Very pleased to announce that BOOKTRACK have released soundtracks to ISOLATION, THE COST OF LIVING and STRANGERS. If you’ve never listened to/read a booktrack before, you’re in for a treat. You get the entire ebook which is synchronised to a soundtrack of music and effects designed to enhance the reading experience. And believe me, it really does.
To celebrate the launch of these three titles, I’ve written a guest blog over at the Booktrack site in which I talk about how music affects my writing. And I’ve even shared the writing playlist I use which has grown organically over many years. I hope you enjoy the booktracks. Please let me know what you think.
Remember me? I know… it’s been deathly quiet around here lately. As I keep saying, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes that I can’t talk about yet (don’t you just hate it when people post that kind of empty, bullshit comment and leave you hanging?!).
I’ve been intending to write this piece for a while, but I didn’t know how to start or when to post it. Today’s the day. Today, if you didn’t know, is Time to Talk day and like thousands of other people, I’m taking five minutes to talk about my experiences with the aim of breaking the silence (and stigma) around mental health. Please don’t switch off. Please read through to the end.
You see, last May, my world fell apart. My personal life, my relationships, my health, my career – everything crumbled and collapsed. None of it made sense anymore, and I couldn’t see a way to start repairing the damage. Hell, I didn’t even know if I wanted to fix things.
That might sound overdramatic, but that’s exactly how it felt. One day everything was fine, the next… Well it still makes me go cold thinking about those days. I’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months since then trying to put everything back together and make sense of what happened, and if there hadn’t been such a stigma about mental health, I think that perhaps my meltdown could have been avoided or at least lessened.
I’d always been the big man. I’d done pretty well in everything I tried to do. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, it’s just the way I am. I work hard. Sometimes too hard. Five years ago I felt invincible with a great family, good health, a lovely home and a career that felt like it was skyrocketing. A couple of years back, though, something changed. We moved house, and I fulfilled my writing obligations. Then, all of a sudden, nothing. Bigger bills, no book deals. I felt increasingly disconnected from everything and everyone, and became increasingly reclusive. My mood changed. I was banging my head against a brick wall. The words didn’t stop coming, but the flood of books I was producing reduced to a slow trickle. I stopped being excited by writing, and it began to feel like a chore. Stories remained uncompleted. Ideas were shelved. I spent more time thinking about what I should have been doing, than actually doing any of it.
I’ll cut a long story short: I was pretty seriously depressed, and I had no idea at all. Or maybe I did know, I just didn’t want to accept it…
Last summer everything came to a head. And contrary to how it felt at the time, being diagnosed with depression wasn’t the end of my world; instead it was a chance to press reset, to get myself back on track, and to learn to love myself and my world again.
Forgive me if that sounds a little saccharine and cliched, because it happens to be true. Thanks to an incredible family, a great GP, and a bunch of other wonderful folk, things are moving in the right direction. I’ve gone back to non-writing work to make sure I mix with other people, and I’m loving the buzz of spending time with folks again. I was worried it might have meant the end of my writing, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve written the first draft of a new novel since 1 January. There’s progress on a number of long-gestating projects. Infected Books is growing exponentially. I’m more excited by writing than ever.
As I said at the beginning, it’s Time to Talk day today (find out more about it here and here), and the aim of the day is to reduce some of the stigma around mental health. Lots of people suffer, and a large number continue to suffer in silence. I think I’d known for a long time what was wrong, I just didn’t want to admit it. Bloody hell, I wish I’d been more honest with myself. It would have saved me (and the people I love the most) a heck of a lot of pain and heartache.
I’m a writer, and this site is supposed to be about my books and films, so I’ll finish this piece by bringing it back to the business of writing. Regular visitors here will remember my series of writing articles ‘What Works for Me.’ You might have noticed they dried up around the same time I imploded last spring. It’s been incredibly interesting to look back at the books I’ve written over the last two years or so in light of what I’ve discovered about myself, because if I wasn’t outwardly honest with myself about my health, I definitely had some inkling of what was going on as I’d been writing about my problems all along. I only have to look at the male characters I’d created… there’s Steven Johnson from STRAIGHT TO YOU – a man who is on the verge of losing absolutely everything because he can’t bring himself to face his own demons. There’s Stuart from THE COST OF LIVING – a belligerent, stubborn bugger who’s set on his course and who won’t listen to anyone else, even when they’re clearly right and he’s so very obviously wrong. And then, finally, there’s Scott Griffiths from STRANGERS. I’ve had a huge reaction to Scott, not least because he’s an absolute shit: a total, wretched scumbag who outwardly appears to be dedicated to his family, but who has a seriously warped view of right and wrong and no appreciation of how his behaviour affects those around him. I was terrified and stunned when I read the book back just prior to publication and realised I’d been writing about aspects of myself.
Things are good today. Thanks for sticking with me. There’s some really exciting stuff on the horizon.
While I’ve got my head down working on new projects (and that’s what I am doing, honest), I’m also trying to catch up on an ever-increasing backlog of emails, blurbs, business things to organise, and so on. Sometimes things slip through the net, and I have a feeling that’s what might have happened here. I can’t remember posting about the ebook version of LAST OF THE LIVING.
You’ll probably remember that I released a couple of Kindle-exclusive zombie novellas last year: THE COST OF LIVING and ISOLATION. Together with various other zombie shorts (some reprints, others written specifically for the project), these stories amounted to around 90,000 words of fiction, which is about the length of a novel.
I’m conscious that not everyone like ebooks, so we released all this undead goodness in print as LAST OF THE LIVING. You can find out more about the collection here, and signed copies are available direct from Infected Books or from Amazon or eBay. In keeping with the Infected Books ebook ethos, if you buy the paperback edition of LAST OF THE LIVING – from any source – you’re entitled to download a complementary ebook version. And here’s the bit I don’t think I made clear before: the complementary ebook is available for Nook, iBooks and Kobo as well as Kindle.
Apologies to anyone who’s held off reading the stories because of format issues.
Happy New Year to you all. I thought I’d kick off 2015 with a quick look back at my 2014 releases (just in case you missed any), and a peek at my plans for 2015. Despite being a pig of a year for me on many levels, I was surprisingly productive, releasing two full-length novels (STRAIGHT TO YOU and STRANGERS), a zombie novella collection (LAST OF THE LIVING, which included ISOLATION and THE COST OF LIVING along with a number of other shorts), and the long-overdue limited edition hardcover of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH.
So what does 2015 hold? There’s a lot being planned behind the scenes, and I thought I’d pile the pressure on myself by announcing the major projects I’m working on this year. Notice there are no timescales quoted here (I never seem to keep to them anyway!) but this is the order I’m tackling these novels.
My first middle-grade novel. Think ET meets GODZILLA and you’re halfway there.
THE SPACES BETWEEN: ELYSIAN FIELDS
The first book in my long-teased horror/ science-fiction/ noir crime series. If you’ve not heard me talking about this one before, here’s a quick tease: Several years ago London was destroyed in a white-hot nuclear haze. Millions of people were displaced, and huge numbers ended up in rapidly constructed newcities like Elysian Fields. Designed to house around one hundred thousand, the population of Elysian Fields is several times that. It’s a dangerous, sprawling hell-hole of a place ruled by gangs, violence and fear. When a prominent business leader’s son disappears, social worker Greg Dawson becomes embroiled in the mission to snatch him back. But the more Dawson discovers about Elysian Fields, the more he comes to realise there’s a huge gulf between what we’re being told and reality. In the spaces between the two, absolutely everything changes.
Yes, I know… I’ve finished this book twice already, but I’ve still not got it quite right. I had a rollercoaster year last year, and in the midst of all the ups and downs, I’ve realised where I was going wrong. Mark Thane is a downtrodden and overlooked nobody. When he discovers he only has 17 days left to live, he’s forced to question everything. The country is on the verge of revolution, and Mark unwittingly finds himself at the eye of the storm. This time last week no one knew who Mark Thane was. By the time his number’s up, the entire world will be watching his every move.
A sick and twisted love story. Adam’s wife died last summer. He’s not going to let her die again.
So there you go. Plenty of work ahead. Add to this more signing events and the continued expansion of the Infected empire (Infected Films and Infected Audio, anyone?) and that’s more than enough to keep me busy. I hope you’ll stick around, because 2015 is going to be a cracker!
I’ve been saying for a long time how I believe ebooks should be free with the print edition of books. After all, if you’re anything like me, when you buy a CD the first thing you do is rip it to iTunes or similar. Since the relaunch of Infected Books in 2012, you’ve been able to download complementary ebook versions via Smashwords after completing a short form online. After a successful trial run with STRANGERS, I’m pleased to be taking this experiment one step further. From today, when you purchase a signed copy of one of the books shown below direct from www.infectedbooks.co.uk, you’ll automatically receive a download link and you’ll be able to immediately download the Kindle and ePub versions of the book.
I hope you like this. Please let me have your thoughts or feedback if you have chance. By the way, we won’t be getting any more stock in before the end of the year, so there are just 6 paperback copies of STRANGERS, 10 copies of LAST OF THE LIVING, and 6 copies of TRUST left!
The FEED THE ZOMBIES 2 promotion is now in full swing and runs until midnight. You can download zombie books from a whole host of great authors, all at 99c/99p a shot. There are loads of great authors involved, see the image below for full details.
I know I’ve been banging on about it for weeks, but LAST OF THE LIVING is officially released today. Containing two novellas and a host of zombie short stories, it’s my last word (for a while, anyway) on the living dead.
Pick up a signed copy direct from Infected Books, ebay, or Amazon.co.uk (free shipping for all UK orders from Infected Books and ebay).
I’m pleased to announce that pre-orders for LAST OF THE LIVING are now open. The book will be officially released on 27 October, but these signed, pre-ordered copies will ship in advance of that date.
All pre-orders received before 20 October will be entered into a competition to win a rare copy of the original Infected Books edition of AUTUMN, along with a genuine (and ever rarer) AUTUMN manuscript from my archives.
One more thing… in keeping with the Infected Books philosophy of not wanting folks to pay for the same thing twice, if you’ve already purchased the COST OF LIVING and ISOLATION ebooks, you can get a £2 discount on your pre-order. Simply use the name of Keith’s (from Isolation) manager as a coupon code at checkout (not case sensitive), and your discount will automatically be applied.
I hope you enjoy LAST OF THE LIVING. As always, don’t hesitate to shout if you have any questions or if you experience any problems placing your order.