Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Some forthcoming titles you've never heard of, but won't want to miss!

Every publisher likes to publish bestsellers, award-winners, and big-name authors. What sets us apart from many presses is our willingness to take a chance on little-known authors and even totally forgotten titles if we think they're great books that deserve to be in print. In fact, it's a little secret (Shhhhhh!) but many of the best books in our catalogue aren't necessarily the most famous ones, but instead the unheralded gems, books that neither you nor anyone you know has probably ever heard of.

We're excited to announce the following neglected treasures as forthcoming:

F. L. Green, Odd Man Out (1945)

Probably the best known of the titles on this list, Odd Man Out was a bestseller for Frederick Laurence Green (1902-1953), who published over a dozen novels, many of them well received, but who is remembered chiefly for his 1945 novel, which was adapted for a 1947 film directed by Carol Reed and starring James Mason.  It was last published in the US in 1982 and in the UK in 1991, so we are pleased to be restoring it to print in both paperback and e-book formats.

Dennis Parry, Sea of Glass (1955)

This book is beyond obscure, and indeed would have been totally lost in oblivion if not for macabre illustrator Edward Gorey, who during the 1970s named it the most neglected book he knew.  Gorey's recommendation was reprinted in a book called Writers' Choice, where we discovered it and were inspired to track down the book.

Parry (1912-1955) was a barrister and civil servant who published a dozen or so novels, but though his books were always published by leading publishing firms and always earned good reviews, somehow their quirky subjects and sardonic wit never caught on with the book-buying public.  Sea of Glass, his last book, was one of his most successful, earning rave reviews and going into a second edition, but unfortunately Parry died shortly after publication in a car crash at age 42.

Sea of Glass is a witty and often laugh-out-loud funny story involving a 20-year-old law student who is staying at the home of the wealthy Ellisons, friends of his aunt.  Old Mrs Ellison is near death, and her rotten son Cedric anticipates inheriting her money, until a bizarre young woman calling herself Varvara Ellison arrives from Chinese Turkestan, claiming to be the daughter of the black sheep of the family, Fulk Ellison, who had moved east to make a fortune as a gun-runner. Varvara's eccentricities are hilarious, and when Cedric ends up dead, she may be the number one suspect....

A. E. Ellis, The Rack (1958)
With a new introduction by Andrew Sinclair

This novel, the only book published by Derek Lindsay, who wrote under the pseudonym A. E. Ellis, is a masterpiece.  And we're not the only ones who think so.  No less a writer than Graham Greene wrote: "There are certain books we call great for want of a better term, that rise like monuments above the cemeteries of literature: Clarissa Harlowe, Great Expectations, Ulysses.  The Rack to my mind is of this company."  Though in print for many years as a Penguin Modern Classic, Ellis's novel fell out of print 25 or 30 years ago and has been unavailable since.

Interesting trivia: Andrew Sinclair, who is contributing the introduction to this edition, is the author of Valancourt titles The Facts in the Case of E.A. Poe and The Raker; the main character in The Raker was modelled on Derek Lindsay/A.E. Ellis, and Sinclair writes in his introduction of a ménage à trois among Sinclair, his wife, and Lindsay.  More interesting trivia: Gillian Freeman, author of three Valancourt reissues, was at one time adapting The Rack as a screenplay, which sadly was never produced.

Ellis's novel is the story of a young Englishman sent to a sanatorium in the Alps in the days before antibiotic treatment for TB infection.  As he continues to hold out hope of his cure and being able to marry Michele, a young Belgian girl also at the hospital, he is subjected to increasingly dehumanizing medical procedures amounting almost to torture.  The genius of Ellis's novel, though, is its tone of fatalistic, gallows humor throughout.  "Book of the year, if ever there was one," said V.S. Pritchett, and we agree!

Alex Hamilton, Beam of Malice (1966)

Ramsey Campbell, the most award-winning and acclaimed British horror novelist today, says "Alex Hamilton is one of the absolute masters of the sunlit nightmare, the tale of insidious disquiet and relentless unease. He's a true original, and it's past time that he took his place in the pantheon of the elegantly macabre." 

Hamilton's first collection of macabre stories, Beam of Malice, was published in the UK in 1966 and the US the following year but has been neglected since.  We agree with Ramsey Campbell that Hamilton's tales of unease are well worth rediscovery, so we're pleased to be reissuing his debut collection, with a new foreword by the author.

Archie Roy, Devil in the Darkness (1978)

Archie Roy (1924-2012) was very well known, but as a professor of astronomy at the University of Glasgow rather than for his novels.  Roy, in addition to being a well-respected scientist (with an asteroid named after him), was also a firm believer in the paranormal and incorporated his interest in both science and the occult in six novels published in the 1960s and '70s.  Sadly, though his books are extremely well-written and genuinely thrilling, they are very little known today, even to connoisseurs of this sort of fiction.

Devil in the Darkness (1978) starts out in classic British haunted house style.  A young couple, just married, is driving to their honeymoon through a blizzard when they are forced to take refuge for the night in a creepy old mansion.  It turns out, of course, that the house is haunted, but the twist is that there are two groups of people already at the house when they arrive: one is there to study the psychic phenomena while the other is there to destroy it.  Some sleepless nights and eerie happenings occur, and the atmosphere is pitch-perfect.

We will also be reissuing Roy's The Curtained Sleep, a genuinely mind-bending novel involving drug-induced altered states of consciousness that is guaranteed to freak you out when you finally figure out what's going on.

More new title announcements coming soon!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back for more!

We're excited to announce that some of your favorite Valancourt authors will be returning with new editions in 2014-15!

Gerald Kersh

Gerald Kersh was the only Valancourt author to have two books in our list of the top 10 best-selling titles from 2013 (Nightshade and Damnations and Fowlers End), so we're thrilled to be publishing four more Kersh titles!

Neither Man Nor Dog (1946) 

A rare volume of short stories by a master of the genre.  "Mr Kersh’s new volume contains thirty-seven stories of the kind the author made made so distinctly his own; the short piece, explosive with violence . . . The best of them are very good. The unfailing fertility of his imagination is indeed to be wondered at, and so, too, his unwinking eye for the hard, the horrible, the grotesque. . . . For entertainment of a strong kind Mr Kersh would be hard to beat." -- Times Literary Supplement.

Clock Without Hands (1949)

A collection of three long short stories (or short novellas). "Mr Kersh tells a story; as such, rather better than anybody else." -- Pamela Hansford Johnson, Daily Telegraph

The Great Wash (1953) (US title: The Secret Masters)

"Gerald Kersh is a literary spieler of abundant energy, who sees the world as a vast circus cramful of entertaining oddities, glittering sideshows, burlesques of blood and sawdust . . . Mr Kersh’s many admirers will undoubtedly devour this highly flavoured hotch-potch with avidity." -- Julian Maclaren-Ross, Sunday Times

On an Odd Note (1958) 

Published only as a paperback original in the United States and never published in Great Britain, this collection features some of Kersh's best, including "The Brighton Monster", "The Queen of Pig Island", and "The Extraordinarily Horrible Dummy", along with some lesser-known stories and one written specially for this collection.  This new edition will feature an introduction by Nick Mamatas.

Basil Copper

Basil Copper's Lovecraftian horror novel The Great White Space and his Victorian-style Sherlock Holmes pastiche Necropolis were both extremely popular with our readers last year, so we're thrilled to be offering a new Copper title:

The House of the Wolf (1983)

Copper's classic werewolf novel, originally published as a limited edition by Arkham House and reprinted as a limited hardcover by Sarob Press in the UK, finally gets its first edition in paperback and e-book formats.  We're excited about this one!

R. Chetwynd-Hayes

Even though it wasn't published until Halloween, R. Chetwynd-Hayes's brilliant cult classic The Monster Club (1976) was still our 13th bestselling title for 2013.  So we're pleased to be offering another volume of Chetwynd-Hayes's stories which we hope you'll also enjoy:

Looking for Something to Suck and other Vampire Stories (1997)

Edited by Stephen Jones, this collection of the complete vampire-themed stories by R. Chetwynd Hayes, originally published in various collections between 1971 and 1997, appeared as a limited hardcover in 1997 but makes its first paperback and e-book appearance with Valancourt Books, featuring an afterword by Stephen Jones and the original illustrations by Jim Pitts.  This nearly 300 page collection includes 15 of the author's best, in which he blends horror and dark humour in his own unique way.

Claude Houghton

Claude Houghton's bestseller I Am Jonathan Scrivener (1930) was one of our most popular releases in 2013 and one of my personal favorites among all the books we've ever published. So we're particularly delighted to be republishing his very scarce first novel, Neighbours (1926), with a new introduction by Mark Valentine and featuring a new cover by M.S. Corley.  Houghton's novel centers on a young writer living in the attic of a lodging house, who becomes progressively more obsessed with a new neighbour, whose every word he hears through the thin partition separating the rooms, and whose obsession leads to a shocking climax.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Keeping in touch

We love to keep in touch with our readers, but unfortunately, our Facebook updates are only being shown to about 5% of our followers -- Facebook expects us to pay $30 or more per post if we want to reach more of you.  If you want to be sure to know about all our newest releases, forthcoming titles, sales, discounts, convention appearances, contests, and fun bits of trivia, etc., that we post occasionally, please enter your email on the right side of our blog page, and you'll get an email each time our blog is updated.  Don't worry, you won't get deluged with tons of emails!

Or if you'd rather receive a once-monthly (no more, we promise!) email newsletter with highlights of what's happening at Valancourt Books, please send us a message using our Contact form, and we'll add you to our mailing list.  (We never sell or share your email address with anyone and use it only for a maximum of one email per month.)

Thank you for your support and keep reading!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Top 10 for 2013

Everyone likes lists, so how about a list of our top 10 best-selling titles for 2013?  The numbers are just in, and there may be a few surprises here.  Keep in mind, the list is necessarily skewed towards books published earlier in the year, which had a longer period in which to generate sales.

1.  Benighted - J. B. Priestley

2. Carmilla - J. S. Le Fanu (orig. released 2009)

3. The Witch and the Priest - Hilda Lewis

4. Nightshade and Damnations - Gerald Kersh

5. The Birds - Frank Baker

6. The Philosopher's Stone - Colin Wilson

7. The Hand of Kornelius Voyt - Oliver Onions

8. The Hunger and Other Stories - Charles Beaumont

9. Fowlers End - Gerald Kersh

10. The Great White Space - Basil Copper

Monday, December 23, 2013

More forthcoming titles

Three more exciting titles to announce!

We will be publishing Thomas Blackburn's autobiographical A Clip of Steel (1969) with a new foreword by his daughter, Julia Blackburn.  Earlier this year we published Blackburn's weird vampire/werewolf novel The Feast of the Wolf (1971).  Though told in what he called a 'picaresque' style, Blackburn's account of his childhood is deeply disturbing reading indeed.  His father feared two things above all else: dark skin and sex, and because he thought Thomas's skin was too dark, he tried bleaching it with frequent applications of peroxide and lemon juice; meanwhile, to stop the boy from having an erection, he provided him with a sharp-toothed metal device to clip on his penis (hence the book's title).  A fascinating and highly acclaimed memoir that those of you who enjoyed Feast of the Wolf or his brother John Blackburn's titles, will find of great interest.

Also new to our 2014 list is Hugh Walpole's The Killer and the Slain (1942), with an introduction by John Howard.  Though Walpole has been dead over 70 years, through a weird quirk of American copyright law, this one won't be in the public domain until 2064, so we're very pleased to be able to offer it now.  Walpole was a hugely popular author in the US and UK (the popularity of his book Jeremy led to an entire generation of boys being given that name), but his reputation unfortunately did not survive his death. The Killer and the Slain is one of what Walpole called his 'macabre' novels, and should be great fun.

Finally, last but definitely not least, we are thrilled to have been able to track down the estate of John Hampson and plan to publish his 1931 classic Saturday Night at the Greyhound, which was originally published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press and which was dedicated to Forrest Reid, who was a mentor to Hampson.  Hampson (1901-1955) was the author of several distinguished novels, including one, Go Seek a Stranger, which Virginia Woolf thought his best but which was never published due to its gay content.  Saturday Night was a surprise success for the Woolfs and also sold well as a Penguin paperback; it has been revived throughout the years on several occasions, but has not been in print since a 1986 paperback edition.

More new titles coming soon.  We wish everyone a happy Christmas and New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

James Kennaway and C.H.B. Kitchin

Exciting new 2014 titles continue to come in: here are a couple more we're particularly thrilled about.

James Kennaway (1928-1968) was highly acclaimed for his novels and was regarded as one of the greatest modern Scottish authors, winning acclaim for books such as Tunes of Glory (1956) (for which Kennaway earned an Oscar nomination when he adapted it for a film version starring Alec Guinness), Household Ghosts (1961), The Bells of Shoreditch (1963), The Cost of Living Like This (1969) and the posthumous Silence (1972). We will be reissuing his 1963 novel The Mind Benders (which he later adapted for the screen in a version starring Dirk Bogarde). In The Mind Benders (1963), Nobel Prize-winning scientist Prof. Sharpey unexpectedly commits suicide following his groundbreaking research into sensory deprivation using isolation tanks. When a suitcase of money is found near his body, Major Hall of British Intelligence suspects Sharpey may have been selling information to a foreign power. Sharpey's colleague, Dr Longman, is determined to clear his friend's name, but to find out why Sharpey killed himself, Longman must undergo a terrifying experiment in the isolation tank, with unexpected and extremely frightening results....

Kennaway died at age 40 after suffering a heart attack while driving his car.  Several of his works have been reissued by the Scottish publisher Canongate Classics, but The Mind Benders makes its first reappearance in 50 years.  Paul Gallagher will provide an introduction.

Meanwhile, one of our favorites, C.H.B. Kitchin (1895-1967), will be back with three new titles -- none of them ever reprinted before -- The Sensitive One (1931), Birthday Party (1938), and the posthumous A Short Walk in Williams Park (1971).  The latter will include a foreword by L.P. Hartley, while David Robinson and Adrian Wright have kindly agreed to introduce the first two.

We expect a flurry of new title announcements over the next few weeks, so keep checking back to see what's in store for 2014!

Monday, December 16, 2013

2014 Preview (part 1)

We're still waiting to hear back from agents or estates on a couple dozen extremely exciting titles, including by some quite prominent authors, so expect a second post in the next couple weeks, but in the meantime, here's a sneak peek at some of what's in store at Valancourt for 2014.

Michael McDowell, the great neglected Southern Gothic novelist and screenwriter of films such as Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas whose novel The Amulet we published earlier this year, returns with The Elementals (1981), a different kind of haunted house story that many fans think is one of the scariest horror novels ever written.  

New to Valancourt Books is Michael Talbot (1953-1992), best known for his book The Holographic Universe, and whose first novel, The Delicate Dependency (1982) will be reprinted for the first time ever.  Talbot's novel originally appeared as a paperback original from Avon Books and has gone on to acquire a legendary cult status as one of the best vampire novels ever written.  Secondhand copies are hard to come by and ridiculously expensive, and so strongly has the book stayed with its readers that even 30 years on, the book has 4.34/5.0 on and eighteen 5-star reviews on 

Frank De Felitta is best known for his bestseller Audrey Rose (1975), which was also a major feature film; his other big bestseller, The Entity (1978), was also a major film starring Barbara Hershey, and returns to print in a new edition with an introduction by author Gemma Files.  

Another newcomer to Valancourt is Jack Cady (1932-2004), whose works have won the Nebula, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards; Cady's The Well (1980) returns to print with an introduction by Tom Piccirilli.  

John Blackburn, ten of whose horror novels and thrillers we've published in 2013, returns with four of his best: Children of the Night, A Ring of Roses, Devil Daddy, and Our Lady of Pain.

A number of new authors will be making their Valancourt debuts in 2014.  One of these is George Sims (1923-1999), who, like John Blackburn, was a rare bookseller and the author of critically acclaimed thrillers. Sims's Sleep No More (1966) and The Last Best Friend (1967), the latter of which was chosen by H.R.F. Keating as one of the best 100 crime and mystery novels ever written, will be out next year.

Gerald Kersh has been one of our most popular authors this year, and his novel Fowlers End has been called one of the great comic novels of the 20th century.  But did you know that he had a brother, also a writer, and also a great comic novelist?  Cyril Kersh joins the Valancourt lineup with his first novel, the hilarious and very scarce The Aggravations of Minnie Ashe (1970), which will feature an introduction by Séamas Duffy.

Colin Spencer (b. 1933) is perhaps best known as one of Britain's great writers on food and for his book on the history of homosexuality, but in the 1960s and 70s he was the author of a number of interesting and unusual novels, one of which, Panic (1972), about the psychology of a child murderer, will be joining our list.  

Michael Campbell's novel Lord Dismiss Us (1967) received rave reviews from Iris Murdoch, Anthony Burgess, Christopher Isherwood, and others on its initial appearance. It was revived in 1984 by the University of Chicago Press but has long been out of print and will return with a new introduction by Washington Post critic Dennis Drabelle.

Some of our favorites from 2013 will be returning with new titles in the new year, including Forrest Reid's final novel, Denis Bracknel (1947), four by the great J.B. Priestley (The Doomsday Men, The Shapes of Sleep, The Thirty-First of June, and Salt Is Leaving), two more by Stephen Gilbert (Bombardier, Monkeyface), and two fine novels by John Wain (Strike the Father Dead, A Winter in the Hills).

Fans of our editions of rare 18th and 19th century literature will have several great new titles to look forward to.  Neglected Gothic novelist Henry Summersett returns with Aberford (1798) and The Worst of Stains (1804).  Other Gothics include the anonymous Lusignan; or, The Abbaye of La Trappe (1801) and The Orphans of Llangloed (1802).  Victorian penny dreadfuls in the works include James Malcolm Rymer's The Black Monk (1844) and the second volume of our phenomenally popular The Mysteries of London by George W. M. Reynolds. The excellent Ernest G. Henham, alias John Trevena, returns with another weird Gothic tale, The Feast of Bacchus (1907), while Mary Elizabeth Braddon is back with one of her last novels, Dead Love Has Chains (1907). A. W. Clarke's Jaspar Tristram (1899) gets its first ever republication, and Prof. Jack Voller has put together an excellent anthology of graveyard poetry.  More titles are likely to be added as we receive additional manuscripts from the professors editing them.