Saturday, 29 October 2016

Guest Blog!! TW Brown chats about.....

I stumbled across TW Brown in the autumn of 2013 at the time he was meerly a named editor in another much loved authors book series; give it a whirl I thought. I love the apocalyptic genre AND series, so imagine my delight when I discovered TWB!

I was soon suckered in and the next DEAD become something I waited for and relished. At book 10 I started to realise that this must come to an end, TWB had made it very clear that 12 was the magic number.  Yes, there were add ons, other series he was writing (Zomblog and That Ghoul Ava are amoung my favourite worlds) and bonus content BUT in two books time THIS world was ending.......

However, it seems TWB has more to give his fans (horah) and this is him (yes really!) on MY blog explaining why, how and what to expect. So, read on and enjoy!

Oh, but before I go here is his Newfoundland "pup" !!

Returning to the DEAD world

When I sat down and began writing the original DEAD series, I hoped that I would be able to put together a 4-book series. As the story unfolded before me, I realized there was so much going on…and that led to my producing 12 books (that was over 1,000,000 words!). The truth is that I could have gone on MUCH longer. There is a gigantic ten-year time jump for example. But I knew the ending, and to reach it in 12 books, I had to skip ahead.

I found that I skipped over a lot of details as I plowed ahead to that ending. Yes, I could’ve easily discarded my 12-book total announcement. However, I’d made that announcement publicly. I know of one writer that ended a series at book 6. This person went on to other projects that I was hired to edit. One day, book 7 of that series arrived in my email. I sent back a query. 

Me: “Hey, I thought you were done with this one.”
Reply: “Yeah, the other stuff isn’t making the money like “Series X” so I am gonna extend it.”

I thought that was unfair to the fan base. And while I admit this is a business, I just thought it was playing dirty. However, true to the hopes of this writer, the fans scooped up the additional books in large numbers. So, I guess that is okay. I just feel that I gave my word. I wasn’t going to be like The Who and have twenty Farewell Tours” when it came to the DEAD series as the fans knew it.

To that end, I have produced the DEAD: Snapshot—{insert town here} collection of standalone novels. To date, Portland, Oregon; Leeds, England; and Liberty, South Carolina have all received the DEAD treatment. I think the Leeds, England book is some of my best writing. It is one of the books that I truly felt good about. As a writer, I often feel my stuff is lacking.

So, all of this brings me to the real reason I am here with you today. On October 31, 2016, the DEAD world will be the setting of my new series. It begins with DEAD: Onset (Book 1 of the New DEAD series).

So, what makes this different? For one, this series will be through the eyes of one man: Evan Berry. No rotating chapters with Geeks and Vignettes; just the story of one man trying to figure out what is going on and then how to stay alive.

Evan is just a regular guy. I think that resonates more with readers than some military super-soldier packing an arsenal and having a way to rig every situation to his liking. Evan will make mistakes. Sometimes, I am betting that the readers may not like him very much. You will be inside his head, and we all know that we’ve thought things that would cause those around us to be shocked or think badly of us. You will be privy to those thoughts when they cross Evan’s mind.

The real Evan!!

What I hope to do with this series is to explore the world a bit more closely. One of my favorite twists in the mythology of the zombie is how children are different after they turn. I was inspired along this track when I was in a college psychology class. The topic of how much more active the young mind is, how open it is to learning gave me the inspiration that my child zombies would have a degree of sentience. That makes them a bit more frightening. While not actually holding on to their humanity…they are somehow different. They don’t just walk into a storm of bullets. They lurk. They wait.

Additionally, I think I was one of the early writers to explore the idea of possible immunity. That comes from Stephen King’s The Stand. The human immune system is a mystery. Some people just do not get whatever bug or virus is making the rounds. SO why shouldn’t there be those who are immune to the bite? However, once bitten, why not make that person a carrier? Imagine the schism that would eventually arise as the survivors had time to get past that first shock. And now, a person bitten but immune could infect another through fluid exchange. Think back to the hysteria and societal over-reaction to HIV and the AIDS virus. Strip away law and order, toss in those who feel they are now “The Chosen” as well as those who see the immune as dangers and abominations.

It doesn’t take long in my zombie books for zombies to become the least of people’s worries. DEAD: Onset (Book 1 of the New DEAD series) has no set number of volumes. I will write this story until I have nothing left to say. I am not in a hurry to reach an endgame. I want to suck the reader into this world and make them feel every emotion possible. Happiness, sadness, anger. I hope you enjoy it. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: I feel that every new book is my audition. 

I look forward to hearing how you feel about this book. I don’t go out seeking a flurry of 5 star reviews. It is impossible to be all things to all people, especially in the entertainment world. And I often learn things from well thought out critical reviews. If you can’t take those 1 star stingers that come every so often…you are in the wrong field. Do they feel good? No, but as long as you are seeing more love than pleas that you never take up the pen again, you should feel like you are on the right track. Let’s hope I am with my new series.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Cat with Cthulhu Eyes by Suzi M

SM takes the Lovecraft “monster” and twists into her own. To mix it with cats was just magic!

I felt her characters were full bodied and were given a great sense of realism. This added to the slow build up and dawning realisation of what was about to unfold, can’t give the game away can I !!

A superbly written piece and I could not help but gawp in awe at how much this authors style and talent have evolved over the years I have been following her.

A charmingly creepy story that really left me chilled.

Is that not the cutest and spookiest cover btw!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Film Gutter Vol. 1 by Alex Davis

I really enjoyed the introduction of this book and how the premise for the reviews originally came about. 

Basically, this is an A-Z collection of all the film reviews done by AD over 2015 for The Ginger Nuts of Horror  blog.

I loved all the reviews being put into one place but would have liked them changed in some way for the book, you can just visit the site for the same information, that said it IS a pretty book and nice to have sat on your shelf.

I found the introductory paragraph to each review very tedious after a while, to keep rereading “so here we are again at Gutter Review” was mind numbing.

Equally I would have liked some form of retrospective update of the reviews having been collected this way. That said I did like the top ten round up at the end of the book and would have been interested seing a 2016 potential watching list.

Not sure If I should count myself lucky that I have not seen many of the films (I think maybe 2!) in this review book but now feel I can really pick out the ones I am brave enough to watch and those that really I won’t waste my life on.

I love this blog anyway but seemed to have missed this Gutter Review, probably due to the film titles…. But I have enjoyed this collective review.

Bring on 2016 and Vol.2

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lost Film by Mark West/Lantern House by Stephen Bacon

Lantern House by Stephen Bacon:

Paul Madigan a reporter for a small local newspaper goes in search of a “long lost” film director, r Rutherford, whom he adored as a young man to interview him about his long lost, underappreciated, films. He now lives in isolation on Lantern Rock island.

Before setting off across the causeway he meets Ellie Gibson, she is there to photograph the wildlife on the island and attaches herself to Madigan like a limpet, but with all things in this story not all is as it seems.

Intrigue starts in the first paragraph as the two main characters (Paul & Ellie) are introduced and established early on.  Brilliant use of interaction and dialogue to show personality. 

During Madigan’s interviews with Mr Rutherford, the author was clever in using Ellie’s complete ignorance as a sounding board for the more intricate information given.

The descriptions of films were amazing; actually felt like I was watching them.  When Madigan is invited to a private viewing all sorts of horrors start to occur. Ghostly faces, shapes in strange places, odd sexual goings on and things popping out of projector screens. Actually that last one did make me jump.

Relentless in its bombardment of titbits for you to piece together, then the horror, the gore and final reveal which was brilliant, unique and well thought out.

Such brilliant attention to detail!

The Lost Film by Mark West:

Gabriel Bird is a Private Detective, his personality is shown early on with some great character interactions and inner dialogue.

The “Anselmo business”, often eluded to but never quite explained, its elusive nature sets the tone for the story.

The amount of research that went into the film industry is immense, it really shows, the digesting and then spitting out in an understandable fashion is impressive and I now feel as if I could do a mastermind round on it!

Nicely linked straight away to Lantern House but with a completely different feel and texture to the writing style.  It was full of humour and nostalgia – wonderful.

Foot massage erotica; I’m just going to leave that there, right in the middle.

Monochromatics; the main “horror” of the story, again never fully explained which gave my imagination all sorts to play with! Angels, demons, possessed people or just a trick of the light?

I really loved the way MW describes the mundane moments of life and makes them come alive.  Can’t wait to get stuck into more from these authors.

Monday, 17 October 2016

High Moor 3: Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds

Firstly, just look at that amazing artwork.....

Lovely dedication and great comments from the author with regards to how the trilogy made it this far and the very beginnings of why GR decided to write it.

Having listened to Chris Barnes doing the audio of books 1 & 2 I now “hear” all these wonderful characters in such brilliant 3D accents but then CB is an amazing narrator, plus he has good material to work with.

GR is OCD in his attention to detail. It really shows in every sentence of the book how thorough he is in his research. I’m sure he must have a shed full of werewolves that he has actually watched transform as everything else is so perfect.

The blood, gore and succulent organs are in full force in the book.  Some very violent and sad deaths, I truly grieved for one in particular. There are weapons, fight scenes and transformations galore; nobody can judge there to be any shying away of the grotesque – so beware!

The underlying storylines, are of course, always fantastic but would love to know more about the in between stories; how did Michael become pack alpha, why was Connie so twisted and how did Marie become so awesome. Don’t get me wondering on the weird American!

The horror yet majesty of GR werewolves is brilliant he makes clear distinctions between “turned” and moon borne, rabid and calculating field operatives.

GR is a brilliant manipulator of your worst fears from being followed in the dark to children left in a crèche, what could possibly go wrong.

As for The Daily Fail headlines had me in stitches even if the subject matter was sad.  GR also manages to cram in some really humorous moments which just really set you up for a massive “jump” like the old Twilight Zone series.

Not sure which death is worse but think Kat Yares would have been so proud of hers.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Snow by Paul Kane

I really enjoyed reading the “praise for Paul Kane” at the start of this novelette, this is unusual as I find self-promotion a bit sickly, however I was intrigued by some of the names mentioned, high praise indeed and, as it turns out, all warranted.

PK grabbed my attention with his introduction, I really do enjoy finding out how a story developed for an author, although the constant stream of name dropping had me rolling my eyes by the end.

PK is an excellent master of vivid description, he uses words beautifully to evoke the mental image of a scene. With his fast moving narrative, I was soon imbedded in the story.

Angela’s family background and history are swiftly and succinctly dealt with giving you just enough information to get a brief snapshot of her life and understand the dynamics, grinning at all the comparisons and links to the original fairy-tale.  The overall premise IS the story is Snow White. All the elements from the “original” are there but PK has brought them in to the modern world with a bang.

I loved Angela’s inner dialogue as it really pulled the story along and gave odd flashes of tongue in cheek humour.

PK was very clever in adding all the elements that were so central to the fairy tale and slotting them in so I barely noticed them until they slapped me upside the head and made me grin like an idiot.

There is just a splash of gruesome and horror as in all good fairy tales.

Overall, I really loved the way PK writes and will definitely be seeking out other titles by him to enjoy.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

At Hell's Gates Vol 2 - Anthology

Another AMAZING anthology! a real varied mix of authors.

Pulse by Mark Tufo:
Sam has invented a bug zapper with a difference. Julie, his wife and Arni the lawyer are seeing dollar signs, large ones, little ones and portable ones.

However, the Gov’ is never far behind once you apply for a patent, neither is a certain Hit Man; Emery.  However, unlike Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition, I have learnt with this author to always expect the unexpected and Julie is my hero.

The humour in the story made it a brilliant read and what a fantastic start to this anthology, which has a reputation to upkeep after book 1.

Cookies for the Gentleman by C.T. Phipps:
The narrator describes the worst monster which has followed him through life with various unspeakable torments.

He is placated finally by, of all things, the perfect cookie.   However, the author manages to make cookie baking a terror all its own.

Short and sharp, I loved how this progressed, the writing style was easy even if the subject matter was not.

By Any Means Necessary by Evin Ager:
Sargent Jason Burrows is on guard duty and he hates it. On some god forsaken island in the middle of nowhere he sees this as a total kick in the teeth from the Army.

Then the dreams start, then the goo, the disappearances and finally a climatic end that had me both riveted and disgusted; fantastic.

An author for me to put on my TBR list – these anthologies must have it up to a mile long by now.

History’s End by Frank Tayall:
Dr Marcus Holloway made a video, he also made a virus.

Following a series of breath holding moments, some clever skulduggery and the odd bit of espionage the world ends, but of course!

Would love to have read more, had the story extended into a novella etc. another TBR author, see what I mean!

A Mother’s Nightmare by J. Rudolph
A woman finds a suicide note whilst scavenging post apocalypse.

It is a sad story and I was getting upset myself until the dogs, then I couldn’t have cared less about this loving pre apocalyptic family, but that’s me, animals will always be equal in my eyes.

I liked the overall idea and the plotline was a good one, the characters and emotion they evoked was very real.

Patient 63 by Stevie Jonas:
Fabulous story of an infected who falls in love, yup you read that right!  Not all goes well of course but the love story was great, the outline and surrounding characters were well thought and fleshed out.

Tyrannical Ascension by Shana Festa:
Always and easy and fascinating read from SF, trouble is I always want a bit more.

Basically a tale of how sneaky, nasty and calculating humans can be, this just happens to be post-apocalyptic. Not forgetting the twits that follow them.

A fast paced descriptive read. A much sort after and solitary tattooist is sort out by a client who is unsure what he is searching for.  However, the tattooist muse is all too aware.

The drawn out fight and torment scenes are yucky but weirdly intoxicating. I liked the fullness of the story and how well it was structured.

The Man with Four Scars by Stephen Koziekski:
I found lots of contradictions in this story eg. Not able to name items as language skills so primitive but able to tell night time, fireside stories?

At first it distracted me but I was soon enveloped in the story of this self-made town hero falling a fallen star and the strange green goop it emits; green goop is never a good thing!

Whilst I enjoyed the overall story and its unique take and twist on an often tired zombie genre I was annoyed at the author for keep changing the parameters of his characters.

Daddy’s Girl by Ian Mclellan:
What are the worst things you can do? Kill? Maim? Torture? Ignore?

Loved the lure in, the character fill out and then the thrusting twist in the tale. A well written story and a funny bio of the author.
Operation Devil Walk by David Mikolas:
Set in WW2 with the Nazi occult obsession as it main force a group of academics, drafted by the military is set to infiltrate a far flung island to find proof of strange goings on.

The ensuing story is both sad, horrifying and totally captivating.

The Infected by S.G. Lee:
Too many names to keep track of at first but then the little feuds amongst the Medics fighting for a faculty position start to focus their individuality.

A task is set to weed out the weak applicants and of course, this is the perfect back drop for a spot of wild research.

I liked the way the story was told in dialogue as it gave a great emotional feel to the story.

Forget Me Never by Sharon Stevenson:
Just what is the true price for fame? What lengths will people go to too get it?  A fabulous narrated story of murder, decay and fame.

Mileage by Sean T. Smith:
A surrealist tale of humanity trying to survive and a dying man’s hallucinogenic dreams.  A bit too weird for my liking but then that’s why I love anthologies so much, I’m sure some people will adore this story.

The Milestone by Lesa Kinney Anders:
Such a sad and chilling story. I’m not sure what was more horrifying the monster or the disease. I really liked the slow unfold of characters and plot line.

Genesis by Kit Power:
A son chases after kidnapped, crook father. The suggestions of torture via dialogue were very clever and made the reveal even more sticky.

This serves as a prequel to the author's new novel God Bomb! which I have recently enjoyed.  Overall I felt this was a little wordy compared to his novel, but it’s a good flavour of his writing style.

Lock Down by T.M. Caldwell:
Apparently this is the author's first published short, she is working on a fantasy novel; judged on this, I can’t wait for that!

I loved her open and caring writing style, I really felt for her characters and squirmed at the dangers they were facing.

The ending was a great crescendo to a well-paced story throughout, like the slow thud of footsteps that follow you on a dark night.

Collect Night by Curran Geist:
A bit more a fantasy tale with an alien flavour which is great after all that undead!

Hank is desperate to get home to save his new family after a terrifying phone call. CG does well to evoke the distress and builds on our fears of family loss going down every possible nasty avenue of thought on the journey home.

The off world critters he describes are both sad and fear evoking and, again, I was found wondering what a longer novella would be like.

Loved the author bio.

The Cold by Devan Sagilini:
Darren is not a likeable guy, a beach bum who thinks he deserves more. A chance letter post a death and he thinks his ship has come in, but hang on this is a horror anthology nothing is THAT nice!  

Great writing and build-up of character, hard to make one so dislikeable yet not cliché.

A Different Cocktail by Claire C. Riley:
The things men will do for a BJ!

A weird gothic night out and the narrator suddenly feels very hungry; an old story retold, but done well.

I liked the way it spiralled me down with the narrator, thankfully I didn’t vomit or slough my skin but I was in need of a ham sandwich post reading.

A Song to Sing in Babylon by Bobby Medvedev & Michael Baugh:
Monster children of SET are awaiting the uprising and doing various things to speed that along; rock concerts, portent watching, disease and dismemberment.

The exchanges between family members was interesting, especially seeing different views of madness.  However, the ending was a bit sharp for me after all the build-up.

The Gouger by Paul Mannering:
Murdering orcas and kicking dogs off boats (albeit accidently by the character) is not my idea of a good read and I declined to fish this story, shame as it was the last story in thus far a great anthology.

Sorry author but I can’t read any form of animal harm/cruelty that is MY taboo subject.

Overall I really enjoyed this second in the Hells Gates and I can’t wait to get stuck into book 3.

ps - sorry if i got anyone's names wrong!!

Monday, 10 October 2016

That Ghoul Ava on the Lam by TW Brown

Jump on a few months and my favourite pop culture referencer and dead body muncher is back in favour with the fairies having royally upset them in the last story. However, she is now hunted by the Templars.

We start this story with her throwing doggy poop down a neighbour’s chimney! You have to read this now huh!  With two hilarious Great Danes who are so dense they are a comedy double act, please let them be a bigger part in the future

There are hilarious moments in this book and you can tell that TWB really enjoys writing this character but there is also a dark and sad edge to it, please read the forward to understand the mind-set, also because the author really puts a part of himself in there.

This chapter sees Ava battling a revolting creature and coming to terms with certain facts about her undead life now and the community she has joined. As the story comes to a close it is clear another danger is imminent, great tease TWB!

Having visited Portland, Oregon, and had a personal tour given to us by TWB (ok I’m showing off now) I loved all the references to the places.  A Xmas tree farm!!! Wahahahah (personal joke from TWB – btw if the books he writes get 5* from me it’s because he has EARNED them, not because we are pals, he sucks – I tell him, but so far so good!)

I thought I cracked how to read these by always having one in the wings, so to speak but now I am Ava bereft.  Smaller more frequent bites (pun intended) please TWB even if you have to split a few books, like the old Saturday morning cliff-hanger movies!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Aftermath: Demon Squad by Time Marquitz

Poor Frank (aka Trigg, son of the “off on his jollies” Devil) has descended into abject grief at the loss of his Karra and inability to care for Abigail, their daughter.

Breaking his already shattered heart he leaves Abigail to his Angel cousin Scarlett and her Vampire lover Katon, not forgetting Chatterbox my favourite zombie head as lead baby entertainer.

Sat in a bar in the middle sucksville he is trying to get drunk or high, neither possible for a demon, but when he thinks he witnesses the end of the world ala atomic bomb his attitude is thrust into his begrudging yet caring, protecting demeanour.

No obvious horror moments just a steady slew of gory descriptions as this chapter of the series rushes along never leaving me a moment to put this book down until the finale, which is another rush of excitement as TM brings all the clues and elements together at the end for a thrilling and fulfilling ending, but of course always left open for the next instalment.

I loved the little reminder phrases that TM puts in so they don’t overload the avid reader but do refresh those that need it! (ahem!)

Whilst there has always been an element of religion wrapped in these books TM really poses some serious questions in this one, ones I really liked.

As always Trigg’s story is never truly over but another disaster has been averted; for now.
I really missed Chatterbox in this book but enjoyed the expansion of so many other characters.

On a down point there were tiny errors in the editing which upset my flow of reading so were irritating but not devastating, the odd missing letter/s which changed the word or phrasing.

Bonus feature at the end of Clandestine Daze first chapter!