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WILLIAM MEIKLE

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My year in writing so far

Time for stock checking…

Published in 2018

  • THE BOATHOUSE – a short novel in my Sigils and Totems series from Crossroad Press
  • OPERATION: ANTARCTICA – the 2nd S-Squad book from Severed Press
  •  OPERATION: SIBERIA – the 3rd S-Squad book from Severed Press

Coming up from me in the autumn

  • THE GREEN AND THE BLACK – A Newfoundland horror novel from Crossroad Press

On submission

  • THE KEYS TO THE DOOR – a fourth CARNACKI collection

Work In Progress

  • AISHA (Working title) – a historical fantasy trilogy written with Steve Savile that’s coming along nicely
  • OPERATION: AMAZON – a 4th S-Squad book, about 20% done.
  • There’s also audiobooks of RAMSKULL and INFESTATION in production and a German edition of THE INVASION.

Short Stories published

  • The Root of All Things / By the Light of Camelot / EDGE Publishing
  • Leader of the Pack / In Dog We Trust / Black Shuck Books
  • The Keys to the Door / Nightland Quarterly / Nightland (Japan)

Short stories / novellas coming up, all dates to be confirmed

  • Operation Severn / Prehistoric / Severed Press
  • Blacktop / I Am The Abyss / Dark Regions Press
  • Nocturnes and Lacunae / Transmissions From Punktown / Dark Regions Press
  • Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation / Tales from Arkham Asylum / Dark Regions Press
  • The Color From The Deep / Summer of Lovecraft / Dark Regions Press
  • Something for the Weekend? / Voices in the Darkness / Ulthar Press
  • Carnacki: Bats in the Belfry / Tails of Terror / Golden Goblin Press
  • Into the Light / Their Coats All Red / 18th Wall Productions
  • Farside / Occult Detective Quarterly Presents

It’s felt like a quiet year so far, but looking back, I’ve been more productive than I thought.

Onward!

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July Update Newsletter

S Squad news, general writing news, and a new giveaway, all in the newsletter this month.

Big beasties fascinate me.

Some of that fascination stems from early film viewing. I remember being taken to the cinema to see The Blob. I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight, and it scared the crap out of me. The original incarnation of Kong has been with me since around the same time.

Similarly, I remember the BBC showing re-runs of classic creature features late on Friday nights, and THEM! in particular left a mark on my psyche.

I’ve also got a Biological Sciences degree, and even while watching said movies, I’m usually trying to figure out how the creature would actually work in nature — what would it eat? How would it procreate? What effect would it have on the environment around it?

On top of that, I have an interest in cryptozoology, of creatures that live just out of sight of humankind, and of the myriad possibilities that nature, and man’s dabbling with it, can throw up.

All of this means I can’t avoid writing about the beasties, from Giant Crabs in CRUSTACEANS, to Yeti in BERSERKER and ABOMINABLE, man-eating seaweed in THE CREEPING KELP, another big blob in THE PLASM, killer shrooms in FUNGOID and Giant Ants in GENERATIONS.

And there’s the tales of the S-Squad, my latest foray in the genre.

The S-Squad series is a tribute to several things – 50s big-bug B movies, Alistair MacLean books and movies, Aliens, and Dog Soldiers are all rattling around in there.

But mostly it’s for the love of big beasties. Mostly.

So far the team’s various members have come up against giant Isopods, revenant Nazis in a UFO base, velociraptors on Lundy Island (in a forthcoming anthology), and a variety of Ice-Age beasties in Siberia.

Unlike the Dog Soldiers team of a mixture of various Brits, my squad, after the first book at least, are all Scots, from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Inverness and the Islands, which gives me tension, patter and a degree of culture clash among them to play with.

I have such plans for them…

As I said, this is an indulgence, not a guilty pleasure, since there is no guilt at all, simply fun, joy and adventure.

This is who I am. This is my playpen.

Come and join me.

 


I spent much of June finishing off my fourth CARNACKI collection. It’s now off to a potential publisher for review, so keep everything crossed for me. I want to see this one out in the wild as I would then have all of my Carnacki stories published in one of the four collections. It is a dream I have.

I’m now working on the fourth of the S-Squad tales. I’ve taken them to a hotter spot this time, and seeing how they cope with Amazonian jungles and snake gods. Ideas for book 5 are already bubbling under.

The website got a bit of a tart up this month too. I’ve added SSL security, so if you come in via https://www.williammeikle.com , it’s all nicely locked. I was asked about a Press Pack, realized I didn’t have one, so I’ve added one of them too. There’s also a new NEWS sidebar on the front page, new pages for the new books mentioned in this newsletter, and a few new review blurbs from places like Cemetery Dance and Amazing Stories. Which is nice.


THE BOATHOUSE, the latest novel in my loosely connected Sigils and Totems mythos launched in June in ebook and paperback from Crossroad Press.

In this one you’ll find a hurricane, a scrimshaw chess set, a derelict boatyard, beer, cigarettes, a Newfoundland fishing town, more beer, sigils, totems, a ouija board and an old whaler, going to rot…among other things.

We went through a hurricane here a few years ago, and this story was sparked off by some of the mayhem the force of nature left behind. So there’s that, a lifelong love for interesting chess sets, and a look at another facet of my ongoing Sigils and Totems mythos (see the INFO link under the book cover for more details on my website.)

But it’s mainly about getting older, and friendships lost, and found again in dire circumstances. I’m pretty proud of the way this one turned out, and there’s a lot of me in it, being as I am a small town lad who left home young, and has now ended up in a small town again. In my case I wasn’t returning to my childhood home, but given that my parents are now both elderly back in Scotland, I can relate.

As ever, if you buy it and read it, a wee review anywhere of your choosing is always appreciated, on this, or any of my books.

 


 

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Bring on the Monsters

My writing is a mixture of the nearly subtle, and the not at all subtle. At least I think so.

I’ve approached subtlety in my short stories, and my reading passions veer toward the more subtle end of the scale.

But when it comes to actually making money from my writing, the bucks come in fastest from the most unsubtle of my work. THE INVASION is not in the least bit subtle — an apocalyptic alien invasion thing with flesh-eating goop, plucky survivors and nasty, no redeeming qualities aliens. People over the last nine years have lapped it up in their tens of thousands. It’s much the same with other of my more pulpy works, with thousands tuning in for THE VALLEY, ISLAND LIFE and THE HOLE, to name the most popular. And good old Derek Adams still sells regularly.

My recent CARNACKI and GHOST CLUB books, while getting critical praise and good reviews, do sell, but only in the hundreds compared to the thousands of the pulpier books.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last 26 years trying to turn away towards the more subtle, in the hope of making an impression among the weird fiction group, as that’s my own reading passion. But now, the Sigils and Totems stuff, (i.e. the more subtle of my recent work) has fallen off the radar completely, and meanwhile the S-Squad series creature features are taking off, and proving to me, all over again, that the direct, no-nonsense, big beasties and big bangs stuff is what my core readership is after.

So I’m going to chase them for a wee while.

Subtlety be damned.

Bring on the monsters.

 

 

May newsletter

Sigils and Totems news, general writing news and a new giveaway, all in the newsletter this month.

THE BOATHOUSE, the next in my interlinked Sigils and Totems series, is currently in production at Crossroad Press.(Series details at the link under the book cover.) If you want to catch up, one place to start is with the other novel in the series.

SONGS OF DREAMING GODS is the story of a house. In this one you will find creepy china dolls, a haunted lavatory, some hippies, some large, nasty ratty things, a chess board, a reaper, some cops, the great beyond, the other great beyond, and a lot of singing.

It’s an exploration of my growing Sigils and Totems idea. It’s a simple enough concept.


There are houses like this all over the world. Most people only know of them from whispered stories over campfires; tall tales told to scare the unwary. But some, those who suffer, some know better. They are drawn to the places where what ails them can be eased.

If you have the will, the fortitude, you can peer into another life, where the dead are not gone, where you can see that they thrive and go on, in the dreams that stuff is made of.

There it is in a nutshell. There are houses where people can go to get in touch with their dead loved ones.

But this gives me lots of things to play with. To even get inside a room, you need a sigil; a tattoo or carving on your skin, and a totem, a memento of your loved one. Then there is the fact that your loved one might be a parallel universe version rather than the one you actually know.

And where do these houses come from? What is behind the walls? How do they work? Why do they work? And who chooses the concierges who run them? Or fixes them when they go wrong?

SONGS OF DREAMING GODS is an exploration as to what is behind the curtain.

 


In April I finished the third of my S-Squad books for Severed Press, OPERATION: SIBERIA. It should be along in a few weeks time. Now I’m at a crossroads, trying to decide what to write next. I’ve got one outstanding anthology invitation to do, and a fourth S-Squad book contracted, but Carnacki has been shouting at me with some new stories to tell, so I might go back to him for a couple of months. Newfoundland’s short summer is just around the corner, and there are walks to take and whales to see, so I don’t intend to push too hard.

I made a decision to do more reading now that I’m officially a pensioner. The fruits of that can be seen on my blog, where I’ve been posting reviews; I’ve been rereading a lot of favorites, and reviewing them. If you’re interested in what I like to read, head on over and have a look at my blog


 

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After all, many a meikle maks a muckle.


 

April Newsletter

A new reissue of Tormentor, some short story sales news and a new giveaway for April, all in the newsletter this month.

The last of my DarkFuse novellas to be reissued, TORMENTOR is now available from Crossroad Press.

In this one there’s a lot of fish, some drums, some beer, a lot of whisky, dancing, some good weather, some bad weather, weird noises in the night and some Spaniards – among other things.

I’ve had a love affair with the Isle of Skye for many years. If we hadn’t come to Newfoundland, we might well have ended up on the same stretch of coastline described in this novella, a windswept shore near Dunvegan Castle.

This novella was a long time in the making. The basic idea came to me way back in 1991, but it took me a long, long time before I felt that my writing was up to the needs of the story. Then, a couple of years back, it all finally came together.

No limbs, no limbs, no head, no head, left arm gone, left leg gone, no legs, no head.

A door is open, and something is coming through. It’s just a matter of when — and what.

With Tormentor William Meikle has crafted a genuine classic Haunted House story that excels in so many different ways.The Ginger Nuts of Horror

Next up from Crossroad Press will be a new short novel, THE BOATHOUSE which is another in my Sigils and Totems series, so watch out for that in May.


I have several nice short story sales to report this month. I’ll have a story, LACUNAE AND NOCTURNES in a forthcoming Dark Regions Press anthology set in Jeffery Thomas’ PUNKTOWN setting, I have an Arthurian fantasy short, THE ROOT OF ALL THINGS coming in By The Light of Camelot from Edge Publishing, there’s a new Carnacki coming with BATS IN THE BELFRY in an Ulthar Press anthology. Also from Ulthar Press, I have a story SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND coming in a new antho, VOICES FROM THE DARKNESS, and there’s a reprint of my CARNACKI: THE KEYS TO THE DOOR coming in Japanese from the magnificent, but undecipherable by me, Nightland Quarterly.


 

April Giveaway – Win 3 Meikle Scottish Supernatural novellas

 

Regrets, I have a few. But then again…

It’s one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t start writing until I was in my mid-thirties. Since then it’s felt like I’ve continually been trying to catch up to where I want to be with it, and now that I’m 60 I can feel the pressure build as time gets ever shorter and age starts to wither both my attention span and my eyesight.

Hopefully both will hold out as I’ve got an ideas list as long as your arm to work my way through that includes more Carnacki stories, a handful of creature feature novels, and some themed supernatural story collections, including more Derek Adams.

In the longer term, before I pop off, I keep thinking about another sprawling fantasy epic. I had a go with one of those in the WATCHERS trilogy back almost twenty years ago now, and I’m working with Steve Savile on another historical trilogy with fantasy elements.

But it’s the big epic that I keep meaning to do and every few months, like now, it whispers for attention again. Something else always seems to come up and makes me put it on the back burner, but it’ll still be there, whispering away.

It’s been there for years now. I hope, in twenty five more years, I’ll have got round to it. GRRM stole my thunder a bit in that what I had in mind was very like GAME OF THRONES in concept if not in execution, but there’ll be more magic in mine, more barbarians hacking about with big axes, and fewer dwarves in brothels. I have a basic plot worked out – mirror magic, seafaring pirate whale worshippers, cursed weaponry and children abducted to grow up strangers in a strange land as slave workers in vast mines. I can see it all laid out in my head, and the plot covers years of this place’s history. It’s just a matter of writing the bugger.

If you ever see me at a con or in a bar, ask me about it – talking about it might be just the kick in the arse it needs to get going properly.

 



 

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Slave to the rhythm

In TORMENTOR , my latest release from Crossroad Press, there’s a lot of fish, some drums, some beer, a lot of whisky, dancing, some good weather, some bad weather, weird noises in the night and some Spaniards – among other things. Things like rhythm, and booze.

The novella was a long time in the making. The basic idea came to me way back in 1991, but it took me a long, long time before I felt that my writing was up to the needs of the story. Then it all finally came together.

You see, I have a theory about how the world works – no, bear with me, this isn’t a pseudo-science rant. Well, maybe it is – but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, and it has turned up in a lot of my stories of recent years.

We are creatures of rhythm and vibration. Not just us either, and not just the animal and plant kingdoms, but the whole of the universe.

An earlier paragraph from another book of mine sort of sums up the first part of my philosophy nicely.

“Life is an opportunity to create meaning by our actions and how we manage our way through the short part of infinity we’re given to operate in. And once our life is finished, our atoms go back to forming other interesting configurations with those of other people, animals, plants and anything else that happens to be around, as we all roll along in one big, happy, ever dancing, universe.”

It’s the dance that’s the thing, and our attempts to learn the steps and keep time with our partners is how we fumble through life.

Everything has a natural rhythm. The Earth spins once a day, goes around the sun once a year. The moon goes round the earth every 28 days. Your heart beats in a rhythm particular only to you. Everything has its drumbeat and everything contributes to the dance. You’ve just got to know when to lead and when to follow.

And sometimes, if you let go and let the rhythm do its thing, magic happens, and the rhythm gets into you and through you and off you go, careering along with no other thought than the dance, and the sheer overwhelming joy of it.

And, to return to my point, in TORMENTOR, the rhythms are dormant, waiting to be wakened, and when they do make themselves known, they are not recognized for what they are.

The dancers take their time, finding the steps slowly, tentatively.

But in the end, we all dance together.

 



 

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In search of the thing.

I don’t know if it’s the same for other writers, but for many years I’ve been in search of THE THING.

THE THING varies over time, a nebulous concept of interlinked thoughts, wishes, desires and an out of focus future where I’ve nailed everything I want to say, packaged it up tight in a lean, mean, novel, got it in the hands of publishers, and it’s so good that readers will fall on it in ravenous droves.

Every so often, I think I’ve cracked it.

The last time was these past few years with my SIGILS AND TOTEMS mythos works. The idea stuck with me for a long time, which is usually a good sign, I think I wrote some of my best stuff, in BROKEN SIGIL and SONGS OF DREAMING GODS in particular, and in a bevy of related work and stories, and I hoped that, this time, THE THING had been unleashed. I sent SONGS OF DREAMING GODS out with all the positive thinking I could muster.

And waited.

And waited.

Hope is, if not lost, at least fading. And I think I know where the problem lies. This particular incarnation of THE THING is my thing, not yours. The central conceit of the SIGILS AND TOTEMS mythos is my thing, not yours. They say writers should write for themselves. I did. And I’m proud of it.

But I can’t force anybody to read it.

Last year I had Joshi telling me I was a writer with nothing to say for myself, and one of his hangers-on calling me a hack. I let that get to me more than I should have, and that’s because THE THING wasn’t going as well as I hoped it would.

But that’s the thing with THE THING. It’s not static, but is a constantly mutating, changing organism.

And now it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.

Onward.

 



 

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Five favorite horror short stories

I’ve got a little list, of five of my favorite horror short stories. These ones have been chosen because they’ve stuck with me over the course of many years now. I’m sure there’s recent ones bubbling under that’ll be on this list in years to come.

But for now, here’s my best of the best.

Mackintosh Willy by Ramsey Campbell

My first reading of Mackintosh Willy was in the Dark Companions collection, sometime in the late ’80s. I wasn’t a writer then – I was newly divorced, living in London and mostly drunk. But there was something that crept in that story, something about the urban decay, hopelessness and the way we treat the other that rang a bell with me, and I found myself thinking about it more and more over the next few years. My personal circumstances improved, I got remarried, escaped London…but Ramsey’s story stuck with me, and when I started writing for myself in the early ’90s, some of Ramsey came along with me, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Sredni Vashtar by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)

I first read this when I was a boy of similar age to the protagonist Conradin, which makes it round about 1968, and it must have been one of the first true horror stories I ever read.

It’s a slow burner, about a child in an unfriendly situation, and how he escapes into a fantasy world of his own making, creating a cult and a religion around his pet ferret, Sredni Vashtar, which is built up in his mind as an all powerful force of destruction. And then the pet is discovered by the unfriendly family.

If you’ve never read it, I won’t spoil it, but it is a delicious tale, the likes of which Roald Dahl would perfect later, but this one, my first of the kind, has always stuck with me and still does to this day, almost 50 years on.

Sticks by Karl Edward Wagner

If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise.

Sticks is Karl Edward Wagner’s homage to the weird tradition, and has been collected several times since it first appeared in Whispers back in the early ’70s. It’s also, purportedly, based on a true story of illustrator Lee Brown Coye’s experiences in 1938 in a farmhouse in the Mann Brook region. I didn’t know that when I first read it, in the Arkham House reprint of the Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos anthology, and even if I had, it couldn’t have made the impact of the tale any stronger than it was already.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a country lad and spent a lot of my time rambling in woodland and playing with sticks myself, but something in this story crept into me and stayed there. I was reminded of it strongly in The Blair Witch Project, and that made the movie even more creepy for me, but the story itself, simple enough as it is in plot, has depth and heft and a capacity to make you look over your shoulder to make sure you’re not being watched. It still strikes a chord today, even after repeated readings. It’s the kind of story I aspire to write, and reminds me, in a way, of Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, or Machen’s The White People. It’s in good company, and deserves to be.

Smoke Ghost by Fritz Leiber

Another one that’s been with me for an awful long time. In the early ’70s, I was reading Leiber mainly for his science fiction, but stumbled upon a collection that contained this, and was immediately unnerved. Smoke Ghost, written in 1941, was an early attempt to bring ghosts into the modern age, and it works perfectly.

There is a thing here haunting city alleys, roofs and railway lines, a thing of tattered cloth, old newpapers, oil and smoke, a thing of the city’s dispossessed and lost, that is as effective a haunting as anything ever put down on paper, and all the more scary for its modernist trappings. If I’m ever pressed for my favorite short horror story, this is the one that usually first comes to mind, for that thing of scraps and oil haunts me yet, and I’ve met it in my dreams.

Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier

It’s a masterful feat of storytelling, building from an almost comical, married Brits abroad start to quickly pile on subtle, then not-so-subtle hints that things are not all that they seem. Our protagonist’s journey from concerned husband and his pent up grief at the loss of a child builds into something dark and strange, as if the foreign city itself is conspiring against him.

The final scene, where he faces his grief, and finds the truth, is as shocking in print as it is in film, and that’s a testament to the descriptive and narrative powers of De Maurier.

It’s one of my favorite things, both in print and in film, and I wish I could see, and read, both for the first time all over again.

 

 



 

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