Horror Writers Hit Manchester

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Words and Photographs by Frazer Tudor MacDonald.

On Sunday Night, a group of Horror writers convened in Manchester’s International Anthony Burgess Centre to give a reading of some of their works as part of the final event included in this year’s Manchester Gothic Festival. Organised by Dr. Linnie Blake, Dr. Xavier Aldana Reyes and David McWilliam, the guest speakers included novelists Ramsey Campbell, Conrad Williams and Stephen McGeagh.

I arrived at the location of the event roughly twenty minutes early and spotted Ramsey Campell sitting among a group of people at a table in the building’s refectory area, and managed to question him about his work and influences. During the interview, the prolific novelist cited authors such as Arthur Macken and H.P Lovecraft as influences, and is particularly fond of The Call of Cthulhu and The Rats in the Walls. Campbell also expressed an interest in other styles of literature, naming authors such as Kazuo Ishiguro and Vladimir Nabokov.

Ramsey Campell reading from his novel

The event itself was very relaxed and informal. The three speakers each read a short extract from one of their novels, all of which were set in Manchester. The second speaker of the evening, Stephen McGeagh, recited an extract from his debut novel Habit, a horror based around a character working as a bouncer in a Massage Parlour in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. After reading the extracts, I managed to catch up with Stephen McGeagh and ask about his novel, and how he went about publishing his work. During the interview, he attributed the publication of his first book to novelist and MMU Creative Writing lecturer, Nicholas Royle, who also included a story of Stephen McGeagh’s in a collection of flash-fiction stories named Scraps.

Following the readings, there was a short interval which included a wine reception and a stall selling various works written by Ramsey Campbell, Conrad Williams and Stephen McGeagh, and several issues of a Horror magazine named Black Static. Towards the end of the evening, there was an opportunity for members of the audience to question the writers, who offered very detailed and interesting answers, describing the reasons they chose to set their stories in Manchester, among other things.

The event seemed to be well received by organisers and guests alike. During the evening, Dr. Linnie Blake described the evening as “a fantastic closing event to have.” David McWilliam, who chiefly aided in the organisation of Twisted Tales, explained that the reason the event took place was to “communicate our  passion for Horror.” He also claimed to feel confident that Manchester’s Gothic Festival would become an annual event.

Overall, the event was incredibly successful, attracting a considerable number of people, and establishing the City of Manchester, as well as Manchester Metropolitan University, as relevant assets to Horror. The Twisted Tales Reading was an extremely successful climax to the Gothic Manchester Festival. This was due to the extremely influential guest speakers, the quantity of hard work that was put into the organisation of the festival, and a brilliant turnout. This will potentially mark the beginning of a very exciting series of collaborations between Manchester Metropolitan University and Twisted Tales.

Frazer MacDonald is an aspiring screenwriter/actor, and has recently developed an interest in Journalism. He is studying English and Creative Writing at MMU, and is an avid film fan.

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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