Thursday, October 15, 2015


Since I started writing again, I've deliberately kept the number of new projects I'm taking on down to a minimum. I don't want to tempt fate; it feels as if another creative block is always just around the corner. I've had to turn down a few things I really wanted to do, but I need to be realistic about what I can achieve in the small amount of writing time I have available in my daily life.

Recently I accepted a couple of anthology invites. One is for a tribute antho dedicated to a geniune legend in the field and the other is for a book based around the theme of "industrial horror". Yesterday I also got talked into writing a new novella. This novella project is an interesting one: I'm to use a specific piece of (abstract) art as inspiration. How the hell could I possibly turn that down? Ideas are already firing in my brain, and I think I'm going to enjoy tackling this one.

Work on the novel has taken a back seat while I work on those two short stories, but even when we're not writing something we're working on it - plotting and planning and thinking in that small space at the back of our heads we reserve for such malarky.

Back in the real world, we're getting closer to our planned house move. This one's the 20-year house, so if we ever move again it'll be when we retire. We can't wait to get in there.

I think the end of this year is going to be absurdly busy, but busy is good. Busy means you're still moving forward.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


This weekend was a Bank Holiday - that curious British tradition where most people go to the pub and get drunk all day, drive to B&Q warehouses to buy gardening and DIY supplies, or drag caravans along the major motorways and sit in traffic queues with complaining kids,  while the rest of us just stay at home and relax.

This weekend, however, the wife and I went to view a couple of houses we liked. One of them we like enough that we think we'd like to buy it. On Saturday we accepted an offer on our place and have arranged a second viewing this week...after four months of zero movement on the house front, this is exciting news.

Next week my son starts High School. I'm terrified how old that makes me.

On the writing front, I've now handed in the final edit of There's a Bluebird in My Heart, and hopefully the chapbook will get an October release. I'm very excited about this project.

While I was writing the story it occurred to me that I'd like to write more tales set in the same fictional world. Perhaps a sequence of loosely-linked stories, going under the title of Invisible Monsters. We'll see.

I've started thinking about submitting a proposal for a new short story collection to a few publishers, but I'm not in a hurry. I have a couple of new short stories on the boil that I'd like to finish first.

I've been thinking a lot about the novel at the minute - the one I've now been working on, on and off, for about three years. Later this week, now that I've got Bluebird settled, I plan to dive back into that beast and crack on to the end.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Three days ago I returned from a family holiday. We spent two weeks in a huge villa in Dalyan, Turkey - a small, laidback place at the edge of a beautiful river close to where it meets the sea. We swam, ate wonderful food, spent a glorious day on a boat touring the coastline, experienced a restorative mud-bath and bathed in the thermal, enjoyed a Turkish Bath and full body short, we had an amazing, relaxing time. I read 8 books while we were there. That's almost the same number as I read it total all of last year. And something curious - something good - happened.

I regained my creativity.

I wrote most of the first draft of a story in a notebook, and all that reading fired up my creative furnace. Most of all, I started to once again believe in what I was doing. I've realised that was the problem, the reason why I was suffering from such a horrendous case of writer's block: I'd stopped believing in writing, ceased to have faith that it meant anything more than just another deluded arsehole writing yet another genre book that would vanish from the shelves a few months after it was published (if it was even published at all).

All that is still probably true, but the crucial difference now is that I don't care. I believe in my writing again, and that, my friends, is priceless. It's the one thing that keeps any creator going.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Idle Musings

Not  too long ago writing came pretty easily to me. My head was bursting with ideas, I was prolific, and often there seemed to be a direct link between brain and keyboard; all I had to do was sit down and type. I remember my late friend Joel Lane saying to me that he sometimes felt I was simply transcribing the tales that sat fully formed in my mind.

These days it isn't as easy. Something happened, the connection frayed. Now writing is dificult; I struggle to get the words onto the page. I have two deadlines this month: an essay about a Nigel Kneale scripted film and a short story for a chapbook. I'm scared that both of these projects will turn out to be shit, or that I'll simply fail to finish them. I never used to worry too much about the latter, just followed the muse and believed that every piece of writing would be finished in time. But now that fear is a barrier between me and the completion of a project. One I must either navigate around, climb over, or kick the fuck down.

I'm still too afraid to resume working on the novel. It sits there mocking me, laughing at my procrastination. Maybe getting those other two projects finished will give me the energy to wipe the smug smile off its face. Perhaps writing this blog is in itself an act of defiance and will bolster my armoury for the battle. I hope so. The little bastard is starting to annoy me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cover and a Hike

Below is the almost-finalised cover for The Grieving Stones, a new novella to be published by Spectral Press early in 2016. I think the addition of the stylised text really makes this one pop.


In other news, I'm part of a small team doing the Severn Trent Water Mountain Challenge on 11th July. We aim to complete the 30-mile hike in 12 hours for the WaterAid charity. Any donations would be greatly appreciated. Just follow the link to donate to either me or the team as a whole:

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Grieving Stones

Artwork (c) David Verba
Early 2016 will see the publication of my new 30,000-word novella, The Grieving Stones.
Click on this link to the publisher's website for more details:

Spectral Press
Above you will see the cover art, by the remarkable David Verba. It's surreal, ambiguous, abstract - three things I really love. Hopefully the story will do this artwork justice.

The novella was the last thing of substance I managed to produce before a form of writer's block stopped me writing for a lengthy period of time. I know now it was simply part of my creative process - an unfortunate lull in my creativity, during which I needed to refill the well. At the time, it felt like the end of my world.
I remember editing the piece on holiday in Menorca last summer. At the time, I'd hoped the editing process would help clear the creative block, but that didn't happen. Thankfully I'm writing again, but the memory of working on this story is a painful one. Every word felt like it was ripped out of me; each page was another layer of skin being torn from my body. It was hard work, but I'm proud of the finished novella. Things that are toughest to write often end up being your favourite pieces. The struggle makes the end product that little bit more worthwhile. That's how it works for me, anyway.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Yesterday I was in Grasmere, the Lake District with some work colleagues. We did a 13-mile hike, which involved climbing a peak called Pavey Ark via a Grade 1 scramble known as Jack's Rake. The scramble was my favourite part of the trip - climbing up a gulley along the side of the huge rock, a fatal drop on one side and a cliff face on the other. I scampered up there like a giddy little monkey, finding hand and foot holds with ease and often simply pulling myself over tricker parts. A big smile plastered across my face.

Marvellous fun.

It struck me that such a location would be a great setting for a hard-edged horror story. I can't think of any horror films or novels set there, although that doesn't mean it hasn't been done. I have that vague tingling at the back of my mind that oftend signals the beginning of a writing project - a novella, maybe, perhaps about a group of people on a walking trip who stumble across something more ancient than even the hills, and disturb its slumber. If nothing else, the research would be immensely enjoyable.