Substitutions - Michael Marshall Smith
Michael Marshall Smith recalls: "This story came about in the simplest way, the way I always enjoy most - something happening in real life that makes you think 'What if?' "Our household gets a lot of its food via an online delivery service, and one day when I was unpacking what had just been dropped at our house I gradually realised there was something...not quite right about the contents of the bags.
"There's two things that are strange about that experience. The first is that - given that every household is likely to buy at least some things in common - you don't realise straight away that you've been given the wrong shopping. You don't immediately think 'This is wrong', more like . . . 'This is weird'. The second is how personal it is, gaining accidental access to this very tangible evocation of some other family's life. You can't help but wonder about the people the food was really destined for.
"In real life, I just called up the delivery guy and got it sorted out: but in fiction, you might tackle things slightly differently . . ."
Out Back - Garry Kilworth
"'Out Back' was written for a group of friends," Kilworth recalls, "who appear as characters in the story under their initials, as I do myself. Those who know me well will recognise the protagonists.
"Iken is a real village on the edge of the marshes behind Snape Maltings in Suffolk. Two years ago I wandered along the periphery of the reed beds which stretch down towards the coast as a green and golden sea, the waves created by the winds that blow across the flatlands. Looking at the church that sits on a knoll above the marshes I thought, 'This is a perfect setting for a horror story.' And so . . ."
City of the Dog - John Langan
"This story arose from my desire to see what I could do with the figure of the ghoul," reveals Langan, "and as I've tried to indicate within the narrative, I drew inspiration both from H.P. Lovecraft ('Pickman's Model') and Caitlín R. Kiernan (Daughter of Hounds).
"The miserable years in New York State's capital, though, were mine alone."