How I Spent April 2022


I’ve just got back from a trip to visit a friend and I’m a bit worn out, but suffice to say that the two big developments for me this month are my involvement with Doctor Who: Redacted and Survivors: Crusade, both of which I’m finally allowed to talk about. Beyond those, well, I’ve been trucking on as normal…

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for May and beyond:

May21 (1)

April 2022: A Month in Horror

It was quite a month. Robert Eggers’ The Northman put the legend behind the story of Hamlet on screen, full of blood and thunder. Meanwhile, the finalists for the 2022 Hugo Awards were announced, a few horror-relevant candidates among them — including Bitter Karella, creator of the Midnight Society, who is up for Best Fan Writer.

Elsewhere, Gretchen Felker-Martin’s novel Manhunt made international news because, like many other works of post-apocalyptic fiction, it included the death of a celebrity (in this case, J. K. Rowling) as part of its narrative. The Daily Mail headline “Woke NPR is blasted over gushing review for controversial transgender author’s violent horror novel which depicts JK Rowling being burned alive at her home” was typical of the garbled outrage.

In less amusing news, two high-profile Dracula films — Karyn Kusama’s Mina Harker and Robert Eggers’ Nosferatuwere both scrapped. Speaking of troubled movies, Shudder released the second series of Cursed Films, covering Rosemary’s Baby, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Stalker and The Wizard of Oz.

Continue reading “April 2022: A Month in Horror”

Werewolf Wednesday: “Running Wolf” by Algernon Blackwood (1920)

CenturyAug1920Hotel Clerk Malcolm Hyde visits the Canadian backwoods on holiday and heads to Medicine Lake in the hopes of catching some fish (“You’ll have it to yourself except for an old Indian who’s got a shack there” says Morton of the Montreal Sporting Club). He arrives there, and finds it as beautiful as he had been led to believe:

The lake formed a crescent, perhaps four miles long, its width between a mile and half a mile. The slanting gold of sunset flooded it. No wind stirred its crystal surface. Here it had lain since the redskin’s god first made it: here it would lie until he dried it up again. Towering spruce and hemlock trooped to its very edge, majestic cedars leaned down as if to drink, crimson sumachs shone in fiery patches, and maples gleamed orange and red beyond belief. The air was like wine, with the silence of a dream.

Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: “Running Wolf” by Algernon Blackwood (1920)”

A Long Year’s Dreaming: April Progress Report


I’m doing my best to finish off my book A Long Year’s Dreaming: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in 2020 despite having a good deal of writing on my plate between the Hugos, the Splatterpunk Awards and my German vampire literature column at WWAC. Looking at the list below, the length of the WIP portion is a little alarming — but the good news is that I’ve already made pretty good progress on most of them. I hope to have two finished by the end of the month, for a start.

Continue readingA Long Year’s Dreaming: April Progress Report”

“One Hand in the Coffin” by Justin C. Key (2021 Ignyte Awards)

“One Hand in the Coffin” can be read online at Strange Horizons.

Corey, sharing a ninth birthday with his twin sister Alisha, makes a wish as he blows out the candles: he wishes for his dead brother Michael to be back. With Michael gone, he has had nobody to defend him from bullies, as even his best friend Patrick fails to stick up for him. The party concludes with Corey taking his therapy puppet – procured by his doctor, who “made him talk about Michael and bathtubs and redness” while operating the doll – and using it to put on an impromptu puppet show:

The puppet turned to the audience. “Hey, Fat-trick, get off the phone. McDonald’s doesn’t deliver.” The crackling stopped. “Your friends are making you soft, Corey.”
“Michael,” Corey whispered. The puppet looked at him. “I’m telling Mom.”
“Tell her and I’ll shave Alisha’s hair off. And you’ll watch, you weak little shit.”
“Awww,” the carrotcake-stuffing, name-calling kid said. “He said a bad word! Ma! Corey said a bad word!”
The Carrotcake Kid ran around the corner towards the roaring grown-up laughter. His tattletale wails soon drifted up and over. Mom said something Corey couldn’t make out. Patrick was already to the front door. Corey swallowed. His tongue tickled the roof of his mouth. He rubbed his puppet-bound fingers together. His scalp itched. Someone’s watch kept ticking. In between breaths, Corey’s stomach thrummed with the beat of his heart.

Continue reading ““One Hand in the Coffin” by Justin C. Key (2021 Ignyte Awards)”

Harry Potter Not Part of Jubilee List; Somehow this is a Transgender Issue


Well, another molehill has been made into mountainous terrain for the culture war. This time the topic of controversy is the BBC Arts/Reading Agency Big Jubilee Read, a list of 70 novels from across the Queen’s 70-year-reign, collated with the help of librarians across the UK. The problem? Nothing by J. K. Rowling made the list — and somehow, this is the fault of transgender people.

“JK Rowling excluded from Platinum Jubilee list of great reads in wake of great transgender row” runs the Telegraph headline; “Harry Potter author, who has been ‘cancelled’ over her views, misses out on inclusion in Big Jubilee Read.” GB News has a virtually identical headline: “JK Rowling excluded from Platinum Jubilee reading list as trans debate rages on”, with the subheading “The Harry Potter author has previously been criticised for her views on trans”. The Telegraph also ran an opinion piece by Allison Pearson, who — as well as moaning about the list for being “deeply unpatriotic” — condemned the “disgraceful, cowardly omission of JK Rowling”. A Twitter user called “ripx4nutmeg” — whose tweet made it into Graham Lineham’s Substack — sneered that “[l]ess successful authors who have publicly said they believe in transgender ideology were included in the list”.

But are Rowling’s views on transgender people really responsible for her omission? Having looked at the list myself, I’m far from convinced.

Continue reading “Harry Potter Not Part of Jubilee List; Somehow this is a Transgender Issue”

Werewolf Wednesday: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1870)

Werewolf Wednesday will be a little short this week, as I have deadlines pending, but nonetheless interesting — to me, at least. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable has an entry for werewolves mentioning a number of unusual variations on werewolf lore that have either been forgotten (like the ability to transform into a goat) or else mutated (the reference to blessed bullets is likely an ancestor to the more familiar silver bullet of today). The author’s suggestion that the French for werewolf, loup-garou, is etymologically connected to the Old English “orc” is new to me. has a scanned copy of what is purportedly the original 1870 edition of the book — the volume itself is undated, but a thoughtful librarian has written “1870” in pencil near the start — and it appears that the entry was penned for this edition. The entry is as follows:

Werwolf or Were-Wolf (French, loup-garou). A bogie who roams about devouring infants, sometimes under the form of a wolf followed by dogs, sometimes as a white dog, sometimes as a black goat, and occasionally in an invisible form. Its skin is bullet-proof, unless the bullet has been blessed in a chapel dedicated to St. Hubert. This superstition was once common to almost all Europe, and still lingers in Brittany, Limousin, and Auvergne. In the fifteenth century a council of theologians, convoked by the emperor Sigismund, gravely decided that the loup-garou was a reality. It is somewhat curious that we say a “bug-bear,” and the French a “bug-wolf.” (“Wer-Wolf” is Anglo-Saxon wer, a man, and wolf–a man in the semblance of a wolf. “Garou” is either wer-ou or war-ou, as in “warlock;” ou is probably a corruption of orc, an ogre.)

Ovid tells the story of Lycaon, king of Arcadia, turned into a wolf, because he tested the divinity of Jupiter by serving up to him a “hash of human flesh.”

Herodotus describes the Neuri as sorcerers, who had the power of assuming once a year the shape of wolves.

Pliny relates that one of the family of Antaeus was chosen annually, by lot, to be transformed into a wolf, in which shape he continued for nine years.

St. Patrick, we are told, converted Vereticus king of Wales into a wolf.

Novel Announcement! Survivors: Crusade

SurvivorsCrusadeFirst it was Doctor Who; then The Omega Factor; and now I’ve pinched another slice of vintage British telefantasy by writing a novel based on Survivors, Terry Nation’s venerable post-apocalyptic vision from the seventies.

It’s called Survivors: Crusade and it’s currently available to pre-order from Big Finish prior to its release in May. I’m honoured to say that this audiobook-only release is narrated by Carolyn Seymour — Abby Grant from the television series. The novel takes place in the continuity of the original television series, rather than that of Big Finish’s audio dramas.

Here’s the official press release from Big Finish:

Carolyn Seymour, famed for playing Survivors heroine Abby Grant on TV and audio since 1975, narrates this eerie post-apocalyptic tale following a community of survivors of a global plague.

This five-hour epic picks up after the intense TV episode, Law and Order, in which a wrongful execution transpired. The survivors are still reeling when a group of religious fanatics arrive, triggering a clash between perceived sinners and would-be saints.

Survivors: Crusade, written by Doris V Sutherland, is now available to pre-order as a digital download for just £9.99, exclusively here.

The survivors are usually prepared to welcome strangers into their community. But when members of a dangerous sect turn up in a double-decker bus on a crusade, a tense power struggle with a cunning new opponent result in murder and betrayal. 

Will Abby be forced to leave her friends and everything they have built in their community? Or can the residents of the Grange discover the importance of their own faith in each other? 

NOTE: Survivors contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.

Producer Peter Anghelides said: “Writer Doris V Sutherland is no stranger to Big Finish, and regular listeners will know her work from our Doctor WhoBernice Summerfield, and Omega Factor ranges. So, I am delighted that she has written for Survivors, with this audiobook script that brings new danger right into the heart of the Grange.”

Doris V Sutherland added: “It was a true pleasure to write a new story for Abby, Greg, Jenny and the other characters from Survivors, and I’m particularly honoured to have Carolyn Seymour — Abby herself — reading Crusade. The fact that I was given the opportunity at all shows that Terry Nation‘s series still holds appeal for viewers (and listeners) nearly 45 years since it ended. My main hope is that I was able to recapture the feel of Survivors and stay true to the characters, while also telling a new story with a new set of challenges for this post-apocalyptic world.”