Monday, 29 February 2016

Guardians Of The Dead, by S. L. Wilson (a review)

In a new edition of the occasional series (though this isn't a horror novel, even if it does have some gruesome moments), I want to tell you about a book that I've read and really enjoyed.
When sixteen-year-old Amber Noble’s dreams begin to weave into her reality, she turns to the mysterious Connor for help. His links to the supernatural world uncover a chilling truth about her hometown and a pact that must be re-paid with blood.

As her father alienates her, and the Guardians take her best friend, her true destiny unfolds, and she begins a quest that well see her past collide with her present.

Drawn deeper into the world of witchcraft and faeries, it is only at the end of her journey that she realises how much she could lose.

Sixteen-year-old Amber Noble lives in Hills Heath, a town with an abandoned church at its centre and a strange, often bloody, history.  When Amber’s dreams become premonitions, she seeks help at the town magic shop, run by India and her handsome nephew Connor, discovering her true nature and the pact that holds Hills Heath to a bloody ransom.  Alienated by her father, her best friend kidnapped, Amber is drawn deep into the world of witchcraft and faeries as she tries to save them both.

I think this is the first YA fantasy I’ve read - generally, fantasy isn’t my thing - and I really enjoyed it.  The characters are vivid and Amber makes a likeable heroine, struggling with her changing feelings as well as the fact that her life might not quite be as straightforward as she’d imagined.  Her burgeoning relationship with Connor is well observed and believable and when another character later comes between them, the tension is well handled.  The plotting is precise and thorough - from the Guardians who have the blood-pact to keep out the demons, to the lands of Phelan and Avaveil and those people who inhabit both - and it runs at a good pace, especially in the climax which is a real page-turner.  The ending works for the book, though leaving plenty of threads hanging for the sequels and I’m very much looking forward to reading them too.

Great fun, spooky in parts and gruesome when it needs to be, I’d recommend this.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Matte Paintings from the "Star Wars" Original Trilogy

As regular readers of this blog will know, I'm a big fan of behind-the-scenes stuff to do with movies and matte paintings are one of my favourites (you can find my other posts on this link).  Still used today (though they're almost completely digital now), matte paintings were created on large sheets of glass, usually in oils or pasels, in order to integrate live-action footage (actors, backgrounds, etc) into an environment that would be too expensive or dangerous to build, film on or visit.

Back in October 2013, I wrote a blog about the matte paintings used in "Return Of The Jedi" (to coincide with the 30th anniversary) and it seemed to go down well.

When I realised how long it had been since that post, I thought it was about time I took a look at other fantastic matte paintings used in the original trilogy.  Hopefully you'll find some surprises in this selection...

Star Wars (1977)
Directed by George Lucas
Harrison Ellenshaw supervised the Matte Dept. but was moonlighting from Disney so didn't take a credit
The escape pod and Tatooine - painted by Ralph McQuarrie
The Jawas take R2D2 to their Sandcrawler- painted by Harrison Ellenshaw
(the bottom behind-the-scenes photo shows just how much of the sandcrawler was actually built)
The Throne Room sequence - painted by Harrison Ellenshaw

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Matte Painting Supervisor: Harrison Ellenshaw
The bridge of the Executor - painted by Harrison Ellenshaw
note - only one side of the bridge deck was built and the film was flipped to make two sides
The Millennium Falcon arrives on Bespin - painted by Ralph McQuarrie
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker square off in the Reactor Shaft - painted by Ralph McQuarrie
Luke is about to learn an uncomfortable truth (can you still give a spoiler for a film that's 36 years old?)
- painted by Ralph McQuarrie
The Bespin welcoming committee - painted by Harrison Ellenshaw

Return Of The Jedi (1983)
Directed by Richard Marquand
Matte Painting Supervisor: Michael Pangrazio
The Skiff battle (note that Lando is part of the painting), to remove struts and mattresses - painted by Frank Ordaz
Battle in the Endor forest - painted by Christoper Evans

The Empire Strikes Back Matte Department, October 1979
from left: Michael Pangrazio (painter), Craig Barron (assistant photographer), Ralph McQuarrie (painter), Neil Krepla (photographer) and Harrison Ellenshaw (painter and supervisor) in front

Harrison Ellenshaw (born 20th July 1945 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) followed his British-born father Peter (also Harrison's birth name) into the film business, starting his career at Walt Disney Studios.  Moonlighting from there, he supervised and painted on "Star Wars" (1977), joining ILM for "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980). He also worked on "The Black Hole" (1979) - for which both he and his father were nominated for an Academy Award - "Tron" (1982) and "Dick Tracy" (1990) amongst many others.  Ellenshaw is now a fine art painter.

Ralph Angus McQuarrie (13th June 1929 - 3rd March 2012, born in Gary, Indiana) served in the US Army during the Korean War (where he survived a shot to the head).  Upon returning to the US, he studied at the Art Center School in California, working for a dentistry firm, before becoming a technical illustrator for Boeing where he helped animate CBS News's coverage of the Apollo space program.  After producing some illustrations for Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins, they suggested him to their friend George Lucas, who was starting work on his film "The Star Wars" and wanted some production paintings to help sell his complicated script.  McQuarrie said later, "I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea. I didn't think the film would ever get made. My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn't be enough of an audience. It's just too complicated. But George knew a lot of things that I didn't know."

Amongst many others, McQuarrie designed Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C3P0 and R2-D2 and drew concepts of the films sets and ships.  He went on to work as the conceptual designer for both "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" and also played (uncredited) an Echo Base General in "Empire".

In discussion with George Lucas
In addition, he re-designed the USS Enterprise, designed "Battlestar Galactica" (1978), worked for Steven Spielberg on "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" (1977), "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" (1981)  and "ET: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) and his concept work on "Cocoon" (1985) won him the Academy Award for Visual Effects.

He was offered the designer role for the Star Wars prequel trilogy but felt he had "run out of steam" and retired.  Even so, his original designs and unused concept art are still influencing the saga, both with the animated TV shows and also with "The Force Awakens".

McQuarrie died in his Berkeley, California home from complications of Parkinson's disease and is survived by his wife Joan.  Following his passing, George Lucas said, "His genial contribution, in the form of unequalled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'do it like this'."

Details of the Return Of The Jedi team can be found at my blog post here.  There will be an Appreciation of Ralph McQuarrie post later in the year.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Writing update

It's been a while since I did a post about my writing (last August, other than stories being published, which you can read here), so I thought it was about time I did a bit of an update.
Things are pretty good, I’m pleased to say and 2016 is shaping up well on the writing front.

So far this year, I’ve seen The Sealed Window (in The Hyde Hotel anthology, edited by James Everington & Dan Howarth) and This Is The Colour Of Blood (in the Chromatics anthology, edited by Dean M Drinkel) published and there are several more on the horizon.

I’ve also managed to keep up the pace with my writing, having completed two shorts - The Order Of Aries (featuring my recurring character Mike Decker for A Zodiac Of Horror, again from Dean M Drinkel) and the gruesome love story Deb Loves Robbie (for Easter Eggs & Bunny Boilers, edited by Matt Shaw).

Aside from some essays and articles for the blog (which I’m thoroughly enjoying researching and writing), my next project is a novella for Hersham Horror Books (Peter Mark May’s publishing imprint, for whom I edited the Anatomy Of Death anthology back in 2013).  He’s been asking me to write him a novella for ages but, for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to do anything.  I got an idea late last year that excited me so I pitched it to him and he liked it and that’s what we’re going with.  Currently untitled, it’s a gruesome, action-packed horror story featuring a group of friends and what they find in an old, abandoned factory that has a less than pleasant history to it.  It will be launched, along with novellas by Steve Bacon, James Everington, Phil Sloman and a collection from Marie O’Regan at FantasyCon-by-the-sea in Scarborough, this coming September.

After that, I’ve been invited to contribute a story to a charity anthology based around the music of a very famous singer, which I’m thrilled (and nervous) about (and will let you know more when I’m able).  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet (truth be told, I’m a bit scared) but I’m looking forward to it.

Following that I’m going to start planning a new novel, which I’ll hopefully begin work on during the summer.  Following the success of Drive and the novella I’ll discuss in a minute, I’ve decided to edge slightly out of horror and into dark thriller territory with it.  I don’t have a lot of the plot worked out yet - apart from the main character and her situation, as well as a gruesome murder set piece - but I talked it through with my friend Sue Moorcroft as we sat on a train at Leicester station and she liked it.

My final piece of writing news is a project that I hope you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the weeks to come.  Last year, Neil Buchanan of Stormblade Productions emailed me, asking if I’d like to write something for them to be published in print, as an ebook and also as an audiobook.  I liked the sound of that - I’ve never been ‘audiobooked’ before - and even better, it would be narrated by Carrie Buchanan, who’d done an excellent job on Everett Smiles.

Knowing I'd be writing for Carrie to read, I decided to make my lead character a woman and then heard “New Sensation” by INXS which gave me the idea for an event that would lead my protagonist to Paris.  I pitched the idea to them at FantasyCon in October, wrote the first draft through November and the second during December.  I let it sit for a while and did the third draft, taking in pre-reader comments, in mid-January and Neil accepted it a couple of weeks later.

The novella is called Polly, it’s a thriller (complete with a couple of creepy moments and some messy violence) and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.  More details as we get closer to the publication date.

Like I said before, 2016 is shaping up very nicely indeed...

Monday, 8 February 2016

This Is The Colour Of Blood

I'm pleased to say that "Chromatics", the new anthology edited by Dean M. Drinkel, has just been published by Lycopolis Press.  It marks the fifth time I've worked with Dean and my story, "This Is The Colour Of Blood", features the third adventure for my recurring character Mike Decker (who also appeared in "The Zabriskie Grimoire" and "The Penthouse Incident").

Table Of Contents

Introduction by John Gilbert

The Sand Was Made Of Mountains, by Anthony Cowin

The Black God, by Paul M Feeney

Beige, by Martin Roberts

The White Room, by Raven Dane

Restoring Scarlet, by Dave Jeffery

Xanthos, by Wayne Goodchild

Born From The Greens, by Zak A Ferguson

The Spiritual Room, by Christopher Beck

This Is The Colour Of Blood, by Mark West

Anthropocene, by Charles Rudkin

Dans Le Rouge Du Couchant, by Dean M Drinkel

The book is available in print from Amazon

Amazon UK 

Amazon US

more details about the book can be found here

I like writing the Decker stories and they've now developed a bit of a pattern, which is quite fun to write to and this time round he describes himself thus: "I’m an acquirer, a finder of items lost or hidden and although it’s an occasionally dirty job, I am well paid for it.  I take my job very seriously and I expect other people to do the same.  I once had a meeting with a c-list celebrity who compared me to a personal shopper and I’d broken his jaw before he finished his sentence."

Dean got in touch with me in late July, when I was working on my novella "The Exercise".  I had the basic idea by the time I got home that night and the rest of it worked out over the next couple of evenings walks, then put it to one side until I was free to work on it.

When I got the idea for damaging Decker's beloved car, it was Dude who provided me the make and model, though when I Googled it I realised a certain plot point wouldn't work (though said research did lead me to something else, which strengthened the story, so that was good).  I also included a bit of an in-joke, in that the man who hires Decker - a powerful Russian called Krasniy - had two baddies, who I decided to name Drax and Chang.  Further on the Bond front, I watched "The Living Daylights" as I was writing this and it occurred to me that Decker might look like Timothy Dalton.  I haven't ever described him, but I think that's the mental image I'll have from now on.

The job seemed simple and that should have been my first warning - in my line of work, simple often ends up being a lot of trouble.

I met the Russian at The Glades, a central London restaurant so exclusive you need references to get in.  The dining room was a monument to the Victorian era, with plenty of wood panelling and a very high ceiling.  It was early afternoon, most of the tables were occupied and there was a well-heeled hum about the room, as people ate and chatted quietly.

The Russian and I were sitting in a booth, his goons two tables behind me.  One was short, thin and bespectacled, an IT technician clothed by Armani and the other was Eurasian, big and wide, looking like a Sumo going for an interview.  Both had watched me come in, neither had spoken.

“You must try the foie gras,” said the Russian, as he signalled the maĆ®tre d', “it is wonderful.”

A waiter arrived, put down two small plates of foie gras with mustard seeds and green onions in a duck jus, then left.  The Russian used his fork to break off a bit of the pate and put it gently on his tongue, as if enjoying the sensual delight.  “You are wondering why I asked to see you?”

I took a little of the foie gras and he was right, it was wonderful.  “I assume you need my service.”

The Russian smiled.  “Indeed, I have heard good things about you.  Do you know who I am?”

“I do, Mr Krasniy.”  Following his army service, Anatol Krasniy had embraced perestroika and soon had his fingers in a number of pies.  Through friends, he was involved in one of the loans-for-shares programs, quickly developed a healthy portfolio of shares in various oil companies and now his business dealings were extensive and far-reaching.  He made his base in London.

"Very good.”  His English was perfect, if heavily accented.  He was lean and long faced, with a pale complexion and grey eyes that looked dead.  His hair was silvering at the temples and there was a small scar on his forehead.  His claret coloured three-piece suit was well cut.

“I have a daughter, a good girl, she kept out of the family business and lived in Moscow.  Last year, she came to London, got involved with the wrong crowd.”  He paused and smiled, as if aware of the irony in his comment and made a shrugging gesture with his large hands.  “She is with child and now she has gone.”

“Back to Moscow?”

“No, here in London.  She was living with me, on a separate floor so she had her own life.  I only wanted to protect her, to give her and my grandson the best start.  Is that really so wrong?”  He didn’t wait for an answer.  “She went, last week, with no warning.  I had her tracked to a house in Stamford Hill and I want her to come back.”

“If you’ve tracked her, why didn’t you get her then?”

“Because she is very pregnant and I didn’t want the private dick to manhandle or frighten her.  I daren’t risk her life or that of my unborn grandson.  I need a professional to bring her in.”

“I’m not a babysitter, Mr Krasniy.”

He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes.  “Nor am I, Mr Decker.  But you have a reputation, you have a style and I think you could help.”

I finished my foie gras and wiped the corners of my mouth with the heavy linen napkin.  “Just to bring her home?”

“Yes,” he said and gestured towards the goons.  “Drax and Chang will give you the details of her location.”  He finished his foie gras and wiped his mouth.  “But I must insist no harm come to her.”  He looked at me.  “No harm at all.”

The waiter came back, cleared our plates away and replaced them with two more.

“I can get your daughter safely, Mr Krasniy, for my usual consideration.”

He nodded, looked at his plate and smiled broadly.  “Ah, carpaccio with arugula.”

Friday, 5 February 2016

Interview with Alex Davis

Alex Davis is a publisher, editor, author, creative writing tutor and events organiser from Derby. Film Gutter volume 1, his collection of reviews, has just been published by Ginger Nuts Books and last year saw publication of his first novel, The Last War, from Tickety Boo Press.  He organises Derby’s annual Edge-Lit convention - and its new sibling-convention Sledge Lit - and also runs Boo Books, which last year published the excellent Dead Leaves.  I caught up with him to talk about editing, writing and, of course, extreme cinema.
Edge-Lit, July 2015, picture by Steve Shaw
MW:  So tell us a bit about yourself.

AD:  I consider myself quite a lucky guy really, because ever since being a kid I always wanted to be a writer and get a book out there, which last year I was able to do. As I got older I found myself also getting a lot of enjoyment out of working in writing in its broadest sense – supporting other writers, teaching and workshops, putting together writing events and in turn publishing and editing anthologies. My attitude has always been to give things a go, and see how I feel about it, and if I like it then I'll keep on doing it. In the last fortnight I've just started tutoring GCSE English, for example, which has been really enjoyable so far too.

MW:  I think we first met at FantasyCon in the mid-noughties in Nottingham but you’d been organising conventions for a while.  How did you get into that?

AD:  I think that was the early 2000s – I put my first convention together back when I was twenty-three, which was the first of five Alt.Fiction events I was heavily involved in running, and started con-going a couple of years before that. At the time I was Literature Development Officer at Derby City Council, and had this vision of putting together an event in Derby with a view to drawing established convention audiences as well as getting more local audiences along, trying to provide a sort of gateway into the whole convention scene. I was amazed I could get my then-boss to go along with it, but he was really excited by the concept and with a bit of Arts Council funding we were able to get things off the ground. Being at a venue rather than a hotel, things like that felt important in terms of being a nice, soft and welcoming introduction to the scene. This year's Edge-Lit will be the fifth, and my eleventh convention as organiser.

MW:  You must be thrilled at the way Edge-Lit has become an important (and, to my mind, essential) part of the UK convention calendar.

AD:  Oh absolutely, chuffed to bits. 2015 felt like a real watershed year – these things always take some time to gather a head of steam, and we had three very good years before kind of mushrooming last year – the attendance was near double that of 2014. What I wanted – and still want – is for Edge-Lit to be the best writing-focussed convention around. It's not about necessarily getting load and loads bigger – QUAD is an incredible venue and a superb partner – so the aim is to keep offering more and more to our attendees each year.

MW:  So, “Film Gutter” then.  How did that come about?

AD:  I've always loved to have kind of a 'hobby' project, which has come under various guises over the years, and when the mastermind behind Ginger Nuts of Horror put out in January he was looking for new writers for the site I couldn't resist throwing my hat into the ring. The idea for Film Gutter wasn't really in my mind then, but when I started thinking about what I could perhaps bring to the table that others don't, the 'extreme horror' angle occurred to me. I've never been shy of controversial films – in fact any kind of fuss or furore tends to really fascinate me – and I was particularly inspired by a few Youtubers I watched who were recording brilliant reaction videos based on their immediate response to disturbing movies. Unboxed, Watched and Reviewed on the Otoobach channel on Youtube was and remains a favourite – it's made even funnier by the fact that the presenter has kind of a weak stomach. So I just thought to myself – maybe I could do that. What I could never have guessed for a second is how it's grown over the year it's been going – when I was sat interviewing Tom Six and Dieter Laser prior to the UK Premiere of Human Centipede III I just thought 'this is nuts, how did this happen'? But that's a symptom of how supportive and close-knit the extreme horror community is.

MW:  As a longtime fan of horror, I’ve grown to dislike the “why do you read/watch that stuff?” and so I’m reticent to do it to you but, as we discussed at FantasyCon, I’m amazed at your capacity to watch some of the films you do.  Not because of the content, necessarily, but for the emotive depths they plumb.  So when did you discover your enjoyment of the “film gutter”?

AD:  I've always been interested in things that kind of flirt with the edge of good taste, or what's considered acceptable, right from being a teenager I suppose. Musically that was black metal and Type O Negative's controversial albums. Bookwise as a kid A Clockwork Orange was an important one in influencing me. David Cronenberg was a director that really drew me in, and I suppose watching Videodrome one night on BBC Two – introduced by Mark Kermode, as I recall – was kind of a watershed moment as well. From there I watched Crash, and in turn Eraserhead, so it all sort of went from there. I suppose you could also reframe that as me having a pathological urge to dislike anything popular – I remember being really into nu-metal before anyone knew what it was, but when kids starting wearing Slipknot hoodies I just kind of moved on to something else. There's always been that bit of me that likes to dig around, find my own thing and then hopefully share that with other people who might not stumble across it other wise. In that sense, Film Gutter is me all over.

MW:  You wrote, as a guest blog, that with extreme cinema you started to wonder if there was “a line I won't let a film cross? Is there a point where I would press the stop button and give up because something had disturbed me so much? If those things that really shook other people up had produced so little effect in me, was there something out there that would make me feel that perturbed?”  Did you ever find that line or point?

AD:  Not as yet, but there are movies that have come close, and it's kind of hard to find a common thread between them. Thanatomorphose was just horrible to watch from start to finish, powerful but a serious test of endurance. Snuff 102 was flat out upsetting – there's a scene in that still makes me queasy to think back to. Megan is Missing features the bleakest closing twenty minutes in cinema history, in my opinion, and just left me shell-shocked for a couple of days. What interests me in a sense is why some of these movies do the things they do, and I can't answer that question without watching the film all the way through. Often there's a logic, an artistic reasoning going on beyond the flat-out gratuity it often gets considered as. It's good to be challenged by art sometimes, and for it to make you take a deeper look inside yourself and at the world around you.

MW:  You also run the small press Boo Books and published one of my favourite books of last year, Dead Leaves by Andrew David Barker.  What made you decide to run your own press?

Alex, (centre), with Carl Robinson (left) and Andrew Barker (right) at
Sledge-Lit, November 2015
AD:  Doing all the other work that I do, I'm always fortunate to stumble across great talent, and very often in the teaching or workshop environment talent that doesn't realize how great it is. Publishing felt like a natural next step to me, something that would give me the chance to help authors to get their work out there in a direct way rather than the indirect approach as it had been up to that point. The first novel we put out was Andrew's debut, The Electric, which just blew me away on first read and made me feel we were onto something special. He's a real talent, which he demonstrated possibly even more in Dead Leaves by delivering a book of a very different stripe that was every bit as good. The Electric was dreamy, optimistic, magical, whereas Dead Leaves is gritty, urban, almost nihilistic. The new novel out – A Dip in the Jazz Age – is actually written by an ex-student of mine, and that's almost a perfect summary of what I wanted to do with the press. It's about giving new names a chance out there, and that's what we'll continue to do.

MW:  What prompted the move into editing anthologies?

AD:  Again, just another one of those life ambitions! Half the joy of freelancing is that you can just decide to do something and go for it – there's no boss to say you can't or shouldn't. I've always loved short stories, and read a lot of anthos over the years, and when I was chatting away with the guys over at Doghorn about my first idea it all fell together wonderfully for No Monsters Allowed. The rest, as they say, is history.

MW:  You’ve also worked on the other side of the publishing coin, with your first novel The Last War coming out from Tickety Boo Press last year.  How long have you been writing and what led you into sci-fi?

AD:  I've been writing for as long as I can remember back, and SF was something that was really important to me in my formative years of reading. As a teen I was cracking my way through lots of the classics, and it's genre I've always had a fondness for. My focus is probably as much horror as SF these days, but the opportunity to have a sci-fi novel out there was something I just couldn't resist.

MW:  Okay, a “Film Gutter” quick fire round:

AD:  Favourite film and why: Flowers for me – Phil Stevens' debut feature is so visually fascinating, so poetic and so haunting. It was an absolute bolt from the blue for me – one of those movies I knew next to nothing about but absolutely rocked my world. His second movie, Lung II, is fantastic as well. Julia was a close second – just a fascinating tale of revenge and self-discovery in the most unlikely of circumstances. If I had a Film Gutter Oscar (note to self – there needs to be a Film Gutter Oscar one day) Ashley C Williams would have won it.

Least favourite film and why: Tough question, so I'm going to give two answers. Snuff 102 I've mentioned already, and I marked that one low not because it didn't have quality but because it left a distinctly bad taste by the end of the movie – I called it 'morally reprehensible' at the time and nothing since has changed my mind. I think there's a sequel on the way too. Quality-wise Chaos was just inexplicably terrible, just awful in every respect. I'm not one to lay into someone's creative work lightly, but there was just nothing to redeem this one.

MW:  And a general quick fire round

AD:  Favourite film and why: The Orphanage. I love Spanish filmon the whole, and The Orphanage is just exemplary in every respect – script, story, performances, atmosphere – and it also remains the only film to have surprised my wife at the end, which is no mean feat.

Favourite book and why: Vermillion Sands by JG Ballard. My fave tends to flip between this and Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, but I'm on rather a short story kick at the moment so Sands has the nod right now. It's a wonderful collection set in a faraway, rundown beach resort inhabited by some of the most unusual and ethereal characters you can imagine, and the stories are just gorgeous – Ballard has an incredible imagination and this book is a superb showcase for that.

Favourite album and why: I tend to prefer metal and rap, so right now it's either Mindless Self Indulgence's You'll Rebel to Anything or Watsky's Cardboard Castles. I could barely come up with two more different albums, now I think about it....

MW:  So what’s next for Alex Davis?

AD:  There's a question! No doubt there's plenty of things I don't even know about yet, but this year I'm hugely excited to be chairing the British Fantasy Convention, which runs in Scarborough from the 23rd-25th September. As someone who's been going to the event for over a decade, the opportunity to lead on it means everything and we want to make it the best in many years, if not ever. It's an awesome location and the line-up is coming together really well, so it's bound to be a great weekend.

MW:  Thanks very much Alex and I look forward to seeing you at Edge-Lit and FantasyCon!

AD:  Thanks Mark.

Alex can be found online at Alex Blogs About and also on Twitter.  Boo Books can be found online here and on Twitter.

Come on in, the water's revolting... 

Film Gutter Volume 1 is the full collection of 2015 reviews and interviews from Ginger Nuts of Horror's popular Film Gutter series, looking at some of the most bizarre, grotesque and disturbing horror features ever made. With over 50 movie reviews plus interviews with directors and actors including Tom Six, Dieter Laser, Matthew A Brown, Jimmy Weber and Phil Stevens. 
Film Gutter Volume 1 also takes in a host of exclusive content, including the much-requested 'most disturbing movies' list! 

Monday, 1 February 2016

"The Lost Film" ebook

Pendragon Press has now published the ebook of "The Lost Film Novellas" by Stephen Bacon and me, following the successful launch of the limited edition paperback at FantasyCon in October 2015.

"The Lost Film"
by Mark West

Gabriel Bird is a private detective. He’s been hired to track down Roger Sinclair, an exploitation film-maker who disappeared in 1976, having just completed his last film. Long since lost, “Terrafly” was reputed to have an adverse, often fatal effect on those who watched it. Sinclair’s producing partner, Sorrell Eve, is concerned that the film is about to appear online and wants to make sure it stays lost forever.

As Bird closes in on his target, strange incidents begin to happen to those around him and when he’s offered the chance to watch a clip of “Terrafly”, things turn very dark indeed.

A modern detective story, filled with rich detail of the low-budget heyday of British exploitation films, this will ‘pull you into a dark cinematic nightmare’.

“An impressive, imaginative flight of fancy. Mark West has cunningly woven the exploitation movie industry of the 70s that I experienced into a bizarre private eye yarn and thrown in sex, the supernatural and more besides. It hooked me from the first page to the final, mind-bending fade-out”
David McGillivray,
screenwriter of "House of Whipcord", "Frightmare", "House Of Mortal Sin" and "Satan's Slave"

"Lights, camera, action...Mark's West's lost film novella will grab your soul by the sprocket holes, pull you into a dark cinematic nightmare, and then re-edit the way you look at the world. Experience it at your peril."
Gary McMahon,
author of “Pretty Little Dead Things”

A Monochromatic in Central London, 1976
Steve & I have been working on the project since 2010 (I wrote a bit about the origins of it in a blog post at the time) and the paperback features a lengthy, exclusive afterword.  Steve & I also talked about the writing process at the launch and gave readings.

note: There were some formatting and typo issues with the text in the paperback edition, which have been rectified for the ebook.