Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017: The Roundup

At least I didn't quack up.
Writing wise, 2017 was what Aliya Whiteley has called a 'Duck in the Mist' year - an awful lot of paddling going on beneath the surface, but not that much activity above it. I wrote quite a lot, and there'll be more about that in 2018, but comparatively little activity on the publication front. So here's the year that was.


I wrote the final drafts of Wolf's Hill and the entirety of a new novel, The Mancunian Candidate.

I didn't sell any novels in 2017, but there may be news on that front soon. Or not, of course. Such is the business....

The paperback of Devil's Highway was published in February. (It first appeared as a hardback in December 2016, however, so would be ineligible for any awards for 2017, assuming anyone was daft enough to nominate it. For anyone daft enough to want to read it, the ebook's still only £1.99)

Novelettes and Short Stories

Finished the first draft of a novelette, Breakwater, and redrafted to completion.
Also wrote first drafts of four novelette-length (I think) stories. Redrafts ongoing.
Wrote and completed two other stories, currently making the rounds.

Short story 'Deadwater' accepted for publication in Ellen Datlow's anthology, Devil and the Deep.
Breakwater accepted for publication by in 2018.

Short fiction published this year:
'The Adventure of the Orkney Shark' in Sherlock Holmes' School of Detection.
'The Tarn' in The Beauty of Death 2: Death by Water.

Monday, 18 December 2017

When You Hit The Wall

It happens to every writer sooner or later, at one time or another. Bad or good, male or female, old or young: sooner or later, on one project or another, you hit the wall.

The words just won't seem to come.

The characters are cardboard.

The writing is stilted and thin.

The story seems flimsy and superficial, with nothing of substance or originality to it. Derivative and second-rate. Nothing to say, and it doesn't even say it interestingly. Even to you, the author, it's boring.

Sometimes, the thing to do is track back through what you've done, to the last place where it felt as though things were going right: figure out where you took a wrong turn, and start from there.

Sometimes, you need to think through the stuff that underpins your story in greater depth: the characters, the setting, the relationships and power-games that underlie it all.

Sometimes, it's just a case of having temporarily written yourself out. The batteries are flat, because you've barely spent a minute away from your computer or notepad in the outside world, letting the details of people and places and things wash over you and fill you up with all those tiny sense-impressions, quirks and turns of phrase that funnel onto the page. There was a giant in Greek myth, Antaeus, who drew his strength from the Earth itself. As long as he was touching the ground, he was invincible. Herakles killed him by holding him aloft, so he became as weak as a kitten, then crushing him in a bear-hug. It's like that for writers - this one, anyway - and the outside world.

And sometimes, it's because the project itself is a dud. Or at least, it isn't the right time yet for you to write it.

Sometimes, too, the cause isn't easy to unravel. Could be that you'll struggle with anything else you try to do next. One derailed project can make getting back on the horse a struggle, can create a series of false starts and aborted novels or stories.

And what can you do?

Sometimes, you need a day or two off - but that can make getting back on the horse all the harder.

Sometimes, you need to get out of the house and get those batteries recharged.

Sometimes, you need to fix the work in progress.

Sometimes, you need to write something different.

(Like a blog post, maybe, especially when your blog's been so disused lately it's got cobwebs on it.)

In the end, though, you just don't give up. Mostly because you can't, no matter how much you feel like it. The writing won't let go of you that easily.

Sooner or later, you'll reach the other side of the wall. You'll climb over, or dig under, or go around. Or just bang your head against it so often that it falls down.

Like everything else, it'll pass.

And in the future, there'll be other walls, and you'll have to work out how get around or over or under or through them.

But the bits between one wall and the next?

They're what make it all worthwhile.

None of that helps, though, when you're banging your head against the wall and thinking that this is the last one and that there's no way through.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

My Fantasycon Schedule (Updated!)

In other news, here I am with an adorable dog.
ETA: I'm actually on three panels now!

So, despite the fact that some people are claiming that anyone who attends Fantasycon this year is a nazi-loving c**t because the Don Estelle of the far right is on a single panel there, I'm going. Mainly because I'm neither a nazi-loving c**t nor the kind of idiotic arse who thinks [NAME REDACTED] is a credible source of information. Astonishingly, it's possible to be both.

*Breathes out*


I'm having a busier year than I have in a while; I'm on two panels this year, as well as doing a reading. So here goes:

Panel: Writing Fighting!
7.30 pm, Panel Room Two
With David Tallerman (mod), Anna Smith Spark, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Simon Bestwick and Stewart Hotston.
"Whether you're writing a combat scene on a spaceship, in a vampires tomb, or amidst a desperate battle, you want your readers to care about the outcome, right? Our panel will discuss the fine balance between action accuracy and communicating seat of the pants sensation. "

Panel: Creative Writing In Education
2.30 pm, Panel Room Three
With Ginger Lee Thomason (mod), Terry Grimwood, Tiffani Angus, Joely Black, Simon Bestwick and Terry Jackman.
"University degrees, Masters courses, Ph. D's and the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE). Our panel discuss how their experiences and work in higher education has helped them as writers and how it can be beneficial to others."

Panel: Writing Dystopias
10.30 pm, Panel Room Two
With Guy Adams (mod), Simon Bestwick, Duncan Bradshaw, Thomas N. Toner
"The world is broken. What broke it? Can it be fixed? Dystopian Fiction has become incredibly popular in the last decade. Join our panel of doommongers as they discuss the different ways the world can be made worse and how different dystopias reflect aspects of our own society."

Reading Slot: Fantasy
10.00 am., Sandringham Room
With David Tallerman and Joely Black.
David Tallerman is an all-round good egg and author of fantasy fiction whose forays into horror fiction were collected last year in The Sign In The Moonlight; Joely Black's the gifted author of the self-published Amnar series, and a good friend who's attending her first FCon. And me? I hear you cry. You're a horror author, Bestwick, what are you doing here? Well, I'll be delivering a sneak preview of the latest work in progress, which is definitely edging into the realms of urban fantasy. Closer to the world of Angels of the Silences or The Feast Of All Souls than the out and out horror of Tide Of Souls and The Faceless, or the post-apocalyptic battleground of the Black Road books. Come on down for a sneak preview!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Nice Things of the Week! 17th June 2017 (Part Three)

Me, for the last week.








Did I mention I sold something to


I did?

Okay, then.

As you were.


Nice Things of the Week Saturday 17th June Part Two: First Anniversary, Death By Water and

And on a more personal note...

Last month, the ever-reignng Cate and I celebrated our first year of marriage. My anniversary present to her was a weekend away in Barmouth, in a lovely 17th century cottage. The other night my parents came over and Dad got talking about his childhood in Barmouth. We showed him a picture of the place where we stayed... and it only turned out to be my great-grandparents' old home.

Also, a couple of sales.

My short story 'The Tarn' will be published in The Beauty of Death 2: Death By Water, due out from Independent Legions Publishing this autumn. The TOC is still being finalised, but thus far includes Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Adam Nevill, Lucy Snyder and many more.

Last and MOST DEFINITELY NOT least... (can we have a drum roll and maybe a fanfare please, maestro...)

My novelette Breakwater has been acquired by the mighty Ellen Datlow for and will be published in 2018!


There are really no words to describe how delighted I am about this.

Many thanks (again!) to Ellen, and to all at Tor.

Nice Things of the Week! 17th June 2017 (Part One): Jeremy Corbyn

The election in a nutshell.
Welp, the blog's been a tad quiet for a while, I know. I've struggled a bit with workload over the past couple of months, what with the new job and all, which slowed down the rewrites on Wolf's Hill markedly, to say nothing of trying to lay the groundwork for The Next Novel. Which part of this caused my old friend the Black Dog to resurface, I don't know, but it did. The past few weeks have been particularly tough, but (touch wood) I think I've turned a corner now. I hope so.

Good things have been in evidence over recent weeks. We had a snap general election here in the UK, in which it was widely predicted that the ruling Evil Bastard Conservative Party would wipe the floor with the left-wing Labour Party - even by Labour Party supporters. I have to admit I was afraid they were right: in terms of policies and vision I'd always felt Jeremy Corbyn was the best thing Labour had had for ages, but it was looking increasingly as though he was incapable of actually leading the party. When the election cycle started, the Spawn of Satan Conservatives were 22 points ahead of Labour. Not just defeat, but annihilation was prophesied.

And yet... over the six weeks leading up to the election, Corbyn showed what he was made of, supported by thousands of dedicated party activists like Matt Dent (to name but one.) The poll gap closed over the weeks, leading to a final result of a hung parliament. It isn't a Labour victory, but considering where things were, it's extraordinary. With Brexit, Trump and so much else it was easy to give in and decide everything was fucked. The French election, when the far-right Marine Le Pen was soundly defeated, was the first indication things weren't necessarily in an irreversible slide. This was the second. It really feels as though not only the Loathsome Shower of  C Tories' Government, but the hateful and divisive politics that's been the dominant discourse in Britain for so long, is crumbling. Well, a boy can dream.

Not that there hasn't been horrific shit as well, such as the terrorist attacks in my home city, Manchester, and in London, plus the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. But even there, we saw what people can be like at their best - stepping up to the plate to help those caught up in the destruction. We were reminded that there is still good.

Maybe even some cause for hope.