Time for my regular plug for one of my favourite magazines. SCREAM issue 26 is now available and, as usual, it’s packed with some great stuff. Highlights this issue include an excellent piece on the video nasty furore which swept the UK in the early 1980s, a couple of Walking Dead interviews, a feature about the horror movies of Vincent Price, and a look back at Army of Darkness written by a member of the crew who worked on the movie.
I’m really pleased to be able to announce the imminent launch of LAST OF THE LIVING – a paperback collection bringing together the two novellas and associated short stories (i.e. the short story and flash fiction versions of THE COST OF LIVING, as well as WHO WE USED TO BE, TIGHTROPES, MURIEL and WISH I WAS HERE).
This post is really just a convoluted way of asking a pretty direct question, so please bear with me…
Summer’s definitely over now, and I’ve been looking back at some of the movies I managed to get to see. Without a doubt, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was the film I was looking forward to seeing most and, surprisingly, I thought it almost completely delivered.
It’ll serve little purpose if I review the movie this late in the day because I expect you’ve either a). already seen it and made up your own minds, or b). you’ve heard enough about it to know whether you want to see it or not. To summarise, though, it’s a technically stunning film with some great performances, an intense storyline, superb action scenes, and some of the most realistic animation you’re likely to see in a long time. I highly recommend it.
I’ve long been a fan of the APES movies. I’ve seen the original films countless number of times, and I’ve even managed to make it all the way through the abominable Tim Burton remake more than once. I was thinking about why I love the Apes concept so much when it struck me: it’s the same central conceit as zombies, isn’t it? Replace the apes with the undead, and you’ve got a very similar set-up. The apes are just another in a long line of variations on us versus them, and these movies work so well because of the increasingly thin line which separates one side from the other.
In fact, when I left the cinema after seeing DAWN, I couldn’t help thinking about HATER. With HATER, you could argue the only real difference between one side and the other is perspective. They’re pretty much otherwise indistinguishable from one another (unless you are a Hater, of course…).
Incredibly, it’s now seven long years since the HATER movie rights were first acquired, and although the cameras almost rolled back in 2009, there’s been very little movement on the project since then. But that might be about to change. I can’t say much at the moment (there’s not actually very much to say), but some positive initial discussions have been taking place with a view to getting HATER on the big screen.
So all this rambling finally leads me to my question. Seven years is a long time… do you still want to see a HATER movie? If so, what are your hopes and fears for the project? Personally, I think there’s never been a better time (as the success of our ape friends has illustrated), but what do you think? I’d really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to let me know.
And as soon as I have any definite news, I’ll post it here.
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I’ve talked a lot about ISOLATION recently, but I’m conscious I haven’t told you very much about the four additional zombie stories which come bundled with the new novella. I’m going to put that right today.
THE COST OF LIVING and ISOLATION ebook releases represent all of my non-AUTUMN zombie output. If you remember, THE COST OF LIVING includes two previous versions of the story. With ISOLATION, I’ve included two previously published shorts, and two which were written specifically to close out this collection.
WHO WE USED TO BE
Originally appeared in John Joseph Adams’ excellent THE LIVING DEAD 2 anthology, and I’ve grown to think of it as the antithesis to THE COST OF LIVING. One minute, everyone in the world dies unexpectedly. A minute later, they all reanimate. The story focuses on a small family unit as they try to prolong their increasingly precarious existence for as long as possible…
Was written for an SFX magazine zombie special. I make no apologies for it being a more mainstream zombie tale than anything else I’ve written, as I was writing for a specific audience. It’s a quick, gory and fun tale of a lone survivor living on his nerves in his parents’ house.
A brand new story set in a world which has just about managed to pull itself back from the brink of the zombie apocalypse. So when we’re used to living alongside the threat of the undead, how long will it be before we slip back into our old ways again…?
WISH I WAS HERE
I’ll say little about this final story, other than it was inspired by a thought that’s regularly struck me… No matter what the reason we’re given for the dead beginning to rise, at the outset there’s a stark difference between us and them. But the longer the situation goes on, the less noticeable those differences become. When the dead walk the Earth, can there be any winners?
I hope you enjoy ISOLATION – early reviews have been great (the ever-reliable BookBloke said: “I was once again blown away by the recognisable settings and relatable yet engrossing characters. A gripping read. Treated to four more short stories within this book, all with different takes on zombie fiction, it’s a must have for zombie lovers, people who love gore and violence and people who love stories with exceptional characterisation. It’s one that’s not to be missed”). And finally, for those who’ve been asking, in the coming weeks I’ll be formally announcing LAST OF THE LIVING – a new paperback release which will include ISOLATION, THE COST OF LIVING, and all the other stories I’ve talked about today.
I made a decision early in 2014 to push myself out of my comfort zone more often this year, and the result of one such excursion is released today. THE BLACK FANG BETRAYAL is a collaborative novel produced by J Thorn and written by Thorn, TW Brown, Michaelbrent Collings, Mainak Dhar, J.C. Eggleton, Glynn James, Stephen Knight, T.W. Piperbrook, J.R. Rain, and myself.
Levi Phillips is a warlock living in the woods of rural Ohio. With his apprentice, Matthew, Levi operates one of the most ferocious covens in the world, known as The Black Fang. Managing the coven like an international corporation, Levi controls its enormous wealth while running a moonshine operation as a front. But when a plot to assassinate Levi is exposed, the warlock decides it’s time to destroy The Black Fang and the destruction could create a new beginning.
The Black Fang Betrayal features today’s best horror, dark fantasy and thriller writers collaborating on a unique and fascinating novel. Armed with nothing but a prompt and a character name, each author became a warlock of The Black Fang and wrote a first-person account as a member of the coven. Using themes and sequences woven throughout the complete narrative, a cohesive page-turner emerges.
It was great to be a part of such a unique project, and folks who’ve read the book so far seem to have really enjoyed it. It’s available at the astonishingly low introductory price of $0.99 for a limited time, so please do check it out. Visit www.theblackfangbetrayal.comfor more information and an opportunity to enter an exclusive competition. Can you match the authors to their stories?
Today I’d like to introduce you to PETER MCKEIRNON – author of DEATH IN A NORTHERN TOWN and its recently released sequel. I got chatting to Peter a while back and was really interested in his take on the zombie apocalypse (which feels similarly low-fi to AUTUMN, but far funnier). In this guest post he talks about his influences.
I have never seriously thought about my influences. Usually I am asked who my favourite author is or what my favourite zombie movie is, but when Dave asked me to write a guest article about what inspires my writing I began to consider, for the first time, what my real influences are. The answers take me back to my childhood and the horror movies, comedy shows and ultimately the town in which I grew up.
I grew up on a council estate in Runcorn, Cheshire, UK. One of the great things about the area I lived was that once a week a man driving an old Ford Escort would pull up at the top of our road, open the boot and rent out the shittiest collection of pirated movies you had ever seen. But within this mishmash of badly copied 1980s straight to video movies were classic horrors such as Killer Clowns from Outer Space, Munchies (camp Critters rip off), The Evil Dead, The Fly… the list goes on. What was so brilliant was you could rent up to 15 movies a week for £5 and the nice illegal video rental man really didn’t care that a kid who should be at home watching The Never Ending Story was instead renting copies of The Stuff, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Troll, Garbage Pail Kids The Movie (not really for children, adults or anyone for that matter!) and Vamp.
Watching horror from a young age changed me greatly and where other kids on my estate played football and argued over who was going to be Kenny Dalgleish, Ian Rush or Peter Beardsley, I was busy scaring the shit out of family members by hiding behind doors and appearing at windows dressed up as a vampire or a werewolf! This was where my love affair with horror began.
I hope by now you’ve had chance to read ISOLATION, and I hope you enjoyed it. Early reviews certainly have been reassuringly positive. Shadowlocked said “Isolation is a taut piece of character driven writing“, and BookBloke said “it’s a must have for zombie lovers, people who love gore and violence and people who love stories with exceptional characterisation“.
One thing you probably didn’t know, is that the park-keepers bungalow – the location where most of the action in ISOLATION takes place – actually exists. When we were planning the original short movie, I did a little location filming which you can see embedded below. It’s only a minute long, and it was filmed at completely the wrong time of year, but hopefully seeing where Keith and Anna make their last stand will enhance your enjoyment of the book.
This footage was, in fact, taken in a park near my parents’ house in Birmingham where I grew up. Like Keith, as a child I spent many days mucking around in the streams and fields in the park, building dens and hiding from imaginary monsters and aliens and the like. Fortunately for me, unlike Keith, all my monsters were make-believe.
Cast your minds back a few years, and some of you might remember ISOLATION – a short film project I announced along with Will Wright but which, for various reasons, never made it to screen (though I hope it still might). I’m pleased to announce the release of an adaptation of my original screenplay. You can pre-order it now, and it’ll be available to download from tomorrow (20th).
ISOLATION (which also includes four additional zombie short stories – two of which were previously unpublished) is a companion novella to THE COST OF LIVING. There are no connections between the stories, but they’ll appear together in a combined print edition later this year. Here’s the ISOLATION blurb:
Keith’s in his early twenties. No girlfriend, no hobbies, no future. He spends his days working in an office and his evenings, weekends and just about all his free time looking after his alcoholic dad.
And then the zombie apocalypse changes everything.
Suddenly Keith’s free. For the first time in a long time, he’s got nothing to worry about (apart from several hundred thousand reanimated corpses heading his way).
But then he meets Anna, and everything changes again. Cocky, cool, confident… she’s everything Keith isn’t. Holed-up together in an isolated bungalow, besieged by the living dead, will they survive, or will they tear each other apart before the dead can get anywhere near?
Cover art is again by the brilliant David Shires and, as with THE COST OF LIVING, I’m experimenting with Amazon exclusivity for now. If you want the ePub version of the book, simply buy the Kindle edition, then send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll email an ePub version back to you asap.
It’s been several months since I last posted anything in my What Works For Me series of writing tips/ thoughts. There are several very good reasons for that. Most importantly, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to work out what exactly does work for me.
You’ll probably have seen endless debate online over the last few months about the merits of independent versus traditional publishing, and also about the position/ value of indie authors as highlighted by the ongoing Hachette vs. Amazon debacle.
I started out Indie. I was Indie before most. I’m so old school that I genuinely used to email pdf and Word versions of AUTUMN to interested folks back in the day. I did well from it, and if I hadn’t done what I’d done, I’d probably have never written HATER and it might not have found its way onto the desk of the folks who passed it on to Guillermo del Toro all those years ago… When Thomas Dunne Books of New York made an offer for the publishing rights back in 2007, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
So now we’re another seven years or so down the line, and the marketplace has changed beyond all recognition. Indie authors are in a better place now: more accepted, and with better tools and technologies at their disposal.
THE COST OF LIVING proved to be a turning point for me. I’ve been stunned by the success of my little ebook – it’s sold remarkably well and has opened my eyes to the full potential of independent publishing again. With the recent relaunch/ rebranding of INFECTED BOOKS, I feel like I’ve regained the control you inevitably lose when you publish traditionally, and I’m ready to take full advantage of that.
So, to stop a long story getting any longer, I’ll just say this: for now, although I’m technically what you’d call a Hybrid author, I feel 100% Indie again. So what does this mean? Well, for a start you should watch for another surprise release later this week (you can pre-order it now – I’ll tell you more tomorrow), and then look out for STRANGERS – my brand new, full-length novel, coming from Infected Books in November this year.
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