5 Days of Books: Paul Tremblay

There’s not much I can add that hasn’t already been documented about Paul Tremblay’s work. He’s the bestselling author of A Head Full of Ghosts (currently being adapted to screen by Scott Cooper), Cabin at the End of the World, the upcoming Survivor Song, and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. As the aforementioned titles prove, he writes powerful, enduring horror that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go until you turn that final page. But what sometimes gets missed is that he’s also one of the coolest, and nicest guys in the literary world today. I’ve known him, from a distance, for many years, going back to around 2004 (?) when we both frequented a forum aimed at celebrating the books of Will Christopher Baer, Craig Clevenger and Stephen Graham Jones. By then he was already ahead of us fledging writers, having a couple of books published through the Canadian press ChiZine. But what I recall even now is that when he contributed to conversations, or was solicited for stories by those of us brave enough to assemble anthologies (see The Booked Anthology, Warm and Bound, and The New Black) he always came across as self effacing and generous. Though Paul is currently carving his name next to some of the upper literary echelon, he still hasn’t let go of that attitude, and in a world where the merest whiff of success has some become a pastiche of Ron Burgundy, this is a rare commodity that will only bolster his popularity.

The books photographed are some of his more well know. Though many gravitate to A Head Full of Ghosts as his finest, my heart is nestled more in the pages of A Cabin at the End of the World. A claustrophobic, intimate story, Paul

explores the nightmare of isolation and intimidation with such detail you feel as much a part of the horror as those undergoing it. I’m still processing what happened to eight year old Wen, and her two dads, Andrew and Eric, even some three years later, but I can safely reassure you Paul has tendered a situation more scarier than monsters, demons or ghosts that occupy the head. Their world is real. Their nightmare can happen. And it probably will happen. To talk more about what exactly does happen will spoil the story. It needs to be read with a blank slate. You need to pick up knowing very little, save for the understanding you will be delivered into a world where you’ll doubt motives, faith, humanity and truth.

A slight aside, had it not been for, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, I don’t think I would have wrote Bad People. That book inspired me to want to do something similar, to merge the line between thriller and horror. It served, alongside the works of Thomas Harris, as a kind of handbook to Bad People, so I’ll always be indebted to him for that. His new book, Survivor Song, will be released in July.

5 Days of Books: William Peter Blatty

I have a confession to make. It took me about thirty years to get around to reading The Exorcist. I know! Look, I love the movie, and class it as my favourite, other than Jaws, horror movies of all time. I saw it first on VHS during it’s banned era in the 1980s, and again at the cinema in the early 1990s, then subsequently on DVD/Blu Ray (complete with spider walk) about fifty times, but yes, I have never read the book. That changed about five years ago, and I have to say it’s one of the most explicit, beautiful and poetic books I’ve had the pleasure of delving in to. Blatty did a wonderful job in bringing life to the characters, and enriching the text with a deep, resonating cadence. Honestly, I can’t praise it enough, and have been searching for a “good condition” first edition for many years. The nearest I’ve gotten in a limited edition issued by Folio Society (seen in the photo below), which I believe has some wonderful illustrations. But as you can see, I have yet to extract the book from the shrink wrap so have added a stick photo from Folio to prove they exist. So yes, if you’re searching for a gift for me, then may I suggest a Harper & Row, 1971 edition with mint jacket and ideally signed by Blatty. 😉

On to Legion (photo shows a first edition hardback). I was more than uneasy turning the first page to Legion. Blatty has become something of an enigma to me. After finishing the book version of The Exorcist, I started to look up articles and watched YouTube clips of Blatty disseminating his Opus, and each one was a revelation. I visited the Ninth Configuration and enjoyed its absurdity and pathos. I even watched Exorcist 3 again after many years, looking between splayed fingers at that agonising scene where the camera lingers on the hospital corridor before a ghostly apparition chases a nurse from a doorway. All these things had built Blatty into a mythical creature capable of weaving dark into light, and evil into the subconscious. You can see now why reading this book wasn’t taken lightly. In the end I succumbed, but found quite early on its flaws too unforgiving. Kinderman’s existential rambling proved too distracting and nearly had me abandoning the book after the first few chapters. The quirky dialogue too proved tiresome, and yet I persevered because of legacy. I’m glad I did in the end. The second half of the book picks up pace. There is more plot that brings in old characters. It is, as was The Exorcist, a supernatural thriller. It was just a shame that this didn’t materialise until so very late in the novel. Nonetheless, there are layers to the narrative that make you think. The references are biblical and cultural. Kinderman, for all his faults, is a likeable character. But whether he could hold up the weight of a sequel to one of the most iconic and revered books of the 1970s is debatable. Worth reading, if only to feel the holy water burn your skin once more.

As for Dimeter (again, first edition hardback); I have yet to turn that first page. Maybe it’s because I know there’s not much left of Blatty’s work to pore over. So I’m saving this one for a rainy day. It’d be nice to read it in one sitting, and then finish the day with another viewing of that timeless story of Regan, Pazuzu and a priest’s quest to reaffirm his faith.

5 Days of Books: Nick Cave

I’m a collector, a hoarder, more specifically, a bibliophile. In my attic are plastic storage boxes, within each bubble wrapped first editions and signed copies of books that I once loved. To avoid foxing and fading of dust covers, or the sticky fingers of my children, they have never seen a shelf. But they exist and they are beautiful. My hope one day is to purchase a sealed bookshelf (with lock and key) complete with spotlights that I can exhibit my collection. But I don’t think that will ever happen. In truth, I have amassed so many that I can’t recall what books skulk daily in the attic above my head. On the odd occasion, I’ll go up there and open one of the plastic containers and lose myself in those illustrated dust covers, trace my fingers along their spines and marvel at each word committed to their pages. I can lose hours up there, and I can say, not one is wasted. Today I did just that, and for the next five days I’ll be posting up a very select few.

Today is Nick Cave. I couldn’t find my first edition of And the Ass Saw the Angel (I own two), nor my advanced reader’s copy of Bunny Munro. Instead, I found this very rare edition of Bunny released by Cannongate (love that publisher), as well as a limited edition The Sick Bag Song (a collection of poems) and rare edition of Lovely Creatures, which I have yet to open. Yes, you’ll see in the coming days that some books I don’t even open but preserve in shrink wrap lest they get soiled.

For those who have never read Nick Cave’s literary contributions, beware that, like his music, he’s an acquired taste. But I can say, wholeheartedly, that he is a fucking genius with the pen. Here’s my thoughts on The Death of Bunny Munro, his second foray as a novelist.

Following on from his critically acclaimed debut novel, And The Ass Saw The Angel, Nick Cave’s second novel tells the story of Bunny Munro, a traveling salesman who, after the suicide of his wife, takes his son on a road trip around the South coast of England in attempt to forsake his demons and outrun the Devil.

On first reflection, I wasn’t entirely sure what the hell the book was about. I assumed that Cave was exercising his own demons through his prose. Cave’s father died when he was a young man, and the story of Bunny and Bunny Jnr could be seen as a boy wanting to know his father better, but they are worlds apart, emotionally, so even the most basic of communication is beyond their reach, which might be a comparable experience Cave had with his father when alive. Alternatively, with Cave reaching his twilight years (Christ, I hope he never reads this!), maybe he is redefining his role as a father, and the responsibilities it brings – Cave has at least three, maybe four children.

Another conjecture forced me to arrive at the conclusion most writers, regardless of what they say, have some part of themselves in their characters. It’s almost impossible to write objectively. In the past, Cave has been labeled a dirty old man based on a few of his song lyrics, and he’s been reported as liking the designation. This may help to explain Bunny’s unnatural obsession with the vagina throughout the book. Moreover, it can’t just be coincidence that the main character is named after the most reputed horniest animal alive, can it? Not surprising then that Cave designed Bunny to have a natural magnetism which most women find irresistible. His charm has made Bunny a decent living as a traveling salesman, allowing him to work his magic to seduce lonely housewives and single mums into partaking in cheap cosmetic products, and the pleasures of the flesh. After his wife’s suicide, Bunny begins to feel her presence around every corner, seemingly robbing him of his unnatural magnetism. But his gift is Bunny’s undoing. It had ended a life, and forced him to accept the responsibility of raising his son, something quite alien to him based on his experiences with his own father. What began as a simple busman’s holiday, a fun trip with his stranger son, as well as a perfect excuse to pageant his beguiling influence on the female species, becomes more a journey of abstemiousness for Bunny. And it is because of this we see a change in character. The deeper into the journey he goes, the more Bunny searches for absolution, absolution for his sins as a father, as a son and a husband.

From the beginning, Heaven was to Bunny a perfect place where you could fuck all day without consequence, and for a long time he lived a happy existence there. But like Adam, he fucked up. His desires became the reason for his eviction, and when you abuse the laws of Paradise, there is only one place left for you, and for Bunny that was the archetypal holiday choice for most English low-income families, Butlins – a place where Bunny spent time with his father, and first discovered his talent. I can say with some authority that having spent a week in Butlins when I was 20 years old, I can think of no better analogy of Hell.

Overall it is a brave book, and perhaps in comparison to his first novel, which was more like eating Banoffee pie covered in Maple Syrup, The Death of Bunny Munro tasted like plain Vanilla Cheesecake. Nothing wrong with cheesecake. In fact, I love cheesecake! And while Cave gave us a book that was simple on the surface, plain to the eye, the more you trawl through its words, the flavours begin to surface.

7 Days of Reviews. Day 7: Monty Reads

The last day of my 7 Days of Reviews couldn’t be more aptly timed. Just landed is a review of a Bad People by Rob, known on Instagram as Monty_Reads.

Here’s the thing: most book bloggers are quite uniformed in their approach. It’s not a bad thing, but sometimes, if you follow a lot, it’s hard to differentiate one from the other unless you check who has posted. What makes Rob stand out is that he mostly posts himself holding the book he is reading. Not only does this make it more personal, it also makes it easy to go back later in the week to see their thoughts. But the most unique thing Rob does is employ the help of Piper, his dog. Piper is by far the most well read dog on the Internet (don’t reply to this post and shatter the magic by telling me dogs can’t read!). At least three to four times a week, Piper is photographed in front of the bookshelf, and beside him (I’m assuming it’s a he – the camera hides his modesty to be 100% sure) a favourite read, mostly Stephen King novels. The dog’s got taste. Okay, it’s a little fun, and credit to Rob in getting Piper to sit so still, but it goes to prove Monty_Reads should be your next port of call over at a Instagram. Need more information?

Okay, he likes Vonnegut, King, horror and mystery books. He has well over 700 followers and isn’t afraid to go against the grain when it comes to reviews, which is why I was so happy when he gave a favourable account of his time in the pages of Bad People. He also seems like a genuinely nice guy. I know that’s difficult to evaluate through photographs, but reading his posts, he brings character to his reviews, and makes them more emotive that some. So yes, if you like books, dogs, and nice guys with facial hair, check him out.

Here’s his review of Bad People on his Goodreads Page.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3283474150

7 Days of Review. Day 6: Tracy, AKA, Honestmamreader

I’m sure there is the perception that bloggers are these pallid skinned, spectacle wearing loners whose only joy in life is books, and who dedicate twelves hours of their daily lives with their noses firmly wedges between the pages of said books. This perception most probably emanates from authors who seek out these kind bookworms to read their precious contribution to the world of literature. Well, today, as part of my 7 days review, I’m going to dispel this myth by introducing you to Honestmanreader.

Taken from her blog:

Hey everyone. My name is Tracy, and I blog and review under the name Honestmamreader. I’m Honest. I’m a mother to two children. I’m a reader. All makes sense really when you look at it like that. I love reading, even though I don’t have much time to read, what with life and kids distracting me but, when I do get the chance, I’ll read mostly thrillers, contemporary, horrors, chic lit and I’ve dabbled in historical fiction. If you are an author and would like me to review your book then pop me an email with the synopsis of your book and I’ll happily read and review (if it’s my cup of tea of course).

So yes, bloggers have lives, families, jobs, and like everyone else, a limited amount of time. Don’t abuse it. Respect the person, and as always, do your research. Fortunately, Tracy was kind enough to give me a little of her time to Bad People. Thanks, Tracy! Below is the review, from where you can find out how to contact Tracy too.

https://honestmamreader.wordpress.com/2020/04/14/bookreview-bad-people-craigwallwork-bookbloggers-bookrecommendations/

7 Days of Reviews. Day 5: Alex Pearson, AKA, Finding Montauk.

Following bloggers is a revelation. It’s also a huge guilt trip because you realise how slow a reader you are, and how many books you could potentially get through if you dedicated the time. One of those people that makes me reflect on my own “to read” list is Alex, known on Instagram as @findingmontauk1.

His ability to inhale books and exhale great reviews leaves me in awe. He was also kind enough to lend me his eyes (not literally) to Bad People, the review if which I’ll post below. A few things you should know about Alex: He reviews for Ladies of Horror Fiction. He has over 4k followers on Twitter (@finding_montauk) and 4,664 (at the time of writing this) on Instagram. He’s read 1175 books in Goodreads and has over 400 friends.

He naturally gravitates to horror, so if you’ve got a book that you think might float his boat, or rattle his chains, get in touch via his official website: http://www.findingmontauk.wordpress.com

The Bad People review found on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3262712953

7 Days of Reviews. Day 4: Sadie Hartmann, AKA, Mother Horror.

Today I’m going to speak to you about a person that, for anyone who likes horror, or writes horror, should really know about (and to be fair, probably does already). Sadie Hartmann, also known by the moniker, Mother Horror, is one of those people whose love for the horror genre has led the way to such things as the breakthrough subscription service Night Worms, and now her Patreon led promotion platform for writers and lovers of all things horror. She reviews for some of the most esteemed horror magazines out there, and her dedication to supporting both established and fledging authors is inspiring, which is why she’s one of the most respected reviewers around today.

I was fortunate enough to pique her interest with Bad People a couple of months ago, and was amazed when she gave it a very favourable review in the UK’s number horror magazine, Scream. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about her, save to add that people like Sadie not only contribute an immense amount of time to the cause, but serve as the backbone to many careers in the horror community.

This is taken from her Patreon TEAM HORROR, and gives you an idea of her background and achievements. I’ll include a link to the Patreon page too at the end should be be interested in joining.

Greetings! My name is Sadie Hartmann, otherwise known as Mother Horror on social media. I write horror fiction reviews and other content for Cemetery Dance and SCREAM Magazine as well as Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram and other social media platforms & publications.

I am a member of the Horror Writers Association and the co-owner of a curated, horror fiction, monthly subscription package called Night Worms.

I consider myself a horror fiction advocate. Every day I work hard and hustle promoting the genre of horror to the very best of my ability. I have been passionately promoting horror as a hobby/passion for years. In addition to the reviews, I write dedicated blog posts HERE and articles and listicles for LitReactor like THIS

My Twitter analytics inspired me to launch this Patreon. This February 2020 my analytics were insane. 1M Tweet Impressions. 2.3% Tweet engagement (1.3% is considered “high influencer level) and 300+ new followers in both January & February 2020. I love using my Twitter influence to advocate for horror and I felt like others might want to know my techniques for how I do this and also might want to support me to keep the momentum going.

It’s my dream/goal to be able to make enough money as a non-fiction writer in the genre to take my HWA membership to the next level so that I can be a voter in the annual Stoker Awards. I have enjoyed using my current level of membership to nominate books for this prestigious award.

But there is always more that I can do to ensure that horror authors and publishers are successful in getting the right book in the right reader’s hands. You can join me on this mission! The tiers will explain how you can get involved. I have a lot of ideas in order to start a horror genre advocacy movement I’m calling #TeamHorror. This Patreon will be an ideal place for me to share with you what I’ve learned promoting horror while inviting Patrons to practice Street Team Style horror fiction promotion.

~Sadie Hartmann

https://www.patreon.com/MotherHorror

Follow her on Twitter: @sadiehartmann

7 Days of Reviews. Day 3: Sublime Horror.

Sublime Horror is a review site that specialise in all things horror, obviously. There “topics” include movies, TV and books, and reviews come from an array of different reviewers, and as their website states, they’re always looking to expand its team of writers. So if you’re a reviewer, blogger or just like watching/reading horror, drop them an email.

Here’s their guidelines should you be interested…

Our guest contributors are passionate about horror, whether that’s in literature, cinema, theatre, or art. We are open to most ideas so long as they entertain, inspire, or educate people and help them expand their horror horizons. While our focus for a long time has been on literary horror – and that particular emphasis isn’t going anywhere – we are especially looking for new contributors who wish to write about horror outside of literature.

Here’s an incomplete list of the sorts of things we’d love to hear from you about: essays/opinion pieces on a particular angle of horror (or the industry), thoughtful and balanced reviews on new releases, analytical pieces on older works (not “reviews” per se), reading or watching lists that focus on a particular topic or theme, and interviews with authors or people involved in horror (we can help arrange the interview for you, if desired). If your idea does not fit into one of those groups, then still please get in touch.

Thanks to Lucy who reviewed Bad a People. Here’s what she had to say.

https://www.sublimehorror.com/books/bad-people-by-craig-wallwork-review/#more-2531

7 Days of Reviews. Day 2: Entertainingly Nerdy

Today, as part of my meagre attempt to promote bloggers and reviewers, I’m bringing you Kaili from Entertainingly Nerdy, a blog site that delivers on quality reviews.

Want to know more about Kaili? This is taken from her About Page…

Hey readers! First off my name is Kaili and I’m thirty years old. I have one cute son and two cute dogs. I started book blogging about two years ago and I honestly didn’t really think anything would come of it. I wanted to start it because I’ve always love to read and I was hoping to find new books once I started. I figured there were so many authors out there that I knew nothing about and I had a feeling there would be some I really liked.

My favorite genres are horror, thriller, and mystery. I do love a good young adult novel and I’ve just started realizing over the past year that I really like Fantasy too! If you would like to know any more then please let me know and I look forward to working and collaborating with you guys!

I’d highly recommend approaching her if you think your book fits. She also reviews movies and video games too. Here’s her review of Bad People.

Bad People by Craig Wallwork

7 Days of Reviews. Day 1: NIGHTFALL UP NORTH

I make no apologies for trying to promote my work. A lot of effort, sweat and blood goes into writing a book, but it takes an equal amount to promote it. It also takes a lot of kindness and time from others. So to try and celebrate both camps, I’ll be promoting the bloggers who have read Bad People, and include the link to the review. If you’re a writer, this should serve as a means to connect to some wonderful people. As a blogger, it’s a thank you for your tireless effort in spreading the news.

Day 1 is NIGHTFALL UP NORTH

Jamie, who runs the blog, lives in the woods of northern Michigan, where she enjoys reading late into the night. Her favorite genre is horror, but will read almost anything that catches her interest.

Personal Statement: 

I currently read and write book reviews as a serious hobby. My intentions with reviewing are to:

-Share my honest thoughts with other readers

-Connect with readers, reviewers, and authors to discuss our shared interests

-Promote the horror genre, which includes bringing attention to the authors and the diversity of material available

The review of Bad People

https://nightfallupnorth.wordpress.com/2020/04/11/book-review-bad-people-by-craig-wallwork/