Genesis of Immaterial
2001, Bill Congreve of small-press publisher MirrorDanse
Books decided it was time that I put together a retrospective-style
collection of my stories, the last having been Day-Dreaming
on Company Time back in 1988. Simultaneously I'd
been dabbling with a thematic collection, having realised
just how many of my stories are, in fact, stories about
ghosts -- sometimes traditional and sometimes not.
was clear that I'd been pursuing this theme for many
years. While writing my YA novel Backstreets,
I'd actually thought of it as a ghost story, though
the supernatural is never more than a suggestive presence
and, like many good ghost stories, the 'reality' of
what is experienced by the protagonist remains open
to question. The publisher, Hodder Headline, hadn't
wanted or expected a ghost story -- they were after
a naturalistic drama about loss and grieving -- and
the novel can be read purely in those terms. But there's
a definite ghostly aura about it.
on from there, the Shades
series featured a group of ghostly beings whose name
was used in Roman times to describe the dead. Though
supernatural thrillers, the Shades books do take
a somewhat more 'scientific' approach to rationalising
their fantastical elements. Nevertheless the Shades
are ghosts of a kind, no question.
top of that, I'd just written a ghost story, "Maculate
Conception", for the MirrorDanse anthology Passing
Strange (actually, I'd re-written it -- the original
having been penned several years before). And a young
kid's book, Hard Rock Rodney, about the spirit
of a dead heavy-metal guitar player. More ghosts. Suddenly
I was doing research into Rudolf Hess and his stay in
Spandau Prison, weaving it into a story I'd been intending
to write for years -- a ghost story, of course.
I had, almost without knowing it, acquired another obsession.
was born. Bill wrestled with me about which stories
to include, striving to make it as good a collection
as possible. Mostly I concurred. Three new stories appeared,
joining with older favourites. And the result is a collection
I'm rather proud of.
An excellent review on the ASiF! Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus website :
"The subtitle of this book is an example of understatement, as well as truth in advertising. While it might be true that this is a collection of ghost stories, that phrase does not adequately convey the breadth of Robert Hood’s talent, nor does it offer the prospective reader any real idea as to what to expect...
"...Through these ... stories, Hood demonstrates a talent for storytelling, as well as showing us his fascination, not only with the immaterial world that surrounds us, but also with the immaterial connections that form between friends, family and even strangers. Whether or not there are real ghosts here is not important – but each of the stories represents a journey away from the comfortable, the stable and the secure, pulling their protagonists towards a world where not everything is as solid as it appears." more