If, when my time is up, I’m ever asked to look back and recall pivotal moments in my life, the key writing-related moment I’d cite involves PAN’S LABYRINTH. It was 2006, and I’d just published HATER independently through Infected Books. The release had gone pretty well, and I was happy with how the book had been received. Then, out of the blue, I received an email from a production company in Los Angeles, enquiring about the availability of the film rights. Within a couple of weeks I was speaking to Mark Johnson (who went on to produce BREAKING BAD) about his vision for a film version of HATER. He asked me if I’d seen PAN’S LABYRINTH. I told him I had, and that I thought it was incredible. He said that was a relief, because he was hoping to get Guillermo del Toro to direct HATER.
Of course, as is often the way, things didn’t work out as planned. Del Toro became involved in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of THE HOBBIT and switched roles to produce HATER, only for the project to stall at a later stage. Even now, more than a decade later, I still get goosebumps thinking about how close we came to a del Toro adaptation of one of my books. And I know this post will inevitably result in folks asking questions about the current position of the HATER movie, so I’ll give you my stock answer: I had a meeting with the producer a week or so ago and the project is still very much alive and kicking. The script is in great shape and we’re just waiting for the stars to align. I’ll share more news the very second I’m able to.
Back to PAN’S LABYRINTH. It’s an astonishing film which rightly deserved the critical acclaim it received on release. Now, many years later, del Toro and author Cornelia Funke have adapted the story into a novel and, thanks to the publisher, I was recently able to read a copy. When I heard about the book I was concerned, and I struggled to understand why the story needed to be retold. Having read it, though, I totally get it. Remind yourself of the beauty of the film then read on below for my thoughts.
It’s 1944 and the Allies have invaded Nazi-held Europe. In Spain, a troop of soldiers are sent to a remote forest to flush out the rebels. They are led by Capitan Vidal, a murdering sadist, and with him are his new wife Carmen and her daughter from a previous marriage, 11-year-old Ofelia. Ofelia witnesses her stepfather’s sadistic brutality and is drawn into Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical world of mythical beings.
I’m sure you know Tim. He’s a very prolific, very approachable writer whose written many original novels as well as TV and movie tie-in books (including STAR WARS, ALIEN and FIREFLY). I’d known him for a while through social media then met him in person for the first time at a horror convention in Birmingham in February last year. We were table-neighbours for a very enjoyable weekend and, as is the done thing, we book-swapped at the end of the event. He went home with a copy of HATER, and I chose THE SILENCE.
I’d long known that a film adaptation of Tim’s book was in development, and we talked quite a bit about it over the weekend. Fast-forward a few weeks and I was on holiday. I devoured THE SILENCE (and thoroughly enjoyed it) in the space of a few short hours at the poolside. I was really interested to see how the film adaptation stacked up. Jump forward in time again until April this year, and THE SILENCE appeared on NETFLIX accompanied by a huge wave of publicity.
I’ve been stung by having one of my books adapted into a less-than-satisfactory movie, and I’m always nervous for fellow writers I know when films of their works are in the pipeline. So how did THE SILENCE stack up?
When the world is under attack from terrifying creatures who hunt their human prey by sound, 16-year old Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka), who lost her hearing at 13, and her family seek refuge in a remote haven.
It’s always a thrill to hold the first print copies of a book, and this one is especially cool. CHOKEHOLD is the absolute final HATER novel. It’s a sequel to both DOG BLOOD and ALL ROADS END HERE, and a prequel to THEM OR US. Oh, and it’s a bloody, violent, brutal (and surprisingly uplifting) story. Copies will be on their way to reviewers shortly. You can pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Book Depository and all the other usual sources now. The book is published by St Martin’s Press and it hits the shelves on 19 November.
A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of catching up with my friend WAYNE SIMMONS. Wayne’s good, by the way, as a lot of you have been asking. Slightly more tattooed and bearded than you might remember, but he’s as chilled out and positive as ever. He fell out of love with the horror genre several years ago, and we’ve barely talked about it since. So imagine my surprise when he came up with a few zombie movie recommendations out of the blue. Today’s recommendation is one of those films, and it’s a movie I hadn’t heard of until Wayne told me about it. HERE ALONE is a minimalist, slow-burn horror which is well worth a couple of hours of your time.
A young woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious epidemic that has killed much of society, and forced her deep into the unforgiving wilderness.
As you may know, I’ve been working hard over the last few months with some very talented narrators to make my Infected Books back catalogue available as audiobooks. I have a load of free download codes available which I’d like to give away. Want one? Fill in the form below.
All I ask in return is that you listen to the books and help me spread the word, ideally by sharing on social media or writing a review. There are three titles available – STRANGERS, THE COST OF LIVINGand STRAIGHT TO YOU. Enjoy!
UPDATE – 7 JUNE 06:00 – DUE TO OVERWHELMING DEMAND I’VE HAD TO SUSPEND THIS OFFER. ALL CODES HAVE BEEN TAKEN. THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!
Joseph D’Laceyis a pal who writes great books that have never really had the success they deserved. I’ve told you about a couple of them before. Joseph is now releasing some of his earlier titles through his own imprint – Phasmid. He recently asked me to write an introduction for the re-release of GARBAGE MAN – a book I enjoyed first time around, and which I loved when I re-read it recently. The new edition has been launched this week, and for the next 24 hours it’s free to download from Amazon. Please do that straight away!
I get very jittery when I don’t post here for a while (I worry you’ll forget about me!) so this is me coming up for air to say a brief hello. Lots going on in the background as usual, all of which I’ll tell you about in due course. I’m neck-deep in a new novel at the moment, which is proving to be a real challenge as it’s like nothing I’ve written before.
Last week I re-read CHOKEHOLD to complete the final edits, and I really enjoyed it. I hope you will too (it’s released on 19 November). I think it ties the first and second HATER trilogies together nicely, and it does so in a way I don’t think you’ll be expecting.
The picture above is included as evidence that words are still being written and progress continues to be made. I’ve got a backlog of news about foreign language editions, audiobooks, new projects, film and book recommendations, and re-releases of old novels by friends which I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon.
I’ve got my head down working on a new novel at the moment, so things are relatively quiet around here. I thought I’d share a free story with you to keep your attention!
I released THE LAST BIG THING in January – a collection of some of my favourite of the short stories I’ve written. The collection includes a number of new stories, one of which is AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES. You can read it here.
Prior to re-watching the most recent (2009) BBC adaptation of DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, I’d only seen it once before. I had to psych myself up to watch it again, because my overriding memory of the 3 hours miniseries was crushing disappointment. This was the first time TRIFFIDS had been adapted for the screen with a decent budget, and yet I found it to be massively off the mark. A wasted opportunity.
Many of the novel’s story beats are there, and the Triffids themselves are very well realised, but I remember being hugely frustrated by a number of aspects of the production, to the point where I’d promised myself I wouldn’t watch it again. But then this series of posts came around, and I gritted my teeth and pressed play. My expectations were clearly better managed second time around, because I found more to enjoy on repeat viewing, but there’s no question this is certainly NOT the definitive version I’d hoped for.
There’s no trailer available as such, so here’s a BBC preview from when the series was shown over Christmas 2009 (hence the seasonal graphics at the end):
The JoBlo movie network website always has stacks of great content. One of the sections I enjoy most is the snappily titled “The Best Movie You Never Saw”, and this week it featured one of my favourite films. A quick glance at my RECOMMENDATIONS page revealed that I’d never written about it for this site, so I thought I should put that right post haste! This weekend’s film recommendation is Joel Schumacher’s startling 1993 movie, FALLING DOWN.
Freeways are clogged. Terror stalks our cities. At shops and restaurants, the customer is seldom right. Pressures of big-city life can anger anyone. But Bill Foster is more than angry. He’s about to get even.
Foster abandons his gridlocked car on the hottest day of the year and walks straight into an urban nightmare both absurdly funny and shatteringly violent. Michael Douglas is Foster, an ordinary guy at war with the frustrations of daily life. Robert Duvall is the savvy cop obsessed with stopping Foster’s citywide rampage.