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Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales

Man Booker Prize shortlisted author headlines Christmas ghost stories anthology.

Following the sell-out success of 2013’s The Longest Night: Five Curious Tales, this Christmas sees the Curious Tales collective publish a second volume of seasonal ghost stories, Poor Souls’ Light. The print run is strictly limited to just 500 copies.

Curious Tales is an entirely independent publishing house founded by Jenn Ashworth, (featured on the BBC’s The Culture Show as one of the UK’s twelve best new writers) and Manchester Fiction Prize joint winner Richard Hirst; other members include Emma Jane Unsworth (Betty Trask Award Winner 2012; shortlisted for The Portico Prize 2012); nuanced horror writer Tom Fletcher (2011 British Fantasy Society Best Novel); and artist Beth Ward. The 2014 edition features an original short story by Alison Moore (shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize). Everything at Curious Tales is done by consensus and cooperation; a collaborative aspect that is wholly unique.

'For us, the way we reach our readers is as much a part of the creative process and as much a matter for artistic thought and input as anything else. What better way to enjoy a ghost story than in a traditionally bound, limited edition, rare book?'
'Richard and I began the collective in the summer of 2013. We love beautifully produced books, we love ghost stories and we really wanted to work with the other members of the collective. This isn't self-publishing as it's usually considered – a shortcut to the market, or a way of getting work out there that wouldn't appeal to the mainstream – every aspect of the way we write, edit, design and produce the books and find our readers is a creative and collaborative process. We use an artisan family printer who is local to us and we only use one bookshop: Ebb and Flo, a local independent bookseller that specialises in supporting artists, writers and crafts people. We want to contribute to the bespoke creative industries.'
- Jenn Ashworth

The collective has designed the book, overseen the print process, put together the marketing materials, coordinated the promotional events and will act as its retailer online at

'With Poor Souls’ Light our aim was to create a book that resembled in every way the sort of book we would all want to buy – something bespoke and beautiful, tactile and transitory, populated with strong stories and striking illustrations. If we had opted to go down the route of using a traditional publisher to put together a book of this nature it would have been both difficult and unlikely to get off the ground. In addition, some of the main aspects of Poor Souls’ Light – DIY, print only, limited edition, sold by us – are borne out of the fact that it is a Christmas book. We’re hoping to cater for people who are on the lookout for unique gifts, embracing the handmade, and looking for a good seasonal read.'
- Richard Hirst, Co-founder