Harvest Festival - The Audiobook!

Ready just in time for Halloween, the tense horror novella Harvest Festival is now also available as an audiobook. I was phenomenally lucky to persuade Rosie Alldred to be the producer and narrator. - Rosie performed several voices in the award-winning Bioware video game Dragon Age Inquisition. She has a great voice, and I'm super-impressed at how she deals with the different characters and the changes in tempo as the action ramps up. I couldn't be more pleased with the final result! I've listened to it twice already, and still want to put it on again at bedtime. If you haven't read it yet, it's a tense story set on a Welsh hillside farm: something unwelcome arrives in the night and the farmer, Callum, has to go to extreme lengths to keep his family alive. Along the way the family dynamics change. Sometimes it takes a shock to restart a heart.

You can buy all my books here, but these are quick links for the audiobook version:
If it is successful then there will be more audiobooks in the future!


Quotes And Pics - Promo Images

Recently I've been combining quotes (from my books) with images, as a kind of mini-advert. Here are some of those I've created so far.

Creeping Jesus, one of the stories in They Move Below


My Films For Halloween

I do like to get my Halloween freak on. It's pretty much the only thing I celebrate (no birthdays, no Christmas, no Easter, no olympics). One of the things I do is watch horror films in the days leading up to Halloween. These are the ones I've picked this year. What will you be watching?

I've yet to choose my Halloween book, but with my heaving shelves I'm spoilt for choice. Maybe the 1979 novelisation of Alien by Alan Dean Foster, or a re-read of The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971).

Updates (22nd October). So far I have watched:

The Falling: not a great choice, since it wasn't really horror, just a drama about neurotic schoolgirls. I kept expecting horror to kick in, but despite playing with horror tropes (witchcraft, madness, discipline, ghosts) they were all pretty weakly portrayed, before being cast aside as ornament. I'd heard of it from Rolling Stone's 10 Best Horror Movies of 2015. That's the problem - it set up incorrect expectations. If I had just expected drama I'd have been fine.

Goodnight Mommy: a great horror film, clever and restrained and well acted and worthy of wider attention ... but I had to stop watching before the end. That's not like me, but I was unable to continue, having already covered my eyes for part of it. It's possibly the first time that has happened to me in a horror film! Still, if you want to see something horrible without it being overly gratuitous (so the opposite end of the spectrum from Hostel) then I would recommend this. Especially if you're tougher than me!

Update (27th October). Last night watched The Visit. It was well acted (especially by the Nana actress) and entertaining. I think that's the key difference from Goodnight Mommy. I'd say Goodnight Mommy is the better film artistically, but it isn't pleasurable to watch; The Visit entertains and makes you jump a lot more, but also has less lasting impact because it opts for a typical Hollywood happy ending. It often seems to be a difference between European films (Goodnight Mommy is Austrian) which can be bleak and unsettling in a way that feels all too real; and US films, which often resolve the status quo and have a "happy" ending via stabbing and skull-crushing anyone who dares to interfere with family life. At which point there can be smiles and comedy rapping. Don't let that sound too negative or put you off: The Visit did exactly what I wanted and had some great scenes. Even the derivative ones were well done, with good use of sound, and I thoroughly recommend watching The Visit; this is something I can't do with Goodnight Mommy despite how powerful the latter is. Oh, I'd read that The Visit has a twist, but I suspected it 22 minutes into the film, and spent the rest of the time wondering what the real twist would be: nope, I had guessed correctly. To be fair, that's not a fault of the film, which works well: it's probably down to the fact that I'm a writer, so always ask why each details of a book or film has been placed there, and try to unravel the implications. Yeah, sucks to be me, when I can't just enjoy something without analysing it! The Visit gets a thumbs up.

Update (6th November). I've now seen all the films.

What We Do In The Shadows: very funny, I laughed out loud - a lot! I'm a huge fan of Flight Of The Conchords anyway.

Spring: lovely photography, and a nice slow-brew menace to it, but which resolved into a love film more than a horror film. I have no problem with that, though maybe the final bits went on a teeny bit too long. Still, I enjoyed this and would recommend it.

And that's my Halloween films over and done with!


What Should You Buy For The Ghoul Who Has Everything?


I mentioned my new horror/thriller book covers recently. Here's what they look like in print! One of them would make a cool present for that person you're friends with ... you know the one, thingummy ... oh, your lover, is it? ... or, maybe they're a relative of yours rather than a friend? ... whatsername ... whatsisname ... yeah, that's the one! Anyway, I'm sure they'd love a copy. Dead sure. Especially as one of the books is a recommended Halloween read.

You can buy them almost anywhere.


5 Halloween Reads To Make You Shiver

Today Harvest Festival was featured in 5 Halloween Reads To Make You Shiver (from Jera's Jamboree). I'm honoured!

What other books should we read at Halloween?

What Books Influenced Me?

Today I crawled out of bed, tired from a night of fighting aliens, dodging chainsaws, and seeking public approval (or just book sales), to find I'd popped up on another great blog. Visit Bloomin' Brilliant Books to find out what books influenced me, then stay on Abbie's site a while for all the other great articles and reviews. See you there.
Here's a backup of the post.

I’m thrilled to be joined by author Karl Drinkwater today who is telling us all about his author influences.

KD pic[320739]

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and any ghost stories (especially the Armada Ghost Books edited by Mary Danby). I would climb the weeping willow to read the latter. I also adored Harry Cat’s Pet Puppy (George Selden, 1975). I remember crying at the end of it. I really should read it again one day, and buy copies for presents.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved it. I made up stories from an early age, read continuously, and always came top in English classes. It was the only subject I did well in at secondary school, and I often contributed fiction and poems to the school magazine, Urmstonian. Though I cringe when I re-read them now.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read horror books for escapism and literary books for style. I write in both genres so that works out well.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Well, I write in two genres already, which is seen by many as a no-no. Though some of my work mixes the two, so maybe the twain shall meet.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think the pure readability of Stephen King and Dean Koontz inspired me a lot in my teenage years when I spent all my pocket money on their novels. I wanted to be able to write books where the reader forgets it is a book. Some of my thriller/horror works have been compared to Koontz, and the more character-based stories to King, so maybe a teeny bit of their magic rubbed off. One of the short stories in my last collection was called Just Telling Stories and was a mini-homage to some of the creepy tales that seasoned my imagination.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Strangely, no, not any more. I tend to enjoy individual books – even when I really enjoy one it doesn’t mean I’ll always seek out other works by that author. If you think about it, any author who writes a lot has two options. One is to keep writing to the template that made them famous, because it sells and it is what readers expect. Downside: the books become increasingly familiar and predictable. The effect is diluted. The other option is for the author to try new things. Downside: they may annoy fans by not fulfilling their expectations. If every book is different there’s no guarantee that every book is good. Either way, I try to read great books regardless of who wrote them, rather than follow just one author. I enjoy trying new things in my own writing, so have created novels about finding love in Manchester, and about being chased across a Welsh island by murderers; stories about haunted museums, and about a child trying to show love to a parent whatever the cost. One end of the spectrum to the other.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The opening to The Descent by Jeff Long wowed me. I couldn’t understand how he’d achieved such a gripping effect. The whole book was good but couldn’t match the ever-so-subtle menace of the opening, stuck in an icy cave in mountains during a storm.
Sometimes books that take an escalating concept and just push it to its max can amaze me in the way they achieve the effect. For example Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, or the wildness of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (lovely cover and book design on that one too).

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I joke that my two Manchester novels, Cold Fusion 2000 and 2000 Tunes explain how I came to leave Manchester (they are set around the time that I moved from there to Wales). I say no more.

image001[320740]TurnerThey Move Below

About Karl Drinkwater
Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but has lived in Wales for nearly twenty years, ever since he went there to do a degree: it was easier to stay than to catch a train back. His longest career was in librarianship (twenty-five years); his shortest was industrial welding (one week).
Sometimes he writes about life and love; sometimes death and decay. He usually flips a coin in the morning, or checks the weather, and decides based on that. His aim is to tell a good story, regardless of genre. When he is not writing or editing he loves exercise, guitars, computer games, board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice and zombies.

Amazon Author Page

A huge thank you to Karl for taking part!


Close To Home

Today I'm the first guest for the new "Close To Home" blog post series on the lovely book blog jaffreadstoo. In the series different authors from The North (of England) will talk about "what being a Northerner means to them both in terms of inspiration and also in their writing". Find out why I kept an axe under my pillow, and what advice was given to pretentious people round my way.

Here's a backup of the post.

Today please welcome Manchester Author
Karl Drinkwater

Is a person shaped by the place they grew up? If so, and assuming writers count as people (a truth not universally acknowledged), then we’re bound to find out more about a writer when we look at their past. Even a random sample of dates could be informative.

I usually talk about my early childhood. But let’s start later than that. What about my teenage years? Two memories spring to mind.

1. I was the non-conformist class comedian rebelling against authority at Urmston Grammar School. It was a boy’s school so I didn’t know anything about girls until I first fell in love at 16. Maybe that’s why I write about relationships a lot now.

2. After my father died it made me the man of the house. I kept a hatchet under my pillow, something school friends didn’t believe until I showed them. I explained that if a burglar tried to climb into mine or my sister’s bedrooms I’d cut his fingers off. Maybe that’s why I write about darkness a lot now.

That’s me, I’m just like everyone else: half romantic, half obsessed with apocalyptic survival. It’s a comfortable mix. But maybe my teenage years explain why I write in two genres, that thing writers are told they MUST NEVER DO. (Oh, I sometimes got in trouble at school, so you can add rule-breaker to that list. Only got caned once though.)

Although my thriller/horror writing gets most publicity (Turner, Harvest Festival, They Move Below), my last two literary novels were set in Manchester in the year 2000, often around the city centre. They’re Cold Fusion 2000 and 2000 Tunes, and I see them as love letters to Manchester: its music, its city, its people, whilst also being critical of some aspects. And they’re also more traditional love stories, after a fashion, about nerds and difficult people being able to find love and happiness and contentment. Shades of my own life sneaking in there again – impossible to separate the work from the worker.


The novels are concerned with place and how it shapes us, particularly in 2000 Tunes where the character of Mark gradually perceives the city of Manchester as switching from being a supportive home to being a prison of memory and lost glory. Only the promise of a new place can offer the chance to change behaviours and start again.

Both novels have many scenes set in the city centre (as it existed in 2000): often the same places and themes, but with different outcomes. Cold Fusion 2000 can be particularly tricksy. It was fun for me as a writer to play with reader expectations and assumptions, even if the ending comes as a surprise that requires re-evaluating what went before. That plot twist is an exception: I normally think of these two literary novels as being more character- and theme-focussed than plot-focussed, which makes it too measured for some readers, but compellingly believable for others.

Manchester is the home of many social movements. It’s where The Vegetarian Society started. I liked that radical and questioning side to it (and went vegan when I was at South Trafford College). I also loved the frequently down-to-earth nature of the people, at least where I lived. If you had any pretensions you were told to “shove them up yer arse”. It prevented you getting too big for your boots.

Obviously there are downsides to the city – like everywhere else, we’re seeing loss of green spaces, litter, urban blight. The little green park in Urmston where I used to sit in and eat my lunch got turned into a two-storey car park. The field I walked past on my way to work is now covered in houses. Piccadilly Gardens was once all flowers and bushes; it got concreted over; then they eventually stuck a token bit of turf on top of that (along with extra concrete walls to make it look like a prison). As a child I lived in a house by some fields; then the diggers moved in and widened the motorway until it almost touched our back garden and I had trouble sleeping (and then doing well at school) because of the continuous traffic. Independent shops replaced with supermarkets; cafes with Starbucks and Costa. Progress? The impact of globalisation, and its footprint of making everywhere the same, hits as hard in Manchester as anywhere else.

But sometimes the bad is something to rebel against. And even then, it shapes us.

©Karl Drinkwater

All photographs by kind permission

Huge thanks to Karl for kicking off my Close to Home feature and for sharing his thoughts about Manchester so eloquently.


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