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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The Front II: Red Devils

Happy New Year! I’ve been telling you for a while that you’ll hear much more from me in 2017, so it’s time to start making good that promise. Here’s my first release of the year – THE FRONT: RED DEVILS – which will hit shelves in paperback and ebook formats in February. I was thrilled to be asked to be involved in Craig DiLouie and Tim Long’s THE FRONT series, and I’m delighted with how the book has turned out. Set during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, Tim’s first volume, SCREAMING EAGLES, introduced an undead Nazi army to the mix. In RED DEVILS a British officer uncovers crucial information about the undead threat and is dispatched as part of a task force to the source of the deadly infection. Can they find a way to stop the advance of the living dead before the whole of mainland Europe is overcome?

If you haven’t yet read SCREAMING EAGLES, then click here to put that right. More details about RED DEVILS coming very soon.

Is this our LAST CHRISTMAS?

Very pleased to be able to announce the release today of LAST CHRISTMAS – the final book in Infected Books’ YEAR OF THE ZOMBIE series, and the first time WAYNE SIMMONS and I have collaborated on a story. It’s silly. It’s bloody. It’s Christmassy. It’s a whole lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it.

The Office Christmas Party can a nightmare at the best of times but when it coincides with the end of the world, things get even messier.

For mild-mannered security guard Howard Stanton, this was meant to be an easy shift. A chance to keep his head down and watch Die Hard movies while the rest of the staff get wasted. But then the zombie apocalypse happened and peopled expected him to do something about it. Was that even in his job description?

It’s going to be a long drink- and drug-fuelled night. The world’s going to hell and it’s down to Howard to hold it all together. He’s in charge tonight, and if he screws up, it’ll be everyone’s last Christmas.

It’s been a quiet couple of years, but things will be cranking up a gear or two (or ten) in 2017. THE FRONT: RED DEVILS will be out in February, ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING (HATER #4) will be out in August, and there will be other surprises along the way. Oh, and important paperwork has just been signed for the screen adaptation of HATER. More news coming soon…

Pick up LAST CHRISTMAS now from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.de. I hope you have as much fun reading it as we did writing it. And if I don’t get to post here again before Christmas, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, I hope you and your families and friends have an excellent time.

I Am Legend (2007)

iamlegendposterYou might remember that a couple of months ago I started looking back at Richard Matheson’s landmark novel, I AM LEGEND, and the various film adaptations which have followed. I wrote about LAST MAN ON EARTH here, and eviscerated THE OMEGA MAN here. Now it’s time to look at the version I was dreading most. Alex Proyas’ 2007 I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith.

It’s funny how time affects your perception and enjoyment of movies. I originally loved THE OMEGA MAN back in the day, but hated it following my recent re-watch. Similarly, whilst I despised I AM LEGEND first time around, it didn’t annoy me anywhere near as much when I watched it again. It’s still horribly flawed, it still takes huge liberties with Matheson’s story, it still stars Will Smith (and I still can’t stand him), but it was… well, okay, I guess.

Here’s the trailer. Click the link for my thoughts.

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The Black Fang Betrayal – now free to read

Black Fang BetrayalYou might remember THE BLACK FANG BETRAYAL, a really interesting project I was involved in a while back. The book is a collaborative novel, coordinated by James Thorn and written by myself alongside TW Brown, Michaelbrent Collings, Mainak Dhar, J.C. Eggleton, Glynn James, Stephen Knight, T.W. Piperbrook and J.R. Rain. I’m excited to tell you that the book is now free to read.

Levi Phillips is a warlock living in the woods of rural Ohio. With his apprentice, Matthew, Levi operates one of the most ferocious covens in the world, known as The Black Fang. Managing the coven like an international corporation, Levi controls its enormous wealth while running a moonshine operation as a front. But when a plot to assassinate Levi is exposed, the warlock decides it’s time to destroy The Black Fang and the destruction could create a new beginning.

The Black Fang Betrayal features today’s best horror, dark fantasy and thriller writers collaborating on a unique and fascinating novel. Armed with nothing but a prompt and a character name, each author became a warlock of The Black Fang and wrote a first-person account as a member of the coven. Using themes and sequences woven throughout the complete narrative, a cohesive page-turner emerges.

Grab a copy for Kindle at getbook.at/blackfang and get all other formats here: books2read.com/u/38DPd6.

Tim W Long

timlongMany of you will know Tim, and many more will have read his books. He’s going through an extremely tough patch at the moment. I’ll let his girlfriend Katie explain: “On Wednesday, Tim woke up with what he thought was a sour stomach from drinking bad wine while watching the election or possibly a late con crud. By 3 pm, I was rushing him to the hospital after he passed out at home from what looked like to me as a massive GI bleed in process. He almost passed out in triage and was immediately rushed back to the ER. He appeared stable for several hours, but then had a bleed out in which he lost 1/3 of his total body fluid volume. He was literally one minute away from a full code. He’s been in critical care since then.

However, he does not have a typical GI bleed like an ulcer in his stomach. He has a tumor that has developed an ulcer and will not stop bleeding even after two attempts to cauterize it via EGD. It was decided last night that even though he is very anemic that he will not be able to continue to lose so much blood and that there is potential for the tumor to bleed further. He is very weak and tired. It appears that it might have been bleeding for a couple weeks but not enough that he noticed. He has been complaining about being tired but he is always working super hard on something so we both dismissed it.

He’s had 5 units of blood, roughly 16 liters of fluid. and a lot of protonix.

I am writing this with Tim’s permission. Even though I’ve wanted to scream and cry to everyone that there was a problem, we decided not to release any information until today. He is currently in surgery to have a resection of his bowel and I hope to see him in about 3 hours. Everything looks good except for the fact he is so anemic.

Don’t get me wrong, Tim is very sick. He does not want visitors for local folks right now. Also, he is too weak to be on his phone or his computer. It would be really awesome if people left messages of support on his wall for him to see when he is stronger on Sunday or Monday.

Tim served in the navy as an engineer for four years during the first Iraq War which is why I mention Veteran’s Day.

I love him very much and I don’t know if I can understand a world without him. It was a rocky start here at the hospital, but after everyone saw how sick he is, they have done nothing but work hard to get him stable and try to fix this problem.

Once again, if you want to send support, post it on his wall. I will show him over the next couple of days and I have faith by Monday he will be back on social media wisecracking with everyone and writing books.

TheFrontIf you feel helpless and want to do anything else, financially, we would appreciate if you buy a book. As a full-time writer, he loses money every day he is not writing or promoting his work.

I suggest THE FRONT for the holiday. Buy here: http://bit.ly/supportTimWLong

Katie updated yesterday to say that “Tim made it through surgery without any significant issues. His colour is coming back to his face, he is more alert (even talking about his books to his nurses), and everything looks good… he is still pretty weak but we think he has turned a corner.”

Please consider buying one (or more) of Tim’s books in support. Visit bit.ly/supportTimWLong. For my part, I’m knuckling down to finish the (horrendously overdue) second book in Tim and Craig DiLouie’s THE FRONT series. I’m a couple of weeks away from wrapping it up, and I look forward to sending it to Craig and Tim shortly.

Best wishes, Tim. We’re thinking of you. Get well soon.

12 hours of zombie movies

Join me tomorrow for my annual pilgrimage to the Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester, for the UK FESTIVAL OF ZOMBIE CULTURE. It’s always an absolute blast, and this year the movies showing are: NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE, PLAN Z, TRAIN TO BUSAN (can’t wait for that one), ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES and PEELERS. Tickets are available direct from the Phoenix here.

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