Between the Tracks: Tales from the Ghost Train anthology out now! (I’m in it!)

between

Delighted to announce that I have a short story in a newly released anthology called Between the Tracks: Tales from the Ghost Train which is available now.  The editor is fellow Australian Steve Dillon, and he’s put together a cracker of a book.

Snag a copy of the hardcover, (which has a 6 page comic included) or the tpb or paperback at  Amazon or the Book Depository

The theme is all things to do with trains, and features works from writers such as Ramsey Campbell and M.R. James, which makes me enormously proud (and a little freaked out) to be included with these wonderful authors of the weird and horrific.

 

 

 

 

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Two stories by me available from Pseudopod

It’s been about seven years since two of my stories, The Copse and Widdershins, were made available as free audio readings from the horror site, Pseudopod.

The Copse sees a family relocate due to the GFC and come up against strange doings in rural England.  As a listener said on the Pseudopod forums:

I liked this one quite a bit. To me, anyway, it’s not really about what happens, because it’s pretty clear from the beginning that our poor protagonists are doomed — if this were a movie, I’d be yelling at the screen for that family to get out of the friggin’ house! — but more about anticipating the slow unreeling of their inevitable doom. As others have pointed out, it’s about atmosphere, and the kind of horror that is based not in shock or gross-out but gradual, mounting dread. I thought the author pulled this off quite well, here.

Widdershins is a creepy little story about a fellow who may be on a path that unmakes the world.  That should turn out okay, you know? As another listener said:

I loved this one. The hints about weird things having happened on previous occasions of the ritual were very effective. The characters were fleshed out just enough to involve you in the events. The idea that a man could unseat reality simply by walking in a certain direction at a certain time was the brilliant part. It felt like a nightmare, and the transition was handled perfectly. Also, the images at the end were horrifically beautiful–surreal and suggestive rather than blatantly monstrous.

Click the links on each of the titles in the first paragraph and you’ll be exposed, like a dose of hard radiation, to these two early horror stories from me.  I like them and hope you do too!

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The Havoc Files 3 – released!

Get the book my short story Eve of the Fomorians appears in here, from Candy Jar Books.

The range editor, Andy Frankham-Allan talks about the book and the contributors in this video.

 

 

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Time and Again coming from Candy Jar

I have a new short story appearing in an upcoming release from Candy Jar Books.

A quasi-sequel to the Doctor Who television adventure Timelash, Time and Again will appear as a special bonus in John Peel’s upcoming novella The Life of Evans arriving in March 2017.

I had a short story, Eve of the Fomorians, come out over Halloween 2016 and made available to subscribers of the range.

Happily, the editor of the Alistair Lethbridge Stewart range Candy Jar, Andy Frankham Allen liked my story and commissioned me to do another one.

Time and Again not only revists Karfel, and one of the key rebels who toppled the infamous Borad, but it’s actual remit is to set up a series of novellas, under the umbrella title, Travers & Wells.

Here’s the press release.  Travers & Wells will be a novella series inspired by the works of HG Wells.  It promises to be a very exciting range indeed.

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Only the Guilty Live – a review at Black Gate

A pleasingly positive review of my sword and sorcery novella, Only the Guilty Live, appeared overnight at the fantasy writing site, Black Gate

Have a read here and many thanks to Fletcher Vredenburgh for his reaction to the story.

 

 

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Only the Guilty Live goes live!

Inspired by David Gemmell, a writer lamentably forgotten since his untimely death salmost a decade ago, I’ve written and just had published a new story, an 18,000 word novella, called Only the Guilty Live online at Sword and Sorcery Magazine.

I grew up on Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings, and Gemmell (and of course Tolkien) but it was Gemmell, particularly his earliest works, which captivated me.  I suppose you have to be a teenager male to get the full impact of alpha males like Tenaka Khan, or Waylander, or the greatest of them all, Druss the Legend.

In the spirit of Druss, who led the defenders of the siege of Dros Delnoch against the Nadir Horde in Gemmell’s first, and best book, Legend, I wrote Only the Guilty Live.  Instead of a tale about a siege, however, my story is about the hero of that siege, and what came after for him.  Or, as the introduction says,’A soldier haunted by survivor’s guilt leads a dangerous mission into a besieged city.’

It’s much more than that – it’s a pretty dark fantasy story, with a damaged lead character leading a group of equally damaged people into the heart of a siege.  There’s fighting aplenty, a sorcerer and a creature so dark some of my friends could only look at me after reading the story and shake their heads.

Beyond that, I think it’s one of my best stories and mixes two of my greatest reading loves – exciting action filled fantasy tinged with dark, dark horror.

For those looking into the writing process, I began it in early 2016, spent about three months writing it, then spent the rest of the year being diverted by other projects before I knuckled down and did a series of massive edits.  I’d like to thank a friend of mine, Clint, for reading the story and offering some very perceptive feedback – there’s a lost scene somewhere on my hard drive that he rightly pointed out was probably going a bit too far.  Thanks, mate!

Okay.  Enough wittering.  The story is free, so go read the damn thing and tell me what you think either here or via my twitter handle @dread_sinister

 

 

 

 

 

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Let slip the Dogs of War and pre-order Havoc Files 3!

Candy Jar Press, through its Lethbridge Stewart range presents The Havoc Files 3, their latest, limited edition short story collection.  It brings together previously published short stories from 2016, plus new material, including my Hallowe’en spookfest, Eve of the Fomorians.

Pre-order here and have a read of part of the press release:

Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce its latest volume of The HAVOC Files, collecting short stories from late 2016 (in print for the first time) and brand-new exclusive material!

candy_jar_thf3_smallThe HAVOC Files 3 contains five short stories only previously available in digital format and released late-2016: The Last Duty by Christopher Bryant; Eve of the Fomorians by Robert Mammone; The Wishing Bazaar by Sharon Bidwell; The Feast of Evans by Simon A Forward, and Home for Christmas by the Author Collective. It also contains exclusive brand-new stories, including episode two of the three-part novella, The Lost Skin by Andy Frankham-Allen (episode one of which was published in The HAVOC Files 2).

Head of Publishing, Shaun Russell says: “We always enjoy putting these collections together, but we’re nearing a point where we have less previously-released short stories. Fortunately, this gives us the opportunity to release brand new material, making this latest collection an even more sought after product.”

Includes:

The Bledoe Cadets and the Bald Man of Pengriffen by Tim Gambrell
The Last Duty by Christopher Bryant
Eve of the Fomorians by Robert Mammone
The Wishing Bazaar by Sharon Bidwell
The Feast of Evans by Simon A Forward
Home for Christmas by The Author Collective
Slouching Towards Det-Sen by Shaun Collins 
Lucy Wilson by Sue Hampton

and

The Lost Skin by Andy Frankham-Allen
(part two of a brand-new novella)

Pre-order now!

 

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Grave Warnings horror anthology released!

I’ve been part of a trio editing an anthology of horror stories for Pencil Tip Publishing.

Five stories, by five exciting authors, are contained in Grave Warnings, released in the last few days.

If you like horror from the quieter end of the spectrum, Grave Warnings is for you.  And check out that fantastic cover by Jack Drewell!

grave-warnings-front-cover-jack-drewell-nov-2016.jpg

Here’s the blurb…

Five windows into Hell, five doorways into Damnation.

From Pencil Tip Publishing comes Grave Warnings, an anthology featuring five upcoming authors of the strange and weird. Journey into the eerie emptiness of the Australian outback, where a researcher gets too close to the insects he’s cataloguing. Travel back to the blood drenched streets of Paris during the Great Terror, where ghosts haunt the survivors. A haunted house lays claim to fresh victims, while a strange new housemate worms his way into his landlord’s life. While a deceased estate in Victorian England brings nightmares to those linked to it.

Grave Warnings features stories from: Sarah Parry, Hamish Crawford, Jodie van de Wetering, Craig Charlesworth and Hannah Parry. Edited by Bob Furnell, Robert Mammone & Jez Strickley.

I’d like to thank Bob Furnell, owner of Pencil Tip, for the opportunity to work on the collection, and the other editor, Jez Strickley, for his sterling work in helping bring it all together.  A true team effort, and we all hope it shows in the quality of the stories we selected.

You can go to Pencil Tip Publishing, or head to Lulu.com to order.

 

 

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Eve of the Fomorians reviewed!

As you all know, my short novella, Eve of the Fomorians, was made available to subscribers of Candy Jar Books Lethbridge Stewart range in time for Halloween.

A review, via the guys at the Traveling the Vortex podcast, has now become available.  Check out episode 308 to download.  The review starts in the last fifteen minutes.  It’s a positive review and although they confuse me with the cover illustrator, I can forgive that as they’re nice about the story!

 

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Joe Dever 1956-2016

When I was a lad, I fell in love with a number of writers, particularly fantasy writers, in the early to mid 80s.  Donaldson, Eddings and Gemmell are all authors I still go back to today – each different in their own way, but still resonating for me even now.

Another author I loved was Joe Dever.  Dever passed away on the 29th of November, another victim of the killing spree that is 2016.  Dever wrote a long running series of what became known as gamebooks (solo roleplaying adventures contained within the covers of a book – start with Choose Your Own Adventures, but then expand out into simple game mechanics involving dice or random number generators as your character battles through a hostile landscape to fame and fortune.  Key examples are Fighting Fantasy and JH Brennan’s Grailquest) based around the title character Lone Wolf.

Dever had developed the world of Magnamund in the late 70s as a setting for his D&D campaign.  Later, he repurposed it for his Lone Wolf books, where you adventure to avenge your fallen comrades, and re-establish the Kai Order, warrior monks who help defend the kingdom of Sommerlund.

The setting is vast, the history deep, the adventures a great deal of fun.  Whereas the Fighting Fantasy world was largely developed ad hoc and only later was it all shoved together to give it coherency, Magnamund was developed from day one and presents a coherent fantasy world with different cultures and peoples and histories and gods and villains.  It’s really a remarkable achievement.

One indicator of Dever’s skill and imagination as a writer was that even while you were focussing on the adventure at hand, you had a sense that away from the storyline, the rest of Magnamund was busy with its own concerns.  This fed into the sensation that you, as Lone Wolf, were part of something far larger than just your adventures.

I encountered the first book, Flight from the Dark, one cloudy afternoon in 1984.  The moody cover, featuring Lone Wolf standing looking at the reader while standing in front of a forest (in later books, Lone Wolf’s back would be to the reader, presenting the idea that it’s YOU on the cover) is immediately intriguing.  Internal illustrations on the early books were by Gary Chalk (who designed the earliest Talisman boardgame) and are as evocative today as they were over 30 years ago.

The series allows for development of the character as he picks up new skills each book.  Unlike most other gamebook series, Lone Wolf followed a storyline with the same character for the first 18 books, which allows for greater buy in from the reading audience.  The later books follow a different character in the same setting.

Dever also wrote the Freeway Fighter set of four book set in a post apocalyptic America dominated by road warriors, and the Combat Hero books where you and a friend play against each other with paired books.

Due to declining sales, the Lone Wolf series finished with book 28 in the late 90s, but not before selling over 12 million copies.  The enduring love for the series saw them re-published, first electronically and for free via the Project Aon, and then later in handsome hardcover editions.  Dever himself set up Holmgard Press to publish the much anticipated books 29-32, with The Storms of Chai only recently coming out.  Dever’s books found new fans in Germany and Italy, and indeed he had to bow out of attending a convention in Italy due to the surgery he underwent before his death.

Dever, who had suffered in recent years from illness, passed away at the age of 60, only fifteen years older than myself.  While that is sobering, it doesn’t outweigh the joy I felt and still feel today when each new book came along, containing the promise of excitement and adventure and a glimpse of a vast backstory.  The continuing interest in Magnamund and his books, which extended into computer and board games and latterly a full blown RPG, testify to the man’s ability to writing engaging stories that tapped into a deep desire for adventure.

Joe Dever 1956-2016

 

 

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