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



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.

Christmas Ghost Story Annual: an update

Spectral Press logoJust a tiny update for all those who submitted to Spectral’s first annual Christmas Ghost Story anthology and are awaiting responses – due to an encounter with kidney stones, in which Spectral’s editor came off quite the worse for wear, as well as having to get ourselves prepared for FantasyCon coming up at the end of next month, reading all the submissions has been delayed somewhat. However, the process has now started and the book will be out on time, so responses will start to be sent out very soon.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused!

Christmas Ghost Story Annual: deadline reminder

Spectral LogoJust a very quick blogpost from us this morning, to remind everyone that the deadline for submissions for the first Christmas Ghost Story Annual (due this December) is THIS coming Saturday, 30th June. If you’re intending to submit, then you MUST get your story in by midnight GMT on Saturday night. Thank you!

Good luck to all those who will be submitting and those who already have!

A double review and some news

Today’s review is a double one, courtesy of the fine folk at Shock Totem, specifically a gentleman by the name of John Boden. Like his previous review of Spectral chapbooks for the same magazine, he’s chosen to review two at once and this time out it’s the turn of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall and Paul Finch’s King Death. John loved the first two Spectral publications, so does he feel the same about Volumes III & IV? Click here to find out!


After yesterday’s announcement and call for submissions for the first Spectral Christmas Ghost Story Annual 2012, I have now moved that blog to a new page so that access to the guidelines is permanent until the deadlin of June 30th. If you’re interested and want to know whatt you need to do to submit, then please just click on the relevant page. Thanks!!


Cast your minds back a couple of months, to when I announced that Spectral will be publishing an annual Christmas Ghost Story anthology, starting in December 2012, in the same tradition as the annuals of the Victorian/Edwardian era. In that same blog I said I would release details of the submission process this January, and that time has duly arrived – so interested parties please read the following carefully!!


Unlike the chapbooks, this is an open call for submissions from ALL authors (including those writers already published, or are due to be published, by Spectral). What we are looking for are ghostly/supernatural tales of between 5,000 and 10,000 words, set around the time of the Christmas/Mid-winter celebrations. Think of the kind of thing that MR James and Charles Dickens would have written at this time of year and you’ll be on the right track. The stories should primarily rely on atmosphere, tension, suspense, suggestion and implication to send shivers down peoples’ spines: whilst we are not averse to something of the more visceral kind (provided it works within the context of the story), we are not looking for slasher/unhinged psychopath with a sharp instrument/serial killer or gore-filled fiction.

The final format or formats has/have yet to be decided.

Please send submissions, in a Word attachment please, to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com, with the subject line ‘Spectral Christmas Ghost Story Annual 2012 – submission’. Please do NOT paste your story into the body of the email – if this happens then your submission will be ignored. The deadline for stories to reach us is June 30th 2012 – stories submitted after this date will not be considered. All stories must be original, with the copyright belonging to the author in question, and must not have been published or submitted elsewhere. The editor will endeavour to acknowledge receipt of stories received, but if there is a veritable deluge then you may not hear from us immediately. The authors of the chosen stories will be notified of their acceptance in the second-half of the year, when work on the book and editing begins.

So all you writers out there, even though 2012 has barely begun, get your thinking caps on and start coming up with ideas for this exciting new anthology. Who knows, this might be the start of a revival of a venerable tradition!!

Look forward to hearing from you!!

EDIT –  there WILL be a small payment for each story accepted, plus copies of the physical book for each author.

A reader’s mini-review, a reminder and some news

Today’s bloggy missive starts off with a mini-review of Paul Finch’s King Death from a reader, Riju Ganguly, which the good man posted to Goodreads and to which he also gave 5 stars. Here’s what he said:

A short-crisp piece from one of my favourite authors, displaying all the hallmarks of his penmanship: rich descriptions that enliven 14th Century England and the Black Death devastating its contours, brilliant portrayals of the two characters (the mercenary Rodric and the mysterious boy), and the stage-by-stage construction of the story within a few pages. And special commendation for Spectral Press for bringing out such an exquisite chapbook. Recommended.

Many thanks for the little write-up Riju – the original posting can be read here:


I would encourage any readers of Spectral publications to send in their reviews to me for putting on the blog – if you have one then please send them to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Thanks!!


Don’t forget that the Spectral/This Is Horror short story writing competition is still ongoing, where the lucky winner will get to have their winning tale published as a chapbook as well as receiving a lifetime subscription to every single publication that Spectral puts out. This is a great chance for aspiring writers to get their work out there, so get your typing fingers dancing and start writing!! Details of the competition can be found here.


Or, rather, a heads-up on a blog post to be posted here on Monday about submissions to the first Spectral Christmas Ghost Story annual, to be published in early December 2012. So, if you fancy writing something seasonal to be read to an enthralled audience sitting around a roaring log fire on Christmas Eve this year, then this annual anthology might just be your thing – make a date to come back here on Monday to get all the gen on submissions to Spectral’s first short story anthology.

The Ghosts of Christmas Future

As you know, Spectral Press is all about looking forwards to the future – but, sometimes, taking a glance backwards can be just as thrilling and inspirational. And that’s what Spectral will be doing next year, inspired by an almost throwaway remark Tweeted by my good friend, the writer Scott Harrison.

At one time, there was a tradition of publishing ghost stories based around the Christmas festivities. The Victorians were particularly fond of ghost stories and, since they bequeathed to us the ‘traditional’ Christmas (less the rampant consumerism) by more or less ‘inventing’ what we now come to understand as Yuletide festivities, the marriage of the two ideas seems somehow inevitable. And so, we now have the image of scary tales being told to rapt audiences sitting by the hearth, with the burning Yule log crackling gently in the background.

Equally inevitably, the Christmas ghost story became a regular inclusion in annuals published around that time of year. One of the most famous examples of this type of story is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), a tale of greed, parsimony, ghostly visitations and redemption, and finally painting for us the perfect image of what Christmas eventually came to mean in later years. Dickens also wrote four other Christmas stories: The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man (1848). Many other authors, including MR James for instance, wrote tales specifically based around the Christmas celebrations.

Spectral wants to revive the tradition of the Christmas ghost story. Starting in December 2012, an annual anthology of such tales will be published, in a format yet to be determined (but my immediate thoughts are that it will be an unlimited e-book, with a special limited hardback edition also being available). Unlike the chapbooks, which are invite-only affairs, I will most likely throw open the doors for submissions – and submissions will be open from January 1st to June 30th in any particular year.


Already, the response has been quite encouraging, so it looks very promising for this venture. I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something that will eventually become a regular feature of the genre publishing landscape, in however small a way. I, for one, am very much looking forward to see what happens.