WATTPAD BOOKS · Writer Wednesday

Review Time! Bleeder by Monica Kuebler

Hello bloggers, writers, friends and readers,

As you know I’ve been pretty much engrossed in the world of Wattpad for some time now, much to the chagrin of my poor neglected WordPress blog and so recently I decided that the best way to combat this was to combine the two. Why not bring some of the wonders of Wattpad over here and review some of my favourite stories?

I’ve lost count recently of how many times I’ve been told by my readers that they had become disillusioned with vampire fiction, mostly due to those sparkly fangsters and the subsequent saturation of the market that followed with writers churning out glossy vamp slush in a bid to emulate Meyer’s success. Many readers have said how refreshing it has been to finally read vamp stories that have a bit of bite about them (sorry, couldn’t resist). But I have to admit, this leaves me feeling slightly dismayed, because when you start to say how refreshing you find stories that focus on the original idea of vampires as dark works of horror, you realise that maybe something has gone very awry with people’s perception of vampire fiction.

Readers are expecting glitter, romance and a touch of piano-playing. They’re no longing anticipating blood, gore and a touch of the heebie-jeebies.

Well, in answer to that, I give you Bleeder, the first novel in the Blood Magic Saga by Canadian author Monica Keubler. Monica, by day the managing editor of horror magazine Rue Morgue and by night the mighty dark goddess of the pen, knows a thing or two about blood, gore and the heebie-jeebies. In fact, she’s an expert on all three and what’s more is that she’s definitely not scared to prove that horror does have a place in the Young Adult market. Yeah, teens like horror, who knew? And whether you’re a teen or an adult who loves YA, I will guarantee that Bleeder will restore your faith in vampire fiction.

Readers, meet Mildred Millhattan. Or Mills to her friend, of which she doesn’t have many admittedly. Mills is a slightly awkward, almost-sixteen year old, who might be invisible to most of her classmates, but actually turns out to be part of an underground world that isn’t just invisible to her peers, it’s unbelievable too. It’s a world of myth, fantasy, sorcery and the supernatural and Mills is about to be thrown right into the middle of it in spectacular and bloodied fashion.

Pulled out of school abruptly by her parents one day during an algebra exam, Mills is taken to a remote cabin in the Nevada desert and discovers that not only have they lied to her about this spontaneous road trip, but they’ve been lying to her for her whole life. Heartbroken and lost, Mills is struggling to deal with her world crashing down around her ears when strangers descend on the cabin and life suddenly gets a hell of a lot darker.

Now is is where it gets really interesting. Forget what you think you know about vampires in YA novels. Think unrelentingly cruel. Think brutality to the point you will grimace. Think monsters with long nails, sunken cheekbones and an insatiable desire for blood. Think about the stuff of nightmares who keep their victims shackled in caged cells so they can feed on them…again and again and again. And we haven’t even touched on the King of the Nosferatu himself yet. Over seven feet tall, burning red eyes and draped in a cape decorated with human bones, YA hasn’t ever seen the like of this type of monster before, trust me.

Locked up in her torture chamber, Mills discovers that not only is her blood – the blood of a sorcerer – a much-desired delicacy, she is about to become a bleeder to the King himself. And if you thought the vampires were unrelenting, then Monica herself is (thankfully) unrelenting in her description of Mills’ torment as she is fed upon by the King until she’s nothing but a glorified pin-cushion who is starting to give up the fight. It’s beautifully gruesome, horribly cruel and wonderfully captivating because she dares to go where others who write YA often fear to tread.

Just when we start to think Mills has lost all hope, she acquires a new visitor to her cell, a vampire unlike all the others she has had the misfortune to meet so far.

Keel is the skinny teenage son of the King, who is yet to go through his transformation into Nosferatu but who is still a vampire nevertheless. Drawn to Mills’ cell out of boyish curiosity, Keel begins to secretly visit Mills and the two form an uneasy relationship, and surprisingly the vampire prince becomes Mills’ only chink of light in an unfathomable darkness.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Keel is about to become your archetypal YA hero. When we first meet Keel, there’s a touch of immaturity and arrogance about him (well he is destined to be King one day) and he definitely doesn’t know the meaning of personal space, in fact his matter-of-fact insistence on feeding from Mills borders on downright sinister. But as the story progress we get to see his rebellious nature and his strength and we come to realise that while he is undoubtedly a vampire, there’s far more to Keel than we are first led to believe.

Together they discover that their growing bond has less to do with two natural enemies who happen to harbour a strange fascination for each other, but something far deeper than either of them could ever imagine, something that will change both their worlds forever and set them apart from their own kind in a way that leaves them struggling to work out where they do really belong.

All in all, Monica gives us a captivating discourse on friendship, loneliness and trust, all set against the most wickedly dark backdrop. It’s a world painted vividly in all its gruesome splendour, with characters who constantly surprise the reader and leave us wondering just who can be counted on and who cannot. The history between the Nosferatu and the sorcerers is detailed and interesting which allows for a really fresh take on the vampire myth, while sticking to the more traditional roots of the vampire as the monster. The relationship between our main protagonists is addictive and it’s very hard not to root for these two fabulously intriguing characters.

Bleeder is truly a compelling read and whether you’re a teen looking for something a little darker, a little grittier and a little bloodier than the norm, or you’re an adult who loves reading YA but prefers a horror twist, then this is absolutely the book for you.

Five out of five blood-splattered stars!

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Please do go check out Bleeder here on Wattpad:

http://www.wattpad.com/story/856099-bleeder-blood-magic-book-1

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Writer Wednesday

Release Day!! Blood Roses by Lindsay J Pryor

Happy Friday dear bloggers, readers, writers and friends.

Yes it’s Friday at last and not only is it Friday, but it’s Friday 26th April and this means it’s finally release day for Lindsay J Pryor’s eagerly anticipated second Blackthorn novel, Blood Roses. 

Regular readers of my blog would have seen my previous review of Lindsay’s first novel Blood Shadows and if you haven’t read the review, or the book, please do go read both.

If the exhilarating ride of a read that was Kane and Caitlin’s story wasn’t enough to keep us going for quite some time, the second novel set in the deliciously dark world of Blackthorn is back with the tale of Caleb and Leila and it looks to be just as thrilling as the first book.

As a devoted fan of the Blackthorn series and of Lindsay (well she is a Kings of Leon fan too), I’ve been fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of all the brilliant Blackthorn Bites and artwork created for Blood Roses and I’ve got to say it’s just stunning and has whipped me up into even more of a frenzy.

And so to celebrate the occasion and give you all a taste of how wonderful this series is, here is the first of many Blackthorn Bites and  I’ll be posting a few more over the next week or so and there will be a review coming up hopefully over the next few days.

Blood Roses is available to buy from today via iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon.

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WATTPAD BOOKS · Writer Wednesday

#WriterWednesday – The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

Evening friends, bloggers, readers and weirdos.

Technically this is no longer a #WriterWednesday post seeing as its now Thursday, however I started writing this yesterday and never had time to finish as Dallas was calling me (the programme, not the city) so I had to call it quits for the night. Maybe instead I should call it #WattpadWorship seeing as this is my second review this week for one of my wonderful Wattpad finds!

I’ve mentioned The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden before, as some of you may remember me talking about discovering this stunning novel on Wattpad a while ago and I was hooked from page one. Novels like TCG (as I like to cheekily abbreviate it, sorry Alys) and The Key to Erebus (reviewed earlier this week) make me feel honoured to be a part of something like Wattpad – a site so popular that even published authors like Margaret Atwood, Marian Keyes and David Moody are now dipping their toes into the Wattpad waters – because they show what amazingly talented writers are out there just trying to get their work to the masses and doing a damn fine job of it too. Also it’s novels like these that send me into a frenzy of jealousy because of how fabulous they really are so if you haven’t yet wandered into the Wattpad world, The Casquette Girls would be a wonderful place to start your journey……

Set in a hurricane-aftermath New Orleans (although Alys is keen to emphasis this is not based on Katrina) Adele Le Moyne is on her way home following a mandatory evacuation when the storms hit, having spent the past two months in Paris with her difficult, distant mother and she’s not quite sure what she’s going back to.

Adele and her father move back into their storm-battered family home and set about trying to get the house into some kind of order and re-establish their lives in a devastated city, where dangers seem to lurk dangerously in the shadows. Since the storm, crime within the city has increased and the death rate is steadily increasing as bodies start turning up – deaths that might not have been results of the hurricane and in fact, caused by something even more sinister than the evil storm.

Soon, Adele learns that these mysterious deaths are not the only strange things happening when odd, supernatural events start occurring around her in particular; which lead her to discover that she is part of something much bigger than the storm and its something that started with one of her ancestors Adeline, back in 18th century Paris.

With vivid historical flashbacks via Adeline’s diary letters to her father, Alys successfully weaves an intoxicating mix of old with new, and gives the reader a stunning backdrop to understanding just who Adele is and why she is suddenly caught up in this edge-of-your-seat mystery of witchcraft, vampires and shape-shifters.

Being a Brit, I’m always a little bit in love with any novel set in a place where it’s highly likely I will never go and when novels are set in New Orleans, it’s fair to say I’m reeled in rather easily – which is why TCG reminded me a little of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles as it took me back to a world I hadn’t read about since I’d dallied with Lestat and Louis. What’s even more alluring about TCG is that Alys is a master at painting beautiful pictures with her words; her descriptive abilities are second to none and despite never having visited New Orleans in my life, I almost felt I had seen it for myself, so detailed is Alys’ depiction of the city.

With so many vibrant and mysterious characters pouring out of every page, you will have a hard job working out which one you love the most and lets not even get on to the battle between Isaac and Nicco; a reader discussion which still continues to cause quite a stir on Wattpad!

On reading this (which I’m quite sure you will now do), you will be forgiven for wondering why the hell The Casquette Girls isn’t yet published, however with almost half a million reads, I don’t think it will be too long before we see it gracing our bookstores. Until then, you can read it free – YES FREE!!! – on Wattpad and when this one does make it, I’ll be pleased to say I was a fan long before it hit the stores 🙂

Five out of five, Alys!!!

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WATTPAD BOOKS · Writer Wednesday

Review time! The Key To Erebus – Emma Leech

Afternoon friends, writers, readers and weirdos

Time for another rare review from yours truly, this time for another Wattpad devotee, Emma Leech and her fab novel The Key To Erebus.

The Key To Erebus was the first offering that I read from a fellow Wattpadder and also probably the first ever vampire/paranormal fiction I’ve read where the action is set in somewhere other than the UK or the U.S. I loved the backdrop of the Dordogne countryside and found it to be a refreshing break from the norm and one that immediately caught my attention. I mean, vampires and witches in the French countryside? Really? Yeah, why the hell not!

Immediately we are introduced to our main protagonist, Jehenne, somewhat a troubled girl, suffering from nightmarish visions of the future and around whom strange things tend to happen and strange ghostly figures tend to appear. After too many disagreements with her parents, Jehenne takes herself off to stay with her eccentric, odd grandmother; a lady who has her own herb room, has a penchant for croissants, reads tarot cards and doesn’t bat an eyelid when ghosts pop in for a chat. That’s right, Ines Corbeaux is a witch and Jehenne finds out she has definitely inherited the family abilities; in fact she’s a pretty damn good witch, only she doesn’t quite know this yet.

Not long after taking root in her grandmother’s home, Jehenne is soon thrust into the dangerous and unpredictable world of supernatural creatures: shape-shifters, faeries (not quite the Tinkerbell-like cuties you might expect), ghouls, sirens and vampires.

Talking of vampires, step forward elder vamp Corvus, dangerous, sexy and powerful and more than a little miffed when he learns of Jehenne’s existence seeing as she looks more than a bit like his long-lost beloved.

When a fledgling vampire kills a keeper; protector of one the supernatural worlds most precious artefacts, the whole supernatural council is called into session and all fingers start pointing towards the vampires themselves, and Corvus and Jehenne are reluctantly thrown together in the mission to discover the perpetrator. Throw in a serious grudge against Corvus from Ines and an unwanted attraction to the vampire her grandmother would like to see dead, you just know Jehenne’s troubles have only just begun.

What I loved most about Erebus, is that you never quite know who to trust. None of the characters are quite what they appear to be on the surface, there are many secrets, many lies and danger lurking around every corner which keeps you turning page after page, desperate to know who is telling the truth and who is the enemy.

Jehenne is feisty, strong-willed and independent with just that right amount of vulnerability you need to keep you rooting for her right to the very end and Corvus is fantastically alluring as the lead vamp. Chuck in the ghoulishly wonderful Londoner, Rodney with all his ‘blimeys’ and ‘luvs’ to add in a hint of humour and the whole novel is a recipe for a real page-turning romp of wicked proportions.

If you’re looking for a read that has all the right elements to keep you on the edge of your seat and characters you’ll fall in love with, then The Key To Erebus is the one for you!

Five out of five, Emma. Fabulous stuff!

Emma’s novel, The Key To Erebus, is available to read via Wattpad or you can also buy from Amazon currently for free!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Key-Erebus-Corbeaux-ebook/dp/B009OEKJ0E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1365252896&sr=1-1&keywords=the+key+to+erebus

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Writer Wednesday

RIP James Herbert

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Usually my #WriterWednesday posts are joyous affairs; a fanfare celebration of a writer that I love, whether that be an all-time favourite author or a newly discovered writer just starting their career.
But today, I come to you with no fanfare because I discovered that my favourite author of all-time sadly passed away this morning.

Those of you who have visited these pages before, will know that James Herbert is my hero. I was fortunate to meet him at a book signing last year, an occasion now which seems more poignant and special than I ever thought it could be and I can’t help but feel blessed that, after years of fandom, I finally got the opportunity to meet the man I had worshipped since I was just eleven years old. He was my hero in the same way that rock stars and movie stars are people’s heroes. And that probably sounds weird to some, because he was no poster boy and even he would have been the first to admit that, but I still fangirled over him nevertheless.

I could wax lyrical now about James’ undoubted talent and how many copies each of his international best sellers sold throughout the world, but those are the facts that anyone can read on Wikipedia.

What I can tell you is what he meant to me, as a writer.

On ‘borrowing’ my dad’s copy of Domain in the summer of my eleventh year, I took root in my parents back garden, laid out in the sunshine and read until my skin went alarmingly scarlet and my head was full of wondrous pictures of giant rats, post-apocalypse London and sewer tunnels. Every single word gripped me, I turned page after page after page and when it was done, I went back and read it all over again. Lets not forget that I was only eleven and had graduated from Enid Blyton (incidentally one of James’ favourite authors) to fully-fledged adult horror overnight. It’s fair to say there was probably something forbidden about that book for an eleven year old girl but after that day I drank in every word of James’ that I could find and on that day my love for horror fiction was set in stone, like some divine commandment.

Thou shalt read horror fiction.

When I think about everything I have ever written, I know that James Herbert has always been there, in the back of my mind. I can’t help but be shaped as a writer by everything of James’ that I have ever read. His stories just have this way of taking hold, of getting under my skin, until they’re engrained in everything I write. I don’t kid myself that my writing is anything like his, that’s not what I mean at all (although the day someone on Wattpad commented on my short story The Stairwell and said how she felt it came straight from the school of James Herbert, I’ll admit to doing a happy dance around the room). But I know that without James, I would not even be a writer.

And it really is as simple as that. I picked up the pen because of him. I continue to write because of him. And I will always write because of him.

I like to think that not only did James leave a legacy of so many amazing books, but that he spawned a whole generation of new writers whether that be successful, published writers but also people like me, who might dream of becoming published one day but are also happy just to write. It’s not an easy thing, putting words down on paper. It requires a bit of confidence, a bit of self-belief and a bit of devil-may-care because writing is a bit like making a confession. You know you need to do it, you need to confess, but opening your mouth and speaking that first word is a bit like taking a great leap over the devil’s chasm of hellfire. And sometimes you just need a little push; something to make you say ‘I can do this.’

For me, James Herbert was that push. Reading his books gave me that encouraging shove I needed to finally put pen to page and just write. And for that I will be forever grateful.

Thank you JH. RIP you lovely man.

Writer Wednesday

#WriterWednesday – Lindsay J. Pryor – Cover Real ‘Blood Roses’

HAPPY WRITER WEDNESDAY EVERYONE!

I wanted to drop in with a Writer Wednesday post about an author I have spoken to you all about before – Lindsay J. Pryor, author of the wonderfully wicked Blood Shadows (of which I reviewed on here previously) and soon-to-be-published Blood Roses.

Blood Roses is to be published via Bookoutre on 26th April 2013 and although the cover has been floating around online for a little while, and apparently viewed over 2,500 times on Facebook, I thought I would add the cover to my site, one) because I’m so excited about the upcoming release date and two) because I think the covers for the Blackthorn series are just beautiful. They’re simple yet stunning and totally draw in the reader immediately and let’s not get started on the amazing words you will find from front cover to back!

If you read my review of Blood Shadows, you will know that I’m a big fan already and I hope I encouraged you to go check it out. If I did, then wonderful and here’s a little teaser introduction on what to expect from Blood Roses:

“She was supposed to kill vampires, not save them.  Those were the rules.  That was the lore.”

A rare and powerful witch whose blood is lethal to vampires, Leila has always viewed her serryn abilities as a curse.  After seeing her mother slaughtered as a child, Leila longs for a safe, quiet life.

That wish is shattered by Caleb Dehain – a vampire with a dark past and a darker heart.  The most feared serryn hunter of his generation, Caleb now needs the help of one of the witches he despises to save his dying brother.

A serryn who has no reason to help him.  Except that he has her sister.

Caleb and Leila are each other’s worst nightmare – but the slow-burning spark of attraction between them is undeniable.  Will Leila’s blood be his damnation?  Or could her kiss be his salvation?

If that wasn’t enough to tempt you (and I don’t know why it wouldn’t) then here’s the cover in full glorious colour! Go bathe in its beauty. And then read the book on 26th April 🙂

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Writer Wednesday

Dance on Fire by James Garcia Jr. – a review ( and apology)

 

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Two WordPress posts in one day! This is unheard of!

Maybe I should embrace snow days more often as it appears they render me more productive than usual 😉

Anyway it’s time for me to review. As you know I’m guilty of not doing these as much as I should and this is certainly the case with Dance on Fire by James Garcia Jr. I read this book probably back in September of last year and have promised Jimmy a review ever since. To be honest, I think he’s probably given up hoping I might finally put words to page in honour of his first novel, but a promise is a promise.

And also, of course, when you read something you enjoy, it’s only right you give it a damn good shout-out.

Dance on Fire takes place in the small town of Kingsburg, California and centres around Detective Michael Lopez, his wife Barbara and their children; ten year old Jerod and infant twins Robbie and Rebekah. The town and its residents are preparing for the annual Swedish festival, only this year, it’s not just the tourists heading into town. Darkness has arrived in Kingsburg, and quickly makes its presence known by brutally attacking and killing two police officers.

Soon, more bodies turn up and Detective Lopez and his colleagues fear they have a serial killer on the loose…albeit one who drains his victims dry and decapitates them. This is definitely no relative of the Cullen clan. Hailing from Romania and from the very castle built by Vlad Tepes himself, Vincent is the vampire we all learned to fear when we were children. He is, quite simply, the beast of our nightmares; cruel, merciless, violent and evil. Drawn to Kingsburg in search of his ‘son’, Nathaniel, Vincent leaves nothing but mutilated bodies in his path as he seeks to find the man he imprisoned as a boy and whom he eventually turned into a vampire; so desperate he was for a companion.

The hunt is on and Jimmy does a great job of sowing those seeds of doubt in your mind where Nathaniel is concerned. With dead bodies turning up left, right and centre and the police force in a state of panic, you’re never really sure whether the beautiful Nathaniel is part of the murder trail or whether he just happens to be in the wrong town at the wrong time.

With edge-of-your-seat action and nail-biting events, Jimmy leads you on a chase around town, where you’re desperate to find out where the evil will strike next, and is it turns out, the danger is always much closer than you think.

Okay, let me just point out this is a vampire novel with a difference. These days when you can’t turn the page without bumping into a hot sparkly vampire or a bit of paranormal erotica, it’s refreshing to find a novel without either. Okay, so I’m lying a little bit as tortured-soul vampire Nathaniel is pretty hot, but what I liked about Dance on Fire is that it does lean towards original vampire legend where the vampires are more likely to drain you dry and rip your head off, rather than sleep with you.

Yes, I know, vampire erotic fiction is incredibly popular, but surely there are still readers out there who just want a damn good vampire novel without anyone messing too much with the traditional myth?

One thing I must admit I was never sure about, was the religious element to Dance on Fire. Jimmy refers to the novel as a ‘Christian/horror crossover’ and prior to reading it, I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work or whether I would even like it, not being overly religious myself. The Christian thread focuses around Barbara Lopez and is mostly concerned with how she uses her faith to pull her through certain situations. Surprisingly, this didn’t bother me at all and I would urge it not to put you off either as it certainly isn’t done in a way where you feel religion or Christianity is being shoved down your throat.

Instead, overall, I was left with a sense of family, a sense of belonging, of finding oneself, of love and sacrifice. And some bloody suspenseful good-versus-evil battles and a few more casualties along the way 🙂

Okay, so if you’re only into vampire erotica, this probably isn’t the book for you, but if you remember the myth before vampires got all sexy, then I would definitely recommend this as something different and refreshing to read amidst a sea of sparkly vamps.

Great work Jimmy and apologies for taking way too long to tell you how much I enjoyed it!

Writer Wednesday

I can’t tell you all how excited I am for Michelle Muto’s new book! Having read Michelle’s Don’t Fear The Reaper and The Book of Lost Souls, I know this book is not going to disappoint and destined to be a big success. Michelle has a real talent for reeling in her readers with fantastic story lines, captivating characters and edge-of-your-seat action. Please keep your eyes peeled for the release date!

Michelle Muto

I haven’t kept it a secret that I’ve been working on a new book. But until now, I haven’t shared much information. But the time has come to spill the beans. The new book is titled: The Haunting Season. The cover artist is no other than the fab Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations. The Haunting Season is  Mature YA due to sexual content, language, and some violence. Before anyone asks, no – The Haunting Season is NOT a sequel to either The Book of Lost Souls or Don’t Fear the Reaper. Those are still in the works. I’ll update this post with the release date shortly. Stay tuned! And of course, if you’d like to be part of the cover release or the book tour, drop me a note.

Here’s the premise of The Haunting Season:

Be careful what you let in…

Siler House has…

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Writer Wednesday

#WriterWednesday – On Meeting James Herbert

Happy #WriterWednesday everyone!

As you may have realised there was no #MusicMonday post this week, I was too busy getting myself all worked up into a nervous ball of excitement over finally getting to meet with  one of my all-time heroes, James Herbert!

James held an event at Foyles Charing Cross in honour of the publication of his new novel, Ash which I may have previously mentioned just a few times on this blog 😉

I had never been to one of these author meet n greets before, having decided at the last-minute not to attend the Anne Rice event at the same Foyles store last year (yeah, I know, what was I thinking?) so I was not quite sure what to expect. How many people would there be? Would I get to speak to him? If I did, what on earth do you say to your favourite literary rock star?

To be honest, until I received the reminder email from Foyles on Monday, I couldn’t quite get my head around the fact I was actually going to meet James. I read and re-read the confirmation email more times than I care to admit, quite certain I had missed the small print at the bottom:

By the way, if your name is Lindsey Clarke, you have probably received this email by mistake as you’re NEVER going to get the chance to meet James Herbert. Foolish woman. Muah-ha-ha. Yours laughing hysterically, The Foyles Team.  

Thankfully, it was not a cruel hoax and I did actually have a place reserved for the event, and so yesterday, tanked up on Nando’s (other chicken restaurants are available) and diet coke (but of course), I skipped like a child along Charing Cross Road with my friend Kazbah by my side. Arriving to find a room packed out with up to two hundred people, we fitted ourselves snuggly into the back row of The Gallery in Foyles and waited for the great man to appear.

Okay, I have to admit at this point that I had been worried whether or not he would be the man I expected him to be. I’ll be honest, whilst I am a HUGE fan of his books, I don’t know a great amount about the man himself. I knew he grew up in the East End of London, I knew he also loved to paint, draw and play the guitar, I knew he had a wife and three daughters, but apart from that, I knew very little about him before last night’s event.  I guess it’s a bit like meeting a stand-up comedian in some ways; you expect them to be just as funny in real life as they are on the stage, but more often than not, in real life, they are actually dour miseries because cracking jokes is just what they do for a living. So what would James be like? Would he be friendly? Would I like him? Would I be inspired?

Well, in answer to that, I say a big resounding YES to all three!

With an opening interview to help get the event started, horror writer David Moody talked a bit about why he was such a ‘fanboy’ of James, to which James responded “I thought you said rentboy”. The rest of the evening was punctuated with much of the same of James’ warm and witty sense of humour and laced with anecdotes such as when he met John Hurt (James was convinced John would not know who he was and was treated with a kiss on the cheek in response)  and receiving his OBE from Prince Charles (“I only call head waiters sir“). Of course, he talked about his new novel Ash, and was greeted with almost two hundred sssshhhhhhs when he almost gave away some of the plot to those in the audience who hadn’t yet finished it.

Overall I was bowled over by how warm, genuine, interesting and inspiring James really is. And also, how very humble he still is, after years at the top of his game.

As an aspiring writer, it was encouraging and also somewhat comforting to hear that after selling a staggering fifty-six million books during his career, James still gets the jitters every time he publishes a new novel. He said “Do you feel scared? Always. I say a prayer when I start to write a book and I say a prayer when I’ve finished.”

There were so many things that James said that made me walk out of Foyles feeling more of a fan than I had when I first walked into the room and this was definitely one that struck a chord with me, as I’m sure it will with many other writers out there.

In fact, he’s so likeable that I couldn’t help but feel slightly angered when he spoke about an article in The Indpendent in which a critic was rather disparaging about James’ appearance (he has curvature of the spine) and how he was ‘stuck in the seventies’ mostly because of his use of the words ‘cop-shop’ (James: “I could have said pig-shop”) and ‘gig’. Note to the man from The Independent: most of my friends and I are huge gig-goers. And yes, we do ALL still say ‘gig’ now. Is that a 1970’s thing? I think not.

I also wanted to punch the air in smug satisfaction when he was quite adamant that he doesn’t ever plot. “I don’t plot, it just happens,” he said, almost indignantly to the question, as if someone’s dog had just cocked its leg right in front of him, “I always have a rough idea of where it’s going to end.”

The much-anticipated three-part mini-series of The Secret of Crickley Hall was also discussed, with James admitting that whilst he loved the first episode that he saw, he did have some ‘script issues’ and he also expressed concerns about whether the horror would be diluted as “the BBC don’t like to scare people”. I’m not a lover of television or film adaptations of novels so I am desperately hoping the BBC do stay true to the story and don’t sugarcoat the scary parts.

I was keen to know what James thought about the new generation of e-books and e-readers, particularly as Ash was recently selling for just 20p (scandalously cheap!) on the Kindle. Apparently despite being sold as a loss leader, James still makes the same royalties from a Kindle sale as he does a hardback sale and although he is a lover of the written page, he still thinks the Kindle is a good thing. Maybe it will open up a whole new generation of reader to his books, after all despite owning a 1985 paperback copy of Domain, I snapped up the Kindle version for just 95p and I will probably start to add to my James Herbert e-book library by snapping up all his other books too. It’s wonderful to think that others may do the same, particularly those who might never have walked into a bookshop and found James’ work amidst the many copies of True Blood and Twilight.

After an hour of question and answer time, James took his place at the signing table, with a bottle of Jack Daniels at his side, and patiently and graciously began to sign treasured copies of Ash and his other novels for a queue of two hundred eager fans.

Now I would love to spin a yarn about my conversation with James when it came to my turn to step up, with my copy of Ash and my old 1985 much-loved and much-worn paperback copy of Domain (acquired from my dad’s bookshelf when I was eleven years old and never returned). But it’s fair to say that I was slightly speechless and could only stare doe eyed, grin like a true simpleton and mumble my thanks before scuttling away, with my signed books clutched tightly in my clammy palms…..just like a true fangirl!

All in all; as a writer, it was incredibly inspiring and as a fan, it was completely entertaining, exciting and enlightening.

There’s really not much else I can say, other than, thank you to Foyles and thank you to James Herbert; Grand Master of Horror.

It truly was the best gig I’ve been to in years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random stuff · Writer Wednesday

#WriterWednesday The Secret of Crickley Hall – James Herbert

Following on from my James Herbert post a couple of weeks back, how excited am I to learn that The Secret of Crickley Hall has been adapted into a drama for the BBC and is due to hit UK screens this autumn?!

Starring UK faves Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis, this looks to be a well-anticipated adaptation of Herbert’s fantastically spooky novel.

Now I’m not a massive fan of book adaptations, whether it be for TV or film, I rarely think you can capture on-screen what you can in a book, but this is based on a book by one of my all-time favourite authors so it’s definitely going in my schedule to watch.

If you don’t know the book, it has all the elements of a classic ghost story – old spooky house, a cellar door that keeps opening, things that go bump in the night and a dog that gets spooked by the unknown. The story centres around the Caleigh family who, in an effort to gain some respite from their own personal nightmares, take refuge at Crickley Hall; a former home for orphan evacuees in World War II. Of course, it isn’t long before we realise that there is something not quite right about the old manor house and creepy goings-on and ghostly noises soon escalate to a terrifying conclusion.

Many Herbert fans wouldn’t claim this was his best work, some believing the story just isn’t original enough and that as a ghost story it’s a bit clichéd. Admittedly, it’s not my favourite Herbert story, I would personally prefer to see something like The Rats series to be televised or even 48 would be amazing, but I will still be watching this when it airs in the autumn.

Take a look at the trailer and let me know what you think…or if you have read The Secret of Crickley Hall, what did you think of the book compared to Herbert’s other novels?

Whatever the drama is like, I’m so chuffed to see one of the UK’s greatest horror writers celebrated in the way he deserves.