Footsteps in the Dark: anthology update

Covid-19 delayed the release of many books, including an anthology of Gothic fantasy short stories called Footsteps in the Dark, which I’m pleased to say contains one of my short stories.

The book also includes work by Ramsey Campbell and many more authors. You can read about the inspiration behind each story on the publisher’s website here.

The book is now available in the USA and Canada, as well as the UK.

 

 

 

 

 

New SF release: Visions IV: Between the Stars

New anthology published May 2016

 Visions IV: Between the Stars

visions IV space beyond starsThis new SF anthology includes my story – Paradise Saved – as well as many others. Visions IV: Between the Stars is a diverse selection of science fiction edited by Carrol Fix, each exploring the space between the stars. It contains short stories by J. Richard Jacobs, S. M. Kraftchak, Tom Olbert, Timothy Paul, Mark P. Steele , Emma TonkinJohn Moralee (Me!), Sidney Blaylock Jr. , Sarah Buhrman , Preston Dennett , Jeremy M. Gottwig , Margaret Karmazin , Jeremy Lichtman , Mary Madigan , and Jonathan Shipley .

Visions IV: Space Between Stars is the fourth volume of science fiction short stories from Lillicat Publishing. Like the previous collections, volume IV explores an aspect of space exploration. It includes fifteen stories.

I particularly enjoyed reading Sari Sari by Mary Madigan for its rebellious cyberpunky feel, which reminded me of William Gibson’s early work. It’s an excellent story with a strong plot and characters.

The collection includes stories set on space stations, asteroids, colony ships and even inside a black hole. Many stories made me think of the great stories from the Golden Age of Science Fiction, when writers like Asimov and Clarke wrote upbeat hard SF stories about space exploration, telling realistic stories about the men and women (and aliens) living in space.

Each story has been carefully edited by Carrol Fix, making it an easy read.

If you like space opera, I hope you’ll check out Visions IV.

This anthology is now available from the publisher and Amazon.

Lillicat PublishingAmazon US /Amazon UK

kuiper belt coverI’m pleased to also have a story in the previous anthology, Visions III: Beyond the Kuiper Belt. It contains stories by seventeen authors, imagining life on the edge of our solar system. Hard lives, hard radiation and hard SF, it’s a 305-page collection about space exploration and the future of humanity.

Ten Deadly Tales – charity anthology

Ten Deadly Tales

Ten Deadly Tales is a charity anthology of horror stories just released.  It includes one of my stories called The Cursed.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Deadly-Tales-Darkling-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00P4CBRF6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414935690&sr=8-1&keywords=ten+deadly+tales

‘Ten Deadly Tales’ is a collection of short stories and flash fictions from the darker side of life. Contributed by up-and-coming independent authors, this is an anthology for anyone who likes ghosts and gore, mutants and monsters, demons, death and everything in between!

All proceeds from this anthology will go to Derian House Children’s Hospice.

List of contributors: M.K. Feese , Glo Gray , John Hoggard , Sherrie Lee James , John Moralee , Jason Purdy , M. Sinclair , Bart Van Goethem , JC Mitchinson

US Amazon link for Ten Deadly Tales.

Interview In A Mirror

Interview In A Mirror

Today I’d like to interview myself on the subject of horror fiction. I’m not keen on talking about myself – so I hope I won’t ask myself some personal questions. I sit down and stare at myself in a mirror. I don’t like the guy staring back at me. He hasn’t shaved yet. He looks like a werewolf with a hangover, but he’s available for an interview because he’s got nothing better to do.

Questioner: Hello, John. You write horror stories. What’s the first horror story you remember reading?

John Moralee: That’s a good question. Let me think. Uh – Slugs by Shaun Hutson. No – wait. There was one thing before that – a scary collection of stories for kids that included a disturbing drawing of a banshee. I didn’t sleep for weeks after reading that book. I was scared of opening it to the banshee picture. Its dark red eyes seemed to stare out at me like it was alive.

Questioner: Going back a sec. Slugs is a gruesome and violent adult book. How old were you when you read it?

John Moralee: Ten.

Questioner: That’s young for reading an adult horror novel, isn’t it?

John Moralee: Yeah. I think I borrowed in from my local library on my dad’s library card. There was no kid’s section for horror back then – but you could see them around the next corner with their excitingly frightening covers. As soon as I had my own adult card, aged eleven, I think, I read all of the scariest books in the horror section, which was large in those days, much larger than it is these days.

Questioner: You must like libraries, then?

John Moralee: No – I love libraries. When I hear good things about a writer, I always go to a library and borrow their first book to see if I like their writing. If I like what I read, I’ll buy copies of their other work – as long as they are not too expensive. I would never have read some of my favourite horror writers if I had not found them in my local library aged eleven. I remember being scared of the picture on the cover of The Keep by F Paul Wilson. I just had to read it after seeing it. The Fury was another. And all of the books by Stephen King.

Questioner: Do you like writing short stories more than longer stuff?

John Moralee: No – but it is easier to finish writing a short story. I have a dozen incomplete horror novels in progress – but I’ve completed dozens of horror stories. It is deeply satisfying to finish something. You can do that with a short story in a few days or a week. But a novel is a massive project. It’s much harder to keep going. I have dozens of manuscripts of about 200 pages each. I intend to finish them eventually – so it is not completely wasted time. I like short stories because they are more manageable projects.

Questioner: What writer influenced you the most?

John Moralee: There’s not one writer – but dozens of them. I’ve always wanted to write – so I read as much as possible. I don’t limit my reading to one genre. I’ll read books I think I won’t like just to see what the author does with another genre. I started reading crime novels because I read the Agatha Christie books in my library. And I would not have liked science fiction if I had not discovered Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick. I’m a binge reader, easily hooked on reading everything by an author before moving on to another one. I buy all of their work until they write a dud – then I might stop reading them unless they return to form.

Questioner: You must have a favourite of your favourites?

John Moralee: I suppose it would be Elmore Leonard. He wrote about seventy novels. I’ve got them all on my shelves. His economical style and wit were an addictive combination. Other strong contenders are Ed Gorman, James Lee Burke, Donald Westlake, Ed McBain, Martin Cruz Smith, Ian Rankin, Paul F Hamilton, Ian M. Banks, Douglas Adams, Haruki Murakami, Scott Lynch, Dan Simmons and Jodi Picoult. There are dozens more when I think about it. Hundreds more! Honestly, I don’t have one favourite over the others. I like them all.

Questioner: In the horror genre, which is your favourite?

John Moralee: Well – there’s Stephen King because Skeleton Crew got me writing my own short stories. His books always have strong narrative drive. He can turn a simple premise into a brick-sized novel that manages to hook his readers because he delivers realistic characters in nightmarish situations. Salem’s Lot is a classic. There’s also Clive Barker. His imagination is incredible. I loved The Great and Secret Show and The Books of Blood. I also admire Peter Straub for writing Koko and Ghost Story. I also read everything by Dean Koontz, John Shirley, James Herbert and Robert Bloch. I was also addicted to the books by Richard Laymon before he sadly passed away.

Questioner: What books don’t you like?

John Moralee: I don’t like books where the end is too predictable. Or contrived. If the end is what I expected in chapter one, I always feel disappointed, like the author wasted my time. And I dislike so-called literary novels with no plot. I like plot – which is why I like crime novels as much as horror. Crime novels have to make some kind of sense at the end. I don’t like to finish a book wondering, “What was the point of reading that?” It must have a purpose – the telling of a story. I’d prefer a badly-written crime novel with a great plot over a stylistically beautiful literary masterpiece with none.

Questioner: Back to horror. What’s your favourite horror movie?

John Moralee: The Thing.

Questioner: The original version or the remake with Kurt Russell?

John Moralee: The remake. John Carpenter did a brilliant job of creating claustrophobic paranoia. The soundtrack was truly eerie. Very effective shocks.

Questioner: Which author do you admire the most?

John Moralee: I admire any writer capable of finishing a long work. It’s the hardest thing to do.

Questioner: That’s not a proper answer. Name someone!

John Moralee: Wow. You’re getting a bit aggressive, Mr Interviewer. I admire Dan Simmons for writing Hyperion. That’s my favourite SF novel of all time, along with its second part, The Fall of Hyperion. The complex plot has so many interwoven strands that all come together in a superb way.

Questioner: What are you reading now?

John Moralee: I always read about twenty or thirty books at once. They include Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, IQ84 by Haruki Murakami, Heart-Shaped Box by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill, plus a load of non-fiction.

Questioner: Would you like to tell me about your own horror collections?

John Moralee: I’ve self-published two horror collection on Amazon. They contain a variety of horror and dark suspense fiction written over twenty years. Some stories were published in books and magazines.

Questioner: Why did you self-publish them?

John Moralee: I decided to give it a go when Kindle Publishing started. I saw it as a great opportunity because it was better than leaving my stories on my computer where they were doing nothing.

Questioner: Have they been successful?

John Moralee: Yes and no. I feel like I’ve done something with them – so I feel positive about that. In terms of financial success, though, I’d have to say no. I would not call my self-publishing venture a financial success yet – but I don’t regret doing it. At least my stories are no longer just on my computer.

Questioner: What do you plan on doing next?

John Moralee: I’ll keep on writing stories because that’s what I like to do.

Questioner: One final question. Are you going to shave today?

John Moralee: I will if you stop distracting me with questions.

Questioner: Okay. Thank you for the interview.

John Moralee: You’re welcome. Is that it, then?

Questioner: Oh – what’s the web address of your books?

John Moralee: Um – I never know how to post those things on my blog. Ah – here is it for the UK and here for the US. Thanks for asking that question. Will you check out my books?

Questioner: No. I just want to know so I can avoid it.

John Moralee: Hey! I’m ending this interview now. Goodbye.

Questioner: You can’t get away from me. I’m always there – waiting for you in the mirror.

Appy Memories of Deathtrap Dungeon

Appy Memories of Deathtrap Dungeon

This week the BBC’s Click programme talked about a new app based on the Fighting Fantasy game books that I loved as a kid. Now a whole generation of tech-lovers can read Ian “Deathtrap” Livingstone’s choose-your-own-adventure books without the need for a pencil, paper, eraser and some tiny dice that always got lost under a piece of furniture.

I hope these new apps are a huge success like the original books. They turned me from a reluctant reader into a voracious one. Until I discovered them, reading was a chore I did at school. I didn’t read anything at home – until one day I saw Deathtrap Dungeon in my local Woolworth’s. The cover was incredible. It showed a frighteningly ugly monster with rows of razor-sharp teeth. It was covered with slime, wallowing in a pit of green acid like Jabba the Hutt’s nastier brother.

Amazed, I had to buy it with my pocket money.

Reading that book awoke my imagination – making me excited to read for pleasure.

Those FF books were my literary introduction to horror, science fiction and fantasy.

I’ll never forget reading them.

And now, thanks to the new app, a new generation won’t either.

Adventurer, you are about to read the end of this blog post.

What will YOU do next?