EightyThird Time: The Next Big Thing

November 7, 2012 at 10:27 am (Uncategorized)

Okay, so it’s been a year. I’ve been busy. No, really, I have. I’ve been made redundant, written a novel (more on that in future posts), lost some weight (a lot of weight actually), started to wear waistcoats and bolo ties and rediscovered my love of weird teas. I’ve applied for jobs, got very few (read: one!) interviews, done another Halloween reading (more later!), had a few more stories published, started a monthly column for the Impossible Podcast called The Bellows (why don’t you subscribe?) and generally tried to keep my head above water. And not written my blog. At all. However, my friend Stephen Volk nominated my as one of his Next Big Thing authors, and that seemed like a good way of restarting the blog… So, first of all you can see Steve’s answers here, and mine are pretty much….here:

1. What’s the working title of your next book?

The next one is called Strange Gateways – it’s a short story collection and it’s out from PS Publishing some time later this year. I delivered the final manuscript to PS just over a month ago, and the cover is being done by the great Jason van Hollander. Strange Gateways consists of eleven stories, four of which are new, plus story notes and afterword.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Because it’s a short story collection, it came from lots of different places – mostly from the things and people and places I saw (and still see) on a regular basis in my daily life. It’s about the tiny fears and fragilities of life, magnified through the lenses of monsters and ghosts and poetry and commuting communities.

3. What genre does the book fall under?

Horror. Although it’s maybe a less straightforward horror overall that Lost Places or Quiet Houses. There’s certainly some pulp terrors between Strange Gateways’ pages, but there’s some odder stuff going on as well…

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Again, as it’s a short story collection, this is a difficult question to answer, although I can give you some ideas. I think Eddie Marsan might be good as the lead character (Thorley) in the story ‘Mami Wata’, and I think Johnny Vegas (no, really) would be great as the lead character in ‘The Drunk’s Totem’.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It’s a collection of horror stories about the point where everyday life becomes some twisted and terrible and lethal.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s being published by PS Publishing, the UK’s leading small press. I don’t have an agent as yet, because there’s no real mainstream market for short stories, but I hope to have one in place for when my novel is finished.

7. How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?

It probably took about twelve months all in – the stories went through various drafts and rewrites. The longer period of time was between selling the complete collection to PS in March 2010 and it being published, such is the sheer deluge of great stuff that PS puts out…

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I wouldn’t, my stuff is unique…well, okay, there are hints (I think) of Fritz Leiber and TED Klein in there (both key influences on me) as well as Lovecraft and MR James. I’m not claiming to be in the same league as them you understand, merely that I’ve stolen their clothes and wear them with pride…

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Life. Frailty. Fear. My family. My friends. Self doubt and arrogance. Same old, same old, really.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Erm….it’s by me, and I’m great! Seriously, I think these stories are some of the best ones I’ve written, and they show me trying to expand where I look and how I address horror. The cover will be beautiful, as is all of Jason’s work, and any book by PS is a thing of gorgeousness in its own right. One of the stories, ‘Mami Wata’, was good enough to be reprinted in Stephen Jones Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 22, and I kill various members of my social circle in the stories. One of the people it’s dedicated to is Mike Harding, until recently of Radio Two’s folk show. Why? Buy it and see.

And finally: A reminder…

The people I’m going to tag might look like weird choices, but they’re not. I’m going to pick people who aren’t established or up and coming in the horror genre, partly because most of the authors I know are already tagged to do this by other people but also because I think it might be good to see how new writers are developing and what writers in other fields are doing: my choices (if they’ll do it!) are Norman Hadley, Mollie Baxter, Rosie L. Seymour, Dan Howarth and Dave Hutchinson. Over to you, guys…

Addendum: I mentioned my third annual Halloween reading, on behalf of Cancer Research, earlier on. As always, I’ve made some single story chapbooks to sell to support the charity, and there are two new ones this year: ‘The Pyramid Spider’ and ‘Photographs of Boden’. There are also copies of last year’s ‘Left Behind’ and the 2010 extended version (featuring new material) of the ‘The Pennine Tower Restaurant’. Each chapbook is £3.50 including postage and packing to the UK, with at least £1 from each chapbook sold going to Cancer Research UK, and if you buy all 4 I’ll discount them to £13 the lot. International postage is more, please message for details. The chapbooks were reviewed here.


  1. Peter Ford said,

    Excellent – enjoyable and inspiring update!
    Hope it all goes orbital.

  2. The Next Big Thing « Welcome to Black Balloon Horror said,

    […] Its been quite a while since I posted here. I have decided to start the Black Balloon up again and get myself up to speed after a kindly nudge in the right direction by an excellent writer chum, Mr Simon Kurt Unsworth. Simon was kind enough to give me a shout in his “Next Big Thing” post over on his blog. […]

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