A giant ape… A heartless priest… A descent into depravity under London… An immortal hound… A baby thrown up by the sea… A Voodoo prayer… A legend made flesh in the eyes of a terrified child…
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes…
From human individuals with an evil streak or deeply aberrant nature, to those who are simply physically wrong. From beasts of the imagination to modern myths from the big screen…
In these 15 stories representing the very best recent fiction by the writer of TV's Ghostwatch and Afterlife and the acclaimed novella "Whitstable", you will meet all the things that made our childhoods terrifying - and bearable.
Others had Bobby Moore or Elvis. We had Christopher Lee and Quatermass. We had monsters in our hearts forever…
"A marvellous collection. Imaginative, intelligent writing from a master craftsman. Highly recommended" Dark Musings
"Serves both as a time capsule of Volk's work over the years, but also his diversity in how he crafts his stories" Gef Fox - Wag the Fox
"A very fine collection" Simon Bestwick
"Where would horror be without Stephen Volk? Very much the poorer is the answer. The book collects 15 stories that range from the touching ('Swell Head') to the outrageous ('In the Colosseum'), from the witty ('Who Dies Best') to the unsettling ('After the Ape'). All demonstrate Volk to be as versatile and creative in the short story medium as he is as a screenwriter. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary, well-written, intelligent horror fiction" John Llewellyn Probert
"A frankly remarkable collection of stories... Up there with the very best" Matthew S. Dent - Mad Man With A Blog
"A captivating showcase of the author's skill in creating dark and disturbing material... Warmly recommended" Mario Guslandi, British Fantasy Society website
After The Ape
Who Dies Best
A Paper Tissue
In The Colosseum
*Appeal For Witnesses
[*new, never-before-published stories]
by Stephen Volk
Afterword by Mark Morris
(Novella, Spectral Press, 2013)
PUBLISHED IN 2013 TO HONOUR THE CENTENARY OF PETER CUSHING'S BIRTH
(cover art and design by Ben Baldwin)
1971. A middle-aged man, wracked with grief, walks along the beach at Whitstable in Kent.
A boy approaches him and, taking him to be the famous vampire-hunter Van Helsing from the Hammer movies, asks for his help. Because he believes his mother's boyfriend is a vampire...
"Not only a gripping story but a vivid vignette about one of Britain's best loved actors." Hellnotes
"This will engross and enthrall all Hammer fans and those who adore and revere Cushing. It brings his screen persona vividly to life in a modern context when the monsters are all too real." Tony Earnshaw, author of An Actor And a Rare One: Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and Beating the Devil: The Making of 'Night of the Demon'
"A chilling cat-and-mouse tale... Whitstable is a triumph... as fitting a tribute to the man as could be imagined." Starburst
"A brilliantly written and finely detailed character piece with an uncomfortable undercurrent of modern day horror... so honest and human than even readers unfamiliar with Cushing will find this an extremely powerful read" HellBound Times
"Possibly the most touching tale that we have had the privilege to review... Whitstable effortlessly blurs reality and fiction in a beautifully realised tale of good versus evil... A must read; not only for fans of Cushing but lovers of great writing in general" Geek Syndicate
"The sensitivity, technical virtuosity and razor-sharp wit of the author's storytelling make Whitstable an entertaining, emotionally resonant and insightful read... Stephen Volk is at the top of his game... An enthusiastic salute to a towering figure in British cinema, a perceptive exploration of the link between imagined and experienced horror, and one of the most gripping and original stories you'll read this year" Andy Hedgecock (co-Fiction Editor, Interzone)
"Stephen Volk has produced a novella that works both as a gripping thriller and as a beautiful and heart-breaking tribute to one of horror's finest stars... Very few books have actually caused tears to well up in my eyes. The love and respect that the author has for Peter Cushing is laid bare on the pages, and as a reader you cannot help but become totally immersed in this poignant tale" Jim McLeod, Ginger Nuts of Horror
"Elegant, moving and absolutely magnificent" Simon Kurt Unsworth
"Peter Cushing was my first hero, and in my opinion Stephen Volk has done something heroic by putting the man who fought onscreen monsters at the heart of a very human drama. Sad, tinged with a palpable sense of loss, beautifully written, and blessed with an unerring eye for crucial detail, Whitstable is a story to savour. If I may be so bold, I'm convinced that Peter Cushing would have approved" Gary McMahon
"The depth of feeling with this character is so strong that you may just want to reach into the pages of the book to console him... A wonderfully written and absorbing novella" Ebookwyrm
"A wonderful piece" David Pirie, author of A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema
"I loved Whitstable! It's a beautiful love letter to a man, a genre, and an era that means so much to those of us of a certain age" Mick Garris, producer, Masters of Horror
"A genuine masterpiece... Moving, haunting and triumphant" Johnny Mains (editor, Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Books of Horror Stories)
"Simply brilliant writing... I almost pity Mr Volk, as he is now in the unenviable position of having to follow this truly inspired piece of work" Dave Brzeski, British Fantasy Society website
"At the heart of this novella is a subtle and beautifully realised portrayal of the power of fiction in our lives, for better or worse, and in Cushing himself we see a man who embodies that principle in all its pleasurable ambiguity. With the possible exception of his wonderful story 'After the Ape', Whitstable is Stephen Volk's best work to date, and I loved it" Peter Tennant, Black Static
"A moving tale... - and one which is crying out to be adapted into a biodrama. How about it, BBC Four?" Ian Berriman, SFX Magazine (5/5 stars)
"This is compulsive, fast-paced writing at its best... an enthralling read... a wonderful tribute to one of the great icons of horror and is up there with Volk's best work" This Is Horror
"Utterly engrossing" Barry Forshaw, author of British Gothic Cinema
"Utterly superb writing, clear as well as being full of haunting feelings... A story for our times... This is not only a classic work of fiction (but) an important one too" D. F. Lewis
"A beautiful piece of work -- heartfelt, respectful, elegant and brave" Dread Central (5/5 stars)
"While it has its chilling moments, it's less a horror story than a moving meditation on loss and heroism, and the ways in which the illusions of cinema can act both as an ironic counterpoint to 'real life' and a set of sustaining myths in the midst of its trials... Horror aficionados will enjoy the film references (...) but it's the warmth and humanity at the heart of this dark tale that really count. Highly recommended." David Sutton, Fortean Times
"This is the subtlest of horrors... touchingly poignant one moment, then heart-stoppingly dark the next" The Eloquent Page
"Undoubtedly one of the most touching and heartfelt books I have ever read" Katie Doherty, Black Sunday Magazine
"A terrific and heartfelt gem that blends real and imagined history to powerful effect. Peter Cushing, a complex and much-loved figure whose fundamental decency shone through even his darkest roles, here responds to a child's plea for help with the persistence and moral courage of the fairytale heroes he often portrayed." Stephen Gallagher (The Bedlam Detective, Eleventh Hour)
"It takes a fiction writer, Stephen Volk, to get closest to who (Peter Cushing) was and what he meant" Kim Newman, Sight & Sound
"I absolutely loved Whitstable. It is fantastic. Haunting, scary, and an incredible rendering of Peter Cushing, private man and actor" Reece Shearsmith, writer/actor (League of Gentlemen, Psychoville)
"Weakened by grief. the cinema's celebrated Van Helsing takes on a vile modern monster - persuasively done, compassionate and satisfying. Mr Cushing would surely smile." Phil Rickman (The Wine of Angels, Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
"To conjure an iconic character so vividly, and to then sustain that character for the entire story, amidst a fascinating immersion into Cushing's careeer and British film making, is some feat. I was impressed." Adam Nevill (The Ritual, Last Days)
"A stunningly original story and a superb example of the novella as an art form." James Everington, Scattershot Writing
"Volk has always been a sensitive writer and this novella certainly fits perfectly into his oeuvre. At the same time the story acts as a memento mori for all of us. It's easy to come away from this exquisite novella wishing that Peter Cushing had been a friend." Nancy Kilpatrick, Beware the Dark
"One of the best things - maybe THE best - that I've read this year. An honest-to-god triumph." Simon Bestwick (The Condemned)
"Just finished Whitstable and erm, seem to have something in my eye. Having been lucky enough to meet Peter Cushing, I can honestly say Mr Volk has beautifully nailed the man. A lovely novella, highly recommended." Anne Billson
"An extraordinary story. This is the best of horror fiction, and if you go away and hunt out only one book from this list you should make it Whitstable" Top Five Books 2013, Richard Wright
"Whitstable will leave you shocked, surprised and left without doubt you've read a novella of great beauty by a writer at the pinnacle of his craft" Anthony Cowin, Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog
"I have just finished Whitstable and I have been touched, mesmerised and even humbled by such an awesome piece of writing" Zonacrypt
"Wonderful and touching... One of the most moving books I've read in the last year - and by that I mean blubbing in my beard. A very special little book" Jim Moon, Hypnobob
"Profound and touching... Highly recommended" Horror World
"Volk has already given us horribly convincing personifications of human evil in Ghostwatch and Afterlife - and here he gives us his most striking vision of redemption, helped along by the mildest-seeming of heroes. But that was always Cushing's strength, for me - under the quirkiness of his heroes, there was always a very steely edge and that's something captured wonderfully here" Paul Magrs, Life on Magrs blog
(cover of Fortean Times #301 [May 2013] featuring the article "Peter Cushing: The Human Face of Horror" by Stephen Volk, as well as an extract from Whitstable, the novella, soundbites by horror luminaries on the great actor, and a feature on "Weird Whitstable")
For more information on Spectral Press and "Spectral Visions" novellas, go to the Spectral Press website.
by Stephen Volk
(novella, Gray Friar Press, 2009)
*Shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award
*Shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award
Welcome to Shewstone House Hotel. One of those quiet places.
An oasis of calm to escape the stresses and anxieties of modern living.
Where a non-paying guest waits for his next victim...
"Vardøger" is Gray Matter Novella #5 in the series (after "Rain" by Conrad Williams, "Hard Roads" by Steve Vernon, "The Appetite" by Nicholas Royle, and "Groaning Shadows" by Paul Finch).
100 signed limited hardbacks/ 300 unsigned trade paperbacks
"This debut novella from veteran screenwriter Stephen (Ghostwatch) Volk wastes no time: the storytelling is swift and its terrors are positively Serling-esque... With abundant frights, Vardøger is sure to leave even the lost stalwart reader unsettled." Rue Morgue Magazine
"Fully as cunning and frightening as any of his previous work" theundeadrat.com
Stephen Volk's first short story collection (Gray Friar Press, 2006)
Find a copy here
A rich blend of dark fiction:
A strapped-for-cash undertaker who is given an unspeakable task to perform...
Two sisters who leave a saucer of milk out for something that isn't human - and may not be real.
A Hollywood agent who has a problem with rats: for once, the four-legged kind.
A group of ragamuffin children who find a body during the London Blitz: and decide to keep it.
A city businessman's memory of his father, and the day his life changed forever...
"BAFTA-winning writer Stephen Volk outraged the critics with his first screenplay, Ken Russell's Gothic, and shocked an unsuspecting nation with his notorious BBC TV Halloween hoax Ghostwatch. His new, gripping supernatural drama series Afterlife was called "Terrific television" (The Guardian) and "Unmissable" (Mail on Sunday).
This first collection of his short fiction, like his best work for the screen, combines scenes of intense physical and psychological horror, with moments aching sadness and poignancy. Not without occasional stabs of black humour. Whether exploring traditional ghost stories reminiscent of the past, disturbing crimes of the present, or the wild imaginings of a far flung future, Volk delights in the dark corners of haunted houses and haunted people alike."
"Four of the sixteen stories appear for the first time... and they are all good." Ellen Datlow, Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
"An excellent collection" Video Vault
"The dark corners of Stephen Volk's short stories contain all that is heart-rending, grotesque and rage-inducing in the human condition. But he illuminates these enigmatic and unsettling pieces with a polished, subversive and delirious wit. This is a cracking collection." Andy Hedgecock (Associate Editor, Interzone)
Introduction by Tim Lebbon
The Best in the Business
The Latin Master
Three Fingers, One Thumb
The Anamorph of Hans Baldung Grien
The Chapel of unrest
The Fall Children
A Pair of Pince-Nez
Curious Green Colours Sleep Furiously
The Good Unknown
No Harm Done
Afterword by Stephen Volk
Find out more about Gray Friar Press
Find out more about Tim Lebbon
A novelization by Stephen Volk from his own screenplay
(Grafton Books, 1987)
(Virgin Vision Ltd)
"To create a ghost story, what is that? But to create a ghost..."
June 16th 1816 at the Villa Diodati. The famous night of inspired imaginations that created monsters.
Or was something real created that night?
Something born out of electricity and laudanum, formed from their most horrible secrets, congealed in jealousy, lust, guilt and visceral terror? Some all-powerful creature that vowed revenge on its creators.
Byron. Shelley. Mary. Polidori. Claire.
Perhaps by morning they would escape the nightmare. If they were all alive by morning.
If they were sane.