Sunday 30 January 2011

Conjure - The ebook edition

I’m really pleased to announce that my short novel “Conjure” has just been re-published as an ebook by those nice folks at Generation Next Publications. This edition features a new cover design by me, though none of the interior artwork from the book version but, to make up for that, it does include my short story “Empty Souls, Drowning”, which first appeared in my “Strange Tales” collection in 2003 and was the story that introduced my east coast seaside town of Heyton.

The book was first published in 2009 by Rainfall Books (thanks John!) and picked up some good reviews along the way but, through circumstances beyond anyone’s control, wasn’t as widely available as we’d hoped. Which is why I decided to approach Stephen James Price at Gen-Next, to see if he’d be interested - it’s a good story, I like to think it’s well told and it’ll be nice to see it have another crack of the whip. The decision to remove the interior artwork was one based on formatting, but it does add a uniqueness to the print version (which I like the idea of) and I like ‘bonus features’, so suggested we include “Empty Souls, Drowning”. Thankfully, Steve agreed and so this features a story that was first published in 2000, reprinted in my collection in 2003 and hasn’t been available since - a unique selling point for the ebook. Everyone wins.

There’s a dedicated page for the book on my website at here, which has a lengthy afterword, some teaser artwork and some behind-the-scenes info (on the illustrations and the memorial miniature my Dad made) and I’ll post the artwork up there in time.

The ebook version is available through Smashwords - direct link here - for the princely sum of $2.99 (or approx. £1.92 in “real money”) on a wide variety of formats (some of which offer a sample 20% of the text!).
There’s also a Facebook group for the novel, which can be found by clicking this link. Join up, say hello, have a look at the pics!

To further make up your mind, here’re some review highlights:

Matthew Fryer’s review, at his Hellforge website
Mark excels at dialogue and characterisation [and] the setting is perfect, [it] reminded me of several faded resorts: old fashioned and hard-up, but soldiering on with a stiff but weary upper lip. I particularly enjoyed the gothic cinema; a wonderful place that I would love to visit, and now actually feel as though I have.

Conjure flaunts some genuinely spooky moments [and] the supernatural element works so well because the author merges it with fears we understand, such as abduction and infanticide.

This is a strong short novel that only loses points on a couple of issues. I noticed that while his prose is sharp, Mark has a jarring tendency to end sentences with a preposition. And while the plot is well executed, it is somewhat generic. That said, it avoids cheap twists and builds up to a finale that manages to feel classic yet original at the same time. It concludes with a tasty uppercut, just in case you’d forgotten who was in charge.
Highlander’s Book Reviews (4 out of 5)
Mark West has created a marvelously enjoyable short novel which captures some of that faded glory of the seaside resort. Add to that the complex relationship of a young couple who are about to have their first child and all the stresses and joy that comes with it and you have a firm base for the tale. It’s a strangely British tale and reminded me of something that may have been produced in the seventies by Hammer or part of Tales of the Unexpected but very much updated with modern quotas of brutality and gore.

It’s the first I have read from Mark West but he is definitely a name I will be looking out for in the future.

Sam Haine’s bookshop - from the website:

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.

Gary Greenwood - from his website:

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 having just discovered that Beth is pregnant. To be honest, the interaction and lives of the couple are the more interesting aspects of the book with the horror taking a bit of a back seat in places so that when it does intrude, it's something of a shock, obviously the intent.

Go on, give it a go.

An archive shot - fame in New York for Roger Sinclair

A blast from the archives. This recently discovered snap was taken by Walt Saxby, on a working visit to New York in the early 70s and shows Roger Sinclair's first major foray into the foreign film market.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Very chuffed!

"The Lost Film Novella" has been picking up some very good comments from my pre-readers, which is very re-assuring. Last week, in the midst of a conversation about something else, Gary McMahon offered to read it and I sent him over a copy. He read the first six chapters that day, emailing me and saying how good it was. Today, he finished it. And sent me a lovely message (calling it the best work of mine that he's read) and a blurb (should I want one). Here it is, in its entirety, followed by a mock-up cover with a bit of the blurb on it.

I'm chuffed.

"Lights, camera, action...Mark's West's lost film novella will grab your soul by the sprocket holes, pull you into a dark cinematic nightmare, and then re-edit the way you look at the world. Experience it at your peril."Gary McMahon, author of "Pretty Little Dead Things" (and many others too).

Monday 10 January 2011

The Lost Film, more writing and some sleazy reading

"The Lost Film Novella" is picking up some excellent feedback from my pre-readers, much better than I could have hoped for, which I'm really pleased about. Especially since there were a couple of times where I thought "nah, this is stupid" - I'm so glad I carried on! I've yet to read back through it, though I'm looking forward to doing so.

And coincidentally enough, I've found another Roger Sinclair poster. This dates back to 1972 (it's got a really cool title) and stars the wonderful Martine Beswick - who'd made a big splash the previous year with "Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde" - and the lovely Judy Matheson. Sinclair's 'usual suspects' round out the cast.

In other writing news, I've finally had the idea and inspiration for my Spectral Press chapbook. Whether it gets accepted, of course, is a different matter but I like what I'm now calling "Wonderland". Most of it is in my head now (the story needs to run for about 7,000 words) and I'm going to start work on it - all being well - tomorrow. As is my wont, I've done some cover art for it already - see what you think:

And finally, my reading has kicked off this year with "Scourge", by Nick Sharman. In my quest for some sleazy, Peter Raft style horror, I found this in a great 2nd hand bookshop in Leicester. And you know what, this isn't half bad!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

More Lost Film stuff

More of my pre-readers have come back on “The Lost Film Novella” and, in general, the response has been heart-warmingly good. I’m thrilled and itching to get back into it for the third draft, but I want to get all the readers reports back first.

In the meantime, here’s another poster from a Roger Sinclair film. This dates back to 1974 and was, I assume, an attempt by him and Sorrell Eve to cash in on the “Last House On The…” market that was gripping the US at the time. As a bonus, however, they cast Caroline Munro in this and that gets extra marks from me!