Friday, 6 September 2019

Let The Past Die

'Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It is the only way to become what you were meant to be.'

Invariably, after I release a book into the world, I fall into a bit of a writing-related funk. In part, it's down to the sheer amount of effort that goes into every aspect of the creation of it, and the realisation that for all of the bluff and bluster before launch, once it's out there, it disappears pretty quickly from people's view and I'm left wondering if all that effort was truly worth it. That's something for another day. The point of this little post is what happens after that, when I'm thinking about what I should work on next.

The last two books I've finished up, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'VE ACCIDENTALLY SUMMONED A WORLD-ENDING MONSTER. WHAT NOW? and DON'T SMELL THE FLOWERS! THEY WANT TO STEAL YOUR BONES are books that I've had on the go for some time. The former was started over two years ago, but I wanted to finish it up, indeed, my mantra for 2019 has been exactly that. "Finish what you started, get it the fuck out there and then you can start on something completely new." It's an admirable sentiment but as I prepared to finish the next book I'd half-finished, it hit me. Why? Why should I be trying to get back into writing a book that I stopped writing a year and a half ago? I stopped it for a reason, because some other new shiny idea shone brighter, or for more mundane reasons such as work etc.

So I've come to a decision, anything that I've started and not finished, has been shelved. Not for a little bit, for good. Sure, part of me wants to finish some of them up as I really enjoy their concept, but my writing has moved on a lot in the past few years that I just don't see why I should try to finish something that I started with a completely different mindset. 

However, before I abandon them in the fetid waters of my brain, only to plunder elements from them in the future, I wanted to list them all, and give them an obituary of sorts, they deserve that at least. Here are the ideas that I've cast into a shallow grave, some are just rough plans, others...not so much:

'Roll With It' - This is a post-apocalyptic book set in the summer of 1995, just as Oasis and Blur went head-to-head in their charts with their decidedly average singles. Essentially, astronauts repairing the Hubble telescope inadvertently lay waste to the world by deflecting the sun's rays, which also hit a radio station aerial which then beams out the music of the day across the world. The protagonist awakes to discover the world turned on its head, but is determined to get Oasis to number one in the charts and sets off to purchase one copy to achieve that. Along the way, they'd encounter groups of people turned into gangs, so you'd get Electric Punks (Prodigy, Pop Will Eat Itself), a church based on Black Grape, Industrial Metal peeps centred on NIN and Marilyn Manson. I've written the first 12k on it, but the antagonist is actually a better character. This was going to be my next project, getting it ready for the 25th anniversary next year.

'The Tales of Doctor Nano' - I started this just after I finished Class Three, that's how old it is. The titular superhero is recovering after his most recent battle and is being interviewed. He recounts five of his toughest adventures, but halfway through the book, the journalist reveals that he knows Doctor Nano's secret, that he intentionally murdered his enemies and stole things from them that he used to improve his own abilities (he was infected with shitloads of nanobots which can shape his flesh, and do cool things like that). Second half of the book was the court case, his escape from jail and eventual demise. 

'Afterthought' - A female copper who is out looking for a missing kid gets killed by a hit-and-run driver. Gets recruited by a spirit who shows her that they have the ability to read dead people's final thoughts their 'afterthought'. Cue story to try and find the missing kid, twists and turns ahoy!

'Deadlock' - Man, I fucking loved this idea. A retired jewel thief is hired for one more job (of course he fucking is), by weirdo. The four-man crew break into the basement of the diamond exchange, only to wind up straight into hell itself. The main premise is that the men are already dead, but anyone who had something left to sort out, or falls in the middle between being 'good' or 'evil', is destined to remain in limbo, or Deadlock. The forces of Heaven and Hell send agents into Deadlock to try and recruit these souls to their side. Anyway, the main character killed himself after his wife died of cancer, and discovers that he can try to find her in the afterlife. Ends up going through Deadlock, meeting up with people who live there knowing what the place is, fighting angels and demons, trying to find a path through everything to get to his wife. I actually finished this, but the ending didn't land, and every attempt to get it to work, failed. I even have a cover for it.

'Suicide Season' - This is loosely based on the song of the same name by Bring Me The Horizon. It's fucking brilliant, and was a snap-shot of a moment in my life. Anyway, story starts up with this guy killing himself atop a hill overlooking where he grew up. His best friend can't get over what happened, but finds out that there is a way to bring back his best friend. All he has to do, is to kill someone - a life for a life. After fighting with the morality of it, eventually do it, brings his friend back who then kills himself again, as he just can't bear living. Cheery, huh?

'Tribute/The Calling' - Man, I loved this idea. Starts out with a kid dropping gifts into a toilet, 'tributes' to what is assumed to be an imaginary friend. Mum finds out, goes mental, removes toilet door so that the kid can't do it any more. Fast forward to the present day, and the now-grown-up man is in a bar, drowning his sorrows. Dickhead and his mates start picking on him, the gang get killed by this monster made out of poo. Yep, the very same monster that lives in the sewers that LOVED the presents the kid used to send him. It's a feelgood buddy book as the monster decides to help get the bloke's life back on track. Cue hilarity, loads of shit jokes and general silliness.

'Shellshock' - story, SOLID FOUNDATIONS was voted the best in the Shadow Work Publishing anthology, Versus: X, beating the likes of Jack Ketchum and Wrath James White. I know, I'm as shocked as you. That made me wonder if I could write a proper extreme horror book, so came up with the idea of a soldier trapped in a crater in the middle of no-mans land in WW1. Having to survive in there with rats trying to eat him, body parts, going slowly insane and the general inhumanity of war going on. Never got past the idea stage with this one.

'Three Rings' - This was going to be my full-on serious thriller. There's a saying that when you drive home from seeing people, usually parents, you ring their landline three times to let them know you got home safe. Basic setup was that this guy gives a woman a lift back from the gym, drops her off at her house, goes home to his wife, goes to bed. Wakes up the next day with the police at the door, who say that the woman from the gym was murdered and he's under arrest. Sets in motion the whole did he/didn't he plot, which at one point was going to go all supernatural. Never really had a chance to think on it too long.

'Class Four' - When I wrote Class Four: Those Who Survive, it was my intention to write a trilogy. I even started writing book two (twice), but I'd moved on and just couldn't get into them. Always planned to finish them up, and of all the books on the list, it's possible I may go back at one point, but not in the immediate future.

'Voodou' - I wanted to write a zombie book that was more White Zombie than Dawn of the Dead, going back to the roots of what a zombie is. The secret text story in Chump is actually set in that world. There are random acts of violence going on around the world, being carried out by 'zombies', people that are controlled by one bad dude. Uses a variety of means to drug them, think one of the ways was via coffee shops. Anyway, a hitman looking into the death of a journalist friend, uncovers the plot for world domination and tries to put a stop to it.

There you go. If you've got to this point, you might be asking what the fuck are you actually going to write next, Duncan? Well...a few years back I bought a cover which I was going to use for the above Voodou story. It's fucking brilliant and I refuse to let it go to waste. So I'm using it as a writing prompt, and have come up with the working title of 'AND IN THE NIGHT, IT CLAIMED THEM'. It's not bizarro, it's not comedy and is firmly in the horror camp. Got some killer ideas for it, and now have to see if I have the skills to write it. Hope so. You wanna see the cover? I bet you do. I'll save that for another time.



Saturday, 30 December 2017

2017 - A Look Back


Normally, at the end of each year, I'll list my top five books, albums or general cool things, this year though, I'm doing summat a little different. I think in the main this is down to turning 40, a chance to look back over four decades of existing and wondering how many more I have ahead of me. Now, it's all about making sure I experience the things I want to, whether that's something as banal as reading a book I've been meaning to get to, see a band I've longed to see or watch monster trucks jump over cars, I'm going to be trying to get as much done as possible. So, with that in mind, here is my top ten experiences of 2017, in reverse order, to try and maintain a sense of building tension and wonder.


10 - Bangalore, India - April

Some might consider this an odd choice, as I went there because of work, and spent two days with chronic bum wee, but still, a chance to see a different part of the world is always a good thing. The infrastructure in Bangalore is a little...spartan, but the people were lovely, and to see somewhere you never thought you'd get to witness, was worth the Immodium.

9 - Trapped Within - June

Man, to think I nearly canned this, am so glad I decided to put the problems that I was facing at the time behind me, and focus on getting it published and out there. The first ever release through my little label, EyeCue Productions that wasn't a book completely written by me, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. The main thing though is that I was able to get some cash across to the Stroke Association, which is a charity close to me and my wife's heart. So far, aside from the £100 donation made first off, all sales and page reads made up to the end of October 2017, the book itself has raised £322.92. Think that is pretty good going, all things considered. This book will continue to send all proceeds from every sale through to the charity directly, FOREVER. A big thank you to everyone who has bought it, or read it through Kindle Unlimited, I really appreciate it.

8 - Kraftwerk, Oxford New Theatre - June

I've got a mental list of bands that I would love to see live, who I define as classic artists, for one reason or another. When I saw that Kraftwerk were doing some live dates, I knew I had to go see them. After missing out on tickets at Bristol, I managed to snag a pair for Oxford. The wife wasn't that fussed, but I convinced her to go, and even she enjoyed them! That's pretty much a seal of approval right there. They were phenomenal, and it's another one ticked off the list.

7 - FantasyCon, First Ever Panel, Peterborough - September

Now, I come across as quite a confident chap, I think, but still, the thought of sitting in front of people, talking about a subject, filled me with dread. Coupled with a monumental hangover, and dodgy guts, this was always going to be more interesting. The theme was humour in genre fiction, and fighting against imposter syndrome, I got stuck in. I loved it. It helped knowing that Adam Millard was on it too, and that Mister Feeney and Justin were in the audience. I quickly got into it, and the time flew by, which is always a good indicator that things went okay. I followed this up with another panel later in the day, by which time I had relaxed sufficiently, and was able to give my thoughts on dystopias. Which is nice. 

6 - The Spark, Enter Shikari - September

I got into Enter Shikari just after they had released A FLASH FLOOD OF COLOUR, a few years back. They are probably my favourite band at the moment, their style is one that you can't really pigeonhole, and their live shows are un-fucking-believable. Problem is, like any band I love, I look forward to their new albums with a twinge of trepidation. THE MINDSWEEP came out a few years back, and although it was okay, it wasn't on par with their previous work, so when The Spark was announced and the singles began to come out, I was a little worried. I needn't have been. The album is an absolute corker, narrowly behind COMMON DREADS, as the best thing they've ever made. I even managed to meet them just after the album was released, and then Justin and I saw them live in Cardiff in November, and they were utterly amazing. Easily my favourite album of the year.

 5 - Fifth Wedding Anniversary - December

Hey! This meant a lot to me. So, I love planning stuff, our wedding was probably the biggest thing, but last year, when we were working out what to do for our fifth anniversary, we decided to kinda recreate the weekend. So we booked the room we stayed in, at the Queensbury hotel in Bath, we went for a massage and spa, as we did the day before we got married, we even managed to get a cup of tea and a cake in the wedding venue, the Assembly Rooms. We then popped into town for a few drinks, and had dinner at Raphaels, where we met up with some friends and family the night before we got married. It was a really cool day, and something that will live in my mind forever. 
4 - Saboteur Awards - May

Let's be honest, barring a miracle, my writing is not going to get me fame and fortune, it's not what I do it for. But, when I got an email informing me that my zombie short story collection, CHUMP, had been nominated for a Saboteur Award, I was pretty surprised. Yes, it's not an award which most have heard of, me included, but it mattered. Not because I thought it would win, there was no chance of that, it's just to get some recognition. I put everything into my writing, not just the actual physical typing of words, sentences and stories, but in creating books which are a little different to what is out there. To be able to go down to London with Debbie, have a night out and spend some time together was what made this something to remember. Writing is a very insular thing, so to have something of mine nominated for an award, was really cool.

3 - The Last Jedi - December

Zombies aside, Star Wars is probably one of my favourite things in the entire world ever. I grew up watching the original trilogy, and though the prequels were pretty poor, when the new films were announced, I was looking forward to them. The Last Jedi, a few iffy bits aside, is now my second favourite Star Wars film out there. I absolutely love Kylo Ren as a bad guy, think he is far more menacing that any of the other bad dudes, Vader included, and this film exceeded even my lofty expectations. The second viewing really helped solidify its status to me, and quite frankly, I couldn't give a flying fuck what some people have been saying about it. Everyone has their own opinion, and mine is that this film does far more good than bad, it gives the franchise a new hope for the future.

2 - Prophets of Rage, Brixton Academy, London - June

I go to a fair amount of gigs, probably not as many this year as before, but the ones I went to? Fucking hell... None better than a June night in London seeing this 'supergroup', formed from members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. When they formed last year, I told Justin that if they ever came to the UK, we were going. Sure enough, they played Download, and then announced this one date in Brixton. Me and Justin were a few rows from the front, and they basically performed a greatest hits collection of each band. They also did a special acoustic version of Like A Stone, in tribute to the late Chris Cornell. I have never moshed so hard, shouted so much, or been squashed between so many people as I was that night. As me and Justin got back to the hotel, clothes drenched in sweat, voices hoarse, we both agreed that it would be nigh on impossible for any band to top that. A little bonus that night, was meeting up with the ever-cool Kit Power.

1 - Turning 40 - March

I've wanted to go to America for as long as I can remember, problem is that Debbie is not the biggest fan of flying, especially long flights. But, for my 40th, I knew that there was only one place I wanted to go. We went to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, and some terse moments aside, it is a holiday after all, we spent nigh on a fortnight doing so many cool things, that I have to pinch myself sometimes when I look back on it. We saw our first ever NHL match, went to Universal Studios, yomped up to the Griffith Observatory as day turned to night, and animals were howling in the dark. We went shooting, ziplined down Fremont Street in Vegas, I even managed to get to the top table in poker at the MGM, despite getting ridiculous nosebleeds. I drove us from LA to Vegas in a Dodge Challenger, one of my all time favourite cars, we went to Alcatraz, went on a streetcar, the list goes on. It was everything I thought it would be, and so much more. Even Debbie, who was not looking forward to Vegas, would go back tomorrow if finances allowed it. I'm not one to let age define me, I just do what I feel like doing at the moment in time, but when you reach these milestones, especially hitting a new decade, you do inevitably look back, and cast a nervous eye forward. I think of the person I am today, and what I used to be, and it's true, age does mellow you. I'm not as angry as I used to be, and my impulsive nature, though still there, can be kerbed better. I have no idea how much more time I have on this rock, but I am going to make the most of it, regardless.

So there you go, 2017 in a nutshell. There are so many other things that happened too, track days, moving to a four day working week, all of which were memorable, or will help me in the future. Personally, I would have liked to have released more books this year, ending up with Trapped Within, and some short stories. But I'm not going to stress it. In 2016 I released four books, this year none, it's how it goes. Next year I am looking to release four books, all completely different from the other, and I hope that, should you pick one up, you'll enjoy it, as much as I loved putting it together.

Goodbye 2017, and I hope you all have a wonderful 2018, see you on the other side.


Monday, 30 October 2017


Woah, what a mental year 2017 has been so far. Most of it has disappeared already and we're heading into the best part, winter, and it feels like I've not managed to get much done. Yes, I was away for a couple of weeks to celebrate my 40th, and another fortnight in India for work, but I don't feel as though I've been as productive as I wanted to be.

It's been just over a year since I left the SHC, and my aim then was to focus on getting some of my own work done and out there. I have two books that I finished, but are nowhere near ready, and to cap it all off, I started one in January, only to put it on the back burner. Amongst all of that, was TRAPPED WITHIN. I've been blown away by the support of it, and even now it continues to simmer away, I'll be releasing some information on how much it's made for charity at the end of the year.

One thing is for certain, I've been able to knock out some short stories, some of which have appeared in a few anthologies already, and a couple more before the year is out. This includes, SOLID FOUNDATIONS, my first foray into the extreme sub-genre, which is in the VS:EXTREME anthology being published by Shadow Work Publishing. My wife usually reads my stories, but she has steered well clear of this, and for good reason, it is disgusting. Secondly, my story, GLASSJAW, is in Adam Howe's, WRESTLE MANIACS anthology. Writers often say they have favourite stories of their own, and this is probably mine. Really looking forward to getting that out there.

Went to Birmingham Horror Con on the weekend, and was excellent to meet up with loads of people from the world of Facebook. Some for the first time, others for the umpteenth. It is these sort of events that show what an excellent little community exists in the UK, and enjoyed catching up with people, and making some new acquaintances. I always judge a convention a success by two measures. The first is by hitting a monetary target, which I did in the first few hours, which took the pressure off. The second is if I manage to sell a copy of CELEBRITY CULTURE, my bizarro novella. It's a tricky one to sell most days, even more so at a horror convention.

Honestly, I can't see myself doing too many of these next year. For one, they tend to be over two days, which is one day too many. The Sunday tends to be pretty slow, and not really worth the effort. Unless anything crops up which I can't say no to, then I'm going to stash myself away and work on the projects I have lined up. One thing is for definite, the next CLASS FOUR book will be out next year. Anything beyond that will depend on time. I have an idea for a thriller, of all things, called THREE RINGS, which is bubbling away at the moment. I reckon I'll start that up when I've done some more zombies, as the second CLASS FOUR book is long overdue.

This year has showed me two things, one that I still need to focus solely on my own work, for the moment at least. I'm not going to be playing publisher for other people any time soon. That side of things does not interest me at the moment, plus, the amount of time needed to get someone else's work ready to publish takes time away from what I want to do.

The other is that I love putting books together, and as the Kindle copies sell infinitely more than the physical ones, I'm going to approach this process a little differently. Starting with CANNIBAL NUNS FROM OUTER SPACE! (CNfOS), the physical books are going to be a kinda deluxe item. Expect colour interiors, hardback finishes, less adverts for my previous stuff, and more irreverence. The whole idea with CNfOS is that it's a straight-to-DVD B-Movie, so it has fake movie trailers, here's a tiny little corner of one...

It has deleted scenes, four alternate endings and a Director's commentary. It's going to be put together so that those precious few people that want to buy the actual book, get something which I've put my heart and soul into. The same gubbins will be in the Kindle version too, but it will lack the gravitas that holding that physical copy will have.

Let's face it, CNfOS is not going to be a literary masterpiece, it is purely there to entertain. It's silly, OTT and anyone approaching it with anything other than this mindset, is going to be disappointed. It is though, going to be the culmination of a lot of hard work, and the point at which I start to be able to turn all of the ideas I get for my books, into reality. I envisage it being ready for the end of February/beginning of March next year, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

That's it for now, I'm hoping to get all the bits and pieces for CNfOS done soon, the brief for the cover art is being drawn up this week, the artist is lined up. 2017 may have been low on releases, but I'm going to make up for it in 2018, of that you can be certain.



Saturday, 22 July 2017

Words of the Dead - Open Submission Call

George A. Romero was an inspiration to many people, and the Godfather of the modern zombie sub-genre. As a tribute to him, and his work, we’re putting together a charity anthology, provisionally called WORDS OF THE DEAD, to honour the man who scared us witless when we were younger and inspired us when we got older. The guidelines are:

- We’re looking for zombie stories only.

- Stories must be either set within the films, or based on the canon he created. So, no runners, but remember that Romero used tool-wielding zombies in Night/Dawn/Day and Land, and the vampire/un-dead crossover in the comic series Empire of the Dead.

- One simple rule: as long as he used it, so can you. Show us something different from the films, or wow us with an original story set within one of the time frames or the modern day.

- Maximum word count of 6k; standard manuscript formatting.

- You’ll get a digital and physical contributor’s copy as a thank you.

- This will be published through EyeCue Productions, with Duncan P. Bradshaw, David Owain Hughes, and Jonathan Edward Ondrashek as editors.

- No reprints, please. We’re looking for new stories, keen for fresh bodies to feast on.

- ALL proceeds will be going to charity; we’re working towards getting that sorted at the moment.

- Rights are your own, but we respectfully ask for a six-month period of exclusivity to the anthology from the release date (to be determined).

- Deadline: 31st December, 2017.

Send your submission or questions to:

We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

David, Duncan and Jonathan 

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.