Author and Scriptwriter

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

Saturday 31 December 2022

'22 in Review

Phew. Well that was quite a year.

A fair bit happened, just for me personally (I'm not even going to try to summarise the year's political upheavals or all the cool people we lost.) It went something like this:

I got an agent (properly speaking, I signed with the Ki Agency last year, but couldn't officially announce it, for Reasons, till well into this year.) I'm still with Ki and looking forward to more excitement in 2023, but now represented by agency founder Meg Davis, as Anne Perry has moved on to become the new commissioning editor at Jo Fletcher Books. Anne has been an absolute star and I hope we get to work together again in the future.

I had a novel published under a new pen name, to excellent reviews and pretty good sales. 

I wrote two complete novels in 2022, and am partway through a third. That took up the bulk of my time and energy work-wise this year, but I also managed to place three stories with publications due out in 2023: 'Are We Going Under?' will appear in ParSec Magazine, 'Kingbreaker' in Shakespeare Unleashed, and 'The Flight Of Ravens' in Unknown Superheroes Vs The Forces of Darkness

On top of all that, I started a podcastNo Darkness But Ours, with my friend and colleague Gemma Files, in which we discuss horror in all its forms. Topics so far have included snowbound horror, the work and legacy of M.R. James, and Folk Horror. We're currently in the middle of a discussion on Queer Horror, with more to come. You can check our work out here.  

Under my own byline, the following was published this year:

Short Fiction:

Nemesis of Wire (Phantasmagoria #20, ed. Trevor Kennedy)

Bait (Book of Extraordinary Femme Fatale Stories, ed. Maxim Jakubowski)

Mummy Calls (Classic Monsters Unleashed, ed. James Aquilone)

Work published on Patreon:

Short fiction:

This Life, This Death

The Night of the Dog-Headed Man

The Death of Norma Lake (fragment from early draft of Bonewalker)

Low Over Water

The One You Feed

Adaptive Evolution In The Lancashire Grindylow: A Report By Alexandra Thraves Ph.D

The Bactrian



Beacon 46-A

The Christmas Kiss

In addition, my story 'Redwater,' from The Alchemy Press Book Of Horrors 3: A Miscellany Of Monsters, was reprinted in Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror Of The Year #14, making three years in a row that my work's appeared there.

Thank you to all the editors who've published me this year, to Anne and Meg, to Gemma for her support on the podcast, and to all readers and listeners who've supported my work by reading or listening to it.

Finally, and most of all, to my lovely wife, Cate, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Good luck for 2023.

Simon x


Thursday 7 July 2022

Boris the Fridge-Hider (2022 version)

I first wrote this before the 2019 election. Here's a slightly updated version:

Look who's scurrying across the floor
Blond and hairy, has no balls
In the polls he was ahead
Now he's hanging by a thread
Boris the fridge-hider
Boris the fridge-hider
He can tell nothing but lies
Has no issue with Russian bribes
Reporters cause him indigestion
(They might ask an awkward question)
Boris the fridge-hider
Boris the fridge-hider
Creepy Tory, Creepy Tory,
Creepy Creepy Tory Tory Creepy Creepy Tory Tory
Creepy Creepy Tory Tory Creepy Creepy Tory Tory
Screws anything that's in a skirt
(And anyone who trusts his word)
Bellowing: "Get Brexit Done!"
Then hides away 'mid the gammon
Boris the fridge-hider
Boris the fridge-hider
Now all of his tricks are gone
Yet somehow he still clings on
Drag him out of Number 10
Bring him to a sticky end
Boris the fridge-hider
Boris the fridge-hider


Friday 1 April 2022

I have an agent!

As promised in my last post, more exciting news:

I'm now represented by the brilliant Anne C. Perry at the Ki Agency.

I couldn't be happier. Anne is a lovely person and - better still - incredibly good at her job, as well as being a pleasure to work with.

There will be more news soon.

Thursday 31 March 2022

A Conversation with Ramsey Campbell, and a new review of Black Mountain at Horrified!

Over at Horrified Magazine, Ally Wilkes reviews Black Mountain, rating it as: 

"Unquestionably a must-read. It felt like diving into the best and most compulsive creepypasta, or the weird world of Missing 411 and disappearances in the wilderness: full of questionable narrators, conflicting explanations, and the unspooling realisation that whatever haunts the Bala Triangle has been doing so at least as far back as recorded history. 

...A propulsive narrative and a compulsive read... Bestwick is to be applauded for creating a pitch-perfect creepypasta in book form, full of unsettling incidents and genuinely scary scenes of folk – and cosmic – terror."

Along the way, there are comparisons to Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves, Matt Weselowski's Six Stories novels, and (deep breath) ARTHUR MACHEN

That's Arthur Machen, as in The White People, and The Great God Pan.

I could not be more delighted.

In other news, Tuesday saw the paperback launch of The Way of the Worm, the stunning conclusion to Ramsey Campbell's trilogy The Three Births of Daoloth. Ramsey's a marvellous raconteur, with a wealth of insights and anecdotes; he needs very little encouragement to share them, but somebody had to provide that, and it turned out to be me!

The event was held at Blackwell's Bookshop in Liverpool, and was followed up by a very nice (and very large) Chinese meal at Mr Chili's, a brilliant Sichuan restaurant that you really should pay a visit to if you're ever in town. Phil, the excellent store manager at Blackwell's (ably assisted by James Lefebure) livestreamed the event to Facebook, and you can watch it here if you're so inclined.

More exciting news soon!

Tuesday 15 March 2022

'Redwater' to be reprinted in Best Horror of the Year #14

I'm delighted to announce that my story 'Redwater,' which appeared in The Alchemy Press Book Of Horrors 3: A Miscellany Of Monsters last year, is to be reprinted in the 14th volume of Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year. It leads off a line-up of brilliant authors, including some of my favourite contemporary horror writers. Volume 14 promises to be a dark and scary treat.

That table of contents in full:

Redwater -- Simon Bestwick
Caker’s Man -- Matthew Holness
Black Leg -- Glen Hirshberg
The Offering -- Michael Marshall Smith
Fox Girl -- Lee Murray
Shuck -- G. V. Anderson
The Hunt at Rotherdam -- A. C. Wise
Dancing Sober in the Dust -- Steve Toase
The God Bag -- Christopher Golden
The Strathantine Imps -- Steve Duffy
The Quizmasters -- Gerard McKeown
All Those Lost Days -- Brian Evenson
“Elephant Subjected to the Predations of a Mentalist” – Dir. B.S. Stockton, 1921
And “Ol’ Will’s Birthday Bash and Dither Family Reunion” – Dir. Various, 1952.
-- Jonathan Raab
Three Sisters Bog -- Eóin Murphy
The Steering Wheel Club -- Kaaron Warren
The King of Stones -- Simon Strantzas
Stolen Property -- Sarah Lamparelli
Shards -- Ian Rogers
Chit Chit -- Steve Toase
Poor Butcher-Bird -- Gemma Files
Trap -- Carly Holmes
I’ll Be Gone By Then -- Eric LaRocca
Jack-in-the-Box -- Robin Furth
Tiptoe -- Laird Barron

With 'Below' appearing in Volume 12 and 'A Treat For Your Last Day' in Volume #13, 'Redwater' marks three consecutive appearances for yours truly in Best Horror of the Year - a hat trick! I am, as I said above, absolutely delighted.

A lot of alterations were made to the original MS of 'Redwater', not all of which I was able to correct in time for publication; Ellen has very kindly allowed me to rectify them all for the reprint, and so Best Horror of the Year will be publishing my preferred version of the text.

Monday 7 March 2022

An Evening with Ramsey Campbell (with burblings from Bestwick)

The paperback of Ramsey Campbell's novel The Way of the Worm will be launched this month at Blackwell's Bookshop in Liverpool. I'll be interviewing the big man (or burbling meaninglessly; anyway, I'll be there), so why not come along? Tickets are available here
The time: Tuesday 29th March, 2022, 6.00 - 7.30pm.
The place: Blackwell's Bookshop, Peach Street, Liverpool, L3 5UH

"Join us on the 29th March when the legendary Horror writer Ramsey Campbell will be in conversation with Simon Bestwick
About the Author:
Ramsey Campbell is an English horror fiction writer, editor and critic who has been writing for well over fifty years. Three of his novels have been filmed.
In 2021 appreciation of his collected works, The Washington Post said, " taken together, they constitute one of the monumental accomplishments of popular fiction". Three of his novels have been filmed.
Since he first came to prominence in the mid-1960s, critics have cited Campbell as one of the leading writers in his field: T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today", and Robert Hadji has described him as "perhaps the finest living exponent of the British weird fiction tradition", while S. T. Joshi stated, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."

About the book:
Book 3 in the Three Births of Daoloth trilogy.The present day, or something very like it. Dominic Sheldrake has retired from lecturing and lives on his own. His son Toby is married with a small daughter. The occultist Noble family are more active than ever. Their cult now openly operates as the Church of the Eternal Three, and has spread worldwide. The local branch occupies the top floors of Starview Tower, a Liverpool waterfront skyscraper. To Dominic's dismay, Toby and his wife Claudine are deeply involved in it, and he suspects they are involving their small daughter Macy too.
Dominic lets his son persuade him to attend a meeting of the church, where he encounters all three generations of the Nobles. Although Christian Noble is almost a century old, he's more vigorous than ever - inhumanly so. The family takes turns to preach an apocalyptic sermon that hints at dark secrets masked by the Bible and at the future that lies in wait. In a bid to investigate further Dominic undergoes the rite the church offers its members, which confers the ability to travel psychically through time. Before he's able to flee back to the present he has a vision of the monstrous fate that's in store for the world.

Dominic discovers a secret he's sure the Nobles won't want to be made public. Although he has retired from the police, Jim helps him establish the truth, and Roberta publishes it on her online blog. It's the subject of a court case, the results of which seem to defeat the Nobles, only for them to return in a dreadfully transformed shape. Now Dominic and his friends are at their mercy, and is there anywhere in the world to hide? Even if they manage somehow to deal with the Nobles, there may be no escaping or preventing the alien apocalypse that all the events of the trilogy have been bringing ever closer..."  
In keeping with the Lovecraftian theme, I only learned today that there's an Iron Maiden song inspired by Ramsey's story 'The Inhabitant of the Lake.' I'm just listening to it now - so why don't you as well?


Saturday 26 February 2022

Ukraine, and what you can do

As you'll all know, Russian forces began an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, in a blatant act of military aggression by Dobby Vladimir Putin. (That's the only joke I'll be making in this post, so enjoy it.)

The Ukrainian military - and people - are putting up the kind of resistance that can only be described as awe-inspiring. Grandmothers give sunflower seeds (the national flower of Ukraine) to Russian soldiers, telling them to put them in their pockets so that sunflowers will at least grow when they die. A young soldier, Vitaly Skakun Volodymyrovych, sacrificed himself to blow up a vital bridge and delay the approach of Russian tanks. The tiny garrison of Snake Island in the Black Sea died to the last man rather than surrender to a Russian warship (and actually turned up the volume on their loudspeakers to make their last words - "Russian warship, go f**k yourself!'" as loud and clear as possible.)

War is vile, and brings out the worst qualities of humanity. Sometimes, though, it also shows some of the best - courage, self-sacrifice, endurance and compassion. But acts of self-sacrifice, such as Volodymyrovych's and the Snake Island garrison's, shouldn't be necessary. 

How will this end? I have no idea. In the meantime, I've been trying to find out what I can do as an individual to support Ukraine? It hardly needs saying that sticking a Ukrainian flag on your Facebook profile pic isn't going to help anyone in concrete terms. 

I don't know about you, but as well as being a complete physical coward I'm also something of a physical wreck, and wouldn't be much use to any army except as a sandbag. So here are some options:

The Red Cross have launched a crisis appeal, which you can donate to here.

Care International are providing emergency relief for their partner People In Need. You can donate here

SumOfUs are also taking donations for aid to Ukraine here.

For anyone who wants to involve themselves more directly, the Kyiv Independent has an article here on how to support the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Force as a foreigner, including enlistment. (This article is a month old and may be out of date, but if nothing else might at least shut up a few of the inevitable tedious bar-room commandoes who'll be spouting on about how they'd show the Russians a thing or two.) 

ETA: Unicef taking donations for children in Ukraine here.

International Rescue Committee donations here.

ETA: UNHCR taking donates to help refugees here.

ETA: Ukrainian feminist Olesia Sagaydak on how to help women in Ukraine.

ETA: Donate to UN Populations Fund to support women and girls impacted by the conflict here.

Countries neighbouring or close to Ukraine such as Poland and Estonia are waiving visa restrictions for Ukrainian nationals fleeing the war - including pet passports in Poland's case - as has the Irish government. The UK government has, (of course, being arseholes) done no such thing (although Boris Johnson did light 10 Downing Street up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag last night - words fail.) has a petition here to get them to waive restrictions as well.

ETA: Link to Support Ukraine Now, which details multiple ways for foreigners to support Ukraine, here

Please share this post as widely as possible. If you're aware of any other ways in which ordinary citizens in the UK can provide any form of concrete support to Ukraine, please let me know and I'll update this post - I want to make it as helpful a resource as I can.

Whatabouters and Putin-apologists will be told to get stuffed.

Monday 7 February 2022

2022 so far...

Well, the New Year is already no longer so new, rushing by at a rate of knots; we're already a week into the second month of it.

Various things are in motion at this end; I finished one novel on New Year's Eve and have a few last revisions to do, and am about 30,000 words into what will hopefully be a new one. 

The new issue of Phantasmagoria magazine is out, featuring my story 'Nemesis Of Wire' alongside new fiction by Caitlin Marceau, Evangelia Papanikou, Mike Chinn and many others. 'Nemesis Of Wire' is a Christmas-themed chiller (the issue was originally slated for December) set in a trench on the Western Front in World War One, where amid all the state-sanctioned slaughter, the legacy of one heinous act still lingers...

Reviews of Ellen Datlow's body horror anthology Body Shocks continue to appear, including
this one from Anthony Cardino, which concludes: "If I had to choose the most disturbing story in the anthology in terms of body transformation and trauma, it would be a three way tie between Simon Bestwick’s “Welcome to Mengele’s,” which involves bodily abuse of clones; Cody Goodfellow’s “Atwater,” which contains both the most disturbing birthing scene I’ve read and a scene reminiscent of the climax of the movie Akira which made me physically ill the first time I saw it on VHS; and Michael Blumlein’s “Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report.”

I still haven't settled down to read Body Shocks, believe it or not, but I'm looking forward to it, and I'm inordinately pleased that a story I wrote all the way back in 1998 is still disturbing the hell out of people.

Reviews of Devils of London have shown up thick and fast, with Linda Nagle raving over it at Ginger Nuts of Horror and more qualified, though generally positive, reviews from the Future Fire and Horrified. I suspect they're right that there maybe should have been more to this story than there was; maybe I need to return to the theme in a novel. Or maybe I'm just too quick to believe every criticism. Even if I am, though, I kind of like the idea of exploring the premise at greater depth and in greater detail...

Finally - and I've been meaning to blog about this all year! - I was delighted to find I'd made two people's 'top ten' list for 2021.

On Twitter, Ian Duff listed 'ten books I read for the first time in 2021 and really enjoyed', which were:

1) Last One At The Party - Bethany Clift
2) Roth-Steyr - Simon Bestwick
3) One Day All This Will Be Yours - Adrian Tchaikovsky
4) Never - Ken Follett
5) Tidepool - Nicole Willson
6) The End Of Men - Christina Sweeney-Baird
7) The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
8) Zero Day Code - John Birmingham
9) The Burning Girls - CJ Tudor
10) Nine Ghosts - Simon Bestwick

Making the list twice is brilliant enough, and even better when I'm sharing it with the likes of Margaret Atwood, CJ Tudor, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Ken Follett...

And last but far from least, Tony Jones published his Top Ten Reads of 2021 at Horror DNA, in which A Different Kind Of Light leads the list, alongside work by Adam Nevill, Ronald Malfi and Philip Fracassi:

"A Different Kind of Light is top-heavy with genuinely standout creepy scenes which leave a lasting impression once the final page is turned... Out of the blue Ash receives a message from Danie, an old university friend, who is seeking help in authenticating a piece of vintage sports film footage, which features the aftermath of the 1955 Le Mans Disaster. In this crash, the driver Pierre Levegh swerved into spectators, killing 84 and injuring 120 in the deadliest accident in motor racing history. The pair agree that there is no way this footage could have been faked and investigate further, buying the oddity on behalf of a third-party collector.

Building horror novels out of real historical events is a tricky business and A Different Kind of Light totally nails it. When Ash realises there is something very dodgy with the film, his research takes the story into unpredictable directions, with the balance of the developing supernatural storyline convincingly interconnected to the dynamics between the two main characters, and an enticing investigation into the origins of the film.This haunting novella will remain with you long after the killer ending."

All of which makes me a happy man, as we forge ahead into the uncharted waters of 2022.... 

Thursday 13 January 2022

A Different Kind Of Light and Roth-Steyr Relaunch!

Well I had a different first post planned for 2022, but I couldn't let this go by unannounced - Black Shuck Books are relaunching the first nine books in their Signature Novellas series!

The original editions all had the same basic cover design - just the title and the author's signature - but Steve at Black Shuck has decided it's time to give the novellas new, individual cover art...

A Different Kind Of Light is set in the not-too-distant future, in which freelance researcher Ashok Dhillon is called in to authenticate previously unseen film footage of the 1955 Le Mans Disaster. The footage is genuine enough, but eerie, spectral figures begin appearing on it, growing more visible on each viewing. When the spectres begin reaching out into the real world and claiming the lives of anyone who's seen the footage, Ash and his ex-lover Danie find themselves racing to discover the story behind the film, before they too, fall victim to the monstrous schakalgeier...

is the name of an early type of automatic pistol: it's also the murder weapon used to kill two men who've arrived one after the other in the mortuary where Valerie Varden works. Under other circumstances, it would just be an unusual cause of death, but Valerie knows both the victims. Now, as another 'long dark night of the European soul' looms, she has to confront the spectres of her own past in a tale that reaches back to the last days of World War One and the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire - before she, too, can falls prey to the mysterious killer with the Roth-Steyr...

The new editions of A Different Kind Of Light and Roth-Steyr will be out at the end of January. You can pre-order them, and the other re-launched Signature titles, here, or order all nine new editions at a special here.