Friday, 30 September 2016

'The House of Oak' available for free from Darkfusemagazine.com

The House of Oak

'People say a witch was once buried beneath the old oak. The kids who played in the woods, back when kids still played in the woods, used to talk about digging under that fat and gnarly tree to look for her bones.

This isn't the story of the death of Wayne, or Neil, or their mother. This is my story. A story about the house I built them in the branches of an oak tree back in 1976 or '77. A story about a witch, about evil, but about idle hands, too, and these old man's hands that planted two acorns in the soft dirt above their graves.'


My story 'The House of Oak' is available over on http://www.darkfusemagazine.com/subscribe/ and it is entirely free - all you have to do is subscribe to the newsletter.

It's set within the same universe as the novels: Highwayman, forthcoming from Darkfuse in 2017 and Hangman (forthcoming from Darkfuse). Also, the novellas: Deadlift (Darkfuse), Flesh and Coin (Darkfuse), Death by a Mother's Hand, A Scarecrow to Watch over Her (Previously titled 'Scarecrow' from Blood Bound Books). 

And the following short stories: The House of Oak (available at Darkfusemagazine.com with a free subscription), Pigs in Blankets (forthcoming in the '12 Days' anthology, all proceeds to Cystic Fibrosis UK).

They are all stories of the Green Man, the White Hart, and all the Lords and Ladies of Old England...and of an old lady named Ma Mulrone...

Love you, and thanks for reading. 

x

Saturday, 3 September 2016

My Summer Reading List

Thought I'd share some of the books I read this summer. I don't read as much as other people think I should, but I read just enough for me. My favourite read of the bunch is at the end of this little run-down. Here are the ones I've anything (possibly) worth saying about:

Neal Asher's Shadow of the Scorpion...I wanted to like it. In principle, sci fi action, giant laser shooting scorpion on the cover...but it lost me with plasticrete. Stupid thing to lose a reader over, and more me than Neal's book, probably. It's like gum, or flies, or noisy exhausts...shunting words together just gets on my tits. That isn't exactly fair to Asher...otherwise, in another reader's hand, no doubt a perfectly enjoyable read. Of the action sci-fi I've read, I think Andy Remic is more my speed, and I like Stephen North's vibe very much, too. Also, I'm sure Asher and Mr. Child (below) could give a shit what I think...

Lee Child's latest, as the last few, felt irrelevant. I generally enjoy Child's Reacher stories, but like so many 'big' books, I think it's become a victim of its own success. Three or fifteen chapters about figuring out a phone number, or a place, is taking the piss. Perhaps it's the publishers, rather than Child - I suspect he could tell a cracking tale in half as many words, and if he did, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.

Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. While not especially a devotee of the Warhammer universe, I always enjoy Dan Abnett. Horus Rising, though it felt restricted by the Black Library's sometime heavy hand, was very enjoyable.

My first Sven Hassel proved a good, easy to digest breath of air. Bloody Death! Or something, I think it was called. I don't think the title really mattered...

Assassin’s Creed something-something by Oliver Bowden - I always try to read an adaptation, or a book set in a shared universe, on holiday. I read this out of curiosity. Bowden was fine. Fifteen pages of stabbing got a bit boring. I didn't finish it.

Shaw’s Rotten Dead Fucks - always enjoy a bit of Shaw, and more and more these days I'm finding myself drawn to the Indie side of publishing than the biggies - just more inventive, fresher, and less restrictive. Obviously, that doesn't always stand true; Indie or Trad - they're both as good, and both as bad, as each other.

Ken Eulo's Brownstone - if King, McCammon and their contemporaries were the pickles of the eighties horror boom, this was the pickle juice. I didn't finish it – not because it was awful, but because there was no need to.

Alison Littlewood's 'Cold Season' - enjoyable small village, claustrophobic, horror.

Also read/also rans:

Butcher's Furies of Calderon...great if you've got three hundred hours for the series. One was enough to sate my curiosity, as Gardens of the Moon did for Steven Erikson. A slower, confused start with Erikson, but both very worthy for fans of books large enough to injure hornets.

An older title by George C. Chesbro, The Beasts of Valhalla, concerning a circus trained acrobat/karate master/professor of criminology and dwarf named Mongo...well, can't beat that.

Re-read Herbert's Sepulchre...much the same as I remembered it, and very much a reflection of the era. Like Laymon, very readable but never quite for me.

Re-read Abercrombie's 'Best Served Cold' - I like him more than most these days, and one of the few I actively seek out.

Mieville's Iron Council...hmm...good. lyrical, pretty, like Banks...but lacking warmth. I've read some of Keith Deininger's (like Marrow's Pit) which I've enjoyed more.

Haldeman's Peace and War - I read the first. I won't read more because I just haven't got the time of life left to read every book and I'm not going to stress about it. Apparently Peter F. Hamilton liked it. I prefer Hamilton, and Reynolds.

King's Revival? Reliable, solid storytelling, King's style just as personal and warm as ever. Didn't blow my sock off, but I don't honestly think I've fallen for a King book for over a decade. I enjoyed 11.22.63 very much, but the last King which really did it for me was Duma Key. Unpopular with other King fans, maybe, but up my street. But then one of my favourite King stories was Tommyknockers. It was unwieldy, sure, but damn it was full of heart. I'll take heart over perfection every time.

Work Reads:

Ryan C. Thomas' third Roger Huntington book. He can share the blurb when it's out, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I read Edward Lorn's latest tale of Bay's End - I'm coming to look forward to these stories, which remind me of King's Castle Rock/Maine phase, and invoke the same kind of glee. He can share his blurb, too - great stuff.

My Favourite:

Shadowland, Peter Straub - from the delightful introduction to the edition I have by the man himself, painting a picture of a bygone era when stories were written on typewriters in wood-panelled rooms, to the story itself - a story about stories, but entirely magical - language, but more than that - this is a book written when narrative structure was exciting, creative. I find narrative structure of many books these days...staid. Perhaps people could be more inventive then. I don't know. Perhaps Big Publishing stifles some of that creativity...I don't know. But while so many stories are two up, two down, this book was motherfucking architecture. Wonderful.


That's it. Love you!