Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Interview with Ramsey Campbell

Thanks to Sam Missingham over at Lounge Books, I've been able to interview the legendary horror writer Ramsey Campbell. Ramsey has been an influence on countless writers for decades as well as being Britain's greatest living writer of dark fiction. And as he took the time to answer my questions, he's all right with me and free to marry my sister.

You can read the interview OVER HERE, and if you can do me a solid and spread it around, that wound be dandy.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

How to kill your book stone dead

I've been taking my writing seriously since the mid 90s and submitting my work to agents and publishers since 1999. My first sub resulted in a call from the agent (the late Carolyn Whitaker) who asked me various questions while I ummhed and ahhed and said nothing of any value. The work I sent her was crap with a capital C but the fact she took the time to call me and offer encouragement was the coolest thing to happen to me since I got a reply from James Herbert to a letter I wrote him ten years previously.

So, that's more than twenty years of writing with an eye on publication, ten years since my first short story was published and six since the first book. And here's the thing - it doesn't get any easier. The work, the writing, the subbing stuff to agents and publishers and wondering if they will either give a shit or reply at some before I die of old age. The only real change is the ease of subbing. No more stuffing envelopes, buying stamps (remember those?) and trekking to the post box. No more waiting for the postman to stuff an envelope through the letter box, seeing my handwriting and realising it's the return envelope...then realising as it's the same weight and size as the one I sent, that means it's just the sample sent back with a cursory note to say thanks but no thanks. None of that bollocks now. These days, writers can get the same result through email either in a matter of hours (my personal record) or close to three years (also my personal record).

Sending work out has changed, but the words have not. Back when I first started, I had next to no idea what I wanted to say and usually made it up as I went along. The results were directionless, boring messes. Now, I outline and use that as a rough guide. Plotlines sometimes go their own way and characters behave in ways I wasn't expecting which is fine. It's their story, after all. I'm a much faster writer now and usually come up with a draft in about two months. Case in point, I'm working on the second draft of a book currently called Terminal State. I finished the first draft back in January but had to leave it to work on other stuff. It was thin and underdeveloped so I expanded various issues and set to work on the second draft around a month ago. I'm currently 55k in which is good going for me until a couple of nights ago. It felt like I was slogging through mud. The words just didn't want to come and those that did were flat and lifeless. I realised after a while that I had two consecutive scenes that didn't do much for the plot other than lead into a third. They were dragging the pace down to a crawl. That wasn't the only issue. I was looking at the book from a publishing point of view: would anyone like it enough to request the full manuscript based on the opening? If not, what can I change to improve my chances? On the tiny chance that someone goes for it, will they like the entire book or think it goes down the bog halfway through? All questions to kill a draft of a new book stone dead.

Even after more than twenty years, I still have days when the words don't come. Sometimes, there are reasons as I've mentioned; other days, it's just life being a pain in the arse. So, I'll continue with my new book and I won't think about how it's a little different to my usual stuff just as I won't think about the publishers who maybe, just maybe, will give me a call to talk about it.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Horror novel recs

Meant to link to this last week and lost track of time what with working on the new book and sweating my arse off in the longest heatwave Britain has had for about a million years. Anyway, the wonderful Sam Missingham over at Lounge Books has asked me to do a regular series on horror novel recs. The first one is up on the site now, so have a read and hopefully you'll fancy a book or an author that's new to you.

Further recs to come.

HORROR NOVEL RECS

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Unredeemed - audiobook

More good news on The Unredeemed. I've signed a contract with Hellbound for an audiobook release. Obviously, this is a new one for me so I'm extremely pleased about it. I don't know who will be involved; as soon as I do, I'll be posting more details.

And Die Laughing is still free. You've got until tomorrow night (US time) to bag a copy of the Kindle version. The paperback is under a fiver (as is Hometown for that matter), so fill your boots. And between you and me, the second draft of the new book I'm currently working is an expansion of one of the stories in Die Laughing. But I'm not saying which.

Have a good rest of the weekend, all.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Die Laughing - free all weekend

To celebrate the publication of The Unredeemed, I've made Die Laughing free on Kindle all weekend. Yep, free. You can get it for nowt until Monday night.

Links:

UK Amazon

US Amazon

Enjoy.


Friday, 13 July 2018

The Unredeemed - publication day

Today's the day, chums. The Unredeemed is published in ebook and paperback. Obviously, you can get a copy direct from Hellbound's site, but if you prefer the Amazon route, here are the links.

UK Amazon

US Amazon

Hope you like this one. If you'd like to let me know, absolutely do so here or on Twitter or even in the shape of a review. Also if you dig it, check out Dead Sun for more background to a certain character.

More to come about The Unredeemed soon including a bit of news I'm extremely happy about.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Unredeemed - a sneak peek

As The Unredeemed is published tomorrow, I thought it might be nice to share a snippet to give you an idea what to expect. So, here's a look at the opening chapter. And I know I (and just about every other writer in the world) have said it before, but if you do buy it, honest reviews are more than welcome; they're just about essential for a book to have any chance of selling. Ta muchly.

THE UNREDEEMED


I could say this began back in the old days when I committed my first murder. I could say it began more than fifty years ago when I started spending my time in the park close to Azalea Drive. I could even say it began when I died. But I think saying any of that would be a lie.
This began when I met Hayley.

###

The woman entered the park at half past five that evening, exactly as I’d known she would. For the last three days, she’d approached from the entrance on Bedford Avenue at around the same time and jogged through the green in four complete circuits. Dennis and I watched her from a wide cluster of oak trees in the centre, sitting up there on the high branches to study her speed, her grace. She was no older than thirty, tall, thin and had the look of a woman who didn’t take much pleasure in exercise. She wore those dangling wires in her ears, the ones that connect to a device playing music. After watching her complete her jog that first night, I’d wondered about speaking through the wires in her ears, whispering right into her head.
That wasn’t my style, though. I’m not a fan of modern technology. Instead, the situation called for something a little more old-fashioned.
On the third night, a Wednesday, Dennis and I watched and waited until she drew closer before asking Dennis to keep an eye out. While he wasn’t particularly happy with my plan (a cautious fellow, Dennis), he agreed to keep watch.
The woman passed our trees on her second circuit and I swooped down, letting her see me from the corner of her eye.
She turned but all she made out was her long shadow, trailing off into the bushes and gravel that formed a curving trail around the pathways. There was no reason she should think anyone was in those bushes; if someone had been behind her, they couldn’t possibly have made it out of sight so quickly. She jogged on; I followed, keeping to the spiky leaves, slipping through them and ignoring their stupid mutterings that I should leave, that I wasn’t welcome there. What little intelligence living in the greenery and trees had never cared for me, and had spent much of the previous fifty plus years moaning on the wind for me to leave.
The woman and I went around the park for another moment, passing a group of teenage boys who shouted unpleasant comments to the woman, then level with a sleeping man who gripped a bottle of cider while spittle soaked into his matted beard, before we hit an empty section of path. It was perfect.
I shot from the bushes, streaked behind her and crashed into half a dozen weeping willows directly level with her.
She heard nothing, but did see the tremors in the long branches several feet above, despite the lack of wind. She came to a jerking halt, panting hard and staring at the nearest tree. By this time, I’d moved to float right behind her. Her thoughts sped in a blur of images: a bird hitting the tree trunk, a falling branch, conkers (which made no sense since it was late May and the willows were obviously the wrong type of tree), or an animal in the bushes.
For a second, her mind froze. I leaned in closer and caught a thought that wasn’t much more than a flashing image.
Snake.
She wiped her mouth while perspiration on her forehead and neck cooled rapidly and her thinking kicked back into life. Snakes. Stupid idea. No snakes in the park. Even if there were, they’d be grass snakes. Small. Frightened of human noise. Stupid idea.
Interesting, I mused, although it wasn’t with much surprise. Homing in on someone’s weak spot has always been a strength of mine.
The woman took a final look in all directions and resumed jogging. Dennis had followed and waved at me from the willows, his little face pinched and strained.
Are we alone? I called to him and he nodded, still clearly not happy with my minor haunting. To be honest, I knew it was risky. I hadn’t remained on Earth for so long by causing trouble or giving myself away, but sometimes, old habits do indeed die hard.
I waved back to Dennis and followed the woman. She’d barely covered any distance before I brushed against her shin.
She let out a frightened shout and fell, tripping over her own feet. Hitting the ground hard, she rolled to the earthy flowerbeds and held her knees, panting and struggling not to weep. Blood ran in thin streams from cuts on both her knees, and her mouth trembled more in shock than pain. Her eyes rested on the spot I occupied on the other side of the path; she squinted and in the shadows cast by the trees and bushes, she saw the suggestion of my shape. Despite it being only for a moment, it was long enough. She gave a tiny squeak and one hand blocked her mouth as if wanting to keep any noise inside.
I remained still, letting my energy return. Gliding and floating took a fair bit of effort. Walking was easier but not quite as effective when it came to this sort of thing.
Enjoying yourself? Dennis asked and while the woman couldn’t hear his exact words, she caught something in the breeze, something she instinctively recognised as unpleasant – like a bad smell from miles away, blown in by a gust of wind. Still, her eyes didn’t move from the area I filled. She was sure something was there, sure of it but unable to see it.
As always, I replied and Dennis’s worry travelled through the trees.
Don’t get carried away, he warned.
The woman stood, still watching for me. Wincing she took her hand from her wounded knee; dirt and earth spread over the grazes, turning the white of her skin into a grubby red. She glanced down the pathway to the brighter area not overhung by the old branches. Her feelings were clear: she didn’t want to be here. Not right here on this section of path, but in the park at all. She wanted to be at home with the television on loud and the curtains closed against the approaching night.
“Snakes,” I said to her.
She froze. Her eyes were stuck to the flowerbeds opposite. I flapped at the greenery; it shook slightly, creating a whisper in the stillness.
“Snakes.”
She couldn’t hear my word as Dennis would have and that didn’t make a bit of difference. She sensed it and there may even have been a bit of her mind, some part she no longer needed to use, that knew what had spoken to her.
The breeze freshened abruptly which was superb timing for me. The fine hairs on her forearms rose; she hugged her arms across her breasts and limped a few steps away. As soon as her eyes were off me, I breathed to her ears.
Snakes.
Her focus flew back to the bushes across the path. She saw them shake, and saw the first snake slither from the earth. It didn’t matter that there was nothing there. She saw it.
***
  You can pre-order The Unredeemed in ebook and paperback over here - THE UNREDEEMED