Archive for January, 2011

Spectral news…

Posted in News with tags , , , on January 11, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Just a very small snippet of news today – just so you can join me in welcoming two more writers to the Spectral roster!

First up is PAUL KANE, author of such novels as The Afterblight Chronicles, The Gemini Factor, and Of Darkness and Light, the critically-acclaimed study of Clive Barker’s hellish vision in The Hellraiser Films and their Legacy, as well as numerous short stories, collections and novellas. Paul’s webite can be found here.

Please also give a warm welcome to WAYNE SIMMONS, the author of Flu and the Drop Dead Gorgeous trilogy – the first in the series, Drop Dead Gorgeous, is just about to hit the shops in paperback on the 2nd of February. Wayne’s story, tentatively titled Loving the Dead, will be set within the DDG universe, and promises to add a quieter, spookier dimension to the post-apocalyptic world Wayne has created. Look out for that one sometime in 2012, hopefully. In the meantime, Wayne’s website/blog can be found right here.

Keep checking for more news on publishing schedules, and titles.

PRESS RELEASE: literary agent takes on a second author

Posted in News with tags , , , , on January 10, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

January 9th 2011 – Bristol and Manchester, UK

Gareth L Powell and Sharon Ring sign author/agent contract.

Gareth L Powell has signed up with Literary Agent Sharon Ring. Sharon Ring will act as agent in regard to five titles, Revenant Skies; Reclaiming The Dead; Silversands (originally published with Pendragon Press); The Last Reef (originally published with Elastic Press); The New Ships.

Gareth is rapidly gaining a reputation as a “strong new voice in epic science fiction” (Solaris). In addition to his previously published novel (Silversands) and collection (The Last Reef), Gareth has appeared in several anthologies, including including Shine (Solaris Books, 2010), Conflicts (NewCon Press, 2010), 2020 Visions (M-Brane, 2010), Dark Spires (Wizard’s Tower, 2010), and Future Bristol (Swimming Kangaroo, 2009). His short story Ack-Ack Macaque won the Interzone Readers’ Poll for best short story of 2007; and Solaris will publish his second novel The Recollection in September this year.

Gareth said, “With two novels and a collection under my belt, I’m glad to have someone with Sharon’s contacts and chutzpah to help me scout out the territory ahead. I expect this will be a successful and productive partnership for us both.”

Sharon said, “Gareth is an ideal writer to join forces with at this time. The more I read his work, the more I feel he is poised to have wider success in the science fiction community. He has a strong narrative voice; concise, direct and, above all, very human in the exploration of his chosen themes. I’m delighted to be forming this partnership.”

A full list of Gareth’s published work can be found at http://www.garethlpowell.com/books/.

All enquiries regarding this deal should be directed to Sharon Ring: sharonlring@gmail.com.

And the winner is….

Posted in News with tags , , on January 9, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

We have a winner of the Spectral Press Prize-draw and we have a name:

JOHN HOWARD of Birmingham!

Congratulations to John, and I will be contacting him shortly about his prize… which is a framed and signed edition (by both me and Gary) of the first chapbook and an annotated, signed (by Gary only) manuscript of the story, plus a one year extension to his subscription.

Many thanks to everyone who subscribed before the 31st December and got entered into the draw – your support for Spectral Press is very much appreciated!!

Spectral subscriptions – a further update!

Posted in News with tags , , on January 9, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

A reminder that Spectral subscriptions are still available for the first THREE chapbooks  – by Gary McMahon, Gary Fry and Cate Gardner  – £10UK/£12EU /$20 US/ $25US RoW per sub per year (inclusive of p+p). Individual chapbooks are available at £3.50UK/£4EU/$6.50US/$12RoW (all prices inclusive of P+P).  To order, please submit remittances through Paypal, please, account spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com (and if you send it as a gift then there are no Paypal fees this end).

PLEASE NOTE!! When gifting the money, PLEASE write your address in thepersonal note section – I have discovered that the address doesn’t show up if you send money that way…

Advance warning: if you take out a subscription from issue TWO, the price is £13.50UK/£16EU/$30US/$40RoW. Why? There will be FOURissues in the subscription, plus it includes postage to your part of the world. Also, these are very high-quality productions, and even at this price it still represents extremely good value for money. Crisp, clear printing, understated, top notch artwork and some of the best writers working in the ghostly/supernatural horror field today. Taking the amateur small-press to a new level, in fact.

Susbcriptions are very limited – act today to get yours!!!

Another review…

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Here’s what author Angela Slatter said about Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark – the original review can be found on her website:

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I’ve just read the first offering from Simon Marshall-Jones’s Spectral PressWhat They Hear in the Dark, by Gary McMahon. The blurb goes thusly:

‘Rob and Becky bought the old place after the death of their son, to repair and renovate – to patch things up and make the building habitable.

They both knew that they were trying to fix more than their house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over.

Then they found the Quiet Room …’

The idea of parents recovering after the death of a child has been used frequently, but as with all fiction it’s how you recombine the ideas and ingredients that makes your work stand out. Gary McMahon’s work stands out.

Horror stories can either be subtle or slashy and to my mind the more insidious and disturbing form is the subtle one. A truly talented writer will engage a reader in her/his character’s tragedy by picking out a few tiny, painful details – the sort that pierce your heart with their indelible ordinariness – because that kind of ordinariness echoes our own lives, our own tragedies. McMahon does this with Rob’s memory of his son’s ever-so-slightly imperfectly shaped skull, the feel of it under his hand when Eddie was born, the skipping of the parental heart worried that it might be a health issue.

Similarly, the fractured relationship between Rob and Becky is also finely and subtly and believeably drawn. When a reader begins to care about the characters, then any threat to those characters can be felt more keenly, the terror heightened. As this is a short story, I won’t give anything else away, but this chapbook is certainly worth a look. McMahon manages to create an atmosphere both potent with fear of the unknown and yet grounded in the everyday cares of wounded people.

Suggest you keep your eyes out for the next offering from Spectral.

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Some more Spectral reviews

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Here are two recent reviews of Gary McMahon’s chapbook for Spectral, What They Hear in the Dark. The first is from Jason Baki’s Kamvision blog:

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What They Hear in the Dark
is the third story by Gary McMahon I’ve read in as many months. Each have been in a different format: the first was a short story in the underground horror anthology, The End of the Line; the second was his new novel from Angry Robot, Pretty Little Dead Things and now there is this chapbook. Throughout each of these different formats, the thing that stands out the most for me in McMahon’s work, is the intensity of his writing. His prose style is deeply introspective in tone, every thought and feeling of his characters is meditated upon. There is also a real sense of entering a liminal space, a place where defining boundaries disappear, along with certainty. I love this aspect of his writing, and in this story it is perhaps even more noticeable than in those others I’ve mentioned.

This short fiction explores the aftermath of a dark tragedy in the life of two individuals. Rob and Becky have lost their son in a terrible event, and now they are trying to move on with their lives as best they can. They’ve bought an old house which needs some work, and they hope it will give them something else to focus on as well as a fresh start. The house has a strange room in it, empty, and occupying a position within the building that apparently stifles all sound. The Quiet Room Becky calls it. In this place of emptiness, of absence, the loss they have sought to escape from becomes manifest. What follows is haunting metaphor, a wound that cannot heal, and a loss so great it cannot be spoken.

As this is only a short story I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice is to say, all of McMahon’s skill in conjuring a sense of psychological unreality and intense psycho-spiritual borderlands is present here. There is a wonderful cohesiveness to his writing as well, as if all that occurs within his characters is mirrored and reflected back by the outer world. Often the reflection is distorted, and here he injects the subtle suggestion of things being wrong beneath the surface that for me creates the most effective uncanny fiction.

This is a great first release for the newly formed Spectral Press. I actually think this is my favourite of the stories by McMahon I’ve read so far. Elegant and haunting, it would make a fantastic introduction to the writing of a powerful emerging voice in dark fiction. Definitely worth checking out.

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And this one is from Paul D. Brazill and posted on his You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You? blog:

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Rob and Becky want a fresh start. Their young son was killed and in the aftermath their marriage is dying. So, they move into a crumbling old house in the hope of rebuilding it and their marriage. And then they discover The Quiet Room, a room that isn’t on the blueprints of the house and is filled with more than silence.

What They Hear In The Dark by Gary McMahon is a wonderfully written chiller, full of atmosphere and sadness. It is a story of  real people facing up to a real life trauma and confronting its  ghosts. It is the first in a series of chapbooks from the cool new indie publisher Spectral Press and is highly recommended.

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And finally, very satisfied customer Stephen Bacon has written a few things about Spectral on his blog – read it here. It appears that the imprint is indeed hitting all the right notes…

A Tattooed Head muses…

Posted in General Musings with tags , , , on January 7, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

As many of you are aware, I set up Spectral Press about three months ago, one of the primary reasons being that I wanted to get more involved in the ‘horror’ scene and also to give something back to it. Plus, of course, I love great storytelling and it would also further cement my appreciation of books as beautiful objects in themselves.  Therefore, setting up the imprint fulfils all the above criteria nicely.

The first chapbook was published a week ago – and it has already sold half of its print run. Which, when you get right down to it, is pretty amazing on any level – but what makes it even more amazing is the fact that I am still a relative unknown within the little corner of the literary world I inhabit. I asked people to subscribe, to give money to me; and people did. I thank them for their trust – they trusted me to go ahead and produce what I said I would. And so, in the last days of 2010, I went ahead and got that first issue printed – and so far Spectral has been the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.

As many of you also know, in 2008 I set up a record-label. I was excited then about my prospects, just as I’m excited about my prospects now. The difference between then and now is that back then no-one bought anything until about six months after the first CD was released. The first publication has only been out a week and nearly fifty copies have been sold. With FracturedSpaces, people would write to me saying what fantastic bands I had on my roster and that the product looked great – but when it came to actually buying they weren’t interested. People have said the same thing about Spectral – but they’ve actually put their money where their mouths are and bought. And if they promise they’ll buy one at some point, they actually have.

But, it’s also prompted me to think about when I can consider Spectral a success – when I have sold out of the first chapbook? Or when the reviews are mostly positive ones? Or when, after the first three issues have been published and sold, people willingly renew their subscriptions?

Ultimately, it’s a combination of all of those factors, but also something else that’s less tangible – just the sheer satisfaction of creating something that people respond positively to. And, if people want more of it, then that’s even better. Even more gratifying is when an author writes to me and tells me what a great job I’ve done and that they’re proud to be a part of it. Or when a reader says that I have exceeded all their expectations and that they will definitely be renewing their subscription when the time comes – thusly are good reputations established.

I have heard some real-life horror stories concerning authors and the relationships they have with some publishers. These are object lessons in how NOT to succeed, however you measure it. I want to be known for working closely with writers and also to treat them right within my meagre means. I also want to be known for creating a quality product – to take ‘amateur’ small-press publications to a new level. A tall order, maybe, but I feel it’s an admirable goal nevertheless.

I reackon I am going quite a way towards achieving those ambitions…  =)

Spectral subscriptions… an update

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 6, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

A reminder that Spectral subscriptions are still available for the first THREE chapbooks  – by Gary McMahon, Gary Fry and Cate Gardner  – £10UK/£12EU /$20 US/ $25US RoW per sub per year (inclusive of p+p). Individual chapbooks are available at £3.50UK/£4EU/$6.50US/$12RoW (all prices inclusive of P+P).  To order, please submit remittances through Paypal, please, account spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com (and if you send it as a gift then there are no Paypal fees this end).

Advance warning: if you take out a subscription from issue TWO, the price is £13.50UK/£16EU/$30US/$40RoW. Why? There will be FOUR issues in the subscription, plus it includes postage to your part of the world. Also, these are very high-quality productions, and even at this price it still represents extremely good value for money. Crisp, clear printing, understated, top notch artwork and some of the best writers working in the ghostly/supernatural horror field today. Taking the amateur small-press to a new level, in fact.

Susbcriptions are very limited – act today to get yours!!!

GUEST-BLOG:Willie Meikle

Posted in Guest-blog with tags , , , on January 5, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

Willie has visited these virtual shores before, but he sent me this little item on the writer’s dream vs the unvarnished reality of things yesterday – but, despite that, no matter how far away that dream appears to be, a writer will always carry on doing the one thing they know best, regardless, and just for the sheer love of it. I think it’s an attitude many should look at and adopt….

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Musings of an old fart
I’ve been doing some serious thinking recently about my writing. Again.

Up front, let me say I have few pretensions. I’m not a literary writer. I don’t spend days musing over “le mot juste”. I just get on and tell the story to the best of my ability. That has led to me being called a hack, but if a hack is someone who values storytelling above literary merit, then I suppose that’s what I am.

I know I’m capable of producing readable fiction, quickly. I’ve written fifteen novels in the last eleven years, and had eleven (so far) published in the small press. And there lies one of the things I’ve been thinking about.

I’m unsure about my eye for the market. I write what I want to write, producing books that I would want to read. But I’m a fifty-something man steeped in pulp fiction from an early age. I want the big deal, to see my books on shelves in shops all over the world. That’s always been the dream, but my obsessions just don’t cut it in the marketplace.

I’m not dissing my small press publishers. I’m eternally grateful to them, and they make me warm and fuzzy happy. In 2011 another part of the dream gets fulfilled when I’ll have a hardcover edition of one of my stories in my hands in a professional anthology. That will be more than great. I’ll be happier than a whole bunch of sandboys.

But there’s still that big dream to keep pursuing. Over the last couple of years I tried to write in different genres, different styles, but I was never comfortable. Once I realised that it wasn’t working, and went back to The Midnight Eye, it felt like meeting an old friend. But Derek Adams doesn’t bring the big dream any closer to reality.

So I have this dichotomy in my brain… writing The Midnight Eye makes me happy. Having the big dream depresses me.

I still have the gap between them to fill. And I’m still unsure if there’s a way to close it.

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Willie Meikle is a Scottish genre writer, living in Newfoundland, Canada. Lucky bastard.

Review #11

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by simonmarshalljones

This latest review is from Grade Z Horror and written by Capt Murdock – I think he liked it… =)

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Creepy. Creepy. Creepy. What They Hear in the Dark is a first rate ghost story that grabs your soul, tugs at your heartstrings and leaves your head in a fog. Author Gary McMahon has given us a dark tale that gorgeously weaves the feelings of anger, frustration and helplessness that accompany the loss of love.

Rob and Becky are looking to rebuild their lives after the intensely brutal murder of their young child. The decide to focus all of their sorrow and grief on a dilapidated old estate, feeling that by restoring the house they will somehow be able to repair the damage done to their lives. Instead, they discover a room not found on any of the original floor plans. The room is devoid of any sound. The Quiet Room. The room begins to take hold of Rob and Becky and ultimately becomes the manifestation of their greatest hopes and darkest fears.

What They Hear in the Dark is nothing short of brilliant. Dark, emotional and frightening. Basically, everything you want in a well told ghost story. McMahon’s style is truly sophisticated. He is able to incorporate secondary themes and insightful flashbacks without ever removing the reader from the central plot. He ties all of this up with an ending that will haunt you for days after you put the book down- begging you to read it again and again.

9/10

What They Hear in the Dark is the first in a series of chapbooks being put out by Spectral Press. Each will be in strictly limited quantities of 100 only, signed and numbered by the author. If What They Hear in the Dark is any indication, I think Spectral Press will be an imprint worth following.