On Saturday I wrote a piece about ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and it was clear from the number of comments, re-tweets etc. I received that it’s a film a lot of people have a lot of love for. The movie I want to talk about today, however, is, in my opinion, far less satisfying.
James DeMonaco’s 2013 movie THE PURGE starts with a broadly similar premise to EFNY, in that in order to try and cope with a crime rate that’s spiralled out of control, the US government is forced to try a radical new approach. This is the titular Purge – a brief period of time once each year when all criminal activity is legalised. Read the synopsis, watch the trailer, then follow the link for my brief thoughts.
In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity-including murder-becomes legal. The police can’t be called. Hospitals suspend help. It’s one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s five years today since HATER was re-released by Thomas Dunne Books in the US and Gollancz here in the UK. It’s no exaggeration to say that little book changed my life. Before its release I’d been doing fairly well for myself publishing the first three AUTUMN books through Infected Books and I’d been planning to expand. I launched HATER with the intention of kick-starting a new series, but I had no idea what would happen next.
Within a couple of months, with less than a thousand copies having been sold, I was approached about the film rights. That deal went on to see Guillermo del Toro, J A Bayona (director of The Impossible and the forthcoming World War Z 2) and Mark Johnson (producer of Breaking Bad, amongst other things) involved with my book, and led to the HATER series being picked up for publication in many countries around the world.
So please join me in saying Happy Birthday HATER! If you haven’t read the book, visit wwwhttp://davidmoody.net/books/hater/ to find out more. And here, for old time’s sake, is a viral video released by Thomas Dunne to support the original release.
And no – I don’t have any news about the movie (I’ll update here if I do). But yes – one way or another I’m determined there WILL be a HATER film eventually!
My dad recently asked me why I’d rewritten STRAIGHT TO YOU. A perfectly valid question, to which I had two immediate answers…
I still love the story but I hate the original version of the book.
I think I’m a much better writer now than I was twenty years ago.
…but there’s more to it than that.
STRAIGHT TO YOU is the last of my pre-AUTUMN and pre-HATER novels to be brushed down and re-released. You might remember I did the same with TRUST a couple of years back, but STRAIGHT TO YOU is a different kettle of fish altogether. When I re-wrote TRUST I worked, to an extent, from the original manuscript. With STRAIGHT TO YOU, however, I didn’t go anywhere near the 1996 book. In the introduction to the 2014 edition I’ve written that ‘the title, the premise, a couple of scenes and the characters’ names are all that remain from the original,’ and that’s pretty much it. One of the beta-readers who’d read the original described the new book as ‘an impossible sequel’, and I think that’s an interesting way of looking at it.
The biggest thing that’s changed between the two versions of the book is me. As well as having a load of books under my belt, I’m a very different person from the dumb young bugger who started writing STRAIGHT TO YOU back in January 1994. I’m a husband and a dad now, I write for a living, I have bills and responsibilities, I’ve been through some great times and some very shitty times… When I look back at the original version of the book I’m amazed at how naïve it now feels. The characters are as flat and two-dimensional as I was back then, the relationships between them less plausible than the end of the world scenario they’re supposedly living through. I think that’s down to the fact that when I first wrote the book, I hadn’t really lived.
So what can you expect from the new version? Well, this time around, Steven and Sam are far removed from the sickeningly clichéd young, star-crossed lovers of the original. They’ve been around the block a few times. They’re married, and they’ve just lost a baby. They’re not in a good place. They have problems which feel more pressing than the impending end of the world. I’m not giving anything away when I tell you circumstances drive the two of them apart at the worst possible moment, and that the bulk of the book follows Steven’s journey to reach his wife before the very end of everything.
But that journey, for me, is the key reason why I’ve rewritten the book after so long. Steven now has a real purpose to his quest; it’s not just some gallant (and probably misguided) mad dash across the country to spend time with a woman he’s just met. There are tangible consequences to his every move – what he gains with one hand, he loses from the other. To me, STRAIGHT TO YOU now feels more realistic and much more emotional. It feels firmly rooted in the real world. I think it packs a real punch, and I can’t wait for folks to finally get to read it.
Straight to You will be released a month from today. By now I’m sure you know it’s a complete re-write of my debut novel, so the story has been around a fair while. I wanted to tell you about the time the book almost became a movie…
I was in two minds as to whether or not I should post this, but why not. I’ve removed all the names and other identifying details to protect the innocent (more to protect me, actually), but you’ll still be able to get the gist of this cautionary tale. This is an example of how the corporate entertainment machine can ‘acquire’ ideas. Though it’s probably all just coincidence (he adds quickly for legal reasons).
Given how much information I’ve deliberately missed out, I wasn’t sure how best to tell this story. I decided to use the power of Bitstrips.
It all starts back in 2007. When the film rights to Hater were sold, I suddenly had a lot of people very interested in my books.
I received an email from the production company behind some very famous films. They were asking about Hater initially, but then they started looking at my lesser-known books. As you’d expect, I was really, really excited.
I did say at the beginning of 2013 that you probably wouldn’t hear very much from me this year and I was right. Apart from the re-release of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, I feel like I’ve hardly put my head above the surface. That’s going to change in 2014. Remember this image I posted in September?
Left to right: the 17 DAYS, STRANGERS and STRAIGHT TO YOU manuscripts in various stages of completion!
These three manuscripts have taken up most of my year, but I’m pleased to say they’re now finished. STRANGERS has been through the beta-read process and come out the other side (thanks to those who read it and provided feedback), and 17 DAYS is currently with my agent. But it’s STRAIGHT TO YOU that I want to talk about today.
One of the things I’ve been doing since I finished both the HATER and AUTUMN series last year has been revisiting my older work to try and bring it up to scratch. I felt a real need to clear the decks of older material before moving onto anything new. When I signed with Thomas Dunne Books back in 2008, these novels fell through the cracks and I didn’t want them to be forgotten. The rewritten version of TRUST was released in July 2012, and this year saw AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION back in print in a completely revised and newly expanded edition. Now it’s the turn of the final ‘missing book’ – STRAIGHT TO YOU – to get a lick of paint, except on this occasion the changes are more than just cosmetic.
I’m planning several posts about the book over the coming weeks. I’ll tell you about the substantial differences between the old and new versions, why I’ve rewritten the book, the adventures I’ve had with approaches for the film rights, why I’m re-releasing it now and how that’s going to happen, and more besides. But for today, I guess all you need to know is this: the re-written, re-edited and repackaged STRAIGHT TO YOU will be released through Infected Books on 14 February 2014 (yes, I’ve gone for Valentine’s Day… what better date for a heartbreaking apocalyptic romance?). It’ll be available as an ebook and trade paperback.
“The sun is dying. The temperature around the world is rising by the hour with no sign of any respite. It won’t be long before all life on Earth is extinguished. It might be weeks, it might be days… we may only have hours. Society is crumbling. The burning world is rapidly descending into chaos.
Steven Johnson’s wife is hundreds of miles away and all that matters is reaching her before the end. He has to act now, no time to stop and think. Every second is precious. Tomorrow is too late.”
If you’re a fan of the original book, don’t worry. The spirit of the story has definitely been maintained. Even though it’s very nearly twenty years since I began writing the first version of the book and it’s my lowest selling title by some margin, people still regularly stop me to talk about STRAIGHT TO YOU. The story still holds up today, perhaps even more so than back in the late nineties. I don’t mind admitting that I still cried like a baby when I typed the final scenes this time around! I’m looking forward to giving the book the release I think it deserves and bringing it to a much wider audience in early 2014.
In early 2009, around about the time HATER was released, I spent a lot of time mooching around various dark corners of the Internet wondering what people were saying about my book. On many genre sites I visited I remember seeing the distinctive covers for Joseph D’Lacey’s books, MEAT and GARBAGE MAN. Who is this D’Lacey character, I wondered, and how come he’s got a quote from Stephen King on his books (D’Lacey Rocks!)? I thought we were destined to become adversaries, competing against each other to try and conquer the UK horror market.
But it’s not all been plain sailing. Publishing is a fickle and sometimes cruel business, and through no fault of his own, MEAT and GARBAGE MAN failed to have the impact they should have. He told me “Going out of print is something I think a writer can quietly live with, difficult though it is to accept that a book’s life is over. However, having your books withdrawn from sale because your publisher goes bust is a situation most writers probably never even anticipate. It certainly came as a shock to me! I’d always believed that of my two Beautiful Books titles, MEAT was the one with the potential to grow a long tail. When the administrators stepped in at the end of 2011, though, I had to face the fact that any tail it was growing had been severed.”
Fast forward to today, and with a new agent, a new publisher and an expanding back catalogue behind him, both MEAT and GARBAGE MAN have been reborn. Not just reborn – revitalized. “The reissue was a perfect opportunity to improve the novels, so we edited them again and had them re-proofed. Garbage Man was originally published with all sorts of typos and problems with scene breaks. All that has been fixed. I’ve rewritten the acknowledgments section in each book, to make sure everyone who’s helped since their first publication gets a mention, and there’s a section of extra content in both novels. MEAT gets a new preface and Garbage Man a new afterword. The covers have been redesigned too, of course, and the eBooks are enhanced with extra content. I couldn’t be happier with the result.”
Want to spoil a friend or loved one’s Christmas with a little end of the world misery? Looking for something apocalyptic to usher in the new year? Or maybe you’re not a festive person yourself… are you happier in the company of Haters, aliens and the living dead than snowmen, reindeers and Santa Claus? If so, www.infectedbooks.co.uk is the place for you.
Yes I know… I’ve gone quiet on you again. That’s largely because I’m trying to get three novels finished before the end of October (see my recent update here).
I realised that I hadn’t mentioned the campaign recently started by a few of Moody’s Survivors to give Hollywood a hint and see if we can’t get the HATER movie moving forward (there are positive signs, but a little push wouldn’t hurt…). There’s a Facebook page here which I’d love for you to like and share if you feel so inclined. So the position is this: the movie rights were recently re-optioned by Mark Johnson and Guillermo del Toroet al, and J A Bayona (who was previously attached to direct) has mentioned the project a couple of times in recent interviews in connection with his excellent movie, THE IMPOSSIBLE. With THE WALKING DEAD continuing to do great business and with the WORLD WAR Z movie taking everybody by surprise and being a huge hit this summer, a lot of you seem to think – and, of course, I completely agree – that the time is right for the HATER film.
Hopefully I’ll have some more concrete news for you in the very near future. In the meantime, I thought it would be good to run a competition to keep the project in the public eye. All you have to do is design a HATER-themed T-shirt to promote either the books, the film, or the campaign to get the movie made.
Either post your design on Facebook or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of October. By that time I’ll have employed a top-notch judging panel (I’m looking at you, Survivors!) who I’ll ask to pick a winner. As well as receiving a few signed books and other odds and ends, the winner will also have their design printed up and made available for sale via the Infected Bookstore.
Paul’s back with a new novella – SLEEPER(S). It’s a great book with a real Quatermass-like vibe to it, and I was honoured to be asked to write the introduction. Here’s the blurb:
“The sleepy English locality of Middletown is about to get even sleepier, as a strange malady starts to affect the population. It spreads quickly, causing the authorities to quarantine this small city, and seek out the only person who might be able to help: Doctor Andrew Strauss. However, Strauss has a secret, one that has linked him to this place all his life, one that has linked him to a particular person there, though he doesn’t yet know who. But he’s not the only one hiding things – and as he ventures into Middletown to collect samples with an army escort, a mixture of UK and US troops, cracks soon begin to appear in the operation. Especially when his team come up against the most terrifying threat humankind has ever known…”
I have a feeling many of you might have missed this first time around…
Just prior to the release of DOG BLOOD back in June 2010, I released EVERYTHING AND NOTHING, a free HATER short story which takes place just prior to the events of the second book in the series. It goes without saying, if you haven’t yet read HATER, read that first. It also goes without saying, it’s a HATER story, so expect copious amounts of violence.
“The world has fallen apart with incredible speed and brutality. Your only choice now is how hard you fight – hate or be hated, kill or be killed.
With the war between the Haters and Unchanged increasing in intensity, Danny McCoyne drifts from fight to fight, from battle to battle. His old life is over. This is all he has now. But a chance incident on the battlefield changes everything, bringing him back into contact with everything he thought he’d lost forever.”