Tuesday 30 November 2010

The Hex

'Casting the Runes' must be MR James most influential ghost story. It's been adapted from almost any medium you'd care to mention. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a musical out there:

'These letters are quite runic
They're not Latin or Punic'

And who could forget the showstopping:

'I was shaking like a willow
When I felt that mouth under my pillow'

None of which is relevant top 'The Hex', a BBC radio play you can listen to at the excellent Zombie Astronaut site. It's conventional enough, but a well-paced and enjoyable adaptation. It would, I think, have made a good TV play.

Monday 29 November 2010

Fan Mail

A message from Daniel Mills:

Hi David,

I finished reading through the latest Supernatural Tales over the long weekend and wanted to pass along my thoughts, such as they are, along with my pick for best in issue.

What first struck me about this issue was the diversity in tone and style among the stories included: from the weird (“What Remains of Silence”) to the horrific (“Bracken Row”); from the apocalyptic (“The Light Wraith”) to the haunting (“The Face that Looks Back at You”).

The latter (Michael Kelly’s “The Face That Looks Back at You”) was for me a definite highlight, truly disarming in the best possible sense of the word: so spare and poetic, infused with all the chill and melancholy of the winter months but also with something of their cold beauty. Michael Chislett’s “The Light Wraith” was also excellent -- as a migraine sufferer, I don’t think there is anything in the realm of supernatural horror that can compare with the dreadful portent of the migraine aura.

But my favorite was Sam Dawson’s “Body of Work.” I found this tale absolutely superb: truly chilling, imbued with a terrific sense of place and rich with insight into the horrors of the past. I look forward to seeing more of Mr. Dawson’s work in print but for now will cast my vote for “Body of Work” as best in issue.

Finally—and to answer the question posed at the beginning of the issue—I would love to see a future issue of ST with 2 or 3 novella-length stories (rather than the usual mix of shorter tales). After all, just think how many of the true classics in the genre exist in the 10-25,000 word range. In the event that other readers agree, would there be an open call for long-form queries or submissions?

All the best,

Saturday 27 November 2010

Zombie Astronaut

Here's an excellent resource for radio shows from a true lover of the genre. Lots of spooky stuff, plus sci-fi and horror. When a post listing includes 'Burgess Meredith Reads Ray Bradbury' you know you're dealing with prime cuts of sonic pleasure.

Friday 26 November 2010

Vampires on Radio 4

A Night With A Vampire is this week's series of readings on A Book At Bedtime. They can be heard on iPlayer here. Among them is Maupassant's classic 'The Horla' (a borderline vampire) and 'Louella Miller', a favourite American tale.

It is an odd and sad coincidence that Ingrid Pitt should have died this week.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Listen With Nunkie

A DVD of Robert Lloyd-Parry reading two of MR James' best-known stories is now available to buy with real money, not jellybeans, buttons or something indescribable you found in a kitchen drawer. Mosey on over to the old website and purchase your copy now, or be forever cast into the outer darkness. Something like that, anyway.

Monday 22 November 2010

Two Stories In

Shadows and Tall Trees #1 is looking good. Admittedly I was surprised to find a Canadian magazine lead with a Joel Lane story. 'The Crow's Nest' is a piece of miserabilist horror by any standard, but so well-crafted and moving that even someone who didn't instantly recognise the setting and characters it would be impressed. That's followed by something even stranger, Adam Golaski's 'Stone Head'. This really does feature a colossal stone head, among other things, and works by a kind of dream-logic that makes you wonder whether the narrator is insane, or perhaps it's just reality that's always been bonkers and the author has noticed this. I may have more to say about all this. I'm a bit concussed at the moment. But also impressed.

Friday 19 November 2010

Shadows and Tall Trees


A new publication from Canada! I've got my copy. Why not get yourself one, instead of trying to read over my shoulder via the interwebs, you young scamp? It's jam-packed with fine writing by leading exponents of proper storytelling that means something and doesn't just insult your intelligence and indeed your very humanity with gratuitous rote-described gore and a lame-ass twist ending.

Monday 8 November 2010

Write a Ghost Story, win radio fame in Rutland

Courtesy of Cardinal Cox comes this news: while the Stamford Festival of Ghosts is over, the ghost story competition runs until early December. Adult entries are limited to 1,500 words, so I'm guessing Algernon Blackwood's got no chance.

Deadline for submissions: Friday 10 December 2010
Judging Panel
Sarah Waters, Author
Nicholas Rudd-Jones, Editor of Stamford Living Magazine
Mark Crick, Creative Consultant for the Stamford Festival of Ghosts
Karen Burrows, Stamford Arts Centre

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Write a Ghost Story, win something or other

The Daily Telegraph, which is a national UK newspaper for non-British ST fans, is running a proper ghost story writing competition. Susan Hill is judging it. Here are some factoids:

* The winner will have his or her story published and illustrated in The Daily Telegraph Saturday Review, and will receive a unique specially bound copy ofThe Small Hand by Susan Hill.
* All entries must be 2,000 words or fewer, and the deadline for entries is November 20. A shortlist of six stories will then be selected and published on telegraph.co.uk on December 4, and the winning story will be published in The Daily Telegraph on December 11.
* Please post your 2,000-word story to Lorna Bradbury at The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. The envelope should clearly be marked “Ghost Story Competition”. Alternatively entries can be emailed to lorna.bradbury@telegraph.co.uk. Please paste your story into the body of the email, and clearly mark your email “Ghost Story Competition” in the subject line.

Monday 1 November 2010

Weird Winter Tales

Cardinal Cox has sent me another pamphlet of his poems - and again, a Lovecraftian theme, which is always welcome. What's more, he's produced a tribute to Wells' story 'The Sea Raiders', the original tentacled menace tale of terror. It's a fascinating and wide-ranging little collection, beginning and ending with poems about Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines. In between I learned about the Formorii (aka Fomorians) an aquatic people from Irish mythology, and the Wild Man of Orford.

The actual pamphlet is published for the below event, snipped from Ansible. Couldn't find anything on the library website listed. But it looks good - the film is excellent and of course you get a free pamphlet of poems that confront you with the unspeakable horrors of the briny abyss. That's a good day out by any standard.

4 Dec • Weird Winter Tales (H.P. Lovecraft event), Reading Central Library, noon-6pm. £3 (members £2). With Call of Cthulhu showing. Note corrected date. Contact info at readinglibraries org uk.

Supernatural Tales 56 - contents

The next issue - due out in the autumn - will see a mixture of familiar names and some newbies. I hope, as always, that the stories find fav...