Bird Box

Here’s one which doesn’t need any recommendation from me, but I wanted to comment on it anyway. I first read Josh Malerman’s BIRD BOX several years ago. My friends at THIS IS HORROR sent me a copy of the chapbook they’d published by Malerman, THE HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE, and I was really taken by it. Having been aware of the buzz surrounding BIRD BOX, and the fact it was being adapted for film, I picked a copy up and was seriously impressed. Fast-forward a few years, and the Netflix movie adaptation of BIRD BOX is proving to be incredibly successful.

Unless you’ve been living in a house with the windows covered and have been blindfolded every time you’ve dared step outside your front door, you probably know what it’s about by now. If not, here’s a synopsis and the movie trailer:

Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety.

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The old things that make up the big thing

Thanks to those of you who’ve already pre-ordered THE LAST BIG THING. I’m humbled by the number of folks who’ve picked up a copy, and I’m anxiously/nervously looking forward to hearing what you think. Don’t forget – if you’ve pre-ordered a signed copy from Infected Books, you can download a complementary ebook version straightaway and get reading immediately.

I’ve mentioned the art that Craig Paton put together for the book. As you’d expect with a collection like this, the cover is a grouping together of a number of disparate ideas. One of the new stories is about a band, and that’s where the initial idea for the artwork came from: a faded and torn tour poster that’s been pasted to a wall. Craig had a lot of fun adding loads of Easter eggs and in-jokes to the rest of the wall which I’m sure you’ll appreciate once you’ve read the collection. If you’re reading this piece on my website, you should be able to see a small sample immediately to your right.

I’ve been wanting to release this book for quite some time as I’ve built up a stockpile of short stories and it’s often the case that years after publication they can sometimes prove difficult for people to find. As you’d expect, there’s a certain amount of my trademark Moody bleakness in there with apocalyptic stories like THE LUCKY ONES, but it’s not all about the end of the world (for once). Once I looked back at the finished collection, I realised just to what extent some of my biggest influences have shaped much of what I’ve written over the years. My love of 1950s B movies and obscure 1970s horror films comes to the fore in stories like BIG MAN and ALMOST FOREVER, whereas OSTRICH, THE DEAL and NOLAN HIGGS IS OUT OF HIS DEPTH wouldn’t be out of place as episodes of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED or THE TWILIGHT ZONE (aka the greatest TV show in history).

THE LAST BIG THING also marks the first time that my one and (currently) only HATER short story – EVERYTHING AND NOTHING – has appeared in print. It’s an interesting little off-cut which takes place in the days running up to the events of DOG BLOOD and which features a certain Danny McCoyne taking a break from the fighting and realising how close he is to home…

It’s not too late to pre-order a signed copy of the book (and to be in with a chance of winning one of three advance review copies of the next HATER novel, ALL ROADS END HERE). Just pop over to the Infected Books website to find out more.

The Last Big Thing

Rule of thumb: whenever I quote a deadline, add on at least a month. Slightly later than planned, but here’s the cover for THE LAST BIG THING – a collection featuring my favourite shorts of the last ten years or so (plus a few brand new ones). The book will be available as a hardback and ebook from 8 January.

Pre-orders will open on Wednesday 26 December.

Featuring the following stories:

BIG MAN

THE DEAL

THE LUCKY ONES

OSTRICH

GRANDMA KELLY

WE WERE SO YOUNG ONCE (new)

NOLAN HIGGS IS OUT OF HIS DEPTH

AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES (new)

EVERYTHING AND NOTHING: a HATER story (first time in print)

ALMOST FOREVER

THE LAST BIG THING

One of Us Will be Dead by Morning

Time flies. It’s a year now since ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNINGHATER book #4 (or The Final War book #1, depending on your perspective) – was released. I always harboured a sneaking suspicion that the book wouldn’t go down well with everyone and, well, I was right. Sales haven’t been as good as I’d hoped, and it’s my worst reviewed book on Goodreads. But lots of folks really like it. And I really like it. And it serves an important purpose.

When I decided to write a second HATER trilogy, I always knew I’d have to go right back to the beginning and introduce new characters. I also knew the book would need to be very different to HATER to emphasise the shift in perspective between the two trilogies. More than being a (very) self-contained survival horror story, though, ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING laid the groundwork for the next two books in the series – ALL ROADS END HERE and CHOKEHOLD (both of which will be published in 2019). And you know what? I think you’re going to have a blast with the direction the rest of the story is going to take.

ALL ROADS END HERE is a sequel to both ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING and HATER, and promotion will be kicking off in the new year. I’ll tell you lots more about the new book after Christmas, but if you’re nice and relaxed over the holiday period and you feel like a little hate-fuelled angst to go with your turkey and trimmings, why not re-read DOG BLOOD. Not wanting to give too much away, but you’re going to be meeting several familiar faces from the first HATER trilogy when ALL ROADS END HERE hits the shelves in February!

ALL ROADS END HERE

The other day a reader sent me a volley of abuse and called me a wanker because they didn’t like the end of TRUST. Oh well, you can’t please everyone! I was a lot happier with PUBLISHERS WEEKLY’s review of ALL ROADS END HERE. Warning – slight spoilers for ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING and the new book follow…

Moody’s suspenseful second Final War horror novel (after One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning), continuing the second series set in the bleak and anger-filled Hater world, is a gripping take on the zombie apocalypse. Many humans have inexplicably turned into Haters, creatures fueled by an unrelenting need to kill. Matthew Dunne has been away from home for three months, battling Haters to get back to his unnamed British city. His girlfriend is understandably surprised when he shows up at the door to their house, and as he learns the new rules of his tightly controlled city, the safer and happier life he had hoped for falls apart. Matt is a typical action hero, trying to protect his woman and prove he is smarter than everyone around him. As more information about the Haters is revealed, Matt’s need to learn more drives the plot forward. Some scenes feel rushed, especially after long sections of Matt surviving by waiting and staying still. Fans of zombie thrillers will not be disappointed.

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Coming soon – THE LAST BIG THING

Heads up: pre-orders will shortly be opening for THE LAST BIG THING – a collection of my favourite (generally non-zombie) short stories from the last 10 years. This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, but the timing has never been right. In the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you more about the contents. There are eight reprints, many of which are from old and/or hard to find collections, and three new stories. The new tales are shorts I’ve had planned or half-written for a while but which have, until now, never found the right home.

One particular story I’m pleased will finally be in print is EVERYTHING AND NOTHING, a HATER short story which takes place immediately before DOG BLOOD. Next February sees the release of ALL ROADS END HERE, which is a sequel to both ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING and HATER, so it’s perfect timing to be sending EVERYTHING AND NOTHING back out into the wild.

THE LAST BIG THING will be released through Infected Books in early December. It’ll be a hardback and ebook release, with a multi-narrator audiobook version to follow in 2019. And the cover art? Christ, it’s beautiful. Longtime collaborator CRAIG PATON has produced something special, and I’ll be revealing it in the coming weeks.

To make sure you don’t miss any updates, check back here regularly or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please also sign up to my junk-free mailing list here (and help yourself to a free ebook in the process).

Post-summer news update

Is it weird to collect copies of your own books? Maybe it is, but I don’t care. Have a look at this gorgeous little copy of HATER from Japan. It’s taken me a long time to get hold of it, but I’m pleased I did. It’s genuinely very tiny, and also very cool.

Anyway, as usually happens in the summer, I’ve had my head down writing for most of the time. I thought I’d better give you an update of what I’ve been working on. You wouldn’t think so judging from the infrequent updates here, but I’ve actually been really busy.

THE FINAL WAR
The second HATER trilogy is rapidly reaching its conclusion (I’ve taken a break from working on the final scene of book #3 – CHOKEHOLD – to bring you this update). Another quick reminder in case you missed it last time, book #2 – ALL ROADS END HERE – will be released in paperback, ebook and audiobook on 19 February 2019. If you want to bring yourself up to speed in readiness for the new books, I’d recommend reading ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING first, then (re)reading DOG BLOOD. ALL ROADS is a parallel sequel which exists in the same time frame and same location as DOG BLOOD. And it’s a blast. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

THE LAST BIG THING
As you may remember, ALL ROADS was originally scheduled for release this month, and now that it’s moved I have a gap in my publishing schedule. That’s going to be filled with the release of THE LAST BIG THING – a hardcover collection of some of my favourite short stories from those I’ve written over the years; many that are hard to get hold of, along with several more written specially for the collection. Release is tentatively scheduled for the end of October, and there will be more news soon.

GERMANY
You may have noticed that many of the German versions of my books are currently unavailable. Unfortunately two of the German-language publishers I work with stopped trading this year. I’m pleased to announce, though, that most of the titles will be re-released in German through Infected Books later this year.

AUDIO BOOKS
And at long last my back catalogue will shortly be available as audio books. STRANGERS will be the first release at the beginning of October, with THE COST OF LIVING the following month.

AND FINALLY…
This is a real unsubstantiated tease and I apologise in advance, but I just wanted to let you know that yes, THE HATER MOVIE is still very much alive and kicking and yes, I hope to have some concrete news to share before the end of the year.

And on that bombshell, it’s back to work!

All Roads End Here

The advance copies of ALL ROADS END HERE are in, and will be winging their way to reviewers shortly. Looking forward to hearing what people think of this book which picks up shortly after the events of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING. It’s a parallel sequel, which takes place in the same place and at the same time as DOG BLOOD.

The book is published in February next year by Thomas Dunne Books and is available to pre-order today. Not yet caught up with the FINAL WAR series? Pick up a copy of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING and experience the other half of the HATER story.

ALL ROADS END HERE – important update

Hello. Long time no speak. I’ve had my head down writing the final HATER book  – CHOKEHOLD – but I’m briefly coming up for air to bring you an important update about ALL ROADS END HERE.

On the whole, I’m pleased with how ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING has been received since its release last December. It’s still getting plenty of good press. Just this month, STARBURST magazine called it “a gripping, visceral read, glistening with gore and studded with extreme brutality and with a relentlessly downbeat tone which will please lovers of hard-edged apocalyptic fiction”, whilst SFBOOK REVIEW said it was “clever, convincing, claustrophobic fiction”. Just yesterday, GEEK SYNDICATE published their verdict, with Ian Simpson noting that by the end of the book “you’re likely to be standing in a pile of gore, or not standing at all.”

My publisher has been looking again at how we publish and market the second HATER trilogy, and we’ve decided that these are books which better suit a paperback release. ONE OF US… was hardcover only and is likely to stay that way until we’ve shifted more copies, but ALL ROADS END HERE and CHOKEHOLD will be released as paperbacks from the get-go.

In the case of ALL ROADS END HERE, this means that publication is going to be delayed, unfortunately. The book will now be released on February 12, 2019.

If you’ve pre-ordered the hardcover, please cancel your order. The paperback edition is already available for pre-order here.

Apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment. This is definitely the right approach for the series as a whole and I cannot wait for you to read the remaining books. In the meantime, can I suggest you re-read DOG BLOOD? You’ll be catching up with a few familiar faces in some unexpected places in ALL ROADS END HERE

And again, I’m sorry you’ll have to wait to read the new book. Rest assured I’m working on something to cushion the blow, and I hope to announce an upcoming release for 2018 very soon.

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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