My new book, Sunrise, the first book in my epic Dystopian Sci-Fi series will be out in less than two months. That’s pretty exciting, and a little bit terrifying, if I’m going to be honest. But as I ramp up, one thing my readers have been asking me is... what’s it like?Read More
I’ve spoken before about the role that the comic of The Walking Dead played in me becoming an author. Before it became a sprawling and colossal TV series, I got quite addicted to the graphic novel. At that time I was already writing a tale about two layabout stoners going on a road trip in the UK, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Then I got the first volume of The Walking Dead, where Kirkman spoke in his intro about getting to the end of every zombie film ever made and wondering what happened next. I felt the same way about every end-of-the-world tome I ever came across. My road trip novel soon morphed into the apocalyptic tome it is today. I wanted to explore that same idea, except removing the zombies altogether.
So, with the second anniversary of the release of Blood on the Motorway fast approaching, I’m beyond delighted to be involved in a very special Walking Dead themed giveaway. Unfortunately, it’s only open to you if you’re in the US, so if that’s not you then, well, sorry about that.
If you are in the US, here’s what’s up for grabs:
'Rick' Walking Dead Fleece Blanket
8" Michonne Walking Dead Vinyl Idolz figure
Daryl Crossbow Coffee Mug
Daryl Crossbow & Angel Wings Walking Dead Keychain
Walking Dead pen & bookmark
Walking Dead luggage tag
Walking Dead magnets
Walking Dead Comic #1
Walking Dead Comic #2
Walking Dead Comic #3
Walking Dead Mini Calendar
Walking Dead button badges
Zombie-opoly Board Game
Zombie ‘Where’s Waldo’ book
Zombie Colouring book for grown-ups
The Ladybird book of the Zombie Apocalypse (for grown-ups)
Zombie Outbreak car decal
28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later Blu-ray Set
Romero Dawn of the Dead/Land of the Dead Blu-ray Set
'Undad', Author Shane W. Smith
'A Place Called Hope' & 'A Place Outside the Wild', by Daniel Humphreys, signed by the author.
Entering to win is easy. Just enter your name and email at this link. Follow sponsoring authors on other social media platforms and share the giveaway for additional entries. By entering this giveaway, you AGREE TO BE SUBSCRIBED to the sponsoring author's newsletters listed in italics below. You may individually unsubscribe at any time.
Sponsoring Authors: Eli Constant, Claire C. Riley, Russell Nohelty, Dani Dixon, Matthew Jones, Daniel Humphreys, E.B. Black, Shane W Smith, Kristen Renee Gorlitz, Erica Gerald Mason, L.K. Hatchett, Baileigh Higgins, J.D. Oliva, Carmelo Chimera, N.S. Paul, Tyler James, David Lucarelli, Terrance Grace, & Pauline Creeden. Oh, and me.
Best of luck to you, I’m extremely peeved that I don’t get to enter it myself!
I've had a blog for a very long time. Over 15 years. Recently I've been thinking how it'd be nice to bring back some of the better old posts, once a week. I'm starting with a series that I did back in 2009, before Blood on the Motorway was but a twinkle in my eye. I'd asked for seven one blog topics from people on Twitter and got some of my best blog material as a result. Here's the fourth, a suggestion from, well, I'm not sure who suggested it. Lost to the sands of time. Originally posted on August 28th, 2009, a time when my now-ten-year-old daughter was only two years old.
A monkey holding a watermelon
From the vaults: 7 Days, Day Four.
One of the bewildering things about becoming a parent is the lack of basic instructions. If you go to Argos and buy a piece of furniture you will find assembly instructions enclosed within, and yet when it comes to being given a newborn child, which will require much more effort and constant management than a three-tier wardrobe will ever do, you get nothing. At the very least they should provide you with the child equivalent of an Allen key, a multi-purpose tool that can stop it from crying or deal with the never-ending flow of poop.
One of the things they should prepare you for is how much children’s television has changed since you last bothered to tune in. The main example of this is the advent of all-day children’s channels, such as the wonderful and yet bewildering Cbeebies. No longer are children’s programmes a way to settle a child for a few hours in the afternoon, now they provide it from the moment your child wakes you up until the time they go to bed, like a constant opium release for your child.
Of course, this leads to the temptation, especially on those weekend days when you are feeling a little worse for wear, to just pop it on and leave it running all day, like a constantly running distraction machine. But (and this is where the warning comes in) you do this at your peril because soon you will get sucked into the bewildering world within. When I was a child I doubt that my parents could name any of the characters of the programmes I watched. They lacked any awareness of the organisational structure of the Autobots, for instance. And yet I can name virtually every character that comes on Cbeebies over the course of a day. I know the words to all the songs they sing on Me Too, have seen every episode of In the Night Garden and have even found myself leaving the channel on when Rosie isn’t even in the house, dancing around to Boogie Beebies.
But none of this prepared me for the latest marvel to grace Cbeebies. The terror that is Waybuloo. I first stumbled across this one afternoon after Rosie and I had been to the park. After two hours of running after a toddler as she attempted every single area of the park that she was not old enough to go on, we returned home with me far more exhausted than her. I popped on Cbeebies and curled up on the sofa to die.
About half an hour later I woke, with a strangely serene feeling washing over me, as the gentle music of pan pipes and clinking crystals greeted me. I opened my eyes and could see Rosie transfixed to the screen. I glanced at the television, trying to make out what was going on.
It was no good. On the screen were what appeared to be three small monkey-like creatures, all laying on the floor doing yoga. Then they suddenly exclaimed something in a weird language and started to float off the ground, manic smiles plastered on their faces, eyes huge with dilated pupils. The screen cut to another of the little monkey creatures, this time holding what appeared to be a watermelon. Another was jumping calmly up and down on a box, neither of them showing any expression other than what appeared to be a manic bliss. The monkey holding a watermelon handed it to another monkey and then flew away without a word. ‘Noktok,’ said the other monkey creature, and walked away to do some more yoga. Everything was so surreal that I wouldn’t have been in the least bit surprised if what they’d actually said was ‘Nobody puts Noktok in a corner.’
I watched the rest of the episode without a clue what was going on, but unable to look away. Even the most surreal episode of In The Night Garden will still furnish the viewer with some plot, generally about someone losing something and then finding it again, but try as hard as I could, there was no plot to be found here.
Afterwards, I turned the television off, despite the protestations of Rosie, who began immediately to shout ‘Beebies.’ I looked at her, and said ‘We’re going to go back outside Rosie, I think we need to make sure that the world is still real after that.’ She nodded and headed for the door. Thankfully all was as it had been only an hour before. But for a while there I was beginning to suspect some kind of cosmic shift, the world spun out of orbit by the sheer oddness of the show we had seen.
Needless to say, it’s now Rosie’s favourite show.
In this time of #goldenshowers, blank dossiers, Home Secretaries preaching hate to their own conference, incoming Trumpageddon, and U2 touring again, I don’t really want to be the one to add further ill tidings. Really I don’t. So it is with a heavy heart and a sombre voice that I have some terrible news to impart.
My subscription to Sky Movies has less than thirty days left to run.
I’ll just stand back and let that sink in.
I know, devastating, isn’t it? As much as I’d like to be able to claim this is all because of us tearing up our contract with the Murdockian devil in an act of political defiance, I can’t. It’s just that our six month half price offer has finally expired. I know, I’m hanging my head in shame for giving him six months of my money, even at half price.
The worst thing is, that once it has gone, it’ll take all of the movies I recorded to my TiVo box with in, in an act of pettiness equivalent to that being displayed by the President Elect. This means that from now until the 9th of February, I have to do some hardcore film-watching. No, wait, not like that.
Here’s all the films I currently have recorded:
- Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
- Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
- The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
- Crimson Peak
- The Survivalist
- Time Out of Mind
- Mistress America
- Inherent Vice
- The Theory of Everything
- Steve Jobs
- Midnight Special
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
- The Witch
Now, bearing in mind that my good lady wife wants to see all these films too, that we have two young children, we both work a hell of a lot, and that I’m spending five days in a completely different country, the chances are we’re not going to get to all these. So, in order to help us select which ones we’re going to prioritise, I need your help. That’s right, imagine there’s a mocked up American Army recruitment poster here of some kind. I need you to let me know which ones you’d see first, so that we can use those comments in pitched battle when we can’t agree which film is worthier of watching than the others.
Done? Okay, you can go back to reading about Trump again. Cheers.
No, wait! I almost forgot. Sleepwalk City comes out tomorrow! So, why not sun out now and bag yourself the pre-order, and help it rocket with up the charts upon release? Seriously, it'd really help. For more details, head here, and click on one of the boxes.
Welcome to Discovery Park – the chronicle of my increasingly frustrated attempt to listen to every album on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of all-time list, is available now on Amazon Uk, Amazon.com, iBooks, Kobo, and many more.
This week I was listening to one of the eleventy billion writing podcasts that I subscribe to in the vain hope that they’ll somehow magic me into becoming a better writer, and they were discussing taking inspiration from existing works. Before you cry plagiarism, we’re talking...Read More
I was gutted to hear over the weekend that Channel 4 have decided not to re-commission Utopia, the mind-bendingly excellent sci-fi conspiracy thriller. From what I can tell the ratings just didn’t justify the expense, which is a damn shame.
If you missed it, Utopia was a blend of high art and low culture that merged comic books, international conspiracy, grimy horror and comedy along with an unbelievably vivid visual aesthetic that was utterly captivating. It was bold, scary, funny and bonkers, with great character, dialogue and plot. It was, in short, one of the best examples of genre TV to come out of this decade.
Which explains why the concept has been picked up by no less a director than David Fincher, who will apparently be remaking the series for American telly and helming the lot himself. That the cancellation announcement comes hot on the heels of that announcement is a double blow, though. I’m a huge Fincher fan and I’m sure he’ll do a good job, but the original is so quintessentially British and bonkers that I can’t imagine it’ll be as good as the original.
When the remake was announced with some fanfare, I had thought that it might be good news for the UK version; that the publicity and kudos that came with Fincher’s name (especially with Gone Girl riding so high in the charts) might be enough to overcome the poor figures for season two and get a third series commissioned, but that appears not to be the case
One of the things that was so good about Utopia was that alongside a very distinct look and feel, it took a pretty interesting stance on its cast, with an excellent gender balance and a good ethnic mix that made it much more believable, grounding it in a reality that really allowed the more surreal elements of the plot to go where they needed to without untethering it from reality.
I was watching the first series while I was writing the second draft of the book and it really hit home to me just how lazy it is to populate your story with a predominantly white male cast. Quite aside from the fact that representation matters, it really closes off some interesting areas your story can go. Utopia had some very traditionally male archetypes played by women and made much more interesting as a result, and vice versa. It had POC main characters whose race didn’t define their characters absolutely, but who were very real. Throughout its cast it played with convention, made layered and interesting characters and became so much more engrossing as a result.
By adhering to a more realistic view of the world Utopia became more than just another genre offering, and it’s this approach that has me completely reassessing the characters in my own story to see how much of this approach I can bring to my own work.
So goodbye Utopia, you mad bastard of a show. Cheers for the inspiration.