Saturday, 28 March 2015

Sharkpunk Saturday - Gary McMahon

Gary McMahon is the award-winning author of several novels and numerous short stories, who was described by The Guardian as one of the authors, "leading the resurgence of British horror fiction." So, as you can imagine, we were delighted when Gary said he would contribute a story to SHARKPUNK.

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks? 
Gary McMahon: I think it might have something to do with the beauty of the beast, and how much danger is wrapped up in that sleek, unforgiving package. There’s also the mystery of the deep to factor in: we’re all fascinated by the ocean, and what those deep seas might be hiding – things we haven’t yet discovered.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Silent Waters, Running Deep
GM: Well, I knew I couldn’t write a pulp horror story about a shark – that isn’t my style. So I imagined a kind of conceptual shark, one that might or might not exist in the real world but certainly existed inside a character’s head. The rest of the story followed on from there.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
GM: Nothing out of the ordinary, really, just the usual challenge of writing a decent tale. I needed to make sure that it didn’t lapse into melodrama, so I spent a lot of time on the tone of the piece, making sure I got that right.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
GM: It’s got to be the Great White – I’m sure that’s everyone’s favourite. I do also have a soft spot for the Hammerhead, though, because of how it looks. It’s a scary looking thing: monstrous.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
GM: Hookjaw, from the old Action comic. I loved that comic strip. It was gory, frightening, beautifully drawn, and really stuck in my mind. I remember a childhood friend had a Hookjaw poster on his wall. I was always jealous of that.

SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Gary McMahon? 
GM: I’ve been working on my next novel for over three years now, so I hope to get that finished and sent to potential agents before the end of the year. I have a short story coming in Black Static, and a couple of other commissioned stories that I’m working on now. There’s also a novella called The Grieving Stones due to be published by Spectral Press later this year to mark the fifth anniversary of the press.

Thanks, Gary!

Gary McMahon is the award-winning author of nine novels and several short story collections. His latest novel releases are THE END and THE BONES OF YOU. His acclaimed short fiction has been reprinted in various “Year’s Best” volumes. 

Gary lives with his family in West Yorkshire, where he trains in Shotokan karate and cycles up and down the Yorkshire hills. Website:

Friday, 27 March 2015

Gamebook Friday: The Trolltooth Wars, YOU ARE THE HERO, and Radio Saltire

First off, Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars on Kickstarter... This has already raised over £10,000 but there's still a fair bit more to raise and only 5 days to raise it in. Remember - Kickstarter takes no money from you unless the project achieves its funding level, and then the payment only goes through when the Kickstarter has run its course. So, if you've been thinking about it, or saying you'll back it tomorrow, back it today and let's make another Fighting Fantasy project a reality, thanks to crowdfunding!

Secondly, I was interviewed by Kevin Hall recently about YOU ARE THE HERO*. You can read the interview here. And on the same subject, thirdly, I am going to be on Kevin's radio show on Radio Saltire on Sunday (29th March) at around 3.15pm. So, if you're able, why not tune in?

* Which is now also available from Google Books!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

SHARKPUNK - The Forbidden Planet Launch!

I am very pleased to be able to announce that SHARKPUNK - the anthology of killer shark stories that I've put together - will be launching at Forbidden Planet, London, on Saturday 9th May at 1.00pm GMT.

I shall be there along with publisher Emma Barnes and twelve of the contributing authors - and you're all invited! So please share the Facebook event page, tell all your friends, and if you're in London on 9th May stop by the Shaftesbury Avenue store and say "Hi!" and (even better) buy the book! :-)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Sharkpunk Interview - Jonathan Oliver

Jonathan Oliver is an award-winning editor and the man in charge of not one, but three publishing imprints - Solaris, Abaddon Books, and Ravenstone. However, for SHARKPUNK he has brought his skills as an author to bear.

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks? 
Jonathan Oliver: They feel very alien, despite the fact that they are earth-based creatures and I suppose, in many ways, they represents the mysteries of the sea, the draw of the depths.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Peter and the Invisible Shark
JO: Short answer is: I have no idea. I just started writing and made it up as I went along. I knew that I didn’t want to have the story set in the sea, bizarre as that may sound, and I struck on the idea of it being a story about haunting early on. But mostly, I just made it up as I went along.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
JO: I suppose the main challenge was making the symbolic, real. To make the threat feel genuine and disturbing, when so much is about an individual who is disturbed. I think there’s enough ambiguity in the story that it allows for different readings.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
JO: Jaws. Though I realise that’s terribly boring. The original and the best.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
JO: See above.

SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Jon Oliver? 
JO: I have a short story appearing in a Jurassic London publication at some point in the future, and I’ll be collaborating on a novel later in the year.

Thanks, Jon!

Jonathan Oliver is the award winning editor of The End of the Line, House of Fear, Magic, End of the Road and Dangerous Games. He is also the editor in chief of Solaris, Abaddon Books and Ravenstone, and the author of two fantasy novels. He lives in Abingdon with his wife, two daughters and their cat, Fudge.

You can find him online at 
and on Twitter as @JonOlivereditor.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Sharkpunk Interview - Josh Reynolds

Josh Reynolds will be a familiar name to Black Library readers and fans of the Charles St. Cyprian Occult Detective stories. After all, as Josh puts it himself, he's a freelance writer, and good at it. Fortunately for SHARKPUNK, Josh has penned a brand new Occult Detective story for the anthology, entitled Deep Red Bells. Here are his thoughts on all things SHARKPUNK...

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks? 
Josh Reynolds: Can I say pants-wetting terror? No, but seriously, I'd guess its for the same reason that people are fascinated by wolves, bears, and any other animal big enough to eat us. There's a thin line between fear and fascination.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story, Deep Red Bells
JR: Mostly, I just really, really wanted to write about a ghost-shark... I'm a simple man, really.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
JR: The same as always, really. I know the beginning, I know the ending, but that bit in the middle? That bit's the annoying part of the whole deal.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
JR: I like hammerheads. They're just so freaky looking. Like, you know, one of those things... its a tool?... you use it to hammer things?...a wrench, that's it! They look like wrenches. Freaky.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
JR: Hookjaw. Hookjaw is the best.

SP: What's coming next from Josh Reynolds? 
JR: The third Royal Occultist novel, The Infernal Express, will be out later this year. It finds St. Cyprian and Gallowglass (the protagonists from Deep Red Bells) aboard the Orient Express, fighting to keep the skull of the world's most infamous sanguinary aristocrat out of the hands of vampires, secret agents and a Satanic cult. If readers want to catch up on all of the occult action before then, they should feel free to check out the first two books in the series, The Whitechapel Demon and The Jade Suit of Death, both available on or from the online retailer of your choice!

Josh Reynolds is a freelance writer of moderate skill and exceptional confidence. He has written a bit, and some of it was even published. His work has appeared in anthologies such as Miskatonic River Press’ Horror for the Holidays, and in periodicals such as Innsmouth Magazine and Lovecraft eZine. In addition to his own work, a full list of which can be found at, Josh has written for several tie-in franchises, including Gold Eagle’s Executioner line as well as Black Library’s Warhammer Fantasy line. 

And if, after finishing Deep Red Bells, you’re interested in reading more about Charles St. Cyprian and the Royal Occultist, make sure to check out

Thought for the Day

1. Get drunk
2. Get angry
3. Get writing"

~ BSFA Award-winning novelist, Gareth L Powell

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sharkpunk Saturday - Al Ewing and Sarah Peploe

SHARKPUNK - the anthology of killer shark stories coming your way in May from Snowbooks - features a couple of stories written by, well, couples. One of those pairings is comics writer and novelist Al Ewing and comics creator Sarah Peploe.

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
Al Ewing and Sarah Peploe: Due to the anti-shark propaganda of Hollyweird, sharks are primarily known for their violent consumption of people. Like most people, we're fascinated with anything that wants to violently consume us or otherwise end our sweet lives. Hence our continuing interest in sharks, and also the Truckasaurus, which waits.

Sharkpunk: What was the inspiration behind your story 'YOU ARE THE SHARK'? 
AE: We were in the pub, discussing collaborating, and I remembered an arcade machine from the early days of video gaming in which YOU WERE THE SHARK, which I'd read about in The Winner's Book Of Video Games, a bizarre tome devoted to achieving the highest score possible in the games available back then. It was full of Pac-Man patterns, tips to win Space Invaders (shoot the aliens, shockingly) and other junk of the era. So we figured that might be a good angle to approach the shark element.
SP: I grew up in Norwich, so I spent a fair bit of the summers (and winters and autumns and springs) in the various resorts along the Norfolk coast. I’ve always loved the sea, and more specifically the seaside. The British seaside, nothing compares to it. The meeting of the sand and sea and sky, Victorian architecture and neon, the forces of nature and civilisation, the illuminations and the limitless, salted dark. Hale knew. Also where else you gonna get an ice cream donut? But there’s also poverty, xenophobia, economic uncertainty, the North f*cking Sea in January. You can’t romanticise or sugarcoat that. Anyway I suggested the seaside setting, as this arcade game sounded like it’d be at home in the amusement arcades I used to like trawling around. Then we got to thinking about the kind of child who’d be attracted to this game, to the control and certainty and departure from reality that its name promised. The kind who’d have the tenacity (and maybe a dearth of alternatives) to keep playing and playing...

Sharkpunk: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
AE: It was fun to collaborate in a way we hadn't before - we ended up doing chunks of writing separately and sending it to each other, which we think is how Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman did it. Then we'd mutually edit and offer suggestions until the piece was ready to send off. One thing I tried to do was give the arcade machine a sense of reality without veering too far into dull Winner's Book Of Video Games-style descriptions of how to win at it - only the reader will know if I succeeded there.
SP: As for challenges, I was at work at the time, so often I'd be working STEALTH!, sneakily writing while sitting at one of the work computers in between issuing books/organizing book groups/wishing a protracted death on anyone who ever had a hand in the Universal Jobsmatch website. Also, we were writing about a lonely, alienated young female character, but I reeeaally didn't want to go all Exceptional Girl with her. I was excruciatingly aware that the scene in the kiosk could easily be all "Aw, isn't our protagonist just so Interesting and Special and Ravenclaw compared to this other bint?" So I hope we invested the other characters with enough agency and humanity to avoid that, but not detract from the main character's feelings of isolation.

Sharkpunk: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
AE: I don't know if we have a favourite species. Hammerheads are fun.

Sharkpunk: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
AE: My favourite shark is Gums, the shark from the old kids comic Buster, who was a shark with false teeth who kept losing them, rendering him harmless. He was a figure of fun for cruel fish and was helped, or possibly hindered, by an octopus friend who I seem to remember wore a hat? I don't have a very good memory of this character considering he's supposed to be my favourite shark.
SP: Right Shark. He learns the choreography, turns up on time and discharges his duties to the best of his ability but does anyone turn him into a meme? There's no justice this side of Heaven.

Sharkpunk: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Al Ewing and Sarah Peploe? 
SP: I'm part of a small press comics co-op called Mindstain Comics. We'll be exhibiting our special blend of excoriating dystopian scifi, psychological thrillers and vegetable-based juvenilia at various conventions across the UK this year... Other than that I don't know. Keep firing stories off and see which stick. Just like always.
AE: I've got some stuff coming up for Marvel - probably the biggest thing is a trio of Avengers specials where various Avengers of the past fight Ultron in the future. It's called ULTRON FOREVER, and it should be about right for kids from eight to eighty. And above, centenarians!

Thanks, guys!

Al Ewing is best known as a comic-book writer, having worked on Mighty Avengers and Loki:Agent Of Asgard for Marvel Comics, and Zombo and Judge Dredd for 2000AD, among others. He's also known for his prose work, including a trio of Pax Britannia novels for Abaddon Books, and his critically-acclaimed novel The Fictional Man for Solaris.

Sarah Peploe was born and raised in Norwich. She has since headed West/North, working as a student, a librarian, a life model and various breeds of office and retail monkey in the process. Her short stories have appeared in Hic Dragones’ The Hauntings Anthology, Cassiopeia Magazine, Murky Depths, Flash, 330 Words and one of Tiny Owl Workshop’s Krampus-themed Christmas crackers. She illustrated the poetry collections Ghosts at the Dinner Table, He is in the Stars, Livid Among the Ghostings and SALT/LOVE for Manchester-based performance poet Anna Percy. She also produces comics as part of Mindstain Comics co-operative, including Celeriac: Vegetable Spawn of Cthulhu, Convention (with George Joy) and Grunt8790 (with Steven Burton). She lives in York. Sundry yatterings @peplovna.