Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Lost Solace Book Cover


The excellent Lost Solace cover was created by Matt Hill. Some time ago I did a consultation using early drafts, to gather feedback on what people liked or didn't like. Different people liked different options - but the key point was that everyone liked one of the covers. That showed we had gone in the right direction. When you have multiple options, all of which are winners, you are in a good position. I thought I'd share a bit more insider information about a few of the choices made.

Title Treatment

We tried various title options. I decided that, regardless of colour (gold, white or blue) I liked the three bars that create an angular block of title and author. Perhaps because it makes the title treatment a bit different from other books. The gold option felt like something I might have created, but the ones with the bars were something new, and that made them more interesting to me. They make things look tidy and regimented (and, in fact, the three lines also resemble futuristic military stripes, which fits in with later parts of the book). The one we chose in the end also makes me think of the E being mutated and stretching to the line above, an imperfect copy, and that also ties in to some later elements in the story. Those subtleties would be irrelevant if the appearance was affected negatively but the order there works: a tight rectangle of conformity and clear information (like a computer might provide), which also contrasts with the humanity and quirkiness of an off-centre character above, perfectly matching the character of Opal.

Opal's Suit Design - No Boob Armour

There were a number of space suit options. The one we chose was listed as a male space suit, but it was a far better option than the suits listed as "female" that had boob armour and seemed shaped more like a fetish than a practical piece of armour.

In plot terms there was no reason for the suit to have any femininity, since it wasn’t custom-designed for Opal – it was a stolen military suit, so adornments and comfort wouldn’t be considerations.

I decided it was fine if Opal looked a bit androgynous. In fact, I think the face still has some femininity to it, the kind that is picked up subconsciously, or by close study. As such it creates a nice discrepancy: woman in a man-style military suit, reappropriated for her ends. It fits the theme of a woman resisting the forces trying to control her, and using whatever is around to survive and pursue her own goals, which makes me like the combination even more. Opal somehow takes the overt masculinity and feminises it slightly by her actions and character.

At the end of the day, I couldn't face the idea of unrealistic fantasy armours. I wanted every aspect of Lost Solace to be more real than that. If you are interested in this, here are some articles:

Opal's Face

I chose the model, as seen in this interview post. I wanted someone who captured Opal's intensity, caution and strength of will. Putting her in a suit and zooming out hides some of the details in the amazing original photograph, but we still have her eyes.

Sci-fi Cover Match

A science reviewer got in touch with me to say: "Just as a curiosity, I don’t know if you’ve seen the cover of Andy Weir’s upcoming Artemis, but clearly a certain cover look is in vogue."



I hadn't, because Lost Solace and its cover were finished long before Artemis was available, but it is a wonderful similarity between the two covers. What’s interesting is that when I first began to work with Matt, I sent him various links to reference images and book covers that had elements I liked, and amongst them were a few showing images of The Martian, with close-ups of helmets and faces. I wanted to focus more on Opal than on spaceships, so seeing the similarities with Artemis pleases me that we were on the zeitgeist for this one. Even the colour schemes match! (An early draft of the Lost Solace cover mixed blue and gold colours, which is my favoured colour scheme, but in the end we removed the gold and just kept the coldness of blue).

In fact, one of my early mock-ups to test out photos involved a faint element of stars overlaid on a face, as seen here, which is a subdued version of what the designer did with the Artemis cover. Fascinating to compare them. I have a whole reference folder of book covers that stand out for different reasons, and I have saved this one into it too.

And, as a Classics student specialising in Ancient Greek history, I can’t help being pleased by the link between the Greek names of Artemis, and Athene (who appears at the end of Lost Solace).

The reviewer said "It is interesting about the cover designs - these things definitely have cycles, and I’d say your designer has definitely hit it on the nail!"

Funnily enough, my book got the same rating as Artemis. That's huge for me, since I have so much respect for what Andy Weir has achieved.

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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Karl Drinkwater - Four Way Interview


A couple of days ago I was interviewed on the Popular Science site about Lost Solace. Here's a backup of the interview. They had already written a great review about Lost Solace.




Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester, but has lived in Wales half his life. He is a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics and Information Science. When he isn't writing, he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake and zombies - not necessarily in that order. His latest novel is Lost Solace.

Why science fiction?

My favourite books have always been any form of speculative fiction. As a child I began with ghost stories, which were the first books to make me completely forget I was reading. By my teenage years I was obsessed with fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Although I read literary and contemporary books, non-fiction, historical works, classics and so on, it is speculative fiction that I return to when I want escape and wonder. When I read reviews of my last book, the fast-paced novella Harvest Festival, I was surprised that a few reviewers called it science fiction. I never intended that. To me it is suspense, horror and action. But it made me realise that it was time to write a science fiction story. On the one hand I wanted to be able to look into issues of identity and fluid personality (which is how the Clarissa thread evolved), but I also wanted to take the tempo and mood of Harvest Festival and run with it across a longer tale. That required a scenario that involved a need for movement, quick thinking, and a goal that may not be obtainable, but with consequences for failure that don’t bear thinking about. Everything grew from that kernel.

Why this book?

Last year I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and wrote drafts of a collection of contemporary stories exploring love and relationships. Towards the end of the month the book was finished, but I hadn’t achieved my writing goal – I needed another few thousand words. I decided to reward myself for my hard work, and write something that I thought would be a fun short story. I began Lost Solace. However, the book didn’t end when November ended – the story kept growing and changing. What began as a short story turned into a novel; the original male protagonist mutated from some kind of shallow Indiana Jones who plundered Lost Ships into Opal, on her more personal quest; the armoured war droid companion of my draft notes became a hi-tech suit and spaceship, backed up by Clarissa’s intelligence and a truly-forming relationship. I have never had so much fun writing. I would sit down each day, skim over some ideas for where the story might go, but then let it change direction whenever it needed to. It was a joy to write and re-read, and as a result that project took over from the short stories, which are still sat, unedited, a year later!

What’s next?

I tend to have a lot of projects on the go. In 2018 I’ll be working on a new edition of one of my literary/relationship novels (2000 Tunes), which is a homage to Manchester and its music and people, set in the year 2000, when the main characters are determined to change their lives. I will get the NaNoWriMo short story collection finished and work with my editors to determine which stories to keep and which to throw away (I have around 120,000 words of short stories – only the best half will escape the cutting room floor). I will also get the first draft of my next book written. It will almost certainly be a sequel. If Lost Solace does very well then I will continue Opal’s tale without too many delays. However, two of my other books have been popular and fans often ask me for sequels (Turner and Harvest Festival) – so those are other options. Beyond that I have six other works plotted out and just waiting for me to get down to writing their first drafts. Two of those are sci-fi, three are horror, and one is literary/contemporary.

What’s exciting you at the moment?

Everything about my fiction, especially seeing how each book is received, and writing the new ones. Usually I keep a folder for each future work and as I ponder ideas over a couple of years I keep adding to it – so by the time I come to write my first draft I have no shortage of characters, story elements, locations, ideas, scenes, snippets of dialogue and so on, which act as puzzle pieces to fit together as the narrative is shaped. Out of the thousands of files and links for each new work, I may end up only keeping and incorporating a handful of them, but the selection of material and the research involved is tremendously engaging. I also love letting my imagination have free rein so that I end up surprised at the unexpected, which feeds into my excitement for the project, and hopefully the writing itself. Another thing that helps is that I don’t write in a single genre. In some ways that is bad, because it makes it harder to develop a core audience; but on the other hand it means everything feels fresh and unexpected to me (and hopefully my readers), and I can also select the best mood, format and genre for the story I want to tell, rather than being too constrained by expectations and rules.

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Lost Solace - The Book And The Idea For It


How Lost Solace Came About

I was finishing a literary collection of relationship stories in NaNoWriMo 2016 and had written all my planned stories, but was still a bit short of my 50,000 word goal. So I started a new story just for fun, as a reward for my hard work.

I'd always wanted to write an overtly sci-fi story. For that it helps to have a good background in some area of science, since there's more potential for making mistakes. Luckily I have some background in astronomy, geology, natural science, information science and computing, so that helped shape my story.

I decided to set a haunted house story in space, then throw in horrifying monsters, body horror, and psychological horror, aiming at a fast-paced action story like Harvest Festival. I had originally thought it would be a few thousand words - another month on and it was the draft of a finished full-length novel! I've never had such fun writing before, or been so excited by a project.

Genre Issues

I ended up with Lost Solace: a kind of Alien crossed with Event Horizon. It is exactly the kind of story I like to read, combining the familiar with the unexpected. It is technically sci-fi (spaceships and neutron stars and artificial intelligences), but it turned out that in tone it isn’t a hundred miles away from my horror thrillers, since I wanted a plot with some twists and turns, action and tension, mystery, and a driving pace to it. So some readers might see the sci-fi elements as just backdrop, and feel that it is really a horror story, or an action adventure. But it is also a character piece that has elements of the literary, including structurally (I mess around with structure and perspective a few times). Some might see it as feminist sci-fi since it is very much about women standing up against a patriarchal situation. And yet, in writing it, I wanted an escalation of ever-changing events and surprises, which led to one of my editors asking me to give the protagonist (Opal) a break! So I see the genre as a mix of sci-fi, suspense, horror and action.

I suppose I had a similar issue with Cold Fusion 2000. I call it literary/contemporary, but the terms aren't always a help to readers. If I called it a romance I'd get into all sorts of trouble, even though romantic love is a big theme in Alex's various love relationships with women (along with family love). If I called it a growing-up story I'd get complaints when people realised Alex wasn't a teenager. And although it makes me laugh, it isn't a comedy as such. Sometimes labels are too restrictive and it's just the story that counts.

Lost Solace is ideal for readers who enjoyed my previous dark books, because it has the same focus on suspense and page-turning intensity, but also for fans of my contemporary novels who want to try something new and different, out of their comfort zone; and also for people who like books with strong female protagonists. [Buy links.]

The Kindle Scout Campaign Questions

(Yeah, that went well!)

Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A. The amazing thing is that it wasn't hard. It flew onto the page as fast as I could write it. I was so excited by this project that I couldn't wait to get down to writing each day and see what dangers and horrors I could throw in Opal's way, and what she'd do to overcome them.

Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A. The original premise was a kind of Indiana Jones in space; a hi-tech explorer invading strange and derelict spaceships. But as I wrote things changed, and the male protagonist became female, and grew, so that the tough hero's quest gained depth and provided a real emotional heart to the story.

Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A. The interplay between Opal and her AI (artificial intelligence) companion gave life to some of the ideas I wanted to explore. What is strength and humanity? Can a machine feel things like a human? How does a woman make her way in a man's world? And how far will someone go to keep a promise?

Some Influences And Easter Eggs

  • The opening and ending of the book are a nod to the films Alien and Aliens, which begin and end in cryosleep.
  • “Opal, I feel like I know you. Your past. What you went through in basic. The events on Hellestrom. What you endured on Citadel.” Citadel is a reference to the System Shock game.
  • The tagline "They’re called the Lost Ships … but sometimes they come back" is an echo of "Sometimes They Come Back", a Stephen King story in his excellent Night Shift collection (which I wrote about here).
  • There are lots of others. :-)

The Original Idea

I just found this old document, one of the earlier ones I made, many years ago:

Idea: space hulks like deadnauts. Legendary. Powers in there. He has searched all life, oracle said to float in space, tracked down. Dangerous, all sorts of things. But if can find future then can maybe find a way to make it pay, e.g. Gamble Syndicates. Clear debts, start life anew.

Place feels like power, even in vestiges of death.

Finds oracle.

"You will burn to death. You will be fully conscious." Oracle fades out, finally dies.

How bulk it out as story? Theme? Twists?
That's the kind of skeleton seed from which many a bony story grows.

I also had recurring ideas since my childhood for a fictional character called the Eternal Warrior, and made various attempts at telling his story. In some they involved a hero being able to travel through time and space in an armoured suit, fighting for justice; other stories involved a man who survived an apocalypse in stasis in a hi-tech bunker, and awakened to a horrible new world, but one in which the technology he possessed gave him an advantage in trying to restore some kind of order. Most of them remained as tales in my head, ideas I played with when I couldn't sleep. I think a bit of that influenced Lost Solace.

It's worth noting that when I started Lost Solace it was originally a kind of Indiana Jones in space, raiding an ancient spaceship. During the writing I decided I didn't like the guy. He became a woman. And suddenly she developed a more believable toughness, yet also an emotional core that ended up powering the novel. And what was originally a sort of kick-arse romp, that led me to a certain hashtag I'll discuss below, became something much deeper.

The Structure

Not everyone noticed that the chapter numbers are in reverse order - a countdown (thematically relevant to the time pressures in various aspects of the story).

When we reach chapter 1 = "One" = Opal is whole again, herself, alive, at "oneness". This also applies to the AI, whose multiple identities are united as one (default AI/Clarissa/Athene). And then Opal and the AI have also gone from mistrust to unity and oneness - literally, at one point. It is the oneness of sisterhood. And since Athene thinks of Opal as her adopted sister, so Clarissa is too. They'll all aim to reunite and become a family again. One family. Yet in other ways Opal has circled back to the beginning, like a letter O (or a zero), since she has not found her sister yet - and that's why the end of the novel mirrors the opening words.

(Yes, authors do think like this. That's why we should be running Governments.)

Oh, and if you pay attention to the chapter numbers, you might find that something is missing.

The Title

On Twitter I sometimes use the hashtag #GirlOnAMotherfuckingSpaceship when talking about Lost Solace (though one fan of the book suggested it should be #GIRLONAMOTHERFUCKINGSPACESHIP - I quite like the shoutiness of that version). At one point I toyed with using it as a title, partly because I was tired of books with "girl" in the title (and I wasn't the only one). If I was going to have a girl on something, then I wanted it to be something exciting. And yes, it is still possible to sell books with a name like that on Amazon! As with this brill-sounding book:


And these slightly less-brilliant-sounding books:




But my wonderful editor was right when she said:

As for the title? I think Lost Solace is actually the best title. It encompasses the quest, and Opal’s own journey, which is the emotional core of the story. ‘Girl on a MF Spaceship’ is awesome but this has so much more than just ass-kicking in it.
That's the thing - the characters of Opal and Clarissa can't be reduced in that way if you want to capture all the tones of the novel. Yes, there's action. Yes, there's righteous arse-kicking. But there's also sadness and longing and fear and loyalty and love and protection. I didn't want to short-change those. And anyway, Opal isn't a girl, she's a woman.

Doesn't mean I won't be looking to some creative person to do an awesome marketing campaign with that hashtag at some point ...

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions that I haven't answered, feel free to launch them in the comments.

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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Technology Of Lost Solace


I thought I'd do some blog posts about Lost Solace. It goes without saying that it will make more sense, and avoid spoilers, if you have read the book first! This one is about some of the terms used, and the technologies that appear in Lost Solace. I'll include quotes from the book where relevant.

Some Acronyms That Aren't Explained In The Book

HUD = Head-up display
IFF = Identification friend or foe
EMP = Electromagnetic pulse

I took the risk that readers would accept Opal using military jargon without comment (since it would be weird for a soldier to spell it out). Some of it is just flavour, and for other terms the context and repeated uses should make it clear.

Futuristic Technology That Is Real

The probes launched. Small cubes as they sped towards the hulk, but extending flexible silver spines from the corners as they impacted with the hull. Each probe showed up as a dot on the Lost Ship’s overlay which was permanently displayed on half of the screen. They mobilised and spread out evenly over the surface in small bounds.
The "Hedgehogs" used for scanning the Lost Ship are a real tech designed for microgravity. Read more about them here. I've not heard of them being used offensively, as happens in Lost Solace.

“Thank you. So, how’ve you been?”
“I have been functional. Minor impacts during travel, but the subdermal gel hardened immediately at each puncture point with no loss of efficiency.”

"I can self-repair to a degree with substrata hard-gel, similar to the ship’s hull, but with each repair the overall integrity weakens. And it is not so easy to repair soft components.”
“You mean my body?”
“Yes."
You've guessed it, the gel is real too. In the novel it is used both in Clarissa's hull, and in the warsuit. It's often referred to as self-healing material.

It felt good as she scrubbed down, her pores opening up, the final bits of sleep and unreality washing away with the sweat. She knew it would all be recycled for later. Everything would be, on a ship like this. Urine would provide pure water and nitrogen, with the nitrogen in turn used to fuel bio-engineered algae and yeasts; even her breath would be filtered and changed, with carbon extracted as another fuel for the bioconverters, which in turn could produce lipids and polymers. There was a lot more going on below that level, but she suspected asking Clarissa about it would just lead to brain ache.
Waste conversion is going to be a vital part of reducing the need for resources; in this case, NASA is interested because of the impact on space travel.

Military Spaceships

Often sci-fi writers adopt naval terminology and conventions when talking about military spaceships. There's a great article On the Taxonomy of Spaceships that taught me a lot. Hence we have two Hammer-class corvettes, backed up by a Scythe-class cruiser. The classes are fictional.

Since I love issues of grammar, here's something else I had to research: use of "The" in ship names. There was useful guidance here, here and here. Hart's Rules covered use of italics. Hence it is acceptable to say:

aboard the Aurikaa
aboard UFS Aurikaa

but NOT

aboard the UFS Aurikaa
aboard Aurikaa
aboard The Aurikaa

(UFS = United Federation of Sectors)

The long-distance ships travel via rule-breaking Nullspace (sometimes referred to as the Null). Realspace is the opposite - the normal physics and world we know. A Null-C warp drive is the latest development for travelling through the Null. It is a reliable method for crossing vast distances, apart from very rare cases where ships disappear without explanation - but since that may only affect one journey in billions, it is seen as an insignificant risk.

Government

Not actually technology, but since I mentioned the UFS it may be of interest to explain the fictional Government and command structure of Opal's world.

At the lowest level there are regional interplanetary conglomerates (Opal and sister were made wards of one). They may be as small as a single solar system. A number of these make up a Sector, which will have its own Sector Government.

UFS Central Authority (or UFS Central) is the main central government, made up of all the sectors - or rather, those that aren't rebelling at the time. UFS stands for United Federation of Sectors. "United" may not always be true. UFS Central is the very top of the administrative pyramid of all human societies. Think of Rome's role in the Roman Empire.

If UFS Central is the brain, then Military Command (colloquially known as Mil-Com) is the body - or, more accurately, the military arm of the Government. It has a lot of autonomy because UFS Central came about due to a military coup, something that is downplayed in patriotic literature (in the same way that many of today's Western governments on Earth were formed by civil wars, disenfranchisement and killing of native populations, land stealing, rebellion, acts of terror, overthrow of existing regimes and so on). Some branches of Mil-Com are also transferred to Sector Government command, but only for Sector Governments favoured and trusted by USF Central.

Enough background for now!

You don't need to know any of this, but I always find the details fascinating. If there's anything in the book you'd like to know more about, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!

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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Halloween Horror Promo


All three of my horror e-books will be $0.99/£0.99 around Halloween!

Turner 
"Turner is one fast paced, horror slasher of a read, that had me turning the pages at breakneck speed. I was thoroughly creeped out while reading this book." -- Brew and Books Review

They Move Below
"Scary and packed full of twists. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended." -- Wishing Shelf Awards

Harvest Festival  
"Dramatic and terrifying, the scenes move speedily along to an ending which stayed in my head for some while." -- Banshee Irish Horror Blog

You can add all of them to your library for under $3/£3, from now until 1st November. That's a bargain.

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Friday, 27 October 2017

Meet Author Karl Drinkwater In The Horror Lounge


A couple of days ago I was interviewed on Lounge Books as part of their Horror Lounge event. Here's a backup of the interview.



Meet author Karl Drinkwater @karldrinkwater #HorrorLounge

Karl Drinkwater

By Karl Drinkwater

Tell us about your latest book

Lost Solace, an action sci-fi horror where a super-tough woman has to face her demons without losing her humanity. A haunted house in space: Event Horizon mixed with Alien. #GirlOnAMotherfuckingSpaceship
 

First memory of reading horror

Up a tree, reading horror anthologies from the school library. The branches swayed and creaked, leaves rustled as if things moved nearby. Weeping willows are the best to climb.

 

Did you write in other genres or straight to horror?

I am a multi-genre author, because my primary focus is telling a good story – genre becomes irrelevant to me. Or the genres can be combined where it serves the story. I’ve written horror, thriller, literary, contemporary, and sci-fi. Some of the horrors are also literary; some of the contemporary stories have elements of romance, and so on. Some of my fans only like my darker works, some only like the more relationship-based stories. A few enjoy my writing regardless of where it goes. All good stories involve characters you care about or are interested in, and situations that pull you in, and elements that stay in your mind afterwards.


Tell us about your fans

They are lovely. Without them I’d feel like I was talking to myself all the time (I only really do it half the time; and maybe, because the cat is listening, it doesn’t count as madness). They write reviews, they tell other people about my work, they send me pictures and messages. I love it when I get an email saying “I stayed up until 2am to finish your book and now I am too scared to sleep!” or “I read that book on my honeymoon, and my husband got annoyed because I spent so much time reading by the pool!” Though that seems to imply that I enjoy ruining their sleep patterns and breaking up marriages, and it isn’t true.

 

Do you believe in evil? 

Of course. Evil is simply making choices that harm others. It’s a reality every day.

It’s why horror is an enduring genre. There are two types of horror story.

Those about demons and aliens and zombies and man-eating sea monsters: that’s entertainment and fantasy and escapism from the more depressing truths of the world. And it’s great because of it.

Those books about the true evil of actions: that’s important stuff that says something about the world, and leaves splinters in your mind.

Both are important.


Do you celebrate Halloween?

Oh yes indeed. I don’t celebrate Christmas, Easter, birthdays or stuff like that – Halloween is the only annual celebration I take part in. I go into full horror mode and set up lists of books and films to immerse myself in. This was last year’s indulgence pack: http://www.karldrinkwater.uk/2016/10/my-films-for-halloween.html
I always prepare trays of treats for any kids calling, and try to go for healthier stuff, like small boxes of raisins, or fake satsuma pumpkin heads where each is different. This was from last year:

Where can readers find you?  

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Website

Newsletter


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Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Works Of Dean Koontz

[Image hosted on Dean Koontz's website]

Last night I took part in some of the Horror Lounge events (where there is also an interview with me). I also ran one event, focussed on the books of Dean Koontz.

Who is Dean Koontz?

Dean [Ray] Koontz is an American author. I used to think of him as a horror author, but I think he prefers “suspense thrillers which incorporate elements of horror, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and satire”. He’s a real bestseller, and has written A LOT. He's been writing since the 60s and never stopped. I think he's written over 70 novels. I see him as a contemporary to Stephen King, both with long careers and ridiculous numbers of good (and successful) books and films. Koontz also helped form the Horror Writers Association in 1985, along with many other great horror writers. (I'm now a proud professional member of that organisation too.)

How did I discover him?

I first heard of Dean Koontz when I was given a second-hand copy of Phantoms by my grandmother. I was gripped from the very first page, and although I'd read scary stories before, I'd never read anything so absorbing. I curled up in an armchair and just kept reading.

I love a book with a good concept. In Phantoms, two women drive into their hometown. Night. Winter. Lights are on. But no people around. It gets weirder and weirder. It's a big town. Where is everyone? By page two you are already caught up in the mystery, and you've started to care about the characters and put yourself in their shoes, because everyone goes to their hometown.

Favourite Koontz books?

I think Phantoms and Midnight are my two favourite Koontz novels (and partly inspired me to write Turner) - though other Koontz books such as Intensity are great at "doing what they say on the tin", an impressive match of form and theme. I loved the way Koontz novels would open with either action or tension, then ramp them both up along with the stakes throughout the novel. The ideas also grabbed me. Ever-living protoplasmic beings of unstoppable power? Human-computer interfaces for emotionless killers? Wow! They were books I could not put down - and that's a huge part of what makes a good book.

Both books impressed me so much that I ended up basing the opening of one of my stories around two people trying to scare each other in a hotel room, and because the guy is trying desperately to terrify the woman into his bed (which obviously doesn't work out well!) he starts by talking about Koontz books. That's how much they stayed with me.

Using Koontz's books as a seduction technique in "Just Telling Stories" (They Move Below)

Dolly says: "Notice how he rebranded himself from Dean R Koontz to just Dean Koontz"

Style and King

I read a lot of King and Koontz books. I was interested in their similarities and differences. They scratched different itches. In a way it's not just style, but story choices. At least in how I used to perceive them, since I spent all my pocket money on books by those two authors!

Certainly back in the 80s and 90s I felt that Koontz generally got down to things straightaway, cutting in with immediate action (as in The Bad Place, almost a perfect template for his thriller/horror crossover - it begins with an action car chase). Whereas King would spend a lot longer building up the story. Less of a shock, more of a build-up of shudders with King (e.g. think about the opening of It, or The Shining).

Koontz also usually offered some kind of scientific explanation, however goofy, whereas King was happy to allow a hidden supernatural world without it needing explaining. These bad things just exist. I enjoyed both approaches.

Films

We always think of Stephen King as being the one with lots of films made of his books, but then I found this list: Scare Yourself with Movies Based on Dean Koontz Thrillers. Yep, there's been loads of films of Koontz books too, so there are quite a lot of options for watching his stories on the big screen over Halloween!

I have a hobby of matching films to books that seem heavily related, but aren't officially connected.
One example is Dean Koontz's Intensity with the French film Haute Tension / Switchblade Romance. (A non-Koontz example of my interest would be Jeff Long's brilliant book The Descent and the film The Descent, even though they are not the same story.)

Koontz The Friendly

Dean Koontz was legendary for being open to his fans: I remember reading how, long ago, he even made photocopied, quirky newsletters for them. He was ahead of the game there. I spoke to fellow author Terri Nixon yesterday [Twitter / Facebook / Website], and she told me Dean Koontz once wrote to her and gave her a piece of advice she looks at every day when she is writing.

"do it always for the LOVE of doing it" [i.e. writing]

Great advice, presented with humour. Great stories that don't disappoint.

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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Horror Lounge Events

'Tis the season to be spooky, so wrap up warm and grab a booky

Lounge Books are an exciting new company for book lovers. Now they are running the Horror Lounge, "a week-long celebration of horror fiction". And they've even interviewed this reprobate as part of their wide-ranging horror coverage.

The main horror programme begins tonight, including various online events and locations (all free!) There will be updates every day until Halloween, with new events each evening. I'm going to try and pop in to all of them.

In fact, I am hosting one of them tonight!

7.30pm Author Karl Drinkwater will explore the books of Dean Koontz on his Facebook page.

So please join me for half an hour there. Tell me why you love (or don't love) Dean Koontz's books. Which are your favourites? Have you ever met him, or written to him? Seen a film of one of his books? Anything Dean Koontz related is up for discussion.

Since it is 7.30pm in the UK, check here or here for your local time if you are in another country.

Dolly may sit on my lap for the event, if we are lucky

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