Tag Archives: horror

Not Exactly Ghosts

Today we’re back in supernatural fiction mode, so we’re focusing on Javanese theatre and the Foreign Office. Obviously. Our feature piece is on the rather neglected author Sir Andrew Caldecott. This happened a bit by accident, as usual. Not long ago we interviewed Mansfield Dark, and we mentioned shadow puppetry. Imagine my surprise therefore (as they used to say) when I was flicking through Caldecott and came across a scary story of his about, yes, shadow puppetry. I love these serendipitous discoveries, except when I have to clean them up afterwards.

(I learned the word serendipity from Dr Who on the TV, of all places. Jon Pertwee used it, I think, to the lovely Katy Manning.)

by Bassano, half-plate film negative, 7 October 1947
by Bassano, half-plate film negative, 7 October 1947

Sir Arthur Caldecott (1884 – 1951) was a British colonial administrator in the early part of last century. He seems to have been a decent chap and a popular man locally wherever he served, known for an unusual ability to negotiate settlements between different ethnic groups. His History of Jelebu (in Malaysia) is crammed with folklore, genealogies, inter-tribal relationships and numerous references to previous British administrators misunderstanding local terms and customs. Much of his knowledge came from time spent directly with the local tribes:

“The Dato’ Penghulus of Jelebu liaye continued in unbroken line from the rule of Moyang Salleli to the present day. The law of succession is that the office should rotate among the three loaris berundang in the following order: Ulu Jelebu, Sarin and Kemin. The inclusion of the last two communities must have been the outcome of a pakat, as Ulu Jelebu provided the first four penghulus in succession.”

It’s not exactly known when he wrote his creepy stories. There are suggestions that at least some were written while he was posted out East in the 20s and 30s, but his first collection Not Exactly Ghosts didn’t see print until 1947. The second, Fires Burn Blue, came out in 1948. Unfortunately he died three years later.

He is often described as ‘Jamesian’ in style, but we feel that only a few of his stories fit that description. He does reference parsons, old texts and historical events in a Jamesian manner, certainly, and shares a distanced quality. David Stuart Davies cites both M R James and Algernon Blackwood as influences.


Caldecott brings his own quiet humour to the table, however, and an approach which is almost tongue-in-cheek sometimes. The title of the first collection, Not Exactly Ghosts, is a very accurate one. He deals in possibilities and suppositions, even in the consideration of an entirely parallel world, rather than proven manifestations or creeping hairy things. In some of the stories, you cannot be sure if you have witnessed a supernatural occurrence or not. It may have been madness, a mistake, or the susceptible mind.  A Victim of Medusa is a short story which illustrates this perfectly.

We suspect that their relative lack of popularity is down to that evasive nature – he doesn’t necessarily define his chills with the immediacy of other ghost story writers. Sometimes the only true monstrosity is human behaviour, above and beyond any supernatural element (though there are scary moments).

The stories are intelligent fictions with interesting characters. An added bonus is that Caldecott’s endings are often surprisingly low key, something which he uses very effectively. He is a master of wry asides and observations. This, for example, from Quintet, where a man’s trousers stand up and walk to the door:

“Markson used to say that his first feeling of intense uneasiness, almost of fear, suddenly gave way to the sharp realisation that they were the only trousers he had with him; and that, if they eloped, he would be a semi-nudist.”

Let’s deal with the Jamesian aspect first, and cite the two obvious stories, A Room in a Rectory and Christmas Reunion.

A Room in a Rectory could easily be mistaken for a piece by old M R himself. It delves into church and clerical history, with remnants of dark practices, and introduces the Bishop of Kongea, a fictional country based on Caldecott’s experiences of Malaya and Ceylon (see later). It should work for any lover of James’ style.

Christmas Reunion is more famous than Caldecott’s other stories due to the fact that it is specifically based on a note by James in his ‘Stories I have tried to write‘ essay (1929).

“There were possibilities, too, in the Christmas cracker, if the right people pull it, and if the motto which they find inside has the right message on it. They will probably leave the party early, pleading indisposition; but very likely a previous engagement of long standing would be the more truthful excuse.”

Caldecott takes this on directly and writes such a story. The fun is that he mentions M R James in the story itself and one of his characters supplies the above passage as part of it. It’s quite nicely done.

Of the non-Jamesian stories, three or four stand out. Branch Line to Benceston is an unusual tale about one worried man and two lives which we can’t discuss further without spoiling it. It is well worth reading, though. Sonata in D Minor is an essentially a study of two married people punishing each other unpleasantly, and is interesting for its twists. And the music is a crucial element.

There is, as far as we know, no such thing as Siedel’s Sonata in D Minor, or the disturbing recording of it named in the story, but in another one of those strange moments, we came across a Sonata in D Minor performed by Siedel. Heinrich Biber was a post-Baroque composer who wrote his Mystery or Rosary Sonatas in the 1670s, and Annegret Siedel is a contemporary performer. We were mildly spooked.

In Due Course is the story which introduces shadow puppetry. We had to have it in because of its details on Javanese shadow plays.

“They had been cut in thick buffalo hide and elaborately painted in gold, silver, crimson, saffron, brown and indigo; but on one side alone, the being left polished but bare: for a shadow drama is watched from both sides of a stretched sheet – one one side, spectators see the painted surfaces of the figures against the white cloth and in the full glare of footlights; on the other, the clear-cut shadows of them projected against the cloth.”

There is no doubt that Caldecott must have seen wayang kulit (shadow puppets) out east, and yet as far as we’re aware, modern wayang work is only viewed through the screen, as outlines, rendering the painting on the figures purely ornamental. But then we’re into longdogs, not complex Far East performance arts, so what do we know?


Anyway, if you like shadow shows, praying mantises and strange poetry, then give the story a go.

Poetry seems to have been a particular interest of Caldecott’s, because it crops up in a number of his tales. Much is dark and story-related, but it is, we feel, important to share this one-off with you:

To a Jelly-fish

Out of proper respect for you, Sir,

I shall call you Mr Medusa

(A name that I took

From our animal book);

Gentlemen in Debrett or Kelly

Don’t have names like Fish, A. Jelly –

The other aspect of Caldecott worth mentioning is this matter of Kongea. Six of the stories are set in Kongea, and while they have an inevitable colonial air about them, some are very effective. They reflect something of Caldecott’s understanding that ‘things are different there’. One of the more horrible of these stories is Grey Brothers, especially because it is either a study of insanity or something far more worrying.  Kongea, drawn from Malaya and Ceylon, is treated throughout both collections as entirely real, with numerous mentions of it.


So there. A neglected author, well worth a look. We would love to link to the many editions of his works in print, but we can’t because they don’t exist, so you’ll have to settle for second hand. You can still get used copies of the Wordsworth double collection fairly cheaply.

And next time, we try to find an unknown Czech horror poet who hasn’t been translated and a breed of sighthound that no-one’s heard of and no-one likes. Total obscurity beckons…

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Someone was asking for free short horror to read or share. So here’s a standalone episode from me, Chicago.  PDF or scroll-down text, take your pick. The.pdf link is here: chicago


by John Linwood Grant

It’s a long way from New York to Seattle on foot.

Maybe I hadn’t appreciated quite how big America was. I’d never been across it before, only seen the coasts. Not that it mattered, because I wanted to be forgotten for a while. No record of where I’d been or where I was going, no trail of hire-cars receipts or plane tickets. All I wanted was the road, and an endless list of small, forgettable towns…

1975 was the year. It was also about the number of miles I had yet to cover. West, always heading west. I only dipped into cities when I had to. In Cleveland I followed my usual fall-back routine. It’s pretty simple. You go somewhere bad, the worst part of town you can find, and you wait around at night until the food looks you up itself. Muggers, rapists, strung-out junkies who can hardly hold the knife steady. Any will do.

I struck lucky on the first night with a couple of low-lives who were ready to cut me up first and check my wallet later.

“You’re dead, man.” said the short one, a moustache like a crayon line across his upper lip. He was sweating badly, and stank, but I didn’t usually care about the wrapping. I smiled.

“Funny you should say that.”

His companion stared at me for a moment, then backed away slowly. “I gotta bad feelin’, Huey.”

Huey was too far gone to listen. He skittered in close, a stolen scalpel in his left hand. I could see the track-marks down his arms, some of the sites already going bad. If I’d fed more recently, I would have walked away myself, and I amended my earlier observation. He was going to taste as bad as he smelled.

One move, and moustache-boy was on his knees, scalpel forgotten. The streetlight showed that I was still smiling, and the other guy ran for it. I let him. One was enough. I would have been doing Cleveland a favour by draining him, going right to the bottom of the bottle, but I’d avoided that path for a long time. I slammed him unconscious instead, and placed my hand on his forehead.

I could smell the hepatitis and septicaemia in him, along with heroin, barbiturates and a few prescription drugs. None of them would affect me, so I concentrated, and called him to me. The essence was there, underneath the crap, and it would keep me going for a week or two at least.

I left him weak but alive. God, or Fate, or whatever would take over once I’d gone. Maybe his mate would come back and ring 999. Sorry, 911. Or maybe he’d finish the job off. It wasn’t my problem.

Cleveland saw me through Fremont and Defiance, even through a town called Hicksville, which amused me. The folk seemed nice enough, though. I had a few beers and let them be. I didn’t interfere again until I reached Chicago, where I met my first genuine Stars-and-Stripes revenant for a long time.

Ella was one of the lost ones. If you can have any sympathy at all for our kind, edimmu, whatever you call us, then she deserved it.

I found her shivering and desperate on a back-street, waiting for a clean, all-American husband to come driving slowly past and wave a handful of dollars at her. I’d seen it too many times.

“Hey, little kitten.” they would call. “Daddy needs some lovin’.”

Daddy, of course, had a decent woman at home, two kids and a cheerful scamp of a dog in the yard. He raised funds for the party and went to church nice and scrubbed up every Sunday…

At least I knew what I was.

I took her arm before the next car rolled past, and pulled her into the shadows. It was instinctive – she emanated loneliness, a hopeless kind of longing. There was no doubt that she was one of those who have no clue as to what to do, where else to go. Most of them fade away over the years, becoming shadows of sorrow, the saddest things.

Even as she struggled against me, I cursed myself, knowing that I should have walked on and left her alone. She fought, but not well or with any enthusiasm.

“I don’t have what you’re after, believe me.” I murmured.

Her little eyes widened. She must have been about sixteen when she was unborn, brought back into the world looking as wretched as she obviously felt. This close I caught the scent of her hunger properly. She needed what the clean men gave her. Desire, disgust, even their self-loathing, if they had any. Those base feelings that set their loins pumping in filthy alleys. She didn’t want those things, but she had to have them.

She vomited, spattering my boots. She must have tried to eat normal food earlier that day.

“Why? Why me?” It was a desperate cry.

I’d had a long time to find the answer to that question. Every one of us who could still form a coherent sentence had a different theory. Some said it was God’s roll of the dice, a second chance. But it wasn’t. I’d been back too long, even then, and I knew the score. We were talking retribution, rejection, or a plan so far beyond our understanding that it made no sense.

“You’ll never know.” I said, giving it to her straight. Maybe that was hard, but I didn’t have a good lie to hand. “Something bad happened, and now you’re what you are.”

A priest once told me that the Lord was patient. Watching the girl, I was inclined to feel that He was rather more vindictive than patient. What could she have done to end up like this at sixteen, seventeen years old, working the cold streets of Chicago?

I would never know that either. None of us remember what has made us this way, what sequence of lies, murders or betrayals has made us what we are.

“I’m Ella.” she said, when the heaving had stopped. “Are you… like me?”

That was a difficult one.

“Yes.” I said, to save a long conversation. “But I’m passing through.”

“Can I come with you? I could… you could, y’know, do me, if you want to. I could help you…”

It was an unappealing offer. I knew that it came from desperation, and I knew that whether we “did it” or not, I wouldn’t be able to help her. Some of us are stuck, and Ella was one of those. The feeling was unmistakable now.

“I doubt it.” I said.


She argued with me for half an hour. She so wanted out of what she’d become, where she was, and she thought that it would be too cruel of me to speak to her and then to walk away. She was wrong.

The real cruelty came at the end, when I gave in.

I told her I was heading west and she could tag along for a while. In the early hours of the morning we headed out of Chicago. I was aiming for a lot of little places with ville in their names, places which called themselves towns and cities but had only a few thousand people in them. Most edimmu would avoid such limited feeding grounds, and I’d decided that Ella was already one more than I wanted to meet.

Two hours out of Chicago, and it began. Ella kept turning, staring back at the city. She stumbled, used my arm to get herself up again. It was nine, ten in the morning.

“I feel… sorta sick.”

Traffic was sporadic, local trucks mainly. We were walking alongside a minor road, Illinois dust clinging to us. I thought that I might get some new boots in the next town. These ones were running out of heel.

“You will.”

Another mile went by. She was stumbling all the time now, and looking back as if something was following her.

“P’haps I need a drink…”

I paused, looked around at the open fields.

“It won’t help. You belong back there, where I found you.”

She had courage. Or she was stubborn. I don’t know. I stood and watched as she tried to carry on, a small, thin figure in sixties clothes struggling along a seventies road. Ten years too late for Ella. She wasn’t the first who’d tried to break out. It never worked. Somewhere near where I’d found her there would be a grave, the epicentre of that sad little earthquake that had brought Ella back. It might have marble over it, might be a scratch of dirt in a disused car park. It would still be her grave, and it intended to hold her close.

When she was crying dry tears and clawing at the badly metalled surface, I joined her, squatting down on the balls of my feet.

“Something happened in Chicago.” I said. “You died, Ella. It owns you, or you own it. Some of us can’t ever leave where it happened. We’re bound, trapped.”

“You’re not.” she said with a whimper.

“Cities and places don’t trap me. Doesn’t make it any better.”

“Seems better.” Now she was really sixteen again, full of injustice and resentment.

“It isn’t.” I straightened up. “If you head back to Chicago, it’ll get easier. I’m sorry.”

“I hate you!” she shrieked.

“You’re not alone.”

There wasn’t any point in waiting.

I headed west, and knew that Ella would go home, however reluctantly. Or maybe she would dig her nails into the road and stay there until she starved, lost any remaining sense of who or what she was. That might be a mercy.

But the odds were on her being back in Chicago by nightfall, her sandals scuffing the kerbside as the big, low cars went by, waiting for the one that slowed down.

Hey, little kitten…

c. John Linwood Grant 2015

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William Hope Hodgson: For the Love of God, Montresor!

Welcome back to the strange, misguided world of our tribute to William Hope Hodgson. Where, oh where, dear Lord, are the fun-filled days of leaping longdogs and writerly wittering? Will this horror never end? Today I am appalled to offer, amongst other nuggets:

  • an exclusive new Carnacki story by author J Patrick Allen
  • twenty more covers up in the gallery under October Horror
  • details of the re-launch of web-site The Night Land
  • a rare French graphic novel mention of Carnacki
  • details of a German language audio version of Hodgson’s The Voice in the Night

I still have more WHH-related  items than I can cram into a month, and have one tiny request. If you have enjoyed any of this so far, do please leave a comment. It would be nice to hear from you. Are you having a good time? Or was this festival a Thing which should never have been birthed?


But let us bite the bullet, and… Martha? What’s in these damned cartridges…

Our first feature is, as mentioned above, a brand new Carnacki story written especially for greydogtales! And we are, of course delighted.


J Patrick Allen is a Fantasy and Weird Western author out of St. Louis, Missouri. His first novel, West of Pale, arrives Spring 2016 from 18th Wall Productions and his first short story will be coming out this month in The Dragon Lord’s Library.

You can catch a free story every week on his website www.jpatrickallen.com, or you can follow him on Twitter @jpatrickauthor where he blurts out the first thing that comes to mind. Click on the link below the image to read, or tell me and I’ll slam an .rtf version up pronto:

puddle2The Drowning Puddle

We’ve also heard from another writer  Brandon Barrows.  I obviously need to crush these pups quickly before my life-support fails (I suspect arming Willie Meikle is the answer).

The first book to be released under the new Dunham’s Manor hardcover series, The Castle-Town Tragedy features three brand-new tales in which Carnacki the Ghost-Finder faces tortured spirits, powerful other-worldly entities and things that go bump in the night. But, armed with an array of scientific instruments, a vast knowledge of the occult, and fueled by a drive to dispel the mysteries and horrors of the world, Carnacki welcomes the challenge as our world’s best defense against the malevolent denizens of the Outer Circle!

Castle_20Town_20Tragedy_20color_20with_20Sinatra_20font_20low_20res_20final_originalThe Castle-Town Tragedy

Oh well, maybe they’ll take up chartered accountancy instead. Brandon can be found at the link below:

Brandon Barrows web-site


We move on to good news from Kate Coady, the new The Night Land web-hierarch (she said ‘web-master’, but our alpha female Chilli will have no truck with such terms):

In 1906, William Hope Hodgson published a long, terribly strange book called The Night Land. In 2001 Andy Robertson started a website about it. The front page read:

Argument: That the Night Land, Though Grotesque and Flawed, is one of the World’s Greatest Works of Fantasy.

The site’s content comprised criticism and essays based on The Night Land, and works of art influenced by it: visual arts, multimedia, and stories written by professionals and talented amateurs. These works form the substance of the Argument: The Night Land is great in itself, and great as a source of inspiration.

Later, Mr. Robertson would publish two anthologies of these stories (Night Lands Volume 1 and Volume 2). He planned to published more in book form. But his health began to fail, and in 2014, he died.

The Night Land website didn’t. Brett Davidson (who might be described as Mr. Robertson’s partner in Night Land literary creation) and I are keeping the site going, as previously arranged. The old domain was thenightland.co.uk. We are now at:

teng-violet-fractal-logoThe Night Land web-site

I’ve recently redesigned the site to make it mobile-friendly and easier to navigate, while trying to keep the spirit of Mr. Robertson’s original atmospheric design.

We now have a journal on-site; I’ll be updating it much more often than the old site log. I’ll be posting news and essays concerning Mr. Hodgson and his writing, and some other weird fiction and science fiction. Feel free to email me and tell me about new Hodgson-related works. (nightland -at- starsofwinter.com)

Thanks Kate.


Meanwhile, I’m still tripping over cover art for various editions of WHH’s books and stories, so have a look and get in touch if you have any rarities I haven’t included yet. We would be pleased to add them and credit the source. If I get a moment, I might improve the display and put them in some sort of order – chronological, by title, by language or just by the number of tablets I took.

I have one here that is only for the real completists – the extremely appealing La Brigade Chimerique.


I should warn you, Carnacki has only a passing involvement in this graphic novel, but I loved the art and the concept so much I had to include it. Georges Dodds, who has a far better grasp of French than I do, helped enormously with this, and provided me with his translation of the review in Le Figaro, November 2012. This extract is from the review by Laurent Suply:

La Brigade Chimérique harbours the solution to its own mystery: can Europe and France generate anew some superheroes, some modern myths? The answer is yes. A French interpretation of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it draws from it the idea of reusing historical or literary individuals. The Chimeric Brigade is a game of mirrors, sometimes demanding for the reader, between Lehman’s obsessions, a rereading of European history, and the pure adventure of comics.

The narration is very solid, planting clues throughout the sequence of episodes for the stunning revelations to come. Gess’ layouts are admirably coloured by Céline Bessonneau. This complete/unabridged edition finally fills the work’s only void: a tendency towards name-dropping, which becomes almost pedantic at times. The bonus materials here instead bring light on the work’s genesis and the many literary and historical references throughout.

A cult graphic novel for a small number of the initiated since it’s appearance in 2009, it has been adapted as a role playing game and more recently, a somewhat anecdotal sequel has appeared by way of the graphic novel “Masqué,” also by Serge Lehman. This complete collection is a perfect Christmas present for any graphic novel, SF or contemporary history buff – basically, lots of people.

La Brigade Chimérique , Editions L’Atalante. By Serge Lehman, with Fabrice Colin. Illustrated by Gess (Carmen McCallum). I think you may have to hunt this one down on eBay.

As we are in France (or French Canada, as I suspect in Georges’ case), I was pleased to find a 2014 French language audiobook of The Ghost Pirates, entitled unsurprisingly Les Pirates Fantomes. I translated that bit myself, I’ll have you know.

fantomesLes Pirates Fantomes

And then lo and behold, a German audio version of The Voice in the Night turned up, which sounds rather good, narrated by Marc Gruppe. How would you ever clog your brain cells up like this without me?

gruselkabinett_69Stimme in der Nacht

That’s it for today. If anyone out there is still alive, yet to come in our blog-fest: features and interviews with author John C Wright, editor James Bojaciuk and WHH scholar Sam Gafford, plus more literary, musical and audio links.

No, Martha, no, I won’t leave the attic yet, I won’t…

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William Hope Hodgson: The Inheritors

For our longdog and lurcher friends, hurrah, only two weeks to go before the end of October Horror! And for our horror friends, hurrah, two more weeks of October Horror yet to come…


or The Writer on the Borderland 3

So, my dear ones, what difference did William Hope Hodgson make to the world of weird fiction? Does he actually have a legacy?

We don’t have the space here to cover all those writers peripherally influenced by WHH. It’s a long list, and could include a few surprising bedfellows – China Mieville, Dennis Wheatley and Clark Ashton Smith, for example. Hodgson’s originality meant that he had a surprising impact on many fertile imaginations.

Instead, we start with a range of contemporary authors who have been directly influenced by Hodgson, or who explore his characters and key themes in their own work. Our first feature author is William Meikle.


What can we say about Willie? A proud Scot, a fellow beard owner and a master of the rollicking, scary adventure. We salute him here because of his Carnacki stories and the Hodgsonian elements in some of his other work, but he has, of course, written reams of strange and terrifying tales. The natural choice for successor to Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs, when he’s not off ploughing another furrow with his own brand of original horror stories.

His influence is terrifying, as well. I rarely write Carnacki stories myself because I don’t know if Scotland versus Yorkshire is a winnable match, and his Sweary Puffin is a mean beast. I waited until Carnacki was dead, just to be sure, before I started the main run of Tales of the Last Edwardian. Safer that way.

But he’s a fine and prolific fellow. He takes Carnacki and goes that bit further, with new equipment and new challenges. Faraday Cage, anyone? Willie has talked about his writing with a number of interviewers in the past, but has kindly focussed down on Hodgson for greydogtales:

greydog: Hello and welcome, Willie. Let’s get to the meat straight away. Of all the period characters you’ve revived so successfully, you still return to Carnacki. Is there something about the character and setting that particularly appeal to you?

Meikle: For me it’s all about the struggle of the dark against the light. The time and place, and the way it plays out is in some ways secondary to that. And when you’re dealing with archetypes, there’s only so many to go around, and it’s not surprising that the same concepts of death and betrayal, love and loss, turn up wherever, and whenever, the story is placed.

The ghost story is no different in utilising the archetype of the return of the lost from the great beyond, but a good one needs verisimilitude.

If the reader doesn’t believe wholeheartedly in the supernatural element, even if only for the duration of the story, then they’ll be looking for the Scooby-Doo escape, the man in the mask that means everything before was just smoke and mirrors. Hodgson wasn’t above using the man in the mask escape himself of course, but those ones never appealed to me much. It’s my belief that to pull off a good ghost story, you need to get past that, and engage the reader at an emotional level with their fears.

Carnacki’s meetings with the supernatural resonated with me at that emotional level on my very first reading many years ago. On top of that, several of the stories have a Lovecraftian viewpoint, with cosmic entities that have no regard for the doings of mankind. The background Hodgson proposes fits with some of my own viewpoint on the ways the Universe might function, and the slightly formal Edwardian language seems to be a “voice” I fall into naturally.

Long story short, I write them because of love, pure and simple.

You may notice while reading that Carnacki likes a drink and a smoke, and a hearty meal with his friends gathered round. This dovetails perfectly with my own idea of a good time. And although I no longer smoke, witing about characters who do allows me a small vicarious reminder of my own younger days. I wish I had Carnacki’s library, his toys, but most of all, I envy him his regular visits from his tight group of friends, all more than willing to listen to his tales of adventure into the weird places of the world while drinking his Scotch and smoking his cigarettes.

greydog: A nice Laphroaig in your case, we assume. Speaking of his unusual equipment and inventions, his toys, you’ve recently written a story about the contemporary discovery of Carnacki’s electric pentacle. Do you plan to extend and explore Carnacki’s technological innovations any further, or was this just fun?

Meikle: My new novella, Pentacle (from DarkFuse) was mostly just fun. I was exploring part of a mythos I’m building of goings on in a certain kind of strange house. I wondered what old Carnacki would have made of it, and suddenly my character found the Pentacle in the basement. It just kind of happened 🙂

That said, I do have a couple of ideas bubbling under to do with his colour theory so I’ll no doubt get round to them at some point. I’m a long way away from being finished with Carnacki’s toys.

greydog: We’re glad to hear it – we love stories bending Edwardian technology to new and strange uses. And what of Hodgson’s other fiction? Did his sea stories influence some of your works, or did you write them independently of reading those?

Meikle: A lot of my own work is based at sea or in seaside towns – I live on the coast, and have done for twenty out of the past twenty five years. I was born and raised within 10 miles of the Firth of Clyde, so it was something that came to me naturally anyway. Many of my own favorite books are also sea based, with The Ghost Pirates, Dan Simmons’ The Terror. Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides and John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes all influencing me along the way.

So adding Captain Gault in to three of the stories in the new collection also felt natural. I thought it was about time the two of them met, and I had so much fun with those that I’m pretty sure the old chaps will be meeting again in the near future.

greydog: Would you ever consider exploring The Nightland in your stories, or do you think it too out-dated now?

Meikle: It has appeared in passing in several of my Carnacki stories – there’s a big black pyramid in The Dark Island novella in the first collection, and it appears again in The Parliament of Owls story in the deluxe edition of the new one. And there’s more than a passing reference in Pentacle too. The far future aspect of it, and the sense of cosmic scale is the appeal to me. The archaic language is something I would never attempt, and I’m not really interested in the many creatures – although I do have an unpublished story about the origin of the Swine Things in Nightland that might get an airing some day…

greydog: Thank you, Willie Meikle.


Willie has two Carnacki collections currently available:

Carnacki: Heaven and Hell at Dark Regions Press

(Hardcover sold out; a nice trade paperback edition still available, complete with Wayne Miller illustrations, and an ebook.)

Carnacki: The Watcher at the Gate at Dark Renaissance

(Limited edition hardcover, with color illos again by Wayne Miller. There will be a paperback and ebook along in due course.)

Several stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines, so check out his website: William Meikle

Carnacki’s newest story The Keys of the Door, will be in The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Tales, edited by Maxim Jacobowski. (November 2015). We also plan to have a feature interview and showcase session with Wayne Miller, the artist mentioned above, in November.


But now come back in time with greydogtales. Before Meikle there was… Kidd and Kennett.

Chico Kidd, as A F Kidd, and Rick Kennett shared their mutual interest to produce the first Carnacki rebirth, the result being No. 472 Cheyne Walk. Published by the Ghost Story Society in 1992, this volume containing four stories, described as pastiches.

A decade later, Ash Tree press published No. 472 Cheyne Walk: Carnacki, the Untold Stories with a further eight new tales. Thus Carnacki lived again, and readers were also delighted that Kidd and Kennett went ‘Giant Rat of Sumatra’ on them and wrote up some of the cases mentioned but not described in the Hodgson stories.

No472No-472 Cheyne Walk (e-book)

I was in touch with Chico as part of the WHH blog-fest, and although she has no more Carnackis planned, she is still scribing.


The Captain da Silva stories are her current project, particularly fitting to mention here because da Silva’s first appearance was in No. 472 Cheyne Walk, and Hodgson did love a sea story. Chico described them to me thusly:

“Early 20th century funny-ish noir-ish urban fantasy mashups as the Cap’n and his Scooby gang take on every supernatural nasty you can imagine, and some you can’t. Numerous short stories in anthologies. First 2 novels available on Amazon, ‘Demon Weather’ and ‘The Werewolf of Lisbon’. Coming soon book 3, ‘Resurrection’.”

You can discover more,  including other great ghostly stories, at Chico’s web-site here: Chico Kidd


I have known David Langford for a scarily long time, and careened off him at many a drunken SF convention. While he has written a number of excellent books, I fear that I’ve gained the most pleasure from his parodies. The Dragonhiker’s Guide to Battlefield Covenant at Dune’s Edge: Odyssey Two began it, and all of Dave’s parodies were eventually collected in the bemusingly-titled He Do the Time Police in Different Voices (2003).


His Dagon Smythe stories are, essentially, contemporary piss-takes of Carnacki. True to British tradition, they commence with a gathering in the pub, not the parlour, where the inner circle hears Smythe’s dubious stories of his latest case, whether they want to or not. And they usually don’t. They also have to buy the drinks.

‘Among our circle that evening was the well-known psychic investigator Dagon Smythe, who preserved his silence but now shuddered theatrically. I recognised the symptoms and took rapid action, crying: “Beastly weather this week, chaps! Would you call it seasonal for the time of year?”

‘But it was too late. Before the razor-sharp wits around the table could pounce upon this always fruitful topic, Smythe interrupted in his peculiarly penetrating tones. “Speaking of prediction… I once dabbled a little in the divinatory arts.”

‘“And you have a tale to tell,” said old Hyphen-Jones with a trace of resignation.’

‘Not Ours to See’, David Langford

There were four initial Dagon Smythe stories, and a number of wicked parodies of Lovecraft, Poe and Conan Doyle (amongst others), plus an extra Dagon in the ebook. It’s good stuff.

timepolHe Do the Time Police in Different Voices

There we have it. Progressions, pastiches and parodies. And it gets even better in the next fortnight!


Coming up we have an exclusive brand-new Carnacki story by author J Patrick Allen, more young turks, an in-depth interview with John C Wright of Night Land fame, some surprising articles by James Bojaciuk and lots of extra fun. You’ve come this far, you might as well carry on…


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