"A Personal Anthology" is a fantastic project whereby writers, critics and others are invited to dream-edit a personal anthology of their favourite short stories. This is wjat I said in the introduction to my selection:
I grew up in the sixties in Pontypridd, South Wales, relieving the crushing boredom of secondary school byspending my pocket money at the local newsagent’s every Friday on volumes of short stories, seduced by the lurid covers of the Pan Books of Horror Stories, Fontana Ghost Stories and the Gunmen, Gallants and Ghosts of Dennis Wheatley. Later, much later, I’d sink into the warm Black Water of Alberto Manguel’s collections (which Amazon now calls “a kaleidoscope from the Magi of the imagination”), consuming countless other paperback anthologies along the way.
Through these, my love of the genre was undoubtedly unlocked (or unblocked? for it felt like a liberation) by such visionary writers as Poe, whose ‘Tell-Tale Heart’, with its unforgettable opening POV – (much imitated but never surpassed, even by Robert Bloch’s ‘Enoch’) – and M.R. James, with his rising bed sheets, unwanted wetnesses, and deeds best kept buried.
As time went by, the likes of Angela Carter with her carnivalesque symbolism, Robert Aickman with his “kitchen sink gothic”, J G Ballard with his stark unrealities, and many writers outside the field (Tobias Wolff, Bernard MacLaverty, Richard Ford, James Lee Burke, Joyce Carol Oates) became as important to me as the old masters I revered (and still do) like Conan Doyle, Machen, and Stevenson.
I hate any kind of top ten list - or top twelve - but here is a selection of newer discoveries and old favourites I’d like to share. Ones that instruct me how that magical frisson of the uncanny and weird can be achieved. Sparingly. Subtly. Intelligently. Memorably. And remind me that the cause I’m obsessed with as a writer to this day – the creation of nightmares – is a noble and ongoing one.
Read my full choices (with links to the stories where applicable) here
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–And Now The Podcast Starts! is a critical, fun journey with four informed fans of film and TV. Each episode focuses on a different topic for review or discussion, usually taking the horror genre as a starting point, but going in an unexpected direction, and often featuring special guests. Check out:
Writer Stephen Volk on Under A Raven's Wing and a lifetime in the horror business
"Stephen Volk wrote Ghostwatch, the 1992 TV play which rated so highly on Kirsty, Stella and Dan's list of Movies That Scared Us The Most last year. And Ghostwatch is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Stephen's diverse array of horror output in a variety of media, including prose fiction: his new collection of stories, Under a Raven's Wing, featuring a teaming of the legendary literary detectives C. Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes, has just been launched by PS Publishing.
"In this lengthy interview, Stephen discusses these new and old triumphs, and many things that came between them in his remarkable career, including times spent in Hollywood, his work with directors Ken Russell and William Freidkin, and what he thought of Inside Number 9's Ghostwatch tribute episode from 2018. Ian, Stella, Kirsty and Dan were just thrilled to be able to speak to him, as will probably be apparent to the listener."