If you now subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll instantly receive a free ebook of my short story collection, Quintessence of Dust. It’s a painless process, and as mentioned in my previous post, I won’t be spamming every hour of the day. So to get the free Kindle book, simply click on this link – I want to subscribe and get my free book – Then, just enter your email and submit. You’ll be directed to a page where the download will commence. It’s that easy!
Ah, yes, but I hear you asking; “Is Quintessence of Dust really worth me sharing my email?”
Here’s the blurb and you make up your own mind:
Quintessence of Dust delivers a world where the Minotaur exists in modern society, drinks in bars and is scared of the dark. Where to lose memories and extract all the pain you’ve brought on others is easily achieved by pulling twine from your rectum. It is a world where the Devil is an old man digging a hole to Hell in his garden, and romance is nurtured by spearing an umbrella through the chest of a winged demon. Here, there are talking camels, and should you ever want to crawl back into the womb and begin a fresh, birth can be reversed. Wishes can be granted, ugly can be erased, and those without ardor or enthusiasm can be nymphomaniacs by pinning a photograph upon a wall. In this world the girth of a neck can bring on suicide, sleep can summon death and people can live within the inner ear canal of others. The streets are always crimson. People are broken. Lust is a commodity measured out in chocolate, and love is lost more than it is conquered.
In this world, the dust bites and never settles.
Here’s the link to Goodreads too, which will give you a fair idea of what other people thought of it. Even if Quintessence of Dust doesn’t float your boat, by subscribing you’ll receive information about my books, promotions and news before anyone else.
Last year I did something I thought I’d never do; self publish a book. And I did it because I am scared of the publishing industry. That’s not an admission of fear toward rejection. Rejection is expected in the writing world. To think otherwise is delusional. No, this is more a fear of where publishing is going, and, what it takes to be a writer.
I don’t have a degree in marketing, nor did I attend university and receive a PhD in English literature. I am, at my core, a storyteller. Over the years I’ve told stories through various mediums; cartoons, songs, movies and writing. While appreciating other genres and styles within literature, I have a weakness for literary authors such as Michael McDowell and Michael Chabon, and vintage horror paperbacks. I get excited by a perfectly worded sentence, simile or metaphor. I guess what I’m saying is, I like to think I know what makes a good book, and more importantly, which authors will be remembered. Though I’m no scholar in this field, I have been around the indie writing world for some eighteen years. In that time my opinion of the publishing world has swung as consistently as a pendulum; ranging from excitement to dejection, from great expectation to despondency. And mostly what spawns these polar moods is not the writing itself, but the world that surrounds the writing.
I’ll be honest here; I don’t know how the fuck social media works. I see indie writers who have upwards of a thousand followers on Twitter and they post up a photo of their new haircut and get over a hundred likes, whereas I spend thirty minutes composing something I think worthy of reading and get two (pity) likes. I can spend hours in Photoshop making up cool images to help promote my books, throw them out on twitter and see them sink like Luca Brasi. I study other writers who have a handle on it, looking at what they’re doing and what they’re saying. I plagiarise their style and syntax in the hope to reap some engagement. Nothing. Recently I posted up something very personal on Twitter that was very hard to articulate because it was from the heart, and only one person replied and another liked it. I have around 350 followers (don’t laugh), and yet of those several hundred, perhaps 20 to 30 have not muted me, something I can only conclude from my lack of engagement. For that reason, I won’t be posting anything else on my personal Twitter account for the foreseeable future because I see no point.
Maybe it’s my age showing, but there is an insincerity to social media that irks me. I never mute a person because I think that’s a spineless act. If you’re not interested in what a person says, then following them becomes an exercise in boosting your digits only, which seems (and this is where my guileless comes to the fore) wrong and dishonest. I always try to help other people out too by liking their posts or retweeting something of note. Maybe I’m wrong, but I sense the number of followers a writer has is fast becoming more important than the pages they write. To put it another way, they are doing it right, whereas I am a dinosaur barely getting by on the scraps they leave in their wake. This is worrying if, like me, you’re no good at marketing, for a writer’s career is no longer about the books they write or the stories they tell: the true commodity is the writer themselves. And if I’m being brutally honest too, maybe it’s always been that way. Fuck, Hemmingway regular whored himself out, advertising products such as Ballantine Ale or Pan Airlines, and a complete nobody can go on a reality show and come out of it with a six book deal, not because they can write, because they are influencers and bleach their teeth.
So what is the future of publishing? Has it truly changed in the past twenty years or so? I believe, with the introduction of KDP (Amazon’s self publishing arm) there are more writers out there hustling (Jesus, I hate that word) and bustling their way onto our shelves. I include myself in that. But Twitter is fast becoming a battery farm where it’s hard to differentiate one cluck from the other, and this, combine with nepotism, makes most indie writers starting out as visible as a contact lens in a barrel of jelly fish.
I am still hopeful that in the end it’ll be the stories that will raise an author’s profile, not tweets featuring a cat dressed up as Dr Spock. It may well be that Twitter ends up being a dustbowl populated with writers promoting their work only to other writers because all the readers have migrated due to the noise. All I know is, if you suffer with any mental health issues, then the current climate isn’t the best. What I keep reminding myself, and something worthy of noting, is they’ll always being nepotism, cliques and circle jerks. They’ll also be authors who get a lot of attention but are destined to end up thrift shop fodder. But if you entered this shit-pot crazy world because you loved writing, remember that. Create the best book you can. Be proud of it, so much so that if an asteroid was to hit the planet, destroying all of mankind, the last book you read would be yours. And if you can do that, and still keep sane, then you’ll be one of those that are remembered.
My wife reads a lot of thriller books. And I mean a lot. On our bookshelf, next to the likes of Stephen King, William Peter Blatty, Max Brooks and Jonathan Janz, are such authors as David Baldacci, Clive Cussler, and Chris Carter to name a few. I never cared for those authors, and as I watched my wife consume these novels on a daily basis, I grew agitated inside; why wasn’t she reading Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism, or Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin? Why, when there’s a wealth of dark, goose-skinning tales within reach, did she grab Steve Cavanagh instead of Michael McDowell? To rub salt in my already festering lesion of frustration, my wife is often seen choosing a book with a moody cover (usually a man silhouetted against a bleak woodland setting, or silhouetted man against a bleak roadside, normally close to a woodland), flicking through the first few pages, and then announcing, “I think I’ve read this.” I don’t know about you, but generally speaking, the books I read fall into two categories; the first being those that crawl under your skin and never leave, or those that I want to burn in a ceremony akin to that seen in the Wicker Man. Either way, I remember them. What I don’t do is re-read an unmemorable book.
So what is it with the thriller genre? Is it too formulaic? Have all the good ideas been done to death (no pun intended) so everything is a copy of a copy of a copy? That would certainly answer why readers get confused. Or is it that the authors themselves are falling into over stretched tropes and bland prose making it had to differentiate between one famous hack over the other? I don’t think I’ll ever get to the real reason, and to be honest, I’m not truly bothered. What bothers me are books that don’t resonate with the reader. And this is why an author whose wheelhouse is horror ended up writing a thriller – if it wasn’t obvious enough, that author is me.
Let me get one thing off my chest; I don’t like thrillers. Not that airport fiction, mass market variety. And that’s not me being ignorant. I have read a few, but I find the writing unappealing and the characters unbelievable. But that’s the appeal, isn’t it? No big words. Short sentences. Fast plot. It’s about consumption and consistency. Readers of Lee Childs don’t want to be reaching for the dictionary, nor be wooed by a scorching hot simile or metaphor. They want action and treachery. They want to finish the damn book in two sittings while drinking Mojitos at the pool side while holidaying in Crete. They want to turn that final page with their heart content and thirst for a good old bust up slaked. They certainly don’t want to endure the slow burn or dense prose found in such classics as The Exorcist. And I get that. You’re writing for a demographic. Simple is as simple does. But when every book is a facsimile of the last, when you’re blind to what words you’ve read because the narrative is overcooked and insipid, can you find among the millions an actual thriller that delivers?
That became my main goal; to write something that is different. Maybe it helped not reading too many thrillers in advance of the undertaking, or perhaps it’s the inability to unshackle from my horror roots that made this journey different, but when I wrote Bad People (the first book in the Tom Nolan series), and then the follow up, Labyrinth of the Dolls, I had no template to work from, no alchemy was performed or crime author consulted. I just wrote a story that, if forced to choose from the thriller section in the local Waterstones, would linger, maybe even crawl under my skin and live there among so many other great titles. But did I succeed?
Reviews since Bad People came have been very positive (it’s true, honestly. Go look them up on Goodreads), with many claiming it should be a bestseller, that the story was unexpected, and more importantly, it delivered where so many other thrillers did not. I’m not claiming Bad People is a modern masterpiece, or that it’ll change the way crime/thrillers should be written. What I am claiming is this; writing in a genre you hate can sometimes yield a product beyond your expectation.
Neil Gaiman is an excellent example of this. Know for dark fantasy, he’s also graphic novels, children stories and poems. Even Anne Rice has dipped into the erotic genre with her Sleeping Beauty quartet.
So, do you know of any other authors who write outside their genre and created something special? Are you a writer considering this? Let me know. And, if you think I’m wrong, and there’s no way Bad People or Labyrinth of the Dolls can be any better than Lee Childs or Peter James, go read one of them and tear me a new one.
I won’t mind because at the end of the day, good or bad, you’ll remember those books.
Comparisons to Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and True Detectives have all been made. It’s seen praise and left readers wondering why it’s not on a bestseller list. But truly, BAD PEOPLE, the first book in the Tom Nolan series, was nothing more than an experiment. I don’t enjoy the thriller genre. I don’t read thrillers. So why did I write one? To see if I could. Bad People came out a year ago almost to the day (the 17th is its official birthday) and since then I’ve seen the book become more popular than I ever expected. This is both flattering and a concern. The concern is that now people want more, and when you truly had no long term plan set out, you begin to worry. Fortunately, the kind words tendered to me over these past twelve months provided enough confidence to push me forward into writing a sequel, LABYRINTH OF THE DOLLS, which was released last September. And, there’s enough momentum left that I’ve began a third book.
To celebrate the one year anniversary, Bad People will be free on Kindle for a limited time. So if you’ve not read it yet, and want to see what all the fuss is about, or perhaps wish to make comparisons to the works of Karen Slaughter and Lee Childs, then please pick up a copy before it goes full price again.
It may not be your cup of tea. It may be too dark, too gruesome, but whatever your verdict, know I’m grateful for the time you give the book, time that is never taken for granted by this humble writer.
Thank you so much to all those that read any of the Tom Nolan series in 2020, and for considering them worthy of mention. Fingers crossed, 2021 should see the third in the instalment.
Here’s a few photo grabs taken from Instagram too. I would highly recommend following those listed below. Bloggers are the scaffold holding up many an author’s career, so I can tender enough love and respect for all involved.
Yes, you’ve read it right. A self published book by a relatively unknown author has made it alongside Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, Alma Katsu and Stephen Graham Jones in The Lineup’s best horror novels of 2020.
“To say Wallwork’s novel is ominous is an understatement. Children have been going missing, completely disappearing without a single trace and no leads. The novel focuses on the different perspectives surrounding the disappearances. There’s a writer looking for the next big story to bolster his career, a detective determined to crack the case, and a secret cult that delves into the world of ritualistic murder. Wallwork has crafted a surprising and masterfully-written investigative thriller with flecks of horror.”
Bad People came out in January of this year, followed by the sequel, LABYRINTH OF THE DOLLS, in September. I’m currently writing the third in the series with a view to its release early 2021. So, if you like your thrillers dark and with elements of horror, then go check out the Tom Nolan series on Amazon. And please, if you’re a fan of horror, check out The Lineup’s other recommendations too, especially Max Booth III’s We Need to Do Something because there’s a movie adaptation coming out next year.
I gained a year overnight. I don’t feel any older. It’s not like I woke up and the lines around my eyes were more prominent. It’s not like my knees or back aches any less than they did yesterday. But I am, as my birth certificate contests, 48 years young.
To mark the occasion today sees the release of HEART OF GLASS, a novel about two serial killers who fall in love. I’ve also put up LABYRINTH OF THE DOLLS, the second book in the Tom Nolan detective series, FREE on Kindle for a very limited time period. So this year I’m not asking for gifts, birthday cards or even a surprise party, which would be irresponsible due to the current lockdown. I ask instead that you spend the same amount of money on a birthday card buying either Heart of Glass, or maybe BAD PEOPLE, the first in the Tom Nolan series. Then download for FREE Labyrinth of the Dolls. If you do either of these things know you’ll be supporting independent publishing and giving me the confidence to continue doing what I love. Another birthday favour: if you could drop a mention on your timelines, send out a tweet, or share the news about Heart of Glass and Labyrinth of the Dolls, I’d be indebted. You will never fathom the power of word of mouth. The best birthday gift this year would be to see my books mentioned on any social media platform.
Thank you for sharing, buying, downloading, and above all, for being wonderful people. Craig.
It’s that time of the year again where people across the world want the willies put up them. No, I’m not talking about National Sex Day (which is apparently a thing and is on June 9th, in case you wish to prepare now). Yes, it’s Halloween, that very special spooky part of the year where you can wake up in the morning with ectoplasm on your face and know a visit to the STD clinic isn’t needed. To celebrate, I’m throwing up my horror movie recommendations, many I’m sure you’ve seen, and some you may wish to seek out under the safety of your blanket. So without further ado…
The Exorcist, 1973. Dir. William Friedkin.
Putting aside the terrible infliction that he sounds like Donald Trump, director Friedkin’s breakout horror adaptation of the greatest (yes, I’m saying it loud and proud) horror book of all time by William Peter Blatty, still stands the test of time. You know the story; pre-teen Regan, the most unpopular girl in all of Georgetown judging by the dearth of friends, is so bored that the only joy she gets is going into the basement to conjure up demons by means of a Ouija board. One said demon by the name of Pazuzu, resident paedophile of the underworld who sports a rock-hard erection 24/7, decides angelic looking Regan is just his cup’o’tea. A quick change of name to Mr Howdy, because apparently demons think kids love a cowboy (clearly they’ve not watched Jack Palance in City Slickers), and young guileless Regan is literally consumed by the perv. What follows is two hours of Regan’s mother, Chris, watching her daughter turn into a typical teenager, one who pisses themselves in public, leaves their room a shit-tip, masturbates excessively, and following a KFC binge, blows chunks on some hapless bystander. Highly recommended for any parent wanting an instructional manual on how to get their teenage child to clean up their room and smile again.
Dawn of the Dead, 1978. Dir. George A Romero.
This *romzom about shopping was one of my favourites as a child. Having to assist my mother every Saturday in choosing a selection of processed ready meals at the local Tescos, and seeing firsthand the world-weariness of consumerism there, guaranteed me instant compassion to the many disenchanted souls shuffling around Monroeville Mall in Romero’s classic follow up to Night of The Living Dead. The story is simple enough; it’s all gone tits up and zombies have started to take it upon themselves to get some decent clothes and beauty products, because apparently death does nothing for the complexion or the wardrobe. Everything is fine until some gun-toting freeloaders decide they want in on the action and take over the mall. Our poor zombie friends, many of whom have varying disabilities and poor eye hand coordination, are rendered powerless and end up getting massacred, not because they’re a threat to humans, but because they’re in breach of taking more than their fair share of Mum Roll On deodorant and mouthwash. What follows is an uprising where said zombies throw caution to the wind and attempt a coup d’état. This is an uplifting story about how the infringement of a person’s civil rights unites a group of citizens to stand up and be counted, to fight for what they believe in, and, if the moment presents itself, swap out that Subway foot-long for an actual foot.
*If zomcom hasn’t been coined yet, I’m claiming it as my own Richard Curtis.
Severance, 2006. Dir. Christopher Smith.
Anyone who’s had a corporate job will know which three words have the ability to make your arse cheeks try to clamber back through the hole they flank. Team Build Day. Under the guise of bonding, team building is merely an exercise in pushing the team further apart by infusing animosity, bitterness, and above all else, a need to punch the cocky fucker who thinks they’re Bear Grylls. Director Chris Smith takes this premise and, if the horror isn’t already evident enough, injects Eastern European psychotic mercenaries into the mix. What you end up with is a group of suits going into the Hungarian woods to bond and bone and end up bloody and boneless. Like Eden Lake, this movie sits in reality, and would resonate more save for one thing; Danny Dyer. Thankfully, his cocky barrow-boy charm allows us to suspend some disbelief, because, let’s face it, which cutting edge company is going to hire someone who sounds like they should be selling pig’s dicks on a market stall?
Dead and Buried, 1981. Dir. Gary Sherman.
What begins as a homage to some cheesy television movie where Vaseline is rubbed on the camera lens to give soft focus, and music akin to that better suited to a show like Dallas where Bobby Ewing engages in a bit of tongue tennis, quickly turns into a brutal horror movie where people end up having their eyes punctured by syringe needles, being burnt alive, pumped full of acid (and not the good kind either that makes you want to join a commune), and various other nasty and brutal ends. Dead and Buried is how I imagine a Twilight Zone episode playing out if it had been written by Stephen King. It’s probably the only time you’ll also see a movie where Grampa Bucket embalms the dead, and Freddy Kruger drinking coffee in a cafe. So yes, don’t be put off by that opening sequence. It gets dark very soon after, and continues to do so until its climax.
Slither, 2006. Dir. James Gunn.
Known more for selling out to *Marvel, Gunn was once a decent director able to turn his hand to most genres. His foray into the horror genre started and ended with Slither, a story about aliens that come down in the guise of spleens to terrorise and possess the inhabitants of a small town somewhere in America. Forgive my ignorance of geography, but I’m assuming by the way the men guzzle beer in seedy bars and chase after married women, somewhere in the Midwest? Part Body Snatchers, part Zombie Flesh Eaters, this horror yarn features strong messages of infidelity and divorce and owes more than a nod to movies like The Fly, From Beyond, The Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street, Brief Encounter and Gone Girl. Also known for the classic line: “Don’t let them in your mouth” a phrase that should be the litany of every sex education classes the world over.
*For all the Marvel fans, yes, that comment was made with tongue in cheek, and though I’m sure you were ready to rip me a new one while wearing your Iron Man PJs, know that I actually liked the Guardians of the Galaxy series. Sure, it’s no Deadpool, but then, it’s hard to get that mix of cool, funny and a great soundtrack.
Deep Red (Profondo Rosso), 1975 and Tenebrae, 1982. Dir. Dario Argento.
I’m throwing these in together because a) they’re both by the same director, and b) I’m sure you’ve all lost the will to live by now. If your only exposure to Italian cinema is poorly over-dubbed porn from the mid-80s (whose isn’t?) then you’re in for a surprise. Argento is a master of blending two of my favourite genres; thriller and horror. Both Deep Red and Tenebrae are more like two episodes of Columbo where we see Peter Falk investigate some seriously fucked up shit involving scary-arse dolls (Deep Red) and cut throat razors (Tenebrae). In truth, our bumbling but lovable Columbo would be driven bat-shit crazy and his mack sodden at the hem by the rivers of blood he would have to wade through in these movies. Recommended for all those who like a good who-dun-it with the same feel of a great porno.
Okay, that’s it for now. Whatever you do over Halloween, remember that, like rats, you’re never too far from a psycho. So lock your door. Close the curtains. Watch something scary. And above all else, never allow them in your mouth. But before I go, I can’t end this blog without giving praise to just a few other movies that I’ve loved watching growing up, and still continue to love to this day:
I’m a fickle beast. Having seen the proof copies of Heart of Glass, I decided that the electronic version I created didn’t transfer well to print. Hey, that’s why we have proofs, right? Anyhoo, I’ve been busy as a bee putting together a different design based on the same image. Here’s the result…
Here’s the full sleeve.
Sometimes this happens. Changes to book covers are made on a near hourly basis. Thankfully I had a good lead in time of a month before the release (holy crap, it’s one month until the release!). I hope you like the new design. It’s slicker with a kind of 1950s pulp vibe to it. Don’t forget too that a signed proof copy with the original image is still up for grabs, as is one of ten Kindle versions, if you subscribe to my newsletter. Winners will be announced late October. Good luck.
On November 13th 2020 (which, incidentally, coincides with my birthday, should anyone wish to send presents or congratulations – insert winking emoji here), I have a new book coming out called, Heart of Glass. Here’s the blurb:
Twenty-nine-year-old Jack Glass is cursed. He knows that he will die before he reaches the age of thirty due to a rare genetic heart condition. His birthday is less than two weeks away.
If his life couldn’t get any stranger, his girlfriend has involved him in a mortality experiment that involves killing every manic depressive and lonely soul in his town.
As each day passes, and Jack draws closer to his own end, he begins to question his girlfriend’s motives, and how their lives have become so fortuitously interlinked. But has the weight of all their victims become too much? Is the line between life and death interchangeable? Can one suffer a life worse than death?
Seeking these answers, Jack is forced to accept that however fragile his heart is, the fate of glass is to break
The ebook is now available for preorder by clicking here for the US. Or here for the UK. Unfortunately, Amazon don’t allow preorders on paperbacks yet. Believe me, as a purist, it infuriates me that a multi-billion dollar company cannot arrange for this to happen. I have made a complaint, but hey, I’m a grain of sand tumbling in the wind. I’ll release further updates on my social media platforms, as well as my blog, when the paperback goes live, so please, if you’re not already doing so, follow me on Twitter, Instagram or my author Facebook page.
Finally, I’m giving away ten Kindle copies of the book, and one paperback proof. All you need to do is subscribe to my newsletter to qualify. I’ll pick the winners at random and make an announce early November via the newsletter.
Just a quick one today (Hoorah! I hear you scream). Since the release of Labyrinth of the Dolls on Tuesday, a lot of people have been asking about a paperback version. I assumed, rather naively, that Amazon would release the paperback on, or either side of, the 15th. What I didn’t take in account was COVID and the enthusiastic quality assurance measures of the KDP team. These two hurdles combined have put a frustratingly long delay on the release of said paperback. However, I’m here to say it’s finally available. Yes, my palm is exposed toward the laptop screen waiting for a virtual high five. Ready? One…two…three… *palms laptop screen*. Thanks! So for the purists out there champing at the bit to hold something tangible in their hands, you can now crack the spine of a jolly good thriller/crime/horror book about a serial killer who dresses their victims as dolls. Here’s the links: