Thursday 18 October 2012

Some really wicked men are on their way!

It's been a couple of weeks since I've blogged, but not to fear ... after a several days of frantic running here and there, racing to meet deadlines, slogging through numerous proofs and corrections, having meetings and so on, a modicum of normality is at last returning.

That said, there isn't a great deal new to report this week, though there are updates of sorts. To begin with, the first three parts of my recent lengthy interview with ARMED WITH PENS, can be found here: PART ONE, PART TWO and PART THREE.

ARMED WITH PENS is an excellent resource website for writers and editor, to which I'm exceedingly grateful (I'm especially grateful to interviewer Dan Howarth) for giving me the opportunity to elaborate about myself and my work.

For those who haven't been following this blog, my career has taken a partial change of direction this last year. Though I tend to write a lot in the horror and fantasy fields, that isn't the whole story by any means, and my recent commission from Avon Books to produce a trilogy of crime novels, recalling as much as possible my own days as a cop in Manchester, has brought me into the sphere of the thriller crowd.

The three novels concern the investigations of Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, who is attached to Scotland Yard's elite Serial Crimes Unit, and they pitch him against various colourful but ultra-fiendish foes.

The first book, STALKERS, will be published next February, and concerns the hunt for 38 'Middle England' women, who have all inexplicably dropped from sight. The seedy underbellies of several UK cities are explored as Heck gets into the guts of Britain's criminal underworld to find some answers.

The second book in the series, the title of which has now been changed from DESECRATOR to SACRIFICE, is due for publication in July next year. I can't give too many details away about this one. Suffice to say that Heck is once again up to his ears in a gruesome, disturbing and baffling mystery. The new title, however, may give drop some clue as to what this one about.

The third book doesn't have a title yet, and cannot be discussed in any shape or form at this stage. So, sorry ... all I can say about that one is that you'll have to watch this space.

Anyway, as per my last entry, I've illustrated this blog with a few more memorable moments from the best in British crime drama, just to give you a flavour in advance of the atmosphere I'm aiming for Mark Heckenburg books.

(Top: defending hearth and home against a maniac, from STRAW DOGS, 1971. Middle: justice gangland style, from GET CARTER, 1971. And just above here: "The Mafia! I've shit 'em!", from THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, 1979).

On the horror front, meanwhile, things haven't been completely inactive at this end. I'm pleased to announce that the hardback versions of ENEMIES AT THE DOOR have arrived and I'm applying my signatures to them as we speak. To all those who've pre-ordered, they'll be dispatched forthwith. ENEMIES hasn't received any online reviews as yet, though the word of mouth seems, on the whole, to be good. Meanwhile, some of the stories in another recent publication of mine, TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA, which was launched at Fantasycon last September, have started to elicit responses.

Thus far, Deep Water by Chris Harman has been described as "a landmark reading experience", Alison Littlewood's Like Suffolk, Like Holidays "will become a classic", and of Roger Johnson's The Watchman, check out this comment: "There is something paradoxically warm and comfortable about fictionally exploring a country church (here a Suffolk one) despite horrors emerging regarding legends underlying its history ..."

And on that note, pictured right is the mysterious entrance to one such isolated church in rural Suffolk, compete with eerie Latin engravings on its ancient door, which I stumbled upon during my ramblings last summer.

Of course, that's only a handful of opinions regarding TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA. Pray, don't let them stop you from buying a copy and posting a few viewpoints of your own ; )

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Mad guys, bad guys and those on their trail

Well, after an enjoyable weekend dwelling in the realms of fantasy and horror down at Fantasycon in Brighton, it's back now to the reality of violent crime.

But a few quick words about the Con first. I didn't win the British Fantasy Award in the capacity of Best Short Story. Even though KING DEATH made the final nominations, for some reason it wasn't announced as a contender at the actual presentation, which left a few people - yours truly included - rather baffled. Though I have been assured that this discrepancy will be looked into.

Never fear, the disturbing images on this column are not supposed to be representative of my state of mind in the light of this (more about those later). I'm not bothered by it - some you win, some you lose - and in fact hearty congratulations go to all those who did win awards this year, especially my good pals, ADAM NEVILL (Best Novel) and ROB SHEARMAN (Best Short Fiction Collection).

And now, as I promised earlier, something a little different.

My latest KILLER READS blog is up and ready to read on the HarperCollins website. Get over there and check it out, why dontcha?

In it, I elaborate a little on my days in the Greater Manchester Police and explain as much as I'm able to in the space provided how this experience empowered me as a crime and thriller writer. The are one or two anecdotes on there which some people may find amusing, or maybe a little bit hair-raising depending on your position re. these matters (personally, I recollect them all fondly).

This is all in preparation for my new series of novels from Avon Books concerning the investigations of seasoned cop, Detective Sergeant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, who is attached to Scotland Yard's elite Serial Crimes Unit. The first of these books, STALKERS, is due out in February next year. On that note, I've recently completed the copy-edit for it and what a nerve-racking job that always is. It won't be the last time I get to see it, but when a page is passing through your hands and this time you know that you really are reaching the stage where you must spot anything you don't want to appear in the finished edition, it concentrates your mind wonderfully.

That said, I was very happy the way this near-final draft of the book read. STALKERS puts Heck on the trail of 38 women who have gone missing without explanation, and takes him through the dark, seedy underbellies of two of Britain's dirtiest and most dangerous cities, pitting him against various creeps and psychos, not to mention a plethora of organised crime characters, any one of whom would happily kick you to death if he thought he might gain.

A quick note in advance: though it contains as much authentic cop stuff as I could cram into it, STALKERS is neither a police procedural nor a clue-by-clue whodunnit of the sort we normally associate with Sunday evening TV. Expect horrible murders, tough action and uncompromising language all the way through. Even if I say so myself, it's more in the dark, violent vein of GET CARTER!, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and SE7EN. Lavish self-praise perhaps - so I should maybe qualify that statement by saying that this, at least, is what I'm striving for. Ultimately, you folks out there must decide whether or not I've succeeded.

In celebration of the tone the Mark Heckenburg books will adopt, I've illustrated this piece with some memorably chilling moments from the best of British violent crime drama: At the top VILLAIN (1971); below that THE SWEENEY (1974) and third down, the crazy sledgehammer killer from one of my own episodes of THE BILL: PROTECT AND SURVIVE (2001).