Monday, 6 December 2010


My latest short fiction collection -- 'Our Lady of the Shadows' -- is now available for pre-ordering from Dark Regions Press. But I simply had to share with you the video that accompanies the book. It's the first time that I've even seen it, and I think that it's terrific. To have a look yourself, click here.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

3 ... 2 ... 1 ... LAUNCH!

Major conventions are events that see a good number of books being launched, and British FantasyCon -- staged in Nottingham next weekend -- is no exception. And I'm very pleased to be able to say that I have work in three of them this year.

I've already mentioned Never Again in the previous entry in this blog. It has a terrific line up including Lisa Tuttle, Joe R. Lansdale and Ramsey Campbell, as well as many of this country's rising horror stars, and all the proceeds from the book are going to charity.

I don't know why I've not tried out The Black Book of Horror before now ... it's the natural successor to the old Pan and Fontana Books that helped launch my career in the first place. But I put it right this year, with editor Charlie Black accepting 'The In-Betweeners,' the fourth of my tales set in the fictional town of Birchiam-on-Sea on the southern coast of England. (The others, if you're wondering, are 'The Waiters,' 'Birchiam Pier,' and 'Pages from a Broken Book,' and they can all be found amongst my two current collections with Dark Regions Press). The terrific cover, by the way, is the work of Paul Mudie, who was the artist behind the covers for two of my own earlier collections, Passport to Purgatory and No-Man and Other Tales.

Non-fiction rears its prosaic head as well, in the form of a contribution to Cinema Futura, a book full of writers like myself talking about their favourite science fiction movies. So ... much signing, much celebration. It's going to be a busy and a fun weekend.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


A writing career constantly throws up surprises. There is always something new. For instance, I've never been much of a political writer. Politics -- which in theory at least is about rights and wrongs -- and dark fantasy -- which is mostly about degrees of shadow -- do not mix particularly well. But I was asked earlier this year to contribute to an anti-Fascist anthology called Never Again and happily consented. And the end result -- my contribution is a tale called 'Sense' -- is being released next month by Gray Friar Press at British Fantasycon.

But it can get even stranger, taking you in some directions that you thought you'd never go.

Last October, I was at World Fantasy in San Jose when I bumped into Sherlock Holmes afficianado and expert Charles Prepolec. We'd met several times before and got on very well. But this time, Charles said, "I'm putting together a new Holmes anthology [he had edited two already]. How about you try me with a story for it?"

What went through my head was precisely as follows: Flaming hell! A ... what? ... Sherlock Holmes? I've never for the briefest instant contemplated anything like that. I wouldn't know where to start. I've never written in a Victorian idiom, or used that kind of setting. What on earth do I do? Help!

That was what I thought. But I've been writing long enough to understand that a flat refusal can slam shut a door you might regret closing at a later date. So I mumbled something along the lines of "sure, yeah, I'll give it some thought." And that was that.

Honest, I did give it some. But mostly, it was thoughts exactly like the one above. Several months passed, during which I concentrated on a load of other projects. But around the end of January this year, an idea actually began to form. I gave it another week to take shape properly, then sat down at my laptop, not expecting very much. I'd discarded the Victorian setting, but the whole idiom bit still bothered me immensely.

And guess what? My very first Sherlock Holmes story not only came flowing easily from my fingertips, all eight thousand words of it, but it had to be the most fun that I've had from writing in years. And Charles and his co-editor Jeff Campbell seemed to think so too, because "The House of Blood" will be appearing next year in GASLIGHT ARCANUM: UNCANNY TALES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES from Edge Publishing. And I hope Charles asks me again, because I'd love to try my hand at another one.

Friday, 4 June 2010


Louise and I have recently returned from a short trip to the Portugese city of Porto. And as usual, I thought I'd share some of my photos of the place with you.

Friday, 14 May 2010


I pretty much cut my teeth writing ghost stories. In fact, some of my earliest and best-remembered tales were written for R. Chetwynd-Hayes' Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories back in the late Eighties, and continue to be reprinted to this day. But that was only three of them. I've continued to delve into the realms of the supernatural since then, most notably with stories like 'Hanako from Miyazaki' in Cemetery Dance.

And now, I'm delighted to be able to announce that the excellent Dark Regions Press -- who have already published two collections of my work, Shadows and Other Tales and more recently the terrifically stylish-looking Going Back -- are planning to bring out a new book gathering together all my ghost (and ghostlike) short fiction. 'Our Lady of the Shadows' is due out early next year, and will consist of a full-sized novella and a whole bunch of shorter tales, including four brand-new ones written specially for the collection. They're 'After the Storm,' set in Penang, Malaysia; 'The Tappleworth Angel,' set on the Devon moors; 'Real Life,' a bitterly humourous take on New York literary life; and 'The Winter People,' the first short tale set in my fictional town Raine's Landing, Massachusetts.

There'll be internal illustrations for at least five of the stories, and if Dark Regions' past efforts are anything to go by this is going to be one hell of a fine-looking collection. I'll let you have more news when it reaches me.

Incidentally, Black Static magazine's book critic Peter Tennant has just posted an extensive review of 'Going Back.' You can read it here.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Just recently back from the stunningly beautiful Spanish city of Valencia, where they've been celebrating their annual festival Las Fallas (pronounced 'fayas' -- the fires). It marks the transition from winter to spring, as well as being the holiday of St. Joseph, the national saint.

About one and a half million extra people flood into the city centre. The streets become thronged, sometimes unbearably so. There are parades and bands and huge displays of lights and flowers. Kids let off firecrackers in every available free space, and there are massive organised versions of such -- called mascletas -- which can be heard right across town and literally make the ground shake. And most of this goes on well into the small hours. Valencians are true night-owls, and the place is still like Oxford Street come Christmastime at three in the morning. The figurines you see in every square, incidentally, are called ninots. They are made of papier mache and are vast. And at the end of the fiesta, they get set on fire, to the accompaniment of a massive firework display. I thought I'd share some of the images from my visit with you.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


My 2007 collection Going Back got a load of praise and good reviews, earned me a British Fantasy Award nomination, and turned out to be Elastic Press' top selling single-author collection. But editor/proprietor Andrew Hook closed Elastic down a while back after four very successful years, and the book's been out of print since then.

But now, the excellent California-based Dark Regions Press -- who published Shadows and Other Tales in 2008 -- has stepped into the breach and brought out a new, expanded edition. There's a great new cover by Frank Walls. And, in addition to the original fourteen tales, there are four newer ones from the pages of Black Static magazine and The British Invasion.

This bigger, even better version of the original book is now available for sale in paperback and collector's hardback, and you can find out more about it simply by clicking here.

Monday, 22 February 2010


London has its major locations for the performing arts ... the Old Vic and the National when it comes to theatre, the Festival Hall and the Barbican when there's music involved. And they're fine and important places, for sure. But they're not what really makes this city the thriving cultural hotspot that it is. No, it's the hundreds of tiny little venues which do that, the nooks and crannies and the upstairs rooms where new ideas can be tried out, fresh talents flexed, minority tastes catered to and old triumphs revived. These places might turn a small profit, but they're mostly labours of love, kept going by people who genuinely care about the branch of the arts they're into. And I've been visiting a couple of them recently.

Come out at Waterloo Station, head down The Cut past the Old Vic and you'll eventually come to a big, Victorian-looking railway bridge. And tucked beneath the left side of the arch you'll find the Union Theatre, which has been there for a while and which I've visited a few times. They were showing a revival of Doug Lucie's 1980's hit 'Progress' on this occasion, a darkly funny satire about one of that decade's oddest creatures, the 'new man.' The auditorium must only take a hundred people at a squeeze, and the occasional train rumbles overhead during the performance, but that only makes your evening a more unique occasion. And the Union has a nice little bar which gets very bustly once the show is over; you can even chat with the cast of the play you've just been watching. And when do you get to do that at the National?

Then on Friday I went with my old pal Andy Snipper to a fairly new music spot, the Map Cafe in Kentish Town (pictured; copyright (c) Andy Snipper 2010). Downstairs it's a cosy eatery with friendly staff and good, inexpensive grub, the latter a massive rarity in London. But go up a steep flight of stairs at the back and you find yourself in a tiny club, laid out coffee-house style but with a bar. Pianist Leon Greening was the act that night. He and his trio started out playing some fairly standard mainstream jazz, but were then joined by renowned trumpeter Damon Brown who brought a welcome breath of 'cool' to the occasion, and the set really took off. All of this to a 'packed house' of about two dozen fans, ranging in age from eighteen to eighty. It was a lot more fun, believe me, than any mega concert at the Festival Hall.

So let's hear it for small. You can't globalize it. You can't corporatize it. You can't even control it very much. Small is what keeps our culture genuinely fresh, and the world would be a ... well ... a very much smaller place without it.

(You can read Andy's review of the Map Cafe and Leon Greening here).

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Issue #4 of the great horror anthology Terror Tales is now out from Rainfall Books. It's edited by John B. Ford and Paul Kane, and I'm delighted to say it carries a reprint of one of my best early stories. I was living in Bayswater, five minutes walk from Hyde Park, back in 1983. The UK was headed into the affluent times of the mid-Eighties, but not everyone was benefiting by a long shot. In fact, I'd noticed a growing number of homeless people on the streets of my neighborhood ... I suppose the park was a big draw for them. And it struck me, very forcefully, that they had been shunted out of normal society so completely they were almost like a separate race. Which inspired me to sit down and write, fairly quickly I recall, a short tale called 'Discards,' in which I dealt with the whole subject in fantasy terms. I posted it -- yup, there was only snail mail in those days -- to Ed Ferman in New York, who wrote back a few days later telling me he was accepting it for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. And it appeared in the September of that year. How very good to see it in print again after all this time.

One thing, though. As regards those people living on the streets, the story hasn't dated in the least little bit. It is just as accurate and relevant today as it was twenty-seven years ago.

On a lighter note, Black Static magazine's distinguished fiction critic, Peter Tennant, has just released his list of the Best Horror and Dark Fantasy books of 2009, and Night of Demons is on it.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Here's the cover for my first novella in more than two years, due out from Screaming Dreams Publishing in March. 'Yuppieville' follows the fortunes of a young couple who move from L.A. to a newly built town in Nevada, looking for a safer, more contented kind of lifestyle. Naturally, they don't find it. Yup, there's something very wrong behind the facade of the place. You'll have to wait a couple of months to find out what that is.

The artwork is by Steve Upham, who runs Screaming Dreams. I thought I was a perfectionist, but man! Steve showed me fifteen versions before we arrived at one that he was happy with. Thanks to him for the terrific work. And the book will be out just in time for World Horror, Brighton.