Author and Scriptwriter

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

Friday, 13 January 2017

Things of 2017 so far: Reviews for The Feast Of All Souls and Devil's Highway, Hayley Stevens Interview, Derek M. Fox

Reviews have continued to come in for The Feast Of All Souls, from both Fantasy Book Review, who really liked it -

I finished The Feast of All Souls in short order, always a good sign that I enjoyed a book, in fact enjoying it every bit as much as the Herbert and King novels I read in my teen years and... the [Adam] Nevill books I have read in recent years. I turned the last page both satisfied and impressed... an author I would not hesitate to read again.

- and from SFX, who weren't so keen:

There's a lot going on in this novel: hauntings aside, there's time travel, torture, grief, and even a bit of Arthurian Grail lore. The interesting stuff comes in fits and starts, though... it's infuriating, especially because Alice is such a horrible character to spend time with... The reason behind the . haunting, when it's revealed, is inventively grotesque, and the various strands of nastiness weave together satisfyingly enough. Still, there probably needs to be an epilogue where Alice apologises to literally every other character in the book.

Actually, I kind of like that idea. I might write it and post it here... :)

[Just FYI: there's no link to the SFX review as I haven't been able to find it online, not because I'm sulking over it!]

Hayley Stevens
As part of the promotion for The Feast Of All Souls, I interviewed one of the people who helped me Hayley Stevens. Originally a fervent believer in all things paranormal, now she's a rationalist and skeptic who applies scientific method to find the explanation for weird phenomena. John Revell's approaches in The Feast Of All Souls owe a lot to her.
in my research for it - real-life paranormal investigator

Not that everything Hayley's encountered has had a wholly rational explanation... but you'll have to read the interview, here and here, to find out about that. And to find out more, check out her website.

Devil's Highway is also garnering good notices, with rave reviews from both This Is Horror and Ginger Nuts of Horror.

Thomas Joyce at This Is Horror calls Devil's Highway:

An excellent cross-genre blend which shall appeal to horror, military, and action fans alike... 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, adding Bestwick handles the conclusion of the story with the touch of an expert storyteller while also setting up the story to continue into book three with a new threat. It is clear that he has more in store for fans of ‘The Black Road’ series and we will not be disappointed.

Over at Ginger Nuts Of Horror meanwhile, Laura Mauro says: In many ways Devil’s Highway is a high-octane action movie of a book: the Mad Max: Fury Road of genre novels, only with more dialogue. And this is not a bad thing.

Laura particularly rates the portrayal of Helen Damnation: 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.

I did chuckle over this bit, admittedly: There is a particular moment of loss which hit me especially hard, and I think it speaks of Bestwick’s skill as a writer that he is able to make me care so much about a relatively minor character. Mainly because I remember an email from Laura that read "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU KILLED [DELETED] YOU UTTER BASTARD." There can be few higher compliments for a writer...

The review concludes: 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.

So all this has been much-needed good news, among the general gloom and doom of world affairs and other matters of a more personal nature.

Derek M. Fox
We're off for dinner with friends tonight, which is good as this week began on something of a sad
note.

Back in the 1890s 1990s, when I was starting out as a writer, I used to attend the Terror Scribes meetings, where UK horror authors (usually based in the North or Midlands) gathered together for alcohol and curry. I still remember the one where I decided that pints of Stella Artois followed by Lambs Navy Rum chasers were a good idea... actually, 'remember' probably isn't the right word. They were started off by Chesterfield author John B. Ford, who invited a bunch of writers he knew to join and Simon Clark in a Sheffield pub in order to generally get drunk and shoot the breeze; the whole thing was that much fun, it became a semi-regular thing for several years.

One of the stalwarts of the Terror Scribes (and of the UK horror small press in the '90s) was Derek M. Fox, who died shortly before Christmas last year. Author and creative writing tutor, much-loved by his family and with a wicked sense of humour, Derek was a good guy and will be very much missed. I hadn't been greatly in touch with him for many years, but even though I was aware he'd been in ill-health for some time it was a shock to hear of his passing.

The funeral service was on Tuesday, and a few of us from the old days - Paul Kane, Marie O'Regan, Rob Rowntree, Lisa Negus and me - were there to pay our respects. Much love to Derek's wife Kath, and to his extended family.

RIP Derek. Get us all a round in, wherever you are.

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