I have not worked out whether I am a day late or 1,000 years too early for this party.
I have not worked out whether I am a day late or 1,000 years too early for this party.
Hello again, Berlin.
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.
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.
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, is out now from PS Publishing, with cover art by the great JK Potter.
Here’s the glorious lineup:
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.
I’ve read all the reports about how white nationalists came from all over America to the “Unite the Right” rally. I’ve heard the claims that not all these people are Southerners. And it is absolutely true that racism is confined neither to the South nor to the whole of America. The sickness of racism infects people worldwide.
But we cannot ignore the fact that these people — wherever they are from — chose our region and the symbols of the Confederacy as the place to take their stand. Therefore, it’s up to us to root them out. As for me, I find myself inextricably drawn to a simple idea: that the time for the benevolent but silent white Southerner is over.
If you’re a white person—a white Southerner in particular—I suggest you go and read this entire piece linked above. I’ll wait.
Back? Okay then.
I’m a white Southerner. I have a profound love for the region where I was born and raised, but it is a complicated love, and I do not love and have always loathed many things about it. I do not think black Southerners–or black people from anywhere–should have to live and work and go to school in places named for and next to monuments dedicated to men who fought for their enslavement. This does not seem to me to be a particularly radical position to take. This seems to me to be a fairly basic exercise in empathy, but apparently that is not the case.
It is long, long, long past time that white Southerners moved past their romantic narrative of the Lost Cause and joined the rest of the world in the 21st century, which I still hope can be one of peace and cooperation and not increased division. A lot of white Southerners think that it’s wrong to even talk about these things, that in doing so we sow the seeds of discord, we spread “hate” and disunity and hurt feelings, as though non-white Southerners haven’t had to paper over those feelings for a couple of centuries–lest they be, you know, murdered. A lot of white Southerners think we shouldn’t even talk about “black” and “white” because that just needlessly divides us, too.
If you are white, and you think that, or that people should just “move on” from this, consider that maybe—just maybe—yours is not the voice that matters the most in this conversation. If you have black friends and you assume that they agree with you, consider that this might be a conversation that they are not even comfortable having with you.
If you are a white Southerner, maybe stop assuming that everything is about you, is an attack on you, or requires your input, and just take some time to listen.
And then, when it matters, speak up, because black folks can’t do all this themselves. As white Southerners, we can’t do anything about the dreadful past, but we can help change the future. As The Bitter Southerner says, “the time for the benevolent but silent white Southerner is over.” It’s actually been over for a very long freaking time, but if not now, then when?
I’ve been traveling around a bit this year and having some adventures and I am trying to force myself to start putting things here on the blog rather than on Facebook, although so far that has (clearly) not been successful, but I’m going to put some travel stuff up soon. In the meantime, here are some things by me that have come out that you can buy!
First up, OUTSIDE is a comic anthology edited by Amir Naaman and Doron Hamburger, produced/designed by Ash Pure, and containing stories and art by loads of talented people including Maura McHugh, Joe Pulver, Joe Lansdale, John Shirley, Diamanda Galas, Chesya Burke, Daniele Serra and more! Including a story written by Sean Hogan and me and illustrated by Australian artist Matthew Dunn. It’s really gorgeous, and it’s published by TOPICS Berlin, and I am in Berlin right now, which meant that I was able to be at a most excellent launch of the book here in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m a lifelong comics fan, but I’ve never written a comic before, so working in a new medium was fun and challenging. I believe this is my first-ever collaboration as well. Finally, seeing Matthew Dunn’s art bring our story to life was very cool.
Next up, two books from PS Publishing! Best New Horror #27, edited by Stephen Jones, contains my story “The Seventh Wave,” which originally appeared in Terror Tales of the Ocean, edited by Paul Finch, and loads of other excellent writers. Now available for pre-order and out soon from PS as well is We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale, edited by Neil Snowdon and including my essay “On Wishing For a Nigel Kneale Childhood.” Neil’s assembled an amazing lineup of writers for the book and shepherded it through some very troubled waters to bring it out at last.
Gothic Lovecraft is edited by Lynne Jamneck and S.T. Joshi and includes my story “The Unknown Chambers” along with stories by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nancy Kilpatrick, John Shirley and many more!
And, as ever, there is a new Black Static out, packed with all the usual great fiction and nonfiction including my column, “Notes from the Borderlands.”
First, there is a lovely review of my second collection, You’ll Know When You Get There, at the site “See the Elephant,” written by Paul St.John Macintosh. You can, of course, purchase You’ll Know When You Get There from its publisher, Swan River Press.
Second, my Shirley-Jackson Award-winning story, “The Dying Season,” has been reprinted at Nightmare Magazine, where you can read it for free. I strongly suggest that if you like the story, you should buy the anthology it appears in, Aickman’s Heirs, which also won the Shirley Jackson and is one of the best anthologies I’ve read. (It’s available on Kindle as well.) Oh! And there is also an interview with me, largely about the story, at the same site.
Third, the writer David Surface has written a lovely piece on his blog feature, “One Great Story,” about one of my early published stories, “These Things We Have Always Known.”
Fourth, I’ve written a couple of pieces about other writers for Women in Horror month. Check out the list of recommendations at Mark West’s Women in Horror mixtape, and over at the Ginger Nuts of Horror, Jim Mcleod asked me to write about a woman horror writer who’d influenced me in the past and also a newer one that I would recommend.