Thursday 31 December 2009

Happy 2010, from a Death Star corridor

To any and all readers of this blog/site, I hope you and yours have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.

And, in lieu of any Monoliths, I'll leave you with a picture of me and Matthew, duelling with the lightsabers we got for Christmas (and comped into a Death Star corridor).

Wednesday 23 December 2009

And this year, I've been reading...

Today, I finished “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”, which is the 44th ‘adult’ book I’ve read this year (in addition to 12 Three Investigator books) and, as we tick down towards Christmas, I thought now might be a good time to consider my Top 10s.

I set myself a tough target in 2009, to read 24 books and 12 Three Investigator mysteries. I’ve sailed past that, obviously and it’s been a damned good reading year for it. Since I tend to read in different areas, I’ve separated out the fiction and non-fiction and haven’t completed listings for the comic books or TTI mysteries.

So without further ado, here are my top 20 novels of the year (so far!):

1. Different Skins, by Gary McMahon
2. Chasing The Dead, by Joe Schreiber
3. We All Fall Down, by Simon Wood
4. They (unpublished), by Gary McMahon
5. The Turtle Boy, by Kealan Patrick Burke
6. Promised Land, by Robert B Parker
7. Hugger Mugger, by Robert B Parker
8. Johnny Gruesome, by Greg Lamberson
9. Crimson Orgy, by Austin Williams
10. Tide Of Souls, by Simon Bestwick
11. Stardust, by Robert B Parker
12. The Dare, by John Boyne
13. Vardoger, by Stephen Volk
14. Stories We Could Tell, by Tony Parsons
15. Covenant, by John Everson
16. The Nightwalker, by Thomas Tessier
17. Live Girls, by Ray Garton
18. The Hides, by Kealan Patrick Burke
19. Shrink Wrap, by Robert B Parker
20. A Savage Place, by Robert B Parker

horror - 11 books
crime/thriller - 6 books
drama - 3 books

(note - this was a year of good choices and with less reading volume, several of these books would have easily been my number one choice).

Non-fiction (so far !):

1. Skywalking, by Dale Pollock
2. The Life & Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson
3. On The Road, by Frank Skinner
4. Remember The 80s, by Richard Evans
5. Blondie, by Fred Shruers
6. Once Upon A Galaxy: Making Empire Strikes Back, by Alan Arnold
7. Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, by Philip Glenister
8. Friends Like These, by Danny Wallace
9. The Wah-Wah Diaries, by Richard E Grant
10. INXS - Band On The Road, by INXS and Ed St John

Thursday 17 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

It’s a little bit early, but I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone (and their loved ones) who stops by here, however occasionally, my very best wishes for Christmas and all the best for 2010!

Merry Christmas, one and all!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Someone got the Yarmouth references!

Another paying customer review and - wahey! - another positive one (posted at the Ramsey Campbell message-board)! Thanks a lot, Gary Cole-Wilkin!

Friday 13 November 2009

More "Conjure"-y goodness

More review type goodness, this time from Sam Haine's Book Shop and they were nicely complimentary about me too:

I didn't get to meet Mark unfortunately as he was only at the Con for one day but everyone who mentioned him said he was a good bloke. His book, too, is a good, fast read - it could actually have done with being a bit longer in my opinion, but it's another good 'un.

New Arrival

Congratulations to my kid sister Sarah and her husband Chris, on the safe arrival of their baby daughter Lucy Jane. Mother and baby are both doing very well, Uncle Mark is feeling broody and the Dude is over the moon to have a little cousin.

Me, the Dude and baby Lucy

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Highlander's Book Reviews have just reviewed "Conjure". And quite liked it, which is always nice.

Woo hoo!

Monday 26 October 2009

More reviews!

A couple more reviews for “Conjure” this week, from paying customers - and both of them, I’m very happy to say, are positive. Firstly, Jamie - my fan from Tasmania - emailed me and wrote:

"The book's a fine achievement, Mark. It moves along at a crisp pace, has characters the reader can care about, and a nice climax."

That was very nice - then Kim wrote me a lovely long email that included the phrase “Good job, I enjoyed it”. She also posted the first review at Goodreads, which was very nice of her.
Kim’s review at

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Another review!

...from David Price this time. And he liked it!
It's published on the Facebook group site (which is located here) and below is a lovely little excerpt:
Chilling stuff, Mark, [with] strong characters, and you've done a great job of adding menace to an idyllic setting. Above all, it is a real page-turner, as you never let us forget how much danger the central characters are in (that encounter with the one-armed boy and the crows is a particularly unnerving moment, and you build on that sense of dread) . I would almost describe it as quiet horror - in short, a good, old-fashioned tale of the supernatural. You can definitely be proud of this one.
Thanks, David!

Monday 5 October 2009

First paying customer review

The first review of "Conjure" is now in, from Mr Gary Greenwood.

Gary's review, from his website

Brief bit - It's a good, solid horror novel about revenge from beyond the grave affecting the lives of a young couple who have their own, more realistic worries...

Thanks, Gary!

Thursday 1 October 2009

Local man makes local news...

This is a scan of the article and picture, about me and "Conjure", that appeared in the Kettering Evening Telegraph last night (30/9/09)

Tuesday 29 September 2009


I got an email today, from a chap in Tasmania called Jamie Turner. He first got in touch with me around the time "In The Rain With The Dead" was published - he liked my stuff and wanted to wish me well. Every couple of years, we exchange emails and it's incredibly reassuring to know that somehow, the words that I bash out, actually do speak to someone who is - in this case - on the other side of the world.

Thanks again, Jamie - your support really does mean a lot. I hope you enjoy "Conjure".

Wednesday 23 September 2009

At FantasyCon (and Matthew gets me into trouble)

Last weekend was FantasyCon and I went up to Nottingham for the Saturday only - one year, I’m going to do the whole weekend, I keep promising myself. Due to heavy traffic, I didn’t arrive until 11.30 but met up with Stuart Young straight away and we found a table and caught up. David Price joined us and conversation ranged wildly from what length we’re writing to at the moment (I’m definitely heading for novella/novel) to which era of Robert B Parker’s ‘Spenser’ novels is the best (perhaps unique to Stu & I, that gambit). I then went to Joel Lane’s reading, which went well and whilst there, Ally Bird bought a copy of “Conjure”, as did Gary Cole-Wilkin (and I bought a copy of his CD single).

After lunch, I bumped into Paul Meloy - who was impressed with all of the “Conjure” stuff - and Simon Bestwick and he & I went outside, so that he could have a smoke before his reading. Michael Marshall Smith also went out, but I still daren’t talk to him (one day, I keep telling myself, I’ll pluck up the courage to introduce myself) and then Gary Greenwood and Martin Roberts joined us. Gary & I caught up and had a good laugh and he bought a copy of “Conjure” too - all good stuff. Simon’s reading was poorly attended (it clashed with the launch of “Best New Horror 20” downstairs) but he carried it off well and we stayed in the room (and were joined by more) for the John Probert/Gary McMahon double-act - both very entertaining, in very different ways.

Back in the bar, I chatted with David Price, Andrew Hook (who I’d met briefly the previous year, but we’d never really spoken), Steve Mosby (who I’d just re-connected with on Facebook, from back in the Terror Tales days) and Allen Ashley. With all of the other launches going on, the Abaddon one almost passed me by, but I picked up Gary McMahon and Paul Kane’s new books (and Gary and Simon both bought copies of “Conjure”). I went to check out the dealer room (there were less people around than last year and I feel guilty, doing all that looking and none of that buying!), then met Rob Rowntree and had a chat with him, catching up on his news and talking with members of his Crit-group, including Sharon Kae Reamer.

The day had whizzed by quickly and it was time for the curry, organised by Soozy and Gary Cole-Wilkin, from the Ramsey Campbell message board (to which I’d invited Jay Eales and Selena Locke - it was good to see them again, after Leicester and they bought a copy of “Conjure” too). Our merry band - including Stu Young, Adriana, Pam, Mick & Deb Curtis, John & Kate Probert, Gary & Emily McMahon, Terry Grimwood, John Travis, Simon Bestwick (and chum from Dark Smile), Joel Lane, Gary Fry and Simon Unsworth - trooped off, took over most of Chutneys, but still got our food quickly (and very nice it was too). Back at the hotel, I finally caught up with Paul Finch, who bemoaned the fact that we hadn’t had a chance to speak or that I wouldn’t be able to join him at the bar later.

Then it was the Awards ceremony (I had high hopes for “We Fade To Grey”, but it lost out to “Best New Horror 19”) and it was great to see Ally Bird win for collection and Tim Lebbon’s moving speech for “The Reach Of Children” brought a lump to my throat. After the ceremony, I headed off, saying goodbyes along the way. I’d had a great day and really enjoyed myself, meeting up with old friends and putting faces to previously-only-online-known names. It was great fun and I was filled with a drive to write too, which isn’t to be sniffed at. Roll on next year.
- - -
On Sunday night, back down to earth, I was watching “Top Gear” with Matthew and Clarkson was wheel-spinning in a Ferrari.

“Why’s it smoking?” asked Dude.

“It’s called burning rubber,” I said.

He nodded gravely, then looked at Alison and said “When me and Daddy go out for a drive, we burn rubber.”

Friday 18 September 2009

Conjure now at GoodReads

If you read the book - and I hope you do - maybe you'd like to leave a review of it?

If so, the book is now on GoodReads


Thursday 17 September 2009

Ordering information for "Conjure"


"Conjure" is working its way through the printing system and is almost ready. At the moment, it can be purchased directly from Rainfall Books at:

22 Woodland Park, Calne, Wiltshire. SN11 0JX. U.K

cheques for £8.99 (free post and packing) should be made payable to Steve Lines

alternately, you can send payment (once again, post and packing is free) by PayPal (include your name and address) to either

In addition, Mark West has some copies - email for details and any ‘signing requests’ to m (dot) west31@btinternet (dot) com

Tuesday 15 September 2009

This is the final cover art image for "Conjure". The pier is at Great Yarmouth, which acted as the model for Heyton, so I thought there was a nice symmetry to that.

The original picture was by Darren Martin (thanks for letting me use it), which is located at his Flickr account -

Conjure, at Fearzone

An excerpt from the novel - the full first chapter - is now up for your perusal at

Check it out!

Monday 14 September 2009

Conjure now on Facebook

For those of you on Facebook, I've just set up a group in conjunction with Rainfall Books for the novel. Why not come along and join in the fun - and there'll be details of a competition posted soon!

Conjure - Facebook group

Sunday 13 September 2009

Proof is on its way

I was in Germany, Thursday and Friday, on work business but I picked up an email from John B Ford - the proof is on it's way to me! Woo hoo! I don't know when the completed books will be ready (fingers crossed for FantasyCon), but they will be here very soon. Which is great!

So, another teaser image I think...

I don't have all the details yet, but the book will cost £8.99 and be available direct from the publisher, from the regular online sites and I'll have a few copies for sale too.

More info as and when

Friday 4 September 2009

"Conjure" is coming...

I've just heard from John B Ford, head honcho at Rainfall Books, that "Conjure" is just about to go to the printers. Woo hoo!

Newly pregnant, stuck in a job she doesn’t like and mourning the death of her cousin, Beth Hammond’s life isn’t working out the way she thought it would. So when her boyfriend wins a weekend away, at the east coast seaside resort of Heyton, Beth thinks this could be just what they need - some time to themselves, to get away and relax and make their plans for the future.

Unfortunately, as they begin their weekend, there's an accident at the beach and a centuries old memorial is damaged. Something escapes - a presence that was buried beneath the memorial, sealed in a stone tomb, that now wants desperately to get its revenge on the residents of Heyton.

"...a powerful and convincing piece of horror fiction."
- Gary McMahon, writer of "Rain Dogs" and "How To Make Monsters"

“Mark West is a talent to watch.”
- Peter Tennant, Black Static

8 Most Memorable Times At The Movies

Gary Greenwood originally posted this on his blog, so I thought I’d hijack it and do my own version. To quote him (and Rob Rogers, who Gary lifted it from); "This is not about the best movies you've ever seen. Describe eight experiences watching a movie that stick in your mind as being particularly memorable - for whatever reason."

Star Wars

Still my favourite film of all time, I saw this when it first came out (which I believe was 1978 in this country, making me all of 9). We’d tried to get in for one showing but it was full, so Dad took me and my friend Claire back to Rothwell. We headed off down the Rec., which was fog-shrouded and only realised the time when we could hear Dad calling us, to go off to the next showing. I don’t remember much about the actual film from that day, except that I watched that Star Destroyer come over the camera in almost the first shot and I knew I’d never seen anything like this before in my life.

I was lucky enough to see it in the cinema a few more times - a double-bill with “The Empire Strikes Back” and then a triple-bill (what a marathon that was) with both “Empire” and “Return Of The Jedi” - and I also caught the special editions at the cinema too.

Brilliantly, I’m not getting Matthew into the film and re-experiencing it through his eyes.

Dead Ringers

My friend Craig & I used to go to the cinema a lot in the late 80s/early 90s, alternating between the Kettering, Burton Latimer and Corby ‘theatres’. Can’t do that now, can we, Mr Odeon? I’d loved David Cronenberg’s films since watching “Videodrome” way back in the mid-80s, so rushed along to see this. It wasn’t a popularly held view - including me and Craig, there were only 6 people in the cinema. It’s the quietest I’ve ever heard an audience file out - all of us looked shocked and white faced. What a brilliant film it is.

Basic Instinct

Rubbish film, I know but Alison & I went out as mates on a cinema trip. We went to The Point in Milton Keynes, booked a double bill and watched “Waynes World” first. We then went to get something to eat and, midway through, I asked her to go out with me. Therefore, our first film as a couple was Verhoven’s sleazy thriller. Well, it could be worse…

The Land Before Time

Back in the late 80s, I used to take Sarah to the cinema during school holidays (this was just as video was starting to get a real grip, but we didn’t have a player, so the only place to see big Disney films was at the flicks). I picked this one only because it vividly reminds me, every time I think of it, of the difference between kids and adults (I would have been in my late teens, Sarah around 5 or 6). One of the dinosaurs’ mothers dies, right near to the start. The kids went mental (it was quite a spectacular death if I remember rightly), laughing and shouting. I thought it was very sad and looked around me, trying to see if I was alone, wiping away a stray tear. Turns out I wasn’t - whilst most of the kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves, most of the adults seemed to have “something in their eye”.


I went to see this at The Point, in Milton Keynes, with a friend of mine called Julie. I wasn’t a big fan of Ken Russell, but I did like Theresa Russell. The film started. It was vile. It got worse. To date - and I’ve seen a lot of films at the cinema - this is only film I’ve ever walked out of.

Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger

1977 - my friends and I go on our own to a matinee showing of this (I assume that none of our parents wanted to sit through it). The cinema is chaotic, popcorn everywhere, a lot of noise. This quietens down during the film which I seem to remember I quite enjoyed - no doubt because of the presence of Ms Lambs Navy Rum herself, Caroline Munro. A friend of mine, who’d already seen it, kept telling me about this huge seal that comes out of the ice and attacks the goodies. I was, quite frankly, terrified of what I might see. And then I saw it and realised that my imagination, on occasion, could be three times more powerful than what film-makers could get on the screen.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Nick - who I have now known for 33 years and count as one of my closest friends - and I fell out during the summer of 1981. Not being friends wasn’t pleasant, but neither of us was going to back down (and I can’t even remember what caused us to fall out). It just so happened that, at the same time, “Raiders” arrived at the cinema and nobody I knew wanted to see it - they either didn’t like spiders or snakes or ghosts. Quite by chance, a few days later, our mum’s met in the high street and, whilst talking, discovered that both of us wanted to see the film. I can’t remember now who it was precisely, but we made up and went to see the film and haven’t fallen out since. The irony is that now, I like horror films and Nick doesn’t, yet it was me who covered his eyes when the first ‘angel’ turns into a ghoul at the climax! A fact Nick has never forgotten.

Fatal Attraction

For our first date (I do pick them, don’t I?), I took my new girlfriend Sara to see this at the old Northampton ABC - it was a beautiful old Art Deco theatre, complete with a balcony and an organ that came out of the stage and is now a Jesus Army Centre (thanks for that, Mr Out-Of-Town Odeon). I didn’t think the film was too bad and, as soon as it appeared that Glenn Close was dead in the bath, I knew what was going to happen. This is why, when she leapt out of the water to be shot by Ann Archer, I was watching the rest of the cinema rather than the screen. And I swear it was as if everyone moved into the seat directly behind them - it was a wonderful ripple effect. I’ve never seen it since.

I could also discuss the “Live & Let Die/The Spy Who Loved Me”
double-bill my Dad took me to see, in 1978 - the first Bond films I’d ever seen at the cinema. As an added attraction, not that I really needed one, Corby cinema also had a speedboat in their foyer, which Dad convinced me was Bond’s one from the film. To this day, Roger Moore is still my favourite Bond and these remain my favourite Bond films.

Or “Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock”
- one of the tabloids was running a competition, where you could queue up for free tickets. We did - me and my friend Steve and his sister - and spent a happy few hours in the queue, chatting away to our fellow would-be patrons and got the tickets and enjoyed the film. I later wrote an essay about the day, which won an English prize that year at school.