Charles Coyne has worked as a management consultant and research chemist. He has also travelled extensively as an Observer in the Fleet Air Arm of the British military. Coyne thoroughly enjoys writing short stories, having been engaged with strange tales since the age of 17 years.
When did you first start writing?
I cannot remember exactly, but I think it was around 1951 or ’52. I had written The Consul (found in Strange Tales). I distinctly remember reading, in the Hull Daily Mail, the reminiscences of a one-time Scandinavian consul who remembered his having to take a revolver with him, when he went to supervise the paying off of the crew of a Scandinavian ship. Just fancy that, I thought. The story then wrote itself.
What is the story behind your latest book?
I presume you mean the recently published book titled Strange Tales. Well, it is really the story of the generosity of my partner, Jocelyn Bates. Five years ago, she decided to treat me to the publication of one of my books. I decided it would be best to get my short stories printed, so we trailed around various printers in Gozo (Maltese Islands). Gozo Press came up trumps. Then there was the problem of who would illustrate it. I spent some time locating Justin Falzon at the Gozo Centre for Arts and Crafts at Ghajnsielem. Then we faced the problem of distributing it. This was solved by the Order of Saint Lazarus. We decided to give all the proceeds from the book to charity – precisely to that Order. That decision solved a number of production problems. Justin illustrated it for free and Gozo Press got someone at the University to design the cover also for free. And so, 200 copies of Volume 1 came out of Gozo Press and I launched it at the Citadel, also in Gozo, at an exhibition of local artists. The Order of Saint Lazarus benefited from the sale of about 60 copies. Volume 2 came out with Gozo Press in similar fashion. Jocelyn insisted that the first volume should be called Volume 1, so Volume 2 followed inevitably.
Strange Tales (Combined Illustrated Ed.) is a collection of 29 horror stories, many of which are set in the Maltese Islands, and 49 illustrations. Coyne manifests himself a true master at sleight of hand in these tales and their surprise endings.