Honest post time… I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so nervous for the release of a new book before. ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING hits the shelves in less than a week and I really don’t know what the reaction’s going to be like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with how the book’s turned out, but there’s a lot riding on this. It’s my first major release for a while, and after a few tricky years where writing and I didn’t get on too well, I’m back and I’m nervous to learn if/where I now fit in the modern horror landscape.
ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING is a very different book to HATER, and I worry that people will pick up the new novel expecting more of the same. If you do, you might be disappointed. The original three books exclusively told Danny McCoyne’s story while the new trilogy has a different focus entirely, much wider. I’m also mindful that this is the beginning of a trilogy, and whilst I already know how it’s all going to fit together and who’s going to survive, and where we’ll be jumping in and out of the events of the earlier books, you lot don’t. Perhaps it’s just the self-imposed pressure of following up my most successful novel that’s making me feel so uneasy?
I should shut up and stop writing this post. It’s probably just writer’s paranoia kicking in again. I’m sure any of you who write will have experienced something similar. When you’re planning a book, before you make even a single mark on the very first page, you’re certain it’s going to be the best thing ever. You then go through every kind of emotional up and down imaginable as you’re actually writing the damn thing, and you often end the job with a very real, but also temporary, sense of victory and validation. As you prepare to release your precious creation into the wild, doubt sets in again. You start convincing yourself (well I do, anyway) that no one’s going to buy it and read it, and the merest negative comment in a review hurts like a dagger to the heart whereas glowing praise is hard to accept and believe.
So I just want to say thank you to Peter Wolverton and all at St Martin’s Press for taking a chance on another HATER series, and thanks also to those of you who are planning on picking up the book (or have already). Despite everything I’ve said here, I genuinely can’t wait to be able to talk about ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING with you once you’ve read it. Until then, I’ll be sitting in front of my computer screen obsessing over sales ranks and combing the internet for feedback and reviews. I will actually do some work as well, because I’m almost finished with book two, and it’s been an absolute blast diving back into the deadly, grimy, trouble- and violence-filled world of the DOG BLOOD era. Did I tell you that the second book has been renamed? The new title perfectly sums up both the setting and the emotion of the book: ALL ROADS END HERE.
Bad news – following a couple of orders received this afternoon, we’re now out of stock of the new book. Here’s a photo of the current state of the shelves I showed you in my last post. Note the (almost) total absence of ONE OF US…
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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!