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.
One of the things I love most about SCREAM is the fact it spends as much time looking back as it does forward: as well as up-to-date news and reviews, the mag always also features articles on classic (and sometimes no so classic) horror movies. This issue has an excellent retrospective article on THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. So, stuck with the new cat, and with little prospect of getting any writing done, I decided a re-watch of RETURN was in order. And as I realised I’d never properly written about it for this site, I decided to put that right too.
When foreman Frank (James Karen) shows new employee Freddy (Thom Mathews) a secret military experiment in a supply warehouse, the two klutzes accidentally release a gas that reanimates corpses into flesh-eating zombies. As the epidemic spreads throughout Louisville, and the creatures satisfy their hunger in gory and outlandish ways, Frank and Freddy fight to survive with the help of their boss (Clu Gulager) and a mysterious mortician (Don Calfa).
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.
Less than a week to go until THE BLEED: RUPTURE is released. Here’s a glimpse into the third and final story strand…
When the grandfathers to the grandfathers were young, the race of gods stepped through time and space, appearing in the North. Fleeing an ancient, world-eating evil they called the Bleed, they came to build anew, in peace. Other than strange hair and eye colors, they appeared similar to normal human beings—but they were taller, stronger, and smarter, and were ripe with powers from their home world. They brought unheard of learning and experience with them; they built their Endless City from one edge of the North to the other, with its mile-high walls and towers of stone, steel and wood soaring above that. They ruled the world from afar, without war, or even effort, ever watchful for the signs of the Bleed, their unending, ever-hungry foe.
They took husbands and wives and left thousands of half-breed children behind when the enemy they fled bled through the fabric of the worlds. Deep in their city, servants of the evil ate at their new home, one bloody soul at a time. They made their stand at the edge of the world, almost a score ago, and not one god has been seen since.
A week today will see THE BLEED: RUPTURE hitting the shelves as an AUDIBLE EXCLUSIVE as well as a paperback and ebook. I have two BLEED-related things to share with you today. First, some very kind words about book one from my good friend, CRAIG DILOUIE:
“From three of apocalyptic fiction’s most innovative authors, THE BLEED series pits humanity against an infectious, all-consuming evil in stories packed with great characters, interesting ideas, and plenty of good end-of-the-world fun.”
And here for your pleasure, because you can’t have too much of a bleeding good thing, is the cover for book 2. RAPTURE is due in March 2021.
When the lockdown began, I promised visitors to this site more regular updates. Things started well, and I gave away a load of audiobooks and ebooks and recommended a decent short film. And then it all came to an abrupt halt. I wanted to write a brief post to explain my sudden absence, and to thank the people who’ve helped me through it.
Two weeks ago today, I had a heart attack.
It came out of the blue. My dad suffered years of heart-related problems at the end of his life, and I was determined my life would take a different route. I did everything I should – I sorted out my diet to reduce my cholesterol and lost weight, I exercised several times a week, I took steps to sort out my high blood pressure… At 8:00am on Tuesday 14 April, I can honestly say I felt in better shape than I ever had. Ten minutes later, though, it was a very different story.
I’ll cut to the chase. My family are incredible, and our NHS is second-to-none. Within an hour or so of suffering the attack, I was in hospital and undergoing treatment. Within three hours I was sitting up in bed in the coronary care unit of the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, feeling well enough to be able to send my wife and kids the picture below.
I’m doing well now, all things considered. Because of the quick response time, there’s barely any damage to my heart, and I’m hopeful that within a few months I’ll be back to normal (whatever normal is these days). But there’s no question that this has been a life-changing experience. I was very fortunate, but when something like this happens, it’s easy to think ‘what if…?’. Things could have been very, very different. The outcome could have been much, much, much worse.
So I just wanted to let you know I’m still around and I’ll be back at work soon. The real purpose of this post, however, is to publicly thank some folks. Firstly, to my wonderful wife Lisa and my amazing kids. I’m a very lucky man. I put you all through hell that morning, and I’m sorry. Thank you from the bottom of my (now improved) heart for your love and support. I pride myself on usually being able to string a few words together, but I could never express how much I love you all. Also, to my extended family and friends – I will never forget the outpouring of emotion and the deluge of good wishes I’ve had from so many folks. It’s enough to bring a tear to this grumpy old bugger’s eye. Actually, who the hell am I kidding? I’ve been reduced to tears on many occasions since my ‘mishap’ (as my youngest daughter Zoe has labelled it).
I also want to pay tribute to everyone at the QE hospital, and to the NHS as a whole. I received incredible care, delivered at astonishing speed. In normal circumstances that would be remarkable enough, but I had a heart attack at the peak of the most serious and wide-reaching health crisis in living memory. I am simply in awe of the NHS and will be forever grateful for the treatment I received.
So there you go. It’s been a tricky couple of weeks. If my 2020 was a novel, no one would publish it because it would be too far-fetched! In all seriousness, though, wherever you are, please give your loved ones a hug and also show your appreciation for the many thousands of healthcare workers keeping us all safe and well at this unprecedented time.
And I still have a few codes for free audiobooks – TRUST, STRAIGHT TO YOU, THE COST OF LIVING and STRANGERS. Fill in this form if you want one. There aren’t too many left, so be quick. I’ll remove the form from this post when they’re all gone.
I’ll admit, when I first started writing the original AUTUMN novel back in 1996 (I think), I wasn’t too bothered about trying to work out what caused the horrific infection that wiped out most of the human race (then made millions of them them get up again). As I’ve always said, the books are more about the human stories that followed than anything else. But by the time I got to AUTUMN: PURIFICATION in 2004, I’d spent quite a bit of time thinking about what might have happened. You sort of get a hint of an explanation in that book.
It was much, much later when I decided to come clean and write about the chain of events that triggered the AUTUMN apocalypse. The story – JOE AND ME – was written, but as far as I was concerned the AUTUMN series was done and dusted and I had no immediate plans to publish it. Enter my friend MICHAEL WILSON of THIS IS HORROR. Michael asked me to write the first THIS IS HORROR chapbook, and I saw an opportunity to release JOE AND ME into the wild. I was thrilled with the reception the story received, and that inspired me to re-write and expand the companion collection, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION. JOE AND ME also features in that book.
I’ve thought a lot about JOE AND ME since the coronavirus pandemic began (you’ll understand why if you read it), and I decided to share it again. I thought the best way of doing that was to link to the episode of the THIS IS HORROR podcast when I narrated an audiobook version. Forgive my rough around the edges Brummie delivery – I’m very much an amateur when it comes to audio – but here it is. I hope you enjoy it.
I hope you and your loved ones are well wherever you are. I’m in lockdown at home with the family and am trying to write my way through the pandemic. My next project is to start the first book in the new AUTUMN trilogy, but inspiration for that is proving elusive given what’s going on right now.
We all need a distraction in times like this, so I have one for you. It’s been a while since I recommended a movie here, and I’m going to put that right today. It’s a classic short film which, at the moment, is available in its entirety on YouTube, so this post is really just to point you in the right direction.
A little bit of background to begin with. My office window looks out onto our back garden, and one feature in particular. My wife Lisa has – how can I put this? – an eclectic taste in outdoor ornaments, and her prize possession is a genuine K6 telephone box. It was lovingly restored and now takes pride of place in the garden. I’ve joked with a few folks about using it as an isolation pod during lockdown, and the thought of being trapped in the phone box reminded me of the 1972 Spanish movie, LA CABINA (THE PHONE BOX).
If you’re as old as me and remember the horror double bills which used to be shown on Saturday nights on the BBC in the 1980s, you might remember seeing this one. It starts as a gentle, almost comedic short about a man trapped in a box, but over the course of its 30-odd minute duration, the tone shifts completely.
LA CABINA is highly recommended, even in these worrying times when we’re all feeling as isolated as the man in the box. Take care, stay safe, and enjoy the film.