Welcome to my blog.
Writing is a time consuming process. Fortunately, the internet allows me to bring you updates and events about my books. Those will be listed below. Feel free to contact me if you have any queries or requests.
Welcome to my blog.
Writing is a time consuming process. Fortunately, the internet allows me to bring you updates and events about my books. Those will be listed below. Feel free to contact me if you have any queries or requests.
It’s been a busy few weeks (nothing new there) but I’ve decided to finally reveal my upcoming UK convention schedule for the remainder of 2017.
I wanted to ensure that certain dates were confirmed before doing this, and now I have that confirmation, I am happy to share the news with you. The convention scene for 2017 has been prolific so far, and that will continue throughout the year. I’m also working on my first overseas appearance in Seattle, which will consist of a book signing appearance and some surprise attendances. I still need to iron out the details yet, but it’s very exciting. Watch this space for developments.
On that note, I will be attending the following events in 2017:
April 29/30 – Em-Con, Nottingham
May 6 – Oldham Comic Con
May 13/14 – Horror Con Rotherham
July 1/2 – Swansea Horror Con
September 23/24 – MCM Glasgow
October 7/8 – NorCon, Norwich
October 28/29 – Birmingham Halloween Horror Con
Unless something unforeseen occurs, I will be in attendence on all days of these dates.
I’m looking forward to meeting my readers again; I attended several of these events in 2016 and they were an absolute blast. Not only that, but I was able to meet many of my fellow authors for a drink and a chinwag. This year is no different; I already have plans for several of these conventions, but if anyone wants to meet up following the event, just PM me on Facebook or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
See you soon!
Yes, I’m shocked. It’s been more than a whole year since I blogged on my own website.
Bloody hell! From a personal standpoint, this is unacceptable. In fairness, though, it’s been an immensely busy year. Much has happened and changes have occurred, all for the best I’m happy to say. To detail everything here would take an absolute eternity, so i’ll just go with the highlights:
I’ve released a host of novels including Awakening and Amy, the conclusion to the Charlotte Chronicles trilogy. Whispers – Volume 3: A Third Collection is also available now, as are 89 and 8 Church Field. I released Gemini, a serial killer story with a twist, co-written with promising horror writer, Matt Hickman. This story certainly had people gasping for breath. My first zombie novel, Outbreak, debuted last month at the Walker Stalker convention.
I have also started the All Tied Up With String series, a series of fourteen personalised short stories aimed at loyal readers, which are exclusive to Kindle Unlimited and Kindle readers. At present, I am working on Dani and Resurgence, the sequels to Grin, and a new horror novel, Oedema. If you need one main reason why I have failed to blog, this surge of output is it. My productivity is currently at an all-time high, and I intend to take advantage.
All of the titles mentioned are available on Amazon now, via the button to the right.
I’ve attended multiple conventions throughout 2016 and 2017, both as a vendor and guest! Whether it was one of the horror cons in cities like Birmingham, Rotherham, and Bristol, comic conventions in Nottingham, Birmingham (I love this place), Telford, and Glasgow, a Film Expo in Southampton, or Walker Stalker 2017, it’s been an immensely packed year. Conventions give me an excellent opportunity to meet and greet with readers new and old – it’s one of the biggest benefits of this vocation.
Since my last blog post was just after Walker Stalker 2016, you can see just how busy my time has been. Aside from meeting a plethora of celebrities and fellow authors, artists and cover designers, these events enable me to develop my brand, and I’m happy to say that 2016 did just that. Now I am blogging again, keep an eye out for my upcoming convention schedule. All dates are confirmed bar one, so I will post this in due course.
I had some tattoos done. Nothing exciting to the majority, but I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time. My mind always comes back to the ink, it’s a side effect of the creative world I work in. I intend to have two full sleeves at some point – again, this is a time consuming process, so this may take some time before I/you see the final results. Luckily, I’m in the hands of an excellent tattoo artist called Alan, so I have total faith. He has also produced some art work for several of my upcoming book releases. You can see his work here.
A recent development this; I’ve been generating and sticking to a healthy diet plan. As a writer, a majority of my time is spent in a chair before a computer screen. As a result, exercise and a healthy diet can easily be forgotten. It becomes easy to snack and eat without routine, without even thinking about it. Thankfully this, due to some severe health complications in the family, is now a thing of the past. Since the complications are potentially hereditary, I believe prevention is a better route than a cure, when it’s too late. I am beginning to see results on this, much to my amazement. I always doubted diets, hated the bloody things. To see it working is a huge motivator.
I passed my driving test! I am now one of the many who flip the bird while shouting at unruly road users. Hurrah!
Oh, yes. Vincent is still Vincent, the adorable psychopath that stalks our halls and wiggling toes when we least expect. The beautiful bastard!
Those are the highlights. The purpose of this blog was to give you guys an update, more than anything else. Many of you speak to me on social media anyway, so the above will not be news to you. If you read this and don’t have me on Facebook or Twitter, feel free to add me. One thing I am aiming to do going forward? Blog more regularly, and use the website daily. I’m also awaiting some modifications to the website itself, which will update all pages in due course. You can also expect some exciting changes in the future. Watch this space…
Until then, ciao!
Wow, has it been two months since I posted a blog?
I swear the website just slips by me sometimes, but it has been a very busy few months. To keep it short, my rota for January and February has been simple: Write, write, sleep, finish 89, start Oedema, polish Kids for Dark Chapter Press — which is available for pre-order, and sitting at #1 in the Horror bestseller charts on Amazon as of writing this — more writing, spend time with the wife, and get a new cat.
The last of those has been an experience in itself, and expect Vincent (named after the legendary Vincent Price) to feature in a future blog. I’m lucky I can actually write this with the scratches on my hands, such is the aggressive nature of a marble Bengal, but I digress.
Anyway, a lot has happened since my last post, but 2016 is fast becoming the year of the convention. Thus far, I have attended three in 2016 — two of which were within a week of one another — and plan to attend five more (currently) before the year is out. Details of these can be found below, so if you wish to get a book signed/buy a book and get it signed, you know where I’ll be. However, today’s post is about a particular convention that was a lot of fun, not only as a privileged vendor, but as a huge fan of a certain popular TV show. That’s right…
That’s right, the Walker Stalker Convention, which took place at the London Olympia in Hammersmith. To be honest, I was dreading this convention after the unorganised chaos that was London Film and Comic Con in June of last year, which took place in the same venue. As usual I attended the event with Matt Shaw, and we were included in a select few who were offered the chance to play vendor for the weekend. This was clear when we arrived, with a minimal amount of stalls set up, and it soon dawned on us that people might be coming to this event purely for the celebrity factor. A majority of the cast members from The Walking Dead were on hand for the event — including Norman Reedus, who gathered a five-hour plus queue at one point — so it was clear where people’s hard-earned money was going. Which was fine, but we dreaded sitting behind a table for sixteen hours with nothing to do, which is the initial feeling we got from the event.
We were wrong.
The event was an absolute thrill. From an professional point of view, I’ve never sold so many books at a convention. I had people picking them up and buying in handfuls, inquisitive readers and authors asking advice about horror, some general tomfoolery, and thousands of horror fans walking by. Mr Shaw also brought along his infamous head mould (see below), which garnered some significant attention throughout the weekend. One man even snogged the head to win a free book; I’ve never seen Matt gag before — hilarious! The shocker was that the competition only sat on the table for thirteen minutes before someone accepted it. We won’t mention all the probing, curious fingers that went into the gaping mouth beforehand…
The celebrity factor was, unbelievably, quite painless. I expected hour long queues, an inconvenience when hosting a stall, but this fear was for nought. I was in line for a two photo ops for a mere four minutes past the allotted time, before having the pictures taken, and they pushed everyone through efficiently and expertly. A painless, excellent experience. It was no wonder they brought their convention staff over from the U.S. It worked wonders, and really gave the event a personal, professional feel. Oh, and the photos were with Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori), and later on David Morrissey (The Governor).
Overall, it was just a nice place to be, and seeing the fans come out to play, and giving our humble little stand a bit of notice, was very exciting. By the Sunday lunch time, I’d sold out of everything, and Matt — who had four times as many books — was not far off by the time I scuttled off to catch an earlier train at 2pm. We were pleasantly surprised at the outcome, considering we expected to sell nothing during the weekend. But, with 8,000 people attending, we should have expected it…
So would I do it again? Yes. I’m certain I have the convention bug, there’s something about meeting the readers, seeing people admire and contemplate your work, people who aren’t scared to come over and say hi, have a general chat and, in some instances, grab a photo or two (like Simon above). Its definitely one of the more rewarding aspects of this brilliant career, one I’ve loved every second of so far. I’m approaching my third year as a writer (the first as a full time writer), and I hope there are many more years to come. However, this inevitably means I will be attending more UK conventions in 2016, and here are the details. Click the links for tickets or information.
Birmingham – MCM Comic Con — March 19 & 20
Nottingham – Em Con – The East Midlands TV & Film Convention — April 30 & May 1
Sheffield – Horror Con 2016 — July 9 & 10 (Pending)
Chatham, Kent – Invicta Con 2016 — August 7
Bristol – Horror Con 2016 — October 15
If I get any more, I will add them to a separate blog post, but I don’t think this is bad going. I look forward to seeing you all at your respective venues. In the meantime, watch this space for news regarding a couple of exciting projects I have in the pipeline, my confirmed book release line up for 2016 — the next blog post — and some interesting news regarding All or Nothing … which is currently sitting with a talented screenwriter.
2016 is going to be a busy year. Ciao!
First of all, Happy New Year to everyone. The end of 2015 was a simple one for me; half work and half play, more so the former than the latter. Christmas is a time of celebration with my family — three Christmas Days will really take it out of you — and New Year is a time to settle back and relax. No longer do the fireworks and expensive evenings with random strangers appeal to me, such has been the case for several years. But, it gives me a chance to ease into the New Year without a splitting headache, and enables me to get back to work at a reasonable pace.
Today, I come to you with some exciting news. First of all, I have recently signed a publishing contract with Matt Shaw Publications, run by the one and only Matt Shaw. Matt has recently established this aspect to his services, one he hopes will usher in a new wave of talent for the horror fans out there. I’m aware that I’m the second signing thus far to his new venture, but I am really excited about getting started. Matt and I have chatted for quite some time, ever since I started out with my writing, and he was very influential in getting me out of the starting blocks, so to speak. I now consider him a friend as well as a fellow writer, so this business partnership was a no-brainer really.
The second part of the news also involves Matt Shaw; we’ve decided to write a collaborative novel together. The details are still being etched out, but we are setting the tale in a haunted house. It features an investigator who meets up with some Dark Tourists in an abandoned house for a forty-eight hour sleepover. You can also expect two alternate time lines in the story. This should be an experience if nothing else, but I already feel this is going to be something special. Watch this space for details…
Aside from this, I am currently confirming several dates for various conventions around the U.K during 2016, and I have a finalised schedule for releases too. Seven books are planned this year, so it should be a busy one. Catch my next blog post (Thursday) for full details.
Well, it’s been an awful long time since I blogged, nearly two months in fact. I can blame it on a multitude of things, but neglecting the website is no excuse, even with all the deadlines and work I had to meet and produce in October. It was probably the busiest month of my career so far, so apologies to anyone who missed me. I will try to prevent a repeat in the future.
So, October finished with two new releases (Cine and Grin), several anthology acceptances and a host of meet and greets, parties and collaborations. In light of this, months ago, I booked a two week period in November for self-appointed holiday. As unlikely as burning out is for me — I work 16 hours a day, if it was going to happen, it probably would have by now — I wanted some time away from the books, to ensure 2016 starts with a bang. Did this happen? Well, kind of.
Another reason for the holiday was the release of Fallout 4, one of the most anticipated video games of the year. I expected to immerse myself in this game and lose hours to the fictional world of post-apocalyptic Boston, thus using up a chunk of the allotted two weeks. I feel for my amazing, supportive wife, I really do. However, with more deadlines approaching and prestigious anthology invites pending, my mind couldn’t rest. Thus, I was back at the computer in the evenings, leaving Fallout 4 behind after only two days. Ten days later, I had two invites written and complete. So much for the holiday. However, this led to the next big event on my calender.
I was invited to the event by THE Matt Shaw. Many are aware of Matt’s online personality, and some disagree with his refreshingly brutal honesty, but Matt is a genuinely nice guy, and very supportive with it. He was one of the authors who took the time to support me when I was starting out, he provided some crucial advice and information, and we now chat regularly. In July, he invited me to the London Film and Comic Con, and I kind of caught the bug from there. After sharing the event with him, it opened my eyes to a whole new world, a new personal avenue to meet and greet with readers — old or new — alike. When he invited me to Birmingham to repeat the event, it was a no-brainer.
We were there for the 21st and 22nd of November, Saturday and Sunday. We got to meet a host of people, including readers, fans, cosplayers with a Masters degree in outfit design, and even the odd celebrity or two — on Matt’s part anyway. The best thing about these events is talking to readers about books — our books too, but also about books in general. We also discussed our influences, met a couple of very useful contacts, admired a variety of cosplay costumes, sold some books to adult film stars, spent too much money. Most of all, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the day courtesy of a very efficiently run event. MCM, you did yourselves proud.
We were also met up with fellow author Iain Rob Wright, who invited us for a meal in the evening with his wife, Sally. As a table of authors, we chatted about the normal topics…those which will remain secret. It was the perfect end to a hectic day, one that had me snoozing as soon as my head hit the pillow a few hours later.
Why did I feel the need to blog about this? Well, despite the six hours of travel — there and back — and the rush of the event itself, attending the Saturday on 2 hours sleep, and braving the tubes and trains of a busy London, I came home feeling rewarded. It was a weird feeling, one that took me a few days to process.
Let me explain. The feeling of meeting a reader — whether they are buying the latest book from you like our friend, Frankie Yates (Spock in the above photo), or a brand new reader who is discovering you for the first time (like her friend Frances, also pictured) — will always be a special moment. To see people wandering over, picking up the titles that attract them from afar and reading the blurbs, titles you spent hours crafting, noticing their reactions as they hold the book in hand, with intend to buy, is a truly unique moment. One special moment involved a customer covering Whispers – Volume 1 during perusal because her fear of clowns was a little too much. I have an amazing cover artist to thank for that moment, but it introduced me to a complete stranger, someone who loves their horror as much as I do, and was willing to brave their fear to investigate further.
It’s this personal touch that is only available at a convention. A personal meet and greet, with no boundaries, no charge — minus the odd non-compulsory purchase — and no restrictions. People asked for photos and chatted and mingled with us, but not once did it feel impersonal. In fact, away from the world of Facebook, it was liberating to chat to real people, people who might not have access to said social media, people who are as like-minded as you when it comes to the horror genre, and people who are willing to give your work a chance because they took the time to leave their homes and enjoy the atmosphere of an event that brings these individuals together.
For me, giving back to the readers is paramount, and these conventions prove that, given the chance, people will give you a chance to begin with. As an author, that is a pretty special relationship, and one major reason why I chose this career path. Creating characters and worlds to provide entertainment has its rewards, and this convention was solid proof of that. I’ll have to stock up on books again, but the moment of joy on people’s faces when they discover a new book, and potentially a new regular author (one chap dressed as Mario appeared on both days, and would purchase our entire back catalogue of books on display) is truly one to behold. People ask why I do this? Well, there are many reasons, but this will be near the top of the list.
Will I do another convention? I’m already booked for Midlands Comic Con at Telford in February. See you there…
I have something a little different for my blog post today, something that caught me off-guard at 4am on a chilly Monday morning. In a way, I’m still processing it slowly, my mind has been a blur for the past two days, mainly because of the emotional heft behind a personal, heart-felt email I received from a reader. I’m not one to share my emotions often – after all, a horror author’s mind works slightly differently – but it felt right to do so here.
Before I continue, some context.
Several weeks ago, I offered to send my books (Charlotte, All or Nothing, The Customer Is Always… and Whispers – Volume 1: A Collection) to an avid reader. The reason? She loved two of them, dropped me two kind reviews, and aims to get around to the others at some point. She has supported my work for some time. The person in question – who will remain anonymous during this post – is very busy, but an avid reader, a massive horror fan, one who truly treasures their reading time.
During multiple discussions, I’ve discovered a life rife with tragedy and rippled with torment, including a troubled childhood. Since a young age, she has found solace in her books and because of my writing, I have been fortunate enough to connect with this woman, been lucky enough to share book recommendations and literature discussion.
She has a massive passion for horror so, to this end, I have no problem sending free, signed books to people who respect the genre, people who qualify horror reading as a hobby.
Anyway, fast forward several weeks – to Monday morning – and I received an email from this person. I sat down, I read it, I nearly cried. Yes, me, tears nearly fell from my cold, dead, horror-scribing eyes. I have no shame in admitting this. After composing myself, I replied slowly, taking it in, a little unsure of what to say, speechless in some instances. The reader had taken the time to email me about a poignant moment in her life and make me aware of how my writing has affected her, for the positive good.
The power of the written word can affect people in different ways. For this reason, she was more than happy for me to blog about this email, to share her heart-felt communication, one that will remain with me forever. As you are about to read, it provided an elderly man with a few hours of precious joy. Readers and authors, PLEASE read this, this is one of the reasons we do what we do.
Anyway, without further ado. Here is the email in her own words.
I was showing my dad your books you sent me tonight as he was a huge horror fan for a long time and we shared our Stephen King and James Herbert books. My dad is 70 in November, recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is here visiting us “whilst he can” from Australia.
He rang me 6 weeks ago to say he had Parkinson’s and also that he was coming over as didn’t know if or when he might again. Bittersweet. I cried for days reading about the decline with Parkinson’s. Awful.
He has not read for years, finds it hard. He picked up Charlotte and I told him I loved it. I just said how good and creepy it was, next thing I think he’s just browsing it then realised he was reading it! At the dinner table after dinner. He started reading, right there, he’s still going at 11:33pm! He’s loving it and he’s a critical man so that’s high praise and he’s enjoying his discovery of the novella which is easier for him to finish.
It brought tears to my eyes as I now know new Stephen King books I’ve sent him he’s never read and he so loved his books. So, sometimes a book reaches people in powerful ways. I was loving watching him engrossed with his glass of red wine.
Thank you for sending me books, or this moment would never have come. Those books were meant to come here!
Twice I said “what do you think Dad?” And he said “yeah it’s really good” which for him is a five star review. My Dads bookcase introduced me to horror as a teen, scared myself silly reading Cujo – asking Dad to look under the bed every night for months in case a rabid dog was under there. There were so many. Some fantasy too – the entire Chronicles of Thomas Covenent, The Unbeliever.
My dad has always been super active and to see his hands trembling holding the book to read was just so emotional. I felt like Dad and I really connected. As you say the power of the written word helped my dad escape for hours away from Parkinson’s and all his other worries. He leaves on Thursday and I’m going to be a bloody mess. I want my dad to stay.
He’s not on Goodreads or Amazon so there will be no stars or review but you’ve made a top bloke rediscover his love of horror books and reading and that’s like gold to me. Keep writing!
I don’t really know what to say. I started writing books for fun, mainly because its been a dream for many years. To have this impact on someone, one person who uses books to escape their life just for a few hours, is absolutely phenomenal. I have since contacted the reader and I have organised a batch of books to be sent to Australia – to her father so he can have his own copies.
Authors, you know why we write, if it’s appreciated by just one person, if we know we’ve made a person happy, given them some joy and entertainment, then we’ve succeeded. Readers will also know the power of a good book, one that gives you an escape, some solace, for a few hours a day.
So, that was my Monday morning. If I never do anything else in my writing career from this moment forward, this email from the heart will always be a very proud, amazing moment for me.
It came to my attention today that Dark Chapter Press is over a year old. I avoided Facebook for much of Saturday, sometimes it’s the best way to relax, but when I made a fleeting visit and saw this blog post from Rob McEwan, I thought one thing.
I’m a busy author, so some things slip under the radar. The fact the very press I work for has just reached its first anniversary is phenomenal. Rob sums it up perfectly in the blog, and some of the comments are excellent – so full of praise from the dedicated, hard-working authors we have come into contact with over the past 365 days. The blog post is totally worth a read. Go on, do it now…I’ll wait.
Read it? Good.
One year ago, I submitted a flash fiction piece to the very competition he mentions in the blog. I won with my submission, Pieces, which now has a home in Whispers – Volume 1: A Collection. This was my first attempt at flash fiction, so for Rob to pick it as the winner was a proud moment for me. Which brings me to my short point…
I said a year ago that Dark Chapter Press were going places. A year on, hindsight is awesome. If you’d asked me a year ago if DCP would have Shaun Hutson provide the Kill For A Copy foreword, I would have said yes. Call it intuition or something more, but I sensed that Dark Chapter Press were going to make waves. Sometimes, you just know, and seeing DCP progress, evolve and develop in the way I thought they would, it makes me proud.
Is it because I work for them? Of course, but even if I wasn’t, I would still be supporting DCP in every way possible. The reason for this is simple – Rob McEwan is a hard-working publisher who busts his arse to make quality horror books for true horror fans. When he approached me to become an editor, I didn’t quite believe it, but to be involved in something so special, so amazing – well, there are no words.
When I submitted my flash piece last year, he could have shot it down, rejected it. I wouldn’t have minded, it comes with the territory, but he didn’t. In fact, Rob ensured that my piece received the recognition it deserved and since that moment, I have had more confidence in my flash writing. A year on, I see this in Rob everyday; he is proud of the writers who come to DCP, the authors willing to dedicate their time to their craft and reap the rewards. As a result, people submit stories and DCP is slowly becoming the name on everyone’s lips. A good publisher should be nurturing the future of the industry, encouraging them, and DCP do just that.
DCP are going places, it’s true, the proof is in the pudding. I knew this a year ago and now other authors are starting to realise. It’s been one busy, successful year…and here’s to many more.
You could be forgiven for thinking the horror genre has become complacent, lazy. The genre, as a whole, is lacking in many areas. In film, the genre is chock full of tame remakes, films that pilfer the original source material for inspiration, inspiration that ultimately falls flat because the original story isn’t meant for a modern audience. In books, the easy way out if to use the same, tired tropes – serial killers, bogeymen and, heaven forbid, vampires. Yes, the story is easy to write, but it doesn’t mean we want to see the same story over and over again. It’s boring and it isn’t exciting. Horror fans want something new, something fresh.
The Ancient Lawman is one such book. The premise is simple. We’re whisked back to 1656, to a time of violence and debauchery, where the mysterious entity of the title rules supreme. A silent behemoth with a mean streak, he knows when people are guilty and when they are innocent, a judge, jury and executioner with a lethal sixth sense if you will. After a particularly gruesome opening, which sets the story perfectly, we are transported to modern day USA. FBI agent Lucinda Ackerman is transporting a convict to death row when a terrible accident alters her course. During the incident, The Ancient Lawman is unleashed on the small town of Tinkerhill Falls and Ackerman, and her colleagues, must do anything to stop it…
First of all, let’s get something straight here. Chances are, you will root for the bad guy. The entity of the title is a modern day Michael Myers, a demonic, unstoppable force with no reservations, no feelings and no qualms about butchering the guilty. His job is to unleash justice on those deserving of it, and if anyone gets in the way…well, it gets messy. Much like Jason in his later movies, the character is a sight to behold and the victims matter not. However, don’t let this put you off, The Ancient Lawman has much more going for it.
Like many horrors, there’s a swathe of 2D characters littering these pages. Fine, it’s expected, Lawman has a job to do, cannon fodder is welcome, and offing too many characters we’ve invested in would be exhausting. What we do have though, are two solid main characters in Ackerman and the local sheriff, Elroy Williams. Noakes writes excellent female leads and Ackerman is no exception – tough, ballsy, a mean streak that would put Reacher or Bauer to shame. Williams is her foil, the local sheriff teamed with the experienced FBI woman, one that makes for a genuine relationship that forms an emotional story behind the violence and brutality.
Now, I’ve read the reviews and the main concern was an out of place sex scene, one that ruins the brief connection between the characters, very early on, and leaves a sense of awkwardness between the two. I do know the book underwent a rewrite and I can confirm this isn’t the case. Is it awkward? Yes, its the result of two like-minded individuals – in this case, lonely cops married to their careers – who invest in a night of passion. It was always going to be awkward, its how spontaneous sexual encounters work, but it’s this genuine feeling, this realistic playing field that immerses us in a story of desperation against the violent unknown. When the shit hits the fan, we’re right in the middle of it and we want the characters – characters we understand because we’ve been in their shoes – to survive. It’s a clever trick by Noakes, one that makes the story all the more interesting.
Then there’s the violence. Glorious! Noakes has a descriptive knack to his death scenes, one that was ever present during his other horror novel, Hourglass Heights – the review can be located earlier in my blog. Some authors tend to splash the blood without artistic merit or thought. Noakes does this in style, each death a mini set-piece, one that separates the story with effortless execution. Are some over the top? Sure, but when were Jason and Michael ever cautious about their kills. The Ancient Lawman simply follows in their shoes and in the process, Noakes has invented a literary bogeyman, one that could work in multiple sequels – think different times in history. Lawman vs. Hitler anyone?
To summarise, it’s not for everyone. Some individuals are throw away and at times, the jumping between multiple characters will grate on your patience. However, persevere and you will be rewarded with a genuinely frightening horror story, a book balanced correctly between 80’s B- Movie homage and lean, thrilling horror lore. The Ancient Lawman is a rarity in literature, a horror novel that plays out like a movie in your head and provides addictive words on the page. Noakes has followed up Hourglass Heights with another phenomenal effort. If more horror stories had balls to be this brave, this unorthodox…well, reading would become exciting and unpredictable again.
I’m holding a release party at 7pm GMT tonight. Multiple prizes will be up for grabs and some fun competitions will be taking place. Pop along for a chance to win, chat or simply watch the amusing comments. Find the gathering here.
The initial feedback is very positive, and people stayed up all night to read the book. An honour for any horror author. You can buy Cine here.
Lake Whisper. The perfect town for retirement, the ideal location to raise your children away from the bustle, crime and chaos of ordinary society. Quiet, quaint, beautiful.
Whispers Cinema. It could be the greatest establishment to hit Lake Whisper’s shores, one that provides the residents with some much needed entertainment, some activity away from their routine, sensible lives. Within hours, the cinema is a phenomenal success with the townsfolk, it’s the buzz on everyone’s lips.
Until a teenager mysteriously vanishes on their property.
Then, more people begin to disappear. Colleagues don’t turn up for their 9-5. Family members fail to keep organised arrangements. Frustrated by the procedure of police investigation, the teenager’s friends seek the truth and meet a dead end at every turn. Despite their lack of evidence, they can’t seem to shake that sinister feeling, the suspicion that surrounds the cinema, one that has everyone in Lake Whisper caught off-guard.
Which is when Whispers Cinema invites the entire town for a free showing…
As a horror writer, a lot of my inspiration comes from the movies. I was born in 1981, which certifies me as an eighties child, so I was exposed to a majority of the films that the decade had to offer. I remember visiting my granddad’s on every other Saturday and the ‘Video Man’ – that was his name, he plied his trade from the boot of a black, hearse-like car, a huge monstrosity to a five/six/seven-year-old kid – would come around and offer us the latest VHS treats that technology had to offer. A car full of videos? Sign me up.
This went on for some time, some years even. As a result, I would discover some of my favourite 80’s movies, ones I still watch to this day – Predator was the most relevant, that alien beast is as dear – and über cool – to my heart now and it ever was. I also saw my fair share of horror movies, some great, some not so much. I mean, who remembers the unfortunate cop who had his limbs and arms hacked off, only to be strung from a ceiling chain, screaming and bleeding in agony? I do…I was eight when I saw that in The Horror Show (House III as it was known in the UK) and it stuck with me. The scene was grotesque and it was one of the first films that proved to me that humanity really is helpless against pure evil. Another thing – the cover is still eerie to this day. >>>>
Which brings me to my blog topic for today. I love the 80’s, I know a few of you who share this sentiment and a few who don’t – after all, if you were born in the 90’s, the 80’s is like a boring history lesson to some of you…for others, it’s a moment to reflect – I know some people who were born in the 90’s and educated their children on 80’s culture (gold star to the parents there), so this will be a little bit of fond reminiscing for anyone who loved the decade.
I want to talk about 80’s horror, specifically moments in the genre that defined my horror education as a kid, the moments that made me realise horror was my calling and, in harsh, honest flashback, the moments that had me screaming like a little boy who had yet to learn anything about one of the most engaging movie genres in the industry. I have a few blogs lined up for this feature so…let’s begin.
Let’s start with…
Putting books aside (yes, you Mr. Laymon, Mr. King and Mr. Herbert), a young child didn’t have easy access to horror in movie form. There was no Internet, no YouTube and you certainly couldn’t download one, or borrow a horror movie from John Smith at school. No, when I wrapped my terrified eyeballs around a horror flick, it’s because an adult would let me. Some may frown upon this but hey, I turned out fine. I appreciated it – I knew from an early age that Santa was a parent dressed in a suit, the Easter Bunny had connotations to the shape of Jesus’ burial barrier and I also knew that horror films were just that – film. Fake, scripted, not real. My parents instilled this in me from an early age so, if I did happen to stumble across a film that wasn’t suitable for me, I would see it for what it was.
However, this also allowed my parents to censor films that they thought were too nasty. They bought them, sure, but I had to make do with the covers, sneaking the video from the shelf for a gander at the pictures. Children’s books? Pah, I had videos to admire, read, draw. For a young kid, covers were my solid introduction to the world of horror films. They scared the shit out of me too. Now, I look at them with fond memory – hell, I have several in frames ready for my office wall – but there’s no doubt about it – VHS Covers scared me before most films did.
S0, here are my top 5 (in no particular order)…
Fright Night stuck with me the longest. I remember seeing this poster shortly after seeing the Salem’s Lot (1979) trailer for the very first time…the image of a young vampire floating by the window, evil gaze in full motion, fangs bared, scraping with a long fingernail on the single pane glass…terrifying. Then, I see this poster which cemented vampires into my young, susceptible brain. The eyes are what did it for me, I couldn’t look at the image for too long. I even found myself looking into the sky at night, hoping not to see this sinister grin high above my house. I didn’t go near the window for a few weeks either.
Now, vampires are rarely entertaining, but back in my youth, the Fright Night cover was the perfect advert for an equally horrifying movie. If you haven’t seen it, do so!
Body horror has a lot to answer for. Hellraiser was a cover that enticed me, tempted me to look. The sight of the infamous Pinhead on the cover was just the safe side of scary for me…but there’s no doubt that his punctured image, like Freddy and Jason around him, was one that ignited the 80’s horror craze, even to this day. This, however, is only part of the story. When I turned the VHS case over to look at the blurb, and saw a mutilated Frank Cotton with his skin and muscle missing – during the classic bedroom feeding scenes – it made it me feel ill. Clive Barker’s imagination would become more familiar to me in later years, but Hellraiser not only made me feel ill – an extreme rarity – it also introduced me to the connection between films and books. However, that summers day in 1988 when I took the VHS cover from the video rental shelf, was one I remember fondly for all the wrong reasons.
A Nightmare on Elm Street was probably one of the first horror movies I set my young eyes on that actually terrified me – and I know several authors who share this sentiment. After all, we all dream, don’t we? What started this enigmatic horror though, was the cover. THAT hand, stretching over Nancy’s head, the unseen predator shrouded in shadow, the shape of a fedora hat that would soon become culturally significant. Wait, are those claws on his fingertips? Within minutes, the video was in and I was watching. After witnessing several teenagers die brutally, without the comic edge of the Friday the 13th movies I was familiar with, I was hiding behind a strategically placed cushion to avoid Freddy’s clutches. And could I sleep afterwards? Could I fuck. For me, this is the horror film everyone should see. Dated, yes – but terrifying? Totally. Before Freddy was the comic/horror legend he is now, the fear he incited was very, very real.
I didn’t know a lot about The Bogey Man (retitled The Boogey Man in the US) because the film was one of those deemed too nasty for me to view. However, the cover itself – I remember my aunt had a battered, rare copy – made me jump on viewing. The image I have here is slightly different (the woman with the shard of mirror in her eye wasn’t on the original cover), but I remember the blood-soaked man vividly. The fact he was holding a crucifix, and was still coming to harm – I was aware of religion and the facet of good vs. evil even at a young age – was quite chilling to me. The look of pain/awe on his face was striking, and heavily used on the promotional material. On viewing, the film didn’t stand up to the cover so I was quite disappointed. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a viewing with the brain switched off, it’s quite tame. Some people found it offensive though – the film was listed in the Video Nasty debacle a few years later.
Scanners will always be remembered for one thing: THAT head-exploding scene at the beginning. It’s a shame really, because the film is a solid horror thriller from David Cronenberg. The cover is iconic though. Out of all of the covers here, Scanners if the first one I saw – I was three and I remember my eyes widening at the image of the scanner, his eyes white, his arms pimpled and veined unlike anything I’d seen in Ghostbusters or He-Man. I actually turned the video cover over to stop looking. I mentioned it before, but body horror really has an impact and when used in posters – much like the Hellraiser one above – it’s a very effective way to draw in horror fans. Now, I would watch this film based on the cover – it’s that effective. Funnily enough, I only saw this film in the late 90’s, when I was old enough to think some 80’s films were starting to age badly. I watched this full of scepticism, but was still horrified at the content, meaning the cover had done its job. The terror I once felt was still present and had me in edge during the entire runtime.
That’s my top 5. I would be interested to hear from you. What VHS covers terrified you? Were there any that watched you from the video shelf? Which films were worse than their labels? You can comment below or post on my Facebook page here.
Next time? We discuss more 80’s memories. If you want me to discuss anything in particular, let me know.