I know it’s been quiet around here for the last couple of weeks – just one of those periods where everything catches up with me at once, I’m afraid. Next week I’ll have a chance to unwind, which I’m looking forward to, and I’ll tell you more when I get back.
One thing that has made me notably happy is the arrival of my contributor copies of Tattered Souls, which contains my novelette ‘Other People’. I’ve been deliberately quiet about the book since it’s launch, mostly because I wanted to see it for myself before I try to get you all to buy it. Now I have, and I’m very impressed. The book itself is damned handsome looking, with impressive attention to detail and quality. Considerable thought has gone into the design, layout, typography, and all those other details that make a book a pleasure to hold and read.
Of course, that’s as nothing if the stories don’t grab you. I think these ones will, and they will leave an impression to boot. I had a feeling they would. I’ve been published in a few places now, but this has been my first experience of really vigorous editing. Frank Hutton challenged every aspect of Other People that he possibly could, sentence by sentence, and made me justify absolutely everything he wasn’t quite happy with. A lot of changes were made to the tale on that basis (not an editor for precious authors or faint-hearts, I can assure you), and the story is far better for them. A lot of his suggestions were rejected too, as Frank knows where the line between doing an editor’s job to help make the author look as good as possible and being obsessive and demanding is. Where I could fight my corner, he nodded and backed away, which is exactly what you want.
It was a demanding, extremely rewarding experience, and I was aware that each of the stories in the book were being subjected to the same thing. That gave me enormous hope, and so far, it seems to have been justified. As well as obsessively re-reading Other People, I have also read Jeff Crook’s excellent The Monkey Skin Cloak. It’s sharp, precise, and extremely disturbing – very much the feel I’m getting from the book as a whole. It’s also an impressively unique look outside of Western culture. A lot of horror fiction plays the familiarity card to lull readers into a false sense of security, setting tales in suburbia, or the inner city, or the classic small town. Crook sniffs at this, wanders halfway across the world to rural Africa, and tells a tale of sort-of-lycanthropy that exploits African mythology beautifully, and is all the more haunting for the exoticism of the culture and locale. It’s hard to do new things with the hoary old werewolf, but this story takes the concept in all sorts of strange directions.
You’re going to like Tattered Souls a lot. You can go and buy it from the publisher, or from Shocklines, who have it in stock at the moment. Actually, if you choose Shocklines you are running even less risk. For a short time, the book is part of their New Voices Guarantee scheme, tailor-made for getting people to try something new. Basically, if you buy it and don’t like it, you’ve got thirty days to return it, no questions asked.
I really don’t think you’ll return it though. Honestly.
I’d also like you to buy it, simply because I want to hear what you think of Other People. It’s a distinctive piece. I want to know how you feel when you read it…
Let me know. Do so on my website – the book pages are comment-enabled just as the journal entries are, so if you ever read anything of mine that provokes a reaction of any sort, that’s the place to purge. The website gets a surprising amount of traffic (happily), and I’ve a feeling that many new visitors look at books they like the look of, umming and ahhing over whether to take the risk and put their money down. Your opinion might be just what they need to see to commit.
Right, that’s enough for now. More news after my week of relaxation, including details of the story I will have featured in issue 14 of Dark Wisdom magazine, and when The Blackest Death III is going to be released…