The Second Ten

Black Static 18

This is the cover for Black Static, issue 18, which contains the second group of ten winners from the Campaign for Real Fear:

  • ‘Infected With Death’ by John Fagan
  • ‘The Exchange’ by Eileen Chao
  • ‘Under The Microscope’ by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
  • ‘See You Later’ by M. M. De Voe
  • ‘Showtime’ by James Carroll
  • ‘Hounded’ by Christina Koh
  • ‘Big Brother, Little Sister’ by Sam Fleming
  • ‘Cuckoo’ by Lorraine Slater
  • ‘Dreadless’ by Anna Rogala
  • ‘Give Me More Eyes for Nakedness’ by Paul Synnott

The cover art is ‘Chaining the Night Mare’ by Ben Baldwin.

The issue will also contain the following stories:

  • ‘Orinoco’ by Nina Allan
  • ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ by Carole Johnstone
  • ‘A Man of Ice and Sorrow’ by Simon Kurt Unsworth
  • ‘The Obscure Bird’ by Nicholas Royle
  • ‘Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us’ by Mercurio D. Rivera

As well as columns by Pete Tennant, Christopher Fowler, Stephen Volk and Tony Lee.

The official “on-sale” date for this issue is August 13th. Get your subscription now!

The first ten

Black Static 17Here’s the cover for Black Static, issue 17. The first group of ten winners from the Campaign for Real Fear will be published in this issue:

  • ‘Copy Degradation’ by Gemma Files
  • ‘The Rude Little Girl’ by Kaaron Warren
  • ‘Nice One, Truly’ by Alan Morgan
  • ‘On The Beaten Path’ by Janos Honkonken
  • ‘In The Night Supermarket’ by James Burt
  • ‘Shades of Blue’ by Catherine MacLeod
  • ‘This Is Mung’ by Christine Emmett
  • ‘The Price’ by Jennifer Williams
  • ‘The Flinchfield Dance’ by Mary Elizabeth Burroughs
  • ‘Sanctuary’ by Katherine Hughes

As well as the following stories:

  • ‘Faces in Walls’ by John Shirley, illustrated by Ben Baldwin
  • ‘Zombie Cabana Boy’ by Suzanne Palmer, illustrated by Dave Senecal
  • ‘Three-Legged Bird’ by Vylar Kaftan, illustrated by Ben Baldwin
  • ‘The Lady in the Tigris’ by Daniel Kaysen, illustrated by Rik Rawling

The issue will also contain feedback and analysis by Chris Fowler and myself about the Campaign, plus columns by Pete Tennant, Stephen Volk and Tony Lee.

Make sure you get your copy early!

The Top Twenty

haunting words

First: thanks to everyone who entered the competition. We were delighted at the enthusiastic response to our call for modern, scary stories.

Due to the large number of entries for the Campaign for Real Fear, and the high calibre of the final group of submissions, Chris and I have decided to select twenty winning stories.

You will be able to read the first batch of ten stories in the June issue (#17) of Black Static followed by the second batch of ten stories in the August issue (#18), and they will be podcast by Action Audio.

Top Twenty

  • ‘Copy Degradation’ by Gemma Files; Canada
  • ‘In The Night Supermarket’ by James Burt; UK
  • ‘Nice One, Truly’ by Alan Morgan; UK
  • ‘On The Beaten Path’ by Janos Honkonen; Finland
  • ‘Sanctuary’ by Katherine Hughes; UK
  • ‘The Price’ by Jennifer Williams; UK
  • ‘The Rude Little Girl’ by Kaaron Warren; Australia
  • ‘This Is Mung’ by Christine Emmett; South Africa
  • ‘The Flinchfield Dance’ by Mary Elizabeth Burroughs; Australia
  • ‘Shades of Blue’ by Catherine MacLeod; Canada
  • ‘Infected With Death’ by John Fagan; UK
  • ‘The Exchange’ by Eileen Chao; USA
  • ‘Under The Microscope’ by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt; USA
  • ‘See You Later’ by M. M. De Voe; USA
  • ‘Showtime’ by James Carroll; Australia
  • ‘Hounded’ by Christina Koh; UK
  • ‘Big Brother, Little Sister’ by Sam Fleming; UK
  • ‘Cuckoo’ by Lorraine Slater; UK
  • ‘Dreadless’ by Anna Rogala; UK
  • ‘Give Me More Eyes for Nakedness’ by Paul Synnott; UK

Honourable Mentions

Congratulations to all our winners for writing such memorable stories!

We’re saddened we couldn’t take more, which is why we listed seven honourable mentions. There were several other strong contenders we had to put aside with a great deal of regret.

We received a range of work from first-time writers through to seasoned professionals. Our final group represents a spectrum of experience as well as showcasing the variety of talent writing modern horror fiction.

Our feedback and analysis of the competition will appear in the June issue of Black Static, and afterwards we will publish it here.

This is the end

This is the end, my only friend, the endThe Campaign for Real Fear is closed to submissions.

Christopher Fowler and I would like to thank all the writers who sent us stories. In the past two days we’ve been inundated with entries.

We face a very difficult task, and we hope you will appreciate that we will need some time to read through all the submissions and give them our considered attention.

We will announce our short-list of ten stories as soon as possible, and at that point we will also offer statistics and feedback about the work we received.

Final Week

The Final DoorChris and I have been receiving a steady stream of submissions for the past two weeks, partly due to The Guardian article and our promotion of the competition at the two big conventions in the UK.

Remember, the deadline for submissions is this Friday, the 16th of April at 5pm GMT. Please read our FAQ for details on how to enter.

If you have a horrid tale desperate for expression, please write it and get it to us by Friday. We will not read any stories received after the deadline.

Again, I’d encourage people to think differently about horror, and what scares you.

The majority of the submissions have come from the UK and the USA, along with a smattering of entries from countries such as Finland, Germany, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. We’d love to see more work from international horror writers, so fire up your laptops!

It’s only 500 words. What’s the worst that can happen?

The Campaign in The Guardian

Today David Barnett wrote about The Campaign for Real Fear in The Guardian. Here’s a small chunk:

On her blog Splinister, McHugh has twice blown the whistle on instances of perceived bias: in September, she pointed out that a British Fantasy Society  book of interviews with horror writers contained no women. Last month, she highlighted the same issue with SFX magazine’s horror special. Both of those rows are well-documented and led to widespread internet debate (and, to be fair, apologies and explanations from the targets of her ire). Now, with Fowler’s support, McHugh seems to be focusing her energies on doing something positive about the situation. Setting out the Campaign for Real Fear’s manifesto on his blog, Fowler writes: “Our nascent horror movement is beginning to grow… We’re hoping to change the outmoded habits of the past, aiming for some positive discrimination leading to fresh new strands of writing that will benefit readers and publishers alike. The Campaign for Real Fear starts here.” Both Fowler and McHugh were at the World Horror Convention in Brighton at the weekend, spreading the word.

Despite the talk of positive discrimination, the Campaign does not aim to address the imbalance in the genre by putting together an all-female anthology; rather, the idea is about celebrating diversity. “What are the horror myths for the 21st century?” asks their mission statement. “Sure, we all love our werewolves and vampires, but where are the new monsters for our age? Where are the characters that reflect the diversity in our streets and neighbourhoods? What are the stories that tap into the terrors of modern life? We want to read them, in 500-word bites.”

Fowler has always been fascinated with “real fear” and his stories are littered with desolate tower-blocks, haunted council estates and nasty surprises in the fried chicken. On one of his early blog ruminations, which led to the launch of the Campaign for Real Fear, he recalled a truly terrifying anecdote that had not a supernatural entity in sight: “On the subject of diversity – and its lack – I was talking to a film director mate of mine who is making a film with a largely black cast, who was told ‘Well, you’ve just lost a third of the world’s sales.’ Now you start to see what we’re up against.”

Thanks to David for the terrific plug for the campaign.

We had a fantastic time at World Horror Convention in Brighton. The panel I moderated about Women in Horror was well attended despite being up against one of the Guest of Honour interviews, and we had an excellent discussion about the issues of diversity in horror.

We’ve also had a burst of submissions since the convention ended, which is brilliant. Keep the work coming in – what scares you about the world today?

Next up is Eastercon, the biggest SF convention in the UK, where I’ll be spreading word about the campaign.

On Friday at 4pm I’ll be in the Tetworth room moderating a panel on “SF – Taking Shows From TV to Audio”

The following day at 2pm I’ll be moderating a panel about “Writers and the Web – Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.” in the Connaught room.

Much later that day at 9pm in the Connaught room I’ll be moderating a panel on “Small Press Comics and Webcomics”.

If you have any questions about the Campaign you should be able to catch me after one of these panels, or have a look for me during the convention. I’ll be happy to answer any queries.

Campaign at World Horror

World Horror Convention 2010Both Chris and I will be attending the World Horror Convention 2010 in Brighton, which kicks off tomorrow.

Please feel free to speak to us during the convention about the Campaign for Real Fear. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Just don’t press scraps of wrinkled paper scrawled with 500-words of frightful fiction into our hands. Electronic submissions only.

If you’re wondering where you can catch us I suggest the bar is a good place to start! I’ll be in Brighton this afternoon, and Chris will be arriving early on Friday morning.

I’ll be moderating a panel on Saturday at noon, in the Russell Room, called Femme Fatales: How Can We Get More Women in Horror?, where I’ll be in the distinguished company of Ellen Datlow, Tanith Lee, Allyson Bird, Sarah Pinbourgh and Suzanne McLeod.

Chris will be moderating The ‘X’ Factor, on Friday at 10am in the Lounge, with Les Edwards, Bob Eggleton, Allen Koszowski, Kim Newman and John L Probert.

On Saturday at 3pm in the Russell Room, Chris is moderating a panel titled When is Horror Not Horror?, with Matt Curran,  Simon R Green, Jasper Kent, Nicholas Royle and Michael Marshall Smith.

Finally, Chris is discussing Teenage Nightmare: The Future of Young Adult Horror on Sunday at 1pm in the Russell Room with Ian Hunter, Tanith Lee, David Simms and  Dan Wells.

Early analysis

Since we’re a couple of weeks into the Campaign for Real Fear I thought it might be useful to look at the submissions breakdown so far by gender.

In the first week of the competition we received an almost 50/50 ratio of submissions from men and women. Chris and I were very pleased by this.

In the past week however, we’ve had more submissions by men and less by women.

Women: send more stories! Men: keep submitting!

The Campaign for Real Fear offers writers the chance to do something different. Take a risk, be inventive with your language, explore the fear of 21st century life, and tell us a story. It’s 500 words: what’s the worse that can happen?

Challenge yourself. Scare yourself – and us.

Everyone is welcome in the Campaign for Real Fear!

Read our FAQ, and email us your work, now.

Stoker Awards 2009

Stoker Award

Horror writer Lisa Morton has put together a very useful web page listing the nominees for the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards – the annual awards decided by the members of the Horror Writers Association to honour the best horror writing during the year.

If you’re wondering what horror fiction is currently getting attention it’s a good page to visit, especially since Lisa took the trouble to include photos of the nominees and their past publications/history.

The winners will be announced at the Stoker Banquet on Saturday, March 27 as part of this year’s World Horror Convention in Brighton.

Remember, keep the submissions for the Campaign for Real Fear rolling in! Before you know it the deadline of April 16th will be upon us.

Formatting tips

We’re only a couple of days into the Campaign for Real Fear and we’ve already received a number of strong contenders for the top ten positions. Keep the submissions coming!

Just a note on formatting. Thus far the submissions have been sticking to our required format as detailed in the FAQ: copy and paste the text of the story into the body of your email submission, and indicate italics _like this_ and bold *in this fashion*. Thank you all!

Smart quotes = failExcept… a reminder that most word processing software use smart quotes (curly quotes) as the default option. They also use special characters to indicate ellipses and em dashes. So, when you copy those characters into an email, and they are sent to us via your email programm, they can turn up in our inbox as text with strange characters in them. It doesn’t render the story incomprehensible, but it makes it much harder to read.

The solution is to go into your word processor options (it’s usually under AutoCorrect) and disable the feature that exchanges straight quotes for smart quotes, renders a double hyphen as an em dash, and replaces three full stops with an ellipsis. These flourishes might look good on the page, but special characters are the bane of anyone who has to deal with copying and pasting text.

Most writers would be well advised to stop using these features. The first thing I do when I have to reinstall a word processor program is uncheck those functions.

You’ll certainly make our life easier if you could avoid sending us those hidden typographic mines.