Sunday, 25 August 2013

Plenty of prizes for Cotswolds curiosities

It's always nice to see your choices vindicated.

Okay, I suppose I should explain that statement.

Each year, US editor ELLEN DATLOW brings out her rather marvelous tome, BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR. It's a kind of American cousin to STEVE JONES's MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR, though very rarely do the selected short stories in the two anthologies overlap - a sure indicator of the two editors' eclectic tastes (and a great bonus for fans of the genre like me, as that means I'm fully justified in buying both).

Each year, Ellen also includes a long list of 'honourable mentions', which is basically a list of those stories she wasn't able to include in the book because of space limitations, but which she heartily recommends her readers to seek out anyway.

Now ... it's a moot-point as to how satisfying it is for an author to see his/her work on this list rather than reprinted in the book. You don't get paid for inclusion on a list, after all. But I've always felt that, if nothing else, it's nice to at least be recognised by an industry professional like Ellen. It shows that she's read your work and enjoyed it to the point where he has no hesitation in drawing to the attention of others - which is some kind of result, even if it's not the sort that sets your pocket jangling.

For this reason, I'm pleased and rather proud that in this year's list of HMs - as it appears in the BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR #5, Ellen as chosen to include 12 stories from my TERROR TALES series' 2012 output. We released two volumes last year - TERROR TALES OF THE COTSWOLDS and TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA - and both have hit a number of sixes for us. COTSWOLDS has of course been short-listed for the British Fantasy Award in the capacity of Best Anthology, and both COTSWOLDS and EAST ANGLIA have seen stories selected by STEVE JONES for MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR, (but I don't know if I'm allowed to name those yet, so I won't), but the following are now immortalised on Ellen's world-famous list:


The Shakespeare Curse - Simon Clark
Hoxlip And After - Chris Harman
In The Dark And In The Quiet - Alison Littlewood
Wassailing - Steve Lockley
Straw Babies - Gary McMahon
Charm - Reggie Oliver
The Cotswold Olimpicks - Simon Kurt Unsworth


Shuck - Simon Bestwick
Wicken Fen - Paul Finch
Deep Water - Chris Harman
Like Suffolk, Like Holidays - Alison Littlewood
The Spooks Of Shellborough - Reggie Oliver

So congratulations to all you guys and gals. Well done indeed.

And just to put any of you guys who haven't already bought these amazing anthologies into the mood, here are some pics taken from mine and Cathy's recent trip to the Cotswolds. Topside, I walk one of the inner circles at Avebury Henge - a complex neolithic religious site. In the middle - there are many ancient hill-figures carved into the overlapping landscapes of the Cotswolds and West Country; here is one - the Cherhill White Horse (though unfortunately, this one isn't quite so ancient - it only dates from 1790). And at the bottom (just overhead) I take my life and soul in my hands by entering deep into the mystical heart of Oldbury prehistoric barrow.