Author and Scriptwriter

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

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Bombardment Of Nice Things

Two posts in as many days, after such a long silence!  I know, it's shocking.

Black Static #32 arrived today.  In it, as well as stories, there are reviews.  Many reviews.  A number of them about me.  Or my writing, anyway...

Good things were said by Peter Tennant both about my collaboration with Gary McMahon, 'Thin Men With Yellow Faces', and 'Shuck', my contribution to Paul Finch's excellent Terror Tales of East Anglia anthology.  But the biggest love was reserved for The Faceless:

'The supernatural elements of the book are handled with great aplomb... Another pleasure is the way in which Bestwick handles characterisation and relationships, adding yet further strands and complications to his narrative... a book of true moral dimensions... This is Simon Bestwick's finest work to date, the one in which he harnesses the sense of anger at social injustice that permeates so much of his work and uses it to a greater end, and it is among the very best of what the horror genre in the UK had to offer in 2012.'

And indeed Peter's blog lists The Faceless as one of his top books of 2012.

Dark Musings rated The Faceless as the top horror novel of the year, and it's also made the shortlist for the 2012 This Is Horror Awards.

All of which makes me very happy.  So now you know.

You can now get back to doing whatever you were doing. :)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Next Big Thing (With Apologies To Paul Finch And Carole Johnstone)

First of all, sorry I’ve not been around much lately.  There’s been some not-too-wonderful stuff going on in what we laughingly call ‘real life’ that’s occupied a lot of my time lately.  Nothing to do with the ever-reigning Ms G; that’s been one aspect of my life that’s been consistently great, in fact.  No, this involves the world of work, and it’s still ongoing, so can’t be discussed here as yet.  Hopefully that’ll be resolved in the next month or so, and I can be a little less mysterious about it.

Secondly, a more specific apology goes out to Paul Finch and Carole Johnstone, both of whom asked if they could tag me in this meme a while back and didn’t even receive the courtesy of a reply as my head was firmly up my arse.  As penance, I’m tagging them here.  (Also, there’s practically no-one I know left to tag, so that’s its own punishment.)

Anyways, that most excellent Aussie, Mr Antony Mann, tagged me in this meme to write about my WIP.  So here goes…

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?
Riders On The Storm.

2) Where did the idea come from?
The R.101 airship, the biggest British aircraft ever built- 777 feet long and 132 feet high- which crashed in France on October 5th, 1930, killing 48 of the 54 men aboard.
R.101 over St. Paul's Cathedral

3) What genre does your book fall under?
God alone knows.  A sort of bizarre mix of science fiction, fantasy, horror, comedy, action-adventure and love story.  But despite the airships, I don’t think it counts as steampunk.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s an interesting question as many of the characters are based on the real-life crew and passengers killed in the crash.  The main character, Sam Church, was a young crewman who nearly prevented the disaster, and survived the crash only to die of his injuries shortly before his father and fiancee reached his bedside.  The other crew members have largely been fictionalised, so that’s a bit easier: if I could borrow a time machine, I’d nip back to the ‘80s and collect the late great Bob Peck to play Lieutenant-Commander Joseph Stakowski Martindale (R.101’s First Officer) and a greying but still tough-looking John Thaw for Flight Sergeant Bill Rathbone (the ship’s Chief Coxswain.)  Plus a younger Liam Neeson, from around the time he did Darkman, to play the villain of the piece, Mr Quill.  For other characters, I’d go for Pauley Perrette as Sidgeley (a brilliant, geeky Goth chick from 2007), Naomie Harris as Captain Jane Rhymer (an 18th century pirate) and Hermione Norris as Dr Gail Anderman (an archaeologist from 1936.)
Rigger Samuel Church, 1904-1930

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
At the moment before it crashes, the R.101 airship and the men who were killed aboard her are pulled through space and time to a distant world to help save a community of people from throughout earth’s history from an inhuman, Lovecraftian menace that’s awakening after aeons of slumber, and the insane, decaying Mr Quill.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My wonderful agent, Sharon Ring, will be representing it.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
The first twenty or thirty thousand words took months of writing and rewriting, because there’s so much stuff happening- you’ve got to set up the historical event (the R101 disaster) and the background to that, plus the alien planet and everything going on there; also, you have to introduce the airship and get enough information across for readers to understand what’s going on. As well as that, you have to introduce a bunch of characters.  Oh, and on top of all that, there’s the actual story.  The hard work’s trying to combine all that in a way that flows naturally and doesn’t seem clunky.  Once that was finished, the rest- eighty or ninety thousand words- came very easily and the first draft was finished in a couple of months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m really not sure!  Michael Moorcock’s The Nomad Of Time is a bit like it, I suppose- it involves airships and time travel.  I did once jokingly describe it as Battlestar Galactica with airships, though I think- hope!- it’s developed beyond that.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Are you sitting comfortably?

In 2010, I went to the Fantastic Films Festival in Manchester, where Ramsey Campbell presided over the raffle.  The prizes were a mix of stuff you’d really want and stuff you wouldn’t accept as a free gift if there was a gun to your head.  One such example was a book on girl’s dolls, apparently written for adults.  Frankly I found that creepy enough, but Ramsey started doing the dolls’ voices… I still have nightmares about that bit. 

Anyway, he made it clear that no-one was going anywhere till somebody bid at least a pound on this book.  Which I did, just to make it go away.  Of course, no-one else was stupid enough to do that, so I ended up with the infernal thing.  I tried to surreptitiously abandon it in the hotel as I was fairly sure that I’d get put on some sort of register if I was caught with it in public, but some bugger found it and posted it to me.  No idea who.  In a way, that’s the most worrying thing about it.

But there was another book that was part of the same prize, called Survival of Death, all about the ‘evidence’ for the afterlife.  And one of the articles in it was about the R.101 airship disaster, and a medium who claimed to have made contact with the spirits of the dead crewmen.

I’d read bits about R.101 before, back in pre-internet days, and this article rekindled my interest.  People still argue today about the causes of the crash and whether she was simply a bad ship or a good one plagued by ill-luck.  I knew there was a story in it somewhere and read more widely about R.101 and the great rigid airships in general.  They cast a spell, which I think you either get or you don’t, and R.101 was certainly a beautiful ship.  Anyway, I originally intended to write two or three stories about R.101- each completely different versions of the story- to try and sell as a chapbook.  Somewhere along the line one of the story ideas- where the ship escaped destruction- expanded and pushed the other ideas out.  First it was going to be a novella… then a novel… now it’s planned as the first in a series of novels.  No idea how that happened.

R.101 over Elstow, Bedfordshire

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
There are also: Spitfires, pirates, monsters, battles and true love.

Thanks again to Antony for tagging me, and I hereby tag Jeannie Alderdice to carry the meme on by answering the same 10 questions and tagging others to carry it on on January 23rd!