Monday, 25 October 2010

Tis the season to give scary books to people!

Check this:

Yep, it's the wonderful Neil Gaiman making a lot of sense again. So I'm all about it! Let's get giving scary books to our pals on Halloween! What better gift could there be? Er... NONE! Not one! Not a thing!

Yeah, I want you to give them The Dead or The Dark, but why not? It's perfect! So get to it people! Spead The Dead this Halloween - Give a little something to scare the hell out of those you love the most (or the least, I'm not picky...)

Dave "the cellar door was left open, the monster is now loosed" Gatward

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Astonishing review on amazon

Seriously, this is quite something:

"Thank God this book has finally arrived!!! I read the first in the series as soon as it came out and loved every word of it, although with every series hated the fact that it ended and i would have to wait to find out what happened to Craig and Lazzurus on the other side. I Was literally desperate to find out more about the land of the dead and have already read the 'the dark' and reread the 2 books together to for fill my craving. Both great books but i do think this one has the edge as it is just blood curdling action and suspense right from word go. A must read!!!!"
Two great reviews up on amazon already. Fingers crossed for more of the same!

Gatward on tour...

To be honest, I can hardly believe it myself. On tour? Me? Seriously? Feels very surreal. This is one of those things that you hear of other people doing, great authors, famous authors, huge international names.

And now me.

I'm not ready. I'm scared. I'm out of my depth. But at the same time I'm as giddy as a giraffe on a roundabout!

Tomorrow I'm at Heathfield Community College. Two events. WHAT?!

Let me say that again: WHAT?!

I know what I'm doing, I know what my 'event' is all about. Essentially, instead of simply standing there and reading from my book and talking about it, I kind of run about the stage like an idiot, make a fool of myself, dress up, and hope to God that not only do the kids enjoy it, that they don't think, "OK, has anyone brought along some rotten eggs to throw at dufus over there?"

I'm loving this. It's a dream and I'm in it. For real. Me. On tour. Talking about my books. What's NOT to love?

So I guess I better just knuckle down, man-up, and get on with it. I mean, I've jumped out of a plane, I've seen two ghosts, I've even (and you won't believe this, but it's true) been to Blackpool and seen the illuminations at least three times! YES! THREE TIMES! AAAAARGH!

If I can do all that, I can do this. I want to do this. It's yet another beginning of something.

I'm loving this ride. It's a crazy, white-knuckle killer, but it's the one ride in all the park I've been queueing for a hell of a long time to get on. And I reckon it's so gonna be worth the wait ...


Monday, 11 October 2010

"... just about as good as horror novels get..."

Here's a fantastic review and interview with me, done by the simply brilliant Alexander Gordon Smith (, writer of the truly evil and terrifying Furnace books... Enjoy...

It gives me great pleasure today to host the second stop in our gore-soaked Chainsaw Gang tour

For those of you who don't yet know, the Chainsaw Gang is made up of the most twisted and talented horror and dark fantasy authors writing for young people today. If you like adventure, action and most of all horror then you're right at home here – demons, zombies, ass-kicking Knights Templar, monsters, dragons, gunfights, sword fights, explosions, quests to hell and back, werewolves, armageddon, yetis, witches... The list of cool stuff is endless!

Remember to check the bottom of this post for a chance to win the Chainsaw Library!

During the tour each Chainsaw Gang author will introduce and interview another member of the club, and I'm absolutely thrilled that I get to give you one of the best YA horror writers ever to dip his quill into a pot of blood and guts, a writer so well versed in horror that he may as well have invented the genre. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you toDAVID GATWARD!

I've just finished reading Dave's debut YA horror novel, The Dead, and my ears still feel like they're ringing. Why? Because this is just about as good as horror novels get. Let me start with a quote: 
"The figure’s body was bathed in firelight, the rocking chair horribly still. Its head was bald, the skin ripped away in strips and in places Lazarus, horrified and scared beyond anything he’d ever experienced in his life before, could see the milky glow of bone. Its ears were gone, nothing more than stumps that looked like melted candles. The face was a mass of tears and cuts, slicing across it this way and that, the nose severed in half. The mouth had no lips; just great, bloody wounds where they looked like they had been torn off. Its teeth reflected the fire."

How awesome is that?! The figure in the quote is Red, and one night he tells Lazarus Stone – the brilliantly named teenage hero of the novel – that the thin veils between the land of the living and the land of the dead are failing. And what happens when they fail? The Dead can cross over... Without wanting to give too much away – the plot is full of twists and turns that you'll want to experience for yourself – Lazarus discovers a terrifying secret about his own father, and finds himself on a quest that will literally take him to hell and back!

There are so many reasons why I love this book, and one of the main ones is that David Gatward is so obviously a horror junkie. There are references in the book to some of my favourite movies (if you're a horror fan too see if you can spot them) and it's clear that he really, really loves the genre. What this means for the writing is that this isn't just an all-out mindless gore-fest (although it is very bloody and gory, don't get me wrong) but a beautifully crafted tale that can stand proudly amongst the stories and movies that inspired it. There is nothing about The Dead that feels like it's copying what's gone before, it really is uniquely unnerving and thrilling.

So, in short, if you want a book you can't put down, if you like to be scared and excited at the same time, then read The Dead! Or click here to read Chapter 3 and see for yourself. And the good news is that there are two sequels to follow, the first of which, The Dark, is already out (and trust me, at the end of this book you will need to go straight out and get this)!

And now, so you know more about the man behind The Dead, here are his answers to the critical Chainsaw questions...

1. What's your favourite book?
I can't say I've ever come across a book that's my all out favourite. Why? Because I fall for so many different books for so many different reasons. Biggest influence might be Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner. It was the first book I didn't just read, but experienced. I was 11. It made me want to write stuff that would make people feel the same way I did when I read it. Particularly the bit in the cave, where they're being chased by the svarts and the cave gets narrower, they can hardly move... then they come up against water and they've no choice but to go through. Unreal! And terrifying! I loved Lord of the Rings. I was really in to the Dragon Lance Chronicles. I think Bravo Two Zero is tremendous. If I want to be somewhere hot and lovely and delicious I'll read Under a Tuscan Sun. Then, if I want to go dark and feel like the world's seeping in through the cracks in the walls of my house, I'll grab something by Lovecraft. Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts is annoyingly good. Jack Ketchum can confuse and horrify all at once. I've just read Mr Hands by Gary Braunbeck and loved it, the world he's created, his writing, the sentences that go on for not just a few paragraphs but a few pages. Clive Barker's Hellbound Heart, Books of Blood, Damnation Game. Arthur C Clarke's Songs of the Distant Earth. See my problem?

2. Who's your favourite monster?
I love Pinhead! Something about that crazy cat just makes me shiver. It's that at his centre is not simply mindless evil, but humanity twisted and gone wrong, our own primitive drives left to go wild. I love that. I'm all for mindless killing machines, like Jason, but Pinhead does it for me.

3. Who's your favourite bad-ass monster-slayer?
Well, it's not a literary one this, and it's a pretty short-lived moment, but in a film by Peter Jackson, called "Dead Alive" he has a crazy vicar who goes all karate on some icky undead creatures. Just before the fight begins (and despite the fact he gets totalled during it) he yells out, "I kick ass for the Lord!" I love that! Brilliant!

4. If you could make a pact with the Devil, what would you want in exchange for your immortal soul?
Does it have to be one thing? I'm guessing not, because this is my immortal soul we're talking about, right? So, here's a few things to start with:
- A house with a deep, dark wine cellar that would never run dry of the best fermented grape juice known to humanity. And a plentiful supply of candles to place on the little table I'd have down there to sample them at.
- A hotline to serious cheese. Seriously. I love the stuff. And I'd want the best and rarest I could find. Even that maggoty one that's illegal...
- The ability to fly. Surely I don't need to explain why...
- A chainsaw that never runs dry or falls blunt.
- The house off the film Casper the Ghost.
- My own creepy graveyard.
- A ghost called Gerald who enjoys horror movies and lives in the attic.
- A room dedicated to my record deck and my drum kit.
- A climbing wall.
- If you've read my book, the vehicle driven by Arielle.

I'll stop, but trust me, that list could go on!

5. The Chainsaw Gang are all trapped on a desert island with no food. Who would you eat first and why?
Well, of all the Chainsaw Gang, I've only met Sarwat in person, so I think it would only be polite to at least consume him as a starter to the main course. Like the rest, though, I'd have to tenderise him first, so I'd have to dig a big pit and thrown them all in to it. With no way to escape, they'd go crazy, beat each other up to get out, and that'd get them all nice and soft and juicy. Then, when they were exhausted, bleeding in to the sand beneath them, I'd despatch them as cleanly and humanely as possible, then bury them in the sand to not only continue with the maturing process, but also preserve them. I might also consider distilling some sea water to a brine and seeing what effect that had on the meat. And wouldn't it be great if the desert island had some coconuts on? Boil the meat up in some coconut... yum. Ooh, I'm salivating already.

Thanks Dave, those were awesome answers! Right, I'm off to go baste myself in some tikka spices. But just before I do, here are the rules for the Chainsaw Gang competition – it's free to enter, and it's really worth it because you could win a set of signed books from every single Chainsaw author!!!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Dark is LIVE... and here's it's first review!

OK, so The Dark is officially out tomorrow, but it seems that it's been lurking around for a few days now in bookshops up and down the country. This is a good thing. Why? Well, because I've gone and got a review like this, at's why:

"Lazarus Stone has been killed, resurrected, and attacked by demons. He's all that stands between our world and the Dead. But things are getting complicated: he's alone in the land ofthe Dead, his best mate Craig is missing, and he's no idea who – or what – tricked his dad into trying to bring back his long-dead mum. Oh, and he's wearing a corpse's clothes.

Life, he might think, couldn't get much worse. But it will...

Back in May I posted my review of The Dead by David Gatward. I really enjoyed that book, and the rave reviews it garnered from the likes of SFX, Gorezone and The Bookbag proved I was far from being alone in thinking this. My only real criticism at the time was that the book was just too short -  just as the story really got going it came to an end, leaving us with a pretty massive cliffhanger. David agreed with my comment, but promised me and the readers of The Book Zone that the next book in the series would be longer, and with The Dark having an additional 100 or so pages he has certainly lived up to his word. But is longer better in this case? Absolutely - quality has certainly not been sacrificed in favour of quantity.

The Dark starts at the exact moment that The Dead finished - no faffing around with back story, or setting the scene for the new book - so if you haven't already read The Dead then you had better rectify this before picking up this book. Don't expect me to go into too much detail about the beginning, for to do that would create too many spoliers. Suffice to say, Lazarus Stone is very much now a boy on a mission - to save his friend, find his father, and ultimately prevent the legions of the dead from breaking through into our world. In fact, the opening line to this book is a corker: "It could smell blood and flesh. And it wanted to burrow into it, like a worm into an apple". It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to work out that the owner of said blood and flesh could be in the a nasty surprise in the very near future!

The Dead set the scene for this book very well. In that first book in the series the author developed his main character, and a couple of his secondary characters, in a way that the reader warmed to them very quickly, so that when things went wrong we felt concern and worried about them. In The Dark he develops all of these characters further, and we also get to meet a few more, and we really start to see what motivates these people, and more importantly how they react when facing the horrors that walk the land of the Dead. My favourite character is the alcoholic angel Arielle - not only is she a great kick-ass heroine, but she also brings a great deal of humour to the story through her wisecracks and need to recuperate by drinking copious amounts of wine. We also get to see more of the bad-tempered Red in this book, although much of his personality still remains a mystery to the reader. I have a feeling we will be seeing much more of Red in future books.

The greater length of The Dark also allows for far more action set pieces that we were given in its predecessor, and these come pretty much non-stop from the first chapter onwards. Some of these are better written than others - one or twice in the middle of a frenetic fight scene I lost the thread a little and had to start reading that scene again. However, the author more than makes up for this with his descriptions of the setting and the various Lovecraftian creatures that our heroes come up against. Lest we forget, this is first and foremost a horror story, with action/adventure elements, and it is in the horror arena that David Gatward excels.

If you are a fan of the work of Darren Shan and have not yet discovered this series then it is well worth reading. Dave Gatward certainly knows his horror, and at times this series comes across as his personal homage to the horror films he has loved for most of his life. As an adult reader there were several times when I felt a knowing grin creep onto my face as I spotted a subtle reference here and there. Many of these will be lost on David's younger target audience, but this is the kind of book that will inspire them to become lifelong lovers of the horror genre, both written and cinematic, and they will be able to look forward to spotting these fanboy references, but in reverse. It has certainly made me dig out a few of my favourite (though long unwatched) horror DVDs.

April 2011 seems a long way off at the moment, but unfortunately that is also when the third book in the series, The Damned, will be released so fans of the series will have to be patient. Yet again Dave Gatward leaves his readers wanting a lot more - the cliffhanger is a little less heart-stopping than the one at the end of The Dead, but is more than enough to keep us hungry. The last line alone is enough to send a chill down your spine as you start to imagine the implications of it for our team of heroes. My thanks go to the generous people at Hodder for sending me a copy of The Dark to review, its official release date is 7th October, but I saw it in my local bookshop yesterday so it is already in the wild."

... Wow...

What a great way to send a book out in to the wilds... Thanks to Darren at bookzone4boys!