Joseph D’Lacey Interview ................................................................................................................................ ................................ .................................................................. 2 AMONG OTHERS By Jo Walton ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ...................................................... 5 AGE OF VOODOO By James Lovegrove ................................................................................................ ................................ ......................................................................... 5 SUN BLEACHED WINTER By D. Robert Grixti ................................................................................................ ............................................................. 6 MALICE By John Gwynne ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ................................................................ 6 DESOLATE 2 – EXPOSURE By Robert Brumm Jr ................................................................................................ .......................................................... 7 TALES FROM EARTHSEA ................................................................................................................................ ................................ .............................................................. 7 NEXUS By Ramez Naam ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ................................................................... 8 Gareth L. Powell Interview................................ ................................................................................................................................ ............................................................... 10 CHILD’S PLAY ................................................................ ................................................................................................................................ ............................................... 14 THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE By James Renner ................................................................................................ ............................................... 15 Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones Marshall ................................................................................................ ............................................... 15 LONDON FALLING By Paul Cornell ................................................................................................ ................................ ............................................................................. 17 Interview with Gormo and Annie Gloom ................................................................................................ ................................ ......................................................................... 19 James Lovegrove Interview ................................................................................................................................ ................................ .............................................................. 24 ACK-ACK K MACAQUE By Gareth L. Powell ................................................................................................ ................................................................. 29 THE WAY OF THE LEAVES By David Tallerman ................................................................................................ ....................................................... 31 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012) ................................................................................................ ................................ ............................................................................ 31 DREDD 3D................................................................ ................................................................................................................................ ....................................................... 31 14 By Peter Clines ................................................................ ................................................................................................ ............................................................................ 32 “TREVOR VS …” BRITTNEY SCALF: Remakes vs. Originals By Trevor Wright ................................ ...................................................................... 34 “TREVOR VS …”BRITTNEY SCALF: Remakes emakes vs. Originals By Brittney Scalf ................................ ........................................................................ 35 BLACK FEATHERS By Joseph D’Lacey ................................................................................................ ................................ ....................................................................... 36 THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND AND LED THE REVELS THERE By Chatherynne M. Valente ................. 37 SHADOWS IN INK (VOLUME 1) By George A. Turner ................................................................................................ ............................................... 37 BLOOD FUGUE By Joseph D’Lacey ................................................................................................ ................................ .............................................................................. 37 LEGENDS OF URBAN HORROR: A FRIEND OF A FRIEND TOLD ME Edited By Gloria Bobrowicz ................................... 38 THE MANY-COLOURED COLOURED LAND By Julian May ................................................................................................ .......................................................... 38 The Power of Nostalgia By Jim Lesniak................................ ................................................................................................ ........................................................................... 40 THE WAY OF THE LEAVES By David Tallerman ................................................................................................ ....................................................... 43 Stephen Volk Interview ................................................................ ................................................................................................ .................................................................... 45 THE HAUNTING OF WHALEY HOUSE (2012)................................................................................................ (2012) ........................................................... 49 DANGEROUS GIFTS By Gaie Sebold................................ ................................................................................................ ............................................................................ 49 Jocelyn Rose Interview ................................................................ ................................................................................................ ..................................................................... 51
Edited By Stanley Riiks. Written By Adrian Brady, Brady Jim Lesniak, Simon Marshall--Jones, Stanley Riiks, C.M. Saunders, Brittney Scalf, Brett Taylor , J.S. Watts, Trevor Wright. Proof-read By Sheri White, Samuel Diamond. © Morpheus Tales April 2013 201
www.morpheustales.com The Crowman go back to my childhood, coincidentally when I was about fourteen. An art project with three crows perching in a dead tree at sunset was what kicked it all off. It began my fascination with all the birds in the Corvid family – maligned creatures that are, in reality, highly intelligent as well as beautiful and mysterious.
Joseph D’Lacey Interview Your latest book is Black Feathers, the first in a duology. Tell us about Black Feathers, why the story is too big for one book, and how it came about. Black Feathers follows the life and death struggles of two 14-year-old protagonists in two separate eras:
It was in my late twenties that I began to understand the positive influence the natural world could exert over me, over anyone. It’s a bit like having a very patient teacher that’s always there for you when you have questions.
In the very near future, Gordon Black – in an attempt to prevent an environmental apocalypse – must seek out the mysterious Crowman, who holds the secret to Earth’s future. Many generations after Gordon’s quest is over, in a supposedly more peaceful age, young Megan Maurice must rediscover the story of The Crowman to save the world again. But is The Crowman really for the good or is he, as many people believe, the final incarnation of evil? The duology explores our broken relationship with the land. Book I: Black Feathers takes our youngsters from innocence and weakness into knowledge and power.
The eco-themes do appear to be an ongoing feature of my work. They’re not forced or anything, but they do reflect my concerns, and writing the books helps me to fully explore the themes for myself. I’m often challenged on having agendas and messages but I don’t really have messages for anyone but myself. I’m an entertainer, first and foremost. A storyteller. But if my stories have a deeper or longer effect because of their themes, I’ll only ever be delighted.
The novel was over 250K when I submitted it to Angry Robot. It was their suggestion we split the book, and I was more than happy to do so. It makes for a much better read now.
Cornering the market? Not my intention but I won’t complain if it ever happens! After Garbage Man was published there was a brief quiet period, what happened? Brief? That was the three years I spent in author hell, you’re talking about.
Having had many experiences in which the natural world has acted as my guide, this novel was the logical next step for me. I was utterly compelled to write it and view it as part of my own redeveloping relationship with Mother Earth.
So you don’t have to go through the same discomfort, I’ll keep it short:
Black Feathers is set in a post-apocalyptic world – as are Meat and Garbage Man, which also have eco-horror/apocalypse overtones. Have you been building up to this one for a while? Are you trying to corner the market on eco-horror? The roots of Black Feathers and The Book of
Beautiful Books rejected the novel to follow Garbage Man. Neither I nor my agent could get other publishers to take an interest in any of my work, despite there being plenty of it. Beautiful Books went bust.
recommendation that I made the submission in the first place. I’d pretty much given up on everything except novels by then.
I parted company with my agent. I carried on making submissions on my own and got a lot of help from a lot of people. Suddenly, editors began to approach me. I sold two projects to two of those editors. I found a new agent. Angry Robot bought Black Feathers. I went back to author heaven.
Blood Fugue came about after I met Steve Haynes, Proxima’s editor, at a This Is Horror event in Warwick University. Adam Nevill, David Moody and Gary McMahon were the talent for the evening and it was great. Afterwards, I got talking to Steve and he told me how much he’d enjoyed The Kill Crew. Some weeks later, he got in touch to ask if I had any novels available. We met for coffee, I pitched him four ideas, he picked two, I sent the synopses and Blood Fugue was what he went for. Blood Fugue is, in fact, the first horror novel I wrote – back in ‘03. It took almost ten years and endless edits and rewrites to finally find a publisher. It was rejected all over the place but Steve saw the potential and, between us, we took it apart and knocked it into shape.
Your quiet period ended with a number of new books, including Snake Eyes, Splinters – your first short story collection – and Blood Fugue. Tell us how Splinters came about and how you selected the stories to be included, about Snake Eyes and your vampire novel Blood Fugue. Splinters was one of those lovely new experiences in which a publisher came to me saying that, based on reading my other work, they wanted a book from me. The publisher in question is Simon Key, coowner of the Big Green Bookshop and owner/editor of indie press Timeline Books. When he said he wanted to do a book of stories, it was a little dream come true – I’ve always wanted to see a collection of my own short fiction. I sent Simon between forty and fifty tales in batches of three or four. When he’d read them all, we met in his shop and agreed in about ten minutes what the book would contain. Couldn’t have been a smoother process.
Of all your books, which is your favourite and why? Right now, it has to be Black Feathers. There’s more of my soul on those pages than in any other book. Which book, by someone else, would you most like to have written? I don’t suffer from envy. The book I would most like to have written is the next one I’m going to write. What do you feel your strength is in your writing? I don’t know what my strengths are, quite honestly. Maybe if I did it would somehow upset what I do. I’d like to think that someone reading one of my stories will become part of it for a short time. I’d like to think that some of my stories linger. It would be great if a few people are touched enough by something I’ve written to then look at the world a little differently. But
Snake Eyes was a submission I made in 2010 that took two years to come to fruition – it contains two novellas: “A Trespasser in Long Lofting” and “A Man of Will and Experience.” A little fantasy and a little SF. These works were already six or seven years old by the time they were published, but no one had been interested until finally Roy Robbins at Bad Moon Books said ‘yes.’ And even then, it was only through a personal 3
whether I’m able to do any of those things, I really don’t know. Let’s leave it as a fantasy… What are you reading now? The Language of Dying Pinborough.
But is it sf? It’s a magical realistic book with heavy sf references. It’s more of a fantasy with the fairies and witches (yes, there may well be more than one). In fact a similar discussion of sf-hood takes place towards the end of the novel. One thing it is is very easy to read, Morwenna is a character very easy to engage with. She’s an sf geek, and I’m sure that resonated with the Hugo, Nebula and British Fantasy panels. It’s an intelligent, thoughtful portrayal of a young girl, who loves sf with a passion, exploring the genre whilst dealing with whatever life happens to throw at her. This is not mind-blowing sf, this is not a novel filled with ideas. It reads more like a literary novel, and I enjoyed the references and had to nod along with some of the opinions and commentary on sf books. In fact I enjoyed the book quite a lot. It’s a bit quiet and internal for my liking as I generally prefer more explosions and shooting in my sf, but this is a very good book, which leaves you with a sense of wonder and some brilliant images, as well as a hankering to read all the books mentioned throughout the text. But I expect a book that’s been awarded so many prestigious awards to blow me away, at least a little. It didn’t. It’s good and well worth a read, especially if you like a personal tale of growing up. Personally, I find it difficult to accept that this was the best book published in 2012. It may have been amongst the top ten, but it isn’t at the top of the list. By Stanley Riiks
What are you working on now? A chapbook for the This Is Horror series. The title is Roadkill. It comes out this summer. AMONG OTHERS By Jo Walton www.constablerobinson.com As Among Others is a winner of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, I was surprised to find that I wouldn’t even describe it as science fiction. It also won the British Fantasy Award for best novel. This is the story of a teenage girl from Wales called Morwenna set in the 1970s. We join the story as Morwenna’s father (who abandoned her as a baby) and his three sisters send her away to boarding school, where we find that her limp was caused by her mother, a witch who also killed Morwenna’s twin sister. Morwenna is our narrator and the facts of her family background gradually come out, as does as her insatiable hunger for science fiction novels and the fact that she can talk to fairies. The vast array of sf mentioned throughout the book is astounding; there isn’t a single page without a reference to a book, and as an sf reader myself, it struck a chord. Morwenna is a character much like ourselves, a lover of books. She had to run away from her mad mother after her mother tried to kill her, and against this backdrop the teenager has to grow up and deal with boys, having a limp, being able to talk to fairies, and filling every spare minute with reading.
AGE OF VOODOO By James Lovegrove www.solarisbooks.com Having not read any of the previous books in the series, I came to this book in the Pantheon series with some trepidation. I 5
www.morpheustales.com need not have worried. Lex Dove is a retired British Government assassin, living in the Caribbean. He gets a call to lead a black ops team to an old bunker on a nearby island, but deep inside the bunker there’s a lot more at stake than Lex thought… Incredible! Lovegrove has mixed science fiction and fantasy to come up with an exciting and fast-paced action thriller, as the black ops team encounters twisted experimental monsters. This is like The Island of Dr Moreau on steroids and acid. Massively entertaining, incredibly addictive, Lovegrove has a new dedicated fan. Page-turning brilliance. By Adrian Brady
MALICE By John Gwynne www.macmillan.co.uk I’ve finally finished this book after almost four weeks! It’s epic, a huge story set over an entire nation with a raft of characters (too many to remember, so I hope the publishers include a list, as the proof copy I had didn’t and it would have been useful at some stages), and this is only the first book. Quite likely to grow into a trilogy, this first book takes a while to get going, introducing all the characters, giving us their various backgrounds and hinting at more. To even give you an idea of the plot is going to be difficult in a paragraph of so, but I’ll give it a go. Basically, the book is set in the Banished Lands, a place humans came to inhabit some time ago, where they now live ill at ease with the giants who occasionally attack from the various woods and forests surrounding the towns and fortresses the humans call home. When a giant wyrm is found, stones weep blood and the sun is blackened, it is thought a prophesy is coming true: the coming of the humanity’s nemesis, the Black Sun, and another warrior who will fight on the side of good. An epic battle is coming and all will be involved, to decide the fate of humanity… There is a lot going on; we have giant killers, princes, secretive stable masters, cousin lords with deep-seated rivalries, kings, pirates, angels and demons — not to mention ambition, greed and revenge. This is classic fantasy territory, and although there’s nothing really new here, the world is very well portrayed, and the characters are unique enough that you can work out who is who despite the huge cast. Gwynne also isn’t afraid to kill off these characters, and after the epic journey of the first novel, you’re quite emotionally attached. Although the book gets off to a
SUN BLEACHED WINTER By D. Robert Grixti http://www.damnationbooks.com/ This is a promising start by first-time novelist D. Robert Grixti, an apocalyptic end-of-the-world thriller written in firstperson narrative style and set in a world of perpetual winter. The story follows wannabe-writer Lionel Morten and his younger sister as they journey through the wastelands on a constant scavenge for food and shelter, all the while trying to avoid ruthless marauders with cannibalistic tendencies. The prose is gripping and almost claustrophobic, capturing perfectly the desolate atmosphere of a world in ruins. Perhaps the only criticism I can offer, which is more an observation than a criticism, is that occasionally, Grixti seems to be trying too hard, as is common among young writers. You can just tell he has spent endless hours pulling the sentences apart, constructing and reconstructing, and agonizing over each and every word. This, perhaps, robs the story of a little of its edge. Not to worry, there is plenty left over. By C.M. Saunders 6
www.morpheustales.com slow start, when things do heat up towards the last hundred pages this is action-packed, really exciting stuff. It is fairly predictable what’s about to happen, but Gwynne still manages to throw in a few surprises. A great and huge start to what is likely to be an astonishing and truly epic fantasy. A welcome addition to the fantasy genre, a little darker than the norm and all the better for it. Great start to an epic and inspiring tale. Good versus evil at its best. By Stanley Riiks
Japan’s Gibhli Studios achieved success on our shores with the animated features Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Not being a fan of cartoons, I never saw them. But my vague knowledge of Ursula K. Le Guin’s esteem among fantasy/science fiction fans drew me to watch this latest Gibhli effort now on DVD from Disney Studios, an adaptation of her four of her Earthsea works, already made into a no doubt underwhelming Sci-Fi Channel movie. Knowing that an anime remake of Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog” was rumored to be in preparation, I was curious to see what Japanese storytelling applied to American material would be like. The film marks the directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki, the son of Ghibli’s revered cofounder Hayaou Miyazaki, who was opposed to his son’s foray into directing. However, Goro was determined to make his own movie, the result being that the two haven’t spoken since. Could the film’s bad reviews in Japan be a result of popular displeasure for Goro’s display of disrespect for his famed father? Perhaps, but I don’t Goro’s losing too much sleep over it, as the movie went on to be the top film in his country for several weeks. Nonetheless, Tales of Earthsea turns out to a rather mixed experience. The landscapes and skyscapes are attractive, the animals pleasingly animated, but most of the movie centers on human characters with big round eyes and insipid mannerisms, reminding me of those dreary old cartoons that used to run on the Christian Broadcasting Network, namely Superbook and The Flying House. But what really weakens the film is the English dubbing. Timothy Dalton’s grave solemnity as the farmer who takes in the young hero is at least more effective than Mariska Hargitay’s casting as his wife. Her urban attitude is totally inappropriate for any kind of peasant character. Just wait till she belts out the line
DESOLATE 2 – EXPOSURE By Robert Brumm Jr http://www.robertbrumm.com/ I reviewed the first book in this series for MT last year, and remember being pleasantly surprised by both the quality of writing and the strength of the story. I couldn’t wait to see how Brumm Jr’s work developed. Too many writers set the bar too high with a great first offering which only sets them up for a fall when they can’t live up to expectation. In this particular case, I am happy to report that this young Indie writer is maturing nicely. Desolate 2 picks up more-or-less directly where the first book left off. The opening scenes, where the hero of the series, ex-con Howard Bell, wakes to find himself strapped to a stretcher on a jungle floor, are some of the most provocative and wellwritten I’ve read in a long time. When it starts to get dark and the bugs come out is when the problems really start for poor Howard. What follows is more an adventure tale set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by an alien disease than pure sci-fi horror, which only adds another dimension to the author’s storytelling abilities. I cannot wait for the next instalment. By C.M. Saunders TALES FROM EARTHSEA 2006 Disney Studios DVD 7
www.morpheustales.com “Wizards aren’t supposed to do that sort of thing! You should be ashamed of yourself!” Most bizarre of all is the dubbing of Willem Dafoe’s voice for an obviously female character. Disney has clearly sacrificed good sense for senseless star marketing. I recommend you watch the original Japanese language track instead. The low key delivery by these Asian actors is so much more realistic than the laughable use of Dalton, Hargitay, and even Cheech Marin in the American version. At least Marin sort of matches the original voice and is therefore less destructive than the other stars. The U.S. voices combined with silly dialogue (“A message from the old mage. Thank you Sparrow Hawk.”) ruin any chance this film had of catching on with a grown-up audience. You have to doubt great care has been taken when a llama ridden by one of the characters is referred to as a horse. Are we hearing a bad translation of the Japanese language or a faithful recreation of a bad Japanese dialogue? The fact that Tales from Earthsea has languished for five years before making its way to DVD does not portend great things for Ghibli Studios as far as American distribution goes. The simple storyline hinges on an ancient, evil magician and his pathetic quest for eternal life. Le Guin’s plots are whittled down to fable-like simplicity and prove more adaptable to Asian culture than you’d expect, what with their incorporation of Taoist philosophy. Thus, the movie serves a heaping of messages about how the balance between life and death cannot be disturbed. “To deny death is to deny life,” we are repeatedly told, in so many words. Also included is some esoteric lore about how magic revolves around the revelation of a person’s true name. You can bet if an American studio had adapted Le Guin they’d be using more of her plotting, especially since she was writing about a school for wizards years before Harry Potter was even conceived. The movie has some
effective moments, including some creepy bits as the evil wizard deteriorates before succumbing to his own pathological terror of mortality. The conclusion is a touching montage set to a slow Japanese piano tune (if you hadn’t already, you will now need to access the menu for subtitles). By Brett Taylor NEXUS By Ramez Naam www.angryrobotbooks.com Nexus is the first novel by Ramez Namm and it’s an almighty first step. Set in the near future, Nexus is the name of a drug that temporarily allows humans to link their minds. Kade Lane works at improving Nexus, including extending people’s abilities, and the issues the drug poses bring her in conflict with everyone from drug dealers to Homeland Security, politicians and more. Naam’s concise prose helps this SF thriller rip along at an astounding speed, but it is also thought-provoking, asking as many questions as it answers about the morality of drug-taking and human-improvement. The ethical debate about the use of technology (the drug is nano-based) is impressed upon the story. Highly intelligent, incredibly readable, this is an SF thriller much like Crichton’s novels. It questions the use of technology, humanity, greed, improvement and development, but at its heart it tells a great story. Naam is a force to be reckoned with in modern SF. If his first novel is anything to go by, he has a very bright future ahead of him. Highly recommended. By Adrian Brady
www.morpheustales.com ten years that I’ve started writing seriously, with an eye to publication.
Gareth L. Powell Interview Your latest novel, Ack-Ack Macaque, stars a cigar-chomping, pistol-carrying, fighter pilot macaque. How did the character and the novel come about? The name came first. Ack-Ack Macaque started life as a random jotting in my notebook. Just two words that seemed to go together. Later, when I needed a cartoon character for a short story I was writing, the name seemed ideal. It also dictated what he would be like. “Ack-Ack” is an old onomatopoetic term for anti-aircraft fire, so he had to be a pilot; a macaque is obviously a type of monkey, so he became a monkey pilot. The cigar and eye patch were just the icing on the cake.
What other writers have influenced you? I learned a lot about technique from Chandler and Hemingway, and a lot about the sort of stories I wanted to write from Gibson and Sterling. Aside from them, I’ve picked up a million other influences over the years, some consciously, others unconsciously. Off the top of my head, I’d say JG Ballard, Samuel Delany and Cordwainer Smith have all had an influence on the way I’ve seen my work and my relationship to the genre. How do you put a book together? Do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? I usually start by writing an outline of the plot, which will be somewhere between 3000-5000 words – just an overview of the main events, to see if the story makes sense and hangs together. If it doesn’t, I’ll redraft it a couple of times, until I’m happy with it. Then, I’ll use it as a road map while I write. I write straight through from beginning to end, going where the natural pacing and rhythm of the book take me, but always with one eye on the road map, to keep me pointed in the right direction.
His first adventure was published in Interzone in 2007, and seemed to strike a chord with many of the readers – who went on to vote for it as their favourite story of the year in the annual readers’ poll. After that, I forgot about him for a while, but he kept worming his way back into my imagination. People kept asking if I was ever going to do something else with the character. And so, when I was working on ideas for a cyberpunk murder mystery for Solaris, it seemed natural to slot the monkey in there. I needed an intelligent animal for the plot, and old Ack-Ack was right there waiting for me.
If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? Finish the book before you start editing it.
What inspired you to start writing? I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. It’s always been something I’ve felt compelled to do, but it’s only in the last 10
www.morpheustales.com Your short story collection, The Last Reef, is now available as an ebook from Anarchy Books. The book was originally published by Elastic Press as a paperback. Tell us your thoughts on ebooks and why you decided to go that route with the collection. The Last Reef and my first novel, Silversands, are both available as ebooks from Anarchy Books (via the Anarchy Books website, via Amazon, and via the Angry Robot store). They were both originally published in limited print runs by small independent presses: The Last Reef through Elastic Press, and Silversands through Pendragon Press. Having them republished as ebooks meant they were able to reach a new and wider audience – not just the lucky few who managed to get their hands on one of the original printed copies. When they appeared as ebooks, I wrote new introductions for them both, and I’m very pleased to have them out there again – although new print editions would be nice.
into those two novels. It was all about doing justice to stories which I felt hadn’t been given the space they needed to fully unpack themselves. What book are you reading now? I just finished The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M Banks, which was a whole lot of fun, and this morning, I’ve just started Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, which I want to read before seeing the film in February. What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? It’s always very gratifying when a reader takes the trouble to write a review or to get in touch and tell me how much they liked one of my stories or characters. I’m extremely fortunate that so far the majority of feedback has been extremely positive. What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t love the process of writing. Some days it can be slow and frustrating, but on other days, the words seem to fly onto the page almost faster than I can type them, and it feels like riding a tall and brilliant wave. It can be exhilarating.
The Last Reef is a brilliant collection, and the stories that appear in it have inspired some of your novels, including The Recollection and AckAck Macaque. Tell us about the collection and how you develop an idea from a short story into a novel. I didn’t consciously set out to turn any of those short stories into novels; I just found that I had more to say about the settings, ideas, and characters than could be squashed into a few thousand words. The stories needed more room to grow and expand, so I found myself incorporating aspects of them
The part I like least is the waiting. I’m not very good at waiting, I find it stressful. If I’ve submitted a story, or I’m waiting to hear back about a book deal, or waiting for a book to be published and reviewed, I can barely think of anything else. I keep checking my inbox every five minutes. 11
www.morpheustales.com According to a friend of mine in Canada, “Iktsuarpok” is the Inuit word for the feeling of anticipation you get when expecting a visitor, which causes you to keep going outside to see if you can see them approaching. This is exactly the feeling I have with emails, when I’m waiting for a response from somebody. But instead of going outside to see if I can spot them approaching across the frozen tundra, I’m sat at my desk hitting “refresh” every couple of minutes.
same whole. As for short stories and novels, I would have to admit that recently, I’ve been enjoying writing novels more than writing short stories. The short form has the benefit of almost instant gratification – you get your ideas down quickly, and finish the first draft in a few days, rather than a few months for a novel – and yet, I’ve been finding that all the ideas I’ve been having recently need at least 80,000 words; so, at the moment, I’d say I prefer writing novels.
Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? For a long time, my two favourite books have been On The Road by Jack Kerouac and Generation X by Douglas Coupland. They are the two books I have re-read the most often, and books which I expect to keep re-reading in the future. I discovered On The Road when I was seventeen, and Generation X a couple of years later, and they meant a lot to me at the time. Reading them now that I’m more than twice the age I was when I first found them means I bring a lot more experience to the text, and see subtleties and nuances my younger self missed, along with a fond nostalgia that wasn’t there the first time I read them.
What scares you? Too many things to list.
What are you working on now? I’m currently working on a sequel to AckAck Macaque, called Hive Monkey. It’s due for release from Solaris early next year. I also have two other books - another space opera, and an urban fantasy - up my sleeve. Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t tell anybody the plot of your book until you’ve finished the first draft.
What makes a good story? For me, a good story is one in which I can, as a reader, lose myself. If the setting is convincingly portrayed, the characters are involving and believable, and the plot drags me in and keeps me reading, then I’m happy. Especially if, after reading it, I feel as if I’ve experienced its events first-hand.
Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? I can’t really say whether I prefer writing or reading, as they are two sides of the same coin -- inextricably symbiotic parts of the 12
www.morpheustales.com Exorcist. (Both stories involve a chapel desecration.) Did Lumet, an urban Jew, really buy into this Catholic message? I doubt it. He simply filmed it as best he could. That’s what makes him a top-notch, reliable professional, not an eccentric genius. Marasco stacks the deck by making all the supporting priests unthinking bureaucrats who blindly follow Preston’s plan. Only sincere young Beau Bridges realizes that Mason is sincere and right at heart. There’s a reason Sidney Lumet didn’t do horror thrillers. The “eerie” scenes here are marred by terrible music, and suspicion is thrown on actors with distorting slightly fish-eye lenses. The unsubtlety of these movie devices makes the whole thing seem all the more theatrical. Preston’s performance is too “big,” a shade mechanical in its engaging showiness, yet you’ve got to admit he’s great at this sort of thing. He and Mason make for a great contrast, no doubt about it. When John Patrick Shanley produced his play Doubt, followed by a movie version of the same, most viewers assumed his story was torn straight from the headlines. Nope, it was inspired by Child’s Play. Just replace a sleazy magazine subscription with an unsavory relationship with a 12 year old and you’ve got Doubt. Whereas Marasco won the Tony for Child’s Play, Shanley won a Tony and the Pulitzer. With this law of progression, the next person to borrow from Marasco in twenty years is sure to win the Nobel. Child’s Play is absorbing, even riveting (except for those silent, unconvincing “horror” scenes) most of the way, until the author’s blatant machinations show through. Secular, liberal viewers will be put in a bind: it’s often utterly engaging, yet it’s all ultimately a defence of rigid old-school Catholicism. As far as movies that are so problematic for the thinking viewer, this ranks right up there with Birth of a Nation
CHILD’S PLAY 1972 Olive Films DVD Robert Marasco is little remembered today. But then, he only wrote two plays, one a smash success, and two novels, one successful enough to be made into a movie. The successful novel, Burnt Offerings, was perhaps too low key for horror readers, which is why Stephen King, with his uncanny commercial instincts, was wise enough to take Marasco’s story and blow it up to ridiculous proportions, the result being the very popular The Shining. The first theatrical work, Child’s Play (not to be confused with the Chucky series), was brought to the screen by theatre-type turned movie producer David Merrick. Sometimes described as a “horror” play, Child’s Play is a melodrama with a message. Disturbing events are going on at a Jesuit-run high school, events that go beyond mere mischief. Like a boy’s eye being put out. Yes, it might just be the work of one of a sinister force, who might just secretly be Satan himself. (Or maybe not.) Robert Preston lays the blame on Father James Mason, who pushes the boys too hard by forcing them to parse Latin phrases and just generally by being a big old asshole, while Mason says he’s the victim of a conspiracy by Father Preston, who’s popular with the boys but maybe a little too easygoing. Who’s the hero here and who’s secretly evil? The fact that Marasco was a Latin teacher and a classical scholar at Regis, a private Jesuit high school in Manhattan, ought to provide a clue. If you take Marasco literally, then glib, forgiving modernists, no matter how likeable, are actually evil, while stern traditionalists, however stern and hateful, are the ones to follow. The modern, progressive world is the perfect setting for Satan to appear, as in William Peter Blatty’s 1971 book The 14
www.morpheustales.com and Death Wish. In Marasco’s world, the hint that a celibate priest might have unsavoury reasons for being surrounded by underage men his entire life is merely a red herring, a distraction. Years later, after a huge Church scandal involving both widespread pederasty and widespread coverup, we know that sometimes such charges are true. The most disappointing, wooden aspect of the play is that it gives us no insight as to why these boys blindly follow Preston. These boys look and act like the blonde alien children of Village of the Damned. Then again, the play was written before Jim Jones, the Heaven’s Gate suicides and the Gulf Wars, so maybe Marasco really knew what he was talking about. By Brett Taylor
known this man he never met. As he digs further, David himself becomes a suspect. Then the book goes all SF. The second half of the book changes everything completely, including our first-person narrator. It becomes confusing, sometimes irritating, and imaginatively maddening! But it all, just about, makes complete sense. The mystery part of the book is good, but it’s when the story really starts to come together in the second half that things gets all Twilight Zone, even more mysterious and… (to give you too much information would spoil the surprises, and there are many). An ingeniously crazy murder mystery, definitely a book that SF readers will enjoy, but crime readers also won’t be able to get enough of this book. Riveting, complex, and entertaining as hell. An intelligent and imaginative SF thrill-ride of a murder mystery novel. By Stanley Riiks
THE MAN FROM PRIMROSE LANE By James Renner www.constablerobinson.com Ooh, this is a good book. I mean a really good book. It starts off all murder mystery. A widower and father, David Neff lives with his son. David is a recluse and best-selling author of a crime book which solved a series of murders, despite the police having arrested and executed the wrong man. David’s agent suggests a story for another book. Although David doesn’t need the money, and is on drugs for posttraumatic stress disorder after the investigation into the first book, his thirst to solve another crime is unquenchable. This time, instead of a series of child murders, he has to uncover the murder of a strange hermit who lived on Primrose Lane, a man who wore mittens and was shot in the belly, left to bleed to death, his fingers cut off and put into a blender. David begins to search for clues, finding that somehow his wife might have
Ramblings of a Tattooed Head By Simon Marshall-Jones Peter Cushing is one of those actors that just about everyone has heard of, whether through memories of his Hammer Films appearances or his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Episode IV of the Star Wars films. For many of my friends in the genre, Peter was their introduction to horror, mostly via his numerous Hammer horror films, and he was also their inspiration to get involved in writing, directing, or talking about horror. Furthermore, many see him as the quintessential British actor and the epitome of the English gentleman – he was much more than that, of course: it is likely that he represented the last of a particular type of actor, his career stretching from his celluloid debut in the late thirties (1939’s The Man in the Iron Mask) until his last film in 1986, Biggles: Adventures in Time. His biggest 15
www.morpheustales.com role, bringing him to a large global audience, was in the first of George Lucas’s Star Wars films. My earliest memory of him was as Doctor Who in Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150AD (he also starred as the titular character in Dr. Who and the Daleks, of which Invasion Earth is a sequel). In the film, he portrays the Time Lord as a somewhat eccentric, crazy old grandfather type figure, with a twinkle in his eye and full of mischief (who, nevertheless, gets serious when the time calls for it). I watched it mainly for those other icons of genre film and TV, the Daleks. Sadly, those were his only two appearances as the kindly Doctor, but that didn’t stop him becoming even better known (and loved) as another of the genre’s most hallowed icons and, incidentally, another doctor: Dr. Van Helsing, arch-nemesis of Dracula. Abraham Van Helsing first appeared in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, the book which launched a thousand vampiresscary, silly and sparkly. It also establishes the essential relationship between the doctor and vampire: hunter and hunted. In Hammer Films’s peak years, this relationship was to provide the basis for much of the studio’s output, with Peter Cushing filling the role to perfection (along with Christopher Lee as his adversary). His first outing as the character named Van Helsing was in 1958’s Dracula, directed by Terence Fisher, and his last was in 1974 in Roy Ward Baker’s The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, a mix of bloodsucking creatures of the night with martial arts (not all that surprising, since it was co-produced with Hammer Studios by Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studio). In between, Cushing portrayed Van Helsing in a string of films. One writer who has very much been inspired by the work of Peter Cushing is Stephen Volk – so much so that he has written a novella called Whitstable, to be
published this May (coinciding with the centenary of the actor’s birth) by Spectral Press. Stephen is best known for the socalled ‘hoax’ TV drama Ghostwatch, which was screened in the early nineties on British television and caused a furore in the media (questions were even asked in Parliament). The drama’s main purpose (which some would say succeeded only too well) was to explore the blurring of the boundaries between fantasy and reality through the televisual medium, foreshadowing the current crop of reality-TV shows which plague the airwaves. Above all, the characters and action were entirely believable and realistic, adding gravitas and strength to the programme. On top of that, Stephen also co-wrote the screenplay (with director Nick Murphy) for 2011’s The Awakening, starring Rebecca Hall and Dominic West and, in addition, he has worked with William (The Exorcist) Friedkin and Ken (Gothic) Russell. Early last year, Stephen sent me a proposal, essentially an outline of a novella he’d recently finished, called Whitstable. It had been written as a tribute to Peter Cushing, and so Stephen was hoping that it could be published to coincide with the actor’s centenary. To say I was interested is like saying that black is a darker colour than white. And, after having read it (in one sitting), there were two conclusions I came to: a) it needed to be published and b) that I needed to publish it. It was (and still is), quite simply, one of the best pieces of writing I’d read in a long time. Given that Spectral has gained a reputation for publishing ghost and supernatural stories, plus the fact the novella stars Peter Cushing as a central character (and whose name will forever be associated with Hammer horror), you will be surprised to learn that there are absolutely NO supernatural elements anywhere in the story. There is a monster, yes, but not a creature of 16
www.morpheustales.com fantasy and imagination; instead, it’s a very human and contemporary one. And, of course, there’s a victim, too. Above everything, however, there’s Peter himself: Stephen Volk has painted a sharply delineated picture of the ‘real’ Peter Cushing, a deeply religious man, someone who is motivated by his faith to fight something which offends both his moral sensibilities and his sense of the right order of his world and, moreover, fights it with utter conviction despite mortal weakness, physical frailty, and mourning for his wife Helen. There is no self-aggrandisement at play here – it is simply the right thing to do. From the press release:
work, a minutely observed and entirely sympathetic portrait of the man who was familiar to millions in his heyday. Above all, what comes through the writing is Cushing’s humanity, and that he is just one frail human being pitted against an evil which is beyond his understanding, beyond any sane person’s understanding, in fact. It is a moving and heart-breaking story, one which only Stephen Volk could have written. It’s also a tale that is very relevant to our times. Moreover, I am extremely proud to be the one to bring it to the world. It’s an extraordinary book – but don’t just take my word for it. Copies are available on pre-order from the Spectral Press website in the shop (http://spectralpress.wordpress.com/).
1971. A middle-aged man, wracked with grief, walks along the beach at Whitstable in Kent. A boy approaches him and, taking him for the famous vampire-hunter Doctor Van Helsing from the Hammer movies, asks for his help. Because he believes his stepfather really is a vampire… So begins the moving and evocative new novella by Stephen Volk, published by the British Fantasy Awardnominated Spectral Press in May 2013 to coincide with the centenary of the most celebrated and beloved of Hammer’s stars, Peter Cushing. In Whitstable—which deftly mixes fact with fiction—the actor, devastated after the recent death of his wife and soul mate Helen, is an inconsolable recluse. In that vulnerable state he is forced to face an evil far more real and terrifying than any of the make-believe monsters he tackled on the big screen. And here he is not a crusader or expert with crucifixes in hand—merely a man. A man who in some ways craves death himself, but cannot ignore the pleas of an innocent child…
LONDON FALLING By Paul Cornell www.macmaillan.co.uk When the chief suspect in a crime organisation is arrested, Detective Inspector James Quill thinks his job is done. But when the suspect is mysteriously murdered while in custody, the investigation is taken to a whole new level incorporating magical powers that Quill’s crack team must use to try to find the powerful and dangerous new suspect. Part crime thriller and part urban fantasy, Cornell’s London Falling effortlessly merges the genres. His depiction of London is excellent, really evocative of the dirty and creepy capital city, and his characters, particularly the police officers, are clever and dramatic. Intelligently written fantasy crimefiction with a superior setting and characters. Cornell’s first novel is a work of genius. By Adrian Brady
It’s a beautifully written piece of 17
www.morpheustales.com Gormo: You are unique in every way possible, my love. Of course, I was concerned about my looks back then. The fall from The Function Room roof had brought new meaning to the term “chiselled features.” I thought with Annie that perhaps I was punching above my weight because she’s so damn hot. But then I learned of her screwing foetuses at the hospital and I knew I had a half a chance then because people sometimes say I have the face of an unborn child. And whilst it is true that she has the cock of a rotting stallion, and it took months of practice before I could take it to the root; she still has the ass of a 12-year-old boy, and I just had to have her. My sphincter flaps like a windsock nowadays, but it’s all been worthwhile.
Interview with Gormo and Annie Gloom Morpheus Tales editor Adam Bradley met Gormo & Annie Gloom for an exclusive ‘no holds barred’ post-marriage interview at their country retreat on the outskirts of Leddenton. How did the two of you meet? Annie: I remember something that Old Black Lip once said to me at the hospital as we sorted through the abortions for the staff canteen one day. I was telling him about how Gormo Gloom and I loved each other and that we hoped to get married. He said, “Annie, love is like a fart. If you have to force it then it’s probably shit.” The funny thing is that Gormo and I actually met in shit.
Annie: You do put yourself down, dear. We fit each other perfectly, like two pieces from a jigsaw of Goya’s Disasters of War.
Gormo: Back then Annie worked for the police. I’d only just gotten out of The Function Room, it was pissing down, and I remember finding myself at Leddenton Sewerage Works. I saw this police woman coming after me and so I ran because I’d not long since embedded my cleaver into Daisy Time’s skull. I thought she wanted to arrest me so I jumped into the treatment pool as it seemed like the best place to hide.
Are you both still working? Annie: Oh yes, I love my work at the hospital. Old Black Lip is a wonderful boss. But I don’t do it for the money; one bareback shoot for Beast of the Field.com pays more than what I earn in a month at the hospital. I’ve always wanted to work with children, you see, and I love that abortion ward. And whilst those tight little baby cadavers make sorting Gormo out feel like waving a pencil around the Albert Hall, I’ll never stop loving him.
Annie: I was actually wanting to help him, but when he came up for air he spat shit all over me, so I jumped in, truncheon at the ready. Gormo: And that’s how we met.
Gormo: And I never really stopped the butchery, except I suppose for when I was The Function Room Controller. Before we got together properly I’d been getting the children at the park to bring me dead cats and swans from the pond to make sausages and things, but it wasn’t the same. I missed having happy customers, like Daisy.
Was it love at first sight? Gormo: Looking back, I think it was. I knew straight away that I would never meet another woman like Annie. Annie: Biologically speaking I’m pretty unique.
Annie: Until you killed her. 19
www.morpheustales.com who nearly drowned me on the downs. Gormo: By accident, as you know. But anyway, now I’m carving up abortion cuts for the residents and their visitors at the hospital where Annie works, I couldn’t be happier.
Spew vampires? Annie: Lard-ass ex-military types that wander the land puking up blood so that it doesn’t need to get spilled in warfare, supposedly. They are vile do-gooders and I hate them. If you had dug a tunnel miles long only to be spewed on with gallons of vital fluids, you would hate them, too. Never trust a fatty or a dogooder is what I say; they are likely to vomit gore in your face and claim that it’s for the good of the world. I should have told them to watch the news when I had the chance. I would have pointed out the abundance of wars that their ridiculous puking has not stopped.
Annie: We both enjoy serving the public, don’t we dear? Gormo: You could not accuse us of shirking our civic duty; we’ve always contributed to society and we always will. Why butchery? Gormo: I suppose it started when my father was paralysed and I fed him dog food. I realised then that people will eat anything if that’s all there is and they don’t have a choice about it. And so I became the only butcher in Leddenton.
And yet you seem to enjoy feeling that you have done good? Gormo: I think her definition of good is somewhat different, though. Her definition of good is feeding the ovaries of murdered girls to an imprisoned choir of castrati.
Annie: And he’s very environmentally friendly. He is a perpetual provider, like a car that runs on its own fumes, or a cow that eats its own shit – like a rabbit. I sometimes call him my little picnic hamper. I can just stoke the flames with my poker for the Gregg’s warm pasty effect, then reach between his ass cheeks and pull out delicious and tender offal that sizzles on my tongue like a fresh-from-thewomb zygote. I’ve always had a taste for gore, and I blame it on those spew vampires
Annie: He’s right. I define ‘good’ as what’s best for me. Thankfully, Gormo feels the same way and so what is best for me, is also best for him. Do either of you have any regrets? Gormo: I do regret that I never became The 20
www.morpheustales.com Function Room Controller any sooner and it pains me still to think how long I worked unknowingly next door. But once you have been in The Function Room it never leaves you, and for that I’m thankful.
Annie: They are adorable. Who would criticise me when I’m the biggest disability employer in all of Wessex? I can get away with murder. Gormo: Say what you want about Jimmy Saville, but he wasn’t stupid.
Annie: And I regret that I did not stick the Controller post out longer than I did. But I’m a career woman and I didn’t get to where I am today by sticking around. My time in The Function Room was brief, but no less life-changing.
Which leads me nicely into my next question. Are you planning to have children? Annie: Having babies isn’t the issue, it’s keeping them alive. Our particular type of love for babies isn’t conducive to development into childhood, unfortunately. Only last week I fucked our new-born twins to death; it was like Marc Rothko had decorated the nursery afterwards.
Has fame changed you? Gormo: Well, I never thought that I’d have an underwear range in Top Shop or my own brand of pate. But while fame has brought wealth, and whilst I don’t have to queue for colonics anymore, I’m still me. Gormo Gloom, Leddenton butcher and exController.
Gormo: I ran off a nice limited edition run of pates from the leftovers though, and they sold like hot cakes. You can’t tell me that I’ve not learned from my experiences.
Annie: I think I’m guiltier of changing more than Gormo, and it’d be fair to say I’m a bit of a diva nowadays. For example, before the wedding I demanded a full facial from that guy off of The One Show before I let him interview me. I’m worse than Mariah Carey; I don’t even emolliate my own member any more. I have a team now, don’t I dear?
Annie: I had heard once that when baby food manufacturers tried exporting to Africa, they found their products did not sell. It was because they were used to the labels portraying what was in the jar, so they thought the baby food was made of babies. So we saw a gap in the market and made baby food from the babies I was able to siphon off from the hospital canteen supply.
Gormo: She does. I was skinning some puppies the other day to make those pasties you tried when you arrived, and she said, “Don’t do that, one of my freaks will do it.”
Gormo: In hindsight, if we had wanted to break the African market we should have just changed the labels, but thankfully they sold well enough in the UK, so nothing was lost in the end.
Freaks? Annie: My staff all have Down’s Syndrome. They’re the hardest workers, they ask the least questions, and they don’t mind getting paid the minimum wage because they get disability benefits from the government.
Annie: But we do want children, don’t we, Gormo. Thankfully my gestation period is only a few weeks, so we can keep practicing. We’re hoping for one to make it to toddler stage soon, aren’t we, dear?
Gormo: And we like their happy little faces, don’t we.
Gormo: Yes, my love. We need heirs, so we 21
www.morpheustales.com will persist.
It has been a pleasure meeting you both. Gormo: It has been nice to be able to talk freely.
or amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-FunctionRoomKollection/dp/147108275X/ref=sr_1_1?ie= UTF8&qid=1351608860&sr=8-1
Annie: We have to be so guarded when we’re talking to editors from magazines like Heat and OK! We met with Chat before the wedding and Take A Break; they kept asking poor Gormo about his father.
Gormo: And you’re hardly the person to give waxing tips, are you?
http://www.amazon.com/The-FunctionRoomKollection/dp/147108275X/ref=sr_1_1?ie= UTF8&qid=1351608907&sr=81&keywords=the+function+room%3A+the+ kollection
Annie: Woman’s Weekly got a bit sanctimonious with us when we told them about our honeymoon plans, didn’t they, dear? I don’t know why people get so precious about little infants, they’re everywhere. That school we ravaged was full of them.
“Matt Leyshon’s stories manage to combine threads of dark-hued English pastoral fantasy with the logic of nightmare. Like Worzel Gummidge cast adrift in a Ligottian fever-dream, these interlinked tales carve out their own niche in which to fester.” Gary McMahon
Gormo: Then they had the cheek to liken your camel toe to a duty-free multipack of Camel Lights. But it was a good job they thought you were talking about a vampire hunter’s stake when you said you’d like to stick one in the corpse of Jimmy Saville, otherwise they might have withheld our payment.
“If you enjoyed Hellraiser, I imagine you’d be quite comfortable here." "I can’t think of anything to compare this to, other than Clive Barker.” Says reviewer Nat Robinson.
They’ll be no moralising from my readership I assure you, and I think I can safely say that whatever is in your knickers, Annie, will be good with my readers. Keep up the good work.
Ebook available now from smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/2 49925?ref=morpheustales Available from amazon on Kindle!
Gormo and Annie Gloom feature in Matt Leyshon’s The Function Room: The Kollection: Buy from lulu.com http://www.lulu.com/shop/matt-leyshon/thefunction-room-the22
www.morpheustales.com It didn’t start out as a series, it was just The Age Of Ra – a one-off slipstream novel about the Egyptian gods ruling the world. But as I got into writing it, I began to realise that I’d found a new niche. It was enjoyable and liberating to let loose and go all out with the action and explosions and stuff, because until then I’d always tried to be restrained about that sort of thing. My original editor at Solaris, George Mann, proposed a followup, and my initial reaction was, “No way! I never repeat myself.” But in fact, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the suggestion. Each of the famous pantheons of gods has something to recommend it, something unique and interesting, and each mythology provides a different springboard for a plot. So what I’ve been doing since is writing a series of books which explore the same ideas in varying ways – essentially, the relationship between gods and humans – so even though each is a stand-alone novel, they’re all tied together thematically and can be usefully compared and contrasted.
James Lovegrove Interview Your first novel, The Hope, was published in 1990. How did you go about first getting your work published? I was remarkably lucky. It was accepted by the first editor who looked at it, James Hale at Macmillan. He was Iain Banks’s editor at the time, and I was very much into Banks’s work, so it worked out pretty well for me. The unfortunate flipside of this story is that Hale resigned from Macmillan six weeks later, for what reason I’m not sure – I only hope it wasn’t anything to do with taking a novel from me. You’ve been writing for a while now. What inspired you to start writing? I simply couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do with my life, or anything else I enjoyed doing more. I did have a hankering to be in a band and be a rock star, but all along I think I knew my calling was to be a writer. I’d always done it for pleasure, just sitting alone in a room making up stories and writing them down for fun, so it didn’t seem a stretch to try and turn that into a career. It helped greatly that, just before I graduated from university, my English Literature tutor was immensely encouraging. When someone you respect tells you to go for it, it’s hugely inspiring.
What other writers have influenced you? Ray Bradbury and Stephen King are my primary literary influences, the first for his deft, elegant use of language, the other for his sheer storytelling verve. Colin Wilson’s nonfiction, particularly his explorations into esoterica, have helped shape my thinking, although his prose style is exemplary, too. Alan Moore is just a genius, full of unique ideas, but also of wisdom. Other than those, it’s an accumulated mishmash of likes which I’ve gathered during years and years of reading:
You are well known for your Age Of... (Pantheon) novel series, the latest one being The Age of Aztec. Can you tell us about the series? 24
www.morpheustales.com Ballard, Alan Furst, Vonnegut, Conan Doyle, Dickens, Carl Hiaasen, Lyall Watson, Alfred Bester, Wells, Moorcock, Dick... The list is endless.
wants to and partly because he has to. He’s a great character, hardnosed but fair, a Christian whose faith is failing him, with a nice line in dark, ironic humour. He can also take a lot of physical punishment, which he needs
What are your other influences? Bowie’s music has been a passion of mine for years. He’s rock’s presiding SF genius. I can’t believe he has a new album out, after a decade of silence. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. Comics, also, play a huge role in my life. I’ve been a dedicated comics fan since I was nine and I pestered my dad to buy me a copy of SpiderMan Comics Weekly.
to in his line of work.
Do you have any rituals or routines when you write? Not as such. I always write first drafts longhand, scribbling out a morning’s worth of pages and then typing them into the computer in the afternoon, making tweaks and amendments as I go. It may not be the most time-efficient process, but it works for me. I can’t write fiction directly onto the screen (although I can and do when writing journalism). I like the contact between pen and paper. I like the crossings-out and the insertions, the whole organic process of it. And I always use a Parker Rollerball pen, that’s the one real talisman that I have. I can’t use any other kind of writing implement.
Your latest novels feature the character Redlaw, a kind of Dirty Harry in a vampireinfested world. What inspired the character and tell us about the two books Redlaw and Redlaw: Redeye that feature him. Redlaw was originally conceived in the 90s as a comic strip, to be written by me and drawn by Adam Brockbank, who provides the art for the wonderful Mezolith books. Nothing came of it, but then I revisited the whole concept a couple of years back, revamped it and turned it into what I hope will be a trilogy of novels. Redlaw himself is a tough former copper who’s on a government task force dedicated to dealing with the influx of vampire immigrants into Britain. That’s the status quo in the first book in the series, but it gets upended pretty quickly, and the second book, Red Eye, sees Redlaw relocating to the States, partly because he
How do you put a book together? Do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? I start with a rough outline of the story, which can be anything from three to ten pages long. Nothing’s broken down into chapters; it’s just a sketch of the story, with a few of the principal plot points highlighted. Then I just sit down and get going. By halfway through the writing, the synopsis is more or less useless, as the story has evolved and gone off into directions I 25
www.morpheustales.com could never have foreseen, and I’m happy to go along with that. Sometimes whole new characters will appear from nowhere and bring their own influence to bear on the storyline. Sometimes I’ll realise that a casual remark in an earlier chapter can be developed on in a later chapter and will trigger an unexpected and delightful twist. I go by instinct, ending chapters where they feel they should be ended. It’s not a very scientific method, but it’s a lot of fun, making the writing a voyage of discovery. If the ending arrives anywhere near to the ending I originally envisaged, that’s a bonus.
ongoing story, a “library” of linked books. If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? Probably something to do with the above. “Stop trying to do something different and new each time. You’re making life harder for yourself, your publisher, and your readership. Just relax, have fun, don’t be so serious, write what you yourself would like to read, not what you think people would like to, and ought to, read.” Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? I used to live and die by reviews. Now I don’t look at any reviews unless someone sends one to me and I feel obliged to pass comment on it. I certainly never look at Amazon reader reviews, because many of those are written by complete nutters! I’m more immune to bad reviews than I used to be, but I also used to find good reviews difficult to handle, because for me there was always the underlying feeling of “Oh crikey, they loved that book, now I’ve got to make the next one even better so as not to disappoint them.” Unnecessary pressure on myself, there. As a reviewer myself, I understand that it’s an inexact science, a matter of taste, and that it can be all too easy to condemn and damn without thinking things through properly.
Some of your novels are part of a larger series, why is that? I never used to be a serial writer. I went to great pains to make each new novel as different in tone and content from its predecessors as it could be. I prided myself on being hard to pin down as a writer. But I’m really into doing series now. I like carrying on a character or a situation and developing it further, pushing it as far as it can go, testing it to destruction. I also, on a purely aesthetic level, like seeing a row of similar-looking books all lined up next to one another on my shelf. It’s the comics geek in me coming out, that love of seriality and uniformity. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it makes my books more accessible and attractive to readers. As a reader myself, I like a good 26
www.morpheustales.com My own rule of thumb these days is that if I don’t like a book, I just don’t bother reviewing it. I’d much rather draw people’s attention to something I think is good than waste everyone’s time, or even score a few points, by laying into something I think is poor.
when you look back on it? There’s one book which I feel I could have executed better, and there are a couple of early work-for-hire novels which I wish I’d never done, as I squandered a lot of reader goodwill with those (and found them very onerous to do, as well). I’m not going to name the book I could have executed better, as it still has a lot going for it, but I was relatively inexperienced at the time and it could, in hindsight, have been tighter and better edited and benefited immensely from that.
Where do you get your inspiration? The glib answer is: the bills stacking up on my desktop. But in fact, ideas just come. They come from nowhere. They suggest themselves, usually politely, and I go, “Okay, I see how that could work as a book, let’s run with that.” I’m not directly inspired by real-life events, but the background hum of world news and domestic life is constant, always bubbling away like a stew, from which I can draw nice tasty lumps of meat when I need to. (Ahem. Awkward metaphor. But you see what I mean.)
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? Any and all encouragement is welcome. And if anyone’s wanted to tell me I’m shit but has refrained from doing so, I’m grateful to them too. Actually, someone emailed me about Age Of Odin, saying he couldn’t believe he’d wasted $8 on “this piece of garbage.” I just told him I hoped he would like the next one more.
What book are you reading now? I’ve just finished one of James Rollins’s SFtinged thrillers, Amazonia. Dumb but fun. Now I’m about to launch into Dead Man’s Land by Robert Ryan, which is a detective tale centred on Dr Watson doing service as an army medic in the First World War (no Holmes). It sounds like fun. I’ve also been re-reading Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey series for Marvel from back in the 70s, as research for an article for Comic Heroes magazine. I love me a bit of Kirby.
What is the most important thing when becoming a writer? Self-belief. Talent. A decent prose style. Imperviousness to harsh criticism. Openness to constructive criticism. A good editor (and I’ve got two great ones: Jon Oliver at Solaris and Kate Paice at A&C Black). An understanding of human nature. Not much, then.
What is your proudest moment as a writer? Probably the moment I figured out how to write an action-orientated thriller-type plotline, with proper cliffhangers and narrative sweep, where the ideas are subordinate to the story rather than the other way round. This happened during the writing of Ra, and it was a genuine creative turning point for me.
Do you write for a particular audience, for yourself? Nowadays I really do write to please myself, rather than some hypothetical audience of chin-stroking intellectuals. I write what I would enjoy reading in bed last thing at night or on the train, without worrying too much about what posterity might think of my “oeuvre.” I’m a busy person, and so are most people, so I know I’ve got to keep the reader’s attention, and also my own. Those
Are you disappointed with any of your work 27
www.morpheustales.com are my criteria.
they’re crap and you have to go back and redo them the next day, but that’s not so bad, because invariably the pages you write to replace the dud ones are good ones. You’ve benefited from the mistake. It showed you the wrong way to go, so now you can find the right way.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I have two young sons, so most of my free time is occupied with mucking around with them. We’ve just bought a PS3 and I’m discovering the delights of that, especially Marvel Vs Capcom and the car racing game Blur. I watch huge amounts of movies and quite a few TV series, but I’ve found lately that almost every time I sit down in front of the box, I nod off within ten minutes. I must be getting old.
If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? I’d like to meet Bowie, but I’d most likely turn into a hopeless, gibbering wreck in his presence, so it’s probably best if I never do. Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? Writing a short story is usually the work of a day, at most two, so it’s done and dusted pretty quickly and you get the satisfaction of having achieved a complete work of fiction with relatively little effort. Novels can be a terrific slog, especially around the 60,000-word mark, two thirds of the way in, when you’re past the initial freewheeling downhill enthusiasm of the start but you still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. As for reading, I don’t mind short-story collections, but these days I’d rather read a novel.
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? I love being my own boss, not having to commute anywhere to work, just sitting down every morning in my nice cosy office and starting to scribble. What I don’t like is the uncertainty that comes with any freelance job, the need to keep hustling for new work, the irregularity of my pay structure, the unpaid holidays. What I both like and loathe is the internal pressure to keep creating and keep exploring new avenues. This can be an incredibly stressful and lonely business to be in. Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? I’ve already covered this above, but if I were to name my three desert island books, they’d be Watchmen, The October Country and The Hound Of The Baskervilles.
What are you working on now? Right now, as it happens, I’m resting and just goofing around for a few days. I’ve just completed the first of two Sherlock Holmes novels I’m contracted to write for Titan Books. I managed it in eight weeks, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m waiting to hear back from the editor what she thinks of it. Then I’m going to get cracking on the third Pantheon novella, Age Of Gaia, which is going to be collected along with the other two in a compendium edition, Age Of Godpunk, this autumn. I can’t say a lot about this one at this early stage other than it’s
Do you get writers block? How do you cope with it? I never get it. Sometimes the work can be difficult and it feels like you’re struggling to squeeze out each and every word, but this seldom lasts more than a day or so. Sometimes, too, you go five pages and 28
www.morpheustales.com going to be a slight pastiche/critique of Fifty Shades Of Grey.
way. Britain and France merged in the 1950s. Nuclear powered airships travel around the world. Britain refuses to give back Hong Kong and is on the brink of war with China. The King is recovering from an assassination attempt. Victoria returns to London to deal with the murder of her husband, only to find the policeman who escorted her to the flat dead on the foot of the stairs and his murderer looking up at her, then heading straight for her, his knife poised to kill her too… A Macaque is battling against Nazi forces during the Second World War… This is powerful. The tension starts to rise very early, and as a twisted tale of treason, conspiracy and murder is revealed, it continues to build. The characters are unique, their voices clearly individual, with the monkey adding a level of attitude and humour that really jumps off the page. The one-eyed, pistol carrying, cigar chomping fighter pilot macaque is brilliantly refreshing in his no-nonsense attitude and animalistic simplicity amongst the complex plotting and treachery. The rising tension creates an edgeof-the-seat expectation that could only be satisfied with a powerful climax, so how about fighting and explosions and crashing and… I don’t want to give away too much, but Powel delivers by the bucketload! Powerful, intelligent, filled with ideas, clever touches and brilliant characters. Powell has hit his stride and produced a steampunk SF novel that delivers. I don’t know if Powell is planning a sequel, but when you have a character this good, a follow-up is deserved. I can’t think of a story that could possibly live up to this one, but I hope Powell can! Monkey magic. By Stanley Riiks
Do you have any advice for other writers? Yeah, if you’re better than me, I hate you! What scares you? Not having at least two books lined up ahead, with contracts signed and everything. I can’t stand the prospect of not having enough work. My greatest dread is that some day an editor is going to turn round and tell me my services are no longer required. What makes a good story? If it keeps you turning the pages, shows you something you’ve never seen before, and doesn’t insult your intelligence, it’s a good story. ACK-ACK MACAQUE By Gareth L. Powell www.solarisbooks.com Powell’s first collection, The Last Reef (available as an ebook from Anarchy Books), was exceptional. A book filled with intelligent SF, bristling with ideas and clever stories. I was looking forward to reading Powell’s first novel, The Recollection, a clever SF story based on some of the entries in that first collection. It wasn’t as good as I was expecting. Most of the brilliant ideas in the book came from the stories in The Last Reef. I’d expected more. I wasn’t looking forward to reading this one. It sounded a bit… well, stupid. Also, I’d just finished reading the excellent Sandman Slim, a book filled with character, with attitude, with energy. Not something I would have expected from the “quiet” fiction of Powell. Boy was I wrong! Powell seems to be having a great deal of fun with this book, and fortunately the reader is right there alongside him all the 29
www.morpheustales.com By Stanley Riiks
THE WAY OF THE LEAVES By David Tallerman www.spectralpress.wordpress.com
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012) Directors: Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost
It goes some way to showing you the sheer quality of the Spectral Press publications that when they run a competition for their eighth chapbook, they have the likes of David Tallerman (author of Giant Thief and Crown Thief, published by Angry Robot Books) entering. I haven’t read Tallerman’s novels, but an established author with a publishing contract entering a short story competition for a small press publisher is a massive achievement for Spectral. And Spectral deserves that kind of dedicated, that kind of pull, because they are brilliant at what they do. The eighth (only the eighth and they’ve already confirmed their reputation as one of the best British small press publishers!) magazine-style chapbook features Tallerman’s story, a story of two teenagers whose adventure ends in disaster, but that doesn’t even begin to do justice to this story. Yes, sure, it’s a simple enough story of love and loss, but it’s the sadness that Tallerman portrays that clutches at your heart-strings. It’s well written and the characters are well-rounded, and it reads nicely, but I truly wasn’t impressed to begin with. Halfway through and I was still not thinking this was anything special. I’m glad I persevered (it’s not that this isn’t a brilliant story, it is, but it needs time to build);, it builds into a heart-wrenching urban fantasy. A personal tale of deep loss, and hope and hopelessness. Tallerman provides a soul-chilling tale worthy of the Spectral name. If you haven’t subscribed to this limited-edition chapbook series you may be too late. It’s mostly sold out and deservedly so. The very best of British.
I set about watching Paranormal Activity 4 one rainy Saturday morning with mixed feelings. Though a Box Office success, I had read some rather contrasting reports about this film in the press and wasn’t ready for another ‘lost footage’ film so soon after suffering the embarrassing dirge that was The Tapes. I needn’t have worried, while it won’t win any prizes for originality, Paranormal Activity 4 ticks all the required boxes. The film continues the story arc of the first two instalments, focusing on a new all-American family with a teenage daughter and an adopted younger son. When the woman across the street is apparently taken ill one night, the family offer to take in the woman’s son, a rather weird little kid called Robbie. Robbie wanders the house alone at night, climbs into bed with the daughter, draws satanic symbols all over the young son and sets into motion an increasingly terrifying chain of seemingly supernatural events. Nerve-shredding stuff. The Paranormal Activity films remain proof that thrills and chills can still be achieved within the confines of a limited budget, relying more on building the suspense and a genuinely spooky atmosphere than CGI and spectacular special effects. By C.M. Saunders DREDD 3D Like the first adaptation, this is not a Judge Dredd film made for Judge Dredd fans. Gone is the high gloss and budget of the nineties Stallone travesty (which I actually thought wasn’t terrible) for this more gritty, low-budget, urban version of everyone’s favourite comic book lawmaker. 31
www.morpheustales.com Sadly most of the budget didn’t go to the design of Mega-City One, which looks like a dusty anywhere-metropolis with a few skyscraper habitat/megablocks. And don’t even get me started on the motorbikes. Pish and twaddle come to mind. I could have made a better bike with half a day and some papier mache. So on with the story. Rookie and psychic Anderson is on her first (evaluation) day with Dredd, when a series of drug-related murders brings them to the Peach Trees neighbourhood (megablock). When they arrest a perp for the murders after Anderson “sees” him commit the crime, they are suddenly under lockdown and must fight for their freedom and survival against MaMa, the local crime/drug-lord who sets her crew and all the megablock’s 70,000 inhabitants against the two judges. What follows is a less stylish and tense version of The Raid. Where The Raid offered tension, action and brutally fast martial arts, Dredd offers only gruesome close-up violence and a good deal of action. The thing Dredd 3D does very well is the violence — there are some grin-inducing scenes of heads exploding and bullets tearing through flesh that just can’t fail to bring out the sicko in you. Despite its failures it is still a Dredd film; there’s still the deadpan, no-nonsense brutality (even if Urban can’t really deliver the deep growling drawl as well as Stallone). My girlfriend, who hadn’t seen the previous film or The Raid (and I had to explain to her who Judge Dredd was), actually liked it. This isn’t a bad film, Olivia Thirlby is quite good as Anderson and adds some humanity to the role, Urban isn’t bad (Dredd is a deadpan robotic ill-honoured individual and that’s how he’s played), the story isn’t too bad unless you’ve seen The Raid, and the poor design of the bike and Mega-City One can (only just) be forgiven. But then
why not make a film called The Judge, remove the license and do whatever the hell you want? If you’re not going to stick to the essence of what you are adapting why bother? Why doesn’t someone in Hollywood who has read the comic try writing and directing a Judge Dredd film? Please! A decent enough, violent SF thriller, but this isn’t Dredd. Better than the first maybe, but we’re still waiting for the true British anti-hero of 2000AD to march out of the pages of that comic book. Not for Dredd fans, but those desperate for some violent SF action won’t go far wrong. By Stanley Riiks 14 By Peter Clines http://www.permutedpress.com Clines is best known for his apocalyptic zombie novels Ex- Heroes and Ex-Patriots. This tightly woven mystery suspense novel is as much a departure as it is possible to get, and sees him flexing his literary muscles in ways many of his hardcore following probably didn’t expect. The good news is, he manages to pull it off. 14 centres around a hard-up office worker called Nate, who moves into a new office building where nothing is quite as it seems. Apart from the obvious sprawling mysteries at hand, this novel manages to tackle some rather deeper, existential issues, such as finding ones place in the world and the constant search for belonging in the modern world. Clines assembles a truly startling cast of characters, and this novel is something that will certainly live long in the memory. By C.M. Saunders
www.morpheustales.com of studying history, we mock it. Black and white movies? No way! Subtitles? Ugh! No gore? Are you kidding? We trash Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho for being a carbon copy of the original, but those same people begrudging that notion are the same ones who refuse to watch Hitchcock’s masterpiece because it’s not in colour. We roll our eyes at the remake of Let the Right One In because it was made less than a handful of years after the original. But guess what? You won’t watch the original because it’s not an English language film. We laugh at Black Christmas for being too “talky” when, what we really mean to say, is taught and suspenseful. So we flock to see Black X-Mas, the gore-laden rehash that can’t even remember the original’s proper title. No. Instead we place our horror hopes and dreams into the new crop of hack filmmakers who think they can actually do a better job than the movies they grew up on. Rob Zombie’s Halloween? How about John Carpenter’s Halloween, Rob? For a movie you claim to have seen hundreds of times, somehow you still thought you were remaking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Didn’t you already remake that once before when you tried calling it House of 1,000 Corpses? And how about A Nightmare on Elm Street? Who thought it was a good idea to replace Robert Englund – the ONLY Freddy Krueger! – with the kid from The Bad News Bears? We have only ourselves to blame for the generation we’ve raised. Instead of coming up with the next great idea, we have taught our offspring that it’s okay to take something great and redo it, because hey, no matter what, it’s going to make money. And really, isn’t money the only thing that
“TREVOR VS …” BRITTNEY SCALF: Remakes vs. Originals By Trevor Wright Black Christmas Halloween Friday the 13th A Nightmare on Elm Street In the horror world, they are classics in their own right, some better than others, but all undisputedly original and groundbreaking. Game changers. Black Christmas Halloween Friday the 13th A Nightmare on Elm Street In the horror world, they are absolute garbage, some worse than others, but all undisputedly ridiculous and insulting – albeit with a bigger budget than their original counterparts. Game over. Remake. The very word invokes a shudder through many a fan boy and girl with any degree of love (or intelligence) for their beloved horror genre. When did our horror villains become victims? And why? To answer that we needn’t look any further than to our own creatively retarded black hearts. We have given birth to a generation brought up on instant gratification. The ME generation. We demand the latest in technology: cell phones, video game graphics, the biggest and best in movie making. But the new idea of biggest and best means bigger budget, more complicated FX, and no care for the slightest semblance of story – any story – to string together the increasingly gruesome and mean-spirited kills. That’s all fine and good. And, hey, it comes with the territory. Nothing can stay the same forever. But the biggest problem lies with the notion that anything not made this century is stale and out of date. Instead 34
www.morpheustales.com eventually matters? Not hard work. Not creativity. Not your own original work. The only hope in an otherwise dismal cinematic future is that these same uninspired kids will be just as angry as we are today when they start remaking, say, SAW and Hostel in about two years or so.
possibilities are endless if they wish to take an original and make something fresh and new out of it. Have you ever seen the original version of a movie and thought to yourself, “Man that was great, but what if they added something else?” That’s the mindset, in my opinion, of many writers and directors now when it comes to remaking an older movie. They’re taking something that they’ve seen and adding what they think is the missing piece to a puzzle. Of course not everyone is going to have the same feeling. There are a large number of people who stick to the “old school” way and don’t believe that something original should be messed with, almost as if it were a crime to add your own creative touch to something. Personally I love remakes. They’re a great way of bringing up something older that you already found interesting, sort of rekindling an old memory. Then you can sit and watch both versions and judge which you like better. I love originals, but I also love seeing what people can do to make it new. Take something like the new Halloween, for example. There are so many things that Rob Zombie took from John Carpenter’s version that made it a great film. With dedication and hard work, he took an original classic and made it his own. He even launched Scout Taylor Compton into the world of horror and she is starting to become one of the great scream queens of today’s time. One of the things that I really admire about Rob Zombie and the way he went about making Halloween was the fact that he also used Danielle Harris. She is one of the many parts of the original Franchise (Halloween 4 and 5) that made the two new Halloweens even better. Another set of movies that were taken and re-made were the Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead movies. I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Day of the Dead remake, but I did like Mena Suvari in it. In my
“TREVOR VS …”BRITTNEY SCALF: Remakes vs. Originals By Brittney Scalf For years the horror community has debated the age-old original vs. remake argument, and these questions still hang in the air. Which is better? Are there some remakes that can be just as good as the original? Are some remakes even better than the original? What makes one better than the other? Personally, I think there are many different qualities that can either make or break a remake as well as an original. A good amount of movies are being remade in the past few years. Of course, you have to also look at a few things when you judge which turned out better and the quality, to me, is the key factor in determining which is better. Quality can cover a variety of things including makeup, casting, special effects, lighting, and especially camera quality. You have to remember that a lot of the greatest horror movies ever made were made back in the 1970s and 1980s. Some companies made these films with little to no budget; some made them with the most superb cameras and money. But technology has taken us a long way in the industry, and things have really taken a turn as far as movie making. The really good thing about remakes is you’re still taking that original theme/story and adding that extra kick. The team associated with the movie will add extra spice and make it their own, so to speak. With modern technology and the creative minds of the people who are currently working in the horror industry, the 35
www.morpheustales.com opinion the original was much better. I did, however, like the remake of Dawn of the Dead. It stuck to the original concept with the mall and added a lot of different twists to it. Like the fact that they brought back in Ken Foree and just altered his character to someone with less camera time. He even said one of his original lines from the movie: “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” I loved the choice of casting as well. I’m a big fan of Ving Rhames and I became a fan of many of the other actors that they used. Speaking of zombie movies, original black and white Night of the Living Dead or the 90s remake? I can say I loved both, but I do like Patricia Tallman’s portrayal of the Barbara character better. She had that kick-ass attitude that the horror industry needed. I can’t wait to check out the remake of Evil Dead also! Remakes are kind of a hit or miss at times. You want a great cast and crew so that it doesn’t look poorly done, but in some cases I’m sure that they want to outshine the original and make it better. Without the right cast and crew, the movie can look cheesy and will ultimately fail like any other movie. You have to have just the right amount of everything.
But they can’t prepare for The Ward (a multinational corporation, part police, part military, part government). The Ward takes control of a faltering nation. They “collect” people and their belongings, taking whatever they want or need. They are self-proclaimed saviours of humanity. Gordon’s family is collected and imprisoned by The Ward for hoarding supplies, but the teenage boy manages to escape with his life and sets off to find the mysterious figure called The Crowman: a figure that some say is Satan, and others say is the saviour. While The Ward chase Gordon down, he attempts to find The Crowman. This is a story of discovery. Gordon and Megan Maurice (who also searches for The Crowman) set off into the wilderness to try to find answers although they don’t even know what questions they need answering. Both are at the mercy of a humanity shattered and broken, as well as rapists, murderers, liars, thieves. Both must discover the truth about the Earth, The Crowman, and what happened to the world. D’Lacey paints a disturbing picture of the apocalypse, giving hints of the epic dangers and actions that took place, while focusing on the lives of our main characters and telling the story of these epic events through our protagonists. The horrors, instead of the numbing millions, are directly relatable to the terrors that both teenagers face. The human de-evolution due to the crisis is dangerously clear at every stage. Each new face they meet is a potential danger. This first book sets up the scene nicely, gives us a lot of the background, and sets up a nice cliff-hanger ending that’s left me ready for more. D’Lacey gives us hints of the horrors of the apocalypse, making it a mystery for our protagonists to discover. The story is carefully laid out for the reader to interpret. This is intelligent and subtle, with life-threatening dangers on an
BLACK FEATHERS By Joseph D’Lacey www.angryrobotbooks.com Black Feathers is the first the first volume in the Black Dawn Duology. A story of an environmental apocalypse… Gordon Black is born into a world that is starting to crumble. The very Earth is sick, its disease is humanity. Floods, solar flares, famine, financial crises, earthquakes, mudslides. The old saying that society is only 72 hours from falling apart is going to be tested. The Black family can see what’s happening. They start saving tinned food, hoarding supplies, preparing for the worst. 36
www.morpheustales.com individual scale, not an action-filled battle for Earth’s survival. Not yet at least; there may well be some of that in the second book in this duology (and from the author of MEAT, I’m really looking forward to that). Black Feathers is an original and intelligent apocalypse story. It’s a mythfilled fable of the end of the world on an individual basis. It’s a coming-of-age story set on a cruel and broken Earth. D’Lacey writes with a power and conviction that is scary. This could well be our future. Bring on volume two! Right now! I need to know what happens next! By Stanley Riiks
enthralling. Modern fairy tales do not get much better than this. By Adrian Brady SHADOWS IN INK (VOLUME 1) By George A. Turner http://www.gaturner.com/ This is a six-pack of stories by George A. Turner, masquerading under the collective title Shadows in Ink (Volume 1). As the blurb reveals, ‘It is a collection of short horror stories that range from the paranormal to the realization of selfishness on the brink of damnation.’ Hmm... interesting. The stand-out story here, Work, is a fast-moving and compact little chiller about a newbie’s attempts at dealing with a resident workplace ghost. In fact, all the stories here are fast-moving and compact. Turner certainly doesn’t hang about, getting straight to the meat of the story rather than wasting everyone’s time fannying about, as is the downfall of so many writers. The punchy delivery at times makes it seem as if you are reading transcripts of conversations or witness statements, rather than a work of fiction. The only complaint I would have about this book is its length, when a book is just 56 pages long it has to work mighty hard to justify a weighty price tag. But maybe I just think that because I wanted to read more of Turner’s writing. By C.M. Saunders
THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH FAIRYLAND AND LED THE REVELS THERE By Chatherynne M. Valente www.constablerobinson.com Having come to this second book in the tales of a fantasy/fairy tale trilogy, I was somewhat surprised to find myself completely enthralled within moments and not having to worry that I’d missed some of the story. I’m sure the first volume, entitled The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, set the scene and began this tale incredibly well, but I didn’t find it at all difficult to catch up. September is a thirteen-year-old girl who previously travelled to Fairyland and had her shadow stolen. Now she intends to return to get back her shadows and those of others who have been stolen. Fairyland, as you might imagine, is filled with fantastic characters, and is breathtakingly portrayed by Valente. This is the kind of book for readers who enjoy Neil Gaiman’s stories, or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, the Narnia or Harry Potter stories. Although marketed for young adults, older adults (like myself) are just as likely to find this fairy tale story absolutely
BLOOD FUGUE By Joseph D’Lacey www.salpublishing.com If you are thinking this is another vampire tale from the likes of Twilight or True Blood then think again. D’Lacey doesn’t do pop horror. The man behind Meat and The Garbage Man brings us a new type of 37
www.morpheustales.com vampire novel.Set in the sleepy backwater town of Hobson’s Valley, where a strange disease is infecting the population, a fugue is descending. Kerrigan, a survivalist and recluse is the only one who can save the world from possible contamination as the fugue swiftly spreads through the population of the mountainous town. D’Lacey is unashamedly brutal in his depictions of violence, so this is not a book for the faint of heart; only gruesomenessloving horror fans need apply. However, those who brave the depravity and hideous violence will find an intelligent and new take on the vampire legend, a complete disregard for the sensitivities of humanity, and a brutal and unquenchable thirst for violence. Definitely a novel that every horror fan should read, but those more sensitive souls may be shocked and disturbed by what they witness within these pages. By Adrian Brady
contributing authors include Morgan Bauman, Alex Chase, K. Trap Jones, and Jon Olson. By C.M. Saunders THE MANY-COLOURED LAND By Julian May www.panmacmillan.com Pan is rereleasing the classic Saga of the Exiles series by Julian May in January and February 2013. This classic and award-winning series starts with The Many-Coloured Land. The first book sets up the series, introducing us to the concept and the various characters. In the future (2034), a time warp can be used to travel six millions years back in time. The Spielberg TV series Terra Nova borrowed the idea, and added in dinosaurs. Expecting to find a world ready for them, the disparate group travel through time (on a one-way trip), attempting to start new lives. What they find is a world inhabited by psychic aliens… The main part of the book sets up the characters, known as the Green Group, detailing their various backgrounds. Only towards the end does the story that will continue in the following novels begin. And so begins an epic story, set across millions of years and ultimately encompassing eight novels. For anyone who hasn’t read the books, they are intelligent, brilliantly written, imaginative and, at the time of their publication, ground-breaking. This first, at least, holds up well, even after thirty years. A classic and essential read for any SF fan. By Adrian Brady
LEGENDS OF URBAN HORROR: A FRIEND OF A FRIEND TOLD ME Edited By Gloria Bobrowicz http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ As the title more than suggests, this new anthology from Siren’s Call Publications is based around the theme of urban legends. As the cover blurb says: “We’ve all come across them. The warnings told by a friend of a friend - don’t go in there, I wouldn’t if I were you, did you hear about…?” Interesting concept, and the ten stories drawn together here by editor Gloria Bobrowicz certainly exploit the theme to the max, some more directly than others. Bunnyman by Sean Keller kicks things off, and what a way to start. This twisted tale about a demented serial killer in a bunny suit is well written, filled with nightmarish imagery, and has a twist in the tale that I certainly didn’t see coming. Other 38
www.morpheustales.com better dialogue)3. In film, I can mention three movies that put me down the primrose path to horror: Friday the 13th Part 2, The Keep and Re-Animator. Friday the 13th Part 2 was viewed at a friend’s house during a sleepover and was rented via inattentive parents during the early home video boom. I have never watched it since, and I do not think I really want to, as my memory is very likely better than the actual film. Enough blood and boobs to open the eyes of a ten year old to the possibility of film! Another reason to not re-watch it is that I acquired a bootleg copy of The Keep, after looking for it for many years and remembering it scared me to death when I saw it. What a horrible disappointment after all of these years to find it was utter crap. Just because Sir Ian MacKellen is in a movie does not make it good. Luckily, Re-Animator holds up with it’s over the top, campy gore and remains a favorite. Frights, shocks, thrills and schlock may not win awards, but I don’t care!
The Power of Nostalgia By Jim Lesniak Perhaps it was a simple epiphany, or the cumulative effects of getting older, but ye olde reviewer has been seeing the power of nostalgia lately1. The realization is that in many genres we seem to look for more of the same type of literature and movies that introduced us to something other than parentally approved tracts. We keep “chasing the dragon,” so to speak, to find that first thrill again. The curse of nostalgia may be sequels and/or remakes of diminishing returns: Die Hard series, anyone2? In any event, we are drawn, perhaps against our outward desires, to our early loves in literature, movies, comics and music. Ground zero in literature for me has got to be the Grafton Books three volume H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus (omnibuses, omnniboo, omnibi?) set from the mid1980’s. From the copyright dates, I must have received these in 1986 – a gift from my Uncle Phil from his trip to the U.K. Alas, he had only acquired volumes one and two, not being certain I would enjoy Lovecraft enough to warrant the third volume as well. I devoured both volumes in a single weekend, much to his surprise. This then lead to many attempts to research, pre-world wide web, other authors of weird tendencies, both current and vintage. Conveniently enough, this was during the horror boom of the 1980’s, so there was a plethora of anthologies sprouting up as well as magazines like The Horror Show in wide availability. And so, the search continues for the new weird – something that disturbs as much as the old gentleman (hopefully with
Roy Thomas Presents: The Heap Volume One PS Artbooks http://pspublishing.co.uk For the record, I really wanted to hate this collection and I told this to Roy Thomas himself. Why, you may ask? I spent the better part of twenty years slowly piecing together a complete Air Fighters Comics/Airboy Comics collection to track down all of the Heap’s appearances in addition to the Airboy material; not six
Maybe just hearing “Under the Milky Way” for the first time in years made me wistful. Anything is possible. 2 There are no sequels to Die Hard, only misappropriations of the name. Such is the truth.
Gary Braunbeck, Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum are long term reliable horror scribes that are highly recommended. 40
www.morpheustales.com months after I completed my run, here is the first reprint collection since Eclipse published five issues of Air Fighters Classics in the late 1980’s! If there was an error to be found, I was going to be the one to find it here… This volume covers all of the Heap’s appearances from August, 1941 through December, 1947, covering the mutation of one of the longest running non-verbal characters in comics. For the uninitiated, which will be most of you, the Heap was the first swamp creature in comics, appearing very shortly after Theodore Sturgeon’s “It.” It’s origin changed several times, but the gist is a World War I German pilot crash landed in a swamp, but his will to live bonded his destroyed body with the swamp, allowing it to become ambulatory in time for World War II. The Heap is more a force of nature than a character, sometimes only being marginally involved in the story, although it seems to follow a sense of honor and justice. Much to my chagrin, I cannot find a missing story from this era of the Heap. Roy did his homework and the reproduction quality is fantastic. Personally, I would have welcomed a complete Air Fighters Comics reprint project, but it makes perfect sense to feature the cult favorite backup character in an easily managed three volume project. The usual caveat of Golden Age comics is in effect, namely the writers and artists were still developing the language of comics at that time so the pacing may feel odd to contemporary audiences. Save yourself a couple of decades and pick this one up!4
Neill is having a bad day. Waking up in the morgue with a huge hole in your chest with no memory of what happened is bad enough, but going home to find his girlfriend had moved on in the week since he died takes it to another level. To add insult to injury, his TV (which seems to be a key to the puzzle) is gone, too. The hole in his chest and the baggie of his internal organs, returned to him by the morgue employee, are an external manifestation of his mental changes. This is the first issue of a planned 56 issue series that was a successful Kickstarter project in late 2012. The debut is a well written introduction, giving us enough information to follow along, but holding out the deeper mystery for the later issues. This is a difficult mix to handle; too little information and the Hell with issue #2, too much information and there’s no sense of discovery or drama. The cartoony art is fantastic, with expressions both broad and subtle and an excellent use of body language; an apt companion for the story itself. Apparently, the script for issue #2 is mostly done and the overall story has been planned out. On the strength of this debut, here’s hoping it either gets picked up by a publisher or a future Kickstarter funds the rest of it. Highly recommended and a great read.
Soulless #1 By Logan Giannini and George Kambadais http://logangiannini.bigcartel.com/
Red Angel: The Collected Edition Volume One What the Flux Comics By Erin Pyne and Russ Leach http://whatthefluxcomics.com/
Volume Two arrived as this column was being prepared and looks to be of the same quality. Two down, one to go! 41
www.morpheustales.com Red Angel is an alternate history steampunk adventure set in the aftermath of a devastating robot war. There are airships (including the titular Red Angel) in the employ of the Global Transmospheric Trading Company to battle pirates in the outlying areas. The captain of the Red Angel, Victoria Angel, learns in the pursuit of pirates that GTTC may have more insidious plans afoot and joins the opposition. This reads better in collected format than in single issues due to the complex nature of the narrative. We are trying to learn not only the characters, but the politics, the science and the world view. Waiting between issues, especially an independent title would kill the momentum of the story. The year really does not matter, as the comparative history is not mentioned much, except in passing or in names of items (the Tesla grenade is a favorite). This could easily be a fictional world a la Girl Genius with no mention of “our” Earth or time frame. Red Angel is an interesting science fiction steampunk story that has potential if it can proceed into volume two. The artwork is clean and effective – the different characters and robots are distinct and easily recognizable. There is great potential here as a series of graphic novels if the creators have an end goal in mind with this arc; it feels as if they planned the world and the interactions in advance. Red Angel is recommended in collected form if you have any interest in steampunk adventures.
Tales From William F. Nolan’s Dark Universe #’s 1-3 By William F. Nolan, Jason V. Brock and various artists Bluewater Productions http://www.bluewaterprod.com/ Dark Universe is an anthology series based on the horror work of William F. Nolan, who is perhaps best known for his classic sci-fi tale Logan’s Run. These issues are presently available digitally with a view towards collection in graphic novel format once there is enough material in the can – this makes sense of #1’s cover which features a story not found until #3, but I digress. The benefit of reading multiple issues in a series at once is that trends in writing and production quality can be seen over time. With any anthology, your mileage may vary due to subject matter and the artist(s) involved; the consistency here is that the writing itself is limited to Nolan and Brock so a narrative continuity is achieved. There is a marked improvement in the scripting from the first to the third issue – both stories in issue one feel overcompressed and rushed, basically too big for their page counts. Issue one is the series finding its sea legs, allowing later issues to shine. Once we find ourselves in issue #3, the comic book scripting matches the quality of the source material and good times are had by all. Dark Universe is a nice companion piece to Blue Water’s other anthology title, Vincent Price Presents, with the added benefit of writing consistency. The art, in general, is well-matched to the story and 42
www.morpheustales.com avoids the problem of amateurish execution seen in some of Blue Water’s other books (primarily the biography titles). Anthology comics are a rare breed these days and this should appear to genre fans. As this column is being written, it is a sad time in the horror community, with the deaths of David Silva, James Herbert5 and Rick Hautala6 coming within a week of each other. All were (still are) highly influential writers that had an effect on the genre and those who came after them. If you have never read any of their works, do yourself a favor and pick something up. Then, go forth and write something; if not fiction, write to a favorite author to thank them. I regret never having contacted any of these authors, outside of “friending” Rick on Facebook. Without these writers, many of us would not be involved in the horror genre – they helped popularize the field in the 1980’s and continued to produce their entire lives. David Silva in particular, by producing The Horror Show magazine, showed me that there was an alternate world of fiction – vibrant and disturbing – just under the surface.7 Ye Olde Reviewer started off feeling nostalgic, and ended up feeling old as the previous generation begins to fade into the ether. Cue “Disintegration” and drift into the dark of night.
THE WAY OF THE LEAVES By David Tallerman http://spectralpress.wordpress.com/ A reviewer’s life is not always a predictable one. I chose to review David Tallerman’s The Way of the Leaves thinking it was a new novel – I’ve enjoyed his previous, fulllength work. I was therefore a bit disappointed to discover it was only a thirty two page short story, but I’m pleased to say the disappointment was short-lived. It is more than just a short story. It is a very fine, award winning short story. Published by Spectral Press in 2012, The Way of the Leaves won the Spectral Press 2012 Horror Short Story Competition. Personally, I wouldn’t describe it as horror. To me, it seems more like dark fantasy, but whatever it is in terms of genre, it is haunting, dark and lyrical: a tale of dread and foreboding and a discovery that will change two teenagers’ lives forever. To tell you any more would be to give away the plot, but clearly, if you stumble across an ancient “place between places”, you cannot guarantee that you’ll ever fit back properly into the place you first came from. Go and read the story for yourself – you won’t regret it. By J.S.Watts
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, just remember he wrote The Fog and outsold Steven King in the U.K. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/21/james -herbert 6 Brian Keene expressed the feelings that many in the horror community have of losing Rick. http://www.briankeene.com/?p=13740 7 Without The Horror Show, there would be no Cemetery Dance, and likely no Morpheus Tales. There is a nice eulogy at http://www.robertswartwood.com/uncategorized/ripdavid-b-silva/ 43
www.morpheustales.com get started writing for TV? Stephen Volk Interview I started writing for TV by not writing for TV! I Your latest book is out soon from Spectral Press, started by writing films. entitled Whitstable. Tell us about that. A couple of years ago I woke up with this fleeting I began writing scripts way back in my mid-teens, kind of dreamy idea of a story about Peter Cushing, while I was in school. My best mates and I were set in 1971, when he is besieged by grief after the obsessed by movies and television shows. It was all death of his beloved wife Helen. He is approached that interested us, really. We made short films, and by a little boy who thinks he is Van Helsing (the even got to visit film studios because we wrote to famous vampirethe producers! On hunter Cushing top of this I was played in the always fascinated by Hammer Dracula the idea of what a films) and wants script looked like. I Van Helsing’s help remember buying because he believes the Westworld his mum’s boyfriend screenplay by is a vampire. That Michael Crichton in was the start point. paperback form and But when I told it to the book by my wife that Malcolm Hulke on morning, she said, how to write Doctor “But he’s not a Who. I wrote vampire, right?” obsessively while I And I thought, “No. was studying You’re right. That’s graphic design in art much more college in Coventry, interesting.” in film school in Bristol, and while So my Peter working as an Cushing faces a advertising different sort of evil. copyrighter in One much more real London. I’d send a and tangible than the script off to monsters he fought somebody, lick the in his Hammer stamp, and films, and one that immediately start truly threatens him working on the next when he is at his one, while keeping lowest ebb. down a 9-to-5 job. So by the time I had I’ve done a fair bit the good fortune to of research into be introduced to an Cushing, and agent in my early consulted a number of experts, because I want to twenties, I had five or six (unproduced) scripts under “get it right” and I hope I have, but it’s fiction. my arm. It was a circuitous route, but my first Having said that, I also want it to be a personal screenplay that went into production was Gothic thank-you to one of my favourite actors. One who, (1986) but the first time I talked to the BBC was in some ways, put me on the road to a career more after that, and it was, I think, the producer who or less writing British “gothic” cinema for a living. eventually made Ghostwatch (1992). As often happens, that was a meeting set up by my agent and You are well known for your work on TV, including I pitched one of my ideas because the producer liked an infamous Halloween Ghostwatch. How did you my writing. That’s often how it works. 45
www.morpheustales.com projects that are produced never really represent the You’ve also written a few films, including Gothic by totality of all the things you are writing. They are Ken Russell and more recently The Awakening. just the tip of the iceberg, in fact. How did you get into writing films? As I say, when I first got an agent, I had several What other writers have influenced you? scripts that weren’t sold yet and within three months As a teenager I loved the way Robert Bloch and she sold three of them! One, called Horror Movie, Richard Matheson wrote novels and screenplays and was to Goldcrest. It didn’t happen because Goldcrest were superb at both. I enjoyed seeing their names on went under financially after famously trumpeting a screen and dreamt that one day my name might be big slate of films in the early 80s (of which mine up there too. How amazing would that be?!! was one). But Gothic was sold to Virgin Films and Incidentally, I’ve never thought screenwriting was a all went quiet for about two years until they found a lesser art than being a novelist, and I know that’s director for it, and that director was Ken Russell. sacrilege to some people. A lot of novelists think Funnily enough, I’d wanted Ridley Scott or Peter screenwriting is easy; they look down their noses at Greenaway, but it’s now forever a Ken Russell film, the meagre word count – but they are usually people even though I wrote it entirely on spec burning the who don’t get their screenplays made. Maybe midnight oil while I worked in Ogilvy, Benson & there’s a correlation between those two facts. Mather. Also a massive influence on me was Nigel Kneale. I My career from that point in the late eighties, after I was too young to see Quatermass (except for the tentatively became a screenwriter full time, was a astonishingly good Hammer version of Pit), but I case of alternating between projects in the USA and adored his BBC production The Stone Tape – it was here in Britain, whether film or TV. Not many the first thing I saw on TV that made me think a screenwriters can choose to work exclusively in one solidly, unapologetic “genre” piece could be as medium or the other. I’m not a snob. I love cinema, intelligent and good in characterisation as any other but I don’t see TV as “slumming it,” either. The kind of drama on the box. It made me think I didn’t work is the same in terms of words on the page and need to shirk or be embarrassed about writing horror the way you work, though there is a difference in the and science fiction and be serious about it. way the writer is treated, for sure. In film you are a disposable commodity, especially when a director But my influences are very wide and far reaching, comes on board. In television you work on a script and widening all the time, I hope! I love discovering with the producer, and the director only comes in at new writers, whether on paper or celluloid (or in art a late stage once the production is gearing up. The or the theatre for that matter). I grew up with Dennis latter is a more level playing field. There’s far less Wheatley and Poe. I love Joyce Carol Oates, Pete chance of the writer being replaced or fired. Though Dexter, Neil LaBute, Adam Nevill, Conrad in both cases the chance of a commissioned script Williams, Dennis Potter, Robert Shearman, Stephen resulting in a produced piece of drama is Gallagher, Graham Joyce, Guillermo del Toro – far staggeringly rare. Far rarer than most people too many to mention, really! To give a specific that imagine. And the chance of it even resembling what just popped into my head, I love Bill Condon’s you wrote is, frankly, nothing short of miraculous. script for Gods and Monsters, and that film was an influence on my novella Whitstable. Film can After Gothic I wrote The Kiss for Tri-Star Pictures influence fiction and vice versa. All the time. David after a studio exec took me to tea at the Ritz and Milch’s Deadwood. Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under. pitched an idea to me, and The Guardian with David Chase’s Sopranos. All sorts of things. Just William (The Exorcist) Friedkin for Universal (a good stuff. book adaptation that was originally going to be directed by the wonderful Sam Raimi). There were How do you write, do you just sit down start, or do other film scripts like my ill-fated adaptation of John you plan? Wyndham’s The Chrysalids (which sadly never I never sit down and write. It’s too wasteful. How do came to fruition) – you’d be forgiven for thinking in you know whether you’ve got anything? I jot down the last ten years my focus was on British television; countless ideas, but sometimes they amount to however, there was no conscious choice on my part something, often they don’t. If I have a page of to be a “TV writer.” It’s all a bit haphazard, and the scribbles, or five pages of notes on an idea, it might 46
www.morpheustales.com be a sign there’s something worth thinking about. very difficult to maintain tension at novel length or Then I might open a document. If the document of feature film length. Often it’s all about atmosphere notes develops into something tangible, meaning it and very little about plot or events. I’m enjoying this feels like it has characters and a theme, I’ll then one because I’m thinking of a story about Edgar think about the structure. For a script I always do the Allan Poe and his elusive Narrative of Arthur next stage on index cards, shuffling them until I feel Gordon Pym, and I’ve become interested in the fact comfortable. Then I’ll write a treatment or outline. If that Jules Verne wrote his own version, explaining necessary (or if it’s commissioned) I’ll get feedback. away the enigma of Poe’s. The icy wastelands are Then I’ll write a first draft. So yes, I plan in a lot of chilling in more ways than one. They make me think detail. I forage and collect. Some of it is a stab in the of an alien planet. dark and some is guesswork and you know it will change, but I can’t bear the idea of entering the What's the best piece of feedback that you've had deep, dark forest without a map or even knowing if from your audience? there’s a path. Or even a forest. I hope he won’t mind me saying, but recently the writer John Llewellyn Probert said that when he was A lot of your work involves the supernatural, why? dealing with his cancer, he watched the whole series It appeals to me. I don’t “believe” in it, though! of Afterlife, and by the end he was so much put Walt Disney didn’t believe mice wore trousers. It through the wringer by the story that when he came just appealed to him! out the other end, he felt he could deal with it. He assured me in absolute sincerity, he felt changed. I The supernatural is a fabulous metaphor in terms of was completely shocked and humbled at the idea what people believe or want to believe: and what that a piece of drama – let alone a piece of drama I’d they refuse to believe in, too. A ghost can be a written – could have such a profound effect. wonderful device in a story to discuss themes of loss, regret, memory – a whole number of things. At the other extreme, a lot of people have come up John Ford continually made westerns: the West was to me over the years and said they were terrified of his milieu to say what he wanted to say about the Ghostwatch and that it had had a traumatic effect on human condition. The truth is, I grew up on the them. But generally I prefer to get the reaction that tropes of “horror” and the supernatural, and those something has been moving rather than frightening. are the films and stories that excite me emotionally For me, being scary or disturbing is a means to an and intellectually. I just get a kick out of them. I like end, not necessarily the end in itself. the tussle between the urge to give in to irrational belief and the urge to be rational and reject it. And I What parts of being a writer do you like best? And personally find when you introduce a supernatural or least? uncanny element into a “normal” story it just Of course people think it is wonderful to be your becomes more alive and more vibrant in terms of the own boss, not to have to turn up at work at nine human emotions. It’s the human emotions and o’clock, but you have to turn up at your desk and relationships one tries to examine and portray in the you still have to work, and not many people who end, in drama, or a story. If it isn’t too pretentious, “would like to write” have that discipline. The weird the mystery of what it is to be human beings. And, thing is that sometimes I see someone in a café for me, often (but not always) the supernatural writing in a notebook and I think to myself, “God, illuminates that. That’s why I like it. I’d love to be able to do that – but wait a minute, I can! There’s nothing stopping me!” It just goes to If you could go back in time to when you started show that other people writing looks like fun, but writing and give yourself one piece of advice, what writing yourself is often, well, if not actual torture, would it be? certainly a strange kind of self-punishment for 90% Be bolder. Don’t be shy. Don’t worry about whether of the time. As one of my writer friends says, it’s people like you. Be difficult. work – that’s why they call it “work”! What book are you reading now? Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. It’s a ghost story set in the Arctic. I’m half way through and not much has happened and I like that! In a ghost story it’s
To answer your question a little more seriously: I don’t think I’ll ever like the idea of getting notes or will ever take them in my stride. It’s a process of terrible vulnerability to me, even though I absolutely 47
www.morpheustales.com know it’s necessary and very often you get very Don’t They? by Horace McCoy, and even though it good input from very good people. Sometimes you was written in 1935, it could be about today. It’s can leave a meeting walking on air because the pertinent, beautifully written – and, in my book, it’s project just got better, but equally you can leave the horror. room thinking it’s sunk. The negotiation is always hard because no writer is entirely certain their ideas Which do you prefer screenplays, short stories, or are watertight or the best: if you do you are a fool. for TV? So you have to listen. But what you do after you Well, a bit like Martin Sheen at the beginning of listen is hard. Apocalpse Now, when I’m in one place I want to be in the other. When I’m having trouble on a The worst thing is seeing a finished film that bears screenplay I’d like to be working on television, and no relation to the thing you wrote, and yet your vice versa. Ha! To be honest it is all the same to me. name is on it and it’s too late. You cannot explain to Perhaps stupidly, I do not think any less of a short an audience what you did and didn’t write. It’s there story that I’m being paid zip for compared to a on the screen and nobody can change it. Often by series idea or a feature film that might (longest of then the script has been taken off you or you are long shots, if it’s made) bring me several grand. glad to be off it. They are all my children and they are all equally beautiful. It’s a kick to see your name on screen, but The best thing is the exact opposite – when your it’s also a kick to see your name on a book cover: collaborators bring things to the table that you never the difference with a book is that nobody has dicked thought of. I’m talking about producers, directors, around with it beyond recognition. In television you and actors. As a writer I become irrationally grateful might have your name on screen and it hasn’t been to actors (like Lesley Sharp, or Andrew Lincoln, or dicked around with – but that’s if you get it through Rebecca Hall) who become my characters. You the layers of various commissioning editors. can’t help it. They make them real. The very best feeling is working at the height of your powers when I don’t write short stories to earn money (nobody the producer gives you full rein and a good safety does!), but if you are a writer you want to have net and you are on a roll, and it’s going to be shot in stories read by people and you get sick of, say, three days time (no development hell!) – that kind of working on a television project that gets rejected instant gratification I love. It makes me feel for a after three years and only four people in the world brief fragment of time I know how to do this shit! ever read it. So it’s all swings and roundabouts. The main thing is to keep writing and keep being excited Who are your favourite authors and favourite by the subject matter and the possibilities. books? Very difficult question to answer off the cuff! The marvellous thing, always, is to see it all “Favourite” is hard! The ones that stick with me happening in your head for the first time. Wide always, I suppose, are Poe’s Tales of Mystery, screen. Wonderful actors, perfect photography. Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles and The Lost Sometimes it’s enough to have an audience of one. World, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (my bible, in a way) – but these are all predictable. (Ray Bradbury! What are you working on now? How can I forget Bradbury?) Recently I loved The I’ve just written a treatment for Mick Garris, a film Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, and The Lighthouse director I’ve admired for a long time, and I’m very by Alison Moore. I also like non-fiction, like the excited at the prospect of working together on a big works of Marina Warner, for instance. You screen scary movie. An American one, too. Then sometimes see me reference this stuff in my regular I’m embarking on a new drama series idea with column in Black Static magazine. The Ritual by BBC TV which is a crime/paranormal crossover. I Adam Nevill, again, is a recent book that genuinely can’t say much more at this stage but I’m very horrified me. Adam jokes about turning into a bald optimistic about that one as I think it ticks all the man with a pram full of guns, but he’s the nicest boxes. (For them, and for me!) bloke going. Just one of the amazing friends I’m blessed with in the horror community. Tim Lebbon Then I have a proposal for a novel to write, another and Mark Morris both had outstanding collections novella to finish, and a new screenplay rebooting an out recently. And I recently read They Shoot Horses age-old tale, which at the moment – typically, as I 48
www.morpheustales.com told you – is a bunch of scribbled pages in a drawer, THE HAUNTING OF WHALEY HOUSE (2012) but what the hell, I think I might just write the damn By Jose Prende thing. They can’t shoot you for it! One night Penny, a guide at ‘the most haunted house Do you have any advice for other writers? in America,’ is persuaded by her friends to give First ask yourself this question: do I get ideas all the them a private after-hours tour. The group is joined time and are they good story ideas? Forget whether by a psychic and an amateur ghost hunter (?), who you can write a clever sentence or string two words then proceed to explore the dwelling. You can together. A lot of people, if they are completely probably guess the rest with an unnerving degree of honest with themselves will fall at that first hurdle. accuracy, so predictable it is. The movie poster Two: Ask yourself, are you driven enough to write declares that the film is ‘based on true events,’ and those ideas fully to a finished state, without any sure enough, there is an allegedly haunted Whaley certainly of any outcome, let alone money? Three: House located in San Diego, but any similarities to Are you prepared to listen to advice, and take all the ‘real events’ end there. time it takes to become a better writer? This is not quite at the level where it is so bad it becomes good and turns into a cult favourite. If the answer to all these things is yes, and you’re No, this is just bad. Really bad. The tacky plot is not fooling yourself, then I’d say what Steven non-existent, the dialogue atrocious, the acting ham, Soderbergh says: Talent + Perserverance = Luck. Go and the special effects rudimentary at best. At one for it. Start by calling yourself a Writer, and as Ray point a girl gets possessed by a demonic entity, Bradbury says, if any of your friends laugh at you attacks the group, murders a cop, and gets scolded for that, fire them. Ring them up and say “You’re by her friend for her trouble. “Vanessa, stop that, fired!” right now!” In another scene somebody manages to decapitate himself by running into a piece of string. Finally – take it seriously. Professionally. Don’t be a I wish I could be more positive, I love a good fop. haunted house story, but this film really has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Horrible movie, What scares you? and not in a good way. Ghosts? No. By C.M. Saunders Anger. Loss of control. Force of numbers. Irrationality. The corruption of innocence. The power of a mob. My own cowardice.
DANGEROUS GIFTS By Gaie Sebold www.solarisbooks.com If you like your SF of romp quality, action-packed, exciting and filled with bawdy humour and attitude, then look no further. Babylon Steel is a brothel owner and goddess, who becomes the bodyguard of Enthemmerlee, a very special girl indeed. Those familiar with the first book in the series will know that all is not quite what it seems, there are various plots, treacheries, and secrets waiting to be uncovered by the vivacious Steel. Entertaining with a whole heap of FUN thrown in, Sebold serves up a dish of plenty for the second book in his fabulous series. Fast, furious, action-packed and unputdownable, Dangerous Gifts is a surprise worth reading. Great fun. By Adrian Brady
Also – loud and unexpected noises. I’d say death, but as Woody Allen once said “I don’t fear death: I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” What makes a good story? Integrity. Lack of bullshit or affectation. Precision. Care. Above all, humanity. I don’t want to read perfectly written sentences if they don’t come from a good place in the writer’s heart. But that’s not the same as meaning they should be “nice.” Sometimes it means the exact opposite. Have a good reason for writing it. Not just that it’ll be “cool.” Make sure there’s something at the core that is emotionally true. And though that might be different for different people, never fake it. It’s all we’ve got. 49
www.morpheustales.com If you could be in any movie already made, what would it be? And whom would you play? Peyton Flanders from The Hand That Rocks The Cradle or Gozer from Ghostbusters. Always the villain!
Jocelyn Rose Interview Growing up, were you a fan of horror movies? If so, which ones were your favourites? Oh yes! I started watching horror movies around the age of 12. I loved watching the original Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies on T.V., and really enjoyed MonsterVision on TNT! Halloween is my favourite holiday, so naturally I was and continue to be a fan of Michael Myers.
What exciting projects are in store for you? I am thrilled to be working on a short drama titled “Park Bench,” which was written by one of my very good friends and SAG actor, Darren Conrad. It tells the story of love and loss, and naturally, I play a mean girl. I am filming two commercials next week that will play locally to advertise a public event in July, so that’s really exciting. My face will be all over one of the local stations!
My dad and I watched zombie movies together and we often talk about what movies are on T.V. or coming out in theatres. About half of my top ten favourites now are horror, including the original NMOES, Aliens, and The Lost Boys, if you want to qualify that as “horror.”
This magazine does a lot of interviews with horror authors and publishes a lot of horror fiction. Do you have a favourite horror author and/or book? Stephen King’s older works, in particular It and The Stand. Other favourites include Robert McCammon’s Stinger, and Christopher Pike’s The Season of Passage. I loved Pike’s work growing up. I could read them all over again right now!
When did you know you wanted to be an actress (i.e., work in the industry)? I started acting in fifth grade in the school play and then began acting lessons on and off until the end of high school. I wanted to go to college and major in theatre, but it wasn’t practical. I decided to minor in theatre and prepare myself for a “real-life” type of job with a science major, while doing what I loved on the side. That started out well until I shot a 2x4 across the Stagecraft classroom by accident and then decided I wouldn’t minor in theatre because I was transferring and again, it didn’t seem practical. I started working on independent movies in 2008 and didn’t get my first horror movie until 2011. There is not a lot of horror work being done in central NC, I’ve found. I hope that changes!
Where can your fans go to learn more about you? I have an IMDB page where they can see what projects I have filmed. I hope to have a website sometime over the next year. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4103332/
-----------------------More Scream Queen Interviews are available in Women in Horror, free to read and download here: http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/womeninhorror Or buy the printed version here: www.lulu.com/spotlight/morpheustales
What’s your favourite movie (already filmed) that you’ve been in? Why? I have a tie. A Killer Christmas Carol was the horror movie that I worked on in January 2011, and I had a blast filming it. My favourite type of character is the bitchy type, because being bad feels so good! I love the adrenaline I get from running and screaming, and AKCC allowed me to do that. The other film I really loved working on is titled Dinosaur, and the role was a naïve, but sweet woman who starts a dating a real dinosaur. Yes, a dinosaur in the 21st century, and a perverted one at that.
-----------------------Morpheus Tales Back Issues and Special Issues are available exclusively through lulu.com http://stores.lulu.com/morpheustales For more information, to order or subscribe visit our website: www.morpheustales.com Morpheus Tales #20 Review Supplement, January 2013. © COPYRIGHT April 2013 Morpheus Tales Publishing, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Review can be used, in full or in part, for publicity purposes as long as Morpheus Tales Magazine is quoted as the source.
Published on Apr 3, 2013
52 pages of genre non-fiction, including author interviews with Joseph D'Lacey, James Lovegrove, Gareth L. Powell and Stephen Volk. Gormo an...