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Richard_gavin (Richard_gavin)
Username: Richard_gavin

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 65.110.174.71
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:24 pm:   

Folks, emotions seem to be boiling over a bit on other parts of this message board.

I'm certainly not trying to take the reins here, but I thought it might be prudent to start a fresh thread that touches upon what brought us all here in the first place: the work of Ramsey Campbell.

(As a very brief aside: the tribe of women and men who care deeply about horror is very small. A lot of people may poke their head into this dark cave every now and again, but few make the darkness their passion and vocation. In short: although we are each unique and have our own perspectives on the world, we're nonetheless part of the same tribe. Let us not lose sight of this.)

Now, I'd be interested in learning how everyone discovered Ramsey's work.

For me, it was "Mackintosh Willy" from Shadows 2. I was eleven at the time and didn't fully grasp what I'd read, but the bits I did comprehend unnerved me.

I soon after saw Ramsey's name on the spine of a fat novel called The Parasite, which I bought and read, and was again frightened by.

Then came The Influence. Ye gods, The Influence...

I read most of that book in a park in one sitting and lost all sense of my surroundings. The story owned me completely.

Anyone else?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:33 pm:   

Through Danse Macabre. Incarnate, first, and then all the rest.
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:37 pm:   

The Gruesome Book - aged about 12 - was my first introduction to adult horror stories so not only my intro to the Landlord, but to the genre proper.
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Richard_gavin (Richard_gavin)
Username: Richard_gavin

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 65.110.174.71
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:41 pm:   

You *started* with Incarnate, Gary? Wow. How did you manage to cling to your sanity, or did you?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:43 pm:   

I think the evidence I reveal daily answers that, Richard. :-)
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:46 pm:   

Reading 'Cold Print' in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, then 'Among the pictures are these' in Nyctalops. Shortly after that I found a second-hand copy of Demons By Daylight in paperback, then bought the Arkham House edition of The Height of the Scream. That was all somewhere between 1978 and 1980.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 06-2008
Posted From: 86.146.253.215
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:48 pm:   

As far as I can remember, J Ramsey Campbell was fiction I first encountered in the Sixties (Lovecraftian etc), then I read Doll Who Ate His Mother (signed by RC for me as a just another fan of his work at a BFS convention in 1978 or 1979) and then, boy oh boy, Incarnate. Recently I was bowled over by The Grin Of The Dark and his earlier Collection Grisly Things - and in between I read several collections in the Eighties and Nineties (but I still have to get round to many of his novels). His name has always been on my list of favourite writers that includes Dickens, Proust, Aickman, Ligotti, Elizabeth Bowen, Stephen King...
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.74
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:50 pm:   

I looked in the mirror and, God help me, there he was.
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 02:56 pm:   

Or was it? are you really you? there is apparently some doubt on the subject...
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Richard_gavin (Richard_gavin)
Username: Richard_gavin

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 65.110.174.71
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 03:05 pm:   

Ramsey wrote:
"I looked in the mirror and, God help me, there he was."

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Steveduffy (Steveduffy)
Username: Steveduffy

Registered: 05-2009
Posted From: 86.162.149.113
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 03:09 pm:   

DEMONS BY DAYLIGHT (the 1975 Star reprint), found on the second-hand stall in the old covered market in Rhyl. It was the 1970s, and I was bunking off school. I used to go to this stall, buy a book and take it to the Floral Hall (a big Kew Gardens-like greenhouse building on the promenade - demolished now), where I'd sit on a bench and read it. DBD comprehensively rocked my teenaged world.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 03:26 pm:   

It was "Dark Companions" (bought in good old Woolies in the seventies) which got me. Closely followed by "Demons by Daylight". After that, I sought out as many Ramsey shorts as I could, where ever I could.

I confess I haven't read many novels (I'm more of a short story person than a novel person anyway). "Grin .." is, of course, superb - as is my favourite "Needing Ghosts". I'd go as far as to say I've never read anything as good as "Needing Ghosts".
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 03:27 pm:   

I borrowed 'The Nameless' from the library as a teenage horror nut and was thoroughly unnerved by it - the chapter in which the female reporter goes undercover to infiltrate the satanic cult gave me nightmares and the sheer intensity of that poor mother's plight I found intensely affecting.

It was the first time I remember experiencing a horror text that haunted the mind in a truly literary sense. From there I went on to discover his short stories and especially remember 'Mackintosh Willy' scaring the crap out of me.

I then got rather sidetracked and only rediscovered Ramsey Campbell in recent years through more of his short stories and then resolved to read all his novels in chronological order.

The man is hands down the greatest living horror author and has the most consistently impressive back catalogue of any of them. That's not me being sycophantic it's merely my honest opinion and the reason I choose this message board to blabber on above all others... nuff said.
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Johnny_mains (Johnny_mains)
Username: Johnny_mains

Registered: 01-2010
Posted From: 82.22.70.137
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 04:06 pm:   

Travellers By Night - ed by Derleth. Story was The Cellars. The only Ramsey Campbell story that's ever made me nervous after reading it in the dead of night...
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.5.0.206
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 04:19 pm:   

I discovered Ramsey reading "The Tugging" in a ratty DAW paperback copy of The Disciples of Cthulhu, and it so disturbed me at the time (Lovecraftian existentialism did, back then), I looked for more and found "Cold Print" in another Lovecraft-esque anthology, then went from there to a collection of short stories, and then The Parasite, and so on and so on and so on....
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.96.240.106
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 04:28 pm:   

Danse Macabre first, much like GF, and then I found a copy of Demons By Daylight (the same edition Mr. Duffy quotes) in the Sunderland second-hand bookstore I used to practically live in every weekend. The first RC novel I read was a copy of The Doll Who Ate His Mother I picked up in my local Hills bookshop.

Ah, giddy days.

I recall walking home pissed from parties, seeing scenes of urban degredation and squalor, and me and my mate turning to each other and one of us saying "This is Ramsey Campbell country".
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Nathaniel Tapley (Natt)
Username: Natt

Registered: 11-2009
Posted From: 78.149.172.181
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 05:28 pm:   

I was preparing to write the first In The Gloaming podcasts and, coming from a comedy background, thought I should learn something about writing horror. I picked up a copy of Danse Macabre in Oxfam, and a new world opened up.

I discovered Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Arch Oboler, and, through them, I've discovered many others. It's been an exciting year.

I read 'The Grin In The Dark' whilst trying to soothe a baby Who Would Not Sleep through May and June. Through my sleep-deprived fug I knew I had found something special; I loved it.

Then, once the first episode was finished, I sent it to The Landlord, and he was very nice about it, and sent me a very encouraging email, in which I discovered that he was not just a great writer but a very nice man. That's what led me here.

Reading 'Alone With The Horrors' in the runup to Christmas just cemented my admiration for RC.
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Chris_morris (Chris_morris)
Username: Chris_morris

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 12.165.240.116
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 06:14 pm:   

The Doll Who Ate His Mother, at age eleven or twelve. I went with my father to the bookstore every week and became obsessed with that paperback -- it wasn't the garish cover; it was the title. After a lot of harassment, I finally got my father to buy it for me, and although I can't say I wholly understood the book, I loved it anyway, and happily purchased the next Campbell book I found straightaway. (The Parasite.) And now here I am.
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.202.7
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 06:20 pm:   

The Hungry Moon about 1987(?)

Then, 'Doll...then 'Cold Print' then I simply absorbed every book I could find.

My discovery of RC's work coincided with a lot of his books being reissued by Warner so it seemed that no sooner had I read one than another appeared on the shelves.

Happy days...

gcw
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 07:26 pm:   

Not sure - I think it may have been the paperback of Demons by Daylight some time in the mid 'seventies, which I loved enough to get hold of in the original Arkham, then I got the Arkham of Height of the Scream and never looked back, apart from buying Inhabitant... back in the 'eighties for about fifty quid as I knew I wanted it and that it would only go up in price over the years, as indeed it has - Abebooks doesn't have any copies in good nick with dw for less than around $250, although they're not the best guide.
I also have the Scream/Press stuff, which is lovely. I have hardbacks for most, but a handful I only have in paperback (Nazareth Hill, Obsession), and mostly in firsts too. Cost me a fortune, 'e 'as, that guvnor.
I also have a fair few anthologies he's in, like Travellers by Night and Over The Edge - neither signed by the landlord but Travellers... is signed by Derleth.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 07:33 pm:   

>>>but Travellers... is signed by Derleth.

When you next on holiday, mate . . . Remind me of your address . . .

[devious fiendish mischievous laughter]
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 07:49 pm:   

Ok Gary - save you any hassle, I'll leave it by the back door!
It's actually Brian Lumley's copy - I waited until he was on holiday too...

g
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 07:50 pm:   

...or rather, it was Brian Mumley's until he sold it off in the 'eighties.
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 07:51 pm:   

"Mumley"? What the hell's going on with this keyboard?
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 08:35 pm:   

Now - as a signed book fetishist - I'm green with envy. I'll be queueing up to burgle your house too, Mick.
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.204.111.196
Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - 09:36 pm:   

I wandered into an independent bookshop in the mid eighties, just after I began working in Sheffield. My local bookshop stocked only Stephen King, James Herbert, et al, so I thought that - together with the Pan Horrors that I inherited from my auntie - covered all the bases of horror. I bought The Doll Who Ate His Mother, mainly because of the title and the artwork. I loved it so much I began to hunt for his other work. And then I read Dark Feasts, and I was amazed by what the short story could do.
To this day 'The Chimney' remains my favourite short story ever.
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Alansjf (Alansjf)
Username: Alansjf

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 93.96.45.148
Posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010 - 02:29 am:   

Hmmm ... It was either 'Second Sight' in J. N. Williamson's Masques II or 'Hearing is Believing' in Charles L. Grant's Shadows (UK edition - actually Shadows 4).

But I do know I immediately started working my way through the measly selection of Ramsey Campbell from my local library, and not long after found a copy of The Doll Who Ate His Mother in a charity shop - the green Jove paperback with the doll with the BIG eyes on the cover ...

I haven't been the same since.
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Mark West (Mark_west)
Username: Mark_west

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.39.177.173
Posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010 - 11:04 am:   

Through "Danse Macabre" and then "Dark Forces". The first novel I managed to pick up was "The Doll Who Ate His Mother", which was the one that piqued my interest from the King book.
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Huw (Huw)
Username: Huw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 61.216.200.227
Posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010 - 05:51 pm:   

It was Dark Forces and Danse Macabre for me, too. I read them both in 1981 (I remember them being two of the first books I read when I moved to Taiwan), and immediately scoured the few English-language bookshops for RC titles. I was in luck! They had the UK paperback editions of The Doll Who Ate His Mother and The Nameless. It was hard to find any horror fiction in Taiwan back then, aside from the latest Stephen King and Peter Straub bestsellers, so I was really fortunate to find those early titles, which still occupy a special space of honour among the other paperbacks in my collection. The next time I returned to the UK for a holiday I made sure to find everything I didn't already own, like Cold Print and The Parasite.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 85.210.148.163
Posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010 - 09:36 pm:   

The first time I saw Ramsey Campbell was on the M62 on the way to a gig he was doing in York. I was going to the gig with a pal, and jokingly said, "You know, if Ramsey Campbell's driving there, he may be on this motorway about now, assuming he's not been in York all day or something."

A minute later, a somewhat battered small red (I think it was) car edged alongside us, driven by Ramsey, who was leaning over the steering wheel with his spectacles on his forehead, and he cut in in front of us rather rapidly for the turn off to Leeds, presumably to take the A64 to York . . .

I'd to brake of course, and I laughingly commented about the scene where it all began to go wrong for the protagonists in THE LONG LOST. Ramsey made it to the York gig and we saw his car wedged half on the pavement between two other cars near the bookstore when we got there.

The first Ramsey I read was DARK COMPANIONS when I was about 13 and I quickly sought out his novels and have been reading him ever since. No other writer has so often given me nightmares with his fiction, or caused in me the sensation of delicious dread that Ramsey has done. He's still the best.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.36.194
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010 - 03:11 am:   

Seeing Ramsey on HORROR CAFE in 1990, then reading "Call First" in an anthology. Then discovering that his other stories were of even better quality.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010 - 10:47 am:   

I first met Ramsey in Bradford in about 1992. He had an argument on stage with a Hutson fan. Class. Doug Bradley, Kim Newman and a female academic talking about Dracula were also there. It was a great gig.

Do you recall that event, Ramsey? Seems like a looong time ago now. I was about 21. Oh, the horror!
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Richard_gavin (Richard_gavin)
Username: Richard_gavin

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 65.110.174.71
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010 - 12:20 pm:   

I'm really enjoying reading these reminiscences.

It's a good thing we have used-book stores in the world. I began building my horror library through them.

A quick story:

During high school I used to frequent one tiny little used-book shop. I collected many of my Ramsey titles from there in fact. They carried a lot of paperbacks and lined the topmost shelves with hardcovers in mylar sleeves.

Last summer, for a lark, I visited the store for the first time in ages. When I went to the horror section I not only found the kinds of books that got me writing horror, but there on the upper shelf was a copy of my own Omens. Full circle indeed.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.225.57
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010 - 09:08 pm:   

"De bewoner van het meer", aka "The Inhabitant of the Lake", in a Dutch-language book including tales by Clark Ashton Smith (the magnificent "Vulthoom"), Donald Wandrei, Robert Bloch, Manley Wade Wellman, Carl Jacobi, Robert Ervin Howard and James Blish. It took me a long time to find anything else by John Ramsey Campbell, years as I recall. First novel: The Nameless, in 1983 or thereabouts.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.225.57
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010 - 09:15 pm:   

First and (until now) last time I met him: NecronomiCON 2, in 1995.
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Friday, January 08, 2010 - 10:30 pm:   

First time I spoke with Ramsey was on the steps of the Metropole Hotel in Brighton at Seacon '84, where he signed the copy of Incarnate I'd won in a charity auction there.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.224.216
Posted on Saturday, January 09, 2010 - 11:16 am:   

I remember I was wearing a T shirt with a picture of Lovecraft's face on it, or rather optically distorted bits and pieces of good old HPL's visage. I came face to face with Ramsey - and it did seem to me he was perturbed by what he saw.
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Skunsworth (Skunsworth)
Username: Skunsworth

Registered: 05-2009
Posted From: 92.28.43.77
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 10:29 am:   

I read The Doll Who Ate His Mother while I was at uni (probably in '90), and have to say it didn't grab me (sorry, Ramsey!). A friend then sent me Alone with the Horrors for Christmas a couple of years ago (thanks Huw!) and I was hooked. I went and bought a lot of the novels (and I'm going hunting for The Influence today), of which my favourite is still probably The Overnight. I'm a latecomer... I met Ramsey briefly at FCon 08, and then had the pleasure of signing 250 signing sheets sitting next to him at FCon 09.

S
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.21.22.50
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 12:12 pm:   

"The Inhabitant of the Lake" (which I discovered in 1971!) has continued to haunt me. My father, who likes the story too, recently did a painting of the scene with the six houses by the lake. He's missed a thing or two, but the colours are apprpriately nightmarish.
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.202.7
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 12:33 pm:   

I have only met the Mighty RC a couple of times...All at Fantasycon's.

I do try to be memorable though, as I heckled & laughed through (what I considered in my drunken state)a rather tedious panel he was chairing.

I was very pissed.

I did apologise the next day, and to his credit he didn't take offence.

Sorry Ramsey! - I will avoid panels this September!

gcw:-)
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 12:49 pm:   

I was so outraged at your behaviour, GCW, that I immediately feigned a fainting fit to rescue the day!
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.170.202.7
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 12:57 pm:   

You just had to top me didn't you!?

The funniest thing was me & Volk dragging you back to your room as I said.." oh, yer that Stephen Volk, I DID like that Ghostwatch thing you did..."

gcw!
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Jonathan (Jonathan)
Username: Jonathan

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.109.171.18
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 01:04 pm:   

I first came across Ramsey's work when, at the age of 13 or so I took out Waking Nightmares from the local library. I'd been reading the usual suspects (Herbert, Laymon, Koontz, King) up to this point but never come across horror fiction quite like this before. It made me realise that horror was capable of much more than I had previously been aware, that it was literature in its own right. I then moved onto Count of Eleven which I loved so much I wrote Ramsey a letter, which he was kind enough to respond to. Ramsey suggested some pointers on further reading in the genre (and outside it) and I haven't looked back.
I was 17 when I went to my first convention (welcome to my nighmare in Wales) and I went because Ramsey was one of the guests. As soon as I saw him I ran up to him, eyes aflame with a weird light and said: "You're Ramsey Campbell aren't you?" "Yes," said he. "You're the reason I came!" Ramsey was good enough not to call the police and signed all the books I'd brought along with me while chatting about his work. At that convention I met people who would later become friends. For my BA at university I did a dissertation on Miserablism in British Horror Fiction and Ramsey was one of the main folk I wrote about. I asked Ramsey whether I could interview him for the dissertation and he said I should come up to Liverpool. Ramsey and Jenny were kind enough to take me into their house, feed and water me. I was a little bit awed as, by now, Ramsey was one my big writing heroes. But that's the great thing about Ramsey, he always puts you at your ease and is just as interested in you in the conversation as he is in his own writing. Ramsey gave me a great interview. I've still got the old cassettes somewhere. No idea how I'd make the audio available or if I'd even want to hear a 19 year old me stumbling over questions.
I also interviewed Joel Lane for the paper, another author who became a great friend along with Conrad Williams and Mark Morris. All were very supportive in the project (wishI could say the same about the academic supervisor, who was very snooty about horror and pretty much told me, this is trash so I'm not even going to deem it with a proper analysis). Still I got a 2.1
Ramsey has provided inspiration through the years as well as pointing the way to many other great writers.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 80.43.214.156
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 01:39 pm:   

Same as Simon...I'm a latecomer, too. Started with Alone with the Horrors and Scared Stiff and am slowly working through the novels.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 02:32 pm:   

>>>All were very supportive in the project (wishI could say the same about the academic supervisor, who was very snooty about horror and pretty much told me, this is trash so I'm not even going to deem it with a proper analysis).

I drew on Ramsey's work in my PhD and my supervisors were full of praise for the short story passage I analysed. In fact, one of the external examiners said the passage was particularly effective, and the other authors I drew upon were Dostoevsky, E M Forster, Penelope Lively, Daphne du Maurier and Katherine Mansfield. The year after, some of the same folk were involved in an academic conference based on Buffy. So this attitude isn't blanket in academia. Thank goodness. Shame you got one who couldn't see the darkest part of the wood for the trees, Jon . . .
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 02:40 pm:   

>>>The funniest thing was me & Volk dragging you back to your room as I said.." oh, yer that Stephen Volk, I DID like that Ghostwatch thing you did..."

Oh yeah? Funniest thing was that the first thing I recall whwne I came to was the face of Stephen Volk looming over me - the guy who'd just written a show in which a psychologist died of a brain tumour after collapsing. Not funny, really.

I mentioned the Volk episode to a friend and he replied with one one word: "Rohypnol." :-)
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Matt_cowan (Matt_cowan)
Username: Matt_cowan

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 68.249.98.166
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 11:21 pm:   

Ancient Images was one of the first novels I ever read. After that I sought out more works by him and discovered how much I loved his work. If I were to list my top twenty favorite horror short stories ever, Ramsey's would take up the top ten spots at least!
I have never been able to meet Ramsey, which is disappointing because I would really like to one day. There is a slim chance I might get to go to a con this year that Ramsey is listed as attending but it is a long shot. If I go my sole reason for making the trip would be to meet him.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.178.198
Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010 - 11:53 pm:   

"Ancient Images was one of the first novels I ever read."

Matt, are you serious? How old were you? Didn't you read any novels for children when you were a child?
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Matt_cowan (Matt_cowan)
Username: Matt_cowan

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 68.249.98.166
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 12:33 am:   

"Ancient Images was one of the first novels I ever read."

Matt, are you serious? How old were you? Didn't you read any novels for children when you were a child?


I'm 38 and I guess I did read a ton of Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigator books but I never really think of those sort of books as actual novels. You're right though, I didn't think of them. Ancient Images was one of the first actual non-young adult novels I ever read. I remember reading Michael Talbot's Night Things first. I really loved that novel as well.
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.204.111.196
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 01:20 am:   

Matt, I got into genre fiction through The Three Investigators. By name association - after reading the series - I graduated to some of the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, where my love of the featured authors grew.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.10.7.83
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 08:01 am:   

>>>Matt, are you serious? How old were you? Didn't you read any novels for children when you were a child?

Other than a few Dahl, I read no novels until I was about 15. My parents believed that television alone possessed the power of emancipation. At least I think that's what they believed. They certainly switched it on with religious regularity.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 89.19.83.26
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 05:48 pm:   

"Matt, are you serious? How old were you? Didn't you read any novels for children when you were a child?"

I set a simple task in a computer class of a first year college - make a Powerpoint presentation about your favourite book. One student was stuck and explained he's never read a book for pleasure.

Face it, books are optional now. 3D films are the new 2D films. 2D films are the new books. Books are the new knitting.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 06-2008
Posted From: 86.166.189.232
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 06:51 pm:   

Books are the new knitting.
======================

Indeed.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.27.21.184
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 07:30 pm:   

Keep you warm in winter.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.152.212.122
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 07:54 pm:   

But knitting's the new snowboarding, so I'm not sure where that leaves us.

The reading lobby needs to be more muscular. It needs to elbow its way into the multi-media world on the basis of the unique powers that only written words can possess. Readers and writers need to assert themselves.
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Alansjf (Alansjf)
Username: Alansjf

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 93.96.45.148
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 08:02 pm:   

To the best of my recollection, I didn't read very much of anything until around 14/15 years of age, when I came across Poe and one of Clive Barker's Books of Blood. From there it was on to anything of a similar vein my local library had to offer - including, of course, Ramsey Campbell.

It's strange. I do remember hating English in school - one of numerous reasons for my dislike - but ever since my mid-late teens I've been a voracious reader. Making up for lost time, I guess.
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.156.38.66
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 08:35 pm:   

Strange, I always read.

Janet & John, Biggles, Famous 5, Doctor Who books, Observer Book of's.

First truly adult book I read was 'Winged Victory' by VM Yeats, which I read at the incredibly young age of about 10!

First Horror...? Quite possibly The Rats , or maybe The Fog by good old Herby....

gcw
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 08:57 pm:   

Strange, I always read.

Me too. My parents taught me to read before I started school, and I can't recall a time I didn't read.
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.204.111.196
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 09:22 pm:   

I've always read. There was a particularly friendly librarian who used to allow me to borrow 'adult' books from our local library. I'd have to choose my visits carefully, as she only worked on certain days.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.112.155
Posted on Monday, January 11, 2010 - 10:26 pm:   

By sheer luck, my first horror was proabably M.R. James' "There was a man Dwelt by a Churchyard". It was all downhill after that.
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Matt_cowan (Matt_cowan)
Username: Matt_cowan

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 68.249.98.166
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 12:35 am:   

"I've always read. There was a particularly friendly librarian who used to allow me to borrow 'adult' books from our local library. I'd have to choose my visits carefully, as she only worked on certain days."

It's funny but the librarian at my Jr. High School actually complained to my parents about my reading. I just kept checking out all their Three Investigator books one right after another, so the librarian told my Mom they should make me get something else to read for a change. Luckily my Mom told her she was just glad I found something I liked to read without being forced. It worked out in the end. I'm still not sure why that librarian felt strongly enough to say something about it.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 10:52 am:   

I can remember reading from a ridiculously early age but was never drawn to books like the Famous Five or whatever - they always looked too dull.

It was Lewis Carroll, the Narnia books, 'The Hobbit' and 'The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen' sent me down the fantasy path. Then when I was a bit older I got stuck into Howard Baker's wonderful facsimiles of 'The Magnet' (still a passion), Robert E. Howard's 'Conan' series (ditto) and my Mum's Agatha Christie collection - drawn by the fantastic cover art. People used to laugh at this young kid struggling through 'Murder On The Orient Express' faced screwed up in concentration - happy days.
The first adult horror novel I can remember reading (when barely into double figures) was Guy N. Smith's 'Night Of The Crabs' and I distinctly recall a young Stephen wondering what this mysterious black triangle was that all women possess and all men seek?!?! After that the mind-boggling perversities of the 'Pan Horror' series beckoned and the die was cast.
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.176.5.66
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 11:00 am:   

Stephen - yep, 'The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen' nd the Narnia books for me too, plus the C S Lewis trilogy...
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 11:28 am:   

I love the Space Trilogy as well, Mick!

Read 'Out Of The Silent Planet' in school and still find Ransom's first bewildered view of Malacandra one of the most vivid and powerful imaginings of an alien landscape I have read.

I re-read the book a few years ago followed by the rest of the trilogy and found the satanic elements in 'Voyage To Venus' & 'That Hideous Strength' (unexpurgated editions) unexpectedly unnerving for Lewis. Ransom's descent into the Caves of Perelandra pursued by the Un-man is a tour-de-force of cosmic horror worthy of Lovecraft imo. A highly underrated trilogy for adults!
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 11:43 am:   

I could read (and write my own name) before I went to school. I had a reading age of 14 when I was 5. I can't remember not reading for pleasure. Started with Enid Blyton - The Faraway Tree was my favourite for a long time - moved on to Hardy Boys and 3 Investigators and from there to Alan garner and ray Bradbury and eventually to the landlord.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.219.8.243
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 11:57 am:   

I had a reading age of 110 when I was in the womb. I was born readng a copy of Crime and Punishment - in the original Russian.

Beat that, daddio...
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 12:38 pm:   

I invented a time machine when I were 2 and went back in time to explain relativity to that thick twat Albert Einstein.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.219.8.243
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 12:47 pm:   

That's just silly.
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 12:52 pm:   

All right, I'm exaggerating. I was 3 when I made my time machine.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 01:36 pm:   

You then lent it to Ursula le Guin so she could use it to go forward in time by three decades and plagiarise the Harry Potter books.
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 01:48 pm:   

And Neil Gaiman as well.
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 02:26 pm:   

"I was born readng a copy of Crime and Punishment - in the original Russian. "

I hope you were careful on the way out. You could have given your mum a really nasty papercut...
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.157.23.22
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 04:49 pm:   

The Pattern, about 1979, Washington library.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.157.23.22
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 04:53 pm:   

I've had no-one I know to read Ramsey 'with'. No-one else I knew really got him, or seemed as bothered about good horror as much as I was. This still makes me sad.
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Gcw (Gcw)
Username: Gcw

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.156.38.66
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 06:32 pm:   

Same here really Tony,but equally, I don't always like to 'share'...Same with music, I never try to convince people they should be listening to stuff I like...it's MINE to enjoy.

gcw
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Matt_cowan (Matt_cowan)
Username: Matt_cowan

Registered: 04-2008
Posted From: 68.249.98.166
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 06:34 pm:   

"I've had no-one I know to read Ramsey 'with'. No-one else I knew really got him, or seemed as bothered about good horror as much as I was. This still makes me sad."

I do wish more people checked out his work. It makes no sense that you can find hordes of John Saul books everywhere but Ramsey's you have to hunt for. I'll never understand that. If I were to list my top five writers of all time Ramsey Campbell is #1 (followed by M.R. James, William Hope Hodgeson and J. Sheridan Lefanu in the next three spots. I like lists)
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.21.235.50
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 07:37 pm:   

Yes, Ramsey's books should be easier to find. On the other hand, if he were to become a bestselling author like Ludlum (look for Lovecraft and you find Ludlum, hurrah!) possibly his output would begin to reflect that. For now I like to believe he pretty much writes what he wants and I love him for it.
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Alansjf (Alansjf)
Username: Alansjf

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 93.96.45.148
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 07:39 pm:   

I feel oddly privileged to be one of the people Mr Campbell is able to scare witless. He's always been high on my list of writers I'd recommend to anyone interested in discovering what horror, at its best, can do.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.96.240.106
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 08:18 pm:   

Hear-hear, Alan. I feel oddly privileged simply to read work as good as Ramsey's. I'm currently nearing the end of CREATURES OF THE POOL, and it's been an exttraordinary reading experience.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 79.71.159.85
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 09:40 pm:   

Independent booksellers should be championing people like Ramsey. He's the kind of writer who'll build well from word of mouth, from customer to customer, and his PS books sell at the same price in bookstores as they do online, so he's a great author to market in that respect too. You're no competing against online retailers with, say, his new collection.

I see Waterstones is on the brink of going down the pan too, by the way, after Borders . . . Sharp profits drop and swift managerial changes. Oh boy.
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Seanmcd (Seanmcd)
Username: Seanmcd

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 86.155.107.188
Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2010 - 10:49 pm:   

For me, my very first encounter was borrowing the Ramsey edited anthology 'The Gruesome Book' from the school library. It contained his short story 'Midnight Hobo' which stuck in my mind. Then I read recommendations later in Danse Macabre and Stephen (Walsh that is, not King) also raved about 'The Nameless' at this time. A few years later and I finally read my first Ramsey novel, 'The Doll who Ate His Mother' and I was hooked. I bought up everything he had published up to the late eighties (up to Ancient Images)and resolved to get them all read within a year. I read 'The Face that Must Die' and the 'Dark Feasts' short story collection. Then I got married, moved house and off they went (most unread) to the local second hand bookshop.
I have, of course, regained my collection and am enjoying catching up. Think I'll read 'Grin of the Dark' soon.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.96.240.106
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 12:13 am:   

I see Waterstones is on the brink of going down the pan too

That's not how I read the situation, Lynchy. They're going back to basics: letting the staff of the stores decide which books to buy, trying to be more like indy bookshops, etc. They've suddenly remembered that book-buying is a social activity.
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Stephen Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 10:56 am:   

I hope you're right, Zed!

The thought of no more Waterstones (shit as the Belfast branch is) is something I don't want to even consider...

Sean, what's your favourite Ramsey novel so far?
For me it's 'Midnight Sun' - given even more resonance by recent weather conditions!!
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 12:02 pm:   

The story I've just read about Waterstones says that it's going to stock less celebrity biographies.

That can only be good news.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.171.129.74
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 01:30 pm:   

Oh, that's certainly more hopeful than the gloomy assesments about Waterstones I heard on the business news yesterday morning. Fingers crossed you guys are right...
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Weber_gregston (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.56
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 01:55 pm:   

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jan/14/waterstones-books-retail-boss-leaves
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.204.111.196
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 07:23 pm:   

I think the people that read celebrity biographies probably don't read novels anyway. They shouldn't even count cookbooks or celebrity biographies or novels 'written' by celebrities in the sales figures. They're just a weird section all on their own.
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Seanmcd (Seanmcd)
Username: Seanmcd

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 81.159.129.56
Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010 - 11:41 pm:   

Same here Stephen. 'Midnight Sun' was brilliant. Everything i've now come to expect a great Ramsey novel to be.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.254.44
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 12:40 am:   

As Waterstone's is now the only game in town, if it goes out of business that will be the end of bookselling and, of course, book publishing in the UK. There are two types of town or city in the UK: ones in which Waterstone's is the only bookshop and ones (Weymouth is an example) in which there is no bookshop.
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.204.111.196
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 12:51 am:   

Even the charity shops no longer have gems, since the old books aren't stocked...
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.157.23.22
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 10:28 am:   

I was talking with a nice woman who has a little 2nd bookshop yesterday about this, how a strata of literature is being wiped from existence. It's a quiet, unaddressed cultural disaster. One day it'll be looked back on as a huge mistake because it's the literal death of voices.
I want to open such a shop, even if I just scrape by.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.250.6
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 10:57 am:   

Let's keep this on-topic... I don't think the first of Ramsey's stories I read had a massive impact on me, though they made me interested enough to seek out more. My first real "O my God what the fuck was that?" experience with Ramsey was 'The Second Staircase'. I couldn't get it out of my head. Then 'The Words That Count' (I've always felt the revised version explains itself too clearly, but the first version is breathtaking). Then 'The Brood'. I was 17 or 18 at the time, and Ramsey was one of several contemporary weird fiction writers who massively influenced my sense of what the genre was capable of others being Robert Aickman, Dennis Etchison, M. John Harrison, Harlan Ellison and Charles L. Grant. That was a truly remarkable time in the genre's development not since the 1940s (early Bradbury and the best of early Bloch) had there been such a profound rethinking of the purpose and methods of weird fiction. It was the equivalent of science fiction's 'New Wave', though the traditionalist backlash didn't happen for another decade and was triggered not by those writers, but by the commercial pressures forcing the genre towards emotional and forensic blatancy.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 91.110.250.6
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 10:59 am:   

Tony, your posting is so poignant I have to go back off-topic and say, I hear you.
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Nathaniel Tapley (Natt)
Username: Natt

Registered: 11-2009
Posted From: 78.147.148.35
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 11:00 am:   

That would be awful. I know all of Oxford's big second-hand bookshops (and there were three multi-storey ones ten years ago) have gone from the city centre. Leatherhead used to have two very good second-hand bookshops, both are now gone.

I would say that a good three-quarters of my books have, in my lifetime, come from second-hand bookshops or charity shops. Second-hand bookshops let me read all the Dickens, Steinbeck, Wyndham, Wodehouse, Waugh, Wells (I really liked the 'W' authors, apparently), and Wilde I wanted for about 1 a go.

The problem with online shopping (both at Abebooks and Amazon) is that you cannot browse properly. You can do what they call browsing, which is looking at their list of books in a different order, but you can't flick through something you've never heard of, fall in love with the heft or smell of it, or the inscription someone has written in the front, or pick something up and start reading it and get into it there and then.

And where will I hide from the world when the bookshops are gone?
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.227.178
Posted on Sunday, January 17, 2010 - 10:04 pm:   

My first real "O my God what the fuck was that?" experience with Ramsey was 'The Second Staircase'

I think all of the stories in Demons by Daylight fit into that category. The Height of the Scream, as good as it is, was almost a regression after that.

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