C.J. Carter-Stephenson's Blog: ~ Crystal Clear ~ - Posts Tagged "back-of-the-bookshelf"

Website Redesign!

Many moons ago, when knights on armoured steeds were the champions of justice 🐴 and the fastest way to send a message was by carrier pigeon 🐦 ... no wait, it wasn't quite as long ago as that, but a long time ago... I launched a website to promote the handful of stories and poems I had written. The website changed little in the years that followed, and so it was that it started to look a little dated. Then came a full-scale redesign, which I am pleased to say has just been completed. The aesthetic has changed, a wealth of new content has been added, and it has been coded to adapt to different devices. And that's not all; on the 1st May 2018, it will become the platform for a new monthly podcast called BACK OF THE BOOKSHELF, featuring dramatisations of classic, but neglected stories of yesteryear, starting with a gripping science fiction adventure by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In fact, the only thing about the website which hasn't changed is the address, which is, of course...

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New Classic Fiction Podcast Launching 1st May 2018...

Further to my last post, I can now confirm that my classic fiction podcast, Back of the Bookshelf , will be launching on 1st May 2018. It's mission... to shine a light into the shadows of the past in search of neglected stories. There are no restrictions about setting, theme or genre; the only qualification will be quality, though as the name suggests, the emphasis will be on books that tend to be pushed to the back of the shelf, rather than bestsellers.

Listeners will be introduced to lesser known works by literary giants like Mary Shelley and Guy de Maupassant, and transported to the fantastical worlds of forgotten pioneers of genre fiction.

The inaugural episode will feature a story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who is, of course, best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a thrilling adventure starring the brilliant, but hot-tempered Professor Challenger, vividly brought to life by immersive sound effects.

The Podcast will be available on iTunes, Spotify and other leading sound platforms, with a video version arriving concurrently on YouTube.

Click here to view the Press Release and here to visit the dedicated website. More episode details will follow as and when they are finalised.

If you like what you hear, then please consider listening. All are welcome, and the best part is, it's absolutely free.

'Back of the Bookshelf' Graphic
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BACK OF THE BOOKSHELF Podcast Details...

With the launch date of Back of the Bookshelf fast approaching, I thought it was about time I posted some further details… New episodes will go live on the first day of each month, starting this Tuesday with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Disintegration Machine. You will be able to listen or watch via the dedicated page on my website, or on a variety of other platforms, including YouTube for video, and Spotify, Libsyn, iTunes and Google Play Music for audio (though I have been advised that there may be a delay with the Spotify activation, as they are in the middle of some extensive back end updates).

The 1st June episode will feature a Guy de Maupassant story called The Jewels or The Jewellery depending on who is doing the translating. As you might expect from this title, the story is thematically similar to Maupassant’s more famous The Necklace, but is arguable superior with its multifaceted approach. The characters and situations are easy to relate to, and with the carefully selected sound effects and images, you’ll almost believe you’ve stepped back into 19th century Paris.

On the 1st July, I’ll be whisking you away to San Francisco for Robert Duncan Milne’s Into the Sun. Most of Milne’s work originally appeared in local newspapers, so he is a true Back of the Bookshelf author, who might have been forgotten altogether if Sam Moskowitz hadn’t released a collection of his work in 1980, introducing him to a new generation of readers and cementing his reputation as a science fiction pioneer. Into the Sun is a gripping tale, featuring a whirlwind balloon ride and a Poe type ending.

After that, on 1st August, J. Sheridan Le Fanu will step into the spotlight. Le Fanu’s greatest literary legacy is undoubtedly Carmilla , vampire classic and key influence on the even more famous Dracula , but in keeping with the podcast’s ethos, a lesser known work will be featuring called The White Cat of Drumgunniol. This story draws heavily on traditional folklore and takes place in the wilds of rural Ireland. Ghost story virtuoso M.R. James selected it for inclusion in his Le Fanu anthology, so expect a healthy helping of eerie atmosphere.

A mixed bag, to be sure, but each story is a classic of its genre, setting the tone for things to come. Further episodes are yet to be finalised, but names to look out for include Mary Shelley, Charles Maturin and Ann Radcliffe. Oh, and did I mention that it’s completely free to listen/watch? If you are a fan of audiobooks, then please consider checking it out at…


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Still going strong!

'Back of the Bookshelf' Title Image

As it's been a while since my last Back of the Bookshelf post, people seem to be wondering whether the project might be flailing, so I just wanted to reassure everyone that this definitely isn't the case. In fact, it's proved to be far more successful than I ever envisaged. The launch went without a hitch, and to date, over 400 people have checked out the inaugural episode (significantly more than the 1 or 2 I was expecting). I've even managed to score a positive review from the folks at Signal Horizon , who for those of you who don't know, are producers of acclaimed podcast, Horror Pod Class , so probably know what they're talking about.

Looking forward, episode 2 is already in the can as they say in the movie world and should be released on schedule this Friday (1st June 2018). It's a Guy de Maupassant story called The Jewels, which will greatly appeal to fans of naturalistic fiction. The narrative is engaging, the characters have a real sense of authenticity and it provides a wonderful snapshot of life in 19th century Paris.

Meanwhile, it's full steam ahead with episodes 3 and 4. The narration for both is already finished and the files are in post-production to borrow another movie term. As mentioned previously, episode 3 is an apocalyptic science fiction story called Into the Sun by Robert Duncan Milne, and episode 4, a traditional ghost story called The White Cat of Drumgunniol by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Two very different pieces, but both equally enjoyable with the usual carefully selected accompaniment of sounds and images. I haven't firmly made up my mind about the bill of fare after that, but it is likely to include works by H.G. Wells, Ann Radcliffe, Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, Charles Maturin, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Alexandre Dumas and Honoré de Balzac. Further details will follow shortly.

So that's where we stand at the moment. Episode 1 is available now on Spotify, iTunes, Libsyn, YouTube, Google Play Music, Fourble, Stitcher, Podtail, Podbay.fm, Player FM, TuneIn and Castbox. Check it out if you haven't already, and if you enjoy it, please let me know and/or spread the word. Further details can be found on the following page of my website...

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Further to my last post, I'm pleased to confirm that at midnight this morning, episode 2 of Back of the Bookshelf , featuring Guy de Maupassant's The Jewels, successfully went live 😃. As before, it's available in both audio🔊 and video📺 format, though my own preference is for the latter, as it incorporates some genuine film footage of Paris at the relevant time, which is truly fascinating. You can watch it on YouTube by clicking the image below...


Alternatively it is available on Spotify, iTunes, Libsyn, Google Play Music, Fourble, Stitcher, Podtail, Podbay.fm, Player FM, TuneIn, Castbox and the dedicated page on my website. The story is narrated by yours truly with music by Kevin MacLeod, and as always it's entirely free. All I ask is that you let me know if you enjoy it by subscribing, etc. and keep spreading the word📢.
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New story and podcast episode coming soon...

'Back of the Bookshelf' Title Image

Not long after after my previous announcement about the publication of The Interdimensional Megastar in The Colored Lens, another of my short stories was accepted for publication, but for various reasons (mostly involving rocking out at the Download and Isle of Wight Festivals), I haven't had a chance to write a post about it... until now. The story in question is called The Animal Inside and it's going to be appearing in the new online fiction line of respected literary journal, The Eastern Iowa Review . The plot revolves around a prison psychiatrist's attempt to treat a woman with apparent dissociative identity disorder. Needless to say, things do not go entirely smoothly. You'll be able to read the story on the following page later this month (exact date tbc)...

Easter Iowa Review - Dark Fiction

This one was written for one of my MA modules, so again I had the benefit of some useful feedback from a tutor and my fellow students. My biggest influence was S.P. Somtow's Moon Dance , which if you are into werewolves and haven't already read it, is definitely worth checking out (Twilight it ain't).

In other news, I just wanted to remind everyone that episode 3 of Back of the Bookshelf is being released this Sunday (1st July 2018). The story this time is Robert Duncan Milne's Into the Sun, which is set in 19th Century San Francisco and is about a valiant attempt by two friends to escape annihilation in a global catastrophe.

There are some fairly lengthy scientific discussions at the beginning of the episode, which set the background for what is to come, but don't be put off. Once it warms up, it moves at a rip-roaring pace. There are fascinating insights into the world of the past, thrilling adventures and moments of reflection which are as poignant as anything you will find in mainstream fiction.

The story was published in 1882, which as most of you will probably be aware, was just 24 years before San Francisco suffered a real life tragedy in the form of a massive earthquake, and it is amazing how prophetic some of the scenes turned out to be. As usual, the video version of the podcast features genuine photographs and film footage from the time the story is set, which take on a uniquely haunting quality when you consider that many of the places and people shown would come to an untimely end.

This is probably my favourite episode of Back of the Bookshelf so far, so I would definitely urge you to check it out. It is narrated by yours truly as always with music by Kevin MacLeod. You'll be able to access the video version on YouTube or The Crystal Ship Facebook Page (see here), and the audio version on Spotify, iTunes, Libsyn, YouTube, Google Play Music, Fourble, Stitcher, Podtail, Podbay.fm, Player FM, TuneIn or Castbox. For past episodes and all the latest news, visit the dedicated page on my website...


That's all for now.
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Two announcements - drumroll please...

Hot on the heels of my last post, I've just received notification that my short story The Animal Inside has now been published in the Dark Fiction section of the The Eastern Iowa Review website. As I said before, it's a short and snappy piece about werewolves and dissociative identity disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). If you fancy checking it out, you can find it entirely free of charge at the following link...

Easter Iowa Review | Dark Fiction | The Animal Inside

The other stories on the site are also well worth a look. The quality and variety is second to none.

The second announcement I wanted to make is that episode 3 of Back of the Bookshelf has now gone live. I talked about it in detail the other day, so today, I'm just going to provide a few key facts and then let it speak for itself. You can view the video version📺 on YouTube by clicking here and the audio version🔊 on Spotify, iTunes, Libsyn, Google Play Music, Fourble, Stitcher, Podtail, Podbay.fm, Player FM, TuneIn or Castbox.

So without further ado, here are the details...

TITLE - Into the Sun
AUTHOR - Robert Duncan Milne
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED - 18th November 1882 in 'The Argonaut'
NARRATOR - C.J. Carter-Stephenson
MUSIC - Kevin MacLeod
DURATION - 39:26

Fans of classic fiction will find much to endear them in this gripping tale, which features a dramatic balloon ride and a Poe type ending, so please do consider checking it out, and if you like what you see/hear, please show your support...👍
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Publication News and New BACK OF THE BOOKSHELF Content...

Quite a lot has been happening since my last post, so I thought it was about time I wrote another one.

Anyone out there who enjoys audiobooks may be interested to hear that two more episodes of my classic fiction podcast, Back of the Bookshelf , have been released. Episode 4 features a J. Sheridan Le Fanu story called The White Cat of Drumgunniol, which is about a family in 19th century rural Ireland who are afflicted by a strange curse. It's a classic of the horror genre - scary, atmospheric and a lot of fun. These are the details...

TITLE - The White Cat Of Drumgunniol
AUTHOR - J. Sheridan Le Fanu
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED - 2nd April 1870 in All Year Round
NARRATOR - C.J. Carter-Stephenson
MUSIC - Kevin MacLeod
DURATION - 27:14
VIDEO LINK - Back of the Bookshelf, Episode 4

In Episode 5, we return to 19th century Paris for Alexandre Dumas' A Masked Ball. Intrigue, betrayal and heartache are skillfully woven together in this one as our hero ventures into a high society den of debauchery and has a memorable encounter with a woman who clearly doesn't belong there. The locations include Père Lachaise Cemetery and the Théâtre des Variétés, and unusually, Dumas himself appears as a character. The details for this one are as follows...

TITLE - A Masked Ball
AUTHOR - Alexandre Dumas
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED - 1833 in Scènes du Beau Monde
NARRATOR - C.J. Carter-Stephenson
MUSIC - Kevin MacLeod, Victor Carbajo, Sandro Bisotti
DURATION - 19:09
VIDEO LINK - Back of the Bookshelf, Episode 5

As always there are audio versions of both episodes available on Spotify, iTunes, Libsyn, Google Play Music, Fourble, Stitcher, Podtail, Podbay.fm, Player FM, TuneIn and Castbox.

If you enjoy this new content, please don't forget to spread the word. Next up... The Cone by H.G. Wells.

Now for some publication news. Firstly, I'm delighted to tell you that my science fiction story, The Interdimensional Megastar has just been published in Issue 28 of The Colored Lens . The Colored Lens specializes in stories that cause the reader to reexamine his/her perspective on the world and has built up an excellent reputation over the years. My contribution is a twist a twist-in-the-tale science fiction story which explores the idea of parallel universes. It was originally written way back in 2012, but has been extensively reworked since then with some helpful input from classmates on my MA writing course. If you are interested in checking it out, you can pick up a copy of the magazine here. There is a cost, but it's well worth it, as there are over 150 pages of quality fiction.

The other bit of breaking news is that my flash fiction story, The Decision, has been accepted for publication in the Jitter Press journal. Exactly when the story will appear is yet to be confirmed, but as soon I we have any information, I will post it here. At 310 words, The Decision is my shortest story to date and was written in a single sitting. It falls under the broad umbrella of horror, but draws its inspiration from the world of fairy-tale.

That's it for now. Have a great morning/afternoon/evening/night (delete as appropriate).

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New Podcast Releases - 'The Cone' - H.G. Wells & 'The Higher Life' - Mary Elizabeth Braddon

I am pleased to report that another two episodes of my classic fiction podcast, Back of the Bookshelf , have successfully launched since my last post. In episode 6 we journey back to a 19th Century iron works in a story called The Cone by the legendary H.G. Wells. Wells' science fiction writing is regularly adapted for stage and screen, and his debut novella The Time Machine is widely regarded as a seminal classic of the genre, but in line with my mission statement, I've sought out something from his other body of work, which is less well known. Falling under the category of sensation fiction, The Cone was originally intended to be the opening of a novel. The plot revolves around the manager of the aforementioned iron works, who suspects his wife is having an affair and takes her supposed lover on a tour of his workplace. The locations are vividly described and the mounting tension is almost unbearable. Release details are as follows...

TITLE - The Cone
AUTHOR - H.G. Wells
NARRATOR - C.J. Carter-Stephenson
MUSIC - Kevin MacLeod
DURATION - 29:19

'Episode 6 Artwork

Episode 7, meanwhile, features a supernatural story from the pen of Mary Elizabeth Braddon in honour of Halloween. Braddon is remembered chiefly for her sensation novel, Lady Audley's Secret , but left behind a considerable body of other work which is equally worthy of attention, as we see here. The story is called The Higher Life and was originally published in 1907 in an anthology called Tales for the Homes. In it, we look back on the life of an old man as he approaches death and join his spirit as it crosses over to the other side. The writing is atmospheric and thought-provoking, and the characterisation is excellent. This is one of Braddon's least known stories, but it is highly enjoyable, so it was crying our for me to adapt it. I was even inspired to release some accompanying merchandise, which you can check out here... Episode 7 Merchandise. Here are the episode details...

TITLE - The Higher Life
AUTHOR - Mary Elizabeth Braddon
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED - 1907 in Tales for the Homes
NARRATOR - C.J. Carter-Stephenson
MUSIC - Kevin MacLeod
DURATION - 20:02

'Episode 7 Artwork

Moving onto publication news, my flash fiction story, The Decision, has now been published in Issue 7 of the Jitter Press journal. As I think I mentioned previously, the story is a twist-in-the-tale horror inspired by my love of fairy-tales. Elsewhere in the issue you will find a wide selection of other chilling stories and poems by talented writers like Les Bohem and Ann Christine Tabaka… definitely worth checking out if you fancy a good scare. You can read it online for free, though I would highly recommend purchasing a paperback copy if you can afford it, as it's the kind of book you'll want to treasure. Click here to access the online store or here for my story's dedicated page on their website.

In a slight departure from the norm, I also have an article appearing in the January/February 2019 issue of Round-Up, the magazine of the Mustang Owner’s Club of Great Britain. It’s unlikely that any members of the club will actually read this post, but I thought I'd mention it just in case. The article in question is a review of the 2018 Isle of Wight International Charity Classic Car Extravaganza and will be accompanied by a selection of photographs of the event. If you aren't a member of the MOCGB and fancy reading it, watch this space, as it may reappear in a more public forum at a later stage.

Anyway, I'm in the middle of working on a new poetry chapbook, so I'm going to sign off now. Have a great weekend.
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New Sci-Fi Stories Blasting Off...

Once again, it's been a while since I last posted, so it's time for an update. Firstly, some good news... my short story, The Ether Existence was published this month in Volume 2, Issue 9 of The New Accelerator . It's an epic space opera this time, so not lights years away from my children's novel, The Crystal Ship , though it's aimed at an older audience. You'll need to pay a membership fee to read it, but it's a small amount which will give you access to a great new story every week, so there are worse ways you could spend your money. Here's the logline...

🚀 🏴‍☠️ 🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀

Feline space pirate, Captain Deno's latest robbery promises to be her greatest success, but this time she may have bitten off more than she can chew, as hidden amongst the spoils is something unexpected... something which could mean big trouble for her and her crew. There'll be battles in space, strange new worlds to explore, and she'll need all of her brains and skill if she's going to survive...

'The Ether Existence' Illustration

🚀 🏴‍☠️ 🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀🏴‍☠️🚀

Now for another publication announcement... my newest science fiction story, The Mind Minder is being published in Issue 5 of SERIAL Magazine . This one's a murder mystery set on Mars. It was inspired by my musings on the future of the care industry and has a Philip K. Dick kind of vibe. The magazine is in the final stages of production and will be released within the next few weeks. If you are a fan of sci-fi murder mysteries, then this in one you won't want to miss.

Sticking with the same theme, I neglected to mention at the time, but I had two haiku poems published on the Quatrain.Fish website back in December. The titles are Angel or Dragon? and Insect Inspiration . I'm not going to say anything about the themes, as they speak for themselves, but you'll be pleased to hear that they can be accessed for no charge.

Moving on to Back of the Bookshelf , I'm sorry to say that I've taken the decision to switch to audio only format. The videos have been popular, but the time it is taking to make them just isn't sustainable. It is still my intention to release a video for Episode 9, but that will be the last one for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, I don't have a release date for this video (which I am conscious is already long overdue); all I can say is work is proceeding as fast as possible.

Episode 10 is also under still preparation, but should be available shortly. The featured story is by Baroness Emma Orczy of Scarlet Pimpernel fame. It's called The Liverpool Mystery, and as the title suggests, is a detective story. It features a character known only as the old man in the corner, who solves unexplained crimes from the comfort of a London tea-room while talking to a female journalist, and was part of a series. Orczy was inspired to write the stories by the success of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but made a conscious decision to make her detective as different from his more famous forerunner as possible. One key departure is that the criminals are not brought to justice and the focus is entirely on the reasoning powers of the old man. It's an interesting take, which I think you'll enjoy.

Check back for further details. That's all for now. Have a great evening.
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