Jack the Ripper is a rare thing, an iconic Victorian Gothic villain as representative of the era as Count Dracula, Moriarty or Edward Hyde except for one thing, that he actually existed and his awful deeds actually took place in the mist shrouded streets of London’s east end, which only adds to our present day fascination with this most brutal and as yet unidentified serial killers.
And since his crimes caused such a sensation and his identity is still shrouded in mystery, Jack has become an industry spawning myriads of speculative books and TV documentaries along with Ripper tours of his killing grounds and scads of fiction where he has been co-opted by writers that include Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Philip Jose Farmer, Ramsey Campbell and Alan Moore. He’s been tracked many times by Sherlock Holmes, was the secret identity of Dr Henry Jekyll that secured the glands to transform him into Sister Hyde and even turned up in Star Trek.
So on to the recently published The Mammoth Book of Jack The Ripper Stories. Having previously complied a selection of articles by Ripperologists in The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper, editor Maxim Jakubowski here has collected has compiled a collection of original Ripper stories from a diverse range of authors that include: Carol Anne Davis, Martin Edwards, Sally Spedding and my very own cousin David Bishop.
David’s contribution is his first published short story The Ballad of Kate Eddowes, he told the Hothouse what it’s all about
‘The story attempts to give some more background to one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, and remind us all that these women had lives beyond their part in Victorian London’s most notorious serial murders. Like many people I’ve long been fascinated with the case, but after nearly 130 years there’s now no chance it will ever be solved. The real interest for me is in understanding why these crimes could have taken place at the time that they did.’
So what inspired you to write the story?
‘I spent some time working in Wolverhampton. Whilst there I was surprised to find out that Kate Eddowes had been born there. She returned to the Black Country throughout her life; this was also where she met her common-law husband (and father of her three children) Thomas Conway. Conway made a living as a travelling pedler, and may also have sold poems and pamphlets which he wrote. The archives in Wolverhampton have a poem written about a local murder case, and the murderer happened to be a cousin of Kate Eddowes’. I began to wonder if it was possible that Conway had written the poem, and the story began to write itself…’
Tell us a bit more about yourself – what inspires David Bishop as a writer?
‘I particularly love crime fiction, so my big heroes in that area would be James Ellroy, David Peace, Ed McBain, James Sallis, Derek Raymond… I like any crime fiction that pushes at the boundaries of the genre, and tries to give the reader something new. It’s also something I’d like to aim for in my own writing – telling the story of a crime, but from an unusual or under-used perspective.’
Finally what can readers expect next from David Bishop?
‘I’ve just started retraining as a teacher, so the writing has had to take a back-seat whilst I get to grips with classes of 30 belligerent teenagers. I’m still blogging book reviews and other literature-related posts at What are you reading for and I’ve got 40,000 words of a novel that I’d like to get back to eventually – although exactly when is anybody’s guess! Something shorter is probably more likely…’
Thank you David.
The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories is published by Robinson in the UK. Price £9.99