Written by Mark Cassell
When asked to pick a book to recommend, I struggle to choose a favourite. Although there are many fantastic books out there, I reckon people need to read Brian Lumley. From the "Titus Crow" novels to the "Necroscope" series, all of his work embodies the intricacies of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy… and cross-genre like this always wins me over.
I unashamedly admit there's something about the way he weaves his stories that inspired me to write my own, expanding on what began as a single idea. And if I needed to pinpoint precisely what that was, I would say it's the way he's chosen to write short stories surrounding his novels.
Despite a labourious Google search, I cannot seem to find a suitable phrase in which to name this particular practice.
First up, I'll pluck six books from my shelf: a series starring occult investigator Titus Crow, inspired by HP Lovecraft's "Cthulhu" mythos. These novels follow the survival of mankind in a never-ending battle with HPL's infamous deities, those elder gods who ruled the universe before man existed.
- The Burrowers Beneath (1974)
- The Transition of Titus Crow (1975)
- The Clock of Dreams (1978)
- Spawn of the Winds (1978)
- In the Moons of Borea (1979)
- Elysia (1989)
To coincide with these, there are a number of stories where we follow either Crow himself or his friend, Henri-Laurent de Marigny. These can be found in the collective works, The Compleat Crow (1987). Each story further explores the six novels, adding layers to the work and strengthening an already great story.
Lumley himself openly admits "…the main difference between my stories and HPL's… my guys fight back. Also, they like to have a laugh along the way."
In his "Necroscope" saga – a series containing fifteen novels and two smaller works – he went against the grain and avoided your typical horror tropes by getting to the core of what makes a monster. These books expertly strip both vampire and werewolf legends into one fundamental truth: any level of bloodlust cannot exist without a grotesque transformation, inside and out.
Combining such familiar legends with British and Russian secret services, psychic investigators, teleportation, and even time travel, the Necroscope books remain my favourite series twenty years after I first read them.
When it came to writing my debut novel, The Shadow Fabric (2014), I created artefacts that are integral to the story, allowing the characters to interact with them. One thing I enjoy about Lumley's story of Necroscope (1986) is how the main character Harry Keogh is, in fact, the Necroscope. Simply defined as a human instrument which permits access to the thoughts of the dead. In so doing, he makes plenty of friends. And also enemies.
Writing The Shadow Fabric, I set about flipping today's horror tropes on their heads, just as Lumley managed in the '80s. Sick of today's zombies, I reinvented corpse reanimation, and general human interaction with the dead, while rewriting the history of witchcraft and demonology. My mythos is set within our world yet treats it like an alternate universe without changing our dynamics and rules.
Since the release of my debut novel, several stories in the Shadow Fabric mythos have been published in anthologies and ezines. Some can be found in the collection, Sinister Stitches (2015). Three weeks ago, Hell Cat of the Holt (2017) further explores my own mythos, weaving ghosts, a sneaky demon, and a black cat sighting.
HorrorTalk would like to extend its thanks to Mark Cassell for taking time out of his busy schedule to share this exclusively with us. Be sure to pick up his latest novel, Hell Cat of the Holt from any of the links below.
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.
Mark's 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.
The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.
For one of Mark's FREE stories go to: www.markcassell.com
Or visit the website: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk
Want to share some news? Click here to hit us with it!