Sunday, 21 December 2014

Merry Christmas and Sorry for all the bickering...

My wife, Sally, says I should post something nice. She says that, although I have a duty to state my opinion and my fears about current issues in the publishing world, the reason I found success in the first place was because I am a nice guy. Whether or not that is true, I have always maintained the philosophy that nobody likes a complainer. In the past I have followed the mantra of "If you can't post something positive, don't post anything at all."

So I apologise for the vitriolic, acrimonious statements I have been making as of late. I have been duty-bound to speak out against certain things I disagree with and to inform people of certain facts, but ultimately the only thing I have any control over is my work and my fans. I don't want to alienate the latter by being a moody goose all the time. So in the new year, I will concentrate on writing, come what may. The future scares me for many reasons, but perhaps I have had things too easy. If I have to work hard to maintain my career, then I suppose I am in the same boat as everyone else in the world. Being successful is hard and perhaps I am just now learning that.

Ignoring all the negatives, 2014 was one of the best years of my life. I had a son, Jack, who is a massive pain in the arse, but who I love dearly. Sally doesn't work for the time being, and is at home with me and Jack, which is wonderful. I love being a father and that is part of the reason I now fear so much for the future. I want to give Jack everything.

I have also made many new fans this year (which I won't name for fear of missing anyone), and if one thing makes me feel truly blessed it is them. The love and support I get daily from my fans is unbelievable and really helps motivate me to keep on going. If it all ends tomorrow, I will consider myself a success if only for the friends and fans who have enjoyed my work up until now.

I have also made many new colleagues, who again I will not mention, but it has been fun meeting and working with new authors, editors, and artists. I work with some really great people.

Next year I will be writing a sequel to Soft Target, a horror series called The Gates, and a low-fantasy series not yet named. I will also be releasing several shorter works, which the current sales-model on Amazon requires me to do. Rather than reduce the input of my longer work, however, I intend to work harder and longer to get these shorter works out in addition to my longer works. A is for Antichrist was just the first of a 26-part series and I will also write more novellas based around Redlake.

Anyway, I just want to end the year by giving you all a Merry Christmas and a huge I love you. I will see you all in the New Year. :-)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Interview with Australia's Horror Maestro, Aaron Warwick Dries...

Today I interview Australia's top Horror writer, Aaron Warwick Dries. He wrote a crazy awesome book called House of Sighs. You should all grab a copy from the link at the bottom of the page.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Aaron.
A little about myself… (*strokes chin*). Well, I’ve got the whole Bruce Wayne (sans fortune) /Batman (sans crime fighting) thing going on when it comes to my professional life. By day I work in the Aged and Disability sector, a frontline job, doing the nitty gritty. And by night I write these nasty little horror novels … in the dark. These dual paths rarely cross, and for the sanity of all involved, I think I’d like it to stay that way. I’m also an avid traveller (when I can afford it); I burn really easy in the sun (of which I have no choice); my first pet was a fish named Flipper (who committed suicide by leaping from his bowl); I’m the eldest of three boys (and I don’t let the other two forget it); and I spend way too much time wasting time (no excuses — or at least that’s what I tell myself).

Could you tell us what work you currently have available?
At the moment I’ve got three novels, a novella and a couple of short stories floating around on shelves across the world. My first novel is the award-winning HOUSE OF SIGHS, which is about a mentally disturbed bus driver who takes her passengers home with her to meet the family who drove her to insanity – grisly stuff, indeed. My second novel is THE FALLEN BOYS, a twisted psychological horror novel about a father’s journey to find out why his young son committed suicide, leading him from Australia’s sunlit streets to a rat-infested basement in the U.S. My third novel is A PLACE FOR SINNERS. And to find out what that beast is about, feel free to read on!

Tell us about your latest release.
The latest is A PLACE FOR SINNERS. It’s my great big backpacking book – a kind of evil Lonely Planet guide. Among other things, it’s about a young deaf woman trying to outrun her personal demons, running all the way to a scenic beach in Thailand, only to be confronted with … something … so much worse than her past. Ominous, enough? Basically it’s balls-to-the-wall horror, extreme, full-on, and absolutely merciless. I wanted to write a book that took the reader beyond blackness. It actually hurt to write the ending, but I had to go there. Sometimes, there are no choices.

For someone unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your writing?
I write as truthfully as I possibly can. Character always comes first with me. The only thing that doesn’t really register on my radar is mercy, which I guess is why a lot of people describe my work as brutal. Stylistically, I’m interested in the contrast between beautiful language, syntax, and rhythms vs. brutal, abrupt carnage. My words exist in that juxtaposition. There are some kind readers and reviewers out there who have described my writing as a mix of Thomas Harris meets Jack Ketchum, or William Peter Blatty meets Richard Laymon. I’m humbled by the comparisons as I’m a huge fan of all of the above authors, but I just write what comes out of my head. It’s working thus far. I hope. In essence, I like to think of myself as the ‘other kind of horror guy’. I’m never on-trend. I don’t give a shit about what’s popular. I write about what scares me, so it’s always personal. Honesty is everything — and I can’t expect a reader to hand over their hard-earned cash unless I give them a part of myself. Otherwise, what’s the point? In essence, my books are my own emotional vivisections. So come on over and see what’s on the slab. Chances are it ain’t pretty. But at least it’ll be raw, which not a lot of modern popular fiction is brave enough to be anymore.

What else do you have in the pipeline?
I’m about half-way through my new novel, titled LADY GUILOTINE. (I think) it will be the first in a projected trilogy. This one though … it’s different for me. It’s my first endeavour into supernatural horror, only it’s grounded in a reality I’ve already established, tonally, in my other works. I’m pouring all of my heart, soul, and secrets into this one. It’s the book I’ve always wanted to write, but wasn’t quite brave enough to put myself through the ordeal. Writing doesn’t come easy for me. Confronting my own past, my own losses, well, that’s even harder. It’s bleak. It’s painful. And I can’t wait for the world to experience it. It’s set in a nursing home and I know what they’re like. I know what they are like, deeply.

What writers have had the most influence on your own writing?
Like pretty much all writers, I write because I read. And there were a handful of wordsmiths who made me who I am today. I proudly stand on their shoulders. People like Robert Bloch (Psycho 2 is my favourite), Richard Matheson (whose The Incredible Shrinking Man blew me away), Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca), Stephen King (so many great titles, but the one that really shook me up was Gerald’s Game), James Herbert (The Fog taught me about just how much reading can physically hurt…) and Clive Barker (whose Imajica I’m convinced is the greatest novel ever written). These were the authors who influenced me at the time I really needed influencing. But was it not for R.L. Stine, I wouldn’t have even got into reading in the first place. Looking back, I owe a lot to that man. I’m quite proud to say that.

What was the last thing you read?
I’m one of those people who will read a couple of books at any given time. At the moment I’m re-reading Mick Garris’s Development Hell in preparation for his latest, Salome. I’m halfway through a play called Veronica’s Room by Ira Levin, which is absolutely diabolical. And I’m almost done with (fellow Australian) John Safran’s non-fiction piece, Murder In Mississippi — and that one’s got me on the edge of my seat. I’ll probably finish it up tonight.  

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
I write, direct, shoot, edit (the whole shebang) all of my book trailers, too. I worked in Video Production and television before evolving into my current role as a novelist. This is just one of my many creative outlets (I also paint and I’m an illustrator). I couldn’t have predicted the reception they’ve been gifted with, and with a lot of authors telling me I’ve set some kind of benchmark as to how they should be done. I find that incredibly humbling. I’m a huge movie fan, and cinema has influenced my writing as much as any of the above authors. And I think it shows in my fiction. HOUSE OF SIGHS is the kind of thing Peckinpah would’ve made; THE FALLEN BOYS is like a techno Lucio Fulci film, or as sweaty and anarchistic as William Friedkin; and A PLACE FOR SINNERS is David Lynch meets John Boorman.

Check out Aaron's book trailers below:

Check out Aaron's official website for the latest news:

Connect with him on Twitter here:

Get his books here:

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

My conversation with Amazon concerning Kindle Unlimited...

I just got off the phone with two people at the Amazon KDP UK office and overall I am disappointed. Not because the two people I spoke to didn't care (I'm certain they did). Not because I feel as though my voice wasn't heard (I know it was), but because I came away knowing nothing I didn't know before.

The only thing I can say about the Kindle Unlimited situation is wait and see (which is what i would have said before). One of two things is true.

1) Amazon are trying to shift sales to a model that better suits them and we will all find that conditions worsen as a result, but have no choice but to accept it as Amazon now have enough control to do as they please. This happened with the ACX royalty reduction in the Summer, but they would never get away with doing the same with KDP (as they have competition from other vendors) so they have sought a more subtle way of redirecting profit to themselves.

Or 2) Amazon created Kindle Unlimited with the best of intentions and what we are seeing right now is mere teething troubles. Things may very well be tweaked and improved soon to a point where we embrace and love the service. After my phone call with Amazon, I can genuinely say I am 50/50 on what I believe. They convinced me that Amazon is looking at unhappy authors and thinking of ways to make them happy again, but thinking about it doesn't mean anything will come to fruition.

I was told that there has been as much positive feedback about KU as there has been negative. I struggle to believe that based on what I have seen, read, and heard, but perhaps that's the truth. Perhaps we are the unlucky few who have been hurt. Maybe we just need to get with the new system and try to succeed all over again within the new framework. If that is the reality of things, then I am going to get to work climbing back to the top where I was before. Changing the game does not mean any of us are out of the game. Perhaps what we have just been through was a golden era and things are destined to settle at a lower standard of prosperity. If so, then I will quit whining and start trying to learn to play the new game and make what money there is to be made.

I wish I could tell you that Amazon assured me things would get better, but they did not. They gave me hope that Amazon is taking things seriously and will be looking at making the KU platform the best it can be, but authors may not factor into the outcome as much as profit or value to customers. I truly do not know. There is every chance that the Amazon boffins come up with a brilliant solution. We will have to see. I am sorry I have no answers.

My advice is to wait until January. Amazon will not change anything over the holidays. If things get better, then the end of January is my estimation as when they will. Wait with me and then decide. We must decide amongst ourselves what is best to do. While we have to look after our own interests, we have more power as a collective. If things are still bad in the new year, then I would ask you to seriously consider taking your books to other platforms and working against Amazon until things improve. It may hurt us in the short term, but if we do not think about the long term also and act accordingly, then we are willing lambs to the slaughter. If Amazon truly cares about authors, now is the time to show them. If we are still leaking our livelihoods away come February 2015 then I would feel safe in saying that our fears about Amazon caring only about profit are true (and perhaps obvious). We then must fight not for ourselves, but for each another. We deserve to make a living at something we are good at and that people are willing to pay for. Make sure Amazon hear your voices. If you are unhappy, complain now! If your earnings are dropping, let Amazon know now! If a new platform comes out to challenge Amazon, support it! Don't sit back and hope for the best. Get fighting. Make the effort to keep things fair. Fight for your fellow authors and yourselves.

I love Amazon, I truly do. They have had my loyalty for 4 years now, but I do not owe them my life. If they are unwilling to treat me fairly, then my loyalty will go to whoever will (maybe that's not the definition of loyalty in that case, but you get my point).

Think hard and think carefully about what you will do in the new year. When you decide, I will be ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, brother and sister. I'll always be here to fight for you.

Iain Rob Wright, December 2014