GUEST POST: STEPHEN LAWS ON CHARLES L. GRANT

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I first met Charles L Grant at a Fantasycon (my first), more than 25 years ago. I suspect it might have been the very same convention that Mark Morris has referred to in his tribute to Charlie. I was already aware of other writers’ appreciation of his work, and had been reading and collecting for some time before that event. So it was with some trepidation that I approached him at one of the convention’s events and asked if he’d sign a copy of my treasured THE HOUR OF THE OXRUN DEAD. He was delighted, and when I asked if he was a Val Lewton fan (since I’d sensed trace elements in his work) his response was: “Are you kidding? Of COURSE I’m a Val Lewton fan. I wouldn’t be doing this now if it wasn’t for the likes of him!” When he asked me what name he should inscribe in the proffered novel, and I replied ‘Stephen Laws’ – he looked straight at me and said: “The author of ‘Ghost Train’?” The loud clang that echoed around the room was my jaw hitting the floor. That someone who I considered a master of his craft should have any idea about my own work was something that left me stunned. By that time, my third novel had been published – but I still considered myself a very minor player compared to someone as talented as Charles L. Grant. We remained friends thereafter. (Here’s a photograph from The World Fantasy Convention of 1990.)

for-neil-charles-l-grant-stephen-gallagher-stephen-laws-and-joe-lansdale

From left to right: Charles L. Grant, Stephen Gallagher, Stephen Laws and Joe Lansdale

 

My second personal story comes from an event that took place some months ago, and at just around the time Neil Snowdon and I were formulating our society ‘Novocastria Macabre’ – one key aspect of which would be to honour and highlight the work of the ‘great names’ in the horror genre who were no longer with us. Charles L. Grant was one of the key writers we discussed. My wife Melanie and I were at Camden Lock in London, browsing the stalls down by the canal, and we’d just found an excellent second hand bookshop. Mel tapped me on the shoulder: “Look,” she said. “A Charlie Grant novel. Have you got this one?”

thesoundofmidnightIt was THE SOUND OF MIDNIGHT. (Popular Library paperback, New York: 1978 – “A pack of children more horrifying than CARRIE”).

“God, no I haven’t!” I replied, grabbing it up. I opened it – and discovered to my amazement that – it was signed by Charles L. Grant himself…

Given what I’d been discussing just recently with Neil, I felt that Charlie’s hand had reached out across the void and patted me gently on the shoulder.

Truly one of the horror genre ‘greats’, it’s difficult to know what to recommend to those who have yet to experience the joy of Charlie’s fiction – but I’d certainly go along with the other recommendations that have already been made (TALES FROM THE NIGHT SIDE, THE HOUR OF THE OXRUN DEAD, etc) But if you can get your hands on a copy of SCREAM QUIETLY (containing short fiction, interviews and articles edited by Stephen Jones) you just couldn’t go wrong!

(C) 2016 Stephen Laws.

Stephen Laws is a full-time novelist, born in Newcastle upon Tyne. Married, with three children, he lives and works in his birthplace. The author of 11 novels, numerous short stories, (collected in THE MIDNIGHT MAN) columnist, reviewer, film-festival interviewer, pianist and recipient of a number of awards, Stephen Laws recently wrote and starred in the short horror movie THE SECRET. He his the co-founder, with Neil Snowdon, of NOVOCASTRIA MACABRE a society for genre based film and literary events in Newcastle and the North East Of England. Find out more about his work HERE.

FIND ALL OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CHARLES L. GRANT BLOG-A-THON HERE!

GUEST POST: GARY FRY ON CHARLES L. GRANT

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A bolt to the back-brain: an idiosyncratic recollection of Charles L Grant

About 30 years ago I read a story by Charles L Grant, and you know what? I can’t remember in which volume I found it, let alone the tale’s title. But that’s perhaps less important than the impact it had – and still has – upon me.

Let me detail what little I can recall of the plot. It’s about a young adult (what we used to call teenagers, folks, before marketing casually reinvented our language) who’s suffering all the usual existential travails of growing up. But then he makes a disturbing discovery. In his family’s garden shed, he finds his parents conducting secret rituals as a way of controlling his life.

That’s it. That’s my recollection. It’s not much, is it? It might even seem disrespectful to discuss such a shamefully un-researched memory here. But this is actually the point I want to make. With literature, the details are not always that important. It’s the takeaway message, the indelible stamp in one’s mind, which surely matters more.

Grant troubled me with this story. Deeply. I think it’s because, at the time, I was a similar age to his protagonist and beginning to grow aware of how the social world functioned, with parental influence a powerful shaper of how life looks and how one is equipped to handle it habitually. We’re all products of our social milieus, and familial tradition, with all its emotional landscapes, is always a key determinant of character. Of course I can discuss such issues now with this sort of descriptive vocabulary, but back then, in my teens, I had nothing with which to get to grips with them.

Except for literature, that is. And Grant’s powerfully subversive tale of parental manipulation sent a bolt to my back-brain, a wakeup call to my uninformed self, which, after much more reading across a range of fields (including psychology), I eventually came to terms with, and even freed myself from.

I guess what I’m saying is that some writers – and Grant was clearly one – can touch on universal travails with such a clarity of vision and refinement of technique that their work often becomes a route-map for future personal development and self-understanding. I’m not about to say that my own parents conducted occult rituals in our back garden as a way of ensuring that I never embarrassed the family or did what they perceived to be beyond the pale. It was all a lot subtler and more innocent than that. Nevertheless, the horror genre’s capacity to explore such troubling issues in exaggerated, hyper-real ways is one of its central qualities, a way of driving such messages deep down.

Grant was obviously a master of this kind of material, and I’ll always be grateful to him for writing that tale. You, reading this, might even know what the title of the story is and where I can find it, but you know what? I’m not sure I need to know. I have it right here, in my head until I die. And I needn’t ask for any more from any artist.

(C) Gary Fry 2016

Gary Fry has a first-class degree and a PhD in psychology, though his first love is literature. He lives in Dracula’s Whitby, literally around the corner from where Bram Stoker was staying while thinking about that legendary character. Gary has had a number of books published, including short story collections, novellas and novels. His first collection included an introduction by Ramsey Campbell in which Gary was described as a “master”. Find him online HERE.

FIND ALL THE OTHER POSTS IN THE CHARLES L. GRANT BLOG-A-THON HERE!

GUEST POST: GARY MCMAHON ON CHARLES L. GRANT

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Charles L. Grant: The Shadow Man

I’ve never met Charles L. Grant, but let me tell you about the first time I met Charles L. Grant…

grant2Currently, as background for this piece, I’m re-reading Grant’s classic short story collection Tales from the Nightside. If you haven’t read any of his work, I’d suggest this book is the perfect place to start.

The first time I read this collection, I was probably in my late teens – certainly no older than twenty-one. For me, it was one of those watershed moments, a book that made me sit up and appreciate the craft at a deeper level than I ever had done before, and it remains one of my favourite collections of short fiction.

This was one of those books that started a little fire in my soul.

I think I probably picked it up – as I did with so many books back then – because Stephen King had mentioned it in his book Danse Macabre. As I’m sure a lot of people did, I used the index pages of that book as a reading list. There was a scruffy little second-hand book shop on Hylton Road in Sunderland where I used to go; it was run by a big bearded guy who always seemed to stock copies of genre fiction that I was unable to find anywhere else. That’s where I bought my first Ramsey Campbell book, my first Dennis Etchison collection, and countless others.

No longer there in reality, it’s a place I return to often in my dreams.

I think I’d been looking for Tales from the Nightside for quite some time, and I certainly remember the excitement I experienced when I picked up that copy from the shelf. The thrill that went through my body: the electricity coursing through my veins. I’ve never felt again the way I did back then about books. It’s something that’s left me, that exquisite thrill of discovery. It was intense, almost sexual. I miss it so much.

I remember reading Stephen King’s introduction to the book and thinking I was in for something special. The first story, Coin of the Realm, confirmed this – a Twilight Zone style story that’s imbued with a deep sense of melancholy and pathos and realism. As I worked my way through the book I realised that this was one of Grant’s trademarks, along with his prose style: lyricism mixed with a pared-down style. It was wonderful. The prose, as well as the stories themselves, spoke to me somewhere deep down, where my own creativity lived.

I won’t review all the stories here (I’ll let you discover their magic on your own), but it was when I reached the story Home that I experienced the full impact of Grant’s gift. This was the one Stephen King himself had cited as one of the most terrifying stories he’d ever read (the other one being Ramsey Campbell’s The Companion, which was already a favourite of mine).

I loved the way Home started out almost like a piece of social realism, set on a modern middle-class residential street and featuring normal, everyday people. Then it takes a swerve.

That’s what they do, Grant’s tales: they take a swerve into the dark. And when it happens, it’s often breath-taking.

The swerve in Home comes about half way through the story, when the protagonist – Art – makes a drunken investigation into a neighbour’s garden and sees an empty children’s swing moving without any wind… It’s a brilliant story, juxtaposing one man’s weary suburban malaise with something else, something that comes chittering from the darkness.

The 1981 Futura edition I have features ink drawings by Andrew Smith that really compliment and capture the mood of the stories. There’s a sense of melancholy in Grant’s prose that is reflected in these drawings, and I’ve always thought they were a perfect fit with the stories.

But it’s the mood and the prose that lingers, perhaps even more than the stories themselves. Take this killer opening, for example, from the story A Night of Dark Intent:

“The moon was a ghost in the house of night. It rose from the ashes of a sunset in crimson – silent, stained, setting free the shadows that drifted slowly round its passing. Its breath was the darkwind, drawn from catacombs of chilled and chilling dust; its voice the parchment husking of solitary leaves on solitary boughs that clawed at the nightair for purchase of a soul. Few saw it without turning aside to a friend, few heard it without wishing they hadn’t known the tune.”

There’s a cadence to Grant’s prose that becomes even more apparent when you read it aloud; you can hear the music beneath the words, and that, to me, is always the sign of fine writing. Take that first line: “The moon was a ghost in the house of night.” Say it aloud. It has a singsong quality. In fact, you could almost put it to music.

To me, this is what Grant’s writing, his art, was all about. The music beneath the words, and how he made you hear it without having to stand and point and draw your attention to it. His song was quieter than most.

Charles L. Grant might be gone but the music is there.

It was always there.

And it always will be.

 

 

To finish, here’s the full table of contents from Tales from the Nightside:

Foreword, by Stephen King

Tales from Oxrun Station

  • Coin of the Realm
  • Old Friends
  • Home
  • If Damon Comes
  • A Night of Dark Intent

Tales from Hawthorne Street

  • The Gentle Passing of a Hand
  • When All the Children Call My Name
  • Needle Song
  • Something There Is

Tales from the Nightside

  • Come Dance With Me on My Pony’s Grave
  • The Three of Tens
  • Digging
  • From All the Fields of Hail and Fire
  • The Key to English
  • White Wolf Calling

 

(C) Copyright Gary McMahon 2016.
Gary McMahon is the award-winning author of several novels and numerous short stories.  Born in the Sunderland, he lives in Yorkshire with his wife and son. You can find him online HERE. As one of the finest genre authors in the UK, you need to read him.

Read all the other contributions to DANCING WITH SHADOWS: THE CHARLES L. GRANT BLOG-A-THON HERE!

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GUEST POST: TOM MONTELEONE ON CHARLES L. GRANT

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C. L., Charles, and all that Chaz…

Hard to believe, but I met Charles L. Grant forty years ago.

Things were a lot different back then. Charlie and I were what they call Young Turks. At that time, we also had more hair, fewer children, and a hell of a lot less published—mostly a handful of stories to the digest-sized magazines like Amazing and F&SF.

I met Charlie during the first “gas rationing” crunch back in the mid-Seventies. Having been invited to spend a weekend in New Jersey, I literally couldn’t get enough fuel to make a round-trip drive between Baltimore and Atlantic City. I had to go to that pre-casino town to visit an editor of science fiction anthologies by the name of Roger Elwood, who said he’d like to meet me before “assigning” me some short stories for a few of his many book projects. If there are younger readers among you who don’t remember Roger Elwood, I don’t know—maybe you’re lucky. He was well meaning, I guess, but almost single-handedly destroyed the SF anthology by flooding the market with “theme” anthologies filled with stories, which were, in the main, sub-par examples of what good SF should be. When many of Elwood’s books crashed & burned, financially as well as critically, most publishers cited this data as reason for not buying good anthologies from more competent editors.

But that’s another story for another class.

Today’s lesson is Charles “The Chaz” Grant.

So anyway, I ended up taking a Greyhound bus from Baltimore to A.C., and wasn’t that a weird and wacky ride? People who ride buses between cities are a species apart, deserving of their own sociology course, and I think this trip was the first time I realized this. Anyway, Elwood picks me up at the bus station in his Volvo station wagon, and we take a short ride to a suburb called Margate. I walk into Elwood’s house, and I see two other guys standing around the prosaically furnished living room. Roger tells me they are also being invited to write for his anthologies. I’m introduced to both of them: one is a gaunt, Semitic looking fellow, Barry Malzberg; the other is a young-ish, longhaired, handsome guy who introduces himself as Charlie Grant. I don’t recognize the name until he says he uses the byline C. L. Grant. I tell him I’d seen that name infrequently and had always assumed belonged to some middle-aged woman from someplace like Indiana. I’m sure he was real glad to hear that.

I don’t recall a lot about what we did that weekend, other than signing on up to write some stories for a grocery list of anthologies Elwood had sold, and play ping pong in his basement.  The only thing that sticks out is what a really good person this Charles Grant seemed to be. He was smart, confident, and obviously talented. We talked a lot. Laughed a lot.

It didn’t take us long to start comparing notes on our impressions of our weekend host, and it required even less time for Charlie and I to concur that Roger Elwood was certainly an intriguing, if not outright strange, character. (We were both especially taken with this painting in his office of this figure of a rather large (well, giant, actually . . . ) Jesus putting His hand on the roof of the United Nations Building.) It looked like a movie poster for a B-Movie.

We also talked about the various writing projects for which Elwood intended to recruit us, and how we might use them to further our very young careers.

But something more important also came out of that weekend:

Charlie and I became good friends.

 

Over the next few years we both worked hard at becoming fulltime writers and pretty heavy correspondents. I think what we were doing was reinforcing each other’s beliefs that yes—we were going to make it as fulltime writers, as well as becoming friends. We planned novel collaborations that never seemed to get off the ground, wrote a few short stories together, and even co-authored a daytime, occult, soap opera, which we pitched (unsuccessfully) to all the Networks. We edited anthologies (me a one-shot called The Arts and Beyond; Chaz an obscure series I think he called Shadows). And of course we wrote lots of novels.

His first one was called The Shadow of Alpha, and I don’t remember a damn thing about it (except that the “Alpha” of the title never does manage to make it onstage) and that the book was definitely sky-fie. I remember Charlie made no squawks about it—he wrote it as SF and sold it as same.

Can you believe it?

Yeah. Charlie, like Vonnegut and Ellison and Koontz and lots of other guys, actually thought—for a brief moment—he was a sense-of-wonder-where’s-my-calculator?- Science Fiction Writer. And even though he eventually went on to cop a Nebula Award from the SFWA, Inc., I think he knew in his heart of hearts sky-fie wasn’t really his métier.

Sure, he wrote a few more books set in the same universe as his first Alpha book, but he started branching out, trying some other things like suspense and horror and even historical romance. What struck me about him from very early on was the huge number of pages he managed to write every day. It was nothing for him to pound out twenty or twenty-five pages on his typewriter before kicking back at night with a tall tumbler of Dr. Pepper and a Peppermint Patty.

I remember the time he called me and told he’d written a bestseller-type thriller called The Uranus Problem (or something like that). I told him it sounded like a presentation paper at a proctology convention, and suggested he should maybe rethink the title . . .

But I also recall thinking: he wrote a whole book over the last couple months?!

Even back in those early days, The Chaz-Man used to astound me with his stamina and his sheer productivity.

He was always a hard worker, and when we cruised at conventions and parties, I always had a rough time getting him to loosen up—his hardnosed Scottish, work ethic surrounded him with this kind of afterglow of seriousness that took a while to shake. But when he eventually sloughed off that outer husk of grim determination, hey, Charlie could party with the best of us. I can remember when he and I were co-hosting the SFWA Hospitality Suite at the 1976 WorldCon in Kansas City and he actually stayed up until about 4:00 in the morning on a Saturday night.

Anyway, moving right along, when his son, Ian, was born, Charlie honored me more than he’ll ever know by asking me to be The Godfather. (I tried to be a good one even though I had Ian’s birth date wrong for about six years and Chaz never had the heart to tell me—he’d just take the check I’d send each year and hold it for six weeks before giving it to Ian.)

I have a lot of good memories with Charlie. All those times we drove into Manhattan together, anxious to meet with our agent, Kirby McCauley, and our editors, but always ready to dive into the nearest bar as soon as the sun went down. Or driving out into the northern midlands of New Jersey to visit his parents’ place—a beautiful English-style cottage in a neat little town called Caldwell. Or when Charlie decided he was the consummate bon vivant and signed up for a key to the New York Playboy Club, and we’d go there for drinks just so we could play at being grown-up people.

Yeah, they were the heady, halcyon, and salad days, all right . . . .

Thinking back on those times, it seems like we practically did everything together. As I alluded to previously, we both thought we were science fiction writers, but the “success” of our first novels did a lot to dispel that notion. Although it took me a little longer to make the quantum leap, I ended up following Charlie’s lead into the land of dark fantasists and horror writers rather than that of the propeller beanies and spaceships. We both picked up the same literary agent—an obscure Irishman from Minnesota (the aforementioned Kirby), who also picked up another young writer by the name of Steve King.

Just in case you been vacationing in Estonia for the last three decades, Kirby and Steve went on to find out what it’s like to have lots of books on the New York Times bestseller’s list while Charlie and I (still doing things together) decided to explore alternate literary experiences. Eventually we decided to change agents and we both (Surprise!)signed on with Howard Morhaim.

As the Eighties rolled on and the genres of horror and dark fantasy became so immensely popular, Charlie stepped up to the plate to become one of its most consistently influential and admired writers. Becoming a fixture at the World Fantasy Awards banquets, Charlie walked off with so much hardware, he must have needed a special room in which to display it all. If your stories didn’t appear in his Shadows anthology series, then you just weren’t cutting it. He personally helped shaped the careers of an entire generation of writers, and he did it without a lot of hubris or bullshit posturing. But rather a quiet reserve as smooth as a single malt Scotch whiskey.

When Dean Koontz drafted him to help stabilize and focus the then-new (early Nineties) Horror Writers Association, he jumped in with both feet and pulled me along for the ride as his  V.P. He took on the job with his usual thoroughness, and somehow figured out a way to squeeze in all the administrative work and correspondence into his writing schedule without missing a paragraph. I did what most vice presidents do.

 

In the late Nineties, Charlie and I pitched a TV series to Columbia Tri-Star and they liked it enough to option it, then exercised the pick-up price. Things were just great until CBS got into the mix and insisted on using their own writers instead of us . . . the resultant pilot script was so bad it made Murder She Wrote read like Macbeth. Tri-Star ran in the other direction and things dissipated quickly. Charlie and I came that close to be the Chris Carters and David Chases of our generation  . . . and then we didn’t.

 

Yeah, I guess we’ve been pretty tight through the years, but we never were very good at pulling off the TweedleDee/TweedleDum act. In case you haven’t noticed by now, Charlie and I have always been very different. I am the son of a Knight of Columbus/machinist; Charlie is the son of an Episcopalian minister (which makes him Catholic Lite). He writes a smooth, atmospheric line of prose; I write stuff that’s steamed, reamed, and dry-cleaned. He’s been sporting a beard for so long, I can’t remember seeing him without it. I’ve never liked facial hair myself. (Remembering the words of my grandfather, who always averred we Monteleones were far too handsome for anything more than a dashing mustache). Charlie still sneaks a cigarette now and then; I gave them up more than twenty years ago. What else?  Well, Chaz tends to wear clothes you see only on the actors in Seventies TV; whereas I am (thanks to Elizabeth) the pinnacle of fashion, savoir-faire, and elegant good taste.

(This is where Charlie always used to remind me that Dingo boots and Levi jeans never go out of style.)

 

Although this piece is supposed to be an “appreciation” of Charles L. Grant, I know mine has been sounding more like pages from a memoir, but I think that’s okay with me and my pal. I mean, we already know he tells a great story, or we wouldn’t be gathered together here to honor him so justly. And you wouldn’t be reading us.

I suspect some of the other contributors will be covering Charlie’s literary trademarks and achievements in greater detail than I have, and that’s copacetic. Besides, writing that kind of pseudo-scholarly (dare I call it criticism?) and analysis is hard work, and I wanted this to be just plain fun.

And now, ladies and gennamens, I’d like to use that last line to make this beautiful transition: even though a lot of what I’ve been saying has been for smiles, as well as mildly informative, I have to get serious for a few lines here. Charlie Grant is living proof Leo Durocher wasn’t completely right—nice guys don’t always finish last. He and I have been through good times and bad times, but I gotta tell you plain and simple: Charlie’s the oldest friend I’ve got in this whole crazy brotherhood, and we understand very well the choices we made to spend our lives writing.

You know, I (fittingly, I think) dedicated my first horror novel, Night Things, to him. The inscription read:

This one is for

Charles L. Grant,

a fine writer,

a better friend.

 

For me, I guess that kinda says it all.

 

Tom Monteleone

Grantham, New Hampshire

December 03, 2003

(C) Tom Monteleone 2003. This piece originally appeared in SCREAM QUIETLY a best of Charles L. Grant collection edited by Stephen Jones and published by PS Publishing. Expect more from Tom later this week.

Read the rest of the contributions to DANCING WITH SHADOWS: THE CHARLES L. GRANT BLOG-A-THON HERE!

DANCING WITH SHADOWS – The Charles L. Grant Blogathon!

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This post will be updated daily with links to each and every contribution to #DancingWithShadows the #CharlesLGrantBlogathon SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS.

What do we mean when we say we like Horror?

More than likely each of us who says we do would give a different answer. It’s subjective anyway, right? And after all, the genre runs the gamut: from the gross out gore of Splatterpunk, to the delicate chills of M.R. James, the decadent riches of the Gothic Romance, to the absurdist existential terror of J. G. Ballard. If any genre won’t be caged, it’s Horror.

But violence and fear are just as much a part of Crime, Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Westerns. The shock of violence is so much a part of every dramatists toolbox now, it’s almost mundane: as likely to appear in a soap opera as it is to be part of the illicit thrills of our still disreputable genre, while graphic gore is now a staple of every forensic crime show on TV. But there’s at least one thing that is still unique to what I think of when I talk about Horror…

It’s a very particular emotional and intellectual response, perhaps closest to awe (in the proper meaning of the word). It combines elements of dread and wonder, revulsion and arousal, fear, and respect, and joy, and terror. It is a response filled with possibility, because it is, ultimately, indefinable. Unknowable.

It is the Unknown.

And though it may not be definable, it is tangible.

At its simplest it is the tightening of gooseflesh on your arms or scalp; the flutter of fear in your belly; the gasp of revelation; the realisation of just what’s hiding in the dark.

At its most potent, it is the overwhelming cumulative power of a story by Blackwood, Machen or James, or certain films by David Lynch. We feel humbled and expansive all at once. For the briefest of moments we feel our minds expanding, and our bodies too. At its most potent, we are transported.

That’s what I mean when I say I like Horror. That’s what I want from the genre. It is a combined physical- emotional-intellectual response, more in line with that we get from Music, Art or Poetry than it is from standard prose. This is what I look for in Horror Stories and in Horror Films. This is what I want. This physical-emotional-intellectual reaction, is what I am addicted to…

And that’s why I love Charles L. Grant. He dealt it out in spades. He knew that every tiny shadow was filled with possibility, and he whispered in your ear what might be there, nudged your imagination and let you populate those shadows with your fear. And then he nudged you just a little further…

He was a Master. And he was a Poet.

There are prose stylists and there are prose stylists, inside the genre and out. Charlie ranked with the best of them.

Everybody talks about Ray Bradbury when they talk about the taste of Halloween. But, for me, it was Charlie… dammit Charlie had Autumn running in his veins. The taste of Charlie’s stories is the taste of Autumn in the air. The dying of summer. The cold snap and the mist, dead leaves and rain, the growing of shadows and the whipping of wind, and the sense of an oncoming storm. And people, ordinary people, just holding on…

I wonder if it’s the temperament of the books that accounts for why I don’t think he’s being read as much now as he should. Or why, perhaps, he’s not seen by publishers as so commercial. His work demands  your time and concentration. He’s not a writer to read in tiny snatches, because the stories aren’t just about the next beat of the plot. A song will never work it’s magic if you keep hitting pause. You have to give yourself to it. Charlie’s stories sing. They take “your spinal chord and play it like a violin”, as Charles De Lint once said.

That’s not easy in the land of attention deficit and chirruping smart phones. I wonder if maybe future reprintings should come with a free download, the sound of rain on the window, just to set the tone and keep the mood just right?

Maybe. Maybe we need to offer assistance, ambient music for reading to help those who may have lost it, regain their ability to focus. Because, and here’s the real thing folks, Charlie Grant wrote of the essence of Horror. He didn’t dance around and wave his arms, or try to gross you out. He wrote, in every word, every sentence, every paragraph, in every turn of the page, the emotion of Horror. He made your scalp tighten, and your flesh creep, and he made it satisfying, because he made it mean something.

He could take your breath away. He could make you clench your jaw against the sudden tightness in your throat that made you think you might just weep. He could make you question yourself in the dark when the lights go off and you’re crossing the hallway to bed… and enjoy it. He could haunt you with a phrase.

‘When the house grows too small and the shadows too real and the clock in the hallway talks death to itself. When the oven is merely hot and the sheets merely stiff and the clock in the hallway talks death to itself. When the floorboards creak and the furnace pops and the eaves sigh and the windows are too blind… and the clock in the hallway talks death to itself.

Winter… and rain.’

 – NIGHTMARE SEASONS

 

essence

noun

  1. the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character.
  2. an extract or concentrate obtained from a plant or other matter and used for flavouring or scent.

poetry

noun

1.the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by           beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts

Charles L. Grant was the Poet Laureate of Horror.

Join us in celebrating his extraordinary talent.

Let him whisper in your ear…

THE CHARLES L. GRANT ‘BLOG-A-THON’ IN FULL
(updated daily as new posts are made) :

TIM LEBBON
CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN
LYNDA E. RUCKER
JOHN LANGAN
MARC LAIDLAW
NANCY COLLINS
STEPHEN BACON
JAMES EVERINGTON
JAMES A. MOORE
JOSE CRUZ
NATHAN BALLINGRUD
STEPHEN GALLAGHER
TOM MONTELEONE: PART 1
RAMSEY CAMPBELL
GARY MCMAHON
NATHAN BALLINGRUD
PAUL F. OLSON
KEALAN PATRICK BURKE
GARY FRY
STEVEN SAVILE
STEPHEN LAWS
MARK WEST
MARK MORRIS
JEAN-DANIEL BREQUE
NEIL SNOWDON on ‘RIDING THE BLACK’

For more info on Charlie and full bibliography go to his website HERE or wikipage HERE.

Most of Charlie’s books are currently available via Necon eBooks from their site or Amazon.