Tag Archives: horror

Like an angry George R. R. Martin

I have to get to the root of why you take all my favorite characters and kill them faster than an angry George R. R. Martin!” Said Christopher Smith on his Writing Process blog post.

I know why my characters lead mostly brief and sometimes inglorious lives. What I wanted to know was why Mr Martin is also a maniac parent. Like the gods of old who ate their children. As it happens, our penchant for literary murder stems from an event in our childhood.

No, it’s okay. No creepy uncles, who weren’t really uncles, are involved. For Mr Martin, it was Wonder Man. Apparently (and it must be true because I read it on the internet), the death of Wonder Man in his first “Avengers” appearance in 1964  was extremely moving for the young George.

In my case, my formative reading years were filled with The Famous Five, and The Hardy Boys. There wasn’t much killing in either of them, and if a body did turn up, it was a plot point and not a “I’m breathing and talking… oh and now I’m dead.” shocking event.

Then I read William Golding’s ‘The Lord of the Flies’. My innocence was blown out with Piggy getting his head smashed in and his brains floating away on the luminescence in the surf. But that wasn’t really it. Ralph didn’t really show any grief at the death of his friend (the symbol of stability, consciousness, and learning) he just basically went “Bloody hell, they’re going to kill me! RUUUUNNNN!” And then the army arrives. Hooray.

No conclusion, nothing. The. Army. Arrives.

For a while, I kept going over the events as if thinking about them would have saved Piggy. I came to the realisation that Golding killed Piggy because otherwise he would have had to have killed Ralph as well. Piggy, as the name would imply, was the fat kid who wasn’t good at athletic type endeavours and, from the point where Piggy goes splat, Ralph gets right into his cardio. Running, climbing, swimming. He does them all, free of the weight of his Piggy friend.

At that point I didn’t feel so bad about Piggy any more. He stopped being a ‘person’, and instead became a plot vehicle. My feelings for him, gone.

Then I started reading James Herbert and Stephen King. James Herbert’s characters seemed to die because it was their time, and that was fine. I’d be reading, and as the scene unfolds I could tell that this person or that was going to expire by the end of the chapter. Stephen King was slightly different in that his main characters didn’t usually die unexpectedly. The main character stayed alive for the whole of the story, and then he kills them at the end – especially in his short stories. I don’t think Stephen King writes ‘The End’ at the conclusion of his stories. He should put ‘And then they all died’ just to be sure that he didn’t miss anyone out.

Now the wheel turns and we come back to George R. R. Martin. Until I started watching ‘Game of Thrones’ I’d never heard of him. Yes, that’s tantamount to blasphemy (but I haven’t heard of a lot of authors). And I didn’t realise that what I was watching was actually a huge book series. What I was seeing influenced my writing hugely though.

It was counter to everything I’d seen or read before: the good guy, the just guy, the person of virtue would be struck down, while the scum and vermin continued to squirm their way to the top. It was just like real life! And it was compelling.

Bad things happen to good people (it would seem more often than bad things happening to bad people), and people die. Unexpectedly. Plans are thwarted by action and inaction, plots and stabbed and back stabbed with alarming regularity. There were no main characters. These were lives. Lives that were being lived out, right there in front of me (and now in the books which I’m currently reading).

That was what I wanted to put in my writing. I wanted my characters to be alive. But to be alive they also had to be shadowed by the spectre of death. And that IS a problem for me. Those characters that you like, that get killed? I like them too. I’m writing them and we’re having a good time and then I get to the point where someone has to die. It’s at that point that the character in question looks down and realises they’re wearing the red Starfleet uniform from the original Star Trek series…… and they know.

sigSMALL


Want to read me killing your favourite character? Then check out ‘Lament for the Living

If you want to keep up to date with the latest information and releases then get the newsletter (it’s FREE)

Find me on twitter
On facebook
On GooglePlus
On GoodReads

 

Hannibal House – Free for February

To celebrate the end of KDP exclusivity, ‘Hannibal House’, my short horror story (I say short, but it’s ‘War and Peace’ compared to some titles available on Smashwords) is free with a coupon throughout February.  It even has a different cover to the original Amazon version:

Hannibal House - Smashwords Version

Anyhoo – between now and the end of February 2013 you can get Hannibal House for free on Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/283929 using coupon code ‘GU95J’.

Troy is an American, lost. Lost in many ways and so, after the death of his father, embarks on a voyage of discovery to the land of his ancestors: Wales.

His travels around the country finally lead him to a small village on the West Wales coast. Here he sees a house that enamours him and he endeavours to purchase it.

Although Troy is keen to settle down in the village, the locals are not keen on the idea and try to warn him off. But he has made his choice. Or did the house choose him?

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Lament for the Living Final Cover

It is with great pleasure that I release today two exciting pieces of news.  The first is that a benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been solely responsible for securing a block of ISBNs for the upcoming ‘Lament for the Living’ and future titles.  I cannot thank that person enough and will ensure that a similar kindness is contributed in the same vein.

The ISBN for ‘Lament for the Living’ is 978-0-9575452-0-5.

To coincide with this amazing turn of events I wanted to create new cover art that was more eye-catching and announce them both at the same time.  So here it is:

Lament for the Living by David Nicol
Lament for the Living ISBN 978-0-9575452-0-5

Lament for the Living will be released in May 2013.  I’m still looking for review readers who will receive advance copies in February.  If you would like to participate, please get in touch.

Visit me on Facebook: David Nicol – Author
Follow me on twitter: @davidxnicol
What about on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
And ofcourse, GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

That Moment When….

That moment when…. you discover that the title you’ve taken ages to decide on is already in use.  You get the idea for a story, mould it in your mind, plot out the structure, then a title.  It needs a title, even if it’s just a working title.  A flash of inspiration, maybe a path along a number of different title avenues and then you have it: The Title.

Yes!  You start using it.  It sounds good, it flows, it describes your story, it’s already in use.  Wait!  What?  It’s a sad fact that nothing is original now, only the approach to it, and as time goes on the order of words will soon run out.

I’ve just discovered that the series title (rather than the story title) of my next work is already in use.  I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of the series, or games that the title is in use with, and I did wrack my brain when coming up with it.  My next book was titled ‘Dead Reign: Lament for the Living’.  ‘Dead Reign’ being the series title, ‘Lament for the Living’ the first book.  I had ‘Lament for the Living’ first (actually, the working title was ‘Sackcloth Versus the Undead’) and then went in search of the series title.

Zombie film titles are very familiar to me, and I know quite a lot of book titles too (despite not reading most of them) and so I was thinking of something that was different to them.  I wanted to avoid the use of Zombie, or Z, or ‘of the’ in there, so I got to thinking about what the story was about.  Set about three years after the zombie apocalypse when zombies rule the earth.  Rule. Rulers. Kings. Queens.  What do they do?  Reign.  They’re dead.  Dead Reign!  YES!  I’d done it.  Never heard of it, and it’s fairly cool.

Now today I idly Googled ‘Dead Reign’ which is something that I’d never done before as I was so convinced that it was mine, all mine.  And there it was: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Reign Dead Reign by Palladium Books, but not a book, an RPG.  But not any RPG, a zombie survival RPG add-on for something called Rifter.

I considered my options at this point.  The story is still in development and the last thing I want is to release it and then have copyright or trade mark issues rearing their ugly heads should it do well.  So there really is no option, I’m going to have to drop the ‘Dead Reign’ suffix.  Now for another round of series title brain storming combined with a more judicious use of google.

Interestingly, ‘The Deluge of Elias’ was going to be called ‘Deluge’, or ‘The Deluge’ until I searched those titles on Amazon and so decided to base the title on the name of the main character.  Meanwhile, ‘Hannibal House’ was so called because of the association with a strong, single-minded leader and it’s only one letter away from ‘cannibal’ (although there are no cannibals in the story, that was part of my naming convention).  After I wrote it I discovered a building in London that I’d seen many times while living there is also called Hannibal House.

Oh well.

Available now:

The Deluge of Elias by David NicolLong after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.

The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.

Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon US

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon UK

Hannibal House by David Nicol‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

 

Hannibal House from Amazon US

Hannibal House from Amazon UK

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Visiting Hannibal House Country

The idea for Hannibal House was born out of seeing this particular house in New Quay, Ceridigion on the West Wales coast.

The Real Hannibal House
(c) David Nicol 2012

When I saw the house I had a similar reaction to it that Troy in the story had: “Now that’s a nice house”. The people I was with all agreed that the real house we were looking at was ‘nice’, but they didn’t seem to be as enthusiastic about it as I was. From there I got to thinking about the nature of why we find some spaces attractive, and others not. I thought of the tales of Sirens from mythology luring sailors to their doom, and via a fairly random set of processes to the Angler Fish (or Monkfish) Melanocetus johnsonii which lures prey to its mouth by the promise of a free meal.

Although the name ‘Hannibal House’ may conjure up images of a noble warrior, determined to battle against the odds (or a Carthaginian elephant abuser, depending on your perspective), the first name that came to me was ‘Cannibal House’. The concept that houses being human in origin, and this one wanting humans to consume in some way would make it technically a cannibal. But without literal cannibals, the title was a fanciful reach and so it became ‘Hannibal House’ (presenting an impressive edifice).

Within the story, Troy’s journey is documented across Wales and one section is particularly entrenched in reality. Troy sits and eats his lunch on Cefn Bryn, at a place called Arthur’s Stone. He sits on the flat portion of the ancient megalith. And here it is:

Arthur's Stone from Hannibal House by David Nicol
(c) David Nicol 1995

I took that photograph in 1995. It’s facing East. If you sat on the flat stone, like Troy in the story you look North over the Loughour Estuary towards Burry Port and Llanelli. At that point he meets a man called Ivor the Caravan…

Ivor James the Caravan from Hannibal House by David Nicol
(c) David Nicol 1995

I haven’t actually met Ivor James the Caravan. I’m sure that he is/was (it’s 17 years since I took the photo) a wonderful fellow, a well meaning character like his namesake in Hannibal House.

When I wrote the story I based the majority of the settings on places that I had actually been to, and that comes across in the story. However, as Donncha pointed out, it’s unlikely that the Welsh Tourist Board will be asking me to write a review for them any time soon.

Should you be in the mood to visit Hannibal House, or the places mentioned in the story then here is where you’ll find them by clicking here to view them via Google Maps (Opens link in a new window).

Available now:

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

Long after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.

The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.

Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon US

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon UK

Hannibal House by David Nicol

‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Hannibal House from Amazon US

Hannibal House from Amazon UK

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

‘Hannibal House’ is now available

Today, ‘Hannibal House’ launched on Amazon. Before we launch in to the blurb that goes with it I’d like to thank those who have been involved in helping tweak the story to the finished version. I received some fantastic feedback from those involved in the beta so thank you to all involved.

Those who provided feedback will be receiving a personalised copy of ‘Hannibal House’ via email.

And now, on to the main event:

Hannibal House by David Nicol

‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, he comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Available on Amazon:

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hannibal-House-ebook/dp/B008LDK2PG

(US) http://www.amazon.com/Hannibal-House-ebook/dp/B008LDK2PG

 

And the futuristic dystopian short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is also available:

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

(US) http://www.amazon.com/The-Deluge-of-Elias-ebook/dp/B0082FRKNU

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Deluge-of-Elias-ebook/dp/B0082FRKNU

Hannibal House: Release Date 14th July

The beta reading event for ‘Hannibal House’ is under way. Feedback received so far has confirmed that the story holds up and has the desired effect. Other than a handful of minor edits ‘Hannibal House’ only requires formatting to ebook.

The release date for the final commercial version will be July 14th 2012.

Hannibal House is the tale of a young American who heads to Wales after the death of his father to get in touch with his heritage. He doesn’t quite find what he’s looking for until he heads off the beaten track and comes across Hannibal House, a place that attracts lost souls.

Look out for it on the Amazon Kindle Market.

Hannibal House by David Nicol

Sometimes you don’t choose the house,

the house chooses you

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Adventures in Writing: A Strange Occurrence at Hannibal House

Life imitating art. I’ve been writing a short story (that’s turned out not to be that short) called ‘Hannibal House’ that is a diversion from my usual Sci-Fi slant and in to the realms of the supernatural.

I am a very logical person, I adhere to probability and in everything I write I attempt to ensure that the scenarios are believable.  Throughout the writing of ‘Hannibal House’ I’ve considered the actions of the protagonist and whether his choices are realistic, and at the same time made it so that the reader shouldn’t be tempted to throw down the story while yelling “Why is he SO STUPID?!”  which is the way that I feel when reading many works of supernatural fiction.

That’s all very well, but what’s the point of this post?  Well, I had a strange occurrence last night while writing.  It was late (I tend to write late) and due to having a full time job too I was very tired.  I regularly fall asleep in the middle of doing things late at night.  Playing video games I’d nod off while navigating my character only to wake up to falling off the map, or being attacked by beasts.  On more than one occasion I’ve nodded off mid sentence and woken to pages of “gggggggggggggggggg” for example.

So last night I was incredibly tired and I knew that I was going to nod off (again), but I really wanted to finish the section I was writing.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so decided that I would just close my eyes to type the last bit (I am a touch typist so that’s not an issue).

Mid typing I fell asleep.  I couldn’t have been asleep for more than a couple of minutes.  When I opened my eyes I hazily remembered what I had done and that I had dropped off pretty much as soon as I closed my eyes – it’s a gift.  I expected to see on the screen a load of nonsense.  But it wasn’t.  There was a single, perfectly formed sentence.

It wasn’t the sentence that I intended to write.  In fact, I had to read it a couple of times to understand its context.  Then I realised that what I had written was actually a much better scenario than the one that I had planned.

Spooky huh?  Well, no, and yes.  It’s spooky in the context of me writing while asleep.  It’s also odd that I would write something completely different to what I had ‘queued’ in my brain to write.  But looking at it objectively, the brevity of the amount written (about fifteen words) indicates that I was writing for a very short amount of time.  It’s not like I woke up to an extra thousand words (I wish).

The notion of ‘automatic writing’ crossed my mind.  A phenomenon where people in sleep or a trance like state have imparted seemingly valuable information.  Then there is the power of dreaming itself; Albert Einstein apparently achieved his theories via the medium of dreaming about flying through space and time.

Obviously the issue of me writing a different scenario is significant and the logical explanation is that my subconscious thought my original idea was a stinker and seized the opportunity to over-ride me.

*shakes fist at subconscious*  Cheers pal.

Hannibal House is now available on Amazon

Hannibal House by David Nicol

Sometimes you don’t choose the house,
the house chooses you

(US) Hannibal House on Amazon.com

(UK) Hannibal House on Amazon.co.uk

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Hannibal House – Coming Soon

‘Hannibal House’ is the second short story to be released by David Nicol.  It’s a supernatural tale of a house that hungers for souls after the Devil was cheated out of what should have been a straight forward bargain.

Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you.

“Hannibal House” is set for release in July 2012.

Hannibal House by David Nicol

Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

Available from Amazon.com
Available from Amazon.co.uk