Get ready to stay up late! Respectable Horror is out in the wilds and ready to be lured to your home. Ms Poppy LaMorte (our cover model designed by S. L. Johnson) will lead the way to a spectral crew of authors who are just dying to give you spine-tingling chills. This new collection offers names both familiar and new, writers who believe that it’s possible to terrify without more than a few drops of blood. The wind in the trees, the creak in the floor board, an innocent knock on the door: they’ll all take on a more sinister cast as you turn the pages of this book.
Introduction by K. A. Laity
The Estate of Edward Moorehouse by Ian Burdon
The Feet on the Roof by Anjana Basu
Spooky Girl by Maura McHugh
Recovery by H. V. Chao
The Holy Hour by C. A. Yates
Malefactor by Alan C. Moore
A Splash of Crimson by Catherine Lundoff
In These Rooms by Jonathan Oliver
A Framework by Richard Farren Barber
Running a Few Errands by Su Haddrell
Miss Metcalfe by Ivan Kershner
The Little Beast by Octavia Cade
The Well Wisher by Matthew Pegg
Where Daemons Don’t Tread by Suzanne J. Willis
Full Tote Gods by D. C. White
Those Who Can’t by Rosalind Mosis
The Astartic Arcanum by Carol Borden
Do serial killers, glistening viscera, oceans of gore and sadistic twists make you yawn behind a polite hand? Are you looking for something a little more interesting than a body count? These are tales that astonish and horrify, bring shivers and leave you breathless. You may be too terrified to find out what happens next – but you won’t be able to resist turning the page. We’ll make you keep the lights on. For a very long time.
BUY AMAZON IN (coming soon)
On January 1st of this year I vowed to have a Happy No Year: a chance to reassess how I ought best to spend my time. It was hard. The better part of my academic life has been saying yes to as many things as possible to get a job, a better one and then tenure.
Now tenure may no longer matter (but that’s another post or ten).
I learned a lot in saying no. I’m still learning. I said yes to things I truly wanted to do. Of course I didn’t know that a few days later the death of David Bowie would set off a year long farewell to so many icons that signal a kind of sea change that we’ve all been feeling.
All the post-apocalyptic narratives that have been pouring out of creators in recent years? Our subconscious knew what we refused to see — what my friend Byron has been repeating Cassandra-like to us all: Tower Times.
While we’re all reeling from the shock of blow after blow upon very bruised flesh, life goes on. You need to mourn, you need to recover, but you also have to decide what’s next. For me that’s plotting ways to embody radical hope in my work and in my teaching.
I am trying to remember to be generous, too: although I am fiercely protective of my time (a most precious commodity) it’s important to spend it wholeheartedly where it will do the most good. The system that surrounds us tries to make us believe we’re in a zero sum game: that’s why people trash the things you like in order to praise the things they like, as if both cannot be true.
You’ve been lied to: it’s not a zero sum game.
While the old guard are doubling down on fossil fuels renewable energy is at last growing quickly. While industrialists poison our food chain, local food has become a movement. And against the Puritan desire to make people work however useless the labour, the concept of basic income has gained ground.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s still a need to fight against every venal retrograde plutocrat and would-be oligarch in the festering rot of neoliberalism. I will also embody ‘Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.’
And it wasn’t all NO: I got the draft of Hire Idiots down, which I’ll be sharing with folks in January. Respectable Horror should be out shortly, as well as a few other things, including a crime novella. I was in an Anthony-award nominated anthology and in an Anthony-award winning anthology. I have a fantastic story that was only available to supporters of the Cultural Gutter (which may become a script because it was just so fun). And here are other things what I did:
HOW TO BE DULL by Basil Morley
All my columns as History Witch
“Elf Prefix.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. You Left Your Biscuit. Fox Spirit: Dec 2016.
“The Oven.” Short story as Graham Wynd. Spelk Magazine, 27 Jul 2016.
“Songs of Defiance (for William Blake).” Poem (reprint). Do Something: Hope Not Hate. Factor Fiction, Jul 2016: 26-27.
“The Cabal.” Short story as Graham Wynd. Pulp Metal Magazine, 21 Jun 2016.
“Deliberately Lost SF Classics.” Humour. Short Humour Site: 14 May 2016.
“Nenn’ mich nicht Liebling.” Short story as Graham Wynd. Pulpcore: Horror und Crime Anthologie, May 2016.
“Hope.” Poem. Short Humour Site: 26 Apr 2016.
“Fur Baby.” Short story. Spelk Magazine, 15 Apr 2016.
“The State of the Church of Bowie in 2525.” Pulp Metal Magazine: 13 Jan 2016.
“Subtle Hues: Character and Race in Dorothy B. Hughes’ The Expendable Man.” TEXT Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, v20 n2, Oct 2016.
“The Sound of Magic.” Sounding Out: The Sound Studies Blog, 54 (May 2016).
‘Chaucer and the Art of the Grift‘ and ‘Are you tweeting this?’: Best Practices and Possible Guidelines for Social Media in the Academy – A Round Table Discussion. International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 4-7 July 2016.
‘The Sound of Magic.’ Digital Britain: New Approaches to the Early Middle Ages, Harvard University, 25-6 March 2016.
So, the list feels a little thin to me only because I’m still getting used to dividing my time. Oh, the luxury of those two years of idleness. I must get more time off [plots].
Happy New Year, folks. May you feel recharged.
Hey, I’m a guest host over at the #FolkloreThursday twitter account today from 5pm-6:30pm UK/noon-1:30pm US eastern time. I’ll be seeking out stories to share with everyone and asking questions about the lore out there. Join us!
Also, today only you can get the third Hecate Sidlaw adventure for FREE! Hard-Boiled Witch: Charms O’erthrown spins a little yarn about alchemy, an ancient artifact and the wonders of your local library (well, the Dundee Library is kind of special).
Check it out what the reviews say & get a copy here.
And happy birthday to my muse, Peter Cook.
Bob Dylan: Nobel Prize Winner — bet you didn’t have a fiver on him. Nine years ago I had this tale published in the tiny lit journal Ephemera. Did anyone notice it was a bunch of Dylan lyrics somewhat altered mashed up with a little Marlowe? No, probably not. But it amused me. I have not read it now as I think it might be painful. But you can read it.
Tangled Up in Some Sort of Cerulean Hue
She was a beauty, all auburn curls, doe eyes, and hippie garments. But I think it was chiefly the eyes, moist and beseeching, that made me forget my usual caution and help her out of that sticky situation, but—like the man said—I guess I used a little too much energy to do so. What is it with some women? They cling to whatever wind blows the most hot air. She was with a jerk, I applied a little leverage and next thing I know, she was stuck on me. Not just stuck—glued, applied, corkscrewed into my entrails—she showed no signs of budging. Which was why I found myself standing in that solitary grove with books of Albanus and Bacon and a big old Latin bible that I could sort of read, inside a chalk circle, ready for conjuring.
Bobby swore it would work. I guess I should have considered the logic of that assumption, but I was too busy daydreaming of life post-hoc. I was an idiot. Gravity is the destiny of us all. Suckers.
The borderline separating my circle from the mundane should have been safe. Well, for that matter, the charm itself should have produced rather different results. I guess that’s where better reading knowledge of Latin would have helped, but it was never so easy for me. There were so many distractions: crickets rhymed shrieks back and forth while the trees’ limbs guffawed an obscene parody of their song. The stupid wind kept blowing the pages back and forth. For all I know, now that I think on it, I managed to conjure two different rituals into one.
I really just wanted to peel off that persistent drag. She was nice enough at first, but I never did take to the clingy types. As the sun descended like a slippery egg yolk down the cobalt sky, I was already picturing my new life, free from the eternal bondage—eternal since Tuesday—of that woman who wanted to keep hold of my shoelaces and drag along behind my sorry carcass for an apparently indefinite period. I knew I was in trouble when she fluttered those too long lashes at me and murmured in my ear how happy she was. I didn’t even blink, but I knew I had to start planning right then.
It only took a few days to assemble the necessary materials. Thank the gods for the internet, which I mean to say, thank science—or technology or whatever. I don’t know how it’s done. It might was well be magic. But I found local shops with the needed ingredients—even dog tongue, which turned out to be some kind of herb. That was a relief. I might be able to hurt a woman, but never a dog! Damn, they’re innocent creatures. Not that I meant to hurt her, just kind of discourage her, turn her off. Give her something else to worry about and let me go. Now she’s just going to think I pissed off and left her. I guess that would be irony.
It seemed so perfect. I felt like some medieval Merlin, necromantic books before me, the world under m spell. Bobby said he’d had such successes with his chanting and such. Surely it would work just as well for me. It’s all in the book. Why would it matter who said it? Yeah, sure, I know what you’re thinking—pronunciation. Yeah, maybe—then again, maybe it was the wind and those pages. The back pages of the book were pretty thin and the wind kept blowing like it had it in for me from the start. It wasn’t possible to tell at first whether it worked or not. It’s not like I would have seen her disappear like some cloud of smoke. There was no clap of thunder or buckets of rain descending. But it wasn’t too long before I knew that I had got my signals crossed and all was not well. Beware of Latin—dead languages don’t care who they screw.
From the indigo darkness, something hit me from below. Never did see what it was—some creature lacking shape or natural order—but its impact was immediate and bruising. Knocked me clean out after seeing stars that were not part of the navy canvas of the night sky. Gone, over and out, no balls, no strikes, just error—good night, nurse.
I woke up on the side of the grove, flies droning around my head. I knew something was wrong because the sound made me hungry. Everything looked a lot bigger and before I could give myself a stern talking to, I was beginning to realize that things were worse than mere failure. So here I am, stuck. In my present state I can’t even touch the books I read. What’s the likelihood anyone will stumble across them and read just the right spell? What’re the odds that anyone will listen to me in present state? What I wouldn’t give for her to be so determined to find me that she comes out here, calling “Jimmy, Jimmy,” and recognizing me and restoring me back to what I was. I wouldn’t even leave her then, no, I’d be an honorable man after that. Really, you have to believe me. If you see her, you know, maybe if she hasn’t gotten over me, hasn’t begun to curse my name and all my sex, well, maybe give her some hope. She might be living there in my cruddy old apartment, thinking I forgot all about her. It’s not true. She’s all I think about now—well, her and the damn crickets. They turn out to be pretty tasty. But if you see her, you can tell her that now. I’d love to have her come find me. I want her to want me. I want to be me again, even with her hanging on me all the time. Hell, I’d welcome it. Tell her.
And if you see a toad, say hello. It might be me.
I head out today to fly to Venice, where Renato Bratkovič will meet me to drive me to Slovenia for the Alibi Crime Conference where I will be one of the featured writers. I’m really looking forward to it: I’ve never been to Venice or to Slovenia so that’s exciting. Everyone seemed to have a grand time at the first conference last year. I’m sure I will post pictures or commentary as I go along though perhaps not as much as usual. Check my Twitter feed (which appears in the right hand column of this blog) or Facebook if you’re there. Of course I’ll write up my adventures when I return. Maybe I’ll run into a certain Venetian Lion…
I’m very happy to see HOW TO BE DULL getting out there in the world. It’s the antidote to our too ‘interesting’ times. Thanks Beverly Bambury for sharing the photo (and check out her publicity business!