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

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

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: 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…

View original post 508 more words

#GreyfriarsReformatory – haunting a blog near you!

The Greyfriars Reformatory blog tour is off to a whirlwind start comparable to the autumn weather here in blustery old Blighty, which saw branches flying and zoom calls crashing.

First up was the delightfully monickered Duckface Kim, who said, “This book was so vivid & so well written that I did find myself looking around a couple of times to make sure the Grey Girl wasn’t there” – check their full review here.

Then, Nightfall Mysteries made my book release day with this marvellous 5 star review of the book they’re calling, “A Fantastic #spookyread of this month!” I’m as giddy as a grey girl to read about how much they enjoyed the book!

And today, The Magic of Wor(l)ds kindly hosted me as part of the Fearless blog tour promotion — and let’s face it, you have to be feeling pretty fearless to read about The Grey Girl!

If you didn’t brave the haunted halls of Greyfriars Reformatory yet, you can pick up a copy in ebook, paperback or hardcover — if you dare!
https://frazerlee.wordpress.com/greyfriars-reformatory/

The blog tour is scaring up a storm up until Samhain, so keep haunting the web for updates:

Thanks for reading!

Best wishes,

Frazer x