When the sudden appearance of a dark figure shatters his idyllic coastal life, he soon realizes that the murky past he thought he’d left behind has far from forgotten him. What’s more unsettling is the strange atmosphere that engulfs him at every sighting, plunging his mind into a terrifying paranoia.
To be a victim without knowing the tormentor. To be despised without knowing the offence caused. To be seen by what nobody else can see. These are the thoughts which plague his every waking moment.
Imprisoned by despair, Seb fears his stalker is not working alone, but rather is involved in a wider conspiracy that threatens everything he has worked for. For there are doors in this world that open into unknown places with their own rules. Places used by the worst kind of people to achieve their own ends. And once his investigation leads him to stray across the line and into mortal danger he risks becoming another fatality in a long line of victims . . .
If memory serves, I first thought of much of this story as far back as 2003 and partially developed it in a long short story (‘Yellow Teeth’). This novel concerns itself with the consequences of an unpleasant individual returning to a horror writer’s life. In one sense it is a tale of literary rivalry and a toxic friendship, but this novel also marks a return to my roots, in that the novel is more M. R. Jamesian than any of my novels since Last Days. Writing No One Gets Out Alive and Lost Girl left me feeling winded and a bit flat – they took a lot of research and writing and seemed to exhaust all of my energy. I don’t want to sound phoney, but I did wonder if I could write another story that “mattered” as much to me as those two novels do. Those that have read the books know that they don’t pull any punches, nor make light of what’s at stake for the characters, and even the world’s future.
As a kind of creative relief, I decided to write a new story directly from my “classic” horror roots, while also touching upon the themes of writing itself, and literary horror. But this doesn’t mean that I am slipping on the safety catch or dulling my edge. Readers will discover a tale of psychic terror inhabited by some of the most ghastly supernatural entities that I’ve yet dared to imagine.
And to my mind, as I wrote the book, not only was the story a return to my beginnings, it also became a strange distant cousin to Last Days. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story also encompasses my taste for unusual spiritual beliefs and organisations, odd counter-culture figures, and people haunted to the end of themselves …
The first six months of writing was hard going, but I gradually began to feel revitalised and recharged and am very pleased with the finished novel. When I finally typed “The end” I knew that I’d rediscovered the same levels of intensity and inspiration that were responsible for each of my preceding novels.
I’m in talks with my publisher to see if I can arrange something special for readers ahead of publication too.