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:

Spooky Samhain Blessings & a Happy Halloween! 🎃

It’s carving time, boils & ghouls!

Way back in March, as the wheel of the world turned in an altogether surprising direction, these little pumpkin seeds were planted…

Aww, ickle babies!

With offerings and incantations to the ancients, they blossomed… and grew… (swipe/scroll to see more below)

And look at them now! All grown up and ready to have their guts ripped out before carving…

At this most special, and spookiest time of year, the veil between worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Today I am honouring our dear departed — and also looking forward to the life after the death.

When the lights have fizzled out in the eyes of the jack o’lanterns, their flesh will rot down into compost — and nourish newly planted pumpkin seeds of life. The wheel of the world will turn again, in anticipation of next October… and next Halloween!

However you celebrate, be safe & be well.

Spooky Samhain blessings & a Happy Halloween to you all, & to all a good night! Frazer x

Chicago Review of Books: Well-Paced Suspense in “Greyfriars Reformatory”

Chicago Review of Books on Greyfriars Reformatory:

“Greyfriars Reformatory delivers on suspense and a classic asylum setting that brings to mind novels like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest… the teen characters are three-dimensional, and the story is anchored by a strong sense of atmosphere”

Chicago Review of Books

In Frazer Lee’s Greyfriars Reformatory, Emily Drake has no memory of what she did to get sent to the imposing brick institution she first sees looming before her through the window of a prisoner transport bus. It will be her prison until and unless she submits to experimental psychological treatment designed to cure her of a danger within herself of which she is not consciously aware. She’s among a group of shackled teen girls being shipped to Greyfriars for “rehabilitation.” In their lives outside, they were dismissed as hopeless, psychopathic screw ups. But at Greyfriars, they have the opportunity to heal and earn themselves a life beyond the institution’s lichen-laced walls if they only follow strict rules and ignore any spectral inmates who climb into bed with them at night.

This is the sixth novel by Lee, who is also a screenwriter and filmmaker. His novel, The Lamplighters was…

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Brunel Writers Series: Halloween Special #GreyfriarsReformatory #RobotsRoguesandRevenants

Join me on Wednesday October 28th from 3-4pm (GMT) for a special live online event presented by Brunel Writers Series in association with Hillingdon Literary Festival.

Creative Writing students from Brunel University London will read flash fiction from their horror/sci-fi-fantasy charity anthology Robots, Rogues & Revenants, and I will read from, and answer your questions about, my latest horror novel Greyfriars Reformatory.

Tickets are free, and you can book yours here.

Look forward to spooking you at the perfect paranormal primer for Halloween!

Beast witches,
Frazer