Theatrum Mundi: the first titles

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We don’t like to stand still here if we can help it, and so we’re going to begin the new working week with some news of the books which will be launching the new Theatrum Mundi imprint.

Ray Cluley’s Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow is a novelette set in the frozen wastes of the far north, and it will be graced with a cover by the legendary science fiction artist Jim Burns. It will be published in November 2014 in a limited signed hardback with dustjacket only. Here’s the blurb:

Gjerta Jørgensen patrols the frozen coastline of Greenland.  She is the first woman to do so as part of Slædepatruljen Sirius, an elite dogsled team pushed to the limits of physical survival, risking hunger, exhaustion, frostbite and attack.  But out here, where beautiful frozen desolation shows you little but snow, ice, and darkness, there is more to fear than this.  She can hear it within the wind.  It waits beneath the snow.

The darkteeth.

With only Søren Olsen and a dozen dogs for company, Gjerta must face these dangers and the darkness that hides in her past.  Or else succumb to the cold and all it brings to haunt her.

This will be followed by Tim Dry’s Ricochet, a novella-length blasphemical wedding of fevered edginess, violence, drug-fuelled nightmares, psychedelia, and madness, set in London and Paris, and written in the mould of a collision between Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs. This one, too, will only be available in limited signed hardback with dustjacket. Tim Dry was one half of the early-eighties robotic dancing phenomenon Tik & Tok as well as being a member, along with Barbie Wilde (Female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II) of the mime/dance troupe Shock who toured the world and supported Gary Numan, and he has also appeared as the creature in the 1982 film Xtro and portrayed J’Quille and a Mon Calamari officer in Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi. Latterly however, he has turned his considerable talents to writing, having had short stories in three horror anthologies: The Bestiarum Vocabulum, Demonology, and Phobophobias, all edited by Dean M. Drinkel. Ricochet is the first volume in a projected series of novellas based in the same universe. This one will surprise, enlighten, anger and repulse in equal measure.

We will also be publishing the imprint’s first ever novel, Steven Savile’s epic urban fantasy/horror Glass Town. More specific details will be forthcoming on that one over the coming months, but suffice to say that not only will the story itself be epic, but also the production values – expect a very special volume with this one.

The above is just a small indication of the new imprint – a line of books which would not necessarily fit in with the normal run of Spectral material but which definitely deserve an equal opportunity of being disseminated and read. It’s going to be a heady mix of every possible ingredient and emotion imaginable, designed both to enrage and enrapture. It promises to be maddening and exciting – so why not join us on the adventure?

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

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A PROSPEROUS 2014!!!

See you next year – onwards and upwards!

Spectral Press Line-up 2014

Spectral Press logoWe here at Spectral Towers love planning ahead, and so we are excited to announce the provisional publication line-up for next year – in other words, this is what we hope to put out, but these things are subject to change. It looks like 2014 is going to be another splendid year for the imprint – what do you think?

Chapbooks:

Untitled by Robert Shearman (March)
Smoke Billows, Soot Falls by Lisa Hannett (June)
TBC – Stephen Bacon (September)
Shadows in Paint by Steve Lockley & Paul Lewis (December)

Novellas:

Hammer of Dr. Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert (TBD)
The Bureau of Them by Cate Gardner (TBD)
NSFW (provisional title) by Conrad Williams (September)
Untitled by Mark Morris (TBD)

Novelette:

Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow by Ray Cluley (November)

Anthology:

The 13 Ghosts of Christmas 2014 (December)
The Spectral Book of Horror Stories Volume 1 
(TBD)

Be sure to let us know what you think!

A Ghostly Glimpse of the Future: The Spectral Book of Horror Stories

Spectral Press logoTHE SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES

Edited by MARK MORRIS

Spectral Press is proud to announce the launch in 2014 of the first volume of The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, to be edited by acclaimed novelist Mark Morris (Toady, Stitch, The Immaculate, Fiddleback, and the forthcoming Obsidian Heart trilogy). It will be issued annually, in much the same manner as the Pan and Fontana Books of Horror and Ghost Stories were in days gone by – indeed, these two series were the direct inspiration for The Spectral Book of Horror Stories. As such, they are Mark’s personal homage to those older volumes, and represent the fulfilment of a long-held ambition of his. The series will most definitely be modern and forward-looking, yet at the same time mindful of its debt to Pan’s and Fontana’s pioneering efforts. The covers for the series will be by award-winning artist Vincent Chong. Each instalment will contain between fifteen and twenty stories, from some of the brightest stars of the genre firmament. It is envisaged that the series will be launched at FantasyCon 2014, where many of the authors included in the first volume will hopefully be in attendance.

The book will most likely only be available in paperback and eBook across all platforms, in a conscious effort to preserve the spirit of the books which provided the original inspiration. From volume two there will be an open submissions policy, though the stories for volume one will be selected via invitation only, with the invitations to potential contributors going out later this year. These will be all-original stories – no reprints – and Mark is committed to ensuring that each volume of The Spectral Book of Horror Stories contains only the very best fiction that the genre currently has to offer. The ultimate aim is to make the series a byword for excellence, thus further cementing Spectral’s already enviable reputation for bringing the best of genre fiction to the world.

PLEASE NOTE:  Open submissions from VOLUME  TWO (2015) onwards – VOLUME ONE is INVITE-ONLY!! NO submissions will be accepted for the 2014 volume.