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.