My Dad has cancer. More than one kind in fact. He's fighting hard, but cancer is a devious bugger. It hides, it lurks, and it pounces when you think it's down and defeated.
It has been a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I first came across it in the late Sixties. My Gran's brother came back to town to die with his family. I was fascinated by this man, so thin as to be almost skeletal, wound in clothes that were many sizes too large for his frame, his skin so thin that I could see his blood moving... not pumping, for it had long since stopped moving enough to keep him alive long. He rarely spoke, just sat by the fire as if trying to soak up heat, his eyes frequently wet from tears, not of sadness, but of pain. He lasted for months in that condition until it finally took him and I knew then that cancer was a monster.
There is a taboo in talking about cancer, and death. I remember it well as a child, watching my mum and aunts whisper, taking care that we, the children, were kept distanced from it, kept away from the horror, as if in fear it might somehow be contagious. Couple that with the reticence many people feel when talking about things that affect their bodies and there is definitely a lot left Unspoken.
Cancer is a monster. I can't fight it. But as a writer and as an editor there is something I can do. I rallied up some friends, and friends of friends, and asked them for some stories. They responded brilliantly. We've put them together in a wee book. And now it's out there, earning money for cancer charities. I'm very proud of everyone involved.
The lineup is stunning.
- Ramsey Campbell - Introduction
- Tim Lebbon - Just Breathe
- Simon Kurt Unsworth - Photographs of Boden
- Steven Savile & Steve Lockley - The Last Gift
- John Shirley - Where the Market's Hottest
- Anna Taborska - Underbelly
- Stephen James Price - Pages of Promises
- Scott Nicholson - Heal Thyself
- Stephen Laws - Harbinger
- William Meikle - The Unfinished Basement
- Nancy Kilpatrick - Alien Love
- David Riley - A Girl, a Toad and a Cask
- Barbie Wilde - Polyp
- Johnny Mains - The Cure
- Guy N Smith - The Big One
- Pete Crowther - Cankerman
- Steve Duffy - X for Henrietta
- Gary McMahon - Bitter Soup
- Edited by William Meikle
- Cover art by Simon Marshall Jones
I know from private correspondence that each one of the writers has been touched in some way by cancer, whether it be personal, family or friends, but I'll let their stories speak for them - the rest is a private matter for them to talk about if they wish to.
It's out now in Ebook:
The money raised is going to The Beatson Cancer Research Institute, an organization who have done a lot of tireless work in helping sufferers for many years - including my dad. I hope to be able to announce a paperback version at some point in the future.