Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Walkers In The Dark - now out as an ebook

I'm chuffed to announce that what I consider to be one of my very best collections of short fiction - WALKERS IN THE DARK - is now available in ebook form from Ash-Tree Press.

First published in softback in March 2010, WALKERS IN THE DARK was launched at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, UK, and contained only original material: five brand new horror novellas, all drawing on one of my preferred areas within supernatural fiction - eldritch mysteries intruding into the spiritual desert of our modern world, and always, hopefully, with chaotic and terrifying consequences.

If you fancy venturing in, be prepared for lashings of the ancient and arcane, spiced up here and there with sex, violence and folklore of the extreme darker variety.

Reviewing the book on his PAGE HORRIFIC blogspot, James Carroll said:

"This is imaginative fiction at its finest, and these highly atmospheric tales of haunted lives and innocence lost, transcend genre boundaries and ultimately defy classification."

I'm particularly happy that WALKERS IN THE DARK now exists in electronic format because when it first came out in softback it only had a short print-run. I wouldn't exactly say that it has since become a collector's item, but I've had a number of contacts over the last two years from readers trying to trace a spare copy, and even I, the author, have not been able to help them. It was short-listed for a British Fantasy Award in 2011, in the capacity of Best Collection, but was pipped at the post by Stephen King's FULL DARK, NO STARS (I don't suppose I could really complain about that).

Anyway, all of that is now in the past. The ebook version is out there just waiting to be snapped up at the bargain basement price of £4.61 (or $7.19) .... so go for it.

Just in case you need your appetite whetting further, here is a little taster:

THE FORMLESS: When a pretty young student is mysteriously declared dead, her university suitor heads north to her home in the Scottish Highlands to investigate - what he discovers there is sufficient to challenge not just his sanity, but the survival of his very soul ...

SEASON OF MIST: In the misty autumn of 1974, a series of child murders afflicts an industrial Lancashire town. Local kids are certain it's the work of the mythical demon supposedly dwelling in a local derelict coal mine; nevertheless they set out to enjoy their usual autumn festivities ...

FATHOMS GREEN AND NOISOME: Cryptozoologists explore an icy lake high in the Welsh mountains, in whose depths a monstrous beast is reputed to dwell. But the perils they face in this cold and inaccessible region may actually lie much closer to home ...

GOLGOTHA WAY: Aged World War Two veterans are distressed by continued obscene vandalism at the local Cenotaph. Their suspects range across the board from everyday hoodlums to anti-war protestors and anarchists. But rumours are rife that the actual culprit is a mysterious individual, all charred and ragged as if burned by a flame-thrower ...

WALKERS IN THE DARK: Deep in Liverpool's deprived Toxteth district, a bunch of students plan to excavate beneath the floor of a derelict urban monastery, where research has led them to believed that a stash of Viking gold was buried. But the mission is fraught with danger - local gangs haunt the area, and when they finally unearth their 'treasure' they find there was a good reason why it was buried in the first place ...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Farewell to another Doctor Who stalwart

I was very saddened this week to hear about the death of Caroline John, the lovely actress who played feisty Liz Shaw in Doctor Who.

Caroline passed away at the age of only 71, after appearing in five classic Who stories during the Third and Fifth Doctors’ tenure – who can forget Spearhead From Space, Inferno and The Silurians?, Who at its absolute best – and later reprised the role in various audio and straight-to-video spin-offs.

Liz Shaw wasn’t one of the longest serving characters in Doctor Who, but she certainly made her mark, combining beauty and sexiness with brains and personality. I always recall a newspaper article from when Caroline was first cast as Liz, showing her posing in a bikini - Caroline later went on to say that this was never the way she'd envisaged Liz, and how right she turned out to be. It was quite a culture shock back in 1970 for the Doctor to have a companion who knew almost as much as he did when it came to astrophysics, and who had no hesitation in pulling him up if she thought he was out of line.

I never got to meet Caroline unfortunately, though she appeared very recently in a Doctor Who audio drama I wrote called THE SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN, from Big Finish. The story centres around Liz as she was in later life – a retired Cambridge scientist, whose days as a UNIT officer had come under scrutiny thanks to government officials detecting a blank space in the service record. In the story, Liz recalls an incident involving herself and the Third Doctor, which occurred after her official departure from UNIT, but which she’d clearly hoped had been forgotten. (The remarkable piece of artwork you see at the top, is taken directly from the SENTINELS cover, though it will now have taken on a whole new resonance in the eyes of many).

I won’t say too much in case I spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet heard it, but Caroline, as always, was superb in the role, bringing it her traditional authority and allure. It will always be a deep regret of mine that I had the chance to meet her during the recording, but for once was not able to attend as I had somewhere else I needed to be that day.

Anyway, RIP Caroline (1940-2012). In the words of Big Finish: Lovely, kind, brilliant.

It seems almost irreverent to mention anything else this week, but I doubt Caroline would have minded too much. So, in other Doctor Who related news, fans may be interested to know that a PODCAST for COUNTER MEASURES is now available to be listened to (just follow the link).

COUNTER MEASURES is a new Doctor Who spin-off from Big Finish, concerning the adventures of a small but elite military/scientific cadre who, after helping to fend off the Dalek menace in REMEMBERANCE OF THE DALEKS (first screened in 1988, though it’s actually set in 1963), are charged with defending the Earth against all kinds of extraterrestrial and home-grown horrors. I was very pleased to be asked to write the pilot episode, THRESHOLD, and from what I’ve heard so far the team more than do it justice. (The banner shows actor Simon Williams as Group-Captain Chunky Gilmore).

Anyway, check out the PODCAST – for those of you who prefer your Who to be old-school, with more than a hint of Quatermass, it should whet your whistles nicely.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Of torture porn, dogs' ears and rock chicks

If anyone is interested in the mechanics of film-writing, here is a LINK to the final shooting script that we wrote for THE DEVIL’S ROCK. Note, I’m not saying that it’s the absolute bee’s knees or the very last word in how to lay a movie out on paper, but it might be of some interest.

Next up we have a bunch of images associated with both THE DEVIL’S ROCK and DARK HOLLOW (which director/writer Paul Campion and I are working on next).

Top is the disk art for the Japanese DVD release of THE DEVIL’S ROCK, which still appears to promote that ‘torture porn’ thing that I’m not at all fond of and which has nothing to do with the actual movie, but which catches the eye nevertheless. Second is the full publicity poster that was produced when the movie was first released in the UK (or was this one for the New Zealand release? – you’ll have to forgive me, I’m not totally sure on that); most folk will only have seen fragments of this one.

Third is sure-fire proof that movie adaptations of books are not always good news for the books themselves – at least, not for the copy of the book that you happen to be working from. ‘Well-thumbed’ or maybe 'dog-eared' would be polite ways to describe this original edition of Brian Keene’s DARK HOLLOW, but then it did pass from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere and back again, as Paul and I took shots at it.

Lastly is another sexy and totally gratuitous image of Gina Varela, star of THE DEVIL’S ROCK, which accompanied a magazine interview she did a few months ago.

On non-movie related news, I can now officially reveal that my forthcoming novel from Avon Books – THE NICE GUYS CLUB – the first of a trio of ultra-dark, uber-violent cop thrillers – has had its title officially changed to STALKERS. It’s early days yet of course, and there’s a remote chance it may change again, but perhaps this one is a little catchier than the original. I mention it now because it’s already appearing on Amazon and other online retail sites under that title, and I didn’t want anyone to be confused.

I’m also proud to announce that a new short story of mine, IN THE FOREST OF THE NIGHT, will be published in the forthcoming horror anthology from PS Publishing – CARNIVALE OF HORROR: DARK TALES FROM THE FAIRGROUND.

I have no link to that yet, and no full TOC, but I’ll be signing copies, along with all the other authors of course, at FANTASYCON in Brighton, in September.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Exotic horror and a brand new Apocalypse!

I’ve had quite a hectic schedule in the last few weeks. My announcement regarding THE NICE GUYS CLUB came at the end of several months of intense horse-trading, which is all now happily sorted. But that has kept me on my toes. In addition, there has been fresh work to do on the two movies I currently have on the go – DARK HOLLOW and THE DEVIL’S ROCK 2, plus, of course, I’ve been putting the final touches to TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA, which we’re hoping to launch at the East Anglia Literary Festival in August.

Folks may recall that, a couple of weeks back, I posted some images on here to illustrate the subject-matter we’d be covering in this next TERROR TALES volume. In order of appearance, they were: Borley Rectory in Essex; an old wood-cut depicting Matthew Hopkins, the infamous Witchfinder-General who terrorised the eastern counties during the Civil War; and the now legendary photograph of the ghost of Fakenham Hall, Norfolk, taken back in the 1930s. Be assured, all will feature, in one form of another, in the TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA.

Now onto a few other bits and pieces which are still in the offing. The various pictures this week illustrate a few other projects of mine.

First up, pictured above is the cover for ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: FIGHTBACK, edited by the indefatigable Stephen Jones and due for launch at Fantasycon 2012, in Brighton (October). My contribution to that one is a cop novella entitled DEAD AIR, which I’m rather proud of (even if I do say so myself), but I'm not by any means alone in that one. There isn't a full TOC available yet, as far as I know, but suffice to say that Jones weaves together various essays, reports, letters, official documents and transcripts - courtesy of numerous writers well-known in the genre - to create a coherent and chilling mosaic novel (a sequel, of course, to his first in the series - ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, which was such a hit back in 2010.

Secondly, pictured left is the cover for EXOTIC GOTHIC 4, edited by top US literary man, Danel Olson. My World War One-era short novella, OSCHAERT, will feature, along with cracking tales from such luminaries as Reggie Oliver, Stephen Volk, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Robert Hood and Anna Taborska. EG4 will be published later this month, and, dealing as it does with subtle chillers from all around the world, may be one for aficionados of intellectual horror.

Less intellectual, I’m sure you’ll agree – but pretty startling all this same (in fact 'eye-popping' would be another way to describe it) – is this last image, pictured below, which should give all you movie fans in the west a rare glimpse of the cover art to the new Japanese DVD edition of THE DEVIL’S ROCK.

I'm not sure what I feel about this one, to be honest. In this case, the distributors have clearly gone for that old ‘torture porn’ feel, which is not what the film is about at all, but who am I to tell industry professionals their business? I’m sure they know the audience they are targeting better than I do.

That’s it for now, but there is lots more interesting stuff on the horizon, so if you take my advice, you'll keep tuning in.