Archive for October, 2015

Red Eye Halloween Tour

October 23, 2015 - 4:44 am No Comments

RED EYE LOGO

Welcome to the Red Eye Halloween Tour, where I interview five authors from Stripes Book’s YA Horror imprint Red Eye. To find out more visit http://www.littletiger.co.uk/red-eye.

ALEX BELL – FROZEN CHARLOTTE

Alex Bell

Frozen Charlotte cover

1a) Short bio from the author including what their book is about

Frozen Charlotte is about a girl called Sophie whose best friend mysteriously dies after they fool around with a Ouija app one night. Sophie believes they accidentally released the spirit of her dead cousin, Rebecca, and decides to go and stay with her family on the Isle of Skye to try to find out what happened to her. There she finds a room full of antique Frozen Charlotte dolls that seem to have a mysterious influence over the household.

1b) What is the scariest book you’ve ever read? And why?
I think probably The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I love the country house setting, Gothic tone and unreliable narrator. I also really like the ambiguity of the whole thing. You can never be completely sure whether the governess is just imagining it all or whether there really is something seriously wrong with the children she’s looking after. Florence and Giles by John Harding is a great re-imagining of the story too.

2) What is the scariest film you’ve ever seen and why?
The Fourth Kind. This is a mockumentary style film about alien abduction and it completely scared the crap out of me. This is partly because, to begin with, I was gullible enough to think that the “real footage” parts were actually real footage, but also the fact that I guess I think alien abduction seems like such a terrifying thing that could theoretically happen to you at any time – i.e. you don’t have to be staying alone in a haunted house over night or anything like that – you could just be driving to work, or asleep in your bed. I also recently enjoyed scaring myself watching Oculus, which focuses on a haunted mirror and had some very creepy and original scenes I hadn’t come across anywhere else before.

LOU MORGAN – SLEEPLESS

Lou Morgan

Sleepless cover

1a) Short bio from the author including what their book is about

SLEEPLESS is the story of a group of friends at an exclusive,
high-pressure school who – desperate to pass their exams – take a
mysterious study drug they find on the internet. But there are
unexpected side effects, and it isn’t long before they realise that
the exams were only just the start of the nightmare.

Having sat a fair amount of exams in my time, I wanted to write a book
that was about stress, and exams and the amount of pressure put on
students – and the desperation that comes from that, as well as where
it could take you. And as someone who used to live in the Barbican in
central London, with all its twisty corridors and dead-ends, I
couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather set a horror story.

1b) What is the scariest book you’ve ever read? And why?

I’ve read scary stories ever since I *could* read, but I think for the
sheer impact of it, the one I remember as being the scariest was
Stephen King’s IT. A friend lent it to me when I was fairly young –
maybe eleven or so? – and I think I got about four pages in before I
had to get out of bed and put it in a drawer, just to make sure it
wasn’t going to… do anything during the night. I just didn’t trust
it. The memory of that is strong enough that I’ve never been able to
face reading it again!

Out of books I’ve actually managed to read, though, it’s almost
certainly another Stephen King: THE SHINING. I’m very, very late to
this – I only read it three or four years ago – but it still managed
to scare me. Those topiary animals. Oof.

2) What is the scariest film you’ve ever seen and why?

The funny thing is that I’m a notorious wimp when it comes to films:
it’s a source of never-ending amusement to my friends. So THE WOMAN IN
BLACK might be averagely-scary to some people, but I was already
whimpering my way through the dvd when my husband thought it would be
funny to go outside and bang suddenly on the window, in the pitch
dark. (I should add that I’m still married, but only just. It was
touch and go for a while after that stunt.)

Otherwise, both THE BABADOOK and THE EXORCIST are really interesting
and definitely some of the scariest films I’ve ever seen. Neither of
them rely on the jump-scare (although there’s a few of those) but draw
you into an oppressive atmosphere, making you more and more tense – so
when the real scares come along, they’re incredibly effective. The
setting is a part of the story, and you realise it could only be
taking place there – but that also, it could have happened anywhere.
It’s weirdly contradictory, but it’s true. The other thing about both
those films, of course, is that they’re not just about monsters or
demons or what have you: there’s a lot more going on in the stories if
you want to look for it. Or rather, if you dare to…

FLESH AND BLOOD BY SIMON CHESHIRE

SimonCheshire

flesh and blood cover

Biography
My first book was published in 1997, and since then there have been just over seventy others. Many of my books have been aimed at 8-12 year olds – including the Saxby Smart detective stories and the SWARM spy series – but I’ve also written for teenagers and for younger children.

I started writing stories when I was in my teens, and now write in a tiny room crammed with books, coffee cups and empty chocolate bar wrappers. I live in Warwick, not far from the famous castle, but I spend most of my time in a world of my own.

Flesh And Blood is the first all-out horror story I’ve ever written. It’s about a teenager called Sam who moves to a new town and a new school. He feels like a fish out of water, and soon starts to feel a hell of a lot worse when some disturbing events lead him to investigate the powerful Greenhill family. He uncovers something very, very nasty indeed…

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read? And why?
I think the one that’s haunted me most, over the years, is Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Not a horror story, of course, but a book with some of the all-time scariest concepts in it, and that ending remains the most chilling I’ve ever read.

What is the scariest film you’ve ever seen and why?
Ooooh, so many possibilities! I’ll never forget the first time I saw Alien, in about 1981/2, whenever it was first shown on TV, on a little portable up in my room with the lights off. The Fly – the original, not the ’80s remake – is a firm favourite (another terrifying ending!), as are John Carpenter’s Halloween and The Thing. Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is something I can’t watch without covering my eyes at some point, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the Paranormal Activity films, too.

Graham Marks – BAD BONES

Graham Marks Pic

Bad Bones cover

1a) Short bio from the author including what their book is about
I have spent my whole career in children’s publishing, firstly as a designer and Creative Director and then, after a major change of mind as to what I wanted to do, as a journalist and author. My first published work was a book of poetry, Seeing is Touching, published by Paul Piech, one of the visiting tutors we had while I was studying Information Graphics at Harrow School of Art.
I have worked for Marvel Comics, and various other comics companies writing scripts, I did an eight year stint as a copywriter in an advertising agency and was the trade paper Publishing News’ Children’s Editor until it’s closure in 2008.
Bloomsbury have published my critically acclaimed YA fiction, including Radio Radio, How It Works – the South Lanarkshire Book Award winner, 2005 ­- Zoo, Tokyo – the Catalan Young Adult Fiction Award winner in 2009 – and Omega Place. 
Usborne have published my 10+ thrillers, including Snatched!, Kaï-ro, I Spy and its sequel Mean Streets.
Catnip have republished revised editions of the books I wrote in the mid-90s: Strange Hiding Place, Faultline, Takedown (previously called Skitzo) and Playing with Phyre (previously called Haden’s Quest). I have also written for Barrington Stoke (Bad Day) and Franklin Watts recently published Payback, in their ‘Edge’ series.
I currently live and work in Portland, Oregon.

1b) What is the scariest book you’ve ever read? And why?
The book that terrified me as a child – I’m not sure exactly how old, but between 10 and 12 – was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I read it one summer and, even though the language was sometimes arcane and quite old-fashioned, it scared me witless, especially the Bloofer Lady. It was a hot summer, but I slept every night of it with my bedroom windows shut tight so she couldn’t get in, bite my throat, drink my blood and turn me into a vampire.

I did have, and still do, an over-active imagination and remember reading one book a few years later – I can’t remember which – that involved leprosy; I spent weeks afterwards convinced that, at a school in the middle of suburban Hertfordshire, I had caught the disease was doomed to be cast out.

2) What is the scariest film you’ve ever seen and why?

Poltergeist was pretty scary, and so was Rosemary’s Baby and Carrie (especially the very end…), but the scariest probably has to be Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho; the pre-release publicity was incredible, cinemas advertising that a doctor would always be available in case anyone had a heart attack while watching it, and it does deliver the screaming and the shocks even now.

Find out more about Graham Marks and Bad Bones which will be featured on http://horrorhothousereview.wordpress.com

Tom Becker – DARK ROOM

Dark Room cover

Short author bio including what the book is about.

Originally from the northwest of England, Tom Becker grew up a tortured and maladjusted child who spent hours plotting the best way to inflict revenge upon society. In the end, he decided upon writing. His first novel, Darkside, won the Waterstone’s Childrens’ Book Prize and he has gone on to write a series of dark adventures and spine-chilling horrors. His new book, Dark Room, is set in an ultra-wealthy and secretive small town in America, where a vicious killer known as the Angel Taker preys upon a group of wealthy, narcissistic teens known as the Picture Perfects.

What is the scariest book you’ve ever read, and why?
I think the first real horror book I read was Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, which is a satisfying unpleasant and unsettling book composed by a truly great writer. In my reading I tend to gravitate towards the macabre rather than the outright horrific – particularly short story writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft and Robert Aickman.

What is the scariest film you’ve ever seen, and why?
I’ve had moments of real unhappiness watching The Exorcist, The Shining, and The Ring, but the winner for me has to be a Korean film called Ju-On: The Grudge. I made the rash decision to watch it on my own and lasted about 15 minutes before hurriedly turning off the DVD. It’s about a house suffering a terrible curse – the atmosphere of dread is instantaneous, and the depiction of possession simply terrifying.

Mythmaker

October 21, 2015 - 3:08 am No Comments

Mythmaker

Theresa: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself

Marianne: I’m an Australian feminist SF/crime/YA writer with a passion for speculative fiction, cake, TV series, knowledge, and exercise. I’ve been writing professionally for about twenty years and have published 17 novels. The best way to find out about my work is to visit my three websites. www.mariannedepierres.com is the overarching website, but at www.burnbright.com.au you can find out about my young adult and children’s writing, and at www.tarasharp.com.au you can find out about my crime writing. My life has been about books and family.

Theresa: Your new novel is partly set in the Australian outback. Why is this?

Marianne: Well, actually, in my new series there isn’t much outback left! There’s one giant park that encapsulates what remains of the outback in Australia, which is one of the themes in the story – conservation. But I also puddle about in a bunch of other ideas, including the influence of mythology on human behaviour, social inequality, dislocated communities, and other things. Having lived in the outback for some years, I enjoyed writing the physical descriptions of the park, and I tried to get across both its ferocity and its fragility.

Theresa: What is it about fantasy/SF that appeals to you

Marianne: I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, and I keep coming back to the same notion of the “sense of freedom” it allows me as a writer. In futuristic narratives I can change the world, or invent new worlds. It’s the ultimate escapism. It also stretches my intellect and imagination. The phrase “use it or lose it” applies here. The more I stretch my imagination, the better my imagination is.

Theresa: If the world was about to end what three objects would you take with you, one of which must be a book?

Marianne: Wow, I think I could spend a lifetime just thinking up an answer for this question! But right at this moment that would be: The Greater Oxford Dictionary, a rug, and a pillow.

Marianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and award-winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a bestselling teen dark fantasy series entitled Night Creatures and writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.
She lives in Brisbane, Australia.
Visit Marianne online at her websitewww.mariannedepierres.com and follow her @mdepierres on Twitter.

Mythmaker: Peacemaker Series Book 2
Author: Marianne de Pierres
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: 1st Oct 2015
Page Count: 432pp

Virgin Jackson is in a tight spot.
A murder rap hangs over her head and isn’t likely to go away unless she agrees to work for an organisation called GJIC (the Global Joint Intelligence Commission). Being blackmailed is one thing, discovering that her mother is both alive and the President of GJIC is quite another, particularly as her mother abandoned her as a child in favour of her career.. Then there’s the escalation of Mythos sightings and the bounty on her head. Oddly, Hamish is the only one she can rely on. Life is complicated.

Set within the glorious backdrop of a desolate Australian outback, Mythmaker blends the energy of an old style Western with the splendour of classic SF. Hypnotic, lyrical language adds depth to this background, which Virgin is desperately trying to conserve. The technology used in this future world is also feasible and realistic.
I enjoyed the tense and fraught relationship Virgin has with her partner, Marshal Nate Sixkiller. There is a burgeoning chemistry here. It doesn’t help that Virgin is a strong female character with her own eagle spirit guide, Aquila, with its own personality, and she will argue any point with Nate.
I felt comfortable reading this sequel without having read the first book in the series, and easily picked up on the mythology of the Mythos. Mythos are other-wordly creatures from classic myths and legends causing chaos in our world. One of the most interesting creatures in the book is the Pocong; “a burial shroud wrapped around a dead ‘un”
The mixture of creatures such as Aswang, outside the norm is interesting and adds dimension. Altogether an excellent book I would highly
recommend.

Sara Jayne Townsend

October 14, 2015 - 1:39 pm 1 Comment

sara-111-Web (2)

WHAT NOT TO SAY TO A WRITER
By Sara Jayne Townsend

There’s a misconception out there that all writers are rich and famous. The media plays a fairly big part in encouraging this misconception – firstly by following only the tiny minority of writers who are rich and famous, and secondly by perpetuating this myth in TV and film: the TV show ‘Castle’ for instance, in which a stupidly rich and famous crime thriller writer (played by the charismatic Nathan Fillion) follows a New York cop around crime scenes to help her solve murders. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love ‘Castle’. It’s by the same team that brought us Buffy and Firefly, and has so many references to geek culture that it’s a crime series for science-fiction geek. But watching it requires some serious suspension of belief. First of all, it’s hard to believe a civilian would be allowed to stomp over quite as many murder scenes as Richard Castle does, and this man spends so much time solving murders that you wonder how he ever finds time to write all of these mega-best sellers he churns out.

The point is that the vast majority of writers are a long way from being rich and famous. But because the average person doesn’t know anything about how the publishing industry works they buy into the myth, and there’s always that person that a writer will meet at some social event or other, who upon learning they are talking to a writer will ask a stupid question.

If you want to avoid being That Person at the party, here follows a list of things you should not say to a writer, along with the response you might get if said writer is in a brutally honest sort of mood.

So will I have heard of you?
The majority of people don’t read fiction. Of those that do, quite a lot read two or three books a year that they pick up off the ‘bestsellers’ rack in the supermarket with their monthly shop. So unless you’re one of those rare few people who peruses the small press lists and occasionally takes a chance on a new writer, no, you won’t have heard of me.

How many books have you written?
I have written over twenty. Do you mean how many books have I had published? That’s an entirely different matter. I’ve been writing books since I was ten years old. Not everything I’ve written will be published, and most of it never will be. Contrary to what Hollywood might tell you, writing is not about churning off a manuscript and then passing it on to the publisher and waiting for it to be released. There are lots more stages in there that the average lay person doesn’t know about. Including the small matter of rejection slips.

So you’ve given up work? Must be nice being able to stay home all day and write.
Yes, it must be. I wouldn’t know. Some writers manage to eke a modest living out of their writing alone, but quite a lot of us don’t and need another occupation to pay the bills. And by the way, writing is a ‘proper’ job. Those of us who juggle the day job and the writing could say we’ve actually got two full time jobs.

I could write a book. I just never had the time.
No one assumes that because you can drive a car you’re a mechanic, or because you can draw a smiley face you’re an artist, so why does everyone assume that if you know how to form words on a page you can be a writer? If you’re a writer, you find time to plant your backside in the chair and write. There’s no magic formula, and no short cuts.

Can I have a copy of your new book?
Because writers are so rich they can afford to give their work away, obviously. If you’re a plumber, will you come and fix my dripping tap for free? No? There’s your answer, then.

Sara Jayne Townsend bio:

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

FINAL COVER

Her latest horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH, about a group of live action roleplayers who unwittingly release an ancient evil during a game, has recently been released by Kensington Gore Publishing.

Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend) or join her Facebook Group, “Imaginary Friends” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/301037281383).

Joanne Harris Fairy Tales

October 14, 2015 - 12:51 pm No Comments

Gollancz has acquired world rights to publish a collection of dark, captivating fairy tales from Whitbread-shortlisted author, Joanne Harris. The multi-million-copy bestselling writer habitually delights her 25, 000 followers on Twitter with serialised short stories shared with the hashtag #storytime. Honeycomb is the first beautifully illustrated volume of Joanne Harris’s captivating and brilliantly imaginative #storytime tales.

Joanne Harris writes: “I started writing my #storytime tales four years ago, live on Twitter, as an exercise in different storytelling narratives. Since then, some of them have become songs, a stage show – even a couple of mini-operas – and now I’m delighted to be able to collaborate with Charles Vess – an artist I’ve admired for years – to make them into a book; an illustrated collection of new fairy stories with a dark, traditional feel – for people of all ages.”

Joanne Harris’s first adult epic fantasy novel The Gospel of Loki was published by Gollancz in February 2014. It was exceptionally well received and sold over 25,000 copies. The bestselling author of fifteen novels has already published two successful collections of short fiction, Jigs and Reels and A Cat, A Hat And A Piece Of String, and is a great advocate for the power of the short story.

Honeycomb will be beautifully illustrated throughout, with line drawings and full-colour plate sections by Charles Vess, the award-winning artist who illustrated Stardust by Neil Gaiman and The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Suzanne Clarke.

Charles Vess adds: “I’ve been reading Joanne’s work since the publication of Chocolat and Blackberry Wine. I’m more than excited by the opportunity this project gives me to transform her words into pen and ink marks and washes of colour onto the printed page.”

The novel will be published in hardback and e-book on the 21st September 2017.

Praise for The Gospel of Loki

“lively and fun” The Sunday Times

“retells the sagas …in all their wintry, saucy, grandiose, melancholy glory” The Financial Times

“Wickedly imaginative” Glamour

“hilarious” Good Housekeeping

“Witty and magical” Vogue

Sophie Calder
Publicity Manager
Gollancz
The Orion Publishing Group

Abaddon’s 10th Anniversary

October 9, 2015 - 11:10 am No Comments

Abaddon Books Event. London Sept 24th 2015 (1)

Above: Guest blogger Chris Amies and yours truly enjoying the party

There exists in central London a curious holdover from an earlier more legislated era, a possible network of small often subterranean places known simply as drinking clubs. One such lies behind an unassuming door in Greek Street, and it was there that on a Thursday night in September 2015 Abaddon Books celebrated ten years of publishing the finest genre fiction.

Founded by Rebellion Publishing, inheritors of the 2000AD magazine, Abaddon was set up to publish shared-world and shared-theme works.

This tenth anniversary celebration was a well-attended affair, crowded with authors and bloggers and illustrators.

Abaddon Books Event. London Sept 24th 2015 (4)

Lots of mingling

Abaddon Books Event. London Sept 24th 2015 (5)

Abaddon’s Commissioning Editor David Moore announced three new projects on the evening:
“Gods and Monsters: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef” by Cassandra Khaw; “Tomes of the Dead: The Lazarus Conundrum” by Paul Starkey”; and “Invaders from Beyond” a new series of novellas involving aliens.
Those attending were also given a free paperback including stories by twenty Abaddon authors.

It’s encouraging to know that in this era of basements being hollowed out in Kensington and million-pound apartments going up by the riverside and whole swathes of the capital practically un-liveable, that the alternative press continues to flourish and grow in the cracks of the world machine.

Abaddon Books Event. London Sept 24th 2015 (11)

The inimitable David Thomas Moore

Words by Chris Amies
Photos by Mark Hogg

Abaddon Books Event. London Sept 24th 2015 (13)

I have four of the Abaddon X paperback flash books to give away.

Retweet by 31st Oct to enter

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