Wednesday 29 December 2010

My Top Reads Of 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, it’s time for the third annual “Mark West’s Top Reads Of The Year”. It’s been a bumper year, has 2010, with a total of 48 books read (30 fiction, 11 non-fiction and 7 ‘comics’) along with 12 Three Investigator titles and there haven’t been too many stinkers either.

My Top 20 Fiction titles of 2010
1. All That Mullarkey, by Sue Moorcroft
2. The End - CFF (published 2011) - by Gary McMahon
3. Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg
4. Starting Over, by Sue Moorcroft
5. What They Hear In The Dark, by Gary McMahon
6. Hungry Hearts, by Gary McMahon
7. God Save The Child, by Robert B Parker
8. Looking For Rachel Wallace, by Robert B Parker
9. Mortal Stakes, by Robert B Parker
10. Pretty Little Dead Things, by Gary McMahon
11. The Judas Goat, by Robert B Parker
12. Three Shirt Deal, by Stephen J Cannell
13. Birth Marks, by Sarah Dunant
14. Blonde On A Stick, by Conrad Williams
15. Dead Bad Things - CFF (published 2011) - by Gary McMahon
16. Where The Heart Is, by various (ed. Gary Fry)
17. A Matter Of Blood, by Sarah Pinborough
18. The Harm, by Gary McMahon
19. Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby
20. The Godwulf Manuscript, by Robert B Parker

As my main writing project this year was a crime/horror hybrid, I intentionally set out to read a lot of crime - this coincided with a decision to get back into the Spenser series, following the death early in the year of Robert B Parker. I’ve also read a lot of Gary McMahon this year, both as critiques (the Angry Robot and NewCon Press books) and purchases and it’s great to see my old writing group chum Sue Moorcroft ploughing ahead (I loved “All That Mullarkey” when I first read it, back in 2000 or so and it’s mentioned in “Conjure” too).

The Non-Fiction looks like this:
1. 1980s: Decades Of Our Lives, by Various
2. The Complete Making Of Indiana Jones, by Laurent Bozreau
3. MMS Annotated Bibliography, by Lavie Tidhar
4. ILM: The Art Of Special Effects, by Thomas G Smith
5. Premiere - Film Cuts
6. My Booky Wook, by Russell Brand
7. Blade Runners, Deer Hunters and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, by Michael Deeley
8. The Time Of My Life, by Patrick Swayze
9. Ooh! What A Lovely Pair, by Ant & Dec
10. Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher

Here’s to 2011 - cheers, everyone!

Friday 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

For everyone who pops along here, thanks for your support and I'd like to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2011!

Wednesday 22 December 2010

"Curse Of The Witch"

This is the movie poster from one of Roger Sinclair's earlier films, made well before he destroyed his career and several lives with 'Terrafly', his magnum opus

(from The Lost Film novella)

Monday 20 December 2010

The Lost Film Novella - early reports in and they're looking good!

I started to give out my pre-reader copies of “The Lost Film” novella on Friday, with the last couple going on Saturday. I didn’t expect to see anything back much before Christmas and was quite happy with that - it’s not far off being a short novel, I know that people are busy now, I couldn’t see it happening.

Andrew Murray, my Antipodean chum, came back on Sunday evening saying it was very good. Tonight, my old friend David Roberts came back saying, amongst many other lovely things, that “they get better each one I read”. To top that off, my brother-in-law started reading it yesterday and finished this evening. He liked it a lot too.

I already had a good feeling about this - it’s just getting better now!

Thanks lads - and here's a rare picture of Roger Sinclair, drinking to our health!

A recommendation...

Just a quick heads up, to those of you out there looking for something dark and supernatural to get your teeth into. I’ve been lucky enough to get an early read of the debut story/chapbook from Spectral Press - “What They Hear In The Dark”, by Gary McMahon.

I’m still reeling. Not just from the story, because that is truly a thing of genius, but because I got an early copy to give me an idea of what I needed to write, as I’m lined up for Spectral Press edition too. Having read this, I now think I maybe ought to get out whilst the going’s good and take up needlework.

I’ve published my review at GoodReads (direct linked from here), so you can read it for yourself, but I’ll just put a little here -

Emotionally devastating, told with your McMahon’s usual brisk style without an ounce of fat or excess, this is gripping and painful and beautiful and honest and bleak as all hell.

Do yourself a favour, get over to
Spectral Press and order yourself a copy!

Friday 17 December 2010

The Lost Film Novella

Yes, it’s done! The 2nd draft is now complete, at 47,219 words (yes, it went a little long on my proposed target of 35,000 - I hope Steve Bacon isn’t too annoyed with me!) and I’ve already sent out a couple of pre-reader copies. I’ll leave it to sit for a while (I was 47 days on the 1st draft and 10 on the second, so I can’t see the wood for the trees now) and then read it to Alison and collate all the notes before cracking on with draft 3.

Here’s a rough synopsis of the tale, that I included in the pre-readers letter:

Gabriel Bird is a private investigator from Gaffney who is hired to find an exploitation film-maker from the seventies called Roger Sinclair. There’s also a problem with the last film he made, his magnum opus, which seems to have a peculiar effect on those who watch it. The trail leads Bird to Oxford and Bedford, back to Gaffney and then to Heyton, an east coast seaside resort. Along the way, people tell lies and die and as Gabriel gets closer to the truth, it seems like everything he’s ever known and believed in is about to crumble around him.

I’m obviously thrilled to be at this point - the idea has been around for a little while, but it was talking with Steve Bacon that gave me the impetus to crack on with it and I’ve really enjoyed the process. There was quite a bit of research involved - both in terms of exploitation films and also the voice, which explains why I’ve read more crime thrillers this year than anything else - but it was all great fun and I loved weaving true facts into the fictional ones I was littering the manuscript with.

Next up, I’m going to read through the first Spectral Press chapbook (“What They Hear In The Dark”, by Gary McMahon) with a view to writing my entry to the series. That will take me, I imagine, over Christmas and perhaps into the New Year and then who knows? There’s still the Lost Film to complete, the proper collab with Steve Bacon, the top secret sleaze project and my “Shine” novel, which I’m determined to get going on.

It’s all go here and I love it!

“Parallel Lines”, by Gerry Balding
from his photo-stream on Flickr here)
I’ve used this photograph because there’s a place in the fens, where the river Heyt runs close to the railway, that means an awful lot to the characters in this book - and nothing pleasant happens to any of them there!

More writing news

Really chuffed to announce that my short "Dreaming Of A Black Christmas" will appear in the Estronomicon Christmas edition e-zine. I'll post the link up when the zine goes live.
For those who might recognise the title (thinking of my kid sister, here, nobody else is likely to!), the story originally appeared in the Terror Tales Christmas anthology of the same name back in 2000. It was reprinted in my "Strange Tales" collection in 2003.

I like it, a very dark little seasonal tale. I hope you, dear reader of this blog, will enjoy it too!

Wednesday 8 December 2010


Some writing news - I started the 2nd draft of “The Lost Film Novella” today and managed to cut about 1,000 words from 12,000. Not the best of starts, so I may have to do a draft 2a before I send it out to my pre-readers. I posted this up at Facebook, along with the fact that I didn’t have a title and no less a horror-writing-personage (and literary hero of mine) than Nicholas Royle commented, saying I should keep it as “The Lost Film Novella”. So I think I just might do that!

In short story news, “Come See My House In The Pretty Town” is out in submission, so I hope that goes well. Better news is that “Mr Huxton Goes Camping” has been accepted into Peter Mark May’s “Alt-Dead” anthology, where it’ll be sharing space with some great writers. I might also get to have a crack at the cover art too, which is always nice.

Onwards and ever upwards!

Sunday 5 December 2010

I want to read these!

Jason Morgan, over at the Peter Raft Online Resource, has posted the cover art of some more books by Mr Raft. You might recall I read “Zombie” a little while back and really enjoyed it and these latest additions seem right up my alley (more so that a couple were published by Fontana, so they should be easier to pick up).

As good as the stories sound, however, it’s the artwork that I think is fantastic and so here they are (scans courtesy of Jason Morgan):

Some men like breasts, some like bums, some like full red lips. Barry Charles loves women’s feet. He likes to stroke them, to pamper them, to kiss them and to do much more. So much more. Worse, Barry doesn’t care if the woman enjoys the attention or not.

Sweeping through the London of today, finding his prey in the clubs and disco’s that glitter in the capital, Barry is looking for the perfect feet. And when he meets Stef Sukowski, an American exchange student, it appears that he’s found them. But Stef has other ideas. And she certainly doesn’t want to end up wearing…

Toe Tags

Published by Fontana Books (97800061522137), December 1979

Annie Sexton has a plan in life. Meet and marry an older man, get him to make her chief beneficiary in his will and then do her utmost to lead him to his death - athletic sex, scares, anything will do. Annie is very good, she’s just about to marry husband number three and he’s richer than the others put together. He’s also heavily into Black Magic.

On a rain-swept night, Annie tempts him to a tryst in the local cemetery and she once again becomes a young widow. But in death, her deceased husband is now more powerful than she could have ever imagined. And from that point on, with every step she takes…

Death Stalks Her

Published by Fontana Books (97800061522167), May 1980