This week is READ AN EBOOK WEEK – a long-standing initiative that I’ve been pleased to support for a number of years. The debate over the merits of print books versus ebooks versus audiobooks will never be settled – I believe each format has its plusses and minuses, and what suits one reader (or listener) might not suit the next. I just try and make my books available in as many formats as I can, and I also try not to exploit my readers by asking them to buy the same book many times over. Never forget – if you buy a signed copy of a title published by Infected Books from www.infectedbooks.co.uk, you’ll immediately be able to download a complementary ebook version. Similarly, buy a print Infected Books title from Amazon, and you can claim a Kindle copy through the Kindle Matchbook programme.
My career was built on a foundation of ebooks. If I hadn’t been able to give so many copies of AUTUMN away (somewhere in the region of half a million by the time the free download disappeared in 2008), then I doubt anyone would have ever heard of me. So please, download and read an ebook this week. And when you’re done, please review and share. Recommendations are invaluable for authors and are always appreciated.
The first screen adaptation of John Wyndham’s DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS was released in 1963, was also known as INVASION OF THE TRIFFIDS, and was directed by Steve Sekely, a Hungarian-born director with very little else of note on his long filmography. Interestingly, Sekely was supported on TRIFFIDS by an uncredited Freddie Francis (more about this later). Francis, you might remember, was the director of a number of Hammer and Amicus horror films before going on to become an Oscar-winning cinematographer who worked on many films including CAPE FEAR, GLORY and THE ELEPHANT MAN.
Interestingly, the reviews of this adaptation of TRIFFIDS are split, with many people finding a lot to enjoy in here. As a huge admirer of the novel, I was disappointed. The film suffers greatly because of its age. Have a look at the trailer, click the link, and I’ll explain why.
All my recent talk of book launches and anniversaries has left me thinking about what I’ve achieved as a writer and what I still want to achieve. If I think of my career in terms of how a farmer manages their fields, then I’d say I’m currently in a fallow period after a couple of pretty decent harvests. I caught the crest of two waves originally when I a) started publishing independently before most others, and b) wrote about zombies just as the living dead became massively popular. And then, a few years later, I enjoyed another prolonged purple patch when Guillermo del Toro somehow stumbled on a copy of HATER and, for a time, everyone wanted a bit of me.
For those of us who just happen to love writing and who hate self-publicising with a passion, being an author is not the easiest of career choices. You keep doing it because you can’t stop, and with every page you write you convince yourself that this could be the next big thing, even though you know that competition to actually be the next big thing is impossibly fierce. And then when you’ve finished writing and you hand your work to someone else to read, all the confidence you’ve built up evaporates and turns to crippling self-doubt. Well it does for me, anyway.
A frustrating amount of this is completely out of the writer’s control. You don’t control the market, you have no influence on current trends, you can do little to make sure yours is the right book seen in the right place at the right time… and yet, we keep at it. Sometimes even the very thing you’re trying to write can conspire against you.
Time and time again, when I’ve been asked in interviews to name my favourite book, I always plump for John Wyndham’s 1951 classic, THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. As I started typing this piece, I’d literally just put the novel down after reading it for the first time in ten years or so, and it seemed that now would be an ideal time to write about it in more detail and explain why it’s been such an influence on me and my work. Similar to what I did with Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND a couple of years back, I also plan to re-watch and write about each of the film/TV adaptations of the story. I’ve always found this a really interesting thing to do – each adaptation has pluses and minuses (some many more minuses than pluses) and by analysing them it helps me appreciate the strengths of the source material even more.
So, what’s it about? I’m sure you know by now, but here’s a brief synopsis. A new breed of plant is discovered – the Triffid. It has some remarkable qualities. Not only are Triffids a rich source of a natural oil, they’re also incredibly dangerous: they’re mobile and are able to drag themselves around, they possess poisonous, whip-like stings which they deploy with deadly accuracy, allowing them to kill and feed off the remains. And they can communicate with each other. Great herds of them roam the countryside together, given half a chance.
Typically, the potential for profit outweighs risk, and soon huge numbers of Triffids are being farmed commercially. Bill Masen is a Triffid farmer. When the book begins he’s in hospital, recovering from a sting which has almost rendered him blind. His eyes are covered, which is particularly frustrating because the Earth is scheduled to pass through a cloud of comet debris, and the skies around the world will be lit up in a display of unparalleled magnificence.
Next morning, everyone who watched the comet display discovers they’ve been blinded, and the world descends into utter chaos.
It’s the synchronicity of this story that gets me every time. Two events – the arrival of the Triffids and the comet debris – are apparently unconnected (though there’s some question as to whether that actually is the case), but their combined impact is devastating. By stripping the vast majority of the human population of their sight, Wyndham skews the odds in favour of the Triffids.
I’ve been running polls on Facebook and Twitter recently to ask this most basic of questions that I’ve never asked before, but because it’s increasingly difficult to keep something visible on social media without paying through the nose, I’ve decided to ask the same question again here. I’ll keep this poll open for at least a week, then I’ll report back with the final summarised results.
The magnificent Gerard Doyle has narrated the audiobook adaptation of ALL ROADS END HERE, and it’s out now from Macmillan Audio. You can get it from Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Here’s a sample:
I’m getting a lot of queries from folks at the moment about audio versions of the first three HATER books. They are available, but only in the US at present. I’m currently asking questions to see if anything can be done to make them available elsewhere. Please bare with me.
Hard to believe that HATER IS TEN YEARS OLD TODAY! The book was actually published back in 2006 through Infected Books, but after Guillermo del Toro became involved and I signed with Thomas Dunne Books, the Infected Books edition disappeared from the shelves. HATER was a bigger success than I could have ever expected, and the Hate shows no sign of slowing down. The reaction to ALL ROADS END HERE (published last week) has been great, and we’re still working on the movie. I’ll have news about the release of CHOKEHOLD, the absolute final book in the series, in the next couple of weeks.
I hope you’re enjoying ALL ROADS END HERE. It seems February’s often a busy month for me in terms of book releases. I noticed just now that it’s five years ago today since the publication of the re-written version of my debut novel STRAIGHT TO YOU. The release was always planned for Valentine’s Day, as the book is very much an apocalyptic romance (a combination of genres which works surprisingly well). I thought it was worth mentioning the book’s birthday for a couple of reasons – first, because an audio version and a re-launch of the German language edition are imminent. Second, because I started writing the 2014 version on 1 January that year – twenty years to the day since I began work on the original. That means, terrifyingly, that I have now been writing for twenty-five years, and no matter how long I look at the dates and do the maths, that just doesn’t seem possible.
I hope everyone has a far less eventful Valentine’s Day than Steven and Samantha Johnson…
“Straight To You deserves to be ranked alongside such classics as The Stand and Swan Song.” –Ginger Nuts of Horror
“A truly breath-taking and awe-inspiring read from an undeniable master of this sub-genre.” –DLS Reviews
The sun is dying. The temperature around the world is rising by the hour with no sign of any respite. At this rate the planet will soon become uninhabitable; all life extinguished. It might be weeks away, it might be days… we may only have hours remaining. Society is crumbling. The burning world is descending into chaos.
Steven Johnson’s wife is hundreds of miles away and all that matters is reaching her before the end. He has to act now, no time to stop and think. Every second is precious. Tomorrow is too late.
I’ve been writing about the living dead for over twenty years and have been watching zombie movies for even longer. There’s been such a plethora of stories over the last decade in particular that it seems harder than ever to come up with an original premise and yet, people keep doing so. Perhaps that’s because zombies are so very adaptable: wherever there are people there exists the potential for the reanimated dead!
After hearing the title talked about quite a bit last year, I was interested to recently catch up with THE CURED, a 2017 post-post-apocalyptic zombie movie set in Ireland. I’m pleased to report that the film a). is very good and b). has a reasonably original approach.
A disease that turns people into zombies has been cured. The once-infected zombies are discriminated against by society and their own families, which causes social issues to arise. This leads to militant government interference.