Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Bleeding Horse

In 2008, Mercier Press (a Irish publishing company) brought out a hardbound collection of short stories, The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories, by my buddy Brian Showers. This was a nice-looking book with a great dust-jacket painting by the amazing Scott Hampton, who has done a lot of work for DC Comics, including Batman and Simon Dark (the latter with Steve Niles, who created 30 Days of Night). I was very pleased to be a part of this work by providing the black-and-white interior illustrations, one of which I've included here.

Brian crafted his stories about actual locations along Rathmines Road, which leads through the community of Rathmines into Dublin. Woven among the factual and historical bits are the clever fictional elements of the ghost stories, and performs this task so very well that one really can't tell where the truth ends and the fiction begins. The book has some minor popularity among fans of ghost stories, and famed anthologist Ellen Datlow (former fiction editor for Omni Magazine and the Sci Fi Channel's web site, and co-editor of many annual Best Of Fantasy & Horror collections, among others) selected three stories from Bleeding Horse for Honorable Mentions in Best Horror of the Year, volume 1 (2008): "Father Corrigan's Diary," "Favourite No. 7 Omnibus," and "Quis Separabit."

The book's biggest honor came with winning The Children of the Night Award (2008) from The Dracula Society for "the best piece of literature published in the Gothic (including horror or supernatural) genre -- novel, short story, or biography." The competition was stiff that year, with nominations going as well to perennially best-selling author Neil Gaiman (for The Graveyard Book) and John Harwood (The Seance). While Brian's stories carry the show, I hope my illustrations added to the proper atmosphere.

By the way, the Bleeding Horse is the name of a pub. No actual horses were harmed during the writing of these stories.

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