Until relatively recently, ‘the independent horror press scene’ was really shorthand for ‘the American independent horror press scene’. The material published in the United Kingdom, while not bereft of quality where the writing was concerned, just didn’t compare to the quality of production and variety of consumer choice seen in America. Partly, this was down to the recovering state of the genre – a faster process in America, where the consumers are more plentiful. Partly, this was down to investment. In the US, for years, there have been outfits such as Cemetery Dance, Delirium Books, Necessary Evil Press, and many more, all catering to readers of dark fiction seeking what the shelves of the bookstore were not providing. That might have been more esoteric horrors, or more sophisticated and subtle ones – the potential range is quite vast, and these ‘small presses’ strove to offer it. The UK couldn’t compare. When I was having my (to date) most successful period of writing and publication, it was the American market I was most often appearing in.
At some point in the last five years, the UK have shoved back. Don’t get me wrong, the American independent press is still bigger than the UK, but suddenly we’re not looking like the poor relation. There are individuals to thank for this – Christopher Teague, Gary Fry, Peter Crowther, Andy Cox, Emma Barnes, and more. Suddenly, it’s feasible for a writer to be credibly published in the United Kingdom, in a genre small press.
I don’t really know when the turning point was – probably it was a gradual evolution. Presses that were testing the waters and discovering themselves seem to have matured and found a new confidence, while those who were powering forth (a handful, like PS Publishing), have taken ever braver steps. However, the point crystallised for me today, following the delivery of issue one of Black Static, a remarkable and intelligent new horror fiction magazine from TTA Press, and the first in the Gray Matter series of novellas from Gray Friar Press (Rain by Conrad Williams). Sharp, intelligent, almost dangerous looking publications, that give you a little thrill when you open the mail, and a bigger one when you’re reading.
On receipt of these little marvels, I realised that for the first time in as long as I can remember, probably ever, there is more British independently published fiction in my bedroom than American. The photo above is from my shelves.
And it’s all good stuff. Represented above, you can see books by PS Publishing, Gray Friar Press, Pendragon Press, TTA Press, and Nemonymous. There are many missing (Mortbury Press, Humdrumming, Snowbooks, more) whose books I read this year, and which languish in my attic while I fantasise about a library annexe.
Do me a favour. Further the trend. I guarantee that the links I provide below are publishers of good (very good) fiction. If you buy and don’t agree, drop me a line and we’ll talk about how I can make it up to you.
Obviously, the first thing you’re going to buy is Choices, from Pendragon Press, because I’m in it, alongside a British Fantasy award winning story, and four other brilliant pieces of work.
But if you already own Choices, browse the following, and buy something.
Tagged boom, cemetary dance, delirium books, elastic press, gray friar press, horror, humdrumming, independent press, mortbury press, necessary evil press, nemonymous, pendragon press, ps publishing, screaming dreams, snowbooks, tta press