David Moody has an unhealthy fascination with the end of the world. ‘People tend to just float along on the day-to-day and assume everything’s always going to stay the same,’ he says, ‘but that’s not the case. Sooner or later something’s going to happen to screw everything up. Whether it’s a plague epidemic, an asteroid hitting the planet, climate change or the meltdown of the global economy, something’s going to get us eventually!’
Moody grew up on a diet of horror movies and post-apocalyptic fiction. After reading Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, and watching the original Night of the Living Dead in the middle of the night during an epic thunderstorm, he was hooked. ‘It was the power of those stories which really got to me, the way that events outside the control of any authority might one day impact on absolutely everyone.’
After leaving school and ending up working in a high street bank (enough to make anyone contemplate Armageddon on a regular basis), Moody decided he wanted to make the kind of films he spent so much time watching. Unfortunately, with no relevant training or expertise, it was never going to be easy. So he looked for an alternative route and found one. ‘I’d always enjoyed writing, and I knew I could string words together and make them entertaining, so putting the stories I’d wanted to film into novel form was a logical solution.’
Within six months he’d written Straight to You which was published by a small UK publisher. Sales figures were microscopic, but Moody immediately started work on several other books.
The unexpected sudden arrival of a family and all the associated trappings (no time, no money, large mortgage etc.) kept Moody away from writing for a while. By the time his next book Autumn was finished, the Internet had begun to change the way information and media was being shared and he saw an opportunity. ‘I figured I had two choices,’ he explains. ‘I could either try and sell the novel to a publisher and hope for more success than last time, or I could resign myself to the fact I probably wasn’t going to sell thousands of books and make loads of money and do something different. I decided to give the book away and used it to build up a readership.’
Autumn became an on-line phenomenon, racking up more than half a million downloads and spawning a series of sequels. In 2005 Moody formed ‘Infected Books’ – his own publishing house through which he independently published his books as paperbacks and ebooks. ‘I used to hate the term “self-published”… it conjures up images of awful books which really shouldn’t be published. The reality is that lots of authors who could get their books ‘traditionally’ released, choose to retain control and publish their books themselves. The availability of Print on Demand technology and the increasing popularity of ebooks makes it possible for any writer to get their work onto the shelves of bookstores and online retailers on their own.’
Moody sold tens of thousands of his ‘Infected Books’ and went on to publish a novel called Hater in July 2006. Within three months of its release he’d had contact with a major US production company who were interested in acquiring the film rights. A deal was done and the movie is currently in production with Guillermo del Toro (Director of Hellboy I and II, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hobbit) and Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad, The Chronicles of Narnia films) producing. Glen Mazzarra (The Walking Dead) wrote the initial draft of the movie script.
Within months of the Hater deal, the film rights to the first Autumn novel were sold to Renegade Motion Pictures in Canada. Their film, starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine, is available on DVD around the world.
‘I’ve created a monster,’ Moody said in an open letter to his readers in late 2007. And he had. The success of Infected Books was beginning to cause problems: the running of the business was taking up an ever increasing amount of time. ‘It meant that I didn’t have enough time to write, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that for a writer, that’s not good!’
In November 2007, Moody sold Hater and its two planned sequels to Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St Martin’s Press in the US. Subsidiary rights were subsequently sold to the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Russia and many other countries. In the summer of 2008, Thomas Dunne Books acquired the Autumn series and Moody mothballed Infected Books.
‘I’d been leading a bizarre double-life for years,’ he says. ‘I’ve literally had Hollywood producers on the phone while I’ve been standing in the living room trying to get the kids to bed and stop the dog barking! Now I’m able to write full time and I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to get my books out to a vastly increased audience with the powerful and professional support of some of the most important publishers and filmmakers working in the fields of horror, fantasy and science-fiction today.’
In July 2012, with his immediate contractual obligations complete, Moody returned to his independent roots, publishing a new edition of an earlier novel – Trust – through Infected Books. ‘I’ve been fortunate to have been published traditionally in a number of different countries, and I’ve sold more books than I ever dared dream. But I still get asked constantly about my self-publishing days, and I’ve often found myself wondering what would happen if I did it again today. The marketplace has changed so dramatically over the years and has grown so much… I thought it was time for an experiment!’
Moody is currently working on a number of book and film projects, for both mainstream and independent release.