I'm rather pleased to announce that STALKERS has finally earned itself 500 reviews on Amazon. It's even nicer to report that 278 of them have awarded it five stars, and 139 have given it four, a grand total of 417 who've given it the big thumbs-up. Nothing pleases an author more than knowledge that the audience is enjoying his/her work. The total sales of STALKERS, which is my first thriller novel - published by Avon Books (HarperCollins) in February this year - now stands at just over 145,000, which is way more than I anticipated when I first made the sideways jump from horror into crime.
The immediate follow-up to STALKERS, and my second outing for Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, SACRIFICE, is due for publication next month, and though it's six weeks away, we already have 10,777 pre-orders on that, which I'm now informed - and this really blew me away - makes it the second most pre-ordered book in HarperCollins's history (and the company's current record-holder is not necessarily safe - we still have plenty of time yet).
Just out of interest, for anyone in the UK who's yet to get hold of a copy of STALKERS, here's an opportunity you may want to take advantage of. Just follow this link to GOOD READS, where there are five copies of the book to be given away.
I can also now officially break the news that, in consequence of all his, I have a agreed a new five-book deal with Avon, to kick in as soon as the third book in the current Mark Heckenburg series, HUNTED, is published next February. So that's eight novels in total I'll be writing for Avon. At a guess, at least three of that next five will be further Heck investigations - maybe all of them will be, but it's highly possible that I may write a couple of stand-alones too. It often pays to spread your wings a little, as they say.
Anyway, if you'll forgive me a personal insight, I'm finding all this incredibly exciting and will be celebrating with a few glasses of bubbly at the HarperCollins summer party in July. If anyone happens to be there, please introduce yourself and we'll chat.
Also, don't forget (if you're interested, of course), that as per the advert reprinted above, I'll be attending Waterstones at Liverpool One on Friday August 2, and sitting on a special TWISTED TALES panel with two fellow crime/horror authors, SARAH PINBOROUGH and ALISON LITTLEWOOD. We'll all be reading extracts from our new novels, answering questions and signing anything that gets put in front of us. As I understand it, tickets, which cost £3 (£2 with a loyalty card), are either available in store or can be booked on 0151 709 9820.
And now, on a completely different but hopefully equally chilling note, TERROR TALES OF LONDON, the fourth anthology in the round-Britain series of horror anthologies that I'm editing for GRAY FRIAR PRESS, has now been published, as demonstrated here by some absolute goon who clearly has no idea at all how to pose for the camera.
It looks and feels great, as they always do of course the first time you get your hands on them. I'm as delighted by this latest volume as I was with all the others, and I think you'll agree the TOC comprises some fairly hefty names from the annals of dark fiction (it includes such luminaries of the industry as ADAM NEVILL, MARK MORRIS, NINA ALLAN, CHRIS FOWLER and NICK ROYLE). The anecdotes in this particular volume have given me extra pleasure - by 'anecdotes' I'm referring to the non-fictional incidents of true-life horror with which I intersperse the actual stories. TERROR TALES OF LONDON is the first exclusively urban district that we've covered in this series, so, as you can imagine, there was a bit more scope than usual to include articles on madmen, murderers and other maniacs. Trust me, this one ain't just about ghosts (though we've got plenty of those too, and a few demons and monsters).
Still on the subject of horror, and to continue on the round-Britain folklore/mythology trail, I received some more welcome news this week, when I learned that GHOST REALM has now made it onto ebook courtesy of ASH-TREE PRESS.
For those who don't know, GHOST REALM was a collection of my stories and novellas, which was first published in 2008. The two things that marked this one as being different out from most of the others were, firstly, that it contained only original pieces - none of the stories in GHOST REALM had been published previously and none have been republished since (until now of course). Secondly, they each represented a different corner of Britain, and told a spooky story particularly associated with that district, drawing on local myth, lore or history. In many ways, it was a forerunner of the TERROR TALES series, which kicked off two years later, though on that first occasion of course it was all my own work. It's something I'd love to do again - GHOST REALM 2 has a nice ring to it, as does GHOST REALM 3 and GHOST REALM 4 - but at present lack of time poses a big constraint.
Anyway, to whet your whistle about the original, here's a quick rundown of the contents:
The Killing Ground - A movie star takes a Christmas retreat in the snowy Herefordshire countryside, but first recruits a couple of private eyes to ensure there is no truth in the local rumour about a mysterious roaming cannibal.
The Gallows In My Garden - A woman fleeing an abusive relationship, seeks comfort in the wilds of East Anglia, only to find herself in a cottage close to the site where a maniac strangler was hanged in the eighteenth century.
Be He Alive, Be He Dead - A vengeful husband hatches a complex scheme, but his hideout in London's East End is compromised by a mysterious curse, annually preceded by the stench of burning flesh.
Tregeagle’s Cove - On a sun-drenched summer day, a tough Cockney businessman takes an ill-advised boat trip to an isolated beach on the very tip of Cornwall.
The Crannog - Twitchers travel to a secluded lake in the Welsh mountains, camping out on a eerie isle rumoured to be the last remnant of an ancient, sunken city.
This Place! - Bored South Coast teenagers break into an off-season theme park, but it doesn't inspire them much - until they start to suspect that they aren't there alone.
Bloody Essex - A left wing academic and right wing journalist clash over the truth behind the stories of Queen Boudicca, but it takes a turn for the nasty in the lonely groves of Epping Forest.
In The Black And Stinking Fume - A TV medium outed as a charlatan tries to rebuild his career by exposing witchcraft in the backstreets of modern day Edinburgh.
The Moon Rising Red - When a vicious Stone Age ritual is re-enacted, a woman in a lone Lake District farmhouse is terrorised by three nameless, nightmare entities.