Sometimes asleep on my feet, always anticipating an ambush from behind, often out of ammunition and rations, but constantly regrouping my forces with a blast of my horn, my march towards mustering a body of work has continued for another year. I’ve relocated twice in the past four years – from London to Birmingham and from Birmingham to Devon – with a small child in tow. In addition we bought our first family home after an exhausting twelve month search in 2014, for the right place in the right place. I call our home “The House Bought By Horror”. Over two decades of commitment to the most unfashionable, and second most derided, genre of fiction eventually paid dividends that I never expected. The long game is the only game that I have the rule book for.
I have still, however, managed to write and publish HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS, NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE, and LOST GIRL since 2012, so I am giving myself a ration of rum … And, finally, we’re settled by the sea and during our first year in Torbay, Devon, I’ve completed the first draft of another novel (second draft is in-progress). That’s four books and two relocations since 2012, but I can feel it in my back, shoulders and neck, and not least inside my sometimes sluggish, sometimes racing mind. Walking the coastal path and swimming at the local beaches and coves has helped me untie a few of those knots, and, incidentally, I am not planning on moving again. We’re settled and I have a better sense of how to manage my time in 2016, and also a clearer sense of what’s on my plate. I took on too much in 2015, but did manage to write six short stories, a couple of essays and also engaged in a lot of promotional work across six weeks that resulted in a handful of interviews and what felt like weeks spent online …
2015 has had the usual undulation for me as a professional writer, down a few snakes in the bigger, broader board game of which I have no control, but also up more ladders than snakes on balance at year end. But I am delighted to have seen LOST GIRL published and received so favourably. In print, the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Independent, Starburst, SFX and SciFiNow all reviewed the book favourably. Online, a great many bloggers and websites have also found much to like in the book, and continue to do so. I’ll admit to being relieved, surprised, and delighted. From the cover and title to the near future setting, as well as the thriller/vigilante plot and the runaway climate change concept, this book does appear to be very different when placed alongside my previous six novels of supernatural horror. Without any doubt in my mind, though, LOST GIRL is a horror novel, of both natural and supernatural intent and effect. What’s more, the book really mattered to me. They all have done, but LOST GIRL made me feel as if everything was at stake, all of the time, in my imagination – civilization and its values, the world, the human race, the fate of children before such impending and actual chaos. I finished and felt utterly flat, bereft, exhausted. I started to wonder what I could write next that would “matter” as much to me. But on my knees, I began the next book (and on an idea I have carried around since 2003). After a year’s work on the book, I started to like it. By draft two, I know it can stand on its own hind legs amongst its predecessors and whinny like a horrible, sulfurous goat.
Other highlights for me in 2015 included getting my new website, courtesy of the marvellous Helen McQueen (newsletter will be coming soon too), Fantasycon in Nottingham, in which all but one copy of Lost Girl were picked up (and all but four of those at the launch, an event that I set up myself with help from my friends, Paul Meloy and Mathew Riley). And on the final day, to my surprise, NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE was awarded the August Derleth for Best Horror Novel. I’ve taken that award home three times in four years and I still haven’t quite processed winning the award the first time. Bless the BFS and all who toil beneath its banner. On Saturday evening, the committee also asked me to be a Guest Author in Scarborough 2016. I said, “Me? Are you sure?” Subtext: surely you can find someone better? I’ve been invited to be guest author at another two for 2016, but those details are still being worked out. And yet I don’t expect to ever get over my abject horror at speaking in public at any of them . . .
Another great convention I attended this year was Edge Lit 4 in Derby, where among many good things, I got to hang out with one of my favourite writers, John Connolly – thank you Sarah Pinborough for showing up with him at the pub!
Ellen Datlow published a story of mine in MONSTROUS, Aaron French published another in THE GODS OF H.P. LOVECRAFT, and Paul Finch has just published a third in TERROR TALES OF THE OCEAN. I have another three stories due out in multiple-author anthologies in 2016.
Other than that, four of my books are entangled and enmeshed in four fantastic film and TV production projects that are under embargo so I must be vague … but some of the meetings I’ve had this year … But I never share this stuff publicly and will never believe that anything will ever be adapted until I see it being filmed. I did, however, have one skype (and my first ever skype) with someone so vast, in my estimation, that all I could hear was the rushing of blood inside my head, and my daughter jumping up and down on her bed upstairs shouting “What’s Daddy doing?” Why would I pretend that I am multi-media savvy and have everything under control when I don’t?
And the immortal Slash tweeted about one of my books too!!!!
For 2016, I intend to wrap up one more short story, and my new novel for 2017 somewhere between spring and summer for publication in January 2017. On the prose front, I also hope to announce a surprise in the first half of 2016.
Sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who have read, reviewed and recommended my books this year. You made it a most special year, and you always do. You rock.