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.
Well, the final tweaks have just gone off to my editor so I guess I can now announce that the HATER story will continue on 25 September 2018 with the second novel in THE FINAL WAR series: ALL ROADS END HERE. The action picks up a couple of months after the events of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING and whilst I’m not able to share any specific plot details with you just yet, I can confirm that ALL ROADS takes place in the same location and at the same time as DOG BLOOD. Can’t wait for you to read it.
This will be my last post of 2017, so I just wanted to wish everyone the very best for the holiday season. I hope you and your loved ones have a great time. I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s picked up the new book over the last couple of weeks. ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING has proved to be as polarising as I’d expected. Readers seem to have either really enjoyed it, or they’ve really, really hated it. That’s good! I’d hate for the book to have been met with a shrug of indifference. Here’s a round up of some recent reviews.
“Like the best crime fiction, the violence in One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning has emotional power. You feel it as a reader. You get to see all the physical and emotional scars the cast inflict and the ones they come to bear. When you add that to the book’s great cast, its exciting twists and turns, and the chilling mystery at hand, you’ve got one hell of a novel.” – www.criminalelement.com
“A near-perfect example of humanity fucking up as our last card is played.” – www.dlsreviews.com
“…there are times you want a slow, gentle gothic novel on a warm summer day, and then some days you want to rip and roar through a good, fast read. That’s David Moody for you.” – www.ghastlygrinning.com
“David Moody has a knack for making me feel like a fly on the wall, right there amongst the action but not noticed by the players. One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning brought me within a hair of the Haters and their violence, while I remained nothing but an observer.” – www.2bookloversreviews.com
“David Moody’s Hater series has proven itself worthy of the great post-apocalyptic horror stories and One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning is no slouch of a sequel/fresh start. Fear stems from isolation and rumor, only to be reinforced by quick and brutal violence. This is gut-wrenchingly realistic survival horror.” – horror-underground.com
“Think of a mashup of George Romero and Agatha Christie, and you might have an idea of what awaits you.” – www.20somethingreads.com
A clickbait post title if ever there was one, but there’s a genuine point to this so bear with me. It begins many years ago, when I worked as a manager in a processing centre for a bank, looking after around 100 staff as we wound our centre down to a close. The work we did was being farmed out to newly opened sites overseas, where it could be done at a fraction of the cost, leaving my team and I redundant. I’m glad it happened, all things considered, because leaving the bank gave me a chance to take Infected Books to the next level and turn my part-time writing hobby into a full-time career.
But that’s not what this post is about. I was working on AUTUMN: PURIFICATION at the time, and having to deal with the redeployment of so many people in the real world brought unexpected benefits to my writing. I was able to release my stresses on the page (ever wondered where the inspiration for Samurai sword-wielding Harry Stayt came from?), and if I found myself becoming frustrated by my bosses, members of my team, or other people I was having to deal with at the time, I’d often picture them as a zombie and give them a particularly gruesome death in the book (without mentioning any names, of course, as I’d already got enough to deal with without being sued by anyone who took objection).
My new book which came out last week, ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING, has again reminded me of the usefulness of creating characters based on facets of people you know or who you’ve had interactions with. I find that it really helps keep them grounded and real, and if the characters in a horror novel are believable, it can add an enormous amount of weight to the emotion and impact of the vile situations you drop them into.
At the weekend I went away with my wife, and on the way home we stopped at Crosby Beach near Liverpool where Antony Gormley’s spectacular ANOTHER PLACE is installed. If you’ve not come across it before, it’s a series of 100 cast iron figures placed facing out to sea across a 2 mile stretch of beach. We visited on an ice-cold, exceptionally windy day, and that added to the impact of the sculpture. There’s something really affecting about seeing so many motionless (and emotionless) figures being buffeted and beaten by the waves. It felt quite dystopian, and the picture I took which I’ve posted here reminded me both of Danny McCoyne in THEM OR US, and Matthew Dunne at the beginning of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING. These characters are the intentional antithesis of each other, and both play pivotal roles in their respective trilogies as you’ll discover as the new series progresses.
When I was at a particularly low ebb a few years ago and my creative spark had been snuffed out, my wise wife said to me ‘how can you write about people anymore when you don’t know any?’. She was right, of course. I’d become a bit of a recluse, and my writing had suffered. I went back to work in an office, intending to stay there for a few months, and I’m still there after more than 3 years (and just by way of an aside, I now manage a team doing pretty much exactly the job I had Danny McCoyne doing in HATERall those years ago!). Though I have less time to write, the writing I produce is far, far better now that I’m mixing with other people on a daily basis again, and dealing with all the emotions of those interactions, both positive and negative. For me, the benefits of having a completely separate day job are clear, and right now it’s something I wouldn’t want to be without.
And that’s the reason for this post, I guess. ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING has been my first major release for some time, and it’s the first novel in which I’ve used characters inspired by the people I’ve recently worked with. Being around such a wide range of people while I’ve been writing the new HATER novels has been bizarrely therapeutic. I don’t really advocate killing your work colleagues, but do take inspiration from them. If you’re anything like me, it’ll help you in both your writing and non-writing careers. It’ll improve the quality of your characters, and it’ll help you get through those challenging business meetings as you imagine the horrific ending you’re going to give to the person currently giving you an ear-bending…
So thanks to the real Ronan Heggarty and Paul O’Keefe, for the inspiration they’ve both unwittingly provided. You don’t know who you are, but I do!
First, the second HATER trilogy now has a name. My editor and I racked our brains long and hard about what to call the new series, and we went through a number of options before settling on our final choice. Cast your minds back to THEM OR US, and you’ll be able to find the genesis for the title… there’s no going back for the human race after the events of the HATER books. The fighting will continue until there’s no one left, so there’s no question that this is THE FINAL WAR.
Second bit of news – the ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING audiobook is also out this week from Macmillan Audio. The excellent chap who narrated the previous HATER audiobooks, Gerard Doyle, is back behind the microphone. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.
I’d like to close this little pre-release round-up with a few words on the new book from Chris Hall of DLS Reviews. Chris has been following my work for a long time and he writes some of the most well-considered reviews on the web. So you can imagine how pleased I was when he finished off his review of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING with these comments:
This is Moody doing what he does best. This is his natural environment. His turf. This is how he writes his very best work. And it’s utterly, uncompromisingly, gut-wrenching stuff. The novel rips you out of your safe and snug world and thrusts you into an environment where anyone can turn on you in the blink of an eye. It’s hard-hitting, head-poundingly tense, and drenched from head to toe in blood-splattered cruelty.
A near-perfect example of humanity fucking up as our last card is played.
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…