For as long as I can remember, age, desolation, and imperfection have intrigued me. Through my waking hours, I see the gaps in brickwork, the cracked paint on a windowsill, the frown on someone’s face or even the faint scar along their jawline. It’s not that I see unhappiness everywhere, and of course, nothing is truly perfect (indeed, what is perfect?), but I’ve always seen a different layer of the world in which we live.
There’s a veneer. And I like to peel it back to see what’s beneath.
That’s what us writer-types do, yes? We write about stuff, we inject new life into things, and for me, I like to reenergise that which is otherwise defunct. Often my work features ruins and ancient rock, especially in my Shadow Fabric mythos stories. Rusty machines and collapsed outhouses, barren ground, places void of anyone and anything, it all inspires me.
There can be beauty and serenity in the way nature takes over, the way the elements destroy what humankind creates. Think of the pattern of rust, the pockmarked sandstone from an assault by the wind, and the tangle of determined weeds. Relentless and often silent deterioration or even growth, and it will remain long after we die. Perhaps long even after the human race dies out.
I guess this is all a reflection of my frequent apocalyptic dreams. I have no doubt that’s why I’ve turned my hand to dystopian cyberpunk where the characters roam the scorched landscape. Yet, unlike my dreams, they do not feature the British actor, Sean Bean. That guy makes regular appearances in those recurrent dreams of dystopia. Yeah, I know, weird huh?
Hastings and the surrounding areas are steeped in history with castles and centuries-old buildings amid a patchwork landscape of greens and browns. So it’s unsurprising three of my stories in Sussex Horrors feature ruin and rust, derelict and decay. No sign of Sean Bean though, I promise.
“The Rebirth” is a story about a primary school teacher whose lesson doesn’t quite go to plan. There’s a pivotal scene near the Hastings fisherman’s huts and so while writing it, I headed down there with a notebook. To breathe in the atmosphere – as well as the combination of sea and fish – I sat on a rotting bench between derelict huts, scribbling notes that were to become an integral part of the teacher’s journey.
Another story, “The Commission” features the ruins of Camber Castle. Back in 2015, I received an invite to the Shadows at the Door anthology and decided to write about the 16th-century device fort in the Rye marshes. On a chilly November morning at 3am (a time vital to the plot), I wrapped up in hat and scarf, grabbed a notebook, and with a much-needed torch headed across the marshland. Once the rights to this story returned to me, I knew it belonged in the Sussex Horrors anthology.
As for “Away in a Mangler” I cannot say too much without giving away the plot. Although the story begins clean and perhaps a little too perfect for the new employee at the gift shop, Looking Glass, it does not stay that way for long …
Three Sussex authors … Twelve horror stories.
Take a terrifying journey to a coastline associated with candyfloss and amusement arcades, and see it stripped to the bone.
Whether it’s seagulls that prove to be more than a nuisance, the mysterious inhabitants of a forgotten village, or a fisherman whose Easter eggs are not for consumption, the horrors are always there … and much closer than we care to admit.
– The Rebirth
– The Commission
– Demon Alcohol
– Away in a Mangler
– The Stealth of Spiders
– You Have One Message
– Furzby Holt
– The Pensioner Pirates of Marine Parade
– Normal, Considering the Weather
– Double Rainbows
Universal link: http://mybook.to/SussexHorrors