A return to the Quiet Room

What They Hear in the Dark cover image

Just like we said in a recent blog-post, you can’t keep a good one down. Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark is certainly one of those, and Ann Giardina Magee of The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog seems to agree. Last week she posted a new review of this long sold out classic to HHHB, which you can read here.

NEWS

Alison Littlewood’s chapbook, The Eyes of Water, goes off to be printed today – subscriber copies will start to be sent out next week and promo copies soon after that.

Awards news: What They Hear in the Dark receives accolade

A great day for Spectral or, more specifically, Gary McMahon, as his Spectral chapbook, What They Hear in the Dark, was awarded the Chapbook of the Year accolade in the inaugural This Is Horror Awards. Also, another (future) Spectral chapbook author, Simon Bestwick, was runner-up in the same category with Angels of the Silences (Pendragon Press). Congratulations to both Gary and Simon!! Here’s the link to the announcement.

Additionally, Peter Tennant of Black Static Magazine gave an Honourable Mention to Gary’s chapbook in his year-end review, aka Pete’s Picks of 2011. You can find out what else he recommended by going here. Once again, kudos to Gary!!

A small bit of news…

It is with enormous pleasure that I can tell you that Gary McMahon’s Spectral Press chapbook, What They Hear in the Dark, has been recommended for the prestigious Stoker Awards in the Short Fiction category. Bearing in mind that it is only a recommendation and that it has a long way to go yet before it might get put on the ballot, this is still a development I find extremely gratifying, in terms of what I’m trying to achieve with the imprint. It shows me that I’m on the right track with it all, plus that Gary is a great writer. But, if it does go to the ballot stage, however, then even better, and of course I am really hoping it does, as that would be even further validation, so to speak. At any rate, I wish massive amounts of good luck to Gary in the awards!

Good luck is also winging its way to two other future Spectral authors. Simon Bestwick, author of the forthcoming Cold Havens Spectral chapbook, has recommendations in the same awards too, for TWO stories, Dermot (which appeared in Black Static #24) and The Moraine (Terror Tales of the Lake District).  Alison J. Littlewood, whose The Eyes of Water chapbook appears in June next year, has received a recommendation for her story The Pool, which originally appeared in Shadows & Tall Trees #2. It’s nice to see good authors getting some much-deserved recognition!

It has to be observed that the Stoker Awards recommendations list contains some pretty stiff competition, as it does every year, but from Spectral’s perspective this is definitely a step in the right direction and this in its very first year of existence. This will only encourage me to push the quality and strengths of the imprint even further, to ensure that Spectral realises the fullest potential it’s capable of. I shall round this off by saying that, so far, my expectations for how I saw Spectral Press developing have been far exceeded – so let’s see what the next year will bring!!

Onwards and upwards!!

Spectral: 3-in-1 review number 3

Well, this week, as you guys may have noticed, there were no reviews available to me to upload on Monday, thus breaking my recent custom – but this midweek post more than makes up for that. It’s from the esteemed folk at Strange Aeons Magazine and it will appear in the Fall 2011 issue (Number 7), debuting at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, in the US this weekend. With the kind permission of KL Young, Executive Editor of Strange Aeons, I reproduce it here – and this is what they had to say:

This issue, we’re reviewing a line of chapbooks from the newly created Spectral Press imprint. From their site: Spectral Press is a small independent imprint publisher; issuing very limited edition signed and numbered single story chapbooks in a high-quality presentation on a quarterly basis, and concentrating on the ghostly/supernatural end of the literary spectrum.

If you’ve picked up a chapbook before, you know it’s basically an 8.5”x11” stack of pages, folded in half and stapled on the spine. They’re cheap and easy to make, and they look like it. Right off the bat, Spectral is throwing all of that out the window. While the format remains the same, Spectral Press knocks you out with the gorgeous cover art and paper stock, the beautiful text choice and layout, and the spectacular content. Each issue is limited to 100 copies, making them extremely collectible.

Each new chapbook is an “issue”, and Issue I is “What They Hear in the Dark”, by Gary McMahon. After the violent death of their son, Rob and Becky buy a new house in an attempt to keep their minds and bodies busy as they work through their grief. In this “fixer-upper” of a house (a thinly-veiled metaphor for their own relationship), they find a “Quiet Room” – a place where sound literally cannot be heard. Both of them have a solitary, supernatural experience in the room; Rob’s negative, Becky’s positive, and this conflict is what drives the story towards its inevitable, creepy conclusion. If there are any complaints, it is that the characters are a little weak, their identities not quite fleshed out or believable – but McMahon is such a strong writer that it’s easy to forgive, and at 20 pages long you haven’t got time to really notice. An excellent start to this new publishing house!

In “Abolisher of Roses” by Gary Fry (the second offering from Spectral Press), we are introduced to husband and wife Peter and Patricia, at a hoity-toity outdoor art show that Patricia has been invited to show at. At first this feels like familiar Twilight Zone fare – Peter, our point of view character, is broadly painted as uncouth and unlikeable, alternately thinking about how little he enjoys or understands art, and how much he does enjoy his mistress. It’s fairly obvious he will get his comeuppance as he travels farther – and further – into the woods, away from the real art show and into one specifically designed for him. But Fry manages to pull a few tricks from his sleeve, and his skill in storytelling is apparent. The ending is satisfying and unexpected – as every ending should be.

Finally, Spectral’s Issue III is “Nowhere Hall”, by Cate Gardner. In Gardner’s story, our protagonist, the suddenly jobless Ron, is lured into a run-down hotel by a strange umbrella with an even stranger message: We want to live. Help us. Inside, Ron is faced with bizarre memories and imagery, some familiar tropes of the genre, and some not-so.

Gardner tells a confusing and mind-bending story, bordering on stream-of-consciousness and disregard to structure, all things I’m not a fan of. BUT… her mastery of the written word is so strong – in fact, she’s a fucking Jedi when it comes to painting a picture with words – made this my favorite of the three chapbooks. Sure, I might have had to re-read that paragraph anyway, just to understand what was going on in it… but I re-read it first because it was just so beautifully written.

It’s not often that you get to watch a new publishing house begin with such strong content. This is exciting and fascinating stuff, and you want to get in on the ground floor – you’ll be paying for your kids’ college tuition with these super-collectibles in 20 years – because if you don’t think Spectral Press is going to be moving into bigger and better stuff pretty quickly, you’re crazy.

These books are sold out. But you can buy subscriptions for their new releases at [their website – which is right here folks!].

What a fantastic start to the day – this is the kind of review that all publishers (and authors) kill for. Onwards and upwards!! =)

Spectral 3-in-1 review #2

In an effort to spread the good word about Spectral Press, I have been sending all three of the so-far published chapbooks to all and sundry if they stand still long enough. One of those who did stand still long enough was Gef Fox, who very kindly reviewed What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon, Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry and Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner for Skull Salad Reviews. I am very pleased to say that the write-ups are excellent and you can see for yourself by going here to read what he said.

Also, there are now (again provisionally) only SEVEN copies of Paul Finch’s King Death left, which means there are only seven subscription places remaining as well. I recommend that anyone who has been dithering about whether to purchase a sub or not should do so now, as I can see Volume IV selling out way before its publication date (December 5th 2011). There are Paypal buttons down the right-hand side of this website, so it couldn’t be easier to order one. If you’re after an individual copy of King Death, then please Paypal £3.50UK/£4.50EU/$8US/$12RoW to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. If there are no more copies left, let me know whether you want a refund or if you’d like a copy of Volume V instead, Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music.

New links: a review and a guest-blog

First up is a review of Spectral’s launch title, published back in January this year: What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon. This one’s been put together by Mihai Adascalitei and posted to his Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews blog. You can read his review here! =)

Last week, Graeme Flory of Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review did a write-up of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall and, on the back of the fact that he’s enjoyed the two Spectral chapbooks he’s reviewed so far, he asked me to write a guest-blog explaining things like my reasoning behind setting up the imprint and why ghost stories in particular – it’s now been uploaded and you can gain access to my pontifications and witterings by clicking here!

Onwards and upwards!!

More reviews and news!

These came to my attention just this morning: two reviews of Spectral Volumes I & II posted on the She Never Slept website. Both chapbooks were insightfully reviewed by Brandi Jordling, and the What They Hear in the Dark write up is here and the Abolisher of Roses one can be found here. Many thanks to the fine folks over at She Never Slept for the reviews!

Spectral Volume III, Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, will be going to the printers this week – just a final look over today, then off it goes. In the meantime, press info-sheets and what have you will be cunningly concocted through the magic of Word and then I can begin sending stuff to reviewers and websites. If you run a book blog or website and would like a PDF copy to review, then please contact me at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com, along with details of your blog or site please.

All systems go! =D

A new Spectral Volume I review just in…

Thanks to Robert Morrish, who writes the Spotlight on Publishing column for Cemetery Dance magazine, Spectral has just received a short review of the very first publication from the imprint, Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark. It’ll be printed in Cemetery Dance magazine #66, available soon. In the meantime, however, you can read what Robert says about this dark little tale on his Twilight Ridge blog, saying of Spectral that “… they’re definitely a publisher to keep an eye on in the future…” (The review is the fifth one down)

Many thanks to Robert for the review!

Black Abyss review

Spectral is just over six months old now, and still the positive reviews keep coming in. The latest has just been posted by Black Abyss, where they review both Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark and Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses. The people at Black Abyss consider “Spectral Press’s new range of chapbooks…” to be ” …really something special…” and that “this series is already proving to be unmissable…” The review can be found here.

So, if you’ve been dithering over the decision whether to order a four issue subscription to this rapidly rising publishing star of the horror, supernatural and dark fiction scene then this is further incentive to get your order in now. Purchasing couldn’t be easier – there are Paypal buttons provided on the front page for your convenience. If you want to pay through any other means please contact Spectral at spectralpress[at]gmail[dot]com for further details. However, there aren’t many places left from Volume IV onward, so if you’re interested in subscribing it’s advisable to buy one soon. (If you’d like to reserve a subscription, then write to the above email address telling us so and we’ll keep you a place for a whole month).

Onwards and upwards!!

Morpheus Tales review and other stuff…

The reviews keep coming in for both Gary Fry’s Abolisher of Roses and Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark. The Morpheus Tales Review Supplement #13 carried write-ups of both, saying of Spectral Volume II that “… [y]ou are unlikely to find better outside of a Best of Horror collection by Stephen Jones…’ which is high praise indeed. Adrian Brady concludes his bite-sized review of Spectral Volume I with the words ‘… [i]f the quality of the fiction and chapbook are anything to go by then Spectral Press have a grand future ahead of them…’ – it’s more than gratifying to see that people are definitely getting what the imprint is all about.

You can read the full reviews by downloading the Morpheus Tales Review Supplement from here completely free – Abolisher of Roses is reviewed on page 13 and the What They Hear in the Dark review can be found on page 31.

(There’s also a review of Nowhere Hall [Spectral Volume III] author Cate Gardner’s collection from Strange Publications, Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits and Other Curious Things, in there as well, which is definitely worth checking out if you want an utterly different take on things…)

If you liked what you read of Gary McMahon’s grim take on urban horror in the first chapbook Spectral published, then you may be interested in his latest series of novels, the Concrete Grove trilogy, published by Solaris. The first one, The Concrete Grove, is due out this month on the 7th (despite what it says on the website) and I can thoroughly recommend that you get your mitts on a copy. Gary is definitely a rising star in the horror scene. More details of the novel can be found if you follow this link.