Thursday, January 15, 2015

Slow-going

Not much to report on the writing front. I'm still struggling with this creative block - so much now that I'm starting to fear it might be a permanent thing. All I can do is ride it out and hope for the best. In the meantime, I'll try to work on stories I've been asked to submit and see if I can get at least a couple of them finished. I'll also keep prodding and poking at the new novel, looking for a way in. If this year proves as creatively impoverished as last year, I might just just hang up my spurs and call it a day.

In other news, it was announced yesterday that Spectral Press will publish a new novella of mine to celebrate their 5th anniversary as a publisher. The novella is already written; it's one I'm very proud of. More details to follow.

In the meantime, here's a beautiful painting. I've always loved this and only recently found out what it was called and the name of the artist.


The Wanderer above the Mists (1817-18 - Caspar David Friedrich)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year

So that was 2014.

As years go, it wasn't exactly a great one, but it was far from the absolute personal nightmare of 2013. In terms of my writing, it wasn't an easy 12 months. I spent most of the year wrestling with a dreadful creative block, managing to squeeze out a handful of short stories and a novella but stalling completely on the novel.

With this in mind, I've already christened 2015 The Year of Getting Stuff Done. I'm working on a novel, tentatively titled PLAYING IN THE DARK, that is part of a plan to kill off the creative block. I'm hoping to grade for my karate black belt before the end of the year. My wife and I have decided to move house one final time - an upgrade, a bigger house with the extra space we've suddenly found that we need these days. I'm approaching 2015 with cautious optimism. The world remains a grim, dark, dangerous place and I still feel that we're locked into some kind of endgame as a species...but I continue to strive to make my own little corner of this existence the safest and brightest place that I can for the ones I love.

I hope the coming year is kind to all my family, friends, and readers. Peace to you all.


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.