Saying Goodbye to the End of the World

Them or Us (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011)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.

Do a search for Lowestoft on this site and you’ll find loads of entries: the launch event I held at the town’s library when THEM OR US was first released, the four subsequent HORROR IN THE EAST conventions we held there which were always sparsely attended but huge fun to be a part of, David Shires’ excellent apocalyptic artwork… Lowestoft is a place I’ve enjoyed going back to time and time again.

But no more.

Continue reading

Killing a work colleague

Autumn: Purification (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011)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 HATER all 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!

Two Halves Make a Whole

I’ve told you a lot about it, but I don’t think I’ve properly explained why I’ve been writing a second HATER trilogy. Is it a cynical cash in? A cheap way to drum up interest in my books again after a quiet couple of years? The answer to both those questions is a very definite ‘no’.

The new trilogy has its roots in some of the many movie-related discussions I’ve had about the books over the years. On numerous occasions, producer Ed Barratt and I have talked about TV adaptations (and we came tantalisingly close to getting that off the ground at the turn of this year but, as is so often the way, our plans unravelled at the last moment). Ed and I discussed the issues we’d face trying to translate HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US to the small screen. Part of the attraction of the books is the fact they focus exclusively on one man’s story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this relatively narrow approach might present problems from a theatrical point of view.

One of the recurring themes of the series is ‘who is the bad guy?’. When the outbreak (or whatever it is) begins in HATER, the natural assumption is that the Haters are the villains. But, for various reasons, we later start to question that assumption, particularly when the extent of the actions taken by the Unchanged to keep themselves safe is revealed. It’s clear that both sides are capable of doing whatever they have to do to survive, and this comes to a head at the end of DOG BLOOD. I’ll be vague in case you’ve not yet read the books (come on, keep up!), but a pretty unspeakable act is carried out by someone. It’s particularly shocking, because that act has huge ramifications for both sides and every surviving individual, Hater and Unchanged alike.

So that got me thinking, are the Unchanged as innocent as I initially thought? Are the Haters as evil and ferocious as they appear? Do the lines ever blur? Are there weaker Haters and stronger Unchanged? How clear is the distinction between the two?

Continue reading

HATER timeline

With the release of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – the first book in the second HATER trilogy – fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to start showing you how the two series are connected. They both tell different stories, but there are shared events and locations and… and I’m not going to tell you much more just yet.

With apologies for my limited graphics skills, here’s a handy timeline:

In case you’re new around here or need to catch up in readiness for the new books, HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US are available now. EVERYTHING AND NOTHING is a free ebook download which you can get here, and ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING hits the shelves on 5 December 2017.

Hater books 4, 5 and 6

Over the weekend I shared this image to help promote the new issue of SCREAM MAGAZINE. It’s generated a fair few comments on Facebook and Twitter about the new HATER books, so I wanted to give you a very quick update/ explanation.

There are three new books coming in the HATER series: ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING (out later this year), THE OTHER HALF (which I’m currently writing), and THE LAST SUMMER.

This is NOT a continuation of Danny McCoyne’s story from the first three books, nor is it a reboot of the series (how I hate that expression). It’s actually a combination of both. The first book details the outbreak of the HATER epidemic (for want of a better word) from a different point of view to the original novel. The second book takes place alongside the events of DOG BLOOD, so you’ll encounter a few familiar faces and places but, again, they’ll be shown in a different light. Chronologically, book three takes place between DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US and fills in a few blanks I deliberately left vague first time around. Our guide through the apocalypse this time around is a gentleman by the name of Matthew Dunne who is a… no, I’m not going to tell you any more just yet.

Though ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING currently has a release date of 15 August pencilled in, this may change. I’ll let you know more when I do. In the meantime, here’s the back cover blurb…

Fifteen people are trapped on Skek, a barren island in the middle of the North Sea somewhere between the coasts of the UK and Denmark. Over the years this place has served many purposes – a fishing settlement, a military outpost, a scientific base – but one by one its inhabitants have abandoned its inhospitable shores. Today it’s home to Hazleton Adventure Experiences, an extreme sports company specialising in corporate team building events.

Life there is fragile and tough. One slip is all it takes. A momentary lapse leads to a tragic accident, but when the body count quickly starts to rise, questions are inevitably asked. Are the deaths coincidental, or something else entirely? Those people you thought you knew well, can you really trust them? Are you standing next to a killer, and will you be their next victim?

A horrific discovery changes everything for everyone. There’s no way home now, and a trickle of rumours becomes a tsunami of fear. Is this really the beginning of the end of everything, or a situation constructed by the mass hysteria of a handful of desperate and terrified people?

The lower the population, the higher the stakes.

Kill the rest of them, before one of them kills you.

Horror in the East – this Saturday

As I was saying the other day, time flies. It feels like only five minutes, but it’s five years this month since THEM OR US, the final Danny McCoyne HATER book, was released (note the careful wording there… the final Danny McCoyne book – the HATER story takes a new direction in next year’s ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING).

You might remember, THEM OR US is set in Lowestoft, the most easterly town in the UK. I launched the book there back in 2011 with a special event at the library (which features in the novel). We had a great time and, as a result, the annual HORROR IN THE EAST convention was born. After a sabbatical last year, I’m thrilled that the event is back. It’s free, and it’s this Saturday. Hope to see you there.


Forthcoming events

HorrorExpoIrelandI’ve got a few events coming up at the end of this year and I wanted to give you plenty of advance notice.

First off, on 30 October, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be heading to the Freemasons Grand Lodge in Dublin where I’ll be guesting at HORROR EXPO IRELAND 2016. This sounds like a cracker: Running from 2pm to 2am Horror Expo Ireland promises an unforgettable and unique experience, which boasts a plethora of horror related events and activities ranging from panels, Q&A sessions, screenings, and paranormal investigations. While it is fair to say that this event is not your average convention, the organisers have provided a public platform which is entirely fan focused, as the audience is afforded an opportunity to critically engage with the genre of horror from a range perspectives alongside some of the industry’s most acknowledged experts.

Tickets are €40 and more information is available here. Follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

The following weekend on 5 November I’ll be making a return to Lowestoft – spiritual home of the HATER series – for HORROR IN THE EAST 4. This year the event is based in the town library (which features in THEM OR US – thanks to David Naughton-Shires for the graphic below). If you need reminding why Lowestoft occupies such an important place in HATER folklore, then click here. More details will be announced shortly. It would be great if you could join us and spend the day deep in Hinchcliffe territory…

Lowestoft library

And on 12 November I’ll be heading to the Phoenix Centre in Leicester for the 10th UK FESTIVAL OF ZOMBIE CULTURE hosted by Zombie Ed (the brains behind Terror4Fun and the ZOMBIE TIMES). If you’ve not been to one of Ed’s undead events before, you’re in for a treat. Join the Facebook group here. Ticket details will be announced shortly.

The second HATER trilogy

I’ve got some more HATER news for you: I’m writing a new HATER book. Actually, I’m writing three.

For me, the original HATER series was nicely self-contained. Although the whole world had gone crazy and imploded, the books were first and foremost Danny McCoyne’s story. I resisted even thinking about writing other books for a long time because I’d told all of Danny’s story and without a damn good reason to go back to the world of HATER, I thought any additional novels would just be a cynical cash in.

Enter Ed Barratt.

I introduced you to Ed last week. He’s the producer of the new HATER movie, and over the last few months he and I have talked extensively about how, if the first movie is successful, we’d want the rest of Danny’s story to be adapted for screen. The second HATER trilogy is a direct result of those conversations.

Details are pretty sparse at the moment, but click the link and I’ll tell you what I know.


Continue reading


Right… I think that announcement is long overdue. The all-important press release follows. There will be opportunity to ask me questions in the coming weeks, and there will be ANOTHER HATER-related announcement next week. For now, here are the facts:


Hook Pictures producer Ed Barratt and David Moody announce a deal to bring Moody’s classic novel of violence and paranoia – HATER – to the screen.

David Moody independently released HATER onto an unsuspecting world in 2006, and within a couple of short months the movie rights had been snapped up by Hollywood. The production was fast-tracked and attracted some big names. Then, as is frequently the way, the project stalled.

Moody and his fans were left in limbo.

The novel went on to be republished by St Martins Press in the US, Gollancz in the UK, Goldmann in Germany and by numerous other publishers around the world. Two well-received sequels – DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US – followed.

But still no movie.

Enter Ed Barratt and Hook Pictures. Ed said “From the first page of the series I could see the potential for Hater to be adapted into a defining piece of British cinema; that I’m now working with David towards that end is almost as big a thrill as the books themselves”.

Ed and David are thrilled to announce that the development of the HATER movie is now underway from a script by Moody.

I’m delighted to be working with Ed on this project,” said Moody. “The buzz of having Hollywood interest in my work never really wore off, despite the film not reaching the screen, but there was always a part of me that regretted selling such a small-scale, gritty and uniquely British story to a huge production company. I met with Ed and was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm for the books, and it quickly became apparent that we share a common vision with regard to how this story should be told on screen. When the opportunity to take back the rights and work with Ed arose, I took it without hesitation.

The central theme of HATER is, I think, more prescient than ever. It deals with some major sociological issues in a unique and confrontational way and I’m confident we’ll create a wildly original movie the likes of which hasn’t been seen before. HATER is a collision between the normality of day-to-day life in the UK today and a full-on apocalyptic nightmare.

HATER is currently in development for a late 2016 shoot.



EdAnd I’d like to introduce you to Ed:  Hook Pictures was founded in 2012 as a vehicle for creative producer Ed Barratt to continue to work with fresh and ambitious writing and directing talent to create critically and commercially successful feature films.

Hook Pictures’ debut feature film was Rowan Athale’s The Rise (aka Wasteland) – completed in 2012 – which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at London, Rotterdam and Santa Barbara Film Festivals whilst selling to distributors around the world and being nominated for several awards. Ed Barratt was recognised by BAFTA as a Breakthrough Brit for his work on the film.

Hook Pictures has a strong slate of projects in development and relationships with some of the UK’s most exciting new writing and directing talent. Three films are slated to enter production in 2015/16 and the company is venturing into new and original IP by launching comic book publisher Ninth Man in association with leading graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero.

Time for an update

Hello. I hate not posting here regularly, but there are times when it’s unavoidable. Now is most definitely one of those times. I’ve truly never been busier, though you’d be hard pushed to know given the gap between posts on this site. That’s not likely to change in the next few months, but I think some kind of update is long overdue.

Last weekend I finished writing KAI, a middle-grade novel. I say finished… what I mean by that is I got the book into good enough shape to be able to fire it over to my agent for his feedback, and I’m now waiting nervously for him to get back to me. I’m keeping the story close to my chest. For now I’ll describe it as a weird hybrid of ET and Godzilla, and I’ll leave it at that.

Next week I start a new novel – the first book in the SPACES BETWEEN series (at long last). It was called TOMMY, but it’s now been re-named ELYSIAN FIELDS. I’m in the habit of teasing future projects by referring to their influences, so how does Blade Runner by way of Breaking Bad by way of Nordic Noir with more than a touch of Quatermass sound?

I’ve managed to catch up with Wayne Simmons a couple of times recently, and we’ve been busily plotting and planning the future of Infected Books. We have a few IB releases scheduled between now and the end of this year, but much of our time has been spent working on something massive for 2016. That’s the whole of 2016.

It’s funny – there are some books which never seem to want to go away. That’s a good thing, I think. One of those books is HATER, and it’s been occupying a lot of my time again recently. I have a meeting scheduled for later this week. I can’t say too much just yet, but for those of you who’ve given up hope of ever seeing HATER on the big screen, don’t. More news as and when I’m allowed to share.

And a quick question to whet your appetites/ test the water… going back to HATER again has given me the spark of an idea for a (non-Danny McCoyne) standalone HATER novel. It’s almost four years since THEM OR US hit the shelves, so is that something you’d still be interested in reading?

Original HATER artwork by Tomislav Tikulin 2009

Original HATER artwork by Tomislav Tikulin 2009

So that about sums up what I’ve been doing in the first four months of 2015. It’s heads down again now, but please do keep checking back. I have plenty of film and book recommendations planned, the return of WHAT WORKS FOR ME, guest posts and much more. And if you want the scoop on any of the projects I’ve just mentioned, this is where you’ll get it!