Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Show

nightmareThe camera crew struggled with the twisting, narrow stairs. Their kit was portable, Steadicams being all the rage. They were lucky that the nature of their work did not require more light. Shadows added atmosphere. Dark corners added depth. It was cold down in the cellar. It turned their breath to mist, which gathered in the stark white pools shed by the bare bulbs overhead.

Martha smiled. It was sublime. Television gold.

-“The Show”

This story originally appeared in 2011 a collection called “Box of Delights” edited by John Kenny. It’s been reprinted in Nightmare magazine and you can read the whole thing here.

 

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Simon Bestwick interviews Ramsey Campbell

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This is Horror features an interview with the legendary Ramsey Campbell by Simon the-searching-dead-hardcover-by-ramsey-campbell-choose-your-edition-unsigned-jacketed-4048-pekm298x406ekm1Bestwick, which you can read here.

Ramsey Campbell was described by the Oxford Companion to English Literature as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”.  PS Publishing are about to release his novel, “The Searching Dead”, the first in a trilogy.

Simon’s a regulat blogger and this week his post is entitled 10 Great Modern Horror Stories for Halloween
Am delighted to be in there with “Fabulous Beasts”.

 

 

 

 

 

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News

This is something to look forward to. I really enjoy Laura Mauro’s work- especially “Ptichka” (from Horror Uncut) and “When Charlie Sleeps” (Black Static #37, reprinted in Best British Horror).

Laura Mauro

Very pleased to say I’ll be returning to Shadows & Tall Trees with my short story ‘Sun Dogs’, which will appear in the upcoming vol. 7. Shadows & Tall Trees is where my first ever story was published, so it means a lot to be a part of it again.

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Hallowe’en Ghost Story at Brighton Open Market

Good luck Tom- I hope this is well attended!

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Like bowls? Love ghost stories? I’ll be telling a tale of supernatural goings on at a bowling green this coming Saturday 29th October, 4.30pm after the Hallowe’en costume parade. Featuring free Day of the Dead biscuits! Part of Hallowe’en at Brighton’s Open Market: https://www.facebook.com/events/1293409477356931/

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Notes from the Shadowed City by Jeffrey Alan Love

Notes from the Shadowed City is Jeffrey Alan Love’s first book. It charts the journey of an amnesiac within the shadowed city, our narrator recording what he sees in his notebook as he tries to make sense of his quest to find magical swords, love and his way home.

dscf6820I’ve read it several times now and each pass gives me a different experience. I become the journeyman and what I take from it depends on what I bring to it. It’s a demanding book that requires a different type of interaction to the traditional narrative. Each spread is an image partnered with a line or two of intriguing text, which gives the reader space to fill in the gaps and it gives the whole project a dream-like feel.

And the images are sublime, all in Love’s signature style.

dscf6822I’ve interviewed Mr Love before (here) and as a fan I wanted to ask him more about the book.

Priya: Welcome! What came first for this? The concept or did the inspiration arise from a collection of your images?

Jeffrey: The images came first, accompanied by their line of text. At first I would just make one each day, and at some point before the next morning the next piece would suggest itself to me. It wasn’t until I had perhaps 20 or so that the larger story started to suggest itself. Up until that point it was purely play, seeing what story the juxtaposition of these separate moments would create merely by being next to each other.

dscf6824P: Tell me about your protagonist. Why did you make him an amnesiac?

J: I think so that the reader and the protagonist would discover the world together, and that the sparseness of actual information that is given through the words and images would make sense instead of frustrating a reader who would feel that they weren’t getting the entire story, that the narrator was holding out on them. If the protagonist had been someone familiar with this strange world, the book might seem only a sketch or outline that needed fleshing out instead of something that could stand on its own, playing with that edge of how much information is needed for the reader to fill in the gaps and tell a satisfying story for themselves. I’ve also moved around quite a bit in my life, and have often felt like an eternal outsider, lacking the basic information that others have about their place in the world.

P: I’ve put this book in other people’s hands and watched them look through it. In each dscf6825case, they open it and then compulsively turn the pages, usually until the end. It’s fascinating to watch. I think there’s something about the stripped back quality and the imagery that’s very compelling. How did you settle on the balance between text and image? Have you written a longer text to go with this?

J: With my artwork on its own I try to always ask myself “how much is enough?” and I tried to do that with the book. I wanted to leave room for the viewer to take what is presented and then head off into their own head to connect the dots and fill it in with the story that they most wished it would be. I wanted to leave room for imagination and dreaming. My fear, of course, was that there wouldn’t be enough, and that readers would leave with a feeling of dissatisfaction, of wishing that it was a novel instead. What I tried to do was craft a sentence or two that, when paired with an image, suggested other moments, other scenes, a fullness to the story that expanded from the compressed image and text. The bad joke answer would be that I tried to make each picture worth 1000 words. I don’t have a longer text written, but there is more to the story in my head but again, I wanted to find that space where the reader makes it their story, not just the one that is presented in totality by me.

dscf6831P: I’m interested in the proliferation in hand lettering and font development in recent years. Your use of handwritten text is lovely and completely in keeping with the concept of this being a notebook. Did you develop a font for this?

J: I did. At first I thought it might be a little more ornate, cursive, done with a nib, but the plain block print of my handwriting with a pencil seemed more appropriate to the book. Legibility became key so that the story wouldn’t be interrupted by trying to decipher words.

P: You do beautiful work in colour but here you’ve gone with a stripped back palette- black, white and red accents, which I think feels quite primal. Why?

J: All of the pages were actually taken from my sketchbooks, so the short answer is that dscf6827black/white is the direction my sketchbook has taken in the past few years. But I also really love black and white art. In today’s photoshop era where every single color is easily available to the illustrator one way to stand out is to step away from color. But it also comes back to the question I always ask myself: “how much information is enough?” There is also a sense of timelessness with black/white, a seriousness or starkness that I think works well with what I do, which is find the silhouette that most effectively tells the story I want it to. I like that my work can feel like sculpture at times, hewn from ancient rock.

P: I liked that our hero’s love interest isn’t a predictable princess but a warrior (“Never have I loved her more than when she slew the giant of the deep”). Tell me more.

J: I think that came from imagining my wife as being the love interest. We have similar tastes, and often find ourselves reading a book after the other. She would comment to me dscf6838about the female characters in the fantasy books written by men, telling me how they could have been better, stronger, more interesting. Indirectly she guided the creation of that character. Also I often try with my work to turn stereotypes on their head. They give me something to fight against. The stereotype in fantasy is the princess as the love interest, but if a woman happens to be a warrior she’s wearing a chainmail bikini, she’s an object of beauty – here I completely wrapped her in mystery, in shadow, and what he loves is not her looks but her actions, her strength, her ease and absolute mastery of this strange world that seems to escape his grasp. Which seems to describe my relationship to the real world, and the things I love about my wife.

 

P: There are also some elements of humour in here, such as the masked swordsmen meeting for morning coffee and cigarettes.

dscf6828J: I think that was inspired by M. John Harrison’s Viriconium novels and Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Bringing those small moments into it, real life. Also making fun of myself and my work. Everything doesn’t have to be serious, or epic, and what there is that is epic can also be made fun of. Masked swordsmen is “cool” but it’s also kind of ridiculous – I wonder how well someone could fight with a sword with a giant homemade mask on top of their head?

P: Previously you mentioned that your travels have influenced your work- such as visits to ancient sites in Greece, Italy, the UK and Germany. You talked about capturing the magic of those places in images (I greatly envy this skill!). What have you channelled in creating the Shadowed City?

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J: I think it was less of a physical place and more of the feeling of my childhood and early adulthood. Moving often, being a stranger, an outsider, always searching for my place and something that would make me feel like I belonged. Wondering if I could find magic somewhere, find love, if my life would be what I hoped it would be.

 

P: Will you ever revisit the city for other projects?dscf6833

J: I don’t know! When I wrote it I wanted it to stand on its own, to retain its mystery and strangeness. But now of course I have all sorts of things popping into my head in that world. So perhaps!

P: Flesk have done a beautiful job with the book- very high quality binding and paper. Did you have any input into these choices?

J: John Fleskes did a wonderful job with the book. He asked for my input, but when I work with someone that is an expert at something I try to let them do what they are best at without muddying the waters. I knew from seeing previous books from Flesk that they made really wonderful books, not just in terms of content but as objects, and I trusted him to bring that same care and attention to this and he did a spectacular job. I couldn’t be happier with it.

P: Can I ask where things are up to with your graphic novels?dscf6836

J: I wish I could say that I’m all done and they’ll be out next year, but I became a father 12 weeks ago and my life has been thrown into wonderful, love-filled chaos. I have the utmost respect now for anyone who has ever done anything after having a child – please forward me your secrets.

P: Have you got any other projects lined up that you can talk about?

J: I’m in the middle of working on over 100 paintings for an illustrated edition of Norse Mythology by Kevin Crossley-Holland that will be out next year from Walker Books UK and Candlewick Press in the USA.

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Jeffrey Alan Love is an award-winning artist and writer whose clients have included The New York Times, TIME, The New Yorker, Scholastic, HarperCollins,Tor, Gollancz, and others. Nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Chesley Award, the British Science Fiction Award, The British Fantasy Award, and the Spectrum Fantastic Art Award, he has won a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators and two Academy of British Cover Design Awards. Born in South Carolina, he has lived in Germany, Texas, North Carolina, Nebraska, South Korea, Hawaii, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, California, and Missouri.

 

Notes from the Shadowed City can be purchased directly from Flesk Publications in the USA and from Amazon.co.uk on this side of the pond.

Jeffrey Alan Love’s Website, and on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr
Jeffrey Alan Love at Flesk Publications.

(Photos by Priya)

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Guest Post: “New Voices” by Mark Morris

The horror genre is in fine fettle at the moment. In fact, I can’t remember a time when the work being produced has been more wide-ranging, inventive and exciting. This is not only due to the fact …

Source: Guest Post: “New Voices” by Mark Morris

Reviews of Best Horror of the Year:Volume 8

 

The-Best-Horror-of-the-Year-Volume-Eight-Ellen-DatlowEllen Datlow is one of the hardest-working, iconic figures in Horror, Dark Fantasy, and elsewhere. When she speaks well of a certain author, I—by default—make a point to seek out writing by that person. Datlow won, on August 20, a Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short-Form.

Hence number eight in Night Shade Book’s annual compilation, and 20 tales curated from print, online and, perhaps, cobwebbed nowheres isolated in extragalactic gloom. Opening with “Summation 2015,” the editor replays that year’s incredible fertility. These summations are pure gifts highlighting output both well-known and obscure—notepad opportunities aplenty.

What distinguishes Datlow-edited anthologies from most (not all) others is the mix of newer and not-so-new names tilting toward those less known. William Grabowski for Horror Notes. His  full review including his favourites are here.

 

The book opens with a “best of the year” introduction from its editor, Ellen Datlow, my favorite editor of anthologies. I have a love/hate relationship with these intros, especially when they are written by someone whose opinion I hold in such high regard. I love these because I am informed of all the brilliant books/movies/events/etc. that I may have missed out on in the year. I hate these for the exact same reason; everything I don’t have immediately goes on the wish list and it ends up costing me money. It’s bitter sweet. In the case of The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eight, “Summation 2015” contains about 33 pages of things I need to buy if I haven’t already …Honestly, many people will be tempted to skip this, but don’t. It’s a wonderful breakdown of the past year, and everything that Datlow recommends that I too have read, I’m in full agreement with. The lady really knows her stuff.

Steve Pattee for Horror Talk. For his full review and commemts on his favourite stories are here.

 

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Bar, Liverpool, UK 2016

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Motel, bar on Fleet Street, Liverpool

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Nightmare Magazine: People of Colour Destroy Horror

This special edition of Nightmare is now available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

I’m delighted to be included with a reprint of my short story, “The Show”. For more about this edition see my previous blog post: here.

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 Table of Contents

Original Short Stories (edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia)
◾A Diet of Worms — Valerie Valdes
◾Wish You Were Here — Nadia Bulkin
◾None of This Ever Happened — Gabriela Santiago
◾The Taming of the Tongue — Russell Nichols

Reprint Fiction (selected by Tananarive Due)
◾Cruel Sistah — Nisi Shawl
◾The Show — Priya Sharma
◾Wet Pain — Terence Taylor
◾Monstro — Junot Díaz

Author Spotlights (edited by Arley Sorg)
◾Valerie Valdes
◾Nadia Bulkin
◾Gabriela Santiago
◾Russell Nichols
◾Nisi Shawl
◾Priya Sharma
◾Terence Taylor
◾Junot Díaz

Nonfiction (edited by Maurice Broaddus)
◾The H Word: The Darkest, Truest Mirrors — Alyssa Wong
◾Horror is…Not What You Think or Probably Wish It Is — Chesya Burke
◾Terror, Hope, Fascination, and Fear in Filipino Horror — Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
◾Horror, Inside Out — Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
◾The Thing We have to Fear — Chinelo Onwualu
◾Interview: Victor LaValle — Maurice Broaddus
◾Artists Gallery by Reiko Murakami, Kimberly Wengerd, Maggie Chiang, Saïna Six

Illustrations (art direction by Pablo Defendini)
◾Kimberly Wengerd — “A Diet of Worms” by Valerie Valdes
◾Maggie Chiang — “Wish You Were Here” by Nadia Bulkin
◾Saïna Six — “Cruel Sistah” by Nisi Shawl
◾Reiko Murakami — “The Show” by Priya Sharma (cover story)

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