Category Archives: news

Don’t Look Back

For those who follow this site I’m sure this post will come as a surprise especially as my last post was written in 2015 so let me explain.

For various reasons I pretty much stopped reviewing books in 2015. Now this had nothing to do with my love of books and especially horror books, that is still there. No, it had more to do with my confidence as a reviewer and my feelings about reviewing in general.

It’s a weird thing that anyone can set themselves up as a reviewer on the Internet and suddenly they have an authoritative voice and platform that could effect other peoples careers, dreams, Jesus, even their lives.

I like to think my reviews were fair and honest and I didn’t generally post bad reviews simply because I don’t generally finish bad books, but even so, I felt a pressure from reviewing that began to spoil the enjoyment of the reading, so I stopped.

I restarted in various new incarnations but the joy had gone. I was in a tremendously privileged position being able to talk to authors, publishers, being given access to early proof copies and free books, the best bit was the free books! I want to thank everyone who helped me, both fellow reviewers, publishers and authors. I hope I gave something back for all that you gave me.

All of which sounds like a valedictory speech but actually this isn’t goodbye, it’s a new hello.

Since I’ve been able to read I wanted to write and I did write some absolute rubbish, but I never told anyone and I never tried to get anything published. A few years ago I popped above the parapet and had a couple of short stories published but I still didn’t have the confidence to really make writing a public thing until now.

So what’s changed, I don’t know. I have stories burning a hole in both my mind and my PC that I want to get out there and so I’ve decided to do just that. I will be trying to get some other short stories published very shortly and am half way into a novel I’ve left simmering on a low heat for many years now. Recently I’ve brought it back to the boil and added some extra onions, I’m aiming for a completed first draft by May and despite it being many years in the making I know this time it will happen. I don’t know why I know, but I know.

So if you’ve ever found this site valuable. If you’ve ever wanted to see a writer struggle on the first shaky steps on the ladder to obscurity. If you love horror and dark fiction and fancy reading some stories by this new guy I know (I’ve heard he’s pretty good) then hold onto your hats.

In the meantime something is stirring in the Black Abyss, full steam ahead please and for god’s sake, don’t look back.

Colin

 

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Don’t Look Back

For those who follow this site I’m sure this post will come as a surprise especially as my last post was written in 2015 so let me explain.

For various reasons, that I might explain at some future telling, I pretty much stopped reviewing books in 2015. Now this had noting to do with my love of books and especially horror books, that is still there. No, it had more to do with my confidence as a reviewer and my feelings about reviewing in general.

It’s a weird thing that anyone can set themselves up as a reviewer on the Internet and suddenly they have an authoritative voice and platform that could effect other peoples careers, dreams, Jesus even their lives.

I like to think my reviews were fair and honest and I didn’t generally post bad reviews simply because I don’t generally finish bad books, but even so, I felt a pressure from reviewing that began to spoil the enjoyment of the reading, so I stopped.

I restarted in various new incarnations but the joy had gone. I was in a tremendously privileged position being able to talk to authors, publishers, being given access to early proof copies and free books, the best bit was the free books! I want to thank everyone who helped me, both fellow reviewers, publishers and authors. I hope I gave something back for all that you gave me.

All of which sounds like a valedictory speech but actually this isn’t goodbye, it’s a new hello.

Since I could read I wanted to write and I did write some absolute rubbish but I never told anyone and I never tried to get anything published. A few years ago I popped above the parapet and had a couple of short stories published but I still didn’t have the confidence to really make writing a public thing until now.

So what’s changed, I don’t know. I have stories burning a hole in both my mind and my PC that I want to get out there and so I’ve decided to do just that. I will be trying to get some other short stories published very shortly and am half way into a novel I’ve left simmering on a low heat for many years now. Recently I’ve brought it back to the boil and added some extra onions, I’m aiming for a completed first draft by May and despite it being many years in the making I know this time it will happen. I don’t know why I know but I know.

So if you’ve ever found this site valuable. If you’ve ever wanted to see a writer struggle on the first shaky steps on the ladder to obscurity. If you love horror and dark fiction and fancy reading some stories by this new guy I know (I’ve heard he’s pretty good) then hold onto your hats.

In the meantime something is stirring in the Black Abyss, full steam ahead please and for god’s sake, don’t look back.

Colin

 

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The Beauty Of Books

Look at that will you? Beautiful isn’t it, a pristine brand new copy of John Connolly’s The Reflecting Eye. For those who don’t know, John Connolly has recently completed a book tour of America where he decided to make this book available in an effort to support independent booksellers. You can read more info on John’s blog here but here is a snippet of why he did it –

“…when this tour was announced I decided to arrange a special limited edition of “The Reflecting Eye,” the Charlie Parker novella that had previously appeared in the NOCTURNES collection but had never been published in hardback. I commissioned artwork, rewrote portions, and arranged for it to be bound by a lovely bookbindery in Maine. The bookstores we visit are just paying me the cost of making it, and they’re keeping all of the profits. It’s a vote of confidence not just in bookstores, but in the beauty and value of the physical object of the book, something that we’ve been coming back to again and again on this tour. “

I have nothing against ebooks, I read plenty for review here but let’s face it the ebook is a soulless object, the writing may be the most soulful work on the planet but wrapped in that dull grey kindle glow it becomes disconnected from the reader, you can get joy from the writing but not from the book. This book however is a thing of beauty, immaculately produced, quality paper, wonderful artwork and it smells like a book should.  John goes on to say –

The question that those of us who care about books in any form have to ask is: will the world be a poorer place without bookstores and, indeed, without easy access to printed books? If the answer is yes – and if it isn’t, well, you’re wrong – then we all have to try to support them as best we can.”

That’s a statement I thoroughly agree with. Ebooks are all about convenience, ease of use, possibly even economy, all worthwhile values in their own right but I have yet to find an ebook that can be described as beautiful, something you can hold and cherish and know that in many years time you will still have be able to hold and cherish it and that’s the beauty of books.

Starting soon, I will be revisiting all John Connolly’s works, it’s something I have wanted to do for ages, to go back to the start and see how his writing, characters and mythos have all evolved both in his Charlie Parker series and elsewhere but rather than simply review the books I am hoping to go into more depth and look at his work in general. Consider it a John Connolly book club, so if you want to join me on the journey get yourself a copy of his first novel Every Dead Thing and join in the discussion when I post my first article in a couple of weeks time. It’ll be great to hear what others have to say about the books and hopefully we can build up the discussions as we go, either way if you haven’t read any Connolly this might be the ideal time to start.

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This Is Horror Premium Chapbooks

 I have been privileged to contribute to This Is Horror in a small way over the last few months and have watched as it has grown into an excellent, and much needed, resource for horror fans of all types of media. But the boundless enthusiasm of the TIH crowd cointinues apace with their latest venture, publishing and a range of premium chapbooks. Starting with David Moody’s Joe and Me (see above) and continuing with some of the best writers in the genre Gary McMahon, Joseph D’Lacey, Simon Bestwick and Conrad Williams (see below) this promises to be a range not to be missed.

You can buy the individual chapbooks starting with Joe and Me from this link but a far more sensible idea would be to take out an annual subscription which is not only cheaper but has the following benefits :

 PREMIUM SUBSCRIBER BENEFITS

  • Exclusive e-chapbook at no extra cost
  • Exclusive members only premium newsletter
  • Win a second year’s annual subscription
  • Guarantee a copy of chapbooks before they sell out
  • Save money

I have already subscribed so expect to see reviews here in the future but given the quality of the authors involved and the fact that these are limited editions I wouldn’t hang around if I was you. You can subscribe by following this link.

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This Is Horror Premium Chapbooks

I am proud to have been involved in a small way with This Is Horror and to have watched it grow from a small blog to a large and extensive horror resource, a site which actually caters for true fans. That’s why I am absolutely delighted to point you in the direction of the new This Is Horror Premium Chapbook series. You will get much more information by reading this post over at This Is Horror but if I just point out that stories have already been announced from Conrad Williams, Gary McMahon and Simon Bestwick, Joseph D’Lacey and David Moody, you will understand why this series has me drooling in anticipation already.

Congratulations to Michael and everyone else at This Is Horror and I hope this new venture is a huge success, it deserves to be. Once again you can read more here.

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The Loneliness Of A Long Distance Blogger

I thought I should explain what is and has been going on at The Black Abyss and more importantly what will be going on in the future. Reading is a lonely business, blogging is a lonely business and blogging about reading can often leave one feeling like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man. So why do I do it? Well it’s not for the money, it’s not even for the ego trip (although I suspect a few of my fellow bloggers might disagree), I do it because I want to spread the word about the books I am reading. I am not a professional reviewer or a literary critic (you may have noticed) in fact I love this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, “works of art are of an infinite solitariness, and nothing is less likely to bring us near to them than criticism. Only love can apprehend and hold them, and can be just towards them.” That’s the thing you see, I love reading and for some obscure, probably deeply disturbing psychological reason, I love reading horror and dark fiction books. My only objective when I started blogging about books was to let people know what is out there and how damn good some of it is.

Trouble is, it’s often hard to know if anyone else is interested. Responses from publishers can often be rarer that unicorn hair, Facebook can feel like a civil war about to start (or more often one that is about to finish) and among all the politics and checking of page hits (woohoo 25 today!) its easy to lose sight of the reason for all this and with that comes self-doubt leading to apathy and the near death of the Black Abyss. Then, just when you think it’s all pointless and you are about to let the Black Abyss leave it’s clothes on a beach and walk off to some paradise, you hear something that makes it all worthwhile. Recently among all the Facebook fuckery, someone posted an image of the acknowledgement page in Gary McMahon’s new novel, Silent Voices and there was my name and suddenly it all seems worthwhile. Not because my name was going to be seen by the book’s readers but because Gary McMahon has acknowledged the support bloggers have given in getting the word out there. Suddenly it all seems worthwhile again, if through The Black Abyss I have turned one person on to Gary McMahon or Robert Dunbar or Conrad Williams…etc, etc then all the politics, doubts and apathy are blown clean out of the water and the excitement comes surging back.

That one simple act is why you are reading this (if indeed anyone is reading this). The big publishers might not care, the vast majority of the general public might not care but you, me, the occasional writer and small press publisher care and that’s what matters. So The Black Abyss is back, over the next few weeks I will be tidying up the site and looking for ways to move it forward but chiefly I will be getting back to reviews and keeping things simple. Finally, I want to publicly thank Michael at This Is Horror (the single best horror resource on the web) who threw out a life-raft when the Abyss was sinking. I hope to still be involved in This Is Horror but I have come to realise that my true home is back in The Black Abyss. Of course regular readers will know that I have had more comebacks than Rocky, what can I say, next time I say I am giving up drop me line and remind me that sometimes I do talk bollocks. In fact drop me a line anyway, after all it’s lonely being a horror blogger……..

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Shadow Publishing News

David Sutton’s Shadow Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of The Female of the Species & Other Terror Tales by Richard Davis (1935-2005).

The Female of the Species & Other Terror Tales (“Writers from the Shadows #1”)

Shadow Publishing 2012

Paperback 240 pages, £7.99

ISBN: 978-0-9539032-4-5

Cover Artwork by Caroline O’Neal

Richard never saw a collection of his stories published in his lifetime and this book includes all of the author’s short stories, culled from as far back as 1963 and ‘The Fourth Pan Book of Horror Stories’ up to the 1980s. The collection contains an introduction about his life, the fiction and anthologies, including his work as story editor for the BBC’s Late Night Horror series. The book will also feature two rare articles and an interview with the author, from the late 1960s.

“At the time I interviewed Richard for my small press magazine in 1969, he was already an established short story writer, had compiled two anthologies for Tandem Books and the BBC series Out of the Unknown, for which he worked as assistant story editor, had been on air since 1965… Yet, some forty plus years later, Richard’s fiction has largely been forgotten. Although not prolific, he was widely published in anthologies in England. Yet he never saw a collection of his tales published during his lifetime. Hence this book and its integration into a projected series under the collective tag, Writers from the Shadows.” (From the Introduction).

Contents:

Introduction by David A. Sutton

The Female of the Species

Elsie and Agnes

A Day Out

The Lady by the Stream

The Inmate

A Nice Cut off the Joint

Guy Fawkes Night

The Time of Waiting

The Sick Room

The Clump

The Nondescript

What We Were Looking for in Horror

An Interview with Richard Davis

Horror in Fiction

Bibliography

The cover artist is the painter and illustrator Caroline O’Neal. Caroline has done dark fantasy illustration for Bad Moon Books, Premonitions and Midnight Street magazines, among others.

More information at : Shadow Publishing

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