Monthly Round-Up: September 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Well it’s been a busy old month since the last update. End of September? How did that happen? Before you know it, it’ll be time to think about the dreaded Festive Season…

But for now, on with the news.

the-whispering-death-new-master-website-2OUT NOW

I am pleased to announce that THE WHISPERING DEATH has been re-released with a new cover, hand drawn by the uber-talented Erin Kelso. I include it to the right. Nice and spooky, yes?

The story itself is unchanged, and remains available in print and Kindle version from Amazon.

And of course SUFFER THE CHILDREN is available in all e-book formats.


I’ve had a few guest appearances online in the past month.

On 5 September I did a blog swap with Chuck Bowie, with a post about the importance of rewriting appearing on his blog. Then on 16 September I appeared on Diane Dooley’s blog, with a post about being a woman of horror.

My interview for the British Fantasy Society’s journal appeared in issue #16, which was released this month. The British Fantasy Society exists to supports British writers and publishers of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and the journal is free to members. If you’re not a member but want to be, check out membership options on their website.

And, speaking of the BFS, I attended FantasyCon, the SF/F/H convention run by the BFS which this year was in the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough. It was a great weekend, catching up with old friends and making new ones, and I had a panel and a reading as well. I read from SUFFER THE CHILDREN. Reading slots were organised this year with two authors sharing a half-hour slot. A very good idea, to my mind – it meant the audience was bigger. And my reading partner, Priya Sharma, is a fantastic short story writer and a lovely person.


I am making good progress with the fourth Shara Summers novel, which is currently titled DEADLY SUMMER. Still first draft, though, so a long way to go yet.

That’s it to report for now. See you next month!

What I’m Doing At FantasyCon 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This weekend I head for the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough for the annual British celebration of SF/F/horror literature, FantasyCon. FantasyCon was the first con I ever attended, some time in the late 1990s, and I still hold it in fond regard.

On this occasion I am travelling alone, since Hubby is not joining me. He claims to want a quiet weekend at home. I think he’s looking forward to a weekend of being able to play games, make models, watch the documentaries he likes in peace. That’s OK with me as long as he remembers to feed the cats.

Anyway, I shall be at the day job Friday morning, and then boarding a train to the wilds of Yorkshire mid-afternoon. Somewhere I have to change trains. I think it might be York. There’s not a lot of time between the two so I hope the first train doesn’t run late. I am supposed to get to Scarborough about 5:30pm. In plenty of time for the disco – hurrah!

In any case, I do have things to do for this particular convention. I am giving a reading at 3pm on Saturday. The organisers have organised author readings in half-hour slots, with two authors per slot. I rather like this idea. It means you’re less likely to have no one turn up to your reading, since there’s a good chance there’ll be someone there to watch the other author as well. My reading partner is Priya Sharma. I have not met her before, but looking forward to doing so on Saturday.

Then at 8pm I’ve got a panel called ‘Paint It Black’, which is all about why horror permeates so many other genres. My fellow panellists are Simon Bestwick, Jo Thomas, Timothy Jarvis and Phil Sloman, who is moderating. With the exception of Simon, who I’ve met in person, everyone else I only know from the internet so I am looking forward to meeting some new people.

Other than that, I shall be visiting a few panels and spending a lot of time in the bar, where I hope to be able to meet up with the people I only ever get to talk to at Cons. Although I might be tempted by the FantasyCon karaoke.

So if you’re there, come and say hello. If you tell me you’ve bought a copy of any of my books at any point, I might even buy you a drink.



Monday’s Friend: Chuck Bowie

Today I’m pleased to be doing a blog swap with Canadian writer and fellow MuseItUp stable mate Chuck Bowie.When you’re finished here, hop on over to his blog to see what I have to say about re-writing.

But for now let’s give a big welcome to Chuck!

Oh, Those Oh-So Predictable Lines!.
By Chuck Bowie

‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’
Benjamin Franklin

You’ve had that first sniff at success, be it a completed story or a published novel and now, armed with confidence, you open a blank screen and begin:

Chuck‘It was a dark and stormy night.” So far, so good. That familiar ring upon re-reading those six words suggests you’re onto something, so you proceed. The words flow, and you get your thousand words on that first day, and it feels good.

That evening, watching one of those Sunday evening movies, you put on your writer’s cap and analyze each scene as it unfolds. You nudge your partner. “Behind the door is the librarian. She’s gonna be holding a gun!” And Lo! That is exactly what happens. With a tone of admiration, your partner says “I can’t wait until your story is written. You won’t be as predictable as this show, right?” And you nod your head. Of course you won’t.

The next day, you write another thousand words, and by Friday, you have five thousand words in your story. It’s very exciting. On Monday, you begin the day by reviewing the twenty written pages, and you realize something. Those first six words sound familiar, because you’d read them, a long time ago. From someone else’s work. Concerned, you speed through the paragraphs, noting tired lines, too-familiar lines, and ‘lazy’ lines: the ones you wrote because they were ‘good enough’.

Well, good enough isn’t good enough.

With that having been said, do you throw up your hands and give it up? Should you chuck it and start over? Perhaps. But, hidden within the dross, is there a really fine sentence, or line? Does one (or more) of your paragraphs really push your story along? Does one of your sentences, however awkwardly it was constructed, reveal something true about your character, or the scene, or the description?

Well, then. You now have options. You can begin to fix things, cutting lines like a machete through tangled Amazonian greenery. Or you can, of course, always purge and recreate. Might I suggest a third option?

Keep going.

Writing is re-writing, to coin a phrase. But just before re-writing, is the writing part. That’s where you are right now, staring at your twenty pages of not-good-enough work. If your plot is intact, your characters are unfolding, and your setting has been set, keep on going. Make minor adjustments as you travel down this path, but keep up your pace. All too soon, you’ll get to the re-writing phase. Engineers have this expression: ‘First direction, then velocity.’ Let this be your mantra. Get your plot rolling before worrying too much about details you can refine later.


Unless everything you’ve written is derivative, too familiar or just plain old copied from somewhere. This is not good. Shakespeare says there is nothing new under the sun, but this does not give the writer license to take whatever they want and call it their own. So be tough on yourself, once you’ve entered the rewriting phase.

You may recall me mentioning to keep going. And I also noted there’s not much about the human condition that hasn’t already been experienced (and in some way documented). With these in mind, it is absolutely critical to have an interesting story to tell. If it isn’t worth telling, or if it’s been told to death—and by better writers than you and me—then perhaps this isn’t your story to tell.

StealItAllCover180116 (2)Writing is hard work. The average book of fiction takes 80,000 words times twenty re-writes totaling 1.6 million carefully studied words. Do not put yourself through this if you aren’t going to commit to the best possible effort. This includes offering the best plot you can imagine, and a strong re-write can help. Do not, above all else, be predictable. Samuel Johnson wrote the most scathing review I ever read. It went like this: ‘Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.’

Don’t be that writer.

Author bio:

Chuck Bowie writes international suspense-thrillers from his Fredericton, New Brunswick home. His third novel, STEAL IT ALL drops in paperback this fall.

Find out more about Chuck from his website, or by following him on Twitter.



Monthly Round-up: August 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

With the summer behind us we are facing longer nights, colder days, and can look forward to Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night (at least here in the UK). Though we are having a burst of unseasonably warm weather here in London so maybe we can hold onto summer just a bit longer.


SUFFER THE CHILDREN is now available in from all e-book retailers. It’s still available direct from the MuseItUp store at the special release price of $2.99, and if you buy it from there it is available in all e-book formats.


I’ve been busy with guest posts since the last round up. Here is a run-down:

30 July – guest post on Luke Walker’s blog on the endurance of horror.

12 August – interview on Judy Penz Sheluk’s blog as part of a new series called ‘Before they were authors‘.

17 August – Interview on Kay Lalone’s blog about SUFFER THE CHILDREN

I’ve got a few more guest posts coming up over the next few weeks, and I’m also off to FantasyCon in Scarborough next month. So watch this space!


The horror novel has not been going well so I’ve put it to one side while I work out how to fix it. I think none of the characters are working. Or the plot. In fact the only thing I’m happy with is the setting, so I think some major surgery is required for this time.

In the meantime, however, I’m happy to say I’ve started work on the fourth Shara Summers novel. This one takes her to New York city, and it has a provisional title of DEADLY SUMMER. Early days yet, but it’s going quite well.

See you next month!

Monday’s Friend: Adam Lawrence

This week I’m pleased to have debut author and fellow Kensington Gore writer Adam Lawrence as my guest on the blog. Adam is also a keen gamer and a fellow Resident Evil fan. Welcome, Adam!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

AL: When I was little I always enjoyed creating my own versions of monsters and characters that I liked. For instance, I liked Top Trumps but I didn’t like the subjects so I created my own with my own characters and stories. That grew into wanting to make my own comics, but I guess I find typing a lot faster than drawing now! I get very passionate about the stories I enjoy, but often find there’s things missing or things I feel could have been improved on. My stories and ideas are a product of their inspirations.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

AL: I think he’s reliably cited as almost every writer’s influence but the first person I’d say would be Stephen King. The variety in his ideas I find pretty amazing but I also enjoy hearing about his struggles as a writer, especially the most negative of them.

magic boxSJT: Tell us about THE MAGIC BOX, your debut novel.

AL: The story is about Felicity and Tremayne, two shop workers in a supermarket who have no idea where their lives are going – until they find a witch living in the woods. The witch, Alexia introduces them to the world of magic – a world that has been hidden for thousands of years. Naturally a witch with so many years behind her has secrets and one of those secrets begins to threaten the safety of the world – and it falls to two unprepared and out of their depth shelf stackers to save it.

SJT: What inspired you to write this novel?

AL: I have always enjoyed the little characters – the ones that are plainly average or horribly flawed in their own way, usually floating to the side of the story and not taking centre stage. The idea was to have the world in peril and saved by two people that were distinctly average – to show that even the most ordinary of people can be extraordinary when they need to be.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

AL: Oh, lots. I have one completed horror story called ‘Sleepwalker’ that needs editing and tidying up and another called ‘Evil Never Dies’ that is five chapters off completion. Also I started writing out four new stories to play around with so I have a lot of things to be focussing on! Perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew but time will tell. I think the only way to improve is to push yourself so that’s what I’m aiming for.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

AL: I’m a big fan of gaming, so I’m often playing Resident Evil to get my horror fix but lately I’m running about in Overwatch the most. I also follow Formula One a lot and try to catch as many of the races as I can – that always stops me writing. I also enjoy drawing, which can be both fun and stressful but it can help a lot to visualise ideas I have.

Adam LawrenceAuthor bio:

Adam Lawrence lives in Croydon and is a keen artist and writer. He particularly enjoys writing horror, fantasy and sci-fi, and loves gaming. He’s also a huge fan of sushi.

Adam’s first novel THE MAGIC BOX is available in print and Kindle format from Amazon (UK and US). Learn more about him and his writing by following him on Twitter.

Childhood Hero

One of my favourite TV shows as a kid was ‘The Bionic Woman’ starring Lindsay Wagner. Jaime Sommers was my hero. She was smart, she was resourceful, she was super-strong, and she generally managed to rescue herself without any help from the men, because if she got locked up somewhere she could just punch her way out. I remember bounding around the play ground in slow motion pretending to be the bionic woman – because in the show (for some reason) whenever super-fast bionic running happened, it was done in slow motion.

I had the bionic woman action figure as a kid. It was one of my favourite toys, and it came with a bag of cool accessories – a wallet full of dollar bills; maps; mission instructions; make-up. All doll-size. When I played with my Jaime Sommers doll I made her jump over the sofa, making that clicking noise that generally indicated she was using her bionic powers.

My husband bought me the box set of The ‘Bionic Woman’ on DVD for Christmas last year, and it features all three complete seasons, plus the four episodes she originally appeared in from ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’. Her first appearance was in a two-part series. She was Steve Austin’s fiancee and a tennis pro, then she gets seriously injured in a skydiving accident, and Steve convinces Oscar Goldman to shell out the millions of dollars needed to bionically rebuild her. All goes well at first, but Jaime’s body rejects the bionics and she dies at the end of the second episode. But when ratings are high enough TV deaths are always reversible, and Jaime Sommers proved so popular, she was brought back from the brink of death and a second two-part episode in ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ has Steve discover that Jaime is still alive. But alas – she’s lost her memory and doesn’t remember being in love with him.

And so from there spun a separate series that ran for three seasons, and I’ve been working my way through them chronologically. There are few things I’ve noticed about watching a show for the second time 40 years later.

Firstly: I watched every episode as a kid, but as young as I was at the time, I enjoyed the action, but I didn’t follow every nuance of the story line. I am re-watching episodes I remember watching when I was six years old, but I realise I was misremembering them.

Secondly: I realise that watching this show sowed the seeds of feminism in me at an early age. Even in the 1970s, in a less politically correct time, Jaime Sommers was a fantastic role model. As already mentioned, she was able to get herself out of pretty much any situation, as the villains always underestimated the strength of this ‘mere woman’. An early episode in season 1 has Jaime take her class of schoolchildren (for the day job she works as a teacher) on a picnic. When the boys refuse to let the girls play softball “because everybody knows girls are no good at sports” Jaime bargains with them that if she can score a home run, the girls get to play. So of course with her bionic arm she hits the ball and it flies for miles, she proves her point and the girls get to play baseball.

But I am also realising, in this retro re-watch, that actually it’s not a very good show. Apart from the appalling seventies fashions (orange and brown wallpaper? How did anyone think that looked good?), we have cardboard cut out villains, wooden acting, and implausible storylines. And then of course there are a few logicistical problems with the whole concept of bionics. Bionics are effectively cybernetics, something that I guess was a fairly new and exciting thing in the seventies. Having two bionic legs and a bionic arm are all well and good, but without a bionic spine, if you try to lift a car you’d do yourself a serious injury! And given the fact that Jaime’s bionic limbs are complete replacement for her biological ones, which got crushed beyond recognition in the skydiving accident, there is absolutely no scarring. There are a couple of episodes in which she wears swim suits, and there is no mark at all to indicate where her real skin ends and her bionic body parts begin.

But as a kid I didn’t think about any of this. I was just enraptured by the show. I found it scary at times. The last episode of season one involves a young girl (played by Kristy McNichol) obsessed with her dead mother, who was apparently accused of being a witch, and spooky things keep happening. I haven’t got to that one yet in my re-watch but I remember being creeped out by it the first time I watched it. I also haven’t got to the episodes featuring the ‘fembots’ – female robots who set out to kill Jaime. But the scenes in which the fembots walk around with no face masks, revealing a pair of staring eyes amongst circuit boards and wires terrified me as a child. I had nightmares for weeks about fembots. Hopefully they won’t creep me out quite so much forty years on.

I am enjoying my trip down memory lane in rewatching this series, and having a slightly more objective take on the impact it had on my childhood – good and bad. As I finish this blog post with the theme tune of ‘The Bionic Woman’ I’d like to open the floor to all of you reading. What TV shows from childhood had an impact on you, and have you ever watched that show in adulthood? If not, would you want to? Or is it better to keep memories of childhood firmly buried in the past, instead of running the risk of shattering one’s illusions by realising that the show you thought was amazing was actually rubbish?

Monday’s Friend: Judy Penz Sheluk

Today I’m pleased to welcome mystery writer Judy Penz Sheluk to the blog.

SJT: So you hail from Canada, like my amateur sleuth. What do you think makes Canadians stand out from other nationalities?

Judy Penz Sheluk (2)JPS: I don’t know that we do, or perhaps if we do, we’d rather not, preferring to keep a low profile (although our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, don’t seem to be particularly camera-shy!)

Canada, and by definition, Canadians, are changing, especially in the major urban centres, which have become very ethnically diverse. Toronto, where I grew up, has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Once quite one-dimensional, it’s now a huge International melting pot. If there’s a food you’re hankering for, you’ll find the real deal in Toronto, from Vietnamese to Indian and everything in between. I’m not sure if that’s so different from any other major city. Probably not.

I think, though, as Canadians we are often compared with our neighbours to the south, and there is a difference. One thing that always makes me laugh is the way we look at travel. A Canadian going to the U.S. will say, “I’m going to Chicago or New York, or Miami or Dallas.” An American will say, “I’m going to Canada.” Doesn’t matter if that’s St. John’s, Newfoundland or Vancouver, British Columbia. I suspect the same would hold true for travel to the UK. A Canadian would say, “I’m going to London or I’m going to the Cotswolds.” An American would probably say, “I’m going to England.”

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

JPS: Destined? I’m not sure if it was destined, but always knew I wanted to write (although it took me years to do anything about it). As a kid, I used to make up stories in my head all the time. I’d have a storyline going on for a couple of weeks, like a TV series, until it came to an end. Then I’d start another one. I always thought everyone did that. I found out later that’s not the case. Part of it is because I was an only child of very strict immigrant parents (they emigrated from post-war East Germany (mom) and then-Yugoslavia (dad) to Nottingham, England, where they met…and then to Toronto in the 1950s, when they married). They were both teenagers during the war, and I think the memories made them a bit overprotective. Anyway, I spent a lot of time in my room, reading Nancy Drew and L.M. Montgomery, and making up stories in my head. Put like that, I suppose it sounds quite horrid, but it wasn’t. I loved going to my room and sometimes I’d purposely get into trouble so I could go there to be by myself. I still value my alone time. I can be social, but I’m happiest in my office, writing stories, my dog under my desk.

hanged mans nooseSJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

JPS: Agatha Christie had a profound impact on me. I read every one of her books (including her six romances penned under the name of Mary Westmacott) during my teens/early twenties. I always knew I’d want to write a mystery, when I was ready to start writing.

Truman Capote. His book, In Cold Blood, was nothing short of spectacular. In a time when there were no 24/7 news cycles, Capote captured the horrific murder of the Clutter family, and he humanized murderers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock while doing so. I can remember reading it as a young girl and thinking, “Wow, that’s how you paint a picture with words.” I’ve reread it as an adult, and while it doesn’t pack the same punch today (we’re so desensitized to violence), it’s still beautifully written. One of my favourite movies is Capote, starring the late Seymour Philip Hoffman. Hoffman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Capote and it was well earned. If you haven’t seen it, you must.

SJT: Have you always written mysteries, or have you ever ventured into other genres?

JPS: I wrote a few “literary” stories in the early 2000s. That’s when I first started trying to write and started taking workshops. Three of those flash fiction stories were published in THEMA, a literary publication out of New Orleans. I self published the collection on Kindle (Unhappy Endings) earlier this year.

Once I started to write mystery, however, I never looked back. It’s my go-to genre to read, and reading is the best teacher. I also want to write stories that I’d like to read.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

JPS: I always quote Agatha Christie when I’m asked this. “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” It’s the best advice I can offer. If you decide to wait for the muse to pay you a visit, you’ll grow old without a single word on the page!

SJT: Tell us about the new book.

JPS: I’m ridiculously excited by it, and it’s gotten some amazing advance reviews. It’s very different than The Hanged Man’s Noose (my first novel, July 2015), which is told in third person, multiple POV. Skeletons in the Attic is told in first person, one POV. Here’s a brief synopsis:

Skeletons in the Attic Front Cover (2)What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

dogJPS: I love being outdoors. In the summer, I golf in two ladies leagues. Only 9 holes, more because of time than anything else. I’m a runner. I’ve done four marathons, and a bunch of half marathons, 30ks, 10ks etc. These days, I’m not training for anything in particular, so I’ll run 5k three times a week. You can always ramp back up (though it does get harder as you age up!). I also enjoy walking my ten-month-old Golden Retriever, Gibbs. I’d like to get running with him, but his leash training needs to come a ways first. I’ve had Goldens most of my life. I can’t imagine life without a dog (although I would not miss the dog hair). I also enjoy going to our cottage/camp on Lake Superior in northern Ontario. It’s a far drive from where we live (8 hours) but it’s beautiful and a great place to write while my husband, Mike, does his man cave stuff (moving rocks, splitting firewood).

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

JPS: I’m currently working on the sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose and hope to have that into the publisher this fall. I’ve also been asked to write a sequel to Skeletons, so that is a priority. And I’m planning a new series, novella-length. Another mystery series, but a bit more light-hearted. To quote Erica Jong, “When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.”

Thank you for having me.

Author Bio:

Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.

Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.

Find Judy’s books on Amazon: Amazon UK



Monthly Round-Up: July 2016

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s the end of another month already. Where is this year going?


SUFFER THE CHILDREN is being released (well- re-released) by MuseItUp Publishing on 9 August. It’s available for pre-order now.

SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara Summers novel, will be released some time in 2017.


I made a guest appearance on Barbara Ehrentreu’s blog on 24 July debating the merits of e-books v print books. Barbara wants to do a poll on this topic, and it’s not too late to stop by and post your views.


The WIP is really not going well. I am hoping to have something more positive to say next month.

And that’s about it for this month. Enjoy your summer, and I’ll catch up with you at the end of August.

Monday’s Friend: Luke Walker

Today I’m pleased to have on my blog once more British horror writer Luke Walker, to promote his latest release.

Hometown 129x198-page-001

SJT: Tell us about the new novel, ‘Hometown’.

LW: A small group of friends who’ve drifted apart since the suicide of another friend come back together after they’re all haunted by her in various ways. When they meet in their hometown to try and work out what’s going on, they’re transported to another version of that town. This side of their city is their friend’s grief, anger and pain made flesh. The group are trapped in this hell and the only way out is to find out why she killed herself. At the same time, the wife of one of the characters is searching for him in this world, unaware that someone else is hunting her.

luke walker mirror of the namelessSJT: Setting is always important to add atmosphere to a novel, and the title of ‘Hometown’ suggests that the town itself is a character. Is the town based on a real-life one, or does it come from the depths of your imagination?

LW: Funny you ask as the town did end up feeling like another character the more time I spent writing the book. Geographically and layout wise, it’s more or less my own hometown. I just amended a few bits to fit the story and obviously made it a nasty, frightening place. For the mood and description of the rundown, burned out wrecked city, I was inspired by the look and feel of the film Escape From New York. Kurt Russell isn’t in my book, of course, but that atmosphere is what I wanted to go for.

SJT: Who’s your favourite character in this novel?

Luke Walker Author PicLW: I tried not to have a favourite character as it’s an ensemble piece for the most part. Stu Brennan is the guy who still lives in the hometown and the first of the group to be haunted and realise something is very wrong – he might be the character with the most to lose as his wife is in our world, looking for him, and she has no idea of the threat she and their baby daughter face if Stu can’t get out of the underside of the city.

SJT: Which scene was the most difficult to write?

LW: The reasons for the suicide plotline were obviously deeply unpleasant; I had to go dark for that angle of the story, but I wanted to make sure it was all dealt with as honestly as I could and with the seriousness it deserved. There’s plenty of threat, violence, gore and all that fun stuff but the issue of the suicide dwarfs it all, I think.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

luke walker die laughingLW: I’m close to finishing the edits on a new book called Winter Graves. Once that’s done and it’s ready to submit, I’m either going to look at an older book that was published a few years ago by a now defunct ebook publisher and see about doing it myself, or starting a new book involving a family of cannibals in the aftermath of an alternate history nuclear war. So I’m keeping it light.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

LW: I work full time and write a lot so there’s not a lot of time to do much else. If I’m not doing either, then I’m with my wife or friends, watching crappy horror films or trying to wade through my ever growing pile of new books to read.


Luke Walker has been writing horror and fantasy fiction for most of his life. His novel Hometown will be published by Caffeine Nights in July 2016 while his novella Mirror Of The Nameless is published by DarkFuse. His collection of horror fiction, Die Laughing, is also available. Several of his short stories have been published online and in print.

Luke welcomes comments at his blog which can be read at and his Twitter page is @lukewalkerbooks.

He is thirty-eight and lives in England with his wife and two cats.

HOMETOWN can be found on Amazon.


The Ten Commandments of Writing #8: Thou Shalt Heed The Submission Guidelines

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s been a while since I posted anything in this series of posts. Part of the reason, if I’m honest, is a crisis of confidence. When you have no faith in your own writing, you feel you have no right to lecture anyone else.

However, that sort of thinking is unhelpful, and I’m going to come back to that a bit later in the series. For now, though, it’s time to pick up where we left off in the Ten Commandments of Writing. So you’ve written your manuscript, you’ve polished it until it shines, and now you’re ready to send it out into the world. So what’s next? You have to submit it.

Things have moved on quite a bit from when I first started submitting to agents and editors, back in the 1990s. In those days the submission instructions were fairly standard – the first three chapters and a synopsis, with a stamped self-addressed envelope, which involved spending my lunch hour standing in line at the post office to get my envelope weighed, buying return postage to include on the return envelope before sealing up the package, only to have it land on my doorstep a couple of days later in an envelope with my own handwriting on it.

Nowadays most submissions are made by email, but the instructions can vary widely. Firstly, you have more options, because there are far more small presses out there who are willing to look at unsolicited manuscripts, so you are not restricted to submitting only to agents. But some publishing houses might not want attachments in emails for fear of viruses. Some might have old machines that can’t deal with certain types of software so they can only accept submissions in a certain format. Some don’t like fancy fonts. In the old days of postal submissions, everything was pretty much written in courier or Times Roman. I still write all my manuscripts in Times Roman. It has a bad press in the business world these days, but I have a fondness for serif fonts that are clear and straightforward and easy to read. None of this sans serif font business where a capital ‘I’ and a lower case ‘l’ are indistinguishable (and the font on this blog rather illustrates my point!)

Anyway, here is Commandment #8, and it is important: read the submission requirements carefully, and follow them to the letter, and this is about a lot more than ensuring that the publishing house you are submitting to deals with the genre you write in. Are the instructions asking for the first three chapters and a synopsis, or the whole manuscript? Do they ask for a blurb and the first chapter that must be embedded in the email, and do not under any circumstances send attachments? Do they want the whole manuscript, in 10-point courier font, single spaced, using paragraph auto indents instead of tabs and no page numbers? Then that’s exactly what you send.

Read the guidelines carefully, prepare your submission equally carefully, and double check everything before you hit ‘send’. And then, if you’re anything like me, you check your email box obsessively every half an hour until you get a response.

But at least your work will be Out There, and that’s what counts. Good luck!