Still feeling a bit concussed by the news that one of the best modern British writers of the weird tale, Joel Lane, passed away at the age of 50. I loved Joel’s work. From Blue to Black is one of the best ghost stories taken to novel length that I have read, and was one of the key texts that brought me back to horror after years away. His short stories were macabre poems, his mastery of language and his insights into the human condition never failed to make me sit back in admiration, or sit up straighter and endeavour to be a better writer. I’ve simply not read that many horror writers who wrote about human distress so vividly. He made the unbearable compelling. Joel was also a wonderful speaker on panels in that what he said was always considered and fascinating; he was an authority on writing and the horror field, and a champion for fairness. I think he had one of the finest minds in horror and was a decent bloke. I was a fan that got to know him at my first Fantasycon in 2004, and I’m glad I took the opportunity on several occasions to embarrass the hell out of him by telling him how much I loved his writing. I can’t believe I won’t be able to pester him any more at conventions to see if he’s got something new to sell me from his shoulder bag; it’s how I came into possession of The Terrible Changes and most recently, Do Not Pass Go.
Here’s my review of WHERE FURNACES BURN from March this year:
WHERE FURNACES BURN is one of the best single-author collections of horror fiction I’ve read. Even though I’ve read most of these stories before in other collections and magazines (I often buy the latter because Joel Lane has a story in them), they’re compiled here with a unique chronology and continuity so I enjoyed them even more second time around. Some of the most original horror I’ve come across, blended with police investigations and urban tragedy (all set in my home town), and so well-written. It takes a true poet to re-imagine the world like this.
I’ll miss Joel. And I’ll always be a fan.