Total Midnight


My monster in a box was meant to have been locked away with the lid nailed down by now. What seemed like a grand idea may become (to mix metaphors) my albatross.

The box contains just about every published story I’ve ever written, some revised into definitive versions, minus a handful I didn’t deem good enough to collect, and was meant to be finite. I stopped writing short stories when the market for such anthologies and collections fell away about five years ago, but was commissioned for a few more, so the lid came up again. Now the collection stands at 158 stories and takes so long to load on Word that it keeps crashing the software.

This gigantic volume is called ‘Total Midnight’ and is now too unwieldy to be published as a book, which only makes me want to do it more. My first choice of a publisher bit my hand off for it, then got cold feet, then the virus hit. I had a thought to crowdfund it, bu I’d have to art-direct a total package and set a cost, and the thought is daunting. Any brave publisher who feels like thinking out of the box and accepting a challenge to publish a definitive collection is welcome to contact me!

Meanwhile, my Bibliomystery ‘Reconciliation Day’ for the wonderful Mysterious Bookshop on Warren Street, NYC, has become part of an expensive (just under two thousand dollars) collectable anthology in the illustrious company of John Connolly, Elisabeth George, Reed Farrell Coleman, Anne Perry and F Paul Wilson. The volume/ sacred artefact is from Suntup Editions, and their last anthology sold out in under 20 minutes. Here’s the high-end book, and there’s a cheaper but equally elegant limited edition version available. The illustration above if from my story…

I love books as desirable artefacts but have never been a collector because the authors I regard as cherishable are never worth much monetarily. But as every great reader knows, a book is a private contract between author and reader, and you can’t put a price on that. Many books exist for me merely as vague happy memories.

Do check out the Mysterious Bookshop – the East Coast’s lifeline to finding the finest murder mysteries. Like all great independent bookshops they rely on regular customer turnover to support them and the world would be a dimmer place if they were to vanish.

10 comments on “Total Midnight”

  1. Jay Mackie says:

    A great name for the ultimate collection Chris – I know you’re itching for it to see the light of day in one glorious and definitive package – as are us fans.
    I can’t understand why your Bryant and May publishers aren’t biting your hand off. Or PS?
    Crowdfunding would be an option yes and I’d be happy to donate as I am sure a lot of your fans would.
    But as you say, it may be a daunting task to arrive at a final figure. I reckon worth it though!

  2. Ian Luck says:

    You mention John Connolly – he’s one of my favourite authors – I love the darkness of his ‘Charlie Parker’ books, and have read, and re read his ‘Nocturnes’ anthologies many times – I would put them up with M.R. James’ best stories without hesitation. Do you like his work, Chris? A couple of his stories gave me vivid, sleep-bothering dreams, fairly recently, which I find impressive.
    If I had two grand, then I’d consider spending it on that collection. Alas! It’s just the sum I’m short of, as my parents were fond of saying.
    Hope you’re progressing well.

  3. admin says:

    I like a lot of his work, Ian – his writing is amazingly atmospheric. Not quite so keen on the MR James homages, probably because I’ve read too many.

  4. brooke says:

    Missed the Parker series… with Ian’s recommendation, will dip into. However, as a born New Englander and Mainiac vacationer, hard to see how someone gets from NYPD to Maine, especially as a PD. And it isn’t easy to see anything criminal or occult happening there–only ice storms and bears. But will suspend disbelief.

    Total Midnight… Goth band sounding.

  5. Ian Luck says:

    Brooke – if you do fancy reading the Charlie Parker books, they are a series that does benefit from reading in chronological order – there are often references to previous stories in later books. Start with ‘Every Dead Thing’, which lets you know exactly where you’re going. A book that isn’t part of the sequence, but is mentioned in a much later Charlie Parker book, is ‘Bad Men’, which is a superb standalone novel, set firmly in Charlie Parker’s strange and frightening world. A Charlie Parker novella, ‘The Reflecting Eye’, is included in Connollys first ‘Nocturnes’ anthology (well worth reading, too).

  6. brooke says:

    Ian–will follow your advice. Have you tried Stephen Dobyns’ Saratoga Springs series, set in upstate New York, Travers Cup horse racing country? Features Charlie Bradshaw, seedy, small town ex cop turned race track security guard, turned PI. First in series is Saratoga Longshot. Dobyns is a poet, as evidenced in his writing. Stand alone novels include Church of Dead Girls and Is Fat Bob Dead Yet, the latter highly praised by Stephen King. Dobyns does not lean toward occult, more toward weird characters with dubious morals.

  7. Ian Luck says:

    Brooke – I’ll seek them out – my ‘Hurry up and read, dimbo!’ pile is slowly being whittled down due to the soul grinding monotony of Brexit. Sorry, Covid-19.
    I worked with a bloke who looked like Robert Smith, of the band The Cure, but who had a beergut, and was therefore referred to by everybody as ‘Fat Bob’. Of course he was.

  8. snowy says:

    Like Brooke, I found the title a little… ill-fitting somehow, I couldn’t work out if the words belonged to an eyeliner, a tin of pretentious black paint, some nasty knock off chocolates or a particularly naff offering from K-Tel Records.

    So I did some ‘looking up’ of what tales the book may contain to see if their was a ‘ready-made’

    ‘Touching Darkness’, similar in construction and theme, ‘Touching’ has a nice double meaning, but it is a slightly archaic term, not in common use.

    ‘You’ve Got To Love Something Enough to Kill It’, hmmm… it has intrigue, but it’s probably a bit too long.

    ‘Unnatural Selection’, fits the task, but it is a tiny bit ‘flat’, stick a article on it? ‘An Unnatural Selection’, less flat, but still a bit soft. [Unnatural works, but selection less so, synonyms not inspiring, ‘armamentarium’ works on several levels, it means: all,entire,complete, but it’s a bit Hobbity].

    ‘The Man Who Wound a Thousand Clocks’, is very pleasing, [and it is a good tale]. Has ‘weight’ as befits a large tome. Has intrigue in a nice way.

    [Better minds than mine could probably take: ‘The Man Who…? a ?’ and work better ‘magic’ with it.]

  9. Lauren C says:

    I’d say go with a title from the collection. “The Man Who Wound a Thousand Clocks and Other Stories by …” – I’d pick that off a shelf. You can throw in a qualifying adjective: “… And Other Eerie Stories”. Or “… and Other Tales to be Read at Midnight”. Something in that vein. I love short story collections, both by single and multiple authors. Some evocative titles, as I scan the shelves: Tales of Mystery and the Macabre; Snowfall and Other Chilling Events; Devils and Demons: Fiendish Tales Selected By …; Murder & Other Acts of Literature; Cosmopolitan Crimes.

  10. snowy says:

    “I’d say go with a title from the collection. “The Man Who Wound a Thousand Clocks and Other Stories by …” – I’d pick that off a shelf.”

    And reading those carefully chosen words I know that I have at last found a kindred spirit, that grasps the full power of what appears on the spine of a book!

    It’s much, much better than my only other suggestion:

    One Hundred
    & Twenty-One
    Perverse Acts

    Perverse as in strange/unusual.
    Acts as in short dramas.

    [I do know there are 156, but, what do you think – people will complain if they get ‘Extras’ and a ‘Happy Ending’?]

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