Saturday 9 January 2016

The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories Withdrawn From Spectral

It's probably no secret by now that there have been some long-standing problems in regards to mine and artist Duncan Kay's collection The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories and its release from UK small press Spectral; it's no secret by now, either, that Spectral has been having some significant difficulties which have culminated in it falling under the banner of another UK small press, Tickety Boo, as an effort to get to grips with its considerable debts and outstanding pre-orders.

Just before that happened, Duncan and I made the final decision to withdraw our work from Spectral.  This wasn't related in any direct way to the wider turmoil, though I suppose in retrospect that it was all part and parcel of the same thing.  At any rate, the chain of events was this: after a series of delays since the book's intended release date of August last year, we had agreed a final release date, which it became apparent wasn't going to be met.  Given the choice between delaying the book yet again and hunting another home for it, Duncan and I decided that it would be in everyone's best interests to go with the latter.  It wasn't an easy or a fun decision, just as the months of discussion, doubt and worry that had led up to it hadn't been easy or fun.  But we felt it was the best move for us, both personally and professionally, and after that there really didn't seem to be much of a choice.

Spectral publisher and owner Simon Marshall-Jones has asked me not to go into detail about the problems that led up to that point, and out of respect for Simon and his ongoing health problems I'm happy to accede to that.  Frankly it's not something I'm desperately eager to talk about anyway; this has been a tough experience for everyone and the best thing now is undoubtedly for all involved to start picking up the pieces.  Duncan and I are hopeful of having another publisher take up the paperback and e-book editions, and I'll be trying to figure out something for the hardback, which was the original point of the collection.  We certainly haven't, and won't, give up on this book; for me that comes down to the fact that Duncan's illustrations are tremendously wonderful and deserve to be seen.  Likewise, I'm hopeful that Simon will find ways to pick Spectral up and get it back on its feet, and - though I feel there are certain details that warrant more thought than they've perhaps been given - the move to Tickety Boo is hopefully a first step towards that.  Small presses have come back from worse, and at its best Spectral was a valuable force in the industry.  It deserves another chance.

On a final note, however, I feel obliged to point out that I'm absolutely not okay with the criticism and abuse that's been addressed by certain adherents of the Marshall-Jones camp towards fellow writers who've decided to withdraw their work or their financial backing from Spectral.  Nor am I impressed by the people who've condoned or made excuses for such behaviour based on only a narrow and one-sided sliver of the facts.  Whether or not it happened out in the open, mistakes were unquestionably made here, people got hurt both professionally and financially in ways that could certainly have been avoided, and even if none of that were the case, those involved in commercial relationships have every right to defend their livelihoods in whatever ways they deem appropriate.  None of that warrants being sworn at and insulted; and I think we all basically know that, right?

Anyway, when I last looked it appeared that apologies were being tentatively made and barricades taken down, so hopefully we're past the ugly, recriminatory phase and into something more positive.  And that's about all I have to say on the matter, except to thank those who've been supportive of this project, of me, or of both over the last few months.  It's been an ugly mess, all told, but hopefully the worst is behind us, and one way or another you'll get to see The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories, even if I have to publish it myself on my own flayed skin.

Wait, no, not that.


  1. =hugs= Yeah, definitely do something other than your own flayed skin. Certainly there is other flayed skin available, right?

    I mean, didn't Lovecraft prove that?


    Anyway, best of luck on the book's new future home, because I'm sure The Sign will find it.


  2. Thanks! I'm hopeful. Finger's crossed for more news in the not too distant future.