Monthly Archives: July 2016

Mark West’s American Horror Mixtape

American Horror Mixtape  by Mark West

Following his UK Horror Mixtape, where writer’s talked about their favourite horror short story by a UK author, Mark has followed this up with the American version.

I’m delighted to be asked to take part again.

Here’s a clue (!) to which writer I’ve chosen but if you want to know which story I’ve gone with you can find out on Mark’s blog.

My Ray Bradbury books.JPG



New Stories From The Mabinogion

I’m a sucker for modern reworkings of myths. I was in a bookshop in Conway recently and found a range of books from Seren called New Stories from the Mabinogion.

From Seren:

In New Stories from the Mabinogion ten great authors have taken the Celtic myth cycle as a starting point to give us masterly re-workings with a modern twist in a series both various and wonderful. We have reached the orbit of Mars, the Tower of London and the edges of India, travelled in time to WW2 and forward to the near future, seen Iraq in drug-addled dreams, and viewed Wales aslant, from its countryside to its council estates. We have touched on nation-building and personal tragedy, bravery and betrayal.

New Stories from the Mabinogion gives leading Welsh authors the chance to retell these medieval stories of Celtic mythology and Arthurian Britain in entirely their own way, creating fresh, contemporary novellas while keeping the old tales at the heart of the new.

I loved the two novels I bought- “The Ninth Wave” and “White Ravens” and am excited about reading more in this collection.

“White Ravens” by Owen Sheer is based in Branwen Daughter of Llyr, one of the four branches of The Mabiniogion. If you’re like me and aren’t familiar with the original text there’s a synopsis to refer to at the back of each book.

“White Ravens” updates the myth in two different time frames: Wales after the devastation of sheep farms by foot-and-mouth disease and WW2 Britain, where a man is entrusted with taking raven hatchlings from Wales to the Tower of London. Owen Sheer’s career as a poet is in every line of his prose:

“…our ravens went looking for their own carrion: big bloody black rags of birds, coughing and corkscrewing into the air above our tumbledown farm, so old and crooked you couldn’t tell if it’d been built on the hillside or just grown out of it” and “I kept looking at the ravens, running their big old beaks under their wings like they were sharpening them, then settling again to catch the day’s first heat in their midnight wings.”

“The Ninth Wave” by Russell Celyn Jones is from Pwyll Prince of Dyfed.  This stayed with me for a while afterwards because the author made the future mythic. Pwyll struggles with the mantle of leadership in feudal post-oil Wales, where kids queues up at the local fish and chip shop to buy Class A drugs and franchises like Starbucks still exist.

“They rode past weaving and embroidery factories, a John Deere tractor workshop (defunct), trailer park, units making bathroom tiles, bamboo flooring. Each street was  named after a famous composer. Gangs of teenagers walked their pit bulls down Mozart Avenue towards the War Memorial and ackowledged Pwyll like they would the police. Since his father and mother died, powers had been invested in him. he was meant to rule here but he didn’t know how.”


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In my post “2015” I mentioned a few things I’d particulary enjoyed that year.

Black Static 48I praised Cate Gardner‘s “The Bureau of Them” and “When the Moon Man Knocks”, both of which have received British Fantasy Award nominations.

Ditto Kelly Robson for “The Waters of Versailles” for which she is a finalist for the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula Award, and the Prix Aurora Award.  (Her short story “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” is a Illustration for Kelly Robson's Waters of Versaille by Kathleen Jenningsfinalist for the 2016 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award).

It’s even more tremendous when you consider that Kelly only made her debut in markets like Clarkesworld, Tor and Asimov’s in 2015.

On the same theme, I am very much looking foward to Issue 54 of Black Static out  in September as it will contain “Perspective”, Steve J Dines’ new novelette. I am expecting heaps of darkness if his last few stories are anything to go by.

I am now tagging my predictions. Sadly my attempts at foretelling the National Lottery numbers have been less successful.

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2015 Shirley Jackson Awards

The 2015 Shirley Jackson Awards were presented on Sunday, July 10th at Readercon 27, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Quincy, Massachusetts. Readercon Guests of Honor,  Catherynne M. Valente and Tim Powers hosted the ceremony.

A massive congratulations to the winners!


Shirley Jackson


Winner: Experimental Film, Gemma Files (ChiZine Publications)


  • Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press)
  • The Glittering World, Robert Levy (Gallery)
  • Lord Byron’s Prophecy, Sean Eads (Lethe Press)
  • When We Were Animals, Joshua Gaylord (Mulholland Books)


Winner: Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing-UK/Open Road Media-US)


  • The Box Jumper, Lisa Mannetti (Smart Rhino)
  • In the Lovecraft Museum, Steve Tem (PS Publishing)
  • Unusual Concentrations, S.J. Spurrier (Simon Spurrier)
  • The Visible Filth, Nathan Ballingrud (This Is Horror)


Winner: “Even Clean Hands Can Do Damage,” Steve Duffy (Supernatural Tales #30, Autumn)


  • “The Briskwater Mare,” Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Deepwater Bride,” Tamsyn Muir (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July-August 2015)
  • “Fabulous Beasts,” Priya Sharma (, July 2015)
  • “The Thyme Fiend,” Jeffrey Ford (, March 2015)


Winner: “The Dying Season,” Lynda E. Rucker (Aickman’s Heirs)


  • “A Beautiful Memory,” Shannon Peavey (Apex Magazine)
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare)
  • “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Nadia Bulkin (Aickman’s Heirs)
  • “Wilderness,” Letitia Trent (Exigencies)


Winner: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King (Scribner)


  • The End of the End of Everything, Dale Bailey (Arche Press)
  • Get in Trouble, Kelly Link (Random House)
  • Gutshot, Amelia Gray (FSG Originals)
  • The Nameless Dark – A Collection, T.E. Grau (Lethe Press)
  • You Have Never Been Here, Mary Rickert (Small Beer Press)


Winner: Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas (Undertow Publications)


  • Black Wings IV, edited by S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing)
  • The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
  • Exigencies, edited by Richard Thomas (Dark House Press)
  • Seize the Night, edited by Christopher Golden (Gallery)



Black Static Issue 53

Issue 53 of Black Static is now out with cover art by Tara Bush, who has also illustrated myBlack Static Issue 53novelette, “Inheritance or The Ruby Tear”, which is included alongside stories by Steve Rasnic Tem, Harmony Neal, Kristi DeMeester, Danny Rhodes, Stephen Hargadon, and Charles Wilkinson.

Both Tara and regular, Richard Wagner, have done the interior artwork.

Features: Coffinmaker’s Blues by Stephen Volk (comment); Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker (comment); Case Notes by Peter Tennant (book reviews); Blood Spectrum by Gary Couzens (DVD/Blu-ray reviews).

Thanks to Andy Cox for taking “Inheritance” as I know it won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

Buy a copy here.

Get Issue 53 free when you take out a 6 or 12 month subscription.


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Roy Gray and The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature

You might know Roy Gray as the friendly face at TTA Press’ stand at various events around the UK. He is also a writer and poet.

His poem, “Farming the Wind”, will be included in a technology themed issue of literary magazine Shooter out later this year.

Roy was a finalist for the 2015 High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature with his story “Hallqueen”.

The presentation took place on 6th July 2016 at the University of Chester with the winner and finalists bring presented with the anthology of their work: “Patches of Light”, which is available from University of Chester Press books.

Top left: Roy reading from his story, Ian Seed (one of the judges and anthology editor), 3rd right: Roy with his wife, Irene.

The first prize of £2,000 was presented to Pauline Brown for her story “Tick Tock”

Joint runners up, who received £250, included Cathy Bryant with “For Yourself Alone” and Lynne Parry-Griffiths “My Will Ne’er Be Done”.

The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature, has been running for 13 years, having been set up in 2003 by the then High Sheriff of Cheshire, John Richards OBE, DL. It’s open to writers who were born, live or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked, in Cheshire.

The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature 2016 will be for poetry .


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Beyond the Woods edited by Paula Guran


Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold edited by Paula Guran is now available from Skyhorse Publishing.

Once upon a time, the stories that came to be known as “fairy tales” were cultivated to entertain adults more than children; it was only later that they were tamed and pruned into less thorny versions intended for youngsters. But in truth, they have continued to prick the imaginations of readers at all ages.

Over the years, authors have often borrowed bits and pieces from these stories, grafting them into their own writing, creating literature with both new meaning and age-old significance. In the last few decades or so, they’ve also intentionally retold and reinvented the tales in a variety of ways—delightful or dark, wistful or wicked, sweet or satirical—that forge new trails through the forests of fantastic fiction.

This new anthology compiles some of the best modern fairy-tale retellings and reinventions from award-winning and bestselling authors, acclaimed storytellers, and exciting new talents, into an enchanting collection. Explore magical new realms by traveling with us, Beyond the Woods . . .

Table of Contents


  • Tanith Lee – “Red as Blood”
  • Gene Wolfe – “In the House of Gingerbread”
  • Angela Slatter – “The Bone Mother”
  • Elizabeth Bear – “Follow Me Light”
  • Yoon Ha Lee – “Coin of Hearts Desire”
  • Nalo Hopkinson – “The Glass Bottle Trick”
  • Catherynne M. Valente – “The Maiden Tree”
  • Holly Black – “Coat of Stars”
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – “Road of Needles”
  • Kelly Link – “Travels with the Snow Queen”
  • Karen Joy Fowler – “Halfway People”
  • Margo Lanagan – “Catastrophic Disruption of the Head”
  • Shveta Thakrar – “Lavanya and Deepika”
  • Theodora Goss – “Princess Lucinda and the Hound of the Moon”
  • Gardner Dozois – “Fairy Tale”
  • Peter S. Beagle – “The Queen Who Could Not Walk”
  • Priya Sharma – “Lebkuchen”
  • Neil Gaiman – “Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale”
  • Richard Bowes – “The Queen and the Cambion”
  • Octavia Cade – “The Mussel Eater”
  • Jane Yolen – “Memoirs of a Bottle Djinn”
  • Steve Duffy – “Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958”
  • Charles de Lint –“The Moon Is Drowning While I Sleep”
  • Veronica Schanoes – “Rats”
  • Rachel Swirsky – “Beyond the Naked Eye”
  • Ken Liu – “Good Hunting”
  • Kirstyn McDermott – “The Moon’s Good Grace”
  • Peter Straub – “The Juniper Tree”
  • Jeff VanderMeer – “Greensleeves”
  • Tanith Lee – “Beauty”

I am very proud to be included  in this anthology which Paula Guran has dedicated to the memory of Tanith Lee. My story, “Lebkuchen”, was originally published online in 2011 by Fantasy and is an original fairy tale.

Follow this link if you want to know a little more about “Lebkuchen”.

Buy: paperback and Kindle  paperback and Kindle

Barnes & Noble paperback and Nook

Indiebound for local independent bookstores in the US


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