My successes began to build and in early 2003 I approached John B Ford at Rainfall Books with the idea of him publishing my first collection. He agreed and gave me a 30k word limit, so I selected my stories and lightly revised them. He also agreed to me designing the cover, which I was keen to do after experimenting with software I got with our first digital camera. I talked over ideas with Alison and, in the end, she agreed to be my model. I still - ten years later - think it’s a great image and it’s still the header for my website.
I first saw the book (in proof form) in October at a Terror Scribes gathering in the Cittie Of York pub in Holborn and when John handed it to me I had to sit quietly for a few moments, just turning it over in my hands. The collection was launched (along with four other Rainfall titles) at a BFS Open Night at the Princess Louise, Holborn, in London, in December 2003. I did a reading (“The Thief Of Road Signs”, since it’s short), then caught up with old friends and signed loads of copies, whilst slotting my home-made bookmarks into them.
Thankfully, the collection was well received and picked up some nice reviews and, more importantly, sold out for Rainfall Books, which I was really pleased about.
As it is, “Strange Tales” hasn’t been available since 2004 though second hand copies do occasionally surface and often for much more than the original cost (I assume the higher priced ones command such a fee because they’re among the few that are unsigned).
To that end, I’ve decided to re-publish the collection - as a Tenth Anniversary edition - through my little imprint PenMan Press. This ‘special edition’ will be a facsimile of the original Rainfall Books version, with the addition of an introduction and a bonus short story “A Quiet Weekend Away” (which originally appeared in a Rainfall Books anthology). I have resisted the urge to update the stories - so not much Internet, mobile phones are basic and not at all smart and there aren’t many digital cameras - and I’ve also carried over the original artwork (if it ain’t broke…).
The Special Edition will be available in October and I hope that if you decide to pick it up you’ll enjoy the tales (and the me that was writing back then). These stories have been good to me and I’m pleased to see them have a new lease of life.
Mark West’s crisp economic style reels you straight in, and the horror hits you hard and quickly and refuses to lay off. He writes from the dark underside of our everyday human existence, calling on the sort of personal demons one could easily imagine lying in wait for any one of us. Tread here at your peril…”
- Paul Finch, author of “Stalkers” and “Sacrifice”
Mark West is an excellent, young writer. His compelling stories have a well-crafted, slowly-increasing sense of tension and dread, sometimes with a hint of creepy paranoia reminiscent of Phillip K. Dick mixed in, the endings always abrupt and chilling, like an unexpected splash in the face with ice water.
- Gene O’Neill, author of “The Burden Of Indigo” and “The Taste Of Tenderloin”
Mark West is a powerful and unique voice in horror literature. ‘Strange Tales’ is a chilling masterpiece of spine-tingling stories!
- T.M. Gray, author of “Feast Of Faust”
Mark West's Strange Tales are stronger, more gristly meat. His simple, unembellished style belies the often visceral subjects, imparting compassion and logic to a series of abnormal psychopaths and deranged souls. If you're at all squeamish, look away now...
- Simon Morden, author of “The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy”