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.
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.
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.
Amanda Gowin, writer and fiction editor at the arts journal, Menacing Hedge, me recently about coping during lockdown, horror movies, books and BAD PEOPLE. I used to be fiction editor there back in the day so it was both warming and an honour to grace its corridors once again. Thanks to Amanda, Kelly and Gio for allowing me the opportunity.
J.A. Sullivan over at Kendall Reviews interviewed me recently about Bad People and the sequel Labyrinth of the Dolls, so if you want to know more about what inspired me to write a horror crime novel, or anything about the new novel (no spoilers, promise), then go check it.
New issue of SCREAM magazine arrived! Seeing Sadie Hartmann’s very kind review of my book Bad People went straight to my head and caused a nose bleed! Beware, if you read the book, the same thing may happen to you. Due to COVID, this edition won’t be in the shops, but you can buy direct from SCREAM. Great article too on FRIGHT NIGHT by Jerry Smith. Really digging his knowledge of the horror classics.