Author and Scriptwriter

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

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Black Mountain 8: A Lake Of Fire

August already, and episode 8 already! Except for the first two episodes, each instalment of Black Mountain has been in excess of 10,000 words: the total word count to date now stands at 73,480 words, so it's officially a novel.

And there are still three more to go. But... only three episodes? It hardly seems any time ago since I first pitched the idea to Simon Marshall-Jones at Spectral Press. And yet here we are. It seems to have worked out well thus far - it's sold well, Simon M-J loves the story, and Spectral will now be making serials a regular thing, with James Everington's The Quarantine City up next.

Anyway, on now to A Lake Of Fire, the latest episode, which takes us back into Mynydd Du's dark past. As ever, the cover art is by Neil Williams, whose work on this series cannot be praised enough.

Beside the shores of Llyn Daioni, in the shadow of Mynydd Du, stood the village of Capel Teg.
For centuries, it hid a secret – an ancient and lethal one that reached out again and again to claim innocent lives.

Nothing remains of Capel Teg now; at least, not on the surface of things. But just as its ruins and ashes lie buried in the ground, its deadly secret lingers on.

Oscar Childwall, clergyman, faced Capel Teg’s terrible legacy and lived to tell of it. And through his papers, one of Mynydd Du’s darkest mysteries can at last be revealed…

'In the middle of a large clearing among the woods there stood a firepit, and a stone altar. A great fire was already raging in the pit; the altar itself was foul with blood, both old and fresh.

The villagers filled the clearing, dressed in white robes. Also present were the last survivors of Eleanor’s party. At a signal from – presumably – their priest or chief, one of these unhappy wretches was dragged to the altar and held down whilst worshippers armed with heavy stone knives practised atrocious acts upon him. The victim was mutilated, disembowelled and dismembered – his limbs cut off and his innards ravelled out, and more beyond this, such stuff as we would hesitate to inflict on the foulest of criminals. The victim was kept alive throughout, up until the final moment when his head was hacked from his shoulders. And throughout all this the robed figures continued to chant their dreadful liturgy...'

You can buy A Lake Of Fire here (UK) and here (US)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Black Mountain 7: The Master Of The House (also, Go Tell All About The Mountain)

The seventh instalment of Black Mountain, The Master Of The House, is now out from the wonderful Spectral Press (here for the UK, here if you're in the US), with the usual kick-ass illustration from Neil Williams.Actually, I say 'the usual', but if anything I think Neil's illustrations get better with every instalment!

Spectral's Simon Marshall-Jones tells me he thinks this is the best yet. Is he right? You'll have to see for yourselves.

Meanwhile, the serial is drawing the attention of reviewers. Anthony Watson at Dark Musings says:

'Black Mountain is a bold venture but one which in my opinion is paying off wonderfully... Above all it’s the writing that makes this serial adaptation so worthwhile and the style and substance Simon has brought to all his previous work is here in abundance. The dialogue (both internal and external) which has so far carried the story is pitch perfect and – even though it’s only half way through – Black Mountain is already an atmospheric, intriguing and, most importantly, downright scary piece of writing.'

James Everington singles out Black Mountain as one to 'Look Out For...' over at This Is Horror (alongside Kate Jonez' upcoming Ceremony Of Flies, calling it:

' innovative reimagining of the serial novel for the Kindle generation... Of course, regardless of format, that this is a new work from Simon Bestwick, author of The Faceless, should be reason enough to capture your attention... This mixture of old school episodic storytelling and modern techniques reminiscent of found-footage films means you’ll finish each episode of Black Mountain wanting more… will appeal to the descendants of those readers who used to wait at the harbour side for the next episode of Oliver Twist to be unloaded from the boat.'

All of which, as you may guess, has left me with a rather big smile on my face.

So what is Episode 7 about?


1988: The farmhouse called Blas Gwynedd, standing in the very shadow of Mynydd Du, is the last human habitation within the 'Bala Triangle', home to a teenage boy, his downtrodden mother and his fanatical, tyrannical father.

Now, at last, the story of the farm's desertion can be told: a tale of strangeness, insanity, violence and death. The tale of one man's doomed attempt to prove himself the master of the house.

There were about a dozen people spread out in among the trees. All of them were robed and hooded – white robes.

I made some sort of sound; whatever it was, it brought Dad to the window beside me, pulling the curtain wide. For once he wasn’t shouting at me, wasn’t angry; he could tell, somehow, there was something he had to see. There was thunder, and then the lightning again, and they were still there. Dad saw them too: I know because I heard the gasp he made seeing them.

The hoods they wore were a bit like the Ku Klux Klan’s, except there was a hole at the bottom, leaving the mouth exposed. I don’t know why. Never seen or heard of anything like it before. They didn’t move, and I don’t think they made any sounds. Although you’d have been hard put to hear anything over that storm.
None of them moved or stirred. The only motion was their robes, flapping and rippling in the wind and rain. The storm lashed them, but still they stood, and watched the house.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Dead Water

July sees the release of Dead Water, the latest in the 'PentAnth' series from Peter Mark May's Hersham Horror: mini-anthologies containing stories from five different authors. This will be the fifth, the other four being Fogbound from 5, Siblings, Anatomy Of Death and Demons And Devilry.

The series has showcased some brilliant talent: Alison Littlewood, John Llewellyn Probert, Stuart Young, Thana Niveau and Stephen Volk to name but (appropriately) five.

The fifth anthology in our PentAnth range brings you five more stories chilled tales of watery terror. We all need water to live, but what if that life-giving body was not so friendly after all..?

Dead Water is guest-edited by the formidable writing duo Maynard and Sims, who also contribute one of the tales. Also present and correct are Daniel Boucher, Alan Spencer, and apocalyptic horror king David Moody.

My own contribution is a Welsh terror tale, 'The Lowland Hundred,' and here's a free sample:

'It was naked but sexless, without genitals or breasts. Fins ran up the sides of its arms and legs; its long, taloned fingers and long splayed toes were webbed. The face was minimal, almost featureless. Glistening black eyes, like a shark’s, that flickered white as nicitating membranes darted across them. Two small bloodlness slits, like tiny parallel stab-wounds, where the nose should have been. A row of gill-slits each side of the neck, and a mouth curved in a wide, ear-to-ear – except that it had no ears – grin, lipless and filled with thin, sharp, needle teeth...'

You can buy the paperback here, or download the ebook if you're in the UK, or here and here if you're in the US.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Black Mountain #6: The House By The Cemetery

My apologies, first of all: the latest instalment of Black Mountain is a couple of weeks late. There was some sad news in our family, and the work train got a tad derailed. But here is the sixth episode, The House By The Cemetery and the seventh, The Master Of The House, is almost finished, and should be out on schedule at the end of June (fingers crossed.)

Yes, the title The House By The Cemetery is a nod to the great Lucio Fulci. No, the title The Master Of The House has nothing to do with Les Miserables. Although a recent one-star Amazon review of The Faceless complained that it was 'depressing and dreary', so perhaps adding musical numbers to my stuff to liven things up would be a good thing.

As ever, The House By The Cemetery boasts fantastic cover art by Neil Williams. Here's a taster of what you can expect...

The watcher by the lake...

It began with a dream; it ended in obsession, insanity and death.

The fire in the woods...

The old farmhouse stood on high ground near the mountain of Mynydd Du. Long-abandoned though it was, Ronald Ashington still saw potential in it.

The dancers in the pines...

The Ashingtons had a vision: a luxury hotel, a hidden gem tucked away in the wilds of the Welsh countryside, a home away from home for couples looking to get away from it all. Yes, this house was perfect, except for the name: Ty Mynwent.

The house by the cemetery.

What you’ve got to understand, doctor, is this. If I told you in detail everything that happened at the farm, everything I saw, you’d call me mad. You’d say it was a delusion, that I saw things that weren’t there, heard voices that didn’t exist. But it’s not like that...

I have experienced, I have witnessed, things, phenomena, so… removed from the normal run of human experience that they have brought about a fundamental change in my understanding of the nature of reality. In how I… interact with the world. And with others. This places me at odds with the majority of people, and even with society as a whole. But this is not because of illness. Not because of chemicals in my brain or any stupid shit like that. It’s because while I was up I saw and heard and understood things. And I can’t carry on as I did before, as if the old things matter. Because they don’t...

Money. Conformity. Family. Marriage. All the sacred cows. They’re meaningless. Compared to what’s up there.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Black Mountain #5: The Last Of Russell Ware

The Black Mountain saga is just shy of its halfway point with its latest instalment, courtesy of Spectral Press. As ever, it boasts a cover from Neil Williams, who continues to do truly stellar work on this project.

Author and journalist Russell Ware was the man who’d coined the term ‘The Bala Triangle’, chronicling the phenomena that surrounded the North Welsh mountain Mynydd Du with ever-increasing obsession.

On the 2nd January, 1981, his career and marriage in ruins, he set off for Bala for the last time.
The following morning, Ware’s body was found in Llyn Daioni, the lake at the heart of so many of Mynydd Du’s mysteries. An accident, or suicide; either way, his torment, and that of his loved ones, was at an end.

But in the shadow of Black Mountain, nothing is as it seems. Rob Markland, following in Ware’s footsteps, finds one man willing to break a silence of thirty years, and tell the true story of the last of Russell Ware.

'The light came from a fire. A big, bright bonfire in the middle of a clearing where there shouldn’t have been any clearing, flames shooting ten, twenty feet up into the air. And standing all around the fire were a bunch of people in pale-coloured robes. They were all hooded, so I couldn’t have told you what sort of faces they had. To be honest, I’m far from sorry about that.'

UPDATE: The Last of Russell Ware is now available to download here and here.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Black Mountain #4: The Beast Of Maes Carnedd

Not had time to get a new website organised yet - I'm still unpacking my crates of books - so this one will have to stay in service a little longer, in order to let you know that the latest instalment of the Black Mountain saga, The Beast Of Maes Carnedd, is now available on Amazon, with - as you can see - yet another awesome cover by Neil Williams.

Maes Carnedd lies in ruins now. It’s more than a hundred years since the Welsh mining village, in the shadow of Mynydd Du, was abandoned by its inhabitants.

In the summer of 1903, terror came to Maes Carnedd, and left a trail of corpses in its wake.

Something that killed with the strength and savagery of an animal, but the cruelty and sadism of a man. Something that brought death to its victims in the heart of the woods, in the tunnels of the mines, or behind the locked doors and windows of their own homes.

Only one man knows the truth of the events that doomed Maes Carnedd.

And now it’s time to tell.

'We could all hear Bert Williams' screams, fading away as it dragged him off. And we could have gone after him, but we didn’t. No point. We’d have been dead too. You didn’t see what it did to those men. 

They were torn to pieces. I mean literally. Limb from limb. Like you’d pull a roast chicken apart – rip off the drumsticks, gouge and tear off the breasts. Strip the carcass. We could recognise the faces, just – and by Christ, I wish I hadn’t – but as for the rest? You couldn’t tell which bits were Bill’s and which were Jack’s.

As for Bert Williams - no-one ever saw him again, living or dead.'

The first three episodes of Black Mountain, The Red Key, The Ghosts Of Hafan Deg and The Strange Death Of Britt Nordenstam, are all available for download too.

American readers can download the saga here.