2 October 2017
A new music presentation has been added to the Music page, entitled ‘Music from the Antipodes’.
23 April 2017
Five paintings by the English artist, Harold Hitchcock, have been added to the Writing page of this website by kind permission of the artist’s family.
10 February 2017
Richard Howard's second book of short stories, entitled Tales of the Lost, has now been published and is on sale. It is also available via the Books page of this website.
These stories bring us face to face with some very strange encounters and some unexpected twists along the way. Each story inhabits its own individual world and is told in a very direct style. As the author says in his introduction, the themes for these later stories are darker in mood than his earlier works. The longest of them, Flora's Return, was inspired by what the author regards as "the finest ghost story ever written", The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
The stories range from realms of complete fantasy to modern day settings. Some are ghost stories, others are just scary, and most have a twist in the tail. In each one there is a character who, in one way or another, is lost, hence Tales of the Lost.
Amazon review: A Small Treasure Trove of Dark Fantasy
I found this collection to be every bit as good as the author’s 2007 first volume of supernatural short stories entitled Strange Tales In Fiction And Fact. I was again struck by how even several pages into a Howard story you can’t necessarily fathom to where he might have transported the reader by the end – or indeed just a few pages further on – such are the unexpected twists and turns. For example, I was twice absorbed in what I assumed was a straight-ahead detective or mystery tale, only to find myself suddenly jolted into something quite dark and otherworldly. The stories are varied in length, pace and their time period, whilst subject matter traverses both the paranormal and what I might call ‘dark fantasy’. Many seemingly incidental phenomena in the stories cleverly have their significance revealed later on, and one can appreciate these stories for both the finer details and their larger, more subtle message. In most collections of shorts one usually finds a few 'fillers' that were not memorable, but for me every one was a page-turner leading up to a final, inspired twist. The longest story here, 'Flora's Return' is the author's own sequel to The Innocents, the 1961 gothic horror film directed by Jack Clayton (based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James). I think anyone who enjoyed that BAFTA-winning classic will not be disappointed with this sequel, and thus has good reason to purchase this book - with all other stories being an added bonus! All in all, thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
Review in Connections magazine
Before I sat down to read Tales of The Lost, I have to admit to feeling a bit of trepidation. Was this book going to be so scary that it caused me sleepless nights? The stories vary from fairy to ghost stories and touch on the supernatural.
Well, I needn’t have worried, this book of short stories does have a few scares and many unexpected twists in the plot, but it didn’t cause me to have any sleepless nights! On the contrary, the stories and the style that Howard writes in are quite thought provoking, but in a nice way.
It’s easy to read, with some stories being a few pages that can be read in as many minutes and others more involved as the author takes you and your emotions on a journey with the characters. As we approach winter, Tales of The Lost is the perfect book to settle down to read on a cosy dark evening!
20 June 2017
Amazon review: This second collection of the author's little gems is every bit as good as the first
I challenge anyone to read the first few lines of one of Richard Howard's short stories and to then resist the strong urge to continue reading, normally right through to the end in one sitting. This second collection of the author's little gems is every bit as good as the first. His fluent, concise writing style draws you in, and like good film music, the writing soon becomes transparent, leaving you immersed in the plot, eager to discover more, just as if the action were happening to you, rather than you reading it.
Elaborately woven dreamscapes, vampires, ghosts, fears, horrors within and without - if you are a lover of classic British horror stories this will draw you right in, to a world where the role of Karma and the innate natural justice of the universe collide with the frisson of beautifully engineered horror and creeping terror.
3 April 2017
Amazon review: A fabulous, thought-provoking read
"I got so much pleasure from reading these stories. Each one was like an escape into another world for me and I eagerly followed the journeys of all protagonists with keen anticipation for the outcome. I love all the twists, the different characters and the variety of themes relating to the supernatural. Reading each story was like watching a film, as they're so visual. Many made my spine tingle, others made me smile at their hidden messages. I think the author did a magnificent job of creating different narrative moods and pacing the story-telling to suit the plots and I know I’ll return to these stories time and again. I highly recommend it."
Here are some early reviews for Tales of the Lost:
"This being my first attempt at reading a short story collection, I have to say that it was a great experience! Every story is intriguing and packed with something unusual, with characters that you can live vicariously through and supernatural elements that you could never have dreamed of. There were so many myths, legends and ghost tales that were brought into this collection, and it was just great to read so many different stories about them all! I actually enjoyed the cliff-hanger feeling that each story left me with because it made me go through a rollercoaster of emotions, and culminated in a dramatic ending that made me literally go 'whoa'! Some of the longer stories could have used some more transition elements but other than that, I really enjoyed everything I read! Overall, this was a great experience for me, and I cannot wait to read more short stories!"
"This is a collection of short stories that surprised me. They range from fantasy to contemporary time periods. Each story is in its own world. I forgot everything else with each short story I read. Not all stories do this for me, especially short stories all written by the same author. The twists in each story kept me reading and enjoying them! There were unusual supernatural stories, myths, and ghost tales. There are stories that aren't scary but were still engaging to me. They are all somewhat dark. This is a book that could introduce short stories to those who enjoy reading novels. Don't pass it by because it's a short story collection!"
"This book surprised me. I wasn't expecting much because the blurb was a bit vague on what the stories were about. All I knew was this: 'Some are ghost stories, others are simply scary, and most have a twist in the tail. In each story, there is a character who, one way or another, feels lost.' I can honestly say that it delivered on that promise. What it contains is a number of delightfully twisted little stories, that aren't always scary, and there may have been one about time and a wish that went over my head, but were none the less fascinating and enjoyable to read. Do recommend for anyone who likes twists and a little bit of horror (at least the kind without gore). If I had any complaint about this book, it would be simply that it was not long enough for me, but then I'm greedy like that."