Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Power of Three - 7th Installment

As the holiday season draws to a close, and we return to the grim reality of two more months of winter only now without the Christmas trimmings, we return in The Power of Three to the grim reality of horror stories without the solace of a festive theme. So here are three more for your delectation. Again, we’re a day earlier than usual (because tomorrow there’ll be the distraction of preparing for the last boozefest of 2010), but hopefully that won’t lessen the impact. As always, this trio has been drawn by lot. There are no connections between these tales that I’m aware of. However, this week’s choices were fortuitous, in that they are all classics by any standards.

Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

A monstrous humanoid, an ogre in the traditional medieval style, is released from an underground chamber, and rampages through the rural backwaters of Kent, killing and devouring people (and in some cases, sexually abusing them first). When all else appears lost, the father of one of its victims stands up to it, determined to send it back to Hell.

For my money, one of the best horror stories ever written. Gruesome, violent and sadistic; reminiscent of some of the most frightening childhood fairy tales, yet totally original in that the monster is superimposed on a modern community, which, having abandoned the spiritual side of life, has no idea how to deal with such a problem. It’s also riddled with ancient mystery, is magnificently well-written, and, if that isn’t enough, carries a subtext concerning the decline of rural society and its values. A true horror masterpiece, so disappointingly adapted on celluloid that Clive disowned the resulting movie (pictured) which is good news for us, because that means we can concentrate on the story instead.

First published in BOOKS OF BLOOD, VOLUME 3, 1984.

Imprisoned With The Pharaohs by H.P. Lovecraft

When a magician visits Cairo on holiday, he is captured by a group of villainous Arabs and abandoned in the depths of a remote temple, where he is menaced by all kinds of evil forces invoked by the pagan entities lurking under the Egyptian desert.

Obsessed with the mysteries, intrigues and romances of ancient cultures, HP really lets rip in this timeless tale from the ‘pulp’ era. Originally ghost-written for Harry Houdini, who was hoping to pass it off as a real life experience, this sumptuously written novelette becomes a tour de force of terror as our trapped hero is pursued relentlessly through eldritch vaults and chambers by nameless horrors which we can only be glad he can’t see in the obsidian blackness. A supernatural masterpiece, which stands alongside any of Lovecraft’s other works, both in terms of its opulent style and its nightmarish imagery.

First published in WEIRD TALES, 1924.

Root Cause by Ramsey Campbell

A new librarian is posted to a run-down corner of town, where his growing sense of unease owes not just to the presence of hooligan gangs, but to an increasingly eerie atmosphere, which he begins to suspect may have roots in the distant past.

Yet another beauty from the lord of the urban unreal. Paranoia abounds as a typically Campbell-esque protagonist – lacking confidence and stature, unrated by his peers, frustrated and frightened by a world he no longer recognises – feels himself increasingly marooned in a place where bad things have always happened and in fact still do. As so often with Ramsey, a malevolent history is constantly trying to break through into the mundane present, so it isn’t just a mental aberration we are dealing with here. The mystery element is an additional joy – we really want to know what the problem is with this place, and we aren’t disappointed. Despite all the tension and terror, Ramsey neatly ties everything together in the end.

First published in NIGHT VISIONS 3, 1986.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Sentinels of the New Dawn - all set to go

My latest Dr Who audio adventure, SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN, is due for release in April, but is now available for pre-order from Big Finish.

It forms part of the Companion Chronicles series, and sees Caroline John recreate her character from early 1970s, Liz Shaw – a beauty with brains – who assisted the third Doctor (Jon Pertwee, pictured) during what was probably his most traumatic season (certainly in terms of alien ruthlessness and human body-count). Some of the classic and genuinely terrifying adventures she shared with him included SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE, THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH, and one of the most ingenious and frightening Dr Who stories of them all, INFERNO.

SENTINELS takes place shortly after Liz has left UNIT and returned to Cambridge. The Doctor isn’t far away, of course, and when a problem arises with the new time dilation experiments, it’s an obvious solution to call him in to assist. However, neither of them could have expected the terror that awaits them when they are flung forward into the year 2014 …

It’s a boast I’ve made in the past, and I’ve no shame in making it again: in the early 1990s, Jon Pertwee read a science fiction story of mine, A GLITCH IN TIME, on a collection of spoken world sci-fi stories called OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was one of the last pieces of work Jon did before he died. As far as I’m aware, that makes me one of the few Dr Who writers working today who wrote for the late, great Mr. Pertwee. Sorry, but as he was ‘my Doctor’, so to speak, I can’t help but feel privileged about it.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Mysteries from the age of classic horror

I’m delighted to be able to say that Christmas Day will see the return of one of my favourite heroes, Jim Craddock – in a four-story collection, ebook form, courtesy of Ghostwriter Press. Check out this rather sexy advert, put together with some aplomb by Neil Jackson.

Paul Finch - Craddock eBook Commercial.wmv

Some of you may have met Craddock before. He’s a police detective in Victorian England, who, thanks to his military service in India, now specialises in weird, bizarre and occult-related cases. I first started writing his adventures back in the 1990s. His debut story was THE MAGIC LANTERN SHOW, which puts him on the trail of a serial strangler with supernatural powers. That tale made its first appearance in a chapbook of mine, THE DARK SATANIC (Enigmatic Novellas) in 1999, and was the obvious one with which to kick off this collection.

Craddock’s follow-up tale to this was SHADOWS IN THE RAFTERS, in which the abductions of several street-children leads him to something more loathsome than even he could ever have imagined. This story was first published in BY THE GAS FLAME FLICKERING (BJM Press) in 2000, and is also reprinted here.

His third outing was THE WEEPING IN THE WITCH HOURS, in which Craddock is taken out of his familiar coal-blackened Lancashire, and plunged into the remoteness of the fen country, where the deaths of two clergymen are linked to a spectre from the distant past. Those who enjoy their terror tales with a Jamesian flavour should enjoy this one. It first appeared in DARKNESS RISING (Prime Books) in 2003, and is here reprinted for the first time.

Last but not least is an all-new Craddock adventure, never published until now. THE COILS UNSEEN sends our laconic hero after a dangerous fugitive, who hides out in the beached wreck of a haunted prison ship, where he assumes that no-one will have the guts to look for him. What a mistake that turns out to be.

These are Victorian police mysteries, but they are horror stories as well, filled with demons, ghosts and the dementedly murderous. I massively enjoyed writing them – Gothic nineteenth century literature still underpins this genre to which we’re all addicted, and I had no difficulty at all making a mental leap back into that era of top-hats, Hansom cabs and gas-lit backstreets. But at the time there was a limit to how many of these I could write. The fact that nearly all Craddock’s adventures are novellas rather than short stories, not to mention their period setting, had an effect on their marketability which it wasn’t sensible for me to ignore. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t got at least half a dozen more Craddock ideas sketched out, which I’d love to write. I guess the response to this new collection, available from Christmas Day via links which I’ll post ASAP, will tell me whether or not it’s worth putting my pen to that age-yellowed paper again.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Power of Three - 6th Installment

A little earlier than planned, with tomorrow being Christmas Eve and all and likely to cause you one or two distractions, I’ve opted to post the 6th installment of my trawl through the world of short horror fiction today.

As with last week, we’re still sticking with the seasonal theme, though if I’m honest, you won’t find much Christmas cheer among this little lot.

The Crown Derby Plate by Marjorie Bowen

A prim spinster heads off across the marshes to a remote house, the eccentric owner of which is holding a valuable piece of China for her. It’s Christmas, and there’s a thick frost and a dense mist. What’s more, the lonely dwelling has a reputation for being haunted.

In truth this famous old tale doesn’t have to be set at Christmas, but it just so happens that it is, and so it has been anthologised many times since in Christmas-themed collections. It’s also an archetypical Christmas ghost story, in that it’s very English, very rural, and very, very spooky. And that’s the trick with this one – at no stage is it terrifying, but all the traditional Gothic eeriness is there – the mist, the overgrown gardens, the ruined old house in which someone is still supposedly living, and so on. The final denouement, though you kind of expect it, is still highly satisfying. Well worth digging up again.


Christmas Dinner by Steve Harris

A stressed writer struggles to recover after killing a child during a road accident. As the festive season approaches, he suffers from appalling visual and auditory hallucinations. He isn’t at all sure how he’s going to get through his Christmas dinner.

Another of those amazing horror tales that were turned out by various skilled wordsmiths during the 1990s, in which helpless protagonists struggle with their sanity in world made unreal by trauma or depression. This one is almost a vignette in that it’s actually quite a short tale, but Steve’s masterly command of economic prose completely installs us in the time and place, and in the tortured mind of his unfortunate hero. You’re not going to lose sleep over this one – it won’t frighten you, but it will certainly disturb you. You’ll never look at turkey and stuffing the same way again.

First published in PEEPING TOM 21, 1996.

The Night Before Christmas by Robert Bloch

An artist makes the mistake of having an affair with a shipping magnate’s trophy wife. Thinking the cuckolded husband away on business, the artist pays her a visit on Christmas Eve – very ill-advisedly.

A non-supernatural outing this time, as Bloch, one of the ultimate horror craftsmen, perfectly weaves the feel of the Yuletide season into a study of elaborate and homicidal vengeance. As usual, it’s crisply and tightly written, and yet the characters spring to life with ease and the setting is as vivid and colourful as ever. From an early stage, you’ve got a good idea that this tale is going to end nastily, but trust me, there’s nothing hackneyed about the astonishing last sentence, which is one of horror literature greatest shock moments.

First published in MIDNIGHT PLEASURES (pictured), 1987.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Monsters soon to make it in softback

I've had a few queries about when my most recent collection, ONE MONSTER IS NOT ENOUGH (Gray Friar Press, published last September) will be available in softback. Well, I'm now reliably informed that this will happen in either January or February next year, though of course that will depend on circumstances that are slightly beyond the publisher's control. Either way, it will be happening very soon.

So there you are. Those of you have haven't checked it out so far - GRRRR! - will have no excuse not to do so when we get into 2011.

Just as a brief reminder, ONE MONSTER IS NOT ENOUGH contains eight novellas about terrifying and murderous beasts, including four originals.

And just to get you all excited, here are a few whistle-wetters:

The monstrosity from the ocean abyss.

The horse-thing that haunted the fogbound moor.

The inner city slum where evil became incarnate.

The deformed horror that butchered after it slew.

And others of course. More info - as in exact dates - as soon as I get them.

Friday, 17 December 2010

The Power of Three - 5th Installment

I’ve finally yielded to the clamour from without. And no, I’m not talking about the gangs of so-called carol singers who routinely bombard our front doors with their tuneless ditties in this part of the world during December. But those avid horror fans who won’t stop demanding that I dedicate my next two Fridays to choosing trios of terror tales with a specific Yuletide flavour.

So here we go. As always, there’s no rhyme or reason to these selections (apart from the Christmas element). I’ve not picked them with regard to preference or anything like that. They’ve come out of a hat in no particular order. But hopefully, there’s a least at least something here you won’t yet be familiar with and can now go and spend your entire Christmas holiday looking for. If there isn’t, I’ll be doing one more batch of festive favourites next Friday, which of course is Christmas Eve (so then you’ll really have nothing else to do but read my twaddle).

And All Around The House by Jack Oleck

Bored by her life in the suburbs, a scheming housewife elects to murder her husband on Christmas Eve, but can’t dispose of the body because a maniac killer, who’s escaped from the asylum, turns up outside dressed as Santa and demands to be let in.

Probably the ultimate Christmas horror story. So evocative of the season, and yet so utterly terrifying (and possessed of such a horrific twist at the end) that it’s perhaps no surprise it has been adapted twice for movie and TV horror portmanteaux. Oleck’s tale, which admittedly, is based on Milton Subotsky’s original movie script (which in turn was adapted from EC comic book stories by Johnny Craig, Al Feidstein and Bill Gaines), has been forgotten a little because of these quality celluloid incarnations, but it still stands on its own feet as a masterly slice of pulp fiction, and is a must-read for all fans of the festive fright.

First published in TALES FROM THE CRYPT (the movie version of which is pictured), 1972.

A Dickensian Christmas by Lanyon Jones

An elderly lady journeys to a country hotel to spend a Dickensian themed Christmas. However, the place is rather gloomy and heavy snowfalls mean that she is the only guest. In addition, she then learns that there is something very unpleasant down in the basement.

A curious choice maybe because this is at heart a gentle, rather charming ghost story, which is also tinged with sadness. But it does boast one particular incident which must be among the most hair-raising that I’ve ever read – and as said incident is prolonged over several pages, there is no easy way to forget it afterwards. Overall, a tale of lost loves and decayed revenants, which is perhaps not as well-known as others in the selection box of Yuletide chillers (and neither, it’s true to say, is its author), but because it rises to such a peak of spectacular nightmarishness, it would take pride of place in any seasonal anthology that I was compiling.

First published in the SECOND BOOK OF AFTER MIDNIGHT STORIES, 1986.

Loving Angels by Gary McMahon

Ten-year-old Tom has lost his dad in Iraq, and faces a terrible Christmas alone with his grieving mother and senile Grandma. At the same time, a paper angel that he made at school but which he now hates because it reminds him of happier times, has gone missing from the Christmas tree. It’s in the house somewhere, but where … and why is Tom increasingly afraid of it?

Gary McMahon’s ultra-dark and often despair-filled urban fantasies are rapidly becoming high points of the horror year for me, and this one was no exception. Christmas has never been as bleak as it is in this story, but, as is often the case with Gary’s work, this is a multi-layered fable, which while on one hand it delivers a perceptive study of a child’s anger that the adults he’s depended on for so long are all failing him (and at exactly the wrong time of year), it is also a horror story, and the undercurrent of supernatural evil (or is it just madness?) grows steadily stronger, finally reaching a sanity-shattering climax. Read this one if you fancy shedding a little darkness into your world of Christmas light.

First published in the GRAY FRIAR CHRISTMAS CHAPBOOK, 2007.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Day of darkness and devilry gets closer

I’ve received an update today regarding The Devil’s Rock. Editing is now complete, the final cut of the movie coming in at a lean (but action-packed) 86 minutes.

Of course there is still plenty of work do to. Post-production in the movie world can be a lengthy business. The addition of sound, music, visual effects etc, will take at least another three months. So we’re only going to see the finished product well into next spring.

However, I still find it incredible that, roughly this time last year, with the first snow of the winter starting to fall up here in northern England, I was drafting the synopsis, and only actually moved onto the writing when Christmas was over and done with. Trust me, this is a rapid turn-around in cinema terms.

Pictured is a painful scene involving Craig Hall and Matthew Sutherland (As you can see, I blagged this one from, which is, in my opinion, one of the best and most informative horror movie sites on the Net).

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Power of Three - 4th Installment

It’s that time of the week again, when I take a long coffee break to present thumbnail sketches of three more of the best horror stories I’ve ever read. I received an email the other day suggesting that, as it’s nearly Christmas, I should break my own house rules and, instead of picking tales at random, select some with a specific seasonal theme. My response to that is: “I may do … when it actually is Christmas, which it isn’t yet.” So here we go, still drawn by lot and with no core theme, three more recommendations to whet your jaded appetites.

Left Hand Drive by Christopher Fowler

A harassed businessman attempts to negotiate the complex paths of a vast underground car park, only to be drawn further and further into an evil nether-world.

Theoretically it shouldn’t be difficult finding one’s way out of an underground car park, but I’m sure we’ve all felt them to be confusing and spooky places late at night, and that’s the basis for this hugely enjoyable slice of urban ‘slipstream’, which achieves the remarkable feat of steadily increasing the mystery and the tension with each turned page, and at the end still managing to deliver a shattering and completely satisfying denouement. The first Fowler tale I read, and still unforgettable.

First published in CITY JITTERS, 1986.

The Silver Mask by Hugh Walpole

A middle-aged woman makes the big mistake of befriending a handsome young man, and is reduced to the status of helpless observer as his unpleasant family start to take over her life and home.

Masterly scare fare with a subtext (don’t pick up strangers, no matter how inoffensive they may seem). There are no ghosts in this story, and even the human monsters have a penchant for song and dance rather than violence, but such is the skill with which Walpole pulls off the gradual destruction of a good-natured woman’s once orderly world that the chill stays with you for ages afterwards. Contrary to some opinions, this macabre tale is indeed a horror story – and a very frightening one.

First published in ALL SOULS NIGHT, 1933.

Vortex Of Horror by Gaylord Sabatini

Deep in the Kalahari desert, a travelling doctor crashes through a dimension door into a parallel universe, where plants are the rulers and humanity provides the food.

Ultra-gory, ultra-nightmarish fantasy, as weird as it is disturbing. Some of the imagery – particularly the descriptions of the shambling monstrosities – is highly reminiscent of Lovecraft in his early days, though it’s a lot more bloodthirsty than HP ever was. There’s something almost biblical in the notion of rows of humans tied to stakes, calmly waiting as, one by one, they are hacked to pieces and drained of blood. And if you think that’s a grim moment, wait until the pay-off. Superb sci-fi chiller of the sort they really don’t write any more.

First published in the 14th PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES, 1973.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Winter chills at the dark hall of horror

Haigh Hall, one of the most haunted houses in Lancashire, currently lowers over a desolate, ice-bound landscape. The woodlands surrounding it are skeletal: the twigs thick with frost; the snaking, snowy pathways silent and hung with frozen mist.

Thankfully, the horror night I’m due to write and then host in Haigh Hall’s derelict upper tier as part of the Wigan Literature Festival for 2011, will be held next Easter, when it’s likely to be a little warmer than it is in this deep, dark December. Now of course the season of good will is just around the corner, but there wasn’t much of that upstairs in the old Hall when I was there this morning to spy out an internal landscape of shadows and whispers. The dust of centuries still fills those ancient rooms and moldering passages. The long disused fireplaces are crammed with cinders and feathers and rotted rags covered with suspicious stains. Paper hangs in strips, which look to have been violently ripped from the walls, exposing claw-marked brickwork underneath. Floorboards creak as if you aren’t the only person standing on them. Ice clings to the inside of every window in bizarre, filigree patterns.

I was there for practical purposes, testing the acoustics, working out the position where my wingback, black leather armchair will be placed – and so on. But even if you’re working, there’s an aura to Haigh Hall that distracts you. In truth the whole building is supposedly riddled with ghosts, but the upper tier – closed to the public for so long, and reputedly the scene of dreadful past events – forcibly reminds you of this. It’s a maze of empty chambers, rickety stairways and dead-end passages, often lit only by grimy overhead skylights. Your eyes and ears play tricks on you straight away. I’d been up there five minutes this morning, and I fancied I heard footsteps in the adjoining corridor – needless to say, when I looked, there was nobody there. There are stains on the walls that suggest bent figures or demonic faces. A workman was up there alone once, and almost had a heart-attack when an eerie, silken voice tittered and said: “Why don’t you look behind you?”

He fled without looking, and refused ever to go back inside. It’s little wonder the same attitude persists among local authority staff. Some are prepared to venture up there, but they are in a constant state of nervousness – as I’ve seen for myself.

One of the spookier tales concerning Haigh Hall involves Lady Mabel, a chatelaine of the manor in medieval times who, for the crime of bigamy, was ordered to make a six-mile barefoot walk through the estate grounds every morning for the rest of her life. Her ghost is still seen regularly on the woodland trails during the misty or twilight hours – a ragged, forlorn figure, who, if you get too close, will turn a face to you that has no features. Another story regards incidents from the 1950s, when Haigh Hall had been taken over by Wigan Corporation, and was being prepared to receive visitors as a stately home. Students living-in and tidying up were terrified one night by the sounds of a horse galloping back and forth on the upper floor. Clumping hooves and equine shrieks were supposedly heard, before the entire gang of them fled. A few weeks later, another student tried to spend a night at the Hall alone, and in the early hours staggered sobbing to the estate manager’s cottage. He had been woken by the sound of a large animal snuffling at his bedroom door, and then shrieking and slamming hooves against it as if trying to force entry. The student was so frightened by the incident that he had soiled his pajamas and injured his leg jumping from the window.

This place is no joke.

More stories as I pick them up. But I think we’re going to have a lot of fun next Easter.

By the way, the picture was taken by my daughter, Eleanor, who doesn’t like going up there alone but will risk both life and limb to please her adoring parent (For some reason, when I assured her that no-one at Haigh Hall is ever alone, she wasn’t too impressed).

Monday, 6 December 2010

Next Black Book of Horror on the horizon

I’m pleased to be able to report that my new story, Tok, will feature in the forthcoming 8th Black Book of Horror.

In case anyone’s unaware, the Black Books of Horror (the 7th is here pictured) are edited by the indefatigable Charles Black, who has gone out of his way to recreate the aura of the classic Pan Horror and Fontana Horror anthologies, and they have made a splendid new edition to the world of macabre fiction. I’m proud and honoured to be able to say that, thus far, the series contains six of my stories, but there are plenty of others in there from a host of talented terror scribes. Some truly stand-out tales have appeared for the very first time in these cold, rustling pages, including Two For Dinner by John Llewellyn Probert, Minos Or Rhadamanthus by Reggie Oliver and Family Ties by Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis.

I’m not quite sure when the next edition is due to go into print – as far as I’m aware Charles hasn’t even assembled his final table of contents yet, but keep a lookout. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Steadily emerging from the darkness

At last I've managed to find a review of WALKERS IN THE DARK, my third Ash-Tree collection, which is not yet available in hardback (though it will be soon), but was released as a limited edition softback at World Horror in Brighton last March.

In my typically impatient, selfish way, I've been wondering why I haven't had any feedback on this book, but now I've stumbled across this review from Riju Ganguly on It's very positive, so I'm an upbeat guy at this moment:

This book contains five novellas. Since each of them involve some part of "haunted"/myth-misted parts of Great Britain, the book may be considered as an extension of the author's earlier volume "Ghost Realm". The book was simply awesome in its evocative description and the raw violence unleashed by deceptively gentle prose used to build up situations. But the best part of these stories (according to my humble opinion) would be the myths themselves. History, even in its grimmest and most sadistic 'Avatar' comes alive in these pages. Highly recommended.

Thanks indeed, Riju. Always nice to hear stuff like that. WALKERS can be purchased at

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Power of Three - 3rd Installment

Cathy and I sadly couldn't make it down to the BFS Christmas bash in London today - owing to the weather and various other things. That means I wasn't able to launch SPARROWHAWK as I wanted to (that will now happen at the Manchester BFS Open Night this coming Sunday). So it's business as usual, which means back to the slog but also, this being a Friday and all, it means that I owe you three more of my personal 'best horror stories ever'. So here they are ...

The Doll Named Silvio by Michael Kernan

The new governess at a southern plantation house finds her angelic charge in thrall to the myriad dolls she keeps in a secret room upstairs, in particular a demonic, Renaissance-era figurine named Silvio.

A must-read for all those enamoured by ‘doll horror’, but retaining at its heart that essential question for this particular sub-genre: what are we dealing with here, supernatural evil or human insanity? Ultra creepy all the way through, and rising to some spectacularly hair-raising moments on the way, though the ending is the most horrific jolt of all. An unexpected gem from the Washington Post’s famously gentle and graceful feature writer.


The Marble Boy by Gahan Wilson

A kid takes a dare and steals a bone from a child’s grave. As you can imagine, it isn’t long before he’s wishing that he hadn’t.

A deceptively simple but ultra-creepy little tale, and very typical of the author, whose ‘cartoonish’ style is noticeable throughout but who piles on the terror at all the appropriate moments. The graveyard is just about the eeriest you’ve ever visited in any story anywhere, while the elaborate tomb which our anti-hero pilfers from is a masterwork of literary Grand Guignol. The final moments when the kid is tucked up in bed, just knowing that his debt is about to paid in full – maybe with a little bit extra – are among the scariest ever.

First published in AFTER THE DARKNESS, 1993.

The Gray Madonna by Graham Masterton

A widower visits wintry Bruges, to try and discover how his wife ended up dead in one of its canals. When he learns that a nun in a gray habit was responsible, he embarks on an investigation that will cost him both his sanity and his life.

A high quality ghost story, which, like so much of Masterton’s work, captures the atmosphere of a unique but real place and then turns it on its head in a welter of weirdness. But it’s the mystery that is the real strength of this superior horror tale. Like its main protagonist, you as the reader really need to know what happened here, and yet, as you get closer to the truth, it becomes steadily more obvious that this is the very last thing you should be doing.

First published in FEAR ITSELF, 1995.

Monday, 29 November 2010

A fun night with the Twisted Tales crowd

The Twisted Tales event at Liverpool One’s Waterstone’s last Friday evening was well attended and great fun to be part of. I had the honour of reading alongside Simon Kurt Unsworth, who, though he’s relatively new to the genre, is one of the most exciting talents on the scene, and of course the great Graham Joyce, who needs no introduction to anyone.

The event was superbly hosted by horror addicts Glyn Morgan and David McWilliam, and of course Roy Gray from Black Static magazine, who all went out of their way to make us feel at home. A very attentive audience, perhaps seventy strong, including the genre’s godfather over here in the UK, Ramsey Campbell, filled the rows of seats in front of us.

Simon kicked things off with his lovely An Afternoon With Danny, which, though superficially a ghost story, is at heart a touching study of parental angst, and must be a likely candidate for one of the Year’s Best anthologies. I lowered the tone a little bit after that with Elderly Lady, Lives Alone, first published in Bare Bone 9, in 2006. I’d originally intended to read something a little more cerebral, but Elderly Lady was a convenient fit for the time-slot available. On reflection, I’m not sure it was the best choice. It features an odious central character, whose revolting thought processes are to the fore throughout. I detected the odd, shocked intake of breath as I ploughed my way through it (pictured), and afterwards Cathy said she felt it too explicit for a public reading. However, the guys have now invited me to do another Twisted Tales, so I can’t have offended them beyond recall.

The evening was rounded off when Graham Joyce read an extract from his majestic novel, The Silent Land, which, if you haven’t read it, belongs on the masterworks shelf. It concerns a couple who get caught in an avalanche, and though they manage to dig their way out, end up returning to a world that is very, very different. The Silent Land is gentle, moving supernatural fiction at its finest, and, for what it’s worth, carries my strongest recommendation. The passage Graham chose was also an excellent choice – tragic and yet heartwarming at the same time (and that takes some doing); it had the audience queuing to buy the book afterwards.

It was a very enjoyable evening indeed, and well worth the two hours it took us to fight our way through twenty miles of log-jammed early evening traffic to get there. Cathy and I also had the pleasure afterwards of looking around Liverpool One in all its Christmas finery, in atmospheric temperatures that must have been touching five below.

Waterstone’s are not the top booksellers in the UK for nothing. They deserve all the praise we can give them by supporting horror fiction with these events. Getting the authors in to breathe life into their prose, and at the same time to meet and chat to the readers is a unique idea, which I hope continues for many years to come.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Power of Three - 2nd Installment

A little later than I'd hoped, here is my second weekly pick from the world's best horror stories. As before, there is no rhyme or reason to these selections. I've opted for them purely on the roll of a dice. There’ll be no connection between them other than that they all came out of the hat on the same day. Again as before, I'm not bothering to rate these tales on a best-out-of-five or best-out-of-ten type basis. Suffice to say that if they’re here it’s because I really, really like them, and if you haven't read them already, I'm sure that you will too.

Lost Hearts by M.R. James

An orphaned child goes to stay with his eccentric adult cousin, only to be visited by the ghosts of two children who appear to have had their hearts cut out. Needless to say, his nice, kind cousin is not guilt-free in this matter.

A real shocker – certainly at the time – from the master of the English ghost story. The twin subjects of alchemy and Satanism were tough enough for a late Victorian audience to swallow, but spice it up with child-homicide as well and you’ve got a real witches’ brew. James himself (pictured) was uncomfortable when he saw the story in print. Even today, its aura of decadent evil has the power to chill.

First published in the PALL MALL MAGAZINE, 1895.

The Quest For Blank Claveringi by Patricia Highsmith

A scholar heads out to a remote island to see for himself if it really is home to a unique and very special life-form. He only finds out when it’s too late why no-one has ever reported on these animals before.

A masterpiece of slow-moving terror, as our central protagonist is pursued relentlessly by an ungainly but tireless foe. The limitations of the small island soon become as much of an enemy as the monster itself. One of those rare compulsive reads, where, even though it's all very leisurely, you can’t wait to turn the next page.

First published in the SATURDAY EVENING POST (as ‘The Snails), 1967.

Quitters, Inc. by Stephen King

A lifelong smoker joins an anti-smoking help-group, who guarantee that they’ll break him of the habit straight away. And they’re not kidding. This lot could stop dogs barking.

One of those glorious early King stories, when it was all about the horror and the fun. There are laughs and screams in equal measure as our helpless hero learns the hard way that there are actually worse things than fifty a day.

First published in NIGHT SHIFT, 1978.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The scary secrets of the real ‘Hell House’

I’m over the moon this week, as I’ve picked up a fascinating gig – to write and present a night of ghost stories for the Wigan Literature Festival, which will be held next Easter. The most exciting part of this, however, is that my presentation will be given during the hours of darkness in the spookily derelict upper tier of Haigh Hall (pictured), the so-called ‘Borley Rectory of the North’.

Haigh Hall is a stately home located in my native borough of Wigan, Lancashire. Wigan, of course, was once the butt of many a music hall joke concerning its terraced houses, pitheads and bogged up canals, but that’s never been the whole story. We have a lot of green space up here as well, and Haigh Hall is a case in point, as it occupies an isolated spot in the very middle of The Plantations, 250-acres of Victorian era parkland, much of which have now degenerated into dense and impenetrable wildwood. The Hall itself, which is now local authority-owned, was first built in the 1830s, but occupies a site where manor houses have stood since the Norman Conquest. It has seen much tragedy and bloodshed, particularly during the Middle Ages and, later on, during the English Civil War. It now has a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in the whole of northwest England, yet it has proved difficult for ghost-watch societies to get permission to hold vigils there, and the reasons for this have always been closely guarded. Rumours abound that when you investigate supernatural events at Haigh Hall, it often has a disastrous outcome.

So, all in all, it’s going to be quite a challenge. No booking information is available yet, as the brochures and tickets will only be going on sale in the New Year. But obviously I’ll be getting to work quickly, researching and writing.

Haigh Hall is not new to me. It provided the blueprint for two very different horror stories of mine, The Mummers, which appeared in Shadows And Silence in 2000, and Deep Woods, Dark Water, which appeared in Nasty Piece of Work 10 in 1998. Both necessitated research trips there, but last week was the first time I’ve actually been allowed into the Hall’s mysterious and much feared upper tier, which has been closed to the public for as long as anyone can remember.

I literally had to claw my way through curtains of dust-webs as I moved from one derelict chamber to the next, many of which still bore evidence of their former use: peeling and faded wallpaper; fireplaces stuffed with ashes and rotted feathers, and of course, in one of them, the ubiquitous rusty old wheelchair. There was even a wax mannequin wearing what looked like a shroud. Its face was horribly scarred, as if someone had attacked it with a knife. The staff, none of whom knew the origins of the mannequin, also told tales of strange sounds and odious smells pervading the eerie structure, and of mysterious handwriting appearing on the walls, begging for help or mercy.

A friend of mine who holds scientific paranormal enquiries was extremely jealous; he told me he’d “kill someone to get permission to go in there”. I replied that I didn’t think this a wise choice of words, as many of those who roam its dingy passages may have done exactly that!

We were both in agreement that I couldn’t have found a better venue for what looks like being a ghoulishly enjoyable night.

More details as I get them.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In the deep (and deadly) midwinter

Ahhh, Christmas!

The season of mince pies and mistletoe, holly and tinsel, joyous carols and roasting chestnuts. What could be more enjoyable than a traditional Victorian Christmas: snow cascading in feather-sized flakes, friends and family coming to call, lively music, games and revels, a parlour adorned with festive greenery, piles of colourful packages stacked under a tree laden with stars and candles and glistening white angels …

But this merriest and most mythologised time of the year can sometimes have a sting in its tail. It’s also notable for long nights, icy mist, and supernatural stories. For those trapped outside the realms of common society, Yuletide can be a tale of …

The ornate Christmas chamber had vanished – instead it was a bare brick hangar. Where the jolly fire had crackled in the hearth now there were only dull, red flames, the vile smoke of which hung below the ceiling in a dirty blanket …

The marionette was directly behind him. Its arms were by its sides, but its head had jerked upright, the beads rolling in its bauble eyes. Its hinged jaw dropped to reveal a cavernous blood-red mouth, from which a demented squawk issued …

The snow had now been churned to filthy mush; there was a nauseating reek of sewage. Looming over everything, Newgate Prison looked even grimmer than usual. Its massive, black brick walls were streaked with sickly, greenish ice …

If you fancy a Christmas of the more spine-tingling sort, my short novel, SPARROWHAWK, is now officially available from the Pendragon Press website ( and from Amazon. We may even, if we’re lucky, have a few copies with us at Twisted Tales event at Waterstone’s, Liverpool One, next Friday evening (but that’s not guaranteed at present).

Christmas may be a time of fun and frolics, but evil wakes when Man is off his guard.

His golden eyes were saucer shaped; his very breath seemed to rumble as it slipped in and out of his capacious chest. It reeked of brandy and cigar smoke, but there was something below this that was vaguely unpleasant – blood maybe?

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Power of Three – 1st installment

After much painful navel-gazing, I’ve decided that constantly promoting myself on here, even if it is MY blog, is a little self-indulgent, and doesn’t do justice to my many rivals in the horror field, both past and present. So each Friday afternoon from now on (or most Friday afternoons, workload permitting), I thought I’d treat you all – and myself – by posting reviews of three great horror stories that have caught my attention over the years. I’ve kept a careful list of these tales, which I constantly update, so all I need to do at the end of each week is dip into it thrice – but folk should be warned; the list alone is over 90 pages long, so there’s an awful lot to choose from.

There’ll be no rhyme or reason to my selections. With so much material to hand, it would be tediously time-consuming trying to find themes and comparisons each week, so I’ve taken the easy option – I will literally pull out each Friday’s choices on the roll of a dice. There’ll be absolutely no connection between any of the stories I choose to talk about, except that they all came out of the hat on the same day. Unfortunately, each review will need to be fairly brief (as per the ultra concise but always appetising short story outlines that you see on the excellent ‘Vault of Evil’), and I’m still not sure at this point whether it would be wise to include spoilers. Most likely, I’ll continue to follow the ‘Vault of Evil’ model by attempting in a few short lines to capture the flavour of the story in question and only hint at the horrors to come. I won’t bother to rate these tales on a best-out-of-five or best-out-of-ten type basis. Suffice to say that if they’re on my list already it’s because I really, really like them.

So here we go. It’s only a bit of fun, but if it helps pass a Friday afternoon tea-break, it’s got to be worth it. My choices this week are:

When The World Goes Quiet by Simon Kurt Unsworth

A guy and his girl hold out in their north of England flat, while, outside, the dead walk.

It may not sound hugely original, but there isn’t a word wasted in this exquisite study of what it would actually mean to have survived the first zombie onslaught and then be stuck in the desolate hereafter. But the really good news – at least from my POV – is that Skuns doesn’t skimp on the fear factor for the sake of soppy post-Apocalypse ponderings, and yet it’s what you don’t see in this tautly written terror tale, rather than what you do see, that frightens the most.

First published in Unsworth’s Ash-Tree collection, LOST PLACES, 2010.

The Drain by Stephen Gallagher

A bunch of Lancashire urchins, up to no good, find themselves in a derelict drainage system – and guess what? It isn’t long before they realise they aren’t alone.

Another of those masterly Gallagher chillers that flawlessly captures the time and place in which it is set. This was unputdownable reading for me, not just because it’s edge-of-the-seat scary, but because there was a time when I was a Lancashire urchin, myself, as, I suspect, was Mr. Gallagher. But as usual with Steve, the mundane combines with the monstrous to create perfect horror symmetry, and the backdrop of the industrial north, with all its grot and grime, and its deceptively non-supernatural atmosphere, adds to it immensely. A classic.

First published in FANTASY TALES 4, 1990 (as far as I’m aware – though I’m quite happy to be corrected; in fact, I make no claim to be a horror scholar, so readers should feel free to correct me about any dates or details of first publication, etc).

The Horror-Horn by E.F. Benson

A mountaineer is pursued through the Alpine forests by something less than human.

A bit of a slight tale compared to the other two this week, but Benson conjures up a delicious sense of fear as his hapless hero struggles through a snowy landscape which, while it doesn’t figure very often in horror fiction today, certainly seemed to do it for our Edwardian forebears given the number of times it was utilised. Not Benson’s cleverest perhaps – in fact it isn’t wrapped up completely to my satisfaction – but a fun ride while it lasts, and a genuinely spooky if unexplained monster.

First appeared in HUTCHINSON’S MAGAZINE, 1922.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Worrying weirdness at Waterstone's

BLACK STATIC magazine, in whose cold, rustling pages my fiction has featured twice, will provide the banner for the Twisted Tales event at Waterstone’s Liverpool One a week tomorrow (November 26th), kicking off at 6pm.

I’ll be there to read a story, along with two other maestros of monstrousness, Simon Kurt Unsworth and the star attraction of the evening, multi-award winning novelist Graham Joyce.

I’m not sure what the other guys have opted for yet, but my last tale to feature in BLACK STATIC – which, in case you’re unaware, is one of the most stylish and sophisticated horror mags on the UK market – was called WE, WHO LIVE IN THE WOOD, and as it would take far too long to read that at an event like this, I’ll be opting for something which didn’t appear in BLACK STATIC but hopefully will spook our listeners nonetheless.

I haven’t named my poison at this moment, but will be trialling various tales on my Dictaphone over the next few days to see which one has the most impact.

If you’re moping around the northwest of England that Friday night, with nothing else to do, pop in and say hello.

Friday, 12 November 2010

When the Devil went down to Guernsey

The publicity wagon for THE DEVIL’S ROCK is seriously starting to roll. Stills are now appearing, which I’ll be posting over the next few days (starting with this one, featuring the deliciously wicked Gina Varela). Also, the fab news reached me last week that we’ve sold the UK rights to Metrodome in a six-figure deal, so folk in Blighty will have no problem getting to see it. Hopefully more territories will follow as we progress through post-production.

It’s now widely known that THE DEVIL’S ROCK is a World War Two era chiller, but I think it’s fair to say that you won’t have seen too many war movies like this. It certainly comes to something when the Nazis – as unspeakably evil as ever – are not the most evil characters in the story.

I’ve mentioned before what an astonishing turn-around this has been. I began writing the script – blabbing into a Dictaphone while walking the dog, which is my preferred method with a first draft – during the heavy snows of last winter. It’s hard to believe that only a year later, with the leaves falling again and the first frosts appearing on our car windshields, the movie is done, dusted and almost ready to go. When you think that I have other movie projects still in development which were first optioned as long ago as 2002, it puts things into perspective.

Anyway, enough of my giddy ramblings. Here are some relevant links:

We also have a Facebook page up and running for the movie:

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Doctor will be in - at least until Xmas

I received the amazing news this week that my proposed Dr Who novel, HUNTER’S MOON, has been commissioned by BBC Books, and that I’m to start writing it forthwith. I’m not allowed to say anything about the plot at this early stage – and obviously there’s no artwork I can put up yet, but this is a terrifically exciting development for me, and one that will hopefully be another string to my ‘Whovian’ bow.

To be honest, I’ve not yet got used to the idea that I’m now classified as ‘a Dr Who writer’. It sounds nice though, doesn’t it? Kind of rolls off the tongue.

Just to recap, thus far I’ve written two Dr Who audio dramas for Big Finish – LEVIATHAN (pictured), which was adapted from my late father’s 1984 TV script of the same name, and which starred Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant (who were both an absolute joy to work with), and SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN, a Companion Chronicle, which will be released next year, starring Caroline John as science ace Liz Shaw. I’m also writing a third audio for Big Finish, though I’m not allowed to reveal too much about that one either; suffice to say that it stars another of the classic Doctors, and someone else I hope to get a chance to meet when we record it down at Ladbroke Grove studios. With that and the new novel, it’s going to be a busy end to the year.

And now a little anecdote – assuming you can forgive me just a tad more self-indulgence. I wrote for several of the Doctors before I ever penned a single Dr Who episode; during the early ‘90s, several horror and science-fiction stories of mine were performed on various spoken-word anthologies by, among others, Colin Baker, Peter Davison and the late, great Jon Pertwee. The last name on that list makes me especially proud these days. Does it mean I’m one of the few ‘Dr Who writers’ working today who wrote for the legendary Third Doctor? I like to think so.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Hard horror from Britain's shadowy past

I’m pleased to be able to report that my Ash-Tree collection, WALKERS IN THE DARK, will very soon be going into print in a hardback version (cover art to be posted soon).

It was originally published last March for the World Horror Convention in Brighton, in a special softback edition, though more than a few folk at the time elected to wait for this hardback to come out. Well, they won’t have to wait much longer.

WALKERS IN THE DARK contains three new novellas and two short novels, the locations for which vary from the Highlands of Scotland to the Welsh mountains to the industrial wastelands of south Lancashire where I grew up. Because many of these tales are specifically folklore-based, it’s been likened a little in some reviews to GHOST REALM, my Ash-Tree collection of 2008, which also plumbed the darkest depths of homespun English mythology (and also consisted entirely of original material). For those interested, both books can be acquired from the usual Ash-Tree outlet:

On a slightly different matter, I had the pleasure last week of attending a posh London club and watching the first rushes of THE DEVIL’S ROCK, which is now in post-production and is expected to go on release next April.

This is my second movie script to go on to completion – the first was SPIRIT TRAP in 2005 – but there’s a lot more of me in this one than there was in that. I wrote it while snowed in during last year’s very bitter winter, but it was based on an idea I thrashed out with talented movie director Paul Campion much earlier in the year – even so, sixteen months from conception to post-production registers as a remarkably quick turn-around in this age of restricted development monies. It tells the tale of an Allied commando raid on a German base in the build-up to D-Day, which uncovers a very fiendish plot. It may not sound like a horror movie, but students of the genre need not be alarmed. This is an out-and-out supernatural chiller, complete with lashings of in-yer-face grue.

I treated myself to a celebratory drink afterwards. There’s truly no greater thrill for a writer than seeing your stuff on the big screen.

Friday, 5 November 2010

'Tis the season to be scared to death

Here's the new cover for my forthcoming short novel, SPARROWHAWK, which will be published by Pendragon Press on December 1, but is now available for pre-order from Amazon (and Pendragon very soon).

For those who missed my last update regarding this, it's a Christmas ghost story in the traditional Victorian vein, but with some very dark and hopefully thought-provoking undertones.

In 1843, An Afghan war veteran is released from the debtor's prison and charged with standing guard over a mysterious house in Bloomsbury for the duration of the Christmas period. It's the coldest winter in living memory, but it won't just be the ice and snow that John Sparrowhawk has to worry about ...

What I've tried to do with this is not just tell a tale of supernatural horror, but to evoke the atmosphere of the season in the most vivid way possible. So hopefully it wouldn't be out of place as a neat little stocking-filler for someone (hint hint).

The lovely cover art is by Scottish painter and illustrator, James Higgins, who I shall certainly be using again in the future.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Craddock is back on the beat

I'm please to be able to announce that a collection of my Craddock stories will shortly be published by Ghostwriter Press.

For those not in the know, Jim Craddock is an unconventional police detective working in the industry-polluted Lancashire of the 1860s. He doesn't consciously seek out cases with supernatural or occult aspects but those always seem to be the ones he gets saddled with. I'm not quite sure when the book will be out, or what form it will take yet, but it should be available before the end of the year and it will probably contain reprints of three Craddock novellas - THE MAGIC LANTERN SHOW (1999), SHADOWS IN THE RAFTERS (2000) and THE WEEPING IN THE WITCH HOURS (2003), plus a brand new adventure, THE COILS UNSEEN.

A little taster anyone?

The floors were covered with rotted, trampled straw. It was easy to picture these hellish rabbit-holes packed with huddled, pathetic figures; ragged, lice-riddled, barely alive in the darkness and the damp. One dismal level followed another as they descended amidships. It seemed depthless, a multi-layered maze of ropes, timbers and corroded grille-work.

I like to think the Craddock stories, of which I intend to write many more, contain all the traditional elements of Victorian ghost and horror stories, but that they're also strong on police procedural and authentic period detail (even if I do say so, myself). Perhaps you lads and lasses can be the judges of whether or not I've succeeded.

As soon as I have more details re. this release, I'll post it on here and on my Facebook page.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Flesh eaters win favour in the City

I can only say that I'm absolutely chuffed to bits to see this review of ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, which appeared in the FINANCIAL TIMES:

"Clever, gruesome, poignant and pacy . . . creator and editor Stephen Jones marshals the talents of a score of noted genre authors, eliciting contributions that play to the strengths of each . . . it’s hard to avoid this book’s clutches – much like the shambling corpses that fill its pages."
—James Lovegrove
FINANCIAL TIMES: LIFE & ARTS, October 23/October 24, 2010

I think it's safe to say that we all enjoyed writing our respective chunks of this undead epic, but I doubt any of us - probably not even editor Steve Jones - expected to receive a thumbs-up from the staid pages of the FT. Or am I missing a certain post-modern irony? The periodical most concerned with the financial state of Britain today shows interest in a tome about death, destruction, mayhem and decay. Hmmm ...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Rivers of blood to flow in 'Stronghold the movie'

Startled to be able to report that STRONGHOLD has attracted a movie option even though it's only been on the bookshelves since the middle of August.

It's nice to see that the period element hasn't put anyone off, but I'm still a bit surprised.

Negotiations have only just commenced of course, so it's far too early to give the nitty-gritty, but one thing's for sure - those of you who've read the book will surely agree that it's impossible to see this one being released under anything less than an 18 certificate.

In the meantime, I'm chuffed to bits by the very entertaining review the book has received on Black Abyss:

Stronghold takes us far back into late 13th Century Wales where those pesky English are cutting a swathe of violence through the indigenous population. The taking of Grogen Castle and the subsequent physical and sexual abuse of the lady of the Castle, Countess Madalyn and her daughter Gwendolyn are the final straws. With her daughter held prisoner Madalyn seeks help from the practitioners of the old magic, the fabled Welsh Druids, and it’s not long before armies of the dead are rising up to reclaim the castle.

What follows is a gruesome account of the battle for Grogen Castle between the English defenders and the newly risen Welsh zombie army. It’s a veritable dictionary of anatomical terms as body parts are skewered, severed, chewed and burnt in increasingly bizarre ways.

Paul Finch utilises his excellent skill to weave historical detail into a horrific storyline. So not only do you get a full biology lesson but a thorough understanding of 13th century siege methods. It’s all excellent fun delivered in the worst possible taste fitting the series mentality perfectly.

My only criticism is that with such a broad canvas of the Welsh/English conflict the possibilities of extending the zombie battle onto a larger battlefield existed. Instead we are faced with a fairly small and claustrophobic encounter that feels like it should be part of a bigger campaign. I would also have liked to focus more on the druids and the “old magic” as this felt like it only skimmed the surface of what Finch could be capable of in that area. The mystical druidic tradition of Wales has huge potential in the hands of a writer of Paul Finch’s ability but maybe he is saving that for another day.

None of which matters at all of course as this series is about excitement, the thrill of the chase and zombies and on those fronts the book delivers perfectly. So for history lovers with a thirst for some zombie carnage this is highly recommended.

The full review can be found at:

I too would like to see this tale evolve into something a lot bigger picture. All I'd say about that is anything can happen at any time. You never know.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A festive feast to chill the blood

Mice, cockroaches and other vermin scuttled amid the odious relics: a goose that was now carrion; steamed vegetables that were cobwebbed husks; an ornate Christmas cake thick with fungal fur …

I don't suppose that quote is likely to whet your appetites for dinner, but with luck it will whet your appetites for my new long novella, SPARROWHAWK, which will be published by Pendragon Press in time for Christmas.

As you may have gathered, it's a seasonsal horror tale, very traditional in some ways, but veering far from the norm in others.

In a nutshell, it follows the fortunes of John Sparrowhawk, an embittered veteran of the Afghan War, who in the year 1843 is released from the debtor's prison by the beautiful and enigmatic Miss Evangeline.

Penniless, alone and haunted by the demons of his difficult past, Sparrowhawk accepts a commission from Miss Evangline to stand guard over a house in Bloomsbury for the duration of the Christmas period. The coldest winter in living memory now descends on London, but this won't be Sparrowhawk's only problem, for very sinister forces are gathering against him.

So ... if you like your Christmas yarns dabbled with frost and snow, wreathed in supernatural evil, and of course spattered with blood and ordure, then this one is for you.

I'm hoping that we can launch SPARROWHAWK at the BFS Open Night in early December. There's no guarantee of this, but it will be available for purchase in time for Christmas. Of course, I'm running a little bit before my horse to market here. It isn't ready yet, so no-one should be bothering Pendragon Press with enquiries at this stage.

Another bulletin very soon, and maybe, if we're lucky, a glimpse of the new book's cover