The Dance of Death: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire

Recommended reading for the self isolating, taken from my latest, The Author Who Outsold Dickens As soon as the epic serial, The Tower of London concluded at the end of 1840, its author, the flamboyant ‘Lancashire Novelist’ William Harrison Ainsworth, threw an enormous celebratory party and promptly began the next serial, Old St. Paul’s, A Tale… Continue reading The Dance of Death: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire

Dracula (BBC 2020) Review

The last of the big three BBC winter schedule Victorian fantasy dramas dropped this week, with the epic three-part miniseries Dracula written by Sherlock and Dr Who team Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat which concluded last night. And I have to say, I think the Beeb left the best until last. Following the reimagining of… Continue reading Dracula (BBC 2020) Review

How to Write the Perfect Christmas Ghost Story

My latest for the Wordsworth Blog, on writing tips from M.R. James... ‘There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas,’ wrote Jerome K. Jerome in the introduction to his darkly comic collection Told After Supper (1891), ‘something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts, like the dampness of the summer… Continue reading How to Write the Perfect Christmas Ghost Story

Tales from The Boneyard: Our Anniversary, The Teenage Werewolves, and Dr Diablo & The Rodent Show

Last Sunday night found me in Camden Town with Gracie, standing in a cold queue outside The Underworld Club between a guy from Tottenham with Gene Vincent painted on the back of his leather, the oldest punk in the world, and some young bloke who’d just joined an indie band I now can’t remember the… Continue reading Tales from The Boneyard: Our Anniversary, The Teenage Werewolves, and Dr Diablo & The Rodent Show

A Short Story for Halloween

The Final Entry in the Journal of the Late Leviticus Lovecraft October 31, 18— My reason fails me this night. Already, I have seen the shadows moving in the darkness beyond the glass. And yet, they tell me that I am ill. Ill I am, but I know that I be not mad. 0 curs’d… Continue reading A Short Story for Halloween

The Saw Is Family: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Meaning of Murder

This week, horror fans and old goths like me around the world mourn the passing of Tobe Hooper, who died on Saturday at the age of 74, barely a month-and-a-half after we lost George A. Romero. Few directors get to redefine a genre, but Romero and Hooper both achieved this with Night of the Living… Continue reading The Saw Is Family: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Meaning of Murder

A Story for Halloween

I was having had a spot of bother with a rich man’s wife. She was older than me but I didn’t care. I just wanted her, like some strange and terrible drug. It was the usual story. She’d married young, enticed by the charm of a mature and successful man, and the stability that comes of secure investments. The age gap had not seemed so much when she was twenty and he was fit and fifty.

Five Favourite Books

The was something I did for the Unthank School blog last Christmas that I’d forgotten about until I spotted Ashley’s list while browsing his blog just now. The idea was for Unthank staff to briefly list and discuss five books that we had read in 2015, regardless of publishing date or genre. This was mine…

Mother’s Day

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my mum, Irene, who would’ve turned 91 on Valentine’s Day. She died of bone cancer in 2000, aged 76, although she always looked younger. She had fought the illness for five years, and had remained independent – my dad looking after her at home – almost to the end.

The First Story I Ever Wrote

It was the end of the frustrating fifties. Mary, my mother, heavily pregnant at sixteen, like her mother before her, and just as tragically innocent of the mechanics of her own body, took to the outside toilet suffering from violent stomach cramps. A convulsive eternity later, with a double scream (one of utter terror on Mum’s part and mild surprise on mine), I was born.