Introduction to Ghostwriting, a collection of horror stories:
I write very few short stories that can be termed horror, ghost, supernatural, occult, or fantasy. In fact, in a career spanning twenty-five years I’ve written just eight (nine, if you include the novella A Writer’s Life) out of a total of around a hundred and twenty published stories. Most of those have been science fiction, a genre with which I feel more comfortable. The ideas I have just happen to be about the future, concerning the staple tropes of the genre: other worlds, space-flight, aliens, fantastical technologies, time-travel… I rarely get ideas that fit neatly into the horror genre or related sub-genres.
Now, why is this?
Perhaps it’s because my preferred reading, along with mainstream novels, is SF. I’ve been reading it since I was about fifteen and I know it inside out. I do occasionally read horror (or ghost or supernatural), and enjoy the likes of Robert Aickman, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, M.R.James, and more modern practitioners like Joe Hill, T.E.D. Klein, Adam Nevill. And while I can appreciate the literary merits of the genre, I always have to work hard at suspending my disbelief. Fundamentally, I don’t believe in the occult, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, etc… Therefore when I come to write about them, I find it that much more difficult to do so.
Now I can hear you crying, “Why! That’s ridiculous! What makes ghosts, ghouls, vampires etc any less credible than little blue aliens, FTL travel and all the other fantastical trappings of SF?” And I admit that there is, perhaps, nothing more credible about the furniture of SF… other than a sneaking suspicion I have that the things I write about in SF might, just might, possibly, in some way, at some point in the future, come to pass. At any rate, the characters I write about in my science fiction tales believe implicitly in the scientific process and believe that the fantastical things in their world have a credible, rational, scientific basis.
When I do get ideas for horror tales, I find that they’re about the exploration of character. They’re gentle horror tales, often metaphorical, with little or no blood and guts, precious few ghosts, ghouls, and certainly no werewolves or vampires. I prefer to call them psychological horror stories.
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At the moment I’m working on a follow up to my 2007 novel Helix. Helix Wars will be set two hundred years after the events described in Helix – the arrival of the human colonists on the vast, helical construct made up of ten thousand worlds. In the new novel, the human race have the job of keeping the peace among the six thousand inhabited worlds of the Helix. However, when the humanoid Sporelli invade the neighbouring world of Phandra, the humans are drawn into a conflict that will have far-reaching consequences for all those involved.
Here’s the publisher’s blurb:
The Helix: a vast spiral of ten thousand worlds turning around its sun.
Aeons ago, the enigmatic Builders constructed the Helix as a refuge for alien races on the verge of extinction. Two hundred years ago, humankind came to the Helix aboard a great colony ship, and the Builders conferred on them the mantle of peacekeepers. For that long, peace has reigned on the Helix. But when shuttle pilot Jeff Ellis crash-lands on the world of Phandra, he interrupts a barbarous invasion from the neighbouring Sporelli – who scheme to track down and exterminate Ellis before he can return to New Earth and inform the peacekeepers.
Helix Wars, sequel to the best-selling Helix, is a fast-paced adventure
novel about the ultimate threat to the Helix itself.
I’m sixty thousand words into the story, and it’s going well. I should have a first draft in the bag by the end of January – with a break for Christmas and the move north to Dunbar, East Lothian. Delivery date is mid-May, and publication is slated for October 2012.
How I work on longer, multi-viewpoint novels – and Helix Wars will probably have four POV characters – is to write each individual’s story in one linear block, taking him or her through the story until near the end. I then slice up the sections and interleave, rewriting to create cliff-hangers, tension etc. Then I write the finale. It’s not how every author goes about writing multi-viewpoint novels, but, as they say, it works for me.
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Several of my titles are now available as e-books.
My first novel Meridian Days, the novellas A Writer’s Life, Approaching Omega, the short stories “The Time-Lapsed Man” and “The Death of Cassandra Quebec”, along with my new collection The Angels of Life and Death, are all at Keith Brooke’s infinity plus imprint. Due out soon is my novel Penumbra.
The first volume of the Virex trilogy, New York Nights, is now at Anarchy Books run by Andy Remic:
My PS Publishing titles should be available soon from PS Publishing E-Books.
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On the short story front, I have tales due out from Postscripts, Albedo One, The Hub, Andy Remic’s E-anthology Vivesepulture, and Daily SF.
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My next book out, from Abaddon, will be The Devil’s Nebula, summer next year…
Starship Captain Ed Carew and his crew of two – ex-marine Lania Takiomar and ex-convict Gord Neffard – lead a carefree life of smuggling, gun-running and other illicit pursuits in a far future ruled by the fascistic Expansion Authority. But when an Expansion judiciary ship captures Carew and his crew leaving the planet of Hesperides, an out-of-bounds world governed now by the fearsome Vetch extraterrestrials, Carew, Takiomar and Neffard are sentenced to death…
Unless the agree to travel through Vetch territory in pursuit of an human colony vessel which set off for the Devil’s Nebula one hundred years ago.
But why are the Expansion authorities so eager to track down the ship, will Carew and co. survive the journey through Vetch territory – and what might they find when they arrive at the Devil’s Nebula?
The Devil’s Nebula is the first book in a thrilling space opera series, The Weird.
An evil race is threatening not only the human Expansion, but the Vetch Empire, too – an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their hideous bidding.
And only if humans and Vetch cooperate to fight of the fearsome Weird do they stand a chance of ensuring their survival…
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My story “The House” was published in the anthology House of Fear, edited by Jonathan Oliver. It a rare (for me) excursion into horror territory, though the story is more psychological horror than out and out gore. Anyway, I think it’s the best tale I’ve written for some time.
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The infinity plus and friends sampler/anthology, infinities, is now
available – free – from:
containing work by Linda Nagata, Scott Nicholson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Steven Savile and others.
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The Kings of Eternity:
1999, on the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him?
1935. Writers Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there – no less than a strange creature from another world – will change their lives forever. What they become, and their link to the novelist of the future, is the subject of my most ambitious novel to date. Almost ten years in the writing, The Kings of Eternity is full of the staple tropes of the genre and yet imbued with humanity and characters I hope you’ll come to love.
It’s already garnered a lot of great reviews, among which: