Welcome to Essex

Here’s a film recommendation I’ve waited a long time to share. Before I tell you why you should see WELCOME TO ESSEX, let’s wind the clock back a few years…

I’ve mentioned Ryan J. Fleming on this site several times previously. As well as being a connoisseur of all things post-apocalyptic (a number of the film releases I’ve written about here have been direct recommendations from Ryan), he’s also a roving reporter, a long-time member of MOODY’S SURVIVORS, and he even had a starring role as a featured zombie in AUTUMN: AFTERMATH. We can now add film director to that list.

It feels like decades, but it can only have been a few years ago when Ryan told me he was making a film. In this business it’s often hard to have a conversation with anyone who isn’t desperate to tell you they’re writing a book, editing an anthology, working on a screenplay, or directing their first movie. Much of the time these comments are just pipe-dreams or wishful thinking. In Ryan’s case, however, it happened to be true.

Over the following years, he told me about assembling a crowd of more than a thousand zombie extras for a scene in Brentwood High Street, about naming a character (actually a character’s husband) after me (no doubt as payback for AFTERMATH), and about Russell Brand appearing in the film. In 2013 (I think), attendees at the HORROR IN THE EAST convention in Lowestoft actually saw some footage, and we realised he wasn’t just making it all up.

Fast-forward five years, and Ryan’s debut feature – WELCOME TO ESSEX is finally out on DVD. I’ve had the pleasure of watching it, and I can tell you it was definitely worth the wait. I’m not going to review it here, I’m just going to ask you to support Ryan and his team and pick up a copy. Here’s the customary synopsis and trailer:

Overnight, the United Kingdom was consumed by an epidemic of terrifying proportions. The majority of the population were killed in a matter of hours as millions of recently-dead people returned to life and began to attack and kill the living. The disaster spread so rapidly that the government had no time to control the situation. The order to evacuate England was given. But it was too late. Now, the following day, a small group of mismatched survivors find themselves trapped in the famous town of Brentwood, hunted by large hordes of fast-moving corpses. They must learn to work together and reach the last-known point of rescue, Southend-on-Sea, or face certain death. Or worse.

What I love most about WELCOME TO ESSEX is the fact that it exists. The fact that a gent who passionately loves the post-apocalyptic genre can have the desire to make a movie, and the determination and conviction to make it happen. And on such a scale… this film looks the business and everything Ryan promised eventually appeared on screen, including a thousand zombie extras and Russell Brand. Okay, so it’s not the most original horror movie you’ll see this year, but it’s funny (often very, very funny), technically impressive, and filled with more passion and heart than a hundred Hollywood blockbusters combined. Congratulations to Ryan, the team at Smoking Monkey Productions, and anyone involved in the film in any way, shape or form.

WELCOME TO ESSEX. Buy it. Watch it.

Last of the Living Competition Winner

Aaron Rayner and I pictured at (I think) the AUTUMN movie premier at the first Grimmfest, October 2009

Aaron Rayner and I pictured at (I think) the AUTUMN movie premier at the first Grimmfest, October 2009

I’m very pleased to announce that the winner of the LAST OF THE LIVING competition is the one and only Aaron Rayner. Aaron’s name was selected randomly from all the folks who’d ordered the new book over the last few weeks. Thanks to everyone who did.

I’m really pleased that Aaron won. Some of you will recognise the name (he’s one of Moody’s Survivors). He’s also one of the most vocal supporters of my work and has attended events in places as far apart as Manchester, Lowestoft, Leicester and London over the years. He’s a good man with a lovely family. Congratulations, Aaron, and thanks!

You can still order signed copies of LAST OF THE LIVING (though initial stocks are running frighteningly low). Head over to www.infectedbooks.co.uk to find out more.

Guest post: It’s Behind You! Jonathan Wood talks ALIEN and the legacy of HR Giger

This week I’m pleased to present a very timely guest post from another of Moody’s Survivors, Jonathan Wood, who talks about one of his (and my) favourite films – Ridley Scott’s seminal 1979 classic, ALIEN. I’m sure there are very few people who’ve yet to see the film, but if you’re one of them, please be warned: spoilers ahead.

alien_movie_posterThe death of H R Giger earlier this month saddened me. A true genius and visionary, his name became synonymous with biomechanics – fusion of the human body and machinery. A futuristic surrealist, it wasn’t until around 1979 that Giger came to the world’s attention for his work on ALIEN. Director Ridley Scott took the theme of a haunted house in space and created a masterpiece of modern horror/sci-fi, thanks in no small part to Giger’s unforgettable biomechanoid xenomorph.

ALIEN was a movie that terrified me as a teenager. And when I say terrified, I really do mean it. After watching the film I think I slept with the light on for about three or four days after, such was the profound effect it had on me. ALIEN has also influenced my own work with it’s principal themes of claustrophobia, surprise, and the steady build up of terror in a story which is all the more terrifying for what we don’t see.

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Scottish Serial Killers that Shocked the World

I hope you all know MOODY’S SURVIVORS by now? They’re a great group of like-minded (I think!) Facebook folk who met online (and increasingly offline) through talking about my books. I love these guys. Seriously. They’re endlessly supportive, and there’s a huge amount of talent within their ranks. You can become a Survivor yourself – just click hereOver the coming weeks and months, I’m going to be hosting a series of guest posts written by members of the Survivors about all manner of subjects. First up today we have John Milton (follow him on Twitter @JohnMiltonAE) and, as you can see, his chosen subject is Scottish serial killers. Over to John…

image001Scotland. A country believed to be first populated by man approximately 13,000 years ago, with prehistoric settlements dating back around 10,000 years still in existence. A country that has fought the Romans, causing them to build Hadrian’s Wall. A country that warred with the invading Vikings. A country whose clans clashed with each other for centuries. A country that has produced the inventor of the television and telephone. The Tourist Board in Scotland would be happy to perpetuate the stereotype of Scotland full of wild mountains, bagpipes playing, ruined castles and hospitable ginger natives wearing kilts who are fiercely proud of their heritage. Although much of that description is factual, there is a far darker side to the country that you won’t see advertised…

Various shocking monikers have been given to the country and its cities, such as “The most violent nation in the developed world” and Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, has been called “The Murder Capital of Western Europe”.  These are not simply headlines for the tabloids; the titles are based on figures provided by the European Commission and United Nations; and I would suggest that this is not a new phenomenon.

Within the horror genre, fictional mass murderers are popular: Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Hannibal Lecter, Michael Myers, and TV’s very own Dexter. However, many of these characters have at least some of their backstory rooted in fact: Ed Gein, H.H.Holmes, John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy are all truly terrifying examples of real-life horror. However, all of the names I have mentioned originate from the United States, a country with a population currently more than 311 million. Scotland, with a population of approximately 5 million, which is roughly 2.5 million less than the city of London, seems to produce a disproportionate amount of notorious serial killers…

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Power to the People

An odd title for a post, but I think it’ll make sense in the end. Bear with me. And bear with me also because this is likely to be a longer and more personal ramble than usual (though there’ll be a book-related announcement later, so it’s worth sticking with me to the bitter end).

I’ve been relatively quiet (for me) recently, and I’ve already explained why – I’m working on a number of different projects which I hope will see the light of day over the next year or so. I talked about a few of them recently.

When you’re not spending as much time online talking to people as you’d like, it’s easy to lose a little focus and to start to doubt anyone is still listening. I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about my career – how far I’ve come, how far I want to go, and how I intend on getting there. There’s no great plan or roadmap and there never has been. I just do what feels right at the time, and I hope people like it. It’s those people I want to talk about today. As you’re reading this, that means you!

A few weekends back I had a couple of great experiences which helped put a lot of things in perspective. The first took place over three nights in Wolverhampton. If I mention the band Marillion, I generally expect one of two usual reactions: many folk in the UK usually say ‘ah yes, Kayleigh!’, and many folk outside the UK usually say ‘What? Who?’

For those who don’t know, Marillion are a unique band who, for more than twenty-five years, have produced some exceptional music. I got into them in the early 1990’s and have slavishly lapped up every release as well as seeing them live almost thirty times. They might not be to your tastes, but give them a whirl. You can take a crash course here (click here if the widget below’s not working or, if you’re new to the band, visit this page and get a free CD sent your way):



But you’re here to read about my books and films etc. So why am I telling you about my musical tastes? Click the link and I’ll explain (and don’t forget that book announcement…)

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The Many Moods of David Moody

You know sometimes when it gets close to your birthday and you start to get the feeling someone’s planning something for you? I felt like that last November. As my birthday approached, my wife seemed to be more and more on edge, checking with me every day to see if a particular parcel had arrived from America while she was out at work. It eventually did arrive – the day before my birthday – and was immediately snatched from my hands by one of my daughters.

I didn’t think a lot of it until the next day, when I received the most amazing birthday present I’ve ever been given.

I was presented with a book. Not just any book, you understand – this was a true one-off. Until now there was only one copy in existence, and for good reason. The book (with the snappy title The Many Moods of David Moody) contained more than twenty short stories about me on my birthday, written by various members of ‘Moody’s Survivors‘. Me going insane in space as a result of my love of Apple products (thanks to Joe McKinney), me inadvertently triggering the Day of the Triffids (courtesy of Paul Huggins), and several stories involving strippers, chocolate, 80’s pop music, rugby and Twilight – some including all of the above. Needless to say, you won’t be able to buy this book in the shops anytime soon!

The purpose of this long delayed post is two-fold. Firstly, and most importantly, it’s another very public thank you to everyone involved with the production of the book, in particular Shawn Riddle who coordinated the project and who managed to extract a huge amount of personal information (very easily, I might add) from my wife, Lisa. Secondly – and this is the reason for the delay – I wanted to let all the contributors know that copies of the book are finally on their way out to you. They were shipped from America, held up over Christmas, and held up again in customs, but they’re finally about to be posted out.

Thanks again to everyone involved: Shawn Riddle, Steven Caunt, Dave Lightfoot, Charlie Morgan, Rebecca Besser, Joe McKinney, Emma Bunn, Jeremy L Mahan, Timothy W Long, Chip Fehd, Suzanne Robb, Theresa Derwin, J Rodimus Fowler, Jami Sroka, Clare Allington, Paul S Huggins, David Naughton-Shires, Ryan J Fleming, Matt Nord, Rich Hawkins, Jimi Belshaw, Shaun T Page, Lyle Perez-Tinics, and Lisa and Becca Moody.

Best birthday present ever.

The Autumn artists – David Naughton-Shires

Earlier this week I showed you the sights of post-apocalyptic Lowestoft thanks to the artwork of David Naughton-Shires. Many of you will know that David also provided a number of pieces of art for www.lastoftheliving.net. I thought it was about time I featured him here and talked a little more about his work.

When the call for Autumn artwork first went out in Summer 2010, David was one of the first to respond. Within days he’d sent me illustrations for Brigid Culthorpe and Jacob Flynn, and even more art soon followed: Karen Chase, Jim Harper and my personal favourite, Office Politics (see below). David’s distinctive style is quite unlike the approaches taken by the other contributors to the site, and I think the mix of approaches works well.

Office Politics - illustration by David Naughton-Shires www.knightwatchpress.info

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Location, location, location

You’ve heard me talking about Lowestoft a lot recently. Ryan Fleming, one of Moody’s Survivors, visited the town after reading THEM OR US and, armed with the book, a local, and a tourist’s guide of the area (written by me), he took photographs of some key locations. The very talented David Naughton-Shires (who you’ve met before if you’ve been a regular visitor here, and who you’ll be meeting again very shortly) then worked a little of his post-apocalyptic magic on the pics. I used them to illustrate my presentation last week, and I thought it would be good to share some of them here. Welcome to Lowestoft!

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THEM OR US giveaway

Time for a quick competition I think! Up for grabs is the following:

One first prize consisting of:

  • the entire HATER trilogy – either UK hardcovers, US hardcovers or US advance copies (or a mix of all three if you’re so inclined)
  • a HATER T-shirt and mousemat
  • a small piece of the original HATER blood-splatter (the cover was a composite of several individual ‘splatters’ – click here for the story of the original cover for those who don’t remember)
And three runners-up prizes of signed copies of THEM OR US (you choose the format – US or UK hardcover or UK paperback).
To stand a chance of winning, just do one or more of the following before midday (UK time) on Thursday 17th November (you’ll get an entry for each you do). UPDATE – DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MIDDAY FRIDAY 18th.
And if you’re feeling really brave, you could take a leaf out of the Moody’s Survivors book. Remember this photo of me from SFX magazine? Recreate the pose like the fine people at the bottom of this post, and you’ll get an extra ten entries into the draw if you use it as your Facebook/Twitter profile picture between now and the 17th.

If you’re already a Twitter follower or Facebook fan, just tweet/post about the book and remember to include the appropriate tag.

Good luck! Remember – as always – the competition is open worldwide, and my decision is final. Only one tweet and one Facebook post per person please. The winners will be chosen at random and announced by Saturday 19th November.

(With special thanks to Shawn Riddle, Paul Huggins, Dave Lightfoot, Charlie Morgan, Theresa Derwin, Nathan Barnes, Jimi Belshaw, Ryan J. Fleming and David Naughton-Shires).

Soul Survivors – Hometown Tales (Volume One)

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned Moody’s Survivors: the incredible group of writers, artists, and associated crazy people who gather together on Facebook to talk about writing books, watching films, and pretty much anything else you could imagine. They’re a great group of folks, and I’m honoured that they continue to meet together under my name.

And those same Survivors have now gone and done something pretty incredible: they’ve released their own anthology, and a damn fine read it is too! Thirteen very different visions of the end of the world, with one thing in common – they’re all told from the perspective of the last man/woman left standing: the sole survivor.

Sincere congratulations to everyone involved in this project. If you want to read more about the book, click here. Or why not click here and join Moody’s Survivors –  you’d be hard-pushed to find a nicer group of crazy, funny, thoughtful, dedicated zombie and horror-addicts!