Sunday, September 25, 2011

Author Interview - David Gatward

For a while now I've wanted to do a series of Q&As with my favourite authors of the macabre, those fiendish ones who see it as their duty to warp the minds of the young and innocent.

And now, thanks to a pact I may or may not have made with certain otherworldly entities, I present you the first in my Famous Last Words: Author Interview series!

The first body on the slab is David Gatward, author of the brilliant The Dead series (The Dead, The Dark and The Damned), and more recently the wonderful adventure e-books Booksurfers.

Let the interrogation begin!


Can you tell us a bit about your latest book?
It's my Booksurfers thing. Having done Treasure Island and Wizard of Oz it was very exciting to this time approach the legend that is Robin Hood. Why? Because I got to write not just the Booksurfers adventure, but my very own version of the Robin Hood legend! How ace is that? Er... very, actually! It's just come out this week, so seriously exciting. Next is A Christmas Carol, where I send the Booksurfers in to Dickens' great story. And, fingers crossed, there'll be more to come next year!

Why do you write horror?
I seem unable to escape the darker side of things! I can't dream up happy, nice stories. I like putting characters in a bad place and seeing how they react given their circumstances, views, beliefs. I also like monsters that bite your head off.

Have you ever had your own spooky experience?
Two ghosts seen! One was a man in a black suit under a large tree who appeared one sunny afternoon while I was mowing a lawn. The other was a woman in a blue dress who appeared in a caravan I was living in. Nice!

What would be written on your main character’s gravestone?
Don't give up your free will to Fate.

What is your favourite book of the past month? The past year? All time?
Past month = Swamp Foetus (Poppy Z Brite)
Past year = Let The Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist)
All time = Impossible to even begin to approach such a question!

What does your writing space look like?
I share an office with my wife, so in all honesty it's a little space I clear amongst her paperwork so I can put my laptop down on a desk! I dream of having my own little office, but space and £ are key factors! One day... oh yes...

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)

What are you working on right now? Or, if you’d prefer not to say, please tell me what’s going on in the Rorschach test:

I'm doing the edits for my next Hodder book, out next summer, working on a ghost-writing project due out next summer and which has to be finished for end December, working up a number of ideas I've got, and creating an entirely new breed of evil dog. Rorschach = a giant rat staring down at me hungrily...

David Gatward, thanks for spending a little time on the slab at Spinechills!

Find out more about David's books at or check out his facebook page here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Frightfully Good Festival

Have you ever seen the undead chair a book panel?

If you're finding yourself at a loss for what to do this Friday & Saturday, come on down to the Northcote Town Hall where the wonderful A Thousand Words Festival will be happening. It's a celebration of all things young adult books, so you know it will be great, plus yours truly will be speaking on and hosting a couple of panels. 

Check out the details here:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays

Uh, yep! On a Friday! Because sometimes my inability to remember the days of the week is... terrifying!

This week's quote is from Mammon, a fantastic demon horror book from first-time Australian author J.B. Thomas (review to come!):

Grace could feel the demon looking at her. She could see the frosty breath coming from the demon's mouth, could feel its chill climbing the walls. Despite the warning, she turned and met the inmate's gaze. They eyes seemed to radiate a wave of dark energy that hit her, bringing a cramp to her stomach and a burning sensation in her eyes. And the voice... the hissing, growling that seemed to echo inside her mind. She doubled over, clutching her stomach. 'She wants to kill me,' she whispered.

What, Didn't You Know Zombies Hibernate?

I've been braving the internet winter by quietly decomposing under a pile of leaf litter. While I do hate posts on blogs apologising for not maintaining content (since surely the time spent writing an apology could be used for writing a blog post) I feel compelled to write this to PLEAD with my many tens of readers to forgive me for my absence, and to basically fill you in on what I've been doing:
  1. I have been busy writing and editing my next book. It's called Bureau of Mysteries, and it's a steampunk puzzle adventure for 8 and ups which will be out Feb next year through Random House Australia under my HJ Harper name. It contains the following (though not necessarily in this order): 
    • Codes for you to solve alongside the story
    • A Mechanical Octopus
    • Sea Monsters
    • Ghosts
    • A Flying Dragon Machine
    • Puns Aplenty!
  2. At the same time, I have been on the board of a very cool festival called A Thousand Words Festival. It's a two day event celebrating YA literature, and it's got some fantastic authors such as Michael Pryor and Cath Crowley. Check out more about it here. I'll be hosting a couple of panels from things as diverse as blogging and whether or not you need a blog to get published, to an Iron Chef inspired live write-off, where two authors go head to head, and I get the audience to heckle them. Fun! Madness! Chaos!
So that is what I have been mostly doing with my time, Chilldren. Believe me when I say I have been DEATHLY missing staying in touch with the wonderful horror community, but, like the zombie I am, I will rise again soon from my brief nap, and you can expect a whole lot more reviews and some new Haunted Puppet Shows (this means you, Tommy Donbavand!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review - Dark Inside

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.
 Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.
 Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A compelling survival horror that puts an interesting spin on the zombie genre.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts. I love a good survival horror, and this certainly had me on the edge of my seat as I waited to see what would eventually happen to each of the characters. I liked the stories told through the eyes of the four different characters, and I especially enjoyed their moments of realisation that something was going seriously wrong in this world.

The 'zombies' in this book aren't the dead who have risen to walk the earth, but instead are regular people who have been infected with a kind of rage. I would've liked a little more explanation of how this came about, because even when you reach the end you're left asking more than a few questions, but this withholding of knowledge does serve to create a nice atmosphere of fear and helplessness.

What I particularly liked about this version of the apocalypse was the attention to detail, which is something that often gets overlooked in stories like these. The characters' need to change clothes because they smell (or got peed on), the crappy food they're forced to eat, and one character's death due to a pre-existing medical condition were all well thought out details that helped make this end of the world feel like a realistic one.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Horror New Releases

 These are the horror new releases for September.

What I'm Excited About: Something I constantly feel a little undwhelmed by is the amount of Australian kids' and YA horror that's being published (i.e. none). Well this month I have absolutely no reason to feel underwhelmed because there are two phenomenal horror titles from debut Aussie authors. I've already read Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart and I was absolutely blown away by the dark fantasy world within. I've just begun Mammon, but already I can see I'm going to love it. The writing is phenomenal, and the premise is one of those highly original and enthralling ideas you'll wish you had yourself!

Junior & Middle
The Considine Curse, Gareth P. Jones (Allen & Unwin).
Sounds Spooky, Cheng & Davis (Random).

Young Adult
Vampire Labyrinth: Oracle, G.P. Taylor (A&U).
Gamerunner, B.R. Collins (A&U).
Haunting Emma: Deception, Lee Nichols (A&U)
Daniel X: Demons and Druids, James Patterson (Ran).
Bloodsong: First Book of Lharmell, Rhiannon Hart (Ran).
Mammon, J.B. Thomas (Ran).
Vampirates 6: Immortal War, Justin Somper (Simon & Schuster).
Everfound, Neal Shusterman (S&S).
Fury, Elizabeth Miles (S&S).