Running a small press can be a soul destroying and precarious business, and over the years, many have come and gone in blazes of publicity. Therefore it’s refreshing to find a press which is still going strong after ten years, and which is celebrating that fact with a slew of new releases covering film, television and horror fiction and artwork – everything which the press’s owners, David J Howe and Stephen James Walker, love.
Top horror author Simon Clark’s latest book, Humpty’s Bones, is a horror novella set in the rural wilds of the UK. “It is a contemporary blend of science fiction and horror set in my home county of Yorkshire,” explains the author. “Eden Page has become temporarily homeless and is forced to go live with her eccentric aunt and demanding uncle in the remote village of Doglands. Their solitary house stands beside an ancient Roman road and Eden’s aunt has been excavating ancient ruins at the bottom of her garden. Mysteriously, the dig reveals coins dating from modern times to the Roman era. Then a human skeleton is unearthed, and there appears to be something profoundly wrong with its head … A mysterious figure is glimpsed in the garden at night … rage and fear infect the characters … and something seems to be influencing the thoughts and dreams of Eden Page.
“I’m constantly surprised and fascinated by what people find in their gardens,” explains Simon when asked about the origins of the tale. “I’ve met people who’ve found gold coins, bombs, human bones and even a World War II air raid shelter, still perfectly intact. In my garden there is an ancient stone slab that resembles a tombstone, and there are fragments of weathered blocks that appear to form some kind of animal carving. With Humpty’s Bones the starting point was the straightforward idea of a householder finding coins and bones at the bottom of their garden. However, I wanted to crank up the importance of the find to the point where the characters realise they’ve made an extraordinary discovery that has the potential to change the very nature of humanity. I mean, if you uncover a secret that might change the world, what do you do? Bury it again? Embrace it? But what kind of horror might you unleash?”
“Altered Visions is the first book collecting my artwork,” says Vincent. “It includes illustrations I’ve done over the last few years for books, magazines, CDs and personal work, showcasing the range of art I’ve done for the horror, fantasy and sci-fi genres.
“Even since before I started working as a professional illustrator I wanted to have my own art book published. As I’ve been illustrating for a few years now and have got a large body of work behind me, it was the ideal time to bring out my first collection. It also gave me the chance to comment on the images featured, giving fans of my work some insights and interesting information about the images that they would not otherwise have known.
“Telos have built up a great reputation over the years and published many fine books by acclaimed authors,” Vincent explains when asked about the publishers, “so I was honoured to have my first art book published by them. I enjoyed collaborating with David on putting this collection together, and he gave me the creative freedom to design the book myself but also contributed many useful suggestions to make the book look as good as possible.”
Horror film is another area in which Telos have published some exciting and acclaimed books, and the latest is a tome called Silver Scream. This is actually the second volume to be published. The author is Steven Warren Hill.
“Silver Scream is an illustrated reference guide that takes a close look at 80 classic horror films from 1920 to 1951,” explains Steven. “The depth of detail is so great that the guide was broken up into two volumes (presented chronologically). The titles include the expected ones, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Nosferatu, as well as some unexpected ones like Black Narcissus and Apache Drums. The book’s most valuable asset might be the detailed biographies of many of the people involved in the films – not just the stars and the big name directors, but the cinematographers, the writers, editors, set designers, even some of the bit players. There’s a great deal of information here that you won’t find collected anywhere else.”
It was this element which partly drove Steven to write the book in the first place: “My love for these movies, as well as for other classic films and old Hollywood in general, is what prompted me to write Silver Scream. I particularly wanted to create biographies of people who had been overlooked in other similar reference guides. It was a gap in available knowledge that I wanted to fill, and a desire to give the lesser-known people the attention their work deserves. I also perceived a vast and eager audience for horror movies that unfortunately virtually ignored anything made before the 1970s, and wanted to write something that might pique their interest. The book is designed to appeal to fans who already think they know everything about these movies as well as to people who have never seen a single one of them.”
So why did Steven think of Telos for this guide? “Telos Publishing already had one terrific horror movie guide out – A Vault of Horror by Keith Topping – and another on the way, which was Zombiemania! by Dr Arnold T Blumberg and Andy Hershberger. Zombiemania! was following much the same format as Topping’s book, so I thought I’d be perfect for the job to write another similar guide to the best of the horror classics. Being an American, working for a British publisher appeals to the Anglophile in me, and I was already an admirer of Topping’s work for Telos.”
Finally, to television, and Telos have two of their acclaimed ‘Unauthorised Guides’ available at the moment. The first, Destination: Moonbase Alpha, is looking at the series Space: 1999 and is by afficionado Robert E Wood.
“Space: 1999 is a life-long love for me,” enthuses Robert. “I was only 6 years old when it went off the air in 1977, but I remember watching the series as a kid, playing with my model Eagles, and collecting the bubblegum cards. My relationship with the series has transformed in quite remarkable ways over the years, but it has been an endless source of inspiration and viewing pleasure. I was prompted to write Destination: Moonbase Alpha because there was no reference book in existence that analysed Space: 1999 from the perspective and approach that I felt it needed.
“Approaching Telos came to me completely out of the blue. Barry Morse always said that flukes and coincidences channel and divert all of our lives, and so it was that I received an email from Telos Publishing enquiring about my earlier Space: 1999 book The Future Is Fantastic.
“Telos asked if I would be interested in reprinting my earlier book. I hadn’t thought about that prospect in years, and had really shelved any idea of resurrecting it. But it didn’t take much thinking to get the Space: 1999 juices flowing again. There’s a wonderful little quote from series writer Johnny Byrne where he says, ‘This strange show, Space: 1999. You only have to dip your fingers into this quirky, magical pool before all sorts of other chemical things start happening.’ That is so true. So I got back to them, they contracted me for the book, and here we are today with a finished book, two and a half years later!”
The second television title, Assigned!, looks at the perennial favourite, Sapphire & Steel, a show about which, strangely, no guide had ever been published. The author of Assigned! is Richard Callaghan. The series made a big impact on the young Richard: “The episodes terrified me as a child and I wanted to write a book that I hoped would do justice to such an original show. From nursery rhymes that conjured up the undead, to haunted railway stations and faceless men … I can’t think of many other series that were as terrifying, or managed to maintain such a high standard of quality.
“In researching the book, I interviewed people both in front of and behind the camera, finding out some surprising revelations. The deadlines to get Sapphire & Steel made were so tight that it’s a wonder it got made at all – you can find out which story was recorded so close to the end of the schedule that the cameramen had to improvise with lights strapped onto their equipment; which almost wasn’t written, and when it was, it had entered pre-production before the scripts were even complete; which stories featured ad-libbed material to fill up the runtime; and which featured behind-the-scenes complications and upheavals that almost led to parts of them being shelved. From cancellation threats and strike disputes to running against the clock, it’s the story of a series that constantly battled to be as good as it turned out.”
With ten years and over 100 titles under their belt, Telos Publishing are still going from strength to strength, as Simon Clark says: “Telos is a small, independent company with towering ambitions. They produce wonderful looking books and they do their utmost to promote them. For a writer that’s so heartening. And right from the start of a project their editorial input is first-rate. It’s rare with publishers today to work so closely with a writer on the development of the story, but whenever I work with Telos I feel as if I’ve become part of a team. Specialist publishers like Telos need our support to help them keep doing the great things they do!”
To find out more about Telos Publishing’s titles, and for worldwide credit card ordering online, please visit www.telos.co.uk.