A series of nuclear strikes has left huge swathes of the country uninhabitable. It’s a level playing field now: both Hater and Unchanged alike have to fight to stay alive. Both have retreated to their camps to regroup, less than twenty miles away from each other.
It’s here that the last major battle of the final war will inevitably be fought, but neither side has any idea what’s waiting for them just around the corner.
Both armies are ready to fight to the death, each of their leaders hell-bent on victory. Their tactics are uniformly simple: strike first, get the enemy in a chokehold, then strangle the life out of them.
It’s very bleak, very bloody, and I hope you enjoy it!
Just one week to go until CHOKEHOLD hits the shelves. Here’s the first chapter for you…
Fifteen Miles East of Cambridge
The first few enemy figures appear on the horizon, and the fighters lying in wait for them are desperate to engage, starved of conflict. It’s been too long. These fuckers have had it coming. These fuckers will be shown no mercy.
It’s taken weeks to get to this point. Every meter of mud has been fought for; every reclaimed centimeter of concrete and tarmac has been won at a cost. They’re not going to give it up now, not after all those sacrifices, all those lives lost. There’s no going back. It’s them or us.
Word of the approaching attackers spreads quickly along the front line, accompanied by a nervous tension that borders on excitement. Some of these men and women dare to dream that the bulk of the bloodshed is behind them now, that this is the last push of the final war. There’s an unspoken belief that each new bloom of violence will bring them closer to restoring some semblance of normality to what’s left of their lives.
The service station is accessed by a single road that splinters off what used to be one of the major routes into Cambridge. The main road had been midway through a massive, years-long rebuild-and-regeneration program when the war began, and here, alongside the services, lies the abandoned remains of a construction base the size of a small town. The fighters used the roadworks equipment to strengthen and fortify their position while secreting their armored vehicles and heavy weapons among the highway maintenance vans and flatbeds. Diggers were used to carve deep trenches at a distance from the main buildings, and the ballast, soil, and scree they excavated now protects the service station itself—great drifts of the stuff used to block access, strengthen walls, and camouflage metal and glass from view. Inside the building, the familiar plastic façades of long-gone restaurant chains and fast-food outlets remain, reminding people what they’ve lost. But the rawness of their pain is eased knowing that what they have here is more than almost everyone else.
Remember these little beauties? If you’ve been following my work since the early days, you might remember these bloody HATER t-shirts which were popular when the novel was originally released in 2009. Now, because lots of you have been asking, they’re back. Click here or on the image below for more details.
As regular readers will know, author CRAIG DILOUIE and I go back a long way. A glance through the archives of this site will show that I’m not just a friend of his I’m also a fan, and I was thrilled when he sent me a copy of his latest novel, OUR WAR.
Since finding huge success with zombie and apocalyptic novels like TOOTH AND NAIL and THE INFECTION, DiLouie’s also found an audience for his meticulously researched war novels, the CRASH DIVE series. In case you’d forgotten, DiLouie, Tim Long and I also co-wrote THE FRONT series, a World War II zombie mash-up which a lot of folks seemed to enjoy.
But DiLouie also writes books with far more personal themes. Of particular note is SUFFER THE CHILDREN, which looks at the lengths parents will go to in order to protect a child. His latest novel, OUR WAR, is set in the near future and, for me, it’s the most successful collision yet of the two strands of his fiction. OUR WAR is a prescient book, and a hard one to read, but it’s one I’d very much like to recommend you pick up.
When the president of the United States is impeached, but refuses to leave office, the country erupts into civil war.
10-year-old Hannah Miller, an orphan living in besieged Indianapolis, has joined a citizen’s militia. She had nowhere else to go. And after seeing the firsthand horrors of war, she’s determined to fight with the Free Women militia.
Hannah’s older brother, Alex, is a soldier too. But he’s loyal to the other side. After being separated from Hannah, he finds a home in a group calling themselves The Liberty Tree militia.
When a UNICEF worker and a reporter discover that both sides are using child soldiers, they set out to shine a light on something they thought could never happen in the United States. But it may be too late because even the most gentle children can find that they’re capable of horrific acts.
In many ways we live in an increasingly polarised society, with what can feel like irreparable divisions springing up between friends, families and communities. As you know, that’s a central theme of my HATER series, and having spent more than a decade studying and writing about intolerance, I’m worried that more than ever we’re spiralling towards the point of no return. You’ve only to look at the first line of the OUR WAR blurb to see how close to reality this piece of speculative fiction really is.
Huge thanks to everyone who has been helping spread the word about CHOKEHOLD. As promised in my last post, I’ll be sending out advance copies to a few randomly picked folks. I’m actually going to send more copies than I originally planned, so well done and thank you to Kerry, Bernie, Jess, Susan, Éric, Erika, Amanda and Suzanne – your books will be on the way shortly.
In Moody’s blood-soaked third Final War novel, Matthew Dunne and a handful of fellow survivors emerge from an underground bunker into a nuclear-blasted Britain still overrun with vicious, rage-fueled Haters, transformed humans whose overriding need is to kill Unchanged people like Matt. Beaten down and exhausted, Matt only wants to be left alone, but he’s drawn back into the fight when he and his group are taken to a fortified compound run by an old acquaintance, Estelle Bisseker, commanding officer of the Civil Defense Force. Estelle is eager to take the Haters down once and for all, but she’s not prepared for a massive cell of Haters that’s primed to wipe out the last of the Unchanged. When Matt spots a Hater in their midst, no one believes him, and he’s drugged, only to awaken to carnage. Matt sets out to find the rest of the group and warn them of the impending bloodbath. Moody toggles between the perspectives of the Haters and the Unchanged, eschewing nuance and peppering Matt’s harrowing journey with brutal fights that pave the way for all-out final battles. Fans of exceedingly bleak survival horror will be satisfied.
If, when my time is up, I’m ever asked to look back and recall pivotal moments in my life, the key writing-related moment I’d cite involves PAN’S LABYRINTH. It was 2006, and I’d just published HATER independently through Infected Books. The release had gone pretty well, and I was happy with how the book had been received. Then, out of the blue, I received an email from a production company in Los Angeles, enquiring about the availability of the film rights. Within a couple of weeks I was speaking to Mark Johnson (who went on to produce BREAKING BAD) about his vision for a film version of HATER. He asked me if I’d seen PAN’S LABYRINTH. I told him I had, and that I thought it was incredible. He said that was a relief, because he was hoping to get Guillermo del Toro to direct HATER.
Of course, as is often the way, things didn’t work out as planned. Del Toro became involved in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of THE HOBBIT and switched roles to produce HATER, only for the project to stall at a later stage. Even now, more than a decade later, I still get goosebumps thinking about how close we came to a del Toro adaptation of one of my books. And I know this post will inevitably result in folks asking questions about the current position of the HATER movie, so I’ll give you my stock answer: I had a meeting with the producer a week or so ago and the project is still very much alive and kicking. The script is in great shape and we’re just waiting for the stars to align. I’ll share more news the very second I’m able to.
Back to PAN’S LABYRINTH. It’s an astonishing film which rightly deserved the critical acclaim it received on release. Now, many years later, del Toro and author Cornelia Funke have adapted the story into a novel and, thanks to the publisher, I was recently able to read a copy. When I heard about the book I was concerned, and I struggled to understand why the story needed to be retold. Having read it, though, I totally get it. Remind yourself of the beauty of the film then read on below for my thoughts.
It’s 1944 and the Allies have invaded Nazi-held Europe. In Spain, a troop of soldiers are sent to a remote forest to flush out the rebels. They are led by Capitan Vidal, a murdering sadist, and with him are his new wife Carmen and her daughter from a previous marriage, 11-year-old Ofelia. Ofelia witnesses her stepfather’s sadistic brutality and is drawn into Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical world of mythical beings.
It’s always a thrill to hold the first print copies of a book, and this one is especially cool. CHOKEHOLD is the absolute final HATER novel. It’s a sequel to both DOG BLOOD and ALL ROADS END HERE, and a prequel to THEM OR US. Oh, and it’s a bloody, violent, brutal (and surprisingly uplifting) story. Copies will be on their way to reviewers shortly. You can pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Book Depository and all the other usual sources now. The book is published by St Martin’s Press and it hits the shelves on 19 November.
I get very jittery when I don’t post here for a while (I worry you’ll forget about me!) so this is me coming up for air to say a brief hello. Lots going on in the background as usual, all of which I’ll tell you about in due course. I’m neck-deep in a new novel at the moment, which is proving to be a real challenge as it’s like nothing I’ve written before.
Last week I re-read CHOKEHOLD to complete the final edits, and I really enjoyed it. I hope you will too (it’s released on 19 November). I think it ties the first and second HATER trilogies together nicely, and it does so in a way I don’t think you’ll be expecting.
The picture above is included as evidence that words are still being written and progress continues to be made. I’ve got a backlog of news about foreign language editions, audiobooks, new projects, film and book recommendations, and re-releases of old novels by friends which I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon.