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.
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
A new shift is about to begin. The warden for the week’s #GraveyardShift is…
Black Angel Press: A Brand New Indie Horror Press
Darkness Calls & Shadow Bound launches a new women-run indie horror press :- Black Angel Press that will be headed by Alyson Faye and Stephanie Ellis.
The aim is to publish more women – and those who identify as women. As well as publication, it will be a forum for women to connect, to advise and to promote the sisterhood.
There will be features/articles focussing on the writing/submitting/publishing experience with lists of recommended publishers.
Alyson and Stephanie have more collaborations in the pipeline, with each other and with incredibly talented women horror writers including, Theresa Derwin and Ruschelle Dillon.
A Black Angel Press website will be going live shortly, with lots of exciting projects being prepped for 2021.
I have picked books not just from the many excellent horror novels I’ve read in the last two years, but titles which I first read, say 40 years ago, whose stories still resonate with me and I keep returning to.
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
I first read this aged about 11 (1977) borrowed from my local library in Birmingham, UK and the story and ideas engulfed my imagination and stayed with me over the years. I’ve reread it several times, and the other four books in the quintet under the same umbrella title, (Greenwitch, Over Sea, Under Stone, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree). It has been a huge influence on my own writing too. The battle between Light and Dark being an eternal theme.
At aged 11 it opened doorways which I’d never been through before. I wanted to be Will Stanton, the feisty teen protagonist. I was terrified by the Rider, and entranced by Merriman. I enjoyed the other novels in the series, especially Greenwitch, but it was Rising which swept me away into other worlds.
This is the cover image of my much-thumbed paperback, which has sat for over 40 years on my bookcase.
Astercote by Penelope Lively
I loved all of Penelope Lively’s ghost/timeslip stories for teens and her fiction inspired me to write my own timeslip tales later in life. I reread Lively’s novels again and again, and last year I revisited Astercote, where modern-day children are drawn into the titular fourteenth-century ghost village which was consumed by the Black Death. (Timely now with the Covid crisis gripping the world and a reminder that plague has been with us for centuries.)
In the modern-day village in the Cotswolds, the villagers fall ill, crosses mysteriously appear on doors, (this detail really unnerved me as a child, I remember), and the medieval mindset begins to infiltrate the twentieth-century. Can the children save their village?
The sense of history, isolation, claustrophobia and being cut off stayed with me. I was a very urban child living on a modern housing estate so this was another world to me.
Lively’s elegant but accessible prose, her feisty teen characters, her way of time-shifting so that the ghosts are as natural and real as the living humans, and her touches of humour shine through.
For me, she is the top of the tree for these sort of stories. Yet to be beaten, still a benchmark writer.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Gotta have a King in the list. In my twenties, I read all of his early works but was most impacted by his vampire tale, Salem’s Lot. It was probably the first vampire story I’d read by choice and enjoyed. I don’t recall reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, till I was older again.
Danny Glick tapping at the window to be let in, (cos vamps have to be invited- a piece of vamp lore that I’ve clung to) stayed with me for weeks after reading it. King’s loose verbalised writing style was a revelation, after reading so many prosey British novels. He opened my eyes to a new style of writing and the sheer size and scope of his backdrops, his use of location settings and the way he hooks the reader straight away.
I had never read anyone like King before. Sadly, for me, the later King novels were switch-offs for me. Give me Salem or Cujo anyday.
Great opening line:- ‘Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.’
Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
I had a spell in my mid-thirties onwards for about 6 years where I read a lot of dark fiction/thrillers/supernatural mysteries by a mixed bunch of mainly American writers. Preston/Child dominated the genre with their best sellers. I prefer their early collaborations, such as Thunderhead (1999) to their later efforts starring Agent Prendergast, who I’ve never taken to and is dull as ditchwater.
Thunderhead is set in the savage deserts of S. Utah where a motley team of archaeologists, (led by a woman, Nora, which I rather liked) go hunting for the lost city of the Anasazi Indians and Nora for her long-missing father.
What they find in the city of Quivira is beyond their imagination and hopes, and the past casts long shadows. This is both an exciting trek across a barren land, where the supernatural shadows the group, and a clever weaving of Anasazi legend and facts into the narrative. It is pacy, fun and entertaining, pulpy sure, but well written and way less formulaic than some the authors’ later novels.
Ghost Song by Sarah Rayne
I’ve read all of Rayne’s back catalogue, some titles more than once, after I discovered her a decade or more ago. I’ve also been lucky enough to interview her (online). If I had to pick one of her supernatural historical mystery thrillers, I’d go with Ghost Song. Which Sarah told me is her personal favourite too.
Set in Edwardian times and the modern day, (which is Rayne’s usual plot structure), this time the haunted building is a derelict former music hall, the Tarleton. There are always clues in the present day lying around often in documents, archives or even embedded in music lyrics, which lead the protagonist (here Robert Fallon) into the dark dark past, where murders, crimes and secrets reach out long grubby tentacles sucking in the protagonist and putting them in real danger.
Rayne is expert at plotting the two time-lines and interweaving them with subtle hints and clues, and she is very good at giving you the taste and mood of a particular era. You can almost eat off her gruesome table.
Her books are filled with macabre goings on, supernatural happenings, grisly murders and horrific skin-crawling scenes. I love them. They are my go-to dark fiction comfort read books.
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
I first read this about five years ago, and it might be Y.A. targeted, but ignore that. It’s totally fab and works very well as an adult horror read, especially, if like me, you have a weakness for dolls, both in terms of them creeping you out and reading about them. A visit to the Ilkley Toy Museum at dusk in winter is – eerie and unnerving. All those eyes staring back at you, surrounded by curls- some of human hair.
Anyways –moving on – this novel ticks so many of my boxes for supernatural stories – talking creepy dolls, isolated haunted house on the Isle of Skye, (Dunvegan School for Girls) which closed after a series of murders there. A family torn apart by death, and secrets. Ouija boards, a ghost of a little girl, and scenes of creeping tension building to the exciting menacing finale.
Do you want to go play with Charlotte? Is the question you will be asking yourself.
Dark Echo by F G Cottam
This was probably the first Cottam I read, and though I’ve devoured his whole oeuvre, this 2012 novel remains my favourite. It struck me as unusual as the subject was a haunted cursed boat, not a house. In the middle of the ocean where do you flee to? There is no escape.
I remember how lovingly Cottam depicted the luxurious interior of the boat, the WW1 background linking to the modern-day, and devil worship and family secrets abound. I think I might just go read it again.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2015.
There is no one writing with a voice quite like Hardinge’s. She is so unique and memorable. When you are in her world you are totally immersed and embraced by her gorgeous language. This is my fave of her books. Y.A. again, but way beyond that in its scope, ideas, language and storytelling. I do like my Victorian/Edwardian set novels, so I was a sucker for this one. In this restrictive era the teen protagonist, Faith, challenges the female stereotypes of the time. Her father, a man of the cloth and a scientist, (no contradictions there then) is found dead, (murder/suicide?) – a tragedy which topples Faith’s world, both internally and externally.
Interwoven into the history and real-world references (it is set just after Darwin’s Evolution book came out) is the magical fantasy of the titular Lie Tree, a brilliant invention of Hardinge which allows her to question the nature of truth and lies.
It is a most original premise worth the slow pace and the build.
My music choice has been tweaked by special permission of the boss. For me it’s all about films – so I’ve picked a movie soundtrack Bernard Hermann’s 1960 score to Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Best track: ‘The Murder’
If I’d lying I’d say – ‘oh yes, of course, I’d take a stationary exercise bike.’ Truthfully, stuff that, it would be a rucksack full of milk chocolate. Slabs of the stuff – enough to build a house. A chocolate hut, in fact, to sleep in.
In Darkness Calls there are ten tales of the supernatural, the macabre and the weird for you to enjoy.
They are set in Yorkshire – in a museum on Christmas Eve night where an ancient evil stalks, in a derelict church in Halifax where ghost children roam, in a Gothic cemetery where a boy finds himself stone-struck, and in other stories, women transform into magical powerful beings, and Krampus visits a Victorian family.
In two new stories, never before published, Plague visits a village riding a dragon and a little girl takes a trip on a ghost train at the funfair, which is a once in a lifetime experience.
Here in one place are four gothic horrors from the pens of writers Stephanie Ellis and Alyson Faye.
From the grime and misery of London’s East End in Ellis’ Asylum of Shadows and The Face Collector to the supernatural darkness of rural England in Faye’s Night of the Rider and When Dead Eyes Weep, you will find experience the chill that only this branch of literature can give.
Alyson lives in West Yorkshire, UK with her husband, teen son and four rescue animals. Her fiction has been published widely in print anthologies – DeadCades, Women in Horror Annual 2, Trembling with Fear 1 &2, Coffin Bell Journal 1, Stories from Stone, Ellipsis, Rejected ed. Erin Crocker) and in many ezines, but most often on the Horror Tree site, in Siren’s Call and The Casket of Fictional Delights.
Demain published her 1940’s set noir crime novella, Maggie of my Heart in 2019. (Her homage to film noir).
Currently she has stories in the Strange Girls anthology (ed. Azzurra Nox), Burning Love from Things in the Well, and in two Gypsum Sound Tales anthologies:- Amongst Friends and Colp: Black and Grey.
The NHS charity anthology, Diabolica Britannica, which is at the top of the Amazon bestseller horror charts contains a story by Alyson, set in Ilkley. She has a dark poem in the upcoming poetry anthology, Air, from Tyche Books.
Her work has been read on BBC Radio, local radio, on several podcasts (e.g. Ladies of Horror), posted on YouTube and placed in competitions.
More information about Black Angel Press will be announced shortly.
Her blog is at www.alysonfayewordpress.com
Her publications are listed on her Amazon author’s page: HERE