Tag Archives: Black Shuck Books

Dreamland: Other Stories

At heart, Dreamland is an elemental feminine landscape.

These twenty-one stories from female-identifying writers embody the disconnect between reality and the subconscious, the desire for meaning and the need for escape, the too-blue sky and the abyss.

These are voices that embrace the topography of the other: the weird, transgressive, uncanny and strange. Voices that displace, unsettle and unnerve, that are subtly subversive in their power.

From the Black Shuck Books website

Dreamland: Other Storiesis available from Black Shuck Books on August 26th 2021

Thanks to editor Sophie Essex and Black Shuck Books’ Steve Shaw for including me. My story was initially part of the The Sinsiter Horror Company’s online advent calendar in December 2020. You can find out a little more about it here.

Table of Contents:

‘Nectar’ by Kirsty Logan
‘Grimmer House’ by Taylor Sykes
‘Of the Ways’ by P J Richards
‘Not Just Museums’ by Sam Hicks
‘Fill the Thickened Lung with Breath’ by C A Yates
‘The Stone Lion’ by Catherine Adams
‘Inert Alight’ by Selina Lock
‘Pain is a Liar’ by Giselle Leeb
‘Becoming Home’ by Charlotte Bond
‘The Geminated’ by Eygló Karlsdóttir
‘Shared Endorphins’ by Emily Castles
‘Girls’ Night Out’ by Teika Marija Smits
‘The Night Parade’ by Laura Mauro
‘Homecoming’ by Rosalie Parker
‘Sea Heart’ by Jo M Thomas
‘Mari Lwyd’ by Priya Sharma
‘Footnotes to the Travel Guide’ by Nicole M Wolverton
‘Violet Green’ by Rachel Knightley
‘To Pray at Your Temple’ by Penny Jones
‘The Fall of Pan’ by Julie Ann Rees
‘Sky Eyes’ by Julie Travis

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Guest Post by Tracy Fahey: The Return Of The Repressed: Further Unheimlich Manoeuvres…

I am delighted to have Tracy Fahey here to talk about the rerelease of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre. Her collection has been described as domestic horror but it’s anything but mundane. Her writing  has a very claustrophobic quality which heightens its unsease. Large events that affect whole communities are focused through the microscope of personal interactions, which are beautifully observed. Although there are twists, Tracy Fahey never plays for cheap shocks. I thoroughly recommend her work. – Priya Sharma


In March 2020 I’m delighted to announce the uncanny resurrection of my first, beloved collection, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre in a deluxe edition, and the arrival of a new chapbook, Unheimlich Manoeuvres in the Dark, both released by the Sinister Horror Company.

Originally published in limited hardback edition by Alex Davis of Boo Books, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was a collection of fourteen tales situated within the broad parameter of home. In 2017 it was nominated for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards, and one of its stories, ‘Walking The Borderlines’ was also longlisted by Ellen Datlow for The Year’s Best Horror Volume 8. The next year, in 2018, it was picked up by the Sinister Horror Company and rereleased in paperback and ebook.

Surely that’s as much life as any book can hope for? But like its unheimlich Freudian source, it seem that this is a book that specialises in the uncanny return…

I’ve always been fascinated by tales of unease grounded in the home. Classic stories like Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ The Yellow Wallpaper or Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask Of Amontillado haunt me with their mundane settings where horrifying events happen. Even after the re-release of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, I continued to weave horror that arose from the subversion of domestic intimacy; the distortion of home through the lens of physical and mental illness, the intense disquiet occasioned by paranormal shadows within a safe space. In late 2019, in conversation with my excellent editor, Justin Park, we decided to bring out a third, deluxe edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre. This handsome edition, out on Friday the 13th of March 2020,will include a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this edition.

It was at this point that my resourceful editor pointed out that through the popularity of the second edition many readers already owned a copy of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre. For these Constant Readers, he proposed creating a 100-page chapbook of the new and additional material. And so the gloriously punny Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark was born.
These are beautiful objects. I love the original design for The Unheimlich Manoeuvre; black, fractured home on a green background. For Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, the Sinister Horror Company have neatly reversed the colours, so the little green house becomes isolated in the gathering dark. For the deluxe edition, the wraparound back cover contains within it the watermarked version of the Wildgoose Lodge print inside the book, a lovely visual reflection on the lingering quality of the uncanny.
As an author, I couldn’t be more delighted with this strange, uncanny rebirth of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, and its sinister doppelganger, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark. Grateful thanks to my midwife, Justin Park, as always, and I can only hope that others will grow to love these weird book-children as much as I do.



Tracy Fahey is an Irish Gothic writer. In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award, 2020 sees the release of the third deluxe edition of this collection, together with a chapbook, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Eight of her short stories have been longlisted by Ellen Datlow for The Best Horror of the Year; her short story ‘That Thing I Did’ receiving an Honourable Mention in the latest volume. She is published in over twenty Irish, US and UK anthologies and her work has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. Fahey holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in Irish, English, American, Italian, Dutch and Australian edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. Her first novel, The Girl in the Fort, was released by Fox Spirit Press in 2017. Her second collection, New Music For Old Rituals, was published in 2018 by Black Shuck Books. She is currently working on her third collection, I Spit Myself Out. Her website is at www.tracyfahey.com

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Great British Horror 4: Dark and Stormy Nights

GREAT BRITISH HORROR 4 continues the annual series edited by Steve J Shaw of Black Shuck Books. Each year has a different loose theme and features ten British authors, plus one international guest contributor.

It was great to be part the official launch at British Fantasy Con, along with Steve J Shaw, Alison Littlewood, Phil Sloman and Tim Lebbon.

Featuring: Nor Cease You Never Now ~ Ren Warom | Faith Leaps ~ Kath Deakin & Tim Lebbon | Whistles After Dark ~ G.V. Anderson | My Mother’s Ghosts ~ Priya Sharma | Old Women and Knives ~ Phil Sloman | Errol ~ Paul M. Feeney | The Goddess of the Rain ~ Alison Littlewood | Slipper ~ Catriona Ward | All the Secret Colours of the World ~ Simon Avery | Oathkeeper ~ Maura McHugh | I Will Tell You Seven-Oh ~ M.R. Carey


Purchase direct from Black Shuck Books

The dark and stormy night is welcome after the long, hot summer that’s scorched the grass and put me in a stupor. I’m in a perpetual sweat. I lie awake through airless nights in my bedroom.

The violence of the dark and stormy night breaks the tension and brings a kind of peace.


I am my mother’s ghost and she is mine.

She follows me around the house. Right now she’s outside the toilet. I know this because her sigh penetrates everything, even my sleep. It verbalises her emotional exhaustion. She doesn’t need words now that she has her powerful sigh. It creates a vacuum that sucks out all my feelings.

“Are you okay in there?” Her voice is low and slow. I pretend not to hear her.

“Charlotte?” There’s a tentative knock.

“Go away.”

“Charlotte, are they talking about us?”

She means in the village. I went out today for supplies, carting them back in my rucksack. Mum imagines the village as it was years ago, when her and Dad bought this house. There was a butcher’s, greengrocer’s, post office and tearooms. A crucible for gossip.

I’ve tried to explain to Mum that I cut through the trees to the main road and walk the half mile to the supermarket. It’s a great barn of a building in which to be anonymous.

Mum can’t take it in. She’s stuck in the past. I’m stuck in her past.

“Nobody’s talking about us.”

I wash my hands. When I open the door she’s right outside, as if her nose was pressed against the wooden panelling.

People used to tell me that I’m a younger version of Mum. I wouldn’t know. I’ve no idea what either of us look like.

(From My Mother’s Ghosts)


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Suffer Little Children by Penny Jones

PS: Welcome Penny Jones. Congratulations on your collection with Black Shuck Shadows! Tell us about the themes and how it developed.

perf4.370x7.000.inddPJ: There are a couple of themes that run through the collection, one being mental health and the other being a loss of control. These two themes tend to be intrinsic in most of my writing, and I find that they crop up time and time again when my protagonist or antagonist in a story is a child. There is something naturally chaotic about a child’s control over their parents, whether it’s a toddler having a tantrum, or a teenager punching a hole in the door. But on the flip side to that, children exist in a state of constant helplessness, that veneer of control, an illusion. They can have their world turned upside down at the whim of their parents or guardians

PS: There are lots of precedents for “creepy” children in both horror and sci-fi literature and film. Do you have any particular favourites? Have any of them influenced your work?

PJ: It isn’t really creepy children that influence my work, although I love John Wyndham’s work it isn’t his portrayal of The Children in The Midwich Cuckoos that influences my work, it is the Colonel in The Day of the Triffids. “The men must work – the women must have babies.” This concept of women being used to repopulate the world and being forced to bear children, petrified me growing up (probably due in part to my father’s attempts to cure me of my childhood phobia of needles, by repeatedly telling me how many injections and blood tests I’d have to have once I got pregnant). It is this societal concept of a woman being nothing more than a vessel for a child, and that their life is somehow less worthy than the child’s that scares me more than anything else. I’m just glad that I was an adult before I knew about Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale.

PS: Why do you think we’re so disturbed by the child trope in horror?

PJ: There is definitely an element of the uncanny valley in why we find children so disturbing. We were one once, we should understand them, but we don’t. Everything about them is slightly altered to our norm as adults, from their large eyes, to their minuscule nails, nothing is quite in scale as to how it will be when they are grown, but they are still recognisably human. That very slight difference to their physicality is enough to trigger a response in us, it is supposed to, it is the trigger for the parental instinct. But it is also the same slight difference that freaks us out in mannequins, aliens, or antique Victorian dolls. Then there are the psychological differences, children are ruled by their Id. Their ego and superego developing over the years. They don’t have an understanding of their actions or the repercussions of them, they are reactionary. Until the age of about seven their only awareness is of their self. This is natural, a survival of the fittest trait, but it is still scary. I think back to incidents I witnessed growing up, bullies stabbing someone with a compass, fireworks lit and thrown at other children, someone being shoved into the road during an argument. Luckily none of these went badly wrong, but it was just that, luck. A centimetre to the right and that compass point would have pierced an eye, a second later the firework would have gone off in someone’s face, if the driver hadn’t slammed their breaks on in time.

PS: In some of your interviews you’ve talked about your exposure to the horror genre at a young age. Are there any traditional children’s books or shows that frightened or disturbed you at that time?

PJ: The scariest film I watched as a child must be Return to Oz, the whole concept of Dorothy being carted away for ECT because her aunty and uncle think she is either mad or lying about her time at Oz, and that they cannot cope with the sleepless nights and dreams that plague Dorothy following her time there, would be horrifying in any 18 certificate film, let alone a children’s film. The line “They’re patients who’ve been damaged, locked in the cellar.” still haunts me today. To put it in perspective I watched both Return to Oz, and An American Werewolf in London when I was six, and Return to Oz was by far the scariest. I have rewatched both films as an adult and I would still say Return to Oz is the scarier film of the two.

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Return to Oz

PS: What do you think of current YA/children’s books in terms of their darker, more adult themes?


From Ransom Rigg’s novels

PJ: I’m all for them. Of current YA books I’m particularly enjoying Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I think there have always been dark, adult themes in YA and children’s fiction, when I was growing up one of my favourites was Grinny by Nicholas Fisk which my parents gave me to read when I was about eight, before I moved on to reading Point Horror, Nightmare Inn and other stories where gore and mysterious boys were the majority of the plot. It is a safe way for children to explore adult behaviours, and to be aware of the choices and decisions that they’ll face as they get older. YA and children’s books have always been around, and have always veered towards the darker side of human nature, whether it’s Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, or the Grimm’s fairytales.

PS: Do you have a personal favourite in the Black Shuck Shadows series?

PJ: Yes. Phil Sloman’s Broken on the Inside is amazing, I love the subtlety in his writing. Again it’s that uncanny valley of something being just slightly off, a dissonance in his stories which is beautiful.

PS: Do you have any advice for writers putting together their first collection?

PJ: Think about how your stories work together as a whole. Even if your first collection isn’t a themed collection, your stories need to work together. You could have the best short stories ever written, but if they don’t fit together, if the flow isn’t there, you don’t have a collection.

Buy Suffer Little Children from Black Shuck Books (£4.99 in paperback / 99p ebook)

Contents: Beneath Still Waters / The Changeling / Swansong / Swimming Out to Sea / It’s Not Just How Beautiful They Are / Waxing



Penny Jones knew she was a writer when she started to talk about herself in the third person (her family knew when Santa bought her a typewriter for Christmas). She loves reading and will read pretty much anything you put in front of her, but her favourite authors are Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and John Wyndham. In fact Penny only got into writing to buy books, when she realised that there wasn’t that much money in writing she stayed for the cake.

Penny’s Blog, FB, Twitter.


Black Shuck Books is an independent publisher based in Kent, launched in 2015 by Steve J Shaw. Black Shuck Shadows is his range of pocket sized horror.


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Halloween Reads

One great thing about visiting the dealers’ room at British Fantasy Con (FCon) is that it reminds me how passionate people are who dedicate their time and energy to the small press and how much people still love the printed page.

I’m proud to have had work in TTA Press–  I love it because there’s nothing quite like it publishing short genre fiction in the UK.  Andy Cox, the editor, has an eclectic eye for work and high production values. Interzone, Black Static and Crime Wave win awards, as do the stories that Andy chooses.

As a horror fan, Black Static has contained some amazing stories that have stayed with me, such as “White Rabbit” by Georgina Bruce (British Fantasy Award Winner in the short story category) , “Shark! Shark!” by Ray Cluley (BFA Winner short story) , “When the Moon Man Knocks” by Cate Gardner  (BFA nominated), “Sunshine” by Nina Allan (BFA nominated), “Lullaby” by Steve Rasnic Tem, “Prespective” by Steve. J. Dines,  just to name a few.  It features work by a plethora of talent like Simon Bestwick, Stephen Bacon, Stephen Hardagon, Laura Mauro, Damien Angelica Walters, Kristi Demeester, Helen Marshall, Andrew Hook, Ralph Robert Moore, Gary McMahon, Stephen Graham Jones…

Black Static Issue 60The 60th issue is now out and contains excellent work by Ray Cluley, Stephen Hargadon and Tim Lees.  It also contains the tremendous “Skyshine (or Death by Scotland)” by Carole Johnstone. I become a fangirl after reading her BFA winning story “Signs of the Times”, which was also first published in Black Static. There was a real buzz around “Skyshine” at the conference and I read it when I got home. It’s early to start talking about next year’s awards but I think it would be criminal if this wasn’t nominated. It’s inventive, clever and wry. Oh, and new subscribers can get Issue 60 free by using “B60 FREE” as their Shopper Reference during the checkout.


I read “The Beauty” by Aliya Whiteley, published by Unsung Stories last year. It was a stunning bit of work about men in a post-woman society, that manages to be both body horror and an exploration of gender roles. I wanted to buy everything on the stand at FCon. In fact, I was deeply put out to find Malcom Devlin’s debut collection, “You Will Grow Into Them”, was sold out by the time I got there. It’s already garnering praise – see James Lovegrove’s review in the Financial Times, no less.

Did I also mention their books are also extremely handsome?


Daniele Serra won a British Fantasy Award this year for his artwork. I came home with a copy of “Five Feathered Tales” by Alison Littlewood, which Daniele illustrated. It truly is a thing of beauty and Alison’s stories are delicate and dark. Incidentally, I also bought her new novel “The Crow Garden” after I enjoyed “The Hidden People”.


Black Shuck Books is a relatively new venture from Steve Shaw that launched an HB-Cover-400anthology at FCon called “The Dark Satanic Mills”. It’s the second in his annual collection showcasing British writers (plus an international one), containing original work by Cate Gardner, Charlotte Bond, Paul Finch, Andrew Freudenberg, Gary Fry, Carole Johnstone, Penny Jones, Gary McMahon, Marie O’Regan, John Llewellyn Probert and Angela Slatter. Steve also launched John Lllewellyn Probert’s collection “Made for the Dark”.

Black Shuck’s catalogue is interesting. I’m thinking of Black Shuck Shadows, micro-collections by Thana Niveau, Paul Kane and Joseph D’Lacey.  “A Suggestion of Ghosts: Supernatural Fiction by Women 1826-1897”   is curated by the very knowledgeable Johnny Mains, who has scoured periodicals, archives and collections for work that hasn’t been republished since it was first released.


Another launch that I attended was Titan Books’ New Fears, edited by Mark Morris. It’s a stellar line-up with writers like Ramsey Campbell, Nina Allan, Conrad Williams, A.K. Benedict, Alison Littlewood and Stephen Laws, to name a few.

For an alternative Halloween read, I’d suggest Simon Bestwick’s “The Feast of All Souls”, which pulls off the trick of being a haunted house story, a Victorian gothic novel, flirts with quantum physics and is a study of loss. Another recommendation would be Laura Mauro’s novella “Naming the Bones”. I’ve watched her career with interest as she’s a fine writer.

While at FCon I saw James Everington read from his novel “The Quarantined City”, in which the protagonist’s search for an author takes him deep into the man’s short stories. James Everington’s fiction is quiet and unsettling, having drawn very favorable attention from The Guardian reviewer Eric Brown. I have to mention Kit Power at this point too, who has a very different (set of) voices, all of them convincing, and who is the only person at the convention who could carry off a reading with a hammer in his hand. His collection will be out next year.

“The Doll’s Alphabet” by Camilla Grudova is a truly weird collection, repeating motifs
and ideas. Even the stories that non-plussed me left me pondering their meaning long afterwards. Her dystopic short story “Waxy” was nominated in the short story category of the BFAs this year and was a strong contender. Read The Guardian review which draws comparison with Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood and David Lynch.
I’m going to sneak in a mainstream author here. I’m a big fan of Sarah Hall.  Her new collection “Madame Zero” is pure genre. It contains “Mrs Fox” which won the BBC National Short Story Award, in which a woman is tranformed by pregnancy into a vixen. Elsewhere she explores a wind drenched world, the liberation of sexual appetites and an era where a change in antenatal priorties mean to chose a woman’s life over that of her unborn child is illegal.
She’s been twice nominated for the Booker prize and this book reveals the poet at her heart in the concise beauty of her writing.

Last but not least is Undertow Publications, a Canadian venture run by Mike Kelly. It’s fast gained an excellent reputation for its Year’s Best Weird Fiction and Shadows and Tall Trees, as well as its single author collections, being nominated for Shirley Jackson Awards, World Fantasy Awards and British Fantasy Awards.
Mike Kelly is releasing the range in both hardback (below) and paperback.
I think they’re good looking books too, with as much style as substance. Does that mean I’m shallow?


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