Thursday, 22 July 2010

Wot no hobby?

I've come across a problem: when one's all-consuming hobby suddenly becomes one's all-consuming career, you're stuffed when it comes to your free time.

OK, so that sounds a bit OTT, but there's a lot of truth in it. I used to have other hobbies (climbing, shooting, playing the drums, gym) but they've fallen by the way side due to time (climbing), cost (shooting), practicality (drums) and losing interest (gym). Through the loss of all those, writing was always there. I couldn't leave it alone. Sometimes I'd find myself doing it without really understanding how I'd ended up sitting down with the idea in the first place, half-empty beer can at my side, TV fizzing in the background.

Trouble is, writing's now what I do most rather than some of the time. I'm no longer thinking about the what-ifs and dreaming. I'm now panicking about the oh-no's and worrying. But with this huge life change, comes a hole: I Have No Hobbies.


Not one.


Not a jot.

I've been trying to come up with something I could do. Something that's affordable, fun, interesting, something fun to natter about down the pub... and I'm coming up blank. I can't do kite surfing (cost, time, effort). I can't do carpentry (same list, plus space). Most worryingly of all, though, I'm not really sure what interests me now. It's like my brain's been so focussed for so long that it can't think of anything else. And I'm at a loss.

So, if anyone's got any suggestions...

Anyway, best get back to the writing; haven't got time to hang around blogging when there's proofs to be checked, books to write, proposals to sort...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Gorezone Review, July 2010: It's GORE-TASTIC!

This is what was said about The Dead in Gorezone (

"I don't know whether it's a comment on the bad quality of writing of contemporary adult horror, or the excellent standard of contemporary teen-horror, but it's apparent when reading the likes of The Dead that there is little difference between the feel of either with regards to use of language, structure and tone.

As is to be expected from a novel targeted at the younger demographic, The Dead is absent of much explicit horror, and the prose is simple enough to be digested by its target audience. but then, neither graphic violence nor excessively orotund prose (*cough* Henry James *cough*) have ever been a sure-fire guarantee of quality horror.

The Dead, as you may well deduce from the title, features a delightful amount of deadage. Following in the footsteps of former Fast Show maestro Charlie Higson, author David Gatward is keen to prove that you need not fill a novel with guts, sex and swearing in order to produce a good read. For any parents wondering how to get their little ones into the genre without scarring them for life, there's a good argument to be made as to why The Dead is a solid starting point.

Story-wise it's basically the same old 'dead try to break in to our world' that we've seen hundreds of times throughout the history of horror literature, but it's told here with a briskness of style, and an accessibility serves the story well with some quite knowing humour in places.

Perhaps there isn't as much depth or description as one would like, but this is targeted at a youth audience and, bearing this in mind, it achieves its aims more successfully than many adult horror novels.

Gatward shows skill in developing suspense (his use of all five senses is particularly notable) and there are nods in the story to the classics (the mention of Lazarus isn't without significance), which suggests he's a man who takes his craft seriously." (Andrew McQuade)

VERDICT: "Hey, anything that gets teens away from Twilight is a good thing, right? A weekend spent in the company of The Dead is a weekend spent well."

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

My First Fan!

The title says it all, doesn't it? Well, it's happened; I logged on to facebook and there, clear as day, was my first EVER message from someone who had only got to the page because they'd read the book and gone to my website.


Feels very strange and brilliant and bizarre and weird and fab and 'Er... what?'

Could this be the first and the last? Could it be the first pitter-patter before the storm? Could it? I dunno. I don't know anything about any of this. All I'm doing is writing the books and hoping people get a blast out of reading them. But if Charlotte thinks The Dead's great, and so do her mates, and then their mates and their mates...

To quote The Evil Dead: "Join us... JOIN us..."

Sunday, 4 July 2010

SFX review of The Dead (August 2010)

Young adult horror with guts...

When it comes to young adult horror, Darren Shan wears the crown, but pretender David Gatward has made a strong case for his succession to the throne with his debut, The Dead.

It's the story of Lazarus Stone, a young man with a destiny... Nothing new there, then, but what the book lacks in innovation it more than makes up for with its gruesome thrills, relentless set-pieces and knack for distilling the voice of young on the printed page.

Hell is full, you see, and as any Dawn of the Dead fan knows, when Hell is full, the dead will walk the Earth. Now it's up to Lazarus (along with best mate Craig and sword-wielding, alcoholic angel Arielle) to stop them after Lazarus's father, the guardian between worlds, goes missing.

Although The Dead is unlikely to appeal to readers over a certain age, young 'uns will lap up its blend of grisly post-Hellraiser body horror, pacy narrative and wicked streak of black humour.

It's the first part of a trilogy, so don't expect any conclusions, but on the basis of part one, horror for kids has a compelling, and very twisted, new voice.

(Jordan Farley)

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Dead hits the shelves

Thursday saw The Dead 'officially' in bookshops (check the link at the bottom of this). Though it had appeared the weekend before at airports and train stations. I saw it for the first time in my local WHSmith. There it was on the shelf, just like all the other books.

I was expecting more. I wanted a Damascus Road experience. I wanted flashing lights, some kind of spiritual kick in the teeth, a sense which./ riddled my body with a machine gun burst of 'YES!'

But it didn't feel like that at all.

This isn't being ungrateful. What it is, I think, is the sense that this is yet just another part of the whole process of becoming a writer.

I never doubted that I'd end up, some day, walking in to a main bookshop and see my stuff published. I wasn't quite expecting it to the scale that's happening with The Dead (cracking reviews, competitions, badges, stickers, skateboards...), but I still ALWAYS believed. I had to; it was what kept me going. I never wanted to be someone who 'wrote for himself'. The only way the stories would ever work for me was if they got out there and breathed.

So, The Dead's out. FANTASTIC! But I'm already on with other stuff. I've just finished book 2, I'm cracking on with book 3, and I've another few projects I'm sorting out, too. Trying to crack it in this mad world of writing is tough. Exciting. Fun. Terrifying. Brilliant. Odd.

I'm now in bookshops across the country. I'll soon be out in Australia and New Zealand. Hopefully after that I'll get foreign deals (wishing on that star again...) And, strangely, it feels incredibly natural. This is what I've always wanted to do. I've never wanted anything else. Finding my book in WHSmith was like my life turning round and saying, 'See? Told you so.'

I'm a lucky boy, people. A very lucky boy.