Welcome to my website, if you have found your way here, you are obviously a horror fan. I am a horror author, based in the UK. Please look around the site, and if you feel like please take a look at my books.
The Wilds Is Here
My Latest novel the wilds is available now in ebook and paperback format.
In a bleak landscape, people are vanishing, and the local police are covering something up. Two men, desperate for answers, hunt for the truth. Is a legendary big cat to blame, or is there something else lurking in the wilds.
So my wonderful wife, Siobhan, and I have written a non fiction book together. 'Thirst For Blood' traces the history of the Vampire from it earliest legends, to modern cinema.
Here is the cover art for the book, which will be coming very soon.
Today, as part of his regular Tuesday Tease feature, the excellent author Michael Brookes has posted and excerpt from ym debut novel 'Beneath' on his website. This gives readers a little taster of the book and also has my bio and links to the book. Please check it out , and also take a look at Michael's own writing, you won't regret it
A friend of mine said to me a few years back that he was sick of 'glampires'. I assumed that he was referring to the overly romanticised representation of vampires that is flavour of the month. The kind of pretty, lovelorn boy vampires that feature so heavily in the Dark Fantasy sub genre, and in one particularly popular teen series of novels and films.
If this was what he meant, I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly. I have had a life long romance with the undead. The current, watered down, version that is so popular annoys me beyond belief. I wish that they could be reclaimed by the horror genre as a figure of fear.
However, when I pressed my friend on his meaning, he proceeded to tell me that the gothic tropes of the vampire had become cliched, and he wanted to see a vampire story without them. I again would have agreed if he had been referring to the abomination that was the 'Queen of the Damned' adaptation . That film was aimed squarely at the post numetal generation of goths. The ones who thought that all you had to do was listen to heavy music, put on heavy eyeliner and wear a long back leather coat. These people probably couldn't tell you anything of the Germanic, barbarian tribe that gave us the term gothic, or what it meant in terms of being first an architectural, then literary and then musical genre. They have probably never even heard of The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, or The Mission.
Yet my friend still wasn't through, his theory was that every vampire film ever made was, to a lesser or greater degree, gothic in nature. That was where the conversation ended, however I started thinking on that discussion again recently. It got me wondering if it was in fact possible to remove the gothic from the vampire entirely?
After some pondering I don't think it is possible. Vampires are, by their very nature, gothic creatures. I do not mean in a fashion sense. It would be unusual, but not impossible to present a vampire without the long dark coats, pale skin and so on. What is inescapable is that vampires are creature who survive death by feeding on the blood of the living. They represent life out of death, if that is not a gothic concept I'm not sure what is.
Our cultural notion of the vampire comes from Bram Stoker and his novel 'Dracula', a book itself written in the gothic tradition. This means that our very understanding of the vampire as a figure is laced with gothic under currents. To some degree every vampire that has come since 'Dracula' owes that fictional Count some debt.
Therefore the only way I can see of truly removing the gothic from the vampire is to take it further back, to the animalistic creatures of Eastern European folklore. These earlier forms of vampire, like the Romanian Strigoi, are far removed from the suave and seductive undead presented from Stoker onward. The only problem is that in many ways these legends are closer to the werewolf or zombie tradition than that of the vampire.
Interestingly a more recent film that tried this approach was the wonderful indie movie 'Stakeland'. This beautifully shot and atmospheric tale centres on survivors in a post apocalyptic world that has been overrun by animalistic, seemingly mindless vampires. It plays out like a horror version of 'The Road'. In many ways it succeeds in removing the gothic from the vampire story, and is as far away from the sparkly glampires as you can get. However, the film makes the landscape an integral character in the movie. It is a powerful and threatening presence throughout the film. In this respect it reminded me of the representation of the moors in 'Wuthering Heights', a classic gothic novel if ever there was one.
So in conclusion, in my humble opinion, it is impossible to remove the gothic from the vampire story. Vampires are in their nature, and the rules that we all know, gothic creatures. The only way you could do it, would take vampires so far from what they are they would be unrecognisable.
There was a time, way back in 1999, that 21 year old me though that 'The Blair Witch Project' was the most amazing and innovative thing he had ever seen. The use of the camera as a character, this illusion of reality, drew me into the story in a way that few films had for a long time.
Flash forward to 2014 and 35 year old me is pretty much fed up to his back teeth with the 'found footage' genre. As much as I still love 'The Blair Witch Project' it seemed to open the flood gates for a never ending stream of pale imitations.
This sub genre has become the go to style for low budget filmmakers eager to make it big. I can see the appeal. If you have a good idea then it offers a low cost way to get a film made. The problem is an awful lot of the films that get made in this style are not good ideas, they are not even original ideas.
Do I think the sub genre has had its day though? In all honesty I can say no, I don't think the found footage genre will never have it's day. Every time I find myself getting fed up of the style another groundbreaking film comes along. Take the wonderful, Spanish, Zombie movie 'Rec'. When I first this film I had not only grown weary of found footage, but also the zombie genre. It came in the midst of the slew of films that followed the likes of '28 Days Later' and the 'Dawn of the Dead' remake. If you had asked me at that point what I would think of a found footage zombie movie, I would have told you it was the worst idea ever, that someone was milking the two most obvious sub genres of horror for all they were worth. However, 'Rec' did not milk either genre, in my opinion it reinvigorated both.
Then came 'Paranormal Activity', perhaps the first horror film since 'Blair Witch' to live up the hype that surrounded it. Prior to this film haunted house tales had become considered a little old fashioned, but the found footage make over gave the ghost story a much needed new lease of life. I am sure that 'Paranormal Activity' is in no small way responsible for the re emergence of the haunted house story in popular cinema.
Recently I have been watching a lot of low budget, independent horror movies. I have been growing increasingly unimpressed with the way the found footage genre is saturating the market, to the point where I automatically give a film more praise just for being an actual film, no matter how bad it may be. However, a few weeks ago I saw the best indie horror movie I have seen for a long time, a British film called 'The Borderlands'. Guess what? It's a found footage movie, about a Vatican team investigating a possible miracle in the English countryside, only to discover something much more ancient and evil.
The thing that we tend to forget is that found footage did not start in 1999, yes 'The Blair Witch Project' brought it up to date, but it was used to a degree in 'Cannibal Holocaust'. Really though it is the oldest trick in the horror genres repertoire.
Many scholars consider 'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace Walpole to be the first ever horror novel. Written in 1764 this dark, proto gothic tale of madness, murder and spirits presented itself on the first page as a manuscript found in the bowels of a castle. It purported itself to be a true account of events.
Following on from this was 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley, this most famous of novels is told as a tale being recounted as a form of confession. 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker is a novel that relays it's tale to the reader in the form of a series of diary entries, letters and reports. In a very real sense the found footage sub genre is the cinematic equivalent of this literary form, and if it was good enough for Stoker, Shelley and Walpole, who am I too argue?
I am a week behind with a blog. Last week I was planing a blog about my favourite haunting movies, but illness got in the way. My son, who is two and a half, recently started nursery and he caught hand, foot and mouth disease. It made him a little grumpy for a few days, but nothing major, he barely got a rash. Then last Sunday night I came down with terrible, flu like symptoms. So bad that I left a gig early to come home and crawl into bed. The following day I woke up feeling much better, except for a very sore throat. Tuesday though, the nightmare started. I awoke to find my mouth full of painful ulcers, and blisters. By lunch time I had blisters all over my hands and feet as well.
The next three days are some of the worst I have experienced through illness. I found it very difficult to swallow, due to the blisters in my throat, every mouthful of food felt as though it were laced with razor blades. I couldn't touch anything without feeling agonising pain in my hand, and walking was like I was constantly stepping on a bed of nails. Add to this a constant throb in my hand and feet that was akin to the feeling of severe sunburn.
I had never even heard of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease before contracting it myself. My initial fear was that it was in some way connected to Foot and Mouth, the disease suffered by cattle. This led me to imagine the government turning up to burn me to stop it spreading as I live in the countryside. Of course HFM has nothing to do wit foot and mouth and is in fact an incredibly common childhood illness.
However, like most incredibly common childhood illnesses the effect on adults is much worse than on the children. It seems such a strange illness though, there is no logical connection between the symptoms, how does a flu like virus give you blisters on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet? It felt like my body was betraying me. It was like the worst kind of Cronenberg nightmare. This tiny, viral invader had got into my body and was mutating it to it's own end. It shows that no matter how strong we are, it is the smallest monsters that can cause us the greatest harm.
I am feeling much better now, the sore throat and mouth ulcers have cleared up completely. The blister rashes on my hands and feet have faded to almost nothing, giving me only a tiny amount of pain now. I will leave you with one more nightmarish fact about HFM that I am dreading. About four weeks after recovery, it is quite common for both the fingernails and toenails to just drop off, creepy shit right there!
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing the very talented indie filmmaker and writer Richard Dutton, who is getting ready to unleash his very ambitious debut movie 'Shadows of a Stranger' on the world. Rich and I have been friends for a long time now and I have worked with him on several projects, including 'Shadows' which I am Associate Producer of and I also acted in.
Me: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
RICH: As a very young child I was mesmerised by a lot of films of the time, Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, Flash Gordon etc. etc. and my young mind felt some sort of draw to being a part of those sorts of adventures. Eventually when my mind was able to separate fiction from reality, I then had a big ambition to be an actor. When I was about 10 I started making ‘back-yard’ films with my cousin. He would usually be in control of the camera while I pranced around in front of it. But gradually as I got older I migrated towards being behind the camera as well. I spent a lot of my youth making my own films and, admittedly, made a lot of dross, but it gradually became an important tool for self-expression and learning how to communicate with audiences.
Me: What can you tell us about 'Shadows of a Stranger'?
RICH: Shadows of a Stranger is a project I’ve worked on now for about 5 years. I’d initially written the script back in 2002, and then one day in 2009 I decided to dig the script out again and I thought to myself, You know what? I rather like this story! I showed it to my friend Chris Clark and he had an instant belief in it and suggested we should make it ourselves (even though it wasn’t really written as a film that no/low budget filmmakers like us would take on). Chris came up with a plan to shoot it all on blue screen. Fast forward 5 years and we’ve finally just about finished it.
In terms of the film, it’s a dark, psychological thriller in a similar vein to Se7en, about the friendship between two different individuals that fragile circumstances throw together. One is a washed up private investigator, the other is a reclusive psychic. They team up on a job that promises a big reward, as they search for a stranger, a journey that causes them to do a lot of soul searching.
Me: How did you find the process of making such an ambitious project on such a small budget?
RICH: We knew it was always going to be a major challenge, and at times it was maybe seat of our pants stuff. But I think our bull-headed determination sort of forced the universe into letting it happen for us. I felt early on that if we were going to tackle such a project ‘by the book’ then we’d just get bogged down by the boring practicalities of raising finance and such, so we effectively threw that aside and focussed on the art. We said, This is what we’re doing and we’re doing it… well, like Frank Sinatra did things.
Me: Several famous faces worked on the film with us, how did this come about?
RICH: I think it was a combination of being confident enough in ourselves to think bigger than we’d thought before, of not taking no for an answer, for just going ahead and asking these famous faces the question, and finding that they were actually responding to what we were trying to create.
Chris had known the Rainbow actors Jane Tucker and Malcom Lord for some time, and Chris was talking to Jane one day when she mentioned that she was having dinner with Colin Baker soon, and we just thought Colin Baker… he would be great for this film! So we were really cheeky and asked Jane to have a word with him.
Me: Looking back now the finish line is in sight, would you attempt something like this again?
RICH:I don’t think so. Shadows of a Stranger was absolutely the right thing for us to start work on back in 2009. I wouldn’t want to repeat the same journey, because we’ve learnt so much, we’ve grown as artists and individuals, and we’re simply not the same people we were 5 years ago. I definitely wouldn’t want to make a film solely on blue screen again, because for a small filmmaking team it’s very time consuming. So I’d want to go about another film differently.
Me: You were writer and co-director on the film, how was it sharing the directing role with your co-director Chris Clark?
I think Chris and I worked together exceptionally well on the film. You often see with famous directors that they’re described as an ‘actors’ director’ or alternatively with others they don’t have an affinity with actors and they’re more about the look of a film. As I’d written the script and knew the characters, it made sense for me to direct the performances out of the actors. As Chris had suggested the blue screen route and had already worked with these filmmaking techniques, it made sense for him to direct the technical side of things, particularly the camera. Chris gave me a lot of confidence. It was great having a co-director I could turn to.
Me: Where did you get the idea for 'Shadows'?
RICH: As I wrote it so long ago, I can’t quite remember how the initial kernel of the idea for Shadows appeared in my brain. At the time I was very intrigued about the powers of the human mind in terms of psychic abilities, and remember hearing about incidents where police forces worked with psychics to track down criminals. I think it’s recognised by scientists that there is a lot about the brain that we don’t understand, and people generally accept that they have intuitive feelings. So I guess I wanted to explore these ideas and push them as far as they would go, because that would make for an exciting film in my mind! There was always a spiritual bent to the film, a contrast between characters becoming bogged down in their ‘worldly minds’ as they work 9 to 5 jobs and the trivial concerns that brings, and individuals who don’t quite fit in with that system and spend time in their own natural minds, unpolluted by these worldly and trivial concerns. In some ways I think Shadows of a Stranger is about how those two worlds come together. Me: As someone who has written both novels and screenplays, like myself, how does the writing process differ for the two mediums, and which do you prefer?
RICH: I enjoy both processes, but I certainly find writing novels a more involved process. With a script you’re effectively writing a blueprint for a final product, and of course the more visualisation you put into it, the stronger influence it has on creating a strong final film. There’s so much more work to be done though once you’ve written a script. With a novel, other than the front cover, that’s it. There’s your final product. You’re responsible for everything, but it also gives you the liberty of having full control over the portrayal of characters and execution of story. It’s liberating to know that you can go wherever you’d like and have characters do whatever you like. But within that liberty comes a lot of need for discipline.
Me: How long did it take you to write the screenplay for 'Shadows'?
RICH: I can’t remember how long I spent on the first draft back in 2002. Maybe 6 months or so. The next draft took a few months I guess. So probably around a year at most in all. I was still making changes though even when we were filming.
Me: With the film nearly finished, what have you got planned for the future? Any other projects in the pipeline?
Well, with post-production starting to wrap up, I’ve been doing a lot more writing recently. I do have a novel that I’ve been meaning to release for some time. It’s currently being read by my cousin, and if he doesn’t find any gaping plot holes, I’m going to release that soon. I’m already working on the sequel to it, too. I’m writing the books as stand-alone stories, but there is continuity to them, so that’s a bit of a challenge. I’ve also been writing another script this year – it’s been a similar process to Shadows, as I wrote this other script back in 2003, and recently dug it up again and reworked it. This one has undergone a lot more development though. I think it would make an awesome film, but then I would say that…
Me: Bonus question. If for your next film project you were offered either a) a documentary about the history of blancmange making in France. b) a biopic of the life and times of Harry Styles? Or c.) a sequel to the film 'White Chicks'. Which would you chose and why?
RICH: Wow. Erm… what a decision. The blancmange is definitely out, I’m afraid. I’ve never seen or heard of White Chicks before, so I’m going to guess there isn’t much of an audience for its sequel. A Harry Styles biopic on the other hand… yeah, Harry Styles all the way. I’ll start watching One Direction’s music videos on Youtube right now…
The more accurate title of this week’s blog should be what's in a title? As yes we are looking at that awful and oft feared topic of writers, what do I call my book? And when do I pick my title?
Let's face it one of the two first elements that are going to sell your book are the title and the cover design. The old saying is never judge a book by its cover, however we all do, initially at least. If we don't know the author’s work it is the cover design and title that are going to make us pick the book up and read the blurb. If those two things don't grab us and hook us we don't bother.
So a title is a very important part of writing a book, especially for us indie authors as we don't have the editors and marketing departments that help some traditionally published authors pick a winning title.
You need to pick a title that will grab people's attention, rouse their interest and express, along with the cover design, the genre of your book. So as you can imagine, choosing the right title is almost as difficult a task as writing the novel.
When to choose a title? This is a tricky one, some people leave choosing a title right until the end, whereas others come up with a title first. When writing short stories I will often come up with a title first, as a starting point to the story. For example in my short story collection, 'Dark County', there is a story called Fear and Loathing in Skeg Vegas ( a play on the famous Hunter S. Thompson novel, and the nick name of our local seaside resort) came to me randomly, and I had to use it. In that case the title fueled the story.
When writing a novel though it is usually the idea of the narrative that comes first and then the title. However, I have to have some sort of title when I start writing, the words untitled on a document instill a sort of writer block in me. So even if it is a working title. For example when I first started writing my debut novel it was called Blackfriars Crescent, named after the street it was set on. However as I got further into the story I realised that this title didn't convey enough, the real story was about what was below the street, so the title changed to Beneath Blackfriars Crescent ( which I think we can all agree is a clumsy, wordy, God awful title), I then changed it again to just Blackfriars, which I did like the sound of, and it certainly conjured up an image in the mind, but it wasn't the right image. Finally I decided just to call the novel 'Beneath', it was short, snappy, and combined with the great cover art by my father, created a striking first impression.
At the end of the day other people will always like your title more than you do, whatever you choose. You have spent months writing the novel and months agonising over the title. To you it will always seem like the perfect title for your book had eluded you. To your readers though, it will be fresh and new, and completely associated with your book, and hopefully they will love it. You will look at the titles of other authors books and think how you wish you had come up with that title, but I can pretty much guarantee you that the author in question had as much doubt about their title as you do yours.
So in conclusion, it is worth remembering that a great title does not a great novel make, some of the best books ever written have truly terrible titles. However if you're a lesser known author a great title can certainly get people looking at your book, even if they don't buy it, it got you a step closer than all the books they just skipped over.
This weekend I went to a convention, whilst there I spoke to quite a few people, and took part in an all author panel Q+A session. It got me think about all the other people I have spoken to, for interviews, at other signings, and even just on a night in the pub.
I have titled this post the 3rd most commonly asked question to horror authors, as I think that question is the most important one, and in some ways it answers the first two questions as well.
So what are the first two questions? I hear you ask. Well number one, is not exclusive to horror, it is asked of any author.
Where do you get your ideas?
If I had a penny for everytime I've been asked that question I would have a few pounds by now. It is a question that has many possible answers, but I think the most honest answer I can give is anywhere and everywhere. Inspiration for stories can strike at any time, and be set off by anything I see, hear or just ponder on.
The second question
This is often delivered in a tone of derision. People look down on horror, they always have. When asking this question people tend to really be asking 'what is wrong with you, mentally, that makes so you write this sick crap?' The fact is though, all the horror writers I've met have been lovely, sane people. We just perceive things in a slightly skewed way. The fact is I have always loved horror, and the idea that I would end up writing anything else is almost ridiculous to anyone who knows me.
So we get to the big one, the 3rd and most important question.
What scares you?
By definition of what we do, it is very hard to scare a horror writer through horror fiction, we are so aware of the genre that we have desensitised ourselves to the fear other people get from our work. However, the simple answer is everything scares me, seriously I am terrified of spiders, small spaces, balloons, duffle coats ( well actually I'm not scared of duffle coats, I just don't trust them, long story). I am scared of losing the people I love, to the point that I worry everytime the phone rings that it's a worst case scenario. I lie at awake some nights torturing myself with graphic images of my worst fears running through my head.
So I use those fears as inspiration for story ideas. My debut novel, 'Beneath', is a supernatural horror story, but at it's heart it is a tale of a man scared that he can't protect his family. It is no coincidence that I started writing it when my wife was pregnant with our first child, and completed when my son was six months old. I channeled my own fears and insecurities into that story.
Why do that? Because writing it down, making it a fiction works to release these worries and fears from my mind. It is often said that the horror genre offers it's audience a form of catharsis, a safe way to face their fears. In my case writing horror does the same thing. So why do I write horror? Because it's good for my mental health. If I didn't I'd probably be in a padded cell by now.
Today we have a very special guest blog from the extremely talented author Michael Brookes, he will be talking about how technology, and fear of it, is making itself the new supernatural threat in horror.
Techno-Horror: Technology as the new supernatural
Horror stories are tales about fear, as such they were among the first stories ever told. Human beings have changed since then, we have evolved into a richly interconnected society and have developed technologies that would seem like magic to our ancestors even just a few generations back. Throughout all that change there are still fears that exist in a place so ancient they are difficult to suppress, although we have found ways to combat them. The fear of the dark is something that still lurks inside many of us, we can banish it at the flick of a switch.
Much of our fear stems from the unknown, we didn’t know what the silver disk in the sky was. What happens when you have scary visions when you sleep? What happens when you die? To try and understand those fears, or to provide comfort we created supernatural entities. Demons were beings sent to torment us, angels to protect us (or wipe our first born depending on who your king was at the time).
Science and technology has helped push some of those fears away from us, or at least weaken the entities we created to protect or torture ourselves. Evil is not a supernatural force, it is simply the thoughts in our head, the actions of the disturbed.
The problem with technology is that it brings change and quite often that in itself causes fear, even more so in that while some people might understand the intricacies of technology or science, most of us do not. We take it on faith that something will work, that someone else understands how things work.
Another human tendency is to anthropomorphise, when our computer crashes we curse it, almost as if it was a malevolent entity deliberately making our lives worse. As we have discovered throughout our history fear of the unknown creates new terrors, now rather than the supernatural we have machines that fill in the blanks, they govern our lives in ways we have no control over. Computers inhabit almost every part of our lives, if a computer gets it wrong then it can cause more than simple distress.
Now imagine if the computer had a will of its own.
If a computer with the right connections sought to cause you harm, how different would that be from being hounded by demons?
Of course computers don’t have their own wills, not yet at any rate. There is an idea called the Technological Singularity, it’s a concept that technology will reach a point where it will evolve beyond our ability to understand or control it. How scary will technology be if such an event ever occurs, in supernatural terms they would deem it the Apocalypse.
Well what a few weeks it has been. First there was the release of my new novel 'The Wilds' - available here - which did very well on it's first week of release, and has garnered several five star reviews already. Then last Saturday I attended my first signing event at a memorabilia fair.
I have rarely been as nervous as I was that day. I have never attended one of these events as a member of the public, let alone a guest, so I had no idea what to expect. The day began very early when my wife and I packed up the car and set off to our destination, Cleethorpes, about an hour and a half away. We drove up there over the, still misty, Lincolnshire wolds.
Upon our arrival, the place was full of activity, with a myriad of vendors setting up there wares. We were shown where we would be setting up, and all of the amenities at our disposal. We then set about setting up my table, I was quite pleased with the results.
Sat next to us was a fellow horror author, the wonderful Nathan Robinson, who I had previously only had the pleasure of speaking to online. We were all set up, and when the doors opened, we waited, and waited, and waited.
With so many other vendors there, it seemed that no one was really interested in buying books from an author they had never heard of before. Then a few hours later I made my first sale, a copy of my short story collection 'Dark County', to a woman dressed in a terrifying Cybershade (from Doctor Who) costume. With an unbelievable sense of pride I signed my name in that book, and suddenly the whole thing seemed worth, in terms of recognition if not recompense.
As the day progressed we had a good laugh with our fellow guest, and saw some amazing sights. Over the course of the day I sold a further four books, and although this did not make me rich, it did put me in a slight profit for a wonderful day.
I have the bug now. The next event I am attending is the Geeks Unleashed at the Doncaster Dome, on May the 4th. This event will be much larger, with more guests ( I can't wait to meet Danny John Jules, the Cat from Red Dwarf). I am also taking part in a panel discussion with some fellow authors, which I am really looking forward to.
Indie authors who have not attended any such events, you really should try it, it is great fun, and even though my sales on the day weren't amazing, I have seen a definite increase in ebook sales since I went there.
So this week sees the release of my latest novel, 'The Wilds'. It feels good to get a new novel out into the world, but of course now I am faced with the seemingly impossible task of promoting the book.
There are scores of books available on Amazon that tell you how to market you're books for guaranteed success. I know this because I have bought a lot of them myself. It seems to me that the only guaranteed way to be a success on Amazon is to write a book about how to be a success on amazon.
I of course try all of the different approaches set out in these book. ; blogs, Facebook, twitter, goodreads, press releases yadda yadda yadda!
My first book 'Beneath' was relatively successful on its first few months of release. Hitting the number one spot in it's category three times. This was more luck than judgement on my part. It was my first novel and I had little idea what I was doing. The thing is I have been unable to replicate that success with my subsequent releases.
It would appear to me that paid advertising and public appearances may be the key. However, if you are in the position I am, low income family with young child, it is not feasible to do these things. I am scheduled to be making public appearances this year, but as of yet don't have enough money to order copies of my books to sell and sign.
So is there an answer, or is self publishing merely a past time of those with the money to back it up? Personally I think there is some truth to the latter part. The vast majority of self published books are non fiction book written by people successful in that particular field, who can afford to market their books to a specific niche or need.
Fiction, however, does not, and should not, fit neatly into niches, and the only need it satisfies is the need to be entertained. This makes knowing where to market your book very difficult, because there are infinite possibilities.
What I have found out is that the cheapest way to market your books is to engage with people. If someone writes something nice about your book on Facebook, or twitter, you need to take the time to reply, and form a friendship with those people. If you do that, they are guaranteed, pretty much, to buy your next book, and to recommend you to their friends, and defend you from the attacks of trolls.
Engage in your community, I recently donated some copies of my books to the local library. Tomorrow I am going there to talk to a group of year 11 students who are studying horror at a local secondary school. I doubt these kids will have much money to buy my book, but if I can engage with them, and inspire them, then this is something that will stay with them for life. It is playing the long game.
Contact whatever local media you have, they will more than likely be willing to cover your story, it will more than likely get you a few sales, but it will also get your name out there in people's minds for free. Brand recognition. People might read an article about you in the local news paper, then in six month time stumble across your book on Amazon, and think oh yeah I remember that guy. And buy it.
As I say, the odds are stacked in favour of those who have the money to promote their work, but don't be disheartened if like me you can't afford it. Keep writing, keep plugging away, engage with people online and in your community, and slowly you will get there. A writing career is not a sprint, it's not even a marathon, it's an unending race around the world. Those who stop to talk to people will get bigger cheers at the end of the day.
This week I have had the pleasure of interviewing the very talented Brad Bourne of Dead Pixels Photography. Brad is a horror photographer who specializes in the dark and the macabre. I have had the pleasure of working with him several times, he did the photograph for the cover of my short story collection 'Dark County, and more recently he took some portraits for me.
If you Like what you see and want to check out more of his work, visit his Facebook page HERE------> DEAD PIXELS PHOTOGRAPHY
So without further ado, here is what we talked about.
Kit: Good afternoon, how are you?
Brad: Im very well thankyou Mr Tinsley
Kit: What is your history in photography? Did you study photography?
Brad: Well as a student I actually studied Film and Television. It was the first year they had done it at Lincoln college of Art. I ended up being one of the only people who knew how to use the edit suite :P. I did dabble in a little Black and White photography. Actually taking the photo through the entire process of taking the picture to negative development and exposing etc. So that was a good background. Before going on to Plymouth College of Art to study Film and Television working alot with 16mm film. Something you learn with working in a medium like that is you "have" to get it right - There is no immediate checking for a reshoot. It focuses you alot more.
K: You seem to have and excellent eye for composition, do you know what is going to make a good photograph before you take it?
B:Short answer...No. I do try and take as much for real in the actual picture as possible. But the age of Digital has certainly made it easier to re-compose an image after the fact. Im a big believer in a run 'n' gun mentality and some of the best ideas are born out of chaos. So whereas there will be the basis of an idea, i'll never have the final picture image in my head. Simply because a better idea may come from just trying something on the fly. And it's fun to experiment rather than go with a specific plan.
K: You're photography is darkly beautiful, what inspires you?
B: Ooooh allsorts. I love creepy imagery. Something that makes you think "What the hell is that"? I suppose one of the biggest influences has to actually be a video game. I remember the first time I played Silent Hill on the playstation one. It was such a dark creepy game. And when the second one came out it was even creepier. Something lurking in the shadows you cant quite see. Old decaying scenery spattered with blood. I also like to incorporate pretty with disgusting - It's a nice contrast. Pretty girl, pig's heart. You know the kind of thing Mr Tinsley :)
K: I Certainly do. Are there any other horror photographers out here that you admire? If so why?
B: I'd say I admire images and imagery rather than people - I'm a picture person really. If I see something that looks cool and makes me want to keep looking at it then I guess thats a kind of admiration. I do like the work of Danielle Tunstell. She creates some very evocative images. Anathema photography also create alot of thought provoking horror art. Roberto Seagate was one of the first artists I saw doing the kind of thing im doing so he wasa big inspiration. I also like the work of painters like Boris Vellejo. It always amazed me how beautiful his fantasy art was. Even if he does do alot of Mills and Boon covers. Or used to anyway lol. Also classic painters like Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali. I tend to detest modern art - A blue square on a white background just doesn't do it for me. It just insults the viewers intelligence. And that's probably the reason you wont see me in the Tate gallery any time soon lol. But i'm ok with that :P
K: Whatever are some of your favourite horror films, and what do you like about them?
B: I'd have to say I really like alot of the previously banned late 70's early 80's horrors. Stuff by the likes of Lucio Fulci. There's just an extremely creepy quality in the way they were shot. Something that appears to have eluded the film makers of today. "The Beyond" for example is extremely dicomforting. I also remember watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a kid. My mum and dad had borrowed it from my Aunt and Uncle and gone out for the evening. It was too good of an opportunity to miss for a horror obsessed 11 year old. Hardly any gore in the film but I had nightmares for weeks about the sliding metal door. Although I do have to say 2 of my favourite films are Brian De Palma's Carrie (I do love a bit o' Stephen King) and John Carpenter's The Thing - Such a foreboding movie - Perfect!!!
K: What equipment do you use in your photos shoots?
B: A ring light because its so versatile especially if you "don't" want harsh shadows - Various other daylight lights - The camera is a 5D MK III and a 24 - 105 L lens - Sometimes bring out the lovely 50mm prime. I wish I could afford alot more
K: As a digital artist what do you think are the advantages of digital photography over traditional photography? Are there any disadvantages?
B: Well there are many advantages of course. The ability to instantly view the picture you have just taken being a big one - The ability to edit them immediately and easily using software - Just the scope of editing capabilities is just so vast and instant these days. You could argue that it makes photographers lazy and I suppose to a degree it does. Coming from a film background I can deffinitely see why. But at the end of the day you still have to take a good (in focus) picture, compose it well and create an image thats pleasing to the eye - However unsettling the subject matter may be. I guess thats where the artistic side comes in.
K: What programmes do you use to edited your photographs? Which programme could you not live without?
B: Photoshop and Filter Forge - Could not live without Photoshop
K: What are your ambitions for Dead Pixels Photography?
B: Well in the not too distant future ill be making the images available as prints to buy if people so desire. Thats my main goal at the moment - Hopefully people will like them enough. Im my own biggest critic so id never make anything available I didnt like myself. But im also scared people will hate them lol. I guess thats just me. I'm also hugely grateful to friends who have helped along the way. You guys all know who you are and I do try to help them in return :)
K: Do you have any interesting projects in the pipeline.
B: So many pictures - So little time. Yeah have many lined up so expect a few dark 'n' creepy images over the coming weeks. There may even be an Alice in Wonderland themed one. And there's nothing creepier than a good ole fairytale. So stay tuned :)