Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Thirteen Horror Anthology - CD Release

It was announced recently that the splendid chaps at Fantom Films had released the portmanteau horror anthology, Thirteen, as a shiny CD box set. Something we’d always eventually intended, right from the beginning.

This got me idly thinking about the anthology – remembering it’s creation and working with the writers, etc, etc…and then it suddenly hit me.

Has it really been 3 years since Thirteen was released?

Shockingly, the answer is yes!

Actually, I’ve just checked my emails and it’s nearer 3 and a half years (it was August 2013 when that little beauty was originally released into the world as a downloadable album.)

I remember the moment I had the idea for the anthology – it was December 2010, about a week before Christmas, and I was living in a small village out on the edge of the moors. It had been snowing heavily for a day or two and there was about two foot of snow on the ground. Naturally my wife couldn’t get into work with the car, so we had to pull on our Wellington boots and walk down to the train station at the bottom end of the village.

The journey into town was only 25 minutes or so, but if the track had been covered in snow then they tended to be a little overly cautious, sometimes not even allowing passenger on until they made the journey into town once, just to check that the rails weren’t blocked or impassable. Thankfully that morning they were allowing people on board the train, so my wife got on and I began to make my slow, careful way back up the hill through the deep snow towards our house.

The sky was just starting to get properly light, and there was no one about but me - the only sound was the twittering of the birds in the trees and the steady crunch crunch crunch of my wellies in the snow.

All of a sudden I heard someone speak. Not out loud and not with my ears, but inside my head, loud and clear, I heard the voice of a man. The words were a confession, a confession of guilt. The voice was neither contrite nor boastful, but simply speaking the truth. It said…

“My name is Hamilton James Macauley and I am a murderer!”

Then, in my mind’s eye, I saw the image of this man, tall and lean and dressed in an old fashioned suit. He was standing in a shop surrounded on all sides by piles of books, boxes of records, magazines, antiquated machinery…

By the time I got home 15 minutes later I had the basic idea for a portmanteau horror anthology, with Macauley’s story as the framing device for the rest of the stories in the anthology.

Our house was an old fisherman’s cottage (at least 150 years old) and the porous brickwork had started to let the cold and the damp seep in, especially when there was a howling northerly wind coming in over the moors, so it was a bit of a devil to heat in the Winter months. As a result I’d taken to carrying my laptop downstairs into the large kitchen/dining room and setting up a work-space on the dining table – there were two large radiators and an oil fire in there, so it was always nice and toasty.

So, the moment I got home I struggled out of my big coat, scarf, gloves, jumper and wellies, sat down at the dining room table and immediately got in contact with Neil Gardner, pitching him my audio anthology idea. We’d been looking for a project to work on together for a while, and Thirteen seemed like the ideal one.

I’m still enormously proud of Thirteen – it remains one of my favourite pieces of work, and I still listen to it from time to time. It even went on to win an Audie Award for Best Original Work in 2014!

At the time I became incredibly fascinated by the characters of Hamilton James Macauley and the old shopkeeper, Fleetwood. So much so that I even began to make notes on a back-story for each of the characters, just in case I ever decided to revisit them in a later project.

I started thinking…what if they’d actually met before, under different circumstances, only Macauley didn’t know it, or even remember?

I still haven’t given up on that idea. Who knows, perhaps we will see them again in the not too distant future.

Thirteen is now available as a 3-CD set and can be ordered HERE at the Fantom Films website.

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