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Posts Tagged ‘Young adult horror’

Tour Stuff #1: An Evening of Ghost Stories

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Hello All

Well, I’m back from the very exhausting but VERY rewarding Haunted tour! 1,600 miles, dozens of schools, and plenty of scares later, and part of me wishes I could do it all over again! I met so many great people on my trek around the UK – brilliant booksellers, terrific teachers, stupendous students, as well as that crazily creative crew at Seven Stories (see the post below).

I could write and write about my experiences, filling paragraph after paragraph with funny stories and intriguing anecdotes, but I’ve decided to rest my typing fingers (I really need to get back to writing books!) and select nugget-size chunks of cool stuff to share.

The first is this amazing poster and tickets from my ‘Evening of Ghost Stories’ event at Lostock Hall Academy! (Click images for larger views)

Lostock Hall

Lostocj Hall

(‘An Evening of Ghost Stories’ is my brand new after-schools event, designed, in part, to get parents more involved in school life. Details of this new event can be found at my School Visits page here.)

At the kind invitation of Head of English, Mrs Butterworth, I took this new event into the wonderful Lostock Hall Academy. The school hall had been suitably decorated with spider webs, tarantulas and bats (plastic, thankfully!), and all manner of creepy accessories. The evening kicked off with an introductory speech from Mrs Butterworth welcoming parents into the school and highlighting the different activities in which the children were engaged.

Then we were treated to some particularly spine-tingling readings from the school’s ‘Community Readers.’

I was waiting in the stage’s darkened wings (the lights had been turned low in the auditorium and the shadows had gathered), listening to these courageous young people reading extracts from their favourite scary stories. We had pieces from classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, as well as exciting contemporary extracts from Darren Shan and other fresh voices in horror. I must say, these pupils read their pieces beautifully – I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to perform to a packed hall when I was their age! We were then treated to a charming and suitably haunting song from a young lady who, I believe, really ought to try out for The X Factor!

Then it was my turn at the podium. Echoing a line from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, I suggested that we were no longer sitting in Lostock Hall’s auditorium but had been transported to a ‘home by horror haunted’ and that the audience ought to keep repeating to themselves: It’s only a story, only a story, only a story…

I performed a dramatic reading from MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, then two tales from my own pen. I’m happy to report the audience screeched and jumped out of their skins in all the right places! The atmosphere was just right, with pupils from throughout the school chaperoning their nervous parents into the hall and then laughing along with them as those spooked-out mums and dads leaped out of their seats during the scary bits!

After the readings the school had organised a charity raffle. I think the best part of the evening was the community atmosphere generated by the event. It was great to see parents, pupils and teachers all brought together for the evening in an environment where parents could learn more about the school and feel more included in their children’s education.

So a huge thank you to Mrs Butterworth and all the staff and pupils at Lostock Hall. I was very gratified to receive this message from Mrs Butterworth after the visit:

‘Just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic day and for your  breath-taking readings . Your impact on our pupils’ enthusiasm for reading was tangible.’ What greater compliment can a writer receive?

The Nightmare Eater Begins To Feed!

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

nightmare eaterThe Nightmare Eater is here! And his diabolical presence is all thanks to awesome editor Adrian Cole and the fright-fans at Franklin Watts.

Adrian contacted me last year requesting a truly terrifying tale. He wanted something fast-paced and super creepy, with a strong lead character and a memorable setting. Oh yeah, and he wanted it all wrapped up in a punchy 3,000 words!

Now, for a long time I’d wanted to write a story set against the fairground world in which I’d grown up. For the first few years of my life, candy floss stalls and hot dog joints, shrieking rides and screaming klaxons, hook-a-duck games (which my great-grandfather always claimed he had invented) and spinning gallopers (merry-go-rounds, as they’re known to non-travellers) made up my world.

The Park 1

You know, fairgrounds are places of fun and adventure, but even showmen admit that there has always been a dark side to these touring carnivals. Sometimes this is an in-your-face kind of creepiness – the ghost train, the horror house, even the freak shows of the Victorian circuits – but there’s also another sort of spookiness. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it. Perhaps it’s contained in that moment when you walk through the Hall of Mirrors and, from the corner of your eye, you see a sudden flash and have the sense that, for a split second, some unknown figure is standing right next to you. Or the uncanny feeling that, behind the fixed smiles of the horror house dummies, a real smile lurks, and it is not a friendly one…

In The Nightmare Eater we are presented with a fairground of thrills and spills. A dizzying wonderland which tempts a young boy to break a sacred promise.

Fairground people are, by necessity, nomadic. They travel from place to place, rarely laying down roots, and sometimes they are discriminated against because they don’t quite belong. Often in our society immigrants suffer the same prejudice. In this story the son of an immigrant family journeys into the dark heart of a fairground and discovers much about himself in the process. In ‘Grimaldi’s House of Horrors’, young Tomasz  Kaczmarek will face a creature beyond his imagining, and must summon the courage to face it down.

For if he fails this Eater of Bad Dreams will devour all in its path…

I had huge fun writing this story. Trying to capture the elusive carnival world of my youth was a real challenge and a perfect joy.

So ROLL UP, ROLL UP! One ticket left to Grimaldi’s House of Horrors! Enter if you Dare…

Witchfinder Giveaway

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

To support the release of Haunted, I’m giving away a FREE signed copy of Witchfinder 2: Gallows at Twilight!

PICS

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave a comment below. A simple ‘Howdy’ will do!

In other news, I’m now preparing for the HAUNTED SCHOOLS TOUR. A UK-wide tour in which I’ll be visiting schools with the brand new SUPER-SPOOKY SUPERNATURAL FICTION SHOW. More about this in the coming weeks. For now, get commenting!

Competition closes Sunday 29th September.

PS – don’t forget to download my new FREE horror short story, TURN HER FACE TO THE WALL. Guaranteed to chill, the twist in this tale comes in the very last word! Just click here to download

Haunted: the full story

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

This week marks the Book Birthday (which just means it’s being published – hooray!) of Haunted!

I’ve posted quite a lot about the ‘big idea’ behind the book (basically, in 1920 famed inventor Thomas Edison claimed to the world’s press he was on the verge of creating a machine for speaking with the dead! No kidding, Google it!) and I’ve posted a few random and (hopefully!) intriguing quotes here and there, but I haven’t really said that much about the story itself.

So here it is. The story of Haunted, with as few spoilers as possible:

haunted_house

 

We begin with the adventure of a young boy called Henry Torve who, at the urging of his best friend, is about to break into FUNLAND, a derelict theme park that overlooks the little town of Milton Lake. To prove his guts and join a local gang, Henry must run the ‘Funland Gauntlet’ and return with the head of a mannequin from the abandoned park’s ghost train.

Only one catch. Funland is rumoured to be haunted. And not by just any old spectre, but the former owner, a certain Mr Hiram Sparrow. Eleven years ago, this Hiram lost his mind and engineered the mass murder of all the thrill-seekers who were visiting his park. Now his ghost is supposed to lurk in the dingy depths of the ghost train.

On that snowy winter night, in the dank corridors and dusty chambers of HIRAM’S HELLISH HORROR HOUSE, something terrible, something uncanny, something impossible happens to Henry. It begins with the ringing of an old-fashioned telephone, but that’s only the start of the story… (and you can read this entire chapter at the Amazon page here).

Old-Six-Flags-in-New-Orleans-looks-like-a-Post-Apocalyptic-theme-park

After this bone-chilling prologue we are introduced to our main character, Henry’s cousin, Emma Rhodes. When we meet her, Emma is trapped in a world of pain and grief caused by the accidental death of her little brother. But Emma will soon be forced to face the world again in a test that will demand every scrap of her formidable courage.

What exactly did Emma’s cousin witness at Funland to drive him out of his wits? Whose is the voice, so like her dead brother’s, that calls to her from the abandoned house across the street? And who is the brave and lonely stranger who’s made that ruined house his home, and whose damaged spirit calls out to her own?

As the snow falls and the town is cut off, a dark mystery threatens to engulf Milton Lake. From every period of its long history, the dead of the town are returning. Soon they will begin to claim the lives of its citizens as their own, for someone has discovered the fabled Ghost Machine of Thomas Edison and, unless Emma and her new friend can stop them, the dead will overwhelm the living. But the identity of the necromancer is not the only mystery.

For the stranger Nicholas Redway harbours his own secrets.

Secrets that will open Emma’s eyes to wonders beyond her imagining.

And terrors beyond her darkest dreams…

Review of HAUNTED by Olivia Clements (15)

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

It’s only a few weeks now until my new supernatural thriller HAUNTED goes on sale! This is always the most nail-biting time for a writer, waiting to see what the world thinks of his new book! Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the first official review from the people that matter most, my Young Adult readership, is pretty darn good. This is from Olivia, an avid reader and not your typical horror fan…

Haunted-5 front only

Haunted

By William Hussey

Review by Olivia Clements

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I don’t often read Horror books as they tend to scare me witless, so I was dubious about being handed this book. But, never the less, I stiffened my shoulders, turned on a bright light and turned to the first page.

What I found was a cleverly written, action-packed horror that asks the reader to imagine when haunting becomes real. It focuses on the idea of the spirits of the dead being called back to haunt the sleepy town of Milton Lakes in the bodies they once owned. Only one girl notices the dark intention of the townspeople’s dead ancestors, fights to stop it, and to protect the people she loves. Emma Rhodes, suffering after the death of her brother, meets Nick Redway, the mysterious boy who knows about the dead. And together they go on the terrifying task of finding the machine that started the danger, and sending the spirits back to where they belong. 

The main reason why I liked this book was the suspense. I was fascinated by the idea of the Ghost Machine, a machine built to bring back the spirits of the dead, and how it would be used. Hussey has put in enough suspense to ensure the reader gets thought it. The mystery of The Circle, and why they are bringing back the dead, keeps the reader going, biting their nails until the very end of the book. 

Another factor to the book was how much I liked the characters. Emma Rhodes and Nick Redway. They are wholesome and believable, which adds effect and makes the reader feel for them. Emma has lost her brother and blames herself. The way she is written gives her a sadder, lonelier side that makes the reader love and feel sorry for her. She is that likable, daring girl we all want to be and the writer has made her so real that she almost demands our loyalty and support.

But Nick himself is another great character. He adds to the suspense of the story with his hidden past that continues to elude us. His life is clouded with mystery which goes hand in hand with the horror of his task, to send the dead back to where they came from. His struggle to keep Emma safe and fight to save the town gives him a sad, but determined feeling that enforces the reader’s attention and backing. 

A book is only ever as good as it’s characters. If that is true then this one is brilliant. The main characters are likeable and real. Each one has their flaws and separate personalities. Their feelings come across in such a convincing way that the reader has to feel them as well. Even the villains of the story demand sympathy. You can never be fully angry with them because you can see their reasons and empathise with them.

The book also appealed to me because it was believable. Each character was written so fluently that it was easy to feel what they felt. Emma could have been your average girl in school and the fact that she saves the town gives a hopeful air to the book, encouraging others to be brave like her. Even the more magical sides to the book were handled well and effectively. There were no ‘crucial coincidences’ that can seem fake, it felt plausible and made for better reading through that.

The book ends with a sudden twist, ending in an almost gut wrenching way. It contrasts to many other books by having such a non-stereotypical ending, that stays with the reader for a long time.

I cannot do any more to recommend this book than by saying it was an emotional thrill ride for the reader and presented a firm, likeable array of characters, leaving the reader with a content, confident feeling long after the last page was turned.

Wow! Thank you, Olivia, you’ve made my day!

The Next Big Thing – HAUNTED!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Last week the supremely talented Sarah Pinborough tagged me in The Next Big Thing blog series. It’s basically a gang of writers helping to spread the word about their upcoming titles. My answers to the standard ten questions are below, I’ll then be passing the baton to the authors listed at the bottom. So here goes…

1. What is the working title of your next book?

HAUNTED (the working title was GHOST MACHINE). It comes out September 2013.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

HAUNTED is part of a loose series of books, each with different characters and settings but with the connecting theme of supernatural objects. I wanted each object to be a little left-field (not the overly-familiar Ark of the Covenant, Spear of Destiny stuff) and have space within its established history/mythology for me to play about, for example by introducing ‘celebrity’ historical cameos. I also wanted each object to have an emotional and thematic relevance for the characters rather than just be a cool MacGuffin.

In HAUNTED we are presented with the Ghost Machine, a device for communicating with the dead created by inventor Thomas Edison. Edison claimed in several magazine articles in 1920 that he was on the brink of creating such a device. He was, however, a notorious practical joker, especially with journalists, and so, after his death, the claims were dismissed as yet more tall tales.

In my story the mystic telephone was indeed created by Edison, but his horrific experiences with it led to a cover-up. At the start of the book, the machine turns up in the small English town of Milton Lake, where an unidentified necromancer begins using it to call the souls of the dead back to our world. It is then the task of Emma Rhodes, our hero, to locate the Ghost Machine before it goes it overdrive and the dead of Milton Lake overwhelm the living.

The theme of the book is the destructive power of isolation and the inability to communicate, emphasized by the object being a tool of communication and community.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Tricky one. The short answer is Young Adult thriller, but really it’s a supernatural whodunnit with elements of romance and historical adventure.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The main character is a young girl who feels responsible for the tragic death of her baby brother. Someone very soulful like Saoirse Ronan would be brilliant. The lead male character is this American kid – very dark and brooding. Ezra Miller, maybe? He was terrific in ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the dead rise, a haunted girl rediscovers her reason for living.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Represented by the very talented Veronique Baxter of David Higham Associates, published by Oxford University Press.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Research aside (about 2 months on that), the first draft was completed in three months. Then the real work began!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I was aiming for the haunting quality of Cliff McNish’s excellent ghost story ‘Breathe’ coupled with the town-in-jeopardy excitement of Michael Grant’s GONE series. I’m particularly pleased that Mr Grant has read HAUNTED and has given the book a fantastic cover quote: ‘A nail-biting chiller, which will leave readers begging for more. Be prepared for some sleepless nights.’

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love science and history and had read a fantastic (and exhaustive!) biography of Edison by the scholar Paul Israel. By some strange temporal alchemy, which every author relies on, I then saw an article about the Ghost Machine online. I had also wanted to write a book from a teenage girl’s point of view (I needed a challenge!), and this seemed the ideal subject matter.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Let’s see, we have: a theme park haunted by its mass-murdering owner; a haunted house cleansed by ‘soul-catchers’; a Byron-esque hero with some jaw-dropping secrets; an exorcism in a forest; an antique store called the Phantasmagorium full of supernatural curios; a couple of major plot twists; a chapter or two where we meet THE Thomas Edison; and, oh yeah, a town overrun by the ravenous dead!

 

And so to next week’s authors – 3 phenomenal talents who will be telling you all about their fascinating forthcoming projects on Wednesday 21st November:

Andy Briggs

David Gatward

Andy Remic

Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

MR James (1862-1936) is widely acknowledged as the master of the English ghost story. His tales of the macabre are not of the in-your-face, blood, guts and gore variety (although he didn’t write exclusively about creeping spirits and ancient revenants – his stories are, in fact, laced with demons and horrors of a more visceral nature). James has been a big influence on my work. I love the subtlety of his storytelling and the sheer weight of history and antiquity with which he dusts his tales.

For one week you can hear me read a brief, abridged extract from one of James’ most famous ghost stories, ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You.’ All you have to do is follow this link and click ten minutes into the programme.

You can also hear me talk briefly about how I got into writing and the HALLOWEEN STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT event which will be taking place on Thursday 25th October at Skegness Library. The reading is a little rushed as I had to get it all in before the traffic report! If you are intrigued by what you’ve heard I would thoroughly recommend picking up one of MR James’ collections. Details about the author can be found here.

The picture, by the way, comes from the BBC’s adaptation of ‘Oh Whistle’, starring Michael Hordern as the crusty, fussy Professor Parkins – a man haunted by the thing in the empty bed… Details of that wonderful interpretation can be found here

Caterham Kids Creepy Creativity!!!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

At the invitation of brilliant school librarian Jane Damesick, I recently visited the wonderful Caterham School in Surrey. I was due to hold one of my infamous Witch Trials on school premises (and, as usual, I found that the place was rife with foul sorcerers!). What made this visit particularly special, however, was all the amazing artwork and creative writing projects awaiting me in the library! One of the greatest hopes of any writer is to inspire other people – especially young people – to be creative, and so I was truly moved by all this terrific (and terrifying!) work kickstarted by the Witchfinder books. Jane has very kindly forwarded me lots of photos of the children’s ingenious pieces and I am determined to post all the pics here over the next week or so. Here’s the first batch of witchy goodness from the talented kids of Caterham! CLICK THE PICS FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK… IF YOU DARE!!!!

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