Book Rec: Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

Wylding Hall

It has to be said, oral histories are one of my favourite types of books. Not just in terms of fiction but in general. It is a sub-genre that lends itself particularly well to horror and sci-fi, if done well. The lead example being World War Z by Max Brooks and large elements of The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling.

Wylding Hall ticked a lot of boxes for me. Oral History – Check. Gothic/ghost story setup – Check. Tainted history of a band or musician – Check.

I checked the book out on Audible and was glad that I did. The narration from the voice cast is absolutely excellent. The general premise is that the surviving members of Windhollow Faire, a promising teenage folk band from the 60s come together to discuss the making of their album, the titular “Wylding Hall” forty years after its release. Their story is one of tragedy and loss, including the mysterious disappearance of Julian, their lead singer and lead creative force.

The narrative is fairly slow, with horror seeping in around the edges of discourse around how the band met and got their break. Despite most of the horror here being quiet, there is a sense of dread and foreshadowing that pervades throughout. An overtone that the worst is yet to come.

Each character here is nicely drawn, something that was accentuated by listening to the book. But each has their own voice and quirks that would make them unique, even on the page itself. Each character has secrets and opinions all of their own as well as a full and fleshed out set of background circumstances.

When the terror does arrive, Hand draws it nicely. A few images raised hairs on the back of my neck during the morning commute, which always shows something has really hit the mark.

This books was recommended to me by Michael Wilson, and I have to say that it fell perfectly into the middle of my wheelhouse. I can’t recommend it enough. The Amazon link to the book is below, but for the full hit, get it on Audible if possible. Don’t forget, your first book is free when you sign up. Wylding Hall would be an excellent place to start.

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand – Kindle Edition


The Year Ahead

2018 is in the history books. Done and dusted.

As a writer, 2018 was my most productive and successful year to date.

Imposter Syndrome, co-edited by James Everington and yours truly, was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Society Award. Unfortunately, we missed on the award (damn you, Mark Morris and your wonderful New Fears anthologies), but we were incredibly grateful for being nominated.

My story “Anderson” was recorded by the fab folks at The Other Stories podcast and released back in November.Check out their website to download or stream the fantastic twenty minute production. I’m really grateful to the team for their hard work and skill in producing this episode.

My story “Hide. Go Seek” was chosen by The Liar’s League in London as part of their Halloween season. The poet, Math Jones performed the story to a sold out audience. I gather it went down a treat! Check out the video of the performance on the Liar’s League website.

My story “The Fifty-Nine Sound” was published at Trigger Warning Short Fiction. This story is my ode to Brian Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem. I adore the artwork for this story and hope that you will visit the Trigger Warning website to read the story in full.

I’ve also had a couple of things accepted that haven’t been released yet so more news on those as and when. Whilst I haven’t had as many stories published as I would’ve liked this year, the quality of my rejections has been high and I’ve received some great feedback about my work. I’m taking the positives.

Overall in 2018, my productivity has been through the roof in comparison to previous years. Without delving too much into word count, I’d happily state that I wrote more in 2018 than every year (bar 2017) combined. I’m comfortable in my writing routine, I’ve set aside the time I need to write and I make sure my arse is in the chair and my brain is engaged.

My first novel Round Here, is finished. It needs A LOT of work before it can be sent out to publishers. It received good feedback from one editor and not so good feedback from another. I like elements of the story, but perhaps not the finished product. I’ll revisit Upheath one day and mold the book into something different, but right now, I’m happy with the lessons I’ve learned and to use those on the next project.

I’ve finished and polished a novella, Territory that I’m hoping to find a home for in 2019. It’s set in an isolated rural community in Finland and deals with the problems of isolation, nationalism and the encroachment of man into nature. Beta readers have enjoyed it, so fingers crossed on this one.

I write this blog having just started another novel. It’s New Year’s Day and what better time to start. I’ll share some details about it once the first draft is done. I’m taking my time with it. I’m a better writer now than when I started Round Here, I’ll use the lessons of that book to inform and fuel me as I move on.

Goals for 2019

To complete the latest novel – including multiple drafts and make some progress with getting published.

To maintain a steady, consistent writing habit and meet my weekly word count targets.

To get a couple of stories accepted for audio recordings and work towards collecting them together, perhaps with self-publishing in mind.

To listen to more writing podcasts, read more craft books and to develop as a writer in every spare minute I have.

All the best to everyone who reads this for the new year. I hope it is a happy, successful and healthy year ahead.