FantasyCon 2012: A spectacular success

It has to be said that, without a shadow of a doubt, this year’s FantasyCon was THE best one we’ve attended. Certainly, from Spectral’s perspective, this was undoubtedly an unqualified success – but more on that later.

The Spectral staffers (all two of us) journeyed to the seaside resort of Brighton on the south coast of the UK on the Thursday, mainly because we wanted to be feeling refreshed when the con proper started the next day. Nevertheless, on that same evening we stopped by the venue and met up with some old friends, and eventually we, along with Mark Morris, Sarah Pinborough, Rio Youers, Tim Lebbon, Gary & Emily McMahon, and Gardner Goldsmith, stomped off for an Italian meal in a nearby restaurant. Superb start to the weekend.

Friday started pretty blurrily until we had coffee, then everything swam into focus nicely. We spent the day meeting some more old friends, as well as making a lot of new ones. Spectral didn’t have much to do that day, except a book launch later on in the evening – most of the afternoon was spent worrying whether the hardbacks of John L. Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine would turn up. Talk about cutting it fine! However, they did turn up , as did the paperback editions – sighs of relief all round.

The launch itself was an absolute blinder – John Probert’s bombastic introduction completely stole the show and, more to the point, the launch room was packed with eager punters – some to collect their hardback copies and others wanting to get their sweaty hands on the paperbacks. We were all kept busy, Simon taking the money (and then handing it on to his wife Lizzie for safekeeping) and John busily scribbling his signature on to the insides of books AND on the poster that came with it. By the time all was over, both Spectral staffers were somewhat shellshocked at how well the event had gone, and John was over the moon at the book’s reception.

Inevitably, then, Saturday was a late start for us, due to sheer exhaustion from the night before. However, a full English breakfast sorted that out. Saturday morning turned out to be a lot quieter than the previous two days, and that afternoon, Mike Powell (our generous host, who let us stay at his flat for the weekend), took us on a Belgian beer tour of Brighton, which left at least one of us feeling a tad worse for wear. The Belgians really do know how the craft their ales.

Luckily, however, when it came time for the Spectral at the Movies reading event later that evening, the effects of the beer had worn off and mellowness had taken its place. The reading was also a great success, with Stephen Volk reading a passage from his Spectral Visions novella Whitstable (due in May next year), which is certainly one of the most heartfelt tributes to its main protagonist, Peter Cushing, that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Many of the attendees echoed that sentiment. Stephen’s quiet reading was followed by the larger than life John Llewellyn Probert, who read a part of chapter two of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine. We all judged the reading a very great success.

The Spectral staffers decided to skip the now-traditional Saturday night FCon disco because, in all honesty, our bones couldn’t have managed it. Instead, we crawled home, tired but happy, and as soon as we fell into bed we were unconscious.

Sunday was an early start, as one of us was moderating the only panel of the day, at 10am,  ‘Marketing for Newcomers’.  The stage was shared with Peter Mark May, Charles Christian and Trevor Denyer (Chris Teague of Pendragon Press was also meant to be participating, but he was attending the British Fantasy Society AGM at the time). A great discussion ensued, marred only by the fact that there was no PA and a loud air-conditioning system, necessitating some shouting just to be heard. The hour went swiftly by, however, and all the panellists seemed to have made a good impression on the early-bird audience.

And so to the high-point of the weekend: the British Fantasy Society Awards. As you know, Spectral was nominated in two categories – King Death by Paul Finch in the Short Fiction category and the imprint itself in the PS Publishing Independent Press Award. Sadly, Spectral didn’t win in either, however just being nominated in the Awards was sufficient. One annoying little disappointment spoiled the event: King Death was inexplicably left out of the nomination announcements for the Short Fiction category. Other than that, everything went very smoothly.

Congratulations are due to ALL the winners this year, meaning that the genre is definitely in safe hands. ONE award winner we MUST mention in particular: our good friend Adam Nevill winning the award for best horror novel, with The Ritual. Certainly it was well deserved!

To conclude, a mightily successful event. There’s no FantasyCon next year – however, there IS World Fantasy Con instead, for which we’ve already bought our tickets. THAT is guaranteed to be TRULY spectacular!

Onwards and upwards!

This Is Horror take on What Gets Left Behind

What Gets Left Behind cover image

As this will be the last post before the Spectral clan (all two of us) head off for the annual shindig that is FantasyCon, we shall leave you all on a high: the latest review of Mark West’s What Gets Left Behind, Volume VII in the acclaimed Spectral Press chapbook series. This one’s by horror writer Adam Millard and has been posted to This Is Horror Magazine’s horror media website. To read the review, please click here.

Anyway, FantasyCon promises to be a wonderful event this year – for our part, we are launching a book (The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine), hosting a reading (with John Llewellyn Probert and Stephen Volk) and moderating a panel (‘Marketing for Newcomers’). Plus, of course, King Death by Paul Finch is up for a British Fantasy Award in the Short Fiction category, and Spectral itself has been nominated for the PS Publishing Independent Press Award. If any of you are going, then please don’t hesitate to make yourself known!

More reviews and news soon!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: an Eloquent review

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

Just a week until the official launch of the second Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John L. Probert, at this year’s gathering of writers, editors and publishers in Brighton at FantasyCon 2012. The reviews are now coming in regularly, and it is with great pleasure that we can announce the latest one from The Eloquent Page, the book review blog of one Pablocheesecake. This one had us smiling: if you want to know why, all you need do is click here.


Want to win a limited signed hardback copy of John L. Probert’s affectionately gruesome homage to the films of the late actor and horror icon Vincent Price, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine? Then just answer the question below, set by the fiendish Mr. Probert himself, and you stand to win one of these coveted volumes along with some other great prizes (detailed below):

In the film THEATRE OF BLOOD, how many plays made up Edward Lionheart’s final season of Shakespeare?

THE PRIZESTop prize is a personally signed copy of the hardback, along with a poster of the front cover image (also signed), a paperback copy of Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny (signed), a set of posters of the covers of all the chapbooks published to date, and a Spectral badge.

Second and third prizes for the next two correct entries will be signed paperback copies of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, accompanied by a poster of the cover image (unsigned) and a Spectral badge.

Please your answers to the question to us here at Spectral Towers on spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com, to arrive no later than the 30th September 2012 ( the deadline has been extended from the 24th). The winners will be notified via email after FantasyCon 2012 and your prizes will be despatched in the first week of October.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

FantasyCon 2012: paperback offer

The Respectable Face of Tyranny cover image

For those of you out there who are going to be at the event of the year in Brighton between the 28th and 30th of this month, there will be a special offer available to attendees on the paperback editions of Gary Fry’s The Respectable Face of Tyranny and John L. Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine – in other words, if you buy both at the same time, it’ll only cost you £9 instead of £11. They will still be available separately at the usual prices.

Look forward to seeing you there!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

FantasyCon: the 2012 edition

FantasyCon 2012 logo

It’s that time of the year once more, when the widely dispersed clans of Writers, Publishers and Editors all gather in some hotel somewhere (in the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton again this year) and chat about all things genre and books. This year, unlike our previous attendances, things are slightly different for us: we have a book launch going on, a reading to host, a panel to moderate and an awards ceremony to be nervous about. In between we shall be meeting up with various people to talk ‘business’ over drinks, and we are hoping to be able to report some good things when we get back in terms of new novellas and chapbooks. Spectral is definitely going through some exciting times, and we have a feeling that even better things will be coming your way in 2013 and beyond!

Anyway, for those interested, here’s our FantasyCon schedule for this year:

Friday 28th September, Bar Rogue, 9pm – 10pm: launch of The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert. There will be free wine, and John will be signing both the hardbacks and the paperbacks. Posters will also be given away as well as Spectral badges.

Saturday 29th September, Readings Room 134, 9:30pm – 10pm: Spectral at the Movies reading, with Stephen Volk and John L. Probert.

Sunday 30th September, Fitzherbert Room, 10 am – 11am: Panel, Market Information for Newcomers, with Christopher Teague (Pendragon Press) and Peter Mark May (Hersham Horror).

Sunday 30th September, Regency Lounge, 1pm onwards: nervously pacing up and down and biting fingernails at the Awards Ceremony….

If any of you out there are planning on attending, then please do make yourself known to us. This promises to be a great event, the highlight of the year, and what a great setting into the bargain. There will be a further post nearer the time with more details of the event itself, such as Guests of Honour and the programme of events due to be held.

More news soon!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: SOLD OUT!!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

Well, the headline to this blog entry says it all – the limited signed edition of John Llewellyn Probert’s Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, is now sold out. The launch at FantasyCon is still going ahead, however: those who have ordered/reserved copies will be able to pick them up from there and, in addition, paperbacks will be available for purchase as well. You will also be able to get these signed, plus you will also receive a FREE poster of the cover image. Paperbacks will retail at £6 each.

Those of you not attending the convention but who would still like a copy of the paperback (the same as the hardback except with the omission of the Appendix of mini-reviews and reminiscences), please make sure to let us know by contacting us at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com and we will only be too happy to put one aside for you. Please get in touch as soon as possible because these are bound to go as fast as the hardbacks did.

Look forward to hearing from you!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: pre-order today!

The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine cover image

“Someone is killing doctors in the style of the murders in Vincent Price movies, leaving the Bristol police baffled. The only man who could possibly be responsible died years ago . . . or did he . . .?”

Today’s the day – John Llewellyn Probert’s Spectral Visions novella (and homage to the late actor Vincent Price), The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, is available for y’all to pre-order. The book will be officially launched at this year’s FantasyCon, in Brighton, where the good man himself will be more than happy to sign and personalise copies. Those attending will also get a FREE poster of the front cover image, which you can also persuade him to sign as well. The limited hardback edition (100 only) includes that wonderful wraparound cover by JD Busch, coloured endpapers, a silk ribbon bookmarker and, as a bonus, an appendix featuring mini-reviews and reminiscences of the films referenced in the story. It’s going to be a very special item!

You will notice that there are two price points listed for the UK and Europe – as the book is being launched at FCon, those attending can pick their copies up at the event and thus save on postage and packing. Ordering now is the best way to ensure that you secure your very own copy of this magnificent and gruesomely affectionate paean to the horror films of the 60s and 70s!

FantasyCon attendee price £17.50 (UK)

Non-attendee price £21 (UK – includes P+P)

FCon attendee price £17.50 (EU)

Non-FCon attendee price £23.50 (EU – includes P+P)

US & RoW $45 (includes P+P)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

(A note about postage prices – blame the Royal Mail for that …. )

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: news

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image by JD Busch

Just a heads up to all those who expressed an interest in purchasing a copy of John Llewellyn Probert’s bloodily affectionate and outrageous homage to the films of the late, great Vincent Price, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine – the limited signed hardback edition, with the fantastic JD Busch cover illustrated above, will be available for preorder from next week. It’ll be officially launched at FantasyCon 2012 in September, so please let us know if you’ll be attending this event.

John read the first two chapters from the book at the This Is Horror evening at Birmingham’s Shock & Gore event at the Electric Cinema last Sunday, where it went down extremely well. If you want to reserve a copy of the novella, which is almost certain to sell very fast, then please contact Simon Marshall-Jones at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com and let him know.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine: cover reveal

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image by JD Busch

And so, just to brighten up your Monday morning, we present to you the front cover image of the next Spectral Visions novella, The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine by John L. Probert. The image, executed by artist JD Busch, perfectly encapsulates the spirit of John’s story, as it’s an affectionately gruesome, blackly humorous and outrageous homage to the films of Vincent Price, in particular Theatre of Blood and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The book is due out in September and will be launched at this year’s FantasyCon in Brighton. If you’re going to the convention and decide to come to the launch, there will be free wine and also a ‘performance’ reading from the book by John himself (believe me, his readings are definitely NOT to be missed) as well as a signing.

About half of the limited hardback edition have been spoken for already, but if you’re interested in acquiring a copy then please contact us at spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com to reserve one. Pre-orders will begin sometime this month.

Onwards and upwards!

News: British Fantasy Awards

Spectral Press logoIt’s that time of year when the British Fantasy Society announces its shortlist for the awards to be given out by the Society at FantasyCon, being held in Brighton once more, at the Royal Albert Hotel, in September. All nominees on the shortlist have been voted for by the membership and will now go on to be judged by jury.

British Fantasy Awards nominee And yes, that badge immediately above means exactly what it’s meant to tell you: we are very pleased to announce that Spectral Press have picked up two nominations in this year’s awards. They are:

King Death cover image

Paul Finch’s tale of misplaced medieval hubris is up for the Short Fiction award, alongside works by Simon Bestwick (whose own Spectral chapbook will be out in June next year), Michael Marshall Smith, Adam Nevill and Angela Slatter. Don’t forget, too, that Paul’s story is being reprinted in the Paula Guran-edited Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2012, due out this July.

The second nomination is for Spectral Press itself in the PS Publishing Independent Press Award, where it’ll be up against Chomu Press (Quentin S. Crisp), Gray Friar Press (run by Gary Fry, author of The Respectable Face of Tyranny, published by Spectral last month) and Newcon Press (Ian Whates).

A full list of the nominees for this year’s awards can be found here. FantasyCon 2012 is due to take place over the weekend of 28th – 30th September.

We’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last seventeen months to bring our readers the best in top quality ghostly/supernatural fiction and, although in all honesty our main motivation is to give back to the genre we love what we’ve got out of it as a mark of gratitude, we’d be lying if we said that these nominations haven’t put big grins on our faces and validated all the reasons why we set Spectral up in the first place. It’s nice to see that hard work being recognised and, even if we don’t win, we can take a lot of heart and encouragement from just being on the shortlist. So, thanks to everyone who nominated us!

As a quick aside, let it also be known that FantasyCon 2012 will see the launch of John Llewellyn Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine, with a reading, a signing and free wine. A specially-signed edition of the hardback plus a pair of white gloves as worn by John in his author photo for the book will be featured in the FantasyCon Raffle. It’s an event NO T to be missed!

See you in September!