Talking of slap-up meals, here's the skinny: Spark Furnace are releasing the stories as three paperbacks (UK here, US here) and in ebook form via Smashwords - or, if you'd rather sample them in chapbook form, as six Kindle books (UK and US).
One of the things that's amazing about the Binscombe Tales is how many now-famous horror and fantasy concepts appeared first in these books. John Whitbourn's story "Eyes" is virtually a prototype in low key for the entire Final Destination series of movies, and this excerpt from the story "Hello Dolly" anticipates the Amy Pond storyline on Doctor Who by almost two decades:STOP PRESS: (I always wanted to say that.) If you live in Surrey, England, pick up a copy of local newspaper the Surrey Advertiser this week, as it features an interview with John Whitbourn in which he talks about his writing, his forthcoming novel (based at the time of the Gordon Riots) and his roots in real-life Binscombe, where his family have lived since the Civil War.
Linda Disch applied her scarlet lips to a Bloody Mary before proceeding. ‘One morning,’ she said, ‘I was playing there with all my dollies and that, when I felt something strange. The wall behind me seemed to have some give in it. It shouldn’t have. It’d always been just a nice plain, solid wall, it made me safe and protected. I wasn’t worried though. Children don’t have much fear, do they, Mr Oakley?’
You obviously didn’t go to prep school, I thought—but kept it to myself.
‘Leastways, I didn’t have much scare in me,’ said Linda. ‘I just took things in my stride in those days.’
‘But what about this wall?’ I asked (she seemed to be dallying).
‘It wasn’t a wall anymore, Mr Oakley. It was a door.’ Linda was wide-eyed with wonder, as if the incident was only five minutes in her past. ‘I looked up and saw there was a big brass doorknob above my head. When I got up I found the wall was now a great oak door—keyhole, panels, the lot.’
‘And when you tried the handle?’ I asked, urging her on once more.
‘Oh, I didn’t, Mr Oakley. I was brought up to knock before I entered rooms, and somehow I didn’t fancy doing that. What I did do was have a quick squint through the keyhole.’
‘Nothing. It was all old and grimed up. You couldn’t see a thing.’
‘Well, I couldn’t. I was just standing there and gawping, wondering how I’d missed noticing this room before. Then I saw that the door was a poor fit. There was a fair gap at the bottom, half an inch or so. Straight off. I shimmied down on to my tummy and tried to see into the room.
‘There was light in there from a window or something, because I could see bits and pieces of what was beyond. A ray of sunshine was lighting up the gloom. “There’s no carpet,” I remember thinking. “How come Mum stands for that?’” It looked dirty and dusty, all neglected and forlorn. There was faded wallpaper starting to curl off in places and sheets of yellow newsprint lying about. It occurred to me that perhaps even Mum and Dad hadn’t found this room yet. But there again, how could that be? They knew everything. They wouldn’t miss a part of their own house, surely.
‘Then a pair of feet crossed my line of vision, great grey slabs of feet, slowly pacing up and down the room, in and out of that beam of sunlight. I must have gasped or something, because the feet stopped in their tracks as though I’d been heard. They changed direction and headed straight for me...'