Mid-list writer Daniel Ellis becomes obsessed with the life and work of novelist Vaughan Edwards, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1996. Edwards' novels, freighted with foreboding tragedy and a lyrical sense of loss, echo something in Ellis's own life. His investigations lead Ellis ever deeper into the enigma that lies at the heart of Vaughan Edwards' country house, Edgecoombe Hall, and the horror that dwells there.
In a departure from his science fiction roots, Eric Brown has written a haunting novella that explores the essence of creativity, the secret of love, and the tragedy that lies at the heart of human existence.
Eric and I go back a long, long time. We started appearing alongside each other in magazines and anthologies in the late 1980s, first met at a signing in 1989, and quickly became firm friends. We've acted as beta-readers for each other for the past 25 years, and while I'm a big fan of Eric's work a handful of stories have really stayed with me over that time. A Writer's Life is one of these, the quietly haunting story of one writer's obsession with the life and work of another, a moving and tragic story of art and love. – Keith Brooke
"Brown's spectacular creativity creates a constantly compelling read"– Kirkus Book Reviews
"British writing with a deft, understated touch: wonderful"– New Scientist
He paused, regarding me. "I was writing in my study at the time. It was late, midnight if I recall. The explosion shook the very foundations of the Hall. I made my way into the cellar, through the entrance in the scullery. I..." He paused, his vision misting over as he recalled the events of over one century ago. "I beheld a remarkable sight, Daniel."
I heard myself whisper, "What?"
"It was the arrival here of something unique in the history of humankind," he said, and continued down the steps.
My heart hammering, God help me, I followed.
We came to the foot of the steps. A naked bulb gave a feeble light, illuminating a short corridor, at the end of which was a door. Cunningham-Price paused before it, took a key from his pocket and turned it in the lock.
He looked at me over his shoulder. "I would advise you to shield your eyes," he counselled.
Puzzled, and not a little apprehensive, I did so, peering out beneath my hand as he turned the handle and eased open the door.
An effulgent glow, like the most concentrated lapis lazuli, sprang through the widening gap and dazzled me. I think I cried out in sudden shock and made to cover my eyes more securely. When I peered again, Cunningham-Price was a pitch black silhouette against the pulsing illumination as he stepped into the chamber.
Trembling with fright, I followed. As I crossed the threshold I heard, for the first time, a constant dull hum, as of some kind of dynamo, so low as to be almost subliminal.
I stepped inside and, as my vision grew accustomed to the glare, removed my hand from my eyes and peered across the chamber.
How to describe what I saw, then?