Sunday 4 February 2024

By Heck! A few pics from my writing past

 A bit of a fun blogpost today. I thought I’d muck about with some AI picture-drawing software, to see what it made of a selection of books, stories and even plays from my back catalogue.

I should say straight off that I’m nervous about AI. I’m not sure which creative wouldn’t be. Clearly there are copyright issues and so on, not to mention widespread concerns about talented individuals finding themselves replaced by computer programmes. Quite clearly AI is now with us to stay, but for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, I can guarantee that none of these images, which rather than pulling them off the Net from various databases, I’ve requested from the app myself and purely for the purpose of having a bit of fun, will ever be used in any official capacity. 

I have very little to do these days with my own book covers, or the artwork that may accompany my stories in magazines and the like, but those I do, I will always seek from a human artist or illustrator.

Anyway, here we go. Those who read my stuff may recognise the above. It’s an AI interpretation of HECK, or rather DS Mark Heckenburg, the star of seven of my novels to date (and hopefully more to come). On seeing this, I couldn’t resist checking out what it made of a few other of my writing endeavours. 

I repeat that it’s just a bit of fun, this (none of these are going out in any form of publication). Here are twenty of my stories, books etc that I chose at random ...


The second novel in the WULFBURY CHRONICLES, sees Cerdic, the son of a Saxon earl captured after the disastrous battle of Hastings, turn the tables on his foes, by setting Norman against Viking, but at the same time adapting to the new medieval era that has now dawned in his homeland.


An investigative reporter looks into a series of violent attacks, all of whose perpetrators appear to match the descriptions of famous serial killers, many now dead. The trail finally leads him to an abandoned wax museum in a desolate seaside town. (Novella, first published in GROANING SHADOWS).


In the autumn of 1974, a bunch of kids in a coal-mining community in northern England are advised to stay indoors when a killer starts targeting the town’s youth, but one particularly intrepid group become convinced that this no normal murderer. (Novella, first published in WALKERS IN THE DARK).


A middle-aged English couple get lost in foul weather high in the Scottish mountains, finally seeking shelter in an abandoned tent, only to find that it houses three crude stone figures. Worried they desecrated some kind of shrine, they hurry away - but a fearsome pursuit now follows. (Short story, first published in THE SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR 2).

A female police detective in Manchester goes undercover to try and catch a deranged prostitute who has been sexually murdering her male clients, entering a more dangerous world that she could ever have imagined. The first novel in my LUCY CLAYBURN series, and a Sunday Times Top Ten read.


Two 1970s kids venture along a derelict stretch of railway line, searching for a hoard of discarded girlie mags. Both know about the legend that the revenant of a Victorian-era suicide still supposedly haunts the line, but they are too eager to get their hands on the good stuff. (Short story, first published in AFTER SUNDOWN).


Before the Northern Ireland peace process commences, an RUC detective pursues an IRA gunman out into the wilds of the west, and there, amid, an eerie fog, is drawn to a bizarre coastal hotel where almost nothing and no one is what they initially appear to be. (Short story, first published in HOUSES AT BORDERLANDS).


The Sixth Doctor and Peri arrive in what appears to be medieval England, only to find a village community living in terror of their local baron and a monstrous force out in the encircling greenwood, which lives only to punish all those who defy the Way’. (Full cast audio drama in Big Finish’s DR WHO: THE LOST STORIES season).


A folklorist searching out the origins of the Green Man legend visits a derelict priory in the Forest of Lune in northern England, only to find that he’s fallen foul of a couple of very dangerous hitchers. (Short story, first published in ALONE ON THE DARKSIDE, and winner of the International Horror Guild Award for 2007).


The Russian Front during World War Two. A frost-bitten German platoon escapes the fiery ruins of Stalingrad, fighting its way through the frozen wilderness and taking shelter in a mysterious log cabin, only to discover that it is vastly larger and more mysterious on the inside than the out. (Novella, first published in HOUSES ON THE BORDERLAND).


At the height of World War Two, a Greek archaeologist leads his Nazi-supporting brother into a deep cave system, where he claims to have uncovered something that will aid in the Axis war effort against the Allies. (Short story, first published in WORLD WAR CTHULHU).


In the 1840s, an embittered veteran of the Afghan War is released from the debtor’s prison and charged with standing guard over a house in a quiet corner of inner London for the duration of December. But as the cold weather descends, a supernatural evil is unleashed. (Novella, first published as a stand-alone).


A children’s novelist and secret Christmas skeptic is snowed into his rural cottage one frightful Christmas Eve, at which point he receives a very curious present: a life-size nutcracker soldier, clockwork of course, and with a devious mind of its own. (Short story, first published in THE CHRISTMAS YOU DESERVE).


While a lady police detective investigates a car that shouldn't exist and a terrible road accident which no one remembers happening, a once-famous racing driver finds himself at odds with evil organisation who’ll stop at nothing to get even with those who’ve defied them. (Stand alone novel).

THE DOOM (2010)

When, during the renovation of a village church, a medieval wall-painting is discovered, which portrays the most terrifying images of Hell ever conceived, visitors come from far and wide. But increasingly, they are a strange and scary breed. (Short story, first published in THE BLACK BOOK OF HORROR #6).


At the height of World War One, a travelling man finds himself marooned overnight on a remote country railway station. Only when it’s too late, the following morning in fact, does the station guard realise that he should never have left him there alone. (First published in THE STEAM RAILWAY NEWS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL).

STOLEN (2019)

Detective Constable Lucy Clayburn responds to the abductions of pets in the district by closing down a local dog-fighting ring. Only when the abductions continue does she wonder if she got the right people, especially as now it is humans who are being snatched off the streets. (Third novel in the Lucy Clayburn series).

CALIBOS (2005)

When a colossal ocean-going robot crab comes ashore, now under the control of an unknown force, a special forces squad infiltrates its interior to try and switch off its reactor, but first they must run a gauntlet of ruthless mechanical antibodies. (Short story, first published in DAIKAJU).


When he learns that his girlfriend’s wealthy but estranged mother is likely to die, a shallow chancer visits her isolated Norfolk home in order to make friends, but first must contend with the fiercely protective rocking horse that lurks in the attic. (Short story, first published in THE BLACK BOOK OF HORROR #10).


In ancient Britain, a Roman company charged with constructing a road through an area of misty fenland falls prey to a brutal band of flesh-eating ogres. (Short story, first published in PARADOX #7).