Tag Archives: horror fiction

‘Perspective’

PERSPECTIVE is an ambitious multi-viewpoint story (written in First, Second, and Third Person) that deals with an historical rape, hysterical blindness, and a marriage feeling the strains of both. It’s about power and powerlessness, the need to be seen, and the need to see. Hands down, it’s the darkest, most disturbing thing I’ve ever written. But I feel it has some important things to say.
-July 2015

I wrote those words almost one year ago.  Since then the story has been completed, submitted, and only just this week, accepted. It is due for publication in Black Static #54, sometime later this year.

I hope you buy a copy.

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Two Stories, Free to Read

This morning, I’ve added two very different stories to my Recommend Reading list.  They’re both online and free to read, so if you’ve got a little time and want to read some quality fiction, click on the links below.

Always, They Whisper by Damien Walters Grintalis  (publisher – Lightspeed; genre – dark fantasy/horror)

Rag and Bone by Priya Sharma (publisher – Tor.com; genre – alternate history/horror)

You won’t be disappointed…

Interzone #246 & Black Static #34 available, and another story acceptance

Interzone #246   Black Static #34

The latest issue of Interzone (#246) is now available to buy from TTA Press.  Here are the stories (in order of appearance):

THE MACHINEHOUSE WORKER’S SONG by Steven J. Dines
TRIOLET by Jess Hyslop
SENTRY DUTY by Nigel Brown
THE ANGEL AT THE HEART OF THE RAIN by Aliette de Boddard
THESEA AND ASTAURIUS by Priya Sharma
THE CORE by Lavie Tidhar
CAT WORLD by Georgina Bruce

Follow the link above to check out the interior artwork and the rest of the contents.  My involvement aside, I think it looks great.  But if SF isn’t your thing (and horror is) then Black Static #34 is also available now, with fiction by Nina Allan, Joel Lane, Ilan Lerman, Andrew Hook, and Sean Logan.  The line-up and interior artwork for the new issue both look fantastic.  As a reader, I cannot recommend this magazine enough.

Which segues rather nicely to my next announcement…

My latest effort, a dark novelette set in a care home, MEN PLAYING GHOSTS, PLAYING GOD, has been accepted for Black Static #35, due for publication in July.  This will be my second appearance in the magazine, following THE THINGS THAT GET YOU THROUGH, which appeared in #31 at the tail end of 2012.  The timing is perfect (once again) – because I’ve been dithering with the latest project and losing faith.  Time to pick myself up and get moving again.

Reading the Dead

After the recent passing of two prominent figures in horror literature, I thought the best tribute I could make was to sit down and read some of their work.  I have only read a couple of James Herbert’s novels in my lifetime, I am ashamed to admit – The Magic Cottage and The Rats – so I chose as my starting point the follow-up to the latter:  Lair.  After a slow but never dull opening, the action and horror is classic Herbert.  Herbert wasn’t the best writer, but he was an expert in those scenes that matter, the scenes that punch and bite.  If you’re unfamiliar with his work, his ‘Rats’ trilogy is as good a place as any to start.

Before Rick Hautala’s death, I was unfamiliar with his work (actually, I had read and enjoyed his story Goblin Boy in Cemetery Dance #64 but did not connect it to him until after his death).  I took advantage of an offer to download (for free) his Best Of short-story collection, Glimpses.  Although the first story did not connect with me at all, those proceeding it have shown me Rick was indeed a skilful and economic writer of dark and unusual prose.  I haven’t finished reading the stories yet; I am dipping in and out, savouring each one.  But I’m pretty sure this won’t be the end of my Hautala experience…

Unlike many of the tribute blog posts I have read, I cannot claim to have extensive knowledge of either man’s catalogue, but I believe it is never too late to start on a journey.  After all, that’s what legacies are made of.  And besides, what better tribute is there to men of words than to read the words they lived for?

R.I.P. James.

R.I.P. Rick.

Free Fiction: The Fly

A few posts ago I mentioned a free story.  So, here’s a flash fiction I wrote in 2006.  It first appeared in the ezine Shadowed Pathways in June of that year and then as a PDF download from Dark Reveries in December, again, same year.  Both magazines are now defunct, unfortunately.  It’s an oldie of mine, but I think it holds a certain…charm.

THE FLY
by Steven J. Dines

I hate Caitlyn and flies. I hate how you land casually on her dinner plate and gorge yourself on her half-eaten Penne with pink vodka sauce. And I hate the sound of the rain rapping on our apartment window like a thousand of your associates, all of them desperate to get inside. The swatter whistles as I bring it down on the plate, and you vanish like a fleck of dust blinked from my eye. I wonder if you were ever there. I swat again, and tubes of pasta fall to the carpet like spent shells.

Ah, there you are. Up there. Boxing the ceiling light when a circle or an ellipse would make more sense. Christ, even insects contradict me. I take a wild swing and there’s a loud pop and suddenly the room is plunged into darkness. You buzz past my ear and I start cursing her for leaving, for not giving a good enough reason, for boxing around my pleas.

In the bedroom, I hunt for a flashlight, but when I hear you buzz into the room behind me I turn around. You land, nearly camouflaged, on the tip of a black-topped biro.

Caitlyn liked to steal pens. If she saw one lying unattended on a desk at work, she took it because she thought it was lonely. She would’ve become one of those old women who take in stray cats. Me, I would’ve remained one of those old men who think they’re vermin. Maybe she was right about us being wrong. Now I don’t know what the future holds. She’s left four coffee mugs of lonely pens lying on her dresser. Squatting on the pen tip, you flex your wings. The swatter comes down hard and fast, and when I check it I’m disappointed to find you’re not slowly peeling away from the underside. Meanwhile, the pens are everywhere.

I follow you into the white-tiled bathroom. It is easier to see you in here; easier to swing. I remember Caitlyn tried to yank me away from the toilet when I dangled the silver necklace I bought her for our second anniversary. “Don’t. Give it back. It doesn’t belong to you.” According to her, nothing belonged to me. I let go of the necklace and she surged forward, pushed me aside, and then thrust her arm into the toilet water. I grabbed a fistful of her hair and punched her face against the rim. The necklace faded under water quickly turning red.

I see you.

There, on the back of Caitlyn’s neck.

My bane.

I raise the swatter, take aim, and bring it down. There is a loud, satisfying, but cold snap.

“Got you,” I say, the words echoing off the tiles.

That toilet seat’s been up three days now. She used to complain about me leaving it like that. So, I put it down—with her still lodged under there and too large, right now, to flush.

I loved that woman.

But I hate the flies.

‘Crimewave’ acceptance

Following the appearance of THE THINGS THAT GET YOU THROUGH in UK horror magazine, Black Static, and the acceptance of THE MACHINEHOUSE WORKER’S SONG for sister mag, Interzone, I am extremely pleased to announce that my latest, THE SPACE THAT RUNS AWAY WITH YOU, will appear in issue 12 of TTA Press’s Crimewave.  Achieving the triple is pretty special to me, and it has given me another jolt of confidence to keep writing and keep getting my work out there.  Thanks to editor Andy Cox for his continuing support.

TTA Press website