Saturday, July 10, 2004

Horror in Print

One of the great sadnesses of recent years has been the move away from every mainstream publisher in the UK from horror fiction in any form. Previously admired horror writers have either had to change genres - into crime or fantasy - or have found themselves publisherless. Imagine my surprise then when, in the same week, two horror collections are promoted by two major publishers! The 'accepted wisdom' from the editors at the major houses is that horror doesn't sell, and also that collections don't sell ... and yet here are two books which are both. First up is a book by John Connolly called NOCTURNES and this arrived in the form of a blad (a prepublication pamphlet containing a selection of stories from the finished book) and a rather neat t-shirt which will be called into use over the summer. Connolly seems to be going the other way: he's a crime writer who now has a collection of short horror stories out. Hodder and Stoughton seem to be putting quite a push on this one, which is of course excellent news indeed. The other book is an anthology of short horror stories edited by Ramsey Campbell, Jack Dann and Dennis Etchison called GATHERING THE BONES. This contains 34 original stories and is a chunky paperback. It seems to have originated in Australia as far as I can tell as the copy I've been sent is from HarperCollins in Australia ... and it was first published in 2003 ... It's superb to see some major clout being put into horror fiction again by at least two of the main publishers. Hopefully this will help to enliven the horror field and increase sales for some of the small presses which never gave up the flame and which have been keeping horror alive for the last 10 years, as well as nurturing much new talent along the way.

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