“Short tales to appease your monstrous hunger for suspense” is how we describe SWC Horror Bites, a series of digest-sized done-in-one stories and short-story collections that will be available in print and e-book formats exclusively from the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and at the conventions we’ll be attending next year.
The series, a mix of new and classic horror stories, kicked off this past February with Clemence Annie Housman’s White Fell—The Werewolf. And, as I told you a couple of days ago, the second title will be Tales to Sorta Tremble By, a 13-story collection available in time for Halloween.
In December, StarWarp Concepts will be releasing a third Horror Bite: Gabriel Grub and the Goblins, a yuletide tale by Charles Dickens, the legendary author of A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and David Copperfield (among others).
“The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” (also known as “The Goblins and the Sexton”) was first published in 1836 as a chapter of Dickens’s first serialized novel, The Pickwick Papers. It’s not nearly as famous as A Christmas Carol, but it does share the same theme of a bad-tempered loner being forced by supernatural intervention to learn the meaning of Christmas. Scrooge gets the spirits of Christmases past, present, and yet to come (plus the ghost of his old business partner, Marley); Grub gets the goblin king and his subjects.
As for our title change…well, there are three reasons. First, there was something about the triple-G alliterative quality—Gabriel, Grub, Goblins—that appealed to my inner Stan Lee (the real-life Mr. Lee having given us such character names as Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, Reed Richards, Betty Brant, and J. Jonah Jameson). On another level, I thought it had a Harry Potter–esque fantasy vibe that would catch the eye of potential readers. And lastly, most people today would probably have no idea what a sexton is, and might think it was either sextant—the nautical tool used for charting courses—or something related to intercourse.
Here’s the back-cover copy:
Ghosts aren’t the only supernatural creatures with the holiday spirit…
Gabriel Grub hates absolutely everything about Christmas—chestnuts roasting on open fires, yuletide carols being sung by a choir, the tidings of comfort and joy, the belief in peace on Earth and good will toward all men, even the figgy pudding. It’s all…well, if not humbug, then something pretty close to it.
What Gabriel Grub does enjoy, however, is digging graves—it’s not just one of his duties as a church sexton, it’s something that actually brings him a small measure of joy. So with a shovel in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other, he sets out one Christmas Eve to catch up on some work.
But as he will soon discover, the king of the goblins takes an extremely dim view of those who refuse to get into the holiday spirit.
It’s about to become a very memorable Christmas Eve for Gabriel Grub…
Gabriel Grub and the Goblins goes on sale on December 13 exclusively through the StarWarp Concepts webstore, and will be available in print and digital formats.