Did you realise how much is happening in weird, horror and speculative fiction these days? It’s madness! So here’s a brief round-up of some books, a comic and campaigns. Folk horror poetics and photography in North from Phil Breach and Tim Turnbull; a neat Lovecraft comic for the younger folk written by Brandon Barrows; Letters of Decline, a short themed anthology on horror and the job interview, and the anthology Between Twilight and Dawn.
Once we’re up to date, we’ll follow with some of our traditional longer features and interviews. And more on lurchers and longdogs, of course.
We’ve had Phil Breach’s work on greydogtales before, with regard to The Arte Mephitic, mentioned in detail here: how to survive mephitis
“The Arte Mephitic is a dark and lyrical cautionary tale told over 52 rhyming quatrains of iambic pentameter, provides a grim, vivid, magickal account of a man’s search for life eternal, and the depths to which he would plumb to attain it.
“As well as drawing inspiration from the works of H P Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, we’ve been using the 1882 publication Chap-Books of the Eighteenth Century by John Ashton as an expert guide to crafting an authentic mock chap-book”
Now you can see a different side of his poesie, in the brand-new North, illustrated with striking photography.
‘The Sun, She fled the sky when I was born…’
“North… is now available from Wyrd Harvest Press, a tendril of the mighty Folk Horror Revival. We offer you wicked wolves and fêted scarecrows, sly foxes and seaside sorcerers, all set about with images from a host of talented photographers. Come take a walk on the boreal side…”
“The eloquent words of two poets brought forth from the land, the lodestone and lodestar. All roads lead here. Join Tim Turnbull and Phil Breach as through poetry, prose and the atmospheric imagery of great photographers,they explore and invoke the physical and emotional landscapes. Head North my friends and don’t look back.”
Being most decidedly Northern ourselves, we shall be eyeing this collection very carefully, and writing letters of complaint if they got anything wrong. But they probably didn’t, and we’re not even sure if you can get poetry wrong in that way. North can be an Imagined Land, much like the fabled Sou-Thampton, a city in which we don’t really believe. It seems so unlikely that people can live that far from Yorkshire and still retain rational thought…
As the book comes from Wyrd Harvest, the profits from North will go towards wildlife projects. And the Lulu link below has a bit of a preview feature for a glimpse inside, as well.
If you’re into this sort of thing (which we are), do check out Wyrd Harvest’s other publications.
We featured the Folk Horror Revival’s excellent Corpse Roads in an article last year: on corpse roads bound
A Little Lovecraft
We move on to House of Fear: The Grumpledowns Gang and the Case of the Mail-Order Shoggoths. A comic for a change, and a Lovecraft inspired one.
This is on its Kickstarter campaign right now, and was written by Brandon Barrows, no stranger to some of our listeners. In addition to his comics/illustrated work, Brandon also wrote The Altar in the Hills collection, The Castle-Town Tragedy (with our old favourite Carnacki), and has his debut novel This Rough Old World coming out later in 2017. The art is by Rafael Loureiro, a Brazilian-based comic book artist and illustrator, and the rest of the team are named in the Kickstarter details.
“House of Fear: The Grumpledowns Gang and the Case of the Mail-Order Shoggoths is packed with adventure, mystery, and monster-fighting action.
“In this issue, young Ben receives a package of grow-your-own monsters…just add water! When his science teacher flushes them down the toilet, the school is overrun with huge, tentacled monsters with eyes all over the place. Ben and friends must find a way to defeat the beasts before they destroy the school. It’s kids vs. shoggoths!”
- 24 full-color pages.
- Complete, stand-alone story.
- Suitable for kids 7 and older.*
- Printed on quality, glossy paper for more durability.
So if you fancy getting hold of a copy, or just want to support the campaign, go here for more information:
And for other young, or young at heart, Lovecraft fans who don’t mind being a touch irreverent, we should also mention Neil Baker’s Picnic at the Mountains of Madness, a delightful picture book illustrated by Maya Sugihara. This one comes from Neil’s April Moon Press.
“Join Harry and Kaylee, the little adventurers, as they journey to a mysterious city at the bottom of the world to enjoy a picnic. Inspired by the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, this book will delight fans of the Mythos, while introducing children to the dark joys of classic, weird literature.”
Well worth flicking through and checking out.
Letters of Decline
Here’s something different – a short themed anthology with some great writers from the weird/horror scene. Letters of Decline comes from Tom Breen and Orford Parish Books, and features four worrying stories by Matthew M Bartlett, Jonathan Raab, Joseph Pastula and Sean M Thompson.
The first thing we note is that once again it can pay to have an M in your name, prompting the possibility of John ‘M’ Linwood Grant becoming old greydog’s new name.
Letters of Decline describes itself thusly:
“JOB INTERVIEWS: HORROR’S ULTIMATE FRONTIER Everyone who’s been a finalist for a job has felt it: the sweaty brow, the nervous catch in the voice, the panic when asked a question you can’t answer … Job interviews are the hopelessly flawed method industrial society employs to select willing participants in the soul-crushing monotony of wage labor, a process governed by bias, guesswork, and the arbitrary whims of bored, resentful hiring managers.
“This bleak netherworld is examined in this volume by four of the most distinctive new voices in horror fiction today: a new company in a decrepit mill town seems to offer the promise of upward mobility, if you can just pass the interview … a woman learns exactly what she’s willing to do to land a job in a place with a good dental plan … an out-of-work recluse comes face-to-face with his own past in an unspeakable showdown with a mysterious interrogator … and one baffled man sits on the other end of the hiring desk as a parade of horribles shambles before him. Sit down. Relax. Bring your references and samples of your work. We’ll leave time at the end for questions and hopeless prayers.”
Helpfully for real-life job-hunters, the book includes an excellent introduction from the Professor of Management Studies and Advanced Necromancy at Orford Parish Community College. We at greydogtales keenly noted the advice given therein:
“Bring an owl to the interview. There are no rules against it.”
Though regular listeners will know that if it were our own St Botolph-in-the-Wolds, then perhaps an incontinent badger or a playful otter would be more in keeping at interview time. The Great Owl Scare of 1875 still haunts a number of older residents in St Botolph’s; even a single regurgitated pellet can cause rioting at the ‘Happy Ashes’ Care Home (“Just because you’re in a jar, doesn’t mean you can’t smile”). Hang on, we might have drifted there…
We had a quick word with two M authors and a non-M author to ask about their stories.
Jonathan Raab, author of The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie, said:
“‘A Capable Man’ was difficult to get just right, because I’ve spent some time un- and underemployed, and that really weighed heavily on me. Combine that thick sense of dread and diminishing self-worth with the terrors of rural economic depression, neoliberal occultism, and high strange phenomena, and you’ve got this story.”
And Matthew M Bartlett, greatly admired here for his Creeping Waves (not a medical condition, really), added:
“’The Storefront Theater’ is a story about a strange person inviting a man to a strange job interview in a strange way. There’s shape-shifting, untrustworthy reflections, and a little theater run by a deranged and bereft proprietor.”
Sean M Thompson also had this to say:
“With “Cat’s Claw LLC,” I wanted the reader to go on a journey. I wondered what a really sketchy interview might be like, and from there decided what the position the protagonist was applying for would entail. I made sure to ramp up my gothic sensibilities for this evil little bastard.”
Which all sounds good to us. Joseph Pastula also appeared with Matthew and Tom in Three Moves of Doom, whilst Sean M Thompson can be found in such places as his collection Too Late.
And like North from Wyrd Harvest, Letters of Decline from Orford Parish is out and available now. Click and indulge.
I Know What You Did Last Night
Finally, a mention for another Kickstarter which has some relevance to our hearts. So this is a blatant plug. The Golden Goblin Press Kickstarter for their Between Twilight and Dawn anthology, which contains greydog’s ‘Whisky, Beans and Dust’ story, has just under two weeks left.
Not so directly Lovecraft as their innovative Heroes of Red Hook, more strange and scary tales of the night. The campaign’s going well, but it needs more support to hit its goal.
The main batch of stories includes:
- TUMSHIEHEID by William Meikle – There are older traditions than pumpkins and candy, more basic traditions. Jack of the lantern does not like being mocked, especially on a night when the veil is thin and the old ways can return, with their vengeance.
- FORGETTING by Richard Lee Byers – Out of sight, out of mind. Out of mind, out of life. A son learns this bitter lesson when trying to help his sick father work through some issues one night.
- THE FIFTH SEASON by D.A. Madigan – When Lee Gristel set out that evening to meet a girl who was reputed to be ‘easy’, he was hoping for a good time, maybe even the best night of his life. Instead, he discovered things man definitely was not meant to know… especially in a Biblical sense.
- THE LAST APPOINTMENT OF THE DAY by Oscar Rios – Being a doctor in witch-haunted Arkham can be weird at times, challenging at others. But when unexpected visitors from a nearby village with an even less savory reputation show up at the end of the day, things can get downright deadly.
- BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON by Pete Rawlik – Two dead men, one old and blind, the other pale as chalk, both died struggling for the book that lay between them. That aged volume was blank, just like every other book in the immense private library. Why would one man kill for a blank book, and why would another die to keep it?
- MARY IN THE MIRROR by Christine Morgan – For pre-teen girls in the 1980s, what would a slumber party be without MTV, mini-pizzas, and the latest magazines? Well, how about playing ‘Mary in the Mirror’ to see if the spooky stories are true? After all, it’s just a silly game…
- SHARPE SHAVER by Glynn Owen Barrass – A missing person, a riot in New York City, and a private detective who may have bitten off more than she can chew. An Urban Myth becomes macabre reality as Cassandra Bane encounters a dark, underground world of nightmares in the flesh.
- WHISKEY, BEANS AND DUST by John Linwood Grant – Mamma Lucy didn’t know the Rantons, or the nature of the storm that followed them, tearing the land apart. She surely didn’t know what they’d learned, and what she was supposed to do about it all. But then again, what came that night didn’t know Mamma Lucy…
- GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Brian M. Sammons – Jordan kills for the CIA. Monsters, mostly. What should be a quick, by the book extermination job takes an unexpected turn when one night he has to work a literal graveyard shift.
- UNCLE CRAIG’S WAKE by Konstantine Paradias – When cancer took Uncle Craig, it was supposed to be forever. But Deborah weaved Mister Danh’s spell and spoke the words from his warped little book and now, something lurks in the fruit cellar, prodding from its otherworldly perch into our reality.
- YESTERDAY’S MYTHS ARE TOMORROW’S GODS by Bracken MacLeod – In a failing marriage, Marlynne dreams of having a different life. She wants her world to change. Then, one night, the world does, and it’s so much worse than anything she could have ever imagined.
And there are lots of goodies to be added if it goes well, including great stories from more authors. Click the link below to have a look and see if you can get in there.
We’ll try and round up more new stuff in a couple of days, as there are still plenty of cool books to highlight. We have a feeling that we might be mentioning Stephen King next time, unusual for us.
Plus we have new lurcher pictures, more Edwardians and all sorts we need to cover. Do come back soon, dear listener – or subscribe (top left) so that you can pretend to all your friends that you know us…