Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Inevitable 'What I'm Doing At Fantasycon' Post For Anyone Who Missed It On Facebook

Last year's FCon, with Priya Sharma, Lynda E. Rucker and Sean Hogan/
My Fantasycon 2018 Schedule: I'm a little on the busy side this year.

5.00 pm
Panel: Writing The Immortal Enemy
Simon Bestwick (m), Powder, Ren Warom, Clint Wastling, Den Patrick
A panel tribute to those villains who refuse to submit, lay down and die. Maybe you wrote an evildoer and you couldn’t let go? Maybe you’re a fan of one that we all know? Our panel talks about those recurring nemesii who we all love and hate.
7.00 pm
Readings (Horror)
Stephen Laws, Simon Bestwick, Tina Rath
Stephen and Tina are both ace writers. I don't know what they'll be sharing with the audience, but I'll be reading one of the tales from Singing Back The Dark.

1.00 pm
Black Shuck Books Launch
Black Shuck's FCon releases include John Llewellyn Probert's The Last Temptation of Dr Valentine, Colleen Anderson's A Body Of Work, and Great British Horror #3: For Those In Peril. This sea-themed anthology of horror fiction includes my story 'The Bells Of Rainey.' So I'll be there.

7.00 pm
Writing Warfare
Simon Bestwick (m), Danie Ware, Andy Remic, Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark
From Homer to Warmaster Horus, the battle scene has been a mainstay of epic fantasy and space opera science fiction. Our panel discussion battle scenes, whether up close and personal, from a tactical  perspective or looking down from the god’s eye.

Dead Bodies
Simon Bestwick (m), Steve Toase, GV Anderson, James Brogden, Simon Clark
Many good stories involve a mystery. Whether the case at hand has remained unsolved for hundreds of years, or happened in the first chapter of the book, a good puzzle provides the writer with an opportunity to engage the reader’s brain in finding the answer. Our panelists discuss unsolved conundrums, consider the role of accurate research, and look at a range of tools that are at the writer’s disposal to create intriigue for the curious reader. 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Singing Back The Dark

Some great news I've been sitting on for the past few weeks that I'm delighted I can announce now: I have a new book coming out this month! Small, but perfectly formed.

Singing Back The Dark will be published as part of Black Shuck's Shadows series of micro-collections on October 31st, because... well, it's Halloween, biyatches.

The five short stories range from the Lancashire moors to the Georgia woods, the forests of Maine to the Fylde coast, and you'll encounter everything from werewolves to the real, long-forgotten and very dark meaning of Christmas, but one thing connects all the tales: be it a Christmas carol or a bluesman finger-picking on his guitar, music always plays a part.

The collection includes the stories:

The Psalm
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
And All The Souls In Hell Shall Sing
Moon Going Down
Effigies Of Glass

Apart from 'The Psalm', which previously appeared in Estronomicon magazine in October 2011, all the stories are published for the first time.

My thanks to the brilliant Steve Shaw of Black Shuck Books for bringing this little tome out.

You can order Singing Back The Dark here. And at Fantasycon next week, Black Shuck will have a number of exciting new releases on offer - including the new Great British Horror anthology, For Those In Peril. This anthology of sea stories includes my tale 'The Bells Of Rainey', alongside work by Stephen Bacon, Georgina Bruce, Kayleigh Marie Edwards, Johnny Mains, Paul Meloy, Thana Niveau, Rosalie Parker, Kit Power, Guy N. Smith and Damien Angelica Walters. And you can pre-order that here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Best Of The Best Horror Of The Year (ed. Ellen Datlow)

Since Ellen Datlow began editing The Best Horror Of The Year, I've had three stories published in the series.
Today, I'm delighted to announce that one of those stories, 'The Moraine', has been selected, from all the tales published in the first ten volumes of the series, for
The Best Of The Best Horror Of The Year.

I am incredibly proud to be included, alongside authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Livia Llewellyn, Nathan Ballingrud, Gemma Files, Adam Nevill, Peter Straub and Tanith Lee (to name but a few.)

You can buy the anthology here.

Once again, my thanks to Ellen, and congratulations to all my fellow contributors.

The stories:

Lowland Sea—Suzy McKee Charnas
Wingless Beasts—Lucy Taylor
The Nimble Men—Glen Hirshberg
Little America—Dan Chaon
Black and White Sky—Tanith Lee
The Monster Makers—Steve Rasnic Tem
Chapter Six—Stephen Graham Jones
In a Cavern, in a Canyon—Laird Barron
Allochthon—Livia Llewellyn
Shepherds’ Business—Stephen Gallagher
Down to a Sunless Sea—Neil Gaiman
The Man from the Peak—Adam Golaski
In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos—John Langan
The Moraine—Simon Bestwick
At the Riding School—Cody Goodfellow
Cargo—E.Michael Lewis
Tender as Teeth—Stephanie Crawford & Duane Swierczynski
Wild Acre—Nathan Ballingrud
The Callers—Ramsey Campbell
This Stagnant Breath of Change—Brian Hodge
Grave Goods—Gemma Files
The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine—Peter Straub
Majorlena—Jane Jakeman
The Days of Our Lives—Adam L. G. Nevill
You Can Stay All Day—Mira Grant
No Matter Which Way We Turned—Brian Evenson
Nesters—Siobhan Carroll
Better You Believe—Carole Johnstone

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Thana Niveau on The House of Frozen Screams and Octoberland

This year's Fantasycon will be a major event for the fantastic Thana Niveau, as it sees the launch of both her new short story collection Octoberland (PS Publishing) and her debut novel, The House of Frozen Screams (Horrific Tales0. So I thought I'd ask her a few questions about them. And about writing. And things.

1) Are you a Planner or a Pantser?

Bit of both! I’m definitely not an outline-the-whole-project writer, as half the joy for me is seeing where the story and characters lead me. I usually start with an image or a character and then start writing to see what happens. Obviously this means cutting a lot of false starts and side quests, but sometimes these brainstorms get repurposed in other stories. Only very rarely does an idea come to me fully formed, where I visualise an entire story. Names, however, do get obsessively planned. Sometimes you can spot their significance and other times they’ll only have meaning for me.

2) Do you aim for a set number of words or pages per day? If not, how do you mark progress on your work?

I’ve tried to do the word count thing, but it feels constricting and tends to stifle my creativity. If I’m up against a deadline, forcing a set number of words per day can help, but sometimes I’ll find myself piling on the adjectives near the end purely to hit the target, stuff I’ll just delete the next day. If I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll jump to a moment I really want to write, or follow a whim, knowing it might lead nowhere. So a set daily word count isn’t terribly useful for me. As for marking progress, I suppose I just have some abstract concept of how long the story will be, what percentage I’ve written, and how much further there is to go.

3) Are there any themes or subjects you keep coming back to?

Definitely! There was a Facebook game a while back: “You know you’re in a ___ story when…” That was fun because I’d never really noticed how many pet themes I have. I write a lot about siblings who are very close, as well as father/daughter relationships. The sea features in quite a few stories, and very often the water itself is a character. I also love to get into the POV of abstract things or ideas - like the burgeoning sentience of AI or bodiless aliens in space who have no language. I’m good at making the writing really difficult for myself sometimes! LOL But these are the kinds of ideas that fascinate me and inspire me to write in the first place.

4) If you had to sum up your novel The House of Frozen Screams in a sentence, what would it be?

Nick and Liz are happily married and don’t want children. But the house they’ve just moved into does.

5) What was the genesis of The House of Frozen Screams?

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of my all-time favourite books, and I love the relationship Eleanor has with the house. I wanted to explore the personality, motives and history of a haunted house of my own, and the effects it has on its occupants. What would a house want and why?

6) What was the biggest difference, for you, between writing short stories and writing your first novel?

Well, it’s technically not my first novel. LOL There’s the one I wrote years ago that went through the whole acceptance/editing/proofs process with a very dodgy publisher who then vanished into thin air. For years the book was “available” on Amazon even though it didn’t exist, and I was finally able to get them to pull the listing. I was so disillusioned by the experience I haven’t looked at it since. But I think about digging it out sometimes, updating and rewriting it.

But sorry - I got off on a tangent! I’m definitely more of a novel reader. I do love reading short stories, but I prefer the immersive experience of a novel. And I prefer living in one single world for extended periods as a writer as well. But I have too many shorter ideas not to get them down first, which pushes all my longer ideas to the back of the queue. Some ideas are clearly only short story ones; that is, a novel couldn’t sustain them. But many of them feel like whole worlds I could explore further, and I find myself saddened that I can’t. I often have to trim them to fit a given word count. With The House of Frozen Screams, I found myself having to check the instinct to trim, to “get to the point” of a scene more quickly because I was going to run out of space. It was a real luxury to have the room to spread out and explore everything in the story.

7) Octoberland is your second full-length collection. How do you think it differs from your first, From Hell To Eternity, and from your micro-collection, Unquiet Waters?

Octoberland collects more recent stories than From Hell to Eternity, so (hopefully) my writing has grown and matured. I think I was a lot more confident with the stories in Octoberland as well, much more willing to take chances.

Unquiet Waters features four connected stories, and the theme I chose was water. I’ve written a lot of stories about the sea, diving, snow, a drowned Earth, etc. So those ideas run through all three collections, and I can think of at least three more stories out there in anthologies that are set in the ocean.

8) Whats your favourite story from Octoberland?

Oh, that’s a tough one. “The Calling of Night’s Ocean” is one of my very favourites. (That’s the one that’s partly written from a dolphin’s POV.) But the title story “Octoberland” is special to me as well. There’s quite a lot in it that’s not fiction. Dani Serra’s cover art beautifully illustrates the mood I was aiming for: “gothic Bradbury”.

9) If you could put one piece of work into a time capsule for the future, what would it be?

Definitely one of my SF stories, just to see if my apocalyptic visions came to pass! I think I’d choose “And Fade Out Again”, which is set in a future flooded Earth, with the remnants of humanity living in a sunken city grown from the Eden Project in Devon. (It’s in Great British Horror vol 2: For Those in Peril, from Black Shuck Books.)

10) What does the future hold for Thana Niveau?

I’ll continue to dream of uploading my mind into an android body while I expand my SF writing. I’ve been toying with the idea of a new pseudonym for SF, and keeping “Thana Niveau” purely for horror.

I have two separate SF novels in the works, but in between I’m also writing several horror short stories. (It’s hard to say no when you’re invited!) In addition, I’m working on a Midnight Movies monograph about one of my all-time favourite films: The Descent. But my desktop is littered with works in progress because I find it difficult to focus only on one project at a time. This is why I need a biotech upgrade!

Thana Niveau was born to the wail of the Wendigo and the whisper of warp engines. She is a Halloween bride, sharing her life with fellow scribe John Llewellyn Probert, in a crumbling gothic tower filled with arcane books and curiosities. And toy dinosaurs.
Messages from the beyond: thana.niveau * gmail * com

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Wolf's Hill Is Here!

The third book in the Black Road quartet, Wolf's Hill, is published today. You can buy it from Amazon (US or UK.)

Helen Damnation’s rebellion against the Reapers has spread. All across post-nuclear Britain, the fires of revolution are beginning to burn. But her old enemy Tereus Winterborn still intends to rule supreme, and has a new ally in Dr Mordake, the creator of Project Tindalos – now monstrously transfigured by the forces he unleashed at Hobsdyke.

Their target is Helen’s closest ally: the last Grendelwolf, Gevaudan Shoal. The worst tortures of all await him in the cells of the Pyramid. At Hobsdyke, in the tunnels beneath Graspen Hill, the legacy of the Night Wolves is waiting for him – along with secrets about Helen that threaten to tear both Gevaudan and the resistance apart.

With the Reapers poised to strike at the first sign of weakness, a series of brutal killings breaks out behind rebel lines – and the evidence leads back to Gevaudan’s door. With all those closest to Helen turning against her, she faces her greatest challenge yet as Winterborn begins his bid for ultimate power.

Thank you to Emma Barnes, Tik Dalton and Anna Torborg (past and present Snowbooks bods), everyone who shared the last blog, and all the reviewers who've said kind things about the series.

The Black Road rolls on...

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Wolf's Hill is coming...

What with the excitement, drama and heat of the last month, I managed to completely forget that my seventh (hopefully a lucky number) novel, Wolf's Hill, will be released on 31st July.

FAQ: (well, not really frequently asked questions, but who knows, maybe in future...)

Q: What is Wolf's Hill?
A: It's the third novel in the Black Road Quartet, following on from Hell's Ditch and Devil's Highway.

Q: What is the Black Road?
A: It's a series of novels set in Britain twenty years after a nuclear attack. The country's mostly still in ruins, and controlled by the tyrannical Commanders of the Reclamation and Protection Command and their soldiers: the Reapers.

Q: What's the story so far?
In the first book, Hell's Ditch, a Commander called Winterborn is looking for an ultimate weapon to consolidate his bid for supreme power. This takes the form of Project Tindalos, a paranormal weapons system developed at REAP Base Hobsdyke by Dr Mordake. Project Tindalos ran wildly out of control and was only stopped when Winterborn's old enemy Helen Damnation (no, I couldn't resist calling her that) and her rebels destroyed Hobsdyke.

Devil's Highway saw Helen's rebellion gaining strength, aided by an assorted band of allies - among them, Gevaudan Shoal, the last of the genetically-engineered warriors known as Grendelwolves. Winterborn attempted to crush the rebellion with an assault on their base at Ashwood Fort, spearheaded by the monstrous Catchmen, created from the remains of Project Tindalos. The rebels survived, but now the conflict is moving into a newer, deadlier phase...

Q: So what's in store in Wolf's Hill?
A: Dr Mordake, the creator of Project Tindalos, has resurfaced, and is advising Winterborn in his war against the rebels. The Reapers having failed to crush the rebels militarily, Mordake seeks to break their unity and divide them against one another - and against Helen in particular. And central to his plans is Helen's closest ally, Gevaudan Shoal.

A new enemy will emerge. The rebels will face a deadly threat from within their own ranks. And secrets will be revealed: Helen's past, Mordake's journey, and what really lies beneath the ruins of Hobsdyke.

(You'll also learn how Gevaudan got his name. No particular relevance to the plot there, but just in case you were interested...)

Q: Where can I get hold of it?
A: You can buy it on Amazon (US or UK.) It should be up on the Snowbooks website soon: Hell's Ditch and Devil's Highway are there already, or at least pages showing a huge range of links where you can order a physical or electronic copy.

Q: Will it be any good?
A: Well, only you can judge. But here's what the reviewers have said abouit the series so far:
Hell's Ditch:
"Grabs you and won't let go." - Pat Cadigan.

"I loved the time I spent on the world of Hell’s Ditch and I look forward with much anticipation to the follow ups. It’s a book I recommend highly." - Dark Musings.

"Hell’s Ditch is a magnificent achievement, the work of a writer who knows how to tell a story and make it hurt, but in a good way, and putting on my fortune-teller’s cap I suspect that the best is still to come." - Black Static.

"Hell’s Ditch is the epic you always knew Bestwick had inside him... There is loyalty, bravery, self-sacrifice, tenderness, and loss. And some of the best writing on the planet, but you were expecting that if you’ve ever read Bestwick’s work. Aaannnddd, there is also violence, gory imagery, that kind of language, sexuality, and reference to torture. The very thing you don’t want your teenagers reading and the very thing you should buy them…things aren’t looking good for us right now and they might be the ones to make some tough decisions." - Hikeeba.

Devil's Highway:
"There’s genuine poignancy in this novel... It actually made me tear up... But overall, what an incredible ride this is. With the Black Road Quartet now half complete, the bar is set impressively high, but Simon Bestwick gives us no reason to think that the rest of this tour-de-force in progress will be anything less than superb." - The Hellforge.

"Part post-apocalyptic horror, part military action, Bestwick has crafted a thrilling tour-de-force novel full of military grade action sequences and complex characters. But also moments of intense emotion and the lightest touches of romance which combine to deliver a compelling story that pulls you in and refuses to let go." - This Is Horror.

"In the hands of another writer, Helen might have become a dull caricature of a ‘strong female character’. Here, though, her flaws and failings are put under a narrative microscope and viewed alongside her strengths and triumphs: she is a brave warrior, a survivor, a leader of men. She is also weak and selfish and dangerously impulsive. She is imperfect, and all the more interesting a character for it... A potent mix of grim, dystopian sci-fi and visceral horror, combined with a vibrant imagination, lift a standard ‘Good vs Evil’ narrative and have turned it into something quite special indeed." - Ginger Nuts of Horror

Friday, 2 March 2018

Things of the Week and March 2018: Breakwater and Deadwater

The two big events this week both involve the editorial amazingness that is Ellen Datlow.

First off, my novelette Breakwater was published on and released as an ebook. Set in the near future, during a war between the humans and a newly-discovered intelligent sea-dwelling species, the Bathyphylax, it takes place aboard HMS Dunwich, a pumphouse - a Permanent Underwater Modular Platform, a kind of undersea space station. Dunwich was originally a scientific research station called Breakwater, but has been commandeered and expanded by the military. The pumphouse's designer, Cally McDonald, is on board when the Bathyphylax attack...

That should give you something of a flavour of it, anyway. To find out the rest, you'll just have to read it. :)

Meanwhile, Ellen's new anthology of sea-themed horror fiction, The Devil and the Deep, will be out later this month from SkyHorse, and has just received its first advance review over at Signal Horizon.

"The edition starts with "Deadwater" by Simon Bestwick, which is remarkably well done and really hooks you in. "

I'll take that. :)

Water-themed stuff seems to be working rather well for me just now.

The Devil and the Deep also features stories by Michael Marshall Smith, Alyssa Wong, Christopher Golden, Ray Cluley, Stephen Graham Jones, Seanan McGuire, Siobhan Carroll, Brian Hodge, and many more.