Sunday, 16 April 2017

Ascent - drafts, time and theme

Close to two years ago, I wrote this post and a few others before it while writing the first draft of the book that eventually became Ascent. I've just spent the last ten minutes scrolling through my blog to find it which took longer than I thought simply because it was longer ago than I remembered. Two summers ago which either means my sense of time passing is up the spout or I really did write the first draft back in the distant days of 2014-15. Not sure which.

Either way, here we are  - close to publication date of a book that, oddly, went from christ this mess is a total pain in the arse to hey this isn't half bad i think i might have something decent with this one. As I've written another book, the first draft of a second along with detailing a new outline and fresh research for it before starting the second draft and various short pieces since that post two summers ago, it's been a long time since I looked at Ascent in any kind of impartial way. Enough time has passed for me to do that now and I have to say, I like what I see. Crowded Quarantine and I have whipped my original book into shape, streamlined it (hopefully) and I'm pretty chuffed with the finished result. Obviously I try to improve with each new book and it's probably fair to say I've done so with this one. It's a dark tale that if you wanted me to narrow down to a single word for the theme, I'd give you one of the worst of all human experiences.

Guilt.

Ascent - Amazon link

Pre-order link from CQP

Sunday, 2 April 2017

So, yeah, horror's not for everyone

I've probably said on my blog more than once that I think horror as a genre gets a hard time and is looked down on by a lot of people in the same way erotica is. Just as erotica is the same as hardcore porn to some people, all horror is the same - violent, gory for the sake of it, sadistic and without any redeeming features. This was illustrated strongly to me the other day when the trailer for the new version of Stephen King's IT was released. A clip was shared on Facebook splicing the trailer with scenes from the original TV version to suggest there was nothing new in the upcoming film (it's too early to say, of course, and it's worth pointing out most of the scenes from the first version were taken out of context to force the comparison) and I made the mistake of reading the comments.

One, with hundreds of Likes, complained about film-makers still coming up with horror films and how this was wrong because the world is already 'bad enough'. Presumably, the person who left the comment thinks that everything is shite enough without adding more pain and suffering to things. A fair point?

No.

Putting aside the most glaringly obvious flaw in that logic (any imagined horror by a writer or a film-maker automatically loses most of its power when the reader or viewer remembers they're basically playing an adult game of Let's Pretend), the world is not made worse by fictional horrors. It's made worse by ignoring or refusing to stand up against real suffering and injustices. It's made worse by letting the bullies, of all sizes and influences of power, get away with their crap. It's made worse by the same issue in fiction as in reality that gives the bad guys their chance to win.

Not fighting back.

Take the characters in Dracula. They could let the Count get away with it because, let's face it, he's really fucking scary and we should leg it before he kills us or turns into one of the Undead. But no. Harker, Van Helsing, Holmwood, Quincey, Mina and the good doctor Seward take the war right to Drac's house; they wade through blood and they are hurt and they keep going to stop a horrendous evil. The kids in IT do the same because Pennywise fucked with the wrong little boy right at the start; the merry group of hobbits, men, dwarves and elves band together to blow the shit out of Mount Doom and destroy a nifty piece of jewellery because God knows how many lives will be stomped on if they don't.

Whatever the tale, the violence, the gore, the pain and suffering of any horror film or book is not the main issue. It's in the characters and their stories. But I guess some people just see the blood.


So, yeah, horror's not for everyone. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ascent ebook now on Amazon

As well as the print copy of Ascent being available two weeks early via Crowded Quarantine's site, the ebook is now listed for pre-orders on Amazon (with the print to follow on Amazon in a couple of weeks). You can pre-order the paperback direct from CQP or you can order the Kindle version and get it on the publication date. Or wait until the paperback is on Amazon. Is that all clear?

So, over to the linkage:

Amazon UK for ebook

Amazon US for ebook

And the print copy from CQP


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Blowing my own trumpet (Hometown)

Got me a quote from the writer Jennifer Hillier, author of the excellent thrillers Creep, Freak, The Butcher and Wonderland, regarding Hometown which, as you can imagine, I'm plenty chuffed about. Having a good review is always nice; having an excellent one from a writer you've admired for years is a definite bonus.

'Luke Walker's dark and chilling HOMETOWN is not your average horror story. Walker's clean writing enhances a layered plot, complex characters, and scenes of vivid violence. This tale of nightmares-come-to-life is one that will haunt you long after you've finished reading.'

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Ascent - a sneak peek

A churchyard was close by, grown from the lifeless ground in a second even though there’d been nothing but stunted grass and the freeze of the day in its place a moment before. Twisted trees poked their branches towards the grass. Old trunks and rotting foliage spread over the yard, meeting thick bundles of bramble bushes. The green of the shrubberies should have gleamed in the cold sunlight. Instead, they were faded, sickly. This was a dead place, somewhere to do nothing but live in the awful weight of fresh grief and be stuck there forever.
Jutting from the earth where there’d been only more brown grass and ancient trees all twisted together, the church loomed as large as a cathedral, impossibly bigger than it was fifteen years after Alex last visited it. The grey stone was bleached white in places, bricks and mortar cracked and crumbling; the windows all jagged holes and flaking glass. The building didn’t simply exist on the grass, it ate the space it filled, chewing it, mashing it into a gooey paste, then swallowing what was left where it would be dissolved in the icy void of its stomach—broken down into nothing as if it had never been.
Alex’s darting eyes took in more and more of the old building, even as she screamed inside that it couldn’t be here because it was a good place, a happy place of light and worship and decent people. It didn’t belong on a dead day in a dead place with dead wind caressing its exterior, then blowing in through the holes and pitted scars of its frame.
Or through the doors creaking open, the old wood buckling and crumbling as the hinges gave way, snapping before the rusting metal clattered to the ice-cold stone of the steps.
One half of the doors broke free from the frame. It split into several pieces on impact with the ground; the other hung loose, and the pitch-black night living inside the church swirled, danced, beckoned her.
A skinny arm, unclothed so she could see what the disease had done to the flesh and muscle, jutted out of the doorway, more and more of it exposed as the figure slightly beyond the opening came closer. A finger uncurled, the bone no thicker than a twig and the skin as thin as tissue. It curled, uncurled, curled again, and the woman’s voice barely a croak didn’t live in the air and earth as hard as rock. Nothing lived here. The voice was the air and earth; it was every part of this dead place and dead day.
'Alex. Come inside. It’s time for church.'

Ascent - pre-order link (to get the book two weeks early)


Sunday, 19 February 2017

February

After finishing the first draft of my current book about a month ago and knowing the publication of Hometown outside the UK was just ahead, I couldn't really get stuck into anything else on a larger scale (I work best when it's one main piece at a time and then go to other stuff between drafts) which was a bit annoying. Now Hometown is out everywhere and whether it sinks or swims isn't really up to me anymore, I've been free over the last few weeks to look at other work. So since the middle of January, it's been pretty full on and all the more fun for it.

I've written two short stories (current titles Somewhere In The Millions Of Bodies, and An Introduction To The Gods Of Our Imagination), and will sub them to publishers hopefully this week. Of course, I may still be subbing them a year from now, but that's the fun of being a writer especially one without an agent.

I've also gone back to an older book that was originally published about four years ago and has been unavailable since the publisher folded. I think I said at least eighteen months ago I planned on self-publishing it mainly because it's extremely hard to find publishers who take reprints, and while that may still be the case, I haven't rushed rewriting and editing it into an improved version and I won't rush into a decision on what's best for the book publication-wise. Once I've got feedback on it from a couple of writer friends, I'll be in a better position to decide. In any case, it's been interesting reading a fantasy while 99% of my current stuff is horror. As it's me, it's not a nice fantasy, but what the hell? I stick to what I'm good at.

Along with making a few notes for whatever comes next, I've read through my shitty first draft and yes, it is shit. As I've said several times, mine always are, but this is particularly shit. After working out the key issues, I'm now able to focus on the fixes, then plan a new outline for the second draft. Starting from scratch isn't my idea of fun, but needs must. The book (again with the current title - Flesh And Blood) has a lot of potential; it's only fair to see that potential through and not stick with a crappy tale.

So, that's February almost done. Next month, I have a shave. Exciting times ahead.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Ascent - available for pre-order

It turns out my next book, Ascent, is available for pre-order four months before it's out which is rather jolly. Plus, if you order it direct from Crowded Quarantine, you'll get it early. A result all round.

Pre-order link for Ascent