A special mid-week post for a guest spot by my friend Willie Meikle
, whose latest collection, The Ghost Club
, was published on 8th December by Crystal Lake Publishing.
Over to you, Willie!
Mark and I have never met, but we've 'known' each other online for many years now. I think of him as a friend, and a fellow traveler on the winding, sometimes meandering, pathways we walk as genre writers in pursuit of fortune and glory. We have different enthusiasms -- I don't have a thing for Stormtroopers for example -- but we both have a thing for Caroline Munro, and we're both headed, mostly, in the same direction.
My personal enthusiasms lie in the past, but farther back than Mark's Star Wars
, Roger Moore's Bond, and INXS.
My name's Willie, and I've got a thing for Victoriana.
I'm not sure exactly when it started, but it was somewhere around fifty years ago now. Adam Adamant was on the telly, ZULU was my favorite movie and I was reading Verne, Wells, Doyle and Stevenson. I moved away and on into the future with Clarke, Asimov, Aldiss, Vance and then Moorcock, Zelazny, Ellison, Le Guin, Delaney et al a few years later, but the love of period works never really left me and over the years I remained charmed by the likes of Kim Newman and Tim Powers in print, Jeremy Brett on the telly and endless rewatches of Taste the Blood of Dracula on VHS.
Strangely, when I started out writing in the early 90s, it never occurred to me to write in the period. I was often off and away on another of my enthusiasms in pulp detectives, aliens and big beasties causing mayhem. Mark and I crossed paths in some small press publications back then too, which is where I guess we came to each others' notice.
It wasn't until around 2008 after I left the UK small press field, went full time as a writer, came to Newfoundland, and got a new lease of life that I really started turning part of my writing life towards my first enthusiasms. There were a couple of factors that pushed me there; firstly a publisher asked me to write a couple of CARNACKI stories which, while not Victoriana, were close enough in style for me to develop the taste and realise I liked it.
Then I saw Charles Prepolec on Facebook putting out a submission call for weird Sherlock Holmes stories. I had no idea whether I could pull it off but I gave it a try, got accepted and appeared in GASLIGHT GROTESQUE from EDGE Publishing. At that very point it was as if an engine got turned on, one that I couldn't turn off. Over the next few years I wrote more CARNACKI fiction ( 3 collections of it now), more HOLMES works (a novel, 3 novellas and a collection as well as a handful of other stories), a CHALLENGER sequel to the Lost World, and a CHALLENGER collection. It's not all I wrote, but it made up over half of my output for quite a few years.
I did get something out of my system though, and I thought I'd now said most of what I want to say, especially in Doylian pastiches. I wanted to do my own thing more, and veered off to write a bunch of books for DarkFuse and Dark Regions Press, and venture into more modern horrors and some Lovecraftian fantasies. I couldn't quite get rid of CARNACKI, I'm not sure I ever will, but at least Holmes and Watson don't take over my head any more.
I thought that was it for the Victoriana. But then someone on Facebook mentioned H Rider Haggard and asked if I'd thought of doing something in that vein. I hadn't, then suddenly I had. But not just Haggard. I mentioned earlier about Wells, Verne, Stevenson and Doyle. I'd also read Haggard and Kipling, Tolstoy and Twain and more. And suddenly the Victoriana pulled me back in, I had a 'what if...' moment thinking about a ghost club, and there it was, a new idea in my head. I've been at it long enough to know that when something like that hits me, I have to write it.
It's called THE GHOST CLUB, and it's a simple premise.
In Victorian London a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.
So I wrote a bunch of stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day: Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard, Wilde and Blavatsky alongside their hosts. I had more than a few moments of panic and self doubt, wondered many times whether the sin of pride would bite me on the arse or the ghosts of the dead writers would come along in their own little club and laugh me out of the room.
And finally it was done.
Then the real worrying started. But it has a home, it has advance readers who loved it, including some of my favorite writers, and it's now out in the world.
I can't do any more about it, it's in the hands of the readers.
And now, again, I've said I'm done with Victoriana for a while. My latest work in progress is pure pulp creature feature, I have a contract for more of the same, and I'm also working on a big historical fantasy thing with another writer that's about as far from the Victorian as I can get.
And yet... I've recently had a tickle of interest from a publisher who might want to see a new set of Victorian ghost stories from me. I'm a bit busy to be thinking about it but...
My name's Willie, and I've got a thing for Victoriana.
* * * * *
THE GHOST CLUB was published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 8th December 2017.
It's a simple premise.
In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.
These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you'll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard, Wilde and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.
Come, join us for dinner and a story.
THE GHOST CLUB MEMBERS AND THEIR STORIES
Robert Louis Stevenson Wee Davie Makes a Friend
Rudyard Kipling The High Bungalow
Leo Tolstoy The Immortal Memory
Bram Stoker The House of the Dead
Mark Twain Once a Jackass
Herbert George Wells Farside
Margaret Oliphant To the Manor Born
Oscar Wilde The Angry Ghost
Henry Rider Haggard The Black Ziggurat
Helena P Blavatsky Born of Ether
Henry James The Scrimshaw Set
Anton Checkov At the Molenzki Junction
Jules Verne To the Moon and Beyond
Arthur Conan Doyle The Curious Affair on the Embankment
* * * * *
'The Ghost Club is a massively ambitious anthology of stories 'by' classic authors as imagined by the extremely talented William Meikle. Massively entertaining, too.'
- Simon Clark, author of the award winning THE NIGHT OF THE TRIFFIDS
'In the past, we’ve had the Diogenes Club, the ‘Club of the Damned’, and even Peter Straub’s ‘Chowder Society.’ Now we have THE GHOST CLUB by William Meikle. And it is, quite simply, a delight. Not only has the author displayed his knowledge of and love for the writers of yesteryear, but in creating ‘The Ghost Club’ our host has produced his own collection of unknown and previously unpublished short stories ‘by’ Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Leo Tolstoy, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, H. G.Wells, Margaret Oliphant, Oscar Wilde, H. Rider Haggard, Helena P Blavatsky, Henry James, Anton Chekhov, Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. I say ‘unknown’, when I mean – of course – that all the stories are written by Mr Meikle in the style of the aforementioned authors; and the entire experience of reading this collection is like sitting with him in an old fashioned study, with a roaring fire, guttering shadows and a snifter or two of brandy as he unfolds his ‘Ghost Club’ tales. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.'
- Stephen Laws, author of GHOST TRAIN
'William Meikle is an audacious writer! In The Ghost Club he takes on the personalities of literary icons Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and the like and creates stories they might have told, mimicking their voices and writing styles. And he makes that work! I have too many favorites to name but as I read from start to finish, the stories just got better and better and I found myself as absorbed as if I were reading spooky tales told by these master storytellers. Kudos to Meikle! Lovers of traditional and quirky ghost stories need The Ghost Club in their library!'
- Nancy Kilpatrick. author of REVENGE OF THE VAMPYR KING
"Masters of literature spin classic spooky tales in this chilling collection."
– Scott Nicholson, author of THE RED CHURCH
* * * * *
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with twenty five novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.
He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.
He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.
When he's not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory. He can be found online at his website
, on Facebook
or on Twitter