Two Halves Make a Whole

I’ve told you a lot about it, but I don’t think I’ve properly explained why I’ve been writing a second HATER trilogy. Is it a cynical cash in? A cheap way to drum up interest in my books again after a quiet couple of years? The answer to both those questions is a very definite ‘no’.

The new trilogy has its roots in some of the many movie-related discussions I’ve had about the books over the years. On numerous occasions, producer Ed Barratt and I have talked about TV adaptations (and we came tantalisingly close to getting that off the ground at the turn of this year but, as is so often the way, our plans unravelled at the last moment). Ed and I discussed the issues we’d face trying to translate HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US to the small screen. Part of the attraction of the books is the fact they focus exclusively on one man’s story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this relatively narrow approach might present problems from a theatrical point of view.

One of the recurring themes of the series is ‘who is the bad guy?’. When the outbreak (or whatever it is) begins in HATER, the natural assumption is that the Haters are the villains. But, for various reasons, we later start to question that assumption, particularly when the extent of the actions taken by the Unchanged to keep themselves safe is revealed. It’s clear that both sides are capable of doing whatever they have to do to survive, and this comes to a head at the end of DOG BLOOD. I’ll be vague in case you’ve not yet read the books (come on, keep up!), but a pretty unspeakable act is carried out by someone. It’s particularly shocking, because that act has huge ramifications for both sides and every surviving individual, Hater and Unchanged alike.

So that got me thinking, are the Unchanged as innocent as I initially thought? Are the Haters as evil and ferocious as they appear? Do the lines ever blur? Are there weaker Haters and stronger Unchanged? How clear is the distinction between the two?

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RIP George Romero

I’ve just heard the terrible news that the Godfather of zombies, George A Romero, has passed away at the age of 77 after a short battle with lung cancer. This is awful, awful news. I’m hard pushed to think of a filmmaker who had such an influence on the horror genre. For me, I can trace my fascination with zombies to a particular dark and storm-filled afternoon when, with my brother and a bunch of friends, we sat down to watch the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on laserdisc (yes, it was that long ago). That movie was revelatory, as was DAWN OF THE DEAD, and then DAY OF THE DEAD. Landmark. Without Mr Romero’s movies, myself and scores of other writers and filmmakers would have had to find something else to do for a living. His films – particularly the original DEAD trilogy and other classics like THE CRAZIES and MARTIN – struck a chord in a way very few movies did. The series which kickstarted my career – AUTUMN – would never have been written had it not been for Romero’s films.

George Romero is survived by his wife and three children. My sincere condolences go out to them at this very sad time.

The Spaces Between

It’s been so long since I posted about this I bet you’d forgotten about it. Or I bet you thought I’d forgotten about it. I first announced THE SPACES BETWEEN back in 2014 – it’s a long, multi-volume horror/ science-fiction series which is, for wont of a better description, like CHILDREN OF MEN meets BREAKING BAD (with a healthy dash of BLADE RUNNER to boot). It’s going to be good. Damn good. I’ve been keeping you waiting for years and… and I’m unfortunately going to be keeping you waiting a while longer yet. The first books are still more than a year away.

Those of you who’ve been following my work for a while will know that the last few years have not gone to plan. Various personal and family issues have repeatedly derailed my writing, and my family and I are right in the middle of another wave right now which is substantially affecting my ability to write. By the end of this year, however, we should be back to business as usual.

But it’s not all doom and gloom around here… a substantial amount of work is still getting done (just not as much as I’d like). THE OTHER HALF (HATER #5) is coming along nicely and will be delivered to my editor shortly. After that I’ll be writing AXXXXX: XXXXXX – a top secret novel I haven’t told anyone about – which should take me through to the end of 2017. In the new year I’ll be diving straight into THE LAST SUMMER (HATER #6), and then I’ll be cracking on with THE SPACES BETWEEN.

At this point I should add that all those folks who won the competition I ran back in 2014 to appear as named characters in the books will all still appear as planned. Apologies, folks, for the unavoidable delay.

Even though I’ve hardly written a word of the series, I’ve been doing plenty of planning. Part of the issue I’ve had is that it’s a HUGE story, and the overall length has fluctuated wildly during the planning process. There’s a lot of world-building to be done, but I’ve taken the decision to separate a lot of that out from the main narrative. So what began as a five book series has now ballooned to nine books which will, in effect, be two separate series which will conclude with a single final novel. The extra books will be THE SHADOWS BETWEEN – the future histories of key events which will define the world of THE SPACES BETWEEN. My plan is that the books will be released in pairs – one from each thread of the story at a time.

You’ve got to trust me on this – it’s all going to be worth the wait. I’m just sorry it’s taking such a long time!

Deadly Eleven

I do love a good multi-author box set, and this is definitely a good one! Everyone’s a winner with these sets – the authors involved benefit from sharing the marketing and publicity and exposure to each other’s readers, and the readers benefit from being able to get hold of a load of top-notch books at a ridiculously low price. I’ll say no more on this one, I’ll just leave you to peruse the cover and the kick-ass contents.

Zombie Fallout – Mark Tufo
Strain of Resistance – Michelle Bryan
Strangers – David Moody
World-Mart – Leigh M. Lane
A New World: Chaos – John O’Brien
Trudge: Surviving The Apocalypse – Shawn Chesser
Black Virus- Bobby Adair
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – W.J. Lundy
The Death of Kaylis – Jaime Johnesee
The Biomass Revolution – Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Return of The Phoenix – Heath Stallcup

The box set is available from all the usual outlets at a ridiculously low price:

Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Normal service will be resumed shortly

Normal service will be resumed shortly

It’s been a while – far longer than I’d intended actually. It’s over two months since I last posted here, and that’s a record I’m not particularly proud of. New words, old words, edits, deadlines, other jobs, family matters and many other things have combined to keep me off-line for an uncomfortably long period of time. I’m back now – for the time being at least – and have a number of things to tell you about over the coming weeks.

First and foremost, if you’ve pre-ordered the book, you probably know by now that we’ve pushed back the publication of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING until 5 December. The copyedits were finished and returned to my editor last Friday, and I can’t wait for you to read the novel. It’s a very different perspective on the world of HATER which opens a whole host of new possibilities I’m currently exploring as I write THE OTHER HALF – book #5 – and prepare the (absolutely) final book in the series, THE LAST SUMMER. I’ve had a blast returning to HATER, particularly with THE OTHER HALF which is a parallel sequel to DOG BLOOD. There’s so much going on in DOG BLOOD that I didn’t realise until now…

I’ll be able to tell you more about the books over the next few months, along with news about new audiobook releases, ebooks, short stories, foreign language editions, film and book recommendations, interviews, events and – hopefully – a brand new serialised novel for the summer. Watch this space.

Until then, you can find out more about ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING here. Shelve it on GOODREADS here.

Read an ebook week – free and discounted ebooks available

It’s the 9th annual READ AN EBOOK WEEK. It’s an event I’ve posted about numerous times before and I’m pleased to continue to support the initiative. I’ve been an advocate of ebooks right from the beginning – those pre-Kindle days where I’d email Word, pdf, Mobipocket or lit (remember Microsoft Reader?) copies of AUTUMN to anyone who showed interest. It worked a treat, with more than half a million free copies of AUTUMN being downloaded between 2001 and 2008 when the series was acquired by Thomas Dunne Books.

Ebooks haven’t proved to be the print killer that everyone initially feared. To me, they’re something that compliments but doesn’t replace the physical version. I travel a lot at the moment, and my trusty Kindle has been a godsend on many recent plane and train trips.

So please join me in celebrating the humble ebook by sharing this post and other READ AN EBOOK WEEK articles. To mark the occasion, I’ve got a number of titles on special offer:

Free ebooks

I was sorry to hear that SHELFIE closed down last week. You might remember me posting about the service a couple of years ago, back when the company was known as BitLit. The premise, I thought, was brilliant: you took a photo of your bookshelf with your phone and the Shelfie app scanned the spines and gave you links to download free or discounted ebook copies of the titles you already owned. I immediately made all Infected Books titles available via the service, because it seemed to fit perfectly with my ethos that a reader should only ever have to buy the same book once, and if you buy a paperback, the ebook version should come bundled (because you can rip a CD and get mp3s for your phone, but you can’t buy a paperback and rip the text for your Kindle, can you?).

I thought now would be an ideal time to restate the Infected Books ebook philosophy:

  • if you buy a ebook version of an Infected Books title, I’ll give you a discount equivalent to the price you paid on a signed physical copy purchased from www.infectedbooks.co.uk
  • if you buy a print version of an Infected Books title, you can get a free download of the ebook version:
    • If you purchase from Amazon, all IB titles are available under the terms of their Matchbook programme
    • If you purchase from IB, you’ll automatically receive a download link to get your ebook
    • If you purchase from elsewhere, you just need to complete a simple form on www.infectedbooks.co.uk to receive a download code to get a complementary ebook version

Thanks for your ongoing support of Infected Books and independent publishing as a whole. It’s the future! (and on the subject of the future, it’s worth pointing out that my next release, THE FRONT: RED DEVILS will also be a part of the IB print/ebook deal).

Sir John Hurt (1940 – 2017)

I was saddened to hear today about the death of Sir John Hurt. I don’t usually write about individual actors on this site, but his impact was such that I couldn’t let his passing go unnoticed. He was one of those rare actors who, to me, seemed both recognisable and unrecognisable at the exact same time. His face (and voice) was immediately familiar and yet he completely inhabited the roles he played to such an extent that any familiarity quickly disappeared. When I see Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp on screen (something I try my best to avoid doing), I know I’m watching Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp, albeit in a different setting and with a different haircut. With John Hurt, however, I was only ever watching the character he was portraying. Does that make sense?

There are three particular roles he played I wanted to mention. When I was nine and was rapidly discovering my love for all things horror, ALIEN was released. I’m assuming anyone reading this will know that his character, Kane, has one of the most famous death scenes in movie history. Of course, as a bloodthirsty kid, all I was initially interested in was the chest-burst and the gore. It was only when I later learned more about how the scene was filmed – how he knew what was going to happen but the rest of the cast didn’t – and when I watched the film again (and again and again) did I realise how smart and clever Sir John’s performance was.

A couple of years later he starred as the titular ELEPHANT MAN in David Lynch’s adaptation of the life of the hideously deformed John Merrick. I rewatched the film recently and was again spellbound by his performance. Despite being unrecognisable and with limited movement under Christopher Tucker’s ground-breaking makeup, he succeeded in playing Merrick in such a way that the character’s pain and suffering was abundantly clear.

But my favourite John Hurt performance is as Winston Smith in Michael Radford’s film adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. I’ve already written about the film here so I won’t go into much more detail, other than to say that the physical and mental transformation of Smith is remarkable. It’s a superb adaptation of a book which in these days of ‘alternate facts’ and the like, continues to feel increasingly relevant.

So goodbye Sir John, and thanks for the many magnificent performances. I’ve barely scratched the surface: V FOR VENDETTA, HELLBOY, HARRY POTTER, DOCTOR WHO, SNOWPIERCER… I could go on and on. Instead, I thought I’d post this compilation clip instead:

Is this our LAST CHRISTMAS?

Very pleased to be able to announce the release today of LAST CHRISTMAS – the final book in Infected Books’ YEAR OF THE ZOMBIE series, and the first time WAYNE SIMMONS and I have collaborated on a story. It’s silly. It’s bloody. It’s Christmassy. It’s a whole lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it.

The Office Christmas Party can a nightmare at the best of times but when it coincides with the end of the world, things get even messier.

For mild-mannered security guard Howard Stanton, this was meant to be an easy shift. A chance to keep his head down and watch Die Hard movies while the rest of the staff get wasted. But then the zombie apocalypse happened and peopled expected him to do something about it. Was that even in his job description?

It’s going to be a long drink- and drug-fuelled night. The world’s going to hell and it’s down to Howard to hold it all together. He’s in charge tonight, and if he screws up, it’ll be everyone’s last Christmas.

It’s been a quiet couple of years, but things will be cranking up a gear or two (or ten) in 2017. THE FRONT: RED DEVILS will be out in February, ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING (HATER #4) will be out in August, and there will be other surprises along the way. Oh, and important paperwork has just been signed for the screen adaptation of HATER. More news coming soon…

Pick up LAST CHRISTMAS now from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.de. I hope you have as much fun reading it as we did writing it. And if I don’t get to post here again before Christmas, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, I hope you and your families and friends have an excellent time.