This Is Horror Awards 2011

Spectral has had a spectacular first year and you out there can add to the rise of the imprint by voting for it in the inaugural This Is Horror Awards (This Is Horror was formerly known as Read Horror and See Horror – the two merged recently). Spectral Press has been nominated in two categories: Best Chapbook of the Year (for What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon and Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner) and also in Best Publisher. The poll, and instructions on how to vote, can be found here:

This Is Horror Awards 2011

And, while you’re there, why not vote for some of the other worthy stuff that’s been nominated – if you’ve read something this year that’s really floated your boat and it’s listed here, then let people know by adding your weight behind it by voting. Like people say, your favourite book/anthology/magazine can only win by getting the votes – and that extra vote might make the difference!

Voting ends tonight at midnight – SO GET VOTING AND SPREAD THE WORD!!

(Full disclosure: I write a column and articles for This is Horror and therefore I am NOT voting in this poll)

While you’re there, please also have a look at the exciting short story writing competition that Spectral is running in conjunction with the magazine – you can win some truly spectacular prizes, including a lifetime subscription to everything that Spectral publishes and also publication with your winning story in a future chapbook. To coin a phrase, you gotta be in it to win it!! Details here.


I would all like you to warmly welcome the latest addition to the chapbook line-up: Lisa L. Hannett. I’ll be publishing her beautifully bleak and spookily haunting story Smoke Billows, Soot Falls in 2014 (provisional), alongside fellow Australian wordsmith Angela Slatter. I can promise you, it’s a belter of a tale!

Season’s Greetings from Spectral!!

So, here we are yet again, at midwinter’s turn of the year, where light returns slowly but surely to lengthen the days and bring renewal to life in all its myriad glories. Or the season of drinking, eating and spending too much, depending on your point of view (although that won’t be happening at Spectral Towers this year – it’s going to be a nice, quiet and reflective one). It’s been a fabulous first year, exceeding all expectations, and next year is looking set to be even better – as I’ve hinted many a time, plans are being set in motion for the expansion of the imprint.

Spectral would like to wish all its customers, past, present and future, the very best that this Yule season brings and that peace and fulfillment will be yours in the year ahead!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and see you all in 2012!!

More news and more reviews


To start things off, here’s an update on what’s happening with the first release in the audio-CD series of Lovecraft readings accompanied by specially commissioned and composed music, released in conjunction with Temple ov Azathoth Records. The first double-CD will be released in March 2012 and will feature Lovecraft’s The Music of Erich Zann and Nyarlathotep. As to the modern writer whose story will be featured on the first disc, that honour will go to…


Joe’s story will be The Delirium of a Worm Wizard from his Sin & Ashes collection, published by Hippocampus Press of New York.  Final details have yet to be confirmed (such as pricing, packaging format, etc.,) but as soon as they’re available I’ll be passing them on. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing or reserving copies, then please let me know by emailing me, Simon Marshall-Jones, at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com.


To round proceedings off, here’s a four-in-one review of all the Spectral Press chapbooks published so far, from writer Alan Baxter and posted to his The Word website – to read what he thinks of them all, just click here. Spectral is indeed continuing to grow – and more reviews are expected soon! Onwards and upwards!!

Reviews and news

Don’t know about you, but it felt like Christmas had come early at Spectral Towers yesterday – TWO reviews of King Death and a write-up on Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall! So, without further ado, here they are:

King Death review number one is courtesy of David Hebblethwaite from his Follow the Thread blog. David notes especially one aspect of the story which I completely agree with and would love to see happen at some time – that Paul Finch’s tale begs to be read aloud. In common with quite a few other reviewers who have made similar observations, the rich cadences, poetry and power of his descriptive language immediately plunges the reader headlong into the picture of the medieval world Finch is painting and would lend itself readily to an atmospheric live reading. I sincerely hope that one day in the future this will indeed come to pass, maybe in some grand old hall or castle. The rest of the review can be read here and is the second one down the page.

Meanwhile, the second King Death review is one from a good friend and subscriber, Tim James, to which he gave 5 stars and posted to Goodreads. In this particular case I will quote the write-up in full here, with his permission:

“I feel slightly guilty in reviewing this chapbook when I have not reviewed the previous publications – even more so as I always intended to… 

Spectral Press is (at the moment) a small independent publishing company with a big heart and aspirations and seem to be making a solid impact on the scene, making it something to watch. 

Their output, for the moment, is limited to chapbooks – stories of about 20+ pages, all with a slightly spectral bent.

King Death is, as stated the fourth book released to date, it seems to be the least ghostly of the first four, but is (only just) my favourite. 

Set during the reign of King Edward III of England, it tells the tale of a single man, using the decimation of the plague to make his own selfish advantage. 

In such a short story there is limited room for character development, but Finch keeps the cast small, basically two characters, the main character Rodric a veteran of countless campaigns and a young boy he encounters on his travels. But it is not these two characters that so illuminated the chapbook for me, it was the description of the landscape, the plague ravaged country that really sold the book. 

There is a genuine feel of a land fallen into decay as people are viciously claimed by something that could only have been seen as the wrath of god. There is a sense of hopelessness and a constant darkness that evokes the feeling of a time that has to be seen as one of the darkest in Europe’s history.

That Finch manages to capture this in just 22 pages is a testament to his skill as a writer. 

The last line though, sells the whole thing, and just keeps it within the realms of Spectral Press’ remit.”

Thanks to Tim for taking the time and trouble to write up a review!

Next up then is a rather spiffing review of Nowhere Hall, this time from the virtual pen of Glynn James (no relation to Tim, by the way!) and posted to his personal website. It’s another great write-up of a wonderful (and wondrous) tale by an equally wonderful writer – and Glynn provides food for thought in his last paragraph. If you want to know what he says about it, then please click here.


Spectral is already thinking about the future, 2014 to be precise. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed two new additions to the publishing roster listed at the top right-hand corner of the home page – Rob Shearman and Angela Slatter. Both these fine writers are award-winning authors, and Spectral is very excited and pleased to be able to add them to the swelling ranks of great authors joining the imprint’s already fine roster. More details will follow in due course!

A little news…

Well, yesterday was something of a heady day for Spectral, as the imprint made it into a couple of year-end lists:

First off, Jim Mcleod of The Ginger Nuts of Horror blog put Spectral at #5 in his Top Reads of 2011 post, as well as placing the editor/publisher Simon Marshall-Jones in his Stalwarts of the Genre 2011 list. And, following on from that, pablocheesecake at The Eloquent Page gave an honorary mention to Spectral Press in the Publisher of the Year category in his 2011 – Year in Review piece.

This is just the icing on the cake for us here at Spectral Towers – a recognition that we are creating something worthwhile which people are responding positively to. It’s always a nerve-wracking time when you send something out into the world, unsure of what kind of reception it’s going to get. In the event, that reception was infinitely better than I could have hoped for, even in those wilder moments when my imagination took fevered flight.

BUT, this is just the start – we here at Spectral are intending to go even higher next year.  Novellas, a series of audio-CDs of music and Lovecraft tales (along with Lovecraftian stories from modern masters), the first in an annual series of Christmas Ghost Story anthologies and, of course, the chapbooks – it’s going to be a great year!! =D

The Crow’s Caw reviews King Death

As hinted at above, this latest review of Paul Finch’s Spectral chapbook comes from Jassen Bailey’s The Crow’s Caw book review blog. Mr. Bailey himself admits that neither medieval fiction nor movies based in the period are his cup of tea, so does it win him over or not? To find out, click the link here!

More soon!

King Death: the British Fantasy Society view

And so here’s the latest review of Paul Finch’s Spectral chapbook, from David Brzeski and posted to the British Fantasy Society’s website – but, in order to find out whether David gave it a YAY or NAY, you should click the link here.

More reviews expected soon! Onwards and upwards!

Skull Salad Reviews serve up a verdict on King Death

It’s a miserable Thursday morning outside Spectral Towers, and the wife has gone to an all-day works conference (and is incommunicado), so what better way to put a smile on my face than by posting another review of Paul Finch’s King Death, the latest volume in Spectral Press’ chapbook series. This one has been written by the Rabid Fox and appears on the Skull Salad Reviews site – but does the Fox like it or not? Find out here!

More reviews expected soon!

A Bookhound’s review of King Death

Spectral received a new review of its latest chapbook by Paul Finch this morning, and this time it’s by Neal Hock over at his Bookhound’s Den blog. As he mentions in the review, Neal has something of a penchant for medieval-based tales, so he was particularly looking forward to this one – which begs the question: did it pass muster? Did it hit the spot for Neal? Well, you’ll just have to click here to read the review for yourself and find out…