Arnos Vale Cemetery

Took my son for a jolly in Arnos Vale Cemetery today – I know, he’s a lucky lad, right?

My work in progress, We Are Gathered, will hopefully be performed here in October, so I wanted to get a feel for the place. After an explore through the shadows and having collected over a hundred and twenty photos (ones featured salvaged from the mass of photobombings), I have enough to start on the second draft.

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Arnos Vale is a forty-five acre Victorian Garden Cemetery alive with nature trails, a Forest school, guided tours, hidden symbols, underground tunnels and weddings, in the heart of the vibrant UK city of Bristol. For more info, visit www.arnosvale.org

 

Holding Hands Uncovered

mythic3With Mythic, a new quarterly SF&F magazine publishing my piece of short fiction, Holding Hands, next month, I wanted to give you a little back story about this rather personal tale.

A while ago my son and I were having some difficulty getting on. After around six months of very little communication between us, either verbally or physically, we happened to be walking back from town, him trailing behind in silence like usual. As we did so, I felt his hand slip in mine. It was wonderful, brief, and a beginning.

It was that moment which I attempted to capture in writing, and from that, Holding Hands developed. I’m not proficient enough as a writer yet to have done that, but I’ve tried. I hope you enjoy the story.

Sssh … I’m Writing Horror, But Don’t Tell Anyone.

One of the tricks with writing horror, I think, is to not let the reader know that that’s what you’re doing. Allowing the reader to lose themselves in the writing may just be enough to blind their eyes to the terrors the writer is planning to unleash until those fiends bop the reader on the nose. That’s what happened to me when reading Bradbury’s The Emissary, originally published in Dark Carnival (1947). I’ll say here, that if you haven’t read it, then go and rectify that now (it is available for free online), and then return. Do promise to come back though.

When I was introduced to Bradbury, with the novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I found his frenetic style, his prose that seems to be an enthusiastic mish-mash of emotions and images, quite difficult to follow at first, but his lyricism has a magic to it that holds you to the story. Either that, or he’s just damn good fun! Fun; remember, the reader isn’t supposed to know they’re reading a horror story.

The Emissary is about Martin, a bed-ridden boy, his pet, Dog, and the “young, laughing, pretty school teacher”, Miss Chun Chang-cheon. The story fits into a horror subgenre and has childhood, loneliness, death as its themes. It’s a story about something that we all have some experience. It’s a story that makes us think, as all good horror and all good fiction does.

The skilful, very natural, way Bradbury narrates this story from the point of view of Martin produces powerful characterisation; we are there in that room with Martin, feeling what he feels, hearing what he hears. “Now, Martin heard dog returning through the warm afternoon sun, barking, running, barking again. Footsteps came following after dog. Somebody rang the downstairs bell, softly. Mom answered the door. Voices talked.”

Bradbury is adept at conveying the simplistic language and evolving thought processes of children which may reach the reader on some sub-conscious level and turn off the safety switches in our adult brain that prevent us from using our imagination too much, but more importantly, it immerses the reader into the main character’s world.

We have no description of the dog; even its name is Dog, reminding us that the pet is simply there to bring the outside world to Martin. “Over a tall hill, leaving footprints in the tall hills of leaves, down to where the kids ran shouting on bikes and roller skates in the Park, […] And down into the town where rain had fallen dark, earlier; and mud was under car wheels, down between the feet of week-end shoppers. […] And wherever Dog went, then Martin could go too; because Dog would always tell him by the touch, feel, the wet, dry, or weather-smell of his coat.”

By Martin’s act of putting a note around Dog’s neck, on which is written, “MY NAME IS DOG. WILL YOU VISIT MY OWNER, IS SICK? PLEASE FOLLOW ME!”, Bradbury conveys Martin’s desperation and loneliness, and thus endearing Martin to the reader.

The description of Miss Chun is brief but succinct: “way she smiled, […] her bright eyes, her soft chestnut hair, her quick walk, her nice stories about castles and people.” She is the only character that is described, and it happens in two places. It is the lack of description of the other characters (even the other visitors are only named and referenced by their occupation), that gives Miss Chun much more weight and importance.

His kind-hearted mum, the other character in the book, is significantly less detailed than the school-teacher, and is relegated to dialogue. As well as highlighting the importance of Miss Chun, this also shows a boy’s possible view of his mum, as a person that is ‘just there’, ‘just mum’.

If you haven’t read this story (what are you still doing here? I thought you were skipping over to it) then I’m not going to spoil your enjoyment by telling you the end. If you have read it, then you may agree with what I’m about to say. The conclusion is utterly brilliant in its simplicity and, for me a reader who was lost in Martin’s world, I never saw it coming. It was this that caused a chill to run down my spine when I reached the last sentence.

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The Anatomy of Monsters vol 2

OPEN NOW FOR SUBMISSIONS:
THE ANATOMY OF MONSTERS VOL. 2
Collected by Robert Teun

(Twitter: @RDTEUN)
$25.00 PLUS COPY
Min word count: 3,000 words.
Max word count: 10,000 words.
Send submissions to: theanatomyofmonsters@gmail.com
DEADLINE: OCT 31ST 2017

THE ANATOMY OF MONSTERS VOL. 2
We’re looking for new takes on old monsters!
What unholy pact did the very first vampire make to become what they are now?
How did Werewolves become slaves of the moon?
Who was the first Ghost in the world and how did they react?
The Mummy, The Hunchback, The Phantom Of The Opera, The Invisible Man, and even The Creature From The Black Lagoon…
How did they come to be?
How do they deal with their new nature?
And who suffers because of it?
This volume will be open to more folklore horror, Witches! Baba Yaga! And many, many more!
I prefer less splatter and more scare.
News will follow on these pages:

The Anatomy Of Monsters Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/TheAnatomyOfMonster/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: @RDTEUN

The Dark Half of the Year

the dark half of the yearHaving recently joined the North Bristol Writers, I found out that, in late 2016, they published an anthology called The Dark Half of the Year.

From the creepiness of Garland’s The Ancestors and Dornan’s Dark Time, to the chilling This is Me by Henney, and just plain weirdness of Meyjes’ The Last Four in the Bar, The Dark Half … is a collection of stories that explores the vastness of the afterlife. It is also eclectic, with Newland’s tragic tale set during the Roman invasion of Britain and Sutton’s futuristic take on the ghost story, keeping the company of scolding grandmothers, vengeful in-laws, and righteous wraiths, alongside Harrison’s spin on Cornish folklore and, of course, the gruesome moral tale provided by Shinn. My favourite story of the anthology, Winternights by Herring, hauls ancient myth into a dystopian future whilst almost revelling in a vivid portrayal of bloodlust, truly making The Dark Half of the Year a celebration of the dead.

The Dark Half of the Year is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

It Has To Be Scary

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The submissions call for which I’m crafting a story has a stipulation: Pieces have to be scary. Easy then? No, considering I haven’t been scared by a work of fiction yet.

Though, four authors have come close, so far: Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Adam Nevill.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Bradbury with his short story, The Emissary, and King’s novel, Misery, had managed to give me gooseflesh. This was achieved, perhaps, by their ability to immerse the reader in the story and the characters, in addition to perfect timing.

Barker’s short fiction anthology, The Books of Blood, heralded a new age of Horror for me. These stories were like listening to Iommi’s (et al) War Pigs for the first time; the text glutinous with dread.

With Nevill, it was the building of, and unrelenting, tension in the first part of The Ritual that may have been achieved through the main protagonist’s increasing isolation, as well as setting and pace.

All I have to do with this technical knowledge is apply it … within a 2,000 word frame.

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