Ginger Nuts of Horror
It's time to show more love for the horror community at large. So here goes the first in a new set of posts that aims to highlight some of the websites and articles that I have enjoyed over the past week or so.
First of today's links is a an interview with Steve Byrne conducted by Mark West over at his Strange Tales website.
"The Travelling Theatrical Tour: From a Single Thing"
A gazillion thanks to Jim for inviting me onto his Ginger Nuts blog to celebrate the release of my novella Theatre of Curious Acts. Before we start, does anyone know where the biscuits are? Hey, who groaned at the back?
A Myriad of Ideas from a Single Thing…
Hello there. Hope you don’t mind me putting my feet up and making myself at home. I’ve not broken in. Jim McLeod gave me a key, so I am supposed to be here at GNOH Mansions. Call me the house-sitter (or the guest blogger). Stick the kettle on and I’ll introduce myself – or preferably, crack open something a bit stronger – and we’ll have a wee blether.
Okay, now we’re sitting comfortably – no, I’ll just drink straight out of the can, saves on washing up – I’ll say hello properly. My names Andy Kirby – or, if we’re being formal, A.J. Kirby – and I’m a horror and dark fiction author from Leeds, UK. I’m also a shameless publicist, so when Jim offered me the chance to guest on his excellent blog, I jumped at the opportunity.
But never fear, I’m not just here to give a sales pitch. That would be boring. No, when Jim invited me to write on this platform, he asked me to write about something I felt passionate about. And so I made a few suggestions. Things off the top of my head, from waaaay out in left-field, stuff about writing, and about horror, and a few things which can be loosely connected to my most recent release, the dark fiction creature-feature, Paint this town Red.
Today, I thought I’d talk, variously, about strange animals in outlandish locations – think
the wallabies in the Peak District and, I believe, on an island in the middle of Loch Lomond, or the lynx which is apparently stalking Halifax, or the Beast of Bodmin Moor – and also about how the rumour mill has changed dramatically with the rise of the internet. I also thought I’d share a few words about writing and publicity, and how to get your name out there as an author (especially as a small-press or self-published author) and finally, I thought I’d have a little bit of a moan about how writing has turned me fat, and what the hell I’m going to do about this terrifying realisation… And my challenge, such as it is, is to weave all of that into something coherent, whilst keeping up with you as we share a couple of drinks. So here goes.
Paint this town Red is my take on The Hound of the Baskervilles, or Jaws, I suppose. I wanted to write a fast-paced dark thriller which was packed with action and suspense. It’s perhaps my most out-there supernatural novel to date, which might be something of a risk, but I took a lot of care and attention in making the characters and settings as real as possible, and I think the existence of my big cat which haunts the small town in which the story is set, is plausible.
The novel is inspired by what I imagine are very common small-town rumours which I experienced in my small town – I’ll leave it unnamed, to preserve the air of mystery - when I was growing up. When I was about fifteen or sixteen, there was talk of a large feline – perhaps a lynx – which was stalking the nearby hills, picking off livestock. There were plenty of sightings, most of which were discredited, but some couldn’t simply be explained away by Mrs. Goggins’ black moggie being on the prowl.
One night, bunch of mates and I engineered a large and rather over-complicated lie which meant that each of our parents believed we were staying at one of the others’ houses. Instead we decided to go camping up in the hills surrounding the town. We got our hands on a few cans of underage liquor, stolen from unsuspecting dads and the like, and we packed up our sleeping bags and our tents and we set out to find the Black Panther, as it was becoming commonly known.
One of my mates in particular had done quite a lot of research into the panther and, as darkness crept in and we failed to get our fire going, he told us all he knew about the panther. The thing which really got the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end was what he said about how the panther breathed. He claimed you could hear it, a rasping, throaty sound, before it came for you.
Anyway, we passed the evening telling stories and jokes and drinking up our pilfered booze, and in the end we turned in for the night. I woke up freezing cold in the wee small hours, already alert. And it was then that I heard the exact same breathing which my mate had described hours earlier, coming from outside the tent. I’d love to have said that I ran out, camera in hand, and got the snap which scooped the local paper. But I didn’t. I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep, and prayed that if it was really the panther, it would go for one of my mates first instead of me.
The next morning, nobody else claimed to have heard the panther, and indeed, one of my mates was being mocked for snoring, so the rasping, throaty sound could have been him. Or then again, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe we really did have a close encounter with the black panther. Maybe we came this close.
I wanted to recreate the peculiar atmosphere which surrounded our town when these rumours were floating about. That weird sense of being hunted and of wanting to hunt it at the same time. That weird sense of belief and disbelief at the same time. And I also wanted to explore what would happen to such rumours in the internet age, when anybody can post a picture of a large footprint on Facebook, or Twitter, and can suddenly make a myth real, by word of mouth.
I like the way the animals become branded, how we give them names, how we pore over grainy mobile phone video imagery, squinting our eyes, trying to pick out what might, or might not be a big cat. And I like the fact that their presence, although liminal, is plausible. Exotic animals being turned loose in the British countryside isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. The big cats may have escaped private collections in stately homes. We’ve all heard the ones about the snakes (or crocs) in the sewer system or about tarantulas hitching rides inside hands of bananas, for example. We all know about the Beast of Bodmin Moor or about the Cat Beast of Calderdale. Urban Myths still capture our imagination even now, and there’s something very exciting about random animals escaping through our gridded, plotted, satellite navigated world, living on the edge. There’s a real sense of freedom about it, away from the constraints of the modern world. And I imagine everyone but farmers would agree…
In a way, authors who write for small, independent publishing houses or those who self-publish need to create their own myths about themselves. To create a narrative, something which gets a reader hooked. Because make no mistake about it, there’s a lot of competition out there. In order to be a success writers of this standing – me included – must set ourselves apart. Make ourselves a little more exciting than we actually are. Because in this way, we can set the word-of-mouth internet washing-line telegraph going and therefore gain new readers.
I admit it. I’ve found this self-perpetuating myth-making rather difficult in the past. Most of us do. Writing is a very introverted pursuit. But in the end of the day, if you want to be read, then you have to make sacrifices, reveal a little more of yourself than maybe you’d want to. Never has this been more true for me than last week, when I was invited to attend an event run by the British Fantasy Society at the Mug House pub, near London Bridge. I didn’t know anyone there, and, being a nervous type, I spent the first half-hour hiding away in a corner, trying manfully to avoid the eyes of everyone else in the room. But then two, three other attendees approached my table and asked whether I wouldn’t mind very much if they left a postcard promoting their books on my table. And, as I was a couple of pints to the good by this time, I started to think maybe I could do the same.
And so, steeling myself, and slipping a confident mask into place, I went out amongst the masses like a cat on the prowl, depositing postcards here, an anecdote there, and a web-link over by the bar. And everyone I approached was absolutely fine with me doing my promotion-thing. They said pretty much everyone does the same. And that, I suppose, was my most important take-away from the night (to use a crappy marketing term). Be brave. Bite that bullet. Don’t linger in the corner hoping someone will miraculously approach you and ask about your book. Tell them.
And keep telling them. For this new book, I’m trying a few new approaches to publicity. I’ve got the wind in my sails after the BFS evening, and, now the hangover’s calmed down and I’ve had my feet up on the coffee table here at GNOH Mansions, I’m ready to come out fighting for myself and my book. I’ve joined forums, I’ve begged for reviews, I’ve bitten the bullet and called up the local papers. And, happily, most people I’ve approached have been only too happy to help.
There’s only one problem. Suddenly people want high-res jpegs of yours truly. Or snaps of me holding a copy of the book, or pretending to hunt the Cat Beast of Calderdale with a pen (which is mightier than the sword). And suddenly I’ve realised what damage all those ‘networking’ nights and days snacking over the keyboard have done to my body. Suddenly, the Paint this town Red tee-shirts I ordered to wear at all times further to the release of the book won’t quite stretch over my bulk. Suddenly I’ve had to hammer in a new notch on my belt. And suddenly, I don’t really want my photo taken at all. Suddenly all I want to do is slink away into the liminal edges of the worldwide web and keep my head down all over again. I’ve stuck my head above the parapet, and suddenly I’ve noticed just how chubby my cheeks are.
So, if you don’t mind, I’ll now take my feet from the coffee table, and I’ll excuse myself. I’m off to the Yorkshire moors for a run. Who knows? I might come face to face with an Urban Myth made real. And the next thing I hear might be that the rasping, throaty sound, the Black Panther come back for me at the last, in revenge for my selling his story.
If you don’t hear from me again, send out the search parties.
A.J Kirby is the author of five novels; the creature-feature fiction Paint this town Red (Wild Wolf Publishing, 2012), the dark, techno thriller Perfect World (TWB Press, March 2011); Bully, a supernatural horror novel of revenge from beyond the grave (published by Wild Wolf Publishing in September 2009); the crime-thriller, The Magpie Trap, which has been published by Youwriteon.com and Legend Press through their UK Arts Council initiative (April 2009), and When Elephants walk through the Gorbals, which won third prize in the Luke Bitmead Memorial Bursary run by Legend Press in 2008 and has now been accepted for publication by Whiskey Creek Press. His published fiction also includes two volumes of collected short stories, Mix Tape, which was published by New Generation Publishing in 2009, and The Art of Ventriloquism, a crime fiction anthology which is due to be published by Solstice Publishing in 2012. He has also written the novella Call of the Sea, which was published from November 2009 in serial form, The Black Book, released in September 2011 by TWB Press as a limited edition novelette, and Bed Peace (White House Publications, 2011).
Andy’s prize-winning short stories have featured in a wide number of publications, including anthologies (Legend Press's Eight Rooms, and Ten Journeys, Nemonymous 8: Cone Zero & Nemonymous 9: Cern Zoo from Megazanthus Press, Radgepacket 4 from Byker Books, the Dog Horn Publishing anthology, Dark Hoard 2010, the ‘Where are we going?’ anthology from Eibonvale Press, and Graveside Tales' Fried: Fast Food Slow Deaths) print journals (Sein und Werden, Jupiter 24, Skrev Press, and Champagne Shivers) and webzines (Blank Pages, New Voices in Fiction, A Fly in Amber, Pumpkin, The Second Hand, Pages of Stories magazine, US Short Story Library, and Underground).
Award recognition has come from Huddersfield Literature Festival, Ilkley Literature Festival, Mere Literary Festival, the H.E Bates Short Story Competition, and in writing competitions run by Cinnamon Press and People in Action. He received an honourable mention in the worldwide Best Horror of the Year 2008/9, judged by the esteemed editor, Ellen Datlow and in 2011, he was the winner of the Big Issue in the North’s genre fiction award, been shortlisted for the Paperbooks ‘Tale of Two Halves’ competition and awarded runner-up in the Dog Horn Publishing Fiction Prize.
Andy lives in Leeds, UK with his girlfriend Heidi and his incredibly noisy, but lucky cat, Eric. He started writing after losing out in a game show hosted by Les Dennis.
To find out more, visit Andy's website: www.andykirbythewriter.20m.com.
Dedicated Paint this town Red wordpress blog
Amazon Author Page
New York Journal of Books
Facebook Novel Home Page
In the run up to the release of this new collection from Kenneth W. Cain, Ginger Nuts of Horror will be posting a couple of articles to support the launch. Starting with press release for it. Over the next week, please stay tuned for an great interview with Kenneth, and a guest post from the man himself.
Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will be well aware of my undying love for John's writing. Those of you who aren't regular readers, have a scroll through the archives, and witness for yourself the brilliance of that is JLP. So when Gray Friar Press announced the release of this book, I was right there at the front of the queue for this book.
A man sits in a hospital side room awaiting the cancer surgery that may or may not save his life. As the minutes tick by, time slows and gradually becomes meaningless as he finds himself drawn into memories of his past. But something is wrong. Rather than real memories, what he finds himself remembering are events subtly altered and influenced by his lifelong love of fantasy, horror and science fiction. And through these memories, something is pursuing him.
John Llewellyn Probert’s novella is a tale of magic realism that provides a fascinating and moving insight into the mind of a fantasy fan whose lifelong love of the genre turns out to be more important than he had ever realised.
Hello folks. Hopefully you the readers as well as those authors whose books I review find my reviews interesting.
So can I please ask a favour of you all.
Authors, if you like the review, could you please remind me if I haven't cross posted it to Amazon and Goodreads. Unlike some review sites, who think doing this is a bad idea as it draws traffic away from the review site. I personally think that, since the aim of this website is to promote authors, the more outlets that my reviews have, the greater the chance my review will help to sell a book.
Secondly, and this is for both the reader and the writers featured here. Could you please go to the review and click the "was this review helpful?" button. By doing this you help to increase the visibility of my reviews and standing as an Amazon reviewer. Which in turns will add more weight to my reviews of your books, as Amazon will put a "Top Reviewer" badge next to my reviews.
Great news, The Screaming Book of Horror is now available as a paperback. Featuring stories from such fine talent as Robin Ince, Charlie Higson, Craig Herbertson, and Alison Littlewood.
This anthology will hopefully remind you of a time when horror books didn’t try to be overly literary or snobbish or superior in tone. The tales inside will take you back to when your stomach took the occasional lurch. Stories that might be found by a teenager fifty years down the line when he or she discovers the book in a relative’s bookcase, or whatever passes for a second hand bookshop in the future, and give them the fire in their belly to try their hand at writing a horror story. This is a horror anthology in the tradition of the anthologies we all grew up with.
“David James Keaton by his own confession has a problem with authority. You might say he has a hard-on for cops, a hard-on of the nightstick variety he brandishes with abandon, gleefully bashing clichés with his own savvy brand of literary mayhem. InFISH BITES COP! Keaton goes Dirty Harry on the cop shop of conventional crime fiction. Heads roll, donuts get gored. It’s so good it should be illegal.”
—Randy Chandler, author of Dime Detective and Bad Juju
Fish Bites Cop! Stories To Bash Authorities is a collection of horror, dark crime, pulp, and slipstream lampoonery that gleefully rips on police officers, security guards, organized religion, firefighters, police officers, bounty hunters, paramedics, police officers, military, middle management, and even more police officers. Bad cop movies are usually just bad cop movies. It's time they paid for it.
Inside you'll find dyslexic paramedics with dog complexes. Reality TV after the apocalypse. A young couple followed by a cop, follows him right back, the follows him some more. Three stories with umlauts in their titles. A cat program at a prison gone horribly wrong. The case against Tasers. The case for squirt guns. The case against bad hand acting. Hands missing thumbs. Hands slipping cuffs. Hands with birth defects that resemble the Loch Ness Monster but kick ass making shadow animals. A bad father and even worse boyfriend hits the reset button on his life until he really gets it wrong. A buddy-cop movie as a Shakespearean play. A guy named "Heck" who discovers Hell. Snipping plastic testicles off pick-up trucks. Cowboys so drunk they catch on fire. A horse that won't die. A ball pit full of spiders (preferable to children). A clam-digging competition between brothers that turns deadly. The disappearance of the bees finally revealed. And ten cops killed for a goldfish cracker. Or nine. A trunk full of surprises guaranteed.
READ MY INTERVIEW WITH DAVID HERE
This is probably the greatest horror film news of the year. The Scream Factory have just announced that Clive Barkers Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut is to finally see a home DVD release. This version will see the running time of the film increased from 102 minutes to almost a full 150 minutes.
I don't know about you but this news has made me a very happy man indeed. Those of you too young to remember, Nightbreed has always been a fan favourite. The story involves the plight of Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer), a young man tormented by visions of monstrous, graveyard-dwelling creatures. Seeking the aid of his clinically cold therapist Dr. Decker (played by Canadian horror auteur David Cronenberg) in deciphering his nightmares, Boone becomes convinced that his frequent blackouts are linked to a recent spate of mutilation murders in the area. His frantic search for the truth leads him to the subterranean city of Midian, the dwelling place of a mythical race of undead nocturnal monsters known as the "Nightbreed." But it is only after he is cornered and shot dead by police that Boone's real journey begins -- he finds himself resurrected as one of the Breed.
Nicholas Burman -Vince, the man who played Kinski in the film, had this to me this morning
It's great news about The Cabal Cut being released on DVD in 2014. This goes to show the power of all those people who signed the petition organised by Occupy Midian. I'm sure all those who supported the project by attending screenings of early cuts, will enjoy the fruition of their support when they see the DVD. Lots of people made this happen, but special thanks to Russell Cherrington and Mark Miller for driving this forward. Most importantly, congratulations to Clive Barker. He must be very, very pleased.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE DETAILS AS AND WHEN THEY ARE RELEASED
On the frozen side of Mount Barmatia, something is stalking the dreams of Dr. Mackenzie Skillman and a team of scientists, as they try to dissect and analyze a newly discovered breed of humanoid. Can they survive long enough to find its origins, or will a strange psychic siege lead them all to their deaths?
“With FROZEN Rachelle Bronson brings 21st century storytelling mojo to a classic-style weird science tale of horror and adventure. Delicious!”
– Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of EXTINCTION MACHINE and V-WARS.
“FROZEN is a chilling story of harrowing suspense and twisting surprises. Bronson is an author to keep an eye on.”
– Kane Gilmour, author of RESURRECT and co-author of RAGNAROK