Time flies. It’s a year now since ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – HATER 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 bothONE 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And at long last my back catalogue will shortly be available as audio books. STRANGERSwill be the first release at the beginning of October, with THE COST OF LIVING the following month.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A fairly predictable film recommendation from me today. I make no secret of the fact that I owe GUILLERMO DEL TORO big time. I’ve never met the man, never even spoken to him directly, but it’s no exaggeration to say that he changed my life. His endorsement of HATER and the movie he almost produced helped propel my gruesome little book from its modest indie roots to a worldwide release which exceeded my wildest expectations. I was trawling through some old clippings the other day and I came across an old interview with him where he talked about it: “…what I love about the premise is that there is a righteousness. It’s not a viral situation, not a contagion, it’s a situation of a social disease. That we can road rage into murdering someone at any second. That it’s a social epidemic is what attracted me. It’s not a zombie movie. The people that kill the people can rationalise why they did it. That’s what is scary about it.”
You can understand why this was such a big deal, but what made it an even bigger deal was the fact I was a huge Guillermo del Toro fan even before this happened. I happened upon a copy of his first movie, CRONOS, shortly after it was released in 1993, and I’d followed his career with interest since then. Or was that his careers? He seems to occupy a unique position whereby he alternates big budget crowd pleasing movies like HELLBOY and PACIFIC RIM with more personal films such as THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and PAN’S LABYRINTH. His most recent movie, for which he picked up the best director and best picture Oscars at this year’s Academy awards, seems to have brought both of these strands of film-making together.
The premise is simple, the film is outstanding: At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
It’s been an odd few weeks (though, to be honest, I’ve forgotten what a normal few weeks is supposed to feel like). I’ve spent a lot of time travelling, culminating in my first trip to Iceland which was the single most surprising and invigorating place I’ve been in a long time. Seriously, if we get word that the end of the world is imminent, I’m booking myself another ticket over there. It’s a remarkably quiet, remote, welcoming, and self-contained country. More about that another time. I’m sure I’ll set a book there one day.
Right now, though, my mind is focused on the setting for one of my earlier versions of the apocalypse – the town of Lowestoft, as featured in THEM OR US, the final book in the first HATER trilogy. At the moment I’m outlining CHOKEHOLD – the final book in the second HATER trilogy (hope you’re keeping up with all these book numbers!) which bridges the gap between the end of DOG BLOOD/ALL ROADS END HERE and THEM OR US.
I wanted to brush up on my HATER history, so I’ve worked my way through the original books while I’ve been developing the new series. It’s a weird feeling when you go back and read your own work. I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but it always catches me by surprise. I remember most of the plot twists and can finish many lines in my head long before my eyes have reached the full-stop at the end of the sentence, and yet there always seems to be plenty I’ve forgotten too. I’ve enjoyed reading HATER and DOG BLOOD for the first time in years, but THEM OR US has been a different experience altogether because reading it followed the recent passing of my mother-in-law.
Betty was the indirect inspiration for THEM OR US. I’ve written here before about how my in-laws’ decision to relocate to Lowestoft in 2004 resulted in me getting to know this most unusual of towns. I’ve a real personal affection for the place, but because of its geographic location (it’s the most easterly point in the UK), it’s often overlooked. Generally, you don’t go to Lowestoft unless you’re going to Lowestoft. It’s not on the way to anywhere, and in many ways it feels like the end of the line. It has a suitably apocalyptic edge which made it the perfect setting for Danny McCoyne’s last stand.
It’s taken Matthew Dunne almost three months to get home. Never more than a few metres from the Haters at any time, every single step has been fraught with danger. But he’s made it.
In his absence, his home city has become a sprawling, walled-off refugee camp. But the camp – and the entire world beyond its borders – is balanced on a knife-edge. During his time in the wilderness, Matt developed a skill which is in high demand: the ability to anticipate and predict Hater behaviour. It’s these skills that will thrust him into a web of subterfuge and danger. As the pressure mounts inside the camp, he finds himself under scrutiny from all sides.
He’s always done his best to avoid trouble, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The shit’s about to hit the fan, and this time Matt’s right at the epicentre.