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Hi there from a world that smells distinctly of rotten cabbage. Seriously. I have no idea why, but the world around me that two days ago had blue skies, uncomfortable temperatures and the haze of sea air has been replaced by fog, cold, wind, and the aforementioned cabbage smell. Living in the countryside is weird.
I’ve had a bit of a surreal few weeks for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into now, but I missed the opportunity to mark the second anniversary of my first novel, Blood on the Motorway, which is now officially two years and a few days old. That’s a weird thing to realise, that I’ve had a book baby out there for long enough that its human equivalent would be trashing my living room as it learned to walk. Not only that, but it’s got two siblings that are on their way there, too.
So, in order to honour the anniversary, and given that I’m not going to have a new book out for a while, I’ve decided to relaunch the whole trilogy. I’ve got lovely new covers, new blurbs and the like, and they are a go. So, behold, the new and improved Blood on the Motorway series!
Sexy, aren’t they?
Now we come to the part where I need your help. The point of the new covers and the relaunch is to get the books in front of more readers like yourself, but Amazon and the other stores still see it as a book that’s been out for a few years, so if I’m going to get it in front of readers then we’re going to need to tickle those algorithms.
So, I’ve put Blood on the Motorway at a discounted cost of 99p/99c. If you can spare that, and you’ve not yet bought the book, I’d really appreciate it if you could pick up a copy. If not, if you’ve enjoyed the book why not point them in that direction? Every share on Facebook or Twitter is worth a million ads or posts by me. Or, if you’ve not done so, you could leave a review. Every action like that tickles the mighty algorithm under the chin, and prompts the world’s longest river to put my book in front of more people that might like it. Hell, if we could get Blood… charting in one of the nebulous categories, that’d be amazing.
If you’ve not yet read it, then you’re in for a treat. It's the first book in a trilogy of murder and mayhem set against the backdrop of the end of the world. It follows a disparate group of ordinary people as they try to deal with the fallout.
There's Tom, an ex-student waiting for his life to start or the power to get cut off, whichever comes first. Jen works two jobs, hates both, and most days is too hungover to deal with either. Detective Burnett is trying to work out who the hell has turned his sleepy English village into a murder town.
Then the skies fill with a mysterious storm, and each of them wakes to find streets filled with bodies. The world they knew has gone, and their old lives with it. Now Tom finds himself at the hands of a deranged mercenary, Jen finds herself trying to keep two lovestruck teenagers alive, and Burnett must track down a killer who sees the apocalypse as an opportunity for more mayhem.
Who will survive this gripping and blackly comic saga of murder and stale sandwiches at the world’s end? Well, grab the first book and find out for yourself.
So, if you can spare it, and you want to support your indie author friend, please follow the link and pick up a discounted copy. I’d really appreciate it.
There’s some other rather exciting stuff, but I’ll come to that another time. In the meantime, if you can help get the word out, that’d be amazing.
It's Halloween, and that means just one thing. That's a lie, actually, Halloween means lots of things. Pumpkin carving, sexism in fancy dress costumes, kids at their cutest, sugar overloads, and the best Buffy episodes. But for the sake of this announcement, it means one thing: A Final Storm, the final book in the Blood on the Motorway trilogy, is on sale now! You can buy your copy at any of these fine retailers, at the click of a button.
So, what's it about, you may ask? Well, six months have passed since the storm laid waste to humanity, and life is approaching something like normality once more.
In Birmingham, Burnett's new Government is trying to stand on its own feet, while Lydia tries to find some peace. In London, Max is trying to keep his new family together and away from the psychotic gang leader making a play for the ruined city. Out on the road, Tom and Mira are grieving, just trying to stay alive, when bandits come to tear them apart.
But the sky is full of lights once more, and they'll need more than dumb luck to get them through this storm.
Who will survive, and who will thrive, in this heart-pounding finale to the Blood on the Motorway saga?
Find out for yourself, by picking up your copy of A Final Storm, today!
Michael Hodges is one of horror writing’s most exciting up and coming writers. His latest book, Black Friday, charted straight at the top of the horror charts, and he's building a track record in Hollywood, with his novel The Puller optioned for Hollywood adaptation, and other potential deals in the works. He also seems like a pretty decent fella, and has decent taste in music to boot. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk to him about horror, music, and photography.
PS: What was the first thing that got you interested in horror?
MH: It had to be the woods at night. I spent a lot of time in the Northwoods of Michigan and Wisconsin. My grandmother, when driving back to the cabin at night, would sing spooky songs to goof on us kids. I wondered what was out there, beyond the penumbra.
PS: Do you consider yourself primarily a horror author?
MH: Good question. If I had to take a step back and examine my genre, I’m more of a hybrid. My stuff doesn’t fit neatly into boxes. For example, my novels will always be filled with research and science, which makes them lean towards the Michael Crichton side of things. But at the same time, my novels are typically darker and more violent than his. If anything, I’d classify myself as a writer of science fiction/horror.
PS: We connected on Twitter through a shared love of the band Crippled Black Phoenix, who we’ve both used as an inspiration to our writing. Do you always write while listening to music, and what other bands or artists provide the score for your books?
MH: Ha, that’s funny, because I’m listening to Crippled Black Phoenix as I type this. I always write with music. Certain songs are attached to characters and scenes. I’m writing a novel called “The Last Colossus”, and the song “You Take the Devil Out of Me” by CPB is integral to the creative process.
As far as other bands, I have a top five “all time”: Pink Floyd, Grandaddy, M83, The Flaming Lips, and Radiohead.
PS: Who is your favourite horror writer, and why?
MH: Cormac McCarthy. The Road is perhaps the bleakest thing ever crafted, even bleaker than Pet Sematary. Cormac not only writes great characters, but he also does “landscape as character” better than any writer I’ve ever read. I’ve incorporated these elements into my own work, like The Puller, where the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is essentially another character.
I read too many new novels where it’s just a guy walking around the same old boring landscape, and I’ll stop reading. There’s more to life than just a person’s basic actions from path to path. There’s a wider swath of self-awareness of entire ecosystems that should be explored on the page.
PS: What first prompted you to write?
MH: It just chose me.
PS: Your most recent novel, Black Friday, has rocketed to the top of the horror charts on release, so congratulations for that. What can you tell us about it?
MH: A kleptomaniac, unemployed IT guy, a shopaholic, and a meth dealer are trapped inside a Chicago supermall on Black Friday by alien forces.
It’s a return to the more psychological style of The Puller, in a suburban landscape. My first three novels all focus on “trapped” themes, and how these characters organically extract themselves form their predicament.
PS: What’s your favourite horror film of all time?
MH: Probably The Thing. I love everything about it, especially the cool analog synths . I’m kind of a synth-head.
PS: You are also a prolific photographer, specifically of the nature in your part of the United States. What made you get into that?
MH: I’ve always been into nature, so photographing the world around us was a way for me to express myself, and to raise my self-awareness. I want to know more about the living things around me, more than work to strip mall to bed to work. What makes the world tick? What is this cool little creature that lives near me? How did these things come to be, and what is their significance in the big picture on this floating ball of rock we call home?
In a developing, overpopulated world, I see wildlife as under siege, and this theme is reflected in the core of my work.
PS: Do you consider your photography to be an escape from your writing, or vice versa?
MH: I see them as complimentary. I enjoy spending a week camping in Glacier National Park, and incorporating that experience organically into my work, to create richer, more rewarding environments on the page.
Also, tracking grizzly bears is helpful when you’re writing a novel about grizzly bears.
PS: Black Friday is your third novel, and you also have a collection of short horror and sci-fi stories available. What can you tell us about those?
MH: I have a new short story collection out called The Gloaming. It reflects first-contact and apocalyptic themes. A couple blurbs:
Hydra: A top scientist discovers a way to extend the human life span by decades, but grapples with the reality humans will be the only species left on the planet if implemented.
Uncommon Ally: After meteors wipe out most of mankind, the meteors that crashed into the ocean infect the seas with invasive species. A young rebel snipes the invasive's from shore, and finds an uncommon ally in the great white shark.
PS: Lastly, where can my readers find you?
MH: I love hearing from readers. They can hit me up at:
or my official website:
My brief abscondment from blogging last year has rather unfortunately robbed me of the traditional look-back-on-the-year-gone post of which I have previously been so fond of boring my audience with. I’d look at the post I did last year for the year ahead, judge myself against it and write one for the next year, so I could end up in an endless feedback loop of recrimination. If blogging offers anything of value to the blogger beyond the knowledge of pestering multiple people at once, it is the accountability you can get by looking back and measuring yourself against that optimistic version of yourself. Last year I’d completely abandoned blogging and was about to walk away from writing online altogether, and so there is no post from this time last year going on about how much I was going to achieve this year for me to look at, get depressed and then write about how next year was going to be the year I’d actually get my life together.
Not that that’s going to stop me looking back anyway.
I seem to remember that at the turn of last year I actually took a conscious decision not to make any resolutions at all. I was determined not to mess about with dieting and all that nonsense (hence the additional stone or so that I’m now carrying), I was going to wrap up Demon Pigeon and make most of the people I know online cross with me for doing so (mission accomplished) and there was some kind of nebulous ‘I’ll do better with the writing thing’. That was about it.
So in the absence of any set goals, what kind of a year has it been? Well I started a new job and managed not to get fired from it, so that’s a good start. I seem to actually be quite good at it, so from that point of view it’s been pretty good. It has brought into my life a level of ‘work stress’ that I’ve managed to avoid for most of my work life to date, but I guess that’s what happens as you climb further up that greasy pole. It’s not unbearable and I’m a hell of a lot better off than a lot of other people, so I’m not about to start bitching about it.
On the health front the aforementioned stone or so (I daren’t look too closely at the numbers until next year, when I will actually do something about it) is testament to a year when I have at the very least enjoyed my food. And my wine. Mostly the latter.
As for the writing? Well I finished the second draft of Blood on the Motorway, my apocalyptic tale of murder and stale sandwiches, but more importantly I came to something approaching an epiphany about my writing, and what I need to do if I’m serious about wanting to make this anything more than a hobby. I sent the second draft out (or bits of it anyway) to some beta readers and seemed to get some fairly positive responses which have encouraged me that perhaps I’m not entirely barking up the wrong tree.
As for everything else, well it’s been a bit of a barnstormer of a year. My lovely family is pretty bloody brilliant. My little boy is currently at the period between three and four that guarantees peak cuteness and my daughter is growing up to be a brilliant, kind and sweet little girl with a tremendous curiosity about the world. My partner and I are nearly a year into planning a wedding and haven’t had to resort to murdering each other even once. She’s been amazingly supportive as I’ve taken on the new job and tried to determine my writing plan, and I can’t wait to stand up next to her next year and look slightly shambolic next to her radiance when we get married.
There’s been ups and downs, as there inevitably is, but as I sit astride December looking back on the year gone, I have to say that on balance it’s been a corker. I’m unbelievably excited about next year, even though it’s going to be one of the toughest of my life if I want to do everything I plan to achieve, but that’s for another post. Stop rolling your eyes, yes there’ll be more of this.
At this point all there is to do is splurge out a list of all the stuff I’ve liked this year, like a child shouting out his favourite Pokémon to a disinterested playground.
I almost never read stuff when it comes out, but the books I’ve enjoyed most this year are:
- Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant, and Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran. Two self-publishing guides that have completely revolutionised my thinking this year.
- Old Gold, Runaway Town and Lost City by Jay Stringer. After a few years of meaning to get around to them I finally read these three books in quick succession, and they completely blew me away. All the brilliance of the American crime heavyweights like Pelicanos, but with a Wolverhampton accent.
- I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. A bit of a fluff read, this was a thoroughly entertaining Bourne style political murder mystery.
I have children so rarely make it to the cinema any more, but The Raid: Berendal was astounding, and I really enjoyed Captain America: Winter Soldier and Edge of Tomorrow. I’m sure I would have loved Gone Girl, Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy too, but I haven’t seen any of them so I can’t comment. No, I’m not crying, you’re crying. *weeps*
Despite there not being any albums that completely blew me away this year, there’s been a lot that I’ve really enjoyed. Here’s my non ordered top 21 albums of the year because why the hell not:
- Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown
- 65daysofstatic – Wild Light
- Crippled Black Phoenix – White Light Generator
- Mogwai – RAVE TAPES
- Helms Alee – Sleepwalking Sailors
- Conan – Blood Eagle
- Dirge – Hyperion
- Cult Leader – Nothing For Us Here
- Lantlos – Melting Sun
- Fu Manchu – Gigantoid
- Electric Wizard – Time to Die
- Trap Them – Blissfucker
- Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God I
- Beck – Morning Phase
- Sun Kil Moon – Benji
- Se Delan – The Fall
- Goat – Commune
- This Will Destroy You – Another Language
- Emma Ruth Rundle – Some Heavy Ocean
- Mark Lanegan Band – Phantom Radio
- NehruvianDOOM – NehruvianDOOM
Of course, the new Colour Haze album comes out today and I’ve not heard it yet, so I fully expect that to make a late bid for Album of the Year.
So that’s it. 2014. All done and dusted save for the fun bit at the end. If you missed it the other day, I did a new post over at The Rolling Stone Challenge, so if you’ve not seen that, you should totally go and read it.
This week has utterly killed me; a combination of a desperately unwanted deathly illness from the kids and a week of ridiculous stress at the job thing. Oh, and one of the kids being bloody inconsiderate in his own illness and waking me up every night. All of which has somewhat robbed me of the enthusiasm I’ve had for the last few weeks, where I have been bounding towards my inevitable career as a multimillion selling author with all the joys of Autumn. I’m just hoping that it’s all getting out of my system ahead of NaNoWriMo. I did manage to attend a writing group though, which was lovely as usual. It’s such a joy to sit around with fellow writers and chat writing, even if it’s only to be in a room with people who don’t roll their eyes when you start talking about the world you’re creating.
Writers love talking to other writers, we fire off each other. This is why I really love the infrequent catch ups with my writing group, the lengthy discussions on my online writing group and listening to writing podcasts like The Creative Penn and the Self-Publishing Podcast. It’s also why at the moment, this blog is pretty much me writing about writing. It helps me to stay focused, stay motivated, but most importantly it helps me order things in my head, work through my thoughts on how to approach things.
I’m not sure how helpful it is to anyone else (my guess is not a lot), but until I start to really try to build my ‘brand’ for readers, I guess it’s what I’m going to be doing. All the literature I’ve read says that the worst way to market yourself as an writer is to talk to other writers, but this blog has existed for over a decade now in one form or another as a way of getting my thoughts out without any grand scheme or over-arching theme, and what I’m largely thinking about right now is writing.
I’m no authority, I’m an unpublished wannabe, and if you are following this blog trying to gain knowledge on how to become a millionaire author, then sorry, I’ve got nothing for you. But perhaps what I can give an insight to is the process of trying to write, of trying to follow my dreams. You’ll be able to follow along as I creep closer and closer to the realisation in my fifties that I’ve wasted my life chasing unicorns. I jest.
There are three books on Self-Publishing that I’ve had on my Amazon wish list for a while now, cued to sit there eternally while I wait for that mythical day when I might have enough money to actually procure them. The books are Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran, How To Market a Book by Joanna Penn and Write, Publish, Repeat by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt with David Wright (the Self-Publishing Podcast guys). All of them are considered experts in the field of self-publishing, all of them having worked in this area for years, getting increasingly successful through sheer hard work (and a fair bit of talent, of course.) I figured that between the three books it’d cover pretty much everything I’d need to know about the market I’m getting into.
Imagine my delight, then, to find a post on Joanna’s blog this morning that the authors have teamed up to bundle all three books together, and at the ridiculous price of 79p for all three books. I may have actually done a merry little dance. So if that’s your kind of thing, head here to find out more about it.