In memoriam: Norman J. Warren

I’m devastated to hear of filmmaker Norman J. Warren‘s passing, and touched to see social media buzzing with fond memories of, and tributes to, this gentleman of horror.

The late, great Norman J. Warren (photo: Vice.com)

My friendship with Norman began just over a decade ago, when a producer recommended me to him as a potential screenwriter on his new movie project. We met in a hotel bar in London and got along like a haunted house on fire. I was hired to do rewrites on Norman’s script ‘Beyond Terror’, which was both a sequel to ‘Terror’ and a ‘greatest hits’ showcase. I was thrilled to be working with him, as I was a fan of Norman’s cult-occult movie ‘Satan’s Slave’ (aka ‘Evil Heritage’) from my VHS video nasties days.

Our collaboration continued and we met up for coffee-fuelled story meetings and regular chinwags at the National Film Theatre café on the South Bank, and sometimes at Norman’s home in West London, where I got to see his vintage movie posters and memorabilia over mugs of tea. Norman had so many great stories from his decades in the film industry, and I loved hearing about him driving around in an open topped car with ‘Terror’ star Glynis Barber in the passenger seat.

(Glynis Barber in Norman J. Warren’s TERROR)

‘Beyond Terror’ was retitled ‘Delusion’ (we joked that we were deluded if we thought it was going to get made) and Norman eventually took the project to China with producer Yixi Sun, to pitch for financing. Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Following our work on ‘Delusion’, Norman invited me to brainstorm ideas with him for a horror/thriller film called ‘Shadows’ and I worked up a story outline based on our creative discussions with producer Yixi Sun.

Horror can be a notoriously hard sell when trying to attract funding, especially state funding, and so Norman decided to pursue the art house/surreal thriller route. Following on from ‘Shadows’, Norman and Yixi then developed a script called ‘Susu’, which Norman was going to direct in China. When ill health prevented him from directing, Norman moved into a producing role, with Yixi directing. Norman made a fun short too, for the ‘Turn Your Bloody Phone Off’ segment at FrightFest London.

Alongside all this, I was hard at work on my short folk horror film ‘The Stay’, and Norman mentored me throughout the process with his trademark enthusiasm and words of encouragement. You’ll see his name on the thank you credits at the end of the film (I apologised in advance, in case he didn’t like the movie!).

Norman was a lovely friend and collaborator who always had time for others, even when he was unwell. And I have never known someone to be so excited and upbeat when discussing grisly death scenes over lunch! Norman survived polio during his younger years, and I think that maybe gave him some of his appreciation for life’s possibilities. He was a proper gent, and I will miss him.

Listen to Norman discussing his filmmaking roots and influences on Radio 4’s The Film Programme here.

And you can relive Norman J Warren’s greatest hits in this stonking Indicator Blu Ray box set.

A thank you note

Hearthstone Cottage — a #1 Best-smeller!

My folk horror novel Hearthstone Cottage is a #1 Bestseller on Amazon.

Thank you to all who supported the ebook sale!

(You can still grab a reduced price copy if you’re quick)

US: http://flametr.com/2Y44wlB


UK: http://flametr.com/2MfT0kx


AU: http://flametr.com/2KEopN3


CA: http://flametr.com/3ohcNNT

“Lee creates an atmosphere of unease and foreboding that culminates in explosive violence and terror. Rife with frightening imagery, ghosts, and visceral horror, this tale will please the most ardent of horror fans.” (Booklist)

Thanks for reading!

Beast witches,

Frazer

“Open for a surprise”

Ta—daaaa!

In a desperate attempt to be relevant in a genre dominated by big-name authors, my horror novel Hearthstone Cottage is on sale for only $0.99/£0.99.

Hurry, offer ends January 24th.

UK: http://flametr.com/2XYcr3O
US: http://flametr.com/3odD93j
AU: http://flametr.com/3o5MU3t
CA: http://flametr.com/394YhEh

0.99 on Kindle

Here are some nice things that nice people have said about my novel (which is decidedly not nice).

Reviews

“Lee creates an atmosphere of unease and foreboding that culminates in explosive violence and terror. Rife with frightening imagery, ghosts, and visceral horror, this tale will please the most ardent of horror fans.” – Booklist

“HEARTHSTONE COTTAGE is a nonstop riveting read and the suspense never slackens. Prepare to lose sleep.” – The Haunted Reading Room

“A story which is worthy of being on the big screen! Full of tension, suspense & good old-fashioned heart-thumping scary bits” – Stardust Book Reviews

“This was a fantastic spooky read! The writer pulls you in and does not let you go until the very last page.” – Secret World of a Book

“Hearthstone Cottage is the first folk horror book I’ve read, and what a great introduction to the subgenre…Every chapter represented a new horror for the protagonist as he delved deeper and deeper into madness. Frazer Lee is fantastic.” – The Bookdad

“Gripping from beginning to end, Lee knows how to spin a horror story that makes your flesh crawl. Filled with suspense and tension you will struggle to look away.” – Bunny’s Pause

“Outstanding writing, intriguing layers, the tension and suspense was edge of your seat stuff, relatable characters that I could see myself getting along with and the twists and turns left me aching for more.  The author certainly has gained a new fan. Thank you, Frazer Lee, for scaring the crap out of me!” – The Coycaterpillar Reads

“This book had me on my toes until I reached the very last line…I really, really, really enjoyed it.” – Nightfall Mysteries

“I was actually scared to go to sleep at one point…part of the book hit me so hard, I actually had to put it down and have a break…a great read if you enjoy being on the edge of your seat, it was very creepy and suspenseful” – Ally’s Book Corner

“A trippy tale of isolation set in the Scottish countryside that really takes the reader off guard.” – Hedwig’s Books

“A fun, creepy read” – Book Reviews by Shalini

“This is a fantastically creepy tale, with a sense of gradually building menace. Gripping, spooky and thoroughly entertaining.” – Lesley Budge, Orlando Books Blog

I did mention it’s only $0.99 until January 24, right?

Hearthstone Cottage — Frazer Lee — you might like it?

Glancing back at 2020, looking ahead to 2021

(we were all this screaming tree at some point in 2020…)

2020. A year during which any horror writer would be hard pressed to outdo real-life events with any of their fictional terrors.

Glancing back, here’s my horror writing year in review.

Novels

Greyfriars Reformatory my sixth novel, which was published by the fine folks at Flame Tree Press, got some of the most positive reviews i’ve ever had (from Chicago Review of Books, and others). My thanks to all the readers, raters & reviewers!

Non-fiction

I published two academic chapters:
“Not everything that moves, breathes and talks is alive”: Christianity, Korean Shamanism and Reincarnation in Whispering Corridors (1998) and The Wailing (2016) – published in Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion and Worship in the Horror Film, editors: Rebecca Booth, Valeska Griffiths, Erin Thompson, R.F. Todd (House of Leaves Publishing, 2020)
&
Koji Suzuki’s Ring: A world literary perspective – published in Horror Literature From Gothic to Postmodern: Critical Essays. Editors Nicholas Diak, Michele Brittany (McFarland Publishing, 2020).

I penned guest blogs & articles for the HWA, CrimeReads & Kendall Reviews (among others you can find here).

Screenwriting

I lost two screenwriting commissions due to the pandemic in 2020. I know many film & TV writers struggled last year, and here’s hoping the industry picks up again in 2021, but there’s a way to go yet.

I put my time & energy into writing two speculative feature film screenplays (I’ve learned never to speak too much about those, so let’s just wait and see if they actually become movies).

My screenplay adaptation of Bram Stoker Award®️ nominated debut novel The Lamplighters was a Semi-finalist in the ScreenCraft Horror Screenplay Contest 2020.

Awards

My folk horror film The Stay won two awards on the international festival circuit in 2020:


Exemplar Award – Creepy New Concept & Plot (Creepy Tree Film Festival, USA)


& Best International Film (The Thing in the Basement Horror Fest USA)

The Stay was screened in Official Selection at several film festivals from Los Angeles Lift-off to the Hitchcock Film Awards. Film festivals weren’t the only happenings that were streamed…

Events

Remember those? It was a tough year for conferences and conventions, and my heart goes out to their organisers, who have been forced to postpone, go online, or to cancel outright.

An Evening With Horror Writer Frazer Lee went ahead, and I enjoyed inflicting my horrors on a full house, had fun answering some great questions, and we raised some money for my favourite charity.

The inaugural UK edition of Stokercon was postponed, and then became Chillercon, with the Bram Stoker Awards & Final Frame Film Contest (for which i was a Juror) moving online. Congratulations to the winners & nominees!

I was looking forward to screening The Stay and doing a Q&A about my film work at Contemporary Folk Horror in Film & Media conference, Leeds, until the pandemic delivered its own persistent brand of viral horror. Hopefully it will happen in 2021.

Last but not least — My book launch for Greyfriars Reformatory went online, and together we raised £35 for Hillside Animal Sanctuary through signed book sales — thank you!

Looking forward? I’m hoping to get all kinds of things done in 2021. Making horror stories sometimes helps me to face the real-life ones. And i hope reading/watching them helps you sometimes, too.

If you’re still reading this, I’d just like to wish you & yours the very best of health. And i’ll close on a plea, if i may:

Don’t you dare be one of those characters in horror stories — you know the one who goes down to the basement with a faulty flashlight? Or the one who says, “We’ll cover more ground if we split up.” Just don’t. I’ve written and consumed enough horror stories to know those aproaches rarely pan out so well — for anyone.

Please.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands.

Stay safe out there, and keep others safe.

And if you need to borrow a flashlight, just scream!

x Frazer

#TheCure concerts I have known & loved: NEC Birmingham, 6th December 1987

In the first of an occasional series, I’m marking the anniversary of The Cure concerts i’ve attended over the years, because they are my favourite band and I love them, and because 2020 has made such things into impossible dreams.

The first post has to be my first gig!

On 6th December, way back in 1987, I boarded a coach from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, to go see my first ever Cureshow at Birmingham NEC Arena.

I had seen a few gigs already. Clannad, Big Audio Dynamite, Spear of Destiny, INXS, The Cult, and Fields of the Nephilim (to name a few i can actually remember) but this was the big one.

This was The Cure.

Earlier that year I had seen The Cure in Orange concert film at my local cinema, in Hanley, Staffordshire, with my school friend Susan Greaves. I played ‘The Blood’ to her on my cassette Walkman because she’d never heard it before. We got up & danced at the back while the movie played. It was magic, but (to coin a phrase) I wished it was all real, I wished it couldn’t be a story.

This time, in Birmingham in Winter, it was brilliantly real.

The seats were the cheapo ones, very near to… the back of the arena. But I didn’t care so much about the seats, I had no intention of staying seated in mine anyhow. The arena lights dimmed and… There was no support band, just ‘Eyemou’ — an experimental film of close-ups on Robert Smith’s mouth and eyes, projected into a screen that covered the stage. The casuals were getting a bit restless during the film, but sixteen year old me was absolutely bloody loving it. The film was the magical bridge between the In Orange movie, and the actual, physical Cure i had yearned to experience live for so long.

I can still feel the goosebumps i felt then, when the opening bars of ‘The Kiss’ kicked in, and the screen dropped to reveal the band I would see again & again & again & again after that fateful first time. Robert’s voice opened like a flower and the crowd went bonkers. And it got better and better.

The next couple of hours were my induction into by now familiar Cure traits:

⁃ The mixed crowd of casuals (one guy was very disappointed they didn’t play The Lovecats and couldn’t believe it when i told him the band couldn’t play it live — true at that time) and die-hards.

⁃ the random b-side/obsCure-ity thrown in to the set to rapturous applause from those in-the-know (that night it was ‘A Japanese Dream’ that surprised the most, i’d been playing my copy to death in the run up to the show).

⁃ and Robert’s charming inability to do onstage banter (’ello! is sometimes the only decipherable phrase to be uttered by our hero).

The coach journey home was a blur as i replayed every note in my backcombed head. I was bewitched, besotted, bewildered — and utterly hooked.

But i’d have to wait until 1989, and The Prayer Tour, to see them again.

And that is another story.

See what The Cure played on 6th December 1987 here.

Follow The Cure on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and visit the official website.

Comment below with your Cure memories! I’d love to hear them!

ICYMI: Halloween Haunts – “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps…”

In case you missed it, this year’s Halloween Haunts series of blogs from members of the Horror Writers Association was chock full of treats.

My blog entry was on the subject of Friern Barnet Mental Asylum and its haunting influence on my new novel Greyfriars Reformatory.

Read on, brave souls, for the spooky scoop!

And follow the Halloween Haunts links for an entire October’s worth of tricks & treats.

Greyfriars Reformatory awaits…

ICYMI: Dark Dozen interview at Uncomfortably Dark

In case you missed it… I spill the spooky beans about my new novel Greyfriars Reformatory, discuss the darkest movie I’ve ever watched, reveal what scares me, and chat all things horror over at Uncomfortably Dark.

read on for the interview

(scroll down just below the book review).

My thanks to Candace Nola for hosting & posting! When you’re done reading the interview & review, be sure to check out Candace’s debut novel Breach.

ICYMI: Graveyard Shift

In case you missed it, my Halloween takeover of the Kendall Reviews graveyard is available for your reading pleasure.

In this ghoulish version of Desert Island Discs, I was asked to discuss 8 books and 1 music album that I’d choose to keep me company in the cemetery.

Can you guess my choices?

Thanks to all at Kendall Reviews for having me! And to you all, as ever, thanks for reading.

ICYMI: Greyfriars Reformatory book launch – live reading and Q&A (video)

In case you missed the Greyfriars Reformatory Halloween Special reading & book launch Q&A (which was streamed live over Zoom on Oct 28th) here’s a recording for you to enjoy!

With thanks to:
Seb Jenner & all at Hillingdon Literary Festival,
our M.C. Dr Emma Filtness & all at Brunel Writers Series,
the fab student readers (who read flash fiction from their charity anthology Robots Rogues & Revenants – available now, with all proceeds to NHS combined charities)
— and to all who tuned in. Hope you had a Happy Halloween & a safe Samhain.

Trick or treat: