Monday, 16 October 2017

Karl Is Now A Member Of The Horror Writers Association

My post-celebration face

Good news: I am the newest member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA)!

I'm an "active" voting member, too: this professional category of membership has an eligibility requirement to have sold thousands of copies of a title in a space of time; my application was based on the success of my recent horror collection.

Even though horror is only one of the genres I write in, it's the one I am best known for, so it's a big deal to be recognised in this way - especially in the month of Halloween!

The HWA is a global organisation, and was formed in 1985 with the help of many great horror writers, including Joe R. Lansdale, Robert McCammon, and Dean Koontz.

The HWA also run the Bram Stoker Awards, and I was proud to be on the preliminary ballot for the award earlier this year.

One of HWA's missions is to encourage interest in and appreciation of quality horror, and I'm glad to be involved in the same enterprise.

[If you'd like to congratulate me, I am still begging for votes over on Kindle Scout!]


Thursday, 12 October 2017

I Shudder At Restrictions And Film Companies - DRM Strikes Again

I Like Horror

A friend recently suggested I'd like the film service Shudder. And they were right, in that it got my interest straight away, with its wide range and curated collections. It seemed like such a good option. I love horror! Most of the films I watch are horror films. I don't have a TV - never have - so on the rare times I watch stuff it is films, or old series like Hammer Horror, played on a laptop connected to a projector. So I thought - Shudder will be great! I could picture myself subscribing permanently.

Sadly, much as I love horror, I hate DRM and restrictions (as my many posts on the subject illustrate). And like all the mainstream film streaming services I've looked at, Shudder is also rife with DRM and restrictions to the point that it is unusable for me. It doesn't work with my setup, my viewing preferences, or my devices and hardware. It should do - all my gadgets are capable of displaying films in pretty much any format - but the problems with Shudder and the like are all to do with DRM and arbitrary restrictions from film companies and services.

Normal Film Viewing Scenarios

First, let me clarify the two main scenarios where I would have watched the films.

1. On the sofa, laptop hooked up to the projector. The films could be via the browser (I prefer Firefox) or a special program, that doesn't bother me. But ideally they can be downloaded in advance of watching. Why? Because my broadband speed is merely okay. Sometimes I can watch streamed HD films without many problems. But if neighbours start big downloads then it affects the contention rate, and the speeds slow down. Ditto if someone else in my house starts using the Internet, or if Windows decides to force software updates on me. Then films stutter badly, pause, need buffering. It really ruins the immersion when that happens. Almost as bad as watching a film at the cinema when someone in the row in front keeps talking. If the film can be downloaded in advance it gets round this common problem.

2. The second scenario is watching films on my Kindle Fire HD in bed in the dark with headphones. There's something creepy about it, up close to the small screen surrounded by blackness. Great for horror. Again, downloading in advance is better, for the reasons given, plus because I turn off the wi-fi router downstairs at night before locking up. No point wasting electricity and resources, or risking fires - I know someone whose house burned down, a fire caused by a radio that was left plugged in with the socket turned on, even though the device wasn't in use. I'll avoid that (unlikely-but-possible) risk, thanks.

Neither viewing scenario is bizarre or uncommon. Still, I decided to contact Shudder and just make sure that at least one of these two scenarios was possible - but ideally both.

Shudder Won't Work With Them

Guess what? Neither will work with Shudder.

With regards to the living room laptop they told me: "We do not support HDMI compatibilities at this time, so a computer connected to a projector will unfortunately not work with our service." "HDMI nor VGA is supported at this time." So they even restrict what cables you use and what you watch the films on.

Also "we do not allow for movies to be downloaded and watched without a connection." That's pretty useless then for anyone in a rural area with slow broadband speeds.

No joy with my Kindle Fire HD either. As well as there being no offline option: "We do not support mobile browsers on phones or tablets (android or iOS)" and "we are not compatible with Kindle Fire". I only found the latter out after trying to install the Shudder App from the Amazon Store and getting a raft of error messages.

This is why you can't believe the marketing when you look at a service. Always look into the detail of how you would use it, because behind the lists of promising features, there are usually hidden lists of restrictions. Although this kind of thing should be clear from their website, it isn't, and required multiple Twitter messages and emails to find out.

Let me emphasise: there's nothing broken or non-standard about my hardware. It is fully capable of displaying video. The projector and Kindle screen will display whatever is sent to it without any problem, from browsers or software. Distributors don't have to do anything to make that magic work, that's the beauty of it. For it not to work it means the service itself is adding problems where they shouldn't exist.

DRM And Restrictions Piss Me Off

Honestly, DRM and arbitrary restrictions really piss me off. They are based on the tacit assumption that customers are all potential criminals and can't be trusted. And the people who suffer are the legitimate customers, not the pirates. I once had to return a brand new projector. It wasn't broken - it worked fine. But the Macrovision signal film companies added to many DVDs degraded the signals so much that the films became unwatchable. It's the usual false positive DRM creates. I owned the DVDs, I owned the hardware, and I was just trying to watch them, but DRM kicked in and prevented it. It took months of aggravation to pinpoint the cause and argue my case for a replacement projector even though, technically, it worked fine. I almost lost £1,000 on that one, with no comebacks against the people adding DRM to purposefully break things.

Other Industries Are Slowly Ditching DRM

The music industry gave up the battle years ago, and have benefited ever since. I buy more MP3s now than I ever did. I love music. And the music industry saves a fortune on ineffective DRM systems. Now people who want to buy music but avoid DRM restrictions can do that. Fantastic, we all win!

In the games industry GOG sells games that are DRM-free, none of that broken Denuvo crap (thankfully the publishers of Inside and Doom later removed Denuvo, so I could go and buy their games - I loved Inside). I buy loads of games from GOG. More than I'll ever get round to playing, I imagine. Great games like Witcher 3, Soma, Observer, Outlast 2, Hellblade, The Solus Project, and Little Nightmares. GOG even sell some DRM-free films such as The Frame, Ink etc.

In the book industry the smart players avoid adding DRM. It only annoys and inconveniences legitimate customers, not the pirates. Even when books have DRM it can be easily bypassed. Heck, even print copies can be ripped. I remember when JK Rowling didn't want the Harry Potter books to be available as e-books. It didn't stop it happening, it just meant one person scanned then OCR'd the books and distributed them as pirate copies, and millions of people read those instead of buying the e-books as they would have done if they'd been able to. Open up, don't close down.

But Film Companies Love DRM

But the film companies are stupid. They waste millions on DRM technologies and tying it in to hardware, with the end result that things often break; they can't be ported from one device to another; they can't be backed up; all sorts of technical problems occur that can't be easily resolved. And the most stupid thing of all - people can get a better experience and more reliable outcome from ripped versions of the film. Then the film companies get no money at all. Film companies should let go of their ridiculous obsession with DRM. Even with all this DRM, it would be easy to display the film then rip it to my hard drive.

And So They Lose Custom

And so I save my money. Instead of people like me taking out subs to film services, or buying films, it just isn't worth the bother. I spend most of that money on other media instead: books and music and games. The film industry puts off the very people who would have been their most loyal customers, and instead of adding to the profits, they get nothing, yet continue to spend millions on their ongoing tech war and legal cases. Their war is against shadows, and they are so frightened that they lash out and don't realise they are sometimes punching their friends. You wonder why films are so expensive? Because of this, plus the lost revenue and frustration that DRM creates.

I don't know how much of Shudder's restrictions are down to some of the film companies, directors or distributors being dicks, and how much is down to companies like Shudder pro-actively implementing DRM restrictions rather than arguing against them, but the end result sucks. I'm sure some directors would be happy with DRM-free. It may be like with books, where many authors prefer to remove the restrictions, but some distribution platforms add it even though you don't want them to.

Seriously, I'm throwing money at the screen for films and it just keeps landing in my lap.

I'll keep my eye on services like Shudder. If they ever remove some of the stupid restrictions they'll gain a lot more customers and fans, rather than creating annoyance and bad feeling among people who would have been their best and most loyal customers.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Recent Promo Images

They Move Below - enter if you dare

A selection of promotional images I've used since the last posts (which you can find here, here and here).

Turner - things get messy

Turner - it takes place during a terrible storm

Harvest Festival - the world can burn down in one night

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - the horror exhibition

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - a gallery of modern horror

And, moving away from horror (even though it is difficult to do that in the Halloween month!) ...

2000 Tunes - words for the soul

Cold Fusion 2000 - celebrating the relaunch

 Cold Fusion 2000 - the beauty in small things

Cold Fusion 2000 - the first edition

And a video to finish:


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Lost Solace - My Next Book!

Lost Solace, my new book, is complete! The paperback is in process (and may be available for Halloween if the spirits prevail). The e-book should be available around then too. Fans of my horror and suspense books will love it, but it may also appeal to fans of my character-based literary stories. And, finally, I hope to gain new fans who love sci-fi.

Your Help Is Needed!

I decided to give Kindle Scout a try as a publisher, because that would enable the book to reach many more new readers. Kindle Scout allows people to nominate books they'd like to read, and the more votes a book gets, the more seriously they consider it. So every vote helps me.

Voting is free, and it also benefits the voter - if Kindle Scout publish the book, everyone who nominated it gets a free copy!

If you'd be kind enough to help, all you need to do is go to my book's Kindle Scout page and click on the blue "Nominate me" button:

You need an Amazon account to do that. Feel free to vote for any other books you like the look of too (you can vote for up to three). Whether you vote or not, I'd also be grateful if you could pass on that link to anyone who might be interested in sci-fi, horror, suspense, or literary action! Thank you! There's even a shorter and more memorable URL you can share:

"But is the book any good?"

I'm glad you asked. Have a look at this review from a book blogger that received an advance copy. In short:

"The story is excellent and there is a perfect balance of sci-fi and horror. Lost Solace is absolutely compulsive reading. It's punchy and fast paced. The technology and armoured suit are incredibly thought out and intelligent. The armoured suit is definitely the kind of thing I would want if I was in that kind of situation. I honestly cannot emphasise how much I loved this book. When I finished it my initial notes were as follows - Omgoodness ALL OF THE STARS! 5/5! It's creepy, it's action packed, it's awesome!"

What's It About?

Here's the back cover blurb.

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Can she face her demons and survive?


Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Corpse Bride’s Recommended Reads for Halloween 🦇

I am honoured! Turner has been included in The Corpse Bride’s Recommended Reads for Halloween 🦇. I'm a huge fan of Noelle and her Banshee Irish Horror Blog, so this means a lot. Even more so because the list also includes some of my favourite books, such as Stephen King's IT, along with books by Owen King, Anne Rice, James Herbert, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Richard Laymon, Richard Matheson, and many other writers I respect and have been terrified by over the years. If you are looking for some brilliant scary books then try anything from Noelle's list - I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A With Karl Drinkwater

A couple of days ago I answered a Q&A on Rachel's Random Reads. Here's a backup of the post.

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Karl Drinkwater

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 
If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 
I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, going to aim to read books that have been out for at least 6 months, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for half his life. He's 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.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you'll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

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.

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

Chronology in a writer’s mind can be a fluid thing. My first released book was the horror thriller Turner; but before that I had written a long literary novel that wasn’t working, so I put it in a drawer to ferment. After Turner I went back to my first book, worked with various editors, chopped it up, rewrote it about three times, changed from first person to third person, and eventually split it into two books – Cold Fusion 2000, and 2000 Tunes.

Or, if you wanted to go back further, my first book was a choose-your-own adventure I wrote when I was sixteen and falling in love for the first time.

I have always written because I have to. Mental steam escapes as squiggles on a page. I fall through it into other worlds of escapism. Stories nag and demand to be told. Who am I to resist?

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

Five books published, another two written and almost complete.

In the horror/thriller genres (also available as audiobooks):

Turner – “Stuck on a Welsh island where the locals turn to murder – will any of the visitors survive the night? The Wicker Man in Wales.”
Harvest Festival – “Woken in the night by terrifying visitors. They’ve come for your family. Welcome to the Harvest Festival.”
They Move Below – “Fifteen horror tales. Horror lives in the shadows: in caves, the sea, the forest, even in our bodies. No-one is safe.”

In the contemporary/literary genres (my “Manchester 2000” novels):

Cold Fusion 2000 – this got a new edition this week! “A science nerd meets the girl who dumped him, and who he blames for ruining his life – and falls in love with her again.”
2000 Tunes – “A nerd obsessed with Manchester music. A chaotic Welsh woman who rocks his world. Can sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lead to love and a new life?”

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

I’ll pick Cold Fusion 2000. My reasoning is that it was one of the first long things I wrote; and although early versions didn’t work, I never gave up on it. I honed, I polished, I replaced, and I eventually made it work. Fixing a broken thing teaches you more than throwing it away and buying a new one. Plus the book has a lot of heart, and a deceptive depth that has made a number of readers get to the end, have an “Aha!” moment, then start reading it again.

Having said that, when Harvest Festival was placed on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award last year, I was practically buzzing and glowing with pride, and saw it as one of my career highlights so far.

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

Ah, that has to be my next book, Lost Solace. It wasn't a fully planned project. I’d just finished a literary collection of relationship stories in NaNoWriMo 2016 but had a few thousands words more to write. So I started this sci-fi story, just thinking it would pass the time but be nothing special ... but I couldn’t stop! Another month on and it was finished at over 55,000 words. I've never had such fun writing before, or been so excited by a project. I really couldn’t wait to get started on it each day, and find out what was going on in Opal’s life. I think part of the reason is that I was writing exactly the kind of book I love to read, and tried to trigger a number of emotional responses. Fear, sadness, humour, suspense, compassion – I’m proud of it.

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

I love the two protagonist nerds from Cold Fusion 2000 and 2000 Tunes. Alex is the “hero” of Cold Fusion, a physics geek, and I sympathised with how difficult he made his life, and how he gradually learned that life is more than your obsessions. Whereas in 2000 Tunes I could feel for Mark – he is obsessed with music, and wants a better life, but is being ground down by family and circumstance. But that novel also introduced one of my favourite female characters, the Welsh woman Samantha Rees. She is so feisty yet also vulnerable; tough yet loving; emotionally confused yet also strong … huh, I couldn’t help falling in love with her.

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

I revisit my books fairly regularly, hence the new edition of Cold Fusion 2000 which has just been released. I see creation as iteration. Nothing is ever perfect, and over time we can polish things further. As such there is no single thing I’d change; in reality, I have changed hundreds of things. 2000 Tunes is getting a new edition, probably in early 2018. Even after that, a few years down the line, I’ll probably find other small issues I’d like to change. After all, life is ever-changing.

7) Which of your covers if your favourite and why?

Probably the cover to my collection They Move Below. It is difficult for a cover to represent a whole collection of short stories, but I feel that one does it, since it hints at corpses and being buried alive; dreaming; alien lights from the sky; the depths of the ocean; and many more motifs from the stories within.

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

I am already a multi-genre author, because my primary focus is telling a good story – genre becomes irrelevant to me. I write horror, thriller, literary, contemporary, and now sci-fi. I also mix elements in to each other. Some of the horrors are also literary; some of the contemporary stories have elements of romance, and so on.

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

After Lost Solace is published I’ll be working with my editor on a literary collections of short stories I am really proud of. Some of them were emotionally difficult to write, but it’s important for a writer to be able to tap in to deep veins in order to give depth to the work.

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

It may seem like a cliché, but Stephen King. He doesn’t just write horror – Last Rung On The Ladder is one of my favourite short stories of all time. I grew up reading his books, and they shaped a lot of my interests.

11) Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

I really like the idea of this feature because so often there is a pressure for NEW NEW NOW NOW UPDATED CONTENT which totally misses out on the best of the past. When I read, the only factor I care about is whether it is a good book and a good story. When it was published is irrelevant to me. Half of the books I read last year were 10-100 years old. The main criteria should be related to quality, not chronology.

Thank you so Karl for this lovely interview. I must say I'm loving the new cover for Cold Fusion 2000 and do agree that the most important thing about a book is that its a good story, as opposed to how new it is.

Karl Drinkwater's all important links so you can find him! 
Or just visit my Pronoun page and pick a book!
social media links


Monday, 11 September 2017

Stock Photos And Book Covers With Similar Images

There are many sources of images, but one of the dangers of using stock photos is that they can be sold multiple times. If it is a good image, chances are that someone else will have used it. As a result, spotting re-used images and designs has become a kind of hobby for many people. It involves perception and memory, and I play the game myself.

As an example, here are two covers I spotted
a while ago that use the same base image.

I first got into the hobby after reading Dark Echo, then spotting two other books with similar covers, using the same core image:

The three above are published by Hodder, Penguin, and Harper, respectively. This is obviously an issue for all publishers, including big trade publishers. It's also why good cover designers always make an effort to check if stock imagery has already been used (e.g. by doing reverse image searches).

By the way, I’m sure they're all great books, I'm not saying anything bad about the interiors. The authors probably had no say in the covers either, since it is a rarity in trade publishing for the author to be involved with those decisions. At most the authors are usually just asked for their blessing and to share it on social media when they see the final version. The actual cover is likely created by a design team based on genre expectations, trying to make the book look like others in the genre that have sold well in the past – hence book covers often go in cycles, and you will see lots with similar designs. I see this with many genres – psychological thrillers, chicklit, serious women’s fiction, epic sci-fi, horror, crime etc. We see repeated fonts, layouts, colour schemes, and effects.

I decided to write this post because I spotted some more covers yesterday (I can't share them because they were works-in-progress that my fellow author hasn't released yet, but the central girl on a motorcycle had been used on another post-apocalyptic book cover which I just happened to have on my Kindle already, making it easy to check the match! Both were cool covers.)

If you are interested in this phenomenon, or just in book cover design and trends, then here is some further reading.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Lost Solace - Cover Options

For a while I've been saying "Wow!" about my cover designer's work on the Lost Solace cover. (Lost Solace will be my next release.) I had seen Matt Hill's work on other books and was really impressed, so the chance to work with him has been great. We've been trying out different things, but as you can imagine, when you are close to a project you dither about every ellipsis spacing, every variant of title placement ... but sometimes it's handy to step back and let other people give their first impressions of different options. So that's what we'll do, with a temporary blog post aimed at getting some feedback on which variants people prefer.

Let me just point out that these are draft designs, not finished, so they are not meant to be perfect! But even for drafts I have been impressed with their quality.

I've numbered the images - you'll need to click on them to see the larger versions.

You can respond in the comments below, but here are some questions to consider.

1. Which title treatment ("Lost Solace") do you prefer?
2. Which tagline treatment ("They're called the Lost Ships" etc) do you prefer?
3. Which version of the main character, Opal, do you prefer? (Differing levels of close up.)
4. Do you prefer the all blue designs, or like some orange (as in 2)?
5. Anything else? (E.g. the design for 1 was originally going to have a spaceship in the background.)

I also welcome any comments on the blurb for the back of the book:

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Can she face her demons and survive?


Friday, 1 September 2017

Bias And Politics In Books

A while ago I read this (verbatim) comment in a discussion forum about writing:

"I don't like when an author injects their agenda into a book. If I want to read a political opinion, religious argument, IdealogicalX feminist, LGBT or race related diatribe, I'll buy a book on the subject and willfully seek the author's voice on the subject. But I don't like when an author uses geurilla tactics to sneak their argument for their agenda into a work of fiction that is being marketed as genre fiction. i have read a lot of stephen king, richard laymon, dean koontz. They all have opinions about thinks, if you follow stephen king on twitter, he is more of a political commentator than a fiction author. But, his personal agenda is never shoved on the reader in his published work."

I pointed out that all authors have viewpoints, and it's impossible to separate them from the book. Everything's political - everything we do, everything we buy, everything we believe. Politics is not just about the rare times we get to vote on a limited number of choices that may be equally bad; politics is about everyday values and how they are expressed by our actions. They are all the life choices we think are "best", with the implicit understanding that we think other people should agree with us, or follow our example.

Obviously any plot elements in a story should be relevant to the plot, but what's excluded from a book - or not mentioned in it - is as telling as what's included. The books that, at first glance, seem "least political" are often those with the most entrenched biases; it's just that they're the mainstream biases, so most people who accept them don't see them as "politics". The book that seems to be about a young woman finding happiness through a combination of shopping for brand names, finding a man to love her, and settling down to have a baby? That's as political as anything else, even though many people won't read it that way.

To take another example: if an author has a lot of main characters who feature/seek monogamous (heterosexual) relationships and marriage as part of their stories, then that won't be an issue for someone into monogamous (heterosexual) relationships and marriage, but might feel like politics being rammed down the throat of someone who doesn't believe in those things, who might be asking "Why are they injecting their agenda into the stories? They could have included anything in the world, but this was their choice?" My point is that there is always another side to it.

I usually feel the best approach isn't to take offence (which is fanning flames of negativity within oneself, then projecting it outwards), but to think "It's not for me, but I'm glad there's variety, and something for everyone" and just move on. Part of the challenge of being a reader is to find authors you're happy with (style and content); those you're not happy with aren't necessarily bad books though.

Obviously it's different if you buy a book and don't enjoy it, since you have spent some time and money for little gain, but that's always a risk with any purchase. :-)

I have come to accept that the viewpoints of many authors are opposed to my own in many areas, just as the viewpoints of the random man on the street may be opposed. We just have to be aware that the values adopted by mainstream culture are just as much of an agenda as any other, even when we agree with them.

Am I right? Or am I misguided fool? I'm sure you'll tell me either way.


Monday, 21 August 2017

Cold Fusion 2000 - Updated Edition

It's here! Cold Fusion 2000 has a new edition. New publisher, new ISBNs, new blurb, new interior formatting, new distributors, and a new cover. There have also been small tweaks to the story itself: occasional strengthening of themes or recurring images, and another buff of polish to the language.

The biggest change is that I made Alex a year younger, and Natalie a year older, since a few readers thought the age gap was too much - yes, I do pay attention to what my readers say! Also, if you have read 2000 Tunes and wondered what happened to Mark’s Kangol hat after Denny threw it in the river – the new version of Cold Fusion 2000 answers that.

I love this new edition, and hopefully 2000 Tunes will be updated to match in early 2018, at which point there will also be a collected e-book edition of both books (as happened with my bestselling horror anthology). If you've already got Cold Fusion 2000 then there's no need to buy the new edition, since 99% of the content is the same. Save your pennies for something else. :-)

Oh, the e-book is also on special at the moment - $1.99 instead of $3.99.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Two New Audiobooks: They Move Below, And Turner

They Move Below and Turner are now available as audiobooks, joining Harvest Festival. Both have great narrator/producers: Rosie Alldred for They Move Below (Rosie also narrated Harvest Festival), and Tom Freeman for Turner (Tom seemed to really relish playing Lord John!)

You can buy all my books here, but these are quick links for the audiobook versions:
Some comments on the stories:


"Like all of Karl’s other work I’ve read, the writing is excellent. [...] each tale is unique, some horrific, and all leave the reader’s imagination run wild."
-- Banshee Irish Horror Blog

"They Move Below is a collection of 16 short stories and contains some of the creepiest tales I've read in a long time. [...] an absolutely excellent collection and one I would definitely recommend. [...] I gave this book 5 stars."
-- Life of a Nerdish Mum

"creepy short stories that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing, holding your breath and listening out for things that go bump in the night. [...] the majority of them left me creeped out and back to how I felt back in the days when I first read horror."
-- So Many Books, So Little Time

"Karl Drinkwater has expertly ended several of the stories with great handfuls of doubt, leaving you guessing and drawing your own conclusions. I thoroughly enjoyed this approach, especially as it makes you think and consider what you have just read before moving onto the next story."
-- damppebbles

"They Move Below is a magnificent collection of stories. [...] What impressed me so much about They Move Below, however, is the quality of Karl Drinkwater’s prose. He writes with considerable sophistication and an almost urbane style that is so pleasurable to read. I also enjoyed the variety of the stories, with the different voices and perspectives. There’s such a range of presentational devices that They Move Below has something for every reader."
-- Linda's Book Bag

"Mr Drinkwater has a delightfully warped imagination."
-- Grab This Book


"I loved the isolated Welsh setting and the overall atmosphere of the village. The village reminded me of Summer Isle in the classic horror  film, The Wicker Man. [...] Turner would make an excellent horror film, with its twists and turns and constant action. [...] Like Harvest Festival, tension builds steadily throughout the book to a horrific and shocking ending."
-- Banshee Irish Horror Blog

"Turner is one fast paced, horror slasher of a read, that had me turning the pages at breakneck speed. To be honest I was thoroughly creeped out while reading this book. [...] This novel worked so well for me because of these characters. They were hugely believable and fully drawn."
-- Brew and Books Review

"I was really surprised and delighted by this wee book [...] I read it in one night. [...] The book reminded me of many, many horror movies that I have loved growing up."
-- So Many Books, So Little Time


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - The Promo Was A Success

I was #1 in a UK horror chart

This week I ran a special offer on my horror collection (which contains three terrifying books), reducing the price from $5.99 to $0.99 and promoting the deal in lots of places. Well, it was successful. :-)

I sold over 1,204 copies of Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection in the week. Wow.

Amazon UK

I also saw some big moves in Amazon rankings.

Amazon US horror charts

Amazon US

Just seeing my book get to #1 in one of the Amazon charts (this was occult horror, UK) was a proud moment; also it got to 13 in the Amazon US all-horror chart, putting it above some of my horror heroes.

One of the places I promoted the deal - I was listed first in this email

I want to thank those of you who have been supporting my writing, especially my horror stuff (which I write when I've had enough of writing books about super-geek man-babies). It's your support that keeps me going.

[Update, 12th August 2017: In the end, I sold over 1500 copies in one week.]


Monday, 31 July 2017

Karl Drinkwater’s Horror Collection - Special Offer

Special offer from now until 8th August: my Horror Collection (e-book) is $0.99 instead of $5.99. (Bought separately, the three books would cost c.$9.)

Yep, you get my full horror collection, all three titles, for $0.99! Turner, They Move Below, and Harvest Festival.

Buy it here.

Please share the news of this bargain. It's worth taking a chance, even if you don't normally read horror.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

200,000 Visits To This Site

Numbers can be arbitrary, but it is still nice to celebrate passing milestones. I have just had my 200,000th visit to this site. Since I became a full-time writer I've seen more and more visitors. All are welcome to step into the light.

This is an exciting year for me. I continue with the author's mandate of getting words down (and accepting that they'll be a mix of crap, average, and brilliant, and that the hard work is cutting out all but the brilliant ones).

I have quite a lot of projects on the go.
  • The audiobooks of They Move Below and Turner have finished production and will be available soon. Both have great narrators, and I'm glad Harvest Festival will have some companions.
  • Cold Fusion 2000 is getting a new edition (and then I'll work on a new edition of 2000 Tunes to match it).
  • In NaNoWriMo 2016 I wrote a collection of literary short stories - all about life and relationships and love of various kinds. I can't help being a bit dark so it includes a creepy one about a couple stuck on a desert island that gets covered in water every twenty-four hours. You can only survive by standing on the highest point (which is still underwater). I already had about 70,000 words of short stories written, so that's about 130,000 total. Rather than two average collections, I'm going to be ruthless and work with my editor to identify the best, and just nuke the others, so that one strong collection remains standing. I think it's always the case that in any good book many words will have been discarded along the way, maybe even as many as the final word count. Discarded words still count towards the million we have to write to learn the craft though. 🙂
  • Then my most exciting project (that has temporarily put the project above on hold) - at the end of NaNoWriMo I needed to write a few thousand more words. But I'd already written every relationship story I had planned! So I decided to have fun and write a short sci-fi horror to take me over the goal line. But then I really got into the story, and kept building in new twists. Before I knew it NaNoWriMo was long gone and I was still writing every day. 3,000 words about a man on a spaceship became 50,000 words about a woman on a spaceship (in a type of power armour, backed up by a goddess-level AI), with wider themes and more twists and side-story. I had such fun writing it, and I think it tells in the story. I was never stuck or bored, for the first time ever. So instead of the literary collection being my priority, it became this, and it is now almost ready for the final proofread and publication. Kind of Aliens crossed with Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider crossed with military sci-fi and Event Horizon with a hint of Space Hulk. I had a science expert (non-fiction science author) look over it to do fact checking, and it was all fine apart from needing to change a brown dwarf to a neutron star. I was a bit sad about that because I like brown dwarf stars (some of them are cool enough that you could rest your hand on the surface and not get burnt) but otherwise he said it was good to go, even if some parts of it "felt like I was playing a computer game". I took that as a compliment.
  • After all that is done I'll start a whole new project. Possibly a sequel to one of my books, or something nutso, or maybe a whole new world and story and characters. It's important for writers to be excited by what they are doing, so that it bleeds onto the page.
Thank you for being with me on my journey so far. It's really going places (outer space, for one!)


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My Own A-to-Z Of Twitter

Recently I was honoured to be included in An A-to-Z Of Indie over on Twitter. I decided it was time to repay the favour, and have been building up my own Twitter A-to-Z of thanks and appreciation for the last two weeks. You'll find all the posts here (in reverse chronological order - Twitter doesn't do chronological).

I still have a few days to go, but here's the text from the messages I've sent so far (and I'll update it as I continue). You'll need to go to Twitter to see the gifs, but I've made their Twitter handles hyperlinks to their accounts so you can easily follow these cool people. :-)


It's time for me to pay it forward and promote accounts on Twitter that mean something to me. One a day, A to Z. #AtoZKD2017

Many accounts to follow. People to send good wishes to. Sharing is always a fun thing. #AtoZKD2017

And the first one is ... #AtoZKD2017

A is for ...

A is for @AlteredInstinct for giving me this idea. See #AtoZofIndie for the inspiration and kindness. #AtoZKD2017

I was featured by @AlteredInstinct as the letter D, which made my day. … #AtoZKD2017

Also, @AlteredInstinct wrote this fantastic review of my horror collection: … #AtoZKD2017

My favourite part of the @AlteredInstinct review was this final bit shown in the image. #AtoZKD2017

So thank you very much @AlteredInstinct for being first in my #AtoZKD2017

An addendum to A is the author Sarah Anderson @sea_author who is also a whizz with graphics. #AtoZKD2017

@sea_author recently read one of my books and earned gold stars for posting photos of it in the wild. #AtoZKD2017

And her review made me smile "I don't think I've ever read horror like this!" #AtoZKD2017

So thanks, @sea_author :-) #AtoZKD2017

B is for ...

And next up ... B is for @Book_Connectors #BookConnectors (set up by the wonderful @annecater) #AtoZKD2017

@Book_Connectors is a community of authors and bloggers, brought together due to the sheer love of books and words. #AtoZKD2017

Many of my blogging and reviewer friends (some of which I'll feature later in the series) were met through @Book_Connectors :-) #AtoZKD2017

So thank you @Book_Connectors #BookConnectors @annecater for all you do for authors and readers! #AtoZKD2017

While I am on the letter B, there is also the multi-talented @MsBessieBell - singer, author, musician, designer, editor #AtoZKD2017

I love the strong branding of her books, and the content:
Thanks for being an example @MsBessieBell #AtoZKD2017

I have one more letter B: @Bbrilliantbooks
So much enthusiasm, the Best Newcomer Award at #bloggersbash2017 was well-deserved. #AtoZKD2017

@Bbrilliantbooks Abbie also interviewed me last year on her blog, about my author influences #AtoZKD2017
Thank you!

C is for ...

C is for horror fan The Corpse Bride @noelle_kelly and her wonderful blog #AtoZKD2017

I met @noelle_kelly at a Facebook party to launch They Move Below
She was a super guest/horror expert! #AtoZKD2017

@noelle_kelly has also been a huge fan of my work, reading and reviewing all my horror books so far #AtoZKD2017

So a heartfelt thanks to Ireland's amazing @noelle_kelly
Check out her blog, follow her on Twitter. :-) #AtoZKD2017

D is for ...

D is for @emdehaney who shares lines from her works-in-progress as little snippets of glitter strewn across my Twitter feed. #AtoZKD2017

D is also for DISTRIBUTORS, who get books from authors and publishers to the readers and fans. #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @Smashwords who paved the way in this area, and have a wonderful DRM-free stance. #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @pronoun who have many useful tools and who give their help staff the title of "Author Happiness Advocate" #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @IngramSpark for their extensive print distribution network #AtoZKD2017

Distributors include @AmazonKDP and @CreateSpace for making things easy for authors #AtoZKD2017

Thanks to all the distributors helping authors and publishers! #AtoZKD2017

E is for ...

E is for @JanetEmson who writes knowledgeably about books at #AtoZKD2017

@JanetEmson kindly let me appear on her site to talk about the beauty of #shortstories

So thank you @JanetEmson for all you do to promote good books! #AtoZKD2017

For E I also want to shout out to my friend and fellow author KY Eden @redcroftjournal #AtoZKD2017

Find out more about her @redcroftjournal books at #AtoZKD2017

F is for ...

Today I change things slightly. Instead of a person, F is for ... Fonts! #AtoZKD2017

There are lots of fonts at and for many it is their first place to visit. #AtoZKD2017

But because many are free, the same DaFont fonts get re-used again and again on things like book covers. #AtoZKD2017

I even recognise some of the fonts on genre covers as being "X from DaFont, again" - it ruins the professionalism. #AtoZKD2017

A better option is @fontbundlesnet - many professional fonts, reasonably priced, often in value bundles. #AtoZKD2017

@fontbundlesnet also regularly gives away lovely fonts - Thank you @fontbundlesnet! #AtoZKD2017

Another great font option is @CreativeMarket #AtoZKD2017

@CreativeMarket have much more than fonts - they sell many lovely design elements at #AtoZKD2017

And @CreativeMarket even give away some things every Monday! #AtoZKD2017
Thank you @CreativeMarket!

G is for ...

G is for @grabthisbook and Gordon. He reviews tirelessly at #AtoZKD2017

@grabthisbook reviewed the first edition of my sci-fi horror, Harvest Festival #AtoZKD2017

And @grabthisbook reviewed my horror short stories, They Move Below: "Mr Drinkwater has a delightfully warped imagination" #AtoZKD2017

@grabthisbook also interviewed me, and I revealed a true spooky event I'd experienced #AtoZKD2017

So go and follow @grabthisbook and browse the reviews on his site. Thank you @grabthisbook! #AtoZKD2017

I'm not quite done with G. G is also for @JaySpencerGreen - my first philosophy lecturer #AtoZKD2017

The philosophy course he taught inspired me to do Classics at university, which I loved so much I got a first #AtoZKD2017

And by a strange twist, after various careers, we both ended up as authors twenty years later! #AtoZKD2017

So many thanks @JaySpencerGreen (who once had a comedy stage name of Derek Saliva - "The name on everybody's lips") #AtoZKD2017

H is for ...

H is for ... Helen Treharne @Tea_Talks! #AtoZKD2017

I met her when I contributed to her Facebook party to launch Book 2 in her Sophie Morgan Vampire Series #AtoZKD2017

You'll find her site at
Thanks for introducing me to Facebook launch parties, Helen!

H is also for @ShaunEHorton #AtoZKD2017

The connection between my two H friends is that both Shaun and @Tea_Talks helped my own Facebook launch! #AtoZKD2017

Amongst other things, Shaun has written a series of fun blog posts about cryptids #AtoZKD2017
Thanks, Shaun!

I is for ...

I is for independent! Specifically, @IndieAuthorALLI
They do a great job supporting independent authors. #AtoZKD2017

It doesn't matter how a book gets to the readers' hands. Trade-published, small pub, hybrid, indie - as long as the book is good #AtoZKD2017

As long as the author wrote the story they were passionate about; as long as it burns in the minds of the readers. #AtoZKD2017

An author can transfer rights to a for-profit publisher, who will deal with some of the editing, design, and marketing ... #AtoZKD2017

... or an author can keep all the rights, and hire professionals to deal with editing, design, and marketing. #AtoZKD2017

I wrote a lot more about publishing options at and #AtoZKD2017

Thank you @IndieAuthorALLI & all orgs that support authors, including distributors (D in my AtoZ) #AtoZKD2017

J is for ...

J is for @julie_cohen, the well-respected and versatile author - and helper of other authors #AtoZKD2017

I've attended a great course by Julie and @rowancoleman (they often run retreats, well worth going) #AtoZKD2017

Julie also advised me on various works: of TMB she said "I was scared shitless and loved every minute" #AtoZKD2017

Julie's advice is invaluable. She is supportive of the good parts of your writing, and lets you know when you've nailed it ... #AtoZKD2017

... and she is 100% honest when she tells me off for "long-ass paragraphs" or not being concrete enough, or killing space aliens #AtoZKD2017

Julie is awesome. Read her books
Thank you, Julie! #AtoZKD2017

Another J is multi-genre author @JennyKaneAuthor #AtoZKD2017

Jenny was kind enough to interview me about my "Manchester 2000" books #AtoZKD2017

Jenny's a great writer, her site is
And although I don't celebrate birthdays, it is hers today. :-) #AtoZKD2017

One more J! I've covered two authors, but want to include an excellent book blog as well. J for Jera's Jamboree! @shazgoodwin #AtoZKD2017

You'll find Shaz's site at - Shaz is one of my many #bookbloggers #bookconnectors friends #AtoZKD2017

There was a lovely review of my novella Harvest Festival at #AtoZKD2017

I was proud to be included in "5 Halloween Reads to make you shiver" with
@naominovik @Thomas_Novelist #AtoZKD2017

So many thanks to @shazgoodwin for all you do for authors and readers! #AtoZKD2017

K is for ...

K is for @AmyKitcher! I've been waiting for a while to do this one. :-) #AtoZKD2017

Amy is both a talented writer, and someone who works tirelessly promoting the quality writing of other authors #AtoZKD2017

Amy's also a lovely person who extends her interest and compassion way beyond her local surroundings. #AtoZKD2017

Amy was kind enough to read and review my non-horror books and #AtoZKD2017

So thank you Amy, for all that you do, and for joining my group of lovely friends! :-) #AtoZKD2017

I was out and about yesterday, so didn't finish K! K is also for @susiekearley, friend of guinea pigs and wildlife! :-) #AtoZKD2017

L is for ...

Time for today's AtoZ. L is for ... lots of ladies with L names. #AtoZKD2017

First up is @stimsonink, author of Redwood, a gothic horror novel. She's one to watch. #AtoZKD2017

LB was also kind enough to review Harvest Festival.
Many thanks! :-) #AtoZKD2017

My second L today is @leonora_meriel, a talented author: I've read her second novel, The Unity Game, & will write a review soon #AtoZKD2017

I think Leonora is getting married today, so the timing is good - congratulations, hope you'll be very happy in your unity game! #AtoZKD2017

As an aside I made tiny edits for LB&Leonora in the past, though both write well, check out their work! #AtoZKD2017

My third L is @LittleMemoirs - Becca was one of the first of many lovely #bookbloggers to support my work by reviewing it #AtoZKD2017

"A hugely inspiring novel that I adored from start to finish."
Thank you for your review, Becca! #AtoZKD2017

My fourth L: writer, editor, lecturer Barrie Llewelyn @Arleta1. Amongst other things, she put together #AtoZKD2017

I got to meet her at the collection's launch in Cardiff
Many thanks for all you do for writers, Barrie! #AtoZKD2017

My fifth and final L today is @Lindahill50Hill, respected bookblogger extraordinaire. #AtoZKD2017

Linda doesn't read horror so I had fun with her challenge: persuading her to read one of my scary books! #AtoZKD2017

Thank you Linda, for being so enthusiastic about books, helping authors, helping readers! #AtoZKD2017

M is for ...

M is for E M McIntyre @finlayforever, a fellow author who is incredibly supportive of other writers. #AtoZKD2017

Her books are really well-received - see and #AtoZKD2017

She's also said lovely things about my horror books: #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks @finlayforever! #AtoZKD2017

M is also for Kirsten McKenzie @Kiwimrsmac, another author and friend of mine. #AtoZKD2017

Her latest novel, Painted, is doing really well and looks like a great read for horror fans #AtoZKD2017

Keep on creating, Kirsten! #AtoZKD2017

One more M! @MarkG_Author who seems tireless in his writing and sharing of useful and interesting information. #AtoZKD2017

He's written a lot - check out his latest series of books - #AtoZKD2017

So I recommend keeping up with all that Mark does! #AtoZKD2017

N is for ...

N is for @NerdishMum, who is one of the friendliest and most supportive #bookbloggers I've ever encountered #AtoZKD2017

NerdishMum interviewed me on my first blog tour and has reviewed all my horror books! #AtoZKD2017

For her review at I created an interactive version of one of my stories #AtoZKD2017

Visit her excellent blog at which is packed with reviews and author interviews. Thank you, Helen! #AtoZKD2017

While talking about N for @NerdishMum, I was reminded of a book reviewer who introduced me to the term "nerdfighter": @Charli952 #AtoZKD2017

Charlotte is the only person who has reviewed one of my books on video: special kudos for that #AtoZKD2017

I was on holiday (though also editing a book!) when I saw her review, and it was the best thing about the day. Thanks Charlotte! #AtoZKD2017

O is for ...

O is for @OrnaRoss - famous author, but also tireless defender and supporter of other authors #AtoZKD2017

Amongst many other things, Orna founded @IndieAuthorALLI #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks for all you do, Orna! #AtoZKD2017

P is for ...

P is for Pete Kahle @HorriblePete: horror author, fan, supporter, and more #AtoZKD2017

Pete was kind enough to review one of my books too :-) #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks, Pete, and best wishes for the future! #AtoZKD2017

I've linked to a lot of fellow authors, but P is also for @PatriDuarte, because our readers and supporters keep us going #AtoZKD2017

Patricia reminds me that I have fans and well-wishers in other countries than the UK and US. :-) Muchas gracias, Patricia! #AtoZKD2017

Q is for ...

Q is for @TheQuietKnitter. Kate was a "hidden gem" at the 2017 Bloggers' Bash Award (which honoured many of my blogger friends) #AtoZKD2017

Kate is based in the most Scottish of countries and has an excellent book blog at #AtoZKD2017

And no, Kate hasn't reviewed my books or been on my blog tour. :-) I'm just praising cool book people. #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks for being in my #AtoZKD2017, Kate!

R is for ...

It's been a few days (I was in Scotland), but I'm back, and R is for ... Redman @SavannaRedman #AtoZKD2017

Savanna's creative with colours, words and images, and I really like her style. She has a new website at #AtoZKD2017

She was kind enough to review one of my books #AtoZKD2017

Her Goddess Colorizing Journal would make a great present, and shows how creative she is #AtoZKD2017

So have a look at Savanna's work! I'm glad she's one of my kind and thoughtful friends. #AtoZKD2017

S is for ...

S is for @smbslt - So Many Books, So Little Time! A Scottish super-book-blogger. Visit her site #AtoZKD2017

Lainy reviewed They Move Below: "Drinkwater has the knack of creating a tense and terrifying atmosphere" #AtoZKD2017

She also reviewed Turner: "[At] one part near the end of the story, I actually whooped out loud!" #AtoZKD2017

So thanks, Lainy! Everyone follow @smbslt, aye! :-) #AtoZKD2017

S is also for @sarahhardy681 who I met via her book blog, but who is also an inspiring book publicist. #AtoZKD2017

Sarah was kind enough to review the first edition of Harvest Festival: "had me on the edge of my seat" #AtoZKD2017

Thanks for everything you do, Sarah! #bookbloggers #AtoZKD2017

T is for ...

T is for @TheBehrg: fellow author, musician, and cool guy. #AtoZKD2017

He blew me away with his novel Housebroken: "I don't feel like there's a word wasted in this story" #AtoZKD2017

There are some high-quality freebie samples of his work if you sign up to his friendly newsletter at #AtoZKD2017

Brandon also enjoyed Harvest Festival: "the fluff stripped away, leaving only a rip-roaring story" #AtoZKD2017

So many thanks to @TheBehrg for inspiring people, writing great prose, and supporting other authors. #AtoZKD2017

U is for ...

U is for ... erm, U is for ... Ups. Unprepared. Unusable letter. #AtoZKD2017

U is for ... Urth. (Groan!)
I follow Life on Earth @planetepics to have nice things in my feed. Thanks for brightening my days! #AtoZKD2017

V is for ...

V is for @VictoriaGoldma2, awesome #bookblogger - see #AtoZKD2017

If you want great recommendations for crime, psychological thrillers, historical fiction and women's fiction, follow her! #AtoZKD2017

V is also for @vegancakery
I'm vegan, I like cakes, and theirs were gorgeous.
Nom. Thank you for the cakes.

I have no X, Y or Z, so I am nearly finished with my #AtoZKD2017
It is really AtoWKD2017, but I didn't realise that when I started. /fail

W is for ...

W is for for three women. First is Jo Worgan @mummyworgan, Brew and Books reviewer. #AtoZKD2017

Jo tried Turner "one fast paced, horror slasher of a read, that had me turning pages at breakneck speed" #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks for your support, Jo! I love it when people try horror and surprise themselves by enjoying it! :-) #AtoZKD2017

W is also for Emma Welton @damppebbles, another super #bookblogger #AtoZKD2017

Emma was an early supporter of TheyMoveBelow; I also wrote about depression in a guest post on her site #AtoZKD2017

Many thanks, Emma! #AtoZKD2017

W is also for Hayley Webster @bookshaped, who wrote the excellent and memorable novel Jar Baby #AtoZKD2017
Thanks, Hayley!

And so ends #AtoZKD2017.
I was kind, never mean.
Although tweets each day were hell,
There's an archive at this URL.