Thursday, 24 July 2014

Cold sweat and stomach-churning terror

It seems like an age since I last blogged. In fact, it's only been a month or so, but an awful lot of water has passed under the career bridge since then. And it's been far from easy: as one job after another is delivered, more seem to come in, and always, it appears, the deadline is as tight as a gnat's chuff (as they say in Wigan). I've even had to turn work down, and interesting stuff too - something that always pains me.

However, there are no complaints here. Lots of work is way better than no work at all (trust me, I've been there too).

Without a doubt, the highlight of the last month was easily the THEAKSTON'S CRIME-WRITING FESTIVAL in Harrogate. Not only did I use those lively four day to hook up with my agents and publishers, but with a host of old writing mates too: COL BURY (pictured below with yours truly), NICK QUANTRILL, DAVID MARK, TOM WOOD, HOWARD LINSKEY, LUCA VESTE, GRAHAM SMITH, STEVE MOSBY, SARAH PINBOROUGH, NEIL WHITE, ASH CAMERON, PETE SORTWELL, to name but a few.

The event was a little more testing this year, as I sat on my first ever crime writing panel, addressing the high faluting subject of New Wave Forensics. I freely admit that I broke into a sweat beforehand. Not only was it a very hot day - it was literally like a steam-bath outside - but I was in seriously august company. Check out the image below. Left to right, my fellow panelists are organised crime expert and best-selling true crime author, TONY THOMPSON, world renowned forensics expert Professor DAVID BARCLAY, police intelligence analyst and best-selling author, ELIZABETH HAYNES, and Chair of the panel and top international author in his own right, DAVID HEWSON. All I can say is that it was a fabulous experience. We had a great chat, which the 600 plus audience seemed to lap up. Some excellent anecdotes got shared by everyone - a few of them rather stomach-churning, I must admit - plus I signed a raft of books afterwards too, which was a nice bonus.

I owe all this to my Heck novels - a series of crime-thrillers from Avon Books (HarperCollins), following the investigations of Detective Sergeant Mark Heckenburg, the most recent example of which, THE KILLING CLUB, has now been on the bookshelves since the end of May, and seems to be doing very nicely indeed. On the same subject, I'm now able - more or less - to confirm the next three books in the Heck series.

DEAD MAN WALKING will arrive next November, this one taking our battered and bruised hero up to the English Lake District in the depths of a foggy autumn to pursue a killer supposedly long dead. Following that, HUNTED, the fifth in the series, will be published in May 2015, and on this occasion we head south, Heck exploring the leafy lanes of rural Surrey as he enquires into a series of bizarre and unlikely accidents. Last of all thus far - and this is the real exclusive in today's post - RIGHTEOUS FIRE (at this stage that's a working title only) will provide the sixth outing, probably sometime in late 2015, and will see Heck return to his roots, on the trail of a fire-wielding maniac terrorising the run-down, post-industrial Lancashire town where he grew up.

That latter title is still far in the future, of course. Much sooner than that - in fact, hopefully in time for Fantasycon 2014 in York - will be TERROR TALES OF YORKSHIRE, which will feature such ghostly outings as the stalking devil of Boroughbridge, the murder machine at Halifax and the black tunnel at Renfield.

TERROR TALES OF YORKSHIRE will constitute the seventh title in a series very close to my heart. Despite my novels focussing on the world of crime, the Terror Tales anthology series I edit is fast becoming one of the great pleasures of my professional life. It is several years now since I first hatched the concept of a round-Britain (and who knows, maybe beyond that?) horror anthology series with strong emphasis on local folklore, history, mythology, geography, etc. I can only say that, at this stage, with six titles now in the bag and more to follow, I am truly delighted with the way it's turning out. Thanks enormously to all the writers and artists who have made this possible, and to GARY FRY and GRAY FRIAR PRESS, without whose publishing expertise, there is absolutely no chance this series would have happened.So I'm well chuffed ... but as always, it's onward and upwards. Watch this space for further info.

Pictured above are the six titles so far in print, while one of the contributing authors, STEPHEN VOLK, shows off the most current volume in the series, TERROR TALES OF WALES, and well he might as I can honestly say that his contribution to that book, Matilda of the Night, is one of the scariest and yet most moving horror stories I have ever read.