I wrote a post about The Silence as I was about halfway through it. I talked about how it was getting under my skin, and how uncomfortable it was making me feel. It made me realise that’s what horror should do. It should make you feel uncomfortable, to the point where you don’t want to carry on with the story. Don’t get me wrong, the gross out stuff is fun but this touched a nerve I’ve only just started accepting that I have.
I’m glad I stuck The Silence out. It is a book that struck at so many of the fears that I have. There are characters that remind me of people I love. I could get on board with some of their motivations as well and decisions as well
I said in the post I wrote the other day that it felt like this book was written for me, simply because so much of it struck me. I understood the fear the characters had, I felt it as they feared for their lives. I felt the conflict when hard decisions had to be made. I felt their grief, and confusion.
Each time the protagonists were pushed by the events around them it felt like a punch in the gut each time. A few years ago I would have stopped listening (I have the audiobook), but the characters kept me going. I needed to know what happened to them in the end. I was cheering for them, hoping they’d get to safety.
The movie The Ritual (based on Adam Nevill’s book) taught me a lot about horror last year. It gave me a whole new perception of what horror meant. The Silence did ten times more than that. It got under my skin and into my bones.
There is a movie adaptation coming this year, if it’s half as good as this then it’ll be a great movie.
The Malignant Dead by CL Raven is the story of Alex McRae, an Edinburgh plague doctor, and his desire and effort to cure the disease that took so many.
Like the rest of their work The Malignant Dead is a very tightly constructed story. There’s not a lot of fat in it to get choked on. This allows the story to move at a brisk pace that meant I’d find myself surprised at how many pages I’d read in a sitting. Especially as its historic fiction, which isn’t normally my cup of tea. There’s enough detail and references, like words that would have been used back then, that it pulls you into Edinburgh during that time period. It was easy to feel how dirty and dangerous the city was back then.
Something Cat and Lynx do particularly well are characters. The protagonists in this story are people I want to hang out with, and I fell in love a little with the lead female character, Katerin. They felt very real, with real motivations and concerns. Alex McRae’s love for those he holds dear is felt throughout the novel. You feel what he’s going through, whether its his frustrations with those who have the plague or his joy at being with Katerin or his friend James. There are a couple of moments which had me choking up as well. Events in the life of Alex McRae that strike him hard. It is counterbalanced by some good humour as well.
I definitely recommend The Malignant Dead.
This book involves characters from their 2017 novel, The Devils Servants. Although The Devils Servants isn’t a direct sequel I’d recommend reading The Malignant Dead and then The Devils Servants.
Up until recently I’ve rarely seen a horror movie that got under my skin. I say movie because I’ve only started delving into horror novels recently.
Aside from being grossed out by the odd scene here and there I’ve never really felt uncomfortable in a way that I now know horror should do. The first I noticed this was last year when I saw The Ritual. This is a film that was based on the novel by Adam Nevill. When I watched that film in the cinema I remember feeling a long way out of my comfort zone, but I still got through it and really enjoyed the movie (I’m looking forward to reading the book itself soon as well).
This week I’ve started listening to The Silence by Tim Lebbon. Tim Lebbon is a name I keep seeing pop up, and after meeting him at Bristol horror con last year and hearing him on a couple of podcasts (Three Guys With Beards & The Horror Show With Brian Keene) I knew I needed to check out some of his stuff. At the con I brought off him his book After The War, but knowing what a slow reader I was and that The Silence will be released as a movie sometime this year I believe, I wanted to read that one. So I got it on audiobook and although I’m only half way through it, it’s got under my skin. I thought The Ritual had an unsettling affect on me, but The Silence has gone deep. I almost stopped listening to it a quarter of the way through. It is so carefully crafted to trigger the readers own fears, even to the point where it feels like Lebbon’s written it just for me. Some of the elements here feel personal in a way I’ve not felt from a book before. That’s not to say books haven’t had an effect on me, because they have. Hell, a few have had me chocking up while others I’ve been punching them air in triumph and celebration.
As I was listening today I was thinking I’ll be finished it by the time I finished work at 3pm tomorrow, but I had to leave a day between the quarter way point of it and where I got to today, so I might resume it Monday and let the events in it sink in a little.
This book is really getting under my skin, and although it’s making me feel this way that’s what I feel is good horror. For horror to really work it has to make you feel how this is feeling. If I had to give this a rating right now it’ll easily be five stars.
I don’t have any ideas how this book will end, but I’ll be going in headfirst to find out.
This last year has been a tough one. As a family we’ve had a lot of crap thrown our way this year. We’ve lost loved ones, and had issues of health pepper us amongst other difficulties life has a habit of throwing in our paths.
It has been a hard year, it’s not been harder than anyone else’s year. It’s been what it is. We’ve taken each day as it comes and in my opinion that is the best way to take life at times.
These things I won’t go into detail on. They are things that affect my family as well as myself and I don’t think it’s my place to talk in-depth about these events on my public blog.
One moment this year that hit me harder than I thought something of its nature could was the death of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Although now I am really out of date with most music, I was a huge fan of Linkin Park when they first hit the scene. Their first two albums are two of my favourite albums ever, I didn’t even listen to that type of music until they came along. It’s music that speaks to me, but I didn’t realise how important it is to me until Bennington’s death this year. I mourned his death in a way that I haven’t for other public figures. I read a lot of Tom Clancy when I was in my late teens. I was a huge fan of Alan Rickman as well, and although it saddened me when they died it wasn’t like when Chester Bennington died. I immediately binge listened to the Linkin Park albums I had, and blitz their YouTube channel. It was only a month or so ago that I’ve stopped getting a lump in my throat when I hear his vocals. I realised a few weeks after his death that I felt like this because it was the first death of one of my icons. Someone who not only did I look up to and admire, but someone who spoke to me. I didn’t know the death of someone I didn’t know would hit me as hard as Chester Bennington’s death did.
I’ve had highs and lows with writing this year. A few projects I put a lot of time into have crashed and burned pretty badly. In particular I was quite demoralised by a zombie story I thought was going to be something good but it just didn’t pan out how I was expecting it too and it kind of gave me a bit of a confidence hit. I had done a lot of outlining for it, characters had been thought out and developed, but it just didn’t go right. I tried to rewrite it for NaNo, and it’s not bad. I’m happier with it now than I was initially but it’s not how I was expecting it to go. I think I can roll with how it’s changing, I just need to do some re-thinking on it.
Something I have learned is that it doesn’t matter whether I write with a pen and paper or straight into a word processor the words are the same. I wrote a first draft of a story I’ve got a lot of hope for by hand but was writing something else at the same time digitally and realised quickly that it didn’t matter how I wrote something, if I was in the mood to write it all came out the same. With this story in particular I’ve got to change a lot for the second draft. Like the zombie story I mentioned it came out different to how I envisioned it. The biggest problem is I’ve written it from only one point of view, and to tell the story I want to I need to do it from multiple POVs. I don’t think it’ll be difficult, but I want to let it sit for another month or two before I return to it. I’d like to get some more planning done for it as well.
The work with Owen is a little up in the air at the moment but I’m expecting to find out what’s happening early in the new year.
The highest points of this year for me have been getting two stories published. Both through charity anthologies from Burdizzo Books. The first one, The Final Charge was in Sparks: An Electric Anthology in October. The second was my take on The Three French Hens in this years 12 Days of Christmas 2017 Anthology. I am incredibly proud of both of these stories. They were a lot of fun to write and knowing the proceeds from both books go to good causes makes it feel even better than it does. The folks at Burdizzo Books are fantastic people as well, along with the group of writers they have around them.
It’s great to finally have my writing in print and has really fired me up and shown me that it’s not impossible. There is nothing stopping me except myself.
The last item I really want to talk about are a few of the people I’ve met this year. I attended a book launch for Sparks up in Walsall and met the head honcho and editor Matthew Cash as well as a couple of the other contributors. We later had another launch in my home town as Burdizzo Books’ other editor, Em Dehaney, is from Gravesend as well. Both launch parties were fantastic, I did a reading at both, although with the Gravesend one I was hit with a severe cold a few hours before and was incredibly unwell. I thought I was going to pass out during my reading, but it was still an amazing experience.
I also went to a few cons this year. Unfortunately DemonCon down in Maidstone has now come to an end. I was pleased to be at the last one in February, but will miss it. It’s the con were I first me Dan Abnett and his wife Nik, who are lovely people. I went to Birmingham Horror Con around that time as well, that was incredibly fun and I got to see my friends Cat and Lynx Raven again as well as Dave from From The Shadows. I also went to EGX with my buddy Stefan from Stefan’s Daily Gaming. Although I’m not a huge gamer this was a lot of fun as well. It was good seeing some great games and a lot of people who were in their element. Bristol Horror Con was my favourite of the year though. Not only did I see CL Raven and Dave (From The Shadows) again but I also went to a couple of panels. I spent a little time talking to Adam Millard and his wife in the VIP room. Seriously lovely people who were very encouraging of my own work and just fun to talk to. I also got the chance to speak to Tim Lebbon as well. Again, another awesome and encouraging person. I just hope the more of these I go to the more at ease I get speaking to all these fantastic people.
The horror community is really welcoming and seems to have a lot of heart to it. It’s definitely a place I feel at home it.
One night in particular that was both fun and tiring was an all-night ghosts hunt I went on with Boleyn Paranormal down at a True Crime Museum in Hastings. It was a lot of fun, very interesting and I met more awesome people, but I’m not doing another all-nighter. I was shattered for a few days after that. Cat and Lynx Raven were there as well, and they popped back to my home to meet my animal army before they returned to Cardiff. En Route to my house we stopped at the site of the Battle of Hastings. Although not far from my home I can’t recall ever going there and it was quite a surreal experience that I’m glad we took the time to do.
A massive highlight of the year for me was meeting Scott Sigler and AB Kovacs. I’ve been a fan of Sigler’s work for a decade now and when he announced he was coming to Europe, including the UK, it would have taken the zombie apocalypse to have stopped me from getting there. It was a great evening in a pub in London just hanging out with Scott, A and other fans of Sigler’s work (AKA the Junkies). It was good chatting to them both and seeing the love they have for the fans of the work. Both Scott and A have a lot of charisma and energy and clearly love what they do, and it was one of the highlights of the year.
With Scott Sigler
With AB Kovacs
2017 has had a lot of downs, but its had a lot of ups as well. That’s what I’m focusing on, I’m not ignoring the low points, just choosing to look at the positives. Most importantly I appreciate those important people I have in my life. My friends and family mean the world to me and I’m very grateful having them all.
This last week has been great, Sparks An Electric Anthology came out from Burdizzo Books. It’s got my story ‘The Last Charge’ in it, and all of the proceeds go to Resources for Autism. You can find it on Amazon here. Yesterday we had the first of two launch parties, you can see the readings from some of the stories at the Burdizzo Books Facebook page. The second launch party is on the 3rd of November, here’s the details. If it’s half as much fun as yesterday’s then it’ll be a lot of fun.
I’ve been up and down with writing this week. I’ve not got a whole lot of words done but I haven’t done bad. Today I’ve knocked out about two thousand words, despite feeling extremely wiped out.
Life does settle down a little from here on out, I think. I’ll no doubt be off to the cinema one night this week, a NaNoWriMo prep Write-In on Wednesday. This weekend is pretty clear though, I have friends over on Saturday but that’ll be nice and chilled out.
As I wrap this up, I’ll end by asking that everyone please check out Sparks. I’m really proud of this story, and happy to be in this anthology with some fantastic writers.
On Monday Burdizzo Books announced their next charity Anthology ‘Sparks’. Which includes my story ‘The Last Charge’, my first published story. This anthology focuses on stories of horror, sci-fi, fantasy and bizarro with the theme of electricity.
Obviously I am over the moon at finally being published, but even more so that it’s in an anthology that is raising money for a good cause, in this case Resources for Autism, and the awesome people involved in the anthology. From Editors Matthew Cash and Em Dehaney through to the other writers in the collection. There are some really cool people involved and I can’t wait to see what they’ve all written.
Sparks is coming soon, please like their Facebook page and Instagram for updates, I will obviously be posting here when the book is out, but please feel free to follow me on social media, the links are on the right hand side of the screen.
The authors in the collection are: Ash Hartwell, Calum Chalmers, Em Dehaney, Betty Breen, Peter Germany, Lex Jones, Christopher Law, Dani Brown, Matthew Cash, Mark Cassell, Samantha Hill, CH Baum, Pippa Bailey, GH Finn and David Court.
This last week I had a good start to the week. On Sunday I did only write 605 words, but I got 1204 on Monday, Tuesday was 1057. Then it went out of the window a little. Wednesday was only 350, Thursday 426, Friday 265, and yesterday was 476. That’s a total of 4383 words for the week.
I’ve been working on this first draft for thirteen days (not including today) and I’ve written 11123 words of it. I think part of the reason I’ve had a slow up is I’ve almost got to the end of the story. I was aiming/guessing this story to be around 30k and at the moment if I keep writing as I am then I’ll be lucky to get to 20k. I think the reason I’m in this position is that I’ve been sticking to the barest of elements with my outline. I’ve not explored much of the characters, despite having a fair amount of character details for them written down. That I am changing, and I’m getting a better feel for the characters as I’m going. It does mean I’ll have to go back and add to the earlier sections but I’ll cover that on the second draft. I don’t want to stop where I am, and then work through those early chapters now because I do feel I’m getting into the swing of the story. I also think I’ll find it easy enough to flesh out the earlier sections.
I do think I was too stuck on the outline. I have only just let myself loose with this story. The scene I’m writing at the moment isn’t in the outline, and neither are three or four other scenes I’ve got in mind. They’ll fit into the story well, and expand it and I hope will make it a more tense ending. It does mean I’m going to have to do some chopping and changing with the outline’s order but it’s going to make it a stronger story and hopefully more satisfying.
I did submit a story to one of the anthologies I was looking at. I won’t know whether it got in for a few weeks yet. The other anthology, I still have no idea for and I’m not going to try. I’ve not got enough time now before the submission deadline to get a story done.
Last week Owen and I discussed the final tweaks to The Space Watch, or tweak I should say. The one last detail that Owen felt needed changing is a minor point in The Space Watch, and is something that I think will be more relevant when we explore certain elements of this universe more.
I will be making that tweak today, as well as doing a very quick skim through of The Space Watch and then it’ll be off to Beta readers. This story is about five years in the making and has had various drafts and versions of it. I am so very pleased we’ve done all we can and I’m looking forward to seeing what our fantastic beta readers have to say on it.
Once that is done I’m back onto the zombie story. I’d like to get caught up on it, I’m a couple of thousand words behind where I want to be so hopefully I can do a 2k day and get close to being back on track.