Quiet Houses author, Simon Kurt Unsworth, has produced four chapbooks of some of his best work in order to raise money for Cancer Research. The chapbooks accompany a Halloween reading that Simon performs every year in the Cancer Research shop in Morecambe, Lancs.
This Is Horror caught up with Simon, when asked about his motivation behind getting involved with the charity he said, “Well, it’s all the fault of one of the volunteers in the Cancer Research shop in Morecambe who saw my picture in the local paper when Lost Places was released and asked if they could have a book to raffle. From there, it sort of got away from me and became a Halloween reading, and I just sort of figured that creating the single story chapbooks was a good way of making some money for a good cause (£1 from each book sold goes to the shop). By the second of the Halloween readings, it was fun to write a story in the shop (in their haunted loft, no less!), and to set it in the shop and pepper it with people from the shop (Hazel and Ken specifically). The chapbooks serve as a good way of introducing people to my work – without them having to spend a fortune – and raises money for a cause that touches, I suspect, all of us. The stories I read and make into chapbooks are a mix of new and old tales, and it’s good to think that these very slight tales of mine might contribute to a development which may one day save lives…”
The four chapbooks that are available currently are Left Behind, The Pennine Tower Restaurant, The Pyramid Spider and Photographs of Boden. All are excellent in their own different ways.
Left Behind is set in a charity shop and dedicated to the people that currently run the one in Morecambe. Written in the haunted loft in the shop itself, Unsworth manages to turn the anticipation and feelings of good associated with sorting through the charity shop jumble and turn it into something altogether more sinister.
The Pennine Tower Restaurant was originally published in Simon’s Lost Places collection and perhaps gains in strength as a chapbook. This story is without doubt the scariest thing that Simon has written in his career to date. He tracks the very real history of the Pennine Tower Restaurant, a structure that still towers over the M6 motorway to this day. The authenticity of the piece resonates throughout, this truly is one of the creepiest short stories out there.
The Pyramid Spider is a story constructed through the letters of a 1950’s language student that visited Papua New Guinea to further his education. Whilst there he encounters a strange, cultish religion and their traditions. The story unfolds through the conjecture and background rumour contained in the letters and Unsworth plays his hand slowly and carefully throughout.
Last and by no means least is Photographs of Boden, an engaging story about a man rooting through photographs of his childhood and finds a black dot growing over his face in some of the photos. The story is a heart wrenching one, preying on Boden’s (and the reader’s) fear of being forgotten or our treasured memories turning sour. This affecting story is an absolute gem and a must-read for those who like an emotional edge to their horror.
The chapbooks are all excellent and the money donated goes to a good cause. The books can be ordered directly from Simon via email – firstname.lastname@example.org. They are priced at £3.50 each or £13 for all four with at least £1 from each book given to Cancer Research UK. Treat yourself.