The Fourth Black Book of Horror: Dark Fiction Review

Posted in Bits and pieces with tags , , on May 23, 2009 by craigherbertson

“The reader is guaranteed to find something to send shivers down the spine.'”

Charles Black’s latest anthology recieved its first review – very favourable. Unable to pick a winner, the  Dark Fiction Review picked out a few random tales including my offering. The reviewer said some nice things:

“…Soup…written by Craig Herbertson. It’s a wickedly dark tale of a secret society and the nefarious goings-on as one society meeting draws near. Reminiscent of traditional ghost stories (with a little dash of M.R.James) in its writing style, it’s a sumptuously told tale that is a fine start to the book

The quality of the contents forces me to adopt a similar policy so here’s a random selection.

Johhny Main’s ‘With Deepest Sympathy’ is a sharply told and cleverly conceived tale which would sit well with the classic Pan Horror anthologies.  Little gems like  ‘ She’s dead? oh well – that is fantastic news!’ contrast with shivery moments of classic terror.

‘A Cry For Help’ by Joel Lane is a creepy, modernist tale with the sentiment of Dickens and a style not unlike P.K. Dick. Had me guessing until the last line.

I admit I was one of the few readers who thought that ‘The Crimson Picture’ by Daniel McGachey in ‘The Second Black Book of Horror’a story which received superlative reviews – was a good rather than great tale. I happily concede that McGachey’s ‘And Still Those Screams Resound…’  is a scorcher of a story; beautifully conceived and constructed. It’s setting, the central concept, the characterisation make it one of those unforgettable classics.

Welll it was a random selection. There are other tales of equal merit but I hope it’s enough to get you out there on the web scrabbling for a copy.

Ship in A Bottle

Posted in News and Tittle Tattle with tags on April 3, 2009 by craigherbertson

My old friend Desmond Newton died on 30.01.2009. His obituary is in the Times.

Des was a uniquely talented man. He put ships in bottles. He was proud to present a miniature of the royal yacht Britannia to the Queen when she visited the Liverpool Maritime museum but prouder, doubtless, to have entertained thousands upon thousands of children with his talents.

My old Partner Bernie Shaw wrote a song about him called ‘Ship in a Bottle’ and Des played it on Children’s BBC ‘Corners’ when he demonstrated his skills to the world.

‘There’s a man down the dock, Des Newton’s his name catching the spirit of the sea is his game’

Well, sadly he’ll no longer walk down the dock between the buildings of the Maritime museum but that’s where I’ll always remember him – smiling, laughing and joking with us two buskers on the Pierhead. And something of him will always remain in those fantastic bottles with their miniature ships.

Des once came to me on the Pierhead looking unusually agitated. He had his old Burns guitar, very rare and he could have sold if for a lot of money. He’d come to give it to me for a song because he was desperately keen that it go to someone who would both cherish and play it. I assured Des that if I didn’t use it enough I would give it away to someone who would know it for it was. After many years I finally passed it on to my friend Rob Carroll who plays it to this day. The guitar case still contains the promotional photo of Des in his cabaret days, laughing and smiling as he always did.

I’ll certainly miss him..

Fantasy Writing. A Set of Tips and Admonitions to the Unwise. No6/ Yet more things to avoid

Posted in Bits and pieces on December 8, 2008 by craigherbertson

Don’t ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ unless you have read Marlowe and Chaucer and enjoyed them both

Fantasy Writing. A Set of Tips and Admonitions to the Unwise. No5/ Yet more things to avoid: The Map

Posted in Bits and pieces, Fantasy Writing with tags , , on November 26, 2008 by craigherbertson

There are only a few good maps of fantasy lands. Each dull map, with its hastily squiggled in mountains, clumsy nomenclature and bunched up forests should at least bear some resemblance to a plausible geographical landscape.

Fantasy Writing. A Set of Tips and Admonitions to the Unwise. No4/ More things to avoid

Posted in Fantasy Writing with tags , on November 26, 2008 by craigherbertson

Stringently avoid killing things without due regard for the sanctity of life. Its never cool to kill an enemy warrior without considering for a moment he had a mum, desires, petty ambitions and was perhaps kind to his cat.

Third Black Book Shortlisted for British Fantasy Awards 2008

Posted in Bits and pieces with tags , , , , , , , on October 13, 2008 by craigherbertson

Third Black Book of Horror reviewed and shortlisted for the British Fantasy Awards 2008

Loads of people have been saying marvelous things about this anthology – which was short-listed  for the British Fantasy Awards 2008.

‘The Black Book of Horror series stands tall as a masterful and most of all enjoyable, collection of some of the best that the field has to offer…’

said Lee Medcalf of Pantechnicon

And I got a bit of a kick from this on my humble offering

“The extraordinary carving of the characters, the smooth narrative style and a touch of black humour make the story a superb piece of fiction to be savoured word by word.”

Mario Guslandi
on Synchronicity in the Third Black Book of Horror

The oldest Football Club in the World

Posted in News and Tittle Tattle with tags , , , , on May 29, 2008 by craigherbertson


Herbertson Scrapes through Against the Oldest Football Team in the World

My Brother, Keith Herbertson donned the harlequinesque shirt of McCrae’s battalion Football team, last seen in 1916, to battle for a 3-2 victory against The Foot-ball Club of Edinburgh.

John Hope a 17 year old trainee lawyer, organised a season of games for this ‘Foot-Ball Club’, formed in Edinburgh.

The game involving 39 players, and ‘such kicking of shins and such tumbling’. Sticks marked the goals. The only surviving club rules forbade tripping, but allowed pushing holding and the lifting of the ball.

The subscription began at 1s. 6d. This paid for the hire of the park, the equipment and a boy, who probably blew up up the football but by all accounts, might have assisted the wounded and dying too. The most frequently purchased items were the bladders for the balls: They frequently burst.

The ball didn’t burst on this occasion. My brother, getting on in years but still fighting fit, helped the McCrae’s Battalion side to a hard fought victory and raised a few bob for ‘Cash for Kids’. You can even see him in the photo trying to straighten his back after a comrade had fallen by the wayside from exhaustion.

Jolly good fun though and I am going to trial for next year.