Friday, 30 December 2016

...And What's Coming Up


So, another year over huh? Pretty sure they go by quicker the older you get, which is nice. What does 2017 have in store for me? Well, first off, I hit 40. Age has never really bothered me too much, for some reason 27 was a weird one, as I thought I was 28 all year, but 40?! I know it's only a number, but my brain has helpfully started enquiring as to whether I'm halfway through my life, or, more likely, past that point already. Regardless, me and Debbie are off to America for nigh on two weeks to celebrate it.

Never been to the US, though have always wanted to. We're hitting up LA, Vegas and San Francisco, and to say I'm looking forward to it, would be a MASSIVE understatement.

Workwise, well, this is where lessons learned kicks in. I have plans of what I'm going to release, but given that in 2016 I released two books I never planned on writing in the first place, I think it's safe to say that what you aim to do, and what actually gets done, are two different things. There are a couple of definites though.

First up, are three anthology appearances. I've been invited to contribute a story to Shadow Work Publishings 'VS' anthology. If you're not familiar with it, it pits American authors against us Brit's, to see who comes out on top. There are some killer names in there, and it is set to a theme of EXTREME. Whilst some of my work has been a bit gory, I've never written anything explicitly fitting this sub-genre, so should be cool.

The second anthology is Stitched Smile's 'Monsters v Zombies' anthology. They are doing two volumes, and I'm not sure which one I'm in yet, but my short story, LIVE TO SERVE will be in one of them. This was my first ever story acceptance from a submission call, so pretty psyched to see that released. The third anthology is hush-hush, for now. Rest assured that when it's announced, I'll be shouting about it, as it's a cool idea.

Aside from them, the only guaranteed book I will be releasing is a charity anthology, called TRAPPED WITHIN, the proceeds of which are going to the Stroke Association.

There will be twenty odd stories from some ridiculously talented indie authors, and am aiming for a May/June release, nothing definite yet though. I've received around half of the stories already, and there are some absolute corkers in there. I'll be confirming the TOC in the first few months of the year, and hope that people can support this, as the charity means a lot to me and Debbie. This will be released through my EyeCue Productions label, and might not be the last title next year which features authors other than me. More on that later in 2017...

As for my own books, I have plans, of course I do, but as for what I will release, I don't know for certain. There's DEADLOCK, which is my heist/heaven and hell novel, which I am reworking at the moment, as the early draft starts off strong, but didn't deliver a killer punch. Have got a decent handle on it now though, so hoping to get that ready for beta readers in January.

I've nearly finished up my weird as shit novel, SUMMONED. I have had so much fun writing it, and though am going to have to strip back some of my ideas for this, mainly due to cost, it should be a ball. It's a multi-narrative book, with a few different paths and endings. This probably needs less work, but another lesson I learned from 2016, is to FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME.

Aside from that, the next CLASS FOUR book will be done. I've moved away from making it a trilogy, and it is now a series. The entire book has changed from what it was going to be, but I think the new direction will work a lot better, and be a bit more focussed than what my original intentions were.

Then, I have around four or five other ideas jostling for space. One is another zombie book, completely different from my other undead books. It's got a really cool concept to it, and I'm excited about it. But...I have some serious research to do before I can start it, so realistically, I may start writing it at the tail end of next year, but it won't be released in 2017. Then there is another book, a silly post-apocalyptic story based on one of my favourite ever bands, set when I was at the peek of my powers, in the mid-nineties. I've got some killer thoughts on this, the design of the book, EVERYTHING, I've even planned the chapters and story out, which never happens. I just need the time to write it.

So there you go, plenty to keep me occupied. I am just getting back into the swing of things again, having taken a month away from writing. It can be a bit of a slog, especially being an indie, but it's also pretty rewarding when you see the final product and the months worth of work come together.

Thanks for reading my ramblings. From me, Debbie and the cats, we wish you a happy new year. I hope that 2017 is one which you will all look back on with satisfaction.



Tuesday, 27 December 2016

What's Been...


I hope you all have had a bloody marvellous Christmas? Mine has been spent mainly at home, for the first time since me and Debbie have been together, which has been pretty cool, though I am looking forward to getting my lazy ass off the sofa and doing something in the next few days. Not now though, I'm enjoying catching up on some video games and planning on what I'm doing in 2017.

But wait, you can't look forward, until you've had a bit of a look back, so, 2016, what happened? All in all, it's been a pretty good year. Released four books, all pretty different from one another. I feel that with each one, I'm getting a little bit 'better', or at least starting to feel like I have an idea of what works for me, and what doesn't. I've also written a fair few short stories, which have been included in various anthologies, a couple alongside some fairly big 'names' within this mad world of writing I find myself in.

I've got my own favourites from my releases, it's only natural I think, but ultimately, that is of little importance. Everyone is their own animal, and what one person likes, another one yawns at. All of them though, whether they were 2,000 words, or 88,000, are shaping my writing, and that can only be a good thing.

I never planned on writing CHUMP, if I'm being honest, and it was only being invited back as a guest to the excellent Festival of Zombie Culture, that made me write those stories. Not sure if the lack of pressure helped, but they were definitely among the stories I enjoyed coming up with the most this year. As a consequence though, it did mean that I stopped work on a novel when I should've finished it up.

But, it does mean that I've written two books already for 2017, both of which need reworks and editing, but it's nice to have a bit of a jumpstart on things, even if they will need varying amounts of work before they are ready.

Along with the traditional books, I've released my first audiobook, my short story, 28 SECONDS LATER.

I wanted to see what the process was like, how popular it would be, and to get a teaser of my new book out in the world, in a different format. It's something I'd definitely look to do again, but will see what would work well in this format, as not all books would I think.

A number of people I know collect their short stories up, and release them in their own collections. I personally won't be doing that. I get why others do, you may as well do something with them, right? If it's not doing much in one anthology, why not chuck it in with your other stories and release it? For me, I have a few bands which I LOVE, so much so, that I quite enjoy tracking down rare version of songs, or B-sides (if you remember what they are). This is the approach I am taking with my short stories. 

For example, TIME FOR TEA, in the first Black Room Manuscripts, is pretty cool. Perhaps it might be worth liberating it, the same with I-SPY, my story which went out with a newsletter, never sold on an outlet. Surely, it would make sense to chuck all of these into a single tome at one point?

For me, no. If some poor sod wants to read everything I've ever written, they can track them down. It would make finding that mobi file worthwhile (maybe), or picking up a charity anthology because a story of mine is in it, something to savour.

I've been lucky enough to be invited into anthologies, I see some writers offer reprints, and that's fine. For me, I would always want to write a completely original story. Why? So that whoever gets it, reads something by me which can only be found in that book. I think that makes it pretty special, though I realise that I am far from the level where anyone would want to track down everything of mine that has been published.

It's why I keep a bibliography on my website, mainly for me though, I have to be honest :-)

So what I have enjoyed reading this year? My personal favourite book of 2016, is BERZERKOIDS, by MP Johnson. I'm gonna say now, I'm not a big fan of single author collections (says the man who released his own zombie-themed one), but the cover alone was enough for me to get it, just look at it:

With the cover art by Bill Hauser, it grabbed me before I had even read one story. It didn't disappoint. The story 'EX-PUNK' is probably the best short story I've read in a long time. So if you like bizarro and a smidge of horror, go pick it up HERE.

I read loads of good books though, THE LAST SOLDIER by Rich Hawkins, rounded off the excellent 'Plague' trilogy. HELP! A BEAR IS EATING ME, by Mykle Hansen is one of the best books I have read in a long time too, genuinely laugh out loud hilarious. Dark Minds Press have consistently knocked it out of the park this year, with a slew of novellas. Both KIDS by Paul M. Feeney and RUIN by Rich Hawkins (again), were standout titles, and with Laura Mauro on the horizon, I really cannot wait to see what they bring out next.

One of the books I managed to read, was a purchase from the end of 2015, Adam Howe's, DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET, three novellas in one product. Each as different as could be. Both the titular story, and DAMN DIRTY APES, were excellent reads. The former has one scene which even made me feel a bit uneasy, which is quite rare. 

I also managed to get round to reading some classics I've never managed to. Both 1984 and ANIMAL FARM were as good as I imagined them to be. FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS reaffirmed my love for fiction and film, the same with FIGHT CLUB. However, there is one thing this year that has stood out...

The hype train.

Being an avid gamer, this generation of gaming has seen so many lame ducks being released. Either buggy as shit, or simply broken, Watch Dogs, I'm looking at you. I kinda got used to it though, you know? However, this year, it has happened to me with a number of books I have read. First off, let me state the obvious, I get that people like different things, okay? Really, I do. If you know me, you will know that whilst I am steadfast on what I like, I fully accept that other people usually like different things, it's cool, I like finding out why.

There must be at least five books this year which were released, and lauded by review sites, big and small, and other readers, so much so, that I went out of my way to get my mitts on them. I'm part of this community, I wanna see what's hot, ya know? Time after time though, I was left disappointed. Again, see the point above, I get that we all like different things, but I wondered why it was that I didn't get on with them.

Perhaps they were too literary, too obscure, too safe, I don't know, all I know is that from now on, I'm going back to what I used to do, getting and reading the books that appeal to me. I like to mix it up, I don't stick to one genre, but I'm not going to get sucked into the hype surrounding a book, and then walk away after, trying to think of one good thing to say about it.

As for music, there have been some cool albums released in 2016, I didn't get to as many gigs as I would've liked, but I did find some new bands. My top five albums of this year are:

1 - BLINK 182, California. To think I nearly swerved this album entirely, is so weird, considering how good this album is. I'm a HUGE Tom Delonge fan, and the first single off California, didn't convince me that they were better off without him. I was chatting to Glenn Rolfe on Facebook, who said that this is the best thing he'd listened to all year. So I got it. He was right. It is the best thing they've released since their self-titled album a decade ago, it has everything that you want from Blink. Long may it continue.

2 - ARCHITECTS, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us. If this list was on sentimentality alone, this album would win. It's soaring, abrasive and invasive, and so very, very good. Metalcore can be derided, not by me I would add, but this album is ridiculously good, and needs to be listened to.

3 -THE QEMISTS, Warrior Sound. This album was released on my birthday, and I loved the first single from it. But that was it... It fell out of airplay on my iPod, until September this year, when I put it back on again. It blew me away, it's definitely a grower, and one of those albums to help you get from A to B, whilst ignoring the world.

4 - MOBY AND THE PACIFIC VOID CHOIR, These Systems Are Failing. I love Moby, but have skipped most of his stuff over the last few years, this album though gets back to what I love about him. It is catchy, loud and fills your head up when you listen to it.

5 - SLAVES, Take Control. I didn't think that they could possibly top the last album, and whilst it does fall short, it is still outstanding. They've tried a few things out, not all of it works, but by god, when it does...

There you go, that's what I enjoyed in 2016, it has been one of learning, as it should be. I feel I have a better grasp of what kind of writer I am, and what I like to write about. I'm also out on my own now, so previous limitations have been lifted, though I now have to work even harder than before. I've had periods during the year where I wonder why I do this, and I think that is par for the course. We're not in this for the money, but as a way to get something out into the world, for people to consume.

I know that my style is not typical, and I'm an acquired taste, which will alway limit my appeal. But then, who am I writing for? Me. Anything else is a bonus, though at times, that is not the easiest thing to see.

One final thing to sum up 2016. The people. I've met some marvellous people this year, both through Facebook, and around the country at conventions. Not just that, but I've also gotten to know better some people that I've known for a little longer. Without exception, it has been my honour to speak to you, chat bollocks, and build up our friendship. I am not going to name names, as that is a little self-defeating, but chances are if you're reading this, you're on that list. Writing is very insular, and all these things help keep me going, so thank you.

Which leads onto one obvious question:

What does 2017 hold?

Well...that's one for next time, the appropriate juncture, New Years Eve.



Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning


I'm gonna try not to waffle on too long, but you know what I'm like, let's get down to brass tacks.

I can confirm, effective immediately, that I am no longer a part of the Sinister Horror Company. There are a number of reasons behind this decision, but mainly, it is simply down to the fact that with any form of partnership, whether it's love, family or professional, people want different things, and do things in different ways. In order for me to ensure that what I'm doing with my spare time is still 'fun', I've had to have a bit of a think about things.

This caper consumes you, if the actual act of writing and all that entails wasn't time consuming enough, wearing the hat of a publisher, even on a small scale, takes up vast amounts of time. Then, when issues arise, they can snowball into things which distract you from what you're trying to do. This decision, and the myriad of possible outcomes, has been bubbling away in my head for a while now, and it is not one that I have come to lightly. But for the sake of my sanity, I have decided that the best thing is to part company with the SHC.

I want to place on record now, that I sincerely wish nothing but good things for Justin and Dan going forward. It's mad when you look back on what we've done in such a short space of time, and what we've achieved. I have loved going around the various conventions with Justin, meeting people and selling our wares. Through the SHC, I've met some cool people. None of this is going to change now that we're doing our own thing. You can bet your shiny metal ass that I'm gonna be highlighting their work when they've got something new to release, and no doubt at some point in time, we'll collaborate on projects.

This is evidenced perfectly by volume three of The Black Room Manuscripts, which was due to fall to me next year. We have all agreed that I will see this through to completion. I've loved putting this together so far, and I consider it a parting gift, of sorts, and will be announcing contributors, the chosen charity etc in the new year.

Where does that leave me? Well, the more eagle eyed amongst you, will have seen that since day one, the words 'An EyeCue Production', have appeared on all of my books. Since we set ourselves up, I have used the EyeCue brand as a means for the extra details I go to, in each of my books. All the graphical elements, fonts, design touches, all of that makes up how I approach publishing. EyeCue is the finishing school for my words, so it makes sense for me now, to start EyeCue off in earnest. I've got some ideas which will hopefully come to fruition within the next twelve months or so, once I've cleared some of my backlog.

There aren't too many other changes, my existing books have been rebranded, a mere change in spine logo, perhaps a new quote. The biggest change, is that each of my books now has one of these little fellas on the back, by the barcode, this one is from my upcoming zombie collection, CHUMP...

Creating the physical versions of books is what I love doing, not just the words, but the whole presentation. So now, being my own boss, I'm going to be able to ensure that every element matches what I'm after. Going forward, I've got plans to expand what I'm doing beyond writing, into other art forms, but that is a little way off yet. First and foremost, my focus is on bringing to life the books that I've got in various stages of development.This is not the end, far from it. For me, this is just the beginning.

So, there you go, cheers for reading, and if anyone has any questions, just PM me on Facebook. I hope you have a wonderful evening.


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Summer's over. YES.


It's been a few months since an update, so thought I'd better cobble some coherent thoughts together, discard them, then waffle on as per normal. First off, I'm glad summer is done with, not sure what it is about this season, but it doesn't agree with me in the slightest. My mood declines rapidly, as the heat renders me sweaty and near useless, and my motivation and ability to deal rationally with adversity also takes a hit.

In that time, heXagram was released to the world, and I'm made up to see it out in the world. Personally, I think it's my best work to date, a real mix of styles and an interesting narrative, which is something a little different to other books out there. Must admit that its reception surprised me a little, I think that whilst it was difficult to pigeonhole, it is pretty much a horror novel. With each book, you learn lessons, and the biggest one I'll take from heXagram, is to stop caring too much about reviews.

Whilst they are good, to a degree, they are purely one persons view on your art. I became a bit too wrapped up in some of the feedback on heXagram, that it, coupled with summer, kinda kicked my arse for a bit. It is what it is, in the main, the reception has been really cool. Most point to being unsure of what to expect, only to then get to the end, and be thoroughly impressed. That's all I can ask for really.

Admission time, I did sit down and wonder if perhaps I should change what I write, following some of the comments. Perhaps I should stick to one thing, and not try to be different. That though, would mean that I'm not doing it for the right reasons. I write what I want, because I believe that the story is an interesting one to tell, not because I think it's going to be super-popular, or for anyone else. I'm not about pandering to trends or other people, and I'm glad I've gone through this now, so that I am 100% clear on it.

2016 has been pretty cool in the main, three books out, making five in total. It was going to be my lot until next year, but I realised that I had a couple of zombie stories not doing anything. After being invited back as a guest to the Festival of Zombie Culture this November, I wanted to bring something new, so I came up with the idea of writing a zombie collection. Nothing quite like giving myself more stuff to do huh? :-)

So, I sat down and wrote six or seven brand new stories about a variety of undead, a number also feature a few familiar faces from my Facebook interactions. I hope that if they read CHUMP, they'll do so with a wry smile at their depiction.

Another thing I realised, is that this year, I have gone from working on one project at a time, to having two, three or even four things on the go at once. This was doing me no favours at all. So from now on, I will be dealing with one thing, seeing it through, before moving onto the next shiny thing. It's a pain in the neck as I've got at least four or five absolute killer ideas in my head, but it needs to be done, more for my sanity than anything.

With that in mind, after CHUMP, I'm gonna be finishing up DEADLOCK, so it will be ready early next year. Then, I'm gonna choose from the list of ideas, and see what's next. The CLASS FOUR trilogy needs the next instalment, but I've had a killer idea for a new zombie book, which will kinda reinvent how they have been portrayed over the past twenty years or so.

Finally...I have had my first ever short story acceptance. LIVE TO SERVE, will be in the Stitched Smile anthology, MONSTERS v ZOMBIES. There will be two volumes, and am not sure which one it'll be in yet, but it's cool to receive validation of my work. Plus, it came with a little financial reward too. It's not much, but it's still nice to get.

Right, I've blathered on for ages. I really can't wait to get CHUMP ready for consumption, there are some really diverse stories in there, it's a good mix of serious and silliness. Have a good one you lot, take it easy.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

Update from my brain


Been super-busy recently with loads of stuff, so thought I'd best give an update on things. First off, I have a bit of announcement to make about Deadlock. This is a tale of a retired thief, who is talked into one last job. Unfortunately, it's a trap, and he and his chums are pitched into Hell. I finished the third draft a few weeks back, and had a few niggly doubts about it. The wife read through it, and whilst she enjoyed it, seemed to suffer from the same problem that I did.

Thing is, there are some really excellent parts to it, it's dark, horrible, yet still quite funny in places. The main problem is that the links between each section aren't right, and I've been unable to put my finger on exactly what is causing the problem. So...I have put it on hiatus, probably until next year. If I had only this book to work on, I think it would make the Halloween launch date with ease, but I've got some stories and events coming up, which mean that my time has to be spent doing other things. I'm a little disappointed, but I want to make sure that when it comes out, it is everything I want it to be, and until I can work out what the hell is wrong with it, and fix, it just isn't working.

So, that means, that my only guranteed release for the rest of 2016, is Hexagram, which is out in a month. Expect to hear more about this as we approach the launch, and beyond. You can pre-order both the physical and digital copies through the links below:

UK -
US -

What do I have lined up for the next few months? Well...I've got a few short stories to write for a number of projects, some of which I'll be able to announce in the next few months. Plus, I have a number of interviews and the like to get sorted out, for the Hexagram release. Then, I am going to be picking up my zombie hat again, and finishing up the Class Four trilogy.

The second book, 'Versus' has changed a little in my head over the past few months, and I think it will make it work a lot better. It is now a straight up head to head between the Children of Ishtar, and the two psycho's from Class Three. It'll help add a bit of back story to the first book, whilst setting things up nicely for the conclusion with book three. Having popped down to Rhayader the other day, where the survivors in my book are holed up, I've got a good feel for the lay of the land, and how the huge climactic battle will unfold.

In slightly different news, the small press I co-run, The Sinister Horror Company, has got some excellent releases coming up. The second volume of our charity anthology, The Black Room Manuscripts, is out in a few weeks, and my story, 'Mutant Building 101' is in it. It's an OTT fifties homage to B-movie monster films, and is completely different to anything else in the anthology. Make sure you snag a copy, through the links below:

UK -
US -

Finally, July is convention season for the SHC, and you can find my cohorts and I at a number of places during the month. There's a link below to where we'll be, if you're also there, make sure you come across and say hello!

Have a good one peeps.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

New novel, Hexagram, will be released...

Ahoy, just a quick one, my new novel, Hexagram, will be released into the world on Monday 25 July 2016. I really cannot wait for this to be out there, I feel it has my best work to date in. It's probably more of a concept 'album' than anything, as it is six stories, over five hundred years, linked together by an Inca ritual.

But hey! Here's a little teaser trailer to whet your appetite:

You can pre-order either the physical or digital copies right now too, through the links below:

Amazon UK -
Amazon US -

Expect to hear loads about this before, during and after launch. Any questions though, hit me up on Facebook, would love to hear from you. 



Saturday, 2 April 2016

An Ode To Stuff

Greetings once more,

It's Saturday morning, the sun is shining, and being the utterly miserable sod that I am, I'm in my office, sheltered from its annoying rays. Been thinking a lot about the actual act of writing recently, how one day, you can save your current WIP, and you think, 'you know what, there's some good shit there'. You even have a look back and allow yourself a chuckle at a witty exchange or wince from a particularly nasty death. Then you get the days when getting the words down is like pulling teeth. The laptop closes and you are filled with, 'why am I even bothering to do this?'

It's important to have support, in whatever form that takes, it is different for everyone. Up until recently, I thought it was one thing, when it is actually something else entirely. My wife Debbie HATES horror, can't stand it in the slightest, makes her squeamish, and it is just not her bag. Yet, throughout my writing, she's always asking when she can read the current project I'm working on.

Sure, some bits she skims over, one chapter in Class Three (fifteen if you're interested), she will not re-read at all, as she says it's too much for her, but she reads it. She is the first person to read through the third/fourth draft, when I'm happy that it's ready for consumption. There is a point to all of this (honest)...I read Stephen King's 'On Writing' recently, and he said that you write for someone else. Up until then, I assumed it was me. It's not, like Stevo writing for his missus, I realised that I was writing for Debbie.

With writing, once it is out in the world, the only feedback you get are reviews or comments on social media, but when Debbie is reading through my latest brain dribblings next to me, I hear her laugh, so can ask what she found funny. I see her squirm when she gets to the sick bits, and I see her puzzled face when she gets to something I haven't explained very well.

She is who I write for, and I think that is pretty damn cool.

So, what am I up to? Well, the first draft of Deadlock is done and currently sitting where I left it on the hard drive. I think I've done what I did with Hexagram, in that I started it off all serious, and then remembered that serious isn't my thing. The first few edits will restore order to that, plus...late last night, Stephen Cooney sent me the cover. Wanna see? Here it is...

Pretty cool huh? Well, I think so anyway. It's a bit odd to have a cover ready for a book which won't be out until October, but hey. More on that in the coming months. With the first draft finally done, the plan was to have a few days off, finish The Division, then hit up some short stories. But try as I might, I just couldn't get into any of them. Then I had a flash of inspiration. There was a story about Rachel Riley from Countdown accidentally spelling out a swear word, then some wit on Facebook, posted this:

This got me thinking...what if a world-ending beast was summoned from some hellish plain accidentally. 'Summoned' was born. It's a working title, so likely to change, but another thing happened. Instead of trying to write it one way, I wrote it MY way. So far at least, the words are flowing from me like arterial spray, I'm loving it. It is also going to be a 'multi-narrative' book, I'd love to say it is a 'choose your own adventure' book, but it's not that deep, but there will be choices to make and different endings. Above all, it's going to be silly, like me. Plus...I'm hoping I've snagged the artist for it.

Prime Directive has had the Debbie treatment, and some further refinements. Re-reading it, I've found that there is a section, a couple of chapters, quite key ones, where I'm just not feeling it. My plan is to re-write them in a few weeks, so it'll be ready way before release at the end of May. I've always had a nagging doubt that something was missing from it, now, I hope I've identified it, and know how I'm going to fix it.

So we go full circle, back to what I said first off. The idea for Summoned, and even Deadlock came to me, and I liken it to a cloud. It lacks form, after chatting with Debbie, she made a suggestion for each, which made it go from being vague, to WOW, that will work. I'll go into more detail on these books in due course, along with Hexagram, which I cannot wait to share with you.

I'm just gonna leave you with this, sometimes shit happens, and you're wondering what the hell you are going to do. When all the things you thought were there, actually aren't. Take a moment to ponder, most of the time, when you look past all the other bullshit, you'll find that there is a constant standing in the swirling dust, and always has been. That is your support, that is the reason for spending your free time tapping words onto a screen, hoping to fuck that it will all make sense.

I'm off, got a couple of endings to write involving a giant apocalyptic beast, with seven arse cheeks, till next time.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

An Interview With...Rich Hawkins

Why hello!

Super to see you, though of course, I can't really see you, but if I were you, I'd do something about your hair, it's a bit...Einstein-esque today. Well it's Saturday, and it's time for the second interview over on this here blog. Today's guest currently resides in my hometown of Salisbury, has a majestic beard, was nominated for a BFS award last year and (annoyingly) is a bloody nice chap. It is of course, the man, the myth, the LEGEND: Rich Hawkins.

I, like most people, first heard of Rich through his acclaimed 'The Last Plague', and have snagged his other books to date, including the novella, 'Black Star, Black Sun'.

The conclusion to his 'The Last...' trilogy drops TODAY, so thought it an opportune time to probe him, intellectually of course, whilst The Last Soldier downloads on your kindle, because you have just bought it, haven't you? As before, my interview consists of two sections, equal part sensible and silly, just like me.
Good, so, without further ado, let's begin...

DB: I thought my cheese supplies were running dangerously low, pray tell, who the Dickens are you?

RH: I hail from the depths of Somerset, where my childhood of science fiction and horror films inspired me to start writing my own stories. I love cheese and coffee. My debut novel THE LAST PLAGUE was published in 2014, and since then I’ve released two novellas, several short stories and two more novels. I currently live in Salisbury, Wiltshire, with my wife, daughter, and pet dog, although we’re moving back to Somerset very soon. I write horror, and I love it. 

DB: The conclusion to The Last Plague trilogy, 'The Last Soldier' is upon us, how do you feel now that it’s all drawn to a conclusion?

RH: It feels a bit weird, to be honest. Bittersweet. There’s some relief that the trilogy’s finished and I can work on other stuff, but I’ve still got a hankering to return to that fictional world and add more stories to it.  Maybe in the future, who knows?  
DB: Let’s say someone has lived under a rock these last two years, give them a quick rundown on The Last Plague trilogy.

RH: THE LAST PLAGUE begins with a mysterious virus that devastates Great Britain. Four old mates on a stag weekend (bachelor party, to our colonial friends) have to travel across the country to return to their families, all while trying to survive the outbreak and avoid the infected hordes roaming the land. THE LAST OUTPOST is set six months after the outbreak, and focuses on a few of the survivors trying to escape the mainland. THE LAST SOLDIER is set a year later, and involves a character from the first novel return to Britain in search of…something. I had great fun writing them.

DB: How is The Last Soldier different than the other two books in the trilogy, did you have any particular aims or themes in mind when you wrote it?

RH: It’s a little different because the main characters are returning to Britain instead of trying to escape it. I wanted to complete the overall arc of the story and reveal the true nature of the Plague and its endgame. I hope I’m successful in doing so!

DB: When you wrote The Last Plague, did you intend it to be a one and done, or did you always have some additional books in the world in mind?

RH: When I started writing The Last Plague, I wasn’t thinking that far ahead, to be honest. But once it was published I began to get more ideas for other stories set in the same world, and it just went on from there.
DB: To say your stuff is bleak, would be like saying that the sun is quite bright, was this a conscious decision to write this way?

RH: As the novels involve the possible extinction of humanity and the end of the world, it was definitely a conscious decision! I lean towards the bleak side of horror anyway, so it seemed like the correct tone for the books. I do worry that sometimes my writing’s a bit *too* bleak, and it’ll put readers off my stuff. Maybe one day I’ll write something with a happy ending (not that kind, you perv).

DB: The world and writings of H P Lovecraft are having a zombie-esque renaissance, you’re a keen fan of both sub-genres, what is it about them both that inspires you?

RH: I love the concept of ‘cosmic horror’ in Lovecraft’s stories – the insignificance of the human race compared to the vast cosmos, and the universe’s utter indifference to us all. Plus a lot of it involves cool monsters with tentacles. I’ve been a zombie nut since my youth, after watching Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’, and I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with the end of the world, so anything apocalypse/zombie-related inspires me to create my own apocalyptic worlds.

DB: The Last Outpost was quite insular, with Royce’s journey being the main focus, whilst The Last Plague played off the camaraderie of the friends and was larger in scale, which did you prefer writing, and why?

RH: It’s very difficult to pick one. I enjoyed writing both, but if I was forced to give an answer it would probably be THE LAST PLAGUE, as it was my first novel and I had no idea where I was going with it. There was no pressure. I just had fun with it.
DB: What’s next for Mr Hawkins?

I have a few short stories due out in various anthologies this year. My vampire novella KING CARRION will be released in the next few months. After that, there’s another novella due for release in September. 

DB: Will we ever see any more books/stories based in your ‘The Last…’ world, aside from your novella, 'The Plague Winter', for the Infected Books Year Of The Zombie?

RH: If I do return to the Plague world, it won’t be for a while. I may give it a few years and see how it feels. If not, THE LAST SOLDIER is a good end for the trilogy.

So...Rich, if that is even your real name, you have answered the questions which people probably think they want answered. I thank you, not just for myself, but for the two other people that are likely to read this. However, the real test of your prowess is yet to begin, bring out...THE QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS OF DOOM. (Totally trademarked up the ying yang btw) I need the first thing you think of…

DB: Oreos or custard creams?

RH: Oreos

DB: Weirdo. Upon opening a cupboard door, instead of finding your favourite tin of soup, you discover a pot noodle. What flavour is it?

RH: Chicken and mushroom

DB: What weighs more, the futility of existence or a pillow case filled with spare change?

RH: Futility. Always futility…

DB: You’ve been infected, bummer, if you could choose, what new appendages would you hope for?

RH: A mouth-tentacle with a razor maw at its tip. That would be cool.

DB: Whilst flying to the Isle of Wight, you crash land on an island, there are two survivors, Piers Morgan and David Cameron, who do you eat first, and what method of cooking do you employ?

RH: Piers Morgan, purely because he supports Arsenal. In terms of cooking methods, whatever causes him the most discomfort, I think. I bet he tastes funny. I’d have to boil the awfulness out of him. Same goes for Cameron. Horrendous men, both of them.

DB: Giving up the writing game due to a nasty bout of whooping cough, you form a band, what style is it and who are the other members?

RH: Doom metal. I’d be on drums, with Cormac McCarthy, Russell Crowe, Gillian Anderson, and H from Steps on whatever instruments they’re happy to play. Plus the three lads from The Sinister Horror Company as backing singers…
DB: Awww...seventeen people line up for a midnight showing of the entire Twilight films, how many could you shishkebob before the police taser you?

RH: All of them. Anyone who wants to watch those films in quick succession obviously has a death wish anyway…

DB: What is your current number one smell?

RH: The smell of my old hardback copy of Stephen King’s IT. Smells like history and Oxfam shops.

DB: Underpants…do you wear your own or sneak Sara’s on, and prance around the house pretending you’re a laydee?

RH: I never prance. I saunter. I wear my own, and they’re frilly.

DB: Is Daniel Marc Chant real, or a figment of your overactive imagination?

RH: I’ll ask him. He’s outside my kitchen window. I think he’s been rifling through my rubbish, as he has bin-juice on his face.

DB: That's not bin juice...I’ve just smashed your Charles and Diana commemorative plate, how do you exact your just revenge?

RH: I send Daniel Marc Chant to your house, where he will sing Uptown Girl in falsetto while wearing the mankini Sean Connery wore in the film ‘Zardoz’. That’ll teach you, plate-smasher.

There, I'm spent, but I think you'll agree that I grilled him good. So before Rich and I towel ourselves off, and settle down for a nice cup of tea, and watch Zombie Fight Club, we wish you a good day, an update on my writing is next week.



If you like the cut of Rich Hawkins' jib, and you really should do, head over to his Amazon page to peruse his wares, hit his blog up, or like the shit out of him at Facebook.


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Award Season

It's Saturday...I'm's time for an update on all things writing.

First off, it's the weekend ahead of the release of my third book, Celebrity Culture, and my first release which doesn't include the undead. Weird. It's also my first dip of the toe into the world of bizarro, and from the few people who have read it so far, it's gone done well, (cue double entendre). It is no coincedence that it is being released the day after the Oscars. One of my big bugbears is the world of celebrity, where every move is captured, every body function filmed and people who would struggle to do a proper job, are revered.

So this is my little poke at it, I hope that if you pick it up, you enjoy it, I had fun writing it, even if it was like pulling teeth at times.

If you want to snag a copy, here are the links, as a heads up, we use Lightning Source, which Amazon don't own, so physical copies are held back by a week usually. If you are keen to get it, best to get through my website:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

Work on Deadlock continues unabated, I'm up to 65k now, and had the option of taking a different path with it, which would've meant that the first draft would be finished this weekend. One of the joys of being a pantser. However...when I thought about it, I felt that it would then end up not being the book I set out to write. So have rewritten a chapter, and am now steering it back down the path originally intended. I do fear that it will be a bit of a beast...

The cover is being done by the amazing Stephen Cooney, who has done a number of exceptional covers over the years, most recently, Jim Goforth's Zombie Fleshcrave. Seriously, check it out HERE. He sent me through a sketch of the main character from the Deadlock cover, and it exceeded what I was after, and I'm a tricky person to please.

With the swerve on Deadlock, I'm taking a few days to re-centre myself, and then get back to it, may look to get a short story knocked up, but am undecided. I'm still umming and ahhing about what to do with Prime Directive, so have put it on the Kindle for the wife to read and let me know what she reckons. I'll then know whether it's a goer, or if I will hit up a mate to co-write it with.

So, exceptionally busy still, which is good, worked out that this year so far, I'm written 90k on two projects already, and with the plans for when Deadlock is finally done, it's going to be a mammoth writing year. I'll be taking a week and a bit off in June when we go on holiday, so hoping to get back from that and pick up on the second book in the Class Four trilogy, Class Four.

That's all for now, got a new interview with another author coming up in the next few weeks. Will give you a clue as to their identity...this could very well be 'The Last Interview'.

Take it easy y'all


Saturday, 6 February 2016

An Interview With...Kayleigh Marie Edwards


In addition to my ramblings on what the hell I'm writing and doing, I'll also be posting up the odd (zombie) movie review, and interviews with other writers. The questions will be twofold, one set will be cutting and insightful, the other set...not so much, but will hopefully shine a light on their brain workings.

My first ever victim is the rather wonderful Kayleigh Marie Edwards. She came to my attention with her Ginger Nuts of Horror articles. At the time we were looking for contributors to Volume One of The Black Room Manuscripts, I approached her and was delighted when she said yes. Her story, 'Skin', was one of my personal favourites from TBRM1.

"If this doesn't raise a smile and have you double-checking your zombie apocalypse plan, you're probably already dead."

Her short story, Bitey Bachman, has just been released, and is a digital exclusive over on Kindle. I thought it prudent to try out my interviewing technique, and have stumbled upon someone as wonderfully weird as me, enjoy...

DPB - Hello! Who the hell are you and how did you get in here? 

KME - Oh heyyy. I’m Kayleigh, I’ve come for the mini pizzas. You shouldn’t have left that window open, I’m a keen climber.

DPB - So, your short story, Bitey Bachman, is out on Monday, how did it come about?

KME - I write every day, if only for practice. One fateful night, I had infuriating writer’s block. I had nothing! I took a bunch of green post-it notes and wrote a location on each one. Then I took a load of pink post-it notes and wrote a crime on each one. Finally, I had a load of orange post-it notes and I wrote a ‘situation’ on each one, you know, ‘huge fire’, ‘meteor crash’, etc. I chucked them all in a bag and drew out one of each colour and what I got was ‘asylum’, ‘zombie apocalypse’, and ‘indecent exposure’. And thus, Bitey was formed.

DPB - It pays homage (of sorts) to a particular musical…what was the reason behind it?

KME - Well…. I like to be silly. The story is silly, the references are silly, and that particular musical is silly but in the best possible way. I didn’t mean to put so many references in there, it was only when I read it back I realised I’d punctuated sections of the plot with it! I drew a bit of inspiration from it (the absurdity of secret labs and whatnot), but mostly I just wanted to capture the camp feel of the whole thing.

DPB - It is clear from this, your Ginger Nuts of Horror articles and other stories, that you’re ‘quite keen’ on the undead. Is your writing process between zombies and ‘other stuff’ different?

KME - There’s a huge difference and I think it’s because I’m a bit weird.I can’t stand to read about or watch horror that’s all about human suffering. Monster stories? Yay! Stories of people turning mad and doing harm to themselves and those they love? Errrrggggghhhh that stuff makes me feel all dead and cold and unpleasant inside. And yet, that’s the stuff I write when I’m writing straight horror. It always goes that way, maybe because a full nervous, emotional breakdown and a descent into the most unpleasant mental states imaginable is what I consider the scariest thing that can happen to a person. When I’m writing like that, I genuinely feel depressed and I go through all these weird motions in my mind. And it takes me ages to finish that stuff.

But when I’m writing about zombies…. Yaaaaaay fun! Even if you care about the characters (I swear, if anything happens to The Walking Dead’s Carol….), you can only suffer so much if something happens to them, because the backdrop is pure fiction. It’s just straight, great fun.
When I’m writing, I feel like I’m in the zombie apocalypse, I go into zombie apocalypse mode. But the fun kind. And most of all, I get to write these totally ridiculous non-hero type characters that are inappropriate for other types of stories.

I wrote a play called Kill ‘em in the Brain about four completely different, but equally idiotic and silly people, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had creating something. It got staged twice by a very talented cast who added lines and gestures – it was like watching my kids grow up!

DPB - What are you working on now?

KME - Finding a house that isn’t full of damp. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a house in the valleys that doesn’t have damp in the walls?

Work-wise, I’m currently on a review tour of haunted places around Britain. I’m visiting all these super cool, apparently haunted locations and writing up my experience, along with interviews with staff and a history of each place. It will be a series of video-uploads, blogs, reviews, and at the end of the year I plan to compile it all into a book. It’s also the basis of my PhD thesis – I’m interested in how the stories told about these places affect the experience for those who visit them.

DPB - If you were only allowed to watch one zombie film until the end of time, which one would you choose, and why…

KME - I’d love to say George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead because it’s an academically acclaimed beast of thematically challenging and poignant filmmaking, and the first undead zombie movie of its kind. But I’m gonna go ahead and say Rec., which was directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. It was the first zombie movie I saw that actually scared me, and I think the premise and set-up is cool. Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is a close second, and the one I’ve viewed the most times though – that film is a scriptwriting masterpiece!

DPB - Do you have any particular aspirations with your writing?

KME - All the aspirations. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I want to write a novel that deserves to be on the best-seller list, and/or a TV show that loads of people want to watch. At a minimum, I just want to make a living as a full-time writer. I’ve spent my life having people (even fellow writers) rolling their eyes at me for that, and I’ve spent years enduring jobs that make me not want to get up in the morning, but why should I? Why should anyone? Life is too short to have your soul crushed by the thing that takes up most of your week.

DPB - Excellent, you have proved yourself worthy of...THE QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS OF DOOM. You need nerves of steel and a sphincter capable of clenching in a quark from a Black Hole. I need the first thing you think of… 

KME - Cheese.

DPB - Ohhh, you're good, though the real questions biscuit? 

KME - Cow biscuits (or Malted Milks, for the less childish).

DPB - You decide to farm animals to manufacture your own brand of cheese, which animal do you milk and what novelty food do you serve?

KME - Bats. I’d serve bat cheese on little fang-shaped crackers, with Bloody Marys.

DPB - Christmas or Halloween?

KME - Oh gooooddddddddd. I’d love to say Halloween, as a horror fanatic, but it has to be Christmas!

DPB - It’s the end of the world, HOORAY! Who do you trip up first to help you escape from the ravenous zombie horde?

KME - The careers advisor from school who made fun of me for wanting to be a writer, and then kicked me out of her office when I asked her if ‘careers advisor’ is what she wanted to be when she grew up.

DPB - You are shopping in a supermarket, and discover a portal to another dimension. What do you throw through to test that you won’t be reduced to atoms?

KME - David Cameron.

DPB - You can make one band live forever, who do you choose?

KME - Your Protected. They’re the best band you haven’t heard of, but that you definitely should have. If you get the chance to see these guys live, they will melt your face off with sheer talent. If they were the last people alive while the world was ending, they’d probably produce a beast of an apocalypse track for the planet to die with.

DPB - There are only two pairs of shoes in the entire world, one stinks like a rotting animal resting in an open sewer, the other cuts off circulation to your toes, causing festering sores, which do you wear?

KME - I’ve recently worn a new pair that cut off the circulation to my toes, causing festering sores, and I ended up limping around in the rain with bleeding feet. I looked like something from Carrie. So, I guess it’s the rotting animal smelling ones.

DPB - Odd numbers or even numbers?

KME - It depends on if they can be divided equally by the number 3.

So there you have it, equal parts Michael Parkinson and Avid Merrion, thanks to Kayleigh for stopping by and eating me out of mini pizza. If you haven't already, pick up Bitey Bachman today, it's a rather cool take on the zombie apocalypse. Check out Kayleigh on her blog over at

Take it easy y'all


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Get your ass to Mars


Hoping you are well and enjoying your weekend? Two weeks huh? What the Dickens have I been up to, well...

The novel, Deadlock was put on the naughty step, as I hit a brick wall on it. Think I was trying to write it too straight, if you've read my stuff, you know there is an element of humour in it, and looking back through it, it's missing, and my initial get up and go, well, went. hasn't been dead time. Whilst I reprimanded it, I started (and finished) an (as yet) unnamed novella. (More brackets? No) It's a sci-fi/horror story centred around the first manned mission to Mars. It's coming to the end of the trip, and the resident geologist, miffed that all she has discovered is egg smelling rock, sets off to the Galle crater. Whilst there, she makes a few revelatory discoveries.

Needless to say, things go a little awry, and the crew are forced to fight for their survival. The true history of not just Mars, but also our own planet is revealed, can the survivors stop the destruction of everything they know? If the Galle crater rings a bell, here's a little picture of it:

It's also referred to as the 'smiley face' crater, and fans of Watchmen will recognise it. Hey, if you want to set something on Mars, may as well reference one of the best comics/graphic novels of all time huh?

That needs to be edited, but I'm going to let it settle for a few weeks before I go back to it. There are so many potential little holes I could've missed, that I need some time away from it, before heading back.

I'll be getting back on Deadlock in the meantime, and already have the cover image formed in my head, and the dude in mind who will hopefully be able to bring it to life. More info on that when it has been formalised.

Elsewhere, I am over the moon to be part of Matt Shaw's Easter anthology 'Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers'. The list of authors involved is a who's who of modern indie horror authors, to be in their company is pretty awe-inspiring, but also a little shit your pants scary. I've written the story for it, called 'Hey-Zeus', and that is currently off with Mr J.R. Park, to see what he makes of it. I don't want to give much away on it, but it's a retelling (of sorts) of the Easter story, just done my way.

You can pre-order it right now, it's Kindle only, but an absolute steal at 99p/cents;

Finally, the physical proof for Celebrity Culture is winging its way to me, and is now available on Amazon for pre-order. It's £4.99 in the UK: and $6.99 over in the US: I'm really looking forward to this being released, though will be a lot more low-key than my other books, not for any other reason than Bizarro is a niche market, and this will definitely not be to everyone's tastes. Not because of the content, but just because it is pretty out-there. Still, if you fancy seeing what my brain is capable of coming up with, please do.

I'm gonna get back to reading through Deadlock again, and try to get back into it. Really cannot wait for the books that should be winging their way out to people this year. Have a BONZER weekend, catch ya on the flipside.