Tales From The Graveyard

(some thoughts on my editorial role for North Bristol Writers)

The third North Bristol Writers anthology, Tales From The Graveyard, had its launch on Saturday 2nd March at the cemetery that inspired many of the featured stories. If you came along, thank you, if not, you missed a couple of relaxed and insightful hours.

Way back during October 2017, we held a storytelling evening, entitled Tales From the Crypt (yeah, I know – we’re working on originality, I promise), in the Anglican chapel at Arnos Vale Cemetery as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature, and from that sold-out evening the anthology was born.

TFTG launch promo

The editorial team was agreed and consisted of myself (Acquisitions Editor), Pete Sutton (Senior and Copy Editor), and Ian Millsted (Assistant Editor, better known as Devil’s Advocate). Though one can argue how much acquisitioning is active in a submission call sent out to members of the NBW group and a few other Bristol writers, at times the use of a third editor in tipping the balance proved vital.

It was never the intention for the anthology to be horror-specific – yes, Pete and I both write in the horror genre, but there aren’t many more in the group who do – so the writers’ brief was kept suitably broad: the story must be set in a graveyard and contain a ‘weird’ element. And while the book contains ghosts, the Gothic, and a splattering of gore, it also has surrealism, pulp, humour, fantasy, and dystopia.

The content and individual word count of the accepted stories ended up so varied, that creating a TOC with enough momentum to keep pages turning filled me with a Lovecraftian dread. However, with a little research and a little more determination, the task turned out to be highly enjoyable. One could even suggest that the stories organised themselves.

The important first slot went to Kevlin Henney’s quick story for its strong opening that provides a philosophical slant which really works for, and certainly does no harm to, a book full of dead people. This bled into a murd’rous stab of fiction penned by the chilling Clare Dornan. The epics (of which there were a few) I spread throughout the book so their length would hopefully go unnoticed. The first of these, Chrissey Harrison’s fantasy action/adventure contrasts perfectly with the preceding stories. Next, two ghostly tales with child protagonists: Jon Charles’s simple tale followed by Louise Gethin’s wandering child which then ties into the gruesome wandering husband in Grace Palmer’s piece. I thought the reader now ready for a change, thus Darkfall by Dev Agarwal submerges all who feast upon it into a truly bleak dystopia. Then up for a gasp of putrid air with Amanda Staples’s creepfest, followed by the two more unusual stories of our anthology courtesy of Ken Shinn and Jay Millington. Placing both centrally highlights the differences between the two, and the rest of the book. They also act as “tentpole” stories (John Joseph Adams, source below*). Of course, what type of graveyard fiction does not contain Gothic? Behold, Chloe Headdon’s contemporary and Scott Lewis’s traditional tale. Both make an appearance in the latter part of the book allowing the reader to experience other aspects before this ubiquitous theme. Shock horror, courtesy of Grimdark queen Maria Herring, felt a natural follower-on from this, partnered with Tanwen Cooper’s seedy tale of rotten humanity. The last stories mirror the two openers, and are intended to leave positive flavours lingering on the reader’s palate; Piotr Świetlik’s humour and multiculturalism (both much needed in the world at present) and Alex Ballinger’s hopefulness. Ballinger’s ‘Messenger’ is philosophical and resonates with Henney’s opening story.

With the publication of the book, we now have a sexy little bunyip of a product that has been presented beautifully by the Typesetter (and writer), Harrison, and all wrapped up in a classic cover designed by Fabrice Mazat. And, of course, my editorship has come to an end. I’d like to thank North Bristol Writers for the opportunity to become part of this terrific book, and the insights into the other side of publishing.

*With thanks to John Joseph Adams and Cat Rambo for their articles on editing.

You can purchase Tales From The Graveyard on Amazon UK

Previous North Bristol Writers anthologies are:

the DH

 

The Dark Half of the Year, AmazonUK  (Both Dornan and Shinn had an honourable mention from Ellen Datlow for their stories in this book.)

 

 

North by South West

 

North by Southwest, AmazonUK 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Book Launch

TFTG launch promo

The launch of the North Bristol Writers’ newest anthology, Tales From The Graveyard, is from 5pm until 7pm on Saturday 2nd March at Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

There will be readings, signed copies up for grabs, and a chance to discover how we stitched together the pages of frights, desires, nightmares and tragedy into a monster!

The event page is on Facebook.

Hope to see you all there.

Staying with photographer Ines Adriaens in the inspirational city of Brussels, critiquing a variety of fine stories submitted to the Tales From the Graveside anthology to be published by the NBW.

Enjoy the photos below, which are my own and not those of my talented host. I think I’ll stick to writing!

 

We Are Gathered – audio version

I have just received a rough recording of my story, We Are Gathered.

It was recorded live in the Anglican chapel at Arnos Vale Cemetery on a stormy October evening, and is narrated by the poet and writer, B Anne Adriaens. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Rich Jeffery who will be putting together an audio book with a polished version of the above along with all the other stories that were read out at the North Bristol Writers’ event.

By The Graveside

the-blue-hour

As Ophelia waved her tail in farewell and our very own Brian approached with all the stormy power its name suggests, our Tales From The Graveyard, the proposed tour of Arnos Vale with accompanying fiction, was limited to the Anglican chapel that crowns the cemetery’s hill.

The austerity of the building combined with candlelight shadows was the perfect gothic setting for our readings of the macabre and the horrible. And with an added soundman, Rich Jeffery, there maybe an audio book of the event in the future.

Among the North Bristol Writers that took part were:

Pete SuttonMaria Herring who was reading a story by Kevlin HenneyChrissey HarrisonJustin NewlandClare DornanJay MillingtonIan Millsted, and Piotr Sweitlik,

With the poet B Adriaens reading my contribution this ghoulish evening was concluded.

With thanks to the Arnos Vale staff – great coffee, by the way – and, of course, our audience – I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Look out for the Tales From The Graveyard print anthology in 2018

Tales From The Graveyard

Come along to Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol on October 19th, when my story, We Are Gathered, will be read among the headstones.  Other members of North Bristol Writers will also be reading their new work. Visit the event page on the AVC website for more details.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACome along to Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol on October 19th, when my story, We Are Gathered, will be read among the headstones.  Other members of North Bristol Writers will also be reading their new work. Visit the event page on the AVC website for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark Half of the Year

the dark half of the yearHaving recently joined the North Bristol Writers, I found out that, in late 2016, they published an anthology called The Dark Half of the Year.

From the creepiness of Garland’s The Ancestors and Dornan’s Dark Time, to the chilling This is Me by Henney, and just plain weirdness of Meyjes’ The Last Four in the Bar, The Dark Half … is a collection of stories that explores the vastness of the afterlife. It is also eclectic, with Newland’s tragic tale set during the Roman invasion of Britain and Sutton’s futuristic take on the ghost story, keeping the company of scolding grandmothers, vengeful in-laws, and righteous wraiths, alongside Harrison’s spin on Cornish folklore and, of course, the gruesome moral tale provided by Shinn. My favourite story of the anthology, Winternights by Herring, hauls ancient myth into a dystopian future whilst almost revelling in a vivid portrayal of bloodlust, truly making The Dark Half of the Year a celebration of the dead.

The Dark Half of the Year is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.