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2011 News

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November 2011

LES DANIELS (1943-2011)

Picture © 1994 John L. Coker, III
Stephen Jones and Les Daniels, World Fantasy Convention 1994, New Orleans
Stephen Jones and Les Daniels, World Fantasy Convention 1994, New Orleans

I first met Les Daniels at a World Fantasy Convention. I can't remember which one now, but it was most probably the 1979 event held in his home town of Providence, Rhode Island, a year after The Black Castle, his first novel about the enigmatic vampire-hero Don Sebastian de Villanueva, was published.

Les was a multi-tasker—novelist, short story author, freelance music writer and reviewer, composer, film buff and musician, playing banjo and singing with such bluegrass-folk groups as Soop, Snake and The Snatch; The Swamp Steppers; The Local Yokels, and Dr. Daniels and Mr. Lee.

I already had a copy of Les' critical study Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media on my shelves, and over the next few years I added his oversized anthology Dying of Fright: Masterpieces of the Macabre, illustrated by the incomparable Lee Brown Coye, along with further volumes in the de Villanueva series.

Picture © 1999 Beth Gwinn
Les Daniels, Mandy Slater, Stephen Jones and Peter Atkins, World Fantasy Convention 1999, Providence, Rhode Island
Les Daniels, Mandy Slater, Stephen Jones and Peter Atkins, World Fantasy Convention 1999, Providence, Rhode Island

Although we invariably only saw each other occasionally at World Fantasy Conventions, we became friends. Despite money always being tight for him, I convinced Les to come to London for the 1988 WFC—a trip that inspired his World Fantasy Award-nominated story 'The Little Green Ones'—and again for the one in 1997. Knowing of our mutual love for such things, he sent me a book about American Spook Shows as a thank-you for my birthday.

While I was attending the Bram Stoker Awards in New York, he came into the city just to see me, and I finally got to visit his subterranean cavern-like apartment while in Providence for the 1999 WFC. As expected, it was an Aladdin's Cave of cool memorabilia.

In the mid-1990s, when I was editing the Raven Books imprint for Robinson Publishing, I was delighted to introduce British readers to the centuries-spanning de Villanueva saga with The Don Sebastian Chronicles (an omnibus containing the novels The Black Castle, The Silver Skull and Citizen Vampire), Yellow Fog and No Blood Spilled, all with distinctive covers by Les Edwards.

Regrettably, so far as I am aware, he never completed the often-announced sixth volume in the series, White Demon.

Picture © 1997 Beth Gwinn
Stephen Jones and Les Daniels, London 1997
Stephen Jones and Les Daniels, London 1997
Picture © 1999 Stephen Jones
In Les' bathroom with his favourite photo of Ingrid Pitt (signed to him), Providence, Rhode Island, November 1999
In Les' bathroom with his favourite photo of Ingrid Pitt (signed to him), Providence, Rhode Island, November 1999

Les contributed an essay on Matthew Gregory Lewis' The Monk to Horror: 100 Best Books, edited by myself and Kim Newman, and I also used his short stories in such anthologies as The Mammoth Book of Vampires, Dark Voices 4 and 5, Best New Horror 4, The Mammoth Book of Werewolves, The Giant Book of Terror and Dark Terrors 5. His short fiction output was not extensive, otherwise I would probably have included more.

Although his first book had been the non-fiction study Comix: A History of Comic Books in America in 1971, it took another twenty years before Les found recognition as an expert in the comics field with meticulously researched histories of Marvel and DC Comics, along with heavily-illustrated volumes devoted to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Published in a variety of handsome and expensive formats, he often lamented to me that he made very little money out of these work-for-hire projects.

Despite his often lugubrious expression, Les had a dry humour and a keen wit. He was a perceptive cultural analyst and a terrific horror fiction writer who never produced enough stories or novels to make his work a commercial.

Somehow he managed to survive mostly by writing reviews, and his premature death from a heart attack robs us of any further works showcasing his keen insights and superior supernatural fiction.

Picture © 1993 Stephen Jones
Les Daniels, 35th Anniversary Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention, Arlington, Virginia, May 1993
Les Daniels, 35th Anniversary Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention, Arlington, Virginia, May 1993

—Stephen Jones
November 10, 2011

October 2011

ZOMBIE COCKTAILS!

Picture © 2011 Mandy Slater
Ilsa J. Bick & Stephen Jones, ASHES launch, 17.10.11
Ilsa J. Bick & Stephen Jones, ASHES launch, 17.10.11

On October 17th I had the pleasure of introducing American author Ilsa J. Bick at a party to mark the launch of her acclaimed new YA zombie apocalypse novel Ashes at an appropriately spooky basement bar in London. Hosted by her UK publisher, Quercus, it was also entirely appropriate that zombie cocktails were served to the assembled guests.

—Stephen Jones

FANTASYCON 2011

Picture © 2011 Mandy Slater
The legendary Brian Aldiss with Stephen Jones at FantasyCon, Brighton, October 1st, 2011
The legendary Brian Aldiss with Stephen Jones at FantasyCon, Brighton, October 1st, 2011.

August 2011

JIMMY SANGSTER (1927-2011)

Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster died on August 19, aged 83. His scripts for The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula (aka Horror of Dracula), The Revenge of Frankenstein and The Mummy ushered in the era of Hammer horror in the late 1950s. I only met him once—at the launch of the Royal Mail's set of Hammer stamps in 2006—but I found him charming and gracious, and he generously signed a number of items I had brought along, including a U.S. half-sheet of The Man Who Could Cheat Death. I grew up watching the films and television he wrote, and it is no overstatement to say that his work helped shape my own love of horror.

—Stephen Jones

July 2011

SUMMERTIME...

...and the living is easy. So at the end of July we decided to have a barbeque at Jones Mansions. Here are some of the photos that we can show you...

Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Les Edwards, Johnny Mains, Stephen Jones and Robert Shearman put their best feet forward
Les Edwards, Johnny Mains, Stephen Jones and Robert Shearman put their best feet forward
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Michael Marshall Smith plays the fool while Stephen Jones does all the work as usual
Michael Marshall Smith plays the fool while Stephen Jones does all the work as usual
Photo © 2011 Johnny Mains
Paula Grainger, Peter Coleborn and Val Edwards
Paula Grainger, Peter Coleborn and Val Edwards
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Sandra Sutton
Sandra Sutton
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Stephen Jones and a tipsy David Sutton
Stephen Jones and a tipsy David Sutton
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Paul McAuley
Paul McAuley
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Georgina Hawtry-Woore
Georgina Hawtry-Woore
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Michael Marshall Smith, Paula Grainger and their son, Nate
Michael Marshall Smith, Paula Grainger and their son, Nate
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Michael Marshall Smith and Johnny Mains
Michael Marshall Smith and Johnny Mains

VISITNG WITH BASIL COPPER

In July, I had the great pleasure of visiting my old friend Basil Copper at his home in Kent. While I was there, I picked up the signature sheets for the two books we are doing with PS Publishing—the restored version of Basil's Gothic novel, The Curse of the Fleers, which will be out in 2012, and The Complete Adventures of Solar Pons. As Basil would say, a jolly time was had by all!


Photo © 2011 Mandy Slater
Stephen Jones & Basil Copper, Kent, July 2011
Stephen Jones & Basil Copper, Kent, July 2011

PHILIP J. RAHMAN: "MR. BREMER"


Philip J. Rahman & Basil Copper, London, circa late 1990s
Philip J. Rahman & Basil Copper, London, circa late 1990s

Phil Rahman published five books of mine. I can imagine no one better to have done so. From the moment that Dwayne Olson introduced us, and Phil unhesitatingly took my widowed Lovecraftian anthology Shadows Over Innsmouth (1994), we became friends as well as colleagues.

Philip was a gentle and generous person—often to a fault. He cared about other people too much and not enough about what it cost him. In the late 1980s, Phil and Dennis Weiler created the Minneapolis imprint Fedogan & Bremer to do the kind of books that they felt Arkham House should still be publishing. Over the next sixteen years they produced a number of attractive and important volumes by Donald Wandrei, Howard Wandrei, Carl Jacobi, Robert Bloch, Hugh B. Cave, Basil Copper, Richard L. Tierney, Brian Lumley, Richard A. Lupoff and Adam Niswander, along with a series of Lovecraftian anthologies edited by Robert M. Price. Several of their books went into reprint and mass-market editions, and some were award winners and nominees.

Following our initial collaboration, I worked again with F&B on the Karl Edward Wagner tribute collection Exorcisms and Ecstasies (1997), The Vampire Stories of R. Chetwynd-Hayes (1997), and the anthology Dark Detectives: Adventures of the Supernatural Sleuths (1999). Our last project together, Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth (2005), I did in the hope that it would help re-start the F&B list. It was not a happy experience for either of us, and although Philip did his usual conscientious job of putting the book together and launching it, it was obvious that his heart was no longer in it. By this time a number of upheavals and tragedies in his personal life were beginning to take their toll on his health and his business. Things only got worse over the next few years.


The Fedogan Boys—Dwayne H. Olson, Philip J. Rahman, Scott F.Wyatt & Stephen Jones
The Fedogan Boys—Dwayne H. Olson, Philip J. Rahman, Scott F.Wyatt & Stephen Jones
Photo © 2003
Philip Rahman, Hugh B  Cave, Stephen Jones and Dwayne H  Olson at the 3rd Annual Windy City Pulp  Paperback Convention, April 2003, Lincolnwood Illinois
Philip Rahman, Hugh B Cave, Stephen Jones and Dwayne H Olson at the 3rd Annual Windy City Pulp Paperback Convention, April 2003, Lincolnwood Illinois

We would usually meet up at World Fantasy Convention and, occasionally, at other gatherings (I believe that Philip was directly responsible for me being Guest of Honour at Arcana in Minnesota in 2005). The last time I saw him was at the World Fantasy Convention in Austin, Texas, the following year. Philip spent most of the convention sitting at the bar, drinking to forget those personal demons that finally destroyed him.

He was a kind man with a kind soul who was treated unfairly by life.

—Stephen Jones

June 2011

THE GEMMELL AWARDS 2011

In a busy June, it was off to The Third Annual David Gemmell Legend Awards, held on the evening of June 17th at the fabulous Magic Circle Headquarters, a stone's throw from London's Euston Station. Surrounded by magic posters and memorabilia, organisers Stan Nicholls and Anne Gay, supported by sponsors Bragelonne and SFX Magazine, put on a wonderfully classy event—from the champagne welcome party to the after-awards buffet. James Barclay kept the auction moving, before the presentation of The Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art, The Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer and The Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Among those attending were Peter Coleborn, Ian Dury, Les Edwards, Jan Edwards, Jo Fletcher (who won the bid to attend her previous employer's 50th anniversary party!), Barry Forshaw, Stephane Marsan, Juliet McKenna, Kim Newman, Charlie Panayiotou, Sarah Pinborough, Gillian Redfearn, Mandy Slater, Simon Spanton, Anne Sudworth and Ian Whates.

Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Stephen Jones and Barry Forshaw
Stephen Jones and Barry Forshaw
Photo © 2011 Peter Coleborn
Stephen Jones and Jo Fletcher
Stephen Jones and Jo Fletcher
Photo © 2011 Mandy Slater
Stephen Jones and Sarah Pinborough
Stephen Jones and Sarah Pinborough
Photo © 2011 Mandy Slater
Stephen Jones, Sarah Pinborough, Kim Newman and Les Edwards
Stephen Jones, Sarah Pinborough, Kim Newman and Les Edwards

THE LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE: STOKE NEWINGTON RESIDENT

On June 4, Stephen Jones was off to Stoke Newington Town Hall, where he appeared on a panel about the works and enduring influence of Edgar Allan Poe—a resident of the area when he was a boy. The panel consisted of Kim Newman, Steve, moderator Barry Forshaw, Pat Cadigan, Nicholas Royle and Christopher Fowler.

Photo © 2011 The Flicker Club
Poe Panel: Pat Cadigan, Peter Fawn, Stephen Jones, Kim Newman, Christopher Fowler, Barry Forshaw and Nicholas Royle
Poe Panel: Pat Cadigan, Peter Fawn, Stephen Jones, Kim Newman, Christopher Fowler, Barry Forshaw and Nicholas Royle
Photo © 2011 The Flicker Club
Clive Perrott introduces the panel
Clive Perrott introduces the panel

Organised by the exuberant Clive Perott and other members of The Flicker Club (www.theflickerclub.com) as part of the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, the large hall was decorated with rare book and film memorabilia on loan from Peter Fawn, the founder of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Prague.

Following the panel discussion, there was a video screening of The Tell-Tale Heart, after which director and star Steven Berkoff came on stage to talk about his one-man show and the influence of Poe, before answering some questions from the audience.

Then it was a short walk down the High Street to The Fox Reformed—the original site of the school that Poe attended when he lived in London—where a crowd had gathered to watch the slightly scary Steven Berkoff unveil a bust of the author high up on the front wall of the pub. Then everybody retired to the pub's small back garden, where refreshments were served for the rest of the afternoon.

Photo © 2011 The Flicker Club
Kim Newman, Stephen Jones and Barry Forshaw
Kim Newman, Stephen Jones and Barry Forshaw
Photo © 2011 Paul McAuley
on the High Street outside of The Fox Reformed
The High Street outside of The Fox Reformed
Photo © 2011 Paul McAuley
Poe bust affixed to the outside wall of The Fox Reformed
Poe bust affixed to the outside wall of The Fox Reformed

BFS OPEN NIGHT

And so to the British Fantasy Society's Open Night on June 3 at a new venue—the excellent Mug House wine bar near London Bridge Station. Brian Stableford and Joe Hill were the special guests, and among those also attending were Sarah Pinborough, Robert Shearman, Les Edwards, Adam Nevill, Mark Samuels and Johnny Mains.

Photo © 2011 Mandy Slater
Les Edwards, Joe Hill and Stephen Jones with The Very Best of Best New Horror at the British Fantasy Society's Open Night, 3 June 2011
Les Edwards, Joe Hill and Stephen Jones with The Very Best of Best New Horror at the British Fantasy Society's Open Night, 3 June 2011
Photo © 2011 Mandy Slater
Johnny Mains, Joe Hill and Stephen Jones at the British Fantasy Society's Open Night, 3 June 2011
Johnny Mains, Joe Hill and Stephen Jones at the British Fantasy Society's Open Night, 3 June 2011

May 2011

REMEMBERING C. BRUCE HUNTER

I have just learned that my friend, North Carolina writer C. Bruce Hunter [Jr.], died from a heart attack at UNC-Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill, on November 13, 2009. He was 65 and buried in Asheville, where his family was from.

A former teacher and journalist, Bruce was heavily involved in the Masonic fraternity, publishing a number of books on the subject, including Masonic Dictionary (1996), Beneath the Stone: The Story of Masonic Secrecy (1999), Inner Workings: The Origin and Meaning of the Master's Word (2002), Masques of Solomon: The Origin of the Third Degree (2003), The Legacy of the Sacred Chalice (with Andrew C. Ferguson, 2003) and More Inner Working (2004).

David Sutton and I published his series of humorously macabre "Travelling Salesman" stories in Fantasy Tales, The Anthology of Fantasy & the Supernatural, Dark Voices 6, and Dark Terrors: The Gollancz Book of Horror. His other short fiction appeared in Amazing Stories, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Whispers, Other Worlds 2 and Dark Terrors 5.

Bruce knew all the Chapel Hill writers—Karl Edward Wagner, David Drake, Manly and Frances Wellman—and it was he who found Karl's body when he went to check on his old friend.

Bruce was an extraordinarily kind and generous man who had a bone-dry sense of humour, which he would always test out on me during his annual phone-call at Christmas. I shall miss him, as will his other friends.

—Stephen Jones

Photo © 1987 Stephen Jones
Heidi Saha, C. Bruce Hunter and Jo Fletcher at the 1987 World Fantasy Convention, Nashville, Tennessee
Heidi Saha, C. Bruce Hunter and Jo Fletcher at the 1987 World Fantasy Convention, Nashville, Tennessee

Reception for Conan the Barbarian

The Complete Chronicles of Conan editor Stephen Jones and illustrator Les Edwards were invited to a Lionsgate Films reception in London on May 10 to meet actor Jason Momoa, who portrays Robert E. Howard's Cimmerian warrior in the new Conan the Barbarian movie this August.

Photo © 2011 Lionsgate Films
Stephen Jones, Jason Momoa, Les Edwards
Stephen Jones, Jason Momoa, Les Edwards
Photo © 2011 Lionsgate Films
Jason Momoa, Les Edwards, Stephen Jones
Jason Momoa, Les Edwards, Stephen Jones

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