THE KEEP

I’m not a historian or a military buff, so I had very few obvious reference points when I started writing THE FRONT: RED DEVILS (which was released this week, in case I hadn’t mentioned). Much of the second half of the book is set in the fictional surrounds of a concentration camp at Polonezköy, Poland. I had a very clear image in my head of how parts of the camp would look, and that got me thinking about a long-forgotten horror movie I’d always planned to watch but hadn’t been able to locate. That movie was MICHAEL MANN’S THE KEEP. Whilst not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, I certainly enjoyed it enough to recommend it to you here.

It is World War II in German-occupied Romania. Nazi soldiers have been sent to garrison a mysterious fortress, but a nightmarish discovery is soon made. The Keep was not built to keep anything out. The massive structure was, in fact, built to keep something in…

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The Front: Red Devils – signed paperbacks

My World War II zombie novel, THE FRONT: RED DEVILS, is officially out next week in both paperback and ebook editions. As requested, signed copies are available to order from www.infectedbooks.co.uk today.

The signed paperbacks cost £9.00 and will be shipping late next week. If you read my last post you’ll know about my ebook philosophy. In keeping with that post, you’ll be pleased to hear that if you order the book you can immediately download your complimentary ebook version and start reading straightaway.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s free shipping for UK readers (I’m sorry… economics prevents me from extending that offer worldwide).

So, if you fancy a spot of military heroics and adventure which just happens to have a supporting cast of thousands of undead Nazis, THE FRONT: RED DEVILS should be right up your street! I hope you have as much fun reading as I did writing it.

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).

New releases

A couple of new releases to tell you about…

MATT SHAW’s THE DEVIL’S GUESTS is out now. Matt’s put together a really ambitious book, and it’s a project I was pleased to be a part of. I had far too much fun creating a particularly obnoxious character for Matt to ‘dispose of’ later in the book. Here’s the cover blurb:

From outside the hotel looks like any other in the city. Inside though, a maze of ever-changing corridors, rooms filled with death, traps and – behind the reception desk with a welcoming smile, a sadistic owner who can not wait to help his guests check-out permanently.

From the twisted imagination of Matt Shaw, and partly based on the serial killer H. H. Holmes, comes a new extreme horror and a new way of telling the story. While Shaw writes the part of Henry, the sadistic serial killer, he has invited some leading horror authors to write their own characters – introducing them to the hotel before Shaw finishes the story off. This is not an anthology. This is one story with guest authors Jeff Strand, Wrath James White, Kealan Patrick Burke, Shane Mckenzie, Sam West, Wade H. Garrett, Ryan Harding, Armand Rosamilia, David Moody, Gary McMahon, Jasper Bark and Mark Tufo.

Click here for more information and to pick up a copy of the book.

Also out now is the paperback edition of GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND, an excellent anthology edited by Steve J Shaw which includes my story OSTRICH.

Green and Pleasant Land is the first in an annual series showcasing the best in modern British horror. Every year, Great British Horror will feature ten British authors, plus one international guest contributor, telling tales of this sceptered isle. The 2016 edition features eleven original stories of small town, rural and folk horror from V H Leslie, Rich Hawkins, Laura Mauro, Ray Cluley, David Moody, Barbie Wilde, James Everington, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Adam Millard, A K Benedict and Jasper Bark.

Click here to order.

And don’t forget, my World War II zombie novel – THE FRONT: RED DEVILS – is out in a couple of weeks time!

Birmingham Horror Con – this Saturday

Hope to see you at the BIRMINGHAM HORROR CONVENTION at Edgbaston Stadium this Saturday. I’ll be there along with a host of horror luminaries, including stars of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13th and HALLOWEEN movies, and some excellent author chums like ADAM NEVILL, MATT SHAW, PETER MCKEIRNON, ADAM MILLARD and many others. It promises to be an absolute cracker of an event. Tickets are still available – click here for more information.

 

The Front: Red Devils – out 15 February

My new book, THE FRONT: RED DEVILS will be released on 15 February. Ebook links are now live (Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de and others) and links to purchase both signed and standard paperbacks will be ready shortly.

The book’s a sequel to TIMOTHY W. LONG‘s book, SCREAMING EAGLES, and though it’s not necessary to have read Tim’s first book, I recommend you do (because it’s brilliant). Here’s the synopsis for RED DEVILS:

THE UNDEAD NAZI ARMY CONTINUES ITS MARCH ACROSS EUROPE IN THE THRILLING SEQUEL TO SCREAMING EAGLES!

The German stranglehold on the town of Bastogne has been released, only for the living dead to rise up and take their place. A ragtag group of men fight their way out of the chaos and make a frantic escape from the rubble and ruin. One of them, British soldier Lieutenant Robert Wilkins, uncovers crucial information about the source of the zombie scourge. Along with a crack team, Wilkins is dispatched to where the outbreak began – the ominously silent concentration camp at Polonezköy, Poland – to try and find a way to halt the undead advance.

The fate of the entire world rests on the shoulders of just a handful of men.

Pre-order now for $2.99 from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca and Amazon.de.

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:

Recommended Reading – Stiff

I’ve only ever seen two dead bodies – those of my father-in-law and my father. Regardless of the emotional attachment, it’s always a sobering experience. I’m not a religious man (in fact, I’m as far from religious as you can get – anti-religion, if you like), so I don’t believe any part of a person survives past the point of death. My belief is that once you die, you’re done. You immediately stop being you and become, well… nothing.

But what about your shell? What about the husk you leave behind? What happens to that?

It’s a sensitive and often taboo subject, but it’s one journalist and writer Mary Roach tackles head on in 2003 book, STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS. Written in a hilarious style which feels at once both keenly respectful and also cheeky and impertinent, Roach looks at a large number of ways the human body is used after death. Let me give you some examples of the subjects of her chapters:

  • human crash test dummies
  • studying the process of decay
  • what the bodies of the victims can tell inspectors after a crash
  • the scientific search for the soul
  • human head transplants…

…and it goes on. It sounds grotesque, I know, and Roach often writes with an unflinching eye, but she achieves something remarkable with this book: in talking about death and decay, she somehow leaves you feeling happier about life and your inevitable end. I originally picked this book up for research purposes (you think I make this stuff up? I’ll have you know the decay of my zombies is medically researched!), but by the end of a couple of chapters I was just along for the ride.

My dad died just under a year ago, and I was with him at the end. I’d had STIFF part-read on my shelf for a number of years, but losing Dad gave me a surprising incentive to pick the book up again and finish it. And I’m glad I did. It helped put things in perspective. Highly recommended.

The Girl with All the Gifts

On 26 January THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS hits US cinema screens. Here in the UK we were lucky enough to get to see the film in September last year. My advice to those of you in the States? Go see this movie as soon as you’re able. Based on the acclaimed novel by M R Carey, it’s a superb zombie tale with an excellent cast, which echoes the works of George Romero and John Wyndham in equal measure. Below you’ll find a synopsis, the trailer, and a link to click to read my thoughts.

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

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