“So Much Wine” in SUPERNATURAL TALES #42

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I was remiss in announcing my last publication of 2019, the Christmas ghost story “So Much Wine” in the excellent and underrated publication Supernatural Tales, which has published several of my stories. Get a hard copy or a copy for your Kindle here.

There are three other Christmas ghost stories inside–by Steve Duffy, Helen Grant, and Mark Valentine–as well as some non-seasonal fiction. The full table of contents:

‘The God of Storage Options’ by Steve Duffy

‘Flame Mahogany’ by Jane Jakeman

‘So Much Wine’ by Lynda E. Rucker

‘That’s What Friends Are For’ by Patricia Lillie

‘Cold as Night’ by Sam Dawson

‘The Seventh Card’ by Mark Valentine

‘Mrs Velderkaust’s Lease’ by Helen Grant

About 2019 itself, the less said, the better–2020 has been off to an unpleasantly hectic start, but I’m finally getting a small chance to catch my breath. I’m hoping for a better year and that I’ll be able to finish some long-languishing projects and bring you a lot of new stories!

“The Vestige” in NOWHEREVILLE

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The anthology Nowhereville: Weird is Other People is now available to order, containing my story “The Vestige,” a strange tale of a man searching for his cousin in an Eastern European city.  Here’s the full table of contents:

Walk Softly, Softly – Nuzo Onoh

Y – Maura McHugh

Night Doctors – P. Djèli Clark

The Chemical Bride – Evan J. Peterson

Patio Wing Monsters – S.P. Miskowski

Underglaze – Craig Laurance Gidney

The Vestige – Lynda E. Rucker

The Cure – Tariro Ndoro

Kleinsche Fläsche of Four-Dimensional Resonance – D.A. Xiaolin Spires

Nolens Volens – Mike Allen

Vertices – Jeffrey Thomas

Like Fleas on a Tired Dog’s Back – Erica L. Satifka

Urb Civ – Kathe Koja

Over/Under – Leah Bobet

A Name for Every Home – Ramsey Campbell

Tends to Zero – Wole Talabi

My Lying-Down Smiley Face – Stephen Graham Jones

Luriberg-That-Was – R.L. Lemberg

The Sister City – Cody Goodfellow

 

 

 

“This Crumbling Pageant” in The Far Tower

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Swan River Press and Mark Valentine have done it again, put together an absolutely gorgeous book with a terrific line-up. The Far Tower: Stories for W.B. Yeats is available now for preorder, shipping in December. It includes my story “This Crumbling Pageant” as part of an excellent table of contents:

 “Introduction”
Mark Valentine

“Under the Frenzy of the Fourteenth Moon”
Ron Weighell

“Daemon Est Deus Inversus”
D. P. Watt

“The Shiftings”
Rosanne Rabinowitz

“Hermit for Hire”
Caitriona Lally

“The Property of the Dead”
John Howard

“Cast a Cold Eye”
Timothy J. Jarvis

“The Messiah of Blackhall Place”
Derek John

“This Crumbling Pageant”
Lynda E. Rucker

“Shadowy Waters”
Reggie Oliver

“The Hosts of the Air”
Nina Antonia

“Contributor Notes”

“Acknowledgements”

I’m absolutely in love with the cover design by John Coulthard. When I was a child who wanted to be a writer, I imagined being in books that had covers that looked like that.

“Every Exquisite Thing” reprinted at The Dark and other news

My story “Every Exquisite Thing,” which originally appeared in The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray, is available to read for free online at The Dark. The Scarlet Soul was edited by Mark Valentine (a very talented writer in his own right) and published by Swan River Press, but it sold out pretty much immediately on publication, so until now, this has been a rather hard-to-find story of mine!

Also, in July, a new story by me, “The Sideways Lady,” appeared in an anthology for “kids of all ages,” as they used to say (do they still say that?), Terrifying Tales to Tell at Night. That link goes to Amazon but of course if you ordered the book through your friendly neighborhood brick and mortar independent bookstore, all the better. Edited by Stephen Jones and spookily illustrated by Randy Broecker, the book is mostly reprints of short tales by great writers (Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Michael Marshall Smith among others) suitable for kids–Lisa Morton has the other original story in it besides me. I’m particularly chuffed to be in an anthology alongside the legendary Manly Wade Wellman for what I believe is the first time.

I feel like there has probably been other news worth sharing in the past almost-seven months since I last posted anything here, but in the spirit of onwards and upwards, let’s just move along. I’ve got a few things coming out in the months ahead and am working on some other exciting things, so watch this space.

“Different Angels” reprinted at Nightmare Magazine

The first story I ever published, “Different Angels,” has been reprinted over at Nightmare Magazine. I wrote this way back in the halcyon days of the late 1990s–a different world, that was–and it was published by The Third Alternative, the precursor to Black Static, in 1999. I’ve written elsewhere about what TTA Press meant and means to me and how important that first sale was–the first story I sent to Andy Cox!–so I won’t belabor that point here, but I did want to talk a little bit about the story’s origin.

Back in the 1990s, I was still very much finding my voice as a writer. And wow, I could not sell a story. I couldn’t even give a story away–believe me, I tried. Back then, nobody wanted the kind of stories I was writing, or didn’t want them from me, at any rate.

The stories we write are always stories that come from where we are in that particular time and place, and “Different Angels” is an angry story I could have only written in my twenties. I was still angry at the rural South where I’d grown up, and hadn’t yet figured out how to reconcile the things I hated about it–ignorance and bigotry and small-mindedness and religious fundamentalism–with who I was–unmistakably a product of that rural South, however much I wanted to deny it. So I wrote a story that twisted a lot of the values I was kicking against–religion, the family. I think I was also mainlining a lot of writers like Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews around that time.

I used to hear a lot of writers say that nothing changes after you publish your first story, but I found that wasn’t true at all. I had wanted to be a writer ever since I could hold a pen, and I’d been seriously submitting stories for four years with no success. To finally get an acceptance, and to a magazine I admired so much, was a huge deal to me. I felt like a real writer at last–even if nobody in America had ever heard of the magazine or TTA Press back in those days and just looked at me blankly when I mentioned it. Plus, it plugged me into a community of TTA readers and writers, some of whom I’m real-life friends with today.

Of course, if you like the story, you can check out other stories by me that are available free online. “Different Angels” is also reprinted in my first collection, The Moon Will Look Strange, which is available at all the Amazons (even though I only linked to two) in Kindle or paperback. And you can pick up my second collection from Swan River Press, You’ll Know When You Get There.

Dorian Gray, Best New Horror, & Black Static

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Now available for pre-order from Swan River Press and due out next month is the anthology The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray, which includes my story “Every Exquisite Thing” and nine other stories by terrific writers. Edited by Mark Valentine, this is another gorgeous production from Swan River Press that you won’t want to miss.

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Also available for pre-order: Best New Horror #28, edited by Stephen Jones, from PS Publishing. This includes my story “Who Is This Who Is Coming?” from my short story collection You’ll Know When You Get There. You can get the trade paperback or the signed limited edition of Best New Horror, which has a fine lineup as always. And you can still get a copy of You’ll Know When You Get There from Swan River Press while they last.

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Finally, there’s a new Black Static out; I have an ongoing column here, and for this issue I wrote about ghosts. There’s also a regular column by Ralph Robert Moore, fiction reviews by Peter Tennant and film reviews by Gary Couzens, and the usual lineup of fine fiction, this time from Ruth EJ Booth, Ralph Robert Moore, Georgina Bruce, Andrew Humphrey, Carly Holmes, and Mel Kassel, all beautifully illustrated by Vince Haig, George C. Cotronis, and Joachim Luetke. If you subscribe, you get the first issue free.

Darker Companions, a Ramsey Campbell tribute anthology

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Darker Companions, a Ramsey Campbell tribute anthology, is out now from PS Publishing, with cover art by the great JK Potter.

Here’s the glorious lineup:

  • Introduction: Hymns from the Church in High Street by Scott David Aniolowski 
  • Holoow by Michael Wehunt 
  • The Long Fade into Evening by Steve Rasnic Tem 
  • Asking Price by S.P. Miskowski 
  • Author! Author?  by John Llewellyn Probert 
  • Meriwether by Michael Griffin 
  • The Entertainment Arrives by Alison Littlewood 
  • Premeditation by Marc Laidlaw 
  • A Perfect Replica by Damien Angelica Walters 
  • There, There by Gary McMahon 
  • We Pass from View by Matthew M. Bartlett 
  • Meeting the Master by Gary Fry 
  • Saints in Gold by Kristi DeMeester 
  • This Last Night in Sodom by Cody Goodfellow 
  • The Whither by Kaaron Warren 
  • Uncanny Valley by Jeffrey Thomas 
  • The Dublin Horror by Lynda E. Rucker 
  • The Sixth Floor by Thana Niveau 
  • The Carcass of the Lion by Christopher Slatsky 
  • The Granfalloon by Orrin Grey 
  • Little Black Lamb by Adam L G Nevill

When Joe Pulver first asked me to contribute to a Ramsey Campbell tribute anthology he would be editing with Scott Aniolowski, my reply was something like Try and stop me! Ramsey Campbell has been one of the most significant influences from the horror genre on my own writing, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to honor him in this way.

I first read Ramsey Campbell as a teenager—a copy of The Face That Must Die, the Scream Press edition with the JK Potter photographs and the harrowing essay by Ramsey about his childhood somehow made its way into our house in rural Georgia. (I have no idea how. Perhaps through some demonology on the part of Ramsey himself.) That was quite an introduction to his work. To be honest, at the time, I wasn’t sure what I thought about it. I’d never encountered anything like it. But a couple of years later, I’d started reading his stories in Year’s Best anthologies and picked up The Hungry Moon, a tale of ancient pagan evil and modern fundamentalism in a small English village, at my university library. I loved it.

Not long after that, I went to Ireland for a few months on a student work visa. I waited tables in a pub in Dublin, a dreadful yuppie establishment that used to be on Wicklow Street, thankfully now long gone and forgotten, and drank a lot of Guinness. I was pretty broke, and books were expensive in Ireland even then, so I relied on charity shops and my two flatmates to keep me in a steady supply of reading material. At one Oxfam shop near where I lived in Rathmines, Ramsey Campbell paperbacks started turning up, one or two a week. It became a kind of ritual, stopping in to see if whoever seemed to be working their way through Ramsey’s bibliography and then passing them more or less directly on to me had left me another. It was during this time that I fell well and truly in love with his work, his allusive and often intricate style, his descriptions of a world in which realities shifted in front of characters’ eyes, and his themes, including those of alienation and the oppressive nature of organized religion–two that I borrowed for my own story in this anthology. I remember how sad I was when I’d read all the novels he’d written up to that point, and there were no more new books coming in.

It was with all this in mind that I set out to write “The Dublin Horror.” I wanted my main character to be a 1980s teen goth girl—perhaps not so different from Amy of Ramsey’s 1998 novel Nazareth Hill, one of my favorites by him. I wanted her to discover a writer in the same way I’d fallen in love with Ramsey’s books, and as I once owned a copy of his Night of the Claw written as Jay Ramsey, in a moment of cheekiness I gave the writer the first name of Jay. After that it got cheekier—I won’t spoil my own story, but suffice it to say any resemblance to Ramsey Campbell, the writer and the person I have come to know a little over the years, ends there.

At its core, though, I wanted to tell a story that evoked the same sense of disorientation and isolation that so many of Ramsey’s stories have done for me. I set out to write something that felt, to me at least, Campbellesque, as filtered through my own style and preoccupations. I’m just so pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to this anthology and to pay my respects to a writer who has meant so much to me—not just as a writer, but as a reader. Like many of my colleagues, I wouldn’t be here in quite the same way without him.