Monday, 25 November 2013

The Book That Changed My Life

This is something I invariably talk about during my school visits, but it's something I've never bunged here. So now I am.

One book changed my life: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner.

I was on a family holiday. It was in a caravan. I've no doubt that it was raining. After all, we were in a caravan, and those blasted creations seem to have a knack of attracting bad weather (as well as not entirely in shape pensioners in pink flannelette jogging outfits, dog owners who think EVERYONE wants their dog to lick them, gangs of topless kids on bikes, and the acrid smell of sausages burned on a disposable bbq).

So, I was bored. There wasn't exactly much to do, bar eating a biscuit, playing scrabble, or listening to my parents drink EVEN MORE TEA THAN YESTERDAY (and very loudly, too), while shuffling through yet another leaflet about either a castle (a few bricks and an overpriced guidebook), an old house (rich people allow the poor people to gaze at their life of wealth and opulence), a zoo (donkey and a bird bath), or a poor attempt at family entertainment (a few farm fields filled with a couple of goats, a roundabout, a display of 'olde worlde farminge implents, and a coffee shop).

At last, the day's entertainment was decided. We would go and... (wait for it...) VISIT A VILLAGE! Yes! A VILLAGE! I was confused. We lived in a village. So why the hell had we come on holiday to go and visit one? In the rain? Back home, I could just open my bedroom window and behold! A VILLAGE! Anyway, kagools pulled on, off we were swept into the rain to look at old buildings, cobbled streets, and to then gaze in wonder at the displays in bakery windows.

We happened to pass a gift shop. The kind that sells everything from swords to hankies to taxidermy, toilet rolls, tins of beans and snow globes. It also had a few book carousels outside. The kind filled with books limp and pathetic courtesy of the elements. Books that look sad and depressed and close to just jumping off into the puddles below to end it all.

Anyway, one book grabbed my attention. Not just because the cover ROCKED (see below), but because the title was utterly mesmerising. What's not to love about "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen"? It's magnificent! So I grabbed it, bought it, and devoured it.

It's a brilliant read. Short, beautiful, dark, menacing, magical. But one section nailed it for me. The heroes are being chased through a cave. The cave gets pretty tight. And finally they end up not at a dead end, but a sump. This is where the cave is submerged. They've no idea how much of the cave is underwater. Could be a few metres. Could be a few miles. But they've no choice - they have to risk drowning to avoid capture.


Even more so for me, because I had actually drowned a few years before, and was completely terrified of water. (True story. I didn't learn to swim till I was 28.)

It was that scene (which is little more than a couple of sides of a page) that did it. Those words haunted me. That book chased me through every moment of my life, pestering me, tapping its spindly fingers against my head. It knew I wanted to do the same, use words to haunt people, tell stories, scare, encourage, frighten, excite...

So now that's what I try to do. I'm no way saying I'm Alan Garner (who's a veritable genius). But I am a writer. With books and everything. And it was his words in that book all those years ago that set me on this path. And to me, that's just astonishing.

Thanks Alan - I owe you a lot.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Why I Want Rob Zombie To Buy My Film Rights

Rob Zombie... Isn't he?

Mr Zombie is pretty damned polarising. People love him. People hate him. People are confused by him.  People wonder just why the hell he puts Sheri Moon (his wife) in everything he does...

Sheri Moon. Wowzers...

Me? I think he rocks.

I started with House of 1000 Corpses many years ago. It confused me. I didn't like it. I forgot all about it.

House of 1000 Corpses. You know you want to...

Then I watched The Devil's Rejects and I was gobsmacked. This was rock n roll awesome. It was twisted and brilliant and the sound track was superb and there were guns and insanity and crazy dialogue and...

The Devil's Rejects. Not the most tactful of posters...

Then came his Halloween duo. Liked the first a lot. The second confused me. Then I watched The Lords of Salem. Which confused me.

The Lords. Absolutely bonkers...

So I was confused. And I don't like being confused because I like to know why I'm confused or it just gets too confusing.

So I went back to House of 1000 and this time watched it on my projector. The difference was immeasurable. Man, that film is crazy fun! Yeah, it's basically Tourist Trap with balls, but that's a good thing. Visually it's splendid. The sets, the way each shot is filled to bursting point with all manner of stuff, just the way Zombie seems to completely get how a scene should look. By the end I was converted - no more confused, lots of WOOHOO!

So I decided this week to rewatch Lords. Last time I saw it, myself and my good horror buddy sat in silence after somewhat befuddled. What had we just watched? What in tarnation was Zombie doing now? And just WHAT the HELL was that weird mutant dwarf thing with tentacles? And the sasquatch? and just who are the lords anyway? And... well, there were a lot of questions.

The rewatching didn't necessarily answer any of these questions. But it did draw me in. I loved the atmosphere and the general gentleness the film seemed to have (ignoring the completely bonkers witches scenes). Yeah, it did have a feel as though it had at points been made up on the spot, that it was a few good ideas stitched together by some nonsense, but I didn't care. Again, it was beautifully shot. That tiny corridor - how did Zombie make that such a part of what was going on? And Sheri - my god, this part was the moment she actually became something other than Zombie's Fit Wife. She was great in it, better than actually. And the supporting cast, too. The soundtrack - great. The dialogue - cracking. The everything about it - a mixed up, potion of crazy weird darkness to pour into your head and giggle and rock to.

So why do I want the man to bag my film rights? Well, I think Zombie has a certain magic to him. he gets horror. He gets metal. He gets theatre. He loves what he does. He doesn't care what folk think. he's unique. Original. Clever. Arty. Bonkers. Violent. Gifted. And I can't help wonder what he'd do with a horror for a younger audience. Think of the fun he could have...

Zombie, for all the flaws people seem keen to point out, for all the crazy, for all the confusion, is to me a seriously exciting dude behind the camera as well as on stage. Now all I've gotta do is work out a way to get him to notice my stuff...

... Goat sacrifice perhaps...

Saturday, 9 November 2013

20 Word Short Horror Story Competition

Earlier this week I tweeted a very short horror story indeed written by someone I can't remember the name of right this minute. Anyway, it went something like this: "The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door." Simple, clever, chilling. And stuff.

So I had an idea...

And that idea was to find two different types of cheese, place them in a box in the garage for three years, and see if they created an entirely NEW kind of cheese when reopened!

Then I had another, slightly more relevant, idea...

So I'm going to run a 20 Word Short Horror Story Competition. Yes! It's true! For more info, just watch the movie below, then send your submission to me at: WOOHOO! Grrr... argh... etc.

Dave "I 'heart' Suspiria" Gatward

Friday, 1 November 2013

Watch out America, the Dead are coming!

ok folks, it's happened at last - Gatward is hitting the US! woohoo! this is a huge deal for me and I'm massively excited.

So here's the info...

1 For the next 5 days you can download FOR FREE book 1, The Dead, here:

2. If you RT and FOLLOW me on twitter @davidgatward with #ShredtheDead you have a chance at winning one of 3 limited edition skateboards!

3 The other two books in the trilogy are available here:

The Dark

The Damned