As far back as I remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.
Sorry, not gangster. Movie director. My love of film crept in at a very early age when my parents took me to the local cinema to watch Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger in 1977. To see the fight between the Trog and the sabre-tooth tiger, and the grand vision of the bronzed Minaton, was spellbinding to my five-year-old self. That same year, I watched Star Wars and became obsessed, like most of my friends, in collecting the Kenner action figures. For a single child raised in a rough area of Manchester, movies became a way of escaping the violence, fear, bullies, and caustic environment of my home life. They were the dependable friends helping lift my spirits, making me laugh, or sometimes permitting me to cry without thinking too badly of myself. They also taught me how to use my imagination, which, many years later, I would lean on when writing my novels.
As my bones grew and hair turned darker, my taste in movies changed. Forever the hopeless romantic wishing for a movie romance where the geek ends up with the pretty girl, John Hughes became my go to director in the 1980s, as well as all the other pastiche teen romcoms around at the same time. There was also a spike in ghost-related movies in the early 90s like, Always, Truly Madly Deeply, and of course, Ghost, that piqued my interest. But the one genre I would always return to was horror.
I’ve spoken before about how my father introduced me to this genre at a very early age. One Sunday when eleven years old, having contracted a severe case of earache, we watched a pirate copy of Evil Dead to help ease the pain. I celebrated my tenth birthday by watching Dawn of the Dead. Even as a child, I owned toy figures of Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula that I kept beside my bed. I never feared horror movies as much as real life as a child. There was so much that scared me outside my door: gangs, cars, wild dogs, sickness. I felt too vulnerable and too scared to fight any of them. But horror allowed me to explore the darker side of life in safety without experiencing pain, injury, or even death. This wasn’t something I could depend on happening in the real world. This is maybe the same reason Contagion saw a surge in interest during the pandemic. Or why books like Paul Tremblay’s Survivor Song did not see a drop in sales when we were all isolated. Horror movies pull us into places where we don’t want to go, but they also allow us the experience of surviving those places unharmed. I believe I always return to horror because of this reason. That, and they’re sometimes damn fun too.
This love of horror pushed me recently to start a podcast. It was something I wanted to do for a long time but felt it would leave me exposed. When you write a book, it’s easy to hide your true self behind the words. You can be clever, funny and articulate. Speaking in front of a microphone is like that moment Dorothy pulls back the curtain and exposes Oz peddling frantically on his bicycle. But I knew we must come outside our comfort zone to grow. Sometimes we must reveal who we really are, good or bad, so we can be accepted. So, the podcast idea became a test. I wanted to see if I was brave enough to sound half as clever, funny or articulate as I do in my books. I wanted to see if I was prepared to grow and be accepted.
Session 10 is a weekly podcast where myself and co-host Boff Island talk about horror movies, life, and our past. The format is simple enough. We concentrate on one decade per season, beginning with the 1970s. Each episode looks at a horror movie from each year within that decade. Boff and I walk through those movies, many of which we have never seen, and hopefully you haven’t either, desiccating, ruminating, and generally trying to avoid sounding like Bevis and Butthead. Currently, it’s available on Podbean, but will be also accessible on most podcast streaming platforms including Apple, Spotify and Pandora. As a cinephile, and horror fan, it’s been an incredible journey watching these movies with a more critical eye. The banter between Boff and I have left me in tears, and I can honestly say that I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. I hope you jump into the season one when you have time. In doing so you’ll discover new horror movies, and maybe see a different side to me. We’ve recorded the first season, but there are currently two episodes available. Each one drops every Friday. I’d probably encourage you all to jump into episode 2 first as I think we start find our rhythm more in that one.
We’ve currently compiling suggestions for horror movies from the 1980s too, so if you have any suggestions, or you just want a shout out on the podcast, drop us an email at email@example.com
Thanks for listening, and in the words of Boff Island, stay scared.