{Graveyard Shift) Steve Toase, Author Of The Superb Collection ‘To Drown In Dark Water’ is this week’s warden.

You are invited to look after the Kendall Reviews Cemetary, and to 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 gavin@kendallreviews.com

A new shift is about to begin. The warden for the week’s #GraveyardShift is…

Steve Toase

To drown in dark water …

The debut short story collection from Steve Toase heralds the arrival of a transcendent visionary of modern horror, a melding of the beauty and terror of Clive Barker and Tanith Lee, with Steve’s distinctive visceral and vibrant voice. Containing 6 new dark visions and a curated selection of reprints, including 3 stories from the acclaimed Best Horror of the Year series, To Drown in Dark Water is a veritable feast of gruesome delights.


The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

There was always going to be some Wheatley in here. I grew up in the late seventies and was surrounded by horror books with lurid covers. You know the type, probably featuring a doll or some kind of insect-eating a screaming person’s face. Amongst all this gore the Dennis Wheatley occult books stood out. I read The Devil Rides Out fairly young, probably before I was thirteen, and by my mid-teens had collected all of Dennis Wheatley’s books, (which far outnumber the amount I’ve actually read, but I like collecting). The combination of black magic, danger and severe warnings struck just the right note, and even now many of my own stories have a hint of that occult flavour.

Don’t get me wrong, Wheatley isn’t without many, many, problems, but he definitely laid the groundwork for my later interests.

Weaveworld by Clive Barker

When I was 14 a friend took me to the local writers’ circle. That evening someone read the start to chapter 1 of Weaveworld (you can find that first bit online). I was captivated. This was fantasy but not in another world, instead on a housing estate where someone stepped off the pavement into magic. It was gory, grotesque, beautiful, absorbing, and lead to a lifelong love of mythic fiction where the beauty and horror occur in our world rather than in a Tolkienesque land with the serial numbers filed off. It also started a long love affair with Clive Barker’s work, and I still maintain that In The Hills, The Cities is one of the finest horror stories ever written.

Lavondyss by Robert Holdstock

Mythago Wood is an amazing book, and one I’ve returned to several times over the years, but for me Lavondyss, the second book in the series, is just a touch better, and definitely the one I would choose to keep with me.

Maybe it’s the way that Tallis interacts with the woodland, maybe it’s the storytelling is more developed. I think in part it is down to the ten masks Tallis fashions that create hollowing, but I think in the main it is down to Lavondyss being far more grounded in the dirt and stone and soil of Mythago Wood than the first book. My background is in archaeology, and there I still feel that it’s important to let the scent of the leaf mould rise from a story, especially one such as Lavondyss which is concerned with folklore and myths. I’d recommend reading both the first book and Lavondyss, but if I had to choose one it would be Tallis’s story.

Wasp Factory by Iain M Banks

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different reasons than I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim. That’s my score to date. Three. I haven’t killed anybody for years, and don’t intend to ever again. It was just a stage I was going through.’

That blurb sold me on a book grotesque and horrific and hard-hitting that had a huge impact on me both as a reader and a writer. From the monochrome cover to the descriptions of the Wasp Factory itself, Iain Banks’s first novel is a masterclass in claustrophobic real-life horror.

Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter

This one is in danger of being my Abba Greatest Hits, but I don’t care. I love this book, from the twilight feel of Carter’s reminisces about Japan to her discussions of John Ford’s ‘Tis A Pity She’s a Whore. Yet the core of the book for me is The Bloody Chamber, and the retellings of fairy tales that really captured my imagine. I have a very different style to Angela Carter, but I read these stories and want to be able to write with such depth and language, whether that’s the voice of Puss in Boots in Puss-in-Boots, or the contrasting retellings of Beauty and the Beast in The Courtship of Mr Lyon, and The Tiger’s Bride. These are chocolate cake stories, rich and dense, to be indulged and savoured one at a time.

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

Priya is undoubtedly one of the best horror writers in the world at the moment. Her stories are beautiful and unsettling like a bowl of fruit covered in dust. You can tell something isn’t quite right under the surface, but don’t know what until it’s too late. If I had to pick two stories from Priya’s collection Fabulous Beasts that I love, they would be The Sunflower Seed Man, a story of loss and how we deal with it, and the rich, decadence at the heart of The Nature of Bees, the main character Vivien so beautifully written.

The Other Side by Alfred Kubin

I’ve only just read this, and I would take it so I could read it again. A member of Der Blaue Reiter, Alfred Kubin was better known for his artwork, and only wrote this one novel. The Other Side was written following the death of Kubin’s father, and is a complex, unsettling journey to the Dream Realm, where people act without thinking, under the sleeping eye of Claus Patera. The Dream Realm is unsettling enough before the arrival of The American, but his appearance disrupts this strange country even further. There are hints of Italo Calvino here, and it’s no surprise the book was an influence on China Miéville. If I was to take a copy to the graveyard I would like to try and read it in German so I could get the full nuance of the original language. Unfortunately, my German is not that good yet, and I would need to take a German dictionary too. I guess that would be against the rules, so for now I’d just pack my English translation.

Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion

When I was younger I read a lot of Hunter S Thompson, particularly his book about the Hells Angels. HST captures what was going on in the Bay Area by kicking the door down and bombastically striding in with a gun in one hand and a cocaine spoon in the other.

Joan Didion wrote about Haight Ashbury with a very different approach. As she says in Slouching Toward Bethlehem “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.”

I constantly get the feeling that she wants to find the magic in the hippie scene but sees only the tarnished surfaces and the mildewed walls. The damaged people. She sees a different type of horror in the world, and her journalism inspires me now as much as HST did when I was a teenager.


The Ghost of Cain by New Model Army

It’s a dark basement club in the 90’s, I’m too young to be there, and one of my Dad’s friends asks the DJ to play 51st State by New Model Army. Hearing that one song did so much for me.

The Ghost of Cain is an album with plenty of horror; the damage to the earth, the decimation of working communities, the bomb in the corner, and the realisation that if you don’t take action yourself then no one will do it for you. There is menace and threat here, both in terms of the lyrics and the music, but there is also defiance. “We were singing in the rain, like we invented singing.” This is an album that says we know that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we’re going to come to terms with that in our own way.

From hearing that single song I went on to spend a lot of time listening to New Model Army, seeing them live and finding some of my best friends through their music, but this album? This was my gateway drug.

Luxury Item

DAB Radio

I work at home a lot, and have for over a decade now. If it wasn’t for radio I don’t think I would have got through all those solo hours in front of the screen. Radio differs from TV in that there is a weird relationship where it is only you and the DJ.

I mainly listen to BBC6 Music during the day, which has a really broad remit in terms of music, and the main way to access that is via DAB radio. Whether it is Lauren Laverne and Mary Ann Hobbs on a weekday, or Cerys Matthews on a Sunday morning, this really is my anchor to the world. They also have very good programming overnight, which would be excellent for getting me through a shift minding the dead.

To Drown In Dark Water

To drown in dark water …

The debut short story collection from Steve Toase heralds the arrival of a transcendent visionary of modern horror, a melding of the beauty and terror of Clive Barker and Tanith Lee, with Steve’s distinctive visceral and vibrant voice. Containing 6 new dark visions and a curated selection of reprints, including 3 stories from the acclaimed Best Horror of the Year series, To Drown in Dark Water is a veritable feast of gruesome delights.

You can buy To Drown In Dark Water from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Steve Toase

I am a Yorkshire born author living in Munich, Germany. In my stories Gods are found in boxes, trees hitch-hike and bears play chess in sunlit plazas.

You can find out more about Steve by visiting his official website www.stevetoase.wordpress.com

You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevetoase

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