writer/director: On Edge, Red Lines, The Stay.
screenwriter: Simone, Panic Button.
bram stoker award nominated author: The Lamplighters, The Daniel Gates Adventures, The Jack in the Green, The Skintaker, Hearthstone Cottage.
Amazing news to share today, The Stay has won Best Short Horror at Hollywood Blvd Film Festival 2022! This film has had quite the run and is still going strong. I’m really looking forward to making another one soon. 26 awards! Thanks to the festival organisers and to my amazing cast & crew & to all our wonderful supporters. Cheers, Frazer
Thirty(!) years ago today I was beside myself with excitement for a very special The Cure gig. Ahead of the full Wish Tour, the band announced a clutch of warm-up dates at club venues.
All the shows I had seen up to that point had either been in enormous arenas, or outdoor shows. The Kilburn National Ballroom was a relatively tiny venue for The Cure, and that only added to the feeling of anticipation. Seeing your #CultHeroes live is honour enough, but up close and personal? Even better.
The journey to seeing this gig was fraught. I was studying for a Journalism degree at the time and had an in-class assessment the day that tickets went on sale (at only £10 each!). In these pre-internet days phoning up to book tickets, or queuing in person, were the only options. The only person I knew who would want to go wasn’t able to queue up either, so I had to knuckle down and complete my class assessment while the clock ticked down and – you guessed it – the gig sold out.
First world problems, I know! (Hey, I was still very young back then.) And it turns out I passed the in-class assessment so there is that. I was trying to be responsible, even in the face of my borderline insane Cure obsession! And, luckily I was working a part-time job to support myself so I rolled up my baggy black sleeves, put in several extra hours and saved up some cash.
Long story short, the £10 ticket ended up costing me £60 on the night, but I had enough cash left over for a tour shirt and a couple of beers. People danced and sang along. There were promotional balloons! Happy the man, as the old b-side goes.
The gig itself was a loud, joyous, sweaty sprint through the amazing new double album Wish plus several hits and surprises. The crane camera swinging and floating above the crowd added a showbiz touch to proceedings, and from what I recall there was a fair bit of crowd-surfing going on during the faster numbers. (Hey, this was ’92, the golden age of grunge…)
I emerged from the tiny, packed out venue with a massive grin on my face. I would see The Cure a further nine times on the ’92 Wish tour, in those huge arenas again. But, as an intimate introduction to a massive tour, the 3rd May 1992 would be very hard to beat.
A wee glance over the shoulder at last year before embarking upon the challenges of the new.
2021 was a painful time for so many people struggling with the loss of loved ones during the pandemic, amidst safety restrictions that kept us at a distance from one another. (Meanwhile, the UK government was hosting piss-ups at Downing Street. I hope the electorate will never forget this, but I don’t hold out much hope. The UK has collective memory loss at the best/worst of times, and certainly whenever a general election comes around again. Oh well.)
After losing my dear friend Marcus Campbell Sinclair to cancer in December 2020, this year also hit hard. Norman J Warren, friend, mentor & collaborator, and my old band mate and good friend Paulo Turin both left us far too soon. (COVID-19 killed Paulo after three weeks in the care of medical staff in the ICU in Brazil.) My heart goes out to their families and friends. I know I’ll miss them a lot. Please get vaccinated & boosted if you can. Wear a mask. Just do. Take good care of yourselves and others.
Like many, I found it hard to keep motivated creatively during 2021. My University teaching workload more than doubled with colleagues on sabbatical or off sick, and the pressures of online learning provision left little time or headspace for creative work. That said, it was still a pretty good year. I was promoted from Senior Lecturer to Reader. I supervised a student charity anthology – and Covid safety measures even relaxed enough to allow for a launch party event, which was a great way to reunite with the students and to celebrate their efforts. I wrote two feature length screenplays, published two short stories, and released a CD soundtrack (also in support of NHS charities). I published limited edition hardcovers of my back catalogue of novels. And I began work on my next novel, due out this year.
Film-wise, it was exciting to see so many film festivals coming back online and my folk horror film The Stay screened at 15 events, garnered 4 nominations and won 10 awards including Best Short at V.i.Z. Bulgaria, Best Short at Medusa Film Festival, Best Short at Cinestesya Portugal, and Best Horror at 4th Dimension in Bali. A pretty amazing year!
I enjoyed reading new (to me) voices such as Christa Carmen and Clare Castleberry, and re-reading some old classics this year (the highlights being Frank Herbert’s Dune, and F. Paul Wilson’s The Keep). Movies and box sets too numerous to mention kept the freak flag flying, and I was glad to be back in the cinema again for Dune, Halloween Kills, and the new Spidey adventure. The live immersive theatre of Doctor Who: Time Fracture made me feel like my bony old self again. Albums of the year were supplied by CHVRCHES, Duran Duran, and John Carpenter. Much as I tried to enjoy online gigs, a welcome return to real world concert-going couldn’t have come a moment sooner, with trips out-out to see The Sisters and The Nephs. 2022 is promising a full-blown tour (and maybe even an album!) by The Cure and I for one cannot wait.
Looking ahead to 2022, I am hoping that Chillercon UK will finally happen in-person. Contemporary Folk Horror in Film & Media (at Leeds Beckett) looks set to be an online event. That new novel I was talking about above will be published around Springtime. I won’t talk about other projects here… because i’ve learned the hard way that the more you talk them up, the less likely they are to happen!
So I’ll sign off for now by wishing a happy, healthy new year 2022 to you all!
Thanks so much to anyone who took the time to big up my film at a festival, or picked up one of my books and posted a rating/review on Goodreads or Amazon, liked/shared a post, or sent encouraging words or thank yous.
I appreciate the support more than you can ever know.
My thanks to the organisers of Shockfest 2021 for selecting my award winning folk horror film The Stay to screen in Las Vegas in Official Selection.
You can join haunted host Bill Oberst Jr. on December 10th live from Las Vegas for this year’s Ghost Ship themed event. Online event tickets are available here and the frightening fun begins at 18:30 (PST).
It’s great to be rounding off this year’s festival screenings at Shockfest. My thanks again to everyone involved in making it happen, and congrats to all the other filmmakers and creators!
In my last post from Castle Dracula I promised you a 2nd reading from my forthcoming Damnation: The Gothic Game tie-in novel… and here it is!
Spoiler alert though — this reading includes an early death scene from the book, so if you prefer to wait and find out who comes a cropper and when, avoid hitting ‘play’ on the video below my exclusive interview about the book.
Today marks the last day of the Kickstarter campaign for Damnation: The Gothic Game, so if you want to get your claws on a copy of the game & my book, plus some very cool perks, make a deal with the devil now!
Many of us have felt like this spider, clinging on for dear life during what has been a very challenging year:
But some of us are lucky enough to be emerging from our solitude – for a while, at least! And for that I, for one, am truly thankful. As the veil grows thinner this weekend I’ll be thinking of those I’ve lost to Covid-19, cancer, and old age this year, and finding ways to carry some of their light into the dark corners of the year ahead.
I think it’s very true to say that horror fans take great solace in spooky season. (It’s also true all year round, I know, but October is THE special month for many). And whether it’s an opportunity to party with family/fiends, go trick or treating, or hunker down and watch some scary movies (or all of the above!) I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all Spooky Samhain blessings, a Happy Halloween, a very merry little Goth Xmas, or whatever macabre moniker is the best fit for you!
And by way of a modest treat (or trick?) for this year, I have recorded the first ever reading from my new tie-in novel Damnation: The Gothic Game, with another to follow soon. Check it out below, or over at the Damnation Kickstarter, where you can pick up a copy along with the game.
I hope the extract gives you pleasant nightmares! And if it does, perhaps it is testament to how important it is right now to treat yourselves, and those that you love.
Because if we try, we can also feel like this spider – feasting on the stuff of life – if only for one, perfectly spooky night:
As you all know, I’ve been working on something top secret and super spooky.
Now, at long last, I can reveal what it is…
But first, a little background info if you’ll indulge me.
Damnation: The Gothic Game is a brilliant new version of my all-time favourite board game. The original Gothic Game was created by ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ screenwriter Robert Wynne Simmons and Nigel Andrews, and became a horror fan favourite when it was released back in the 1990s.
My own experience with The Gothic Game began when I was working at The London Dungeon (where my Saturday job was scaring the life out of tourists!). The Marketing Manager popped down and said they had this preview copy of this creepy new game. He asked me to take it home and play it, and tell him if I thought it would be a good addition to the gift shop. The concept of the game took competitive play to dastardly new levels with the aim being to kill all the other players on the board. Terry Jones of Monty Python fame said, “This game will make you turn in your grave!” And of course it did! For me, it was love at first bite and I played it every Halloween after that fateful night.
Damnation, the updated version from Kris Rees & his talented team atBlackletter Games, expands beautifully on the original with a cast of cunning characters, tons of new traps, weapons, and artefacts, and also the added attraction of being able to haunt the other players from the graveyard if you get bumped off!
So what’s my part in this exciting revamp (pun intended!), you ask? Well, I’ve been hard at work in my candlelit crypt writing the official novelisation of Damnation: The Gothic Game, and you can pick up a copy as part of a crowdfunding perk over at the game’s official Kickstarter, launching today! I’ve always wanted to write a Dracula story, especially one with a unique twist, so this book is a nightmare come true for me.
Here’s the book synopsis and cover concept reveal to whet your bloodthirsty appetite:
The Carpathian Mountains, 1897. An impassable storm forces a group of travellers to disembark from their steam train and take shelter in a remote castle for the night. Their enigmatic host invites them to take part in some after-dinner entertainment. But as they each explore the castle’s rooms and passageways they discover they have become part of a deadly game. Only one guest may leave in the morning and it is up to each of them to use their wits, and weapons, to survive the night. For the others, Damnation awaits.
Check out the game trailer for a full icy blast of gothic atmosphere, then proceed to the Kickstarter page to make your blood pact with Count Dracula himself!
The game & book are both due to be unleashed in 2022, so I hope to see you all soon… in the graveyard!