___WORDS FROM ME_____________________________________

supernatural tales 44 review

I just noticed a tidy little review of Supernatural Tales 44, which as I mentioned in my previous post, contains my short story "Ghost Stories". If you're interested and fancy a read,  here's the review.

ghost stories

It's been a while since I've had a fresh story published outside of one of my own collections. And, actually, in this case it is for wont of trying. I'd been getting fed up of chasing down editors to see if that story of mine they'd had on the slush pile/ in their "going to be included some time" folder was ever going to spread its arms wide, show some teeth, and stun the world any time soon. The record for one of my pieces being on the brink of being published is eight years and counting. So I kind of gave up subbing. Too much else was going on (see blog post "housekeeping"), and anyway, I had a viable way of getting stories out if I wanted to (see here). I was content to carry on doing my thing, as and when it was possible for me to do so - admittedly to little or no noticeable effect on the wider world. But that was okay. That was fine. Things were cool. Fight all you like, but it's hard to press your shoulder against chance and circumstance - what the ancients might have called Fate - and then dig your heels in and push and expect to get a result. So yeah, I was blithely doing what I was doing, and didn't really expect anything to change.

Cue David Longhorn.

Earlier this year a notice popped up on my twitter account saying I'd a Direct Message awaiting me. Swirling the little pointer arrow around on the screen, I opened it up. It was David, wondering if I'd anything I might like to submit to his journal (and surprisingly still one of the best kept secrets in UK speculative fiction) Supernatural Tales.

I've been lucky enough to have had a few stories appear under David's stewardship of ST. You don't turn down an opportunity to submit lightly.

Straight away I opened up the files on my PC to see if I had anything of the right flavour for David's journal. A couple of pieces looked like they might - at a push - be close enough to squeeze in, but I wasn't convinced. Mm, thunked I, it's not looking good. Nearly everything I'd written recently was either SF, fantasy, or mainstreamish-slipstreamy stuff. Then I noticed a tale I'd yet to second draft, called, somewhat appropriately, "Ghost Stories." Okay, that had  to  be worth a look. I opened the file, and much to my relief, it was. I gave it a second draft, and then cut as much as I could, and polished things up, and I'm pretty sure that I had sent it to David by close of play.

The good news - for me - was that David liked it enough to include in a future issue. And now, at least for some of us, the future has arrived. Issue 44 of Supernatural Tales contains "Ghost Stories", as well as fiction by the always excellent Steve Duffy, Victoria Day, Michael Kelly, James Machen, and Sam Dawson, who has also produced the cover art.

I can't lie. It's nice to see my stuff in the company of other writers' work again.

You can buy a paperback of Supernatural Tales 44 here. Get it as an epub ebook for ereaders here. And as a Kindle ebook here.

reading and reviewing walking horatio

“It is a privilege to be reviewed by D.F. Lewis.” Nicholas Royle.

It is. An absolute honour. Over the last years, D.F. Lewis has turned reviewing books into something like performance art, marrying criticism with literary synchronicity and real-life crossovers. The result can sometimes be stunning, infuriating, exhilarating, perplexing, and luminous all at the same time. I have had the good fortune to have had a couple of short stories reviewed by him in the past, but this is the first time he has taken his considerable talents and intellect to one of my full-length works. I am pleased that he has found something of worth in my book.

Here is his real-time review of WALKING HORATIO.

To read it via that link, you might have to click on “Leave A Comment”. But you don’t have to comment yourself. It just opens up the comments thread, where the review appeared one day at a time, over the period of his reading.

I’d just like to add my thanks not only to D.F. Lewis for taking the time to review the book in such a way, and so generously, but also to Tony Lovell for bringing the book to D.F.’s attention in the first place. During the lockdown, it’s been a genuine pleasure following the review. Thank you, both.

Here are the links to the paperback of WALKING HORATIO:

walking horatio

One morning towards the end of September, my cousin Leo appeared at my door and handed over a brown heap of fur that had a tail at one end, a wet nose at the other, and a tongue that stuck out and quivered like a rubber carpet in an earthquake.

I wrote that sentence a long time ago. I thought they were the first words in a short story. But for some reason the character of Horatio the dog and “I”, the unnamed narrator of the piece, didn’t want to say goodbye to me. Or for that matter, me to them. I wrote what I thought was going to be the second tale of a trilogy, and that when I finished the third tale that would be the end of things. A neat little triptych of left-of-field short stories. Cool. I could put them in a collection some time in the future.

Except the third story, which would have rounded things off, never happened.

Whenever I sat down to write it, other things happened instead. And they kept happening – between other projects and amidst the general trauma of life – a chapter at a time, over the course of maybe fifteen years. Until what I had was a book, sort of by surprise.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple, but it’s as close to the truth as I can explain it. There were rewrites, and trimming, and editing, and all the rest, naturally. It didn’t just spontaneously appear as a coherent narrative, perfectly set out and written (hell, nothing’s ever perfectly written, and over the course of such a long writing period there were many tricky things to deal with), but it felt like something of a gift all the same. Almost without realising it was happening, there was a book full of Horatio, and I’m very pleased about that.

We meet “I” and Horatio in the book, and they have adventures and lazy days, and the sun rises and the sun sets, and there are bones to be consumed and books to be read, and walks, plenty of walks, to be taken, and friendships and life to enjoy, or if you can’t enjoy it then to at least accept it and be okay about things, as much as you can be.

I think it’s a pretty decent book. But then maybe I would do. I'm pleased with it.

It's my hope that you'll give it a go, and that if you do then you like it too.

The book is currently available in paperback only, and stretches to just shy of 300 pages. Fingers crossed, an ebook edition will appear in the future.

Here are some links.

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