the folded land by tim lebbon: an EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL and EXCERPT from the sequel to the smash hit relics
Earlier this year, and boy what a year it has been, Ginger Nuts of Horror was honoured to get an advanced readers copy of Tim Lebbon's Relics, the first of a new trilogy of novels from an author who has always been a firm favourite with the site. Now, thanks to our review of the excellent book (which you can read here), we have been asked to host the exclusive cover reveal and excerpt of The Folded Land. the second part of this exciting trilogy.
Tim Lebbon is the New York Times bestselling author of the movie novelizations of 30 Days of Night and The Cabin in the Woods. He has also written many critically acclaimed horror and dark fantasy novels. Tim has won three British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Shocker, a Tombstone and been a finalist for the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards.
After being struck by lightning, young Sammi is drawn towards a strange place, a folded land where a powerful fairy will live out eternity. The faction amongst the Kin who seek to rise once again need the fairy to aid their cause. Now Vince and Angela, on the run in the USA, must draw together to rescue Sammi, and prevent the growing horror of Ascent.
The Folded Land will be published as a trade paperback by Titan Books on 20 March 2018. Stay tuned for more details and hopefully another early bird review.
There were three men running toward him. He stood his ground as they dashed past, and ignored their panicked, shouted warnings, swapping a glance with one of them. There was sheer horror in the man’s eyes.
Gregor smiled. He’d come to the right place.
He walked on toward the source of their terror. It was a direction he was used to taking. When there was fear amongst people, that was where he often found what he was searching for. Sometimes those frightened people thought of him as a kind of savior, that he had come to rescue them from things with teeth and claws, and faces unlike their own. He did nothing to disabuse them of the notion.
They ran, he arrived, and the monsters went away.
Gregor had been watching the illegal logging camp for seventeen days, hiding out in the jungle, circling by day and hunkering down at night. He grabbed ten minutes of sleep here and there, but most of the time forced himself to remain awake. He’d been watching for signs and didn’t want to miss anything.
The settlement was large. During the day it often took him ten hours to complete a full circuit of the rough camp and the logging operations that spread out from its heart. Down ravines, up steep hills, always alert for movement and careful not to be seen, he enjoyed the physical challenge. He liked pushing himself. The pain was cathartic. Nothing good came to those who did not strive.
The Amazon jungle was sweltering. Even the regular afternoon downpour was warm, but at least the water swilled some of the stale sweat and dirt from his clothes, and he caught some in his hat to drink. He ate acai and figs from hanging branches, and sometime he plucked grubs and spiders from damp, dark places in the bark of giant trees. The loggers would be destroying their habitats soon enough. At least he was putting their succulent, crunchy bodies to good use.
With his time here almost over, he felt a flush of satisfaction. It had been wise to wait and watch. The landscape felt right, the surroundings and location perfect, his information had been correct. He’d known that given time the loggers would uncover what he sought.
In the distance he heard mewling in the naked sunlight.
Gregor broke into a jog. In any normal jungle, moving at such speed would have been impossible, but this place was dying. He vaulted felled trees, climbed onto pale fleshy stumps, leapt off and kicked through thigh-high piles of chopped branches and lank vines. Skirting around a massive stack of stripped trunks, he almost ran into two more men who were running away. One of them skidded to a stop and grabbed Gregor’s arms, opening his mouth to shout a warning, snot running from his nose, sweat washing dirt and sawdust into his wide, terrified eyes.
The man saw something in Gregor’s expression that gave him pause, and the warning remained unvoiced. Pushing away,
Gregor ran on, turning his head slightly from side to side, sniffing the air.
A machine idled nearby, sitting at the end of a trail of deep ruts in the jungle floor. Its caterpillar tracks had churned harsh wounds into the ground. Its heavy clasping claws held a tree horizontally, ready to drag it through a macerator that would chew off limbs, bark, and thick side branches, processing it for future use. It was a mechanical version of Gregor himself, albeit larger and far clumsier.
Gregor grinned at this comparison. It pleased him, and he laughed as he ran past.
A flock of birds took flight, startled by the sound.
He stopped at the edge of a large hole It had once been home to the roots of a massive tree, now tumbled ready to be chopped. The upended root ball formed a tall wall to his left, and crawling blind things still scampered for shelter.
In the hole, the pale thing also tried to crawl back into dank shadows. Tropical sunlight hit its slick skin. Steam rose from its body. It looked up at Gregor. Perhaps it smiled, or grimaced, and the faint whisper might have been an attempted growl to see him away.
Gregor jumped into the hole and landed several feet away from the naked beast. It was the size of a small child, thin and weak-looking, despite its long limbs that seemed to flex and curl around it. It pulsed and moved as if unused to such exposure.
“You’re not afraid of me,” the creature said, the words sounding unfamiliar in its mouth. It must have been a long time since it had felt the need to speak.
“Should I be?” Gregor asked. He pulled a long curved knife from a sheath on his belt. It was razor sharp on its outer edge, the inner blade serrated for sawing through bone. Though well-used, it was still keen and clean. Gregor knew how to look after the tools of his trade.
The creature hissed, but the sound turned into a low, pained sigh.
“Poor leshy,” Gregor said, kneeling in the mud. “How long have you lain here?”
“Too long to remember,” the leshy said, eyeing the blade. It was a tree spirit of this jungle, and it had used the living weight of this giant kapok tree to hide itself away. It might have been there for five hundred years.
Gregor reached out, not with the knife but with his free hand. He touched the creature’s slick brow and whispered words of comfort. It’s heavy eyes drifted shut and it purred, twisting itself against his hand.
“Please don’t hurt me,” it said, and although its language was one that no human should know, Gregor understood.
“Tell me where you came from,” Gregor said.
“I’ve been here for…”
“Not here. Before here.”
The leshy opened its eyes again, onto a whole new world. Gregor saw a shred of understanding there now. He would have to be careful. This creature was weak, pitiful, but appearances could be deceptive.
“North,” the leshy said. “There were too many of us there. I came here to be on my own.”
“So sad,” Gregor said.
“Have you come to save me?”
“Yes,” Gregor said. “Yes, I have.”
The leshy blinked and its limbs curled in on themselves.
Gregor lashed out with his knife and sliced the creature’s throat. It’s eyes snapped wide. He saw its surprise, but behind the surprise there was something else. Perhaps it was relief.
He cut again, reversing the knife and pressing down, sawing until the leshy’s head parted from its body. Above and around him a heavy sigh passed through the canopies of those trees that were still standing, but Gregor did not let such a thing distract him from his task.
He dug in deep and cut out the dying creature’s heart. Holding it up, sunlight touching where it never should caused the dripping organ to shrivel and cauterize.
A nearby tree began to shed its heavy leaves. Further way, several other trees collapsed with a grief-stricken roar.
“You’re saved,” Gregor said. He pocketed the heart, climbed from the hole, and started walking north.
Half an hour later he came across two of the men he’d seen fleeing. They were huddled in the cab of a truck, doors and windows closed despite the humidity and heat of the midday sun. They were smoking, their frightened faces hazy behind a miasma of fumes.
As Gregor passed by, one of them wound down his window, just a few inches.
“It’s gone?” he asked.
“Gone.” Gregor did not stop walking.
“What was it?” the man called after him.
“Amazing,” Gregor said, and he walked on, looking forward to leaving that awful fucking place.
By Amber fallon
“We are the weirdos, mister.” – The Craft, 1996
Last year, I signed a contract with Eraserhead Press to publish my first bizarro book! As a longtime fan of a huge number of the books they’ve put out, as soon as I was given the go ahead to share the news publicly, I took to Facebook to announce my ecstatic enthusiasm over being part of their lineup.
I was understandably dismayed when I almost immediately received a private message from a dear friend, who shall remain nameless, who wasn’t quite as happy for me. The (paraphrased) conversation went something like this:
Friend: Eraserhead Press, huh? Don’t they just publish books about refrigerators and stuff that go on violent rape sprees?
Me: Um, no?
Friend: But they’re a bizarro publisher, right? Isn’t that what bizarro IS?
Now Friend is a solid person, and I love them to bits. They weren’t trying to be dicks or disparage me at all, they just legitimately thought that that was bizarro fiction: kitchen appliances coming to life and committing acts of sexual violence. I promptly took the opportunity to correct that false perception for them, and I’d like to try and correct it for you, too.
Let me say that things like that do exist within the genre, just like torture porn and extreme rape depictions exist within the horror genre. There is nothing at all wrong with that, or with the people who enjoy reading things like that (since I’m one of them, heh) but it is FAR from all there is to explore in the world of the weird, just the same way there is so much more to horror than Edward Lee’s The Bighead and Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door.
Let’s start by giving the term bizarro an official definition. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
“Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive, weird, and entertaining works.”
I’d be willing to bet that there are several things you already know and love that fit comfortably into that definition. Things like Rick and Morty, Adventure Time, Twin Peaks, David S. Pumpkins, and The Lobster, just to name a few. I’m sure you could think of dozens, if not hundreds, of others if you tried. These things feature elements of the absurd, the surreal, satire, the grotesque, the unusual, abstraction, and general weirdness that make them wonderful, unique, and well loved. Yet, for some unknown reason, they aren’t labeled as bizarro, and bizarro remains sort of a dirty word in a lot of circles.
The article goes on to say that “In general, Bizarro has more in common with speculative fiction genres (such as science-fiction, fantasy, and horror) than with avant-garde movements (such as Dadaism and surrealism), which readers and critics often associate it with.” Interesting. I wonder if that perception might have something to do with the stigma that’s often associated with the bizarro genre?
Speaking of that stigma, where does it come from? Where did it start? Who started it? Why? Honestly, I’m not sure. I wish I knew, so that maybe changing that perception could be made a little easier. As it is, I know that my friend’s reaction was hardly unique. The important part is that they were willing to learn more and expand their horizons. If you’ve got the same openness, let me share a list of bizarro books for beginners; things to help you get your toes wet in the genre I love so much.
If any of the following books tickle your fancy then please click on the title or book cover to purchase from your local Amazon store
Moon Snake is a pair of similar-ish novellas, which is great if you don’t want to invest a lot of time in your first taste test of the genre. While both of the stories are definitely bizarro in nature, they’re also comprised of a lyrical kind of beauty, one that transcends genre and I think would do a great job of bridging the gap. There are some scary things in here, but nothing so extreme that it would send new readers running for the hills. If you’re looking to try bizarro fiction on for size, Moon Snake by Kirsten Alene is an excellent place to start.
Jigsaw Youth is a novel, so it’s a bit meatier than the previous selection. It’s a brilliant, vivid look at the life of a woman told in remembrances and fractured glimpses at a broken past. It’s sad, it’s powerful, it’s traumatic, it’s heartbreakingly real. This is the kind of book that I would put on an Oprah-esque book club reading list.
Angel Meat is a short story collection, so it’s another great choice for someone who is looking to try on the genre for size without a big commitment. Think of it like one of those little sampler boxes you get around the holidays with different kinds of chocolate in them. There are stories in the book that range from heartbreaking modern realism to weird science fiction, to outright bizarro. It’s a great way to see a lot of different styles from one really talented individual.
Towers is quite possibly the most bizarre bizarro book on this list. The concept may be a little out there if you haven’t read bizarro before, but the book is solid. If you’re looking to bite off a bigger chunk of weird than the previous suggestions, this one is for you. It’s the story of sentient towers, reincarnated as human beings living in those towers. It’s full of heart, imagination, triumph, and a whole host of human emotions. Can there be a more classical tale than the search for a lost love? Towers takes that idea and runs with it, sprinkling in elements of horror and bizarro along the way.
The breadth of human emotion is played out in Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon by Cameron Pierce. Love, loss, beauty, tragedy, hope, it’s all here. There are elements of horror and, of course, bizarro, but this is another excellent book for someone wanting to become more familiar with the genre.
I’ll call this particular selection “Advanced Bizarro for Beginners”. It’s weirder and more ‘out there’ than most of the other selections on this list, but I chose it for two reasons. Number one, it’s a great book. It’s well written, with rich characters and a full gamut of emotions. Number two, it’s a great way to end the list. If you’ve read and enjoyed some of the other books here, this is a great next step for you. In kind, if you’re a more daring reader in general this might be a good book for you to get started with.
There are many reasons why I’m so passionate about bizarro fiction. I have always loved the absurd. I revel in the weird, the unique, the different. As a writer, I love the lack of constraint there. I can, and frequently do, explore literally anything, alongside some of the friendliest, funniest, most wonderful people I know, my brothers and sisters in bizarro. There is nothing quite like the sense of gleeful abandon I feel while reading through Carlton Mellick III’s latest book. If you made it through this list and enjoyed what you read (and I’m betting you did!), check him out. Carlton is pretty much the king of bizarro for a reason. His books are so weird, so incredibly different, that they provide a vivid, even somewhat disorienting, escape from reality. He has written about everything from mermaids to a magical post-apocalyptic grocery store, and done so with some serious style.
I hope I’ve inspired you to take a walk on the weird side, and I hope that if you have, you’ll join me in helping the world to embrace bizarro! Share it far and wide! Help us all erase that weird stigma that’s associated with bizarro and tell everyone that it is so much more than violent kitchen appliances come to life.
As a simple country lad I have two fears from my childhood. Trees and faces. And sometimes both combined.
I grew up in the wilds of the Sussex countryside on a farm where our nearest neighbours were a mile away in either direction and the only way to get to our house was along a winding country road enclosed on either side by woodland. Beautiful and picturesque as you can imagine. And there’s the problem right there. Imagination.
For those of us who were born in the late 70s there is a wide catalogue of children’s television which was designed to scar our impressionable young minds. Not least of these was Children of the Green Knowe based on the books by Lucy M. Boston. Green Knowe itself is an old estate replete with woodland, country house, river and gardens looked after by Mrs Oldknow and the groundskeeper Boggis. Throw in some ghostly children, a big old statue of St Christopher (which moves) and a big old baddie and you’ve a spooky tale right there. Now someone in their wisdom at the BBC decided to make a four part dramatisation of this for the run up to Christmas back in 1986. The adaptation focuses on young posh lad Tolly who is sent there to live with his great-grandmother the aforementioned Mrs Oldknow. He goes wandering round the estate encountering the ghostly children and other characters along the way. Nice and spooky but gentle enough. And then some bastard introduces Green Noah – a menacing nightmare inducing tree and our big old baddie noted earlier. A tree which is able to uproot itself and walk across the lawn, a tree able to stalk a young child. The sort of tree which could live along a gentle country lane in the middle of sleepy Sussex where a similar young child may walk home from a day at school down said dark country lane with the creaks and groans of wind tugged branches filling his ears. Of all the bloody things to get a fear of when you are surrounded by woodland!
So what does this have to do with faces other than the leering features carved into Green Noah’s bark? Well let’s blame the BBC yet again. The BBC created some wonderful adaptations of ghost stories for Christmas (mainly M.R. James) and I am a proud owner of the superb box set which you can buy nowadays. However, my first encounter with these stories was some thirty years previously on re-runs back in the 80s. I loved these shows. I would sit with my Dad and watch them on Christmas Eve instead of going down the local church for midnight mass. One of my favourite stories is based on Charles Dickens’ marvellous short story The Signalman. It tells of a railway signalman on a single track line who is plagued by a spectral visitor who warns him of impending doom. Denholm Elliott (as the Signalman) and Bernard Lloyd (as the Traveller who Elliott tells his fears to) play of each other superbly and director Lawrence Gordon Clark builds a palpable sense of unease and tension. There is not a wasted second across the 39 minutes of the piece and yet the moment to haunt me comes as we come close to the end and the spectre is revealed in his full glory. The face of that spectre haunted me for years!
So this is where my tale ends. Or does it? So it wasn’t just the face in The Signalman which haunted me. No, that delicious imagination of mine decided it want to delve deep into some weird part of my psyche and have a little bit of fun. Not content with spectral visages, I decided I needed a new nightmare. I would dream of strangers coming up to me, leering creepy individuals, people who would lean in to me. And I would grab their faces and pull. And the face would come away and underneath it would be a different face. And that face would be pulled away to reveal another face. Men becoming women. The elderly becoming young and the young becoming old. Face after face after face after face until I would wake up in the darkness with my bedclothes slick with sweat. And I have no idea why though I am sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with this one! For those who have read my books, I suspect you might see elements of this broadly scattered throughout my writing. Or perhaps I’ve hidden it deep enough. Why not peel back the visage and see what lies beneath?
by Ramsey Campbell
There has been a lot of guarded whispers going around the internet chat forums these past few years about a mysterious series of horror books apparently penned anonymously by some of the greatest names in horror fiction, secret books never openly sold to the public. Such was the air of mystery that presided over them they quickly became the stuff of legends.
Established in 1919, The Eden Book Society was a private publisher of horror for almost 100 years.
Presided over by the Eden family, it was handed down through the generations issuing short horror novellas to a confidential list of subscribers. Eden books were always written under pseudonyms and rumoured to have been written by some of the greatest horror authors of their day.
Until now they have never been available to the public.
Are these books real or just another case of of the Mandela Effect, or did these book really exist, well horror legend Ramsey Campbell remembers them, and has agreed to talk about them in the article below. Then click here to find out more about this project to bring these lost texts into the public domain!
I still recall when I originally heard of the mysterious Eden Project, that series of macabre books pseudonymously penned by some of the greats in the field. It was in 1975, during my first trip to America. I’d been a guest of the first World Fantasy Convention and now was staying with Manly Wade Wellman and his wife Frances in Chapel Hill. The Wellmans had organised a get-together in my honour, including a local journalist who managed to misreport both Manly and me in the local newspaper. Most of the guests had gone, but Karl Edward Wagner had stayed for a last glass or two of bourbon. I believe I’d enthused about some of the rarities on Manly’s shelves, which led either Karl or me to ask Manly if there was work in our field he wished he’d collected. (Manly’s knowledge of obscurities in the field alerted Karl to several of the novels he included in his famous list of thirty-nine great horror novels in the Twilight Zone magazine.) Manly cited the Eden Project, of which he’d apparently learned from no less a luminary than Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales. Wright had planned to reprint several of the novellas, but for some reason was unable to secure the rights. Manly thought one had actually been announced as forthcoming in an issue of Weird Tales, but none of the authorities on the history of the magazine have been able to locate the reference.
That same year I visited Sauk City and met the personnel of Arkham House. Over dinner I mentioned the Eden books to James Turner, then the Arkham editor. He’d heard of them and encouraged me to track down any I could in Britain, with an eye to publishing at least one omnibus. I duly kept an eye out for them in second-hand bookshops and asked various friends who were booksellers – John Roles in Liverpool, Richard Dalby in Scarborough – to do likewise on my behalf. John, who had served in India before taking up his profession, told a frustrating tale of encountering a set of several dozen volumes in Delhi. Although they were displayed in a bookshop, the owner refused to part with them, declaring that he wanted to reread them. John had the impression that they exerted a strange fascination over him, or perhaps just their rarity did.
The following year I attended the World Fantasy Convention in New York. By now I was sufficiently obsessed with the Eden books to question various veterans of the field about them. This produced one intriguing anecdote, although by now Frank Belknap Long (the source) was somewhat unreliable in his memories (as Jim Turner learned when he edited Frank’s memoir of Lovecraft). According to Long, he and Lovecraft found a set of all the Eden Project up to 1927 in a Brooklyn bookshop (a statement he revised on being reminded that Lovecraft returned to Providence from New York in 1926). Long said that he and Lovecraft could afford only one book each at that time, but asked the bookseller to hold the rest until their return. When Long went back, the bookseller told him the items had been sold. Frank remembered his own acquisition as Lightless Water, apparently the name of a fictitious lake in Wales that acts as a focus for the infinite. He was unable to recall the title of the book Lovecraft bought, and when Frank lent him Lightless Water it went astray in the mail.
Years later T. E. D. Klein asked Karl Wagner to list his favourite horror novels for Twilight Zone, the magazine Ted then edited. Though Karl provided three lists of thirteen titles each (supernatural, science fiction and non-supernatural), no Eden Project books were included. I feel a little guilty about this. Before he made up his lists Karl wrote to me, saying that he’d traced a substantial set of Eden books to a bookseller in Preston. Apparently because of their rarity, the seller refused to take responsibility for shipping them and would only yield them up for cash to a personal caller. I drove the forty miles to Preston, only to find the shop shut although there was no indication of an early closing day. Several of the books Karl had listed in his letter were displayed in the window, and I was dismayed to see that the bindings were badly sunned. I left a note to indicate that I was shopping on Karl’s behalf and then rang the number at least a dozen times without result over the next few days. At last the phone was answered, and the bookseller insisted that he had sold the entire Eden Project set (which he claimed was absolutely complete and in very fine condition) before receiving my note.
That’s as close as I’ve ever come to the publications until now. Richard Dalby almost secured a set on my behalf, but the seller then withdrew the offer and sold the books to some buyer who doubled the asking price. I look forward to reading these legendary books at last and attempting to determine who wrote them.
14 November 2017
Dead Ink Books is pleased to announce that it has secured the rights to the entire Eden Book Society backlist and archives. For the first time, these books – nearly a century of unseen British horror – will be available to the public. The original authors are lost to time, but their work remains, and Dead Ink will be faithfully reproducing the publications by reprinting them one year at a time.
Dead Ink hopes that you will join us as we explore the evolving fears of British society throughout the 20th Century and eventually entering the 21st. We will begin our reproduction with 1972, a year of exciting and original horror for the Society.
Click here for more information on The Eden Society and how you can help support their Kickstarter campaign to make these lost texts public
When I gaily stepped forwards waving my hands in the air in response to The Ginger Nuts of Horror’s invitation to write about the things that freaked me out in childhood, I imagined writing a clever and witty piece about the Daleks and the *shriek* giant maggots that troubled poor Jon Pertwee and his companions in the early 1970s (Dr Who, The Green Death, BBC, 1973). But when I actually paused and gave it some thought, I realised with a kind of nauseous sinking feeling that my monsters are actually much more mundane, very real, and they still scare me to tears.
Now I don’t want to get all hot and heavy, and I certainly don’t want any psycho analysing, thank you very much, but the things that frightened me to death as a freckly-faced gangly kid, are the same things that keep me awake as a pale and plump fifty-year old. They are quite simply, loss and loneliness.
As I write this I still have my parents and my older husband almost fully intact: minus a prostate or two here, and with added pacemaker there, but joy of joys, they are all alive. I lost three of my grandparents young. I was inconsolable when both my grandmothers died, Durham Nan when I was 8, and Devon Nan (who remained with us until I was 41). I’ve had several good friends taken cruelly young, but on the whole I’ve been pretty lucky where humans are concerned.
But I’m not simply talking about the loss of people I love (or even like lots). I am a product of my upbringing for sure. I was an army brat. Mum, Dad, me and my annoying terror of an even ganglier and freckled-face ginger brother (he was once a true ginger nut of horror himself, but these days he’s my hero). We moved constantly. I went to 15 different schools between the ages of 5 and 18. Every twelve months or so, sometimes less, I lost my security blanket of familiar places, familiar objects and belongings (packed up or given away), and familiar faces. We uprooted and I had to start again, and every time the fear of being new, of not being able to identify who I was in relation to my surroundings, or the people I’d befriended, bit deeply.
Very occasionally when we moved, I would find myself easing straight into school, with happy welcoming children, and I’d have a whale of a time. That made it all the more difficult when the next move brought me face-to-face with cliques and bullies. That sense of being ‘other’, ‘alien’, has stayed with me till this day. You’ll probably recognise that feeling – from when kids whisper about you behind your back and laugh, or even worse, pull your hair, or say something cruel. Jesus. It brings me out in a sweat just thinking about it.
Being bullied is something so many of us can identify with. What made it different for me, is that I managed to move away (regularly) from one set of miscreants, only to be confronted by a new batch – usually equally as imaginative as their predecessors. I can’t describe the paralysing fear I had of being the new kid, on the first day, at a new (to me) school, when all the other kids already knew each other and had friends. I would agitate endlessly about how to ingratiate myself, and go home and cry in bed. Friendless and alone. That was pretty much me till the age of 17.
I don’t like to dwell on it, but boy, I was a lonely child. I lost myself in a world of books. I was a voracious reader, and I loved to write, and when I wasn’t writing I was daydreaming and putting myself in the heart of all the stories I read or imagined. S. E. Hinton was my favourite, and Alan Garner, Laura Ingalls Wilder, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll and later at 12 or so, the Brontes, Charles Dickens and other Victorian writers, Peter Straub and Shaun Hutson. All those wonderful authors made me feel welcome. When I was reading I was among friends, I was alive, and I was safe.
Nowadays, I’m a little more settled but I’ve moved around far too much, even as an adult, to have any close friends, and loneliness haunts my nights along with the fear of losing those I love. My luck can’t hold out forever after all, and I dread it with every fibre of my being.
My monsters are very much part of my writing life. Of course they are. I have never intentionally set out to write about loss and loneliness, and in fact, initially, my short stories had traditional monsters – serial killers, witches and man-eating trees, you know the kind of thing. However, my long fiction (while still nodding to witches and man-eating trees) have loss and loneliness at their core. I didn’t really understand this until I began to plot my current project, provisionally entitled ‘Beyond the Veil’, which has three dead characters at the centre of the story. So much loss, it makes my eyes sting.
In Crone (May 2017), the protagonist, Heather, has lost her teenage son, and uncovering the truth about his death is what drives the plot forward. In The Municipality of Lost Souls (yet to be published) Amelia Fliss’s melancholy loneliness is almost a character in itself, in spite of the fact that she has a husband who is devoted to her.
Loneliness is often a state of mind, something that is deep-rooted within ourselves even when we’re in the company of others. And the dread of loss before it actually happens? It prevents us being our true selves. Somewhere along the line, I have become accustomed (although not comfortable) to being lonely, while my fear of being left alone in the world thanks to being bereaved has become irrevocably entangled in my intestines. I think my anxiety about a bleak future in my old age prevents me living my life to the full NOW. I hate it, but I can’t seem to shake these thoughts off. They live with me, gnawing away, a constant companion I don’t want, shuffling alongside me as I travel in the world, casting knowing looks my way.
And perhaps that’s what’s really scary, isn’t it?
Jeannie Wycherley leapt at the chance to write when she was made redundant from lecturing in 2012. Since then she’s been honing her craft, learning as much as she can from other writers, and scribbling short stories as Betty Gabriel. She finally took the plunge with her novel Crone in May 2017. A repackaged anthology of her short horror stories, Deadly Encounters followed in August. Her short story, ‘A Concerto for the Dead and Dying’, is included in the vampire anthology, Mrs Dracula, due for release October 13th, 2017.
Jeannie’s inspiration is largely drawn from the landscape where she lives in East Devon: rocky coast, pebble and sand beaches, winding lanes, picture perfect cottages, cliffs and forest. She lives with her husband and three dogs, make a lot of soup in her cauldron, is a terrible insomniac, and plays a lot of Runescape.
Crone is available to Purchase from Amazon
Deadly Encounters is available to purchase from Amazon
Mrs Dracula is available: to Purchase from Amazon