City of the Dead

Twisted Legends: Crimson Pinnacle Press

When propositioned to create a story based around an urban legend, I was keen to offer a Scottish framed piece for consideration to this popular anthology theme. With an abundance of folk tales around Scotland and its many isles to inspire, I decided to dip into what I’m more intimately aquatinted — Glasgow. The central belt is brimming with inspiration. Three urban legends immediately sprung to mind. However, when I began drafting a story, I hopped, unfocused between tales and my first attempt got pinned as I had a stronger pull towards another.

Children playing in Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis. Circa early 1950’s

Much can spiral from classroom whispers and the imagination and zest of children. The inspiring legend of The Gorbals Vampire (or Ir’n Jenni), which spawned hysteria, climaxing in September 1954, and Alexander Anderson’s poem, Jenny wi’ the Airn Teeth, led the way for my creation. The Gorbals Vampire incident brought much debate about censorship of literary material (from poetry in the classroom to imported American comics) to impressionable children, and the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 was passed through the House of Commons. Censorship is an area that is still very much debated today through the arts, worldwide — and not just with children in mind — this deepened my draw to this particular event.

Sunday Mail article 26th September 1954

My story, City of the Dead, was created as a nod to the notorious child vampire hunt of 1954 in Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis and Alexander Anderson’s poem from 1870. I love a good cemetery setting (typical goth, I know), so taking on The Southern Necropolis — which is home to over 250,000 buried souls was a lot of fun. I enjoyed writing this one. It’s always satisfying to weave regional dialect through a piece — bringing authenticity to the characters and reverence to the urban legend’s roots.

I won’t share spoilers beyond the base inspiration for my own story, as City of the Dead was submitted and subsequently accepted by Crimson Pinnacle Press for their Twisted Legends anthology!

The book received a high volume of submissions of twisted takes on urban legends from around the globe. The editors chose the top 13 offerings, and I am thrilled to have made the cut, alongside; Thomas R Clark, Lance Dale, Lance Harkers, Stephen Johnson, Ruthann Jagge, Jae Mazer, Jason Myers, Pamela A. Parish, Chris Puzak, RJ Roles, Vic Kerry, and Robb T. White.

Graphic created by Lance Dale.

Having been published in Crimson Pinnacle Press’ (invite only) inaugural anthology, Fairy Tale Horrorshow, I am ecstatic to be accepted into their pages once again! The duo who run the press, RJ Roles and Jason Myers, certainly have the eye for unique, quality indie horror, I promise you that! You’ll have to pick that up to read my take on this urban legend from Scotland and the 12 other twisted legends, launching October 25th. The eBook pre-order is live.

Thanks for reading!

In addition, if you’d like to listen to me reading Anderson’s poem the video is below.

Author: Natasha Sinclair

Editor & Writer, based in central Scotland.

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