I received my contributor copies of my new chapbook, “Life Once Lived”, yesterday and it’s a very nice beast. It features two of my short stories and has an excellent cover by Neil Jackson. As I did with “A Quiet Weekend Away”, I thought it might be interesting (even if only to me) to include some backgrounds to the stories, as a kind of electronic afterword.
Paul Kane emailed me, asking if I had a story for an anthology he was co-editing, that would see publication first in Germany and then in the UK. I agreed, though at the time I was working on what would become “Conjure” and I owed my co-writer, T M Gray, an edit on our joint novel “White Meat”. The only stipulations Paul had were that it should be about 3k words and not OTT gory and I noted at the time “I don’t want to write about gore - I want to write a love story where one of the protagonists is dead and rotting.”
The concept of a zombie partner is one I’d had knocking around for a while and finding my original first line - “Jenny came back today” - really kicked it off. That tied in with a lot of horrible feelings I’d had, revolving around people “understanding how I felt” following the passing of my sister. Most of that venom was written out as the drafts went on, but it was very therapeutic writing it down in the first place.
The story is set in Gaffney, using the same cemetery as the one in my novel “In The Rain With The Dead” and although the story didn’t lend itself to flippancy, there is a little in-joke - my best friend Nick borrowed my copy of “Night Shift” and read it in the bath and it did, indeed, swell up to the size of a phone book.
The book - Albions Alpträume: Zombies - was published in 2006 and was a very nice edition, but it never appeared in the UK. Hence, this is the first English language publication.
I got word, through an Internet group I belonged to, that an anthology was being produced that would feature classic monsters. I was working on my novel at the time, so I didn’t think too much about it, until we went on holiday to Wales a few weeks later. Whilst there, we saw an old church in the middle of nowhere and that got the creative juices flowing (along with nagging thoughts of zombies, the only classic monster I have any real enthusiasm for, other than werewolves).
It took a few drafts to get this around, though most of the story came out as I went along - I worked from the barest of frameworks and had little idea of how it would end. Canuris, obviously, isn’t real but this is set around Snowdonia and, more specifically, the town of Bedgelert (where there is a very nice pizza place that does excellent garlic bread).
This was originally published in Darkness Rising 7, in July 2003 and I had some terrific editorial input from Mick Sims.
The chapbook, published by Ghostwriter Publications, can be ordered from the publisher at this link