Author and Scriptwriter

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

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 Tor.com 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.


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Breakwater: It's Here!

At last! After a couple of delays, my novelette Breakwater is online at Tor.com.

You can read it online here.

Or if you prefer, you can get the ebook here (US) or here (UK.) Only $1.19 or £0.86, depending on your preferred currency...

And with this gorgeous cover art by Goñi Montes.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Things of the Year So Far 21st January 2018: The Moraine on Books In The Freezer Podcast, The Judgement Call and Breakwater, Planet of the Knob Heads

Hello again. So this year I want to be a bit more structured and revive the blog a bit. And what better way to do it than a swift recap of what's been happening?

First of all, there was some lovely news to round off 2017, when the Books In The Freezer Podcast shared their roundup of the year's reading. The two hosts picked their favourite novels and short stories of the year, and one of the picks was 'The Moraine' (the host's other favourite horror story read that year was Clive Barker's 'The Yattering and Jack', which is pretty damned good company to be in!) They start talking about 'The Moraine' at 31.50. The podcast's here, and of course you can listen to the story being read here at Pseudopod.

My first stories of 2018 see print in the next month or so: my story 'The Judgement Call', originally to have been a chapbook from Spectral Press, will be published by Fox Spirit alongside a new tale by Penelope Jones. Neil Williams' original awesome artwork for the story will grace the Fox Spirit volume.

And on February 7th - my Mum's birthday and the day after mine! - my novelette Breakwater will be published by Tor.com. More details as the time approacheth.

(TOR-DOT-COM! As I may have screamed ecstatically said before. TOR-FREAKING-DOT-COM!)

Ahem.

In other news, I encountered this little article on Brain Pickings (excellent site, and well worth a browse) which raised a few smiles as well as a reminder that nothing's new under the sun.

When e.e. cummings was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1950, the approbration wasn't universal. Some of the responses were downright unpleasant: step forward Dr Earl M. Byrd and Stanton A. Coblentz. The bilious grumblings of would have been at home on any internet message board. Well, maybe not, as they could both spell and weren't writing everything in allcaps. Not only was the art form of poetry being debased and destroyed, they cried, by those damned 'new', 'progressive' authors, but a cabal of their supporters were working to ensure the prizes went only to them. No doubt that'll sound pretty familiar, especially to American readers. (Not that there aren't times when 'dude, seriously?' is a legitimate action to someone winning an award. But we digress.)

However, the Brain Pickings article's author is wrong about one thing: he says Stanton A. Coblentz is 'entirely forgotten.' Well, not entirely. He's achieved a sort of second-hand immortality by dint of his authorship of a novel called... Planet Of The Knob Heads. He seems to have been a bit of an Anglophile in his poetic tastes, but obviously wasn't well-up on colloquial UK English. Perhaps he was visualising a world colonised by followers of Vox Day and John C. Wright. Who knows?


Hope the New Year's treating you all well. See you soon!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017: The Roundup

At least I didn't quack up.
Writing wise, 2017 was what Aliya Whiteley has called a 'Duck in the Mist' year - an awful lot of paddling going on beneath the surface, but not that much activity above it. I wrote quite a lot, and there'll be more about that in 2018, but comparatively little activity on the publication front. So here's the year that was.

 








Novels
I wrote the final drafts of Wolf's Hill and the entirety of a new novel, The Mancunian Candidate.

I didn't sell any novels in 2017, but there may be news on that front soon. Or not, of course. Such is the business....

The paperback of Devil's Highway was published in February. (It first appeared as a hardback in December 2016, however, so would be ineligible for any awards for 2017, assuming anyone was daft enough to nominate it. For anyone daft enough to want to read it, the ebook's still only £1.99)

Novelettes and Short Stories

Finished the first draft of a novelette, Breakwater, and redrafted to completion.
Also wrote first drafts of four novelette-length (I think) stories. Redrafts ongoing.
Wrote and completed two other stories, currently making the rounds.

Short story 'Deadwater' accepted for publication in Ellen Datlow's anthology, Devil and the Deep.
Breakwater accepted for publication by Tor.com in 2018.

Short fiction published this year:
'The Adventure of the Orkney Shark' in Sherlock Holmes' School of Detection.
'The Tarn' in The Beauty of Death 2: Death by Water.


Monday, 18 December 2017

When You Hit The Wall

It happens to every writer sooner or later, at one time or another. Bad or good, male or female, old or young: sooner or later, on one project or another, you hit the wall.

The words just won't seem to come.

The characters are cardboard.

The writing is stilted and thin.

The story seems flimsy and superficial, with nothing of substance or originality to it. Derivative and second-rate. Nothing to say, and it doesn't even say it interestingly. Even to you, the author, it's boring.

Sometimes, the thing to do is track back through what you've done, to the last place where it felt as though things were going right: figure out where you took a wrong turn, and start from there.

Sometimes, you need to think through the stuff that underpins your story in greater depth: the characters, the setting, the relationships and power-games that underlie it all.

Sometimes, it's just a case of having temporarily written yourself out. The batteries are flat, because you've barely spent a minute away from your computer or notepad in the outside world, letting the details of people and places and things wash over you and fill you up with all those tiny sense-impressions, quirks and turns of phrase that funnel onto the page. There was a giant in Greek myth, Antaeus, who drew his strength from the Earth itself. As long as he was touching the ground, he was invincible. Herakles killed him by holding him aloft, so he became as weak as a kitten, then crushing him in a bear-hug. It's like that for writers - this one, anyway - and the outside world.

And sometimes, it's because the project itself is a dud. Or at least, it isn't the right time yet for you to write it.

Sometimes, too, the cause isn't easy to unravel. Could be that you'll struggle with anything else you try to do next. One derailed project can make getting back on the horse a struggle, can create a series of false starts and aborted novels or stories.

And what can you do?

Sometimes, you need a day or two off - but that can make getting back on the horse all the harder.

Sometimes, you need to get out of the house and get those batteries recharged.

Sometimes, you need to fix the work in progress.

Sometimes, you need to write something different.

(Like a blog post, maybe, especially when your blog's been so disused lately it's got cobwebs on it.)

In the end, though, you just don't give up. Mostly because you can't, no matter how much you feel like it. The writing won't let go of you that easily.

Sooner or later, you'll reach the other side of the wall. You'll climb over, or dig under, or go around. Or just bang your head against it so often that it falls down.

Like everything else, it'll pass.

And in the future, there'll be other walls, and you'll have to work out how get around or over or under or through them.

But the bits between one wall and the next?

They're what make it all worthwhile.

None of that helps, though, when you're banging your head against the wall and thinking that this is the last one and that there's no way through.