The tenth edition of The Ghastling is available for pre-order today, and it could not be more beautiful. Nathaniel Hébert has done a fantastic job of lovingly recreating the look of the occult exploitation movies of the sixties and seventies. My Victorian spookfest, Florabelle, sits alongside stories by Alys Hobbs, Dan Coxon, Catrin Kean, David Hartley and many more. I cannot wait for Halloween.
Hellebore #1, the sacrifice issue, is available to pre-order now. There’s an interview with witchcraft expert Ronald Hutton, essays by David Southwell of Hookland and DeeDee Chainey of Folklore Thursday, and something by me on the lost Doom Paintings of Medieval Suffolk. Maria J. Pérez Cuervo has worked hard to create something really special in Hellebore. Tell your spooky friends.
I’ve got a limited number of signed Pseudotooth bookmarks for all new Patreon supporters (including the $1 tier folks). As a patron, you’ll see patron-only poems, stories, and blogs while I embark on this new novel. Maybe even a few cute dog pictures, too.
I’ll be talking cityscapes in SFF with Amy Butt, Jared Shurin, and Al Robertson at Nine Worlds on Saturday. I’ll have a bundle of Pseudotooth bookmarks with me, so if you see me, say hi, and I’ll hand some out.
You find us from 11:45 – 12:45 in the Bordeaux Suite.
Panellists discuss the architecture of SFF – how cities are represented and how they can flavour a story. The discussion will range from the dystopian feel of cyberpunk urban jungle to the various flavours of fantasy as well as examining how real world cities are seen in fiction.
While I’ve got you, something cool has happened – Pseudotooth has been longlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize! If you’re feeling benevolent, all you need to do to vote is go here and leave a comment in this format:
[yourusername] – Vote # 1 – [Book title only] [yourusername] – Vote # 2 – [Book title only] [A short review of one of the two books.]
You have until the 8th of August to vote. Remember to vote for two books on the list, or your vote won’t be counted.
Phew. Fresh off the train from Unsung Live #8. Met some lovely people, listened to some lovely (and scary and violent and hilarious) fiction, and got to share A Little Star, my story of an opium den, a convict, and a shiny little something. It’s online now, if you fancy reading it.
A lamp with a shade of red paper. No matter what draughty lodge or bawdy house Benjamin laid his head for the night, he saw that Lime Street crimson whenever he closed his eyes, the way another man might see the face of a girl he loved, or a child a ghost in the doorway.
I adjust my bonnet, take a breath, and emerge into the lamplight. I can see the public in the cheap seats, and they thunder their appreciation with hands and feet and fag smoke. I smell spilt beer and ladies’ perfume disguising sweat, and I fear I will be sick. My debut. Climbing up and out and over the smoky precipice, I want to turn tail and run for the wings, but I wouldn’t survive it. The master of ceremonies wields his gavel like a sabre.
“Ladies and gennlemun, boys and girls! MISTER – PADDY – SYKES!”
This is me doing my annual Goth National Service. Here’s my list of dark little treats and recommendations to help you traverse the purgatory of December.
How To Survive The Most Wonderful Time of The Year When You Find This Time of The Year Pretty Unbearable Actually.
Vincent Price decks his tree. Just ignore the feet sticking out at the bottom…
2016 has been nightmare upon nightmare, but it was last year that we lost the incomparable Christopher Lee. Mr Lee’s baritone M.R. James readings have become a Christmas tradition in my household, and thank all the sunken crowns of East Anglia, you can buy a DVD of the lot. Forget carols at Kings’. Don your mortar board and enter James’ study for an evening of room-temperature madeira and dread.
For reading matter, cosy won’t cut it. You want something cold. Lauren Owen’s The Quick is a fresh look at the vampire myth, and it stayed with me for its sense of the physicality of being undead as much as Owen’s clever wordplay when it came to the child blood-drinkers of Victorian London.
I was on a panel at London ComicCon with Alison Littlewood earlier this year, so I picked up one of her novels and now I have an incurable fear of cupboards. I’m saying no more. Read The Unquiet House.
In The Malleus Maleficarum, Kramer and Sprenger wrote that Christmas was a good time for witches to work their magic, as all the revelry made bad Christians easy to bring over to the Devil. In that spirit, please enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate.
Speaking of bewitching, other things to treat yourself to include cosmetics, which I’m strangely shy of talking about despite having written an entire book on the subject. I’ve always been a fairly atypical consumer of beauty products, so I hope you’ll understand when I say if you wish to smell like this…
…then wear this:
Incense Avignon by Comme des Garçons is bottled ritual. Morrissey used to have it sprayed into concert halls before he came onstage to foster a feeling of holiness and dread. I always think it smells like Rasputin might if someone forced him to have a bath. Holy smoke and hard drink.
And for your filthy sinful face…
I’ve been a fan of Aromaleigh cosmetics for years and years, and they keep getting better. I never end up in the MAC shop, because Aromaleigh not only beat them on pigment, price, and quality, but their ranges are inspired by arse-kicking historical women, Dante’s Inferno, and deep space, which are really the only topics worth focusing on when browsing eyeshadows. The Hannibal-themed collection, This Is My Design, is particularly delightful for having a copper duochrome shade called Abattoir. “Ooh, you’re so glittery. What is that?” “ABATTOIR.”
I’m going to close this year’s guide on an unusually festive note with Mediaeval Baebes, because if there’s one thing December is good for, it’s putting a big blanket around your shoulders, drinking red wine and pretending to be a weatherbeaten medieval king. Mediaeval Baebes are especially good at taking traditional carols and imbuing them with that sense of midwinter darkness you just don’t get with Slade. Salva nos, stella maris…
There, now. Doesn’t that feel better?
And remember, at Christmas, Christopher Lee always wore Vincent Price’s special Christmas fez. Make spookiness a part of your festive traditions, for the sake of our dear departed Goth Granddads.
I’m over on The Literary Consultancy’s blog talking about my journey from scribbles to proofs. I used their manuscript services when I didn’t know where to turn with Pseudotooth, and I’d recommend them to anyone.