Okay, so back in the early 80s, there was a fondness for magazine producers in the UK to release their products as fortnightly serials, building up to a full volume set after you’d been collecting them about a hundred years or so. I’m sure I recollect titles dealing with different battles in warfare and you got a different ‘toy’ soldier with each issue, I also think there was some kind of wildlife one focusing on a different type of animal each time.
That didn’t float my boat, but what did, was one called The Unexplained. It took ‘mysterious phenomena’ and looked at ‘new evidence’ to try and explain them. All the usual suspects were there – some twenty years before the X-Files – Loch Ness, alien abduction, bigfoot / yeti, spontaneous human combustion, the Bermuda triangle (Remember that? Health and Safety must have sorted that out because I haven’t heard a peep out of any kind of dangerous geometry for years…), the Cottingley Fairies and near death experiences.
The second I saw the advert back in the day, I was hooked. I’ve just watched the old ad on YouTube and it still scans pretty well, considering. I had to have it. So every fortnight I trouped off down to the village shop to buy my glossy dose of spookiness, or the manual on how to become Fox Mulder as it might as well have been. I read and re-read it, can still picture some of the images in there, and it became a really important part of how my mind developed into fiction – getting into James Herbert’s The Rats and progressing quickly onto Stephen King, with It coming a couple of years later. But it’s the lure of the unexplained that has always done it for me – even now, my son and I will sit and watch Finding Bigfoot together, with the glimmer of hope that one of the dodgy sightings just might turn out to be real.
And now, having published The Hand of an Angel, and looking at the roster of stories on which I’m currently working, it seems there may be a bit of a link in what would be otherwise completely separate tales. And so, perhaps, I should really have sub-titled The Hand of an Angel: The Unexplained Series – Volume 1.