Some sad news to share. STEFAN CUSH from THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG died suddenly last week from a heart attack. He was 60. As many of you may remember, TMTCH made a memorable appearance in the first HATER novel. While I was writing the book back in 2006, I was in touch with Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers from the band who’d enjoyed the AUTUMN books. We got chatting and he made an off-hand comment about adding him as a character in a future book. I’d just written the scene in HATER where Danny and Lizzie are at a rock concert and all hell breaks loose when one of the band members starts attacking the others, mid-set. Cut a long story short – the band in the book became TMTCH, and it was Swill who did the attacking, but the rest of the lads were very accommodating and they all made an appearance. I was lucky enough to see the band a few years later, and they were magnificent.
There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about how lucky I am to still be alive after my heart attack last April. Since my illness, I’ve been in contact with many people who’ve either had a heart attack themselves or who’ve lost loved ones. Very sadly, a member of my family passed away unexpectedly last weekend after suffering a massive heart attack. Without wishing to preach, I’d urge everyone to be aware of their own heart health. I know that health services around the world are under unprecedented strain right now, but please do seek advice if you have any concerns. If I’d not received such brilliant treatment from the NHS last April, I doubt I’d be here today.
How’s everyone doing? I hope you’re staying safe and sane during these astonishing days, weeks, and months. As inconsequential as my writing feels at such a tumultuous time, I thought I’d give you a quick update and let you know what I’m up to.
As anyone familiar with my frequent radio silences will know, if I’m not posting on here, it usually means I’m busy writing. My main focus over the last few months has been AUTUMN: DAWN, the first novel in the new AUTUMN trilogy. I’m still on target to have book one wrapped in the next month or so, and I’m planning for a late April release. It’s been so refreshing to have had the space to plan the whole trilogy as a single project beforehand, and I can honestly say the book’s been a joy to write so far. I do have a nagging concern at the back of my mind, though… are people really going to want to read my grim, germ-infected, post-apocalyptic zombie stories after everything we’ve been through? I hope so. You can decide for yourself as I’ll be sharing more details very soon.
Also coming up is the second book in the series I’ve been writing with MARK TUFO and CHRIS PHILBROOK. THE BLEED: RAPTURE hits the shelves and the ears (it’s another AUDIBLE exclusive) on 16 March, and you can pre-order it here. Book two is an absolutely full-on, non-stop ride which sets up the mother of all apocalypses. THE BLEED: ARMAGEDDON will bring the series to an end in September.
Like many other people, the last year was one of huge changes for me personally, and the ramifications of those changes are still unfolding. It’s almost a year since my heart attack now, and I turned 50 last November. Those milestones, combined with the impact of the ongoing pandemic alongside other personal and professional developments, have made me want to review my priorities, ambitions and aspirations.
Almost 7 years ago, I’d had a gutful. I fell out of love with writing in a big way and re-joined the real world to try and re-establish my connection with reality. It’s now time to head back in the opposite direction, with a return to full-time writing looming and a stack of new projects on the horizon.
For now, though, it’s back to AUTUMN: DAWN (big action scene to write tonight – one person corralling about 10,000 dead bodies singlehanded). I will be back with regular news, updates and recommendations in the coming weeks. Until then, I’d like to belatedly wish you a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping 2021 is infinitely better than 2020 was!
Over the years, many people have found their way to my books via the AUTUMN and HATER novels or through the collaborations I’ve worked on with other authors such as THE BLEED and THE FRONT. As a result, it sometimes feels like my standalone novels fall through the cracks. For that reason, I’ve put together a reasonably priced eBook box-set of three already reasonably priced books – STRAIGHT TO YOU, TRUST and STRANGERS.
Hard to believe today is the 10 year anniversary of the mass market release of AUTUMN. It had been around for another 10 years prior to that, of course, first as a very basic free download, then as an independent release through Infected Books. I just happened to be on holiday in New York with the family at the time, and I’ll never forget the buzz of walking into Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue and finding copies on display in the wild (see picture below). It was the beginning of an unforgettable period in my career.
Fast forward a decade, and here I am writing AUTUMN novels again! I thought the series was done and dusted in 2013 with the release of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, but over the last couple of years I found myself thinking more and more about the world of AUTUMN, and I came across a new story I really wanted to tell.
Go back to 2001 when I started sharing AUTUMN online for the first time, and it was a very different world. The Internet was just starting to get its claws into everyday life (and that was part of the reason I started giving the book away for free at the time), but we were nowhere near as reliant on the web and our phones as we are today, and the idea of social media hadn’t yet raised its ugly head. The surviving characters in the first AUTUMN books were isolated from the rest of the world at the exact moment everyone else dropped dead, immediately unable to contact anyone else. No one to ask for help. No one to answer their thousands of questions. Nothing but absolute, unending, suffocating radio silence.
So, how would things be different today? Maybe the last few hours and days before the power dies and the networks fail will be enough time for those desperate survivors to communicate and coordinate? Maybe they’d be able to piece together what was happening from the global population’s dying digital remains?
And there’s another huge difference between the people who survived the AUTUMN epidemic back in 2001 and those who’d make it if the events of the book had taken place in 2020. Zombies! Back in the day, there was an unwritten rule that the people in zombie stories didn’t know what zombies were, but after a couple of decades filled with THE WALKING DEAD and its variations, 28 DAYS LATER, and countless other zombie books, TV series and movies, it seems unlikely that any survivors would now be that naive. They’re going to have more of an idea of what’s going on and how they’re going to have to deal with it, and they certainly wouldn’t be as green as Michael, Carl and the others were in the first scenes of AUTUMN. Maybe that’ll be their undoing, because the living dead in the AUTUMN books certainly don’t play by the same rules as other zombies. It would be wrong to assume and underestimate what they’re capable of…
But I guess the biggest immediate difference between the original series and the new trilogy, is scale. The groups of survivors in the original series were small in number – usually less than 30, hopelessly outnumbered. Not the case for my new characters, who have to deal with the zombie apocalypse in the middle of London. This means there will likely be hundreds of people left alive, but they’ll be surrounded by literally millions of zombies. In the original books you could go for hours without seeing one of the walking dead. This time around, there are hordes of them around every single corner. I’m having a blast writing these new books. The whole trilogy has been scoped out in detail, with the intention of writing and releasing the novels in quick-fire succession during 2021.
So happy birthday, AUTUMN. Here’s to a brand new chapter beginning early next year.
I’m incredibly excited to announce that CRAIG PATON has agreed to design the covers for the new AUTUMN trilogy I’m currently writing. I couldn’t be happier. Craig has produced some iconic covers for me over the years – TRUST, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, STRAIGHT TO YOU and STRANGERS. Recently, he’s had a huge amount of success with KILLTOPIA – a cyberpunk graphic novel he created alongside writer DAVE COOK.
Just a quick reminder that when you sign up for my mailing list, you can download a free eBook sampler of my work. It’s just been updated to include SCRATCH – my novella from the Infected Books 2016 YEAR OF THE ZOMBIE project – as well as ANGEL, my favourite AUTUMN short story, and THE DEAL which is horrible little tale torn from the pages of THE LAST BIG THING.
The pandemic has impacted pretty much every aspect of pretty much everyone’s lives. This has been a spiralling, disorientating year for everyone and I don’t know about you, but I think we’ve still got a long, long, long way to go to get back to anything like a semblance of normality.
I’m really missing live events. I watch films and TV shows now and feel a wave of sadness every time I see a crowd. It’s crazy, isn’t it – who’d have ever thought we’d have to spend so much time apart? I’d love to be part of a mass of people again; the collective anticipation of thousands of fans as their favourite band takes the stage, the tribal roar of the supporters when their team puts in a winning performance, hundreds laughing together at a comedian’s jokes, the shared panic as a handful of strangers race through an abandoned nuclear bunker with a pack of bloodthirsty zombies snapping at their heels…
My friends at THE LAST SURVIVORS have been running hugely popular zombie experiences in Essex for almost a decade, and like so many other groups working in the entertainment and creative industries, their business has been decimated as a result of coronavirus. If you’ve not come across them before, have a read of this article from 2012 when my pal Ryan Fleming was dispatched to try their zombie experience for himself.
With almost all of their 2020 events cancelled, THE LAST SURVIVORS are now taking bookings for 2021. You can find full details on their website. If you’re in the area and fancy spending a couple of hours being scared sh*tless in a terrifying Cold War relic, please sign up. The setting is perfect (see here, here and here), and the event is brilliant (don’t take my word for it – check out the Tripadvisor reviews and the stats below).
In the meantime, the team have produced an online experience to tide you through the pandemic. This ties in to the new story the team will be unveiling next year. It’s about an hour long, £9.95 to play, and a huge amount of fun. Play it like I did – lights off and headphones in – for full effect. Click here for more information.
Hi everyone. I wanted to give you a quick update on my progress with the new AUTUMN novels. They’re coming along nicely, but I’ve had a couple of major interruptions since I announced them earlier this year (namely the onset of a global pandemic swiftly followed by a heart attack), and it’s become clear that I’m not going to make the October release I’d originally scheduled for AUTUMN: DAWN. Apologies.
I’m hoping that AUTUMN: DAWN will now be released in April 2021, with the other books in the new trilogy – INFERNO and EXODUS – following in quick succession. It’s been an absolute blast returning to the world of AUTUMN after nearly a decade away, and though the new books will be very different on a number of levels, the same bleak tone and the overwhelming scale of the apocalypse feels just as it did when I started writing the first book back in 1997. If you’ve not read the original books, you can find a huge amount of information and stacks of free AUTUMN short stories at www.lastoftheliving.net.
Today’s the day that the first book in THE BLEED series finally hits the shelves. It’s been a long time since MARK TUFO and CHRIS PHILBROOK invited me to play in the apocalyptic wonderland they were cooking up, and I’m very pleased to have been asked along for the ride. It’s been a blast so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where our merry (not really) band of characters end up.
This is an apocalypse like no other, and now we get to share it! THE BLEED: RUPTURE is out today.