Initially, this feature was going to be called Deserted Graveyard Reads, the reason for this was that I simply reworked the idea initially set up by Roy Plomley for the long-running Desert Island Discs.
I want this to be a platform for EVERYONE within the horror community; authors, publishers, bloggers, reviewers, actors, directors, artists. I could go on, if you work in the genre then you are more than welcome to apply for the job.
For the sake of Twitter characters and in looking for something a little more punchy, I’ve now decided to call this feature The Graveyard Shift. (#GraveyardShift)
The rules are quite simple…
You are invited to imagine yourselves as warden for an old graveyard, and choose eight books, preferably horror/dark genre, to take with you to cover your shift; here you can discuss why you chose the books.
As well as the books, wardens are allowed one song/album to listen to. Again, an explanation for this choice is required.
You must also discuss one luxury item you can bring, which must be inanimate and not allow communication.
If you’d like to take part in The Graveyard Shift then please submit an application to firstname.lastname@example.org
The second shift is about to start and the warden is none other than…
Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell
I could have picked any one of a number of Ramsey Campbell’s books to take with me but Ancient Images ticks so many of my boxes that I simply couldn’t leave home and venture into this deserted graveyard without it.
The story concerns a legendary film made fifty years earlier, starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, which has achieved mythic status as it seems anyone who has ever owned a print of it or worked on it has met a particularly nasty fate. One of these was a friend of a film editor called Sandy Allan who is determined to find the sole remaining missing print. Her search leads her to the strange and mysterious town of Redfield where the powerful forces of an ancient evil await her.
Ramsey Campbell is the gift that keeps on giving and Ancient Images is a powerful story. It’s given me an idea. I have heard of a certain tower in this graveyard. I really must investigate it…Then again, perhaps not.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
“What?” I hear you cry. “But this isn’t a horror novel. It’s…well, it’s Wuthering Heights, for heaven’s sake. Kate Bush running wild-haired across the moors looking as if she just escaped from an asylum, crying out for Heathcliff.”
And you would be right (well, skip the Kate Bush bit). Wuthering Heights is not a horror novel, any more than her sister’s Jane Eyre is, but it is so dark, Gothic and steeped in funereal blacks and greys (to my mind anyway) that whenever I pick up my well-worn copy, I can hear a bell tolling its mournful, repetitive single tone; bong…bong…bong…
It also contains one of the most poignant and lonely final paragraphs in any book I have ever read, set – appropriately – in a graveyard, as the narrator contemplates three significant headstones:
‘I lingered round them under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how anyone could imagine – unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.’
No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill
Decades ago, I used to live in – what was then called – a bedsit. I was eighteen years old, living away from home for the first time, in my first job and not earning a great deal of money. I can easily identify with the protagonist in this riveting and terrifying story.
In No One Gets Out Alive Stephanie Booth is so financially poor, she has to take a room in a neglected and run-down house with a vile landlord – Knacker McGuire (now there’s a name to conjure with!)
But Stephanie has more to worry about than paying her rent. Whispers, footsteps at night, the sounds of young women weeping in the rooms around her.
This is a story that takes hold, grabs you, shakes you up a bit… no, a lot actually…and leaves you exhausted at the end. Perfect for distracting me from the strange wraith-like creatures I can see in the corner of my eye as they drift across this graveyard.
Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand
All my favourite ingredients are here. A mystery, suspense, horror, scares, ghosts, even a suspected crime, all set in an isolated, rundown haunted mansion where members of a rock band, along with their friends and lovers, are brought together to be interviewed by a documentary filmmaker.
Back in the 1970s, the band had stayed there to record the album which would ultimately prove to be their landmark. Their very reason for going there in the first place was sad – one of their founding members had died. More tragedy was to follow when their lead singer mysteriously disappeared while they were at the house. Now, in the present they each recount their memories of that fateful night. Needless to say, no two accounts are the same and trying to decide who is lying and who is telling the truth (if, indeed, any of them are) is a delicious challenge.
There are chills, tension and suspense in this tale and an atmosphere so enveloping it will distract me from my cold and inhospitable surroundings.
The Feast of All Souls by Simon Bestwick
This is a supernatural banquet of hauntings, fractured time, myths, folklore and ancient legends. A haunted house plays a pivotal role as it stands at the gateway between two worlds. Not that you would find anything unusual about the house simply by glancing at it. 378 Collarmill Road is another house on another road in an English suburb – unless you choose to get to know it better as Alice Collier does.
The poor woman has gone through enough already. She thinks that coming back to a place where she was once happy will be the medicine to put her back on track. Someone should have warned her that it is usually a mistake to go back and try and pick up the threads of your former life. Much better to move on.
But Alice didn’t and now she must face whatever has awoken on the other side of the time anomaly. She is alone in the house – or is she?
Bone White by Ronald Malfi
We’re in a graveyard so this is a rather appropriate choice, don’t you think? But in Bone White, the bodies are only the beginning… When old Joe Mallory wanders into town, no one has seen him for years. Suffering from frostbite, sores and wearing blood-soaked clothes, he calmly announces he has killed eight people and will wait outside the church until Val Dremmell – the best this town has for law enforcement – comes to get him. Odd? Crazy? Well this IS Dread’s Hand – a one-time mining town in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness -where folks take care of themselves and know how to keep secrets.
So, when Paul Gallo reads about the murders and arrives to try and find out for himself what happened to his missing twin, the hostility he meets turns to something even more sinister as he begins to explore the frozen wastes. Short days, long nights, and something devilish in the dark forests. Just the thing for me to curl up with.
Those Who Came Before by J.H. Moncrieff
J.H. Moncrieff never disappoints me. I have loved her writing since The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave presented the creepiest panda bear I had ever encountered. Since then, I have journeyed with her all over the world through her stories. Her latest – Those Who Came Before – takes us to Strong Lake, where a group of friends set up camp – rather as I am doing here – but come morning, Reese is the only one left to tell the tale, and a pretty strange one it is too. His friends have all been horrifically butchered and it seems there is only one person who could possibly have committed the atrocities – Reese himself.
But Detective Maria Greyeyes has different ideas and needs to consult her Native American heritage to find the answers. The story takes some fascinating turns – back in time to atrocities committed against the indigenous population, through folklore traditions and the terrifying wendigo. I just hope I don’t meet one of those in this graveyard.
Creature by Hunter Shea
I have long been a fan of Hunter Shea’s work and I couldn’t leave home for any length of time without this one. For me, Creature transcends all his previous books. This is storytelling that takes horror to a different level. It’s scary and suspenseful but it goes much further than that.
Kate’s body has turned against her, with a raft of autoimmune illnesses that ensure levels of excruciating pain on a daily basis. Andrew, her husband, has spent ten years or more trying to ease her agony and the trials of her life in any way he can. Her beloved beagle – Buttons – does his bit as well, never leaving his mistress’s side. But when terror strikes, he behaves strangely and as the threat ratchets up, Andrew is increasingly at his wits’ end while Kate’s suffering only gets worse. Then her brother and his wife arrive and the monster comes out into the open.
Oh this is a story and a half. Fascinating. And so moving.
Choosing just eight books was hard enough and I shall have to find a nice, dry tomb to store them in. Can’t have the damp curling the pages or nasty worms eating them up.
Choosing only one album was almost impossible but I have come up with;
Legacy by David Bowie
Forty tracks that surely must comprise the definitive collection, spanning his career from 1969 until the artist’s death in 2016. These years also occupy the majority of my life and, it seems, there has always been a Bowie song to punctuate some event in my own personal history. Sad to say, there will be no more, but we will always have his music, his unique talent.
I can listen to this album, look up at the stars and summon the Starman or wonder if there is indeed Life on Mars, or maybe count the gravestones here and calculate how many times the words, Ashes to Ashes have been recited as yet another body is interred.
I can think of no more fitting album to listen to as I patrol my grounds and ensure the living and the dead remain in their rightful realms.
As for my luxury item:
I am assuming a means with which I can listen to my album is already included, so a set of really warm thermal underwear would help to keep the frostbite at bay, preferably in red.
Thank you for my interview and for the guided tour. I must say, you went all out there. The actor playing the ghost was really convincing. My heart nearly burst out of my chest when he popped his head round that tree.
What was that? You don’t employ any actors?
Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter – an Empire Smith Corona. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.
The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels and novellas, including her latest – The Garden of Bewitchment (Published by Flame Tree Press February 2020), The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients, Damned by the Ancients – The Devil’s Serenade, The Darkest Veil, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and Linden Manor. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Haunted Are These Houses and Midnight in the Graveyard.
She lives in Southport with her longsuffering husband and black cat (who remembers that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt and sees no reason why that practice should not continue).
When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys rambling around stately homes, circles of standing stones and travelling to favourite haunts such as Vienna and Orkney.
The Garden of Bewitchment
Flame Tree Press, published 20th February 2020
Don’t play the game.
In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women. Evelyn no longer knows who – or what – to believe. And time is running out.
Kendall Reviews Cemetery – List Of Applicants
Brennan La Faro
Matthew R. Davis