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Blood and Grit 21 (2011)


BBR cover 2011

BBR, UK, 2011, eBook

“Why is it called Skinner Lane? Why … because that’s where something called the Skinner lives.”

Internationally renowned horror novelist Simon Clark returns to his roots with a new edition of Blood and Grit, the short story collection that launched his career twenty-one years ago. Together with all six original tales, Blood and Grit 21 features the haunting ‘… Beside the Seaside …’, Simon’s first professional sale, while a brand new story takes us back to the iconic ‘Skinner Lane’. In a new illustrated afterword, Simon recounts how the original book came about and reveals the locations that inspired its stories. Last but not least, this new edition includes the original foreword by Andrew Darlington, who also provides a brand new introduction that’s a rousing celebration of Simon’s career to date.

Watch the trailer:

Now let Simon guide you through the contents:

Here is the fiction list for Blood and Grit 21, a collection of horror stories set in my home county of Yorkshire, England. There’s a short description of each piece, some random musings, and a shard or two of text. If you’re tempted to dive in and gorge on this gloriously gruesome fiction that was published over twenty-one years ago, then the eBook is available from the platforms featured on this page.

The original Blood and Grit volume contained the following stories:

Skinner Lane
This is dedicated to anyone who has wondered what it would be like to be skinned alive. Come to think of it, I wonder if it was inspired by watching a woman on a beach enthusiastically peeling the sunburnt skin from her husband’s back.
On one branch peeled faces hung like tatty masks…

Out From Under
When city populations grew at an explosive rate there wasn’t enough space to bury the dead. I imagined a world where the late-lamented were hygienically shrink-wrapped then handed back to the next-of-kin for storage at home.
Like those vacuum packed trout you buy, he could feel the shape of the body beneath the tight plastic – the head, the limbs, the lumps and ridges.

Over Run
Here the dead refuse to lie down and play dead. They aren’t mindless zombies, however: they rise from their graves for a purpose, because someone harbours a secret.
Two hundred sat on a burial mound where the voices of the five-thousand-year-old dead vibrated faintly through the clay to tickle the two hundred shriveled rumps.

Bite Back
An entity of total destructive evil pursues a man across Yorkshire. Featuring explosive – even implosive – action in Wakefield, Sheffield and Doncaster. This is a road-movie style thriller of mayhem and redemption.
The boy’s face jerked up as the glass roof exploded into crystals and the stone pillars burst under the impact.

Revelling in Brick
Someone once said that the universe is not only as strange as we can imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. Here I imagined what would happen to a character if reality became stranger and more bizarre, and more disquieting, with every passing day.
The blade travelled smoothly. It was sharp and the dwarf was strong.

Sex, Savagery and Blood, Blood, Blood
The title says it all… well, almost. Hold on tight, you’re in for a hell of ride.
Oh, the love in the place. The love and the hate, and the fear and the pain, and the agony and the ecstasy…

Blood and Grit 21 fiction extras

… Beside the Seaside, Beside the Sea …
This story, which first appeared in BBR, was reprinted in a paperback anthology by the name of The Year’s Best Horror, edited by Karl Edward Wagner. Here’s an account of one of my encounters with Karl after the anthology was published.
I’m sitting by a pile of yellow books in the dealers’ room and waiting hopefully for customers. This slim volume is ‘Blood and Grit’, my first book. The occasion was Fantasycon in 1990, and it was a time when such legends as Karl Edward Wagner and Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes bestrode convention hotels. In fact, Karl dropped by to chat in his mellifluous American tones, ‘Simon, your royalty for the story in Year’s Best Horror amounts to one dollar thirty-six cents. Do you want the cash now, or would you prefer a beer?’
Karl was a living legend – the legend continues long after he’s gone. Cheers, Karl.

21 Skinner Lane
An all-new story to celebrate the collection’s reissue. Here, Kenny, the hero of ‘Skinner Lane’ is once more confronted with an evil that he thought he’d laid to rest twenty-one years ago.
His eyes locked onto the figure that was a grim totem of bones and dried-out guts.

A touch of Fear

The biggest UK horror magazine twenty-one years ago was Fear, edited by John Gilbert. Here are some extracts from a review of Blood and Grit, which appeared in the August, 1990 issue. I’d never had my work reviewed in a newsstand magazine before and, believe me, I read and re-read that review until the print was in danger of evaporating from the page – such was the intensity of my eyes as I read the thing!

Here’s part of that review: In the Clive Barker/Ramsey Campbell tradition of realistic rather than escapist horror, Simon Clark is the promising author of two stories in FEAR and another in DAW’s The Year’s Best Horror 14. Clark is from Yorkshire, and it shows. As the title suggests, the six stories in Blood and Grit set visceral horror against a background of Northern grime… all the stories resonate and confront, while the dialogue and descriptions ring true. Reviewed by Graham Evans, he awarded a three out of a possible four skulls.

Appearing in that issue of Fear, reviews of the films Dark Angel and Total Recall, and in books: Moonheart by Charles De Lint and David Morrell’s The Fifth Profession. We were also treated to fiction by Freda Warrington, Stephen Harris, James Herbert, and other new and established writers.