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…
“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.”
The film adaptation of THE RITUAL opened in the UK last weekend, and knowing the book well and having had opportunity to discuss the production of the film with Adam (and the frustrations of film-making for authors – which we talked about on a panel in Liverpool recently – photo below courtesy of Dan Burgess Photography) I was keen to watch it. It didn’t disappoint.
Here’s the blurb and the trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts.
Four old university friends reunite for a hiking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle. No longer young men, they have little left in common and tensions rise as they struggle to connect. Frustrated and tired they take a shortcut that turns their hike into a nightmare that could cost them their lives.
Lost, hungry and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, they stumble across an isolated old house. Inside, they find the macabre remains of old rites and pagan sacrifices; ancient artefacts and unidentifiable bones. A place of dark ritual and home to a bestial presence that is still present in the ancient forest, and now they’re the prey.
As the four friends struggle toward salvation they discover that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees…
I’m really excited that HATER is the first book to be featured on IN THE SHEETS, a new podcast from Brendan Cooney. Each month, Brendan and his audience will pick two books to read, review, and discuss. The author will introduce the book at the beginning of the month, then take part in an extended podcast towards the end of the month to answer any questions and meet the readers.
First reviews are coming in for the new HATER book, and I’m pleased folks seem to be enjoying it. Here’s the KIRKUS review of the book… They’re saying it’s “another wetwork nightmare that should delight fans of Haters and intrigue writers who wallow in the genre” which sounds good to me!
I’ve told you a lot about it, but I don’t think I’ve properly explained why I’ve been writing a second HATER trilogy. Is it a cynical cash in? A cheap way to drum up interest in my books again after a quiet couple of years? The answer to both those questions is a very definite ‘no’.
The new trilogy has its roots in some of the many movie-related discussions I’ve had about the books over the years. On numerous occasions, producer Ed Barratt and I have talked about TV adaptations (and we came tantalisingly close to getting that off the ground at the turn of this year but, as is so often the way, our plans unravelled at the last moment). Ed and I discussed the issues we’d face trying to translate HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US to the small screen. Part of the attraction of the books is the fact they focus exclusively on one man’s story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this relatively narrow approach might present problems from a theatrical point of view.
One of the recurring themes of the series is ‘who is the bad guy?’. When the outbreak (or whatever it is) begins in HATER, the natural assumption is that the Haters are the villains. But, for various reasons, we later start to question that assumption, particularly when the extent of the actions taken by the Unchanged to keep themselves safe is revealed. It’s clear that both sides are capable of doing whatever they have to do to survive, and this comes to a head at the end of DOG BLOOD. I’ll be vague in case you’ve not yet read the books (come on, keep up!), but a pretty unspeakable act is carried out by someone. It’s particularly shocking, because that act has huge ramifications for both sides and every surviving individual, Hater and Unchanged alike.
So that got me thinking, are the Unchanged as innocent as I initially thought? Are the Haters as evil and ferocious as they appear? Do the lines ever blur? Are there weaker Haters and stronger Unchanged? How clear is the distinction between the two?
With the release of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – the first book in the second HATER trilogy – fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to start showing you how the two series are connected. They both tell different stories, but there are shared events and locations and… and I’m not going to tell you much more just yet.
With apologies for my limited graphics skills, here’s a handy timeline:
It’s been so long since I posted about this I bet you’d forgotten about it. Or I bet you thought I’d forgotten about it. I first announced THE SPACES BETWEEN back in 2014 – it’s a long, multi-volume horror/ science-fiction series which is, for wont of a better description, like CHILDREN OF MEN meets BREAKING BAD (with a healthy dash of BLADE RUNNER to boot). It’s going to be good. Damn good. I’ve been keeping you waiting for years and… and I’m unfortunately going to be keeping you waiting a while longer yet. The first books are still more than a year away.
Those of you who’ve been following my work for a while will know that the last few years have not gone to plan. Various personal and family issues have repeatedly derailed my writing, and my family and I are right in the middle of another wave right now which is substantially affecting my ability to write. By the end of this year, however, we should be back to business as usual.
But it’s not all doom and gloom around here… a substantial amount of work is still getting done (just not as much as I’d like). THE OTHER HALF (HATER #5) is coming along nicely and will be delivered to my editor shortly. After that I’ll be writing AXXXXX: XXXXXX – a top secret novel I haven’t told anyone about – which should take me through to the end of 2017. In the new year I’ll be diving straight into THE LAST SUMMER (HATER #6), and then I’ll be cracking on with THE SPACES BETWEEN.
At this point I should add that all those folks who won the competition I ran back in 2014 to appear as named characters in the books will all still appear as planned. Apologies, folks, for the unavoidable delay.
Even though I’ve hardly written a word of the series, I’ve been doing plenty of planning. Part of the issue I’ve had is that it’s a HUGE story, and the overall length has fluctuated wildly during the planning process. There’s a lot of world-building to be done, but I’ve taken the decision to separate a lot of that out from the main narrative. So what began as a five book series has now ballooned to nine books which will, in effect, be two separate series which will conclude with a single final novel. The extra books will be THE SHADOWS BETWEEN – the future histories of key events which will define the world of THE SPACES BETWEEN. My plan is that the books will be released in pairs – one from each thread of the story at a time.
You’ve got to trust me on this – it’s all going to be worth the wait. I’m just sorry it’s taking such a long time!
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