This is the first update here in a while and it’s good news, to tell you that my East London occult gangster bloodbath, ‘Communion’ has been adapted by the fine people at Tales to Terrify. If you read my recent newsletter, you may already be aware of this, but if not, here’s everything you need to know:
Featuring in Tales To Terrify’s episode, alongside the story ‘Tinnytus’ by Colyn Rogers, is my story ‘Communion.’ Until now, the only way to read this story was by picking up my short fiction collection, Paths Best Left Untrodden, or by breaking into my house and reading it on my computer, which seems like a lot of work. So now, for the first time, you can check the story out, recreated wonderfully by debut narrator Andrew Gibson, here:
This past week has seen not one, but two anthologies I’ve been incredibly excited about for a while. First up is A Silent Dystopia, from Demain Publishing. Set in Dave Jeffery’s A Quiet Apocalypse universe, this anthology features stories by the likes of Stephanie Ellis, Steve Stred, J A Sullivan, Morgan K Tanner, and myself, alongside some other amazing voices. Some of the stories focussed on how apocalypse ‘preppers’ might handle the eventual coming of such a cataclysm, others on how a chosen few might reject the prejudices against the Deaf in this silent world, while still others – like mine – considered how some might try to help smuggle the persecuted to safety and the hazards they would face. All in all, from what I’ve read so far, it’s a terrific anthology. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can grab your copy in eBook here. The paperback version will be arriving sometime in early 2022. If you’re not familiar with the source text, you can get to grips with Dave’s brutal and emotionally difficult world here. Massive thanks to David T. Griffith who went to pains to get these stories just right and to pay the best possible homage to the universe Dave Jeffery created. Also to Dean Drinkel at Demain for supporting the project, and to Roberto Segate, whose stunning art adorns the cover, as well as Adrian Baldwin who, as ever, created a dynamite overall cover design.
The second anthology – released today, no less, is Hex-Periments: A Dark Biotech Anthology. Surgically spliced together by the mad scientist duo of Ross Jeffery and Keith Anthony Baird, this one features stories by the editors themselves, Demi-Louise Blackburn, Tracy Fahey, David Sodergren, Dave Jeffery, Paul Kane and others, alongside my story ‘Cerebral Salvage.’ All the tales within the book feature dark biotechnological themes, often with black magic elements. With the calibre of authors on show, the quality of the stories is obviously very high, but what I love most about this anthology is that the proceeds are going to support homeless charities in the UK, something I hope we can all get behind. So, pick up a copy here and do some good, if you have the means to do so.
I did readings with snippets from both of my stories which feature in these anthologies on my YouTube channel recently. Check out the one for ‘Cerebral Salvage,’ below.
Were Tales: A Shapeshifter Anthology, featuring my story, ‘Refuge,’ was released yesterday through Brigids Gate Press. I was invited to contribute a story to the anthology by editor S. D. Vassallo, with the instructions to try and use a shapeshifter that wasn’t the archetypal werewolf.
I put my thinking cap on and started scouring the web and various folklore sources for shapeshifters from cultures around the world. After some narrowing down and plotting out of some potential scenarios, I was torn between the Kitsune of Japan – a magical were fox – and the Berserker of northern and eastern Europe.
Just as my indecisiveness was beginning to get me down, the central character of my eventual story, Johan, came to me in crystal clarity and I was set on the Berserker from there on in. Johan is an older protagonist. One who’s seen and done pretty much everything in his life and has the scars to show for it. But also someone who has rejected the violence of the past. Now he has something beyond himself to protect. I hope people will get as much out of reading the story as I did in writing it.
What I didn’t know when I sat down to write ‘Refuge’ was quite how talented the other writers and poets on the TOC were going to be. I’m honoured to share pages with people like Jonathan Maberry, Gabino Iglesias, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason (aka the sisters of slaughter), Linda Addison, Eric J. Guignard, Cynthia Pelayo, Beverley Lee, Alyson Faye, Stephanie Wytovich, Laurel Hightower, Tabatha Wood, Stephanie Ellis, Catherine McCarthy … I could go on and on (and on!). Hell, even the introduction was written by a legend in Ronald Kelly. It goes without saying that I’m delighted to be among such talented people.
Already near the top of the ‘Hot New Releases’ list on Amazon for horror, I hope and believe this book is going to be a big hit. Don’t miss it, grab your copy here.
So, here and in my newsletter, I’ve been dropping teasers about new releases for a while. But with all of them, I’ve been waiting on permission to talk about them. That permission has arrived and so I’m here to share the news.
First up, coming in August is Below, my new novella, released through Silver Shamrock Publishing on August 17th. With it coming from Silver Shamrock, I knew it was going to have cover art by Kealan Patrick Burke’s other-worldly Elder Lemon Design. What I had not anticipated, however, was that it would be this level of masterpiece:
To say I’m pleased with it is to downplay my emotional response a thousand fold. I’m confident the cover will sell copies of the book to people who’ve never heard of me and who have no idea what’s held within those 146 pages. And that, after all, is the idea.
What is within those pages, you might ask?
Here’s the synopsis: Nick has revered his grandfather his entire life. The absent hero, his namesake, buried alive in his final act of courage an ocean and thousands of miles away. Jess has outgrown her status as an all-action social media celebrity and the endless demands that come with it.
Adventure Travel TV has thrown this unlikely duo together, promising Jess the launchpad she craves and Nick the chance to tell his grandfather’s story first-hand, in the newly uncovered mine that still holds his remains from the twilight days of the gold rush. Is it a dream come true or a nightmare as someone or something stirs…BELOW.
Watch out for my appearance on the Deadheadspace podcast in early August (hopefully among others) when I’ll be talking about the book.
Later in the year, there are two incredibly exciting anthologies featuring stories of mine.
The first of these is A Silent Dystopia. Edited by David T. Griffith and released through Demain Publishing, this book is a collection of stories set in Dave Jeffery’s A Quiet Apocalypse universe. If you’re not familiar with the subject matter, I strongly recommend you familiarise yourself with the original canon of three books A Quiet Apocalypse, Cathedraland The Samaritan.
Dave has been tremendously kind to me since I began writing and, to be asked to contribute a story to an anthology which explores a fictional world which has moved me so profoundly was one of the most surreal moments in my author-life to date.
My story in the book is titled ‘The Courier’ and features a smuggler called Saul, based in the south west of England and, I believe, is one of my strongest pieces to date.
‘The Courier’ will appear alongside stories by Steve Stred, Stephanie Ellis, J. A. Sullivan, John Palisano and others in a book that I hope and believe fans of the AQA series will really get a lot out of.
Finally, my story, ‘Refuge’, has been accepted to appear in another of this year’s most exciting anthologies. The first release from the brand new publishing house, Brigid’s Gate Publishing, Were Tales: A Shapeshifter Anthology features stories and poems of were-creatures. ‘Refuge’ is set in Sweden, and features a were-creature native to the norse region. It will sit alongside work by a multitude of incredible writers and poets, including Jonathan Maberry, Linda D. Addison, Stephanie Ellis, Eric J. Guignard, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Laurel Hightower, Cina Pelayo, Gabino Iglesias and many more. More news on this and A Silent Dystopia when pre-order links are live.
I started thinking about a short story collection about eighteen months ago. I’d had a number of shorts published in some quite prestigious and exciting anthologies. Hopefully I gained a fair few readers from my fiction sitting shoulder to shoulder with some titans of the genre, such as Gemma Files, Richard Chizmar, Mary SanGiovanni, and Brian Evenson but, after the relative success of my debut novella, The Balance, I felt there were perhaps others who might want to absorb the breadth of my work to date without having to invest huge sums on the anthologies I’ve been part of. Of course, I also wanted to get some new, unpublished tales into the world.
The title, Paths Best Left Untrodden is very much a representation of what horror is for me. The misstep. The erring from what, deep down, we know is the correct trajectory and into a state where control leaves us and where we are at the mercy of monsters, human or otherwise. I hope that people will find this thread throughout the thirteen stories in Paths.
Responses so far have been overwhelmingly positive, with incredibly kind blurbs from four sensational writers in TC Parker, Ross Jeffery, Dave Jeffery and Dan Howarth. Dan also saw fit to publish Paths as the second title under his new Northern Republic imprint. Initial reviews from Simon Paul Wilson at Kendall Reviews and J Maddux entertainment have also been effusive.
This has alleviated some of the pre-release nerves.
One thing I was never nervous about was the cover art. Placed into the safe hands of Greg Chapman, who also crafted the cover for The Balance, I find myself with a thing of beauty to hold in my hands. And something which, in its sinister-yet-not-overt nature, hopefully represents the contents of the book well.
Paths Best Left Untrodden is released Saturday 5th June in eBook format, with a paperback due imminently thereafter, through Northern Republic. You can pre-order your copy here.