Highway to Hell: The road to Where the Darkness Reigns.

 *Contains spoilers*

Throw some heavy metal on the turn table, crank the volume up to 11 and strap yourself in as I take you on down the long and winding path, which led my most recent book.

Where do I start? Like any story, the best place is to start at the beginning, however, in this instance; the beginning isn’t necessarily the best place to start.

In February 2010 Electronic Arts released a video game named Dante’s Inferno, developed by Visceral Games. As the title suggests, this was a video game based on the first poem in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, The Inferno.  Armed with a scythe, you navigated a heavily muscled and bronzed incarnation of the Italian poet through the nine circles of Hell. After completing the game I thought to myself, that would be so cool in a contemporary setting. I therefore made it would one my ambitions to write such a book. But where would I begin? At that time getting the concept to work in a modern day setting seemed problematic. And so, the project was scrapped before I even put pen to paper. But the idea that had been sparked remained and the flames burned steadily in my mind.

Now let’s rewind to the late 90s. 1997 is probably the approximate year, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

A friend of mine received a video camera from his uncle. Even then, it was 10 years old – a relic of the previous decade; bulky, heavy, not very user friendly and the sound quality on playback left a lot to be desired. But our little gang still had fun, goofing off in front of the camera and watching ourselves being played back on TV.

Then, someone (I’d like to say it was me, but I honestly can’t remember) had the idea to make a movie.

It was at this time, perhaps fate in retrospect, a friend from outside my usual social circle (see my earlier blog post On Horror Movies), a friend who sadly passed away in November 2017, introduced me to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. The original movie was made by a group of friends, who at the time of filming almost 20 years before hand, were not much older than I was in 1997. This was inspiring to say the least and we jumped at the chance to make our own film. But what sort of film to produce? The success of Scream the year before had rebooted the Slasher sub-genre of horror, and as this style of movie didn’t require much in the way of story line or any credible acting ability for us to pull things off, we took a stab (if you pardon the pun) at a our very own Slasher flick.

We spent every weekend for the next three years churning out Slasher films, using anything we could get our hands on for free to make props and special effects. My friend Alex, who owned the video camera, still has some of these films on video cassette tape. It’s on his to do list to transfer these to a digital format, so watch this space.

In 2000 my mum bought a brand-spanking new video camera for a trip to New Zealand. It was small, compact and light weight. The sound quality still sucked, but it had various effect features and the ability to add credits and captions. Once the camera returned from New Zealand it was boxed away. I asked if I could use it to make our movies and was told “No!” With a little bit of stealth I “borrowed” the camera. I say borrowed because I always put it back after use.

Movie making on the “borrowed” camera was unfortunately short lived, as by this time beer and girls had taken priority.

In 2013 Fede Alvarez’s remake of Evil Dead was released and when the red-ban trailer dropped I was impressed with how the movie looked. This became the topic of conversation with one of my old movie maker friends over a few beers one night and we got to reminiscing about how we used to make films on Alex’s old video camera. After analysing the movies we recalled making, we felt there some real untapped potential, what could be achieve if we made a movie now we were stepping into our thirties and had the ability to raise a modest budget?

I had been playing with an idea for a story in which the creature feature was the characters’ own shadows, taking on a life of their own and running amuck. With this in mind, and the budgeting restraints, the idea of the supernatural entity being a shadow would be, in theory, easy to pull off. My idea was to dress people in black-morph suits and have them run around the woods to achieve the effect of the shadowy creatures. I actually make a subtle reference to this in Within the Dark Places.

So, I set about writing a screen play entitled Of the Shadows. I wrote about a third of the first draft before the project was called off. Shortly after this I was approached by Rowanvale Books who asked if I had considered self-publishing.

 into a novella and submitted the manuscript to Rowanvale for editing.

The feedback was positive and filled me with confidence; other than the title, very little changed between the submitted manuscript and the finished book.

Within the Dark Places was written as a stand alone novella. Although it ends on a cliff-hanger, at the time of writing I had no intention to follow this up and wanted a shock, open-ended finish to the story. It wasn’t until I had submitted the manuscript that I had a dream about the protagonist Joe (who didn’t eve have a sur-name at that point). Joe was trapped in a woodland cabin, but he was heavily pregnant and in labour. Alone and miles from civilisation, Joe had to perform a c-section on himself with a piece of broken glass. Sound familiar?

As Joe made the first incision I woke up with a jolt and an urge to write about what I had just dreamed. In the weeks that followed the ideas for a new book came thick and fast. Not only was Where the Darkness Hides strongly developing but it was clear a third instalment was going to follow. I didn’t have the idea to end Where the Darkness Hides with Joe being sent to Hell until two or three drafts in, but I knew early on I wanted to end part two with him being transported to another world or dimension – a nod to the ending of Evil Dead 2.

Through the various drafts of Where the Darkness Hides it became more and more prominent that at the end Joe was going to end up in Hell, and this seemed like to perfect opportunity to write my contemporary version of The Inferno.

For the record, there are so many alternative versions, beyond the base story, of Where the Darkness Hides and so many alternative methods of how Joe was sucked into Hell. It would be a shame to lose these and I may well reboot the series in future with these alternatives.

I now knew what the third instalment would entail, but a new problem presented itself. In The Inferno Dante is guided through Hell by the ancient Greek poet Virgil. Joe needed his very own Virgil, but I still had no idea who this person would be or how they would fit into the story.

To solve this issue I had to take a few, large steps backwards.

Since the late 90s I have been writing tales of the supernatural set in my home town and surrounding areas of the Aire Valley. In 2005 I took these tales, merged the geographical locations into one town, calling it Raven’s Peak and began plotting a series of novels. This has evolved considerably since 2005 and it wasn’t until the last couple of years that the plot for the first novel in the series has been fully fleshed out.

The yet to be written series of Raven’s Peak novels will focus on the adventures of Chris Silversmith and Alexis Zukovsky, who solve supernatural mysteries. The duo will often be assisted by the medium Layla Throne.

The plan was to write Where the Darkness Reigns between the first two Raven’s Peak books, serving as a link between the two. But the more I wanted to explore Joe’s Hell, the more I needed to write it. So I made the decision to switch things around and use Where the Darkness Reigns to introduce the characters of the Raven’s Peak series. And as such, the final part of the Darkness Trilogy was born.

So where do we go from here… The plan is now to commence writing the first novel in the Raven’s Peak series. So far I have ideas for a minimum of three novels and God willing, I at least want to write a series of five books. The Darkness Trilogy was a tribute to independent horror moves of the 80s, the Raven’s Peak series will be a tribute to sci-fi/fantasy television shows of the 90s such as the X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In an earlier blog I mentioned a sequel to The Church of Freyr. I did start writing this, but the magic just wasn’t there. It didn’t flow like my other book and felt forced. With regret I scrapped this after writing roughly a third of the first draft. That said, I haven’t completely abandoned the idea and will no doubt revisit this in the future. And besides, the character of Cage Roberts has received a glowing reception and is worthy of his own series.

As for Joe Costello, at the risk of sounding like the end credits of a James Bond movie… Joe Costello will return.



Where the Darkness Reigns – preview 2

Good evening folks, thanks for dropping by.

Tonight I wanted to share another sample from my forthcoming books, Where the Darkness Reigns. You can pre-order a copy using the following link:


Before I unveil the preview, I just wanted to remind you I will be at Bradford Comic-Con on 18 February. This will be my third convention over the past 12 months, and each one so far have been an amazing day out. I’m there as a trader, though on the previous two occasions the organisers have been kind enough to sit me with the special guests. If your able to make it, come and say hello.Comic Con

At the previous events I sold paperback copies of my books for £5.00 each. This time, as a one time offer, exclusive to Bradford Comic-Con, all paperbacks will be £2.50 each (RRP £5.99). Come along and grab yourself a bargain!


So, the preview of Where the Darkness Reigns… as before I’d like to showcase another new character, who will be pivotal to the story. I’ve had the character floating around in my head for a number of years, but I never had the opportunity to place her into a story… until now. She has had a couple of name changes over the years, and it wasn’t until the final drafts of WTDR that I final settled on the name she now goes by. She did appear in the last preview, but I wanted tell you more about her and share some of her backstory. So without further-a-do, I formally introduce to you, Layla Thorne…




Layla Thorne had been a gifted medium since birth. She had inherited the gift from her father, who had inherited it from his mother, and so on and so on. The gift was always passed from father to daughter, mother to son. Layla was an only child, but none of her father’s siblings had had the gift – he was the firstborn son, as Layla had been the firstborn daughter. In the event she had a son, there was no doubt that he would also receive the gift.

At five years old, Layla had first heard the voices. It was likely she had heard them from birth, but as an infant she had been unable to distinguish the voices of the living from the voices of the dead. At first she thought it was just her imagination, and didn’t mention it to anyone. There were times her mother caught her talking to herself, but put it down to imaginative play. Then the voice would tell her things no five-year-old girl should ever hear, and ask things of her no child should ever be asked. By the age of seven, she would spend as much as time as possible listening to music through headphones in an attempt to block out the voices. If she wasn’t listening to music, she’d turn up the television as loud as possible.

Her mum wanted to refer her to a hearing specialist, but her dad, now beginning to see the signs of the gift, managed to talk his wife out of the idea. He had kept his abilities secret from his wife; the only person, other than Layla’s paternal grandmother, who would share the secret would be Layla. By the age of eight it became too much; Layla felt as though she was going insane. One day she crept into her mum and dad’s bedroom and took her mum’s knitting set out from under the bed. She freed a needle from the ball of wool and placed the pointed end into her ear. She closed her eyes and prepared to push the needle deeper inside.

A strong, rough grip took hold of her arm. She opened her eyes and looked up to see her dad. She dropped the knitting needle and burst into tears, burying her head in his chest.

That night, Mr Thorne told his daughter everything she needed to know about her legacy.




That night’s performance was an act, something for the old ladies. They probably knew it was an act, but they still loved it and they still paid to see it. It was all just an act… that was, of course, until the rude interruption. The problem Layla had with her gift was that she couldn’t control it – there was no on or off switch, and she could never predict when someone would visit her from the other side, or who they would be. When they did arrive, they would often take control of her body – hence the schizophrenic behaviour. As she grew older, she found that, with a little perseverance, she could shake them loose. And, more often than not, she would often forget the whole incident once the spirit had delivered its message and departed. Sometimes a few snippets would stay with her, but more often than not it was total amnesia. That was, of course, until last night.

All through the night she was plagued by nightmares; images of a young man trapped somewhere he shouldn’t be. He was being chased by what she could only describe as shadows. Her instinct told her that this wasn’t the same man who had come to her in the Rosie Crown. Perhaps he was the mysterious Joe.

She woke up in a cold sweat, her silk bedsheets sodden. Then there was a whisper in her ear, and the image of a man materialised at the foot of her bed. He was perhaps a little younger than she was, and his appearance told her that he had been through something traumatic.

Blood seeped through a circular wound in the centre of his chest; as droplets of blood fell, they disappeared into the ether. His face was scratched and dirty, and Layla noticed that his right hand had been severed at the wrist. His right leg was bare below the knee, where the trouser leg had been torn, and deep lacerations circled his ankle. He approached, sat on the edge of the bed and began to tell her a story. She nodded in agreement at what was being said, but her heart rate didn’t settle.

The spirit then left, and Layla jumped out of bed to dress. It was 3am when she left the house and headed to where the spirit had told her to go.


Where the Darkness Reigns – Preview

Hello, and thanks for stopping by.

Tonight I will be releasing the first preview of my forthcoming book, Where the Darkness Reigns – to be released on 28 February 2018.

Where the Darkness Reigns is the final instalment of the Dark Places trilogy, which began with Within the Dark Places, followed by Where the Darkness Hides. If you have read the previous books, hopefully you’ll remember Where the Darkness Hides ended on a cliff-hanger and Where the Darkness Reigns picks up right from where we left off. If you haven’t read the previous two instalments you can order a copy using the following links. Both books are available in ebook and paperback:

While Where the Darkness Reigns concludes the story of protagonist Joe Costello, it introduces new characters who reside in the world of Raven’s Peak (the town in which the trilogy is set) and acts to set up the wider shared universe.

So the preview… well it was difficult to decide which chapter to reveal first. I don’t want to give too much away, and I don’t want to spoil the ending of the previous book for those who haven’t read it yet. With new characters in minds, I thought I would introduce one of them, but at the same time give a little insight to the previous two books for new readers. The following preview does this perfectly. I hope you enjoy what you read and that you are intrigued enough to pre-order a copy – http://amzn.eu/cUSXFvj

All the best,


Preview: Chapter 6

The Diary of Chris Silversmith

Last night was the third Shade encounter this month. Without a doubt, they are certainly increasing. I think this is now the twelfth in two years. The more I think about it, the more I am certain the incident at Raven’s Peak police station was the start of it. There had been plenty of ghost sightings in Raven’s Peak beforehand, but they were standard hauntings, or poltergeists. These Shades, as I have named them, are something else entirely. They appear to be made from darkness itself – they certainly have an aversion to light, and as we have seen, it is clear why.

      Our first encounter was approximately two months after the police station incident. There had been two cases of spontaneous human combustion at the old textile mill down by the canal on the south side of town. The mill hasn’t been used since the 1950s, but the building is rich in lead and copper piping, as well as the slate roof. It’s the perfect target for thieves, so the building owners like to keep security guards on site. It was two of the guards who had burst into flame.

      Alexis and I had certainly read plenty of books on the phenomenon, but we had yet to come across a case here in Raven’s Peak. The two reports in the space of one week and in the same location, nonetheless, were the perfect opportunity to investigate.

      We approached those on guard duty, posing as journalists from the Science & Wonder magazine (I had just made it up on the spot, but the guard seemed keen for five minutes of fame and was happy to show us around).

      He led us by torchlight; he explained that the electricity had been disconnected decades ago. The lack of light and the shadows cast by the retired machinery made this the perfect place for these Shades to hide.

      And then the shadows began to move.

      That was when the temperature dropped, contradicting everything we understood about human combustion. As it grew cold, the air grew stale and smelt like sulphur.

      What happened next – well, I can only describe it as though a mass of shadows swallowed the security guard. We saw glimpses of him, his arms, his legs, being dragged to the far side of the factory.

      Naturally, we gave chase. As we shone our torches in the direction of the guard, the shadows dispersed. He lay unconscious, and as I knelt to check for injuries, an intense heat radiated from him. Hesitantly, I touched his brow, and as I did so he began to convulse, coughing up an oily black liquid. The suddenness of this caused me to jump back, and I’m glad I did; that’s when he burst into flames.

      As quickly as the flames had erupted, they died, leaving a pile of ash and scorch marks on the floor. Above the scorched remains of the guard hovered a shadow – a Shade.

      The creature screamed, a high-pitched wail capable of shattering glass. As it cried, others of its kind began to materialise from the shadows surrounding us.

      We spun round, shining our torches left and right, desperately searching for a way out. Frantic as we were, my torchlight caught a Shade. It screamed and exploded in a cloud of dust. As it did, the others retreated momentarily, allowing us to make a break for it.

      We returned the next evening, better prepared with stronger, more powerful torches. We set lanterns around the old mill, making sure every room and every corridor was illuminated. We gave them few places to hide, and soon every single Shade in that building was dust.

      We thought that would be the end of it. But then other sightings slowly began to be reported.




Chris Silversmith glanced at his watch; it read 5:30. To most people, he would appear to be an early riser – if he had actually been to bed. He had been working all night, writing up the notes from his encounter in the Arts and Crafts Centre.

His mobile phone began to ring; a guitar riff made famous by Eric Clapton sounded from its speaker, the device edging its way across the desk as it vibrated. He picked it up and glanced at the screen. The caller ID read DO NOT ANSWER!!! EVER!!! He dropped the call before Clapton’s vocals kicked in, and went back to his work. The phone rang again, replaying the opening riff to Layla.

‘Shit, what does she want?’ With reluctance, he accepted the call, taking a deep breath before he answered. ‘I told you never to call me!’

‘Oh don’t be like that, honey. I bet you’re pleased to hear from me really!’

‘Piss off!’ He was about to drop the call again when he heard Layla shriek down the phone.

‘Chris, don’t hang up! I wouldn’t be calling if it wasn’t urgent!’

He rolled his eyes. ‘What could be so urgent that you would need to call your ex at 5:30 in the morning?’

Layla got straight to the point. ‘Do you know what the phrase “When a man of heavenly worth sins in Hell, darkness shall reign on Earth” means?’

There was a moment’s silence, and then Layla spoke again.

‘Got your attention, haven’t I, honey?’

‘I’m thinking. And don’t call me honey.’ Chris leant back in his chair and tapped the roof of his mouth with the tip of his tongue. ‘It rings a bell, but other than that… Bye!’    He was about to hang up for the second time when she shrieked again. Chris held the phone away from his ear and grimaced as the screaming passed. ‘I wish you wouldn’t do that. You sound like a spoilt two-year-old.’

‘Well, how else can I get you to talk to me? Look, I’m not asking for me. There is a woman here who desperately needs answers, and between you and me, since I heard the phrase myself, the spirits have been going absolutely bananas. They will not shut up.’

Chris pulled the phone away from his ear and glared at the screen. He had witnessed her speaking with the spirits on many occasion when they had dated, but he couldn’t help wonder if his ex-girlfriend was a tad schizophrenic. Yet, in his line of work, he kept an open mind.

He put the phone back to his ear. ‘Uh-huh…’

‘I’m serious, Chris…’ The tone of her voice changed. All the bravado and cockiness was gone, replaced with fear and desperation. ‘Chris, I think it’s some kind of an omen. I just have the feeling something really dreadful will happen if we don’t figure it out.’

Chris rubbed the back of his neck, then wriggled in his chair, cracking the stiffness out of his back. Maybe it was the tiredness kicking in, but he surrendered. ‘Alright, alright. Give me twelve hours to look into it. I’ll call you when I find something.’

‘Thank you, honey.’ Layla giggled, and the call ended.

Chris threw the phone across the desk. ‘I must be shit-house crazy to get involved with her again.’


Best Reads of 2017

Evening all, welcome to my latest blog.

As we approach the end of another year, and we reflect upon the last 12 months, I wanted to focus on something positive. And as a writer and avid reader, what better way to reflect than to talk about my favourite books of the past year.

These are no means books which have been published in 2017, but simply ones I have had the pleasure of reading this year.

Presented in the order my top 5 reads of 2017…

Reading the Palms of Dolls by Drew Forest


Set in October 1994, Reading the Palms of Dolls follows the adventure of a young boy named Jesse, who suffers from a debilitating condition called Scopophobia; the fear of being looked at or being seen. On his sixteenth birthday he finds the courage to escape his prison-like home and embarks on a surreal road trip. Here is my review from earlier in the year: Drew Forest is a masterful story teller. Clear evidence self-published authors are the future. Reading the Palms of Dolls is an enchanting, intelligent tale of Jesse – a boy who suffers from a debilitating condition called scopophobia; a condition which leaves him with a paralysing fear of being looked at. Having been held prisoner his whole life by an abusive, overbearing mother, on his sixteenth birthday he finally finds the courage to escape the prison that is his bedroom, with the help of a paper mache mask to give him confidence to face the world. Once out in the world he meets teenage tear away, Rabbit. A goth girl who runs errands dealing drugs for the Father. The Father offers sanctuary to lost souls and Rabbit agrees to take Jesse to him. But once in this sanctuary for the lost and found not all is what it seems.
The writing is pure poetry. The story is unique and intelligent- I have never read anything like it. Quite simply: you must read this book.

Reading the Palms of Dolls is the follow-up to Drew’s debut novel The Corpse Rooms. And he has published a third novel, Malevolent Flesh (both of which are brilliant books), but Reading the Palms of Dolls remains my favourite of Drew’s works to date.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

That’s right, folks. You read correctly… For the most part, I tend to avoid jumping on bandwagons if I can help it. As such was my approach to one of the most famous books published this century on its initial release. I’m not going to talk about this one too much, there probably isn’t anything I can say which hasn’t already been said. But, I essentially picked this up from a local charity shop, more from the lack of having something to read at the time. I thought what the hell, lets see what all the fuss was about. It’s clear to see why Dan Brown is a best-selling author; he has a no-nonsense, simplistic, fast pace style of story telling. He also took advantage of my love of history by using it as the back drop for his most famous novel. I have to admit, I am now a fan of Mr Brown’s Robert Langdon series, having snapped up copies of the other books – although I’m still waiting on Origin to be released in paperback before I read that one.

11.22.63 by Stephen King

I had a bit of a falling out with the King of horror when I read the Tommyknockers in the summer of 2016. To be frank, it was dreadful and I couldn’t bring myself to reach the end. I figured Mr King had reached his peak with Misery and didn’t have anything new to offer. But, I was intrigued with the premise  of 11.22.63. It was the time-travel element which interested me, but it was, as with most of Stephen King’s books, the characters that really draw you in. There was even the added bonus of the novel featuring (even if briefly) the return of the town of Derry and two of the characters from It. I love this novel and it rekindled a love for Stephen King. A fantastic, gripping story – King is truly on top form with this one.

The final two books are a double-whammy..

Horror in the Woods and The Demonic by Lee Mountford.



Lee Mountford, like Drew Forest, is a self-published horror writer from the north of England. His debut novel, Horror in the Woods, is as the title suggests. It is clear from Lee’s writing he is a avid fan of the horror genre, and his first outing pays homage to classics such Text Chainsaw Massacre and the Devils Rejects, there is also an element of the most recent Resident Evil video game. Check out my review: Lee Mountford takes the cabin in the woods style horror to the next level with a blend of Texas Chainsaw, Devil’s Rejects and even (in my opinion) Resident Evil 7. The story, follows two couples on a hiking retreat who stumble across a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods. Only the cabin isn’t abandoned, it’s inhabited by a family of deranged cannibals. And the poop hasn’t even begun to hit the fan. Yes, we’ve seen this story before, but Lee’s fast-paced, thrilling story telling keeps you on edge. There is plenty for the gorge hounds, without being too over the top, which showcases a story telling talent rather than trying to simply gross out the reader to stay interesting.

Lee then follows-up cannibal, cabin in the woods style horror, with a good old fashioned ghost-story in the Demonic. I must say, I don’t think there has been a story of haunting so terrifying since the Shining. Here is what I had to say: Danni Morgan returns to Bishops Hill after she inherits her late, estranged father’s farm house – the house she grew up in and fled, never to look back, as a teenager. She returns with her family to handle the estate, but ends up not only battling her personal demons, but also those of a literal sense. Lee Mountford is a masterful story teller, building layer upon layer of tension and drama leading to an explosive conclusion. Lee slowly draws you in with a beckoning hand which suddenly grips you by the throat and doesn’t let go. If you have read Lee’s previous novel, Horror in the Wood, it is easy to see how the two stories link in to a wider, shared universe, which I can’t wait to explore further.

Lee is working on his third novel currently entitled Tormented. If his previous two books are anything to good by, Tormented will not disappoint.


So, that wraps things up for another year. I can’t praise the aforementioned books enough, especially the work of Drew Forest and Lee Mountford. It’s a tough business being a writer and even tougher being self-published. Their works are incredible achievements and stand-out from the crowd.

In early January I will begin posting previews of my forthcoming novella, Where the Darkness Reigns.

Until then, all the best and stay safe.




On horror movies

Earlier this evening I answered a poll which asked if your parents let you watch horror movies as a kid. I immediately answered Yes. This got me reminiscing and trying to recall the first horror movie I saw. But this is very difficult to actually remember.

A film, which I saw at the age of 7, was Jaws. Although, I have never considered this to be a horror movie.

Perhaps it’s due to seeing it at a young age without any protest from my parents – in fact, I was even encouraged to watch it – made it appear to be more of a family movie. It was certainly one of the few films we would actually watch as a family. A tradition I have carried on with my own children. My daughter loves it (she’s 5 by the way), my son is a little more apprehensive (he’s 3).

While I had seen other horror movies, nothing springs to mind until I was about 11 years old. The introduction of a VRC into our household really helped with this. Both recording late night showings and video rentals.

For years before hand my mum had talked about a movie called The Omen (I think this came about as there was a boy in my class named Damien) and it really intreaugued me. Finally, the night before my 11th birthday, it was aired on TV.

Naturally, it was on a bit late for me to stay up and watch, but my mum happily recorded it. Guess what I did on my 11th birthday… The Omen was an instant hit and my first real introduction to horror movies.

As if by fate, at this time every Friday night the BBC aired a show called Dr Terror’s Vault of Horror. It was essentially a horror movie double bill, pairing a fairly recent flick with a classic. Each movie would be introduced by Dr Terror, an actor wearing prosthetic make-up to look like a demonesque creature.

The show itself was overly camp but it introduced me to some brilliant (and some not so brilliant) horror movies.

The double bill would air pretty late, so it was the good old VCR to the rescue. However…

At the time the village hall would hold a fortnightly under 14’s disco. The disco would finish around 10 p.m. and I was expected to go straight to bed on my return home. On one occasion Dr Terror aired earlier than usual and was just about to start as I got in. As it wasn’t too late, and a weekend, my mum let me stay up and watch the first feature. This was my introduction to The Lost Boys.

The Lost Boys wasn’t just a horror movie. Yes it had horror, but it also had comedy and adventure and the heroes were kids not much older than I was. I was in awe. I wanted vampires to exist and I wanted to fight them just like the Frog brothers.

From being an infant I had a friend who was also into his horror even more so than I was. I moved to a new town in the late 80s but we still kept in touch staying over at each other’s houses. At these sleepovers he introduced me to franchise features such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. On one occasion when he came to visit in the summer holidays of 1997 we met in my city centre. Before we hopped on the bus to my house he asked if we could go to HMV – he was looking for a particular movie, but at the time HMV didn’t have a store in his town. Happy to oblige I took him to my local HMV and he found the film he was looking for. I’d never heard of it and the cover looked like that of a fantasy adventure movie (I suppose it leans more to this genre rather than horror). The name of the film, I hear you ask, Army of Darkness! We watched it as soon as we got to mine. I was lucky to have a VCR in my bedroom. To say I was blown away was an understatement.

The next day his mum came to pick him up and invited me to stay at their house. I accepted, but before we went to their’s we took a trip to the Trafford Centre. They had HMV and my friend ran straight up the horror section and picked up – drum roll please – Evil Dead 2! Unfortunately they didn’t stock the original movie. Probably just as well, as at that time any legitimate copy was heavily edited.

As soon as we returned to my friends house we watched Evil Dead 2. I was blown away by Army of Darkness, Evil Dead 2 was did something else entirely. It remains my favourite movie of all time. I still get the same rush from watching it today as I did 20 years ago and it remains one of the biggest influences on my writing.

In time I saw the original Evil Dead, in as much of its gory glory as we will ever be able to see. I recently read an article that the UK was the first country to release the film fully uncut in 2001. While I am fond of it, it doesn’t come close to its sequel.

Why do I like horror movies? It isn’t the blood and guts and it isn’t the scares, it the adult fantasy of them – extraordinary events happening to ordinary people. While I mentioned the fantasy, for the most part, horror movies are grounded in the real world which adds to the appeal. If this could happen to a bunch of suburban teens, then I think there is just as much chance of it happening to you. That’s what makes horror movies scary, not the gore or the shocks and screams, but that there is the chance it could happen. And in some cases it actually did.

Stay safe out there.


Autumn 2017

Hello, and hope you are all well.

I just wanted to give you an update as we head towards darker nights.

Last month I attended York Unleashed . It was a fantastic experience. I met some amazing people, both readers and fellow traders, and learnt a hell of a lot. Oh and I sold a few books too. It was so great that I have booked a trader spot at Bradford Unleashed on 8th October. So hopefully I will see some of you there.

In terms of new books, Where the Darkness Reigns is finally finished (for the most part). I still want to give it another once over for spelling & grammar, but story and plot wise the job’s a good’un. I’m hoping to submit the manuscript to my editor in the new year and aiming to have the book released by Easter.

I then plan to start another novella featuring Cage Roberts (The Church of Freyr). I have already plotted the over all story, begining, middle and end, and I can’t wait to crack on with the early drafts. The working title, and more than likely to be the final one too, is The Cult of Fenrir. As with Cage’s previous adventure, the plot will be based around another Norse god.

Before I sign off I just wanted to shout out about the It movie. Stephen King’s original novel is one of my biggest influences as a writer, so I had high expectations. I can honestly say I was not disappointed. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a film so much – I’m itching to seeing it again. Yes, I have one or two niggles at some of the changes made to the book, but that didn’t stop it being any less entertaining. I hear the Blue Ray/DVD is planned for November, so I’m sure you can guess what’s on my Christmas list…

All for now.


Summer 2017 update

How do? As we say in Yorkshire. I just wanted to give you all a quick update as we fast approach the end of summer, not that we have had much of one.

On Sunday (13th August) I will once again be attending comic-con, hosted by Unleashed Events. The previous event was held in my home town of Bradford. This time I will be in the beautiful city of York. I actually lived in York during the late 80s and early 90s when I was a wee lad, so I’m very excited to return.

I will be of course selling paperback copies of Within the Dark Places and its sequel, Where the Darkness Hides.

On 31st August my third book will be available on general release, entitled The Church of Freyr. The novella introduces protagonist Cage Roberts, whom I’m hoping to develop into a further series of books.

The Church of Freyr, and Cage Roberts’ future adventures, moves away from the supernatural style horror of my previous books and explores a more human element.

If you’re able to attend York comic-con, I will be selling a limited number of early release paperback copies of The Church of Freyr.

To let you know, all paperbacks will be sold at comic-con for £5.00, rather than the RRP of £5.99. I am also offering any 2 books for £7.50.

So after comic-con, what’s next? Well, I’m just about in the final stages of editing the third instalment of Within the Dark Places – this will be called Where the Darkness Reigns.

Where the Darkness Reigns will wrap up Joe Costello’s story. No spoilers, but the the novel introduces three new characters who will feature heavily in future work.

All my stories take place in a shared universe, including the Cage Roberts adventures. Where the Darkness Reigns will be the close of phase one of this universe. I’m planning to begin phase two with Cage Roberts’ second outing, which I have started planning and researching this past week.

Before I wrap up I want to give a shout out to a fellow horror writer I have recently discovered – Lee Mountford. His first two novels, Horror in the Woods and The Demonic are fantastic reads – check them out, you won’t be disappointed.

All for now,


On Gaming…

I recently saw a post on social media which proclaimed the 16-Bit era of gaming was the best. This statement caused a lot of debate. As someone who has been an avid games for the past 25 years, having even worked in a video-game store, I completely agree with that statement.

My earliest memories of gaming are from circa 1990/1991. At that time my school would hold what was essential a youth club, every Wednesday evening – aptly named Wednesday Club. There would be a range of activities on offer and you chose which one you wanted to participate in for the evening by booking a place Tuesday morning – a club within a club; Chess Club, Cooking Club, Sports Club etc, and Video Game Club.

Video Game Club was, as you’d expect in the early 90s, very basic. The most advanced console the school could afford to buy multiple units of was some kinds of Atari – possibly a 2600 or a 5200. Despite the simplicity in today’s respects, myself and my fellow class mates were in awe. You have to imagine, there was nothing else like it and for many of us this was the first time we had experienced a video game. I suppose it was something akin to the folks of 1895 when they first saw the Lumiere Brother’s film The Arrival of a Train.

And so I begged my parents for a gaming console. I had seen the Nintendo Entertainment System in the Argos catalogue and decided that was the one for me. Unfortunately my mum, being a bit of a Luddite, was against such devilry being brought into the family home. It also didn’t help that there was a lot of negative press surrounding gaming at the time and she proclaimed she would not spend her money on a gaming console. That didn’t mean to say I couldn’t spend my own money on one…

I had managed to save enough birthday and Christmas money to be able  buy a Sega Master System II. So, in September 1992, for my tenth birthday, my dad took my down to Argos (if you grew up in Britain in the 80s and 90s you know Argos is where everyone got there birthday and Christmas presents from).

So once in store, I found the catalogue code, filled in the slip and was about to take it to the counter when my dad said, “You want a Nintendo really, don’t you?” I didn’t respond, just looked up at him, He then asked, “Nintendo is better though is’t it?” I nodded then told him I couldn’t afford one. I recall the price difference was around £30.00. He then told me to put my money away and bought me a Nintendo Entertainment System – the NES, complete with not one, but two control pads (something which you do not see today as a standard), and Super Mario Bros 3 game.

I brought it home and my mum wasn’t pleased. I hooked it up to the TV, switched it one and… Nothing. Tried again, still nothing. This went on for most of the afternoon without success. Both my mum and dad said they would have a “proper look” while I was in bed that night and try to get it to work.

The next morning I leaped out of bed, in the firm belief they had got it to work. My mum said, “No, we couldn’t get it to work, it needs to be return.” In retrospect, she probably didn’t even try. So I got dressed and went to my friends house. I told my friend about the predicament and he told me… how he knew this I do not know, as he didn’t receive his first game console until three months later… that the TV needed to be tuned to the console.

I raced back home, found the instructions to the TV and looked up how to tune in to a channel. After some tinkering the image of Mario & Luigi jumping around the stage came through in glorious 8-Bit colour.  My mum was fuming to say the least. I never again received a games console as a present; all the proceeding consoles I have owned have been bought with my own money.

The love of the NES was short lived, however, when that Christmas I discovered the console was somewhat dated, when my friends received 16-Bit systems for presents – namely the Sega Mega Drive. Having had to buy my own consoles, I was unable to upgrade until about 1997 when I added my wage from my paper-round to birthday monies. By this time 32-Bit consoles had been on the market for about 3 years. Even so, I still could’t afford the Sony Playstation and had to settle for a Sega Saturn.

But it was between 1993 and 1997 which held the most fun for me, gaming on my friends 16-Bit consoles. There could be up to five adolescent boys sat in a room cramped round the TV taking it in turns with the controller. Even though gaming is often thought of as a solo activity, back then it could still be a very a social experience. Even though multiplayer games were readily available, you were still required to occupy  the same space as the other players.

While I am in amazement with how far technology has come, and you can now play against your friends, or even a complete stranger, without anyone being required to leave the confines of their room, online play is still a solitary experience. In many respects, to me anyway, without having your mates there with you in the thick of it, you might as well just play against the computer.

Another thing about the whole 8-Bit and 16-Bit era (and later with the Nintendo 64) was the game being on a cartridge. For those who do remember the NES, you will recall how the cartridge was a monster; almost the size of the console itself. While the compact disc, DVD and Blue-Ray has allowed significantly more data to be stored, the sheer weight and size of a cartridge made the game feel more tangible as you held it n your hands and inserted it to the machine. In addition, cartridges were different shapes shapes and sizes, unique to the console you owned, giving an other-world appearance; C.D is, well, a C.D. They all look the same and there is something very prosaic about there appearance.

While games today look incredible, and I am in awe at what technology has produced, somewhere along the line they have ceased being games and are now becoming more and more like an interactive movie, with real actors, orchestral scores and in-depth story lines. In fact the last few games I have played ( I own a PS4 these days, in case you were wondering), the game play itself has been very boring and tedious,  certainly not fun – I only persevere  to see how the story will progress, rather than wanting to enjoy the game play.

So why, was the 16-Bit era of gaming (and earlier) better than today’s? Simplicity. It was the simplicity of the games which still allowed you to use your imagination and bring something – a part of yourself – to the game. And when huddled up in a room with four or five of your best friends, all using your imagination, well that’s where the magic happens, not in the game itself but in the comradery. The more technology advances, and the more complex games become, the less we sadly need to use our imaginations. Games have limits – your imagination doesn’t.


2017 Update

Hello, and thanks for stopping by. I’m conscious I haven’t posted in a while, but with my new book being released this time next month (more on this later), I thought this would be a good time bring keep everyone up to date.

So, the last post I uploaded was back in February after I had been to Bradford Comic-Con, organised by Unleashed Events. It was the first event of this nature to be held in my home town and it was a roaring success for everyone involved.

I wanted to give a special mention to a fellow indie-writer I connected with last year via Twitter – Drew Forest. In February I read his second novel Reading the Palms of Dolls. Drew is a fantastic writer and I’m very much looking forward to reading more from him. Check out my review of Reading the Palms of Dolls<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30368595-reading-the-palms-of-dolls” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img 

Another indie-writer I discovered in the last few months was K.T McQueen and her novel Whispers on the Hill. K.T’s writing will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I’m also looking forward to reading the debut novel by promising young writer named Rebecca Poppleton. I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca at Bradford Comic-Con and I can’t wait to make a start on her book The Writer, which is released on 1st June.

Moving on to my own work… My debut novella Within the Dark Places was released nine months ago and sales are steadily growing each quarter with great reviews, so I’m super excited for the release of the follow-up Where the Darkness Hides on 30th June. The story opens with a scene which takes place only hours before the events of Within the Dark Places commenced and then immediately jumps in where we left off. I can’t wait to see what reception this will receive, especially if you have read the first instalment. You can currently pre-order the paperback edition through amazon.co.uk.

As I mentioned, Bradford Comic-Con was a great success. I will therefore be appearing at York Comic-Con (also organised by Unleashed Events) on 13th August. I’ll be selling and signing copies of Within the Dark Places and Where the Darkness Hides as well as having a general chit-chat with anyone who stops by to say hello.

The promoting of Where the Darkness Hides will probably keep me busy up to November when I am please to say by third novella will be released.

The book is called The Church of Freyr and is a new story I penned last summer. I will be releasing further updates and snippets as we head into the autumn. To give you a taste of what to expect, one of my beta-testers described it as Californication meets the Wicker Man. 

Obviously, it’s going to be a busy six months, but that doesn’t mean I have stopped writing. About three months ago I completed the first draft of the second sequel to Within the Dark Places. At present I am in the earlier stages of revision and rewrites, but I’m pleased with how its going so far. This will bring to a conclusion what I have dubbed the The Darkness Trilogy.  There is no planned release date as of yet, but I’m hoping for autumn 2018.

Well that’s all for now. Keep safe and keep reading.









Bradford Comic-Con 2017

Where else could you see Boba Fett, two pirates (with real live Macaws), numerous incarnations of Doctor Who, a dozen versions of Harley Quinn and the Joker, two transformers, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, numerous members of the Avengers and a four year old Stan Lee? That’s right, Bradford Comic Con.

I was there as a trader selling copies of my debut novella, Within the Dark Places and generating awareness of the follow up, Where the Darkness Hides. But despite being busy, on my feet four seven hours straight, working away, I still got to enjoy the event.

My stall was positioned in the best spot possible; directly in front of the special guest tables. Guests included Jeremy Bulloch – Boba Fett (Star Wars), Colin Baker – the sixth doctor (Doctor Who), and Mel Pickup – Athgar Heece (Star Wars 7).

Traders needed to be set up by 9.45 am ready for the early-bird ticket holders entering at 10 am.

While setting up an elderly gentleman came over to say hello. Now at this time the organizers were playing the background music extremely loud (it’s a good job I’m a Depeche Mode fan), so as a result I could not hear a word the chap was saying other than he either caught the plane or the train up to Bradford and he was shocked how cold it was. I smiled politely, then without trying to be rude, encouraged him to leave so I could finish setting up. The gentleman proceeded to make his way to the guest tables and sat behind the one labeled “Jeremy Bulloch”. I turned a lovely shade of red when I realized I had snubbed “The Fett”.

It was now 9.55 and in walked Colin Baker (who I did recognize on sight). He made his way to his table, and to my surprise, he began setting up on his own. I was expecting him to have a PA or the help from the event organizers. But no he did it all by himself. I must say, considering the doors opened to the public at 10am, the Time Lord’s time keeping  left something to be desired. But I am impressed that he (and the other guests) did not need an entourage and were happy to get stuck in like the rest of us.

In terms of my book sales, the event was a little slow to begin with. People took the time to browse over my stall, but mainly while they were waiting in line to have a selfie with Jeremy Bulloch or Colin Baker.

At 11 am none-ticket holders were now allowed entry and it wasn’t too long after this I sold my first book to a lovely young lady; although I did have to do the hard sell.Flustered at my first sale I stuck the money in my pocket instead of my lock-box then tore the paper bag to keep the book clean.

All quiet for another hour, until I saw a work colleague, who initially wanted to buy a copy for her young son. Any one who has read my book will know it isn’t child friendly. I explained this to Louise, who then insisted her husband buy a copy instead.

Soon after I was starting to feel peckish so I brought out my sandwiches. I must remember this trick, as as soon as the ham butties came out, the customers came flocking over.

A teenage boy approached holding a copy of my book, he explained his mum had just bought it. My first felt panic, as I hadn’t anticipated someone wanting to return it (surely it wasn’t that bad?) He then said his mum had sent him over to ask me to sign her copy. I was more than happy to oblige. Gail, if you’re reading this, I hope you enjoyed the book.

Sales for the rest for the day were steady and I even made friends with a couple who run a local comic book shop and they want to stock copies of Within the Dark Places.

At the end of the day, as the traders were packing up I saw Jeremy Bulloch stood waiting for his… I’m not too sure who he was with, she could have been his wife, maybe even his daughter. I walked over to him and asked how his day had been. We reprised our conversation from the start of day – he had flown up from Heathrow to Leeds/Braford airport. Now… I have met a few celebrities in my time (the most memorable being the conversation I had about the police with Bez from the Happy Mondays), but I must say Mr Bulloch AKA Boba Fett is a true gentleman. Some celebrities appear at these events and feel inconvenienced, like they want to be elsewhere, but Jeremy was genuinely pleased to be there and had enjoyed every minute speaking to the fans.

In this day and age where someone can be famous for no real reason at all, it is lovely to see how humble a celebrity can be and genuinely happy to give something back to the fans who helped make his career.