I’ve a surprise Infected Books release to tell you about today – but it’s not something I’ve written. Instead, I’m delighted to welcome Wayne Simmons to the Infected Books fold with his nasty little ebook short: THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT.
If you’re a regular here, you’ll know Wayne and I go way back. You’ll also know that I’ve a number of plans in place to dramatically expand the reach of my Infected empire (books now, films next…), and this is part of those plans. This release came about as a result of endless hours spent travelling between events, discussing publishing as a whole and our own takes on the ongoing (and, frankly, boring as hell) traditional versus independent publishing debate.
I really think you’ll enjoy THE GIRL IN THE BASEMENT. It’s a horrible little tale of a girl held against her will by a captor whose sanity is less than certain… You can read more about the story at the Infected Books site here, and the book can be purchased for a paltry 99c/77p via any of these links: Kindle / iBooks / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo. The excellent cover art is by Sion Smith of Skin Deep Magazine fame.
And why today to unleash this little monstrosity on the world? Why, because it’s Wayne’s 40th. Please join me in wishing Mr Simmons a very happy, horror-filled birthday!
If you’ve already got the book, you’ll already know this but, if not, I thought it would make an interesting post. Did you know that I wrote three entirely different versions of THE COST OF LIVING, and that all three are included in the ebook?
It just goes to show the effect a format can have on the story you’re trying to tell.
The first incarnation of THE COST OF LIVING came back in 2010 when I was invited to put together a story for John Joseph Adams’ excellent LIVING DEAD 2 anthology. A different tale altogether ended up in the book (WHO WE USED TO BE), but I also finished PRIORITIES – the 5,000 word short story of mom, dad and disgruntled older son, trapped in their home at Dad’s insistence with no way out, surrounded by hordes of zombies.
I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the story. A while later I was invited to write a piece of flash fiction by my friends at THIS IS HORROR, and I decided to strip back THE COST OF LIVING to bare bones. Just 750 words.
But I still wasn’t happy. It seemed to me that whenever I tried to write the story, I was being curtailed by its length. I never saw THE COST OF LIVING as being long enough to make a full novel, but I knew it needed more than the short formats I’d already tried. So, at the beginning of this year, I started writing again with the sole aim of telling the story I wanted, irrespective of word count and length.
And I’m absolutely blown away by the reception you’ve given the 38,000 word novella version of THE COST OF LIVING, so much so that I’m planning to return to the format sooner rather than later. One novella a month, perhaps?
Wayne Simmons says: “THE COST OF LIVING is character-driven zombie horror at its very best. No fan of the genre should be without it.” And Chris Hall at DLSReviews.com says the book is: “A truly superb post-apocalyptic story.”
I had some great responses to my post about planning last week, several from fellow authors who were keen to tell me how they do things. As I keep taking great pains to work out, the What Works For Me posts are exactly that: what works for me. I thought it would be interesting, though, to share What Works For Them. It illustrates perfectly my point that there are no ‘one size fits all’ rules to writing.
By now Wayne Simmons should need no introduction. He’s a good friend, my industry partner in crime, and a fine writer. His new novel, PLASTIC JESUS, was recently released by Salt Publishing, and it goes without saying that I’m going to recommend you read it. But I’m not just saying that because Wayne’s my mate, I’m saying it because PLASTIC JESUS is an original and thought-provoking novel and it’s a damn good read. The book has a wonderfully realised setting (more about Lark City in a minute), and a cast of genuinely interesting (and hopelessly flawed) characters. Here’s the blurb. Click the link below to find out more.
Plastic Jesus grabs you by the throat. From the opening paragraph, without warning, it plunges you into a world of fear and confusion and visceral emotion. When it spews you back out again, you are left dizzy, overwhelmed – and desperate to read more. And it’s then that you take your first fearful steps into Lark City…
It is the near future, following a devastating Holy War. Once part of the US colonies, Maalside, the New Republic, now stands alone in the Pacific, separated from the heartland by 200 miles of salty ocean. Lark City is its capital, watched over by a 50 foot, pouting, stiletto-heeled and garter-belted ‘Miss Liberty’, a crude parody of the famous landmark across the water.
In this brutal neon jungle, Code Guy Johnny Lyon writes a Jesus social networking AI, to rebrand religion following the war. But something goes wrong; a virtual hell breaks on the streets of Lark – a violent, surreal and uncontrollable social breakdown.
Caught in this terrifying web of danger are Sarah Lee, Johnny’s co-worker, drug lord Paul McBride who is determined to exploit the chaos to wipe out his enemies, and McBride’s junkie daughter, a prostitute called Kitty.
Now, only Johnny can save Sarah, Kitty and the city.
This is a quick post to publicly thank Zombie Ed and everyone involved in the UK Festival of Zombie Culture last Saturday. As always it was an excellent event: a gracious host (Ed), the usual suspects (myself, Wayne Simmons, Adam Millard and Sean T Page), loads of great traders (the Zombie Shop team) and staff, and about 500 rabid fans all crammed into the Phoenix arts centre in Leicester to watch a marathon thirteen hours of zombie movies (click here to see what you missed).
Since I started writing zombie books we’ve become overrun by the living dead. Back then there only seemed to be me, Brian Keene, David Wellington and a handful of others doing anything with zombies, but over the course of the last decade our undead friends have shuffled out from the fringes of horror to take up their current position right in the middle of the mainstream. In some respects that’s great, but I’ve been increasingly worried that zombie fatigue will soon start setting in. On the basis of what I saw in Leicester this weekend, we’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about.
A picture tells a thousand words they say, so I’ll save myself some typing and let these excellent photographs from the very talented Grace Elkin do all the talking instead. You can see the rest of her pictures here.
Make sure you’re signed up to receive the Zombie Times (click here if you’re not signed up already), and do yourself a favour: when tickets for the 2014 event go on sale, get in quick. This is an annual event that no self-respecting zombie fan can afford to miss. Special thanks, as always, must go to the man in the first photo below: the driving force behind the festival and the Zombie Times, the one and only Zombie Ed.
A belated thank you to everyone involved in putting together the magnificent SCARdiff festival in Cardiff a couple of weeks back. It was an excellent event – very well attended and supported. This was a horror expo created by fans of the genre for fans of the genre, and as such it was a huge success. Congratulations to Wayne and the team. I got to hang out with some great folks, and I’ve posted a few photographs below (one stolen from Rich Hawkins, the other from Zoe Millard – hope you don’t mind, Zoe and Rich!). You’ll also find a clip from S4C (in Welsh) about the Expo which, even though you probably won’t understand it, will give you a better indication of how great a day it was than I could if I wrote for another couple of pages…
This coming weekend sees the second AUTUMN: HORROR IN THE EAST convention in Lowestoft. It’s a FREE event, so if you’re in the area please come down and say hello. This year sees a rare showing of the BBC’s notorious GHOSTWATCH with special guests in attendance. Can’t wait. All the details you need are here.
A quick report back and a word of thanks to the organisers of Grimmfest for having Wayne and I along again this year. Although time restrictions meant we were only there on Sunday, we got to catch up with many fine folk and take in a couple of good movies: WITHER – a passable Swedish Evil Dead-esque tale and STALLED – one of the most original zombie movies I’ve seen in a long time (and yes, people are still making original zombie movies). I’ll get a full write-up of STALLED put together in the coming days. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Highlight of the day, though, was Wayne and I hosting a Q&A with Christian James and Richard Kerrigan (director and producer of STALLED), Paul Davis (director of THE BODY – a great little short) and Dominic Brunt (director of the magnificent BEFORE DAWN and a new short, SHELLSHOCKED). A lot of fun and an appreciative audience.
It’s always great to be at Grimm, and I heartily recommend you try and make next year’s festival if you can. There’s a very cool and relaxed atmosphere, a load of excellent films, and Sim, Steve, and the rest of the guys behind the event are passionate fans of (and contributors to) the horror genre. Watch for Sim’s second feature, WHITE SETTLERS coming soon. Keep an eye on www.grimmfest.com for details of next year’s festival and other screenings and events throughout the year.
Next up for me is SCARDIFF on 27 October at the Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff. I’ll be there all day, alongside a load of great guests including the mighty Bobby Rhodes – Tony the pimp in Lamberto Bava’s classic DEMONS. Ticket prices are held at £6.66 until 13 October, but get in quick because they’re selling fast. More details here at www.scardiff.co.uk.
I wanted to talk about WORLD WAR Z for a couple of reasons. A discussion of the film follows (stick around for a half hour video review from Mr Simmons and I) but, before that, I have a more personal reason to be interested.
For a long time I’ve thought that the immediate future of the zombie sub-genre would, to a large extent, hinge on the success or failure of the WWZ movie. It’s fair to say that after all the well-documented issues with budgets and scripts and reshoots etc., I don’t think anyone expected the success the film has had, nor for a sequel to have been greenlit so rapidly. That has to be a good thing, I think, and I’m hopeful that, as a result, Hollywood will have a renewed interest in large budget, zombie-style movies. I would say that… the HATER movie rights have just been re-optioned.
As an enjoyable, effects-laden, dumb old zombie flick, WWZ certainly delivered. As an adaptation of Max Brook’s novel, however, it failed on just about every level. But does that really matter? Looking at things from my perspective, with a film adaptation of Hater on the horizon, I can see two sides. Sure I’d like a fairly literal interpretation of my original story to be filmed, but I’d also like the publicity and sales that a more commercial movie would hopefully generate. I have to accept that such publicity and sales might come at the expense of the integrity of my story. As wrong as it might sound, at this stage in my career with mouths to feed and bills to pay and many projects in the pipeline but few under contract, if I’m honest I’d have to say I’d rather take the cash. With Guillermo del Toro still attached to Hater I’m happy to take that chance of course, and regardless of how any movie turned out, my original book would still be available. It’s not like it would disappear or be replaced. Despite his understandable frustrations with the filmmakers, I’m sure Max Brooks is more than happy with the thousands and thousands of people who’ve picked up his book because of the film…
Right, back to WWZ. Rather than write a long blog post, I’ll let Wayne and I do the talking.
If you’ve not yet read the book, I’d definitely recommend it. If you have and you’ve seen the film, what were your thoughts on the movie adaptation, and what are your hopes/fears for a Hater adaptation? I’d be really interested to hear them. Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter etc.
Had an absolutely cracking time in the company of Mr Simmons this weekend just gone. Sunday was devoted to World War Z, and our video review (well, the half hour we recorded of the several hours we spent talking about it) will be online shortly. But the main purpose of the weekend was our ‘head to head’ event in Coventry.
As you know, Wayne and I have done a lot of events together over the years, and we wanted to try something different this time. We drove hundreds of miles last year travelling from event to event on our ‘Never Trust a Man with Hair’ tour, and often those long car journeys were more entertaining than the signings. We’d put the world to rights talking about writing, the publishing industry, films, music, and so on and so on. So we thought, rather than sit behind a table and sign books for people one at a time, why not have one of our ‘car conversations’ in public?
So that’s what we did. In front of a decent-sized and very receptive crowd, we read excerpts from our books and talked frankly and honestly about our careers, how we met and became this bizarre double act, our past and future works, how we both write, when we write, genre labels, and our views on publishing and the industry in general. It made a refreshing change (both for us and the audience, I think) from the usual author event format.
Thanks to Rich Coad from Waterstones Coventry, Michael Wilson of This is Horror, and everyone who came along and supported the event (particularly Paul Feeney, who drove almost 200 miles from Lowestoft to be there, and who’s photographs I’ve pinched for this post). The only downside to the evening… being turned away from a pub in Coventry because the door staff ‘didn’t like the look of one of us’. The shame of it! And to make matters worse, they wouldn’t say which one of us it was they didn’t like…
The lack of post-event drinks apart, it really was an excellent evening. We’re more than happy to put on similar events if there’s sufficient interest in the future, so if you want us and you can arrange a venue and a crowd, please get in touch.