V for Vendetta

Now that I’m sitting back behind this desk full-time again, I hope to catch up on the backlog of stuff I’ve built up to share. I have a whole heap of book and film recommendations that I want to add to the already substantial page of book and film recommendations that you can find here.

This week, a post that’s been sitting on my desktop unfinished for 6 months and 1 week. How can I be so precise about the date? Because I watched the 4k restoration of the movie on the day UK cinemas closed back in November last year – masked up for literally the final showing before the multiplexes shut their doors. Roll on next week when, hopefully, they’ll be opening up again.

If you’ve read any of my recent posts about AUTUMN: DAWN (and if you read the bonus material that’ll accompany the limited-edition hardcover), then you’ll know that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how our appreciation of things we’ve watched and read can change according to our current circumstances. I seem to be making a lot of STAR WARS comparisons at the moment, and this reminds me of my reaction to THE PHANTOM MENACE. Back on opening night in 1999, I was blown away. A new STAR WARS movie! It didn’t seem real, and I loved every second of it. But as time went by and I watched the film a few more times, I started to think that, actually, it wasn’t that good. Fast-forward to 2015 when I did a complete re-watch of the films in anticipation of THE FORCE AWAKENS, and I absolutely HATED the prequels. And now here we are, post-Disney, and yet again they’re being reappraised.

I guess my point is this: your engagement with a film or book is inevitably shaped by your life at that moment in time. Case in point, V FOR VENDETTA. I enjoyed the film a lot when I first saw it in 2005. Fifteen years later, it blew me away.

In a future British tyranny, a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of “V”, plots to overthrow it with the help of a young woman.

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Immortalised in Lego

August is always a quiet time around here. For no other reason, I guess, than the fact I’m usually neck-deep in writing. This year has been no exception (hence no posts for three weeks…). I thought it was time to reappear and give you an update. But first, thanks to my friend RICHARD BANNISTER of RICHBRIX for immortalising me in Lego. I was genuinely thrilled when he sent me to me. Isn’t he (aren’t I) cool?! More about that in a moment.

A Lego mini-figure of author David Moody

So what have I been up to? I’ve been working on a new novel called WAS SHE EVER THERE? since March, and I’m about to head into what I think will be the final draft. This one is something of a departure for me, and I’ll tell you more when the next pass is complete. There’s also been a lot of planning going on, mainly getting ready for my part of THE BLEED which I’m writing alongside CHRIS PHILBROOK and MARK TUFO. I can’t wait to get going on my section of the book. It’ll feature a visit from God and several ocean’s worth of gore.

Much work is also being done in preparation for my expansion of the AUTUMN series in 2020. The German reissues of the original series have gone down a storm (Vielen Dank an alle, die eine Kopie abgeholt haben), and the AUTUMN website at www.lastoftheliving.net will be getting a fresh coat of paint in the coming weeks. I think I can say that it’ll now be a trilogy of new novels which will be more broader in scale than the original books. Put it this way – if you set an AUTUMN novel in the centre of London you’re going to have many more survivors who’ll have to contend with many, many, many, many more undead.

So back to RICHBRIX. I used to work with Richard and even back in 2006/7 I knew he had a fascination for turning famous film scenes into bespoke Lego kits. Fast-forward a decade, and his passion has given birth to an incredible business. If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a Lego Snake Plissken from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (I genuinely have), or V from V FOR VENDETTA, then Rich is your man. Head over to www.richbrix.co.uk and get ready to part with your well-earned cash!

Sir John Hurt (1940 – 2017)

I was saddened to hear today about the death of Sir John Hurt. I don’t usually write about individual actors on this site, but his impact was such that I couldn’t let his passing go unnoticed. He was one of those rare actors who, to me, seemed both recognisable and unrecognisable at the exact same time. His face (and voice) was immediately familiar and yet he completely inhabited the roles he played to such an extent that any familiarity quickly disappeared. When I see Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp on screen (something I try my best to avoid doing), I know I’m watching Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp, albeit in a different setting and with a different haircut. With John Hurt, however, I was only ever watching the character he was portraying. Does that make sense?

There are three particular roles he played I wanted to mention. When I was nine and was rapidly discovering my love for all things horror, ALIEN was released. I’m assuming anyone reading this will know that his character, Kane, has one of the most famous death scenes in movie history. Of course, as a bloodthirsty kid, all I was initially interested in was the chest-burst and the gore. It was only when I later learned more about how the scene was filmed – how he knew what was going to happen but the rest of the cast didn’t – and when I watched the film again (and again and again) did I realise how smart and clever Sir John’s performance was.

A couple of years later he starred as the titular ELEPHANT MAN in David Lynch’s adaptation of the life of the hideously deformed John Merrick. I rewatched the film recently and was again spellbound by his performance. Despite being unrecognisable and with limited movement under Christopher Tucker’s ground-breaking makeup, he succeeded in playing Merrick in such a way that the character’s pain and suffering was abundantly clear.

But my favourite John Hurt performance is as Winston Smith in Michael Radford’s film adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. I’ve already written about the film here so I won’t go into much more detail, other than to say that the physical and mental transformation of Smith is remarkable. It’s a superb adaptation of a book which in these days of ‘alternate facts’ and the like, continues to feel increasingly relevant.

So goodbye Sir John, and thanks for the many magnificent performances. I’ve barely scratched the surface: V FOR VENDETTA, HELLBOY, HARRY POTTER, DOCTOR WHO, SNOWPIERCER… I could go on and on. Instead, I thought I’d post this compilation clip instead:

The Next Big Thing

If you visit many other authors’ blogs, chances are you’ll have come across The Next Big Thing blog chain. Here’s how it works – an author answers ten questions about their next piece of work, then they tag five other authors to answer the same questions one week later. Adam Nevill tagged me last week (here’s Adam’s post), and here are my answers.

What is the working title of your next book?
17 DAYS

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s a concept I’ve been toying with on and off since the mid-nineties. It occurred to me that if we knew the precise date of our own death, it would affect absolutely everything we do in the time which remains. But would that necessarily be a bad thing?

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s probably a little more mainstream than anything I’ve written before, but there are definite dystopian overtones.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Complete unknowns. That’s essential.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Mark Thane is going to die in seventeen days time. Probably. (Sorry, that’s two sentences).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Represented (by Scott Miller at Trident Media, New York).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Excluding the fifteen years I’d been messing with the idea on and off, about six weeks.

What other books/films would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are very definite shades of NETWORK, the 1976 Sidney Lumet movie. I guess there’s also a V FOR VENDETTA influence in there too.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The initial inspiration came so long ago now it’s hard to remember. I’m fascinated by our attitudes to death. I’ve always thought it fantastically liberating how animals live without fear because they don’t know they’re going to die. They assume they’ll just keep on going. We, on the other hand, seem to have either an unhealthy preoccupation with (or an equally unhealthy ignorance of) our own mortality. What happens if the rules change? How would you react if you knew exactly how long you had left?

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think it’s a really original book which takes the story in very unexpected directions. In seventeen days the main character goes on a remarkable journey. Oh, and there’s loads of sex. Move over ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, Moody’s gone all soft-porn.

More news about 17 DAYS coming soon. Here are the chaps I’ve tagged for next week:

ADAM BAKER
CRAIG DILOUIE
IAIN MCKINNON
ADAM MILLARD
SEAN T PAGE