Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Can we blast our way onto the upper tier?

If there's anyone out there who hasn't bought STALKERS yet, for any reason at all, I'm today making it my job to try and convince you do otherwise.

First, a quick recap.

STALKERS is my brand new thriller from Avon Books, and it tells the tale of Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, a tough but tired cop attached to Scotland Yard's elite Serial Crimes Unit. Heck is currently struggling with his investigation into 38 mysterious disappearances: ordinary everyday women who have inexplicably vanished without trace. When he learns about a semi-mythical organisation called the Nice Guys Club, he comes to suspect the foulest of foul play. With the assistance of Lauren Wraxford, a tough war veteran with a chip on her shoulder and a switchblade in her pocket, he plunges into the dark underbelly of modern urban Britain in pursuit of a truth that is almost too horrible to be told.

STALKERS has been described by reviewers on Amazon and in various crime blogs, as: "Rivetting," "gripping," "action-packed," "pitch-dark", "a compendium of violence," "very scary," "high octane," "interesting" and even "rankly blasphemous".

Plenty of purple prose in there, but why not make up your own mind?

Here's an excerpt:

The nearest entrance lay about thirty yards to their left. It was tall and arched, and the numbers etched into its concrete lintel read: 20-80. Once inside, they lurched to an involuntary halt. A tall man in dark clothes, wearing a dark hoodie jacket with the hood pulled up, was standing against the far wall. His hands were in his pockets and his head was bowed forward so that the peak of his hood formed a goblin-like point. However, a second glance revealed that this was merely an optical illusion. Someone had once lit a fire against that wall, creating a human-shaped burn mark. Even so, it had given them both a shock from which they didn’t quickly recover.

The rest of the small lobby was bare. Dead leaves and used condoms littered the corners. Sometime in the past, a wheelie-bin had been dragged in and knocked over, vomiting a pile of foul refuse, which had now coagulated.

They ventured forward. Beyond a row of bars, a stairway led up. The barred gate that allowed access to this hung from badly oxidised hinges. When Heck pushed the gate open, its protracted creak echoed in the passages above.

‘Think O’Hoorigan will have heard that?’ Lauren said. ‘If he really is in sixty-nine.’

‘I’d be amazed if O’Hoorigan was anywhere near this place,’ Heck replied. ‘Okay, he’s a scumbag, but who in the right mind would want to doss here . . . even rent-free?’

They ascended warily. On the first landing, on the facing wall, someone using blood-red spray paint had slashed the words:


If you do feel like buying, you won't be totally alone. The book has so far sold very well. In fact last week, we fell only slightly short of cracking the Sunday Times Top 20 bestseller list, and this is perhaps the real purpose of today's post. While ebook sales are great - and are massively appreciated, so please don't get me wrong! - paperback copies, which can also be had at bargain prices, would be even more valuable at this stage, as it is these on which the Times rankings are based.

So ... if you haven't yet bought STALKERS, and you intend to, why not consider taking the paperback version? It can be found in most major high street retailers: Waterstones, Asda (where it is part of a two for £7 promotion), Tesco (where is is £1.95), Morrisons, Sainsburys and online from Amazon (where it is currently reduced to £3.85) and various other outlets.

Hope you can forgive this hard sell. It's been a bit shameless of me, but the thought of getting into that official 'bestseller' is pretty intoxicating.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Stalked to a place of no return - with luck

To say that I'm bowled over by sales of STALKERS would be the understatement of all time.

Well over a week ago we had sold 15,000 copies of the ebook, and I've seen with my own eyes that the paperback, which was launched last Valentine's Day, is now a noticeable presence on the shelves in Waterstones, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons (on the 'news cube', no less), as well as in various of the independents.

The book is currently 13th in the Kindle Bestsellers list, 1st in Kindle Suspense, 4th in Kindle Mystery and 4th in Kindle Thrillers.

Obviously this has surpassed my wildest expectations. The reviews are also pouring in, and thus far the majority are very positive. For example, top crime blogger Keith Walters, writing on BOOKS AND WRITERS really seems to have enjoyed it.

I'm not going to quote the whole of his review here, but I can certainly highlight a few choice snippets:

In a time where the daily news events seem to worryingly wash over us, regardless of just how grim some true life horrors seem to be, Finch has still managed, in a similar vein to authors like Stuart MacBride, to come up with something that really is a tough at times but, nevertheless, very rewarding read.

Stalkers is a very dark premise and read but, as a result and of the fast paced narrative, it’ll have you by the throat until you get to the end.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Heck when the second book in the series ‘Sacrifice’ is released.

I have to say that writing for Avon Books has been nothing less than a joy. Of course, it always helps when you find yourself on exactly the same page as your editor, but even so this has been a near pain-free experience. No novel can be completed without a certain amount of rewriting and restructuring - that's par for the course - but the whole process at Avon has been pleasant and positive. I've only ever left their offices at HarperCollins in a state of excitement and satisfaction.

So thanks for that, ladies. You folks have been amazing. Thanks also for your sterling efforts on the marketing front. STALKERS isn't all over the place at present by accident.

Just out of interest, a bunch of readers have now asked me if Blacksand Tower, the derelict sea-fort in the mouth of the Thames estuary, where one of the book's most brutal action sequences takes place, is a real location. I must confess that it isn't, but that it is loosely based on Redsand Tower (pictured at the top), a similar structure and part of the TESDU defence network, which was constructed during World War Two, the idea being to engage German bombers navigating towards London along the Thames.

Anyway, on a slightly different matter, there are big moves afoot with regard to DARK HOLLOW, the movie adaptation of Brian Keene's best-selling horror novel, which I wrote with DEVIL'S ROCK director Paul Campion a couple of years ago.

The movie now looks as if it will be a New Zealand/Canadian co-production, with the aim to shoot in Ontario and post-produce in Wellington. Sales agents RAVEN BANNER have been heavily pushing the project at the Berlin Film Market.

More news on these cool developments as I get them. But in the meantime, hope you enjoy this Raven Banner advert, which appeared in Variety Magazine recently - yep, this is the kind of hairy, horny brute you may one day wake up and find hypnotising your wife - if you lived in Dark Hollow of course. (Thanks to Russss for the top piccie).

Monday, 4 February 2013

Racking up the sales, digging up the bones

To say the least, I’m very happy with the way the e-version of STALKERS, my first crime novel, is selling. (I shouldn’t really boast about it of course, but I’m going to anyway – don’t be too disgusted; I’ll try and keep it factual at the same time).

As of this evening (Monday, UK time), we’d sold 5,739 copies. The paperback version will only be launched on Valentine’s Day later this month, so I think we’ve done pretty well thus far. Last Sunday alone we apparently sold 1,466 copies, which I’m led to believe it quite impressive.

Apparently, STALKERS is currently the third best-selling ebook across the whole of HarperCollins and at the time of this writing sits 18th in the main Kindle chart and 7th in the Kindle crime chart.

For those who don’t know, STALKERS tells the tale of Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, whose hunt for 38 missing women leads him to uncover a nightmarish conspiracy. Reviewers online have thus far called it "a cracking thriller with electric pace"; "a tremendous read, well written"; and "a tense cat and mouse chase between a gang so dangerous that no one dare mention their name, and a rough around the edges cop".

You may wonder what all this has got to do with the image above - Laurence Olivier as Richard III in the 1955 movie adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play. Well the answer is - nothing whatsoever. We're now onto a completely different subject, though death and mayhem have their part to play here as well. Basically, I was intrigued by the recent announcement that the remains of Richard III – the last Plantagenet king of England and a character whose evil reputation (courtesy possibly of Shakespeare) and whose undoubted heroic death at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 combined to make him the stuff of romantic legend – have finally been found under a car park in Leicester.

It isn’t a very dignified resting place for a famous warrior king, but in an odd kind of way it ties in with the character we know from the historical records rather than the dramatic reinventions. For example Richard III is the only English monarch known to have spoken with a northern accent, he was also famous for leading his men into battle from the front (which eventually cost him his life, though he survived many other encounters during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses), and for the period of his lieutenancy in the north, he was famed for passing rules and regulations designed to ease the lot of the common people. Of course, just because we’ve found his bones lying under the feet of everyday Leicester folk, covered in grotesque battle-wounds, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have his nephews murdered in the Tower of London or that he didn’t slaughter various other foes (including his older brother, George, famously drowned in a butt of wine), or that he wasn’t a hunchback – amazingly, the archaeological remains suggest that he was.

But enough of the history. Now to the shameless plug. If anyone is newly interested in Richard III as a result of the recent sensational stories, you could do worse than purchase yourself a copy of TERROR TALES OF THE COTSWOLDS.

This is the second to date in my round-Britain series of combined 'horror fiction and fact' anthologies, and as well as including some great original Cotswolds stories from Ramsey Campbell, Simon Clark, Chris Harman, Gary Fry, Steve Lockley, Gary McMahon, Reggie Oliver, Alison Littlewood, Thana Niveau, Simon Kurt Unsworth, John Llewellyn Probert and Joel Lane, it includes several references to the much maligned king (as well as featuring his ghost on the cover). For instance, in Simon Clark’s eerie THE SHAKESPEARE CURSE, the discovery of a hidden cellar in Stratford-on-Avon leads to a reawakening of Richard’s murderous memory, and in LOVELL’S LONG WAIT we follow the terrible fate of Francis Lovell, one of Richard’s few loyal knights to survive the butchery at Bosworth.

Of course, if you want to know more ... you know what you have to do.

Pictured above, another heraldic apocalypse as the armies of Lancaster and York meet again in the final epic clash that was Bosworth Field (as seen in this specially made diorama at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre).