Looking back at the AUTUMN movie

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.

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SCREAM Issue 28

Cover-28The team behind SCREAM have been long-time supporters of my work, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to return the favour and promote each and every new issue of this great horror mag. It gets better and better each month. Maybe it’s just me, but SCREAM seems to regularly prey upon many of my horror weaknesses and it’s become compulsive reading. It manages to feel fresh and contemporary, whilst retaining the look and feel of the horror mags I remember from my youth.

The new issue is out now, and it’s an absolute peach. Packed with plenty of news, reviews and interviews, I particularly enjoyed the interviews with David Morrissey (THE WALKING DEAD), and Jennifer Rubin (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3 – an early horror crush from my younger days!). With features on Italian zombie movies, the new Australian zombie film WYRMWOOD, and THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH, I’d recommend getting your hands on a copy asap.

Visit www.screamhorrormag.com, or pick up the magazine from any branch of HMV, Forbidden Planet, or any of the newsagents listed here. SCREAM is also now available digitally as iSCREAM!

The Impossible

Most of the film recommendations I share here are post-apocalyptic movies, but today I’m making an exception. Kind of.

Back in 2008, just after Guillermo del Toro’s involvement in the planned Hater movie had been announced, other names soon became attached to the project. Glen Mazzara (late of AMC’s The Walking Dead) wrote a script and Juan Antonio Bayona was lined up to direct. I immediately got hold of a copy of Bayona’s debut feature – The Orphanage – and was very, very impressed by the film. If you haven’t yet seen it, I suggest you check it out. Bayona was also kind enough to blurb Hater, saying ‘Be careful with Hater; chapter by chapter it will make its way into your soul ‘til it finds the seed of evil which lurks within.

The Impossible

For one reason or another (and I still don’t know exactly why), the Hater movie didn’t happen. And just for the record, because I seem to get asked several times every day, I don’t know what the current status of the project is.

Fast-forward to now, and J A Bayona’s second feature – The Impossible – has recently been released. I’m sure you’ve already heard plenty about it. The film is based on the true story of a Spanish family of five who, despite being split up and scattered by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, all managed to survive and were later reunited. The sheer improbability of their story gives rise to the title of the movie.

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New signing date, a giveaway reminder, and some cool trivia

Couldn’t think of a better title for this post, so I just went with the facts! I’m going through one of those weird periods at the moment: loads of stuff happening behind the scenes, but I don’t have much to say in public just yet. So here’s a very brief update…

NEW SIGNING DATE WITH WAYNE SIMMONS

I’m really pleased to announce that I’ll be signing with Wayne again at Waterstones Cardiff on Saturday 21st April from 12:30pm. We had a great time there last October, and I’m looking forward to returning. Please come along if you’re able.

AUTUMN: AFTERMATH GIVEAWAY

I’ve had hundreds of entries so far – thanks! – and there’s now less than a week remaining to enter the giveaway. Click here to remind yourself how to enter. Already entered? Re-tweet this for an extra entry:

 

WALKING DEAD/HATER TRIVIA

Forgive me for shamelessly using the (justly deserved) popularity of The Walking Dead to promote my own work, but did you know showrunner Glen Mazzara wrote a script for the long-gestating, Guillermo del Toro-produced HATER movie? He mentions it in this interview.

Right, back to work. I finished writing a novel this morning. Can’t wait to tell you about it.

SFX Zombie Special (and who the hell is Muriel?)

I’ve been waiting to talk about this for ages, and as it’s now been announced on the SFX website, I guess I finally can!

On 26th September SFX release their latest special issue – ZOMBIES: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE. Now any self-respecting zombie fan should immediately click here to order a copy, but if you like my writing (and as you’re on my website, I’m hoping you do), there’s another good reason to pick it up. As well as a huge number of zombie-related features, articles, reviews, and interviews (with George Romero, Charlie Higson, Mira Grant and myself amongst others), the magazine also features MURIEL – a brand new piece of original zombie fiction I’ve written exclusively for SFX.

So there you go… 132 pages of zombie goodness, free ‘zombie hazard’ stickers, a huge double-sided poster, and a new David Moody short story. Sounds pretty good, I think!

 

The Walking Dead season 2

I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read nearly enough of The Walking Dead (I’m currently working my way through this little beauty), but I was a big fan of the first season of the TV show. It’s great to see another zombie story which focuses on the characters and situations more than on the living dead. This trailer for season two looks absolutely incredible:

By the way, here’s an interesting fact for you: Glen Mazzara, lead writer for season two, wrote the original version of the script for the HATER movie. Hope to have some news on that project for you soon…