Archive for what they hear in the dark

Another Spectral Press review….

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Another good review of What They Hear in the Dark, this time from Neal Hock at the Bookhound’s Den:

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I’d never read anything written by Gary McMahon; in fact, I hadn’t heard of him before I saw this chapbook. However, the cover blurb by Tim Lebbon immediately grabbed my attention since I’m familiar with his work. I can’t really say that I had much in the way of expectations going into this one, but I did hope for a decent read.

Rob and Becky are renovating an old house. Not a home, but a house. Though they live under the same roof, Rob and Becky are worlds apart. Since the loss of their son they seem to have gone their separate ways. During the renovations, they discover a hidden room—the Quiet Room. The room is aptly named, as there is no sound in the room—none at all. But there are other things in there. Things that may bring Rob and Becky back together…or to the brink of madness.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of writing this diminutive book. Weighing in at only 22 pages, it makes for a quick read. It was a good read—not necessarily a fun one—because the author does a tremendous job at capturing the overwhelming sense of loss and despair of Rob and Becky. I recommend What They Hear in the Dark if you want to be introduced to McMahon’s polished, atmospheric writing. Just be careful if you’re reading it on a dreary day, because that’s exactly the mood in this one.

This is the debut chapbook from Spectral Press, whose mission is to “be devoted to presenting single-story chapbooks, in the ghostly/supernatural vein, in a high-quality but very classic format. Each will be in strictly limited quantities of 100 only, signed and numbered by the author.” Based on this initial release, it looks like there are good things to come from them.

4 out of 5 stars.

Second Spectral Press review in…

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , on December 20, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

The following review was written by Mark West, and can be found on Goodreads:

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The first chapbook from Spectral Press, Gary McMahon’s short story continues the writer’s ongoing fascination with the darkness of the human soul and the depths to which people are capable of falling. As with his superb “Different Skins” collection, he mines areas that we will willingly look in with him as our guide but where I doubt any of us would like to be left alone. This short is like a hammer blow, dealing with the family dynamic between bereaved parents – Rob and Becky – grieving the loss of their son Eddie. It becomes apparent that he didn’t die of natural causes (and when you find out what happened, it’s a sickening moment that McMahon pulls off with aplomb) and sets the tale up for its dreadful climax.

Emotionally devastating, told with your McMahon’s usual brisk style without an ounce of fat or excess, this is gripping and painful and beautiful and honest and bleak as all hell.

Highly recommended (and a terrific launch title for Spectral too)

SPECTRAL PRESS I: What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon

Posted in Books, News with tags , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

An absence is more terrifying than a presence…

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 the house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over.

Then they found the Quiet Room.”

“Gary McMahon’s horror is heartfelt…” –Tim Lebbon

22pg A5 print booklet with card covers, signed and numbered, 100 only – published January 2011.

Available from the publishers – Spectral Press, 5 Serjeants Green, Neath Hill, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK14 6HA, UK for £3 (plus 50p P+P) either through Paypal (spectralpress@gmail.com) or cheque (made payable to ‘Simon Marshall-Jones’) to the address above. Subscriptions for 2011 issues (3) available for £10 – payment details as above. US/RoW please email for prices to your countries…

Web: spectralpress.wordpress.com

Email: spectralpress@gmail.com

Subscribers, please note: this issue will be sent out in early January due to it being THAT time of year and the possible inclement weather that’s been forecast…. Spectral Volume I is currently at the printers and the signature sheets are in Gary’s hands… return expected any day now… =D

The calm before the storm…

Posted in General Musings, News with tags , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Oh yes, it really is the lull, the quiet interregnum just prior to the mad, swirling chaos that will hit the palatial Marshall-Jones Mansions within the next four to six weeks. Spectral Press Volume I is nearly ready to be sent to the printers, just the final few details to sort out and then it’ll be in their hands, either at the end of this week or beginning of next at the latest. A brief moment of calm, then collect signature sheets, get them sent off to Gary, wait anxiously for their return, take them back to printers for everything to be collated and then another brief moment of calm.

And then the mad rush of stuffing and addressing labels begins, ensuring that subscribers get their copies, promotional activity to all and sundry, sending out PDFs to reviewers, answering enquiries…. and then onto getting Spectral Press Volume II ready… and doing everything again when that gets published… and you know what? Bring it on!!

A couple of nights ago, as I took a break from whatever it was I was doing, I had cause to ponder: Why am I doing this? I know damn well that this isn’t going to earn me a living, let alone make me a millionaire – so why do it? It’s simple: I love books, love the written word and, most especially, love a good, well-told story, written by authors who care about what they write. The very fact that I am creating something in a field that I have derived immense pleasure from is good reason enough for me. If I make a little money that I can put back into the projects I have in mind, should Spectral Press be a success, then even better. But, to coin a cliché, I feel like I am giving something back after taking so much from the scene over the years.

Having said that, I also want to avoid over-extending myself. This is the crucial difference between Spectral Press and FracturedSpacesRecords – I did way too much too soon with the latter, inevitably leaving me with a lot of stock that I am unable to sell (live and learn, eh?). Which is why Spectral will, at most, only publish once a quarter for the forseeable future (or only three in the first year). Admittedly, books are a damn sight easier to deal with, plus I appear to have gained a measure of goodwill from those in the scene, for which I am grateful. Above all, though, I am enjoying myself more than I have ever done with anything else I’ve ever been involved in.

I also like to be busy – I abhor boredom. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to occupy yourself with, apart from watching TV (most of which I detest) or drinking (and I REALLY don’t want to go there again – that was a bad place for me). So, running something like an independent publishers is ideal in many ways – and there’ll be many challenges ahead, but those will keep the stasis firmly away.

And now… as an added bonus, here’s Daniele Serra’s cover art for Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall chapbook (please note: the text will be different and everything will eventually conform to the Spectral Press ‘look’ – this is to give you some idea of what it’ll look like, however):

© 2010 Daniele Serra/Spectral Press

More news soon!!

Spectral update and other stuff…

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Just a short little note to let people know that the PDF proof of the very first Spectral Press chapbook is in my possession, and has also been passed on to Gary McMahon for final approval. Many thanks to the sterling Neil Williams for putting it all together so rapidly and so well – there will be a few very minor cosmetic changes made in terms of layout, incidental text (NOT THE STORY, BTW – that’s bloody perfect) and stuff but in all honesty it’s all there, more or less. And I have to say it’s looking mighty good. If all goes according to plan it’ll be sent to the printer’s a week Friday and I should get everything done by the end of the month.

(Please note: anybody wanting a copy for review will receive a PDF file, rather than a physical hard-copy. I am attempting to keep the costs down as much as possible for at least the first year – if you want a hard-copy for your collection, then you’ll have to buy one, I’m afraid.)

Anyway, for all those out there who are, quite understandably, dithering about taking out a subscription, unsure whether they should send £10 of their hard-earned cash to an unknown quantity for a year’s worth of Spectral Press volumes, then let me assure you this is really happening. Come January, What They Hear in the Dark, the very first one, will be available to buy and those who have taken out subs already will have copies in their hands to lovingly gaze upon. You can do that too by taking out a sub and not only will you get three issues in the first year but your name will also be entered into a prize-draw, where you stand the chance of winning a great prize. (Details below)

Spectral subcriptions

Do you want your name listed as a founder subscriber in the first Spectral chapbook? If so, then act fast, before Monday 6th December 2010! A yearly subscription will cost £10UK/£12EU /$20US/ $25US RoW (all prices inclusive of postage and packing). Individual chapbooks will be available for £3.50UK/£4EU/$8US/$12RoW (again all prices inclusive of p+p). You can either pay via Paypal or cheque: Paypal is spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com and for details of how to pay by cheque, please send an email to the same address and I’ll get back to you forthwith.

Spectral Prize-draw

As an added incentive, if you do choose to subscribe before the end of this year (31st December 2010 closing date), your name will be entered into the prize-draw, where you’ll stand the chance of winning a specially signed and framed edition of  Gary McMahon’s chapbook. Alongside it will be a copy of the annotated manuscript, ie  Gary has scrawled all over it in his best red biro – he’s even signed it and ‘illuminated’ it with a little doodle of a smiley horned devil on it as well. The winner will even get a free subscription extension for another year on top of that… now that’s what I call a bargain! (Winner will be notified by mid-January)

Books received

Yesterday saw the postman deliver two lovely book, courtesy of Solaris Books:

The Age of Odin, by James Lovegrove

Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan

I am also reading, for pleasure this time, Tim Lebbon’s novella The Thief of Broken Toys (ChiZine Publications). Apart from the fact that I like Tim’s work, I also thought the title so poetic and enigmatic that it was actually a no-brainer purchase. In just the first half of the opening chapter, the feeling of deep loss and estrangement is acutely described and felt, Tim using his trademark lean writing style with few words but every single one of them counting. Might give this one a write-up here very soon….

NEWS: And this is where it all starts….

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

Yes, this IS where it all begins…

What am I blabbering on about, you may very well ask? I’m talking about Spectral Press, or rather, the very first chapbook in the series, Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark, due out (officially) in January 2011. Today, I’ll be checking it, then I’ll put together some of the other pages (signature page layout, copyright notice page and also a page listing all the founder subscribers – if YOU want YOUR name on there, then act quickly to get a subscription now!! Details below), and then shoot it all off to GraphixMeister Neil Williams to assemble the whole thing. Once he’s woven his magic, down to the printer’s for actual production, with the added complication of getting the signature sheets printed first, then collected to send to Gary to scribble on, sent back and returned to printer’s for final collation – December is going to be one busy month….

Do you want your name listed as a founder subscriber in the first Spectral chapbook? If so, then act fast, before Monday 6th December 2010! A yearly subscription will cost £10UK/£12EU /$20US/ $25US RoW (all prices inclusive of postage and packing). Individual chapbooks will be available for £3.50UK/£4EU/$8US/$12RoW (again all prices inclusive of p+p). You can either pay via Paypal or cheque: Paypal is spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com and for details of how to pay by cheque, please send an email to the same address and I’ll get back to you forthwith.

As an added incentive, if you do choose to subscribe before the end of this year (31st December 2010 closing date), your name will be entered into the prize-draw, where you’ll stand the chance of winning a specially signed and framed edition of  Gary McMahon’s chapbook. Alongside it will be a copy of the annotated manuscript, ie  Gary has scrawled all over it in his best red biro – he’s even signed it and ‘illuminated’ it with a little doodle of a smiley horned devil on it as well. The winner will even get a free subscription extension for another year on top of that… now that’s what I call a bargain! (Winner will be notified by mid-January)

Finally, to whet your appetite, here’s the back cover blurb for What They Hear in the Dark:

An absence is more terrifying than a presence…

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 the house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over.

Then they found the Quiet Room.”

So what are you waiting for then?

Spectral Press: some teasers….

Posted in News, Other with tags , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by simonmarshalljones

So, as a form of gentle encouragement to you all and as teasers as to what you can expect in the first year of Spectral Press’s existence, here are the back-cover blurbs of the first three chapbooks. (Please note: the publication dates are tentative only – as previously stated this is only because I need sufficient time to raise the funds for this venture. IF I manage to get the funds sooner, then the publication dates will be brought forward – buying a subscription will certainly help make Spectral Press a reality even sooner!!)

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WHAT THEY HEAR IN THE DARK – Gary McMahon (April/May 2011)

An absence is more terrifying than a presence…

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 the house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over.

Then they found the Quiet Room.”

“Gary McMahon’s horror is heartfelt…” –Tim Lebbon

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THE ABOLISHER OF ROSES – Gary Fry (September 2011)

“It’s not always the guilty who have the darkest secrets . . .

Peter has been married to Patricia for nearly thirty years. He’s a practical man, the owner of a thriving factory and the father of two fine lads.

He also has a secret mistress.

One day, his wife takes him along to an outdoor arts exhibition involving some of her paintings, staged in a dark, deep wood. The fact that Peter would rather go for a pie and a pint and to watch the match is something he keeps very much to himself.

But his are not the only secrets in this marriage. And as Peter strays off the only path through the woods, he soon realises that Patricia – through the weirdest of creative art – has quite a few revelations for him . . .”

“Fry is a writer whose technique is as accomplished as his intellect and imagination are powerful.”–Reggie Oliver

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NOWHERE HALL – Cate Gardner (January 2012)

“We want to live…

In the ballroom, wallflower mannequins stretch their fingers towards Ron. He can’t ask them to dance. He’s already waltzing with other ghosts.

Someone stole the world while Ron contemplated death. They packed it in a briefcase and dumped him in the halls of the ruined hotel–The Vestibule. A nowhere place.”

“One of the finest and most individual voices around- there really is no-one quite like Cate Gardner.” –Simon Bestwick

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Now don’t those sound absolutely fantastic! Get your orders in now, as there will ONLY be 100 of each, signed and numbered…. act fast!