Thursday, June 03, 2010


Where the Heart is

Themed anthologies are always welcome. The inestimable Gray Frair Press recently issued a call for authors to submit weird stories about their home towns. The end result would be a fantastical gazetteer of modern Britain. It's a great conceit for an anthology! I was invited to submit and I responded postively at once. Any chance to present Swansea in fiction (a form that allows unpalatable truths to be explored with less risk of censure) must be seized immediately! The story I submitted is entitled 'The Cuckoos of Bliss' and is one of the darkest and bleakest and most blasphemous tales I have written in the past decade. Originally created for Bible Black, an anthology themed around quotations from the Bible that an incompetent publisher never finalised, it has been hanging around in its English form for many years, judged as "too dark" for inclusion in my subsequent short story collections.

It did appear in French (the French have always been more phlegmatic about blasphemous themes than the British) back in 2006 as 'Les Coucous de la félicité' in the Les Anges électriques anthology, but I'm delighted that it's finally going to appear in its original language. I rarely write horror stories; my own belief is that existential horror is the only kind worth creating, and that when it is too intense it can be genuinely dangerous to the soul. The stories that have most strongly affected me in this regard are some pieces by Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad and Philip K. Dick. A small number of themes are truly unbearable: for example, the fact that both eternal consciousness and eternal oblivion are equally terrible but that one of them must be our fate. 'The Cuckoos of Bliss' is about existing in a state of eternal contempt, the ultimate low for any human organism...

Where the Heart is contains stories by such fine writers as Stephen Volk, Joel Lane, Gary McMahon, Gary Fry, Allen Ashley, John Travis and many others. The striking cover is shown in the first picture. Because I felt sorry for the poor wounded map of Britain, I decided to apply a few plasters to the nation, hence the second picture!

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