Here There Be Space Dragons
by J.G. Clay
Greetings one and all. It’s a pleasure to be here in a virtual sense. For those of you who have no idea who I am, please allow me to introduce myself. I’m J.G. Clay -horror writer, geek of some standing and general lad about town. Clarissa has very kindly invited me to do a guest spot promoting my new book ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor’. With a title like that, it could only be horror. With a birthday and a backstory like mine, horror was the only genre I could ever write in. Please get comfortable and settle in. I’ll tell you a little bit about my journey through the darkest of Arts or more accurately, the point where my love affair with the Dark Side began.
I was born on Halloween. No, really, I was. It’s on my birth certificate. 31st October, 1973. That’s a good starting point for any horror writer. There is a tale that my mother got freaked out by the combination of a Halloween night birth and also a full moon, but that’s a tale for another time.
Flash forward a few years later. We’re still in the Seventies Britain. Punk was fading out, slowly being replaced by the energetic sound of Ska and the strange hairstyles of the New Romantics. The soccer stadiums of the UK were more akin to battlegrounds and racist skinheads still patrolled the streets looking for people of colour to beat up, main and possibly kill. As one author put it ‘It was no boogie Wonderland’.
Against this grim and quite miserable backdrop, a smaller version of myself first learned the delicious thrill of being afraid. The source may surprise you even more. Being a geek led me to horror. Back in those days, I was a full-on nerd, an impressive feat considering that nerds did not have the same cache that they have these days. Confessing to a liking for ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Blakes 7’ was a sure path to ridicule. I stuck it out and I’m still a geek to this day.
But does this have to do with Horror, I hear ask?
Well, it was Seventies British Sci-Fi that first scared me senseless. Nothing was off limits in those days (except sex and graphic gore, obviously). There was no watershed, no time where programmes deemed unsuitable had to be shown. From the grim Gothic Era of Tom Baker’s Doctor to the brutal Fascist Federation of Blakes 7, there were a lot of trauma inducing moments to choose from. The decaying Master and Mr Sin from ‘Doctor Who’ are but two examples but the one that stick in my mind to this day is the Space Dragon. On a bright Saturday morning, I experienced sheer terror. I’ve never looked back since.
The series in question was ‘Space: 1999’, a cult show starring the husband and wife combo of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. The show itself was a classic of its time and a simple enough premise –Moon gets ripped away from Earth orbit and wanders through the stars encountering new civilisations and threats – kind of like ‘Star Trek’ but with our beloved satellite fulfilling the ‘Enterprise’ role. In the episode in question, the crew encounter what can only be described a furnace mouth with tentacle, one eye and the most horrifying scream imaginable. As if that was pant wetting enough, Ol’ Furnace Mouth Space Dragon Creature fed by sucking people into its bright red hot maw only to vomit out their smoking remains afterwards. That episode scared me so much that I never watched ‘Space: 1999’ again until a few years ago. The seeds were sown however. Once the initial trauma had died down and I realised that Space Dragons don’t live under the bed, (they live in space, funnily enough), I began to turn to scarier things.
Within a few years of that fright, I was reading Stephen King and the late great James Herbert and watching the film that made me think ‘I can write stuff like this’. The film in question?
John Carpenter’s alien masterpiece The Thing. My course was set.
The reason I’m telling you all about this is because I’m convinced that the Space Dragon taught me to love scary things, to embrace the roller coaster ride of emotion that horror invokes. Without the ordeal of watching Michael Sheard being transformed into a smoking ruin, I may not have bothered with horror at all. (By the way, Michael Sheard was an accomplished British actor who had the distinction of being killed by Darth Vader. He was the unfortunate and incompetent Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back).
So now, with one book in the bag and plenty more to come, I have to thank my geeky instincts for setting me on the path of horror. I also have to thank the Space Dragon but that won’t happen anytime soon.
By the way, the episode in question is called ‘Dragon’s Domain’ and it’s on YouTube. If you watch it, please
tell me whether it’s aged well. I’m still too traumatised to go anywhere near it.
Tales of Blood and Sulphur:
Tales of Blood and Sulphur
Date of Publication: 24th July, 2015
Number of pages: 212
Word Count: 77,000 words approx.
Cover Artist: Ashley Ruggirello
Eleven Tales steeped in Blood and reeking of Sulphur
J.G Clay takes you on a journey through the voids of Reality and into dark places where demons, mutants and inter-dimensional creatures taunt, taint and corrupt Humanity. Survival is not guaranteed, sanity is not assured and death lurks in every corner. These are the Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor; eleven twisted tales of terror and mayhem..... There are cracks in the skin of Reality.
Some are microscopic, others are as wide as a four-lane motorway. As the fault lines increase and widen, the door to our world shines like a beacon in the darkness, a warm and inviting sight to others beyond our understanding. When They cross over into our realm, The Tales begin...... A gambler taking one last desperate throw of the dice. A struggling writer making an unholy alliance. An eternal being fighting to stay alive in the financial capital of India. A man burdened with a terrible town secret. The Law Enforcers who must never cry. The End of Days live and direct from the rural heartland of England.
The blood is warm, the sulphur is burning, the tales will be told, the Apocalypse Minor is imminent!
About the Author:
J.G Clay was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire on Halloween night, 1973. By sheer coincidence, it was the night of the full moon. The man was tailor made for the Horror Genre. A life-long horror and science fiction fan, he has written for his own amusement since his teenage years, taking time off to do the usual things that adolescent boys do and growing up disgracefully. Now in his forties, he has returned to his passion for the dark, the weird and the twisted. Tales of Blood and Sulphur is his first foray into the world of the Author but rest assured, there are plenty more stories to come. The man has a plan and he is out to scare the world, the solar system and beyond. Off duty, he has a passion for music, films and Birmingham City FC. He can also hold down a half decent bassline. J.G lives with his wife and step-daughter in Rothwell, Northamptonshire – the heart of the English countryside, an idyllic setting but a strange one to find a Nightmare Child of Halloween.