DAVID MOODY first published HATER in 2006, and without an agent, sold the film rights for the novel to Mark Johnson (producer, Breaking Bad) and Guillermo Del Toro (director, The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth). His seminal zombie novel AUTUMN was made into an (admittedly terrible) movie starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine. Moody has an unhealthy fascination with the end of the world and likes to write books about ordinary folks going through absolute hell. With the publication of more HATER and AUTUMN novels, Moody has furthered his reputation as a writer of suspense-laced SF/horror, and “farther out” genre books of all description. Find out more about his work at www.davidmoody.net and www.infectedbooks.co.uk.
David Moody has an unhealthy fascination with the end of the world. ‘People tend to just float along on the day-to-day and assume everything’s always going to stay the same,’ he says, ‘but that’s not the case. Sooner or later something’s going to happen to screw everything up. Whether it’s another plague epidemic, an asteroid hitting the planet, a despot kicking off a world war, climate change or the meltdown of the global economy, something’s going to get us eventually!’
Moody grew up on a diet of horror movies and post-apocalyptic fiction. After reading John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, and watching the original Night of the Living Dead in the middle of the night during an epic thunderstorm, he was hooked. ‘It was the power of those stories which really got to me, the way that events outside the control of any authority might one day impact on absolutely everyone.’
After leaving school, he ended up working in a high street bank (enough to make anyone contemplate Armageddon on a regular basis). Unfulfilled, Moody decided his escape would be to make the kind of films he spent so much time watching. Unfortunately, with no relevant training or expertise, it was never going to be easy. So he looked for an alternative route and found one. ‘I’d always enjoyed writing, and I knew I could string words together and make them entertaining, so putting the stories I’d wanted to tell on screen into novel form was a logical solution.’
Within six months he’d written Straight to You which was published by a small UK publisher. Sales figures were microscopic, but Moody immediately started work on several other books.
The unexpected sudden arrival of a family and all the associated trappings (no time, no money, bills to pay etc) kept Moody away from writing for a while. By the time his next book, Autumn, was finished, the Internet had begun to change the way information and media was being shared and he saw an opportunity. ‘I figured I had two choices,’ he explains. ‘I could either try and sell the novel to a publisher and hope for more success than last time, or I could resign myself to the fact I probably wasn’t going to sell thousands of books and make loads of money, and do something different instead. I decided to give the book away and used it to build up a readership.’ Back in those days, of course, this was an unusual approach.
Autumn became an on-line phenomenon, racking up more than half a million downloads in no time at all, and spawning a series of sequels. In 2005 Moody opened Infected Books – his own publishing house through which he independently published his books as paperbacks and ebooks. ‘I used to hate the term self-published – it conjures up images of awful books which really shouldn’t be published. The reality is that lots of authors who could get their books ‘traditionally’ released, choose to retain control and publish their books themselves. The availability of Print on Demand technology and the increasing popularity of ebooks and audiobooks makes it possible for any writer to get their work onto the shelves of bookstores and online retailers on their own.’
Moody went on to sell tens of thousands of his ‘Infected Books’. He published a new novel, Hater, in July 2006 and things took an incredible turn. Within a few weeks of its release he’d had contact from a major US film production company who were interested in acquiring the movie rights. A deal was done and the rights were sold to Guillermo del Toro (director of The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) and producer Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul). Within months of the Hater deal, the film rights to the first Autumn novel were sold to Renegade Motion Pictures in Canada. Their film, starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine, is available on DVD around the world.
In November 2007, Moody sold Hater and its two planned sequels to Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St Martin’s Press in the US. Subsidiary rights were subsequently sold to the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Russia and many other countries. In the summer of 2008, Thomas Dunne Books acquired the Autumn series and Moody mothballed Infected Books.
‘I’d been leading a bizarre double-life for years,’ he says. ‘I’d literally had Hollywood producers holding on the phone while I’d been standing in the living room trying to get the kids to bed and stop the dog barking! The movie and book deals gave me an incredible opportunity to get my books out to a vastly increased audience with the support of some of the most important publishers and filmmakers working in the fields of horror, fantasy and science-fiction today.’
But he couldn’t shake the independent option and in July 2012, with his immediate contractual obligations complete, Moody returned to his roots, publishing a new edition of an earlier novel – Trust – through Infected Books. ‘I’ve been fortunate to have been published traditionally in a number of different countries, and I’ve sold more books than I ever dared dream. But I still get asked constantly about my self-publishing days, and I’ve often found myself wondering what would happen if I did it again today. The marketplace has changed so dramatically over the years and has grown so much… I thought it was time for an experiment!’
Ten years later, that experiment continues. The second wave of Infected Books has surpassed the first. Highlights have included Isolation – a grim little thriller that topped the Amazon charts, and Year of the Zombie – a year long project that saw a host of the world’s greatest zombie authors release a new novella every month.
Moody is currently working on a number of book and film projects, for both mainstream and independent release. He’s returned to the worlds of both Hater and Autumn with new trilogies of novels. And to bring it all full circle, an announcement about the long-gestating film adaptation of Hater is expected to be made very soon.
Author of the AUTUMN and HATER novels. AUTUMN: DAWN, the first book in the London trilogy - out now