The Devil and the Deep: an anthology of spooky sea stories

The Devil and the Deep has surfaced and I’m lucky enough to appear with some great writers here:

    ‘Deadwater’ by Simon Bestwick
    ‘Fodder’s Jig’ by Lee Thomas
    ‘The Curious Allure of the Sea’ by Christopher Golden
    ‘The Tryal Attract’ by Terry Dowling
    ‘The Whalers Song’ by Ray Cluley
    ‘A Ship of the South Wind’ by Bradley Denton
    ‘What My Mother Left Me’ by Alyssa Wong
    ‘Broken Record’ by Stephen Graham Jones
    ‘Saudade’ by Steve Rasnic Tem
    ‘A Moment Before Breaking’ by A.C.Wise
    ‘Sister, Dearest Sister, Let Me Show to You the Sea’ by Seanan McGuire
    ‘The Deep Sea Swell’ by John Langan
    ‘He Sings of Salt and Wormwood’ by Brian Hodge
    ‘Shit Happens’ by Michael Marshall Smith
    ‘Haunt’ by Siobhan Carroll


You can buy it in book form, e-book, and as an audio, too. (In the UK, click here. America, here.)

My story, ‘The Whalers Song’, concerns a Norwegian whaling crew who find themselves on a desolate island where the mourning call of the wind haunts them…

The reviews have started coming in. The Game Of Nerds calls The Devil and the Deep a “must have”. Kirkus Reviews picked it as a best read for March, and ran a feature with us lot from the table of contents talking about our work. You can read it here.

Signal Horizon calls it “an anthology that demands the attention of any fan of short horror fiction” and says “‘The Whalers Song’ by Ray Cluley is a particular standout in the middle section of the anthology and an example of a more experimental work.”

YouTuber Erika Senteno, aka ThePerksOfBooks, says of ‘The Whalers Song’ “This story is so immersive and atmospheric. It’s a very chilling an unsettling piece but it’s also hauntingly beautiful.”

And this beauty comes from SFRevu: “The real gem of the book to me is Ray Cluley’s ‘The Whalers Song’, an outstanding piece of fiction featuring a group of whale hunters who, after the sinking of their ship, find shelter on a deserted island where past horrors still linger.”

Thanks, as always, to those taking the time to offer a review, it’s very much appreciated. And to those buying the book, I hope you enjoy the stories.

Image result for the devil and the deep datlow review







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Best Horror of the Year, volume 9

It’s available now, folks. Contains my story ‘The Castellmarch Man’, originally published in Great British Horror: Green and Pleasant Land. You can buy it here for your Kindle or as a good ol’ traditional paperback.

best horror 9


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Canal Boats, Cornwall, and Cowboys

Delighted to announce that my short story ‘The Swans’ has been accepted for publication in Black Static, by TTA Press. It’s the magazine where I started out, publishing my first ever submission ‘Viva Las Vegas’ back in 2008, and has been a frequent home for me ever since. It’s a great magazine and I’m thrilled to be back among those dark pages. ‘The Swans’ will be my 15th appearance. 

The story was originally written for an Arthur Machen tribute anthology (which I hope will still be published because it sounded like it was shaping up to be a fantastic book). This means it’s a slower, stranger tale than some of my others; less overtly ‘horror’, more of a psychological study with a sprinkling of bizarre. Set on one of England’s canals (Machen liked canals) it’s based, in part, on one of my own narrow-boat experiences. It also takes a little inspiration from the story of Leda and the Swan. A little. And that’s all I’ll say about it for now.


In other news, Terror Tales of Cornwall has now been published. There was some delay due to a change in publisher and the editor’s own busy schedule (the editor being the prolific Paul Finch) but now the book is out there in the world. It contains my story ‘In the Light of St Ives’ which was inspired by a very short interview in an episode of Coast, an artist talking about the magnificent light of the place and how it affects your appreciation of certain colours. The book is available from Telos.

The cover art is by Neil Williams.

Here’s the table of contents:

“We Who Sing Beneath the Ground” by Mark Morris

Golden Days of Terror

“In the Light of St Ives” by Ray Cluley

Morgawr Rising

“Trouble at Botathan” by Reggie Oliver

From the Lady Downs

“‘Mebyon versus Suna’” by John Whitbourn

The Serpent of Pengersick

“The Unseen” by Paul Edwards

Finned Angels, Fish-Tailed Devils

“Dragon Path” by Jacqueline Simpson

Jamaica Inn

“The Old Traditions Are Best” by Paul Finch

Guardians of the Castle

“The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things” by Mark Valentine

The Hooper

“His Anger Was Kindled” by Kate Farrell

The Bodmin Fetch

“Four Windows and a Door” by DP Watt


“Claws” by Steve Jordan

The Cursing Psalm

“A Beast by Any Other Name” by Adrian Cole

Of the Demon, Tregeagle

“Moon Blood-Red, Tide Turning” by Mark Samuels

Slaughter at Penryn

“The Memory of Stone” by Sarah Singleton

Queen of the Wind

“Shelter from the Storm” by Ian Hunter

The Voice in the Tunnels

“Losing Its Identity” by Thana Niveau


Apart from those stories, there’s been an acceptance or two (okay, two) I can’t talk about yet, and a lot of work on a novella for Horrific Tales. A novella which is trying to become a novel. 50,000 words and counting. I’ve been cutting as I redraft to keep the word count down but if a novel is what it really wants to be, then a novel it shall become. We shall see. Graeme Reynolds, who originally asked for the piece, has been very patient (“I’d rather have it right than right now”) but hopefully it’ll be finished this month. It’s called Dark Horses. It focuses on a woman called Tillie, the Montana cowboys in her life, and a mysterious dark horse that plagues her…


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The Castellmarch Man republished

March brings with it news that my story ‘The Castellmarch Man’ is to be republished in volume nine of Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year anthology series. I’m incredibly pleased, especially as I’ve always enjoyed the series, and especially because I’m appearing in this table of contents:

Nesters, Siobhan Carroll
The Oestridae, Robert Levy
The Process is a Process All its Own, Peter Straub
The Bad Hour, Christopher Golden
Red Rabbit, Steve Rasnic Tem
It’s All the Same Road in the End, Brian Hodge
Fury, DB Waters
Grave Goods, Gemma Files
Between Dry Ribs, Gregory Norman Bossert
The Days of Our Lives, Adam LG Nevill
House of Wonders, C.E Ward
The Numbers, Christopher Burns
Bright Crown of Joy, Livia Llewellyn
The Beautiful Thing We Will Become, Kristi DeMeester
Wish You Were Here, Nadia Bulkin
Ragman, Rebecca Lloyd
What’s Out There?, Gary McMahon
No Matter Which Way We Turned, Brian Evenson
The Castellmarch Man, Ray Cluley
The Ice Beneath Us, Steve Duffy
On These Blackened Shores of Time, Brian Hodge

The cover is pretty, too:

I’m very grateful that Ellen has chosen to republish the story. Thanks also go to Steve Shaw, who invited me to submit to his anthology Great British Horror: Green and Pleasant Land in the first place, and was patient when I decided to rewrite the piece.

You can order Green and Pleasant Land in hardback here or paperback here. I’ll post details for The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 9, closer to the time it’s available.

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The zombies are here!

My writing resource for English students is now available. Here’s the blurb:

Zombie Apocalypse! (for Year 9)
Escape from a zombie invasion while learning about different writing forms with 12 creative writing activities. Your students will love the action-packed, imaginative tasks – from creating a zombie apocalypse survival kit to planning a design brief for fortifications. Suitable for all: support with writing frames and examples, and stretch with ‘challenge’ and ‘extension’ tasks. Written in entertaining and student-friendly language, this resource will harness pupils’ creative potential, culminating in a varied portfolio of work.

It was great fun putting this together, and I hope it proves useful. It’s had some good reviews so far:

“A really different and fun resource. Compliments to the author – I know the boys I teach will enjoy a number of these tasks and I look forward to trying it out next year!” N Boyce, Teacher and Independent Reviewer

“I think that this is a resource with a lot of potential that will be really effective in engaging more reluctant boys within the English classroom.” – H Jackson, Teacher and Independent Reviewer

“The resource is imaginative, creative and entertaining. It has a golden narrative thread running throughout the source whilst avoiding flogging the topic like a dead horse. The author has shown a real flair for creativity and this shows in the careful presentation of the work.” – K Attwood, Teacher and Independent Reviewer

“The resource is suitable for both weak and capable pupils. Particularly good is the self-assessment and commentary, so that pupils can be very clear about what progress they have made across the scheme.” – S Owen, Head of Faculty and Independent Reviewer

Teacher friends, you can purchase a copy by clicking here. Friends of teachers, spread the word: the zombies are here!


Hands up who wants a copy…

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An A to Z of books

Okay, I was tagged in this a while ago (thanks Jess) but I’ve just found my scribbled notes and thought I’d post them (at last). Any excuse to go on about books…

Author you’ve read the most books by

That’d be Stephen King, I should think. Or perhaps Ed McBain – he has a fair few, and they’re pretty slim, quick reads.

Best sequel ever

Well I remember loving Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron as a kid. That was a terrific, much darker, follow up to The Book of Three. I loved all of those Chronicles of Prydain books, though. As an adult, I don’t think I’ve read much by way of sequels. Wizard and Glass, part of King’s Dark Tower series, was pretty terrific.

Currently reading

Authority (Jeff Vandermeer), The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (Stephen King), Tales of Ordinary Madness (Charles Bukowski) Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Jeff Gunn)

Drink of choice while reading

Nothing in particular. Coffee is most likely, maybe red wine if I’m in the bath or perhaps a Jack Daniels with ice if I’m feeling really indulgent.

E-reader or physical book

Physical, for all the usual reasons, though I have come around to the idea of e-versions thanks to an app on my phone. I have a few titles on that which is great for when I’m caught without a book.

Fictional character you would have dated in high school

I remember having quite a thing for Tess of the D’Urbervilles at college. A bit older and I was in lust/love with Anita Blake of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Vampire Hunter series (until the books got a bit silly). Nowadays I’m more of a Clarice Starling kind of guy.

Glad you gave this book a chance

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, was a bit longer than I could comfortably commit to at the time but I’m bloody glad I did because it’s brilliant – reading that was time well spent indeed. And Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy, which was recommended to me so enthusiastically by one of the kids I used to teach as part of an evening class in Creative Writing. I don’t tend to read YA stuff but thoroughly enjoyed this (and several others in the series).

Hidden gem of a book

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. I came to this completely cold, having heard nothing about it, and it remains one of the best books I’ve read. Partly due to the physical experience of it (you have to see the book to understand) but also I found some of it genuinely unsettling.

Important moment in your reading life

Realising books don’t carry age certificates, that I could read something adult and be treated seriously by the writer. The realisation came with The Shining when I was about eleven. Too young to fully appreciate it, of course, but the right age to recognise the power of words.

Another defining moment was giving up Richard Layman. Realising I didn’t have to keep reading them just because I’d read so many already. Again, I was young, but I soon noticed how formulaic (and rapey) these novels were and I was beginning to see that the horror genre had better to offer elsewhere.

Just finished

The Tooth Fairy, by Graham Joyce. And wonderful it was, too.

Kind of books you won’t read

There aren’t many. I’m not a big fan of comedy as a genre to itself – I prefer it as one of many aspects in a book rather than the defining feature – but that’s probably about it. Autobiographies and misery memoirs aren’t big favourites but I’ve read one or two.

Longest book you’ve read

Probably Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, or Stephen King’s It (I’d have to compare page counts). Unless The Lord of the Rings counts as one?

Major book hangover

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It broke me. I’ve read it several times now and feel bereft every time it’s over.

Number of bookcases you own

Not enough. I’ve just moved and so a lot of my books are still in boxes, but I’ll be buying some more cases soon…

One book you’ve read multiple times

There are several, due to teaching, and I’ve mentioned a few in the answers above, but I’ve read Ray Bradbury’s work more than once (I know, it says one book, but I figure one writer is an acceptable compromise).

Preferred place to read

Anywhere comfortable, and preferably quiet. Bed, bath, lazing on the sofa. Maybe lounging by a pool or on a beach somewhere…

Quote from a book you’ve read that inspires you

“So it goes.” From Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.

Reading regret

Finishing too many bad books just because I didn’t like to quit. Nowadays I give them a fair chance and then stop if it’s not for me – there are too many good books out there to be wasting time on bad ones.

Series you started and need to finish

There are a few I haven’t finished but that’s because I lost interest. The two that spring to mind both involved a recurring character who just became too powerful for me to be all that concerned any more (plus there are only so many huge adventures one person can get involved in before it becomes silly). A series I haven’t started but would like to is Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

Three of your all-time favourite books

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Unapologetic fan-boy for

Used to be Stephen King, but I’m a bit more wary these days. Ray Bradbury, definitely. Ernest Hemingway.

Very excited about this release

The Fisherman, by John Langan

Worst bookish habit

Resisting books because I’m trying to convince myself I have enough to read for now. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often.

X marks the spot: start on the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book

Michael Marshal Smith, Spares

Your latest purchase

The Fisherman, by John Langan

Zzz-snatcher book (last book that kept you up far too late)

Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer. Absolutely brilliant.


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A few things have happened in the last couple of weeks so here’s a bit of a catch up…


First of all, I’m delighted to announce that Probably Monsters has been nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. (It was a great way to start the day today.) You can see the full list of nominations here – there’s damn fine work in every category and I don’t envy the judges at all.


Probably Monsters

Ellen Datlow also said some very kind things about Probably Monsters in her Summation 2015 in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 8:

Probably Monsters by Ray Cluley (ChiZine Publications) is a terrific debut by a writer who has been getting increasing and well deserved attention in Great Britain (one story won the British Fantasy Award). These twenty stories showcase his broad range, including three new stories, one of which (‘Indian Giver’) is reprinted herein.”

You can order Probably Monsters direct from ChiZine here, and it’s available on Amazon here.

Best Horror of the Year 8

So yes, as mentioned, The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 8, is now available. You can order it here, and here. There’s a magnificent line-up of stories, and I’m lucky enough to be making my third appearance in this series with ‘Indian Giver’.


Also out now is Ténèbres 2016, an anthology of horror stories translated into French. I appeared in the 2011 volume with ‘Beachcombing’ and it’s just as much of a thrill to appear in the series again, this time with ‘All Change’. You can buy it from Dreampress here.


Speaking of ‘All Change’, there’s now a podcast version courtesy of Tales to Terrify for those of you who like to hear a story read aloud. I’ve not had a chance to listen to it yet myself, but Tales to Terrify did such a good job with ‘The Travellers Stay’ that I’ve no doubt it’ll sound great. Click here to have a listen, and browse through their archives – there’s loads of good stuff. (‘The Travellers Stay’ is here.)


And speaking of stories available free online, you can read ‘A Tale Before Supper’ over at This is Horror. It’s my response to M.R. James’s short tale, ‘There was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard’, a sequel of sorts and a homage, and it was great fun to write in such a style. If you want to read James’s story first, it’s online here.


And I think that’s about it for latest news. As for work in progress, I just made some last minute edits to my story ‘Trappers Valley’ which will be available soon in Crimewave 13 from TTA Press. Four stories are out there looking for homes and one has been entered into the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest (‘Tethered to the Cold and Dying’ received an Honourable Mention in 2010 so I’m hoping to beat that this time around). I’m also finishing up a few stories for anthologies, and still slogging away at the novel. So, happily busy.

Which means I should really go and get on with some writing…


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