Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Silver Voices - John Howard

The Swan River Press has announced a new edition of The Silver Voices by Wormwood columnist and essayist John Howard, collecting seven stories set in the Transylvanian town of Steaua de Munte, hill of the stars, a place of several distinctive languages and cultures, and with its own unusual history and legends. As in his stories for Secret Europe, the volume conjures the atmosphere of the interwar era and its legacy with subtle understanding, in writing imbued with an austere clarity.

In an interview with Mat Joiner, John describes how his interest in such borderlands began when young. Picking up a school atlas, he recalls "being plunged into a world of shifting frontiers, with empires rising and falling in tides of different colours washing across the pages as I turned them, which were decades and centuries passing."

Though he often works within the classic tradition of supernatural fiction, he explains that while his stories may not be about conventional ghosts, they do evoke the metaphorical hauntings we all experience - "our obsessions and longings and fascinations and hates and dreads" - and adds, "I doubt we can ever entirely escape our ghosts, desirable as that might be, because that would mean escaping from a part of our very selves. But come to terms with them, yes."

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