Monday 24 September 2012

New collection: ENEMIES AT THE DOOR

Very pleased to announce that a new collection of my novellas and short stories is now available to purchase.

ENEMIES AT THE DOOR comes to you courtesy of the tireless GRAY FRIAR PRESS, and is the 12th collection of my short horror fiction that has been published to date. It contains a combination of brand new material and timely reprints, and is available in either hardback – signed copies and all that stuff – or paperback.

For those who will be in attendance, the paperbacks will be available to buy at FANTASYCON in Brighton at the end of this week, while the hardcovers will be out in early October.

Also check out the amazing cover. That is entirely the work of my daughter, Eleanor Finch, a skilled graphic designer and photographer who at some point in the near future will have her own website up and running and will be available for commissions.

As some of you will almost certainly have a yearning to know more, here is the table of contents, with a tiny bit of tantalising detail for each entry:

When …: A pastoral care worker learns the limits of his power when he tries to counsel a disturbed but mysterious schoolboy …

Slayground: An elite police firearms team is set on the trail of an apparently crazed gunman, but this opponent is a far cry from anything they’ve experienced before …

Those They Left Behind: On the 40th anniversary of her son’s execution, elderly Mrs. Dawkins alarms her home-help by taking in a lodger whom nobody ever sees …

We, Who Live In The Wood: A hotshot TV producer takes his depressed wife to a remote cottage on Dartmoor, but has no idea how close it is to Wistman’s Wood, home of the legendary Yeth Hounds …

The Faerie: Henpecked Arthur leaves home with his baby daughter, but his attempts to cross the Peak District falter in a furious blizzard. The duo take refuge in a lonely house, where they are are hosted by a seemingly perfect woman …

Daddy Was A Space Alien: The gutter press come unstuck when they pursue a fallacious article about the hybrid offspring of Earth women raped by aliens …

The Doom: Money-mad Rev. Bilks can’t believe his luck when his country church is renovated and a medieval wall-painting is uncovered depicting the horrors of Hell. But for his wife Pamela it’s all a bit too realistic …

Blessed Katie: Upwardly mobile Maddie returns to the slum terrace where she was born, now a fashionably remodelled townhouse. Everything has changed beyond recognition but one particularly eerie memory won’t go away …

Elderly Lady, Lives Alone: Chockton is a sadistic burglar who likes to beat up little old ladies. The next one he targets lives alone on an otherwise abandoned housing estate. What could go wrong?

The Ditch: Prostitute and police informer Nicolette faces dire peril when two gangland thugs throw her down into a derelict stretch of the London Underground. It doesn’t comfort her that this was once the place where King Canute fed his enemies to savage dogs …

The Poppet: Oxford undergrad Richard is amused by the faceless doll he buys for his sister’s birthday. Whatever happens, he is told, he must never draw a face on it. Richard doesn’t. But what about the friend he recently betrayed?

Enemies At The Door: A brain-damaged war veteran lives a contented life with his long-term girlfriend, but everything changes when he finds a strange door in his office which he has never noticed before …

Friday 21 September 2012

Terror Tales of East Anglia ready to order!

Well, here we go again ...

I can officially announce that the third volume in my series of 'regional' horror anthologies, TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA, is now available to pre-order direct from its publisher, GRAY FRIAR PRESS, to be unleashed on the world in the next week or so, with copies available to purchase at FANTASYCON at the end of this month.

With any luck, those of you who enjoyed the first two volumes in this series, TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT, and TERROR TALES OF THE COTSWOLDS will already be on board and eagerly placing your order, but for those who haven't yet read the first two books, or maybe who don't know Britain too well, this anthology is set exclusively in East Anglia, a vast ancient landscape in south-eastern England, very rural in atmosphere, very flat and very marshy - it was always said that in the days when gibbets were erected at crossroads, those in East Anglia (and their grisly burdens) could be seen for miles in every direction.

East Anglia also incorporates the legendary English 'fen country' - thousand of acres of winding, mist-shrouded waterways, and has its own unique and mysterious folklore, not to mention a long tradition of battles, murders, witch-hunts and ghost stories of the most eerie variety (East Anglia, of course, was the preferred stamping-ground of one Montague Rhodes James). But never mind all this expostulation. Time for me to zip it and let the back cover blurb do the talking:

East Anglia – a drear, flat land of fens and broads, lone gibbets and isolated cottages, where demon dogs howl in the night, witches and warlocks lurk at every crossroads, and corpse-candles burn in the marshland mist …

The giggling horror of Dagworth
The wandering torso of Happisburgh
The vile apparitions at Wicken
The slavering beast of Rendlesham
The faceless evil on Wallasea
The killer hounds of Southery
The dark guardian of Wandlebury

And many more chilling tales by Alison Littlewood, Reggie Oliver, Roger Johnson, Steve Duffy and other award-winning masters and mistresses of the macabre.

The book contains ten works of original horror fiction set in East Anglia, and three classic reprints. It also features the usual anecdotal tales concerning supposedly true incidents of East Anglian terror.

In case your appetites haven’t been whetted enough, here is the full table of contents:

Loose by Paul Meloy & Gary Greenwood
The Most Haunted House in England
Deep Water by Christopher Harman
Murder in the Red Barn
The Watchman by Roger Johnson
The Woman in Brown
Shuck by Simon Bestwick
The Witchfinder-General
The Marsh Warden by Steve Duffy
Beware the Lantern Man!
The Fall of the King of Babylon by Mark Valentine
The Weird in the Wood
Double Space by Gary Fry
The Dagworth Mystery
Wicken Fen by Paul Finch
Boiled Alive
Wolferton Hall by James Doig
The Wandering Torso
Aldeburgh by Johnny Mains
The Killer Hounds of Southery
Like Suffolk, Like Holidays by Alison Littlewood
The Demon of Wallasea Island
The Little Wooden Box by Edward Pearce
The Dark Guardian of Wandlebury
The Spooks of Shellborough by Reggie Oliver

Once again, I wholeheartedly thank these authors for their efforts, not to mention STEVE UPHAM, whose artwork propels any project he's connected with into new realms of horror, and Gary Fry of GRAY FRIAR PRESS, without whom none of this would have been possible. (As a footnote, the book will be also be available from most good online retailers, AMAZON UK and AMAZON US for example, in a few weeks' time).

Well, what are you all waiting for ... get in there!

Thursday 20 September 2012

Quartet of horror as the Con approacheth

Well … FANTASYCON is fast approaching – in fact it’s only seven days away – to be hosted in Brighton at the Royal Albion Hotel. Veterans of the Con will know that it always presents a great opportunity to pick up all the latest books, and to get them signed by those authors and editors who happen to be there in person (and that’s usually most of them).

I myself am fortunate enough to have two new books at the Con this year: TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA, which I’ve edited, and ENEMIES AT THE DOOR, which is latest collection of my own short fiction. (Links, artwork, TOCs and so forth, will appear on this blog in the next couple of days – keep checking back). But short stories of mine will also be appearing in four other anthologies due for launch in Brighton:

The 9th BLACK BOOK OF HORROR is the 9th in the series of the same name (well, obviously), and is basically the latest chapter in editor Charles Black’s amazing endeavour to recreate the style and atmosphere of the old Pan and Fontana series of horror anthologies, rebooted for the modern age.

The BLACK BOOKS OF HORROR have premiered some exceptional horror stories to date, Minos Or Rhadamanthus (by Reggie Oliver), Two For Dinner (by John Llewellyn Probert) and Schrodinger’s Human (by Anna Taborska) having already earned themselves a cult status similar to that enjoyed by such Pan classics as Belvedere’s Bride (by Jane Gregory) and It Came To Dinner (by R. Chetwynd-Hayes).

I haven’t read any of this latest installment in the series yet, but the cover, as always, is a delight – thanks to artist Paul Mudie (as displayed above), and the TOC, which follows, ought to make anyone grab this book off the shelves at the first opportunity:

The Anatomy Lesson by John Llewellyn Probert
The Mall by Craig Herbertson
Salvaje by Simon Bestwick
Pet by Gary Fry
Ashes To Ashes by David Williamson
The Apprentice by Anna Taborska
Life Expectancy by Sam Dawson
What’s Behind You? by Paul Finch
Ben’s Best Friend by Gary Power
The Things That Aren’t There by Thana Niveau
Bit On The Side by Tom Johnstone
Indecent Behaviour by Marion Pitman
His Family by Kate Farrell
A Song, A Silence by John Forth
The Man Who Hated Waste by Marc Lyth
Swan Song by David A. Riley

The next book in which I’ll feature at the Con marks my second appearance this year in a PS publication. For those not in the know, PS PUBLICATIONS, helmed by a writer of no small repute himself, Peter Crowther, also focus on horror, fantasy and science fiction, but pride themselves on truly beautiful products: exquisite hardcover collectables, engraved slipcased editions and so forth.

A CARNIVALE OF HORROR looks like being a particularly interesting addition to their list. It is yet another anthology edited by that indefatiguable duo, Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan, and it tells disturbing stories centred around the circus and the fairground. The cover, as you can see here, comes to us from Ben Baldwin, and is very special indeed.

No less impressive, in my humble opinion, is the TOC, as follows:

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
A Flat Patch of Grass by Muriel Gray
Some Children Wander By Mistake by John Connolly
Spurs (AKA Freaks) by Tod Robbins
Tiger, Tiger by Rio Youers
Blind Voices by Tom Reamy
Mister Magister by Thomas F. Monteleone
Twittering From The Circus of The Dead by Joe Hill
The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott
Face of The Circus by Lou Morgan
Escardy Gap by Peter Crowther & James Lovegrove
The Circus of Dr Lao by Charles Finney
In The Forest of The Night by Paul Finch
All The Clowns in Clowntown by Andrew McKiernan
Nine Letters About Spit by Robert Shearman
To Run Away and Join The Circus by Alison Littlewood

Next up we have the SCREAMING BOOK OF HORROR, edited by Johnny Mains, another grafter in the genre who has great ambitions to resurrect the golden age of the horror anthology. As such, this one could be a simple one-off or may prove to be the start of something incredibly exciting in terms of an ongoing series (Johnny sounded undecided when I last spoke to him). Its unmissable cover comes to us courtesy of STEVE UPHAM and, once again, it boasts an amazing line-up of talent in its TOC. Check ’em out:

Christenings Can Be Dangerous by John Llewellyn Probert
Larva by John Brunner
The Swarm by Alison Littlewood
Natural Selection by Robin Ince
One of the Family by Bernard Taylor
Cut! by Anna Taborska
The Christmas Toys by Paul Finch
The Quixote Candidate by Rhys Hughes
Helping Mummy by Kate Farell
The City of Plenty by Alex Miles
The Iron Cross by Craig Herbertson
Sometimes You Think You Are Alone by Alison Moore
Bird Doll by Claire Massey
What Shall We Do About Barker? by Reggie Oliver
Old Grudge Ender by David A. Riley
Jack and Jill by Steve Rasnic Tem
The Blackshore Dreamer by John Burke
Imagination by Christopher Fowler
The Baby Trap by Janine Wood
The Tip Run by Johnny Mains
Dementia by Charlie Higson

Last but not least – not by any means least (this one is likely to be one of the biggest of the year) is ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: FIGHTBACK!, edited by STEPHEN JONES, which forms a sequel to ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!, the massive hit of 2010 – and who knows, it may actually end up being part two of a dedicated trilogy.

The first book – which was really a mosaic novel rather than an anthology – detailed the eruption of a zombie plague in London when demolition workers inadvertently opened the guts of a medieval church. Black magic and deranged science interwove to provide the explanation for what, in the opinion of many reviewers, was the most vividly and realistically portrayed ‘dead men walking’ cataclysm to date. A number of writers were involved, yours truly included, several of which make their mark again in this second book in the series. Check out these contributors, and admit that you can’t afford to miss it:

Tabloid Tales by Jo Fletcher
From Prof Margaret Winn by Christopher Fowler
From Simon Wesley #1 by Christopher Fowler
Lord Of The Fleas by Reggie Oliver
The Hobbs End Horror by Jo Fletcher
From Simon Wesley #2 by Christopher Fowler
Hard News by Jo Fletcher
Morphogenesis by Brian Hodge
Dead Air by Paul Finch
Consent Form by Amanda Foubister
From Simon Wesley #3 by Christopher Fowler
The Well Of Seven by Christopher Fowler
From Simon Wesley by Christopher Fowler
Paris When It Sizzles by Anne Billson
Pages From A British Army Field Manual by Guy Adams
Peace Land Blood by Sarah Pinborough
Zz Experiment Camp by John Llewellyn Probert
Down Among The Dead Men by Neil Gaiman & Les Edwards
#zombey by Simon Strantzas
Rendition by Paul Mcauley
Fright Club by Brian Hodge
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #1 by Peter Crowther
In The Cloud by Pat Cadigan
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #2 by Peter Crowther
Corpse Gas by Peter Crowther
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #3 by Peter Crowther
Getting It Right by Michael Marshall Smith
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #4 by Peter Crowther
A Shamble Of Zombies by Roz Kaveney
Day Of The Dead by Lisa Morton
To Serve Man by Amanda Foubister
You Are What You Eat by Peter Atkins
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #5 by Peter Crowther
The Play’s The Thing by Robert Shearman
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #6 by Peter Crowther
Island Life by Lisa Tuttle
The World According To Bernie Maughmstein #7 by Peter Crowther
My Fellow Americans by Nancy Holder

Wednesday 12 September 2012

New Who, Hollywood horror, harsh words

I had a pleasant surprise this week when the paperback version of HUNTER’S MOON, my Dr Who novel of 2011, arrived as part of a neat little box-set from BBC Books – the official ‘2013 Collection’.

Also included in the package is THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS by Uma McCormack and DEAD OF WINTER by James Goss. Both are an excellent read, and provide two other very good reasons why folk should invest in this product.

My tale, HUNTER’S MOON, takes the Doctor (the 11th of that name), Rory and Amy to a futuristic space platform where the workers of an intergalactic industrial confederation let their hair down. This really is the party to end all parties – there is much drinking, much riotous behaviour in various space-age fleshpots and much mixing of gamblers and villains with socialites and celebrities. But it’s also a place were you really don’t want to step on the wrong set of toes. To cut a long story short, Rory gets kidnapped by a brutal crime-lord, Amy gets a job as a skimpily-clad waitress and the Doctor, having impersonated a vicious bounty hunter, finds himself embroiled in a violent game of death …

Just in case that doesn’t whet your whistles sufficiently, here are some of the nice things that have been written about it online:
In a story full of excitement and adventure, the Doctor is pushed to the limits of his survival and cunning. With Amy forced to wear a skintight cat-suit, this would make a brilliant episode for TV …
To quote the Doctor, how cool is that.
This was very different from any Dr. Who novelisations and I think that’s what made it a very good read. It was gory and rough and that’s something you don’t see much with Dr. Who. This seems like it would’ve fit in the Old School Who, but also in the Moffat era with all of the different monsters …
Sounds like a man after my own heart.
I was very impressed with Hunter's Moon probably because the way the story was told it felt like something like the events described could happen. An ex-policeman, his wife and child are kidnapped and transported to an alien world where they are forced to endure horrific confrontations. The whole concept sent shivers down my spine. The Doctor, Amy and Rory always get out of scrapes – but here was a group of humans facing something that could only be experienced in nightmares! Well done, Paul Finch – love to see this book turned into a TV adventure ... or would I? Other authors of Doctor Who novels could learn a lot from Mr Finch ... in fact, so could the television production team! Highly recommended!
Wahaaay to the last one, or what? But now – boos-hisss! – the brickbats:
This is very much a hybrid of 1980s style Doctor Who (an interesting mix of late Davison/late McCoy era tropes & characteristics). It’s rather light on plot originality, and Amy is under-used ... but it’s full of great action writing. A superficially enjoyable read, but not quite as memorable as it could have been.
Don’t worry, if you want blood, you’re going to get it …
Not my favourite Doctor Who tie-in book, a bit too much gritty sci-fi action and not enough fun timey-wimey and character interaction for me. Didn’t really feel like an episode of Doctor Who – more like a questionnable post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie that might feature Keanu Reeves or someone equally awful …
Ouch! But if you thought I’d got off lightly so far, check this one out …
It is my dearest hope that Paul Finch will never write a Doctor Who novel ever again. I have a deep feeling that to gather information in preparation to write this novel, he sat down one night, watched a couple of episodes of Classic Who, and afterwards watched about thirty seconds of an New Who, most likely a clip in which the 11th Doctor portrayed as Matt Smith, says something is cool.
Ah well, you can’t please them all. But as they say, those who can write, do, and those who can’t … well, let’s not go there. No sense giving credence to the theory that bitchiness is catching (that would be no good for my street-cred). Suffice to say that I’ve apparently really offended someone by making Rory into an action-hero and Amy into a captive. Probably best not to ponder that for too long.

Anyway, on a happier note, I can report this week that Canadian sales agent, Raven Banner, have signed on the dotted line for DARK HOLLOW, and that the movie – which director Paul Campion and I scripted at least a couple of years ago now, and have revised several times since – is at last slated for production next year.

DARK HOLLOW is, of course, a film adaptation of Briane Keene’s superb horror novel of the same name. Raven Banner, who are regarded as genre specialists, picked up the world sales rights after it was pitched recently at the Fantasia co-production market in Montreal.

More details can be found here on the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

To celebrate, above and below are a couple more shots of the eerie New Forest locations that we scouted for the movie earlier this year.