Archive for the horror fiction Category

Undead hordes outside, something worse in here.

Posted in george romero, horror fiction, the dead walked, the undead, the walking dead, vincent stark on 06/22/2012 by vincentstark

At the close  Book One of the Dead Walked trilogy only Missy and Johnny were left standing, trapped inside the bungalow in which they had sought shelter. Outside there were hordes of the undead and somewhere inside with them was the demon baby – a cliffhanger indeed.

 

 

 

This July Book Two – Dead Days will be launched onto the electronic highways and readers will be able to pick up on the story.

 

Book One is still available HERE

 

Reviews for Book One:

 

 

 

I enjoyed the book more so because of the simplicity.I cannot wait for the next book to find out what happens to Missy,and her odd destiny,Johnny and of course the hybrid demon zombie thing! Is it time for them to die now they are surrounded by hordes of zombies? The worst one being trapped idoors with them? Need to know!

 

Hey, if you love zombies (and who doesn’t) this is a fab read. The author is proving a master at several genres, all his novels are well worth reading.

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I was a Teenage Horror Fan

Posted in fear magazine, horror, horror comics, horror fiction, horror magazines on 06/16/2012 by vincentstark

During the 80’s I seemed to read nothing but horror fiction – it was a boom time for the genre. In the US Stephen King was outselling everyone and over in the UK, James Herbert was topping the best-seller lists. Direct to paperback horror novels were everywhere Guy N. Smith, Shaun Hutson, Gary Brander, Graham Masterton.

It was a great time to be a horror reader – in the newsagents there were magazines like the excellent, Fear  (and we have an interview with editor, John Gilbert here soon) which as well as offering all the latest horror news also published short fiction and encouraged its readers to try and become the new Stephen King. Fear was an excellent magazine and back in the day I never missed a issue, I bought its entire run. The magazine looked at horror in an intelligent way and as well as the latest gore books it also covered the classics such as Poe and Lovecraft. The magazine had a spin off fiction magazine called Frighteners but the first issue had to be pulled off the shelves because of a gory cover illustrating a Graham Masterton story. The story Eric the Pie, has become infamous and many claim it went a step too far and was responsible for the demise of the magazine. Those with a strong stomach can read the story as a PDF from the author’s website HERE. Be warned the story is rather gruesome – it comes from respected author Graham Masterton, author of The Manitou and the author told an interviewer in 1996 that, ‘On reflection I think it went too far.’

Having to pull the magazine after customer complaints dealt publisher, Newsfield a massive blow. Frighteners would go to another two issues and Fear vanished with issue no 33. There’s an interesting article on the demise of Fear and the Frighteners story HERE.

The closure of Fear really pissed me off – I had a short story, Cissy’s Heebie Jeebies lined up for the mag – I really wanted to get some fiction in Fear. Ahh well, I eventually placed the story with small press publication, Peeping Tom where it was well received. During this period there was a vibrant small press with publications like Skeleton Crew, Samhain and Peeping Tom keeping the torch burning for horror fans. And there were still several newstand horror magazines, The Dark Side and Shivers being the most well known, but for me none filled the void left by the demise of Fear.

I wrote for several of the small press magazines as well as interviewing writer, Peter James and being delighted when I managed to sell the piece to the well respected and long running, (still running) Interzone. My own horror novel, entitled Misty remains however in the loft, unloved and unpublished. And to be honest unpublishable.

Horror books though, for the moment, remained numerous in the shops – there were all manner of creature on the prowl. James Herbert may have started it with The Rats but since then we had Slugs, Crabs, Cats, Locusts,bats, snakes and more than the odd slime beast. There were vampires, ghouls and werewolves running wild.

There were some great new talents being published around that period, some who have lasted, some who have not – Steve Harris scored high with a string of chillers starting with Adventureland, Mark Morris wowed us all with his novel Toady and these days writes, among other things, Dr Who novels for the BBC, Michael Slade (actually a team of American lawyers) grossed us out with The Ghoul and Clive Barker burst onto the scene with his innovative Books of Blood.

There was a period when the genre was getting unexpected critical respect. Stephen King analyzed the genre in his Danse Macabre and respected critic and writer, Douglas E. Winter put together the excellent Prime Evil anthology.

New subgenres sprung up – Splatterpunk which was horror’s answer to the Cyberpunk movement and didn’t really mean much – if a book was overly gruesome it was labelled as Splatterpunk. Brian Lumley set about successfully reinventing Lovecraft with his Necroscope books.

So what killed Horror – overkill. The market became saturated and not only with books but slasher movies, each less inventive than the last. The Jason’s, the Freddy’s and the Michael’s ruled the celluloid roost. The Nightmare on Elm Street saga was particularly successful with Freddy becoming something of a superstar and even getting his own spin off TV series.

These days the horror genre is still there but like, the western, it is in a state of recovery – Stephen King no longer writes out and out horror, slasher movies generally go straight to DVD and horror is no longer a certain thing in marketing terms. But have no doubt one day horror will remove the stake from it’s festering heart and return to once again torment the popular culture.

 

S

The blood runs FREE – the final stages

Posted in a policeman's lot, classic horror, classic horror campaign, george romero, horror fiction, horror magazines, HORROR MOVIES, horror novels, HORROR WRITERS, the dead walked, the rhondda ripper, the undead, the walking dead, thrilles, vincent stark, walkers walkers everywhere, WALKING DEAD, wild bill williams, zombies on 05/12/2012 by vincentstark

We’re on the final stages of the free eBook promotion – Indeed Arkansas Smith II, has now reverted to the usual price but there’s still time  to grab free downloads of The Dead Walked and The Rhondda Ripper. So if you haven’t secured your free copies then do so now.

The aim of this promotion was to kick start the books in the increasingly competitive Amazon market place and I do hope that those who downloaded free books will eventually leave reviews on Amazon, and that all those who downloaded the first part of The Dead Walked trilogy will be back for the second book in the series later this summer.

And please, all my Blogging buddies, publicize this offer on your blogs, websites etc. Let’s make these final two days go with a rush of downloads.

Sill available for free:
The Dead Walked Book One by Vincent Stark

The Rhondda Ripper by Gary M. Dobbs

THE RHONDDA RIPPER: The story begins slowly, a man’s morning routine as he gets ready for duty and faces the possibility of a busy day, but he has no idea how “busy” it’s going to get! Throw in Buffalo Bill, a Wild West show, murders that may or may not be connected to Jack The Ripper, and you have a really hot read. I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving something away, but it’s a well-written yarn and you will get hooked right away. It’s also, for me, a nice change of pace from the modern urban hard-boiled junk I’ve been digesting lately. Brian Drake

THE DEAD WALKED – Vincent Stark, otherwise known as Gary Dobbs, presents a new look at the zombie story. A group of people trying to survive in a world gone nuts. Sound familiar. Of course.But Stark has injected his own elements into the story. A pregnant woman and a plot thread I’ve not seen in a zombie story before. The ending threw a twist in and sets up the next part of the story, coming soon.

Zombie stories are not a type I read a lot of, but I’ve come to expect good stuff from Stark/Dobbs/Martin, whatever genre he writes in.I read this one straight through while drinking coffee early this morning.Recommended.  George R. Johnson

A Golden Age for Horror

Posted in horror, horror comics, horror fiction, horror magazines, HORROR MOVIES, horror novels, horror short stories, HORROR WRITERS on 12/12/2011 by vincentstark

Horror tends to thrive during times of crisis, offering catharsis, escapism and a metaphoric means of coping with problems that seem unsolvable.

Historically this has always been the case. It certainly was true during the Great Depression, when Universal Pictures was rescued from bankruptcy by its golden age of horror film – Dracula, Frankenstein , The Invisible Man , the Creature from the Black Lagoon  and all the other creepy creatures that lit up the silver screen, offering escapism to cash strapped moviegoers. Right across the spectrum of modern media horror is booming – take the two biggest successes in popular literature over recent years – Harry Potter and Twilight and whilst neither are strictly horror they both use many of the conventions of the genre. TV shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror are massively popular, and of course HBO’s True Blood is still holding its own. The horror novel is most certainly on a high. There are some great writers out there from the well know masters such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Jack Ketchum and others to relatively new names like Christopher Ransom, Joe Hill, Max Brook and (dare, I say it) Vincent Stark. The latter of course is wishful thinking since his debut horror novel, following a string of bestselling westerns,  isn’t due out till the end of the month and he is me

So why is it that during shitty times we turn to the dark side? Maybe it’s the increasingly polarized political landscape, generating so much us against them rhetoric. Perhaps it has something to do with all the  college students’ fears of  being unable to find work or middle-aged parents’ worries about keeping their homes. Then again maybe its something to do with the fact that we, in Britain at least, have the Dark Party in government. Or maybe it’s just the fact that we, viewers,readers, like the safe scares that films and books provide. And whilst it is true that thought-provoking horror works are few and far between recent years have seen several horror novels of real depth – Låt den rätte komma by  John Ajvude Lindqvist , known by its Anglo title of Let the Right One In (I’ve not enjoyed a novel as much as this is years)is a masterpiece of literature whatever the genre, and Christopher Ransom has taken age old themes and twisted them through modern sensibilities. Both of these writers need to be read by anyone interested in the horror genre.   And it’s the same with film and TV and for every predictable slasher of the week flick you will find films and programs of true worth. Horror as a genre is changing, mutating and it is at last gaining some of the acclaim that has been denied it through snobbery for far too long. Stephen King is no longer considered a hack writer and real critics are dissecting his work  and finding relevance to the society we live in – something  all great writing mirrors.   And this is a good thing because for too long horror has been consigned to the ghetto and looked down upon with disdain and yet TV shows like American Horror Story, Being Human, The Walking Dead and True Blood are popular with mainstream audiences, horror novels are read by millions and fright films are always popular.

Yep this truly is a golden age for horror – and ain’t that just fine and dandy!

The eGolden Age and the flesh eating bastards

Posted in horror fiction, HORROR MOVIES, horror novels, HORROR WRITERS, the dead walked, tony masero, vincent stark, WALKING DEAD, zombies on 12/01/2011 by vincentstark

These days they would be called novellas but back in the day they were most certainly novels …and you know what, I miss them!

What am I talking about? Well the genre paperbacks that used to line shelves in bookshops everywhere. Most of these books were around 125 – 175 pages and offered quick but satisfying reads, works from authors such as Guy N. Smith, James Herbert, Gary Brander and others of that ilk. Now these days these slim volumes would be categorized as novellas but even although the page count was low, the stories were most certainly big. The plots were perfectly contained with no wasted words, and no skippages  padding. I know a lot of novels that could do with that treatment – in my opinion the novella is the perfect form for a horror story and far too many otherwise good books have been padded out to the point of skippages in  order to confirm to an industry need for 500 page plus tomes.

I’ve got news  for you folks – these days Stephen King’s Carrie would be considered a novella, as would James Herbert’s Rats and I could go on and on and…

It’s not only me who misses the golden days of paperback fiction – there’s even a magazine devoted to the subject that I would recommend to anyone. Paperback Fanatic is an excellent publication that features intelligently, well researched articles on the subject of genre paperbacks.

But I’m going off the point here.

And this brings us to my trilogy of novels that go under the collective title of, The Dead Walked – as soon as I had the idea for the series I knew the novella was the perfect format even if the story itself is huge in scope – over the three books we will travel from the everyday to Necropolis itself. The first volume was originally due this October but the first volume had to be called back at the eleventh hour for a major re-write since it contradicted events when the third book in the trilogy went off in a different direction than I had initially envisioned.  Characters can be rowdy and stubborn and sometimes the author has no choice but to let them go their own way. The manuscript is going through the editing process now and I should have a firm publication date very soon – better delay than error I say. And of course there is the point that after three bestselling traditionally published westerns and a historical crime novel,  I wanted my self published debut to be up to standards – there’s a lot of swill out there in self publishing land, and I don’t want my readers to wade through any from  my pen. Kitchensinkpublications is the name of the company I have set up to publish my Vincent Stark books and if they are a success then I plan to publish other authors and built up a vibrant list of titles.

So I hope you’ll all come along for the ride when volume one – Outbreak is published later this month. If you do I know you’ll enjoy it enough to be waiting eagerly for the second and third volumes. It’s the story of a zombie apocalypse like no other, for when the necromancer sings the dead shall walk. I’ve not skimped on the covers either and have hired legendary artist, Tony Masero to provide the artwork for each volume. You can see the stunning painting for volume one and I’ve already seen a rough sketch of the artwork for the second volume and it’s one sexy mother. I hope the storytelling within do justice to the stunning cover art – HOPE…scrub that, I know it will.

So get ready for an announcement soon – the eBook will be available in all formats and on sale everywhere and although I don’t have the confirmed price yet, I can say that it will be comparable to the paperbacks of years gone by.

September was her favourite time of the year, and late September, when the autumn was just preparing to hand over to winter, when there was still a residue of the late summer warmth in the air, as well as the crisp promise of the iciness to come, had always been, as far as Missy was concerned, the finest chunk of that particular month.

Not for her was the spectacle of high summer, nor the morose beauty of mid winter. Of course they both had their fineries but these paled next to the season when the leaves glittered with reflected sunlight. It was the autumn, with September being the highlight of that season, which she loved – a time when nature put on its finest display as the lush summer growth was magically transformed as if by a sepia wand spewing gold dust into the air.

The sky itself seemed to glow at this time of year.

            September was a time of promise.

            A time of rebirth.

            Not this September, though.

            This September, Missy would remember as, the time the dead walked.

Guy N Smith convention 2011

Posted in conventions, guy n smith, horror fiction on 09/02/2011 by vincentstark

This Sunday we will be attending the annual convention devoted to horror legend, Guy N Smith and the full event will be covered for readers of this blog. We are also hoping to corner Guy with a microphone, and then use the interview  for the first in the Scary Motherfucker podcasts – of which, we’ll be telling you about later.

 

Make sure you visit next week for a full report of the convention.

Modern classics – Haunted by James Herbert

Posted in haunted, horror fiction, james herbert on 08/25/2011 by vincentstark

What’s happened to James Herbert? His long-awaited new book, Ash was originally due this March but is now listed on Amazon as coming this October. And it is strange indeed for such a high-profile author to have so small a presence on the web – there’s plenty of fan sites, but for the life of me I’m unable to find an official site. And several sites are even listing the new book, Ash as not coming until May 2012.

 

What we do know about the new book is that it is another story centered on David Ash, the paranormal investigator who was first encountered by eager horror fans in Herbert’s 1988 novel, Haunted. And Haunted travelled a road to publication that was every bit as rocky as that which Ash now seems to be upon. It started off as a script for a two-hour TV movie that Herbert had been asked to pen by the BBC, but the commissioning producer Jonathan Powell was moved into a different department and his replacement cancelled the project, leaving Herbert with a complete script with little hope of it entering production.

 

Herbert opted to turn the script into a novel and the result was this volume. Reading the story one can detect its origins as a film script, since scenes are jumped to and from quickly, something we’re used to with films and TV but not so much with a book. Characterisation also seems far thinner sketched than with most of the author’s other works from this period, but on times this works in the favour of the story. The character of David Ash is not a million miles from the character of Bishop in Herbert’s earlier novel, The Dark.

 

The plot sees David Ash sent to investigate the strange happenings as Ebrook Mansion, the home of the odd Merriell family. The locations are kept to a minimum, again betraying the stories origin as a script, but this works in the book’s favour, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere – something always suited to ghosts stories.

 

It’s not Herbert’s best work, but it still reads well today and it a worthwhile reread to get readers in the mood for Ash later this year, or early next year or whenever it finally sees print.

 

Come on Jimmie – get a move on.

 

Haunted is far from Herbert’s best, but it still holds up well.