This week saw the publication of the charity horror anthology, Diabolica Britannica. Available as an ebook only, it has been written by a group of British authors to raise funds for the NHS. Amongst these writers are Tim Lebbon and Adam Nevill and the master himself, Ramsey Campbell has created a thoughtful analysis of British horror as well as providing a commentary on each story.
There are 14 stories in its pages veering from gothic to ghostly to splatter, and in my case, folk horror. I have read them all, and I may be biased, but I regard it as a pretty strong showing. Check out the book trailer to get the flavour of the book!
My own story, We Plough the Fields and Scatter, takes place in a fictional part of rural England, an area isolated by its link to a world of monstrous creatures who live just beyond the veil. Rarely seen, they infiltrate this land, forcing the inhabitants to abide by their rituals and customs in honour of Mother Nature. When they do choose to return, the results are usually horrific – especially when Tommy, Betty and Fiddler get together.
The village of Reaper’s Hill, featured in the story in this anthology, is part of the Hub, the Wheel – or the Weald. It crops up too, as one of the villages hosting a night of ritual during The Five Turns of the Wheel. The latter sequence of events are described in full in my novel of the same name, which is to be published in October by Silver Shamrock Publishing.
Tommy, one of those monstrous figures who reappears from time-to-time, pops up in Diabolica Britannica whilst in The Five Turns he is actually the Master of Ceremonies, leading them on through each bloody sacrifice. In The Five Turns, Reaper’s Hill is the site of the Third Turn, where as he says, ‘The Third Turn is the Wheel that flies. When the Crone rides the night and old bones are crumbled. The Dance claims us all.”
In this statement lies the seed of the idea from which my folk horror stories grew. The Dance was a short story published a few years back in an anthology, Horror in Bloom. Tommy, Betty and Fiddler were there although other characters had different names. The horror behind The Dance, evolved from this rapper sword dance:
If you want Morris with more attitude (and fewer bells) then watch Border Morris troupes. It’s imagery like this that birthed Tommy.
It is not a world you would want to live in but it’s great fun to write about!