As you know, Spectral Press is all about looking forwards to the future – but, sometimes, taking a glance backwards can be just as thrilling and inspirational. And that’s what Spectral will be doing next year, inspired by an almost throwaway remark Tweeted by my good friend, the writer Scott Harrison.
At one time, there was a tradition of publishing ghost stories based around the Christmas festivities. The Victorians were particularly fond of ghost stories and, since they bequeathed to us the ‘traditional’ Christmas (less the rampant consumerism) by more or less ‘inventing’ what we now come to understand as Yuletide festivities, the marriage of the two ideas seems somehow inevitable. And so, we now have the image of scary tales being told to rapt audiences sitting by the hearth, with the burning Yule log crackling gently in the background.
Equally inevitably, the Christmas ghost story became a regular inclusion in annuals published around that time of year. One of the most famous examples of this type of story is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), a tale of greed, parsimony, ghostly visitations and redemption, and finally painting for us the perfect image of what Christmas eventually came to mean in later years. Dickens also wrote four other Christmas stories: The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man (1848). Many other authors, including MR James for instance, wrote tales specifically based around the Christmas celebrations.
Spectral wants to revive the tradition of the Christmas ghost story. Starting in December 2012, an annual anthology of such tales will be published, in a format yet to be determined (but my immediate thoughts are that it will be an unlimited e-book, with a special limited hardback edition also being available). Unlike the chapbooks, which are invite-only affairs, I will most likely throw open the doors for submissions – and submissions will be open from January 1st to June 30th in any particular year.
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Already, the response has been quite encouraging, so it looks very promising for this venture. I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something that will eventually become a regular feature of the genre publishing landscape, in however small a way. I, for one, am very much looking forward to see what happens.