Author and Scriptwriter

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

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

God Help Us, I Now Tweet

Don't even ask... yep, I now have a Twitter account. The scary thing is, it has the potential to become enormously addictive, which is fine if you're Stephen Fry and a full-time genius, but not so good if you already have a day job and you're trying to write a novel here.

Still, it's kind of fun. Being an absolute techno-spastic, I still haven't managed to put a 'follow me on Twitter' button on here, or found a way to get it to feed to my Facebook page. I will, eventually, I promise.

In the meantime, if you want to find me, it's @GevaudanShoal on Twitter.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Faceless the title of my next novel.

I.e. the one I'm working on at the minute, due out from Solaris Books next year. Finally, after much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I figured out what to call the damned thing. So all that now remains is the writing.

At the moment, I'm about 60,000 words into the novel, having just finished Chapter 15. I'm estimating a grand total of 35 chapters (well, 34 and an epilogue), which makes the first draft length likely to be around 140,000 words. But my first drafts are always overlong and the final version should be under 100,000. So, getting close to the halfway mark.

More soon. In the meantime, if you were wondering what it was called- well, now you know.

Have a fun weekend!

An Auction For Japan

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week is one of the worst natural disasters we've seen in many years, with or without the spectre of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant. We've seen terrifying illustrations of just how devastatingly powerful Nature itself is- and how flimsy anything we can make or do is against it- heartbreaking levels of human suffering and also truly awe-inspiring levels of courage and sacrifice, particularly in the case of the 'Fukushima 50', the 300 volunteers- soldiers, firefighters and nuclear workers- operating in shifts of 50, who are exposing themselves to deadly danger and high levels of radiation to prevent an even worse disaster. There's a very good chance these people will not be coming back alive; even if they survive the immediate crisis, 20 or 30 minutes' worth of work under these conditions will expose them to more radiation than a typical nuclear facility worker would encounter in their entire career. They know this, but they still do what they have to.

Puts your own problems into some kind of perspective, doesn't it?

There's very little any of us here, as individuals, can do. However, there are some things, which may help at least a little, which brings me to the point of this blog post.

Johnny Mains over at Occasionally Horrific is auctioning off some of his rather impressive collection of horror memorabilia to raise money for the victims of the disaster. If you weren't already aware of this and would like to take part, just click the link above. All proceeds will go to the British Red Cross.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Loss of Separation by Conrad Williams

It was about time that I wrote something about someone else, so having finished this novel recently, here goes:

I’ll admit it- I was looking forward to this one. Conrad Williams has been around for a while now, and there isn’t another author quite like him in the horror genre right now, blending the visionary and poetic with the visceral on the one hand and the language of technical precision on the other. It’s like a mid-air collision between Clive Barker and J.G. Ballard had taken place, creating a grotesque, impacted-together hybrid that still manages to fly…

Which is more or less the opening image of Loss Of Separation, if you replace ‘Clive Barker and J.G. Ballard’ with ‘Boeing 777 and 747’. The nightmarish image of Flight Z, flown by a dead captain and with its passengers burning alive inside it, haunts the dreams of Conrad’s protagonist, Paul Roan. As well it might; Paul quit his job as an airline pilot after a ‘loss of separation’ occurred- i.e. when he came perilously close to a mid-air collision. Paul decamped to the Suffolk town of Southwick with his girlfriend Tamara to start a new life, only to be almost killed in a hit and run accident that put him in a coma for six months. He woke to find Tamara gone, no-one knows where. Ruth, a nurse from the hospital, takes him under her wing, but she has her own damage to consider; she’s pregnant as a result of rape.

Meanwhile, the townsfolk treat Paul as a sin-eater, bringing him things to burn- mementoes of the things they can’t live with anymore. But Southwick has secrets; disappearances and murdered children. With the help of Amy, a young woman who, like Paul, has narrowly cheated death by accident, Paul starts uncovering them, and in doing so he finds out that Tamara might not, as he thought, have deserted him…

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. There always is in Conrad’s work. But while in the past, in novels like The Unblemished, London Revenant or Decay Inevitable, there was so much going on that some aspects inevitably didn’t get the development they deserved, here the different elements are perfectly balanced and controlled, as in his BFA-winning 2009 novel, One (and if you’ve not read that yet, you really ought to.) And while there is no shortage of imagery both simultaneously beautiful and horrific, Loss is also Conrad’s most low-key novel to date. This is a powerful, slow-burning book that relies far more on suggestion, reticence and characterisation than his previous works, without ever losing its uncompromising modernity. This is the work of a writer at the top of his form, and not afraid to shift gears and move away from what people might have come to expect him. Paul is also a departure; Conrad’s protagonists may not be Hollywood action heroes, but they’re usually fairly handy, enough to run a reasonable distance or deliver a decent punch. Paul is physically as well as mentally scarred, made deeply aware of his own fragility by recent experiences, suffering from chronic pain and wondering if he’ll ever manage to function and have a life again.

As ever, the aforementioned characterisation is beautifully delivered, and the prose, as in One, has a perfectly-balanced synthesis between poetic language and narrative flow. It’s well-nigh impossible not to be moved by Paul’s plight, and Loss contains scenes that are genuinely disturbing as well (there’s one sequence in particular on a North Sea crossing which might well put you off ferries for life.)

All in all, this is a sterling performance from a writer who continues to go from strength to strength. If you’re a Conrad Williams virgin, this is a damn good place to break your duck; if you’ve read and enjoyed his previous works, then I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Buckle up and prepare for take-off; Flight Z is about to depart…

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Dark Fiction: The Loving Of Ghosts

Hello. If you'd just like to direct your attention here, to Dark Fiction Magazine, you can hear me reading my short story The Loving Of Ghosts, from Pictures Of The Dark. Nice little sampler if you're considering buying the book. And I'm sharing space with Paul Finch too, which is always good...