This post has been a little while in coming. Truth be told I hadn’t much expected it to ever happen – after all, ask anyone and they’ll tell you short story collections don’t sell in the UK. And yet here I am, with another lovely Larry Rostant cover to admire and my name on another book. Now they’re all special – you publish a book that isn’t special to you and it either will be your last or should be. Even for a professional author, each one remains a constant for a period of your life and should trigger an emotion as strong as the smell of freshly cut grass. Where you wrote the book, who you lived with or drank with – they’re all bound up with each one but God Tattoo encompassed most of my adult life as it turned out.
I can remember writing Beast in Velvet and Afraid of the Dark in my student house, Dark of the Moor after work in the shabby (former) offices of A M Heath with that funny smell halfway up the stairs, Shadows in the Library in the little house we rented when we moved to Oxford. Memories for each – almost a different author for some given the intervening years. But they were all for my own entertainment – side-tales to the Twilight Reign mostly written off the back of my discovery of writers like M R James and Lovecraft. Older versions of some were released on the net and a couple of people even read them; Beast got me my first print publication (despite being a second draft which the editor cut the very last line of) and I still have the never-paid in cheque of $10 as a reminder.
As a collection however, while they belonged together I never really believe they’d appear as a grown-up book. And yet here they are at long last I’m delighted to say – some isolated little tales, others that hinted at the wider conflict and ended up charting the course of the novels themselves. Among there are my own small takes on a serial killer tale, a locked room mystery, several ghost stories, a damsel in distress and Lovecraft’s accounts of horror. But they’re all part of the Twilight Reign world. If you remember the nameless captain from the Di Senego club in Narkang, he appeared there because two of these tales and I didn’t want the Twilight Reign to happen without him. That’s the thing with stories, your emotions get tangled up in them, but I’d not have it any other way.
So here you go, my little stories, all grown up. I hope you enjoy them.
The God Tattoo is out now where all good books are sold.