Sunday, 3 April 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: Star-Crossed

The vast majority of the stories in Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu either take place during the lifetime of William Shakespeare or are contemporaneous with the settings of the plays they were inspired by. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions and one of those is Jonathan Oliver's Star-Crossed*.
I first met Jon when he was commissioning editor of Abaddon Books and he took a punt on an idea for a new steampunk series called Pax Britannia. Eight novels and numerous short stories later, the tables were turned when I invited Jon to contribute to my first editing gig SHARKPUNK. As it turns out (and I only just realised this as I was typing this update) Jon is the only author to date to have contributed to all three of my short story anthologies, having had a story feature in GAME OVER too.
He is a highly skilled writer of short fiction, masterfully building a creeping atmosphere of dread with every page, which is perfect for Star-Crossed...
“What are you reading?”
The boy sitting opposite her on one of the ratty armchairs that filled the student lounge had fine mousy hair cut in an unfashionable style, and was dressed in a way that said not so much hipster as failed 1950s’ beat poet.
“Sorry?” Jasmine said.
“What are you reading?” He leaned forward, his gaze on the book rather than her.
“Oh, this? Just a history book. It’s a bit boring actually.”
“May I?” He thrust out his hand abruptly, making Jasmine flinch.
“I’m sorry. You are...?”
“Oh.” The hand was withdrawn, a confused expression on the boy’s face as though he had forgotten himself. “I’m Richard. May I?”
The hand was back again.
“Look. The thing is that it’s really quite fragile. And it isn’t mine, so I really shouldn’t. I’m Jasmine, by the way.”
“I see,” Richard said, got to his feet and left the lounge.
Jasmine blinked and looked back down at the book. She realised it would take time to make friends at the new college, but she hadn’t expected to immediately attract the resident weirdo.

Jonathan Oliver is the author of two sword and sorcery novels, a plethora of short fiction and the twice British Fantasy Award-winning editor of The End of the LineMagicHouse of FearEnd of the RoadDangerous Games and the forthcoming, Five Stories High. He has also twice been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and was a nominee for the Shirley Jackson Award. ‘Star-Crossed’ is his first foray into explicitly Lovecraftian fiction, though a thread of the weird runs through all his fiction. He lives in Abingdon, Oxfordshire with his wife, two daughters and a cat called Fudge.

* No prizes for guessing which play inspired Jon's story!

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