Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Benjamin Blake's poetry collection Standing on the Threshold of Madness reviewed on Hellnotes

Brian James Lewis gives a first-rate review of Benjamin Blake's poetry collection, Standing on the Threshold of Madness, on the hellnotes website.

"I don’t think there’s much question as to how I feel about Standing on the Threshold of Madness by Benjamin Blake. But let me just confirm that I really enjoyed reading this awesome collection of poems. In fact, I keep it nearby so that I can dip into the pages occasionally for a fix. If you groove on speculative fiction, the weird, the dark places – you’re going to dig this collection! The flow is great and the subject matter is right."

Bejamin's book is available both as a trade paperback and an ebook.


To read the full review click on this link.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Two New Reviews of Erik Hofstatter's The Crabian Heart

There have been two more great reviews of Erik Hofstatter's highly acclaimed collection, The Crabian Heart.

The first,  On Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews, says: "The Crabian Heart grabs you by the pincers and doesn't let go until the last page. The reader can sense the impending danger, and that doom becomes more evident with every turn of the page. Erik can scare you with a short story or a novella. He is great with both forms. The reader can never predict the outcome of Erik's stories. When you are expecting a right jab, Erik hits you with a left hook right in the feels. The Crabian Heart will creep up on you in the best way. I will never look at crabs the same way again."

The second, on the Horror Maiden's Book Review site, says: "I thoroughly enjoyed the creeping sense of dread that permeates the melancholy atmosphere of this novella. A solid 4 star read."

To read the full reviews please click on the links above. 

 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Eric Ian Steele featured on the front cover of InkTip Magazine


Eric Ian Steele, who collection of short stories, Nightscape, was published last year by PUP, is featured on the front cover of the current issue of InkTip Magazine, with special mention of his latest film, The Student.


Friday, 9 February 2018

Carl Barker's Parlour Tricks given a fabulous review on the Horror Review website


An absolutely fabulous review of Carl Barker's collection Parlour Tricks on The Horror Review website by Brian James Lewis.

"Wow! Talk about an interesting short story collection! Carl Barker’s Parlour Tricks is what you are looking for if you enjoy twisted speculative fiction with shocking endings. Not only does this book boast a highly divergent content level, it also ties the stories together by relating them to specific magic tricks in a section called The Inner Circle at the end of the book. At first, I was a little skeptical of that, but it works! The cover art by Luke Spooner draws you into Barker’s clutches and after that it’s time for the magic to begin. Kids, don’t try these at home!"

After discussing several of the stories in more detail, the review ends:


"Would I purchase a copy of Parlour Tricks for myself or a friend? Indeed I would! Every book I’ve read from Parallel Universe Publications is better than the previous one. I’m not just saying that to be nice, either. There is definitely a positive evolution taking place as they grow their catalog of available works. As a reviewer, that is something enjoyable to watch. I totally encourage you to purchase a copy of Carl Barker’s Parlour Tricks in your favorite format today! Please keep in mind that this book is intended for adults and contains material best suited for them. As always, thanks for reading and remember: If you find yourself chained to a breakfast bar with no clothes on, it’s probably the work of a nutty ex-girlfriend. Good Luck!"



To read the full review click on this link.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts


Because of the high cost of postage overseas for copies of The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts we will also include a free copy of Fishhead: The Darker Tales of Irvin S. Cobb.

 

The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts

Women in Horror Month - Kate Farrell

Artwork: Vincent Chong
Kate Farrell was the first female writer to have a collection of her stories published by Parallel Universe Publications. And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After was published in December 2015, with an introduction by her old friend, actor, writer and artist, Reggie Oliver. We can't do better than reprint here what he had to say about Kate:

"I first met Kate Farrell on Monday March 5th 1984 at a place called Petyt Hall, hard by Chelsea Old Church in London. I know this for a fact because I kept a diary, and for that matter still do. It was the first day of rehearsals for a major national tour of Garrick and Colman’s play, The Clandestine Marriage in which we were both playing supporting roles to such theatrical luminaries as Joyce Redman, Roy Kinnear and Sir Anthony Quayle. Kate Farrell, or Kate David as she was then, was a bright young character actress with a gift for friendship and a sharp, humorous eye for the follies of her fellow actors. I, of course, had no idea then that I was encountering a future mistress of macabre fiction, the Countess of the conte cruel; but I thought I could detect in her a good sport, a “trouper” to use the old theatrical term, and I was right. Did she herself at the time have any intimations of her great literary destiny? I think not.

During the long tour of a play indelible friendships are forged, and sometimes indelible enmities. With Kate, happily, it was the former. 1984 was the year that Margaret Thatcher took on the miners and, as we made our way round England, the head of the company Anthony Quayle, expressed the pious hope that our tour to all four corners of the nation would help heal the great “North-South divide” that was being much talked about at the time. How Sir Anthony imagined that the performance of an 18th century comedy about aristocratic misalliances could oil the troubled waters of class hatred I do not know. Kate and I both thought that the idea was b – well, shall we say, a little far-fetched. We shared a distrust of that mixture of grandiosity, sharp practice and slightly glib bonhomie of which Sir Anthony was capable. A group of us, including Kate and myself, shared digs whenever we could. There were parties and laughter and gossip; we heard reports of Thatcher’s war with Scargill and the miners, but it seemed a world away.
After the tour there was a West End run at the Albery Theatre and my friendship with Kate continued when that came to a close. Over the years we kept in touch. I began to devote more time and effort to writing. The theatre is a fickle mistress and life took both Kate and I in different directions. One day, perhaps, she will tell us of her experiences with the infamous Chuckle Brothers, but at some stage show business ceased to beckon for her as well. She too began to write and she sent me some of her stories.
I am generally wary of commenting on other people’s unpublished manuscripts. What if they are no good? How does one gently tell a good friend that the writing of fiction is not for them? The stories Kate sent me were “His Family”, “Mea Culpa” and an early version of “My Name is Mary Sutherland.” I read them and I must admit my first reaction was one of immense relief: they were good, really good. No disingenuous words of faint praise were needed. I was impressed by the extraordinary assurance of the writing. Purple passages, wearisome clich├ęs, vague and inconsequential digressions, indeed any sign of the amateur, all were entirely absent from her engrossing narratives. I should have known: Kate had always been the most professional of actresses; she was bound to be professional in whatever she took up.
But there was something much more important even than professional competence in her writing. She had a voice: crisp, shrewd, unsparingly honest, and rather elegant, despite the decidedly macabre subject matter. The people in her stories lived: they were vivid, recognisable; you might be unfortunate enough to meet them. You heard their voices and they seemed disturbingly familiar. The story telling was often uncommonly ingenious and surprising, as in “Mea Culpa,” but the ingenuity was not just for show; it always had a purpose. I advised Kate to send some of her stories to Charlie Black, for inclusion in one of his splendid Black Book of Horror anthologies. He accepted them without hesitation, as I was sure he would, and the rest, as they say, is her story.
As you have probably just acquired this book what more need I say, really, except that you are in for an exceedingly entertaining and thought-provoking time from one of the most accomplished and original writers of macabre fiction alive today? If by any chance, you have not yet bought it, and are browsing through its pages, then what are you doing reading this introduction? You just have to go to the first paragraph of any of the stories here, and you will be hooked, but before you do, save yourself the discomfort of reading this book while standing up and probably pressed for time in a draughty bookshop. Buy the thing – it is exceptionally reasonably priced – put it in your pocket, go back home, make a cup of tea (or something stronger if you prefer) settle yourself in a favourite armchair and start reading.
You have done that? Congratulations! My job is done. But just in case you need a little further encouragement, let me say this. What distinguishes Kate Farrell’s work is the extraordinary accuracy and vividness with which she sets up her situations. She has an eye for detail and an outstanding ear for the way people think and speak. It is far from fanciful to see this at least partly as the product of her experience as an actress. In the theatre, a natural faculty for observing one’s fellow human beings is trained and honed. Listen to the narrator of “Waiting”. If you don’t know someone like that personally, you will have certainly heard her talking just behind you on a bus at some time. The intonation, the accent, the understanding, and the lack of it, are all so true to life. But the people Farrell evokes are not all from one social stratum, or one nation. Here is an ancient and corrupt Irish Priest (“The Way the Truth and the Life”), here is the wife of a notorious Argentinean dictator (“Las Cosas Que Hacemos por el Amor”), or the two Spanish schoolchildren in “The Efficient Use of Reason”, and they are all done with the same conviction, the same ruthless accuracy. Farrell’s eye is not heartless, but it is unclouded by any kind of sentimental affectation; her horrors emerge from what we sometimes call the commonplace. Very occasionally she touches on the supernatural, but when she does she does it superbly as in one of my favourites among her stories “A Murder of Crows” which shows that she can do an uncanny rural atmosphere with grim poetry as well as anyone. It is the gift of every worthwhile writer in this genre to make us realise that just beneath the surface of the banal and ordinary, there yawn great abysses of wonder and terror. I don’t know quite why this realisation, in the hands of a writer like Farrell, should be so thrilling, enjoyable even, but it is. There is not a dull page, not a dull sentence in And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After.
And now, I suggest you waste no further time on studying this introduction, and embark at once on the seriously exciting business of reading Kate Farrell.

Reggie Oliver"



Sunday, 4 February 2018

The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts reviewed on The Vault of Evil

The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts has just been reviewed on the prestigious Vault of Evil website:

"Far the most attractively presented book I've set eyes on this year and an absorbing and informative read into the bargain. Rolling Back The Years is both a glorious celebration of Jim Pitts' talent and, for those of us with an enthusiasm for the golden age of British fantasy and horror fanzines, an invaluable companion to David A. Sutton's On The Fringes For Thirty Years . MRJ is well served with four illustrations from Ghosts: A Tribute to M. R. James and The Treasure Of Abbot Thomas illo which "was used quite randomly by Francesca in Kadath. It was recently placed on the book cover of Ghosts & Scholars #27, where Rosemary Pardoe used it more appropriately."

Friday, 2 February 2018

Women in Horror - Jessica Palmer



Jessica Palmer was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother became a professional clown when she was in her teens, leaving Jessica irrevocably altered. She received her degree in nursing and worked in hospitals, starting with medical-surgical units. Eventually, she settled into psychiatric nursing where she got along famously with her patients.
Her medical background presented opportunities to write. In 1976, she was asked to develop a script for educational television, entitled Journey To Nowhere, about the medical aspects of addiction. Later she became a technical writer for the safety and health department at Schlumberger Well Services with an emphasis on explosives and radiation. The job took her to England where she became a British subject.
The fates decreed her combined experiences constituted a hazard to herself and others. Jessica returned to her first love, genre fiction. She wrote her first novel at the age of nine – ninety-nine typewritten pages about her then-hero Max Smart of Get Smart. Altogether, she has had 28 books published in fiction and non-fiction, including university textbooks about Native American history and culture.
Jessica has received numerous awards in journalism, spanning a period from 1980 to 2014. Lullaby, published by Pocket Books, was nominated for the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker award in 1991. Now she concentrates on satire. Parallel Universe Publications released her collection of short stories, Other Visions of Heaven and Hell in 2015, and will be publishing her latest collection, Fractious Fairy Tales later this month.  

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Women in Horror Month

As it's Women in Horror Month, a reminder of two great books published by Parallel Universe Publications: Jessica Palmer's Other Visions of Heaven and Hell, and Kate Farrell's And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After. A second collection of Jessica's stories, Fractious Fairy Tales, will be published by PUP later this month.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts - special offer


Order a copy of The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts by the end of January and receive a copy of any of these paperback books free:
Things That Go Bump In The Night
Classic Weird
Classic Weird 2
Fishhead: The Darker Tales of Irvin S. Cobb
Kitchen Sink Gothic

The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts
 






Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Kitchen Sink Gothic 2 - in Aid of the Homeless

Although we are still closed to submissions for novels and collections, we are now open for a charity anthology we will be publishing later this year.

The book will be Kitchen Sink Gothic 2, and all proceeds will be donated to a charity for the homeless (details to be announced soon). As such, there will be no payment for any of the stories appearing in this book other than a contributor's copy, but we are open both to original stories and reprints.

The book will be edited by David and Linden Riley, and will have an introduction by John Gilbert, editor of Fear magazine.

To give an idea of the kind of stories we are looking for, here is the Introduction from 2015's Kitchen Sink Gothic:



M. John Harrison used the term kitchen sink gothic in association with Robert Aickman. After quoting John Coulthart’s description of Aickman as having the “quotidian Britishness of Alan Bennett darkening into the inexplicable nightmares of David Lynch”, he added: “I often return to BBC4′s The Golden Age of Canals, which features Aickman as a broody, nerdy TE Lawrence of the waterways, for its footage of decaying tunnel entrances, drained locks & Kitchen Sink Gothic clutter embedded in wet mud."

Coined in the 1950s, Kitchen Sink described British films, plays and novels frequently set in the North of England, which showed working class life in a gritty, no-nonsense, “warts and all” style, sometimes referred to as social realism.

It became popular after the playwright John Osborne wrote Look Back In Anger, simultaneously helping to create the Angry Young Men movement. Films included Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Entertainer, A Taste of Honey, The L-Shaped Room and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.  TV dramas included Coronation Street and East Enders. In recent years TV dramas that could rightly be described as kitchen sink gothic include Being Human, with its cast of working class vampires, werewolves and ghosts, and the zombie drama In the Flesh, with its northern working class, down to earth setting.

It’s an area of writing that fascinates me, especially coming from a working class background and having been brought up in a terraced street in a solidly Lancastrian mill town which any viewer of Coronation Street would recognise as typical of its type. My formative reading in weird fiction, though, came from middle-class Americans (Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury and H. P. Lovecraft) or from upper middle-class British writers like M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, the Bensons. etc. I always felt there was a place for working class horror fiction whose characters were more than merely just comic constructs.

For me, within the horror genre, kitchen sink gothic is the antithesis of Jamesian or Lovecraftian horror. There are no distinguished scholars. The settings are unglamorous, perhaps unatmospheric in the accepted sense of the word in supernatural literature. And gritty.

I was reminded of my own occasional leanings in that direction after someone reviewed one of my stories (Dark Visions 1, Grey Matter Press, 2013): "Scrap by David A. Riley could easily have been a kitchen sink drama, depicting the lives of two brothers growing up in a poverty-stricken council estate in England."

Shortly afterwards I came across John Braine’s novel The Vodi, listed by M. John Harrision as amongst his top ten novels: “Constructed round the fantasies of a recovering tuberculosis patient, this novel was the defining moment of an as-yet-unreported genre, kitchen sink gothic. One of my favourite books of all time, it doesn’t seem to be in print with the rest of Braine’s backlist.” Fortunately, Valancourt Books rectified this situation, republishing it in paperback in 2013.

In the anthology you are now holding you will find stories that cover a wide range of Kitchen Sink Gothic, from the darkly humorous to the weirdly strange and occasionally horrific.  I hope you find the genre as fascinating as I do.
If any potential contributor would like to take a look at volume 1 to get a better idea of the type of stories we will be interested in, please email us at paralleluniversepublications@gmx.co.uk for either a free mobi copy or a pdf, which we'll gladly email to you.

Deadline: August 1st 2018.