TERROR TALES OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

Posted in Hell, Horror, reviews on August 5th, 2015 by Craig

Nominated for awards, crammed full of award winning authors, the Terror Tales series, edited by Paul Finch and published by Gray Friar Press, is now on its eighth volume: TERROR TALES OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS. Happily I’m in it along with several other Scottish authors whose work I enjoy and admire.  The “Terror Tales”  series is rapidly spanning the British Isles in disseminating horror and ghostliness in a broth of old and new tales based on the folklore of the region. Paul Finch puts wafers of legend, horrific happenings and terrifying tales in between the short stories, which are a times even more compelling than some of the stories themselves. The series even threatens to go beyond the isles, which is great news for lovers of the supernatural , the occult and those who like their bedtime reading inspirationally morbid.

Terror tales of the Scottish Highlands - final full cover

 

Ian Hunter kicks of with “Skye’s Skary Places” an excellent piece about the isle of Skye and a man’s increasingly  tenuous relationship with his partner. Helen Grant’s “The Dove” continues the high standard set as it explores that awful moment under the shadow of the gallows. “Strone House” by Barbara Roden is a personal favourite. I’ve always had a penchant for the surreal aspects of automata; a nice story with its unexpected contrast: a mechanical world not generally associated with the grandeur of the highlands. “Face Down in the Earth” by Tom Johnstone is a personal reminder that Highlanders have very very long memories. “The Dreaming God Is Singing Where She Lies” by William Meikle is also excellently placed with it’s one fault being that I would have liked another five pages of it.

Rosie Seymour’s “The Housekeeper” has echoes of Pan Horror with a spicing of class. It’s very short but for this kind of story, short is exactly right. “The Executioner” by Peter Bell reads at times like a climbing manual and in another author might have fallen flat on its face. In Bell’s hands it becomes, for me at least, a form of poetry. An excellent story and perhaps my favourite in the anthology. “You Must Be Cold” by John Whitbourn is an intelligent and well crafted piece – not my preferred style of writing (too many brackets) but it’s a subtle, unexpected and unusual tale. I haven’t seen one like it before.

Sheila Hodgson’s “The Fellow Travellers” began very well and continued for about two thirds of the story to be absolutely compelling. Maybe I am just simple minded but beyond that there seemed to be a proliferation of unnecessary characters. Might have to reread it to get the full flavour. “Shelleycoat” by Graeme Hurry was a decent short, good concept and interesting ending. “The Other House, the Other Voice” by yours truly deals with Crowley. You’ll have to judge that one for yourself

“Myself / Thyself” by D.P. Watt comes quite close to being a classic and I can imagine it being reprinted. “Broken Spectres” by Carl Barker was conceptually very good and well written but didn’t quite grab me; probably sounds silly in the context of the supernatural but it may have lacked a certain necessary plausibility – despite that misgiving, it was very good.

Gary Fry’s “Jack Knife” as one might expect, is expertly written, enjoyable and leaves the reader with that oozy feeling of worse to come.  Johnny Mains, no stranger to the world of Horror as an editor, has been quietly honing his other skills as a writer.  “The Foul Mass at Tongue House” is a fine example of his development: an enjoyable tale.

“There You’ll Be” by Carole Johnstone was a strange beast for me – an almost perfectly written plotted and paced tale which unfortunately did not hit the eerie button – maybe I’m just a  darker soul.

Finally, wouldn’t be right not to mention Paul Finch. I don’t read much short fiction now as I prefer drier stuff. The highlight of the series is undoubtedly the snippets of legends and folklore which really ice the supernatural cake. The series is indubitably at the top end of the market and is frankly a must buy if you like that kind of thing.

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Twenty five Published Short Stories, Two Novels and One Collection

Posted in Hell, Horror, Published Works on August 1st, 2015 by Craig

Well, that’s it so far. craig herbertson collection

I’m not sure how to proceed. I’ve been delighted with the small success I’ve had in getting things published, not least the latest two – ‘The Other House, the Other Voice’ in ‘Terror Tales of the Scottish Highlands’  edited by Paul Finch and ‘Envelopes’ in Kitchen Sink Gothic’ edited by David and Linden Riley. Here are people I have admired for years as writers and editors liking and publishing my stories. The authors I’m in with – Gary Fry, William Meikle, Johnny Mains,  Charles Black – to name just a few, are people who write and sell stories; people buy and read their stuff, people like me. This might sound trite and obvious but it’s something I can’t quite get used to.

I have currently one sequel to ‘School: The Seventh Silence’ which may be published in the next year. I have no plans for a sequel to ‘The Death Tableau’ which I still regard as my most accomplished work. I have many many ideas in my head for short stories but I suffer from a kind of writing malaise. This malaise could be the result of pursuing a career as a musician, which gives me little time for anything else. I don’t know. In any case. Thanks for buying the books, for publishing my stories, for reading them.

Terror tales of the Scottish Highlands - final full cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Heaven Maker and other Gruesome Tales

Posted in Hell, Horror, reviews on May 15th, 2015 by Craig

A very pleasing review by Stewart Horn of the BFS.

http://matthewscottbaker.com/blog/2015/05/book-review-the-heaven-maker-and-other-gruesome-tales-by-craig-herbertson/

‘The title story is probably the highlight: a grand epic told in a few short chapters about a man trying to rescue his wife from Hell. Reminiscent of Machen’s ‘Great God Pan’ in tone.’

‘Overall, a satisfying read. A well written mix of the literary, the trashy and the darkly humorous. A fine addition to any horror lover’s library.’

Any comparison to Machen brings out a large hurrah from me.

And another review from Matthew Baker of Shattered Ravings (love that blog title)

http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/reviews/the-heaven-maker-and-other-gruesome-tales-by-craig-herbertson-book-review/

‘The minute I laid eyes on the title, I knew I had to read this book. I didn’t know what a ‘heaven maker’ was or why it might be gruesome, but the mystery of these questions drew me in. I’m very glad I gave this one a shot, too… author Craig Herbertson has a vivid imagination rife with brutal originality and terrifying concepts. If you’re a fan of short horror fiction, put this book on your Must Own list.’

Must admit I put ‘must own’ in bold myself.

‘Herbertson pulls the reader into each story from the beginning and then delivers a sucker punch when it is least expected.’

Is it entirely human to feel chuffed when people like what you write? Makes you think you’ve done something worthwhile.

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Best British Horror 2015 Editor Johnny Mains

Posted in Hell, Horror, Reviews on May 15th, 2015 by Craig

After previous success fans of horror shorts will be delighted to hear of a new work streaming in the Mains Laboratory. Stories by among others jane jakeman, rosalie parker, conrad williams
my pet favourite john llewellyn probert, sara pascoe and gary mcmahon. It’s a real bumper edition specially selected by the devious Johnny Mains who always has an eye for a chiller. I’ve had a sneak preview but only had a chance to read a few stories – a tale of the Holocaust by Steven J. Dines which was nicely pitched and a visceral lost boy story by Gary McMahon which made me rather sick. So, that’s me happy. The facebook page is here and I believe the collection is hot of the press even as I write:

https://www.facebook.com/BestBritishHorror

The Death Tableau

Posted in Hell, Horror, Published Works on April 15th, 2015 by Craig

The Death tableau

The Death Tableau

The Death Tableau is now available in paperback from black horse books. It’s an extremely dark and horrific novel of a fearful journey into the occult. Took me years to write and longer to get it published but finally it’s here. A word of warning. I started this book as a young man and I’ve mellowed a lot since. it is not a book that rests easy on the mind. it is in fact quite lacking in any hope for the characters involved – so if you’re prone to depression or have a genuine fear of the dark places in the world go nowhere near it. You’ve been warned.

Product Details

ISBN: 9781326182366
Editio: First
Publisher: black horse books
Published: 17 March 2015
Language: English
Pages: 288
Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink: Black & white
Weight: 0.49 kg
Dimensions (centimetres): 15.24 wide x 22.86 tall

The Collection so Far

Posted in Heaven, Hell, Horror, Published Works on March 13th, 2015 by Craig

craig herbertson collection Delighted to see my nephew has collected most of my main works to date. Stories in collections, novels and anthologies. I hope to be adding to this shortly.

A Long Long Story

Posted in Hell, Horror, Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2015 by Craig

young craig

 

 

 
I had been submitting stories in the hope of publication since around the age of sixteen. Initially, the only publisher I knew of was Pan Horror, whose address was somewhere within the pages of their books. (There was no convenient internet) I began taking records of these submissions in on the 12th of July 1988. By this time I had expanded my horizons and was submitting everywhere, including the small press. I had given up on horror and my stories were predominantly SF. The horror phase was over for me because I had got older and had come to the conclusion that I simply couldn’t write horror as no one would publish it.
I have no exact date for the submission of my novelette, ‘The Heaven Maker’ to the infamous Pan Horror anthologies but I was writing a sequel to it and vaguely thinking of a novel prior to University. This would be around 1981. I remember sitting in a flat in Jock’s Lodge, Edinburgh staring at the typewriter and my typescript on which some iterant Canadian biker had continued my efforts ala Jack in ‘The Shining’. Basically, he wrote that I was an idiot who would never get published.
At the time I thought he was right. But being an idiot I persevered. I was still submitting ‘The Heaven Maker’ in November 1990. What I hadn’t realized was that at some time, either around 1980/81 or possibly 1982 in first year at Manchester University, I had sent this story and it had been stuck on a shelf by Herbert Van Thal or Clarence Paget, editors of Pan Horror. Paget decided to publish it in 1988, unfortunately omitting to inform me.
So, my long held ambition to become an author before I reached 30 had been realized but unfortunately I never knew. How much this influenced my life is difficult to say but when I discovered it, idly searching for my name on the internet around June 2000, I was at once amazed and profoundly depressed. The younger self would have been overjoyed that he had been published, the older man simply thought about the lost possibilities and the money. Pan MacMillan paid out 500 quid but they couldn’t claw back the wasted years.
It is difficult to say what would have changed but what is certain is that I would never have taken up a job as a teacher; I would have had belief in my writing and would have continued to write.
All of this was lost. Instead I got the entirely false and cheap thrill of first publication for a short story in the small press in 1990 but this was not a professional magazine. Rejections slips flew at my like paper planes and the worst one was from Interzone, the only professional magazine in the UK. This letter arrived on the 11th November 1993. The sub editor accepted my story – it would have been the first professional acceptance to my knowledge – In the same letter a formal rejection slip said ‘no’.
The result of this – screaming depression. I had tried everything in the armoury. Short stories were obviously not for me. I decided then, that my only chance to get published professionally, was to write a novel and, although the idea had been running in my head for years, that was when ‘The Death Tableau’ was begun.
It is now the 25th February 2015.
To give you an idea of how long it took to get this published take a look at the before and after pictures above- – when the idea was formulating in my brain and now today when finally after all these years I can say – here it is.

But it comes with a warning. The man who was writing was the young ‘before’. It is quite, quite horrifying

*
Available from Black Horse Books:
http://www.resonancebookworks.com/

Brian Keeley: Cover artist of The Heavenmaker

Posted in Hell, Horror, Published Works on December 29th, 2014 by Craig

With the paperback coming out I thought I’d highlight the cover artist, Brian Keeley, a very good pal. The Heavenmakers cover is a mixed media effort, painted in acrylic and photographed. Heaven-Maker

It was set up finally by David Riley of Parallel Universe publications:

http://paralleluniversepublications.blogspot.co.uk/p/forthcoming-books.html

Brian is a great joker, massive football fan and one of the coolest guys I know. A completely unassuming man, I’d known him for years in Dortmund merely as a brilliant joke teller. I mentioned in the course of one drunken conversation that I needed a portrait for my next CD and he replied ‘I’m a painter’. I thought he meant of walls but it transpired that not only was he a trained fine artist but also an innovative filmmaker. Never mentioned his talent once in all the years I knew him. Some of his eclectic tastes can be seen here on his youtube channel. www.youtube.com/user/dortmundbrian/videos including films of the Tartan Army, Dortmund, documentaries, bands like ‘Magazine’, ‘Hugh Reed and the Velvet Underpants’, ‘The Glasgow Diamonds’ and his own efforts with Bibo his lovely German wife. His early films appeared on channel 4 and various other places. They changed the way music videos were filmed. Apart from Punk Rock, Brian also has a fascination for the seventies show biz idols and personalities like Ken Dodd (and me of course) – he just can’t seem to get away from all that glitz and fakery.

Brian, who has a lovely dark humour had his own horror story thrust on him, nearly dieing of a heart attack in 2012. At one point he was the sickest man in Scotland and a step away from death. How close? He married his wife in intensive care to the sound of nurses crying outside the door:

www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/health/heart-transplant-patient-who-married-2947724
Happy ending though. Brian is back on his feet, painting again – specifically the nurses who saved his life
www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/scots-heart-transplant-patient-set-2945983

He know does a lot of work raising awareness for donors becasue indeed a donor saved his own life.

Read more: http://vaultofevil.proboards.com/posts/recent#ixzz3NHgTnhID

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Heavenmaker in paperback!

Posted in Hell, Horror, Published Works on December 24th, 2014 by Craig

Delighted to say The Heaven Maker and Other Gruesome Tales is
being published by Parallel Universe Publications  and will be available shortly, priced  £11.99.

E.R.Burroughs, R.E. Howard, Leigh Brackett, Lin Carter or George R.R. Martin and a bit of pseudo sexism?

Posted in Fantasy, Heaven, reviews on January 10th, 2014 by Craig

The winners are in each category:

Story teller

E.R.Burrroughs
R.E. Howard
Leigh Brackett
Lin Carter
George R.R. Martin (modern)

Ability to inspire, to thrill and excite
R.E. Howard
E.R.Burrroughs
Leigh Brackett
Lin Carter
George R.R. Martin (modern)

Consistency in plot, writing

Leigh Brackett
George R.R. Martin
R.E. Howard
Lin Carter
E.R.Burrroughs (modern)

I don’t want to seem like a George R.R. Martin basher because he is a very good writer and translates well on to the screen – I just don’t like modern fantasy very much. I can read Tim Powers for example but to me it’s pygmies sitting on the shoulders of giants. I probably don’t like the modern world either and it reflects on my liking of all things modern, including writing.

I’d like to use Brackett as the floating point, the only female among these writers.  I enjoyed the Martian Brackett more than her Skaith novels. I thought that they were very good, and at times really great. Having looked her up on wikipedia I fond she was an athletic tomboy and that’s no surprise. Ultimate respect to a woman working and excelling in a man’s world. I would have loved to meet her and I’m fairly certain she would have pasted me at volleyball.

In The Sword of Rhiannon, Brackett’s archaeologist Matt Carse enters the forgotten tomb of the Martian god Rhiannon and plunges into the Red Planet’s past. Vast oceans cover the land, legendary Sea-Kings rule from terraced palaces, there are heroes, anti heroines, slaves and loads of minor characters carrying swords and scowls around: In short, all the required elements for the juvenile mind. The language is at times superb, the pacing is great, the plotting accurate and my only criticism is really quite simple: Despite being an athletic tomboy Brackett was not a man. Ah ha you say – Politically incorrect, knuckle dragging chauvinist reveals inner soul. How can I state this offensive garbage when Brackett was more thoroughly steeped in the mores of American society – a friend of Bradbury and a lover of E.R. Burroughs – closer to the source of all this sword and sorcery fantasy than I will ever be?

The answer is quite simple and I rest my case with a paper called ‘Gender, Genre, and Writing Style in Formal Written Text’ in ‘Text & Talk’ Ed. Sarangi, Srikant.

The paper explores differences between male and female writing in a large subset of the British National Corpus covering a range of Genres in both fiction and non fiction. They found significant differences between male and female writing

I’m sure you don’t want to go too deeply into the paper but in simple terms the total number of nominals used by male and female authors is virtually identical but females use many more pronouns and males use many more noun specifiers. Also females exhibit greater usage of features identified by previous researchers as “involved”. Males exhibit greater usage of features which have been identified as “informational”.

It comes down to this: A female is likely to use ‘she’ and ‘her’ significantly more than a male writer. She’s also likely to go into reasons and emotions while a man, simple little fellow that he is, is likely to just tell you something straight.

On a more personal and intuitive level (I have intuitions) I noticed that while Brackett was superb in her description of certain aspects of war and savagery, when it actually came to fighting she lacked the Conan factor. I cannot recall a single example of Brackett reveling in the slaughter of hapless enemies or the delight in skewering someone on a sword.

This genuinely may have something to do with the functional parts of male and female anatomy and the influence this has on the more elevated thoughts in the unconscious. So, as a simple bloke if I was ever cast into one of these fantasy worlds and handed a sword I have no doubt that rather than swirl it above my head and shout ‘tally ho where is the heroine?’ I would lie down on the ground and cry in abject fear. However, in reading a fantasy novel I want the opponents to be ruthlessly slaughtered. Brackett just doesn’t want this, most likely because she’s a decent person and a girl.

In any case, Brackett – excellent genre authoress but not Howard or Burroughs.

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