Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Genuinely, thrillingly horrible. . .

A lovely parcel arrived today from Bloomsbury - a jiffy bag full of the rejacketed Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth, ahead of it's publication in March.

I was very impressed. I finished the proof editing with Isabel Ford at Bloomsbury just before Christmas and was not expecting the book to appear quite so quickly. It was pure chance that Tunnel's Mouth should be done first, but it must mean that the other two Tales of Terror will be arriving shortly.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the rejacketed books go on sale. They look so different from the David Roberts editions - it will be fascinating to see who picks them up. I have had books rejacketed before and felt no benefit whatsoever (and that is very, very disappointing) but I am pretty hopeful that this re-issue will be much more successful.

As well as having no David Roberts illustration on the cover, the books will have no illustrations inside either. This is not any criticism of David's work - no one has ever said anything but very nice things to me about those drawings and I have always been very happy with them.

This is a different way of presenting the stories. Not better - just different.


  1. Interesting...I like the new cover, but in all honesty I don't think it would jump out at me in a bookshop. The main reason I picked up one of your books and started reading your work was because of the original cover on Uncle Montague. For me, David Roberts' illustrations add a lot to the atmosphere of the books. But like you said, not better - just different.

  2. I agree - the quality that David brought was a kind of Gorey wit that suited the books. This cover doesn't really do anything other than say 'spooky story involving a train'. The cover says nothing about the style of the writing. David's drawings did. But if David's covers had a fault, it was that they possibly underplay how scary the books are. This cover will appeal to readers who are used to the conventions of the horror genre.

  3. Completely understand what you're saying - hopefully they'll still sell well whatever's on the cover. On the subject of David's illustrations, I'm reading Tunnel's Mouth at the moment and really loved the work he did on the New Governess illustration - I felt the look on the boy's face really added to the story. Oh, and the line about 'slippery pink workings'(apologies if I've slightly misquoted - haven't got the book with me at the moment) in the Crotach Stone made me smile - I don't think three words ever described anything quite so well :)

  4. Thanks! Your quote was entirely accurate I think. Glad the words worked for you. And you're right - that illustration is a particularly good one. The cover for that book is my favourite of the three he did.

  5. Without wanting to halt progress; and I do sincerely hope the new covers will add to the market for these wonderful books (are they collections, novels or anthologies? I have no idea!) but if anything I think they are a step down from the original covers.

    I myself chanced upon Uncle Montague a few months ago in a charity shop and only bought it as I absolutely loved the cover. Which goes against the tested saying of 'never judge a book by it's cover' as in this scenario it worked out very well for me! Shortly after finishing Uncle Montague, I read Black Ship and Tunnel's Mouth within a few weeks.

    So I am sad to see the 'classic' covers and illustrations go, as if it weren't for them my introduction to Chris Priestley was likely to have never occurred, which may possibly be for others. I myself will greatly treasure the ones I have, but do hope the new covers will take these wonderful books to new audiences.

    Best wishes,


  6. I've just finished the book. I'm 23 years old, and I dont really know what's your target public (boys, teens, grown people) but I really loved the book. It's somehow wicked and perfect at the same time. The way you describe things it's amazing. In almost all of the stories I really felt that I was inside, seeing and feeling the same as the main character. I read the book during a travel in train through Berlin, Prague and Stuttgart, so you can imagine that the atmosphere was perfect. I'm from Argentina, now living in Germany, and English is not my main language. I've bought the book to keep in touch with the English language and I found instead an amazing master piece. Of course now I want to read all your other books, so'll start buying them. Congratulations again and never stop writing, you are highly talented.

  7. Hi Shubs. Sorry it's taken me a while to respond to your comment. I appreciate what your saying. The original covers were very different from a lot of stuff out there and I owe David Roberts a huge debt of gratitude for the job he did on the covers and on the illustrations inside. I don't think the books would have taken off in the way they did had these new covers been on the books, but I think we are now trying to see who will pick the book up if it has a more obvious horror cover and no pictures. Only time will tell. But these new covers are not a sign of dissatisfaction with the original covers. far from it.

  8. Thanks for getting in touch Javier. And thank you so much for the lovely comments. I am so pleased that you enjoyed the book so much and I hope you enjoy the others as much. And I have no intention of giving up on writing quite yet!