Catacombs of Terror! by Stanley Donwood


This project was successfully funded on Monday the 3rd of August, 2015

£5,540 was raised by 73 supporters — that's teamwork!

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Pre-order your copy of a pulp fiction 'classic'

Catacombs of Terror! was originally published in 2002 as a very limited edition. It was the result of a £5 bet that Donwood couldn't write 50,000 words of pulp fiction in a month. It was printed on hemp and typeset very small to save paper because hemp is really expensive.

Donwood and original publisher Ambrose Blimfield celebrated publication with a barrel of cider on top of Solsbury Hill. But Donwood was overcome with self doubt, despairing that his novel was shite and he threw the only version of the hand-corrected and extensively rewritten manuscript onto the bonfire he had built with Blimfield before slipping into a cider-induced coma. Hungover, Donwood returned to London, believing he had destroyed the manuscript.

But Blimfield had saved the manuscript from the flames and some months later sold it to Bath antiquarian book dealer Sterling Bland in order to fund the purchase of a solar-powered milk float. Over the years Bland was unable to keep apace with the changing world of bookselling and fell upon hard times. He sold the Donwood manuscript to publishers Scratter & Pomace but, alas, they too are skint and so are reduced to this appeal in order to put Donwood's 'masterpiece' back on the nation's bookshelves.

Donwood is completely indifferent to the project.

Catacombs of Terror! is a crime thriller set in the ancient city of Bath in which private investigator Martin Valpolicella uncovers a sinister plot set in catacombs far beneath the city. It's a story of guns, drugs and flesh-eating pigs. It has been desribed as a 'classic' and Donwood's 'masterpiece'.

Download the first chapter for FREE!

"At no point did I think 'I can't be bothered to read this'." - the author's father

Flea, bass player out of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers says of Catacombs of Terror!: "Stanley Donwood writes existential pulp spy thriller of doom! It jarred me right the fuck out of my oxycodone habit! A barn-burning page-turner from the depths of the secret worlds of hellish evil. Makes me wish Bogey was still alive to play the lead!"

3D out of Massive Attack says "I have read half of it." 

Lady Margaret, doyenne of the Bath cultural scene comments:

"I was awfully pleased to be asked by Mr Donwood’s esteemed publisher to endorse this new edition of The Catacombs of Terror!, especially since my original copy literally disintegrated in my quivering hands. Yes, quivering, for I do declare a more terrifying tome has yet to adorn my librarium. (Admittedly it was a somewhat cheaply produced volume)

"Little did I realise as a young gal doing my bit for the war effort, packing shell cases deep in the caverns below Corsham all those years ago, that this sort of thing was going on. I mean, wagons full of high explosives is one thing, but man-eating pigs? And so close to our own dear Royal Crescent!

"Mr Donwood has produced a real page-turner (and hopefully this time the pages will remain in situ when turned) which deserves a much wider audience. Expect the streets to be filled with wide-eyed, ashen-faced readers on publication!

"I mean, it is all true, isn’t it?"

The money raised from this appeal will pay for the cover illustration by Jacknife of Bristol, typesetting, the purchase of maps from Ambrose Blimfield for the purpose of illustrating the story and the printing of 2,000 books of 240 or so pages. This first edition will be limited to 2,000 copies. The total cost of all this is 5.5k.

The Sterling Bland video was filmed by Matt Gillett of Bad Chicken Productions at Bath Old Books, one of the two remaining secondhand bookshops in Bath. Bath Old Books is a co-operative of five dealers each with diverse interests from Architecture to Art, from Literature of the Beats and the 60s to History and Geology. Bath Old Books, 9c, Margarets Buildings, Bath BA1 2LP, 01225 422244,


pledged of £5,500 goal (GBP)

101% pledged



This project ended on 3 August 2015

This is a take what you raise project. At the end of the funding period the project owner receives all of the pledged funds.

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£5 – Catacombs of Terror eBook

4 people want this

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We'll email you the eBook version of the new edition of Catacombs of Terror! in the file format of your choice. As long as it's ePub or Mobi (Kindle).

£10 – A copy of the brand new edition of Catacombs of Terror

50 people want this

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This new edition is based on the heavily edited manuscript that Donwood believed he had destroyed when he threw it into the bonfire on Solsbury Hill. The cover illustration is by Jacknife of Bristol.

£40 – Screenprint of cover art by Jacknife

4 people want this

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This screenprinted poster of the Catacombs of Terror cover is approx A2 and is printed by Chris Hopewell of Jacknife, Stokes Croft, Bristol.

£50 – Original 2002 paperback edition signed by Stanley Donwood

3 people want this

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A long-lost box of the original paperback edition of Catacombs of Terror! was recently discovered in a broom cupboard at the HQ of the People's Republic of Stokes Croft in Bristol. The box contains 30 copies of the book all signed by Donwood in 2002.

£100 – Signed hardback of original edition

4 people want this

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Sterling Bland is mistaken. He may be under the impression that he possesses the only remaining hardback from the original 2002 edition, but a very limited number of these hardbacks (only four copies) were found in a shed where Ambrose Blimfield once lived.

£250 – The fez off of Sterling Bland's head

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Watch the video. It will all make sense. Sort of. You also get a copy of the new book, a signed 2002 edition paperback, a hardback copy of the original 2002 edition and a screen print of the cover artwork, printed by Chris Hopewell of Jacknife, Stokes Croft, Bristol.

£500 – The original annotated manuscript, rescued from the flames

1 person wants this

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This is the original manuscript sold to Sterling Bland by Ambrose Blimfield - it is Donwood's heavily annotated and hand-corrected manuscript, the bundle of papers thrown into the fire at the top of Solsbury Hill and rescued by Blimfield.

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