Saturday, 31 October 2015

Keith Deininger Interview

Keith Deininger writes some of the most wonderful imaginative and dark fiction I've read. He wrote Marrow's Pit, which, for me had shades of China Mieville, and Within, as sweet a story as any classic Barker tale. Keith's latest project is the Godgame Series...and I've got him here to talk about that, and what makes him. He's pretty cool, and it's a genuine pleasure to get to ask him a few questions on here.

Q: Hi Keith. That's not a question. This is - the Godgame series, four books in (if that's right!)...will there be more? Is this a long running project?

The Godgame series is one I’ve been trying to write for years. I’ve started books set in the world of Meridian before, but they never went anywhere. One of the first novels I wrote was a fantasy novel that I abandoned at 200k words or so. It was a muddled mess. I wasn’t ready to write it. I had to write a lot of other things before I could write these books, so to finally see them unleashed on the world is pretty amazing. I’ve come a long way. According to my notes, there should be 4 more books in this series, but other than a vague outline, I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of planning. It’s just that I always, no matter what, let my characters make their own decisions, so even I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I can’t wait.

Q: Your fiction tends toward the fantastic and the dark you write other genres, or mix and match at all?

Ugh, genres… I wish I could write in a couple of nice, marketable genres. It’d be a lot easier to sell books, that’s for sure. I’m always playing around with attempting to write something more marketable, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I write what I can write, and it’s some crazy shit. I try to be intuitive. I’m always sitting back, reading over what I’ve written, and thinking, “Damn, what the fuck is this shit?” Sorry, I have a dirty mouth. And now I have a baby daughter at home, so I guess I gotta clean that up. But, yeah, anyway, I like to call myself a “dark fantasy” writer. That’s a genre, right?

Q: Are there any particular writers you feel have influenced or inspired your writing?

Peter Straub has been a huge influence, for sure. And Clive Barker is one of my all time favourites. I’ve read everything Clive Barker has written. In college I read a lot of postmodernist stuff like Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace. I used to love Chuck Palahniuk, but I grew out of him. I used to read Dungeons and Dragons fantasy books in middle school and then a ton of Stephen King. I think it’s all had an influence on my own development. I know the Roald Dahl and C. S. Lewis I read when I was a kid has.

Q: How do you cope with four dogs? That seems like a lot. We've got two African snails and they're kind of a chore.

The wife and I have kind of a soft spot for animals. I used to have ferrets too. And I’ve gone through a bevy of guinea pigs. I’m a little awkward in social situations (I drink), and I’m more comfortable around animals than people, so I guess that’s why we have so many. Oh, and we have a cat too. He’s an ass.

Q: Do you have a routine, or something approaching a strenuous work schedule for your writing?

I get up early and write for an hour every morning. I go to the day job and I use my lunch hour to write on my laptop. And then, every Saturday and Sunday, I carve out a few solid hours to do the heavy creative stuff that takes a lot of concentration. I’ve also learned to snatch moments when I can. So far, I’ve been able to produce a consistent flow of work. I’m always going over things in my head and I take constant notes in notebooks, on my phone and computer, and on little scraps of paper at work. It’s a bit of an obsession really.

Q: Do you get out and about much, to signings, or conventions? If you do, do you have any you want to share so people can come and stalk you?

Well, no. I don’t get out much. I’ve done a couple of small signings and I’ve been to some cons, but not all that often. Without hopping on a plane, I don’t have many opportunities like that out where I live. The travel is too expensive. That, and I’m so focused on using my precious time to write. The next con I’m planning to do is Bubonicon here in Albuquerque next August. George R. R. Martin lives around here and goes every year, so maybe I’ll get a chance to shove a book in his hands and run away screaming, “You’re welcome.” Yeah, that’s going to work out for me.

Exhibit A: George R.R. Martin stalker-wannabe Keith Deininger.

Q: You live in New Mexico (I read your I'm tired from all the research that went into this interview), right? Is it better than Old Mexico? Do you think Mexico actually needed a reboot? I only ask because it segues nicely into the real question, which is: what's your feeling on all the reboots in film, in the horror genre in particular?

Here in the States, when I tell people who aren’t from this area that I’m from New Mexico they often think I’m actually from the country of Mexico. It happens way more often than it should. I’m also very pale and I get my nose from my French great grandmother, so I’m not sure what they’re thinking. That being said, I hate reboots. Especially with horror movies. Is there a single one you can think of that’s better than the original movie? The same goes for sequels and more superhero movies. Aren’t people tired of this shit by now? It’s the same thing over and over again. Where’s the original content, people? I think moviemakers need to read more. There are a lot of really excellent books that could be made into awesome movies, horror and otherwise.

Q: Anything in particular you're passionate about other than making up stories?

Besides reading and writing, I really like games. I don’t play a lot of them these days, but I’d love to design a couple eventually. I also like to cook, believe it or not, and the wife leaves dinner up to me in the evenings. I love movies too, and actually hold a minor in film theory, but I can be very critical. I’m kind of an ass that way.

Q: What's best for you - the awards you've won, the sales of your books, or to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women?

Oh, I love to crush my enemies. I once told my arch nemesis in college that when I was big and successful I’d dedicate my first book to him as a proverbial slap to the face, but then I didn’t. Come to think of it, I still need to do that with one of my books. Problem is, I can’t remember why I hated him so much anymore. Damn, I have to work on that.

Q: Is writing a novel a long process for you, or do you just sit down and get on with it?

I’m a slow writer because I often comb through what I’ve written so far and edit and tweak before moving on to the next chapter. I also take a lot of notes on characters and tangents that don’t end up being used in the actual manuscript, so it’s kind of a process for me. I have to “feel” a chapter is good before I move on to the next one.

Q: Are you reading anything at the moment?

I just started Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts, so we’ll see how that goes. I read Philip K. Dick’s Ubik recently. I’m not a big fan of PKD’s work because his characters are all so one-dimensional, but I still appreciate it. I also started re-reading Clive Barker’s Imajica once again because I love it so much.  So much.

Q: Anywhere people can find out more?

I have a website, I’m on social media and I’m told I’m a nice guy.

Q: What's the latest, too? Anything you want to pimp? You might as well while you're here - seems rude not to...

The first two books and the novella prologue to the Godgame series have just come out. I’m very proud of these books the reviews have been very good so far.

Q: What's your latest project/next project? If you want to talk about it!

There are several projects I’d like to tackle, including an idea I can’t get out of my head about a drunken warrior-poet wandering around at the end of the world, but for now I’ll be working on the Godgame books. I’m finally writing Marrow’s story in the book I’m working on now, which is something I’ve been building up to for a long time.

Q: And, penultimate question - do you have any plans for the future...not just your stories and series, but for you, as a writer? Where would you like to go with your writing?

I would like, eventually, after I’ve built up enough consistent sales to feel comfortable writing fulltime, write some epic literary works. I’d like to try my hand at something big and obsessive like Danielewski’s House of Leaves. But, for now, I’m content doing what I’m doing.

Q: Last question! When are you coming to the UK? I owe you a beer.

I’d love to make it out there. And it just so happens I love beer too. Someday. It’ll happen someday.

And that was Keith Deininger. He's one of the best I've read, without doubt. Inventive and imaginative fiction - horror/steampunk, dark fantasy, or just plain fiction, whatever the genre. If you haven't read anything by Keith, he's well worth a go and I'm a fan.

Thank you, Keith, for being on, and thank you, reader.

Love you, same as it ever was. x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Sharing and Caring - Horror Double Bill! The Horrible Axe/Halloween

Talking at FCon about how some share others work, supporting where they can...some don't. I think it's important to encourage and nurture talent. It's an honour to be in a position to do it, as a mega-famous author! (shh!). With that in mind, I'm showcasing two new, free-to-read, stories by authors just starting out.

In the red corner of BLOOD...let me introduce the first tale...a terrifying story by Harry J. Saunders...THE HORRIBLE AXE!

Here...straight into the action, we find the horrible axe, bloodied and used...but what is its awful power? 

Our hero finds out when he cuts off his hand and...

And it turns him into a ZOMBIE!

Take a quick breather, guys and ghouls (Tales from the Crypt, baby)...before our next tale in the true holiday of love...of HORROR! 

Buckle up for Jack W. Saunders monstermash 'HALLOWEEN'! (Kindly illustrated by none other than Tim Burton!)

In town, a creepy song grew louder. The buildings were really rough. Sometimes the town got bored, but on Saturday 5th 2001, April, a leader was made. Although he was really smart...although he was a humanoid LLAMA some people made science to make the leader a SKELETON. In 2002 he was turned into a skeleton...though he was on FIRE!!!

After became 2003. Things were looking good until on New Year's Eve a monster came to town. He was too scare, but he came anyway and found a house to let. He murdered a human!

After a year it was 2004. Guess what? You're right! The monster was seven years old. It was monster years. 

And on the celebration of his birthday, they ate cobwebs, worms, dead, bones.

And there you have it, ghouls and zombies and witches and all you dead folks...the true spirit of Halloween.


But only for dinner! 

(Need ketchup, mind.)

Love you!
The Shed

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

What I've been doing...and some news.

Normally, I try to update the blog no more than once a week, but I figure with no breaking publisher/publishing news, it kind of looks like all I've been doing is working on Rythe. I haven't, and I don't want you to think I'm getting all lazy and wotnot, hanging out with all the cool people at FCon. I have a job, too, you know...

So, in the spirit of sharing and caring, I've uploaded what I've worked on above.

Beneath Rythe, as mentioned, is underway. 2016 will see the completion of the series, and a boxed set of the quadrilogy sometime after that.

I've also begun work on a stand alone Rythe novel, The Warrior Soul. Cover art is already in, from Chris Taggart, who is rather brilliant.

But I've completed some novels, too, which I'm submitting currently. They'll be accepted or they won't. Either way, they'll be out. Hope you like them if you take a look (all linked above in the 'sample' section).

They are: Highwayman, Ghost Voices, Death by a Mother's Hand, and The Dead Boy. 

Three horrors, one straight thriller. With a bit of horror.

I like horror, what you gonna do?

Oh, and the news? I'm posting Keith Deininger's interview at the end of the week. I love Keith's stuff, and I'm really chuffed to get him on the blog. This is his website, if you don't already know: That'll be ready for the weekend. Hope you'll come and take a look at the interview, because he's one of my favourites. :D

Love you. x

Monday, 26 October 2015

British Fantasy Society Convention 2015 - roundup/travelog.

Friday 23rd October

My first FCon. It's a big deal, I guess. Famous people, tons of panels, readings back-to-back, coffeeklatsch things (which I think is some sort of coffee morning where they raise money for the Pan Macmillan charity). I thought I wanted to go to one or two (maybe Brandon Sanderson's)...but turned out I didn't. I figured people would pretty much ask the same things. Much as I was interested in saying hi to the 'big' authors, I said hi to the two I wanted to (Tim Lebbon - generous, friendly, and my fanboy moment, and Adam Nevill - so calm he seemed like some kind of crazy-serene Buddha horror guru...very cool, both of them). After the first five minutes I felt like I was at an all-you-could meet buffet (chortle - more puns! Whoo). I didn't want to get full up on famous people. So I didn't. They'll still be famous enough, popular enough, whether they've met me or not. Alison Littlewood was there, who seems lovely online. She's about the only person I would've liked to speak to that I didn't. Out of two hundred attendees or so, I can live with that. The actor who played the guy who chopped off Jamie Lannister's hand was there. I didn't talk to him, either. I need my hands.

Joe Hill, John Connelly, Sarah Pinborough, Juliet E McKenna (who I know of largely through her column for Albedo One), those authors I've already mentioned. All cool, and by all accounts lovely and personable. But I did my thing. The panel I sat on was fine - Frances Hardinge won the best fantasy novel award on the Sunday - but I got the impression of a kind of two-tier heirarchy there. My friends and I talk bollocks. Others talk bollocks, too, but they're slightly posher about it and mostly do the same thing in wine bars rather than the Railway Tavern. And the two tier system often revolves around indies and small press thinking the traditional guys look down on them, the traditional guys assuming the indie don't make any money...or just their perception...I don't think anyone really knows what it's like for anyone else, and we're all in largely the same boat. To be honest, some people seem a little irritated by the whole thing. Personally, I really don't give a shit. We're all still people, whether we turn our noses up at someone else or not. Case in point, in the panel, one lady blanched at the mention of poo. I think the Railway Tavern's more me. I've no delusions of grandeur but if that's their thing, then that's fine, too, isn't it?

Best for me, though, wasn't the panel, or seeing those authors I've heard about over the years, but the ones I love - friends from FB I've known for years and never met, and friends I've known for years and have met. And twenty or more people stayed 'til midnight to come to my reading of 'Left to Darkness', which was a really nice surprise.

Having a quiet beer with Matt Shaw, who I've known for years now, was a highlight, too. Awesome, humble, and taller than he looks online.

Saturday 24th October

Friday, I did what I came to do. Saturday was always going to be about having a mooch and hanging out with friends. Pictured below, Paul Feeney, Andrew Freudenberg, Rich Hawkins (nominated in the best horror category - lost out to Adam Nevill, but Adam's a worthy winner so all good) and Adam Millard. Hung out with some new friends on the Sinister Horror Company table, too, a relatively new press run by Justin Park, Daniel Chant, and Duncan Bradshaw - passionate, professional, and I think well worth their salt. Nice fellas. All in all, Saturday turned out to be a win. A ton of people went out for a curry earlier in the evening, came back and had a disco. Yes...rather like a school reunion. I poked my head in at the disco once, for maybe ten seconds. Thirty-odd people doing the Macarena. Not my bag. Went back to the bar.

Much of the convention did feel like a school reunion, or a business meeting. It's a little more...salubrious...than I'm used to. Fine, nice, brilliantly organised and well worth the price of the ticket. Will I go every year? I don't think so, but I'd certainly do another. All told this weekend cost something more than £400 for three days. For a guy who lives in a shed, that's a big wad of money. For others, with money to burn, probably a drop in the ocean. Something smaller, more intimate next year, though. Probably go along to HorrorCon, rather than FCon, for preference. If you're a reader, fan, writer, in the bookish business at all - FCon's very worthwhile and there's something for everyone.

Met Kit Power, too, and Vix Kirkpatrick, and Jim Mcleod, and Graeme Reynolds and Chris Barnes and Emma Audsley, and...a lot of other people. Kit's reading, which a bunch of people stayed 'til midnight for, was a cracker.

But here, this, was what it was about for me - hanging out with old friends and some other old friends I met for the first time over the weekend:

Sunday 25th October

I was tired, I guess. The only thing I was particularly interested in was watching Rich Hawkins at the awards' ceremony. But I'd walked twenty miles (really) over the two days and my feet hurt and I missed my family. So, I left.

General thoughts on travel? I guess I didn't think it worth it, or enjoyable, or particularly pleasant. I'm only six feet two inches high...but the outside world must be designed for hobbits. The proportions of almost everything seem mean, calculated to save space, or money...which leads to the next point. I feel like a time traveller, in a way. I'm out of touch, yes, but after a trip to a city outside the county (I like Norwich just fine) I remembered why I don't much enjoy travelling. Mostly, because I feel it's a bit shit.

Cities are the same everywhere, and many English cities almost identical. On the train routes, or near the airport, everything is drab, dire, rundown. Broken windows, tiny homes, dirty and littered streets. Urban regeneration seems to mean turning waterfront warehouses into tiny apartments and expensive pubs. On the whole, just worn out. Maybe once these places felt vibrant and interesting. Not to me. They're choke points, designed to wring the sustenance from travellers, like a sphincter in a digestive system and one that survives on money and souls. Vampiric. I found Nottingham unrelentingly grey. Perhaps the locals do, too, because many seem to paint themselves orange, maybe so they see some colour when they look in the mirror at least, or perhaps just to plaster over the look of horror in their faces.

The cashpoints/ATMs charge you to withdraw your own money. A coffee costs three pounds. One pint of beer is four pounds. To take taxis to and from the venue would have added another forty or fifty pounds to the tally. You have to pay to get through a turnstile to take a piss. An awful lot like being cattle, herded to slaughter and you have to pay for it yourself.

Maybe overstating the case, but all told, £150 for two nights sleeping in a hotel (just a bed really - you wanted anything else you had to pay for that, too...even wi-fi, like it's not floating in the air anyway). £70 odd quid for a train with no seats that I couldn't stand up straight in. Uncomfortable. Three hour wait for a train (read Shaw's 'The Big Blue' while I waited, though, so not a complete bust). Cancelled train on the way back, so two hours on a bus. I got a seat...couldn't fit in it. Even the hotel bed, my feet hung over the edge. I'm not a giant, but I felt like one. I sit in my shed. The rare times I go out, I feel like everywhere else has shrunk.

I suppose some sort of conclusion's in order. The convention - a good event, yes. The outside world doesn't interest me much. Friends...always, always worth the price of admission.

Love you. x

The Shed :D

Monday, 19 October 2015

October Promotions - Rythe Awakes, The Outlaw King, Vigil, Spiggot, Too.

I said, by way of apology for Rythe Awakes, that I'd make it free every Saturday I'm able. So, entirely updated, rewritten, it will be. The next five Saturdays (October 24th being the first) Rythe Awakes Version 2.0 will be free. Thank you for putting up with this, the smelly weird uncle in the corner at the better uncle's wake. Something like that...

I hope you'll give it a go.

The same deal applies to The Outlaw King, which I've set as free for the next five Saturdays.

Vigil (time travelling vampires, innit?) will be up for 99p/c from October 24th, for one week.

Spiggot, Too will be on offer for 99p/c for the first time. One week, starting October 31st. (The follow up to 'Spiggot'...obviously...)

Lastly, I always seem to set these things up and forget to let anyone know. From now on I'll write a blog with details of any upcoming promos - look out for these around the end of each month.

As always, thanks for reading, and love you. x

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Rythe - Covers and news -

I've finally had some time (about twenty hours, I guess, but I'm not bitter...) to update the covers for the Rythe books. The final ones (by a professional, not me) will be done at some point. Until then, these will serve.

Rythe Awakes mk.II is around three days over schedule. I will get it uploaded, all done, before FCon, and blog about free dates for all books then.

Beneath Rythe, the final book of the Rythe Quadrilogy, is underway. As is a series of standalone novels, the first being 'The Warrior Soul'.

Here are the eight covers (I'll do the Rythe Quadrilogy Boxed Set Cover soon, but it's not urgent). Bye, and love you!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Rythe Awakes - Update

In the previous post I wrote about how duff 'Rythe Awakes' was. I'm completely amazed anyone ever read this novel, let alone came back for more and read the follow-ups, too.

What I've done to Rythe Awakes isn't anything like editing. I've rewritten the entire novel. If an edit is a paint job, this is knocking down an entire house and building it again from nothing but the foundations. I've cut 20,000 words and rewritten pretty much every sentence remaining. Everything is different - except the story.

And, with that in mind, it's taken me as long to do this as it would for me to write an entire novel from scratch. A month, every hour available between children and family. Like the old days, I've worked on this from first thing in the morning 'til last thing at night and then kept going when I should be sleeping. It's driven me nuts, I've hated it, swore at it. Much like a builder.

But it was worth it.

Anyway, by way of recompense to those (frankly odd - sorry!) readers who made it though the entire novel, it will be free every weekend I can manage it, as will The Tides of Rythe and Rythe Falls. I'm going to read through one more time, then upload everything needed, and I'll blog and tweet etc when its done.

I did think about renaming it, but it's still Rythe Awakes. I guess this is Rythe Awakes 2.0. Like games released with bugs, it shouldn't ever have been released, and I'm sorry. So, there you go. I have forgotten the face of my father.

Hopefully this will remedy it to some degree.

Here's the new cover, which will be up during the week (this post is live 10/10/2015) and free every weekend I can manage. The Tides of Rythe and Rythe Falls only need a jolly good format - I'll upload those with the new covers, set up free weekends, and that will be done sometimes in the next fortnight - before FCon, certainly. After FCon, with a clean conscience and a clean slate, I can move on with Beneath Rythe.

Thanks, and I still love you. x