, the commissioners must have had some idea of the stuff I do when they approached me. It should be fun, seeing what I can do – gleeful mayhem with depressing tonal overlay approaches…

…of course, the tight timeframe means that I’m even more under the gun regarding Quiet Houses, although I did complete the penultimate story for it

A Quiet House?

this week (which turned out to be huge – about 10,000 words!). Quiet Houses is shaping up really nicely now, and I’m really pleased with it – I had my first blurb for it this week, which was really positive and included the phrase “loudly terrifying”! Marvellous!

Black Static 22, containing my story ‘Child’, has been reviewed here:  I particularly like the use of the word “outstanding’, which I think is fair comment!

Anything else? No..oh, wait, yes: I SOLD ANOTHER COLLECTION! Following a number of discussions with Simon Marshall-Jones of Spectral Press, I’m pleased to be able to announce that we have agreed that, in early 2013, Spectral will launch a new line, the Spectral Signature Editions, a series of single author collections. The first of these will be Spectral Signature Edition 1: Simon Kurt Unsworth! I’m launching the line! This will be a very limited edition hardback (100 copies) containing a mix of previously published and new stories, fully illustrated and numbered and signed by both author (me!) and the illustrator (dunno who yet!). This is promising to be a really nice book – the Spectral chapbooks are great little items, and are picking up really nice reviews, so it’s exciting to be part of its development as a publisher. More details (including table of contents, etc) as I get them. Oh, a thing to think about: I don’t know if Simon’s taking official pre-orders yet, but I know that 2 of the 100 have already been reserved, so you might want to get in fast as I’m not sure that they’ll last long… Details can be found on the Spectral blog here:

Well, I think that’s it for now. Go on, be about your business, I have stories to write, collections to put together and a portmanteau to finish! Later, Lords and Ladies!

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SeventyThird Time

April 2, 2011 at 7:22 am (Uncategorized)

A good week!

First, I heard that my story ‘Photographs of Boden’ has been accepted for Willie Meikle’s cancer-themed (and charitable) anthology The Unspoken, which is great news. I was kind of influential in The Unspoken‘s existence – Willie heard about my Halloween gig for Cancer Research and this, coupled with his own dad’s fight against cancer, led him to think about doing something to raise money for cancer research – so it’s really good to have made the cut, in an anthology that aims to do at least some good in this world. Result!

Next, I heard that ‘The Lemon in the Pool’, from Lost Places, has been chosen by Stephen Jones for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 22 – result 2! That’s the third BNH I’ve made it into, and it’s still a hugely exciting thing. I assume that this’ll be launched at FCon (which I’m going to incidentally) as usual…

Third, I also heard that Stephen Jones has taken my story ‘The Hurting Words’ (which was originally called ‘The Thirteen’ and then ‘The Five’, fact fans) for a new anthology called Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead. Result 3! ‘The Hurting Words’ is a longer story (11500 words) so it’ll be interesting to see how people react to it. The anthology is out later this year, I think, so more news on that as I get it.

A weird thing: a short statement from my interview with Billie Mulholland has been quoted and then repeated on Twitter about 15 times! Weird to think something I said in an interview is now my most-republished piece of work…

Lastly, I’ve been interviewed again, this time by Jim Macleod. The interview, in which I rant, rave and use too many exclamation marks, can be read here:

Okay, I think that’s your lot this week. Life calls, and I fear I have to answer its hectoring cry. Later, Lords and Ladies!

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SeventySecond Time

March 20, 2011 at 8:26 am (Uncategorized)

…and I’m back! Yes, yes, I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been living a life of high intrigue and shenanigans at an international level…or I’ve just been being lazy. Doing the blog every week was definitely too much too often (I don’t have that much news, after all) but when I do it every two weeks, I tend to forget. Or think, Next week…

Anyway, it’s blog time again, and I do actually have news! The first exciting thing is that my story ‘Rough Music’ has been accepted for publication by Simon Marshall-Jones’ Spectral Press! Hurrah! Spectral is a really nice outfit, and an interesting approach: limited editions of 100 single story chapbooks, with a set number sold by subscription and the rest available as single purchases. Details of my story and the press in general can be found here:

I’d urge you to join while (a limited) number of subscriptions available – tell Simon that Simon sent you, he won’t give you a discount or anything (it’s only about £10 for three chapbooks!) but it will make me look good…

Right, further news: my story ‘Child’ has been accepted for Black Static magazine! Hurrah 2! This is my third acceptance in Black Static, which I’m really pleased about! Andy Cox (the editor) tells me that he hopes that ‘Child’ will appear in the next issue, so get ready folks….

I’ve been interviewed! The lovely Billie Mulholland asked if I’d answer questions for her blog, which I naturally agreed to (there nothing I like better than talking about myself, after all), and the results can be seen here:

The interview seems to have gone down pretty well, which is gratifying…

There’s another sale but I can’t tell you about that at the moment. Suffice it to say I’m very excited about it, and more news when I get it!

One more piece of news: this last couple of weeks, I’ve entered the epublishing world! Yes, it’s true, I decided to experiment and put together a short collection of (mostly) new tales and uploaded them to Smashwords:

To Amazon UK (note 5 star review!):

And Amazon US:

So, those of you with Kindles or other ebook readers or who read ebooks on your phone/computer, what are you waiting for? Less than 50p per story? A picture of Morecambe with my wife and child in the distance as the cover (designed by Simon Maarshall-Jones)? A damned bargain I’d say!

On last plug: Gaslight Arcanum, the follow-up anthology to Gaslight Grotesque, containing my  story ‘A Country Death’ (featuring a death occurring in the country and an investigation of said death, with much mysteriourness and terror in association…) is up for pre-order! It can be purchased from Amazon UK or Amazon US at:

[EDIT]: One more thing, I promise! Those lovely people at Twisted Tales have interviewed me, and I almost sound like I know what I’m talking about:

I think that’s it…the work on Quiet Houses continues chugging along, with only a couple of stories left to do. I have my cover artist lined up (more news soon!) and it’s definitely being launched at FantasyCon 2011 in Brighton, along with Dave Jeffries’ Campfire Chillers. Should be fun, and I expect to see you there…

Right, that’s it I think. It’s enough to be going on with, isn’t it? So what are you waiting for? Go buy stuff!

Later, Lords and Ladies…

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SeventyFirst Time

January 30, 2011 at 10:36 am (Uncategorized)

…and the blogosphere has been re-entered!

Okay, so first an apology: I haven’t written a blog in about three months, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I didn’t really feel that I had much to say, and I don’t want the blog to become simply a place where I ramble incoherently and hope people read (there’s an obvious joke there: I don’t mind if you make it). The second, more important reason is that I needed to spend some time concentrating on my family. I’ve come to realise that, over the previous year or so, I’ve been treating those people who are most important to me pretty badly, letting my own stresses find outlets in bad moods and short tempers and bad behaviour, so I spent some time generally trying to chill out and not be so much of a monster. The apology therefore, is to anyone who wondered where my blog was (and thanks for those of you who told me they’ve enjoyed reading my posts and were waiting for more – it’s nice to know that the blog has a few fans!), but mostly to Wendy and Ben for being so difficult to live with these last months. It’s taken a while, but things feel like they’re back on track, so normal service can, so far as it goes, be resumed…

So, where are we: well, there’s been no new acceptances although I have had some good feedback on one story that is being considered at the moment – more news on that as I get it. Perhaps most excitingly, Lost Places has had its first print review, in the latest issue of Black Static magazine, and guess what? It’s a corker! Pete Tennant appears to love Lost Places, and describes me as a major new voice in genre fiction! Result. Pete then went further on his own blog, describing Lost Places as his joint first favourite collection of the year! Result 2! Pete’s blog can be read here:

He get’s all rapsodic about me in the blog entry Pete’s Picks 2010…

What else? Oh yeah – Lost Places is now available in Morecambe Library! They finally (after a nagging email from me) got their act together and put it on the system and on the shelf, so the good people of Morecambe can now read my work…

And there’s more: last week, I did another performance at Lancaster’s Spotlight Club, this time of the story ‘Borough Station’. Footage of said performance (including the presence of a deeply sexy guest voice) can be viewed here:

And lastly (for now), the fist story from my Quiet Houses collection (which is about half done, incidentally, and still on track to appear on or around Halloween this year) has been turned into an audio, and can be heard (for free!) here (follow the link at the bottom of the page):

I think that’s it for now. I’ll probably get back into blogging around every couple of weeks, bringing all the news that’s fit to print… Sayonara, Lords and Ladies – back soon!

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Seventieth Time

November 28, 2010 at 10:52 am (Uncategorized)

An author relaxes

Well, it’s been a few weeks since my last blog (I’ve given y’all a break from me, you lucky things), so it’s time for a catch up, ruminative sort of entry. These last few weeks have seen some successes, some not so successful things and some new ventures, and I’m only just finding space to think about them.

Let’s get the less successful out of the way first, shall we? Despite being included in the (rather glossy and well-produced) literature (10,000 leaflets and posters, apparently!) and pushing it fairly heavily here and on facebook, the Chorlton Library gig wasn’t well attended – in fact, there were only library staff and family there! Still, the library staff didn’t seem bothered (doing the gig on a Friday night, up against the turning on of Manchester’s Christmas lights, was always a risk) and appeared to like the stories, and I’ve managed to put my aunty Jenny off both noodles and mashed potato by reading ‘N is for Noodle’, so it wasn’t a complete washout. I’m hoping the library will have me back next year, although we might need to think a  bit more carefully about how, where and when we do it. It was fun to do, though, and means I had more practice at readings, which is always useful.

The Twisted Tales event, in Liverpool, on the other hand, was a big winner, with around 45 people in the audience to hear me, Paul Finch and Graham Joyce read stories. People seemed to like all the readings, and Black Static certainly sold some subscriptions and issues which is great. One slightly weird thing was that I’d underestimated the age of the crowd, so I’m not sure how much resonance the story I read (‘An Afternoon with Danny’) will have had for some of them (although Ramsey Campbell’s wife Jenny told me it made her think of her son being young, which is as good a result as I can have hoped for, I think!), so I might have to think about that in future – it may be that I need to try to read more ‘generic’ horror stories rather than focus in on the emotional, chid-in-peril ones. In that sense, ‘N is for Noodle’ is turning out to be one of my favourite stories to read aloud (despite the fact that it’s essentially a very silly story!), which I hadn’t anticipated. I’m enjoying readings the more I do them, and I think it’s something I’m going to try and do more of next year.

Incidentally, related to that, the money donated to Cancer Research following the reading event in October has now reached over £150, so thanks to everyone who came along or bought stuff afterwards: there are still some Pennine Tower Update chapbooks left, so if anyone wants one (£3 including P&P in the UK, £1 to Cancer Research), contact me direct and we’ll get it sorted.

So, where am I now (bear with me while I get reflective)? Well, I launched my debut collection, Lost Places, at the World Horror Convention in March, courtesy of Ash Tree Press, who produced a beautiful book (with an eyecatching, startling, beautiful cover by Jason van Hollander). Reviews have so far been excellent, although few and far between, and I’m hoping for another positive review from Pete Tennant when he writes about the collection (in Black Static 20, I’m told, which is exciting if nervewracking….). It’s be great if Lost Places  (or stories from it) picked up award nominations next year, but I doubt they will, and as ever I’m hoping that Stephen Jones or Ellen Datlow will take something from it for their Mammoth or Year’s Best anthologies. I’ve had two stories published in the excellent Black Static, both of which seem to have gone down well, and stories in the anthologies Never Again, Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21, Where the Heart Is and M is for Monster. I’ve been accepted for the next Edge Publications Sherlock Holmes anthology, Gaslight Arcanum and have submitted to Danel Olson for Exotic Gothic 4, and hope to hear back from him soon. I’ve old a collection, Strange Gateways, to PS Publishing for release in 2012, and another, Quiet Houses, to Dark Continents for release in 2011. I think, on the whole, I am allowed to call this a good year. I’m not going to claim that writing’s hard, precisely, in comparison to things like brain surgery or coal mining, but I have put a lot of effort in to making what I produce as good as I can, so it’s gratifying when it gets accepted and goes down well.

So, what next? Well, Quiet Houses is the key thing, because its due out in summer 2011 and I’ve not written it yet. After that, I have stories promised for Simon Marshall-Jones’ new Spectral Press imprint, and one for Willie Meikle’s cancer-themed charity anthology. And then, unless new opportunities present themselves (which I hope they do!), it’s on with the novel. Basically, it’s fingers to the keyboard and type away and we’ll see where it takes me. T0 various unpleasant, grim and grouchy places in my head, I suspect, but never mind… Fancy coming along for the ride?

Oh, one last thing: if you fancy getting a sneak preview of the first story in Quiet Houses, it’s been recorded as an audio and released as a free podcast! It’s a little strange at first (for me at least) to hear it read in a London accent, but it works really well I think. You can hear it here:

One other last thing: there are now only two copies of the hardback of Lost Places left here, so if anyone wants to buy one they need to move quick. It’s £25 plus postage, and can be signed/personalised if you want. I also have copies of M is for Monster left (again, not many), so if you’re interested, contact me and I’ll let you know how to purchase them. If someone wants to buy both, I’m open to negotiating a reduced price…

That’s it, Lords and Ladies! Back to your lives…

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SixtyNinth Time

November 7, 2010 at 9:37 am (Uncategorized)

A very fast post this week, don’t be panicking that you’ve got to read much.

It’s nice to be able to confirm to more readings for you, these not arranged by yours truly (important, because it means someone else wants me rather than me foisting myself on an unsuspecting public!). The first is at Chorlton Library on November 12th at 7pm, where I’ll be appearing as part of the Chorlton Book Festival. This is a free reading, just me – I think two stories plus time to answer questions (assuming anyone’s got any), and I’ll be selling copies of Lost Places, M is for Monster and the extended ‘Pennine Tower Restaurant’ chapbook (with money still going to Cancer Research for each copy sold). Full details of the festival can be found here:

The second reading is at the second Twisted Tales Event on November 26th at the Liverpool One Waterstones, 6 – 8pm. I’ll be appearing with Paul Finch and Graham Joyce, each of us reading one story, and tickets are £2 (redeemable against any book you buy, I think). Bargain! Details of this can be found here:

In other (brief) news, I’ve now completed 3 stories (in draft at least) for the Quiet Houses collection, and feedback has so far been pretty good. I won’t have much time to write this week, but am aiming to have at least two more completed before Christmas…watch this space!

Right, I told you it was short! Sayonara, Lords and Ladies! Back soon!

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SixtyEighth Time

October 31, 2010 at 9:14 am (Uncategorized)

It’s been a while since I blogged, and I’d like to claim it was because I’ve been busy doing all sorts of exciting things…but it’s not, it’s mainly that I’m lazy. Anyway, some stuff has happened, so here it is: update time!

First, Pete Tennant has reviewed quite a few of my stories in Black Static #19 (whilst reviewing lots of different anthologies). Of the five stories he reviewed, he liked 4 (calling ‘Mami Wata’ from The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #21 a ‘highlight’ of the collection!). The only one he wasn’t convinced by was ‘Traffic Stream’ from The Black Book of Horror 6, which he described as being like a real life Pacman (an oddly accurate description of what was in my head when I wrote it!) and he didn’t like the fact that the characters were named Bird and Samuels. Oh well, can’t win ’em all!

I’ve finally finished the horse demon story, which is now called ‘The Fourth Horse’. It’s been submitted, so fingers crossed…

Work on Quiet Houses is now well and truly underway. I’ve completed (to second draft level, anyway) two of the main stories and three of the wraparound sections, and aim to have another underway by the end of the coming week. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and have some ideas that I’m looking forward to messing around with in later tales. As ever, whilst writing one of the stories, ‘The Elms, Morecambe’, odd little sentences were bubbling out that will have an influence on later stories, which is really exciting. My portmanteau character suddenly feel real as opposed to a useful cypher for moving between the stories, which is great because that means he’s an actual character as opposed to a cardboard one. More news as and when it arrives…

M is for Monster - available now!

In other news, my copies of M is for Monster have arrived, and  a lovely looking thing it is too. The cover picture (by John Prescott, who also compiled the book) is eyecatching, the back cover has a lovely background detail of scaly flesh behind the blurb… The contents, I’m sorry to say, I’ve not read, but there are some excellent authors in there. I’ve noticed a couple of typos so far, but for an essentially one-man show, I think John’s done a great job. It’ll be interesting to see how it translates to Dark Contents, where John will be part of a wider team – it does strike me as a really good sign both for Dark Continents and also for my collection with them! M is for Monster is for sale through Amazon as both hardcopy or download ( currently, with to follow), but if you’re in the UK, you can buy it directly from me – it’s £10 plus postage, copies will be signed (and personalised if you want), contact me direct for details. However, you might want to move quickly as my copies are selling fast – the Old Pier Bookshop in Morecambe has agreed to sell copies for me, so have taken half my stock and may need more if it goes well there…

On Thursday 28th, I finally did my reading for Cancer Research UK in Morecambe. We had a good crowd (about 25 people in all – the shop was completely full) and feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive (mostly, it has to be said, for the fantastic cupcakes Wendy made!). Overall, we raised nearly £150 for the store, and may make more yet as I still have some of the chapbooks specially produced for the event to sell. It’s an extended version of the ‘Pennine Tower Restaurant’ true story, and it’s £3 inc postage (to the UK – overseas I have to charge a bit  for postage, I’m afraid), of which Cancer Research get £1. I also have one or two copies of  my original Ghostwriter Chapbooks (containing the stories ‘Marley’s Haunting’ and ‘Button’) for sale, and will donate part of the profit from them to Cancer Research as well. Because of their rarity, these are £4 each inc. postage (more for overseas, as above), and again can be personalised/signed as desired. Anyone interested, contact me direct…

…and an interesting thing came out of the reading: Willie Meikle, fellow horror author, has decided to jointly edit an anthology called The Big C, for release next year, an anthology to raise money for cancer research charities both here and in the US, and he’s asked me to be involved. I’m really pleased to have been asked, and have of course agreed to write something (no idea what yet, though!), as have Gary McMahon, Steve Duffy, Allyson Bird, Johnny Mains and a whole bunch of other great authors. It’s another great project to be involved in, and from my perspective shows again how genuinely intelligent, caring and proactive are my friends and peers in the horror field. We may never lead the world, but we may yet change it for the better…

And there’s more (as Jimmy Crickett used to say): it’s been confirmed that I’m doing a reading as part of the Chorlton Book Festival. It’ll be on November 12th at 7pm in Chorlton Library. I’ll post links when I get them, but as far as I know, it’s a free gig. If you come along, you’ll have the opportunity to watch/listen to me read two stories with my entire family (including grandparents) in attendance, which means no swearing or jokes about masturbation. Damn, that’s most of my repertoire gone… I’m also fairly sure that I’m doing something in Liverpool on the evening of November 26th (no, a reading, not just getting drunk!). Again, more details as I get them.

I think that’s it for news, but I wanted to bring up one thing that’s been on my mind a bit recently: ebook readers. My initial approach to them was to say, NO! Very Luddite, I agree, but it seemed to me that we had created something that we simply didn’t need – books being a near-perfect machine as far as I’m concerned. However, I’m beginning to change my mind a bit. Part of the reason is pragmatic: ebook readers are clearly here to stay, and assuming they work as well as people claim they may be useful (lighter than books, for one) and extremely good for things like textbooks (having the Community Care Law and other legal stuff with me on an ebook reader when I’m training would be fantastically useful!). The other reason is that more and more of the companies I work with are focussing on ebook publications either solely or in part, and I’d like to be able to have all the available versions of the works I’m included in. So, I can feel a ‘can I have a Kindle’ request approaching soon…. Anyone got any thoughts/advice on this?

Oh, one last thing: I’ve seen the early version of my website and it’s great – special thanks to Andrew for building it! I need to write some stuff for it, and then we hope to launch it properly in a week or two. Watch this space…

Right, I think that’s your lot. Back again soon, Lords and Ladies!

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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!

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