This idea that landscape itself can harbour ‘memories’ is also central to ‘Hovering (Or, a recollection of 25 February 2015)’ by Gary Budden. Budden’s stories could be described as the fictional equivalent of “psychogeography” a-la Iain Sinclair. In this worldview, history, whether natural or human, shapes the rural and urban landscape and leaves residues which can be picked up by the more sensitive sort. Whereas authors like Sinclair use their imagination to read the past into contemporary landscapes, Budden exploits this concept in his works, which present us with individuals burdened by the weight of Deep Time. Is this story entirely fictional? It Seems purposely written to feel autobiographical. Perhaps it is. It makes matters uncannier still.
– To the End of the Word, on ‘Hovering’ from This Dreaming Isle
Budden’s offering is a well-researched, cleverly written and prettily described tale. He has managed some impressively complex characterisation, considering that he only has a few pages to tell Iain’s story. His descriptions of this half-forgotten patch of Kentish coastline are charming and laced with a nostalgic melancholy that doesn’t outstay its welcome or romanticise the poverty that afflicts this area. Another contender for my favourite entry in the anthology!
– Fantasy Faction, on ‘Hovering’ from This Dreaming Isle
Another fantastic story from Budden, who is fast becoming one of my favourite current writers of weird fiction and whose approach – being as it is so closely tied to ideas about Britishness and the mythical nature of landscape – is absolutely perfect for this anthology. It is framed as a story told to the author by a friend, and as with many of Budden's stories, it's hard to figure out whether it's entirely fictional. It feels very densely layered, a patchwork of memories and history, emphasising how a place can be shaped by what has happened there.
– Goodreads, on ‘Hovering’ from This Dreaming Isle
WOW. I absolutely fucking LOVED this. So much that I bought Budden's book, Hollow Shores, almost immediately upon finishing it. It's such an incredibly effective portrait of a mood as well as a time and place – Ballard meets Poe in the midst of 2017 London's darkest days. We follow Alex on a journey through some of the city's less tourist-friendly locales, where he sees 'demons and mad gods' around every corner. Beautifully written, alive with energy and a perfect meeting of the monstrous and the quotidian.
– Goodreads, on ‘Where No Shadows Fall’ from The Shadow Booth Vol. 1
Praise for Judderman
… the novella manages to combine the very real horrors which gripped the 70s (unemployment, drugs, racial and sectarian violence, IRA bombings) with imagined ones stemming from urban myth (such as monsters living in unused Underground stations) - a hellish marriage of London Cognita and Incognita
– End of the Word
I like horror narratives. I like books about books. I like stories where characters explore ‘the forgotten tributaries of history.’ I love tales about dark dangerous monsters. I enjoy novels where someone disappears without a trace. I am a fan of writing that manages to be elegant and gripping while the author simultaneously respects your time and attention span by paying attention to economy of language. D.A. Northwood’s Judderman checks every one of those boxes.
– Horror DNA
It is visceral and challenging storytelling at its best and most definitely creepy as hell.
Echoes of Joel Lane, this is a neat, metafictional slice of the uncanny. I caught references to Hookland, Shadow Booth, and a few others. It's eerie and seeped in the murk and grime of London.
– Daniel Carpenter
Northwood's masterwork. A chilling study in the dark glamour of a city, and how its people become lost to occulted fascinations. Recommend this brief, intense trip to London Incognita.
– Peter Haynes, author of The Willow By Your Side
Outstanding second novella from the Eden Book Society. Essential reading for anyone with an interest in London folklore, urban legends, weird horror, the uncanny... basically, anyone who likes their fiction on the unsettling side. A great short read.
– Dan Coxon
I think the author’s identity is worth talking about because what Budden is doing more broadly, through his whole body of work, is something that fascinates and thrills me – building a sort of incremental mythos, a world that becomes richer and more complete with every story he writes.
– Learn This Phrase
Praise for Hollow Shores
These stories, these words, represent an honest, scalpel-sharp, and unafraid dissection of the collective British psyche, from its Scandinavian/Celtic origins and their expressions through contemporary England, Wales, the Nordic countries, and the occult waterways of a hidden London, the city's damp arterial crannies and the subcultures that inhabit them. Here are punks, ghosts, vampire-hunters, ancient gods that hate to be neglected. Here is a country and a world teetering on the lip of apocalyptic void. And here are, too, insanities, desperate longings, great loves and rages and beauties. Completely absorbing.
— Niall Griffiths, author of Runt
'Gary Budden has been directly instrumental in raising the profile of psychogeography, new weird and strange fiction within a distinctly British context. His own stories, recently showcased in his debut collection Hollow Shores, engage with place, class and memory at a gut level, seeming to morph into something else even as we encounter them.'
– Nina Allan, author of The Rift and The Dollmaker
I very much enjoyed Gary Budden's HOLLOW SHORES, a collection of interconnected stories about British punks/friends/parents some of whom yearn to leave London for rural areas. The book sneaks up the blurry line of weird fiction in unique ways as well. Quiet, unsettling, and at times, quite beautiful. The lyrical stories stand alone wonderfully but together also build to an accumulative effect generally associated with a novel. The overall sense of dissatisfaction (though never angsty) and longing for an ineffable, unattainable ideal in our environmentally ravaged world was authentically and meticulously rendered.
– Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts
Budden’s writing is sparse, terse even, but perfectly suited to the landscapes of dislocation and alienation that are his natural milieu.
– Nina Allan, author of The Rift
Like some mythic counterculture coast; The Snow Goose on speed.
– Tony White, author of The Fountain in the Forest
This is not just a brilliantly written collection; it is written with passion and anger and hope. It’s a common term of praise to say that a piece of fiction raises many questions. Budden’s work doesn’t just raise questions; it warns of the dire consequences of neglecting the human need for a connection with nature, and points the way towards a love of one’s home landscape and folklore which is free of dubious political connotations.
This blending of myth and reality has personal note: Gary grew up in Whitstable and the area has a strong folkloric identity. He writes weird fiction because that is the only genre that reflects his understanding of this familiar landscape. One way to reconcile the desire for his home space to be closer to its mythical – but not idealised – identity, and further from its proximity to prime UKIP country, is to use techniques of psychogeography, or as Gary calls it ‘landscape punk’. The Hollow Shores are a real place; the name is drawn from history like some treasure previously submerged that has slowly come to light.
An exploration of Britain’s counter-cultures – those swimming against the tide. It’s forged in time and place and as much about memories bound up in steel and concrete, as those evoked by earth, water and sky. And with its white foxes of legend and obscure figures in black, these stories hover just an inch above terra firma.
On the fringes of London, Budden writes about notions of being and belonging: the idea that ‘memory is a marsh’ as the world diffuses in mist and nostalgia.
– The Contemporary Small Press
I don't think I've ever read a collection of stories that fitted together so well before, with each one deepening the same themes to make a powerful reading experience about loss, and belonging, and growing. The final story brings everything together in a way that made me really think about how memories work, and form us, just as landscape brings its influence to bear upon us all too. There's a melancholic intimacy throughout that feels very honest.
– Aliya Whiteley, author of The Beauty
It’s subtle and angry, and lingers long after you finish reading it.
– Bookmunch, Best of 2017
Enchanting, haunting, melancholic. Indeed, I’ve never read anything like it (and probably won’t again).
– Dickens Does Books
A combination of psychogeography, nature writing, folklore, weird happenings and punk pride (no, really).
– Dan Coxon
This is a thought-provoking and insightful sequence of stories in which characters and compass points recur, accumulate, drift back and forth through sluices and conduits to the recent past and the deep past... A powerful and necessary collection, elegiac, ghostly, righteously angry and insufferably sad.
– Ashley Stokes
The story is mine now, too. Breakdown as a sort of healing.
– DFLewis Reviews, on 'Breakdown' featured in Year's Best Weird Fiction 4
It's a different book to what imagined going in, and all the better for that: why would I want to read a book that I could imagine? Instead, what I got was a piece of writing both personal and communal, something unique from Budden that impressed me no end. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
– James Everington
These stories succinctly capture the importance of life’s mundanities. They are incisive, intriguing and impressively affecting.
– Never Imitate
One of the fictions is a short imagining of the inner life of one of the Kent Hollow Shore’s more illustrious denizens, actor Peter Cushing (referred to as “the vampire hunter”). Here, he meets with his good friend “the vampire” (no prizes for guessing). One of the standout pieces, this is a gentle work that, like many of them, shimmers at the edges with weirdness
– Into the Gyre
I love weird writing with a strong sense of place – it's one of the reasons I've become so enamoured of Nina Allan's work; she sometimes writes about the same part of the world, with the Romney Marshes featuring prominently in The Race. This book also reminded me a lot of Lucy Wood, especially her most recent collection The Sing of the Shore, with its allusions to folklore and arcane local knowledge.