On Saturday 8th October there will be a zombie apocalypse in Leicester. Yes, this is the same Leicester which hit the headlines earlier this year when it became clear the local council had no provisions for dealing with the aftermath of the dead rising. Some people, eh?
Okay, it’s not going to be a real zombie apocalypse (more’s the pity), it’s an event being arranged by Un:Bound. They’re staging (and filming) a zombie attack on the Phoenix arts centre which will involve several zombie authors (myself, Wayne Simmons and Jasper Bark) discussing how to survive the undead scourge. There will also be signings, interviews etc. etc. Vast crowds of the living dead will be required!
Un:Bound are looking for volunteer zombies. Anyone interested should be at the Phoenix for midday (and if you can do your own zombie make-up, so much the better). Also, if any of you are zombie make-up experts who would be willing to help on the day, please click here and drop me a line.
And here’s a quick update from the organisers: “And we need screaming victims, be a zombie, talk your other half into being a victim and you can bite them on film without being called a perv (am I selling this wrong?)”
I’m thrilled with how the www.lastoftheliving.net project is developing. Wayne Simmons was kind enough to heap a little praise on it in his recent post over at Dark Central Station (thanks, Wayne!), and there’s still a load more content to come. I have a huge amount of fiction left to add, and a lot more great artwork. There are still a few stories requiring illustrations. You’ve seen what I’m after, so please drop me a line if you’re interested in contributing.
This weekend just gone I was a guest at the Phoenix Convention in Dublin. A very small and informal event in comparison to the recent SFX Weekender and the like, it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and spend a weekend in Ireland with the missus.
The convention has an almost exclusively literary focus which is refreshing. I took part in a number of panels, most notably ‘What do we do with Zombies?’ with Wayne Simmons (who surely by now needs no introduction), and Derek Gunn author of The Estuary and the popular Vampire Apocalypse books.
But it wasn’t all about the living dead (for once). Other panel topics included ‘Mission to Mars: who would you send?’ (answers ranged from George Lucas to Jedward (and if you don’t know who/what that is, I envy you), Justin Bieber and, bizarrely, Geoffrey Boycott!), and ‘Routes into Publishing’ – a discussion about the various options available to writers in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
Another highlight for me was meeting David Naughton-Shires. For those of you who haven’t come across David, he’s the brains behind Knightwatch Press, a very active member of the Moody’s Survivors Facebook group, and a damn fine artist who’s responsible for some of the artwork over at www.lastoftheliving.net – the new AUTUMN website. David was kind enough to give me several of his original illustrations, and you’ll be able to see them shortly as more stories are added to the site. In fact, he’s illustrated the next three entries I’ll be adding. Check back tomorrow to find out how the end of the world actually turns out to be a good thing for Jim Harper, one of the characters you’ll meet in AUTUMN: PURIFICATION.
I’m sure plenty of you are aware of James Melzer. He’s the evil genius behind the Unleashed podcast, and the author of ESCAPE – the first book in a new trilogy of zombie novels coming later this year from Permuted Press and Pocket Books.
James got in touch with me a while back and invited me to be a part of a unique pre-order campaign for ESCAPE, and I was happy to oblige. Starting from tomorrow and running through to Escape’s release in December, everyone who pre-orders the book can get their hands on THE MOTHERLOAD a free eBook featuring never before published stories from myself (my contribution is ‘The Deal’ – a lovely little tale of perversion and greed), S G Brown, Mur Lafferty, Jeremy C Shipp, Wayne Simmons, and Matt Wallace.
Many of you will already know Wayne. And you’ll know that I know Wayne too. He’s a good friend of mine and I’ve written before about his books FLU and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. With DDG currently getting a long-overdue re-release through Snowbooks, Wayne’s in the middle of a blog-swap tour and today it’s his turn to visit here. You can find a post from me over at www.waynesimmons.org, but for now, here’s Wayne…
I’m a lifelong fan of horror, sci-fi and fantasy (or what we affectionately refer to as The Genre). For me, writing is just an extension of that fandom. Ever since my dad handed me a bunch of comics to read – mostly DC and Marvel titles, alongside Brit reads such as 2000AD and The Eagle – I’ve been hooked, a dedicated genre fan devouring books, movies, action figures, the lot.
As a fan, I try to write a story that I and other fans want to read. So, when planning my zombie horror novel, FLU, I thought first about what I myself enjoy within a good Romeroesque zombie story, whether it be a film, comic or book. I then tried to inject a little of those qualities into my own story. Of course, these are things that perhaps you too enjoy – the desolated cityscape, the zombie hordes, the gore and horror, the suspense. But I also really enjoy how Romero would use the zombie threat to examine human nature ie. the plight of our survivors; trust breaking down as the tension mounts; people backstabbing others to save their own skins etc.
With my latest release, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, the survivors are the man focal point of the story. As the world suddenly ends, it’s their plight I focus on, their hopes and fears, the complexity of their relationships with each other. This is a story about people, about the living and how death (on such a mass scale) will affect them. How the masses of bodies decaying on the streets, in the bars and restaurants, offices and hotels, freak out those left behind. And how when some bodies refuse to decay, the survivors become even more unnerved…
I was reading a lot of Japanese horror writer, Koji Suzuki, while writing DDG. I was also reading mountains of zombie horror, such as my host today, David Moody, as well as other genre favs like Brian Keene and Bowie Ibarra. I was watching zombie horror movies by the dozen, flicks such as Zach Snyder’s 2004 remake of Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD, and I was also devouring much of the Asian Horror cinema around at the time – THE RING films, TALE OF TWO SISTERS, THE GRUDGE, DARK WATER etc. In a sense, then, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS is a blend of all the things I enjoy most within horror – the gore of zombie stories as well as the suspense and sheer creepiness prevalent within Asian horror cinema.
As a fan of The Genre, DDG was a dream project. To put my own unique spin on what I like best within contemporary horror is a wonderful thing. My only hope is that you too, fellow horror fan, will get a chance to pick up a copy of DROP DEAD GORGEOUS – that you’ll enjoy reading this spooky, brutal and emotionally charged story of mine even a fraction as much as I have enjoyed creating it.
Belfast born, Wayne Simmons, has been loitering with intent around the horror genre for some years. Having scribbled reviews and interviews for various zines, Wayne released his debut horror novel, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS in 2008. The book was received well by both fans of the genre and reviewers alike.
An extended version of DDG has just been released through Snowbooks.
Wayne released his bestselling zombie apocalyptic horror novel, FLU, through Snowbooks in April 2010. In what little spare time he has left, Wayne enjoys running, getting tattooed and listening to all manner of unseemly screeches on his BOOM-BOOM Box… Meet Wayne online at www.waynesimmons.org.
Don’t forget: Wayne and I will both be at the SFX WEEKENDER tomorrow and Saturday. We also have a joint signing at WATERSTONE’S LEICESTER HIGHCROSS on Sunday 3pm – 5pm. Hope to see some of you there!
Good news – I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be making a return visit to Waterstone’s Leicester on 6th February between 3pm and 5pm to celebrate the re-release of Autumn: The City in the US and UK. Even more good news – this event will be a joint signing with Wayne Simmons to celebrate the re-release of Drop Dead Gorgeous!
I’ve had a blast over the last couple of weeks getting out and about. I usually spend too much time sat in front of this computer, so it’s been great actually getting out and meeting people again! With three more AUTUMN novels and the final book in the HATER series out in 2011, I’m planning to arrange many more events like these. If you want me to come visit your neck of the woods, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do!
There’s a slideshow below (if you really want to see a series of photos of an angry looking bald man and some books), but I wanted to share some of the best bits with you. Firstly, it was brilliant to finally meet some of the folks I’d only ever spoken to by email before: Dawn, Peter, Ryan, Will, Scott, Clym (one of the stars of the Darker Projects adaptation of Autumn no less!), Richard from Scream Magazine and many others.
Grimm up North was a success again this year in its new venue (The Dancehouse theatre, Manchester). The Adaptations panel was particularly good fun when I shared the stage with Conrad Williams (author of the superb One), and genre favourites Christopher Priest and Ramsey Campbell. But for me, my evening with Wayne Simmons at No Alibis in Belfast was the undoubted highlight of the week.
No Alibis is a fantastic little independent bookstore in the Botanic area of Belfast. They specialise in Crime and our event was their first (but hopefully not the last) foray into horror. It was an exceptionally cool evening as Wayne and I read from our books then discussed our writing and the differences and similarities between our approaches to the living dead in front of a really appreciative audience. A wonderful night.
Every stop on my brief mini-tour of the UK was fantastic, and I want to thank everyone who helped put the events together: Emily at Waterstone’s Oxford Street, Sim, Steve and the team from Grimm Up North, Steven at Waterstone’s Leicester (bookseller extraordinaire and part time zombie construction worker), Adele from Un:Bound (read Un:Bound’s coverage of the Leicester signing here), Wayne and Rebecca, Dave at No Alibis, and Mark and Adam at Waterstone’s Colchester. And thanks too to everyone who came out to say hello.
Nothing for weeks then two posts in the space of a few minutes…!
It’s less than a month now until AUTUMN is re-released in the US and UK. I’m pleased to announce that a few UK signings are being arranged (I’m working on the US – bear with me). Here are the details. Hope to see as many of you there as possible.
Saturday 30th October (12pm – 1pm) – Waterstone’s Oxford Street Plaza, London
Sunday 31st October – Grimm Up North 2 festival, Manchester
Monday 1st November (6:30pm – 8pm) – Waterstone’s Leicester Highcross
Thursday 4th November (6:00pm) – No Alibis, Belfast (with Wayne Simmons)
Here’s the information I promised in my last post about the screening of AUTUMN in Northern Ireland next month.
I’ll be introducing a 10pm screening of the film at the Queens Film Theatre in Belfast on Saturday 1st May. Prior to the film (from around 6pm) I’ll be doing a joint book signing with Wayne Simmons. You can find more information and book your tickets here.
It promises to be a great event. It’ll be my first time in Northern Ireland, and it would be fantastic to meet any of you who are able to attend.
“There’s a nasty flu going round. An epidemic, they call it. The posters say to cover your mouth when you sneeze, and throw away the tissue. But such simple measures won’t stop this flu. Because when you catch the flu, armed police come and lock you in your house to die alone. When you catch this flu, it kills you in days. And when you catch this flu, two hours after it’s killed you, your eyelids snap open again…”Flu” is a pacey, terrifying, frighteningly real zombie horror story.”
FLU is available now from Amazon.co.uk. For those of you who are in Northern Ireland, Wayne and I will be doing a book signing together on 1st May at the Queens Film Theatre in Belfast, prior to a 10pm screening of AUTUMN. More details about the event will follow shortly.