I’m doing another ghost stories newsletter, far more than normal because of the season, Halloween and all. I’ve been busy, but always am at this time of year.
Last weekend, I visited the reputedly most-haunted castle in England over the weekend and wandered around the grounds of Muncaster Castle for their Halloween special event.
They had sound effects coming from the trees on the long walk up to the castle. That was cool. The whole thing is aimed at kids so their Sledgehammer House of Horror play in the castle was at that level, but it was great to be inside that spooky old building (and out of the rain).
We visited the Plague Doctor and the fire show and took part in Steve Wharton’s Witch Warbling. I’m still not 100% sure what that was about, but Steve is a great entertainer.
Last night, I did a private ghost story reading for a group of friends in an amazingly gothic Victorian house. I read He Waits from my London Ghost Stories, as well as The Man In The Tree and The Catacombs from my Horror Stories for Halloween. They went down well, even though this was the first time I’d done public readings of these particular stories.
Of these, I think my favourite is He Waits. Even I find that unnerving, and I wrote it! It’s based on a true story someone told me about a recurring dream they had.
I’ve been reading The Best of Horror edited by Ellen Datlow, somewhat slowly as I’ve been busy with other stuff and back at work.
Black And White Sky by Tanith Lee. This was a very interesting story by Tanith Lee (RIP in 2015). It had a very folk-horror feel in that a writer goes to live in rural England along with all the country charms, pubs, cottages and that. Then the ground erupts with magpies and doesn’t stop. I won’t spoil it. It felt very surreal and speculative. Nicely written though.
The Monster Makers by Steve Rasnic Tem. This was a fantastic piece of speculative fiction with a horror theme. I wonder if the whole anthology will be speculative? By that, I mean surreal and almost magical-realism in tone. In any case, this beautifully poetically written story seems to suggest we are just ideas, made of memories and when the memories fade, so do we.
Chapter Six by Stephen Graham Jones: what a fantastic zombie story! This is such a wonderful, witty and clever take on the zombie apocalypse. Two academics, a postgrad and his supervisor follow a zombie horde. They are using to test theories of human evolution. It was just like academics are, and zombies, and in fact cannibals. Well done I thought.
I’ve not actually watched much over the past week. I have The Changeling on my computer ready to watch, but I’ve been busy, amongst other things writing this ghost stories newsletter. I must make time to relax before I burn out like a Roman Candle.
Obviously, I’ve been recording The Classic Ghost Stories Podcast. Our next offering is my narration of the multi-part The Turn of The Screw. I had debated whether to make this for patrons only, but it’s such a classic that I will do it as a free series. It’ll probably take us through November to complete.
I am listening to Archive 81 as my new horror drama podcast. I like it! It’s about a guy who gets a job archiving old audiotapes from the 90s. There is a lot of weird stuff on the tapes which begins to bend his mind. Wonderfully acted. I love the voice of the actress who plays Melody Pendras (Amelia Kidd). Mr Davenport (David Powell) is amazing. I wonder if the actor really talks like that. He should get an Oscar. My current favourite.
As you may know, other horror story podcasts I love are:
Alice Isn’t Dead is a paean to the vastness of America really. Alice’s truck-driver lady husband goes round the USA searching for Alice, who she believes isn’t dead. Produced by the Welcome to Nightvale Team, it’s got a very Twin Peaks weirdness vibe to it. I love the music and the nasty men are really horrible. I love the theme music and I love the chief actresse’s voice.
Limetown is old now, but still very much worth listening to. A research facility was built then destroyed. Mad stuff went on, some of it to do with a pig. The hunt is on to find the truth of what happened to those people and why. Top-notch acting again.
There is the Weird Tales Podcast done by Tycho Alhambra. Very good, very similar to what we do on the Classic Ghost Stories Podcast, but American. He’s currently doing a multi-episode read of The Phantom of The Opera.
Pieter Sender at Weirdwards does a similar thing on Soundcloud. He reads stories by Shirley Jackson and Clark Ashton Smith amongst others. I think he veers towards the strange stories and weird tales rather than the classic ghost stories and he reads out more modern authors than me.
Music-wise, I’ve been hauntological. I’ve been listening to Goblin’s soundtrack for the 1977 Italian horror movie Suspiria. Very eerie, like a haunted funfair. Also, I bought The Weeping Tree by Revbjelde and I’ve been listening to The Midnight Folk (one of my favourite books as a kid) by The Hare and The Moon, and obviously Ringstone Round by The Heartwood Institute, which has an old-style British horror movie vibe, referencing Quatermass
Ghost Stories Newsletter Links
13 Days of Halloween Giveaway organised by Blaise Ramsey is an opportunity to stock up on free horror ebooks. There’s a wide range of books within the genre, including urban fantasy, paranormal romance as well as horror.
Write Like Hell. This is a great little Dark Horror and Fantasy anthology produced by Scott Miller. As I said, I bought it last week and having dipped into it, it’s on my to-read list for next week! It looks very well done. It’s a great cover too.