James Everington has kindly done a mini-interview with me on his blog regarding “All the Fabulous Beasts”. He’s focused on the two new stories in there- “A Son of the Sea” and “Small Town Stories”.
Read it here.
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…
The 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 anthology 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 Hyde Hotel looks almost exactly as you’d expect it to: a faceless, budget hotel in a grey city you are just passing through. A hotel aimed at people travelling alone, a hotel where you know so little about your fellow guests that they could be anyone… and where, perhaps, so could you. But sometimes things are hiding in plain sight, and not everyone who stays at The Hyde gets a good night’s sleep…
Enjoy your stay.
The Hyde Hotel is an anthology of original fiction co-edited by James Everington and Dan Howarth, containing work by some of the newest talent in horror today.
I’ll be spending the next seven days with hotel manager James Everington and his guests Alison Littlewood, Mark West, Cate Gardner, S.P. Miskowski, Simon Bestwick and V.H. Leslie.
Table of Contents
Checking In by James Everington
The View from the Basement by Alison Littlewood
Night Porters by Iain Rowan
Tick Box by Dan Howarth
The Edifice of Dust by Amelia Mangan
Lost and Found by S P Miskowski
Housekeeping by Ray Cluley
Something like Blood by Alex Davis
The Coyote Corporation’s Misplaced Sony by Cate Gardner
Wrath of the Deep by Simon Bestwick
The Sealed Window by Mark West
The Blue Room by V H Leslie
Checking Out by James Everington
PS: Welcome James!
JE: Eh up!
PS:This is your first time as an editor. What made you want to be on the other side of the table?
EV: Simple really: I’ve always loved anthologies. I love the thrill of discovery, the way they allow you to read new authors alongside ones you know and trust. A good anthology isn’t just a load of stories in a row, the pieces should reflect or juxtapose each other. The order is important; an anthology should take you on a journey, like an album of songs does.
So basically, putting one together appealed to the part of me that used to love making compilation tapes of music for people in the 90s.
PS:What surprised you about the process?
EV: That the authors we asked to write a story said yes.
I was convinced some of them would say no/laugh at us/snub us in the street for having the audacity to ask. The Hyde Hotel genuinely features some of my favourite UK horror writers, and to get such fantastic stories from them was a wonderful feeling. I got to read these stories before the rest of the world had chance, like I was in on a secret.
PS:Would you want to repeat the experience of putting together an anthology?
Yes, I’ve spoken to Dan Howarth (my co-editor) about doing another one and what theme we might go for next. Nothing certain yet, because we both have lives, but I do hope we do another one. And there’s certain enough talented authors around to ask. Maybe we’ll get a story from you, Priya 🙂
PS:What was the inspiration for the hotel as an envelope for an anthology?
EV:It all started with an old blog post I wrote on the subject of stories set in strange hotels, in which I speculated about why hotels seemed to be such a good setting for the ghostly and the uncanny. I’m talking about the kind of faceless hotel where you might stay alone, on business or whatever. Where you’re out of your comfort zone and don’t know anyone around you… but nor do they know you. You can be anyone in a hotel like that–introduce yourself with a different name, act a little crazy. You can be anyone–but maybe that’s not a good thing…
I’d been reading a few stories set in hotels with this elastic concept of self and personality at the heart of them–Nicholas Royle’s The Reunion and Great Rates, Central Location by Hannah Kate, for example. And I thought, I want more of this kind of thing.
Dan sent me an email in response to that blog post saying that the two of us should put together an anthology of hotel based horror, despite us having no experience of editing anthologies… and thus (eventually) The Hyde was born.
PS: What’s the appeal of the hotel room as a setting?
EV: Well, everyone who stays in a hotel room is there for a reason, aren’t they? It might just be a holiday or a business trip but they’re temporarily out of their normal routine. And they might be staying there because of something more dramatic: they’ve fled home, or are having an affair, or are contemplating suicide…
Basically, everyone who stays in a hotel room already thinks they’re in a story, even if only in their own head.
PS: What brief did you give your writers?
EV: I sent them the following list of facts, gossip and hearsay about The Hyde Hotel:
• To most visitors, it appears to be a nondescript, middle-budget hotel in an unnamed UK city. But that is because The Hyde tends to look how they expect it to. At least at first.
• After that, what each guest perceives about the hotel’s layout, rooms, its staff and even the weather outside varies. But generally what they perceive has some relation to their own inner weather.
• Most guests who stay there do so alone, and not necessarily under their own name. Some stay a single-night on some business trip, and other stay years…
• There are certainly stories of hauntings and other strange affairs attached to the Hyde, but most of these doppelgängers or spectres have a curiously symbiotic relationship with the guest perceiving them….
• The walls between the rooms are very thin.
• Some of the staff appear to be very old, or eccentric, or just slightly… odd.
• The above also applies to the other guests.
• The hotel’s numerous back-doors do not necessarily open onto the same place as its front-door…
PS: What’s your favourite hotel story/film?
EV: Robert Aickman’s Into The Wood for a story. And as for films, it’s got to be The Shining hasn’t it?
Plus Fawlty Towers, that classic series of English repression about a man on the edge of mental collapse and psychosis.
PS:Last year you moderated a panel at British Fantasy Con about the future of British horror. What are your own thoughts the matter?
EV: Well, I doubt I can answer this as well as my excellent panelists that day did (see also this follow on piece from Nina Allan where she tackles some of the topics from the panel in more depth). In general, I’m quite optimistic: there are many great writers in the UK horror scene at the moment, and between the traditional publishers, the small press, and self-publishing there’s a way for any writer of talent to get their work out to an audience. Hopefully the genre is becoming more accepting of minorities and diversity too, although other people will be better qualified than me to say if that’s really so.
How many of these brilliant writers can actually make a living from writing is another, and more depressing question. But as a reader I see a lot to be excited about, and that makes me feel more inspired as a writer too.
PS:What’s next for you?
EV: Quite a lot, as it happens. This year I have a novella out from Boo Books called Trying To Be So Quiet, which is a ghost story but also a love story, in its own bleak way. And Infinity Plus will be releasing the complete The Quarantined City, so people can finally see how it ends!
Then Hersham Horror will be releasing another novella of mine called Paupers’ Graves at this years’ Fantasycon. I can’t wait for that; it’s being launched alongside novellas from some fantastic authors, so I’m proud to be in such company. Now I just need to finish the thing. It’s a story set in my home city of Nottingham and after the metatextual fun of The Quarantined City I wanted to write something a bit more focused on monsters and people getting killed. I’m a horror writer and I hadn’t killed anyone in ages; I was getting withdrawal symptoms… So it’s a story about history, and British society, and people getting dying in nasty ways.
Purchase The Hyde Hotel.
James Everington, co-editor, is a writer who likes enjoys “the unexplained, the psychological, and the ambiguous”. And Guinness.
His work includes two short story collections (Falling Over and The Other Room). 2016 will see the release of his novella Trying To Be So Quiet from by Boo Books and the serial novel The Quarantined City (Infinity Plus).