How I Spent December 2021


This month I finished off a number of blogging engagements, the biggest being my coverage of the Hugo Awards, and it’s left me with a new chunk of free time. So, as 2022 slouches towards Bethlehem, I’ve got my eye firmly on future projects. And aside from finishing off my essay collection A Long Year’s Dreaming, I’ve decided to focus on fiction. Getting accepted into L is for Lycans was my last success for this year — so what will next year bring?

After a bit of a dry spell, I currently have three short stories in early stages of development (it’s amazing what a story acceptance cna do for your motivation). i’ve also dug up my WIP novel, and plan to have another chapter done tomorrw. Meanwhile, I’m raising money for the third issue of Midnight Widows. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make some juicy announcements soon…

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for January and beyond:


December 2021: A Month in Horror

Granted, the month saw a number of notable horror releases. The ranks of Christmas-themed horror films were joined by Silent Night and The Advent Calendar; a selection of Joe Hill’s short fiction was collected as The Black Phone Stories; and thanks to Mark Gatiss, the BBC continued its off-and-on tradition of festive ghost stories with an adaptation of M. R. James’ “The Mezzotint”. All of this, however, was inevitably overshadowed by one occurrence: the passing of Anne Rice.

Anne Rice’s 1976 novel Interview with a Vampire is one of the few works that can be truly termed genre-defining. The book reinvented vampire literature, and its influence soon became inescapable: even vampire authors deliberately avoiding Rice’s shadow are, in their own way, impacted by her work. Of course, Rice wrote many sequels to her novel — but much of the vampire fiction after 1976 can be termed a large, amorphous sequel to Interview with a Vampire. The horror world lost one of its true icons this month.

Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 26

Chaptee 62 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf opens with the poorly Francisco being given a goblet containing the “medicament of Christian Rosencrux”, which does a good job of improving his health. He feels better still when Fernand Wagner turns up to inform him that his beloved Flora shall soon be rescued. The mood around the city, however, is generally less bright:

It was verging toward the hour of sunset, the 2d of October, when a rumor of a most alarming nature circulated with the celerity of wild-fire through the city of Florence. At first the report was received with contemptuous incredulity; but by degrees—as circumstances tended to confirm it—as affrighted peasants came flying into the town from their country homes, bearing the dread tidings, the degenerate and voluptuous Florentines gave way to all the terrors which, in such cases, were too well adapted to fill the hearts of an emasculated people with dismay.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 26″

2021: A Year in (Offensive) Pictures

It’s an annual tradition at my blog to end each year with a month-by-month round-up of images that, for various reasons, prompted offense (see the posts for 2020, 2019 and 2018). You’re free to draw your own conclusions about these images: in all likelihood some of the objections will strike you as absurd, while others you will find entirely justifiable. Either way, the politics of offensiveness always provide ample food for discussion…

Continue reading “2021: A Year in (Offensive) Pictures”

Christmas Past: Richard Polwhele and a Necromantic Trump

PolwheleMy final festive clipping of the year coems from a 1798 edition of the European Magazine and London Review. This runs a poem by Richard Polwhele, which describes a Christmas celebtation held at Andarton Hall…

In the gay circle of convivial cheer,
Blithe Christmas came which chaplets never fear,
How beam’d delight, in every eye, unblam’d,
When at the hallow’d eve for carols fam’d,
The greenwood towering o’er the heapy turves,
Frist fum’d and stacked in elastic curves,
When brightly blaz’d the sap-besprinkled ash,
And listening holly danc’d with many a flash,
And, every bularfire design’d to mock,
Repos’d in sombroud state the Christmas-stock.
Alas! uprooted in the tempest’s roar,
And hewn in sunder to its hallow core;
Andearton’s oldest oak the flame attacks–
For ages yet it ‘scap’d the firest-axe!
Rais’d high amid the turf, the kindled sprays,
It bids awhile defiance to the blaze;
And, though it redden deep, preserves is claim
Twelve days and twelve long nights to feed the flame

Continue reading “Christmas Past: Richard Polwhele and a Necromantic Trump”

“Body, Remember” by Nicasio Andres Reed (2021 Ignyte Awards)

“Body, Remember” can be read online at Fireside Magazine.

Archaeologist Jun Meyers is staying in Italy to examine the ruins of a city buried Pompeii-like beneath a layer of volcanic debris. Jun is, in more than one way, a misfit. He struggles with Italian, despite having been in the country for three years; he also has trouble getting on with his colleagues, who find some of his attitudes towards his chosen discipline to be unorthodox:

Jun’s desire for modern urban amenities is the source of some disdain from his colleagues. He’s heard Liz warning the newest intern not to engage him on his grand theory of history: that these things are the point of their work, that the present is the point of the past. That the people whose bones they treasure so selfishly would mean less were it not for the things that separate us from them. That it isn’t the ancient in itself that is sublime, but rather the act of wiping the dust of the ancient from your hands, walking into a halogen-lit 24-hour 7-11 for an energy drink, and later ridding yourself of it down a flush toilet.

Continue reading ““Body, Remember” by Nicasio Andres Reed (2021 Ignyte Awards)”

Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 25

Chapter 61 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf opens with Demetrius carrying out the scheems arranged by Wagner’s lover, Nisida. He sends hsi Ottoman allies into the lair of the brigands, where they throttle Antonio and his bandits with bowstrings: “Thus perished the wretch Antonio — one of those trecherous, malignant and avaricious Italians who bring dishonor on their noble nation”. In the process, they rescue Nisida’s brother Francisco; he is unaware of the fact that his lover Flora is also a target of Nisida’s scheming.

Francisco then accompanies the Ottomans on a scuffle with anotehr group of bandits, personally slaying Lomellino (as the novel reaches its end, the author appears eager to clear out excess members of the cast list). This job done, Francisco is finally reunited with Nisida — who, shortly afterwards, puts on male clothes and dashes off into the shadows. “Whither was the lady Nisida now hurrying through the dark streets of Florence?” asks the not-quite-omniscient narrator.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 25″

Christmas Past: The Mummers’ Decline

Today’s festive clipping comes from an 1859 volume entitled The Christmas Book: Christmas in the Olden Time, its Customs and their Origin. Here, the book outlines the once-traditional mumming play, in which Father Christmas presides over a battle between St. George and the Turkish Knight. There are many other descriptions of this stock play available, of course, but this one is notable in that it includes first-hand accounts of specific performances and documents an apparent decline in mummery over the first half of the nineteenth century.

In Hampshire, the following was called a Christmas play, within our recollection, and in boyhood’s hour of wonder it afforded us pleasure, which will never be forgotten. There was a party of eight, dressed most fantastically, in all colors and fashions, but first came venerable old Father Christmas, who cried aloud–

“Room, room, all you leave brave gallants give room,
I’ve come with my sports to drive away gloom,
To help pass away this cold winter day;
And such sports as never before were seen
Unto all you gallants shall now be shewn.”

This was the prologue, and when delivered the speaker retired, but only for an instant, for he soon returned to say,

“Here comes I, old father Christmas, welcome or welcome not,
I hope old father Christmas will never be forgot,
All in this room there shall now be shewn
The hardest battle that ever was known,
o come in Sir Knight, with thy great heart,
And in the battle quick do thou thy part.

The book goes on to describe the entry of the Turkish Knight along with the other stock characters and summarising the remainder of the play, before concluding:

In many parts of England a play of this kind is still exhibited by the boys who go about to the public-houses and farms, knocking at doors, asking, Are the mummers wanted? where, however, they do not meet the welcome of old. The last party we saw was in the North of England, about ten years back. The Turkish Knight had a pot-lid for his shield, and Sr. George was armed with the rustiest old iron sword eyes ever beheld. It was some ruined actor’s ruined property. It was a clear case of spirit-walking, for only the ghost of an ancient custom could have looked so terrible woe-begone and miserable as did that company of Christmas players.