Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Christmas

This is just a quick blog to wish everybody a Happy Christmas and hopefully a wonderful 2012.

It has to be quick as I don't know when I've been so far behind - Christmas seems to have crept up on me this year and the last couple of days I've been running about like a mad thing trying to catch up. Thankfully I've a lot of the tasks done but there's still one or two which I hope to get done tomorrow. Still Mary and the children are now off school and this afternoon they insisted that I was working too hard and that they would take me out.

The good/bad thing is that I live right across a fual carriageway from a cinema and bowling centre complex and so we went and saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie when I suppose I should have been working. I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan and have all the stories - the Sherlock Holmes I enjoyed most was Jeremy Brett, even though the role killed him and I don't think anyone comes close. But Robert Downey Jnr. was a lot of fun - it doesn't really have to be Sherlock Holmes, it could have been anybody. But I enjoyed it as did Mary and the children. 

The film I'm really looking forward to seeing is The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe. I really enjoyed the book - one of my favourites - and I've even seen the stage play. The children are looking forward to seeing it because "Harry Potter's" in it, well you know what I mean. I've never been a big fan of Harry Potter though Mary and the children have read all the books and I have seen all the films. The first ones were o.k. but I couldn't get into the later ones at all. But I am looking forward to Susan Hill's work. 

Now I have to get back to work or Career will be on my back. Happy Christmas and we'll all talk in the New Year all being well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Music

A lot of people must be reading these blogs because some of them have contacted me about my taste in music.

I may have said that at one time I played in a band - and that I did a session man for the late Jim Morrison. All those who are Jim Morrison fans looks away now because I did not find him all that pleasant an individual. They say you should never meet your heroes as you'll only be disappointed and although I was never a massive fan of the Doors - I did like some of the stuff they did and have several of their albums - I think I expected more of him.

His main fault as far as I was concerned is that he was too full of his own importance and he was surrounded by a number of sycophants. In another setting I have no doubt he would have been a very nice individual but I suppose you can only judge as you find. I've also met Mick Jagger very briefly in Amsterdam but didn't get close enough to be able to form a proper opinion.

Maybe I'm misjudging Morrison. My daughter is heavily into music and on Thursday we went to hear her sing solo in the local cathedral as part of her school carol service and then we went over to a nearby town as the Northern Area Orchesta in which she plays lead violin were playing at the Mayor's Christmas Concert.

I suppose we all get this from my grandfather who was a great musician. He could practically play any instrument that was set down in front of him. There were all sorts o people coming through our house at one time.

But enough about music. I'm up to my eyes trying to get the Haunted Mind book out of the way - I'm hoping to have it in with New Page by the beginning of February but it's the most detailed book that I've attempted so far. I'm hoping that Lovecraft fans will love it so watch this space.

A lot of interest in American Vampires too - that will be out later next year and I think will be slightly different from any other vampire book that's been brought out.

My wife is asking for a cup of tea so I'd better go. Will write another entry before Christmas I hope. Thanks for all your good wishes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Haunted Minds and a bit on Music

I'm trying to keep these blogs up but it's not easy. Under a great deal of pressure to get A Haunted Mind and American Vampires off to New Page.

The latter has sparked a lot of interest but I think the Lovecraft book will do so as well. I've been working on a section where I examine the main books in Lovecraft - the Necronomicon, the Cultes des Goules, the Book of Eibon etc and ask if there could be any truth behind them or ancient texts which were comparable.

Then it's on to the beings and creatures in the Mythos - could there be anything behind them. And then the places which Lovecraft and others talk about, could they be based on something as well? The results are surprising I think. O

n another topic - and I'll deal with some questions I've received here - some people have asked what sort of music I like. I have actually done part of the sleeve notes for a "metal" band - I hope I've got that right - who have brought out a dark album based around vampires, in particular Abhartach the Irish vampire. But my taste changes.

My son has got me into a lot of dance music and some of it is actually quite good - I'm listening to the album Free Wired by the Far East Movement which isn't bad. However, today I've been listening to an album which has remained one of my favourites for a while. It's a compilation of Irish tunes by the terrific Margaret Barry "the Queen of the Tinkers". Margaret Barry was an Irish travelling woman who lived for a while in both England and America and who had the rare distinction of being photographed alongside Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at the Newport Folk Festival.

In Ireland she was regarded as something of a travelling musician - she played the banjo and the fiddle and she was a singer of Irish ballads. Some of you may know that my grandfather, with whom I was raised, was also a traditional fiddle player and he knew Margaret Barry well. As a child she was in our house on several occasions and when my grandmother moved home after his death, she received a photo of Margaret taken in 1980, two days before she died in the hospital in Banbridge, Co. Down, sitting in a chair with a bottle of stout. Her voice is that great "tinker voice" that was common amongst travelling women singers, heavily tinged with a Cork accent and I still have a great love for that. The compilation is just as she recorded it without any technology and that's the sort of music I grew up with. I recall seeing Margaret Barry in the early 1970s singing on a street corner outside the public toilets in Smithfield in Belfast and she was a powerful woman and I'm glad to say she still remembered me.

I'm getting a bit nostalgic but maybe it's the time of year and now would be a good place to stop. Will talk again before Christmas I'm sure but now off to listen to some more Margaret Barry!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shattered Minds

I said I would keep this blog up on a regular basis but the people at Career are working me so hard that I'm finding it difficult to get anywhere near them! Seriously, I am really up to my eyes in work.

The Lovecraft book A Haunted Mind which will be out next year is a lot of fun but it's also a lot of work if you want to get it right. This means I have to read very quickly through a lot of Lovecraft fiction as well as biographies of the man, commentaries on his work and role playing games. There are people out there who must live and breathe Lovecraft and who must own nearly everything he has ever written or that others in the Mythos have written or what has been written about him.

I'm nowhere near that league which I think is a good thing as it gives a bit of distance and objectivity to the project. So whilst my work may not be as intense as some of the stuff I'm reading I hope it will give a balanced view of his work. Don't be expecting a fan's view because whilst I enjoy his work I'm certainly not one of those all or nothing fans. In fact the one thing I've learned about Lovecraft is that I don 't think he's the sort of person you could have sat down with and had a friendly chat about football or something like that!

And as I argue in the book, perhaps that was one of his strengths as it gave a greater intensity to his vision. But doing this research - and trying to actually get inside the mind of Lovecraft - is quite a task in itself. But I hope that I'm doing it justice.

I'm also trying to finish off the American Vampires book as well. We're looking at it on a kind of geographical basis - although not exactly state by state - and we've decided we need a few more areas. So I'm momentarily concentrating on the swamps and bayous of Louisiana which is a fascinating place. Especially as I've been there.

One night we were driving back through the swamps between a couple of the bayou villages. It was pitch dark and suddenly the car headlights picked out something white moving along the side of the road. One of the guys in the car suggested that it was a haunt but as we drew closer we saw that it was a huge black man, wearing a white shirt and walking along with his arms wide, oblivious to our car.

I would have stopped to see if he was all right but the guys in the car, who came from the area, said not to -they spoke of a group in the swamps called Le Cochon Gris or the Grey Pig, which was a name for human flesh. These were voodoo people who were also cannibals and the man in the white shirt could be one of their numberr. A scarey moment on a back road in 1970s Louisiana. I'm beginning to scare myself so I'll end here and get a rest.

Talk about a haunted mind - mine's shattered. But thanks to Gina who has been reading over the material at New Page. I'm not sure what I'd do without her for an editor. Off to get something to eat. Where has the year gone?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Haunted Minds

The last couple of weeks have been frantic.

As some of you may know I am the chair of five different community projects right across Northern Ireland and unfortunately I'm not the kind of chairperson who can sit back and do nothing. And the projects are quite demanding.

One for example has been set up on a local estate to help one parent families attain education. It provides a creche and a number of other facilities such as laundry services etc mainly for young mothers on the estate. It actually started out as a women's drop in centre but has now a turnover of a few million pounds. Consequently it is run almost like a business - I was in at the start of it and I suppose myself and the Committee are victims of our own success - and it needs a Chairperson working closely with the Business and Project Manager to keep it even going. Recently it's been extended to include domestic abuse - started out with abuse towards females but now has been extended to include abuse towards males which is a growing problem on the estate and in Northern Ireland in general. There is no comparable organisation in Northern Ireland so we've been starting from scratch.

That's just one of the projects I chair and as you can probably see it takes up a lot of time - especially as everything requires a report, evaluation and assessment. We have meetings tomorrow with the police to look at abuse referrals from them and from the courts, so it's pretty steady going.

In the middle of things I'm writing the new Lovecraft book A Haunted Mind. It's hard going - there are so many Lovecraft fans out there that you want to get your information right because there are people who eat and breathe the Mythos. I don't think that there is another Lovecraft book like it in the market - see when it comes out and let me know what you think.

At the moment I'm going through the books of the Mythos in order to see if they could be based on some actual works and where Lovecraft and others might have got his inspiration for them from.

As well as that I'm working on American Vampires which will be following closely on the heels of A Haunted Mind. This has been a lot of fun but it's taken a lot of research too. I hope you will like the result.

So just eating sleeping and working. But I think the reults will be worth it. I'm also working on cannibal cults at the moment for the Cultes des Goules which may have had its origins in actual historical events. I'll not say any more - you'll have to buy the book when it comes out. Off now to grab a bit to eat and then back to American Vampires and Skinwalkers. It never ends!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

American Vampires

I know I said that I'd keep these blogs - this and the Bogstandard Comix one going on a regular basis but it's been proving very difficult. I've been really under pressure over the past few months with both writing and community work and doing interviews on the books. Thankfully the interviews are easing off a bit but I'm still doing the odd one.

The community and historical work is taking on more and more impetus - I've just got involved in what will hopefully be a new project on the Spanish Armada as well as one celebrating 400 years of a local Council. All this on the top of about five committees which I chair and which run projects in various parts of Northern Ireland and writing briefing papers for various committees. I'm also trying to write two books simultaneously. One is A Haunted Mind which is on Lovecraft.

I enjoying doing it but it's such a complex subject and so much has been written for die-hard fans whom I want to keep happy, that it's quite a challenge. The other book is American Vampires which I've found fascinating to do but there is a vast amount of research to it. This looks as the various culture blocks within America and how the respective vampiric creatures have emerged out of this. Forget Buffy or Twilight - vampires are different all over America, just as they are all over the world. A vampire comes out of a different cultural background in say South Carolina than it does in New York State or in New Mexico. I need to keep on top of that - but I really do think that both books will be fascinating and hopefully very informative.

I'm also excited about the new digital books which should be out in 2012 and which I've signed the contracts for. I'll keep you all posted as to these.

Well I'd better get back to the books or New Page will be reminding me of my contract. I've bee watching and recording the new Spielberg television series Terra Nova which both my son and I are watching. It's good and no money has been spared on it, but don't you think it's a bit predictable - sort of like a Star Trek with dinosaurs? Maybe it will become more interesting - it's very formulaeic at the moment.

Anyway, I promise I'll try and do these more often, though I might have said that before.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Going Digital

I think I'm falling behind a bit with these blogs.

The past few weeks have been so busy that I really haven't had time to write them. And I've been suffering a bit of a reaction to a 'flu jab which I got a couple of weeks ago which has turned into a very minor chest infection. Not enough to floor me but enough to slow me down a little bit.

However, I've been able to keep on with my projects one of which is a new one on the Spanish Armada in Ireland which is very exciting. We're looking at the trail o a survivor from the Armada who treked his way overland from Sligo to North Antrim - Francisco de Cuellar and his adventures read like a novel. All good stuff possibly for future tourist material.

The other big thing is that New Page have been contact with me and we're doing a deal with a company to produce enhanced e-books. Now for an old technological dinosaur like me I'm not fully sure what this is but I know it's a book which can be downloaded to a tablet or new Amazon Kindle device which also includes animation, interviews with the author and the like - maybe even movies. I'm assured that they're the next step in modern fiction and that this new company is most impressive. I'm all for the advance of technology but I still like the feel and smell of an actual book. They'll never take that away from me but I suppose I can give it a go. The people at New Page are very excited about this and who am I to stand in the way of progress.

I'm told that the book company will want to interview and film me for the "extras" on the book and will be doing it next year. They're doing quite a lot of my back catalogue too so maybe all of you who want to ask me to expand further on some things will get your wish.

Anyway, I think that the first of the new books will be out next October all being well. My son who is heavily into technological things is also very excited about this as well, so maybe I'm doing something right. It's the future I'm told and I'm not going to argue. It'll be interesting to see what it's like. You'vbe all been warned well in advance! I'd fortify yourselves with strong drink now!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In the Wee Hours

Where is the time going? I promised that I'd do more on this blog and I haven't been able to find the time.

I've been up to my eyes in interviews on the radio - mostly in the States but in oher parts of the world as well. For instance this morning I was up at 3 am to speak to Brisbane and then at 5 am I was speaking to Boulder in Colorado. It really wasn't worth my while going to bed - you roll in and in you're so frightened of actually sleeping through the alarm, or at least I am, that you can't sleep anyway. So it's just as handy to get up and do some work. The only thing is that I'm writing this and I'm absolutely zonked. They didn't tell me this when I started being a writer. We finished this morning about 7 but as I'm usually up by that time anyway, there seemed very little point in heading back to bed.

Earlier in the week I did Burlington in North Carolina and I've also done Baltimore and Newcastle upon Tyne in England. Next Sunday night I'm speaking on the Strange Frequencies radio show - I'm not sure where that comes from as I'm starting to lose track and before that 10/19 on the Mancow Muller show which I think is somewhere in Illinois.

The new book - The World's Creepiest Places - is now out and seems to be generating some interest as does the article on poltergeists in Ghosts, Spirits & Hauntings. I did an interview on that this morning with Barb Adams in Colorado.

Still finishing American Vampires and have got another section of A Haunted Mind almost completed which is the new book on Lovecraft. I've seen the cover for this which Ian Damiels hs done and it's terrific.

Anyway, I'm heading off to bed early as I'm really getting too old to be sitting up all night - though it never used to bother me when I was younger. I promise I will keep this blogsite better updated in future. Oh and buy the World's Creepiest Places - you'll not be disappointed unless you're looking for a book on quantum physics!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Haunted Mind

I'm neglecting this site rather badly.

I keep meaning to add to the blog but somehow at the moment I can never find the time.

A lot of my community work has taken a step up and I'm working on new projects. These seem to be taking more and more time - or else I'm just getting older and they're taking me far longer - and whilst I say I'll write a bit of a blog I never really get round to it. I'm also trying to finish off American Vampires - almost done - as well as a couple of other writing projects which will appear in the fullness of time hopefully.

And I've been asked to do more tv work - I believe that I'm on television on the Ancient Aliens programme but we don't get it over here. I wouldn't watch it anyway as I hate seeing myself on tv. But it must be going down o.k. as they've asked me to do more,

And the big news is that The World's Creepiest Places has been printed - in fact I have a copy sitting in front of me - and should be available as from the 5th October, I think. I'm snowed under with requests for interviews and am trying to sort them out, so be prepared for me on radio stations everywhere. I've already done some of them and I think some are appearing as podcasts already.

Also the next book has been agreed with New Page. This is the Lovecraft book and it's called A Haunted Mind. I had suggested "Eldrich Worlds" but when I was doing up the scheme for the book, I called the Introduction, which is about Lovecraft himself and who he was "A Haunted Mind" and they loved it and decided to call the book that. Which means I've got to think up another title for the Introduction!

I've also started a new science-fiction novel which is about time travel and is set in the American Civil War. What if something had shifted the balance of history, which might be more fragile than we realise, and the South had won? Such an event in itself might not be ompletely shattering but what if it had ramifications further down the line And what if there were more timelines than our own? We'll see where this one goes.

By the way did anyone see Torchwood recently and more importantly did anyone understand it? My son and I sat through ten episodes of Miracle Day - my wife and daughter having given up after the third episode - and we were still no wiser. There were far too many unanswered questions and, dare I say it, the whole adventure was unnecessarily gay. I have absolutely nothing against gayness but did all the innuendo and reference add anything to the plot? Maybe it did and I missed it. Anyway I'll get back to my writing.

I promise not so leave it so long until the next post.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time And Time Again

Well, the new book on Ghosts and Hauntings is out - and a good volume it is too - and ready to buy whilst The World's Creepiest Places is done and off to the printers. I think that New Page are releasing it a wee bit earlier than they had planned, as we're ahead of schedule.

Still working on the American Vampires book and the new book for New Page looks as if it will be on Lovecraft - the title is still to be worked out, although we do have a working title. So doing some specimen work for them on that.

At the moment my son is dragging me in to watch a boxed television set which I bought recently. It's the Time Tunnel from the 1960s and he's quite hooked. Can I admit that I was a big Irwin Allen fan? I truly loved his Lost In Space - it was the magnificent Jonathan Harris which made it for me as Dr. Smith and I have a full boxed set of all the series - and I enjoyed Richard Basehart in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as well as Land of the Giants. I've always loved The Time Tunnel, even though it ran for only one series. So whilst it has been pouring with rain outside, he and I have watched episodes of it. I also had a look at the 2002 remake which looked interesting and deals with the changes in history which even the smallest alteration can make.

It made me haul out the basis for an old sci-fi series that I wrote once upon a time - well actually two or three years ago - about a time agency. Time travel and how it can change our own world has always fascinated me. This one deals with the American Civil War and how the timeline can be altered if the South had somehow won - what would a subsequent America be like if say Robert E. Lee had become president? I read through what part of it exists - almost half the book - and it's not all that bad. It can do with revisions but I might dust it down and have a look around for a publisher. I'm not all that well up in sci-fi publishers but Ill see what I can do.

I have a series somewhere in the back of my head. But the Creepiest Places should be out soon. Hope you like it and the places that I've chosen. I had a lot of fun writing it and Ian's artwork is stunning. More to come,e specially on time travel!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Still working on the American Vampires book which is getting close to being completed. I have to say that this book has nearly written itself and has interested me greatly. It's looking at the historical and cultural influences, from various parts of the world, which have fashioned the vampire myth in the States - looking at the folklore in a number of States. But don't expect it to be like Buffy or Twilight. In fact Paranormal magazine here in the UK has already asked me to write an article on the famous Vampire Chair down in Tennessee. Can you imagine that - an actual chair which is a vampire? And I was able to drag up a story from Latvia which concerned a vampire mirror which is very spooky. So the next time you look in a glass ......

I've just finished the section on the vampire and witch-lore of New York State with its nachtmerrie and witches and am now doing the lore of North Carolina. The book should be finished within a couple of months or so - and I'm hoping it'll be popular as I don't think there's another vampire book like it, I've certainly learned a lot doing it - and then I'll hopefully be working on the Lovecraft book for New Page.

It's not finalized yet but we'll hopefully get something up and running over the next month or so. And of course there's always the comics which are slow but worth it. At the moment I'm taking things a bit easier as my wife and children are off from school and I'm trying to fit a few things in with them - although it's not easy sometimes.

Still I'm off tomorrow to see Captain America with my son who's just returned from scout camp in England. I hope a lot of you are getting a bit of a break over the summer - where's it going eh? Will let you all know when American Vampires is finished and when we've finalised the new Lovecraft book, maybe not a for a little while. Take care and watch out for the vampire kind!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lovecraft Looming

The American Vampires book is almost three quarters finished although I'm taking a few days off here and there to share part of summer holidays with my family.

My time seems to be taken up at the moment with community work - I'm the Chairman of a community facility in a massive housing estate which allows one-parent families to return to education by providing courses and a creche for them. It's very satisfying but as you might expect it's hard work if you're to do it properly. So I've been working with the Project Manager to develop and expand this which is taking up a fair amount of time but which I could handle if there weren't for another set of projects including bringing four rural villages together in a sort of joint project.

There's talk of a marathon next year but again a lot of work. And I do want to spend some time with the family who are all off over the summer - my wife being a teacher. So I've been working on Dutch witchcraft trials for the New York section of the book. However, it's coming along well and I'm very pleased with it.

And of course I've another book in the pipeline with New Page. We're just talking about it at the moment although I've some sample text written. This one looks as if it's going to be about Lovecraft which I'm told is gaining a new lease of life in the US and as a project I find it extremely exciting.

Because the new World's Creepiest Places was finished ahead of time and because there was little correction needed to be done it looks as if it might go to the printer's early and be out slightly early. I should get the final read through from Gina this coming week. And the Ghosts and Hauntings book should also be coming out this week.

I'm looking forward to working on the Lovecraft book which is going to be something of a challenge - and what's life if you don't have a challenge?

Just heard the news as I'm working on this that it looks like Amy Winehouse has been found dead. What a waste of talent! I really enjoyed her stuff and it's been on my turntable for a few days now.

A premonition?

That's not to take away from all those families in Norway who have lost loved ones. All our thoughts and prayers go out to them. And if my son happens to be reading this - he's away at scout camp in England at the moment and I know he sometimes reads this, though he says he doesn't - we're all missing you Michael.

I'll keep you all abreast of the Lovecraft book but keep watching for Ghosts and Hauntings!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Going Dutch Again

It's been over a month since I was on this blog. In the meantime I have been in Amsterdam, which is still an amazing city - I lived there for a while years ago - my family and I truly enjoyed it.

One of the things that I found truly moving was the Anne Frank house which my daughter wanted to see as she's read the Diary at school. Amazing to think of a family hiding away in such a narrow house during the Nazi occupation.

We had a good and restful time and then found ourselves back in the midst of rioting and destruction that is the 12th of July in Northern Ireland. I was talking to a man today who was in Spain over the 12th and he was telling me that he was watching the English channels over there and all they were getting from Northern Ireland were pictures of rioting going out all around the world.

I watched people coming on to say that this is their culture and they must defend it - and if you want to take that attitude then I suppose you can - but how can it be a culture if you are destroying your own area or someone else's? Where's the "heritage" in that?

I had to do a couple of messages on the 12th and I was out and about round our town and all I saw were gangs of youths with beer cans getting moved on by police. And on the television I watched the cars that someone had worked to buy and maybe hadn't paid off yet being burned by gangs of youths in the name of "culture" and "heritage".

One thing my trip to the Netherlands did teach me - and which I suppose I already knew - is that most of the people over here don't really know anything about the culture of the House of Orange-Nassau, which we all claim to celebrate. Or rather they only know what they want to know. Still it's over for another year although there'll be a number of other marches and probably more tension. I don't think it does the image of the Province any good.

On the more positive side, the American Vampires book is coming along - I've just finished the section on South Carolina and am working on the New York State one which once more brings in the Dutch, they're getting everywhere. It really is a book that I'm enjoying writing.

And the new Ghosts and Hauntings should be out soon from New Page with a section from myself in it. Other than that I'm working on comics and have a new strip coming out in an Italian comic called Dark Matter in October. Some of it may show up at the San Diego convention next week. Oh and keep an eye out for an article on Giovanni Aldini from "Man Made Monsters" in an upcoming issue of Paranormal magazine.

The holiday was great but work beckons. Will talk again soon I'm sure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creepy Places

The last four or so weeks have been extremely busy so I've been negelecting this blog a little but things have been extremely hectic. As well as that I've been suffering from a nasty cold which my daughter kindly brought home from school and which eventually turned into a minor chest infection. But am back to rude health - or as rude as I can be - now and up to my eyes.

The World's Creepiest Places has gone to Gina, who is one of my favourite editors and we'll soon have something ready for printing but in the meantime you can have a look at Ghosts and Hauntings which is also from New Page and in which I also have an article. These promise to be very good.

I'm trying to twist New Page's arm on a couple of new books but we're still thinking about them. I know that they're not keen on Unseen Forces so we might put this on the back burner - which is a shame as it would be fun to do.

I have so much coming out at the moment I'm starting to lose track - the new Zombies Handbook which came out recently has been selling extremely well and the Biblio Vampiro has been getting great reviews. I think there's another couple of titles in the series due for release sometime soon through Barrons - I'll check with my old friend Eric Lowenhar and find out when.

And of course, there's American Vampires on which I'm still working - looking at vampire tales State by State. Oh and keep your eyes open for new material on Irish and Celtic Saints which is being brought out by Tourism Ireland Ltd - I'll tell you more about that later as I have a meeting about it this very evening, Enough to keep me going and when I get something worked out with New Page I'll let you all know.

In the meantime I'm off to grab a lemon drink and see if I can shake the last traces of this infection. It's a tough life being an author!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The World's Creepiest Places

Well the new book is almost finished and should be with the publishers this week. I'm rather pleased with it, although I always find it difficult to tell with books - I suppose it's working at the coal face. Anyway, I've been sending each section up to Ian Daniels who's illustrating the book and he always sends me back a mail saying it's really creepy. Maybe he's just easily frightened.

As usual with some of my books, the word-count is slightly more - that's because I get carried away sometimes - so it'll be up to the editor, who may be Gina Talucci again, as to what goes in. Gina always does a good job though. There's two I'm hoping they'll keep in, though they're two of the longer ones - Eilean Mor and Warleggan.

When I was originally talking to New Page one of the books that was under consideration was a Lovecraft one, so in the new book they told me to pick a few sites which had a Lovecrat feel to them. Apparantly there's a great interest in Lovecraft at the moment. So both of these have a distinctly Lovecraftian feel to them and I think you should enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing about them. And they're true!

So what happened to the keepers on that lonely Hebridean light and what was really going on within Warleggan Rectory with the wierd and sinister Rector? Hopefully New Page will include them and you'll find out!

And thanks by the way to Charlotte Thompson who wrote to me and said about how much she enjoys my books and how much she was looking forward to the next one. I hope it doesn't disappoint Charlotte.

Thanks too to all the people who were in contact with me about the comics we've been putting up on the Bog Standard. We're trying to get some more up but with all our commitments, it's not easy. Now that the book's almost done we're beginning to think of a follow up volume, so I'll be twisting arms at New Page.

On another front, there should also be a new book out from Barrons on Angels. We've been looking at Angels and Ghosts and I think there should be one of those - Angels - coming out over the summer with another one slightly later. I'll check with my old friend Eric Lowenhar over in the States and see when it's out - he and I are due a chat about British football. He's a big fan of Tottenham Hotspur over here. Unfortunately the team I support - West Ham - went down at the weekend. Not unexpected but disappointing. I think that's about it for now, off to get this book finished or there'll be complaints. Be back soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Creepy Places

I meant to do this blog earlier but this week has been fraught and made all the more hectic when I lost my diary - which is a bit like might right arm. I haven't got it back as yet but I can reconstruct it from other paperwork, I think.

My new book is almost finished. I should have it with the publishers in about a couple of weeks and I think the release month for it is October. I see that already New Page have already put it up on the Amazon Webpage - I told you that the Ian Daniels cover was something spectacular didn't I? As I said I've only a few more sites to go, then it's away and into the editing I think I could have filled another book on the Creepy Places - there's so many to choose from - but I've tried to give as big a geographical spread as possible.

Maybe sometime in the future we'll do another book of Creepy and Sinister Places but let's see how this one sells first. I've been sending the sections up to Ian to give him some idea of the locations and he has e-mailed me back saying that he finds them creepy. I hope that you do to.

As soon as I get that out of the way, it's down to thinking what the next book might be - I've a few ideas swimming about and have been trying to push one or two with New Page. We'll see anyway. But keep your eyes peeled around October and let me know what you think of the selection of locations.

In the meantime, can I give a bit of a plug for Anna Franklin's Silver Wheel Annural which she does every year and which I think is worth supporting. She asked me to do a section for it and I was really glad to do so. It's published by Lear which is Anna's own small press and which deserves your support - as do all small presses in these days of recession.

I'll keep you in the loop when this book gets finished and when we've decided on a new one. Just keep watching! You might be surprised...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter

It's a little while since I updated this blog. I've been trying to get things cleared up so I can have a few days off around Easter and spend some time with my family as well as a few medical checkups. And of course, I've been writing the new book for New Page which is now over three quarter way complete so it should be ready and off to the publishers before the end of May. Then we'll have to think about the next one and I'll begin some arm twisting.

I've also been doing a couple of book recommendations and endorsements - one for Kala Ambrose whose book Ghosthunting North Carolina should be out soon. It's great and took me back to the time when I travelled up to Asheville in North Carolina for Bascom Lunsford's Country Music Jamboree to see the great Byard Ray who travelled down from the Smokies to play the fiddle with his cousin Obray Ramsey on banjo. Afterwards we travelled over to Whiteside Mountain and the Devil's Courthouse which is a rather spooky place. I was tempted to venture inside it and the Judaculla Rock there in Creepiest Places but I didn't - I'm saving that for Volume II! But I was really happy to endorse Kala's book - we've talked a lot on her radio show and I've always been fond of North Carolina. Heck I've always been fond of a lot of places in the States!

The other book I was really pleased to endorse is Lamont Wood's Out of Place in Time and Space which I think everybody should read. It's also published by New Page and should be out in the Fall. It's a really thorough investigation into the nature of time and to the anomalies that it throws up. I really like the way Lamont writes - some of you may know that he's a native of Texas and this maybe shows in his style. But keep an eye out for it.

I'm going to take a bit of a break and then get stuck into the work again. The comics side of my work - we've posted some of it under my sister blog, Bog Standard Comix had created a lot of interest - from Mayo, Ireland to Canada and I'm busy answering e-mails on this. But trying to get a few days off to eat a few Easter eggs.

All that remains is for me to wish you all a Happy Easter and we'll talk again after the holidays!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Very Creepy

It's been a busy week as I try to get a lot of things cleared up in my community work before the onset of the Easter holidays. I chair a few community committees and after the beginning of the new financial year on 6th April there's always a lot to do, so the writing has sort of moved into the back seat but not quite.

I'm still working on the new book for New Page - The World's Creepiest Places - and this is now between half and three quarter ways done. There are some very creepy places in there - some I've been to and some I've done research on, so when it comes out buy a copy and see what you think.

The hardest part has been deciding what to include and what to omit - but then that's always the way. Ian Daniels who's been working on some of the interior illustrations has sent me down some of the artwork and believe me it's well up to and beyond his usual standard, especially the wraparound cover.

The publication month for the new book is October but this means that I have to have the complete text done by June which is something of a marathon but it looks like we're going to make it. Advance copies should be out in September I would think.

In the meantime I gather there's another book in which I'll have a part due out soon. This one is a collection of articles from New Page's authors on the subject of Ghosts and Hauntings and is edited by my old friends Michael Pye and Kirsten Dalley. You can have a read whilst you're waiting - an article on Poltergeists. And the new Zombie book which is published by Barrons seems to be selling well.

Then I'm back trying to twist New Page's arm on a new book - I'm still up for Unseen Forces or a book on Lovecraft but we'll see what they say. Oh, and a book that I'm reviewing for New Page is an excellent new book by Lamont Wood who's from Texas I believe. I'm not sure when it's coming out but I'd keep an eye for it - really good.

I'm going to take a bit of a break for a couple of weeks to get a bit of a rest and enjoy Easter. 2011 has been frantic going so far and I could do with a bit of a break. I'll do a bit of work on the book but there's a lot of television to catch up on and plenty of walks. Will keep you posted...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The World's Creepiest Places

I'm certainly getting the hang of this blogging so here's another.

It's been a busy week - a lot of inquiries on he new Zombies book and trying to work on The World's Creepiest Places. An official publication month has been designated for my new book which will be out in October this year.

This means that I'm working to a tight deadline and have to have the book ready at least a couple of months before then. I've also been working a bit on the new comics and if you check Bog Standard Comix over the next few days there should be some new lettered artwork up. I had an e-mail from Adrian no later than this morning to say that things were ready on that front. Things are still slow on that front but I'm getting plenty of inquiries, especially about Space 1949.

On the publicity front, I've been doing a number of interviews over the last week - one in Denver, Colorado - and if Steve sends me the link, I'll post it up - and then on Sunday with Dayna Winters in Albany New York. If you want to check it out, you can click here. That's the link for Isis Paranormal Radio so if you want to hear me you can go there.

The next couple of weeks will be taken up with community work - we had a big event over in Ballycastle on the North Antrim coast on Friday night and another one coming up in one of the small villages on Thursday which I'm told will be attended by politicians and all sorts of people. So I'd best be on my best behaviour as I'm sharing the stage with some of them. But hopefully it'll go well.

O.K. back to Creepy Places. More soon

Sunday, March 27, 2011


It's been a tiring week. Last Wednesday I travelled to Belfast to meet with a film crew from Los Angeles to do a number of interviews for two series for the History Channel - one for Civilisation One and one for Ancient Aliens. This took up a greater part of the day and by the evening I was totally zonked. But I've no doubt it was worth it and you can probably see me around June time or in the Fall on television. What I would say is fortify yourselves with strong drink first.

I'm also going to be on Irish television on Vampires sometime in the autumn and there's talk of another programme on BBC/RTE on wolves and werewolves coming up as well as another documentary in Norway on fairies and trolls. So enough to keep me on your screens for a while! Now if a producer wants to do a documentary on the mysterious events on the Flannan Isles in 1900 - a topic which has always fascinated me and on which I've a large amount of material - just get in contact with me. The rest of you will have to wait until my new book "The World's Creepiest Places" comes out.

And speaking of the book - who says these blogs aren't planned out? - I've just received some artwork from Ian Daniels which will be the wraparound cover for the book and I can tell you that it's excellent and well up to his usual standard. It made me shiver and I'd already seen the roughs - so be prepared for a visual treat.

And speaking of books - there's a new book on Zombies out. It's one of a series that I've done for Barrons in the US, on Vampires, Magicians, Werewolves and so forth. The books are small and very well designed and whilst they're aimed primarily at children, adults can read them too. Barrons kindly sent me a couple of copies on Friday and I have to say that it looks very well. There's a few more coming out so keep an eye out.

I think that's about it for now. I'm off to the movies with my son to see The Eagle - which was a book by Rosemary Sutcliffe that I read years ago and which I passed on to Michael. I'm seriously looking forward to it.

Oh and keep checking the Bog Standard Comix blog if you're interested as there'll be further artwork and more details of the graphics going up. If you're into this - and I know you are because some people have been writing to me - then keep an eye out. It'll be up soon.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


My computer is back on line having had a bit of a make-over with a new cloned hard-drive and so many thangs that an old dinosuar like me hasn't a clue about - but I'm assured that they're there. Now I wait for it to bring me a cup of tea in the morning! Anyway, I hope that you all had a very happy St. Patrick's Day. Mary and I just had a quiet time - I've been working very hard these last couple of months and it was a welcome break. I hope that if you celebrated it, yours was too.

And a bit of good news for all you Ian Daniels fans, and I know there are many because I get asked about him on a lot of the radio shows I do. When the new book - The World's Creepiest Places - was first talked about we thought that Ian wouldn't be doing any artwork for it. But as I said, why break up a winning team and thankfully you'll see some of his new artwork in the book. He's just sent me down some roughs for the wraparound cover and I have to say that they look terrific. New Page have also asked him to do some interior artwork which he's working on at the moment and which I know will be great. The new book should be out in the Fall and it's beginning to frighten me already!

Some of the places you'd be best advised to stay away from. I've been to some of them and others I've talked to people who've been there but hopefully you'll enjoy some of this terrorising travelogue. I've tried to go for as wide a spread as I can - both geographically and by subject so it's not all ghosts, it's queer beings and things which might live close to us. Oh and a couple of possible locations of the Gateways to Hell. You've been warned! The book should be out around the Fall and then I'm still trying to twist New Page's arm on the Unseen Forces. In the meantime you'll get maybe a sample in a new book which is coming out over the summer from New Page in which I have an article. I'll tell you more later.

Next Wednesday I'm off to do some filmed interviews for the History Channel so keep watching your tv screens and I might appear before you in glorious colour. But I'd fortify yourself with strong drink first! I'll keep you posted on this too.

Some "taster" comics are up as promised so check out our sister blogsite Bog Standard Comix to take a look. There's witch-hunters, alternate realities and mysterious time travellers. And there's more to come! So take a look and see what you think. I'm off to put my feet up and watch television but I should be back. I'm really getting the hang of this blogging thing - I think. More later.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Scary Places

The new book for New Page is now underway and some of the places that I'm including are even starting to scare me!

Looking at the list in front of me I see that we'll be paying a visit to the tomb of the man who served as the model for Hugo Baskerville in the Sherlock Holmes novel "Hound of the Baskervilles"; the castle where the Countess Dracula was entombed; the home of the Dublin Hellfire Club, and a mysterious house in California which just kept on growing.

Of course, when I was asked to do a Guide to Creepy Places the first question I asked was "What do you mean by creepy?" Is it some place that's supposedly haunted, somewhere where something terrible might have happened or something associated with a wierd or eccentric character? And what might be creepy for one person may not be creepy for another.

I have a list of sites made out which I sent off to New Page but, as usual, as I worked on it, other places with all sorts of meanings behind them also occurred to me so I may include a few extra and let them choose if they want to include them in the book. But I hope that at least some of the places in the finished book will give you a bit of a chill. Maybe a drive through rural Ohio will never be the same - you never know what's watching you from the woods.

And speaking of Ohio - I'll be speaking on Monday night at 7 pm to Rob Bradbury on radio in Hamilton Ohio. We'll be talking about Man Made Monsters, my last book. And on 23rd I'll be recording a series of interviews in Belfast with Prometheus Pictures who are flying in from Los Angeles to interview me for a series on Civilisation for the History Channel. I've been approached by a number of documentary makers over the past few months and so in 2012 you may be sick of the sight of me on your televisions.

The comics end goes very slowly at the moment as we pull a few things together - the problem is that we're all very busy in other jobs and we all live a fair distance apart so it's not easy. However, I'll soon be posting something on the Bog Standard Comix site very soon and hopefully we'll get something up before the end of the month.

I'd also like to mention the fearful loss of life in Japan due to the earthquake and the tsunami and now nuclear radiation. I've been doing some work in Japan over the years and have a number of good friends out there. So my thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people in the midst of what is a horrific time for them.

Lastly, my computer is going in for an upgrade - all sorts of new additions to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century so I'll be off-line for a couple of days. But I will be back, new and improved at the end of this coming week I hope. Now back to scary places - I'm trembling already.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Burning All The Way

I must be getting the hang of this blogging thing as I'm going to attempt it again. The other day I received a request for a written interview together with a set of written questions for me to answer. In one of them, the questioner said that she found my books very spiritual and would I care to comment. This took me a little bit aback as I've never deliberately set out to make my books spiritual but I can see how they could be.

Because this is the question that all interviewers shy away from in case they offend me - "How does living in a place like Northern Ireland affect your work?" And without a doubt it does. You should see the e-mails that I get from time to time telling me that I'll "burn in Hell" from closer to home because of the topics that I cover. I was born here in Northern Ireland before the Troubles (with which I'm sure you are all familiar) at a time when social divides were very fixed and certainties were more established. And some of you may know that I was born into a Protestant family who lived in a largely Catholic rural area. My grandmother with whom I lived for most of my younger years kept a local shop and my grandfather was the local postman. However, despite the rigidity of the time it was a great place to grow up.

Many of my early friends were Catholic and my grandfather had come from County Armagh and was a great musician and storyteller. Although I didn't realize it at the time, he had a greater impact on me than I knew. Late in the evening, neighbours would often gather in our house, my grandfather would play and stories would wash back and forth. Once the scandals of the countryside were out of the way, the talk would sometimes turn to the supernatural . I think that's where my interest in the supernatural comes from and is also that "spirituality" that my interviewer talked about.

But of course the religion of Northern Ireland has also shaped me. My father belonged to a very strict Evangelical tradition and all this talk of ghosts and spirits didn't sit easy with him. When I bought my first book - an old Arrow edition of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", I had to keep it hidden in a linen drawer as my parents thought that it wasn't suitable reading for a 12 year-old boy. Religion is of course a response to and an interpretation of the world around us. I don't think that any of us can truly envision a Universe which is driven by blind chance - there has to be a controlling principle or entity. To me, much of organised religion is partly about power and control. I readily admit that membership of a religious group can give people a sense of identity and can be extremely comforting in times of crisis and grief as well as being supportive in many other circumstances. But it can also be about prejudice and bigotry and the controlling of world views - which we know here in Northern Ireland only too well.

I always ask the question - would you let, say, your bank manager determine your world view in the same way that you would your priest, minister or pastor? Maybe/maybe not. So a number of interviewers have commented that they find my remarks on the church seem sometimes quite cynical - again they're not intended to be but I suppose that comes out of my past as well. Unfortunately, I can still see vestiges of that same insular religion that I experienced growing up, even today. Recently the Arts and Culture Minister for Northern ireland got himself embroiled in a debate about a dinosaur exhibition in which he wanted a Bible open at the book of Genesis to be placed by each exhbit "to ensure equlaity". Again this is forcing a certain type of view and not allowing people to make up their own minds about how best to interpret the display. I remarked that in order to ensure equality, they should also have the Koran, the book of Mormon, Footprints of the Gods etc. on display.

There is an old saying over here - "Bury me face down so that I can see where I'm going" and I think some of my correspondants might concur with the sentiment. I seem to be getting very philosophical here so thanks for staying with me and getting that off my chest. But somebody did ask. Now onto less weighty matters.

The contracts for the new book are now signed and returned and the Creepist Places book has now been started. It's a bit different book for me this time but I really am looking forward to the challenge aand there are some rather scary places that even scare me when I'm writing about them. It's also the first book in a long while where I won't be working with Ian Daniels. Ian is a terrific lad and a good friend and I'm hoping that we can work together again soon - I'm currently twisting New Page's arm to do a book on unseen supernatural forces or on the influences of H.P. Lovecraft, which would be I think fun to do. The new book should I think be out in the Fall.

On the comics front, the blog seems to be working as I was contacted by a former collaborator whom I had worked with in the comics field over 30 years ago. You will also see a connection into a blog called Bog Standard Comix, which is the new site for some of the stuff I'm working on. We should be getting some material up there very soon. Work on the comics front is slow and living in Northern Ireland is a bit of a disadvantage. Comics are viewed over here as children's literature and not as a way to explore issues . The graphics market is of course very difficult at the minute in any case. Marvel and DC tend to dominate and a lot of their stuff is movie orientated. Lesser companies such as Dark Horse and Dynamite seem to be continually tied up in licensing - Green Hornet etc. And while I don't have a problem with that I think that it's time for something fresh. So we'll try to post what we've been thinking about and let you decide. Watch this space.

I seem to have got a bit carried away with all this, so apologies if I've bored you. I have however completed my second blog - my children would be proud of me!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Something New

For someone who is a technological dinosaur like me, this is something of an adventure. Whilst my son and daughter text and blog at will - "Look Dad, I can download one of your books onto this " - they have left me far behind. So many thanks to Laurie at Career who helped me with this and tried patiently to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st century. So here goes.

A number of you have asked me if there's a new book on the horizon and if so what's it about. I've actually been trying to take a little bit of a breather. Last year I wrote about five books and succumbed to being drawn back into the world of scripting comics . So I decided to take a little time to myself. But the nice folks at Career then asked me to do something for them for an anthology they were doing and how could I say no? They asked me to do anything that I wanted as long as it fell within the broad spectrum of ghosts. Poltergeists have always fascinated me and I've always puzzled as to whether they are some sort of spirit or are they something else. So over the summer a new anthology will be coming out from Career in which I get to have a look at a number of cases of poltergeist activity. Be prepared for that. I'm also trying to sweet-talk Career into doing a book on the subject of unseen entities but only time will tell if I've been successful.
And speaking of books, it looks as if there might be a new one round the corner. Career and I have tossed a few ideas about and we've finally come up with a new one which will be out I believe in the Fall. This looks at some of the world's creepiest places and believe me some of them even scared me as I wrote the outline. Some of them I've been to, others I've read about and researched and I've spoken to people who've been there. One of them - I've leave you to figure out which one - Mary, my wife, will not set foot in. There's 28 places that you should maybe avoid when you're planning your holidays. So be afraid - be downright terrified!

On the comics front we're still working hard. Graphics is going through a tough time at the moment and Northern Ireland, where I live has a slightly different attitude to comics than say America or Europe. So finance is always a problem. At the moment we're still in an embryonic stage - scripts are done but we're trying to sort out final artwork and distribution - and it will take a little while to get up and running. And we're starting our own comics blog to which Laurie and Career will kindly furnish a link when we're up and running so that you can see what we do.

I think that's just about enough for now from this old dinosaur so I'll drop back into the primal swamp for a few days. But if you have anything to ask me concerning any of my books or want to talk to me about anything else, drop me a line and we can talk. Look forward to hearing from you.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Begin at the Beginning

A work in progress has begun to get Dr. Bob on the web and writing - check back often to see his first post go live soon. Hopefully you'll also see some excerpts from books as time goes on.