A boy walks approaches him and, taking him for the famous vampire-hunter Doctor Van Helsing from the Hammer movies, asks for his help. Because he believes his stepfather really is a vampireâ€¦
So begins the moving and evocative new novella by Stephen Volk, published by the British Fantasy Award-nominated Spectral Press in May 2013 to coincide with the centenary of the most celebrated and beloved of Hammerâ€™s stars, Peter Cushing.
InÂ Whitstableâ€”which deftly mixes fact with fictionâ€”the actor, devastated after the recent death of his wife and soul mate Helen, is an inconsolable recluse. In that vulnerable state he is forced to face an evil far more real and terrifying than any of the make-believe monsters he tackled on the big screen. And here he is not a crusader or expert with crucifixes to handâ€”merely a man. A man who in some ways craves death himself, but cannot ignore the pleas of an innocent childâ€¦
Stephen Volk is a life-long fan of Cushing and grew up sneaking into cinemas underage in his home town to see Hammerâ€™s gruesome and uncanny fare. A love affair with the macabre and the gothic was kindled, and this book is very much intended as a way of repaying the debt he owes to his favourite actor and the star known universally as â€œThe Gentle Man of Horrorâ€.
The author was aided in his extensive research by film historians and critics, those who have met Cushing, residents of Whitstable, and even Whitstable Museum itself.
“This will engross and enthrall all Hammer fans and those who adore and revere Cushing. It brings his screen persona vividly to life in a modern context when the monsters are all too real.”Â – Tony Earnshaw, author ofÂ An Actor and a Rare One: Peter Cushing as Sherlock HolmesÂ andÂ Beating the Devil: The Making of ‘Night of the Demon’
“Peter Cushing was my first hero, and in my opinion Stephen Volk has done something heroic by putting the man who fought onscreen monsters at the heart of a very human drama. Sad, tinged with a palpable sense of loss, beautifully written, and blessed with an unerring eye for crucial detail,Â WhitstableÂ is a story to savour. If I may be so bold, I’m convinced that Peter Cushing would have approved”Â – novelist Gary McMahon
“A wonderful piece” – David Pirie, author ofÂ A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema
“I lovedÂ Whitstable! It’s a beautiful love letter to a man, a genre, and an era that means so much to those of us of a certain age”Â – Mick Garris, director ofÂ The Stand,Â Bag of Bones,Â producer,Â Masters of Horror
Accompanied by a heartfeltÂ AfterwordÂ by horror novelist and fellow Hammer devotee Mark Morris,Â WhitstableÂ is the third in the series, Spectral Visions. The first two novellas (Gary Fryâ€™sÂ The Respectable Face of TyrannyÂ and John L. Probertâ€™sÂ The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine) have garnered wide acclaim from readers, reviewers and bloggers alike.