At least one person has told me that they intensely disliked Chetwynd-Hayes' introductions to the Fontana Ghost books, but, whenever I managed to find a new volume, they were always the first thing I read. RCH always included a story of his own in his anthologies, and here's what he had to say about them:
The Fontana Book Of Great Ghost Stories
The Liberated Tiger: My own contribution, The Liberated Tiger, was, as indeed are all my stories, written blind. In other words, I took up my ballpoint pen and began to write. I had no idea how it would end until the last page but one. I hope you like it. A last word. If anyone has a resident ghost, a real dyed-in-the-wool apparition that can be guaranteed to put in an appearance, please let me know. As I have said, I'd dearly love to meet one.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #9: (1973)
Non-Paying Passengers : What can I say? It's true - every word of it. Honestly. If you don't believe me, stand on Platform 16 at Waterloo Station during the evening rush hour and look out for the - more than one - odd passenger that climbs aboard the five-forty-five for Shepperton. You'll be surprised - to say the least.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #10 (1974)
Matthew And Luke: All about a haunted ego. Well - why not? It makes a change.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #11 (1975)
Cold Fingers: I have included two stories about a haunted room. The first is Summer And Miss Swanson by Rick Ferreira, which is concerned with a very nice, if rather sad ghost, that refuses to move out of the attic flat when Mr. Farley moves in. This might - under certain circumstances - be considered an asset depending on the lady's intentions. In any case, Mr. Ferreira's hero learns to live with the situation, which only goes to prove the maxim - one can get used to anything in time. The second story is my own Cold Fingers, but to be honest there is really no comparison. My ghosts are always nasty. Sometimes in fact really vile, and the thing which materializes in Miss Partridges third-floor back is no exception. If Mr. Ferreira's Miss Swanson were to meet it, she would think twice before taking up residence in any-one's attic. Which only demonstrates what an awful mind I must have.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #12 (1976)
My Dear Wife: I like to think that My Dear Wife is a story with a moral; always make sure you have got rid of one love before taking on a new one. Otherwise life - and - death - can become very complicated.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #13 (1977)
The Sad Ghost: Last of all there is my very own The Sad Ghost which has been, regardless of time or expense, written especially for this collection. I have to thank Miss Rosemary Timperley for the name Sorel that I lifted from her novel The Passionate Marriage and which she kindly gave me permission to use. On re-reading the story, I have formed the opinion that Sorel is sweet, her parents dull, Grandma an interfering old busybody - and the ghost a gormless idiot who only comes to his senses on the last page.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #14 (1978)
The Hanging Tree: A few people might recognise the setting , but I hasten to add that this is the only authentic part about it. I am always seeking new names for my characters that will in some way fit into their personalities. Movita slipped into my brain, and yes, it did undoubtedly belong to the sad, rather sweet girl who saw the walker of the haunted path from her bedroom window. But where on earth did the name come from? I have never known a girl called Movita and so far as I can ascertain no one else has either. So maybe I have invented a new name, which I venture to suggest is no mean achievement. Happy haunting.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #15: (1979)
She Walks On Dry Land: Lastly there is my own She Walks On Dry Land which for a change I have set in the Regency period. Well - why not? I like to write about arrogant earls that ride into lonely villages and get teir deserts after hitting the innkeeper over the head with a riding crop.
It must have been fun being an arrogant earl back in 1812.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #16: (1980)
Which One?: This makes nonsense of everything I've written in the opening paragraphs of this introduction. I ask you to accept that there is life after death and that one can hold a very lengthy conversation with a ghost. Where this plot came from I have not the slightest idea, as I write blind, never knowing what my characters will get up to, and pound happily away on my typewriter, hoping the combination of fingers and brain will come up with something readable. Believe it or not, usually this slap-dash procedure works, although the end result varies considerably. It is possible the excitement of not knowing what is going to happen next keeps me going.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #17: (1981)
The Chair: What can i say about it? Is it true? Could be. Someone is almost certain to write in and say they have such a chair and would like to dispose of it. My advice will be - hang onto it. Haunted chairs will soon be the vogue and worth their weight in postage stamps.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #18: (1982)
Tomorrow's Ghost: This first appeared in my hardback collection Tales Of Darkness published by William Kimber, and is - maybe - for what it is worth - the best ghost story I have so far written. It is also in keeping with the overall theme of this collection - old houses and the link that connects one time period to another. As a matter of interest, Clavering Grange was the setting of my first novel, The Dark Man, and is used again in my collection of four long stories, Tales From The Other Side, which was published by Kimber in May 1983. The ghost of Cynthia Sinclair still walks the deserted corridors of the old mansion.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #19: (1983)
My Very Best Friend: Based loosely on incidents that took place in my own childhood, which did not however include the supernatural parts. They are the result of an active imagination and wishful thinking. Wouldn't we all like a beautiful, ghostly guardian who smoothed the path through life for us? The Tabernacle of the Lord's Wrestlers did exist, although not under that name, and not a few of its members did behave in the manner I have described.
Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories #20: (1984)
The Tales Of Terror Stories
The Bodmin Terror: This is the result of taking people I know, casting them in bizarre situations, then allowing imagination to do the rest. I hope you like the end result.
Cornish Tales Of Terror (1970)
Shona And The Water Horse: ... a horror story told in the Gothic style, and the author has, I am sure you will agree, captured the eerie atmosphere of a lonely Highland village where "Swirls of mist were wandering like unformed ghosts ..." I particularly recommend for your attention, the fight between the devil and the Water Horse.
Angus Campbell (R. Chetwynd-Hayes) - Scottish Tales Of Terror (1972)
Lord Dunwilliam And The Cwn Annwn: ... grew out of the legend of King Arawn and the Hell Hounds. I hope you like it.
Welsh Tales Of Terror (1973)
Shipwrecked:Not satisfied with the unholy league that is either on its way, or already in our midst, I have imported a lump of intelligent jelly. Well - why not? It will make a nasty change.
Tales Of Terror From Outer Space (1975)
Keep The Gaslight Burning: I have been accused of having an obsession for moors. Too true. I passed through a period when I fell in love with the Bronte sisters, particularly Emily. I still think that Wuthering Heights is one of the greatest novels in the English language. I read and reread all their works, gathered all the information I could about their lives - and finally paid a visit to Haworth Parsonage. I defy anyone who has heard the wind that perpetually howls across those bleak moors not to think of hell-hounds, or see nebulous shapes that drift across the rippling heather, forever condemned to roam the limitless plains of time and space. Here is yet another story that was germinated from a seed planted during that visit.
Gaslight Tales Of Terror (1976)
The Creator: Honestly, I can do no more than gaze upon this early work with unstinted admiration (quoting Noel Coward). It slid out from my fingers and typewriter with oiled ease. And how right it is that Charles Brownlow received his monster-making training in the butcher shop and petrol station. I have a very strong suspicion that many surgeons learn their business in the same source and possibly know little more, even less, than my later-day Frankenstein. It may interest readers to know that at the age of sixteen - having seen Son Of Frankenstein at the local cinema - I got as far as pickling a sheep's heart in my grandfather's work shop and distilled pure alcohol from methylated spirit. But I never actually got around to making a monster.
Stephen Jones The Mammoth Book Of Frankenstein: (Robinson, 1994)
From Kamtellar (1980)
Looking For Something To Suck is not perhaps a wise title in this age when people are apt to allow their minds to stray into erotic sideroads, but I never even considered such an implication when I wrote the story. But a word of warning. If you have a nervous disposition for heaven's sake give this one a miss. It was first published back in 1969 in the 4th Fontana Book Of Horror Stories, but I still get the occasional LETTER! One gentleman who lives in Devon maintains he lay trembling in his bed for four hours, until he realised that the thin streak of shadow that kept wriggling across the floor, was the result of a tree branch swaying back and forth in moonlight. A lady who resides in Surrey states that seven years after first reading the story she still is unable to enter a dark room, and is of the opinion that people like me should not be allowed to write such things. Maybe she's right at that.
The Gibbering Ghoul Of Gomershal is a previously unpublished account taken from the casebook of the world's only practicing psychic detective, Francis St. Clare. But he and his glamorous assistant Fredrica Masters (Fred for short) have made three earlier appearances, and for a long time there has been talk of a television series, which has still to materialise as something more concrete. In contrast to what has gone before, their escapade is light-hearted, written more for giggles than shudders, but, I hope, none the less entertaining. I like this pair, no matter where they came from, and would hate to see them buried in an unmarked grave.
Amelia was written quite recently and is very nasty. The lovely lady came slithering up from the stew-pot uninvited, a daughter of Satan who invades the so-called normal world that I can never imagine to be other than a horror-surrounded island, situated off the southern coast of hell. Read your newspaper before you dare to disagree with me.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson