Saturday 31 July 2010

One of the funniest threads on Shocklines

I don't know how long this thread will last before it too is locked by Shocklines' owner, but it could be interesting while it's still there. What a farce!

Lucilla - a work in progress

I have added the opening chapters to Lucilla on the pages above for Works in Progress.

I would be interested in any comments anyone who reads them have to make.

Friday 30 July 2010


More weasel words: shocklines

Ramsey Campbell asked a perfectly reasonable question as to why his message was deleted on another thread, and of course Matt comes back with a load of flannel.

Why, oh why does he persist in protecting the likes of Pacione and Dagstine, especially when anyone who isn't blind can see that Dagstine has been lying, as well as acting in an unprofessional, if not fraudulent manner over double, even treble selling stories as originals?

What credibility that site has is going to the dogs rapidly. It will take the nitwits not saying anything there for quite some time for things to settle again.

Penguin Books are 75 Today

It seems hard to believe but Penguin Books are 75 today. And they don't look a day over 50! 

Penguin Books

Thursday 29 July 2010

Has this writer faked his own death?

On at least two internet forums today Lawrence Dagstine's apparent death was reported, one claiming he was supposed to have committed suicide.

If true, this would be shocking enough. If faked by the victim, how shocking would that be, especially when he has been attacked recently for reselling stories more than once as originals.

Brian Keene has perhaps written best about this. Link

On Shocklines a number of posts from people like Ramsey Campbell, Brian Keene and me have been deleted by the site's owner, Matt, in some mistaken attempt to protect Dagstine. The thread has now been locked. Shocklines link

It's also appeared on the BFS Forum.

See also comments on The Rusty Nail.

I don't intend to continue debating the issue of this alleged suicide (which I don't believe), but it is interesting how some people, well-meaning maybe, are perhaps so shocked at the possibility this suicide/death is true, they are blinded to the man's record of lies and deceit.


He's alive - surprise, surprise!


(Again, the original thread has had deletions by Matt and been locked - another great surprise. Since Matt also protects evil-minded, talentless nut-jobs like Pacione, it really makes one wonder what the man is up to.)

The Crazies

Watched this on DVD tonight and really enjoyed it. One of the best zombie films I've seen in ages (zombies in the sense of 28 Days Later, not Night of the Living Dead.) Some excellent performances and a well written script. The most scary thing, of course, was the US Government. That's far more frightening than any blood-crazy zombie/maniac. I'll say no more as I could easily include spoilers. The best thing I can say is: don't miss it.

5 Reasons Why Authors Need Blogs

This is an interesting item, which is well worth reading, especially if you are an author.

I originally decided to get a blog on the recommendation of an editor from HarperCollins I met at the HWA's Stoker Banquet in Brighton this year. Unfortunately I can't for the world remember her name, but thank you, anyway!

There are some good ideas in this brief article. 

At the Mountains of Madness

It looks as if the long-awaited film of H. P. Lovecraft's classic At the Mountains of Madness may actually at last come into production with both Del Toro and James Cameron involved. See this link.

Love the image used in the article:

Tuesday 27 July 2010

More E-Books News

There was an interesting article in The Independent newspaper today about further developments in e-books, this time involving the influential agent Andrew Wylie.

Times are certainly changing in publishing. Though one thing is certain: ebooks can no longer be ignored and are becoming an ever more important part of modern day publishing, much though I love a traditional book.

Monday 26 July 2010

Bad News for the British Film Industry

Just when things were really getting better:

 BBC News

This is a damn shame. There have been some brilliant British movies produced in recent years because of this.

Dexter Series 5

One warning: if you haven't seen series 4 yet don't watch this video.

Can't wait for this to start. Brilliant TV show. One of the very best.

Solomon Kane

I finally got round to watching this on DVD this weekend. I must admit, having read the original Robert E. Howard stories years ago, I have been looking forward to this. I was disappointed to miss it when it first came out at the cinema.

Unfortunately, I must admit to feeling disappointed by it, more so as I had great hopes from James Purefoy as Kane. I was impressed by his earlier performance in the HBO series, Rome, where he played Mark Anthony.

What went wrong?

Was it the excessive use of CGI and over-egging of the supernatural menaces? That certainly was partially true. Film makers seem unable to make a judicious, moderate use of this and just have to go overboard with it. That definitely didn't help this film.

Was it the lack of humour? Again that didn't help. And I do wish today's film makers, when they're doing a horror film, would remember that sometimes a little use of humour in the right parts can add to a film. Hammer knew this at their peak.

Was it the fact, also, that the Kane of the original stories wasn't present as a fully fledged character until the end of the movie, the rest of it being an origin story, explaining how he became Kane? That could have had something to do with it too. How film makers do love their origins stories! Personally, I usually find them downright boring.

No, I wasn't all that impressed with this film. It was certainly better than the Conan movies, but that's not exactly saying a lot. And I don't wait with bated breath for the next Kane movie - if there ever is one.

Nor do a wait with bated breath for the next CGI fest - not because I don't like it as a special effects tool - it can be brilliant if used well - but because it so often isn't.

Anyway, at least there are still the original Robert E. Howard Kane stories.

Thursday 22 July 2010

I write like all of these people...

Cory Doctorow, David Foster Wallace, William Gibson and Stephen King!

Well, that's according to this little online test.

It's good fun and could make an amusing party game (at a party for just writers of course since anyone else would be bored silly).

Anyway, I'm just relieved it didn't say I wrote like Nicholas Pacione (and if you've never seen his writing you've never lived!) Hmmm, I wonder what his answer would be. Possibly William Burroughs during his cut and paste period?

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Redundancy now Redundant Flesh

Up to 23,000 words on my serial killer novel. I've decided to rename it Redundant Flesh. I don't think anyone has used this title before, though I haven't checked yet. Fingers crossed, as I kind of like it.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Hosepipe Ban

A hosepipe ban was introduced here in the North West a week or so back and guess what? You're right, of course. It's never stopped raining since then. I just hope that United Utilities - that useless entity that's responsible for our water supplies - is able to keep hold of most of the water pouring down on us. Of course it might have helped if they hadn't sold off so many local reservoirs over the past few years for housing developments. Now I'm not saying this wasn't a nice little cash earner for them or what they used to call asset stripping, but... I suppose that's exactly what I am saying.

And why am I labelling this "stupid politicians"? Well who else has allowed them to get away with it, eh?

Monday 19 July 2010


Now reached the satisfying landmark of 20 thousand words - and still going strong. And my guy is now officially a serial killer. Not only that but he has also had his fourth kill. And a bit of arson. Not bad for a trainee accountant!

I may put some of the earlier parts online for comments.

Sunday 18 July 2010


Well my novel has now passed 17,000 words but my would be serial killer has still not reached the magical three killings that would entitle him to that title.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Redundancy - story

Still working on this story, which is growing longer of its own accord. 13,000 words now in just over a week. I know that's still a long way from being a full blown novel, but I can see it getting there. The more I write the more possibilities open up. I didn't intend this when I started it. There must be something about having a killer as a central character. He's taking over. As are complications. Though I suppose it's inevitable that a story about someone who gets a taste for killing will develop complications. How could it not? Still, I'm enjoying the ride, and it's probably the most commercial thing I have ever written - unintentionally.

I think I'll have to change the title, though.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Awards - Part 2

It now appears that Chris Barker's comments on Horror Watch that Mark Samuels' blog is now private, blocking people accessing it, is wrong. It is open again, complete with Mark's entry about awards. Link

I have posted the response I wrote on my blog as a reply.

Tuesday 13 July 2010


It's a week since I started this story and it now stands at eleven and a half thousand words. It's developed almost with a mind of its own into a story about a serial killer - or it will be when he completes his third killing. Seems to be going well.

Johnny Mains rang up tonight. During the course of our conversation he asked if I could use him in a story and kill him off. Ever glad to oblige he's there, though he'll probably be victim number four. I just have to think up something sufficiently nasty for him, long drawn, humiliating and bloody. I hope he's pleased.


It's interesting that the first new entry to appear for ages on Chris Barker's Horrorwatch site is a lengthy quote from Mark Samuels' blog where Mark criticises the voting process of the British Fantasy Awards. Like Mark, Chris Barker does, of course, appear to be a little obsessed with awards, even though he regularly disparages them. (What's that? He "doth protest too much, methinks"?)

Mark, though, does come out with some interesting points - points which I have sometimes thought about myself - mainly that so many of the publications which are shortlisted these days come from very small POD operations. That's so unlike when these awards were first created back in the 70s. Then the market was totally different. Anthologies of horror stories - even those devoted to new stories, not reprints - were fairly common and a number of paperback publishers were regularly publishing them in their tens of thousands - or more: Pan, Fontana, Sphere, Corgi, Tandem, and others. And these were just the UK. The novels and short stories that were voted on were all available in every town in all the multitude of small, independent bookshops that proliferated then; even most newsagents had racks of them, not to mention railway stations, market stalls, a whole multitude of places.One of my regular activities on my way home from work in Preston was to look in on a bookstall on Preston Ralway Station every Friday to see what the latest paperbacks were. There was always a really good choice.

The small press then only existed as companies such as Arkham House - a mammoth compared to today's.

So, when it came to awards, the books were easly available to everyone and were undeniably professional. Now most nominees seem to be published in their low hundreds - if even that in many cases.

Perhaps there should be a categorisation, dividing the professional from the non- or semi-professional? Perhaps any nominees should be stories or novels where the author was paid professional rates, not nominal amounts or by free copies of the publication. That, though, would exclude some superb work. Perhaps there should be a demand that any nominees have been published in minimum quantities. Of course, that would be hard to prove and open to abuse.

Or, perhaps, better still, we should treat the whole thing as a bit of fun and stop worrying about it. After all, how many of us could list the winners of these awards over the past few years without looking them up?

To my mind too much rancour has already been expended on this issue. I don't think M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood or most of the other greats in the past ever received any awards for their stories. I don't think that has affected their reputations.

Lets get a bit of perspective on this. And if someone wins whose book or story we didn't think deserved it, why rain on their parade? Is it really worth making ourselves sometimes look envious, whether we are or not? The only reputation that suffers then is our own.

By the way, if someone would like to comment on this there'll be no censorship providing other people aren't libelled. You can say what you like about me, of course; I don't care. I am in a position to defend myself if I want to. Others aren't. Please bear that in mind.

Monday 12 July 2010

The Lovely Bones

I watched The Lovely Bones on Saturday night. I enjoyed it, though I sometimes felt it steered very carefully clear from the full horror of the protagonist's murder, perhaps too much of which was left to the imagination. The acting, though, was excellent, particularly the serial killer, who was chillingly creepy. The scene in which the younger sister breaks in his house to find evidence of what he's done is genuinely tense, and I could feel myself fearing for her - which shows how much I had become involved in the story. The heavenly bits were okay, but for me a bit overly pretty in a CGI way and didn't really convery any sense of the spiritual to me. I hardly felt like she was really on the cusp of entering Heaven. Nor did I feel the other victims of the killer she met had gone through the trauma of rape and murder. Still, it was an effective piece of filmmaking and kept me gripped to the end. Not in the same league as The Others or Stir of Echoes, but a cut above the average.

Saturday 10 July 2010

Filthy Creations 6 - Sendings Serialisation Part 1

I just received my contributor's copy of Filthy Creations 6 through the post this morning from Rog Pile, its editor and publisher, and what a superb looking publication it is! It looks much better than I expected and I am pleased to have my novel Sendings serialised in it.

Other contributors include Craig Herbertson (with a serialisation of his novel The Death Tableau), Charles Black (who really should put more of his own stories in the Black Books of Horror), D. F. Lewis, Stephen Bacon, Robert Mammone, Franklin Marsh, Colin Leslie, James Stanger, and Penni McClaren Walker, with illustrations by Rog Pile. With a line up like that I am looking forward to reading the magazine.

If you are interested in buying copies email Rog Pile at rogpile (at) hotmail (dot) co (dot) uk or click on this.

Friday 9 July 2010

Corruption - trailer

I couldn't resist putting a link to the trailer for the Peter Cushing film, Corruption here. John Probert put the link up on another site. It's well worth watching. Just hope they eventually release a good copy of it on DVD.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Let Me In

One of the best vampire films I have ever seen was the Swedish Let the Right One In. Now, inevitably I suppose, it's been remade in the US by the Director of Cloverfield, and renamed Let Me In.

From the trailer this looks to be much better than expected. In fact it looks pretty good.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

On a Roll - I hope

Those of us who write will know what I mean (I think). You can go for days, weeks, sometimes months without writing a word, inspiration dried up, then out of the blue you start something new, it races on almost as if it has a life of its own, then finish it. And before you know it you're off on another. On a roll.

Well, touch wood, I seem to be on one now. I just finished The Last Coach Trip and have started straight away on another story with the daunting title Redundancy, a word ripe with possibilities. And have gone from a story about old men to one about a lad aged 21. There's variety for you!

(Mind you, we did lose four people where I work through redundancy a short while ago, including my old assistant - and good friend Ben. Therefore I do know something of what the atmosphere can be like even though my own job was firmly secure.)

Most of what I've otherwise done lately has been to work through a couple of older novels, doing rewrites and generally tidying them up. I still have a couple of others to finish, but I'm not going to let them get in the way while I'm in a short story writing mood.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

The Haunting on DVD

Went into HMV today and got a DVD of The Haunting - the brilliant 1963 version starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom - for only £3!!!

One of the best bargains ever.

It also includes a commentary by Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn and, more importantly, director Robert Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding.

And this is where the outside was filmed: Ettington Hall

(My wife has already sent off for a brochure (it's now a hotel) - a few years ago she booked us into Oakley Court which is next to Bray Studios and was featured in many Hammer Films, including The Reptile)

The White Hands by Mark Samuels

After all the acrimony on the RCMB Never Again thread I thought I would reread this story. It's in a beautifully produced book from Tartarus Press of the same title. It's an amazing story, elegantly written, with some sly plot twists that take the reader by surprise (but make sense) and an incredibly shocking scene when the protagonist is attacked. A true classic. And a good reminder, after all I have read over the past few days, just how accomplished a writer Mark Samuels really is. Which, when the dust has settled, is what will matter in the end.

As an aside, I love the irreverent descriptions one of the characters in the story gives of Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood.

Monday 5 July 2010

The Last Coach Trip

Started a new story on Friday, which I finished today at 4,800 words. Quite pleased with it. A kind of Lancastrian horror story about old men, a working men's club and their annual trip to Ripon Races. Enjoyed writing it and liked the characters. In a sense too it was slightly autobiographical. Back in my late twenties before I got married I used to be a member of Bold Street Working Men's Club in Accrington which had an annual trip to Ripon Races. And great trips they were too. Therefore some of the things that happen are true. But not all.

A James Herbert Moment

James Herbert's Rats novels are not my favourite horror stories, but they do hit the spot. I was reminded of that this morning on my way into work.

I always go for a half hour's walk after parking my car for a bit of exercise. I get in quite early so I can secure one of the few free parking spaces still left near Blackburn town centre.

I was walking up the top part of King Street when, ahead of me, two council workmen pulled out one of those large double-sized wheelie bins from an alleyway across from a frozen food supermarket. And at least half a dozen rats suddenly streamed out after it and ran across the road. Two headed towards a man on the other side who had to lift one foot to let them past. The look on his face was priceless. A couple of the rats then u-turned and headed back to the alley. I've never seen anything like it. They had huge ears and were grey. I was glad I was still about ten feet away when this happened - and was relieved when I'd passed the alley and no more appeared - or returned. I don't know where the rest of them went.

Sendings - Price Reduction on Amazon

I have succeeded in reducing its price on Amazon again to $0.99 (plus VAT).


Saturday 3 July 2010

Simon Unsworth Does Charity Reading

Simon Unsworth will be doing a reading at Morecambe's Cancer Research shop on Tuesday the 3rd August between 6 and 8 pm. Linden and I are going to try and get there for this, though that's not certain yet. But it's a worthwhile charity and I hope it's a great success.

Link   Link

Friday 2 July 2010

Leaving Bulgaria

This is a picture of the last time we drove to Bulgaria as we were on our way home, heading across the Danube.

How can you tell I'm looking forward to our next trip there in a few weeks time?

Sendings on Amazon - Price Reduction

I have reduced the price for Sendings on Amazon down a dollar to $1.99, in line with its price on FifoBooks. I may reduce this even further, if the system will allow me, to $0.99, just to help with sales, since I am not interested in making money off it.

Anyway, I'll see how this improves the number of downloads. So far there has just been one.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Old photo

I came across this old photograph recently. It was taken in London during the mid 70's during a weekend away to attend a comic convention and various other events taking place at the time. It shows a very young Jim Pitts (one of the biggest artists in fantasy fandom at the time), Jon Harvey, editor of Balthus, one of the best fanzines, Steve Jones (who needs no introduction) and me. I believe the photographer was Gordon Larkin, who took over editorship of the BFS Bulletin around that time.

House in Bulgaria

A few people know Linden and I have a house in Bulgaria in the village of Kozma Prezviter, not far from the town of Targovishte. It is a beautiful area, close to the main Sophia-Varna highway and at the end of of the Prezviter Mountain Range, deep in the countryside. We bought it five years ago and have spent a few pounds on having work done on it. Our aim is one day to be able to spend 6 months there and 6 months in the UK.

We both wish we could spend more time there now as we love it - and get on well with our brilliant neighbours. At the end of August we'll be driving there again, taking still more things in our car (last time it was mainly carpet tiles!) The trip is part of our enjoyment. The last time we drove there we stayed overnight in Belgium, Austria, Hungary and Romania, and the same on our return, except we stayed in Germany rather than Austria. All the hotels were brilliant (other than those in Belgium, which we'll try and avoid this time). Our Romanian hotel was on the banks of the Danube, with a view of Serbia on the far side.

One of the items we're taking with us this time is an astronomical telescope which our son bought us at Christmas. He stayed with us on our last trip to Bulgaria and was impressed how clear the stars were at night (its almost pitch black in the countryside apart from a few streetlights), and especially from our top balcony. We're looking forward to doing a bit of stargazing, in between sampling a few bottles of the very cheap (but very good) local wine!

A picture of our house from the edge of the forest across the road.