A clickbait post title if ever there was one, but there’s a genuine point to this so bear with me. It begins many years ago, when I worked as a manager in a processing centre for a bank, looking after around 100 staff as we wound our centre down to a close. The work we did was being farmed out to newly opened sites overseas, where it could be done at a fraction of the cost, leaving my team and I redundant. I’m glad it happened, all things considered, because leaving the bank gave me a chance to take Infected Books to the next level and turn my part-time writing hobby into a full-time career.
But that’s not what this post is about. I was working on AUTUMN: PURIFICATION at the time, and having to deal with the redeployment of so many people in the real world brought unexpected benefits to my writing. I was able to release my stresses on the page (ever wondered where the inspiration for Samurai sword-wielding Harry Stayt came from?), and if I found myself becoming frustrated by my bosses, members of my team, or other people I was having to deal with at the time, I’d often picture them as a zombie and give them a particularly gruesome death in the book (without mentioning any names, of course, as I’d already got enough to deal with without being sued by anyone who took objection).
My new book which came out last week, ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING, has again reminded me of the usefulness of creating characters based on facets of people you know or who you’ve had interactions with. I find that it really helps keep them grounded and real, and if the characters in a horror novel are believable, it can add an enormous amount of weight to the emotion and impact of the vile situations you drop them into.
At the weekend I went away with my wife, and on the way home we stopped at Crosby Beach near Liverpool where Antony Gormley’s spectacular ANOTHER PLACE is installed. If you’ve not come across it before, it’s a series of 100 cast iron figures placed facing out to sea across a 2 mile stretch of beach. We visited on an ice-cold, exceptionally windy day, and that added to the impact of the sculpture. There’s something really affecting about seeing so many motionless (and emotionless) figures being buffeted and beaten by the waves. It felt quite dystopian, and the picture I took which I’ve posted here reminded me both of Danny McCoyne in THEM OR US, and Matthew Dunne at the beginning of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING. These characters are the intentional antithesis of each other, and both play pivotal roles in their respective trilogies as you’ll discover as the new series progresses.
When I was at a particularly low ebb a few years ago and my creative spark had been snuffed out, my wise wife said to me ‘how can you write about people anymore when you don’t know any?’. She was right, of course. I’d become a bit of a recluse, and my writing had suffered. I went back to work in an office, intending to stay there for a few months, and I’m still there after more than 3 years (and just by way of an aside, I now manage a team doing pretty much exactly the job I had Danny McCoyne doing in HATERall those years ago!). Though I have less time to write, the writing I produce is far, far better now that I’m mixing with other people on a daily basis again, and dealing with all the emotions of those interactions, both positive and negative. For me, the benefits of having a completely separate day job are clear, and right now it’s something I wouldn’t want to be without.
And that’s the reason for this post, I guess. ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING has been my first major release for some time, and it’s the first novel in which I’ve used characters inspired by the people I’ve recently worked with. Being around such a wide range of people while I’ve been writing the new HATER novels has been bizarrely therapeutic. I don’t really advocate killing your work colleagues, but do take inspiration from them. If you’re anything like me, it’ll help you in both your writing and non-writing careers. It’ll improve the quality of your characters, and it’ll help you get through those challenging business meetings as you imagine the horrific ending you’re going to give to the person currently giving you an ear-bending…
So thanks to the real Ronan Heggarty and Paul O’Keefe, for the inspiration they’ve both unwittingly provided. You don’t know who you are, but I do!
First, the second HATER trilogy now has a name. My editor and I racked our brains long and hard about what to call the new series, and we went through a number of options before settling on our final choice. Cast your minds back to THEM OR US, and you’ll be able to find the genesis for the title… there’s no going back for the human race after the events of the HATER books. The fighting will continue until there’s no one left, so there’s no question that this is THE FINAL WAR.
Second bit of news – the ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING audiobook is also out this week from Macmillan Audio. The excellent chap who narrated the previous HATER audiobooks, Gerard Doyle, is back behind the microphone. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.
I’d like to close this little pre-release round-up with a few words on the new book from Chris Hall of DLS Reviews. Chris has been following my work for a long time and he writes some of the most well-considered reviews on the web. So you can imagine how pleased I was when he finished off his review of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING with these comments:
This is Moody doing what he does best. This is his natural environment. His turf. This is how he writes his very best work. And it’s utterly, uncompromisingly, gut-wrenching stuff. The novel rips you out of your safe and snug world and thrusts you into an environment where anyone can turn on you in the blink of an eye. It’s hard-hitting, head-poundingly tense, and drenched from head to toe in blood-splattered cruelty.
A near-perfect example of humanity fucking up as our last card is played.
Honest post time… I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so nervous for the release of a new book before. ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING hits the shelves in less than a week and I really don’t know what the reaction’s going to be like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with how the book’s turned out, but there’s a lot riding on this. It’s my first major release for a while, and after a few tricky years where writing and I didn’t get on too well, I’m back and I’m nervous to learn if/where I now fit in the modern horror landscape.
ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING is a very different book to HATER, and I worry that people will pick up the new novel expecting more of the same. If you do, you might be disappointed. The original three books exclusively told Danny McCoyne’s story while the new trilogy has a different focus entirely, much wider. I’m also mindful that this is the beginning of a trilogy, and whilst I already know how it’s all going to fit together and who’s going to survive, and where we’ll be jumping in and out of the events of the earlier books, you lot don’t. Perhaps it’s just the self-imposed pressure of following up my most successful novel that’s making me feel so uneasy?
I should shut up and stop writing this post. It’s probably just writer’s paranoia kicking in again. I’m sure any of you who write will have experienced something similar. When you’re planning a book, before you make even a single mark on the very first page, you’re certain it’s going to be the best thing ever. You then go through every kind of emotional up and down imaginable as you’re actually writing the damn thing, and you often end the job with a very real, but also temporary, sense of victory and validation. As you prepare to release your precious creation into the wild, doubt sets in again. You start convincing yourself (well I do, anyway) that no one’s going to buy it and read it, and the merest negative comment in a review hurts like a dagger to the heart whereas glowing praise is hard to accept and believe.
So I just want to say thank you to Peter Wolverton and all at St Martin’s Press for taking a chance on another HATER series, and thanks also to those of you who are planning on picking up the book (or have already). Despite everything I’ve said here, I genuinely can’t wait to be able to talk about ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING with you once you’ve read it. Until then, I’ll be sitting in front of my computer screen obsessing over sales ranks and combing the internet for feedback and reviews. I will actually do some work as well, because I’m almost finished with book two, and it’s been an absolute blast diving back into the deadly, grimy, trouble- and violence-filled world of the DOG BLOOD era. Did I tell you that the second book has been renamed? The new title perfectly sums up both the setting and the emotion of the book: ALL ROADS END HERE.
Bad news – following a couple of orders received this afternoon, we’re now out of stock of the new book. Here’s a photo of the current state of the shelves I showed you in my last post. Note the (almost) total absence of ONE OF US…
It’s two weeks until the official release but, as you can see from the picture below, I’ve just taken delivery of the first shipments of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – the new HATER novel. I’ll be sending the books to those who’ve already ordered copies over the next few days.
Forgive the clickbait title of this post, there is a serious point to this. I regularly recommend films here, but today’s recommendation is completely out of character and I wanted to give you some context. I saw PADDINGTON 2 this weekend just gone, and it was quite simply one of the best films I’ve seen. I laughed a lot, I cried a bit, and I loved it completely.
I’d read a review before seeing the film which said “Following a year of big-budget disappointments, this sequel is an hour and forty minutes of absolute joy.” That’s played on my mind since we left the cinema, and I decided to devote a little time to trying to work out why some sequels work whilst many others don’t. Looking back through other movies I’ve watched this year, one particular film stood out as an obvious counterpoint to PADDINGTON 2’s success, and that’s ALIEN: COVENANT. Yes, these are diametrically opposite movies intended for wholly different audiences, but they’re both sequels and therefore have certain things in common. Bear with me and I’ll explain (pun absolutely not intended – I may be a hack at times, but I’m not that bad).
In the interests of full disclosure, I have a real affection for PADDINGTON. I grew up watching and reading about the furry little bugger, and my wife and I made sure to indoctrinate our daughters in the cult of the little bear from darkest Peru before they were old enough to protest. My wife’s far, far worse than me, by the way. She has it really bad. She has a Paddington tattoo (honest).
Also in the interests of full disclosure, I love the ALIEN movies and will watch every single one that’s made, no matter what. The first and second (and third, to a lesser extent) films are ground-breaking in many ways. Ridley Scott’s original 1979 film in particular is incredibly influential and had a huge impact on me back in the day. It’s a masterclass in creeping, claustrophobic terror and features a creature which, to my mind, remains one of the ultimate movie monsters.
Sequels are funny things. ALIENS, for example, is often cited along with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and TERMINATOR 2 as a prime example of how to do it right, but for every good sequel there are many, many more inferior follow-up films. So why am I so enthusiastic about PADDINGTON 2 but was underwhelmed by COVENANT?
“She gasps for breath, her mind in overload, struggling to work out what, who, how, and why? and at the same time trying to cope with the most horrific pain imaginable. It fills her whole body, hurting so much it steals her breath from her lungs. Her arms give way and she hits the deck and rolls over onto her back, looking up into the rain and spray. She’s numb and slow to move, and the chain lashes down again and again. She instinctively raises her hands to protect her face, but it does her no good. Busted fingers, split skin, broken teeth, more blood, and so much more pain that it almost stops hurting.”
Not long now untilONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING hits the shelves, and the novel has received a starred review from BOOKLIST. “Moody really knows how to write creeping, claustrophobic terror, effectively sneaking up on his readers and, finally, scaring the life out of them. Top-drawer horror.” Very happy with that!
The book is released in hardcover by Thomas Dunne Books on 5 December, and pre-orders will be shipped by that date (if not a little before). You can also order the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, Indiebound and all other good bookstores. Ebooks are also available, and an audio version is coming soon.
Join Moody's mailing list and grab a free and exclusive short story: