Looking back at the AUTUMN movie

So, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the AUTUMN series a lot recently. AUTUMN was the first of my books which really took off. As you may recall, I gave it away free online between 2001 and 2008 (when, strange as it now seems, eBooks were rare and very few people were giving them away), and it was downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times. I wrote a series of sequels which were well received, and the first book was even adapted as an online full cast audio drama which you can still listen to.

But then HATER came along and my focus shifted. I then moved onto other books and projects, and it’s now a sobering five years since the last book – AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION – was released. Yet even now people still get in touch regularly to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the series.

When I wrote the very first draft of the very first book, way back in 1997, no one was writing about zombies. Very few people were watching zombie movies, either. In fact, no one was paying zombies any attention in any way, shape or form. But in the years which followed, a totally unexpected thing happened and, for the first time, the living dead became mainstream. In films, Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER was a huge hit (which sparked endless pointless debate about whether zombies should run or not, and whether or not his infected were zombies at all), and Zack Synder’s remake of George Romero’s ground-breaking DAWN OF THE DEAD bucked the trend and proved that not all remakes were worthless cash-ins. THE WALKING DEAD comic was launched and a number of writers including myself, BRIAN KEENE and DAVID WELLINGTON precipitated the flood of zombie fiction.

And despite hearing rumours to the contrary every few months since then, the bubble hasn’t burst. People still love the living dead.

I’m going to write two more AUTUMN novels. There – I’ve said it out loud and in public now. I have an idea which I can’t stop thinking about and that, for me, is the acid test. If an idea for a book won’t go away, then that book needs writing. I have a couple of other projects to wrap up first, then I’ll dive straight into what I’m currently calling AUTUMN: DAWN. I don’t want to say too much at the moment, but I think the time’s right for these new books. As I’ve already said, the world has changed dramatically since I first wrote AUTUMN. To my mind, zombies have always been the ultimate story-telling device for allowing writers and film-makers to study the human condition. By turning people into something so similar yet inherently different, it enables us to look back and consider what makes us human in the first place. Socially we’re in a vastly different place now to where we were in 2001, and I think it’ll be fascinating to imagine how we’d react to the events of AUTUMN if they took place today. The new books won’t replace the original novels, nor will they undermine them. Same dead world, different people. Not a rehash or reboot. It’s funny… one of the rules of zombie fiction and movies when I first started writing was that the characters had to have an unspoken innocence and couldn’t know what a zombie was. Given the pop culture explosion I’ve just been talking about, there’s no way I could get away with that in the new AUTUMN books!

So what about the movie?

It was released in 2008 to a torrent of abuse and ill-feeling. It creaks and it groans. It was made on a shoestring budget and it shows. People either loved it or hated it (mostly they hated it). I stopped trying to defend it and used the backlash to try and promote the books, working on the dubious premise that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Tellingly, none of the publishers of the series around the world mentioned the film in their marketing, though an editor who worked on the books did once tell me that ‘it’s always better to have a bad film made of one of your books than no film at all’. And with hindsight, I think I agree. But how bad a film is it? Was all the negativity justified? This week I took a deep breath and watched AUTUMN from start to finish for the first time in a decade. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. I’m under no illusions, it’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think it’s the absolute car crash that most people assume.

Here’s a trailer, and my thoughts follow. And yes, that is me on the DVD cover above.

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Want to be a character in The Spaces Between?

TSB logoIn the past I’ve held several competitions where folks could win the chance to appear in forthcoming novels. Most notably, Keiran Cope won a charity auction to be in the final AUTUMN novel and have his own AUTUMN short story (which you can read here). And way, way back in 2008, The Swimmer was based on a lovely lady called Joanna Milne who won a contest to become a featured zombie in AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION. Just below you can see Keiran in character (as immortalized by the mighty Craig Paton) and, next to him, The Swimmer (as sculpted by the equally mighty Patrick Crilley).

I think another contest is long overdue.

As you know I’m in the middle of writing the first part of a new four book horror/science-fiction series, THE SPACES BETWEEN. I’m offering FIVE people the chance to appear as characters in the books.

One randomly selected winner will:

  • Have a key character who appears in all four novels in the series named after them.
  • They’ll also receive a framed illustration of themselves depicted in a key scene from the first book.
  • And they’ll also get signed first editions of each book in the series as and when they’re released.

Four randomly selected runners-up will:

  • Have a supporting character named after them in one of the books (one book per winner).
  • They’ll also received signed first editions of each book in the series as and when they’re released.

So what do you have to do? It’s very simple. Visit this page where you’ll find all the necessary information. Good luck!

HERBST: AUSKLANG

Moody_Herbst-5-Ausklang-eBook-Cover-500HERBST: AUSKLANG – the German-language edition of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH is now available from MKrug Verlag. Ebook versions will follow shortly. The Herbst books were my first foreign language deal, agreed way back in the early days of Infected Books, and they’ve been a real success. The first release of DISINTEGRATION (HERBST: ZERFALL) anywhere in the world was in German but, for various reasons, this final release was delayed. It’s great to see the series coming to a conclusion at last, and I hope folks enjoy the book.

Available from Amazon.de.

Two new UK AUTUMN releases out today

isbn9781473201668Today sees the launch in the UK of two new AUTUMN releases from Gollancz. First up is THE COMPLETE AUTUMN – an ebook only collection of the five AUTUMN novels (Autumn, The City, Purification, Disintegration and Aftermath) available in all major formats: Kindle / iBookNook / Kobo / ePub (Waterstones) / ePub (Hive). A great way to get into the series if you haven’t yet read the books. And don’t forget, for full completeness you can also pick up THE HUMAN CONDITION for the bargain price of £1.99!

Also available from today is the mass market paperback edition of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH (Amazon / Book Depository / Waterstones / Hive / Indiebound). There are a few copies available at www.infectedbooks.co.uk – the Infected Bookstore.

I know many of you are waiting for news about the limited edition AFTERMATH hardcover… it’s coming. I’m sorry it’s taking so long. I’ve been in conversation about it this week and hope to open pre-orders (with a cool little addition for those folks pre-ordering) before the end of October. For those who’ve yet to hear about this project, click this link for more information.

Herbst: Ausklang – German edition of Aftermath – out in September

Moody_Herbst-5-Ausklang-eBook-Cover-500I’m pleased to announce that, at long last, HERBST: AUSKLANG – the German language edition of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH – will be released in September by MKrug Verlag.

It’s been a long wait for German readers (since 2009 in fact, when ZERFALL – the German language edition of DISINTEGRATION was released – the first version of DISINTEGRATION to be released anywhere in the world, in fact). The Autumn (or Herbst) books have always been really well received in German, so I’m thrilled readers will soon get to read the final chapter in the series. More details will be available shortly.

AUTUMN – limited editions update

Autumn-Aftermath-9780575091498I wanted to let you know what was happening with a couple of forthcoming releases. Firstly, I’m working with Gollancz on the AUTUMN: AFTERMATH limited edition hardcover which will be published by Infected Books. Gollancz have been kind enough to allow me access to their designs in order that the new edition of the book can match the previous UK AUTUMN hardcover releases. There are a couple of legal and technical issues to get resolved before we go into production but I’m hoping (and don’t hold me to this) that the book will be released in late April/early May this year. You can register interest and keep up to date with developments by joining this mailing list. In the meantime, if you don’t want to wait, you can pick up the UK trade paperback edition here.

I thought this would be a good time to tell you about my plans for the new release of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, which I hope will also happen around the same time as AFTERMATH.

autumn_human_condition_thumbnailTHE HUMAN CONDITION will be available as an eBook, trade paperback and limited edition hardcover, and it’ll differ significantly from the original Infected Books release from 2005. As well as new artwork from Craig Paton (you can see one of his initial draft cover designs here), it’ll also be a much longer book (of course, most of the content remains available free over at www.lastoftheliving.net). BREAKING POINT and KIERAN COPE will make their first appearances in print alongside BEGINNING TO DISINTEGRATE – a brand new short telling the backstory of the survivors based at the flats in AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION. There will be one other major addition to the collection – a short which plays a hugely important part in the overall series – which I hope to tell you about shortly.

Again, if you want to keep up with news of these releases and register your interest in one/both of the limited editions with no obligations, please join this mailing list.

More news very soon. Have a great weekend!

AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION

Right, nearly there with my recaps of the AUTUMN series in readiness for the UK release of AFTERMATH next week. Today I’m going to look at the various short stories I’ve written to expand and compliment the overall story over the years.

As I’ve already explained, AUTUMN started small but grew rapidly in size, its cast of characters growing with each new novel. Apart from jumping back in time to the beginning of the outbreak at the beginning of THE CITY, and the parallel events of PURIFICATION and DISINTEGRATION, it’s told in a largely linear way. That’s all well and good, but as I introduced each new character, I found myself wanting to go back and tell their individual backstories. To have done that within the books would have made them unnecessarily complicated, and so I came up with AUTUMN: ECHOES.

Originally appearing online only, these (very) short stories explained what had happened to minor background characters from THE CITY to get them from the end of the world to the city centre university where the survivors had grouped at the beginning of the book. It seemed to work so well I continued and did the same with some of the new characters from PURIFICATION too, and it was while I was putting together the third book that these ECHOES seemed to take on a life of their own. Here’s a brief extract from a scene near to the end of the book:

Amy Steadman (day 3) by Craig PatonEight weeks ago this had been an intelligent young clothing store department manager with a bright future ahead of her. Now it was a mud-splattered, half-naked, emaciated collection of brittle bone and rotting flesh. Unlike the majority of the seething crowd, however, this one was beginning to exhibit signs of real control and determination. Unlike those which simply stood there vacantly or those which ripped and tore at the other corpses immediately around them, this body was beginning to think.

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AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION

Therapy time again… I’m writing these posts just to get them out of my system as I prepare to draw a line under the AUTUMN series. Today I’m looking at book four, DISINTEGRATION. I’ll have a couple of posts about short stories next week, then a piece about AFTERMATH to coincide with the UK release of the final book later this month. To learn more about the series, visit www.lastoftheliving.net.

When I finished writing AUTUMN: PURIFICATION, I thought that was it for the series. Then I realised I still had more to say and wrote THE HUMAN CONDITION (more about that book and AUTUMN: ECHOES next week). Once again, I thought I was through with zombies. But as I finished writing HATER back in early 2006, I changed my mind again and found a reason to return to AUTUMN.

The books were taking a critical hammering. They still do, to be fair, although these days people seem to be a little more accepting of zombie stories devoid of the usual flesh-eating clichés. For every positive comment I received, I seemed to get many more decrying the lack of blood, guts, guns and action in the novels. That frustrated me beyond belief. It would have been one thing criticising me if I’d done blood, guts, guns and action badly, but to have a pop because those things weren’t there seemed a little below the belt. I’m not one to respond confrontationally to a bad review (because we all know where that can lead) but I did need a way to work through my frustrations. AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION was it. I decided to see what would happen if I dumped a group of stereotypical zombie survivors into AUTUMN. I wanted to know how they’d cope.

But there had to be more to the new book than that. It had to be more than just following a group of folks battering their way through the living dead, because that would have made it just another bland, run of the mill zombie tale and I wanted to do something different. It occurred to me it would be infinitely more interesting to pit survivor against survivor: to imagine what might happen when those who’d managed to stay alive by fighting and killing were forced to try and survive alongside those who’d taken a more cautious approach. The potential for conflict was huge. You could argue they’d all chosen the right way because they were all still alive, but who would back down first? With all their lives on the line, would anyone accede?

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AUTUMN: PURIFICATION

Once again, bear with me while I exorcise a few more AUTUMN memories. As with previous instalments, there may be spoilers here…

Autumn - Purification US CoverAs I mentioned in last week’s post, by the time I’d finished writing the second AUTUMN novel, I was already plotting the third. THE CITY had opened up the story dramatically, and it was becoming clear to me that by killing off 99% of the population by the end of the first page of the first book, I’d given myself the mother of all blank canvases to work from. That said, AUTUMN: PURIFICATION was originally intended to be the end of the series, and it does bring the story of Michael, Emma and the other original survivors to a conclusion, albeit a temporary one.

THE CITY ended with all the major characters in one place (for the first time), trapped underground, and it would have been easy to write something along the lines of Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD. I knew I wanted to take AUTUMN in a very different direction, though, so I needed to get everyone out of the bunker they’d fought so hard to get into. I’d also started to take a fair amount of flack from people who weren’t at all impressed with my take on zombies. They didn’t like the idea of a zombie story without any flesh eating, divorced from many of the usual clichés of the genre. In response, I wanted to open the third book with a bang, hoping to demonstrate that even though my living dead creatures had started off relatively tame, they were now anything but!

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Autumn: Aftermath UK edition

The UK edition of AFTERMATH is still a few months away (unfortunately). I’m working on arranging a number of signings around the country to mark the release in November. Until then, here’s a look at the cover art courtesy of Gollancz.

There are a few more AUTUMN-related releases planned… As well as the German edition of AFTERMATH, the mass-market UK paperback version of DISINTEGRATION will be out in October. I’m also tentatively planning to release a free ebook version of THE HUMAN CONDITION later this year (i.e. an easier way for people to access all the free stories from www.lastoftheliving.net). Finally – and you’ll hear more about this next week – don’t forget that www.thisishorror.co.uk will be releasing the JOE AND ME chapbook on Monday, and as I’ve already said, there’s a very definite connection between that story and AUTUMN…