Happy Holidays (and Christmas Zombies!)

Hello! Long time no post! You might have noticed the lack of updates here over the last couple of weeks. After the madness of November (lots of book releases and events etc.), I ended up taking a very definite step back to survey the landscape. 2011 has been a phenomenal year and now, almost at the end of it, I find myself in a position I haven’t been in for a while. All my contracted books have been delivered and I’m taking my time deciding what to do next. It’s a good feeling – quite liberating, actually. The last five years (and in particular the last three) have been pretty full-on. It’s been HATER and AUTUMN all the way, and I’m ready for a change of direction. I’ll tell you more about my plans in early 2012.

But just looking back over 2011 for a moment, I’m amazed how many releases I managed to chalk up: In the US, AUTUMN: THE CITY, AUTUMN: PURIFICATION, AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION and THEM OR US were all released, along with the mass-market edition of DOG BLOOD. It was the same in the UK, along with a mass-market edition of AUTUMN as well. Elsewhere, SEPTIEMBRE ZOMBIE and CIUDAD ZOMBIE were released in Spain, and translations of HATER appeared in Romania, Japan and Italy. Oh, and there was THE MONSTER’S CORNER anthology, and my story for the recent SFX ZOMBIE SPECIAL. See what I mean? It’s been a busy year! And that’s before I start talking about the events and signings and interviews and meetings and website launches etc. etc. 2011 has been a blast, and thanks to everyone who has been a part of it.

This won’t be my last post of the year, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Happy Christmas. Whatever you celebrate, wherever you are, have fun! I’ll leave you with a festive treat. Remember back in October when Wayne Simmons, Jasper Bark and I ended up holed-up in Leicester, surrounded by zombies, discussing our love for the genre and our favoured survival techniques? Well here’s the video evidence.

It’s very tongue in cheek and everyone had a huge amount of fun on the day. Thanks to Vince, Adele, and all involved with Un:Bound Video Editions.

The Autumn artists – David Naughton-Shires

Earlier this week I showed you the sights of post-apocalyptic Lowestoft thanks to the artwork of David Naughton-Shires. Many of you will know that David also provided a number of pieces of art for www.lastoftheliving.net. I thought it was about time I featured him here and talked a little more about his work.

When the call for Autumn artwork first went out in Summer 2010, David was one of the first to respond. Within days he’d sent me illustrations for Brigid Culthorpe and Jacob Flynn, and even more art soon followed: Karen Chase, Jim Harper and my personal favourite, Office Politics (see below). David’s distinctive style is quite unlike the approaches taken by the other contributors to the site, and I think the mix of approaches works well.

Office Politics - illustration by David Naughton-Shires www.knightwatchpress.info

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Beginning to Disintegrate…

Forgive the lack of updates here this week, I’m trying to balance lots of projects at the moment. Here’s a little distraction for the beginning of the weekend: I’ve just added three more very brief stories to www.lastoftheliving.net.

First up is WEBB. You’ll not have come across him before, but you’ll know all about him by the end of the year, because he’s one of the central characters in AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION. He’s not a nice chap.

Then we have PENELOPE STREET. Even though she’s survived the infection, Penelope’s in a particularly awful position, and there’s absolutely nothing she can do about it.

And finally, ANNIE NELSON, a character who first appeared in the Whitchurch Community Centre along with Michael, Carl and Emma in AUTUMN.

The Autumn artists – Antony White

I’ll be posting another free short story to www.lastoftheliving.net tomorrow – THE GARDEN SHED – one man’s desperate fight to protect his home from vast approaching hordes of the living dead. The story has been illustrated for me by Antony White (www.blackpapersky.co.uk). Antony’s already illustrated several pieces of free fiction, and I thought it only right that I spend a little time singing his praises.

I first became aware of Antony several years ago when he sent me a few illustrations inspired by AUTUMN (you can see a gallery at the end of this post). A zombie-junkie before the undead were anywhere near as popular as they are today, he told me that back then “…you really had to look for it. A few years ago there seemed to be a barrage of zombie books emerging from the grave, and Autumn was one of them. The book was released free, so I downloaded, printed and was completely absorbed after the first few pages.”

As you’ll see from the before/after pictures after the break (click to enlarge), Antony’s style really lends itself well to creating post-apocalyptic imagery.

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A new edition of AUTUMN and a brand new free story

As I was working on the final edits for the US edition of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH recently, it occurred to me that it’s an incredible ten years in November since the free download of AUTUMN was released. It’s also a year since the book’s first ‘official’ release. The success of the series has been really humbling, and completely unexpected. Thanks to all of you who’ve enjoyed and supported the books.

Completely coincidentally, a new mass-market paperback version of AUTUMN has been released in the UK this week by Gollancz (with the rest of the books to follow in this format a year after the hardback releases – next February for THE CITY, April for PURIFICATION etc.).

To celebrate the new edition and the ten year anniversary of the book, I thought it would be a good to share a brand new, previously unpublished AUTUMN short story with you. Have you ever wondered what happened to Michael and Emma in the week or so between the end of the first book and their eventual re-appearance in THE CITY? Head over to www.lastoftheliving.net and read Breaking Point to find out. I hope you enjoy it.

Autumn: Disintegration – long delays and parallel sequels

I’ve just emailed the final corrections to my publishers, so that means AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION is at last finally ready for publication.

It’s been a long haul. The book was originally announced in early 2006, and I intended to write it as soon as I’d finished the project I was working on at the time (that was HATER, by the way). A combination of work (I was working full time and trying to run Infected Books – a full-time job in itself back then), family issues, and various other distractions (such as the AUTUMN movie entering production, Guillermo del Toro becoming associated with the movie adaptation of HATER, and Thomas Dunne Books acquiring worldwide rights to the HATER series) prevented me from actually finishing the book until June 2008. I was poised, ready to release DISINTEGRATION through Infected Books, when I found myself in London meeting the team from Gollancz who’d just obtained the UK rights to HATER. They asked what else I was working on, and I duly handed them copies of the AUTUMN books (which I just happened to have with me!). They asked me not to do anything with DISINTEGRATION just yet, and who was I to argue? Within two months, the AUTUMN books had also been bought by Thomas Dunne.

Traditional publishing is usually much, much slower than self- or independent- publishing (I used to have books on sale within weeks of having finished writing them – now it’s years…). Even with the accelerated release schedule the AUTUMN books have enjoyed both in the UK and US, it’s taken another three and a half years to finally get close to the release of DISINTEGRATION.

I’m sorry for the delay. Thanks for sticking with me!

Last week I gave you a little background information about the book and hinted at the plot. This week I wanted to explain a little more about how DISINTEGRATION fits in with the rest of the AUTUMN series.

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Autumn: Disintegration

Incredibly I’ve already had ten books released in various countries this year but, to my mind, the two most important releases are still to come. In November THEM OR US will bring the HATER trilogy to its dramatic conclusion and then, a couple of weeks later (December in the UK), AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION will finally hit the shelves. As many of you will know, DISINTEGRATION has been a long time coming…

I’ll be posting a lot about both of the new books in the coming weeks. Today, however, I want to focus on DISINTEGRATION and give you a little bit of background.

In Summer 2005 I released THE HUMAN CONDITION (the book which is gradually being expanded and made available on www.lastoftheliving.net). I genuinely thought I was done with the AUTUMN series at that point, but new scenarios kept on being presented to me. As you know, the AUTUMN books aren’t popular with all zombie fans – there are a large number of people who don’t want to know about the survivors and their problems because all they’re interested in is reading about as many zombies as possible getting dispatched in as many gruesome ways as the author can imagine. And that made me think: what if those same people found themselves stuck in the AUTUMN version of the zombie apocalypse? How would they survive, and would they have more or less success than the survivors from the earlier books? That question is the crux of DISINTEGRATION, and here’s an extended version of the blurb:

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AUTUMN: PURIFICATION US edition now available!

The third book in the AUTUMN series is now available from Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Griffin.

Trapped between the military and the dead, the remaining survivors carve out a fragile and uncertain existence. In a moment of madness their safety and security is jeopardised. All hope is gone, but in the rotting shadows of the past, they find the key to what remains of their future . . .

Autumn - Purification US Cover Available from:

AMAZON.COM

BARNES & NOBLE

AMAZON.CA

BOOK DEPOSITORY
(free worldwide shipping)

Purification – one day to release

There’s just one day to go before AUTUMN: PURIFICATION is released in the US (it’s already available in the UK and Germany). The third AUTUMN book was always a special one for me. First released in September 2004, it concludes the original trilogy. It’s also particularly exciting, because this book wraps up the re-releases. Next up is AUTUMN: DISINTEGRATION, and I can’t wait for it to finally be available after having been delayed for so long (5 years and counting… more about that very soon).

So, to whet your appetite for PURIFICATION, why not head over to www.lastoftheliving.net and catch up on the back stories of the characters you’ll meet for the first time in the book. Jim Harper, Brigid Culthorpe, Karen Chase, Harry Stayt, Peter Guest, Gary Keele, Jackie Soames, Juliet Appleby, Jacob Flynn… they all play major roles.

And finally, read Kilgore – added to the site this morning. Kilgore’s not immune, nor is he one of the infected. He’s a cowardly, weak, terrified weasel of a man who just happens to have survived long enough to play an important part in PURIFICATION.

Please read, enjoy, and come back here tomorrow for a chance to win one of five signed copies of the new book.

Last of the Living - the official AUTUMN website

Autumn: Aftermath

I know I’m going way out of sequence here, but I thought you might like to see the cover art for the US release of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH, the final book in the AUTUMN series which is due out next March. I really like it – it captures certain aspects of the book perfectly. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what those aspects are or give you any information about the plot just yet, because that’d mean giving away spoilers for both PURIFICATION and DISINTEGRATION.

Now I’ve just got to get the damn thing finished!