Despite being easily mistaken as a senior academic, Ron Weighell was a carpenter/joiner on the University of Portsmouth’s maintenance staff for 30 years until his retirement in 2008.
Ron, who lived in Portsmouth, passed away in December 2020 age 70 following a stroke a few weeks earlier.
Before he was taken ill, Ron had been putting the finishing touches to a new novel titled King Satyr - due to be published in a month.
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Now his widow Fran, who retired in 2015 from her post as faculty manager of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences after 30 years at the university, has brought Ron's final novel to publication.
With the help of short story author Mark Valentine and publisher Robert Morgan, the trio have delivered a hand-numbered limited edition jacketed hardcover for Ron’s many admirers. The artwork is by Ron's lifelong friend, Portsmouth illustrator Nick Maloret.
‘Ron always loved the traditional ghost story,’ Fran said. ‘In King Satyr, as in all his writing, he aims at the same atmosphere and sense of the strange and uncanny.’
The story charts the main character Cyrus Burton's occult, magical and pagan odyssey, some years after a childhood encounter with a mythical creature in the woods, as he seeks the truth behind his mysterious experience.
Mostly set in the 1960s and ‘70s, the novel features characters inspired by some of the major figures in the occult world of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as artist Austin Osman Spare. It features mythological and historical references from many cultures, reflecting Ron's vast range of knowledge.
Nick Goodall, writing on behalf of publisher Sarob Press, said: ‘Ron was a fascinating character. Educated at Newport High School on the Isle of Wight, he was highly intelligent, articulate and well-read with many interests, and you could have been excused for assuming that he was a senior academic at the university.
‘Although many fans of the horror genre are familiar with his work, he modestly had little interest in promoting his stories, as his main interests were the research and writing.’
Ron was an accomplished writer of horror fiction in the English ghost story tradition of M. R. James and Arthur Machen.
His stories were published with other authors' in popular anthologies such as the ‘Best New Horror’ books as well as collections solely of his own work, and were published internationally, including in the USA, Canada, Ireland, France, Germany and Romania.
King Satyr is scheduled for publication by Sarob Press in late November/early December and can be ordered through https://sarobpress.blogspot.com