Black Country - Joel Lane
"'Black Country' is one of a sequence of weird crime stories set in the West Midlands that I've been working on for years," says Joel Lane. "A collection of them is forthcoming with the title Where Furnaces Burn. 'Black Country' is also a sequel to my earlier story 'The Lost District', which describes another narrator's experience of Clayheath.
"I'd like to thank The Nightingales and Gul Y. Davis, whose words influenced this story. It was originally published as a chapbook by Nightjar Press, with an enigmatic cover illustration by Birmingham photographer Trav28."
We All Fall Down - Kirstyn McDermott
"I carried the bones of this story around for quite a few years before I finally stumbled upon its beating heart," explains the author. "In my head was the image of a doll house, huge and not quite right, and a woman searching desperately for something concealed inside. But I could never work a story around it that didn't seem twee. Doll houses, you know?
"But then Emma and Holly appeared - trapped within their own fractured, futile relationship - and everything just, well, fell together. Beautifully. Awfully. And now I have a doll house story. Of a kind."
Telling - Steve Rasnic Tem
"As for the following story," reveals Steve Rasnic Tem, "it began with a dreadful image at the end of a dream. I couldn't remember the other details of that dream, but I was determined to find out where that image might have come from."
A Revelation of Cormorants - Mark Valentine
"'A Revelation of Cormorants' first appeared in the excellent series of chapbooks published by Nicholas Royle's Nightjar Press," explains Valentine, "and I first encountered the dark grace of the cormorant while visiting Galloway with Jo."
Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls - Brian Hodge
"I hardly ever write extended fragments of things and then leave them indefinitely," Brian Hodge reveals, "but that's how 'Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls' got started.
"I first wrote the part about the fantasised magic show, plus the earliest bit about Roni moving in, after rereading a Thomas Ligotti collection. It may not be apparent to anyone else, but some flavour of his lingered in me for a little while and wanted to come out, and the magic show was the result.
"Then it sat idle for three years or so before I knew what more to do with it. Maybe because I had to forget about how it had begun and get back to being myself again."