Thursday 30 July 2020

The Deceived - Series Trailer - begins August 3rd

A Gothic thriller written by the creator of the comedy Derry Girls. This is an Irish tale of a haunted house, a doomed affair, and a heroine called Ophelia who is on the brink of madness...

Looks good to me.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning

Might be going a bit Gothic for the Christmas issue...

I really like Sam Dawson's castle, as if Dracula had got together with Mad King Ludwig over some renovations. I was going to use it for issue 44 but had some technical issues. My own unfamiliarity with the new Lulu interface was to blame, probably. 

Anyhow, what  do you think?

I like big castles and I cannot lie.

Sunday 19 July 2020

ST 44 in alternative ezine format

For those who don't use Amazon Kindle, you can also buy the latest issue here in EPUB format. See below for Kindle version of the zine.

ST 44 - ezine version now available

Supernatural Tales 44: Autumn 2020 by [Steve Duffy, James Machin, Sam Dawson Dawson, Victoria Day, Michael Kelly, Mark Patrick Lynch, Mathew F. Riley, Sam Dawson, David Longhorn]In this ever changing world in which we're living, as Sir Paul McCartney so memorably put it, some of us like to download ebooks. Or in this case, 'electronic magazines'. You can obtain the latest issue of ST for a modest fee for your Amazon Kindle. I also hope to make it available via other outlets in due course.

UK readers go here.

US readers go here.

Friday 17 July 2020

Issue 44 - First Paras

Supernatural Tales 44
Buy Supernatural Tales here

Parsons was sat back in the rickety chair—astonishing it could carry his weight—feet up, Marlboro reds on the table in front of him. Three empty beer bottles, a fourth bottle going, overflowing ashtray. Also, a bottle of the local rotgut, which he grabbed when he saw me, lining up a drink for both of us. Besides me and him, the only other person in that small, square space—perhaps the only other person awake in the village—was the raggedy kid who fetched the beer from the fridge hitched up to the generator out back. He was wiping down the bar. The bar was dual purpose. It had a urinal along the front so bodily functions needn’t interrupt drinking.

'Animals and Men' by James Machin

The steam room is warm, womblike, pulsing with clouds of comforting vapour that alternately hide and then reveal the little lights discreetly set into the ceiling, whose auroras illuminate the mists of tiny hot droplets that ease her muscles, soothe her skin and, with each heated intake of breath, help cleanse her lungs. Sharon stretches out full length on the tiled bench, enjoying to the full the luxury of being the only user. This is what she gets here so late for. To have the whole, delicious, tiled, glass-doored little space to herself. No leering men, no pushy superiors with their deliberately deniable double entendres, no bitchboss working her way up the ladder by digging her spike heels into the hands of the female colleagues holding onto the rung below.

'Steam' by Sam Dawson

Tuesday 14 July 2020

The Monkey's Paw Bloke

Image result for the monkey's pawIt's both a blessing and a curse to be well known for just one achievement in a long life of literary work. That is the case with Mary Shelley - Frankenstein is iconic, 'The Last Man' and 'The Mortal Immortal' are minor curiosities. The same can be said for William Wymark Jacobs, whose story 'The Monkey's Paw' is familiar to millions. But he wrote dozens of stories, many of them very good. Which brings me to an excellent essay on W.W. Jacobs, which can be read here.

The delightful title - 'The Mozart of the English Ghost Story' - certainly lays down a marker. And the author goes a long way to justify his high opinion of a writer much admired by Wodehouse, among others. As often happens, Jacobs moved between the comical and the Gothic, as was also the case with John Dickson Carr and of course M.R. James. Comedy and horror are closely allied.

'The Haunted Palace' by Edgar Allan Poe

Mob with flaming torches...

h/t Steve Duffy

Sunday 12 July 2020

Issue 44 - First Lines

'Animals and Men' by James Machin
Parsons was sat back in the rickety chair—astonishing it could carry his weight—feet up, Marlboro reds on the table in front of him.

'Steam' by Sam Dawson 
The steam room is warm, womblike, pulsing with clouds of comforting vapour that alternately hide and then reveal the little lights discreetly set into the ceiling, whose auroras illuminate the mists of tiny hot droplets that ease her muscles, soothe her skin and, with each heated intake of breath, help cleanse her lungs.

'Dr Hopkins’ Tale' or 'Mr Nicholas' by Victoria Day 
November had come to our small town of Plumston with its customary lack of mercy.

'Endless Halloween' by Michael Kelly 
Everything was dark.

'Ghost Stories' by Mark Patrick Lynch
I travel a lot.

'Low Tides' by Mathew F. Riley 
“Pass the cider, Steve, mate, there’s a good boy.”

'Report on the Death of a US Citizen' by Steve Duffy

"Gargoyle" - Ethel. Dark Tribal Fusion @ Fairytale Concert

"Don't look, Ethel!" takes on a whole new meaning. 

More of this sort of thing later - I find the whole subculture of modern belly dancing fascinating. And, after two months of lockdown I have the belly for it...

Thursday 9 July 2020

Issue 44 is almost ready for lift off

Supernatural Tales 44

It's taking a VERY long time for print-on-demand copies to arrive, so I'm trying to get ahead of the game. As you can see, the design is different. Sam Dawson - with typical cuddliness - has provided a splendid illo of a Covid-laden sewer, so how could I note use it?

Lulu, to be fair, did a great job of improving their interface once they had given me and probably thousands of other users near-embolisms by shutting everything down for several DAYS. Without warning. I think the actual quality of the zine has not declined, and the price is the same (more or less). Postal  rates should not be an issue for non-UK POD customers as it is being printed in your country, not mine. Higher postal rates to the US are playing merry hell with some small presses, but I don't anticipate trouble for ST.

Now, what of the contents?

So, there you have it. A novella by Steve Duffy, a seasonal short-short by Michael Kelly, and lots of good stuff in between. I think it's a damn good one, but I would say that. Soon you, gentle reader, will have the chance to find out just how much you agree (i.e. a lot). 

Stay tuned for terror! And so forth. 

Dracula Salad - Toothsome, Undead Veggies?

'An Aberdeenshire church can stake a claim to have been indirectly funded by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as it emerged that the world famous author’s wife raised funds to help renovate it with a cooking recipe inspired by the novel.'

Yes, but...


'Florence Balcombe contributed the recipe for the “Dracula Salad” to a pamphlet sold in aid of Cruden Parish Church shortly after her husband Bram Stoker died in 1912.'

The piece is also interesting because of the link drawn - quite reasonably - between Christian conceptions of Christ as blood sacrifice and the vampire taking life via blood and then 'converting' a victim. As a minor note, the late book dealer Ken Cowley based an entire story on this parallel - with a twist ending I will not reveal here. 'Dracula Reflects' - worth seeking out.

MORTAL English Subs Trailer (2020) Horror Fantasy

Wednesday 8 July 2020

The Door in the Wall by H G Wells. A rehearsed reading by R M Lloyd Parry

No apologies for sharing this again, as I think it's the best story of its kind in the language. HGW was unparalleled in his skill as a young-ish storyteller. Today he'd be writing for TV/movies and a gazillionaire, probably.

Van Morrison 'Into The Mystic'

From the 1971 album Moondance. I just like Van the Man, and I think we need more music and positive stuff here.

Saturday 4 July 2020

Betaal (Netflix Series)

Cor blimey, mate, it's the undead British Empire coming back to haunt us, so it is!

This excellent Indian series (four episodes, so an evening's watch if you get hooked) is a bit like a hybrid of Aliens and The Fog. With zombies. It is essentially, as I think the trailer makes clear, one of those concepts that is fairly simple but offers endless permutations. The result here is a blast, and I mean a blast of musket balls.

The time is the present, more or less. A crack squad of elite Indian commandos is sent to a remote hill region where terrorists (the Maoist Naxals) are supposedly hampering construction of a new road. When they arrive the Baaz Squad discover what appear to be ordinary villagers in the grip of an absurd superstition. The locals believe that if an old British tunnel abandoned during the Mutiny of 1857 is reopened large-scale awfulness will ensue. The authorities don't care about this nonsense of course, and proceed to evict the locals and reopen the tunnel. Extreme wackiness ensues, with a bucket of blood and a lot of screaming.

Ghost Story Ambience

"It was on just a night as this," said Farnsworth, "that I first met Andy Williams. No, not that Andy Williams, the other one. Who's story is this anyway? As I was saying, I was taking a rest-cure in Norfolk at the lodge on the estate of Lady Lily Savage - no, not hat one, stop interrupting..."

Friday 3 July 2020

CARMILLA Trailer (2020)

'Grave Goods' by Cardinal Cox

PictureI received a copy of this ebook from the publisher, Demain. As regular blog readers will know, I am a huge fan of the work of Cardinal Pete Cox, sometime laureate of Peterborough and delver into all things occult and eclectic. You can read an interview with the poet on the Demain site here. It offers some fascinating insights into how he lives and works, and confirms my view of the Cardinal as a bright light hidden under a huge bushel of cultural snobbery.

But enough imagery from me! What of the poems? Well, Grave Goods has its inhuman origins in that period when Cox was Poet in Residence of the Dracula Society. They wanted one poem for each issue of their quarterly journal. Just eight poems over two years, then. But...

'My time there coincided with things like Christopher Lee’s death and the theft of Murnau’s skull and suddenly I was swamped with inspiration. I had to get all these poems scribbled down in case the inspiration dried up. And as I wrote I realised various back-stories were emerging from the murk. There were a few ideas that came but another idea came along so quickly that it just never got used. That is where the ‘Fifty Pieces’ in Grave Goods came from.'

And what a fine collection it is. I think I have read a lot of these poems before in various self-produced pamphlets, but they still have a wonderful freshness. Any conceivable subject linked to the Gothic world of vampires and their creators seems to be covered. And that's a big world. And, inevitably, one thinks of contemporary events, as Cox is very good at nailing the contradictions in the way we (a category that includes me) want horror to be cosy and scary, sexy and safe, home and away...

ATARASHII GAKKO! - HANAKO (Official Music Video)

'Hanako of the Toilet' is a famous Japanese urban myth of a girl ghost that haunts... well, you can work it out for yourself.  (I th...