Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top 5 Haunted House Novels

As Hallowe'en approaches, I thought it might be fun to list my top 5 haunted house novels.

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The greatest haunted house of them all. The opening paragraph of this novel remains one of the most compelling pieces of prose I've ever read, and the story is layered, complex, and thoroughly gripping. A great book from a great writer.

2. Nazareth Hill by Ramsey Campbell

One of the few horror novels to ever genuinely terrify me, this is Campbell at his very best. The tension is almost unbearable, the prose is hallucinatory, and the emotional impact is devastating. I love this book but I hate the way it made me feel - abused, manipulated, you might even say haunted. For me, it's one of the finest achievements in genre fiction.

3. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

A clever story-with-a-story framework adds depth to the story of a weird house. Without saying too much, this book is as much as an artefact as it is a story. I became utterly lost within its pages, and when it ended I felt like the book had been reading me as much as I'd been reading it. Incredible - a truly unique (and frightening) experience.

4. Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco

Underrated and sadly neglected by modern horror fans, this is a classic that really gets under your skin. The house isn't just somewhere that the story takes place, it's also a vital character in that story. It's a slim novel, but still packs one hell of a punch. Again, it's genuinely scary - something that's rare in the genre.

5. The Shining by Stephen King

How could I even think of leaving this one out? I read it when I was a teenager and it affected me so much that I've been processing it all these years. When I read it again recently, the book had lost none of it's power, and I even enjoyed it more as an adult and a father. An unforgettable story, and one that resonates throughout the years.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Books

My new novel, The End, is now available on Kindle and paperback. Here are the links:

Kindle: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon US

Paperback: Amazon UK
Paperback: Amazon US

There's also a limited run of 50 hardback copies - of which I believe only about 15 are left, so if you want one contact the publisher (Newcon Press) directly or you can get one at the launch this weekend. The paperback edition will be available at the launch, too.

The book will be launched this weekend in York, at FantasyCon. 4pm. Hopefully I'll see you there.

Also available in York, directly from me, are copies of my chapbook The Night Just Got Darker.

My friend Joel Lane died in his sleep last November from problems linked to his diabetes and sleep apnoea. I heard about it via Facebook the following day. At first I didn't believe it, but then, as the news filtered through, I had no option but to accept that he was gone. Joel was a friend, a mentor, an inspiration, and one of my favourite writers. I cried, I tried to deny it, I regretted the fact that we hadn't spoken for months, and then I did the only thing I could think of, the only thing that seemed to make any kind of sense at the time: that night, I started to write a story for Joel. The Night Just Got Darker is the result. I hope he would have liked the story. 

Joel used to shuffle around at FantasyCon selling copies of his books out of a battered satchel. I'll be doing the same this year with some early copies of the chapbook. It's limited to 100 copies; I should have around 40 with me. Knightwatch Press - which is run by another of Joel's friends - will make the other 50 copies available at a later date.

I never intended to publish this story; it was meant as a goodbye to a friend. But when Theresa asked me for a long story to publish as a chapbook, it felt right that this be the one to send her.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The End is Nigh...

Coming this September from Newcon Press...

" I stood and stared, realising immediately what I was seeing, yet barely able to believe it. Men in business suits were falling past the window, heading for the pavement.
   As I stared, another three or four went past. This time one of them clipped against the window, splintering the glass. Another. Then another. They looked like giant bats swooping past the window, wings flapping madly as they dived to the ground."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Of Monsters and Maybes

So I managed to get a couple of thousand words done on my novella The Grieving Stones late last week. My momentum was broken because I was away over the weekend, but it feels good to be working again with some kind of drive and forward motion.

The editor I sent my short story The Yellow Film to liked it, and now the edits are done. I recently sold a story to Mark Morris for The Spectral Book of Horror, and my contributor copy of the Ellen Datlow anthology Fearful Symmetries is on its way. I'm really looking forward to reading this one. It features an incredible line-up of talent and the reviews so far have been stellar (my story Kaiju even got a mention in one of them).

After a long spell of the creative doldrums, I'm starting to feel like I'm a writer again. Maybe.

Speaking of Kaiju, I've been toying with the idea of expanding the themes of the story into a short character-driven novel. It probably isn't a very commercial idea, but my mind keeps being drawn towards the flyblown carcasses of huge monsters, the solemn aftermath of a gigantic, destructive battle, and a lot of broken people with stories to tell...

A couple of possible titles have even suggested themselves: After the Monsters Came or Maybe Monsters.

We'll see, we'll see...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Writing, But Not As I Know It

So I've been struggling, off and on, with some kind of creative block for just over a year now. It hasn't been pleasant, and those people who say that "writer's block" doesn't exist can just go and fuck off right now. It does exist. I know because I've experienced it.

But that isn't all. This is more than a simple mental blockage. What's happened is, the way I write has fundamentally changed. I used to be frighteningly prolific: I wrote as if my life depended on it. But now that doesn't happen. I think I've basically slowed down. Writing isn't as important to me as it once was; other things have moved forward in my list of priorities. And that's good. Change is good; it's positive. I suspect the blockage I've been experiencing is down to me trying to adjust to this change. I'm having to learn how to write all over again, but in a different way. The words no longer come pouring from my viens as liquid fire. They emerge slowly, at their own pace.

With this in mind, my output has slowed dramatically. I've had to adapt the way I work. I no longer sit down every night and write in a white-heat frenzy. I write when I'm moved to instead. This is giving me more time to enjoy life, to fill up the creative well. I'd reached a stage before where writing was my life, and that was bad. This new way is better. It's just going to take a lot of getting used to.

I've just finished my first new story in months. It's called The Yellow Film, and is a submission for a King In Yellow themed anthology. I was asked by the editor to write this story, but that doesn't mean it'll be accepted. The editor might not even like it. I hope he does, though, because it's been a tough one to write. A transitional story.

I'm just glad I don't rely on this writing lark to pay the bills.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

There, There...

Today I sent a story off to an editor. I hope it will be included in a tribute anthology for my late friend Joel Lane. I haven't been writing much for the past year and a bit, and this is only the fourth or fifth story I've written in 2014 (all of which were commissioned).

This one's called There, There, and it brings together an experience I had in a "haunted" house where I used to live in Bounds Green, a person I used to see a lot around London's East End, the notion of dispossessed people who through no fault of their own have been cast aside from the usual social cirlces, and my love of Joel's fiction.

I hope the editor likes it. I know I do, and in all honesty that's what matters most.

"Trevor reached out and placed the flat of his hand against the door, as if he might feel a tremor of excitement from the memory. If ghosts existed, then surely they were simply stranded recollections, echoes of things that had once happened trying not to be forgotten. He closed his eyes and remembered how Greta looked naked. She was very thin; her hip bones were sharp, like blades. When he opened his eyes again he experienced the sense that someone else was there. They were standing on the other side of the door, mirroring his posture, perhaps smiling."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reaping the Dark - Book Release

This week sees the release of my new novella, Reaping the Dark. Published by DarkFuse, it's a story that combines elements of crime and supernatural horror to hopefully create an exciting, fast-paced piece of fiction.

Some inspiration came from a lot of the films I grew up with: namely The Driver (1978) and all those great demonic horror movies of the 1970s, but mostly it came from a literary source. A couple of years ago I was reading a lot of James Sallis. He was the guy who wrote the novel the film Drive (2011) was based on. I'd read a lot of Dennis Wheatley when I was younger, and I wondered if I could produce something that came across like Sallis writing a Wheatley type story. Thus Reaping the Dark was born...

A streetwise getaway driver…

A drug raid that ends in bloodshed…

A violent criminal hell-bent on revenge…

A secret order of occultists…

And something summoned from the darkest depths of nightmare.

Who will survive this long, dark night, and how will it change them? And what kind of horror will be born from the chaos left behind?

If the old adage is true and we reap what we sow, then only evil can be unleashed by Reaping the Dark.

Available now.

eBook: Amazon UK, Amazon US.
Limited Hardback (low stock): DarkFuse

Reviews are very positive so far:

Weirdmage Review
Strange Tales Review
Tiny Windows Review
The Eloquent Page Review