Tuesday, 25 June 2013

“Now when I die, I shall only be dead.” Goodbye Richard Matheson.

My first experience of a Richard Matheson story is probably the same as most people, watching Captain Kirk being driven insane as a man in a woolly suit tormented him from the wing of an aeroplane.  I was massive fan of The Twilight Zone as a kid; I still am I guess and along with Charles Beaumont and Rod Serling, Matheson brought some of the most fantastic monochrome tales into my living room. Tales I've never forgotten.

Matheson wasn't just a horror or sci-fi writer, he was a sci-if writer. What if a man was covered in a reflective mist that caused him to shrink to the size of a fly? What if a stranger offered a cash strapped couple a box that would bring them wealth but also cause somebody they know to die? Would you press the button? 

That’s what the best writers do. They ask us the questions and let our imagination ride along with their own. Matheson did this throughout his career with great skill.

Of course his stories were never far from our televisions. Everything from Spielberg’s debut ‘Duel’ to the adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s ‘The Devil Rides Out’. And who can forget Karen Black being hunted by a possessed Zuni fetish doll in Matheson’s ‘Trilogy of Terror’?

In later years I would discover Richard Matheson as a novelist and short story writer. In fact another of those horror films that played on my childhood TV set ‘The Omega Man’ was based on his superb novel ‘I, Am Legend’.  That book along with, ‘A Stir of Echoes’ which was later released as a film starring Kevin Bacon and ‘Bid Time Return’, filmed as ‘Time and Again’ became some of my favourite novels of all time.

I won’t list all of Matheson’s credits here, I’m sure you all know them and they'll be elsewhere for you to discover if you don’t. But we have lost a great mind who gave so much to the genres of horror and sci-fi. He inspired my imagination along with some of the heavyweights like the aforementioned Spielberg and of course Stephen King. I know his films, TV episodes and books will always be there for us, yet I feel he left a different legacy behind. He left the romance of imagination for other writers to discover. That’s something I’m sure would make him proud.

Because like his friend Jack Finney, Richard Matheson was never about the here and now, he was always about the past and the future combined.

 Richard Matheson February 20, 1926 - June 23, 2013

Monday, 17 June 2013

Red Ink And Blood On The Tarmac.

I’m proud to announce that I won last week’s challenge at RR Kovar and Colleen Foley's 'The Prediction'.

It’s a simple process. Three words are selected at random and you have to write a story in a hundred words or less including those random three. This form is called a drabble and as flash fiction goes it's a lot more difficult than you'd think.

Last week for example the words were- Defeat, Crafty and Malefaction. Here’s my winning drabble using those.

Child Safety Locks As Standard 

His car smelt of sugar and salt. My favourite boyband drifted from the grille under the missing window winder.

"Need a lift to school?"

I was late, left my homework till this morning. Four locks snapped.

"Child safety as standard." he grinned.

He was crafty, pulling into a layby. He killed the engine and grabbed my skirt.

Blood sprayed from his neck as he jerked like a drowning fish.

I twisted my red pen from his Adam’s apple and finished marking my student’s homework. My twitching malefaction stopped, defeated bedside me.

I’d make it back for lunch. Friday is fish day.


Speaking of flash fiction competitions I received news of a great looking one in my inbox this morning. The NOTLP’s first Flash Horror Contest is being judged by the Bram Stoker award-nominated author Jeremy C. Shipp.

Submission guidelines:

Word Count: 1000 words or less.

Reading Period: July 1 through July 31, 2013

Genre: Horror. The guest judge particularly enjoys character-based tales, vivid imagery, dark humor, unique monsters.

For full submission guide and details please visit-

CONTEST: NOTLP’s Flash Horror Contest 2013

Monday, 10 June 2013

'The Fox' by Conrad Williams.

If there’s one reason I enjoy the chapbook format it’s due to the sharp arc required in its restricted size. It allows us into the characters world just long enough to discover what haunts, or more often, what is about to haunt their lives. 'The Fox' by Conrad Williams is the third limited edition signed instalment from the This Is Horror chapbook series. It's also my favourite so far. I even enjoyed the cover art by Neil Williams that hints at something sinister skulking between the pages.

With ‘The Fox’ the reduced form doesn't hinder but actually strengthens Conrad Williams own storytelling style. This layered tale deceives the reader into thinking they've read a much longer piece. Such is the skill of Williams as a writer.

A family camping trip for a stressed and overworked editor starts to disassemble when a blot of animal blood on sheets of snow scratches at his brain like red ink on the page. With a wife and young daughter to worry about, and a mid-life crisis collecting wood to stoke fires in his life, the narrator falls into self-analysis. Do the animal slaughters have their roots in his youth? Is it karma calling to collect?

This is more than man versus nature; this is man versus his past. 

Williams interweaves some clever clues into this story. His wife Kit, the name for a small fox, suffers from a condition known as Raynaud's syndrome. This is a disease that sounds very close to the mythical Reynard the Fox. His daughter is also called Megan which was either a subconscious leak by Williams or a nudging joke toward the Transformers actress.

Though these may simply be playful games, Conrad Williams also displays his ability to stitch through many threads that belie the short word count here. The peek into the narrator's past could be a story in itself.

'The Fox' is a rich story about the passing of time in one’s own life and how closely reflected that is to death. It’s also about secrets and regret. But mostly it’s a thrilling tale that will keep you turning the pages as you devour the elegant writing of the author. 

'The Fox' is available from This Is Horror website here- 'The Fox' by Conrad Williams.

Or why not be sure you'll never miss out by becoming a Premium Subscriber here-
This Is Horror Premium Chapbooks Annual Subscription.

Keep up to date with Conrad's writing at his website here- Conrad Williams.

Paws: The Revenge.