Guest post – Death in a Northern Town author Peter Mckeirnon talks about his influences

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.

death-in-a-northern-townI 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.

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Isolation Locations

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.

ISOLATION is available from AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.ES | AMAZON.IT | AMAZON.CA | AMAZON.COM.AU

Isolation

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:

IsolationKeith’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?

Download ISOLATION for the paltry sum of $2.99/£1.99 from AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.ES | AMAZON.IT | AMAZON.CA | AMAZON.COM.AU

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.

I’m very proud of this one. I hope you enjoy it.

What Works For Me

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.

CostofLivingSo 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.

The Night of the Triffids

NightoftheTriffids.jpgNIGHT OF THE TRIFFIDS is a book I avoided reading for a very long time. As many of you might know, whenever I’m asked to cite my favourite book or the book that’s had the biggest influence on me, I always talk about John Wyndham’s seminal DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, and the idea of a non-Wyndham sequel never appealed to me in the slightest. But then I got to know the author, Simon Clark. I’d heard a lot about Simon when HATER was first released, with people mentioning my book alongside his BLOOD CRAZY (a great read which I must feature here in the near future). Simon and I both had stories appear in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF BODY HORROR and we met at an event to launch the book a few years back. I caught up with him again at a convention a while later, and was able to talk to him about all things triffid-related. It was immediately clear that this was no cash-in: he wrote a sequel because of his love of Wyndham’s original.

First published in 1991 and given a long-overdue re-release this month, the book takes place some twenty-five years after the events of DAY. Here’s the synopsis. Click the link below for my thoughts.

In John Wyndham’s classic bestseller The Day of the Triffids, the world has been overwhelmed by killer plants that have blinded almost the entire population. As the novel ends, Wyndham’s narrator scientist Bill Masen is escaping, with his wife and four-year-old son, to the Isle of Wight where a small colony of survivors is holding out. Simon Clark’s sequel picks up the story twenty-five years on.

The survivors are safe, for the time being at least, on their island, where they have continued efforts to combat the triffids, while also striving in various ways to build a new civilization – in a Mother House, for example, women spend their lives endlessly giving birth. Elsewhere in the world, similar colonies cling to survival, while the triffids persist in their attempts to destroy humanity.

One morning Bill Masen’s son, David, now grown up, wakes to a world plunged into darkness. Now, the triffids have an advantage over even sighted humanity.

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THE SPACES BETWEEN – Competition winners

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to announce this… Without further ado, please join me in congratulating the following people who will be appearing in THE SPACES BETWEEN novels.

Overall winner (who will appear as a major character in all four books as well as receiving an illustration of themselves in a key scene and signed first editions of all the novels): Alexandria Amorim.

Runners up (who’ll appear as a supporting character in one book each and who’ll receive signed first editions of all the novels): Chris Shaver, Shannon O’Clair, Nicky Downes, and Mitchell Witthread.

I received an incredible three and a half thousand entries to the contest, so thanks to everyone who entered. I’ve drawn an additional ten names which I’m keeping to myself at the moment. I have another project in the early planning stages which involves a serial killer and a large number of victims. I’ll be getting in touch with those ten folks at some point in the future to see if they want to play dead in another new book…

Thanks, everyone, for your tremendous support with this contest. Right – back to writing the books!

Gollancz 2014 Festival

GOLLANCZ – publishers of the AUTUMN and HATER books in the UK and elsewhere, are running a multi-media festival on 13 August. As well as live events at Waterstones Piccadilly from 6pm, there will be online events taking place all day via social media. You can find a full schedule for the evening at the Gollancz website here, and you can register to take part in the online events by visiting www.gollancz.co.uk/gollanczfestival2014. I’ll be taking part in a Facebook fantasy panel starting at 10:00am, and I hope a few of you will be able to join us online.

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The Girl in the Basement giveaway

While you’re waiting for my SPACES BETWEEN competition results to be announced next week, why not head over to Infected Books where there’s a GIRL IN THE BASEMENT giveaway running.

Pick out the names and artists of five songs mentioned in chapters seven and eight of the book for a chance to win SCARdiff tickets or signed books from Wayne Simmons. You’ve a week to enter.

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You’ll need to have read THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT first, of course. Pick up a copy for just 99c/77p from AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK

Exclusive competition – one day left to enter

You’ve got just over twenty-four hours left to enter the SPACES BETWEEN competition. Remind yourself of all the details by clicking this link.

Just to recap, if you want a chance of having a character in a forthcoming novel named after you, all you have to do is:

There have been a huge number of entries so far (almost 2,500 amazingly). The competition closes after midnight UK time on 31st July, and the winners’ names will be announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Oh, and I said there would be one main winner (who appears in all four books in THE SPACES BETWEEN series) and four runners up, but it transpires there may be even more of you being immortalised in print in the near future. Watch this space…!

The Girl in the Basement

GirlintheBasementI’ve a surprise Infected Books release to tell you about today – but it’s not something I’ve written. Instead, I’m delighted to welcome Wayne Simmons to the Infected Books fold with his nasty little ebook short: THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT.

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know Wayne and I go way back. You’ll also know that I’ve a number of plans in place to dramatically expand the reach of my Infected empire (books now, films next…), and this is part of those plans. This release came about as a result of endless hours spent travelling between events, discussing publishing as a whole and our own takes on the ongoing (and, frankly, boring as hell) traditional versus independent publishing debate.

I really think you’ll enjoy THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT. It’s a horrible little tale of a girl held against her will by a captor whose sanity is less than certain… You can read more about the story at the Infected Books site here, and the book can be purchased for a paltry 99c/77p via any of these links: Kindle / iBooks / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo. The excellent cover art is by Sion Smith of Skin Deep Magazine fame.

And why today to unleash this little monstrosity on the world? Why, because it’s Wayne’s 40th. Please join me in wishing Mr Simmons a very happy, horror-filled birthday!