Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Ezra Mann
PORTALES—Dr. Antony Oldknow, professor of English at Eastern New Mexico University, has published a ghost story collection called "The Passion Play and Other Ghost Stories."
About seven years ago, Oldknow began writing these stories, then submitting them successfully to literary magazines such as "All Hallows" (Canada) and "Supernatural Tales" (England). Each story acts as a different and unconnected tale which includes a mixture of conscious and unconscious thought caught in a tangled web of fear.
Oldknow wrote the 10 stories in a similar style to that of M. R. James, whose work has influenced a great many authors, including H.P. Lovecraft, Ruth Rendell and Stephen King. Oldknow says he tries to stay clear of some traits exhibited by currently popular movies. "My work is in no way dominated by raw blood-and-guts horror," he said. Oldknow prefers other ways of keeping readers on the edge of their seats while being entertained.
Two of the stories that appear in the collection, "Quintinshill" and "Harrow," deal respectively with the two deadliest train crashes to have occurred in Oldknow's native Britain. Other Oldknow stories incorporate events he has himself experienced, some during his childhood.
"I had a Latin master, Mr. Vigor, who said that if we successfully finished a term's compulsory Latin assignments ahead of time, he would read us M. R. James ghost stories," Oldknow said. The result was that many of the students, including Oldknow, became hooked on the stories; the teacher himself appears in one of Oldknow's stories, though with a slight name change – a tribute from the author for having been his initial inspiration.
Oldknow recommends his stories to readers who enjoy getting a thrill from reading subtle horror.
His book, published in Canada by British Columbia's Ash Tree Press (which is associated with The Ghost Story Society), can be purchased through online retailers such as The Ash Tree Press at http://www.ash-tree.bc.ca/atp120the%20passion%20play.htm or Shocklines at http://shocklines.stores.yahoo.net/paplandotghs.html. The book cost around $46 for first-print copies.