Launch of Dark Short Story Collection – Little Penny Dreadfuls – 99 Stories of 99 Words

Mike Staples is a writer and musician from Dumfries and Galloway who lives and works in Moniaive. He writes dark fiction and has had a number of short stories published, including contributions to two anthologies by Red Rattle Books. His band, luciensghost, will release their debut EP, Strange Places, in early 2015. Here he introduces his newly launched collaboration with author Andrew Garvey, Little Penny Dreadfuls. More info on the book can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/littlepennydreadfuls

1 a 1 a book 2Little Penny Dreadfuls, a collection of 99 dark tales of 99 words each, was published this week on Amazon for Kindle. It was co-written over the course last year with Staffordshire horror writer, Andrew Garvey.
In 2013, Andrew and I both contributed to a collection of contemporary takes on the vampire tale, Dracula’s Midnight Snacks. The publisher – Red Rattle Books – held a launch in London. There, Andrew and I met, chatted over a few beers, signed a few books for hardcore vampire fans and, after digesting the book itself, developed a mutual appreciation of each other’s dark storytelling. We again contributed to a Red Rattle collection in 2014, Zombie Bites.
In between, Andrew had come up with an idea based around a collection of very short stories that would be an exercise in writing sharp, rapid, prose. Recalling a book he had read – Geoff Ryman’s 253 – Andrew found inspiration. This book was set on London Underground and told the stories of 252 passengers (and the driver), in 253 passages of 253 words. His plan was to write 99 stories of 99 words, to be sold for 99p. Little Penny Dreadfuls!
However, quickly realising that 99 is rather a lot of stories to write, he sought out some assistance – which is where I came in. The idea resonated with me immediately – a writing format oriented around multiple idea generation. We threw drafts of stories back and forth over a few months, inspiration arrived from a litany of sources and there was a sense that, the more we wrote, the deeper the recesses of the mind, the darker the tales became. Of the stories I wrote, many found inspiration in the local area. Here’s one story that may sound familiar to anyone who’s ever driven between Corsock and Moniaive in the dark of night:

Don’t Look Back
It was pitch dark before she hit the road. Ten miles of exposed moor and single track. The daily commute. But tonight felt different. Darker. The road more sinister. She tensed, gripping the wheel. She turned up the stereo and told herself she’d soon be home. Five miles in, she slowed for a familiar humped-back bridge. From the darkness appeared fifty pairs of enormous eyes. She jumped, then immediately relaxed as the cows bolted. She laughed as they dispersed either side of the car, unwilling to cross water. Checking her mirror, another pair of eyes glinted from the back-seat.

Eventually, we had 120 stories to choose from and planned an October weekend in Moniaive to edit and start working towards the final cut.
Over that weekend, we cemented Anglo-Scottish literary relations over the discovery that our oatcakes and Staffordshire oatcakes are very different entities indeed and worked on the book until Moniaive Bluegrass Festival drew us to the pub and we knew (roughly) what would be sent to our select band of readers.
The final version of Little Penny Dreadfuls, published this week, benefitted enormously from those who read and provided feedback and criticism on all the stories, even the more depraved ones that didn’t make the cut. We’d like to thank them all – Vicky Martin, Olwen Staples, Jane Baggley, Nerys Williams, Fraser Robertson, Victoria and Amy Howell from http://www.systirproductions.com and Howard Jackson from http://www.redrattlebooks.co.uk.
Finally, we’d like to thank Rufus Stone, drummer extraordinaire with luciensghost, who did a magnificent job of designing the cover art. If you fancy checking out more of the stories, it’s now available everywhere Amazon sell Kindle books (99p in the UK, $1.49 in the USA) and free for anyone with the Kindle Unlimited service and in the Kindle Lending Library.

Little Penny Dreadfuls by Andrew Garvey and Mike Staples – 99 dark stories of 99 words for 99p – is available NOW to buy for Kindle download here and on Amazon worldwide:
You can find the writers on twitter here: Andrew – @AMGarvey / Mike – @luciensghost

Mike Staples
6 February 2015

Latest Articles