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Articles
Things That Might Have Been
by Stephen Jones
 
2014
Les Edwards—One of the Gang
by Stephen Jones
 
2010
Edgar Allan Poe: Double Century, Double Bill
by Stephen Jones
 
2008
The Ackermonster and Me:
Forrest J Ackerman (1917–2008)
by Stephen Jones
My Friend, Chris Wicking
by Stephen Jones
Karl Edward Wagner Special Award Winner: Ray Harryhausen
by Stephen Jones
 
2007
Stephen Jones: Loving The Idiots
by Neil Gaiman
The Creative Spirit
by Christopher Fowler
 
2004
What Price Integrity?
by Stephen Jones
Three Weeks With the Undead
by Stephen Jones
 
2002
Growing Up in a World of Gods and Monsters
by Stephen Jones
 
2001
R. Chetywnd-Hayes: An Appreciation
by Stephen Jones
 
1996
A Fellowship of Fantasy: A Personal Reminiscence of The British Fantasy Society
by Stephen Jones
 
Three Weeks With the Undead by Stephen Jones
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Two vampires babes sink their fangs into Stephen Jones at London's Devereux Pub Two vampires babes sink their fangs into Stephen Jones at London's Devereux Pub

It seemed like a bad idea at the time . . .

Last year, my relatively new editor Pete at Robinson Publishing called me up and said, "We are planning to reprint The Mammoth Book of Vampires."

"Great," I enthused. The Mammoth Book of Vampires was one of my most successful books. Originally published in 1992, it went through three printings in the UK and seven printings from Carroll & Graf in the USA before being reissued in a number of cheap editions, as a beautiful-looking hardcover from Barnes & Noble, and in an Italian translation which the publisher failed to send us (and, in fact, denied for a while that they had even published!).

The book had been out of print for several years, and I agreed that it would be a good time to bring it out again for a new generation of vampire fans. That's when the other shoe dropped.

"Well, we can't pay you very much money," explained my editor, adding, "and we'd want you to replace fifty per cent of the contents."

"What? No way," I replied. Replacing that amount of fiction would basically create a new book, and they didn't have the money to do that. "Look," I countered. "Why don't we just do a follow-up entitled, oh, I don't know, The Mammoth Book of Vampires 2, and reissue the original book with a matching cover design?" It seemed like a solid publishing plan to me, but what do I know?

Negotiations dragged on for several weeks. Eventually, at the pleading of my exasperated agent, I came up with a compromise: I would substitute all the "out of copyright" stories in the original volume with new or different stories by authors I had not worked with at that time, or who may not even have had a writing career back then.
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Signing at the Devereux: Back row: Tina Rath and Stephen Jones;<br> Front row: Paul McAuley, Kim Newman, Tanith Lee and Brian Lumley (April 1st, 2004) Signing at the Devereux: Back row: Tina Rath and Stephen Jones;
Front row: Paul McAuley, Kim Newman, Tanith Lee and Brian Lumley (April 1st, 2004)

This seemed to do the trick, and over the next few months I replaced the classic tales by F. Marion Crawford, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, M.R. James and E.F. Benson with work from more contemporary writers such as Michael Marshall Smith, Nancy Kilpatrick, Christopher Fowler, Simon Clark, Paul McAuley, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Sydney J. Bounds, John Burke, Tanith Lee, Tina Rath and Harlan Ellison.

The original volume had also included a poem by the then up-and-coming Neil Gaiman, and I offered him the opportunity to exchange it for a story, which he kindly did. That first edition of The Mammoth Book of Vampires had also featured the novella 'Red Reign' by Kim Newman—the first in his hugely popular "Anno Dracula" series (his original title for the story, changed at my request—which just goes to prove to you that I really know nothing!). Kim decided that his novella had now been widely read by vampire fans, and offered me a more recent entry in the series as an alternative. I, of course, readily accepted.

So, in the end, it turned out that I added more than forty per cent of different material to the book anyway. I updated all the author notes, and some new interior illustrations by Randy Broecker (to bring the book into line with my more recent Mammoth titles) and a superb cover painting by Les Edwards completed the transformation.

I delivered the manuscript to my relieved editor, paid the new contributors for their stories, and sent all the old contributors a small "top up" fee from the meagre advance before moving on to other projects.
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Annie and Basil Copper outside the Devereux's restaurant Annie and Basil Copper outside the Devereux's restaurant
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Stephen Jones and Tanith Lee at the Devereux
Stephen Jones and Tanith Lee at the Devereux

Then at some point over the winter, I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to do some kind of launch for the book for the vampire fans?" So I contacted my resident vampire expert, Tina Rath, and asked her for her opinion. I had initially suggested doing something with The Dracula Society (who I had done a talk for a few years earlier). Tina not only set this up, but contacted another London-based vampire group, who were also interested in holding a signing event as well.

I had been invited to be a Guest of Honour at the World Horror Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, around the same time as the publication of the book. After contacting a number of bookstores in the USA, I suddenly found myself committed to a mini-book tour of the West Coast as well.

All of this would have been wonderful, except for one major problem. The book would now not be published in time! The official publication date had been changed for after I returned from America.

Thankfully, Robinson immediately got behind the idea of the tour. They moved up the printing date for the book, produced some handsome showcards to display at the various venues, and organised the shipping of copies to the different locations.

Without quite knowing how it had all happened, I now found myself committed to five signing sessions over a three-week period in two different countries. And, truth be told, I was actually looking forward to it . . .

Knowing that nobody would care much about me signing their copies, I contacted all the living contributors to the book and asked them if they could attend any of the signings. About half of them said they could.

Also, Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank, California, had agreed to sponsor a bookplate signed by as many contributors as possible for the two events they were organising.

Everything was progressing according to plan, when I realised that I would be attending another convention in Chicago the week the book was being printed and shipped, only returning to London two days before the first signing event. If anything went wrong while I was away, it would probably be too late to do anything about it by the time I returned.
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Before the storm—The Dracula Society signing: Left to right: Tina Rath, Stephen Jones, Sidney J. Bounds, Christopher Fowler, Brian Stableford and Kim Newman (April 3rd, 2004) Before the storm—The Dracula Society signing: Left to right: Tina Rath, Stephen Jones, Sidney J. Bounds, Christopher Fowler, Brian Stableford and Kim Newman (April 3rd, 2004)
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Richard  A. Lupoff, Patricia Lupoff, Stephen Jones and Alan Beatts (Borderlands Books, San Francisco) Richard A. Lupoff, Patricia Lupoff, Stephen Jones and Alan Beatts (Borderlands Books, San Francisco)
As soon as the cab dropped us back home from Heathrow Airport, I confirmed that the books had been published and delivered to the overseas destinations (they had) and that the first event was still on for two days' time (it was). I then settled down to answer the hundreds of e-mails and letters awaiting my attention, while trying to win a losing battle against jet-lag.

On the evening of Thursday, April 1st (a somewhat appropriate date, I thought), I made my way to the upstairs restaurant of the atmospheric Devereux Pub in Devereux Court, just off London's historic Fleet Street. The event was being organised by Stephen Wilson (who was an absolute delight to work with) for his pagan/vampire group, Moot with No Reflection. We had advertised the signing widely on the Internet, and the spacious room quickly began to fill up with a (mostly) young crowd of Goths and others, no doubt due to the stellar line-up of authors who had agreed to participate: Brian Lumley, Tanith Lee, Christopher Fowler, Kim Newman, Paul McAuley, Basil Copper, Sydney J. Bounds, Tina rath and cover artist Les Edwards.

They were a friendly audience, buying drinks and coming up to talk with all the authors sitting behind the long stretch of tables before the evening's festivities officially kicked off. Along with a large contingent of Brian's Necroscope fans, horror author Tony Richards, freelance editor Nick Austin, and my editor from Robinson were all there to support us.

We sold a lot of books that night, and signed a great many more. Afterwards there was an enjoyable Q&A session, with the audience asking intelligent and entertaining questions (not just about vampires). Although Syd Bounds and Basil Copper had to leave early, the rest of us stayed on until closing time. Exhausted, jet-lagged and a little the worse for red wine, I collected up the publicity material and headed home.

It was only two days until the next event, and if it went as well as the first one then I would have been delighted. I had no idea at the time that it would be a disaster . . .

After barely sleeping a couple of hours a night since my return from Chicago, and with much more catching-up to do before my office was back to normal again, on the evening of Saturday, April 3rd, I turned up at The Victoria Pub, near Paddington Station in North London.

Photo © 2004 Brendan Vaughan
Nancy  Kilpatrick, Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell (The 2004 World Horror Convention, Phoenix, Arizona, April 10th, 2004) Nancy Kilpatrick, Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell (The 2004 World Horror Convention, Phoenix, Arizona, April 10th, 2004)
The Victoria is a beautiful little pub. It's upstairs bar in modelled on a turn-of-the-century music hall with faux balconies and pillars. Another bar down a short corridor is fitted out like a Victorian reading room. No wonder it is used as a regular meeting place by the members of The Dracula Society.

After helping organiser Julia Kruk to set up, myself and three of the authors who had arrived early posed for an over-enthusiastic photographer from a local newspaper.

Despite my tiredness, I should have realised from the omens that the evening wasn't going to go well. Firstly, my marketing guy from Robinson popped in to check that everything was okay and knocked a full glass of red wine over Julia's resplendent shoes. Also, this time it was mostly an older crowd, and not only did Julia insist that we wait until they had ordered food (because that's what they always do), but several people loudly complained that the authors had taken their chairs and tables for the panel!

Although veteran editor Michel Parry, horror author Mark Samuels, and a few other friends turned up, the majority of the audience kept to themselves down the other end of the bar. There was definitely a feeling of "them and us" about the atmosphere, which was only to get worse as the evening progressed.
Photo © 2004 Brendan Vaughan
They're Not Gonna Take It—Dee Snider of rock band Twisted Sister and Stephen Jones (World Horror Convention, April 9th, 2004 They're Not Gonna Take It—Dee Snider of rock band Twisted Sister and Stephen Jones (World Horror Convention, April 9th, 2004)

After we had been hanging around for a couple of hours, Julia finally decided that her members had had time to eat their dinners and we could now begin selling books. This time Kim Newman, Christopher Fowler, Sydney J. Bounds, Tina Rath and myself were joined by Brian Stableford. We sold a decent number of copies, although I did overhear a few people mumble that they "already had a copy" or moaning about the price (which, like at the previous event, was generously discounted by Robinson). I helpfully pointed out that they were getting an advance copy signed by a number of contributors and the editor. I don't think they were that impressed.

There then followed the question and answer session, this time moderated by Julia. It began fine. Then some guy in the audience asked me that hoary old question about why I don't use more women writers in my anthologies. I am so sick of hearing that. I tried to point out that the book included seven stories by women, which wasn't a bad percentage for a horror anthology, and that I had also edited another book which he might have heard of, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women. He continued to argue. I went on to explain that I don't choose stories based on the race, creed or sexuality of the author but on what I perceive to be the quality of the fiction. He wasn't having any of that either. We argued some more. I lost my temper. Voices were raised.

At which point, a woman from the back of the room marched towards the panel, exclaiming in a loud voice that I was a disgrace, that she had never heard such language (I don't think I was swearing, at least not that much), and that she was leaving! Which she promptly did.

I was momentarily stunned. Something like that had never happened to me before. I made a throwaway comment about the woman's behaviour, and another guy in the audience leapt to his feet and said that I had treated that woman badly and that she was entitled to her opinion. I flippantly replied that I thought we were there to listen to the opinions of the people on the panel. He disagreed. Attempting to get the talk back on track, I called him an "idiot" and told him to sit down!

That's when I realised I had lost our audience. If they had had weapons, I'm certain they would have rushed us at that point. The rest of the evening is a blur. I remember Kim helpfully pointing out that there wasn't much chance of me ever winning an award from The Dracula Society now. All I know is that I finally headed home depressed, defeated and totally exhausted. I was so grateful that we had sold the books before the Q&A session began . . .
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
David J. Schow, Nancy Holder, Stephen Jones, Dennis Etchison and Richard Christian Matheson (Dark Delicacies, Burbank, California, April 17th, 2004) David J. Schow, Nancy Holder, Stephen Jones, Dennis Etchison and Richard Christian Matheson (Dark Delicacies, Burbank, California, April 17th, 2004)

Two days later and still jet-lagged, I found myself in San Francisco. (At least we had been upgraded to Business Class by United Airlines, but I found it almost impossible to sleep on the reclining seats). That evening Alan Beatts, owner of the Borderlands Books, picked us up in his car and drove us to his store in the Mission District. On the way he told me that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, who I was supposed to be signing with, was sick and unable to make it.

Borderlands www.borderlands-books.com is a beautiful bookstore, fitted out in hand-crafted wooden fixtures and boasting a wide selection of genre titles from both sides of the Atlantic. They had done me proud. Many of my books were on display on the counter and in the window, and a small table had been set up for me in the middle of the store, surrounded by chairs for the audience. The (now slightly battered) Robinson showcards and a bottle of good Californian red wine completed the setting.

This was my first signing in San Francisco, but I was still genuinely surprised how many people showed up on a Tuesday evening. Before long, all the seats were filled and people were sitting on the floor. Author Richard A. Lupoff and his wife Pat, who I had met on a previous visit to the city, were there to add moral support.

Despite having no idea which time zone I was now in, I think I managed to answer Alan's (very intelligent) questions with some sense and humour, and the audience was communicative and attentive. My only disappointment was at the number of books we sold afterwards. If everybody had who had come along had bought a copy of the new Mammoth Book of Vampires, we would not have had enough copies to go round. As it was, Alan was confident that he would eventually sell them all. He was right. They were all gone within a few days.

After the signing we went out for a Chinese dinner with Alan and his hard-working staff, Dick and Pat, and a couple of friends of theirs. The food was tasty, but I barely remember climbing into my bed back at the hotel that night.
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
Spot the product placements: Stephen Jones, Nancy Holder and Dennis Etchison with one of the indestructible showcards at Dark Delicacies Spot the product placements: Stephen Jones, Nancy Holder and Dennis Etchison with one of the indestructible showcards at Dark Delicacies

The next morning, after a quick sight-seeing tour around the bookstores of San Francisco, I was on another plane, this time heading for Phoenix, Arizona.

The World Horror Convention 2004, although slightly smaller than usual, was still a very enjoyable event. Chairman Mike Willmoth and his staff went out of their way to ensure that all the guests were made to feel very welcome. The Embassy Suites hotel is set around a huge oval outdoor swimming pool, and although I eventually managed to catch up on my sleep, I soon found myself suffering from pollen allergies in the desert heat.

On Saturday, April 10th, Del Howison and his son Scott from Dark Delicacies, set up the signing table in the hotel lobby with the now slightly tatty promotional material and twinkling Halloween lights. In a brilliant stroke of marketing genius, Del had scheduled the signing opposite the free "Happy Hour" in the hotel bar across from us!

British author Ramsey Campbell, Canadian writer Nancy Kilpatrick and myself signed solidly for more than an hour. This time, with each book sold, Del and Scott were giving away a set of two illustrated bookmarks autographed by everyone who attended the signings so far, plus Neil Gaiman and Randy Broecker (both of whom I had caught up with earlier).

We sold out of every copy (almost forty!) of The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories Del had brought with him. And at least this time I didn't have to answer any questions afterwards!

(The following day, one of the Robinson showcards, signed by all the contributors, sold at a charity auction for an incredible $75.00.)
Photo © 2004 Mandy Slater
The original Still crazy after nearly twenty years: The original "Splatterpunks"—Craig Spector, Richard Christian Matheson, John Skipp and David J. Schow—are reunited at The Mammoth Book of Vampires signing at Dark Delicacies

I stayed on in Phoenix for a few extra days after the convention was finished before flying to Los Angeles, where I was signing at Dark Delicacies itself on Saturday, April 17th. I had signed at the store several times before, and it always seems to turn into a party when I am there. This time was no different.

Meanwhile, I had failed to get Harlan Ellison to sign the sheets when he abruptly cancelled out of our dinner date before flying off to the Nebula Awards, but Del had managed to inveigle Clive Barker to sign the set that he was carrying.

Dark Delicacies is my favourite genre bookstore in the world. Run by Del and his wife Sue, it is an Aladdin's cave of new and used books, magazines, DVDs and toys. I can always find stuff to buy there when I'm visiting.

As usual, this was an afternoon signing, and Del and Sue had thoughtfully put out a tub of iced beers and soft drinks, along with a selection of snacks (which were then added to by some of the customers). Dennis Etchison, Nancy Holder, David J. Schow, Richard Christian Matheson and I signed for around three hours, and amongst the friends and colleagues who dropped by were screenwriter Peter Atkins, authors John Skipp, Craig Spector, Arthur Byron Cover and George Clayton Johnson, and poet Donald Sidney-Fryer. James O'Barr, creator of The Crow, just happened to be in the store at the same time and joined in the festivities.

The Mammoth Book of Vampires edited by Stephen Jones
Cover by Les Edwards
The remaining publicity material lasted out the afternoon, but I decided to leave it behind at the end of the day. It had achieved its purpose admirably.

Not surprisingly, we sold out of every remaining copy of The Mammoth Book of Vampires that Dark Delicacies had. However, it is worth pointing out that they will be getting some more copies of the American edition in soon and that they still have forty sets of the exclusive bookplates left, signed by Clive Barker, Sydney J. Bounds, Randy Broecker, Ramsey Campbell, Basil Copper, Les Edwards, Dennis Etchison, Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Holder, Stephen Jones, Nancy Kilpatrick, Tanith Lee, Brian Lumley, Richard Christian Matheson, Paul McAuley, Kim Newman, Tina Rath, David J. Schow, Michael Marshall Smith and Brian Stableford.

For more information you can contact them on darkdel@darkdel.com or telephone (818) 556-6660 in the USA. But be quick—I don't expect those bookplates will last for very long.

After the signing, everybody moved on to the local Mexican restaurant and bar, where we partied away the next six hours.
Photo © 1994 Mandy Slater
James O'Barr (creator of The Crow), Stephen Jones, and The Crow scriptwriter David J. Schow at Dark Delicacies James O'Barr (creator of The Crow), Stephen Jones, and The Crow scriptwriter David J. Schow at Dark Delicacies

As I write this, two weeks after returning from Los Angeles, the whole thing still seems like a fever-dream (and I'm actually over the jet-lag now). I met many readers and collectors, most of whom were a delight to talk with, and I must thank all those contributors to the book who supported the signings and the bookplates by giving their time and effort to the tour. I must also thank Tina Rath for all her help; Stephen Wilson, Julia Kruk, Alan Beatts, Mike Willmoth and Sue and Del Howison for so superbly organising the various events; my stalwart travelling companion and photographer Mandy Slater for all her patience; Peter and Dana Atkins for being the perfect hosts (as usual); Brendan Vaughan and Claire Booker for their additional photos and last, but not least, Pete Duncan, Bruce Connal and Jennifer Wildman from Robinson Publishing for making the whole thing possible.

It just goes to show that you can sell books—even anthologies—with just a little advertising and promotion. Just imagine how many more copies publishers could shift if they actually went out of their way to publicise a new horror title!

Oh, and to those people at The Dracula Society who I upset: I'm sorry that you didn't appreciate my comments or agree with what I said; but so far as I am concerned, I still think you're idiots!

—Stephen Jones
London, May 2004.

POSTSCRIPT:

I note that The Dracula Society got its revenge. In the Summer 2004 issue of their newsletter, Voices from the Vault, there is a brief report (with a very nice photo) of the signing at The Victoria pub on April 3rd.

All the participants are pointedly thanked by name, except for me (despite the fact that I actually initiated the whole event, decorated the room, and spent more than £30.00 of my own money on drinks for the authors).

The editor also reprints an (edited version) of a private e-mail I sent to her a couple of days later, in which I asked her to apologise on my behalf to anybody who may have felt offended at the event, adding (in the section missing from the published version) that although I still stood by all my comments and opinions, I hoped any sense of outrage experienced by her members should not reflect badly on the Society itself.

When I quit the pub that evening, feeling exhausted and totally pissed off, I accidentally left my credit card behind the bar (something I"ve done before), where it was quite safe. Returning the following morning to collect it, I discovered that this editor had taken it upon herself to collect it at the end of the evening. With no idea of her address or a weekend contact number, and having heard nothing from her all day, I was forced to fly out on the American trip the following day without it.

It's nice to see that my forgetfulness is used for comedy effect in The Dracula Society's little magazine. Maybe they actually do have a sense of humour after all . . . ?

—Stephen Jones
July, 2004.

Copyright © Stephen Jones 2004. All rights reserved.

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