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.
Today sees the release of my new horror short story collection HUMAN TENDERLOIN. With art work by revered horror photographer Thomas G Anderson, and author endorsements by Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, Laurel Hightower, Sarah Read, Beverley Lee and Tyler Jones, I couldn’t have wished for a better start to this book. I’ll drop the blurb below and links, but if you’re looking for a horror read this October, I’d be thrilled if you added this to the list of possible maybes.
Blurb: A prematurely ageing girl learns to fly during the end of the world. A husband makes the ultimate sacrifice for his dying wife. Two brothers endure a rainstorm that lasts five years. A father tries to save his daughter from a sleeping epidemic. A man books into a hotel where the guests check in but never check out. A group of fine-dining cannibals worry where their next meal will come from. And a grieving mother goes in search of ghosts in a haunted house.
Human Tenderloin is a collection of horror stories with heart. Some will goose the skin. Others will leave you bloated with terror. But each one will stay with you.
“These stories don’t just leave you moving through the world differently, they leave you moving through your own head differently. And don’t look behind yourself, either. There may just be bloody footprints.” Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart is a Chainsaw.
“Human Tenderloin features a wide range of stories from old school in-your-face horror to quiet dread-fueled chamber pieces. Through it all Wallwork infuses a uniquely absurd, macabre sense of humor as well as a sense of the humane. Bon appetite.” Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song.
“These stories will slice through the skin, slip into your bloodstream, and shape your nightmares. Craig Wallwork is your curator and guide through this wonderfully macabre gallery of sharp tales. Ranging from the tragic to the mythic, to the heartbreaking and horrific, this collection is sure to leave you unsettled.” – Tyler Jones, author of Criterium and Almost Ruth.
“Craig Wallwork’s Human Tenderloin will carve new paths in your heart. Straight through the meat, to dark pockets you didn’t even know were there. It will change your emotional geography, and there’s no changing back.” -Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of The Bone Weaver’s Orchard.
“There is a dark immediacy to the worlds within this collection – a bony finger beckoning us into Wallwork’s haunted mind. A compelling blend of bleakness, grief, horror and hope.” – Laurel Hightower, author of Crossroads and Whispers in the Dark.
“Wallwork has the ability to crawl inside your head and deliver the horror of his tales in such a beautiful way. He chills with the art of a preying mantis, oh so calm before administering the killing bite.” – Beverley Lee, author of The Ruin of Delicate Things.
To mark it’s 100th review on Goodreads (thank you to everyone who has read it so far), Bad People, the first book in the Tom Nolan detective series, is FREE on Kindle for a limited time.
If you like horror thrillers in the style of Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs, this will be up your street. But don’t take my word for it, here’s a few reviews to whet your appetite.
“Bad People is full of clever plot developments and a compelling, suspenseful manhunt. I’m excited that this is only book one.” Scream Magazine.
“To be read with the lights on in every room in the house.” Nigel Bird.
“With a wince-inducing prologue and an ending to make you gawp, Bad People is in turns a dark thriller and police procedural, with evil running through its core.” Sublime Horror.
“There are many twists and turns to Bad People that will keep readers hooked and turning pages as quickly as possible.” On Magazine.
“If you like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or Se7en, then check out BAD PEOPLE by Craig Wallwork.” Sadie Hartmann
Here’s the synopsis…
THREE MISSING CHILDREN. Over the past three years, the quiet Yorkshire village of Stormer Hill has lost three of its children. No bodies were ever discovered. No evidence found. No witnesses. THE WRITER. Struggling to find inspiration for his new novel, celebrated crime author, and ex-police officer, Alex Palmer, believes the story of the missing children could end his writer’s block, but is he prepared for the story that’s about to develop? THE DETECTIVE. Tom Nolan, a seasoned detective and loner involved in finding each missing child. Nolan is tasked with chaperoning Palmer and walking through each case. But as both men revisit the past, and dig deeper, neither are prepared for the chilling discovery to why the children were taken. THE BRETHREN. A secret cult. Two men, and a series of brutal and unimaginable murders spanning over seven years with one intention; to show the world that death can be justified if it’s for a greater good.
If you’ve already read the book and enjoyed it, please spread the word. The third in the series should be released next year. Thanks for taking an interest.
September 15th. Mark your calendar, or set a reminder on your phone, because that’s the date my new horror short story collection will be released called, Human Tenderloin.
A prematurely ageing girl learns to fly during the end of the world. A husband makes the ultimate sacrifice for his dying wife. Two brothers endure a rainstorm that lasts five years. A father tries to save his daughter from a sleeping epidemic. A man books into a hotel where the guests check in but never check out. A group of fine-dining cannibals worry where their next meal will come from. And a grieving mother goes in search of ghosts in a haunted house.
Human Tenderloin is a collection of horror stories with heart. Some will goose the skin. Others will leave you bloated with terror. But each one will stay with you.
If that doesn’t whet your appetite (pun intended) maybe this will…
What? You need more to persuade you? Okay, what about these endorsements?
Still not convinced? Jeez, what’s a writer got to do to get some love? All I can offer is that the book will be out in hardback, paperback and Kindle, with some limited signed editions available after the release. Presently, preorders are available on Kindle only. Here’s the link.
I truly hope that come September 15th you’ll join me in celebrating the book’s release. Hell, maybe you’ll buy a copy. I’m certain you’ll find one story that lingers with you long after you put the book down. However, if you’re struggling to sleep after reading, or believe something is lurking in the attic, I’d like to apologise now, but know that this humble writer will be grinning madly with delight. Best, Craig.
I’m unsure how effective these updates are, or if anyone is reading them, but if you are, thank you. Writing is a solitary sport, but it requires spectators to make it worthwhile. The concept of speaking into the void without my words reaching anyone is a depressing thought. So again, thank you for jumping in and being there.
This year, so far, has caught me off guard. Save for all the worldly issues that unite every soul, and adapting a new way of living/working, I had set off in February intending to release two books by the end-of-year. What I didn’t expect, or foresee, was how consuming my horror story collection, HUMAN TENDERLOIN, would be. I intended it as literary chum to entice the horror community to take a nibble on me and see if they liked my work. But what began as simple curating of previously published stories, and adding to the mix a few recent stories, turned into something much more demanding. Putting to one side all the mechanics of writing (editing – big thanks to Danni Vinson!- formatting etc), I took some photography that I believed would pay tribute to the prose. Not interpretation of the stories, but more thematically tethered to them. The intention then was to add each to the book. This proved too protracted, and, as it was pointed out to me by another writer, some people don’t want to see a rendering, in any form, of the narrative because that would negate their own imagination from forming its own imagery. Having already committed to the task, I’ve since omitted them from the book, but will use them as promotional aides across various social media platforms. I’ve also created a dedicated Instagram page where all the photographs can be corralled and exhibited for public consumption, should the reader wish to see them before or after reading the book. You can find the page here. There are no photos there at present, but this will change regularly, so please follow the page for all updates. I promise, if you love horror, you’ll really dig them.
Having created four book covers for Human Tenderloin, I decided recently to reach out to the horror community once more to find a photograph that has the feel and palette of the book. I can’t go into too much detail about this because I’m still in negotiations, but there is one horror photographer who was at the top of my list to work with. Following a lot of begging, they’ve agreed in principle to release some of their material to me. I’m thrilled beyond belief, and very excited to share the photographer’s name and the final cover once it’s been formatted. Unfortunately, that’ll be disclosed foremost in a newsletter. So if you haven’t already signed up, now is as good a time as any.
Finally, I’ve not forgotten about Tom Nolan. He’s forever in the back of my mind, and because my process is to flesh out the story in my head rather than write anything down, the distance is only a good thing because where there were once brick walls to clamber over, all obstacles in my path have been bulldozed by rumination. However, the likelihood of the third Tom Nolan book seeing a release this year is highly unlikely. I never intended to rush this last book, so I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s better to wait a little longer and get a much richer product, than be offered something that sours the whole trilogy because of frantic fingers.
And please, please, please, if you’re not already doing so, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. These three culprits, especially Instagram, are where you’ll find me most of the time waxing lyrical about my work, among other things. But if you want book news before anyone else, and freebies, then sign up to my newsletter. There is going to be some cool stuff coming up, and I don’t think you’ll want to miss them. That said, here’s a little tease of things to come to keep you going…
Thanks again for your continued support, and stay safe.
Just a quick update to say that both Bad People and Labyrinth of the Dolls are now available in hardback through Amazon. It’s been a goal of mine to see my work in hardback form so I’m really pleased. Yes, they are little more expensive than paperback and Kindle, but if you’re like me, I find they always look better on the shelf. Plus, if you ever develop ganglion, they’ll pretty much flatten the lump out with a good hard strike.
It’s been a while, but the lack of an update is a fair reflection on my productivity. I’m of the opinion that writers can get too caught up in committing more words to social media than they do their books. It’s an opinion that isn’t very popular, and/or is frowned upon by literary hustlers out there, but it’s a sad reality of contemporary publishing. That said, hats off to those that do it well and continue promoting their work without driving people crazy (please get in touch and drop me some pointers if you read this).
So, dear reader, I’m here to say that I’m still alive and working hard on two books. The first is a collection of horror stories called Human Tenderloin. It’s tentatively scheduled for an October release because, as everyone knows, that’s the spookiest month in the calendar. At the time of writing this the book is complete. It consists of new and previously published stories that have only appeared in print. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with the diligent and wonderful editor, Danni Vinson. Danni and I share a similar love for creative and beautiful prose, so this partnership has been a real dream. I believe the best editors are those that tell you the things you’re too scared to admit in a way that leaves you both humbled and excited. Danni did this and I’m indebted to her time and kind words. The book also has a cover, and is currently being read by authors I admire and respect in the hope they provide a few choice words to feature on said cover. I’ll post more about this as things unfurl.
The second is the next book in the Tom Nolan series. This has no title yet, and I’m about 20k in. The process has been very fragmented. I began the book late in 2020, but when my father passed away, I shelved it. I picked it up again in March, but again, put it to one side to polish Human Tenderloin. The plan now is to pick up the story again in early June with the hope of having a first draft by early winter. I wrote Labyrinth of the Dolls in a frenzy, taking just three months to complete. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that with the third book. Perhaps this decision portents to it being the final book in the series. A trilogy is a good length for a series, and to do more may weaken the other books. Too, I don’t believe I can put Nolan through any further anguish. He’s my Prometheus chained to a rock, and I can’t bear seeing him undergo further pain. I owe him a respite from the buzzards.
So that’s that. Though there’s no certainty I will release the third Tom Nolan book this year, I can guarantee you’ll have something horrible from me to devour in autumn. Until I have further news, or something to share about Human Tenderloin, stay safe and stay true.
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.