Sunday 20 January 2013

Buy now and get STALKERS for only 99p

Anyone interested in buying my debut crime novel, STALKERS, can currently buy the electronic version for just 99p - though this special offer is available for a limited time only. If you're interested, just follow the link.

The above image shows me posing proudly with two of my hot-off-the-press author copies of the paperback; that's currently available for pre-order, but won't actually be published until February 14th, Valentine's Day.

Go on, I dare you ... treat the bloke or bird in your life to a heart-stopping crime caper filled with blood, terror and urban mayhem. How romantic would that be?

Still not convinced? Well, here's a brief snippet:

McCulkin laced his tattooed, nicotine-stained fingers in a tight, tense ball. ‘There are red flags all over this, Mr. Heckenburg. Any time it comes up in conversation, it’s like “you don’t talk about this”, or “do not even go there”.’

‘That’s Halloween stuff, Pat. It’s designed to stop people asking questions.’

‘Look, these people are bad news.’

‘And I’m not?’ Heck leaned forward. ‘These bastards are going to find out different. Now you tell me every single thing you know.’

‘You really going to spread it that I’m a snitch?’

‘Just watch me.'

Still not convinced ... well, the first review on Amazon gives it five stars. Read it HERE. Or check it out below, in full:

I was sent a copy of STALKERS for review by the publisher and loved it from page one. Paul Finch is a master of suspense, and he had me on the edge of my seat from the very first chapter.

Following a gang who kidnap women on demand for their clients, this is a tense cat and mouse chase between a gang so dangerous that no one dare mention their name, and a rough around the edges cop, Detective Mark 'Heck' Heckenberg. This is Heck's show, but he's joined by a great cast of supporting characters - including, refreshingly, a host of strong and very ballsy women - and some seriously distasteful baddies.

As I understand it, Paul Finch used to be a scriptwriter by trade and this shines through. The action is endlessly compelling, mixing up hard-nosed sleuthing and intelligent detective work with fast-paced fight scenes that are so vivid they may as well be happening right in front of your face. I don't want to give away anything here, but the fight with Deke is a scene I will never be able to forget. Paul is also a horror writer of some renown, and he certainly knows how to kill his victims. But there's nothing gratuitous in his violence, and whilst occasionally bloody, his murder scenes weren't too hard to stomach, and will satisfy both hardened crime fans and newbies to the genre.

Overall, this is a thrilling, unforgettable read from a fantastic new writer on the crime and thriller scene. I will be recommending Paul Finch wherever I go and I can't wait to get my hands on the next in the series in just a few months' time. I could easily see this book taking to the small screen, so if there are any TV producers out there, I hope they're watching Paul Finch closely, as I am in no doubt that he's a star of the future.

If I have any advice to you it's READ THIS BOOK!

(With thanks to the publisher Avon for providing a review copy.)

On a not entirely different matter, it's been quite a decent week for good reviews all round. Everyone in the UK's favourite horror mag, BLACK STATIC, has now got around to checking out my last collection of horror stories, ENEMIES AT THE DOOR, and the most recent volume in my round-Britain anthology series, TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA.

With regard to the former, stories selected for special praise include: SLAYGROUND, which is described as "hugely enjoyable, with Finch ably counterpointing violent fire fights with the cheery camaraderie of men in arms and a final note that pulls the carpet out form under the characters' feet"; THE FAERIE, assessed as "a particular delight", WE, WHO LIVE IN THE WOOD, which "wonderfully builds its atmosphere of menace, escalating effects and mounting the tension", and DADDY WAS A SPACE-ALIEN, which is "a barbed satire of sensationalist tabloid reportage, made all the more apposite in the wake of Levenson".

For the latter, DEEP WATER by Christopher Harman, SHUCK by Simon Bestwick, LIKE SUFFOLK, LIKE HOLIDAYS by Alison Littlewood, ALDEBURGH by Johnny Mains and THE SPOOKS OF SHELLBOROUGH by Reggie Oliver are all underscored as notable highlights.

However, a question-mark is apparently raised against TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA in terms of the various authors' credentials when it comes to knowing that part of the realm - simply because quite a few of them, my good self included, are not natives.

Well ... ahem - and of course I can only speak for myself in this regard - I know East Anglia pretty darn well, having travelled its length and breadth, and having stayed there with relatives many, many times - so there! And to prove it, the picture above was taken of me outside the infamous cell in Colchester in which Matthew Hopkins, the dreaded 'Witchfinder General' interrogated so many of his unfortunate prisoners.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Feasts of blood on the best days of the year

Much sooner than I expected, I'm here able to showcase the new cover for SACRIFICE, the second book in the Mark Heckenburg series, my new trio of cop novels out from Avon Books (HarperCollins imprint) later this year.

This image is possibly a work in progress rather than the finished article, but Avon always seem very happy to get the news out at the earliest possible opportunity, so who am I to disappoint?

It's a lurid image, for sure ... but it nicely captures the horrific circumstances within the book. In a nutshell, SACRIFICE, which is the second adventure to date of Detective Sergant Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg, tells the tale of a truly bizarre and complex homicide investigation, which results when an unknown maniac (or maybe a group of maniacs!) commence a series of truly atrocious ritual murders.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Check the blurb accompanying the book:

One man blocked into a chimney alive at Christmas. Two lovers shot through the heart on Valentine’s Day. Three victims crucified at Easter.

A twisted and vicious serial killer is holding the country to ransom, publicly – and gruesomely – murdering his victims. The pattern is clear: a ‘calendar killer’ is on the loose.

On the case is Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg, and he knows one thing for certain: when the killer will strike next. But he doesn’t know where and he doesn’t know how.

With the country’s eyes on him, Heck must find the killer before he executes more victims ... but is is the killer who is watching him most closely of all.

A heart-stopping and bloody thriller that will enthral fans of Stuart MacBride and Katia Lief.

As I say, this book is only out July 4th this year, so make that a date in your diaries (though be wary of those special dates ... at least as long as certain unknown menace is still prowling the streets, looking to celebrate them in graphic, gruesome fashion).

As I say, it's available for pre-order much sooner than I expected, but I can't say I'm not delighted about that. When I look at it online, it sits rather nicely alongside STALKERS, the first in the Mark Heckenburg series, the ebook version of which is available for 99p from January 17th this year - that's right, folks, next week! - and which was described by THE BOOKSELLER as: "Really terrific, compulsive stuff."

Those who prefer a bedroom filled with groaning bookshelves will need to wait just a little longer; the paperback version of STALKERS is due for publication on February 14th.

In slightly different news, I've this week been green-lit to write the script for my first ever graphic novel. It's called WAR-WOLF, and it's an adaptation of my novella, HELL-HAMMER, a dramatised account of a 9th century Viking invasion of eastern England, which degenerates into a near apocalypse as the natives resist with everything they've got. The original tale contains lots and lots of violence, plus lots of Norse demonology - this is war between gods as well as men - and thus far everyone seems pretty certain it will transpose neatly into comic book form (though some of the sex scenes may need to be toned down a bit, LOL).

Those who've followed my output over the years will know that I'm no stranger to writing Viking age sagas. Back in 2004, Sarob Press published two novellas of mine - THE BLOOD MONTH and TWILIGHT IN THE ORM-GARTH, in the aptly titled collection, DARKER AGES (you don't get any cheerful fiction on here). Sadly, that book is long out of print, but the two stories, which, if memory serves, are a good 25,000 to 30,000 words each, can be found in MEDI-EVIL 1 and MEDI-EVIL 2 respectively, both still available as ebooks.

THE BLOOD MONTH, set in 1030 AD, tells the tale of two Viking brothers, both newly Christianised and fleeing the vengeance of their pagan brethren. They hole up in their uncle's remote homestead on the frozen northwest coast of Greenland, only to find the local community under attack by an unknown entity, which seems to thrive in the permanent bitter darkness of the Arctic midwinter.

TWILIGHT IN THE ORM-GARTH is set 40 years later, in 1070, and concerns a Norman warlord's quarrelsome family, who hold a grand reunion in a their recently built castle, Wulfbury, in northeast England - when their constant bickering is interrupted by news that a Viking fleet is scouring the coast, seeking ingress, and that their new king, William the Conqueror, who doesn't trust them not to make a deal with the Danes, is sending a monstrous guardian - a malevolent horror from the mists of time, called the Korred - to both guard and terrorise them during this period of crisis.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Those tales of terror just keep on coming

Well ... it seems that the world didn't end in December 2012 after all, and most of us made it through to 2013.

So Happy New Year on that score.

Will it be a good one? I suppose that remains to be seen. Do you, for example, determine 'good' by its potential to transform you into a multi-millionaire, or simply by the quality of the books you read (and/or write) and the movies and TV shows you watch (and/or script)? If it's the latter, I suspect you have less chance of being disappointed. But of course it's early days on both of these counts.

The New Year started in reasonably buoyant fashion in this neck of the woods when my attention was drawn to this rather splendid review of TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA, which came courtesy of DARKLING TALES.

Follow the link for the full details, but I've snipped out the following nice extracts:

"All in all a really good collection!"

"Finch does a super job of reflecting all the different glories and mysteries of East Anglia."

"Terror Tales of East Anglia deserves a place on the shelf of anyone even faintly interested in horror."

The reviewer, Joy Silence, congratulates me for exploring the wide variety of East Anglian scariness, but also points to the collection having a decidedly 'antiquarian' feel. I can't really deny this. East Anglia is the location for many of M.R. James's classic spook stories, and it was that Jamesian atmosphere of bleak landscapes, ancient monuments, rural myths, scholarliness and supernatural evil that I was specifically looking for when I sent my invitations out.

It's been a source of some minor controversy that I don't thrown these TERROR TALES anthologies open to all writers. There are two main reasons behind this: firstly, because the limitations of time prevent any chance of my wading through a huge slush-pool of submissions; but secondly and mainly, because, as I mentioned before, it's always my intention to create a certain kind of book. Maybe that's down to me being a writer myself, but I always know what kind of anthology I want to develop before I set out to do it. Even with my editor's hat on, I doubt I could ever put together an anthology entirely on the basis of hitting the green light and then sitting back and seeing what the fates throw at me.

That said, it is my aim to use as many different authors as possible in this series, so the line-up will be different with each new collection (though obviously there will be some cross-overs), and those who haven't had a go yet will get one in the near future.

Perhaps this is better illustrated by the next book in the line, TERROR TALES OF LONDON, which is due out around Easter, but for which the final table of contents has at last been established. Suffice to say that there'll be fewer 'antiquarian' outings in this one and distinctly less of that 'pleasing terror' that seemed to earmark TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA. In this case we're going more for the urban jugular, and in proof, I'm going to break my own rule and give you an exclusive right now - a list of the contributors (though at this early stage no story titles or order of publication can be revealed):

Christopher Fowler; Barbara Roden; Nicholas Royle; Gary Fry; Marie O'Regan; Anna Taborska; Mark Morris; Jonathan Oliver; David Howe; Nina Allan; Adam Nevill; Roger Johnson; Rosalie Parker.

How does that little lot grab you? (Hopefully by the gonads).

In addition, there will be the usual plethora of short, anecdotal essays contributed by my good self, each one concentrating on a different aspect of allegedly true London horror phenomena. Again, no further details will be given yet (am I a tease, or what?), but some of you might recognise the various locations pictured in this column, and must draw your own conclusions about places and venues.

They are, topside: an antiquarian bookshop (oh drat, that 'A word' again) in London's fashionable West End - feel free to ignore the dimwit posing next to it; further down, a prison which even in Dickensian times gave lessons in hellishness; and near the bottom, London's most famous cemetery, now overgrown and derelict because it is long disused - and with very good reason (picture by Michael Reeve).

That's all at present. It's the usual thing: keep watching this space for much more info about these and other projects. With luck, it will be coming thicker and faster than ever in 2013.