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.
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:
You know who said that? Christopher Walken. Profound stuff, right? Well, let’s hold off plans just yet for a twenty-foot bronze statue in his name, because he also went on to say “One day you’re saving the rainforest, the next you’re chugging cock.” Hardly Aristotle. Nonetheless, Walken had a point: Life is completely unpredictable. Yesterday proved that.
In January of this year I released a crime/thriller/horror book called, Bad People. Some of you may remember. Those that don’t, where the hell have you been for the past nine months? It’s birth was troubled. The first run had a number of typos that slowed the readers down, and, rightly, reviews reflected the frustrations of many. I amended this with the help of some very selfless souls scattered around the globe, and who to this day are probably still waiting anxiously for the cheque to drop in the mail. Soon, things began to pick up. Three stars became four. Four stars became five. Praise was poured freely and I, like any ego-driven writer, lapped it up like a feral cat licking at the nipple of a vagrant. Once I’d had my fill (Not of a vagrant’s nipple – note to self: good name for an autobiography), and because I’m not the type to just sit at the laptop hitting refresh every three seconds to see how many sales I have (I’m lying – already I’ve stopped writing this blog at least ten times to check my KDP dashboard. For those ignorant to self-publishing, the KDP dashboard is the place where you find out if you’ve earned enough money to quit your job, or curse the Dickens out of every Amazon customer including your own mother for not buying your book. By in large, it’s the latter), I set about writing a sequel, or more accurately, part two of the Tom Nolan series. This became known as Labyrinth of the Dolls. And that book came out yesterday.
Try to picture it: Tuesday morning rolls around and I’ve spent most of it knocking back Imodium tablets like they’re Tic Tacs, and pacing nervously around rooms that I can’t remember entering. I’ll apologise now to the lovely Asian family who had every right to call the police for me entering their home unannounced and consuming half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol from their refrigerator. When I finally succumbed to nervous exhaustion some time around midday and checked my phone for notifications to see if my cream had soured (any double entendre there happened by accident), I was surprised, nay, shocked, to find quite the opposite. Over the course of the day very favourable reviews has been popping up on Instagram and Twitter, all of which never dipped below four stars. The knot in my stomach that felt akin in size to that tied by Gordian and cleaved by Alexander the Great finally began to unravel. My book had been accepted and was liked. To say I didn’t expect some good reviews would be a lie. But like Walken said, life is unpredictable and until I saw for my own eyes the kind and generous words, as well as the sheer effort some reviewers put into the photographs to accompany the reviews, I just never knew what to expect. I’m going to include a few below because they are the heroes in this silly blog, and I am forever indebted to each and everyone person.
I was also interviewed at TBM: Horror Experts where you can read me go on about horror books, movies and why pineapple on pizza will end in me losing several pints of blood.
If you’re going blind reading reviews, why not sit back and listen to Booked. Podcast, who reviewed Labyrinth of the Dolls for this week’s show.
Also, to mark the occasion of Labyrinth of the Doll’s birth, I arranged for Bad People to be made available for free for a limited time. Therefore, if you haven’t purchased either book yet, then I suggest going over to Amazon right now. You’ll also notice that at the time of writing this, the paperback version for Labyrinth of the Dolls is still unavailable. Don’t worry, it will be up either today (September 16th) or tomorrow priced at £6.99 or $8.99 depending on what side of the pond you sit. This self-sacrificing act of giving away Bad People resulted in the book hitting (at last look) number 30 in the Crime and Thriller chart, and 700 in the overall best seller list. To say I am the cat that got the cream is an understatement, but it also nicely circles back to the aforesaid vagrant nipples. So please, all joking aside, thank you. Your support and kindness has been the scaffold around my career as a writer, and it’s because of you I will continue to write more in the Tom Nolan series.
If you wish to buy Labyrinth of the Dolls, or Bad People, then allow me to extend my gratitude once more, and please, after reading either book, drop a little review or star rating when you have the time. Reviews really make a difference and help inform others of what is wheat, and what is chaff.
“What an excellent day for an exorcism.” - The Demon from The Exorcist.
Okay, maybe I’m not possessed in the Regan-head-spinning-levitating-off-the-bed-throwing-up-pea-soup type of possession, but there’s something definitely inside me. I haven’t consulted with the clergy yet (a letter has been drafted to the Vatican, but the post office is a good twenty minute drive away and the woman who works there gives me the creeps). Instead, to understand fully whether this foreboding demonic presence is something nefarious, or as innocent as indigestion, I’ve sought advice from those two grammar hounds Merriam and Webster. They state on their website that possession is the domination by something. This “something” could be passion, an idea, or worse case scenario, an evil spirit. So which is it, I hear you ask? Or was that the voice of the demon spirit? Moving on…
Unlike Pazuzu, the forever engorged poster boy for Viagra featured in the 1972 movie, The Exorcist, my demon is more in the guise of doubt. I prefer to remain gender natural when talking about demons or deities, but my demon is definitely a cock, so for that reason I will be referring to it as he/him or simply the bastard. From what I can gather since he took rule over me, said bastard’s particular trait is not to force me into masturbating with a cross (or for that matter, masturbate whilst cross), nor to tell those of the cloth that their mothers have a proclivity for sucking appendages of all shapes and sizes in that oppressive, muggy refuge of the damned and iniquitous (no, I’m not referring to Cancun). Instead, my demon spends most of its time whispering in my ear that I’m foolish for thinking I am anything but a mediocre writer. Actually, I would be lucky if they considered me mediocre. Most of the time they refer to me as sub-standard, inadequate, second-rate, and, this one really hurts, as ineffective as a speechwriter for Trump. Now, unlike Regan, there’s no priest standing under a lamp outside my house waiting to enter and purge this demon with a sprinkle of holy water and a hail Mary (say it with me: Hail Mary!). No, I’m left to fend off this earworm by watching episodes of Schitt’s Creek back to back, and as much as I adore the subtle acting of Eugene Levy’s eyebrows as much as the next caterpillar, I am struggling to anchor to the unfortunate events of the Rose family because I keep drifting back to that bastard demon of doubt. Something has to change, and if William Peter Blatty has taught me anything, it’s that having a little faith goes a long way, and that stairs are particularly fatal if you’re not a drunk or a baby.
What kind of faith am I talking about here? Well, not that spouted by theologians and evangelists the world over. I’m thinking more the faith decreed by that Greek stubble-chinned pop God that is Michael of the George. Yes, I gotta have faith. I need to be driven forward, not held back by doubt. What I need is some time off from that emotion. Hell, I need some time to pick my heart up off the floor. So I’m here to ask for help. Doubt has had tenure over my mind for far too long and the only way to rid it from having social gatherings of more than six in my head is for you to do a couple of simple things…
On September 15th my new book, Labyrinth of the Dolls, drops on Amazon (yes, I used the verb drop like all the cool kids, and believe me, I felt more uncomfortable writing it than you did reading it). You can do one or two things to maximise my exorcism: the first is to buy the book. I know, another author trying desperately to get readers to hand over cash like some panhandler in the street. I make no apologies. That’s our thing. Too, that comparison isn’t too far from the truth. Like panhandlers, authors often have a strange smell, write with typos, and extend our hand in the hope someone passing by may be kind enough to tender a coin or two. Think I’m overstretching the analogy? Look at Alan Moore for Christ sake! Second, if you don’t want to buy the book then help spread the word. Social media, for all its evils, is a great platform to help promote indie writers. Sure, it’s also a platform for Trump to start World War III, and Taylor Swift to tell us what salad she’s eating today, both of which unnerve me equally. But you can make a difference by throwing out a link to the book (see below). Better yet, review the book! And by jolly, reviews are the holy water in this poorly constructed metaphor. Oh yes, to see that people are reading your book and actually have nice things to say (I get it’s offset sometimes by the bad things, but I have a long and very extensive shit list that I’m adding names to daily that helps quell any frustrations) is like sipping at ambrosia. It cures. It heals. It makes writers want to write. That, I believe ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is the only way to stamp out that bastard demon called doubt that inhabits my head and soul. So, to paraphrase the immortal words of that Greek God once more: Go put the boom-boom into my heart. But please, just don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo.
So it’s two weeks until the official release of Labyrinth of the Dolls, the sequel to Bad People. Already it’s getting some great reviews from advance reader copies on Goodreads saying things like it’s smart, scary, and fiction with flair. So to celebrate the release I’m giving away a rare paperback proof of the book, signed. Currently there are only three of these in existence so getting your hands on a copy might be a good investment. At the very least you can sell it on Ebay and make a 100% profit from the zero investment. 😉 I’ll also add a few annotations to make it more unique.
The way this is going to work is very simple: all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter. That’s it. At random I’ll choose an email from the list and contact the subscriber by September 15th.
Those already subscribed will automatically qualify.
As a bonus, if you subscribe to my newsletter you also get a free a Kindle version of my short story collection, Quintessence of Dust.
In this age where most people with a little knowledge can put together videos that seem halfway decent with just a decent app and a few clicks, and that nearly everyone of these same people are attention-seeking-egomanics, you’ll find in this blog update a book trailer I put together for the upcoming release of Labyrinth of the Dolls, the sequel to Bad People.
Disclaimer: I encourage those with a nervous disposition, high blood pressure, heart conditions and any of the followings fears; dolls, music box music, police, or just weird stuff in general to go pour themselves a large whiskey, hide behind a cushion, and then, and only then, click the above link.
You can now pre-order Labyrinth of the Dolls here:
Thanks for your continued support and please, to help support writers like myself, buy more indie books. If you like the trailer too, please spread the word on any social media platform you have. I’ll be forever indebted. Best wishes, and stay safe.
I had a great time recently being interviewed by Ben over at Night Worms. It’s probably the most compressive interview I’ve ever done. I talk about my own influences, how I got started, my writing practices, Stranger Things, and of course, Tom Nolan.
The interview was also used to exclusively reveal the new cover for the second in the Tom Nolan series, LABYRINTH OF THE DOLLS, which is available to pre-order and is out September 15th.
Thanks to Sadie Hartmann, Ben (go follow Ben on Instagram) and all the team at Night Worms. You’re good people. If you’re a fan of horror books, please check out Night Worms. The reviews are always spot on, and if you subscribe to their book packages, you get some truly wonderful stuff.
I’ve jumped off the social media merry-go-round for a while. I was getting way too dizzy. Plus, I needed time away with very few distractions to put together a few things leading up to the release of Labyrinth of the Dolls, the second book in the Tom Nolan series (more news to follow this week).
One of the things I’ve been doing lately is listening to a lot of feedback in reviews of Bad People, as well as reading about marketing for self publishers. Incidentally, a great book about this is David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital. He goes through the whole process of self publishing and offers advice, best practices and ways to improve sales. I think it’s currently free too (at least at the time of writing this). So what I found in the reviews of Bad People were a few comments on the cover. While many thought it was cool and intriguing, there was also a counterbalance, mainly by those saying it was too disturbing and off putting. While it depicts the theme of the book well, I didn’t take into consideration the emotive angle, especially towards those who love animals. At the time, it served its purpose well, but what I’m attempting to do now is reach to larger demographic/readership and maybe it was time for a change.
The Tom Nolan series is, at its core a British thriller. However, it also has elements of horror running through its core. To bring in the crime/thriller audience, I knew the current cover didn’t have enough honey to lure them in. I also needed to appeal to the horror market too, but not so much it would put off the crime/thriller readership. With these considerations at the fore, I attempted, albeit with limited skills, to offer an image that straddles both the thriller and horror market, but also remains relevant to the story. So many books these days don’t and have become so ambiguous you’re never too sure what you’re getting. Here’s the final image, which from today is the only cover now available (that’s right, if you bought the book with the tree and the pig, it’s now a rare edition!):
Without giving too much away, the image used is apt to the story because a series of murders takes place in an old abandoned waterworks on the Yorkshire moors. The silhouetted woman has an ethereal/ghostly appearance that, while loyal to the story (victims are both male and female), I felt will appeal to the horror cohort. It also has that mass market feel of airport fiction thriller books, but still retains enough darkness not to make it cheesy. Cool quote too from the world’s number 1 horror magazine, SCREAM, again, helping to cross the thriller/horror divide.
I’m really happy with it and it dovetails perfectly with the second book, Labyrinth of Dolls, the cover to which will be exclusively revealed on the Night Worms blog sometime this week.
So, if you haven’t got your copy yet, now is a good time to be one of the first to pageant the new cover at home, or on social media. And let me know what you think too. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hi everyone. It’s been a while since I lasted posted. I’ve been busy putting together the second book in the Tom Nolan series called Labyrinth of the Dolls. I’m really excited about this one and I have lots to share, but right now I’ve put together a landing page for anyone who is interested in receiving news about my new books, or any promotions I’ll be running. I would recommend signing up because like I said, I have lots coming up to share.
For now, follow this link and drop your email in there. As a hater of SPAM, I promise I will not be sending you daily updates with photos of me eating a sandwich or talking about the weather. This will be essential information about all my books, and it’ll be exclusive to subscribers, meaning, you’ll hear/read it before it’s mentioned on any other social media platform.
Thanks again for your support and interest. Stay safe and best wishes. Craig
Here’s the rub; for a long time I’ve struggled to label my own work in the confines of one particular genre. This is okay for 90% of the time, but it does prove more troublesome when you need to submit your work. It would be easy to strip my stories or novels down to a root genre, but that’s not always the case. Many are dark, but they also have heart. I mix Horror with Thriller. Magical Realism with Absurdism. I sprinkle Grindhouse with Literary. Science Fiction with Folklore. Underbelly with Noir. In truth, it’s always the story that drives the genre, not the genre driving the story. That should be the case for most writers, and I’ve always admired authors who are able to uproot, and yet retain, at the core, the same writing style their fans love. Neil Gaiman is a prime example, shifting between comic books, to children’s fiction, from Dark fantasy to Horror. There are others; Anne Rice, Stephen King, Emma Donoghue, Margaret Atwood, William Peter Blatty, and Joyce Carol Oates, each establishing themselves as trailblazers in one particular genre, but skilled and brave enough to move venture over the fence from time to time.
It’s the same in the movie industry. There are directors who stretch themselves and cross easily into other genres without losing their signature; Kubrick, Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, and Luc Besson to name a few. Whereas say, John Carpenter, Tobe Hopper, George A Romero, stick true to their particular field of excellence. You know if Wes Craven attaches his name to a movie you’re not going to watch it with your five year old, just as it’s safe to assume a Richard Curtis movie isn’t going to end in bloodshed. For many people, genres are safety blankets. They allow the mood to be set, and expectations established. If I settle down to watch a period drama, in all likelihood I know it’s going to be a slower burn than most. The genre dictates the pace. Conversely, if I watch a high octane Action Thriller with Vin Diesel, I don’t worry about the narrative but I do expect to have my eyes peeled back and my heart rate go up a few beats. There are some directors who become their own genre too. They become adjectives too. You know you’re watching a Tarantino movie, mostly due to the dialogue and violence, but mainly because he doesn’t know when to end the damn thing. David Lynch and Hitchcock have their own style too, as does Tim Burton and Wes Anderson. You wouldn’t need to see the titles to know you’re watching either of their movies. And even if you get it wrong, you may find yourself saying, “This is a little Lynchian.” So genres are good in that respect. They allow the viewer, or the reader, a “heads up” on what to expect. But where this falls apart for me is pitching my work to publishers.
The process of getting your story or novel into the hands of a publisher is a long and protracted one. There are many hurdles and loops you need to jump through. The first is to find the right publisher. Sometimes it’s easier if you find a book or writer you like, and then seek out who published them. Sometimes said publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts so you need to find an agent, and if you think landing a book with a publisher is hard, it’s a whole new world of pain trying to get an agent. So sometimes you just end up trawling the internet to find anyone who accepts your particular genre, so long as you know what genre you’re writing in. Fortunately, most indie publishers accept a wide range of genres, from Western, to Speculative, to Thriller to Horror. So even if you blend genres, like I do, there’s a good chance you’ll get over the first hurdle. The difficulty comes with marketing. A lot of manuscripts are rejected based on the fact the agent, or the publisher, would struggle to market it. For many years I used to hear that Horror was a hard sell, which for a person who loves writing it was a real kick in the balls. I asked a bestselling author once why that was the case, especially when Stephen King writes Horror and he’s not done too bad out of it, and the reply I got was, “Stephen King writes Stephen King novels.” By that they meant people didn’t buy Stephen King books because they were Horror, they bought them because they were written by Stephen King. From this I could only conclude the following: It was great being Stephen King, and that if you write well, and in a style that appeals to many readers, it doesn’t matter what genre you chose, you will just do well.
There’s no great mystery to this. If you write literary fiction that is hard to read with a page count of over a thousand, you’re narrowing your market and reducing your chances of landing an agent, but in years to come it may be studied by students the world over and end up being a classic. If you write “mom porn” about smartly dressed men with smouldering good looks who like a little slap and tickle, you’re going to reach a higher demographic and sell lots of books, but equally be pulled apart by critics and writers. Agents need to make money. They know the industry. They know what the current trends are and what the Big Five are looking for. You may have a great book, but if it doesn’t fit with their portfolio, or they don’t see it selling in the millions, you may find it gets rejected. There are a lot of agents that specialise in certain genres and nurture writers. I know a few writer friends that have landed agents like these and have done well. But these agents have small portfolios and are very selective about taking on new clients. And again, you need to know your genre and whether it fits with them.
So here’s the rub; for a long time I’ve struggled with genre. For a long time I’ve struggled landing my work anywhere for this reason. But what I am seeing is a change in the marketplace. Horror is becoming a more sought after genre and a healthy commodity to agents and publishers. This is good news because I would say at the heart of all my work there is darkness. I’m also finding a style that is more reader-friendly than my earlier works, yet still retaining some that Wallworkian signature. So though I may cross genre at times, I’m confident that I won’t be defined by it, because great writing will always win out.
If you want to see this genre crossing, then check out BAD PEOPLE, which is still only $1.24c/99p on Amazon.