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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Something's Coming

"I needed no memento or keepsake of this ridiculous night-time ritual. I knew even then it was simply the beginning of something greater; the first throes of a cosmic convulsion that would tear the world apart. But the truth was that Tina had already abandoned me a long time ago. Everything else was just the aftermath."

- Necropolis Beach

Thursday, January 15, 2015


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


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.