...Rick Kennett, and Carnacki the Ghost-Finder.
This was the Introduction to the original Ghost Story Society booklet of Carnacki stories, published in 1992:
The Birth of a Booklet: Synchronicity
Or, Intersecting Parallel Lines
Move your chair closer to the fire. Make yourself cosy and listen carefully, for we have got something very queer to tell you.
A.F. [Chico] Kidd and Rick Kennett live on opposite sides of the world, we have never met, and only began corresponding in late 1990. Yet our encounters with William Hope Hodgson's "Ghost-Finder" Carnacki go back many years, and are wrapped in Coincidence and Synchronicity.
Each of our first encounters with Carnacki, though several years and thousands of miles apart, were identical in that we both read "The Whistling Room" in anthologies borrowed from libraries, a story of Man against the Unknown and hinting at hidden mysteries with juicily arcane names: the Saaamaaa Ritual, the Sigsand Manuscript, Aeiirii and Saiitii Manifestations. The next time we met Carnacki was in the pages of the 1973 Panther edition of CARNACKI THE GHOST-FINDER with its lurid red surrealistic cover and a back blurb quoting H.P. Lovecraft: "The work of William Hope Hodgson is of vast power in its suggestion of lurking worlds and beings behind the ordinary surface of life..."
Rick: "Coming upon references to other cases which were not in the book made me think there was a second volume... But the more I found out about Hodgson's bibliography, the more unlikely [it] seemed. Eventually I had to concede that there was no such animal. However, it was sixteen years before I attempted to write one of these untold stories myself.
'The Silent Garden' was originally accepted for DARK DREAMS, and in doing so editor David Cowperthwaite asked if I had any more Carnacki pastiches with the view of printing a booklet of them for the Ghost Story Society. On the very day I received David's letter I'd already begun a second pastiche entitled 'The Steeple Monster'. However, work on the story came to a sudden standstill when I realized not only did I know nothing about bells and bell towers, but that the story was straying too close to the themes and ideas of the stories of Chico Kidd. So I wrote to Chico asking if she would care to collaborate with me. And here the long arm of Coincidence now stretched to incredible lengths when Chico answered, not only agreeing to collaborate on 'The Steeple Monster', but admitting to being the creator of several Carnacki pastiches herself."
Chico: "When I looked at the acknowledgements of that long-ago library anthology and found that 'The Whistling Room' came from a book entitled CARNACKI THE GHOST-FINDER my heart leapt! There were more! And then I read the words 'Eveleigh Nash, 1913'. So, knowing nothing then (at the age of seven or eight) of second-hand bookshops, there the matter rested until 1973, when Panther brought out an edition of the collection. Then, one day in 1979, I suppose I must have picked it up again, thinking 'Oh yes.' And over the next few weeks I attempted to fill in some of the gaps in the canon, ending up with three stories: 'The Darkness' referred to more than once as 'The Black Veil' case) 'Matheson's Inheritance' ('The Noving Fur' case, which I interpreted to be, also, 'that trouble of Maatheson's' ... and 'The Case of the Grey Dog'...
It was the first time I had consciously written pastiche. And there the tales sat, in handwritten form - for I had no notion that anyone would ever want to publish them - until a letter arrived one day from Australia..."
Ash-Tree Press have just brought out a much-expanded collection, including the four original tales:
"The Darkness" and "Matheson's Inheritance", by Chico
"The Silent Garden", by Rick
"The Steeple Monster", by Rick and Chico
plus Chico's "The Case of the Grey Dog" (first published in LICHGATE) and "The Witch's Room" (first published in ALL HALLOWS)
SIX brand new stories:
"The Psychic Doorways", "The Sigsand Codex" and "Arkright's Tale" by Chico
and "The Gnarly Ship","The Roaring Paddocks", and "The Keeper of the Minter Light" (a novella) by Rick