When I’m asked to name books which have influenced me, I regularly mention DOMAINby James Herbert. In fact, when I’m talking about books which have influenced my writing career, DOMAIN is the book.
For those who don’t know, DOMAIN is the third and final book in Herbert’s RATS trilogy (beginning with RATS in 1974, then LAIR in 1979). Set in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear attack on London, it remains a visceral and relentless read. To this day it’s still the only book I’ve ever finished reading, only to turn back to the beginning and immediately start again. Following the author’s untimely passing back in March, I thought I’d dig out my old yellowed paperback edition (now signed by the man himself – see this link to find out how) to see if the book still resonated with this forty-something bloke as it had when I was in my teens.
Short answer: not quite, but it was still a bloody good read.
Here’s the back cover blurb. Click the link below for my thoughts.
“The long-dreaded nuclear conflict. The city torn apart, shattered, its people destroyed or mutilated beyond hope. For just a few, survival is possible only beneath the wrecked streets – if there is time to avoid the slow-descending poisonous ashes. But below, the rats, demonic offspring of their irradiated forebears, are waiting. They know that Man is weakened, become frail. Has become their prey…”
Well, what an experience that was. It’s the morning after the night before for this particular horror fan – and that’s how I felt last night: a horror fan more than a horror writer.
On leaving school many years ago, I wanted to direct films. It was never going to happen back then, as all I had was a head full of story ideas and not a lot else. But the stories refused to go away and, as a result of various things happening in my life, I started to write the tales I’d previously wanted to film. One of the pivotal moments for me was when I picked up a copy of DOMAIN by James Herbert. This post will become far too long and rambling if I talk about the book in any detail now, so I’ll save it for another day. Suffice to say, DOMAIN’s the only book I’ve ever finished reading then immediately turned back to page one and started again. It redefined what a horror novel could be for me, and it undoubtedly set me on the path towards writing the kind of books I write today.
Last night I had the honour of not only meeting James Herbert, but also of interviewing him in front of a huge crowd at Waterstones, Birmingham New Street – one of only two events he’s doing in support of his new novel, ASH.
Have you ever had one of those emails which you read, re-read, then read again, then have to read several more times because you don’t quite believe what you’ve just been told? I received one of those recently, and here’s the result:
On Monday 3rd, September, I’ll be at Waterstones Birmingham New Street where I’ll have the incredible honour of hosting James Herbert’s signing to mark the release of his hugely anticipated new novel, ASH. Mr Herbert will be reading from the book and answering questions.
I’m terrified and excited in equal measure. I grew up reading James Herbert novels, and I’ve cited DOMAIN in particular many, many times as one of the books which most influenced my work and, if I’m honest, one of the reasons I wanted to write horror in the first place. Tickets are £3 (redeemable against a copy of ASH) are available from the store or by calling 0843 2908151. A full report will follow the event.