Recommended Reading – THE DARKEST HAND trilogy

I recently had the pleasure of reading TARN RICHARDSON’S THE DARKEST HAND trilogy. The final book in the series – THE RISEN – was released earlier this year. This is an excellent series of books which deserves to find a wide audience. Set in Europe in an alternative twentieth century against the backdrop of World War I, it’s the story of Inquisitor Poldek Tacit. Tacit is sent by the Catholic Inquisition to investigate the murder of a priest in France, and finds himself neck deep in a battle between demons, werewolves, and heretics to prevent the world spiralling into oblivion. Don’t get the impression that Tacit is a quiet little fellow in robes wandering around Europe dispensing words of wisdom to placate the opposing sides – he’s anything but. He’s a battle-damaged, emotionally scarred, vicious, ruthless bastard, and one of the most entertaining protagonists I’ve read about in a long, long time.

I had a blast with these books, and I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Here’s the spiel for book one, THE DAMNED:

1914 – the outbreak of war. In the French city of Arras, a priest is brutally murdered. The Catholic Inquisition—still powerful, but now working in the shadows—sends its most determined and unhinged of Inquisitors, Poldek Tacit, to investigate: his mission to protect the Church from those who would seek to undermine it, no matter what the cost.

Yet as Tacit arrives, armed forces led by Britain and Germany confront each other across No Man’s Land. As the Inquisitor strives in vain to establish the truth behind the murder and to uncover the motives of other Vatican servants seeking to undermine him, a beautiful and spirited woman, Sandrine, warns British soldier Henry Frost of a mutual foe even more terrible lurking beneath the killing fields that answers to no human force and wreaks havoc by the light of the moon.

Faced with impossible odds and his own demons, Tacit must battle the forces of evil, and a church determined at all costs to achieve its aims, to reach the heart of a dark conspiracy that seeks to engulf the world, plunging it ever deeper into conflict.

This is the perfect time to pick up THE DAMNED and work your way through the trilogy. The first book is the next novel to be featured on the excellent IN THE SHEETS podcast, hosted by Brendan Cooney. Head over to the site and join the discussion. And while you’re there, there’s still time to take part in the HATER re-read. I’ll be joining Brendan later this month to talk about HATER and answer questions about the novel, the rest of the series and the film adaptation etc.

THE DARKEST HAND trilogy – THE DAMNED, THE FALLEN and THE RISEN – is available now. Find out more about Tarn at his website. You can also pick up THE HUNTED, a free ebook prequel, and dive into Richardson’s bloody and brutal world. Highly recommended!

HATER on IN THE SHEETS podcast

Hater (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)I’m really excited that HATER is the first book to be featured on IN THE SHEETS, a new podcast from Brendan Cooney. Each month, Brendan and his audience will pick two books to read, review, and discuss. The author will introduce the book at the beginning of the month, then take part in an extended podcast towards the end of the month to answer any questions and meet the readers.

Brendan’s been a long-time supporter of my work, and I’m honoured he’s chosen HATER as the first book for this new venture. You can hear Brendan and I talking about the book on episode one.

This isn’t designed to be a passive experience, so please get involved. Join the IN THE SHEETS Goodreads group, subscribe to the podcast, and follow the discussion on Twitter and Facebook. I hope I get the chance to talk to some of you about the book. If you don’t make it this time, make sure you register for updates because I’ll be back in the next couple of months to do the same thing with ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING.

Kirkus Reviews – One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning

First reviews are coming in for the new HATER book, and I’m pleased folks seem to be enjoying it. Here’s the KIRKUS review of the book… They’re saying it’s “another wetwork nightmare that should delight fans of Haters and intrigue writers who wallow in the genre” which sounds good to me!

ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING is released on 5 December by Thomas Dunne Books. Signed copies will be available to pre-order from www.infectedbooks.co.uk in the next few weeks.

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?

Continue reading

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: