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!
I had pitched the book to legendary horror editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester Publishing’s infamous Leisure Books imprint in 2009, and I was excited to receive a full manuscript request from Don by return. I submitted the book and waited anxiously for the outcome.
…and then Dorchester Publishing went under.
It was difficult not to take that as a sign. Ha ha!
But when Don D’Auria became Executive Editor of the new Horror line at Samhain Publishing, my manuscript followed him there. Don told me he loved the book and thought it would be a fine addition to the line.
Contracts were finalised 26th April 2011, and the e-book was published in November of that year, followed by the paperback in February 2012. An audiobook followed in 2016 (now out-of-print).
Things went a little bit crazy from there. The Lamplighters was selected as a Finalist in the Bram Stoker Awards for ‘Superior Achievement in a First Novel’ from all the horror debuts published that year. I enjoyed sitting up at 4:30am in freezing cold England, watching the Stoker Awards webcast broadcast live from the USA. Don had written to me prior to the awards ceremony and asked me for an acceptance speech ‘just in case’. I wrote some waffle about not winning because I knew I wouldn’t, and I didn’t, so that was that. But as I always say to my creative writing students: “Remember, it’s cooler to be nominated. Unless you win and then it’s cooler to win.”
The Lamplighters was a Finalist again, this time in the Book Pipeline Contest for books deemed suitable for film/TV adaptation, one of only 6 from almost 1,000 entries. I wrote a screenplay based on the novel, and that went on to be a Semi-finalist in the Screencraft Horror Screenplay Competition, from over 2,000 entries.
Close, but no close-up this time Mr DeMille.
I still think The Lamplighters would make for an excellent scary movie, but then I would think that, wouldn’t I? (Ha ha #2)
The book became my first translated work, with the Japanese edition published by TakeShobo in 2015. I was really thrilled about that, especially when I learned that the Tokyo-based publisher has Stephen King and the Star Wars books on its roster. Getting my author copy was a surreal experience, and it’s a very beautiful object, that edition. Hey you guys! My other books are available for translation, just sayin’.
And then, just as Dorchester Publishing had during my initial pitching of the book, Samhain Publishing went under. IT’S NOT MY FAULT, OKAY? STOP MAKING OUT LIKE IT’S SOME KIND OF WEIRD CURSE THAT FOLLOWS ME AROUND… (Ha ha #3).
I like to keep my work out there and available and soon after, I signed with Crossroad Press/Macabre Ink for all my Samhain backlist titles. My thanks to the two Davids at Crossroad for keeping my malformed offspring in circulation.
And so, without any further ado, here it is.
Ten years and a day since I became a fully signed-up novelist, a new 10th anniversary paperback edition of The Lamplighters is now available.
The nightmare continues!
And coming soon… There will be a limited edition hardcover, too.
Happy anniversary, old thing. My thanks to Don D’Auria & all at Samhain, to the two Davids at Crossroad Press, and to all my readers (yes, all 3 of you! Ha ha #4) and reviewers for the last ten years.
Here’s to a few more, eh?
About The Lamplighters:
Life on Meditrine Island is luxurious…but brief. Marla Neuborn has found the best post-grad job in the world—as a “Lamplighter” working on Meditrine Island, an exclusive idyllic paradise owned and operated by a consortium of billionaires. All Lamplighters have to do is tend to the mansions, cook and clean, and turn on lights to make it appear the owners are home. But the job comes with conditions. Marla will not know the exact location of the island, and she will have no contact with the outside world for the duration of her stay. Once on the island, Marla quickly learns the billionaire lifestyle is not all it is made out to be. The chief of security rules Meditrine with an iron fist. His private police force patrols the shores night and day, and CCTV cameras watch the Lamplighters relentlessly. Soon Marla will also discover first-hand that the island hides a terrible secret. She’ll meet the resident known as the Skin Mechanic. And she’ll find out why so few Lamplighters ever leave the island alive.
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.
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.
‘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 Programmehere.
And you can relive Norman J Warren’s greatest hits in this stonking Indicator Blu Ray box set.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands.
Stay safe out there, and keep others safe.
And if you need to borrow a flashlight, just scream!
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.
My blog post is about the importance of setting in my new horror novellas The Lilyth Mirror and The Lucifer Gate, both available now in The Daniel Gates Adventures Vol. 2 from Crossroad Press.
And when you’re done reading, be sure to peruse the other Halloween Haunts blog posts, which offer everything from author interviews and excerpts of new books, to writing advice and horror history – along with more great giveaways each day.
My thanks to the HWA (of which i am proud to be an Active Member) and Halloween Haunts editor Michele Brittany.
HWA Poetry Showcase Volume Five is edited by Stephanie M. Wytovich and co-curated by Jurors Mercedes M. Yardley and Michael Arnzen. It contains provocative and groundbreaking horror poets Donna Lynch, R.D. Lynch, Sara Tantlinger, and many more.
I’m honoured to have my first ever published poem Some Velvet Mourning included in this volume.
I can’t wait to read all the others! And I’m sure you can’t wait, either.