I get very jittery when I don’t post here for a while (I worry you’ll forget about me!) so this is me coming up for air to say a brief hello. Lots going on in the background as usual, all of which I’ll tell you about in due course. I’m neck-deep in a new novel at the moment, which is proving to be a real challenge as it’s like nothing I’ve written before.
Last week I re-read CHOKEHOLD to complete the final edits, and I really enjoyed it. I hope you will too (it’s released on 19 November). I think it ties the first and second HATER trilogies together nicely, and it does so in a way I don’t think you’ll be expecting.
The picture above is included as evidence that words are still being written and progress continues to be made. I’ve got a backlog of news about foreign language editions, audiobooks, new projects, film and book recommendations, and re-releases of old novels by friends which I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon.
I’ve got my head down working on a new novel at the moment, so things are relatively quiet around here. I thought I’d share a free story with you to keep your attention!
I released THE LAST BIG THING in January – a collection of some of my favourite of the short stories I’ve written. The collection includes a number of new stories, one of which is AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES. You can read it here.
Prior to re-watching the most recent (2009) BBC adaptation of DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, I’d only seen it once before. I had to psych myself up to watch it again, because my overriding memory of the 3 hours miniseries was crushing disappointment. This was the first time TRIFFIDS had been adapted for the screen with a decent budget, and yet I found it to be massively off the mark. A wasted opportunity.
Many of the novel’s story beats are there, and the Triffids themselves are very well realised, but I remember being hugely frustrated by a number of aspects of the production, to the point where I’d promised myself I wouldn’t watch it again. But then this series of posts came around, and I gritted my teeth and pressed play. My expectations were clearly better managed second time around, because I found more to enjoy on repeat viewing, but there’s no question this is certainly NOT the definitive version I’d hoped for.
There’s no trailer available as such, so here’s a BBC preview from when the series was shown over Christmas 2009 (hence the seasonal graphics at the end):
The JoBlo movie network website always has stacks of great content. One of the sections I enjoy most is the snappily titled “The Best Movie You Never Saw”, and this week it featured one of my favourite films. A quick glance at my RECOMMENDATIONS page revealed that I’d never written about it for this site, so I thought I should put that right post haste! This weekend’s film recommendation is Joel Schumacher’s startling 1993 movie, FALLING DOWN.
Freeways are clogged. Terror stalks our cities. At shops and restaurants, the customer is seldom right. Pressures of big-city life can anger anyone. But Bill Foster is more than angry. He’s about to get even.
Foster abandons his gridlocked car on the hottest day of the year and walks straight into an urban nightmare both absurdly funny and shatteringly violent. Michael Douglas is Foster, an ordinary guy at war with the frustrations of daily life. Robert Duvall is the savvy cop obsessed with stopping Foster’s citywide rampage.
Last year two of the German language publishers I’d been working with for some years closed down unexpectedly. It was a real disappointment, not least because I’ve always enjoyed a lot of success in Germany. But every cloud has a silver lining, and the experience forced me to think differently about how I want foreign language editions of Infected Books titles to be published in future. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I always try to have a foot in both publishing camps – traditional and independent. The wide exposure of mass market publishing is vital, but I also love the level of control that independent publishing offers. As demonstrated by what happened in Germany, having other publishers involved can have risks.
So I’ve decided to take a new approach. Foreign language editions of Infected Books titles will now, wherever possible, by published directly through Infected Books. Rather than pay translators a fixed fee, I’m instead tipping the usual relationship on its head and paying them a royalty.
For me this is a logical progression in independent publishing and I’m excited by the prospects. Are there any of my novels you’d like to see available in your language? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
I need to get something off my chest. Right, here goes… I once took literary inspiration from E L James, author of the unfeasibly popular Fifty Shades series. I don’t mean to offend fans of Fifty Shades with that comment, but you have to admit, those books are unfeasibly popular. Something like 150 million copies sold? That’s incredible.
So, on one hand, it’s hats off to Ms James, because she’s found a formula people clearly like and she’s sticking to it. You could argue that I’ve done exactly the same (though I do at least try to experiment – the book I’m currently writing is nothing like anything I’ve released previously). On the other hand, though, from what I understand of the books in the second Fifty Shades series, they’re pretty much a scene for scene rehashes of the first, just with the internal thoughts of an impressionable young student replaced with those of a complete fucking pervert.
And I’m claiming I was inspired by this series? Let me explain…
I’ve said before that the second HATER trilogy came as a result of discussions I’d had with Ed Barratt, producer of the upcoming HATER movie, about a potential TV adaptation. The original books were told exclusively from Danny McCoyne’s perspective, and whilst that worked well on paper, it would have been hard going on screen. A TV series would need to dive deeper and fill in the blanks, following different characters and situations to ramp up the drama and keep the viewers’ interest. And for a while I was struggling to work out how I would do that.
Families can be funny things. It’s no surprise when you think about it: we chose our friends and our lovers, but not our parents or our siblings. Why should we be expected to get on with them when all we share is genetics and a house? Don’t read anything into this intro, by the way, I’m not about to give you the potted history of the family Moody. I’m actually just going to recommend a cracking little film to you: AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
A family’s tense reunion turns terrifying when they get trapped in their home by an unknown force, and sinister commands begin appearing on their TV.
My mission to get audiobook versions of all my novels published is a little closer to completion as STRAIGHT TO YOU has just been released. It’s superbly narrated by Matthew Jackson, and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. You can listen to a sample here, or grab a copy from Audible, Amazon or iTunes.
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.
“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
This week my DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS retrospective reaches peak point. If you’ve read my earlier posts you’ll know that a). TRIFFIDS is my favourite book and it’s had an enormous influence on my writing and b). I’m currently working my way through the various film and TV adaptations. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d love to write the screenplay for a Triffids movie/miniseries, so I’ve been looking at the pluses and minuses of each version to try and understand why they’ve succeeded or failed. Today we get to the 1981 BBC TV version which is, without question, the most faithful adaptation of John Wyndham’s story yet produced.
Back in the day, when there were only three UK TV channels and we were on the cusp of the home video revolution, this adaptation of TRIFFIDS occupied the primetime. It faired pretty well, with decent viewing figures, favourable reviews and plenty of media coverage. Following the release of the novel in 1951, the name Triffid came to be used to describe any over-sized or vaguely menacing-looking plant, and the beautiful design of the 1981 creature (for want of a better word) also became unexpectedly iconic. I wrote previously about how hard it must be to visualise a genuinely threatening, seven-foot tall, walking carnivorous plant, and yet visual effects designer Steve Drewett did just that. Their vivid colouring, their stings dripping with poison, and their borderline flamboyant, quiff-like styling resulted in a realisation of the Triffids like nothing seen previously or since. There’s an arrogance to their appearance. It’s almost as if they want you to come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.
But before I get into the detail and explain why I think this adaptation works so well, let’s watch the title sequence and enjoy the theme music by Christopher Gunning. I say enjoy, but if I’m honest, at the tender age of eleven, these titles scared me just about as much as the Triffids themselves!