East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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A tour guide to strange, (not so) far places

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands.
(H.P. Lovecraft)

Selection_897I’m taking a moment to plug a book that’s been a great resource for my stories and a great read altogether.
I’ve been checking it out again during the Halloween season, because there is an increase in the request for ghost stories and supernatural horror, and before that it provided me with one of the two ideas on which I built my story in the Zappa & Spada anthology.

The book is called The Lore of the Land and it is a massive tone by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson. Continue reading

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A drying up of the soul

51H8S032BHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I was doing the usual three-cards trick on my shelves, trying to slot more volumes in the same old space, and while trying to find a place for the old London Gazzeteer, I found myself with no place for Peter Ackroyd‘s Albion.
And as it happens, I sat down a while and browsed through that 500-odd pages hardback.

For those that missed it, Ackroyd’s Albion is a book about “the origins of English imagination” – that is to say, a catalog and discussion of those elements that make up the imaginary matter of Britain, that complex collection of legends, images, clichés and stories that is the basis of so much literature, music, art and what not.

Now the interesting bit is I was discussing, two nights back, with my friend Lucy among others, what we perceive as an increasing impoverishment of the imaginary matter backing what’s sold as fantasy, as horror, as science fiction. Continue reading