Monday, 12 January 2015

Daydreams and Nightmares - Introduction

It occurred to me that I should reproduce the introduction for my friend Kate Haynes' first collection of stories, published by Phantasm Press. So here it is, in all its profound and scholarly glory...

Katherine Haynes has been writing stories for many years. She claims that she's been publishing for thirty years, in fact, which suggests that she began in very early childhood, if not a previous incarnation.

As an editor and as a friend (the two are not mutually exclusive) I've long been impressed by Katherine's capacity for sheer hard work. All her fiction is distinguished by well-crafted prose, economical characterisation, and efficient plotting. Her best work is imbued with a cool, detached , slightly cynical view of human nature. This is particularly true of 'Encapsulated' (a disturbing 'science fantasy' of the sort pioneered by Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch) and 'Mother's Own Ghost Story', which has a deceptively innocuous title. 
In this collection, Katherine offers keen insights into our sometimes petty human concerns , and contrasts them with the threat -or, occasionally, the promise- of intervention by phenomena beyond our ken and control. And several contrasting stories also show how easily she slips between genres and styles. Thus 'The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick-Maker' offers a rather Grand Guignol view of life in contemporary Brighton, while 'The Cupped Hands' is a well-realised tribute to the great Arthur Machen. 
You will note that – in accordance with horror tradition - some characters seem to get what's coming to them. Yet sometimes a victim is just that and nothing more, as in 'The People Collector'. That, it seems, is life – or afterlife. But, while clear-sighted about human failings, Katherine's view of feline nature is a little fuzzier – see 'The Lure of the Copse'. And the plot of 'A Good Try' pivots on a classic work by that cat-lover, Monty James.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I have, gentle reader. Settle down, in the right surroundings, perhaps with a glass of something moderately potent to hand, and let them speak to you in their quiet but insistent voices. And – as shadows lengthen – bear in mind that, since they are fiction, nothing recounted in theses pages will happen to you. In all likelihood.

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