Author and Scriptwriter

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

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Well, There's A Big Fekking Surprise

Goodness. A policeman assaults a member of the public- an unarmed woman, smacking her across the face and whacking her with a riot baton, and he's cleared of assault. What a shock that wasn't.

Oh, and the first fuckwitted brainwashed prick to post on here that 'these protesters bring it on themselves by protesting/being unwashed communists/whatever'... can just fuck off. Fuck right off the planet and keep on fucking.

No- wait. First, google 'Second World War' and remind yourselves exactly what so many soldiers from this country died for. Google 'trade unions' as well, 'Tolpuddle Martyrs' in particular, because you're probably the same dickheads talking bullshit about the BA strikes, just to remind yourself how many rights and freedoms that you have that are owed to them.

And then fuck off.

Monday 29 March 2010

WHC 2010- Part The First

Right, here it begins. I made a promise to the lovely Cate Gardner (yes, that's her over there) to blog about World Horror 2010, and I always keep my promises, especially to women who have Colin Firth chained up in their basements. Thusly and heretofore, the first instalment:

The convention started on Thursday 25th, but the preamble to it was pretty entertaining too, so I thought I'd shoehorn that in and all. So, here goes...

Wednesday 24th
The calm before the storm, the day before the Con.

Finish work at 12.30 and head for home with plans to carefully pack stuff and get the house reasonably tidy for soon-to-be new housemate who’ll be moving stuff in over the coming weekend. Fail miserably and veg out in front of the internet connection for several hours, throwing everything together at the last minute and dashing for Swinton train station. Catch the train with literally seconds to spare and buy return ticket to Leeds- home of the lovely Gary and Emily McMahon, with whom Your Humble Author is hitching a ride- changing at Salford Crescent and then at Oxford Road. Once in Leeds, all that’s required is a simple phone call to Gary who’ll pick me up at the station. Simple as clockwork and smooth as glass.

Yeah, right.

At Salford Crescent the unwelcome discovery is made that the mobile phone has been left back at Castle Bestwick.

Oh shit.

Too late, though, to turn back now. We are now committed to the path.

The plan was to work on the rewrite notes for The Song Of The Sibyl en route. No soap as succession of anxiety attacks ensue. In the train carriage are mobiles, mobiles everywhere, nor any one to call on. Fail to work up the nerve to ask a fellow passenger for the loan of theirs. Doesn’t help that I can’t remember Gary’s home or mobile numbers beyond the first four or five digits.

Don’t panic. Remain calm.

Thank god Leeds train station has a payphone. But still no memory of Gary’s phone number. Whose phone do I still remember? Calls follow to: Joel Lane (answering machine), Paul Finch (doesn’t have Gary’s number but will try and find Gary Fry of Gray Friar Press’ number as he’s good mates with Gary Mc- are you getting confused yet? Imagine what it was like at this end) and then Bernard, my neighbour back in Swinton (sheer desperation is kicking in by now) who got on with Gary last time he was up my way and became friends with him on Facebook…

Finally another call to Joel gets through and, just as all hope is about to be abandoned he finds Gary’s number. All three mates are automatically owed a pint.

Ring Gary, who’s been ringing my mobile in the growing conviction that he’ll have to pay half the parking fees when he gets to Brighton rather than only a third (private joke). He hoots with laugher and informs me that my life is a cross between a tragedy and a farce.

Thanks, mate. I think.

Back to Gary’s for corned beef sandwiches, coffee, and a late-night viewing of the brilliant Harlan Ellison documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth. Brilliant stuff, with both of us nodding along and uttering heartfelt agreements with virtually everyone of the great man’s pronouncements on creativity, writing, and life in general. We are, truly, not worthy.

And so to bed. Tomorrow, the Con begins.

And may God have mercy on our souls...

Next instalment as soon as I have the time and energy.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Back From Brighton/New Interview

Yup. I'm back from the World Horror Convention. Still alive. Exhausted and with my wallet suffering PTSD, but very, very happy. Will blog in more detail tomorrow. But, until then and in the meanwhile, check out this interview over at Horror Reanimated, where I'm quizzed and interrogated by award-winning author Joseph D'Lacey.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Brighton Rocks (Hopefully)

So, tomorrow I'm off to World Horror down in Brighton.

It promises to be a lot of fun, although maybe not the informal boozeup that is Fantasycon. There will be many publishers, editors and writers there and there'll be opportunities to pitch stuff. Sadly I have nothing, as yet, to pitch- The Song Of The Sibyl (undergoing rewrites) is earmarked for a particular publisher, so it'd be bad form to offer it elsewhere till they have said yea or nay. Probably say nay, now... ah well.

But it'll be a chance to meet the likes of Barbara and Chris Roden, who published my first collection, and Ellen Datlow, face to face at last. And also there will be: Dennis Etchison, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem, Roberta Lannes, Lisa Tuttle, Lisa Morton... and that's just a few of the American authors whose work influenced me as a writer coming on song in the mid-90s. Most of these names will mean nothing to you unless you read a lot of contemporary horror fiction. But if you do, they'll mean plenty.

And there'll newer writers on the scene, like John Avjide Lindqvist (Let The Right One In) and Gemma Files. And, of course, a host of names I know all too well and I'll be glad to sink a pint with once more...

Oh, and Ingrid Pitt. Takes deep breath and releases it- I'm not of the generation that grew up seeing the Hammer horror films at the pictures, but the one just after that never missed a chance to catch them on the TV.

Meanwhile, I have a new housemate due to move in over the weekend while I'm absent. Hopefully I can trust her not to burn the house down, but tomorrow afternoon, before I set off, I have to knock my pesthole of a house into shape.

I was sure I'd rung a Brighton guesthouse (which shall remain nameless here) and booked a room, but when I rang last night the response was : 'Sorry? We've nothing booked in that name.' And they were now fully booked. A tad mortifying. Either I've had a fairly ultimate blonde moment here and noted down the wrong guesthouse (I'll find out this weekend I suppose, when the real one bills me for not showing up) or they ballsed up.

But hey-ho.

Of course, that wasn't my feeling last night. More like 'OH SHIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!' Two days to go till a fairly huge convention and now having to look for a place to stay...

Fortunately I found somewhere, which basically seems to be even nicer than the original choice. 'Breakfast served in your room,' the landlady- who had one of those bright, warm, jolly voices that immediately make you like the owner and feel like you'll be in good hands for the duration of your stay- 'either a bacon roll'- fandabidozi- 'or a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel' -squee! (sorry Chris) '-and your choice of douche.'


Of course, she meant juice, but by the time we cleared that one up it was a toss-up which of us was more embarassed.

Ah well.

Anyway. This should be fun...

Monday 15 March 2010


There really aren't enough hours in the day.

I've been wanting to get back to work on The Song Of The Sibyl for over a week now. Unfortunately, there's only limited time in days eaten up with the wretched day job to write. And I've had an interview to complete and rewrite, plus, now, the opening chapters of the next novel (provisionally entitled Hell's Ditch)

I work a shift that runs from 12 midday through to 8 at night, so I get home around 9 pm, often thoroughly vegged. My best writing time is in the mornings, so:

Up I get around 7.00 am. Scribble Morning Pages- something an American friend passed on to me, basically an automatic writing exercise in which you write continuously, keeping your hand moving till three pages of A4 are filled up.

7.30- ish, usually more like 7.45- I'm out the door for a half-hour brisk walk. It's got to be done as I've got a definite weight problem and am edging relentlessly towards the big Four Oh No. But this means when I get back around 8.15 I've got two and a half hours writing time before I need to run for the bus.

But it's not two and a half hours, is it? Breakfast and putting together a packed lunch take up another fifteen minutes... a shower and getting dressed can be relied on to swallow up another thirty minutes. An hour and a three-quarters are left. Minus a quarter-hour to check emails, Facebook etc.

So, an hour and a half a day to write in. Oh, there's still lunch breaks, of course, at work, but what I'm doing at the moment needs time spent on a computer, and I can't do that at work.

I might have to move the daily walk to my lunchtimes, I think.

Of course, I could still make the evenings more productive if I just moved my damn computer downstairs away from the internet connection. I'll have to.

It's going to take a good two months, minimum, to rework The Song Of The Sibyl into something I can send off. There's a publisher that I hope will like it, and I see other writers I know getting new deals, and the old gnawing fear returns- of being left behind, of going nowhere.

All I can do is what I've always done, what the writer always has to do. Bite the bullet, put my head down, and work my way through. As Doro Pesch once put it, it takes what it takes.

But, Jesus, sometimes it takes a lot.

On the plus side:

Tide Of Souls shows up on Dark Delicacies' Horror Bestseller List in the number 3 spot for paperback fiction, above some pretty big names in the genre. Woot! (But no squee; I promised.) Very proud of this; I never dared hope this little zombie novel would run as long or as far as it has.

So, the moral of this story is?

If you want to write, stay the hell away from the internet, for Chrissakes. Most writers are some kind of OCD to begin with, probably. Last thing you want is to give someone like that a toy like the internet when they're supposed to be working. And especially not if they've got to be their own taskmaster...

Right, that's it for now. Off to bed.

Sunday 7 March 2010

BFS Forum

Well, there's now another place on the web for me to pour my egomania... I've been invited to start a chat thread about myself on the British Fantasy Society Forum. Right... about... here.

If you like horror or science fiction- or, indeed, fantasy, funnily enough- whether it be on TV, cinema or the page, then it's worth visiting the website. And maybe even joining the BFS itself. You might even want to nip down to Fantasycon, the annual convention, in Nottingham, which is great fun- a very friendly gathering where you can buy cool books and stuff, attend panels on all sorts of subjects, and get suitably ratted in good company. There are regular BFS open nights as well, so have a look-see if there's one in your area. It's always nice to hang out with people you can talk to without being made to feel weird. Even though you are. ;)