Tag Archives: Anthology

Respectable Horror: Matthew Pegg

MR James Ghost StoriesHaunted Objects.

Sometimes it can be quite hard to put your finger on exactly where a story came from or what inspired it, because so much of writing happens in the subconscious. I usually start out with a snippet of a plot, or a character or an idea, but once I start writing other things accrue and attach themselves to it; events occur that I wasn’t expecting, characters pop up and demand to take part, the story takes on a life of its own.

But I can put my finger on some of the influences on The Well Wisher.

I’ve always liked classic horror and ghost stories, ever since reading my grandparent’s copy of A Century of Thrillers: From Poe to Arlen, which sat on their small and only bookshelf, along with The Passionate Witch by Thorne Smith. (I’ve still got the book and the bookshelf.) A Century of Thrillers is a chunky volume, published by The Daily Express newspaper in the 1930s. Its a great collection of classic tales and well worth tracking down.

I wanted to write a story in that vein and thought it would be interesting to write about a haunted object. M.R. James’s The Mezzotint, A Candle in Her Room, (a terrifying children’s book by Ruth M. Arthur,) and Stephen King’s Christine all tackle this concept in quite different ways.

James’s haunted engraving replays a horrific incident from the past but doesn’t offer any real threat to its observers. You could argue that the true horror of the tale lies in the fact that the protagonist is powerless to influence the events he sees slowly unfolding in the picture.

In A Candle in Her Room the wooden doll Dido exerts a malign influence over three generations of the same family. It is the way that possession of the doll changes its owner that is frightening.

The Witch DollChristine, the 1950s Plymouth Fury, is the most concrete haunted object of the three, quite capable of killing you on its own. But like Dido, possession of Christine changes its owner. I like the way King turns the classic 1950s car, a symbol of the American Dream, into something evil. I also like the detail, missing from the film, that Christine’s milometer runs backwards: the more you drive it the newer the car gets. When thugs trash the car, owner Arnie pushes it round the block all night, putting his back out in the process, until the car repairs itself. There’s something satisfying about the physicality of that action.

I had a feeling that if you’re going to write about a haunted object then it should be a functional object, and if its normal function can become threatening in some way then that seemed to me to be satisfyingly neat. Of the three examples of haunted objects above, I think only in Christine do you get a sense of what has caused an inanimate object to turn nasty: Christine has been created by the human hatred of its previous owner, rather than any supernatural force. So its progenitors are Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde rather than Dracula: we create the monster and we become the monster, rather than the monster being a threat from elsewhere.

I like structure in stories. I find it satisfying when things have some kind of internal logic. So I wanted to know why my haunted object behaved the way it did. And that ‘why’ had to also be something to do with it’s function. That was what I was trying to achieve and I hope it works.

I’m being a bit coy about revealing too much about The Well Wisher because I hope you’ll read it and I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Miss Andrews, the central character, evolved all on her own to become a troubled, clever, kind, brave, flawed person. And I can’t claim to have planned any of that, it just happened. I do know that one influence on her was Jane Eyre. I’d recently seen a theatre version of the story and it was rattling round in my brain, especially Jane’s orphan status and poverty, which define the choices she can make in life.

For an unmarried Victorian woman, educated but not wealthy, being a governess was one of the few options available. Charlotte and Anne Bronte did this in real life and that experience is reflected in both Jane Eyre and Anne’s first novel Agnes Grey.

I felt that the Victorian governess was in a rather uneasy position, not quite one of the servants, but not truly a member of the family either. I liked that sense of isolation, unease and insecurity.

So Miss Andrews became a governess, sometimes too forthright for her own good but worried about her future, and much braver than me. I would like to know what happens to her next.

But as I said at the start, a lot of any story emerges from the subconscious. So when I was reading the proof copy of Respectable Horror, I was struck by how much of The Well Wisher seemed quite unfamiliar. “Where did that come from,” I wondered, “And that?”

I can’t even claim credit for the double meaning in the title….
 
Matthew Pegg is a writer based in Leicestershire in the UK. Most of his writing has been for theatre and includes work for puppet companies, youth theatres, community plays and a script designed to be performed during a medieval banquet. His most recent theatre work was Escaping Alice, a love story with chains and handcuffs, for York Theatre Royal. He’s also completed a community radio play based on the life of Wordsworth and has been commissioned to create a puppet play to tour to care homes for people suffering from dementia. In 2012 he completed an MA in Creative Writing, and since then he has been working on a novel, and placing short fiction with a variety of publishers. Website: http://www.mpegg.co.uk 

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Respectable Horror: Ian Burdon

We’ve got a scintillating new collection of stories coming: Respectable Horror. As you might guess from the title it’s a return to creepy spooky unsettling tales — think Shirley Jackson and M.R. James. Here’s one of our writers telling you about how he came to write his story:

Polin seasideIan Burdon

I used to write.

I used to start things, then abandon them because they were crap. That isn’t false modesty, I still have some of them on floppy disk, or even typewritten with copious Tippex corrections (yes kids, that’s how old I am). I keep meaning to destroy them, but somehow can’t; so sometimes I take them out and read them, and they’re still crap.

Eventually I stopped writing fiction; not for any real reason, just the usual job and family things that took up my time. And I wrote stuff for work, which sublimated the urge to make things up (though I was a civil servant, so…).

I even got published.

Then one day my wife and I were on a remote single-track road in the Highlands, and, as we rounded a blind corner, a spume of characters and ideas blew in through the open car window and into my notebook. I started plotting a novel, somewhat inspired by my first degree (Theology) and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, but set in Caithness, with characters who might or might not exist, depending on your point of view. I knew two things straight away: I wanted to write that story, and I didn’t have the skills to do it. So I wrote lots of practice pieces to try and develop, sharing my efforts with friends in similar circumstances.

Eventually, after lots of words, and lots of deletions, I produced a couple of scenes that I knew were qualitatively better than previous efforts, and promptly went on holiday.

This time, we were walking on a remote Sutherland beach [photo above!] where I was reminded of Jonathan Miller’s classic 1968 adaptation of Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, My Lad. Gosh, I thought, we’re walking through the middle of an MR James story. Out came the notebook. Not long after, the first draft of “The Estate of Edward Moorehouse” was complete.

I didn’t write it with publication in mind, and I didn’t expect to write anything in the horror genre, respectable or not; it’s not what I normally read. Authors whom I’d like to emulate in one way or another include Muriel Spark, Edna O’Brien, Dorothy Dunnett, George MacKay Brown, M John Harrison and Christopher Priest.

Since Edward Moorehouse, I’ve completed several stand-alone stories and a 105K word collection of linked short stories—that began when I found myself inadvertently writing a vampire story and knew I didn’t want to write any such thing. I’m currently working on a sequel to that. And I still have that other novel to write, and the one about sex workers in post-war Edinburgh, and by the way did I tell you about the monk who talked to lizards, and the boy who rode trains with his coyote, and…

 

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You Left Your Biscuit Behind : Release day

OUT NOW! 

Our first crime themed anthology featuring crime, fantasy, horror, humour and baked goods. It’s basically just like one of our events. 

10 stories, by ten authors, all with a crime at their heart, some of them with biscuits. Whether that is the stories of the authors I leave to you. 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00024]

Contents
Elf Prefix by Graham Wynd
Between Love and Hat by Jay Eales
Ghost Signals by James Bennett
No Mercy by K.D. Kinchen
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Penny Jones
Feeding the Fish by Carol Borden
Mermaids in Cape Town by Mame Diene
Patron by E.J. Davies
The Price of a Biscuit by Kate Coe
The Princess, The Pekingese and the Ivory Box by R.A. Kennedy

Looking for guidance on how to be an evil genius?

Look no more!

The Evil Genius Guide is here!

‘To be a truly successful Evil Genius requires several things: a secret lair, loyal but incompetent henchman, a large button marked ‘Stop’ (preferably red), and a willingness to prolong the hero’s death long enough to gloat about your Master Plan. Anything less and you’re not trying hard enough, or maybe trying too hard. One of those, certainly. Wait, don’t open that box…!’

– Evil Genius #39, foiled again…

FS9 Evil Genius Guide ebook 72ppi

Contents:

Alec McQuay – Mallory Untouched,
Andrew Reid – The Great Day of her Wrath, C.Margery .Kempe – How to Seduce Anyone,
Colin Sinclair – His Masters Narrative Voice,
Steven Poore – Full Compliance,
Ben Stewart – Getting the Most from your Kaiju,
Ruth E.J. Booth – Dame Ammonia Dastardly-Truste’s Evil Genius College for Ladies Class of 2013: Graduation speech [Transcription]
Emma Teichmann – Project Domination,
Victoria Hooper – Evil Genius Guide,
Chloe Yates – Professor Venedictos Von Holinshed Versus The Sororal League Of Bazooka-Bikini-Wielding Demonic Divas From Outer Space (Denouement)
Steven Harrison – Project Number 6,
T.J. Everley – The Right Honourable Satan,

Available now as a paperback on amazon, coming soon in ebook and on the 25th August we are having a bit of a celebration we’d love to have you join us if you are in the Leicestershire area.

Launch Day for Eve of War

You may remember BFS shortlister ‘Tales of Eve’ where Mhairi Simpson collected fantastic tales of women seeking their perfect partner in life and the consequences of the search. Well now we see Eve’s daughters, fierce and defiant stepping out to battle.

Edited by Mhairi Simpson, who once again pulled in a great group of authors and Darren Pulsford who curated them into the anthology, we bring you ‘Eve of War’

Cover art and layout by Vincent Holland-Keen

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Sharp of mind and instinct; with poise and grace and power – Eve’s Daughters are a match for any opponent. Whether seeking out a worthy test or assailed by brave (but foolish) foes, she is determined and cunning, and will not fail.

Here are fifteen tales from across the ages; full of prowess both martial and magical, from an array of unique voices.

Contents:

Miranda’s Tempest by S.J. Higbee
The Devil’s Spoke by K.T. Davies
Himura the God Killer by Andrew Reid
The Bind that Tie by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Et Mortuum Esse Audivit by Alasdair Stuart
Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick by Juliet McKenna
A Veil of Blades by R.J. Davnall
In Amber by Rob Haines
Skating Away by Francis Knight
Ballad of Sighne by Rahne Sinclair
The Crossing by Paul Weimer
Lucille by Alec McQuay
Born by G Clark Hellery
Repo by Ren Warom
One Sssingular Sssenssation by Chloe Yates

Release Day: Piercing the Vale

Today is the official release day for Fox Pocket no. 8 Piercing the Vale.

Piercing the Vale is a collection of stories crossing the veil of death and venturing into the worlds of the fae.

FS8 Piecing The Vale ebook 72ppi

Contents: Alasdair Stuart – Connected, Alec McQuay – All and Nothing, Jonathan Ward  – A Tale of Days Long Gone, Paul Starkey – Just Another Breakfast, Jennifer Williams – The Ghost Trap, Darren Goldsmith – Soul Punch, Ben Stewart – A Curious Tale of Life and Death, Tony Lane – Tentacles in Town, Rahne Sinclair – The Captain, Asher Wismer – Solid Glass, Chloe Yates – Intimacy, Colin Sinclair – Claudia, Tracy Fahey – The Cillini, Jenny Barber – Dead Women’s Tales, Craig Leyenaar – all Fun and Games, Jo Johnson Smith – For My Next Trick, Carol Borden – The Lost City of Osiris, Steven Poore – Take me with you

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We are close to the end of the series now, with The Evil Genius Guide and Reflections coming out this summer, which will bring us to a total of 158 flash and short fiction stories and poems, over ten pocket sized volumes.

You can view who is in what title and some of their biographies here.

In order to celebrate we are working with DMU Bookshop on the Newarke in Leicester to bring you a Pocket Party on Thursday 25th August.

More information to follow but we can reveal there will be a special edition of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club hosted by Den Patrick and Jen Williams, who both appear in the Fox Pocket series.

Running order Eve of War

We are pleased to be able to announce the running order for the Tales of Eve follow up anthology Eve of War.

A collection of stories visiting the battles of leading ladies, be they personal or epic welcome to the Eve of War

Co edited by Mhairi Simpson and Darren Pulsford

Eve of War

Contents

Miranda’s Tempest by S.J. Higbee
The Devil’s Spoke by K.T. Davies
Himura the God Killer by Andrew Reid
The Bind that Tie by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Et Mortuum Esse Audivit by Alasdair Stuart
Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick by Juliet McKenna
A Veil of Blades by R.J. Davnall
In Amber by Rob Haines
Skating Away by Francis Knight
Ballad of Sighne by Rahne Sinclair
The Crossing by Paul Weimer
Lucille by Alec McQuay
Born by G Clark Hellery
Repo by Ren Warom
One Sssingular Sssenssation by Chloe Yates

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Respectable Horror Authors

Witches in Leipzig (via the British Library free images)Fox Spirit is happy to announce the final line up for the forthcoming anthology Respectable Horror, tales that will unsettle and disturb you without too much in the way of scandalous words, excessive gore (a little blood may drip) or any hint of lewdness —

Well, perhaps a hint.

It was an arduous selection process, the editor begs to tell you. The number of submissions outstripped expectations that it was a bit daunting especially when it came to sending rejection notices. Those who made the final cut should be especially pleased to have done so as the competition was considerable and truly global.

In a haphazard order here are the tales that will be included: the precise table of contents will be determined soon as will the cover artist. A couple names may be familiar to Fox Spirit readers, but most will be new — indeed this will be the first publication from a couple of our contributors.

Later this year, you will be able to discover the thrills and chills for yourself. Get ready for stories that will leave an indelible mark on your nights and your dreams.

The Authors

The Astartic Arcanum – Carol Borden

The Well Wisher – Matthew Pegg

The Little Beast – Octavia Cade

The Holy Hour – Chloë Yates

A Framework – Richard Barber

Malefactor – Austin Waller

The Estate of Edward Moorehouse – Ian Burdon

Spooky Girl – Maura McHugh

Full Tote Gods – Damien White

A Splash of Crimson – Catherine Lundoff

Where Demons Don’t Tread – Suzanne Willis

The Recovery – Edward Gauvin

Running a Few Errands – Su Haddrell

The Feet on the Roof – Anjana Basu

Miss Metcalf – Ivan Kershner

In These Rooms, These Houses – Jonathan Oliver

Those Who Can’t – Rosalind Mosis

 

Winter Tales : Release Day

Today is the Day!

Winter Tales is now available in paperback, ebook to follow soon. Watch for it coming to an Amazon near you!

Winter Tales - coverFINAL for WEB

With stunning cover art by S.L. Johnson and a collection of creepy, dark and unsettling tales Margret Helgadottir has assembled an anthology that, while not quite horror certainly plays in the same shadows.

Contents:
Mat Joiner: The frost sermon
Su Haddrell: The Bothy
Sharon Kernow: The Wolf Moon
Ruth Booth: The love of a season
Masimba Musodza: When the trees were enchanted
Fiona Clegg: Sunday’s Child
Tim Major: Winter in the Vivarium
Lizz-Ayn Shaarawi: Snow Angel
Amelia Gorman: Under your skin
B. Thomas: Among Wolves
Eliza Chan: Yukizuki
DJ Tyrer: Frose
G.H. Finn: Cold-Hearted
David Sarsfield: Voliday
Kelda Crich: Coldness Waits
K.N. McGrath: The Siege
Jonathan Ward: Spirit of the Season
James Bennett: The Red Lawns
Anne Michaud: Frost Fair
Jan Edwards: Shaman Red
Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Coming of The Cold
Verity Holloway: The Frost of Heaven

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In an Unknown Country release day!

It’s time! No 7 of the Fox Pockets ‘In an Unknown Country’ is finally here!

They are coming thick and fast ow folks and this summer we will be celebrating all 10 volumes being out in our home town of Leicester. Watch out for more details on Volumes 8-10 and that party!

In the mean time journey in to the unknown!

Other Worlds, unfamiliar territory, places we should not be! Wanderers in strange lands and those who have strayed just a little off the path face their fates in an unknown country. A selection of short and flash fiction exploring the unfamiliar. Exploring new worlds and new perspectives.

And Eve Called Her Husband’s Name by Paul Currion
Overwatch by Alasdair Stuart
Walker Of Worlds by C.D. Leyenaar
Cape of Storms by K. Bannerman
The City is of Night, But Not of Sleep by Chloë Yates
An Unexpected Storm by Cindy Dunham
Hiatus by Jonathan Ward
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Tracy Fahey
A long lost land by Ed Fortune
Tombstone by Emma Teichmann
Finding Home by Rahne Sinclair
Arnhild by Margret Helgadóttir
The Strongest Conjuration by Jenny Barber
Somebody Else by Ashley Fox
Stroppendragers by James Fadeley
Lianus Invaded by Christian D’Amico
Are You Listening? by Sarah Anne Langton
Reversal by Philip Thorogood

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