Tuesday 25 October 2011

Demonic adversaries are never far from us

Well ... I can safely say that the monstrous adversaries we created in THE DEVIL’S ROCK will shortly be back. I've now received official notification regarding a sequel to the movie, which hopefully may be made as early as next year.

It's too early to give any details of course, but the first installment continues to do well and to attract plenty of publicity, so the second one will have much the same atmosphere, though it will be bigger in so many ways. I have the first draft synopsis in front of me as we speak courtesy of director Paul Campion, and though I’m sorely tempted to give some of it away, I can’t. Just trust me when I tell you that it contains some amazing ideas, which on camera will be quite fantastic.

I received a very nice fillip the other day, when a friend’s daughter came home and told her dad how her date had been waxing lyrical about a new movie he’d just seen – THE DEVIL’S ROCK – without knowing anything about our connection to it. Thanks to Steve and Becky Lockley for passing on that pleasant little gem. These sorts of developments are small, but they helps you realise, more than anything else, that your work is out there and being appreciated by the masses.

Unfortunately, in the case of THE DEVIL’S ROCK, it’s being appreciated in ways that it shouldn’t be – in less pleasing news last week, I was given a figure totalling how many sales we’ve now lost as a result of illegal downloading.

I’m not going to repeat the figure here, but it’s astonishing. This is the first time that movie piracy has ever hit me in the pocket personally. I know the temptation when there are so many online facilities for free access for new movies, to just press a button and settle back – but I’d urge fans to think twice about this. Don’t be lulled into assuming that everyone involved in the movie industry is stonking rich and can easily absorb the losses. Most are just hard-working folk whose earnings, which are rarely as extravagant as the public may believe, depend on the product they’ve laboured on for so many months performing well in the market place.

But now to more edifying matters (as the image on the left amply illustrates).

You’ll notice that I’ve sprinkled this week’s blog with new images of THE DEVIL’S ROCK. These are the latest posters being utilised to promote the film in territories where we’ve yet to take root. (Ignore the top one – that’s a generic if impressive image from an original medieval window, which I craftily used to make you think that a Satan-inspired Armageddon is upon us – heh heh heh!).

I reckon all these new posters are pretty cool. They take a very different approach to the ones we used when selling the movie in the UK, the US and New Zealand, though yet again I see that we’ve managed to incorporate an image of Gina Varela in ‘murderous minx’ mode – well, there’s no sense pretending this movie is something it isn’t.

In news unrelated to my movie endeavours, KING DEATH , my impending short novella from Spectral Press, is due to be released later next month. Apparently it was scheduled for publication in December, but it sounds as if the product is already virtually sold out. Simon Marshal-Jones, the man behind Spectral Press, advises me that only four copies remain unsold. Check out the link to his blog for further info. KING DEATH features devils of a different sort as Rodric, a vagrant knight crosses an England so devastated by the Black Death that the lines between horrible reality and hideous fantasy appear to have blurred.

Peter Tennant, reviewing the novella in BLACK STATIC, says of it:

King Death is a well told tale, engendering the necessary shudders for the reader and with an ending you don't quite see coming but which, in retrospect, seems entirely appropriate and to have much of poetic justice about it. Vonnegut would have approved.

In other non-movie news, the next volume in my TERROR TALES OF … anthology adventure is well under way to production. I’ve had a lot of fun these last two weeks sorting out the anecdotal ‘true tales of terror’ which I intend to become a trademark of this series. Already I’ve had several responses to TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT (also available from Amazon) focussing in particular on these anecdotes, which the readers in question say they’ve found fascinating and ghoulish in equal measure. The district I’ve chosen for the next volume seems to prove the old adage that still waters really do run deep. On the surface it’s as peaceful and picturesque as they come, but down below, in the depths of its history and folklore, there is a world of chaos and horror that would astound modern-day visitors. Of course, it isn’t just the anecdotes – we’ve also recruited some excellent writers who even now are busy scratching out their fatal fictions.

I’m not going to reveal any more at this stage – not until you’re all salivating! – but here’s another clue: the original of the demonic image at the top of this blog is located there. Yes, this is definitely a space to keep watching.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Devilish deeds in dark and dismal rooms

The horror movie I wrote for Chameleon Pictures, THE DEVIL’S ROCK, which went on general release earlier this year, now appears to be doing business on a global scale. The rights to many territories have been sold, but it is also hitting the festival circuit in a big way.

The latest news on that front sees THE DEVIL’S ROCK included in the schedules at the OUTCRY FILM FESTIVAL, Norway (Oct 27-29) and the SAN SEBASTIAN HORROR AND FANTASY FILM FESTIVAL, Spain (Oct 29 - Nov 4). These follow on from its screening at the Icon TLV Fantastic Film Festival in Tel Aviv, Israel, last weekend.

In other news connected to the movie, leading man Craig Hall, who played the conflicted Captain Ben Grogan (and is pictured below during filiming with the film’s director, Paul Campion), has landed a plum role in Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT (one of the Elves apparently), so I guess that’s going to keep him busy for a while.

There is also good news for Craig, who’s a finalist in New Zealand’s Aotearoa Film & TV Awards for 2011, in the capacity of Best Supporting Actor for his performances in BLOODLINES, and for one of the movie’s crew-members, Phil Burton, who is up for Best Sound Design for his work on PANIC AT ROCK ISLAND. Good luck to both of those guys. They deserve it.

Meanwhile, the movie’s female star, Gina Varela, pictured right in the sort of pose which shows she can make just about any costume look good, is interviewed in depth along with Paul Campion in the latest edition of NEXUS.

This is a cracking read, and it's worth popping in to have a look.

Folk keep asking me if there will be a follow-up movie, THE DEVIL’S ROCK 2 by any chance? Well … would it be revealing too much to say that I’ve now received my first official set of preliminary notes regarding a possible sequel? I can’t say too much more about it, except that from what I see here, if it goes ahead, it will be a much bigger operation, with more chills, more action and more demons.

On the subject of follow-ups, I can also reveal that I’ve now officially commissioned the second in my TERROR TALES OF … series of anthologies, which are being published by GRAY FRIAR PRESS.

The first one, TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT, did astonishingly well very quickly. An unofficial launch at Fantasycon 2011 – an event attended by an almost unprecedented 500 delegates – provided a great platform for us of course, but the book can now be ordered via AMAZON UK and AMAZON US as well. And the sales are continuing at a healthy rate of knots.

In all honesty, though I’ve got great plans for this series of books, and though I’m a lover of horror stories inspired by folklore and local history, I always had it in the back of my mind that this entire plan was possibly a little over-ambitious. I certainly did not expect to be drawing up the second volume before Christmas, but I’m never one to look a gift-horse in the mouth.

The writers are all now on board, terms have been agreed, and the stories are being written. The cover, I’m told, is already on its way to completion. I hasten to add that the book won’t be published until 2012. You can’t afford to hurry these things too much – so for that reason I’m not going to reveal anything else about the book yet. In the homespun philosophy of my neck of the woods, a closed mouth gathers no foot.

However, just as a mischievous little taster, look at the picture below. if you can identify that room, then it’s likely you'll recollect the truly devilish deed that was done there. And that will tell you all you need to know about the region of Britain which the next book in the series will focus on.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Dark water, evil hags and misty mountains

I learned today that TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT, my first anthology as editor, which was published by GRAY FRIAR PRESS just over two weeks ago, is selling very well indeed.

This is great news, as we fully intend to continue with this series of ‘regional’ horror anthologies for as long as they are able to earn their keep, so thus far there are no complaints.

Needless to say, I’m delighted with some of the writers I’ve attracted to this first book in the series. Names like Adam Nevill, Reggie Oliver, Simon Clark, Ramsey Campbell, and others, ought to be dripping off the tongues of all true horror fans, and I’ve got some equally illustrious names now lining up for the next volume – but no, I’m not going to give anything away just yet (keep watching this space, though).

TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT is now available directly from AMAZON (UK and US), and for those still dithering about whether or not to buy, here – courtesy of the indefatigable Mark West, is a rather nice little YouTube trailer for the book – CHECK IT OUT.

If that doesn’t whet your appetites, what will?

Perhaps this rather nice comment passed on the amazing VAULT OF EVIL message board, one of the most informed 'horror anthology' forums currently online:

Where better to recuperate than the Lake District with its breathtaking views, idyllic villages, quaint customs, bracing fresh air, bone-crushing hags, petrified hikers, mobile monoliths, disquieting gummy ferrymen, ancient witchcraft, black sorcery, and more White Ladies of this or that lake than you can shake a stick at? Keep your wits about you, kids. You're in cagoule country now. They do things different 'round here …

Oh yeees. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

(With special thanks to 'Demonik' for that very cool quote).

Monday 10 October 2011

The sun, the sea and not-so-silent screams

Well, Fantasycon 2011 was as much of a blast as I expected it to be. It’s a torturous round-trip from Lancashire to Brighton, but it was well worth it for the sun, the beer and the multiple reunions with old friends.

Lasting memories will be the temperature (we were officially hotter on the Saturday than Saudi Arabia), the scorching curry Cath and I shared with Steve Lockley and artist Vinnie Chong, and John Llewellyn Probert and Thana Niveau’s amazing ‘pantomime’ rendition of BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW and the 1960s shocker, CORRUPTION. The striptease acts were also quite memorable – the girls were covered with Cthulhu tattoos so that meant it was a horror show rather than a display of sexist objectification (honest!); but I don’t care, I enjoyed it for both reasons.

In terms of official activities,THE DEVIL’S ROCK was screened in the ‘midnight movie’ slot on the Friday. In retrospect, this might not have been a great idea. The screening was well attended, but plenty of people were plastered and, having in many cases driven hundreds of miles to get there that day, were wilting at such a late hour. But the only alternative was an early evening slot on the Friday, and I wasn’t convinced that was ideal either as so many delegates would still be checking in. I handled the Q&A afterwards – and though there are some photos of this event, I haven’t received any yet, so you’ll just have to trust me that it actually happened.

Anyway, many thanks to all those who attended the movie, enjoyed it and asked intelligent questions afterwards, which was just about everyone who was in there.

There was some controversy surrounding the awards ceremony, but that’s been dealt with on other websites and at an official level now, so I won’t dredge up the details here. There was certainly nothing controversial about the results in the categories in which I had high hopes. I had one nomination – SPARROWHAWK – in the Best Novella category, but the prize went to Simon Clark’s HUMPTY’S BONES (pictured above), and two – WALKERS IN THE DARK and ONE MONSTER IS NOT ENOUGH – in the Best Collection category, but the prize went to Stephen King for FULL DARK, NO STARS. It’s certainly no shame to lose out to either of those giants of the genre - in fact it's an honour to be mentioned alongside them - and as Simon in particular is a good friend of mine, I reiterate the hearty congratulations I offered to him at the time. Simon is a worthy winner on any occasion.

I did have one minor success during the event. We unofficially launched TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT, my first anthology as editor, which was published a couple of weeks ago by Gray Friar Press, and it went down great guns. In fact, it sold so many copies in its first weekend (and this is before we even start placing it with Lake District booksellers) that we’ve now been encouraged to move rapidly onto the next volume.

Our long term plan is for this to extend into a full ‘regional’ TERROR TALES OF … series, concentrating initially on the UK, but maybe moving further afield in due course. During the convention I had a lots conversations with top writers whose work I’d like to include, and almost all were keen to get involved. So this is a space you’ll definitely need to keep watching with regard to developments.

I’m unashamed to mention that this idea been strongly influenced by the Fontana ‘Tales of Terror’ series edited by R. Chetwynd-Hayes (sometimes under a pseudonym) back in the 1970s, though most of those books reprinted a lot of existing (albeit little known) horror fiction.
I will be publishing some classic reprints in my series, but for the most part it will be new and original material. One clear similarity between the two series will be the anecdotal ‘true horror stories’ that I’ll be interspersing between the ‘made up’ stories. It’s a bit worrying, actually – you don’t have to dig very deeply into any region’s history of folklore, crime or the occult to find some very bizarre and disturbing events (as those who’ve now read TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT will hopefully attest).

One last item of news, unrelated to any of those which have gone above – my forthcoming short novella from Spectral Press, KING DEATH, has now provisionally sold out. I’m not sure whether that will be received as good news or bad news, but as it’s only officially released in December, I must, as the author, take it as a thumbs-up.

Whether it’s a timely thing to mention here or not, there has already been one online review for this story, on Good Reads. I won't go into too much detail because the whole review can be found HERE, but phrases like "terrific imagery", "excellent story" and "gripped from start to finish" are always music to a writer's ears.