Monday, 23 December 2019

My Creative Year 2019

Continuing a tradition (the seventh occasion!), here's my annual look back at the year from a creative standpoint.
During the year I wrote two short stories (one of which Phil Sloman was kind enough to ask me for, see below for details) and a lot of essays for this blog (which is always enjoyable).  Most of my creative time was focussed on novels and all the attendant work to do with the admin of submitting them.  The second thriller novel, with the working title Hunted, went out to a lot of agencies and got some decent feedback but no bites.  I revised my first novel Hangman and re-sent that out too.  In the meantime, I started work on Novel 3 (I'm calling it Death At The Seaside but that won't stick) and, once again, hugely enjoyed the plotting process while out walking with David Roberts and Pippa.

* * *
I had one short story published.

Compass Wood appeared in The Woods, a Hersham Horror Books PentAnth anthology edited by Phil Sloman.  It was launched at Edge-Lit 8.
At the launch of The Woods, on stage at Edge-Lit 8 with, from left - James, Penny Jones, me, Cate Gardner, Simon B and Duncan Bradshaw (pic courtesy of Laura Mauro)

* * *
Ellen Datlow, as part of her Best Horror Of The Year anthology, included my short story Brooks Pond (which I wrote about here) in her Recommended Reading/Honorable Mentions List.  I was amazed and even more chuffed to see I got a mention in her round-up too and you can see more of her recommendations here.

* * *
My short story Mr Stix, originally published in For The Night Is Dark (edited by Ross Warren) and reprinted in my 2017 collection Things We Leave Behind, has been republished by PenMan Press as an e-chapbook available on Kindle.
When Sam Murphy's seven-year-old daughter Janey starts to suffer night terrors, he does his best to assure her that Mr Stix - a voice from the shadows who says "mean things" to her - can't hurt her.

Sam later finds the grotesque Mr Stix in the family bathroom and then his terrified wife tells him the story of her own childhood night-time fears.

If you're not in the UK, you can use this link -

* * *
Jim Mcleod, at Ginger Nuts Of Horror, included The Woods in his Picks Of Year, calling Compass Wood a "fast-paced and action-filled tale".  You can read his full listing here.

Drive was reviewed by Andrew Hook at Goodreads who wrote: "If there's a definition of a page-turner, then this novella is it."  You can read the full review here.

Brooks Pond from The Black Room Manuscripts 4 was reviewed by Chris Hall at DLS Reviews who wrote: "the sort of story that keeps you on your toes, thinking you know where it’s going, only for it to unexpectedly shift course.  And the ending.  What an ending!  It’s dark, twisted and executed to absolute perfection." You can read the full review here.

Compass Wood was reviewed by Ben Walker at Kendall Reviews, who wrote: "delivers some decent frights [and] the image of the lunatic in pursuit of the story’s lead character stuck in my head for a while after the punchy ending."  You can read the full review here.

* * *
The Crusty Exterior - or constituent parts - managed two gatherings.

The first, which Phil Sloman unfortunately couldn't get to, was a meet-up in Leicester for my 50th birthday and I wrote about it here.

The second, organised by James but without Steve Harris, saw a gang of us meet up in Nottingham to sample bookshops, the Paupers' graves and a fine curry house.  I wrote about it here.
Crusties in Leicester, 2nd February 2019
 from left: John Travis, Sue Moorcroft, me, Steve Harris, Linda Nagle, David Roberts, James Everington & Steve Bacon
Birthday meal at Carluccio's Leicester with me, Sue, Linda, Steve, John, Steve, James & David

Crusties in Nottingham, 15th April 2019
from left - Wayne Parkin, me, Simon Jones, Penny Jones, Selina Lock, Richard Farren Barber, James Everingon, Phil Sloman and Jay Eales
* * *
To help celebrate the publication of her 15th novel, Let It Snow, I interviewed Sue Moorcroft at Rothwell Library in November.  A hugely enjoyable evening, we had a good turnout, a lively Q&A session and Sue did a reading - it also helped benefit the library, which I was really pleased about.  You can read my report on the event here.
Me and Sue Moorcroft, Rothwell Library, 13th November 2019
* * *
I only attended the one Con this year, Edge-Lit 8, held at The Quad in Derby on 13th July (see my report here).  Sledge-Lit was postponed for the year and FantasyCon was held in Glasgow, but the time-off requirements to travel proved sadly beyond me.
from left - me, Sue Moorcroft, Ross Warren, Peter Mark May, James Everington

from left - Simon Clark, John Travis, Steve Harris, Linda Nagle and me
* * *
I'm feeling confident for 2020 too, as I crack on with the thriller novel and, whatever happens, I'll keep you updated as to how things go.

As always, thank you so much, dear readers of this blog, for all your support in 2019, especially those who bought, read and liked my work - I really do appreciate it.

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