FEAR OF THE DARK
BY PAUL KANE
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I make no secret of, or excuses about, my own fear of the dark.
It’s very real and has been with me since I was little. Even now,
on occasion, that small boy who used to be terrified at the
thought of going to bed with the lights off resurfaces. But I
beat him down, as adults do. Remind myself I’m a grown-up
and I shouldn’t be scared of the shadows, or what I believe to
be in them.
Anyone who’s ever read my work should be able to trace the
influence of this fear. I mean, just look at some of the titles:
stories like “Blackout” and “Shadow Writer” (from which I took
the name of my website, shadow-writer.co.uk); books like
Alone (In the Dark), The Shadows Trilogy and Of Darkness and
Light. In fact, if you’ve ever read the prologue to the last one,
you’ll catch a glimpse of that little boy yourself, imagining all
kinds of things in that darkened bedroom. Imagining the dark
was alive and coming to get me.
I think it’s a pretty healthy fear, actually, and to quote from
Mike Carey who did the introduction to Of Darkness and Light,
“Fear of the dark has a very impressive pedigree...” Many
writers have tackled it in the past, and I’m sure many more will
in the future. However, in the meantime, you have this
excellent anthology which has gathered together many like-
minded souls in an effort to work out just what it is about this
subject that scares us. Why are we so frightened of what’s out
there when the sun goes down? I know what personally creeps
me out about it all, but it’s always fascinating to get other
people’s take on it.
And so, in “(To Live, To Die) By Dusk’s Dark Light,” Charlie
Loudowl investigates the subject not only of night, but some of
its more famous inhabitants, focusing on a search for the
scientific reasons behind them. In “She’s Not There,” Brian
Wright switches to the supernatural, and muses about the
possibilities of what might happen after that great darkness:
“A Distinctive Curiosity,” however, by Dave Ingalls concerns
itself more with the transportation of souls to that void — at
least while they’re still here on earth. A catalyst for a living
darkness, darkness made up of many parts which also has
many tiny wings. Then in Eric Dimbleby’s “Beak Boy” the lines
between reality and fantasy are blurred as the titular entity
plagues one man in utter blackness.
While in “Dark Horse,” Martin Rose examines what happens
when nightmares are thrown into the mix, terrors that become
all too real when the connection with a sinister carnival is
revealed. “Daughters of the Night” on the other hand, sees
Adrian Chamberlin in full flow, penning a disturbing story
about a gothic neighbour and sins being punished. Fearful is
night to the guilty, he writes as a warning...
In “Finders Keepers” Michael F. Fudali gets to grips with things
in the shadows, only glimpsed in the periphery of your vision
(something else I know all about). Then in “For Fear of the
Little Men” Sandra M. Odell mixes the age-old childhood fear
of things under the bed at night-time with an investigation
into creatures supposed to only exist in fairytales.
Mary A. Turzillo’s “Handyman” takes as its subject matter the
very real fear of the stalker in the dark — the mythology of a
serial killer put to use to cover a deadly crime. Returning to the
supernatural again, Aaron Polson’s “Keeping the Dead” involves
an old house and another kind of mythology altogether, a
battle between the living and those who crave the dead.
Set in the 19th Century, “Lullaby of the Grotesque” begins with
a spot of late night grave robbing (Burke and Hare style) which
has disastrous consequences, and ends with a uniquely
shocking twist guaranteed to make you shudder. Yet in “Crack
O’Doom” by Angel Leigh McCoy, the impending darkness
precipitates an unusual storm. A storm that leads to another
terrifying situation altogether: one that really will make you
fear the dark.
The, appropriately titled, “Nocturnal Visions” by Mark Leslie
reminds us that some of the fabled characters said to call on
us only at night can be as frightening as they are welcome. And
A.D. Spencer’s “Reminiscence” uses noises in the dark to make
the hairs on the back of your neck prickle; will it be what
you’re expecting? You’ll just have to read to the finale to find
In “Spy Glass Hill” from Lisa Mannetti, it is an old house rather
than a location, and the destination for a team of ghost
hunters who get much more than they bargained for. Next
comes Anne M. Pillsworth’s “The Doll in the Window,” which
you really would not want coming after you when the lights
“The Closet" by Norman L. Rubenstein & Carol Weekes is a
perfect device for exploring fear of the dark, here the place for
keeping terrible and tragic family secrets. The ever-reliable
Christopher Fowler, though, examines the darkness one figure
can bring with him in “The Man in the Rain.” Can this person,
an outline glimpsed in the downpour after a funeral, really be
the harbinger of death? Finally, “What She Dreams” from the
imagination of Brian D. Mazur has the protagonist actually
crawling through darkness — you’ll discover why when you
read it. I can’t think of anything more unnerving!
So there you have it, tales which... What’s that? What about my
own contribution, “Keeper of the Light?” Well, it would probably
be fair to say that this particular story is a culmination of all
those years of being scared and writing about the dark. A
cautionary story about what might happen if we don’t take
what’s out there in the blackness more seriously.
Just a little something to think about when you turn out the
light and try to get to sleep tonight...
ABOUT HORROR BOUND
TABLE OF CONTENTS / ABOUT FEAR OF THE DARK’S AUTHORS
EXCERPTS FROM THE ANTHOLOGY
> INTRODUCTION BY PAUL KANE
> “A DISTINCTIVE CURIOSITY” BY DAVID INGALLS (excerpt)
> “NOCTURNAL VISIONS” BY MARK LESLIE (excerpt)
> “FOR FEAR OF LITTLE MEN” BY SANDRA M. ODELL (excerpt)
INTERVIEWS WITH THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE ANTHOLOGY
> MARIA GRAZIA CAVICCHIOLI, Co-Editor/Founder, Horror Bound
> JASON ROLFE, Co-Editor/Former Associate Editor, Horror Bound
> CHRISTOPHER FOWLER, Author, “The Man In the Rain”
> PAUL KANE, Author, “Keeper of the Light”
> LISA MANNETTI, Author, “Spy Glass Hill”
> AARON POLSON, Author, “Keeping the Dead”
Read all of the tales that Paul Kane writes
about in this introduction. Fear of the Dark
- now available as an ebook!
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