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We had a most delightful review in the West Sussex Gazette today. In fact, it was so lovely, I shall quote from it extensively:

IF YOU like your comedy as dark and bitter as the purest black chocolate then In The Gloaming will be just to your taste.

For there are no taboos in this Gothic-horror style hour of comedy at the Arundel Jailhouse – and TV’s Tales of the Unexpected seem tame in comparison.

The one-man show at the Arundel Festival, written and performed by the genius that is Nathaniel Tapley, is rich with black humour – but so strong that many maiden aunts, and even some who are a little worldly wise, might find themselves shocked into an early grave.
It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Death is a recurring theme as Mr Tapley relives some of his finest monthly podcasts which have won a cult following on the internet and beyond.

But religion, politics, murder, and perversion of all types have the spotlight shone upon them as Mr Tapley recalls ghosts of the past to narrate their shocking tales.

Mr Tapley is an extraordinarily skilled actor and polished writer with a gimlet wit – but unlike many comedians there is nothing reassuringly safe about his material.

Michael McIntyre he is not.”

That’s what you’re missing, those of you who have not already come. Tickets are still available for Friday’s performance, which is at 7pm in the Arundel Jailhouse. Tickets cost £6.

In other news, the script for the next podcast is being polished, and as soon as we have all of our performers back from the gaping maw of Edinburgh, we shall go into the studio to record our next episode. Apologies to all for the wait, but we hope you’ll really think it’s worth it.

We’re also finalists for the Parsec Awards in the two categories in which we were nominated, and shall be making an extra special announcement in the next week or so that should really send a chill up your spine…

Thank you all for your support, and sweet, sweet screams…

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On August 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 27th, In The Gloaming will be performing live in Arundel’s haunted gaols. The West Sussex Gazette, which has seen an excerpt, says that the show s bound to be one of the highlights of the festival, and they’re right.

Tickets cost £6, and the show starts at 7:00pm. It’s all new In The Gloaming material, and it would be lovely to see you all there. The Arundel Jailhouse is a set of haunted dungeons that used to house the town’s gaol. To book the tickets, or find out more about the Arundel Jailhouse, Ghost Experience and Festival, please click here.

‘The Eleventh Day’ is a perfectly nasty little story, and one I urge you to track down immediately. I first read it just before Christmas, and it has festered at the back of my mind for half a year. I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely rid of it…

In terms of setup, it’s one of the more sparse that we’ve looked at in this series. Two people get stuck in a lift. That’s it. It does, however, what all good horror should do, in that it takes an awful situation, and makes you feel the reality of it right down to your marrow. This isn’t two people stuck in a lift. This is you stuck in a lift.

The horror is ratcheted up with expert precision. As days pass without help appearing, Fowler takes us on gut-wrenching journey through hope, disgust, and despair. All in the space of a few thousand words.

As well as a trip through a horrible situation, the story also contains meditations on loneliness, the isolations of urban living, and love. It ends with a moment that comes like a kick to the abdomen, and one I hadn’t anticipated at all. It will leave you drained, spent, probably not in the mood for any more short stories for a little while… Until you read it back, knowing what you do at the end.

‘The Eleventh Day’ is a terrible, awful, wicked story, but it is also a desperately romantic one. Along with the cynicism and weariness of the modern world is a hope, a belief in true love, and a wonder at humanity (although no faith in it). It’s a wonderful story, and another to add to my collection of ones I would love to adapt for In The Gloaming.

With his story ‘The Stretch’ being one of the highlights of the BFS Yearbook, Christopher Fowler has given us two great stories in the last year. ‘The Eleventh Day’ can be found in Black Static #14, a back issue that can be ordered from their website. Black Static is a great magazine: do consider taking out a subscription, the fiction is almost uniformly excellent (and the same is true of its sister science-fiction magazine, Interzone).

If you do buy issue #14, you’ll find the first-ever mention of In The Gloaming in print, as we got a namecheck in the ‘White Noise’ news section of the magazine.

(Christopher Fowler’s blog is also well-worth reading. Add it to your RSS feeds now…)

Some of you may be feeling a little peeved about now.

Some of you may have realised that’s it’s been two months since our last episode, and there hasn’t been a sniff of a new one.

So, here’s what’s going on. The next episode ‘Long Lamkin’ is waiting to be made, but we’re not going to make it just yet. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) We’ve been waiting to hear back from some exciting guest stars. At present, we don’t have enough subscribers. We don’t have enough subscribers to let us find a sponsor, so one of the ways in which we will try to get more people’s attention and attract new subscribers is by having slightly bigger names involved in the podcasts.

2) I’d like to start paying people for their time. All of the actors give up their time, Raoul gives us both his time and his studio. I’m very proud of the quality of the podcasts we’ve been able to make so far, but am really aware that asking people to give their time and talent for free forever isn’t going to work.

It takes about 160-170 person-hours to make an episode, from script through to the final edit. If we want to give In The Gloaming a secure, long-term future, that’s what I have to find a way to fund.

I’ve got a number of ideas as to how we can give people something for their time, cover their travel costs, show how much we value them (none of which involve charging for the podcasts – I’m adamant that they should remain free), but all of them will require a little administration, so please bear with us if they take a little time to set up.

So, here’s what you can do to hurry ‘Long Lamkin’ along. One of our biggest problems is simply that our reach isn’t as far as it should be. In the month of May we had about 2,300 subscribers, which is good – but not good enough.

We’ll start making the next episode as soon as the following happens: I hear back from any of our guest stars (nothing you can do about that); OR we hit 3,000 subscribers; OR we’re able to self-fund the next episode (when I’ve arranged ways for us to do that).

So, the big thing I can do for now is to work on ways we can fund In The Gloaming (I need to get the CDs up for sale, for instance, or start auctioning off any review copies of books I get sent for the Gloaming Reviews, etc).

The big thing you can do is to get all of your friends to listen. Burn them to CDs, copy them onto USB sticks, play them at state funerals and sports grounds, do whatever you can to get people to subscribe. Hitting 3,000 is well within our reach, and with your help we can get there. As soon as the counter ticks over 3,000 I’ll hustle people into the studio for another half-hour of horrory filth.

Sorry you haven’t had it yet, but I thought I should be up front about the reasons for our having been a little tardy, and be honest about the ways in which you can help, if you’re so minded.

Thanks again, and we look forward to gloaming for you very soon…

(Oh – and there’s an ultra-exciting thing I want to tell you all but can’t yet. It’s humongous. It’s amazing news. You’re going to freak… Sweet screams…)

We’ve been nominated for a couple of Parsec Awards, which will be presented at Dragon*Con in September. This is hugely gratifying and almost – but not quite – makes us feel a little better at the bizarre behaviour of the Sony Radio Academy in failing to even nominate us for one of their awards.

They thought Richard Herring was better. And Andy Zaltzman. And a podcast about Hackney. Not that we’re in the slightest bitterly plotting their downfall. Oh no…

On the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 27th August, we’re going to be performing in the infamous Ghost Experience at Arundel Festival. This will be a unique opportunity to see the In The Gloaming cast up close and personal, performing a mix of new and old material in a ghastly venue. Not to be missed…

First, I should make clear that We Fade To Grey was sent to me for free, after I reviewed one of the stories in it: ‘The Narrows’ by Simon Bestwick. Given how spectacular I thought that story I was, I had no hesitation in agreeing to review the rest of the book. However, if you think my judgement might seriously be clouded by £7.99’s worth of free book, look away now.

I should probably also mention that I had the pleasure of meeting some of the authors involved, and the publisher, at the World Horror Convention. I liked them. They’re nice people. Again, this perhaps puts me in the realms of the hideously corrupt, drawn by my twisted morals into a twilight world where values like truth, honesty, and virtue have lost all meaning. It may well make me a fundamentally lost scrap of 21st-century flotsam, adrift in a relativist ocean of competing philosophies, the only connection between which is their ability to satisfy my selfish desires. I am a human ring-tone.

Still. I liked the book.

The Introduction, from Mark Morris, gives a helpful overview not just of the book itself, but also of the state of the industry. It whets our appetite for what we are about to read, and reminds us why it is important. I was feeling mightily aggrieved and vengeful by the end of it, always the sign of a good Introduction.

The stories are from Paul Finch, Stuart Young, Gary McMahon, Mark West, and Simon Bestwick. They are almost-uniformly excellent: well-written, chilling, and utterly, utterly depressing.

The collection as a whole feels, in the best possible way, grim. No one gets out of it alive. Or at least, if they do, they’re bleeding heavily. The horrors range from the exceedingly visceral to the nebulous and haunting.  Despite the range of imagery, however, there is a certain unity to the feel of the stories. They all seem steeped in grief, or despair, and are truly heart-rending in places.

It’s a book, sodden with grey pizzle, that will come into your house, and drip sullenly on your doormat. It will give you a baleful look, shove past you into your kitchen and start to make a cup of tea in a chipped Royal Wedding mug. Not one of the good ones, either. Andrew and Fergie, probably…

Only one of the stories didn’t really work for me, and I suspect that that one would have, had I encountered it in a different anthology. It is one that’s slightly thematically out of place, and whilst it fizzes and pops with ideas and vitality, it seems to be an uncomfortable bedfellow for the rest of the stories in the book.

This, then, is an excellent anthology. It’s a dreadful romp through the back-corners of the mind from some of the most exciting British writers in the field today. Ah yes, British… That much is unmistakable.

It’s redolent of Britain in all the right ways: its despair at the modern world; its grief for a better past; its tawdry, rain-filled heartbreaks. This is British horror, and a great book, from an exciting small press.

We Fade To Grey is available from Pendragon Press, priced £7.99.

When Dipak tore off his arm, no one made fun of him. He walked out in front of the school, leaving a blocked toilet and a pile of clothes. No one shouted. No one stole his bag. No one put chalk dust in his hair, shouting: “White enough now!”

It wasn’t just his arm. It started as a patch of hard skin just above his BCG scar. He felt it under his shirt all through maths. At lunchtime he went to the changing rooms.

He had to dig around with his nails to get any real purchase, but it didn’t hurt any more than a scab or a wobbly tooth, when he started to pull. A strip peeled off with a delicious slide. First one strip, then another. If he didn’t go too fast he could get a whole arm-length in one pull, until it popped off at a fingernail.

He bolted himself inside a toilet when the bell rang. Half way through a leg he heard the clatter of rugby boots. Someone might see his trousers under the cubicle. Might take them. For fun. He was as still as he could be. Being nobody.

“You’ve got to be a somebody! The best! You must stand out.” Every night his father said the same thing. “Your name means light! You must cast your light!” He’d go mad when he found out Dipak had been skipping violin lessons.

In his damp office, Mr Reeves’ chat on how Dipak was settling in was just a watery smile, and: “That won’t last. The other boys will realise we’re all the same under our skin, eh?”

Dipak doubted that. Not everyone else was translucent. He looked in the mirror as he did his face, peeling the rubbery strips down his nose. Under it he was see-through, slightly blue, like a jellyfish or that stuff they put on his mum at her scan.

At the last bell Dipak, skin-free, heat haze where his shadow had been, walked out in front of the school. No one shoved him and no one gave him a dead leg and no one snickered. No one noticed him at all.

Beaming, he tried to yank the car door open. His parents were inside, still proud to see him walk out of those ancient buildings. The door was locked.

Dipak knocked on the window. Neither moved. He banged again, louder. His father brushed a non-existent fly from the side of his face.

“Hey! Dad! Dad!” Dipak shouted, “Mum!” Neither was taking any notice. It occurred to Dipak as he began to scream that no one was taking any notice.

With a twitch, his parents looked at each other. Like they couldn’t work out why they had come. His father said, “Maybe one day.” He patted his wife’s belly and started the car.

They drove away with a new light in their eyes, and Dipak cried and cried and cried, and no one made fun of him at all.

This story was originally entered for the Campaign for Real Fear.