Spectral Press’ 2013 in review

Spectral Press logoThe genre we love so much has not been treated particularly kindly this year: the deaths of not just some of the giants of the field (Richard Matheson and James Herbert spring easily to mind in this regard) but also unsung heroes like Joel Lane, the latter leaving a particularly noticeable vacuum behind, who will be very keenly missed (he was looking forward to writing something for Spectral at some point). More than that, it’s not just the genre in general which has experienced a troubled twelve months: on a personal level it’s been a tough year too. Spectral has had to pare down its publishing schedule slightly, due to some health issues (which are now receding) and a move to new headquarters, meaning that a couple of books have either had to be rescheduled or will be appearing a little later than planned.

Be assured, however, that they will appear at some point in the future: after all, Spectral Press is a one-man operation (with a little help from the wife), and there are only 24 hours in a day. Plus, believe it or not, there is an underlying philosophy to all of this, which we hope you, as valued customers, will understand. We want to bring you the best books we can – and, to that end, we would rather a book arrive a little later than originally planned if it means that the highest quality has been attained, than just rushing for the sake of getting the book out on time. The imprint has been built upon the rock of quality, and we intend wholeheartedly to maintain that reputation. We ask, therefore, that you please bear with us in pursuing that ideal.

Whitstable cover image

However, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom: Spectral can proudly (justifiably so) point to publishing the superb Whitstable by Stephen Volk, which has gone on to become the press’ most successful book, selling over a thousand copies across all formats and receiving universal praise from readers, bloggers and reviewers alike. Spectral itself was nominated for the second year running for a British Fantasy Award (the PS Publishing Independent Press Award) and John Llewellyn Probert’s brilliant homage to the films of Vincent Price, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, was not only shortlisted for Best Novella in the BFAs but it also won the award. Additionally, at World Fantasy Con back in November, we launched two books by two very fine authors, Tim Lebbon (Still Life [novella]) and Paul Kane (Ghosts [collection]). This only goes to show that hard work pays dividends, and all this recognition of that work is most gratifyingly received and acknowledged.

"Still Life" © Tim Lebbon/Spectral Press 2013. Artwork © Jim Burns 2013

“Still Life” © Tim Lebbon/Spectral Press 2013. Artwork © Jim Burns 2013

Something which we are enormously proud of, apart from the recognition, is that Spectral launched a new side-imprint, called Spectral Screen, in December 2013, devoted entirely to genre TV and film, and we welcomed a new editor to oversee it, Tony Earnshaw. It was launched with The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark, the director who introduced the annual seventies tradition of the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas strand, broadcast in December every year between 1971 and 1978. The man is a true gentleman, who was rescued from undeserved obscurity by the editor of the book (Spectral Screen General Editor Tony Earnshaw), and brought into the limelight once again in front of many ardent fans of his work. The icing on the cake, however, is the fact that Gordon Clark fan Mark Gatiss, of Sherlock and League of Gentlemen fame (and who also directed this year’s A Ghost Story for Christmas production, The Tractate Middoth), agreed to write a short Foreword for the book.

"The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark", Cover image ©  1971 - 2013 Graham Morris. Design by John Oakey.

“The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark”, Cover image © 1971 – 2013 Graham Morris. Design by John Oakey.

So, what’s coming from Spectral in 2014? More chapbooks by the likes of Angela Slatter, Robert Shearman, Lisa L. Hannett and Stephen Bacon (plus the rescheduled one by Simon Bestwick), novellas by Cate Gardner and John Llewellyn Probert (the latter a sequel to The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine), a novellette from Ray Cluley (Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow), the Christmas Ghost story anthology, a reprint of Johnny Mains’ award-winning compilation book of stories from the (in)famous Pan Book of Horror StoriesBack from the Dead in paperback, and possibly a surprise book or two. The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark will also be issued in hardback in January. 

Terror by Night - cover for Johnny Main's "Back From the Dead". Artwork © 1974/2013 Les Edwards.

Terror by Night – cover for Johnny Main’s “Back From the Dead”. Artwork © 1974/2013 Les Edwards.

We here at Spectral are particularly looking forward to the move from Spectral Towers to Château Spectrale in the grounds of the new Marshall-Jones Mansion.This will be a new start in a new place, and we will endeavour to produce even better books for your reading pleasure. As we enter our FOURTH year of operation, both Simon and Lizzie are justifiably proud of the achievements the imprint has garnered in such a short time, and so we are going to step things up a gear. A reputation for quality, once gained, must be maintained and pushed forward. THAT is our goal for 2014, and we sincerely hope that you will be around to share it with us!

We cannot end this little missive with something heartwarming: let it be known that Spectral authors SIMON BESTWICK and CATE GARDNER announced their engagement yesterday – so, from us here at Spectral Towers, a hearty congratulations and best wishes for the year ahead.  Finally, may we wish ALL our readers, subscribers, writers and artists a


See you next year – onwards and upwards!

Still Life & Ghosts: final covers

Here they are – the final front cover images for the two new books from Spectral, due to be launched at this year’s World Fantasy Convention on Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, between 2pm and 3pm at the Brighton Hilton Metropole, Brighton, UK.  Not only will Tim Lebbon and Paul Kane be there to sign the books, but also artists Edward Miller (Les Edwards) and Jim Burns as well, plus Nancy Kilpatrick (Power of the Blood World series) too, who wrote the introduction to Ghosts. 

You can preorder both titles now – whether you’re attending WFC or not. There are two price points: one WITH postage included (for those not attending) and the other WITHOUT. If you ARE coming to the Convention, you can just pick them up and get them signed.

STILL LIFE by Tim Lebbon

"Still Life" © Tim Lebbon/Spectral Press 2013. Artwork © Jim Burns 2013

“Still Life” © Tim Lebbon/Spectral Press 2013. Artwork © Jim Burns 2013

Jenni’s husband was part of the Road of Souls––his flesh swarmed by ants and pecked by rooks, bones crushed to powder by wheels of dread––and yet she still saw him in the pool.

            The incursion has been and gone, the war is over, and the enemy is in the land, remote and ambiguous.  The village outskirts are guarded by vicious beasts, making escape impossible.  The village itself is controlled by the Finks, human servants to the enemy––brutal, callous, almost untouchable. 

            Everything is less than it was before… time seems to move slower, the population is much denuded, and life itself seems to hold little purpose.  This is not living, it’s existing.

            But in a subjugated population, there is always resistance. 

            For Jenni, the happiest part of this new life is visiting the pool in the woods, seeing her dead husband within, and sharing memories of happier times.  It calms her and makes her feel alive.

            But the resistance comes to her for help. 

            And when her dead husband tells her it is time to fight, Jenni’s life is destined for a shattering change.  

“Tim Lebbon conjures up the horror of a world distorted by fear, distrust, and something unspeakable. With respectful nods to H.P Lovecraft Still Life rubs reality up against nightmares in this compact, engrossing treat.” Muriel Gray

STILL LIFE by Tim Lebbon

UK £21

EU £23.50

US & RoW $42

STILL LIFE by Tim Lebbon (World Fantasy Convention attendees only – pick up from venue)

UK £17.50

EU €21.00

US & RoW $30.00

GHOSTS by Paul Kane

"Ghosts" © Paul Kane/Spectral Press 2013. Artwork © Edward Miller 2007 - 2013.

“Ghosts” © Paul Kane/Spectral Press 2013. Artwork © Edward Miller 2007 – 2013.

They are all around us all the time. But only a few make contact, and only certain people are destined to see the Ghosts. Here, you’ll read a lonely shade’s tale… a deceased old man’s house being invaded… how one person discovers the true meaning of the Christmas spirit, while a parent struggles to come to terms with the sad loss of a child… and what happens when the ghosts of war go on the rampage, or when a monstrous wraith stalks the streets looking for revenge. Gathering together all of award-winning and bestselling author Paul Kane’s supernatural fiction, including three brand new stories–one a sequel to Charles Dickens’ ‘The Signal-Man’–and featuring an introduction from bestselling horror author Nancy Kilpatrick (Power of the Blood World series), the script of Wind Chimes introduced by its director Brad Watson (7th Dimension), plus suitably atmospheric cover art from Edward Miller, this is one collection that will haunt you forever.

GHOSTS by Paul Kane

UK £21

EU £23.50

US & RoW $42

GHOSTS by Paul Kane (World Fantasy Convention attendees only – pick up from venue)

UK £30.00

EU €21.00

US & RoW $30.00


UK £35

EU £42

US & RoW $90

PLEASE NOTE:  we apologise for the high postage rates abroad, but it’s out of our control – sorry!!

COMBINED OFFER –  (World Fantasy Convention attendees only – pick up from venue)

UK £35.00

EU €37.50

US & RoW $65.00

Hope to hear from you soon!

News 05:08:2013

Safe Harbour by Edward Miller ©2007 - 2013. All rights reserved

Safe Harbour by Edward Miller ©2007 – 2013. All rights reserved

So, to brighten up this dreary Monday morning, let’s give you some news about some forthcoming publications…

The cover picture above is from Paul Kane’s Ghosts supernatural fiction collection due to be launched at World Fantasy Con in Brighton in November. It’s by Edward Miller, and we think it’s a wonderfully evocative piece which conveys the atmosphere of the book admirably. The hardback edition will also feature Paul Kane’s script to the  Wind Chimes film, which has been featured on TV and in Fangoria magazine, and there’ll be a little introduction by the film’s director Brad Watson. Even better than just reading the script, you will be able to watch the film as there will be a DVD of Wind Chimes as a bonus extra.

Launching at the same event will be Tim Lebbon’s Still Life novella, and that one will be wrapped up in a cover by renowned artist Jim Burns, whose work has graced many bestsellers over the years. As soon as we have the cover concept we’ll be sure to show you right here!

Spectral is planning to put HALF of each hardback print run on pre-order next month, while the rest will be for the WFC launch – this is to give EVERYONE a chance to get hold of copies. If you want to maker sure of your copy now please email spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com to reserve your copy. They are expected to retail around £20 each (plus p+p), but a special price will offered if you pre-order both (and you’ll save on postage that way, too).

Roll on World Fantasy Con 2013!

Major news – 18:06:2013

British Fantasy Awards nomineeWe’ve been dying to tell you this news for about six weeks or more now, but at last we can reveal that Spectral Press has, for the second year running, been nominated for a British Fantasy Award, for Best Small Press (PS Publishing Independent Press). This is an absolute validation for all the hard work we’ve been pouring into Spectral over the last 30 months, and it certainly puts the imprint into the top flight of genre publishers (at least we like to think so… ). There’s some stiff opposition in the category, but that’s all for the best in our belief.

Additionally, Spectral publications received two other nominations, both in the Best Novella Category – namely, The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry and The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John L. Probert. We think it’s absolutely brilliant that the first two Spectral Visions novellas each receive a nomination.  We’ve included the links to the Kindle books on Amazon below:


The Respectable Face of Tyranny by Gary Fry




The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine cover image



And, just for good measure, here’s the link to Stephen Volk’s Whitstable as well:

Whitstable cover image



Finally, congratulations to ALL the nominees in this year’s awards, which will be presented at World Fantasy Con in Brighton, UK in November. You can find the complete list on the British Fantasy Society website here.

Spectral Press: 2012 retrospective

Spectral Press logoIt’s hard to know where to start when it comes to describing the year Spectral has had. 2011, the imprint’s very first year, was great in itself, and we here at Spectral Towers couldn’t have foreseen how the press would have been taken to the hearts of genre and book lovers everywhere around the globe. Spectral received kudos from writers, readers and bloggers, we gained a few accolades here and there, even making one magazine’s Publisher of the Year. This had gone better than our wildest imaginations had dared to venture.

As you can imagine, we thought that topping 2011’s success was going to be difficult but, if there’s one thing that Spectral isn’t afraid of, it’s commitment. We were determined to do better, to keep publishing great literature, and to developing Spectral into something special. And, judging by the twelve months we’ve just had, it would appear that we have exceeded expectations again.

The second year of a project is often the most difficult – a reputation has been established and standards have been set, both of which have to be fulfilled and maintained at the very least or, as is preferable, bettered in some way. Our unspoken manifesto at the very beginning was simple – to bring quality short stories in the ghostly/supernatural vein to discerning readers, and present them to a high physical and literary standard. That, we like to think, we’ve managed to continue with our acclaimed line of chapbooks, this year publishing fiction by the World Fantasy Award-nominated Simon Kurt Unsworth (Rough Music), as well as Alison Littlewood (The Eyes of Water), Mark West (What Gets Left Behind) and relative newcomer David Tallerman (the latter winning the Spectral Press/This Is Horror short story writing competition earlier in the year with The Way of the Leaves).  Neil Williams, the wizard of photo manipulation, continued to shine in the cover artwork department, thereby consolidating the look of the Spectral ‘brand’ (if we can call it that without sounding pretentious) and Mark West helping everything along with his short promotional videos. Reviews for all have been very positive, solidifying Spectral’s position as an imprint to watch.

Spectral Press also expanded a little this year by introducing a new line of publications, the Spectral Visions series of novellas, starting with Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny in May and followed, in September, by the larger than life John Llewellyn Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine. Both of these books were wrapped in gorgeous covers – by Neil Williams (based on a photograph by Philip Haigh) and JD Busch respectively – and received goodly amounts of praise, both in terms of the stories and the presentation. On top of that, this December saw Spectral publish its first ever anthology, The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, which is our small attempt to revive an old Victorian/Edwardian midwinter tradition. Again, this has received a warm welcome from bloggers and reviewers alike, making a good start to this projected annual series of spooky midwinter/Yule/Christmas collections.

On the accolades front, one of last year’s chapbook tales, King Death by Paul Finch, was republished in Paula Guran’s The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2012 anthology. Paul’s chapbook was also nominated in the British Fantasy Awards in the Short Fiction category. In the same Awards, Spectral Press was nominated for the PS Publishing Independent Press Award – even though we didn’t win, the nomination validated all the hard work that had been put into the imprint over the previous year. Getting nominated for the first year of its career is something of an achievement in itself, another facet which has helped cement its growing reputation with not just the book-buying public but also the writers whose works we want to feature in future publications.

Others have also cited Spectral books in their end of year assessments, people like Anthony Watson, Mark West, and the This Is Horror Awards (in which several Spectral publications have been nominated again this year): Gef Fox of the Wag the Fox blog named What Gets Left Behind as being one of his novels/novellas of the year: and Jim McLeod’s Ginger Nuts of Horror blog named Spectral as its Publisher of the Year. The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine seems to be a favourite amongst more than a few people, closely followed by Mark West’s What Gets Left Behind. Famed anthologist Ellen Datlow recommended Alison Littlewood’s Mexico-set chapbook The Eyes of Water for next year’s Bram Stoker Awards, plus Ellen said a few nice things about Spectral in her latest annual The Best Horror of the Year volume. Stephen Jones, another famed editor/anthologist, also said nice things about the imprint in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.

And so, we look forward to 2013 – a year which promises to be even better than this past twelvemonth. There will be novellas from Stephen (Ghostwatch) Volk and Tim Lebbon, chapbooks from Paul Kane (who will also have a collection of his supernatural/ghost fiction out at the end of the year), Terry Grimwood, Simon Bestwick and British Fantasy Award-winner Angela Slatter, plus the first collected chapbook volume (with new material included) in the summer and, of course, the 2013 edition of the Christmas Annual plus a special illustrated hardback edition of Paul Finch’s novella Sparrowhawk. However, a good publisher doesn’t stand still – I have already started planning 2014’s publications, one of which will be a novella from one of Britain’s finest writers working today, Conrad Williams.

From the above that there was much to celebrate in 2012 – and we here at Spectral Press will be working even harder in 2013 to better the last year in every way possible. Two years ago, we could never have envisaged the kind of impact that the imprint would have, nevertheless there is still much to do to get it to where we would like it to be. We thank all those who have been with us so far, and we further hope that you will be able to come along with us on our third year of publication.

All it remains for us to do is to wish everyone a Prosperous and Productive 2013!! Onwards and upwards, as we are wont to say….

Spectral Press: 2013 line-up

Spectral Press logoMonday morning again – and what better way to cheer everyone up than to tell you about what we have in store for you next year! So, gird those loins, and prepare yourself for some marvellous goodies coming your way from Spectral in 2013:

As you already know, we’ll be continuing to publish the quarterly chapbooks, with stories from Paul Kane (Creakers), Terry Grimwood (Soul Masque), Simon Bestwick (The Judgement Call) and Angela Slatter (Home and Hearth). And, of course, there will be the latest Spectral Visions novella, Whitstable by Stephen Volk coming in May, plus in December the 2013 Christmas Ghost Story Annual. But, this is where it gets really exciting – how does the following grab you?

In the summer we will be putting together the first volume in the Collected Spectral Chapbooks  editions. We also hope to include some new material to go with the first eight stories published in the critically-acclaimed short story series. Format to be announced.

In November we will be publishing an as yet untitled novella from the master storyteller himself, Tim Lebbon. Tim is a New York Times bestseller, is the author of, amongst others, ColdbrookEcho City, and The Heretic Land, as well as numerous novellas and short stories. He has also written five novels with Christopher Golden, and has also written novelisations for various franchises such as 30 Days of Night, Hellboy and Star Wars. This is a particularly exciting coup for Spectral Press and we are very much looking forward to working with Tim on this project.

Paul Kane makes a second appearance, also in November, with a collected edition of his ghost and supernatural short stories, simply called Ghosts. The collection will also feature new material, written specially for the volume.

Finally, we are delighted to announce that we will also be publishing a deluxe illustrated hardback edition of Paul Finch‘s highly-acclaimed novella Sparrowhawk. This will be available both individually and at a special price bundled with the Christmas Annual 2013.

So, lots to look forward to – onwards and upwards!