I make no apologies for using this rather excellent image to accompany this particular post. It doesn’t illustrate anything I’m currently working on, nor is it an outtake from the next movie. It simply shows the ingenious outfit that my son, Harry (16), donned for our friends’ big Halloween bash – which was held last Saturday, and what a smart decision that turned out to be given the way the weather deteriorated yesterday.
Last night in northwest England the leaves swirled on a howling wind and the rain fell like torrents of ink. Very atmospheric, I suppose, but there were relatively few trick-or-treaters out and about, and an entire bucket of goodies remained uneaten in our porch – not at good thing for those in this house who are supposed to be dieting.
Of course, Halloween is not a holiday over here in the UK. I spent mine at the grindstone, putting the final touches to my contribution to the long-awaited sequel to the very successful ‘mosaic novel’ of last year, ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, created and edited by Stephen Jones.
I’m not at liberty to say what my section of the next book will be about, but I was watching THE WALKING DEAD this evening and must admit that it’s very impressive. In fact, if it wasn’t for ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE being optioned by Palomar Pictures in Hollywood, I really would regard this TV show as the last word on this gruesome subject. But here's a thought - isn’t it about time we rolled zombies back to their supernatural roots? I don’t know about you guys, but I miss the days when zombies were only to be found on blighted Caribbean islands, being raised from their shallow, palm-frond covered graves by maniac voodoo priests. Well, in the sequel to ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, we can’t boast palm trees or Caribbean islands (though don’t hold me to that - I’m not writing all of it, after all), but this time there will be a strong supernatural element.
In other horror-related news this week, I‘ve been working on the anecdotal section of the next book in my TERROR TALES OF … series. This refers to those incidents of ‘true horror’ that I’ll be inserting between all the fictional stories.
Readers of TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT (also available from Amazon, UK and US) will remember such ghastly curios as The Mad Clown of Muncaster, which detailed the devilish doings of a demented jester in an isolated Cumbrian Castle, The Devil’ Hole, in which shrieks heard from a very deep cavern close to Kirkby Stephen were mistaken (or perhaps not) for the screams of the damned, the case of The Croglin Vampire, in which a grotesque, mummified figure made nightly visits to a lonely country house, and so forth.
In this spirit, I’ve been researching vigorously for the next book, and have settled on 17 similarly macabre anecdotes with which to pepper it. Of course I’m not going to say anything about them here, because that would give it away where the next book is to be set – though as always, I’m flabbergasted by how much of the weird and unexplained still lurks close beneath the UK’s placid surface. You literally only need to nick it.
Here are another couple of clues to prick your interest with regard to the next book’s location. The first (right) is a medieval brass rubbing depicting an ancient king who even though he was beheaded, continued to administer his own brand of justice.
The second one, shot (below), shot by John Salmon, depicts a ghostly ruin where a nobleman, whose ambitions took him far beyond common treachery, brought an unimaginably awful fate on himself.