Launch of Strange Days Press

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own publishing imprint for some time and after some consideration and consultation with others, I’ve decided to go for it.

I’m delighted to say that my baby “Strange Days Press” will soon be up and running and will publish my novella The Locked Room which  I hope will go to market around November of this year.

I’m well aware of the pitfalls of the self-publishing industry and indeed some of the stigma that surrounds it, however I feel I have a decent business model in place for the imprint and my intention is to work with professional, quality editors, artists and formatting service providers to produce good quality products both in print and digital formats.

My writing mojo has discovered a little bit of a second wind lately and I feel passionate enough about the new material I’m writing to go ahead with this. Whilst it is a lot of work and I’m sure there’ll be some bumps along the way, it’s also an exciting project for me to focus on.  Through Strange Days Press, my aim is to give my work the best possible independent platform it can have.

If the Press is successful and grows, it may well be the case I can work with other authors in the future, too.  But for the moment, I will not be accepting submissions from authors.

I currently have a website under construction for the Press which will launch within the near future.

That’s it for now and thanks for stopping by my blog.

Jonathan

 

 

The Locked Room and other things

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Since just before the Christmas break, I began working on a new novella which I have had plotted out for quite some time.  With the working title The Locked Room I hope to have it finished by late summer and ready to go to market by the end of the year both as paperback and kindle editions.  There will be a limited number of signed copies also.

The Locked Room is without question the most ambitious piece of work I’ve attempted thus far and it’s certainly proving to be a testing challenge.

Additionally, I have to be a little coy right now, but I hope to have some other news within the next few months regarding my work.  Something I feel quite excited about.

Finally, I have decided to step back from being so active on social media and limit my posts to mainly promote my writing and that of some of my peers with recommendations and reviews.  In short, I felt I needed to step back from the distracting and often irritating white noise of social media.  I trimmed a number of connections on Facebook and should you have found yourself “unfriended”, it’s certainly nothing personal.  If you are interested in still following my work, please do add me again and I’ll be only too happy to connect with you.  I truly value the interest and support.

That’s it for now, but I’ll post more in the near future on The Locked Room and other projects I have in the mix.

Best wishes for 2016 from me.

/Jonathan

 

 

 

 

The Road Ahead…

It’s been a wcreepy-ghost-wallpaperhile since I posted here and I’m slowly grinding away at the current projects I have on my desk. I recently completed a short tale titled “White Faces” and I’m currently running this through it’s final polishing and beta tests.  I attempted something a little different with this story and it’s a little bit left of field from my usual style.

I am also on the lookout for a suitable anthology for my short tale “Crawlers” which is now the finished article.  Regrettably, I haven’t seen the right opportunity for this pulpy tale of a man being driven crazy by the infestation of strange looking cockroaches that try to overrun his apartment.

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I still have two novellas in the mix, (Working titles“The Locked Room” and “Wish” and also my debut novel “Dark Places”). I have labelled July 2016 as a final completion date for the novellas.

My sincere hope is to find a home for these as well as my completed short tales, going forward. After a very difficult year, I’m regaining some hope and confidence in my writing.  And right now, that’s all I can ask for.

Jonathan

Kiss and Tell makes a comeback.

I noticed recently that my little non-horror tale of noir Kiss and Tell had it’s initial “R” rating at Wattpad changed to “Mature” and made not available to the public!

Why changing the rating and then immediately censoring the story anyway is beyond me, however Kiss and Tell still lingers and is available as a free PDF below.  I always intended Kiss and Tell to be a free story, so here it is.

When arrogant office worker Nick Hagan agrees a silly bet with beautiful, red headed bombshell and co-worker Naomie Neary that even she could not bed the anti-social office nerd, events take an unexpected turn

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KissAndTell

False-Starts, Arseholes and the Green Eyed Monster in Gothenburg

I haven’t posted on my blog for a while and that’s for a multitude of reasons.

Despite a promising start to 2015, this year has plummeted for me personally and had a serious knock on effect to my writing.    Because of other issues, my writing projects have suffered greatly to the point that I haven’t been emotionally or physically well enough to pursue doing something I really enjoy-writing.   I seem to be rubbing shoulders with a lot of arseholes in my daily life, too whether that be in a physical sense or on social media.   I seem to magnetically attract arseholes.    Thankfully I attract some nice people too, and they make the arseholes bearable.   It’s the only reason I still persist with social media, to be quite frank.

Not being able to write has made me angry, fucking angry, and bitter too.  Jealous of my peers, which is stupid, and selfish when you know first hand the hard work that they put in to make their stories and novels happen.  I suppose it’s not their success that’s given me the green eyed monster, it’s just the hurt and fear that I carry around like a bag of bricks that I’ll never write again, myself.   Which at the moment, is how it feels.

I’ve developed a kind of blind terror, too.  An almost acidic reaction to the prospect of sitting down and writing, even though I have a few projects I’m enthusiastic about and feel they could be something worth writing and stories worth telling.    Despite the pep talks, the good advice and the kind words, I still worry I’m shite and can’t deliver the goods as an author.  It hurts. A lot.

I’m thankful for my friends, I don’t have so many good friends and some of them have been there for me over the last few months.  If you’re reading this then you know who you are. And thank you. Truly.

A month on holiday was just what I needed to try and take stock and get a little perspective and I’m happy to say I feel better.    Although a part of me feels like jacking in writing, something is making me hesitate.   Maybe it’s my stubbornness, maybe I’m just fucking stupid and in denial.  Who knows.

All I know is, I’m not yet ready to chuck in the towel.   Something lingers.  The battery hasn’t died completely and I wonder if I just give it a minute and then try turning over the engine again, if it will fire up.

I guess time will tell.

There must be something in the water….

I’m delighted RR_Gal8to say that my novella Rainfall is nearing the finish line.  I began this project in 2012 and for various reasons, it got shelved and proceeded to hang in a kind of development hell.   But after some tender loving care and revisions, it began to breathe again.

Rainfall represents the type of novella I’ve wanted to write since I started writing seriously and hangs somewhere between 28 Days Later meets The Crazies.  It’s without question the most pulpy and brutal thing I’ve ever penned, but I’m finally happy with it.

I’m going to begin the editing process soon and hope to have the finished cut available in a few months.   I still don’t know what route I will take for publication of Rainfall.   I plan on submitting it to a few publishers for consideration.  We’ll see after that.   For now, here’s the blurb.

“When three weeks of constant torrential rain hits the UK, chaos ensues as emergency services are stretched to breaking point.  The rule of law begins to crumble as looting, rioting and crime spreads throughout the country like wildfire.

The whole country breathes a sigh of relief when the rains finally relent and and the flood waters begin to recede.

But the rains were just the beginning.  For within their dark dirty drops lies the birth of something else.   Something terrifying”

 

 

Interview with Rich Hawkins…

I don’t get too many visitors around here.  I think it’s the dried blood on the door handle and the pungent waft of offal that puts people off…

Anyway, my mate and fellow scribbler Rich Hawkins stopped by for a cup of cold coffee, a piece of cake and to answer some questions.

I met Rich through social media a few years back and meeting fellas like him reminds me why I still persist with social media. Rich is a good lad and a promising new voice11040115_907806425907715_1923455989_n in the genre.

Rich released his novel The Last Plague last year through Crowded Quarantine Publications and it was well received.  The word on the street is he’s working on a sequel.   Rich has also just released his novella Black Star Black Sun from April Moon Books which is now available for Kindle and Paperback.

Last-Plague

So, on with the interrogation:

(Q) I’ve often felt as a writer the horror genre is misunderstood.  What attracts you to the genre as a reader and writer and what do you think of the label “horror”?

As a writer, the sheer possibilities of the genre appeal to me. Horror can be found anywhere, from something as fantastic as a Lovecraftian beast from outer space to something as ‘ordinary’ as an abused spouse. I’ve always been fascinated by ‘cosmic horror’, the idea of the universe as fundamentally hostile and uncaring to humans.

As a reader, much the same, especially when some of the best writers alive today are writing in the horror genre.

There is a certain snobbery towards the label ‘horror’, even from some in the genre itself…but sod ‘em. Let them call it whatever they want. It’s still horror.

(Q) What are you views on the self-publishing revolution within the industry and have you embraced the Kindle as a reader and consumer?

images I’ve never self-published and don’t plan to any time in the near future, but I have no problem with self-publishing and the massive amounts of self-published books now on the market. Some are excellent, some are good, and some are shit, just like traditionally published books. It all depends how much time, effort and skill is put into the book. Good front covers help, too.

I love my Kindle – I’ve found so many new writers through it that would have remained unknown to me if it weren’t for digital publishing, and it’s really helped to get my own work out there.

As Jordan and Peter Andre once sang – ‘It’s a whole new world’. Sorry…

(Q) How would you best describe your own work and what would you describe as your greatest achievement to date with your writing?

I struggle to describe my own work without sounding too pretentious. I try to make my stories bleak and dark; and I think a lot of my pessimistic, cynical nature bleeds into my writing.

Yeah, I sound pretentious…

I’ll always have a soft spot for my debut novel ‘The Last Plague’, no matter what happens in the future. And it hasn’t done too bad for itself, I suppose.

(Q) As a modern day hack, many of us struggle to juggle writing, holding down a day job and daily/family life.  Describe any given day at the Hawkins household and how you incorporate writing into your routine?

A usual day comprises of working my day job from 6 am till 2.30 in the afternoon, then once I’m home and knackered from hauling trolleys of milk from lorry trailers, I try to get some writing done between helping to look after the baby and any household jobs that need doing. Usually once my daughter’s gone to bed in the evening I have a couple of hours to write. It’s difficult, but I don’t have a choice. I have to write.

(Q) With the whole social media phenomenon, access to other authors is relatively commonplace these days.  What are your views on exposure to readers and other writers?   Have you ever crossed swords with another author for any reason?

I think it’s good for authors to talk to readers and other writers on social media. It’s a lonely job, so it helps to be in contact with other writers. I’ve had a falling out or two with other writers, but nothing serious. It happens. People will always disagree on certain things.

(Q) Many authors struggle with negative reviews for a variety of reasons.  What are your views generally on receiving negative reviews?

They used to really bother me and make me question my competence as a writer, but over the last year or so, and since the release of The Last Plague, I’ve realized it’s pointless to worry about bad reviews; I can use that energy to write instead. To be honest, I’m just grateful to get reviews.

(Q) Have you ever had the dreaded “creative block” and what do you do to tackle it?

I struggle to get through lean periods when writing seems pointless, especially when the black dog is sitting next to me and telling me I’m useless. All I can do to get through is to wait it out until it passes. And it does eventually. That’s the only good thing about it.

(Q) We have previously talked about the awkwardness that accompanies self-promoting our own work, which is essential for indie writers without a publisher or agent behind them.  How do you handle marketing and promotion?

I really struggle with promotion. It makes me feel cheap. The internet, especially Facebook and Twitter, is teeming with spammers who have no problem spunking Amazon links all over the place. Which, in itself, is not such a bad thing, but when it’s done every day without respite it becomes tiresome. I try to do some promotion once a week, in the way of posting links to my work. I’m also trying to blog more and see if it helps. Crowded Quarantine Publications, who published ‘The Last Plague’ have done a great job of promoting the book, by placing adverts in horror magazines, and ezines, so that’s definitely helped gain exposure for it.

I think the best thing you can do is just write and hope people enjoy what you’ve created and that word-of-mouth will do the rest. Maybe a lot of it is just luck.

(Q) Describe your writing style and how you feel you have honed your craft as a writer since you began writing?

I’m not sure I have a style, to be fair. A lot of it depends on the story. I try not to be too ‘flowery’ with my prose. Hopefully I’ve improved since those early days of sending off submissions to literary agents in the forlorn hope they’d take me on. I feel that I’ve tightened up my writing and improved the way I structure sentences. I just have to keep improving.

(Q) Do you believe an elitism culture exists within the mainstream industry, in that an acclaimed author who has a solid reputation behind them can knock out a dud and still achieve publication with mainstream publishers/anthologies because their name sells books?  Or do you believe all work is judged on its individual merits regardless?

Oh, definitely – big names sell books. I wish it were different, but it is what it is.

(Q) Who are the authors you most admire and why?

There are many, but if I had to name a chosen few it’d be David Moody, Wayne Simmons, Adam Nevill, Gary McMahon, Laird Barron, Tim Curran, Conrad Williams, and HP Lovecraft. They’re all great storytellers, and for different reasons, but they all have in common the skill to draw in a reader and keep them enthralled with the story. I’ve met David and Wayne a few times before, and they’re great blokes full of advice and encouragement.

There are also a lot of new and lesser-known writers coming through. They have big futures. I think the horror fiction genre is in good hands at the moment.

(Q) What are you currently working on and do you have any planned release dates for any new material?

At the moment I’m working on the sequel to The Last Plague, currently titled ‘The Last Outpost’. I’ve nearly finished the first draft, and it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve had to write. It’s been a struggle, but there are harder jobs and I’m not complaining. I’m also preparing a supernatural novel called ‘Sacred Relic’, which I hope to have done by the summer.

My novella ‘Black Star, Black Sun’ has just been released by April Moon Books, and I’ve got some short stories appearing in anthologies in the next few months.

You can keep up with  Rich at his blog at http://richwhawkins.blogspot.co.uk and also find his books by visiting the following links:

Sneak Preview of my new upcoming novella “Rainfall”

I have had two novellas in development for quite some time.  One of which is Rainfall. I began Rainfall in 2012 and shelved the project to work on other material.    But recently, I have begun putting the finishing touches to the final draft and I’m pleased to say it’s nearing the finish line   Rainfall in many ways represents the novella I have really wanted to write since I began writing.   I have no release dates, yet and haven’t even approached any publishers.  But for now, here’s the blurb….

RR_Gal8

“When three weeks of constant torrential rain hits the UK, chaos ensues as emergency services are stretched to breaking point.  The rule of law begins to crumble as looting, rioting and crime spreads throughout the country like wildfire.

The whole country breathes a sigh of relief when the rains finally relent and and the flood waters begin to recede.

But the rains were just the beginning.  For within their dark dirty drops lies the birth of something else.   Something terrifying”

Crawlers…..

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 He felt a burning on his skin, the secretions the roaches were depositing already beginning to harden like glue.   Danny tried to move his hands and fingers, but they were already numb.  They were useless

Following a horrible recurring dream, I had an idea for a short tale which feeds off one of my own fears. I hate insects, spiders and anything that scuttles or slithers.

From that, I crafted Crawlers, a short and gritty tale of an agoraphobic man who’s run-down apartment becomes infested with odd looking cockroaches seemingly intent on driving him mad.

I hope to find a home for Crawlers either in an anthology or magazine publication somewhere.