Three weeks since I last posted . . . that’s not good!
I’ve been trying to get the bulk of the third HATER book written before DOG BLOODhits the shelves next month. I’m a third of the way in to what I hope will be the final(ish) draft, and there are another few weeks work ahead of me yet. If I can get it done and delivered then that gives me much more opportunity to get out and about to promote DOG BLOOD (which, I’m pleased to report, seems to be going down well so far).
Anyway, to celebrate the release of the DVD, I’m giving away the copy I’m holding in the picture. Just answer this stupidly easy question before 31st May to be in with a chance of winning (form removed as the competition has now closed).
Finally, I know I promised more information about the ‘Projekt’ in my last post, but some unexpected (and very interesting) complications have arisen and I can’t say anything yet. Hopefully there will be some news about this in the next couple of weeks.
Orion books in the UK have released a mass-market (i.e. cheaper!) edition of HATER which, from today, you’ll find in supermarkets, airports etc. etc. You can also get it online from Amazon.co.uk, Waterstones, Play.com and the Book Depository amongst others.
German readers can now get their hands on the first publication anywhere in the world of Autumn: Disintegration (Herbst: Zerfall). Whilst this is good news for readers in Germany and Austria, it’s not so good for those of you who’ve been waiting more than patiently for the US and UK releases of the book. I’ll be honest (as I’ve had a few angry emails about the subject recently), Disintegration is still a long way off for the rest of the world. I’ve updated the FAQ page of this site with a revised explanation and it’s something I’ll talk more about next week.
Over the course of the next few weeks and months, people around the world are finally going to be able to see the AUTUMN movie (and I mean the proper, finished movie – not the poor quality, unfinished rip that was leaked online and which has been unfairly generating bad press around the Internet recently). At the end of the day, AUTUMN is a low budget indie horror film which, like many indies, will be released wherever deals are made, whenever those deals are made. It would have been great if there could have been a single, massive, coordinated, worldwide release but these are challenging times and I’m just grateful that the film’s complete and ready to be enjoyed.
Bizarrely, if you’re in Thailand, you can already buy the DVD and if you’re in Germany, you can pre-order it from Amazon.de (it’s out in October – apologies for the unique, market-specific update to the title!). If you’re in the UK or Canada… please bear with me for a little longer – more news is coming very soon.
The journey to get AUTUMN to the screen has been frustratingly long for a number of reasons but, now that we’ve almost reached the finish line, I thought it was time I properly documented some of my thoughts and feelings on the process, the film itself, and the issues and experiences we’ve had along the way. I’ll be posting a series of articles over the coming weeks, starting today with a brief look at the origins of the project. My next AUTUMN post will be an updated version of the set report I previously published in early 2008 on theinfected.co.uk (the official AUTUMN website – soon to be re-launched). Later I’ll be talking about the bizarre series of events which thrust the film firmly into the spotlight after the tragic death of David Carradine. A Q&A with director Steven Rumbelow will follow (I’ll be asking you for questions to put to Steven later) and I’ll wrap the series up with a look at the finished movie. By then I hope many of you will have had chance to see the film and I’m looking forward to discussing it with you on the forum (and, hopefully, in the flesh if you’re in the UK!).
I should start out by saying that if you’re expecting a full-blown review of the film from me, you’re not going to get one. More to the point, I can’t write one. Why? Because as a writer, having a story you’ve written adapted for the screen is a unique and very emotional experience – far more so than I anticipated or imagined. It’s difficult to be completely impartial and objective about the finished result because you’re impossibly close and yet frustratingly distant from the project at the same time. When I write I spend months (often years) planning and preparing each story to the point where I can almost just shut my eyes and watch the whole thing play out in my head like a movie. By the time the book’s finished, I know exactly how each character looks, behaves and sounds. I know the locations they inhabit, the size and layout of the buildings and rooms where they interact, the undulations of the land outside, the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, the colour of the wallpaper in their living rooms… On a more technical level, I know how the scenes flow, how they cut into each other, what I can hear and see at any given moment… I write listening to music and invariably I build up a playlisted soundtrack for each book that matches the atmosphere and feel of the story…
Give one hundred directors the same script, and you’ll probably end up with one hundred very different films. The point I’m trying to make is that everything is open to personal interpretation. No-one is able to fully see what I see as I write and the movie I involuntarily plan in my head – with its perfect cast, jaw-dropping locations, ground-breaking special effects and limitless budget – is the invisible, intangible benchmark that I’m sure every author unknowingly sets. In the nicest possible way, no movie will ever match it, so it would be unfair to write a review.
Enough of that. Back to the beginning…
The AUTUMN movie came about as the result of an approach from Renegade Motion Pictures for the film rights in September 2006. They weren’t alone in their interest – I’d had several other enquiries from production companies of various statures and sizes – but Renegade’s attitude and the dialogue we quickly established soon made them my ‘partner of choice’. I liked the way Rumbelow talked about the themes of the story with me and the plans he had for keeping the movie close to the indie spirit of the original novel. Those of you who’ve followed my writing for some time will know that, up until that point, I’d previously taken responsibility for every aspect of the publishing process – writing, editing, designing, marketing etc. – and the prospect of working with an independent production company like Renegade appealed to me more than the idea of letting a larger, corporate outfit loose with AUTUMN. It was the book that put me on the map and a huge part of my heart and soul was ploughed into the series as a whole. With Renegade I knew I’d be able to have some influence on the project, and at that stage in my career that mattered.
Once the formalities were completed (including the addition of a unique clause in the rights agreement stating that the film would not be allowed to become a ‘Hollywood-style’ zombie movie!), Renegade began work on the project in earnest.
In late-2005, some twelve months before the movie was first mooted, I decided to write a ‘spec-script’ for AUTUMN, more because I wanted to try my hand at screenplay writing than for any other reason. That script later became the basis for Darker Projects’ audio dramatization of the book and, after a further re-write, I sent it to Renegade where Steven Rumbelow used elements of it to put together his vision of AUTUMN. If I’m honest, my attempt was far too bloated and overlong, an attempt to literally translate virtually every page of the book to the screen, but it was something I enjoyed doing (and something I plan to do again in the near future).
With the screenplay well advanced and much of the required funding in place, Renegade took the unusual step of inviting fans to become shareholders in the movie. This wasn’t just a means to generate extra cash and publicity, it was also a genuine attempt to bridge the gap between the film-makers and those people who’d been following the books since 2001 when the first AUTUMN novel appeared online. There was a great response and to those of you who invested, check your inboxes for an update from Renegade in the very near future.
As the end of 2007 neared, the movie was cast, locations were scouted and filming was ready to begin.
The cover of ‘Hater’ has always been a strong selling point. When I designed the original ‘Infected Books’ edition back in 2006, I knew that I wanted something that was visually striking, relevant to the novel and, perhaps most importantly, something that didn’t look like the cover of any other book already on the shelves.
The idea for deep red on a clear white background came quickly. I’m by no means an artist so taking this approach seemed to kill two birds with one stone – if it worked it would be fairly easy to produce and the simplicity would inevitably make it an eye-catching design. After briefly toying with a few concepts (such as the bloody handprint on the back cover of the original edition and the imprint of a blood-drenched face looking as if some poor soul had been smashed up against a window!), I settled on simply writing the word ‘Hater’ in blood.
To produce the original artwork, I went back to basics. It was early summer and my youngest daughter was painting. Struck by sudden inspiration, I selfishly grabbed some of her paints off her (she didn’t have any red, so I mixed brown and orange and yellow and whatever else I could find), made up a batch of ‘blood’, then stood out on the patio surrounded by sheets of paper making bloodspots and the like. She watched me with an uneasy mixture of fear and bemusement. I felt like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, building a mountain out of mashed potato at the dinner table.
I dipped my finger in the paint and scrawled ‘HATER’ on a clean sheet. I liked it so I did it again. Then again. Then again. Half a ream of bloody Haters later and I decided that the very first one was the best. I dried it, scanned it, Photoshopped the colours to a more typically bloody red-brown, then created a composite using various other drips, dribbles and splashes of blood from my experiments on the patio.
The original paperback cover suffered from a poor choice of font for my name and too much white space. When the book was sold to Thomas Dunne Books, their art department worked for some time to come up with an alternative illustration, before settling on a touched-up version of my original design. They increased the proportions of the image to better fill the cover, and added my name and the words ‘a novel’ in a suitably bloody scrawl.
The book has since been sold to numerous other countries and it’s been interesting to see how each country has approached the design of the cover. Some, like Poland and the UK, have gone for variations on a theme.
The Spanish, German and French publishers have taken a completely different, but no less eye-catching, tack. The French edition in particular, with its use of an ‘interesting’ picture of yours truly, has become something of a talking point! With other countries including Brazil, Russia, Japan and Korea yet to unveil their editions of the book, I’m looking forward to seeing what their designers come up with!
The fact that the cover of ‘Hater’ has generated such a positive response is something I’m very proud of. Since the release of the book in February I’ve had many emails which have started along the lines of ‘I was in the bookstore today just browsing, when I saw the cover of your book on the shelf and had to pick it up…’. I’m also thrilled by the very positive comments posted in today’s article by the professional designers over at www.fwis.com. Perhaps my favourite feedback though, was from a post I found on a forum a while back. Someone admitted to having brought the book so they could carry it with them on the tube each day. They weren’t interested in reading it themselves, they just wanted to see the looks on other passengers’ faces when they saw the cover!
Working from home is something I wanted to do for a long, long time. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time it’s great – no commute, a comfortable office, food and drink on tap. I can work in the bedroom, in front of the TV, in the garden, in the bath…
Not wishing to sound ungrateful, but the downside of home working is having to share the office with the rest of the family. We’re on day 5 of the 40+ day summer school holiday and if I had any hair I’d be tearing it out right now. I love my kids dearly, but the more I’ve got to do, the more they seem to act up. Apologies in advance if you get an email from me that makes no sense over the next few weeks. I’ve probably had to leave the computer midway through typing to referee an argument, repair something, clean something up, fix someone some food or somesuch…
I’m kidding, of course. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just that today has been one of those days where I’ve sat in front of the screen for hours and achieved next to nothing. I’ve been interrupted 4 times since I started typing this post!
I thought I’d try and do something constructive and finish the week with a few snippets of news:
Writer’s Forum Magazine
You might remember that I was interviewed by Writers’ Forum Magazine a while back. This month’s issue features another article I’ve contributed to “Make the web work for you”. I’ve shared some of my experiences of writing and publishing online which hopefully will be useful.
It’s been a great few weeks for German readers! I know that the lack of availability of the Autumn books is frustrating a lot of people and I hope to have some news about release dates very soon. In the meantime, the German language edition of Autumn: Disintegration, Herbst: Zerfall, is now available for pre-order. This is the first time the book has been published in any language (see this page for an explanation). Zerfall will be released in September.
Before I start… no, I don’t yet have any re-release dates for the books and no, I don’t know when the movie’s coming out. Sorry about that. Just so you know, as far as the books are concerned, I’m currently talking release dates with the US and UK publishers. And as for the film, I know that the team at Renegade wish you could see it tomorrow! As soon as I have any news I’ll post it here and update the site’s FAQ page.
On 19th April, Steven Rumbelow (Director of the Autumn movie) and Dickon Tolson (who plays Carl) will be answering questions about the film on Nocturnal Frequency Radio. Click here for details of the show. The show’s host, Steve Genier, is a great guy who recorded a huge amount of behind-the-scenes footage during the production of the movie. I know that news has been sparse recently (the filmmakers and I share your frustration) so this should be a great opportunity to learn more about the film.
In other news, I’m really pleased to announce that the German language edition of Autumn: Purification – Herbst: Läuterung is now available from Otherworldverlag. Click the cover below for more information (and check the FAQ page if you can’t understand why the German editions are out but you can’t get the books in English!):