“If I tell you the room is haunted, you’ll go in looking for a ghost–hoping you’re special enough to see one. You want to be special, part of the story. So you’ll do your best to see the ghost. That’s all ghosts are. Stories, which grow in the telling and we all want to be part of a good story.”
- Nicholas Vince, “Other People’s Darkness”
In the original Hellraiser films the “Chatterer” Cenobite didn’t really do much, other than sticking his fingers halfway down Kirsty’s throat, but he had an undeniably fearsome presence and has endured for decades now as an iconic monster.
In contrast, the actor who originally portrayed this demon, Nicholas Vince, is a very busy man and prolific author. After starring in the first two (read : best) Hellraiser films, and playing the great character of Kinski in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, Mr. Vince kept himself busy in the IT industry, and writing for several different comic book series’, before returning to the horror genre.
Embracing his enduring legacy as the sinister Cenobite, Mr. Vince recently began hitting the horror cons. Widely known by convention attendees as a handsome charmer, it is obvious he has a great love of the dark side of life, and is very involved in the horror community and social media. He contributes to the Official Hellraiser Facebook page, along with his own page, and has begun holding a series of fascinating “hangouts” on Google+.
In 2012, he released his first collection of short stories, “What Monsters Do”, and saw it go on to be produced as a stage play last year. Creatively booming, he has continued his hard work in 2014, starring in the short film “M is for Metamorphosis”, joining the cast of Ashley Thorpe‘s upcoming Borley Rectory, and releasing another collection of short stories, entitled “Other People’s Darkness”.
The book contains five genuinely creepy short tales, each one told from a unique perspective. The stories in this volume are titled and described as follows :
“Other People’s Darkness”: The world didn’t end on December 21, 2012, but Scott was given a gift—a terrible gift.
“Having Once Turned Round”: Red strawberry jam reminds Gregory he is about to murder love.
“Spoilers”: A visitor to a mansion brings deadly news.
“This Too Solid Flesh”: Tanya is Caroline’s best friend, and Caroline hates her. She enters the poison garden…
“Why Won’t They Tell Me?”: London, 1883. Eight-year-old Cassie wants the police to tell her what will happen to her, now that her family are dead. Perhaps if they believed her story, they would?
Personally, I love short story collections, and was excited to dive into this one!
Other People’s Darkness takes a long unflinching look at the darkness deep inside each and every one of us, and the monsters in these stories are very human.
Without a doubt, supernatural and strange events occur throughout these five stories, but in the end the theme seems to be that the most horrible things are the things we do to each other.
For example, in the story “This Too Solid Flesh”, a young woman is haunted by a ghost, but the haunter is not the bringer of horrible events, the woman is. In fact, all of the stories seem to bear this similar line of thought, even though the characters and situations are all wildly different. This one is a great example of Mr. Vince’s talent at creating characters across all spectrums of humanity, as the focus is on two very different female room-mates and their day to day lives, loves and dark secrets.
My personal favorite of the stories, “Having Once Turned Round”, tells the tale of Gregory, a man stuck in a drab loveless marriage, who arranges a getaway with his former lover, Alex. A horrible accident forces Gregory to make hard decisions and find a way to deal with the nightmare scenario that follows. The strong and believable character arc of Gregory as this strange story unfolds is a fascinating and resonating look at the true nature of some people and the secrets they keep. The character rings true in so many ways, and is an insightful look into the dark thoughts deep inside us all.
Did I mention that this story is insane? It is, and in the best ways. This story alone is worth the purchase.
“Spoilers” is a tense and intimate look at imminent death, and poses a fascinating theory at the forces at work behind the one thing no one can escape. Reading this story, I felt like it would make a great stage play, and I even posed that question to the author at his last Google Hangout. The response was that this story is being adapted as a film, which is great news. It has all the potential for a great minimalist film, as long as the leads are as convincing as the words written here.
The titular tale “Other People’s Darkness” starts the book off running with a fantastic opening line, telling the story of two friends reuniting years after one has left to join the army. After an accident involving an irresponsible driver, one of the young men begins to inexplicably see his friends in shades of red and grey. Desperate to understand what has happened to him, the story goes through some tragic motions and leaves the main character Scott with a dangerous power and some serious emotional issues. The tone is bleak but somehow still hopeful, and leaves the reader with the same feeling of helplessness as Scott.
“Why Wont They Tell Me?” is an atmospheric look at a family of “theatrical folk”, told from the point of view of an 8-year-old girl in 1883. Further proving the author’s deep understanding of people from all walks of life, this first-person story is eerily effective at making the reader squirm. A story of shadows and secrets, this one closes the book on a high note.
Over all, the stories in this collection are engrossing and fun reads, balancing seamlessly between darkly funny and cripplingly sad. Recommended reading for all fans of horror fiction.
Find your copy here, and keep yourself up to date with what this prolific author comes up with next by following Nicholas Vince on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.