Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Another frickin' year - 2021 in review

So, here we are again, after twelve more months hunkering in the bunker while waves of plague, insanity, hate and plain economy-size stupidity swept back and forth across the globe (to say nothing of the stuff Cate and I were going through closer to home.) And by the look of it, with the arrival of the Omicron variant, it ain't over yet. Here's hoping 2022 is better - or at least, that we get through it in one piece. 

I often find myself looking at this video by Idris Elba around the end of a year. I genuinely find it inspirational, because it has two important lessons: stay out of your own head, and keep going. Don't keep second-guessing yourself over taking risks as an artist or comparing yourselves to others' results and techniques; don't keep obsessing over where you are, how close to your goal.

Just do the work. Show up. Get your head down. Whatever works best for you, however it works: do it, and keep doing it. Don't give up.

Over the last couple of years, I've done my best to take Elba's advice to heart, and while I haven't conquered the world, it has paid dividends. Some of those, hopefully, you're going to hear more about in 2022. Some of them I can share with you today.

I had multiple false starts in terms of writing a new novel throughout this year. A lot of it was not being able to get out of my own head and trust my writing instincts. I turned to shorter forms for a big chunk of 2021 instead, and completed two novellas - including a follow-up to Roth-Steyr - and a bunch of stories.

I finally managed to get a novel going in September, and - touch wood - I'm close to the end. I hoping I'll be able to complete it within the next couple of days, so I can say I managed to write on in 2021.

So this year's creative output has been:

17 short stories,

11 pieces of verse,

5 flash fictions,

2 novellas,

And hopefully a novel!

On the acceptance front, one novel, a novella, a short story collection, and eleven individual stories. Plus some other cool news I can't announce yet.

As for actual publications in 2021:


Black Mountain (Independent Legions Publishing) 


A Different Kind Of Light (Black Shuck Books)

Devils Of London (Hersham Horror Books)

Story Collection:

Nine Ghosts (Black Shuck Books)

Short Fiction:

'In The City In The Smog' (Horrified Magazine)

'In the Service of the Queen' (Horrified Magazine, reprinted from Patreon)

'And You Heard The Rattling Death Train' (Railroad Tales, Midnight Street Press)

'The Hungry Dark' (Out of the Darkness, Unsung)

'Redwater' (Alchemy Press Book of Horrors 3: A Miscellany of Monsters, Alchemy Press)

'Tonight the War is Over' (Nine Ghosts, Black Shuck Books, original to collection)

'The Cage' (Nine Ghosts, Black Shuck Books, original to collection)

Work published on Patreon:

Short Fiction:


We Pray

Bone Street Blues

The Harvest Of Efriam Drazer

Beneath The Crust (Written for and read out on The Tiny Bookcase podcast) 

Flash Fiction:

A Bottle Of Ink

Osaka Jones


The Mayan Ships



Go Get It, Girl

The Book Of Angels

Below Decks On The Morro Castle

The Book Of Nightmares


The Whispered Song Of Anton Probst

The Call


Goliath’s Song

Steel City Blues

The Ghost School

Grandmother’s Footsteps

Stalin’s Gun: The Daze Of Vasili Blokhin

The Andragathius Doctrine

I Don’t Wear A Poppy Anymore

Jarman’s Ghost

On top of that, two of my short stories were reprinted in mass market anthologies: 'A Treat For Your Last Day' in Best Horror of the Year #13, and 'Welcome To Mengele's' in Body Shocks. Huge thanks to Ellen Datlow on both counts.

So, all the best the coming year to all of you.

And here's that Idris Elba video to finish off with. He's a lot better-looking than me. :)

Saturday 20 November 2021

Things of the Past Week: Body Shocks, Best Horror of the Year #13 and the return of Black Mountain

'Mynydd Du will rise again,' I promised my blog readers all the way back in 2016, when I withdrew Black Mountain from Spectral Press. And, at last, it has.

But more of that anon.

Last week saw the release of Body Shocks, Ellen Datlow's anthology of body horror fiction, in which my story 'Welcome To Mengele's' appeared alongside fiction by Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire, Nathan Ballingrud, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Tananarive Due, Carmen Maria Machado, Priya Sharma, Cassandra Khaw, Brian Evenson, Cody Goodfellow, R.C. Matheson, Christopher Fowler, Terry Dowling, Ray Cluley, Livia Llewellyn, Alyssa Wong, Lisa L. Hannett, Tom Johnstone, Michael Blumlein, Angela Slatter, Edward Bryant, Pat Cadigan, Kij Johnson, Lucy Taylor, Genevieve Valentine, Kaaron Warren and Kirstyn McDermott, along with cover art and design by the brilliant John Coulthart.  

'Welcome to Mengele's' was written in 1998, when I was twenty-four years old. The story is now almost as old as I was when I wrote it. One of those realisations that makes you stop in your tracks for a moment.

The reviews for Body Shocks have been great so far: 

"Brings outstanding narratives about pain and transformation together to offer a great introduc­tion to a subgenre that’s here to stay." (Locus)

Body Shocks "delivers... epically on its promise to deliver 'extreme tales of body horror'," says Sadie Hartmann in her review for Tor Nightfire, and adds of 'Welcome to Mengele's':

"You are not ready for this story. Nobody is ready for this story. It’s best to just walk in blind and let Bestwick blindside your sensibilities in the best possible way."

"The definitive body horror tome," says Horror Obsessive. "Long live the new flesh."

And Publisher's Weekly concludes their starred review of the anthology with: "Simon Bestwick’s bizarre alternate history “Welcome to Mengele’s” takes readers into a Nazi doctor’s movie theater where patrons watch their sickest fantasies play out on screen. These wholly original and truly chilling tales are not for the faint of heart.

This week saw the release of another Datlow anthology, the thirteenth in her annual Best Horror of the Year series, which includes my tale 'A Treat For Your Last Day'. It marks my fifth appearance in the series. It also boasts an outstanding cover by Reiko Murakami.

Finally, as promised, we return to Black Mountain.

The original eleven-part ebook serial has been revamped into a single-volume edition from the superb Italian imprint Independent Legions Publishing, charting the eerie and unexplained happenings of the 'Bala Triangle', centring on the mysterious crag known as Mynydd Du, or Black Mountain. Those who probe its mysteries too far often come to grief - including, perhaps, the readers of the book...

"I had to put the kindle down at one point, so effective - and downright scary - was the imagery being presented," said Dark Musings of the original serial. The new edition is available both in ebook and in print from Amazon.

I'm hugely grateful to Alessandro Manzetti of Independent Legions for giving Black Mountain a new lease of life. Alessandro's work, incidentally, also grace the pages of Best Horror of the Year #13, in the form of his poem 'Bloody Rhapsody'. Thanks also to Karen Runge, who edited the new version for publication.

I hope you'll want to visit. If you're undecided, here's a taste of what to expect. As well as the stunning new cover art by JumalaSika Limited, it also features some of Neil Williams' artwork from the original series. I'm enormously grateful to both of these artists for helping bring my work to life.

Now settle back and watch the trailer...



Friday 17 September 2021

News from Castle Bestwick (17th September 2021): Out Of The Darkness, The Alchemy Book Of Horrors 3, Devils Of London, ParSec Magazine

It's been an eventful week or two, while Cate recovers from one round of chemo while preparing for the next (and final) one... for the AUTHOR COPIES have begun to arrive!

Last week, two arrived in one day: The Alchemy Book Of Horrors 3: A Miscellany Of Monsters, including my story 'Redwater' alongside tales by the likes of Marion Pitman and Adrian Cole, Garry Kilworth and Steve Rasnic Tem, John Llewellyn Probert and Ralph Robert Moore. Plus this gorgeous cover art from Daniele Serra. Many thanks to Pete Coleborn and Jan Edwards for giving 'Redwater' a home.

Also arriving was the hardback of Out Of The Darkness, Unsung Press' anthology on the theme of mental illness. Edited by the steady hand of Dan Coxon, all royalties and fees from this anthology will be donated to the mental health charity Together For Mental Wellbeing.

And yesterday three author copies of Devils Of London appeared, complete with Neil Williams' cover art. Huge thanks to Neil, and to Peter Mark May at Hersham Horror for publishing the novella.

And just to round off the week, today brought the welcome news of another story acceptance: 'Are We Going Under?' will grace the pages of a future issue of ParSec magazine. It's one of a cycle of stories I'm writing about a strange little place called Bone Street: another one is 'And You Heard The Rattling Death Train' in Midnight Street's Railroad Tales. For a taste of what awaits you, check out the free story 'Bone Street Blues' over on Patreon. More thanks are due, this time to Ian Whates, for the acceptance.

That makes a total of eleven short story acceptances this year. In that respect (if not in many others) 2021 hasn't been bad.

So, now for the weekend. Time to relax and unwind. Maybe... (gestures subtly at the above paragraphs) with a good book. Why not?

Be well, and I'll see you soon.



Thursday 29 July 2021

The News From Castle Bestwick (30th July 2021): Railroad Tales, Nemesis Of Wire and Black Mountain

Cate started her chemotherapy this week, which made for a scary time at first; we were both worried what side-effects the treatment might have, but so far (touch wood) they've been few and mild. She's feeling a lot better about the treatment than she did (she's been in better mental health than me all week, in fact.)

Railroad Tales, which includes my story 'And You Heard The Rattling Death Train,' is out now from Midnight Street and available on Amazon.   

Here's the full table of contents:


AWAYDAYS  Allen Ashley



THE NUMBER NINE  James E. Coplin

GHOST-WALKER  Andrew Darlington

SPARROW'S FLIGHT  Nancy Brewka-Clark


GEISTERBAHNHOF  Saoirse Ni Chiaragáin


ACROSS THE VALE  Catherine Pugh


THE NIBBLER  Gayle Fidler






CABOOSE  Andrew Hook

THE TRACKS  Michael Gore




This week also brought another story acceptance, from Phantasmagoria magazine, for my story 'Nemesis Of Wire.' (The title's something of a homage to Algernon Blackwood.) That will be published later this year.

The reissue of Black Mountain from Independent Legions (which I'm still over the moon about!) is slated for September. More information on this, and a reveal of the new cover art, in the near future.

Have a good weekend, everybody, and thanks, as ever, to everyone for their kindness and support.

Simon x  

Friday 23 July 2021

Tiny Bookcases and Black Mountains

Just a quick post with the latest news from Castle Bestwick:

Firstly, Part Two of my interview at The Tiny Bookcase is now up, and you can amuse yourselves listening to further witterings from me, including my attempt at a Northern Irish accent, favourite quotes about writing, and what little advice I can give to those just starting out. (Because I'm such a great advert for being enormously successful.)

Secondly, I'm delighted to announce that my novel Black Mountain has found a new home!

Black Mountain was first published as an ebook serial by Spectral Press in 2014. It's been unavailable for several years, but Mynydd Du, the strange and terrible mountain at the centre of the Bala Triangle, will finally rise again in a new revised edition from Italy's Independent Legions Publishing. It's been a long road, but I'm over the moon.

The new edition will be published in both print and ebook form, which will be the first time the novel has appeared in print.

Immense gratitude to Independent Legions' Alessandro Manzetti.

More news to follow soon. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday 16 July 2021

Latest News from Castle Bestwick: Post-op treatments, Devils Of London Cover Reveal and The Tiny Bookcase Podcast...

Many thanks to all the wonderful people - both before the last blogpost and since - to send messages of support to Cate. She's now almost completely recovered from her surgery. This week we've found out about the post-op treatment: four chemotherapy sessions, followed by radiotherapy and then brachiotherapy. We'd initially expected the treatment would only involve radiotherapy, or as an outside possibly chemo instead. It does mean it's going to be more physically gruelling than originally hoped, which among other things has meant we've had to cancelled our planned holiday in October. Fortunately the venue, where we've stayed before, has very kindly returned our deposit. 

Cate was more than a little shaken by the news - we both were - but with any luck, at least, it'll make sure that any traces of the cancer will be destroyed and things will be back to (ab)normal sooner rather than later.

In other news, and on a happier note, the ebook of Devils Of London, my upcoming novella from Hersham Horror, is now available for pre-order, courtesy of that fine gentleman Mr Peter Mark May. Which means Neil Williams' fantastic cover art can now at last be revealed! As you can probably guess from the cover, Devils Of London is a far less gentle tale than my last two novellas, Roth-Steyr and A Different Kind Of Light.

"Devils wear many faces.

Britain, in the not too distant future. A new Great Fire Of London breaks out, engulfing the city. Amid the terror and confusion, people look for someone to blame. John is one of a group of undocumented workers, living in a derelict part of the city, who find themselves being scapegoated for the disaster.

Being chased through the burning streets by the vicious ‘yellow-scarves’ is bad enough. But when they pass a burning church, a terrifying figure bursts out of the building. Something ancient and monstrous, free at last after centuries of sleep. And for John and the others, the question may now be which of London’s monsters – human or demonic – gets to claim their souls…"

Devils Of London will be published on 24th September.

Meanwhile, I did an interview earlier this month for The Tiny Bookcase Podcast and its hilarious hosts Ben and Nico. You can hear me talk bollocks - including the phrase 'Ash Bukkake' - at length here. In addition, each of us wrote a short piece of prose inspired by the title 'Under The Crust,' all with different and entertaining results. You can listen to me read my contribution on the podcast, or if you'd rather read it you can do so over on my Patreon.

Nico also creates a cartoon drawing of each guest, and I rather like the one he's done of me. It's got more hair for a start... 

Anyway, that's the state of play at Castle Bestwick for now. See you again soon, and take care. Thanks, once more, to everyone who's sent kind words or other messages or gestures of support to us. 

Friday 2 July 2021

Hello Again: The Latest News From Castle Bestwick

Hi everybody,

Well, it's been a while, and for good reason. As some of you will know - those who follow me on Facebook - Cate underwent surgery earlier this month, having been diagnosed with womb cancer in April. Luckily it was diagnosed at an early stage, and Cate's recovering well, I'm glad to say. I'm squeezing in bits of writing (including this) in between the demands of my new life as her personal butler. There are worse fates. :) 

Many thanks to all the friends and family who sent kind messages of support, advice, hugs, or books over the past few difficult months. We're hoping the worst is past. 

On a brighter note, I've been able to carry on not only writing but submitting, and June's seen a total of three story acceptances.

The first one is for James Aquilone's Classic Monsters Unleashed, in which my story 'Mummy Calls' will appear alongside works by Ramsey Campbell, Mercedes M. Yardley, F. Paul Wilson, Joe R. Lansdale, Seanan McGuire, Lucy A. Snyder, Richard Christian Matheson, Lisa Morton, Monique Snyman, Owl Goingback, Gary A. Braunbeck, Rena Mason, John Palisano, Maurice Broaddus, Linda Addison, Tim Waggoner, Jonathan Maberry, Alessandro Manzetti, Dacre Stoker & Leverett Butts, and more.

The list of authors above was announced before the call for unsolicited submissions, which will take up about 25% of the anthology, so there was a lot of competition for those slots. I'm enormously proud to have made the cut.

Classic Monsters Unleashed, featuring new riffs and takes on archetypal horrors such as Dracula, The Wolfman, Dr Moreau, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde and M.R. James' Count Magnus, will be released by Crystal Lake Publishing in October.   

Secondly, my story 'And You Heard The Rattling Death Train' will see publication in Trevor Denyer's anthology Railroad Tales, out from Midnight Street Press later this month. It's one of an ongoing series of stories set on Bone Street, a strange inner city street that doesn't appear on any city's map. For a taste of the place, check out 'Bone Street Blues,' which is currently free over on my Patreon. The anthology also features stories by Gary Couzens, Allen Ashley, Caitlin Marceau, Susan York and many more.

My third acceptance is for Phantasmagoria, one of those rare and wonderful beasts, a regular, non-themed horror magazine and edited by the steady hand of Trevor Kennedy. Phantasmagoria is already 18 issues strong, and my story 'Night Closures' will feature in either issue 19 or 20.

And finally, I'm delighted to announce that After Sundown, Mark Morris' horror anthology for Flame Tree Press, in which my story 'We All Come Home' appeared, has been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award.

Going back to the stories, though, I wanted to say a few words about acceptance and rejection, because they - or rather one of them, rejection - is a problem for all writers. And I mean all. Literally the day before the first of these acceptances, I had four rejections in one twenty-four period. (Ouch.) When I mentioned this on Facebook, another writer said something along the lines of (humblebrag alert) "What chance do the rest of us have, when someone like you gets rejected?"

While it's always an ego boost to realise that certain people think you're Somebody (if only because you've been around for so long,) but the plain fact is that for most of us there's never a point at which you stop getting rejections, unless you're someone like Neil Gaiman or Stephen King. (Ramsey Campbell, who's  been getting published since before I was born and has won more awards for horror fiction than any other living, dead or undead writer, popped up in the same comments to announce "We all still get them!")

To put it in perspective: with 'Night Closures,' I've had eight short fiction acceptances this year. I've not been as good at keeping track of the rejections, but the other day I attempted a rough tally. Counting the one I got this morning, I make it nineteen. So that's an acceptance rate of slightly worse than one in three.

Editors have, usually, a pretty clear idea of what they want and what they don't. A rejection, or even several, don't necessary mean that a story isn't any good. Classic Monsters Unleashed had something like 600 submissions; Maxim Jakubowski's Femmes Fatales anthology about 175. In both cases, the odds against being one of the lucky few to be selected seem very high, but somebody has to be one of them. By the same token, another market I subbed to had around 70 submissions - much lower odds - but I didn't get in. It's partly quality, and it's partly how well whatever you've written matches what the editor wants. Or how similar to something they've already accepted - that can get a perfectly good story bounced as well.

Keeping your work out on submission is key - when it comes back to you, send it somewhere else. Most of the stories I've written this year have been for specific anthology calls: that, like it or not, seems to be where most of the opportunities for publication are right now when it comes to short horror fiction. There are regular general horror fiction markets (like Phantasmagoria above), but not as many as we'd all like. 

Some markets pay professional rates that'll net you a couple of hundred pounds for a story (give or take.) Others will give you a fiver. In some cases, you'll just get a contributor copy or the satisfaction of seeing your work in print - or alternatively you could self-publish the story on Patreon or as an ebook or sock it into that collection you're trying to put together. 

My own feeling - having held too many stories back in search of a higher-paying market so that they just languish on my hard drive - is the story is better off out there in the world where people can read it. The more work you have out there to be read - which will hopefully encourage people to read more of your stuff - the better. The story of mine that'll be appearing in Best Horror of the Year #13 got multiply rejected, and was finally published on my Patreon. 

So, here's the approach that's been working for me so far this year. It may stop working at any moment, as conditions change again. It may not work for you. On the other hand, it might. Either way, if you're trying to work out how to get your work out there, this might be of help:

Since themed anthologies seem to be currently where it's at, keeping abreast of upcoming ones is key. I keep a spreadsheet of submission calls, broken down by the month the deadline expires, including information like word count, specifics of what they're looking for, and what (if anything) they pay. Keep additional sheets to list general open markets (i.e. magazines that are open all year round), publications that accept reprints, and those currently closed to subs (you can check them every couple of weeks to a month to see if they've reopened.)

A few resources:  

General paying horror fiction markets include The Dark, Apex Magazine, F&SF, Phantasmagoria and The Deadlands. For other stuff:

The Submission Grinder and The Horror Tree are both excellent and giving an overview of who's looking for fiction in this area. Another great resource is this Facebook page here. In addition, the superb Gwendolyn Kiste (Read her! Read her!) does a monthly round-up of open submission calls on her blog, while Hailey Piper regularly signal boosts calls via her Twitter (and you might also want to subscribe to her mailing list. Also, read her novella The Worm And His Kings - it's magnificent.)   

I'm going to try and start following their example and update the blog regularly with any info on markets that comes my way. So if you know of a good one - an open call, a new magazine - don't keep it to yourself. Let me know and I'll share it here. 

Because if there is one thing I've learned over the last couple of months, it's how much kindness and community there is in horror. And how the more we help each other out, share information and support one another, the better off we'll all be.  

ETA: It's now 20 rejections (I think.) Just had another one. :) 

Monday 17 May 2021

Things Of The Past Few Weeks

It's been... eventful since I last blogged. Not all of it is stuff I can talk about publicly right now, and not all of it's good. Things should be okay in the long run, but there have been some tough times.

However, there've also been some good things, so I wanted to talk about those here.

First of all, there've been more reviews for A Different Kind Of Light, and they've been excellent ones. At The Future Fire, Rachel Verkade says:

I loved this book. I read it in the space of a couple of hours because I literally could not put it down. The story is compelling and moves at a swift and natural pace, the characters are compelling, and the descriptions of the disaster are haunting. It is a thematic cousin to stories like Revival and Hell House, stories about our fascination with death and our questions about what lies beyond… and whether we really want those questions to be answered. 

While over on Horrified, Ally Wilkes describes the novella as:

A delightfully short and scary little book... makes for compulsive reading. I found myself extremely creeped out as the daylight slipped away and the shadows on the hallway stairs became more prominent.... genuinely dread-inducing.

Many thanks to both reviewers!

I've been focusing on short fiction over the past couple of months, and one of the markets I submitted to was Maxim Jakubowski's Book Of Femmes Fatales And Dangerous Women Stories. I didn't think I stood a chance, but was delighted to learn yesterday that my story 'Bait' has been chosen for the anthology - one of 18 stories out of 170 submissions, which is pretty cool! Also sharing the TOC are Eric Brown, Susi Holliday, Keith Brooke, Joseph S. Walker, Robert Lopresti, Michael A.Gonzales, Lavie Tidhar, Rhys Hughes, Ali Seay, Ashley Lister, Bernie Crosthwaite, Rose Biggin, O'Neil De Noux, Bev Vincent, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Claude Lalumiere and Ana Teresa Pereira.

Some of these are writers I've read or worked with before, while others are new to me, but I look forward to appearing in print with them.

So those are the latest developments. I'll try and blog again soon.

One last request before I go: if you've read my work and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review (even a few words will do) or rating at Amazon for any works you've liked. The more reviews it gets, the more visible it becomes to other customers, and the wider an audience it reaches.

Friday 2 April 2021

Things Of The Week 2nd April 2021: Best Horror Of The Year #13, Nine Ghosts Launch Video, Out Of The Darkness, Body Shocks Advance Review

So, two nights ago I got an email from Ellen Datlow, about a short story of mine called 'A Treat For Your Last Day,' letting me know she wanted to publish it in The Best Horror of the Year #13.

Anything like that is always great news, but this was particularly great for two reasons: firstly because it'll mark the first time I've appeared in Best Horror of the Year for two years running - it only seems like last week that I received my contributor's copy of Best Horror of the Year #12, the incredibly cool Reiko Murakami of which is pictured on the left - and secondly because 'A Treat For Your Last Day' was first published on my Patreon page.

I've had a Patreon account for a couple of years now, and my biggest challenge has been making it both something I can sustain and something that's worth looking at. I'll talk a bit more about my Patreon in another post some time. For now, I'll just say that I post new work there every fortnight and that you can read it for as little as a dollar a month. So there we go. 

In other news, the Kickstarter for Unsung Stories' Out Of The Darkness anthology still has five days to run, although it's already massively outstripped its original target of £2500. I'm one of a host of authors - including Laura Mauro, Aliya Whiteley, Georgina Bruce, Gary Budden, Tim Major - who've contributed horror and dark fantasy fiction inspired by the theme of mental illness. All author fees and royalties will be donated to Together For Mental Wellbeing.

Having hit its first stretch target of £5000, the anthology will now include an additional story by Malcolm Devlin; if it hits its second stretch target of £7000, a further story by Gareth E. Rees will be added to the table of contents. The total amount pledged currently stands at £6840, so things are looking pretty healthy there.

Ginger Nuts Of Horror has been hosting a series of articles in which the anthology's contributors talk about their own inspirations and experiences. Contributors Aliya Whiteley, Tim Major and Anna Vaught disucss their stories here; Alison Moore, Verity Holloway and Eugen Bacon talk about theirs here, and you can find Sam Thompson, Richard V Hirst and myself on our own contributions here

The first advance review of another Ellen Datlow anthology, Body Shocks - which includes my story 'Welcome To Mengele's' - is now up at HellNotes, and seems to be a rave. Hopefully the first of many for this book. 

Finally, Nine Ghosts, my new mini-collection from Black Shuck Books, was released on March 25th, and March 26th saw a live-streamed launch via YouTube

See! A fat beardy man wittering on!  

Hear! The two lucky winners of free copies of the book!

And tremble! At readings of two of the stories from the collection, 'The Cage' and 'Dab and Sole.'

If you missed (or if you didn't, and for some insane reason actually want to put yourself through that again,) here it is.

Have a good weekend, folks.


Monday 22 March 2021

Nine Ghosts

I have a new mini-collection coming out from Black Shuck Books.

It's called Nine Ghosts.

There are nine stories.

There are nine ghosts.

Two of the stories have never been published before.

Two others have only appeared on my Patreton.

You can find more details here.

I meant to do a live launch on Facebook, as I did for A Different Kind Of Light. Unfortunately Facebook has currently blocked me from livestreaming. I have no idea why.

Luckily I can livestream through my YouTube channel. So that's what I'll be doing at 7.00 pm GMT on Friday 26th March.

There'll be a live reading, a Q&A and a chance to win a couple of copies.

So be there or be square.

The nine ghosts await you. 

(PS: I've invited as many people to the event via Facebook as I can, but I was only able to send a limited number of invites. So do please spread the word if you possibly can, or if you know anyone you think might enjoy this.)

Friday 12 March 2021

Things of the Week 12th March 2021: Breaking the Hundred, Redwater, Contributor Copies and Out of the Darkness

I've had an up-and-down couple of weeks in mental health terms, which hasn't been much fun, but I've managed to keep writing throughout, although at times it's been a case of grinding it out. Nonetheless, stuff has got done, and stuff has happened.

The last novel I completed in first draft, Tatterskin, was finished on 24th November. Since then I've been trying to complete the next novel. I've started two and ended up having to lay both aside as I ran into blocks and problems. Hopefully I'll be able to go back to them, figure out where I was going wrong and pick up the thread again at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, though, the new book is coming along. I have no idea what it's about, or if it's any good, but I'm doing my best not to think about that and just write the next right thing in the story. I recently broke the hundred-page mark, which always feels like a milestone. But I've got that far before with at least one of the projects I've laid aside by now, so I'm trying not to be overconfident. So, we'll see.

I'm taking a break from the novel in any case, for a couple of weeks, as there a couple of short stories I want to get written. With any luck, it'll still be there when I get back.

Other news: well, I'm delighted to say that my story 'Redwater' has been accepted for The Alchemy Press Book Of Horrors 3: A Miscellany Of Monsters. More information on this anthology when I have it.   

Also, I was delighted to receive my contributor's copy of The Best Horror Of The Year #12, which includes my story 'Below' from Terror Tales of North West England. Many thanks to Ellen Datlow, and to Jason Katzman at Skyhorse Publishing. It's got stories from amazing writers like Catriona Ward, Joe Lansdale, Laura 'Bricklauncher' Mauro and Gemma Files (with 'The Puppet Motel', which also appears in her storming collection In That Endlessness, Our End.) Along eith many more. I've only savoured a couple of the stories so far, but I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Finally, I'm glad to finially be able to announce my involvement in Out Of The Darkness, edited by the most excellent Dan Coxon and published by Unsung Stories. In one way or another, all the stories in the anthology tackle themes of mental health, and are written by authors with experience of those issues. One additional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive spike in mental health problems: all author fees and royalties will be donated to Together For Mental Wellbeing.  

I've never made any secret of my own experiences with anxiety and depression, so I was proud to be asked to contribute. My story 'The Hungry Dark' will appear alongside contributions by authors including Laura Mauro, Nicholas Royle, Tim Major, Aliya Whiteley and many more. 

The anthology has already met its initial Kickstarter goals, but it's now chasing new targets, hoping to add more authors to the anthology. If you'd like to support Out Of The Darkness, you can still contribute to the Kickstarter here

You can read more here, at Ginger Nuts Of Horror, where Dan talks about the background to the anthology.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Simon x.

Monday 1 March 2021

Things Of The Last Week Or So 2nd March 2021: Lots of stuff!

Normally, I try to list the various things (hopefully nice ones) that the week has had in store, but this week-and-a-bit (various things popped up on Friday and over the weekend that stopped me blogging earlier) has actually been pretty packed, and in the best of ways.

So here's the latest.

The launch party for A Different Kind Of Light ran into a few technical hitches, and in the end it ended up just being me reading and presenting (big thanks to Laura Mauro and Keris McDonald, who were to have read on the night), but ended up being a great laugh and getting a few people to rush out and buy a copy. It's the closest thing I've come to hanging out with many of my friends on the horror scene in a very long time, so that was great as well.

The first reviews for A Different Kind Of Light have also appeared. Over at Marc's Books, Marc Francis sums it up with "Well worth spending your hard-earned cash on," which is, after all, what every writer wants to hear people say! And at Ginger Nuts Of Horror, Tony Jones' verdict is: "A terrific novella which sits nicely amongst the best work Simon Bestwick has written and Black Shuck have published. Outstanding and highly recommended."  

You can buy A Different Kind Of Light here

In other news, Nine Ghosts, my upcoming mini-collection (from Black Shuck Books, again, because they rock!), originally slated for an October release, will in fact be out later this month. I have some proofs to check this week. More details to follow.

Way back when I was starting out as a writer in the late 1990s, I published a number of stories with a great little magazine called Nasty Piece Of Work, edited by the wonderful David A. Green. David was open to stories that were both gruesome or extreme on the one hand, and cerebral and intelligent on the other. I did some of my best work from that period of my career for Nasty, some of which might not only never have found a home without it, but never have been conceived.

One such story was Welcome To Mengele's, a story about a brothel where you can make your sexual fantasies - whatever they are - a reality... for a price. It was reprinted in my second collection, Pictures Of The Dark, but has been out of print for a long time. I'm delighted to announce it'll be appearing in Ellen Datlow's upcoming body horror anthology Body Shocks, alongside stories by Ray Cluley, Gemma Files, Livia Llewellyn, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Priya Sharma, Tananarive Due, Tom Johnstone and many, many more wonderful authors. Hugely proud to be included.

Paula Guran, editor of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy And Horror, has published her recommended reading list from the first volume online, and I get name-checked twice, for the title novella from my collection And Cannot Come Again and for my Terror Tales Of North West England story 'Below', which went on to be reprinted in The Best Horror Of The Year #12. Cate is also listed for her Terror Tales Of North West England story 'The Mute Swan.'

Finally, I'm over the moon to announce that my novella Devils Of London has found a home at Hersham Horror, courtesy of that excellent gentleman Peter Mark May, and should be out later this year. All being well, quite a bit of my stuff should be seeing print...

So that's what's been going down, anyway.

Hope you're all well, and see you soon. Keep safe.


Friday 26 February 2021

New Gemma Files Collection: In That Endlessness, Our End

Gemma Files is an amazing writer.

If you know anything about horror, you should already know this.

If you didn't know, then now you do.

She has a new collection out. 

It will be very good. 

Because it's by Gemma Files.

You can buy it here.

And you should.

So now you know. 



Heard the one about the Airbnb that eats your dreams, or the iron-crowned king who preys on his own bloodline from the air, still smoldering centuries after being burnt alive? How about the cloudy antique bottle you can wish your excess rage inside, or that crooked alley down which something waits to replace your disappointing child with a far more pleasant facsimile? We all know the truth, especially in times like these—in an anxiety-ridden, sleepless world such as ours, it’s only ever our very worst dreams that come true.

Here streets empty out and people pull themselves apart like amoebas, breeding murderous doppelgangers from their own flesh; houses haunt, ideas possess and a cold and alien moon stares down, whispering that it’s time to spawn. New myths rise and ancient evils descend. From the seemingly mundane terrors of a city just like yours to all the most dark and distant places of a truly terrible universe, nothing is as it seems…not even that dimly-recalled cinematic memory you’ve been chasing all these years, the one you think might be just something you stumbled upon while flipping through channels after midnight. The one that still disturbs you enough to raise a cold sweat all over your body, whenever you try to will its details clear.

Hot on the heels of her This Is Horror Award-winning short story collection Spectral Evidence, critically horror author Gemma Files compiles fifteen more of her most startling recent nightmares—a creepily seductive downward spiral of dark poetry and existential dread, entirely suitable to the slow apocalypse going on all around us. So take your mind off your troubles and send it somewhere the rules still operate, if only to punish those who violate them.

Table of Contents

This is How It Goes


The Puppet Motel

Come Closer

Cut Frame

Sleep Hygiene

Always After Three

Thin Cold Hands


Look Up

The Church in the Mountains

Distant Dark Places

Worm Moon



Wednesday 24 February 2021

Guest Blog by Ashley Lister - The Cursed Blog Tour: Day Three

Ashley Lister is a prolific author of fiction, having written more than fifty full length novels and over a hundred short stories. Aside from regularly blogging about poetry and writing in general, Ashley also teaches creative writing, language and literature in Lancashire, England.

(This is part of the blog tour to promote Ashley's latest release, Cursed. Now read on...) 

I’d like to begin by thanking Simon for letting me visit here today and share this. This is an extract from my latest novella, Cursed. Cursed is the third in an ongoing series of novellas, all loosely related by the location in which they’re set, Innsmouth, and it’s going to be released on March 1st, 2021. This chapter occurs halfway through the story.

Innsmouth University's Explorers Club meet once a month to share stories of the supernatural. They meet in empty houses, abandoned buildings and derelict churches. They meet in the dead of night. They tell stories of the impossible, the unbelievable and the most terrible. And now, it appears, their meetings have been cursed.

There were shadows at the base of the clocktower. At this time on a winter’s evening, with the first of the ten o’clock chimes ringing out through Innsmouth’s empty town centre, shadows were not unexpected. But, for anyone paying close attention, anyone watching the dark shapes that came and went of their own volition, the shadows would have seemed darker around the base of the clocktower on this occasion.

Derek Brown, lost in his own thoughts as he took Horatio on his evening constitutional, had not noticed the shadows. It was a cold night and, not for the first time, the threat of rain made him wish to Christ his wife’s French Bulldog would hurry up and do its business so he could get back home. Horatio was not the brightest dog he’d ever encountered and this nightly walk was always made tiresomely protracted because Horatio needed to sniff every lamppost, piddle at least three hundred times, and take one shit that was slightly larger than the turds that Derek could produce. On top of that, with Horatio being a chunky little bastard, who waddled more than he walked, the nightly constitutional took forever.

Is this what my life’s come to?” he wondered, glaring down at the dog.

Horatio had paused to take his last shit of the day and it was never a pleasant experience to watch. With his bulging eyes, which always seemed to bulge further when he was straining to squeeze one out, Horatio reminded Derek of his wife. The idea that a pet could look like its owner was never truer than when Horatio was standing on a street corner with his fat arse trembling, his eyes bulging like chapel hat pegs and an expression of stupid surprise on his tubby face as though he didn’t know what was happening. Derek had often thought it was like having his wife with him on the walk, except with less inane chatter and slightly more outdoor defecating. He repeatedly told himself he’d take a picture of this moment when it occurred so that he could post it on FaceBook, alongside a picture of her, and ask his friends to spot the difference.

And this evening, to his surprise, Horatio was providing him with the perfect moment. It was almost as though the fat, simple dog had decided to pose for the shot.

Derek snatched the mobile from his jacket pocket and opened the camera app. It was set on selfies when the screen opened and he found his own pudgy, gammon-coloured features being displayed on the screen. Recoiling only a little, he pressed the button to turn the camera around and found himself staring down at Horatio as the dog stared up at him.

With the eyes bulging, the tongue lolling out over a double-chin, and a facial expression that looked like it had found three consecutive answers on a word search puzzle and was bursting to boast about the achievement, the shitting Horatio could have been his wife’s twin. Admittedly, one of them had a little more facial hair than the other, but Derek thought that was such a small distinction it was close to being negligible.

He snapped three pictures in short succession, chuckling softly to himself as he anticipated the repercussions of sharing this picture with friends. Horatio, clearly unimpressed with being photographed in the middle of a relatively private act, shied away from Derek. It was an abrupt lurch that caught Derek by surprise. One moment he was taking pictures of a shitting dog whilst holding its leash and chuckling to himself. The next moment the leash had been pulled from his hand, Horatio was waddling toward the clocktower, and Derek watched his phone, fall from his fingers and land on the freshly laid turd that Horatio had deposited.

Bloody hell,” Derek complained. “Horatio,” he called. “Come back here.”

He reached for his phone, picking it up gingerly between thumb and forefinger, and realised Horatio’s sticky turd had adhered to the screen. Derek sneered in disgust, sure the dog had done this deliberately and he scanned the empty street looking for his wife’s French Bulldog.

Horatio,” he called. “Where are you?”

Innsmouth seemed surprisingly quiet this evening. On the positive side, that meant there had been no one around to witness him dropping his phone on top of a warm and steaming dog turd. On the negative side, the silence unsettled him and there was no one around to tell him where his wife’s stupid dog had gone. A mist of drizzle hung in the air. The night seemed chillier than it should have been and, for the first time, he noticed that quite a few streetlamps seemed to have stopped working. The night was darker than it had any right to be and the subsequent shiver that tickled down his spine had nothing to do with Innsmouth’s low temperature.

Ashley writes:

This story is built on my fascination with the way people share their personal ghost stories. To celebrate this fact, on Monday March 1st, I’ll be hosting an online book launch/virtual event where I (and some friends and fellow writers) will be sharing our own personal ghost stories. If you fancy joining us, either to share a ghost story or simply to listen, please drop me an email at and I’ll happily send you an invite.

And, to find out what happens in the remainder of this novella, you can pre-order a copy of Cursed on Amazon.

You can also buy the previous novellas in the series, Unearthed and Fearless